Spiritual practices for the modern age.
I often get messages from young people on the subject. They know that this world is temporary. Life is temporary. Life has ups and downs. So what is permanent? Is there anything called spirituality? What is it and what purpose does it serve? How can it be practiced and realized?
Our ancestors were masters on spiritual matters. Even today if we read texts that were written many centuries ago, the thought process was remarkable. I do not let go any material that I can lay my hand upon of ancient seers and saints. They were highly disciplined and focused. Even modern day saints were. Yesterday I was reading about Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar or Anandamurti ji. What a tremendous life, and what remarkable understanding! The modern saints are different in the way they have been able to integrate the spiritual and secular aspects of their lives. Mahatma Gandhi was such a saint.
What spiritual practices can we undertake in today's topsy turvy world? I think Sri Ramakrishna had put it across very well. Just remember God twice a day. That was all he said! But what of those who cannot do even that? To Girish Chandra Ghosh who was one such person he had advised, "Then give me the power of attorney", that is, transfer the responsibility or surrender. As Girish Chandra Ghosh realized, that was not easy, and he ended up becoming a saint himself. A remarkable transformation as anyone who has read about him would realize.
But we are intellectuals today. We cannot remember a God nor can we surrender to any higher power. So what should we do? Turn to Ramana Maharshi and he says, "Inquire about the "I". Now this becomes an intellectual exercise. Who am I? No need to ponder about it even. Just go on questioning. The "Who am I?" progressively leads to "I am". Troubled by this questioning and assertion the individual ego gradually dissolves leaving just the awareness. And that awareness is self realization. We are the supreme witness of all that transpires. The observer of quantum physics without whom no manifestation or activity is.
Stephen Hawking had argued, if there was a God or Creator he would be pre Big Bang. But as soon as the Big Bang was programmed his need would disappear. The world is a huge and intricate programme that nobody can interfere with. But what if God is that "nobody"? When you read about the complex character of Lord Shiva you realize that he is that "nobody". He is both saguna and nirguna - opposites. Logically he cannot exist, but then he is beyond logic and reason. He can only be felt deep within our core. He is the "I". But the mature "I" as Sri Ramakrishna used to say.
He can create and also has the power to modify creation according to his will. Thus he is the creator, sustain-er and destroyer. But then he too is always careful not to overdo things. That is why he is so difficult to please and achieve. Within the programming is also programmed our salvation. But if our desire is intense enough, he can indeed interfere. Sri Ramakrishna used to cry day in and day out for Mother Kali. And the Mother appeared before him.
It is up to us. We can be intellectuals and inquire. But we can also have faith and desire. Which path is superior? Maybe as far as our personal relationship with God is considered, all paths are the same. As Sri Krishna declared, "All paths lead to Me". But then the path has to be traveled.