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Learn to Listen and Apply
Closing session, Scholarship Training Programme for India
24 April 2011, Chennai, India
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am happy to be here, especially to thank all of you for participating, and sister Dolly and brother Alberto for taking on the onerous duty of organising these training programmes almost four, five times a year I think, now. (A: Three times.) Three times. (A: Fourth time.) Fourth time! And they have left their countries, more or less, taken India as their adopted home and the interests of our abhyasis as something holy to be nurtured – not instructed – nurtured, and told what are the good things of life, what is the only good thing of life as you go on and why we should, after entering Sahaj Marg, not lose the way.
I have heard most of the talks on the CC [closed circuit] TV in my office because I can't sit for long here, and I don't want to disturb you. In many ways my presence disturbs, because it makes timid people worry, guilty people angry, frustrated people suspicious, and in so many ways the reactions are different. I once read a Chinese proverb which speaks of the ‘presence of the absence'. It was very revealing – how you must be absent physically, but present spiritually. When you are present physically, "Well, he is there. So what?" But if you are absent and your spiritual presence is there, as many people say that they always feel the presence of Babuji Maharaj (I don't know in what way they feel it, but they do say so), then it is something very extraordinary, very potent with possibilities for us, because in our hearts perhaps there is the knowledge that the physical presence is only a physical presence. As Babuji used to say, "Cows are there, crows are there, dogs are there. They are all physically present. What is so wonderful about a human being present?"
The presence of the human being must signify at least to himself or herself that I am here for a purpose. My purpose is not merely to be here. I have to be here with all my faculties intact within me. I must not be here thinking of home, or of so many other things, and saying, "Well, I have been here nine days. What for? I have heard talks. What for?" Am I going to act upon what I have heard? Is it just going in one ear and out the other? Or, in some mysterious way – if my presence is an integrated presence of my body, mind and soul – it should be stored here and released as and when necessary.
In medicine you have these things – if you are a severe diabetic they put something which keeps on pumping insulin into you. But for spirituality it has to come from here [the heart]. So are you here just to listen, to participate, to have had, perhaps in the mind of some of you, a holiday of sorts? Or was there a serious purpose behind it? Have you heard? Have you listened? Or, like that famous statement, "Ye have ears, but ye hear not".
I am somewhat sceptical of what we mean, how much we mean to ourselves, because if I don't mean something to myself, I am not going to take cognisance of anything you tell me here. I will say, "Theek hai [It's okay], I know everything." "Then why did you come here?" "Because the programme is there. I just came to see if there is anything new." Well, even if you have listened with only that intention you would have learned something because there is bound to have been something new somewhere. But if you just come and go with a smile on your face, "Yes, yes, wonderful!" I know from Babuji's life, my life with him, after a sitting when Babuji would say, "How did you feel?" that was the answer of most because they dare not say something untruthful with their mouth, with speech. Those who dared to speak will say, "Wonderful, Babuji!"
I have perhaps told you this, but once he gave us a sitting when I was pretty new in the Mission – nine or ten of us in Shahjahanpur. He made us sit for one hour. And very senior what we call in Tamilnadu, jambavaans (that means very, very potent presences as abhyasis) Babuji asked them and they were all giving praise. So many experiences came out, and I was ashamed because I had felt nothing. So I did not say anything. Later on when we were alone in his room, he said, "But, Parthasarathi, you did not say anything today how the sitting was." I said, "Babuji, I was ashamed because I felt nothing." There was, for a moment, the temptation to tell a lie and say I saw God, I saw Indra, I saw Chandra; but I said, "I felt nothing." He got up, patted me on my shoulders, and said, "Shabaash! [Well done!]" That means, "Waah! Waah, Waah!" in Hindi. I said, "Why are you saying shabaash when I felt nothing?" He said, "You know, today I did not transmit at all!"
So we should never tell lies. "Did you listen to this lecture?" "No, no, Sir, I was sleepy. I was at the back. Also I don't understand English much very well." Okay. So we have to learn to be true, because without the truth you don't know the reality. Suppose I had said, "I did this and I saw that; Garuda flying and you are Vishnu on it," Babuji would have probably pitied me and said, "Here is one more from South India – a qualified liar." So we have to be true, because without the truth you cannot learn anything. If every time you are asked, "Have you understood?" and you say, "Yes, yes," nobody is going to explain to you.
You must learn to discriminate what you are listening to; its relevance to your spiritual progress; its worth in applying it to your own life, in your sadhana. Are you doing it? If you look and if you listen carefully to all these talks – I am not referring to this particular series, but to all the talks that you will listen to – I find, generally, they are classifiable. People who speak without knowing anything, they come, they make a brave effort, they tie themselves up in knots, as we say, and they are happy when you clap. Because like the famous statement of our Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, when he was questioned about all the scams and all these scandals that have been going on – I think he was compelled to say, to retain his position, "When we are elected, it means all that has been forgiven."
So we take a clap as approbation of what we have said, as if it had some merit that you all appreciate it; whereas, it is a mere politeness, a mere matter of courtesy. Because often if you have not heard anything, have been sleeping perchance, or have not understood, you like to clap to show that you have heard something. So you see, this clap is a very big sign of hypocrisy on both sides. It is as if the grass is greener on the other side of the river. You are happy; he is happy; oh, we are all happy. You understand?
Now you cannot discriminate unless you have heard. So you must listen carefully, have the patience to hear it out in a concentrated way, listen to it carefully, look at his body language, hear it through here [the ears] and evaluate it here [the heart]. There are some who know and speak because they have the knowledge to speak. There are very few who speak from experience. The only speeches that are valuable, truly speaking, are those which come out of the speaker's experience. If a man is able to say, "I have meditated. I have cleaned myself according to the prescription. I do the night prayer. I have done this and this and this and this. I see in myself. I see in myself that my people appreciate me more and more, that I get on better with people around me. I have developed more patience, more tolerance. People say I am more cheerful than before. I don't carry a frown on my face." Whereas the man of knowledge, he speaks – he may speak very profound truths, but they are from books.
So unless we are able to discriminate, we will not be able to follow the right, because bookish knowledge I can get out of books; I don't have to listen to somebody here. So, look for these things.
And the third one is, one who has neither bookish knowledge nor experience. They sort of flounder through and heave a sigh of relief when they are finished, and perhaps are very glad when there are no questions, because a question will test how well you know the subject.
So these are all by the way for future guidance of your organisers, of people who are going to participate. But most important of all is, when you go home will you apply all the knowledge you have gained here, what precepts you have got from your prefects, from your speakers? Are you wanting to see whether you are, as Krishna said, in the twelfth standard or not? And if you are, how are you going to face it? Because being in the twelfth standard is a very wonderful thing, until you get there and you find your heart, pit-pit-pit, because the board exam is coming!
Only yesterday I received a message from Babuji Maharaj addressed to his daughter as he calls her. "The time for your evaluation is near," he says. So don't forget that we will all be evaluated. And, as it is said in the Bible, are we going to be found wanting? or are we going to be found wanted? He says, "Come."
So these things are not mere exercises in training or lecturing or listening. They are meant to reinforce your will power so that you can enforce your own will in yourself to make your sadhana more regular – longer, as you go along, so that you do meditate for one hour; obeying the precepts in the same place, at the same time, every morning; that your ability to do the cleaning is really with your will power pushing everything out at the back, not just sitting and thinking Babuji is cleaning me; and the prayer with your heart. Otherwise, as it is said in some English poem which I saw in my school long ago, seventy years, eighty years ago:
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
So I hope all of you have listened carefully to all that has transpired here these days, that you have come with the intention of utilising what you have done here, what you have heard here, to push you through that door of the dreaded twelfth board examination into what has been called liberation. After that we will see what happens.
So I pray for you all. May you all prosper, may you all grow, and may you all reach your destination in this very life.