Yoga and faith1Dear sisters and brothers, two weeks ago I came to Canada from the United States. The seeker in me desired to offer its dedicated service to the soul of Canada. Today I will be offering the last of my sixteen talks. It is said that morning shows the day, and in our case it has proved to be so. Right from our journey's start, by the Infinite Grace of the Almighty, we have been able to offer our dedicated service devotedly and soulfully to the soul of Canada. Tomorrow I shall be leaving for America. The physical in me will go back to the States, but my loving heart will remain here in Canada. The soul of Canada has given me ample opportunity to be of service to her, and for that, again and again, I wish to offer my deepest gratitude from the inmost recesses of my aspiring heart.
Here we are all seekers. In the life of a seeker, aspiration is of paramount importance. Now, aspiration is a most complicated word for those who wallow in the pleasures of ignorance. But aspiration is something natural, normal and spontaneous for those who want to simplify their life. How can we simplify our life and, at the same time, receive God's boundless Bounty so that ours can be a life of complete satisfaction? The answer lies in the acceptance of yoga.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means union, conscious union with God. Now, there is a vast difference between conscious union with God and unconscious union with God. The seeker who practices yoga becomes consciously aware of his union with God. He constantly feels that he is of God and for God. An unaspiring person, on the other hand, does not know or care to know who his Source is or what his role should be here on earth in God's cosmic Game.
Yoga is love. We love God because He is all Love. We love human beings because we feel that God abides in each human being, and that we and they are sailing in the same Boat, the Boat of Love. We all have a destination, and this destination is perfect Perfection.
In India there is a well-established path of renunciation. Aspirants who walk along this path say, Neti, neti — "Not this, not that." What do they want from life? They want something abiding, something sempiternal. From the finite they want to go to the Infinite; from the mortal they aspire to reach the Immortal. These seekers are not satisfied with what they have or what they see around them. They want to live in the flow of the ever-transcending Beyond.
Now I wish to tell you an amusing anecdote: there were once two friends, an atheist and a believer. One day the atheist said to the believer, "Brother, I am so surprised at your renunciation. This world is full of pleasure, full of comfort, but you have renounced all of it! Just for God you have renounced all these enjoyments. You are really great." The believer replied, "If I am great, you are infinitely greater than I am. God is infinite Love, infinite Joy, infinite Peace — not only for me, but for the entire world. Look at your capacity for renunciation! You have renounced all this merely for the enjoyment of a few fleeting earthly pleasures. So your renunciation is far greater than mine!"
We know that there are millions of people here on earth who do not believe in the existence of God. But they do believe in something; they believe in negation. They believe that there is no God, no God whatsoever. Yet even in that 'no' we feel the presence of the living God. In their negation of divine Truth and Light, of God Himself, we feel an affirmation of our divine Beloved, precisely because we see in their negation the seed of faith — even if, right now, it is faith in their denial.
Now, in addition to the atheist, we have another friend, the agnostic. Our agnostic friend doubts the existence of God. He asks us, "Where is the proof? Prove God's existence, and then I will have faith in God!" Let us just ask him one thing: "Do you believe in anything?" He is bound to reply, "Yes, I believe in my body, in my mind, in my vital." Then we shall say, "Stay with your belief. According to our wisdom, your belief in your body is your belief in God, your belief in your mind is your belief in God, your belief in your vital is your belief in God. It may not be my God, but it is your God. I am so glad that you have faith in something."
In this world, sooner or later everybody feels the necessity of sincerity. Today an individual may try to fool the world, but tomorrow something within him, some inner urge, will compel him to be sincere, precisely because inside him Divinity does exist. Now, a doubter has faith in his body-consciousness, but he doubts the existence of God. I tell the doubter to have faith in his body. But there will come a time when the body will tell him that it cannot constantly satisfy him. There are many things that he wants from life which the body cannot give him. Naturally he will someday go to somebody else who will be able to give him satisfaction. The body will tell him, "I have tried my best to satisfy you, but my capacity is limited. Now please go to the soul. There you are bound to see and feel satisfaction."
The soul is the conscious representative of God, but the soul itself is not God. A child has wealth, but the source of the child's wealth is his parents. God the Father and God the Mother are the soul's parents. The soul, being totally illumined, tells the seeker who was formerly a doubter but who, with the grace of his own aspiring body consciousness, came to discard his doubt, "Come, I will show you my Father and my Mother. They are God the Father and God the Mother."
Now, in the spiritual life, there is another way to approach a doubter besides telling him to believe in the body. We can say, "Instead of doubting, just give a chance to your heart. Right now you feel that the highest member of your inner family is the mind. If the mind asks you to do something, you immediately do it. On rare occasions you may revolt, but most of the time the mind is your lord. Now give your heart a chance. It is a higher member of your family."
In order to know the reality, we have to approach it in a specific manner. If God is the Reality that we would like to experience, then we need to approach Him through faith and love. If we can develop faith, then inside this faith, divinity is bound to loom large.
Faith is for those who have consciously, soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally begun to walk along the path of Truth. Faith is of paramount importance in the life of a seeker. A seeker needs faith in his own life of aspiration and he also needs implicit faith in God.
The mother tells the child, "This is your father." Immediately the child believes. The mother tells him, "This is the alphabet and this is the letter A." immediately the child believes. "This is fire," she explains. The little child does not argue with his mother. Then, when he grows up, he understands for himself who his father is, what the alphabet is and what fire is. In the spiritual life also, we start our journey with faith and we grow with faith.
When a man of faith completes his journey, he has a special realisation. In the beginning, before his God-realisation, he thinks that he has worked very hard. He realises that his personal effort and God's Grace go together, but he feels that his effort brought about ninety-nine per cent of the result, and God's Grace perhaps one per cent. But when he realises God, immediately he comes to know that God's Grace did ninety-nine per cent and his personal effort did one per cent. And then, because he knows what God's Compassion and infinite Bounty did for him as a seeker, he comes to realise that even the one per cent of his own aspiration and progress was the result of God's Grace. In his immediate family he sees that there are individuals who are still wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance. How is it that he is fully awakened? It is the Grace of God operating in and through him that has made him realise God while others are still fast asleep.
There is a false yoga and there is a true yoga. One reason that many people are reluctant to accept yoga is that they have misconceptions about it. False yoga will tell us we have to enter into the Himalayan caves in order to realise God. False yoga will tell us that God-realisation can be achieved overnight. False yoga will tell us that if we offer millions of dollars to a particular spiritual Master, he will grant us God-realisation immediately. False yoga will tell us that we have to renounce everything — everything that we have and everything that we are.
True yoga will tell us that we do not have to go to the Himalayan caves in order to realise God. We will be able to realise God wherever we are, for God is realised in the heart. The heart is not only the best place for God-realisation, but the place. True yoga will say that God-realisation cannot be attained in the twinkling of an eye; it is a long, arduous process. True yoga will say that we do not have to renounce anything; we have only to transform. If we have night within us, we shall transform this night into Light. Many people are frightened to death when the idea of renunciation enters into their mind. But I wish to say that the people who are afraid of renunciation are bound to discover one day that there is no such thing as renunciation; there is only the transformation of ignorance into knowledge, of darkness into light, of earthbound frustration into Heaven-free Delight.
In order to get a Master's degree, which gives us only earthly knowledge, earthly wisdom, we have to study right from childhood for perhaps twenty years. Now, God-realisation is also a subject. When we realise God, what we achieve is Peace, Light and Bliss in boundless measure in our inner being. At that time, we are not dealing with limited knowledge, but with Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Naturally it will take us many years, many incarnations to reach this supreme Goal.
When God wants to expedite our progress, He becomes the ever-compassionate Father and brings into our life a spiritual Master. When we first hear of a spiritual Master, immediately our human ego comes to the fore. "Why do I need a teacher?" it asks. "Can I not be my own teacher?" Now, this ego is ignorance. To learn something we always need a teacher. We can go to a bookstore and buy the texts that are studied in school, and we can study at home alone. But when we read these books without the help of a teacher, we are at times confused. We may feel that what we are learning is untrue or incorrect. So we go to a teacher for expert help and proper guidance. He convinces us of the truth of what we learn. In the spiritual life also, a teacher is of paramount importance. It is true that the first person on earth who realised God had no human guru. But we know that from time immemorial, all spiritual Masters have taken help from their predecessors.
Today we are students, but we will not remain students forever; someday we ourselves will be teachers. We shall realise the Truth as our Master has already done. If we are wise, we want to expedite our spiritual journey. We feel that time is a great factor. If we can achieve something today, we shall not wait for tomorrow. To go from New York to Canada, I chose to travel by airplane rather than car, because the airplane is much faster. After an hour's flight, I touched down on Canadian soil. Right after my arrival I started my journey, and I have been able to serve the Canadians according to my capacity in many cities during my two-week stay. In the spiritual life, we feel that speed is of tremendous importance.
The first and foremost goal for us right now is the realisation of Truth. Let us forget about the word 'God.' It often creates tremendous problems for us. But if we are very sincere, we cry for Truth. There is nobody who will deny the existence of Truth. We want to be sincere, and the proof of our sincerity is that we want to see the face of Truth. First we see the face of Truth, then we try to reveal the face of Truth and finally we try to manifest the face of Truth. The sooner we can attain to this Truth, the better, for the realisation of Truth is not the end of our spiritual journey. Revelation is necessary and manifestation is necessary. Only when we can manifest the Truth will satisfaction dawn in our life.
Madhuman me parayanam
"Sweet be my departure from home. Sweet be my return."
MMT 17. York University, Ross Building, Toronto, Ontario, 29 March 1974↩