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Know the Tree by its Fruit
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
I have been talking to prefects just now, and three days back in Dubai, trying to lay emphasis on one aspect of Sahaj Marg: that Sahaj Marg must be known not by its philosophy, not by its Masters, not by its organisation or administration or ashrams, but by the abhyasis that walk out of these places into the world. Every one of you should be an advertisement of what the Mission can produce. You know in our Hindu dharma, we always take pride in the past—my gotra [family, race, lineage], my parampara [lineage], my poorva paddhati [past spiritual practice], whatever it may have been (“I am born of Viswamithra”)—all going back. But there is a saying, “Know the tree by the fruit.” You cannot have a mango tree in your garden and the fruit is rotten, isn’t it? It is the fruit that determines what the tree is.
So we must realise that we have the pleasure and the great benefit, the blessing, of growing into something which is unique, which according to Babuji Maharaj is not very easy to grow into, which according to Lalaji Maharaj was not possible—all these things have been said about Sahaj Marg. Okay, that is good for Sahaj Marg, it is good for its Gurus, it is good for the system. What have we produced?
So know the tree by its fruit! I must be known not by the rishis who were my forefathers but by the future that comes out of me; not in the sense of just my children and grandchildren, but in the shape of the work or in the form of the results that we achieve, in what we build, in what we leave behind. And there must be a man who can say, “Here walked Gandhiji.” We have recently had the Dandi march all over again. We celebrate the birth anniversaries of great people year after year. Why? Babuji Maharaj used to say, “Know a person not by what he claims to be but by what he is able to do.” There is no point in saying, “I am a good carpenter,” and somebody says, “Show me something that you have produced.” “No, no, I don’t work. But be assured that I am a good carpenter. If I wanted, I could have done wonderful things.” We all say this. But we have to produce something to show what we can do.
In spirituality, you are the product of your own effort. You do sadhana not for the sake of the Guru or for the sake of the Mission but for yourself. And you are the product of your effort and you become from something to something, but you are still you. So people say, “How much you have changed! What are you doing? How did you manage?” That sort of remark should come from your friends, from your society, from your relations. “What are you doing that you have changed? You used to be this and this and this, and now, you are this and this and this—miraculous!” So, you see, each one of us must transform himself or herself into a miraculous product of self-effort, assisted by a system which makes that effort possible, and blessed by His grace which makes everything possible. Otherwise, we are failures in ourselves, we are failures for ourselves, and we are failures for the rest of the world.
If you are educated, you must have something to show for your education. You know in the army, they have their ways of recognizing rank: uniforms distinguish whether you are an air force officer or an army officer or a naval officer, you have stripes. Schools, famous schools like Oxford, Harvard, they have their ties. The moment you look at it, you know what he is. We have not been taught to look at the person and see what he is. He is wearing an Oxford tie, so he must be from Oxford. And in America, all these T-Shirts—they are very famous. You need not have gone to any school, but you can buy a T-shirt representing any university in USA for, I don’t know, forty dollars.
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[Inaudible] when they go away from you, do they smile at you or do they frown at you? Do children come to you or do they run away from you? The whole world is the mirror of a person. “Nahin, nahin, saheb [No, no, sir], whenever I go there, they all go away.” There must be something wrong with you. Some people say, “No, no, no, I don’t want too much kich, kich kich [noise], everybody around, you know.” But remember when the mango is kachcha [raw], there are no bees, there are no ants; it has a free existence. But when it is ripe and sweet, boys throw stones at it, flies come, ants come, birds peck at it. So the more you are pecked at and wanted and tasted and chewed up, the more humanity thinks of you. Such a person cannot remain aloof.
Babuji said two things about a saint. He said, “A saint is the target for the world’s sorrows.” All sorrows come to him. Everybody goes to him, “Saheb [Sir], my wife is sick.” Another says, “My son is not passing.” A third one says, “My daughter is not married.” The fourth one says, “Just now my mother is admitted [to the hospital] with terminal cancer.” He has to listen, and if he is responsive, he suffers with you too. So he suffers the suffering of all of you put together. Also, Babuji Maharaj said, “A saint is not for his own enjoyment, but he is there to be enjoyed.” Enjoyed in what sense? People would want to sit with you, talk with you, laugh with you, joke with you, eat with you. Of course, Alok Kumar gave one very good suggestion which I gave him, you see, that we can also do it and also help the Mission. When you go for a lunch or when you feel like going out with your family (which is very common nowadays), you spend five hundred rupees for a dinner. Why don’t you make an equal contribution to the Mission?—things like that. But that was by way of a joke. To be with one whom you want to be with is not a crime. It is not a sin. At the same time, we must put ourselves in His position and see what will happen to me if it was to happen to me like that.
So you see, we need to have sympathy, we need to empathize with the other person. Love means sacrifice. He is sacrificing; but should I also not sacrifice something? “No, no, what is the sacrifice? We just want to sit in front of him.” You know, we have this principle of drishti [evil eye, in this context] in Sanskrit. We keep our children away from public gaze. We don’t feed our old people in public to protect them from drishti. We hang pumpkins when the new construction is taking place. What for? So that an evil eye may not say, “Ayyo! How much milk is this baby drinking?” I have seen this happen. Nice baby—one bottle finished, it wants a second bottle. Somebody from the pados [neighbourhood] is there and she makes an exclamation, “This child—two bottles of milk?” And the next morning, the baby is sick.
So we protect our old people, our sick people, our children, so that not everything is seen about them. They are able to eat in private, their medicines are in private, then they come out in public. (They have a public life too.) So this shows the power of the eye. If it is good and if it is loving, it is wonderful. The mother’s eye is always loving. The more of the mother’s milk the child takes, the more happy the mother. But another person will be jealous: “My baby drinks two spoons; this shaitan [devil] has taken two bottles!”
So you see, we should try to gather around us people who are, if not loving, at least sympathetic, at least friendly, at least who can share in our joys instead of being jealous. Is our satsangh producing such people? Are we producing abhyasis who can sincerely say, “Saheb, my friend has married the most beautiful girl in the world. I am happy.” Or does he say, “Why could I not get such a wife?” Another man says, “He has got a job for two lakhs a month, sir. I am still getting forty rupees per day.” So you see, how we react to the world determines how the world reacts to us.
So here is a training ground, a place of training where character is formed. Are you amenable to the formation of this character, to the reformation of this character? Are we able to throw off everything that is unnecessary, including my religion, my nationality, my language, my culture? I may use it, but it is not necessarily mine. I am using this hall today, but it is not my hall. I am going to sleep in a bedroom today here, but it is not my bedroom. As great saints have said, “Even your body is not yours. You are only a tenant.” Come tomorrow, who knows which tenant has gone and which tenant is still here? Am I attached to this body to such an extent that I say, “My body, my clean body, my lovely body”? Or do I recognize that I am here to do something in this world for myself, for everybody else and then to quit when my time has come—not sorrowfully, not unhappily, but cheerfully.
I had a problem with a prefect who created a new centre some years ago. He did a very good job—excellent job, in fact. But when somebody else came and he was made centre-in-charge, this man became jealous. I told him, “My friend, life is not one man’s race.” It is not a race where you start and you win or end. It is a permanent race, universal race, timeless race, like a relay race, you know—four people running all around a course. The other four are waiting; as you come here, he gets ready and takes over the baton from your hand and runs his course, each generation handing over to the next generation. And until the last generation has run the last race and reached the target or the goal, we cannot say what humanity is going to achieve, what it has achieved or not achieved, because that final stage, we don’t know when it will happen, where it will happen.
What will my great-great-great-great grandson be like? I don’t know. I don’t know about myself, therefore we go to jyotishi [astrologers], doctors—diagnosis, prognostications. How can I know about my son or his son, or his son’s son? We can only hope; we can only pray. Similarly, the man who runs the race the first lap and hands over the baton and he is first, now his future depends on the next man who has taken over—the race depends on the next man. What will he do with the baton? Will he fall, will he stumble, will be become slow, will he break a leg? Insha Allah. Therefore when talking of the future, we have to have faith that it is not my race. It is a race He is running where each one of us is trained to run one lap, hand over gracefully, hand over cheerfully, hand over tactfully and say, “Lord, You have blessed me with the ability to run my lap—I have handed over, now let me come and join you.”
So you see, we are here for the nonce. Our jeevan [life] here is temporary. We should not build things thinking we will take them with us. Nothing that we have here will go with us—nothing! If you are ugly, it is not going with you (“Thank God!” most girls will say). If you are beautiful, that beauty is not going with you (“For heaven’s sake,” they will say). The result is the same. The rich man will leave his money; the poor man will leave his poverty; the educated man will leave his education. What goes? Your spiritual wealth is the only thing that will accompany you—but that we have to spend effort and time to build. We have no faith in it! We have faith in two hundred and twenty five square feet flats in Pune or in Panvel or Mumbai and we stick to it like leeches. We have two sons and they argue and fight over that little flat of two hundred and twenty square feet, where, by and large, it was misery. You see what is happening to the big Ambani empire: 58,000 crores—two sons and they are quarrelling. They are making a public misery and people laugh. You understand? Nothing will go with you. When Dhirubhai died, nothing went with him. That is why there is so much quarrelling! If it had been possible for him to take his 58,000 crores, the children would have been happy; [instead] they are miserable. Are we going to leave something which will benefit our children or make them quarrel, miserable, go to court and destroy the family? So you see, you have the responsibility. What am I going to leave for my family? For my child? Quarrels, hatred, violence, or peace—shanti. What am I going to leave?
So we have to think, my dear brothers and sisters: Am I doing what is good for me? Am I doing what is good for me which will also be good for the future? Am I doing what is good for myself, for the future, and for eternity too? Three questions. I hope all of you will ask these questions, answer them, benefit from them and do what is necessary.