For this purpose--the purpose of overcoming these unavoidable limitations of our personality--the remedy is to contemplate on the lives of saints. What a difficult but ideal life, saint Tulasidas lived? What a hard and painful life all our saints lived, inspite of the great obstacles placed on their path by the vast majority of the public! How difficult it is to be a man of God, can be known only when we study the lives of saints. To be a man of God, is to be a fool in the eyes of the public.
This seems to be a necessary outcome of turning one's face towards God. "Yasyaham anugrihnami tasya vittam haramyaham"--"When I want to shed My grace on any person, I deprive him of all his pleasure-centres," is a famous statement reported to have been made by Lord Narayana Himself as recorded in the Srimad-Bhagavata. What are our pleasure-centres? We know them very well. The greatest fortress of our pleasure is our own personality-consciousness, our egoism. We have many other pleasure-centres, no doubt; but the greatest among all of them is what we call, in common parlance, Izzat, dignity of personality, self-respect. This self-respect was unknown to great masters and saints. They respected God and so they were humiliated in the eyes of people, put down as 'no-ones' in the eyes of the world. What torture and what suffering they underwent--it is something terrifying, if you think over it.
We have only to read the lives of a few saints of the past. We can read even the life of such a recent personality as Swami Sivanandaji. While it is easy to think that we believe in God, it is really difficult to be true to the salt. Hence, may we take these auspicious occasions as occasions for honest Sadhana of our own conscience and spirit also, and not the Sadhana of the hands, the limbs and the feet alone. We have the Sadhana of the limbs of the body, in the form of ritualistic worship with waving the lights in the temple, opening a scripture and reading it loudly through the vocal organ and paying obeisance physically by Sashtanga Namaskara through the body. All these are beautiful, wonderful and very necessary. But they become null and void, if the conscience is set at naught and is opposed in its spirit to all our outer performances of rituals and religious observances. God is within us, in the deepest root of our being, and to turn to Him would be to turn to ourselves, in our essence, finally.
This should be the spirit of Sadhana and devotion to God and nothing can be more difficult, because it is the death of the individual personality. 'Die to live', as Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say. If you want to live in the Eternity, you have to die to the temporal, which means to say that you should die to all that you regard as beautiful, meaningful and valuable in this world. Who can do this! No ordinary man is prepared for this. No ordinary mortal can have the courage, the power and the strength to face the weaknesses of flesh, the foibles of human nature and the impetuosity of the human ego. Who can face these powerful demons! Who can face Ravana? No one, not all the gods, not even Indra could face him.
And who are we! It is not a joke to face and overcome these great negative forces. They are awful--this is the only word we can use here. They are so terrifying that even a mere thought of them is enough to make one run away. Such is the terror that one has to meet with before one becomes fit for God-realisation. Entering the Absolute is like entering a lion's den, from which you cannot come back. Fierce is the ocean, fierce is the lion, fierce is the conflagration of fire, fierce is love of God.
No one can love God, unless one is prepared to die, wholly and totally, to the so-called good, beautiful and pleasant in this world, to this body and to the ego. Hard is the job! Difficult is the task! God's grace is the only saving factor. So, may we pray to Him, the Almighty, that He may bless us with this uncanny courage, knowledge and strength, that we may realise Him in all His Glory in this very birth.