The pandemic has brought challenges in its wake, unexpected demands and unforseen results. Many – including parents – have been challenged to rise to new situations that have not been envisaged. The cost of not being prepared is mental illness. This mental illness has afflicted those working from home, parents helping with home schooling, children and students separated from their friends and peers. We have an innate strength, the strength that comes from the Atma within.
It is taught that faith in oneself is equal to faith in God. Self confidence and concentration can achieve success in any human endeavour. In these days of the modern bop and fake news and FOMO (fear of missing out) many humans take as their authority and path in life what others say and gossip about. To do so is to base your life on something that is not based in experience but in gossip and false expectations appearing real.
Akshara Brahma Yoga (Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7) speaks of the imperishable Godhead. The atma (soul), too, is imperishable. What is not imperishable is the round of birth-death-and-birth again. One day we tire of these experiences and seek the return to our eternal source. How to do this? Most are afraid to speak of dying, and even, afraid to speak in the presence of the dying. Perhaps this selection from the Bhagavad Gita will explain why one or another guru tells those who surround the dying to chant the Om, the manifestation of Source and its creation.
Swami Aseshananda went to America to spread the word of Vedanta and remained there between 1948 to 1996, never to return to India even once. Such was his commitment to the vision of Sri Sarada Devi, his teacher, Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. It is said that when he bowed down in the shrine at the Portland Center, he seemed to melt to the floor.
In his extraordinary book Guru and Disciple, Swami Abhishiktananda gives a vivid and magnificent account of his meeting with Sri Gnanananda Giri, an Advaitic sage whom he met at his ashram in Tamil Nadu. He regarded this encounter as one of the high points of his life in India, for it was at that time that he recognised Sri Gnanananda as his guru. He spoke of his retreat with him as days of grace, “days of peace and fulfilment … when one was conscious of living at a spiritual depth in which the whole world of outward appearance has been left behind and one has come close to what is Real.” Indeed, he received from his guru the purest teaching of a jnani—which was none other than the timeless message of the Upanishads: Behind the appearance of the phenomenal ego is the Ultimate Reality, the eternal Self of All, which can be directly realised.
Adopt whichever tendency seems good to you. Since nothing but Atma exists, why do you seek for yourself the ghost or the illusion of the being of the universe, and why are you making yourself miserable by considering the universe a reality ? My advice to you is that you maintain the spirit of Brahmam in what is manifest as the universe, i.e. the universe is Brahmam, and Brahmam itself is the universe. With this firm faith, you should be established in the Atmic state. Do not consider yourself a human being; in case you do, you will sink to a low state. But in case you maintain the Brahmam-spirit in yourself, then you will be liberated.