Meditation and Selfless Action
By Swami Rama
On the temple of Delphi it is written, “Know thyself.” How can you know the self? There are two diverse approaches. Western philosophy says go from the gross to the grosser and then to the grossest aspect of life. That is the Western approach. The Eastern approach is to go from the gross to the subtle and then to the subtlest aspect of life. Both are searching for unity in diversity. There is no difference. However, it is easier to go within. Because if you go within, there is no chance of getting lost. If you go outside, you may get lost. You may become a victim of worldly charms and temptations. Therefore, the simple way is to learn to sit still and go within. You don’t have to call it meditation, you can give it any other name.
Man has made many experiments on mind, matter and energy. These experiments have been made because man wants to attain another level of consciousness, a higher civilization. He is not attaining it because there is so much disparity. Those who have attained look like fools in the world and those who have not attained look like they have attained. If we really want to attain the next step of civilization, a higher civilization, then we should learn to look within, find within, and be within. This exploration is missing. I do not say that there is nothing outside, no, no, no.
So far, do you think that the knowledge you have received in the external world, is called right knowledge? This knowledge, received through your sense perception, and by your conceptualization and analysis is limited. This knowledge is important only for dealing with the external world, the world of objects. There is another library within you called the infinite library from where you receive knowledge. That knowledge does not need verification. You will never need to ask your husband, friend, boss or anybody, “Am I right, sir?” Because you know it and know that you know it. And there is no conflict, and you don’t need any evidence. That state of mind seems to be the very state of contentment, it brings and gives you great contentment. Therefore you should learn to meditate.
All the schools in the world and your parents teach you how to behave in the external world, how to have education from this school and that school and how to become a professional, a scientist, a philosopher or a businessman. Real schooling comes when you become aware of yourself, when you start questioning life, though living in the world. I have all the amenities of life, what next? Am I happy? What next? Then you become a seeker of happiness, a seeker of truth, a seeker of bliss. So, you say Lord help me and He helps you.
When truth is universal, Brahman [the absolute reality or truth] is universal, how is it possible for you to be excluded from that highest truth which is everywhere? It means, He is in you and you are in Him. Then where are you? Your existence is not your existence. So the moment you come to know this truth you are free from all bondages, from all ignorance, stress and strain. Therefore, O man, realize that the kingdom of God is within you, the Lord of life is the highest of all. Anyone who has realized this, would like to go to his innermost self. And there is a way for that. I am not talking about Hinduism, I am not talking about Buddhism, I am not talking about Christianity, I am not talking about Islam. I am talking about something universal. The moment you realize that the absolute truth which is not subject to change, death, and decay is within you, then you attain a freedom, freedom from fears, all fears. That is called the state of enlightenment and that can be considered to be a state of perfection. Therefore, learn to go to the deeper aspect of your being. Everyone should learn to meditate so that he’s free from many, many diseases. That meditation should be simple, a purely scientific technique, without putting any brand, like Hindu meditation, Buddhist meditation, Zazen, Zen meditation, Christian meditation or Jewish meditation. These teachers have destroyed the whole philosophy of meditation. Meditation is a simple method.
If your meditational technique is not complete, let me assure you, you cannot go far. What happens? There is a serious weakness among the teachers and gurus these days. They will put a color on it, my meditation, that teacher’s meditation. Meditation is meditation, they put a brand on it. Thus they disturb the system. This is a system that should lead you beyond your body, senses, breath, conscious mind, unconscious mind and then to the center of consciousness which is called soul within you, the main source of light and life within you. You do not need any religion to support your meditation.
Who taught meditation for the first time? Indian woman. I am going to give you that history. Outside every village there is a plaza with a well. Indian women go there in the evening to fetch water, balancing vessels of water on their heads. Women like to speak to each other about their pains and express themselves. They will dance, cry, laugh, discuss family problems with each other, but their vessels will not fall off their heads. This is called meditation in action. You do your duties no matter where you go, whatever you do, but you do not forget your atman, the Lord seated deep down within you. So no matter what you do, the consciousness should not fall. Who is the founder of the school of meditation? Not man, but woman, remember that.
Long ago in China, there were two vehicles of Buddhism that traveled from India. One through Tibet, and another through Southeast Asia. That vehicle which traveled from the north is called Mahayana, the great vehicle and that which went through the southeast is called Hinayana, compact vehicle. Nobody in China knew anything about meditation. So this Buddhist teacher sat against the wall for fourteen years meditating. That attracted everyone’s attention. What is this? How it is possible for a man to face the wall and meditate thus for fourteen years? They asked, “Which religion do you come from?” He said, “Meditation.” Everybody was surprised. That school of meditation became very famous. Meditation is actually not a part of any religion. It is exploring yourself, exploring the deeper aspects of your being, and finally leading you to the center of consciousness within. Anywhere you bifurcate, you mingle any other thing, then it’s not meditation, you are disturbed. There is no chance for you to come in touch with the negative part of life if you are doing meditation correctly.
Many of the western religions are afraid of the word meditation. Meditation means a journey without movement. In all journeys of the world you have to move and then you go forward. But there is one journey where you do not move, yet you go forward. That is called journey without movement. You first learn how to sit. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Something great! What a simple saying, but how difficult to apply. How will you know God? The easiest way to know God is to look within, to find within, to be within. But the Christians and Jewish people don’t follow this. How to be still, that’s the point. How to be still? What is that stillness? If I tie you with a rope to the trunk of a tree to make you still, will you become still? What it means is that without being still, you cannot know the truth, that’s the point. First of all you should learn how to be still.
But no Christian follows it, nobody wants to be still. No church teaches you how to be still. I’ve been around the world, visiting many churches, they don’t know how to be still. “Swami, do you know how to be still?” I said, “Yes, that’s what I learned in the Himalayas.” “But you are a Hindu,” they said. I replied, “A swami’s a swami, he’s not Hindu or Christian or Muslim, he does not belong to any religion, he’s beyond all religions.” “Oh! Then I want to learn.” I love Christianity, but what disturbs me is churchianity. I love Islam, but what disturbs me is fanaticism. I love Hindus, with their great scriptures, immense wealth, but they never study them, they never follow them. These orthodox religions are enveloped with the dust of ages, and they are not helpful to us, they don’t touch the corners of our daily life. Therefore we have to learn to understand life with all its currents and cross-currents.
When I went to Salt Lake City, I was invited to a monastery because I was a monk and they were monks. And we had very frank discussions. Wherever I am invited, I share my joy and partake of their joys. When my turn came, I said, “All of you have studied the Bible, right?” They said, “Yes.” “Do you practice?” They said, “Yes, literally, we practice.” I said, “Jesus says, when somebody slaps you, turn the other cheek. How many of you have done it?” None of them had. I said, “Can you tell me the meaning of this? I give you twenty-four hours to think about it. I am here as your guest.” They said, “But you are not a Christian.” I said, “How do you know? How do you know that I’m not a Christian? Perhaps I’m a better Christian. So after twenty-four hours we will decide who is a true Christian and who is not.” So next evening, we renunciates re-assembled and they said, “We cannot tell you.” I said, “It’s a very simple question. Who is that man in life, whom you can slap and he will give you the other cheek? A child sits on the father’s lap and slaps him and father gives him the other cheek and the child goes on slapping. Nobody does it except a father or mother. It’s a simple answer.” They said, “Yes, you are right.” When you have become a father, then you can tolerate the kicks and blows of the world, nothing happens to you. That’s the meaning of this. Practicality is missing from religions, that’s why nobody is following religions, no one.
The school of meditation is systematic and therefore suits people like scientists. The method of meditation should also be systematic. If it is not systematic, if it is abrupt, if it is colored by some religious myths then it could be a negative sort of meditation, then you come in touch with your negativity. This means your method of meditation is not systematic. Systematically follow the inward journey, a journey without movement. In this journey you have to be still and quiet. That is called meditation, learning to sit still. You have to prepare yourself to learn not to move. From your childhood onwards you are taught to move. Nobody teaches you how to be still. Yoga science teaches you, gives you some practicum, says, learn to be still by being steady and comfortable. For a few minutes every day you should learn to practice this, everyone should. It’s very therapeutic.
A few minutes of meditation, then prayer and then contemplation. Fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation will help you, will help you throughout the day. But if you meditate one day and say it’s enough for a week, that’s not good because there is no food in the world that lasts you for a whole week. Confucius beautifully said that if you do not meditate regularly, if you miss a day, you miss a year’s progress. Learn to meditate every day. All the joys that you have experienced so far are nothing compared to the joy that you derive through meditation, the greatest of all joys. You go to the source and from there you come out with that joy. So learn to meditate.
Patanjali, the codifier of yoga science, a great master of meditation, instructs his students, satu deergha kale nairantarya satkara sevito dhrudda bhumi. “O student, learn to sit every day at the same time.” Why? Because it will be easy for you to form a habit. Today your mind travels in certain grooves and every day the mind is traveling through these grooves. And you do not know what to do with your mind. It’s an old habit and you do not know how to change this habit. Many times you know that it is not good, yet you do it. You drink, you know it’s not good but you cannot break that habit. Why? Because your mind leads you into the grooves of your habits. What do you have to do? You have to create new grooves for the mind to travel in, instead of those old grooves. Mind stops traveling here and starts traveling there. Repeated actions create grooves in your mind. Repeated new actions will create new grooves. So meditation is conscious effort. It should make your mind one-pointed and inward. It’s very pleasant. That which leads you to your negativity is called suggestion, it’s called hypnosis, not meditation. That’s the difference. I will tell you the difference between these two. You are suggesting, “Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep.” This is called auto-suggestion. Your doctor says, “Now you are sleeping, you are sleeping, you are sleeping.” That’s called hypnosis. Hypnosis has two sides, somebody hypnotizes you or you hypnotize yourself.
Prepare yourself, in the morning after a wash, sit down for a few minutes. Let the people at home know that Daddy meditates or Mommy meditates. It influences children. Do you know that if you record the thought waves of a sleeping child when you meditate you’ll find they are different? Even your pets are influenced by your meditation. It even affects your plants at home. It’s a very powerful thing. It sends out good vibrations to all. If you are a meditator and think that you are going to be harsh to your husband after meditation, you cannot. You go to your puja room and pray, and then say, let me give a bit of my mind to my husband, you will not be able to. It’s very good for the wife and husband relationship. It’s very good for father and son’s relationship. There is a great gap between a growing son and parents these days. And the mistake lies with the parents, not the sons, because they want to control their son and the son wants to grow independently. There is a generation gap. But when you learn to meditate, you will perhaps understand. You will understand yourself and you’ll understand others. You don’t understand others because you don’t understand yourself. Please start meditating.
You talk of silence. Have you ever realized what silence is? Have you not seen a mother at home asking her children, even her husband, “Please be quiet. I want you to be quiet for some time. I’m tired of doing my duties. Will you please leave me alone for some time?” Every human being wants to be alone for some time. That being alone does not create loneliness for you. Loneliness is very dangerous. It’s ignorance. But that being alone means being all in one. That you like to be. Why do you not regulate your day and decide that you will not leave your home unless you meditate for a few minutes every day? There are some important exercises called exercises without movement. You can do them at home, in fact in your bedroom. Even if you are very lazy, you can do those exercises. Be aware of your diet, then do some breathing exercises and then start doing some meditation. The last part of meditation is called real prayer. Meditation is compact prayer.
Now, what is this meditation, meditation on whom? It’s a very simple technique. First learn to sit straight in the easy posture on the floor, keeping your head, neck, and trunk straight. If you cannot sit on the floor, you can sit on a chair with your hands on your knees. Gently close your eyes and systematically survey your body from head to toe. Your mind will tell you which part of the body has some strain. You’ll find there is some physical tension which is related to your mind, your emotions. So you are surveying, relaxing every part of the body systematically, going down to the toes and then coming up to the crown of your head. Attend to your breath after that. Push in your abdomen as you exhale, which helps your diaphragm to expel the carbon dioxide, the used up gas. When you exhale, feel as though you are exhaling all your problems, worries, and pains. When you inhale, inhale as though you are receiving energy from the atmosphere. And then do not think of breath and mind, go beyond, and watch your thinking process. A thought comes and goes away. Let it go. Learn to inspect, this is introspection. Be vigilant. This way you will find that thoughts which are coming from the basement of your mind, the unconscious part of your mind, where you have stored many impressions from your daily life are not affecting you. You are being a witness. During that time your mind, nervous system, fine set of muscles, all the tissues and cells will get perfect rest. Of course meditation is a technique that leads you beyond this witnessing of your thoughts. Even if you cannot go beyond, it’s very healthy to sit still. Any method of meditation is helpful, healthy and very, very useful. Learn to sit quietly and teach your children to do so also.
Learning to meditate means learning to explore the dimensions which are not known to you. Many aspects of your personality are not known to you. You are wonderful. Anything that is considered to be bad is not yours. It has come from outside. Anything that is good is already yours. Examine this, this is true. The school of meditation is healthy, therapeutic and calming.
The highest of all joys on this earth is meditation. After all worldly joys what happens to you? You are tired. What do you do? You go to bed, you say you want to relax. What type of joy is it that makes you tired? All your joys finally make you tired and then you want to sleep. When a fool goes to sleep does he come out a sage? No, he comes out a fool. But if a fool goes into meditation, he comes out a sage, he doesn’t come out a fool. So there is difference between sleep and meditation. Sleep is an unconscious act, you get rested, a part of you is rested, but a part never gets rest. That’s why you look tired, you feel loss of energy.
So consciously if you learn to go beyond that state which is called sleepless sleep, that is called meditation, it’s wonderful. You don’t have to run away from home, you don’t have to go to a monastery, go to a swami or to a guru. Just learn to sit down wherever you are at home, regulate your life for a few minutes in the morning and evening. Make it a part of your schedule, it’s very helpful. Even if you just imitate the process, it will help you. Suppose you are not doing meditation, but you are sitting quietly. The autonomic nervous system and the finest muscles will get rested. When a mother is sitting in meditation, her child comes and sits, imitating the mother. Do you think the child is meditating? No, but I say the child is meditating better than the mother. Even imitating meditation is very helpful. Make efforts, conscious efforts to have control over your mind. It is very healthy, very therapeutic. It will bring you in touch with that dimension of life which is not normally known by you. Don’t leave your home unless you meditate for few minutes every day. The moment you wake up, sit down in meditation.
Meditation is very easy provided you learn meditation from someone who himself has been trained on the path. Meditation has two purposes. There is a human reservoir which is termed kundalini according to the scriptures, and there is a technique that is called sushumna application. If you have learnt many breathing exercises but if you have not learned sushumna application, it’s not helpful. Sushumna means sukha mana, joyous mind. To apply sushumna means to create a condition for the mind so that mind is joyous and wants to go inside instead of going outside. Mind has formed the habit of going outside, to the outside world, to the world of objects. Mind does not want to go inside to the world without objects. Here you make the mind inward, you follow the journey without movement. It’s a great joy when you learn to do it correctly. And you don’t have to sit the whole day and become a swami or yogi. Early in the morning, as well as in the evening, when you have completed your duties and the sun starts going to bed, at the wedding of day and night, sandhya, you can sit for few minutes and learn to understand, to compose yourself, to go into that silence where you receive everything.
You have to know how to make your body still. A few days you will find that the body rebels. When I first went to the West, they asked me to come and speak at Los Angeles, at the university. Everybody was shaking like this. I said, “What are you doing?” Their teacher said, “Our kundalini is awake.” I said, “If I don’t speak the truth, it’s not good. But if I speak the truth it’s bad too. What to do?” I said, “Look here, if you are moving like this, in a drugged state, and then say kundalini is awakened, forget it. This is not kundalini.” That latent power, energy in you, when it awakens, it goes through various centers and it’s scientific. I understand that, but there is a system for it. You don’t drug yourself, then start hallucinating and call it kundalini awakening, no! Some of them agreed with me, some of them left because they were drug pushers. Don’t go towards hallucination.
If there is no disturbance, then you are in meditation. If there is disturbance, if you are hallucinating, expecting, desiring, then that’s not meditation. Signs and symptoms of meditation are calmness, happiness, and bliss. Suppose you fight with your wife. But if you meditate, even imitate meditation, after that you will not like to fight with her. It’s a concrete symptom. Those husbands who are great fighters, they should learn to meditate. Those wives who are great naggers, they should learn to meditate. It’s very healthy for you.
We try to hide our insecurities by wearing good clothes, by being vain outside, though full of fears inside. It’s true, we all have that split personality, dual personality. No one knows us because we don’t want them to know a part of ourselves. The real part of ourselves is never known to us. We are three selves, the real self, not known; a part that we don’t want others to know, our petty, so-called weaknesses; and the face or mask we wear for others. For example, how free you are in the bathroom. You have no clothes on, but you are not ashamed because you are by yourself. Then you wear a loose gown in front of the family members. But to go out, for a wedding, you wear very fancy clothes. But if your husband were to say, “Honey, please dress the way you dressed up for the wedding always,” will you be free? No. All the impositions of wearing this and that are not to your liking. You are playing a role for others but you are not happy playing these roles in the external world. You feel that you are missing something. In reality you need to understand yourself on all dimensions, and for that you should learn to go within yourself, because that no one teaches you.
You say that I have been doing meditation for a long time, nothing has happened. That’s not possible. That’s untrue because it’s against the law of karma, it’s against science. You throw a rock somewhere, will it not hit something? How is it possible for that rock to vanish in thin air? Not possible! When you are doing something, you’re bound to reap the fruits. If you are truly meditating, you will certainly be benefited. But what do you do? You sit down and then get annoyed with your wife. “She has not cooked the meal properly on time, she doesn’t listen to me.” And the wife is going, “My husband doesn’t care for me.” What you do in the name of meditation is not meditation, my dear. You are afraid of your wife and so you cannot say any strong words to her. So in meditation you are doing all this. I once put a hidden camera and I told twenty students to sit and start practicing. In one minute’s time, their facial expressions changed fifty times. Their thoughts were affecting their facial expressions. When you sit down for meditation, determine that I will not allow myself to be disturbed by anything. That is why there is prayer. Prayer gives you that strength. “O Lord of life and the universe, please help me, give me strength.” Pray for a few seconds and then start meditating. Keeping your head, neck and trunk straight, take some deep breaths and start meditating. It’s a method of going inward, journey from gross to subtle, and then to the subtlest aspects of your being. If you make sincere efforts, you’ll find that the disturbances that you had to face in the beginning like body movements, are slowly disappearing. Body is now still, breath is serene and slowly mind is becoming calm. If you do something half-heartedly, if you do your business half-heartedly, can you expect good results? No. So is the case with meditation.
How is your individual soul related to the cosmic soul? If you understand the philosophy of life, it will become easy for you to practice and understand the role of individual life in our society and then understand the purpose of life here and now. You want to realize God or the Self of all. A human being is great because God dwells in him, lives in him; the highest of all truths, absolute truth, dwells in him. And wherever he moves, that truth, God, has to move with him. But for lack of self-realization, he suffers. All suffering comes from lack of self-realization.
There was a father, a widower, who was lonely and used to drink. He took to drink because he kept remembering his dead wife. He missed her. So he went to the bar and did not return home till two a.m. and the son got worried. The son went to see what had happened to his father. The father was sitting all alone, drinking. The son said, “Father now let’s go home, it’s two in the morning.” He said, “Son, when those two people leave, I will also go.” The son said, “But father, there is only one.”
So when you are intoxicated, you see two instead of one. I see so many faces because I am intoxicated. Beneath all these beautiful faces, there is only one unity. To be aware of that unity, freedom from that intoxication, that’s meditation. When I start meditating, I will not see many faces. Beneath all these beautiful faces, I will see only one unity, one life force. Meditation will lead you to unity, not to diversity. This diversity is because of hypnosis. This is the difference between meditation and hypnosis.
I rarely speak in churches or temples, excuse me, I don’t. Because for me, you are all temples. According to my philosophy every human being is a temple. Which temple is higher than you? If I do not see God in you, and then go to the temple and search for God there, I am not loyal to the Lord, I am not faithful to my Lord. So I directly speak to the living temples that you are. I always make you aware that you are the greatest of all living temples. All these conflicts going on in the world, religious conflicts, will vanish the day human beings understand the real philosophy of life that every human being is a living temple. We should learn not to harm, not to injure, not to hurt anyone and that will be the day of enlightenment for all of us.
I am not against your going to a temple. I think temples, churches and mosques, are community centers, they are essential for communities, but I don’t think they will benefit you much religiously, because you ignore yourself and then go to the temple. What is a temple going to give you? You are a living temple yourself. Please don’t misunderstand me, I also believe in God, but I do not believe in God the way you do. If you want to see the President of America, and say, “I am a beggar. Will you please allow me to come into the White House and meet President Bush?” You will be not allowed to go near the President. You have to be a president yourself if you want to see the President. You have to realize yourself before you meet the Self of all. This is truth and there is a systematic understanding, study and technique. You do not need to retire from the world and go to a Himalayan retreat for realizing the Self. Thou art the greatest of all wonders. The greatest miracle is that infinity dwells in you. You are a finite vessel and you are carrying infinity within. It’s the greatest of all wonders. You are speaking, you are listening, you are thinking, who is giving you that power? That’s why I always say, O man, you are greater than God because God does not have man in him, but you have God in you.
With this understanding you should learn to be very, very practical with yourself. Just try for two-three days, not more than that. I will not speak that which is not to be spoken. I will not do that which is not to be done, according to my own ability. I will not entertain those thoughts which are injurious. One of the great French writers said something beautifully, “If a good thought is not brought into practice it’s either treachery or abortion.” How is abortion treacherous? Ask a woman. For one who understands something about life, if he cannot translate his good thoughts into action, it’s something very treacherous.
What is the goal of life? The goal of life is not to be God, and not to see God. It’s all God. God never created this world. The most ancient scriptures in the library of man today are called Vedas. The Vedas say, prajapatischarati garbhe antaryayamano bahudhavidhayate. The Lord of the universe did not create the universe, no. Then how did it come into existence? The One became many. It manifested, was not created. Where is God? This is all God. Why are you searching? For which God are you searching? This is all God because this is all a manifestation of God. Who else can manifest except one absolute called highest reality or absolute reality? Now, with the help of mathematics which is considered to be the very basis of all sciences today, you can come to the same conclusion. Pick a number, say 92. This 92 will not exist if there is no 1 in it. It will become 91. There is only one absolute and if you repeatedly use that one 91 times, it becomes 91 and then 92. There is only one absolute, which has given all these beautiful faces. Nay, these are the faces of only one absolute. But a human being, because of the dissipation of his mind and its modifications does not assimilate this truth. He roams around in the external world in search of peace. He experiments but he doesn’t obtain that peace.
Now let me give you a picture of society. What is happening with us? Either our mind goes to the grooves of the past, or fantasizes about the future. You will never find yourself if you do not know what the ‘now,’ the present, is. You are misusing human potentials because you are not trained, nobody trains you and you are not training yourself. When wife and husband fight, husband says, “Honey, be happy, I’m taking you to Singapore day after tomorrow.” She’s so happy about going to Singapore. Then some family problems come up and they forget about day after tomorrow. Day after tomorrow never comes. Poor honey, she was very happy for only five minutes. What do you do in your daily life? You postpone your happiness. Yes, this is true, because you do not know how to be in the present.
What is missing in your life? The now is missing. You do not know what ‘now’ is. You know the word, you know the meaning, but you do not know what it is. Because your mind knows only how to travel in the grooves of past experiences and how to go forward into the future. Is there any method that helps you to be here and now? It’s important. If you go to the church and pray, “Lord, put me into the here and now,” He is not going to do that. If you go to your neighbor, he is not going to help you. Who’s going to help you? You will have to learn what that ‘now’ means. ‘Now’ is part of eternity. What will happen the moment you come to know ‘now’? If anyone knows this ‘now,’ he knows past, present, and future. And he’s free. And anyone who does not know ‘now,’ cannot know anything, no matter how much astrology he knows, no matter how much he talks.
You don’t have to search for the teacher. When a student is ready, the teacher appears. If you are not ready, teacher will not come even if teacher is there. Kabira beech bazarme charliyo laptay dekhana hara chalegaye pankhiliyo uttay. A diamond was lying enveloped in dust on the roadside. Nobody cared. They thought that it was a piece of glass that was glittering and shimmering. But a jeweler came along. He knew right away and picked it up saying, “It’s not glass. This glow is from a diamond.” When you are prepared, the teacher will come. Don’t worry about the teacher. Don’t search for the teacher. Teacher has to come, this is Providence. Make your best efforts. Don’t just pray, “Now will you please show me the light? Will I have light?” Even if the whole universe prays for you, you will not have light. You will have to open your eyes to see the light.
Every human being needs therapy. In today’s world, I have not seen anybody who is not suffering on account of stress, except one person, Swami Rama. I have no time for it. You have enough time to think useless things, so you suffer. I don’t have the time, I enjoy. I don’t want to come back. Technique alone is not going to help you. You have to build a concept.
When your body becomes calm, there will be turmoil inside. You should know what to do next. So in all the systems, you climb step by step. It’s like a ladder with many steps. One by one you climb the rungs and finally reach the roof. You and I see the horizon through a small window and conclude that the horizon is so small. But a great man comes, says no, no, no. Come here, I’ll take you to the roof where you’ll see that the horizon is vast. It depends upon your perspective, from where you are seeing. Gradually start working with yourself, you will go to the next step and then the next, and so on. I am happy that you are doing it.
There is something beyond this also. I light a lamp. Please pay attention to this. For some time, I protect the lamp from the gentle breeze. But when that light starts growing, it grows to a forest conflagration helped by the same breeze. When you are weak, you need support. But when you have become strong, adversity also helps you. There is nothing like negativity then. In the beginning you need that moral support, you need that inner support. That’s why you go to this person and that person and consult the scriptures. Scriptures and lectures inspire, but practice alone leads you to that.
If this room is dark for 100 years how much time will it take to light it? One second. Let us not go towards that defeatist philosophy. If I am looking at the sun and walking backwards, I will never see anything. I will have to go in the right direction too. As long as we believe in theory and not practice, then we’ll suffer. I have had many experiences in my life where I can say that there is an invisible power that helps me. And why only me? Everybody. If we don’t drink, perhaps we’ll not meet with an accident. So accident is our karma, our foolish actions lead us to this chaotic condition. If we learn how to do our actions skillfully, lovingly and selflessly, we’ll never suffer. That’s why it is said, svese karmanya garbha samsidhim labhate naraha. We all should learn to discharge our duties and by discharging our duties we will go towards perfection.
As a human being, do you lead a liberated life or a life of bondage? If you study the lives of great men, there is one characteristic that you will find in their lives. They were all selfless, everyone of them. Those who practice, practice this point first. I’ll be totally selfless. Once you become selfless you are free from attachments. There is freedom on many levels. There are two worlds in which you live today. There is the world projected by nature, Providence, the world of sun, moon, stars, earth, stones and rocks. Then there is the world created by you: this is my home, that’s not my home, this is my wife, that’s not my wife, these are my children, those are not my children. The world which you have created and superimposed over the world created by nature, binds you, not the world created by nature. First you will have to seek freedom from that world which you have created for yourself.
Freedom, freedom, freedom. What is that freedom? One freedom is freedom from the bondage of karma. Second freedom is freedom from mental confusion. Final freedom is to make a clear concept in life and thus be free. So there are three steps, three levels of freedom. First we’ll describe what is that bondage of karma. You have to study a law which is called universal law no matter which community you come from. This is called the law of karma. Whether you are a Hindu, a Christian or a Buddhist you’ll have to follow it. As you sow, so shall you reap. Avaseva bhoktavyam krutam karma subha subham. You’ll have to reap the fruits of your actions. All the great bibles agree here.
Once my Master said, “Stand there.” We were talking about destiny. I stood. He said, “Will you please lift one foot off the ground?” And I lifted my foot. He said, “Now lift both feet off the ground.” I said, “I’m sorry, I cannot do it.” He thus taught me that 50% of your destiny is in your hands and 50% is with Providence. Will you please play your part so that Providence helps you?
What do we do? We get so involved that we forget our duties. A human being has immense capacity and when he taps that capacity, he can be free from all these bondages. Then he is the creator of his own destiny. Otherwise destiny leads him adrift like dry leaves blown by the wind creating many patterns against the sky. That is not our human destiny. A human being is a perfect being though still incomplete. If he learns to complete himself then there is nothing higher than that.
Your body is connected to your thinking portion, conscious and unconscious mind, with the help of these two guards called inhalation and exhalation. Now, when conscious mind, breath, and body separate from the unconscious mind and soul, it is called death. Separation is called death. Even after death, you carry all the past memories and all your desires in your unconscious mind. It’s like a car, a vehicle, which you drive wherever you go. You are still an individual. When you take off your garment in the bathroom where do you go? When you take off the pillow cover, where does the pillow go? Take off the book cover, where does the book go? It remains there, no problem. The soul is immortal. Soul is like a ripple in the vast ocean of bliss. It comes from that ocean, it plays in the ocean and it subsides in the ocean. It does not go anywhere. It has risen from the ocean as a ripple, and it goes back into the ocean. There are many desires hidden in the unconscious mind. Those desires are responsible for your coming back to this world. You have certain desires to fulfill. Those desires motivate you to come forward, and you need a conscious mind, you need breath and you need a body, all of which you assume again. The day this vehicle is dropped, that is called emancipation and complete freedom. Otherwise you are still an individual. Just as all these people are wearing different colors of garments according to their desire, you assume a body according to unfulfilled desires. Parents and children pick each other, wife and husband pick each other, to fulfill their desires.
There are two words, the word rebirth and the word reincarnation. In English, you have only one word, birth. Sanskrit has some beauty, in Sanskrit there are two words: janma and shrishti. What is janma? Janit pradhurbhave. You don’t see me. This is called janma. I was there, I have come forward. I was in the unseen world, I came forward. That’s called janma, rebirth. You are already there and you came forward, that’s called rebirth. So from the unknown to the known and from the known to the unknown, you are going through two gates. One is called birth, the other is called death. What is reincarnation? In this lifetime you want to serve, you have examined all aspects of life. One day you decide that selfless service to humanity is the greatest of all duties. “I don’t want to be liberated, I don’t want to be selfish. If I am liberated and you are in bondage, what good is that life? I don’t want to live that way, no. I will come back again and serve my people, all people.” So that desire brings you back to the world, and that is called reincarnation. And you serve people because selfless service is such an exact prayer that nobody can deny.
I also believe in this prayer of selfless service, the greatest of all prayers. You don’t expect anything, you just serve. Why? Because that is the only way for liberating others. Therefore you learn to do this. Reincarnation is for that human being who has no desires for himself, but who wants to serve others, lead others. Such human beings are reincarnated to help the masses.
Now, one by one we will touch three levels. How to be free from the bondage of karma? That is universal bondage. It is an accepted fact that as you sow, so shall you reap. Here all the great religions meet. There is no dispute on it. Though Jesus didn’t teach it, he didn’t deny it either. A lot of time is wasted brooding on karma and reincarnation so Jesus thought it’s useless to teach it. He was not wrong. If you go on thinking about your past reincarnations, your present is gone. He was right. There are many paths and all paths lead to one summit. Don’t condemn your path. I know the Bible better than any other book, I have studied it so deeply.
A human being cannot live without doing karma, actions. And when he does some karma he reaps the fruits of the actions. And those fruits lead him to do more actions and there is no end. He creates a whirlpool for himself and he cannot come out of that. Is there any way that you go on doing your actions and yet remain free from the bondage of karma? I say yes. If you grease your karma with love, then you will not have a problem. You have stress today, “My wife doesn’t listen to me.” She thinks, “My husband doesn’t listen to me.” They both are going through self-created stress. But if you simply change the concept, there will be no stress. Stress has become the biggest killer today. Everybody says I have stress, I have stress. Why do you have stress? Wife wants to control the husband, husband wants to control the wife. Why do you want to control anyone? This tussle is going on all the time, in all families and you call it family life and love. When I come to your home, you all smile. When I go outside, then you start fighting. I know that and I understand. I think there can be harmony in the family if there is understanding, understanding on a higher level.
A man in bondage cannot think right. A man in bondage is a slave. A slave has no choice. How to be free from that? If I go on doing my duties, and I give the fruits of my actions to others, I will be free. Where are you committing a mistake? You are not giving up the fruits of your actions though you are doing your duties. Why do you do charity, tell me? You do charity because you think, “I will have a good name.” Then another level of charity, “If I do charity my ego will be cleansed. If I do charity I will get double that in my next lifetime.” Actually, why do you want to do charity? You want to do charity because you are holding on to something. Give away the fruits and be free.
Thus comes freedom from the bondage of karma. There will be no bondage. We are all doing our actions but for others and renouncing the fruit. That’s why the family unit was created. The husband does actions for his wife, his wife for him and both do for their children and they in turn do for other children. So the family is meant to radiate love to all, not hatred. We have to start at home. We should create our family in such a way so that it radiates love.
After having this freedom from the bondage, there is another freedom that we need, confusion created by the mind. You know what is confusion? Very close to profusion. Profusion creates confusion. If you have twenty things to do, you are confused. If you have a few things to do, you will be not confused. Don’t give too much work to yourself. Have 100 things and you cannot manage anything. Let us make a practical formula for practice. All the things in the world, no doubt are meant for you. Enjoy them. But are they yours? No. So don’t get attached to them. Early in the morning, tell yourself, “All the things of the world are meant for me, I will enjoy them, but I have no right to get attached to them by owning them, by possessing them. My wife is for me, my children are for me, my house is for me. But they are not mine, there is no attachment.” This formula should be made and practiced in daily life. Again I’m repeating, all the things of the world belong to Providence. They are given to you. Use them but do not get attached to them. “I cannot be attached to them, for they are not mine, but I am using them.” With this formula you are free from the bondage of karma. Practice it everyday, at least one day, and just see how much delight you experience.
Now there is one saying of the scriptures, why are you afraid of me and why am I afraid of you? Dvitiyadvai bhayam bhavati. I think you are different from me, I am different from you, we are afraid of each other. But the moment I come to know that we are only one, I will never be afraid of you. Here I give an example. At night, my two fingers which are very powerful do not hurt my eyes. My teeth do not bite my tongue unless I am sick. Why? Because all the limbs have the understanding that we belong to only one. The day we form the understanding that we all belong to only one reality, we will not have any conflict. We are living in an unnatural way, that is why we are suffering. This suffering is self-created. And, how can God help you? I cried, I said, “God help me, help me.” He said, “Son, you create problems for yourself. How can I help you? Please help yourself.” I cried. I said, “Somehow or other change my mind.” He said, “Your mind is yours, you have to change it yourself.” Human efforts have to be made. When human effort is complete and you cannot do anything, then you cry for help and help comes from Providence. This is truth.
Freedom comes in gradual steps, or sometimes it comes suddenly as in the case of Valmiki or St. Paul. There is no limit to grace. But grace dawns when you have accomplished your mission in life, when you have made all the efforts. In the ancient scriptures called the Vedas, there was a great rishi called Karnava. Karnav means one who cried. He made all the efforts but he failed. Finally he cried and said, “Lord, I have done my best.” Then, suddenly, he realized. Let us do our best without expecting the results. Results are bound to come, for every action has its reaction.
After every day there is a night and after every night there is a day. This is going on for ages. We are in the night awaiting the day. Let us prepare ourselves, with the hope that our next generation will see light and not follow the darkness. There is always hope and we should live with that hope. That’s why the Upanishads say, uttishtata jagrata praptavaranya bodhasa. Wake up, remain awake and gain that knowledge which liberates you. All great men come according to their times, do their work and go, it’s team work. One comes, another comes, this is team work. Rama gave a message. Krishna gave a different message according to the times. Mohammed gave one message in the morning, another in the afternoon, yet another in the evening. There is no conflict, there is no difference, for they have all come to enlighten us, to help humanity.
You must have heard two names, famous names in the West, they were great men. One was Darwin and another was Huxley. Darwin and Huxley did not believe in God, but they were great men. One of the priests of a meditative order got confused. “They were great men no doubt,” he thought, “but they did not believe in God. Let me see what has happened to them.” So in deep meditation he went to heaven. Here the guard stopped him saying, “You mortal, I don’t find your name on our list. How come you are here?” He said, “I want to see your list, to see if you have two people with you.” The guard said, “Get out of this place. I won’t show you my list.” The priest said, “Look, people in heaven are gentle and kind. So you must be a gentle and good person.” He praised the guard and the guard said, “Ok, here is the list.” They did not have the names of Huxley and Darwin on that list. The priest was very bothered. He said, “Which is the way to hell?” The guard said, “Look at that hell hole, go through it.” The priest went through it. There he found a huge person standing outside who said, “Hey, who are you?” He said, “Sir, I have come from the mortal world. I want to know whether Huxley and Darwin are here, as they are not in heaven.” He saw a gate that was unique, superior to that of heaven, and beautiful gardens. It was so wonderful. The priest asked, “Is this hell or heaven?” The guard replied, “Go and ask Huxley and Darwin, they are walking in the garden.” So the priest approached them, “Sir, good morning to you.” They said, “Good morning.” “Sir, is it hell or heaven?” They said, “It was hell alright when we came here. But with all our might and intelligence we created a heaven out of it.”
Any creative person can convert hell into heaven. This is the point. You have to do it, you can do it, you should do it. So, heaven and hell are here, let us create that harmony, that symphony which helps us, by understanding life, understanding each other, learning to love each other, discharging our duties, being nice to the neighbors, to the country, to the whole of humanity. Again I say, O human being, you are God all right, learn to be a good human. Make that effort.
I was brought up by a great man, a sage born in Bengal who lived for many, many years in the mountains. Our country will perhaps never have a yogi like him for 200-300 years. I’m not praising him because he was my Master. He was a man of great wisdom and knowledge. In my childhood I became an orphan and was taken by my Master, who educated me in modern universities as well as in the monasteries of the Himalayas. I think we human beings are not trained, so we waste our time and energy thinking about others and not thinking about ourselves. My Master always used to say, “Mind your own business. Know thyself on all levels, the way you think, the way you breathe, the way you function in the external world, and that will help you and will prevent you from wasting your time.” The final word, my Master gave me, “I send you to the West to share my knowledge, it’s not yours. You are only a messenger.”
My Master brought me up from the age of three, a child who did not see his parents, who did not have brothers, sisters, or anyone. He brings up this child and never spanks him and never takes anything, not even a glass of water from him. I started crying. He said, “Why are you crying?” I said, “You have not taken any service from me.” He laughed. So I rushed to the mountains, in the Himalayas, and there was a beautiful blue lotus coming out of the rock. I pulled it out and straightaway ran to him. He started crying. He said, “You have killed a child of nature. Why did you do this? Being my son you have done this?” Since then, I never accept flowers no matter from where they come. I don’t pluck flowers. He told me, “Go into the world. Teach your students with the same zeal with which I taught you.” That is my dakshina, that is my love offering. I am trying my best, but I fail sometimes and sometimes I am successful.
I always believe in maintaining a state of joy by remembering the Lord’s name. You know what Guru Nanak Dev said in simple layman’s language? Nanak dukhiya sab sansara sukhiya soyjo nama adhara. Nobody has seen God, O Nanak. The whole world is in a state of chaos, happy is he, who remembers the Lord’s name with every breath of his life.
I pray to the divinity in you. I thank you very much but all the praises go to the Lord of life. A human being is not worthy of such praise.
And if from these lips while here I dwelt,
A heedless taunt you ever have felt,
Forgive me, forget, and now adieu,
I bid goodbye to all of you.
Peace, peace, peace.
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of Swami Rama of the Himalayas