Saturday, July 29, 2017

                        Conversations With God  7

Devotee  – Pranams Swami. Been waiting for your call.
Swami - Yes I know. You don’t want to learn anything, just sit with me, for it gives you a pleasant feeling.
D –No Swami, it gives me an elevating feeling. In the elevated Presence all learning becomes easy and clear.
S – Therefore you must create within you an elevating situation in which you can learn your lessons fast, and gradually ready yourself for the ultimate experience. That is called spiritualizing life. My purpose of giving you this special time while thousands of devotees are waiting outside is to help you and the boys to do just this, spiritualise life, their lives, and in turn life in society.
D – Swami, this appears to be a tremendous gift of Grace you are giving us with a tremendous amount of responsibility.
S – Yes, Grace comes to you by God’s will, but to retain it is your responsibility. So don’t waste precious time in frivolous pursuits, in unbecoming doubts; start restructuring your lives to carry out your responsibilities.  
D – How can we preserve this grace Swami?
S – Discipline your lives. Discipline is the twin brother of devotion. When you have these two you will know what is your duty, your dharma, and live for it. Devotion is not blind. It helps you to make right choices in life.
D –This devotion, duty, making choices all getting mixed up in my mind. Devotion is loving God sincerely, isn’t so Swami?
S - And do nothing? You will sit at one place, and sing Ram nam, and Ram will bring you food, make your bed, clean your house and your clothes, and stand guard at the door when you sleep! Is that devotion?
D – No swami, not that. How can that be devotion…. O, I am really confused.
S – Tell me who do you think is a great devotee.
D – Swami, Hanuman.
S – Good. Did he simply sit in a cave, and chant Ram…Ram…Ram..?
D – No Swami, he did so much for Lord Rama.
S – Why didn’t he simply sit at one place and sing Ram bhajans?
D – I think he wanted to express his devotion through Ramaseva. Swami, now I remember you said in one of your discourses what Hanuman told Bibhishana. When Bibhishana complained to him that he was chanting Ramanama for years, but Rama had not given His darshan to him, Hanuman told him that he was chanting Ram’s name alright, but not doing Rama’s work. He must express his love for Rama through right action. Mother Sita was imprisoned in Lanka, and he had not even informed Rama about it!
S – Yes, devotion purifies action. Without pure action devotion is ineffective. Now you understand why I need an army? I have no enemy, but I need an army to do my work, which is establishing dharma-living in the world. That is the way you can preserve my grace, doing my work.
D – Now I understand Swami.
S – My apparently getting angry with you is my way of preparing you for my work. When a mother gets angry, it means that she wants to discipline you, wants you to obey her without question, however unpleasant it may be. If you want to be my soldier, you cannot question my decision, or my intention.
D – Swami, how shall we mix discipline with devotion?
S – It is not mixing two opposites, it is recognizing one as the other’s face. When Tyagaraja was requested by the king to be his court poet, Tyagaraja asked himself, ‘O mind, is nidhi (wealth) better than sannidhi (proximity to God)?’ He spontaneously chose sannidhi. Wealth had no attraction for him in the face of devotion, and he did not arrive at this choice after disciplining his mind. It was just another face of devotion.
D –So you want to say, swami, devotion and discipline are complementary to each other?
S – Yes, you understood rightly.
D –But Swami, everybody cannot be Tyagaraja. So what about ordinary   people? We love you, but find it difficult to follow the discipline you
       impose. Why is it so?
S – Because you really don’t love me. If you love me, you will love all that I love.
D – Yes Swami, that is true.
S – Take an example. Before a girl is married into a family, she did not know them. But from the next day of her marriage she begins to look upon her husband’s family as her family. Her husband’s mother becomes her mother, his father her father, his brother her brother, and if anyone of them falls sick she feels sorry. All this happens because she loves her husband. She cannot tell her husband, as now wives are saying, they are your family, not mine. I have nothing to do with them. Similarly, if you claim you love me, you cannot say, ‘Swami, I love you, but I cannot follow all this discipline which you impose on me’, can you?
D – No Swami, I must love to follow all that.
S –When you see discipline as another face of devotion, it will have great impact on your personal and social life too.
D – Swami, devotion is a very personal thing. How can it affect our social life?
S –If you have devotion, can you indulge in hurting others, being cruel to anybody? In vengeful action? Can you distribute favour at a price? Can you buy and sell morals?
D – No Swami, apparently not.
S – You will have daiva preeti and papa bheeti; and society can be rid of the most dangerous virus, dishonesty in private and public life. This will happen, of course, if you see discipline as a face of devotion.
D – But Swami, nowadays people don’t have love for God.
S – That is not true. Why do you think hundreds of thousands of people gather here, in Prasanthinilayam? What do I give them? How many people I talk to? Still they go back to change their lives. Everyone loves God, everyone wants to be happy, to be safe, to succeed in life, to live in peace, don’t they? That is the face of devotion too. Only they don’t know, or afraid to accept, that the happiness, prosperity, success and peace they want is available when they are ready to discipline their lives.
D – Swami, this is such a wonderful idea! Why don’t people understand this?
S – Did you understand it? You only said you love me, but find it difficult to follow the discipline I impose!
D – Sorry Swami, I really said so. But when you explain anything it is so clear, and easy to understand. Swami, I have another question.
S – Ask.
D –You have been referring to discipline so often. What exactly is this discipline? Wearing white, not eating non veg, getting up in the morning, coming to college in a line etc, is this discipline?
S – All this is discipline as much as a shining silver plate without any food in it is a sumptuous dinner.
D – What! How can an empty plate be a sumptuous dinner?
S – Similarly, what you wear, what you eat, how you walk, how you speak can be symptoms of discipline, like the plate that hold the food, but real discipline in inside you. It is in your thoughts, in your beliefs, in your way of life. Discipline is dharma-living, in unity of thought, word and deed. It is compassion, it is truthfulness, it is purity of action, it is seeing God in all.
D – Swami, this sounds very interesting, but very difficult to follow.
S – Do you participate in the Sports and Cultural festival we celebrate every year?
D – Yes swami.
S - What did you do last year?
D – I was in the bike stunt.
S – You just took your bike, drove into the stadium, and started performing?
D – No Swami, what do you say! We had to practise it 8 to 10 hours every day
       for more than two weeks.
S – Why did you undertake such a difficult task?
D – Swami, we want to please you by our action. The thought of your smiling at us, and saying well-done makes it easy for us.
S – Similarly, any work can be difficult if it is done without love. If you love to live a great life, a life of spiritual fulfillment, you will not take any work as difficult. I have told boys on many occasions there are three ways you can approach you life’s work: one without love, second with love, and third love without work.
D – Yes swami, I heard that, can’t say I understood it properly.
S – Take the first, with a little change, discipline without love. Since you are forcing to discipline yourself, you will drop it at the slightest pretext. Therefore, when you go home during holidays, some of you take it as a big relief. Second, discipline with love. As long as you love me, you will follow all discipline willingly. But if I don’t respond to you the way you want, you get angry with me, and rebel against all codes of discipline you followed so long. But if you really love me, truly love me, all discipline will come naturally to you.
D – Yes Swami, that is true. You are the greatest teacher on earth, You can make us understand even the toughest idea easily.
S – Even the greatest teacher can do nothing to an unwilling student.
D – Swami, one more question.
S – That’s enough for today. Next week you can ask your question. In the meantime keep contemplating on what I said today.
D – Thank you Swami.


Monday, July 24, 2017


                                                                  KING EAGLE 

King Eagle was expecting a crown prince.
He is now old, and needs a son to accept his responsibility. Their earlier children were either very weak, or could not survive their childhood. This time they had prayed to God Vayu to give them a crown prince to continue the legacy. King Eagle is almost sure God Vayu would grant his wish.

When the prince was born, there was great rejoicing around their tree palace. Birds of all species, dear to King Eagle were invited to see the new baby breaking the shell and shrieking into the light of a new life. The little thing decided to take revenge on the flimsy walls which imprisoned him for long, and with a powerful peck of his well formed beak destroyed the shell to leap from darkness to light. He was a beautiful specimen of the King of Air, and almost immediately made his presence felt. King Eagle knew God Vayu had given him not only an heir, but someone who would set new standards of royalty. The Queen mother fed him with carefully picked dishes. Looking at his appetite she was satisfied that at last she had succeeded in perpetuating the king’s dynasty. The invitees had some repast, and returned both satisfied, and scared. Satisfied that King Eagle would not fault them, and scared that this boy was going to exercise his authority ruthlessly.

And the little heir, who was named Akash, grew up fast as if by magic. King Eagle knew his hold on his long life was getting weaker by day, and the little Akash knew he must tighten his hold on life. Around him lay a huge world, for that was what his father, King Eagle, told him, and above an immense sky, his namesake. He had to conquer both, he had to prove what the father did the son could do better. But King Eagle knew Akash had to go a long way to realise his dreams. King Eagle remembered his own childhood with his father. His father doted on him, but during learning times he was a block of stone. That paid him good dividends in the long run. He would make his son too go through the same hard school.  

It was a bright day, gentle and quiet. Both father and son were sitting on the top branch of their home tree. King Eagle was silent, looking at the horizon, as if he knew what lay there across the wall of invisibility. Akash wanted to ask him many questions, but he respected father’s silence. Though he loved his father immensely, he was always awed by his presence. But when he sat with his father Akash always felt there was nothing he could not achieve, nowhere he could not go, no impediment he could not shatter. When his father sat like that on top of a branch, or a tall rock, Akash would keep looking at him, his strong legs, powerful wings, penetrating eyes, the golden beak reaching out from a shapely and muscular neck which appeared as if it can shift a snow-clad peak. He would be overwhelmed by his father’s personality, and knew no other growing child had a father like his. He would always thank God Vayu for giving him such a wonderful father, for his mother had told him that God Vayu was their family Deity, and the Lord of earth and sky.

Suddenly King Eagle turned, looked at his son, and smiled. A wave of great warmth filled the adoring son’s heart. He came closer to him, and said,   “Dad”…
         “Yes, my son…”
         “I wanted to ask you some questions”.
         “Yes, go on, son…”
         “Dad, you are the king of earth and sky?”
          “God Vayu is, I am only asked by him to look after his kingdom. So shall you do after me.”
          “After you means you are going somewhere?”
          “I have to leave when God Vayu relieves me from my charge.”
          “And go where?”
          “Wherever God Vayu takes me. You don’t worry about all that. Now your work is to grow
           up fast and prepare to take up my responsibility.”
 Akash thought for some time, and asked,
           “But Dad, if you are not around who would look after me?”
           “I cannot always be with you to look after you. You must learn to look after yourself, and
            this kingdom too. You are the crown prince, after me you shall be crowned king, and
            then you have to do what I have been doing all these years.”
          “What have you been doing all these years, dad?”
           “Keeping the earth and sky safe for all the birds.”
It was a new revelation for Akash. So his father has been a protector for all the birds flying around their home. His heart was filled with pride. But he felt that pride is a heavy thing to carry. He almost felt the heaviness on his shoulders.
            “Yes my son?”
            “Surely it was not easy to carry such a load for so many years?”
            “Well, I never asked for a lighter weight. I knew it was my duty to look after 
             my subjects, and when you love them, there is no weight in love.”
            “Dad, I don’t think I understood that properly.”
            “You will, when you accept the responsibility.”
             “But I want you to be always with me.”
             “You are my son. So I will always be in your heart guiding you.”
             “But why can’t you be with me like this, talking to me?”
             “The rule of God Vayu is that every father must give his responsibility to his son when
              the son grows up so that he could be as big as his father.”
             “So you are saying that in order that I must be as big as you, you must leave me?”
King Eagle smiled at the cleverness and loyalty of his son.
              “It is not like that my son. We have to follow rules so that everybody will know some
               rules cannot be broken. They will discipline themselves, and the king’s work shall be
               easier. There will be peace in the world, and the weak birds shall be safe from the
               rogue birds.”
Akash thought for some time, and nodded. King Eagle was happy that his son would soon be ready to take up his life’s work.
               “And Dad….”
               “Yes my son…”
               “Will that make you happy?”
               “Very much. I can leave with satisfaction that I have a worthy son.”
               “Why? Did you have any doubts about that?”
               “Not really. But you have to prove that.”
               “Why do you need me prove what you already know?”
               “Not to me, but to your subjects who need to be confident about your ability.”
               “How can I do so?”
               “By training hard. You have to train your mind to understand when God Vayu speaks 
                from your heart. Then train your body to do what God Vayu tells your mind.”
Akash thought for a long while, then said,
               “Dad, it is very hard to understand.”
King Eagle suddenly opened out his wings and flew away like an arrow. Before Akash could take the surprise move, King Eagle caught up with a hawk who was after a baby dove. When the hawk found King Eagle coming towards him, he changed his direction and flew away. King Eagle returned to his home tree, and sat by his son.
                “Dad, how could you see the hawk and the dove at such a distance?”
                “O that is nothing. I can see beyond that mountain peak. You must be able to see far
                 if you must protect the weak and the helpless. And you must learn to do it fast. You
                 can’t say, let it be, anyway I am not affected. When you do God Vayu’s work, you
                 must not think of yourself.”
                “Dad, but doves are food of hawks. You prevented the hawk from getting its food.
                  Was that right ?”
King Eagle was glad his son had started thinking about right and wrong.
                 “Doves are one of the most beautiful birds created by God Vayu. And they cannot
                  defend themselves against hawks. If allowed, hawks can destroy all the doves
                  in the sky. I cannot allow complete destruction of such a beautiful race. So I 
                   protected it.”
                  “I understand. You have to see far, decide what is right and wrong, stand up for the
                   weak and helpless, outfly the rogue bird… dad, did the God Vayu ask you do this?’
                  “When you purify your mind by long practice, God Vayu’s thoughts would flash in
                   your mind.”
                   “How long one has to practise?”
                   “Depends on how strong is your desire to learn.”
                   “When are you starting my training dad?”
                   “From tomorrow. Tomorrow is your third birthday. It is time to start.”
                   “Dad, what are you going to teach me?”
                   “You will first learn to overcome space and time.”
                   “O, dad, why can’t you speak in a language your son can understand?”
                   “Nothing is difficult for my son. You have to learn flying in high speed. Low speed,
                    sideways flying, arrow flying etc. That is overcoming space. You have to eat well,
                    and get strong for this practice.”
                   “And overcoming time?”
                   “When you decide to do a good thing, do it immediately. Don’t tell yourself,
                     tomorrow I will do it, or day after, or let me think more about it, or why should I 
                     do it first?  Let others start, and then I will follow. There is no wisdom in inviting
                     risk, or some such thing. You will gradually learn all about it.”
                    “And then?”
                    “And then your training would come to a very exciting final stage.”
                     “What is that dad?”
                     “You will learn to make friends with the sky.”
                     “Make friends with the sky? How does one do that?”
                     “This is the most rewarding, and most practical part of your training. You will go to   the Eagle Peak, where generations of eagles go for their final training, and live there alone with the sky all around you until you see the face of God Vayu in the sky, see Him everywhere, outside and inside of yourself. It is like a fish living in water completely surrounded by it. You will gradually be lost in that glorious experience of God Vayu surrounding you on all sides.”
                     “Is it a scaring experience?”
                     “No it is a very delightful experience.”
                     “But is it necessary, for example, to rule a kingdom?”
                      “Very much. After that you will be able to love everything more and more, the birds on sky, as well as trees around you on earth. That will teach you compassion, and sacrifice. Without compassion, and sacrifice you cannot be a king. After you experience that on the Eagle Peak, come back, I will crown you king, and retire.”

King Eagle had been waiting for his son for months. He had gone away for his last stage of training months ago, and the light from the eyes of the old king was fading away. He could not leave without declaring him king, for that was the order of God Vayu, nor could he carry the burden of a long life any further. His soul was crying out for release from the cage, to be one with the sky, and God Vayu. But Akash hadn’t yet completed his training. The queen had left him, the world around was changing very fast. Birds didn’t seem to have as much faith in his words as he had seen when his father was the king. But he had faith in his son. Akash had been an intelligent boy, a hardworking, and stubborn boy. Besides, he kept him under personal supervision, and loved him both as a father and mother when the queen left them a few weeks after Akash was born.

King Eagle woke up from a daydream. That familiar modulation, a little gruffy notwithstanding. A voice you can tell embodied power, confidence and affection, even without opening your eyes. There was only one person who could call him dad. And King Eagle was wafted back years when he had stood by his ailing father after returning from the Eagle Peak. King Eagle had lost count of time. It was as if he was expanding through the corridors of time bursting at all seams, spreading all over the earth and sky, merging in all that ever was, and shall be. He saw himself sitting in front of his son, or himself? He didn’t have to open his eyes though.

“Dad, I have completed my training. You were correct. You were always correct. Now I can experience God Vayu all around me. I know He is all this, and in all this. The experience of this oneness fills me with love for everything, the birds, beasts as well as the trees, the hills, and the rivers. Dad, thank you for your patient training. Now I understand what it means to be a king, unless he experiences himself in smallest of his subjects he cannot be bigger than them.”

King Eagle opened his eyes, smiled at the new king, and allowed his soul to leave the cage.