Macalester College, St. Paul, MN
Teachers Training Session, July 2002
The very first word in the tradition of yoga is ahimsa, non-violence, non-injuriousesness, non-aggressiveness, non-negativity. It is not a solution to any problems. It is not an answer to any questions. It simply is for its own sake. If your new born child is an answer to some problems then you have no love. If you are loving your elders or you're your gratitude to the knowledge givers which quality is increasingly absent in the modern civilization. If it is a solution to some problems then it will remain only so long as the problems threaten. The path of meditation is not problem oriented. It is not solution oriented. It simply is. When you were sitting here just now for twenty five minutes of meditation you were not saying to yourself now this is the solution to the problem of my disturbance because that thought itself becomes a problem, produces a problem. In the traditions of yoga and meditation we speak of a being, just being not becoming. Not conditions, not habituations, not qualifications. Experiencing your being. Lord what is Thy name? What shall I tell the children of Israel. Who sent thee? When they ask me what shall I say? And the Lord replies I am that I am. I am is my name. Tell the children of Israel I am has sent thee. So millenniums later we hear Jesus say before Abraham was I am. That's bad English. Somebody should start classes in language for these prophets. They don't know past tense from the present tense. Or is it that besides the past tense, present tense and future tense there is another tense we do not know. The eternal tense. I am that I am is not present tense. I am is my name. It's not present tense. I am has sent thee that I am. Before Abraham was I am that I am. It is not present tense. That is eternal tense. The tense of infinity out of which your past, your present, your future arise. In which they subsist and are experienced. Into which they submerge. That sub-stream of all being. That I am is the one experienced in the state of true meditation. That alone is silence. He leads me by the quite waters. It is these quiet waters along which the mind is led. To make the mind into an even flowing stream of the waters of quietude.
What does all this have to do with the topic of the lecture announced? Peace is not a solution to the problem of war or battle or fight or quarrel or quibble. If peace were the solution, were the solution to the problem of war then war would be a pre-condition, a pre-requisite for another temporary condition called peace. Such a peace is not peace. Peace is not a state between two wars. Love is not a state between two thoughts of hatred. It either is in you, inside you or it is not. Peace is not a condition among nations. It is not an international condition. It is not the solution to the inter-religious strife. It is not a solution to the problem of the husband and wife yelling each other. Peace is that experience of being, your being, within yourself in which there are no conflicting identities. I always say this as I travel through all the different countries of the world, there are a million nations at war inside your skull. Without reading a newspaper, without watching the TV, without the benefit of the reporting conferred upon you by all the news agencies, you have a million warriors at war inside your skull. When those conflicting identities inside you will be seen as waves of a single stream you would see that the waves are not at war with each other and your many identities that you assume from time to time, moment to moment are not in conflict with each other. They are waves in an even flowing stream. The curator of a museum treasures the sword the ownership is attributed to king Arthur or to Napoleon. Every now and then he has to take the sword out of its sheath even and has to clean it and has to examine its condition and has to sheath it back. That does not make him a solider. That does not make him a warrior. So that peace has nothing to do with disarmament. Although it is by the disturbance of peace in our minds that the armament arises.
The word peace where does it begin? I know the person from whom the word peace begins. You are probably expecting me to name some famous figure. Would you like to meet that person? Stand before the mirror. That person. Is there conflict in your mind and if there is then there is a conflict among nations. Conflict in your mind becomes the conflict between husband and wife, between genders, between generations, between ethic groups, between religions, sects and sub-sects. If this was not a world of nation states and there was some other form of identifying the groups that control different pieces of land as in the olden times it was the kings and the royalty. The condition would be no different. Abolish the nation states. The divisions in your mind will create some other divisions of our humanity and you will still be seeking solution to the problem of war. There is something in your interior, in your will, in your volition. Your peace cannot be disturbed without our volition. Your peace cannot be disturbed without your volition. No conflicts can be created in your mind without your volition.
A mother has four children. She is not in conflict as to shall I love this one or shall I love that one. The love is a wave that passes between all four and that is why sometimes you see mothers calling one of her daughters, Sara no Jane Mary. I am a but of jokes in my ashram because I do the same with my sons, my spiritual sons. Hari Shankar Ananta. Because the love is not divided by the names and the personality. The love has its own identity in which all the other identities merge. One of the definitions of love can be given as merging of identities in one. So here within you a change has to occur. The word ahimsa is derived from a Sanskrit verb root. If you have seen the movie Gandhi you would have heard that word. It's derived from a Sanskrit verb root which means not being inclined to cause hurt and harm. Not being inclined to cause hurt or harm. It is not, not hurting, not violating, not killing. It's not being inclined to, not having the will to do so. Not directing your volition to do so. So there has to be in your mind this volition to have your interior peace. Self pacification, self pacification. You see an urge to throw a word stone at someone. You see that urge arising in you. You already created the post nuclear armament.
As this urge to throw a stone at someone you already invented the post nuclear armament. You already produced the generation of weapons that will come after the nuclear weapons and we are all busy producing those weapons at this very time. Everyone of us. No one is exempt because we have not undertaken the most adjurors as well as the easiest. Because we have not undertaken the most adjurors as well as the easiest task of self pacification.
For the last thirty years at the Meditation Center I have been repeating this lecture many, many times. The greatest gift you can give to the world. The most unselfish thing you can do in the world. The most unselfish thing you can do for the world is to be at peace within yourself. It is your state of mind that spills through your eyes. Through the position of your shoulders. Through the tone of your voice. Through the aggressive or fearful stance of your spine. Through the tension curling in your toes. Through the hands becoming all tensed up and you already spilled into the reservoir of the universal mind. You have already spilled into the reservoir of universal mind the disturbance of your mind and you spill it and all the other members of your family spill it and the neighbors spill it and the cities do and within the cities the ethnic groups do. You know the difference between religion and mythology? What I believe in is religion. What you believe in is mythology. If I am on the Christian pulpit so if it is in the Bible it is religion and what those ignorant people of India have written that is mythology or what the Greeks believed, mythology and vise versa. We cancel each other out. Untruths have a habit of canceling each other out. Untruths have a habit, have a nature of canceling each other out. Truths have the nature of supporting each other and merging into one. Truths are not in conflict. Untruths are in conflict.
So understand this basic fact about conflict. Conflict is not between you and the other person. Conflict is in your mind between you two identities and in the state of meditation all your identities merge into a single being which experiences itself not even as a being. Simply without moods and tenses and numbers be. The eternal tense and all the conflicting areas of the mind merge and form a single pool from which the stream of harmony filled glance, stillness filled speech, silence filled physical movement streams out and may wash the stains of conflict from the minds around you. How do you know when you have mastered the art and science of non-violence? The ancient yoga sutras of Patanjali say when in your presence no conflict arises even among the natural enemies. That is the test of the mastery of non-violence when your mere presence pacifies other minds. Be ambitious. We are creating conflicts thorough our habitual aggressiveness. I'm infamous among my friends for not permitting any body to use my computer key board. Just yesterday or day before somebody was starting to type on my computer and I said you depart??) from using my computer, my keyboard. You only need to touch the key you don't need to hit it. Why do you take out your aggression on the computer keys? It is an easy electronic device. All they need is a touch and then after a few months of working on the computer, ah my shoulders hurt, my wrists don't work. I have to take time off work to get my health cured. What has the poor computer done to you? All it needs is a touch. It doesn't need a hit. It has become part of language hit the key. Why do you hit the key? Why do you hit? This kind of aggression has become part of language. We don't examine it. The principle which makes one nation attack another nature and the principle which makes you hit the key on the computer keyboard is one and the same principle. They are phenomena of one and the same force and your world wars begin with hitting that key You come home, you have left your keys or your mirror or your valued possession or some thing some place. Hey who picked up my keys? How do you like that voice? Do you like it? Contrast it with the way I was speaking. How do you like that? Anyone knows where my keys might be. You know I really need it. I have to open that box for that purpose. Oh come on calm down you are obviously yelling. You are the one who yelled because you don't hear your own yelling. You do that with your roommates. You do that with your family. You do that with your neighbor. Nations do that with nations. People debate about religions. I have written a little booklet on Unifying Streams of Religion. People debate about religion. You know what they do? They pick out the best passages from their own scriptures and they pick out the worse ones from the other peoples scriptures and then compare the two. It is normal. They take out the best episodes from the history of their own religion and pick out the most violent episodes from the history of other religions and feed their ego on how saintly we are and look at those infidels. You are always yelling and when those people, people of those other religions whichever those are. You know those false ones, ignorant ones who don't know anything about real God. You familiar with them? You ever heard of them? And when they get their chance they do the same thing. They do exactly the same thing. So they pick out the best from their history and worst from yours and show how ignorant, how stupid, how violent, how aggressive you are.
About a year ago I was at a conference in New York where some of the leading figures of the University of New York were invited in a small chamber to meet with me and I said the causes that create conflict between husband and wife are exactly the same causes that create conflict between religions. You want peace among religions have peace between husband and wife. Non-violence begins from dropping the adversarial position. By not presenting two sides of a picture as dichotomies. Not looking at two forces as antipathic to each other. Lot of times I do this with my audiences. What time is it? She says quarter after nine. Would you mind asking me the question what time is it Swami? She is asking me what time is it. Swamiji: Where? I do that in all the countries. You say this is evening I say its morning. Whenever I am here and have to talk to my friends and people and organization in India I have to call them at night because that's when they are awake and I have to remember that that's their day and they have to remember this is my night. See the conflict? Now you can debate whether it's a day or it's a night and never ask the question where and that is what we do with all points of conflict. All, all, everyone of them. In the most irreconcilable situations there is a point of conciliation you have not discovered it. You have not applied the incisiveness of your mind to find that point. So that you say day is a day and night is a night well it's not true and the night and the day are not antipathic to each other without night here there would not be a day elsewhere. Without day there it would not be night here. Two are complimentary, inter-dependent. Two parts of truth. Two sides of the coin. I have a little book entitled Sayings. I have I chapter which is called be naughty and you have two persons fighting over each other quarreling over each other and you bend down and start looking for something on the ground and you have penny in your hand. Oh, what are you looking for? Oh, I lost the other side of this penny. See there is only this side.
Once you have understood this principle that there are no points of conflict in the universe. That there are no opposite forces, that all are complimentary, they complete each other then this side of the penny will not declare war against the other side of the penny and all wars, all inter___ conflicts, all international conflicts are conflicts between two sides of truth and we choose to possess only one side of the penny. That's where your solution is. That is where the conflict resolution is but conflict resolution will be there if there was a conflict. Was there a conflict between this side of the penny and that side of the penny? Is there conflict between there being night here and there being day there? Is there a conflict between it being summer here and there being winter in New Zealand at this time? The only problem is that poor people in New Zealand have to celebrate their Christmas during summer. Uncivilized people. They don't know that Christmas has to be snow time. So it is in the interior self that you will find solutions. If it is a solution you are looking for but the purpose of the pursuit of peace and non-violence is not solution because there is not problem. Problems are assumptions, hypothesis, partial perceptions. Not the wholeness, not the completeness of the picture of the universe and that is why you teach meditation. Self pacification, re-integration of all the various assumed identities that we carry within ourselves. The truth has to be for its own self. It is not for serving your assumed purpose.
Now-a-days we read about these very noble, supposedly noble proposals which unfortunately are largely still proposals like sustainable development, big thing these days. Sustainable development. I don't believe in sustainable development. In the last century or two the direction that the philosophy has taken is radically different from the direction that the philosophers of the whole world in China, India, Greece, ever took. The true philosophers of the Socratic stature never try to find excuses for human weakness. Never try to justify human selfishness. They presented what to most of us appears to be a lofty ideal, the idea of altruism. The entire philosophy and theology for all of those millenniums in all parts of the world has been a philosophy of altruism. Truth for its own sake, goodness for its own sake, sweetness for its own sake, you know. If you give someone a gift so that he would do something for you in return that is not a gift. That is a bribe and the philosophers of utilitarianism justified the human selfishness and we are all participants in the application of those justifications. Because you were alone and you had no company to talk to that is not practice of silence. Because you had no partner that is not the practice of celibacy. Because you had no one to kill therefore you did not kill that is not non-violence. Because you did not have the courage that would take the consequences that would accrue if you did kill and therefore you refrain from killing that is not non-violence but that is what we are doing.
Many of these philosophers say you and I have signed a contract with each other. If you don't kill me I won't kill you and that's why we have peace. Forget it. For millenniums this planet earth was preserved by people who believed in the sanctity of forests, sanctity a divine spirit imbued in nature and maintaining a forest was an act of worship not sustainable development. It was for it's own sake. Please examine this. In the cultures of Africa about which nobody here cares. All you hear from your newspapers is some strange countries always at war with each other. That's all you are told about it. We recently established some very close connections with African spirituality and African spiritual traditions and managed to wipe out some of my own ignorance. In the cultures of Africa anybody polluting was severely punished by the village council, by the council of elders whose wisdom was honored and respected and this was so all over the world. You may have hear of the .ok before I continue with that sentence. People think of non-violence as species specific. When you think of non-violence and peace you are only thinking of one particular species that inhabits this earth because that species for its own sake, for the sake of its own pleasures and mental comfort has chosen to call itself as the supreme superior beings. So you think preservation of mankind is of paramount importance. Why? Why? What good are the human beings doing for this earth? They are only burdens, sapping the earth, destroying the earth, killing the earth and what will you do when nothing is left to destroy. What will you do when the whole planet has become a desert? There is nothing specific, nothing of particular importance for saving human species. Peace is not peace among human nations. Peace is integral or there is no peace. Please remember this. Either you grant peace to the cow and the monkey and chimpanzee and the gorilla and the tree of the forest or you will have no peace. Let this be understood the peace is integral.
You may have heard of the chipko movement. Those who are in the environment movement you have heard of this word chipko. How many people here have heard that word? One, two, three, four, five. Well ok half a dozen. That's still comforting. The word chipko is Hindi language. Imperative mood. Simply means cling. So when the timber traders from the plains of India started going to the forests of the Himalayan mountains and cutting all the trees the problem arises that it's a tradition of the mountain people to be hospitable and you know that these people are coming to destroy the very basis of your existence and carting away the logs. So the elders in all the different villages and the leaders sat down and agreed among themselves. We shall not transgress our tradition of hospitality. The come to our villages we will treat them as guests. Because in those villages up until very recent times it was and in some places still the custom that any stranger coming walking into the village is welcome, can stay somebody's house somewhere. They don't have hotels. So they welcomed the people because you cannot achieve good by resorting to bad. You save your forest but you destroy your hospitality. You cannot do. You cannot be adversarial in order to establish peace. This is the most important part of Gandhian philosophy. That you oppose the injustice not the unjust. Not the person, not the nation. Let it change the situation. Start that with your husband, with your wife, with your child, with your parent. People assume conflict but there is no conflict. People assume conflict where there is no conflict. There is always a third between the two. What time is it? Where? We don't think of that.
Someone comes to me and says Swamiji I have a problem with my mother. Everybody has problem with mother except mothers who have problem with daughters. Who had the problem with whom and I always tell people if you have a problem with someone means that person has a problem with you also and any interpersonal problems you have the problem the other person also has the problem. That person is your problem and you are that person's problem. I say solve the problem the other person has with you. Try that. Solve the problem has with you but I am such a nice person. How could anybody have problem with me? Look all the nice things, good things I have done for that ungrateful wretch. So a person comes to me and says Swamiji I have a problem. I have a problem with my mother. What's the problem? Well, she wants me to go to church and like to come to the Meditation Center. I see. Which evening does the Meditation Center have its meetings, meditations? Oh, on Thursday nights, Thursday nights yes. When is the church? Oh on Sunday mornings. Well what's the problem? You've created the problem. You have assumed the problem. There was no problem. Sunday morning go with her. Thursday evening come to the Meditation Center. Oh I never thought of that. So the question came between hospitality and preservation of the forest. We shall be hospitable. We'll accept them but when they go to cut our forests every man, woman and child will walk out of the village and everyone will hold the trees they are cutting. We will cling and that's the word chipko, cling and that's how they saved lot of forests. Became a chipko movement throughout the Himalayas. Welcome the loggers in your homes. Feed them for the night. Let them rest for the night. When they go out to cut where their saw is going to cut hold on to the tree. Well you have to cut me with it. This is nothing new.
There is a particular religion in India even people here from India may not have heard of that religion. It's called Bishnoi. Anyone has heard of Bishnois? You have. OK good two and the word is derived from twenty nine. There are twenty nine precepts in their religion and the founder was a absolute illiterate. Sat on a desert mound and had his awakening and people started coming to him and he taught. He taught or rather re-established the principle of not permitting any living being to be hurt or harmed. Now please let me explain to you in the Hindu Buddhist countries we speak of living beings we talk of everything from plant kingdom to the human beings. The entire spectrum is a continuum of life force and this business of becoming vegetarian because your afraid of foot and mouth disease I don't understand. That's not vegetarian. Out of fear? That's not non-violence. So the teaching of this religion is not to hurt or harm any living being. In the whole deserts of Rajastan it is the villages of these people who are green. Have always preserved these patches of forests and they always from every home they take out some food every day and place it on the borders on the village where the wild creatures may come and eat and outside the village they always built little ponds of water where the wild creatures may come and drink and about two and a half centuries ago when the king of Josipur (??) sent out his soldiers to cut logs to build a palace for himself and men where away at work, two and a half centuries ago, three hundred women and children, women and children went and clung to the trees and were actually cut down. They chose to be cut down along with the tree and after that no government has dared to cut a tree in their village. Now imagine the mind set of those people. How does it spill over into their other conflict resolution. All you need is one seed of non-violence and from that everything will spill over. It will spill over into other areas of life. Take one simple principle.
I can go on. I have a terrible habit of bringing books along to explain and read and I never. Going to read something for you. So I hope what I've said carries in your mind. Think about these points. Don't take opposite position. See the position you hold and the position I hold and see where the two positions actually meet somewhere. There is a place. OK and look in your personal life at your fear of death. Confront that fear. Don't run away from it by putting your dead in beautified boxes. So that some people can make a multi billion dollar living out of the dead. Confront your fear of dying. Why are you afraid of dying?
You are afraid of dying because your unconscious mind and your conscious is aware of the death you have visited upon other living being. Small death is death. Hurling that word stone, that aggressive stare where a loving glance would have brought more positive results and response but you just never experimented with it. That word stone, that hard stare is the death you have visited upon others and see others of life. I am guilty. I am not innocent. I am wearing this silk shawl. How many thousand worms, silk worms were boiled alive to produce this silk shawl I am wearing? Look at all the areas of your life where you are visiting death upon other living beings. For that pearl necklace with a hundred pearls in it a hundred creatures were pried open with a knife. If someone were to pry open your hand because you have a jewel hidden inside what the state of your mind would be and the state of the mind of that shell creature whose body is pried open for that precious pearl. The state of mind of that being is the same, no different.
No different from the state of mind of a victim from the Nazis from whose mouth a gold filling is taken. We are all Nazis on a massive scale. Begin with self examination then you will know where we are responsible for evoking violence against ourselves. Sometimes I seem to be a little harsh. I don't mean to be. Just understand it as being emphatic rather than harsh because I know I am guilty.
Go home, start examining your life and start reducing. You can not do it overnight. In some areas of life you simply can not do it. Then there are expiations for that.
In some areas of life you can start. Where am I guilty of visiting death upon others?
And when you stop those acts of thought, word and body, when you will stop those acts of thought, word and body, the peace of mind that you will experience will not be artificial, will not be temporary. It will give you a satisfaction and your own fear of death will be reduced I assure you of that and one sure fire way to go into the subtleties of ones being, back to the same old refrain, same old broken record I always play, come back to the practice of meditation in which all dichotomies are merged. If you have questions and you want to challenge what I have said please go home and see what I have to say is really opposite of what I have said or is it something that completes it. Find that line where the two are sewn together. OK?
Bring your awareness only to the place where you are sitting.
Be aware only of the space that your body is occupying.
Relax your mind. Relax your forehead.
Feel the flow and the touch of the breath in your nostrils.
Breath gently, slowly, smoothly.
No jerk in your breathing.
Take your mantra or sacred word from your own tradition.
Exhale thinking that sacred thought.
Inhale thinking the same thought. Non-verbally, ok, only in the mind.
Observe the transition from one breath to the next.
Permit no pause between the breaths.
Feel the sensation of the breath flow and a serene sentiment.
Observe how the breath, the mind and the word are flowing together as a single stream.
Your entire mind becomes an even flowing stream and without breaking the awareness of the flow gently open your eyes but let your consciousness yet remain in your flowing stream.
God bless you.