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A man who has all he wants is still unhappy. He forgets that to be without some of the things he wants, is an indispensable part of happiness.

What is success? Is it material prosperity or something else? Success is of two kinds, worldly and spiritual . Similarly life is also of two kinds, life in Matter and life in Spirit (Atma) or pure Consciousness. We should not ignore the life in the physical plane of matter. Matter is God's (Brahma's) expression of His own Consciousness (Lila). Matter and Spirit are inseperable, like heat and fire, cold and ice, flower and fragrance. According to the Vedas, life in the physical plane is a preperation for the eternal life in Heaven, in union with Brahma . The world represents our scope for the development of various divine virtues such as mercy, forgiveness, tolerance, universal love, generosity,nobility, courage, magnanimity, patience, strong will etc.The central teaching of all religions is " Be in the world, but be out of it." Give up the merely physical, materialistic involvements with life (tamasik britti), and assert the divine qualities. A life of renunciation and self-sacrifice would help you to obtain Self-realisation, the highest goal of a human being. However, this must not mean that we may negate our duties or responsibilities in life. The Vedas say that `gyan', `karma' and `bhakti' ie. knowledge, work and devotion together leads us to the path of Truth. We must learn to lead both our material and spiritual life in search of this Truth.

Scientists have explored the physical world. They say that there is only one substance in this world, that is the electron and matter is of energy. Energy is the supreme reality for scientists. They have found out methods to control the physical forces of nature. Yet, the deepest mysteries of life all point to a power greater than that of mere science. "Where science ends, religion begins". What is that intelligence which moves nature? Who is the primum mobile? Can scientific inventions enlighten the basic mysteries of life and thus make us really happy? If not, what are the ways to achieve success in both the worlds, material and spiritual?

Let us think about that 'Light of the Lights', about that all-pervading Intelligence or Consciousness who is the Inner Ruler of this body and mind and who governs this Universe and keeps it in perfect order. In the Vedas, He is 'Brahma', who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. This supreme power Has been named as 'God'by human beings. He is, "Sat-Chid-Ananda" ie. Existance Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, and Bliss Absolute.

There are some definite ways of attaining success, for leading a happy and contented life, for finding power, strength, health and energy. There are some definite paths instructed by our spiritual masters, for attaining this unending joy and unfading splendour and glory in our present life. Being asked to clarify this, Yudhisthira (in the Mahabharata) replied, " The journies experienced by the Great Spiritual Men are called 'The Paths'. (Mahajono jeno gato-oh sa pantha-ha).In every age these spiritual seekers have tried to find out what is Truth, and not to stick to blind, traditional belief. A vedic hymn reveals, " One ignorant of the land asks of one who knows it. He travels forward, instructed by the knowing guide." The inner meaning of another is " The man who knows the land, tells the direction to the man who asks."

Spiritual search is the basic of all cultures. Culture means refinement or education. `Spiritual' means that which relates to the inner Self, the Atman or the Brahma. Spiritualism does not deal with ghosts, planchette, or spirit in medium. Meditating on the Self (Atmachinta), contemplation, absorbing noble thoughts and ideas from the learned persons and sages, reading books on preachings like the Bible, the Koran,the Vedas and the Upanisadas etc. together constitute spiritual search. An earnest desire to know the Self will increase the basic qualifications in humans to search for the ultimate Truth.These are four in number:

  1. Power of discrimination between the real and unreal (Viveka).
  2. Indifference to sensual enjoyments herein and here after (Vairagya).
  3. Six fold virtues (Gyana).
  4. Intense longing for liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Mumuksha).

Silent repetition of Hymns or Mantras like 'Om' will be of great help in improving the spiritual culture at first. During this time, one must feel "I am part of the Immortal Self in all. I am the living Truth. I am all-prevading light, Intelligence or Pure Consciousness."

The practice of concentration should go hand in hand with the memory and will cultures. When a desire is controlled, it is transmuted into will force. Fewer the desire, stronger is the will. No will culture is possible without ' Brahmacharya'. Brahmacharya means celibacy or purity in thoughts, words and deed. Attention, power of endurance, overcoming aversion, dislikes and irritations, fortitude in suffering, all pave the way to development of the will. Never complain against bad environment. Do not try to run away from unfavourable situations. Live in your own mental world.Nothing can upset your mind.Try to live happily in any place, under any condition.

Interest develops memory. A strong man who has an acute sight, a keen perception, a good power of observation and hearing, will have very good memories. A man may die, but his character remains. It is the character that gives real force and power to a man. It is like a sweet flower whose fragrance wafts far and wide. Building up of characters is building up of habits. Non-violence in thoughts, words and deeds (Ahimsa), truthfulness, self-reliance, patience and perseverance, sincerity and honesty, punctuality, and above all, contentment, are very important virtues which build up a sound character.

Dear readers, the subject of 'iradication of negative qualities' need a long discussion. Please get rid of these vices to become a perfect man. Those who are really interested can contact me, I will try my best to answer them.

India ia a land of saints, sages, and philosophers famous for their supreme spiritual knowledge. All this knowledge is stored in texts called "The Vedas" which form the basis of Hinduism. Our religion teaches us, " Let the Noble Thoughts come to us from everyside" (Aa-no bhadra kratabo yantu viswata-ha). ' no'= us (Wrik Veda). 'An ounce of practice is a thousand times better than tons of theories. When we love others, we love ourselves. Happiness lives in simplicity, happiness lives in love. Non-violence is the highest of all the virtues (Ahimsha paromo dharma). They also teach us: speak the truth and do virtuous actions. Be kind, be good, do good (satyam bado, dharmang ch'aro).

Know that this Self is the store-house for all knowledge, bliss, power, beauty, peace and joy. Truth is one. Only, sages call it by different names (Ekong sad viprah bahudha vadanti). You should live, work and breathe for the realisation of Truth and God alone.

If this little effort helps you to realise the meaning of the word `Awakening', it would be of much joy to me. Good luck and be happy. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

(Acknowledgement : the writings of Swami Shivananda)

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(c) Alaka Sanyal 1997