We begin the journey in search of the Supreme Truth. 'Meditation' is going to be our 'via media'.
I shall only light the path for you. Then onwards you shall make the journey on your own spiritual strength. Therefore, do not merely lend me your ears but listen to me with attention and then translate the thoughts into action.
Mere high thinking is of little use. Good thinkers are an asset to humanity but it is the 'doers' who breathe life into those thoughts by applying them to the day-today activities Action is taking the first step to the Temple of God which resides within each of us, and the first step towards the discovery of truth. Then onwards, progress will follow as a natural consequence. For the path of falsehood is the path of dishonesty and of inner conflicts! There is no conflict when Truth becomes our guiding star. Truth brings serenity.
Caught in the cobwebs of words we sit motionless. Life passes us by, but we gaze at it with vacant eyes. Yet, our thoughts can become the steps of the staircase which are to lead us to the Temple within us. The path is within our reach all the time but many turn it into only a pile of thoughts by not making use of it. Whether in a spiritual or earthly way, a staircase is a step by step progress towards either higher thinking or an higher abode.
Each man is engaged in two types of journeys. One is in the world that is outside him-his earthly destination. The other journey is within himself.
Our mortal life may bring success or failure. But it is of no significance as, when death opens its jaws, man enters it alone, living behind all worldly awards and tribulations. The body is reduced to nothingness- to ashes.
In the journey within, Truth exists as an immortal element. It has no death because it is indestructible.
The inner journey leads to the conquering of all conflicts and to lasting peace.
I shall only direct you to the path that leads to the discovery of self as the rest of the time you have to be on your own.
The first step, as I have said earlier, is the most important step in any experiment. The correctness of this step decides the nature of our direction and the ultimate conquest of the goal we have set before us.
In view of this fact, it is very essential that you should be present here not only in body but in mind also. Man's mind is a very slippery thing. It always lingers on behind on past events. Man's body may move on but his mind stealthily escapes him to keep company with the past. The reason for this contradictory phenomenon is that man's memory is associated only with past events. Man's consciousness is welded to the past.
It is a fallacy to believe that the past is the source of our inspiration. For. what is past, is no more, if it seems to exist, it is an illusion. There is no yesterday. Only today, only the present exists. Like the figures on the silver screen, the past has no real dimensions! Shed, therefore, even the memory of past events. Let your mind be cleansed of all that is unwanted so that you may begin on the journey within, without hindrance, without unnecessary delay.
Let us live only in the present, let the past be relegated and let the future worry about tomorrows.
For the purpose of meditation neither exists.
We must let yesterday die so that today may be born. Look at Nature during winter. The trees shed their old barks, leaves fall off, flowers grow no more, rarely a bird or two sit on the bare branches.
Then a miracle takes place. Slowly the branches turn to a fresh green colour. Tender, shiny leaves begin to cover them. Gradually, colourful flowers decorate the branches and birds hop from branch to branch in sheer ecstasy, chirping with joyfulness! A rebirth has taken place. The trees, which only a while ago, looked old and withered have acquired new beauty and new strength!
Let therefore yesterday become a corpse so that today we might be reborn with new joys, new hopes, new vigour.
Man's body cannot escape aging, but his soul need not age with it. It is in man's power to keep it eternally young by discarding the heavy load of yesterdays. The man who makes the past his inspiration bends down under its weight, wears himself out under its pressure and his soul also grows old with his body.
In the quest for God, one must die daily so that one may be reborn with added vigour, freshness and joy.
Once an angry man came to Buddha and without saying a word spat on him. Buddha, unperturbed, wiped off the spit and said to the man, "Is there something more you would like to say to me friend?"
Buddha's disciple Anand, looked at his Guru in surprise! Instead of reprimanding the offender his Guru was showering sympathy on him.
The angered man was himself taken aback as he had come prepared for the worst. But Buddha had addressed him as 'friend' and in utter shame he went away.
Buddha saw the questioning look on Anand's face and said, "When words fail, an angry man expresses himself in strange ways! His spitting at me also was a language. In contrast, when a man's heart is overflowing with joy he holds another to his heart. This too i6 a kind of language!"
Next day, the offender, full of remorse returned to the place where he had only the previous day insulted Buddha, and begged for his forgiveness.
Buddha smiled compassionately and said, "my friend much time has elapsed between yesterday and today. Such water has flown under the bridge. Do not waste your time on what has happened.
Live in the present. At the most do not repeat the performance! You spat at me, I wiped it off. That was the end of it."
The second step to our goal is the practice of silence total silence. Most of us are afraid of silence!
We mistake silence for loneliness. Loneliness fills our mind with the thoughts of Death and death frightens us! If each one made a list of all that he had been thinking throughout the day, he would be shocked to see that the major portion of his thinking and speech was a sheer waste of time!
Silence will become a pleasure once its importance and utility are recognised. Speak not at all. If speech becomes imperative, let it be in the form of the shortest telegraphic message. And in this golden silence we shall find an alertness of our senses. He, whom we have been searching, will make His presence felt.
For many, the beginning itself becomes an end and thus. they fail to reach the goal which in fact, is so much within their grasp. The Shastras Scriptures-the Bible, the Geeta, the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Koran are read through mechanically. Therefore the goal escapes us!
Incessant talking, shaking of hands or legs, repeatedly changing our postures-these are all outward expressions of restless, frightened and confused minds.
A man makes circles with his big toe, minutes on end. Ask him to stop it. At first he will deny that he was ever doing so. Then he will reluctantly accept the fact. Ask him why he was doing it and he will be able to offer no explanation. But the fact is that a restless .mind conveys its restlessness throughout the body. Mind is the monitor of all our actions. It is the mind which dictates our thoughts and thoughts which send impulses to our limbs! We sit and listen but hear not. We face a speaker but our thoughts race elsewhere. It is only when we empty ourselves of all thoughts that we are able to grasp the meaning of the words which until then were mere words. Man is so allergic to silence, and will do everything to break even another man's silence.
The third and the final step is as important as the first and the second. We will keep our eyes downcast all the time-even closed when possible. A wandering eye picks up many unnecessary objects and registers as many unwanted incidents. This can divert attention from our goal. Downcast eyes will give us enough vision not to stumble against objects but it will protect us from all unwanted sights.
To sum up: (1) A mind free of the impressions of all that is past, (2) absolute silence and (3) downcast eves will be the essential equipment in discovering him who is all the time dwelling within us but whose presence we have crowded out by the junk we carry within.
While meditating, the mind and body will have to be completely relaxed. Most people are in a state of eternal tension. Tension is a deadly enemy of peace. Tension means conflict and conflict is another name for tension. Tension has become so much a natural consequence of the modern day hectic living that humanity has ceased to even remember that man can relax! For the modern man relaxation at the most means change of activity. But it is not so. You have therefore first to become conscious of the tension within you, which has so far become a part and parcel of your life.
First, close your fists as hard as you can. Then let them loose. Open your eyes as wide as you can and stare at some object. When you do this consciously, you begin to feel the tension. Then.
when you let them close or droop, you will feel tension disappear. This applies to every fibre in your body. Gradually, a new consciousness will awaken in you. In course of time relaxation will become a natural state just as tension is so today!
Every day. each one of you must spend an hour or two at least in a brisk walk on the beach. The breathing at that time should be deep and the eyes, as at every other moment, must be downcast.
A wonderful exhilarating peace will then descend upon you.
Meditation must be done morning and evening. Your mind too must be relaxed. It must be free of all self- created problems.
To reach the innermost centre of our heart-the 'Temple of God'-we will have to pass through four chambers. On each of these I shall give you detailed discourses. These chambers are called (1) Compassion. (2) Friendliness (3) Cheerfulness and (4) Renunciation. With the opening of each door we shall be drawn nearer, and nearer to our goal with a magnetic force. When "Renunciation" the last chamber is reached, we shall have shed everything unwanted and become one with the supreme force. By this time we shall have got rid off all false values and our masks. With a completely detached mind we shall become One with Him."
Let us examine the four chambers through which it is necessary to pass before one achieves a life of Godliness. God dwells in each of us but we look so much outside for him that we miss seeing him dwelling within our otherwise mortal frame itself!
When we have finally reached him through the four chambers called Compassion, Friendliness, Cheerfulness and Indifference, our Soul will get liberated from worldly possessions and all the accompanying evils. Our small limited world (of friends and relations) will widen out in every direction to include the Universe- the animate and the inanimate.
Let us knock on the doors of the first chamber called Compassion. There may be many who have no awareness of its existence yet. This need not cause despair. It is better to be late than never.
Those of you who wish to enter the chamber of Compassion can start from this very moment to understand its nature and to put it to practical use.
Compassion signifies a feeling of sympathy for one in trouble, for the suffering and the unhappy.
Normally. this is felt by most. for those only who are, in a practical and personal way, near and dear to them, they call it love. But it has limited implications. The compassion we wish to discover within us is a love for humanity as a whole. It seeks no personal gain nor is given under certain conditions. It does not discriminate. The incapacity to feel for those who are of no personal value to us has made man even harder than a stone. One does not have to go far but only turn within oneself and make an honest introspection to realise that if humanity had not turned hard-hearted, the world would not be in the state in which we find it today. People of every nation are sitting practically on a bed of thorns, apprehensively for an outbreak of war. From generations mankind has shown shockingly inhuman, unscrupulous, destructive and sadistic tendencies. His core of hardness has become such a part and parcel of man's life that he has ceased to be aware of it. But you should be able to uproot it out of your system and you can-if only you will it.
It is a universal trait in man, that when an analysis is made of his shortcomings he always begins with someone other than himself! This defensive attitude must be offset by analysing our own and cultivating Compassion.
Henry Thoreau, an amazing personality, once had a visitor. He rushed forward with a love-filled heart to receive him. With great warmth he took his visitor's hands into his own but the very next moment he released them. His visitor's lack of response affected him like frostbite.
Let each one of us search his own heart! Let each one of us ask, "Am I dead or alive? Has somebody's misfortune, somebody's unhappiness, somebody's sorrow ever moved me'? Has my heart cried out for him in love, friendliness and sympathy? Does the blood in my veins carry a selfless warm sympathetic awareness of humanity?"
Almost all of us are more dead than alive. We have senses. the five (Indriyas) senses, but our ears hear no cry of anguish. our eyes are closed to another's bleeding wounds. our touch sends no current of sympathy! Each one of us lives for himself! The entire humanity is infected with canker of coldness and heartlessness.
Let us, therefore, each one of us, examine the remotest corner of his heart and dispel the darkness by letting in the bright rays of universal love, universal friendliness, brotherhood and humaneness.
Let each one ask of himself, "Has there been even a moment in my life when I have put aside self to help and solace another human being? Have I ever felt for another a love in the vastness of which I have washed away my littleness? Has ever the glow and warmth of compassion shown by me,'given hope and breath to those dying of despair?"
Compassion has to be an important element of our character. It is not a sentiment which can be ordered at will. It is not a virtue which can suddenly sprout from the soil of selfishness! One cannot say, "Oh, I may have set boundaries for my love but when required I shall be compassionate to others." No, such an achievement is impossible. Compassion has to be an inseparable thread woven into the pattern of a man's daily thinking! Then alone it can visibly express itself on all occasions.
The love which is imprisoned tends to make the giver and receiver both egoists. An egoist never loves unselfishly. To ask the sun not to shine on the neighbour's house is to ask him not to shine at all A love that enjoys freedom of expression on a universal scale becomes strong and lasting. Then, even individuals can bask in its warmth. For example, look at the trees! As the trees grow higher, the deeper do its roots enter. It is a phenomenon not difficult to understand! So is it with love. The wider its scope, the deeper is its depth.
Ashoka, the Emperor of Emperors, was once passing through his city accompanied by his Minister and saw a 'fakir' begging for alms! Ashoka got off his horse and touched the feet of the poor man.
His Prime Minister looked at him aghast. As soon as they were within the privacy of the palace, the Minister said to the King, 'Sire, forgive me for being outright in my speech, but what prompted you, the Emperor of Emperors to touch the feet of the beggar-a mere fakir?"
Ashoka merely smiled. Some months elapsed. The Emperor summoned the Minister one day and told him as an experiment to send a man around the city with the heads of a slaughtered cow, a slaughtered lamb and a slaughtered man and to dispose them off.
The Prime Minister was shocked, but all the same he sent his men around the city with the strange baggage for sale. The cow's and the lamb's head found a customer, but there was no buyer for the man's head!
The King ordered that the head should be offered as a gift.
The men returned once again with that unwanted human head. Emperor Ashoka looked at his Minister meaningfully and said, "Do you get my point? Months ago you were asking me why I, a King of kings, should have got off the mount and touched a mere beggar's feet! This is the answer to it my dear friend. Man is so insignificant when death embraces him that not even as a free gift would anyone want his body-no, not even your Emperor's head.
A human being is worth nothing, be he a king or a scholar. It is what he lets go that has meaning and significance. Money, position and learning grow with sharing. In possession alone they die a sad death.
A husband, a wife, a son, a father, a mother, a daughter or an uncle, or somebody's friend-all have one eternal tale of woe, "Nobody loves me!"
What a tragedy! What ignorance! When will man understand that love is not to be demanded. Love is to be given. The more it is poured out the more it is returned. Love is not a bargain! Love cannot be ordered in the market! It is within us and it is for sharing, for giving, for spreading it around like sunshine.
Our eyes see but without emotion. When the lips are silent let your eyes be eloquent. Let their depth be filled with the language of your heart. Do not just look at these tall trees. at the playful waves of the sea but let the beautiful sight gladden your hearts and bring a sparkle to your eyes. Even a stony path, over which you may walk should send a shiver of pleasant emotions through you. Whether you touch a branch of a tree or flower, whether you take somebody's hand in yours. whether you receive somebody in your embrace, let the gestures stir and move the deepest recesses of your heart with the warmth of appreciation. Make every act of love a memorable one. Come out of yourself to receive life with both hands spread out in a gesture of wild joy and friendliness, in a gesture of understanding and welcome. For a long time we have been educating ourselves only to restrain from this and from that. Let us break through he hard walls of false values and let ourselves go.
Suppression in every sphere has been for too long our evil companion leading to hypocrisy and to falsehoods! We have covered truth for a long time with the glittering but false cloak of false modesty.
Let us break down the boundaries and let our love gush out in all its purity and richness!
If one wants to live life with sincerity and intensity one must be prepared even for being labelled 'mad'. Conventionally correct behaviour is not necessarily honest! Conventional morality is often built on the tombstones of truthfulness. As a result of it we think one thing, feel another and speak yet something else of it.
A great German thinker once paid a visit to Japan. He called on a Sage during his stay. As he entered the house where the Sage stayed he hurriedly and roughly removed his shoes, pushed the doors open carelessly and rushed to the Sage with a curt salute and breathlessly asked for an interview.
The Sage agreed but told him to first offer his apologies to the shoes and to the doors as he had treated them most shabbily pointing out that these should be given due consideration in the daily routine chores. The German thinker was of course displeased and annoyed, but did as was commanded. After his apologies, he discovered the supreme joy which is hidden in the womb of every graceful and good act. He knew then. that even a discourse by a Sage cannot hold meaning for a man who approaches it in anger and agitation.
The education in compassion is best begun with inanimate objects. A consciousness of their existence and a sense of gratitude for the comfort and joy they offer us. will liberate us from the hard-heartedness we have acquired over the centuries. We have turned deaf and blind towards a million little things which add lustre to life.
These stones which give us a resting place, these dancing, leaping waves which sing for us with wild abandon, these tall heaven-bound trees which shelter us, do you want them to think of humanity as a bunch of unappreciative, ungrateful people? When the final hour comes what will the Sun, the Moon and the Stars say if, after shining on us for 50 or 60 years, we have never shown awareness of their contribution lo our being alive? What will the birds, who have chirped for us and filled the atmosphere with their colourfulness say?: What will the flowers which bathe us in their perfume say?
That man is harder than stone, that he is selfish and self-centred! In other words, we must be fully aware and sensitive to our environment.
Perhaps, it was St. Francis who, when on the door- steps of death, turned to every animate and inanimate object with love and gratitude and thanked them for the many ways in which they had filled his life with beauty, joy and well-being. Even when his followers protested and tried to restrain him, he staggered to pat his donkey who had carried him many a mile. He wept and apologized for the times when he had been impatient and unkind to his dumb friend who had not once complained or refused to comply with his wishes. The crowd watching the Saint cried out in pity, "Poor Man! In the hour of death he has lost his sanity or why else would he weep and embrace a mere donkey."
Yes. those who are nearest to God are in a way crazy! It is those who do not differentiate between the rich and the poor, between the humble and the great, between the animate and inanimate-who find the quickest union with God.
For easy understanding we may divide the world in three sections. In one we will include all the inanimate objects. We have to call them inanimate because their innermost nature is still a mystery to us. The second section would comprise of nature. its bounty and its manifestations. In the third we shall include all humanity.
Our first lesson, our first acquaintance with compassion must start with the seemingly inanimate objects and then we must let it grow to embrace wider and wider areas until the Universe is bathed in its freshness and warmth.
The King of a certain country once ordered his architect to prepare a blue-print of a palace which would have only one gate. Soon the palace stood up in its full glory with one peculiarity. It had only one gate which was heavily guarded. The King felt immensely secure and satisfied.
A neighbouring King called on him to see the new palace, and both friends were discussing the beauty of the construction when their attention was drawn to a fakir who was laughing aloud.
Being Kings they were naturally annoyed. The owner of the palace turned in anger to the beggar who undauntedly replied, "My Lord. I am laughing because even now, you are not secure!"
"How can that be?" asked the King. "My palace has only one gate and it is so heavily guarded that no enemy can get into it."
"Sure!" said the beggar, "but what about Death?
There is still space enough for Death to enter! I suggest that you get rid of even the one gate."
The king ridiculed the idea but the latter scornfully replied that Death would enter despite all safeguards.
The moral is, that the truly enlightened man has no fear of danger. In fact, he is always ready to face it. He even welcomes it! Danger always persecutes the one who flees from it as it is always easy to attack someone from behind.
To be ready, to be prepared for the outcome of ones actions, is to be prepared for life. It is to welcome life come what may.
A compassionate man is so sincerely and completely occupied with the world around him that his very personal problems seem insignificant and bearable. His outward growth gives him a new dimension and his very liabilities welcome a source of inner peace and well- being.
From compassion to friendliness is but one step further to our goal.
Many questions have been asked. A friend wants to know if total absolute silence is not in contradiction to compassion. Does it not express an indifference to all around us?
No, it is not so. Normally, most people keep talking so much that they forget that silence is also another form of speech, another form of communication. It is far more eloquent and effective on many occasions than speech. Absolute silence is not indifference to our surroundings. In fact it becomes instrumental in achieving intense consciousness even of the inanimate objects. In our useless jabberings we concentrate too much on insignificant objects. We fail to record so many wonderful sights and pleasing sounds.
Talking is not listening. Nor does it necessarily mean awareness of others. Most people enter into conversation not with the intention of being listeners, but with the selfish motive of getting listeners for themselves. We make somebody an excuse for airing our views. We use people as pegs for hanging our thoughts. We pretend to listen to the other person, but inwardly wait impatiently for him to finish so that we may pour out our thoughts. I am sure if a man failed to get a listener tor a while he would even begin to talk to the walls!
A passive slate of silence makes us receptive tc. others. We are able to truly concentrate on what the other person is saying. We are able to grasp the meaning of his words. We are able to get into the other man's shoes and feel his troubles. We become one with him.
Speech on most occasions is an effective way of inviting attention of another person. We make use of the listener as a basket into which we empty our thoughts. The listener becomes only a means to an end!
Silence establishes tranquillity within, rids us of our ego and makes us sensitive to other people and objects around us. An intimate contact is achieved and we lose ourselves in the growing warmth of genuine sympathy.
One day a Mr. X came to me because he was most eager to have an hours tete-a-tete with me.
Throughout the hour my responses were monosyllabic. At the end of an hour Mr. X thanked me for a very interesting conversation. I was amused, as it was he who had done all the talking. I said so to him, but he obviously had not given an ear to that remark of mine for he kept on insisting that he had a wonderful one hour with me!
Speech, therefore, in most cases, is only an audible expression given to his own thoughts by the speaker without being concerned about the listener's reactions.
Love is being concerned about another person, that is why a lover becomes tongue-tied in the presence of his beloved, The man who has come to love silence speaks not to make himself the centre of attention but only when speech becomes necessary either to solve someone else's problems or to give solace to another.
Considering the question of alms-giving prompts a counter question: "Who made the man a beggar- then a habitual beggar?" Of course, you, me and all those who have been taught by religion and the mouth-pieces of religion (e.g. Sadhus, preachers and such people) that to give alms is an act of goodness that it is an act of compassion, kindness. No, giving alms is not an expression of love or sympathy A society which creates and patronises beggars is worth condemnation in the severest of words! But man, interpreting religion to suit his ego, preaches alms-giving as a ladder to 'Moksha' (ultimate release from rebirth). By creating a class of beggars we are creating a class of lazy, useless and inactive people whose existence does not go beyond the 'physical'. Eat, drink and sleep (at somebody else s cost) becomes its motto. The maintenance of such a large group of persons hampers the spiritual growth of the people.
Poverty is a disease, an epidemic, a sin and a stigma. The attempt of every well-meaning person should be to discourage a virtually dead class of people coming into existence.
Every thinking, good-hearted person, must rebel against anyone reducing his fellow-beings to a state of lifeless existence. To make a man conscious of his status as a human-being, to protect his Soul from being given in exchange for his silent acceptance of poverty should become a conscious duty of every truly humane person. By giving alms, we permanently deaden a man's capacity to be aware of the potentialities within himself. These potentialities could, if allowed to grow and blossom, not only liberate the beggar from his shameful dependence but also inspire him to bring about a drastic change. for the better, in himself.
Charitable institutions in any form teach men to get something in return for nothing. It gradually deadens and destroys their self-respect. It cuts, at the roots, their initiative, reducing them to sub- human beings. Their hearts are filled only with the thought of self, thus driving away from it God and Godliness. And a Nation where the majority live in this fashion has no future. The intellectual and spiritual growth of a nation is in direct proportion to the intellectual and spiritual growth of the majority of its people.
An act of true love and kindness offers no food to the ego nor does it subject any other person lo humiliation. It offers only such help which infuses new life and courage in the one who is helped. It brings back strength and self-reliance to the toiling masses.
Unfortunately, every religion threatens humanity to accept charitableness as a part of human behaviour if Hell is to be avoided, if salvation is to be won! A bribe is offered for being good: "Do this or you will be delivered in the hands of the Devil." Yet, benevolence should have no condition tagged on to it. If a passer-by stumbles and if another helps him, it should not be because of fear of the Devil or the promise of Heaven. Fear of any sort, or temptation, no matter how glittering, should be made the foundation stone for an act of love. For love is God Himself.
Pity and mercy at once suggest the superior status of the giver, and is displayed by those who have in plenty, to those who are in dire need. The giver hardly misses what he gives hut very cheaply wins the gratitude and respect of the needy. This flatters his ego. His generosity deliberately seeks recognition and publicity from man and God so that the doors of Heaven may be opened to him. Pity for the needy is the self-sufficient man's declaration of his fitness to reach God to attain salvation, "Moksha"! In support of this very selfish and egoistic attitude there is also a constant prayer in his heart that the needy should remain always in need. He may thus, with arrogant generosity, throw the crumbs of bread from his sumptuously loaded table. I repeat that pity and mercy are cleverly velveted weapons which create a permanent class of gutless, initiativeless persons. While the beggars are parasites, living on the alms of the rich, the rich are parasites trying to grow in stature by exploiting the poverty of the poor.
Almost a similar distinction is found between the emotions of love and non-violence. Love is an active. constructive emotion. Love wants to give, irrespective of to whom and why. Love has no ulterior motive. Love gives because it is its nature.
Non-violence is a negative emotion. A man's only responsibility in non-violence is not to hurt anyone bodily or mentally. It however does not put him under the further obligation of giving help or happiness to another. It is an admirable virtue by itself but does not make a positive contribution of any other nature as love or compassion or sympathy does. Non-violence is an end in itself. It does not need an awareness of another's needs. It brings a false satisfaction to its observer who says, "Well, he is suffering but I am not the one who has caused the suffering therefore, the doors of Heaven will not close on me."
Meditation (Dhyana) frees man of all self-consciousness. It strips him of his false coatings, his artificialities, his acquired inhibitions and complexes. His soul gets purified and becomes child-like.
It is the tragedy of civilization that man has come to consider many naturally helpful phenomena, as shameful expressions of weakness! Man i.e. a male, is particularly ashamed of shedding tears.
It has been dinned into him through ages that tears are a sign of weakness. Oh, how untrue it is! Tears, when genuine, have a purifying quality and they relax a person's mind. Tears are shed not only when in pain. To have a feeling of exuberance, of wholesome joy, in meeting a friend, on listening to soulful music, on watching the beauty of a sunset or on witnessing the glory of colourful blossoming flowers or on inhaling their intoxicating perfume-comes to one who is alive in the true sense of the word.
Love uses neither violence nor compulsion. It has its own eloquence, its tender touch, its silent communication, its positive but gentle pleadings. If many of us used this to straighten the path of the erring, the more enlightened, cultured and brighter would Humanity become.
FRIENDLINESS We have already entered the first chamber called Compassion. in our journey to the final goal-God Himself.
We shall now be entering the second chamber called friendliness. This is the second step towards sublime experience of discovering God within us.
Friendliness can be compared to the water which pours down on the Earth from the core of compassion. Compassion is a silent awareness of the Universe around. It is hidden within us just as' the cloud hides the stream of water within its soft folds. As long as the water is encased in the clouds it makes no concrete contribution. It is only when it gushes out in streams and pacifies the hot, thirsty Earth that it achieves a purpose. Similarly, only when compassion makes itself apparent through friendliness does it serve humanity.
Compassion is the Soul and friendliness is its visible shape without the outward perceivable expression which friendliness gives to compassion, man would be giving only idle, useless, lip- sympathy. Compassion is like a verse silently taking shape in the mind of a poet. Friendliness gives expression to that verse.
It is to be noted that friendliness and friendship are quite different. Friendship, like the conventional form of love is a relationship limited to two or very few individuals, laying no condition and given to the animate and the inanimate in equal measure. The sheer ecstasy of the experience is its own reward.
True friendliness harbours no germs of enmity. It is an independent emotion, unrestricted in its nature and absolutely unaffected by the attitude and nature of the receiver. As friendliness gives no quarter to bitter thoughts, it evokes no hatred in another's mind. It makes no enemies and has a soothing effect in everyone who receives it.
An interesting example comes to the mind here. Vivekananda, who needs no introduction here or abroad, went to Ramkrishna's house to seek the blessings of Sharada, the late Ramkrishna's wife, before departing for America. Sharada, a simple illiterate lady, took her own time before she spoke out, and surprised Vivekananda by asking: "Narendra get me the knife from the kitchen."
Vivekananda wonderingly complied. Sharada then smiled and blessed him whole-heartedly saying that he would spread the Gospel of Truth and Religiousness everywhere.
Intrigued, Vivekananda looked at her Sharada smiled again and said, "I wanted to measure your true spiritual height, When you gave the knife you turned the handle towards me and the pointed sharp edge was held in your hand. You carry friendliness within you. so you shall come to no harm nor harm anyone. An ordinary self-centred man would have handed the knife. with the wooden handle in his own hand, for the sake of safety." A man who faces danger himself in order to save others has mastered the essential principle of Godliness. Friendliness is a warm pulsating emotion expressed even through the smallest action. Friendship exists only when there is a two-way traffic.
Friendliness keeps the Heart open to even those who have come to hurt abuse and malign.
Friendship is like the political relationship between two or more countries At one time Russia and America joined hands against Hitler but that was in self-protection. Now there is no such need.
Tomorrow if China should expose her fangs, Russia and America will join their forces again. In friendship, each party's first concern is self-preservation. If there is the slightest danger to personal safety, the snake of selfishness immediately uncoils itself Lao-tse is quoted to have said: "Lucky are those who know equanimity even in defeat, for such people cannot be touched by defeat."
The tall trees which refuse to bend at the onset of a cyclone get uprooted in spite of their apparent strength. The small delicate plants, the blades of grass, even though comparatively insignificant in stature, lower their heads in humility. The winds pass over them and the next minute they rise up again smiling and fresh as ever The pages of history tell us that Hitler, a power in himself, had not a single friend! He trusted none.
He was loved by a woman for twelve years but he did not trust even her enough to marry her! He saw danger in every human contact. Prolonged intimacy frightened him. He expected a bullet, a dagger from every crevice. It was only when the enemy's attack proclaimed final destruction and the end, it was only then that he took the woman's hand in marriage! When death became a finality, then alone did he lose fear of death, then alone could he trust the woman who had dedicated her life to him. An hour after the marriage, both had joined hands in a successful attempt at suicide. Such is the tragedy of man whose ego neither permits overtures of friendships nor accepts the same.
Most human beings are egoists and are therefore afraid of letting themselves go. The greater the 'I' factor, the stranger the ego, the harder is the armour under which man takes shelter from any onslaught of emotions. To him emotions mean involvement, responsibilities and moral obligations.
What a tragedy and yet how amusing too! Where is the 'I'? What is the 'I' but a drop in the Universe'?
A wave dancing on the surface of the sea will say, "I am the ocean. Only 'I-and I' alone!" Those on the beach will laugh and say, "Silly wave, you are there because the sea is there and not the other way round. Do vou know that in that vastness of water there are millions of waves like you? And even they all exist because of the sea? Tn fact you are only an illusion. A pray of water raised above the level by the impact of wind. Your being there is not real nor is it necessary. When the sea is calm and the wind lies low you will be non-existing. But the Sea was there, is there and will be there eternally. You are but a speck in the vast horizon!" So is man. Yet alas, how much ego he has!
Vivid in the right perspective a man's being is an illusion. All his attempts at self-preservation are worth a laugh as what he thinks he is preserving is not in his hands at all. His being or not being is in the hands of a Power which works unseen and continuously. Why then let fear take mastery over us?
When the last tiny bit of ego disappears, complete identification with the animate and the inanimate objects becomes a natural part and parcel of the way of life. Death of the 'Ego' is man's highest achievement in spiritual growth. Then sorrows and joys are not his individual fate. The entire world becomes the focus of his compassion and friendliness, Man acquires the ultimate in self-realization that, 'he is nothing and he is everything'.
A chariot is 'whole' when all its components are assembled together yet not a single component is chariot nor a chariot a chariot without its components. That is how man is.
When Jesus was crucified, his devotees saw blood oozing from their palms and feet. This phenomenon has been intensely studied by many scientists, doctors and scholars, and there is not the slightest doubt now about the authenticity of the phenomenon, The one and only Jesus and therefore, they too are in a way crucified with him.
A truly religious life is a life full of friendliness at all times. 'All before self' becomes the guiding motto of a truly religious man.
A consoling touch of the fingers, a warm, gentle smile, a sympathetic response and so many hearts can be revived and gladdened, But even these little gestures never come to most people. We all know what others should do or should not do unto us, but most of us do not know the reverse of it which is, do not do unto others what you do not like others to do unto you. There is not a man who does not seek sympathy, understanding, tenderness, compassion, love, friendliness for himself and yet how many of us see the same need in others?
How many suicides could have been averted, how many deformities of mind and body could have been set right, how many tears could have turned into smiles how many neglected, barren spaces could have turned into colourful gardens, how many orphans could have had homes, how many childless women could have known the joy of motherhood by adopting these orphans. how many hungry mouths could have known the taste of delicacies, if only humanity had trained eyes, ears and heart to feel suffering of others around. If only humanity could understand that to lose for a good cause is actually to gain an indestructible wealth of spiritual well-being, In Japan, an old scholar was occupied in the task of translating some of Buddha's works. For the first time Buddha's teachings were going to be presented in Japanese language. Like many good tasks even this needed money. For ten years the scholar begged and canvassed, At last he managed to collect a sum of ten thousand. About that time Japan was hit by a severe famine. The scholar donated the sum for relief to the needy. A sum of ten thousand collected in ten years by begging and pleading, all that went towards bettering the condition of the famine stricken. His sympathisers, donors and friends were shocked. "Famines and earthquakes come and go. People are being born and dying every second of the day. Why did you have to part with such a precious amount? What would happen to the intended task of translating Buddha's book?" asked all of them to the scholar.
The scholarly Sage only smiled.
The Sage was sixty by then, with fresh zeal he again began the task of collecting funds. Learned people had to be summoned to undertake the vast task. And learned people seldom part with their knowledge without remuneration. Once again his funds swelled to ten thousand. Alas, floods hit the city this time and the Sage unhesitatingly donated the money for the needy. Again his friends reprimanded him. He was by then seventy. At last in another ten, twelve years he was able to get the work of translating Buddha's works completed.
On the cover page were printed the words "Third Edition". "What a liar the Sage was! Where were the first two editions? Were the readers being taken for fools-Third Edition indeed!"
The Sage smiled and answered, "It is the third edition. The first came out when famine hit the city.
The second when floods reduced thousands homeless A book gives only a theoretical knowledge.
The first two editions were practical application of Buddha's teachings. Of what use would have been the books if humanity had been allowed to starve or perish because of lack of help? Only those whose life pulsates with friendliness will understand why I call this publication "Third Edition!"
Dip the bucket into the sea of spiritual wealth and quench your Soul's thirst by drinking the nectar of humaneness and letting go of the ego. Let the rejuvenating, invigorating air of friendliness fill your system and finally, let every sensory instrument in your body become alive with the awareness of the joys and sorrows of others. The water encased by the clouds is of use only when it pours down on the Earth in a visible and particular form. Lip sympathy does not help. Only action does.
To want to know more and more on any subject is a sign of an active, knowledge-hungry mind; but knowledge without practical expression is like so many richly bound books put out for mere exhibition There are two kinds of love in man. One love says. "If you love me, if you are good to me, if you are useful to me, I shall love you", or in other words it says. "I love A because A loves me, because I benefit by A's love."
Another type of love, which is only another name for friendliness says, "I shall love you at all times and in all circumstances notwithstanding how much you hate malign or harm me."
The love that says, "since you have harmed me I cannot love you anymore" is very limited in its capacity and dependent for its existence on the behaviour and response of another person or persons.
The friendliness we are talking about is love which does good for the mere joy of doing good. A person who has gladness in his heart is not conscious of the joy he is spreading. He is humming a tune because it gives him joy to do sc. This example stretched further would make his singing an act of friendliness. A stranger is sad and needs cheering. Our man looks at the stranger for it cheers him up again, adding a little more sunshine to his own life. Unconsciously, unintentionally his joy has come out of his being aware of another's gloom. His well-being is a result of doing a good act even to a stranger.
Next he meets another person who is being assaulted by an angry mob, and had once been very nasty to him. But then, he is not in the least hitter because of it, and risks his life to rescue him. This man knows the true principles of friendliness Just as the Sun showers his warm and purifying rays all around, on the poor and the rich, the saintly and the sinners, the living and the inanimate objects, so does a friendly man extend his help to anyone who needs.
Mansoor, whose name perhaps you have heard already, was to he executed. A lakh of people had gathered. An angry, prejudiced mob stoned and abused him, but Mansoor never lost his smile.
Before the execution he prayed. "These deal people, little do they know what they are doing! This mad crowd thinks you will be nearer to them if I was put to death! Poor souls!"
But even as he said this, there was no hatred or bitterness within Mansoor.
Falsehood hunts out the most impressive objectives for itself.
When Jesus was brought for crucifixion he was offered a chance to speak his last words. Jesus said only one little thing: "Please God forgive them. for they know not what they are doing." Even as he faced a painful death. Jesus did not lose his calm, equanimity and friendliness towards his enemies.
A woman Sage named Rabiya deleted a verse from a scripture where it said to "Abhor 'Satan' and treat the Devil with contempt." When reprimanded about it she answered, "Until I knew the true principles of love I had accepted this teaching without questioning. Now, however, I know that true religiousness means love for all.
For most people, the supreme form of friendliness cannot be an achievement of a day, a month or a year. There has got to be a constant alertness against the natural tendency of the mind to retaliate.
All wars are a result of the enmity between man and man, Nation and Nation. Wars which are fought to save the fundamental values of life and fundamental principles of truth, give no quarters to cruelty, or to evil. They are never devoid of compassion or friendliness.
This subject may be further developed by citing the war between the Pandavas and Duryodhana.
Lord Krishna, as we all know, was at the helm on the side of Pandus- on the side of Truth. It may be difficult for many to believe that hatred was not the basis of this battle. It may not be easy to believe that at the end of the day's fighting, warriors from both camps gathered together in the evenings to converse. When Bishma, the oldest of the Pandus, was on his death-bed, his opponents gathered at his bed reverently and pleaded for his advice? on religious behaviour. Such then are wars which are fought for religious principles.
As long as there is evil in the world there is sinfulness and cruelty, untruth and irreligiousness. hatred and debauchery, sensuousness and crime, even the compassionate and love filled people will have to rise in revolt to rid humanity of these evils. But such battles will not be battles of wits, of pure military strength or of power acquired through hatred, but will be declared in the name of truth and love against falsehood.
A man must be able to be hard like steel when confronted by evil and falsehood. At the same time like Buddha, he must be filled with compassion and friendliness. The war must be against vice or against the wrong and not against an individual or individuals.
If spiritually tranquil men in great number could be found to run the affairs of the Universe, we shall have no artificial boundaries dividing man from man. Racial and political differences will disappear.
Man will have only one race-only one caste-man.
In quest of knowledge, does the ego help man in achieving good?
Ego cannot achieve good. It is poison. Even a drop of it in the human system can poison all good efforts. The conceited is not interested in doing good but in raising himself in the eyes of the beholders When a mar donates a certain sum to an Institution he deserves credit for it as his friends, relatives and associates will be at the public function, the press, the photographers-a whole paraphernalia to boost his ego.
The truly compassionate man, being devoid of conceit helps the needy without fees. His good act, if it ever comes into the limelight does so only accidently and he humbly thanks God for having thought him fit for doing service to others. Each race, each community filled with self-importance creates its own God. While in fact there is not a single true Temple of God to be found anywhere.
If there was even one such Temple, man would not kill man in the name of religion. The white would not hate the black. Different races would not cause bloodshed and unrest.
Man erects Temples not to honour God but to honour himself. The foundation stone must have his name or the name of the person to whose memory the temple is dedicated. And God has to know or how would the gates of Heaven open for the donor?
The bloodshed that has taken place in the name of God and religion would outdo that of the gambling dens and brothels. The rape of women, slaughter of children. Looting and arson, a hundred and one nauseating atrocities have resulted from inter-racial and inter-communal wars.
If a man really loved his country, his religion or his race even to the exclusion of all others, even then he would be able to establish peace and happiness all over the world. Even considered individually, a country's overall well-being lies in the harmonious and healthy growth of her people. If each citizen would work in this direction there would be no internal strife and international wars. After all, who would wish to give up a peaceful life in exchange for bloodshed, rape and economic distress? Each country is dependent upon all.
All untruths seek cover under the pure garments of Truthfulness! The non-religious men are most anxious to declare their religiousness and their caste marks on their foreheads. Pornographic literature always claims justification in the name of "Study of sexual behaviour!" Volumes on prostitution are published for the abolition of vice, while in fact, they present the profession in such a glittering gown that many an immature girl becomes anxious to wear it. Liquor is always sold in attractive containers. Sensuousness hides itself in the garb of Art. He who sacrifices all other human values in the pursuit of success, money or scientific progress, calls his occupation a noble attempt to better the world! The businessman who untiringly fills his lockers and bank books with wealth, announces that it is "for the sake of his family"! The social worker who neglects his own family says that he is working for a much larger cause!
Man with all his claims to great discoveries and scientific progress-what does he really do about himself" Once he was in the shape of tiny cells- gradually he becomes a human shape in the warmth of his mother's womb, then a toddler, childhood and so forth till he advances in age-finally he lies motionless in the grip of death's cold, icy arms! How does all this come about? Is man the creator of these extraordinary factors?
A member wants to know why in spite of his meditating over "Who am I" very sincerely he has received no answer to it from within, but he confesses that he feels deep peace inside.
When nothing but total peace remains, meditation will definitely result in "self-revelation".
It is said that the Pacific is at least five miles deep and that even the Sun's rays cannot reach its depth. Man's mind has much more unfathomable depth. To reach a state of total peacefulness through meditation, patience and perseverance are necessary. Pessimism and defeatism will not do. One day and for sure, the mind will settle into tranquillity when even the query "Who am I?" will be unnecessary. Self-rationalization and insight into the mystery of God's Universe will be available to you like an unhampered ray of light. The mind will cease to waste energy in different directions.
A clear new path of life will be lighted up for miles. Man will become like a musical instrument which is properly tuned and which is placed in expert hands-in this case m the hands of God Himself. A glorious feeling of spiritual well-being, a new warmth, courage and strength will be man's companions till his last breath.
A sick mind always concentrates on the sickness. Once the mind rids itself of it, it will glow with health and vigour, and man will dedicate himself to the welfare of humanity. He will not limit Godliness only to his very personal small world.
Darkness is an illusion created by the absence of light. When light fills space, the darkness disappears. When supreme peace is achieved, restlessness disappears without any positive consciousness on the part of the person.
Many people-the so-called religious persons-are satisfied with small attempts at spiritual awakening. Some count beads, some say a few 'shlokas' (Hymns in the morning, some go to temples, some offer charity. These short-cuts do not deceive God. There are no short-cuts to true spiritual awakening in its fullest magnitude. The search must go on until the goal is reached.
There is a verse by the great saint Kabir. It says, Kabir went in search of God and lost his identity, just as a drop of water loses itself in the vastness of the Sea.'
Later on, he changed the verse to. "Just as the waves completely cover a drop of water so does God permeate through every fibre, every drop of blood in me."
How wonderful. There was some chance of finding the drop of water when it went to Sea but how can one find the drop which is enfolded by the vast Sea itself!
When this happens there is everywhere, within and without:
Peace! Peace! Peace!
CHEERFULNESS From Compassion to Friendliness and from Friendliness to Joyfulness is but a natural sequence of spiritual awakening Once one has become aware of the poverty of love which exists only for a few and once one has considerably broadened the conception to include the animate and the inanimate, the logical outcome is joyfulness. How can anyone, who is constantly endeavouring to lighten other people's burdens ever feel the burden of his own problems? He, who is engaged in bringing cheer and hope in the life of other persons, is bound to be infected himself by that positive outlook. The is sure to find in himself also, the reflection of the Joyfulness he has spread around. And such a man knows the essential difference between Religion and Religiousness. A truly religious person can never be gloomy, despondent or defeated.
Unfortunately, in the last many centuries man has turned to religion-i.e. religious scriptures and temples etc. in a spirit of defeatism. When all hope is lost, he turns to God carrying with him a melancholic state of mind and spreading the germs all around him.
Half-equipped priests and scholars make sadness almost a requisite qualification for those who wish to seek the help of religion. Religious places have become like hospitals. What is more tragic is the fact that while at least some physically sick people return home well and alive, in the so-called religious hospitals mortality has been almost one hundred per cent.
What the world requires is a change of this attitude. Man must turn to God with a positive hope- filled, joyful heart. It must not be a pilgrimage left for the very last lap of life. Godliness must become man's natural language from the day he learns to utter his first syllables. It can be done. If grown- ups would not take a negative attitude. if man would guard against egoism from the beginning. if he would make compassion and friendliness the guiding principles of life from his youth, life must maintain an equilibrium all along. Unfortunately. religion leaves the young alone or rather the young leave religion alone, until they, like all their elders, need its help when aspirations misfire, when a healthy body gets afflicted, when the house of cards collapses.
This is so sad! The young, full of healthy, brimming hopes must be acquainted with the spiritual side of life even in the days when God and Religion seem unnecessary. Men have miscalculated the nature of their future, hypnotised by the arrogance of youth. That is why when they turn to God they come as dispirited broken, sick people. Having neglected or even forgotten God ;n their good times, they turn to him, when almost all is lost. Even a specialist cannot save a patient who has come to him too late. God too cannot help him who comes to him as a matter of convenience. On the face of it. it may seem one and the same thing to turn to God as a remedy for one's ailments. to turn to him for bringing cheer into one's life or to turn to him in pursuit of greater joyfulness, peace and well-being But it is not so.
Tn the first instance it is the absence of cheerfulness, hopefulness, well-being that leads men to God.
Tn the second instance men turn to Him to add to their joyfulness. hopefulness, peacefulness. In this case the presence of these assets, to an extent, is presupposed.
There is a fundamental difference in a man going to a doctor when all is not well and in a man going to a doctor in the best of health, just for a check-up and assurance, that all is well.
The first man brings gloom with him-a tiredness or life with which he infects all the others. The second man's springy steps and positive outlook flood the room with sunshine and hope for even the hopeless.
The elixir of joyfulness which is the combined product of compassion and friendliness should become a daily item of spiritual food.
Laughter is infectious. It spreads to the length and breadth of the surrounding atmosphere.
The story of the three Chinese Sages will aptly illustrate the point. These three Sages were never sad. The people had, therefore, named them: "The Laughing Sages". They went from town to town and wherever they went the skies echoed with their laughter. To spread joy was their life's mission.
When the crowd asked them for some holy teachings they said:
"Keep laughing. There is no better way to serve the Cods than bringing joy into the lives of those who are not fortunate and adding some more to the lives of those who have reason to be happy."
What a profound message that is? Can crimes be committed by men whose hearts have learnt to smile even at misfortune, at injustice, at pain and frustration? Can men who welcome their problems with joyfulness be ever despondent and depressed and hurt anybody? Crime will be practically extinct in places where people have learnt to begin the day with the cheer, 'come storm. come rain.'
In course of time the Sages became old and one day one of them went the way of all mortals. "Now, now the other two are sure to weep and wail," thought the people. But what a strange sight they saw! The dead Sage had a smile on his face even in death and his two companions of years were laughing even in that hour.
The crowd was shocked, even annoyed at this indifference.
The two Sages said, "Today we have even greater cause to waste no tears. We three were full of so much life and now one is gone. In due course of time we also will go one by one. What an illusion life is! How transient! A balloon has burst. When death is a certainty why spoil life with tears and sorrow? Why not make the best of it till it lasts. You see then, why we have greater cause for not wasting tears? Even our dead companion would protest against our shedding tears if he could speak and ask us to be joyful."
When the funeral pyre was getting ready the two sages said to the people, "Those of you who cannot fight sadness better return to your homes." To face death cheerfully is to know and accept life fully. People get sad and weep when somebody dies, not so much for the loss but because death is a reminder of what awaits them also. But the people could not bring themselves to laugh.
For centuries tears have been expected of men at any funeral and their morbid curiosity would not permit them to return to their homes also. So they stayed and watched.
"Before you offer these mortal remains to the fires. aren't you going to bathe the Sage and change his clothes?" they asked.
"No, we have his strict instructions not to do so. and we cannot disrespect the last wishes, so he shall he as he is."
Soon the pyre was lit and within minutes the weeping crowd burst into waves of laughter. They laughed and laughed Before the last hour, the man had stuffed the pockets of his robes with colourful fireworks. As the pyre was lit, the crackers burst colourfully with ear-splitting sounds. Who could not help laughing in the face of the brilliant joke!
Such are some men! Even in death they leave only the sound of their laughter and the fragrance of their joyfulness behind.
Humanity needs a cheerful conception of religion if life is to be faced with equilibrium and equanimity.
which is otherwise defined by religious teachers as lack of mirth. Real tranquillity n-lust come as a result of joyful acceptance of life's trials and not as a result of a negative acceptance or as a result of helplessness and unwilling resignation to the Laws of Nature!
It is a well-known and true saying that you weep and weep alone. You laugh and the world laughs with you. There is a rational explanation for this laughter, i is an infectious virtue. It is communicative.. It is a wealth which is to be shared with others.
A gloomy soul is a dead soul, dried up and dehydrated Only cracks can appear in a dried up soul. Only burning heat can come out of it. That is why joyfulness is an essential qualification for friendliness. In fact they are reciprocal. Friendliness spreads joyfulness, joyfulness invites friendliness.
A man's attitude to life is echoed in everything he does. A negative, unfruitful and defeated attitude begets a similar response from others. A smile costs nothing to the giver. Yet, in return, it brings back such a lot of good.
Is it not true in the case of most of us that, when we face the dawn of a new day, we meet it half- heartedly. almost grudgingly? How many have ever welcomed the new day with thanksgiving? What appreciation do we show for the new opportunities which are given to better our lives? Anything could have happened last night. The final curtain could have dropped. But nothing unpleasant has happened. A new day awaits us. Yet, never do we feel a consciousness of that blessing.
There was a Muslim Emperor. He had a servant who had served him affectionately and faithfully for many, many summers. The Emperor was very fond of him, so much so that, before he partook of any delicacy, he would always offer it first to his old servant. The man accompanied the Emperor wherever he went. Once they both went into a jungle. As they unmounted to rest the Emperor plucked a fruit and peeled it himself. As was his habit he offered a section of it to the old man.
"How does it taste?"
"Wonderful, Sire, but please let me have some more" said the servant. This went on until only a last small section was left. The servant insisted upon having that piece too! The King had, by then, reached the end of his patience. The rotten, selfish servant wanted even the last slice! Before the servant could get the piece the King hurriedly put it into his mouth! Horror of horrors! The fruit tasted disgustingly bitter! The King quickly spat it out and said, "What a madman you are! This fruit is bitter like poison. How could you eat it and even praise it?"
The old servant said tenderly with tear-filled eyes "My Lord, many a time your hands have shared with me the sweetest and tastiest of fruits. Many a times your hands have offered me the best delicacies. If once this is not so, should T complain? How could I be so low and ungrateful. Yes, the fruit was bitter but your heart was filled with nothing but love when you offered it to me. Should I have failed to appreciate your nobleness?"
A constructive mind cannot remain gloomy and approaches life's problems with confidence. Instead of losing courage by the magnitude of his misfortunes he gathers his wits to meet them squarely.
How can such a man, who knows no defeat, spread anything else around except joy and cheerfulness?
Instead of counting our misfortunes let us take a mental stock of our blessings and we shall be surprised to see how many blessings we have received without actually deserving them.
There are many unpleasant things-which are beyond our control. And precisely that is why we must accept them, not in a spirit of defeat but cheerfully. Our life acquires the colour we paint it in. If the opposing forces are insurmountable, why waste energy in brooding over the unattainable and ruin even those moments which can be enriched with joy? Why not bow down like the humble tender grass, to the stormy winds and rise up again with least damage to ourselves? Then like the optimist, we shall turn a blind eye to the fury or the wind and instead, smile gratefully that the worst is over.
Men who know the art of living do not give shelter to defeatism and gloom. From the sands of time they manage to squeeze out the elixir of life. In every moment they discover reason for laughter.
These men alone are alive and kicking in the real sense of the word. The rest; those who darken the present moment by the shadow of yesterdays and fear of tomorrows are dead even when alive.
RENUNCIATION We are now in the last lap of our pleasant journey which is to lead us to the 'discovery of self', our final goal. We shall, in doing so, come face-to-face with God - many splendoured love, We have passed through three chambers so far which are (1) Compassion, (2) Friendliness, (3) Joyfulness, and now we are entering the fourth and last chamber called 'Renunciation'.
Renunciation means renouncing all the wordly values which were dear to us once. All that we had been clinging to as real and essential in the material world has now to be discarded. According to an old Indian custom, we are required to leave our shoes outside before we enter the house. The reason behind the custom is easy to understand. Our shoes carry all the dust, dirt and filth when we go from place to place. The house has to be protected from the uncleanliness. So, not only does the old custom require that we should leave the shoes outside but we are even required to wash our feet to get rid of any dirt clinging to them.
All that we gathered in life as valuable was only collection of junk and dirt. We have to part with this junk for good, before we can qualify for the supreme joy of becoming one with Him who is within us- Paramatma. All the so-called bodily pleasures and pains were an illusion, all those loves and hates too mere illusion, all the glory of material riches and worldly status were also an illusion. Therefore, we must not- we cannot carry anything with us which will damage the purity with which we wish to meet our destiny-Truth. Factors, which once crowded our mind's cellar with chaos and confusion.
With conceit and pride, with self satisfaction and 'I' have to be left out. In God"s temple only that which is clean, peaceful, pure and lasting must be taken with us. In Godliness are combined all these qualities with our system cleaned of all that was sinful and evil-with our senses cleared of the mist of selfishness. greed. malice the ego. we will be able to clearly see him who was all the while within us.
Renunciation is concerned with all that is without. unlike Compassion, Friendliness and Joyfulness, which are within. In short, all the things which are 'without' have to be renounced and also any ugliness within must be thrown away, as garbage is thrown away. Men have the habit of hoarding many useless, meaningless things. When we change our residence we discover, while packing, many articles which we do not need. Junk collects in the cellar. We go on collecting it because we say we may need it some day. That need never comes. When we enter the fourth chamber our soul must be free to breathe the fresh air of freedom from worldly problems. Our steps must not become heavy carrying a load of ugly feelings, ugly emotions, ugly reactions. Inner uncleanliness is as much a threat to our spiritual wellbeing as is physical uncleanliness to our bodily well-being.
Gold is purified by passing it through fire. All that was not gold is burnt away. Men in search of Truth have to go through renouncing, in order to remain with them only those things which are directly related to Truth. Ego, the greatest enemy to godly living and all other factors accompanying it, must be discarded. rejected, no matter how glorious it appears outwardly.
Thus in the fourth chamber, man must arrive stripped of all feathers. All that is perishable: wealth, name, family ties, popularity must be renounced before we finally qualify for God's blessings. Only that which stays within, that which does not perish, can accompany man in the fourth and final chamber. And this is what is meant by Renunciation-casting off, of all superficialities and touching God's feet with a heart cleansed of all impurity.
Through thousands of years we have sacrificed Truth at the altar of so-called public opinion. We have proudly carried the medals of public approval, public adulation, and applause. Greatness which comes from without, which has falsehood as its foundation, has to crumple in a heap one day or the other. Yet, we wish to hang on to it as long as we can. Tenaciously, we clutch at it like a child clutching at a china toy. But once we have begun our journey to the Temple of God, we must be ready to part with our red ribbons, The more quickly we will do it-the more whole-heartedly we will, of our own volition, render back what was never ours the quicker shall we know the healthy glow of an enlightened mind. We shall be set free of one false tie after another. Our wings will flutter with new vigour, our hearts will fill with new music.
Popularity always asks for truth as a stake. If in our quest for Peace and Godliness we need to part from a popular path we shall have to do so. Let religious scriptures say anything, if your reason, your conscience votes against it, then refuse to accept such teachings. No matter what sage, what great figure says it, if you cannot accept the preachings leave them alone. Our conscience is the sentry, guarding the purity of our soul. If we haven't smothered it completely with ugly forces like untruth, lewdness, avarice, malice, debauchery, greed, self-centredness and the ego then there is still a chance to repeal these vicious enemies and attain inner peace and purity.
Let go of every support from another. Stand alone, fortified by your own but dependable codes of Godliness and walk into the Abode of God where He waits for you.
It is a lonely road but it need not frighten those who have discarded their crutches and given themselves in His hands.
This blind race of a blind people must end. Man must experience for himself through compassion.
friendliness and joyfulness, the Supreme Sense of fulfilment. And when he has seen Light he must let the kindly light of Experience lead him on to Him where all evils end, conflicts disappear, sorrows evaporate, false values crumple and the ego makes a hasty retreat. Borrowed knowledge is dangerous. Mere parrot-like recitation of scriptural verses, mere dumb observance of religious formalities, fasting and self-denials do not lead to God. Theoretical knowledge is as good or as bad as ignorance. At times even ignorance is preferable to borrowed feathers.
At the doors of the chamber called Renunciation we have therefore to discard even the knowledge which we had borrowed from books, men and scholars, The only true knowledge is to know that we know nothing. A man sincerely in search of knowledge recognizes his ignorance more and more, With every new revelation he sees his smallness, his limitations with greater and greater clarity. The tiniest pebble, the tiniest ripple of water, everything that we see, touch and feel, acquaint us with the wonderful mysteries of God's creation. The atom, the tiniest of tiny creations of God is, in fact, as great a mystery as God Himself!
Therefore, when we renounce material values we must also renounce all knowledge (which in fact, is only an illusion). With childlike simplicity and unknowingness we must reach out to meet him.
Then, having trusted ourselves completely in his care, we shall be rid of all that which had burdened us until then. Our wings will flutter with the sheer joy of freedom and our hearts will beat in harmony and unison with him, echoing the music which in divinity and sweetness can never be equalled by any worldly joys.
Then it will be nothing but Love all along for "God is many splendoured love."