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Maintaining Character

Seminar for Abhyasis of Russia/CIS Countries, 19 January 2012, Chennai, India

Dear brothers and sisters,

Sometimes I do not know what to say. You know in India we have wells for water. Some you get water at three metres, some you get water at five hundred metres. So today I am going to five hundred metres to find something!

The first thing I would like to say is that yesterday brother Kamlesh spoke to you all, and he was talking about all the questions that you have given – something like a hundred and twenty questions. My master used to say, “Questions have only answers. They do not solve anything.” What we want are prayers which will get answers in life – solutions, not answers. So people, especially with the intellect, waste most of their lives in asking questions. They even get answers, but it does not change their lives. Is that clearly understood? I am not saying do not ask questions, but ask questions which will give you solutions to your life and not merely give you answers from the intellect. So please remember that – for now and for the future. Prayer is always answered and that’s how we change from inside.

Now I would like to speak to you about character. Many of our speakers do not talk about character at all, because it is not something which is very palatable. Under situations in modern life everywhere in the world, to maintain character is a big problem. We are able to protect our houses, our property. Very often our money we are not able to protect; and character of course – it is difficult to say whether we can protect it at all.

The first problem is, we prefer pleasure to character. It seems to be a problem all over the world that pleasure overcomes character. What shall we do? If you say, “Deny pleasure,” it is not only the young who will rebel; even the old and the very old will rebel. They will say, “We have few pleasures in life” – I mean the old people. The young people would say, “This is like a garden; so many pleasures to enjoy.” So if spirituality talks about resisting desire – because that is the crux of the problem – people would not come to spirituality. But does it mean we should not talk about it?

You know I have been now nearly fifty years in Sahaj Marg. I had a close and very spokoinie [comfortable] relationship with my guru, my master, and I have had long hours in which to talk with him, discuss with him. There are two opinions: when a new person becomes an abhyasi, should we tell him all the requirements (moral, spiritual, physical) in the very beginning, or should we tell him about it after, say, some months or years of practice when the new abhyasi has become a stable abhyasi? This question is frequently asked in prefects’ conferences. If you are going to learn to drive a car, when will you tell the prospective driver how to drive and the rules to follow? If you want to save his life, to protect his life, you have to tell him at the very beginning. Isn’t it? Same thing with a pilot; same thing will all occupations where there is a risk to life.

People do not understand that in normal life when you come to spirituality, the biggest danger is character. It is the biggest problem, individually and collectively, because you are subject to so many desires, temptations, and we blame it on samskaras. I have friends, I mean in our preceptor-ial college shall we say, who claim that some desires are good. They do not understand that temptations must be overcome. If on the road you have a ditch (a gutter), you have to go across it. If there is a small mountain, you have to go over it. We must remember what my guruji said, my master said, “Overcoming obstacles increases our strength.” That is why people walk, they jog, they climb mountains. We are willing to do this all physically; mentally [it is] more difficult.

So we do not tackle mental problems as soon or as easily as we solve physical problems. When it comes to moral problems we collapse at once. That is the biggest problem in life. In this life, in the physical life, physical problems are very important: we must not eat the wrong things, we are afraid of falling sick, but we are able to drink alcohol. The biggest problem in Russia used to be (I don’t know if it still is) vodka. It destroys our consciousness and we get into accidents; we become addicts. We waste money on drinking. But we know we are doing wrong. But if somebody else says this is wrong, we get angry.

The first sign in anybody who gets angry is guilt. For me, if somebody becomes angry he is guilty. Prefects must understand how to judge from a simple conversation what is going on inside the abhyasi. If you say, “You must not smoke,” and the abhyasi gets angry, it means he smokes. So you see there are very many signs like that when we talk to others. The second thing: suppose a man goes to Babuji and says, “Can I smoke?” it shows that he has a desire to smoke. I mean you are not going to ask because a friend wants to smoke. Isn’t it? So questions like this reveal desire. Others ask, “What is wrong when skin touches skin?” And they tell an old saying in English, ‘When skin touches skin, there is no sin’ – the biggest desire, bolshoe [big] desire. What is the answer?

So you see if you give answers it is no use. The problem is to cut desire. We have small desires, big desires, sinful desires. So you see, this question was asked to the saint Buddha. He said, “It is like a wheel. You can cut it anywhere, the wheel will collapse.” You have seen these water wheels for raising water from the wells. You cut it anywhere and it is finished. And we cheat – we fight our desires by cheating. We cheat ourselves; we cannot cheat God or anybody else. Remember, every time you tell a lie you are lying to yourself. Every time you cheat, you are cheating yourself. If you feel guilty you are destroying yourself, because temptation is not there in the objects of desire; it is here inside you. So it has to be removed from you. If you ask all the women to cover their faces, do you think the men will not desire women? It does not work. If you say, “No sweets,” somebody who wants will go out and eat. No alcohol at home; the husband will quietly go through the back and have his drink and come back.

So desire cannot be fought outside; we have to fight it inside. And as Babuji said very wisely, “If you fight, it will react.” So we cannot fight. But does it mean we must surrender to desire and say, “Eventually it will go off”? Unfortunately not. Because if there is fire and you go on adding fuel to it, the fire will become bigger and bigger. That is what happens with desire. “No, no, only today.” “Only today.” “Only today.” And it goes on, that ‘only today’ never stops. We cannot fight desire; we must not surrender to desire. What else to do? Clean it. Get your prefect to clean it and do it every day in your own private (personal) cleaning. There is no other way. Of course there is the problem that we don’t want to clean because the biggest desire is not to lose desire. It is dangerous because it is like a man who has a cobra in a basket and says, “I keep it covered,” but when it will come out – ssssh – you don’t know. Because desire is latent until it is, like a lamp, lit by the object of desire.

Therefore in Sahaj Marg, in fact in any spiritual life, this cleaning is the most important thing. It is the vital step. Many religions, many spiritual practices offer ritualistic ways. Any religion, any spiritual practice, it is all [about] washing hands like this, with water, bath, et cetera. It cannot clean the inside, the soul, because all these coverings, as Babuji used to call them, they are hard and they cover our atma (the soul), and it needs a master to clean it without destroying the heart. In my experience, only Sahaj Marg has it – an effective cleaning method which removes all these (what Babuji Maharaj used to call) complexities. And if you cooperate, if the abhyasi cooperates, in a very short time it is possible to achieve states of consciousness and states of being which literature has described as the state of saints.

So you see the importance of Sahaj Marg and the importance of the cleaning process. We must not be like someone who came to Babuji and said, “Babuji, clean me thoroughly (fully), but leave some of the things inside which I want.” Either you allow everything to go or you stay with everything. You cannot have cleaning in which Ivan is released, Vladimir is released. Or a man comes and says, “I don’t want Tatiana or Natasha, but others, please let them remain.” [laughter] Selective cleaning is not possible. Suppose you have dropped coffee on a carpet, and chocolate, and somebody has vomited with his vodka. You do not give the carpet to the carpet cleaner and say, “Leave this coffee and the chocolate; remove only that.” Not possible. Not possible.

So it means, as Babuji said again and again, “If you want to be cleaned, everything has to go.” Because there is no such thing as good desire and bad desire – all desire is bad, because here comes the question of wants and needs. When I am hungry I need food. It is not a question of desire. And that need must be fulfilled simply. I cannot ask for a pizza and ice cream and all these funny things – bread and salt for hunger. But we want so many things, you see. That is the difference between need and want.

Babuji Maharaj told me many times, “Needs are always fulfilled. Wants? Sorry!” So you see the difference between needs and wants. Need is something I must have to exist. I need good food; minimum food is necessary. I need air and water which God gives free, and I need shelter and something to cover my nakedness – nothing much. Isn’t it? But if I want silk and satin, and what the tsars used to wear, diamonds, then one desire breeds another desire. How to have diamonds and silks and satin without sacrificing my character? It becomes like a bargain in the market, “What will you give me in return? You want diamonds? Okay, but what do you give me in return?” You know the answer, isn’t it? So when you go beyond need to want, you are crossing the border of security. So Babuji Maharaj said, “Live simply and in tune with nature.” Stick to needs; prayer will answer your needs. But if you need a cottage and you pray for a palace – sorry!

So I think, for this morning that is all I want to say. It is a lot because our biggest problem in life is this struggle between need and want, and when we step into the region of wants, we step into the enemy’s territory where there is every possible danger to your moral life. Spirituality becomes something not achievable. Okay?

So thank you very much.