Facing Dilemmas in Life

From Bhakti Yoga Sagar, Volume Two, Swami Satyananda Saraswati

When you cannot decide a path for yourself, you should surrender completely to God. When you are indecisive, you should not depend on your mind. At such times you have to depend on a higher reality. It is my personal experience that when you pray and ask God to give you direction, He gives it. Of course, you have to be innocent. In the Bhagavad Gita (18:16), Sri Krishna said to Arjuna: 'Renouncing all duties, take refuge in Me. I will liberate you from all sins, grieve not.'

When you are unable to decide the next step in a difficult situation, then merely depending on reason or on your mind is not sufficient. You can easily make an erroneous decision. It has been said in the Ramacharitamanas:

Avidya can never take possession of the Lord’s servant. Impelled by the Lord, vidya takes the place of avidya. The servant is never destroyed by ignorance and doubt. Along with knowledge, his devotion continues to develop.

I have never had any problems in my life. If I have taken decisions, they were in compliance with His wishes. I have always followed His command, not my own. On a very few occasions, probably once or twice, I have asked myself, 'What shall I do?', and His reply came promptly. The first command I received was long ago, when I was eighteen years old. The second command I received was prior to coming to Rikhia. One is not mature at the age of eighteen, but I had a pure mind and needed a decision. Though I longed to leave home, there were a number of obstacles which prevented me from doing so. It was not that I had any opposition from my parents, but I had my own problems. Despite that, the urge to leave home was still strong, so a tussle went on in my mind.

My family owned a large estate comprised of one thousand acres of agricultural land, fifteen hundred acres of forest land, five hundred sheep, many dogs, asses, mules and bulls, one hundred servants and many other things, which I had managed from the age of eight. I was quite occupied with this work and I enjoyed it. I was not interested in studying. I liked this work as it paid well and was a profitable business. It was not so easy to leave such a vast empire. My parents were not much interested in household affairs. They were the type of people who prefer to stay in the city with a job rather than live in a rural area looking after a property. But I had developed an interest in it and found it difficult to give up.

On the other hand, the urge to adopt sannyasa was equally strong and I felt like renouncing materialistic life. I was in two minds and both choices carried equal weight, so I left the decision to God. Then the order came: “Quit as soon as possible.” It was the best thing for me. If I had not adopted sannyasa and not renounced, I would have gone mad. A person who has strange, abstract ideas and who is not satisfied with his life will easily fall prey to insanity. I was not satisfied with my life. I wanted something more, about which I had no idea at that time. I wanted a transcendental experience, so I prayed. I left everything to Him and said, “Whatever you instruct me to do, I will do.” He said, “Just leave as quickly as possible.” So I went.

The same thing happened to me when I left Munger. In Munger I was a very busy man. Day and night I used to read, write and conduct all kinds of meetings. Then suddenly I became unemployed; I had nothing to do. It was a total vacuum. So I spent one year somehow going from this place to that, that place to this. I did a round of India, but ultimately I had to decide where to stay and what to do. There were two things that I could have done. Firstly, I could have devoted myself totally to spiritual life and, secondly, I could have taken up some other work because I had finished my karma with yoga.

I will tell you about my yoga work because that is a very interesting story. Quite frankly, I do not know much about yoga. I have written a lot of books on yoga and they were all published in my name, but I do not know much about yoga. It is neither my tradition, nor my parampara. However, I was given a special vidya by a tantric yogini from Nepal, whom I met when I was eighteen and she was thirty-six. That vidya enabled me to invoke any departed soul, so that he could live and work through me. One day I used it, and for twenty years the soul of a great learned saint was in me, doing all these things. The body, speech and mind belonged to Swami Satyananda, but the knowledge did not belong to me. Even now when I read my books I am sometimes startled. I think, “What is this?”, because that was his work, not mine.

I received the knowledge from the tantric yogini when she was departing from my life. She taught me many fantastic things and I am very thankful to her. She was living in Garhwal when she taught me this, and she died there a few years ago. So, in 1963, before coming to Munger, I invoked a higher soul in Trayambakeshwar, near Nasik. First I prayed, “O God, I want twenty years to establish a mission.” Then I gave a vachan, a promise: “Once I accomplish it I will give up everything and come to you.” Thirdly, I said, 'I want to invoke a great saint to help me in my work.' So, I invoked him and he came into me. That soul was with me for twenty years, but I did not know that he was here until he left me. He did leave me, but I had to go to Nasik to free him through invocation and then immersion in the Godavari River. When I was there I asked, “What am I to do next? I am quite capable of doing any work. I could start any movement even in the political system. I know everything that is happening in the world from day to day: province-wise, state-wise, world-wide, meetings, all the alliances, all the communities. Whatever is happening, I know about it.” Then I left it up to Him. On 14th July I received the command from Him, “Just twenty-one thousand and six hundred mantra repetitions.”

So, in the same way, when one is in a dilemma and does not know what to do, one should leave it to God, or go to a saint who has divya drishti, divine vision. Some saints are gifted with divine vision, but you will not find them on the streets. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with such great souls. They can foretell events, but they speak very little and stay away from society. They dissuaded me from coming closer to them because I would rob them of their earnings of many lives. They said, "You have come to enjoy the fruits that we have worked hard to earn, free of charge." You may look for such divine souls in big cities like Bombay, Delhi or Bangalore, but you will not find them.

Saints and great souls always renounce karma. They practise continuous, unbroken remembrance of God’s name. This is one of their most important characteristics. They live far from karma and accomplishment, personal desires and their fulfilment. They run away from popularity, which, like a fire burns all the earnings of a tapasvi to ashes. It is very difficult to trace such great souls because the holy and unholy live under the shade of the same tree. It is the job of a jeweller to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Only a jeweller can tell a diamond from glass. Without a jeweller you would throw diamonds into the water and collect glass in your bag.

It is not that this country is completely divested of saints and great souls. India is a very big nation. The trouble is that the new generation is running madly after the materialistic world. It is like a compulsion and people cannot do anything about it. Their condition is just like a buoy which bobs up and down at the mercy of the current; they have no choice. They cannot turn the tide of events because the whole society is going towards artha and kama, money and desire. People have forgotten dharma and moksha, duty and salvation.

Nowadays people look for saints and great souls in big cities like Delhi and Bombay and in established institutions. They do not make an earnest effort to search for a real saint. A thief struggles hard to locate a place and a prey. He goes out in the dark of night, taking a risk which may even cost him his life. Sincere seekers should at least be prepared to put that much effort into locating saints and great souls. Such people do exist, but it is difficult to track them down. They remain far away and do not want to be disturbed by society. I was told by such saints that if I approached I would deprive them of their earnings. When I assured them that I had come only for their darshan, I was told that even darshan would deplete their energy by half.

So if you are lucky enough to find such a divine soul, consider yourself to be blessed. What are the qualities of an evolved soul with divine vision? Study this aspect first. Sandal paste, tripundra, geru or matted hair are not definite indications. They may be sitting just as you are in a quiet place, satisfied with two rotis, remembering God and ready to leave if disturbed by others. Kabir Das has said:

An avadhoota is equal to a hundred yogis,
Whose garland is his mind
And whose waistband is his body.
He smears himself with ashes of fear
And is ever under the care of Lord Rama,
Who looks after his total welfare.

Always remember that in each and everyone there is a priceless gem. You may call him God, you may call him atma, paramatma or anything else. There is a very great prize within you, but it is so deep. Kabir Das says again:

Those who dived deep into the water found Him,
Those who feared to dive waited and waited on the shore.