sri m

This was the first day of the fortnight I spent with him. I had so many questions to ask and so many doubts to clear. I didn’t know when again I would get such an opportunity.

And we began.

M: Sir, I have studied Vedanta for many years. When I began, I thought I understood everything, but as years passed and I went deeper into the subject, I began to realise how little I had grasped. There are so many questions that have remained unclear.

First, unravel the mystery of knowledge itself, since this very path of the seeker is known as the path of knowledge, jnana marga. I am as confused as many by the statement made in the Isha Upanishad:

Andham tamah pravisanti ye vidyam upasate

tato bhuya iva te tamo ya u vidyayam tatah.

(They who worship ignorance enter into darkness And they who worship knowledge enter into greater darkness.)

The first part is clear. We have always been taught from childhood that ignorance is to be overcome by acquiring knowledge. So, it is quite baffling to hear the rishi say that, to worship knowledge is to enter into greater darkness. How can this be? If both ignorance and knowledge lead to darkness, is there something beyond both knowledge and ignorance? If even knowledge leads to darkness, what is it that one can reach which is beyond both knowledge and ignorance?

{please follow the answer from Master in next post}

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yogananda

Friendship

Just as dew helps the flower to grow, so inner and outer sweetness fosters the growth of friendship.

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To be a true, unconditional friend, your love must be anchored in God’s love. Your life with God is the inspiration behind true divine friendship with all.

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Try to perfect your friendship with a few souls. When you can truly give unconditional friendship to them, then your heart will be ready to give perfect friendship to all. And when you can do that, you become divine—like God and the great ones, who give friendship to every being, irrespective of personality. Friendship that remains centered on only one or two souls, to the exclusion of others, is like a river that loses itself in the sands, never reaching the ocean.

The river of divine friendship broadens as it flows onward, powerful and truthful, eventually merging in the oceanic presence of God.

As I radiate love and goodwill to others, I will open the channel for God’s love to come to me. Divine love is the magnet that draws to me all good.

sri m

It was a chill Himalayan night. We sat facing each other on a large flat boulder in front of the cave. Around us, the silvery, snowclad ranges glowed in celestial light. In spite of the crackling fire we had earlier set ablaze and the thick blankets wrapped around me, I was shivering when the icy wind blew across my face. My guru presented an utter contrast to my swaddled and cocooned form; he sat there bare-bodied save for the single knee-length cotton loin-cloth tied around his waist. He had, I learnt later, mastered the yogic technique of adjusting his body temperature by the practice of what the Tibetan yogis call tumo. He appeared very comfortable on the folded woollen blanket. Sitting in padmasana (lotus posture), he looked at me with a kind and beatific smile.

“Relax,” he said. “There’s nothing to fear. Be comfortable.” I don’t know what happened then. His words acted as magic on me; my tired body, hauled all the way up the almost inaccessible peak, was miraculously revived. My aching muscles no longer ached; my blistered feet tortured me no more; even the wind seemed to stop its needle-pricks. A soothing warmth flowed from him to me and permeated my whole body. I suddenly found that I was not hungry anymore, though I hadn’t eaten for three days and had been ravenous till then. I was once again steady of body and mind; I became alert with an acuteness I never knew I had possessed before.

yogananda

Friendship

Help your friend by being a mental, aesthetic, and spiritual inspiration to him. Never be sarcastic to a friend Do not flatter him unless it is to encourage him. Do not agree with him when he is wrong.

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Be true, be sincere, and friendship will steadily grow. I remember a discussion with Sri Yukteswar about sincerity. I had said, “Sincerity is everything.”

“No,” he responded, “sincerity is plus thoughtfulness is everything.” He went on: “Suppose you are sitting in the parlor in your home, and there is a beautiful new carpet on the floor. It is raining outside. A friend you haven’t seen in many years flings open the door nad rushes into the room to greet you.”

“That is all right,” I said. But my Guru had yet to make his point.

“You were sincerely happy to see each other,” he said, “but wouldn’t you have liked it better if he had been thoughtful enough to take off his muddy boots before he came in and ruined the carpet?”

I had to agree he was right.

No matter how well you think of someone, or how close you are to that person, it is important to sweeten that relationship with good manners and thoughtfulness. Then friendship becomes truly wonderful and enduring. Familiarity that leads you to be inconsiderate is very harmful to friendship.

sri m

An interesting aspect of this conversation is that it was not recorded mechanically or manually at the time of its occurrence. It was not due to M’s lapse or lack of eagerness, especially as he was sceptical about his, as he thought, too fallible a memory. His Master dissuaded him from such an attempt; he said that this was unnecessary. He assured M of a total recall at the right time, though what that ‘right time’ was left unclear.

A few years later, M was working as a journalist in the Andamans. Often the afternoon time lay heavily on his hands and he decided to test his ability for total recall. He won—rather, his Master did not fail him. To his amazement and delight, the entire dialogue began to unspool, and words flowed as if he was engaged in automatic writing on the papers in front of him. It is hoped that the result—a permanent record of the dialectical exchange—will clear some of the doubts of the readers as it did that of M himself.

yogananda

Friendship

No matter what difference of opinion there is between you and such friends, there is always understanding and communication. In that relationship, regardless of differing views, you have mutual respect and cherish your friendship above everything else. True friendship established in God is the only relationship that is lasting.

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If you proffer friendship, you must mean it. You must not show kindness or cooperation outside, and inside feel the opposite. Spiritual law is very powerful. Don’t go against spiritual principles. Never deceive or be treacherous. As a friend, know when to mind your own business, understand your place; know when you should have the willingness to cooperate, and when you should have the will to non-cooperate.

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It is wrong to speak the truth when, by doing so, one betrays another person unnecessarily and to no good purpose. Suppose a man drinks, but tries to hide it from the rest of the world. You know about his weakness, and so in the name of truthfulness you announce to your friends, “You know that so and so drinks don’t you?” Such a remark is uncalled for; one should not be busy about other people’s business. Be protective about others’ personal faults, so long as they harm no one else. Speak privately to an offender about his failings, if you have an opportunity or responsibility to help him; but never, under pretext of helping someone, speak deliberately to hurt him. You will only “help” him to become your enemy. You may also extinguish any desire that he might have had to become better.

sri m

Though M came across many saints and sages who helped him in their own way during his years of extensive wanderings as a spiritual seeker, he never regarded any of them, albeit his respect for them, as his guru. He knew he would have no guru other than the Master (as M calls him) whom he had seen, as it were in a vision in his childhood, and who had promised to be M’s spiritual mentor. However, M did not deliberately seek him out, confident that his Master would meet him at the appropriate time. In the event, not only did he meet him many times, but once, on their third encounter, they spent a fortnight together in a cave at Kedarnath. This stay turned out to be a watershed in M’s life; the course his life took from then on changed and led him where he is now.

The following chapter is a recollected transcript of the dialogue between the Master and M. The latter asserts that many of his doubts were cleared by these sessions of questions and answers stretching over the length of his stay. To reproduce it in the same format is warranted by a noble tradition—a tradition by which most religious literature of the world (the Bhagavad Gita to name but one) is handed down in the form of catechisms, prashnottara. An advantage of this method is that, as a form of communication, it is far superior to a discourse. In this method, the teacher answers questions from an earnest student rather than haranguing a medley of captive students with different degrees of interest in the subject. Hopefully the spirit of the dialogue informs this reproduction.