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Youth-A Time for Aspiration
Talk given to the youth by Shri P. Rajagopalachari
I have always found that youth is the best time for all good things. I'm sure you will all agree. You will agree for one reason, because now that you are young, you have everything good, and therefore you are all ecstatically agreeing, but that is not what I meant. You have seen horses in big paddocks-how the young horses run around kicking their heels, neighing (makes a neighing sound), like that. That's not what I mean.
My idea is that life begins somewhere and goes on, you see. And when we are born, we bring a great deal of joy, happiness, light, into a family. And in that light we bask, like we sit outside in the sun in winter, and we soak in the warmth. And it's a good time, because it gives joy and happiness to everybody. Then, as we grow up, we begin to differentiate ourselves little by little. We acquire a will of our own; a direction that may be good or bad, but we insist on having it, forgetting that, you know, if at that stage things go wrong, then that's a very difficult thing to correct later on. You know, if you have a mountain, and a stream goes that way instead of going this way, the river will eventually flow North instead of South. It's just an example, because one cannot say which way the river should flow, but that is why this young age is a time of opportunity-for decision, for choice, because everything is open.
When you are as old as I am, there is no more any choice. When an oak tree has grown 25, 30 metres, it has no more choice. But when it is a young sapling, it can bend, it can be blown away, it can be destroyed. So, that sapling needs to be protected, and this protection comes from so many sources. It comes from the parents; it comes from the family, comes from your society, comes from school, from government. They are all expected to contribute to a protective environment in which you can grow properly. And unfortunately, nowadays, at least in the last 30, 40 years, all these sources of protection are cracking up-less and less, including parents, I'm sorry to say. Parents don't give guidance; they are too busy with themselves. A time there was when mothers never worked, so they provided the source of happiness, love and protection. Today, all women work. So they are no more to be looked upon as sources of love and protection. They are immersed in their own life, making their life. So children are largely left to themselves, and they grow in an atmosphere of both aspiration and resentment. They resent that they don't get enough attention from their parents, who are too busy to look after them, who are too busy earning money to waste on holidays, about which I was talking this morning. You would rather have some love in the family than a big holiday in Nice or, I don't know, Antibes, wherever it is, isn't it?
You know, once I was in Bhopal about to conduct a satsangh like this. There were 5 minutes, 6 minutes to begin satsangh. A tall girl in school uniform came. She just stood in front of me, like that, and she said, "I hate you!" So I just smiled and said, "Why? Because I've never met you, I don't know you. Why should you hate me?" She said, "You have taken my parents away from me. My father doesn't look at me; my mother doesn't look at me. Even on Sundays, they leave the breakfast on the table, like leaving it for a dog, and go off for satsangh. I have nothing else now." She was tall and well-built, so I thought she must be, you know, good enough to be an abhyasi. So I just told her, "Sit down. We will have a satsangh now, and later we will talk." You know what happens after that (chuckles). There is magic! Because in satsangh, there is this love shown in a way that you cannot express in any human fashion. What is the way of showing love in a human fashion? Shaking hands, hugging, kissing, making love? That's all. Animals do it, the birds do it, and everybody does it. What is so special about it? There used to be a song, "The bees do it, the birds do it " I don't know if you know it. But here, there is a love which does not demand, which gives. In the human level, you try as much as you want to give without asking-it is impossible.
So here we get all that we need, which our heart needs, though it may or may not know it. That's why you are all here, obviously. Most of you are children of Sahaj Marg parents, and that's very good, because you've grown up in the same environment in which your parents have achieved something in spirituality. You find that they are different from other parents, at least in some ways. You may not have taken their protection but they have tried to protect you. They have given you the shade of spirituality. They have given you a spiritual aspiration with which to work. Aspiration is not the same as, for instance, expectation or ambition. Ambition is very self-centred, material, money-oriented, power-oriented, position-oriented. Aspiration has to do with higher values of life-how to become something; not how to have something. Ambition is about having. "Oh, I'm ambitious, I want to have a I don't know, the latest BMW car, and a 9-bedroom house." Aspiration says, "I want to be a good man, a good member of society, a good father, a good mother."
So I'm happy, you know, that the next generation of Sahaj Marg, by and large, all over the world, are the children of our abhyasis-abhyasis who are my age, abhyasis who are their age and abhyasis who are like this young lady here, who just got married. Their children are all coming slowly, because there is an example within the family for them to follow. And if the parents exercise their life or live their life as good abhyasis should You know, it is like dropping a stone in a pond and the ripple spreads. By itself good things spread. You must have noticed, you are all old enough to notice, good things spread by themselves, bad things have to be spread. Crime has to be spread by terror, by fear, by bribery, by corruption, by destruction. Good things are not spread like that. Good things spread quietly, from example. So, if you find your parents are good, they are loving, they are harmonious in their existence, that the family is in a literal way alive with love. I mean, nobody is going to refuse such a life.
So you see, youth is a very important time, because after childhood, you are becoming a youth. Now there are even more opportunities, for the good or for the bad. At that time of choice, if you don't have loving guidance guidance does not mean locking the girl up in her room so that she should not meet her boyfriend at midnight. It's not that; that doesn't work. You know the proverb in English-"love laughs at locksmiths". Of course, they meant it in a different sense, that love will always find a way. But we are now not talking about love. We are talking about what young people call a good time, you know-Jazz, Rolling Stones, I don't know the names; a little drinking, a little smoking. You start a little, little, you know, and unfortunately In the old days a few used to get caught; now many get caught. And then by the time they realise they are destroying their lives, their future, their opportunities, it may be too late to help them. Because they have become hardened, they have become addicted, and what is worse, they have become cynical and say, "Well, this is the world I live in. What else do you expect me to do?" Unfortunately that is not true; this is not the world we live in; it is the small world of crime, and corruption, and violence, and sex into which you fall, get caught, out of some moment of temptation, from which you are unable to get out. And then you blame society, you blame your parents; often you blame Sahaj Marg, too. You say, "Oh, if my parents had looked after me ." Yes, but were you willing to be looked after? It's a good thing in Sahaj Marg we have had children who have been, you know, poco poco, shall we say, and they have come back. It's good because they have the opportunity to come back. I mean, if you go out of the house, unless you have a home, where will you come back to?
I must address the elder generation in this context and tell them how awesome their responsibility is. Because if they are only involved with their own enjoyment, with their own material growth, with their own success, they can't contribute in a very large measure to their children's future, whatever it may be. If it is bad, the parents contribute 80% to it; if it is good, they contribute more than 80% to it. In most cases I find that the parents are to blame, either positively, or through neglect, or through just indifference. "Oh, they are old enough to know what they want." "When I was 15 " They start bragging. "When I was 15, Chariji " Yes, when you were 15, the world was different. When I was 15, the world was much different. When your children are 15, we don't know what it is going to be.
So you see, you also have an awesome responsibility. When you think of your future, it is not only your future. You are all boys and girls, surely you will get married; many of you are already married. "What about our children?" you must ask. "Is this the world into which I want to bring my children?" Why do you ask such a question? Because you have already known that this world is not a very desirable place. You have experienced it. Some of you have been caught in it, some of you have fallen. Some of you, by the Grace of the Master, have risen again. You are able to hold up your head and you are better for that experience. But not everybody can fall and rise again. They lack the power, they lack the will. They lack the people who can lift them up. Fortunately for us in Sahaj Marg, we have an environment of peace, of tranquillity, of harmony, of spirituality, where we can help without obviously helping you.
You know, people come to me with problems of drug addiction, of abuse, sexual or otherwise, parental abuse, let down by society, demoralised by their friends. And often all that it needs is a couple of sittings for them to be set right, and they are OK. I mean, I'm sure many of you know this, if not most of you. It has worked with many parents who have tended to go astray. They are back. With children it is easier to work because children know; they have faith in their hearts.
You see this youthful period is a period of aspiration, as I pointed out, because we want what is the best, not in material terms, but in evolutionary terms, in values, in qualities. Childhood is innocence, youth must be a time of aspiration, and then the adult phase must be one of achievement. You see how, step by step, it builds up. Innocence is soon lost, and then if aspiration is not there, and there is only ambition, which today our education is forcing upon us more and more-"You must be this, you must be that, you must be able to afford to fly to New York three times a year, package holidays in Hawaii, etc, etc.," our aspiration turns to ambition, turns to corruption. Then there is nothing we will not do to get what we are ambitious about, including what the Americans call the "killer spirit." You know, in America, it is very famous. You have heard John McEnroe talk about it. "Kill the opposition." "Beat the hell out of the bastard." These are common terms in American society. "Beat the hell out of the bastard." I'm quoting. I'm sorry I have to use words such as these in a spiritual assembly, but it is the truth.
We are not to live like that. We are not dogs to fight each other and bleed to death. Even about the dogs, the Bible says, "Dog eats not dog." But human beings eat each other. We don't care about whom we destroy. When a married couple interferes in another married couple's life and this husband takes away that wife, it's a destruction of another couple, a life. "Yes, but she loves me." So? I love your diamond and I take it away from you in the streets? Can you say, "Yes, he loves my diamond. So he took it."? Why is this robbery? And that is not robbery? Why, when a girl pinches the husband from another woman, it is not robbery? But she cannot take a stylo [pen], which costs probably one Euro, or less. That is robbery! Your ethics don't permit you to take your friend's handbag because you like it. "Oh, I like it much better; I'm taking it away." and you watch helplessly? How can society tolerate mere material thefts and label it as theft, and punish people, and put them in jail, but a man who takes another man's wife goes away scot-free? And everybody just, you know "C'est ça, c'est la vie," [It's like that; it's life,] hmm? Don't you think this society is stupidly corrupt, wantonly corrupt, viciously corrupt?
In India we believe that all morality is to be vested with women. I've spoken about this twenty years ago in Augerans, and I was severely criticised. They said "Why only women are responsible?" I said, "Of course, because when it takes two to do something and when one refuses, you have restored morality, isn't it?" In the Gita, it is very explicit. It says, "When women go astray, that society destroys itself." So it is always the woman's code of honour which must say, "Non, chéri, you are already married. You have to go back to your wife. If you do this to me today, you will do this to her tomorrow and this to her day after tomorrow." Isn't it? You have all seen it, you have all experienced it. Every one of you, or most of you have had your own brother, your father's daughter, your mother's sister by another husband. I mean it's a shambles-society today, because selfishness prevails, there is no order. Why is this? The statement contains the answer. Selfishness prevails, and not order. Order-morality is order, ethics is order, truth is order. But when we say, "I want and I take what I want," that society is anarchical. You may have wonderful rules of the road, you know, "Keep to the right," "Follow the red light," and "Stop here," you know Vous n'avez pas le droit etc. etc. [You must not etc. etc.] That is wonderful on the superficial level, to impress foreigners like me. Oh, how disciplined this society is! You say madam to the saleswoman; you stand in a queue; if she is busy for 15 minutes you will wait. And we pretend we are a wonderful society of educated, healthy and, what else should I say, normal human beings. But all these superficial ethics, good behaviour, obedience to the law, hides a much deeper mess. What you would call a swamp; it stinks, you see.
So, if you want to create your society, my young brothers and sisters, daughters, grand-daughters, you have to work for it. I cannot keep what is not mine. If I fool around with something that is somebody else's, I have given up my right to what I have myself. Beware! It may be tempting, it may be tantalising; it may even be fun. You may even get away with it, for the moment. But there is a divine law which says, you are culpable. And then, when you are 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, slowly this guilt begins to, you know, eat away your heart. Then you start looking for churches, for psychiatrists, for therapists, and if you are fortunate, you will find Sahaj Marg. Yes, of course! Not everybody finds Sahaj Marg. In a huge world we are only between a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand people. And here also we are, by and large, rebellious. "What is this stupid morality of the Indian?" one lady asked me twenty years back. She said, "That is for Indians, not for us." I don't know how she distinguished that, or how she wisely came to that conclusion that Indians are stupid because they are moral, and the white people are great because they can take what they want from wherever they want it. But not material possessions! They can break hearts, they can break couples, they can break marriages, they can destroy their children, send one here, send one there. Which do you think is the better society?
So I repeat, if you want something like that, where what is yours is yours, including your husband, and his wife, and they are harmoniously together without danger You know, I used to be shocked when I first used to come to Europe, and hundreds of boys and husbands told me, "My suitcase is always packed." I said, "Why?" He said, "I don't know if, in the evening when I come back, I'll find my wife at home." I'm not joking. These are things which I have heard personally from people who are also here. So what is this state of existence? That your suitcase is always packed because you don't know in the evening whether you are welcome at home or not, or whether she will be there or not?
So you see, to say that the grass is green is not an exaggeration, to say that the sun is shining is not an exaggeration; to say that the society here is like this is not an exaggeration. It is the truth. Every one of you knows it. I'm willing to speak about it. You are not. You want to hide it. You think in hiding it there is safety, there is protection. But you know, medical science says that if you have a wound and if you hide it, it festers, and one day you may have to cut off your leg. That's what is happening. Here, cutting off the leg is breaking up of a marriage, children in anguish, not knowing where to go, because the child loves both the parents. But it becomes a legal matter. "I want," he says, and "I want," she says. And the children are bewildered. "What happened? Where there was so much love till yesterday evening, what has happened this morning?"
So, I don't want you all growing up like that. And I'm sure you don't want to grow up like that. I'm sure those of you who are children of divorced parents have hated your parents for it. If anybody is willing to say no to that, they are bloody liars. Eventually you become reconciled because you have no choice. Your mother is gone with somebody; your father is gone with somebody; you are left to be partagé [shared], as the French say-sometimes here, sometimes there. He takes you out for a holiday, she gives you gifts and voilà, everything is wonderful. It is not!
So don't make this mistake of rationalising wrongs, wrong doings, corruption, and pretending, that if you don't look at it, and if you don't talk about it, it does not exist. You all know that, whether you like it or not, ghosts exist even though you never talk about them, you don't see them. Evil exists although you may not have seen it. Sickness exists, though you may never have been sick. Lies exist, though you may never have told lies. So, by hiding, nothing works. We are only contributing more and more to that stagnation, that stench which, you know, like a pool of water which is there all the time, it stinks.
So be brave; take your life in your hands. Renounce all desires which will interfere with other people's lives. And say, "What is mine, God gives. If I take, it cannot be mine". So this is a time, my young friends, of aspiration being allowed to flower, of desires being put aside and, thereby, beginning to lead to what can eventually be a saintly life.
I pray for all of you. May it be so! Thank you.