The purpose of meditation is primarily to integrate oneself, integrate the three aspects of ourselves: the body, the mind, and the Spirit. This can never be accomplished overnight, and it takes time where a gradual integration takes place if we do our spiritual practices regularly.
Therefore, we insist on the program of self-help. Self-help requires a lot of discrimination where one has to discriminate which road to take when one reaches the fork. This cannot just come about on its own. In total integration or being quite high on the ladder of integration, one intuitively would take the right fork in the road, but when we are still floundering and finding our way, we are stuck at the fork.
One of the ways is to use one’s discrimination. Discrimination increases with greater integration simultaneously with the intuitive abilities, but if we are stuck and do not have the discriminatory power, what are we to do? That is the most difficult question that could ever be asked and which philosophers through the ages have flaunted over.
WITH ACCEPTANCE COMES COURAGE
One principle comes to the fore; that is a question of acceptance. Firstly, we accept two factors; that I am not integrated, and I have not got the power of discrimination to choose which road to take. When this acceptance begins, a force is activated within us that gives us courage. With acceptance comes courage, the courage to realise that even if I take the wrong road, that will still be my learning.
Our minds have been conditioned throughout the ages by all our thoughts and deeds, from the primal spark when man began through his whole evolutionary process; all the experiences gained through ages and ages have formed conditioning to the mind. The mind could be conditioned so that it would find difficulty in recognising the truth or the right road.
How do we uncondition the mind? There again, we rely upon discrimination, meditation, and acceptance. Because of the laws of karma, the patterning of our minds, and the aggregate of the samskaras of which we are made, we will have to face our weaknesses; we will have to face the mistakes that our actions have created. But if the attitude is there, I am going to learn from these very things happening in my life. Let us not be like the moth that flies to the flame all the time, knowing very well that it will burn itself and end itself as a moth. The very first inkling of the warmth, the heat of the flame should turn the moth away, but yet the moth is so patterned that it is forever drawn to its death.
CHANGE OF ATTITUDE
Mahasng has some discriminating power, not total discrimination, but some reasoning power; he accepts that whatever comes, I will face it. The very negative experience that might come will lose its sting by facing it with courage. It will not be as powerful as it would have been otherwise, so with the courage, one has, one will naturally have greater acceptance. The one feeds the other, acceptance gives courage, courage engenders greater acceptance, and that is how man’s attitude towards life and attitude toward his environment gradually changes.
Total self-transformation cannot come overnight. We are patterned conditioned creatures. We have to uncondition. With the change of attitude, greater hope is born. When greater hope is born, it helps greater courage again. Greater courage helps greater acceptance. It is all interconnected with each other. Very consciously and with the help of our meditation, we change our attitude towards life, and experiences are necessary for life to bring us to the attitude, to the understanding that all there is, and whatever experience I am having has been brought upon me.
In other words, we develop another quality—the quality of taking responsibility upon ourselves for ourselves and the environment created around us. The environment has not created you; you have created the environment, and if the environment has negative forces in it and if you are strong enough, those forces will never affect you. Still, because we are weak, those forces can attack us. But with this attitude that I stand firm as a rock amidst all these dashing waves, then all the negative experiences, unpleasant experiences lose their power, lose their force and then we can say in the words of the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, that the whole world around me can turn mad and I do not lose my head. Those are not the exact words but is a gist of the meaning.
With acceptance comes courage. With courage comes, this beautiful attitude, with that attitude is created a sense of self-responsibility, the recognition that I am what I am because of what I have been. When one creates this attitude, automatically, our eyes open. Automatically, the intuitive flow starts flowing, a clearing up of the samskaras start taking place, and when that clears up, and you stand at the fork, you will spontaneously take the right road. That is the other way that comes about even before a great level of integration is reached. Even though this road, even though this path, a greater and greater integration comes about, and there is nothing in life that has not got some positivity in it.
You know the old saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining”. Everything we do has something very beautiful in it. You know the story of two men digging holes. One said, “I am digging a grave,” the other said, “I am digging for the foundation of a cathedral.” To develop a positive attitude towards life does not require great discriminatory powers. It does not require a great intellect. As the attitude changes, everything becomes more and more beautiful. This flower is beautiful to me now, but if my attitude towards it changes that, “ah, how did this flower grow? What powers of Divinity have come together to make this flower so beautiful?” Then this flower becomes more and more beautiful to me because beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, attitude again.
With this change of attitude, with this idea of being self-responsible for all experiences and happenings, a great faith develops in us. We come to a little inkling, little recognition, that there is something more than what I am just experiencing. What is that? What is that something that energises my destiny? I know my destiny is formulated by my karma; whatever I have sown that I must reap. I am the product of the experiences of millions of years. I am a bundle of impressions; I am a bundle of samskaras. But underlying the mechanism of worldly life, by accepting self-responsibility, we recognise that there is an underlying force that makes karma work. An underlying force gives truth to the principle that whatever you sow, you will reap.
As we gain some recognition or some faith of the underlying force, a greater hope is born, and that hope gives you more courage again, more acceptance, more self-responsibility again. All these qualities are interrelated, interdependent all the time, and it all starts with acceptance. If I am blind or lame, I should not sit and say, “Oh, I am lame, I am lame, I am blind, I am blind”. I accept that I am blind today; I am lame today because of my karma. I have brought it upon myself, and I accept it.
IN EVERY ADVERSITY, THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY
How do I use the limitations? Take the example of Helen Keller, the blind woman. What great work she did in this world. Take the example of so many people; so many great men and women that with deformities or distinct disadvantages turn them into advantages for know this to be true that in every adversity there is an opportunity; but accept the adversity first in its true value that this adversity has come about because of my own doing, and by accepting that a calmness dawns in one’s mind. And when that calmness comes about by the acceptance of the adversity, automatically, you get the clue of the opportunity. Then, action act upon the opportunity that is there. See the silver lining and not the darkness of the cloud, and that is how all our sufferings diminish. They become less and less and less, and as they become less and less, greater integration comes about. These very ideas of acceptance and the action that follows, the very sense of self-responsibility, stir this force; it activates the spiritual force conducive to this integration, to this wholeness about that we always talk. Then, even if the road has forks, we say, “So what? So what?”
Two kinds of people can say, “So what?” the irresponsible, he says, “So what?” and the responsible will say, “I accept that there is some power behind all these. So, what if this happens to me? What is the worst that could happen to me? I will die.” Is that real death, or is it just a changing from one body unto another? Perhaps I need that, and that is how, with this attitude, the fear of taking the wrong road disappears, and when that fear disappears, and you are on the wrong road, the recognition dawns that this is the wrong road, and it will make you turn to the right one. You might have to make a little detour, but that detour is the very experience you need because of your karma. That is the very experience you need to obliterate those samskaras. That is the experience you need to re-pattern the mind into the positive channel, for negativity decreases when positivity increases. When negativity increases, positivity will decrease. If you can picture two wedges upon each other, at the thin end of negativity, the wedge of positivity will be thicker in this rectangle and the same at the other side where positive is little; negativity is large in this rectangle.
IF GOD IS WITH YOU, WHO CAN BE AGAINST YOU
The path becomes clear as we proceed through these various principles I have outlined. One comes to the recognition of the underlying force, which is none else but Divinity and as the saying goes, “If God is with you, who can be against you?” I get pricked by the stem of this rose. Do I think all the time of that thorn, or do I observe and look and enjoy the fragrance and the beauty of the flower of the rose? Perhaps that prick of the thorn was necessary for me to take my attention to the rose? I accept that fact. That is what I want. I want a rose, not the thorn, but yet the rose was not possible without the thorn; I accept that they will always be as long as this universe exists.
In the play of the three gunas that we have spoken about so many times before, there will always be a negative and a positive force, there will always be this contraction and expansion all the time, and by being involved in it, we rise above it. We experience these things, all these things will come, all these things will come because we too are a product of those opposing forces, but the attitude that is of prime importance. I am so fond of this other little stanza, and I have quoted it a million times, two men behind prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars, attitude.
That is the secret of life, the attitude we have developed, and how do we get the attitude? By Satsang, being in the association of truthful people, being in the association for the enquiry into truth. This can be achieved through persons getting together with a common purpose. Does the Bible not say that “if two are gathered in my name, I am there?” This is so beautifully gained, and this changes one’s attitude more and more to greater and greater positivity.
Good association, good reading instead of cheap novels helps to influence the mind to a better attitude towards life. As I said before, it does not require great intellect, or it does not require great discriminatory powers or great intelligence. It is not necessary. If it was necessary, then what hope would there be for the illiterate? But each and everyone remembers, literacy or illiteracy, great intelligence or no intelligence, a highly developed intellect of an Einstein or the street sweeper, all these things are matters of the mind, they are not matters of the Spirit, and wherever we are standing, we can reach and touch and be touched by the mortal Spirit within us.
Suppose we understand these very simple principles, our Attitude changes. We feel elated that this top is running, but someone had to spin it, there is a force there that keeps it spinning and spin it must, for that is how the entire universe functions, motion, motion, motion all the time for if it stands still for one second, one fraction of a second, the entire universe will collapse. This will be there all the time, and as I said, to have the attitude to rise above it, to be regular in one’s meditations and become one with that universal force, then life is transformed. Life is none else but joyous, blissful. I have often said that all this is but a preparation for that moment of total bliss, and once you have tasted that bliss, all these become nothing, nothing, nothing.
IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD
Not that we extricate ourselves, not that we involve ourselves more and more and more, but we have the attitude that I am in the world but not of the world. That is Attitude. That is strength. That is how one stands still amidst all the motion and commotion. You stand still for “Be still and know I am God.” What could disturb it? Let the world go to hell. What could disturb the stillness in me and once I find that stillness, my whole idea change, and I try to take the world that is in hell, I try to move it up to heaven, to the heaven that I am experiencing, attitude.
These are simple moral, ethical procedures to develop those attitudes. By accepting, come what may, I am not going to allow it to disturb me or spoil the equilibrium for which I am striving. It is not going to detract, attitude. A big quarrel happens with your wife. Something went wrong; perhaps she was not so good. Am I going to let that disturb me? I will be disturbed on the surface, but within the knowledge of the surface, I also know the stillness that is within me, that is beyond all disturbance. For even the greatest sage is disturbed, for he too is subjected to the laws of nature. He, too, is governed as long as he has a body. He, too, is governed by the law of the three gunas. But his anger is momentary; his disturbance is just a flicker. This wave’s flame is a little disturbed, and then immediately, it comes still again.
LOVE FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE AND NOT BECAUSE OF NEED
By practising all these things, acceptance and assuming responsibility for one-self changes the Attitude towards life and that Attitude which is changed breathes in our love so overpowering that I will even start loving the one that does me wrong. What do I love? I do not need to love; I do not need a person; I love a person for the sake of loving the person and not because of need. That is in family life; one reaches that.
In work, I do work for the sake of work; it is my job, my duty. There might be influences there in the office. I always say if you put five animals in a cage, they can live together harmoniously but put five humans together in one room, and they will start fighting. So, if it is not very conducive in the work-life, we observe it all. We are a witness to that, and I will not be disturbed; I will keep on doing my work as faithfully, as sincerely and as adequately as I can.
Family life and work-life are the two most important factors that consume all our time, except some hours spent sleeping. By family life, I mean the wife or husband and the parents, the children. Suppose these are brought to a balance because of my attitude towards life. In that case, my social life and environment are automatically improved. If I can be still within myself in my home and work, then I can be still anywhere in the world, in any circumstances in the world because I have the strength of acceptance, I dare to accept. Does the Bible not say if you are smacked in one cheek, give the other? Am I going to be disturbed by that one slap? No, take the other two, for what is this after all? Am I going to be affected by your anger? I must be angry within myself first to be affected by your anger, or I have the seeds of anger within myself. I am trying to protect me, me – that self-centred me, that self-centred me has overpowered me so much that I built this wall around me so that nothing could affect me.
But the secret is not in building the wall; it lies in breaking down the wall and allowing everything to effect and not be affected. That is the secret. Too beautiful for words. That comes from inner stability. Inner stability means integration. This comes about through meditational practices and through this program of self-help, which starts with acceptance and courage and being self-responsible and change of attitude and all these things comprised and composes self-help. If we have a certain amount of integration within ourselves through our meditational practices, if we have the self-help programme which we do consciously in the waking state of life, we automatically draw this great force, we call it Gurushakti. This grace we draw upon ourselves where it, in turn, feeds our self-help programme, which in turn strengthens our meditations. These three things work together. There is your trinity of practical living. There is eternity of practical living all the time, all the time.
… Gururaj Ananda: Satsang SA 1978 – 86