MISCELLANEOUS

Spiritual guidance

CHENNAI: It is one thing to debate about existence, life and the creator of this universe on the basis of one’s learning but another to teach others about religion and spirituality. Only a man of Self-realisation can guide another from his experience and teach those who seek his guidance with authority because God is beyond the ken of the senses and the mind, and hence to teach one must have experienced God oneself. This is the reason why there is strife among the adherents of different religious denominations for they argue without having experienced God through the paths enunciated in them. Just as when one wearing coloured glasses sees everything coloured, so also, when the mind is clouded with ignorance one’s understanding and consequently teaching are bound to be confused.

In his discourse, Swami Gautamananda said Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had cautioned that one should never attempt to instruct spiritual matters without experiencing God. A disciple of this saint once asked a devotee who had attempted to preach about religion and was chastened by the censure he got in the process, how he was engaging in acts of charity and service without knowing their significance. Then he was enlightened that if one had the understanding that it was the Lord who was present in all, then compassion towards the suffering and service would be natural and meaningful. This is true even of social leadership which must be guided by men of vision and purpose. Even at the societal level it is only one who has spiritual knowledge who can counsel those who engage in service and reforms as he will be a visionary in the true sense. Thus spiritual knowledge is essential to develop clarity and the right attitude to engage in service to the lesser-privileged in society.

The Bhagavad Gita states how one must seek a man of wisdom to gain spiritual knowledge: “With reverential salutations do you approach them — the wise men who have known the truth. Serve them, and question them repeatedly (with due respect until your doubts are clarified). These wise men will impart the knowledge of this divine truth unto you.” Service is recommended in spiritual life to develop mental equipoise.

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