Preceptors - the Arteries of Sahaj Marg
by Chariji, January 4, 2009, Chennai, India.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We can speak endlessly about the teachings of my Master, Babuji Maharaj, about Sahaj Marg, and the practice that he has handed down to us, originating from the parampara [lineage] of the great gurus of Sahaj Marg. He has emphasized that spirituality is the science and the art of the heart - art of the heart and the science of the heart.
According to my Master, other than the heart there is nothing in a human being. All the rest is but supporting devices, organizations, organisms, to keep the heart. And the heart in turn keeps the rest nurtured. Divinity is within the heart of the individual, that is the seat of divinity, that is the abode of divinity, and therefore the human heart is said to be a temple. It is a temple of God, and if there is any temple at which we should worship, it is this inside-temple, the temple which is inside us. And the only way of worshipping Him is to love the presence in the heart, meditate daily on this presence, and progressively, or, if possible, at one instant of time, hand over control to Him.
This is all that spirituality is about - how to find my God within myself and hand over my existence to Him. This is a very simple science, a very simple practice. All that it involves - and of course that 'all' must be with capital letters - is to hand over the ego. The only thing that stands between an individual and the God within himself is E-G-O, ego. And when ego is given away, thrown away, surrendered, we have G-O-D in its place.
As I said, it is easy and it is very difficult. It is easy because it is really easy. It is difficult because we think it is difficult. And we hold on to our egos because all that we know of ourselves, our self-image, is from the ego. The ego keeps on saying, "You are this, you are that," you know, and we listen to the ego rather than to Him [points to the heart] who is my God, my boss, my Self. This being the art and science of spirituality and He being in the heart, our Master who is before us - Lalaji Maharaj, Babuji Maharaj, they are the heart of Sahaj Marg.
Now as Babuji said, "There are tributaries which are necessary to take the blood from the heart to every least part of the human system, to enrich it with oxygen, nourish it and to carry away all the accumulated grossness, dirt," whatever. These arteries are in the Sahaj Marg system, as Babuji very beautifully put it - the preceptors, the prefects. He said, the preceptors are the heart of the system. And the heart is pure, it is pumping and it is doing its work. But if the arteries, the preceptors, are rigid, calcified, dirty inside, you know what happens: coronary failures, heart attacks, and the failure of that particular individual who is supposed to be serving the cause of the Master.
I do not know how many of our preceptor sisters and brothers appreciate the vital importance of their position in the Mission's hierarchy, in the Mission's working system, in its operating system, that between my heart and me stand my arteries. All human beings who have had even an inkling or a suggestion of heart problems go to a cardiologist, and the cardiologist says, forty percent block, fifty percent block, total block, et cetera, you see.
So it is very important to keep the circulatory system, the arteries clean, flexible and willing to allow the blood to pass through it. It has no other function. It has to remain clean, flexible and permitting to allow blood to flow through it. In Sahaj Marg terms, it means a preceptor sits before the abhyasi without any rigidity. I am not talking of physical rigidity, I am talking of mental rigidity vis-à-vis the abhyasi: no judgement, no judgemental opinions, no consideration of whether the abhyasi deserves a sitting or not. Remember, no prefect or preceptor is the Master himself, though he is like the Master when he sits before the abhyasi. He has the ability which Babuji has given. Babuji has said, "My preceptors can do the same work as I can do, if they forget they are sitting and know that the Master is sitting in their place when they are doing the work."
So no preceptor has the right to judge an abhyasi. I have heard many preceptors, prefects, saying, "That abhyasi is useless," "This man should be removed from the system," et cetera, et cetera, you know. Remember the Christian saying: Do unto others as you would be done by. If you want your Master to look on you with mercy and grace, you must look upon the abhyasis in a similar way. If you want the love of the Master, you must love the abhyasi. You get only what you give. What you don't get is never yours. What you don't give can never be yours. So if you want to receive, give first. The secret is that by giving first, you empty your heart and His grace flows into it.
You know, everybody who has filled a pot of water under a tap in this country which is known for water shortages, we know that if you put a full pot of water, the water will only overflow. It has to be empty, it has to be clean. So the preceptor must see that his own heart is clean, it is purified. Babuji has on certain occasions suggested that before we give a sitting, we should do our own cleaning first. Ensure that the vessel is clean through which His grace is going to flow. You don't put milk in a kerosene bottle or in a kerosene tin without cleaning it, hundreds of times. So if the preceptor is not clean, his work cannot happen as Babuji wants it to happen. The work is not affected by you in any adverse way.
Some abhyasis were afraid and asked Babuji Maharaj long ago, in the seventies, "Babuji, what if the preceptor is sick or he is unclean?" Babuji said, "He can only transmit what is given. He cannot transmit himself or any part of himself or any of his qualities." You see, so there is no risk to abhyasis. Let abhyasis not be afraid, because there are abhyasis who say, "Let me go to a full preceptor. Let me go to this man or that person." Not necessary. It will work. It is like a telephone, you know. The telephone cannot change the message. It only transmits the message.
But it is the preceptor's duty to see that he is clean, he is non-judgemental, he is flexible in his attitudes, and most important of all, he must be willing to serve. When Babuji Maharaj was asked, "What is the qualification to be a preceptor?" he said, "Willingness is the only qualification." Not education, not superior health, not your caste - nothing. No colour, no caste, no creed - nothing. But are you willing to serve fellow human beings in this divine adventure that we call the spiritual voyage through life to its goal? Is it willingness from the heart or from the head? If it from the head, it is only that you are wanting power, that you are wanting position, that you are wanting recognition and a certificate to hang on the wall. No use. Babuji knows your heart much better than you do because he created it, he is inside it, and he knows, inside out, what you are, how you are, who you are. If this willingness of the heart, the desire to serve our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters, in their distress, in their need… Remember the saying, 'A friend in need is a friend indeed.' Are you a friend in need? Are you willing to give a sitting to a man who is in distress, or in some sort of crisis and says, "I want a sitting"? "No, no, brother. I am busy. I have already given sittings today." Out! You are unfit - because preceptor's work means sacrifice of your time, of your needs, of your likes and dislikes, of your judgement of yourself and others - everything to be sacrificed to Him.
If you are willing, then according to my Master, you are fit to be a preceptor. If you say, "No, no, you know, but I am very intellectual. I know Sahaj Marg inside out. I know that this man is struggling in life." It's not enough. It is like throwing a rupee to a beggar, from a superior to an inferior, from one who has to one who has not. Are you willing to consider even a beggar as your brother, a prostitute as your sister, a leper as your relation? The story about Jesus Christ that he kissed the lepers on the cheek, these stories are not meant to be [just] read. And we adore Christ and say, "Wow! Wonderful person! Wonderful person!" They are stories - whether they are true or not is not a germane question. Are you willing to be like that? Are you willing to emulate these great personalities who have been Masters in their lifetimes, and say, "Yes, for me too, it is the same. In my eyes there is no beggar. There are only people who are in need. There are people who have made mistakes. I recognize that a human being will make mistakes, must make mistakes, because it is through mistakes that we learn and we grow."?
A life without blame can never be a growth-oriented life. Such a life is never born, because to be born here means to evolve by recognizing that I need to clean my heart, that I need to permit the divinity in it to be expressed, and to hand over myself to him, and thus become like him, and to qualify for admission into his divine abode - the paramdhaama of the Hindu religion.
So, to be a preceptor, if you are willing it is very easy. If you are willing to serve, it means you have no thought about yourself. One who is always thinking of himself - "If I give one more sitting, Babuji will look with favour on me." Not at all! It is not the number of sittings that you give, it is what you do during the sitting. Are you forgetting yourself? Are you erasing yourself from the seat, and do you see only the Master there? Are you willing to think of the time as his time, not your time?
Way back I think when I was in Cleveland with Babuji on our first trip abroad in 1972, Babuji told me, "Lalaji says, 'Tell this boy that he need not do any more meditation, but his time must be given up to you now.'" So Babuji asked me, "Are you willing to give your time to me?" I said, "I have given everything to you. Where is my time?" He said, "I do not want you to take any more holidays." I said, "I never take holidays." The only holiday I took in my life was when Krishna, my son, was I think two years old, and my brother's daughter, Janaki, was one year old, and we went to Kashmir for a month with my father. I cannot remember another holiday, and this was way back in 1958 or 1959, fifty years ago. I said, "Babuji, no holiday. When what I am doing for you is a pleasure to me and has become my life - the purpose of my life is only this, is only Sahaj Marg - to do your work as you wish it to be done, remembering, that if you say, 'No sitting today,' it means no sitting today." I cannot say, "No, no, Babuji, but I want to give a sitting." I have no wants, no desires in Sahaj Marg except to be of service. Otherwise it's like a bulb, you know - you switch it off, the bulb will not go off. It says "I want to give illumination." But the owner of the house says, "I want darkness. Switch it off!" You have no special right to have even your own wishes, your own desires, your own wants, but your needs will be fulfilled. Your needs for rest, your needs for nourishment for your body and mind, they are looked after impeccably as you yourself can never look after them.
I have written about an episode in Denmark when I had been giving twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five sittings a day. Babuji called me and said, "Tomorrow you will not give any sittings." I said, "Babuji, I have already committed." He said, "No, no, your brain is heavy with the work. It will not do you good. All right, tomorrow's commitment - because you have already made a commitment you may do. But day after tomorrow, full day rest." I took full day rest. Somebody brought a cake, one pound, and I was going to cut it to distribute. He said, "No, no, it is for you. You eat it." I ate it. No question of calories and "I'll put on weight. No, no, how can I eat?" When Babuji says eat, you eat. When he says don't eat, you don't eat. You don't think.
One thing that our people must understand is, in obedience there is no place for thought. You are not to think whether this is to be obeyed or not. The Guru orders, you do it. The famous example in our mythology is Parashuram. When he said he was devoted and loved his father, his father said, "Will you do what I tell you?" He said yes. He said, "Cut off your mother's head." Chichick. And the head came off. Mother's head! - obedience. Of course, then the father said, "I am pleased with you. Ask for a boon." He said, "I want my mother alive again." And the mother came alive again.
So, you see, obedience never gives you personal loss, though apparently it may look so. "Are you free? I want you to give one more sitting." "Ayyo! There goes my rest." There doesn't go anything. It is another opportunity to ennoble myself while ennobling others. Babuji Maharaj said, "Even the best preceptor, absolutely best preceptor, transmits only eighty percent of what I give. Twenty percent is remaining in him." And he said, "Which business gives you such a high commission for so little work?" Come to think of it, you do hardly anything. You just sit, close your eyes and pray for the work to begin, and relinquish your post to him who comes and does the work for you. He gives you the work which he does. He gives you the ability only to do this, that I am able to sit, start the work and say, "Babuji, please take over." Big deal! What is the work in this? And yet, preceptors are arrogant, egotistic, wasting their time in conversation when they should give a sitting.
So, as I said, it is very easy to be a preceptor if you can surrender and say only He is there, I am no more there. His orders flow through me like water in a river. The river bed does nothing. What does a river bed do? It only permits. And the more the work, the lower and lower the river bed goes until, at the mouth of the sea, it is level with the sea, lowest point - surrender, total.
So, we must take an example of the river and say, "Well, look at this. The river bed goes lower and lower to permit the water to flow, from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low - the ocean. Are we prepared to be like that?" Remember, Babuji Maharaj said, "He who wants to be a preceptor is unfit to be a preceptor." I am sorry to say it, but anybody who wants to be a preceptor is unfit. Because without knowing what it is to be a preceptor, what is the work involved, what you have to do, how can you want to be a preceptor? It only means I am arrogant, I am proud and I wish to have a certificate and say, "Oh, I am a preceptor of Shri Ram Chandra Mission." With this work there must be love for the Master - love Him who loves all. Babuji gave a caution that we should never love the abhyasis because we think we are serving them. "No, no, my abhyasi." Every preceptor says, "He's my abhyasi, he's my abhyasi," and the abhyasis say, so and so is my preceptor. Nobody between you and your Master!
It is like, you know, electric current flows through a wire, water flows through the river bed, but a river bed without water is useless. Nobody goes to a dry river. What can you do in it? So, it is what flows through that is important. The vessel must be, as I said, flexible, not rigid, capable of conveying without blocking.
Babuji knew how to select his preceptors based only on their willingness, because, after some time in Sahaj Marg as abhyasis, when the desire, true desire grows in the heart that I must be like my Master, then the need to serve - it's not a desire to serve, it's a need to serve. And Babuji says, "Come, sit down."
So this is the way the heart deals with us, and this is the way how we must deal with the heart - both my spiritual heart which is my Master, and my physical heart which houses my Master. I have to look after them, love them, nourish them properly, cherish them, in turn for them to nourish me, cherish me and to make me exist, clean, decent, honourable - a life of service in which the self does not figure at all. The 'I' should never be there. And if people are there who are fit for this, they are the true arteries of the Mission, and the Mission will grow, it will grow well, because the blood that flows through that will be of utter purity, divinely pure, and what it goes into, they will be pure, they will in turn grow. And that is the way in which an organization must grow from the beginning to the end: nourished with purity coming out of love, a service coming out of love; not a service of dependence, not a service based on ego, not on a service which is most troublesome and derogatory to human existence based on the concept of reward. "If I give a sitting what will I get?" Such a question must never arise in a preceptor's heart. Not even in an abhyasi's heart.