God's will, also known as divine will, is a universal reality. It is the most powerful force that conducts each and every activity, seen as well as unseen. When man is attracted by maya, he is led far away from this divine will and he becomes weak, full of fear and anxiety. Once he transcends the barriers of the mind, he begins to realize the will of God, which is the destiny of all creation. Once he knows the will of God then he knows how to manage his affairs and how to work.
As long as we have personal desires, even spiritual life remains a matter of ambition. There will be not one but many problems. You may practise yoga and other things, but there has to be a very important and central philosophy - 'Thy will be done'. When this philosophy emanates from the depths of your whole being, then whatever you face in life becomes a matter of joy and not a psychological or psycho-emotional problem.
In fact, there are no real problems in life. We only think we have problems because we do not understand life in the light of divine will. In this world there is everything- rivers, oceans, deserts, mountains, valleys, forests. But when we stay in the desert, then the desert becomes a problem. If we stay in the valley of Kashmir, that too becomes a problem. Man is dissatisfied with life because he has not tried to understand its universal aspect. He sees things in the limited sense. That is why there are problems, not only in the lives of sincere spiritual aspirants, but in people everywhere.
Nowadays life is changing very fast and everything is different from what it used to be. Our ancestors had to work extremely hard. They had to bring water and carry loads, either on their shoulders or on donkeys and ponies. They had to walk miles and miles for marketing. From dawn to dusk they were occupied physically, mentally and emotionally. They were so involved in their external problems that they had no time to consider the internal problems, the complexes and conflicts that are constantly going on within the mind. During the last century, however, technology has advanced to such a degree that now you can travel to any point in the world within a matter of hours. Dial the telephone and speak to anyone at any distance within a matter of seconds. You don't have to go for water, just open the tap. Press the switch and there is light.
Soon you may be able to prepare your meals in one and a half minutes, using sound waves to cook on rather than electricity. If it only takes one and a half minutes to prepare your food, what are you going to do with the rest of your time? There will be computers to do all the work. The children may not even have to go to school. They will just turn on the television and tune into a class going on in history, physics, biology, mathematics, chemistry or geography.
This is the way things are going now. For the first time in history, man is becoming so free that he doesn't have enough problems to occupy his mind. Recently, in Scandinavia, I was confronted with many youths and at first it was difficult for me to ascertain the nature of their deep-seated discontent. I asked them whether they had any problems concerning education, marriage, employment, housing, fuel, energy, or anything else. They all replied, 'No, we have no such problems.' So I told them, 'Yes, that is your problem.' When man has no problems in material life, he has to deal with the mind, and that is the greatest problem.
More than 5,000 years ago, when Indian civilization was at its zenith, the people were faced with these same problems of the mind and psyche, of nervous imbalance and spiritual disharmony. At that time they began to think about finding a way out. So the science of yoga was revived in order to channelize man's mental, emotional and spiritual energies.
Today, as modern life takes man progressively further from nature, he will have to come closer to yoga in order to compensate for his lost harmony. In fact, we are already witnessing a massive return to yoga, as people everywhere are looking for more constructive ways to use their time. Yesterday yoga was an unknown byword, but today it is being practised by a significant proportion of the population, and its adherents are rapidly increasing. In European countries alone, there are over 70,000 registered yoga teachers. Yoga is beginning to penetrate every sphere of life.
When we speak of yoga, we do not mean postures only, or pranayama. Yoga is the complete science of man's mental, physical and emotional personality. There are many paths - karma yoga, the yoga of dynamic expression in life; bhakti yoga, the yoga of emotional channelization; raja yoga, the yoga of control over the psychic personality; gyana yoga, the yoga of understanding the deeper secrets of universal life; kundalini yoga, the yoga of awakening the dormant potential, the creative force in man. Yoga actually means all these, and therefore, we should combine all forms of yoga in our life. In man there is a hidden energy, an evolved power, that is still dormant but can be awakened through the practices of yoga. In the past there was only a handful of saints, sages and mystics who had this shakti awakened in them. Now, however, the time has come when man has to transcend the - lower mental plane and try to live in harmony with the cosmos on a higher spiritual plane. The awakening of kundalini is a very important event in the evolution of man and it has already started to take place. In a few decades we should have many more people with developed spiritual awareness.
When we speak of spiritual awareness, there is an important aspect which must be remembered - that of God and guru. We may talk about ontological, cosmological, Ideological proof, for the existence of God. But the knowledge of God is not yet awakened in man. The belief we have now is purely intellectual, based on what we have heard from our parents and teachers. In order to awaken true faith in God, true awareness of the transcendental reality, there has to be an igniting force. Just as you detonate a bomb, in the same way, the inner living faith, not the intellectual or scriptural one, has to be detonated and awakened. In order to awaken it, you have to accept a guru.
Guru is the stimulating factor, the detonator, because you can see him and understand him. There is no question of belief, because he exists in name and form. You have a finite, limited mind by which you understand and define time, space and object. Guru is within this range, and with your finite mind, you can comprehend him. Of course, in the ultimate sense, guru is definitely not finite, he is infinite.
What is infinite? That which is not within the category of the finite mind. How can we contain the infinity of divinity within the finite mind? It's not possible. So, first of all, this finite mind has to be transformed, the limitations have to be dropped. In order to transcend this finite mind and develop an infinite instrument of experience, kundalini must be awakened. When the kundalini wakes up, the finite mind is exploded. With the destruction of this lower self, an infinite instrument of experience is gained, by which you are able to behold the true reality of God. So, guru is the first step on the spiritual path. God, the divinity, supreme atman, Paramatman, may be your goal, but you have to start by accepting a guru and forming a sincere discipleship.
Discipleship is more important than guru-hood. A true disciple is one who develops tremendous awareness during the course of his life. For him, the guru is always near. The attitude of a true disciple never changes. The disciple always remains a disciple; for him there is no promotion.
In history, only a few gurus are born, all the rest are disciples. You may consider those who have lived the spiritual life and are more advanced than you as your gurus, but they are your elder brothers. They know more so they become the guide, just as an elder brother looks after the little ones. But the brother never becomes the father. Therefore, remain a disciple and try to develop the qualities of a disciple, then the inner awareness will become effulgent.
A true disciple never feels mistreated. Those who claim to be cheated by the guru are actually cheaters themselves. They are never able to develop the attitude of a disciple. So do not go about insulting gurus. You will only get a guru in your own image, nothing more than that.
Do not waste your time going from place to place, trying to find the greatest guru- one who performs miracles, who is more intellectual, who is robust with a long, flowing beard. Such a disciple never comprehends the depth of a great man, who is deeper than the ocean, broader than the sky.
Continue with your spiritual practices and go ahead with great faith and humility. Come to the ashram from time to time, and try to live as quietly as possible. Do not worry about the vacuum in life. Live in the will of God. I am speaking from my own experience, not from the books. God is first and last. Ultimately, his will comes true. You can do nothing; you are only an instrument.
During my early years, I had no idea in my mind about teaching yoga, forming ashrams, making disciples, touring the world and establishing centres. I was the type of person who would go away into seclusion for years. I preferred to remain in a state of hibernation. That was my joy, because I didn't want to think. But I was compelled to think; the people made me think. It was my personal ambition not to think at all, but the divine had willed something else.
I never wanted an ashram, but I had to build ashrams. I never wanted to have any dealings with money or people, but I had to deal with money and with people. I never believed that man can evolve through any practice, really that was my faith. I never believed that man has to do anything for his spiritual evolution. I thought, 'What for? God has given me birth, it is his duty to look after me. What if I am wretched, a criminal or a saint? He has made me that, I haven't made myself. Let him face it.' There was a poem written by a great devotee or bhakta of India, who said:
All is Thy will.
Thy will be done.
Whether you raise me
To the height of spiritual glory,
Or you throw me down
Into the abyss of hell,
I accept it,
Readily, happily, with pleasure,
Because that is Thy will.
I am the chariot,
You are the charioteer.
I am the horse,
You are the master.
Keep me as you like.
Use me, misuse me or abuse me,
I have nothing to defend.
This is the attitude of total dedication. Man has to do nothing, just surrender himself to God's will. But you know how difficult it is to remain completely at His will. Every time you have complaints, losses and failures, all that is mine and nothing is thine. When life becomes dedicated and everything is surrendered, placed completely at the disposal of that supreme will, then you must be prepared to live calmly and quietly under any circumstances. Even if your husband or wife deserts you, you can accept it as divine will. When the scales are heavily loaded against you, consider the situation as a gift from Him. Everything, not only the valuables, pleasures and comforts, but also the difficulties, humiliations and hardships should be considered as gifts, an expression of His will. This is the fundamental faith that is lacking in our spiritual life today.
Most things we say about God are just intellectual gymnastics. We read in this book and that book, and we go on quoting and quoting, but the mind is not impressed. We say, 'My Lord, I am always dying for you. Thy will be done, but please bring back my husband.' What is this business in life, trying to surrender everything to Him, but keeping a straw for yourself, and then suffering on account of that straw?
Bhakti is total dedication to God, to the divine will, the cosmic or universal process of which you are a tiny part. You are nothing; you are smaller than a molecule or an atom. You are a tiny cog in that untold universal process. Things are moving along in the history and geography of divinity. You have to be tossed this way or that way and if you don't accept it, you will always be unhappy.
The secret of happiness is to understand the mysteries of divine will, the laws of creation and of karma. This means that the whole philosophy of life has to be changed. Right from the very beginning we have been taught to love pleasure and to hate pain. In yogic philosophy it is said that all experiences which are born of the senses and sense objects end in pain. The wise men do not accept them as reality because they have a beginning and an end, and are therefore not permanent. When the experience comes to an end, it is finished, whether pleasant or painful.
It is not easy to restructure the whole way of thinking, the total philosophy of life. This is what we are trying to achieve with the sannyasins, but it is not always successful. Many times you will stumble and fall, but this does not matter as long as you are able to pick yourself up again and continue walking.
A simple way of life with minimum requirements, and a simple way of thinking- this is the yogic philosophy. The rest of the time you should try to develop the awareness of your consciousness. Then the light will come.
In the eleventh chapter of the Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna: 'Lord, please show me your cosmic form, so that I may see and know you as God.' To this request, Krishna replies: 'It is not easy to see the divine form with these eyes, with this mind and awareness, because they are limited.' But Arjuna is persistent until finally Krishna relents and says: 'Alright, I will show you my cosmic form.' But as soon as it appears, Arjuna has a mind exploding experience and he cries out in terror: 'Please, Lord, remove this experience. I can't bear to see you in this form; it's too frightening. I want to see you in the human form which I knew before and which I can understand.'
This story shows the necessity of preparation in spiritual life. There is no point in awakening the cosmic experience until you are ready to handle it. Therefore, first of all comes the guru. Next is the transformation of the whole structure of consciousness. Then, you arrive at the stage where you begin to realize the great cosmic nature, the law of the divine. After this, life becomes smooth sailing. There is no more pain or pleasure. Inner life is totally changed but outer life remains the same.