The function of a spiritual teacher as has been taught by my Master is not to distribute lollipops —everybody sucks on the lollipops and sits happily thinking this is the world. It is to face the reality, to look at life, to see where we stand, how we have improved; are we moving forward, or are we still the same?
I think the Guru’s function is to provide a mirror for that. A teacher should be a polished mirror so that when you look in it, you see your actual reflection, not some kind of a distorted image. If you see your real picture only then can one change. When one doesn’t see one’s real picture, how does one change? Instead, one actually thinks that one is alright.
Once in a while look at the mirror and examine yourself — are we going forward, are we changing? Are we the same? For that, a spiritual teacher sometimes provides opportunities and situations, either deliberately or when they happen. He does not encourage people to run away from those situations, but to stay in those situations, and face them. For it is only when one is in a situation or you are faced with a particular set of circumstances that one begins to realize for oneself where one stands.
So the most important thing in sadhana is to look at oneself, and not to say that – “Ah I have looked at myself; I am that Supreme Being” and all that. That you can only imagine, you don’t actually know. But to know where we actually are or what we actually are or where we stand, now how do we find that out? Only through facing situations, only through being in a particular situation, and only through contact with other people. In that process, if you have any problems in dealing with that, you are welcome to ask, discuss, and to find out how to move.
We have to change, there is no other way. We can’t remain the same. If we remain the same, years of meditation, any amount of japa, no amount of bhajans or kirtans are of any use unless the heart changes. And the heart ‘changes’ means that the heart begins to look outside oneself, even for half a second.
Don’t we look at ourselves and see how we are always occupied with ourselves? Spend some time when we can look at others. When we are able to do that, then we are moving forward.
People usually think that spiritual realization is something that can be won for free. Usually we have to sacrifice something, give something. That spiritual realization comes without exchange, is not true. He who giveth, receiveth. When I say giveth doesn’t mean giving money to somebody. There is nothing on this earth or in heaven which can be achieved without sacrificing something, that’s why it is called the ‘sacrifice’. Only if you sacrifice, you receive. I am not saying that we must give everything that we have. I am not asking you to do something very difficult. I am only saying sacrifice some part of your lower self. Sacrifice part of your selfishness. Look outside. Try to help others.
Examine yourself in the morning when you wake up and, in the evening, before you go to sleep and see: have I changed or am I the same or worse? Am I still angry when somebody else is happy? Am I thinking and scheming to pull somebody down?
One has to examine this very very carefully. Suppose I have examined and I have found that there are a lot of things to be improved in myself, the first step is to try to move in a positive direction; the other step is to try and do your sadhana seriously.
To do your sadhana seriously — I am stressing on this — means two things. One is, actually sitting down and doing your sadhana; the other is, examine your life and see how you behave with people and what you are. Both are sadhana, they have to go side by side.
It is not true that you need not do sadhana and can still improve yourself. You have to sit daily. Even if the mind wanders, it doesn’t matter. The mind is very clever. It knows that there are many excuses. But you don’t stop sitting down.
If you sit down long enough the mind will automatically stop to wander.
I want to emphasize two things.
One is to look at yourself regularly. Every day in the morning before the day starts and at night before you go to sleep, write a diary. Where am I going, how have I improved? This is for you to be alert, to watch, to carefully look.
Many people come to me and say they have been meditating for a long time and nothing is happening. What do you expect to happen? There are people who have sat in meditation for days together, for years together and we sit for 5 or 10 minutes every day for one year and expect something to happen?!
Second, when we are faced with situations, we prefer to run away from them and not face them. This is very important. Face your situations, stay where you are and observe how you react to others, how others react to you. Look at them carefully and try to work out how best you can handle it. And to handle that, sadhana is a very, very important part of your daily life. Without that you cannot handle them.
Difficult situations are a wonderful opportunity to look at yourself — how you can handle it. Very easy to sit in an armchair and talk about ‘stitha pragnya‘ — mind should be balanced.
In this world we have a few problems, and we sort them out. Then another set of problems appear. Then what do we do? We either sort it out or we don’t. Yet again, a fresh set of problems appear. By the time we are at the end of our life, things that are heavier than those which are not in the balance of things, are those that we have not sorted out. We may have sorted out many. But there still remains many more. It is an unending problem. In this world it is not possible to sort out all your problems. Nobody has sorted them out completely. If you are happy at the office, you will be unhappy at home. If you are happy at home you will be unhappy in the office. If you don’t have food, you may have something else. If you have food you may not have something else. This is the way of the world. If you get a big job you will find hundreds of jealous people looking at you. If you make money you will see people are trying to figure out how to take it away. It is natural. I am not blaming anybody — not bad or good.
So, if you have to get out of this finally, once and for all, the only way is to find your own self. To find your own self, means to examine yourself, to look at life, try and become as less self-centered as possible. There is no human being who is totally non self-centered’. Some self will be there. Otherwise, we cannot function on this earth.