Fruition of spiritual efforts

“A log of wood is tossed up and down by the flood waters. Similarly, the body is led here and there according to destiny as may be determined by the fruits of previous actions”.

Thus says Adi Shankaracharya in his ‘Vivekachudamani’ while speaking on the fruition of the spiritual efforts of man. In his quest for attaining material comforts, man commits various deeds and misdeeds. At some point, a question begins to present itself to him “Am I doing the right thing? Will all this provide me with mental peace”?

 This, says Shankara, is the beginning of his spiritual  journey. Even to embark on this pursuit, divine grace is required, as also the benedictions of a Guru or preceptor. This continuous cycle of birth, old age, disease, death and rebirth is a great forest in which man loses his way. Only the grace of the Guru can show the way out, says Shankara. Added to this is the fuel of man’s pride, vanity and arrogance. This, says Shankara, is like a tormenting tiger. 

The way out of this, the means of release from this bondage is acquiring the right kind of knowledge from a realised preceptor. By right knowledge is meant the knowledge that worldly wealth and possessions are but transient and cannot provide lasting happiness. Only the realization that there is only one all pervasive supreme power which is non-dual and which controls and oversees every action of man can help him to lift himself up towards higher levels of consciousness. 

This enhanced spiritual awareness should be the goal of all men, says Shankara. Even in mundane life, it is a matter of experience that the more spiritually and emotionally balanced a man is, the lower are his stress levels and the higher is his happiness quotient. Shankara utters these memorable lines. 

“The universe is a continuous stream of cognition of this higher divinity (Brahman), hence it is all Brahman only. Learn to see this not only in your waking state, but also condition your mind through ceaseless effort to see this in the dream state also. Just as those with external eyes see everything in this world, develop your inner eye to see the divine in yourself. This is spiritual awareness. There is no better way than this to engage your intellect. When you learn to think in this way, you will be immersed in a steady stream of bliss always. Everything else will seem petty and insignificant. It will be like the difference between seeing the real moon and an artificial, cardboard moon.  Remain contented in this self-realisation”. 

Thus, says Shankara, man will be freed of his delusions that satisfying his material needs alone will confer happiness. This delusion is as foolish as imagining a city in the sky. When this realization dawns, an inner silence, born of wisdom, independent of any extraneous things  takes root. This establishment of the mind in the higher truths is the fruition of man’s spiritual efforts, says Shankaracharya.

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