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Simplify Your Life
A Message given by Rev. Master at U.S. General Body Meeting, Tiruppur, India on 22nd July, 2009
May I say to all of you in all sincerity that I hate to have to welcome you again and again because I would like you all to be here permanently with me. That can be taken in two senses: the mundane physical sense; and in the sense that I really wish to impress upon you — the spiritual sense. Bodies can part, but souls should not part. Babuji once said to somebody who wanted to touch his feet, he said, “If you want to touch my feet, you should do it only once. And that first time you bend, your soul remains there, only your body get's up and moves on.”
We have had enough spoken about, enough information dissemination, publications, DVDs, all this sort of thing you know. But going back to this phrase, ‘You have eyes but you see not,’ I would add: ‘You read, perhaps, but understand not. You understand, perhaps, but you assimilate not. You assimilate, perhaps, but practice it not.’ I don’t find enough emphasis given on the spiritual purposes of the Mission, and the soul’s purpose, which is the spiritual purpose of an abhyasi when he or she enrolls to start this practice. And this is a general comment applicable all over the world, more importantly here in India.
We hesitate to tell the new abhyasi, prospective abhyasi, what is expected of him or her. I don’t see this being done. Because in the last two, three years I have had drop-outs practically from everywhere in the world coming back, implying, if not specifically alleging, that had they been told what was expected of them when they started, they would not have left. In effect, we don’t give a foundation to the house that we are trying to build. Again from the Bible, “Build not thy house on a foundation of sand.” Because unless you tell them in the beginning, and later pop up the Ten Maxims and meditation times and retreats and what not, they feel cheated. They say, “Why didn’t you tell me all this first?” Precondition: Are you willing to do this? If not, stay away. I would say it unhesitatingly: stay away.
Only three days back I received a letter from a lady abhyasi who a year ago visited Manapakkam, stayed a month, and quit — quit the Mission. She said that the atmosphere was too heavy. So that made me, you know, sort of look up at the sky just to clear my head. Then she elaborated and said there was too much discipline, too much ‘do this,’ too much ‘don’t do that.’ Of course, predictably it was a Westerner. Indians accept, but don’t perform. At least from inside they have no resistance, you see. But the others start off by rejecting everything that has to do with discipline. There is this utter lack of sensitivity to discipline, total lack of understanding of what discipline means, and the gross misunderstanding that discipline is anti-individual freedom. Anti-individual freedom, to put it in American. This should be elaborated upon. This should be explained.
We should tell prospective abhyasis very insistently, if necessary even in writing, this is what discipline is for; this is what it will do to you if you accept it and practice it and regulate your life according to what it requires. But we don’t, you know; and I have this unfortunate feeling that we lose abhyasis after a few months, after a few years, even after twenty years, because it suddenly dawns on them that they were created free, and Sahaj Marg is interfering with that freedom.
So this is something that all of you should correct, give more thought, you know, bestow more thought upon it. Talk about it, not only to fresh ones but periodically to existing abhyasis in your, whatever you call it, get-togethers, meetings, instead of just using every seminar as a hail-fellow-well-met opportunity.
There is too much of, shall we say, pampering in this Mission. I remember Babuji’s comment — I wanted to propose a bus, that the Mission should buy one and bring abhyasis from the station in Shahjahanpur to the ashram. Babuji said, “It’s a very good idea and it shows your concern for abhyasis, but I don’t want too much comfort.” Why on earth can we not walk six kilometers from Shahjahanpur railway station to our ashram in Shahjahanpur, when you are prepared to go into jungles, sleep in tents where only your head is in-side the tent, wash in a cupful of water? Why on earth, you know, if that is a holiday which is acceptable? Why go on white-water expeditions, endangering your life? No discipline, no comfort, you are prepared to be wet twenty-four hours of the day, perhaps longer. Why do you go moose hunting and bear hunting in the wilds of Canada and where else, I don’t know?
You have — you know, this white culture, this Occidental culture, gives you this as a sort of escape. I hope you would realize this. Take my comments seriously. These are escapes from a life of what the French would call ennui (boredom), too much money, too much comfort, too much good food. And you suddenly need to burst out of these un-disciplinary bondages into which you have stifled yourself, pummeled your life into, and break free. That is freedom.
Every time you want to do bungee jumping and risk your life, every time you want to go into the wilds, you are only manifesting the inner urge of the soul for a true freedom as opposed to this spurious, stupid freedom that civilization has given you all: hot water in the bathroom; seven-inch, eight-inch, twelve-inch mattresses; air conditioned comfort. And if you don’t mind a little (I won’t say it’s obscene because it’s an everyday requirement) perfumed multi-ply toilet paper. In a civilization where your bathrooms or restrooms as you call them euphemistically, are more important than your drawing rooms.
I mean, what are we to think of such a civilization, such a modernization, such a com-fort-seeking environment where the bottom end of your alimentary system is more important than the top end? You put in filth through the top end, and worship at the other end. I mean, this is my comment. I mean, I don’t pull punches, as William Way-cott at least should know, having given him my address long ago when he tried to twist my tail about the first pair of jeans I ever wore. [Laughter]
I want you all to think carefully on what I am saying, instead of just saying, “Aw, this brown-skinned Indian who has never had a day’s comfort in his life!” I find peace, I find comfort, I find luxury, and I find everything— within myself. You don’t find it at all because the more you have, the more you need. I have seen abhyasis in the U.S. on my numerous visits, you know, tucking cushions under their bottoms, one under this thigh, one under this thigh, then one from behind and still wiggling around until they find the right position, like a dog which circles around before it finds a comfortable place to sleep in. Have you watched a dog, those of you who keep dogs? I mean, what is this, you know, that you find bugs everywhere, you find dirt everywhere except in McDonald’s (and I don’t know where else), where you assume that because there are laws of the nation applicable to food processing in public places, ergo they are cleaner than anything you get in the East?
I have made a suggestion that you should all, all, every single one of you — don’t think you are already at the bottom end, there’s nothing more to give up. No! Every one of you should reduce your level of comfort. If you have a twelve-inch mattress, throw it away and buy a six-inch mat-tress. If you are used to bathing in a hot shower, reduce the temperature, bring it as near to the cold as you can. Tolerate. Toughen yourself. Make your body something that Nature gave you to be proud of, and not something that cosmetics and proper alimentation and sanitation make you proud of. I owe my body to what Nature gave me, not to what civilization gave me. Civilization has beaten me, progressively, day after day, month after month, year after year. And thanks to whatever Western influence I have permitted myself to be affected by, it has taken me some years of absence from the U.S. to recover my sanity, my centre, and to be now what I was, what I must be, what I will always be — a human being as Nature made me.
I hope you understand what I am saying. It is absolutely essential to the spiritual life — not to sit on a bed of nails and stand under the noon-day sun for forty-four hours, or to go without food; it’s not at all necessary. It is, as Babuji said, “Be in tune with Nature.” You cannot be in tune with Nature if you take a week’s holiday up in the Adirondacks. That is only escape from the reality which you think is real, to the wildness which is the reality of life. Please be sure of this. Please try to accept without thinking that every time you go for, let us say, a swim in the ocean, you escape; you escape from that three-foot by three-foot shower stall so common in your country. Fitted — everything fitted. Multi-showers. I have been in showers in Europe where you have three from the top and from the sides, and it is supposed to massage. We don’t want to use our muscles but we want to use the water shower for massage! Where you are expected to use five liters, you use two hundred and fifty liters and come out feeling emasculated, enervated.
I try not to be harsh and I hope I am not harsh. And if I am harsh I can only take refuge under the truth that truth is always harsh. Truth is always unwelcome. And truth is untruth because we try to sugar-coat it and present it in acceptable form. It’s not my intention to sully the truth, to nullify the truth by making it appear as if it is not the truth, and making you practice it. In biblical terms, I would say brothers and sisters, I don’t know how you feel but my days are numbered. And in keeping with the old tradition that I shall pass this way but once, anything worth saying that I have to say, any kindness that I have which I can show, any good that I can do, let me do it now, for until our souls are here together we may not meet again. I am not dramatizing; I am only trying to pour the seriousness in my heart into your endeavors which are expensive, which cost you so much to come here, which cost you so much trouble.
I know you suffer more than I suffer when I am in the West. For me it is a question of how to sleep on a mattress into which I sink and where, when I want to turn, I feel I am like one of these whales trying to turn in the ocean. Whereas your problem is how to adjust your bones on these floors that we provide for you here, marble or other-wise. Your suffering is more, I assure you, when you come here than my suffering when I go to your countries. I don’t want you to suffer. Get used to it. You who make such wonderful things for, what do you call it, camp life and forestry and… I admire those belts, you know, which William Waycott type people who remain slim after seventy-five years of existence — those belts from which dangle so many beautiful, enticing tools. I don’t know if they are ever used! But I am... you know, I am always a bit sensitive about the fact that the middle bulge that I have will not permit such a belt, much less with so many instruments hanging around it! I would love to display it. To what purpose?
When I hear of people who have twenty-seven credit cards, on all of which they are overdrawn, and they use one to pay off the other, I shudder to think what sort of freedom has your freedom put you into. Are you free to spend money when you borrow from one bank to pay off another bank, and then pay off from this bank to pay off that? I remember my boss, you know, way back thirty, forty years back, he told the story of a man who borrowed on a Saturday from a good friend, saying, “I’ll repay you next week.” So that fellow gave to him, and he paid the fellow who he had to pay money to. Next week he had to pay his good friend so he went back to this fellow and said, “You know, I just paid off your loan but can you give it to me for another week?” And he paid this fellow. This went on for about twenty weeks, and then realization dawned on him. He realized, “Where do I come into this? I will tell them, ‘You pay him one Saturday, he pays him the next Saturday.’ Very simple.”
So this is what is happening. Real freedom comes when you have and don’t spend. Real freedom comes when you have all the facilities of modern life and you sleep on the floor or a futon. How much does a futon cost in the USA? I don’t know. Hundred dollars? Eighty dollars? I suggest all of you buy one, put it next to your wonderful king-size beds, queen-size beds, four posters, what have you, and sleep on that one day a week, one night a week, make it two nights a week. Soon you will sell your bed, earn some money, and you will pull yourself out of your debt. I’m not joking. You can laugh but it is not really a matter for laughing. Try it.
The only way to make money is to reduce your needs, to reduce your expenditure. If year after year I can reduce my expenditure from hundred to ninety to eighty dollars, why on earth do I need more money? Don’t I get more freedom when I am free of the shackles and bondages of my employment, my employers, and the law? Earn more, pay more taxes, have auditors, lawyers.
Simplify your life. Be simple and in tune with Nature. I urge you to, if you like, ask me questions later. Not today, but after you have sort of criticized me, chastised me, called me names in your minds. And then you come to some sort of a realization that after all that old Indian, what he said does mean something to me. Let me go and get it clarified.