There is a school of thought where people say you can get God only by renunciation of this world. They focus on giving up wealth, material possessions, and family. They think wealth ties us down and family traps us. If we can escape from these bonds we can attain God in no time. They think family and society are like a net that ties us down. These people are like children who think of their school as a prison and the teacher of the school as a prison warden. They do not understand that this school would teach them true happiness and give them the knowledge to find meaning in life. So, it is important to understand the true meaning and nature of giving up. Unless we do that even beautiful things that come along our way might be wasted.
Only enlightened people can know what true sacrifice is. Enlightenment is like the third eye that gives us a true perception of things. Without enlightenment, you are blind and cannot discern what is in your interest. One major fault in us is that we think our intellect can solve all our major problems. Whatever our intellect puts forth as right, we accept. Such knowledge can’t get you peace. Like a child, you have to correlate your knowledge with that in the books or experience of your colleagues and above all with your teachers. Only when all of it matches, do you get happiness. Meeting God is one such major question but we do not follow the above-mentioned right path.
We bear the brunt of the sacrifices that we make with our limited intellect. We have given up things, lack of which would never let us attain peace and happiness. One long-time disciple, once said that he left his house and family 30 years back. Left his wife and kids in misery to be with a saint. But. each time he would want to attain a positive state by meditation, he would hear and see faces of his kids and wife crying with suffering. The disciple is now left nowhere. He does not know what to do. What a sin. On one hand, we have people who feed orphans for good, and here he was the one who made his own kids orphans.
True meditation is one that does not preclude you from the gist of life, doesn’t dry out your love for family, but actually brings purity and broadens horizons to it. A lot of saints would go to kings to learn this skill. The day you would love your kids and family with purity, would be the day you would become free of all worldly attachments and attain eternal peace and perpetual happiness.
True sacrifice is to give up the attachment with lust and greed. Hating others and being boastful of oneself is a big sin. A lot of sins are forgiven but the sin of hating others is never forgiven. Hate the sin not the sinner. Truthfulness (Dharma) is to love even those who do not know right from wrong and are committing mistakes. Because true love is with soul and everyone is part of the same soul.
Even sacrifice or giving up is of two types. Try to understand it as if a child is holding an object. Unless he lets go of it, he can’t hold another. So to get something new, you have to give up the current object. Another way to look at it is once you are getting something new, the previous object will automatically fade away. Just like when you read and attain knowledge, illiteracy automatically disappears. The moment light appears darkness disappears. When water gets poured into a bottle, air automatically escapes out. Similarly, once you start filling in positive attributes and attitudes, the negative ones automatically disappear.
One person may have ten dollars and the other ten million. But once they love each other, their wealth becomes one and there is no difference between the two. A human being can attain this endless power only when he or she can be one with the Almighty.
The very first thing to renounce or sacrifice is ego or ‘ahenkar‘. However, its presence is very subtle and almost impossible to appreciate that it’s very difficult to understand. Ego is above intellect and so it’s impossible to appreciate and understand it with one’s intellect. People who commit wrong deeds are in some ways better as they can’t boast of their deeds or actions. They are better than people who do good and then develop a big fat ego for their good actions.
The second thing to sacrifice is conceit or false ego or ‘dambha‘ like that of one’s higher race or pedigree. If a person can get rid of it, he or she can attain enlightenment very fast. Conceit is a major disease. It destroys all the benefits of mediation. If you boast to others of your good actions and sacrifices then this destroys all the good of these actions. If you do something good, then hide it from others and if you do something wrong then talk about it a lot. Both the above increase and decrease the effects of your actions respectively. Any expert farmer would know that a good seed needs to be hidden underneath the soil for it to germinate and grow into a crop. If the seeds are exposed, birds will eat them and they would never germinate.
An intelligent person will rid themself of bad company. It’s better to be in the company of animals or trees than to be in bad company. A dirty hand needs to be washed thoroughly with soap and water to get its prior look. Similarly, bad company turns a heart dirty and one needs to be rid of this company to attain previous purity.
Finally to achieve success, you have to sacrifice laziness. A saint used to say that people who find meditation difficult are better as they would try it again and again which means they have begun the process of controlling their mind. But our mind plays tricks with us. It makes us think “what is the purpose of this when you can’t focus”. Such thoughts mean that mind is winning over us. So even if you can’t focus, continue to meditate every day as it may not mean that you are winning over your mind but you are following your Guru’s dictum.
If your mind tells you, that something is not under God’s feet, believe me, that is the place where it exactly is. This is because it is thinking about God and when it does that, one day it surely will find it to be there. A child studying at school can study at home too. but the thought of teachers and the contact with them works as a catalyst to achieve the goal quickly.
Spending time in solitude should also happen with Guru’s advice and not if your mind says so. Never leave yourself alone or without any work in life. The mind is very powerful and tricky. Here it is asked never to be alone with your mind. A lot of such free time can increase your ego, which is harmful.
Taking lies and bad words, discussing crime or other bad actions are also very harmful and should be avoided. Such actions can injure your mind and soul. Talking bad about others is a big sin. This is like doing an absolute reprehensible deed as by doing so you actually become a partner in that person’s crime.
It is therefore very important to understand what things should be sacrificed in life. The most important thing to give up is attachment because when you will not be attached to wealth, you will use it to help others. When people will benefit from your wealth they will bless you with even more.
Once Guru Maharaj said, there is nothing to take or leave in this world. Everything here has its meaning in the right context. Use them appropriately and judiciously. A student eats well, wears well, meets his friends, takes care of his parents but in all this never loses focus from his studies. Similarly, students of the spiritual path also should not lose focus from their ultimate goal while continuing to perform worldly duties.
This article was originally published in the Sadhan issue of November 2002. The author is Pandit Mihilal Ji. It has been translated into English.