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The Art of Listening to Nature
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
Dear brothers and sisters, Happy New Year to all of you. My Master used to say that a spiritual guide need not speak at all. As you know, Babuji Maharaj spoke very little. He said, "If and when a guide has to speak, it should be only to teach us about what we have to do, how to do it, when to do it, where to do it, and of course, why to do it." There is no room for philosophy in speeches of Sahaj Marg. In fact, Sahaj Marg has no philosophy. It does not rest on any philosophy. It is neither advaita nor dvaita nor vishishta advaita. You know all these things. Yet we have to speak because we are expected to speak.
Babuji used to say something else much more relevant you see, that Nature speaks. He used to stoop down and lift a small flower and say, "This speaks." He used to say, "If you look up at the sky or the stars, they speak to you." But do we know what they are speaking? Do we listen to them? Or are we just treating them as flowers and mud and water and air? We have lost the art of listening. Today's world is full of talk, talk, talk. Every time I see this AirTel advertisement, "Talk More!" [Chuckles] Indians don't need to be told to talk more. We talk too much, and because we are always talking, we never listen; because we never listen, we don't know what Nature is saying to us.
Babuji said, "Nature is silent when it has no burdens to bear." You know, like a child sleeps silently when it has no pain, no hunger, no thirst. It screams when it is in pain - the mother knows. It cries when it is hungry - the mother knows. It laughs when it is happy. We have seen all this; we have seen babies growing around us. Babuji said, "When Nature speaks, when do we listen? When the speech of Nature, when its messages, when its signals, appear to us violent." Babuji said, "Nature is never violent. When you eat too much and you have indigestion, the inner lack of balance manifests itself in the need to go to the toilet or to vomit - and that is not gentle; it is violent. Depending on the extent of your indulgence, it controls the violence of the reaction. This is individual.
When we take in too many impressions, we have dreams. They may be what we call good dreams, happy dreams, or nightmares. It all depends on the impressions that we take in. If you don't take in impressions, there are no dreams. And when we burden the earth with our grossness, and it goes on accumulating, Nature wants to throw away all this grossness; and you have manifestations like earthquakes, the tsunami that we had a few days ago, wars, pestilence, large-scale illness. We should not unfairly accuse presidents of different countries for wars that they fight. Of course the president thinks he is the cause of the war; he took a wonderful decision. If he wins, the people praise him. The losing nation blames him. But he is no more responsible than you are responsible for your dreams. He is also a manifestation of the grossness under which the earth is groaning. And because the burden is so much, it breaks out violently. Whether it is Iraq or Yugoslavia or Korea, or in the future it may be any other country, it is our thoughts, our actions, the grossness of the human being that produces these reactions.
Nature is not angry. Somebody today said, "I want to appease Nature." Nature is not angry, you see. When you suddenly wake up out of a nightmare and scream, you are not responsible. It has to happen, you see. What is inside has to go out. So as long as we continue to burden this world of ours, this planet with our grossness, we must expect more and more of these violent outbreaks in terms of human reaction, which can be wars; causes can be any - a cause can be sharing of water, it can be religion, it can be a belligerence across the border; it can be anything. We don't need many excuses to fight. So let us remember that it depends on us; we create the world in which we live.
This has been spoken of for thousands of years, in occult literature, in esoteric literature, in religions too. Our Master also says the same thing but we don't listen. We just say, "Yes yes, wonderful! I did my cleaning this evening." And tomorrow we are merrily at it, accumulating more samskaras. We forget that what we ate yesterday has disagreed with us, and continue to eat it today also. "No, today it will not disagree, because today it is properly made." So you see, we are always seeking justification for our actions, knowing very well that our actions are not justifiable. It is human nature not to be able to accept blame, criticism. We like praise, but we don't like criticism.
Now we are all here as spiritual aspirants. We are not just human beings going around accumulating grossness; we are spiritual human beings accumulating grossness, and in this case the grossness is even more tough, poisonous, bitter in its effects. Because, knowing we shouldn't do it, we do it. There is a law which says that one who knows and does not obey is more punishable than the one who is ignorant and does not obey. Spirituality looks for its success on very few principles. Love of course is the paramount one. If there is love you don't need anything else. If not, you need tolerance, you need faith, you need courage, and you must not have prejudices. Courage can come only where there is faith. If I have to live in a world today full of pestilence and wars and tsunamis, I must have courage. And courage is based on what? On the faith that He is with me. But this faith is not enough. If you think, "He is with me; therefore I will not be washed off in the waters of the ocean," that is not faith. If you think, "My house will not collapse because Babuji is with me," that is not faith; that is wishful thinking.
Faith says, "Whatever may happen to me, He is with me; and when He is with me, it can only be for my good." Now how many of you are willing to think like that, or accept the truth of such a faith? We don't want such a faith. So we turn away from spirituality, go back to our temple, thinking the god in the temple is more powerful and he will protect me. But even temples are washed away. You know, Dwaraka is gone. It was the abode of Lord Krishna, created by the celestial architect, Vishwakarma. Where is Dwaraka?
So we have to have faith which means, whatever may happen to me, if my Master is with me, it is for my good - even death is for my good. Imagine a life where there is no death. Suppose I am to live a thousand years, what will happen? One young European wanted to live long.
I said, "How long?"
He said, "Oh, very long."
I said, "I prefer to die soon."
He said, "It is foolish, Chari."
I said "No."
He said, "Oh, come on, you Indians! You are all pessimistic. Explain to me."
I said, "Okay. See, suppose you live to two hundred years, what will happen? Of course your father would have been dead more than a hundred years earlier. Your wife would have been dead, your children would have been dead, your grandchildren would have been dead; you will see your great-grandchildren dying. And when you are three hundred, seven generations of children have gone. When you are six hundred, what then?"
He said, "O my God, I didn't know it was that bad."
I said, "You didn't think it was that bad because you didn't think."
Long life can be a curse. Death is a great relief. Death is not that wonderful old man on the buffalo, you see, Yama Dharma. He comes to say, "Enough! Come with me." Like a mother goes to school to bring her child out; of course the child wants to continue to play. It says, "School is over, now I want to play." Mummy says, "No darling, you must come home." Yama is like that. And of course in spirituality there is no Yama. When we die, Master Himself comes to take us. And when you say, "Master is with me. I feel His presence all the time," and when He comes, why are you afraid? "No, no sir, He doesn't come to take me to Shahjahanpur. I don't know where He will take me." Then where have you been wanting to go in spirituality? So you have to think you see. "No sir, I have faith in the Master, but you know, I have suffered a loss. I don't know how to continue to have faith."
So faith does not mean we will be successful in life; faith does not mean that we will not be sick. It does not mean anything. It only means - I have faith. I have faith in Him who is my beloved, my Master. He can do nothing which is bad for me, though it may appear to me bad. So, that faith can only give us courage. And of course the most important thing that we must not have is prejudice. What is this prejudice? That somebody is white, somebody is black; somebody is Hindu, somebody is Muslim; somebody is tall, somebody is short, rich and poor; trying to marry only in your own caste: Khamma marrying Khamma, Naidu marrying Naidu, Brahmin marrying Brahmin - not even Brahmin marrying Brahmin - it must be my particular way of Brahmin! Vadama marrying Vadama, Iyengar marrying Iyengar. There also, you know, Y or U [points to the forehead, caste marks] makes a big difference. This has ruined our country where today, instead of one country, I daresay we have as many Indias as there are individuals. Now how can we be a united people when we are divided by so many prejudices? Babuji said, religion divides, caste divides, colour divides, opinion divides. You know, two people can have differing opinions, and suddenly one man becomes angry, and there is murder - just because of a difference of opinion!
So if you want a happy new year - of course I wish it for all of you - but you have to create that new year for yourself, and every day of the new year, and every day of the succeeding years, because we are not happy with the first of January alone. 'Happy New Year' is only a condensed term for happy 2005, 2006, 2007 - telescope, you know, as far as I can see. If I have to wake up tomorrow morning happy, I must have slept happy. I must have had no enemies when I go to sleep. I must not have overburdened my stomach or my conscience - then I will wake up happy. If I wake up happy, I can make other people happy.
So you see, happiness doesn't result from the change of a calendar, or the change of the position of the moon and the sun. It depends on every one of us what we are going to have tomorrow, and for ever after. So Sahaj Marg is very simple, but it is not practised properly, it is not understood, people don't talk about it, they bring their prejudices here. They come and meditate - they are abhyasis in this hall; when they go back, they are again north Indians and south Indians, Andhravadus and Karnatakas, Khammas and Naidus and Iyengars, Maharashtrians, what have you.
So brothers and sisters, everything depends on you - not only your tomorrow, not only your next year; the state of the world depends on you. Whether there is going to be fresh earthquakes depends on you. Whether there are going to be calamitous wars depend upon you. Everything depends on you. So in trying to create spirituality within ourselves and to work towards the goal with unremitting effort, with faith and courage - if we do it properly we are also contributing to the welfare of our planet, to the welfare of the world, to the welfare of the universe. Anything you do against this is not only against yourself, but against the rest of the world. We must not imagine that we are living for ourselves.
Anything you do, good or bad, reflects on the entire universe. In this consciousness if you continue to work, and strive in your spiritual life, the world will automatically become a better place. We don't have to wait for another Ram Rajya, you know. There is no Ram Rajya. There never was a Ram Rajya. In the time of Rama, there was no peace; his life was a disaster. Everybody knows it. He lost his wife, he committed suicide going into the Sarayu and of his descendants there is no mention. But we still say Ram Rajya, Ram Rajya - I don't know what for. If it is not here today, it doesn't matter whether it was in the past, or whether it will be in the future.
Past and future have no meaning for us. We are here and now. If you want it here and now, you must act here and now. To act here and now, you must throw off all prejudices now and this instant in time, have faith and courage, and go ahead. I pray for all of you.