Swami Sivananda – September 5 2017

This world is your best teacher. There is a lesson in everything. There is a lesson in each experience. Learn it and become wise. Every failure is a stepping stone to success. Every difficulty or disappointment is a trial of your faith. Every unpleasant incident or temptation is a test of your inner strength. Therefore nil desperandum. March forward hero!
Swami Sivananda
 
Swami Sivananda, in his life before he became a spiritual teacher, was a medical doctor. In his autobiography he writes that his awakening began when he was made to understand it was unbecoming for him, a member of the Brahmin caste, to take fencing lessons from his teacher, who was what used to be called an Untouchable. Swami Sivananda had a waking-state vision of God entering the heart of his teacher, and knew in that moment the man was his Guru.
 
So I immediately went to him with flowers, sweets and clothes and garlanded him, placed flowers at his feet and prostrated myself before him. Thus did God come into my life to remove the veil of caste distinctions.
 
His work took him to Malaya, where he found himself serving people of all castes, all levels of society and, in confronting the enormous suffering experienced there, he began to ask himself what else is there to life, how does one achieve this something else, and then, how does one pass it on to others? He began to study the teachings of Vedanta and eventually left the medical profession and founded The Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, an ashram and publishing house that distributes free literature worldwide.
 
Swami Sivananda is a great example for those of us practicing our ‘householder’s technique’ of meditation. In his writings you see how for years he used his work and his life as a way to approach the Divine, as a way to purify himself more and more in order to become closer to his God. He makes it clear that anyone can do what he has done, if only they are sincere in their aspiration.
 
Cosmic Consciousness is not an accident or chance. It is the summit, accessible by a thorny path that has steps–slippery steps. I ascended them step by step the hard way; but at every stage I experienced God coming into my life and lifting me easily to the next stage.
 from Autobiography of Swami Sivananda 
 
He has written his own set of commentaries on many Vedic texts. What makes his writing stand out in comparison to some other teachers is how clearly it can be seen that he is writing in order to help others along the path that he himself has trod. He is not trying to make money or achieve power or aggrandize himself. He is holding out his hand to help those who might wish to follow in his footsteps.
 
The erroneous identification of the body with the [soul] is the root cause for human sufferings and miseries and for births and deaths. You identify yourself with the body and say, ‘I am fair, dark, stout or thin. I am a Brahmin, I am a Kshatriya (two different castes of the Indian caste system), I am a doctor’. You identify yourself with the senses and say, ‘I am blind, I am dumb’. You identify yourself with the mind and say, ‘I know nothing. I know everything. I became angry. I enjoyed a good meal. I am suffering from this disease’. The entire object of the Brahma Sutras is to remove this erroneous identification of the Soul with the body which is the root cause of your sufferings and miseries, which is the product of Avidya (ignorance) and help you in the attainment of the final emancipation through knowledge of Brahman (Totality).
 Swami Sivananda, from his translation of the Brahma Sutras
 
Swami Sivananda tells us in his own way the Truth that we must hear again and again and again, until it stays with us, until we begin to find evidence for it in our own life through our own senses: 
 
All is Totality. All is one. I am that one. I Am That.
 
To behold the Lord in every being or form, to feel Him everywhere, at all times and in all conditions of life, to see, hear, taste and feel everything as God, is my creed.
 
To live in God, to melt in God, and to dissolve in God, is my creed.
 from Autobiography of Swami Sivananda
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Today I will ask myself what is my creed, and if I don’t have one that is as clear as it could be, I will adopt that of Swami Sivananda for the day and see how it might feel.
Meditators, Sivananda Ghat, Ganges River, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand India
All original material copyright © 2017 Jeff Kober