The beginning of faith

A human being has two things: intelligence and faith. It was through intelligence that he learnt about God, but it was through faith that he experienced God. Not knowledge, but experience comes about through faith. Just as love, enmity, jealousy, joy and sorrow are not the stuff of the intellect but of experience, faith is also a matter of experience. The basis of the intellect is analysis. The Upanishads may have been written with the help of intelligence, but faith is such a substance that it accepts even that which is invisible. After all, has anyone seen anger? No. But anger exists. This is a matter of faith. You do not need to see faith, you need to experience faith. Therefore, at the very beginning of Ramacharitamanas, it has been said,

Bhavaanishankarau vande shraddhaavishvaasarupinau,
Yaabhyaamvinaa na pashyaanti siddhaah svaantahsthameeshwaram.

Without shraddha and vishwas, faith and deep conviction, even great siddhas cannot achieve spiritual attainment.

A siddha, an accomplished person, too cannot see the God within, the one who is so close to him, if he does not have faith and belief. To experience God, faith and belief are prime necessities, and the beginning of faith and belief is through the guru. The guru and the disciple are strangers to each other at the beginning; they may come from different places. However, the disciple finds faith in the guru. He starts learning the A, B, C, D of faith, and through continuous practice he develops faith. In this faith, he sees the shadow, the reflection and splendour of God.

Even a siddha has to practise faith in the guru. But prior to the guru, one has to practise faith in one’s parents. You do not know who your father is. You cannot know who your father is until there is a DNA test, but you believe that this person is your father because your faith says so. To believe that your father is your father for your entire life, or to accept a stranger as your wife or husband is faith. This is the first rung of school, kindergarten. First you practise faith and belief in your own house, then in the guru and finally in God. When, by practising it in different things, the faith becomes strong, clear and divine, when it is generated from a pure mind and heart, you see God. Then God, who was defined in different ways by different people, becomes apparent to you.

Faith and belief are essential, though intelligence has its own place. Once someone asked me, “Swamiji, why do people worship the idols of gods and goddesses?” I said that at the level of intelligence, this may seem odd. After all, how can a piece of stone be God? How can a piece of paper be God? How can a person who eats and sleeps be guru and God? The intelligence may question all this, but when it comes to faith, then a stone is indeed God. A leaf is God, a tree is God. Faith can establish anything as God. Faith is the biggest power. If you do not have faith, then forget about God. Don’t even talk about him, because you cannot realize God by talking about him. You can talk about God for years and eons, but nothing will be achieved through that. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say that you can keep writing “Water, water, water” on a piece of paper, but you cannot get water by wringing that piece of paper. You only wrote ‘water’ on the paper, you did not soak it in water. Experiencing God is equally simple.

Crisis point

The guru-disciple relationship is a very important relationship. To begin with, it is very difficult to form and if formed, it is very hard to uphold. This is because the guru lives in a body, which means that he eats, sleeps, excretes, speaks and laughs like you do. Observing this, you may question the difference between you and the guru. At that point, the tenacity of your relationship with the guru becomes weak. You think, “Oh, he is just like us, so what is the point.” People said the same thing to Lord Buddha. They said, “Lord, what is the difference between you and us? We eat and so do you, we sleep and so do you, we laugh and so do you.” When you begin to think like this, the steadfastness of the guru-disciple relationship becomes difficult to maintain.

It is very easy to call someone your guru, but it is very difficult to maintain that relationship. The guru lives the same way as you do. You see no difference between you and him because spiritual illumination cannot be seen. What do you know what I think or do? You only look at what I wear, eat and drink, how I sleep, laugh, what I keep, and so on. No one can see what lies within. Who will look at what lies within? After all, only a Shakespeare can understand a Shakespeare. If you have the eyes to see, only then will you understand what lies within the guru. But you do not have the eyes, therefore the doubts come.

The greatest crisis between a guru and disciple takes place when the disciple is not able to stabilize his relationship with the guru. He may have established a relationship, but he cannot stabilize it. Therefore, many times gurus and disciples fall apart. So, it is not an easy relationship. It is not as if you have made a guru, now you can go to his ashram and get liberated. There are many crises. There are crises between husband and wife, between brother and sister, and there are crises between guru and disciple too. After all, they are strangers. Like bricks and stones, they come from different places to make a house.

If we get inappropriate thoughts about the guru, what is the reason? How can we remove them?

Once you have accepted someone as your guru, he is your guru, whether you are inappropriate or appropriate. Once you are married to a person, you are married, no matter what thoughts you get. The truth will remain the truth. It is only the imbalance within you that needs to be corrected. Inappropriate thoughts do come to the mind, but the relationship should not become any lesser due to or despite them.

The relationship between a guru and disciple is not physical, social or of the blood. It is not a worldly relationship, such as that between brother and sister, father and son, husband and wife. The guru-disciple relationship is spiritual. The guru becomes the base of your spiritual life. Therefore, this relationship should be maintained well. In the scriptures, twenty-four kinds of gurus have been mentioned. There are different types of gurus. There was one guru who came to India from a different country. He was a great soul, a sadhaka, someone who had the grace of God upon him. His first wife died, and he married a second time. Now, some of his disciples may have had inappropriate thoughts. Not everyone would have, some people are wise, but some would have said, “What kind of a guru is he? He married twice.”

If you think about Guruji getting married twice, or the kind of clothes he is wearing and the food he is eating, that he is smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, these thoughts are occurring in your mind due to your personal reasons. If the reasons were impersonal, wouldn’t fingers have been pointed at Sri Krishna too? The inappropriate thoughts in people’s minds, which they may speak out or write about in books, are creations of their own minds. They are in the head of the disciple and do not affect the actuality of the guru and should not affect the relationship between the guru and disciple either.

A human being has sense organs in the body. Beyond the sense organs lies the mind, beyond the mind lies the intelligence, and beyond intelligence lies the soul. The mind generates sattwic, rajasic and tamasic thoughts. Let the thoughts come, there is no problem, and there is no solution to this either. If you think inappropriately about the guru, there is no harm. It is the mind that thinks inappropriately, not the soul. The soul never thinks inappropriately.

If inappropriate thoughts come, let them come; the clouds are rumbling now and will disappear in time. Speaking in practical terms, to get the better of your inappropriate thoughts, do three things. Send a yearly dakshina to the guru, whatever you can, with love and devotion. Second, on Guru Poornima, go to him and worship him, and if that is not possible, worship at home only. Third, do japa of the guru mantra regularly. If you have a quarrel with your guru or husband, don’t stop eating, bathing and sleeping, and don’t leave the husband or guru. Quarrels are normal, but they should not influence your entire life.

When I was eighteen or nineteen years old, I used to go to Nainital on holidays. A Devi temple exists near the lake there, next to which is a peculiar rock. Once I found a yogini there. She was fat, dark and would smoke all day long. I could not understand why she left home if all she wanted to do was to smoke. I was a child, and this was my way of thinking. One day I was sitting there, and a few of her followers came. She started talking and I was stunned. Then I started going to her every day. From morning till evening I would remain there, and every day what I heard would surprise me. I developed such faith in her that I asked her to make me her disciple. She asked me to look for a different guru and eventually went away, but I remember her to this date. So I feel one should not judge a guru by the external environment.

To measure the guru by your own meter is not right either. Every person has a meter, which is his way of thinking. He uses his own yardstick to measure whether the guru is tall, short, fat, good, right, wrong, lawful, etc. This should not happen, because often the gurus who have spiritual wealth keep it hidden. The gurus receive vibhooti, divine blessings, or the experience of a part of God. At some time or the other, they would have felt a part of God, maybe in meditation, while bathing, sleeping or walking. It is an experience that comes suddenly, like a flash. Such great souls who have received that light are gurus. However, they keep their attainment hidden, because if they reveal it, they will be robbed. At the Shiva temple, the devotees touch the shivalingam every day, so much so that it almost disappears. The devotees trouble God very much, so God has hidden himself, become attributeless and formless. Similarly, many gurus keep themselves hidden. What is the way to hide? Smoke a chillum. People will say, what kind of a guru is this, why should the one who has had the perception of God smoke? The guru gets away, and you people get funny thoughts in your head. The loss is yours. So be a bit wary of gurus.