The first question that a devotee
asked was: "Swami, what is the best way to relate to the world?"
Swami said: "Do not think about the world. Do not spend time thinking
about the world or about your relationships to individuals. They are all
impermanent. They will not last. Pay attention to that which lasts, that
which is permanent. All things involving the world or relationships have
to do only with the body. The body is like a water bubble. The mind is
like a mad monkey. Do not follow either the body or the mind. Follow the
conscience. It is above the mind. It is permanent. It is the voice of
God. The voice of unchanging truth inside."
So, right from the beginning in this interview, Swami
took us above the level of body and worldly consciousness. When I first
came to Swami I asked him the same thing. At that time, I was very much
concerned about the condition of the world. Perhaps I should just say
a little bit about my own background. At one time I was involved in the
technical management of nuclear weapons, particularly the ballistic missile
programs in the U.S. arsenal. Temperamentally I was not suited for that
work, and so I found myself in and out of hospitals with ulcers. Finally
I realized that I was not supposed to be doing that. I went into natural
healing. I changed my work completely and left my technical training behind.
But I never forgot that within 45 minutes at any time, day or night, this
world could be reduced to ashes. That always pressed on my heart.
When I finally went to Swami, one of the first things
I asked him was: "Swami, what about this world? What do we do about
this world?" And Swami answered: "The world is not your business.
It is God's business. You think of God and let God take care of the world."
A burden fell off my shoulder.And
then, three years ago Swami said: "Now the time has come for Swamiji
to enter the hearts of world leaders and turn them towards peace."
Before that it was not time for peace. Everything has a time. It is a
grand drama which he is enacting. We have front-row seats to watch this
drama, and, at the same time, we are also in the drama. He said: "The
time has come for world leaders to turn towards peace and the Russians
will come first. Don't call them Communists; call them Come-you-next."
That is when Gorbachev came into the picture.
Of course, Swami did not say that we should not work
for peace. But here he was teaching a most important lesson. Follow the
voice of the divinity inside. Follow the conscience. If he says from within:
"Go do!" Then you do. But listen to that inner voice.
Then the devotee asked: "Swami,
how do we tell the voice of conscience from the other voices?" Swami
answered: "Where there are many voices you can call it conscious
but not conscience. Conscious relates to the little self. It deals with
the mind. In that there will be many voices and differences. But conscience
is always only one. It is unchanging. You should understand these different
And then he gave these three terms: conscious, conscience,
and consciousness. They mean three different things. All the various phenomena,
everything pertaining to the world can be called conscious. The supreme
spirit, the highest awareness is pure consciousness. It is the one omnipresent
reality. From it comes the conscience.
Out of pure consciousness comes the conscience, which is the voice of
truth inside. Conscience is the soul, the spark of the divine. It is the
divinity that is always residing within. On the spiritual path we go from
the worldly level to the divinity which is in our heart, that is from
the conscious to the conscience, and then to the ultimate reality - the
consciousness. Conscious to conscience to consciousness are the three
stages of spiritual life. "This is the path that Jesus showed, and
this is also your path," Swami said.
Qualified Dualism, Non-dualism
And then he explained it further.
He said: "At the beginning you are aware only of the physical relationship.
You say, 'I am a devotee. I am an instrument, a messenger, a servant.'
This is the stage of dualism. Between the messenger and God there is a
vast difference. It is the master-servant relationship, where God is the
master and you are the servant. It is the initial stage of devotion, the
beginning stage." Many of us are in that stage. And many of us prefer
to remain in that stage. It is like the ant that delights in the mountain
of sugar. It does not want to become the sugar. It likes to taste the
sugar. But what happens when the sugar disappears? Swami says you have
to move on. Don't remain stuck at the lower stages. Remember, he was speaking
to Westerners. Many of us have gone through all these stages of ritual
worship. We have done that in other lives. We are ready for this highest
So, listen to the voice of conscience. When the voice
says: "Move on!" Then move on! It is very appropriate that we
are sitting here without a picture of Swami, with just a light. Swami
told some people from Hamburg: "Get all the pictures out of your
room." Move on! Those who are ready to move on, move on! Do not remain
stuck at the lower stages. Now he will speak about that.
"At the beginnning you are a devotee, a messenger.
This is the initial stage. After that you speak of an inner, a subtle
relationship. You say: 'I am a spark of the divine. God is my father.
I am a child of God.' In the beginning you say to God: 'O God, you are
very dear to me.' But now God says to you: 'You, my child, are very dear
to me. You are always near and dear.' Now you are in a family relationship
with God. In this stage you are the child of God, or the son of God. Here
you no longer have an outer relationship but an inner one. This is the
second stage on the spiritual path which is not yet completely non-dual
but not dual either.
you realise that there is only the one. Now you feel: 'I and God are completely
inseparable. We are the one spirit.'" Swami said that this is the
true relationship, the permanent relationship. Swami said that Jesus did
not have that full realization until he was on the cross. On the cross
Jesus still felt some trace of resentment towards the soldiers who were
brutalizing him. Then he heard the voice of God telling him, "All
are one, my dear son. Be alike to everyone." At that point the last
vestige of separation dropped off and Jesus declared, "I and my Father
are one." He had realized the ultimate truth of the oneness of the
self and God. This is the stage of complete non-dualism.
Swami continued: "In that there is no difference
between you and God. But then there never was a difference. It was always
your imagination. The sense of difference was in your mind. There is no
separate I or God which has become one. Always there was just the One
without a second. At that point you can only say: 'I am I' or simply:
'I am.' At that final stage you would not even say: 'I am God', because
that still has some duality in it. At that point there is only the pure
"That is the highest truth. To reach that ultimate
state, you must not allow yourself to ever think that you and God are
separate. Think always: 'God is with me. He is inside me. He is around
me. He is above me. All there is, is God. I, myself, am God. I am the
infinite. I am the eternal. I am not two. I am one, only one; there is
no one else besides me. I and God are
"In order to realize this
unity, the first step is to develop self-confidence." You may remember
Swami sometimes speaks of this. He says the foundation is self-confidence,
the walls are self-satisfaction, the roof is self-sacrifice. Then you
can move in and occupy this house of self-realization. These are the steps.
He says before faith in God has any meaning, you must have faith in yourself.
First comes self-confidence. All the emotional feelings you have towards
God will not have any deep significance until you have self-confidence.
Why is that?
Well, you may feel: "I am a sinner. I am weak.
I am not a good person. I am so troubled. I am depressed." But do
you remember the second of the Ten Commandments? It says you should not
use the name of God in vain, meaning that you should not speak of God
improperly. Now, 'I am' is the name of God. If you say: "I am a sinner"
How can that be? How can God be a sinner? Or: "I am no good!"
How can God be no good? He said to Moses: "'I am' is my name."
Swami has also said the same thing. Many times he has declared, "The
'I' you use refers to the divinity." Everytime we say "I am",
that "I am" is God. If I say: "I am Drucker", that
'Drucker' is some temporary word that comes and goes. It is a name and
form, but preceding it and serving as its basis is the divinity, the unchanging
'I am'. So we must not use the name of God in vain. Every time we say
'I am', it must only be connected with godly qualities. That is the meaning
of self-confidence; it is confidence in the indwelling divinity.
This is very important. Whether we know it or not, this
is what has taken us to Swami. This is what has taken us to India. It
is not just some dissatisfaction that we may have with the religion in
which we were brought up. Perhaps that religion has lost some of its meaning
for us. Many Christians feel that. Many religious people have some concern
about the way in which their religion has developed. Well then, we can
work to affect some reform from within the religion or join a new movement
that is more congenial to our needs. But why would we want to depart from
our Western heritage to embrace a very different Eastern tradition? Why
would we go to India, a country that appears so strange and different?
What is it that coming there gives us, that we don't have here?
Why would someone like myself spend ten years there?
It is this teaching - that the individual self we claim for ourselves
is in truth the universal. That is what is both unique and compelling
about the perennial wisdom of the East. And it is that which brings us
to India, because our long-hidden inner truth cries out 'Yes!' when we
hear the Vedantic proclamation that In essence, we are God. This non-dualistic
revelation of the oneness of the self with God is the fulfillment of every
religion. Yet, we can find hints of this in all our major religions.