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The Giving Heart
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
I must confess that today I am very happy here, and like real happiness, it must not show. Happiness must not show, you see; it is inside. Why am I happy? Because what the Master gives is being utilized according to His wishes, things are happening according to the plan that He made for us, ashrams are being built wherever He wanted them to be built, and people are doing it to whom He gave the power to do it. When we see all this happening, there is an inner happiness which, as the Bible says, gives you a "peace that surpasseth understanding." It cannot be understood. Why am I happy? You cannot understand. You know, when I was in Europe in Augerans, so many times, many people, especially many young ladies, would come to me and say, "Today I am very happy, Chariji, but I don't know why." Now, if you know why you are happy, then that is a limited happiness. Like your husband is happy with you today, or the pasta you have cooked today has come out very well, or that the dress is very nice. These are limited, because when the dress becomes dirty, you become miserable. When the pasta becomes cold because your husband is not there, you become miserable. When the car, the new one that you bought, stops on the road, you are miserable. These are happinesses that are based on things or places or people. Our happiness is unconditioned; because He is happy, I am happy.
Now how to make Him happy? I want to tell you an example from the charitra [history] of Shri Ramchandra Prabhu of Ayodhya, and about Lord Vishnu with his Sridevi and Bhudevi (wives) on his vahana [vehicle] Garuda. Lord Vishnu cannot fly, but he gives the power to Garuda to carry him and his two consorts on its back. Whereas when Ramchandra Prabhu, is downed by the Sarpa-asthram, he gives Hanuman the strength to go and bring not only a few herbs but the whole parvatham [mountain]. He does not give intelligence, he gives power, because if Hanuman had come back and said, "Lord, how do I recognize this? Which is the herb? Is it this or this?"
You know, in the movie, "The Lord of the Rings", when Frodo has been badly hurt by the sword of the Nazgûl, and he is brought into the territory of the Elves, they are looking for a herb which will sustain him until the Lord of Elves can bring him back to life. They need somebody to find the herb. Here Lord Rama needed somebody to go and bring it, and I am sure if Hanuman had not found the right mountain, he would have carried the whole of bhulokha [earth] itself and said, "Here it is. Come on, you choose."
So Babuji used to say "I am powerless but I can give you any power that you need." You have to use the power. Now this is precisely what the Master wants-people who can use what He can give. If He gives money, you must be able to use it wisely. If He gives you knowledge, you must be able to use it for the progressive welfare of humanity. If He gives you strength, you must be able to use that strength to build what He wants you to build. This is the Life Divine. There is no other Life Divine.
"No, no sir, I am going to the temple" -it is useless.
What is the difference between the temple and our ashram? If you have read one of my books carefully, you will know that Babuji said, "In the temple there is an idol, an object of worship. It has been charged by a saint." So the saint was more important than the idol. Anyway, the idol has been charged and the saint is no more. But that charge goes on dissipating with time until, after a few years, may be fifty years, may be a hundred years, or may be only one year, that temple is again a stone-a piece of stone and nothing else. That is why in India, you find that the whole countryside is dotted with temples; where once there was worship, there is nothing now except owls and snakes.
The other major thing is that temples are for those who have no Gurus. A living Guru is far more potent, useful, spiritually a guide, one who can actually take you there whereas a temple is there only to give you a little charge of whatever it has, which is reducing all the time, like the batteries of our cars, our torches or our radios; we have to keep recharging them. They are certainly not good for moksha prapthi [attainment of liberation]. In traditional literature, we call it moksha prapthi. In our tradition it is 'Brighter World'. Temples cannot take you there. Temple worship is 'toline jesina pujaphalamu' in Telugu. [Temple worship is performed for the positive results that could follow.] Nothing more. You can only beg, "God give me this, give me that." So it is like a government, you know, a place where they give you, in times of disaster, free food. What the British used to call 'soup kitchens' in times of disaster-a dole, something for the beggar. Babuji said, "When people come to me for any reason whatsoever, I don't send them away empty-handed, because from my house, even a beggar does not go empty-handed." Therefore something is always given; this is the Indian tradition, the Indian culture, the Indian way of life.
Now what is the difference in an ashram? The ashram too is charged by the Great Master. But when we sit to meditate, we increase that charge all the time. In temples it is decreasing all the time whereas in the ashram it is increasing all the time, so that if you are doing what you should do in your ashrams, after fifty years it should be having a better charge, a sweeter atmosphere, something so subtle that you can say, "This is heaven. This is the Brighter World." The Brighter World is not somewhere, historically or geographically placed, far away like the Heaven of religion. It is right where you are, provided that you use that little, shall we say, miniscule seed of the Brighter World that is transmitted into your ashram, expand it by your love, devotion and sadhana, and fill the ashram, fill the environment, fill Ongole, fill Andhra Pradesh. That is how a country becomes great-from one seed it expands until it fills the whole universe.
Ananda, Buddha's disciple, asked him once, "Lord you are giving me many teachings, and you say a great soul fills the universe with His light, but when the universe is already full of your light, how can there be more light?"
Buddha says, "Ananda, bring a candle."
So when every soul in the ashram meditates sincerely, with devotion and love, purposefully, the goal being only one and no second goal, that place becomes more and more sacred-not holy, but sacred. And it becomes purer and purer, subtler and subtler, until at one time it is the Brighter World and nothing else. Temples revert to the stone and the dust that built them. Here the stone and the dust that built the ashrams become enlightened, ennobled into the Brighter World. Some people have asked me, "Why do you want to build ashrams?" It is for this purpose-we should not have to search for the Brighter World. It must be there and I must be part of it. I must be in it all the time, and I do this first for myself by meditation, bringing it into my heart, and then giving it out, which is our duty as I have emphasized again and again. This is not a path where you seek for yourself. It is a path where you seek so that you can give multi-fold.
I remember a parable from the Christian tradition where a father calls his three sons and says, "I am going away, my children." He gives them one talent each. (He has three talents, and he gives one each).
He says, "Use it as well as you can. If I come back, I will ask you to account for it."
Twenty years later he comes, and after his cup of coffee, he asks them for the accounts. They did not expect him back but they were very happy to see the old man. The eldest son, a timid fellow like me, has buried the talent under the root of a tree in a tin box. He goes, carefully digs it out and says "Papa, you gave it to me, I kept it carefully. Here it is."
The second son says "Just a moment. It will take a little longer."
He goes out into the market and comes back with ten talents.
"How did you do it?" the father asks.
The second son replies, "I let it out on interest. And one has become ten."
Then he looks at his third son and asks, "Where is it?"
The third son says, "Daddy I cannot return it to you".
"What?" the father exclaims.
To which his son says, "No, I cannot return it to you. I cannot produce it because everything that you see around you is yours."
He had used it. The Father was very happy. He took the ten talents of the second brother, and the one talent of the first brother, eleven talents in total, and gave it to the third son and said, "Since you have used one talent to produce everything that you see around you, take this eleven and make them grow."
So you see God gives power to everybody, like a father gives to all his children. But he gives more and more to one who uses it better and better, for the welfare of humanity everywhere. If you don't use that power, it is like the temples-it will dissipate and you will suffer from power grossness. This applies especially to preceptors. If they don't use the power that is given, it is nobody's fault that that power petrifies within them, becomes like a rock like in the old story of Ahalya, who was cursed to be a rock until the divya sparsha [divine touch] of Ram Chandrudu [Lord Rama] awakened her again. So you see, divya sparsha can change a rock into a human being while power unused becomes power grossness and turns a human being into a rock. People who hoard money, who hoard power, who hoard gold and wealth should understand that their very touch is turning things into solid rock, including themselves.
The secret of giving is not to help anybody else but to help yourself. If that power remains in me and makes me gross, let me give away whatever I am getting, as fast as I can. It also applies to power of knowledge. If you don't teach, you become stupid. If you are a man of knowledge, you must teach. If you are a man of wealth, you must go on giving so that nothing remains in you. And then what happens? The miracle that Babuji spoke about happens-that when Nature finds somebody who can do this distribution, it makes its channel wider and wider until through his heart, infinity itself can flow.
So this is the secret; it is not a very great secret, but not a very revealed secret either. It is a secret which you must accept with your heart, and not be afraid of trying. Remember the story of King Midas who had the power of turning anything into gold when he touched it, and he was playing around like a fool, you know, turning plants into gold, houses into gold, brick into gold, and when his daughter came home from school in the evening and when he touched her, kissed her, she became gold. So he who makes everything into gold will make even human beings into gold. One has to go on giving, bathing in the river of spirituality, like Midas had to do-he was told to go and bathe in the river; when he did, his power was lost and he became a human being again. The second secret of that story is not that King Midas had the power to transform everything into gold, but that only when he lost that power he was able to become a human being, and to enjoy human love and to treat his daughter as his daughter, a living thing responding to every aspect of human life. Remember that power grossness eventually converts you into a heartless thing, not because there is no heart, but because the heart is that traditional rotten thing-a cold, stone-like heart.
I pray that the Master, in His great mercy, give us all the wisdom, give us all the faith, and give us all the love to distribute everything we have. Religion does not speak of it. Even Jesus Christ, when he said, "Give away everything you have and come with me," he did not explain why. Unless that man, whether it was Peter or Paul or whoever, had given away everything, he could not have followed Jesus. If you want to follow the Master, you don't have to give away. Give. The word give away sounds as if I am being separated from something which is very painful to give. It is not painful when you give, and you see the smile of bliss on others. It is like when you give chocolates to children and you see their blissful smile. Does it not make you happy? That happiness should succeed your giving, the act of giving. Only then it is true giving, which is selfless, which is uniquely for the happiness of the others. Not something to make me something, make me charitable, make me a popular figure who will be called dharma kartha etc. It is all nonsense. By giving, if I make everybody happy, I am more happy than they are.
I am reminded of the great story of Ramanuja, one of the great Acharyas, who became such a wonderful disciple that his Guru decided to give him the Moksha Mantra. The Guru said "I am giving you this mantra but on one condition: If you repeat this Moksha mantra to anybody else, you will go to naraka [Hell]." "Okay." Since the Guru instructed, Ramanuja accepted.
So Guru Maharaj gave him the deeksha, the upadesam [instruction]. The first thing he did was to go up the Sriperumbudur temple. He rang the bell, assembled all the villagers and broadcast the mantra from there. Guruji was apparently stunned, apparently angry.
He said, "Come here."
Ramanuja smiled and said, "Lord! If by sending ten thousand people to moksha, I alone go to naraka, what is wrong with it? You were able to give only me the mantra, sending one man to moksha, but I am going to send ten thousand people."
The Guru could do nothing but smile, and bless him with more.
This is the secret: he who gives, gets more and more to give. He who keeps gets less and less to keep until he loses all. What does he lose? What do great people who have five hundred crores or five thousand crores lose? Their lives. And once you lose your life, it may have been a hundred thousand crores, it may have been the gold of the whole universe, you don't have it. Spirituality says, "My son, earn that which you can keep eternally with you." What is that? Love. Love does not leave us because the heart does not leave us. If you don't live properly, your heart carries the samskaras of this wrongly lived life through eternity, until you find a Guru who can clean it, who can give you His grace, His mercy, and make a man of you again. If you carry this message of love into your heart and go on giving it, the heart becomes bigger and bigger until, as Babuji Maharaj said, one day it becomes the whole human system from top of the head to the feet and eventually it fills the whole universe. Then if you are asked, "Where is your heart?" you can say, "This is my heart." (Indicating a wide circle around him with his hand.)