Actualization and Fulfilment

From a lecture by Hari Prasad Shastri

We are in this life in order to fulfil ourselves and to actualize our higher potentialities. There is peace hiding in the cave of our soul. There is delight which surpasses all delight, and that delight is serene, not excitement or the fulfilment of desire. We fulfil ourselves when we realize what is already potential in our own being.

Yoga is actualization in daily life of God within and without. God is in the heart of each and everybody. In the Bhagavad Gita, as in other scriptures, the teaching is: ‘I abide in the hearts of all’. Oil abides in the seed but to extract it you have to press the seed; the seed must lose its identity. Such is the process of Yoga. It means actualization of God, who is potential in each and everybody, in daily life. It offers you nothing material, but promises that the light of God will be made manifest in your own soul.

The true Yoga and the meditation it offers is a way of life. Its spirit should influence our life throughout the day. It is a life to be pursued through action, thought, feeling and will all the day when you are awake; and when you go to sleep, fill your heart with the purest, holiest thoughts, so that even when you are asleep, those thoughts will be working in your subconscious, trying to create a revolution in your life.

The chief means of Yoga practice are will, memory and concentration. Will is a very great power in our life. If we know how to exercise our will, we can reform our life. We can create light, virtue, goodness within and without. Will is the motive power, the engine that supplies motion to the train of human personality. Let me give you an example of the practice of will in the yogic way. ‘I am bliss and infinite. I manifest infinity and serenity.’ You say this and you will it. Desires are fetters and are not recommended. Will is recommended. Will is applied by a master, desires are followed by a slave. By means of your will, you actualize the highest in you and in your surroundings, and change the general trend of humanity from error into truth. Will what is best. Will what is highest. Will what is most spiritual.

The second means of Yoga practice is memory. Memory has two phases: the life becomes subject to memory, or memory is subject to life. Life is subject to memory when we allow our memories to fill our mind without guidance, selection or control, so that our precious mental energy is expended with no set purpose.

The real secret of memory—when memory is subject to life—is to awaken those memories which make life sweet, peaceful, harmonious and creative. What are these memories? I remember a verse of a Persian Sufi which influenced my heart for a long time:

This life is not life. By life I mean the few moments I have passed In service of men of God—those steeped in virtue and wisdom.

That is real life—not the life which is passed in pursuit of sensation or excitement, but life is devoted to the company of servants of God.

You will say: ‘Where can we find servants of God?’ Christ is within you. What did St Paul say? ‘It is not I, but Christ who speaks within me.’ We can find servants of God in the pages of the Bible, the Gita, the Upanishads, and in the pages of the Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching, which we have published for this purpose.

Then the third thing which is most important in Yoga, is concentration. You will say: ‘You have not mentioned love. Everywhere they say God is love.’ Do not be misled by these words. The object of love is that it becomes a means of concentration. Love in itself has very little value. Its value is as a force for concentration— and concentration is creative. Unless you love the highest, that is, truth eternal, God, serenity—your love is of very little value. Whether you create in practical life or not, if you concentrate on a holy sage, on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, on your mantram, on your spiritual study, you can create light within you.

Will, memory and concentration—the instruments of the Adhyatma Yoga—are to be practised all the time. In one of his verses the poet saint Surdas says: ‘Every step that I take is towards you. Every thought that I express in my words is your adoration.’ If life becomes like this, it is the life of Yoga. Such a life creates serenity within, light within and without. To concentrate on one’s relatives and friends is useful, but there is a Sanskrit proverb: ‘All feet are included in the foot of the elephant.’ The foot of the elephant is so big that all the other feet one can think of are included in it. If you love God and his prophets and sages, if you love the supreme wisdom, you love at the same time to your best capacity, all your friends and relatives. If you know how to manipulate electricity, you need not worship the little lamp; you can create a lamp anywhere. If you think of God, beyond whom there is nothing higher, you love the reality in all. In every object or person we love, in everything we seek, there is nothing but: ‘I abide in the hearts of all. Nothing is excluded from Me.’ Therefore devotion to this universal principle as our own Self is the chief part of the spiritual Yoga.

Emotions are to be under will. Concentration on the highest is creative. Memory of the ever-achieved is the real memory. Memory is not creative; it is reiteration of what lies buried in your mind in the form of the impressions of past experience. What is the use of memory? By means of the wise use of memory you discover the highest in you. Discovering the highest in you, you remember it all the time.

The most important things in daily life are serenity, equanimity and concentrative devotion. The first thing in life is serenity. ‘Those people whose mind is established in equanimity, in serenity, their mind is established in God.’ In the Bhagavad Gita the word ‘equanimity’ is used as an equivalent of God. You cannot be serene if you allow little desires of the world to overpower your mind. You buy a special cake to offer the guest who is going to visit you that day, but if you are negligent, the mice creep into your larder and begin to help themselves to the cake. Our worldly desires are like those mice which raid the cake of serenity and wisdom, and not only eat it but taint it with poison. What will you desire, when all perfection is at your command—when the kingdom of heaven is within you? ‘Within’ means it is your real self. The life of serenity contains all we need, for in it there arises the abundance of peace, will and wisdom.

Concentration has a great part to play in our life. Be careful what you concentrate your heart on. Each and every desire you concentrate your heart on will be fulfilled either today or tomorrow and may prove a source of suffering. Therefore, will shows mastery, desire shows slavery. If you want to be a master, utilise your will.

Yoga is realization of the ever-achieved. Yoga is not achievement of something new. It is not a grafting of something on your soul. It is not something you do not possess already. Anything which is achieved is subject to loss some day or other, because it operates in the realm of relativity. Anything functioning in the realm of relativity is subject to achievement and also to loss. Aristotle has said that we live in the world to bring into actuality all the potentialities of the soul. Such potentialities are serenity, creative peace, all expanding light leading to the consciousness of immortality and infinitude of the soul. Immortality means consciousness of infinitude, and infinitude and immortality are spoken of in the Upanishads as synonymous.

If we want to live this Yoga, we have to practise it all the time. During my Himalayan pilgrimages, very often I had to climb on slopes of tremendous height subject to landslides. My porter said to me: ‘Sir, take every step very carefully. Look before you place each step, because if you miss one step you fall into the abyss of the river, which is about 5000 feet below.’ Therefore the Yoga is to be practised every minute in life—not a second is to be wasted.

What is that—how are you to know that—which is not subject to achievement, of which you have not the least doubt, about which you need neither a Goethe nor Christ to tell you? That is your ‘I am’ and when ‘am’ is changed into infinitude, it becomes ‘I am bliss and infinite.’ Then you are on the way to realize the highest in life.

It is for you to achieve it. No power on earth can confer nirvana on you. You can have the help of God. Shrimad Bhagavat says: ‘By His compassion He restrains the darkness in the hearts of all.’ Let us meditate on Him who is truth, who is transcendent. But the grace of God is not like the rain which falls from heaven. You have to discover the laws by observance of which you can have that grace, which is already there. God himself is grace and grace is God. You can have that grace if you follow the law, through the right use of concentration, memory and will in service of virtue, truth and light within and without.

If you have followed me in this introduction I am quite sure that you are entering into the eternal life—the life of light and wisdom, the life in which all that is to be fulfilled is fulfilled once and for ever.

This article is from the Winter 2016 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.