Words have a profound effect on the mind
Liberation means getting rid of bondage. Many people give up hearth and home, wife and children, property and possessions, and escaping into forest retreats pride themselves on their 'renunciation.' But this act of fleeing cannot be honoured by that name, for such an act by itself cannot confer release, when the mind still remains bound. The fundamental bond which has to be got rid of Is the bond of Ajnana (primal ignorance). Death is sweeter than the bondage that Ignorance can impose on man. Cast away ignorance- you are free, liberated from all bonds that very moment. All spiritual disciplines have this liberation as their goal. Nama Samkeertan (Heart-felt singing of divine names) too, helps you get rid of this basic ignorance.
Those who rely on reason alone or on the limited laws of science, argue that the repetition of the Name which is, after all, sound, cannot cleanse or correct the mind of man. But the Name is not just 'sound.' You are sitting quietly there, listening, but if someone merely says, 'scorpion,' you get frightened. Or when someone says, the juice of a lemon, your mouth starts watering. You may be sitting before a plateful of delicacies, but if someone speaks of something dirty or disgusting, you are apt to refuse the food. The mere sound creates so much of reaction:
A certain officer was inspecting the work of a teacher in a school. He had a hearty contempt for mere talk, so he asked the teacher, "How can you ever transform the nature of these children by the words you utter? Show them by deeds; act, don't speak." The teacher protested and argued that words have a profound effect on the mind. The argument continued for some time. At last the teacher resolved upon a plan to convince the officer of his point of view. He told an urchin of his class, "Here! Catch this officer by the neck and push him out of the room." Hearing those words, the officer flew into a great rage and started pouring abuse on the teacher. The teacher said, "-Sir, I only said a few words. No one pushed you or hit you or touched you. It was all mere sound. But see how it has enraged you. Words, sir, do help in modifying character and shaping nature. They have vast power," he said.
Do not seek to discover the evil in others
When words referring to worldly situations have such a transforming effect on the mind of man, words conveying spiritual and elevated meaning will certainly help in cleansing and correcting the mind of man. When we fill the air with harshness, we become harsh in nature. When we fill the atmosphere with hatred we, too, have perforce to breathe the air, and are hated in turn. When we saturate the air with sounds full of reverence, humility, love, courage, self-confidence and tolerance, we benefit from those qualities ourselves. The heart is the film and the mind is the lens; turn the lens towards the world and worldly pictures will fall on the heart. Turn it towards God, and it will transmit pictures of the Divine.
Therefore always do good, see good, remember good and be good. Do not seek to discover or discuss the evil in others for the attempt will tarnish your own mind. When you are engaged in searching for the faults and failings of others, you are paving the way for developing those faults and failings in yourself. Dwell on the good in others, and in time it will prove an asset to you. The goodness latent in you shall then be urged to sprout and blossom.
Every thought leaves an impression on the mind
When you pray. "Swami, appear in my dream tonight," there is a chance that you may be lucky to visualise Swami in your dream. But if you pray, turning your attention to bad things, "Swami, let not a pig or an ass appear in my dream this night," in all likelihood, the pig and the ass will present themselves to you in your dream. Why pay undue attention to things you do not need and do not benefit from? Every thought leaves an impression on the mind, so be ever alert that contact with evil is avoided.
Ideas which are opposed to spiritual tendencies, that narrow the limits of love, that provoke anger or greed, that cause disgust---these have to be shut out. For the Sadhaka this is a very essential discipline. He must sublimate such thoughts before they cause an impact on the mind, and should concentrate on the very source of the thinking process. This can be achieved by the practice of equanimity or balance. This attitude is the mark of the Jnani (liberated person) and is called Jnana-Shakti (the power of wisdom). Of course it is not easily acquired. The path of devotion and dedication - the Bhakti Marga, is easiest for most. It is attainable by love, for love leads you quickly to the Goal.
Once upon a time, Namadeva (noted for his mastery of the Bhakti Marga through constant recital of the Name) and Jnanadeva (noted for his mastery of the path of wisdom), were together crossing a thick jungle. They were both afflicted with severe thirst but could not find water anywhere in spite of a tiresome search. At last they came upon a ruined well with a little water far down its depths, but they had no means of going down the steep sides. So Jnanadeva used his power and transformed himself into a bird. The bird flew down and drank its fill, only to change itself into Jnanadeva again! Namadeva relied upon the power of the Name. He sat on the edge of the well and called, 'Narayana,' in great anguish. God responded to his prayer. The water rose up to where he sat and he could gather it in his palms and quench his thirst. He had no need to embody himself anew and disembody himself again for the satisfaction of a physical thirst.
When God is invoked by prayer that emanates from the heart, let it be but once, He responds immediately. But now the call emanates only from the lips, it has not the ring of sincerity and faith. From the lips, it must roll back on the tongue: from the tongue, it must go deep into the throat; from the throat, it must reach down into the heart. Continuous Sadhana alone can grant success in this endeavour. You must become like an Infant with no inhibitions or stratagems. The mother may be attending to her daily chores on the first floor of the house, leaving the infant in the cradle on the ground floor. But when the child sends up a loud wail, either through fear or hunger, she rushes down to lift the child, fondle it, feed it and comfort it on her lap. She will not stay away because of the wall not being musical or melodious.
Man's life has become pathetically artificial
Similarly, the Mother of the Universe will not weigh the quantity of Yoga (divine communion) that you have practised, or calculate the number of Japams (repetition of sacred formulae) you have rolled on the rosary, or the time taken by you for Sadhanas of various kinds. She can be moved and Her Grace can be won by a genuine appeal emanating from the heart. Man is finding it increasingly difficult to call upon the Supreme Source of power and grace with such genuineness. His life has become pathetically artificial.
Kamadhenu (the wish-fulfilling heavenly cowl, can be drawn and tied to a post by means of a rope. God, too, can be drawn towards you by the rope (the Name), and tied to the post (the tongue). Then His Name will be dancing upon the tongue forever, conferring the sweetness of His Majesty. The Name has to be sung for your own delight, to quench your own thirst, to appease your own hunger. No one eats to appease another's hunger, nor takes drugs to alleviate another's illness. So do not care for what others feel about your Dhyana (meditation) or Bhajan. Do not seek the approval, appreciation or admiration of others, or refrain from Dhyana or Bhajan because others dislike it or ridicule it. Be self-reliant, self-confident. See through your own eyes; hear through your own ears. Most people today believe their ears and deny their eyes; or they use the eyes, ears and even the brains of others and thus fall into error and fear.
You are shaped by the company you keep
Consider this: Here you do Bhajans twice a day, but Bhojans (meals) are taken four times a day! Physical exercises are resorted to in order to make the body strong and fit. Dhaanya (grain, cereal) is grown and stored and used to strengthen the body; Dhyana (meditation) is equally necessary for strengthening the mind so that in its weak state it may not yield to the viruses of lust, greed, anger, hatred, pride, etc. If the body is well-developed and the head is weak, it is a case fit for the lunatic asylum. Food should be for both body and head, and both these should be dedicated to the Realisation of God, the Truth behind and beyond all truths.
Seeking good company and spending all available time in that comradeship called Satsang (holy company), will help the aspirant a great deal. You are shaped by the company you keep; a piece of iron turns into rust if it seeks the company of the soil. It glows, it softens and takes on useful shapes if it enjoys the company of fire. Dust can fly if it chooses the wind as its friend; it has to end as slime in a pit if it prefers water. It has neither wing nor foot, yet it can either fly or walk, rise or fall, according to the friend it selects.
Knowing this truth, Kabir, the great mystic-poet, sang, “Here are my prostrations to the bad. Here are my prostrations to the good.” When asked why he offered prostrations to the bad along with the good, he replied, “I prostrate before the bad so that they might leave me alone; I do the same before the good, so that they might remain near me always.”
Here is a burning coal; here, at some distance, is a cold piece of coal. When they contact each other, the heat spreads to the cold piece of coal, and the part that is in contact with the burning coal is rendered hot and red. If you vigorously sway a fan over the contact area, soon the entire coal becomes a burning ember. 'Near,' alone, is not enough for realisation; one has to make it 'dear' by the fan of Sadhana. This is the power of Sadhana, by which the human becomes Divine. The Vedas say that he who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman. The coal knew fire and became fire. Sadhana is the cultivation of Prema (love). Be full of love, taste the exhilaration that love can confer. Man is love embodied: he thirsts for love and he finds real joy in 1ovlng and receiving selfless love. You have forgotten your real nature, which is love, and so you exude misery, hate and jealousy. Never be morose or melancholic. Let all see you exuberant with love and light and joy. Do not entertain passion or prejudice, anger or anxiety. Take the Sadhana of the Name, the Nama Sankeertan, and the path will be smooth.
This programme of Bhajan continuously done for 24 hours all round the world in all lands, has therefore and spread the message of love through the Names of Embodiment of Universal love. It has saturated the atmosphere with thoughts of God and of the peace and joy that He showers. The Bhajan that you have done here has affected not only this particular area and its environment, but it will transmute the entire atmosphere. Continue this attitude of devotion and humility, of service and tolerance, and the atmosphere will not be polluted by hatred. Do not contaminate the air by voices of acrimony, scandal, insult or slander. Keep silent when you feel like expressing such ideas; that itself is a service to you and to others.
Life is a song, sing it. That is what Krishna taught through His life. Arjuna heard that song on the battlefield, where tensions were at their highest and when the fate of millions was to be decided by the sword. Krishna sang the Geeta for Arjuna to listen. Geeta means 'song,' and He sang because He was Ananda (Divine Bliss), wherever he might be – in Gokulam, on the banks of the Yamuna or at Kurukshetra between the warring armies.
You too must pass your days in song. Let your whole life be a Bhajan. Believe that God is everywhere at all times, and derive strength, comfort and joy by singing His Glory in His Presence. Let melody and harmony surge up from your hearts and let all take delight in the Love that you express through that song.
Source: Divine Discourse on the First Global Akhanda Bhajans at Prasanthi Nilayam – November 14, 1976