(Darshan given on July 23rd 1995.)
A visitor: This ashram has the highest reputation in the world.
Swamiji: The greater is the principle of God immanent in a person or an institution, the greater is the reputation of that person or institution. Actually, the reputation goes to God only. The whole world is a manifestation of His presence, including our own selves. So if there is anything worthwhile anywhere, it is the presence of that Supreme Being that immanently pervades every nook and corner of creation, even a sand particle. If we have any value, if anybody has any worth, it is the quantum of the presence of this Divinity in that person. Minus that, nothing has any value, so it amounts to saying that only God has value and there is nothing else that can have value. If anything else seems to have any value, it is because God is present there.
It is difficult to conceive this rather unusual way of thinking. Human beings cannot think like that because everyone is independent of the other. Each one is important independently, by himself or herself. The ‘I' and ‘you' and ‘he' and ‘she' and ‘it' are words we are using too many times. Actually, there is no such thing as ‘he', ‘she', ‘it', and so on. They are all nomenclatures created for the convenience of language and deciphering the individuality. With this mess of thinking we can get on nicely in this world, but it will not cut ice with God. And one day or the other the person has to leave this world.
It is necessary to be cautious. What happens to a person when he leaves this world? All the glory, all name, fame, everything goes in one second. Then what happens to all the good work that a person has done? Is it null and void? If it is not null and void, how does it follow that person? The body cannot carry it. Who goes, and what is the value that one can carry to the other realm? Not money, not name and fame, not power, not authority, not the importance of leadership – nothing will follow. What follows? The extent to which we have made God our own, that consciousness will follow us. In other words, the element of God will follow us. To the extent we have made Him our own, to that extent He will guard us in all the levels of creation. But if we have asserted ourselves too much and ignored the presence of That which has given value to us, then what will happen?
These are quintessential words regarding the teaching of Swami Sivananda himself. He had a motto: When you think and speak and act, God must be placed first. You cannot disregard Him in your activities. After that you look at the world; the world comes next to God. Lastly you come. This is also true from the point of the evolutionary process. God existed first, the world came next, and we came afterwards. The effect cannot take prerogative over the cause. The cause is more important than the effect. So all things we see here, whatever it is, is an effect, and prior to that was the creation of God: the five elements. Prior to that was God Himself. The cause is immanent in the effect, and the effect has no value minus the cause.
If we think along these lines, a thrill will automatically arise from our person that we are not helpless people, we are not forlorn, we are not without any guide or help. At every moment help comes to us. It has to come because God is present everywhere. But we cannot think like that because of the affirmative ego, we may say. How much importance do we give to our own selves? Let each one think about it: Am I an important person? Why am I important? What makes a person important? It is a kind of confused thought. It is also a hobgoblin in the head. No person can be called important. The importance is due to the entry of something which is important, of which one has no knowledge. It is a very tragic condition of humanity. Everywhere there is suffering. In the whole history of creation and the history of humanity you will find that there is turmoil, ups and downs, wars, conflicts, and newer and newer ideas, only to be supplanted by further ideas. Where does anything lead, finally? Where is the culmination of human history? Where does it lead? Nobody knows this.
Spirituality is a difficult concept. It cannot enter the brain of an ordinary mortal. You can have an external ritualistic demonstration of what you consider religion and spirituality, but spirituality is not what one does. It is what one is. The importance of God is in existence, not in activities. His existence itself is activity, like the sun shining in the sky. We cannot say the sun is not doing any work, and yet he does no work. The very existence itself is tremendous activity, which makes everyone run about. What is the importance of the sun in the sky? Nobody has time to think of that. We think we are getting on scot-free, that the sun may be there or may not be there, what does it matter? Let it not come for three days, and you will see what will happen to the important people in the world. Likewise is God. He is like the supreme sun whose very being itself is action, and if we can accept this principle that our being itself is action, then our very thought is the greatest of activities, and our very feeling is service. If we identify ourselves with this cosmic structure, we have done the greatest service to humanity because the mind is stronger than the hands and feet of a person.
This is a very lofty ideal that everybody has to keep in front of himself or herself, and there is no use imagining that all things are well, because any at moment the last breath will be taken. It can be tomorrow. The last moment isn't necessarily after sixty years. It can be after sixty minutes. And how should one conduct oneself at that moment? Suppose the end comes after sixty minutes; now, at this moment, what is the person to do? Will he read books at that time? Will he speak? Will he give lectures? He has nothing to do afterwards. The world is of no concern to him because he is living only for sixty minutes more. So what is his duty at that time? Can anybody conceive this? At that moment, what is the duty? No organisation, no books, no literature, no friends, no disciple, no Guru – nobody will come there. The whole thing goes like an object in dream. Then something comes. What that something is, is the duty of a person to know. It requires initiation, the company of a great Master who knows the art of living based on the science of Being. This is what we have learned from Swami Sivananda.
July 24th, 1995
Swamiji: I was told that The Divine Life Society has a great reputation. I collected my thoughts and wanted to say something about this importance of the reputation or worthwhileness of anything: where does it lie, and how anyone becomes important at all.
The point that I dilated upon was that reputation, worthwhileness, glory, power, eminence, etc., cannot be considered as characteristics of mortal human individuality because human nature, as it is empirically viewed, is just a skeleton, flesh and bone, like a scaffolding, which is necessary and important of course, but by itself it has no intrinsic value. People who generally feel that they are important, that they have got eminence of some sort, perhaps are missing the essential issue behind this phenomenon of reputation, importance, glory or greatness.
Nothing in the world can be called great or important because there cannot be several important things in the world. If that had been the case, there would be a conflict between and among several important centres. All the value that we associate with anyone or anything in this world, if at all that value is to be our permanent nature, has to be credited to that which is really permanent. Impermanent, passing phenomenon of the physical frame of the human individual cannot be credited with permanent value. Do we really want a worthwhileness or value which is of a permanent nature, or would we be satisfied with an effervescent importance, a passing show of greatness?
There is a contradiction between the brittleness of human individuality, the fickleness of life and the mortality of all things seeping into the vitals of everyone in creation, and the search for that which is of permanent value. These two ideas do not seem to go together. But the contradiction is solved if we go deeper into this quest for a permanent value and the frail nature of human individuality. How can frailty seek eternity? And it is seen that we do seek such a thing, which means to say, we are in heaven as well as on Earth at the same time. Our originals, which are usually called archetypes, the real souls of our own selves, are not in this world.
We are restless and dissatisfied with everything in the world. The cause of this restlessness is generally attributed to political upheaval and social evil, but that is not the real cause. The restlessness and dissatisfaction that is inherent in human nature is to be attributed to the call from the higher realms of being, to which we really belong. Our higher self is summoning us: “Come on. You are here.” We ourselves are calling ourselves, as it were, from an abode where we are actually residing and existing even at this moment, which we are unable to realise because of a frail, affirmative sense called ego, clinging to this framework of physicality, and imagining that our sorrows are man-made. They are not made by anyone. They are circumstantial consequences following from a conflict between our higher nature and our lower nature, our clinging to the Earth on the one hand and our aspiring for eternity on the other. Philosophers are likely to designate this phenomenon as a clash between the noumenon and the phenomenon.
It is difficult to comprehend what this world is made of, how we are located here, and what the station and our duty in this phenomenon of the world is. If we know where we are actually located, the circumstances under which we are living, what our station is, actually speaking, we would also know what our duty is. But what is the station, actually? We may say the station is Rishikesh, or it is India, or America, or England, but this is not the station. Our real station is where we are firmly rooted, truly speaking, because we have come from somewhere as pilgrims in the sojourn of this evolutionary process, and to that original source from where we came, we have to return.
The call to return is the cause of the restless of life. In some way, it is the call of the higher self. It is the summon issued to the lower self, as the Bhagavadgita would put it. Uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet, ātmaiva hyātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ (B.G. 6.5): We are our own friends and we are our own enemies. Whenever our lower, physical selfhood wages a war with our higher self, our higher self, which we actually are in the purest sense of the term, will give a kick to the lower self, and the nemesis of that kick will be the sorrow of life.
We require enlightenment. We do not require money, power, authority, respect. Nothing of the kind. These so-called requirements of human life are like a wisp of wind, like a piece of straw. They have no meaning, because whatever meaning we see anywhere in the world is due to the immanence of that which is of permanent value. If there is anything worthwhile in this world, even if there is something which can be called really existing, it is due to its borrowing true existence from somewhere else. Otherwise, nothing exists, really speaking. Everything is passing. How could that which is passing really have the feeling that it is existing?
The passing phenomenon is also hiddenly pervaded by a thing that does not pass away, so we feel that we are existing even in the midst of a flow, a succession of evolutionary process. Even in the process of dying, we feel that we would like to live. Even a dying man would like to live, though he knows that death is immanent. That desire to live in spite of the knowledge that no one can live forever is due to the call of God, the eternal existence, life perpetual, our own higher self, which we have disregarded because of our being wedded to sense perceptions and seeking pleasures which are not existing at all. We are not merely effervescent; we are non-existent. We are a will-o'-the-wisp, a phantasmagoria. Awakening to this fact may be regarded as true spiritual education, or true education as such. We require institutions of this kind to train persons in the art of thinking in this manner for their own benefit as well as for the benefit of the world as a whole. We require true education, true enlightenment.
Towards this end, great Masters of teaching spiritual life are the real values of life – Avataras, saints and sages, and institutions of this kind. They are the inheritors of eternal values, the propagators of these values to mankind, working vigorously to awaken mankind from the slumber of ignorance of the Eternal Truth.