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And so, when a little effort is made, I can see these things. I must not contradict myself. I cannot say, 'I am not the body. I am not the mind. I am the spirit,' and then look at the mirror and see how magnetic I look. If I say: 'Do I look spirited or not?' I contradict myself. That won't do. That just won't do. You may not contradict yourself. This is a path in which contradiction is not permitted. Well, where is the path where contradiction is permitted anyhow? Contradiction will not take us anywhere. We shall just push ourselves back. So in this way we realise the truth.
Now, if you say: 'Is it not very difficult? And although it might be very desirable, how few people would be able to live up to it. How much easier it is to follow the ways of devotion,' as if the ways of devotion are the stupid ways most people think devotion is. Most people think devotion is to cry unto God: 'Lord, give me a little wealth. Give me health. Cure my disease. Do this. I am a miserable sinner. Give me salvation.' And they think that is devotion. Well, don't fool yourself. Don't ever fool yourself. That's not devotion at all. That's just one of those tricks that have been taught to you by the priests. That's not devotion.
Real devotion will come in your heart when you seek God for his own sake and you have forgotten yourself. That's devotion. In human love, if you rush to your mother, just out of sheer affection and love, you say it is love. But you show affection to your mother because you hope to get a big check out of her, would you call that real love for her? No. Whenever there is any motive to gain from someone, there is no pure love, no pure devotion. So, although that is true, they will tell you to cultivate God anyhow, think of God anyhow. Even if it is because you want to get something out of him, still it is thinking of God, and they say it has some benefit, even if it is not the real thing, not real love or devotion. Real devotion comes when you seek God for his own sake, not because you want to get something out of him.
To be continued
About the author
Swami Ashokananda (1893-1969) was a much-venerated monk of the Ramakrishna Order. He was ordained into sannyasa by Swami Shivananda, and was the editor of Prabuddha Bharata, an English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order brought out from the Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati in Uttaranchal. He was an outstanding writer and speaker and the leader of the Vedanta Society of Northern California (San Fransisco) from 1931 until his passing away in 1969.