We recommend all interested spiritual aspirants to read a small booklet titled ‘Initiation’ (this book has been translated into various languages), by Swami Bhuteshanandaji Maharaj, the 12th President of the Ramakrishna Order. This book is available in almost all the centres of Ramakrishna Order. We also recommend reading the book ‘Spiritual Practice’ (titled ‘Spiritual Life’ and is available free for the general public in our website itself), by Swami Ashokanandaji Maharaj.
Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna on the importance of Guru in Spiritual Journey.
“One must get instruction from a guru. Once a man was looking for a stone image of Siva. Someone said to him: ‘Go to a certain river. There you will find a tree. Near it is a whirlpool. Dive into the water there, and you will find the image of Siva.’ So I say that one must get instruction from a teacher.”
“It is Satchidananda that comes to us in the form of the guru. If a man is initiated by a human guru, he will not achieve anything if he regards his guru as a mere man. The guru should be regarded as the direct manifestation of God. Only then can the disciple have faith in the mantra given by the guru. Once a man has faith he, achieves all. The sudra Ekalavya learnt archery in the forest before a clay image of Drona; He worshipped the image as the living Drona; that by itself enabled him to attain Mastery in archery.”
“Faith in the guru’s words. You should depend on his instruction. Do your duties in the world, holding fast to his words, like a person whirling round and holding fast to a pillar. One must not look on one’s guru as a mere human being: it is Satchidananda Himself who appears as the guru. When the disciple has the vision of the Ishta, through the guru’s grace, he finds the guru merging in Him.”
– Sri Ramakrishna
Spiritual Initiation Requires Preparation – A talk by Revered Swami Bhuteshanandaji Maharaj
“According to scriptural injunction, anyone approaching a guru for initiation must have certain qualifications. Here is an example. A sage named Narada went to Bhagavan Sanatkumara, a great teacher, for initiation. Sanatkumara said, “Tell me first what you know. Then I shall decide what should be taught.” Narada gave a detailed list of what he had studied, and none of the principal scriptures were left out. Yet, in spite of so much learning, he said, “I am not at peace, neither am I satisfied. I still feel discontent.” “Well, Narada,” said Sanatkumara. “I understand that you have studied quite a lot. But what you know are only some words. You have become a master of words, but you do not know your Self. Only a knower of the Self overcomes grief.” Then Narada humbly requested: “Bhagavan, kindly impart to me that knowledge by which I may get rid of all misery.” What does this story signify? It signifies the great necessity for preparing the ground of one’s mind before initiation.
Many desire to have spiritual initiation. But before initiation, there must be preparation. Those who are not prepared should be advised to wait. Being prepared helps one to proceed properly. This process is like preparing soil before planting seeds. The soil must be tilled and manure must be spread first. If the seed is sown after that, it grows well. One must prepare in a similar fashion before receiving mantra diksha, or spiritual initiation. This preparedness is conducive to success. And most humbly, I want to touch upon another point: There is no end to this preparation.
Unless the mind is pure, the mantra given with diksha will not be effective. The mind can be made pure through the practice of good conduct, humility and true yearning. Only then will the mantra, like a seed, sprout and flourish into a full-grown tree, bearing flowers and fruits. We must repeat that preparedness before receiving the mantra diksha is absolutely mandatory. In fact, nothing in spiritual life is achieved without preparation.
The scriptures recommend that a spiritual seeker should approach the guru for initiation only in humility, service, selfless devotion and purity. The moment of initiation is an invaluable one. We should receive the holy name in our heart with faith and devotion. We should concentrate our mind upon it. If we can dive deep into our being and remain engrossed in it, a most valuable gem will take shape within.
Once the field has been made ready, the seeker develops love for the name of God. It’s like establishing a Deity in a temple. Before the installation, the structure and the surrounding area must be made ready. Then only can we consider the installation ceremony. Receiving a mantra symbolizes installation of God in our life.
We do not usually initiate young boys and girls. Devotees who are parents with children often feel hurt because of this. But we pose the question to them: “Are these young ones ready for initiation?” No they are not—not at all. There is an appropriate time for mantra diksha. When the mind becomes restless for initiation, we know that time is near.
There is another point to be remembered in this context. Our daily conduct should be in tune with our state of being initiated. To accomplish this, we recommend five codes of conduct to be followed. There is nothing secret about these codes. Everybody should know about them. Hence, we speak to all. No one can move toward God without pure conduct. Here are the five codes of good conduct.
1. We should pray for the welfare of all. We should behave in such a manner that no one’s feelings are hurt and no harm is caused to anyone. We should follow ahimsa, noninjury. This not only implies not hurting others physically, it also means not thinking ill of anyone.
2. We must hold on to truth always. We should never have recourse to falsehood. And we must honor our commitments. Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “One who holds on to truth rests in the lap of God.” We will have to make a lot of sacrifice in life to observe truthfulness. It is not an easy job.
3. We must never cheat or deceive anyone in any way. Let us be satisfied with what is due. This is honesty in dealing with others.
4. We must bring all of our sense organs under our control. Let us not be guided by them. Control over one or two sense organs will not do. All the senses must be brought under strict control.
5. We must think of God and strive to realize him.We must lead a simple, straight forward and natural life. We should not seek luxury. This does not mean we should wear beggar’s clothes, but we must strive to maintain ourselves with minimum requirements. This also means we should be free from greed.
Mantra diksha should be taken with all seriousness. It should not be looked upon as a status symbol. Initiation is for God realization only. At times, we are forced to pass through a number of adverse situations. From where shall we get the strength and motivation to overcome them? If we get initiated after due preparation, that initiation itself will provide us with that necessary strength.”