Live Q&A from Germany
Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram
Today's Satsang from Paramahamsa Vishwananda answers questions about dogmatism, abortion, keeping past commitments, and whether or not God is bored when He incarnates amongst people.
Jai Gurudev, everybody! Welcome back!
Today, somebody sent me a picture of the devil and God, and the devil was saying to God, ‘You see, with the Covid 19, I closed all Your churches.’ And the devil was very happy with that. But on the other side, God replied, ‘Yes, you have closed My churches, but I have opened a new one in every house!’
Which is really sweet and funny at the same time, because it’s true! There is a force outside with a mind to control everything, the whole system of things, even to control religion itself. A culture which has been for thousands of years here in Europe, yet you can see that everywhere they are stopping all the celebrations and everything. That brings one to the point of what the sages have always said, ‘Everything is inside of you. You are the temple of God, and first you must find Him inside.’ It made me think about this picture. God has said, ‘Okay fine, you have closed the church, the building outside, but yet can you change the faith of people?’ Outside, you can restrict something, you can change something, but inside the people? You can’t change it just like that. This is making me think that there is a grand picture which the sages, and even Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna said, that everything is inside of you, and that you have to dive within to really reconnect with who you truly are.
It is amazing during this time how many people are reconnecting back again to themselves, and also asking questions about, ‘Is it just that? That life which I have lived?’ When we look at how the world was going before, we see there was a such a rush into the world. I remember the satsangs before, when I was saying when you look at how the world is, there is such a rush into everything. People are busy, you have to compete with this and that, you are busy, rushing, continuously. Who would've said that now you would be sitting for all this time at home, not even going out, you know?! No, sitting at home!
At the beginning, I remember people were saying, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is terrible, how we will handle that?’ When I said to the people that I will be in self-quarantine in Shree Peetha Nilaya, the devotees here said, ‘No, you don’t need it.’ I said, ‘No, look, I asked everybody who came from India and they have to do it, and I also have to do it, no matter what.' And every time, the devotees would ask, ‘Are you alright in your quarantine?’ Even yesterday, I called some devotees and they were saying, ‘Swamiji, are you alright in your quarantine? How is it?’ I said, ‘Well, it’s good. I’m enjoying. It’s nothing terrible.’ It’s nice, really.
Somebody else was asking a question also, ‘Swamiji, in Vrindavan you are different, joyful, and here in Germany you are more strict.’, or whatever. But look, in every place, I am different. It’s true, in Vrindavan, I think it’s the energy of Krishna, it’s completely different, and when I’m in Mauritius, I’m also different. But when I come to Germany, the word ‘Germany’ has a strong energy in it. That it makes me also different. It’s true, actually. Because I noticed it in myself, when I travel, let’s say, for example, going on a pilgrimage, I’m a different person. But the moment I landed here in Germany, I become…well, there is a strictness and the whole mood changes. But it’s nothing to do with me, I am how I am, but everywhere you have to be different. So, that’s why. I was reflecting upon that, it was making me laugh, actually. It’s like when people are at home, they act differently, and when they go outside, they are a different person. You have a multitude of personalities inside of you which you express wherever you are; you have to adapt to it. It’s like that. And, of course, Vrindavan is Vrindavan, like I said, it’s different. And to experience that, you have to be there one time and experience it.
I was talking with my auntie, actually, Swamini Pragatishwari, who is stuck there in Vrindavan. It was her first time in Vrindavan, and she wanted to come and I told her, ‘Please, come for Holi’, and she came for Holi. And, of course, everybody who came for Holi, well, some people left and some people got stuck there because the country is in complete lockdown. I think Bhagavan loved them so much. Even Swami Paranthapa, who was planning to leave, and many were planning to leave, but, you have your plan and He has His plan. He said, ‘You have come to Me, now I want to keep you here,’ so He has kept them there.
What is dogmatism and how can we not fall into the trap of it? And what is the difference between dogmatism and total determination on the spiritual path?
Dogma means a certain idea of things: you have a certain idea and you are so fixated upon it, you don’t want to perceive anything other than this idea only. When somebody is dogmatic, they becomes very fanatic in their ideas. Whether they know if it is right or wrong, whether it is real or not real, it doesn’t matter, because they think that this idea is what it is, and they are so taken by this idea that they have made that idea the motto of life. When you make an idea your motto of life, you become dogmatic in it. You enter a very narrow way where you don’t perceive anything; you are not open to anything. Only your idea, your way, your understanding, is right. And you will fight, you will kill, you will do everything because of that idea.
It has nothing to do with reality, because an idea is in the mind and it is like a thought. It’s an imagination. It’s a form of vibration, only it is in the mind. The intellect also is what creates this reality. You have the intellect, you have the mind, that is fixated upon a certain idea of things due to your belief and it is so strongly into it, that becomes your reality, and you don’t see anything else beyond that. You can’t surpass this because that’s what makes you feel good. You think that you are happy in that and you feel threatened if somebody else challenges that idea, because you are not sure about whether you are truly right or wrong. Why do you think people fight for their dogmas, you know?
When we talk about dogma, there can be many kinds of ideas. Very often in religion you see that, and people fight for that idea. Because when you feel threatened, your faith is shaking. This shakeable faith is not unshakable. Then you realise, ‘Is it truly that I have faith in that or not?’ If something can shake it, and starts to make you think, then you realise, ‘Oops, I have to fight for that. No, I should not be shaken.’ That’s why very often you will see that in religion. It is that that they portray, that fight which is shakeable. Because your faith is shakeable, you have to fight for your ideas. Whether you fight, you kill, you do whatever. You have seen religion throughout history and what it has shown just because of dogmatism. That is what that does in one’s mind. One is so fixated upon that, they are not finding the openness to everything. You know, like when we are talking about God, they have a God which is only one idea they must fixate upon.
Now, the second part of the question: total determination. When we look at that path, when you are determined about something, you don’t become dogmatic, you are open. Let’s say a scientist wants to find a certain solution, they are opened to failure. The result they give you at the end is just what they have achieved. But when a scientist is, let’s say, dogmatic, not open about failure, never will that scientist achieve anything, because the first time his experiment fails, he will stop. It‘s like a child riding a bicycle. The first time the child rides the bicycle, for sure, the child will fall down. Imagine if the child would say, ‘Okay, I fell down, I hurt myself, finish. I will never ride the bicycle again’, or, ‘I will not walk again.’ Would the child walk? Would the child ride the bike again? No. But the child doesn’t think the same way. The child is opened to possibilities, opened to other things. ‘Okay, one time I have fallen down, I so will do it again, even if I fall down again.’ The openness to different realities, to other possibilities, makes way for something different. You have an aim, you want to achieve it, but yet you are open to it.
You know, in Chapter 12, verse 2 of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna said, ‘Those who are surrendered to Me with faith, they achieve Me.’ He said, ‘I consider those who have devotion to be the most exalted in yoga, but those who surrender to Me with faith, that’s what is important.’ But in the next verses, Chapter 12, verses 3 and 4, He said, ‘But those who worship Me, who know Me to be the omnipresent, the immovable, the unchangeable, the inaccessible with the mind, unthinkable, and so on, those who have self-control, who have controlled their senses, and those who have equal-mindedness, who see everybody, everything in an equal way, they also come to Me.’ So, you see here Bhagavan has said, ‘First I value those who worship Me, who have great devotion to Me, who worship Me in a form, because the mind can conceive a form, they come to Me.’ But He doesn’t exclude those who also have faith in Him, but those who worship Him in an omnipresent way, an unmanifested way. He said that, ‘They also will come to Me.’ That possibility which He opens, is not, ‘Only one kind of people can come to Me.’ No, He said, ‘Everybody can come to Me.’
In Chapter 4, verse 11, He said, ‘I reciprocate how people come to Me.’ The Lord reciprocates the same thing that we have inside of us. However we approach Him, He also approaches us in that way. If you are fanatic and narrow-minded, of course, you will find a God who is narrow-minded and fanatic also, who is limited. You will not know the omnipresent God who is blissful, who is full of love. And in one way we say, God is Love, but yet, how many people really are ready to be like Him? Here He is saying, ‘Be like Me.’
You see, the whole of what He asks in all the scriptures is to transform yourself and be like Him. You don’t become Him, but you can become ‘like’ Him, and to become like Him, you have to start awakening that Divine quality. First, that mind and intellect that is so focused on limitation must change; it must transform. The transformation of that mind and intellect make it Divine. Divinisation of the mind itself is an openness to the supreme reality. You know, when we say God has created everything and He has placed Himself everywhere, we have to have an open mind to perceive that. If we have a mind that is limited only to how God is written, you will never find Him. That possibility, when we open our mind and intellect, we open our heart to something that is indescribable. We can’t describe it. Even in that verse, in Chapter 12, verse 3, He said, ‘I am this indescribable.’ You can’t describe Him because words are limited to describe Him.
How can you think of the unthinkable? You can’t think about Him. What we know, we know only through what the holy scriptures have told us. But to really think about the greatness of Him, the mind is limited. So, that’s why, when you have a certain determination about things, be open to possibilities, because through being opened to possibilities it will carry you towards where you have to be in a very easy way. Then you have faith, and no matter what comes nothing can move you from your faith.
What is your spiritual opinion on abortion? If it is wrong and we have done it, how can we atone for it?
Look, my opinion about abortion is that it is completely wrong. Because I don’t agree with abortion. First, when you are having your fun, you should think that there are big karmic things being implied in that. So, my point of view is that I am completely against that. You see, when we look at a demon, for example, a demon will never even harm their own child, whether it is born or unborn. If you as being human being, for whatever reason, have that tendency to do such harm to an unborn child or soul which has prepared itself to come, there is a very big karmic implication to it.
If you have done it, let’s say, for whatever reason, I can’t judge anybody on that, and that you feel really that what you have done sincerely is wrong, this is what I will ask you: pray for that soul. Because, that soul had to have a certain connection with you for that soul to come inside you. For that energy to start happening inside, there must be a certain karmic connection together. For you to have cut this connection just like that, what I would say: just pray for the soul, because, karma-wise you are still linked to that and whether you achieve your life purpose in this life or not, that karma you will have to bear, even if you have to come back again. You will have to bear again this karma for that action. So, pray for that soul, that’s the only thing I can tell you to do.
As we are in constant transformation, what attitude should we have with the promises we have made in the past that no longer correspond to who we are now? Is it okay to break these commitments?
Yes. Well, it depends what kind of commitments you have made. Let’s say for example you are married before and then your life has changed and now you are a different person. I have to be very careful to say this, because some people can turn it and say, ‘Oh, Swamiji has said because I did some commitment before and now I am a different person, I have to let go of that commitment.’ No! I have to be really careful what I am saying right now!
It’s a tricky question really. Look, if you have, let’s say, promised and given some other commitment. I’m not talking about your marriage, I’m not talking about a big commitment in life that you have taken, but a certain commitment that you have taken before and due to your constant changing, of course, you may change that commitment, finish with it, and you can also forget it. Because when you were making that commitment, you were in a different mindset, and through transformation, through growth, of course, you view things differently. When you were a child, you used to view things in a certain way. It doesn’t mean that now you view the same thing the same way as when you were a child. You view your life completely differently right now, and as you view your life completely differently, of course, everything changes for you. The same thing, whatever commitment you have made, I’m not talking about your marriage or I’m not talking about your children; you are committed to your children. This is your duty and you have to fulfil it. But if there are certain commitments you have done and you see that you are no longer able to hold onto those commitments, of course. Changes happen in life and of course you have to go with those changes. Like that, you can see that often people commit themselves: they take a certain vow in life, they live a certain way, and then after that, their life changes. They break their vow and they carry on with their life. They think that it is finished.
Of course, it is not finished finished, but due to your commitment you still hold upon certain ties with that. Maybe today you will not, but at sometime you will have to fulfil it also. But as your life changes and moves towards a certain direction, it always depends what direction your life is changing towards. If let’s say you commit and then you fall back again into the same direction that you were going, but then take a different commitment for the same purpose, it makes no sense. You know, it’s like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But if that commitment that you have made before is towards enlightenment, towards your spiritual life and transformation, of course, that commitment is nullified completely, it’s erased completely. Also, that karma which is linked to that commitment, when you go on the spiritual path, is finished; it doesn’t go together. In that way, it is possible to finish with certain commitments in life.
Since God is in control of everything and He knows the future of all of us, is it not boring for Him to still incarnate on Earth and be around people?
Ah… No, look, if it was boring, He would not incarnate and be among people. He always comes as a reminder. And also, one thing is that, time-wise, how you view time here. Here we see time, 24 hours, and we see it as hours, minutes and days and years, but for the Divine it is different. It’s not the same way that we view it. Time doesn’t have any meaning. It’s not that when He incarnates here, He is not present in Vaikuntha. He is! Actually, He is present in Vaikuntha and He is also present acting here in this world itself.
It’s not boring. He comes and does His work. Whatever He has to do He will do. And He comes with a specific work to elevate those who are dormant. When He comes as a reminder of that reality, of course, He will do what He has to, and He enjoys what He is doing. It’s not boring. The life of an Avatar is not boring. Actually, an Avatar works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and throughout His life, He continuously works for the upliftment of humanity itself. There is not a single second that an Avatar doesn’t work.
How can it be boring, when you are continuously busy, and really continuously knowing what you are here for? It’s not boring. People can say also that God is lying down on Adishesha in Vaikuntha, is boring. No, it’s not! There is not a single time that it is, and there is no such word as ‘boring’ in His dictionary.