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A Glimpse of Spiritual life

A talk given by Shri P. Rajagopalachari
at Nellore, India on December 26, 2002

Dear brothers and sisters, I have often been fond of the river as a simile for spiritual life. Some of you who have read my past lectures know about this, but nowadays when I see the rivers are dry, no water in them, I wonder what is going to happen to our own river which is life. Life is eternal, of course. And the brief periods when we become conscious of it, I suppose, I mean in my limited experience, the brief period when we become conscious of existence, is when we are here in a physical body and become conscious of life. But as Babuji Maharaj said, consciousness does not determine life. It is life which determines consciousness. So in that sense, life is eternal, and occasionally we become conscious, when the instrument for consciousness is given to us, so that we can do something, achieve something, more important, become something. So life has always been, in this terrestrial life, human life, therefore an opportunity for becoming as opposed to having.

In our modern life, the emphasis is on having. Having more and more, having more houses, more possessions, more cars, more wealth, more power. It is an acquisitive life, to acquire things. Whereas spirituality says, if you use this life properly, you become something higher and higher. In that sense, life is a school, with this difference that all the time should be devoted to school and not some of the time devoted to school, like in the life of children.

I heard somebody talking this morning, of a sense of responsibility, somebody else talking of something else, of power-consciousness. Of course they are all there, but that is the aberrant part of life, when we forget the main purpose and try to fulfill what Babuji would call the baser purposes of life, which is satisfaction, pleasure, acquisition-three things.

Now in our Vedic inheritance, there is mention of the Purusharthas, the four Purusharthas, you see. Purushartha means artha for being a purusha, meaning for being born. Why are we here? And there is dharma, artha, kama and moksha. According to the Vedic lore, once we are born, once we acquire a physical form, we have to live, we have to breathe, we have to eat, we have to propagate. But dharma must be the base, the foundation. That is, right breathing, right eating, right means of propagation, procreation whatever it is. So dharma must control all our activities. Perhaps it is with this idea that you have the idea of pranayama, asana in the ashtanga yoga. Right breathing-pranayama, right action in the sense of bodily movement- hatha yoga, various asanas. But that is only one part of it because according to Babuji Maharaj, that alone is not enough. Dharma alone is not enough. Artha we need, which is to earn something to live, which artha must be controlled by dharma-a dharmic earning, what Babuji used to call rightful earning. Kama as I said, fulfillment of desire, again with the base of dharma, therefore marriage, therefore sanctification of spiritual unions. But the final Purushartha is moksha, that is liberation. It is pre-supposed that if we have lived a life of dharma, earning rightfully, living in the proper way, moksha is more or less a certain ending to your life. That means you do not reappear here on the scene again. Mukthi is what moksha means you see. So dharma, artha, kama, moksha.

The relevance I find in this to Sahaj Marg is, Sahaj Marg emphasizes that we have to live a family life, not a life of renunciation. Sahaj Marg does not preach renunciation, no sannyasa here. Vairagya inside, but not outside. Here we have more the sense of a balanced existence. No extremes. Dharma also I think never meant to go into extremes. Right does not mean that there is only right, because if there was only right, there would be no need to mention it at all. Right cannot exist without wrong. Virtue cannot exist without sin. Day cannot exist without night. So in our bhouthika jeevanam, the worldly life, there is always this play of two opposites, and how to balance them is our main concern.

We have seen in past cultures in India that people renounced everything, went away to jungles and forests, renouncing life. You cannot renounce life. You are alive. You are able to talk of renunciation only because you are alive. You can renounce certain features in life but you cannot renounce life itself. Even when you attempt suicide and if you succeed, you have not renounced life. You have only made a change in your own present condition, a rather a disastrous change which is not going to have any effect other than a deleterious, bad effect on your future day existence. So, you see, suicide is no solution to the problems of life. In fact, it magnifies the problems enormously and your future existence, if and when one day you appear here again, will be already corrupted by that act of suicide, so that you are born with a negative balance in your ledger, more samskaras to work off, because spiritually speaking, to take life is a sin, whether it is the other's life or your own life. There is a German term for suicide. I think it is self-murder, which means murdering the self. So whether you murder somebody else or yourself, it's murder. And therefore it's a crime, it's a sin. You cannot say, "It is my life, I will take it." No. If you extend that argument a little further, you say, "She is my wife, I can do what I like with her." You cannot. You say, "This is my house, I can explode it, burn it, destroy it." No, you cannot. Even for destroying your house you need today permission from the government, whether it is Municipality, Corporation. You cannot demolish without permission. You have a right to build. You have no right to destroy. Even Christ says, "I have not come to destroy but to fulfill." Destruction, any fool can do you see. You don't need intelligence, you don't need awareness. We have the modern problem with the Naxalites, with the terrorists, the Al-Qaeda, you see. They are full of intelligent people. But unfortunately what they are doing is wrong. It is criminal, it is anti-social and it is most importantly against their own self-interest, spiritually speaking, materially speaking too. Because if they are caught…that's why they run away.

So you see, we have to be able to balance the tendencies, the needs, the need for material life together with the need for spiritual life. Which should be given pre-dominance? It depends. You see, like a man who is walking on a tight rope. He is not walking perfectly straight all the time. He is moving little by little, you see. That is balancing. When you are a student, you have to spend more time on your studies. "No, no, Daddy. I want to be spiritual." You don't even know what is spiritual. It only means you are running away from your education. That is not permitted. No running away from life. Balance does not mean running away from life. That is the act of cowardice. So in childhood, little this, little this. When we are youth, we have to tend more towards this, for education, but we cannot forget the other side. When we go towards this side, restore the balance.

In marriage, again you see, the pleasures of marriage, of course, but if you go into seclusion like Shantanu, you see, and Ganga, until eight children had been born and seven killed by Ganga herself which means approximately, let us say, 20 years, he did not appear outside his palace. His Prime Minister was complaining, his Defence minister was complaining. "We don't see the Maharaja at all." You can't go into seclusion, you know, to enjoy marriage. In India that is why everything is public. Because there is this openness that you are a part of society, society has a right to know what is happening, what you are doing, because what you are doing will affect society inevitably. So in India we don't have this idea of privacy that is so important in the West. Here, on the contrary, we have the idea of, shall we say, holiness. I have heard Europeans argue with me, I have had arguments with Europeans, or rather they have argued with me. "What is the difference between your attitude and our attitude?" I say certain things are not done in public in the Eastern culture, not because they are secret or dirty, but because they are holy. That means also, you know, ipso facto doing it at night, not in day. You find all this in our shastras, in a different emphasis, as if, if you do it by day it is a sin etc. But the idea is, that which must be sacred must not be seen. Therefore in Western tradition also you have the veils, seven veils. One by one you throw them off. A veil is something which is, shall we say, semi-transparent. There is hint of what is happening, but you cannot see what is happening.

So you see, our social structure is here to have this idea, that certain facts of our spiritual life, of a physical life, our eating habits- not secret, sacred. For instance we have this tradition that you should not eat when it is dark. Suppose, you know, when they are eating, suddenly lights go out, they will stop eating. It used to be in my grandmother's time. So you bring a lamp, no? Now the real fact is that if you eat when it is dark, you don't know what you are eating. There may be insects. You know, in olden days we had no screens and curtains, we had the mud floors, there was everything at home. So when we understand these rules of personal life, social life, community life, we see there is a scientific basis to all these religious, shall we say, impositions, which makes sense. Only thing is we don't understand so we say, "It's all superstition."

Sahaj Marg says, simple life, balanced life. Don't worry about light and dark. If there is darkness, you can create light in it. Isn't it? Do it, for your personal self. You cannot light up the universe, at least now. But you can light up your home. There is a story that Vivekananda, in his sleep you know, radiated light and he could see so many things around him. And this is verifiable, if you are elevated to a certain extent, in your own experience. So do we see light? Do we require light to see things? I believe not. Not if you are a spiritually elevated person. There, there is no more light, there is no more darkness. What the Nasadiya Sukta says, you see, there is neither light nor darkness. You can ask how can there be neither light nor darkness. There was. And you can verify this in your personal experience by spiritual growth and in the succeeding spiritual experiences that are available to you. There are states when it is dark for everybody but you can see. So unless you want to go deep into spiritual life, and see that the sun is not the only source of light. The real source of light is here. The sun is not the only source of benevolence or God is not the only source of benevolence nor your family, it is here. That the satisfaction does not come from outside, it comes from here. If I put my satisfaction and my contentment on fulfillment of desires, I am going to be eternally miserable, because I will never have what I want. Because everyday my wants are changing. On such things, automobile manufacturers, refrigerator manufacturers, you know the so-called consumer goods manufacturers, they survive. And they survive better than us. That is why you frantically change cars, change furniture, change this and that and the other. "Oh, this is more modern."

Now what is the essence of living? Essence of living is not in comfort, is not in satisfaction. It is in a situation, a state of repose; repose not in the French sense of rest, but where all my tendencies, my senses are calm, in balance and there is no perturbation in my mind, in my heart. And therefore you see such a man is sitting you know, apparently doing nothing. There is a blissful, not exactly a smile but something approaching a smile, on his radiant face like the face of the Buddha for instance. And we wonder how this is possible. It is possible because he has made his inside the source of his happiness, the source of his health, the source of all the light that he needs, the source in fact of all the benevolence that he wants, in fact even the source of that power which will give him the final Purushartha of moksha. Without this, nothing outside. I mean especially in India you have thousands and thousands of gods and goddesses. Who is coming to our help? That does the fact that the god is there give us any shall we say, guarantee that we are going to happy, healthy, wealthy and wise? Not at all. On the streets, in our homes, even in the richest homes, the poorest homes, the story of the misery is the same. No health, no wealth, no happiness. In the poor, because they really don't have; in the rich, because having, they want more. As Babuji said, "A poor man wants money, he wants to be rich. Rich man wants to be richer, and the richer person wants to be the richest." No satisfaction. So 10 crores, 50 crores, 100 crores, 1000 crores, then like Reliance, 50,000 crores. What are they doing with the 50,000 crores?

So you see, life is not in acquisition, it is in becoming. Meditation is not to acquire, not even to acquire health, wealth, satisfaction. If you live correctly, you will have health, you must eat properly, drink properly. That is the basic thing you know, basic wisdom of life. Meditation is not supposed to make you healthy. Meditation is supposed to balance you, regulate you. Wisdom also, meditation does not give. Apparently you feel Gurus are wise. But are they wise? Babuji, I don't think was wise. He had access to a certain source of, shall we say, universal wisdom, divine wisdom. And when He did that, he got. I don't think Babuji was a wise man. If He was not a fool, He could not be wise also, because the duality is there. But He was able to tap into the source of the divine wisdom, divine energy. When He wanted to walk, He would get up and walk. Otherwise He was lying down listless like this. Almost as we would think about to fall sick forever. But suppose He suddenly remembered work, in no time at all he was ok. And he said, "I am going." "Where?" "I am going to work." "Where?" "Where the work is."

You see. I know when He was coming to Denmark, I think it was in '80, I am not sure. He arrived from Shahjahanpur by road in mid- summer. You know the heat of North India-48, 50, through Bareilly, through Moradabad, through all those regions, and He was practically dead when He arrived in Delhi. He was really sick. The doctors were called and you know, His blood pressure-it was ridiculous. It was 80/46. The doctors could not believe it. But next morning, it was even worse. It was 42/18. It was unheard of, and He was still alive. The doctors said, "How are you alive?" He said, "Only my Master keeps me alive. I don't know why." This was a Saturday morning and we had to leave on Monday evening for Denmark. In those days we had those SAS flights flying directly from Delhi to Frankfurt to Copenhagen. So I asked Babuji, "Should we cancel, or postpone, or what?" He said, "Why do you ask?" I said, "Your blood pressure, 42/18." He said, "How much should it be?" I said, "120/80." "120/80?" I said yes. He said, "Alright." This was Saturday morning. Monday evening we have to leave. Monday morning, the doctors come. Of course they were there all the time, they were all there on Sunday also. Monday morning it was exactly 120/80. And we left that evening for Denmark.

So you see, God gives us health, wealth, happiness, wisdom even, to use, for His purpose. It is not important that I am, you know, like a pahalwan [wrestler] all the time, going around raping women, robbing stores, what we call goondas you see. They will reap all this later. All of this story of Babuji Maharaj I am telling you only to prove to you that, when I need it for my spiritual work, I will have it. Why? Because the source of all benevolence, the eternal source is waiting to give me that which I need.

Second story-when we were about to build the Shahjahanpur ashram, the budget was I think 11 lakhs or 8 lakhs. We had Rs.50,000 in the bank. I said, "Babuji!" He said, "What?" I said, "50,000 and 7 lakhs-big gap." He said, "How much?" I said, "6 1/2 lakhs." He said, "sadhe chcheh lakh" [6 1/2 lakhs]. I said yes. He said, "I will pray." Eventually we built it for 30 lakhs. We never had any problem, though He was always worried. I think in His case, as it should be in the case of all of us, when we worry, we are really communicating our internal concern to Him, to the Almighty, the all-powerful, all-blessing, the source of everything. "O Master, I need. This is your work I am doing." They don't ask questions. They depend on you because they know you have done what is right. So the purse is open. You may need 6 lakhs, you may get 60 lakhs or you may get 600 lakhs. The secret is you get much more than you need. But you cannot say, "This is for myself." That is the problem. When you need power, power comes, when you need money, money comes, when you need rest, without rest he will give you, but His work will be done.

I remember I was in Denmark once, and I had been giving about 24 sittings everyday and He called me. He said, "Tomorrow there is no work for you." I said, "Why?" He said, "Your brain is heavy. I feel there is heaviness in your brain because you are doing so much." I said, "Babuji, I have already booked it for tomorrow." He said, "Alright. Day after tomorrow, no work." I think some of the Danes from those days will remember this. So that day after tomorrow came, and we were both relaxed, lying on the bed drinking orange juice, making stories, making everybody laugh, but no work. Rest came. Now if I had told him, "I am tired Babuji. I feel heaviness in my head," He would have been shocked.

So here is a situation, a work situation, where a disciple cannot go the Master and say, "I am tired." The Master is all-knowing. For me, my Master is all-knowing. For Him, His Master is all-knowing. He says rest, rest. He says "You are hungry," eat. I mean hundreds of instances I can give you. I went to Shahjahanpur, I didn't carry a bed. It was mid-winter and I was lying on a floor like this with the same carpet, shivering. At 10.30 at night, He brought a blanket and covered me with it. How did He know? I mean we were a hundred people sleeping there. Why from His bedroom which was somewhere else, He could see Parthasarathi shivering and brought a blanket? On another occasion, I had no food, because you know, I am a little sensitive. I don't go and sit down and ask for food. They ignored me, I ignored the food. And I was in bed. He came and told me, "You had no food today. You have not eaten." I said, "No, no. I am not hungry." He gave me an apple. He said, "Eat it." I asked for a knife to cut it so that I can give everybody. He said, "No, it is for you." Now nobody can accuse me of selfishness. Then He told me a great secret. He said, "When the Guru gives you something, it is always only for yourself. He knows how to distribute. You are not His agent." So when we give prasad, often these Westerners, you know, in a mistaken sense of being selfless and unselfish, they immediately… (inaudible), you see, not permitted in spiritual law. So you see, when we have this sort of system, when we have this sort of Guru who, at will, can get what He wants if He wants it, and if it is necessary, otherwise He is like a dog sleeping under the shade of a tree, blissfully content to be at His Master's feet. This is the spiritual truth of the spiritual life.

We are not meant to be active except when we are to be active. We are not meant to rest when we must not rest. We are not meant to have for ourselves. We have always to work selflessly with the idea of taking instructions, fulfilling those instructions, and letting whatever has to happen, happen to what we have done. We cannot say, "Oh this ashram, I built. How can I see it destroyed?" None of my business. It is my business to build according to His instructions. If it does not have to exist, that is His business.

This is the idea of Nishkama karma, you know. Work without aspiring to the fruit of our efforts. No rewards. There are in fact no rewards and punishments in spiritual life. I mean the fact that you get what you need to do His work, is that not a reward? Suppose He says, "Build an ashram," and doesn't send you money or people. What will you do? So if you look at it that way, when you do His work, properly with devotion, that it is my work, everything comes to you. Then there is no such thing as reward which I can segregate for myself. This is my reward for…you see, there is no such thing.

So spiritual life is a life of fulfillment, not for the sake of the self, full of work not for the sake of the self, full of achievement, not for your pride or you know, what shall we say, embellishing your own ego, and the final states of Purushartha is a consequence of all this way of life. So those who say, "I am praying for liberation," they are foolish. You cannot get liberation by meditation alone. Therefore we have the famous examples of many rishis who have worshipped, prayed and did meditation for 25,000 years. Therefore we have the example of the story of Narada, you know who was going to the Devaloka to see God and the man who was meditating, a rishi, and he asks Narada, "Where are you going?" He said, "I am going to Heaven to see the Lord." He said, "Please ask him how long I have to meditate? Have I to take any more lives?" Narada says yes. Then Narada meets a man who was almost mad you see, dancing in ecstasy. He said, "Narada, please find out how many lives I have to live?" He said yes. When he comes back, the rishi asked, "What about my answer?" He says, "You have to have two more lives." And the rishi is in despair, he was almost crazy with, you know, anger. He said, "I have been doing so much, and two more lives? God is unjust," you know, the usual story. "All injustice is God, all cruelty is with God, all misery is from God." Then Narada smiles and goes on and meets this nearly mad fellow who dances around, and says, "Narada, have you got my answer?" He says, "Yes my son. As many leaves as there are in this tamarind tree." He says, "That is all!" and he is dancing blissfully. And a voice comes and says, "You are liberated now." It was the attitude you see. Because here was a man meditating, expecting every moment to be liberated, so what is he meditating upon? Obviously not on what he should be meditating. "When will I be released?" Like a man in a prison. "When will I be released?" Why do you think this life is a prison? I don't think it is a prison. If you are desire-bound, slave of your desires, it is a prison. Your desires are your prisoners. If you are happy and you work for a Master, no sense of, you know, inability to come before you. "Can you do this?" "Yes, Babuji." "How can you do it?" "You will make it possible." "Aha!" He smiles, you see and says, "Yes, go ahead."

So this is the attitude I want abhyasis to develop. I have said repeatedly, meditation is in obedience to Master's wishes; by itself it can achieve nothing. You may meditate 24 hours a day all your life, you may get nothing. But one moment of true exposure to the immensity, the magnificence, the nobility, the divinity, at that, one moment of exposure and your future is achieved now, in the present. In the Hindu tradition, they say that in the darkest night, if there is a flash of lightning, the whole scenery is shown, visible. Isn't it? So I hope all of you will remember and do your sadhana in the right way with the right aspiration, and as for me as I was saying somewhere, Serve to deserve. All this is an aspect of service. When you serve someone higher than yourself, selflessly, you get all that is His. As Babuji said, "I never thought that what was my Master's was not also mine." He believed in giving these twisted sentences, you know, which were a little difficult to make out. Like Bilbo Baggins giving his speech. (Break in tape) …that my Master's wealth is my spiritual wealth, material wealth. We cannot distinguish between these wealths. It is a fool who distinguishes between spiritual wealth and material wealth. What is it that we get when we eat? Of course we eat material food, but unless it is digested and the essence taken out of it from the body, it's nothing. That is why you have digestive apparatus; and when it fails, you have all the problems. You have to go to all these dieticians, gastroenterologists. So you see, converting material into spiritual through a process, digestion for food, circulation for blood, oxygenation through the lungs, etc., etc., and in spirituality the process of converting all that we know and do into spirituality is through the act of meditation. So meditation is merely a process, not an end in itself.

So I think I have told you enough to give you a glimpse into what a spiritual life must be, what you have to do to achieve it. The only way that I have known is through service. All this talk of loving the Master with devotion and all is blah, blah, because when we don't know what is love, how can we love someone? I should say to describe Babuji in a sort of twisted negative way, "Love is not what we think it is." Thank you.