The last few days I’d been going through some churning. Turbulent churning! I couldn’t see what I was doing here in all of this….this play, unending, was burning me, with too many attractions scattering me in different directions. From being a steady glow of contentment I felt I had become a sparkler burning at rapid speed.
There were too many things and people pulling me in different directions. I realize desires scatter, distract and burn you up. Before you can stretch a hand to reach for it you are burned! Too complicated, to tiresome, too beyond my ken, and yet the mind plays such wicked games at luring you into wishful dreaming. You are no longer happy with the present moment as your mind gets latched onto some future hope for joy through hallucinations!
For a sadhak, a desire has to be watched. Some alertness and skill is required. You never know when a tiny, ordinary desire can suddenly become compellingly strong, pulling you in its direction and make you quit reasonable behavior altogether! You end up doing ‘stupid’ things you wouldn’t otherwise do. Attraction and repulsion begin to tug from both sides – pulling, pushing, thrusting, tearing you – until you wish the earth would part and swallow you the way it did with Sita.
I wanted to know in earnest what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wants from me. The Guru has no wants. Yet, I wanted to know that as his devotee he must have some requirements from me.
Am I living my life the way he would have it? Am I doing okay? Does he have any special instructions for me?
But I couldn’t get myself to ask him, even though he’d pass by my office every evening and there were times when he’d briefly stop his car to say hello to all of us standing there.
Either I’d be tongue tied or I’d feel the time and place for asking the question were inappropriate. He was on the move and invariably the car would be packed with a group of people. Or I’d just be so joyful at seeing him that the question itself would fly away.
And frankly, when I see him every question seems trivial, stupid, pointless. Even if it is directed at the very crux of my existence!
I’d be standing in the middle of the road, right in the track of his car wanting to know whether I was on track or not!
This idea of asking Gurudev occurred when a friend of mine ecstatically shared with me how Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had told him exactly what he wanted from him. No stone was left unturned.
Gurudev told him in astonishing detail the real purpose of his being in the ashram (contrary to what appeared to be the reason) and Gurudev went on to tell him what he wanted from him – what was the most important thing for him to focus on and what he should keep away from. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had even given him a time frame within which to accomplish that ‘secret’ mission!
I felt a touch of something close to envy. I thought how fantastic it would be if my Master would tell me how I should lead my life. Personally. Of course, we all have the same guidelines generously distributed during satsangs and knowledge sessions. Every sadhak knows. Has some idea at least. And yet I wanted to hear it in person. Have my Master personally tell me!
It didn’t occur to me that my friend may have gone off track which is why Gurudev had to sit him down on a number of occasions and spell things out to him.
It was another evening at the Narmada tank (a stylish circular building that features a water tank cum conference room) – of late he had been frequenting the place, dropping by for a small break before satsang.
I stood below the hillock facing him, with the square intensity of a sadhak, silently praying. He was on the hillock with some people and they were talking to him, but Gurudev stood there turned in my direction and although there was a physical distance of half a kilometer or more between us it seemed as though he was listening to my prayer with great intent.
Even as I shared, I could feel some clarity dawn. My mind that was wrestling with waves of confusion soon became still. After whispering my anxieties I felt a definite settling down in my navel chakra and an aura of peace and contentment descend on me.
When he came down in his car I had nothing left to say. A group of my office friends pulled out a camera and we took a selfie with him.
A few hours later in the satsang Gurudev conducted a new guided meditation and it seemed his instructions were specially for me – he described my recent state of mind. The meditation left me feeling even more consolidated – I had the sense that I was on track.
I also had another question that Gurudev cleared for me in the Ashtavakra Gita video we watched that night. There was no doubt left in my mind and I was happy that what I intrinsically felt matched with what he said. It was clear what he wanted from me.
He had put me in various situations to make me think about some important things… he wanted me to become aware of my vasanas, and he had shown me ways and given me direct instructions in his knowledge talks on how I was to overcome certain tendencies.
I realize Gurudev doesn’t make any unreasonable demands on us… there’s nothing so difficult that cannot be accomplished without his Grace. And he is always with us. Even when we are least aware of it!
I guess this is what’s most beautiful about this relationship: the Guru has no selfish demands or ulterior motives. He is completely for his bhakt – all he wants is for our progress. Our prosperity is his joy… and he will do everything within his means to ensure our success.
In one of his satsangs he had said, be careful before you say “I love you” to someone. Do you really love them or are you with them because you are lured by some hope of deriving pleasure from them? Then he added, normally you like someone because of their looks, personality, education, intelligence. When you come to me I don’t judge you. I love you just as you are.
I felt that was really something to think about. Sometime else he said, “You have been in so many relationships…just see, so many people have come and gone in your life. Still you look for something. What is there new to discover? Anything that is pleasurable at first ends in pain.”
“If you have loved someone madly then even that pains you in the present moment because you don’t have anything to match that experience again! The intensity with which you love someone, with that intensity you may later hate them. Any time anything can change. This life is unpredictable. There is no guarantee about anyone or anything.”
“Turn your gaze to the Divine …. even if you experience the pain of longing it will have a gain. This world is full of thorns… how much more of the world, of those thorns do you wish to experience?”
There have been a number of times when I had approached Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with a question – but I would always leave dissatisfied, unsettled. His answers would be ambiguous. I would wander about for several days in confusion, asking others for their interpretation of Gurudev’s mysterious reply.
Later, I realized that He just makes me live the answer. Instead of replying through the medium of words He leads me through the medium of life itself!
I now realize that it is far more effective to pray with sincerity… to meet him on the subtle plane than meet him in person. After all, that is what he wants – for us to rely on our inner connection – to have a soul to soul chat with him in that special space where no one else can enter. No people sitting around and listening in on our conversation! Goodbye Ganga Kutir! Hello Happy Space of Hearing!
The Guru has his own ways of answering or communicating with his devotees. It’s up to us to discover and use those other channels – far more profound than the ones we use to communicate with others in our normal lives.