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God is Universal
Informal Talk with Scholars, 27th December, 2005
Question: When will we get an ashram in Canada? One, at least?
Master: Well you know, if you don’t mind my saying something which is very down to earth, if you want to have a baby, you have to get married. You have to do it. You are in Canada; I’m not in Canada. We have been there for so many years, but nothing is growing. Canada is…
Question: So comfortable.
Master: Yes. Wherever you have luxury and too much income, people say, “Why? We don’t need God.” You know, I had a German friend (I don’t know if he is still alive)—Theodor Czernik near Stuttgart. And he joined the Mission long ago, when I used to travel for my company. And he was the sales director for his company. He had a house in Munich; he had a house near the Stuttgart Feuerbach, (it’s a suburb). He had a very beautiful Russian wife and a big piano. So when he started meditation and spoke about it to some colleagues, they said, “Aber warum? [But, why?] You have everything, you know. You have two houses. You have a Benz car, you have a pretty wife, you have a grand piano.” They think God is necessary only for people who have nothing else. But what to do? That is why they come only when they are sick or when they lose money or their business folds up. Then they come. Then they realise they need God! Too late, sometimes.
Question: It’s very sad, but it’s true.
Master: It is true. That is why in poorer countries, it spreads: like in Islamic countries, now it’s growing; in South America, where they are not so prosperous; in poorer countries of Europe, like Yugoslavia. Prosperity is the enemy of spirituality. That’s why in the Bible it says, “Even though a camel may pass through the eye of a needle, rarely shall a rich man enter the gates of heaven.”
I was telling a story yesterday which Babuji Maharaj told me. Heaven was there and there was a big gate, about five metres, always closed. There was a small gate through which people entered, one by one, and a saint was sitting there verifying their records and allowing them inside. And one young man (like Jethro) had been waiting for days and days in that queue. Finally he reached the wicket gate, eleven days, twelve days later. And he saw a car driving up to the big gate. Immediately, the big gate was opened. There was a flurry of activity, a red carpet rolled out and he was taken in. This man was very angry. He said, “I’m here for eleven days in this queue, and this guy comes in his car and swoosh [he is whisked inside].”
Eventually, when he went into the Lord’s presence, as all souls must go, he raised his hand. And God said, “Yes, my son?” He said, “I have a complaint.” God said “Here too, my son?” He said, “Yes, there is favouritism. There is nepotism.” He said, “How do you say that?” He said, “Well, I was standing in the queue for eleven days, and on the eleventh day when I was about to enter, a car came—red carpet, direct to your Holiness. Is this not favouritism? Nepotism? Corruption? I thought I had left it behind on earth.”
So God laughed. He said, “May I explain to you?” He said, “Yes, I want an explanation.” So God said, “People like you, simple folk with devotion and love in your heart, they come by the millions every day. That man was a very rich, powerful man on earth. Such people come once in a millennium. Don’t you think he deserves a special reception? Now what do you say?”
So even though the camel may pass through the eye of a needle… It is unfortunate but it is the same in India (of course in India) because we are surrounded by this atmosphere. You know, we do have a lot of prosperous people, good business, things like that. But in Europe, there is this in-built idea that unless you are sick, you don’t need God; if you are a sinner, you have to beat your breasts and go to church and confess. You follow?
I remember, you know, Babuji used to talk about automatic reaction in the body. He said, “You don’t need to be conscious.” And he gave an example that when you are sleeping, if there is a mosquito biting you, the body takes care of it. You don’t have to be conscious and slap it. Now I had told this story with Babuji there, in France, some years ago. And next morning, one gentleman stood up and made a big joke. He said, “Of course, Babuji lives in a place where there are a lot of mosquitoes. They don’t even have mosquito nets. They don’t have chemicals. But here we have everything, you see. So we have to take the teaching of Babuji with a little salt.” You understand?
Of course, it was spoken in French but I managed to pick up a little and then I determined to learn a little French, because this was against the spirit of a Sahaj Marg meeting, with Babuji sitting there. I thought, “You know these overseas people are cheating with me.” I think Bernadette remembers this, or at least Diane would, if she was here, because the man who spoke was a very rich, powerful man. And the man who translated what I had spoken the previous day was a very good abhyasi. And this man said that man had not translated it properly also, which was a lie. So I said, “I must not allow these superior people to put one over me, to pull the wool over my eyes,” as they say. That gave me the impetus to learn French—what little I know. Now they cannot fool me.
One expects Occidental people to be at least truthful. But in India we have been used to white rule for so many years, like the Africans and all these poor nations where the white man has been. We think they are superior, they are gods—even today! So, that will not go easily; it will take centuries to go. But in the meantime I don’t want [that]. At least in a spiritual assembly like ours, whether white or black or yellow, we should not tell lies to each other.
But it was a good thing for me, because I learnt some hundred words of French. Then later on when I asked him, he said, “No, no, no, brother. It was not a lie. It was... I didn’t mean it in that way. I didn’t mean to…”. So they also published Reality at Dawn in French, omitting some material from it, saying, “This is not suitable for Europeans.” Babuji was quite upset when he heard about it. He said, “My teaching is for everybody. It cannot be cut; this part for Indians, that part for Africans, this part for Europeans. It cannot be.” So, what to do?
Initially Sahaj Marg in Europe suffered because of such ways of partitioning Sahaj Marg as ‘good for these people, not good for these people’. It’s like cutting up the Bible when you come to India and saying, “No, no, no, Christ did not say this.” So initially Sahaj Marg was a bit handicapped by the prefects who were working in Europe because they all had their own personal ideas of spirituality. They all had their prejudices against something Indian. They liked the spirituality but they didn’t like it because it came from India. So it went on like that but I’m happy to see that it is growing now.
I have high hopes of South America, because, strangely enough, South America is mostly Catholic, only Catholic—but it is growing in Catholic countries because they are not so prosperous. They have the idea that there is a God who is necessary, who created us. Then they develop the idea that He is not only necessary, He is essential. Then they get into the idea that He is always with us, that you don’t have to lock Him up in a church and go and pray. But God is here; God is there; God is everywhere. So when we go to a church or a temple, in a sense we are questioning the omnipresence of God. Isn’t it? Any doubts on that?
Abhyasis: No. No.
Master: I mean, if your husband is at home and you telephone his office and say, “Is Carlos there?” the husband will say, “But, my dear, I’m here.” So we have to accept that if He is present everywhere He is also in my heart, because God is not outside. Like when people living in a house are inside this house. If God is inside, He must be inside this tree, inside me, inside this stone. So, in spirituality we look for Him here [pointing to the heart] where He has been with me eternally—not [just] today or tomorrow. I don’t have to request him to come. We may have to request our wife to come and make some coffee, and she says, “Honey, I have a headache today. Why don’t you prepare some for me?” But not God, you see.
He is there. He is my motivating force. It’s like an almond; the kernel is inside the shell, not outside. What would the shell do if the fruit was outside, isn’t it? So that is the belief that, eventually, as human beings evolve, they get closer and closer to what perhaps the Divine really is. And then we understand that it is not some God somewhere in some far off heaven, but He is here. And He is in every one of us, which is the reason why we try to create a brotherhood of human beings, without distinctions of caste, religion, colour, race. Which is why there are so many of you sitting in this small place, in a remote corner of South India. What brings us all together here? The same belief that we are all one, because we have the same thing here [pointing to the heart].
Like when you go to a Rotary Club meeting, you may find a lot of powerful people with a lot of money. You go to the Government meetings, you find a lot of powerful people, who have power over life and death, who can give you whatever, you name it, who can make atom bombs. They have their own club, like they have the Club Mediterranean in Europe—all elite people wearing suits, ties; all eating caviar, drinking champagne. So each exclusive club... But ours is an inclusive club. Here we have educated people, not so much educated; we are white, black, blue, yellow, man, woman, twenty-five languages. This is a true society without difference, isn’t it?
Of course we have some people who are still doubtful, even after fifteen years, twenty years, because culture has trained us, and movies have magnified this error that we can see God, we can see Him walking on earth. But my Master said, “Of course, we see Him walking on earth—but He is inside you.” When you walk, He is walking. When you sleep, He is sleeping. He doesn’t come separately, like Rama with a bow and arrow, or like Christ. He is everywhere. Whatever you do, He is doing it with you. He is doing it from inside you. It’s like the baby inside the mother’s stomach—when she eats, it also receives its nourishment. But when it is separated physically from the mother, then it has own existence. It can fall; it can break its head; it has to go to school, which is a big bore for most children. Then it has to find a job. It has to go to college. It has to earn money, buy its own car, have its own wife. So many things, you see.
So when we separate ourselves, we suffer. When we come together, we live in a sort of a bliss which you don’t know when you are at home. I mean, you may have some discomfort in our ashram in Tiruppur. But have you felt lonely? Have you felt isolated? Do you want to close the door of your bedroom? No. Why not? Because you feel that you are with people with whom you belong, who are pursuing the same goal that you are pursuing. There is a safety not in numbers, but in similarity of the goal.
You know like when you travel in a train, you become friendly with the passengers. You exchange food packets. And when somebody leaves after a whole day, you feel sad. “Oh, you are leaving? I thought we are both going to Delhi.” He says, “No, no. I have to go but…” So when we have the same pursuit, the same goal, the same ideal to work with, the same teaching that we follow, no gods to separate us into Hindu and Buddhist and Christian and Mussulman [Muslim]—we are really one. And today in the world, if you look, if you are really keen on knowing what is really killing us, it is religion more than anything else.
Yugoslavia, which was once a beautiful country, has been divided because of Muslims and Serbs, essentially. Ethnic violence, they call it. They call it ethnic cleansing. I mean we blame the Germans for cleaning Germany of the Jews, but what about the Serbians who assaulted Islam? Specifically, it was a religious war.
What is happening in the Middle East? Shia and Sunni fighting each other. What is happening in India? It is God who is dividing us. Not the God, but what we think of as God. And we worship Him and love Him so much, that we cannot allow another people to worship God in their own way. And God says, “Thou shall not kill,” doesn’t he? But we are all killing all the time, starting from the wars of the Crusades: Christians versus Islam, the flourishing Islam. Then Islam went all over Europe, almost—Spain, Portugal. Then they had to be pushed back. Why? Because your God and my God cannot live together! But it is one God, you see. So why do we allow religion to separate us when our God is one? Because God can only be one by definition. Every religion says there can only be one God. But then they say, “My God is the only God, not yours.”
You know it’s like a father and a mother arguing, “This is my son!” And the mother says, “Not at all. He is my son.” [Laughter] And the poor son—eventually, if this fight goes on too much, they divorce—and the poor son doesn’t know where he is going, with the mother or with the father. And we get advocates like Lea to go to the divorce court and the court has to decide with whom the child will live. You see the tragedy? So we have to say, “We have our God.” And that God is universal. He is not only for the human beings; He is for the animals, for the plants, for the stones, and the whole universe. So here we try to bring all this into practice, not only talk about it.
There is no religion today which is united. Christianity is not one religion—there are so many denominations. First of all, Catholic, Protestant. I think it was Henry VIII who decided there should be a Church in England because he was not allowed to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon. So he said, “No Pope in England.” He set up his own religion. So religion was man-created, not God-created. Isn’t it? Who created the Catholic Church? It was St. Peter, not God.
So you see, we must realise that we created religion. Islam was created by Mohammed the Prophet. Before that there was no Islam. There were tribal gods. All over Africa there are still tribal deities. In much of the primitive world they still worship trees, stones. In one way they are right, because there is God in the trees and the stones, but it is not an elevated way of worship.
As Babuji said about service (serving—not working; serving—serving human beings), “Each human being is obliged to serve from the highest level at which he can serve.” If you are a professor, you should teach, not do cooking or wiping the shoes of the people who come to the temple. It is misusing the gifts of God. So we should all try to serve human beings or cattle or whatever from the highest level we can. A veterinary doctor should serve as a doctor, not go and milk the cow. [Laughter] Not a laughing matter, though I also feel like sharing a laugh. But we are all doing things from the silliest levels, you know. And that is against God. God said, “Do, but from your level.” If you are a life-saver on the beach, you save lives, not chase away dogs. So every one of you must try to serve from the highest level that is possible to you, and progressively make yourself capable of serving from even yet higher levels.
You know, Jesus may have performed miracles, but he went around preaching. He taught people; he didn’t cook. So you see, that is another thing. “Oh, poor dear, I will look after the baby, you go for meditation.” Okay, good service! But when are you going to meditate?
I find in Western countries, there is a lot of misunderstanding of this concept of service. And when they don’t want to meditate, they say, “No, no, Chariji, I’ll wait at the gate, in case some latecomers come. You conduct the satsangh.” “Thank You!” No? It’s always the lazy person who doesn’t want to go for satsangh, who is the first to offer himself for service. “I will peel the vegetables. I will peel the potatoes. After all, you know, that is also service.” Isn’t it? It’s a gross misunderstanding of the word ‘service’. Service means serve with your heart, not with your head. And serve those who need service. Not sit and wait for somebody to come to you. And serve from the best position that you can. If you are a doctor, serve them medically. If you are a lawyer, serve them with whatever you can serve. If you are a cook, cook for them. But if you are a doctor, don’t cook. And if you are a cook, don’t try to be a doctor.
So these are some of the things that we learn from my Master. And this is the wisdom of life. This is the only way in which we can manifest love for each one of us, between ourselves, between us and everything in our creation. A spiritual person cannot by any means see a cow slaughtered and eat the beef. I know one of my close associates in France, he gave up meat-eating because he once saw a goat being slaughtered behind the restaurant and he could never stand it after that. He gave it up.
So if all of you see how your fish is being cooked and your goat is being slaughtered, I’m sure most of you will give up meat-eating, fish-eating. Of course, if you are intending to be nasty, you can always say, “Chariji, doesn’t a vegetable have life?” Of course it has life. But so has salt. According to the Indian tradition, even rocks are alive but at the lowest possible limit of life; they are almost not alive.
So we must learn not to argue but to accept, and examine, and then finally decide whether to accept it with our heart or to reject it. That is allowed. But arguing on the basis of forgotten memories of past religions, arguing on the basis of bias... You know, one man asked me long ago when I was in Yugoslavia (he was a chemist), he said, “Chariji, why don’t you eat meat?” I said, “Well, we don’t eat meat.” He said, “But you are a chemist too. And you know that meat is only protein. And it contains—(this and this and this).” You know, it was a long argument.
So I told him, “Do you drink urine? I mean, if you are a chemist, you should not worry about drinking urine, because, if you analyse it, there are chemicals in it. Why don’t you drink it?” I said, “Do you eat human flesh? Why don’t you do it? Because the human body is no different from another body. It is also protein. There is muscle; there are tendons; there is the stomach. I mean if a tiger can eat you, why can’t you eat yourself?” I asked. [Laughter]
And then he was angry. He said, “Oh, you are only arguing for argument’s sake.” I said, “Brother, if you argue, you must argue sensibly. Now you told me I’m a chemist and you are a chemist. I’m arguing on the basis of chemistry.”
So like that, people argue for the sake of argument, not necessarily to find out the truth. Sahaj Margis must not argue but find the truth, because in argument you tend to protect your own point of view, your opinion, which you will rarely give up. But inquiry—that’s what Babuji said—inquiry: look for the truth. Then we have an open mind. We are not prejudiced. No cultural prejudice, no racial prejudice, and no religious bias.
You know, I like this Latin word aude sapere—dare to think. When we don’t dare to think, we are like cattle in a pen. I hope you will all break out of these narrow confines of prejudices, biases and come out into the freedom where we can think without restriction, even about God. I pray that this should happen all over the world, and that humanity grows out of its shackles. Because in a way, we are very much where Plato put us in The Republic—still chained to the caves of prejudice, looking at one side of the picture, not the other. And therefore, we remain Christians—we remain ignorant. We remain Buddhists—we are also ignorant. We remain Hindus—equally ignorant. Because we don’t want to change. And why don’t we want to change? Because we are afraid of change. Spirituality says the only permanent thing is change.
Change is happening all the time. Nothing can stop it. If you want to go by car, you are changing all the time. You think you are not changing because you are inside the car. But if the car was not changing all the time, moving you know, you would not go anywhere. Would you? You eat and you think you are happy. There is no change, but that food is going down. And by the time whatever is to be excreted comes out, it has done probably about twenty metres of journey within you. That is a journey too. Slow, but steady and sure. If it stops, you have to go the hospital.
So without that change, there is no safety. Blood is moving all the time. You may have I don’t know how many pints of blood in the system, maybe seven or eight. But if it was not circulating, you probably would be dead, because only when you are dead, the circulation stops. Lungs are moving, heart is moving.
The heart is a miraculous thing. It is pumping from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Where is the engine? We know, as modern people, that nothing can move without a motive force. We always see a generator giving electricity, a locomotive with its steam engine, or a gas turbine generator, or an electric generator. But here we have the miracle that, I’m the driven thing; I have the engine inside myself; and there is somebody who is regulating all this whom we call the inner presence, which is the highest presence in the universe. Three in one—me, my Self inside me, and my Maker within that Self. It’s like one of these Russian dolls: outermost is me, little inside is the Self, and inside that is the God who keeps the Self alive. This is Sahaj Marg in its simplest form.
I hope you all enjoy this visit. Tomorrow we will have another.