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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
It is very interesting and also intriguing to find how the subject of true spirituality remains very simple and easy, at the same time how difficult and rare it is to find even seekers who understand it to be so. It is a great culture and tradition for anybody in our country to be in the company of saints and sages. Generally we all have the element of devotion in our mind, in our life and in our practices. This devotion is generally addressed to God who is not visible, who is at a great or infinite distance. This is the background so to say, or the starting point of all our spirituo-religious practices and quests.
But as the devotion grows, and also the devotee advances, you will find, the entire focus shifts from the invisible and infinitely distant God to one’s own inside personality. The devotee starts understanding that life is a commencement from and an expression of his own being. His personality is a composite one and in the composite personality, the entire aggregate called the body along with its limbs, are only an instrument. This instrument will never becomes functional unless it is animated and activated by the inside mind and intelligence. The mind and the intelligence are never direct parts of the body, because the body is matter and energy, and the qualities and functions of the mind and intelligence do not fall within matter and energy.
Though the mind is seemingly associated with the body, it is not a physical part of the body. Then what is the mind becomes a very significant question. Let it remain. The emphasis shifts from the external and objective God to the most close factors and constituents like the mind and the intelligence. This is a paradigm shift so far as devotional life and the devotees’ understanding are concerned. With this paradigm shift, one becomes a true devotee and his focus becomes inside.
In Bhagavad Gita we have the twelfth chapter which is solely devoted to a discussion about God and devotion. As long as you start worshipping God, that worship is an attitude of the mind. It is primarily and ultimately emotional. Whether you worship God or extol God or pay obeisance to Him in one way or the other, understand that it is all completely resting upon your mind and its emotional overnotes. So, where is this devotion at any point of time getting focused on God? An emotion is generated when the mind is conceives of a second product. The second product itself is a conception of the mind. So, the mind just like dreaming, it conceives an object called God and towards the object it starts generating its own emotions. But the object as well as what is developed, both are resting upon God. This is the truth.
You don’t have to offer God things which are very great. Srimad Bhagavata explains very clearly that jumbo pujas using costly materials, God doesn't accept at all, provided the devotee is unmindful of the needs and sufferings of the people around. What does it mean? God is a giver, he is not a taker. And what are you giving God, for whose purpose? By your puja, are you going to make Him fatter and fatter? By your offering of some food substances, are you going to feed and nourish his stomach? Then if you don’t give, make an offer, then he will have to starve? I don’t think people think about it. When they start thinking about it, the entire emphasis changes. That is why in Bhagavad Gita it is clearly mentioned,
The giving is only instrumental and causal. What is given is not the material. You place at the altar, a leaf, a fruit, a flower, or a spoonful of water. They are all placed at the altar, but your focus is on God, the Universal presence.
So, what is this offering of a material? So Krishna says, you can use any simple materials; if nothing is there, use at least a spoonful of water. But, what matters here is bhaktyā prayachchati. “While giving, it becomes an occasion to generate devotion in your heart and it should be smeared with devotion and that devotion I partake”, he says. So are you to give God costly materials? No not at all. Are you to give God any material? No, not at all. To give costly materials is the lower step or lowest. To give simple materials, is the still higher and to give no material, is the best. Never think of giving anything is super best. Are you following me, what I say? So in the twelfth chapter of Bhagavad Gita you will find, towards the end after describing devotion, "It rests upon the mind and the intelligence. Surrender both of them to me, then from the next moment you will start living in me.”
“Offer your mind to me, intelligence to me. When both of them are offered and are completely fixed on me, from next moment onwards you start living in me.” Where is the material offer there? Where is any giving at all? It is the question of making your mind and intelligence rest upon the concept of God. "Then you start living in me.” If you are unable to do this, then take to various physical and sensory practices like puja and things like that. If that is also not possible, okay, okay, and disassociate yourself from the objective results of whatever you do, the subjective results of whatever you do. And finally he is concluding, citing the bhakta lakshaṇās. My dear souls, please listen to me carefully. He concludes the chapter with the characteristics of a true devotee. I have kept the book on my lap. You will find the first two verses:
My dear children, please understand. No material offering is necessary for a devotee. As devotion progresses, the devotee becomes self-based. He starts looking into himself, his mind, his intelligence. Make sure that the mind and the intelligence are offered to God and bring all the devotional characteristics in you.
We start from, adveṣṭā sarvabhutanam. Get away the least resentment, displeasure and hatred towards anything in this world. Best friendly to them; be compassionate to them. Have no mamata – possessiveness. Have no ego, ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I am’, ‘I do’, ‘I do not’, ‘I want’, ‘I do not want’, nothing like that.
Sama-duḥkha-sukhaḥ kṣamī - sukha duhkhas are the only experiences arising from the world at any time. Do not seek sukha and do not hate duhkha and have an even attitude towards them. No flower, no milk, no pudding, no offering. All these are examinational, self examine. Kshami - be tolerant. Such a person will take some time to get settled and he is going to prepare himself to get into a very high pedestal. It requires maturity, refinement, stability, exclusiveness, courage, Himalayan courage.
And finally he goes on saying from the next verse onwards, no reference to God and nothing. All characteristics mentioned from the next verse onwards are characteristics referring to the devotee’s personality. Even God is not mentioned there. Why I mentioned this? I mentioned this because I always tell people. There are two kinds of people who come to the Ashram – ordinary devotees and seekers who have fondness for me and the others in the Ashram and who also appreciate our activities if at all, the main activity being . Whatever capacity they have, they make some offers. It can be five rupees, five hundred, five thousand, fifty thousand, five lakhs anything it maybe. But the moment they grow in their devotion, they would feel like coming and being close to me and the others, and be participants in the work here. To such people I always say, ‘Bring nothing; come waving your hands. Let all the fingers be open. Feel that you have nothing. Come here to share whatever we have or we have not. If we have half a meal, one half of it will be given to you and the half we shall divide between ourselves. If we have no meal, we will look at you with a starving mouth, trying to grace you with an additional note of austerity.’
Initially you are close to God. The moment you go to vaikunta, maybe one or two days you will start gazing at God. Thereafter you will find, "What is the work that I can do in this vaikunta for my Lord?" So, it is a promotion to have nothing, to offer nothing, but to offer oneself and thereafter, to be a part of the whole activities and other things in vaikunta. One is sālokya, another is sārūpya and finally you get sāyūjya. These are stages one after the other. Understand this.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.