Pseudo-Enlightened Beings and the Tradition
“This article is dedicated to all the Pseudo-Enlightened beings with whom we cross paths with in our spiritual journey. Most pretend they know the limitless, eternal, indestructible, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being. While Reality pleads for Mercy and most of us suffer their boasts in dignified silence. This article is as well dedicated to all those students who fail to be students but try to be teachers instead without adequate spiritual awareness and understanding. One blind man leading the way on a path that one has never trodden. The article is also dedicated to each unprepared student who fails to understand the essence and blames the spiritual master instead, sometimes for their methods, at other times for their behaviour and yet at other times for their own inadequacies.”
In this world, there are also some specialists who have an enlightenment meter. They can even tell the degree of enlightenment. You can usually see those confidently giving lectures and commenting on others even without personally knowing the people they comment on and commenting on many different practices without themselves having perfected anything.
People ask “Are you enlightened, Swamiji”. I ask them “Please tell me what enlightenment is”? The best answer I ever got was “Good Question”.
Before you ask a question, first know your question itself. How many people know what enlightenment is?
Will any enlightened being say that he is enlightened? Probably he will say “I know nothing”. For those who know do not tell and those who tell do not know.
How do you measure who is enlightened? By being enlightened yourself. And are you enlightened?
In the tradition one never asks such questions. I can never imagine asking such foolish questions to my teachers. Knowledge that we receive from the Guru is his grace. Grace is received when we offer our love and devotion to the spiritual master. Even if one has to ask a question, it is irresponsible to ask any spiritual master any question without proper preparation. One cannot behave like a spoilt brat kid. First prepare yourself, read the texts or ask what texts you can read to know what ever fact it is that you wish to know. Only then put your question to the teacher. In the tradition, we consider that an unprepared person does not have the right to higher knowledge. Only preparation and hard work, service to the Guru gives us that right.
On my part, I would first go and serve my Guru. When I observed that he was pleased with me, when he was without any disturbance, in the right mood, then I asked him for whatever I needed to know. Knowledge cannot be demanded, it must be asked for humbly. Without humility everything is a waste.
There were times when we, the students knew the practice, we knew how to do it, how many times to do it, and all the other details, yet we would go to our Guru and ask him for his grace and permission to do it. That grace and permission means hundred percent successes. In the tradition, our mind means nothing. Only the Guru, only his grace, nothing else matters.
If you read about two of my teachers Swami Shukdevanand and Tatambari Baba who I have described in different places, you will observe one is like a king in the material world, while the other possesses nothing. Both are spiritual emperors. I have had the good fortune of meeting over thirty five siddhas (perfected masters) and each one is unique and different from the other. Some are materially rich, others posses nothing. Yet they are all the very face of god.
Many people go by external behaviour of spiritual persons, but even that is not a correct measure. No regular parameter helps in knowing that they are perfected except for their own grace and the grace of god. If we do not understand them then it is our destiny and karma which can be also understood as inadequate preparation. And if we do understand the Guru, then it is the grace of the Guru force.
Once some years back when I was visiting Ayodhya, I was sitting at a tailors shop trying to place an order. While I sat there, I started talking to another man who was present in the shop wearing traditional Indian white clothes. I told him that I was looking to meet a spiritual master in the holy city of Ayodhya. He asks me what kind of a master I wanted to meet and why? Was I looking for a very learned person? I said that all I wanted was to meet a spiritual master and feel the live spiritual energy surrounding him and feel those moments of spiritual bliss at his feet. Much to my surprise I started to feel an enormous spiritual energy emanating from that man. It was blissful but I was shocked. I had not felt anything when I had first met him and I am usually good at catching energy changes. After sometime he gets up and leaves. He understood that I felt the energy; he had simply showed himself to me because of my desire. I was too taken aback to say anything. After a couple of days I saw him at a Vaishnav Monastery and realized that he was a monk. We both nodded to each other without exchanging a word. He hid himself real well. If it wasn’t for his grace I would have never known that he was anything more. Just like a rich man hides his money from the world so a true spiritual man too will hide most of his spiritual secrets from the world. They are meant to be revealed only to the deserving.
Once the Guru teaches, and once we receive knowledge from him, the head should always bow in front of him. He was our Guru, he is our Guru and he will always remain our Guru. Never does one oppose one’s spiritual teachers nor does one work against them. Nor does one ever consider himself as equal to the Guru. That is the tradition. Any opposition to a spiritual teacher or Guru only harms one self. Spiritual people have tremendous power. If they mix with us and behave like our friends it is their grace. Any opposition to them only reduces our merits. If one does not like something one can simply leave. Neither do we attempt to correct our Guru nor to contradict them.
It may not sound logical but that is how it is. But there is logic too. Spirituality is not like learning anything else where one has to reach a prescribed level of knowledge and as the intelligent student goes further he may become more and more specialised and qualified, possibly eventually knowing more than his own teacher due to research and hard work. However, in the spiritual world most persons receive an initiation from a guru which is an actual transfer of spiritual energy from the Guru to the student (shishya). It takes many years and lots of hard work for even one single student to make it to a level where one can even transfer this energy. While you were practicing what the guru gave you, the Guru himself did not sleep; he too was involved in doing higher practices, while he continued helping you. In spirituality the growth is almost like a geometric progression so you have little chance of catching up. One can catch up only when both are realised. But that is a state from amongst other things free of stupidity, especially competitive stupidity.
Many modern Indians and foreigners never really understand many of these complexities in our system. There is a general opinion in India amongst spiritual teachers about foreigners that they become quickly encouraged with a little positive and quickly discouraged by a small little negative. Such persons are not prepared students. Like a good boxer first learn to take a beating and remain in the ring. Learn to defend your position and your work, only then, move from strength to strength. Try to punch a good opponent as a beginner and chances are you get knocked out. Without patience, persistence, stamina, a wish to excel, an eye on the goal, and proper discipline in one’s practice, one cannot be successful. Keep your ego down.
Over a period of many years that I have been teaching I have observed that it is usually very difficult to teach Yoga instructors to achieve higher spiritual knowledge especially in the western world. In India, if somebody starts to feel the divine energy they understand that this means that they have to bow their heads and work harder; however in the western world; the person tries to use this energy to achieve certain goals. Such a use is a misuse of this divine energy and leads to its loss as well as the person often takes on much negativity on themselves. It also destroys the possibility of further spiritual growth and after any misuse the person is left in a more mixed up spiritual state than when they started off. Another acute problem with these yoga instructors is their ego. Because they have many students, a large number of them believe that they are better than spiritual masters, many of whom, posses much fewer students. However, allow me to point out that there are hundreds of graduate students but much fewer PhD students. Does that mean those who teach PhD’s are unsuccessful? The higher the mountain, the fewer the people reach the top. It is interesting to observe that in India many serious spiritual masters may have only one good student whom they may manage to transfer their knowledge to.
To add to all that I have said above is another fact that few people understand. Many spiritual masters do not wish to reveal their spiritual power. There was a very interesting true story in our recent times about a master on the banks of the Narmada River. There was a teacher who had recently been shifted to a new school in a small little village on the banks of the Narmada. When this teacher was at the school, he saw a badly dressed man going past the school, and something about him attracted his attention. He asked the local people about him. The people told him that the poor man was mad, that he often went past the school and had been living in that area for a long time. But this school teacher was an observant man, he observed that this seemingly mad man would cross the school every day at the same time and he could fix his movement by his clock. He realised that the man was not mad and guessed due to his own spiritual background that the man was actually a spiritual master who was hiding himself for no insane person could be that punctual. The next day he decided to talk to him and seek his blessings. As the man went past, the teacher stepped out of the school and followed him to a little distance seeking courage to go upto him. After a few meters the madman stopped by himself and from the distance raised his hand in a gesture to bless him. The master had understood what the teacher wanted. By now the teacher had gathered the courage to go up to the master, who merely nodded his head, blessed the school teacher and then went on his way. Now every day the teacher would come out of the school and bow to the master at a little distance away from the school so as to not attract attention. One day the teacher thought to himself “Why does Guruji not share his knowledge and bless many people”. The spiritual master of course read his thought. The next day he called an ailing person and gave him some herbal medicine to heal him and the man was healed. Soon as the village came to know of this feat, the villagers started visiting the babaji, then after sometime, the nearby villagers and townsmen started visiting the master. Now, when the school teacher visited the Sadhu he observed that slowly and steadily the crowd had grown and kept growing. Came a time when the crowd became so large that the teacher had a hard time visiting the master. Then he thought to himself “Why does Guruji collect such a huge crowd? There is no peace”. The master again read the thoughts of the school teacher. He sent away all the people and when the teacher came to visit, the master told him “I was quietly going my way, you found out about me, and then you wondered why I was not sharing my knowledge and helping people. Now you have come to realise what a nuisance this is. I let all this happen so that you could realise the reasons for my actions, for in your next birth you too shall be a spiritual master. Now there is no way that the people will let me live in peace, so I will leave this place to go to another area where people do not know me and will leave me alone in peace”. Saying this, the master left the village, the teacher off course was sad to see him go but he had learnt his lesson.
The moral of the story is that spiritual practices need to be done in solitude, that one must not be involved in such acts of kindness that these very acts of kindness become a source of sorrow. And that the spiritual master is a mystic whose ways are an unfathomable mystery that cannot be measured and understood by our limited knowledge. Reduce your ego to such a level that this net of constant birth and death cannot hold you, and that you slip between the holes of this net. Value and honour yourself honestly but value and honour others too, for to lie to yourself is a path to delusion not to liberation. Strive to become truly enlightened.