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Life in the Real Sense
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have a lot of our overseas sisters and brothers with us. They have been travelling now for about ten days. And they are now looking at life in India in the real sense. Life in Bombay and Calcutta is not the real Indian way.
When you live life like the average Indian lives: bearing the cold in winter, heat in summer-the pride of many things that you people consider normal in your Western lives: hot water and cold water all the time, air conditioned houses, minus thirty outside, plus fifteen inside-you see how illusionary a so-called civilized life can be. It's a life of fantasies, artificiality. And when Babuji Maharaj says, "Live in tune with Nature," this is life. In India we learn to live with nature. Sometimes we may grumble, sometimes we may feel very uncomfortable; occasionally we may even fall sick. But I don't think any Indian worth his salt would like to be born anywhere else except in India. Not for spirituality-because the average Indian is as ignorant of spirituality as the average Westerner. Religion is not spirituality.
You see all these buses going [pointing to the road]; they are going to the holiest of holies in India-Badrinath, some ten thousand five hundred feet up in the Himalayas. Not yet open. They will be open only some time in March or April because they are still snow-bound. But that is to the Indian what Mecca is to the Muslim or Jerusalem to the Jew: the holy of the holies. I remember in my grandfathers' days people walked all the way from south India, from the Cape, which is about two thousand miles from here, and went up to Badrinath, which is still about two hundred miles from here. When they left home they bid good-bye to everybody and there were certain religious rites performed which are performed only for those who will not return. They performed it themselves. It was called Athma Shradha. They consigned themselves to the future, to destiny, to their goal whatever it could be, not expecting to return. Because on an average those who did return, came back after four years, five years. And it is traditional that if five hundred people left south India, ten people came back. There were no trains; there were no buses. They walked; they travelled by bullock cart; they travelled perhaps twenty miles a day. They had no tents; they had no sleeping bags. They did not carry rations like the people who climb mountains in Russia do, or nuts-high vitamin, high mineral content. They lived on the charity of the hill people who treated pilgrims as divine guests.
In India we have this tradition that the guest is God himself coming to see us-athithi. Unexpected, untimely, uninvited. That is the meaning of athithi. Not, you know, ministers and rich people who come to weddings. That is all for show, for pomp, for self-aggrandisement. The athithi is the one who comes and knocks at your door at midnight, and you receive them properly with a smile. But you wash his feet, you dry them with your own towel which you have on your upper body, and receive them like God himself. Athithi devobhava, says the Veda you see. The guest is to be treated as God himself; or, in another sense, God is a guest who will come at such a time. God alone takes the risk of coming uninvited, unwanted perhaps, to see you, to bless you. And if He is rebuked and sent away, He goes with a smile and says, "His time has not yet come."
There is a famous story in the Bhagavatha about Lord Krishna who promised the rishis-all supposed to be able to see into the past, the present and the future, thrikalagnanis as they are called. They invited him. He said, "I will come to you at midnight." So they had all their prayers and pujas, prepared auspicious holy food, sanctified everything ready for the Lord. And at midnight a jungle boar wandered into them-there for the feast. Now a boar is considered unclean, so they beat it with their sticks and chased it out. And every rishi felt the beat on his back. Then they realised that God has come in the form of a boar.
This has many lessons to teach us. It teaches us that God can have any form because He has no form. He promises to come when He comes, so when He comes, expect him. Don't see what was there before you. If they had seen-you know they were all supposed to be rishis, tapasvis as we call them, people who have been meditating for ages, attained high stages of spiritual life-and yet they did not recognize the Lord because they saw with these eyes. [pointing to the eyes] "Look not with these eyes," says Babuji Maharaj, "Look for him with the eyes of your heart, because these eyes are used to see only this." [pointing outwards]
So, you see, spirituality teaches us many things: "Look not with these eyes, hear not with these ears, speak not with this mouth." The heart alone is the instrument through which you see, through which you speak, through which you express yourself, from which must gush forth all that we have been talking about for so many centuries which the Krishna legend repeats again and again: Love, transcendental Love.
What would you think if you opened the tap and nothing came out? Especially you of the West. Your taps never run dry; ours do, you see. We are used to it. But these taps [pointing to the heart] must not run dry. They must give. A cow does not ask for milk. It gives milk. Isn't it? A tree does not ask for fruit. It gives fruit. A human being must not ask for love. He and she must give love. This, beyond all philosophies, is the philosophy, the essence of Sahaj Marg. He who cannot love, who cannot learn to love, who cannot give love unconditionally, unstintedly, unreservedly at all times to all who seek it, is no spiritual person. Spirituality is not for the rishis who sit down and pray, you know, for their own elevation. Spirituality is for those who are prepared to remain where they are and yet to be able to give and to raise others to the highest levels. That is what the Master is for. That is his duty. That is his bounden duty. That is his blessed duty. That is his divine right.
So the call of spirituality is not very easy to respond to. You have to be patient. Patience comes out of faith. If you have faith, you know it must happen when it must happen-and you have but to wait. We should not shout for things. We should not demand. We should not even expect. We should be capable of saying, "I am here like your dog. Feed me when you wish. Take me for a walk when you wish. Ignore me when you wish, but I am here and you are my Master." This is the call of patience. As I repeat again: patience comes out of faith. Who has no faith, has no patience.
The Western education with its, what shall we say, enduring technological advances, bewitching things on offer, instant everything, pre-cooked foods. Buy a half-cooked pizza, put it into the oven and you have a ready-made pizza in about thirty seconds. Hot water at the touch of a finger. Come and drive in your car: sitting in your car you open the gate of the compound, you open the garage, you open your front door, switch on the music-and if possible turn on your wife if she is still inside. That is Western civilization. You are taught to expect too many things, too fast, too soon, too easily, at virtually no cost.
Spirituality says, "My dear men and women, I did not create you like this. You are created as human beings with the potential to achieve the goal." Human beings only have the potential. That potential-how is it to be used? Through sadhana. What is sadhana? Sadhana, of course, is meditation and cleaning and prayer and all this, you know what we call here, the ten maxims of Sahaj Marg, all this blah, blah, blah. But sadhana in its essence means sitting, waiting. Sitting prayerfully, waiting patiently, receiving what comes at each stage of your waiting. What happens today in your sitting must not happen tomorrow again, because that means that you have not moved. Each experience must be new, must not be repeated.
Modern civilized life wants you to repeat experiences. "I want what I got yesterday. Let us buy at that place where we had pizza the day before yesterday. Let us go to San Remo again, for our honeymoon."-I don't know where you see. Repetitious. It shows that we have no taste, we have no sense of continuity. Continuity means from one to the other and the other. Repetition is not continuity. Repetitions must become boring, must become killing, jarring and eventually leads to death, if you are about to [go] wherever you are going for your holiday again and again and again every year, year after year after year, and eating pizza wherever you go.
I know in America, when you get to the US, there is no variety. You go to their wonderful, what you call it, the Pizza Hut. Right across the nation the pizza tastes the same, smells the same, the same junky rubbish you eat everywhere. It is not surprising that the Americans themselves call it junk food. Its destination should be the wastepaper basket as, what you call it, disposables. But it has to pass through our system because we like it. I don't know why we like it. You go to Godfather Pizza, again the same story. Different, but the same all over in taste. Coffee-"Starbuck" less said about it the better. The Europeans very fittingly call it dishwater. Buy one and get the second one free. I think that they couldn't even give away free. This is life today as it is.
Forgive me for using the extreme example of USA, because it is extreme. They expect everything to be the same everywhere-same repetitious experience. They go to the Bombay Hilton, Cairo Hilton, Damascus Hilton. And all these tourists, I have seen many of them, you know they save their money all their lives until they are sixty and then they go about on a jaunt of the world. And all they compare is what the Hilton in Cairo was, how does it compare with the Hilton in Munich. Now, there is no waiting, there is no patience, there is no patience with difference, there is no patience with changing experience. There is no patience at all with changing circumstances except for those who call themselves adventurers or adventurists. (I don't know which term to use because they have different meanings and I don't want to step on your toes.)
But life is change. Every moment of life is change, and if you cannot face change bravely with a spirit of acceptance, we are as good as dead though we claim to be alive. "For heaven's sake there is no hot water in Roorkee." Yes, it is for heaven's sake that there is no hot water in Roorkee, because once or twice a nice cold bath at plus ten degrees does you good. It shows you what the world is, how millions of people live in the other parts of the world-not pampered, fattened, heated up, bloated. We don't live life that way. We live life in the raw, and that is how nature intended us to be. The crows don't wear wool, the lion about which Babuji spoke so much, does it wear an overcoat? Its cave is not heated. Its food is not warm. It doesn't have pizza made out of goat's flesh or buffalo.
So, you see, it is very good that you are all in India, and I am glad you are going to travel in other regions which would perhaps give you even a rawer Indian life in the next few days. I hope you will all welcome it, because to be in tune with nature, to be in His-in a sense, at least to me, make your inner nature like the outer nature. Put the cold inside you, then you will not feel the cold outside.
Don't expect. I have given you all an eleventh maxim: expect not, for thou shall not be disappointed. Don't expect the light to come on when you press the switch. Don't expect water when you open the tap. Don't expect hot water when you see a red tap and it says hot. That is for us-to see, to admire, and to be happy with. But we are used to good old cold water so either tap will do. This is Indian nature. This is Indian life. This is India. Not, I repeat, Bombay, Calcutta, and Delhi. But this is Indian life: open meditation halls, the cold breeze blowing in from the north, noise everywhere, dust everywhere, flies in season, mosquitoes in other seasons and yet-this is the miracle-we are able to sit down and meditate. We are able to have spiritual experiences. And we are able to go deep into our meditation that when we come out we say, "Where are we? Oh, we are still in Roorkee with all this nonsense! But I never heard anything!" That is spirituality. This is life. That is spirituality.
So in this voice which we call the spiritual voice, we don't look for mountains or valleys, we look for what is inside us. The outside is as God created. The inside is as we must create it in conformity with what God wishes for us. That is the spiritual goal. I recommend it to all of you.
I pray that all of you will achieve it in this lifetime.