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The Two Wings
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
Good morning, Mr. Director, Brother Lafranchi. With your permission I would like to address your class of scholars, drawn from I don’t know how many countries in this world. I’m afraid I talk too fast for you to translate simultaneously. And if I talk too slow, my mind does not work. It is a matter of our culture, you know—we talk fast, we talk continuously without even taking a breath! So you must excuse me, and I hope your people will translate into the respective languages later. Okay?
We all know that our life, according to Sahaj Marg teachings has two parts—two divisions, you know, the material or the worldly life, and the spiritual or other-worldly life. And Sahaj Marg teaches that we have to fly like birds with two wings—material, spiritual. Now, the pattern in India has been somewhat exclusive, because if you see the spiritual history of India from thousands of years—we can easily trace it back to ten thousand years, fifteen thousand years—the rishis or people who wanted spiritual welfare, spiritual growth, liberation, retired to the forest. And whatever they may have got personally (spiritual evolution, liberation) was not shared with the people of this country. They remained recluses in the forest, and society forgot them, except the very big names like Vashishta, Vishwamitra, you know, very top names. But the main thing to remember is that apart from leaving a bunch of teachings, like the Vedas, the Upanishads, they did not do anything practically to help the people of this land. The material half remained the material half. They had nothing to do with spirituality.
So you find the Indian people have been divided sharply between absolutely material and absolutely spiritual, without there being any balance. I think Sahaj Marg for the first time has attempted this balance, with my grand-master, Lalaji Maharaj, rediscovering the science of transmission and insisting that it should be for the householder —the married man, with children, family, working for his living—and not for the celibates alone. So, here you find for the first time a blending of the material and the spiritual life, which has been summarized in one sentence: Like a bird flying on two wings. Everybody here is a material person—we are all working, we all have families, we are married, we have children, we have responsibilities, and it is important to notice that my Master Babuji Maharaj does not actually appreciate the system of sannyasa or the celibate monkish life because he says they have run away from the responsibilities of life.
You know, according to the ancient Hindu tradition, or shall I say, yogic tradition, one of the duties of life is to continue life by propagating life. Therefore, in that sense, every human being has a duty to society to have a child, so that Nature’s purposes continue to be propagated. In the ancient Vedic culture, the first-born child is called dharmaja—born out of dharma, you see—that is from a sense of this responsibility to the stream of life. The subsequent children are known as kamaja—born out of desire. So you see, there is a distinction between the child you give to society as your duty to that society and the children you have out of desire for your wife, love for your wife, et cetera. So the family life has been very important, not to be set asunder, because in adopting a celibate life and becoming a sannyasi, one of your duties to society has been lost. This you have to recognize because many people ask why Sahaj Marg does not advocate celibacy; it is for this reason.
Second thing is what Babuji Maharaj said, that God is not a fool to create two sexes if one was enough. I mean, we see so many things with just one sex, you know. We see many with two sexes, like the leech. I don’t know what you call the leech (the worm-like thing which is a hermaphrodite; it is both a male and female)—you see it on cows, cattle generally, sucking blood. It has both sexes. And the amoeba has no sex; it divides. So God has provided for everything. But in the human being, He has provided distinctly for two sexes, to provide for this propagation of life. We do not have children; we are propagating life, you know. Like when a company sets up branches, it is not having children; it is growing in a particular direction—of a branch in New Zealand, one in Australia, one in Timbuktu, one in Kazakhstan. Like the big companies—Ford Motors, Johnson & Johnson; all these companies you see. So that is the growth of life itself, like the river flowing, you see. If there is no water being added, the river will dry up. So the life-stream is known as a river of life. So that is a very important duty we have as human beings: not to be selfish to look after our own spirituality, but to propagate life and continue to be spiritual.
Now, of course, we all have worldly duties. The moment you have a child, you become responsible for it, for its proper training, for its maintenance of its physical health, for its education—all this you have to fulfil. So you have to work; whereas a sannyasi sits under a tree, and people from the village bring him his food, his milk and he is happy. He doesn’t work. He works for himself where others feed him. In the family life, we work, feed our family, and also contribute something to the social welfare of our countries, our people.
Now Shri Ram Chandra Mission, when it was originally registered in 1945 by my Master, has been designed mainly for the spiritual purpose of humanity. We wish to preserve that spiritual purpose as an exclusive purpose of the Mission. If you read its constitutional bye-laws, of course, there are provisions that we should support so many things, and we should offer so many free things. All that is there. But in my intention not to dilute Sahaj Marg in the Mission, I created a second organisation known as the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation. This has a wider social purpose than Shri Ram Chandra Mission. It also has meditation like Shri Ram Chandra Mission, it has Sahaj Marg, but it has a much wider scope for social welfare like health benefits to people who need it, free education for children, medical services like we have in our ashrams in so many places, free food and lodging in our ashrams, which is again provided by the Foundation.
So the Foundation has this specific purpose of keeping spirituality, but with the addition of material benefits like education, health, free food and lodging for—what we are called—pilgrims; we are all pilgrims, you see. We are abhyasis, because in Sanskrit abhyaas means to learn, and an abhyasi is one who undergoes a process of learning, that is, a student. An abhyasi is a student. A disciple is one who is dedicated to this purpose. Disciple comes from the word ‘discipline.’ So if you are disciplined and an abhyasi, you become a disciple, whereas for the social purpose, you are all pilgrims. And pilgrims in India have been fed from time immemorial, in what we call choultries—places built by rich people along the road of pilgrimage, every five kilometres, six kilometres, especially in the Himalayas which has been a home of pilgrimage for centuries. When you go there, you have to walk. In the old days they had no buses, no roads, no transport. People walked. And so every five or six kilometres, there is a so-called choultry, where you could sleep for the night—bedding was given, vessels were provided, your food cooked. You rested the night and next morning you went to the next place. Like that they went up to the place called Badrinath you know, which is situated at about four thousand metres in the Himalayas. You know, people went there from all over India, even from the South, and sometimes it took them three years to come back, if at all they came back, because many died of diseases on the way, animals, snakes; and along the Himalayas, along the path if they fell, they were finished. So at a rough estimate I would say, if a hundred people went to places like the Badrinath, maybe twenty returned alive. We don’t know actually why, because India has never been a statistical country in that sense, you see.
India has no sense of history; other countries can speak of so many things, you see. But in our country, unfortunately, we have no historical sense, and there is also this attitude towards our sacred literature that they were given straight from above, and therefore they have no authors. The Vedas have no authors, the Upanishads have no authors. It is the lesser class of teaching known as the Puranas and the itihaasas which have human authorship. Therefore we have two clear distinct patterns of teachings available—one called the shruti, the other called the smriti. Shruti—that which has been heard as revealed knowledge; smriti—that which we have got through our own intellectual process, which is lesser because it is human in origin; the other is divine in origin.
So Sahaj Marg in Shri Ram Chandra Mission sticks to the shruti part of it. In Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation we come to the smriti part of it where we teach, where we learn from books: Sahaj Marg books, other books. For instance you all saw in Bangalore, the CREST (Centre for Research, Education, Sadhana and Training). We will have classes there, where everything will be taught—all religions will be taught: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, you know, just to name a few. There will be lectures from people belonging to those religions who can teach us without religious bias, I mean people who come not to convert but to teach. There is a distinct difference, you see. The Christian padre, the Islamic mullah, go not to teach but to convert. We teach to teach—not to convert.
So, we will be teaching all these religions so that our abhyasis, our prefects have a fundamental appreciation of what religion means. Because, like you know what a human being is—if you study ten human beings, you know the basics of human beings—that they are all the same in vital things; they are different in superficial things like the face, the size of the ear, the nose, et cetera. Fundamentally, human beings are two classes: male and female. The difference, we all know. The common things, we all know. So if you study half a dozen, you know what human beings are. Then it is only a question of minor variations in details.
Similarly, when we study these religions and we are taught them in our Spirituality Foundation institutes—there will be two, one in Bangalore and one here in Calcutta and Kharaghpur. Insha-Allah, next year a batch may go to Karaghpur also, just to see what is going on. So, you will be taught all these religions—not in depth, but people who can speak in depth will be there to give us a summary of the basics of those religions in, say, two or three lectures, like you heard brother Kannan speak to you about Hinduism. Then we will be taught something of psychology.
The whole day’s routine will start at 4:30 in the morning. They will get up, wash, and do their own meditation; go out at half past five for one hour in the outer air, doing exercise, walking, jogging, whatever they want. Because we don’t want to forget the material bodily life; it must also be healthy. You know the old saying ‘mens sana in corpore sano’—a healthy mind makes for a healthy body; mind in meditation, body in exercise—balance. Then after that they will come, have their bath, their breakfast at 8 o’clock, 8:30. At 9:30 classes will begin. There will be only four hours of classes—9:30 to 1:00 o’clock. Then they have lunch. The afternoon is free so that they can go to the library, read, meditate, write, do what they want. They will be provided with the most modern projection methods so that we will project DVDs, lectures chosen from various topics in the world.
There will also be some instruction on our civic responsibilities as citizens of this planet. What is our civic responsibility? Do we keep the world at least as clean as we found it when we were born—at least, if not bettering it, as Babuji Maharaj said we should? What should we do to keep it at least as clean as we find it? Things like that you see: personal hygiene, civic hygiene, social hygiene, moral hygiene. What is moral hygiene? Not to allow thoughts to enter your head which can disturb you, corrupt you, because everything according to the Vedic psychology begins here [in the mind]. What begins as a thought crystallizes into action and leads to the result. So, if you want to stop anything from happening, it must be stopped here [in the mind]. How do we gain that regulatory control over the mind? Surely through meditation. Therefore the foundation cannot avoid meditation. It cannot keep meditation aside and say that Shri Ram Chandra Mission is the spiritual wing; the Foundation is the material wing. No! That is where both mix, you see, and that is where the body of the bird comes, which controls both wings. When you want to turn you go like this; you want to turn this way you go like this [imitating a bird’s flight]. Otherwise you keep going straight. You understand? Even a plane has to [gestures] take turns. Birds don’t do that but they dip their wings.
So between the Foundation and Shri Ram Chandra Mission, there must be a balance which can provide for navigation of the individual’s concerns through life—because actually we are navigators going through a very troubled field. Either it is [like an] ocean voyage or flying like a bird. Sometimes it is serene, safe, quiet, happy. Sometimes there is a storm and the bird goes like this [gestures]. But if it is trained and if it is well maintained, it is strong, it can still manage to reach its destination, minus a few feathers perhaps. So it happens to us also. We lose our equanimity, we lose our pride, you know, because pride must go first. They say, pride goeth before a fall; that means we fall. So we must have the sense of discrimination to know when we should continue, and when we should stop and rest. Remember, Babuji Maharaj said, all illness is because we have neglected our health and Nature gives us a knock on the head and puts us to bed. They come because we invite them through our neglect of ourselves. Spiritual neglect, we do not feel until we become asuric [demonic] in nature. Then it is too late. Similarly if you neglect physical health and it is too late—the burial ground, the kabristan. Isn’t it?
So the Foundation will be ninety percent oriented to social and physical life; Shri Ram Chandra Mission will be oriented ninety-nine percent towards spirituality. Between the two, they will balance each other. Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation will provide the money for everything: the training places, the Institutes. We will be building six or seven, what we call, Retreat Centres where there will be no teaching but people can go, stay for three days, one week, one month, and just be in retreat, introspect, meditate—only spiritual meditation. One of them will be Malampuzha, which we saw in Kerala. You all went there. There will be five or six of them: Malampuzha, Pune, Baroda, Ambala in Punjab, and one in the South, in Kodaikanal perhaps.
So this is how the Foundation will support the Mission and the Mission will support the Foundation—mutually supporting each other, it goes in a circle, and it’s like a bicycle moving forward. You realise that when a bicycle is moving, at the bottom the wheel is going this way and at the top, it is going this [the opposite] way. Now, unless you know the mechanics of circular motion, you will say, “How is it possible that one part is moving this way, one part is moving the other way and yet the cycle is moving forward?” If this does not move backward, this cannot move forward. So, spiritual life has to be backward as far as the material life is concerned. The material life has to move forward without neglecting the spiritual. That is why the wheel is one. Therefore apparently one part moves backward, one moves forward but the whole thing is moving forward. You understand?
So, this is the purpose of Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation. One thing you have seen is our school—Lalaji Memorial School. I believe you saw it yesterday. Now we are going to build a second, enormous, block which will start next week. There will be five buildings. The first one you have seen is only the primary block for future. And the second block is going to cost a million dollars, which starts next week. The money is given by the Foundation, so all donations go to the Foundation; the Foundation releases money. So far the Foundation has given almost two million dollars to the school. People all over the world are asking to open similar schools in their countries. Unfortunately this is not possible because, especially in Occidental countries, they have their own very rigid rules to protect their institutions and their children. I don’t know what sort of protection they give which denies real education to the people. You all know that in the United States, they have special buses for the children and those buses are sacred, you know. If there is any accident, the other car is to blame, the other bus is to blame. People who drive at two hundred miles an hour, stop when they see the yellow bus, and they overtake it very carefully so that they don’t violate rules. But after the children get out, nobody knows what happens to them! Are we protecting the bus? Are we protecting the children? Whom are we educating?
Education must be free to a mind. There must be no rigid discipline which says, you must not study this or that, because without a free mind, we cannot absorb anything. Like, you know, concrete will not absorb water because it is not free. Wood will absorb something. Cotton will absorb a lot. You want this to be very absorbent, and for that you have to create a climate of freedom, friendliness, and a certain sense of equality between the teacher and the taught—the students. Our school is committed to these principles. Of course a great deal depends on our teachers, as everything does, you see. Like Sahaj Marg depends on the prefects. Now we have made so many prefects here. How the Mission is going to progress in your countries depends on you. If you have love for your people, for your country, you will work well. If you say, “Oh, it is okay, I had a free trip to India—good holiday. May they be blessed!” neither you will grow nor spirituality will grow in your countries. So, you are an opportunity for your people. Each one of you represents an opportunity for the spiritual life of your people in your country. This was again made possible by the Foundation, because the Foundation gives you the scholarships, it pays for your training here and for your flight up and down.
So you see what all we accomplish, or are trying to accomplish through the Foundation. I want you to have a fundamental understanding of the two organisations, which are separate and yet are mingled in so many ways that you cannot really separate them. It is like a couple you know, like a man and a woman joined in marriage. Of course, if you think, “I can divorce my wife,” then that is not marriage at all, because you don’t begin by thinking of divorce. I remember a couple came to me to be married in Augerans. And they said, “Chariji, I hope we remain married and don’t have to divorce within six months.” I said, “For heaven’s sake, when you come to get married, you are already talking of possible divorce—it will not work.” See, when you are born, you want to live long. When you get a good job, you want to be paid a lot of money, without limit, more and more. But when you marry, you want to set a limit even on the date of your marriage? How will it survive? So our attitude is something which we have to change. And the attitude comes from here [the mind] to here [the heart]. And this [the mind] has again to be regulated by meditation. So you see, these two organisations can play a most important, vital part in your life, if you permit it to do so. I hope you will, and I pray for you all.