Prayers and Progress on the Path

Live Q&A from Vrindavan
Shree Giridhar Dham Ashram, 24 March 2020

In today's Satsang via livestream, Paramahamsa Vishwananda answered questions about prayer, the strength of fabled warriors, Self-realised people, and signs of progress.

 

Jai Gurudev, everybody and welcome again to the Satsang here in Vrindavan!

So, today we share a little bit of the day with you. It was funny. This morning the police turned up here and asked everybody to go for a check-up – all the people here in the ashram. So, we went to the hospital, and then they were saying, ‘Do you have a paper from the police for what reason are you coming here for checking?’

But you can see straight away, when we were entering the hospital there at the entrance itself, they didn’t allow us inside. It’s really funny. You can see the fear on the faces of the people, especially when they see all the white people, my goodness!  You see, people have a certain notion in their mind that the virus will see first your face or your skin colour, and then it comes for you. But no, it comes to everybody equally. It doesn’t see whether you are rich or poor, whether you are white or black; it will come for you. Especially if you have so much fear it will come for you. But it’s sad to see that how people in certain regions act in that discrimination way. You can see that clearly, that they say, ‘Oh, these people only have that.’ No, it’s not like this,  

So, it would be nice that people realise that we are all human beings firstly, and everybody has a certain limitation to things, and everybody can get it. We have to be here to be ready to help each other. And funny thing is when we see doctors, which have vowed to help people, when we see in other countries how the doctors are helping other people, it’s amazing. But here, you see people are scared. They are not even ready to help you. They all came out and said, ‘No, no, no, we will not help you.’ And this is very strange really, but it was funny at the same time how people react, and out of ignorance. So… this was the day today, and well, we are still happy, we are still joyful, that doesn’t change our mood to be happy and be positive.

So, Swami Revaati will ask the questions. Let’s see.

As we can’t possibly know what is best for others, can we simply offer our japa and prayers to Your Feet and ask You to make the best of them on behalf of others or is there a better way to pray for others?

Well, it’s true. Very often we presume that we know what is best for other people. In reality even the person themselves don’t know what is best for them. Very often people ask for so many things that make them unhappy.  So you can see that people themselves often don’t know. That’s why it is important just to pray that the will of God be done. The best way to do that is just to pray for them and leave it to the Divine. He knows best what is best for each one of us. Do your japam, do your prayer and have an intention. You see? If you know somebody is suffering, pray for that person. It’s not wrong to pray for anybody, you are not doing any harm in praying, in wishing good for somebody. So, you are praying, you are doing japam, offering an intention to the person who needs it and then, just leave it to the Divine itself how He wants to grace them. Very often we have a certain expectation, and due to that expectation, we become unhappy. We say, ‘Yes, we have prayed to God, we have prayed to Guruji, but nothing has happened.’ Why? Because you don’t know what is good for the soul of that person.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, verse 22, Lord Krishna said to Arjuna that those who come into contact with something that is limited, who pray for something that is limited, will attain only pain and sorrow. For the wise, they aim for something which is infinite, something which is unlimited. 

So, if we analyse that, coming to that question, Bhagavan Krishna is revealing that often our asking is based on certain limitations. Our minds and our senses can understand only something that is limited. And then when we aim for that limitation, well, we will be unhappy, we will have sorrow, we will have pain in our life.  Because everything that is limited will give you only limited happiness. It’s like when you are not hungry: even the little bit of food which you eat doesn’t give you joy, because you are not hungry. When we are not hungry, that little food will be like a pain to eat that food. Imagine a lot of food now; it will not give you the same happiness. So, you see, from the beginning itself, you find that there is unhappiness in it, and yet, when you look, you take so much food, you aim for so much, you ask for so much, and you still find unhappiness. 

It is said that this unhappiness is like a whore who is dressed nicely, beautifying itself, powdering herself, standing in a dark alley and smiling to a stranger. And it is the same, you see. What will come out of that will be only unhappiness. So, be conscious about what you are praying for, be conscious about your aim. You can always pray for people, you can always send a positive intention to the people, but always leave it to the Ultimate Reality, leave it to guru and God and have faith that they know best what is good for each one’s soul, and each one’s journey.

(SVR: This question comes from a nine-year-old:)

Why were the kshatriyas in the Mahabharata and in the Ramayana so much bigger and stronger than we are today?

It’s a nice question! That question comes from a nine-year-old? Interesting. I am very happy about that child really taking great interest into the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and especially observing the fact that these people were very strong.

So, why were they strong and very powerful during the time of Ramayana and Mahabharata? You see, when we look at the movies, or when we read about it, for example, of course, in our minds we think that they were very great and mighty and very powerful. Also very often you will see, if the child has watched a cartoon, they will see that they are very robust and very well-built, like they have just come out from the gym. But it’s true! In that time, their body was very important, and how they were looking after their body was very important, and they were very muscled. But beyond that, they were not just muscling their bodies, they were also muscling their minds. You see, the warfare they were being taught in how to fight was not only the physical. Nowadays the difference is that people are very concerned about their physique and also nowadays it’s just a press of button of ‘katakata’ like with the gun. No! At that time it was very physical. There was no gun at that time. It’s not that you could stand in one place and shoot to the other side. No, they were running physically. When you look at Mahabharata, when you look at Ramayana, they were running. So, for them to run, they had to be physically fit. Like that, they were well built and they were very agile in the art of fighting. That’s why they are represented very often as very strong figures. This is one thing.

Another thing is that, in the art of warfare at that time, it was not only just to go and kill the enemy. Spirituality played a very deep role in their lives. Their meditation was very important also. Their prayer was very important also. God was a part of their culture. For them, it was not just being physically well built, like I said earlier, but mentally also they were well prepared. So, they were strong equally in the physical and the mental. That’s why you can see, they had powers, mystical powers. We see only the main, main figures in the Mahabharata or Ramayana who have very powerful weapons and all these things, but the small people had them also. In the Ramayana the monkeys who went to war also were very powerful. They were on the side Rama, yet the demons from the side of Ravana were equally very powerful beings. So, they were not just simple people.

For them to have that ability, they had mastered their minds through their spiritual practices. Whether it was positive or negative, it doesn’t matter, but you can see that they were equally very powerful in their body and into their mind state. That’s why you will see that they were very, very strong. When we look at the Spartans also, for example, in the Greek mythology in the great wars, they were not skinny, skinny persons who had just a little bit of muscles. No, they were well-built people who had been regularly training. Here you see that discipline that they had in their life; they would not just sit there. Alexander the Great’s army was not just people who said, ‘Oh, yeah, now we have to go to war, then let’s go and fight.’ No, it’s not like that. They trained throughout the day. The discipline and what they go through – it’s amazing. When we see the army nowadays also, they are also training. We would not say that they are just sitting and not doing anything. I had the chance to visit some places. They do train, but very often people from the outside don’t see that. They think that somebody just takes a gun and goes and fights and protects the country, or whatever. No! Daily they have to keep themselves fit. If they don’t keep themselves fit, how would they fight? For sure nowadays they don’t have the same capacity as how it was before, but the army of each country is doing really a lot to safeguard their country. We should not forget about their sacrifice, and what they are doing for protecting the nation.

Here in India, people are very peaceful everywhere (except nowadays right now, because of this virus nobody can do anything), but throughout the centuries when we look at what the armies have done protecting the border of this country for the people to be in peace, we have to be grateful for them. Not only here, but everywhere. This is their duty and we have to be grateful for every field.  Nowadays, we see all the doctors being busy in the hospitals everywhere; we have to be grateful for them also, because they are giving their lives for others in that maybe they also get contaminated by contact with that virus. So, in every field of life, we see that when somebody really dedicates themselves to their dharma, to their duty, they are very strong and very powerful. I think this is also representative of that; when we are dedicated in what we do, we have inner strength in ourselves.

Everyone has their unique journey to Self-realisation and God-realisation, but what are some signs or stages that show you that you are progressing in the right direction and not just falling into more and more delusions?

You see, if we look for signs, then we are looking only for something that is limited. Like the first question, if we are looking for some sign only, we will become unhappy because then your whole intention while you are doing your sadhana will be only on focusing, ‘What sign am I having?’ You know? So, if that is your intention, only to look for a sign, you will never be happy. Instead of progressing, you will digress, you will go downward. But if you do your sadhana wholeheartedly and with joy, forget about the result of it. That’s what Lord Krishna said: do whatever you do, but don’t be attached to the result. And if you do that, you will see that you will be the happiest person, because you are free from a certain delusion. 

When you have expectations, the mind can also create lots of delusions, and very often I have noticed that, on the spiritual path, people like to run behind delusions, they like to run behind signs, they like to run behind some petty experience. The greatest experience is that joy when you can really enjoy the Divine within your heart. This is one of the most wonderful experiences when you can laugh without any reason, you can cry without any reason; these are signs that it is your personal experience. But if you are looking for some light glittering here or little stars flashing here and there and then take these as signs, these are limited signs only. And if you are looking for a limited signs, you will find a limited sign, but that limited sign doesn’t mean that it will give you that real happiness. It will give you a short-term happiness, and that short-term happiness will be easily forgotten. That’s why delusional people interpret a sign like this in their own way, and then they go into the delusion and they like to share this delusion with others. 

When you share your delusion with others, others become, ‘Oh, wow, how great and wonderful you are!’ But then you confirm your own delusion. Then are you really happy? No, you are not! You will be happy only for short time. And once that disappears, you will need to look for another story, another delusional story, to tell the people. Like that, often people go from one delusion to the other, but they don’t find real happiness. So, please, don’t look for a sign elsewhere, wherever. Just be yourself, just be happy how you are, be grateful that you don’t even see any sign. Otherwise you would have some problem, probably with your vision!  So, be happy. 

Like I said, very often people ask me, ‘Did you hear from these people or that?’ I say, ‘No, I never hear from them.’ As long as you don’t hear something from somebody, know that it is a good sign, that they are fine, they are in good health. Because if you would hear from them, that will show that they are not well. So, like that, you see, if you don’t perceive any sign or anything, be happy that you are on the right track.  But if you start to see some vision, see this and that, maybe you have some problem, so then you should start worrying about it! But if Bhagavan wants to give you some sign really, that sign will be for you personally. It’s an experience between you and Him, and it is a unique experience.

I will not say that people don’t experience the Divine. Many people, many saints, many non-saints, many great souls or little souls or whatever you want to call them, who have built a relationship with God have had darshan of Bhagavan, have had glimpses of His Divinity. But leave it to Him to come to you. Leave it to Him to manifest Himself the way He wants. Don’t create it inside of your mind. Your mind is very powerful. It is said that human beings use only 5% of their intelligence. So, that 5% that you use, imagine 95% is sleeping; how much you can do with that 95%? Just imagine one more percent! Even a little bit from that one percent, let’s say, from that 5.5% awake, then lots of things you can do. 

But just be who you are. Don’t run behind some experience. Feel that joy inside of you. Feel that love that God has put inside of you. He is there sitting, waiting for you. He is there, knocking at the door of your heart. Search for Him there and let Him reveal inside of you. Forget about revealing outside; let Him reveal Himself inside of your heart.

Sometimes it is hard to feel encouraged and motivated to practice because, apart from You, I don’t see any saintly persons around you who have conquered that ego and that mind. Why has nobody reached the goal around You despite Your greatness?

Well, I will not say that there is nobody. There are a few of them, but it’s not about them. Your focus is on the guru, you should focus on the guru. You don’t need to focus on the devotees around. It’s true, sometimes when we look at the devotees around, we see that the pride is there, and the ego is still very strong, but you see, as much as you are in tune with the guru, the more you become humble. But if you want to concentrate on them, they are still on their journey – whether they are Swamis or Rishis or whatever they are, devotees – they are still on their journey, and when the time comes, that grace will be given to them. You see? So, it’s all about time. 

When we look at all the Masters, when do their disciples come to the full realisation? Often the Master keeps that realisation with himself and gives it only when it’s time to be given. Because, you see, if you give that realisation to somebody when the Master is still alive, the offense that they would do is that they would think that they are above the Master. And this is one of the greatest aparadhas, which is an offense, that you can make. That’s why realised Masters, avatars, keep that realisation, and when once they are ready to leave, they will impart that to whoever it’s needed.

A beautiful example, is Jesus Himself. His disciples around Him were not very intelligent people, but they were made ready, they had been prepared. But once the Master was not there and they saw that they had been humbled, they had this humility in themselves, He sent that grace upon them. Like that, all the realised Masters know that. If they would make one of the disciples come to the fullness of realisation, that disciple's ego also would come into the game. And, if the ego arises in that, and the disciple has not yet attained humility, it can be very dangerous for that person. Instead of advancing, one will fall down so much that you don’t know how many lives one will have to take to achieve that level again. So, it is, actually, a saving grace that the Master holds by not revealing and giving that full realisation until one is fully able to handle that. In my life, you see, I have tried to give that realisation to some people, but they were not ready to handle this because their egos and their minds were still very active. So, that’s why Masters are very careful about that.

Jai Gurudev!