With Dada Vaswani in Santa Clara
[Below is a transcript of an open-mic Q&A that Dada Vaswani held in Santa Clara, California. It was in front of a thousand person audience, featuring mayors from nine local cities, and moderated by Nipun Mehta.]
Q: "Today's theme is self empowerment. Is that a continuous journey or a destination?"
Dada: It can be both. If you get the grace of the guru of God, it can be a destination. If you are doing it on your own, it can be a journey.
Q: "It's very hard to live in the present moment. My mind keeps on wandering. Do you have any suggestions on how I can still my mind?"
Dada: Tame the mind. Make friends with the mind. Speak to the mind and tell the mind that if it stays in the moment, it will be happy. Both you and mind will be happy. Once a mind understands, it will cooperate with you.
Q: "How do we find our purpose in life?" You talked about duty. How do you find duty?"
Dada: There are 2 purposes -- a general purpose and a specific purpose. The general purpose is that we grow in perfection. "I should be more perfect today than I was yesterday. I should be more perfect tomorrow than I am today." That is the general purpose, but there is a specific purpose, which only you can perform. No one else can do it. That specific purpose, I'll tell you, your guru will tell you or you will have to enter into the depths within and it will be revealed to you.
Q: "How do we motivate the next generation when they say everything is okay as it is?"
Dada: If you want to influence those that are around you, you must be careful about your own life. You should live in such a way that you become role models for your children, for those that are around you. The difficult thing is that in words we tell them many things, but if my life does not cooperate, it does not work. That is what is going to affect the children, your life.
Q: "You speak about the need to surrender. Can you share a little bit about what does surrender mean and surrender to what?"
Dada: Surrender, simply understood, means accepting the will of God. Whatever is happening is happening according to the will of God. When you surrender, you accept the will of God. I visited a house some time ago. The father had died leaving behind 2 daughters. One of the daughters was reading from the scripture, and the other one was shedding tears, pulling her hair, crying. The first one had surrendered. The second one had not learned the lesson of surrender. We have to surrender. We have to ensure that our will is in harmony with the will of God.
Q: "You talk about the importance of getting initiated by a living master, but you don't initiate yourself. Why is that?"
Dada: I don't because I'm not worth it.
Q: "Life is so busy and complex. How then do we have time to be spiritual and to be stress free?"
Dada: You have time for everything, but you don't got time for the most important of all things. That is spirituality. In your daily routine, you can easily spare 15 minutes, half an hour. You must have a period of silence every day. This is spirituality. In a day and night cycle, God gives us 1,440 minutes. Give the first minute to God. When you wake up in the morning even before you open your eyes, before you leave your bed, thank the Lord, "Thank you Lord for giving me this gift of a new rise to the day. Thank you Lord for taking care of my throughout the night. I was sleeping. You were awake." This doesn't take more than a minute, but we don't do it because we don't have the heart to do it.
Q: "You stress a lot about this idea of service, seva. Can you share a little bit about the importance of seva in our lives?"
Dada: When we do seva, when we serve others, when we give happiness to others, our heart expands. Our heart is the place in which we really have to stay after we give up this body. After we give up this body, our home will be in our hearts. Now is the opportunity to widen it. Therefore, do as much seva as you can.
Q: "In real life, not spiritual life, good people suffer. Bad people enjoy. Why?"
Dada: Good people suffer because they are not good enough. They need a little more suffering to become better. Bad people enjoy because they have been good in the past, and they are drawing upon their goodness which they've shown in the past.
Q: "Can you share a little bit on forgiveness?"
Dada: The best giving is forgiving. If you forgive, you do good to yourself. Maybe you don't do any good to the person whom you're serving when you forgive, but you do good to yourself. If you have regret in your mind, you're all the time suffering. There was a young man, 23 years old. He had suffered from no disease, and suddenly he passed away. They asked the doctor, "What was the reason that he passed away?" The doctor said, "He suffered from a new disease which we call grudgeitis." He carried grudges against people. That killed him.
Q: "How do we not carry the grudge?"
Dada: By forgiving. If you're against anybody, somebody is often against you. This form, this body -- you are not the bodies. You are something else, something that can make no mistake. Always focus your attention on that.
Q: "Everyone wants to be somebody. You talk about being nobody. Can you talk a little bit about humility and the power of humility? It seems to go against what the mainstream society is teaching us."
Dada: Talking about humility will not make you humble. I may talk volumes on humility, but it would have no affect on you. You have to be humble. It is being, not talking that makes the difference. After all, what are you? What is this whole earth? Sir James was a scientist, who writes in book, that this whole earth is only a speck of dust in the Sahara of space. This whole earth is a speck of dust. What is America? It is a speck of a speck of dust. What is San Francisco? It is a speck of a speck of a speck. What is this Convention Center in Santa Clara? Speck of a speck of a speck of a speck. What are you? A speck of a speck of a speck of a speck of a speck. Of what are you proud?
Q: "What is the solution to end terrorism? How do we end all the fighting and the wars in the world today? What would you recommend to us?"
Dada: Terrorism is first due to the times we live in. We have 4 Yugas. There is the Satya Yuga. There is the Treta Yuga. There is the Dwapara Yuga. There is the Kali Yuga. This is due to Kali Yugs. You may not believe it, but there is the law -- do unto others, it will be that unto you. Now, for a century, we have been killing animals. No one wants to be killed. No one likes to be killed. We kill and we eat their flesh. Perhaps it is recording on us. We are terrorists to those animals.
Q: "Does one have the power to change a bad luck streak?"
Dada: You have the power to change it. The power is with you, provided you live in that way; life that is needed not words. If you live in that way, you can change the power.
Q: "How to control my temper when my children don't listen to me?"
Dada: Your children may not listen to you, but don't stop telling them. You keep on doing your duty. Each one has his duty to perform. It is the duty of the parent to keep on telling their children to move in the right direction. It is the duty of the children to listen. The children won't do their duty, well, should you give up your duty? Your duty is to keep on telling them.
Q: "How to kill the ego? Is it practical?"
Dada: It is. I'll tell you, take ... what is the name of the medicine?
Q: "Not vertigo, Dada. Ego." [Laughs]
Dada: Oh, ego! You can't kill the ego. You can't do that alone, you need the body. I thought you said vertigo. [Laughs]
Q: "What is the right relationship to money?"
Dada: Money is given us to make others happy. We had a man, a judicial commissioner. He used to get a salary every month, but he used to keep only 20% for himself. 80% he used to give to those that were in need. He knew the right use of money. After all, we leave money behind. We don't carry it with us. It is our greed that is attached to money and we like to keep more and more of them, so much so that if a person dies, the first question that people ask is, "How much did he leave behind?" You should how did he take with him? We don't ask that!
Q: "How do I focus on offering my work to the Divine when I'm really focusing on getting ahead, which is self-centered?"
Dada: That is up to you. If you give your heart to God, you will be able to. It all depends upon you.
Q: "How do you keep your memory so sharp? I know there is no pill for that."
Dada: Your blessings.
Q: "You talk about kindness to animals. Should we still consume dairy products, like ice cream?"
Dada: Dairy products, provided the cows are treated well, there's no harm. The cow was regarded as a mother of the family. There was a time when every family had a cow and the cow was regarded as the mother. If the cow is treated well, you can take all the ice cream in the world.
Q: "How do you find the balance between being me centered - but it's not just me, it's me and my family - and doing and then being service oriented?"
Dada: Your duty is first to your family. After their reasonable needs are met, you can go out and serve others. You must first look after your family members. Their reasonable needs.
Q: "What should I do if my parents don't approve of my very good friend? Any advice on relationship with parents?"
Dada: This varies from case to case, but if a general answer is to be given, I think it will be better if you follow your parents.
Q: "How do you differentiate between the will of the karmic flow, the will of God, and then the will of our ego?"
Dada: If it is the will of the karmic flow, it will flow, whatever you do. You will not be able to prevent it. It will flow. Your will may work or not, but the karmic will is bound to flow. You can't change it. You can change it, but you can change it only as much as the karmic flow permits. Ultimately, it is the karmic flow, yes.
Q: What suggestion do you have for the world moving forward? Is the world moving in the right direction or not?
Dada: The world is always going in the right direction. It is taking us now to a new age. A new age is about to dawn. Accounts are being settled. All these things that you see, it is the settling up of our times. A new age is going to come.
Q: Why do you say that?
Dada: I get that feeling in moments of silence, yes. I may be wrong, but it is good always to be optimistic.
Q: What advice do you have for the younger generation?
Dada: Be simple, be strong, and spend your strength in the service of others.
Q: What gives you the greatest happiness when you look out in a moment?
Dada: When people tell me that they will not kill animals, that gives me joy.
Q: Is seva a sacrifice or is it an offering full of love and life?
Dada: Seva is not a sacrifice usually. In some cases, it is a sacrifice, but it is an offering. God has given us so much. Only a portion of it, we give back to God. It is an offering, but I remember we were in Calcutta in the years of famine. The Hunger Association had held a meeting to call in donations. My Guru was there, Sadhu Vaswani. He presided over that meeting. There was a woman who came clothed in rags. She brought a 2 paisa coin. In those days, they were 2 paisa coins. She brought the coin and said, "This is all I have, and I offer it." That was sacrifice. That was sacrifice. All of the lenders said to Sadhu Vaswani, "Give this coin back to the woman. Of what use would it be to us 2 paisa?" Sadhu Vaswani said, "This coin is worth all the collection that you get, the thousands that you get because this is sacrifice."
There was a meeting and donations were being collected. A basket went round. The basket came in front of man, who said, "Keep the basket down." They said, "Why?" He said, "Keep the basket down." He went and sat in the basket. He said, "I offer myself." That was sacrifice.
Q: "To end, can you tell us a story when you were earlier in your journey and your teacher, Sadhu Vaswani, taught you a very important lesson that has stayed with you?"
Dada: I remember the very first lesson that he taught me. Sadhu Vaswani purchased fruit from a street vendor but before asking for the fruit, he gave him a currency note. He said, "Here is money. You take it, and give me this fruit." When the fruit seller calculated the arithmetic of it, he shouts at Sadhu Vaswani, "Thank you very much," because he had got the money already. I spoke rudely to that fruit seller and said, "What are you doing? Taking advantage of a holy man?"
That afternoon, Sadhu Vaswani would not take lunch. If he did not take lunch, we would not take lunch because he was our guru. Normally he used to take a 12:00 lunch. At 1:00, he didn't take lunch. 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, he didn't take. Then I asked him, "Have you done any wrong that you aren't eating?" He said, "How did you speak to that man, that fruit seller? Who was that fruit seller? That fruit seller was God wearing the mask of a fruit seller. You spoke to God vulgarly." This was the first lesson. It has stuck. It has stuck. You all are gods. It is my duty to speak to you and to show respect to you in every way.
Q: Thank you. It's time to close. Would you have any closing words for us?
Dada: Closing? closing, always never close. Be always on the march.