THE VALUE OF SYMBOLS
REACHING THE ABSOLUTE THROUGH THE CONCRETE
Everything can be valueless, and everything can be invaluable. There is a significant difference between the two words. Something can be invaluable, priceless, something on which a value cannot be put. At the same time, another thing could be valueless, of no use whatsoever. The infallibility of any object or the valuelessness of any entity is subjective. So, if it is a subjective matter, then the value of a thing is naturally an individual thing.
You have a photograph of your wife, husband, Father, or mother in your home, without sentiment attached, that reminds you how your mother and Father brought you up. It produces within you a feeling of gratitude that it is good to be alive today, and if it were not for them, I would not be alive. You go to a Hindu temple, and there you will find a statue of Krishna or Rama, whichever Gods they would believe in. The idea here is not idolatry, as it has been misinterpreted today, the idea there is that through the teachings of that teacher, I can achieve a specific goal in life, or I am on the path of achieving that goal. So, through the concrete form, one reaches the abstract.
The abstract is inconceivable to the human mind. The conscious human mind can only think in words and symbols, and its conceptions and perceptions are limited. The mind can only conceive or perceive things in a concrete form. So, to reach the Absolute or the abstract, one uses the medium of the concrete, which might not have any value in itself, but you can subjectively make it invaluable as a focal point.
HOW TO GAIN ONE-POINTEDNESS OF MIND
Most human minds are fragmented. All energies of the mind are pushing or pulling in various directions; they are not one-pointed. By using an object, one can achieve a one-pointedness of mind. Trying to concentrate becomes very difficult; when you try to concentrate on something, you defeat the purpose of concentration because you become too aware of concentration itself. When you become too aware of concentration, you add another concentration to the initial concentration. That is where confusion occurs, detracting from the power of attention itself.
The proper practice would be gentle awareness of the object, and gentle awareness of the object-directed to the thing gathers one’s attention to the object, you go through the object, and that is how the abstract is reached through the concrete. This could be any object – it could be a piece of stone that you could use to gather all your mental energies because it is only by gathering one’s mental energies and becoming one-pointed that you can reach the pointless. You have to understand this very correctly. It is only by gathering one’s mental energies into a one-pointedness that one can reach that which is pointless, and by “pointless”, we mean that which is an invaluable point.
I am so much opposed to the sense of the usual way to use the word “pointlessness.” That doing such and such a thing is pointless or of no value. This has inestimable value, that pointlessness that we reach, or in Buddhistic language, the state of no mind that we reach is all minds.
THE VALUE OF SYMBOLS
So, to gain the one-pointedness of the mind, we use an object as a focal point. If we follow the teachings of a particular teacher, Christ, Krishna, or Buddha, we use their specific symbols. In our movement, people use a picture of their guru to be able to remember certain teachings that are given to them and particular practices that are given to them. Every time that photo stares at you, you remind yourself, did I do my meditation this morning? It serves as a reminder.
There are certain practices in our system called Gurushakti practices, which some of you might know about, and some of you might practice. In this Gurushakti practice, by using all your energies in a one-pointed fashion, you are directly linking to the outward personality you see in the picture, which means nothing; the face could be blank. Still, the awareness of the guru should be there. By creating this link, you use all your energies gathered through that channel to the universal forces everywhere. Here again, is the example of reaching the abstract through the concrete.
A real guru will always teach moral principles and ethical principles. He will always give you an understanding of the values of life. To those intellectually orientated, he will explain how things work, for the mind, too, requires satisfaction. It is the nature of the mind to inquire, and because of its core, it requires answers. So, the guru answers the questions that are uppermost in your mind. That picture there reminds you that I had this problem, which is what the guru told me. Now let me mull over that, not accept it blindly. That would be very, very wrong. That is in a different sphere of faith. We are talking of just bare facts.
The picture serves the purpose of having heard, having thought about, and putting it into practice. It is not the theory; in some communist countries, Big Brother’s watching you. No, this big brother does not watch you; he protects you. This protection is achieved by channelling yourself through a concrete object to all the universal forces that are there, and they are there at your command just for the asking. Fresh air is outside, but open the window; fresh air is always there.
THE ENTIRETY OF DIVINITY IS WITHIN YOU
If you do not open the window, how will fresh air enter this room? You would think that the divine, universal forces are so vast that how can you, as a little human being, contain it all? You do manage it all. You have the entirety of Divinity within you, which is everywhere and in everyone. If you open the window a wee bit, you cannot say I just got a little fresh air; you got the completeness of fresh air. By opening the window in this room, you get fresh air in its totality, with all the ingredients that constitute fresh air. Yet the same fresh air is here and in India and South Africa and England, everywhere the same. So as an individual, you can enjoy the totality of the fresh air, yet at the same time, the same fresh air is everywhere.
That is why we say that Divinity is smaller than the smallest and more significant than the largest. These old sayings have such deep meanings which we fail to analyse them, and that is what the guru tries to do for you in his talks, by analysing these scriptural passages, perhaps, or the knowledge which he has received through direct perception of the intuitional level, in the sense of knowingness that without reading the book he knows the book. This is very easy; you can do it in a few days.
THE JOB OF THE EXTERNAL GURU IS TO AWAKEN THE INTERNAL GURU
You do not worship the object, but a link is created between you and the object. There is only one thing that has to be worshipped, and that is Divinity itself. A realised man is or can be called the most authentic representative of Divinity on Earth because he is self-realised and in constant communication with Divinity. He and Divinity have found no separateness; they are at-one-ment with each other. And that is what self-integration, self-realisation, and God-realization are all about. It all means the same thing: Man and God are not apart. As Christ has said, “I and my Father are one.”
You do find some such men on this planet, Earth. He might pass you on the road, sitting right next to you and sitting right in front of you. It depends upon your perception; if you can see that embodiment of all Divinity that exists or not, it depends entirely upon you. To see it or not depends upon your perception. But one thing is true, all the great masters, Buddha, Christ, and Krishna, had become one with that divine force.
So, a channel to the object is created not in worship but in a manner of devotion. Devotion is a word to be well understood. Devotion involves love. Without love, there could be no devotion; without that devotion, there could be no real guru-chela relationship. There has to be that communication. Many people have a very erroneous impression that I choose my guru. That is what you think. The guru chooses you. Always. He shall not plant seeds on barren ground, for it would be worthless. But he would try to make the bare ground fertile, which is a lengthy process. But that is what is done. So as another scriptural passage would say, the sower keeps sowing the seeds, and some fall on fertile ground and some on rocks. I do not know the passage, really, but this is the gist of it.
The real teacher goes on sowing, and if there is reasonable ground, it will grow and blossom, for the gardener’s joy is the glory of the flower that blooms to its utmost beauty. And everyone is that blossom; everyone is that flower, perhaps some in bud form, maybe some in seed form, but all the potentiality is there for everyone to awake in you, for everyone to awaken within himself. Therefore, I always say that the job of the external guru is to awaken the internal guru that is within you already. If there is a giant boulder in your path and you have no strength to push it away, you use the law of leverage, a long pole, and you can quickly shift that boulder away. The guru is that pole. The guru is there to be used, not abused.
THE GURU CAN BE A GUIDE
The guru is nothing but that pole to be used as leverage to clear your path, to take all the impediments and problems away so that your progress towards home could be smooth. Sometimes the night is dark, and you are stumbling around, and if the channel you have formed with love for the guru is sincere and pure, he appears there with a lantern all the time. I know about some that pretend they meditate, but some of you that are really into meditation have felt this. When a problem crops up and other solutions come, the problem is solved.
By your Self, you are invoking a great universal force through the medium of a channel. There is so much water in the reservoir, but that water has to reach your kitchen tap. You have a big pipe from the extensive pool, and from the big line, other smaller pipes and smaller pipes until you have the same water in your kitchen from the reservoir, which could be fifty miles away. These intermediary things are needed; the pipes are needed to bring the water from the reservoir to the tap in your kitchen. That is why Jesus beautifully said, “No one reaches the Father but through me.” It is very, very accurate if it is adequately understood. Christ was saying that a person has to reach that level of Christ’s consciousness to reach the Father and all that there is. Because he has travelled the path, the guru’s job can be as a guide; he can show you how to reach that consciousness. That is all the guru does. Nothing else. He is more ordinary than ordinary. I have a very favourite joke: you must become extraordinary to become more ordinary than ordinary.
A GURU IS AN ORDINARY MAN OF FLESH AND BLOOD
A guru is of flesh and blood, an ordinary man. He is like a father, he pats you on the back, and sometimes if he cannot get things through the top, he uses the belt from the bottom. It is all part of the game, part of life. There is the Father. The guru is the friend to whom you confide; you open up your heart and say, “This is what troubles me”, and I know this so well with thousands of meditators throughout the world; my mail is about 2000 letters a month, where things which a wife cannot tell her husband or the husband cannot say to the wife, that can be disclosed to a guru. Because, although he is so much in love with you, he can still be that friend to be objective about your problem and the true guru; I am talking of true gurus because there are a lot of bogus gurus around; the true guru can be objective about the problem. Because of the deep love that he has, he just cannot help helping.
Whenever a letter comes, the problem is immediately seen, and the solution is seen simultaneously because there is no problem without a solution inherent in it; the answer is always in the issue. In other words, it is all the solutions put together mixed up which causes the problem. Think about that one.
So, at that moment, seeing the problem as a friend, as a father, as a friend, a prayer wells up within his heart because he has reached the goal; he is in communion with all the forces there are in the universe. He is one with the Father, and because of that, just a single thought, a single prayer directed to the person, solves the problem for the person. That does not mean, “Dear Gururaj, I need one million pounds in 24 hours. Send it to me.” That would be unreasonable, of course. “I am in love with Queen Elizabeth, and do something so I can marry her.” That is unreasonable. But something within reason. Something within reason, and that is required.
THE PATH TO JOY IS JOYOUS ITSELF
Gurus are funny people, they are funny, and the way they work is a mystery that they cannot understand. They can be so hard and firm and put their foot down, and the following day they will write a little note saying, “My beloved so and so, I love you.”
For example, if you have a bottle with a small narrow neck and you have some salts or whatever in there, you cannot get the spoon in the right way, then why not turn the spoon around and put it the upside-down way, to loosen the stuff in the bottle. That is what the guru does. Whichever way possible, he wants to see Chela progress on the path of evolution and become happier daily.
Happiness is not something achieved by waving a wand. If any guru comes to you and tells you that in ten minutes or half an hour, I will wave my wand and all your samskaras are gone, your whole slate will be clean and rubbed off, and you are in nirvana or self-realisation, please stay far away from such people. Do me that favour. But the true guru will tell you how to rub off that slate. He will show you. In rubbing off all the markings on that blackboard, all the mistakes you have made, he will show you how to rub it off.
In the rubbing off, some friction is involved, but that friction is necessary. So do not think the path to self-realisation is all roses. Some thorns also, and remember that if there were no thorns, there would be no roses. You show me a thornless rose, and you cannot.
For some people, the path is so much easier, and for some, it is more complicated. But as you proceed on the path, the burden becomes lighter and lighter. Therefore, I say the path to joyousness is joyful too. You start off carrying a bundle of a hundred pounds, and as you walk along having that bundle with the guru at your side, he breaks that bundle, and some things start falling slowly, and it becomes lighter and lighter and lighter. You see how it works.
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang US 1978 – 02