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The Soul and Samskaras
Informal conversation with Master in December, 2007 at Vrads Sande, Denmark
Q: Master, spiritually what is the difference between marriage and blessing? [laughter]
Master: In Sahaj Marg, marriage is a blessing.
Q: Yes, Master.
Master: But in the European tradition, you know, marriage is often a curse.
Master: It depends on how you work at your marriage. Because, you know, suppose there is a tap and you have a cup and you are holding it here [away from the tap] and talking, and you say, “Oh, my cup is not full.” So you must be able to receive grace and the cup must be empty. That’s the only thing—there is nothing else. We are not empty and nor are we prepared to receive grace. Most people are afraid of grace. Because if you become even slightly divinized, you know, your character must change, your behaviour must change; you must develop love, faith, compassion, and all this blah, blah you know—that’s what they think. They will say, “But, Chariji, I will take up spirituality when I am sixty.” You understand?—like that you know. And then by sixty he doesn’t know where the cup is, where the water is, he is blind, he can’t walk, and he needs the canne anglaise as they say in French, to walk, and somebody has to take his hands and put it there, you see. And then he doesn’t know what it is.
So there is a time to receive grace, and that is when we are still able to hold a cup, find a tap, put it there and wait till it is full, because depending... You know, these modern taps in toilet bathrooms—put your hand there and the water comes—they believe in that, but they don’t believe in grace. Stupid thing made by technology; you put your hand there and the water comes, and the water stops. You did this, and put under something else, hot air comes and dries your hands. You are used to machines now, so you don’t believe in God anymore. That is the problem of grace and blessings. And then they say, “You know so many people bless me but….” I say, so many people blessed you and you are still like this? You must think like that, you know. [But] they don’t. They say, “If there was real blessing, I should have changed.” It is like an abhyasi who came to Babuji and said, “Hey, Babuji.”
Q: Must have been a Dane!
Master: Yes [laughter], you make out through pronunciation, no? “Hey, Babuji, if you are so powerful why do we have to do meditation and cleaning and all this rubbish?” So Babuji said, “I tell you it is not rubbish.” That’s all you see. So we want everything without doing anything. I must put out my hand and water must come; I must not even have to turn the tap. I must not have a towel; I must put [out my hands] and hot air must come. The only thing that doesn’t come and for which men pay a lot of money, women also, is constipation. They sit and they sit and they sit [laughter] and then they hope that there could be something you know you switch it on and it comes on and tadang. [laughter] That has not been invented yet!
Q: Master there is one blessing that I don’t quite understand. You often say, very often you say may you live long, may you have a long life, and every time—I have to be frank…
Master: You don’t like it!
Q: Why? [laughter]
Master: No, no. When they have the possibility of living long, they don’t like it. They say, “What I am to live for? My girlfriend left me. I lost my job, and I have to go to clinic tomorrow for a ‘tomoscopy’,” et cetera, et cetera. And if you say don’t live long, they say, “Chariji! You are supposed to bless me.”
Q: No, I would have thought of something like may you grow fast, because the moment you achieve your goal, you don’t want to live long, right?
Master: When you live long, the possibility of growing is enhanced. Imagine a child, if it were to die at the age of six. What opportunity would it have? So time is necessary first.
Q: Master, I have heard sometimes that when women have a miscarriage, you have said that the soul just needed to be here for a few hours.
Master: Yes, that was the karma of the soul you see, samskara.
Q: Yes, then it is liberated afterwards?
Master: Yes, yes, generally.
Q: Why does it need to come down just for...
Master: It is like... you know, suppose you have a friend and she is in the hospital and in a very bad state. You go into the hospital and you come out in half an hour and you say it was horrible. What was horrible? Everything in the hospital: the patients, their suffering, the smell, the doctors, the total. So that is a punishment for you, too. And often you wish you didn’t have to go to the hospital. “No, no, Mama, why don’t you go and see and give her my love.” I had an uncle who had TB, lungs, you know, and I went to see him. It was a special TB hospital and when I entered the gate there was a powerful stink. I would have turned back but he was—I was very fond of that uncle and he was very fond of me, my youngest maternal uncle. I went looking for him and they did not know where he was, because they were all like cattle and he was in the worst ward. There was a powerful smell from their breathing, and he wanted to hug me and put me on his cot, and he said, “Here, sit down here.” One hour I had to sit with him, and you can’t imagine, to take that smell out of myself it took me three days. It would not get out, and it was a punishment.
And because the Pandavas told a small lie, you know, when they wanted to kill Drona—you know Drona, his son Ashwathama you know—he [Drona] could be killed only if his son was killed. So they had an elephant called Ashwathama and Bhima killed it and they all shouted, “Ashwathama is dead! Ashwathama is dead!” So Drona says to the eldest brother Pandava, Yudhishthira, “Is Ashwathama really dead?”—because he says he will tell only the truth, and Yudhishthira tells a lie. He says, “Yes, Ashwathama is dead—the elephant [he adds under his breath].” And for that they had to go through hell, walk through hell on their way to heaven.
So, you see, punishment is not something which takes time. In one second you can suffer in a dream that your house is burning, that your mother is burnt inside, that your son is in the river; everything can happen in a few seconds and you wake up screaming. Babuji said that is the grace of the Master, because what should have happened in reality, by the grace of the Master has been taken off in a dream—that samskara is gone because you have suffered.
Q: Master, during the study groups here we were talking about bhog and one question came to my mind. Can I say that you are also my bhog? [laughter]
Master: Yes, you see bhog does not mean only suffering. Bhog means joy also. Today’s bhog—for instance, you know we had raclette [melted cheese], it is a bhog. And I wonder, you see, whether it is like a bank account—it can be plus, it can be minus. When it is plus you are happy: you have a credit card, you sign and... And when it is minus and the bank manager says…. [dialogue in a foreign language].
So suffering is good because it is a positive way of removing samskara. Whereas if you are enjoying, you are often taking on more and more samskara. So Babuji said, “Saints have been the targets for the world’s sorrows.” They invite more, you see, because they quickly finish everything. So, you see? But we are afraid of suffering.
There is a story of a Tibetan guru, you know Milarepa, you must have heard of Milarepa. His guru was Marpa. Milarepa went to find him and it took him years to find where he was. And when he finally went, he saw this man was standing in a lake three thousand meters above [sea level], on ice, and he had leeches all over his body. For six months he would not even look at Milarepa. When he came out, Milarepa asked him, “Why all these leeches?” He said, “Every leech was a samskara”—karma they say, they don’t say samskara. So there is the philosophy of suffering in advance. There is also a movie about it, somewhere I saw.
Q: Sri Ramana Maharishi also did this, no?
Master: No, no. Ramana Maharishi was able to take away consciousness from this area when they had surgery without any anaesthetic.
Q: Master, when a soul is born does it choose its own parents and surroundings?
Master: Everything is chosen.
Q: Have we been together like a family in another life?
Master: Not necessarily. Because you see the soul... you know in the Gita, Lord Krishna says something which was very difficult to understand. He says, “I prepare the wombs from which the soul will be born.” So you see, this is contradictory to the European theory of evolution. The parents are born for the sake of the son who is to be born. Their fathers were born before for them; it is like that, you see? So the soul, it’s like a magnetic attraction you know, the soul waits. Now before I came to Sahaj Marg I had the idea that good souls are born immediately, bad souls have to wait. Babuji said, “No, it is exactly the opposite.” Because for gross souls the environment there is plenty. They don’t have to choose or wait. It is like a man who wants to go to the gutter. Which gutter should you choose? You don’t need to choose; any gutter is good, no?
Q: So when we feel connected to each other, it’s only in this life or is it because we have been together in many lives?
Master: It can be also that the child has been yours before, or you have been… your child could have been your father in the previous life. Who knows?
Q: Is it more common that we go together...
Q: With the same souls again and again?
Master: From the same samskaras, yes. Suppose you are a Dane and you are to suffer this cold and this ice [laughter], loneliness.
Q: What have I done!
Master: I mean it is a suffering.
Q: Yes, Master.
Master: You live like bears you know, you get drunk and… Suppose you have not handled your life properly, this life, you are going to be born again.
Q: As a Dane. [laughter]
Master: As a Dane? Or as an Eskimo somewhere even further in Lapland until the lesson has been learnt. And I don’t find this is cruelty of God or anything because God has nothing to do with it, you are doing it to yourself.
Q: I am choosing it because I have to...
Master: You are choosing it because the soul knows that I’ve to finish with this. It is like school, you are not able to pass the third grade, you stay one more year in third grade, no? The school is not punishing you. How can you go to fourth grade when even third grade you are incapable of doing properly? You understand? So this life is a school, but we treat it like a fun fair or a carnival.
Q: If you say the soul is itself choosing to come, are there other voices also?
Master: Other voices?
Q: Yeah, that is the issue.
Master: The soul, when it is not in the body, is absolutely wise. As Babuji said, “Death is like a prisoner in a dungeon who is let out for one hour every day, to come out, exercise, walk and go back.”
But you see in many movies, when they are there, they start fighting and from the watch tower the man is shot. It does not happen when we die. The soul is now free of all its samskaras, or pulls from samskaras, let us say, because there is no sense organ. The problem is the sense organs. So the soul decides it should be born in a particular environment of particular parents. Voilà. The program is already made. But then you know when you start life here, there are so many pulls of the senses and suddenly this program is being changed. You create your own new program, forgetting this program. So we don’t move.
Q: But, like in Whispers you know, there is this spiritual hierarchy and the communication between the souls at whatever level it is, and so we are also…
Master: You see, now we are constrained, we are compelled to communicate through the senses. We communicate with the eyes: you look and you communicate a message; you speak, you communicate a message; you touch, you communicate a message. We are communicating messages all the time. But unless the soul is highly developed, it cannot communicate without the sensory organs. So it is bewildered when such a person dies. No communication. It’s like a child suddenly waking up in a dark room, no doors, no windows, no skylight—it is terrorized.
Q: Master, what happens when we die? Will we know where to go?
Master: We will all know. Developed souls, you know they leave instantly. They don’t wander around. Gross souls, they try to stick around. That’s why burial is such a bad habit, spiritually speaking, because the soul is hovering over the graveyard trying to go back into its body. You know it is like a dog. Suppose you have a dog, and you say, “Get out, Fido,” and you lock the doors, and he is running round and round barking wildly looking at this door, looking at that door—he can’t get in. So death is like that. So these souls, low grade or gross souls, they stay there and if they are staying there too long they become like ghosts, that is only spirits you know.
Q: And if we feel fear in the moment of death, what then?
Master: You should not feel. I don’t think anybody feels fear unless they are so gross that they are terrified even twenty years before they die. See, they go to the doctor, “No, no, please, Doctor Malene, I don’t want to die.” “But you are only twenty-five!” “Yes, but death can come at any time. I don’t want to die,” and he has a cold, you know. So fear of death is also a sign of grossness. No advanced soul is ever afraid of death.
Q: What about accidents?
Master: Oh, what about accidents? It’s a way of dying! [laughter] Not all accidents are bad. Yesterday, one car had an accident coming back from the movie. They were all free, only the car was totally damaged. Whereas, there have been accidents in which the car has no damage and the man is dead. An accident, as Babuji said, is an accident for you because you have not planned, but it is according to Nature’s plan.
Q: So it always happens for a reason and never…
Master: There is nothing that happens that is not caused by your samskaras—it is not possible.
Q: In case of accidents, they say that the astral body remains because it has not realized what happened.
Master: It depends upon the soul again, you see.
Q: Yes, yes.
Master: You see, there are traumatic situations where if the soul is… Like the dog I am talking about, if it is a small puppy or a bad dog which you are always punishing, and he goes and bites somebody and you have to go to pay the fine. It all depends on it. Whereas, if it is only by accident, you have put it out and you hear it barking and you say, “Oh, sorry, Fido,” and hug it and let it in.
Q: But in terms of kosha, what is remaining in this case?
Master: Kosha doesn’t… it is not involved at all in, let us say, out of twenty thousand million souls. All souls have all the pancha koshas when they die. They have not got rid of any koshas. It is not like coming from the cold into the warm room and you take off your [inaudible] and then you take off your [inaudible] and then you take off your vest.
Master: It is not like that, you know.
Q: But at least the old, the lowest kosha I mean the physical envelope remains.
Master: That is why we destroy it.
Q: Yes, so the others...
Master: You see this is called the annamaya kosha, the physical body. All souls have to leave it behind, because only through this, the senses can operate. We are sent to this school so that we have the sensory apparatus necessary with which to live wisely. You know, when you have a locomotive with its big head lamp, it is not going around searching for pleasure and entertainment; it only sees its road. But we are not seeing our road. We send a child to school—we have in India you see in the villages, even five-year-olds are walking to school six kilometres—and they see a mango here, they stop; they see a cow being shod and they stop. And they are two hours late for school; they are punished.
Q: I was wondering between the elevated souls and what you call the gross souls, if there is a difference about what kind of layers are…
Master: Even in elevated souls it is not necessary for the koshas to be removed, unless they have gained that particular stature, you know.
Q: In communication there is this idea of from me to you, but if we are souls and from a higher level and there is no duality, how can there be any meaning of communication, because there is no you and me?
Master: We have never seen God. We have never believed in God, most of us. We have never touched and tasted or smelt God. Yet we say “O God,”—how can we communicate? The most vital communication is with somebody we don’t even recognize. We don’t accept, but in the moment of need what cries out? It is the soul, because the soul knows there is somebody with whom it can communicate. And because we are stuck here, we shout, we pray, we scream, we can even revile God: you damn God, where the bloody hell are you?—you know. You have heard people saying it.
Q: Master, there are two abhyasis who through tragic circumstances were both murdered. What happens to their souls?
Master: Same story what happens to anybody. Suppose a prisoner is let out of jail, what happens to him? He goes home, if he has a home; he begs, if he was a beggar; he gets drunk, if he was a drunk—and comes back to jail. Even to be let out of prison, you know—the prison was originally called a house of correction. Prison was supposed to change you, educate you, ennoble you in a certain sense so that when you walked out you were not the man who came. But it has been recognized that it only makes a man worse. So they don’t want prisons. They want open-air prisons, all sorts of funny things, you know. But freedom, loss of freedom is loss of freedom, even if you are on an island from which you cannot escape, like you read in that French novel, what is it?
Q: Le Papillon.
Master: And there are prisons from which you can escape, if you are to believe that famous story of Monte Cristo, where by exchanging himself with the dead man he was thrown over and he never knew what was going to happen to him. Somehow he managed to get free. So that is like the story of the parrot which Babuji told. You know that story?
Master: There was a very powerful and rich sheik in the Middle East. He had a beautiful parrot in a golden cage, and he loved it very much but he would never let it free. So one day he was going to India and he was talking to his parrot, “I am going to India.” And the parrot said, “Oh! You are going to India? I have a lot of friends and relatives there. Please convey my regards and ask them how to be free.” So the sheik went. He had six months of fun and joy and pleasure, and when he was returning he suddenly remembered his parrot’s request. So he went into a mango grove where there were a lot of parrots and said, “I have a pet parrot in a golden cage. It is my favourite. I love it very much. It wanted one answer: how to be free?’’ One parrot fell dead, and he was very sorry. “What has happened? I asked a simple question,” and he was very sad. He came home. And his parrot asked, “Did you ask my question? What is the answer?” He said, “You know, I don’t want to tell you because I am so sad.” “No, no, come on, Majesty, tell me.” He said, “I asked how to get free—my parrot asked—and one parrot fell dead.” And his parrot fell dead. He just opened the cage and said, “What is this, Allah? Allah, what has happened? You know, one died there and one died here,” and he threw it away. And the parrot flew off.
So that boy in Monte Cristo, he does like that. So it is not enough to get advice, you must follow advice. So Babuji said living dead. You understand?
Q: So the children who are born into Sahaj Marg, they come because they know there is a Master here.
Master: They don’t know in that sense, because they don’t have a mind, you know. But like when you are… for instance, Guy drives with the GPS. It is telling him turn left, turn right, go six point one kilometres and keep to the left, turn left after two hundred yards.
Q: So the soul feels it?
Master: So the soul is guided without its knowledge.
Q: Master, do souls come back to help others sometimes?
Master: It can be. They can be sent back. I have ninety percent, ninety-nine percent, surety that when I go up, Babuji will be sitting like that. [laughter] “Ah, Parthasarathi. Come.” And then he will ask somebody there, “You have bought his ticket?” I am puzzled, you see, “For whom, Babuji?” “No, no, you have tea. I’ll tell you.” Then after half an hour he says, “Yes, I think…. where are we sending him? Haan, Venus… You take time. There is no hurry. You have your bath, rest, and then when you are ready you take the ticket and go to Venus.” “For how long, Babuji?” “Time has no meaning. You have your work, you will do well.” [laughter] And off Mr. Chari goes again.
I am sure there is no rest for the be-knighted soul; there can be no rest at all for the evolved soul. More and more work. And then, when you have mastered the art of doing more and more work in less and less time, you become like God in that you can do everything in one moment—but that work never stops. So He is eternally… and work is going on, you see—how from the grossest physical work where all your senses have to be employed, to the highest spiritual work where no senses are involved. That’s why you can sit in meditation, too. You don’t need to see. “But how can you work without seeing, Chariji? Suppose I am stitching and I prick my finger…”—read the story of the lady who pricked her finger.
So we must understand these things: how from the gross to the subtle means from senses to no senses, activity to no activity, time to no time. So that is, in short, the way of evolution.
Q: I am sorry to interrupt you, but dinner is ready.
Master: Oh, wow! [laughter] We come back to the world of senses. Enjoy your dinner. Bon appétit.