by Chariji, January 12, 2006, Chennai, India.
I am always happy to meet you all, as you all know. But, I must say, this time I am not so happy, because I find that inmates are not cooperating with the Mission Ashram Management. They are behaving irresponsibly, they are behaving as if they are living in a hotel, and they don’t think they are abhyasis who have a commitment to the Mission, to this ashram, to themselves. Babuji Maharaj said anybody who serves the Mission will be rewarded—spiritually. I don’t think you have digested that message. All these ten or eleven years that we have this ashram here, I have tried to treat you all as children, my children. There is no difference between you and me. I don’t treat you as inmates, I don’t treat our staff as workers, I don’t treat our gardeners, the cooks, as anything but brothers who do service to the Mission. I am afraid you don’t reciprocate that loyalty, and therefore I have to really feel a sense of, not only unhappiness but sorrow, that my children are behaving in this irresponsible way and treating this ashram as nothing more than a goshala [cow shed]—good food, good air, good water, good accommodation, no responsibility.
So you see, it is with some pain that I have to talk to you all, because there has been an unwritten commitment that you are all volunteers permitted to live here, eat here, enjoy the atmosphere of the ashram, and in return for which you will do some work—not as servants but as children do in their home. You know if you have a home and you have parents, you do some work at home, isn’t it? The girls do the kitchen work: they sweep the floor, they wash the clothes. The boys bring the newspaper from outside, go to the market, bring vegetables—because it is their home. Now when you behave irresponsibly it means this is not your home; you are only travelers—musafir. And you have not really made the Mission yours; you have not made the ashram your home. Just because you pay some money to the Mission to cover the expenses, you think you are guests. I must tell you that this is not the right attitude and it will not in any way pay you in the long run.
I have examples of volunteers here who do excellent work—the outstanding example is William. You all see him working all day. He has never asked for anything; he doesn’t expect anything. His love for his Master, for his Mission, keeps him here. Where is it in you all? You go, you come, you come at eleven o’clock, you expect your food to be placed before you; you are not even willing to wash the plates. Bathrooms are dirty, toilets worse. Because I am old and I am not able to go around everyday as I used to, even the gardens are not clean. And as for the mango grove, I was ashamed to see this evening the state in which it is kept, because they too think it is their house, their property, you see. Cleanliness is not their problem; I have to keep it clean!
So I am really sorry that I have to address you all; there are so many of you and so little work done by any of you here. I have had to take some real decisions, one of which is to raise the monthly contribution to fifteen hundred rupees. In the last five years everything has gone up, you know, and your food is still the same quality. The Mission cannot afford to subsidize so much. Everyone of you know that if you go out, you will not be able to exist without spending at least six, seven thousand rupees. Do you think so? Anyone of you? So from 1st January I am sorry you have to pay fifteen hundred rupees and I expect you to abide by that commitment. Kitchen will be closed at half past eight; those who are not there will have no food. You cannot come back from the movies at eleven o’clock and expect food to wait for you. You will have to eat outside.
There are people who have not given their donation for many months. You have a list? And if you cannot make a small donation like this, I am sorry; what to do with you I don’t know.
But as I say, we do much more for you than you do for the Mission, or you will ever do for the Mission. What the Master does for you spiritually nobody can do for you. There is no question of how much to pay. All your sittings are free. Do you pay anything for sittings? Do you pay anything for electricity? I am afraid that we have to enforce discipline more, shall we say, strictly in the future. Ashram manager and estate manager—they are responsible to me now for keeping the ashram clean and for making sure that everybody is in bed when the bell rings. And that you are awake in the morning when the bell rings again. And I want to see all of you in the 6:30 meditation. If you are not in the 6:30 meditation, continuously for some time, I am sorry I’ll have to request you to vacate the ashram and go out.
You know, there are organizations where there are life members entitled to stay for three nights in a year, and they pay twenty-five thousand rupees, fifty thousand rupees. They get free food for three days. They have to wake up at 4:30 and be in dhyan [meditation]. If they are not, they are sent out. Meditation is the only purpose for which we exist here. This ashram has no other meaning, no other purpose. Our life is meditation; we wake up to meditate, we meditate before we go to sleep. Therefore I insist that all inmates must attend the 6:30 am meditation without fail. If you are not there for more than three days, you’ll have to come and tell me why you are not there. You must come yourself; I will not call you. I expect you to be honest at least to that extent. And I don’t want stories of, you are busy and, “I am working here,” and “I am working there.” You understand? Sunday meditation is obligatory, mandatory—you must be there. I let you stay here only for meditation. If you are not interested in meditation, you are not even entitled to be called an abhyasi and you have no more any right in this Mission to stay as an inmate. I want this enforced. Okay?
Now I think I have said everything. I find a lot of food is wasted, and we are to create a special pit so that the wasted food can be converted into manure. Babuji used to almost weep when he saw food being wasted, and I don’t like it either. Eat as much as you want but there will be no waste. If there is waste of food I will have to make measured meals available to you—no extras. I am not threatening but I cannot afford to waste food when we are paying so much, you know—double for rice, double for daal, double for sugar. I cannot afford to waste money like that. That is an important point. Next important point is water. Of course you know water is a problem in this country. You have to look at water as if it is milk. You understand?
So I think that’s all I have to say, or is there something else? That’s all? And with a force of—what?—one hundred and sixty people living in this ashram I find the place dirty, I find leaves everywhere. You know, it is not only the work of the gardener. If you are there you should pick up a broken branch and put it away. Babuji Maharaj used to stoop and pick up kooda [trash]—my Master. I agree you may not drop anything, but what prevents you from picking it up and throwing it away? So please remember—all of you have all the work that you can do. Don’t say, “Oh, maali aake kaam karega. [Oh, gardener will come and do the work.]” If you see a plate lying unwashed, wash it. It is not below your dignity. Isn’t it? If you see a toilet not clean, clean it—instead of going and complaining to the manager that toilets are not kept clean. You follow?
Now that is all I have to say. I hope I don’t have to talk about this again, because I like my children to be clean themselves, keep where they are living clean, eat clean food, keep the atmosphere clean and live here for the purpose of meditation and spiritual growth. I hope you’ll abide by that.
There will be no cooking permitted anywhere in the ashram and all will have to eat in the dining room. There will be no exceptions except sick people. If you are sick, really sick, you can have your food brought to you wherever you are. Otherwise there is no excuse; there will be no exceptions; you have to come there and eat your food. Other points I have said. And if you want to cook your own food, we will not be able to issue provisions for it. Anybody who wants to cook and eat, himself or herself must buy their own provisions. My hospitality stops with my kitchen and my dining hall. It applies to all. I am sorry to say some people are making trouble, and I don’t want trouble. Any troublemakers—I will request that they leave and go home.
I am really sorry to close this meeting on such a note but I don’t say anything that is not deserved. I am a fair person and I am sorry to see that if I don’t go around the ashram, it is not kept properly, it is dirty. We are behaving like the average Indian who will cross the red light if there is no policeman there—any Indian. He may be a millionaire, he may be working for Microsoft; still his car will pass the red light if there is no policeman to stop him. So we need a red light and a policeman. But those days are going and soon there will be more strict enforcement of rules even by the police.