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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Questions and Answers

May 30, 2004

Private Talk - Istanbul / Turkey

"Om Brahmarpanam
Brahmahavih Brahmagnau
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam
Brahmakarma samadhina
Om Santi, santi, santi"

"The oblation is Brahman,
The clarified butter is Brahman,
offered by Brahman in the fire of Brahman,
unto Brahman verily he goes who cognises Brahman alone in his action."
I would like to tell you something from a session I had in USA. Two school children sat for a lunch break. One says to the other “ let us pray for the food”. The other says “ I don’t have to pray; my mother makes good food”.
In the Indian custom basically, before every activity of the family we always have a fire ceremony. When somebody is born or when somebody is dead, we always have a fire and an offering to the fire. By offering to the fire, we offer to the universe. One of the important things that we offer to the fire is “ghee”. The food that we are eating is also one of those fire offerings. This prayer basically goes like this. The person offering is called the Brahman. The hunger inside is also called the Brahman. The fire is also Brahman. The fire also symbolizes our gastric fire. Ghee, the clarified butter is also Brahman. The process of eating food is a kind of fire offering. Let this fire activity ennoble the universe. When we say that everything is Brahman, it means my personal choices do not take part. By eating, I should never bring about the idea whether I like it or not. When everything is Brahman, there can be no such thing as liking or disliking something. I only want this fire to be useful.
In this whole process we offer this clarified butter. Ghee basically comes from milk. If you put milk on the fire, the fire will die. We make butter normally and then we boil it. Then the ghee comes out. When you put the ghee on the fire, the fire glows. So when you put milk on fire, the fire dies but when you put ghee, it glows. If you don’t put yourselves on this process, the fire dies. I need to go through Yoga practices like this. The Yoga practices are like churning the milk and taking the butter out. Then you put it on top of fire and the ghee comes out. Unless we go through a process of churning and developing ourselves, we will not be useful.
We usually complain about schools. But when we go to the process of hard work, then the intellectual development takes place. Only then we are useful to the society. If we don’t go through all these strain, we will be useless. So every process of learning is like every process of churning. Most of our prayers are based on reminding ourselves about our purpose of living. Finally we end up saying “om shanti shanti shanti”. The purpose is peace. Peace in the past, peace in the present and peace in the future. Ingredients of our food should also be peaceful.
When we look at ayurveda it talks about six different taps. Sweet should not be too much or too less. Salt also should not be too much or too less. Generally children tend to prefer some tastes to others. But for a proper eating, we need all these 6 different tastes.
The prayer says two things. We don’t pray for any favor from the God. We are reminding ourselves about the purpose of our life. Eating should be done in order to ennoble the world. No great work can be done without going through the hard work.
What if we accept the world as it is?
No one can be as harmonious as that. How many really can be like that? Show me one person who can do that and I will bow in front of him. The world is not dead. It is constantly changing. It is not dependant on whether I want or I don’t want. The essence of the creation is movement. If I flow this movement, then I will show less resistance. What we can do in a life time? Can I add a little bit of fragrance into this life? Can I add a little bit of positive thinking? Can I add a little bit of taste into life? This should be our aim. Look at the earth. In God’s creation, everything adds something to the earth. A flower is there for a few hours a day, adds a bit of fragrance to the world and then dies. A bird is alive for a few years, it gives wonderful music to the world and then dies. Even a simple earthworm makes something for the world. So everything makes a change in this world and we should be asking what we are doing for this earth. My grandson can ask me:” your grandfather has left a beautiful world for you. What kind of a world are you leaving for me?” You should be able to tell your grand son that you have added a bit of fragrance to this world. Are you leaving him a world of dust, wars, and chaos? Are you leaving him a world that doesn’t have fossil fuels? Are you leaving him a world full of stress and tension? This is the kind of world we will be leaving to our grandsons. We should allow the world to grow, because it is her nature. “Let me add a bit of fragrance to this flow” should be our aim.
Could you talk about reincarnation?
Actually life is not connected to death. Death is connected with birth. Whatever that is born must die. You are not guaranteeing anything when you are born, accept the fact that you will die. Birth and death are connected but not life and death. The mistake of having been born can not make you deny your death. What is there in between birth and death is life. Life is between birth and death but who says there is no life after death? We will continue to live in a different way after death. Life is different when we are awake and when we are asleep. Birth and death are events on you. More and more we identify ourselves with something that goes through birth and death, then we think they are absolute. If you are not identified with something that goes through birth and death then you will see the eternity of life. The basic question is “how will I go that state that does not undergo birth and death?” With the practices of Asanas, we are slowly getting detached from the body and rise to higher levels. Similarly with meditation, you get detached from the mind. A flower is here today but it will die tomorrow. But if you look at flowering, it continues. If you hold on to a man, he is here today but not tomorrow. So Yoga raises us from flower to flowering or from man to mankind.
When we are in touch with Yoga, we are in touch with science. In this process we also have some benefits. These benefits are that we get good sleep, we don’t get asthma, etc. When people come to our center with health problems, I tell them that they are about to touch a permanent science. So you should be grateful that you have diabetes or hypertension because you met with such a science.
Can we reach the unchangeable?
We are all trying to go to that state. One of the greatest Yogis, Sharabindu says “Yoga is a constant process of enhancing the growth. It accelerates the growth. What may happen in 100 years happens in 10 years, or what may happen in 10 years, happens in one year. This is what Yoga is. We are all walking on that path”.
Anybody who wants to do Yoga does not have to do the Asanas or the Pranayamas. There are hundreds of different techniques possible. When mother Therese was helping the poor, she was in fact doing Yoga. What Dalai Lama did was also Yoga. I had an opportunity to spend one day with Dalai Lama. He was one of the really extraordinary people I have ever met. The problems he confronts are unimaginable. Anybody would become mad with the kind of problems that he has. But he is a great saint. At the end of the day I was still waiting for one little phrase saying that the Chinese are bad or evil. But he didn’t have any anger towards anybody. Somebody asked him whether he hated Chinese or not for the problems they made to your public? He smiled and said “one day, they will realize”. You can see the amount of peace he has. All these people are practicing Yoga in their own way. Some of the greatest scientists which we now call the “saints” put these practices together in the form of Yoga. When you practice for a few days, you can follow the change in your mentality.
If a poor house wife cooks food with love and gratitude to God for she still has hands to cook with, instead of complaining about her poverty, is this also considered as Yoga?
Anything that takes you to the words “harmony and peace” is Yoga. With the help of Asanas and Pranayamas, I reach a peace of mind. If the activities that I do, add disturbance to my mind, that is not right. Karma Yoga essentially has some principles. The attitude when you do an activity also takes you toward a peace of mind. I may be repeatedly doing the same thing everyday like cooking. After several years, this might be creating trouble for me and I may be getting difficulties. This is where the principles of Karma Yoga should help us. In Bhagavat gita, Krishna says that activity is called Karma and no activity is called A-karma.
Krishna says that both Karma and A-karma are fine. So doing an activity is fine and not doing an activity is also fine. But he says “don’t do vekarma”. This is where we need to understand the depth. There can only be an activity or a non-activity, so Karma or A-Karma. How can there be a third thing called vekarma? Let us look at an example. I am watching a football game in TV and the child cries. My wife is busy in the kitchen and she tells me to go and take care of the kid. But I am doing an important thing; I am watching the game. So she tells me that the game is not important, but taking care of the child is. Still I refuse and then my wife tells me that she will look at the child, but we will not have lunch. Here, taking care of the child or not taking care of the child are two things that can happen. Both are ok. But when I go and take care of the child because my wife tells me to do, I get angry at her. So when we do or don’t do anything, we should do it with peace. Activity that you do with vengeance is not good. When you do an activity, do it with a smile. But we create a hierarchy on our minds all the time, choosing what is good to do and what is not good to do. If only you can remove that, it would be wonderful. Several years ago we prepared a spiritual retreat with 20 people that would last for 7 days. We hired a cook to cook the food. We were making philosophy discussions. Suddenly we realized that the cook had run away. So somebody had to prepare the food. I volunteered and cooked the food. If I had found cooking inferior to the philosophy discussions, that would cause a problem in me. What you do is your ego, how you do is your spirituality.
There is no gain if there is no pain but we are not running after pain. Our goal is one thing, and that is peace. Running after pain has a very serious psychological implication. The idea should be not being afraid of the pain. If a person has never felt pain, he would be shocked when he faces it one day.
I lost my mother. They were very difficult days for me and I was inexperienced. My elders told me to leave it to time. I refused. I refused to sleep and to eat. But then I had to eat and I had to sleep. I saw how quickly the time tunnel flew. I survived because I could stick on to the present moment. Are “staying at the moment” and “being” the same thing?
Being at the present is all we need.

When I was young I had a conflict with my parents because I didn’t want to the school they wanted me to go to. I realized that they wanted my happiness but they didn’t ask me how I would be happy. So I questioned myself and realized that this was not my way and so I changed my way. At that age, I was even considering death, and I was only 19. So I changed my school and I went to the sports school instead of engineering school. But in the coming years I decided to make a career in sales. What I realized is that we smile when we are happy. But this should be the other way around. There is no way I can think in negative terms when my lips are facing upwards. I have had many crises in my career. I think one can only be happy when he overcomes the difficulties. So I should be thankful to the ones who have made my life even more difficult. This was my experience. What I want to know is whether people are born equally on that aspect or not.
There are 3 factors shaping our life. The first one is the genetic factor, the second one is the environment, and the third one is the self afford. A person who continuously blames the genetic factor will never grow. Genetic factor is just to recognize. Someone who takes the best of the environment and progresses is successful. Environment offers us many chances. It is like gambling. Taking the best out of it and growing is the most important. If you don’t give up the personal effort, you will always enjoy your life. It is not a matter of what you have become but a matter of how much you enjoy what you have become.
When we do the Asanas we are actually stretching the muscles. All these muscle fibers send millions of neuronal signals to the brain. These signals bring about tremendous degrees of inner awareness. Without this, we are aware of millions of things outside. The practice of Asana tries to divert our multidirectional awareness on to a uni-direction. That is why you get more aware of yourself. It is not because the outside is bad. We do Yoga to be able to be aware of our selves. The beauty of experience happens when you get out of it. Let us say we enjoy sleep a lot. The joy of the sleep is your last connection with the body. The body is necessary but it is a tool and you have to get out of it. If you have food you are satisfied and you don’t worry. The body gives you joy by getting out of it. Consciously when you leave the body consciousness, you get joy. This is the basic principle of Karma Yoga. When you do an activity with a total absorption, then you are not aware of the body. Enjoying that total satisfaction is important. When we continue that way, the physical exhaustion shows up later on. If you do a job that you enjoy, that tiredness will not bring about stress or tension.
Could you advice us some books?
There are so many books. 10,000 years ago a group of people recorded everything about this culture in 4 texts. They include the activities of life, the cultural factures and the spiritual factors. These four texts are called the Vedas. Based on that, people have made additions and several texts have come. Therefore we have huge amounts of literature. The most essential spiritual knowledge comes from Upanishads. We consider Upanishads as the essence and the others as the supporters of it. So we try to understand everything from the point of Upanishads. Why are the Upanishads so important? Because they work on the most fundamental questions of mankind like “what is I?”, “what is fear?” and” What is death?”
If you look at Yoga as a philosophy, then it does not interfere with your religious beliefs. If you take it as a religion, then it will create a problem. Then why should we take it as a religion instead of philosophy? In Christianity, the religion was different from philosophy. A great philosopher like Bertrand Russell asks why he is not a Christian. Philosophy and theology are opposite to one another. It is the same in Islam as well. In Indian philosophy, Sankaracharya was a philosopher and also a theologian. Similarly Krishna was a philosopher and a theologian. That is why Hinduism has a unique approach.
I was working with the patients of eating disorders in California. There was a very successful lawyer but she had eating disorder problems. I talked about Gita to her and gave some ideas. She was thrilled with the idea and she wanted to go. But suddenly she wondered and asked. “You said this is from Gita, and Gita is a Hindu text. But I am a Christian, how can I apply it?” I told her not to worry whether it is a Hindu text, a Christian text or a Buddhist text. “If you find this idea useful, just take it” I said. She asked me whether she needed or not to convert into Hinduism to apply it. I told her it is not like a currency that can be converted. It is basically psychology. After that she came to my meetings with a tape recorder.
Let us say there is an earthquake here and the whole building collapses. Can you be positive enough to thank God that you are still alive although you have lost one arm? Everything starts with your own positive approach to things. Yoga or Reiki could only be supportive things to clear your mind off. You advice people to have a positive approach to life and to find happiness. Some people make a lot of money in order to convey the knowledge he has to get to that happiness. I observe that people are missing something called “happiness”. All the philosophies, religions, and ideologies are after one thing: peace and happiness. Especially religions promise happiness to people but they give more pain then the happiness they have promised. I believe very much in the existence of one Creator. That Creator has sent the religions suitable for their time, culture and other aspects to answer their needs and to elevate that public to a higher step. The three messiahs, Moses, Christ and Mohammed have conveyed the orders of God to their communities. In fact they only convey one knowledge but since they have come in different times, people regard them as “different” and everybody considers his own religion right, and the others as wrong, or even as enemy. Religion is the most effective type of knowledge affective on beliefs. 95% of the people in the world have a belief or a religion. Although religion promises such happiness, it also causes lots of pain. It is expected to be an authority of belief, but it can not. Philosophy and science can not create a belief. Spiritualism developing at the end of 19th century aimed to prove the existence of God through scientific ways but in the hands of some charlatans, it no longer was a knowledge strong enough to develop beliefs in people. When you look at the tragedy the humankind is in, you see that it is because they are away from an authority of belief although they have beliefs. So there is a gap of belief in human beings. The youngest religion came about 1400 years ago but like all the other religions, it too has been divided into many subgroups. So again Islam too, has become too far away from uniting the people as it has been diversified itself. It has been marginalized. Philosophy, although it gives happiness could not have succeeded to become as effective on people as religion. Religion is a knowledge of God where as philosophy is a knowledge of humankind and that is why people are more stuck to religion. Science on the other hand has no intentions of becoming a religion. Science is based on observations and experience. Today, neither religion nor philosophy or science alone is an authority of belief. On the other hand people require a belief. If God sent messages to human beings 1400 years ago, why wouldn’t He send messages afterwards? Are all His messages finished? Today we need a knowledge to unite the humankind. Studies on this subject like Dr. Moon does, is nothing but a new variation of the existing religions. Today we need such a knowledge that it should be religious, scientific and a product of humankind. Such a knowledge will unite people no matter what their ethnic or cultural backgrounds are and it will be a synthesis of religion, science and philosophy. Such a knowledge should create a conscience belief.

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