Workshop on Spirituality - Part 2
24 Always Be Ready
When we first come to him, we
are full of desires. Swami gives us what we want so that we will
want what he has to give us. And he will give us all kinds of things
and we feel so wonderful to receive his gifts. But Swami says, "What
I want you to want is the hand and not what's in the hand. I want
you to want the giver, not the gift; the creator, not the creation."
When we first come to Swami, we are like little
children and he fondles us like newly arrived babies. But when we
grow up he doesn't give us the same attention. More likely than
not, he ignores us on the outside but he reveals himself to us on
the inside. And there he is full of surprises. If I had the time
I would give you some personal examples. But, the gist is that you
must always be ready for anything. He says, "My grace comes
like a flash. When you least expect, I act. You must always be ready!"
'Always be ready' means to constantly perceive his presence within
and listen for his direction. Let him make all the decisions. We
must have the conviction that he is always with us. He can never
separate himself from us. He is our truth. He is our reality. He
is who we really are.
But, externally also, he is the outer enactment
of our inner truth. We become more loving because we see him as
the embodiment of our own true nature, which is love. We become
less selfish and more selfless, because we see him as the manifestation
of the selfless self. We serve others because he is our best example.
He is a servant to his devotees, a servant of his servants. We work
at coordinating words, thoughts and deeds, or head, heart and hands,
and let go of desires, because we see that is the secret of his
peacefulness and joy. Once we are free of conflicts we ride the
waves instead of geting knocked over by them.
25 Ego Destruction
Then the ego is ready to be
destroyed. Then we are ready for the crucifixion. Now he gives us
not what is pleasant, but what is good, what will move us up. One
time a lady came to me with an infection in her foot and I wanted
to ask Swami if I should treat her, since Swami had previously told
me to stop doing treatments. When I referred her to various doctors
in the ashram, she kept coming back to me, insisting that I do something
for her. So I asked Swami and he said: "Is she ready for dying?"
I said, "No, Swami, it is just an infection of the foot."
He said, "Cut it off and throw it in the fire."
'Cut it off and throw it into the fire!' It is just
a metaphor, but are we ready for that? That is Swami wielding the
scalpel on the operating table. Cut the ego and throw it in the fire.
In one of his talks he said: "For so many years it has been all
sweetness and gentle peruasion, but from now on, out of my compassion,
I will put you on the table and operate." If we are ready for
that, if our level of surrender has reached that point and we welcome
whatever is the Lord's wish, then he will do. He will give us the
three zeroes, his highest grace. That is when pain is gain.
Do you know what the three zeroes are? The three
zeroes are when he destroys our attachment to our family and our relations.
That's one zero. Then he destroys our reputation and every attachment
we have left in the world. That's the second zero. Then he deprives
us of food, clothing, shelter, all the necessities of life and may
even take away our health. That is the third zero. Then if we still
turn towards the Lord, he fills us with himself, which means the awareness
of our own true self. Are we ready for those three zeroes? No! Most
of us are not ready. And if we are not ready, then he gives us what
is appropriate at the level at which we are ready. But he will nevertheless
sow the seeds so that we come into a state of preparation for his
highest grace. Because, ultimately, the ego has to go! It has to be
nailed to the cross. That won't be sweet if we are holding on. But
it has to happen and we must make ourselves ready.
Well, I haven't really answered
the question that was asked. Let me just say, that as long as we still
have body consciousness, Swami will talk to us about this world and
the things we need to do to bring love and order into it. And that
must start with bringing love and order into our own lives and then
into our immediate surroundings and community. We have to develop
the virtues that please him. Ultimately, everything that Swami teaches
as far as the path in the world is concerned, boils down to the development
of virtues, to allow our goodness to flow, to allow our divine nature
to express itself.
This is spoken of in the Gita, particularly in the
verses which give the qualities of the ideal devotee who is very dear
to God. Swami told us to learn these verses from the 12th chapter
of the Gita. They start with "have no hatred towards any being."
But "no hatred" is not enough. So the verse goes on to say,
you must also be friendly, be positively friendly. Even that is not
enough. Have compassion towards all beings. That is pure love, selfless
love. "Have no ego, no I-ness, no my-ness." Then, later,
in the next verse he says: 'Offer me your mind and your buddhi. Give
it all to me. Then you are very dear to me.' In a following verse
he"says: "Offer me all your beginnings," meaning "offer
me your sense of doership." We have to think: "It is not
I who am doing. It is you, Lord, who are doing everything. It is You
who makes me walk and talk and think and act as I do." When we
know that and live that, then the ego is on its way out. And then,
automatically, the world gets better also.