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Basics of spiritual life

CHENNAI DEC.3 . Human beings instinctively turn to God in times of distress and pray for His intercession to tide over difficulties. There is nothing wrong in this but one must pause to consider whether one should think of God only during a crisis. Saints instead beseech humanity to sing His glory with the mind contemplating His benevolent qualities and not for just mitigating one's sorrows. This is a very practical advice because by remembering one's travails during prayer the mind will not dwell on God; on the other hand when the mind is totally absorbed in His glory it will forget all troubles effortlessly and in the process earn spiritual merit also.

In his discourse, Swami Gautamananda said as long as the mind was engrossed in worldly engagements it cannot turn to God and hence every individual must strive to get over worldly attachments. For this one should develop the capacity of discrimination to understand that realising God gives lasting joy and that worldly pleasures are only fleeting. Moreover, if worldly experiences are analysed one can see that the proportion of sorrows is tenfold than that of happiness. Does this mean that one must renounce worldly life altogether? Certainly not. It is neither feasible nor advisable.

Saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa have taught that true renunciation is a change of mental attitude to life. Just as interest in an object wanes when something more valuable is obtained so also in life when a person tastes spiritual bliss worldly joys will pale in comparison. In fact, a devotee will even feel ashamed of himself that he had hankered after such transitory pleasures when he begins to derive joy from spiritual practices. Thus it becomes imperative to make it a practice of engaging in spiritual pursuits daily so that in course of time the mind will automatically be drawn to God in all circumstances.

It is not possible to develop dispassion suddenly; in some cases it may result due to personal tragedy but may not last. Detachment towards the world will develop slowly only by repeated spiritual engagement. In course of time with maturity the mind will develop the capacity to be unaffected by joys and sorrows. It is a rare individual who will seek God wholeheartedly but everyone has to make a beginning somewhere. Another requisite is total faith that one's happiness lies in the realisation of the spiritual goal and also the conviction that only one's relationship with God is permanent.

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