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YOGALife - Spring 1996
Table of Contents Om
 ·  Memories of Swami Vishnu-devananda:
- A Different Kind of Swami
- The Spirit of Renunciation
- Cherished Memories
 ·  The Yogi: Portraits of Swami Vishnu-devananda
 ·  Swami Vishnu-devananda speaks: Questions and Answers
 ·  Ekadashi
 ·  How to Get Vairagya
 ·  Brahmacharya
 ·  Sex is not compulsory

How to Get Vairagya

by Swami Sivananda

Swami SivanandaSleepless vigilance is necessary, if you wish to have rapid spiritual advancement. Never rest content with a little achievement or success in the path or a little serenity of mind, a little one-pointedness of mind, some visions of angels, or Siddhis, a little faculty of thought-reading, etc. There are still higher summits to ascend, higher regions to climb up.

The attraction for objects and ties of various sorts make a man bound to this world. Renunciation of all attractions and breaking up of all ties constitute real renunciation. That Sannyasin or Yogi who is free from attraction and ties enjoys infinite bliss and supreme joy and peace.
Fluctuation and imagination are the two seeds of the mind. Fluctuation is the fuel. Imagination is the fire. The unceasing fire of imagination is kept up by the fuel of fluctuation. If the fuel of fluctuation is withdrawn, the fire of imagination gets extinguished by itself. The mind becomes tranquil. It is withdrawn into its source, the Atma.

You came alone. You came naked. You came weeping. You will go alone. You go naked. You will go weeping. Why then are you proud of your titles, wealth and knowledge? Become humble and meek. You will conquer the whole world through humility. Become pure in thought, word and deed.
This is the secret of spiritual life. The Upanishads and the Gita harp again and again upon this note. To a passionate man there is much pleasure in this world. He runs after money and women. His mind is intoxicated, perverted and clouded. Poor man, he does not know what he is really doing.
But to a Yogi, a man of discrimination, this world is a ball of fire. It is a huge furnace in which all beings are roasted. The three kinds of heat, namely: Adhyatmika (internal), Adhidaivika (heavenly) and Adhibhautika (external) are burning him.

Friend! Is there any limit to the number of fathers and mothers and wives you have had in the millions and millions of previous incarnations? Yet this clinging and false ideas of relationship have not gone. Discrimination has not yet dawned. Are you not ashamed to repeat the same old process of eating, drinking and sleeping day in and day out?
You are proud of your titles and knowledge. Have you improved your life even a bit? What have you learned from the recent earthquakes? Are you attempting to reach the imperishable seat, wherein all desires and Trishnas (thirsting or internal craving for sense objects) are completely eradicated?
Are you endeavouring, in however small a measure it may be, to attain the highest goal of life, Atmic realisation, which gives immortality, bliss and peace? You are not crawling now. You have learnt to stand up and walk. You can think, reason out, judge, infer and ratiocinate.
Will you not utilise this precious life and all your various faculties in meditation and Self Realisation? Can you give me a definite word of promise to the effect? Speak to me the truth now. Climb up the ladder of Yoga. Drink the Nectar of Immortality.

Vairagya born of Viveka is enduring and everlasting. It will not fail the aspirant at any time. It is unlike the temporary Vairagya (dispassion) that comes to a woman while giving birth to a child or a person attending a funeral.
The view that everything in the world is unreal causes Vairagya or indifference to the enjoyments of this world and the other heaven worlds also. One has to return again and again to this earth plane from heaven when the fruits of good works are exhausted.

The same five kinds of enjoyment of sensual pleasure prevail in the heaven worlds also. But they are more intense and subtle. They cannot give real and lasting happiness to a Viveki.
He shuns all enjoyments of the heaven world also. He kicks them mecilessly. He is keenly aware of the pleasures of the three worlds and is convinced that they are only a mere drop in the ocean of Brahmic bliss.

Vairagya is not the mere abandonment of social duties and responsibilities. It does not mean simple physical detachment from the world. It is not obtained by running away to a solitary cave in the Himalayas.
It does not mean living on leaves and air. It does not mean wearing of matted-hair and carrying a kamandal made of gourd or coconut shell in the hand. It does not mean shaving the head and throwing away the clothes.

Vairagya is mental detachment from all connections with the world. That is all. A man may live in the world and discharge all the duties with perfect detachment.
The man who has perfect mental detachment while remaining in the world is a hero indeed. It is difficult because he must face the innumerable temptations of life at every moment.

Wherever a man may go, he carries with him his fickle, restless mind, his Vasanas and Samskaras. Even if he lives in solitude, still he is the same worldly man, if he is engaged in building castles in the air, and thinking of the objects of the world. In such case even the cave becomes a big city to him.
If the mind remains quiet, if it is free from attachments, one can be a perfect Vairagi even while living in a mansion in the busiest part of a city like New York, London or Bombay. Such a mansion will be converted into a dense jungle by him. A dispassionate man has a different mind altogether. He has a different experience altogether. He is a past master of separating himself from the impermanent, perishable objects of the world.
He has absolutely no attraction for them. He constantly dwells on the Eternal or the Absolute. He identifies himself every moment of his life with the witnessing consciousness that is present in pleasure and in pain, in joy and in sorrow, in censure and in praise, in honour and in dishonour, in all states in life.
He stands adamantine as a peak amid a turbulent storm, as a spectator of this wonderful world show. He is not affected by pleasant and painful experiences. He learns several valuable lessons from them. He has no attraction for pleasant objects nor repulsion for painful ones.
He knows quite well that pain helps a lot in his spiritual progress and evolution, in his long journey towards the Goal. He stands convinced that pain is the best teacher in the world.

Let me sound a note of warning here. Dear aspirants! Vairagya also may come and go, if you are careless and mix promiscuously with all sorts of worldly-minded people. You should develop Vairagya, therefore, to a maximum degree. The mind will be waiting for golden opportunities to get back the things once renounced.
Whenever and wherever the mind hisses and raises its hood (for the mind is verily like a serpent), you should take refuge in Viveka and in the imperishable fortress of wise, dispassionate Mahatmas. There are different degrees in Vairagya. Supreme dispassion comes when one gets himself established in Brahman. Now the Vairagya becomes perfectly habitual.

A man can develop inner mental detachment from pleasure and pain while living in the world. He should see that he is not carried away by the pleasant experience of the world. He should not cling to them. He should simply remain as a silent spectator.
If he thus practises for some years, every experience will be a positive step in his ascent on the spiritual ladder. Eventually he will be crowned with sanguine success. He will then have an un-ruffled mind. He will have a poised mind also.

A dispassionate man is the happiest and the richest man in all three worlds. He is the most powerful man. How can Maya tempt him?

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