Workshop on Spirituality - Part 2
Let us sing the great mantra
of the Bible. Unfortunately, most of you who have been raised in
the Christian faith will not be familiar with it; but you might
like to learn it. It's very beautiful and it's very powerful. It
can be likened to one of the great Vedic sayings that leads to the
realization of the truth:
Shemaa Yisroel Adaunoi Elohenu Adaunoi
2 Creation and Five Elements
If you don't know the shemaa,
you can't be blamed for wanting to write it down and follow it from
the paper. But, a mantra should not be read. It should properly be
heard and not seen. You see, in the cosmic order of things as given
by Swami, first came the vibration or sound. And out of that sound
came the ether, or space and time. Then out of the ether came touch,
and out of the touch came the air. Air has the qualities of both sound
and touch. Then came form. And out of form came fire. Fire has the
three qualitites of sound, touch and form. Out of the fire came the
taste. And out of the taste came the water. Finally, out of the water
came smell. And out of smell came the densest of the elements, earth,
which has all the five qualities. You see, it is always the subtle
that comes first and then the gross. And you also see how the senses
of perception are related to the five elements. They are the subtle
aspects of the five elements. When Swami speaks of the five elements,
he refers to both the gross elements and the subtle or fine aspects
of the elements.
Why is this important? Why should we know this?
Because Swami makes a big point of the fact that in this universe
all you will ever find are the five elements. And when he speaks of
the five elements, it includes these subtle five elements that are
perceived, as well as the gross elements. The subtle is what is actually
sensed by the sensory system, so we are speaking of something that
is an experience, something that is subjective. The whole of Vedanta
ultimately is something that is subjective, not objective.
Now, back to the statement that mantras should be
heard. When they are done correctly they are of the essence of pure
vibration, the finest of the fine. Hence, they have incredible potency.
The subtle is always more powerful than the gross, although this is
not immediately apparent because of the time required for the subtle
to work. For example, energy which is more subtle, transforms matter,
which is denser. Information, such as is contained in a blueprint
or a directive, and which is still more subtle, organizes both energy
and matter. Consciousness is subtler still, and produces information.
So, with respect to the subtle senses, the most subtle and therefore
the most potent is the pure vibration
Now, if you are holding a
piece of paper, then you are involving the touch sensation. If you
are looking at it, then you are involved in seeing the sensation of
form. So this is something much grosser than pure sound involving
only the perception of vibration. Therefore, something that is read
is grosser and denser than something that is only heard. That is why
in the Indian tradition, a mantra is never read. You hear it, and
pass it on. Of course, we are so visual that we have to see it. But
once we get a little bit of an idea of how it is pronounced, then
it is best to put the paper aside. It is the same in devotional singing.
Swami doesn't like us to sing our songs to God from a piece of paper
or a song book. He says that is not devotion, that is just 'deep ocean',
referring to the ocean of worldly life. It is a written thing, no
longer something from the heart but of the mind.
One Christmas Swami told me to prepare a talk for
the Christmas function, to be given just before Swami's discourse.
He told me to speak on Jesus. I protested, "Swami, I don't know
anything about Jesus. I'm not Christian." Swami asked, "What
are you?" I told him, "I don't regularly observe any Western
religious practice, but I was brought up as a Jew." Immediately
Swami replied, "Jesus was also a Jew. You give a talk on Jesus."
That was that. But I hadn't even read the New Testament. I didn't
know anything about Jesus. I scurried around to get my hands on everything
I could find on Jesus. I read the Bible, I spoke to ministers, priests
and lay Christians who were visiting the ashram. I read all of Swami's
Christmas talks of years past. I meditated on Jesus. Pretty soon I
felt like an expert on the life and teachings of Jesus.
For ten days prior to Christmas, everyday on the
veranda, he would ask me, "Are you ready?" And I would say,
"No, Swamiji, I'm not yet ready." Then two days beforehand
he asked, "Are you ready?" And I said, "Yes, Swami."
And he asked, "How long will you take?" I said, "Twenty
to thirty minutes." "Yes", he said, "That is good
- do it in twenty minutes."
On the day before Christmas, I was a little anxious.
I had no information when in the program I would speak and where the
function would be held. I asked: "Swami, what is the Christmas
program?" He said: "Christmas program? You dance!"
As it turned out the function for that particular Christmas was to
be held in the new boys' hostel at Prashanthi Nilayam, which had not
previously been used. Swami was inaugurating the hostel that day.
There was not enough room there for both the ladies and the gents,
so only ladies were permitted in. The men had to stay outside. So
I came there to give the talk and they would not let me in. "But
I am supposed to be speaking on the program." "Sorry, Sir,
we don't have any direction from Swami."
When Swami came, he walked by me outside without apparently noticing
me waiting there. He went in with the governor and that seemed like
the end of it for me. But then, five minutes later he called for me
and they found me, a little bedraggled in the big crowd outside. When
I came in he called me over and said to me: "Make it short...
only ten minutes!" And then just before I was to speak, he said
something to the boys and one of them whispered to me: "Sir,
Bhagavan says, not more than five minutes. Only five minutes; you
speak just before the governor."
my talk of twenty to thirty minutes had to be condensed into five
minutes. I had a few little pieces of paper with some notes on them.
In five minutes a whole message had to come, and so I read it out
very quickly, but with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I probably
took closer to ten minutes, and got a few gentle kicks under the lectern
from the boys, to remind me of the time. But it seems a power came
into me and I must have sounded like an old time preacher shouting
out his sermon. The people who could not see that I had a piece of
paper were very impressed afterwards.
That evening there was a dinner with Swami and one
of the senior devotees said to Swami: "Drucker gave a very good
talk!" Swami wrinkled his nose, shook his head in a negative
way, and said something in Telugu. He did not appear to be very pleased.
Later I asked: "What did he say?" And I was told he said:
"It was a just a written thing!" He said; "You people
listen to words, but the divinity listens only to what comes from
the heart. When speech comes from a pure heart I am pleased, but not
when it is words coming from paper. Paper is not good."
So we have these papers because we are so used to
that. We need these papers, but once we have the words down in our
hearts, even if just a little bit, then it's best to throw away the
paper. Swami does not like tape recorders, either. He says: "Turn
on the tape recorder in your heart. Its batteries or tape will never