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Use your Self to Change Yourself
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
Dear brothers and sisters, I am very old to start with, and today I am very tired too. So, when I walk my feet stumble, when I talk my words may stumble—so please be prepared to excuse me.
I only wish to say some general things because all of you know what to do. But there are certain facts we have to bear in mind, which my Master Babuji Maharaj used to emphasise, such as culture, character, behaviour. Culture does not mean music and dance and arts alone. Culture is something of a total human expression—even the way in which the person expresses himself or herself so that he or she is perfectly in harmony with the environment, with nature, and with himself. If you are not in harmony with yourself, you cannot be in harmony with anything else, of course.
You know the old saying, “Charity begins at home.” Here charity very much begins at home; culture begins with us. Such a culture is a truly human culture; it is not adivasi [tribal], it is not Hottentots, it is not of the Australian Aborigines. Those are patterns of culture which we are trying to examine under a microscope and trying very hard to preserve. We have to understand one thing: that Nature decides what we preserve and what we don’t preserve. I am not saying that we should not have a humanitarian outlook towards whales, and fish and human beings. We should. But in the final analysis, Nature decides.
You know those big monstrous animals we had which were wiped out supposedly, according to science, by a meteor which struck the earth? I am referring to the dinosaurs. My Master emphasises that all forms of life are nature’s experiments in trying to create that perfect form which will fulfil His plans. Please remember this. We have this arrogance that the human being is the highest. No doubt, till now we are the highest. But will we remain the highest? It is like a race you know; the man who is leading in the beginning need not necessarily end up winning the race. He may falter, he may fall. The race is his who wins it, not the one who begins to lead from the very beginning. Therefore ambition is out of place.
In our life too, we can judge what our life has been only when we are at the end of life. When we can look at ourselves and say, “I did my best. This I am, my Lord. Accept me as I am. I have tried to fulfil Your purpose on earth. If I have succeeded, it is Your mercy, it is Your grace. All that I have failed [at] is my failure.” This is not praising God, this is not thanking God, it is not deprecating myself. It is a fact that where I follow my own instincts and my own intelligence, and my own, shall we say, desires, hopes, ambitions, it is my life.
Babuji Maharaj said zero in mathematics has no value. But if you put it in front of yourself, in front of the one, it is multiplied ten times. If you put it behind, you are decimalized. That is a mathematical way of saying that you must always have God ahead of you, in front of you, guiding you, leading you. He used to say, “When you enter a strange place, think that He is walking ahead of you. And the place will have no fears for you, no harm, no nightmares.” You go in with your timidity and your fears—“Oh, I am in Abu Dhabi. What will happen to me?” You are there. And God will say, “My son, since you are there, look after yourself. If I am there, I will look after you.”
So you see this is a very important way of thought. Sahaj Marg says thought is everything—not intelligence. Intelligence is an offshoot. When the thinking is right, when the application of thought is right, it is intelligence. When it is wrong, it is foolishness. Thought is the root. In fact when we say manas in Hindi for mind, it is referring to a faculty that only man has. Animals go by instinct; they don’t think. If their instinct is to kill, they kill—the carnivores. If their instinct is to crop grass, they do that; they are the herbivores. They have times for everything. They have a breeding cycle; they are not lustful all the year round. As George Bernard Shaw said, there are only two things which are lustful throughout the year: the donkey and the human being—which is very true. I’m sorry that he coupled us with donkeys, but in India at least we say ‘gadha’ isn’t it, when you want to curse somebody, your son for instance. “You bum!” you say.
So everything begins with thought. The beginning is thought. As I think, so I do; as I do, so I achieve. The Buddha said it too. Sahaj Marg emphasises it. But Sahaj Marg says, thought alone is not enough. It depends on the state of consciousness in which you are. And if you are able to be in remembrance of Him who is our Maker, our Creator, who is within, who is leading us in that consciousness, nothing but what is necessary will arise in our mind as thoughts. This is what we call constant remembrance in Sahaj Marg.
And “there lies the rub,” as Shakespeare would have said, because we don’t want to be in that consciousness. Because if you are in that consciousness, life as we understand it would lose, shall we say, its enchantments, its attractions, its allure. Food—you don’t even know what you’re eating. But you will eat what is good. That is where the old prayer comes: “Let my eyes see all that is good, let my ears hear only that which is good from anywhere and everywhere in the universe.” But even they did not say: “Let my thoughts be thought in such a way that they are only divine thoughts, divinely inspired thoughts.”
So, you see, Sahaj Marg understands and recognises that we can no more control our thoughts than we can control our dog or our children—with great difficulty. And the more you fight with your thoughts, the more your thoughts will rebel. So fighting is not the way. Anything in which you fight, there is going to be opposition. The stronger you fight, the stronger the opposition. Fighting is not the way—surrender is. Surrender to what? Not to your thoughts. Then it becomes bohemian. Surrender to Him who can regulate the flow in such a way that, like when you open the window, only fresh air comes. This side there is a factory with smoke; you don’t open this window, you open this window [pointing the other way].
So we have to be in the state of constant remembrance. If you are in a state of constant remembrance, your cultural, shall we say, exposition of yourself remains as the Divine planned it to be, wherever you may be. Then I don’t have to adjust my behaviour when I go to England to speak like the English; when I go to America, to speak like the Americans; or to eat pizza here; or have toast and butter in England; to have chai [tea] in China. I don’t have to think, I don’t have to do. I am. So to be you must create that ability of being first, you see. As Babuji Maharaj said, we grow towards a state of being where no more change is possible, and that is the ultimate step in our spiritual growth, our endeavour, our practice.
Now we have to practice so many things. We are told that we must be tolerant of different views, you must understand local customs, you must not behave in such a way that local, shall we say, mores are pricked [so as] not to irritate. As they say in the old phrase, ‘In Rome do as the Romans do.’ But not everybody can be a Roman in Rome. I never found it possible. But I did not irritate anybody, rub anybody the wrong way, because I was my Self. Not myself—my Self. My Self was what was expressing itself. Not this body, and this Indian frame of mind with its Indian-ness, its Indian foolishness, its Indian arrogance, pride, you know. All this is left behind when this Self, which is common to all human beings, is allowed to manifest. And then only we are one, we are one common brotherhood. Till then we are what we are. We are Chinese, we are Hindus, we are Hottentots, we are Australians, we are male, we are female, we are beautiful, we are ugly. All these differentiations like you know, when you break up light through a spectrum you will see the colours. No spectrum—you see only light.
Similarly, we are focusing ourselves through a prism which I think is my character. I must not be other than I am. So the arrogant man thinks, if he loses his arrogance, people won’t recognize him. The vulgar fellow continues to be vulgar because without his vulgarity he has no, shall we say, frame of reference. So there are people who are afraid, “Aha! But then I will lose my individuality.” Well, your individuality is not in your arrogance, or your vulgarity, or your cheapness. Your individuality is in being that which alone is individual, which is One—One and no second. You may call it by anything in any language, but that is the truth. So for that we have to go to a path of integration and not diversification.
So Sahaj Marg teaches us to meditate, learn to regulate the mind, so that it is able to put itself on one object. Therefore, you achieve concentration, and through that concentration later on it is able to master anything on which it is put, anything to which it is applied. It is like a knife: a knife will cut. A torch-light at night, if focused properly will illuminate anything that you need to illuminate. It does not say, “I will not show you a snake; I will only show you a lotus flower.” For the light there is no good, there is no bad, there is no ugly. You want to see—you see what there is to be seen.
Now we see what we think we should see. Therefore, when we read a letter, we don’t understand the real meaning. The writer says something, I understand something. I hear my friend say something, I think he is saying something, I understand something else. Therefore we misunderstand. Misunderstanding means I misunderstand. You cannot say, “My friend spoke with me and he misunderstood.” How can he speak and he misunderstand? The misunderstanding is always on the part of the one who is hearing, who is listening, who is receiving. So that means this vehicle [points to the heart] of understanding has to be purified, refined and made capable of receiving without distortion.
Today in this technology of sound, there is so much science involved, technology involved, in how to transmit sound without corruption, without disturbance, that you are able to filter out unnecessary things. We are able to do in technology what we are unable to do with ourselves. Isn’t it? Now why should my mind, which is the creator of everything, be so brilliant in the technological field and so impoverished of ability when I am applying it to myself? Because I think too much of myself. I put my achievements above my Self and I say, “This I have achieved.” But what have you achieved in yourself, within yourself? “It doesn’t matter. I own half of Dubai.” That is no answer. It only shows that what I can do with the external world I have not been able to do with my internal self, my Self. And that shows we are not applying it.
We can move mountains; we can create ‘jangal mein mangal’ [prosperity in the jungle], as they say in India; here, ‘registaan mein mangal’—wonders in the desert. (So much water that is being wasted on watering hundreds of acres of lawns as we go on.) Trees where there were no trees; enormous buildings—the beauty of Dubai, Abu Dhabi! You marvel. Why do you marvel? Because you see something where you don’t expect to see anything. In deserts we expect to see camels and date palms and sand dunes. You were shown that on the first day. On the second day, now you were shown a river, where you had a boat and you went down the creek and you enjoyed yourselves. And you saw the beautiful shores on both sides—marvels of engineering, of architecture, of construction. I don’t think even in Europe you have such beauty. Yes, you have done it. But is that enough?
Somebody says, “Look into your self, my friend. What are you?” You should not have the arrogance of that rich man who says, “Oh, I don’t have to study because I can throw five thousand dirham [UAE currency] and employ the best brains in the world.” What is your brain worth? Can you say, “I’m sick but I don’t care. I can afford a pehalwan [a strong man] to come and lift me and walk me around.” Is it enough for you to employ four strong men? That comes only at the end when you have to be carried away. Till then you are expected to do it yourself, by yourself, for yourself.
And the most important thing to do is to strengthen this inner self, having which you need—nothing else. Then He comes, because He sees somebody who’s striving to come towards Him. You know Babuji preferred the word Khuda to Bhagwaan and Eeshwar [different words to mean God] and all that. I asked him why. He said, “Khuda means, khud jo aata hai, voh khuda hai. [Khuda means, One who comes by Himself.] Bulaana nahin padta hai unko—You don’t have to call.” But when don’t you need to call? When this [pointing to the heart] and that [pointing upwards] resonate, are in contact, and that is constant remembrance.
In our assemblies all over the world, I see there is too much emphasis on this meditation and cleaning, and all these technicalities. Of course they are necessary. But then it is like a wife who cooks with a book in front of her, measuring out the salt, and you know, one teaspoon of vinegar, and two grams of salt. And when you eat it—[shakes his head]. This [points to nose], and this [points to eyes], and this [points to ears] must work.
We have been given five senses, no? These five senses are not only to help us to navigate through the world while we are alive. They are also to give me sensory input about myself. If I see somebody frowning when I talk, I must change my, what shall I say, attitude, the way I speak, the content of my speech. It’s not the right thing to say. Am I using what I do as a feedback for self-improvement? Or am I doing everything to improve you all. Babuji said, “He who will not improve himself with everything that he does, with every breath of his life, can do nothing to improve anybody else.”
I mean when you look at a mirror, especially for the ladies, and you don’t like what you see, you don’t smash the mirror. What would be the use of smashing the mirror? It’s better to rectify here, no? [Laughing, stroking his face.] Similarly, when I speak and if everything I say creates irritation, hatred, frustration and they say, “Why the hell does this fellow come here? Why does he come to Abu Dhabi, yaar? When is he leaving?” I mean, I should be able to judge, and judge with the intention of correcting myself. A lady who cooks must look at the face of her guests; not ask, “Is that dahi-vada good?” “Soup accha laga hai aapko? [Did you like the soup?]” Look at the face of the person, look at his hand. Does it shake when he lifts the next spoon of soup? [Laughter]
Youmust be sensitive enough to know what you have done, how it is being received, and what you have to do to make sure that the next time it will be received as it should be received. This is for men, for women, for boys, for cooks, for scientists, for atomic geniuses, for everybody—including governments. When they make a law they should judge. They should look and see what the population thinks about it. You know, it’s like tuning a radio. In the old days when you had radios with the tubes—and especially in World War II when we were all desperately wanting to hear BBC news—sometimes it took twenty minutes to tune in because the Germans were jamming it. Twenty minutes and then you hear something, and ... [puts his hand to his ear].
That is how we should behave: we should speak, we should walk, so that everything that I do, every moment of my life is something which helps me to change myself. I pray that all of you will use your Self to change yourself and become what He expects us to become.