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The Value of Self-Effort
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
We thank our sister for giving us these dohas and the bhajan. Babuji certainly liked some bhajans, but he also used to warn me that they reflect what we call wishful thinking. "Oh Lord! I am like this. Don't leave me alone. Be merciful." You know, after all this is a cry for mercy.
Now the essence of Sahaj Marg is that God does not differentiate. He is the Creator, no? But, His creation has to evolve, by willing to evolve, by working to evolve. It is our responsibility. So there is a little, shall we say, problem here that Sahaj Marg does not depend on God's mercy, on God's anything. It only depends on God's grace, and that is available to everybody. The cows have it, the goats have it, the sheep have it. You have it. I have it. Now, having that, if the goat remains a goat, and the sheep remains a sheep, what is the use of that grace? So, we have to use it, you see. And that is what Sahaj Marg is all about: how to use the grace, which comes to us in the form of divine teachings, divine practice, and somebody who can lead us through those two angas, teaching and practice, to evolve into that which we have to become.
You know, Babuji said, "Prayer is begging." He was very definite about it. And even a prayer for evolution, I suppose, is a sort of begging, an act of begging. What we should be doing, we are asking for; there is a big difference. The other day somebody told me he had a language paper, in examination, and surprisingly he passed, because he wrote nothing except to say, "Please forgive me. I have not learnt this language well." I suppose the man who was examining took a little pity on him and said, "Well, let me not spoil his future," and gave him pass marks. That's okay, you see. In the worldly way we do these things. Judges are supposed to treat us with mercy. The president of a country is supposed to have mercy, so we have mercy petitions even for criminals.
But, Sahaj Marg is very specific about the role of samskara. It is I who have created my samskara, God did not create it. I created it by my thoughts and by my actions. And it is like this, you see - a thought is something like a vibration. Energy is manifested as much in a thought as in a deed. Now if I do this [he claps] you hear a sound. I did it. Once it is let loose, I have no more any control over it. I cannot pull it back. That is why we have to be cautious about the way we think, about what we do. And that is why Babuji says, we do the cleaning every evening. But it is not enough, because although the samskaras are being removed, by your own cleaning, by the preceptors doing the cleaning, by the Master doing the cleaning, if you continue to live your life as you have always lived it, you are piling up samskaras all over again.
It is like, you know, some houses where there is a lady always sweeping the floor because the children are throwing stuff on it, the boss of the house is smoking and throwing ash on the floor and throwing cigarette stubs - never clean. So, cleanliness means not only cleaning, but maintaining that cleanliness. We don't do it, whether it is in our toilets or in our kitchens or in our bedrooms. We have this ritualistic cleaning every day, but then we dirty it. Therefore we have to clean day after day, day after day, day after day, ad nauseum. So, Sahaj Marg is very specific: the role of God, as I have understood Sahaj Marg, is to provide us with a Guru, a teaching and a method of practice. The rest is up to us, because, it appears that God cannot intervene for the sake of the individual. I mean, the individual is, in His eyes, perhaps, not even seen. Can we see an atom? Can we see the nucleus of the atom? We cannot. I mean I cannot even see my own stomach or my heart inside me - and they are fairly big.
So, though music is good to listen to, Babuji was always suspicious of music. He used to come and listen sometimes, to some ghazals also. A few minutes, paanch minit [five minutes], you see. Then he said, "When the mind is beginning to be absorbed, we must stop it." Because the mind is now pulled in a different direction from remembrance of the Master, or constant remembrance. So this question of attraction and repulsion, you see, it is a very big thing in Sahaj Marg. If anything is tending to attract you to such an extent that your remembrance is being affected, stop! Run away. Turn your face. Babuji used to say that all you have to do is to change your direction from here to here, and the job is done. But once you have created that attraction, it is like a chumbak, a magnet - once it has picked up a piece of iron it will not let go easily.
That is how we suffer for our thoughts and our wrongly-placed attention on the external world, the objects of the external world. We are like children. A child wants a particular toy, and until it gets it, it will weep, it will throw tantrums; but if the parent is wise, he can divert the mind's attention in a trice. And neither the child suffers, nor does the parent.
Here we are not children, we are adults. So Babuji says, "You have to do it. I have given you the method, you have to do it." "But can you not do it for me Babuji?" "Yes, of course," he says, "but why should I do it? How are you more deserving than the billions of people in the rest of the world?" Something you have done, something in your past, like that story, Sound of Music, "somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good." That has brought us here. Now we must continue to do something good, that is, work upon ourselves.
It is like you go to school: the school does not pass you, you pass the examinations. People are wrongly blaming schools, teachers. "No, no sir, my child was doing well, but the teacher, you know, she failed my child." No teacher fails the child, no school fails the child, no college fails the child. No life fails us. We fail ourselves - by not doing what we should do, when we should do it.
So you see, the responsibility for evolution is very much in you. There is no external source of evolution. My life is inside me. My heart is vibrating all my life. Dub, dub, dub, dub, you know. And what this lady sang, "Dhai akshar prem ka" - two and a half letters of the alphabet join together to make the Hindi word prem, love, that is what takes us, because I believe love carries a unique vibration which is, in some way, resonant with the divine vibration.
That is why we say, "God is love." God does not love, God is love. And when we love, God becomes or makes us Godly. Of course, we should not confuse this with worldly love, with romance, you know, sitting under the mango tree, and eating ice-cream on your scooter with your boyfriend. That is not the love we are talking about. We are talking about love as something from the heart, which is totally detached, dispassionate, and universal in its application. As God loves all, we must also love all. "Yes boss, but should I not marry someone and love him or love her?" Yes, of course, but that is a love which is different. That is a wordly love; we call it affection. Babuji Maharaj said, "Love is only for God." People are always confused in this world, whether you are black or white, man or woman, born in Timbuctoo or Johannesburg. We always find it difficult to love, and to receive love. Now people should learn from this - that love is not for us. But we don't draw that conclusion.
You know, it is like a man going to an ATM and no money is coming out. Another going, and no money coming out. A third going and no money coming out. How many people will go to that ATM? Or putting a bucket down a well and there is no water coming out. Will you go on, one after another, putting buckets into the well, and saying there is no water in the well? You should stop and find another well.
So the secret is that we cannot love, nor can we receive love, because love is from God alone and is for God alone. This is the teaching of Sahaj Marg, excuse me, it is my Master's teaching, it is a sacred teaching, it is a truthful teaching. What we have in the world is affection, friendship. Kama and krodha, Babuji Maharaj said, are divine attributes, while the shastras say it is one of the six, or two of the six which are bad. Kama, krodha, moha, lobha, mada, matsarya. Hinduism says, dharma says. Babuji says no, kama and krodha are God given attributes. Moha, lobha, mada, matsarya are our creations. What you have for a boyfriend or he has for you is moha. You understand the difference?
Moha means initially, attraction. If you allow it to develop, it can become obsessive. And if it becomes an obsession it can lead to even tragic consequences. Love never leads to tragic consequences. Love never accepts, love gives. That is why a mother's love is praised in our Hindu culture - maatru prem, mamta. It is the only undemanding, unselfish love. To such an extent Babuji praised it that he said that there are so many ways in which we can accept the Guru, but the best is to accept the Guru as your mother. So you see, kama and krodha are God-given attributes, Kama for God, Love for God. Krodha or anger towards all enemies of God, Anything that is an enemy of the divine existence, must make us angry. Not mundane things, but anything which interferes with the establishment of divine order on earth, must make us angry. So there is no room for ahimsa in a spiritual life. If you are unable to do it, you can pray. Like we see the rishis going and doing fariyaad [a cry for help] before Lord Narayan, you know, and he comes as an avatar, as Rama, as Krishna, whatever. That is when the job exceeds our capacity. But as long as I am capable, I must not ask for divine help.
If your son cannot do his mathematics, you say, "Son, you have to do it. I cannot do your homework for you, because if I do it for you, you will never learn." Isn't it? "No, no I love my son," and he fails, he gets zero in his mathematics exam. Why, because he never did anything, you do it. You take the same parallel example in religion: you do not do anything. You call the priest and he does it. If anybody should get the reward, he should get it, not you. Isn't it? But he does not understand that. He is faithless, both to God and to you, and because you do not know about prayer - blum blum [mimicking a pundit] - he goes like that and he takes your money. So, God curses him, you curse him; that is why they say pundits will be reborn as dogs in their next life. This is written in the Shastra. Because they cheat; they cheat in the temple, in the church. They pray without faith. They cut the prayer short because you do not know the prayer. [Mimics a pundit pretending to recite Sanskrit.]
So religion is a waste, it is stupid, because what you do not do, you cannot get anything for it. This is the law of work. I work, I get. I work upon myself, my Self benefits. You cannot ask your father to meditate for you, and say, "Babaji, aap dhyan kariye do ghante, mein zara ho aata hoon." ["Dad, you meditate for a two hours, I will be back soon."] No? You know, we laugh at it when we are told, but it is very true. We are doing it all our lives. We send someone to the exam hall to write your papers for you. Yeh bhi hota haj aaj kal imtihaan mein. [This too happens in exams nowadays.] You give him ten thousand rupees. You might get away with the exam, but you will lose your job when you get it, because you do not know how to write, how to read, you do not know the rules. Isn't it?
Remember, what you do not earn, you cannot keep, whether it is respect, whether it is money, whether it is position, whether it is power, whether it is the grace of God Himself. Babuji Maharaj said, I can give but I can also take it back, whereas if you earn by your own self-effort, even God cannot take it away from you. That is the value of self-effort, dedicated self-effort, knowing self-effort, knowing that I am doing, I am the beneficiary of my work, whether it is by thought, my word or by deed. So, let us learn these lessons properly, let us apply them in our lives. Let us grow, in such fashion that we cannot fall again.