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Talk given by Shri P. Rajagopalachari
I would like to tell you what I felt when I was a new abhyasi. I did not know what is an abhyasi. Did you know when you went to school, what is a student? You learnt little by little. Because, when we go to school some are afraid, some are happy, some are afraid of leaving the house, and so on, you know. Each one has their own approach to school. But after some time, we understand what a school is, and vis-à-vis the school, what my position is as a student. Like that, you know, here also it is a process of socialization. We have to learn what we have to learn, first. I'm not playing with words. Je n'ai pas joué avec les mots mais vous avez compris I must know what I have to learn first before I can learn it. Même problème avec les abhyasis. [Same problem with abhyasis.] Son vie, sa vie? [Their life.]
OK, jokes apart, when we are introduced to swimming, for example, we have this fear of being in one element and going into another element-from land to water. So there is fear. So some coaches advise, "Jump in," and they add very encouragingly, "Sink or swim" (laughs). It is not very encouraging, but it is true. There are other coaches who say, "Lie down on the land, face down, and move your hands and feet as if you are swimming." And however effectively you may do it, you'll never learn to swim, because you are doing it in the wrong place (laughs), isn't it?
So the right thing at the right place at the right time. And this is a very vital combination of time, place and activity. You know for example, you are going on one of these underground roads and exactly at the same time a plane is crossing above you on top. Same place, same time, but in the third dimension you are separated-no accident. If all the three dimensions are at the same time, crash. So what to do, where to do, when to do-this is discipline.
We are always frightened of the word discipline, and we are very happy with the word freedom. I come from India, which to most of you is a very ill-disciplined place. I mean if you see a movie of the cars moving and the rickshaws moving and the pedestrians moving, apparently it is chaotic. And that is putting it mildly. Here everything seems to be disciplined-one behind the other. But people are fretting and fuming all the time. So should we have total discipline? Should we have total freedom? Or should it be a benign combination of the two? Benevolent combination?
To be free when you must be free, in a disciplined manner, respecting that other people are also to be free in the same space and in the same time-I think that is the ideal view or vision of life. We are all here in one big hall. Yet for some reason we are all crammed into a little 50 square metre area now, and I'm sure most of you find it very pleasant to do so. Otherwise, would we be crammed like this? Under different circumstances, it would be exceedingly unpleasant and perhaps unbearable. So what makes the difference between bearable and unbearable? When does fear become confidence? When does a young man who plunged into a swimming pool love to fall in from 30 metres and call it diving, do 2 ½ turns and show off? When? Ability, mastery.
So life is all about mastering your fear. Because you are still there, the water is still there. Originally you were timidly putting in your big toe and wiggling it in the water. Now you are jumping from 30 metres and loving it. So you see, it is self-mastery that allows you to master space, time and the elements, nothing else. Not the hand rails around the swimming pool, not the safety measures, not the things floating in the water to which you can hang if you are afraid of swimming, but your confidence in yourself arising out of having mastered the element. This is what we try to cultivate, create, in each abhyasi who comes here.
In Sanskrit, abhyas means to practice. If you are practicing swimming, you are an abhyasi of swimming. If you are practicing writing, you are an abhyasi of writing. Here we practice meditation, and by definition, we are therefore abhyasis of meditation-nothing esoteric, nothing wonderful. It is a description of what we are doing here. And when do we cease to be abhyasis? When we have mastered ourselves. We don't become Masters but we become masters, each one of himself or herself. That is the culmination of spiritual progress, the spiritual process. It can take time depending on what you do with yourself. If you come and play the fool and you know, and you are trying to play ping pong and you're watching a girl swimming in the next tank, you are not going to be a very good table tennis player, though you may be enjoying yourself. So you have to concentrate on what you are doing, give your whole heart and time to it, attention to it, and that shortens the duration of the process.
Therefore we request you to be disciplined, which only means, pay attention to what you have to do, and do it to the best of your ability. It does not mean that we try to restrict your freedom, or infringe on your freedom, or we destroy those great tenets of the French republic, one of which is Liberté. You are at liberty to do what you want with yourself. But when you come here, if you want to be involved in a process which will guarantee you mastery over yourself, it has only one disciplinary aspect-attend, pay attention.
So this is all that Sahaj Marg is about. We start timidly without knowing what we have to do. And if with that timid-ness you continue to do what you have to do, the fear goes, because slowly you are mastering the process. Having mastered the process, the journey is completed quickly, and when it is complete, you emerge as a master of yourself. C'est tout. [ That's all.]
Now you if you all would like a sitting, please sit comfortably, I will give you all a special sitting.
Abhyasi: Something special will be given?
Master: I don't know. It depends what is happening. Each meditation is a love story. The ardency with which we come to it, is it ever matched by the culmination? It depends on the participants. Moi et vous, non? [I and you, no?] And here, who is the I and who is the you? The closer the two come together, comme en amour, une affaire de coeur, comme ça [like in love, a love affair, like that], the closer we are, pas seulement physiquement, mais avec notre coeur aussi, non? [not only physically, but with our hearts too, isn't it?] (Applause)
Commencez s'il-vous-plait. [Please start.]