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Sahaj Marg: The Way of Silence
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
I have been compelled to speak by Brother Prasanna Krishna. First of all, one request: Sahaj Marg is known as a silent but deeply effective marg. No clapping, no shouting, no whistle calls, on any occasion.
I remember, in 1975, when we celebrated Babuji Maharaj's birthday in Ahmedabad, there was a crowd of about two thousand abhyasis. And when Babuji arrived, I escorted him into the hall and put him on the stage, in pin-drop silence. The next morning, in the newspapers, that was what was highlighted by all the reporters. They said there was no clapping, no shouting, no ecstatic dancing, no falling of flowers as if from heaven. There was pin-drop silence, respectful silence, deep silence, anticipatory silence. That is what Sahaj Marg is known for, and that is what we must maintain on any and every occasion, anywhere in this world. Please remember this. I would like somebody to later on translate this one request into Kannada for the benefit of all of you.
Spiritual evolution is not a way of ecstasy. There is a famous, well-known classic by a man, a professor of psychology called William James, who delivered a series of lectures known as the Gifford Lectures, probably a century ago, the subject being 'The Varieties of Religious Experience'. And unfortunately most of them deal with drugs, narcotics, other forms of stimulation and, you know, the wild way in which religion is practiced in this country, in India, especially - saffron, white, naked sadhus, anything goes provided there is lot of vibhuti, a lot of hair around you and a lot of tamasha. That is a disgraceful way of celebrating one's God or one's aspiration for God.
Sahaj Marg has no truck with such artifical, self induced, often erotic means of celebration of divinity. My Master frowned upon it. I try to frown upon it too, and I hope those who follow me will also frown upon it, because as our assemblies get larger and larger, there is unavoidably a certain, shall we say, tendency to water down the teachings, to water down our performance, and as we see with democracy on our political scene, we have to remember Babuji's admonition that we need quality and not numbers. To achieve numbers without dilution in quality is very difficult, and our preceptors must be very careful, vigilant, in that they do not allow all sorts of funny individuals to come into the Mission who know no other way of celebrating than by clapping and noise and throwing of colours into the air and things of that sort.
Much in Hindu practices, in Hindu celebrations, have been, should I say, sort of given religious sanction. Even things like Holi celebration, where there is a lot of noise, lot of license, and lot of violence, viciousness and crime. I have lived in North India and I have seen Holi celebrated in the most atrocious, degrading circumstances, when, instead of colours, ruffians and hoodlums used to have buckets of filth from the gutters to throw on passersby, shouting "Holi".
To fall, it does not take much time - one moment of inattention, a moment of lack of caution and one has fallen. To rise is very difficult, not because it is ipso facto difficult, but because we make it difficult by retaining the tendencies of grossness that we have developed, which society fosters, which today's civilization offers very gladly to all who want it - demeaning degradation, ostentatious show, display, often vulgar display as I said. Whether a sadhu is naked or a woman is naked, it doesn't matter. Nakedness is nakedness. Nudity is nudity. And it cannot be 'holy'. When all our pictures of our Gods and Goddesses are clothed I am not trying to be a prude or sanctimonious, but it is necessary to preserve some sort of holiness in our approach to even spiritual practice, and remember that along with inner divinisation, there must be outer manifestation of culture, of moral values, of ethical values, of good behaviour, and most of all, of concern for others. Anything that you do because you want to display yourself, or your religion, or your society, is ipso facto vulgar. Whether it is Diwali crackers, or jumping around like monkeys. Sahaj Marg will not tolerate it. I hope none of you will get into this fantasy of ecstasies, pretending a drug-induced dance is in some way divine in nature. And if some of you are inclined to do it, please buy a copy of 'The Varieties of Religious Experience' by William James and read it.
So that is what I have to caution you about this morning. Progress, by all means, progress very fast, progress instantly if possible, but remember that silence is golden, silence is deep. They say still waters run deep. The burbling streams which make a lot of noise have hardly six inches of water running over a lot of rock and pebbles. Meditation is to induce not only external stillness but an inner stillness of the mind, which alone can take us to our goal. If there is anything that can disturb that inner stillness, it is this outer vulgarity of modern society, the clamour of modern civilization, the high tech values of current society, blaring of horns. No wonder people want to run away to the Himalayas! But we must remember that Babuji Maharaj said that if you run away to the Himalayas or go to the jungle, you will carry your family with you. It is better you bring your jungle into your home. That means, in our homes, we must have a life or a situation resembling a life in a forest - tranquility, peace, existence. I recommend these values to you and hope you will pursue them vigorously. May Master bless you.