The Sanskrit word for self-study is Swadhayaya. It relates with the study of one’s aspirations, thoughts, attitude and conduct in light of the elevated thoughts of enlightened personalities. How will you study yourself unless you have a worthy role model to compare yourself to? And why would you study yourself unless there was a motivation to do so? What is your aim? Self-ascent. What will inspire you for this? The company of those who have achieved it.
Similarly, if you want to see the light of knowledge, if you want to broaden your attitude, if you want to rise beyond the insane and misguided trends of the present time, if you want to cross the barriers of your present circumstances and environment and if you want to grow in righteousness, you will have to put in extra efforts with unwavering resolution. How will you do that? From where will you get the power to move ahead against the resistance of the popular customs, against the downward pull of your social environment and against your own inclinations and habits? Who will give you adept guidance and support for it? One way to annul the negative is to assimilate the positive with greater intensity. Keeping the company of great personalities, saints and sages is the most effective and practical method for doing this.
As balanced food and regular physical exercise is necessary for bodily health, regular study and introspection is necessary for mental, emotional and spiritual well being. It is no less important than any devotional practice. [ . . . ] It lays the foundation for the realization of Inner Light.
Proper self-study can only take place through the study and contemplation of the elevated thoughts of enlightened personalities. You should examine your convictions,prejudices, presuppositions and illusions in the light of the discerning wisdom and guidance of the thoughts and works of those who have lived glorious and purposeful lives. [ . . . ]
However, adoption of the teachings of great souls is not so easy. Self-study gives you the direction and inspiration but it is only you who has to make a resolute attempt towards changing your deep rooted animal tendencies and your old habits and remold your ‘nature’ by inculcating the values inspired by self-study. In short, the purpose of self-study is fulfilled only through spiritual practice.
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