'Your mind must be there'
Special Devotional Evening at the Bhavan Centre, London, UK
Sunday 3rd July 2011.
Each year that Shri Babaji has visited the UK interest has steadily grown. Apart from the basic public programs held to introduce newcomers to meditation, weekend retreats and 2-hour meditations sessions have also been organised for serious meditators - this year about a hundred attended. With the monthly devotional sessions being popular for several years, this year a Special Devotional Evening was also held at the Bhavan Centre in London - the main Indian Cultural Centre in the UK. Many of the music teachers and their students have become quite attached to Babaji and they along with Babaji's disciples and the local devotees accompanied Babaji on instruments, like sitar, violin, keyboard and tabla while He sang several enchanting bhajans which had inspired Him since childhood and which He had sung to His Beloved Master Shivabalayogi, all through His years of service.
Before the bhajans Babaji explained the role of devotion in spiritual practice and the significance of the devotional path, bhakti marga. Below is a transcript of that talk.
Prostrations with deep love and reverence at the Lotus Feet of beloved Master Shivabalayogi. I greet you all this evening with my love and blessings.
A droplet reaches its ocean, merges and becomes one with it. The space inside an earthen pot becomes aware that it is one with the space that is all-pervaded. That is how a Self Realization happens. The mind abandons all its cravings and imaginations, effortlessly settles into the Self, which is the mind's source, the origin, and remains there contented. When such a thing happens there is no more ego. If a person is alive in the body after this He is known as Jivanmukta, the Liberated One, but one will remain in all humility, just like the droplet of the ocean realizes that it did not become the ocean, the ocean already existed, it simply became one with the ocean.
So that is how, in this world, my Master Shivabalayogi, one of the greatest spiritual giants that India has produced, after twelve years of tapas and Self Realization, was all humble and He respected all paths of yoga. Although He had done meditation in silence He respected the bhakti marga, the path of devotion, and the path of karma (service) and so on. Every path leads to the same goal, the Divinity, the one Ultimate Truth of Existence. And every path is equal and honorable. It should be a person's choice to select any particular path that appeals and is suitable to one's temperament.
In the silent meditation that is taught in the legacy of our Guru you try to pay attention to the Divinity without trying to imagine what that Divinity is. In bhakti marga you try to pay attention to the Divinity with an imagination. That is the beauty. In spirituality the mind has the quality to imagine and this imagination can be used to overcome itself. This is recognized as a satvic quality – the 'good' among the three qualities of satvic, tamasic and rajasic, meaning something like the 'good, bad and ugly'. Because using this imagination only you are able to live in this world, be creative and give a beautiful shape to your own life through your actions. Thus the imagination, the quality of the mind to be able to imagine is to be considered as a great quality - it's not ordinary. In fact in the great spiritual teachings, the great Sages recognised that this entire universe has been created by the imagination technology.
As you know your mind imagines, and when it imagines a thought appears, a vision appears within the mind. The more that you become focused on such a thought and you would sustain such a thought, a vision, that it starts appearing so solid. From an imagination it becomes a mental projection and even to the level of manifestation. Mind's potency of such an imagination increases to the highest level.
As I was telling of rajasic and tamasic the problem arises when this mind gets scattered in its imagination and you lose control over your own mind. Then the situation becomes a little bad, because when you lose control over your own mind the mind can go into any type of imaginations, wild, it might be bad, might be wrong, it might be good or anything. In this world we do not want anything that is bad, anything that is wrong because all of us, everyone, knowingly or unknowingly is looking for peace and happiness. Everyone is looking for a harmonious life, nobody wants to have conflict. People would like to live harmoniously and peacefully but when they do not know how to live that is when they get into a conflict. When they get insecure, that is another basic reason when humans get into a conflict. When we are unable to love and respect the other then we get into a conflict. Like my Master said, “You can believe in God in any name, in any form or formless, no problem, just do not condemn other's beliefs.” Respect others also, then there is harmony and peace.
The mind is made up of consciousness and energy. This mind has gone out of control, has come out of Divinity, the droplet has come out of the ocean due to imagination and this imagination has gone out of control. Like when you are watching a movie, your imagination gets sucked into the movie. You start imagining yourself to be in the movie and everything that is happening in the movie appears to be happening to you, the good, bad, right, wrong, happiness, unhappiness and you start experiencing in the mind. Due to this the mind has gone out of control, due to this type of imagination that there is no control over imagination.
So the basic essence of bhakti marga is trying to remember, trying to pay attention to the origin of this consciousness which you call the mind because of its thought processes that are in it. Trying to remain its origin with a little bit of imagination, because nobody knows what the truth is and nobody can imagine God, the Divinity that is all-pervaded. Its existence is such an amazing thing nobody can define. That is why the ancient Sages of India used that word anantam meaning boundless. It is beyond anybody's imagination, yet, because the mind has got involved into its own imaginations we need to use a certain imagination so the mind starts going back to the Divinity.
Nobody can explain what God is, still we have to give a clue. In the same way like kindergarten children we heard the first definition for space as 'the void place in-between these two walls is known as space'. That was an imagination because for a child you cannot show the all-pervadedness of the Divinity, of the space. Simply if you tell that space is all-pervaded a child cannot understand what it is. A definition had to be given so they gave this one. As we grew up we became aware that the same space existed everywhere, we became aware that it is all-pervaded. Suppose I tell that the space only exists in the classroom of my birthplace where I went to kindergarten school all of you would laugh because all of you know that is ignorant. In the same way when one begins with an imagination, 'This is God,' - from one viewpoint if you see this is only a photo, but from another if you begin to attach your emotions, when you are able to fall in love and have faith it changes totally, it becomes the Divine for you. Paramahamsa Ramakrishna said, “Faith in the name of Lord can work wonders.” My Guru said, “When you have faith and devotion to the Guru, God and Guru will have to bless you,” meaning they shall not have any other choice or option. That can be the power of devotion and faith, that's what my Master taught us. Such can be the power of devotion.
To be devoted means you are dedicating all your attention. The more you can pay attention to the Divine, with imagination or without imagination – in bhakti marga with the imagination 'this is God' – slowly your consciousness shall rise to your higher level as you fall in love. As you go on living in this world, if you can fall in love, if you can develop that faith and devotion then slowly your consciousness gets engulfed into that imagination and you will be able to feel the presence of the Divinity, your God in any form, your Guru, everywhere, as everything, you will start 'seeing'.
In India, along with those great Self Realized souls several great Self Realized Saints came who achieved this through the bhakti marga, devotion. Many of them had been very beautiful musicians, poets who sang and who became devoted and achieved Self Realization. Like Mirabai was a great poet and Saint, Self Realized soul because in bhakti marga she rose to the highest level of tapas, meaning for her only Krishna existed; even Mira never existed in her consciousness. Her attention was so focused on Krishna-consciousness all the time. That is the highest pitch of bhakti, the tapas through bhakti.
Music can be such therapy for the mind and a means for mind control, for the soothing of the mind. Since childhood as a way of life simply we learnt to do some chants, singing, bhajans, this type of thing, through our mothers and later our teachers that enhanced our focus point in life always and that kept our minds non-violent, more peaceful, that gave an ability to consider about others to know about others, understand about others, to restrain ourselves, to control our emotions and meditation became so easy eventually when we grew up we went into deeper meditations, such can be the beautiful effects.
Some of the small stories that gave such an impact on my childhood mind for the Divine Consciousness in the bhakti marga through the bhakti also a person could have that beautiful knowledge and awareness of the all-pervadedness of the Divinity. Sometimes I used to wonder, 'This is an idol made up of stone, this is a photo, and yet we are worshipping this as God. What is the essence behind this? What could be the concept? Is God hidden in this? Or is God everywhere as we hear? If God is everywhere why is it that this form does not appear everywhere?'
One of the beautiful stories amongst so many Saints, poets and musicians that have become Realized - in the Southern part of India Kanakadasa was one of those such great Realized souls, who was a great Saint, musician, poet. In his childhood he was a ignorant cowherd boy. He did not have any education or academic qualification. Once, what happened as a child of eight to ten years old, he saw some scholarly priests worshipping God and chanting beautifully, then singing, and watching this the boy got attracted. He went in all humility prostrating to them, he requested them to teach him how to worship God, how to invoke God. They made fun of him, “Look, you are only a cowherd boy. What do you know about all these chants, mantras, singing? You cannot do it; you are not fit for this. However, because you are asking, and as you are used to looking after the cows and buffalos, go and sit under that tree and repeat 'buffalo, buffalo, buffalo, buffalo' then you will come to know God." So they tried to belittle him, but the young boy was innocent. That innocence gave him total faith. He took it in good faith and he considered them to be his Gurus. He went and sat under the tree and kept on repeating 'buffalo, buffalo'. The legend says he had the vision of the Death God who is always known to ride on the buffalo. Here the buffalo is the mind's consciousness, when it is taken away the Divine as the Death God rides on that one. He has control over that one, which is the life current in this body also. That is the symbolic teachings. And He guided him into the mantra of the Divine in the form of Lord Krishna, 'Keshava'. He chanted and became such an elevated soul he was guided to go to another Self Realized Master of those days.
He lived probably around five hundred years ago in Vijayanagar Empire, and when he went to the school the Master who was Self Realized allowed the boy to join on seeing his talents and merit but other students did not like him because he was supposed to belong to an untouchable caste, they were all high caste people, they looked down on him. All the time they used to tease him and make fun of him. But quietly Kanakadasa went on absorbed in his devotion, remembering the Divine in the name of Keshava and so he started seeing the Divinity everywhere.
One day the teacher wanted to teach a lesson to the other students, what is the essence of real bhakti not simply taking of camphor and candles and doing Aaratis or offering God silver or gold, that is not the thing that God wants. It is the mental attention. Like whenever I have had the chance to address the people in the places of worship, I tell them, “Come to these places of worship, it's very good. You would like to worship God, but when you are worshipping pay attention, your mind must be there. You are doing Aarati or you are trying to sing but you're mind has gone into a shopping complex. Such a worship will not reach God. Such singing will not reach God. Your mind must be focused there.” Well the Master gave one banana each to all the students and told them, “You must go to such a place where nobody will be watching you, quietly eat this banana and come back and report to me before sunset.” The students thought, “This test is so simple, Master is testing our cleverness, our wisdom, we can easily do that one. We have been doing this every day. We are sure this Kanakadas cannot do this, he is an idiot, he won't be able to do it.” They all went, within an hour they came back. They reported, “I hid myself in the bushes and ate. Nobody was watching.” “I went behind the door of my bathroom and I ate, nobody was watching.” “I went on the mountain.” “I went in the tree.” They all reported. They were all made to wait because Kanakadas had not yet returned. It was noon, then afternoon, then evening, it was about to be sunset, the boys were murmuring, “Today this Kanakadas could not even do this small job that the Master gave him. He asked, after all, to eat the banana where nobody was watching. The idiot couldn't even do it. That is why he has not come back. Now the Master is going to be annoyed with him and he is going to expel him from this institution, thank God we will have peace, we won't have that untouchable boy here anymore.” That is what the boys were murmuring because one student had not returned they were all made to wait, they couldn't go for the meals also. They were all getting annoyed, irritated and losing patience.
So finally just before sunset this boy, Kanakadas, came. The banana was in his hand. He surrendered himself at the feet of his Master, telling, “Master, I tried to follow your instructions. I went behind the door, I went in the bushes, I went to the mountain, and I went behind the tree. Wherever, whenever I tried to eat the banana Keshava was watching me.”
From childhood, whenever we heard, we felt so much touched to the depths of our hearts of that young boy's beautiful innocence and knowledge of Divinity. Then the Master told the other students, “Look at Kanakadas. He was a cowherd boy, he didn't get any academic qualifications but look at his innocence and devotion.” So that is the power of devotion. That was Kanakadasa with faith and devotion. So that is how we all got inspired into the devotional path.
My Master taught us these things, He used to pull us up sometimes if we had done a mistake and sometimes He could be for one hour screaming and yelling. Then He used to tell, “I just wanted to test your patience, your mind, your consciousness. I know that now I have shouted at you, you might be wanting to run away. But look at Hanuman, Hanuman's great devotion to Rama. Even when Rama wanted to kill Hanuman, still he did not give up the name of his Guru, his Master, Rama.” He used to tell that story also.
Shri Rama had come back to Ayodhya, He had been crowned as the Emperor after winning over the demon King Ravana, then, at the conference of the Sages they were all discussing which one is more powerful, Shri Rama's bows and arrows, His weapons, or Shri Rama's name? Vishwamitra said, “I have seen Rama since childhood, He is such a great warrior, even today, if He takes up His bows and arrows no one can challenge Him in all the worlds.” But Vashishta said, “No, there are such people who have that great faith and love in the name of Rama. They can challenge Rama with His bows and arrows. Even Rama cannot do harm.” Vishwamitra was furious, “Let us test this.” So he comes to a king who was a great devotee of Rama, who always meditated on the name of 'Rama.' Those were the days even if a Sage entered a home or a palace unannounced they were to be received with proper reception, their feet washed and their clothing, food etc looked after, that was the culture, tradition. To receive a holy man, a Guru that was the cultural thing. Because the king was in meditation of Rama's name, Vishwamitra using it as an excuse, got annoyed and went to the court of Rama and tells, “In your Empire there are people who are disrespectful to me, and I am going to move my monastery from your Empire to some other Empire, I'm going away, I'm not going to be here.” Even Lord Rama was so devoted in the name of Guru, He touched the feet of the Master, “Master, please do not go away from my Empire. Tell me who was disrespectful to you? Before sunset tomorrow I will kill him, I will cut his head. I promise in the name of the bows and arrows that I killed Ravana.” His one word was enough, He didn't even have to say, “I promise,” simply He said He was going to cut, He would do it. So now Vishwamitra was satisfied and went away.
The next day Sage Narada comes to that king, “Oh King, you are remembering the name of Rama. The same Rama tomorrow is going to cut your head. What's the use of remembering Rama's name?” The king said, “My God, now what will happen to me? How will I be protected?” The Sage said, “Look, if at all anyone can protect you it is Hanuman. He will be repeating Shri Rama's name all the time on a treetop or somewhere on the mountains. Go and surrender to him. Don't tell him first that Rama is going to kill you, first take his protection, because he loves devotees of Rama.” Then the king goes and surrenders. Hanuman was in such a great Samadhi in the name of Rama, he promises, “Nobody will kill you tomorrow; no one can even touch a devotee of beloved Rama. I give you this in Rama's name which is so dear to me.” Well then the king, satisfied, stays there. But when he explains that Rama is coming to kill him, Hanuman is slightly taken back and says “What have you done? You have made me to promise to fight my Guru. Never mind this is Divine play also, Rama's Grace is there, we will see.” Next day all the armies of Rama come, they were driven away by the power of Hanuman. Then Shri Rama Himself comes, He demands, “Hanuman, you are my servant, my disciple, I order you, you hand over that king, I have to cut his head, I have promised to my Master.” Then Hanuman, folding his hands with all humility said, “Master, when tomorrow you give up your physical body, your bows and arrows will also disappear along with you, they will be of no use to the people of this world. But Rama's name in the coming ages, at all times, it will be there. It will be helpful to people to come onto the devotional path and become aware of the truth of existence, as themselves as a part of that Divinity. So I cannot allow this Rama's name to go to waste”. So he went on repeating Rama's name, the legend says. As Rama kept on shooting the arrows they fell as garlands on the neck of Hanuman. They could not harm him. So this story my Master used to tell so many times, perhaps more than a hundred times in those twenty years. Every time to remind that such faith and devotion that can work wonders.
This faith is not a blind belief. This faith is the self confidence which keeps your mind intact so that you will never be confused in life. So this is the essence of faith, some of the beautiful stories that created such an impact on my childhood mind, to become devoted, go on the path of devotion and later on take up the meditation path and go into the non-duality, when we realized duality, non-duality – all are same and equal. When you are a droplet, you have to worship your ocean. When you are one with the ocean, you no more exist. That is what, when Hanuman was asked, “What is dvaita and advaita?” Meaning - dvaita is duality, advaita is non-duality. Hanuman said, “In duality Rama is my Master and I am His servant. So I am at the Lotus Feet of my Master. In non-duality only Rama exists. I do not exist at all. It is non-duality.”
So that is the essence of bhakti. These are all wide subjects, nothing is really conclusive. When we try to talk it's like trying to measure the space by a measuring tape. We cannot simply tell that the space is seventeen feet long or eighteen feet width, that doesn't happen like that. So whatever we talk for thirty minutes it's a small droplet, a small spark. There is more and more and more like this. This is the essence of bhakti marga through which one can reach the Divinity, the Ultimate Truth, why this is recommended, because everyone is looking for peace and happiness and a secure existence. In spirituality the impermanence of the world is explained. As Adi Shankara tells, “Brahma satyam, jagat mithya” - meaning it is only the Divinity that is the Eternal Existence, that is the total, secure existence.
So in spirituality it is alerted that you cannot depend on this world or this universe for your peace and happiness because this universe itself is impermanent, transitory, including your own physical body. A certain thing that is impermanent, how can it give you a permanent happiness? As a child I used to wonder, “If there is happiness, all the things that come to the mind, it should be there all the time, twenty four hours and twelve months. Why is it? There used to be some confusion, some anxiousness, some excitement, some happiness. Is there something wrong within me? Or something wrong in the world?” That's how I used to wonder. So only a permanent existence can give a permanent happiness. Contentment only can give a permanent happiness. As long as there is no contentment there is no happiness. My Master used to tell, “You are a poor man by desires, when you are contented you are like an Emperor. No one can bend you to your knees, you will always be contented and at peace and happiness.” That is the achievement that one can get through this. In the devotional path it is the acceptance that you learn. When you put in efforts if the results do not come according to your wishes and expectations your mind becomes disappointed, frustrated and you lose all confidence. But if you can surrender and say, “Divine's wishes” then there is acceptance this was to happen like this, and put in efforts again, there is always a hope. That is how the devotional path is taught.
These are some of the basic, essential things that influenced our childhood mind. That is how we went into the bhakti marga. There is more, and more and more always. As I said whatever we talk, it's only a spark. What we have come to know is only a small grain. What we will have to know, what we will have to talk is the space, it is beyond all imagination. Nobody can explain. Simply you have to be there and experience.
May the Divine Master bless you all. I appreciate all your deep patience of listening to us.