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The Real Purpose of the SMSF Training Centres
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
Many of you may not know about the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation. Whereas Shri Ram Chandra Mission is registered under the Societies Registration Act (it is a society), Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation is registered under the Trusts Act. So, that is the only difference. Otherwise the two are the same—two parallel tracks on which the train will run.
The basic idea of registering this Foundation was to help in performing all those duties, activities, which I did not want to burden the Mission with, such as training centres, medical facilities, educational facilities—with a spiritual base of course. Wherever we have the Foundation, there will be facilities for meditation. But, whereas the Mission is entirely spiritual work, the Foundation will take over even the publishing work of the Mission. You must have noticed already that we have been publishing books under the Foundation.
We have plans to build five what we call Spiritual Retreat Centres: one in Bangalore, one in Pune, one here [in Vadodara], one in Ambala, and the fifth one in Kharaghpur. Basically, they will have small meditation halls for, say, three hundred people. There will be facilities where a hundred people can stay, no more. The idea is to train fifty to sixty people in one batch, for one month. It will be an extended training course, intensive training in nature, with a resident faculty plus invited faculties of scholars, professors, experts in various fields, where this one month of training will have a syllabus which will include lectures from various religions: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, everything. Not in depth, but enough to give our abhyasis an overall picture of the religions and how they are all common in their basic essentials, but how politicians, and the people of religions, the purohits, the pandits, the priests, they have used religion to divide us. It will be an exercise, in time, to bring about in our human mind the idea that religions are all similar, but people have misused them, especially in our country, you know. And today, if you look at the world, everywhere the problem is with religion, whether it is Yugoslavia, or the Middle East, or anywhere. And as Babuji Maharaj said, where religion divides, spirituality unites. So this will be the thrust.
Further, over a month's training, eighty percent will be spirituality—what is spirituality, how it is not different from religion but forms the foundation of every religion. If you look historically at the development of religions, you find that the founders were all spiritual people. Whether it was Muhammad the Prophet, or Jesus Christ, or Buddha, or the rishis [sages], they had no religion. You cannot say that a rishi is a Hindu; Buddha was not a Buddhist; Jesus was not a Christian, he was a Jew. So my argument has always been, when I give talks in the West: if Jesus was not a Christian, and Muhammad Saheb was not a Muslim, and Buddha was not a Buddhist, why should I be any of these?
So, you see, what they taught became, I won't say corrupted but solidified, what we call in geology—petrification—into religion; narrow-minded, kattarpan [dogmatic], biased, "My God and no other God," that sort of divisive and insulting [attitude] to people of other origins. Every religion says there is only one God and we all say, "But mine is that God, not yours." So, if spirituality is to achieve its final purpose of uniting humanity under one banner, under one God, we have to remember Babuji's famous statement that God has no religion, and religions have no God. We have to take this to heart, at least abhyasis.
One of the things that had been causing sorrow to Babuji Maharaj was that people are not willing to give up their religious affiliations even after coming to Sahaj Marg. They still remain what they have been. We are not converting people here; we are trying to elevate people by training them, by making them accept mentally and subsequently in their hearts, that they have gone beyond religion. We are not setting aside religion; we are not destroying religion. As Jesus himself said, "I come not to destroy, but to fulfil."
We have to understand that we have to go beyond religion. We have been able to do it socially; we have been able to do it culturally. Sons of farmers are today in government, in I.T. business. They are lawyers, they are judges, they are generals in the army. Where money is concerned, we are prepared to throw away our origins. We are no longer khetis [farmers], we are no longer children of purohits. "My father was a priest," we say, "but I am a collector." So money is able to achieve this, what I would like to say, transformation of an individual out of his cultural, historical and geographical roots, into something more open. Where a citizen of maybe Ambala has now become a world-citizen; he is working in the United Nations. Another fellow from Gorakhpur is in Australia. A third Indian is actually in one of the governments [positions] in the USA. If you can achieve that, why can't you achieve it in what must really concern you, what makes you alive, what gives you life itself? Why, here, do you want to remain restricted within the narrow confines of a bigoted, self-interested so-called religion?
So all this will be the curriculum vitae of our five institutes, and I am happy to say that we have generous people who are giving us the land. Kamlesh Patel is giving us, initially, this ten acres that you are going to see under item number one-one-ninety of the map. He has already given five-and-half acres of wonderful land in Pune. Other generous donors have given us money. And I hope all of you will support these institutions by giving of your talents, whatever they be, and in whichever direction they be. Because, apart from courses on religion, on spirituality, I propose to have a small, sort of, parallel bars, where you will also train your body. These will be rather discipline centres of learning, where you will wake up when the bell rings, do your personal meditation, then go out into the field, do a little running, jogging, parallel bars, whatever you want to do for half an hour, have breakfast, and then begins the scholastic part of it which will be for about three-and-a-half hours a day.
They will be all equipped with excellent libraries, not biased libraries, not only Sahaj Marg literature but every thing in the world will be there, including Conversations with God. Some people don’t like it. If you have read it, you know why. If you have not read it, it should be worthwhile your reading it.
So this is quite a bold approach for an organisation like this to take, with a total and only interest of widening your minds, making them broad-minded, because, after all, education is supposed to bring broad-mindedness. But we have in India this phenomenon that the more educated we are, the more narrow-minded we become. We have this funny thing with the so-called specialization. In medical professions, the more and more you specialize, the less and less you can do for humanity. Soon we will have aorta specialists, pulmonary vein specialists and things like that, because I heard twenty years ago in Canada that there is a specialist who did only the fifth cervical vertebra. I am not joking; this is a statement of fact. So specialization is kattarpan [narrow-mindedness] in the medical field, or in the scholastic field, or in the academic area. But here we want more and more broad-mindedness. We want to know less and less of more and more; whereas in specialization you know more and more of less and less. I am using Babuji’s words, and I hope none of you will find it difficult to accept what my great Master—the Master of the Universe as I think he is, as I accept he is, as my heart tells me he is—what he said: We have to know everything, not in a specialized way. Because when you specialize, it is like a man who only exercises his biceps so that he can see it in the mirror, and his chest is twenty-eight centimetres and his thigh is six, but this muscle [pointing to the biceps] is bulging! [Laughter]
We want a totally balanced human individual, according to the old proverb: ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’—healthy mind in a healthy body. A broad-minded mind in a body which will accept that other bodies are also holy, not to be exploited, not to be bought and sold; that every individual is a part of the divine being here, playing its role, so that the Cosmic entity totally takes all the experience of everyone of us and puts it together. In fact, I should say that it is the server for humanity, in computer language, and all that you put into the computer of your head and your heart goes There. Nothing is lost, nothing is corrupted, nothing is perverted. And this makes up, in my mind, the Divinity.
So I hope all of you will throw aside your inhibitions, “What is this man going to do? He is going to teach Islam in our institutes?”—Yes! Why not? “He is going to teach Buddhism?”—Yes. “Naastika philosophies?”—Of course. You know, unless there is a man, you don’t know what is a woman, isn’t it? You know light because there is darkness.
Where there is no light, no darkness, that is the truth of a sphere where we have yet to go through our experiences here, through our exercises here, through our efforts here, through our large-mindedness here. Because if you cannot accept a world where there is neither light nor darkness… Babuji Maharaj was always quoting the Naasadiya Sukta: “There where there is neither light nor darkness, where neither the sun shines nor the moon,” et cetera, et cetera, in Sanskrit—Babuji’s divine abode, of which the Gita speaks, “Yad gatvaa na nivartante, tad dhaama paramam mama. [Having reached My ultimate abode, people do not come back.]”
So it is not enough to just rattle this off in Sanskrit, or Arabic or Hebrew. It is necessary to broadcast this message from your hearts. We are great at broadcasting messages with our eyes, with our mouths and with our intellects. The heart we have sealed up, and we don’t know what the heart is today, except that we know we have a heart when we have a heart problem. “Sir, I have a heart problem.” The biggest heart problem is we don’t know that we have a heart until we have a heart problem! And that, Sahaj Marg wants to teach you. And this is beyond all that you are as a human being. We don’t care whether you are a general in the army, or the best doctor in the world, or whether you are president of the United States. All need this education, all will have to come to it, because according to my understanding of Sahaj Marg, if at all you accept the question of rebirth, or the possibility of rebirth, it is like a man going to school to complete his education.
I was speaking yesterday to a very high officer in the government who is going to do a PhD—at the age of forty-eight. He suddenly feels that he is uneducated, after being a Class One officer in the government. At the age of forty-eight he says, “What have I done? I have earned money—of course. I have power—yes. But as a human being, what have I got?” Every fool has money today, every fool has power; most of the fools have them. You don’t find intelligent men in these places where there is power and money. I am sure people who really look for these things know it. Then what are we doing? We are wasting our lives, you see. Unfortunately, as Babuji said, we understand all this only when it is too late. At sixty a man says, “Ayyo, what have I done with my life?” At sixty-five, he is afraid of death. Why are we afraid of death? Because we are afraid of life. The famous saying is, “One who is afraid of life alone is afraid of death.” You have not been able to live your life here, how are you going to live your life there?
So this will be a training, an education in what is death, what is life—how they are the same, how it is like a sikka [coin]: heads is life, tails is death.
So I repeat, it is a very—I won’t say an ambitious program, there is no ambition behind it. It is a program which I think is very necessary for us to undertake for our own selves, for the selves of our children, grandchildren; and it deserves, it merits, your support from your heart. I am not talking of money, I am talking of moral support. I hope every abhyasi of this Mission today will support it with the thought that, “May it prosper!” because all thoughts ultimately go up to Him who says, “Okay, so many people want it. Tathaastu! [May it be so!]”