Five Steps of Spirituality
The following talk was give by Ma at the Antioch Center on October 16, 2010 on the occasion of her birthday.
Shri Anandi Ma:
My dear parents, who are worthy of extreme worship, and dear brothers and sisters,
Today on the occasion of my birthday celebration I bow down a million times to my parents, by whose grace I attained this body and also met Guruji; and of course billions of pranams to Guruji, by whose grace I am here today and moving forward.
We are here to celebrate both Dashera and my birthday. At the ashram in Nikora in India, they are also celebrating with a fire ceremony to the Divine Mother, and so it is a pleasure and a joy, that something spiritual is being done for all to take part.
Celebrations such as the birthday of the guru, Guru Purnima day, New Year’s Day are opportunities for the guru and disciple to be together, to meet and exchange glances. Meeting on such occasions strengthens and deepens the bond between the guru and disciple. At the same time, these meetings serve as pivotal moments to remove the faults that remain in the personal practice of the disciple. Hopefully you all have done some extra practices during these past nine days of Navratri.
In the scripture known as the Rudrayamal Tantra, there is a section called the Gauri Tantra in which there is a short stotram, the Kunjika stotram that is a conversation between Lord Shiva and Parvati. Within that Kunjika stotram, Lord Shiva talks about the five steps to spirituality. One is known as maaran, which means killing or destroying. The second is mohan, which means to win the mind, or attract. The third is vashikaran, meaning to bring under absolute control. The fourth is stambhan, meaning to stop something in its tracks, not allowing it to move. Finally, the last is known as uchatan, which means to displace or remove one object from its standing and throw it off to another place. By recitation of this short stotram, versus the entire long, difficult Tantra, one can attain the siddhi, or perfection, of these spiritual steps. Note, these steps can be used to attain positive and uplifting, as well as, negative and harmful powers depending on the attitude of the aspirant.
In the sattvic scriptures, such as the Ramayan, these are all steps a person seeking realization would follow. In the Ramayan, through the narratives of the different characters, various paths to reach Ram are demonstrated. Ravan, for example, represents the negative qualities that exist within us such as anger, lust, greed, and ego. When negative forces have taken over, the person is not in control. He or she is totally lost. With the dominance of negative energy, the ego becomes so powerful that the individual begins to believe himself as supreme. Vanquishing Ravan represents the conquering of those aspects and the removal of blockages in our spiritual evolution. This is what the first step maaran, or destroying, is all about.
The second step of mohan, meaning to win or attract, helps us to attain the grace of the deity. You may have a chosen form of the Divine, ishtadev as it is known. Whether it is Ram or Krishna or Buddha or Christ it doesn’t matter; ultimately it’s all one. Be so devoted to your ishtadev that you win the heart and mind of the deity. Whether food is being offered or a song is being sung, if total devotion is there, the form of the Lord will be present and the two, the devotee and the Divine, are lost in each other. That is mohan.
The third step is vashikaran, which is to seize control. What we need to gain absolute control over is our own mind. A classic example in the Ramayan is that of Ravana’s brother, Vibhishan. Although the dark or the tamasic qualities were also predominant in the mind of Vibhishan, he exercised his own will and energy to control his mind and senses. Through pratyahar, withdrawing the senses from external stimuli and turning inward, he one-pointedly concentrated on the Lord. He went within and through that control, won the heart of Ram. While Ravan lost everything in the end, Vibhishan gained material wealth, as well as the grace of Lord Ram.
The fourth step known as stambhan means to stop completely. The senses need to be strictly restrained so they cannot be allowed to indulge in the world. Lord Hanuman is a classic example of this. Hanumanji exercised extreme will and determination to gain mastery over the mind and senses, and tuned them to be in sync with the Divine. He was so immersed in the thought of the Lord that the energy of Ram resonated constantly from every pore of his being.
The last step is known as uchatan, meaning to throw off or displace. Your longing to meet and reach the Lord, your longing to attain realization, must be in such a state of desperation that you cannot spend a moment without the Lord, and you are struggling constantly every minute with how quickly you can reach that state of union. Yogis compare this state to jala bina meena, or a fish out of water. There is a beautiful example of this in the Ramayan of Shabari. When Shabari was a young girl, her guru told her that the Lord would come to her doorstep. With tremendous faith and patience, every day she swept the pathway and brought berries and waited for the Lord to come to her hut.
As she grew old, her eyes were constantly watching the path and waiting for the day when Lord Ram would take His steps towards her. She yearned for the vision of Shri Ram. The only thing she could offer Him were the fresh berries she picked every day. Every night, as the wind blew and the windows clanked and shuddered, she thought, “Oh, maybe that’s the Lord coming,” and she would wake up from the midst of her deep sleep. With every little noise that she heard, her mind contemplated, “God is indeed here now,” and with that excitement and enthusiasm, she looked forward to casting her eyes upon Him. That is uchatan, the displacing of yourself, setting the heart in such a place that it cannot settle down until the Lord is met.
Another beautiful example is of Lord Rama’s brother, Bharat. During the fourteen years of Shri Ram’s exile into the forest, Bharat ruled as the king of Ayodhya on behalf of his brother. It seemed like a long time, but Bharat felt only excitement thinking about when those fourteen years would end and Lord Ram would be present again. It is said that both brothers, Bharat and Lakshman, had devotion to the Lord, but of different categories. One was with the form, and the other with the formless. Lakshman was physically present with Lord Ram at all times, but because Bharat was unable he turned his mental focus on being with Lord Ram within his heart every moment of the day. Bharat said to Ram, “If you are even one day late in returning from the forest, if you are not present on the first day after the fourteenth year is over, I won’t live. I will enter the fire and give up the body, so you better be here.” That eagerness and level of devotion is uchatan.
These are five aspects of spiritual evolution and on this unique day of Dashera, I pray to Lord Ram and to all the beings in the Ramayan, which are part and parcel of Himself, that you may achieve those spiritual tendencies and sattvic qualities and merge with the form that you choose.
So what gift can you give me today on my birthday? The best gift you can give me is your daily practice, your daily meditation, daily japa of the guru mantra; this is the gift I would like to receive from you. The birth of the guru, the birth of a saint, is not just a single day celebration; it’s a daily celebration. Every day you have to work to strengthen that bond between you and the guru, between you and God. Every day you have to work to deepen your love bond between God and guru. With every sunrise, that should become stronger. Daily practice is a must. Thread is very delicate; a silk thread or a cotton thread can break very easily. Even rope can be broken. But the subtle bond is unbreakable. That subtle bond of love is the strongest bond on earth. There is no force that can break it if it truly exists between the devotee and the Divine, between the guru and disciple. So may the Divine Mother and Lord Ram and Guru reside in your heart and lead you to that ultimate state of welfare.
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niramayah
Sarve bhadrani pasyantu
Ma kascid dukhabhag bhavet
Ma kascid dukhabhag bhavet
Om shantih shantih shantih
Shri Ramachandra bhagavan ki jai!
Sadaguru Deva ki jai!