Inspiration, aspiration and realisationMcGill University; Montreal, Quebec, Canada
9 October 1970
What do we mean when we say 'inspiration', 'aspiration' and 'realisation'? Inspiration is the beginning of our spiritual journey; aspiration is the middle of our spiritual journey; and realisation is the end of our spiritual journey. When we are inspired, we wish to see the Face of God. When we aspire, we eventually come to see the Face of God. When we realise, we grow into the very Image of God.
Arise, awake! This path is arduous. So we learn from the wise, and we have to follow in the footsteps of the wise. The path of spirituality is not a bed of roses. But neither is it a chimerical mist. The Golden Shores of the Beyond are not a mere promise. The crown of human aspiration is bound to be fulfilled on the Golden Shores of the Beyond.
Arise, awake! Here we must not stop. We have to walk, march, run, dive and fly. The moment we arise from our slumber, we see and feel the need for God in our human life, in our outer and inner life. When we wake up, we see that not only do we need God, but God also needs us. Why? We need God to realise our highest, the Ultimate, Transcendental Height. God needs us for His Self- Manifestation here on earth, His Manifestation in us and through us. When we walk along the path of spirituality, we see that God is already inside us. When we march, we see God marching beside us. When we run, we see that God is running in and through us. When we dive deep within, we see the peerless treasure waiting for us. When we fly, we see that we are flying in the welkin of the infinite Peace, Light and Bliss of the Beyond.
In the spiritual life everybody wants to realise God. But when it is a matter of aspiration, dedication, renunciation and surrender to the Will of the Inner Pilot, very few people are prepared to undergo the spiritual discipline. Everybody wants to realise God overnight; everybody wants to become the highest possible preceptor or Guru without going through the spiritual discipline of inspiration and aspiration.
It is like this. A seeker comes to a spiritual institution. The head of the institution asks him, "What do you want?" The seeker says, "I want to join your spiritual institution. Please give me some work." The head of the institution says, "There are only two kinds of work available here. Either you have to play the role of the disciple, or you have to play the role of the Guru or Master. You have to listen to the Guru, or you have to be the Guru and make others listen to you." The seeker immediately says, "Please, I want to play the role of the Guru." This is what actually happens in our spiritual life. Very often, when a seeker comes to the Master, he unconsciously thinks that he can also be a Master overnight. But I wish to say that it is not possible to become a spiritual giant or to achieve self-discovery or to realise God overnight. It takes time. Here most of you are students. You know how many years it takes to get your Master's degree—fifteen or twenty years. To acquire spiritual knowledge also demands many years of study. This study has to be undertaken before one becomes a spiritual Master.
We are all living in a world of duality, multiplicity and variety. When we want to elevate our consciousness to the Highest and try to aspire, desire—the thief— robs us. He takes away our psychic aspiration, our pure devotion towards God, our surrendering will which we offer to the Almighty Will. The Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." What do we learn from this lofty message? We learn that the life of desire has to give way to the life of aspiration. If the life of aspiration does not come to the fore, then a new life can never dawn. The Kingdom of God can be established only when we kindle the flame of aspiration deep within us.
Every day we are facing the ideal and the real. Our ideal is God, but the reality that we are facing is something totally different: ignorance. We are caught in the meshes of ignorance. The ideal and the real must go together. God is the Ideal; God is also the Real. We make solemn promises every day. We say that our ideal is to raise our consciousness to the Highest, our ideal is to achieve perfect Perfection. But when we face the real within us and without, we see that we are imperfection incarnate. Why? Because we are wanting in aspiration. We are wallowing in the pleasures of desires. Naturally, aspiration cannot play a proper role in us.
There are two Sanskrit words, abhyasa and tyaga. Abhyasa means practice and tyaga means renunciation. Every day we have to practise the inner life. When we practise meditation for fifteen minutes, God practises Compassion. We offer Him our heart's soulful cry and, in His own Way, He offers us His boundless, infinite Compassion. This is what we and God both practise. Now, renunciation. What are we going to renounce? The world? Society? Humanity? No! We are going to renounce our imperfections, bondage and death. When we go deep within, we see that we do not actually renounce these negative qualities of ours. Rather, we transform them. If imperfection looms large and important in our life, then we try to perfect our imperfection with our conscious awareness of light. If we notice bondage within us, then we try to transform our bondage into freedom. If death is constantly knocking at our door, which it always is, we try to transform our death into Immortality.
Earlier, I spoke about the need for aspiration to realise God. But inspiration is also necessary. Why do we need inspiration? Can we not immediately achieve realisation without first going through inspiration? Let us take an example. An artist creates a painting. If he is not inspired, his creation will have no meaning or significance. It will be a mechanical creation; it will be wanting in life. I wish to say that on the strength of his inspiration, the artist gives life to a portrait. When people see and appreciate the portrait, their appreciation takes the form of an offering of their own life. The portrait gets new life from the admirers. And when a spiritual person looks at the picture, he offers it divine life. So first we see the artist's creation, then we see the admirers' creation and finally we see the Master's creation, which offers divine life to the picture.
When a man walks along the path of spirituality, his inspiration is the awakening life that he offers to himself. When he aspires, his aspiration is the illumining life that he offers to himself. And when he becomes a realised person, he offers the Life Divine, the Life of Immortality, to his awakened and illumined life.
What is realisation? When we use the term 'realisation' in our spiritual life, people are very often confused. They feel that a realised person is totally different from an ordinary person, that he behaves in a very unusual way. But I wish to say that a realised person need not and should not behave in an unusual way. What has he realised? The Ultimate Truth in God. And who is God? God is someone or something absolutely natural.
When a man realises the highest Truth, he tries to offer the highest Truth to humanity at large. Most often unrealised people or unspiritual people think that a realised person, if he is truly realised, has to perform miracles at every moment. Miracles and God-Realisation need not and should not go together. When you stand in front of a spiritual Master, what you expect to see and what you do see are Peace, Light, Bliss and divine Power. Now, where does he hold this power? Not in his arms or legs, or in his head, but deep inside the inmost recesses of his heart. Enter into him and you are bound to feel infinite Peace, infinite Light and infinite Bliss. But if you expect something else from a realised soul, if you come to a spiritual Master thinking that because he has realised the Highest he can fulfil your teeming desires, make you a multimillionaire in the twinkling of an eye, you are totally mistaken. These are the kinds of things he does not do. If it is the Will of the Supreme, the Master can easily make someone a multimillionaire overnight. He can bring down material prosperity in abundant measure, but this is not the Will of the Supreme. What you can expect from a Master and from a Master's realisation are Peace, Light and Bliss.