The Soul Qualities
That Make Man God-like (3)
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
21. Radiance of character (tejas)
Radiance of character comes from the cosmic fire of God's supreme consciousness, the flame of awareness, within man and other sentient creatures. As vitality, tejas is present in all beings, and in the electrons and protons and atoms. His inexhaustible energy upholds the activities of the whole phenomenal world. Through long meditation on God, the devotee becomes permeated with the effulgence of this cosmic fire.
Tejas bestows on man mental and moral boldness, and the radiation of irresistible confidence in righteousness that emanates from devotees who have felt within themselves the surety of the Divine Power. Such experiences develop a heroic spiritual nature. Many valiant saints have chosen martyrdom rather than renounce their faith.
Divine radiance in the devotee is further characterized by a natural unfoldment of spiritual magnetism, an unassumed vibratory aura of goodness, and a quiet outer expression of deep inner joy.
22. Forgiveness (kshama)
Forgiveness in the man of God consists in not inflicting, or wishing to inflict, punishment on those who harm or wrong him. He knows that the cosmic law will see to it that all injustices are rectified; it is unnecessary and presumptuous to attempt to hasten its workings or to determine their form. Retribution at the hands of the immutable law of karma has for its proper and far-seeing purpose the eventual spiritual redemption of the sinner.
This is not to say that wrongdoers should have no curtailment. Social structure demands constraints for its survival. Those whose duty it is to enforce just laws for the well-being of humanity act as instruments of karmic law. Their judgments should be meted out without malice or a spirit of revenge. Even if justice does not seem to prevail, the karmic law will not fail to balance the scale.
A passage in the Mahabharata is as follows: "One should forgive, under any injury. It hath been said that the continuation of the species is due to man's being forgiving. Forgiveness is holiness; by forgiveness the universe is held together. Forgiveness is the might of the mighty; forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is quiet of mind. Forgiveness and gentleness are the qualities of the Self-possessed. They represent eternal virtue."
When a weak man, slapped by a bully, says "I forgive you" and is away, he is likely to be motivated not by forgiveness but by cowardice. When a powerful person, hurt by an enemy, shows compassion and forbearance instead of crushing that foe, he displays real forgiveness. The spirit of forgiveness arises from long practice in spiritual discipline and from realization of our inseverable human and divine brotherhood.
Jesus, holding the power to summon to his aid "more than twelve legions of angels," (Matthew 26:53) did not resist arrest and crucifixion, and prayed:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
With divine insight he was ever able to see man apart from his errors. Christ had perfect understanding that each human being is essentially a soul, a child of God, whose evil conduct is no expression of his real nature but is caused by ignorance, "knowing-not"—the dread, but not eternal, state of delusion into which men fall when they forget their true identity.
When you forgive, you are in spiritual consciousness. Forgiving means to give your enemy a chance to gain better understanding. If you become vengeful or angry, you only make more enemies, for an angry person is the target of all.
23. Patience, or fortitude (dhriti),
Patience, or fortitude enables the devotee to bear misfortunes and insults with equilibrium. Outward events cannot shake him nor can occasional inner turmoil serve to deflect him from his chosen path and goal: Self-realization. By stability the God-seeker learns to adhere under all circumstances to noble activities in the outer world and to retain the perceptions of truth that come to him during his meditations. He clings tenaciously to his experiences of soul bliss and never dims their reality by diverting his mind to lesser interests.
This endless patience ultimately gives the sage the power to comprehend God. Dhriti expands the cup of his consciousness until it can hold within it the ocean-vastness of Divinity.
Cleanness of body and purity of mind (shaucha) is respect for the indwelling Taintless Spirit. It has been said that cleanliness is next to godliness. On waking in the morning it is best to cleanse the body and mouth before meditation. Aside from obvious practical concerns, cleansing the body before meditation is a rite of spiritual respect, a symbolic purifying of oneself in preparation for worship. Slovenliness may distract the devotee's attention, during his practice of spiritual exercises, from the inner to the outer world.
One who is physically clean and is also rid of the mental taints of uncontrollable desires and restless thoughts indeed invites the Lord to manifest Himself in the purified temple of his life. When the mind is calm, it becomes a divine altar for the presence of God.
25. Nonhatred (adroha)
Nonhatred should be practiced by everyone. A devotee who feels malice toward others loses the power to see God in all. A yogi aspiring to realize Spirit does not blind his vision by any thought or act of dislike or treachery, even against sinners or his self-proclaimed enemies. He strives to perceive in them the presence of the all-redeeming and loving God.
As the Lord is free from hatred. He shuts out no one from the boundless sphere of His tenderness and omnipresence. Similarly, one who is aware of the Divine in all creation cannot detest any man or feel any sense of disdainful superiority.
26. Lack of conceit (na atimanita)
Lack of conceit signifies absence of excessive pride. The Lord does not harbor pride, though His cosmic possessions and powers are infinite. In humble concealment He secretly works for man's salvation through the propelling power in virtuous actions and in the silent attraction of His love inherent in each soul.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, for the devotee may feel vain and self-satisfied, falsely assuming he is what he knows. There is a proverb that pride goes before a fall. A self-admiring person is apt to refrain from further effort. He falls into the pit of inertia, which not only prevents further progress, but also diminishes whatever physical, mental, and spiritual gains he may have possessed.
Only he who is free from the sense of self-importance becomes richer and richer in spirituality until he is one with God. On the mountain peaks of pride, the mercy rains of God cannot gather; but they readily collect in the valley of humbleness. (pg.955-969)