When one is sitting in a boat it is alright when the boat is in water. But what if there is water inside the boat? Similarly, one may go anywhere in the world, but the world should not get inside oneself. Within oneself there should be only two things – God and his realized Sadhu. Inside, one should have Pramukh Swami. This is all that is to be done. And that is true refuge.
In his prayer at Mahelav Yogiji Maharaj said, “O Shastriji Maharaj, may we always remain steadfast in the trials you put us through, and may you bless us with virtues so that we may remain at your feet.” When we are in Satsang is it so that we are at his feet? We need to introspect on this. Firm refuge means having total faith. If one has absolute faith only then is one’s refuge genuine. Till one is deficient in trust or faith, and in spite of bowing down at their feet, one’s refuge is mere ostentation. A true aspirant nourishes the feelings of what Yogiji Maharaj prayed, “May we always remain steadfast in the trials you put us through, and may you bless us with virtues so that we can remain at your feet.”
People make so much effort to achieve their worldly goals in life. Eric was a blind man who climbed Mt. Everest. First he resolved to scale Mt. Everest, then he practiced, and finally he succeeded. He put in incredible effort. I had read of a mountain climber who practiced by hanging on his finger placed in a hole on a mountain for three hours. He did this because if he slipped in the Himalayas, he could hold on and survive with his finger firmly attached to the crevice. Why so much effort? Because he knew that climbing the Himalayas was not small play. So he put himself through immense rigours and tests.
The reason why Yogiji Maharaj discoursed about tolerating difficulties was that we have to reach all the way to Akshardham. Sometimes God tests us. Bhagwan Swaminarayan resided in Dada Khachar’s darbar for 25 years. At one time there was not a single grain of food left in Dada’s house. Still Dada Khachar did not flinch in his faith and neither did he complain to Shriji Maharaj. Some devotees informed Maharaj, and Dada stood humbly before him asking for more trials!
Like Dada Khachar did, we would not pray for tests to come our way, but at least when they do come we should not evade them. In fact, we should remain strong, be patient and cultivate a conviction that whatever God does is for our good. But we often reason, to the contrary, how others will see us and think about us. But let them think and say whatever they want. We should think only about what God will say to us. Either we please God, or others. We will not be able to please both.
To please God and his realized Sadhu we have to bear the trials that come our way. Yogiji Maharaj revealed another way to please God and the Satpurush: it is called suhradaybhav – the spirit of friendship. In his prayer at Mahelav Yogiji Maharaj said, “O Shastriji Maharaj may we maintain suhradaybhav with your devotees.” Yogiji Maharaj repeatedly said this for over twenty years. Not a single day passed without him uttering this. It was Yogiji Maharaj, a great person, who said this. Shastriji Maharaj praised him, saying, “There is no sadhu like Jogi (Yogiji Maharaj) in countless universes. Vyasji has written about the 64 virtues of a true Sadhu. If Vyasji had forgotten to write any other virtues one would find them in Jogi.” Before his earthly departure Shastriji Maharaj said, “Yogi is me, and I am Yogi.”
So, such an esteemed person like Yogiji Maharaj had given us this wisdom. He was not an ordinary sadhu, but one who was a guide and master of brahmavidya. In colleges we find professors who are chartered accountants and have PhDs, and doctors who have FRCS degrees. Similarly, Yogiji Maharaj was a master in the subject of brahmavidya. He was not merely a professor of brahmavidya, but one who had realized it. He was Brahman himself! These were his words. One should understand their importance and abide by them in one’s sadhana.
On the spiritual path we see how aspirants endeavour in so many ways to attain God. A devotee in Mumbai performed various sadhanas out of keen interest. Once on hearing of another sadhana he went to Assam to learn it. On returning, he described his experience saying that he was shut up in a dark room for fifteen days. Only a dish of food was provided daily at appropriate times. He was prohibited to come out at all and was told to simply meditate inside. At the end of it he got so fed up that he realized that there is nothing greater than Satsang.
There is sadhana in Satsang too. Yogiji Maharaj showed it to be suhradaybhav towards God’s devotees, and not to find faults in sadhus and devotees. Some find this command of not seeing others’ faults as a type of punishment. But it is not so, it is a sadhana. Just try it. You will realize the devotees’ greatness (mahima).
Yogiji Maharaj once revealed that in his 50 years of satsang he had never perceived faults in anyone. Even if someone was naïve and a moron he had never found fault in him. These words of his reflect the spiritual height he had attained. He did not live as a recluse in a jungle, nor in seclusion, but in the midst of thousands of people. Hundreds of people met him daily with questions and problems. Some even confessed their moral failings to him and asked him for atonements. Despite all this Yogiji Maharaj never viewed them as sinful and faulty. This is truly astonishing. And in our case, we get mired in taking faults of others by merely hearsay. We then falsely brand someone, and whoever we meet we describe their faults. This is a wrong sadhana! It is human nature to do what one is not supposed to practice as one’s sadhana, and to disregard or reject what one is supposed to do.
The emphasis on not finding faults is not so in other sampradayas and shastras as much as it is in Satsang. Bhagwan Swaminarayan has stressed strongly in 60 Vachanamruts about not taking faults of others. He says that he got irritated upon anyone who came to talk of a sadhu’s or a devotee’s faults. He sometimes ignored, disrespected and even reproached the informer.
When someone tells us to meditate in solitude for one hour, we can understand that to be sadhana. But not seeing faults in others is not perceived by us to be a form of sadhana – in fact it is the greatest of all sadhanas. Perceive the greatness of others and understand their glory. Only then will one advance on the spiritual path. This is most necessary and important.
If we were to ask ourselves, “For whom do we come to Satsang? Is it for ourselves or for others? Is it for our own moksha or for that of others?” Needless to say it is clear that there is no point in seeing faults of others. Suppose that beneath an alphonso mango tree there lies a ripe mango and around it some stones, dry bones, leaves, and a little further away one sees the faeces of a dog. Our eyes register all these things, but what will we pick up? Obviously the mango. We will not rest our eyes on other things. Isn’t that right judgement between good and bad. If someone asks where we got the mango from, we would say beneath the tree. But we will not name the other things around the mango. Likewise, in Satsang, we will see both virtues (gunas) and faults (avgunas), but what should we take? Only the virtues of others.
When we see faeces, we spit on them with disgust or simply turn away. Then why do we take others’ faults that are akin to faeces? When we go to buy mangoes, do we put dog faeces in our shopping bag? Then why do we reject the virtues of others and focus upon their faults?
The human mind, like a computer, is such that on seeing the slightest fault of others it erases their virtues altogether. Then the person’s faults only are projected on the screen. Since long man has this perverse inclination. And that is why a person will always see the faults in others first. Later, whenever he remembers that person, the first thing that pops up in his mind is his or her faults. He will never see the virtues of that person. This is the biggest hindrance on the path of spiritual sadhana. In fact we should look at our own faults. Getting habituated in observing others’ faults is the biggest obstacle on the path of spiritual progress.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan says in Vachanamrut, Gadhada III 8 that the biggest obstacles on the spiritual path for a devotee are that: (1) he does not look at his own faults, (2) he mentally disassociates himself from a devotee of God and (3) he behaves in a flippant manner with devotees.
Tulsidas has revealed, “When God graces, only then does one realize one’s (inner) faults.” This means realizing our own faults and not seeing the faults of others is God’s grace. See only the virtues in others. Do not find faults. This principle will appear again and again on the path of spiritual sadhana.
A doctor states that you have a certain illness and therefore you’ll have to take this medicine and follow the prescribed diet. In so doing, you become healthy again. Similarly, seeing virtues in others is like medicine on the spiritual path. You become healthy. But when you see faults, then the medicine becomes poison. The greatest loss in seeing others’ faults is that you will be unable to realize the true form of God and the Satpurush.
When a person takes aim with a rifle he has to close one eye and squint the other. Thereafter the goal is accomplished. If both the eyes are open, the bullet will go elsewhere. Likewise, one should have the Satpurush as one’s goal and also focus on one’s own inner self. Then one will not see faults in others. Bhagatji Maharaj never focused his sight on others; he saw only Gunatitanand Swami. And thus he perceived virtues in others and never bothered about the trash.
In conclusion, let us recap. There are two chambers within everyone. In one resides God, in the other, evil. When one falls into the habit of seeing faults in others, it means that one is walking inside the chamber of evil. Thus the inner chamber of evil will remain open, and the chamber of God will remain closed. Subsequently, evil will become strong and robust. However, when one looks at others’ virtues it means one is inside the chamber of God. Then the chamber of evil will get shut. The result will be peace, and nothing but peace. There will be peace in this life and thereafter.
Which chamber would one want to keep open? After having the company of the Gunatit Satpurush do you still want to chose the chamber of evil? The choice is purely individual.