~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

First Steps In God Realisation

(By O.B.L. Kapur, M.A.)
The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
September 1935

THE way to God-Realisation is supposed to be laid up with great barriers and insurmountable difficulties-high mountains, abysmal valleys, roaring cataracts and thundering storms. Not altogether unjustified are these fears; for God-Realisation is not to be had merely for the asking and the doors to the kingdom of the Lord will not part at the mere repetition of some mystic words that opened to Alibaba the doors of the hidden treasure in the forest. But this difficulty is in no way peculiar to God-Realisation alone. The way to the attainment of any mundane object is likewise beset with innumerable hardships. The world, howsoever, transitory and shadowy in existence is not a dream-land in which the characters of the Arabian Nights perform their magic exploits and get what they desire without much effort or ado. If we want to achieve any mundane object, we have not only to desire but to will and act. Everything in the mundane world has got its price and we must pay the same before we may have it. The nobler the object we aspire to achieve the higher the price we must pay. We must put in the required effort and make the necessary sacrifice. To no worldly achievement does the way lie through a bed of roses. Everything is too dear for mere wish, and rightly has it been said that if wishes were horses even fools would ride. Every desire must excite efforts in order to achieve its end. Even for the sake of bread one must exert himself. The law of human life is, "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou earn thy bread", and no man can evade this law with impunity.

In the spiritual world and in the matter of God-Realisation the above law finds its true application. Seek and you will find, strive and you will achieve, attempt and you will attain. Lethargy will ever result in failure and effort will invariably be crowned with success. These axioms of worldly wisdom should not be misapplied on the path of spiritual endeavour. In the mundane world nothing is supposed to be so easy and so cheap as a mere desire would bring and nothing so difficult or hard to achieve as an honest effort may fail to win. In the spiritual world the unconditional service of the Lord is to be had for the asking. It cannot be had unless it is given. But the disposition to ask for service and to wait on the pleasure of the Lord for the causeless gift of the same is all that is necessary.

God is nearer to us than our heart if we have a sincere hankering for His service but if we lack this sincerity He is farther to us than the farthest star in the heavens. Sincerity does not mean to cherish the desire of serving God as one among many mundane desires but the desire for complete self-surrender and single-minded devotion to the Lord with the sole desire of ministering to His Pleasure.

"Burning like a steadfast star in the calm clear ether of the mind".

Human heart is a nest of desires for mundane enjoyment, but in the heart of everyman some particular desire reigns supreme desire for wealth, learning, lust or fame. One's life is moulded according to this dominant desire. A man desiring to amass wealth measures every single moment of his life and every single movement of his body in terms of pound, shilling and pence. He is always occupied with the thought of wealth and devising ways and means for its attainment. In the day he strives to fill his treasure chests; at night he dreams of gold mountains and diamond valleys; and the substance of his morning prayer is, "Lord grant me yet more wealth".

But the same money which a miser earns with such an enthusiasm and which he prizes even more than his life, a lustful squanders freely for gratifying the whims of his mistress. Not that the latter does not desire money but he desires it and hundred and one things besides, but what he desires most is the gratification of his lust. His mistress as the object of his lust is identified by him with his being and hence all his activities which he may be pleased to be either good or bad, great or small, are directed towards the unworthy object of his lust; she is imagined to be the be-all and end-all of his life in his state of temporary infatuation.

But in the heart of an earnest enquirer after Truth, a sincere devotee of God, the desire for ministering to the Pleasures of God reigns supreme. It is his summum bonum or the pivot on which the wheel of his life turns. Whatever he thinks, wills, or does, he does with this supreme end in view. The single hearted desire for attaining the Divine Feet of the Lord forms the pole star that guides him throughout his voyage across the ocean of life. His entire life is eager to consecrate itself to the service of His Lotus Feet. Even as a miser lives that he may hoard and hoard and grow richer every day, a lover lives that he may gain the favour of his sweet-heart and a scholar lives that he may learn yet more and more, the devotee lives that he may be nearer His Lord day by day.

Whoever entertains in his heart an earnest desire for the realisation of the service of God in the aforesaid manner, will find no obstacles in his way. The glow of the fire of his sincerity to obtain the Divine Feet of the Lord will destroy all difficulties that may from time to time seem to confront and confound him. The incessant flow of the infinite mercy of the Lord will wash away all the barriers that may come in his way, Indeed, there is nothing pertaining to the spiritual world or the mundane that may come between the All-Merciful Lord and the sincere seeker of His service. Provided one has the sincere hankering for serving God, the way to His Divine Feet is clear and smooth. But it is the sincerity that we utterly lack! We are at present only sincere in our pursuit of worldly objects, but sincerity for God-Realisation we have none! Our sincerity for the trifling objects of the world is shown by the way in which we weep, cry and go mad after them. How we knock our brains out to amass the trinkets of this world and how we shed our tears when we fail to get them! Our passion for lust, fame and wealth is infinite. If we had only an iota of desire for the service of the Divine Feet of the Lord, we would be surely blessed.

God-Realisation is thus primarily conditioned by hankering for His service that arises in the soul when he feels the utter worthlessness of all worldly aspirations. The real test of such sincerity is willingness to submit to the Feet of the Divine Master. The egoists and the empiricists puffed up with the idea of their self-sufficiency, are disinclined to admit the necessity of any spiritual agency on the path of God-Realisation. Against them the doors of the Kingdom of the Lord must remain closed forever. There is a big gulf between the phenomenal plane of the fallen souls and the Transcendental Realm of the Divine Lord, which cannot be bridged over without the aid of an agency of the Lord Himself. Such an agency of the Lord is ever present in the form of the Divine Master. He is always extending His Merciful Hand to the earnest and willing souls, and offering every opportunity to them to listen to His Transcendental Words, the rays of which entering every nook and corner of their hearts, dispel the gloom of ignorance clouding their vision, set them in the true path of God Realisation and lead them by the hand in the eternal activity of His service,

But the advocates of empiricism and the votaries of rationalism make a common cause against the position stated above and argue, "Why cannot the soul shift from the mundane plane to the spiritual, if it is credited with any individuality or freedom of will at all? If the soul has turned away from God of its own accord, why may it not of its own accord found a retreat from the world and go back to Him? If it can forge its own chains, why may it not break them as well?" Their arguments are based on a false assumption and they need to be enlightened on the point that the soul does not possess any power that it may call its own. All power is concentrated in the Lord Himself. He is the Fountainhead of all energy and all actions of the individual souls, as well as all transformations in nature, spring from Him. Not even a leaf can turn without His Will. The finite souls always depend upon His Mercy and their free will also is subservient to His. He being the only Master, the freedom of the finite souls is also permitted by Him. But they are, by their nature, only free to desire, wish, or aim at what they like to have, but they are not free to make anything serve their wishes. Unaided by the potency of the Lord, all their aims must remain unrealised and all their desires unfulfilled. It is a mistake, therefore, to think that the soul has the power either to attain God-Realisation or satisfy its desire of enjoying the objects of the mundane world without submitting to His Power. When the soul desires to turn away from God, feeling an attraction for the objects of the mundane sphere, it has to submit to the deluding or repelling Energy of God by which it is awarded a material body, equipped with the senses necessary to enjoy the mundane world. Similarly, when it wants to go back to God, it has to submit to His attracting or enlightening Potency which is manifested on the mundane plane in the form of the Spiritual Master. The finite soul must, in every case submit to the Power of the Infinite, because it has no power of its own. The conception of the Absolute as the Centre of all power, the Sole Monarch of the universe and the Immanent Regulator of the conduct of all finite souls, is essential to the maintenance of complete harmony. For, if each soul had its own power and was free to do what it chose, there would, in fact, be an infinite number of absolutes militating against each other in producing chaos instead of cosmos. The Monadism of Leibniz fails, because having once created an infinite number of monads of spirits each having its own power and free will, he finds it difficult to build a harmonious universe and is led to assume a "pre-established harmony", which he is not warranted by his premises to do.

In this way is established an ontological necessity of the intervention of the Divine Agency on the souls path of God-Realisation and an epistemological necessity of submission to the Feet of the Divine Master is entailed besides. The instruments of knowledge which a soul is equipped with in its fallen state are not capable of giving it the true enlightenment. Our senses and reasoning being themselves the products of the deluding Energy of the Lord, can only give us a perverted or distorted vision of everything to which they are applied. Even the so-called higher faculty of man, the 'higher understanding' or intuition to which some of the agnostic philosophers set much value, is nothing but a product of His deluding Energy. The highest praise that may be bestowed upon this faculty is that it may bring to light the non-manifest substratum of sense objects, which Locke calls 'substance' and which Kant terms as 'noumena' or 'the thing-in-itself' meaning thereby the objects as they are in their pristine purity uncontaminated by their contact with our sense organs. But any attempt on its part to penetrate into the spiritual realm which transcends both noumena and phenomena, would only bear out the common saying that fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Any person, therefore, travelling on the path of God-Realisation with his entourage of the equipments of this world, will be denied entrance at the very threshold of the Realm of the absolute.

In our quest for God we forget that His Nature is essentially different from that of the mundane objects and hence, our method of approach towards Him must also be different. Mundane objects we can perceive and know and, therefore, in our quest for them we are less likely to be deceived if we approach them directly, although even in their case we have also to seek the help of others. We find it necessary to learn the art of pottery from an expert for progressive efficiency. In the case of God-Realisation we can have no knowledge whatever of His Divine Personality unless His Divine Agent is graciously pleased to impart the transcendental knowledge. So long as we do not receive the grace of the Divine Agent, we do not even put the first step on the path of God-Realisation. Therefore, the utter necessity of submission to the Feet of the Divine Agent must strike any person who sincerely hankers after God-Realisation.

Persons who are not willing to submit to the Divine Agent of the Lord, are not His willing devotees. They are not permitted to know, and as a matter of fact, are also not eager to know anything about His personality. Their idea of God is a concoction of their imagination suited to dovetail their desire for self-gratification. They would not submit to the Feet of the Divine Agent because it would mean bidding good-bye to their suicidal so-called interests of the mundane world, cutting asunder the ties of relationship with mundane things and turning a deaf ear to their inviting calls for self-gratification. It is, in fact, the necessity of submission to the Divine Agent with one's body, mind, and soul by the abandonment of the desire for mundane enjoyment that makes the path of God-Realisation appear to be free of thorns. This sort of feeling, however, is natural to all souls in their conditioned state, when everything appears to them in its perverted form - when sweet tastes bitter and bitter tastes sweet. But once they surrender themselves heart and soul to the Feet of the Divine Agent, He is pleased to sprinkle upon them a few drops of water from His vessel of mercy and they wake from their torpor to find that what appeared to them as throns on the path of God-Realisation, are only the choicest blessings of the All-Merciful Lord.