Live Q&A from Vrindavan
Shree Giridhar Dham Ashram, 27 March 2020
In today's Satsang via livestream, Paramahamsa Vishwananda answered questions about mistakes, self-confidence, flattery and pretending.
Jai Gurudev, everybody!
So, maybe you have noticed that while I was doing japa earlier I was coughing a little bit. Actually, you see, I am very sensitive to draft. So, whenever there is some wind blowing, it’s terrible for me. So, that’s why I am wearing this shawl right now, for not coughing, to scare you all!
Ah… I really look forward, even if I don’t see all of you, but knowing that you are all there, it’s really nice, chanting together. That shows that we are very strong family, and that we are here for each other. I am here for you and you are here also for me and for everybody. And that’s what family does, and that’s what makes us also strong in ourselves. So, wherever you are, whether you are in quarantine, or not, it’s lovely to have this time together with you. I, like I said to you all, I am enjoying it. I hope you are also enjoying it.
As we go through life, we make decisions which may be not what God and guru plan for us, and we realise we made a mistake. How can we live with that mistake and adjust to God and guru’s plan B?
Aaah…So funny! in life you will make lots of mistakes until you really are in tune with God’s and guru’s plan. And that mistake is not a mistake, actually. It’s a learning process. And through that learning process you learn to become aware not to do it again and again. So, it’s not a mistake. It’s, like I said, it’s a learning process.
It reminds me of a story. A man, after countless struggles and failures in his life, decided to quit everything and retire himself into a forest. So, as he went into the forest, he met a sage. As he met the sage, he bowed down to the sage and said, ‘Please, enlighten me, what should I do? I have been struggling throughout my life, failure after failure. I don’t have success, when everybody around is very successful.’
So, the sage said, ‘Listen, my dear, you don’t need to quit. Just realise what life has been teaching you.’ And he pointed to two plants. ‘Look these two plants. You see these huge bamboos which have been growing very tall, and this fern.’ So, looking at these two, he said, ‘You see, I planted the seeds of the fern and the seeds of the bamboo at the same time. As I watered them and looked after them, the fern started growing beautifully, very quickly, very greenly, and very beautifully it became, but the bamboo? I kept watering, I kept looking after it, but there was no sign of life in it. It didn’t grow. But I didn’t stop looking after the bamboo seeds and I didn’t stop looking after the fern. The fern meanwhile was growing, blossoming beautifully green and wonderful. So as time went on, the seeds of the bamboo stayed the same, nothing was happening. Like that five years goes by. And after five years, there was a sprout in the bamboo seeds. As the little bamboo shoot started growing, within six months there were hundreds of metres of bamboo growing from those little seeds.’
So, the sage said ‘Do you think the bamboo was not growing? Actually, it was growing. It was growing inwardly, and it was growing downward. It was making its roots strong enough to be able to hold what would come later on. So, within a year that bamboo was so tall. But to have so tall a stem or trunk, you need a strong roots.’
Like that, in life you will encounter many failures, just like a child. When the child starts to walk, often the child will fall down. But the child will get up again and will again try to walk. Imagine if the child decided, ‘Okay, I’ve fallen down, I finish, I stop everything.’ Do you think the child would walk? No, it would not walk.
So, in life there are life examples that come upon your way to make you strong. If you view it like that, you will see there is a such learning process that one goes through. Of course, when you are going through that, it’s difficult to see it, but sit down quietly and observe your life itself how many times you have fallen, but you have gotten up. All these have been experiences which have brought you where you are now. And your life is not bad; you have a wonderful life. That’s what you have to see. Your eyes are good, nose is good, mouth is good, your health is good, no Coronavirus, no other viruses, nothing; be grateful about life itself. It’s true, it would be wonderful that whatever you prayed to God, God would just throw it upon you, but would you learn something from that? No, you would not learn something from that. Very often, what we receive easily, we take it for granted. But what we work for, we value. So, view it as whatever comes, it is from Him and it is a learning process for you.
Often the line between pride and self-confidence seems really blurry for me. One is bad and one seems good, but what’s the real difference?
Actually, it’s true, between pride and self-confidence there is a fine line. You see, in pride, the ego is very much in it. In self-confidence, you don’t display your ego. Yesterday there was a question about humbleness, so it is like that: when you are proud about yourself and you have this majestic ego which is very powerful, the world rotates only around you, you are the centre of everything. Whatever you do is only about ‘I, I, I, my, my, my and mine, mine, mine’. That’s what pride makes you do.
But when you have self-confidence, you will not bother about ‘I, my and mine’, you will do what you have to do, you will enjoy everything that you do. Because, you see, somebody who has pride has to bother constantly about feeding their ego. Constantly they have to think about themselves. Constantly they have to think, ‘What should I tell these people for that person to acknowledge me? How can I make that person happy? Actually, I don’t want them to be happy, I want me to be happy.’ You see? So, constantly you are busy about others. You are thinking constantly what others are thinking about you. It’s always about outside looking about you. Are you happy in that way? No, you will never be happy, because the same thing you are doing to others, others also are doing to you. But you are not aware of it because the pride and ego is so content, they are so joyful, that you are not aware of that. When would you be aware? When one of them hurts you. You see? Once you get hurt by one, that ego is smashed. Then you start bothering about, ‘Why did this happen?’ because your pride has been hurt, your ego has been hurt.
Whereas in self-confidence, it’s completely opposite. When you have self-confidence, it’s not about how others see you, it’s about how you see yourself. You try your best to become somebody, not what people see of you, not what you have to show to others, but you come to this self-acceptance of how you are. It doesn’t matter if the world accepts you or not, the world, the way they see you, with which colour glasses they are wearing, they will see you like that. But your glasses must be clear.
So, there is a big difference between the two. And when you sit and analyse your life, you will see. When you are a proud person, you are never satisfied with anything. Even if the most wonderful thing was given to you, you would never be satisfied. But if you are self-confident person, even in the smallest thing you would be satisfied. So, this satisfaction, that’s what you hold.
There was once a saint. Gondavalekar Maharaj. Among his devotees there was a very well-known and very educated person. And this person in Maharashtra was well known, and of course, Maharaji also was well known as a great saint.
So, one day one of the disciples of Maharaji came to him and asked, ‘Maharaj, there is some question bothering me. Please tell me, you are such a simple man and this man, the other, educated person, he has everything; he has money, he has name, he has fame, everything, but I see that he comes to you. Why does such a man who has everything need to come to you?’
Gondavalekar Maharaj said to him, ‘Look, he may have everything materially, he may have all knowledge, he is very educated, but that doesn’t make somebody satisfied. Whereas, when he comes here, he feels this satisfaction inside of himself.’
So, when you are satisfied with yourself, you will be the most happy person. It’s very simple, but very often we like to complicate our lives. We like to look for a problem when there is no problem, because we are always bothered about the view of others; we are always bothered about how people think of us. But those who are on the spiritual path should not bother about that, because you have learned through your path to respect life, to respect everybody and to love everybody how they are. This is very important. When we talk about Love, we are talking about how the Lord, how Giridhariji, loves everybody. And this comes with acceptance: the acceptance of yourself and the acceptance of everybody.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, verse 34, Bhagavan said that there is one sun which illumines the whole world. Like that there is one consciousness that illumines your intellect, your awareness and everything. So, if that sun illumines the whole world, the nature of the sun itself is that illumination. When we have day and night, it’s not that the sun is going to sleep, like we often say. No, the sun is always shining. The consciousness inside of you is ever shining. Let its nature awaken; let this awareness awaken. So, when that awareness awakens inside of you, it will naturally shine its presence, and through that presence everything gets illumined. Just like the sun: through the presence of the shine of the sun, everything becomes bright. The sun doesn’t make any effort. The sun is always shining. Like that, when you are Self-centred, when you are at peace with yourself, your presence itself will bring the transformation around.
How can we know if guru and God are happy with us since we know You don’t like to flatter us?
Flattery…That’s what everybody is looking for. When you do something good, you like to be thanked, you like to be flattered. But actually, you see, guru and God don’t do that, because they know very well when the ego of a disciple, of a devotee, is flattered, there is a danger to it. But very often people like to hear it.
In my life, I have seen many people. Many people have come in my life who have come with an expectation to be flattered, with an expectation to be told ‘thank you’. But if you are a true guru, then whatever you are doing, whatever you are allowing the devotee to do as service, if you say ‘thank you’ and if you flatter them, they will not receive that grace, they will not receive that punya. That’s why true Masters never say ‘thank you’, because they are there to elevate their disciples, and by saying ‘thank you’ it creates a certain expectation, because, you see, it’s never finished. Once you say ’thank you’ to somebody, that person says, ‘Ah, yes, now I have done something wonderful. So, if I have done something wonderful, I want to do it again. I am being seen in a very good way in the eyes of guru and God.’ But guru’s and God’s eyes are not like your physical eyes. They don’t look only on the limitation of things of what you are doing, they’re looking beyond that.
There was once a Sufi saint, Junayd. So, Junayd was always praising God in everything. He moved to a certain location where there was a crazy man. So, this old man would from day one harass and do everything to make the life Junayd miserable. Everything! At night he would scream when Junayd was sitting for his meditation, and make lots of noise and so on. He made his life completely infernal. So one day, Junayd, after four days of being like that, was fed up, and said, ‘Why I have come to this place?’ He said, ‘Okay, I will pray to God to kill him.’ So, he prayed and said, ‘Oh, God, this man is horrible. Please, can You kill him?’
You see, throughout the life of Junayd, God had never spoken to him. But on that day God decided to respond to him! So, he heard a voice, the voice of God, saying, ‘Junayd, you have come here only four days and you are complaining about your neighbour. He has been here 60 years and I have been his neighbour also. I’ve been the neighbour of everybody and I don’t have any problem with him. Have you asked yourself why you have a problem with him when I don’t have a problem with him?’
From that day on, Junayd didn’t pray for anyone to be changed. He learned to respect and love everybody the way they were.
In this, we see that very often the problem is not with anybody else. The problem is with us. When we have a problem, we make our problem the problem of others. We project it on others because we can’t accept. In this story we learn to accept the will of God, like Junayd accepted.
Learn to accept whatever you do. God’s eyes and guru’s eyes are always upon you. Flattery and ‘thank you’ and so on are just poison which a real Master doesn’t do. Why would He take that punya away from you? You see, when you do something for the Master – okay, you are doing something with such eagerness to please the Master – and in that eagerness, do you know how much punya you are receiving, how many merits you are receiving? These merits while serving, become something. But with an acknowledgment or a flattery from the Master, all this punya is void completely; all this punya is removed completely. (Very often, people don’t explain to you how punya works.)
So, that’s why you will see that I don’t say ‘thank you’ to my devotees. It’s not that I am not grateful for them. I am very grateful for whatever they do. I see it, I know about it, I am with them, but I would never flatter their ego, because I don’t want to take away that punya. It is through that punya that they are coming closer to me. It is through that punya that they will go closer to Giridhari, to God. Why should I nullify it? Why should I remove it?
I am very grateful, and I am really…I can tell you something: I am so grateful for my devotees, and I love them. I don’t need to tell them how much I love them. I think they do know about it. Because if I would tell them, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you,’ does that increase your love? It doesn’t increase your love. Because, deep inside I am sure, you know about how much I love you. And you, deep inside, know how dear I am to you. Words have a limitation, but our connection is from heart to heart, and it’s a language of the heart where we connect. And that’s what I want. I want you all to grow spiritually, and that that connection becomes so strong that there is nothing that can move it. So… That’s why the Master doesn’t flatter the ego of the devotee.
Why are human beings always pretending?
Ah… There are also other people who don’t pretend. You see, earlier I was saying, very often people like to be in the good light. They like to be 'politically correct'. That’s why people pretend. Because throughout life, from small through your education, society has made you like that, and has always asked you to pretend to be who you are not. Because it’s very difficult to accept people how they are.
Spirituality tells you differently. Screw society, be yourself! You know? When I’m saying ‘Screw society’, I don’t tell you to not respect them, but be who you are, whether they accept you or not. Otherwise, you become a slave of society and slave of how people want you to be. Look at your life; you have been always pretending. Have you ever done something by yourself feeling this confidence that, ‘I want to do it no matter what, hell to the world, hell to anybody, let me be and express myself the way I am’? How many of you have done that? Not so many. Because you are always bothered about what people will say to you. You are always bothered about what people will think about you. You don’t have that confidence to challenge the world. That’s why you are very scared to be who you are. You are scared to say what you want to say.
So, stop pretending. Be yourself. Know that He loves you the way you are. He has created you! Does God make any mistake in His creation? God doesn’t make any mistake in His creation. He has created you the way you are – unique – and He loves you the way you are. Learn to respect yourself and to love yourself the way He has made you.
Jai Gurudev, everybody!