Faith is not a blind belief or superstition
London 8th July 2008
Seeking refuge and offering my pranams, prostrations with deep love and reverence at the Lotus Feet of my Master, Shivabalayogi, welcoming you all to this afternoon, I greet you all with my love and blessings.
For the last so many days that we are here I have been trying to discuss the method of meditation - its importance, why it is recommended, about the Self - all these points.
Often people have come to me and asked me about Faith. How to cultivate faith? What is faith? All these type of things. So today, apart from conveying the meaning of meditation for the newcomers, also I would like to talk about this faith.
Faith is very, very important, because this faith is not a blind belief and not also any superstitious beliefs. Because a blind belief happens out of plain ignorance and fear, and through that ignorance or fear one is likely to be doing very small things, getting into all sorts of kindergarten stuff, when you need to be in the University. Superstitious belief happens out of fear. But in philosophy, in spirituality there is no place for fear. This faith that we keep talking of is your self-confidence. As yesterday also I was telling, you need to be committed to the cause, if you need to achieve. You need to be serious. To be committed and being serious is what is known as reverence and devotion. So if you are devoted to the cause you will be able to do it, and you will do it. That is what is important. If you are not devoted you won't do it. In the same way, if you have confidence in you then you keep going. That is how we were taught. Like I told, my primary school teacher used to tell me, which, even after fifty five years of age, a hundred times every day it comes to our mind. "If anything happens to you, just do not worry. Just think, after all my head is going to be cut but I am not going to give it up." So such should be the confidence. Not necessarily that you have to die, but you gain that enormous inner strength to face the challenge and remain determined, committed seriously and achieve the thing. So this is what is faith. Faith in the name of the Guru, faith in the name of the Lord can work wonders. Great Saints have told about this.
Because technically when you have faith your mind also becomes totally concentrated on the efforts. When it is concentrated it is always in touch with the Divinity that is within you. It is always in a better communication position with God. So then the things start working. So that is how faith is so important.
Apart from teaching meditation, my Master always advised it is important that we lose ego. Ego is the biggest hurdle for a person to learn or to progress, particularly on this path. My Master spoke often about this, about faith. Sometimes it was deliberately to give us a type of training to be more tough, to be more confident and more determined on the path of sadhana, of spirituality, to reach the truth. He used to sometimes scold in front of hundreds of people. That was basically to remove any sort of ego. He used to test how much we could restrain ourselves. How much we could remain composed and keep smiling and keep doing everything without getting confused or panicked, or worried or getting ego. We saw so many people going away from the Master when He simply scolded even once. They had such ego. That is why He always told, "When you come to me, just come to me as a devotee. Forget if you are a businessman, an officer, any powerful person, or anybody. You should not have this imagination. Then only you will be able to learn about the devotion and be really devoted." Sometimes, when He really used to scold us, then afterwards He used to ask me, "Now that I have scolded you so much your mind might be wanting to run away from me. I know about this." He used to pull us up. But He used to be very affectionate from inside always, though He appeared very tough from outside. Then He used to say, "Look at the devotion of Hanuman whatever Shri Rama wanted to do. Once even Shri Rama threatened to kill Hanuman himself but still Hanuman wouldn't give up the name of Rama, repeating the name of Rama. The devotion to Rama he wouldn't give up. Such should be the faith, then even your own Guru, your own God cannot harm you in any way. Even Rama couldn't harm Hanuman. So thus He used to tell this story. And He would have told this story a hundred times, so many times because He used to employ and tell this repeatedly so it could penetrate into the inner layers of our mind. That is what He always emphasized. Then you would not forget in your wildest dreams also. What I teach you will always remember and you will always get into it.
So He used to tell this story that I will narrate here today for your sakes, once again. It was the time of Ramayana, when Lord Rama had come back to Ayodhya, after He had conquered over Ravana, He had killed him and brought back Sita and He was ruling the empire. He was the Emperor there. Once a conference of sages and all such important figures was happening. In that conference Sage Narada and so many angels were also there, and they were discussing the matter, "Which is more powerful, Shri Rama's weapons, the bows and arrows through which He killed so many powerful demons or Shri Rama's name. Which is more powerful?"
Sage Vishwamitra said, "I know Shri Rama from His childhood. I am sure, even today if He takes up His weapons of bows and arrows nobody in all the worlds can challenge Him. He is so powerful; nobody can stand in front of Him." Then Sage Vasishta tells, "Venerable Sage, that is not so. A person who is really devoted to Rama, and can chant in the name of Rama with total devotion and surrender and total faith, such a person can stand in front of Shri Rama, he can challenge Rama also if needed and even Rama cannot harm him, or anything. I can assure you of this point." A little bit irritated and furious, Sage Vishvamitra said, "Let us test about this point. I know that one. Rama's bows and arrows are powerful. If Rama is going to kill somebody, who can protect such a person? Let me see."
So they select a certain king in the empire and Sage Vishwamitra deliberately goes to the king's palace when the king was deeply into meditation. Those were in the days when the Sages used to visit anybody's home or palace, anywhere, unannounced. They were always received with due honors, total reverence and reception was given to them. They were made to sit on a higher seat and their feet would be washed and they would be looked after well. Even the king himself used to come to receive them. But because the king was in deep meditation he could not attend to the Sage and offer any proper reception. Though his servants and other people were trying to offer all proper reception to Vishwamitra he wouldn't agree. He was very furious. "I am very annoyed. How egoistic your king is - he did not come to receive me himself." Taking this as an excuse deliberately Vishwamitra comes to the court of Shri Rama and complains, "Oh Rama, in your empire there are some kings and people who are disrespectful to Sages like us. Now I'm not going to stay in your empire anymore. I will construct my ashram somewhere else. I'm going to give up your empire and go away."
Even such a great personality as Rama whom we all consider as an incarnation of God and always call 'Lord Rama', revered Gurus so much came off His throne and prostrating to Sage Vishwamitra. He begs for forgiveness. "Oh venerable Sage, please forgive. Tell me who was disrespectful to you? I promise I will cut the head off such a person tomorrow before sunset and I promise it in the name of the bows and arrows through which I killed so many powerful demons. Let it be so." Very much pleased Vishwamitra goes from that court, he informs, "Such and such person has been disrespectful. You have to kill him." So Vishwamitra thinks "Let us see what is going to happen. Who can protect that king because once He's given His word, His promise, He's never going to go back on it. And His bows and arrows are so powerful who can do this one?"
Sage Narada was also in the conference and was always fond of the divine play and always used to be putting one against the other. He came to the King's palace when he was meditating, and waking him up from the meditation he said, "What is the use of this meditation? You always keep meditating on Rama and keep repeating the name of Rama all the time. The same Rama is going to kill you before sunset. What is the use of it now?" The King said, "My God! What is going to happen now? Shri Rama is going to kill me. Who can protect me?"
Sage Narada said, "I will tell you a trick. You see, if at all anyone can protect you, it is Hanuman. You can find Hanuman on the tree top or mountain top or secluded spot, all the time into his own Samadhi meditation and repeating the name of "Rama, Rama". Go to him and surrender. Do not give any clue who is going to kill you, but just tell that your life is under threat and take a promise of protection from him. After he promises then tell him who is going to kill you. Until then don't tell him, otherwise he will get confused. "
So the king comes to Hanuman where he was in a deep Samadhi of his own in the name of Rama, and he surrenders and says, "My life is under threat. My Lord, please protect and help me." Hanuman was fond of Lord Rama's devotees all the time - whoever was devotional. So without having any second thought Hanuman promised, "Don't worry, Oh king. Tomorrow before sunset no power in this world can kill you. I will protect you. I promise this in Lord Rama's name which is so dear to me, that I am repeating it at all times. Now tell me, who is going to kill you?" Then the king reveals, "Oh Shri Rama is going to kill me."
Then Hanuman says, "Oh, there's great danger now. You make me to fight with my Guru! So what will happen? You didn't tell me earlier. You are very clever."
So Hanuman tells him, "Well, maybe there's some divine play in this. Let me see what's going to happen. Don't worry."
With his tail he built a fort and invited the king to sit inside. "You will be safe here. I will take care. We will see what's going to happen tomorrow." He went on repeating Rama's name in his own way, never bothered for anything. Next day all the armies of Shri Rama came, His brothers, everybody came and got beaten up by Hanuman's powers and they all went away. Finally Shri Rama comes with His chariot and army and He orders Hanuman, "Hanuman, you are My servant. You have been so obedient all the time. I order that you hand over that king to me because I have promised in the name of My bows and arrows I need to kill him, come what maybe, no problem."
Humbly, with folded hands, Hanuman stands and says, "My Lord, tomorrow when You give up Your physical body Your weapons and arrows will also vanish. They will be of no use to humanity anymore. But Your name for the coming ages will always be useful. Whoever can be devotional, and whoever can repeat Your name with total faith and devotion will be protected from the bondage of this world. They will have the Self Realization; they can attain Your Lotus Feet. So I cannot allow Your name to go false come what may be. "
So annoyed, Shri Rama says, "First I will kill you and then I will kill that king also." So Shri Hanuman goes into the meditation of His Guru, Shri Rama, repeating all the time the name of his Guru, "Rama, Rama" and the legendary story says that Shri Rama went on shooting arrow after arrow and every arrow became a flower garland and fell on the neck of Hanuman. So Rama Himself could not do anything to Hanuman. That was the power of His devotion. And then all the angels and Sages come and they pacify Shri Rama and they pray to Him that they just wanted to test this power saying, "We are so much pleased."
So my Guru used to tell this story every time He used to pull me up or if I am slightly perturbed or unhappy or depressed, any such thing. He used to tell this story again to motivate me, to induce faith in me like that. Hundreds of times He used to keep repeating this story. You see, this is what the faith means. If you have the faith in the name of your Guru even your Guru will have to give you - He cannot harm you at all. My Guru used to tell like that one.
So that was how, through the name of our Guru, "Om Shivaya Shivabalayogendraya Parabrahmanaya." He gave this mantra in a dream before I actually met Him physically in 1971. So the next day, when I was about to go and see Him in Mysore in the foothills of Chamundi where He was coming to give a public programme, He was coming from Bangalore. That night's dream was so strange and peculiar. In a pitch darkness I am standing in a queue and somebody comes and tells, "Your Master is waiting for you. Why are you waiting in the queue?" Through a backdoor he takes me inside and Swamiji, my Guru, is sitting on a tiger's skin, majestically with matted hair and He asks me, "What do you want?" Spontaneously I tell, "I want jnana, bhakti and vairagya." - that means knowledge, devotion and detachment to this world - "You grant me that boon." Then smilingly He tells me this mantra in the dream, "Om Shivaya Shivabalayogendraya Parabrahmanaya". You repeat this mantra and you will get what you want and you will come to me. You will get all the spiritual truth."
So then, in the dream another one or two funny things happened. He gave me a small stick telling that, "You keep this stick. Whatever you want in this world it will happen." I tell, " I want Swamiji only." So then He takes back that stick, "This stick can give you only the materialistic things it cannot give you spiritual things. So if you want God this stick is of no use." Then breaking it into two pieces He throws it away. Well, after that I come out, it was total pitch darkness - nobody is there. And a policeman comes, he is asking me, "What are you doing in this darkness here?" Then Swamiji from inside shouts at him, "Hey, he is My adopted son. Don't bother him, let him go." And that was the dream.
Well, when I got up from the dream I was spontaneously repeating the same mantra unknown to me. So it was such a mesmerizing effect on me. And throughout, my Guru's name and my Guru's blessings have always protected us, guided us towards the spiritual Truth - that is how we got It. So all the time faith, it was the faith that always worked wonders. So this is one of the things.
Another funny story, a small brief story about superstitious beliefs - how these things build up. How we heard this story and it impacted us. In a childhood once I had heard this - one priest telling. Every year in India for the departed souls they offer tributes and that is called the shradha ceremonies. So once there was a priest who had to offer this shradha ceremony to the departed soul of his father. He was making a list of all the ingredients that was needed. He was always very angry; he never used to explain things in a proper way to his son. His son was always very much terrified. So he gave a big list of all the ingredients for the fire sacrifice, homa, and said, "You go and bring." And in the list he had put one piece of rope also. His son could understand all the other ingredients for the fire sacrifice but could not understand why the rope is needed. But he was too terrified of his father to ask why this rope is also needed. But he couldn't help it, out of fear, still he asks his father, "Father, can you tell why this piece of rope is needed for the shradha ceremony?" Very annoyed and irritated, his father shouts at him, "Idiot! Don't you know that during a shradha ceremony the cat needs to be tied with a rope?" That is all he said, and he wouldn't explain anything further. So this sat in the mind of his son. He thought that for a shradha ceremony a cat and a rope is also necessary. So after some time, a few years later, that father passed away. The son became a father, he had got married and he had a son. He was performing the same shradha ceremony to the departed soul of his father. By then there was no more cat in the home, so in the ingredients list he wrote 'one cat and a piece of rope'. And he handed that to his son. His son was well educated and he got puzzled, "Why do we need a cat and a piece of rope for this shradha ceremony and worship of God and all such things?" His father was at least not annoyed, not irritated - he was very mild. "I don't know son. My father, whenever he preformed a shradha ceremony he used to tie a cat with a rope and that is all he said. So I thought, this is needed. So we need to tie the cat with the rope. That is what scriptures might have told, I'm not really sure." But the son was very inquisitive and he went around inquiring of other learned people, "What is the truth? Why do we need a cat and a rope for this shradha ceremony?" So some of the learned people said, "It is really stupidity of your father that he never tried to know the truth. Maybe, during your grandfather's time there was a cat in the home. He would have thought that perhaps the cat would disturb the worship or might disturb the fire sacrifice. That is why he might have thought of tying the cat with a rope. That is all. If there is no cat there is no need for a rope also." So this is the story we heard. This is how superstitious beliefs can simply build up, generation after generation. If you don't know the reason why it is needed or not needed, that is how superstitious belief happens.
This superstitious belief is totally different from the faith that I am talking about. Faith is your self confidence, your determination that you must think positively that you can do it. Always by practicing and having confidence.
Like Shri Krishna tells Arjuna when Arjuna repeatedly says, "Oh Krishna, this mind is so slippery. It runs away, it runs away. How to bring it back? How to control this mind? We cannot tie it with a rope. How can this be possible? It appears it is impossible."
"By practice, Oh son of Kunti, repeatedly by practise, practise, practise one can achieve perfection. And having that determination never lose it. That is very, very important." Always think though it is very difficult, it is not impossible. That is the positive thinking that one needs to have for this mind.
My Guru respected all religions as equal and honourable. Why? Every exercise that has been prescribed and taught in all religions, so many types of worship and sadhanas, japas, Tapas, bhajans, name, singing, everything - the basic idea is for mind control. When I talk of 'mind control' it is not that somebody else is going to come and control your minds. You have to control your own mind. As I keep repeating for the sake of understanding, mind is your own conscious energy - in fact nothing but yours and you. So if you allow your mind to go into distractions it will make you dance to its tunes at all times - the happiness and unhappiness. It goes into great cravings all the time and worries, worries, worries. Like my teacher used to tell, "The worry is much more dangerous than the funeral pyre fire." So that is what he used to tell. While the person is alive it burns, it grinds and it peels off the skin - such is the power of the worry in the mind. It is so agonizing for every human being. So to overcome this, you practice this meditation. This meditation that my Guru taught for thirty three years from 1961 to 1994. That was when He dropped His physical body, but He continues to inspire, not that He has passed away - Yogis never go away like that. He has become one with the Divinity, everywhere. God is everywhere, He is one with God, the Parabrahman. The twelve years of vigorous Tapas that He did was so wonderful. Close the eyes and try to control the mind, keep it into one point.
Sometimes people have asked me the question, "By trying to meditate, are we going to hypnotize our minds?" It is not so. By thinking and making a judgement within your mind, with the power of imagination, you have hypnotized yourself. This meditation is a de-hypnotizing process. You will overcome all such hypnotized things, all such judgements, all such requirements of the mind and then you will be able to experience the truth that is within you.
Even if you practice for thirty minutes or one hour every day, you can be a beautiful, perfect genius person in this world. You shall have the moral values perfectly and you shall have the mental health perfectly. Just like you need food to sustain your physical body, this sadhana or meditation and all such exercises in the religion that has been taught is the food for your mind's health. So that is when it can be healthier. When it is healthier it can think in a healthier way.
Consideration to each other in this world - we can all live harmoniously and the Earth will be safer and better for all of us when we all put in efforts. As I always keep telling - people keep talking of 'Peace. Peace. Peace.' all over the world. But nobody practices, so that is why there is no peace. If we simply keep talking of bread, bread, bread and we do not practice to bake it, how can we have bread? So, if we simply keep listening to lectures and keep talking about 'Meditation, meditation', the mind will never come under control. We need to practice. That's what my Guru repeatedly emphasized 'Sadhana is very, very important.' Sadhana means 'your efforts to achieve' - that is sadhana. If you can sit for one hour that is also a siddhi for you. Quietly, unmoved physically, unmoved eyeballs and eyelids and the mind - if it is unmoved for one hour, amazing results can come. My Guru called all such people 'valiant soldiers' because it's not easy to keep quiet. It has become so easy to keep thinking and wondering, wondering, wondering all the time. This monkey type of mind all the time wandering in this world. It has become so common and habitual for it. So if it can keep quiet for some time, that is the greatest wonder. That is when you can rediscover about your own existence as the Immortal Soul, beyond the existence of these physical bodies, birth and death. That is what You are. That is what Jangama dhyana means. We call this Shivabalayogi's Jangama Dhyana. This dhyana, amazing technique my Master obtained by the manifestation of the Divine, Parabrahman, Lord Shiva in the form of a Jangama Sage. Jangama means 'Eternal Existence'. Shiva means 'your existence in total thoughtlessness state'. When the mind becomes totally still what remains is the pure Consciousness of Existence. That is when you can experience this. In the beginning it could be very awful; anything could be very hard in the beginning. It appears so but as you go on practicing, learning, learning, learning slowly so that one day you can become the expert and it will become so easy. When you notice the time appears very long. If you don't have proper sleep in the night every moment will be like an age passing through. If you have a sound sleep then eight hours sleep can pass by like two minutes, so quickly you will get up thinking, "Oh God! If only I could have slept for another couple of hours but now l have to go to the office." You will be scratching your head, there is no other way because you need your livelihood otherwise your body cannot be sustained.
So in the same way if you can realize you need this type of sadhanas, meditation, all such things to sustain the health of your mind, then you will definitely do it.
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