Words of Nectar

Saints and Aspirants

Following are few quotations from various saints/spiritual aspirants; these should help a spiritual aspirant in his/her journey. Relevant source or book name/page number is mentioned below each quotation.

Ø What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ø ... That which is liberated is always life, not the individual. Indeed it is at the expense of the individual that such liberation is achieved. Life alone benefits by the transaction. It is true that the individual uniqueness, which persists on the both sides of liberating process, finds that, instead of belonging to the ego, it has really all along belonged to the life universal. But that discovery is made at, or after, liberation. The process towards liberation must always seem like killing out of individuality - hence it’s painfulness.
-The Mind of J. Krishnamurthi, P56

Ø Vedanta says maya means the lila of the lilamaya God. Maya is not an illusion or delusion nor even a theory. Maya is the description of the lilamaya God. This is the real conception of mayavada.
-Swami Bhaskareshwarananda, Talks on Jnana Yoga, P45

Ø ... ... so you should realize these three things:
i) No satisfaction in enjoyments. They are ever growing.
ii) It is a network.
iii) Good and evil, both are interconnected.
-Swami Bhaskareshwarananda, Talks on Jnana Yoga

Ø There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
-William Shakespear in Hamlet

Ø ... let God reveal and color your life, as He is, and as He wishes. Don’t seek to impose your petty ideals and specifications and get a limited response; that would be your own fault and loss. As such the best prayer of a seeker, in the path of Vijnana, would be, ‘O God, reveal yourself to me, as You are!’ Impose no condition from your side, and you will stand to gain. Another way of saying that would be, ‘Thy Will be done!’
-Light & Delight, Swami Sastrananda, P26

Ø ‘Why do you plan? Why are you scheming? Why do you look so far ahead? Let Mother plan. Her plan comes true. Human planning is all in vain if She does not consent. She knows what will happen. The future is an open book to Her. Live in the present; make the best of your time and opportunities. Don’t think of the future. Know for certain that ‘Mother’s Will’ shall come to pass. Trust in Her. Only try to love Her sincerely. Give yourself to Her. Let Her do with you as She pleases.’ ... ... ‘Trusting in Mother does not mean idleness. Try to know Her Will and then be up and doing like a man. Don’t you see I am never idle. The mind must be occupied in some way or the other. If you don’t do physical work, you must use your mind – read, study or meditate.’
-Swami Turiyananda, (God Lived with Them, P378)

Ø Pseudo-Vedantism has spoilt the country. They simply talk big. “He only exists”, "the universe is non-existent in the past, present as well as future” and so on. Nonsense! Do they mean anything by uttering those things! Vedanta can not be understood except through austerities.
-Swami Turiyananda, (Convesations with Swami Turiyananda, 2nd July 1920)

Ø Without the realization of the Spirit within oneself and in others, true sympathy, love, and service are impossible.
-Swami Shivananda

Ø The waking state is nothing more than a kind of dream when seen from the highest state, the fourth, and steps are to be taken to get rid of this dream and reach the super-conscious state, the only reality. Our goal is to make the ideal real; and what used to be real to us, must become unreal.
-Swami Yatishwarananda, Readings on Vedantasara, P33

Ø In dead matter God is, as it were, unconscious, A little more conscious in plants, still more conscious in animals, still more conscious in human beings, but most conscious in Great Incarnations and saints.
-Swami Yatishwarananda, Readings on Vedantasara, P51

Ø First we try to be the witness, i.e. first we are partly the doer and partly the witness, whereas the ignorant person thinks himself to be only the doer. As one advances, one becomes one becomes more and more detached, more and more the witness of everything, losing the ‘doer-mentality’.
-Swami Yatishwarananda, Readings on Drk-Drsya Viveka, P14

Ø That which is substratum of my own existence and that of the universe is the Highest Truth, the one without a second. ... ... witnessing itself belongs to the domain of phenomenon, but this attitude of witnessing is the highest rung of the ladder. Beyond that is the Absolute. ... .. ’The Self exists because we can never annihilate It’ (Sankhya-sutra) ... ... ‘य एव निराकर्ता तस्यैव आत्मत्वात्’ – ‘even if you deny your own existence, the denier is no other than yourself’ (Shankaracharya).
-ibid, P15

Ø Why should there not be misery and suffering in this world, when our whole life is based on falsehood, on insincerity, on what is not truth? The more of suffering and misery and pain, the better. That will give us a good shaking and finally wake us up. We think we are men, women, bodies, personalities, so-and-so, belonging to such-and-such place, which is all lies, all falsehood, which we are not. Everything in our life is based on falsehood, on false foundations, and then, one day the whole superstructure falls down and we suffer. Why not? The sooner this happens, the better. Blessed pain, blessed suffering.
-ibid, P47

Ø Those leading the higher life have become dead bodies as it were, have become dead men so that the Divine alone can manifest Itself through them and do Its work.
-Swami Yatishwarananda, Readings on Sri Krishna & Uddhava, P29

Ø Every aspirant should try to create this new thought: that we are spiritual entities, not men or women, distinct from body, the mind and all limiting adjuncts, and then steadily hold on to it at all times.
-ibid, P64

Ø The world, even if it exists, exists only as a shadow, not as a reality. It is only a figment of the mind. So long as the world is given a primary importance, primary reality, spiritual life can never begin... ...
... ... The trouble is that our mind is so out-going that ordinarily, to us the world is real, i.e. primarily real, but, as long as we have this attitude, there can never be any true devotion. God must be more real than the world.
As long as we do not even come to doubt the reality of the world, of our waking state, there can never be any real spiritual life.
-ibid, 15-16

Ø If some day you get a glimpse of the Truth, your whole body appears to you as a bundle of thoughts. Yes, the whole body may be reduced to a bundle of thoughts, and then at the back of these you see the glory of the spirit. ...
... By stressing the reality of the One, we must come to loose the wrong notion of the reality of the many. Sri Ramakrishna said, ‘Knowledge of the many is ignorance’. And as long as many, the phenomenal world in all its aspects, is being given a place of a primary reality, we can not proceed towards our goal. This is the most difficult task in true spiritual life. But we have to face it if we ever want to reach the goal and get a glimpse of the Truth.
-ibid, 22-23

Ø Spiritual life is never a negative life, not a negation, not a life of mere dispassion and ethical culture; it must be a life also of illumination and experience. But without sense-control, without ethical culture, there can not be any spiritual life, but moral culture alone is not everything in spiritual life, although it is a stepping stone.
-ibid, P80

Ø ... and it is a very slow and lengthy process, to convince ourselves fully that we have really no connection with the body, the mind, the senses etc. It takes a very long time, because ordinarily there is this out-and-out identification with all these.
We have formed this wrong habit through life after life, and now we must learn to think just in the opposite direction, and this so very intensely, that a new habit is formed and replaces the old one. This is not at all an easy task. If one would really, intensely, with one's whole being think that one is the SELF, one would become free this very moment. But we take just the opposite to be the real. so, in order to become free, what we need is first of all the cutting off of this false identification, and the best way to begin is to think we are not the body, not the mind, not the senses, neither men nor women etc. Through steady practice we are able to feel this more and more, and after that we may use the body, the mind, the senses etc. as instruments, but never identifying them in any way with our soul.
-ibid, P153

Ø The soul as such us infinite. We deny its infinite nature, and so it comes to us in the forms of the phenomenon. We want to realize the infinite in the finite. That is the fun of it! - we do not want to realize the infinite as It is, and now the infinite comes putting this garb of the finite, and we try to realize It in the finite. But the Infinite can never be realized in the finite. This is the whole contradiction of our life.
-ibid, P160

Ø ... This perceiver, the witness of the three states, is the inmost light of eternal Consciousness. Vedanta scriptures repeatedly describe the glory of this light, which is our true self. The consciousness that we experience in our waking and dream states, and even that which underlies our deep sleep, is a distorted, broken consciousness. Our true self is Pure Consciousness - Consciousness without an objective content. It is not bound by time or space or natural law. It is the most fundamental Reality in this world or any other.
-Swami Shraddhananda, (Seeing God Everywhere, P130)

Ø The grand maxim of our spiritual struggle is: ‘There is fear from the second.’ ‘The second’ refers to the idea of duality, our mistaken notion that something exists other than God. The quotation ‘There is fear from the second’, occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and refers to the unitary experience – the supreme spiritual unity of everything. This unity is our True Self, its nature is Pure Consciousness. Finding this unity is the goal of spiritual endeavor.
-ibid, P119

Ø What is the truth of my being? The Pure Consciousness, that’s all nothing else. That Pure Consciousness is called chit in Vedanta, in Christianity it is called the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore Jesus said, ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’.
-Swami Sarvagatananda, Prabuddha Bharata August 2008 P29

Ø When the class on the Srimad-Bhagavat was over, Swami Turiyananda said, "How nice is the state of Jivanmukti (liberation-in-life)! One cannot taste it without having the body. For, in the Pure Brahman, there is no knower or knowable. But in the state of Jivanmukti, even with this physical body one can have a taste of the impersonal condition. For, the person was once in bondage, and now he is enjoying the state of liberation. A moment ago, the world and everything existed for him, but now he sees nothing but Brahman. So he wonders, where is the world gone, which was seen even just before? At this stage, nothing can be understood: Where is the world gone? What has become of it? and the like. Once the problem was greatly exercising my mind, 'Why does the soul take up a body?' I searched many books and at last got the answer: 'It is to enjoy the bliss of Jivanmukti.' This caused me great delight.
-Conversations with Swami Turiyananda, 7th December 1921

Ø Perception is instantaneous: you understand something instantly or not at all; seeing, hearing, understanding are instantaneous. Listening and looking have duration.
-The Second Penguin J Krishnamurty Reader, P243

Ø Spiritual aspirants try to avoid the psychic plane and get into the causal plane, as it were. The causal plane is God as creator, the cause of this universe realized as Personal Being.
-Swami Prabhavananda, Prabuddha Bharata December 2010, P682

Ø Bhakti means "you i.e. God" is real while "I i.e. self" is unreal.
-The Saint of Gondawali, P256

Ø Bhakti can be defined as doing good works without attachment under the guidance of Divine Will.
-ibid, P212

Ø The common man derives God from the world. Saints derive world from God.
-ibid, P275

Ø "Lord! Let Thy Will be done" is the ground of contemplative attitude.
-ibid, P234

Ø Food becomes spiritual:
(1) If we eat when needed by the body,
(2) If we eat only as is needed by the body
(3) If we eat without being a prey to the taste.
-ibid, P223

Ø Nishkama-Karma is made up of two factors:
1) The Lord is the doer of all events
2) Man is merely an instrument in His hands to bring about the event.
-ibid, P215

Ø The Master [i.e. Gondawalekar Maharaj] again and again pointed out that God was everywhere only for the Saint and not for the seeker. The seeker has to meet God first in the center of his own soul. This experience itself automatically develops into the experience of God the all-pervading Reality.
-ibid, P135

Ø ... there are two extremes that a person on the path should avoid. One is to plunge oneself into sensual pleasures and the other is to practice austerities which deprive the body of the needs. Both of these extremes lead to failure. The path I have discovered is the Middle Way, which avoids both extremes and has to capacity to lead one to understanding, liberation, and peace.
-Buddha, (Old Path White Clouds, P146)

Ø Sense-pleasures are like a pit of fire. They bring happiness only to those who are ill. A healthy person shuns the flames of sense desires.
-ibid, P511

Ø Only with the arms (be they emotional, verbal or made of steel) can property be defended and conquered and in that way property and war becomes one and the same thing. However all this is covered with grotesque visage, it becomes necessary to rationalize, to cover a rotting interior with attractive gowns. And so sacred banners of combat are woven, such as mother-country, ideologies, vain interests, and the so called interests of the church.
-Brother Francis of Assisi, P160

Ø ... in Upanishadic thought and Sri Shankara’s philosophy, Brahman as the ever intuitively cognized Self within all (Atman) is the central concept – and not the purely transcendent Brahman, which is generally inferential and is realized by a few in the non-dual state of nirvikalpa-samadhi only.
-Swami Mukhyananda, (Sri Shankarachary: Life and Philosophy, P50)

Ø ... Brahman does not, exist and cease to exist, like phenomenal entities, but It is Existence itself, the source of all existing entities. Similarly, It does not possess consciousness, but It is Consciousness itself, the source of consciousness in all entities. It is not infinite in space or time, but It is their source itself. It is not endowed with bliss, but It is Bliss itself, the source of all joy in the world.
-ibid, P50

Ø Everyday we make so many sankalpas and strive to fulfill them, and this is the main cause of our attachment and connected problems. In order to stop making sankalpas we have to detach the will from desires which are produced by the stored up samskaras. This is what detachment really means. When this takes place, we remain a witness of our thoughts, desires and actions without being affected by them.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, September 1979

Ø Time in Indian thought is only an interval in timelessness, a gap in eternity. ... ... By annihilating time interval in consciousness man can rise to the Timeless again. But it is important to understand that time does not only mean a succession of present moments. Every moment leaves behind its impression, a seed, a samskara in the mind. Human life is not only facing the challenges of the endless successions of new moments but also bearing the heavy burden of past samskaras. These seeds of the past can be burnt up only through yoga. Yoga enables a man attain what the non-dualists call Jnana, the yogis call Prajna and the devotees call Grace, which alone can destroy the seeds of past time of karma.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, November 1979

Ø Association with life, integration by an agent (kartutwa), influence of desires (bhoktrutwa), moral obligation and the inevitability of cosmic result – these are these are the characteristics that distinguish karma from mechanical work. Sri Krishna refers to them as the five-fold cause of all actions – ‘Whatever action, right or wrong, that a man does by his body, mind and speech, is caused by five factors namely, the living base (body), the agent, the sense-organs, the movement of vital air, and the super-natural factor.’
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, January 1980

Ø Pure consciousness is ever free, bondage applies only to the will. It is will that is bound and so freedom applies only to the will. It is will that is bound and freedom really means freedom of the will. It becomes free when it becomes one with the Atman. Swami Vivekananda says, ‘That which seems to be the will is really the Atman behind, it is really free.’ In the vast majority of the humanity the will is bound by the desires, both good and bad. Freedom of will means freedom from both good and bad desires, freedom to remain as pure Atman. ... ...
... ... one of the most pathetic things in spiritual life is the inability of even good people to turn to God freely.
How does then the will become free? Every person has a limited degree of freedom of will, somewhat like the freedom of that a cow tied to a post has to move. It is by continually exercising this limited freedom that he really gets full freedom. Self-analysis and constant discrimination are great aids in this task. Another way is to pray to God intensely. ... ...
... ... The usual Sanskrit term for will is icchha, but this is also used to mean desire. The Gita uses a more accurate term for will: dhriti. It classifies dhriti into three types – satvika, rajasika and tamasika, depending upon the degree of freedom of the will - ‘That will by which the activities of the mind, sense and prana are controlled through unflinching yoga is satvika. That will by which Dharma, wealth and pleasure are pursued and which demands immediate results is rajasika. That will by which the stupid man holds on to sleep, fear, sorrow, depression and lust is tamasika.’
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, October 1980

Ø ... the spiritual heart, is the center of higher consciousness. It is the seat of Atman, the true Self. It is also the center where the devotee meditates on the form of his ishta-devata, Chosen Deity.
The true spiritual heart is not known to all. It is something to be discovered or awakened. Most aspirants when asked to meditate in the heart, succeed in concentrating only at the emotional heart and then gradually awaken the spiritual heart. But in the path of knowledge the aspirant goes straight to the spiritual heart through self-analysis. This is an important difference between the two paths. The true spiritual heart is beyond emotions.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, October 1981

Ø Behind the Bhokta or enjoyer (i.e. self experiencing happiness and sorrow) stands the Karta or doer (i.e. self as ego) and behind the latter the Jnata or the witness. These three selves represents three modes of our relation with the world. How do we relate ourselves to God? Neither as the enjoyer nor as the doer. Enjoyment applies only to the objects of pleasure and pain which God is not. Since God is the source of all power and movement, we can not realize Him unless we give up the false notion, ‘I am the doer.’ The first two modes of the self are unstable, being dependent on external conditions, and are source of all suffering and bondage. This leaves the witnessing self as the only way of relating ourselves with God. To love God as one’s Master, Father, Mother or Beloved is good, but is should not be done with the first two selves. Our true relationship with God will begin only after we have reached the witness stage.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, February 1982

Ø What we call life is a dialectic confrontation between sat (being, existence) and asat (non-being, non-existence). This is implied in the definition of life given by Swami Vivekananda to Maharaja of Khetri: ‘Life is the unfoldment and fulfillment of a being under circumstances tending to press it down.’ Being and non-being, affirmation and negation are the two poles of life. Life is thus a contradiction, a paradox. Almost all problems of life stem from this paradoxical nature of life. Animals do not feel it, man alone feels it. It is a peculiarly human experience. Man tries to restore this paradox through two complementary strivings. One is struggle to overcome non-being (asat) and the other the struggle to assert being (sat). ... ... The former manifests itself as fear or anxiety and the latter as un-fulfillment. How to attain freedom from fear and un-fulfillment: this is the main existential problem of man. ... ... Owing to ignorance, man forgets his divine nature and regards himself as a separate limited entity, the ego. It is this separation from universal life that produces the illusion of non-being and the consequent fear. ‘Fear comes only from duality,’ says the Upanishad. ... ... As long as the soul is enveloped in ignorance it can not understand the mystery of life. A final and comprehensive solution to the problems of life can be found only by transcending the ego. This is the unanimous verdict of all the sages and saints of India. They did not believe that man could find peace and happiness by changing his environment. The key to the solution of the problems of life lies within, but in order to find it, man must go beyond ego, transcend his senses. This is the Vedantic solution to the problems of life.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, May 1982

Ø In the jagrat or waking state man remains mostly in the external, gross space. In the svapna or dream state his ‘I’ moves in the mental, subtle space. In the sushupti or deep-sleep state his ‘I’ consciousness is withdrawn into the daharakasha in the heart. But owing to the covering of the ignorance, it does not come into touch with the paramavyoman, the infinite dimension of chidakasha. That is why nobody gets up from sleep with the feeling that he is the infinite.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, January 1983

Ø The enlightened spiritual aspirant, understanding the integral nature of life, willingly and consciously surrenders every part of his personality to the corresponding cosmic part of universal life – individual body to the Virat, individual prana to the cosmic prana, individual mind to the cosmic mind, individual spirit to the cosmic spirit. It is this yogic surrender that Patanjali calls iswara-pranidhana which he unhesitatingly declares to be a direct and quick means to super-conscious realization.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, February 1983

Ø Nowadays several popular books on Advaita are available which give the impression that the non-dual experience of Brahman is quite easy to attain. It is not the ego that merges in Brahman but the inmost self, Pratyagatman which remains eclipsed by the ego. The question of merging in non-dual Brahman arises only after the Pratyagatman has been realized. And for that it is necessary to transcend the ego first.
-Prabuddha Bharata Editorial, July 1985

Ø In simpler terms we may define spiritual life in the following way: whereas ordinary life is a struggle to transform animal consciousness into human consciousness, spiritual life is a struggle to transform human consciousness into divine consciousness.
-Swami Bhajanananda, Prabuddha Bharata, February 2012