The following talk was given by Sri Swamiji at his 61st Jayanthi (birthday) celebration 1974, which was held on December 22, 1974, at the Wilshire-Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles and attended by more than 1300 persons.
I want to thank you all for having me. As I always say, every time I come to Los Angeles I see the lost angels here. It’s a city of angels. So in your midst even an ordinary man can be a wonderful person. So I sincerely thank you all, the beautiful angels, all those who have come to celebrate this birthday.
If this is going to be the birthday celebration, I would prefer it every day – because it is bringing everybody together. This is the essence of all the religions. This is the essence of Yoga, coming together. There is that unity in us always.
Sometimes we hear people talk about bringing unity. There’s no need to bring unity. It is already there. It’s only a matter of recognizing. There is already union. There is already communion. We are never separated. If ever we separate, we collapse.
So it’s only a matter of knowing. That is why it is called knowledge. Just to know. You don’t need to do anything. Just know that you are eternally united. Know that you are eternally peaceful. Know that you are permanently happy. This is the keynote behind all the teachings. When we forget that, we look for that peace, we look for that joy, outside. So knowing the Self, knowing the peace within, is the essential goal of our life.
Seeing is Believing
I am not going to take much time now in giving a sermon. Already we have heard enough. But I would just like to present the underlying principle behind all the teachings in a nutshell.
As I said, we are peaceful, we are joyful. Always under all circumstances. That is our real nature. But the unfortunate thing is, we cannot see it. Why? You, being the subject, can never see yourself. If you are going to see yourself, you should become the object also. The subject can never become the object.
But still, seeing is believing. So the only way to see is through a reflecting surface just as with our own faces. I say “our own” faces, because we all have faces, but we have never seen our own faces. What we see in the mirror is nothing but the reflection of our face. So we have never seen our faces, but we can see the reflection. In the same way, being peaceful and joyful always, if we want to see ourselves as peaceful and joyful we should see it through a mirror.
That is the secret behind all the so-called spiritual practices. It doesn’t matter what you do, what technique you follow. It can be a Bhakti practice – the devotional approach or self-analysis, or service to the humanity, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you do should keep the mind clean. It should keep the mind straight. It should keep it steady. If that is achieved by any of your day-to-day practices, you can call it Yoga. You can call it a spiritual practice. If you are not going to achieve that, if you are going to disturb your mind – even in the name of spiritual practice know that it is not spiritual. It’s not yogic.
So there is no particular label for the methods, for what you do. You cannot label a particular practice as a yogic practice. Everything becomes a yogic practice if it helps you in keeping the mind clean, steady and straight. That’s what we should always remember.
And, fortunately, we have been blessed with such a mirror. Everybody has a built-in mirror. What is that mirror? Our own mind. our mind is a mirror given by the Creator. We came with that. So to get a clear reflection we should have a clear mirror. A clean mirror, a straight mirror and a steady mirror. The mirror shouldn’t be dirty. The mirror shouldn’t be crooked. The mirror shouldn’t be shaky. Only then can we see our reflection well.
The Source of Disturbance
Now this brings another question. Is the mind always shaky, dirty, crooked? Is it built that way? The answer is no. Having been born with us, the mind is always pure, straight and steady, but we allow it to get disturbed. Then what disturbs the mind? What makes the mind unsteady? All our wrong desires, wrong acts.
In other words, anything that would disturb the mind is a wrong act, is unyogic and is not religious. This is why all scriptures have their foundation stones, such as the Ten Commandments, which are similar to the Dasa Sheela of Buddhism, the Yama and Niyama of the Yoga philosophy. In that, they all agree. Keep the mind clean by following all the Ten Commandments.
But we can narrow that still more. We don’t even need to be practicing the Ten Commandments one by one. Because the reason that we do not follow the commandments lies in one thing.
What is that? It is the selfishness, the sel~ishness of the individual. It is the feeling of “I,” “mine,” that makes me lie, makes me steal, makes me hurt somebody. I want to achieve something, even at the cost of somebody’s happiness. All the Ten (‘cmmandments are violated because of this selfishness.
Lead a Dedicated Life
So if we bring this beautiful quality of selflessness, dedication, into our life, we need not do anything else. And we need not preach to any other things except the human beings. Because all other species practice that already. The lights shine, not for themselves. The flowers bloom, not for themselves. The incense sticks burn, and become ash, not for themselves. The entire nature leads a dedicated life. That is the law. Sacrifice is the law of life. All of nature follows the higher command. Sacrifice. Are we ready to do that? If we do that, we will keep our minds clean, calm, and steady.
So in simple words, let us all learn to live a dedicated life. Let us brush aside selfishness in any way. Then nothing in this world can affect our mind. Nothing can bring us disappointment, worry, anxiety, fear, hatred, jealousy.
Just two lines from the Bhagavad Gita are enough to guide our lives. We all want to be happy. But without peace, where is joy, where is happiness? How can you get peace?
Adweshtaa sarvabhootaanaam maitrah karuna eva cha;
Nirmam nirahankaaras samaduhkhasukhah kashamee. (12:12)
Just these two lines. “Only by dedication can we find peace.” And only by finding peace can we realize our true nature. Once we realize that true nature, there’s no birth or death, there’s no celebration.
But still, we can celebrate the birth of that knowledge. So let this birthday be an excuse to celebrate – it doesn’t matter. And let it bring the birth of that knowledge into your hearts.
Vol.VII, No-I 1975