Mahant Jagdish Das Shastri
When we are talking about Sahaj Yoga there are two words – Sahaj and Yoga. The definition of Yoga given by Bhagwan Patanjali is very nice: Yogashchit vritti nirodha. That is a very good aphorism. When he says Yogashchit vritti nirodha he means that control over thought waves is yoga. When I am speaking about Sahaj Yoga, I would like to go deeper than thoughts. What is deeper than thoughts? In reality, emotions are deeper than thoughts. You can think of many things. You can think that you do not want to be angry, but your emotions will compel you to be angry, because the emotions are always stronger than thoughts. Thus if somebody wants to do Sahaj Yoga the first thing that person should have is purity of emotions. I am not talking about purity of thoughts because that is on the surface. Emotion is deep seated, so the purity of emotions is very important. How can one achieve purity of emotions? There are many things to do, but there are four aspects I will like to talk about. The first is an attitude of friendliness. The second is compassion. The third is cheerfulness, and the fourth is gratitude. In this world, generally, people have developed qualities opposite to these. Thus instead of friendliness we see hatred and enmity. With these there cannot be peace or joy. One who is friendly towards all, hating no one is indeed a great person. All the saints were friendly towards every living being.
We have the examples from the lives of the saints. A saint was once bathing in a river and he saw a scorpion floating and thought that it will drown. So due to compassion, he took the scorpion on his palm and tried to save it. The scorpion stung him because it was it’s nature, and it fell back into the water. The saint again lifted it and the scorpion stung him again. The saint lifted it a third time, and somebody on the shore saw what was happening. The man asked the saint why he was doing it when the scorpion was stinging him repeatedly. The saint said: “I cannot give it up because it will die”. The man said: “But that scorpion stings you”. Then the saint said: “If the scorpion cannot give up its own nature of stinging, why should I give up my nature of compassion, of protecting life”? This illustrates the friendliness of the saint towards every living being. If friendliness is in your hearts, and if it becomes your nature, then you will find that you will be saintly. You will spread friendliness wherever you go. So friendliness is the first aspect of purifying the emotions. If you have enmity towards anybody, then your emotions will not be pure. Generally, we see that there is in the world more hatred than love. That is why there is war. War is going on between India and Pakistan, NATO is bombing Yugoslavia, and there are wars in South Africa, Congo and other African countries, and more recently with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of hatred, there is no peace. If people will truly know the value and power of peace and love, then the world will be more enjoyable.
We have seen that people develop power through enmity and anger. Anger creates power and a person with anger can do many harmful things. Hitler did it. He said that if you want to have power, you should create enemies and if there are none, then you should imagine enemies. That is why he told the people that all the Jews were enemies. This gave him the power and he wanted to conquer the world. But the power that comes from hatred is never good; the power which comes from love is great and can benefit everyone. At birth a baby has fear because of unfamiliar conditions and environment. In the womb it felt safe and the mother supplied all its needs. You may have heard the phrase, bhy bina hote na preet (without fear you cannot have love) but that is not true. With fear there can never be love as whatever you do will be by compulsion, and not from your heart. There will be no love. When love develops inside, then that is the great moment in your life. Therefore, saints of India, sages and rishis explained that there is difference between love and passion. Love always develops from inside, but passion will always need an outside source. Anger never comes from inside; it will always need an outside source. Hatred never comes from inside; it will always need an outside source. So all the opposite qualities of friendliness come from outside. What comes from inside is spontaneous. That is Sahaj. When you depend on outside things, they are not really spontaneous. So when we are talking about this Sahaj Yoga, the Sahaj in itself has to be spontaneous. We must thus develop friendliness of character. It is easy to develop enmity, but it is hard to develop friendliness.
One day a person came to see Saint Rabia, a Muslim saint, and she used to read the Koran everyday. One day she came across a line that said love God and hate Satan. She took a pencil and scratched the words that said ‘hate Satan’. One day a saint, Hassan, visited her, and was reading the Koran. He asked Rabia why hate Satan was scratched. No one has this power to spoil the Koran. Who is higher than Digambar, the messenger Mohammed? Rabia said that she did it. So the Fakir said, “I thought you were a saint and you scratched the words from the Koran”. Then Rabia said yes, “I scratched it”. She said, “My heart is so full of love, there is no space for hatred, so from where shall I bring hatred for Satan”? When there is love hatred cannot enter, because hatred comes from outside and the love comes from inside. You don’t need anything to develop love, but when someone says, “I love you”, he is begging to hear “I love you too”. When you beg for love you will never get love. You may call your child, and say, “Give me a hug then I will give you chocolate”. You are begging for love, and you will never get real love. When there is love in your heart you will share it, you will just give it, you will never beg because the begging does not come on the path of love. That is why I said that emotions are greater than thoughts. When you are friendly with everybody, you will have no enemy, and you will develop detached love. That is why Guru Kabir said that he was seeking the welfare of everyone. All saints have explained this type of love.
The next quality is compassion. Compassion is the hallmark of the saints. Read the stories of their character: Compassion of Mahavir, compassion of Buddha, compassion of Guru Kabir and others. When you have compassion you will like to improve the world. You will like to help someone else who is in trouble, who is in pain. Have you ever seen any child who is crying on the street and you go and wipe his tears. If you can do that you are following the path of compassion. And because of compassion, a person becomes a saint. When Christ was crucified he said, “O God, forgive these people for they know not what they do”. He said more than that. He said, “O God, please forgive me, for saying to forgive these people. O God, these people are very good really, and what they are doing is removing the distance between you and me. So I am very grateful to them”. And when that kind of knowledge is there, that is really compassion, which also comes from the inside. Think of Mahavir. People tortured him, threw stones on him, and nailed his ears, but he did not say anything against them. He had only compassion for them, as that was his nature. His nature was just like that of a tree. You throw stones on the tree laden with fruit, it will return fruits. He was vivasht -unable to do what other people can do. He could not return their cruelty, because he had no hatred. There was a saint Al Hallaj Mansur. There is no saint in the world who was tortured like him. The king did not want him to live on his land, and also he wanted to kill him. First he ordered that people should throw stones on him. Everyone threw stones on him as he walked down the street. His gurubhai (spiritual brother), Junaid, knew that Mansur was not wrong, but if he did not throw something, then the king will punish him. So instead of throwing a stone he threw a flower, and Mansur cried out in pain saying that the stones did not hurt him, but the flower did, as it was thrown by one who loved him, whereas the others knew no better. Mansur’s skin was peeled off, his hands and legs were cut. His eyes were dug out, and ultimately he was put on a pointed iron that pierced his body. At that time he said, “O Lord, I know that these people cannot take away love from me. This king cannot take this love from me, and I know that You are here. I have love for You and I am coming to see You now. And I know that you are coming to me”. He said that the pointed iron was the staircase to enter into his Father’s kingdom. He had no hatred. He was full of love and compassion.
Now comes the third quality which is cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is very important in order to have pure emotions. When your emotions are pure then you will be cheerful. When your emotions are impure you will never be cheerful, even if you try. But it is better to be cheerful. A man in Bombay had a gloomy face, so when he took over his father’s business he started to lose business because his face was always gloomy, never laughing. People did not want to talk to him. Then somebody told him that he should learn to smile to improve his business. But the man said that his face was like that – and he could not smile? Then his friend advised him to get plastic surgery to make a smiling face. He liked the idea and had the plastic surgery, and his face was now smiling all the time. Now his business started to grow and he became a rich person. Whether people bought of not, he was smiling, and people liked his smiling attitude. One day he got a telegram from the village that his mother passed away. He went to see his mother and everybody was standing around his mother’s dead body and was crying, and he was smiling. Everybody was asking why he was smiling? He said, “I am crying”. They said that he did not look like he was crying, but smiling. They did not like his smiling at such a time and they threw him out. You should know where you have to smile. You cannot laugh at a person who is falling down. If you laugh at that person it means that you don’t have compassion. You need to know where to be cheerful by using your discretion.
Cheerfulness is very important. Some saints explain that you have to live in this world with happiness and spread happiness all over. There was a saint in India who was always joyful. Whoever came in contact with him experienced that joy. He said that nobody should have a gloomy face. Have cheerfulness, have joy, rejoice in the world. He had many followers. They loved him very much because he was always full of joy which he shared. A time came when he was about to die. Three days before, he called all his disciples and told them that he was going to leave this body and that they must not cry. Make his death jubilant, enjoy it, and celebrate it. For three days he told many jokes, and made the people laugh heartily. On the final day he called them and said: “When you place me on the funeral pyre, do not remove my clothes, and do not bathe me. Just place my body on the funeral pyre. They obeyed his instructions, but they were feeling sad. When the fire ignited, fireworks was displayed. He had worn a long coat with many pockets in which he had hidden many firecrackers. The people were surprised and marveled at the display, and they all laughed. Even in death this saint made people cheerful. All saints do not want people to be unhappy. They themselves endured suffering with equanimity, and have taught others to accept adversity with cheerfulness.
The last quality to develop is gratitude. Can you imagine how you would feel if someone is ungrateful to you when you have done something good for him? Gratitude encourages people to be helpful towards others. When someone is ungrateful you do not feel like doing anything for him. Bur gratitude should go way back to God for giving you the gift of life and the air, water, sunshine and food that grows by His power. Next you should be grateful to parents who brought you into the world and loved and nurtured you. You need to be grateful to teachers who are the means for you to get knowledge. Similarly you need to be grateful to the government, the police force, the civil authorities that take care of various needs of society, and also to anyone who shares your sorrows, or has words of wisdom for you. To be grateful requires the giving up of ego, pride and vanity. Develop humility, and gratitude will become natural to you.
Once you develop the above qualities, and make them a natural part of your personality, and sense the presence of God in your heart, and in the hearts of all beings, then Sahaj yoga is your natural accomplishment. Peace, contentment and happiness will be your rewards.