We take great pleasure in presenting this book, Relief of Tension, Depression and Anxiety through Spiritual Living, as we believe the practical suggestions given by its author will do much to relieve people of the tensions of modern life. This work is meant not only for those expressly suffering from mental tensions, but also for all of us who are swept up in this fast- paced, high-tech world that is devoid of any concern for human feelings.
There has long been a need for a work that establishes the all-round benefits of spiritual living, and this book fills that gap. It is like a beacon light that directs itself to all corners of the mind, dispelling our fears and anxieties. It shows how spiritual values alone can bring peace and integrity to our life, and how a society bereft or spirituality will necessarily given rise to more asylums and correctional institutions. Even while dealing with modern struggles, the learned author has upheld traditional values.
We are grateful to all those who have helped us in the publication of this volume. We shall consider our endeavour amply rewarded if our readers benefit from this book and send us feedback about its influence on their lives.
As the source of all things, life is divine through and though. Therefore, our fundamental problems in life can only be solved when we are able to discover the centre of life, which is our hidden divinity. Thought and project-matter appears divinity upon every topic in this humble work will not escape the notice of a perceptive reader.
Many of the topics are important to spiritual seekers no matter what path they have chosen. Generally, they all direct the readers to a scheme of holistic living instead of a modern lifestyle bereft of spiritual insights. Society currently faces the problems raised by a critical erosion of positive, life-building and life-sustaining values. Lacking exposure to "sane values," moderns are typically irreverent and casual about deeper philosophical questions that more thoughtful people contemplate.
If one's objective is a sincere pursuit of all-round well-being through a healthy scheme of life, a holistic, integrated, stable life of righteousness can be actualized. This remains true in diverse circumstances. My own modest objective in responding to the urgent, apparent need for a holistic view of life is an earnest hope that this humble work may evoke interest in that direction.
I am indebted to Renu Pandita of Columbai University for supplying me with numerous volumes and Shakuntala Sarkar, PhD, for providing many extracts pertinent to this book. Mrs. Probhati Mukherjee of New Delhi and Professor Joanne Kilgour Dowdy went through the entire manuscript in its preliminary stage. I thank them for their kind help.
If the readers is benefited in any way by reading this book, I shall consider their benefit to be the fruit of my labour of love.
We are obsessed with our bodies and generally with the material aspects of life, to the detriment of our souls and the spiritual dimension of life. As Swami Tathagatananda explains in his book, this is the main cause of the epidemic of tension, anxiety, depression, fear, gloom and insecurity in our time. When these are the mind they have a negative effect on our physical health. The root cause of these problems is the lack of a spiritual dimension in our lives. Organic foods, over- the-counter pills, psychotropic medications and hallucinogenic drugs will not cure our emotional ailments. From the first line of his book to the last, Swami Tathagatananda explains that effective relief from the psychological problems that beset us can only come from changing the emphasis in our lives from the worldly and selfish to the spiritual and unselfish. He does this in various ways and from many angles.
In the course of his book Swami Tathagatananda draws some significant distinctions, which at first glance, might seem surprising. The first is to differentiate culture from civilization. They are related but not the same. Civilization is compared to the body and culture to the soul. Civilization has to do with the external, the material, the mastery of nature and worldly life. Culture, "the domain of values," is concerned with the internal, the moral and depends on eternal spiritual values: "Great civilization posses utilitarian knowledge, civic service and material pleasures that bring worldly happiness to society; great cultures contribute to a refined humanity that enjoys vertical spiritual growth." Only a spiritual life can bring lasting peace and joy in life. Culture involves the bring lasting peace and joy in life. Culture involves the elevation and implementation of spiritual values. Culture helps us to overcome egoism by leading us to recognize our spiritual connection with the Divine. "Unity with the Divine fulfills the one desire that underlies all the other desire that hide it from our view. Our need is for unity with the all-loving Divine." Without this, we always feel a lack in our lives, as St. Augustine explains so well in his Confessions. With unity in the Divine, we have everything.
Another important distinction is present in the book: "There is an essential distinction between "fun" and "joy." Fun or amusement is temporary and : tends to lead us away from morality and virtue," whereas lasting, profound joy comes from spiritual living and self-control. In his well-known book, Amusing Ourselves to Delhi, sociologist Neil Postman carefully explains that the quest for amusement has become a sort of religion in the west, especially in America. The quest for fun has permeated our society, invading not just family life and friendships but also education, work and even religious teaching. There is a place for just about everything in the modern world but when frivolity takes over a society, that society is characterized by superficial goals and dissatisfaction in life. The struggle to have fun in life is a superficial struggle that brings no lasting joy, in spite of all our efforts. Joyfulness arises from the inner harmony that can only come from living a moral and spiritual life. This inner and outer joyfulness is the value of cheerfulness.
Cheerfulness not only contributes to mental and physical health, it reflects a spiritual orientation in life. We need only think of the Elder Zossima in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov to understand this point. Though suffering from a mortal illness, Zossima, greeted everyone with cheerfulness, uplifting all who came to see him with their problems. His steadfast, cheerful attitude was the result of his spiritual attainment. Dostoevsky based this character on a real person of his acquaintance.
Swami Tathagatananda also distinguishes spiritual solitude from the various sorts of ordinary human loneliness. "Man is solitary by choice; his strength of mind depends on inner soul awareness
.Religion is what we do in our solitariness." On the other hand. "Man is lonely by indifference and neglect; through weakness of mind he depends on external, impermanent and material things."
Swami Tathagatananda gives the basic message of unity with the Divine in wave after wave of material which has the cumulative effects of pushing us away from aimless, sensate life and into spiritual life. He helps us to overcome our "spiritual lethargy" so that we can substitute an uplifted, unselfish mind for a "mind soaked in materialism." "Spiritual life minimizes stress through the effective control of the mind," severing the root of our emotional problems. Through spiritual practices we can replace negative emotions, instead of wallowing in them. Instead of giving, in to our current love affair with the freedom to do anything, which enslaves us to harmful habits, the Swami urges us develop "a pure mind which is an infinite storehouse of power" and gives us a prescription for doing so.
The Age of Progress and Science in which we currently live is also variously described as the Age of Tension, the Age of Anxiety, the Age of Depression, the Age of Violence, the Age of Crime, the Age of fear. Reflecting on this, we find that evil essentially stems from ignorance of the, spiritual dimension of life. Swami Vivekananda says, "It is a change of the soul itself for the better that alone will cure the evils of life. No amount of force, or government, or legislative cruelty will change the conditions of a race, but it is spiritual culture and ethical culture alone that can change wrong
tendencies for the better" (C.W., III: 182).
Secular knowledge does not give us Self-knowledge. Though it give us miraculous control over Nature, worldly knowledge does very little to help us control our emotions and social behavior. As result, our life is oriented to external objects. We have every sort of possession except self-possession. We are obsessed with physical security but lack emotional and spiritual security. Spiritual knowledge encourages values that motivate us to improve our human worth. Spiritual insight harmonizes and enriches our subjective life. It helps us acquire positive, enduring values to live by.
Everything has improved in our nuclear age except our values of life. Most of us associate "value" with "pay, promotion and pleasure." We do not feel we have to account for any lack of integrity in these pursuits. The tense, insecure and fearful mood that prevails in a worlds of increased violence and terrorism separates us from our spiritual foundation of life. A pall of existential gloom envelops us, making us psychically and psychically weak:
Man surfing intellectually from a sense of insecurity, ethically from a sense of anxiety. In moments of self-analysis, he examines his past and feels distressed in spirit, unsure of himself, pulled this way and that. He becomes embittered, sick unto death. He is haunted with a sense of mystery, has the feeling of being weak, incompetent, frail, ignorant, evil, unholy. This unhappy being, whose heart is torn by secret, sufferings, is terribly alone, struggling not with external forces but with himself. This divided, riven being, tormented by fear, at odds with himself, is weighed down by despair. There is no unhappiness greater than that of division. (S. Radhakrishna, Recovery of Faith (1995), p. 98)
The time has arrived for us to make more practical use of our moral and spiritual insights and to pursuer "right conduct" with greater enthusiasm. We are to surrender outdate attitudes and incorporate a new vision of human progress that is based on spiritual growth.
Hungarian chemist Albert Szent-Gyorgi received the Noble Prize (1937) for his discovery of Vitamin C. He said, "Snakes can grow only by bursting their skins. Molting has to be a painful process and should it fail, the snake would die. Mankind grows by bursting the outgrown skin of antiquated ideas, thinking, and institutions, "Our thick-skinned superficial ideas must be sloughed off if we are to survive.
The dimension of our inner mind is shrunken and frail from lack of spiritual nourishment; out outer life is bloated with over indulgence. Our meaningless secular lifestyles and lifestyles and single-minded material pursuits reflect a shallow spiritual dimension of life. Progress signifies more than speed and comfort; it indicates direction and purpose that culminate in self-fulfilment.
Plainly, human progress has no meaning without awakened, active spiritual values. Life is signification precisely because of the capacity we have to strive for the imperative ideals considered vital over the long ages. Sages and saints have treasured this pursuit above all others for the purity, strength and nobility it imparts. The same ideals improve the lives of ordinary men and women and give the gift of a strengthened, resolute mind guided by a noble outlook.
A worthy life is one that absorbs and implements the conveyed wisdom and honoured traditions of our long human heritage. Information does not constitute knowledge, nor does knowledge constitute wisdom. If personality is to be transformed in wisdom as much as in knowledge, increase in knowledge will be increase in sorrow" (Bertrand Russell, Impact of Science on Society, pp. 120-1).
Values emerge at all levels in society. A true community maintains itself and harmonizes its practical of renunciation and service that produce humane, cultured, unselfish citizens. To foster a spiritual attitude and generate ethical and moral culture are the chief objectives of society.
Our ideas determine our views. Our conception of life sets the entire tone of our way of life. We can trace all conflict of ideas and world views to the mental constitution and cultural background of individuals. The wrong conception of life is the root of conflict in the world, wherein the price of ignorance is heavy. All our troubles are due to spiritual ignorance.
We are the focus of all values. India's mystics delving deep into the self had the revelation of an infinite vista of human potential. We are the epitome of the cosmos. In Swami Vivekananda's words, 'Man is the most representative being in the universe, the microcosm, a small universe in himself" (C.W., IV: 49).
Vedanta's central theme is monism the individual and the Supreme Self are one in their essential nature. Man is divine. "Self" in Vedanta is self-luminous, eternally pure and blissful. Because it is not a created entity, it is immutable, eternal, immortal and infinite. This Soul within us is the only source of all virtues, joy, peace, wisdom, power and knowledge. Self-knowledge is the crowing glory of life. Ignorant of the Self, we live in bondage and suffering.
"In man, things which are not measurable are more important than those which are measurable" (Dr. Alexis Carrel in Man, the Unknown). Value-oriented culture attaches maximum importance to unfolding the Soul-force through the spiritual disciplines of Self-control and morality. Right living requires right understanding. Whether our inclination is spiritual or secular, we cannot neglect the moral virtues. The Bhagavad Gita (XVI: 1) enumerates them. Truthfulness, self-control, uprightness, purity, renunciation, patience, selflessness are generally known as the fruits of the soul. They equip us for the experience of peace, harmony and fulfilment In trial and tribulation, they give us stability and inspiration to wage the battle of life. They give us self-confidence and fearlessness. Mere intellectual growth unaccompanied by the fruits of the soul produces egoism, aggression and many other human weaknesses in us. "Unless above himself he erects himself, how poor a thing is man" (William Wordsworth).
Our need of spiritual enlightenment is pragmatic. Arnold Toynbee points out: "In these circumstances, it might be forecast that, in the next chapter of the world's history, mankind would seek compensation for the loss of much of its political, economic and perhaps even domestic freedom by putting more of its treasure into spiritual freedom
." (A Historian's Approach to Religion, p. 244). He goes on to say, "In a regimented world, the realm of the spirit may be freedom's citadel" (Ibid., p. 249). Toynbee exhorts us to re-orient ourselves spiritual in the atomic age:
The time has come for us, in our turn, to wrench ourselves out of the seventeenth0century mathematico-physical line of approach which we are still following, and to make a fresh start from promising approach of the two if we are right in expecting that, in the atomic age which opened in AD 1945, the spiritual field of activity, not the physical one, is going to be the domain of freedom." (Ibid., pp. 286-7)
Tension and stress are the two greatest threats to peace of mind in the modern world
From both a psychological and spiritual standpoint this book is a most valuable assist to serenity in the face turbulence and anxiety.
Depression has become the epidemic of our age. Swami Tathagatanandaji's amazing collection of wisdom from the East and West brings solace and strength..
This spiritual tutorial has lighted my own journey and my work with others who live with disability.
medicine, psychology and science with the framework of the Vedantic tradition
this book is high-potency medicinal illnesses; its benefits are long-lasting and without toxic side effects.
Spiritual aspirants will finds a kind and considerate guide to practical spiritual life in these pages
I highly recommend this book for mature or novice seekers of peace and authentic spiritual culture.
affluence could bring happiness, we in the West would be very happy
Instead, the misery index is higher than ever
The Swami offers a
program of self-reliance, faith and moral rigor to combat our modern ills This little book is a real treasure.
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