Is it compatible to be a politician or a public representative and also lead a sattwic life? What advice would you give to a person who is going into politics?
Aren't politicians human too, with the need and the right to experience the benefits of yoga practice? Politics is a profession. It is not a bad or a good thing. Unfortunately, politics today is taken negatively. The positive aspect of politics has to be highlighted by becoming more considerate, aware, active and thinking of the development and betterment of the human culture and human society. And the profession of a politician is guided by the mind. The clarity of thought, intention and the direction of one’s action should be clear.
For that, some meditation, reflection with the practice of SWAN, some asana, pranayama and yoga nidra will help. Therefore, become a practising yogi while you are a politician and you will find it will help you become a better person and also a better politician.
How does one remain in a state of equilibrium without raga or dwesha and still manage to do all work exceptionally well? If you’re not passionate how is it possible to remain highly functional?
There are two things – knowing and acting. You know and you decide not to act, or you know and you decide to act. Which one is better? The one who knows and decides to act. Knowing is an intellectual process, acting is the actualizing process. Some people say, ‘Why should one act, when everything is unreal? Why should one participate in any karma?’ That is a lopsided attitude. The same people eat, they don’t stop that karma. They won’t cook, they stop that karma but depend on somebody to cook for them, declaring that cooking is not their karma.
The people who know and act follow their dharma and kartavya which is part of the yogic culture and tradition, and the Sanatana culture and tradition. There is no negation, rejection, renunciation, repulsion, instead there is acceptance of dharma and kartavya. What I need to do, I will do. I eat, I go to the bathroom, I talk, I don’t stop that. I do everything that I please, yet I decide that there is something that I am not going to do, that is incorrect, for you are stopping your own dharma and kartavya. Knowing is one thing and actualizing the dharma and kartavya is another thing. When they both converge, then one becomes a yogi. When they both are dissected then one is a bhogi.
Is there anything considered as a spiritual sin?
Yoga and the Indian belief system do not believe in sin. There is no word which denotes sin and therefore Indians are not used to the word sin. Paap is not sin, it is the unvirtuous act. Punya is virtue and paap is non-virtue.
According to Swami Sivananda, it is the expression of your nature. If you are tamasic, your expressions will be negative, destructive, and this can be considered sinful. If you are sattwic, your behaviour, action and performance will be helpful, considerate, kind, compassionate, uplifting, and that can be considered virtuous. You are what you live in your mind. If you are living negativity, then in everything you do, you are experiencing negativity.
If you think, ‘I am committing a sin’, it is a sin; if you feel guilty about it, you will feel guilty about it. Also due to your upbringing, mind-set, cultural, social and religious background, different thoughts and ideas will be formed. However, as an individual, one only lives and one has to live the positive of the mind, and then there is no sin.
Is enlightenment possible?
The individual’s effort counts, not the teaching of the teacher, remember that for all times to come. Vidya is vidya, knowledge is knowledge. How you understand it, how you apply it, that is your mind and you have to look at that aspect.
As far as enlightenment is concerned, somebody once asked Paramahamsaji, “Is it possible to become self-realized?” He said, “No.” The reporter said, “Why? Because everyone is saying, self-realization is the destiny of humankind and you are saying self-realization is not possible. That means all the religions, scriptures and saints are wrong?” Paramahamsaji said, “Listen, self-realization is a transcendental experience. Mind is not transcendental. How can a non-transcendental mind experience the transcendental condition? It is not possible.”
Therefore, self-realization is not possible for anybody with a non-transcendental mind, however it is possible that you prepare your mind, increase the capacity and purity of the mind, the container aspect of the mind. If you improve your mind the transcendental reality will come. If you think, ‘I want self-realization’ and you sit down, it is never going to happen.
What does ‘everything is divine’ mean?
It is said that everything in life is divine. This depends on the coloured glasses you put on to see the world. If you put on red coloured glasses, everything will be seen as red. If you wear black glasses, the tint will be black. In the same manner, everything is divine as everything is made from stardust – the body, the planets, even the car and bicycle. The material used in making the car is the same stardust which we are made of, and therefore the car is not a 1920 model, it is a billion-year-old car because it has the same stardust.
Vedanta and all spiritual traditions have said that everything is divine. This is a cross-cultural statement, which you find in Islam, Christianity, in Chinese, Indian, African, Celtic and Druidic traditions. The Ishavasya Upanishad states (mantra 1):
Ishaavaasyamidam sarvam yatkincha jagatyaam jagat;
Tena tyaktena bhunjeethaa maa gridhah kasyavid dhanam.
All that exists in this ever-changing universe is the abode of the Lord (in which the Lord resides). Enjoy whatever the Lord gives you. Do not covet, for whose indeed is wealth?
Therefore, live your life with dignity. If you visited the Prime Minister’s or President’s house you would live with dignity and refrain from doing anything naughty and unjust. In the same manner, why don’t you live your life with dignity on this Earth and refrain from doing anything naughty and unjust, for this is the house of God? When you come to live in the ashram, there is a discipline to follow and when you come to live in the house of God, there is a discipline to follow. This world is the house of God according to the statement of the Ishavasya Upanishad.
What is the biggest challenge in life?
The biggest challenge in anybody’s life is negativity. If you can manage negativity your spiritual life is open. If you cannot manage your negativity, then what is the purpose of living? The purpose of living is to experience the positive. That is the effort you have to make every moment. Making the effort to live the positive every moment is yoga from moment to moment.
Negativity has to be managed, the rest are just expressions of the mind. Ahara, nidra, bhaya and maithuna are the four basic instincts. Ahara is physical and psychological craving. Food, happiness, joy, anything that keeps you happy and healthy is ahara and you desire and crave it. Nidra, sleep and disconnection, is the second instinct. Bhaya, fear of the unknown, is the third and maithuna, sexuality, procreation is the fourth instinct.
These four instincts have to be managed, not only sexuality. When people highlight one and negate others it indicates that they do not know the reality of life which is governed by the four instincts. The four have to be brought under control and have to be balanced. It is not a barrier; it is a sadhana. Just as you fast on certain days as sadhana, or control your fear and become strong as part of your determination and will, in the same manner, sleep, sexuality, fear and craving have to be managed. You need to have control over and govern the instincts.
Nothing is seen as a barrier; your sadhana is developing the appropriate and right skills, to manage the instincts most effectively, efficiently and properly. Therefore, the biggest challenge in spiritual development is negativity.
I want to know why I am here in this universe.
This question has been there for ages and everybody has tried to give an answer to it or satisfy themselves with an answer. If it was a simple answer, then only one question and one answer would suffice for all ages to come. It seems that this question is not a simple question – why are we here? People have tried to explain this in form of karma, destiny, God’s will, or God’s lila, the Divine play.
While we are here, what can we do, what purpose can we give to our life? The enlightened beings of the past have said that the purpose we can give to our life is to acquire excellence, to be ace of all and master of none. Ace of all, master of none; that is excellence.
This is the goal in my life, to become ace of all and master of none. This means I will achieve excellence in everything I do whether I speak, walk, drive, fly or ride – in whatever I do I develop excellence. This is my focus and not God. Today if somebody asks me, “What is your focus in life?” I will say, “Excellence,” and not God or spiritual enlightenment. I am sure that if I excel in everything, I will be promoted fast as that is the learning – to master myself and to express the most beautiful me. I like to think that is why I am here. If you can bring a smile to another person’s face, you have fulfilled the purpose of your life.
19 January 2020, satsang to Yogic Studies students, Ganga Darshan, Munger