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Dhyan - ध्यान 2
जगद्गुरु आचार्य श्री १०८ कृष्णमणिजी महाराज
Dhyan - ध्यान
जगद्गुरु आचार्य श्री १०८ कृष्णमणिजी महाराज
Desires and Desirelessness
One of the greatest plagues of human beings is our insatiable desires. We truly never feel satisfied. We never feel that we have had "enough." We are always looking for more and more and more. This pertains to almost every area of our lives. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are sky-rocketing because we always want "just one more" ladoo, gulabjamun or piece of chocolate cake. Our bank accounts are getting fuller but our lives are getting emptier because we are always striving to close "just one more deal" or to take on "just one more project", thereby sacrificing the precious time that we could otherwise spend on spiritual pursuits or with our families or engaged in service for others. Talking to my young friends around the world I hear about their boyfriends and girlfriends, who seem to change by the month! "He was nice but he was not smart enough." "She was sweet but not as beautiful as I would like." "He was perfect but half an inch too short."
Families with 4 people have 5 mercedes in the driveway! Everyone has only two feet, yet I know people with hundreds of pairs of shoes. We have one body, but closets full of clothes. What is the need? Nothing other than the futile attempt to satiate our desires.
There is a beautiful line in one of the prayers we sing each morning. It says,
Zindiggi ki dora saunpa, haath Dinaanaath-ke
Mahalon me rakhe chahe, jhopri me vasa de
Dhanyavad nirvivad Rama-Rama kahiye
Jahi vidhi rakhe Rama, tahi vidhi rahiye.
It means, Surrender your life to God. Give Him the reins to your chariot. Wherever He leads you, be happy. Whether He puts you in a palace or a shack, just stay there and be thankful. Be always grateful to the Lord, without any argument and without any doubt. Be happy, ever happy, in whatever condition He keeps you.
This is the only way to live. It is through surrendering to Him that we become desireless. Through being desireless we attain peace and joy. We think, mistakenly, that it is by fulfilling our desires that we will attain joy. However, it is the opposite. Fulfillment of desire leads to temporary happiness NOT because the object of desire was attained, but simply because the desire has now temporarily disappeared! If I am craving a new car and I get a new car, then my desire for a new car has gone away. It is not the new car itself that gives me the joy, but rather it is the fact that I am now free of the desire for a new car. The diminishment of desire is what brings joy to us. But the way to diminish our desires is not to rush around and try to fulfill them. There are always more. They are like weeds in the garden of our mind. No matter how many we pluck, there will always be more… For a short while we are satisfied, and then the fire of desire begins burning again.
I remember when I was on my first trip to the United States, over 25 years ago, and I was staying in Los Angeles. The family I was staying with had a beautiful Rolls-Royce car. We were driving in the Rolls-Royce car one day and the man said to me urgently, "Swamiji, look, look, do you see that car?" He frantically pointed out a car driving near us on the freeway and made sure that I knew which one he was showing me. As we were in the middle of serious conversation on another topic at the time, he did not elaborate further. However, later when we returned home, he said to me, "Swamiji, I need your blessings. Do you remember that car I showed you as we were driving? That is the model of Rolls-Royce I want. Please bless me that I can get that model of Rolls-Royce." I was amazed! Here we were sitting in a Rolls-Royce and he is dreaming about a different Rolls-Royce! But, the truth is, life is always like that.
We must renounce our desires. That doesn't mean renounce enjoyment or renounce possessions. Rather, it means savor everything. Enjoy whatever God gives you, as much as He gives you, however He gives it, and wherever He gives it. Use whatever you have for the benefit of the world. Rest peacefully in the realization that you have exactly as much as God wants you to have right now. You are in exactly the place and exactly the position where He wants you. Do not let your life go to waste always thinking, "If only I had that, then I would be happy." Wherever God is, that is where true richness is.
Look at Hanuman - after the war in Lanka, Ma Sitaji presented Hanumanji with a beautiful, precious pearl necklace. Hanumanji proceeded to carefully examine each and every pearl - from top to bottom, from left to right. Then, he began to take the pearls off the string, one by one, bite them in half, again examine them thoroughly, and then throw them on the ground. Ma Sitaji could not watch this. Finally she said, "Hanuman - what are you doing? That is a very expensive, precious necklace I have bought for you. Why are you pulling off the pearls and breaking them?"
Hanumanji replied, "I am looking for Rama. You have said these pearls are priceless and precious. If so, they must have Rama inside them." Pearls (and diamonds and rubies and cars and money) are only precious if they are filled with God. If God is not there, it doesn't matter how expensive the diamond is, it is still empty and useless. God's presence in your life can turn stones to diamonds, but without God your diamonds are as worthless as stones.
So, let us vow that we will desire God and only God. Where He is, everything is. And let us vow not to waste any more precious moments of life in the endless and futile pursuit for more and more pleasures and more possessions.
May God bless you all.
Seva and Sadhana - The Paths to the Divine
According to traditional Indian philosophy there are three main paths to the Divine or "yogas", described in compelling detail by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:
- The path of knowledge, or "gyan yoga",
- The path of righteous action or "karma yoga" and
- The path of devotion or "bhakti yoga."
For the purpose of this article I want to discuss the latter two - karma and bhakti yoga. Are we better off sitting still and meditating upon the Divine, chanting His name and endeavoring to experience our inherent Oneness with Him, or are we better getting up and selflessly serving His creation? This question arises quite frequently on the spiritual path -- which is more important, sadhana or seva? Will I attain enlightenment, liberation, moksha or the state of Divine Bliss faster in lotus posture with eyes closed or with eyes open, hands working?
Or, is there really any true difference between the two? Are they really 2 distinct paths?
There is a wonderful story of a devoted man who spent a great deal of time each day in meditation and prayer. One day in his meditation he heard God's voice commanding him, "There is a large boulder in the field just opposite your house. I want you to push that boulder with all your might." So the man immediately rose and went into the field. He pushed and pushed, perspired and perspired, but the boulder didn't budge. Finally, exhausted under a sky long since dark, he returned home. The following morning before sunrise, eager to complete the Lord's bidding, he was out in the field again, pushing and pushing. Still the huge boulder moved not an inch. This went on for many days, and then the days became weeks and the weeks became months. Still the boulder was firm.
Finally, one day the man collapsed in despair. He called out loudly, his voice choking with tears, "My Lord, I have failed You. You gave me such a simple task and even that I was unable to fulfill. I am useless and worthless of Your favor. Please forgive me."
The Lord responded lovingly, "My child. I never asked you to move the boulder. I put it there, and thus I am well aware that it cannot be moved by human might. All I asked was that you push against it. In pushing against that boulder for the last several weeks, look at how your arms and legs have strengthened. Do you see the firm muscles where loose flesh had hung before? Look at how healthy your sallow skin tone has become. There is a shine on your skin now, strength in your step, firmness and flexibility in your body. This task was not about moving the rock. It was about molding you. If I wanted the rock moved I would have moved it Myself. What I wanted was for you to experience physical labor, for you to feel the sun shine upon your skin, for you to know the fatigue of a hard days' work and for you to see how much more potential your body has than what you had imagined."
Many times we mistake the meaning of seva. We think it is about the end, about the goal, about success. We see it as a task before us that we undertake with the feeling of generosity or devotion. However, seva is purely sadhana in an active form. Seva serves two specific purposes, aside from the actual benefit to the poor of the schools, hospitals, orphanages we may build. The first benefit is it teaches and trains us to see the Divine in all. Seva is not about "us" serving "them." It is not about "we" who are privileged giving to "them" who are disadvantaged. Seva is a practice of seeing them as us. Every religion in the world teaches us that we are all One. Hinduism says, "Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam" (the world is one family). Christianity says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." This does not mean that I love cookies so I should feed my neighbor cookies. In order to truly, deeply and fully love another being as myself I must see that person as myself and see myself in them. Otherwise, we can never love another as much or in the same way as we love ourselves. The only way is to see the other as self.
The word "yoga" literally means "union." It is a union of the self to the Divine. Whether one walks the path of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gyan Yoga or practices Mantra Yoga or Siddhi Yoga or Laya Yoga or Raja Yoga, it doesn't matter. The destination is the same. They are all "Yoga" or practices of union. In each of these practices we are striving to realize the Union of ourselves with the Divine, and the moment we have a glimpse of union with the Divine, immediately we realize a union with all of creation. God is not partial. God would never say, "I'll be One with you and you, but not with you." The scriptures implore us to realize that we are One with God, and they never say, "But only if your name is included at the end of this book." No, we are all One with the Divine, and if we are all One with God then, by definition, we are One with each other. If A=B and B=C, then by definition A=C. So, if I am One with God and you are One with God then you and I are One with each other.
That Oneness with the Divine and through the Divine with all of creation is the fruit of true sadhana. So when we serve others in seva, when we work for the benefit of the world, on any level, through any means, the goal is not about the particular fulfillment of a project. The goal is to see the Divine in all whom we are serving - whether a child, a woman, a patient, a cow or a river. When we see the Divine in those whom we are serving then of course we will work with sincerity, with focus, with attention, with dedication and with commitment. After all, we are serving God. We are serving the true Self.
The other important aspect of seva is how it shapes us. Like the man in the story, seva is what tunes us and tones us, not just the body - the mind, the thoughts, the ego. It is one thing to sit in meditation and feel egoless; it is another to serve in the world with no ego. It is one thing to find a state of peace and stillness of the mind sitting silently in a forest or temple. It is quite another to find that same state of peace and stillness in the midst of a major seva project. That is the goal. The joy, peace, oneness, and divine connection we feel in meditation and prayer is what we carry with us into the day of seva. Just as we see the Divine in the images in our temple, can we see the same Divine in everyone with whom we interact, in everyone and everything for whom and with whom we are serving?
So, seva and sadhana, karma yoga and bhakti yoga go hand in hand, and -- in the higher levels of awareness -- merge into one. After all, is loving someone any different from bringing him/her a cup of tea? Is loving someone any different from wiping his/her feverish brow? Of course not. There is no way to determine where love ends and service begins. When the love is true and pure, service is the most natural outcome. Hence, when the sadhana is true, seva is the natural extension of it. Conversely, through seva we attain a state of love and unity which deepens and enriches our sadhana. Slowly, slowly we realize they are simply two sides of the same coin, two streams meandering and merging together into the great Ocean.
The Time for a Spiritual Life is Now
There was once a disciple of a Guru who went to his Guru and said, "Guruji, I want to live a spiritual life. I want to live in the service of God. I want to go beyond the binding chains of this mundane, materialistic world. But, I feel that I am not quite ready. My desires for a family, for wealth and enjoyment are still too strong. Grant me some time to fulfill these wishes and then I will come to your holy feet."
So the Guru said, "No problem, my child. Go. Get married, have a family and earn wealth. In ten years I will come back for you. My blessings are with you."
With the blessings of his Guru, the man went out and quickly found a beautiful girl to marry. They had 3 beautiful children, and the man became financially successful.
After 10 years, there was a knock on the door of their home. The man's wife opened it to see a haggard-looking beggar standing on the doorstep. The beggar asked to see her husband. At first she started scolding the beggar, thinking that he was just there to beg for money. But, the husband realized that the beggar was his Guru in the disguise of a beggar, so he lovingly invited him inside.
"I have come to take you away from this world of illusions now that you have fulfilled your desire of having a wife, family and earnings. Come with me, my son, let me show you the way to God," the Guru said to his disciple.
But, the man looked at his Guru pitifully and he said, "Dear, Beloved, Guru. Yes, you are right. You have given me my 10 years ever so generously, and with your blessings I have prospered beyond my imagination. But, my children are very young and my wife is again with child. She would not be able to handle the burden of all of them alone. Allow me to stay another ten years until the children are old enough to care for themselves."
A true Guru will guide you to the path, show you the light and help when help is requested, but will never force a disciple -- against the disciple's will -- to follow any particular path. Thus, the man's Guru compassionately agreed, saying, "So be it, my son. Stay another 10 years until you feel that your mission is fulfilled."
Ten years later, the Guru returned to the home to find a large bull-dog out front guarding the house. Immediately he recognized his disciple in the dog and saw -- with his divine vision -- that the man had passed away several years prior due to a heart attack. Due to the man's intense attachment to his family and wealth, he had reincarnated as a guard dog. The Guru put his hand on the dog's head and said, "My child, now that you have regressed from a human to a dog due to your attachment to these worldly things, are you finally ready to come with me?" The dog licked the hand of his Guru lovingly and said, "My beloved Guruji. You are right that it is my own attachment which has driven me to take birth as a dog, but you see my children have many enemies who are envious of their wealth and power. These enemies are very dangerous to my children and I must stay here to protect them. However, I am sure that within a few years everything will sort itself out and they will be fine. Give me just seven more years to protect them, then I am yours."
The Guru left and returned 7 years later.
This time, there was no dog out front and the home was filled with grandchildren running around. The Guru closed his eyes and saw with his divine vision that his disciple had taken birth in the form of a cobra, wedged into the wall near the family safe to guard the money. He called the grandchildren of the house: "My children," he said. "In the wall to the right of your safe, there is a cobra curled up in a small nook. Go there and bring the cobra to me. Do not kill it. It will not harm you, I promise. But, just break its back with a stick and then bring it to me." The children were incredulous, but went to the wall where the old man had directed them. Amazed, they saw that -- just as the Guru had said -- a cobra was curled up in the wall. Following his orders, they broke the cobra's back and carried it outside to the Guru. The Guru thanked the children, threw the cobra over his neck and left.
As he walked away carrying the cobra over his neck, the Guru spoke to the cobra, injured and aching, "My child, I am sorry for hurting you, but there was no other way. Twenty seven years and three births ago you left to taste the material world of sensual pleasures. But the ways of Maya are so alluring and so subtle that they trap us instantly. You have wasted these lifetimes in the futile pursuit of material success and in attachment to people who also are only actors in the Cosmic Drama. My child, all here is Maya - Cosmic Illusion. It lures us into its trap, convincing us that it is real, permanent, everlasting and significant. But, in reality, the only thing which is real is Him, and the only true purpose of life is to get close to Him. These attachments merely divert our attention and focus away from the true purpose of life. I had no choice but to come to your rescue as I saw you sinking deeper and deeper into the deep clutches of Maya."
So frequently in life we think, "Just one more year" then I will cut back on my luxuries and cut back on my time at the office. "Just one more year" and I will dedicate more time to meditation and spiritual pursuits. "Just one more year" and then I will go to India, sit at my Guru's feet and delve into the divine depths of spirituality. "Just one more year" and then I will cut down on my sensual pleasures."....and on and on. But, that "one more year" never comes. Our intentions are good. We want to be more spiritual. We want to devote more time to spiritual pursuits. We want to spend less, need less and serve more. We want to be the master over our lust, anger and greed rather than vice versa. But, the power of Maya is stronger than the power of our will. Thus, we continue to find excuses for why we must continue to work 50 or 60 hour work-weeks, why we still have no time for meditation, why we can't squeeze a visit to the holy places of India into our year's planning, and why we continue to run after temporary sensual pursuits.
The only way to break free from the veil of illusion that Maya wraps around our minds is to surrender to God and beg Him to show us the true light. The only way to break free is to make AND STICK TO concrete vows of how we are going to be better people.. Rather than saying "I will find time to meditate" we must say "I will not leave for work without sitting in meditation and I will not sleep at night without doing my nightly introspection." Rather than saying, "I will try to come to India and visit holy places whenever I can," we must say "I will take my vacation this year in India and nowhere else." Rather than say, "I will try to cut back on my expenses so that my financial needs are less," we must say, "I will not buy another jacket or pair of shoes [or anything] until the ones that I have are broken, torn or no longer fit me." Rather than say, "I will try to overcome my anger, lust and greed," we must commit to having daily appointments with God in which we introspect on all the times we allowed ourselves to be overpowered by these emotions and we must pray for strength, DAILY, to be remain calm, peaceful and sattvic in our lives."
If we wait for the right time, that time will never come. The only time is now.
May God bless you all with the clarity of vision to realize that the external world is Maya and with the strength, fortitude and dedication to remove the veil and attain the Divine Truth.
May God bless you all.