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How to Achieve Success in Spiritual Life?

Swami Bhaskareswarananda (Vipradas Maharaj) who passed away on January 16,1976 was associated with the Ramakrishna Ashrama in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Below are Swamji's Advice on how to achieve success in spiritual life.

Power of discernment between the real and the unreal
You have to develop this power of discernment between the real and the unreal. In the world there is pleasure, true, but it is followed by reaction and trouble. To think of the consequence of running after the unreal and the gain of attaining the real, to feel this in one’s heart in the light of scriptural knowledge, is called viveka. Merge yourself in the real by giving up the unreal with the help of such discernment.

Renunciation or detachment must be there, otherwise life is either intellectual or emotional. Viveka, discernment, leads to vairagya, renunciation. It shows the evil consequences of bad actions and the glory of spiritual practice. Vairagya does not mean putting on one dhoti or torn clothes. It means transcendence of earthly and heavenly pleasures. Wearing torn clothes when the mind is full of desires will not do any good as it is mere show off.

Sense Enjoyment
The inner psychological attraction is towards sense enjoyment. Majority of our happiness is caused by and is dependent upon contact with money, people, name, fame, and the like. When there is no contact, it leads to unhappiness. This is not real happiness; it is second-hand.

Atmananda is first-hand happiness — happiness at any place under all circumstances. The contact with sense-objects leads to spiritual death. Thinking thus, give them up.

Deliberate Control
Know that you are an ordinary person and that you may fail in spite of having viveka and vairagya. Your organs naturally go towards worldly enjoyment. Hence, there should be deliberate control.
Everything other than listening about the Atman is a digression and detrimental to spiritual life. Give up all transitory objects and pleasures. This is true sravana. Similarly, think only of the Atman and give up all digressive thoughts. Stop all mental vibrations related to father, mother, money, fame, heavenly desires, and the like. Think of the Chosen Ideal, see the Chosen Ideal, listen about the Chosen Ideal and his words, do his works. When all other digressions are stopped and the dissipation of mental power is arrested, then power will come to the mind, then will spiritual practice be successful.

Physical Control Along with Mental Control
Mental control alone is not enough. Some foolishly think that their minds are all right, and yet remain in contact with the objects of enjoyments. But the rishis have said that there is an interrelation between body and mind. If there is physical contact with objects, mental disturbance is bound to arise, and vice versa. This is mutual  interdependence. So, if you want perfect mental control, then stop physically mixing with others; and if you want physical control, then stop mental digressions. Do not touch anything detrimental to spiritual life. Engage your eyes, ears, hands, your all in divine work. By mental and physical control, energy is preserved.

Knowledge of Brahman
Samskaras, impressions, are sleeping in the subconscious mind, and will wake up due to association. Samskaras disappear only on attaining the knowledge of Brahman. Although no thoughts arise in the waking state due to physical and mental control, there is enjoyment in the dream state because of subconscious impressions.

Remaining Balanced and Undisturbed Through All the Pairs of Opposites
Titiksha, forbearance, means remaining balanced and undisturbed through all the pairs of opposites: heat and cold, the favourable and the unfavourable, good and bad, honour and dishonour, happiness and misery, praise and blame, and so forth. When I respect you, you love me, but when I do not care for you, you hate me. This is not titiksha.

You do the Lord’s work when you have power, but when you do not have power you do not even want to touch work! Then you fail in titiksha.

To maintain mental balance, whether you are the head of a department or the tail of a department, is titiksha. In the absence of titiksha you will not be able to undertake spiritual practices properly, because you will not get work or circumstances according to your liking at all times. In this relative world sometimes circumstances will be favourable and at other times unfavourable. These will always be there. So, to be able to successfully carry on spiritual practice, you must have titikṣa.

Spiritual Practices Has to Happen Here
All our spiritual practices to attain our goal will have to be done in this relative world alone. We cannot go into the sky and subsist on air. We shall have to perform spiritual practices in this relative world alone, keeping our mental balance.