Chapter 19: Spiritual Atmosphere and God-World Relation
Carlos: Why is it that when we meditate here in this place we can go deeper than in other places?
Swamiji: It is because of the influence of the atmosphere. That is the reason behind it. If you are in a different atmosphere, the thought gets diluted. Circumstances and the atmosphere around you have a great influence. If you are alone, you think in one way; if you are in the midst of many people as in a railway compartment, you will think in a different way. If you are inside a church or a temple, you will think in one way; if you are in a marketplace, you will think in a different way altogether. If you are in the presence of a holy man or a great soul, you will think in one way; if you are in the presence of a thief, you will think in a different way. This is to give an example of how circumstances and the atmosphere around have an influence upon oneself. That is why it is said that the most important requisite for a spiritual seeker is company of good people, called satsanga. Nothing is equal to satsanga. The company of noble persons is the best remedy for every kind of problem in spiritual life.
The books that you read and the company that you keep will tell something about you. You find out what books the person is reading and what company that person is keeping; from that you can know something about that person himself. It is an old saying or proverb: "Tell me the books you read and the company you keep; I shall tell you what you are".
Devote some time to reading elevating literature, generating noble thoughts, and don't keep company with people who will distract your mind. In modern days people have company of television, cinema and clubs. This is the company that people keep, and you can know how dissipated the mind can be after having such company.
Carlos: How can we live a more spiritual life in the West? Sometimes it looks like the world doesn't want God.
Swamiji: The object does not want the subject merely because it is the object. What you call the world is the object of consciousness. As long as it is considered as an object, it will want nothing except itself, and nobody will want it, also. But it is a wrong notion which dubs a thing as an object. When the object becomes the subject, then it will cease to be troubling you. If the world has become the subject itself, there is no need of renouncing it. You are renouncing only the wrong notion about it.
Carlos: But Swamiji, how can you live in the world without being distracted by cinemas and clubs, and so on? The distractive forces are like an antithesis. They are there. They have an attraction.
Swamiji: You need not go to cinemas or clubs, and don't go to bars. Who asked you to go? Let them be there, but you need not go there. Why are you interested in them?
Carlos: I am not interested in them, but they have a pressure. The social atmosphere has an influence on the spiritual seeker.
Swamiji: It cannot influence you, unless your mind is weak. A weak mind can be influenced by any devil, and everywhere there are devils in the world ready to jump on you.
Carlos: But Swamiji, we say that there is just God.
Swamiji: But the devil is also there. You can say anything, but your mind does not believe it. The mind says that there is a club, but by theory you say that God only is there. So what is the use of such theoretical talking, when your feelings say that there is a club? Tell me what your heart says. Does the heart say that the club does not exist? If it does not exist, I have no objection; but you are saying one thing and feeling another. That is a contradiction.
Carlos: Then how should I act, practically?
Swamiji: You become that trouble itself; then it will cease to act, and won't affect you afterwards. It becomes your very self, which cannot trouble you. The question will not arise. You become the question itself, yourself.
Carlos: People will think I am crazy if I talk like that.
Swamiji: You become those people also yourself. Then who will think about you? If you become those people, there are no people to think of you. Again, you are thinking that somebody is there outside.
Carlos: It is a gradual process, Swamiji.
Swamiji: If you don't want to do a thing, you start talking like that; otherwise, you can do it in one minute. It doesn't take a gradual course and all that. When the time comes for us to depart from this world, it has to be done instantaneously. You cannot say "tomorrow we will do it."
Visitor: Swamiji, when we are not accepted by other people, what should we do?
Swamiji: Why are you worried about it? In what way are you affected by the other person not accepting? He may not understand you and, therefore, he is not accepting. How do you expect everybody to understand you? The world is so big. Many will not understand, and if they don't understand, leave it there. Why are you worrying? What is the problem? You are unnecessarily creating problems for yourself. It is mainly a psychological problem.
Visitor: If really someone doesn't accept me when I would like to do something for them, what should I do?
Swamiji: Then you don't do anything. Keep quiet.
Visitor: There are two ways for our life. One is to attach to the world around us and perform our works perfectly, and the second is to attach to the Almighty only. Which is the better one?
Swamiji: You tell me whether God is better, or the world is better. If you think the world is better, you need not think of God. Forget Him. But if a doubt is there, then think a second time. There are people who think that there is no God at all, that they need not bother about Him, that the world is perfectly all right, and that they can get on without Him. If there are people who think in that manner, let them please themselves. But if there is a doubt that it is not so and there is something else, then it is worth knowing what that something is.
God created the world. How can He have a clash with His own creation? You are imagining that there is a clash, but there is no such thing. God is embodied in this world, so how will He clash with Himself? That is not possible. The clash is only in our mind; it is not in God, nor in the world. We have not understood what God is or what the world is. So, both ways we are having imperfect ideas about things. The world is an appearance of God; so, how can there be a conflict?