When I first joined the monastery of the Ramakrishna Order, I used to ask spiritual questions of senior monks who were disciples of Holy Mother, Swami Vivekananda, Swami .Brahmananda, or Swami Shivananda. On one occasion a monastic disciple of Swami Brahmananda told me: "Read Dharma-prasange Swami Brahmananda (Spiritual Teachings of Swami Brahmananda); then you will not have to ask spiritual questions of anybody." Truly speaking, that book became my spiritual guide, and I still get inspiration from it. For that reason I have translated this present book, A Guide To Spiritual Life: Spiritual Teachings of Swami Brahmananda, from the original Bengali, as recorded by his disciples. Readers will feel that these teachings have come straight from the heart of Swami Brahmananda, the spiritual son of Sri Ramakrishna. The swami was a spiritual dynamo and he taught with authority. Wherever he went he created such a holy atmosphere that people around him found themselves living in a higher realm without practicing any disciplines. Swami Vivekananda once commented, "In spirituality, Brahmananda has even surpassed me." Nowadays in the West there are so many teachers giving instructions according to their own understanding and knowledge that people often get confused by contradictory views. Thus, they go from one teacher to another, trying to fulfill their spiritual hunger.
Shankara, the great philosopher of Vedanta, mentioned some signs of a true teacher: "A teacher is one who is deeply versed in the scriptures, pure, free from desires, a perfect knower of Brahman. He is firmly established in Brahman, calm like the fire when its fuel is consumed, an ocean of love without any ulterior motive, a friend to those who humbly entrust themselves to him." An aspirant must be careful in selecting a teacher. Otherwise he will suffer like a patient who has been treated by a quack doctor. Once somebody asked Swami Brahmananda, "Is a guru necessary in spiritual life?" His answer was: "If you want to be a pickpocket, you must go to an expert pickpocket for training. You have come to realize God, so don't you need a teacher?" I am thankful to the President of Udbodhan Office, Calcutta, for giving me permission to translate Dharma-prasange Swami Brahmananda into English. Some teachings in this book appeared in Spiritual Talks, by the First Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, and I would like to acknowledge the help that translation provided.
For further information, readers are referred to Swami Prabhavananda's The Eternal Companion, which includes Swami Brahmananda's life, some of his teachings, and reminiscences by his disciples and devotees. I am grateful to the Vedanta students who helped edit and type the manuscript. Because human beings differ from person to person, the teachers of Vedanta teach individually. The teachings for the monastics and the teachings for the householders cannot be the same, though both are pursuing the spiritual path. So I remind the readers to practice those teachings which are appealing, suitable, and beneficial to them and not to follow every teaching indiscriminately. Readers will find the pure spiritual tradition" of Vedanta in this book. It will help them to build their inner lives, to breathe the freshness of the eternal, and to attain peace, bliss, and freedom.
**Content and Sample Pages**
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