'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta
FIVE VERSES ON SPIRITUAL PRACTICE. Written by Sri Adi Shankaraachaarya. Please click on the relevant label and ensure to review the posts till date.
Now we enter the Second Shloka.
संगः सत्सु विधीयतां भगवतो भक्तिर्दृढाऽऽधीयतां
शआन्त्यादिः परिचीयतां दृढतरं कर्माशु सन्त्यज्यताम्।
सद्विदिवानुपसृप्यतां प्रतिदिनं तत्पादुका सेव्यतां
ब्रह्मैकाक्षारमर्थ्यतां श्रुतिशरोवाक्यं समाकर्ण्यताम्॥ ॥२॥
saMgaH satsu vidhiiyatAaM bhagavato bhaktirdR^iDhA.a.adhiiyatAaM
shaAntyAdiH pariciiyatAaM dR^iDhataraM karmAshu santyajyatAam.
sadvidivAnupasR^ipyatAaM pratidinaM tatpAdukA sevyatAaM
brahmaikAxaaramarthyatAaM shrutisharovAkyaM samAkarNyatAam.. ..2..
Seek companionship with men-of-wisdom
Be established in firm devotion to the Lord
Cultivate virtues such as quietude and so on
Eschew all desire-ridden actions
Take shelter with a perfected master (guru)
Everyday serve his lotus feet
Worship OM the immutable
Listen in depth to the Upanishadic declarations
Another set of eight instructions of how to gain the best when undertaking spiritual exercise. The tradition is that these apply in the vaana-prastha stage of life, but there is nothing to prevent an eager spiritual seeker from undertaking this level of dedication at an earlier point in life. Now to expand on each of these paada-s.
Shloka Two. Paada One.
Seek companionship with men-of-wisdom. सत्संगः/satsangaH is an extremely potent part of spiritual growth. Sat is wisdom (truth) and sangaH is to be attached. There is a tendency to take this at face value; find some sages and hang onto their dhoti! This is seen a lot in India. Families have 'tame' sadhus on whom they lavish food and expect to be present at family functions to give blessings. Good enough in itself but very limited. As Gurudev points out in his commentary on this paada, "a mere physical nearness to or even an emotional attachment with great men is not sufficient for their wisdom to flow into us."
It is necessary not just to hear their words and imitate their actions. We must listen (shravanam), and in our actions, have clear understanding as well as unselfish devotion. To give proper shravanam is to respect the wisdom and to allow our intellect the opportunity to expand. Much arrogance arises from the 'show of faith'; if we drop our ego and take up true companionship, the benefits of our faith will show. Thus our personality grows in size and depth, tempers its levels of receptiveness and expands its ability to reach farther than we ever thought possible. Paying close attention, giving due introspection, prostrating honestly before them is how the wisdom of the masters flows down to us. That said, it can be very difficult to meet a genuinely wise man. Saints and sages are gems, which implies rare and valuable. To come into the presence of such a one is surely due to having put in lots of positive work in this and previous lives.
In the lack of physical presence though, we can still take satsanga 'by default'; listening to their direct disciples, reading their works and acknowledging their worth all give results.
Be established in firm devotion to the Lord. Devotion is an expression of love which does not waver. It is possible to be devoted to one's family, pets, favourite pastimes. Here though, we are being asked to raise our sights and attach ourselves in Love to the Higher. When we are focused on the small things, if something goes awry it shatters that devotion, disturbs our mind. In spiritual devotion, it is in disturbance that further strength is found. It integrates the whole of our being.
Even if you veer towards the less-Theistic and more to the Humanistic side, there is no reason not to have this level of Higher Devotion. Values which provide a beacon for improvement of our condition are worth devoting ourselves to!
That which is Higher is a constant factor. When we love in the lesser fields of perception, all is well until that love is damaged in some way. Being an external love, externals threaten it. The Higher Love, however, is unaffected by externals. It is there for us to tap into. It cannot be damaged. We may let go of it, but then the fault is with us. The Higher remains, regardless. It rewards us with love every time we return to it. No strings. No recriminations. For every little bit we give, we receive so much more in return. Is this not worth our devotion?
Continue daily readings. Continue enhancing awareness of your actions. Continue to seek a dedicational aspect to those actions, this being devotion in motion. Further, consider where your key devotion lies at the moment and how much movement is required to bring it to The Higher.