The Spirit of Inquiry
by Chariji, September 26, 2009, Kolkata, India.
Dear Brother Alberto, dear Sister Veronique Nicolai, dear Sisters and Brothers,
There is always a danger in asking an old man to speak, because they go on for ever and ever. They don’t know when to stop. But I will confine myself to a few minutes, just to say that Brother Alberto and Sister Veronique, whom I have known for several decades now, form the backbone of this program. It is called, I think, the Scholars’ Training Program, which initially gave me a rather wrong idea about the whole thing, because we are not training scholars; we are training you to be scholars. People are recommended by local prefects (preceptors), zones-in-charge, as people who are seriously interested in Sahaj Marg, who are committed to their spiritual life for their own benefit, and therefore who want to develop more and more in the spiritual field — essentially internally by sadhana. And perhaps of equal importance, gain some knowledge and wisdom about not merely Sahaj Marg and its philosophy, but about the ideas of God, religion, how they have contributed to our life during the past twenty centuries or so, and how, of course, they have also taken us off the path in many ways (to which wrong performance I think all religions have contributed, some more, some less, but none of them have really not done disservice to us).
So you may consider this as an introduction to Sahaj Marg, because many of you are new abhyasis. When I say new, I mean you are not old — not one year old, some of you a few months. But it is easy to see who is dedicated and who is not, and that is the first idea of our process of selection and this course which accepts you to train you to be scholars. So please don’t run away with the idea that you are already scholars, because scholarship is something which evades all of us.
People are generally curious and, as the old English adage says, curiosity killed the cat. We are not here for curiosity’s sake. Curiosity just provides answers which are not impressed upon the mind. It is like saying, “Which is the way to Dharamtolla?” and you say, “That,” and that’s enough. You don’t remember it again a second time. We are not here to foster your curiosity or to promote it. Here we are for what Babuji called ‘inquiry’ (spelt with an ‘i’) — i-n-q-u-i-r-y — the spirit of inquiry, to inquire into things, into the nature of things, into the philosophy behind the ways of life.
What is it that supports the various religions? Apparently it is God. What is God? Who is God? Where is God? Does He exist? What do we mean by this question: does He exist? Because philosophically speaking, as my Master pointed out once, you cannot ask this question “Does God exist?” if God did not absolutely exist. You cannot ask this question of something which doesn’t exist. You always ask with this inner support of the soul, that it exists, therefore I can ask a question about it. Philosophically speaking, you can’t ask a question about something which is absolutely not.
So these are the trends of thought that we try to develop here. And we all know that in two weeks or four weeks, you are not going to become really scholars, but you are going to become serious students, hopefully jijnaasus — seekers, not merely one who wants to learn and become serious, but who wants to now seek out the truth: where is it? And I hope this course, which as Brother Alberto rightly pointed out, we are indulging in for the first time with an Indian group — we have had several groups of overseas abhyasis from all over the world, but this is the first time we are essaying into the field of India.
Hitherto, we have perhaps been, shall we say, self-deluded by the fact that India is a holy and spiritual country, and our people don’t need basic instruction. I was never part of that fallacious idea, but it helped to go on with that idea because Indians are always talking of God, of ethics and what not. It was a wrong assumption to think that we know everything about what we are speaking about. And after our trial and experimentation and, if I may say, successful experimentation with overseas groups who know nothing of India and its religions, nothing of the way that the Indian thinks about God, nothing of the way in which Indians approach God — which, by and large, ninety-eight percent is trash, rubbish. Nevertheless, like you have I think hundreds of tonnes of ore before you can produce one kilogram of gold, so we have to deal with mass to get something of essence.
A whole vineyard of grapes may produce one bottle of wine. A whole nation, a population like ours in India, may produce one saint, one scholar, one good philosopher — but he exists. And since no process of election can really find such a person, we have to go into a field where we can look for them, not merely with our eyes and with our head, but with our heart. The preliminary choice has been made; you people are here present, I am told some forty of you. I hope you will pay attention not merely with your brain, but with your heart to what you will be put through the next four weeks — learn to speak with your brothers and sisters, not to find fault but to see what they have accumulated.
You know, when I was, long ago, in the University Officers’ Training Corps as it was called, in Benaras, we once set out on a route march, and it was twenty miles up and twenty miles down. And at the third mile, one boy fainted; at the fifth mile, another. There was a lorry following us, a military truck. I did not know why it was there, but it was there because the officers knew that people would fall off, you know, unable to do the route march. Then one fellow was seen borrowing his neighbour’s water bottle to drink. The whole column was stopped and the man who offered the bottle was punished. And he was told by our commanding officer, “Don’t think that I am unkind, young man. It is all right here; you are there with another bottle of water to help him. But if he is in an actual field of battle, he would die if there was no bottle of water.”
So that is the army way of discipline, of training, by putting you through fire. Here we put you through an ocean which my Master has called the ocean of bliss — not that this is the ocean of bliss, but where you will have some taste of what that bliss can be, when you are wise enough to appreciate it, when your heart is open enough to accept it, and when your soul can say, “This is it.”