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Understanding Sahaj Marg
(7th February 2010, Kolkata, India)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
So attendance at satsanghs is all important. If anything can be more important, it is your individual sadhana, daily sadhana: morning meditation, evening cleaning, night prayer meditation — absolutely essential. Whatever happens during the day, this must not stop. Babuji Maharaj, many times confirmed that even if you have received an individual sitting from him, still our daily sadhana must go on.
Now I come to the most important thing, which is a clear and proper understanding of what Sahaj Marg is, what a spiritual life means and the clear distinction between my material life and my spiritual life. I have said it often enough that the material life is governed by the samskaras with which we come here. Nothing can change it. My physical structure cannot change. If you want to lose weight, you must go to the gym or walk or run, and not say, “I am meditating every day. Why am I overweight?” If you are underweight and skinny, you cannot put on weight just because you are a meditator.
Physical life has its own rules, has its own parameters, has its own techniques for proper living, to give you, as far as possible, what we call a good life. Not necessarily happy, not necessarily sad, but understanding that life is a mixture of sorrow and happiness, health and sickness, well-being and ill-being, good and bad, day and night. It is very necessary to emphasise this, and if you but look at the life of saints, how they have suffered, how they have lived steadfastly, holding on to that principle that the spiritual life must go on whatever may be the life’s circumstances. There have been famous saints like Raidas, like Kabir — very poorly endowed, materially speaking, and yet world-renowned. There have been the great rishis who left their homes, went into the forest, and meditated. Some of them are known; most of them are unknown. Our itihaasa [history] speaks only of the few like Vashishta, Vishwamitra, and so on. What about the millions, perhaps, through the history of this ancient land, who have gone unnoticed, unrecorded?
So, you see, my physical circumstance, whether I am a chamaar [tanner] or a dhobi [washerman] or a weaver or a multimillionaire, does not affect my spiritual life, should not affect my spiritual life. Similarly whether I am short or tall, perhaps even lame in one leg, perhaps without vision, it does not matter; my spiritual life must go on, in this clear understanding that my material life is one hundred percent what it is and will be because of samskaras, which, according to Babuji, even God cannot change. When somebody asked him what about blessings…. We have only to look at the Mahabharata serial to see how often Bhishma was blessing everybody: Dheerghaayushmaan bhava [May you be long-lived], Keertimaan bhava [May you be well-renowned], et cetera, et cetera. Everybody was blessing everybody else and within — what? — eighteen days of warfare, there was nobody left; even Bhishma was not left.
Babuji Maharaj said, “A blessing can bring forward what is in your future.” Suppose you say, “May you have wealth,” and you are today an un-wealthy person, the blessing can make you wealthy today instead of fifty years hence. Suppose a rishi like Durvasa curses you, it can only work if what he says in his curse is in your future according to your samskaras, not otherwise. No rishi, no God can bring into being something which is not governed by your samskaras.
I say this because I remember here so many abhyasis — especially one sister who was very close to me, saying she was my sister, left the Mission about a year or eighteen months ago when her husband passed away. She said, “If Sahaj Marg is Sahaj Marg, how can my husband die? It is cruel. Such a man cannot be a guru or a god.” She just left. We have not seen her since. Many others, when they have a business loss, they leave the Mission. Many, when something happens that they don’t want to happen, they quit the Mission. And unfortunately most of you who remain here are those who have not suffered as yet (don’t be afraid!) what samskaras perhaps have in store for us. When it comes, will you be steadfast? Will you remain here? Only your heart can tell you; because you have to determine that come what may, I am, I will and I shall continue to be an abhyasi, sincere in his efforts, knowing that when I have to quit even this body, everything else is subordinate to that final loss (if you think it is a loss).
I once asked Babuji Maharaj, “Isn’t it a very difficult thing to ask?” He said, “Yes, but without it there is no spirituality. You may live a million years, a million lives.” And he said, “Look at the great lives of people who, endowed with big powers, magical powers, great knowledge, Vedic knowledge, came and went, and their memory remains only because of the atrocities they committed, the destruction they heaped on people, and the people they murdered, even rishis.” Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Kamsa, Shishupala, these are only a few examples. There have been many lesser examples: tyrants who were swollen with their own ego, with their own pride, to the extent of saying, “Where is your God? Let me see Him. Tell that fellow to come before me.” Where are they? Similarly, where are the great rich people, the emperors? Janaka is known because he was a raajarishi. Who else is known? India has had so many chakravarthis (so many emperors), so many Mughal-e-azams [great Mughals].
So, you see, you people better understand that nothing will change in your physical life, material life, except it be in your samskara. A poor man will become rich, if it is in his samskara. A rich man will become poor, if it is in his samskara. A healthy man will become sick. A sick man may become healthy, all subject to your samskaras. Unless you understand this clearly, every one of you is in danger of leaving this Mission sometime or the other when something which you don’t want to happen, happens. People will die. When people are born, they will die. That which comes must go. That which is born, must die. That is the law. Even the avatars died. You know how Lord Krishna died — by an arrow in his foot. You know how Lord Rama died — he entered the Sarayu and went away.
So you see, when avatars have no existence except in their spiritual life, in their souls, who are we mere mortals to ask that I must be healthy, happy, wise and wealthy if I am going to be an abhyasi? And of course, foremost among all these demands is that of the ego. “My guru did not look at me today. He did not smile at me.” This is very popular with Western people. They expect that the guru should go around, compliment everybody, saying, “Good morning, everybody. Bonjour, everybody,” and then they smile, they are happy, and they sit in meditation. Otherwise they say, “Why, what is this? Why is he not respecting my presence here? Is there something wrong? I will choose a better person.” Of course you will find better persons, but will you find spiritual persons?
When you look for a guru, you look for one who can do what you want in your spiritual life. He may be polite, he may not be polite. He may be educated, he may not be educated. He may be strong, he may be weak. He may be rich, he may be poor. He may be like Janaka, an emperor, or like Kabir, a weaver or a chamaar, as we say, a leather worker. Great saints have been poor, have been nondescript, and as Babuji used to say about himself, “I have maybe done fourth class or fifth class.” But wisdom is not to be measured by the education that you receive. Wisdom is born with you; education is acquired, and it depends on you whether you have a degree or not, whether you are a PhD or not, or whether you go without any degrees through life and become a multimillionaire like most people are doing today.
How many people have you seen who are billionaires who are PhDs? PhDs are still working for a salary. Maybe they are called heads of department, heads of research, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, just to placate their egos that you are something here. But it is the man with luck, with no education often, who controls these PhDs and runs an empire of industry or otherwise. We don’t study enough the world around us. We don’t realise that a mere rickshaw puller may be a saint and after earning his ten rupees or a hundred rupees a day, he goes into some secret place where he has disciples whom he teaches.
So please don’t have any expectations at all for your personal, physical, material lives. Don’t judge your spiritual progress by all that suffering that you may have to undergo or the enjoyment that you may undergo. Don’t go to, say, Sheraton, and have a seven thousand rupee dinner with four of your friends and say, “God is great.” God is not great. It is a temptation on your part because you have the money, which you have because of your samskaras, and you should not link it to your spiritual life. “I am rich, therefore I must be spiritual.” “I am a PhD, therefore I must be spiritual.” “I run a business empire, therefore I must be spiritual.” Not at all. If you are these three things and yet you are spiritual, it is God’s grace that you have come on to the path, that you have faith enough to continue in it, which will be tested when something goes wrong. When a millionaire becomes a beggar, is he still able to say, “This is also God’s gift. He gave me wealth, popularity, power, fame. It is His to take away.”? Are we able to face life like that? Or will we, like my sister whom I referred to, say, “No, no, no. This is not spirituality.”?
So you see it is a very necessary understanding which is fundamental to your approach to your spiritual life, whether you are a real seeker or not, or whether good times bring you here and bad times will take you away. If good times bring you and bad times take you away, you are like the rubbish on a beach, flotsam and jetsam as they are called, brought in by the tide and taken out by the tide, something left to stink. Are we like that? Or are we steadfast? Are you always trying to judge your guru and saying, “Oh, he does not wash his mouth. He does not bathe every day. Hinduism says he must have a daily bath at 4:00 am” Suppose he asks you, “Are you bathing at 4:00 am every morning? Are you waking up according to the ten maxims of Sahaj Marg? Are you doing the second step — with respect to bodily and mental purity, meditate. Are you doing it? Are you doing the cleaning? Are you taking food as a gift?”
What are we doing with the ten maxims? We do nothing that is expected of us and we want everything that is promised by spirituality — imagining and translating it in our own minds to mean that my material life will be wonderful, I will have a beautiful compliant wife who will obey my every word, my car will never stop on the road because there is no petrol, my business will increase like this [gestures to indicate steady incline], year after year after year but never like this [gestures to indicate ups and downs]; then God is great, Babuji is great, Sahaj Marg is great.
I caution you — in fact I would like to say, I warn you — correct your impression of what spirituality will give you. Spirituality will give you a spiritual life and a liberation at the end of this life which nothing can give you — millions cannot give you, power cannot give you. There have been Genghis Khans, there have been Hitlers, there have been Mussolinis. It is easy to find them because if you are unfortunate enough, you would go where they are.
So please make up your minds. This is one part of my life; this is fixed. All that I can expect from spiritual life, from sincere meditation, from sincere compliance with the ten maxims, from obedience to the guru under all circumstances is that my life will be normalised. All abnormalities will be removed, and if that normality says I will have to beg for my living, or pull a rickshaw, or build a two hundred floor mansion worth seventy thousand crores, that will also be. But spirituality does not give it; spirituality normalises, removes such obstacles from your path as may affect your spiritual growth.
Babuji Maharaj gave this one thought to me, “Anything which stops your spiritual growth or is likely to stop your spiritual growth, nature will attend to.” That is the only promise we have, that spirituality takes care of my path, clears it. It is like a bulldozer which creates a road in front of the prime minister’s vehicle. He cannot say, “All the twenty thousand acres must be clean before I will come.” You have a right to tell your guru, “Lord, my path is strewn with thorns.” And he will smile and say, “Well, you need six inches of space for your feet. You will find it.”
I pray that all of you will give thought to this, and not let other circumstances allow you or permit you or force you or compel you to deviate from this path, because once lost, you may never find it again. And if you never find it again, well, we will come again and again and again like an actor going on the stage, evening after evening to play his part, not realising that he is condemned to that stage. I pray for you all.