by Smt. Susmita Devi
After many years, Ramen and I have taken up, yet again, to reading the words of Sri Sri Babathakur . We decided to do so, to refresh the memory of his direct sayings from Nectar of Wisdom.
At the time, I jotted down whatever I heard at His Holy feet, considering it only as a help to myself.... and that later, much later, after he would have left the physical body, someone might benefit from His words of Wisdom. When He was in a body, I already knew that His words, later, might benefit a sincere seeker of Wisdom - as they were communicated directly by the Master. That is why He, before the publishing, listened to every word written and accepted it as His direct words and the beginning of a sincere Sadhana. He then gave it the title ‘Nectar of Wisdom’. None can therefore say that the book describes a personal outlook.
Ramen, being of an intellectual bend of mind, started with the introduction as dictated by Sri SriBabathakur himself, which I found too difficult to put in plain words and describe. So I requested Ramen to read something else. Yesterday he randomly chose a chapter called ‘Desire and Expectation’, which seekers must try to work through in order to progress and to stabilize mind-work and ego-sense appropriately.
During our upbringing and in social life, we do NOT learn to curb our desires and expectations with regards to material/monetary rewards for our endeavours. The chapter starts with the following question: ”Why, when one has a desire, a deep expectation, the desire or expectation is fulfilled only when the mind has become detached?” Sri Sri Babathakur immediately replies that “Desire is ignorance itself, or ‘nescience’, in the form of expectations.... The True Self has no desire. It has but one supreme Will. The Divine will. The Divine Will is free from reactionary effects that means objective desire, The Divine Will is free from reactionary effects (objective desires, expectations etc.)”.
I have often reflected on the above sayings. As far as I know, none can avoid having desires during their lifetime. The trick, as I experience it, is to sublimate or negate worldly desires when they pop up in the mind. Most desires are directed towards self-satisfaction in some form or other – be it in a material or subtle form. Most desires are rooted in self-preservation, self gratification, self-glorification/beautification and are, per se, subjective in character. A few desires are about altruistic endeavours, but at the beginning of the path to Realization, most are meant to satisfy the individuality, the ego. Sri Sri Babathakur said it clearly: “When the human desire becomes prominent and invites both organs of knowledge and action, one becomes active in life.... in both external and internal life.” He added that the carrying out of desires needs effort - either mental or economical. One’s wide-ranging desires and behaviour must somehow be addressed, otherwise they manifest as burdens that we plant on ourselves. That is where spiritual endeavours come into the game.
Even by yielding somewhat to the conventions of the environment with regards to behaviour, the inner Self can remain unaffected if one constantly remains aware of the reason behind one’s worldly behaviour and desires. I have, by and by, learned to ignore conventions - as far as it does not hurt anyone’s local cultural outlook. Sri Sri Babathakur says: “In one sense desire is the product of duality.... Nature, without desire can’t function and nature without the basic Divine Will can’t function. The difference between the Divine Will and the desire of man is that, Divine will is universal, hence spiritual, and the latter individual, hence intellectual. That means the latter pertains to the non-self.” The words are true, but it is very, very difficult to distinguish between one’s individuality-related desires and the desires rooted in Divine Will. The capacity to distinguish one from the other happens only after genuine and prolonged sadhana (spiritual practice). Sri Sri Babathakur further point out that: “The Self is Pure Consciousness and is inactive; intellect is not really consciousness, but only a reflection of it – and it is active. It is, sure, very difficult to grasp how these two entities become interrelated and their respective characters intermingled... so only by realizing the Truth, one can perceive it.”
Individuals on a spiritual path often think they recognize Divine in their meditations, but that is mostly due to the inventiveness of mind - for the Divine is without a specific form. How can it be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent within a ‘form’ perceptible by human mind? As a reflection of Consciousness passing through the mind, we see in our mind's eye, a form. It is ephemeral, but may occasionally take the form of one’s Guru, who is supposed to function as a direct channel for such visions. Intellect, which we use to interpret many aspects of the Divine, is but a modification of Nature (Prakriti), which can be conditioned to elevate itself occasionally to the ephemeral level of so-called visions. “Owing to the proximity to the Self, it is perceived to be the doer, the experience etc.. In reality it is not so. Intellect or ego is misunderstood and misinterpreted to be the Self... So the ego, born of duality, can’t understand the Unity of Consciousness...” It can however learn, or be trained, to accept the concept of the basic unity in dual appearances.
We must therefore in our daily life activities, return to duality in order to experience both agreeable and disagreeable happenings. By repeating our mistakes, we may someday learn to avoid them by changing the mindset and behaviour to suit the aspirations for creating positive re-actions. Yet as a daily routine, it can be recommended to practice meditation (practice of stilling the mind and detaching it from daily occupations and thoughts) and conscious ‘positive thinking’, eventually leading to caring less about the fluctuating opinions amongst the people we happen to befriend or live with.
When the mind is stilled and the ego made subservient, the concepts of Consciousness may become clear indications to what lies beyond and above the normal mind-work. So, if one asks oneself ‘Who am I’ or ‘What am I’, it becomes clear that the “I” is beyond any question, as it verily is Divine Knowledge instead of name and form, along with social position and eventual wealth.
In daily life, one must attempt to distinguish clearly between desires of individual character and those emanating from the Highest Power working throughout our existence on this earth. If the mind is allowed to play around with worldly desires as dictated by the ego (and some because of social practices), no progress on the spiritual path can happen – or if one is sincere, but yields too much to one’s social environment, it happens very slowly in uneven steps. Sri Sri Babathakur says: “Objective desires turn to subjective desires only when the objective desires are proved or experienced as mischievous and retroactive. One, therefore, must try to follow some cardinal virtues and values of life...and some suitable spiritual discipline suitable for his or her individual character and inherent nature.”
Living in the midst of an ‘across-the-board’ society, it is quite difficult to maintain one’s spiritual practices. I myself kept silent (moun) once a week for 24 hours despite the other people around me valiantly trying to make me talk. I also as an example, decided to wear only blue dresses, as blue both signifies spiritual aspirations as well as is easy to maintain. Any spiritual practice followed regularly gives mental strength and an inner certitude of doing as much as possible for one’s spiritual progress. I actually remembered Sri Sri Babathakur’s words from a lecture: “A true seeker will devote himself or herself wholeheartedly to the cause of spiritual perfection and liberation in life and the objective desires will be put under control, mastered, and finally they will disappear along with anger, fear and futile cares... that means Absolute Freedom in realization of Reality, Self or God.”
Being ‘on the path’ towards Self-realization is no easy task, for both body and mind undergoes noticeable transformations, and one’s whole life changes character – from being self-centered, to becoming altruistic. One becomes much more aware of the major personal transformations one must undergo, so that thoughts of that Divine become an integral part of one’s daily life. For me it started at a snail's pace, as I had to adjust to different ways of life (food, language, environment and though patterns). Thus only gradually did I become ‘Indianized’ to the extent that I now feel ‘at home’ in this country with its countless varieties of nature, languages, food, climate, deities and beliefs. The overarching aim, amidst the apparent diversity, is to recognize them for what they are – i.e. the Divine Lila (play of God). A sentence which describes that is the formula learned at the feet of Sri Sri Babathakur: One in One, One for One, One with One... etc.
A spiritual path is rarely straight and easy to follow, but through the guidance of a Sadguru like Sri Sri Babathakur, it is possible to go through one’s existence on earth following one’s chosen path, slowly learning to remain serene in the midst of the multitude of events happening every day, and enjoying the growing devotional or knowledge peace within.