True greatness (as opposed to worldly bigness) can be attained by vigilantly pursuing high ideals. Once we are able to awaken our Inner Being and mould our lives in the light of inspirations coming from within, it is possible to attain greatness of the spirit even while living ordinary lives in the worldly sense. The basic hurdle in the way of attaining spiritual awakening is our false sense of identity -The Ego.
Ego can be dissolved through Divine Grace only; and hence the importance of constant remembrance, prayer and contemplation of God for true aspirants of the Divine . Cultivation of values like faith, compassion, love is essential in Sadhana. But the love for God is the highest of all virtues.It is also called devotion, which is of greatest help in the realization of God. This has been the experience of all saints and seers of all ages and cultures.. In fact, some embodied medium is required to augment the practice of devotion. Normally, the practice of augmenting greatness through the medium of devotion to God starts with devotion to Guru (spiritual guide). Therefore, in our religion and culture, Upasana (worship by sitting nearby) has been considered the first and compulsory step in spiritual Sadhana.
Among the various means of progress and upliftment, Swadhyaya (study of spiritual texts) and Satsang (company of masters who have attained self-realisation) have been considered exceptionally fruitful and convenient. In a way "Swadhyaya" too is Satsang of thoughts. But the proximity of awakened souls produces deep effect on the innerself. The nearness of saints fructify rapidly through their speech, thoughts, aura and behaviour. There is no better way than Satsang for the refinement of self. Even incorrigibly wicked and immoral persons have been transformed into great souls by the effect of Satsang.
Satsang is certainly helpful in the task of soul-growth.However, under the present circumstances, hypocrisy that has spread in this field, produces more harm than benefit. One is bombarded with worthless, conservative, fatalistic and escapist thoughts in these satsangs. Unrefined and unscrupulous persons masquerade as Gurus and in order to increase their following advocate cheap recipes or tell mesmerising stories of some devi-devata (deities) and give false hopes of heaven or salvation to credulous masses.True seekers have to beware of such tricksters.
These days, by and large, the need of Satsang should be fulfilled through Swadhyay. Of course, if genuine Satsang is available where one can get true guidance for the refinement of life, then one should avail of it and get its benefits. But there is no point in going to a place or a person where time is wasted in useless and ridiculous day-dreaming. One can get the benefit of the company of great souls at home by regularly studying their literature which brightens inner light, refines the character and produces harmony in our beliefs, deeds and behaviour.
Swadhyaya does not mean merely reading books. Its true aim is to get inspiration for introspection. An ancient scripture says:
Kinnu me pasubhistulyam kinnu satpurushairiva||
Every person should go on vigilantly watching one's thoughts, emotions and deeds with a view to eradicate negativity and inculcate nobility. This method of self-introspection can also be called Swadhyaya. Those who have done Swadhyaya in this way have attained the supreme goal of life : self-realisation.
Unbridled self-indulgence is a most serious obstacle in the attainment of greatness. The circumstances of sorrow and pain, poverty and degradation in the human life flow from physical and mental indolence and self-indulgence.
Self-control is the key to heaven. It leads to inner peace and bestows divine knowledge, which illuminates the entire life of a human being. In order to achieve spiritual freedom and abundance, a well-regulated routine is a must. The meaningfulness of human life depends on whether the goal of salvation has been achieved by making purposeful use of this embodied life. This is achievable only through self-control.
It is certainly unwise to waste one's vital energies by reckless indulgence in worldly pleasures. A human being possesses unique qualities of will, discrimination, choice and thinking which put him apart from other creatures of this world. The Creater has gifted these qualities to man to achieve some great objective. This can be attained by the purity of thoughts and deeds which is possible only through self- control. In this connection, this is what the Divine Teacher of the Gita says -
Asanyatatmana yogodushprapya itimematih|
Vashyatmana tu yatata Shakyoavaptumumayatah||
--- Gita-VI /36
"It is difficult to attain yoga (union with the Divine) by those who lack self-control. Only those persons who have self-control are able to succeed in their efforts towards self-realisation."
Self-control is the cornerstone of the edifice of character.Virtues like compassion, detachment, sacrifice, etc. are qualities of a calm,quiet and controlled mind. Mechanical,unbridled, haphazard thoughts lead to similar deeds. If our minds and senses function as obedient, well-honed instrument ( not as despotic masters), liberation will be ours even while doing our worldly duties.Living in the world but not of it.
Another deadly foe in the path of achieving greatness is ego. Due to their selfish view point, egotists inflict pain on others. But the evil tendency of exploitation of others on the basis of force makes a person fall. So long as this attribute remains, a person might collect huge wealth in the mundane world; but in fact he will be considered a pauper.
The wealth of a person, in no way, reflects his greatness. Had this been the case, physically strong people, rich people and the ill-famed leaders and dacoits would have been worshipped everywhere. They would have got applause of humanity. But, actually, this is not true. A person gets the honour of being called "great" only when he serves others wholeheartedly. There are millions of people who are living in adversity. Persons working sincerely for the uplift of such people may get the honour of being called great.
True greatness of a person is not determined by his transitory achievements in the mundane world. A person who is humble, kind, compassionate, pure of heart and generous, may be living an ordinary life but he is a great soul. Such greatness can be attained by a four - step self-effort: Sadhana (self-discipline), Swadhyaya (self-introspection), Sanyam (self-control) and Seva (service).