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Integral Yoga Teachings

It’s All in the Motive

Question: How can you tell whether you are helping or harming someone before an act is committed?

Karma YogaSri Gurudev: If you think about it well, you will always know. You know the purpose behind what you’re doing. Remember the definition of a perfect act is: An action done to bring at least some benefit to somebody and no harm to anybody. When I say no harm to anybody, I include the person who performs the act. You should harm neither yourself nor the other person. So no harm anywhere, but at least a little benefit to somebody. The ultimate result should be harmless. Sometimes in between it may appear to be a little harmful. For instance, a doctor operates on an abscess and brings a little pain to the patient. It looks like a harmful act at first. But the motive is for the benefit of the patient. So know the ultimate outcome. It’s all in the motive. You should be clear about your motive. Your conscience will tell you that.

Be Actively Peaceful

Question: Is there any way to become socially active (protesting nuclear power, war, etc.) and be yogic about it?

Sri Gurudev: Only when you remain tranquil, only when you are a good yogi with a well-balanced mind will you be a super social person. Otherwise the so-called social activity will not really bring much result. On the other hand it might add more to the existing chaos. What you call social activity is what we call Karma Yoga. A yogi should always do everything possible for the benefit of humanity. If you are a good yogi, and if you want to show your disapproval over certain things, you will show it in a passive way. You can be actively peaceful. You will never begin a peace march and end up with a fight! Many of these resistances ultimately end up with violence because some people don’t have the stability. They don’t have the confidence, the total faith in a higher power.

God it TruthIndia got complete freedom from a very powerful regime with total passive resistance. Mahatma Gandhi paved the way for that. He didn’t believe in arms. If India had resorted to arms, it would never have attained freedom because you can’t fight with a much more powerful people. But with your soul power, you can fight even the so-called super powers who rely on the physical power. A yogi believes in that soul power. He would not even raise his arm to carry arms or to fight. Even when you raise your arm and punch another man’s face you have used an arm, is it not so? Real passive resistance means having total faith in that super power which is God, or the soul power which is your Atman (true Self). Trusting in that you remain peaceful.

In fact, in India when the policemen came to assault the non-violent people who were exhibiting their disapproval they used their small clubs. Every time they would hit a volunteer, the volunteer would bow down and say “Ram.” Certainly he felt the pain, but if it was more pain he would cry more to Ram. If there was a little time in between the beatings he would look up and say, “All right, you are doing your job; do it well. You are paid for it. You are an agent. I have no grudge against you. Do it. I believe in God.” There are monuments to such great heroes in India now. That is what you call trust in your power. If instead, the minute they come and even shout at you, you shout back “You pig!” what is it you are trusting there? You forgot the God within you. You resorted to your own physical approach. That’s why many protests fail because we don’t totally believe in that higher force. We seem to begin with that but very soon we forget it. If you are a yogi, until the very last minute you will trust that.

Our Real Nature

Question: Why has man gotten so far from God?

Sri Gurudev: He’s not far away from God. God is right there. In fact the man himself is God. It’s not that he’s gone anywhere; he has simply forgotten. He forgot his true nature, mistook himself for the temporary form and said, “I am a man.”

Sleeping childrenWhat makes you a man? Suppose a doctor injects you with hormones, performs an operation, and you walk out of the hospital as a woman. There were just a few changes made; now you’re a woman. What made you a man? Just a physical body, you will think you’re a man, a woman. That is wrong thinking. You are really God. It’s this wrong identification which is the basic sin – forgetting one’s own true nature. It is that ignorance which puts us in darkness.

Imagine a king goes out hunting with all his richly dressed court. After a time of strenuous riding, he stops, lies down under a tree and goes to sleep. In a few minutes he begins to dream, and in that dream he is a beggar. This beggar goes from door to door for a little food. He’s so hungry and cold, but no one will feed him. One tough fellow comes out of his house and says, “You are a physically fit man. Why can’t you go to work? You lazy bum!” And he gives the beggar a number of heavy kicks. As the beggar cries out from the pain, he wakes up and – as the king – opens his eyes and sees his retinue politely waiting for him to wake up. “Your Excellency, Your Highness! Is there anything we can do?”He simply laughs at the dream and jumps up to join the hunt once again.

In a way, we are all sleeping. In sleep we forget the truth. We dream we are this, we are that. It’s a long sleep and a long dream. Somebody should come and give us a nice kick to wake us up. Otherwise we will just go door to door begging. That sudden shock or kick should come in the form of enlightenment. When you get that kick, you realize God, your Self. The scriptures say, “God made man in His own image.” And the scriptures say that God is omnipresent. If God is omnipresent, is He not present in you? So you are God. Everything is God. Even to say that God is “in you” is not correct. He is you. So the only mistake is that we have forgotten that, we are dreaming. We have to wake up.

(from the IYTA Newsletter, May 2010)