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The Duty to Ourselves
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
[I would like to say a few words] about the 30th April celebration. I am not likely to be here for Sunday satsangh till the middle of June, 2005. That is a little more than two months from today. I hope we will all meet at Tiruppur, because, to my certain knowledge, this is going to be a very important celebration.
First of all, anything associated with the great Master is of great relevance to us, and it is relevance that matters, not importance. We confuse importance and relevance. Holi is important, but it is not relevant in South India. Christmas is important, but it is not relevant to non-Christians. We have learnt to associate with these holidays because it gives us a free day when we enjoy by doing nothing, over-eating and becoming sick. Sahaj Marg celebrations are relevant in a very spiritual, very intimate, very soul-fulfilling way. And as I said, and I repeat, the next celebration on the 30th of April, which combines the birth anniversary of my great Master Babuji Maharaj, with the Diamond Jubilee of the Mission, will be a very great, doubly important function.
Even in human terms, not everybody sees a diamond jubilee or a silver jubilee or a golden jubilee. You know, the great Soviet empire, mighty Soviet empire, awe-inspiring, which had the Americans shaking in their shoes, lasted a mere seventy years. Three score and ten years in terms of the Bible: a mere span of a human life.
So power, position, prestige-they have no meaning. Those of you who feel you have very important things to do here and think you are not able to attend the celebration, please understand that without you the world will move on. Your work can always be done by somebody else. We must have the humility to understand that were we not here, was Nature going to leave your position a vacuum? Not at all! There have been great emperors, there have been great conquerors, there have been great scientists, and there have been the great avatars-all here for a brief period of time, because however long they lived, it is but within infinity.
There is a story that Brahma the Great was washing his face, and just as he began, somebody came and said that Ravana was born on earth. He said, "Good!" Before he finished, another man came and said, "Ravana is dead." He said, "Alpaayush!" [One who has a short span of life.] And Ravana is supposed to have lived for thousands of years. So in the immensity of space, in the enormity and infinity of time, we should consider ourselves privileged to have the few years that we have at our disposal here in Sahaj Marg. Who knows how long? It means we have to snatch the time available to us to fulfil our own goal of spiritual evolution. And in this endeavour, in this noble endeavour, in this sole endeavour that meets the divine plan for us in which we are assured of divine assistance at every turn-it is our duty, solemn duty to ourselves to participate.
Always remember that tomorrow may not come for most of us. Who knows? You hear of a man taking a drive and he does not return home. You see a movie where the husband sees his wife off with his children to school, and they are all three dead in a car crash. We see all this happening all around us. And even in the great Yaksha Prashna of Yudhishthira, the most famous question was, "What is the most wonderful thing that you see?" and he said, "We see death all around us, but we think we are not going to die ourselves." That is a morbid way of looking at a reason for participating in the forthcoming celebration. The positive attitude is: it is a chance which I must snatch, and not parade under the ignorant egotism that without me the world will stop. You may be anything-you may be a professor, you may be the greatest cardiologist on earth, you may be the emperor-but if you cannot help yourself, nobody is going to help you. A cardiologist may need a cardiologist. An emperor needs all of us. Isn't it?
So please-I don't request you, because it is not my business to request you to help yourself. I try to awaken you to a sense of responsibility to yourself, understanding that if you don't help yourself, nobody is going to help you. And that is why we have this samsaaric cycle of births and rebirths and deaths-again and again. You know, we are in this world which we think is a world of enjoyment and pleasure. But in our literature it is called mrityu loka-the world of death-because, according to our ancient tradition, this is the only world in creation where the phenomenon of death exists. Here we are sent, souls are sent, as if they are sent to a penal settlement of the universe-for correction. We are in a penal settlement! It is like the old days when criminals were sent to the Andamans, which was the penal settlement for India; or, in the days of the British Empire, sent to Australia, which was the British penal settlement. And we think we are happy, we are enjoying-in the land of death, where we are sent for correction. How to get out of here so that we do not continue here as lifetime prisoners? By doing what has to be done, which alone can send you out of this place so that you can follow the old injunction of Lord Krishna that you will reach the domain from which there is no return-yad gatvaa na nivartante tad dhaama paramam mama.
So you see, it is not just a joyful celebration of a birthday. Why do we celebrate birthdays? Because we know that life is short, and every birthday is a revival of that life which is hanging by a silken thread which could be cut at any moment. Therefore, when a new birthday comes, we welcome it. When the next birthday comes, we welcome it with even greater ardour, as some sort of a security that we are going into the future secure-but that is a fantasy. Passing through one birthday does not mean you will have another birthday. Passing through today does not mean there will be a tomorrow. Passing through this year does not mean there will be a next year. Passing through this life, unless you fulfil your commitment, your spiritual commitment to yourself, only ensures one thing: your next life here.
So please take what I am saying to heart. Forget your self-importance, forget your ego, forget the fact that you are doing a very important job-throw everything and be there, so that we can receive the blessings of the hierarchy of the great spiritual Masters of the Sahaj Marg tradition.
You know, divinity has no beginning, no end-anaadi, anantam. I believe Sahaj Marg has no beginning, no end. But its presence on earth has a beginning and an end. When Lalaji Maharaj is supposed to have rediscovered Sahaj Marg (rediscovered something that was lost), it was only the fact that he re-established a connection with this divine hierarchy that had been cut-and it is available to us again today. Let us not miss this opportunity. Let us not simply ignore it and say, "Oh, birthdays come and go. I will go for the next one." Let us not foolishly think that we cannot afford the few hundred rupees that it takes to go to Tiruppur and come back. Let us not worry about the paucity of accommodation, or the relevance or irrelevance of comfort.
When you go for a great celebration, it is the celebration, it is the atmosphere, the spiritual atmosphere that matters, not physical comfort. I address this particularly to our important, rich people who want air-conditioned bedrooms, soft beds-all the paraphernalia of a rich life that they are accustomed to. It does do good to a man to sleep on the floor three days in a year, and to bathe in cold water. We would all be advised to do this, whether it is necessary or not. All rich people who have opulence, comfort going into luxury, must undertake this exercise of sleeping one night in a week on the floor, without air-conditioning, in the presence of a great deal of mosquitoes, just to see what life really is. Our modern life tends to shield us from nature, and Babuji has admonished us saying, "Be simple and in tune with nature." I believe such celebrations also provide us an opportunity to be simple and in tune with nature. Let us try it.
I hope to meet all of you there so that we can all participate in a divine atmosphere that will be there, and be blessed by our hierarchy of spiritual Masters. May you all live long!