The words of spirituality and enlightenment have become today highly popular. May I ask you, beloved Guruji, what is enlightenment and spirituality?
Guruji Sri Vast:
People expect enlightenment to be something extraordinary; suddenly you become a kind of angel, suddenly you become special. For me, my experience and realization is not to become something special. The need to become special is not there. The person becomes totally normal. Since we are all being abnormal, we are trying to become some kind of supernormal; we wish to reach some kind of super state. The super state is nothing but becoming normal. The person is grounded. When you are grounded you can experience everything: you can feel, see, touch, hear and sense everything, without any references. It is very important not to connect liberation with any exoticness.
If I say I was living with a Yogi or with Sadhus in a cave for ten years, it becomes something exotic, because I did something which you could not do. It is all about becoming something special. Doing something different from what others are doing. As long as this comparison is there - that I am different from this person, I am more special than this person - you become the prisoner of your own comparisons because the whole world is there in front of you to compare with. Wherever you go, there will be people to whom you have to prove that you are higher or lower than them. You are in this trap of comparing. Freedom is to liberate from all the comparisons. How is it practically possible?
Free yourself from the person within you, who is comparing yourself with others. The exotic approach towards liberation makes you become more exotic. You wish to become a greater idea than other people’s ideas. That’s why people like to tell their stories:"I was here… I was there….I did this… I did that…"
In that case, does that mean that people who have never done anything exotic or been to India, cannot experience what The Divine is? That would mean God is putting some kind of condition on you: “Only if you do all these exotic things, you can experience Me.” Does that mean the remote villagers in Africa, who never have been to India, cannot be liberated? That seems kind of strange. If God makes a condition:“Only if you do this and this, you can experience Me,” then we must free ourselves from that God, from that concept of God which puts that kind of conditions on us. It is all about understanding what true liberation is. Exactly what kind of liberation are you looking for? It is important to understand: What is this spirituality? And what exactly are we working towards when we say liberation?
For example, you come to India. You are sitting on the floor, eating the food with your hand, eating on banana leaves, singing mantras, doing asanas and doing all those things. You see that as your spiritual practice. Then you go back home with an exotic experience. When you go back, you have to adapt these practices to your normal life there. When you stop these practices, you will claim that you are not living spiritually anymore. This is because you adapted to something exotic, you did not connect Spirituality with your Self.
Any practice, which is helping you towards total liberation, is a spiritual practice. But one must know what this total liberation means. Unless you are very clear what liberation you are looking for, you might not be able to find your spiritual practice.
This is because liberation means different things to different people. One person might find liberation from his partner, for example. You can not do that by doing asanas. You have to develop a dialogue with your partner. That is the spiritual practice for that particular liberation. Another person may find it difficult to free themselves from back pain. Simply sitting and chanting may not help. Isn’t it? One must know exactly what they want, in what way they are relating with liberation and what that means. To attain that particular liberation you need a particular method. It can be anything.
Guruji Sri Vast, people have their spiritual practice and then they have their normal life. Can you tell a little bit about that?
Guruji Sri Vast:
Yes. When you ask ‘spiritual’ people about their name, they may answer you, “Do you want to know my spiritual name or my normal name?” You ask them how their friends are doing. “My spiritual friends or my normal friends?” And how is life going? “Do you want to know about my spiritual life, or my normal life?”
That means your spiritual life is not your normal life. Your spiritual life is something abnormal even to you, so you hide this spiritual life. That means you yourself have a conflict, a contradiction within you. If you have a name like Durga, and you claim that is your spiritual name, why aren´t you using that name when you go to work? Are you ashamed of it? That means you are ashamed of you spiritual life. If you are ashamed of your spiritual life, it is not spiritual anymore!
You have these friends. They are your spiritual friends, but you cannot talk about them with your colleagues at work, or at home, because they will look at it as very strange. That means you are still having the need for acceptance, that you are not strange. Or are you, yourself, afraid that maybe you are strange?
Yes, I believe many people have this struggle when they take a spiritual path that they can not tell their friends or family because they will react to it.
Guruji Sri Vast:
Exactly. So one must see that division: normal life – and spiritual life. That means, you are hiding something. You cannot talk about it with everyone. Already you have a lot of things hidden within you which you cannot talk about. But to be free from all these things, you are finding a spiritual path and spiritual practice. Then, what about when your spiritual life becomes the biggest thing you have to hide?
That means you are not getting liberated. You are still having a conflict within your claiming:“This is my normal life – and this is my spiritual life.” When is this normal life going to be spiritual? Or when is this spiritual life going to be your normal life?
Life cannot be split into many different pieces. Already, we have split the day: from 08.00-16.00 I am working, after 16.00 I go my home. Eleven months in a year I am working, one month I am relaxing. Who is making these divisions? We are always somehow detaching ourselves, making ourselves not see our life as a whole, but separating ourselves, making ourselves into many small pieces.
When a person says: “I am so busy with work. I hope one day I am going to have time for myself. One day I will do something for myself. I will do something else, read a book, or relax a little bit.” But what about when you are cooking? You are also doing that for yourself. If you are eating, you are also doing that for yourself. You are cleaning the floor, you are also only doing that for yourself, because you like to keep the floor clean.
We do not connect with all these practical daily life experiences. You are doing all these things for yourself. But at the end of the day, after cleaning and fixing everything, when you go and relax or read a book, then you say you are doing it for yourself. Then, who did you do the rest of the activities?
This is one of the main egoistic things. We have defined something as good and something else as not good. Everybody is having an ideal, cozy, romantic picture of what relaxation is. What is the person with higher conscious doing? Maybe sitting and meditating? Maybe walking slowly, maybe talking slowly, maybe listening to music, maybe reading a book? If the whole of humanity is going to sit and talk slowly, walk slowly, read a book, and listen to music: then who is going to do the rest of the work?
It is very important not to split life into too many pieces. You have only one life. You do not have many different lives. In this physical manifestation, you have only one life. And make that a whole.
This is my spiritual life, this is my business life, my family life and my sports life. The more splits you make,the more you become different personalities. And there will be a conflict between every personality. You can never be normal.
Make sure that you are always honest and that you are yourself totally. Let your surroundings know about it. Let them accept who you really are, totally. This is only possible when you stop expecting your surroundings to accept you the way you want. Many times we say, “People do not accept me.” But is it true, people do not accept you as you are? Or do you want them to accept you in a certain way? We have this need for others to accept us in a certain way. When these so called ‘others’ are not accepting you in this certain way, you say they are not accepting you. They are accepting, but not the way you want them to accept. When you stop expecting others to accept, you become free.
You become free! And you accept others totally. In that total acceptance their un-acceptance is also a part of it. They are not accepting you… and you accept that also. You accept them, you accept your surroundings. When you accept you and your surroundings, these two lives, the spiritual and the normal life become one life. You are normal. Spiritually, you are normal.