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WE CLING TO THE TRANSITORY VALUE OF LIFE
In the relative life, the only thing that is sure is change, and we cling to the changes, the transitory value of life because we find security. I have given you an example before, in the Himalayas, a person has an accident and is lying in the snow. Such a warmth envelops him that he does not want to get up. If he would only exert his will to get up and walk around a bit to circulate his blood, he would be saved; he would live. But he loses his life in that warmth he has found lying in the snow. That is the daily experience of all of us; because we are afraid of the unknown, we stick to that which is familiar. We adhere to what is expected, even though it is so unpleasant to us and brings so much suffering to us.
Common sense would tell us that we should evaluate relative existence with all its changes and try to see how beneficial these changes are to us. We can still live in the changes and change the differences; that is the secret of life. What do we change? We change that which is forever evolving into changelessness, wherein stability can be found. The fear of facing the future or turning away from that with which we are so familiar is a sure sign of instability, a sure sign of a lack of faith and a sure sign of the disbelief of Divinity.
What prevents us from wanting to change, although inwardly we wish to get away from the suffering? Yet we are so tied down, bogged down, because of how we have been conditioned. As we have always discussed, our minds are nothing but a product of conditioning. I have known people, for example, in a restaurant who do not want to try a different kind of food; they are afraid.
TAKE A CALCULATED RISK
How much joy is missed in life because we do not want to change? We are afraid because of insecurities, instabilities, and a lack of trust. The most incredible thing in life, which could ever be achieved, is not always to mind your step but to take a leap. All the greatest things created in this world, from the most fantastic bridges to the tallest skyscrapers, everything, you name it, is because a person was prepared to leap.
Even in leaping, it should not be blind leaping. As a business person would say, take a calculated risk. But are we prepared to risk our little ego, that little ego that wants us to cling, and cling and cling, to life? There is nothing wrong with clinging to life because everything is life, but what is our understanding of life? That is the question. Does life only mean the conditionings of which our minds are a product? Does life only mean the mundane things we attach so much importance to? Is that real life, and is that living? Most of us do not live; we just exist.
BE PREPARED FOR CHANGE
In this just existing, we drift like a rudderless boat. So, there must come a time when a person must accept a higher value than life’s ordinary, mundane, changing values. There are a few kinds of people that would be prepared for change. The one type of person that would change is he that reaches rock bottom when his life has become too much for him. He has gained the ground, and when one falls to rock bottom, there is only one way he can go, which is up. So, remember, when people go through the direst misery, there is always an upward surge coming; it is an infallible law. When we go through the worst suffering, do know that there is something better in store, the storm before the calm, that will inevitably happen.
The other kind of person that wants to change his whole lifestyle would be the person that has gained some understanding. It would be the person that has seen the futility of his current lifestyle and very consciously wants to alter that lifestyle. The former person is forced to change his lifestyle. The latter person to which many of us belong intends to intentionally alter that lifestyle, and we gain some understanding in wanting to change that lifestyle consciously. At first, it is a mental understanding. Later, cognitive understanding, with the help of conscious effort and effortless meditation, becomes a realisation where every hatred can be turned into love, and adversity can be turned into an opportunity.
One must not expect dramatic changes because that which starts very dramatically can also end very dramatically, and you are back to square one. Proper changes in life and changing one’s lifestyle must come gradually, and as it comes slowly, the greater force it would have, and the more significant impact it would have upon us. Have you ever seen a flower growing immediately after you plant a seed? When a housewife cooks, have you ever noticed she was putting the pot on the stove and removing it in two seconds? No, it takes time; it takes time.
Therefore, one must cultivate patience, and the very patience produced is a joy if we understand why we are growing tolerance. As days go by, and we develop newer and newer understandings, deeper and deeper insights, our attitude towards life changes radically, sometimes unperceptively to us, but so noticeable by others. “But, this is not the same person I knew six months ago.”
INFUSING THE CHANGELESSNESS INTO THE CHANGE
As one progresses, it becomes encouraging, and the more encouragement one receives, observes, observes, and feels, the quicker the path goes. So, we essentially have to wake up from this deep sleep that we are in that is causing us suffering. And in that awaken-ness, that wakefulness, in that awareness, we would find that we have stopped existing, but now we have started living. When a person lives, he inevitably will see life around him. By that, we do not mean people are walking about, birds are flying, and animals are moving around. We can only see that movement according to the amount of understanding we have. But when we live, then we see pulsating life around us, and the pulsation of life is the very joy of life.
We would see activity in everything around us, for there is nothing in the relative field of life that ever stands still. Even this human body changes every seventeen days, where old cells are destroyed, and new cells are built up. You are not the same person physiologically today that you were seventeen days ago. Everything is forever, ever-changing. But by living, by learning to live, we would find the beauty in the relative change. As we progress on this path and see the beauty in the relative difference, we spontaneously infuse the changelessness into the shift, thereby enhancing the value of change. But that does not come about sleeping; it comes about by being awake.
Theological people would say, “Be awake to the glory of God.” So, there are many ways to achieve this. The scientist that wants to find himself can see that life through his microscope and see things teeming with life. An artist can see the living life in the colours he blends in his painting. The shoemaker can see the very life in the leather he stitches, a carpenter in the table he makes, the musician in his music. Everything has to be appreciated at its most total value.
THE WAY OUT OF THE MESS
Our comprehension of things is at a very superficial level, and because it is at a superficial level, we cannot enjoy something very much. And when we cannot enjoy, we experience the opposite of joy, which brings us misery and suffering.
There is only one way out of the mess. The way out of the mess is to awaken ourselves, awaken the mind and the Heart through our practices, so that it could be attuned with that which is higher than us, to that which has permanency. Yet this permanency does not deny the transiency of life. The whole secret is to which we attach the importance. If we keep on connecting the most significant importance to the transience, we will block off the permanency. All transience’s in the relative, or all impermanence’s, if looked at its most acceptable value, that impermanency is permanent. When we look at the ocean, we see only the waves, and we see the tides are changing all the time, changing, changing all the time. But if our awareness is broadened, we will see the waves and the whole ocean, and we know the sea is permanent. The tides are changing.
It means that change and changelessness are part and parcel of each other. There can never be the enduring value of life if there is no change, and there could be no changing things in life if there were not that permanency. Both are two sides of the same coin. We are not to neglect one for the other. We must appreciate the change and, at the same time, that which is changeless. That is the secret of life.
THIS LIFE IS SO, SO VALUABLE
I am repeating the secret of life from various angles; that is why I say “That” is the secret of life. If “That” is the secret of life, what is “That”? “That” is the eternal factor, the infinite factor that governs the entire universe; it does not only control the whole universe from standing outside the universe but by being infused, by being the very essence of the universe. And that we have to discover in our path towards self-realisation. Self-realisation is self-integration, and no person on earth can be pleased until he is self-integrated.
Happiness, too, has levels. The more integration, the greater the pleasure. And that is the path we follow through all the changing facets of life, to the changeless value of life, and then bringing the changeless value of life into everything that changes.
It sounds paradoxical but possible. We start from change, get to the changeless, and from changeless, we come back to the change. But we do not come back empty-handed; we bring changelessness with us to infuse it in all that is changing around us. And that makes us live and appreciate the real meaning and value of life. This life is so, so valuable, so, so helpful. If you believe in evolution, you will realise that from the first primal atom, how that atom has progressed. It has gone through various changes and forms until it reached the mineral stage, and even in the mineral stage, so many changes have taken place. From there to the plant stage, all these various species, all these various experiences, for everything experiences and everything is an experience. And through the species of the animal stage, and then finally to the stage of man, where man can say that “I am created in the image of God.”
OUR REAL ESSENCE IS CHANGELESS
Man has the consciousness to appreciate that he is created in the image of God because man has the thinking power. The previous stages of existence in evolution could not discriminate. Man can determine, and it is our folly not to be able to discriminate between that which is forever changing and that which is changeless. The power of discrimination, “Viveka”, as they call it in Sanskrit, is there only for this purpose, to be able to discriminate between the changing and the unchanging, in other words, to discriminate between the relative and the Absolute. For the Absolute is our natural essence.
Our real essence is changeless, while all the change manifests the changeless. When we combine the value of changelessness and change in our lives, we live a whole life. We do not live an entire life now, but those who have started on the path of self-integration, as they go on with conscious effort in their daily living, will appreciate and reach that point where life is all joy.
EVEN THE POLARITIES CAN BE SO HELPFUL
Seeing that we are involved in the change and interested in this universe composed of the Gunas, which we have spoken about many times, there will be pairs of opposites, pleasure and pain, heat and cold, sun and snow. We will have that, but once we have realised the value of pain and pleasure, neither of them would affect us; for the greater pleasure you experience, remember, you have cultivated the capacity to experience just as significant pain. So, with the increase of that sensitiveness, your pleasures could be very high, and your pains could also be just as high.
So, what do we do? We take the two ends of the stick, the polarity involved in the law of opposites, and through our practices, we gradually come to the centre of the stick, where there is a balance. And when one reaches the balance, no great pleasure or praise lifts us, and no significant pain or displeasure throws us down because we have risen above just mere existence. We have risen above the pairs of opposites. We have risen above the polarity that is the constituent of this earth. And yet these very polarities could be so helpful.
In electricity, we have the positive current and the negative current. Do remember that although their values differ, the positive and negative current are not opposed to each other. In the two extremities they represent, they co-operate in such a way as to produce light. So, all these things constitute life, but our understanding of what life is all about would take us above all the changes we see around us. And that means to become centred within ourselves.
GOING BEYOND THE LAW OF OPPOSITES
The purpose of all our meditations, the goal of all our practices, is to centre ourselves because, most of the time, we get pulled away in this direction or within the framework of the law of opposites. And you can only go beyond the statute of opposites if you want to go beyond them, which means centring oneself. That is the secret of life. That is the secret of happiness. That is the secret of developing an understanding, where even the severest quarrel between husband and wife could be brought into such a togetherness of humour, where we can look at each other and laugh, and laugh. That is how we have to live if we want to find happiness. And if you do not want to find joy in this life, nobody stops you, there are still hundreds of lives, and you can try again.
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang UK 1978 – 08