Live Q&A from Germany
Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram
Today's Satsang from Paramahamsa Vishwananda answers questions about changing ones's seva to another area, why aren't sages beyond the 3 gunas, loving Guruji although being a Muslim, and the distinction between the longing for God and the lust for God.
Jai Gurudev, everybody! Welcome back!
Today, [during the online Live Japa session] there were some messages where people were asking what I am doing in the bag. Actually, we are chanting the Divine Name, so inside the bag there is a rosary called mala and we rotate it like this inside, mala beads, so we are chanting on each bead, and that is 108 Names of God.
Today was interesting. I was looking outside earlier and I noticed that there are lots of planes flying around, also helicopters, so I was wondering what is happening, maybe it’s back again to normality. So… I don’t know. Now it’s quiet again.
I was reading something very interesting earlier. It’s about very old man, a 99-year-old man in England, walking one hundred times the length of his garden. Actually, it’s a quite long garden, so with the walker, they walk, and he is doing that as charity, collecting money for the NHS, or whatever, something like that. But to see that such an old person is doing that, and that he has already collected in one week 13 million pounds, which is very good! So he is doing it not for himself, he is doing it for donation during this time in pandemic, where people are suffering, and he is doing that by himself. In a few weeks he will be 100 years old, and it’s such an inspiration, actually, when you see these people. He was a veteran, he fought in World War II and so on. Of course, people don’t hear about them, but when they do something like this, people will always remember them and what they have contributed for this world, for their country, in a simple way. You know, he can’t do much, so what he is doing is just pushing his walker and he is just doing it hundred times. And they said, okay, he can’t even walk, but yet, he is contributing something for this world.
So, imagine what you can contribute. I’m not telling you that you have to do the same thing. But be inspired about what you can really contribute to this world. A few months ago in January, when we were in India, we went to see a wonderful lady called Sindhu Tai and she was so sweet. If you hear her story really, it’s amazing. We spent some hours with her. She was so joyful. She is called "the mother of 1500 children", and it’s an amazing story. Right now I can’t tell you the story. But I did tell the story of Sindhu Tai before; you can find it on the internet also. Very inspiring. If one person can do that… be inspired by that.
We often hear that God has put us where we have to be, so is it wrong to stop doing a certain seva if we struggle to do it with our hearts, instead of choosing another seva that is easier for us to do with love and where we feel more "at home”?
You see, everybody looks for easy things to do in life, and, well, look, if you are doing your seva and you feel pressure in that, then it is not seva, because when you do a service, there must be love in it. You must have joy in what you are doing.
Not everybody likes to do what they have been asked to do. But life is like that; we will not always get things that we want to do, because everybody would like to have an easy life. Tell me somebody who would not like to have an easy life! But do easy things really help us attain what we have to? I don’t think so. Don’t think that when you see a saint in deep meditation it is easy for him. No, it is not! It is through the hardship of many years that he has attained that level.
Like that, I will say, yes, okay, you can change your seva and do other seva, but yet, you have not really understood the true meaning of seva itself, the true meaning of service. Because the true meaning of service means you should forget about yourself and do whatever dharma, whatever, has been given to you, with love.
What you have to do is to change the attitude with which you see things, and how you see that service. In the question that you are asking right now, you are saying, ‘Yes, but I don’t feel it.’ Yeah, but, if this is taken away and you put in another thing, you will not feel it either, because you have not understood that service must be done in a selfless way.
When we talk about selfless, it means you should learn to not put yourself first, but put the service that you are doing first. When you put the service that you are doing first, that you will see that you will enjoy it much more. Right now, due to putting yourself first, the ego feels hurt, the ego feels disturbed, and says, ‘Why I can’t do that? Why should I do this kind of service? I should do something more passionate. I should do something that I love to do.’
But in reality, would you learn something from that? No, you will not learn anything, because as you get something easy to do, you will take it for granted. You will become lazy about it. You will not really enjoy it. But if certain challenges are there, you will learn more through challenges than when it is easy. So, through the challenge, you will learn to transcend your ego; you will learn to transcend, firstly, yourself. You know, like this petty self which we always see and say ‘Yes’, I’m fed up with this. It’s too much for me’, and all this stuff.
But yet, when we talk about service, when we talk about seva, firstly we should forget about this petty self. We should put that which is stopping us aside, which means that mindset which says, ‘No, I can’t do it’. Change it and say, ‘No, I can do it. I love to do it.’ Because, what we are doing in service, we are doing for the Lord. And if He has given us this duty in our life, we should assume it, we should love it, we should embrace it. Like that, we purify ourselves, we transform ourselves. When you are purified and you are transforming, you become humble. And in a state of humbleness, this is where Love awakens. When you are arrogant and prideful and full of ego, Love doesn’t find its place there.
So, understand, my dear, truly it’s not about what kind of service you are doing, but with which attitude you are doing it and what is the aim of that service. The aim: you are serving the Lord Himself. And if that is clear, you will enjoy even if it is very hard, because you know deeply that if He knows what is right for you, you trust in that. And if you trust in what He said, you will see that how easy it becomes, with that love. You see, that you say, ‘Yes, if I do something, another kind of seva, at home, much easier and...’ No, you will enjoy it only for a short time and then after that it will disappear. You will find other excuse to run away. This is where many people enter into service.
You see, when it’s hard, you give your best to make the thing better. You will give your best to serve. When you give your best, there is a certain inner satisfaction that awakens, and when it awakens, it gives you such a strength inside of you that you can do much more than that. Whereas, when you say, ‘Yes, okay, I will do something easy that I love’, yes, you will do it. But, like I said, you will start to do it, but it will last only a very short time. You will do it for a certain time, then you will find an excuse to not even to do the service itself, because it’s easy, and as easy as it is coming, as easy it is going. So, get to know what service really is, and when you are serving, know that you are serving the Supreme Lord Himself. In whatever He has given you, love it.
In the story of King Ambarisha, how come Sage Durvasa has such anger? Is a sage not able to overcome the 3 gunas? And if sages can’t overcome them, what chance do we have?
Ah, yes. You know, the Bhagwat is telling this story of Sage Durvasa. Sage Durvasa was known to be a very easily angered saint. But the anger of saints or sages is not to be taken as something bad, because, if he was just soft, soft, would people recognise him? No, there are many sages who are very soft and very nice and very kind, but people didn’t recognise them. But Sage Durvasa, because of his character, was very tough with himself firstly, and of course, with others, because he also didn’t want other people to just make a fool of spirituality, like nowadays.
Somebody sent me a message yesterday of what people are saying about the Ramayana, for example. How Indians themselves are making such a fool of their own culture. And it is sad to see that. You will not see that in other religions. You know, you will never see a Christian making fun of Jesus, you will not see a Muslim making fun of Allah, but yet, you see that in our culture itself, how in Hinduism, Hindus themselves (because they lack the understanding of the deepness of the holy scriptures) make fun of it. You see, you need certain rishis like Rishi Durvasa to remind everybody. If everything goes soft, nobody appreciates anything.
This morning somebody sent me a message, saying, ‘Letter from Coronavirus’, and I was listening to it. It is like Nature talking, you see. The letter, I don’t remember every word, but it said, ‘Look, I have sent catastrophes in the world; you have not learned anything. I have sent earthquakes; you have not learned anything. I have sent many natural disasters, yet you have not learned anything.'
But yet now with what has come, people are learning, and I hope that learning is not just for now. I was listening to that and then I wrote to that person and I said, ‘I hope the moment that the lockdown is over people, don’t go back to their old petty self, and that they have truly learned something from that.' And the answer that came back was, yes, actually, on the social media they also said they are longing for when the pub would open, when could they go and eat in restaurants, when could they… You see already the state of the mind of people, that the old samskaras are kicking back in again. Have they learned something? Has humanity learned something from all that is happening? It seems no, if people are reasoning in that way. So, how to make these people understand? You know, this is the lack of awareness in the world.
That’s why devotees and people who are on the spiritual path should shine what they have inside. Like Durvasa, he was a very great saint, sage, even being very angered it doesn’t mean that he could not control this anger inside of him, his senses. He was well in control of it. But he had to act in that way to show a certain discipline. And look, when we analyse it, if he hadn't been angry with King Ambarisha, do you think we would have such a beautiful lila of Bhagavan where He said, ‘I can’t forgive you. To forgive you need to have a heart. But My heart is not with Me. My heart is with My devotee’? And all this is just a lila to show that relationship between Bhagavan and His devotee. And it is such a beautiful one, we even have to be grateful to Sage Durvasa, because through that experience, through that story, we see that a devotee is a temple of Bhagavan Himself, and how we treat the devotee, how we treat each other, is very important. Because you don’t know who is in front of you. You don’t know when the Supreme Lord Himself will come, in whatever form, and He will be in front of you.
Coming to that, I remember somebody sent me a beautiful story. If I remember everything, I will tell you. During this time, Lord Vitthala is always standing on a brick. He decided because every temple is closed down now in India, and even the Panduranga temple in Pandharpur is closed down, He decided to step down from the brick. He went back to Dwarka. As He entered Dwarka, He saw that everywhere was so quiet; it’s was a lockdown everywhere. In the palace there was nobody, no servants, because all servants were sent back home due to the Coronavirus. Then, He saw Rukmini sweeping, and He said, ‘What are you doing?’
She said, ‘Well, because of the lockdown, everybody had been sent home, so I am cleaning.’ Then She asked the Lord, ‘How come You are here? Normally You come very late at night after shejarati and early morning You go back.’
He said, ‘Well, right now there is nobody, so I am here. I will be here with you. Let’s have some quality time, let’s have some good time together, like how it used to be in olden days.’
Rukmini said, ‘Okay. What can You do?’ Then She said, ‘Okay, You can help me in the chores. We can start cleaning.’
And Vitthala said, ‘You want Me to clean? Ah, I don’t know how to do that. But maybe you can… look, I will be there, later on we can just have lunch together, and I will do some things then.’
Then Rukmini said, ‘Wait, wait! You said you don’t know how to do any chores in the house, but I will remind You. When Chokhamela was there, You could go and bring his cow for grass eating. This You could do. When Janabai was there, You could go and help Janabai to grind the flour and do all the chores of the house. You could go to Eknath and carry his water and clean his house. And to Sakhubai, You could go there and do her housework.’
So, like that, through all the saints, she was saying, and Bhagavan got a bit nervous, and said, ‘Okay. On that point, what can I say? Now I’m telling you that I can’t do anything, but yet, you caught Me on that. For the sake of My devotees, I did so many things.’
Rukmini carried on.
At that same precise moment Garuda came and announced that Narada had just arrived. And Bhagavan was so happy; this was a way to escape. Garuda came, Narada came, and Narada whispered something in the ear of Vitthala and he left. And Vitthala went quickly and started collecting things. He changed His clothes and He started collecting things, started packing His bag and He was ready to leave.
Rukmini said, ‘Where are You going?’
He said, ‘Well, there was an emergency, people need My help. You know, because of this Coronavirus I need to go and help the people.’
Rukmini said, ‘Well, the lunch is ready. Eat, then You go.’
He said, ‘No, no, no, no, I can’t! I have to go.’
So, quickly He rushed out, and behind Him, Rukmini carried the food, like always, because the Lord is always on the move. Rukmini was not disturbed by that, and said, ‘Oh, this is normal’, so She packed the food and She was running behind Him. And then She came back down to Earth, and She saw that the Lord has assumed the form of a policeman, and He was telling the people, ‘No, you go back home’. And when Rukmini brought the food for Him, He even gave that food away. He was just standing with His hands on the hips.
This story, even if it is very fictional, is such a beautiful story, showing how much Bhagavan cares at all times.
So, even in this story, when you say that Sage Durvasa was angered, actually, He allowed him to be angry just to show how much love He has for His devotee and where does He truly dwell. You see? He doesn’t dwell in Vaikuntha. He dwells in the heart of the devotee, and that’s what we have to recognise. Of course, like I said to you earlier, when you look at sages, very often they will be angry and they will be tough, because these rishis were teaching the people. Because when our life is easy and easy going, we don’t want to change it, because it is easy. Because we know that life is just this: we are born, we go through life, we work, we have a family, we work again, we collect this money and we die afterwards. Like that, you have done the same thing for millions of lives. But whenever there is a strong command, then you start to listen.
In the same way Coronavirus has given a good slap to humanity, so now we start to look at it. You see, if you are wise, you start to look and care for Nature itself, and also yourself. Many people are not going out. Why? In this moment you realise how important it is for you to live; your life is very important. When you hear thousands of people are dying left and right, all the countries, now you start to think about how important is life. Like that, sometimes Nature has to give a slap also. So, in the same way, the rishis also at that time sometimes had to be angry to show certain discipline or to make you understand, and make you aware of what you have to change inside of you. I think the lila that Bhagavan has enacted in that is to show really where the Lord resides. That’s why He used Rishi Durvasa in that case.
I am a Muslim and I love You very much. My friends do not accept different religions, and so it is hard to speak openly about Your love and Your devotees. I want to hang Your pictures on the wall, but in our culture they will criticise it. What should I do?
Look, whether you are Muslim, you are Christian, or you are a Hindu, whatever, firstly you have to know that we are all human beings. And, of course there are different ways, and people have different understandings of things. That culture where you come from doesn’t have images, and of course to put an image of somebody on the wall, it’s an offense. Until men appreciate that, what I will say is that you don’t need to have my picture on the wall. You can have it in your phone You know? You can have it in your room personally, you don’t need to show it on the outside, because look, if people will criticise you for that…but of course, if you are strong enough, then '"hell to the people", but if it is creating lots of problems, then it’s better just to avoid the problem.
Follow the teaching and grow inwardly. Let this love inside of you grow. You know, it’s not about the picture outside, it’s about having the picture inside of you. It’s nice to have a picture outside, but it’s much nicer to have the picture inside of you. And, you don’t need to talk about me, if it’s very difficult, just talk about the Love of God. There is no difference.
This is what I am here to remind you. My life is about showing people how to transcend their limitation of what humanity has always thought about: not being just a human being, but to transform into the Divine Self that is inside of you, and this is beyond all religions. I refer very often to the Bhagavad Gita, because what Krishna has spoken, He has spoken to all humanity. All the great masters who have come, have given their knowledge of love for humanity. It’s not only for one kind of person. Love is universal and God is universal.
How can we discriminate between longing for God and the 'lust' (not in a sexual sense) for God when we want to possess Him?
Look, I would not use the word ‘lust’, because, when you have a lustful way towards God, it already means in a sexual way. [You mean] Yearning for Him, when your heart is burning, so this is what it is. You can have many expressions of that yearning, like we talked about bhavas. A few satsangs back I was explaining about bhava, and different people have different bhavas which awakens inside of them, different emotions which awaken inside of their heart. And also, due to your relationship to Him through lives, that kind of yearning will awaken inside of you.
Some people can love Him in whatever way, but that’s what is the most important thing, in life, actually. If you have that yearning for Him, that longing for Him, let it intensify inside of you until you are suffocated, you can’t really breathe. You know, like Coronavirus is saying right now, you can’t breathe really, when you are fully with Corona. When you hear the testimony of many people who had it they say you can’t breathe and it is terrible feeling. But love is the same kind of feeling. Very often people talk about love, but I am asking how many people really know what it is to Love really? You talk about love, but yet, you forget quickly about it. Whereas, when we talk about this yearning and longing, you can’t forget about this love easily. Even if you want to forget about it, you can’t forget about it.
Like Surdas said to Krishna, in one of his writings, ‘You are the Supreme Lord, and You are the Lord of Love, You are the Lord of everything, You can do everything, that’s what I heard, no? But can You take that love out of me?’ That’s what he said to Krishna. And, Krishna looked down and said, ‘No, I can’t. This is one thing that I can’t do. I can’t take that love inside of you, because that’s what I yearn for, that’s what I long for. I long for My devotee, for that love of My devotee, that’s what I hunger for. There is nothing else what I hunger for.’
There was a saint called Bhojan Gosai [Bhugarbha Goswami], something like that. This [Bhugarbha Goswami] was a great devotee of Gadadhar Pandit, actually, who was a devotee and close associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This [Bhugarbha Goswami], when he heard about the greatness of Krishna, he left everything, and he surrendered. He came to Vrindavan and he lived in Vrindavan, doing his japam and really absorbed into the chanting of the Divine Name, absorbed into the meditation upon Lord Krishna. And he found such great bliss inside of him.
His sadhana was that every day he would leave his ashram and go for Govardhana Parikrama. Every day that was his sadhana. And when he would walk, he would be in such a bhava, and such a mood, that he was not aware.
As he was walking once, his foot hit a huge stone. And, of course, he hurt himself badly and blood was coming out and he could not walk afterwards. So, he sat there and he was in pain. Imagine that time back then: 1500, he was in pain, and as time passed by, he tried, he limped, but he could not walk. But in his mind, he was more worried, not about his feet, but about how he would finish his service, because he had to go back to his ashram to do bhog [meal] service. He had to offer bhog to Thakurji and he had to offer sleep to Thakurji. That was his worry; not about his feet, he forgot about his feet. He didn’t even ask Bhagavan for help.
But seeing that His devotee was suffering, Lord Krishna came in disguise as a sadhu. He came disguised as a very well-built sadhu, and He said, ‘I will help you. I will bring you to your ashram.’
He said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, you are a sadhu, even if you are very muscled, you are still a sadhu, I don’t want that. I should serve you, you can’t take me.’ But he insisted.
Krishna, in the form of the sadhu, just took [Bhugarbha Goswami] and put him on His shoulders and carried him to his ashram. Coming to his ashram, He put him down and [Bhugarbha Goswami] was very thankful and he turned to say ‘thank you’ to him. But when he turned, he could not find anybody. And, of course, inside of his heart he could feel such a bliss inside of him that he recognised it was the Lord Himself who has come to serve him, to help him, to come from the place where he was to his ashram so that he could carry on his service.
But instead of becoming happy about that, he became so sad, and his sadness was, that, ‘How can He serve me? I have to serve Him. I have given my life to serve Him, but yet, He came to serve me.’ You know, the saints have such this humbleness inside of them. So saying this, he felt so bad and he fell asleep. And when he was sleeping, he had a dream where Bhagavan came in his dream and said to him, ‘You don’t need to feel bad, because I can’t look at the pain of My devotee. When My devotee is in pain, I am in pain.’
Look how wonderful that is! ‘When My devotee is in pain, I am in pain. It is nothing that I have carried you. You should forget about that. I want My devotee to be happy, and their happiness makes me more happy.’
Hearing that, Bhugarbha woke up and, of course, felt at ease and at peace.
So, just to show you how much Bhagavan cares for each one. More than we care for ourselves. When we have taken shelter of the guru and God, they take care in their way. Maybe you will not recognise it, not see it, or not feel it, but they do take care of each one, and they do carry each one.
Jai Gurudev, everyone!