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Swami Sivananda Teachings - Divine Life Society - A Collection Of 108 Teachings Of Swami Sivananda

Swami Sivananda (September 8, 1887 – July 4, 1963), founder of the Divine Life Society, was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Swami Sivananda teachings are mainly from the numerous books authored by the Swami. The thoughts have also been taken from the monthly magazines published by Divine Life Society. 

Illness begins with "I", Wellness begins with "we".

Do one thing at a time, and while doing it put your whole soul into it to the exclusion of all else.

Every step you take, through every act you do you must move towards Freedom, towards Truth, towards Light.

The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun when they are concentrated they illumine.

Let the mind be cheerful but calm. Never let it run into excesses, because every excess will be followed by a reaction.

There is no paper on which to write the Nature of Truth.

There is no pen which can dare write It.

There is no person living who can express It.

It merely is everything that is, and there ends the matter.

Every effort to express Its nature is trying to kill its reality.

Thou art that Great Being! Thou art this, thou art that! Thy glory knows no bounds. Thy power is indestructible. Thou art the most blessed, the Immortal, the Real.

Realise thy real Nature through discrimination, dispassion and sacrifice of things earthy.

A knowledge of the ways and habits of the mind and its operations, the laws of the mind and the method of mental control and mental discipline, is very necessary if you want to enjoy real happiness and peace of an unruffled and abiding nature.

You cannot expect everlasting happiness and perennial joy in the world of sense around us. The mischievous monkey – mind plays havoc in a variety of ways and causes and cares, worries and anxieties. Money, property, women and children do not give permanent satisfaction. This is the experience of all people.

Desire is the seed from which sprouts ceaseless births. Desire arises from a sense of imperfection or limitation, by identifying with the finite body, mind and ego.

The secret of successful teaching and discipline is the proper training of the child. Every teacher should have faith in the child.

This body is an instrument or servant of the Soul, and not its prison…

Divine will is all powerful. God wills, and everything comes into being that very second. Man wills, but takes a long time for attaining a thing or materialization of the desire object as his will is weak…

By anger one loses his energy…Anger transmuted into Love becomes an energy so powerful as to move the whole world…

The mind is like a strolling street dog. You are eating out of garbage cans. You who are heir to immortal glory, divine blessedness – why are you picking up these little droppings and try to fill yourself?

You will easily get illumination in solitude. Solitude has its charms. Prepare yourself for life in seclusion.

Never complain about bad environments. Create your own mental world wherever you remain and wherever you go. There are some difficulties and disadvantages wherever you go…God has place you there to grow quickly…

To the one devoid of ego, the whole world is a heaven of rest, a realm of peace and a kingdom abounding in all happiness. He who has no ego and who has surrendered himself to God is the master of every power and force.

Humility is the path of immortality. Vanity is the path of births and deaths…

You are not this perishable body; you are not this deluded mind; you are not this puny thing which you call ‘I’. No. You are the immortal, eternal, all-blissful Atman or Brahman the Infinite, whose essential nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda (existence, knowledge, bliss-absolute). Therefore, arise, awake and realize the Self. That is the goal of your life.

All that exists is nothing but your own Self. Direct realization of this Truth will free you at once from all delusion and grief. That is the goal of life.

Don’t you like to enjoy freedom once and for all from delusion and grief? You
can very easily reach the goal. God is all-merciful. In a thousand ways He comes to you to teach you and to lead you towards the goal of life.

He comes to you as soul-awakening experiences. What do you see around you? Janma (birth), Mrityu (death), Jara, (old age), Vyadhi (disease) and Dukkha (misery). These exist to remind you of the nature of the mundane life and to goad you to lead the divine life so that you can rise above all these and enjoy perennial peace, immortality and eternal bliss.

Thinking of disease constantly will intensify it. Feel always ‘I am healthy in body and mind.

Crave for a thing, you will get it. Renounce the craving, the object will follow you by itself.

The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.

Be not afraid of anything. You will do marvelous work. It is fearlessness that brings heaven even in a moment.

The highest manifestation of strength is to keep ourselves calm and on our own feet.

Renunciation is not running away to the caves of the Himalayas. Only aspirants with Para-Vairagya are fit to do that; on the part of others it is only cowardice. Stand up, bold aspirants, and renounce egoism. Wherever you run, it will run with you. You will have to annihilate it wherever you are. Renounce this ego by means of self-surrender to the Lord, self-sacrificing service to humanity, self-purification through Japa, Kirtan and Dhyana, self-denial through Vedantic Nididhyasana and attain Self-realisation. Then you will enjoy perennial peace, immortality and eternal bliss.

Steady the mind. Fix it on the Lord. Plod on patiently like the farmer at his plough. Be preserving. This is real Sadhana. Be regular in your Sadhana. This will give you freedom, bliss, peace and immortality.

A knowledge of the ways and habits of the mind and its operations, the laws of the mind and the method of mental control and mental discipline, is very necessary if you want to enjoy real happiness and peace of an unruffled and abiding nature.

You cannot expect everlasting happiness and perennial joy in the world of sense around us. The mischievous monkey – mind plays havoc in a variety of ways and causes and cares, worries and anxieties. Money, property, women and children do not give permanent satisfaction. This is the experience of all people.

Desire is the seed from which sprouts ceaseless births. Desire arises from a sense of imperfection or limitation, by identifying with the finite body, mind and ego.

The secret of successful teaching and discipline is the proper training of the child. Every teacher should have faith in the child.

Blind faith should be turned into rational faith. Faith without understanding is only blind faith. Devotion is the development of faith. Knowledge is the development of devotion. Faith leads to the final spiritual experience. Whatever a person strongly believes in, that he experiences and becomes…

A pessimist is very gloomy and depressed, lazy and lethargic. Cheerfulness is unknown to him. He infects others. Pessimism is an epidemic and infectious disease. A pessimist cannot succeed in the world.

The world is a relative place of good and evil. Remember this point at all times. Try to live happily in any place, under any condition. You will become a strong and dynamic personality. This is a great secret.

Humility is a virtue that subdues the hearts of others. A man of humility is a powerful magnet or lodestone…

Where desire is, there is no bliss; where bliss is, there is no desire…

Pain is a blessing in disguise. Pain is an eye-opener. Pain is your silent teacher. Pain will turn your mind toward God….

Faith is the belief in the unknown. Faith heals, faith creates, faith works wonders, faith moves mountains. Faith is the searchlight for God-finding.

The goal of life is to become one with the Eternal…You cannot reach the goal without leading a righteous life and without possessing a pure heart.

Be tranquil within. Let that inner peace and joy radiate through a serene countenance. A serene countenance is peaceful, smiling and serious and does not betray any violent emotions. It is like the surface of a still lake.

Do not boast of your birth, position, qualifications and spiritual attainments. Praise others. See good in all. Treat even the lowliest creatures as your equal and with respect.

Be artless. Be simple in your speech. Do not twist words and topics. Be plain; avoid diplomacy, cunningness and crookedness. Be simple in your dress. Be simple in your food.

Let your words agree with the thoughts; let your actions agree with your words. Let there be harmony among your thoughts, words and actions.

This world is your best teacher. There is a lesson in everything. There is a lesson in each experience.

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. This is the secret of success.

Forget like a child any injury done by somebody immediately. Never keep it in the heart. It kindles hatred.

The divine light and grace will descend only upon the Sattvic or the pure mind, because only a pure mind can receive it.

One ounce of practice equals tons of theory.

A sign of a beautiful person is he always sees the beauty in others.

Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.

The harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph. Self realization demands very great struggle.

Put your heart, mind, intellect, and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.

There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore acquire contentment.

Humility is not cowardice. Meekness is not weakness. Humility and meekness are indeed spiritual powers .

Desire nothing, give up all desires and be happy.

Let us not depend upon the world for pleasure.

It is divinity that shapes, not only your ends, but also your acts, your words and thoughts.

Terrible is the fight put up by the senses. Fight bravely! Conquer them you must.

It is only by doing good to others that one attains to one's own good.

The highest manifestation of strength is to keep ourselves calm and on our own feet.

Crave for a thing, you will not get it. Renounce the craving, the object will follow you by itself.

Meditation is painful in the beginning but it bestows immortal Bliss and supreme joy in the end.

The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them.

It is divinity that shapes, not only your ends, but also your acts, your words and thoughts.

Practice self-denial. Cultivate indifference and dispassion. Practice meditation regularly. This will enable you peace and bliss.

Wisdom is the Master-key to open the realms of eternal bliss and everlasting peace.

There is something good in all seeming failures. You are not to see that now. Time will reveal it. Be patient.

Realize the Self and be free.

In spirit you are one with the rest of humanity. God, the Ultimate Reality, is your Own Self, as He is the Self of all – the Self of every atom of Creation. This, Truth is veiled from your sight on account of fundamental ignorance.

This ignorance has assumed as many forms as there are beings in this universe.

All these beings are consciously or unconsciously striving to tear this veil of ignorance and realize their Godhead. Everyone is progressing towards that Goal, and everyone is bound to reach it.

In this ignorance, however, each Jiva is separate from all the rest. Each Jiva is independently to work its way to the realisation of the Godhead. You may help each other in various degrees. In fact, even this helping each other is a potent Sadhana for developing love for each other.

But, remember this point well, no one else can achieve Moksha or Liberation for you. You have to do this yourself.

Once you grasp this firmly, it will be apparent to you that your duty is to struggle with yourself, with your mind and with the internal enemies of lust, anger, greed and the host of other evils within, and to eradicate them, to purify yourself and to evolve into Godhead – realise your true Self.

“What is the correct time now? The time-piece in my Kutir shows one time; here this wall-clock shows another; perhaps the Bhajan Hall clock shows something different from these two.

“It is a wonderful world we live in. There are any numbers of ‘times’ in the world, indeed as many as there are nations, perhaps! Greenwich Time, Indian Standard Time, Bengal Time, Daylight Saving Time, American Time, Negro Time, White-man Time.”

“How absurd all this appears to a Viveki! These are all Times created by you.

Man made the clock: but the clock controls him, he is a slave to it. Your real nature is Satchidananda beyond Time, Space and Causation. You created Time in a playful mood. Sun, moon, stars and the universe which indicate the Time, were all mental creations. And, yet man is a slave to them!

“As is the nature of phenomenal things, no two clocks agree; no two men have the same opinion; no two faces are exactly alike. Wonderful is Creation. What a Great Intelligence must that Consciousness be which created all this diversity! “When these clocks disagree, man is bewildered. A child is born; the father looks at his watch and records the time. He later finds that his neighbor’s watch differs from his by five minutes. Which is the correct time? He is bewildered. He is worried about the son’s horoscope.

Have faith. Stick to one path, one Guru, one Love. Contemplate. Realize your essential nature Thou art That!

What is pleasure for you is pain for another man. What is pleasure for you now is pain after some time. The first two cups of milk give you pleasure. The third cup induces disgust, nausea, and retching. Milk does not give pleasure during fever. Therefore, pleasure is not in the objects, but in the imagination or inclination of the mind.

Pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, are all false imaginations of the mind.

Mind is a false, illusory product. Conceptions of the mind also must, therefore, be false.

Pleasure and pain are in the mind only. It is subjective. Things, when longed for, are pleasant; but are bitter if not longed for. Desires are the cause for pleasures.

You can convert pleasure into pain and pain into pleasure by thinking, by Bhavana, by imagination. Many vegetarian students who have gone to England to prosecute their studies have become inveterate meat-eaters. Meat was very repulsive to them when they were in India. Mere sight used to induce vomiting. How is it they are able to relish meat with avidity, cupidity, and stupidity now? By simple change in thinking.

Ignorant persons attribute their pleasures to external objects. That is a serious blunder, indeed. Really, there is no pleasure in objects. There is neither pleasure nor pain in objects. It is all mental creation, mental perception, mental jugglery. It is only the mental attitude or a certain kind of mental behavior towards objects that brings joy or grief, pleasure or pain. Maya has her powerful seat in the imagination of the mind.

When you are in acute agony, a cup of coffee, milk or tea does not give you any pleasure. When you are in acute agony, the whole world which appeared to you to be full of bliss while in good health, appears quite dreary. The world loses all its charms while you are seriously ailing. A real thing must give pleasure for everybody at all times. Is it not?   

Lead an unattached life. You will attain God-consciousness and reach the state of immortality.

The temple of Divine has four pillars. They are: meditation, purity, love and righteousness.

There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore acquire contentment.

Man sees his own reflection in all people but foolishly imagines that they are different from him and he fights with them.

Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.

Giving is the secret of abundance.

Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.

Real spiritual progress is really and accurately measured by the peacefulness, serenity and calmness that you manifest in waking state.

Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the gods. So let us celebrate the struggle.

To be good is to be godly.

If you are hungry, eat your anger and egoism.

If you become angry, be angry with your anger itself.

Courage is the first virtue. Compassion is the best virtue. Love is the highest virtue. Truth is that virtue by possessing which all virtues will cling to you.

Do no live to die but die to live.

To be wise before an action is wisdom; to be wise in the course of an action is cautiousness but to be wise after an action is folly.

Spiritual life is neither life merely inside the world nor life simply outside it. It is life in the transcendental Being, the Spirit which is immanent in all beings, the Self which is the Supreme Lord of everything, inside and outside. Spiritual life can be lived “in” the world, but it is “beyond” the world, for it is not of the world.

The experience of the glory of spiritual life is preceded by the negation of the narrow life in the body and the mind. Therefore, transform yourselves completely, transfigure your entire being through service, through devotion, through meditation, through knowledge. Pierce the veil of delusion, go beyond the dark picture of Maya, through recognising in all the resplendent basis of Brahman upon which the drama of the universe is staged.

Service breaks the ego, opens the heart, expands the consciousness and deepens the spirit. Love softens the hard personality, melts the mind and takes you to God. Dhyana burnishes you, exalts you to the amanava sthiti, the superhuman nature, and reveals to you the treasure of wisdom within, the wisdom that is not given to the worldly, the wisdom that transcends the intellect, the wisdom that man cannot hope to attain until he casts off the shell of his individual ego by surrendering himself to the infinite light, the wondrous light which the spiritually blind do not behold.

You may fail several times and fall down but again stand up as a hero and march forward fearlessly in the spiritual path and reach the goal of life.

Brahman and Maya are inseparable and one. A life in the physical plane is a definite preparation for the eternal life in Brahman. Life on earth is the means of self-perfection

There is a lesson in everything. There is a lesson in each experience. The world is the best training ground 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 the Gita and the Yoga Vasishtha is that one should realize his Self by remaining in the world. Be in the world, but be out of the world. Behave like the water on the lotus-leaf. Give up the lower Asuric nature which consists of selfishness, lust, anger, greed, hatred and jealousy. Assert the divine nature. Live a life of mental renunciation and self-sacrifice.

To be jealous is mean, to be selfish is ignoble, to be compassionate is divine, to be patient and enduring is manly, to be dispassionate is praiseworthy, and to be equanimous is laudable. Therefore eradicate jealousy and selfishness, and cultivate the divine virtues.

The more you give the more you get. Give without any selfish motive, without expecting any reward. Embrace all. Cultivate equal vision.

Courage, power, strength, wisdom and joy are your divine heritage from the absolute: they are your birthright. You are center of thought, power and influence. Never forget this. Introspect. Direct your attention towards the knowledge of the Self.

You have a body, but you are not the body. This body is an instrument or servant of the soul, and not its prison. Know that the body is the temple of the radiant Spirit of self-effulgent Atman or soul within, which controls and moves all the faculties of the mind and body. Know that you are breathing the breath of the Spirit, but not a physical breath.

Brahman is one without a second;
Prakriti and Purusha are two;
One appears as two,
This is the jugglery of Maya.

One minus One is One;
Infinity minus Infinity is Infinity;
Brahman minus world is Brahman.
That is full, this is full.
One alone is real

One appears as many;
Many are illusory,
One alone endures.
Two, three, four and five,
Are all mental creations,
Behold the one in many,
And become the non-dual one.

The fire is burning. You can see its light at a distance, but you cannot feel its warmth when you are away from the fire. Go near the fire. You will enjoy its warmth in winter. Even so, you can understand ‘sat’-aspect through the study of scriptures, but you can actually feel the bliss-aspect if you approach Brahman through constant meditation and if you realize the Self through direct intuitive perception.

Those householders who are endowed with dispassion and who are practicing daily meditation are not affected when they lose their near and dear ones or property. From all these you can clearly understand that pain and pleasure are mental creations only.

When the mind is attached to the body, there is pain. When the mind is withdrawn from the body there is no pain.

Die to your old lower self. Be born into a newer life in the spirit. Sever once for all your connection with the little ego. Whatever be the slips, failures, disappointments and mistakes, forget them all. Never mind them. All is for the best. Be courageous in faith because there is always a glorious resurrection after each crucifixion.

Spotless and untouched time lies before you. Resolve to stick to a life of spotless moral purity, of chastity, physical and mental. Resolve to manifest Truth in thought, word and deed.

The external world is plunged in unrighteousness, hatred and warfare because you have neglected to carry on the inner war with the vicious lower self. You have surrendered to this inner enemy. Commence the spiritual warfare with the inner foes like egoism, hatred, greed, ambition, pride, selfishness. Crush these down and develop equal vision, forgiveness, mercy, universal love. Then all outer war will end in a moment. A New Era will be ushered in. Darkness will pass and a new dawn will light up Humanity.

Struggle hard every moment to get nearer to your Ideal. Every step you take, through every act you do, you must move towards Freedom, towards Truth, towards Light.

Make it a point to radiate love. Become a center of spirituality through a regulated life of combined selfless activity and earnest prayer. Constantly have the name of God in your lips. Inspire and elevate everyone you come into contact with by proclaiming to them the message of unity of all life, in the oneness of the Self. Console the distressed with help, cheer up the depressed with hope. Infuse new vigor into the timid and the faltering in faith.

Swami Sivananda Teaching on Gross and Subtle Egoism

When you identify yourself with your gross physical body, it is gross egoism.
When you identify yourself with your mind and the Karana-Sarira (seed body), it is subtle egoism.

If you destroy pride, selfishness, desires and identification with the body, the gross egoism will perish, but the subtle egoism will remain lurking. You must annihilate the subtle egoism also.

The subtle egoism is more dangerous and difficult to eradicate. I am a rich man. I am a king. I am a Brahmin. I am a learned scholar; — this is gross egoism.

I am a Yogi. I am a Jnani. I am a moral man. I am a good Sadhaka or Sadhu; —this is subtle egoism.

If you, through virtuous actions, destroy the idea of ‘I’ at the root (in the mind), then it will not spring up again. Atma-Jnana or knowledge of the Self is the fire which destroys the conceptions of Abhimana, Ahankara, etc., which are the seeds of the tree of mind.

Ways to escape from depression – Swami Sivananda 

Develop forgiveness.
Give up idle talk.
Study the sacred books.
Observe straight-forwardness.
Do no harm to any being.
Have patience, adamantine will and untiring persistence.
Drive the feeling of depression and gloom at once by enquiry, singing divine songs, prayers, chanting of OM, a brisk walk in the open air…
Try to be happy in all states and radiate only joy towards all around you.
Feel that all is light and bliss only.

Swami Sivananda Teachings on Death

Death is nothing. It is the conception of death which haunts you. As there are changes in your body childhood, youth, etc., - death is but a natural stage of passing from one receptacle to another.

Once man becomes convinced of the nature of death, that death is not annihilation or destruction, but only a change — a wonderful strength is infused in us.

This distinction of the body in reality is only like an ordinary change of the four seasons in the same year.

This assurance that death is nothing but a mere change, gives a great fearlessness and courage to mankind and for this message of fearlessness and for this method of attaining that stage — for the solution of the problem of death, mankind has to be eternally grateful to the Bhagavad Gita.

Swami Sivananda on Characteristics of One Who Has Gain Self Realization

The sage who is enjoying the bliss and peace of the Self does neither run towards society nor towards the forest.

Living in society or in solitude makes no difference to him. He is happy anywhere, in any condition. He does not depend on any external objects for his happiness. He is quite satisfied in his own Self. He is drinking the ambrosia of immortality.

This is I. This is not I. This is mine and this is not mine. Such ideas do not trouble the sage. He has become silent now because he knows now that all is his Self.

There is neither distraction nor concentration, neither pleasure nor pain, neither like nor dislike, neither loss nor gain.

Ruling a kingdom or moving about as a beggar in the streets makes no difference to him. He takes things as they come.

There is nothing whatever to do. He has no longing for anything whatsoever. The sage whose sense of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness’ has gone, who is not moved at the sight of gold or women, who treats gold, clay and stone all alike, who has cut asunder the knots of the head, is always happy.