Continuing our feature Getting
Spiritually Better, we offer below the sixth instalment.
We hope you like it, and would share it with others who are
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Thank you and Jai Sai Ram.
ANALYSE THE RISK, BEFORE YIELDING TO ATTRACTIONS AND DESIRES
Some of the points mentioned earlier must no doubt have seemed
scary. However, we should not take an unnecessarily dim or
gloomy view of the current state of affairs. Rather, we must
learn from history what we must do and what we ought
not to do. If there are deficiencies in us, we must
firmly resolve to correct ourselves and eliminate those defects.
That is the right and proper thing to do.
OK, agreed we have to transform; but how to go about it?
Actually, there is no shortage of rule-books that prescribe
all the Do's and Don'ts. In fact, such rule-books have been
there from the distant past; yet, mankind today is deep in
trouble. Why? Because man today is not convinced that
following spiritual discipline is beneficial to him.
Swami says this absence of conviction is the result of a
lack of deep analysis. Man analyses in depth when he has to
buy a house, or make a financial investment. But when it comes
to matters spiritual, he has no time to enquire; he takes
the easy way out by ignoring the ancient golden rules. Some
would say that man today is guided more by "short-term"
gains rather than "long-term" benefits. Swami says
that if man clearly understands the dangers involved in some
of the actions that seem so attractive, he would refrain from
engaging in them.
Baba gives a nice example. There is a marriage feast, and
a tasty sweet pudding is about to be served. This is the dish
that all guests have been looking forward to. The serving
has commenced. Just then, a person who is associated with
the host announces: "Attention everybody. We regret to
inform you that while the pudding was being prepared, a poisonous
insect fell into it. Therefore, kindly do not eat the sweet
dish. Please reject it. We are very sorry and we apologise."
Baba says that the pudding which till then everyone was eagerly
awaiting, is now looked upon with revulsion. Why? Because,
everyone is aware of the danger. In the same way, all things
of the world that promise sensual pleasure of one kind or
the other, have lurking dangers associated with them. Once
the dangers are identified by clear analysis, then people
would not be tempted to do what earlier seemed very attractive.
This is true, and the revulsion to smoking that followed
the discovery that smoking causes lung cancer and heart diseases
proves the point. However, not all are convinced, and that
is because they have not analysed matters in depth. Some take
an escapist view. Take corruption, for example. In a corrupt
society, an individual often says, "What is the point
of my trying not to be corrupt? OK, I will not take bribes,
but to get anything done, I have to bribe left and right;
otherwise, nothing happens. Under these circumstances, does
it make any sense for me to be idealistic? In fact such a
step would be stupid, and like Don Quixote tilting at the
windmills." This kind of argument is quite common. Basically,
such arguments arise because the individual concerned (a)
does not have faith in the power of Dharma,
and (b) does not realise that one day, he has to pay the price,
even though it might not be immediately. In fact, it is the
false sense of security provided by the idea that one can
'get away' that makes most people to ignore in-depth analysis,
the price one eventually has to pay, etc. The consequences
of evil Karma, Swami says, will
finally chase one like the 'bloodhound from hell'. There is
no way to escape from that bloodhound. But people labour under
the illusion that there is no such retribution, and that they
can really get away with anything, provided they are smart.
Dharma can never be outsmarted,
nor cheated. To think so is utter stupidity; yet, 99%
of the people firmly believe that there is nothing to worry.
The seeker must get rid of such false notions. In fact, the
true seeker should say: "I don't care about success or
failure. I will NOT violate Dharma
under any circumstance, because that would mean being
untrue to myself." Shakespeare said therefore, "Above
all, to thine own Self be true." Who is this Self that
Shakespeare is talking about? It is none other than what Swami
refers to as the Real Self, the true Inner Being, the Atma,
Following Dharma requires courage,
especially when Adharma becomes
the norm. That courage can be got through prayer. One must
be determined and have the feeling, "Come what may, I
shall not flinch." Suppose a soldier decides that his
life is precious and flees during battle, even though it might
cost his country. Would the average citizen accept such behaviour?
He would feel revolted. Yet, this very same person would not
mind reneging on his own duty! One cannot have one set of
rules for others and a different set for one's own self. But
this precisely is what many people seem to want these days.
No, if a soldier has the duty to sacrifice for his country
and Society, so does every member of the Society; no one is
exempt, though individuals may imagine that certain rules
apply only to certain people. The entire Universe is delicately
built around a chain of balanced give and take, of selfless
sacrifice. No one has the right to tamper with this delicate
Taking everything together, it should be clear that spirituality
is intimately related to many day-to-day matters, matters
that affect individuals as well as society. It is thus a very
practical affair and not something far-removed or esoteric,
as many mistakenly imagine. If any proof is needed, then Swami's
life provides the best example. The million things that Baba
does as a part of His daily routine that everyone takes so
much for granted, reflect nothing but the principle of selflessly
giving the most and receiving the least.
ADDITIONAL NOTES RELATING TO THE ABOVE
One must be careful even while walking. If one is not
careful, one would stumble. And if one is unlucky, the
stumble may even result in a bad injury like a fracture,
Likewise, while going through life, one must be very
careful. In particular, one must have a clear agenda of
Do's and Don'ts. One must be able to say: "This I
shall do, and this I never shall!"
In many areas of the world, troubles erupt. These may
be famous tourist destinations but when troubles erupt,
many governments issue travel advisories. They say: "We
advise our citizens to avoid travelling to such and such
a country." And most citizens take such warnings
quite seriously. Why? Because they are afraid that if
they did go to that destination, they would be in danger.
They are not prepared to take the risk of travel.
But curiously, people who are quite prepared to take
seriously the warnings of governments, do not take seriously
the warnings of the Wise or even the Conscience. This
shows the power of the senses to delude.
The senses are outward looking. That is the way God
has made them. However, they easily overstep their boundaries,
and tempt man. If the Mind is not strong, then the Mind
falls for what the senses say, and trouble follows immediately.
Some people are very much under the control of the senses.
Yet, deep within, they want to change. They say: "I
want to change but I am unable to. What should I do?"
There are many strategies one can adopt. Supposing there
is a poor man who wastes all his money on liquor. This
poor man has a child whom he loves very much. The child
becomes very sick. Money is needed for treatment. There
is little money and if even that is spent on drink, the
man has to lose his child. In such a case, love triumphs.
The man says, "Enough is enough; I must save my child's
life. I will not drink. I shall instead use that money
for treatment." This is a case where love provides
Love for God, love for Baba can do similar if not greater
wonders. Thousands of people who thought they could not
live without meat, who thought they must have their smoke
and drink, have given it all up, because they felt that
they must do so, if they truly loved Baba.
Once there was an opium addict. One day, a Wise man
came to the village where this addict lived. This man
desperately wanted to give up the drug habit but try as
he might, he could not succeed. He then decided to seek
the counsel of the Wise one. The Wise man heard the young
addict patiently and said, "You don't have to give
up the opium habit overnight. But you must strictly follow
my instructions if you really want to get over the habit."
The young man agreed. The Wise man then told the addict,
"Take a piece of chalk and with it write the word
OM three times. After that you can take opium, but only
corresponding to the size of the chalk; not one bit more."
The young man did precisely that; day by day, the amount
he consumed decreased until one day, he was totally cured
of the habit.
It must be mentioned that not always is such a slow
withdrawal the proper procedure. Sometimes, it becomes
necessary to let go instantly. To stress the point, Swami
says, "You pick up something thinking it is a rope
and then you suddenly realise it is a cobra. Would you
keep holding it or slowly release or let go instantly?"
The answer is obvious.
In modern times, people often get drawn to bad habits
on account of two important reasons. First there is the
strong persuasion from what might be called the Sin Industry,
especially via most distracting advertisements. Second
is peer pressure. The young, particularly, want to "belong"
and be counted by their peers. So, for gaining acceptance,
they readily plunge into doing things they would otherwise
not quite be willing to. As a matter of fact, peer pressure
is the consequence of fashions, which are often shaped
by the Desire-cum-Sin Industry. In short, there are many
rackets to trap the gullible, and it therefore becomes
all the more important to analyse thoroughly for oneself,
the various risks involved in giving in to the temptations
proposed by the senses.
People can be quite careful when they want to. For example,
Westerners are often shocked by the way people drive in
South Asian countries. With great astonishment they ask,
"Don't these people understand that if they drive
like this they are likely to kill and also get killed?"
But unfortunately, what seems blatantly obvious to them,
is not to the crazy drivers! It is the same with giving
in to the senses. In this game, the Wise are like the
westerners while the foolish and indulgent people are
like the crazy drivers. What is obvious to the Wise is
not so to the people who are led by the senses.
It is worth stressing that while risk analysis is important
and necessary, there must be a greater compelling force
urging one to stay on the right path. One must stick to
righteousness and not pander to the senses because it
is one's DUTY to do so! This is a very important point
and must not be lost sight of.
A person who truly loves God must say, "I will
simply NOT do this, because God would not like to see
me do it!" That is the way to fight off temptation.
If love for God is strong, even the greatest of temptations
can be kept at bay.
In short, risks apart, we have a DUTY to be moral. We
must avoid being immoral not because it would be advantageous
to our health etc. No doubt, preserving one's health is
an important point. However, the over-riding consideration
must flow from one's conviction in morality.
POINTS TO PONDER OVER