We regard this day of January 14th as very auspicious. It is called in India the Makara Sankranti, which is when the sun crosses the Tropic of Capricorn. Slowly winter will begin in Australia and summer will come to the northern hemisphere. This day is very auspicious for various reasons. It is at this very sacred moment that we gather here with a common purpose. The purpose is more than that which lies between a teacher and a the taught. In matters that are more than human, relationships are slightly supernormal. I hope you all understand what I actually mean.
The relationships in the world are of one kind, but the relationships which pertain to questions, issues and matters which are superhuman are themselves supernormal. This is the inner essence of the relationships enshrined in spiritual institutions. The relationship between one person and another in institutions of the spirit are not individualistic or human, but they imply and bear the stamp of something which beckons from above. It is something like a movement forward along a road on which one walks to a destination. Every step that we take forward is like a pull onwards; so also is this mysterious and unintelligible relationship among seekers of a common supernormal purpose.
I purposely use ‘supernormal’ instead of saying ‘religious’ or even ‘spiritual’, because these words have not been understood properly—but instead misused and sometimes even abused. We use the words ‘religious’, ‘spiritual’ and ‘yogic’ so many times that they have become commonplace. It appears as if we knew what yoga is, what religion is, and what spirituality is because we have heard the names so many times in newspapers, books and from people who profess to be teachers of yoga.
An idea occurred a year back, that it would not be bad if a few interested seekers were called to this institution and told what the essence of this matter is. Not that there are no people in the world who know this, but they are few in number; and few as the teachers are, so are the disciples also few. There are many who want this thing called yoga or religion or spirituality for a purpose that seems to be different from yoga, religion or spirituality. Very interesting indeed is this psychological phenomenon. We talk of yoga as the aim, religion as the aim, or spirituality as the aim, but internally, in our heart of hearts, we want to make use of these for a different purpose altogether, which lurks in our own bosom, so that our pursuits become means to certain personal ends. And so we use this so-called ‘yoga’ as a handmaid for our own personal ends. This we may intellectually argue, but it is at the bottom of the hearts of many seekers, honest they may be. Not that they are dishonest or hypocritical, but it is difficult to overcome what man essentially is. Man is man, after all. He has certain ways of thinking, and it is difficult to get over these stereotyped ways of human thinking. We have some ideas of good and bad; we are born with these ideas, and we want to die with them.
It is not fair that we simply die with the same old ideas with which we were born, and think that they are the right things. It may be that we are not right or that we need correction. Just as this is the circumstance and situation in small matters, this happens to be the situation in big things also. What we are in small things, that we are also in big things also. We should not think that we can just be careless in small matters but then be very careful in big matters. When we are careless in tiny things, then we will also be careless in big things. Drops make the ocean, as you know. A small thing as a cup of tea that we sip is important in the manner of its intake, and a small thing like a few words that we speak to a brother is as important as the big matter that we regard as God-realisation or the practice of yoga. I am not just joking—these are serious things to reflect and meditate upon. There is nothing that is unimportant. Before God at least, nothing is unimportant, insignificant or unnecessary. We should not imagine that we are wiser than God, or that we can distinguish between the important and the unimportant. There is no such thing as unimportant in this world.
So, what we have to learn is not yoga, but to be able to think rightly. Let yoga take our interest later on—it is necessary to be human first. To be divine is a different matter, and it is a later stage. To be a yogin, an adept or a master, is a different question. What we have to do in the initial stages is to learn to be human—to be a human being—which is different from imagining that we are human. Although we may walk with two legs we may not really be human, though we are bipeds, because to be human is not merely to walk with two legs. It implies something more than that. It implies a way of thinking, a method of conducting oneself in life, an attitude towards life, a particular relationship that we adopt with other people, and our life as a whole. All these imply what we consider to be human.
So, it is more a regeneration of the mind that is humanity, than mere walking with two legs. We may talk with the tongue and walk with the legs, but even then we need not be wholly human. Before studying yoga we have to learn first to be human beings. It is from humanity that we rise to divinity. Let us be sure that we are humans first, and then let us think of divinity, Godliness, yoga, atma, sakshatkara, and so on. These are, as I said in the beginning, small matters perhaps. “Oh, these are just nothing,” we may say, but they have not to be taken like that. There is nothing unimportant, as I told you. At least for a spiritual aspirant there is nothing unimportant as long as it is connected with one’s personal life. We may remember one great motto: Anything that is connected with us in any manner whatsoever is not unimportant.
Just imagine for a few minutes what are all the things that are connected with our lives. They are important. They may be persons, things, conditions, situations, ideas, concepts—whatever they be, if they are connected with us in any manner whatsoever, they are important. They are not unimportant. So, this psychological brushing up may be necessary in the earlier stages of study—an honesty of purpose in the pursuit of the aim and a whole-souled adaptation to the goal that we are seeking. Whole-souled—underline this word, the pursuit should not be only partial, one-sided or intellectual. It is you who wants to study yoga—not your mind or your intellect. It is you as a completeness, as a totality, as a reality, as a vitality and a meaning. Seek this ideal of yoga. The whole thing is based upon a tremendous caution in the way we conduct ourselves in life. A cautionness in anything tells us: Cautiousness is yoga. Put in a humorous way, vigilance is yoga—not meditation on God. That is a different thing. A person who is not cautious is not a yogin. A very great yogin named Sanatkumara once said, “What is woe, what is failure, what is destruction? It is carelessness.” Carelessness is veritably death. To be careful is to be a yogin, and to be careless is to invite death and destruction.
Destruction is not necessarily a physical wiping out from earthly existence—every failure is a kind of death. Any kind of a fall—psychological, social or personal—is a kind of dying. We are dying every moment of our lives, and we are also reborn every moment of our lives. Creation, preservation and destruction are taking place every moment. These are not cosmological events that took place millions of years ago. They are an eternal, perpetual and unceasing process that continues even now, individually and cosmically. So, the student of yoga is to be aware of all the subtle shades of difference in conducting oneself in life, to be cautious inwardly and outwardly, and to be wholly human, and then to aspire for the divine. At the present moment this may be difficult to envisage and comprehend wholly.
This is the background with which these series of lessons on yoga will be imparted. We are certain that it is going to benefit you immensely. It is something with which you can return home with great satisfaction, and something which is not easy to get everywhere. We cannot get this in bookshops or from people we meet in our day-to-day lives. It is difficult to get disciples; it is difficult to get teachers. Both these are rare in this world because they are rare specimens, and the combination of these two rare ideals is the occasion of the manifestation of God’s grace. On this auspicious occasion, therefore, we offer a prayer to the Almighty to bless us with true goodwill and right aspiration to know what our true and whole-souled objective in life is.
January 14, 1970