Each one of us know to the full extent the mistakes and sins committed by him or her. But outsiders become aware of only a fraction of these faults and they criticize us for that. We try to hide our faults before others and to show off only our merits. Sometimes we even shed tears over our faults. There is no use of merely weeping. On the other hand, we should remind ourselves of our faults at the end of each day and pray to God to give us strength to resist evil thoughts and deeds and to help us not to repeat the mistakes we have committed. It is human to err or to slip from the right path. A man who has swerved from the right path is called patita and the Tamil expression used in respect of a woman who has erred is cherukki, meaning, one who has slipped. We must overcome this tendency to slip and rise to the noblest heights of virtue. This can be achieved only by praying to God in a spirit of repentance. Even if one in a hundred succeeds in rising to great heights, that one will be an ornament to the entire community and a beacon light to society.
When adversities overtake us, we blame God and complain that He is blind to our misfortunes. But if we indulge in a little introspection, we will realize that our faults are so enormous that we are utterly unworthy of His grace and, if in spite of that, we are able to get food, shelter and clothing, it is due to the abundant mercy of God. We must consider the difficulties we encounter as a blessing in disguise. A mother may tie the hands of her child who has the propensity to pick up and eat mud. This seeming cruelty of the mother is for the good of the child. Similarly, troubles are verily God’s grace to save us. In the entire picture of life, troubles form but a tiny spot. In our inability to visualize the past and the future, we complain when we suffer in the present. A proper perspective will enable us to understand our present plight in its proper setting.
You may have heard of the incident of Saint Manickavachagar making the dumb daughter of the Buddhist King of Ceylon respond in verses to his philosophic questions, before Sri Nataraja of Chidambaram. This Saint was able to convince the Buddhist King that the ultimate end was not nirvana or state of nothingness. Sri Manickavachagar illustrated this with the help of vibhuti or sacred ash. When any object is consumed by fire, it becomes charred. If that black residue is burnt again, it becomes white ash. White ash continues to remain white even when burnt again. This shows that white is the ultimate and black is proximate to it. Science tells us that diamond and coal are basically one. White and black are not mentioned in the seven primary colours. So, white and black are not colours. The primary colours get separated from the objects to which they are attached when subjected to the test of fire and the objects themselves turn black first and ultimately white. Similarly, in the mental and spiritual plane, the Ultimate Reality is Siva, who is white, and proximate to Him is Parvati, who is dark. When we test everything in the fire of jnana, or true knowledge, the residue is white Siva. Ash in the material plane corresponds to Siva in the spiritual plane. We smear ours bodies with the sacred ash to remind ourselves of Siva and the fact that the ultimate goal of life is Siva.
Right conduct or seela, which is necessary for the ultimate realization of Siva, has to be acquired through the process of anushtaana, discipline, etc. All these actions done in a spirit of dedication to God, enable us to keep our hearts clean and single-pointed (chitha sudhi and ekaagrata). It is only in such a heart that God presents Himself. We secure a good reflection only in a clean and steady mirror. Everything must be burnt in the fire of jnana. If we regressively trace the cause of things, we will find that one eternal substance is the sole and universal cause of all the variety and multiplicity of this world. It is to symbolize that Ultimate that we put on tiruman, signifying the earth, that is the source of all animal and vegetable life, or vibhuti, the substratum of all material objects. The tiruman worn vertically tells us to strive to reach the heights of spirituality. The vibhuti smeared all over the body reminds us that everything is Siva Mayam. To obtain the grace of God, karmaanushtaana, seela, upaasana, and jnana are necessary. We must acquire these means to moksha and foster them in our children. Thus will we obtain the grace of the Supreme Mother and be happy here and hereafter. Doing our appointed task, filled with love, let us burn all our troubles and desires in the fire of jnana and be happy in the consciousness of the abiding grace of the Supreme.
October 10, 1957.