Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
vestiges on the beach of time.
Before we do anything we must, of course, know why we're doing it. But if we observe precisely, we may see that utmost of our conduct are done mechanically. utmost of the time we aren't apprehensive why we do the effects we do. frequently we do effects because everybody seems to be doing them. A many effects we do simply because we like them, that’s all. Only when we're brazened with situations we don't delight or are hysterical to face, we break and say, “ Why this? Why me? ” If this why- questioning is made into a habit, we may be surprised to find that numerous of our studies and conduct aren't only gratuitous and useless but also frequently dangerous to us in the long run.
About studying great lives, we must begin by asking, “ Why? ” If we're satisfied with the answer to this question, we can go ahead with ourstudy.However, the study would not be worth the time and energy we may spend on it, If the answer fails to impress us.
What do we mean by “ great lives ”? We've great people in every walk of life. We've great leaders, great politicians( hmm, perhaps), great scientists, great explorers, great croakers
, great lords and queens, great masterminds, great mathematicians, great athletes, great actors the list is endless. To be a great leader one must, of course, study the lives of great leaders of the history and learn how they flourished and achieved success. An aspiring scientist has much to profit from the lives of the great scientists of the history whose fidelity and vision are responsible for the grand march of wisdom down the centuries. Lives of great actors would educate maybe further than the generalities and instructions that lie buried in the primers of acting.
The lives of spiritually illumined souls also fall into the order of “ great lives, ” but with one important difference. While in all other cases it's necessary to qualify the term by the adjective “ great ” — you have, for case, to speak of great actors to distinguish them from ordinary actors — when you speak of the spiritually illumined, the qualifier “ great ” is redundant. Every one of them is a saint, every one of them is great. There are no ordinary saints. Greatness is thick from saintliness.
Why should we take over this study? We should do it for at least three reasons education, alleviation and sanctification.
As spiritual campaigners we need education. We must have a clear idea of what the thing is. We must also know the path in a general way. Our practitioner is the stylish person to enlighten us in these matters. There are also the Holy Writ for guidance. In olden days the youthful votaries lived with their practitioner and so had the advantage of entering the Guru’s help and guidance at every step. moment this isn't possible for numerous. dubieties and questions crop up every now and also, and spiritual directors may not always be readily available or fluently accessible. Then the Holy Writ have a significant part to play. But numerous times we would n’t know which Book should be appertained to in a particular difficulty. also, the Holy Writ generally point out only the general principles, and we may have to work out their logical extensions and decide how to apply the principles in specific situations. This isn't always easy.
A study of the lives of saints overcomes all these difficulties. How the abstract principles of church can be made operative becomes clear from a study of their lives. How they replied to the different situations in life, how they dealt with the kind of problems that any of us may face any time, how they ordered and chastened themselves and crushed difficulties all this and much further is learnt from the study.
The purpose of learning this is, of course, to exercise it. The characteristics of a saint come the merits to be cultivated by those seeking for illumination. When this practice culminates in perfection, the merits we assiduously seek to inculcate come our own characteristics. This is the reason why the Holy Writ go to great lengths to describe the characteristics of an illuminated soul.( For further on this, please see Srī Śaṅkara’s commentary on Gītā, 2. 54.)
Take the life of Holy Mother Sarada Devi. She gave no lectures. She wrote no books. Outwardly her life seems to be ordinary. Yet the world has maybe not seen a more extraordinary person. Her life teaches us further than a library of books on gospel can ever do. We're charmed by her simplicity, her extraordinary chastity of body and mind, her fidelity to the ideal, her each- embracing love, and her tone- rendition to the godly at every stage of her life as a son in the vill of Jayrambati, as a woman
and convert of Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar, as the elder family and guardian of her three sisters and their families, and as the mama of all her sucker- children. The troubling and constantly fighting cousins that girdled her nearly throughout her after life present a familiar picture to us and we're at formerly suitable to identify with her life. Indeed, if we mould our lives on indeed a many assignments we get from Mother’s life, we need do nothing further.
This is true of the life of every saint. A godly life educates us about what spiritual life means, where it leads us, and how it has to be rehearsed. It's an education that reveals to us both the way and the thing.
A saint’s life not only educates but also inspires. Alleviation is power and is as necessary in spiritual life as energy is for a auto. We may know the way but if our auto’s tank is empty, the auto can not take us anywhere. This applies to spiritual life as well. Knowledge about the spiritual path is good and necessary, but in the absence of a driving force prodding us to move forward, this knowledge becomes only a useless burden. It's alleviation that generates this force and acts as the energy for our spiritual trip.
Truly spiritual people are rare, although people who claim to be spiritual are legion. Whether we like it or not, we've to live in the midst of people who are overtly or covertly worldly. The term “ worldly ” doesn't inescapably mean people who are bad or wicked. Indeed good people can be worldly. The worldly are those for whom the world is either the only reality or is infinitely further real than the spirit. The world draws their total being towards it. They may be seen to strive for church, but their attempts are generally partial- hearted and not robotic. In discrepancy, the “ spiritual ” are those for whom the spirit is either the only reality or is further real than — or at least as important real as — the external world. similar people may be in the world, but the world isn't in them. easily, the worldly far outnumber the spiritual.
As newcomers in spiritual life, if we're girdled by people who are worldly, their presence can impact us in a subtle way. Our attachment to the world, rather of getting reduced, may come more strong. We may do our spiritual practices, but they may gradationally come less meaningful and less authentic. Our original enthusiasm and zeal may wear down, and we may either continue our spiritual practice mechanically out of the sense of duty or we may give it up altogether.
Then comes the each-important part the lives of saints play. Seeing their lives at close diggings, we learn that spiritual life is worth all the struggle and rigors it may number. Hope dawns in our hearts. We discover the beauty of spiritual life in the lives of saints, and feel assured that we too, if we struggle intensively and unfeignedly, will discover the lightwithin.However, the coming stylish thing we can do is to hear or read about them, If we aren't fortunate to see similar lives with our own eyes. Their authentic lives, anchored in spirit, fill us with stopgap, faith and alleviation.
Alleviation plays a much lesser part in our lives than numerous of us are apprehensive of. Except for the purely mechanical acts of life, for every other exertion we need alleviation. important of the violence, juvenile delinquency, coitus and medicine abuse, and other crimes rampant moment are direct or circular results of “ alleviation ” deduced from the social media, crime- fabrication, pictures, and television. Alleviation to lead a spiritual life comes from living in the company of humorless campaigners and inferring elevating ideas from spiritual literature.
Only those who are inspired themselves can inspire others. Saints and mystics are huge budgets of alleviation. Indeed after their physical end, their alleviation lives on and nourishes us. A proper study of a saint’s life can not but inspire us. We can decide alleviation indeed from the lives of outstanding men and women who have reached pinnacles of excellence in other fields of exertion like art, wisdom and business. We learn from these lives the significance of tolerance, perseverance, and consecrating one’s life to attain the ideal — and we can apply it to our own favored field.
The quantum of alleviation we decide is directly commensurable to the quantum of sanctification we've attained. The introductory struggle in spiritual life is the struggle for chastity. Our true tone, the Ātman, which is pure and pristine by nature, seems to have come covered by contaminations of colorful kinds. The thing of all spiritual disciplines is really to wash down all the dirt covering the Ātman. Once the dirt is excluded, the Ātman shines forth spontaneously.
Among the disciplines typically employed for this purpose, none produces results as snappily as the company of holy men and women. The Bhāgavata(10.48.31) says
न ह्यम्मयानि तीर्थानि न देवा मृच्छिलामया । ते पुनन्त्युरुकालेन दर्शनादेव साधव ॥
Na hi- ammayāni tīrthāni na devā mṛt- śilā- mayāḥ,
Te punanti- urukālena darśanāt- eva sādhavaḥ.
“ It isn't that holy waters aren't purifying. It isn't also that godly images made of gravestone or slush aren't sacred. The sanctification they lead to is, still, attained only after a veritably long time, but it's brought about simply through the sight( darśan) of those who are holy. ”
We typically associate the conception of company with physical propinquity. But this need not always be the case. Indeed people living together may be long hauls piecemeal mentally and hence not in each other’s “ company. ” On the other hand, those who are physically far down may be veritably near to us mentally and we can enjoy their “ company ” every moment. A child may be far physically and yet remain always in the mama ’s heart. Space and time are no walls to a soul seeking the company of another. The study of the lives of saints and mystics really means being in their company.
The physical world we encounter is veritably real to us. In no way less real is the internal world, the world of ideas. It's in this inner world that we seek to live in the company of the holy. It's wrong to imagine that the illuminated bones
of the history are dead and gone, leaving behind only a record of their lives and training. numerous of the saints and pundits continue to live on subtler aeroplanes
, soliciting for all of us and for the good of the world. They help sincere campaigners of church in colorful ways.
The further we seek the company of saints and the more we fill ourselves with noble and elevating ideas, the further strength we decide in our struggle to reach the ideal. This inner strength comes from the purifying influence of the saints ’ lives and training.
We've seen that a study of the lives of saints gives us education, provides alleviation and becomes a source of sanctification. It educates us about the way and the thing of spiritual life; it inspires us to struggle to reach the thing; and it purifies us and makes us fit to travel on the spiritual path.
Would everyone witness these results no matter how the study is accepted? No. important depends on the system of study and important depends on us too. There are a many difficulties which can potentially arise.
The first difficulty arises if we've little knowledge about our own characters. Without at least a general understanding about our thing in life, our bournes , rates, solicitations and sins, we can not relate ourselves duly to the saint whose life we're trying to study. Unless such a relation is established, we can not decide important benefit. Our study remains academic and leaves no lasting print on our lives. Establishing a fellowship with the saint’s life really means connecting our life with the saint’s — and if this connection is genuine and grounded on a true understanding of ourselves, power flows into our life and brings about a vital metamorphosis, or at least a palpable intensification of our spiritual hunt. When we essay to relate to the saint’s life without proper tone- knowledge, we may fall into the alternate peril the appetite to imitate.
No life can really be duplicated. Every one of us is a unique existent. What makes people imitate others blindly is ignorance of their own oneness. utmost people are conscious or unconscious idol- worshippers. We tend to imitate whoever we respect and love. No person, said Samuel Johnson, was ever great by reproduction. Emerson went so far as to consider reproduction a form of self-murder. It's indeed a cerebral self-murder. One suppresses, nearly crushes, the natural growth of one’s personality, and attempts to mask it by the espoused personality of one’s idol. The result is frequently pathetic, if not also tone-destructive.
When we eat food, a portion of it's assimilated and the unwanted part is thrown out. What's assimilated nourishes us and helpsgrowth.However, it creates trouble within, If the unwanted portion is dammed from its way out. Same is the case with our study. The assignments we get from a saint’s life must be assimilated; that's to say, they must come a part of our system. The portion which isn't demanded must be kept out, differently it can produce trouble. To know what must be retained and what should be rejected requires knowledge of one’s own requirements and capacity to assimilate. What must immaculately affect is a natural flowering of one’s life, and not a simulated attempt at imitating external erraticisms and geste
of the saint. likewise, not everything that the saint did can be — or need be — rehearsed by us.
Yet another difficulty is the separation created by time and other factors, between ourselves and the subject of our study. To “ enter ” into a saint’s life we must be suitable to stamp the time- gap, and the differences created by race, culture, society, and religion to which the saint may belong. Only also will the true greatness of the saint be revealed. To judge a Western saint through Eastern ideals and vice versa, and to study a medieval saint from the ultramodern viewpoint would yield little spiritual benefit. The rudiments of saintliness don't change, but their external instantiations are generally colored by the times, culture, religion and society in which the saint is born.
One word more. We asked the question “ why ” in the morning and entered the answer that we should take up this study for education, alleviation and sanctification. Suppose we ask the question “ why ” formerly again.
Why do we need education, alleviation and sanctification? None of these is an end in itself. The ultimate purpose of this study — of all study, in fact — is that I must be myself. Vedanta says that we've forgotten who we really are. Ignorance has veiled our real nature from us. We've sort of come separated from our true characters. Our study should come a ground connecting us to our real inner being. Every one of us is a implicit saint and Jeremiah. Our study should unfold this eventuality and manifest the Child of Light, which every one of us really is.
‘ Take all the old dispatches, ” declares Swami Vivekananda, “ condense them with your own consummations, and come a Prophet unto others. Each bone
of these preceptors has been great; each has left commodity for us; they've been our gods. We laud them, we're their retainers; and, all the same, we laud ourselves; for if they've been Prophets and children of God, we also are the same. They reached their perfection, and we're going to attain ours now. Flash back the words of Jesus ‘ The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! ’ This veritably moment let every one of us make a loyal resolution ‘ I'll come a Prophet, I'll come a runner of Light, I'll come a child of God, nay, I'll come a God! ’’ ’( CW, 4. 134)