After the bus came out from the tunnel Sveti Rok, there was an exclamation of excitement and utter joy from a number of passengers, mostly young people, as the sun shown itself on the blue sky and the temperature on display marked 16°C. Dalmatia (southern part of Croatia) was quite warm compared to other parts of Croatia which was freezing at -6°C. I came back from a tour which rounded up my 15 day intense activities across Croatia, as well as Slovenia. While I am writing this, the sun is shining at me and warming the whole room and my mind is already in the ashram Shree Peetha Nilaya which I will reach in less than 24 hours. I am sure I will be bereft of this sunny December experience over there. However, the inner sun will keep on warming me there and the embrace of my spiritual family and Guruji himself.
When I came back from Vrindavan there were hundreds of messages waiting for me to go through. Many of then unpleasant as the communication between a number of devotees rapidly deteriorated to the point that no further communication was possible. The red alarm sounded and it called for an action. I called up the meeting and was happy that many of the conflicting sides agreed to show up and were ready to communicate. That was a good sign already.
The predominant theme over the past two weeks during my travels was communication. Not only in my native Croatia, but also in Slovenia where I spent five days doing workshops (Babaji Surya Namsakar, Mudra), OM Chanting, music training, puja and satsang, and many individual consultations. There also I found many conflicts brewing over many months.
It was interesting for me to compare the two temperaments, two different cultures: one fiery and explosive (Split, Croatia), and the other suppressing but deeply burning from within never knowing when it would escalate (Maribor, Slovenia).
In Split, for example, when one starts to talk and are in the middle of sentence explaining themselves, there comes five people simultaneously raising their voices, interrupting, outlouding everybody else… basically, not listening to anybody, not even to oneself. Contrary to Split, people in Maribor are reserved, ready to let the person finish their thoughts and when given the sign they are ready to express their thoughts on the matter. I was so positively shocked at that reaction and I was almost left with the feeling that the meeting we called was almost unnecessary. But the good thing, this situation gave me a lot of time to express myself (unintentionally) giving them a satsang they would never forget. And the guidance I shared with them could end up all conflicts.
The first and foremost rule I told them is to listen; listen to the other side and let them finish their thoughts. Thus you have the opportunity to hear the other side. Usually, you find there all the answers. If you truly listen and hear the other person, then you realize that the only problem you have is not with that other person but yourself. We do not listen properly and we hear only what we want to hear. Our imperfect hearing is the first cause of conflict. That would not be a problem if we stop our mind to judge the others. That is the nature of the mind and we have no power over it; neither we have power over others and many people desire that.
I often say, if you start to change yourself, then the completely new perspective will reveal itself to you, so that the others will start to appear differently to you, and perhaps they may start to change inspired by you.
But most people do not want to change anyways, so what is the point in wanting to change others who do not want that. You yourself need to change and that is all that matters. There is a saying: change yourself and you will change thousands. That is very true and you can see that in many great ones in history of mankind. And people say it is difficult. I say, ‘No, it is not’. It is very simple. Why? Because God is the indweller of our hearts. He is the Perfection Incarnate. If we but tap that source of Eternal Love that is dormant in ourselves we would find out that the Illusion that covered our inner vision has no power over us anymore and that there is perfection everywhere. We do not need to change, but realize that we are gods (Psalms 82:6, King James Version, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.).
My experience is when I have a situation with somebody I let the other side speak. I do not force my view on the other person. When you are open to listen to others, people are happy to speak up. And when people are open then they reveal much more than our minds could conceive just by observing the outside reality which we know is full of imperfections and illusion. And then you get the completely different perspective. When somebody gives you their heart how can you mercilessly step on it with full power, as it always happen? If you understand and live by the fact that God and Gurudev are inside that person and their temporary behavior is caused by blindness and ignorance and the power of illusion caused by maha maya (or Satan in Christianity), then how can you judge? How can you judge when you yourself are in the same pit of miseries? We all try to swim out of the turbulent waters of this false reality.
What would you do?
When I was in Zagreb, after OM Chanting, an elderly gentleman asked a question. I gave him my answer but that answer lead to another topic. When I asked him if he believed God existed, he denied it. Then I tried something else: I asked him if he ever loved and His answer was no, not even his son and wife, or parents. He said he could not remember that he ever loved anyone in his love. He feels very miserable and he even said he wanted to commit suicide but is a coward, has no power to do it. It was a tough to speak about God or love if he says that he never felt or received it. I got a very hard case do deal with. I knew that whatever I say could not help him as others tried to give him many pieces of advice. He could not listen to them no matter how wise and deep advices were. So people started to lose their patience and time and began to leave the room. I left with him listening to his story asking him questions trying to find out if there is somehow I could help him. He has no joy in his life. He tried many techniques, meditations, etc, so nothing worked out. All those only deepened his misery. If he cannot give or receive love that is a very tough situation. If he has no hope in believing in existence of some high power, or God, that makes it even more difficult. I offered him some money for food, as he said that he has no money left even for bread – even that did not help much.
But the more I listened to him with deep attention, the more I cared about him, the more questions I asked him, the more he was willing to open up and share. He felt he could trust and confide in me. That was a first step. When he saw that somebody cares, not superficially, but truly, he was ready to open up. He even asked about Simply Meditation and asked whether he could learn it. Then I saw that there was a hope for him, as there is a hope for anyone.
Similar situation happened with one devotee I had spoken to recently. She was feeling no love anymore for Bhakti Marga family, Guruji and this path. She stopped with her sadhana for a long time. And also she had no willingness to serve in any capacity, as she did not feel it inside. She was empty and frustrated. Her life had no sense.
That is why I always encourage devotees to devote themselves to any spiritual practice.
That will be their pillar of support during the hard times. Everybody is passing through, so called, dry periods in their spiritual path, when they feel no love for God or joy in doing their sadhana and seva. That is completely normal. But without sadhana, most people leave the spiritual path and come back to the worldly ways. Sadhana can be anything that connects you to God. In Bhakti Marga we have a number of sadhanas: Atma Kriya Yoga, Simply Meditation, Icon Painting, Puja (including all Hindu ceremonies like abishekam, yagna…), OM Chanting, Mudras, Babaji Surya Namskar, and Seva (selfless service). The most important is satsanga which I already elaborated in previous writings. Satsanga is your shield which protects your from all evil influences of Cosmic Illusion. Be with those who are consciously striving to be God-like and you will forever be safe from everything that will try to beset you on the way to God. I am not saying you will not have problems, but you will never lose hope in times of utter depression on your spiritual journey. And most people, when they lose hope, they are finished. It is very difficult to crawl your way out of it. But with the spiritual armor of the satsanga, you will safely cross the ocean of misery and reach the safe and peaceful shores of bliss of God’s awareness.
What would children do?
Among many monthly activities I had with devotees, like Just Love Kirtan, Maha Abishekam, satsangs, OM Chanting, I would like to share my experience with the kids. I visited a kindergarden in Split where I shared my time with 4-6 year old kids. There were about 20 kids and the teachers welcomed me warmly. I came on the invitation of one of the teachers who listened to my adventures and learned about my ‘good heart for the kids’. I did not have anything preplanned, as I wanted to tune in to the needs of the children, as every situation demands it’s own special attention.
There is one girl, her name is Ruža, and she has a special affection for me. She attends that kindergarten and she was waiting for me impatiently in front for the whole afternoon. When I came she was so tucked in next to me and she could not let me go. So her love already opened the door for other children.
They were all attentive as much as they could for their tender age. First I invited them to introduce themselves and they willingly did so, so the two-way communication could begin. We sat in a circle and we sang one or two bhajans. They had a hard time and struggled with Sanskrit even though I chose the simplest kirtan I could find. Nevertheless, they enjoyed it very much. I shared one story from Ramayana, and told them they should sing the name of Ram whenever they find themselves in difficulties. Therefore, they all got their japa mala as Christmas gift form me, promising me they would chant the name of Ram. We finished with holding hands in circle chanting three times OM.
How far to go?
In my attempt to reach all corners with the message of Guruji, in the last couple of weeks, apart from Split, Zagreb, Ljubljana and Maribor, I went to Krapina and Hrvatska Kostajnica. Hrvatska Kostajnica suffered a lot during the recent war for independence, That little town was occupied for few years and most population dispersed. Even after more than 20 years you can still see and smell the effects of war. Unemployment is high, young people are fleeing for better life, etc.
Even more I realized how much people need this message of love that Guruji is preaching. We were five people who got into a car and drove southeast of Zagreb to Hrvatska Kostajnica. We had a very powerful OM Chanting and sang a couple of bhajans. Only 5 people came but their faces spoke volumes. It was a great success to come, even if there was one person interested (as it was the case in Krapina).
So, to fight…or to listen?
My predominant thought during all the conflicts among the devotees that rose up in the past several weeks can be summoned up in the following: we have no idea how grateful, how lucky, how graced we are to be in the Bhakti Marga family under the protection of Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda. To be among the bhaktas is so rare in this world and to have the realized master even more rare. Having that in mind, all the fights seem so trivial, so useless. If people would realize only this, that would be enough to end up all conflicts. I repeated this so many times whenever I had the opportunity: if we realize this gift of being among the bhaktas, you would keep every single one of them so tenderly in the palm of your hand, like the most precious piece of jewel.
Another thing I reminded them all what Guruji is saying always that if you don’t accept a gift from someone to whom does that gift belong? The answer is obvious. So, if you do not accept what others are trying to heap on you, i.e. judgment, gossiping, negative emotions, and so on, you will be free and light.
I repeated all over again something I learned from my Gurudev: if you point one finger towards somebody, where are the rest of the fingers pointed to? So the logic is obvious.
The other person can be so precious to us, especially when they awaken the worst in us, because they reflect what is deeply hidden in us and what we are not willing to see and work with. We cannot see our own imperfections. The reason why we always encounter the same situation, even with different people and it keeps repeating until we are ready to work on it and learn the lesson, is the great grace from God. He wants to speed our ascension to His abode of Love and Bliss and Eternal Happiness. That is why He arranges the circumstances to dig out all rubbish that has been accumulated for ages deep inside of us. If we allow Him to do so, if we open up to his guidance and grace, then we have no worries. We are like open channel through which His Love flows through us. When we are willing to change and allow Him to work through us, then other people would also be attracted to us. But that is not the reason to change. It is for our own benefit, first and foremost. Only through complete surrender, which is nothing but acceptance of Gods Grace working through us in every moment, when there is no resistance from our side, when there is not our mind telling us which way to go, or our emotions inflicting every move we take. When we completely depend on Him, that is what makes life beautiful as we have no burden any more on our shoulders. He assumes complete responsibility on our lives. And this we all can accomplish right here and right now. Guruji says it is easy, and if he says so, it is absolutely true, if we have full faith in him, if we trust him completely like a child trust his mother.