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Chapter 3 / parts 24 - 28

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.

26  Virtues 

   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.

27  Steps on the Spiritual Path

   To wrap all this up, let's review the steps on the spiritual path once again. We start by converting all our ordinary actions, in which we are interested in our own benefit, into good actions, where we are interested in the benefit of others. Then we relinquish any attachment to the results of these actions. We offer the fruits of our actions to the Lord. We see everything as his doing and let him assign the rewards as he sees fit. If the results turn out good, wonderful! If they don't turn out good, no blame; we have done our best. We have done everything as prompted by the inner guide. And we do everything we do to the limits of our human capacity for excellence and perfection, with full concentration, with full compassion, but with total indifference to the results; we leave the results to him.

   "Indifference to the results..." therein lies the razor's edge that we balance on. We do everything to our fullest ability, and yet, we remain totally unconcerned about how it turns out. The way to do that is to offer it all to the Lord. . Do you know the prayer to be said before meals taken from the Gita? It starts with "the offering is God, everything is offered to God by God in the fire that is God." So, we let him manage the world. We let him take care of the results. We do our best and offer it to him. That verse which we use as a prayer before food concludes by saying that he who works only for God becomes God; he fills himself with God and therefore realizes God, for in truth, everything is God.

   Every time we eat we make that offering but for every action that we undertake we can also make that offering. When all our actions are an offering to the Lord, our actions are no longer worldly actions. Then the Lord is involved in our actions and work becomes worship. It becomes a means for union with the divine. Then our actions and our whole lives will have been elevated, and become sanctified. And so, we fill our lives, our day-to-day movements, with him. Everything we do becomes spiritualized because the Lord is involved in our thoughts, in our actions and in our words. We offer everything to him.

   Well, when we are conscious like that of the Lord, in everything that we do, then we begin to see the Lord everywhere. The Lord becomes part of our ongoing moment to moment awareness. And that just naturally turns into devotion. Then, just like the flower turns into the bud and the bud turns into the fruit, that devotion becomes wisdom and all there is, is the Lord. Then for us, wherever we turn we see only the Lord.

   In the Upanishads there is a verse which says "God is real, the world is not real." It is intended to emphasize the truth that God alone is real. Swami amended this by adding: "but the world itself is really God." As long as you see the world as world then it is not real. The world will always be a mixture of the three different qualities, the inert, the active and the serene. In a bathroom there will always be a fresh water tap and a drainage pipe alongside each other. The world is like that. We can hope for a Golden Age, but it can only come inside us when we change our outlook. It is not likely to come outside in this materialistic age. See the world not as world but as God, and you have your Golden Age.

28  Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Name and Form  

   Swami says that everything we perceive or conceive, everything that we can define or talk about is just name and form. But name and form are just two of the five qualities that make up the totality. Name and form make up the changing external world, but there is also the unchanging, divine basis for this world of change, and that can be spoken of in terms of three aspects: existence, awareness and bliss. Therefore, in truth, everything is existence, awareness, bliss, name and form. Everything exists, it has its unchanging truth; everything shines, it has its own effulgence; everything is pleasing, it has its divine purpose; and then it also has a name and a form, which go on changing like waves on the ocean. But the existence,

awareness, bliss, which is the underlying essence, never changes. That is the divinity.
   Renunciation, Swami says, truly is not giving up the things of the world but seeing the divinity in everything. It alone is the basis of everything. Initially, we have to give up some things, we have to let go; but eventually, what renunciation really means is seeing the divinity in everything we see, and enjoying it - experiencing it everywhere as the existence, awareness, bliss that is the basis on which all these changing names and forms rest. That inner view is the direction that Swami is turning us towards, more and more since his 60th birthday. So, wherever we look, we must see the divinity. The divinity is beauty. Whenever we see something beautiful, we know that God is there. And that gives great joy.

   When I first came back from India to America, I was just astounded by the freeways, what you call Autobahnen here, the super highways - how beautiful they were - the beautiful plantings along the way. Coming from India, you know we have that one road leading to Prashanti Nilayam. And for the last 15 years, it's been all chopped up and they have worked on it here and there but it is still in a mess. But how beautiful these freeways are, and how beautifully landscaped they are. And the people's cars, how clean they keep them. Beautiful! How much care people put into it. That is God! I mean these are very mundane things, very prosaic things, but if we put on our love glasses, our beauty glasses, we see everything as beautiful.

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