* Extracts from Shree Maharajji's lecture *
Yesterday, I told you about the importance of the mind in loving the Beloved. It is the mind alone which has to love. You know what it means to love, even though you do not know how to do it correctly. Right now, you love for your own self-interest. You have to learn to love for the sake of the Beloved. Just add this knowledge to what you know already about love and loving. It is a very clear concept. Just as we love the world in order to attain worldly property, likewise we must love the Divine Beloved for spiritual attainments. Pay attention to both statements. Our past practice is to love worldly objects for the sake of worldly ends. Now, we have to love the “Divine Beloved” for the attainment of Divine love and nothing else. Other than this, the practice of love remains exactly the same. There are two modifications only. The first is that we must love for a spiritual end; and the second is that love should be directed towards Divine personalities – God and His Saints.
Why should we have a spiritual goal? The straightforward answer to this is that we are spiritual beings. We are not the body; we are the soul. If we were the body, it would have been proper for us to love material objects. But we are spiritual; we are eternal parts of God. Therefore, we cannot attain our happiness through material objects. What does “our” mean? It means “that which belongs to us.” And who are we? The soul. The body is not us; it belongs to us. When someone dies, we say, “He left the world today. Many people have gathered to pay final respects to his dead body.” What they are paying respects to, is the corpse. The soul has left. This corpse was there before, but because the soul was present we called it a live body and when the soul leaves we call it a corpse. The body is devoid of consciousness and is made of five gross elements. The combination of ether, air, fire, water and earth, goes into the making of our body. In fact, everything in the world is a combination of these five elements, and the body is just one them. As you know, there are different types of bodies in existence. Humans have a unique body. Animals have a completely different kind of a body. The body of a bird is again very distinct. You have seen many types of bodies yourself. Who has created these? We do not care to investigate who has created them; we are just fascinated by the different bodies and their unique features. Some creatures can live only in water; some can live only out of water; some can live both in water and on earth. This world is so awe-inspiring that we have not been able to comprehend what goes into the making of even a blade of grass. The greatest minds of the world have spent billions of dollars on research, but have not succeeded in knowing how the world came into being in the first place. The cause of this awe-inspiring creation remains a mystery. Look at a flower. How colorful it is! Who made this flower? A seed was planted in the earth and one day it became a flower. Did scientists have to make great efforts to grow a flower? No, not at all. The tree grew on its own; leaves came on the tree by themselves; branches came about; fruits and flowers grew by themselves. To build an aircraft, thousands of workers are employed in a factory. Still things go wrong with the machinery. On the other hand, this creation came into being by itself, without a visible creator. And it continues to be created daily. In the summer all the trees dry up because of intense heat. The entire forest looks barren. Then it rains and everything is green once again. No human interference is needed. You have witnessed a handful of these miracles in the world. You have no idea of the astonishing things that take place in the infinite universes? You have no means of knowing them? However, all these miracles witnessed in creation are a play of the five material elements.
Brahm Sutra says that this creation is a play of God. There is no effort involved in game or play. People say, “It happened effortlessly, like it was child’s play.” This is all child’s play for God; nevertheless, it is beyond the combined intellect of the greatest minds in countless universes. However, creation is not a direct play of God; it is a play of His five material elements. To witness His direct play, you will have to follow my instructions. You will have to love Him. Then you will qualify to directly participate in His loving plays, or pastimes.
But, this play of the material elements, i.e. the world, can benefit us tremendously and can also do us great harm. It is beneficial because no one can remain alive without it. If even a part of it were to be destroyed - if you were to cut down all the trees in the world - everyone would die.
The entire world has been created very scientifically for the maintenance of the body. It is in the human body that we will do our sadhana, surrender to God and attain Him, which is what we are actually here for. So we must be very careful in maintaining the body. I have told you many times that if you are careless in this regard, you will lose the very thing that is indispensible for your sadhana.
The Vedas and shastras instruct is to eat, drink and sleep in moderation. We must not abuse the world that God has gifted to us. To do anything properly, there is a need for discipline and order. To write something, pen, paper, hands, eyes and intellect must work together. Whether it is a little child writing on a piece of paper or an adult doing office work, all these things have to work together. If even one of these goes wrong, you will not be able to write properly. You will get a scolding. To cook a simple meal, a woman needs many ingredients and she must use them all properly. If she uses salt instead of sugar, all her hard work goes to waste. Similarly, this world has been created for our use. We must use it properly, without becoming attached to it. It has been given to us so that we may sustain our body. Whatever is needed for the body should be used as and when required. It is the causeless mercy of God that when we entered the mother’s womb, all arrangements were already made. And when we emerged from the womb, mother’s milk was provided, because we could not digest grains. There is this wonderful arrangement, or else we would have died immediately after taking birth, and the world would have been useless for us.
So this play of God with the five material elements is vital for the upkeep of the body. At the same time, it is a very dangerous sport. How? In our ignorance, we have mistaken ourselves to be the body and wasted infinite lives in enjoying the objects of this world, trying to give pleasure to the body. We received no pleasure, because we are actually spiritual in nature and so our subject must also be Divine. Our subject must be something that we are a part of. Since, the ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin are made of the five material elements, their subjects must also be of the same elements. Similarly, since the soul is a part of God, its subject can only be God.
Now you must have understood that although we know how to love and although we do practice love, yet we make two mistakes. The first mistake is that our love is directed towards worldly people for the sake of attaining the world. And then there are some who are more intelligent, but they make an even bigger mistake. They firmly believe there to be happiness in the world, and thinking so, they ask God for the world. They pray, “My Lord! Be merciful to me; give me a son. Bestow grace upon me; give me wealth.” Their mistake is an even bigger one. Why do I say this? Because they reach the goal, and then spoil everything by desiring the impermanent world. They multiply hundreds of thousands and even millions, but into zero. And as everyone knows, if you multiply into zero the end result is always zero.
Let us say that you have a son whom you love very dearly. What do you do if he becomes seriously ill? You go to the doctor and plead with him, “Doctor, I don’t care how much the treatment costs, but please save my son’s life.” Now, do you love the doctor or your son? Of course your son. You are attached to him. If you had loved the doctor, you would not make him go through the trouble of treating your son. Your aim in crying in front of the doctor and pleading with him is to save your son’s life. Likewise, we are attached to the material world. When we pray to God, we are in fact asking Him for the world. There can be no greater folly than this. People call Kalidas the most foolish man because he was cutting the branch he was sitting on. I don’t accept this. He would have fallen down, got hurt and recovered in a few days. But this foolishness of asking for the world is so great that we have wasted our infinite past lives because of it, and have not got free of our troubles yet. If we persist in this manner we can never ever hope to, at least not until we give up asking God for the world. So to ask for worldly things from the world is foolish, but to ask for worldly things from God is even more foolish.
Therefore, I have pointed out two things. One is that what we desire should be Divine, and the second, that the one we desire it from should be a Divine personality. No one else will have anything Divine, whether it be a sattvic personality, i.e. celestial god or goddess, a rajasic personality, i.e. a human, or a tamasic personality, i.e. a demon. In infinite universes, anything that is under maya, or is a product of maya, cannot have the Divine happiness that we are seeking. It is not that they have it to some extent. They cannot have it at all! There is no such thing as having some or a little divine happiness. Remember this.
Bliss is not limited. The definition of Bliss is that which is unlimited, infinite, immeasurable, Divine, ineffable, and eternal.
Now, we are familiar with the method of loving. We love our mother, father, wife and beloved. What happens in this love? We desire to see and touch the ones we love. In fact we want to satisfy all our five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch, through the ones we love. We long to see them; we want to see them always. We are always under the sway of such emotions.
People questioned Tulsidas on how dear Ram should be to them. He pondered on how he could explain it to them. It is very difficult even for a Saint to explain this, because no one in the world has ever experienced the Bliss of loving God. And the so-called love of the world is absolutely no comparison. But, what was he to do? To enable people to have atleast a vague idea, he would have to explain and that too with a worldly example. To compare the feeling of pleasure that a passionate man gets from loving a desirable woman, to the feeling Tulsidas gets from loving Ram, is sheer madness. But because these feelings are understandable to the world, he presents us with this comparison in the Ramayan.
Once Akbar disguised himself and went out into his kingdom to make inquiries. When it was time to read the namaz, he spread a sheet on the ground. Kneeling on it he started to pray. Just then a woman came running. She was going to meet her beloved and was so lost in anticipation of seeing and embracing him that she inadvertently stepped on the sheet. In her state, she did not realize that Muslims consider the prayer sheet to be a representative of God Himself. She stepped on the prayer sheet and kept running. When Akbar saw this, he was besides himself with rage. Anyone would have been upset, let alone the emperor. Akbar said to Birbal, “Present this woman in court and think of some punishment even more severe than the death penalty. The death penalty is given even to common criminals. This woman has committed a crime the likes of which no one has ever committed. There was so much space to walk on. Why did she have to step on the holy cloth? She did this deliberately.” Renouncing his namaz, Akbar returned to his palace extremely angry. The woman was arrested and brought before him. Akbar asked her, “Why did you commit such a sacrilegious act?” The woman replied, “My Lord! You are an emperor. No one would do this to even an ordinary man. But you claim I did it.” Akbar said “I claim ! No, you actually did it.” The woman said “I can speak frankly now, because I know you will put me to death anyway. However, I wish to say something before I die.” Akbar asked, “What do you wish to say?” “I love a worldly man and I was so absorbed in his thoughts that I stepped on your prayer sheet without realizing that I was walking into my death trap. I did not do this purposely. Who wants to lose her life, and for no reason? I was in a trance induced by thoughts of my worldly beloved. But, what I find truly sorrowful is that you were not totally absorbed in the worship of your Divine Beloved. If you were, you would not have noticed me. Let the whole world know that you did not acknowledge Allah as your Emperor.” Tears filled Akbar’s eyes. He fell at the woman’s feet and said “You speak the truth. I should have been absorbed in my Beloved during prayer.
This example shows how absorbed a person can become even in worldly love. But of course it is true that in worldly love it happens only sometimes and to a select few and only when attachment crosses a certain limit. It cannot persist all the time. The same woman who stepped on the prayer sheet, would have become normal after seeing her husband. And, if she were to see him all day at home, she would also start feeling detached from him. What happens next, you people also know. She may even say to him, “I ruined my life by getting married to you.” (laughter) So, absorption in material love is not a permanent state, because that is not love at all. There is no question of love in the material realm. But temporarily, there can be a sentiment in which there is complete absorption and that too only if the man and woman are overcome by a passionate desire for each other. That is why Tulsidas gave this example “just as a passionate man desires a woman.” This was written to give worldly people some idea of the devotee’s absorption in God.
Tulsidas Ji, after giving this one example, provides another one to show how intense our love for God should be. He says, “just as a greedy man loves wealth.” Everyone loves wealth, but a greedy man has a special love for money. There was once a merchant who was excessively greedy. He did not care for food and drink, or the love of a wife, son or the rest of the world. He only loved money. “When will I make a million?” And the moment he had made a million, he would think, “When will I have two million?” On reaching this target, he would dream, “When will I make three million?” In this way, all he did was plan and practice, plan and practice. He would note, “That person is wealthier than me.” When he overtook that person in wealth, he would think, “Now, I have left him behind. Now, I have to beat that other person.” In this way he was competing unnecessarily with other wealthy men, like horses in a horse race. (laughter). Of course everyone has love for money, but in a greedy man, it goes to such an extent that he can take an insurance policy out on his wife and kill her just to get the money. Then he can marry again and kill again for money. Such incidents take place in our country. For the sake of money people learn and employ many deceptive methods.
One day the greedy man closed his shop and started counting his money. Sales had been very good that day, and so there was a lot of money to count. The maid came to him with his evening meal. She said, “Sir, your dinner is ready.” He did not even hear her. Soon, it was 10 o’clock, then 11 o’clock. Midnight came. Then, one o’clock, and soon it was 2 a.m., but he had not finished counting his money. He could not help it. It just felt so good. The maid came many times and returned without any reaction from him. Finally she gave up. Then the man’s wife went to him and said with the authority that a wife has, “It is morning time. Your money is not running away. Come and eat.” She did not get any reaction from him either. He continued counting his money. Then his wife thought of a way to get his attention. She took some rice pudding and put a spoonful into her husband’s mouth. She thought that he would come out of his greed-induced trance upon tasting the sweetness of the rice-pudding. But he smacked his lips and said, “It’s good that I have had dinner and dessert. Now I can get back to work. I still have some money to count.” He then proceeded to wash his hands in the wash basin. He actually felt that he had finished dinner. His wife gave up and said, “No one can do anything for you. Now you will give up food and drink and die in a few days.”
This is extreme attachment. You can see this sort of attachment to wealth in big cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. When I go to these big cities, I observe the rat race going on there. I must admit that even these people have a little love for God, but still they do not take the time out to attend satsang. If you ask them why, they say, “I close my shop very late.” “You can close it a little earlier.” “But that would mean a loss of a thousand rupees.” The nature of greed is that we have desires which are ever-increasing. But the pleasure of getting money is something special, understood only by a greedy man. So these examples of Tulsidas Ji apply to the exceptionally passionate or extremely greedy person and can be understood truly only by them – the love for a woman or wealth to a degree where one becomes completely absorbed in them to the complete exclusion of everything else. We have to reach this state of exclusive absorption in God, our Beloved.
“The world should appear void in separation from Him.” We may not reach this stage immediately. We may reach it within a day, ten days, ten years or ten lifetimes. There is no fixed time limit. How quickly you reach this stage, depends entirely on you. How much you surrender to God, is entirely your choice. If you surrender ten percent, you will attain ten percent benefit. If you surrender one hundred percent, you will derive one hundred percent benefit.
Once a king went to Jesus and asked him “How can I acquire the Divine wealth that you have? What do I have to do?” He asked Jesus this with great fervor, as though it was child’s play. Jesus looked at him and said “Son, if you want Divine wealth, give away all your worldly wealth. If you want the entire spiritual wealth give away your entire material property.” The pride of possessing a million, a kingdom, a wife, a son, a mansion and a beautiful body has to be given up.
“Whatever is dearest to you in the world, should be offered to Me, and I will return it to you a thousandfold.” You have to rid yourself of the feeling of ownership. If you can do this while possessing worldly wealth, well and good. But this is next to impossible. Only very advanced spiritual aspirants can be devoid of the feeling of ownership in the presence of worldly goods. It is not possible for a householder. He will feel the absence of the feeling of ownership only on the removal of personal possessions. You people have a bank account. You do not carry money with you all the time. People say, “Today I needed five rupees, and I had to ask the driver.” Some thirty years ago, in this very Pratapgarh District, we decided one Sunday to go for a ride. There were many officers with me. Some Civil Judges were there; some Judicial Magistrates and some District Administrators. We all went out for a ride for no particular reason. There were two cars. At that time I was very spontaneous. These people came from the court and said, “Maharaj Ji, let us go for a ride.” “Where should we go?” “Wherever you want. Let’s just go somewhere.” We had gone 15-20 miles when they realized that in their hurry they had forgotten to bring along my paan box. They realized this when I asked for a paan. Now everyone started blaming one another. One said, “You came last; you should have brought it.” Another said, “That box is always with you; why didn’t you bring it?” I said, “Why don’t you just buy a paan from that stall in front?” Anyhow, the paan vendor prepared about half a dozen paans. I put one in my mouth as did the others. The bill came to twelve annas (three quarters of a rupee). In those days, a rupee had great value. The funny thing was that no one had any cash on them. Imagine! All these important District Officers and none of them had even a rupee on their person. They had just left the court and had no cash. What could be done? We asked the driver, and he had only twenty-five paise. Anyhow, it was not enough money to pay for the paan. One of the officers said to the vendor, “Don’t worry about it. We will send you the money later.” The vendor said, “Sir, that will not do.” He had no idea who these people were. Had he known, he would have offered to prepare some more paan without charging them money. Anyhow, there was a police station nearby and the police inspector offered to go to the station for some money. He went there, called the sub-inspector and told him to pay the vendor. When the vendor saw the sub-inspector saluting, he understood that these people were senior officers. Immediately he refused payment. I got out of the car at this point and said, “No, no. You will get your money.” Knowing fully well that the sub-inspector would not pay the vendor, I said to him, “Mr. Sub-inspector, you pay this vendor and then get the money from the Judicial Magistrate. You often come to the court. Drop by his house and collect the money.” The sub-inspector said, “I will not ask for a mere twelve annas back from the Judicial Magistrate.” I said, “But if you don’t take money from the Judicial Magistrate, the vendor will not take money from you. Next Sunday we will come this way again and then I will enquire whether or not you have paid this man.” Anyhow, such a drama took place that day. So you see, sometimes the situation is such that even a very wealthy person may not be carrying even small change on him, though he may have millions in the bank. He is very happy, although all he has to show for his money is a piece of paper. “Sir! What’s the matter? Why do you have your nose in the air?” “I have tons of money.” “Can you show it to me?” “I have the proof on this piece of paper.” He cannot even see it, but still the pride of ownership, the attachment is there.
Now, the method by which we develop attachment to worldly objects has to be diverted to the Divine realm. There is nothing new to learn. In our worldly attachments, we meditate on the one we love or hate. Attachment can mean either friendship or enmity. A girl thinks, “That boy is nice. I like his eyes, his ears, his nose. I like the way he walks. I like his style of talking.” When a person meditates on another again and again, he ultimately becomes absolutely absorbed in that person. Someone else may meditate less on the qualities of that person and therefore he does not become deeply attached. A third person thinks, “Why bother?” He does not think about that person’s qualities, and so remains indifferent.
There were three boys and all three saw the same girl. One became completely infatuated with her and felt he would die without her. One felt some mild attraction. And the third said “What is there to get so attached over. There are thousands of other girls.” So he asks the first boy, “Why are you so infatuated with this girl? If you want to achieve anything either material or spiritual, you need to remain normal. When you get married you can get attached then. What kind of a man are you that you fall in love with every girl you see!” Being detached, he is able to give this advice. The one who has thought constantly about the girl, says, “What do you know about love? I can not get her out of my mind.” What is so special about her that she won’t leave his mind? He has forced her in, in the first place, by constant thinking about her.
This is the link described in Geeta. If your mind ascribes happiness to an object again and again you get attached to the object.
Even inert worldly objects like wine, meat, tea or cigarettes, capture your mind completely because of your constant meditation on them. And it reaches a point where you cannot have peace without them. You become addicted to them. Therefore, Ved Vyas says-If you constantly think of Shree Krishna, who is an ocean of Bliss, and you get that higher taste just once, there is no power that will be able to remove Him from your mind.
The Bliss of devotion to Shree Krishna is so sweet that the most intelligent ones reject even liberation in favour of it.
So, to love worldly persons or objects, for worldly ends must be given up completely. And to love God and Guru for worldly ends is even more dangerous. We will have to renounce both habits. What will happen after that? I will tell you the answer another time.