This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
Blessed Seekers of Truth:
I greet you all in the name of our blessed Lord Gurudev Sivananda and in Divine Life.
I greet you all in the name of our blessed Lord Jesus the Christ, the Great Messenger of God, who incarnated upon earth to teach men for all times, that way of life that brings you face to face with God. In the history of mankind, there has rarely been a life as holy, as pure, as divinely compassionate and sublimely truth-filled as the life of Jesus. He was the very personification of loftiest virtue. Very few in all the range of human history have been the beings so full of a motiveless, spontaneous and all-encompassing love and Divine compassion radiated through every atom of this Godly being. Jesus verily lived the highest ideal of Divine Life.
This month is the holiest of all months in the calendar for it is the blessed advent of this great Teacher of mankind. Christmas is the holy period for Spiritual joy and inspiration unto a higher life. The pattern of life demonstrated by Jesus is one of intense and almost effortless doing of good deeds to help others and to bring joy into their life. His ideal saintly life rested upon a foundation of deep devotion, prolonged prayer, much penance and inner contemplation. His was not a soft life of ease or comfort. Austere simplicity, strenuous and rugged open air life, food that chance had brought and no fixed abode, - such was the life of the Master. His flaming spirit of renunciation, his absolute desirelessness and his total surrender to the will of God constitute his fundamental call to modern man. Humanity of today has created a Hell upon earth for itself by its extreme egoistic self-will, its insatiable desires without end and its intense greed and clinging attachments. To live as Christ lived would be to free oneself at once from this binding net of man-made sorrow and to experience peace and joy of God's Kingdom hereupon earth. If only the world today could observe Christmas instead of celebrating it, it would soon be walking out of darkness into light. May the spirit of Jesus help man to move towards God. The Lord be with you: May His Light lead you on the pathway of life through all the coming years.
In this month of Margashirsha it is that, many centuries ago, Lord Sri Krishna delivered His immortal message to mankind through His disciple Arjun. Sacred Gita Jayanti is to be observed on the 15th of December, throughout the length and breadth of India. Arrangements are afoot to conduct this memorable Anniversary at Kurukshetra continuously for a period of eighteen days (from December 15th, 64 to January 1st, 1965) with a programme of holy gatherings, religious Conferences and Spiritual discourses. This servant of the Master has been invited to participate in at least one entire day's programme there. It is possible I may make this immediately after conclusion of the Chandigarh All-India Divine Life Conference which ends on 27th December, 1964. On the 28th or 29th December I am thinking of taking as many of the delegates and functionaries of the Conference as are willing to accompany and go to Kurukshetra for a day's camp and service there. It will be as Gurudev may wish it to be. I would urge everyone of you to take to a systematic study of (and a devout and humble study at that) the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament of the Bible from this month onwards. This will bring about a transformation in your entire life, I promise you. And if possible make your acquaintance with Thomas A' Kempis's Imitation of Christ as well as the 11th Skandha of the Bhagavata Mahapurana. An English translation of this letter text is available from the Ramkrishna Mission Publication Department. Srimad Bhagavad Gita and the 11th Skandha of Srimad Bhagavta Maha Purana, containing as they do the direct personal teachings of Bhagavan Himself, sum up the entire range of spiritual wisdom and highest Upadesha. The mystery of the Supreme Divinity is revealed therein.
Learn from this world. There is much it has to teach. Life itself is a school. Life is full of essence. Everything perceived through the senses could verily be more than books and sermons if you would learn to see the hidden wisdom underlying such perception. All your experiences come with a message to you. Those who have eyes, can see. Be a learner always. Wisdom can be gathered between each sunrise and sunset. Thus at each eventide can you find yourself wiser than you were at daybreak. Even the very elements exist to teach. Thus declared the great teacher of mankind Sri Dattatreya, the Parama Avadhuta. This shared wisdom of his is to be got in the 11th Skandha as well. The holy Birth Anniversary of the Lord Dattatreya that occurs on the 18th, brings to my mind this great wisdom-treasure imparted by Avadhuta Dattatreya to the great Yadu. Study it in Adhyayas 7, 8, 9 of Skandha 11.
Last month has been a month of great spiritual activity in different parts of India. An important one among them has been the Maha-Rudri-Yajna conducted at Amritsar in Punjab under the direct personal blessings and presence of their exalted Holiness, the three great Jagadguru Sankaracharyas of Dwarka, Joshimutt and Puri. Blessed indeed were the fortunate souls to have the Darshan of these great Spiritual luminaries. The Vedanta Conference of H. H. Swami Nirmal and the Punjab Gita Conference of H. H. Vedavyasji created Spiritual waves too. This servant's visit to Lucknow, the Capital of Uttar Pradesh provided scope for much spiritual service. Two new branches of the Divine Life Society have been started in Aligarh. This month too is proving to be a month of much activity. I am soon to leave to South for the 8th Andhra Pradesh Divine Life Conference at Mehbubabad. Shall be at Hyderabad on 8th December and attend the conference at Mehbubabad on 11th, 12th and 13th December.
On my way back to North to participate in the 17th All India Divine Life Conference at Chandigarh I shall break journey for a day at Kirkee (Poona) to meet the Divine Life workers of that branch as also to go to have Darshan of the venerable Sadhu T.L. Vaswanji and offer my love and respects to the holy man of God. There was deep affection and Spiritual friendship between revered Sadhuji and our worshipful Gurudev. From Poona straight North to be in good time for the Chandigarh Conference. Significantly, this conference opens upon the holy Christmas Day. I am hoping to be back at the holy abode of Sri Gurudev by the 31st of December to be present at the sacred Pratishtha Anniversary of the holy Sri Vishwanath Mandir of the Ashram. This also means the new year's eve, for the Mandir Anniversary is on the last day of the year.
Before I close now let me request all of you to sing the most sacred and exalted Mantra of this Kali Yuga, namely, the supreme MAHA MANTRA. It was in this month (on the 3rd) twenty-one years ago that Gurudev initiated the Akhanda Maha Mantra Kirtan Yajna at the Ashram Bhajan Hal for World-welfare and peace. This great Mantra raises you to sublime level of God Experience:
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Repeat this every night before you retire, breathing a prayer for the world-welfare and peace. May God bless you.
With my deepest regards and Pranams, Jai Sri Gurudev.
Yours in Sri Gurudev,
1st December, 1964.
Sivanandashram Letter No. XVI