This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
May the abundant Grace of the ever-munificent Lord Shiva, the easily-pleased-one, shower upon you on the eve of the most blessed Mahashivaratri day. In continuation of letter number four that appeared here last month, I have now to enlarge upon the theme of spiritual RESOLUTIONS which formed the central subject of that previous letter. Mention was made therein (vide page 11) that more was to be said and it would be said now. What is the place of resolution in the path of Sadhana? What part does such a resolution play in your life? The answer is that resolution is the very basis and origin of all endeavour and achievement. Spiritual aspirations and efforts are no exception to this. All the more is it so in the spiritual field. Specially because, here you are mostly to struggle alone. The comfort and consolation, the support and strength of group endeavours are not so much available to the Sadhakas as they are to people in other fields of secular endeavour. The spiritual seeker does not move in a set-up like that of a whole company of soldiers moving resolutely forward into determined action upon the battle-field. Because, spiritual aspirants and Sadhaaks are a scattered brotherhood, a small minority in this world, manfully endeavouring to ever press forward the Divine Goal in the face of a thousand obstacles and adverse currents. Great resolution is essential.
See what Gurudev himself says upon this point. Here are his words, The spiritual path is thorny, precipitous and rugged. Temptations will assail you. Your will, sometimes, become weak. Sometimes there will be downfall or a backward pull by the dark Asuric antagonistic forces. In order to strengthen your will and resist the unfavourable currents, you will have to make, again and again, fresh resolves. This will help you to ascend the ladder of Yoga, vigorously and quickly. Stick to them tenaciously. Watch the mind carefully and keep a daily spiritual record.
When you make these resolves, stand before the Lord's picture, with folded hands, and pray devoutly for His grace and mercy. You will doubtless get immense strength to carry out these resolves.
Even if you fail in your attempt, do not be discouraged. Every failure is a stepping-stone for success. Make a fresh resolve again with more firm and fiery determination. You are bound to succeed. Conquest over the weakness will give you additional strength and will-force to get over another weakness or defect. The baby tries to walk, gets up and falls down. Again it makes another attempt. Eventually, it walks steadily. Even so, you will have to fall down and get up again and again, when you walk in spiritual path. In the long run, you will steadily climb up to the summit of the hill of Yoga and reach the pinnacle of Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Thus we see Iccha-Shakti is the motive force behind all Kriya or activity. Hence the ancients have clearly mentioned SUBHECCHA as the first level or Bhumika of the spiritual ascent when they enumerated the Sapta-Jnana Bhumika. With equal emphasis has the blessed Lord declared unmistakably that right resolution verily becomes turning point in one's life. (vide Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9, verse 30).
Such resolution is Daivi Sampatti. Such resolution does not contradict surrender or humility for it indeed constitutes the very expression of perfect trust in the Lord's Divine support and our faith in His graciousness to sustain us in our spiritual life.
Now coming to our specific position as the disciples at the feet of Sadguru-Dev Sivananda, there are certain definite points for you to resolve upon as the members of the Divine Life Society. You must embody Gurudev's teachings. And the essence of his practical instructions to you on the spiritual path have been summed up in five or six important admonitions of his. These, every member of the Divine Life Society must have at his finger-tips. They should be engraved in your heart, to follow them and to incorporate them in your life would be totally fulfilling Gurudev's concept of Divine Life. It will make your very life a living exposition of Gospel of Sivananda. Sri Gurudev laid the greatest importance to the observance of these sets of his personal teachings which I now give for your close attention. They are contained in the following: -
1. The RESOLVE FORM with its 18 items.
2. Twenty spiritual instructions.
3. The science of seven cultures.
4. A daily routine Time-table with well thought out, systematic programme from dawn till night. This may not be rigid but flexible according to dictates of common-sense.
5. The daily spiritual diary to be maintained in order to cheek up both upon your resolve from as well as your daily routine.
6. The Universal prayer beginning with O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love, which produces a complete pattern of the sublimest ideals of Divine Life in practice.
These six things constitute Gurudev's complete method for quick evolution and dynamic spiritual progress. They stand for the heart of Gurudev Sivananda's teachings. During more than 35 years of ceaseless spiritual propagation and dynamic awakening work Gurudev has consistently hammered upon these teachings, tirelessly preached them and broadcast to every nook and corner of the world. Even if all the rest of his spiritual literature were to be taken away from this earth, these six things alone would be amply providing the fullest spiritual guidance and practical teachings to the entire world. They alone would be enough to sustain the spiritual life of humanity. The teachings contained in these six items are comprehensive and are quite capable of guiding you and taking you right up to the great goal of highest spiritual attainments or highest Kaivalya Moksha. Take definite resolves and record them in resolve form. Draw a daily routine and follow it. Maintain spiritual diary. Follow twenty spiritual instructions. Live in the spirit of Sadhana Tattwa. Translate the Universal prayer into your actual life. Yes, the Resolve form, the twenty spiritual instructions, Spiritual Diary and Sadhana Tattwa represent Gurudev himself. They are the whole of Gurudev's teachings to modern humanity, in a nutshell. Enter into the spirit of these teachings. Assimilate these teachings. Make them your own. Live them. Thus you will be granted the highest spiritual blessedness and will attain the goal of all spiritual Sadhana. They can bring you face to face with God. May Sat-Gurudev make himself manifest to you through these six important Sadhanas of his. May His grace enable you to fulfil these in your life and become the partakers of the highest experience of Divine Bliss, Spiritual Illumination in this very life. Jai Gurudev Sivananda.
Your in the Lord,
1st February, 1964
Sivanandashram Letter No. VI