A question on duty and spiritual life
Question: Babaji, I am doing my work for several years, like many people and somehow I feel that I can’t control the result. Of course I never can control the result but somehow I feel it’s very difficult to move forward spiritually. I don’t want to leave my duty because my duties are very important and ...
Babaji: You are finding it difficult to go ahead with these duties?
Same questioner: Very difficult
Babaji: And you have questions what to do? You see duty means, normally, in the first place, we would have adopted something in this world, some relationship which becomes so dear to us, some firmness or something dearer to our own body, to sustain our body and any such thing. Then for that purpose we will have to do certain things. Then even if it becomes difficult, we shall have no choice in the world sometimes. If you are doing a business, say you have a family you have to sustain, that becomes a duty, then sometimes you have no choice. You have to accept it as destiny, depending on your temperament. So accept it as destiny.
The idea is finally take care that your mind doesn’t go into a brooding. Whether you continue with that duty or not shall be your personal choice because you will have to face the consequences.
Suppose you don’t want to go for work earning money or any such thing, you want to quietly sit, then you have to face the consequences. To sustain the physical body will become difficult for you, especially in Western countries culturally it is totally different. In countries like India still monkhood can be acceptable somewhere, in some monastery somewhere you could sustain yourself. Also if somebody else is depending on you then the situation becomes more tricky and difficult to abandon. So either way, if you think that you have to take up that, there is no choice and it’s your duty and you have to do it then try to see that the mind doesn’t go into brooding. If you’re not able to give up the business for duties sake and your mind is not accepting that situation then you are wasting physical energy and your mental energy is also getting wasted, consumed and troubled, unnecessarily drained off.
For that only ‘destiny’ is taught in spirituality, when we don’t have any choice, when we have to do this. That’s what we have to adopt. If you go out of that livelihood also, some people who depend on you might blame you, say you didn’t do your duty towards parents or family or whatever it is. If you can bear with that, then you don’t have to do it. You have to find some other means. Otherwise, considering it is a destiny, maybe something good will come out of this also.
The same destiny, like doing a business, can serve as a sadhana for you, if you simply accept the situation, ‘there is no choice, let me do it as a duty. I have to do, I have to sustain certain things, there is no choice. This is the situation. Instead of brooding, let me quietly go.’ So when you do that you will take a little bit of physical pain but mentally you will become more peaceful. This is what one has to adopt, what the spiritual advice is. Otherwise it is always a tricky situation to do or not to do. Any other person cannot advise, even a Guru or even God also, cannot advise. Finally, it will be your choice.
Just for example, even in my case also, for twenty years I didn’t go and do Tapas. I was serving Swamiji. I wanted to do Tapas gradually that also came that I need to achieve Self Realization and that attachment to Swamiji, His physical appearance in this world was equally strong. So I used to observe myself. Both were tremendously strong, so I didn’t allow that to become a conflict. Then I thought, “If I have to serve, let me serve, one day it might come and I will be able to do Tapas, let me not brood at least because I am unable to give up this.” If I wanted to go away from the monastery, sit under a tree and do my sadhana perhaps nobody would have stopped me and Swamiji also would have accepted. A couple of times when I told Him, He ridiculed and asked me to stay back and do service. He just tried to brainwash me, but I accepted that in a friendly way. I also liked it because I loved Swamiji, “OK, it’s a good thing He is doing. Let me not go, maybe I’m not ready.”
Every life has its own toughness, good/bad, right/wrong, everything follows. Suppose, even in India if you want to become a monk, or if you don’t want to stay in a monastery, if you stay in a monastery any monastery will have its own rules, then you have to follow them, you have to work also. Otherwise you have to simply be a wandering monk, nights ending under the tree anywhere you just sleep, and there can be some dangerous situations, some troubles, physical ailments. You have to beg alms, that is known as bhiksha, in spiritual terms, but that was considered very respectable, not just seeking alms for the sake of wanting. It means a person who had renounced all other means of life, earning a livelihood, anything, would assume bhiksha so that people give him alms to sustain his life. So the rest of the time he just devotes to sadhana and nothing else. But that also has its own difficulties. It’s a very hard life. It will have a lot of strenuous things on the physical body. Even some of the great sages like Adi Shankara had to give up His body at an early age. Throughout His life He was walking throughout the length and breadth of the country, working so much all the time that definitely had some effect on His physical body. He had developed very badly boils, all such ailments had come to His body. Then He had to die. So this also happened. So always these tricky situations are there.
Finally, it is a personal decision. Swamiji, when He got initiated into Tapas, He took a personal decision and sat for Tapas. In the beginning, nothing was sure whether anybody would give Him food, whether there will be any shelter or not, how long He will have to go on doing like this, whether any devotees will come or not. Whereas at least, when we came Swamiji had already established an Ashram. At least some type of food was available, whatever type of difficulties were there. We had to simply adjust. So like that we went on adjusting. My temperament I saw was more attached to Swamiji. “As long as He is physically around,” I thought, “I will consider that as my Tapas and sadhana. Let my mind become quiet. One day, if I die like this, I’ll consider that for this purpose only I came to this earth and I should not be reborn again.” That I would always pray to Swamiji to please bless that I should not be reborn. “No problem, whatever the situation whether I can do Tapas or not. It is not a problem. Not that I want to have any glory in this world, want to have a certificate, want people to recognize me as a Yogi. Simply I don’t want to be reborn again, don’t want to see this world.”
Because of my attachment to Swamiji, my destiny was with this Ashram, His Ashram that He had established. It means when that was a destiny that became a duty also. I had to attend to duty whether I liked it or not. Sometimes mind got agitated, certain things I wouldn’t like but I had to do. But very quickly, flexibly I adjusted and went on doing. I thought, “I am not going to brood, I’m not going to complain. Quietly I will do it if this is all that my life is.” Like that I surrendered. At least that surrender helped me in my sadhana, mind receded and became quiet. So finally, when I sat for five years Tapas, that came very easily, very quickly samadhi came, mind went introvert and became quiet because I never used to analyze in those twenty years also. When I ‘accepted and kept quiet’ it means, technically my mind was not analyzing why I am put into this situation? There was no brooding, no complaining to God. I wouldn’t say to God, “Why did you put me like this?” I knew technically, “This is my choice, I love Swamiji, that’s why I’m here. If I want to get out and do Tapas, nobody will stop me, but until that comes, let me be like this.” So that’s how I continued and that helped me achieve the sadhana.
For you all also, these situations would come. Sometimes when you have to be working, doing this test, you may not like the situation, it may be very troublesome, you may expect something and something else might happen. Acceptance is another one that’s very important. If you don’t accept you will lose peace, the mind is always brooding. Thus you will lose your physical energy and mental energy and spiritual growth also will not happen.
These things I learned from certain stories of great spiritual souls, like Jada Bharata’s story sometimes Swamiji used to narrate which told how in one birth if we have an imagination, how that can bring you back to another birth again, even if you are doing sadhana. Jada Bharata gets attached to a young deer that gets thrown in the river, the mother of the young deer had been killed by a leopard. He rescues it from the leopard, brings and looks after, and soon he becomes very attached. Slowly, slowly he tries to look after it so much and his meditation time gets reduced because he becomes totally occupied with looking after that deer. After some time he was old and he had to die. Before dying he laments, “Alas, now who will look after this deer? I am so sorry I couldn’t be alive, I couldn’t look after it.” He dies and because of such mental intensity of thoughts, what happened? Then he was born as a deer in the next birth but because of his sadhana he was moving around a monastery only. Then because of his spiritual sadhana, he was born again, but this time to an ordinary family who were looking after cows and buffalos. He had an elder brother and elder brother’s wife, so he was there. He was born but because of his previous sadhana he kept quiet always. His sister-in-law ill-treated him since childhood all the time. She wouldn’t give him proper food, timely food, only a little bit and if he managed to get some food she would be scolding him or belittling him about something, but he kept quiet. He didn’t bother for anything, he never reacted whether he was humiliated, belittled, scolded, even beaten up also sometimes. So that sister-in-law was ill-treating him. She wouldn’t give him food in time and he wouldn’t demand also, he just kept quiet.
This impressed my mind. I used to think, that means he tried to keep his mind quiet and accepted whatever came on the way, good or bad, right or wrong. Always we try to behave in this world considering ourselves as the physical body, when somebody praises us we get elated and excited. If somebody tries to ill-treat this we feel hurt, “Oh, that is a self-respect thing. They are belittling us.” We feel very agitated, we become troubled mentally. We might react physically also. But I thought, Jada Bharata did not react in the story, he kept quiet. In the end of the story it comes that he was not simply dumb, he remained silent but he had amazing knowledge of the Self.
So the story continues, once the king’s palanquin was going that way, one person who was holding that palanquin in which the king was sitting, had some work to meet relatives in that village, so he called this boy. ‘Jada’ means inert. Everybody thought that this boy was inert, his brain doesn’t work at all. You can beat him, scold him, even spit on him, anything you do and he doesn’t react. That was how he behaved in the village. But he worked for everyone, he helped everyone. Sometimes people used to think, “Ah! With the stories that come this boy does not react. Are we doing the right thing to him? Is it not wrong that we try to belittle him unnecessarily?” Some ladies sometimes used to become affectionate, “Why are these people ill-treating him? We should not. He might be dumb, he may not be able to express his wishes, he may not be able to react, this is very bad.” But most of the people took him for granted always but he kept quiet, unaffected. He always remained composed. He didn’t even cry any time. He didn’t show an angry face. He didn’t show any disappointment.
Then, finally, when this happened he was carrying the palanquin but after some time the king saw that the palanquin in which he was sitting was trembling and in turbulence. The king calls out, ”Yea gods, what is happening?” The other three servants who were carrying the chair said, “This boy is stupid. I don’t know. Our other friend took leave for a while to meet his relatives and put this boy into duty. He doesn’t walk properly, he’s looking down, he’s looking there, and he jumps here and he jumps there. He does this.”
The king was highly spiritual – this is another important point – we are in a society, we are with our friends, but the smallest thing we can misunderstand and lose temper and get annoyed with them, blast at our own friends, our own family people, anything we can do. Afterwards we regret that we failed to understand the situation. If a person is highly spiritual, I felt that person shall have a lot of patience, will try to understand others also, even if they have behaved a little bit upsetting for you, we should try to understand them. Maybe there was a misunderstanding, we wouldn’t have properly communicated with them, that is why this thing happened. No problem. We should not feel offended. So that is the real spirituality, I used to think. That’s how I learned also, in my mind I used to churn these things, analyze them, so we had to be like this. So the one who is highly spiritual will be able to understand other’s temperament also and he will never bother or never abuse others, in fact he will be more compassionate through his love and that is how we should be. That’s how I also learned.
The king was highly spiritual and he thought what could be the reason? Instead of simply losing temper and blasting that servant, that boy, Jada Bharata. The king thought what could be the reason? He asked him. He gave a chance to the boy to explain. “Hey boy, you are supposed to carry this peacefully so that I don’t fall down but you are jumping. Is there any specific reason why you are doing like that?” The king asked affectionately. Then that boy said, “My Lord, when I’m walking I was worried about small ants and other creatures that I should not step on them, so that’s why I am just trying to be careful. I am really sorry for the trouble. Sometimes I had to jump here and there, here and there, so that I don’t step on them.”
When he tells this, the king is astonished. “If this boy who doesn’t seem to be educated, who was looking after buffalos and cows just quietly seems to be so spiritually well-educated, he had so much consideration for those small creatures on the earth he doesn’t want to step on them unnecessarily. He cannot be an ordinary person. He must have some more knowledge, he can teach me also.” Then he invites him to his court and talks to him. Then he gives out that knowledge of the Self, the mind, consciousness, how you have to keep it quiet. “When you keep it quiet you also become purified. Then you will be able to understand each and every creature and you will be very affectionate to them, very compassionate. You won’t lose your temper. So all these things come as a quality.” he tells the king.
So that means he was not really dumb. He had this amazing knowledge yet when he was put in the situation when others could not have understood his spiritual reason, they ill-treated him. That also he did not mind. OK, no problem. He was in the midst of those people and these people they always treated him poorly. He didn’t try to show his spiritual knowledge, he did not ever boast, “This is it. You should not be ill-treating me like this.” He just kept quiet. This story impressed me very much. How beautifully this person had achieved so much contentment and peace within that nobody could disturb him. He always just went on and thought, “No problem, no problem, no problem.” But he had that knowledge.
If we can keep in society in the world like this then we will be spiritually getting purified. And if we are meditating properly, in the right technical way automatically our minds will become purified and we gain this ability to live in the society, to put up with things, have more patience, try to understand others, try to understand the situation. Then a problem will be no problem and any such situation we are ready, whether it is a friendship, whether it is warfare, it’s OK. It means even if we have to fight with somebody, mentally we won’t abuse them, it would be a duty we had to do. “We had to defend our country, for that we are sorry, we cannot help it, we had to defend. But that doesn’t mean that I want any ill-will against you. You also are a valiant soldier. I am also a valiant soldier. Let us fight. You will defend your country, I will defend my country.” That is the duty.
Such a thing can happen, even in the midst of warfare. That is what the Bhagavad Gita teaches to Arjuna. “You have to do this duty, you don’t have a choice, take up your bows and arrows. Even if you love them, you love them no problem. If you don’t have any ill-will, it’s no problem, you don’t have to. At least your mind will be purified, Arjuna, but you may have to kill them, it means you have to kill. Wish them great lokas of their peace and then kill.” This may appear very amusing on the battlefield also, one valiant soldier to the opposing people, he shows his love, affection, respect, that nobility, then he kills and prays for the soul.
See that is sometimes what happens in the world. That family was so fortunate that such a great spiritual soul was born but they couldn’t recognize him, they ill-treated and belittled him, whereas the king who had nothing with him recognized, understood and took that knowledge, he wanted it.