Alexander de Cadenet: How does divine inspiration occur? Did it occur in your life and could you give an example?
Swami Ji: Every day and every moment is divine inspiration! Just look at this very moment. How many billions of complex interactions are happening just for you to experience this one moment? Your eyes are taking light that has bounced back from the world, the photons hit the cells in the retina, which in turn send signals to your brain to interpret them. This is only one tiny aspect of your five senses, let alone the millions of cells working constantly to keep you alive. Beyond the miraculous working of your body is the miracle of your existence on this planet, the air you breathe the gravity you feel, the water cycle, life cycle, seasons, rotation of the Earth and it all happening in this very moment! This is Divine inspiration! We just need to get out of our own way to see how truly inspirational the Creator and His Creation is. When we develop a sense of wonder and connection with life we naturally become more natural and authentic. When we are our true selves and deeply connected to the fabric of life we naturally become inspired and we too become inspirational to those around us. When we sit quietly in meditation, when we let life flow through us, we become the channels of divine inspiration. When we have a problem, the solution will appear. When we need advice, the answer will come and life becomes very natural and free. The key is to remove ourselves from the situation and allow the Grace of the Divine to flow through us. Yoga, mediation and prayer all help in our spiritual practice of connecting to the divine, but so does doing seva (service). When we serve, with real love and compassion, we learn to get out of our own ways. When we naturally reach out our two hands to serve and love others, we will receive hundreds of hands returning the love to us. This is truly divine inspiration! So pay attention to the Cosmos, try this for your yourselves and see the magic of it!
ADC: Do you experience negative feelings or thoughts? If so, how do you manage them?
SJ: Through the grace of my Guru and deep spiritual practice over nearly 60 years, my emotions have become steady, calm and peaceful. Emotions are part and parcel of the human experience, but we should understand what they are and what role they can play in supporting our own spiritual development. Our emotions are the experience of energy moving through us, e-motion: energy in motion. When we feel an emotion, we sense the wave of energy as it moves through us and typically our emotions will be short lived, if we just watch them and let them gently pass.
And yet I have noticed that many people do not do this when experiencing an emotion. They do not step back, watch and let the wave of that emotion pass, but instead fully enter the wave and become that emotion. They do not just feel angry, they become angry… We all know that the destiny of every wave is to crash on the shore and if we too become that wave of emotion, our destiny will also be to crash on the shore. That’s why it is a wonderful spiritual practice to be become a witness. When we watch ourselves and our emotions, gently letting them pass by without letting ourselves become that emotion, we will gain a greater emotional intelligence and control over our responses. Through the practice of becoming a witness and non-reaction to our emotions or situations, we will automatically see that the waves of emotions, which were once so powerful and enticing, become gentler and pass away more smoothly and quickly, without draining us of our vital energy.
This does not mean that we suppress our emotions or don’t act in the world, it means that we develop a greater sense of self awareness and ability to manage our emotions, so that we can respond to situations in a way that is appropriate to the situation and free from our own agendas. So much emotional energy is drained in trying to get the universe to squash into own limited view of it but in reality, when we change ourselves, the world will change for us.
As we learn more about spiritual tools and practices, the more we will hear about the need of being balanced; having a balanced mind, balanced diet, balanced relationships, balanced lifestyle etc. Being balanced allows us to connect more deeply with underlying universal wisdom and this helps us to live a life in harmony, peace and fulfillment. This balance means that we can live free from the swings and roundabouts caused by the perceived duality of this world. Our minds tend to automatically go towards things we have conditioned ourselves to find pleasurable and to avoid things we perceive as being unpleasant. And yet nothing is actually pleasant or unpleasant, it is just that we have labelled it that way. The source of labeling of the world, from likes to dislikes comes from our minds which have been conditioned to label people, situations and the environment in certain ways as it seeks to understand and navigate the world. Whilst some labeling is good for our survival (e.g. fire burns, tigers can eat you), we have overly labelled the world, making distinctions and assumptions at every turn as to what we find pleasant and acceptable and what find unpleasant and to avoid.
The aim is to achieve balance in all areas of our lives and when we become balanced in our emotions our thoughts and feelings will serve us better as they will be more aware and in tune with the underlying harmony of the universe.
ADC: What are your feelings or thoughts when you gaze up at the stars on a clear night?
SJ: When I gaze up at the stars, I think: ‘wow!’. I am always so amazed and moved at the accomplishments of the Divine. There is such beauty in all of this divine creation and it is perfect to me. As I watch and observe the word whether it’s the heavens, mother nature or humanity, I am still struck with a deep sense of awe and I still whisper to the Divine, ‘wow, You did this!’. Its is amazing, what a beautiful wonder there is to behold and I feel so blessed and so humble to have this body, this life and this opportunity to give service to not only the Creator but His creation.
I also always remember that even though God creates everything, nowhere is there a signature saying, ‘God’. It is a beautiful lesson in humility. Normally artists paint one picture and scribble their signature on the bottom, but God has made all of creation with no signature!
I feel nature is the best teacher, when we have a problem just to go to nature and you will change your nature. Take a moment to look at the tenacity of a blade of grass that grows between two slabs of concrete, the beauty of a flower, the peace of a tree or the nourishing energy of a river. Closely watch and observe the animals you see in your back yard or around you. They have no house or car, no designer watches and yet they are happy! Animals, birds and insects have an innate sense of harmony and peace with their environment because they are deeply connected to it.
And yet many people are living a life disconnected from their true Self and nature. How can we feel so much awe for an ant as a child, only to grow up and squash it without a thought? No matter how busy our lives our, we should take some time daily watch nature and to appreciate the gifts of the Divine and appreciate them with the same enthusiasm and innocence of a child! Let’s keep gazing at the stars and use the inspiration to tread more lightly on our own planet.
ADC: What is your greatest wish for the remainder of your life and even beyond this current mortal existence?
SJ: My greatest wish is to continue to serve God and humanity. I have often said that if the Divine were to give me Moksha, I would fold my hand and humbly request that instead I return to this Earthly abode where I could continue to serve my fellow brothers and sisters. My wish and prayers are that each and every one of us ultimately realises our own Divinity and connects to the Divine. I pray that the sky, the earth, the ocean, Mother nature and humanity all have peace, health, happiness and are free from suffering. May God bless you all.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati (called Pujya Swamiji or Pujya Muniji by disciples), is the president and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, a spiritual institution based in Rishikesh, India. He is also the founder and spiritual head of the Hindu Jain Temple in Pittsburgh.
He also is the founder or co-founder of several humanitarian and environmental organizations which serve a number of causes, including: Ganga Action Parivar, to preserve and protect the Ganga river and its tributaries; India Heritage Research Foundation (IHRF), which provides education, health care, youth welfare, and vocational training; Divine Shakti Foundation, which provides education and assistance to widowed and impoverished women and children, as well as the protection of street animals in India such as cows and dogs; the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) to provide access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene.
Alexander de Cadenet is a British artist exhibiting internationally and working principally in photography and sculpture. His work explores themes of a philosophical and spiritual nature. He is the Contributing Arts Editor of Watkins Magazine. He is the founder of Awakened Artists, a group of artists whose work has a deeper, spiritual direction.