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Religion and Sahaj Marg
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
You have heard a good exposition of Christianity, but it is difficult to draw lessons from one religion or the other. I have gone through a lot of literature on what is called comparative religion, and all that you find is one big chapter on Christianity, one big chapter on Buddhism, one big chapter on Islam. You read them and then you are supposed to see what comparative religion is all about. Just like trying to draw a comparison between a horse, a mule, an elephant and a tiger: all that you can say is that they all have four legs, nothing more. They have four legs.
Human beings are described, with justice, as two-legged animals. Because we did begin as animals, if you see the origin of humanity from pre-human to human and hopefully to post-human, which we are trying to become. We do continue on two legs, though initially we had to use our hands too, like the Cro-Magnon man, Neanderthal man, things like that. Those are the lessons from archaeology. You study geology and you find some lessons there. And somebody says we evolved from the amoeba. The amoeba became something else, and then it became an amphibian and then it became a vertebrate and voilà, we have Homo sapiens. That is the story of evolution.
And then we have things like the story of Noah’s Ark, where he built a big ship and put two of each kind of things that were existing, to preserve them over the flood. Then after the flood they were presumably released to multiply and re-populate the earth. So you see there have been various myths. The Incas have their myths; the Mayans have their myths. So, a myth is nothing but an effort to tell a truth in a way that we can understand, like stories.
I find the children’s stories very fascinating. For me the tales for the babies, for children, they are utterly fascinating because they tell you the truth in a very simple way, with no meaning to God, no relevance to God, no saints—just a mirror for a queen whose arrogance had to be stopped. She thought she was the most beautiful and everyday she used to look at the mirror and say, “Who is the most beautiful?” and it said, “You.” And one day it said, “Snow White,” and her problems began; Snow White was persecuted. You know all these stories.
Then we have the story of an emperor in India who was wedded to the truth. His kingdom was enclosed by walls on all sides, and each one had a gate. And he said nobody who tells a lie must remain in my kingdom. So anybody who came, the guard asked, “Do you ever tell lies?” If he said, “Yes,” his head was taken off. And there was so much confusion, so much pain, so much suffering, but nobody knew what to do until a wise man from a neighbouring country came. He entered the gate and they said, “Do you tell lies?” He said, “Yes.” When they were about to cut his head, he said, “Stop! I told you the truth. When you asked me, ‘Do you tell a lie,’ I said ‘yes,’ and it is the truth. So how can you remove my head?” So step by step they went up to the emperor, and the emperor himself was confused what to do, so he repealed the law.
So you see, through such stories, through such so-called prophets, through such great souls—like the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, Muhammad Sahib of Islam, our own rishis of India, Confucius, Lao Tze in China, so many people you see—the significant thing is that there is a historical period in which they all seem to appear. Like you have daffodils in one season, mangoes in another season, oranges in another season. You don’t have oranges all round the year; of course, now you have cold storage, but they don’t grow like that. So spirituality also seems to have some sort of a cosmic season, when suddenly all over the world…. It’s very much like discoveries in science. Somebody discovers in Stockholm, somebody discovers in Japan, somebody discovers in Trivandrum the same truth, scientific truth. And the man who publishes first gets the Nobel Prize.
So you see, we believe in Sahaj Marg that there is a time which is ripe for spirituality. “Now,” Babuji said, “This is the time. If you miss this time, it may not occur for another ten thousand years.” This is a statement of my Master and, before him, his Master. So it is what in computer terminology or science you say, “There is a window open, and this window will remain open only for such and such a time. You have to take this opportunity.” Like when you launch a satellite. If you miss the window, you have to wait for the next window. Who knows when it will come? So whether we are at the right time, at the right place, with the right guru—that is the important thing. Reading about Christ, reading about Lao-Tze, reading about Mohammed the Prophet, may he be blessed, it has no meaning because any truth must be in the present. That my grandfather had halwa [sweet] and amrit (or elixir of life) is not relevant to me, who has to eat the rice and sambar.
So to talk of the past, Babuji Maharaj said, is irrelevant. To try to draw lessons from religions and their growth is irrelevant. How Moses led his people out of Egypt, we have seen in the movies. Is it relevant today? When the Jews were persecuted in Germany, who led them out? They were led into concentration camps and brutally murdered. Now the few Jews, of course there are a lot of Jews still in the world, they go and form a separate state. And now they are trying to balance that brutality of the Germans against the Jews by a different sort of brutality against Arabs. What is the lesson that we draw? That one who becomes supreme is a danger to existence, whether it is a German or a Jew or anybody else. If at that particular moment in the history of this world you are powerful, you are a danger. Twenty years back, Communism was a danger to us. That was the era of Josef Stalin and Khrushchev and all these people of the Communist regime in the so-called SSSR. But today we have a Bush, and how is he different from a Stalin and a Khrushchev? I don’t see any difference, except that he claims to be a capitalist and Josef Stalin was a communist. The result is the same for us.
So any ‘ism’ is useless to us. We want the rule of law, the rule of right, the rule of justice, the rule of love. Anything which promises these four, you may call it communism, nationalism, anything—it doesn’t matter; they are names. Capitalists call a communist a criminal. Communists call a capitalist a criminal. Here they say the people are looked after, well protected, in the communist empire. In the capitalist empire they say, “See, they have free wine and free this and free that and they can eat pizzas,” things like that you see. So here it is consumption.
There, in Soviet Russia, I have visited some centres. I have seen huge residential complexes, say seven or eight buildings around a central enclave, where they have a school, where they have a shopping complex below which is the boiler which supplies hot water to every single flat, free of cost. One thousand five hundred apartments in a building, seven buildings—that’s about ten thousand apartments. They have free gas; they have free hot water. Of course the rooms are small. You don’t get more than, I think, fifty square metres for the whole apartment. The beds are sofas pulled out at night. The kitchens are one metre by one and a half metres. But they lived. Food was cheap; everybody had a job. There were telephones, but nobody had a telephone directory. When I first went to Minsk, I asked for a telephone directory. He said, “What’s a telephone directory?” I said, “Where you can find the numbers of people.” “Doesn’t exist. Only Government has. You can know the numbers of your friends, that’s all. What have you to do with other numbers?” So that was communism.
What is capitalism doing today? You can have all the numbers in the world, but one out of every four calls is monitored by the CIA, and this is a fact. So there you are not allowed to speak. Here you are allowed to speak, but recorded, and certain words trigger off certain responses, and the CIA is at your door—knock, knock, knock. There it was the KGB; here it is the CIA. They were innocent; you are innocent. But the shoe that comes marching and knocking at your door is the same. The jail into which you are thrown is the same. The punishment is the same. The disappearance is the same. What should you have?
Capitalism is a dream that, as long as you are not in jail, you are supposedly free. But it is a fact that you can be seen from any one of their super planes; your conversation is monitored; through your credit card your history is known. They can track you where you are at any moment of your life. There was a story recently, some two or three years back, about a man who was killed (a murder was committed), and nobody knew what was happening until they pinned the man who had used his credit card to pay the toll charge at the toll. Millions, billions of transactions on cards a day. But with their super computer it was a matter of one or two days and they had him. He said he was not there, but this credit card proved that he had been there and he was caught.
There is no freedom in capitalism; there never was any freedom in communism. There is no freedom in human life. And what is the greatest imprisonment that we have? Not our governments, not our political systems, but we ourselves are our own prisoners. I am the prisoner of my samskaras. People say, you know, philosophers have said, “You are the prisoner of your destiny.” The Roman emperors had their Praetorian Guards, the communists had very powerful security. Indira Gandhi had tight security, but her security man killed her.
Who is safe? And safe from what? Assuming you are safe from killing, being killed, are you safe from your own dreams and nightmares at night? From the guilt that you feel for the things you have done? From the guilt you feel for things you have not done which you should have done? Are we, any of us here, guilt-free? We are tortured by our own inner self—my mind, its ramifications, its workings during waking and sleeping. And the ultimate, shall we say, recourse, is to become mad so that you are safely put away somewhere and you can now relax in your madness, still suffering.
Sahaj Marg says God has nothing to do with this. Religion has nothing to do with this. Because God has no religion, religion has no God—which is true. Because Islam says, “My God”; Christianity says, “My God”; Buddhism doesn’t say God at all; Hinduism has many gods. And even if you ask God, “Where is the true God?” He will say, “My son, I don’t understand your question. What is a true God? It is like telling me ‘Tell the true truth.’ Can you tell me a true truth?” Because today’s truth may be tomorrow’s lie.
You know there is a famous story in the Upanishads about a young boy who went to his guru, who wanted to be his disciple. The guru said, “I take only people of whom I know their history. Do you know your parentage—your gotra?” (which is some sort of historical fact about your birth). He said, “I don’t know but I will find out.” So he went to his mother. (He had no father.) His mother said, “My dear boy, I was a maidservant in a hotel, and I have served human beings, males, in so many ways that I don’t know who is your father.” He came back and reported it to the rishi. The rishi said, “You are a truthful boy. I accept you as my disciple.” Truth is what prevails. In Sanskrit we say satyameva jayate—truth alone prevails.
Another famous example is where the rishi tells his wife, “My dear, there is no human being on earth who can say with hundred percent truth who his father is.” Mother—yes. Father—don’t know. And yet we pride ourselves on our parentage, “I am of this clan; I am of that clan; my grandfather….” I mean, if I don’t know my father, how do I know my grandfather? You see? There are certain facts buried in the abyss of what we call the balance between lies and truth. I have a father. But even you cannot say who is your father with hundred percent certainty. We can only assume that God willing, that in a sane society, I have a father who was and is my father today. I cannot swear to it.
So you see, these are the great truths. And as I told you, if I say I am lying, it is the truth. “But everybody calls me a liar.” And if I say, “Sir, I never tell a lie,” I am the biggest liar in the world. Spirituality says there is no such thing as lie or truth; there is only Reality. Reality is neither true, nor a lie. As the Upanishad says again, “You cannot say of God whether He is or He is not.”
I know God in my experience. You know God only in the form of a cross, or in the form of a crescent with a star, or things like that. In my experience, I know my God. He is mine because I have sensed Him. My mother is my mother because she is my mother. My God is my God because He is my God. So there are not one or two Gods. Every individual has a God. And where is He? Right here [pointing to heart]. Because this is where we experience the truth, the God, compassion, love, because God is all these things. God is compassion; God is love; God is the truth. And I don’t need a religion to connect me with someone who is in my own heart.
In Sahaj Marg, this is achieved by meditation. We don’t go to church; we don’t go to temples; we don’t go to mosques; we don’t go to the Kaaba; we don’t go to synagogues. My temple is right here [pointing to heart]. The temple in which my Lord resides is my heart. And in that temple He is enshrined through eternity. He is the eternal companion. If I seek Him outside, I am lying to myself. I am denying the fact that He is here right in me. It is like a man who has a million dollars in his pocket and goes to a credit card company and says, “Give me a credit card.” The money is here [pointing to the heart].
So you see, all religions are superfluous. Let us forget the fact of their truth or lie, whether they exist or not, whether they are good or not. We are not concerned at all with anything. We are concerned with the fact that religions claim to connect you to God. But I don’t need a connection because [it is] right in me. If I have lost him, I need a connection. If I have lost my way, I go the police; if I have lost my property, I go to the police. But when I am at home, content with everything I have and I ring up the police and say, “I have not lost anything,” will you connect me? He will say, “This man is a fool or crazy,” you see. And if you repeat it a second time, he will come with the mental hospital people to take you.
Religion should be like that. They should say, “Don’t come here. Don’t you know that your God is in your heart? Don’t you know the kingdom of heaven is not of this world?”—as Christ said. Where is it? And we are looking for it in this world. We go on holidays, we have girlfriends, we have wonderful launches and yachts on which we enjoy and seek God in pleasure. We seek God in pain. You know, there have been systems where you beat yourself, lash yourself, sit on beds of fire, trying to find God. And God says, “What is this? Do you have to mutilate yourself to find Me? I created you whole and you are mutilating yourself. I created you with Me inside you to protect you from within, and you are looking for Me everywhere where I am not. Why this foolishness?”
So you see, this is the message of Sahaj Marg. We have nothing to do with religion. We are against no religion. There is no good or bad religion for me. Religion is an institution apart. I have passed through a kindergarten school; that is gone. I have passed through a middle school; that is gone. I have passed through a high school; it has done its job and now it is relegated to my memory. I have passed through college; that too is something in the past. Isn’t it? They are necessary for those who are yet to come to my level in education. Or in physical strength, if I need it, I have to go to what we call a gymnasium in India. But once I have achieved, that is in the past. So all these things are in the past.
To Sahaj Margis, religion is a thing of the past. We don’t talk about it; we don’t discuss it; we don’t compare its merits; we don’t examine it; we don’t say who is the liar and who is the truthful messiah. We have nothing to do with it. Moses led his people out of Egypt? Wonderful! What next? You want another Egypt? Another esclavage [slavery] and another Moses to lead them out? It would be silly to repeat history like that. The second coming of Christ is a myth, because you know people in misery always want God to come. If you are hungry, your God is one who will give you food. If you have no money, your God is one who will give you money. If you are sick, your God is one who will make you well. These are the gods of Hinduism. Not that we don’t know there is one God, you see.
When a child wants love, it goes to the mother. When it wants something else, it goes to its father. When it wants to play, it goes to its friends. Are these gods? To the child—yes, perhaps, because without them he is not happy. If his mother is dead, he is unhappy, miserable. If his father is dead, it is worse because economically it is now a very shaky condition. So Hinduism says, mother is God, father is God, guest is God, teacher is God. Four more than what you have known in your life. So Islam says Hinduism is stupid because they have so many gods, but there is only one God. Hinduism says Islam is stupid because we know there is only one God, but we need all these gods like I need my legs, I need my hands, I need my head. When I need my head, if it’s not there, what will I do?
You know that famous story in the Upanishads. These things are all quarrelling, “We are the most important.” The leg said, “If I do not carry this body, where will you get your food? I am the most important.” The hand said, “If I do not take the food and put it into the mouth, what will you do with the leg? I am the most important.” The eyes said, “If I do not see where the food is, the leg cannot take you there, and the hands cannot take it out. I am the most important.” Like this they were quarrelling, you know, and then the soul, it quietly withdrew. Then they knew who is the really important thing and they said, “Lord, come back.”
So that is the message of Sahaj Marg. He is in you. He has been there always in whichever form you were. Hinduism says, the Veda says, that God is in the heart of every created thing—whether it is an amoeba or a mosquito, or Stalin or Mussolini or Jesus or Bush or Ayatollah Khomeini—God is in every heart. Because He doesn’t decide that you are going to be cruel. He comes into your heart with the hope that “I am there inside; he cannot but be like Me.” But this [points to the head] forgets in its ego that he is not different from God, but makes himself different from God, makes himself brutal, makes himself miserable, acquisitive, grasping, wicked. And then you have all these people like Bush, Mussolini, Hitler. I know Americans would not like my grouping Bush with Mussolini or Hitler, but that is where he deserves to be placed. As men they are all human beings; their tendencies are different.
From an airport, one airplane takes off west; another goes south; a third goes east. Which one is a good plane? Which one is a bad plane? For a man who wants to go west if he is on an eastbound plane, it is bad. The plane is not bad. His choicewas bad. He got into the wrong plane. So these people have got into the wrong way of thinking, wrong way of living, wrong way of acquiring. They did not do honest work and earn what they had. One of the parables—all of the people that a man employed—ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, three o’clock, five o’clock—he paid all of them the same price [for] labour. At the end of the day they were all annoyed. He said, “I made a contract with you. My contract with the eleven o’clock man, I pay. My contract with you, the five o’clock lady, I pay. What is your objection?”
So with God we have what is called a contract, which my brother said is a covenant in Judaism. The covenant is an agreement between me and my inner soul that I shall be guided by the morality and the ethics that you dictate from inside, which we call the voice of the conscience. We all have a conscience. Even children have a conscience. When a child of three drops a glass and breaks it, it starts weeping. It avoids its father and goes slinking like a dog along the wall to the mother. “Mama!” And Mama says, “Darling, don’t bother.” And Father says, “You know I paid seven dollars for that glass; it’s crystal.” And Mother says, “Glass, my dear, after all. Don’t blame the child. It is ignorant. It does not know value. What is one glass and another glass? It is the same. It is you who puts value on this crystal. You are silly.” This was exemplified by Jesus when, from the cross, he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” They are doing it in ignorance. If they knew the truth, they would not do it. Isn’t it?
So our business is to teach the truth through meditation: you meditate; you do the cleaning. You remove all the moss from the trunk of the tree, or the green things on the water surface, clean it; or the dust from a mirror, classic example. You remove the dust and the mirror reflects. You don’t change the mirror. So cleaning removes the dust of, the accumulation of, I don’t know how many aeons of living we have done. You look in and you perceive the truth. Having perceived the truth, you cannot live by a lie again. That is how transformation comes.
Saints are not created by God. Saints create themselves, through this process. You may call it asceticism, you may call it askesis, you may call it anything. But it is a process of voluntarily subjecting yourself to a regimen of discipline in which you go in a sinner, and at the other end of the tunnel, out comes a saint. So I hope all of you will follow this practice of Sahaj Marg assiduously, knowing what it can do, feeling what it is doing to you all the time that you are meditating, and believing that the outcome will be exactly what I said.