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From External God to our own Mind

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

16 August 2021

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Not only for religious or spiritual pursuit, but also to deal with any behavioural or interactional problem in life, Poojya Swamiji’s prescription has been to shift our attention from external situation to our mind’s response to it.

When we look into Poojya Swamiji’s loka-saṅgraha over past six decades, the most striking note in his mission seems to be his untiring effort to shift the focus from external God to seeker’s own mind; in making people understand that the real purpose of all religious as well as spiritual practices is to purify and transform our own mind.

Poojya Swamiji has been ceaselessly trying to hammer into seekers’ minds that :

  • the focus of Bhakti-yoga is not God but devotee’s own mind and behaviour, which have to be embellished with devotional qualities;
  • the meaning of Karma-yoga is not getting engaged in more and more activities but to cultivate Samatva, the yogic orientation of the mind; and
  • the purpose of Jnāna-yoga is not just to gain spiritual knowledge but to pursue self-purification and self-transformation through contemplation on the Truth.

In essence, it means shifting the focus from outside to one’s own within. Not only for religious or spiritual pursuit, but also to deal with any behavioural or interactional problem in life, Poojya Swamiji’s prescription has been to shift our attention from external situation to our mind’s response to it.

By keeping God in the heavens and complacently expecting something to come from the blue, we make devotion stale, and miss the benefits it is meant to deliver. In this era of rationality, even time-tested religious disciplines are becoming obsolete because people are not aware of the real purpose and benefits of such disciplines. Poojya Swamiji has been exhorting devotees to question their devotion if by decades of worship they have not had any tangible outcome:

“We take food for our nourishment, the food does not get nourished! The worship is for us to evolve; God does not grow richer by our worship! In doing everything else you are analyzing whether you have got the desired result or not; then why only in the case of worshipping God you never care to think what has been the outcome of your decades-long worship?”

“God is a concept of human mind. The temples are erected by human beings. The idol is carved out of stone or wood or metals by human beings. Even the infusion of ‘life’ as well as special spiritual powers into the deity through consecration ceremonies, is done by the humans. That is why the chief priest is considered to be the father of the deity. All rituals and methods of worship are also devised by the humans for serving human purposes.”

Poojya Swamiji’s emphasis has been on constant awareness of the mind and effecting transformation of the mind through two-fold saadhana consisting of:

  • Meditative Introspection. Through meditation, scriptural study and contemplation on the Truth, the seeker has to discover his Real Identity. In the process, he realizes the true nature of the mind as well as our world-perception. He discovers that the source of joy and fulfillment lies within, not outside.
  • Interactional Sādhanā. It is the ceaseless practice of shifting focus from external situation to mind’s response to it and treating the mind with knowledge, so that any interaction will lead to inner expansion, enrichment and freedom, instead of stress, anxiety and bondage. It aims to transform every moment of wakeful life into spiritual pursuit.

Thus, Poojya Swamiji’s focus has been not to run away from life and interactions in search of Divinity, but to make all our life and interactions divine by this wholesome two-fold sādhanā.

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“The focus of Bhakti-yoga is not God but devotee’s own mind and behaviour, which have to be embellished with devotional qualities.”

“The meaning of Karma-yoga is not getting engaged in more and more activities but to cultivate Samatva, the yogic orientation of the mind”

“The purpose of Jnāna-yoga is not just to gain spiritual knowledge but to pursue self-purification and self-transformation through contemplation on the Truth.”

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