On Prayer-From the Words of Mahatma Gandhi by Swami Sadasivananda

From a post by Swami Sadasivananda on http://blog.spiritualpracticeofbhagavan.org/

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“If we had attained the full vision of Truth,
we would no longer be mere seekers,
but have become one with God, for truth is God…
Prayer has saved my life.
Without it I should have been a lunatic long ago.”

“The meaning of prayer is that I want to invoke the Divinity in me. You may describe it as a continual longing to lose myself in the Divinity which compels us all. Prayer really is a complete meditation and melting into the higher Self, though one may occasionally lapse into it, as a child would call out to its mother “Ah, Ma!” In such an instance, the greater the distance between the child and its Mother, the greater the longing within the heart of the child. Thus, in the mind of the child, the Mother is present in thought. And thought, you know, has a greater velocity than light. Therefore though the distance between Him and me is told to be so incalculably far, in truth He is so very near.

There is an eternal struggle raging in man’s breast between the powers of darkness and light, and he who has the sheet anchor of prayer to lay upon will not be overcome by the powers of darkness. The man of prayer will be at peace with himself, and with the whole world. The man who moves about the world without a prayerful heart will be miserable, and also will make the world miserable. It is a universal experience that every calamity brings the sensible man down on his knees. Millions of human beings call out for God through prayer, thus the calamities of the world are seen as a means for self-improvement.

Prayers are the only way of bringing about orderliness, peace and repose in our daily practice. He who hungers for the awakening of the Divine in him must fall back on prayer.  But it is not the recitation of a set formula. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words, than words without a heart. It must be in clear response for the Spirit that hungers for us. Even as a hungry man will relish a hearty meal, a hungry soul will relish a heartfelt prayer.

I will give you a bit from my own experience, and from that of my companions, that he who has experienced the magic of prayer may go days together without food, but not a single moment without prayer. For without prayer, there is no peace.  It is so needful for me. When it springs from the heart. prayer needs no speech. It is an unfailing means of cleansing the heart from passion. But it must be combined with an atmosphere of humility. Our prayer is our heart’s step that reminds us that we are helpless without God’s support. The greatest of human endeavor is of no effect if it has not God’s blessing behind it! Real prayer is an absolute shield and protection against evil. But God does not always assent by our very first effort through prayer. We have to strive against ourselves. We have to believe in spite of ourselves. We have, therefore, to cultivate inimitable patience, if we are to realize the efficacy of the prayer. There is the darkness, disappointments and even worse, but we must have courage in us to battle against all these and not succumb to cowardess. There is no such thing as retreat for the man of prayer.

It may take time for the recitation to come from the heart, even as the seed that is sown has to be nurtured and bears fruit only in due season. If the desire to have God within us is there, progress however slow, is bound to be. Man cannot be transformed from bad to good overnight. God does not exercise panic. He too is within His own law. His law is written on the tablets of the heart. There can be no fixed role laid down as to when a devotional act should take place. It depends on individual temperaments. There are precious moments in one’s daily life, these are exercises intended to soften and humble and enable us to realize that nothing happens without His will, and that we are but clay in the hands of the Potter. These are moments that one can use when one’s need confesses ones weakness, asks for forgiveness, and strength to be and to do better. One minute may be enough for some; 24 hours would be too little for others.  For those who are filled with the presence of God in them, to labor is to pray. Their life is one continuous prayer, or act of worship. For those who act only to sin, to indulge themselves, and to live for self, no time is too much.  If they are patient and have the will to be pure, they would pray until they feel the definite purifying presence of God within them.

For us ordinary mortals, there must be a middle path between these two extremes. We are not as exalted to be able to say that all of our acts are a dedication, nor perhaps are we so far gone as to live purely for self. Hence all religions have set apart time for general devotion. I believe that prayer is the very soul and essence of religion and therefore prayer must be the very core of the life of man.”

A note from Swamiji on the source of the quotes above:  ” This was from a transcription I was doing of a speech,
in which the speaker was reading from an unknown compilation of all 100 of Gandhiji’s volumes!
But the words of this saint, not just Mahatma, are unmistakably Divinely inspired.

Photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marche_sel.jpg

Rekha Kalinda

Gandhi had his marriage arranged when he was 13.  His wife kasturba was then 12 years old.

My grandmother got married when she was 13 to my grandfather who was then 23.  Like most Indian marriages of those days, it was an arranged marriage. A 100 years ago, marriage of a girl at a young age before puberty was considered normal in India.

Today the legal age for marriage in India is 18 for girls and 21 for boys. However, according to researchers, the practice of early marriage still continues in some segments of Indian society. Studies have shown that almost a quarter of the girls are married before age 16. Almost half of all Indian women are married before turning the legal minimum age of 18.

The following is the story of a brave 12 year old girl, Rekha Kalinda, who said no to her parents when they tried to arrange her marriage. She told them that she wanted to stay in school and study.

“I was very angry,” says Rekha. “I told my father very clearly that this is my age of studying in school, and I didn’t want to marry.

Her protest reverberated through India and again brought this old custom in the spotlight.

Rekha says she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

Is she open to marriage eventually? “Anything after 18,” she says, “but not before 18 at all.” You can read the whole story at the following link.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0424/p06s07-wosc.html

Rekha Kalinda

Rekha Kalinda

Chair Yoga

Many senior citizens who lack flexibility in strength are discovering Chair Yoga.

Cecile Gegg, started teaching Chair Yoga for those who are no longer as flexible or as strong as they once were.

“Chair yoga is a relatively modern concept that is really big in California,” Gegg said. “It’s a way of adjusting yoga to our aging bodies.”

God Contact! by Swami Sadasivananda

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There must be implicit faith and trust in God in all that He guides us through. When we are sensitive and perceptive, through meditation, experiences that come to us seemingly from the realm of the Higher Mind – from the sixth ‘sense’ that we use to hear the whispers from Eternity – are in fact direct contact with God!

    In truth, when we experience that heartfelt Presence, it is not at all a “feeling” but a direct advent, a gift, from God to us. God teaches, God guides, God draws us unto Himself 24/7. This is His business, and His shop never closes. During our early morning meditations especially, everything is on sale at huge discounts. In fact the rules of the sale are: “What you can carry away in your cart (heart), is free for the taking!

    So what actually happens when we are taken up to heights of bliss that smother us within the embrace indescribable Love and Compassion? Just this, a revelation unfolds from within when the mind is rendered still and pure through the transforming power of meditation, especially on God’s Name. God manifests from the core of our being! The joy and the completeness felt is a gift that comes to us through the use of the Name of God, which in fact, in reality, caused inner vision. The Name invoked the Named! God was not wowing us, God was teaching us the way home.

     Let’s analyze what actually happens. We are pulled away from our repetitions of the Name of God, or purely Om, and given a glimpse and a taste of what lies beyond the sensual mind. We temporarily lose our lower form of individuality to worship and adore God! We possess, even for a moment, that which is our birthright. And God knows, we have struggled nearly a whole lifetime to see and taste That, which though ours by right, is daily assaulted by sorrow, doubt and unbelief.

    Where is the teaching in all this? Just this! We should begin experiencing this very thing outside of meditation – to invoke and dwell in loving union (yoga) with the Lord through the practice of the Presence of God. His Presence is the purest manifestation of love. Love itself is the actual form of God!

    “When we are busied, as well as while meditating on spiritual things, even in our time of set devotion, whilst our voice is rising in prayer, we ought to cease for one brief moment, as often as we can, to worship God in the depths of our being, to taste Him though it be in passing, to touch Him though as it were by stealth. Since you cannot but know that God is with you in all you undertake, that He is at the very depth and center of your soul, why should you not thus pause an instant from time to time in your outward business, and even in the act of prayer, to worship Him with your soul, to praise Him, to entreat His aid, to offer Him the service of your heart, and give Him thanks for all His loving-kindness and tender-mercies?

    “What offering is there more acceptable to God than thus throughout the day to quit the things of outward sense, and to withdraw to worship Him within the secret places of the soul? Besides, by doing so we destroy the love of self, which can subsist only among the things of sense, and of which these times of quiet retirement with God rids us well-nigh unconsciously.

    “In very truth we can render to God no greater or more single proofs of out trust and faithfulness, than by thus turning from things created to find our joy, though for a single moment, in the Creator. Yet, think not that I counsel you to disregard completely and forever the outward things that are around us. That is impossible. Prudence, the mother of all virtues, must be your guide. Yet, I am confident, it is a common error among religious persons, to neglect this practice of ceasing for a time that, which they are engaged upon, to worship and love God in the depth of their soul, and to enjoy the peace of brief communion with Him.” *

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“Just as the ankola fruit falling from the tree rejoins it, or a piece of iron is drawn to magnet, so also thoughts, after rising up, lose themselves in their original source. This is bhakti (Love of God). The original source of thoughts is the feet of the Lord, Isvara. Love of His Feet forms bhakti.”  (1)

“Know that the wondrous jnana vichara is only for those who have attained purity of mind by softening and melting within. Without this softening and melting away of the mind, brought about by thinking of the feet of the Lord, the attachment to the “I” that adheres to the body will not cease to be.”  (2)

“One must bring one’s thoughts to bear on God. By long practice the mind is controlled and made steady.”  (3)

“Love itself is the actual form of God.”  (4)


“In Thy Presence is fullness of Joy.

Good when he gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies.
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise.
Believe me, count as lost each day
you have not used in loving God.” *


                                                                    –    Brother Lawrence

* All sections in quotes within the body of the text are excerpts from a rare publication of the “Spiritual Maxims of Brother Lawrence” on the Practice of the Presence of God.
_________________________   
(1) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, recorded by Sri Munagala Venkataramiah, Sri Ramanashramam 2006, Talk 428.
(2) Padamalai, Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Recorded by Muruganar, Avadhuta Foundation 2004, p. 186. (Reference is to Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, vol. 7, verse 340).
(3) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, recorded by Sri Munagala Venkataramiah, Sri Ramanashramam 2006, Talk 91.
(4) Letters from Sri  Ramanashramam, Suri Nagamma, Sri Ramanashramam 2006, Letter #179.

Posted by Swami Sadasivananda at http://blog.spiritualpracticeofbhagavan.org/

Ethical Choices in Eating

Given the rising interest in sustainable living, more people than ever before are giving serious thought to their eating choices. This very interesting article in the Los Angles Times discusses the complexities of ethical eating along with related health issues. A number of authors and books and resources are mentioned.

Tackling the ethics of eating – Los Angeles Times