Amrita Sootra, the aphorisms

When Amma speaks, She often uses illustrations and parables to help us grasp the subtlety of Her spiritual message. This section offers a collection of Amma’s aphorisms, colourful analogies which, on contemplation, will help us to enjoy the beauty of life.

On Worldly Life

“It is possible to reach your spiritual goal while leading a family life, provided you remain detached, like a fish in  muddy water. Perform your duties towards your family as your duty towards God. In addition to your husband or wife, you should have a friend and that should be God.”

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“Why do parents love their children? Because they came from their flesh and blood, and because they grew up with them. It is not love, it is a selfish attachment. Otherwise, wouldn’t they love all children equally?”

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“Do not abandon your wife or husband and children but let your higher bond be with God.”

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“Worldly love is like being caressed by someone with poisonous hands. It brings happiness for a short time, then a lot of suffering follows. It is like the honey on the tip of a needle. If you try to enjoy the honey, the needle will pierce your tongue.”

Scriptures, Knowledge and Experience

“A belief obtained through telling, hearing and reading will not last long. Whereas, the faith gained from experience will last forever.”

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“Attending a lecture on the theory of cooking will not remove hunger. Knowledge alone is not enough; to practice what we grasp intellectually is more important.”

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“Spirituality is an experience. To really know it all interpretations and explanations should end. There should not be any inner talking or any judgements. All interpretations are borrowed ideas. They are all repetitions. Spirituality can be experienced only in stillness and silence.”

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“What difference is there between someone who gives speeches and a tape recorder? Will reading cookbooks satisfy our hunger?”

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“You can train a parrot to say: ‘Brahman, Brahman.’ But when a cat comes by, it will cry in fear. Instead of just repeating words, we have to absorb the principle.”

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“Following the Path of Knowledge without devotion is like eating stones. We should think that God is our own Self and worship Him seeing all forms as different aspects of the same God.”

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“You have heard that honey is sweet. You may put some in your hand. But unless you taste it with your tongue, you cannot experience the sweetness.”

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“Can you explain the beauty of a flower, or describe the sweetness of sugar? So how can the beauty of the Infinite be described? It has to be experienced.”

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“Repeating, ‘I am Brahman’ without doing any sadhana is like calling a blind child by the name ‘Prakasham’ (light).”

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“Is it enough to sit in a parked car staring at a map? Satsang only teaches spiritual principles; we have to put these principles in to daily practice and live according to them in order to move forward on the spiritual path. This is why sadhana (spiritual practices) is performed.”

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“If we put the different parts of a radio together in the proper manner and connect it to a battery, then we can hear the programs broadcast by a distant station while sitting in our own home. By living according to the spiritual teachings, we can enjoy infinite bliss even while living in the body.”

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“When we are hungry we eat just enough food to appease our hunger, and not all the food in the kitchen. Many scholars waste their lives eating the whole thing.”

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“Scriptures, like a signboard, point the way; in order to reach the destination, you have to follow the instructions and move forward, not stand reading the board again and again.”

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“Many scholars are like those who stay at the railway station memorising the train schedule. Will they reach  anywhere?”

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“By eating the picture of a banana, you won’t get the taste or nourishment of the fruit. Scriptural study is necessary, but sadhana is needed to benefit from it.”

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“We spit out the residue after we enjoy the juice of the sugarcane. In the same way we should take the essence of the scriptures and discard the rest.”

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“Vedanta has nothing to do with reading or giving speeches. It is a principle to be adopted in daily life.”

On Sadhana (Spiritual Practices)

“If you think you will jump in the sea only after the waves subside, you will never be able to go in the water. Don’t think you can pray and communicate with God only when your mind is pure. Don’t delay starting spiritual practices.”

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“God in us is like the tree within the seed. How will it sound if the seed claims, “I am a tree!” The seed has to go under the soil, sprout and the seedling has to grow up.  This is why spiritual practices are performed. When the seed becomes a tree we can chain an elephant to it; but if we don’t protect it in the early stages, birds will peck it.”

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“When you sow a seed, it needs to be protected from the sun. But once it has grown into a tree, it will have the strength to withstand the sun. Similarly, a sadhak should eat simple sattvic (pure) food in the beginning.”

Environment

“Apple trees need a suitable climate to grow. The ashram is the most appropriate environment for spiritual practice.”

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“Going to an ashram or a temple is fine, but our main aim should be to purify our mind. Countless trips to holy places won’t do us any good if we cannot remove the selfishness in us and our hatred towards others.”

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“There is wind everywhere. Still we use fans, don’t we? Isn’t the comfort we get in the shade of a tree something special? Temples are places where God is remembered constantly. There is a special peace and coolness in the temple environment.”

Discipline

“Those who have the habit of drinking tea at a regular time will get a headache if they don’t get their tea. If we make a schedule for all our activities and strictly observe it, it will develop into a habit. It is highly beneficial to follow such a routine in one’s sadhana.”

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“Don’t you take sick leave when you are not well, even if there is a lot of unfinished work in the office? In the same way, even when you have responsibilities and work to do, try to set aside one day for sadhana.”

Mantra Japa

“Children, when your mind is restless try to chant your mantra. Don’t seek solace in anything else. Like children repeating songs while sitting, walking or going to the bathroom, always keep repeating your mantra.”

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“Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see any results in spite of all your effort. Each repetition of the mantra has an effect, you are just not aware of it.”

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“To constantly remember God is not your habit; to cultivate it, japa is the prescription.”

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“It is not possible for everybody to fix his or her mind on the Supreme Principal just through meditation on the Self. But Japa and singing devotional songs are a way that suits everyone.”

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“A doctor will prescribe medicine and tell the patient to take rest and avoid certain foods for the disease to be cured. Similarly, the Rishis have taught that if a mantra is chanted in a prescribed way, then certain results will accrue. If we follow their instructions meticulously, we will definitely get the fruit of it.”

Meditation

“If a person who doesn’t have the strength to lift more than forty kilos suddenly lifts a hundred kilos, he will stagger and fall. Similarly if you meditate more than the body is able to bear, it can lead you to problems.”

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“Any work you do while keeping constant remembrance of God is of the same value as meditation. When fishermen put a boat out to sea, they close their eyes and with
loud cries push hard to get past the waves. Everyone rows hard without stopping until they get beyond the waves. After that they can set the oars aside and rest. It is the same with meditation. In the beginning stages one shouldn’t even rest for an instant.”

Tapas (Austerities)

“An ordinary person can be compared to a small candle, while a person doing tapas is like a power transformer, capable of distributing power over a wide area.”

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“To pass an exam you have to study. To drive a car you have to learn driving. Tapas is the training you undergo to transform the impure mind into a divine mind.”

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“The result of doing tapas can be compared to the sun acquiring a wonderful fragrance.”

Solitude

“We have to prepare the field before sowing seeds; we have to get rid of weeds and plough the earth. As the crop begins to grow we have to keep removing the weeds. But after the plants are fully-grown we don’t need to worry about the weeds. The plants are strong enough to resist them. Similarly, in the beginning stages a sadhak has to do Sadhana in solitude.”

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“When you pump water to a higher level, you won’t succeed if there is a leak at the bottom of the system. In the same way we need to give up our external interests by doing Sadhana in solitude.”

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“We go to an open field to learn how to drive. Likewise a sadhak should do his practice in solitude.”

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“A student cannot sit and study in a noisy crowded railway station, can he? Similarly a sadhak needs solitude in the beginning. After a certain amount of practice he will be able to meditate under any condition.”

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“There may be waves in the water of a dam, but no water is lost. But if the dam breaks, all the water will go away. There may be thought disturbances in solitude but a sadhak loses his subtle energy when he talks and associates with others while doing his practice.”

Karma Effect

“If you turn on the main switch, electricity is available everywhere in the house. But if you want light in your own room, you have to turn on the switches in that particular room. Turning on the light in one room doesn’t automatically light up all the rooms. Everything is the same Self, but only the person who purifies his mind through Sadhana realises that Self.”

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“You are like a small table lamp that gives just enough light to read a book, if the book is held close to the lamp. But if you do Sadhana with strong intent and eliminate the ego, you will shine like the sun.”

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“Chanting a mantra, meditation with concentration and other spiritual practices performed sincerely can remove the bad astrological effects of planets more effectively than anything else.”

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“Think of a pool with brackish water. If you pour a little water into one side of the pool, you reduce the amount of salt in that area for a while. But if it rains heavily for a while, the entire pool will be affected. In the same way, from doing spiritual practices with an expansive mind, an infinite power awakens in the seeker. This doesn’t happen to a scientist, because his object of meditation is limited.”

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“Doing good deeds, going to temples and ashrams and engaging in thoughts of God; all spiritual practices make our prarabdha (present’s life karma) lighter. Destiny can be changed through tapas (austerities) and Sadhana. Even death can be averted.”

Siddhis

“Realisation is beyond all siddhis (spiritual powers). If you ask God only for siddhis, it is like struggling to reach the royal court and asking for a few gooseberries when you get to meet the king.”

Forms of God and Goddesses

“Children need some beads or marbles to learn how to count. Once they have learnt, they no longer need them. With the help of a floating log, you can easily learn to swim. Once you know how to swim, you don’t need the log. Similarly, once you imbibe the essence of Spirituality, you don’t need temples and rituals.”

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“If you look at a painting of your father, is it your father or the painter that you see? God is everywhere, but still when you see the image in a temple, you remember Him.”

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“It is easier to catch a chicken by offering it food than by chasing it. Through name and form the mind can be brought under control.”

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“When a policeman appears in his uniform, people around him follow order and discipline. But when he comes in off-duty clothes, the people’s attitude is different. This is the importance of the outside form.”

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“When we get on a bus, we are not planning to live in it, are we? Our aim is to reach home. It is the same with the worship of forms.”

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“A flag is more than a piece of material. It symbolises an ideal. That’s why people won’t tolerate any disrespect shown towards it. In the same way a temple is a symbol of God.”

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“The form of the chosen deity is like a ladder. Just as all shadows disappear at high noon, all forms will equally merge in the formless.”

Goal of Life

“You can take birth in a temple, but don’t die there. That is to say that, in the beginning, a seeker can do temple worship as stepping stone, but the final and real goal is beyond all these things.”

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“Sadhana should become part of our nature, like brushing our teeth and taking a bath.”

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“Asking how many times one should chant the mantra is like asking how much water should be given to a plant for it to yield fruit. Watering is required, but the amount of water depends on the nature of the plant, climate, quality of the soil and so on. Water alone is not enough. The plant needs sunlight, fertiliser, air, protection from pests, etc. Similarly on the spiritual path, chanting the mantra is only one facet. Good deeds, good thoughts and association with virtuous people are also necessary.”

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“We may have a musical talent, but only if we practice regularly can we become a good singer.”

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“Travel can be done by water, air and land, but the destination will be the same. Similarly, all the different methods of sadhana will lead to the same goal.”

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“If you do spiritual practices and still get involved in a variety of worldly things, all the power gained through concentration will be lost.”

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“A pot that has contained something sour has to be cleaned thoroughly before you can put milk in it. Otherwise the milk will go bad.”

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“If you have an examination or a job interview, will you say you were late because there was no water or electricity? You should do your sadhana with the same attitude.”

On Qualities of a Spiritual Seeker

Detachment

“A coconut seed cannot sprout before it falls from the mother tree. Detachment is necessary for spiritual growth.”

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“Just as the flower falls when the fruit takes shape, worldly desires will disappear when detachment ripens.”

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“A spiritual seeker shouldn’t maintain his family bonds. That is like rowing a boat tied to the shore. No matter how hard you row the boat, you won’t get to the other  shore. Attachments are a hindrance to spiritual progress.”

Discrimination

“If we know that fireworks are being shot, the next bang won’t startle us. In the same way, know the nature of this world and do not lose equilibrium.”

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“With fire we can burn down our home or cook our meal. With a needle we can pierce our eye or stitch our clothes. Move along your path with constant discrimination.”

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“When we know the juice is inside the fruit, we peel the fruit and throw the peel away. With such an attitude, a sadhak will look for the essence of everything.”

Learning from Sorrows

“If a thorn pricks your foot when you walk, you will step more carefully. Thus you may escape falling into a ditch that may be just ahead. God gives us small sorrows to save us. Learn to see all the joys and sufferings that come to you as sent by God for your own good.”

Faith

“A person who believes in God and follows the spiritual principles as his ideal cannot become a slave to bad habits. If you have firm faith in God, there will be only happiness in your life.”

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“It is not enough to believe in the doctor, you have to take the medicine that he prescribes to get cured. Likewise both faith and sadhana (practices) are needed.”

Alertness

“Some people working night shifts at factories don’t sleep for two or three nights in a row. Still they don’t fall asleep in front of the machines. If they lose concentration even for a moment, they know they would lose their hands and jobs as well. So they manage to keep awake. We should have the same alertness and wakefulness when we sit for meditation.”

God Awareness

“There are no obstacles on the path of a person who is constantly aware of God. For him, all situations are regarded as favourable.”

Looking Within

“A musk deer searches for the source of the fragrance of musk, but it won’t find it, because the fragrance comes from within itself. Bliss is not to be found outside of us; it exists within us.”

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“The keeper of a wild animal has to watch it all the time. But the keeper of a garden just has to keep watch at the gate, enjoying the sight and fragrance of flowers.  Likewise, if you go after worldly life, your mind will bother you constantly; if you turn your attention within, you can enjoy the beauty of life.”

Compassion

“No one can experience the Self until his heart is filled with compassion. You cannot build a house just by piling up bricks; you need cement to hold the bricks together. Similarly, we cannot build the steps leading to God without adding the binding quality of love.”

Forgiveness

“Suppose you accidentally poke your eye with one of your hands. Your other hand doesn’t slap the hand that hurt the eye. You simply forgive your hand. Similar should be the attitude if others hurt you. Returning anger with anger is like poking a wound; forgiveness is like applying medicine.”

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“When you accidentally stumble against something, your foot is hurt. Sometimes you accidentally cut you hands. But you don’t get angry towards your hands and legs, because they are parts of your own body. Look upon others as being parts of yourselves. Then you will forgive those who do harm to you.”

Patience

“Don’t feel bad if someone speaks ill of you. Isn’t it because of darkness that we see the light? The seed of courage sprouts only in the soil of patience.”

Good Company

“The company of dark-minded people is like entering a room full of coal. Even if we don’t touch the coal, our bodies will be black when we come out.”

Tyaga (Renunciation)

“Every act done without a personal interest is tyaga . Taking your sick child to the hospital under adverse situations is not tyaga; when you do that for somebody else’s child that is tyaga.”

Love for God

“A real sadhak doesn’t do meditation according to some schedule; his love for God is beyond all rules.”

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“To someone who has a fever, even sweet things will taste bitter. Similarly if you have the fever of love for God, your mind will not go towards anything else.”

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“A sadhak should have towards God the same attitude that a lover has towards his beloved.”

Intent on the Goal

“When you set out with a strong desire to reach a certain place, no obstacle can stop you. Such should be your intent for your spiritual goal.”

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“When two lovers are sitting together, they won’t like it if anyone comes near them. Similarly, a real sadhak doesn’t like anything that is not related to God.”

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“Students who want to pass an examination will not feel like sleeping. They will stay up at night and study. Such an attitude comes naturally to a sadhak.”

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“Think of someone who cannot swim properly and falls into deep water. How hard he will struggle to save his life. You have to keep a similar constant urge to reach your spiritual goal.”

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“If someone smeared chilly paste all over your body, think how you would struggle to escape the burning. You should pine to see God with the same intensity.”

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“Suppose strong winds and heavy rains start just as we are about to go somewhere. If we become scared and stay back, we won’t reach our destination. One who has a strong desire to reach the goal will ignore all obstacles and go forward.”

Surrender

“If a thread is thick or out of shape, it will not pass through the eye of a needle. The thread has to be compressed. That surrender on the part of the thread enables it to sew together countless pieces of cloth.”

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“We have to explain the background of our case to the lawyer; we have to describe our symptoms to the doctor. But we don’t need to present our problems to God. He knows everything. So surrender everything to Him and remember Him constantly.”

Humility

“The bubbles in the water will break if we try to pick them up. Attachment and aversion are not things that we can pick up and discard. We should recognise that we are God’s instruments and develop the attitude of a servant.”

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“Think of yourself as God’s servant. Then you won’t feel angry with anyone. You will become humble.”

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“However powerful a cyclone is, it cannot do anything to a blade of grass. All grace will flow to us if we are humble. God will not abide where there is ego.”

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“The seed contains the tree, but if it is left lying in the storeroom, mice will eat it. Only by going under the soil will its true form emerge.”

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“The road signs glow when the lights of the approaching vehicles shine on them. Can the road sign say: “Those vehicles run because of my light.”

Compassion

Spirituality starts with compassion and ends in compassion. When we put a stone in a pond, ripples radiate from the stone and touch the shore. They then come back and reach the center. It begins with the center and ends with the center- the bindu. This central point is Love.

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On our Attitude towards Others

Happiness and Sorrow

“There are two kinds of happiness and sorrow. When we don’t get what we want, we feel sad; but when others get what they wish, our sadness is even greater. Similarly, we are happy when we succeed in something, but we are happier when others fail. This is a serious disease of the mind. Pray for a heart that rejoices in the happiness of others and empathises with their sorrows.”

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“Praying to God that none of our thoughts, words or deeds will ever harm anyone, but that they will always benefit others is real prayer.”

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“Sadhana doesn’t mean just praying and doing japa; real prayer includes being compassionate and humble towards others.”

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“A mother does not mind cleaning up the mess of her baby, because she feels the baby is hers. We should have the same feeling towards everyone, and then we won’t feel any aversion or disgust.”

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“Just as the right hand comes to dress the wound on the left hand, we should see another person’s sorrows as our own and come to his or her aid.”

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“We won’t be admitted to God’s world without the signature of even the smallest ant on our entry papers.”

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“We will deserve realisation only when we see in a beggar the One whom we prostrate to in the temple.”

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“The sin of causing tears in an innocent person is more harmful than any evil deed.”

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“There is a difference between buying medicine to relieve your own pain and going out to get medicine for someone else. The latter shows a loving heart.”

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“If others throw thorns at you, you should be able to throw flowers back at them. If others give us poison, we should give them sweets. Sadhana is to cultivate such a mind.”

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“To wash away the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, use the soap of ‘you’.”

Anger

“When you get angry, you loose energy through your eyes, nose, mouth, ears and every pore of your body. Only by practising mental restraint can you preserve the energy gained from sadhana.”

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“Doing sadhana while harbouring anger and desire is like drawing water from a well with a bucket full of holes.”

Anger and Pride

“You won’t benefit from sadhana if you do spiritual practices while harbouring anger and pride. It is like a flashlight running on batteries that looses all power after being turned on a number of times.”

Heart and Intellect

“The intellect always cuts and divides like a pair of scissors. The heart sews things together and unites like a needle. The tailor uses both.”

God Within

“A diamond has a natural brilliance, but when it falls into oil it looses its luster. Similarly, we are not able to recognize God within, because we are immersed in the material world.”

Imbedded Tendencies (Vasanas)

“The lonely jackal reassures himself that he will not howl the next time he sees a dog. But when he sees a dog he forgets everything and starts howling loudly.”

Reincarnation

“Last month we learned a song and we can’t remember it now. But can we say we didn’t learn the song? It may be impossible for you to recall your previous lives, but a pure soul can.”

Experience

“Even an inexperienced driver can drive a car in an empty field. But only a good driver drives safely though crowded streets.”

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“Liberation Irrigate the field of the mind with the water of devotion; sow the seed of knowledge and reap the fruit of liberation.”

Sannyas

“Will a man become a woman just by wearing women’s clothes? Will a woman turn into a man if she dresses like a man? Nobody turns into a Sannyasi by grabbing a piece of ochre cloth and wrapping himself in it. One has to dip ones mind in ochre.”

The Mind

“One doesn’t progress in sadhana if the mind is restless with thoughts. It’s like rowing a boat in a river covered with seaweed.”

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“Just as a wild horse is put in a pen and tamed, we have to tie the mind to some ideal and tame it. The mind is a collection of thoughts. Negative thoughts come up because it is time for them to disappear. Learn to see the thoughts pass through your mind like what you see while looking from the window of a moving train.”

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“Try to stand back as a witness to the thoughts in your mind, like one standing on the bank of a river, watching the water flow.”

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“The thoughts of the mind are like the waves of the ocean. One cannot stop the waves by force. But when the ocean is deep the waves subside. Similarly, try to concentrate the mind on one thought, instead of trying to stop all thoughts by force. The ocean of the mind will become deeper and it will become quiet. Even if there are small waves on the surface, it will be peaceful.”

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“The mind is like a cat. We may take care of it with a lot of affection, but the moment our attention wanders it will stick its head in the pot and steel some food. Manasa puja is a method to keep the mind fixed on God.”

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“The bee looks for honey wherever it goes. But a fly prefers to stick to excrement even in a rose garden. At present our mind is like the fly; we have to try to make it like the honeybee.”

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“Before the seed is sown, the land is cleared of grass and weeds. In the same way, clear the mind of all the external things and then direct it to God.”

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“The thought of God will become firm only in a pure mind. The broken stones are washed before they are used for making concrete.”

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“People build large palatial houses and commit suicide inside! If luxury could give us happiness, why would people die of depression? Peace and contentment entirely depend on the mind.”

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“How can you fully experience spiritual bliss without fixing the mind totally on God? If you mix your dessert with other dishes, can you fully enjoy its taste?”

On Mahatmas (Great Souls)

“A realised soul is like a river or a tree, giving comfort and coolness to those who come to him.”

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“We are like pure rainwater that has become impure by falling in the gutter. For the water to be clean again, it needs to be connected to a river. The Mahatma is the river.”

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“Mahatmas are like giant trees to which even elephants can be chained. There is no need for a fence to protect such trees. But we are like small plants that have to fear cows and goats.”

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“When a flower blossoms, the bees get naturally drawn to it. Similarly, those with spiritual samskaras (inherent tendencies) are drawn to a Mahatma.”

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“If we make the shape of a bitter melon out of chocolate, it will still be chocolate. Likewise the Mahatmas are the same as Brahman, even though assuming a form.”

Mahatma’s Power

“Being near a mahatma is like going to an incense factory. We don’t need to work there, light any incense or even touch anything. All we need to do is enter the place and the fragrance will linger on us. The presence of a mahatma will bring about a change in you without you even being aware of it.”

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“If you pour milk into milk, it won’t turn to curd. Put a small amount of curd into a bowl of milk and all the milk will turn into curd. When a Mahatma gives a mantra, his divine power enters the disciple through his sankalpa (resolve).”

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“There is wind everywhere but the person who comes to rest under a tree out of the scorching heat gets a special kind of rejuvenating coolness . Likewise, we can experience a unique peace when we go to Mahatmas.”

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“Just as electricity manifests through a light bulb, it is the essence of God which manifests through the Mahatmas. The Mahatma should be considered as God.”

On Attitude towards Life

On Attitude towards Life

“Just like a swan, which extracts only milk from a mixture of milk and water, try to see only the good in everything.”

Good Company

“Once, a temple and a liquor shop kept parrots as pets. While the temple parrot chanted Vedic mantras, the parrot in the liquor shop uttered obscenities. Children, ones conduct is determined by the company one keeps.”

Look within

“If a piece of sandalwood is left lying in the mud, its outer part will become rotten. But what a wonderful fragrance we can still get from it if we clean it and rub it on a stone! As long as we are immersed in worldly things, we cannot enjoy the fragrance of the inner Self.”

Learn from Sorrows

“Children, why lose all your strength by grieving? What good will it do you? Get new enthusiasm and proceed in life.”

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“There is a black crow in the company of white cranes. Only because black is present can we appreciate the beauty of white. Sorrows can teach us the value of joy.”

Detachment

“No one brings anything into this world, nor takes anything with him.”

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“A person who was very fond of sweet dishes was helping himself to a second serving, when a lizard fell in his plate. He lost all fondness for the sweets and threw it away. Likewise, when one realises the limits of worldly pleasure, attachment to them will wither away.”

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“Nothing in this material world is everlasting. Everything can go at anytime. Therefore, live in this world keeping the alertness of a bird perched on a dry twig. It knows that at any time the twig can break.”

Desire

“Where there is fire, there is smoke. Where there is desire there is sorrow.”

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“Certain plants won’t bear fruit if they have too many leaves; they need to be pruned. We have to get rid of desires for worldly pleasures if we want to reap the fruit of God-experience.”

Effort

“You can’t learn to swim by sitting on the side of the pool; you have to get into the water.”

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“When water is leaking into the boat, it is not enough to just sit there praying to God for the hole to be plugged. You have to try to plug the leak yourself.”

Body and Soul

“Our body is perishable. Only the Soul is permanent. This is a rented body. We will be asked to leave at any time. Before that, we should look for a place in a permanent abode. Then, when we leave the body we would move to that permanent abode, the eternal house of God.”

Death

“When a balloon bursts, it doesn’t mean that the air, which was in it, ceases to exist. Death does not bring the end of the Self, but of the instrument called the body.”

The Mind

“Don’t let your life go to waste by being a slave to your mind! Don’t barter away a priceless jewel for a piece of candy.”

The Value of Things

“What use are hundreds of rupees in our hands when we are in need of firewood to cook our meal? That’s the value of things.”

On the Guru

On the Guru

“If you dig a deep well on top of a mountain, you may not find any water; but dig a small hole on a riverbank and you will soon find water. In the proximity of a guru your spiritual practices will quickly bear fruit.”

*

“A child wants to see the sunrise, but sleeping comfortably in his bed, he can’t make himself get up in the morning. The mother will have to help him get up. A spiritual life without a guru is like the life of a child without a mother.”

*

“If we keep the company of people with bad qualities, they will have a bad influence on us. If we have friends with good qualities, our nature will change to the good by mixing with them. By staying with a guru one becomes a field where good qualities are cultivated.”

*

“When we transplant a sapling from one place to another, we carry some soil from the first place so that it becomes easier for the sapling to acclimatise to the new conditions. On the spiritual path the guru’s presence is like that soil.”

*

“There is a treasure chest of diamonds within you, but you are searching for diamonds outside. The key to that chest is also with you, but it has become rusty. You have to polish it if it is to open the chest. We approach a guru for this purpose.”

Surrender to the Guru

“Now you are a slave to your senses. Surrender to the guru and the senses will become your slave.”

*

“When a child is holding his mother’s hand, he can do whatever he wants. He won’t fall even if he takes both feet off the ground. Likewise the disciple should always hold onto the guru.”

*

“If an operation is required one has to see a surgeon. Likewise, to rid our minds of all the dirt and to progress towards the ultimate goal, we have to take refuge in a guru.”

*

“When we make a canoe, we heat the wood to make it bend. Only then can we shape the canoe. Likewise we change for the better when we ‘bend’ out of awe and devotion for the guru.”

Guru’s Power

“Just as the tortoise makes the egg hatch by the power of its thoughts, the satguru’s thoughts awaken the spiritual power in the disciple.”

*

“Those who pretend to be gurus are like boats made of sponge; the boat will sink and all the passengers will go down with it. But a satguru is like a huge ship in which any amount of people can reach the shore.”

*

“If you touch a wire carrying electric current, the electricity will enter into you. If you take refuge in a guru his power will flow into you.”

Guru’s Guidance

“You can’t learn how to repair a machine by just reading a book. You have to go to a repair shop and be trained by someone who knows the job. Similarly, you need a guru to guide you and help you overcome the obstacles on your spiritual path.”

*

“The label on a medicine bottle contains only general instructions. We need a doctor’s prescription to take the medicine properly, otherwise the medicine may do more harm than good. Similarly, learning about spirituality from attending satsang and reading books is not enough. You need to follow a gurus instructions and guidance.”

*

“If we travel with a companion who lives at our destination, the journey will be smooth. If we travel alone, even if we have a map, we can lose the way. The role of the guru in our spiritual life is similar to the companion.”

*

“We can’t get light by hanging a picture of a lamp on the wall. If we need to see something, we have to turn the real light on. Learning from books and even giving  speeches is not enough. To experience the Truth one has to do sadhana under the guidance of a guru, and discover the real ‘I’ within.”

*

“Suppose we are going to travel to a strange place. Somebody must be there who knows the path to protect us. Similarly, a Guru who is a knower of the Self must be approached. Only one who has known the path can show the way.”

Guru’s Disciplining

“Heating a piece of iron in the furnace, the blacksmith beats on it repeatedly – not out of cruelty, but only to give it the desired shape. Someone may cut up a paper into many pieces, only to make a beautiful flower out of it. Similarly the guru reprimands and disciplines only to reveal to the disciple the nature of his own self.”

*

“A mother may slap her child to stop it from putting its hand in the fire. A guru may be stern for the good of the disciple. A sculptor chips away the rock with his chisel to bring out a beautiful form of sculpture. A doctor squeezes an infected abscess to take the pus out and help it heal.”

*

“When the cow chews on the young coconut saplings it’s no use telling it gently: “Don’t eat it, my dear.” Only if you shout at the cow: “Shoo! Go away!” Will it stop
eating and go away.”

*

“The poison of a snake can kill you; and yet the antidote is made from that same poison. A real guru will put all kinds of obstacles in the path of the disciple, for only in that way can the disciple develop the strength to transcend all obstacles.”

Obedience

“When we board a plane, they ask us to fasten our seat belts for our own safety. In the same way the guru asks the disciple to obey certain rules and to practice restraint, to elevate him.”

Qualified Disciples

“It is not enough to have a guru with the highest credentials; the disciple also has to be qualified.”

God

God’s Presence

“To say that there is no God is like saying ‘I have no tongue’ with your own tongue.”

*

“God is very close to you, that is why you cannot see Him. Is it possible to see our own face without the aid of a mirror? And will it be possible to see our image in a mirror if the mirror is completely covered with dust? Look after wiping away the dust particles and cleaning the mirror; then certainly you can see.”

*

“Searching for God outside ourselves is like trying to catch fish by emptying the ocean. Therefore, become introspective and look within.”

God’s Remembrance

“By remembering God constantly, just as a snake sheds its skin, we can free ourselves from all bonds and be reborn again. Even if you forget to eat, don’t forget to think of Him.”

*

“If there is a resting place nearby, the mere thought that the luggage which you are carrying can soon be unloaded lightens the burden. In the same way, when we think that God is near, all our burdens will diminish.”

*

“A mother bird will be thinking of the young ones in the nest even when she is out looking for food. Similarly you have to keep your mind on God while engaged in all worldly actions.”

*

“The moment you remember your parents, relatives, friends or your favourite food, you see them in your mind’s eye. You have to build a similar attachment to God. That is the purpose of japa, meditation and satsang.”

*

“Just as the colour of the ink disappears when a lot of water is added to it, by constant remembrance of God, the individual mind dissolves in the universal mind.”

*

“A bitter gourd looses its bitterness if it is soaked in sugar for some time. Likewise, a negative mind will be purified if one thinks of God ceaselessly.”

*

“We lose our strength through worldly pleasures, but by constant remembrance of God our mind becomes stronger.”

*

“If you keep pouring water into a bottle of ink, The colour slowly fades until finally you can’t tell whether there was any ink in it. In the same way as the mind expands with the constant remembrance of God, the sense of individuality will dissolve and finally disappear. The individual mind becomes the Universal mind.”

*

“An express bus stops only at a limited number of places and reaches its destination without delays. Constant remembrance of God is like travelling on an express bus.”

All Pervading

“The outside shapes and colours of the different  wrappings on candies can differ, but all the candies have the same substance. Likewise, the supreme principle behind the various shapes and colours in the outside world is one.”

*

“The ring, the bracelet and the earrings are made of gold. If you look at their external shapes you only see these shapes, if you look deeper you can see the gold that is the substratum within all of them.”

*

“Remove the boundary between two fields, and there is only one field. Boundaries and divisions are artificial, and created by man. See the One in all.”

*

“When we stop fanning ourselves with a handheld fan, the flow of air stops. But it doesn’t mean there is no air. When a light bulb burns out or a fan stops turning, it doesn’t mean that there is no electricity. God is everywhere.”

*

“By whatever name you call it, the Divine Power is one and the same. God is not someone who responds only if He hears the sound of a certain call. He dwells in our hearts.”

*

“An actor takes many roles, but he remains the same. God is like this. Different are His names and forms, but He is the One behind all.”

*

“Is there any difference between the electric current which passes through the refrigerator, the lamp, and the fan? No, only the object differs. Similarly, each person understands God according to his culture and worships as such.”

*

“There is a dam in the middle of the lake. The lake is two, but if the dam is not there, then it is one. That dam is ignorance or maya. Duality is only seemingly real.”

*

“We have hands, legs, eyes, nose, etc., but are these different organs not part of our own body? Like this, see everything that is seen as God’s Limbs.”

God Experience

“Will you get any milk by pressing the ears of a cow? Can you say there is milk in all parts of her body? Only her udder contains milk for us to drink, and we will get that only if we milk her. It’s true that God is everywhere, but to actually experience Him we have to connect to Him through spiritual practices and sadhana.”

*

“Not everyone who plays the lottery wins the first prize. The prize goes to one among millions. God experience is like that; only one in a million will have it.”

*

“Worldly pleasures are like a candy that gives sweetness now, but ruins your teeth later. If you know God, you can enjoy sweetness all the time – and it is not bad for the teeth!”

Surrendering

“What will happen if the doctor tells the patient to come to him only after he gets well? God is the one who purifies the mind. Take refuge in Him and offer all the dirt of your mind. Only He can cleanse you.”

*

“Once we board a train, do we continue to carry our load and complain about how heavy it is? Take refuge in Him and surrender everything.”

God’s Grace

“Wouldn’t it be useless to blame others if we can’t watch the TV because we haven’t turned it on? God’s Grace is always flowing to us, but to benefit from it, we have to be tuned to His world.”

*

“What is the use of sitting inside a room with all the doors and windows closed and complain that it is dark, while the sun is shining brightly outside? If we just open the doors of our hearts, we can receive the grace that God is constantly showering upon us.”

Our Mistakes

“God has given discrimination to human beings to refrain from committing any errors. We have to make use of it. The field is there and the seed is there also. Cultivate carefully and reap the fruit.”

*

“A doctor prescribes for us a body building tonic. If we ignore his instruction and drink up the whole bottle at once, he is not responsible for our ruined health. In the same way God is not responsible for our mistakes.”

*

“If we drive carelessly and meet with an accident, can we blame the gasoline? How can God be blamed for our carelessness?”

Purity of Heart

“Do we need to give water to a river to quench its thirst? By taking refuge in God it is we who gain purity of heart, and with a pure heart we can constantly enjoy the state of bliss.”

*

“It is difficult to see the sun’s reflection in muddy water, but in clean water the image can be easily seen. Similarly, only those who are pure at heart can experience God.”

God’s Love

“No one loves anyone more than they love themselves. When we don’t get the happiness we expect from a friend, our friend becomes our enemy. Only God loves us selflessly.”

Love for God

“By filling a reservoir, you supply water to all the pipes connected to it. If you pour water at the root of a tree, it will reach all the branches. In the same way, by loving God, we love everyone. It is the same God dwelling within everyone.”

God’s Form

“Like the ocean that rises up in response to the attraction exerted by the moon, God can assume any form He wants depending on the needs of the devotees.”

God’s Light

“God needs nothing from us. Does the sun need the light of a candle? God is like the sun, shedding its light equally on all things in the world. We, living in the dark, need light.”

God’s Certificate

“If we wait for the certificate of approval from others, we won’t get a certificate from God. What we really need is God’s certificate.”

Ego

Ego

“The ego creates division. It can be compared to the walls that delineate the divisions of a house. If you demolish the walls, the house disappears and again you have only space. Remove the ego and you will again become space.”

*

“The shell around the seed has to break before the tree can emerge. You have to get rid of the ego before you gain knowledge.”

*

“When there is a curtain over the window, we cannot see the blue sky. If we remove the sense of ‘I’ from our mind, we will be able to see the light within us.”

*

“It is no use pouring water into a dirty bucket; the water will get dirty. In the same way, if you maintain the ego while doing sadhana, you cannot take total refuge in God. You cannot experience and enjoy the benefits of sadhana.”

*

“By flowing into a river, the water from a pond is cleaned; by flowing into a gutter it only gets dirtier. The gutter is the selfish attitude of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. The river is God. Children, let us take refuge in God.”

*

“The real dirt is the attitude ‘I am the doer,’ which is hard to wash away. All powers are God’s. A plant should not say: ‘Look at my flower! How beautiful it is!’ ”

*

“Suppose there are holes in a pipe leading to a tap. The flow of water from the tap will be weak. If there are selfish desires (ego) in our minds, we won’t get total concentration on God.”

*

“How can someone who can’t even swim across a small river swim across the ocean? It is not possible to reach the supreme state without removing all small selfishness.”

*

“The river is always flowing, but, having constructed a dam, we complain that we do not get water. We will get the constantly flowing Grace of God if the dam of ignorance and ego built by us is removed.”

*

“The sun gets concealed by the clouds. In a like manner, God is concealed by our ego and vasanas (latent tendencies). He becomes visible when the dirt of those tendencies is removed.”

*

“The weeds should be removed or the seeds will be destroyed. If we do sadhana (spiritual practices) without eradicating the ego, our sadhana is fruitless.”

Selfless Service

Selfless Service

“By engaging in selfless service the mind gets purified. Don’t waste a single chance to serve others. Such opportunities might not always come.”

*

“When we dedicate ourselves solely to the well being of others, it is our own mind that becomes pure. When you give your friend a bouquet of flowers, you are the one who experiences the gratification of giving. You are the first one to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the flowers. In the same way, you can derive happiness from selfless acts.”

*

“If a farmer sells rice of good quality, he will be properly rewarded for his work. Good actions bring good results.”

*

“Securing good marks in the exam is not sufficient; one has to do well in the job-interview to secure a job. Similarly it’s not enough if you only meditate; you have to do selfless work too. That is the test and strength of your progress.”

*

“There are two ways: Think of everyone as your own Self, or see everyone as God and serve Him.”

*

“Be like an incense stick that allows itself to burn out while giving its fragrance to others. Be like a tree that gives shade even to those who are in the act of cutting it down. Serve others through self-sacrifice, just like a candle gives light to others while it melts and burns down.”

Devotion

Devotion

“Rowing a boat against the current is difficult, but if there is a sail it becomes easy. Love for God is like a sail that helps the boat go forward.”

*

“Those who meditate only according to a timetable, as if it were a duty, will never see God. You have to cry for God day and night, with no thoughts of food or sleep. Only those who have done so have realised God.”

*

“Devotion, like tincture used for cleaning a wound, purifies the mind.”

*

“Those who are thirsting for God do not like to talk about anything but God, even when great sorrow befalls them.”

*

“Our knowledge of wisdom is limited to words; to bring it into our experience is possible only though devotion.”

*

“Simple rice-gruel is agreeable to everyone’s health. Those who suffer from indigestion or other illnesses cannot eat other types of food. The path of devotion is like that. It suits everyone.”

*

“Forgetting God in times of happiness and remembering Him only in times of sorrow is not a sign of true devotion.”

*

“If you cannot find free time to spare for acts of worship, try to be like the Gopis. They were continuously thinking of God while immersed in their work.”