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A Taste of Eternity

 Talk given by Shri P. Rajagopalachari
at Lassy, France on July 17, 2003

Even though we start this seminar only tomorrow morning, I would like to say something as a prelude. Jacky just now announced that we need nothing but your co-operation. Actually that is not correct. I mean, we need your co-operation, but I don't ask anymore for even co-operation. I demand nothing (laughs). How do you say in French? Je n'exige rien. Because, if you co-operate, you benefit. If you are here for the fun, you have the fun. If you want to take photographs, you take photographs. We are having liberty. This seminar will celebrate the liberty of the spirit, the liberty of the individual.

Because I have been, you know, sort of thinking and brooding over the spiritual life, and I have come to the conclusion that when we demand, we get nothing. I'm using the word demand in the English sense, not just merely ask, demand, exiger. So we offer; if you like, you accept. I will always be here to keep on offering, assisting you to accept, helping you after you accept, with what you have to do, but no demands. In fact, these three, four years, I did not come here deliberately, because I wanted to give you all a holiday, une petite vacance-no Chariji. Because it gets to be too much of a bore, you know, to have somebody coming again and again, insisting that you must meditate, you must do cleaning, you must do this, you must do that, you must not do this, you must not do that. So I thought, maybe there was too much Sahaj Marg for the last sixteen, seventeen years, and maybe you require some time to sort of cogitate, think, meditate, whether you want Sahaj Marg, whether it is necessary. Because, my saying it is necessary or Babuji saying it is necessary…"OK, ça va!" [OK, all right,] as you say. It was necessary for Lalaji, it was necessary for Babuji, maybe it was necessary for me, too. Peut-être! [Maybe].So I'm here, you see.

I have an obligation, which I have acquired in obedience to my Master's wishes. And that obligation was nothing but my gratitude to him for whatever he did for me, which I know about or I do not know about. Because in spirituality the unfortunate thing is, we cannot know what we are getting. And, because we do not know what we get, we are careless. We don't look deeply. This is not like buying, you know, a fan, or a crystal or a piece of jewellery, where you see, where you estimate, where you touch your pocket and see how much money you have got, and you buy or you don't buy. After buying, you may regret it. Sometimes if you don't buy it, you may regret it. But here, you know, because you do not know what you are getting, it is very difficult to understand the need for a practice, for a discipline, which is going on saying, do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that, ten of this, ten of that, Les dix maxims [the ten maxims]. "Get up before sunrise." "Pourquoi?" [Why?] No? Seems ridiculous. So you have to assess, and perhaps you have to pray that you may be given the ability to see what you are getting, what you have got already, and maybe to find out how much more there is to progress on the path, before we really know, you see.

Because it is like, you know…suppose there is an elevator, and there is, like the great scientist Einstein, who gave an example-you get into an infinite elevator and from the first to the second floor is maybe infinity. When are you going to know, and what are you going to know? Because you are shut up in that lift and you cannot see, you cannot understand, so you cannot perceive. There is nobody to tell you. It is a very beautiful example he has used for gravitation. May be some of you should read it. So here, like that, unless we are able to be sensitive and really concerned about whether we are moving and towards what, it becomes an exercise in a futile way, and after a little time we lose interest, because we are like children.

You know children; they want to go to the seaside. You religiously get up at 4:30 in the morning to avoid the crowd from Paris going out. You start and within half an hour, you find you are part of a bouchon [traffic jam], 12 km de bouchon. Voilà! [There it is.] You are stopped. Now the children want to go to the toilet, the wife is nervous, the husband is already tired, half an hour after leaving the home. And of course in this wonderful land of Europe, you cannot even get out for emergency reasons. Of course there are wonderful inventions to tackle such, shall we say, delicate or perhaps indelicate situations, and by the time you reach Nice, or wherever you are going on the Côte d'Azur, you are fed up with your holiday. There you find the beach-people lying side by side; you have to literally sometimes walk over those bodies to get to where you want to go. You get into the sea; there are aquaplanes, there are motorcycles going on water, there are boats pulling people who are trying to fly over water. It's like a big circus. Only thing, there are no animals but only human beings and machines.

This is the modern holiday in Europe, and for this we are willing to spend thousands of French Francs or modern equivalent in Euros, and put up with all that suffering, with all that frustration. But we do it because we see that there is a sea there, and I am here, and I have to go. But this ocean of Bliss, I don't know where it is (laughs). Why is it called an ocean of Bliss? Is there Bliss in it? Is there an ocean? And I think, "No, no, when I was in the Bay of Biscay, it was rough; when I was passing the Channel, it was awful. How can the sea be blissful?" I mean, I'm just giving an example of how we think, relating our material experience to our spiritual possibility. And then we say it is better that we go into the woods, have a long walk; and if you hear a cuckoo it is a wonderful experience. I remember when we had Augerans, one day I was in the woods and we heard "cuckoo." Instantly everybody froze, you know, because it has become so rare to hear a cuckoo. Then you strain your ears to hear the next "cuckoo" and it doesn't come. So this is something like that. You see, the onus of achievement is purely on you, on the abhyasi. If you want to achieve, you want to get something, you have to do something, you have to become something.

And I am tired of this word co-operation, co-operation, co-operation. Co-operate with what, with whom and why? So you see, we have to be adult enough to understand that in this world we have to work for everything, and it applies more to spirituality than to anything else. The difference is, here you work outside, you lift chairs, you throw things, you climb up ladders, you fix things, and you heave a sigh of relief and say voilà, c'est fini. [There, it's over.] But in spirituality you have to work inside yourself.

I remember a quotation from a great saint, who was talking to a young man who was used to going to the mountains and oceans. He had been practising for some days or for some months but he said, "Master, what am I to do? Where are the mountains I have to climb? Where are the oceans across which I have to swim?" He said, "My son, they are all inside you." So you see, we go to Switzerland, we see the mountains. Some of us are happy to see them, like myself. Some want to climb them. They are happy after they have finished. Some want to go up and do this skiing. Wonderful! Here, what are we to do? Unless we still our mind, we still our mind totally, and are prepared to get the feedback from inside, as they say in occult books, "Hear the still voice of the silence," we can never know where we are going, what we are doing, what we are receiving. These meditation sessions are nothing but creating, or trying to create, sitting quietly, in silence, amidst silence, that state of receptivity which can reveal to us that something is going on. And progressively we are able to see.

It's like when you fly in an aeroplane and you pass through the cloud layers. For some moments you don't see anything and the plane is shivering perhaps, and there is a moment of fear. And if you have not read any science and you are something like a poor Indian you say, "But why does it shudder like this when it is going through air?" I had this conversation the other day in Bombay, you know. Why does a plane shudder when it passes through a cloud or even through a differential layer of air? Because there is a differing density. I mean we are used to cars bumping on roads, but we are not used to planes shuddering, shivering, sometimes dropping vertically 20 metres, 30 metres in an air pocket. It beats our imagination. Therefore, you have this ceinture [seatbelt]. You have to keep it fastened.

Here there is nothing. We don't know what is going to happen, when it is going to happen. Because we are used to this modern psychology, the modern inventiveness, where you get everything instantly. Instant coffee, instant tea, 20 years back, were a great innovation. You opened a packet, threw the thing into water, stirred it and you had coffee, voilà! Today it is not just that. Sitting at your computer, you can order your tickets, you can buy tickets for the theatre. You can even buy your coffin if you are so intending to do it. You can specify, you can pay for it across the Internet, and all within 2 or 3 minutes. You can buy books over Internet.

We are getting more and more instant-oriented, and spirituality is shifting your orientation to infinite-orientation. These material goals can be handled, and had, and acquired, here and now. Spiritual goals may be here and now, may be after an eternity of time. It depends on you. So you see, to participate in the spiritual life with all your heart, requires a courageous heart initially, a determined heart, which says, the secrets of the heart are not revealed like looking out of the window of an aircraft; the secrets of the heart are revealed to one who can penetrate what one great unknown author has called 'The Clouds of Unknowing'. It is a very wonderful title of that book. Unfortunately nobody knows who wrote it-'The Clouds of Unknowing'.

So that cloud of unknowing is within us. And unless you are very, very, very, very serious about what you want to know, and extremely patient to wait to pierce those clouds…I mean, you have a heavy cloud layer here and you may not see the sun for a few days; it's beyond your control, with all your modern technology. Here, there is no technology, except, shall we say, the beautiful touch-less touch of love. Love must clear those clouds of unknowing. Patience must give the clouds of unknowing time to clear, and present to you the vision of what is supposed to be adorable, desirable beyond all expectations, and which, when you see, you can never forget. You cannot move back after you have seen that. "Having seen which, you cannot return," this is what the Veda says.

So I recommend to all of you, to create, cultivate, hearts of the lion. That is what Babuji said. He said, "I want lions, not sheep." Sheep are always looking down, munching at the grass. The lion roars in defiance, goes where nothing else can go. We want the spirit of that great movie series that I love to see-Star Trek. "To go where no man has gone before." But that is technology-oriented. You have a wonderful space ship, star ship, and you are inside, comfortably ensconced. You have doctors, you have everything that you want, machinery par excellence. But here everything is in me. I am the patient, I am my own doctor, I am the traveller, and until I find the guide within me, I have to be my own guide. So, the sooner we find the guide inside, believe him, trust him, let him advance before us, the better for us.

So, without this heart full of longing, full of courage and full of patience, I am afraid that spiritual aspiration will remain a mere aspiration. And there will be no participation from abhyasis, except participation by giving 200 Euros as inscription [registration], as they say in French, listening to some talks, eating, I hope, good food, that is yet to be seen, and of course it is a sort of vacances you know. The trouble is that our spiritual seminars do partake of the essence of a holiday, because we are able to leave our work, get away from our families perhaps, and relax for three days in some sort of Nirvana, artificial Nirvana, that we create. And that is not true. It should be…I don't want to say it, but it should be a hot spot. It should make us squirm in our seats when we sit here and say, "Why am I here? What am I doing if I'm not doing what I should be doing? Am I here just to enjoy the ambience?"

You know, when Jacky announced this seminar, repeatedly it was promised that it is a wonderful place-44 hectares, horses, places for children, swimming pools. Why do we have to emphasise these things when we emphasise a seminar? Are we, sort of, trying to entice you to make you come here? To console you in advance that even if you don't find spirituality, you have all this? It is a little sorrowful to me that we have to be tempted to come.

I am always fond of that famous statement of Christ, you know, (I once spoke about this, probably 20 years ago,) when Jesus stands with his arms akimbo and says, "Suffer them to come unto me." I interpret that suffering also as suffering and also as permission; "Permit them to come to me," you see. Why "Suffer them to come unto me"? Because this permission is something which you have to treat as…I'm sorry to say it, but it is, in a sense, a suffering.

We suffer all the time. When you get into a plane and you get those ridiculous seats where you wish you had two (pairs of) knees instead of one, so you could fold it more and more, you know, collapse into yourselves, where you cannot afford to have the feeling that you have to go to the toilet, because you don't know when it will be possible, where you are afraid to eat, because again you have to go to the toilet, you are afraid to drink...is it not suffering? Just because they give you 6 video shows over an 8-hour air journey, and magazines galore? But three seats…and that man is stepping over your thigh all the time, this woman is stepping over you all the time on this side, and you wonder, "What am I doing here?" Is it not suffering? Is it not suffering to leave your Paris in your wonderful cars, whether it is a Mercedes Benz or a Volvo, or one of these humble number 5 Citroens? Don't you suffer on your 9-hour journey, which becomes 14 hours to Nice, pretending to be happy all the time? Is it not suffering?

Your mind makes you think you are enjoying. Your mind makes you think you are going to something which is another Nirvana, by the ocean. Even before you leave home you are, all of you, without exception, hoping that you were back upstairs in your flats or your apartment, not wasting hard-earned money on ephemeral happiness, which is promised but never delivered. Eating rubbish, junk food, more and more…What have you to show when you come back? You have to come back dreading the day of your work. Your wife is dreading putting the children back to school, cleaning up the kitchen, cleaning up the apartment, everybody with frayed tempers. And this is a holiday!

May I suggest that this is a true holiday for all of you. A true holiday, where the spirit can soar, where the soul can expand, where there are no worries, not even spiritual worries, not even fears-no fears, even of death. Because during that moment or hour or two of meditation, every one of us has experienced, however briefly, a condition of bliss, which is what brings you back here again and again. Were it not for that, I would be facing an empty hall, and Jacky would be wondering what happened to his temptation of swimming pools and horses for children.

It is that spark of divinity, that momentary bliss, experiencing which, you can never forget, and the memory of which, and the hope for which, brings you back here again and again. And may I assure you that if you continue steadfastly, again I repeat, courage in the heart, hope, and faith, which alone can make patience possible, you will taste more and more of that eternity, more and more of that bliss, until it pervades your life as a continuous, not only a matter of consciousness, but of real experience. I pray for this. Thank you.