Managing the Struggles of Life

Live Q&A from Vrindavan
Shree Giridhar Dham Ashram, 31 March 2020

In today's Satsang, Paramahamsa Vishwananda answered questions about knowledge increasing pride, becoming a Vaishnava policeman, dealing with racism, and finding the inner guru.


 Jai Gurudev, everybody! Welcome again to Vrindavan!

Today was a very quiet day; nothing exciting happening here. I was just talking to Swami Revati earlier. He was telling me that some people were complaining about what I said yesterday before the Satsang, ‘the word’ especially. He told me to be a bit more politically correct for the children and so on. 

You see, if I sit here and start thinking to be politically correct and all this stuff, … ah, you know very well I don’t care about what people think of me. So, if you think that I have to be politically correct, then it’s better that you don’t listen to the Satsang, it’s fine. Or don’t make your children listen. PG your children, you know, as in 13 or 16 years old. But I think there is a certain language which you yourself have to watch when you speak at home, first. And yes, I’m being myself. I don’t really bother about being politically correct or not. I will tell you what I have to tell you. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t like it, it’s your business; I don’t care about it really!

In some satsangs You say that external knowledge brings us to false pride. But how important is this knowledge and the study of spiritual books in our spiritual growth and how to protect oneself from falling for this pride and this knowledge taken from the outside?

Actually, you see, external knowledge must bring you to the state of humbleness. When you approach the Divine you must understand certain things, no? You must get to know about Him. This is one’s spiritual journey. Because we have a mind, due to our mind, we want to understand certain things. We have to feed the mind with what we understand. But again, understanding doesn’t mean just that I read something and I think I understand it. Understanding means that I also put in practice what I am reading about. You see? When we see our vast [Hindu collection of] literature and what it gave us, this is literature written by sages and saints. These scriptures were not written by mundane people, they were not written by just, ‘Oh, you know, let me write a book' like so many people just write books. These sages have mastered themselves firstly. They have experienced everything that they have written about. They have that deeper understanding of that knowledge. So, being free, they wrote it and gave it to the world.

In Chapter 5 of the Bhagavad Gita, verse 13, Lord Krishna said, ‘Those who have mentally detached themselves and being free, they happily enjoy the city of nine gates.’ You know, this is amazing how He put it. Just that part itself explains everything about that. Being mentally free and detached, but yet, they’re the observer of things; being realised, they are still in this physical body, observing everything.

So, having this knowledge, that they are not the doer, they are not the one who is acting, so they don’t make anybody act. This is what the Bhagavad Gita said. You see it clearly in this verse of the Bhagavad Gita which Bhagavan Krishna has said, that they are the observer of things. So, who is the observer in this physical body? It is the atma. So that knowledge, whatever you are studying or you are feeding your mind with, it has to bring you the state of detaching yourself from you being the doer, from you being the one who is doing things. No, it is that atma that is doing things inside of you. So, these sages, when they gave this knowledge, they gave this knowledge so that one can become humble like them.

If you have knowledge and pride and arrogance arises itself, that means you have not understood really, what this knowledge is about. If that knowledge doesn’t bring you closer to your relationship to God, that knowledge is useless, you know. If that knowledge which you have been studying and going deeper into, doesn’t make you humble and really see that it is the Supreme Lord who is doing everything inside of you, then it is nothing.

You understand things only through that mind and intellect. It‘s so beautiful when Krishna said, seated in that kingdom, that palace of nine gates. You know, that palace of nine gates is this body itself. When He is talking about that, it is from the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, where He explains about that city of nine gates, that physical body: seven which are present on our face, and two – just to be politically correct – excrement and urination organs.

Here we see that how He beautifully put it. Free from mental agitation. So, your knowledge should free that mind and make you free being in the body itself. You as the observer. The atma is not doing anything. The atma is just watching. It’s like a king seated in his kingdom. The king very often is not doing much, but is governing the whole kingdom through the ministers, through the people around him. 

So, the atma is that great observer. That knowledge that you are receiving must bring you to that point of observing that it is the atma that is observing everything. And the atma is a parcel of the Divine itself. The next verse that He says is that God is not the doer of everything. You know, everything has been done according to the mode of the gunas.

Here Bhagavan is saying in one verse that He is the observer. He is sitting there and observing everything. But everything has been done according to the mode of nature. Everything has been placed where it has to be through that mode of the gunas. Even if it appears that everything is in movement, no, the atma is fully calm in itself. Just like you are watching your image in a pot of water.

You know very well that your nose is well fixed on your face, no? It doesn’t move left and right. But if the water starts to move, what happens to that image of your nose? You see that your nose is moving very funnily, you know. (Like in your mobile you have this app where you can make your face look very funny. Somebody sent me some pictures of them with their face spinning around!) It’s like knowing that everything is in movement, but yet, your nose is still fixed properly. Like that the Lord Himself enacts, through the mode of the gunas.

So, coming to your question again: knowledge. You feed your mind and you feed your intellect because you are eager to understand things, you are eager to know about things, which is very good. But that knowledge should also make you humble, knowing that it is the Lord Himself, and that whatever has been given to you is for His service.

I am 14 years old and I begin to wonder what I will be when I grow up. I am interested in becoming a policeman, but here is my question: Is it wrong for a Vaishnava to be a policeman because it is possible that I have to shoot a criminal if he is attacking me?

But, my dear, you see, being a policeman, you can’t shoot people just like that. Even if they are attacking you, you have to be really careful – there are certain laws. You know, maybe you should become a military man. Also there are certain rules. But, whether it is wrong to be a policeman and being a Vaishnava? No, it is not wrong.

Actually, if you are doing your duty and you have to do something which goes beyond your concept, you have to do it. This is your dharma. Everybody has a certain duty in life, and according to your duty you have to act sometimes good and not good. Whether it is good - you know, like I said yesterday, in every good there is equally bad. This is the way how the world sees it. For some people good will be bad and for some people bad will be good. So, there is nothing bad about it if you are doing your duty properly. Because I don’t think that every policeman goes around happily and joyfully shooting people. But in case of emergency, in case you are threatened really, if that is the last opportunity that you have, you have to do it. This is your dharma.

So interesting that you want to become a policeman; I really pray that whatever you wish that it be fulfilled.

What is the best way for us to deal with racism towards us and our loved ones and the hurt that we feel because of it?

Look, there is a certain degree of racism around, but I think, if you start bothering about that, it will get more aggressive. The best is just to ignore it, because people out of ignorance they act in a stupid way. But if you start to act the same way towards them, does it change something? Also one thing is that, if let’s say, you want to explain to them about racism, but if somebody is in that mode of ignorance, even if you explain to them in a best way you can, even if you tell God Himself to come and explain it to them, due to the ignorance they will not understand. 

The best way is just to ignore them, just like a dog is barking. When a dog barks when you are passing by, do you sit and bark with the dog? No! You look at the dog, the dog is barking, and you just carry on your way. The same way I think you should treat people with that ignorant state of mind. Just treat them like a dog that is barking and you go on your way. Let them bark as much as they want, and just carry on walking. Because if you sit there and try to explain to them about racism, they will become more aggressive. In their minds, they have a certain understanding, so they will become very defensive. They are not ready to listen to you. First, what has pushed them to act in this way of ignorance is their stupidity, thinking that they are superior and so on. Because racism doesn’t mean only racial racism, there can be many ways of racism. There is also racism in society, like a rich - poor, and other things, you know, ethnic racism and so on. So, the best is just to carry on your way and just ignore them.

How to find the inner guru? Since we can’t see each other, I am dying of separation. How do I communicate with the inner guru? Is it through silence? I send You a big hug!

Oh, nice! This is nice, that big hug itself is our deep connection. Look, we are connecting, like I said at the beginning, through these social media things, where you can hear the satsang and you can do the japam. Because not everybody has that inner connection and feeling. So, connect through the teachings that I'm giving. Connect through this social media which has been provided in this age, you know, it is really nice. Imagine 30 years ago we would have not been able to do this. All this has made it very easy to connect with each other. But if you really want to connect deeper, sit in silence after the satsang, meditate and connect heart to heart.

After the japam we did the Earth Meditation, you know. It’s also a way of connecting that we are part of this world, that we are part of this nature, and what is happening right now is not only one person or one country suffering, it is everywhere, everyone in humanity. This has brought one to that state of thinking that we are humans, and we have to care for humanity, and humanity starts first with oneself. We can’t say, ’You become a human, you know, but yet, I stay, I’ll still be that ignorance and the fool that I am.’ No, first above all, our nature is to become humans. And what the essence of becoming human is, is to find this love relationship inside, to feel this love. Without love you are not a human being. When you look at animals, they understand that universality of love. When you see the animals, the birds flying around, the monkeys; there is love there, you know. So, firstly let us connect within our hearts. Like I said, the guru and disciple are not far away. Where the disciple is, where the devotee is, the guru is also there. Whether you feel it, or you don’t feel it, this is our relationship, you know. That’s why we have met each other, because it’s not random just like that. 

You know, when I look at where people are from, from whatever corner of the world, and from whichever religion, from what culture – physically we don’t have anything in common, but spiritually we are fully connected with each other. And through that, the universal energy has brought us together; God’s energy has connected us. When the devotees are ready, the Divine sends the guru. And that connection is from one heart to the other. When you sit in your sadhana, go deeper inside. If you don’t see the guru directly, visualise him. Know that I am there. Visualise me inside of your heart until you start to feel it. I am not far away from you and you are not far away from me. So, in the heart, we are connected.

Jai Gurudev!