Our Core Tenets
Guru Maharaj’s Core Message – Ten Basic Principles of Sadhana
Guru Maharaj’s message has the Ten Basic Principles of Sadhana, at the core. These principles provide the foundation for effortless spiritual growth.
God is the supreme power with no name or form, and you can choose a name of your liking. To seek Him, you need not renounce either the world or the married life; you do not need to live a secluded life nor you need to become a wanderer. Those living with family and leading a “normal” life can still reach God. In order to attain self-realization, you must find someone who has already attained self-realization and seek his guidance. Bring inner happiness into your life, for it is a divine virtue. Gyan (Knowledge) brings peace; you will not find it outside. It is within you, so you will need introspection and Satsang to be at peace. You should continue to devote most of your time to your daily activities. Howe ver, while practicing Satsang, you should keep your mind clear of all worldly concerns. As a Satsangi (seeker), two things are very important for you – first, earning an honest living and second, productive use of time. Knowledge is infinite. If your Guru cannot take you to your goal, then seek the guidance of another Guru. However, after finding an Atma-Gyani Guru (self-realized person), you should stay with him. Do all worldly work with a spirit of service, not to rule or to own. Live in this world as a guest. Believe that someone else owns everything in this world. Leave “me and mine,” and learn “you and yours”.
1. God is the supreme power with no name or form, and you can choose a name of your liking.
Guru Maharaj’s first principle promotes harmony amongst religions and ideologies. The focus according to Him ought to be elevated to a higher goal – “connecting to a higher power”. The name or form we choose may be our own. It is not about what name or form is better; the goal ought to be realizing, knowing, experiencing, and reaching our God.
Self-realization could be the goal, and we can help each other in that process – a common goal for the human race and a way we all could service each other and hence, serve the human race.
If we look at most conflicts and wars in today’s world, the majority of them are in the name of religion. Religious orientation becomes a reason for conflicts, and the fight ensues to prove one’s religion is better than the other. All of this is due to ignorance; we fundamentally do not understand God.
First, there are many names associated to God – Jesus, Jehovah, Eshwar, Ram, Krishna, Mohammad, Buddha, and the list is potentially very long. Second, we all associate a form (a physical body) to each of these names, so there are many names and forms.
Each religion has its own belief and faith. It typically includes a name and a form of the super power, the omnipotent, the omnipresent, and the ultimate source of energy. This subject can get far more complex; for example, some refer to the formless God with no physical description.
Guru Maharaj stated, “God is the supreme power with no name or form, and you can choose a name of your liking”. Based on this principle, we respect all religions.
Let’s take an example. In a family, the same person is referred to as a father, a husband, an uncle, a brother, a son, etc. The reference being different doesn’t make the person different. Also, the same person being referred differently doesn’t cause any conflict because we know the person. The conflicts arise due to the ignorance.
If we are really pursuing peace – we want peace for ourselves, our family, our community, and our world – we then need to get rid of ignorance. Let’s know our God and realize our belief through self-realization. Once you achieve that, there will be no conflict.Go To Top
2. To seek Him, you need not renounce either the world or the married life; you do not need to live a secluded life nor you need to become a wanderer. Those living with family and leading a “normal” life can still reach God.
One of Guru Maharaj’s core principles is that living with family and leading a “normal” life, you can still reach God. Guru Maharaj stated that if you are busy earning a living and have a family to take care of, that should not stop you from progressing spiritually towards self-realization.
Buddha emphasized balance, but to achieve the goal, a celibate life and service through monasteries became popular. Priests and nuns serve the Christian church through a similar lifestyle change and devote their lives to service. Such devotion is divine, but this started a belief that real service and self-realization requires such renunciation. Shankaracharya promoted tyag, or leaving worldly possessions, among Hindus.
So, what about us, the normal people, how will we find peace and achieve spiritual progress? If we wait till we will be free of worldly (and familial) duties to start the spiritual journey, that wait might be as long as our life, as worldly desires and demands (on our time) continue to pile up continuously.
Scriptures and history provide examples of many sages and saints who achieved the state of self-realization, living a normal family life. Guru Maharaj stated that it is as well achievable today and illustrated it in His own life.
According to Guru Maharaj, the decision to give up worldly possessions and give up family life is not easy, but to follow it through is even more difficult. There might have been a time in human history when celibacy and a ‘harder’ life devoted to service was a requirement. However, it may not be as relevant today, especially in light of such power games, temptations, and scandals coming from the temples, mosques, and churches.
What has to be given up is our mind’s focus and attachments towards worldly possessions. Those who give up family life and decide to serve God soon find themselves attached to another set of people, possessions, and activities (of service).
The problem is “Forgetting God and becoming attached to worldly possessions,” has to be addressed. The physical act of giving up worldly possessions doesn’t necessarily guarantee a future free of such temptations. Guru Maharaj stated that as every action has a reaction, the fact that you renounce the world, the higher the probability that temptations will return with a vengeance. However, the temptations will have a different setting and may have morphed into an indistinguishable form.
The attachments with oneself and our worldly possessions – this is “me” and that is “mine”, is the root cause of all our problems. The grief and pain is associated to a loss. On every occasion we lose something, the pain and grief returns. Currently this may be with our family and its possessions; later it may be with the activities at Church, at a monastery, or at a Himalayan ashram. The temptations and attachments can cause a slide from renunciation into the lure of money, sex, and power. The opposite can be true, too. Hence, to seek Him, you need not renounce either the world nor the married life, live a secluded life nor become a wanderer. Those living with family and leading a “normal” life can still reach God.Go To Top
3. In order to attain self-realization, you must find someone who has already attained self-realization and seek his guidance.
Corporate world and governments today utilize consultants and advisors to leverage expertise or prior experience in specific areas. Typically, a consultant or advisor has “been there” and has “done that” before.
Guru Maharaj stated that if you want to achieve self-realization, then meet someone who has. Your journey could be less painful or quicker if you leverage the experience and expertise of someone else. The learning could be through imitation and observation. Confucius wrote, ”By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
Unfortunately, finding the right consultant or an advisor is very difficult, and finding a person who has achieved self-realization is even more difficult.
Even if we found one, how will we recognize and confirm that we are not making a mistake? Guru Maharaj wrote a book on this topic, as well. If we have a strong desire and if we persevere, the search will be successful and He will appear in your life. Persistence is the key in this endeavor. There are techniques to evaluate and confirm that you have found one. At the high level, one key element of such an evaluation is how you feel when you are meeting the person. If you feel devoid of temptations and desires and forget all misery and pain, you may have found one. The person’s behavior may also provide a good measure. But in today’s world, it is difficult to make out the actor from the real one.Go To Top
4. Bring inner happiness into your life, for it is a divine virtue.
Inner happiness is another good metric for spiritual progress.
Everyone is looking for happiness through wealth, knowledge, possessions (house, car, etc.), and continues to strive towards being healthy, wealthy, and wise. The happiness of family and friends becomes important because your own happiness depends on their being happy. In broader terms, to be happy yourself, the world in your immediate vicinity needs to be happy. However, the happiness described above is happiness achieved by the virtue of physical possessions and hence, it is primarily based on our physical senses.
Inner happiness is beyond the happiness achieved through worldly possessions. Happiness achieved through worldly possessions turns into misery and unhappiness when the physical possession is lost.
Inner happiness is not based on how much wealth, knowledge, status, or power is possessed by the individual. Inner happiness grows with the spiritual growth of the individual. Inner happiness is a good measure of progress; as we move closer to divinity, the consistency and depth of inner happiness continues to increase.
Guru Maharaj clarified for those who think that spiritual progress requires a very serious amount of time; according to Him, it is not important how much time is spent in prayers, kirtan, Satsang, pooja, meditation, or in service, it is the improvement in the level of inner happiness that is important. If the level of inner happiness is not improving, the path or the Sadhana that is being pursued may not be very effective. So, bring inner happiness into your life, for it is a divine virtue.Go To Top
5. Gyan (Knowledge) brings peace; you will not find it outside. It is within you, so you will need introspection and Satsang to be at peace.
Knowledge brings peace. However, it is not merely reading the scriptures that will lead to peace. Knowledge is embedded in the scriptures, and it is important to read the Bible, Koran, Vedas, Upanishads, and other scriptures to achieve knowledge that leads one to become a scholar. It doesn’t necessarily lead to peace. Internalization of this knowledge, realizing the depth, and experiencing the principles is required to achieve peace.
Guru Maharaj emphasized on introspection and Satsang. Peace and knowledge is within us, while we are trying to find it outside. Like happiness peace cannot be associated with the physical possession of knowledge. Strive towards inner happiness and inner peace. It is internalization of knowledge that leads to inner and more permanent peace.
Peace is achieved through the exploration within us, through inwards looking Sadhana, or Satsang.
Guru Maharaj presented a unique system of meditation towards achieving inner peace.Go To Top
6. You should continue to devote most of your time to your daily activities. However, while practicing Satsang, you should keep your mind clear of all worldly concerns.
Guru Maharaj emphasized on living a family life and understood that to mean a significant part of the day would be devoted to just bringing bread to the table. He also proposed that less than an hour a day should be spent on spiritual progress. However, it becomes important to keep that time clear of worldly worries.
In today’s society, the time and effort that can be spent on Sadhana (or spiritual growth) is limited. So, Guru Maharaj stated that over 23 hours a day should be invested towards worldly progress and family duties. This time should be utilized in earning an honest living, keeping a healthy physical body, and improving the physical and financial health of the family and community.
However, half an hour in the morning and in the evening should be spent consistently on spiritual progress. This time should not be cluttered with worldly activities; this should be devoted entirely to spiritual progress alone.
This uncluttered focus on one thing at a time provides for progress towards worldly as well as spiritual goals, in a unique balance.
This principle also states that thinking of worldly situations and issues at church, mosque, or temple will result in not so effective visit. Those who use these places as social get-togethers fail to realize the spiritual progress that could have been achieved. This applies to all such endeavors like mantra, jap, kirtan, Satsang, bhajan, etc. If the mind is wandering elsewhere, the mere physical activity may not be very effective in leading to spiritual progress.
Guru Maharaj emphasized on utilizing the time spent on any religious or spiritual activity to be uncluttered from all worldly concerns. Spend the majority of your time fulfilling worldly duties, but when you take a break from it, make it a complete break. While engaged in day-to-day worldly activities, regular work, and family duties, focus and hence, don’t clutter them with other distractions, including spiritual endeavors.
A consistent brief meditation session every morning and evening can positively impact our body, mind, and spirit and if uncluttered from other distractions, it could be more effective than any other approach to self-realization.Go To Top
7. As a Satsangi (seeker), two activities are very important for you – first, earning an honest living and second, keeping busy with work.
Guru Maharaj didn’t want to overwhelm the seeker; he only emphasized a few important Do’s and Don’ts. Two of those Do’s were earning an honest living and keeping busy with work.
Keeping busy is very important for all human beings. Even for the folks who have decided to live a secluded life, a celibate life, a family life, or a life devoted to service, it is important to be busy. It is said, “The idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. In every country and in every century, scandals from the religious and service oriented institutions and individuals continue to come to light every now and then, because the mind continues to play its games.
If you are not busy in a physical toil, your mind will be busy in something else.Go To Top
8. Knowledge is infinite. If your Guru cannot take you to your goal, then seek the guidance of another Guru. However, after finding an Atma-Gyani Guru (self-realized person), you should stay with him.
The goal of self-realization is very important. A guide to facilitate the progress is desirable. During the journey, the mind continues to play its usual tricks; doubts and disbeliefs happen throughout the process.
Guru Maharaj emphasized on being very diligent and careful in identifying the Guru. The Guru, like a consultant or an advisor, could significantly reduce the time and effort required for the journey. The Guru brings experience which will highlight “what not to do” as well as “what to do.”
Guru Maharaj wrote a book on how to find a Guru. This book illustrated how to find a Guru, who will be able to take you through the whole journey and not just take you to the next milestone. He lucidly depicted the journey through the spheres of illusion, Maya, and described at what levels the Guru is required to guide you through each of these spheres of illusion, en route to the goal of self-realization.
Faith and belief are the foundation stones for spiritual progress; but blind faith leads to many problems.
Guru Maharaj clarified that if your current Guru can only guide you through a certain level, there is no harm getting another guide for the rest of the journey. But care must be taken, so this decision is not frivolously approached; especially when doubts and disenchantments may be part of our phase in the journey. On the other hand, based on real experience, an informed decision can be made regarding the current Guru’s inability to guide the journey beyond a certain point. Also, there are times when the Guru has transcended his physical body and the disciple’s ability to get direction and guidance may require another physical form. In that situation, a change may be considered. However, the Guru is not just a physical body. Self-realized (Atma-Gyani) Guru will continue to help through the journey, either in person or not. However, if you haven’t reached the state that you can stay connected with Guru’s divine powers, then you may need to find another Guru for the rest of the journey. Knowledge is infinite. If your Guru cannot take you to your goal, then seek the guidance of another Guru. However, after finding an Atma-Gyani Guru, you should stay with him.Go To Top
9. Do all worldly work with a spirit of service, not to rule or to own.
The presumption that the state of self-realization, or nirvana cannot be reached living in this world, leading a “normal” life, was questioned by Guru Maharaj.
Nirvana is thought to be associated with “giving up the world”. Many believe that since the world is causing misery and pain, “giving up the world” will allow them to reach nirvana and reach out for eternal peace.
One of the basic issues is ownership and the attachments caused by owning worldly possessions. For example, if you own a treasure, you may lose your sleep in trying to keep it safe. If the same treasure is owned by someone else and you are just a caretaker, you will do everything to keep it safe and do all the associated duties, but chances are you may not lose sleep over it.
Another recent story that may be very relevant took place in 19th century India. Shivaji was one of the valiant fighters for India’s freedom against the British. He started to feel proud of his wins and increasing power. Samaratha Guru Ramdas realized that Shivaji needed guidance. He came to Shivaji’s door for alms. Shivaji respectfully asked Guru Ramdas what he could offer to him, to which the Guru requested his kingdom. After agreeing to that and offering his kingdom to his Guru, he asked his Guru to allow him to proceed to the jungles and lead a spiritual life focused on Sadhana. The Guru replied back, “Sorry, Shiva. I will not ask you to do that”. Shivaji was perplexed, so he asked what else he should do. The Guru said, “You have a lot of work to do. Who will take care of my kingdom? Until now, you were thinking it as yours. Now it is mine, and you now have to serve my kingdom. Just the fact that it is mine, you should do your service with more devotion and work even harder towards its prosperity and towards the happiness of its people”.
Guru Maharaj wanted to instill this state of mind in every human and every sadhak. Rather than serving your family because of attachments, serve as if it is the Guru’s or God’s family and it is your duty to serve. Do all worldly work with a spirit of service, not to rule or own.Go To Top
10. Live in this world as a guest. Believe that someone else owns everything in this world. Leave “me and mine,” and learn “you and yours”.
We are all guests with a limited lifespan, on this planet Earth. We are very fortunate that we have taken a human form, where we have a unique opportunity to unravel the complex phenomena and achieve self-realization.
For example, when we travel and go on vacation, we would stay in a hotel or at a rented or borrowed place, or stay with a relative or a friend. If we were not allowed to bring anything and not allowed to take anything back, it would be like our lives. If the vacation is a long one, we get attached to the scenery, lifestyle, and luxuries and sometimes forget that all of it has to be given up.
If there is a skill that we need to learn, it is to live a life as if we were on vacation. Enjoy, have fun, but don’t get attached to it as this is not permanent. Guru Maharaj stated that when a guest comes to your house, you provide comfort in terms of food and lodging. However, the guest understands it is not his or her own. So, how about living in our own home as a guest! The losses won’t affect you as much; however, if you spoil your environment or cause any destruction, there will be a price to pay. Good behavior and creativity will increase the happiness, enjoyment, and fun, but all is still temporary. The losses, when they occur, will not hurt as much, either.
Do you worldly duties for someone else, and not for yourself. Live in this world as a guest. Believe that someone else owns everything in this world. Leave “me and mine,” and learn “you and yours”.