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The Transformation through Sahaj Marg
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
I thought Lord Krishna was arrogant, because he goes on saying, “I am,” “This is Me,” “Worship only Me,”—all sorts of funny things. So when I read the Gita for the first time, I said, “What an arrogant person this guy is!” But much later, maybe thirty years later, when people started saying I am very arrogant (they still say this) [chuckles], I told Babuji, “This is a constant complaint.” He said, “Look, when you tell the truth, it is not arrogance.” And he explained this by saying, “If you have passed M.A., and you say, ‘I have passed M.A.,’ it is not arrogance, but if you’ve only gone through Matric. [Matriculation] and you say, ‘I am M.A.,’ that is not only a lie, it is also arrogance, it is pride.” This is just a clarification of one point.
You know, I am always surprised that so many of you are scholars, many of you are well read, widely read, intelligent. Have you ever asked yourself this question, “What is transformation?” Anyone? Nobody?!
Abhyasi: To ultimately become like the Master.
PR: Well, that is too simplistic an answer. The answer is that nothing in this Universe can affect my soul. The soul is eternal, it is an amsha [part] of the Divine, and therefore it is like the Divine; so there is no sadhana—no practice, no tapasya [askesis], no havan [religious offering], no any nonsense, no right living, no wrong living, which can affect the soul. So, what are we doing here? I am afraid we people don’t think, because I should have had at least one abhyasi asking me this question, one every year: “Sir, what are we doing here? You say the soul is immutable, eternal, anaadi, anantam, divyaamsham [without beginning or end, an essential part of the Divine]; so what are you transforming?” Anybody?
PR: I’m sorry. That is the wrong answer.
PR: No, when you say, pranasya prana [life of life], and when you say the body lives by the soul, the soul too needs some sustenance—and that is this pranasya prana—the prana of the prana. That also doesn’t answer the question. What we are transforming is only our outer self, the body in which the soul is embodied. Through the actions of this embodiment, we create samskaras which affect the soul and either keep it down or allow it to go up. So what we are really transforming is our attitude to life, our behaviour, and to have a permanent consciousness of our goal. Now, if this is properly understood, we understand why we do cleaning; we understand why we have to have right living, we understand the purpose of love.
Now, Narayan kept talking about role-playing. Are we really role-playing? I beg to say, no! We are aping. We are trying to copy. We are not emulating but copying or trying to copy. If you wish to emulate, then you don’t play a role. You know, when we act on the stage we are role-players. One day you act Rama, one day you act Lakshmana, one day you act Ravana—but you are the same person. And if you carry that role-playing too far and become too imbued with that part you are playing, it can become a tragedy, because there is a real example, a real life example, of a Shakespearean actor who played his part so well that he killed Desdemona on the stage. He was too involved in the part he was playing. This is our problem.
When Babuji says, “You are trustees; you own nothing,” you don’t own your wife, you don’t own your children, you don’t own your father—nothing. I am. And this ‘I’ is always eternally alone, connected only to his creator. You understand? But we fall into this terrible mistake of “My family. I have to please my wife. I have to keep her happy, otherwise she won’t send me to satsangh,”—gone! From moksha [liberation], you have come to bandham [bondage]. Why is this possible? Because instead of loving your wife, you are attached to your wife. Babuji used to say that love is possible only between a bhakta [devotee] and his ‘Devudu’—his God. That is a relationship of love. When Arjuna asked Lord Krishna, “Why do you want to show me your divine self?” he says, “Arjuna, because I love you.” Only love can create a bond where the giver gives, and the receiver receives without knowing he is receiving.
In attachment, we have to play roles. There are no husbands who love their wives; I have said this a hundred times. And I have never had anybody angry with me, or trying to say, “No, no, you are wrong.” It is a fact. All the relationships on earth are created due to mutual need, mutual dependence, mutual fulfilment, whatever. The famous Upanishad says, Yagnavalkya says, “Not for the sake of the wife is the wife dear to the husband, my dear; it is for the sake of the self that the wife is dear to the husband.” And per contra, “Not for the sake of the husband is the husband dear to the wife,” lest they should think it is one-sided because women have this, you know—“Oh, yes, we are always loving.” “Not for the sake of the husband is the husband dear to the wife my dear, but for the sake of the self is the husband dear.”
So, you see, it is a mutually selfish, self-centred, need-based, security-based, satisfaction-based (emotional satisfaction—not love) relationship. Therefore when one partner leaves, you feel miserable, you feel sad. I’ve heard husbands saying when their wives died, “Oh, what will I do without my wife now? Who will look after me? Who will cook for me? Who will wash my clothes?” Me, me, me, me, all the time, you know. And what does the husband do when the wife goes? All her jewellery is removed and if you ask him, “Why, if you loved your wife so much, shouldn’t you allow her jewellery to go with her?” “No, no, sir, law says, spiritual law says, religion says, ‘She must go as she came, nanga—naked.’” We always use arguments suitable to our situation. You see? And then there is a fight. Who will get these jewels, the daughters or the daughters-in-law? Who?
So, you see, all these problems are created by false role-playing. Now what is real role-playing? If I am sitting as a preceptor, first of all I must imagine the Master is sitting in my position. I am not there. This is clearly written in our books. How many of you are doing this? Thought makes you what you want to be. If you want to be brave, you can be brave. If you want to be afraid, you can be afraid. There is no such thing as fear and bravery in the human being. One man sees a fierce dog barking and he is walking along, and the dog does nothing to him. Another man cringes you know, and tries to go by the side, and the dog runs after him. The dog doesn’t know; the dog reacts to what we think at that moment. We transmit our fear or our courage to the dog. Everything in life is a transmission. But if I imagine the Master is sitting there, now it becomes His transmission. But our ego prevents us and says, “No, no, Parthasarathi. You are sitting here.” Because then we can claim, “I am successful. I gave twenty-four sittings,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, you know.
This is the most important thing to understand—that the soul has no transformation, needs no transformation and will eventually return to the Maker. But since we are embodied, we are like a man in a prison, who knows eventually he’ll be let out when he dies. You know, if he is a lifer, only his body will go out. There too, if he can understand that his soul is eternally free, he will not suffer. We have heard stories of Shri Aurobindo in jail. He meditated, wrote books. How was it possible? Because he was looking to his inside, and doing what the inside dictated.
So the crux of spiritual practice—which religion does not know anything about because religion talks about bath: bath in the Ganga, bath in the Yamuna, bath in the Saraswati, whatever it is, you see, or in the temple tank. As if a bath can clean my soul! What does it clean? It can only clean the dirt on my body. But a dip in a temple tank often adds more dirt to you than you went in with. Everybody knows this. Therefore Sahaj Marg says: meditation, cleaning, prayer. And what are we cleaning in this? Again, we think we are cleaning the soul of its samskaras? Wrong! Soul has no samskaras. Soul is like something to which samskaras are attached, which keeps dragging it down. It is like a balloon with a brick tied to it. Cut that string and the balloon flies. Isn’t it?
Also you must think, you see, that the soul is like a thing in a train. It goes where the train goes. Within the train, there is a certain freedom. If you get out of it, you have to start your journey all over again. So in that journey, if you don’t achieve your destination and get out of the train (that is liberation)—if you don’t do it, you have to get into another train, go to your destination all over again or try to go there. And the faster the vehicle, the less freedom you have. If you are in a plane, you get there faster but you cannot wander around and do shopping, smoke a cigarette; it is not possible. So the more speedy your progress, or the vehicle which promises you speedy progress, less and less freedom you have.
Discipline is nothing but understanding this principle, that eventually, I may even be travelling all alone in a space craft, which will take me probably at nine-tenths the speed of light—velocity of light. I cannot look for companions. I cannot look for security. I am the operator, I am the vehicle, I am the passenger going towards the destination—no companionship. Yet there is a companion, who gives me instructions from time to time, and if I don’t obey it precisely, I’ll never reach my goal. I’ll be wandering around the open spaces of the universe eternally. These are the poor souls which will never reach their destination. Because it is like a space craft where one man has escaped into space and cut his cord—you can never find him and call him back.
So you see, a right understanding of Sahaj Marg, I am afraid… I’ve been in this system for thirty-five years, forty years—I joined the Mission in ’64. I’m waiting for somebody to ask me, “Sir, what are you really doing?” because we are going by this routine, soul-killing routine, of talking about body, this, that, right living. What is right living except the understanding that if I live in any other way, I’m not going to my destination? If a man who is walking gets drunk, he’ll fall into the gutter. Somebody will have to pick him up. Isn’t it? If I eat wrong food, I’ll be looking for a toilet all the time; I won’t be going home.
Right living is nothing but the recognition that there are principles to be applied which, if I don’t follow, I will stay where I am. Now, what is it that we all have to have, as a divine amsha [part], as the soul is? What is it that we say God is?
PR: Love. Are we love? So when we say I love you and all this nonsense, it is humbug, it is fraud, we are cheating. But if you sit in your place and put the Master there, then it is possible because He loves. Now I have often tried to correct this statement that God loves me, Master loves me; I say “rubbish.” When he is eternally fixed in his consciousness, he doesn’t know what the other is. There is no ‘other.’ So what is he to love? Whom is he to love? So he is love. Therefore when others come near him, they feel that love and we say, “He loves me.” Like a mango is a mango to everybody. Isn’t it? Like a rose is a rose to everybody. You can’t say it is flowering only for me.
This is a very important understanding that you must get in your heart that they don’t love anybody, but because He is love, I feel His love when I go near him. Like I feel the heat of the fire when I go near the fire. When I open the door of the fridge, I feel cold. When I go into the garden, I smell smells. Because He is love, there is nobody yet who has said, “The Master hates me.” Have you found anybody? If he was a human being, which of course he was, but with certain limitations, you would have said, “Oh, Master loves him but not me.” But you say, “Master loves me.” People who have never seen Babuji, because they came into Sahaj Marg after he passed away, and yet they say, “Babuji loves me.” How is this possible? Honey is honey to everybody. Orange is orange to everybody. Isn’t it? Why? Because it is what it is. Therefore God says, “I am what I am. If I was anything else, you’d all feel me differently. And because I am love, I can love nobody, you have to feel it. And to feel it, you have to come nearer and nearer Me, and one day you’ll find that you are like Me and now people will be saying, ‘He loves me’.” Isn’t it?
So this is the truth of the Sahaj Marg system. You see, we must understand that like Lord Krishna, even questions of morality don’t apply. Because in his state, what you call the sthita prajna—one who’s consciousness is eternally fixed—he has a work, a job to do. And how to achieve that job? It comes in his divine consciousness. It is achieved. And when it is achieved, he is not responsible. In the Gita he says: I don’t have any duties, and the effects of my work do not affect me. Nothing affects me because I do it with total love—like a doctor who cuts me with a surgical instrument out of desire to cure me, not to harm me. Isn’t it?
So Lord Krishna says, “Na maam karmaani limpanti—duties don’t adhere to me. I have nothing to do with duties. I have no duties. Na me karmaphale sprihaa—nor do the phala [result] of karma [actions] attach themselves to me because I am and I am not. In my human self, I manifest, whenever there needs correction; in my divine self, I am what I am. Look at me Arjuna,” and he shows him the Vishvaroopa-darshana [the vision of the Cosmic form], of which Arjuna is afraid. Because he still doesn’t love his God, or his Master or his companion where fear is no longer manifest. If there is any fear in love, that is not love. This we have to understand. “No, no, sir, I am afraid of my wife.” Then you say, “My wife loves me!” “I am afraid of my son. I don’t know what he will do.” Attachment! “I am afraid of my dog! Sometimes it [makes a growling sound] at me.” Your own dog?!
So, you see, these are all examples of false role-playing. In real role-playing, there is no play. At the human level, we can play games with ourselves—at the human level. That is what Narayan called role-playing, which is relevant to corporate role-playing, matrimonial role-playing. We are all playing roles for selfish reasons. We don’t give anything to anybody out of charitable impulse. So all our role-playing is self-centred. What will I get out of it? In the divine role play—what will they get from me?
So prefects when they sit, must sit as if the Master is there; it is His work. Then we have the authority to say, Master is doing everything; I have nothing to do.