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Morality is Essential
Seminar for Character Development for Functionaries, October 12, 2010, Chennai India
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I think Sister Anuradha has given a very fitting conclusion to the seminar, and I don’t know what I have to say further. Babuji Maharaj said — you know, I am just repeating things because in his messages you would have read, repetition is necessary, and to repeat a thing does not mean that we have not said it ever before. We have to say it; the more we repeat, the more we must understand that we have not understood, or put it to work, or put into effect.
Satyam vada, satyam vada, satyam vada [speak the truth], even from Ashoka’s time, from the Veda’s time, we have been speaking [of it]. It is all right to talk of the Vedas and invoke their authority, but what has their authority come to? If you study the history of India, it is one of progressive decadence. I mean, you can study history. It is a steady but accelerating decadence. And Babuji Maharaj said, if this is humanity, then God help us. So it is not a matter so much of learning and applying and growing. It is to get out of our shame at the very betrayal. We have all betrayed. We have betrayed our heritage, we have betrayed our motherland, we have betrayed our brothers and sisters and, of course, the greatest betrayal is we have betrayed ourselves.
Babuji Maharaj once told me, “You can tell as many lies as you like, but never lie to yourself.” Because once you think your lies are the truth, you are finished. And we have been telling lies, lies, lies, everywhere, until we believe our own lies — and that is the death or the death knell of personal emancipation. There it is ended — when a man believes all the lies that he has been telling others about himself, and thinks they are true. It is all right to go around saying you are a good businessman, you are honest. Babuji Maharaj said, if a man has to say, ‘I am honest,’ believe me, he is a liar. And in a society where there is only selfishness, each one trying to prey upon the other, where — what to talk of ethics and morality? — simple behaviour, like spitting on the streets; where in an airport like Bombay in the lift you find, ‘Do not spit’ — in the elevators. What is our country now? Do not spit?! In a modern airport, international airport? Mahatma Gandhi airport? Kasturba Gandhi airport?
So you see, we have to start from very way down — forget morality and ethics and all this. “What should I be?” is the first question. “No, no, I am a Brahmin.” Lie! “I am a human being” — even bigger lie. You are a parasite on your brothers and sisters. You are a parasite on society. So, quo vadis? Where are we going? It is all right to talk of Sahaj Marg and spirituality and have these wonderful seminars.
You know, perhaps a year back, I started having the satsangh at 7:30 instead of 9:00 on Sundays. I sincerely feel, I truthfully feel, that there should be a certain quotient of personal suffering in our lives to keep us on the path — what Lalaji Maharaj has said, illat, killat, zillat (a little less money than you need, somewhat less than good health, and critics all the time criticizing). We have too much comfort. I remember way back in 1966 or ’67, when I suggested to Babuji Maharaj that we should have a bus to bring abhyasis from the station to the ashram, he said, “Your idea is good. But I don’t want too much comfort for abhyasis.” We read in Lalaji’s charitra[life history] that he and his whole family — and it was not a small family — they slept under one razaai[quilt] and it was torn (Babuji’s words), in the cold of Uttar Pradesh.
So what is it that will make us develop? It is all right to talk of brotherhood when we are sitting side by side in an aircraft, eating modern cuisine off wonderful crockery and cutlery. Are we looking down? Today I read in the newspaper, I had it read, that India has slipped in the world list of nations to tackle hunger, even though there are less hungry people in India now. The way we are doing it does not compare with the way in which other countries are doing it. People like Bill Gates, he is willing to give billions for AIDS. Even the Pope, when Babuji Maharaj and I were in the Vatican some years ago, said a special prayer for AIDS sufferers. Why specially AIDS people? This shows our moral degradation. They don’t want tuberculosis patients, paralytic patients, heart patients; the idea being that these people are rich enough to afford their own cure. That is moral degradation — when a Pope says a special prayer!
So you see, it is from below to the top or the other way down, when churches condone same-sex marriages, perform same-sex marriages. Soon a day will come when perhaps, in Athens or Barcelona or somewhere, you will find a man marrying a cow. There are reported cases of animism. Even in our Hindu literature, I believe, a rishi and a rishi patni [wife] were suddenly erotic and he turned themselves into deer to enjoy copulation. I mean, is this morality that what you cannot do as a man and a woman, you can do by transforming yourself into deer, male and female? The story of an Indian saint, celibate sannyaasi jumping into somebody else’s body to enjoy sex with the queen of that dead king, because he was taunted by a female in debate that he may have known everything but he knows nothing about sex. What sort of morality is that?
Of course, jnaanis [gnostics] and their supporters will say, “Well, you know, after all it is only the body that sins.” But when you take up the sandhyaavandana mantra [ritual performed during twilight] and the mantra of purification, and you start with manasaa vaachaa hastaabhyaam... [by mind, word, hands...] where does it begin? At the udarena sisna [stomach, male organ of sex] end or at the manasa vachha end? Our people should think. Where does sin begin? And where is the sin? The body never sins. It has its functions, it performs those functions. The animals don’t sin because they have no mind to think of these things, and a male bull does not follow a female cow except during the mating season when instinct drives it.
I was somewhat surprised that none of the speakers mentioned desire. That is a very important part of character building — not that we should have desire, but how desire interferes with our efforts to build ourselves. It is the single important factor which destroys our will power. No desire; no need. I mean, there is no character without desire. There is no morality without desire. But I did not find anyone mentioning the word desire even once. All erudite speakers — so many analyses, so many different combinations — tarka, vaada, mimaamsaa [reasoning, debate, analysis], Vedas — everything was said. And what about the blessing in worship? Ishta-kaamyaartha- phala-siddhyartham. (May you have what you desire.) You see, we are attacking the top branches of the tree and removing the leaves, when we should be cutting it at the root and allowing the tree to grow afresh.
There is a word in Latin you know, arbor vita (the tree of life). And Babuji said, “Know the tree by the fruit.” And in the Bible you have the idea of the barren fig tree which produced nothing. What is the morality of someone who has not contributed anything to himself, to his progeny, to his society? Take, take, take, take; consume, consume, consume. What is the morality of relationships between men and women, especially in the western world, where they don’t want children? Are they to be praised for discipline? What about that single factor which destroyed morality at the root — the pill? Other contraceptives are later developments.
So you see, we have to examine this at greater length. We have been giving too much attention to religion when Babuji said religion is useless. He was very specific. I remember in Shahjahanpur, next to our Babuji’s house there used to be a temple. And just when he gave us a sitting, the bell was clanging, ding-ding, ding-ding, ding- ding. So, one day out of curiosity I asked Babuji, “What is that temple?” He said such and such temple. I said, why so many crowds there? He said, “I will tell you when we are alone.” And when we were alone, I asked him. He said, there is a beautiful girl there lecturing, people go to see her. Not to do pooja and to hear the pravachan [discourse] and all that. Just to gaze with tongues lolling like dogs in heat. But in a temple — it is holy, no? Everything is holy in a temple!
So it is all right to talk in Sanskrit and quote dharmam [righteousness] and whatnot. I remember I was very impressed with an article, or what you call an editorial, by The Hindu, when Clinton was facing impeachment. I was surprised to find the editorial in favour of Clinton. The editor said, morality is a personal thing which has nothing to do . . . he has been a good president; he has guided the country well. What has his morality to do with his public performance? A fresh approach. Quoting Lalaji is all right, you see. That is as far as each one of you are concerned. In your personal life if you are not moral, spirituality has not touched you. But as functionaries of the Mission, we are not here to teach morality to others. We are here to teach spirituality to others, and to tell them that morality is essential, like good food is essential, exercise is essential, fresh air is essential.
Are we — as you know, the Bible says, “Go forth and multiply” — are we going forth and multiplying? For the last thirty years I have been telling people, if each abhyasi would bring one new abhyasi a year — no more. You start with one abhyasi, in five years you should have sixty-four abhyasis. We talk of genetics, genes, chromosomes — all explaining our knowledge of science and what not. What about this genetics of Sahaj Marg. Should we not produce abhyasis? What are you working for? Babuji said prefects are the arteries of the Mission. Have we understood what is an artery? What is its purpose? To carry oxygenated clean blood out into the system. Are we carrying clean blood, anywhere?
So you see, we have to answer very serious questions. We don’t want erudition and exposition of knowledge. Granted we are all educated, and some of them very educated, some of them super-educated, highly-educated. Okay, okay, I know. Like riches, it does not matter to me whether you are a . . . you know, the moment you have a hundred and one rupees when you need a hundred, you are already in danger. Babuji said if you have one rupee more than you need, there is the danger of your going astray.
In Tamil, we have that old cinema song: Varavu ettana selavu patthana (Income, eight annas; expenditure, ten annas). Then it keeps you in a sense thinking of what you should spend your money upon. Too much money . . . You know how much of our surroundings here in Manapakkam have been ruined by people with too much money? Our abhyasis! Immediately they think of investing, they think of profit, they borrow money, they lend money, there is — I don’t know what all. I am facing a situation where some of our abhyasis are quite culpable in this matter. So, can we say a man and his money are two separate things? How does he use his money? To make more money? And everybody says, “You know, I am only going to give it to the Mission.” Several abhyasis have lost considerable sums of money in the stock exchange in the USA, and without exception they have told me they only wanted to make more money to give to the Mission. I said, “Well, if you had given the money you lost, that would have been enough!”
So we have this habit — it has become too deeply ingrained in us, we believe it. We really believe, or all these people who talk like this did really believe I suppose, that had they made a killing on the stock market, as they say, they would have instantly donated everything to the Mission. I don’t question their fundamentally wrong basis for gambling, but would they have stopped there, or re-invested again?
So you see, the first question in morality is, don’t lie to yourself. Don’t tell yourself lies and say, “I am giving four sittings every day.” Are you giving even one sitting? Is it as it should be? Are you giving it enough time? How many people can answer this truthfully and say, yes. There is every day more and more demand for prefects, and then some of them leave, some of them are useless; so I am asked for a repeat performance there! “No, no, this man will be all right.” How do you know?
What is morality in work? One thing that made me happy in all these lectures, nobody spoke about sexual morality, which is the cheapest morality. As far as I am concerned it has nothing to do with morality. But that is all India seems to think about. Clean langoti [loin-cloth], you are okay. In Sanskrit, pure wonderful language, kaupina shuddhi [cleanliness of the loin-cloth].
So dear sisters and brothers, we have to think. Agreed, that this has been a wonderful seminar, I am very happy with it. What Chakrapani spoke about bonding on ships, we have not achieved anywhere near that. Because from day one when I joined the Mission, and the first Basant, even with a hundred people in those days, the Hindi group was in one tent, the Kannada group in another tent, the Punjabis in another tent, huddling together. I don’t know what is there in linguistic harmony or oneness that guarantees you happiness, protection. I did suggest to Babuji that we should have tents with alphabets. All names with ‘R’ in tent R. All names with ‘A’ in tent A — Akhilesh, Anantaswamy, Aravind in tent A. It did not work because then they found that husband and wife had one hold-all. “Saab [Sir], we have only one bed, one bedroll.” It failed in one year.
It is all right to say human beings are gregarious. Of course, we are gregarious, but not as human beings [but] as Reddys, as Chettys, as Iyengars, as Kayasths, we are gregarious. And then language-based gregariousness (Maharashtra, Gujarat — that way), and we talk of Sahaj Marg as a unifying force in the world, something which should bring spiritual people together.
After Basant when the Shahjahanpur ashram was built, Babuji and I were going home in a rickshaw and there were hundreds of people walking. Nobody even noticed Babuji. They were all too busy with their trains and with their poori [snack] bundles, “Khaana le liya tumne?” [Have you taken the food?] — because we used to give packages for travellers. I told Babuji, “What is this? You are here and nobody even looks up to see you!” Heart should recognize? Heart? Not open. Eyes should see? As Babuji said (excuse me, but I am only repeating what he said) he said, “The pig never looks up.” Only... grunt, grunt, grunt. So we are a combination of two things which only can say — I am not referring to all of us here or to human beings but an animal which can be called a heartless pig.
It is not easy to be complimentary and to be a teacher. You can be loving and a teacher, but not complimentary and a teacher. You can encourage. I have known teachers who patted every boy on the back and said, “You are doing well,” and sixty per cent failure in their class.
A preceptor means he is one who gives precepts, instruction. Instruction means they convey something that has to be done. He must do it first, then expect others to do it. “No, no, you meditate.” There are prefects who start sittings and then go away. There was a prefect who pointed to Babuji’s picture hanging on the wall and said, “You will get transmission from him, direct.” Wow, what a miracle! Not only does the man transmit but the picture hanging over a lazy prefect’s head, also transmits.
So, I don’t know. I can continue this harangue indefinitely. But let us forget all these extraneous factors of philosophy, psychology, ethics, morality; we don’t need anything. Just be true to yourself. “I am a prefect. I have voluntarily accepted this work.” And believe me, when you accept work which does not pay you, it carries much more responsibility than a work which pays you. Had I been a paid employee, I would have resigned one year after I got the job. Why? Because money for work — you think you are paying me enough, I don’t think you are. Equation proved. Quits! Shake hands, golden handshake, whatever you want to call it.
That a man receives a million dollar severance packet, as Pramod called it the other day, does not make him a big man. It only makes him a big beggar. One beggar has in his tin all copper coins, another beggar has in his tin one rupee notes and coins. You know, in astrology they sometimes see the horoscopes of beggars, and one has the characteristics of a king. So I had an astrologer friend who was very close, I asked him what is the difference? He said, among beggars he will be a king. This fellow will take four annas home at night; this fellow will take four rupees home at night. That does not mean he will be a king.
So we prefects are also like that. That is why Babuji said, “Service without servitude.” We receive without begging. We serve without being servants. And when is that true? Only when you are honest, loyal, sincere to yourself, and say, “This I have promised to Him. I must do it. It is a matter of my personal honour that I must be true to myself. I mean, devil take my Masters, I must be able to hold up my head and say I have done what I wanted to do. I have done what I said I would do. Result, you have said, is not your problem.” So where can you find such magnanimity which says, “Don’t worry about result. You do your work. Results are my concern.” That is what Krishna says in the Gita too — maa phaleshu kadaachana [never in the results thereof]. I used to think at one time that this was most unfortunate and stupid, a very capitalistic notion that you work and you cannot demand a salary. But at one stroke it frees you from any thought of success or failure — more important, failure. Because every time we do something we only think of failure. “I hope it will not fail.” “I hope this marriage will not fail.” “I hope this business will not fail.” At one stroke the fear of failure is removed; there is only success — only if you work.
Give one sitting a day, a proper sitting. As I said, one abhyasi you create every year, and let each of your abhyasis bring one more abhyasi every year. You start with yourself, you end up with sixty-four in five years. Count it for yourself. Not a difficult situation. So two things — he gives us the ability to work; he trusts us by giving us the work. He need not have trusted us.
And somebody remarked yesterday, the Master takes anything that comes to him. His work is the work of transforming. A doctor cannot say, “I want only healthy people in my clinic. All of you who are ill, get out.” Can he say it? Who are we to judge? We cannot judge, only because of this fact that we are not here to judge but to heal. We are to heal because he has given us this work: heal them first, then promote their health. Otherwise you will be like doctors who say, “Get healthy first, then I will heal you.”
So we have these two, three principles. I am a human being in this game. Babuji Maharaj, soon after I became a prefect, told me one day, “Now you don’t have to meditate. I relieve you of your sadhana, but on one condition. That time you must give to me for my work.” I said, “Fair enough.” So, do I give at least two hours to his work every day? My morning meditation, my evening meditation, my cleaning — let us say two hours. Am I giving him those two hours? Are any of us giving those two hours?
Then next he took away all my holidays. I never enjoyed any holiday. I never went anywhere. No sightseeing, because he said, “Will you give me one thing?” I said, “What?” He said, “All your holidays you must give to me.” I said, “Take them.” But I know prefects who have bought tickets for the movies and they say to an abhyasi who comes, “No, no, I am busy today.” Once Babuji told me, “No prefect has the right to tell an abhyasi, come later or come again tomorrow, because only God knows whether he is here and you are here tomorrow.” So when it comes, it comes because it has to come and because you have to do it now.
So people who don’t want to dedicate themselves to this sort of intense application of faith and surrender — only two things — they should pray for it if they are already in the job: intense application of faith, surrender. Faith, which tells me that I will miss nothing by missing something; and surrender, because I have surrendered, therefore, my time is his time, everything is his. If we can all develop this sort of attitude, which is also character, which is also morality, our job is done. Put away all your books, your literature, your histories, your geographies, your philosophies, the Torah, the Talmud, the Vedas.
S.K. Rajagopalan, our late brother, told me a story about the famous Vaishnava saint, Sri Ramanuja, who left Sriperumbudur and went to Srirangam to meet his guru Perianambi, as he was called. The guru was conducting satsangh. But when some whispers were heard, he heard that Sri Ramanuja had come. He went outside, put his head on Ramanuja’s feet, did parikrama [circumambulation] and came back. Disciples were shocked — guru receiving a disciple like this! So, how to find out if this is right or wrong? So they went slowly. One rather adventurous fellow, like Jacky, he went to the guru and said, “Guruji, one doubt.” “Haan, haan [Yes, yes], ask.” “No, no, when Ramanuja came you did this . . .” “What did I do?” “Oh, you put your head on his feet and then . . .” “Oh, did I do it?” “Yes, you did it.” “So what is your question?” “Is it not wrong?” He said, “You know, when he became my disciple, he put his head on my feet. Now I have put my head on his feet and our relationship is like this — solid.” They said, Guruji will say anything to justify what he did.
They went to Ramanuja. They said, “Ramanuja, how can the guru do this?” He said, “Do what?” They said, “Like this.” He said, “Guru is always right. He can do what he likes.” Then they said, “What about the Shastras?” Ramanuja said one very famous thing, he said, “If what the guru does, if the Shastras agree with it, accept the Shastras; if it does not, throw the Shastras away.” Scripture has no meaning, whether it is the Bible, or the Veda, or the Torah, or the Talmud, they have no meaning. The guru is the living Veda, as he is called. What he said, what he says, what he preaches, is the Veda that is today for us. The past is like the past of the dinosaurs, and other fossils, to be admired, to be looked at in museums. Not to be followed. Not to be afraid of. One is not afraid of the skeleton of a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex in a museum. We are afraid of the wrong things; we obey the wrong things; we live by the wrong things; and we abandon the only truth — that is the guru, who is the living personality, whose teaching is the Veda of today, and whose precepts light our way.
I request you all to be guided by these principles, refine your lives. Cleaning and samskaras, all that goes on, you see. If the guru learns to love you, with one blink of an eye, as Babuji said Lalaji could liberate a person, what of samskaras, and what of sin and morality, and all this rubbish? They are necessary to in some way guide our conduct in lives. What is of paramount importance is to earn the guru’s love, and that can come only through service. “I love the Master.” I don’t think anybody loves the Master. Excuse me. We think we love the Master, like most of us think we love our wives, wives think they love their husbands.
So let us research into our own hearts, let each one be the judge of himself or herself; let us evaluate what I should do now, how I should do it, and surely He will bless us all.