“This above all: to thine own self be true.
And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” —William Shakespeare
If you have a poor opinion about yourself certainly it will affect your heart, your mind, your personality. What you think you will ultimately become. If you think that you are a negative person, you don’t need any other negativity coming from anywhere else to make that true; you are making yourself negative, negating yourself.
When this happens you have to analyze it. “Are these thoughts good for me? Is it helpful for me to have these thoughts? Is it constructive or destructive? If my thoughts are negative, what will I become?” When you realize the negative effect you won’t even want to think that way anymore.
But people don’t think seriously about the effect thoughts have on them. Even if you are not negative about yourself, if you have negative thoughts about others it will affect you negatively. If you hate somebody, you are ruining your life by your hatred. It’s not only charity that begins at home. Even hatred begins at home. The people who hate others will be filled with hatred themselves. If you are angry with another person, before your anger affects that person, it will have affected you. For example, think of a gun and imagine shooting at a target. Before the bullet goes out and hits the target, it has heated up the barrel. So the gun itself got affected first. There is a backfire in a way. Likewise every thought that comes from your mind—even before it leaves the mind—can ruin you or improve you.
“Happiness is not be sought outside.
It can never come from outside or from inside–because it simply is.
It is always. Where? Everywhere.” – Swami Satchidananda
How does one find self-love? Love yourself. Think, “I am God’s child. God has given me all these gifts. I love myself because God is functioning through me.”
Even if you have some problems, still you shouldn’t think that God doesn’t love you. That’s where we see karma at work. You must have done something before, now the result has come. “God is merciful, so He is purging my karma by having me go through this.” Just as a doctor has to operate in certain cases, so God operates on us when necessary. In the case of the doctor, we at least know exactly what happened. But with karma, we have probably forgotten. Still, there must be a cause because nothing happens without a cause. So when you think of all these things, remember: “Yes, God loves me. I am the dear, dear child of God.” Think of all the gifts that God has given and you will learn to love God. By loving God you will also love yourself.
Question: Sri Gurudev, how do we stop self-judgment?
Sri Gurudev: Why should we stop self-judgment? You have to judge yourself. You need to analyze and think, “How am I doing? Am I doing right or wrong? How is my mind? Is it I doing? Am I doing right or wrong? How is my mind? Is it selfish or not?” There’s nothing wrong in this kind of self-judgment or self-analysis. We need to do it.
It’s better to judge yourself than to judge others. You should not judge others without first judging yourself. You have to make sure that you are a good judge. Who will be a good judge? Will it be the one who is the relative of the plaintiff or the close friend of the defendant? No, it will be the neutral person. That’s why in many courts, over the head of the judge hangs the picture of justice—balance. That means a judge is a yogi, a neutral person. Such a person should judge himself or herself, “Am I neutral? Or am I leaning to this side or that side?” If you are already leaning to one side you have no right to judge anybody else because you are not on the neutral level. A balance that’s not in the neutral position can not give the correct weight. You have to bring it to zero first to get the exact weight. Every morning you stand on a scale in the bathroom. If the pointer is not on zero, can you get the right weight? Can you judge your weight correctly? No. You have to set it to zero. In the same way, your mind should be set at zero, not leaning this way or that way. You cannot be prejudiced. That’s a good judge. So you have every right to judge yourself and see if you are maintaining yourself in the neutral position. Until that time don’t try to judge anybody else because your judgment will go wrong.
Feel that Presence
Question: Why do we want so much to be loved? Why aren’t we content just to love others? Why do we fear rejection? Why do we crave emotional comfort? Why do we want others to care about us?
Sri Gurudev: We want these things when we still have not realized that there is Somebody in us always who is caring for us every minute, who loves us every minute. If you realized that you wouldn’t need somebody else to love you. The more you look for somebody else to love you, the more difficult it will be to get that love.
Even rejection is a helpful thing because, ultimately, it will make you turn inward and say, “Nobody seems to be loving me. God, You are the only one to love me.” If others love you, you may forget God also, saying, “God, I am happy with that person. I don’t need to worry about You now.” But when everything fails, you turn to God.
God really loves you, and that seems to be the very reason why God doesn’t want you to go looking for love from anywhere else. God is helping you to turn totally toward Him. If we feel that presence in us why do we need any other comfort? The best Comforter is inside. All other kinds of comfort are temporary. They come, and they will go. Outside things and people are never going to make you always happy. It’s that way so that one day you will know there is Something inside always.
If the world could make people happy, there wouldn’t be any churches, synagogues or spiritual centers. Nobody would read the holy scriptures. Why? Because the money made you happy, the friends made you happy. Why would you need anything else then? So to turn to God, all other things should make you unhappy.
I’m sorry; it’s a little hard-hearted to say this. But everything must deceive you ultimately and hit you hard so that you can turn back to God. That’s what will happen to a sincere seeker. That’s God’s Will. God says to us, “You want to trust Me totally. If you do that, I will give you everything, all happiness. Why go running after little, little things when I can give you everything?” If God can’t stop you from running after everything He allows you to go learn for yourself. “Okay. Go, get hit. Then come back to Me.”
Until that is felt inside, this kind of disappointment will keep on happening, and the more it happens the more you should be happy.”Ah, yes, God is helping me to turn within soon.”
When people are not ready to realize God they will be tempted to go out searching for happiness, and they will be given piecemeal happiness here and there. When people find a lot of pleasure outside in the world, it shows that God is not in a hurry to get them. If God is in a hurry to get you, He will make you displeased with everything outside very soon. That’s why in the life histories of all the saints, the minute they became conscious of God, they got into all kinds of problems, all kinds of troubles. Suffering after suffering came to them. Why? God said, “Ah, you really want Me; you should come quickly to Me. I will make everybody and everything hit you fast so that you can come to Me soon.”
Imagine I have a dog that always runs away and goes into the neighbors’ houses. What should I do? I can say to the neighbors, “Any time my dog comes into your house, hit him.” If the neighbors do that, where will the dog go? Back to me. On the other hand if they give him nice treats and cookies, the dog will be tempted to leave my house and go there again and again. That is exactly what has happened with God. He has told all the neighbors (the worldly things), “hit her. Hit him. Let this child come back to me soon. Don’t tempt this one with your cookies.” That is the proof that God is interested in getting you all for Himself.
(by Swami Satchidananda, from the November 2009 IYTA Newsletter)