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Understanding Spirituality

by Chariji, February 7, 2009, Sonepat, India.

With the permission of General Harbhajan, my brother, I would like to speak in English, because we have so many guests and abhyasi brothers and sisters from abroad who should also understand what we have to say. They should not misunderstand me when I say that spirituality is hardly understood outside India.

From times immemorial, India has been the home of spirituality, of spiritual life. It has been the producer of the greatest saints in this world, innumerable saints; only a few are known today in our history — outstanding names like saint Kabir. But hundreds of rishis [seers], tapasvis [ascetics], who have laboured and achieved their spiritual goal, are lost in the mists of time, as they say. There too among the rishis we know a few: Vishwamitra, Vashishta.

So there has been so much of spiritual history in this country that we today in this modern existence have overshadowed all that by our material ambitions for wealth, for success, for name and fame. I have pointed out in one of my talks with Babuji Maharaj, my revered guru, that there was a problem with India which has been there also from time immemorial. One section of the people retired from public life, from material life, went off into the jungles, into the pahaad [mountains], and were lost — they achieved, they left. Even what they left as their teachings have been lost. Another section, the greater section of people, became involved in business, in commerce, in all this sort of thing — totally materialistic. So India became divided into either spiritual or material.

I am happy to say that as far as I know personally, Sahaj Marg is the first system which has sought to combine the two and to bring spiritual life into our material existence, acknowledging the fact that as long as we are in the body, incarnate, there is no escape from the material life. We have to live, we have to eat, we have to breathe, we need shelter — all compulsions of existence which make us look for jobs, earn money. But in that pursuit, we should not get lost in making more and more, more and more, more and more — of what? As Babuji said, “More and more of less and less.” The more we make of material life, the less we make of spiritual life until the graph crosses and there is no spirituality left in us.

It is a very tragic thing that a land with so much history, so much spiritual wealth, history of saints, history of people who have achieved everything, avataara purushas [divine incarnate beings] have come here, the Ganges flows here, and yet we today are bereft, we are lost, until, like my little brother here, we have to sing, “Have mercy on me. O Lord, have mercy on me.” Babuji said, “Why do we have to ask for mercy?” Only criminals seek mercy, only sinners seek mercy. I don’t seek mercy from my father. I don’t go on my knees to my father and say, “Father, have mercy on me.”

Babuji Maharaj said, “A son should be able to proudly walk up to his father with his head held high and say, ‘Daddy I have come home. I don’t need anything because I already have everything. I don’t have to ask you for anything because this is my home. Everything in this house is mine, too. I don’t have a share, I have this whole place to myself as you also have it for yourself, as they all have it for themselves.’”

This is the secret of a spiritual life, where one thing can be wholly ours although we are many. This is not a material possession that it has to be shared between brothers, two sisters, we have to make vaseeyats, or wills, fight in court, become jealous, sometimes even, you know, polish off one or two of the claimants. In spirituality, there is only one and it is for all. And if there are a million, there are no million shares. There is still only one and each one of you have that only, but not for yourself.

This is the mystery of spiritual life, of spiritual wealth, that I have everything and I have nothing, in the sense that what I have is also yours; although everything is mine, everything is also yours. So, as long as we live in harmony with brotherly love, it is all ours, it can never be lost. But the moment we separate ourselves and say, “I am different,” “I am from South,” “I am from North,” “I am from East,” “I am from West,” and we make our differences known in our religion, in our way of life, in the dress that we wear, there comes separation, division, hatred, violence.

In all my recent talks in the past three or four years I have been requesting, I have been praying, that you should avoid external manifestation of all these differences, remembering what Babuji Maharaj said:  God has no religion, religion has no God. No religion has a God today. I may be creating anger in you, I may be creating sorrow in you; it does not matter so long as I can awaken the truth in you, that this is right.

To which religion does God belong? Is He Christian? — Not at all. Is He Hindu? — Not at all. Is He Buddhist? — No. Then what is God’s religion? If at all God has a religion, or a thing to say, or to project Himself, to manifest Himself, God is love. So when we learn to love, we become like God. This is the only religion that I know of, about which Babuji spoke in Sahaj Marg. God is love. Learn to love yourselves. As Babuji said, “Love Him who loves all.” First of all we have to learn to love guruji. Everybody used to say, “I love Babuji Maharaj.” I never saw any evidence of that love. Even there, they were selfish, “I love Babuji more than you do.”

I once wrote a letter to Babuji about this business of love. And I expressed the feeling that in me personally, this love seems to be growing and there is no end to this growth. Babuji said, “There cannot be less love and more love. There is love, or there is no love.” “No, no. I love you half and I love him half.” Can I have four brothers, and I say I love each of them twenty-five per cent? And then I suddenly remember I have my father and my mother. So I love father and mother fifty per cent. Out of that, thirty per cent for mother, twenty per cent for father, because fathers are always less in our estimation. Mothers pamper us, love us, accept everything we say and do, and say, “Beta, phikar na kar [Son, do not worry], I will tell your father. Kyon ji, usko kyon sataatey ho? [Why are you troubling him?]” This is why we love our mother, because she is a buffer between me and discipline.

According to the dharma of India, father is discipline, mother is love, unfortunately. Please remember, it is very unfortunate that in this great country, love and discipline have never been made to come together. We think that where there is discipline, there cannot be love, and where there is love, there need not be discipline. Therefore we run around like buffalos, like cows, raising the dust, making the whole countryside suffer because we are there. So that nowadays, if you want to build an ashram, people say, “Why here? It is going to cause a nuisance. They will start singing bhajans [devotional songs] — lara lappa lara lappa. And then you will not be allowed to sleep.” This is the name today, the reputation that we have gained as spiritual people. Babuji Maharaj said, “What is the language of God?” What is the language of God? Silence. And we are making halla-gulla [hullabaloo] all the time.

I remember one occasion when we celebrated Babuji’s birth anniversary in Ahmedabad. It was a wonderful occasion. There was no clapping, no noise. Babuji was quietly led up to the stage, he sat, satsangh commenced. In the newspaper the next day, there were two paragraphs praising Shri Ram Chandra Mission as the only sanstha [spiritual organization] where they saw thousands of people assembled, where there was no taali bajaana [clapping], there were no flowers dropping from heaven, no noise.

So please learn to show your love in silence. Please learn to show your respect in silence, because by silence shall we know... People must ask us, “What is this? So many people and no noise? What are they doing there in silence?” Then we have an opportunity to talk to them and say, “In silence, I commune with Him, my Maker, because that is the only language He will accept.” I cannot say, “He does not understand other languages,” because God is God. There can be no limit to anything that He can know or do or wish or take. So it would be impertinent to say He cannot understand Punjabi.

So He may understand, but He will not communicate in any language. Or we can say, from Whispers [from the Brighter World] which has been already published, He can communicate in any language. He sends out a vibration. What is the language of love? Do you love in Punjabi? Punjabis will love, but not in Punjabi. Maharashtrians love, but not in Marathi, though they may express their love in Marathi. Tamilians also love, but not in Tamil, which is a very rough language; it is like catching hold of somebody by the neck and saying, “I love you.” Tamil is like that. “Andu gundu thanda paani,” they used to say. When I was in school in Bombay, whenever a Madrasi went, they said, “Andu gundu thanda paani, soda nimbu garam pani.” I don’t know what it meant. Or somebody said, one of my friends, “It’s like putting a lot of pebbles in a copper pot and shaking it; that is Tamil.”

But, language may be rough, language may be sweet. Love is love; God is love. There can be roughness, there can smoothness, there can be softness; it can be delicate, it can be indelicate. You cannot say, “God is love, and therefore you know, He cannot be violent,” because where love is, there must be discipline. If there is one source which is identifiable as a combination of love and discipline, it is God. On earth, we are not able to produce it. Here lovers are lovers, and we take the misaal (the example) of Lord Krishna and the gopis: Baansuri suni toh... [When the flute was heard] they left everything, they left their choolha [stove], they left the rice boiling and ran away.

Babuji said that in the Mahabharata, there is a story that after the Mahabharata war, Lord Krishna is returning to Dwaraka. On the way he meets Uddhava, one of his great devotees. And he tells Uddhava, “Please go and look after these gopis [milkmaids of Brindavan] who love me infinitely. Be their guru.” Uddhava says, “Lord, you yourself are there. Why do you want me to go to them?” He says, “You know, I want you to discipline them. They are infinitely loving, but they have no discipline. Better than them, there are no lovers of God.”

There is the secret you see: that God cannot be a guru whereas a guru can be God to us. My guru is my God. That is why Babuji, when he reached the sublimate state, was able to say, “If I ever saw God, it was because of my guru. To whom therefore should I be grateful, to God or to my guru?” Such a bold question can only come from one who has realized within himself the immensity of that truth that I have seen both, and this brought me There.

So, we must learn to discipline our love; not love discipline. In our public life, our discipline is by enforcement, law enforcement, law and order, police. So we hate it. We hate discipline, because it has been enforced. Many people say, “I hate my father,” because you know, “Study, study, study. Yahaan nahi jaaoge, vahaan nahi jaaoge. [Do not go here. Do not go there.] No cinema. Pareeksha pass kiya? [Did you pass the exam?] All right, I will buy you a bicycle. You did not pass? No halwa [sweet] for three years.”

There starts the problem of fear and temptation which religions have adopted as their only means of survival. Religions cannot survive, any religion, without making you afraid, and without tempting you with progress or gifts or whatever. “Sing my name and I will give you money. Come to worship me.” God does not say; the priest says, [of] any religion. And in some religions which are very violent, if you don’t go, they ask you, “Why have you not come?” I know priests who have asked their members of their religion (who became Sahaj Margis and stopped going), asking them, “What is it that you find there that you don’t get here?” And this poor man had no guts, no courage to answer, because had he answered, in that particular religion they would have finished him off.

So, what is a religion worth which will kill off its aspirants if they even look at another religion? Is it a religion? Is there God in it? Are the priests honest people? Are they telling what God asked them to tell us? What is the answer?

So there comes a time in our life, ladies and friends, and abhyasis, brothers, sisters, there comes a time in our life, in our spiritual path, when, as Babuji said, religion has to go and spirituality has to take its place. Where religion ends, spirituality begins. We are happy to say all these things, again and again. We are happy to tell it for the sake of others. But are we willing to accept that truth in my own life?

I am not asking anybody to destroy any religion. We are not here to destroy anything, least of all, religion. But I am here to evolve out of my religion, whatever it may have been, and know that in spirituality, I am beyond religions, because where all religions come to merge, must be spiritual. There is no more this religion or that religion. Like a tree, every tree has its roots in the ground, but above the ground, every tree is different. Some are mango trees, some are guava trees, some are ganna [sugarcane], some are chaaval [rice]. Isn’t it?

So we must have our roots. We are born — I had no choice, or at least my soul must have chosen. My soul must have dictated before it was born again — you must be taking birth here, and here and here as this and that, so that I can evolve. But when I stick to that, where is evolution?

So please remember, if you want to evolve spiritually, all this talk of “Mujhe paar kara do... [Help me across...],” and all this is rubbish. “Mujhe paar karaane vaala main hoon. [The person to help me across is me.]” Guru can only help. Guru is like a boat. Whether you are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, you have to take a boat to cross the river. Will you say, “Is this a Christian boat? Is there a Christian driving the boat?” We don’t ask. And if somebody asks, you say, “Kya bevakoofi hai? Naiyya hai, bhai, naiyya. [What is this foolishness? This is a boat.]”

So religions are all boats for us to cross. We are religious on this side; cross on the boat, we are spiritual on the other side. You know that story of Lord Ramchandra of Ayodhya and the kevat [boatman]. The kevat took him across, the boat took them across the river and Lord Rama said, “What should I give you?” He said, “Prabhu [Lord], I don’t want anything, but please, as I have made you cross this river, when my time comes, take me across the samsaara saagara [the ocean of life]. That is your return to me. (Mujhe vahaan paar karaa do, jaise maine aapko nadi paar karaayaa.)” He was a wise man. He did not say, “Everybody gives me two annas, I will take eight annas from this fellow” — cheating, lying, humbug. He had the wisdom to say, “As I have taken you across this river, take me across the ocean of life when my time comes.” Let us learn to be like that kevat, that humble boatman who had more wisdom than everybody combined in this world today. It can only come because he accepted Lord Rama as a great person, as a spiritual giant; not as my religion and your religion. Understand?

So my appeal to you is to forget religion, because now you are in Sahaj Marg. I was... people must be able to say, “I was a Sikh,” “I was a Muslim,” “I was a Christian,” “I was a Buddhist,” “I was a Kayasth,” “I was a Vaishnav,” whatever. What are you today? I am nothing. I am a man of God. I am going towards God. So you may find out what I am; it is for you to introspect, extrospect, think of me, think of yourself and say, “Oh, he must be this.” And what is it? He is nothing. You understand?

So until I become nothing, until I have no language except silence, until I have no thought except of Him who is in my heart — as he said antaryaamin [inner Self] — we should not listen to music because it is pleasing to our ears. He sang three beautiful bhajans. How many of you have understood the message? And how many of you are willing to live by that message? Simple things — music.

So, abhyasi brothers and sisters, I pray for all of you. Please learn to be wise about your life — not religious about your life, wise about your life. If God is available only in church, or in some mosque, or in some gurudwara [Sikh place of worship], or in some mandir [temple], he is no more any God. We say on one side, God is everywhere (sarvavyaapi), He knows everything (sarvajna), and yet we question and say, “My way is the only way.” I can also say, “My way is the only way,” [chuckles] meaning spirituality, Sahaj Marg.

To conclude this talk I would like to announce (I hope all of you will be happy), that during the year 1st April 2009 to 2010, I shall be able to release funds for the construction of an ashram in Chandigarh.