HOW TO TREAT THE PAST?
When we say let the past be the past, it contains a very great truth. It means forgetting because by remembering the past, you will be living the past in your mind, and by stirring up those old memories, you will only suffer in the present. The suffering would be in the present because you always remember the past. Some incidents have happened in your lifetime, and if you keep on thinking about it, that memory is sure to bring about guilt in your mind and the most significant disease in the world today is not heart disease and neither cancer but a sense of guilt.
Why am I feeling guilty at the present moment because of something happening in the past when the past is not here anymore? To get rid of guilt while forgetting the past, not remembering the past, we analyse the sense of guilt. But as soon as you think of examining the guilt, the past reappears again on the screen of your mind. Remember the word “analyse” and not “live” in the past when we examine the past. The analysis is different than remembering the past, for you know well that the greatest gift God could give to a man is the ability to be able to forget. If we had to remember everything that has happened in the past, life would become miserable.
So, we must discriminate between rearing and analysing the past. In analysis, you objectify the past, while in remembering, in the past, you subjectify it. You re-live the past. In analysis, you observe what has happened in the past, and you try to analyse what were the causes of it. Perhaps you are not to blame for your actions. You might have been in a particular mental turmoil. There might have been circumstances that surrounded you at that time that forced you to do the action you did. You know the lovely story by Victor Hugo, “Les Misérables,” where Jean Valjean was forced into the circumstances; seeing his children starving, he went to steal a loaf of bread for which he suffered a lot. Did the character in Victor Hugo’s book do something wrong? Which was the lesser or greater evil? Which was darkness, and which was light? Should he allow his children to die of starvation, or was it better for him to steal a loaf of bread for them and not for them?
THE SPIRIT WITHIN YOU IS FOREVER DIVINE AND FOREVER GOOD
In life, one has to choose between two evils, and we choose the lesser evil. If that produces guilt in your mind, then you feel guilty: why did I do this? What caused me to do this? What was the mental chemistry then that forced me to do this? Because inwardly, every person has that goodness and underlying the goodness, there is also darkness.
You know the old saying, “Nobody is so good that there is no little bad, and no one is so bad that has no good in him.” So, remembering the past is not the answer. That leads to greater misery, and it leads to guilt. But analysis of the past means we are trying to understand the past. We try to understand the motivation that made us perform such an action, and if you find that you are forced into certain circumstances, which ninety-nine percent of all actions would prove, then you do not need to feel guilty about it.
I was invited to one of the biggest prisons near Chicago to give a talk last year. We have a prison programme in America to rehabilitate prisoners – because a prison is not where you punish someone. A prison is a place where you rehabilitate someone. So, we introduced this program in this Chicago prison. I believe it to be one of the largest in America, and of course, from there, it is spreading to various other States. I had to give a talk there, so I told those prisoners there, “You are in prison, why are you in prison? You might have been a rapist. You might have murdered someone. You might have stolen. You might have done one of so many things. Why did you do it? It could have been due to many reasons. Firstly, the force of circumstance. Secondly, through an imbalanced mind, where at that time you could not discriminate between right and wrong, and all your actions were regarded to be anti-social because of the social norms society has put upon us. But does that make you a bad person? You are judged by society to be bad, but are you terrible? No. The Spirit within you is forever Divine and forever good. So do not think of the actions you have done in the past. A better thing to do is to repent, and repentance itself has analysis built into it, to try to find the cause, and when you find the cause, the guilt will disappear.”
IN THE EYES OF DIVINITY, WE ARE ALL EQUAL
Sometimes, it is a fallacy to say that we can learn from the past to build a future. Yes, you can. But it will become fallacious if you just remember the past. Then, you cannot build upon it. The secret is how to get out of the darkness and into the light of life; how does one reconcile this issue? Firstly, by analysis. Secondly, with the analysis, you come to the cause of things and then ask, “Was I forced into this? What was my mental condition?”
I personally would love a rapist. I love a murderer. I love everyone. The saint or the sinner. For who is a sinner? You are not a sinner. You never have been a sinner. Only society brands you to be a sinner. But are you a sinner in the eyes of God? Do you think God’s Grace would fall equally upon those considered flawed and those deemed good? If you were a sinner, then Divinity would discard you. But in His eyes, no one is a sinner. Everyone is equal, but your mind is conditioned by society, which makes you a sinner. Right from the time you were born and started getting some understanding, your parents and everyone around you forced upon you, “Do not do this and do not do that and do not do that.” Then you go to school, and the teachers say, “Do not, do not, do not do this and do not do that and that and that and that.” Then you grow up more and mix with adults; they all have particular norms.
Something could be a sin in one country and not in another. These are all moral laws; man, not God, makes all morality.
The thing to think about is purity, not morality. Will you live your life according to man’s or God’s laws? That is the question one must ask himself. My ideas might be revolutionary, but they are within the norms of God’s laws. So, returning to the past and remembering it and feeling guilty and miserable is not the way to progress. The way of progress is to say, “Okay, I have done this. Why did I do it? If I find that I have done something wrong, I would meditate, become in a peaceful, quiet state of mind and then pray sincerely, Lord forgive me, for I did not know what I did.” Did Christ not say on the cross, “Forgive them, Father, they do not know what they do?”. You say that to yourself. You ask the Father the same thing. “Forgive me, Father, I did not know what I did.” If you knew what you did, you would not have done it. It was a mental perversion, a kind of madness that made you act anti-social or, if not anti-social, harmful to others and yourself.
WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF THE DIVINE
Always remember one thing: that when you harm someone else, you are hurting yourself more. Because you will never forget that, and there is the torture and suffering for it. But after having done these things, the solution is to bring the mind to a quiet state, and then in that analysis, repentance is involved and say, “May I have the strength to refrain from doing it again”.
So, at this prison talk, which was televised, I gave them hope. “You are all children of the Divine. Some little thing happened that put you here behind bars. But now look at it from the other side: when you were outside, you had so many million worries; you had this to do, that to do, and that to do. But now you are inside. What can you do? You can meditate.” So, we started teaching them meditation and spiritual practices. “Meditate and bring yourself together so you will be a better person when you leave these iron gates and not repeat what you have done. But have hope. Have courage that you are the children of God. And here you have plenty of time to sit, think, and analyse”.
REPENTANCE PUT INTO ACTION HAS GREAT VALUE
Why are all of you not going to prison, the prison of your little room, the iron bars, because then society will ostracise you? How often do we find a person with a criminal record unable to get a job? You see how society treats you. It is a cruel, cruel world. But I am not going to be brutal. Say that to yourself; I will not be cruel to myself by punishing myself by remembering repeatedly instead of analysing it.
People say, “Oh, forget the past.” That could never happen; you could never forget the past. It will always come up in the mind, and the only time when it cannot come up in the mind is when you resolve the problem within yourself through repentance and with a sincere feeling within, saying, “So I have killed a man, why can I not go around and try to save some people’s lives.” Become a lifesaver or do other work where you can make people happy if you have made someone unhappy before.
So, repentance, a self-analysis, can also be put into action, and it has the most outstanding value if it is put into action. “I have made my mother unhappy,” you would say. Are all the women in the world, not your mothers? If your mother is not there anymore to make amends, make someone else happy, for example. There are many nursing homes and poor, lonely older women living alone. Because of your actions, you have made someone blind. Go to some blind people, a Blind Institution, for example, speak to them, give them comfort. They cannot see, they cannot read. Spend an hour or two reading for them, some book that they might want to, perhaps interested in, and you will bring joy and happiness to other’s lives. To bring joy into other people’s lives is one of our principles, and that is one means whereby we can get rid of our karma, and that is how we lead ourselves from darkness to light.
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya. Lead me from untruth to truth.
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya. Lead me from darkness to light.
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya. Lead me from mortality to immortality.
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih. Om Peace, Peace, Peace
LIGHT AND DARKNESS WILL FOREVER COEXIST
It is a beautiful prayer. Remembering the past all the time will not help you to build upon it into a better future. It is by resolving the past that one can build a better future. Although, of course, you learn from your mistakes. But let the mistakes not always be so dominant in the mind. Let the essence of the mistake be: I have done so much wrong – two and two made four; I will not think of the two and two anymore. Let me think of the four and how I can build them into five, six, seven and eight. That is how darkness and light could coexist, yet the light could dominate. Take a little flame like in our emblem; when the lamp is burning, there will be darkness under the lamp. The light is there, but under the bulb, there will be some darkness, some shade. So, what do we take notice of? When you look at a lamp burning, do you look at the light, or do you look at the darkness? You look at the light. For light and darkness will forever coexist. Without darkness, there cannot be light; without light, there cannot be darkness.
We have put the lights on in this hall. Do you think you have destroyed the darkness? No. No. You have covered darkness over with light. For as soon as you put these lights off, darkness is there. How can you say you have destroyed darkness if it can return by putting off the lights? It can never be destroyed. Nothing is destructible. These forces will always be there, but where is your emphasis? When you look at the lamp, are you going to look under the lamp to find the shade, the darkness there? No. You do not do that. Likewise, when you look at the light only, darkness does not exist for you, but the darkness has not disappeared. The darkness has merged into light. So, it Is a question of mergence and not of destruction.
Like the individual mind, which is so limited, and limitation is darkness. It can be merged into the limitless, which is light, and yet you can still preserve individuality. It will be there. It is always there until you reach the totality, even beyond the God that we worship, even beyond that, the eternal essence, then only everything is merged away. You are in the area of nothingness. When I say God, I mean the Personal Deities or the Personal Gods into the realm of the Impersonal, as I have said before. This nothingness is the everythingness that empowers this entire universe.
WE HAVE TO RISE ABOVE THE LAW OF THE OPPOSITES
As one progresses, you rise above light and darkness. You rise above the law of opposites, for the law of opposites will always remain in relative existence. When you go beyond the law of opposites, you are no longer conscious of the law of opposites. So, what is, is. What is, is. You cannot destroy relativity, and you cannot eliminate the Absolute. But transcending the law of opposites, you become the observer of the law of opposites. Then, excellent and bad disappears. I think I have told you the story of the Tibetan Yogi Milarepa. He says, “When I was young, I did black deeds, and when I grew up, I had some more sense, and I did white deeds. But now, having reached a stage, I do neither.” It means you have risen above them, and nothing can affect you when you rise above the law of opposites. If you feel pleasure today, you can be sure the day after tomorrow you will feel pain. Pain and pleasure, good and bad, are two sides of the same coin. They are made of the same energy, as light and darkness coexist. Forever so.
The secret is to go beyond, to rise above, and the only way to increase above is to rise above the conscious level of the mind through spiritual practice. You reach the superconscious level, and then you are at a vantage point whereby you can observe all these happenings. You will find the shade. You will see darkness. You will find light. You will find night. You will find a day. For, after all, what is the difference between night and day? Nothing at all. The sun is there all the time. Light is there all the time. It is just the world rotating. That is all. And the sun is hidden in the other half of the world, and then this half seems dark.
Does that mean light has disappeared, darkness has come, or darkness has disappeared, and light has come? No. This is how the universe functions and as it will always function and has functioned since eternity. So, to escape our sufferings and miseries, we rise above it. In the same way, the past must remain the past. The past is gone, the future might not come, and the present is here. The seesaw goes up and down, good and bad, past and future, but when you stand in the middle of the seesaw, the seesaw stands still because no pressure is put on either side. You are standing in the centre, and the seesaw stands still for you, although either end still exists.
To stand in the centre of light and darkness, past and future, you have to stand in the centre, and where is the centre? The centre is there within yourself. So, to be rid of all these things in the world, one reaches the centre of oneself, the Kingdom of Heaven within. One gets the centre, and that is the aim and goal of all life. That is where evolution pushes us onward and onward, and our minds are the blocks in the path. If I cannot see the truth in anything, there is nothing wrong with the truth. If I cannot see the goodness in any man, there is nothing wrong with the man. What is wrong with me? I am the stumbling block. I am the block that prevents me from seeing the truth or prevents me from seeing the goodness in man.
WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE
If I see anything wrong in anyone, then be sure to know that I am projecting my limitations and mental projection onto the other person. Because who can judge who? You only consider a person by his outward appearance or actions. What do you know of his Spiritual Self? What do you know of his authentic self and how good he is?
A thief, smash and grab thief, he broke into a shop and stole a few canned peas or beans, and as he was running away, he heard the police whistles. But as he was running away, he saw a small child on the road and a car was coming fast. While running away, he stopped, picked up the child, and brought it to the sidewalk, the pavement we call it in England. He took the child to safety and started running away again. Of course, he was caught and paid his just dues for what he did. Which is the greater good of the two? Stealing the few tins of canned peas or beans in the shop or saving the child. Is he not good, or is he good? So, we could never judge a man’s actions.
Did I tell you the story of this guru – he spent so much time in jail? Good man. People thought he was mad. When he saw a policeman nearby, he used to pinch a sweet from one of the shops or something, and the police were called, and he was arrested. He would do some petty, silly thing, like throwing a stone into a little glass window and being caught or this and that. So, one day, his chelas that could not understand him approached him and said, “Guru, this is not right; you are landing up in jail all the time, doing these things.” So, the guru says, “Do you know I am so much more needed inside the jail than outside the jail? Outside, you can have so many teachers to teach you, but who will teach those poor beggars inside? So therefore, I go, and so many of these people there have become better people”. Then the chelas’ eyes were opened. “Ah, how stupid of us to think so badly of the guru because we did not understand the guru”. How can we understand the guru’s actions when we are not gurus? He might do damn silly things, but it is for a purpose.
Can you understand the purpose of a guru? If you cannot understand the motivations and purpose of your friend that you know so well or your wife, husband, or children, how dare we presume the doings of a guru or even of God, for example? How often do we have thoughts and say, “Oh, what a God that is, this is going on, and I am suffering here, and I am having a hard time?” And we blame Him, “What kind of God is that when he is supposed to be all loving and merciful? Why does He not have that love and mercy for me instead of making me struggle and suffer so much?” We habitually judge our wives, brothers, sisters, children, friends, gurus and even God with our little minds. Is that not stupid of us?
All this goes into the framework of the past because it is the past that has conditioned us to think that way. But now we have the chance to gain a greater awareness so that our whole perspective and viewpoint and angle of seeing things is different. So, you cannot forget the past, but with proper analysis and because of those experiences, we can modify our future behaviour. If you have to judge, judge yourself and no one else. Judge yourself and think of no one else. “Judge Ye not that Ye will be judged.” Who are we to judge?
GOOD AND BAD ARE IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER
Everything in this world is doing good to me. The rain is doing good to me. The sun is doing good to me. It makes the food grow so that I can eat and survive. The air is doing good to me so I can breathe and live. Look around at everything. Look at the meadows, fields, hills, and vales; they are all doing good to me. They are filling my heart with their beauty, and looking at it reminds me of the essence of the beauty that created it. Everything. A child’s little gurgle. A child’s little smile. How beautiful! How innocent? How much that little child is doing for me? How much? The suckling baby at the mother’s breast. How beautiful is the gurgle there? It reminds you how the Lord eternally feeds us.
Even before the child is born, that Divine energy puts milk into the mother’s breasts. With a greater awareness, we can observe and see that everything is light. Everything is beautiful. Good and evil are but in the eyes of the beholder. “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder,” it says, but good and evil, too, are in the beholder’s eye. If I was not bad, I could never see bad. If I am good, I can only see good. “Love Thine enemy.” It is easy to love thy friend. But if you love thy enemy, then you are a “Man.”
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang UK 1983 – 05