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The Eternal Flame of the Heart
23 December 2010, European Seminar, Chennai, India
Dear sisters and brothers,
We have come to the culmination of an excellent get-together, because this is essentially a coming together of mutual cooperation, friendship, love, brotherhood, trust — all these things about which they were singing just now. We must come together not to part: only coming and then a little rest, then come out of that rest back into activity. Because Babuji said once we meet we should never part; the souls do not part. That is the essence of a spiritual union or, as they say in religion, and like the baptism, or like initiation in various organizations: once a lamp is lit, it must be eternal — there should be no putting it out and lighting it again. In Sanskrit they call it the akandadeepa, the eternal flame. And what is the eternal flame? It is our soul in our heart which is guided by this eternal flame — the divine light on which we meditate.
Meditation should be in the beginning, or rather during the first sitting that we receive from whoever is giving us the first sitting, as if that lamp which is very, very slight, miniscule, atomic — it is allowed to grow. I remember long ago, I used to stay with my sister G. O. in Munich, and in her bathroom she had a heating system for water where there was a tiny flame which was always burning: a pilot lamp. And when you opened the hot water tap, puff — all the gas was lit up. So this is this pilot lamp in our heart, which takes us not only through life, but through life after life — which has, in fact, been with us from the very beginning and will go on to eternity. Provided we keep it alive at a very good level, then we go into brighter realms, spiritual realms, higher and higher. But as you know in Sahaj Marg, there is no end to the journey; possibly the end is when this light merges with the universal light, and no more has an individual existence.
When we carry a lamp outside in the dark, if it is windy we protect it. Otherwise it will go out; or we have a glass chimney over it. But God — I won’t say wisely or unwisely — He left this lamp to the care of a human being. Through the animal life, bird life, mineral life, it has come a long way naturally, without inhibition, or being snuffed out, no danger, at least from that which contained the light. But in this human life, that danger becomes exposed for the first time, after eons of existence in sub-human lives. And unless we protect it and enable it to grow stronger and stronger, brighter and brighter, it lapses into its tiny atomic nature, and we have to start the process all over again, which is another way of looking at the cycle of births and rebirths. It is nothing but having to light it and nurture it again and again.
In the days when our mothers cooked on wood fires, they had the wisdom at night, when everything was over, to cover some embers with ashes so that it was there all through the night. And in the morning they just blew away the ashes, put some more wood on it and blew on it, and it was a flame. That was the wisdom which kept it existing through the night, which in spirituality symbolises difficult periods, troublesome periods when it must be kept alive. Otherwise we lose everything.
So spirituality is nothing but the science of keeping the divine light in your heart, always present; doing the cleaning to remove the soot on the glass and, like a man who goes in utter darkness with a lamp in his hand, we must be able to trust this which is in our heart and be guided by it. There we trust a lamp; here we don’t [even] trust the light in our own heart, which is divine.
So spirituality is, shall we say, also a provision for bad times, dark times, difficult times, knowing and having complete faith in the fact that this eternal light in me is there to guide us. We must know it is there, we must trust it, knowing that nothing can blow it out, except I myself. I can snuff it out like that.
When Babuji Maharaj was asked by some people, some abhyasis, “Will our connection with you be cut — ever?” Babuji Maharaj said, “From my side, it can never be cut; from your side, it is up to you.” You know, it is like these fires they had on mountain tops in old times to send signals, to signal good events, bad events, beginning of war, et cetera. One man lit a lamp, another fellow saw it, a fire — you see it in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Here, also, we have some of these fires which are not burnt, but there is a keeper of the flame always, an esoteric figure, a magician, a Merlin perhaps who can light the flame for you and say, “Keep it alive! Let it be always lit.” Then we must not put it out. These are the masters who come to do this job for us, and then, we must in our turn help others to have their lamps lit, to keep it alight. All that we need is, first of all, trust, because this is a light we cannot see, although others must be able to see it. “Is it lit? I cannot see it. Look.” That is the first act of faith that we have to have. When the Master says, “I have lit your lamp today,” I cannot see it; I cannot go and stand in front of a mirror and see it; I cannot ask you to see if my lamp is lit. It must be another illuminated person who only can see it — perhaps another master.
So the first act of faith is beginning with this belief, with this trust in your master that, in fact, it has been done. Subsequent to that, this idea that you have to renew faith is a wrong idea in my opinion. It is as if your wife and you are there, and you have to tell your wife every morning, “Today I again love you.” Once there is love, it should never be lost. So this reaffirmation of faith, reaffirmation of love, reaffirmation of confidence, they are all false. If you have to reaffirm anything, it was not there. It is okay in politics; they are always renewing a promise to the public when they want to be elected. But in a spiritual life, in the life of a spiritual aspirant, in common terms we call abhyasi, once believed, always believed. Once you trust, it is a trust for life, which grows into faith, which grows into surrender and, what Babuji Maharaj keeps on emphasising, “a cheerful, happy acceptance of anything that happens in life.”
You see, we have day, we have night. We cannot curse God for creating night and say why not be day all the twenty-four hours. That is not natural. Once you come into this physical existence, there is always this duality of positives, negatives, opposites: day and night, light and darkness, good and bad. But under all circumstances we must be happy, accepting that if this is there, this will follow. This is absolutely sure, because it is a law of nature. We must have what the French people call joie de vivre, the joy of life, of living, knowing that our first gift from God is the fact that we are here. We are always afraid of death, without appreciating the gift of life which we have been enjoying, whether it is for two days, twenty years or two hundred years, it does not matter. So where is this gift of life that we don’t see in our people, who are always thinking of death, of failure, of misery, of suffering — where is the joy? It is almost as if it is a subsidiary little lamp which has to be lit: lamp of life, lamp of joy, lamp of faith — it is not like that. One lamp. You see for evil, you have in the Lord of the Rings, the nine rings, so-and-so for men, so-and-so for elves, and all that — and one ring to rule them all.
In the life of an abhyasi who is aspiring to the spiritual oneness with that which we call the Creator, we must have this one faith to rule all faiths. When I have faith in Him, I must have faith in goodness, in truth, in love, in charity, in compassion. You cannot say, “I have faith in God, but I don’t trust him.” It is not possible. You cannot say, “I love God, but I hate her.” It is a lie. It is a lie that you love God at all. A true lover of God cannot hate anything, cannot distrust anything, cannot disbelieve anything, knowing that in the kingdom of God anything is possible. That being the case, if you see anything which you are not familiar with and you accept it as a creation of God, one of his creatures, there is no fear, there is no running away, there is no suffering. If it is here, it is also God’s. If it is in me, it is also God’s creation in me. I must tolerate it, until He wants it removed for whatever reason. Even our samskaras we must look upon with the confidence that they have a part to play in my existence, like when we are going out and a shadow is following us. Without the shadow I won’t be there in a sense; and if I am there, the shadow is there when there is light. Only in darkness I don’t see the shadow, and others cannot see me too.
So a lover of God knows no fear, because whatever comes, it is God’s creation. It has its purpose, it has its meaning, and if I and it meet, our meeting too has some purpose in life. So misery — yes, it has come to teach me something. Loss — it has come to teach me something. Pain, also. And I must say, “Lord, thank you for sending me this messenger to remind me that I am perhaps straying from the path.” When Lalaji Maharaj was nearing the end of his life, he said, “I see around me souls gathered to indicate that the time for my meeting with my Beloved has come.” He did not say, “Oh, I am going to die,” and weep. He was able to see the souls of the liberated people around him and to understand that they have come to remind him [that] you are to meet your beloved after a long transit through this useless earth. Which, nevertheless, has its value as a school where you learn and, if you apply that learning, you grow.
We have this intellectual tradition that knowledge is good by itself. Knowledge is useless, unless you can apply it and apply it rightly so that you can grow, and through that process, acquire wisdom which is not knowledge, and through wisdom flower into whatever else. We have seen the disastrous effects of the great Einstein’s original problem with releasing the knowledge of atom bomb. He didn’t want to do it, but later said science has to have its own progress. And we are still suffering and we will continue to suffer. It was like opening a Pandora’s box. Even the most intellectual are not to be trusted with knowledge, which they should not have because they cannot use it. What is it that makes you trustworthy of being given knowledge? Your inner awakening, which weighs even intellectual knowledge and says, is this useful for humanity? No? Keep it closed until a time comes when it will be useful for humanity. There are intellectual traditions which are totally upside down, making available knowledge to children which they should not have, not because it is bad — neither the child is bad, nor the knowledge is bad, but the combination of the two is disastrous.
This is where wisdom comes even in giving knowledge. To know what knowledge you should give to someone requires wisdom. That is why spiritual teachers must be wise, not knowledgeable, not intellectual. And no great master has ever been intellectual. They did not have degrees, diplomas; they were not scientists, artists, stonemasons, architects — in fact, they were nothing. But from nothing comes wisdom, whereas knowledge comes from here [head]. This is not to be trusted. So all this blah, blah, blah, about “everybody must have the right to knowledge, it must be free; why do you hide things?” Knowledge is never hidden. Knowledge is not made available — it is like the key of your house. I cannot give the key of your house to someone else, isn’t it? You have your house and if you are its owner and you know how to live in it properly, you have the key. So to knowledge also there are keys. And the wise man who is guiding your life, knows what key to give you to which room. You of the West are all familiar with Pandora’s box. Never open it. And then the inquisitive mind says if there is a box, and it is locked there must be something in it, so why not I see it? So you disobey and you open, and not only you suffer, but everyone around you.
So don’t think that knowledge is your birthright; it is not. Knowledge must be deserved and you must not arrogantly demand knowledge, “Come on, show me what it is.” It requires prayer, it requires humility, because both these are signs — especially humility is a sign — that you now deserve a little more of the knowledge that has already been given to you. More humility, a little more of the knowledge. Here there is no question of raping nature, ruling nature. Here there is a question of praying to nature, being humble before nature: “Reveal to me.” And if it is in the right spirit, and you are willing to and able to receive it, it may be given.
Here there is no right — droit does not exist. There is no right in a spiritual life. There are only responsibilities, duties. And what are they? Open your heart. “Why, Master?” Because it is good for you to open your heart; as long as it is closed, you will receive nothing, not even love. You don’t get love through the head or anywhere else, which is the mistaken impression of so many people. You get love only through the heart. If it is not open, you can neither give love nor receive love. Then you have this sordid life, where you are enclosed, where you are in a prison of your own making. It is almost as if it is the deepest dungeon in the chateau, and there is a little hole through which something is pushed to you for you to continue to exist in that misery. Open and be free. You will see this all.
So you see the laws of spirituality are very simple. Open your heart — first and most important step. And if that is done, everything else becomes easy. If your heart is open, you receive love, you give love freely, and then there is no more question of racial consciousness, superiority, pride and arrogance, prejudice — nothing. Love says [that] this is a human being. I don’t see French people and German people and Polish people. I see people. Isn’t it?
So, we have to, first of all, sit down and pray. Lord, you have put something into my heart. You have lit that tiny flame, which is a divine thing which has to guide me through eternity. May I open it and let this light flow out of me. This was the old spirit in former times, when on dark days the mother lit a lamp and put it in the window of her house, not merely for her children to come back (they knew the way) but for anybody who was in the darkness to know that here is the light, come. It is a welcoming attitude. It says come, here is some light. Let me share it with you. Because light shared, there is no loss. Money shared, of course, you have to give something. If you share a bottle of water, two people can drink, four people can drink, eight people can drink. But this? Infinity, for infinity, through infinity! You understand?
So the call of spirituality is a very simple call: open your heart. How long does it take? We must not be like certain cultures where the door is always locked and the prophet has to say knock, and it shall be opened unto thee. In Sahaj Marg there is no prophet to say knock, because he has no door on which you can knock — it is open. Babuji Maharaj clearly said to some overseas abhyasis long ago, when they asked him about such a situation. He said, “My house has no doors.” You don’t find it in other traditions [that say], “Knock. Ask and it shall be given unto thee.”
Infinity does not say ask. It says, take. “Lord, how much should I take?” Take whatever you can. This is all you can hold in your hands? Why do you ask for tons of food when you can hardly hold this much? So this is the generosity of the Infinity, of the infinite Being, who does not have to say: knock and ask, and do this and do that. He only says, receive. “Receive. Come on, take, more and more.” Babuji Maharaj said, “I am here to be looted.”
So what a wonderful system we have, what wonderful Masters we have had; should we not keep that tradition alive in the future? Make it grow, be inviting in such a way that people cannot say no to you. And if, as you say, abhyasis are not coming, more and more are not coming, it is because we are not inviting. We are of cultures where you believe that you’ve invited and you have done your duty — “Oh, yes, I have invited.” Your duty is not over, because once you have invited you have already taken responsibility for them; otherwise don’t invite. You cannot say, “I invited but I did not expect they will turn up, for heaven’s sake. I have invited but I did not expect them to sit and eat. I thought they would be polite and go away after giving me a Christmas gift.”
In the tradition of the yogic life, the spiritual life, a guest is part of the family, he comes but he never goes. In worldly terms it is sometimes difficult to handle, but that is it. If the heart is open, it works. We talk of Jesus dividing two loaves and five fishes. Do we really believe it? Or is it just a miracle which helps us to be a good Christian, if at all? Or is it like another Cinderella — you know, a fairy tale — which is why religion doesn’t succeed. Have you ever tried having twenty guests at home with just one baguette and ten grams of butter, and watching the miracle of everybody being happy? Have you ever tried it? Or did you say, “No, no, I have not enough today. Please.”
The truth must be tested in your own lives, not in the lives of other people. You cannot go around as a good Christian and say, “Oh, yes, Jesus has been able to do it because he was Jesus.” If there could be one Jesus in this universe, God could have created millions of Jesuses. Why not? Because nobody was willing. They were happy that Jesus was born, was crucified, and gave two loaves and five fishes to the multitude and the Sermon on the Mount. What have you done? So no answer, you see.
So if you want to be spiritual you have to live the life of the masters. Do what they did — start giving, giving, giving, not receiving. Love! I don’t even say “all” because it has no meaning. Love, and you become slowly transformed into Love itself, and anybody who comes sees only love, receives only love. If you put a bag of sugar, anybody who comes will take sugar.
So spirituality also starts with opening your heart, enabling yourself to give love and receive love. And by doing it day after day, hour after hour, second after second, slowly you become transformed into love and then there is no more any problem. If the bees can find honey in flowers, should not devotees be able to find love in their flower: Babuji Maharaj? And does the bee not go unerringly, without doubt? “Will today’s flower give me honey?” does it ask? “Today I am on holiday!” It goes joyfully. It goes knowing that it will get and the flower is open. “No, no, no, I am afraid, all the flowers are closed. No honey for your bread and butter.”
So, sisters and brothers, in such a life, there is the joy of living whatever be the circumstance. We are grateful that we are alive. Why are you grateful that you are alive? If somebody should ask, you must say because it gives me an opportunity to grow. Had I not been alive, I would not grow: grow physically, grow mentally, grow morally, grow spiritually.
So, I am grateful, first of all, that He has given me the gift of life. I am grateful that through my instrumentation, which is my body, I will have the ability to receive and to give. I am grateful that in this process, I will slowly but surely learn to receive only from Him and give to all. This again is what spirituality is all about. So, not to wring the cloth too much and tear it, I know all of you have come here to become something — not just to learn something, not just to be in company with somebody, but to become something. Everything that we do must help us to become That which we have to become. And if you have advanced even one step on that path, it is a big step because we are in the right direction.
I pray that all of you will go faster and faster towards that goal, that your hearts will open wider and wider until this whole thing is open [the heart], that you will give and give and give, and see the miracle that the more you give, the more you receive. Many people have seen that when you give truly with your heart, it becomes embarrassing because more keeps coming and you have to give more and more. It is like a tiny stream becoming a spring, becoming a river, becoming a flood. And that miracle you must experience because it is the only true miracle which happens to you.