by Chariji, April 4, 2004, Thumkunta, India.
I have been here four days and, of course, I have enjoyed every moment of it in your company. I am happy to see that Andhra Pradesh is growing in spiritual strength, thanks to Sahaj Marg. And we are, as you all know, a non-denominational, non-religious, purely spiritual organization, and we are people from all over the world, from all the religions, people who are born in a particular religion and I hope, do not any more perform the rituals of that religion. As Swami Vivekananda said, "It is good to be born in a religion but bad to die in it," which is what most people of this world do. Where they are born they die, in the same church or in the same whatever, you see.
I have repeated time and again the need to be precisely adhering to the principles of Sahaj Marg. I have repeatedly emphasised the need to drop all caste names such as Naidu, Reddy, Iyengar, Iyer, you know. But I don't find this is being practiced. The courts of India should be flooded with affidavits requesting change of names to be published. But while we profess, we don't put it into practice. We are still afraid of our own families, of our societies, of our friends, not remembering that a friend in need is a friend, not a friend who is in need himself. Such friends we have many; they will come to you to borrow money, to take a bottle of whiskey from you, to make you skip your office and take you off for a holiday somewhere. Such friends are plentiful, but they are truly your enemies - not good for you. But, if you change your name from say X Reddy to just X, and your friends come and say, "Well done! I am also going to do it," you are a sincere, honest Sahaj Marg abhyasi. Not only that, you are able to influence your friends for the good, for their good. This world is full of friends who will make you drink, who will make you play cards, who will make you go to the races, lead you astray, and then dump you in the garbage. The world is literally full of such people. The other type, who will lead you from wherever you have been wandering, into the envisioned fields of spirituality - they are rare.
Babuji used to say, it is good to have one sincere friend in this world. I mean, even that is very rare. And he used to talk about a one-legged farmer who had only one friend, whereas other people had hundreds of friends. And what was the fate of the man who had a hundred friends when his cottage was burnt? Everybody said someone else would go. Ramudu said Lakshmanudu would go, Lakshmanudu said Bharatudu would go, and nobody went, whereas when this one-legged man's hut was burnt down, his friend rushed. He said, "I am the only friend he has. If I don't go, he will be destroyed." So we must have one sincere friend, and that one sincere friend, according to the Sufi tradition, is your Guru. I've told you hundreds of times that in the Sufi tradition the Guru or the Master is called friend. They say, "Behold! The friend arrives tomorrow." Because a friend is one who promotes your welfare. By definition, he will give his life for you. And of course in Sahaj Marg, we have heard in Telugu, we have heard in Kannada, we have heard in Tamil, in English, ad nauseum - pranasya prana - the guru giving his life for the life of the abhyasi. I don't know whether anybody believes in it, whether you really think somebody is giving his life for you. I wonder how many of you believe it. I would like to see some hands go up - sincere believers, not the lip service believers. Please have the honesty. I don't mind if there are no hands, because I don't expect any, to be sincere myself. Let me see again how many hands go up. Well, that is encouraging!
Now prove to me that since you are receiving life, the man who is giving it is your friend, and you will accept his advice, because he is a friend in need for you. I wish to see, as they say, the proof of the pudding. Transformation! Yesterday somebody asked me a question in my cottage. "Should not outer transformation come first before inner transformation?" Can anybody tell me when a fruit ripens, whether it ripens from inside out or from outside in? Anybody can tell me? [Abhyasis answer.] Similarly our transformation must come from inside out, but the 'out' part remains, because we are society bound, religion bound, caste bound, friend bound and state bound. Andhra Pradesh, telugu desam - no, I am not talking about the (political) party. I am talking about telugu desam [Telugu land] as Andhra Pradesh. So you see, you are all still very much Telugus, Andhra vadus, and even I am compelled to say, mana varu [our people]. We should just embrace each other without even the consciousness of being friends in the idea that, spiritually, we are one. Nothing should separate us any more. Not you from each other, not you from me, none of us from Babuji Maharaj.
So how about trying to transform yourself and showing it in public - that I belong to an organization that says even names divide us, because when a Naidu meets a Reddy there is always some resistance. Your daughter cannot marry his son, isn't it? Normally not. Avunandi, chala baga undi, but meeru Naidu kada? (Yes, sir. Very nice, but you are a Naidu, isn't it?) All this nonsense must go. I am repeating this for the hundredth time in Andhra Pradesh and I haven't seen anybody drop his name yet. Name-dropping, yes. You know what name-dropping means? "I know Narasimha Rao, sir." That is name-dropping. Dropping your name means, cutting it and throwing away the useless part. We buy brinjals, we cut off the stem, throw it away. We take off that - what we call in Tamil - pavadai, and throw it away. We buy bananas, we cut two stems and throw it away. Take the peel and throw it away. We have much that needs to be cut and thrown away in ourselves. And I am not talking only about samskaras. I am talking about habits, of names, about tendencies, about behaviour. When are we going to work on these things?
Remember Babuji Maharaj said, internal transformation He gives, character building is your problem, the problem of the abhyasis. Are you working on it? I don't think so. Therefore the call to discipline every time, the call to remain seated every time, the call not to clap, not to make noise, not to discuss stock exchange or election here, and most annoyingly, every time we have to be reminded to switch off our cell phones - every time.
You know on the aircraft also they announce, cell phones must be off, because it can cause serious trouble to the plane if it is on. I was in Australia when I read that a plane had crashed, and the investigation revealed that no other person than the pilot himself had used a cell phone from the cockpit while he was flying. This is a true report from a newspaper. The pilot himself did not believe in his own instruction or obey it. So we don't believe anything unless and until tragic consequences have befallen us, and then of course it is too late.
Babuji said it is very easy to liberate a soul which is still in the body. Make sure you are liberated while you are all still in the body. Once we leave this body and we are not liberated, then the next birth follows as sure as the day follows the night. So we are in a very serious business. You know this is not a tamasha [spectacle]. This is not an election meeting; this is not a lecture group, nor a discussion group; we don't preach, we don't recite the Vedas, nor do we really like music programs and all that. Because they are all distractions. The one and only purpose here is self-transformation and if you leave it half, it is only 'trans' but no formation. Where are we going?
I remember Babuji Maharaj, at the fag-end of his life, was quite dispirited when he said that the number of real abhyasis in the Mission can be counted on the fingers of one hand - not even two hands. Somebody asked him, "How many really love you, Master?" He said, "May be one or two." And of course every body said they love the Master!
So friends, sisters, brothers, repeatedly we say what Vivekananda said over a century ago, what the Vedas have been saying for thousands of years, "Uttishtatha, jaagratha, praapyavaraan nibodhata. [Awake, arise, having approached the Chosen One, realise your goal.]" I hope you will take that advice seriously. The fact that it has to be repeated in the Vedas again and again, by Vivekananda himself, and by us now, shows that it is not easily accepted; the words yes, the following action doesn't look as if anybody is interested. Sahaj Marg is a sure-fire method of making this happen, provided you make it happen.