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Longing for the Original Home
14th November 2009, Kharagpur, India
I find that already the mood for departure is on all. I am happy that the mood for departure is with you all, because I wish to emphasize that when we are alive, we should also look forward to our departure from this life. Like today, people going back to South Africa, going back to wherever they are [from], they have been in that thought for the last twenty-four hours — most of them. In human life too, we should think of our Original Home with love and with longing to return home. It is a pity that to the earthly homes we want to return, but in [regard to] the heavenly home we want to stay here as long as possible, and again and again, janma janmaantar [in life after life] if possible.
I remember when my father was alive he was the first prefect to go to Europe. He started the centre in Rome and in Denmark. He was telling me the story of an abhyasi, a Swiss girl. She came to him and said, “But, Rajaji, I don’t mind being reborn. Life is so beautiful!” That is good, because she was Swiss, in a land of prosperity, well-born, endowed with good fortune, and so she thought she would return again and again. Others think a little more, if they are a little more developed, they want to go there, but after they have finished all their enjoyment of this life. “No, no, let me live twenty years more. I am only forty,” [or] “I am only twenty-five,” [or] “I am only eighty-three. There are still pleasures to be enjoyed.” Those who have eaten channa [chickpea snacks] on the beach — we used to buy them for two annas and they come in these newspaper cones — you eat them happily, but always you found some mud at the bottom, and when you ate it, it ruined the previous pleasure of all the channa that you ate.
Never drink to the dregs. Never eat to the last bit, because your ability to enjoy is also going down like this. The more you eat, the less you enjoy — what we call satiation. Like you give one rasagulla [a sweet dish], “It is good.” He wants the second one. You take a second one, “Na, na, na third! [No, not the third.]” Not because you are humble, but because you can’t tolerate.
So you see, Babuji used to emphasize that pain is what gives us liberation. The more we have pain, the more we are able to suffer pain, the more we are able to master pain, the more we become capable of more and more. And as I have repeated so many times, the one who masters pain is as near to God as he can get. It does not mean that, like the ascetics, we should sleep on beds of nails or invite pain. Sahaj Marg says, “When pain comes, accept it.” Babuji, early in his life, accepted a great deal of pain. In his teachings he says something about pain. “My pain,” he says. He does not say, “Your pain.” His article says, “My Pain”. I asked him why. He said, “I don’t want to frighten abhyasis. Already there are so few.” And if I talk of your pain, there won’t be another South African visit, or for that matter any other visit. People will say, “I did not come to this world to have pain. I came here to live well, happily, enjoy, and dekha jaayega [let us see] when the time comes, what life has in store for me.” Later on he started talking about the need for pain that we should experience as abhyasis. So you see, we have to take the example. Teachings always go with examples.
Babuji said if you are a good abhyasi, you should be an example to society. Not just teaching, but even by looking at you people should say, “What is this? What is this human being doing that he stands out, not because of his figure or face or whatever it is, but there is something about...” So you see, we have to accept the fact that Babuji taught again and again (repeating the three Urdu words), illat, killat and zillat [poverty, ill-health, criticism]. We should have a little less than what we need. If you need a hundred rand and you have only ninety-nine, you will spend carefully, wisely on what you have to spend, essentially. If you have even a hundred and one, the idea that you have more than what you need comes, and you become extravagant, silly, and buy things unnecessarily. Killat, zillat — you must always have less health than good health. There must always be something in you to make you remember that life is a pain, a misery.
Gautama the Buddha was brought up in his palace completely separated from anything that could reflect pain or suffering. But one day he set out and the story goes that he saw one sick man, one old man and a corpse being carried. And he said, “What is this?” He said, “Anyone who is born has to suffer sickness and pain, old age, death.” In Sanskrit it says, “Janma mrityu jaraa vyaadhi.” These are the four evils that we face, that the soul faces. Janma (birth); mrityu (death) — inevitable. If you are born you have to die. It is not a question of today or tomorrow, but it is inevitable. In between, jaraa (old age) and vyaadhi (sickness). These are the four evils that the soul faces before it comes down.
I am told that in Islam when a baby is born, they weep. They don’t have celebrations and mithai [sweets] distribution, because here is a pristine soul, ever-free, born into the bondage of this life. We make fun, we make merry, we have pleasure, we celebrate it; they weep. And when a person dies, they are happy — at last, liberation! — whereas, we weep. It seems that in this essential reaction to life and death, Islam has gone ahead of us. Isn’t it?
When Shantanu in the Mahabharata marries Ganga, and they have eight children, she is drowning each child immediately after birth in the Ganges. She has taken a vow from him when she married him that he would never ask her a question, ever. He does not ask, he is patient — of course, he suffers, he weeps in his heart, but he does not ask, he waits. Seven children have gone but when the eighth is to be drowned, he says, “Stop, why are you doing this?” Then she says “My Lord, you have done that which you promised never to do. You have asked me a question. I cannot give you the answer now. I will tell you later.” And she says, “I will take this baby, and bring him up and bring him back to you when he is of age.” Then she reveals, you see, how there were the ashtavasus (eight vasus) who had been cursed to be born as human beings and to live on earth. And Ganga promised them that she would assume human birth and liberate them as they were born. And she says later to Shantanu, “It is unfortunate that this eighth one has to live and suffer.” You see, how much suffering Bhishma underwent. So, the moral of the story is, all that we do is to escape. But we should not escape.
Escapism is not good. Escapism is the wrong attitude. We should not be in spiritual life to escape the evils of human life. Because human life, according to our Shastras, according to my Master, is the only life in which we can get directly into liberation. Because even in the Gita it says even Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh — they are only functionaries of nature. They enjoy almost unlimited life according to our perception. But it is yet only one life. They have to come back here, to this earth, which we call the karmabhoomi [land of action] to get liberation — aa brahma bhuvanaal lokaat punaraavartino Arjuna. Krishna tells Arjuna, “They come back here, Arjuna. From here they have to evolve all over again.” That is the fate of the trimurtis [Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva] that we worship so ardently, about which Babuji critically writes in his books. He says, “Why do you salute mere functionaries of nature? Salute Him whom they serve!”
And, we see the Puranas, we read the Puranas, we see the Mahabharata, the Ramayana — always you see Brahma or Vishnu or Shiva in deep meditation. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why are they meditating, and on whom they are meditating, on what are they meditating? Why is Shiva meditating? Yogesh! Why is Brahma in eternal meditation, except when disturbed and he opens his eyes?” We never ask ourselves these questions — questions which should be immediately striking us had we but spiritual interest. “What are they doing? I am doing it because I am a human being. Shiva to meditate? What for? Isn’t he a god?” And the answer must come, “Perhaps, not that God, but he is only a lesser thing.” Do you understand?
So we are not critical in our approach. Critical does not mean criticism, but to look at something with very focussed attention, with perspicacity, with a need to know and understand. We have not done it. We read Ramcharitmanas, we read the Bible — what do we gain from it? Nothing! We are satisfied because, especially in the Hindu religion shall I say, this parody or fallacy, or this cheat — that you repeat a mantra and you gain; that you read the Ramayana without understanding it every day. All over Uttar Pradesh you see it. They even teach their parrots to say, “Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram,” and they gain merit! How is it possible? If you can say Ram and you are liberated, why not say, “Fire” and there is fire? That can happen if you have developed within yourself the spiritual ability to create. But then, you are at the level of the creator, not of the one who is going to be a creator.
So you see, we have to remove all these misconceptions of gods, goddesses. And our prayer, Babuji said, “Prayer is begging.” Are we conscious of it? To whom are we praying, do we know? “Nahin, nahin, my kuladevta [No, no, my family deity].” Who is your kuladevta? Who is your kula [family, clan]? Do you know?
So you see, we must come to spiritual life hopefully with an awakened sense of longing to go where our original home is. Even before you leave Johannesburg or Lenasia or Durban or wherever, you have planned your return. Isn’t it? “I shall go there, and then stay there so many days, and then go to Calcutta, and then fly to Mumbai, fly to Delhi, fly Emirates direct to Dubai” — have you not planned?
The soul too plans; if unfortunately it has to be re-born again, it also plans that I shall be born in France, perhaps eat frogs’ legs for the first twenty years of my life, then learn to hate it. Eat blue cheese. Then I learn to despise that stink. I learn what my senses cannot attract must not be good for me, because the senses are given to me to distinguish what is good and what is bad. If it stinks it cannot be good to eat. When you pick mushrooms, you know red mushrooms are generally poisonous.
So you see, we are misusing our senses. So he decides to be born in France. He decides to be born somewhere else; you decide to be born somewhere else. The soul decides and says, “In this environment, I shall find the best opportunity of liberation in that life.” But once we are born here, what happens? Society, family, culture and our own desires — they make us swerve from the path that the soul has programmed for itself. And we are moving away from that programme day after day until the soul finds itself in a predicament that “I have to plan all over again. I have to make a new programme,” — and that is, re-birth. Re-birth is not God’s work. God does not want you here. Does any mother want her child far away from herself? “No, no, you go and stay in (I don’t know) Arizona, in the desert. Don’t come back.” No mother says this; how can God say it? God says, “You left. At the dawn of creation when your mind was created and separated itself from the divine first mind of God, the sense of ‘I’ came, the ego came, and you fell.” All traditions support this. ‘Fell’ means from that divine state into a lesser state of existence, into a lesser state, into a lesser state.
And He is waiting. He says, “Where are you, my children?” The call is there, and when we feel the call — as sometimes you are fortunate enough to do, like I assume most of you have felt it (you wouldn’t be here otherwise) — you respond. But we respond half-heartedly. We are not of that mettle where a boy of six or eight leaves home and goes away into the forest and says, “I shall not return until I have found Him” — people like Prahalada, Dhruva, in the Indian tradition. We have to, you know, like yo-yos go up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, perhaps (I hope not) eternally.
So, you see, it is all in us. As Babuji said, there is no such thing as destiny. There is no such thing as having been written. “So it is written” — it is not. I have written it, I must erase it. Unfortunately I cannot un-write it; I can erase. Cleaning by myself, cleaning with prefects, cleaning with the Master — erasure. Not to write again — correcting my life and my thoughts so that the book remains unwritten upon. You know that song in The Sound of Music: “You are fifteen, going on sixteen... you have a book which people are waiting to write upon.” That is Western culture. They want writings, and ‘written upon’ means only pages and pages of pleasure and sensory titillation, fulfilment, hoping against hope that prayer will help, baptism will help, church-going will help and the final prayer of the priest.
Babuji said “You have to do and gain. Nobody else can do it for you.” I asked him, “What about the Master?” He said, “Even Master cannot do anything for you unless you co-operate with him.” A train cannot take you anywhere unless you are in the train. You cannot wave goodbye to the Emirates flight that you have to take and say, “I am in Dubai.” They will think you are crazy. So how on earth can you allow somebody else to pray for you, and say, “No, no, my father has promised to pray for me, or my wife.” Poor wives, especially Indian wives; they are praying, if I may use the word, like hell for their husbands, for their families, and I have heard husbands saying, “You know, my wife is doing enough. She is always praying, poor thing.” Poor thing, huh! And I have often asked women, “Why do you pray for this husband? He is a dirty fellow, kicks you around, cheats on you.” Isn’t it? Karva chauth [ritual prayer for husband’s long life] — what for? That is because you don’t pray for yourself.
So, brothers and sisters, you have to pray in the way that Babuji has said, which is to sit, to meditate, and feel. Read and enjoy, do and feel and grow. So that is as far as what Sahaj Marg says about this life and our future away from this physical world with its troubles, with its pleasures and pains, with its youth and old age, with its frustrations, with its promises and disappointments; because when you are here in this world, it is a world of duality. You cannot have sunshine without shadow; you cannot have pleasure without pain; you cannot have youth without old age. And you cannot have life without death. Now what else do we need? We have to do. But when we are a society like this, Babuji says, “Brotherhood” — you are not alone in this world. If you were a single human being, you would not know what you are, where you are, why you are. You would not even know you are a human being because you have to know something by comparison.
So now you may have to know that I am this, I am that; mostly by comparison, sometimes by other means, talking, exchanging ideas. But he emphasised that we are one family, human beings are one family. I am not South African; I live in South Africa. We are born somewhere, live somewhere, we are going to die somewhere, we don’t know where; but throughout this passage through this world, we are essentially human beings. That fact of all of us being human beings must keep us together, must make us love each other, because I am what I am, he is what he is but there is no difference between me and him. At the base, we are the same — a pure, eternal soul imprisoned in this body. We have to help each other to grow, to liberate ourselves, and when the time comes for someone to send off someone else, do it with love and not with sorrow. Because if there is a death, God forbid, and you weep, Sahaj Marg says you are pulling that soul back. Liberate it; love it. Always love: love at birth, love throughout life, love at death. Love means sharing, caring, concern for the other; not selfishness, not acquisitiveness. Giving — love means giving.
Babuji said the great secret in this universe is that the more you give, the more you have to give. How it comes, we don’t know. My son once discovered this about fifteen years back when he was giving away things and he found people gifting him the same thing that he had given away and he had to give away, keep on giving. He asked me, “How long?” I said, “Go on. As long as you get, you give.” Life is like that. So love means giving, not keeping. One who gives, keeps on receiving more and more to give, not to keep. One who takes, gets less and less, which in economics you call the law of diminishing returns. The more you get, the less you enjoy it, the less pleasure it brings you. That is why one rasgulla is good. Second, perhaps tolerable. Third, “No, no, no, no. Please.” You understand?
So we have to love each other, help each other, learn to be compassionate, learn to be sympathetic, and the most important thing in this is, completely avoid criticism because there is no one so good or no one so bad, that there is nobody else like that. The better I am, the more I should look to those who are not so well endowed.
Babuji said, “As we rise in the spiritual path, we should look more and more towards human beings. The duty of the strong is to understand that God gave me strength to help the weak. The duty of the rich is to say God gave me this only to help the poor, not for myself. The duty of the wise is to give of their wisdom to those who need to know, who need to be taught.” Are we doing this? Or are we holding jealously to what we have, trying to build more and more out of a sense of insecurity which never leaves us? When I have a hundred rupees, I think two hundred is good, I’ll be safe. When I have two hundred, I need a thousand. You know, my need goes up in geometric proportions. And when I have a thousand, next step is twenty thousand. “No, no, sir. With this inflation and with this taxation, you don’t know how much we need.” All that we need is today’s lunch and dinner. One meal is enough. All that we need is in that famous book by Tolstoy, How Much Land Does a Man Need? I request you all to read those. How Much Land Does a Man Need? by Leo Tolstoy. I have told you so many times. How many of you have read it? You see?
I cannot say like Jesus, “Throw not pearls before swine,” because what I am giving you is not pearls, nor are you swine. If you are swine, I am also swine. But nevertheless I request you to do something about what you hear. Read this book, read the wisdom that is contained there. Like I said the day before yesterday about Dorian Gray — The Picture of Dorian Gray — read it; how we are unable to examine ourselves, know ourselves, and we need a photograph or something to show us what we have become. Unfortunately, photographs only show me what I was. But this beautiful painting of the young man in The Picture of Dorian Gray, shows him daily as he has become up to that time. Are we able to see it? Am I willing to see it? Do I dare to see it? Therefore, because I am unwilling and I do not dare, ever, I project my defects, everything that I am which I should not be, on to others and criticise them.
Every criticism is born out of an inability to face it in yourself, and you project it outside and say, “He is a liar, he is a sinner, he is a chor [thief],” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Unfortunately, never having been endowed with saintly qualities inside, we are unable to say, “He is a saint.” He says, “Saala, voh chor hoga. [He must be a thief.] He must be taking money. Ashrams! Why ashrams? Can we not sit under trees and meditate?” I have heard this from our own abhyasis who don’t want to give any donations. Old people in the old days, they talk immediately of Vedic age and Vedic knowledge and the Vedas and the Vedic dissemination. “They used to sit under trees, yaar. Why this Mission wants so much money to build ashrams? Why so many ashrams?”
Now do you understand? It is because you are unable to see what is in him, that you forget what is in yourself — stupidity, criminality, sinfulness, acquisitiveness, shame, guilt — and say, “He has grown a beard only to hide his face.” You understand? Criticism comes only from feelings of guilt, shame and everything else inside you projected on to another person, because you find that resonance you know, wherever it is, and you say, “He is a liar. Yesterday he told me he is forty-two; today he says he is forty-four.” What does it matter? You must pray, “God, he is a human being. Don’t worry about me; make him what you think he should be.” This should be the spirit in which prefects do their work — not I but him, my Lord, or her, my Lord. Prefects, are they willing to do this? Or are they still thinking of themselves that, “I am giving sitting, I am serving Babuji Maharaj, et cetera, et cetera. Therefore I will go.”? Where? “The brighter world. Babuji has said. No?” When? “What is the hurry, brother? I want to serve more people.” Hypocrisy! Lie! He wants to live.
One of our prefects, I remember, had a heart problem and he stopped giving sittings. When it was reported to Babuji, Babuji said, “What is better than to die in His service?” You know most of the world’s great medals are only given to the dead, what you call posthumous. Whether it is the Victoria Cross or what we call Param Vir Chakra for bravery. You don’t get medals when you are alive, because the ultimate sacrifice is the sacrifice of your life. Are you willing to give your life for this ideal that you think you are following, which you say you are following, which you perhaps also hope that you are following? Or are you lying to yourself? Prefects need to question themselves, and to say, “Well, but for the grace of God, I am there, I am there, I am there.” It is all right for [Lord] Krishna to say, “I am in every one of you.” But for us to say, “I am in each one of you”? You follow?
So today I have to emphasise these things because, South Africa especially, our Mission, has been very, shall I say, like a sleeping giant, like Kumbhakarna who wakes up once in six years or five years. It needs to wake up. I hope it will wake up. It will not wake up unless you wake up, because the Mission is nothing but its people. Like India is nothing but its people. When you say India is great, I say it is a lie because the people are cheats, humbug, thugs, liars, cheaters. So people who know, they weep; but people who want to fool themselves... It is like the bandarlog [the monkey folk] in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book — “We all say so, so it must be true.” The Frenchmen say frog legs are wonderful — bravo! The Japanese eat raw fish caught from a tank — wonderful! Somebody in Australia perhaps eats raw meat (beef) — superb! This is called culture; this is called taste; this is called refinement! I would rather be human, reject everything that smacks of differentiating me from everybody else, be in the midst of all, being helped and helping, so that not ‘I’ but ‘you’. That is our duty as human beings.
I read somewhere that the two words — ‘s’ and ‘n’ — ‘i’ between is sin; ‘u’ between is sun. So wherever ‘I’ am, wherever I do it because of myself or for myself, it is sin. Even if I meditate only for myself, it is sin. But if I put ‘u’ there, it becomes sun, jyoti [light], you know. So the less we are conscious of ‘I’, the more we become conscious of ‘you’. My pain goes when I look at your pain. My suffering goes when I look at your suffering. I learn to sympathise. I learn to pray for you in the only way it is possible. Which is what? “God, see them and do what you will with them.”