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The Power of our Attitude
20th April 2009, Bangalore, India
Adding to the ten maxims that Babuji Maharaj gave us, perhaps even as a joke, I have fixed an eleventh one: ‘Expect not for thou shalt not be disappointed', couched in biblical language. It was partly joke, partly very serious. Because, after giving this maxim to the public, as it were, I realised that our expectations limit our achievement. In some sort of absolute sense, we cannot go beyond our own expectation. And since the spiritual goal is somewhere way beyond even the infinite, when we expect things like liberation and avoidance of petty nuisances of life like pain and suffering, expect life to be successful, expect life to give us wealth, health, happiness, and use spirituality as a means for these aims or goals (limited because they are our expectations), they govern what we shall get. We cannot by any means receive more than we expect.
Suppose your boss tells you, "Fix your own increment." Many people would be foolish. They expect fifty rupees, they may fix five hundred rupees. But, perhaps the boss would have given five thousand! We never know. So, to ask is foolish, and expectation is only silent asking or silent demanding. And when we expect of the guru, that he should be such and such — "My guru should be educated. He should have a degree. He should not appear to be a villager. He should not appear to be unlettered, untutored. He must…" You know, so many expectations people have. Then they limit not only what they will get, but even what the guru can give. So, there is wisdom in thinking that as the old Vedic statement goes, "Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru devo Maheshwara." (He is God. He is Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, everything put together.) Therefore I worship Him. I am not worshipping a human being or coming before a human being and asking for mere human gifts to be bestowed through my spiritual practice. I am looking at God; from my heart I know he's God, and he is what I think he is.
When Lord Krishna says, "As you worship me, so I come to you," He says, "What you see in me and what you get from me is depending on you. Expect to see in me a god, you will see a god. Expect to see in me a husband, you will find a husband. Expect to see a warrior in me, I am there. My dear devotees," he seems to say, "expect not for thou shalt not be disappointed," in the sense, that what you expect only you will get. And that is a disappointment, because "What you were destined to get from me," Lord says, "was what I would have given you. Now you are getting what you are expecting. You see, you have tied my hands."
So, when we expect something, we limit our achievement because we limit our own, shall we say, exertion (putting in of our energies) and we limit Him. He says, this is all you expect, take it. So, it is a very serious exposition, this eleventh maxim: ‘Expect not for Thou shalt not be disappointed', is to be taken very seriously. And this is in direct relation to attitudes because, according to what we expect, our attitude manifests itself. Why do you go to a doctor? "I go for medicine." Why do you go to a teacher? "I go for education." What are you going to a guru for? "My life should be happy, Sir. I have daughters to be married, sons to be educated and put in good jobs. That is enough. After all, what are we to expect, even from a guru? When God has not blessed me, what can a guru do for me?" We are negating the Vedic truth, the Vedic statement, the truth that God himself says: I am here as your guru. The guru is not God, but God is the guru having achieved the form of a guru, as he took so many avatars for lokakshema or for the evolution of the earth, for its protection, for its growth. Unfortunately, we have not, in our Sahaj Marg training courses, in our lectures, in CREST, we have not paid… perhaps we were not even aware of the importance of what our expectations can do to limit us in this world and in the next, in this life and in the next.
So, I think it is time to wake up to the reality that as I see, that is what I will see. As I hear, that is what I will hear. As I touch, that is all I will touch. If I touch my guru thinking he is a villager, he is a villager. If I think that he is erudite and touch him, I will get wisdom. Because, like the spectrum, seven colours, they are seven only for convenience but it's an infinite range, through this to this [holding arms outstretched]. Similarly what he is, is an infinite range, from here to there [pointing below and above]. What he says — if I say, "Theek hai [It is all right], what has he…? I mean only sixth class. He has himself said, ‘I may be fifth or sixth class.' What do you expect to hear? Let us go and have a samosa." Many people have done this. Babuji starts talking and they go for samosas, paan, in Shahjahanpur. And when they come back, and some of those who have been there patiently waiting for whatever comes from the guru, they are grateful, they are ennobled, they are made more wise, they are made more accepting, in the sense that I am able to accept more after I have listened to him, not because I expect more, [but] because my capacity has been increased by what he has said, by the way he has looked at me and the atmosphere that he has created. And when they come back they say, "Oh, how I wish I had not gone." Too late, because even if you hear it from a tape recorder, these same words, they are not the same.
You know when my grandson was three or four years old, I used to bring for him from abroad, disks, CDs, with sounds of whales, sounds of water, sounds of birds and he used to listen to them, half an hour, maybe sometimes more, after lunch. But when you see a whale, it is something else. When you hear a bird sitting on a tree, it is something else. There is the difference between what is recorded which is in the past, and what I hear directly now which is in the present, in its proper setting, in its atmosphere. I understood why Babuji said, even if your house and my house are separated by just one wall, still the abhyasi must come to the guru for a week every year. Precisely to, you know, get this soaking, drenching in that atmosphere, living with him — very vital. Then you are able to forget. You know, when you look at a pond from outside, you may think it's a dirty village pond. You may think there may be an alligator in it, or fish. You see some, you know, these algae on top and you think it could be dirty. The beauty of it is only when you get into it. Or I won't even say beauty — the reality of it is only when you get into it. And then you are reluctant to come out.
So, if you want to know what is spirituality, what is the guru, you must be prepared to drown in his presence. But those who go just for a cursory glance, to evaluate him and to judge him by what he says, what he does — it is like an ant trying to measure an elephant. We are not worried about the three blind men, you know. They at least saw something. One blind man saw an elephant as a pillar, another saw it as a wall. Third saw it as a rope. They saw something. But if an ant tries to judge an elephant, it doesn't see anything because it's just going on and on and… "Where is the elephant?" it says. On the elephant and yet it says, "Where is the elephant?"
So, this is the problem of abhyasis, especially, you know I am sorry to say, intellectual people who come with their intellects. They are not wise, they are only intelligent, and here intelligence is not enough. Can intelligence evaluate beauty? Can it appreciate a painting? Will it look at a painting as an object of art governed by this rule and that rule, colour? Picasso puts together something; it is great. Rembrandt puts together something; it is great. What is the greatness in it that intelligent people will not perceive, ever? It is what the soul sees. And the soul must be permitted to see before it can see. And what is it that prevents the soul from seeing? The ego. It says, let me see. Because the ego's existence depends on its retaining its supremacy over everything else. Therefore, the approach of the ego, whether in the material life or in spiritual life, is always against the interests of the soul. When we tell abhyasis, don't be arrogant, don't be proud, don't put your ego as your barrier between yourself and others, it is because their spiritual life is always harmed, perhaps even condemned.
So, you may ask what all this has to do with attitude. Well, because these things govern our attitude. My attitude is created by my ego. The ego says, "He is no use as a guru. Why are you leaving religion?" Because when we are religious, the ego is safe. The ego says, "Good, you have done your duty today by God. You have done your worship." Because ego is not hurt, on the contrary, the ego is strengthened by pooja [worship], by recitation. I wondered whether anybody would ever realise the harm that religious practices — not religion — religious practices do to us, because we get into the habit of repeated repetitions of a name. And as Babuji said to a boy who accosted him in, I think, New York and he said, "Can you give me a mantra?" He said "Repeat your own name," as a joke you see. What is a mantra? It is a repetition.
You know, the great Valmiki who was a goonda, who was a thug, who used to rob people travelling through the jungles, waylay them — dacoit. He wanted a mantra and he said, ‘Ram Ram'. But he could not say ‘Ram Ram', so he said, ‘mara mara'. It just happens that ‘mara mara' is the opposite of ‘ram ram'. You say, "mara mara mara mara," it becomes "ram ram ram ram". It also exposes the foolishness that you turn it upside down and say the same thing and it still works! We have been misled by our readings of these Puranas, which says when he said, mara mara mara it became ram ram ram, therefore it worked. As Babuji said, it worked because it was a repetition of the same thing again and again ad nauseam and it dulled your head. So, that is the truth of mantras, and repeated recitations of mantras. People who write in books, you know, every day ten pages ‘Ram Ram' or ‘Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram' — I had a relative who filled up many notebooks like this. And he thought he was holy, he was religious. But there was no change in his character. He was still angry, he still shouted at his wife, he had no friends. So, the proof of what we do must come from outside, not of what I think of myself. "I am great," Ravana said it, Hiranyakaship said it, Kamsa said it. And what happened? The avatars came. So you see, religious practices, I again emphasize the difference between religion per se (the teachings), and the way it is practiced.
Religion says humility, love, compassion, charity, and these are enshrined in the practices that are recommended to us. Give, love, accept. You know? Give, love, accept. One of the greatest things, one of the greatest difficulties is to accept, whether it is help, whether it is... "No, no, I have." "Would you like…?" "No, no, we have enough at home." To accept with grace is a sign of humility. People don't know. We are always saying, "No, no, I have." "Sir, would you like an apple?" "No, no, I have. I have dozens of them at home." And in giving, it is a sign of ego; we are not giving with love, or out of charity, or compassion or as a sharing between ourselves. "I am feeding!" And God says, "Aha?" and one day your larder is clean, your table is empty. And then your ego says, "Don't ask for help because I have never asked for help in my life. I have always given." Karna, who is praised so much, suffered from this — Daanveer Karna, the great warrior who was always giving, and he lost his life.
So everything that we see praised in our literature, whether it is sacred or profane, whether it is holy or religious or not, is teaching us — what? What we should not do. God given gifts, they are given to you to serve humanity. "Give me your wisdom." No, my wisdom is not mine to give. Suppose you tell a fish, "Give me your ability to swim," it will die. Our purpose is to live, to grow, to become what we have to become and then help others to become what they have to become. So, our life is essentially that of a student, of one who is learning, until he is able to come to a stage — because we never can say our education is complete or our learning is complete — at a particular stage, we start also helping others. And like that, it goes up. Step by step in parallel progression. I am going higher and higher, learning more and more. I am taking others to grow and come with me higher and higher. And now there is a third level, and there is a fourth level and a fifth level. That is the only way the universe can be helped — by everyone becoming, and helping others to become.
So, I think it is very important that we have to forget everything that we have learnt outside Sahaj Marg. Not revile it or say, this is useless, but by saying, I have taken what was useful out of it. Like the body in its wisdom, eats, keeps what is necessary to pump back energy into the system and discards the rest. So, we take from our society, from our educational institutions, from our family, even from parents, and then evaluate it, digest what is good, discard what is bad. We don't say, this is hateful, because, after all, from that came my energy. Because people who revile what is thrown out of the body, they call it dirty, and filthy, and stink, they are also doing harm to nature because it is only part of what passed through me. I created it.
Like that story I have told, about a young man like Natwar, let us say as an example, who went to a very wise man and said, "I want to be your disciple." He said, "Find for me the worst thing that you can find, and bring it to me as guru dakshina [token of gratitude] and I will accept you." And for three years he looked and looked and looked, and there was always something worse. One day sitting in the toilet, he said, "Aha, this is the worst! Nobody wants to look at it, nobody wants to smell it, nobody wants to touch it." So, he put out his hand to take up some of the excreta, when voices arose from it and said, "What are you doing?" "No, no, I am taking you to my guruji as my guru dakshina."
It said, "Why?"
"‘He said, ‘Bring me the worst thing in the world.'"
And there were voices from it saying, "We are the worst thing in the world? Yesterday I was apple, I was badam halwa, I was beautiful cake, and you touched me and I have become this. Decide now who is the worst in the world."
He had jnanodaya as they say, you know, enlightenment, washed his hands and went to his guru.
The guru said, "You are the young man who came to me some years ago?"
"You have brought my guru dakshina?"
"Where is it?"
He fell at his feet.
And the guru said, "I asked you to bring me the worst thing you can find."
He said, "I am it, my Lord," and he was accepted.
So we are doing the harm to this universe, we create the filth, and then we blame everybody else. And our filth is cleaned up by birds of the air, animals, water, fire. You know? So, that is the need for humility. "I am the worst." It must come from the heart. Not as a ritual: "Aham asmi — I am the worst thing in the universe." Not like that.
I must have the realisation that without my guru, I was nothing, I will be nothing. I am going from a state of nothingness which was nothing, to a state of nothingness which is everything. This journey is the spiritual journey. From the despicable human being whose every touch defiled everything that he touched, to that divinised human being whose every touch will divinise what he touches. This is a short statement of the spiritual life. And all this is possible only when we forget ourselves, we remove everything that we know from ourselves, we remove our understanding and, most of all, we remove our judging faculty, which is, “This is good, this is bad.” For my judgemental faculty is nothing but what I have been educated into by my parents, by my family, by my society — society including my religion, my elders, everything.
And if you remember that old story of the emperor and his new clothes, we have also to learn from children. “Papa, papa,” says the young child, “what are you wearing?” “No, I like this.” And, it says, “Papa, it makes you look stupid.” And the child is telling the truth. You take the child to a restaurant, he smells and says, “It smells like, you know, offal.” And you say, “I pay hundred and eighty rupees for a dish and this stupid ass says that it smells like offal.” But, it’s the truth. I have perverted my sense of smell to appreciate what I am taking, because my ego says it’s wonderful because I paid hundred eighty rupees for it, not because it is good. Especially in today’s world, we only judge by what we pay. That’s why when you go to houses and you admire something, most of them will say, “Oh, I paid ten thousand rupees for it.” “Oh, where did you buy it?” “I bought it in Nagpur, or Seattle or Tokyo.” We have to pay more for it and it has to be bought as far away from me as where I am. That gives it its value. “Oh, from Tokyo? Well, you know, I can’t afford such a thing.” So, he becomes lower than us, and we become higher than him. You see how we have corrupted our lives. Our sense of smell has been totally destroyed. Anything stupid I smell, silly I smell, filthy I smell has become… what? Perfume? What I taste, I have educated myself into thinking that it is good, because society has taught me and a rich life has taught me that it is good because I say so.
The most famous example, which to my liking educated me, was the monkeys in the Jungle Book. You know, they are called bandar-log by Kipling. The bandar-log always keep repeating, “We all say so. So, it must be true.” This is democracy. We all eat this, so it must be good. The Chinese all eat this, so it must be good. The Japanese eat raw fish, so it must be good. You know? And I don’t want to be shown as a non-Japanese or a non-Chinese, or a non-primitive who hunts and eats flesh. Then one tends to ask, “Why don’t you also emulate a pig in an Indian situation and see what it eats?”
I remember once, one of my friends from abroad, one of the directors of a company for which I used to work, he had given up non-vegetarian food. Another said, “But why? It is so nice. And you see this pork which I am eating?” It was in a restaurant, this conversation. He said, “You know, you are eating something that has been eaten twice over! The pig has eaten something which should not have been eaten. And now you are eating that pig, which was drawing its sustenance from the gutters around the village. What are you really eating?”
So you see, a rich life, shall we say an opulent life, a life of show, of bombast, of pride, aggrandizement, self-aggrandizement, all this reveals the emptiness inside that individual, because he is putting his greatness on the things he has, on what he thinks he knows and who his friends are. There is a tendency to drop names, as we say in the English language. “Oh, he drops names.” “Oh, Mr. So-and-so? I just met him for breakfast this morning.” My father had a friend when I was just returning from college in Benaras, who used to say, “I had breakfast with J.D. Birla.” And J.D. Birla, you would see next morning in the newspaper, was addressing a conference in London that evening! And he knew that he would be found out, but his greatness (he had put on the feeling) depended on his friendship with great people. By himself, there was nothing. So he was always talking about great people. “I had lunch with Birla. I had a meeting with Mr. Mittal in London,” things like that. False things, even he knew it was false. He knew it would be found out even as he left the home. It had become a disease.
So, modern life is full of diseased people: ego, arrogance, pride, justification, self-aggrandizement and always talking ill of those who they think are not like them. And how does it all come? How does it come? And when they go to meet a guru, they have all these wrong traits. “He’s short. He says he is only fifth class, may be sixth, may be fourth even you know, he is trying to avoid saying it.” (We make our judgment.) “And you know, all these people who are sitting around him are people of the same ilk, villagers. So, what could they be? What could he be? Why have I come here? Why have I come to him? Anyway, I have paid thousand rupees taxi fare from Delhi to Shahjahanpur. So, let me sit for an hour at least so that my money is not totally wasted.” And so, they come and go like that, so that when Babuji was asked where to find foolish people, he said, “Look among the intelligent. That’s where you’ll find them.” And he said, “I am not joking,” after the intelligent had left.
I have seen very high positioned people, I.A.S. Officers, secretaries from Government of India coming to ask him questions. “Have you seen God?” And he said, “Suppose I tell you I have, will you believe me? And should you believe me? You can only see God when you see Him for yourself. You cannot see Him through my eyes.” “But, Babuji, people say you have seen God.” “Well, people say so many things.” And the man left, saying, “Arre, he says… What have I to do with him when he doesn’t say that he has seen God?”
So, see how our attitudes — we come with one attitude, and that attitude is strengthened more and more by what I see, by what I hear, by what I look and find for myself. Because Nature, I mean Nature with a capital ‘N’, only helps us to grow in whatever direction we want. You want to grow in this direction of disbelief, of wrong judgments, of loss of your Self, go ahead. Babuji said, “Nature always helps.” If you want to go this way, it helps you to go this way [pointing downwards]. If you want to go this way, it helps you to go this way [pointing upwards]. If you want to stay here, it helps you to stay here. In Nature, there is no opposition to human effort. It is always adding itself to human effort. I have to determine, you have to determine where you want to go; Nature will help. But if I am going from guru to guru, guru to guru, you know, ad nauseam, and I have spent fifty years of my life and at seventy I say, “I have been looking all my life for a guru. I have not managed to find one,” who is to blame? Who is to blame? And if, as Babuji said, the guru comes to your door, you treat him probably as a beggar. “Yes, please, what can I do for you?” [Laughs] He says, “You don’t have to do anything for me. I have come to do something for you.” “Ah, come on. Don’t be shy. You can ask whatever you want.” Isn’t it? So, this is the power of attitude.
Now, when I come to Babuji Maharaj himself, he was always listening. He believed that only by listening, you learn. Not only everything about the one who is speaking to you, but about his past, his inside and his outside, what he is capable of left to himself and what he is capable of, if he permits the guru to work. Because even that depends on how he will change under the hammer. Now, you have in science, malleable metals like gold, which can be beaten out to a thinness which is unimaginable. But, you cannot beat steel like that. Is he malleable? Is he gold in effect? Is it possible to work on him? Will he co-operate? Now when Babuji said, suppose the prospective abhyasi says, “Babuji, what can you do for me?” and he says, “It depends on you”, and we say, “What is this?” It’s like going to a shop to buy potatoes and he says, “Are these potatoes good?” and the shopkeeper says, “It depends on you.” [Laughs]
But I will tell you, I had an uncle whom we all loved very much, my maternal uncle. He was suspicious of everything. Twenty of us would be eating dosa, he would look at a dosa like this [holding it up] and there would be a fly in it. I am not joking. He would go to buy chappals and there would be a nail in his sole. He would go to make some pyjamas for himself, and he would find that there is no naadaa [drawstring]. He said, “I don’t expect. You know our people are like that — stupid, nonsense, you know, always!” And it was what he wanted it to be. Enlarging this, this world is what we expect it to be. “It is dirty, filthy, criminal.” Yes, it is. Who made it so? You made it so. Because you shall find what you expect to find. “But my friend says this world is wonderful.” He expects and he finds. Change your expectation. “But how can I change my expectation when all I see around me is destructive, violent, you know?” That is because you see that, he sees this.
So, make the world what you want by first expecting it to be what you want, and then you’ll find it is what you want. Look at the other side and say, “Oh, I don’t find anything in this. I never expected.” Remain. And what will be the result? You will come again and again until you change your world by your own effort. So, as spirituality says, when you change yourself, you change your universe — not just the world. Babuji said this often. And his universe was perfect, because he changed himself to find perfection in one man, Lalaji Maharaj. He said, in him I saw God. And he makes bold enough to say, in I think Voice Real, “If I ever saw God, it was because of my guru. To whom therefore should I be grateful, to God or to my guru?” We have to answer it. He didn’t provide the answer. Because if he had provided the answer, some would have said it’s blasphemous. Some would have said, it’s man worship. Some would have said, sheer stupidity, et cetera, et cetera, you know.
So, this question is always for you, each one of you to find out the answer for yourself. “Is this apple tasty?” It depends on the eater. “Is this rose beautiful?” It depends on whether you see the thorns or the rose. “Is this sky lovely?” It depends on you. “No, no, Bangalore sky, you know, always… Uh-huh. Bairathnahalli, Kempegowda,” you know, all these funny things. So, Babuji said, don’t look, see. Between the two words, ‘look’ and ‘see’, there is an immense difference. I look at you, I see a good man. He looks at you; he says, “I don’t know, I don’t trust him.” Why? “My instincts tell me.” Are you looking? Or is your instinct seeing?
So, in the Bible it says (what does it say?): You have eyes, but you see not. You have ears, but you hear not, meaning that it is something else which is looking at this and judging. What are these things that are looking and judging which my eye does not see? My ego, my prejudices, my idea of myself. We come back to the same thing. I create in the other man (create in a sense for myself) a bad man, a good man, a wise man, a holy man, depending on my attitude to him. And this attitude will go only when my inside is totally empty of all prejudice, of all expectations.
So, these are the lessons that we have to learn from the spiritual life, you see. It’s not a hard life; it’s not a tough proposition. It is very easy, because like dropping a gun which I think is for my protection (but which is really against me because every man who sees a gun in my hand will be tempted to shoot me first), I have to drop my self-protection device, the armour that I am wearing: my ego first, my prejudices second, my expectations third. So, we shall continue later.