THE BALANCED LIFE—By SWAMI YOGANANDA
Imagine the misproportioned figures about to be described —the first one with a peanut-sized head and a body as fat as a balloon, the second figure with one arm developed like that of a Sandow, but with the physique of a dwarf, and the third one with a top-heavy head fitted to a frail Lilliputian body. Would it not be very amusing or pathetic spectacle (according to your mood) if you suddenly beheld a crowd of such people?
Behold the group on the right side of the picture. These people are normal so far as their outward physical form and appearance is concerned. But they are mentally unsound and deformed. As clothing hides scars, sores and some deformities, so also the neat-looking garb of human flesh often covers serious mental maladies.
If you were confronted with a vast crowd of average people, well-dressed and physically healthy, and if you were gifted with the power to see their mental bodies, what a surprise and heartache you would have. Their mental bodies ...with reason as the head, feeling and senses as the trunk, and Will as the feet —you would observe to be abnormal, diseased and deformed. You would see some people with a tiny head of small sense, attached to a bulging trunk of sense-appetites. Some would possess a withered body of feeling and pep, with the arm of business faculty very much over-developed in proportion. Another perhaps has a large Socratic brain but his trunk of sympathy and feeling is shrunken and dried-up. Still another, normal in head and body, would be seen to possess a pair of impotent paralytic feet of will and self-control. And so on.
Such multitudinous psychological deformities and pathological mental bodies, under-developed in some directions and over-developed in others, lie concealed within man, causing suffering to his soul and hampering his expression on the material plane.
It would not be out of place here to name a few such psychological diseases, so that ...invisible and supreme cause of all havoc in human life though they are —they may yet be detected and brought into the distinct consicousness of the unconscious sufferers— who may learn their —nature, silent growth and symptoms ...and thus guard against their secret onslaughts and all-destroying powers.
One disease is prevalent among those that are mentally and physically idle under the pretext of being too busy with spiritual things. These sufferers neglect the great and small duties of material life, in the name of serving God, and thus invite the devil of mischief to dwell in them. They suffer from pessimism and lack of appreciation for all things good and beautiful in the material life. This is a contagious disease and all spiritual aspirants must guard themselves against it ...by keeping their blood of energy warm and immune —with constant healthful worth-while activity.
This results from indiscriminately swallowing a lot of mental patented medicines in the form of pseudo-spiritual books and lessons by quack spiritual doctors. This disease kills not only the real hunger for Truth but also destroys the power to discriminate between good and bad teachings. He who eats all the time and eats anything that he can get, will not only over-eat but will eat poisonous food along with the good, thus inviting: first —spiritual indigestion—and finally ...spiritual death. The long-continued over-study of all sorts of philosophical principles and treatise without ever trying to assimilate them and test them out in one's own practical experience ...results in doubt, indifference and disbelief in all spiritual laws.
Those afflicted with this disease lead a purposeless life, through having too much time or money on their hands and lacking a true aim or understanding of life. They are whim-led, doing anything that comes into their heads, filling life with cheap novels, exciting movies, or other unproductive pastimes. They do not realize their malady until some terrible shock or nervous breakdown overtakes them. You don't know when you are going to catch it, and suffer from its outbursts of despondency, intolerance and impatience.
This disease consists in harboring constant chronic worldly worries which are usually neglected and passively yielded to, instead of being fought and routed.
It causes its victims to be one-sided in the pursuit of happiness. They begin to think that money is happiness, or fame is happiness, or health, or power. They sacrifice everything else, youth, reputation, peace of mind, etc., on the altar of their all-consuming ambition and learn too late that the balanced life alone —observing all the laws of nature and of God and combining activity with calmness— can bring happiness and fulfill man's natural destiny. The sufferers of Psychological Insanity become "money-mad" or obsessed with some one ambition ...until their perspective on life is warped and distorted. One man, for instance, was very successful in his business and amassed a million dollars, but before he could use it, he died of a complete nervous breakdown and excessive worry. Others, to gain fame, sacrifice their self-respect and sincerity. Sufferers from this disease of one-sidedness— miss their true goal and can never derive real satisfaction from the possession of their longed-for object, since man's nature is many-sided and demands all-round development.
This Ism-fanaticism among so-called spiritual people results from the clinging to some untested dogma or opinion of man without putting it to the test of experience, and causes paroxysms of anger and hatred against the laws of tested Truth and liberal rational thought. This religious madness leads to disobedience of God's simple laws of mental efficiency, material prosperity and physical health.
Physical diseases, being tangible, painful and repugnant, arouse our active resistance, and we seek to remedy them by exercise, diet, medicine or some definite method of cure. But psychological diseases, though the root cause of all human woes, are not prevented or attended to promptly and are allowed to devastate and wreck the life.
Educators, physical culturists, preachers, reformers, doctors and law-makers will hasten the progress of true civilization only when they themselves first learn and then teach others—how to harmoniously develop all the factors of life and of man's nature. This is the true education and all-round human culture that all the world is seeking.
Educational authorities deem it impossible to teach spiritual principles in public schools because they confuse them with the variety of conflicting forms of religious faiths. But if they concentrate on the universal principles of peace, love, service, tolerance and faith— that govern the spiritual life, and devise methods of practically growing such seeds in the fertile soil of the child's mind, then the imaginary difficulty is dissolved. It is the greatest mistake to ignore this problem just because it is seemingly difficult.
Many college graduates after leaving their universities are often found with a top-heavy, book-inflated head ...and are unable to walk straight in the path of life due to their legs of Will and Self-control being almost paralyzed through disuse. They tumble headlong into the pit of wrong marriage, sex-misuse, inordinate dollar-craving and business failure. They had not been taught any other use of their college-sharpened mental blades of smartness except to hurt themselves. Many young men seem to take pleasure in doing those things which react to their own disadvantage and suffering in the end. Last year in America young men ranging in years from 15 to 30 stole one billion dollars by the "hold-up" method. Who was responsible? We, all of us. They also are vicious who do not prevent the spread of vice, and teach others to be virtuous through their example. Schools, colleges, and society have not scientifically tried to prevent crime ...by eliminating its true mental cause.
Why not take the proper educational steps to avoid this annual theft of one billion dollars, and use some of those millions for creating "How-To-Live-Schools," where the art of living and a balanced development of all human faculties would be taught? We hope to have such a "How-To-Live-School" for all-round development, at our Mount Washington Educational Center in Los Angeles, as soon as funds are available and proper interest has been aroused for the work. In the meantime, we plan to work along such lines as far as possible.
I consider properly organized schools as gardens where infant souls are grown and nurtured. The gardeners should be well-selected and co-operated with by parents and the public. The teachers should never be neglected for they are soul-molders. The care and spiritual nourishment of the early life of a human plant usually determines its later development.
I sincerely praise the modern school system of America and its constantly improving methods of intellectual and to a certain extent physical training. But I cannot fail to point out its main shortcoming. It lacks spiritual background, and very badly needs to be supplemented by moral and spiritual training. The boy who belongs intellectually to Class "A", or is a great baseball or football player, often attracts notice and is encouraged by the professors and students, but very few observe or warn him rightly if he is leading a dark Class "D" moral or spiritual life.
But where is such a school which adopts definite measures for developing the whole nature of man, teaching him the true art of life and fitting him to go through the various minor and ultimately the final examination of life? Such schools are urgently needed, to teach the following arts and sciences of all-round growth.
Methods of fostering social service.
National and international interest and patriotism.
Relation of man to God.
The preceding Arts and Sciences are those which should be taught in a "How-To-Live-School" ...to children whose minds are still plastic and their forces as yet unguided into any definite channel. Adults too may master the subjects, if they will exercise willingness and patience while the good habits are displacing the undesirable ones.
After a thorough training, the students of such a School will undergo ceaseless examinations through-out life, and the various diplomas won will be ...health, fame, efficiency, wealth and happiness.
The issue of the Final Examination at the end of this Earthly sojourn ...will only be determined by the sum-total acquirements of the mental and spiritual diplomas won at the various examinations through-out life. And those successful in this Last Great Examination receive a Diploma of ...lasting efficiency, free conscience and blessings—engraved eternally on the parchment of the Soul. This rare reward is incorruptible by moths, beyond the reach of thieves and the eraser of Time, and is awarded for honorable entry into the Fellowship of Truth.
Learn to Meditate
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