November 28, 2022
Namaste everyone. Thank you for being here this evening. This is an exploration… a merging of two teachings: Advaita (non-duality) and A Course in Miracles.
I had studied an inner chamber Tibetan course many years ago and one paragraph in the course book mentioned that teachings (referring to the Tibetan course) change in terms of presentation over time, with the evolution of the individual consciousness. So, they are re-presented in a way appropriate for the next generation.
The teachers and masters of such traditions are like postmen in the days prior to email. The postman delivers a letter, you open the envelope and read it, and the contents of the letter deeply impact you. No doubt, gratitude to the postman arises for delivering the letter, but the teaching is not mistaken for the form, for the postman.
Therefore, the teachings are of the highest order.
Once, there was a very interesting incident in North India pertaining to a satsang. There was quite a renowned sage and he had to give a lecture in front of hundreds of people. Now, the organizers thought that they would test this man, the sage, so what they did was they did not set up any platform for him from where he could address the audience. They kept him seated on the ground, at the same level as the audience. When he walked in, the sage took stock of the situation. He saw everyone around him, looking at him intently. He thought about it for a moment and then he raised an objection. He said, “I will not talk while I am seated on the ground. I need you to put up a platform so that everyone can see me, and only then will I begin my talk.”
Tongues started wagging. The organisers said, “Look at the ego this man has, he wants to act as if he is higher than the audience and he insists on talking from a height.” The sage heard all this and kept quiet and repeated, “Until this platform is made I will not start.” So they had to put this platform together. Eventually he sat on it and then he started his discourse by saying, “Many of you in the audience must have thought that I have such a big ego, that I am insisting on being seated on a platform, higher than all of you. But that is not so. When you have come here you have not come to listen to me as an individual. You have come to listen to the teaching and the teaching is what is looked up to, not the form of the body. So please do remember that.” That was his message.
I am going to begin by reading out some passages. I have selected about nine or ten of them. I will read out one passage at a time, and I will share it in light of the teaching of Advaita, from a very pragmatic and practical view on its impact on daily living. This is not theoretical knowledge. It is knowledge which has the power to transform one’s conditioning, sometimes gradually, in fact many times gradually, and sometimes suddenly.
Advaita, for those of you who are not familiar with the term, means ‘not-two’, a-dvait. Not two. What appears as two is not really two.
Through this teaching, the veil of duality is lifted. When the veil of duality is lifted we no longer see with the eyes of duality but from the eye of knowledge, which is the third eye of Shiva. There is a change in seeing. Seeing situations in life, events in life, relationships in life and our relationship with everything. It is literally a new way of seeing.
So the first passage is:
“Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only then you meet its conditions. This is not a body made by God, Who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge?”
Knowledge is not the object of this course, peace is. And my teacher Ramesh Balsekar would never tire of saying that all that a human being wants, whether he knows it or not, is peace of mind.
And to understand this peace we have to understand God’s Will and the will of the individual, which we will explore shortly. So to understand His Will is to accept His Will, to accept God’s Will. So many of us are in opposition to this Will of God.
When I read this paragraph I understood how close this teaching must be to Advaita, because peace is the focal point of this beautiful teaching too.
Someone once asked the renowned sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, “How does one know a sage is a sage?” And his reply was, “By the degree of peace that you feel in this presence and the sense of respect that you feel for him.” There is no other criteria. And, peace of mind in daily living means having peaceful and harmonious relationships. Not just with people, but with ourselves, with our thoughts and the events that transpire in our lives.
So now the fundamental design of Advaita comes into the picture. The design of life as we all know it, is duality: Left and right, black and white, up and down, front and back, rich and poor, pleasure and pain, me and the other.
These are the polaric opposites in duality and within this spectrum, life is lived. But, what has happened is that the ‘me and the other’, through conditioning, through collective conditioning as well individual conditioning, has become ‘me versus the other’, in opposition to the ‘other’, ‘me’ separate from the ‘other’. And the teaching aims to heal this division and restore it back from ‘me versus the other’ to ‘me and the other’.
And how is that healed? We will come to that.
Please do understand that the primary focus here is your relationships with others, whether they are your family members, your friends, your colleagues or the stranger you meet on the road. Because all of them are aspects of your relationship with yourself.
“Then follow Him in joy with faith that he will lead you safely through all dangers to your peace of mind this world may set before you. Kneel not before the altars to sacrifice, and seek not what you will surely lose. Content yourself with what you will as surely keep, and be not restless, for you undertake a quiet journey to the peace of God. Then He would have you be in quietness.”
This quietness is the quietness of the mind. It represents the stillness of the thinking mind of the ego that is always living in the dead past or going into an imaginary future.
“In me you have already overcome every temptation that would hold you back. We walk together on the way to quietness that is the gift of God. Hold me dear, for what except your brothers can you need?”
What except your brothers can you need on this journey; they will show you the way.
“We will restore to you the peace of mind that we must find together.”
“The Holy Spirit will teach you to awaken unto us and to yourself. This is the only real need to be fulfilled in time. Salvation from the world lies only here. My peace I give you. Take it of me in glad exchange for all the world has offered but to take away.”
Everything in life is transient, temporary, fleeting. Everything one is identified with is so. Pleasures and pains come and go, successes and failures, objects in our environment, and so on. How can peace be found in that which is transient, fleeting? How can our brothers walk together with us… our brothers and sisters. That is what this course(cap C?) is about, and that is what the teaching of Advaita is about.
“You cannot enter into real relationships with any of God’s Sons unless you love them all and equally. Love is not special.”
So this is where I would like to explain things in clarity, as my spiritual teacher Rameshji explained to all his students and devotees.
You see, whatever everyone thinks and does is based on two conditions: their genetics and their conditioning (in other words, their nature), which we have received from day one. Conditioning from our parents, the religion we were born into, the geographical area we were born into, the economic environment we were born into, the school we went to, and so on and so forth.
We have constantly received a bombardment of conditioning, and based on that conditioning and our genetic blueprint we are inclined to take decisions in a certain way and feel things in a certain way. Now, when we accept that everyone bases their thinking and decisions on these two factors, which were not in their control, then is it truly their ‘doing’? These two aspects were created by the Source, Consciousness, God, put whatever name you want to it, as long as it is clear they were not created by the individual.
If this fundamental principle is accepted, that just as I say and do things based on all this background which God created, then so is it true for the ‘other’ too… if this acceptance seeps in, what happens is that the unnecessary baggage of hatred, blame, condemnation, malice, jealousy, envy, guilt and shame, pride and arrogance, and so on, all drops away. When I accept that everyone is an instrument of God and nobody truly does anything, then where is the question of hating and blaming someone?
Of course, we may not like an action performed by someone.This does not mean we have to accept everything and be a doormat. But the understanding is that we are a brotherhood of instruments through whom God’s Will functions. And the example I use often, which my teacher used, is of the gadgets in a kitchen. Each gadget is designed to produce what it is programmed to and designed to. The toaster cannot make juice. The toaster produces toast, the juicer produces juice, the fridge keeps the food cold… But what they have in common is that without electricity, they would be ‘dead’ objects.
We tend to look upon people as objects with labels and names, and what we miss is that it is the same consciousness, the same electricity, which is running through all of us and through manifestation, which is an appearance within Consciousness.
We miss this point, you see, because we are accustomed to looking at bodies as separate from ours. But we lose sight of the fact that consciousness is talking to consciousness. In this case, consciousness is doing the talking through this body and the listening through that body. Without consciousness, we would both be dead bodies.
So this teaching turns the vision inward, within, that is why Nisargadatta Maharaj would call it ‘reversing into the future’. He mentioned this in another context as well. But it (the teaching) is lifting this veil of separation, and making us see that we have missed this most obvious point: that we are together because we are conscious.
This is what the sense of separation has done. Even the person you don’t like the most in your life, are you really separate from them? If the animating principle is the same, are you really certain you are separate? Is the electricity going into the toaster separate from the electricity going into the juicer? Or is electricity, electricity, irrespective of the gadget? Consciousness is Consciousness, but we have distorted it into nationalities and ideologies that oppose each other, oppress each other, missing this fact that binds us all together.
Now, on another note, what is the content of consciousness? It is what is going on in the mind. The thinking mind is the ego. The ego is the identification with name and form as a separate entity. And the thinking mind judges and blames: this is good, this is bad, this one did this to me so I hate him, that one makes me feel special so I love her, and so on. All this dissecting starts happening, based on what people ‘do’, and what this teaching points to is that it is the very sense of ‘doership’ which needs to be uprooted for a clearer vision.
If one truly understood this teaching, quite frankly, the question of hate does not arise, simply because – can Consciousness hate Itself? If Consciousness is all there is, can Consciousness hate Itself when Its very nature is love; Love for all there is.
So, the thinking mind of the ego is always turning cartwheels upon cartwheels, of involvement in situations, opinions about people, judgments about them, based on what they do, and so on. When all that dialogue starts dying down, then the thinking mind gets quieter and quieter. Because, all thinking related to doership is dropping away, what reveals itself is a still mind, which starts radiating peace. What is peace? It is the absence of the thinking mind. The absence of the thinking mind is the presence of conscious presence. Here and now, in this moment, if my thinking mind is not active, there is only presence.
So this beautiful teaching shows you why your brother, as it says, is so important on this journey. Because, if you heal one aspect of a relationship issue, let’s say you have the issue of jealousy towards someone, now you see things in a clear light and so this issue of jealousy is going to be healed across all your relationships.
The other point is about the labels we put on people. It appears that we are putting them on other people, but those people are arising within our own consciousness. As Nisargadatta Maharaj’s Guru Siddhrarameshwar Maharaj said, supposing you call someone a thief and all the time you say ‘Oh, he is a thief, he has been a thief from his school days, he used to steal things,’ as on on, the word ‘thief’ and the feeling associated with it becomes the content of your consciousness because that is where the word ‘thief’ is appearing all the time.
So what is the dialogue currently going on in one’s consciousness? What labels are we churning out consistently? Are these labels and words, words of separation and blame, based on doership? Every ‘other’ is arising within consciousness. I am arising in your consciousness, otherwise you would not see me. Am I really apart from you? It appears that way, yes. But every sound you hear, everything you see, everything you touch, everything you taste, isn’t that all appearing within consciousness. That’s why you know it. That is how intimate all this is with you.
The person who pushes your buttons the most is God’s gift to you because your reactions are yours, not that person’s. So it is an opportunity to look at what we are reacting to, which is within our consciousness.
“There is nothing outside you, that is what you must ultimately learn, for it is the realization that the Kingdom of Heaven is restored to you. For God created only this, and He did not depart from it, nor leave it separate from Himself. The Kingdom of Heaven is the dwelling place of the Son of God, who left not his Father and dwells not apart from Him. Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness and nothing else within.”
Remember this when you are troubled. Not-two.
“The Holy Spirit’s temple is not a body but a relationship.”
Do you see how often this course is hammering at the same point again and again? And the reason is this; as Rameshji would say about his own teachings. He said it may sound repetitive but the shell of the ego is so strong, based on its conditioning, that it needs constant hammering to crack it. And then once it is cracked open you will find that you will be drawn to the teaching more and more. Rameshji was often asked, “Why do we keep coming back to you again and again when all you say all the time is that everything is God’s Will and nobody does anything. We know it by now, yet why do we keep coming back to it again and again?” And his answer was that it is just like your favorite song; you want to listen to it again and again and again. It’s that simple. This becomes the song of your life.
This is the song that will be sung when you accept that there truly is no such thing as an individual ‘doing’ anything. It is all God’s Will, as we read in the scriptures. It is the Leela, the play of God, and the Maya, the illusion that it appears that people are doing things. Maya is the ego, maya is the thinking mind of the ego. Or as Ramana Maharshi said, ‘Maya is the ‘me’.’ Me-me-me…. which is constantly chanted like a mantra. Me and my story. Look what happened to me. Look what this one said to me. Look what that one did to me, look what God did to me… and so on. Maya is the ‘me’.
“How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? Are you sure the goal of Heaven can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your friend to join with you and give you certainty of where you go.”
Where are we going? Nisargadatta Maharaj would say we are going to where we came from. Where else, but the Source? This is a brief span of a lifetime, between birth and death. So making this journey together, ‘me and the other’, my friend.
Rameshji would often times refer to the ‘original sin’ in Advaita. I look at the ‘other’ as an object and I consider myself the subject looking at the object. Then I start pronouncing judgment on the object – this person is like this, this person does this, this person says that, and so on. But I have actually usurped the subjectivity of the Source, which is the ultimate and only Subject, and have started playing the role of pseudo-subject.
I have forgotten that just as the others are objects in manifestation, so am I. I am an object in the other’s eyes. We are equals. This forgetting is the original sin, in Advaita; one object thinking it is the subject and therefore assuming the role of the pseudo-subject and pronouncing judgment upon everything and everyone. It is when this fundamental error in ‘seeing’ is recognized, that the relationship is healed. The two are now back in balance. Peace is restored to the relationship. This is called seeing with equal vision, seeing with even vision, seeing with the eye of singularity.
You start accepting the other person’s point of view equally. It is as important as yours. You may not agree with it, but you accept that just as your point of view is based on your genetics and conditioning, so to is the other person’s point of view based on their genetics and conditioning. Therefore, you can agree to disagree on certain things without being disagreeable. More often than not, we take up battles and stop talking to people, you see, because they don’t share our point of view. That’s a fractured way of living. Just because someone doesn’t share your point of view, you stop talking to them or you start talking behind the backs and criticizing them.
Maharaj used to say: never criticize anyone, because to criticize anyone is to criticize the affairs of Brahman, Consciousness. Does the ‘me’ know better, that it criticizes?
“Forgiveness recognizes that what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred.”
This is a very important aspect of ACIM as well as Advaita. So do pay close attention to this.
“Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real.” So beautiful. “It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven.”
Because he (your brother) didn’t do it, therefore how can you say ‘I forgive you’? if I say, ‘I forgive you,’ I believe you did something and then I forgive you for what you did. I have the power and authority to forgive you. This however, means that the subject-object relationship is still in place.
And what this beautiful, radiant book and teaching is showing you is that this is not true forgiveness. If you accept totally that nobody truly does anything, then, as Rameshji would say, the question of forgiveness becomes as irrelevant as legs on a snake. He would also say that the difference between true forgiveness and what we perceive generally as forgiveness, is that ‘true forgiveness is forgiving yourself for wanting to forgive someone else for something they are supposed to have ‘done’.
Please understand this. It is not a play of words. True forgiveness is forgiving yourself for wanting to forgive someone else. You will only want to forgive someone else if you believe they have done something. True forgiveness is forgiving yourself for wanting to forgive someone else for something they are supposed to have done. Exactly what it says here.
Jesus on the cross did not say, ‘Lord. I forgive them.’ He said, ‘Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do.’
“And while we still remain outside the gate of Heaven, let us look on all we see through holy vision and the eyes of Christ. Let all appearances seem pure to us, that we may pass them by in innocence, and walk together to our Father’s house as brothers and the holy Sons of God.”
“Let me not be your critic, Lord, and judge against You. Let me not attempt to interfere with Your creation, and distort it into sickly forms. Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from its unity, and thus to let it be as You created it. In love was I created, and in Love will I remain forever. What can frighten me, when I let all things be exactly as they are?”
You see, the most beautiful part here is: In Love was I created, and in Love will I remain forever. All your imperfections, all your shortcomings which you feel you have, all the self-judgment, the self-hate, the self-criticism… who created that? Did you? And who thinks they are imperfections? Many teachings say ‘love yourself,’ but this point tends to get overlooked. When you fully accept that all that you are today, no matter what age: 20, 40, 60, or 80, is the result of aspects beyond your control, how can you hate yourself?
‘Love yourself’ means simply this. You don’t have to do anything to love yourself. ‘Love yourself’ means just seeing things as they are, not as they appear to ‘me’.
“Again, each has learned the most he can at the time, yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy.”
In Indian spiritual thought, there is a most beautiful word called Rnanubandhan. It is the cosmic debt of a relationship. Anyone you come across, you do so because of the bondage. ‘Bandhan’ means bondage. Every relationship in your life is on account of Rnanubandhan. There are no chance encounters. The people in your life, the ones you love, those you don’t like at all, or the stranger who gives you a smile on the road… all are on account of Rnanubandhan.
This bondage is perpetuated when we view our relationships through the prism of doership. ‘You do this to me so I hate you…’ and so on. Then what happens in the relationship is that it becomes like a tennis match, action and reaction, action and reaction… all the time. The button is pressed, you react, the button is pressed again, you react again, and this karmic bondage is going on throughout one’s whole life. All the time I am reacting blindly because I think someone is doing something. This bondage, the Rna of this bondage, becomes heavy, toxic, coagulated. So how does one come out of this bondage? By simply accepting that no one truly does anything. God is the only Doer. Then what happens is that this compulsive need to react all the time starts dropping away. The tennis match cannot be played with one player. Thus, the bondage is no longer being perpetuated. The game is up.
Acceptance of God’s Will actually stares us in the face, because it’s our own experience that breathing ‘happens’. We don’t ‘do’ our breathing. Breathing happens, it is not in our control. Is the blood coursing through our body in our veins, in our control? Is our heart pumping in our control? Certainly not. Then whose control? We are on this planet thanks to gravity. Is it our will? We have forgotten all these factors, and yet we try to exercise ‘my will’. We have seen the effect the moon has on water; the high tide and low tide. Our bodies are 70 percent water. Even our emotions are not in our control, as they rise and fall, up and down, because of factors not in our control. How much is in one’s control in daily life? You have no idea what you are going to see next… what you’re going to hear next. You never know what the next moment brings, and on the basis of that which it brings, you react.
So this delusion of control is exposed, when the ego realizes: ‘My God! I am actually truly not in control,’ it can get frightened because it’s losing its identity. But when it happens it’s beautiful, because there’s a surrender to a Higher Force that is beyond intelligent, which is eternally wise, and then we find ourselves flowing with the happenings in our life. Life becomes simpler and simpler. And that is why Rameshji said, ‘Life is imprisonment. Why? Because what was so vast has got confined to this body, this form. But what we have done is converted what is a simple imprisonment to rigorous imprisonment and made life hell for ourselves as well as for others. How? By blaming and condemning and judging and hating, and so on.’
So this was a brief exploration to show how close these two wisdom teachings are. And the thought came to me to share this simply because when my first book ‘Pointers from Ramesh Balsekar’ was released, I had received many emails from people in the West who wrote to me saying this message is so close to the message in ACIM.
I think the message of ACIM and Advaita Vedanta will shine through more and more, in the years to come. We are living in turbulent times. We are being forced now to accept that we are not in control. Even those who thought things were in control have now experienced themselves that the way events have transpired in the last few months, very little is truly in our control. Everything is changing. It’s going to be a changed world in a few months. A lot of belief systems have collapsed, about one’s personal life, about work, about situations, about relationships…
This is the awakening. It happens mainly in times of crisis, when what we hold dear to us starts falling away and we start asking questions. It is traumatic and painful for most of us, as we have never encountered this before. It is a time of transformation, and as Rameshji would say, we cannot control what happens in life, but what we can certainly look at is our attitude to life.
Questions & Answers
Holger: Thank you, Gautam, for being such a beautiful postman. (Gautam’s laughter) And I feel the electricity and even though I don’t know if I’m a toaster or juicer, I am very happy. I just wanted to say thank you. It very deeply resonates with me and it’s beautiful.
Gautam: Thanking me is like my left hand thanking my right hand.
Sheena: Hello Gautamji. I actually wanted to talk to you for a very long time. So please accept my thanks, first and foremost. Your videos have really changed my life and I can’t stress how beautiful your messages are. So I just wanted to say a big big thank you. You have really, really changed me and I don’t think that that’s a debt I can ever probably repay.
Gautam: The teaching has changed you.
Sheena: Yes, the teaching. The postman has been brilliant. What I wanted to ask was: I have understood that everything is planned, everything one does depends on the genetics and one’s conditioning. But sometimes people do things which are not appropriate. Do you think free will exists, and can they exercise free will to change their actions? Or is it that free will doesn’t exist?
Gautam: Certainly they can. If it is part of their destiny, that will also happen. Spiritual teachings are instruments of transformation. So if one is destined to receive a spiritual teaching and be open to embrace it, then it will certainly lead to a different way of being. That is also part of the Divine Plan, you see.
Oscar: I have a question. It is something that has been moving inside me for a long time. I’ve been doing ACIM for many many years and also before that I was reading Ramana Maharshi. The million dollar question is, I’m sure everybody at some point has asked himself this question, “How did the ego come about?” I took this question up for many years. I then found the book Talks with Ramana Maharshi, and in it he says very bluntly, “The Self created the ego.” I wasn’t expecting that. Now I was very surprised.
In ACIM, it says something to the effect that in the universe, when everything was one, there was a tiny, mad idea with the Son of God… for God… which was, how to love? This is the explanation ACIM gives to the appearance of the ego.
Now if God is the doer, the only thing there is, is the will of God, and I firmly believe that. I think maybe it was just the will of God and, you know, I mean, somewhere there is this dark idea that the ego is something bad, because of all the things we go through when we identify with the ego, but at the same time you think, well, why not?
It’s just that there is this resistance to thinking that God created the ego. But then from my tiny perception, from my little self, probably, I cannot understand the purpose of what it would be, but what is your idea about this subject?
Gautam: Well, you asked a very valid question. The answer is that God created the ego through the process of divine hypnosis, as Rameshji would say. You see, it’s very simple. When a baby is born, up to the age of about two is the pure I AM, the pure consciousness. Now this baby starts developing an intelligence and realizes, ‘If I cry, my mother will come running.’ In other words, ‘If I ‘do’ something, something will happen.’ That is the birth of the ego. Then it starts thinking, ‘I am the center, because whatever I do, whenever I do something, something happens as a consequence.’ So the sense of separation gets created there and then. That is when the ego comes in, through the process of Maya.
What was pure presence at birth, which in fact in India, in ancient India, in the scriptures, is called Krishna Consciousness, the pure consciousness, of the purity of being – I AM, not contaminated with ‘I am so and so’… is now identified consciousness, identification with name and form as a separate entity.
As Rameshji would say, supposing right now we pressed a button and your entire memory was wiped out, there would still be one thing which is not wiped out, which is your sense of being, your sense of presence. Now that sense of being has not gone anywhere and got replaced by the ego.
Through the process of divine hypnosis, what was vast and expansive became constricted, and the journey, which is the play of consciousness, is to go back – rediscover – that vastness. This is the beauty of the human birth. It is only in the human birth that we can have this. Because man is aware that he is aware; homo sapiens sapiens. We have the ability to separate our being from our experiencing. This is a gift, and this is what spiritual realization is. This entire journey from ‘I am’ to ‘I am so and so’ and back to ‘I am’ is the play of God discovering Itself. That is the beauty of it.
Oscar: But why does suffering have to be involved in this coming and going back?
Gautam: Because of the ego, which has identified with things external. It has lost this awareness of ‘I am’ and it has become ‘I am Gautam,’ ‘I am Oscar,’ ‘I have parents, I have money, I have a house, me me me…’ When that structure is disturbed there is suffering, because then one wonders, ‘Who am I if all these things I am identified with and tell me who I am, start dropping away one by one? What is left? Who am I, truly?’ This is the start of the spiritual journey. You see, that is why it’s one of pain, because what gets taken away, creates a sense of loss. Let’s say one loses a parent, or an expensive object one purchased, or there is a loss of job, and so on. Something is lost. The ego feels, ‘I have lost something.’
When what we identify with is temporary, it shakes up our world when something happens to it. Therefore, what is it that is not temporary? It’s the conscious presence, which does not need anything else to depend upon. So the loss is felt by the ego, the suffering is felt by the ego because it feels that ‘I will die.’ ‘Without this relationship, I will die,’ ‘Without this job, I will die,’ and so on. Who is this ‘me’ who thinks ‘I will die’? That is the spiritual journey; it is a journey of loss, but a journey of loss of all that is not true.
Oscar: This is like an exploration…
Gautam: Yes, in fact all losses are gifts because they wake us up out of our slumber, you see?
Michael: I think I understand the teaching. I have read Ramesh’s books, your books, I’ve done Zen for 15 years… well, you know, the works. But I sit here, listen to you, I understand, I feel peaceful and then life happens, and everything is just like, erased completely, and then I come back to a book and I’m alright for some time… I got it, but then I go out there and again, ‘Bam!’ You know, I was wondering if it’s just me or everybody?
Gautam: No, you’re not the only one. You see, the consolation is, this process is irreversible. The consolation, if one can call it that, is that if there is even that recognition, when one is with the teaching and one thinks one has lost it in daily living, it is bound to permeate into daily living. Sometimes it is gradual, sometimes it is sudden. This whole teaching leads us to the aspect of witnessing. When we accept everything is God’s Will, ‘His Will’ as it says in ACIM, no one truly does anything and so on and so forth, what has happened actually is that observing, which was done by an individual, by an ego with a sense of doership, has now changed to witnessing.
You see, when you no longer pass judgments, you are witnessing. The quality of witnessing in your life, in your daily life ,whether at work or at home, will increase more and more. One can’t really say ‘increase’ because the witness is always there. It is the thinking mind with its judgments that has got overlaid on the witnessing. When the thinking mind gets disengaged, this pure aspect of witnessing shines forth in all its glory.
So the fact that you’re even drawn to the teaching, the sheer fact that it resonates with you, because some people may be not drawn to it and reject it, means that it has already permeated your daily living to some extent, even if it is miniscule. Many may not agree with the concepts, but obviously you’re drawn to it otherwise you would not have read these books, and so on. So That Power has to be trusted to take you home. As Rameshji would say, why consider your glass half empty? Consider it half full. It is bound to impact one’s daily living. And a name like ‘Michael’ reminds me of Archangel Michael which is the ‘I AM’, He who is as God. You know, this is also in the Indian scriptures. The Sun was worshipped in ancient India because it was the only visible Lord. The light of the Sun that shines its light equally on every one, without charging anyone, because its nature is to shine. This is the light of I AM.
Harish: We’re currently grieving the loss of a loved one, and it was due to negligence of a family member and it’s… it’s… it’s a bit heavy. So what actually happened is that because of the negligence of the person, our love is no more with us.
So I wanted to ask you, I’ve heard it said that whatever happens is God’s Will, and there are also these people around, you know, who have caused this negligence, and for them life is going on normally whereas, we are the ones who are suffering. So how can people be merry, you know, at the time when we are living in sorrow. What is your answer to such a question?
Gautam: Firstly, Harish, I am very sorry for what you are going through, and only a parent would know that, but I often receive this question, where parents have lost their children through some untoward incidents, accidents, and so on.
You see, what compounds the basic pain of loss, which is already there because of the loss of the child or whatever kind of loss, is not accepting it as God’s Will. By God, we are not referring to a God who is an individual, like us, but sitting in heaven. God is Consciousness, the Source, from which the manifestation has appeared, within Itself.
So to keep it simple, let’s take the good and bad. Let’s take Mother Teresa and let’s take Hitler. Now, what this teaching points to is that if you say, ‘How did God create Hitler? How could God, the all compassionate, create Hitler?’ then the question arises, ‘If God did not create Hitler, who did?’ Someone more powerful than God? Is that possible?
You see, what this Teaching throws light on is that all the polaric opposites of life come from the same Source. So when this is accepted, even the pain which is one’s destiny, is accepted.
Now, once we accept that this was the will of the Divine, this was the will of the Lord, use whatever name you want… we do exactly that which we think and feel we should do.
If I feel I have to take action against someone, by all means, I do that. If I have to take someone to court for example, for negligence or whatever… because that is daily living. We think and feel, and we have to act upon that. But the acceptance of this loss will lighten the burden we are carrying, which is already so heavy.
When we keep pointing fingers at other people… they may have been instruments for the loss, there’s no denying that possibility, but our focus is only on, ‘I just I hate him… I hate him… I hate him…’ that’s the mantra going on in the mind. But when we accept that this was meant to happen… there are others who have lost children, now I have become one of them… I could not have imagined it, but so it is… then you start seeing objectively, in that sense. If you need to say something to the people involved, if you need to take action, you will do it in the light of this objectivity. That is the only difference this teaching will make. It will not take away your pain. This teaching will make the pain pure, and not overloaded with hatred, condemnation and so on. That is what happens.
Harish: If this is something that any parent has to accept, and the people who are part of this incident due to whom we have to face these circumstances, if everybody feels that it is God’s Will, then they will never be will be judged upon, because then they are just going to get away with saying that, ‘Oh, it was meant to happen, it is God’s Will.’ But then, what happens in the court? What happens to social structures?
Gautam: We all live in social structures, right? And thankfully we have laws in place. And that will all come into effect and people will be held accountable for it. This is not a green signal to do everything the way one wants. Rameshji would give the example of a murder being committed. There are various possible outcomes. Sometimes the murderer is caught, sometimes the murderer is not caught in spite of the best efforts of the police. Then, another possibility is that the murderer is caught but sometimes he is set free because of insufficient evidence. And, even worse, sometimes the wrong person is held responsible for the murder! Whose will is that? So you see, as the Bhagavad Gita says, all you can do is act. The results of your action are not in your control. You do whatever you think and feel you should do, but thereafter you have no control over it. So this is what gets understood. So one may go to court, for example, if that’s what feels appropriate, but who knows what the outcome is? It may be years of legal battles and you don’t even know the outcome. But, you still have to do exactly what you think and feel you should do.
You know, someone would ask Rameshji, ‘Why did God create handicapped children, what harm have they done?’ We all feel pain when we see handicapped children. He would answer by saying, ‘I understand what you’re saying, but why don’t we ever say, ‘Lord, why have You created healthy children?’ We take it for granted. But ‘God’ includes duality of every conceivable kind. We still make this error of thinking of God as an individual, and we fix all attributes on Him. Then we build these expectations, that God must behave and act in a certain way… the way ‘we’ feel is appropriate.
Anyway, we are running out of time. I do hope that since you are drawn to this Teaching, it will give you some solace to deal with the pain. You’re more than welcome to ask questions again in our regular session, if you feel inclined to be part of it.
Gautam: I would like to end by reading one paragraph by a very revered Indian sage called Shirdi Sai Baba. I think he passed away in 1918 or so. He is very popular across the length and breadth of India, for all the miracles he performed. But he would keep saying, “I give people what they want so that they may want what I truly want to give them,” and he was referring to enlightenment and self-realization. So I’ll read this passage and then we can just be together in silence for a few minutes.
Thank you for being here and being given this opportunity to share the Teaching with you.
“Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. If any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away but receive them well and treat them with due respect. God will be certainly pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked, and your verandah to strangers for resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give it, do not give it but do not bark at them like a dog. Let anybody speak hundreds of things against you. Do not resent by giving any bitter reply. If you tolerate such things you will certainly be happy. Let the world go topsy-turvy, remain where you are, standing in your own place, look on calmly at the show of all things passing before you. Demolish the world of difference that separates you from Me and then the road for our meeting will be clear and open. The sense of differentiation as I and Thou is the barrier that keeps away the disciple from his master and unless that is destroyed, the State of Union or atonement is not possible. God is the sole proprietor. Nobody else is our protector. His method of work is extraordinary, invaluable and inscrutable. His will be done and He will show us the way and satisfy our heart’s desires. It is on account of Rnanubandhan that we have come together. Let us love and serve each other and be happy. He who attains the supreme mode of life is immortal and happy. All others merely exist. They live so long as they breathe.” – Shirdi Sai Baba
November 28, 2022