Live Q&A from Germany
Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram
Today's Satsang from Paramahamsa Vishwananda answers questions about people leaving and returning to the guru, dreams, lower dharma and higher dharma, and expressing our most creative selves.
Jai Gurudev, again!
Today is very cold here. The weather is changed. It was rainy and cloudy, and quite a bit cold for me. Because, when you come from India and being in this weather here… but it’s good.
Today is the Vaisakhi festival. It’s a day when the people have harvested and they are celebrating their harvest by being grateful for what God has given them.
The Sikh celebrate the founding of the Khalsa which Sri Guru Gobind Singh created for the protection of religion, protection of the weak. Really, one has to be grateful for what we receive in life. Very often we take what life gives us for granted We take everything for granted when everything is given easily; we don’t appreciate it really. We say we appreciate because we think, ‘Ah yes, we have it’, ‘We have money to buy everything.’ It’s like a thing in one’s life. But no. When do you really appreciate something? Very often when you lose what you have. When those things which are dear to you are taken away from you.
Like right now that freedom to go around. When we look at nowadays what is happening to that freedom to travel around and go around. I want to just jump in my car and just drive around, but it’s not there now. People start to think really how wonderful it was when I could be free to travel around. When I wanted to fly I just booked a flight and I just flew. But now you can’t do that because there is no plane flying. Even if you have an emergency. I saw it for us also when we returned from India back to Germany. By the grace of Giridhariji it was very easy for us to get it, but many have to wait for weeks or months.
Being grateful really, that’s what Vaisakhi stands for: being grateful for what God and nature is giving us, and that in the eyes of nature, we are all equal. You know, nature will not see whether you are poor or rich, whether you are white or black, it doesn’t matter how you are, if you are old, or you are young, nature treats everybody equally. And that’s what Guru Gobind Singh also wanted to show to the world. That’s why he created this Khalsa, so that there is an equalness in the minds of people and the gratitude for everything.
Why do people leave the spiritual path? And if they've left the spiritual path, realised they made a huge stupid mistake, and want to return, will He accept such a devotee back?
Well, look, people have different agendas in their life. Some people go on the spiritual path just because it is a trend, some people go because, ‘Let me try it’, just out of curiosity, they will go on the spiritual path. But, when you go on the spiritual path as a trend or curiosity, nothing has awakened inside of you, and you don’t have any feeling inside of you. You may go there and just say, ‘Oh, yes, let me go.’ It’s like go to a shopping mall: you go and see everything around, but there is nothing that can really satisfy you.
Very often it is so fancy nowadays to be on a spiritual path. To sit there a little bit and meditate or to do some yoga posture, to put your leg in the air and think that you are getting enlightened. No! You see, people like these kinds of words; they love to hear beautiful words and things that are pleasing to them. That’s why many people go on the spiritual path, not knowing how the spiritual path is. Here I am not talking about the pseudo-spirituality that you see on the outside, because there are all kinds of spiritual paths. Nowadays when you type on your computer ‘spirituality’ or ‘spiritual path’, you have a variety of things. People look for easy things. Spirituality must be something very trendy, it has to be very easy. ‘If I want to feel God, I should feel it straight away.’ And you see the people sitting there, ‘Ah, I am feeling energy, I am feeling this, I am feeling that’, which is all just here in the mind. Because this is not real spirituality. People are looking for just some delusional experience, and just to feel good about themselves, so that they can go around and say, ‘Yes, I have felt this or I have felt that.’ This is not really spirituality. This kind of spirituality people do like shopping: they hop from one place to the other looking for the sensation. When they look for sensation, of course, the market of sensation, the market of maya, is full of sensation, and it will give you all kinds of sensations, from left to right, it is full of it. You walk from one stall to the other, but not knowing truly what you are searching for.
Like that, many people go on the spiritual path. They go out of curiosity and trend. They will not last very long on that path, because they need to move, they are constantly searching for the sensation that they have inside of them. It’s like some people are addicted to love, that feeling of love I am talking about. It’s not true love, it’s a sensation which people long for, it’s like a drug. Once they have had it, they move on to the next one. They have one partner and they move on to the next one. It’s a sensation of, ‘Yes, I need that sensation to move on.’ Drugs are the same thing. People have replaced drugs by spirituality. When they replace what they are looking for, that sensation that they are looking for in the outside world, of course, then it will not last for long. It will last may be one year, two years, three years, six years, and then on the sixth year what happens? You will drop off, you will go away. Because there is no sincerity inside of you; because you were looking only for sensation. People go on the spiritual path very often looking for this sensation.
You see, when we look at it, true spirituality is the deepness of spirituality, when you go deep in rediscovering yourself. Here I am not talking of the self in which you just sit there for meditation, ‘Ommm’, then after that you say, ‘Yes, I have felt myself.’ No, I am not talking about that. I am talking about diving deeper inside oneself, going beyond this delusion that your mind has created, and rediscover first who truly you are: that true Love, which is unknown to your mind, and unlocking something which has been locked for a long time.
In Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7, verse 13, Bhagavan Krishna said, ‘Deluded by the three modes of maya this world doesn’t know Me as being immutable and eternal.’ It is so true. Because people are deluded by these three modes, which are goodness, passion and ignorance: sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Being in these three modes of maya, they see only this reality, they dance in that reality, they play in that reality. Even if they search for spirituality in this reality, they don’t go deeper into diving beyond these three modes of maya. Like Bhagavan Krishna said Himself, being deluded they don’t know.
Firstly, they don’t know that they are eternal, they don’t recognise that eternity of the Self, the atma which is beyond limitation. The atma which is eternal can’t long for something that is material; it can’t hold onto something that is material. The atma which is eternal longs for something which is eternal. How can you long for something eternal when you don’t know that you yourself are eternal? Yes, we say our soul is eternal, everybody knows that the soul can’t die and all these things. But to be in touch with your true Self, that’s what true spirituality is. Get to know who you truly are, transcending these three modes like Bhagavan said. In Chapter 7, verse 14, He said, ‘There is only one way that one has to do that.’ You know, 'Verily He said that these three modes of maya are very difficult to cross over.' I am sure Arjuna had asked Him a question, ‘How is it possible that we can cross over that?’ He said, ‘It’s very difficult. Truly it is very difficult. But for those who take refuge in Me, for those who surrender to Me, that becomes easy.’
You know, it is like, you go to a doctor, for example, okay? Imagine, you have a certain illness, you go to a doctor, and the doctor says to you, ‘This illness can’t be cured. There is no remedy for that illness.’ And then he prescribes you some medicine and gives it to you. Would you trust this medicine? No, you would not trust this medicine. The same thing Krishna said. At the beginning, He said, ‘Verily, truly, to cross over these modes of maya which is My maya, it’s very difficult.’ You are shocked. You know, it’s like going to the doctor and he says, ‘There is no remedy for it.’ But He said, ‘Those who surrender to Me.’ He said, ‘Okay, it’s fine. Difficult to cross over, but not impossible to cross over.’
In Chapter 13, He said, ‘It’s very difficult because people are deluded.’ But let’s see. Maya, what it is really? Maya is not bad. She is doing her job, because she is surrendered, she is doing what the Supreme Lord has ordered her to do, which means to delude the minds of people, until they are truly surrendered. Until that mind has transformed, you are still in that mode of maya. You see, when something bad happens to you, you are excited, you get angry, you become so wild, and for people who are in the world, life just goes on like miserable. If it is good, it’s good, if it is not good…There is no aim in their life, and those people aren't happy, but yet, pretend to be happy. For these three modes Bhagavan said, ‘No, you have to cross over that. If you want really to attain Me, you have to cross over.’ Because if you hold onto these three things, you will never be able to cross. Bhagavan said, ‘No, now you have to surrender.’ That supreme doctor said, ‘Okay, fine. I am using harsh words to tell you strongly that it is impossible,' and this is what people are scared about, in spirituality.
When they go into true spirituality, they are scared of challenges. But maya works everywhere. Tell me one place where maya doesn’t work! You see, we are in this material reality, maya works in all fields. Coming to that point, when the doctor tells you in a very strong way, ‘No, what you have is terrible.’ But then He said, ‘There is one thing to transcend this. It is only when you befriend Me, and you get to know Me, and you have trust in Me, that I can help you. It is not impossible. This mode, this delusion, which I have cast upon you is under My governance, under My control. And when I see that you are ready, I will ask, “Go away, don’t attack My devotee.”’
But this happens only when there is sincerity in what we are doing, that true longing for Him, this yearning for Him. It can’t be just superficial. It can’t be just, ‘Okay, let me try this and try that, a little this, and little that.’ No, it has to have this single-pointed mind in it. Then it is possible to transcend.
It’s the same when people go on the spiritual path, but yet, when they are tested… Because, we like it to be just the way we want: easy, ‘tell us beautiful things, flowery words which are beautiful for our ears to hear.’ But when the test comes, then one runs away. Because nobody wants to really go into that test. But in reality what is that test? You see, it is not to make you weak. Actually, it is a test to make you strong, to know where you stand. And those who are sincerely longing for the truth, for the reality, longing for God truly, not just superficially, they stand strong in their belief and their faith. Nothing can move them from their faith.
Earlier we were talking about Guru Gobind Singh. You know, his father was captured by the Muslims. At that time India was ruled by Muslims and they were killing so many people. His father was captured by Aurangzeb, actually. He was a tyrant. Many had converted to Islam because of that, but he stood so strongly in his faith that they beheaded him. Imagine! To stand upon your faith like that, like the martyrs have done. They have not let go of their faith. And that is true spirituality. Spirituality is not just another word to make you think that it is, ‘Oh, after religion there is spirituality.’ No, although it’s true, religion is a mindset thing, but spirituality is a transcending of who you truly are, your true identity, and you stand upon that belief and faith of who you are. Nothing can move you. No matter how many tests come, you are clear about your aim and your path.
So, coming back to your question: if ever somebody comes back. It’s true, for many people, for whatever reason, the mind gets deluded often by what they hear, what they see, whatever. And of course, when they start to reflect upon it and see why truly this has been like that, ‘Is that teaching me something, or not? Am I growing into that or not?’ The fault is not about the spiritual path that you take, it’s also about you, how you perceive it, and what spirituality has truly given you to transcend this mind and to surrender to one supreme reality.
Often when people lack knowledge about true spirituality, a true path, they go into delusion. Of course, then they will go around, when they realise it, when they think that they are ready, and then they come back. This is also in the control of the three modes which Bhagavan Krishna has said; it’s maya. Somebody may not be ready, but yet, deep inside of them resides that grace which through many lives they have received, and they have longed for. Because inside, the atma knows what is the reality, and the atma longs for that reality. Through lives you have been longing for that reality. For whatever reason He has brought you on the spiritual path, no matter which path I am talking about, any spiritual path, just to bring you a certain awareness that is beyond certain dogmas or limitation. That means that you have certain things inside of you that are sincere. That’s what makes you search for your path.
So you will go, and sometimes you will go from one thing to the other looking around, shopping around, but yet, actually what you are looking for, is that sincerity within yourself, and sincerity about your path itself. Sometimes it happens for some people that they go around and years after that, they come back again.
Will it be the same or not? Well, when you have left after so many years, there is a big gap to catch up on. Of course, it will never be the same. But nevertheless, at least you have realised that this is your path and you have come back. This happens in our spiritual path. But as I said earlier, the most important thing is that you know truly once your spiritual path has revealed itself, once your Master has revealed Himself to you, forget everything else, drop everything, look only towards that, get to know only this. Like that you will be single-pointed and then you will be more strong. Because the more you are into this, the more clear you are, the more power will be inside of you, and the more strength will be awakening inside of you. But the more you are in doubt, the more you are ‘not sure’, of course, you will be weak.
If you see that you know that this is your path, but still, weakness sometimes arises, surround your path with devotees, elevated devotees, who have really gone through these things and have transcended their minds and really can help you. If not, then read the lives of the saints, and about what they go through. Understand that true spirituality is not this fantasy in which people go around just talking about spirituality. Spirituality is something that is deep. Especially we who are on the Vaishnava path and, of course, the Kriya path from Mahavatar Babaji. Mahavatar Babaji doesn’t take things superficially. He is very strict. Even on our path, being a Vaishnava you have to be strict in that.
Strict doesn’t mean you become a fanatic. But know that you belong to this path, you belong to this tradition and this is you. And you have to honour it, you have to embrace it. Like that, you can also share it with others. The more you become strong, the more you beam that light, the more you can help other people also on their path to find their way also in life, whether it is the same way or not. But as I say always, if you have tasted something wonderful, you will love to share it, but you have to know that not everybody likes the same kind of food. If they are not ready to eat what you love, you have to take your time. Like that, you have to be on a spiritual path that is strong, and you have to be clear with yourself that, ‘This is my path, this is my way, and this is who I am.’ It doesn’t matter what people think about you; stand strong upon your belief, your faith.
What is a dream? Is it an illusion or expectation? Or should we believe and hold on to our dreams?
Dreams can be a bit weird right now, because, when you are talking about dreams, many people have a dream what they want to achieve in life. This is also called a dream, and to have an aim is also called a dream, you know? You have a dream that one day you will achieve, that you will have achieved something great in life, that you will be somebody in life. That’s also a dream. I don’t think that you are asking about that right now, though!
So, what is a dream? Well, in a scientific way, it's said that a dream is a mixture of images and information that you have gathered throughout the day, and then after that when you sleep at night, you dream about certain things; it’s like a continuation. But in reality, dreams have many levels.
You have dreams which are like this because your mind is so busy in the outside world. You see, very often people are so mind-centred, and also very focused upon the external reality, which means they are focused upon the world outside. They are busy about their work, family and so on, friends and all these external things.
Because of such a mindset, they have a certain kind of dream, you know? The same drama which carries on from the day, they dream also at night as a continuation of that mind. Your mind is so tired with what you are focusing on in the outside that, even when you are sleeping, your mind is still trying to digest it. How does the mind digest it? The mind starts to play it inside of your mind, so then you also dream about it. You will dream similar to what you have lived during the day. This is one kind of dream.
Then you have another kind of dream. Normally the kinds of people that I’m going to explain right now, don’t dream so much. Their minds are calm, theirs mind are fine, but when they dream of something, it is a very strong dream. This kind of dream is called a premonition dream. So premonition awakens inside. This is a dream of the consciousness where, when you sleep, your consciousness travels. When your consciousness travels, of course, it can go to many places, and even places where you have never been in this life, you will dream about. Things that you have never done in this life, you will dream about, because it has nothing to do with this time.
Inside of you there is different reality from many lives which is all downloaded inside of you. All of them are present inside, and when you have these premonitory dreams, your soul may have travelled in previous lives of yourself, or future lives. That consciousness, when it comes back, of course, creates a certain dream that is vivid; it is clear inside of your mind. And when you wake up, you remember it. Of course, this kind of dream is a dream that you have to meditate upon and see what it is teaching you. You have to find what these dreams are telling you, you know? It’s not about going around telling people about this dream, because what has triggered these dreams is something which has happened in your life itself. In this present life. And this present life wants to teach you something that you should not carry on doing from previous lives or what you can change so that the future can be different. This is premonitory dreams.
And then you have another dream. Very often people ask, say, ‘Guruji, I have dreamt about you’, ‘Is it truly you who come in the dream?’ Actually, yes. You see, the mind is not that strong to create the image of the Master. Even if you are sitting and meditating upon it, very often you will say ‘I tried to visualise you.’ Yesterday, somebody sent me a message, saying ‘Guruji, I tried to visualise you, but I can’t visualise you.’
Imagine if just a visualisation you can’t do, do you think in the dream the Master will just come like that? No, He will not. When you dream of a saint, you dream of the Lord, Krishna, you dream of Sriman Narayana, you dream of any deity, actually you are having the blessing, you are having the grace, you are having the darshan of them directly. Sometimes they can speak a certain language in the dream, but when you are awaken, you still remember what they have told you, but you have not to take it literally. Because when they speak to your atma, to your consciousness, they speak a different language than what your mind can understand. To understand it with the mind, you would understand it in a very logical way in the outside, which is limited. So, one thing that you should do: meditate upon what you have received. This is the dream which comes with the blessing and grace.
Like I said, when the guru comes into your dream, it is the guru Himself; the Essence of the guru who has come to give you darshan and blessing, and it should not be taken for granted. You should meditate upon it and you should really absorb your mind into it, so that the mind can understand the true meaning behind what you have received.
So, I have told you about three states of dreams, which normally you could understand and really focus on.
What is the difference between our lower dharma and higher dharma? And how do we overcome fear, greed, attachment in our lower dharma in order to carry out our higher dharma?
By lower dharma, I guess what you mean is your dharma here as a human being. You see, in life you have been born here in this world, and of course, your dharma being here is what can you do to make this place a better place. This is your dharma. Which means your job, whatever path you have taken, let’s say for example you are married, your dharma as a family person, and your dharma as a brother, sister, or a child, your dharma as a parents. These are dharmas of here, which is very important. If you don’t take this seriously, how would you finish with that? You will never finish with it.
Very often people say, ‘Okay, I’m spiritual now, my dharma is finished with this.’ No, no, no, no, no. Of course, a certain karma is finished with, a certain duty is finished, but it doesn’t mean that this dharma that you were doing was not good. It was good because, through accepting this dharma, through doing what you were doing, that has brought you to your higher dharma that you have incarnated for. First, what you have to do is learn to accept in your life whatever path you have taken. Learn to accept that you have been born here and you have to do a certain duty, and really the moment you learn to accept what God has given you as your job, as your family, as your surroundings, whatever - you see when I’m saying to accept, it doesn’t mean that you have to go and jump on everybody and hug everybody, and say, ‘I love you, I love you’, whatever. No, inside of you, feel the gratitude for it, feel happy that all this you have. Without a job, you would not be where you are. All this experience you have experienced has brought you where you are standing, and through these experiences you will be made ready to truly do what you have come for.
The guru will guide you to your true dharma. One dharma you are doing, telling you that you have to accept your daily routine, but don’t forget: accept your daily routine and surrender this daily routine to the Feet of Sriman Narayana. Then on the greater picture of your true dharma, as you have been on your spiritual path, your true dharma is to also spread what you received.
You see, a real dharma is not only something material, it is also something spiritual. That’s why for the past few years I have been telling the devotees, educate yourself, learn. I told Swami Revati and now Rishi Akash, too, and the media team and so on, to spread the message. Devotees should know about the message of their guru, should know the teachings, so that they can help other people, and they can help other souls to ascend also. Not only them, but also caring for others. That’s what all great Masters have said, ‘Bring my teaching and share it with everybody.’ And this is the dharma of each devotee to do. This is the greatest dharma, because when you become the enlightenment, you become the way for somebody else, you are bringing what you have received, you are giving it to somebody else, you are sharing it, and that is one of the greatest dharmas.
I am not telling you to bring people to me. No. Bring them to Sriman Narayana. Make them aim for something that is superior, something that is beyond the concept of the mind itself. You are not doing it for me, you are doing it for the Supreme Lord Himself. And this is the dharma of each devotee to do. So, like that, it all comes to the point of accepting first what you are doing in life: love it. Love what you do and offer it to the Feet of Giridhariji.
I am an artist. How do we become our most creative selves and how do we use it to express what’s in our hearts?
PV: Oooh, I love artists! Actually, artists most of the time express what is inside of them when an artist starts to do any kind of art. I'm not talking only about painting, I'm not talking only about sculpturing, but they go into a meditative state. And in the state of meditation, what is happening left-right doesn't matter; they know, it becomes all completely irrelevant.
When you are doing what you are doing, being an artist especially, forget about the world outside, forget everything. Bring all your focus, and pour out from your heart what you have inside and put it out. Whether people appreciate your art or not, it doesn't matter. You see, when we see all the great artists, when they were alive, did anybody appreciate the art? Nobody appreciated their art. But nonetheless they have given something to this world. Nowadays you see all their art pieces are worth million and millions and millions of dollars. But it's not about the millions. Do you think when they were painting, they were thinking about the millions? No, they were not thinking about the millions, they were thinking, ‘What can I give to that culture, what can I give to that society, that will make them reflect upon something deeper inside of them?’ And that’s what was coming from inside of them they pulled out; what is inside of them, they put it outside.
Like that, what you have inside of you when you are doing your art, just put it out. It is a great meditation. Artists can really express themselves, more than anybody else. That's why I like it very much when artists talk about it. Some of them are crazy, but well, it's good sometimes to be crazy. Most of the artists are crazy anyway, so it is just through this craziness that we can express.
Well, spiritual people also are artists because we are crazy. We are crazy for God. And so, sometimes we express this craziness. People will never understand because people look in through whatever glasses they put on. If they wear red glasses, they will see everything red, if they wear yellow, they will see everything yellow. It doesn't matter.
So, be free to express what you have inside of you; be yourself. It is only by being yourself that the Divine will reveal itself.