QUANTITY vs. QUALITY
Q: You always said that: you have to work in full capacity, every practice has to be to the best of your abilities; but I want to ask – if the ideal practice is the combination of regular effort and also quantity and quality, what is the priority in quantity, quality and regularity? Did you practice for 20 hours? Usually before obtaining the results of the Sadhana, as the yogic books say, one has to perform maha tapas. Is the total submerging into practice a key to that? Is the quantity of the practice measured by the hours or length not so important as a quality of practice? Last time you gave me a practice which takes 5 to 6 hours; is it individual or is it intended for everybody?
Guruji: Whoever is qualified to receive such a suggestion. Here the most important thing is: if you do not go for quantity – you will never ever become aware of the quality. Quality is born out of the quantity. Your practice will be elevated to a very different level. Then you will discover the quality inside the quantity. Regularity is the name of the game. Because it’s not the bodybuilding workout – we have to do it every day: day in, day out. I’ll say also that it will take a lifetime to calm down the mind, it doesn’t happen in a few years or suddenly.
Q: Lahiri Mahasaya in his letters mentions 10 or 14 hours of practice – it is definitely not the level for an ordinary person.
Guruji: Yoga is not for an ordinary person – it is for very ambitious people. And the suggestion of Lahiri Mahasaya was meant for a specific person. It was individual.
Q: About the asanas and certain postures: did you learn them from the book?
Guruji: There was a group of people who learned Kriya yoga in Gwalior; I started to attend – and there were some people who were trying to do some asanas. I also tried; in the beginning the body was stiff, but I could do most of them within 3-4 months. Then I came across a copy of Hatha Yoga Pradipika. I started to do those asanas, and continued till my Guru initiated me into Kriya yoga. Then the understanding of different mudras came. And after experiencing my first Samadhi I almost stopped doing postures, concentrating more on weight training – which actually helped me revive myself from the effects of post-samadhi. Now I do only mudras, padmasana and nauli. But I will say: if you have practiced those asanas – only then you can do the practice of mudras successfully. It will give you different control of your body, different feel.
Q: What was the most challenging asana – if there was any challenge in them?
Guruji: Of course there was! Purna matsyendrasana – it was very difficult. But I was able to do that. Then, after my first meeting with Babaji, I became broader and bigger. I cannot do these two asanas now – purna matsyendrasana and baddhapadmasana.
Q: You speak about nauli – will it help in future at certain stages, when the air is exhaled?
Guruji: It will give a final refined touch to mahamudra. That is the main point there.
Q: In your sadhana – does weight training affect your system more than postures?
Guruji: Postures work from an isometric principle: they will strengthen your ligaments and especially joints. Weight training concentrates more on musculature. Of course, everything else is also involved; but asanas have a more isometric effect on the physical body. A combination of both is very much recommended. Always have a wider perspective: do not say “I will always do only postures, I’ll not do weight training” or “I will only do weight training – I’ll not do postures.” Both are good: there should be a balance in your practice.
Religious people keep repeating that this is the worst time, materialistic Kali yuga; Satya yuga was far better… I grew up listening to these talks. One day I was just comparing the present with the past and it was a shocking discovery: king Harishchandra, the most truthful being on Earth, suffered in Satya yuga to the level when he had to auction his wife and son on the crossroad. He had to sell them off to get some money. Then nobody was giving him even a piece of bread to eat – and he had to sell himself to the raja of Benares, who made him guard one of his cremation areas.
The taxation was so severe back then, that when his son died and his wife brought him for cremation – he took half of her clothes as tax.
If I compare this time with the current century there will be a dramatic difference: if somebody tries to sell his wife and son – he will be severely beaten by the mob, police will arrest him. I have moved around a lot and have a firm conviction: if you ask for bread or food – nobody will say “no”. People might not give you money, but no one will deny you food… You may knock at any door – and the ladies of the house will graciously give you rotis, immediately. If a lonely man dies – people will gather, will collect money and take a body for cremation without any questions. In my opinion, present times are far better than so-called Satya yuga.
Q: That’s because the basic necessities are provided?
Guruji: Yes, they are. The sense of sharing is much more common and developed. Otherwise we will not have so many bhandaras where people are distributing food. Most of the religious organizations started to distribute food.
Q: You obviously heard about universal income theory: people came up with the idea of division of capital – so people could stop working. Equal universal income is a thing which came up from the grounds of socialism – there is no need to work, only those who are willing to work will be able to continue.
The accumulation of capital in the world is such that by paying for the basic necessities you can save a person from meaningless labor.
Guruji: The idea is taking shape… I’m saying – decentralization. End of the business empire. If you don’t have to worry about kitchen money – than it opens great opportunities; we will learn about capabilities, the capacities of the creative human mind. The art, the poetry – so many things could be explored.
Q: If you stop just fighting for survival – then you can produce so much…
Guruji: You can relax and think… We don’t know what miracles we can discover then.
Q: Perhaps it’s very much against the interests of capitalism, isn’t it?
Guruji: And against the monarchy system, yes. Capitalism is just the shadow of monarchy. As an unemployed person I like this idea of universal income – it works.
I was told by snake charmers that a two-headed snake, dumai, is considered very auspicious. If you see it on Diwali – it brings prosperity in your surroundings. They say that dumai was a highly poisonous snake. When raja Parikshit was cursed by the king of the snakes, Takshak, the Royal serpent sent one dumai to bite Raja. As the snake was entering through the chimney to the kitchen, some food accidentally fell into the snake’s mouth, and it said: “Now I have eaten his food – I will not bite him.” So the snake returned back, and Takshak went to bite Raja himself. I’ve never heard of somebody who was bitten by dumai. They lost their poison.
TODAY’S FEARS AND HOPES
Q: Many people are dying now of COVID, and from some of the practitioners I’ve heard: “Oh, it was their souls’ choice.”
Does the soul have the choice at all – to die or not?
Guruji: The choice is: when you sit down in padmasana, go to pranayama, open your aperture of Brahma and then you leave your body; then it’s a choice.
Q: So – are people dying because of their karmas? Or do they die because of horrific disease?
Guruji: Ultimately it will all go down to karma. Collective karmas will bring collective deaths.
Q: Is individual karma captured and pulled by the collective karma?
Guruji: Yes, you’re a part of the big collective egregore. You’re not living alone, you can’t stay away from society.
Q: So the karma of society is becoming stronger than your karma, isn’t? Pulls you under the train?
Guruji: We depend on society for most things – so the collective karma of society is going to affect any individual. If you’re absolutely self-sustained, living somewhere in the jungle like Tarzan or Robinson Crusoe – only then your individual karma will have a stronger effect. Otherwise collective karmas will always be more overpowering than the individual karmas.
Q: Nowadays there are people who have the fake sense of security; they think and say: “Oh, I’m practicing, I’m in the shining armor of yoga Sadhana or buddhist practice or I am protected by my prayers – so nothing will touch me; others will die because it is their destiny.”
Guruji: I don’t support this sentiment. It also comes with a sense of a false superiority: I’m better off than other people, because I’m practicing this or that thing. We must have a wider perspective. The real spiritual person will say: whatever will be happening – I will face it.
Q: Maybe all these theories which people massage into each other’s heads are also an attempt to feel more secure by understanding the root of the problem?
Guruji: Yes. They are just trying to smooth their own fears. This is a hard time – and instead of feeling superior we must feel sympathetic, compassionate; and if the situation is calling for it – be ready to help anybody.
Q: A lot of fears are connected with theories that world elites are trying to reduce the population of the planet. There are a lot of rumors, conspiracy theories, about Bill Gates and his foundation which has been promoting vaccinations for years, and this and that… Some people brush it aside, some people say – it’s certainly truth, what to make of it…?
Guruji: From a hardcore Indian businessman’s point of view – and I’ve observed such businessmen for a very long time – they will never try to reduce population. Population means cheap labor and customers. I don’t agree with this theory that someone is trying to depopulate the Earth. Not because of the resources or threat to nature – nobody cares for nature. But people and organizations have started to care for it now. Cheap labor and customers will always be needed for the business. Population can’t be reduced…
Q: They care about the planet so much because they want to save resources – and for saving resources they want to cut down the population, right?
Guruji: Saving resources for whom?
Q: For themselves. And some servants and stuff.
Guruji: I think this theory is taken too far: rich may be selfish people – but they are very smart also; they would never arrange such a situation.
Q: So do you think this theory is rubbish?
Guruji: I don’t believe in it. No laborers, no workers, no customers: then who are you?
Q: A certain number of laborers will stay, a certain number of customers will stay…
Guruji: But businessmen don’t need to limit the number of their customers. They need many consumers to grow, to expand. All these conspiracy theories are the cases when confused people are actually speaking out their own mindsets. They would have done these things (depopulation) themselves if they would have a say in this situation. Why else are they coming up with all these scenarios?
Q: Would they do that themselves?!
Guruji: If you just take one simple man, not penalize him, and assure him that nothing will harm him – he will become the most vicious person in no time. Fear keeps us disciplined. Fear of the system, fear of punishment.
Q: Why are these theories so eagerly embraced? The notion that there is some evil out there?
Guruji: I just told you: every religion, every organization is always predicting, prophesying the doomsday, the end of the world, Apocalypse; all the bad things, famine, earthquakes… Nobody predicts good things for human beings or Earth.
This is the real tragedy. I see very good people, bad people, a mix of people. Otherwise human civilization would have ended a long time ago – if every single person was a villain and everybody was extremely selfish – then society would never survive. When I was moving around, I came across mostly good people – otherwise it would be impossible for me to survive. Even beggars were ready to share their food.
Q: Such an elaborate plan of destruction would inevitably collapse, because everything which could go wrong usually goes wrong when implemented on the mass scale, wouldn’t it?
Guruji: All the comics and all the Hollywood and Bollywood movies tell us: no matter how strong the villain is – good always wins.
So we have hope. We are waiting to see who is a hero now.
I don’t agree with these conspiracy theories of depopulation. Computers need people, high-tech technology needs people, coal mining needs people – what would a computer do then? A person, a helper or laborer will always be needed.
Q: Maybe the robots will be there?
Guruji: Till then – the laborers will be required. I think, more people – more prosperity.
I look at my worker Shyam: he has 4-5 sons. Before he was alone, he was only one humble man in hard circumstances. Now, his sons begin to earn, even the grandsons are earning – so it is a strong family now; the fifth generation is born.
Q: Speaking of overpopulated countries – let’s take India: there is no access for health care now and people are dying by the hundreds right now.
Guruji: Mostly in metropolitan cities, big cities.
Q: In some villages certain castes have no access to medical care.
Guruji: It’s fine – we were surviving without hospitals for thousands of years. You will see ancient castles, forts, pyramids, – but I’ve never heard of somebody discovering a 2000-year-old hospital or 3000-year-old hospital. People were doing very well without it. That’s why survival of the fittest took place.
Q: So it does not sound as a problem that many people on the planet are dying right now?
Guruji: I will say – when it becomes too much, too overloading population-wise – then Earth will decide. Human beings are not capable enough to make a decision on their population or the population of Earth.
Q: Because of the pandemic the birth rate will decrease automatically: they say it’s already down for some time.
Q: Is it reducing because of the situation – disease or maybe war?
Guruji: Maybe because of some other reasons. Nature will take care of it.
Not that I’m believing in Bill Gates conspiracy theory – I believe in what was quoted in “Godfather”: behind every great fortune there is a crime. What type of crime is another question – but it definitely excludes the depopulation of the Earth. It is bad for business.
Q: Some people are extremely good at collecting bitcoins now. The smartest will survive, won’t they?
Guruji: The smartest will survive – but suppose if something happens with the internet, then where will bitcoins go?
Guruji: I’ve been saying it for more than 20 years: once only silver and gold were real money. Then it was turned into plastic and we were given pieces of paper. Nowadays it’s just a number on your mobile’s display screen or on your computer – and some day some button will be pushed and the money will disappear. Then what you have at hand – gold, real estate, land – will remain, and only that will help you.
Q: The depopulation of the country, which is happening now due to Covid, is not working in favor of political leaders, is it?
Guruji: This conspiracy theory doesn’t work. I don’t think people are that low-minded as to kill everybody. It does not work for a businessman: he will always need customers and workers. If you’re rich and there is no poor person looking up to you in jealousy – you have nobody to gloat over, so what is the use of becoming rich if there is nobody to admire you?
QUESTIONS FROM THE DISCIPLES
Q: What is the memory to the jiva, to the atma? Why do some seemingly meaningless and random memories persist for a long period of time? Why do they keep returning?
Guruji: Every memory represents a certain experience, so they will always remain in your record bank. The main thing is to keep them there, but do not always remember them. The more you try to shoo them away, the stronger they will become – and they will continue to come back. They are part of your being: accept it.
Q: When we experience the bliss of yogic practice and it reaches our dissatisfied mind – how do we rectify the experience with equanimity? Do we say: “I’m not interested in this bliss, in this satisfaction”? Do I have to ignore it?
Guruji: You don’t have to ignore it – simply accept it. Instead of creating a show out of it – accept it. If you keep practicing – bliss will come. So accept it. Satisfaction is a real bliss.
Q: When Krishna speaks about liberating ourselves from the folly of delight – how do we make sense of delight we feel for our Guru, for his teachings, for his blessings, his path and the fruits of his path?
Guruji: Krishna said a much deeper thing: if you are feeling delightful and experiencing delight – you may neglect some of your duties or your practice or devotion to the Guru – it may be affected. So feel delighted, but keep doing what you were doing: the delight came because of that Sadhana. You may lose your concentration because of delight. I have seen many people who concentrate more on pleasure of the sensations of the practice and then become frustrated – because the delight is coming to them first, and then it is no more. Finally nothing is left for them to enjoy. To remain delightful one needs to keep practicing, it is the practice which is providing you with this delight.
Q: Sometimes you reveal your own difficult emotions on the path; is it only for our encouragement?
Or people like you – which are not so many – do they also continue to suffer from certain negative emotions? Is it a part of being great?
Guruji: Emotions will always remain: positive and negative will always remain. But when your mind is developed – you are able to tolerate these things. We call it spiritual maturity, it comes with time.
Q: What is the true purpose and nature of a sin? Is it’s origin deeper than shame?
Guruji: If you have been caught committing a sin – then you will feel shame. If nobody catches you – you can go on, smiling knowingly, that nobody knows about it.
Q: But on a deeper level: the sinful deeds – what is the origin of them?
Guruji: Mostly it’s social or religious taboos. But I will say that old sinners are much wiser than innocent people. Reformed old sinner.
Q: Does shame exist for old sinners?
Guruji: Only if he is caught. Otherwise no. Because he’s wise now.
Q: How do we know the difference between our purpose or life karma and something we simply want for ourselves? How do we know: “This is my path and that is the thing I simply want”?
Guruji: What’s the problem in accepting – this is my own thing? First you decide: if it comes to you, you don’t even make a decision. You start your journey or you are seeking something and exploring – and along the way you will find people who will give you guidance.
But it is you who will continue to brave the path. And satisfaction will be all yours when you reach your purpose. When you have realized your purpose – only then you will experience real concentration for the first time. Then the whole life, all karma will be focused on fulfilling your purpose. Half the battle is won when you realize your purpose: be ambitious to fulfill it.
Q: This is my purpose and this is the thing which I like very much, and it’s standing outside of my path…
Guruji: If you need to debate on this – that means that the purpose is not there, it’s a cultivated purpose. A heart filled purpose will make you ignore everything else. Your greatest desire is to fulfill it.
Q: What is the mechanism behind Time speeding up and slowing down in our experience of Time? What’s behind the phenomenon of slow and fast?
Guruji: Only your feelings.
Q: Why are we drawn to some devas or devis more than others? What might this tell us about our development?
Guruji: I think it goes back to the genetic code: maybe sometime back someone in your lineage was aware of those devas and may have seen them; so it’s imprinted on your genetic code. This is why in India we call them Kula devata, the family god – because it is embedded in our genetic system, and we will naturally be drawn towards it.
Q: What about certain interfaith incarnations? I was a muslim in the last past life – now, born as a Christian, I am a Hindu at heart?
Guruji: I think all these religions are just a type of societal groups. Most of the religions are teaching good things, whatever I’ve read about almost every religion. You do good – and you get a better incarnation. You learn something more, and then you are getting evolved, getting better; it is a situational incarnation.
Q: Out of the chain of incarnations, when I was jewish rabbi or a muslim woman or a Christian farmer: why in this life am I choosing that particular development?
Guruji: Because you became mature enough by going through all these incarnations to actually understand what’s happening now. It is ultimately the development of the mind, which matters. And you have to go through many schools and many classes to reach a certain level of maturity, to develop awareness.
Q: What more can we do for our externalizing nature when internalizing towards the Time and the Void?
Guruji: Stop trying to do that – and it will cоme one day. The more you will remain focused on it – the bigger it grows out of proportion. So just keep doing your yoga practice and forget about deep changes: they will come automatically, as a result of your yoga practice. I will give you an example: when you were learning to ride a bicycle when you were a child, and somehow you went on the road for the first time proudly – yes, I am bicycling away! – and there was a stone in the center of the road.
There is enough space to ride beside it – but your bicycle will be pulled by that stone, because you will be focusing only on that stone. Then you will become wiser, you’ll keep riding by such stones on the way. Stones on the path will be just a part of the road, of life, so – learn from this example.