The incarnation of golden opportunityLet me say something about reincarnation. I do hope all of you believe in reincarnation — or perhaps it is just a word for some of you. Whether I was a lion in my last animal incarnation, or whether I was a great spiritual figure in my previous human incarnation, the past is dust. Who we were, God knows. But we have to become something in the future. In my case, in all sincerity and with utmost authenticity, I can say that I will have no more incarnations. This is the very end of my earthly sojourn. But, unfortunately or fortunately, there is nobody here who will not take any more incarnations. Everybody has to come back. Everybody will have to reincarnate on earth to work either for God or for himself. All of you will definitely have to take many, many incarnations before you realise God, whether you want to or not. That is not up to you.
You are seeing that this God-realised soul is suffering so much in the hands of humanity. Perhaps you will say, "Who wants God-realisation? Guru is suffering so much!" True, I am suffering; but God will not allow anybody to remain unrealised.
Now the question is, how much opportunity can you get in one incarnation to make progress? All the spiritual Masters have said that if you get a God-realised soul as your spiritual Master in any human incarnation, then you get the utmost opportunity — not only to run the fastest in that incarnation, but also to reduce the number of your future incarnations.
If you can please your Master in every sphere of your life, then your future incarnations will be smoother, more illumining and more fulfilling. If you would have taken fifty, sixty or even two hundred more incarnations to realise God, you can do it perhaps in ten, twenty or thirty incarnations. But, rest assured, there is nobody here who can say, "I will not take any more incarnations" or "I do not care for God-realisation; I do not need God." God will not allow anybody to remain unrealised. You have to come back again and again and again.
For my disciples I wish to say that, if in this incarnation you are not taking advantage of your association with me, if you are not properly utilising your inner and outer connection with me, then you are making a Himalayan mistake. Each time you come back to earth, you will see how difficult it is to make progress. It is impossible to fathom the suffering that each human being goes through on earth. You feel that your suffering is unbearable, but you have no idea how much more those who are not following any spiritual path suffer. You are fortunate in that you are following the spiritual life.
Eventually each and every person must enter into the spiritual life. It does not have to be a path, as such. As my disciples, you have a path; but many other spiritual seekers and Masters of the highest order did not follow any particular path. Lord Buddha and Sri Krishna did not follow a path. They realised God by virtue of their own aspiration and meditation.
When you follow a spiritual Master, however, you have an added advantage. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that a cow yields milk, and this milk is not in the tail or the nose or the ear of the cow. There is a special place. When you press the udder, then you get milk. Similarly, when the spiritual Master comes, it is from the Master's third eye or from his heart that you can get illumination. The third eye is difficult to see, but the heart you can see and feel.
I am coming back to the subject of future incarnations. Each incarnation gives us experiences. You can call them healthy or unhealthy, but these experiences are leading us to a special goal. Some human beings have acquired spiritual wealth — peace, light and bliss — from their previous incarnations. From their former aspiration, they have received some divine qualities. Definitely, definitely, God will give them back these divine qualities when they start their journey again. And then He will tell them to increase and increase their divine qualities. Again, there are millions of people on earth who will be starting their new incarnation, new life, without any divine peace, divine light or divine bliss.
When you join a spiritual path, you have so many opportunities to make progress. It is like entering into a most beautiful garden. Thousands of flowers are there and each one has fragrance and beauty. You can pluck whichever flower gives you joy. You can have many inner experiences and collect the fragrance inside your heart, inside your inner life. And you can bring back these experiences each time you take incarnation.
The most important thing for those people who are following a spiritual path is how seriously they take their spiritual life, how much they value their spiritual life, how much they want to keep their inner connection with their Inner Pilot, with the Supreme.
It may happen, and it is happening, that some of my disciples took the spiritual life far more seriously when they first joined the path. If the connection that they established with the Supreme when they first took the spiritual life seriously has diminished, if the same spirit is not there, if the same eagerness is not there, if the same willingness, love, devotion and surrender are not there, then naturally their feeling for the inner life will not be there. If this connection or oneness or depth is no longer there, if the heart's mounting cry is no longer there or the flame is almost extinguished, then no matter what happens, no matter how many years they spend on the path, how can they ever hope that in their future incarnations they will be able to lead a spiritual life from the very beginning? No, it is just their wishful thinking.
When you are in the boat, when you are on the path, the question is whether you want to make the fastest progress or you want to go at the speed of an Indian bullock cart. You can do either. Once you enter Eternity's marathon in the inner life, you can stop, you can even lie down, but you cannot leave the race. Once you start, you have to finish. Even if you do not enter the race today, you have to start at some time in the future. There will be endless marathons, and you will have to participate. Today you may say, "I am not ready. I do not care for it." But tomorrow or the day after tomorrow you will be compelled to enter into this inner race, inner marathon. Again, some runners run the fastest, while others do not. But still, these runners go on and slowly, steadily, they have to reach their destination.
Many spiritual Masters, when they realise God, promise that they are going to come back to earth, but I assure you, among the spiritual Masters of the highest order, nobody has come back and nobody will come back. Their emanation or something like that may come, but the realised souls of the highest order do not come back. Once Sri Ramakrishna pointed out a certain place on the map and said he would come back there. That place happened to be Russia. Has he taken birth in Russia? No, he has not.
I am going off the track, so let me come back to the subject. This incarnation is the incarnation of golden opportunity. Revive your aspiration! Revive your dedication! Revive, revive everything! Follow the path of love, devotion, surrender and oneness. If these divine qualities are deserting you, or if you are deliberately not valuing them, or if you feel that there is nothing in the spiritual life, then you can go and try the other life; we call it the outer life. You will see that the outer life is infinitely, infinitely more difficult. While you are on the path, the opportunities that you can get from your aspiration, dedication, love, devotion and surrender, and through your regular spiritual discipline, you are not going to get if you do not follow the spiritual life.
Again, just because you have been leading a spiritual life for many years does not mean that you can now go in your own way — no! The inner connection is of supreme importance. By virtue of your inner connection — tight, tighter, tightest — you make the fastest progress. The moment you see that the inner connection is slackening, if you see that it is not as strong as before, rest assured that you are going far, farther, farthest from your own spiritual life, which is the real life. You may think that you will be happy in the outer life, but you have to know that you are fooling yourself.
From the real spiritual life, nobody can escape forever. You can escape for ten years, twenty years, thirty years, forty years. But God will compel you once again to accept the spiritual life either in this incarnation or in a future incarnation, because without the spiritual life, nobody will be able to realise God. In the end, there will not be a single human being who will say, "I do not want God-realisation." You may now say that you do not want to realise God, but you will be compelled, you will be compelled. By whom? By God Himself. If your aspiration has decreased, that does not mean that God will allow you to remain in the outer life indefinitely and do anything you like. He may allow you for a short time, but He will one day pull the string so hard! Why do you want to wait to be compelled to do something, if you know that it is something good — not only for yourself, but for the entire humanity?
In the spiritual life, the hour comes and goes. Once you misuse the hour, God's Hour, the next time the hour comes, it becomes more strict. It is like the airport. Before the final call to board the plane, there will be three or four announcements. But when the final call comes, if you do not run and enter into the plane, the plane is not going to wait. You will miss your flight, and who knows when you will get another one. In the spiritual life, it is exactly the same. You want to go from one plane of consciousness to another. You are being called. If you do not take advantage of the opportunity now, if you do not pay any attention when you are called to take the flight, then you become the loser.
Each time we run a marathon, we take an oath that we will never run another one. Then, the following day, what happens? We go out for practice! During the race, everywhere our body is full of pain, pain, pain; but the next day we are inspired to train for the marathon again. The inner marathon does not have fixed mileage. It does not end after twenty-six miles. The inner race is, fortunately or unfortunately, a very, very long journey. If you do not complete your outer marathon, no harm, although some people may laugh at you. Your colleagues may say, "He is useless; he could not complete it." Or perhaps they will sympathise with you. Then it is up to you whether you wish to try again. But the inner marathon you have to accept. Somebody may say, "Oh, I do not have to run this inner marathon." But I wish to tell you that the hour will come.
Again, there are some people who have started the inner marathon and then, for some reason, they think they can stop. But in this marathon you cannot quit altogether. For a few days, a few months, a few years or even a few incarnations perhaps you can enjoy rest, but then you will be compelled to start again. Unfortunately, each time you become relaxed in your aspiration, in your eagerness, readiness and willingness, you are only making it more difficult for yourself. If a top sprinter wallows in the pleasures of idleness, then when he goes back to the track it becomes much more difficult for him to bring back his own standard. If today a champion athlete gives up running, who cares? He may say, "I have done enough." But in the inner life, a spiritual seeker will not be able to stop running. Once he has started the inner race, he will not be able to give up. He will run until the race is won. Here, to win means to realise God.
Your eagerness to go to the goal is of supreme necessity. Each individual has to remember that the race is compulsory, but those who are wise and know they have to run will say, "The sooner the better!" Others may feel that their time has not yet come, so they are lucky.
In a family, let us say that there is a younger brother and an older brother. When the little brother sees his older brother going to school, he may say, "I want to be as great and as wise as my older brother. Now I also have to go to school." His older brother started perhaps at the age of seven, and he is eager to start at the age of four. Look how wise he is! In the spiritual life also, we see that some saints, some spiritual Masters and some Yogis are like older brothers. If we are wise, we know that their life we also shall have to accept, not in terms of their garments or their outer appearance, but in terms of their heart's inner cry.
In the outer marathon, once you run twenty-six miles, it is over. Then, after a long time, perhaps three months or six years, you may run another marathon. But in the spiritual life, it is not like that. Once you reach a certain goal, it is the beginning of the journey to another goal, a higher goal. If you conquer a little weakness — some insecurity, jealousy, impurity or lower vital problems — another one comes. But gradually, gradually, no matter how strong the weakness is, you can conquer it.