When Moved by Love Friends Met Dada Vaswani
[In June, various friends of Moved by Love came together in Pune to support the recovery of our friend Neerad. En route, we had the occasion to meet Dada Vaswani and below is a transcript.]
Sheetal: Dada, we are all pilgrims on the path, and have had our certain journeys, and yet have long ways to go. We seek your guidance (on the path home).
Dada: Love and truth go hand in hand. I wonder if you have heard the name of the French girl professor Simone Weil. She has written a number of books and also a few notebooks. In one of the notebooks, she writes “I went out in quest of truth, and I fell into the arms of love.” So beautifully put. Truth and love go together. Beauty and love go together.
Now you tell me something ...
Sheetal: My experience has been that whenever I come to see you, I come with a few questions but when I am sitting here, I don’t have the questions. This time, I decided to ask around and wrote down a few questions ahead of time because we are aware that our time with you is so. If I may ask, I have a few questions on behalf of all of us.
Dada: Who am I to guide? I need guidance. But the little that I know is always at your service.
Sheetal: Dada, last time we met, you mentioned that in each of us, there is a spiritual heart in the centre (of our chest) and in that there is a cave. And in that cave the Lord resides. How can we find our way into this cave.
Dada: The way is the way of silence. Therefore we are asked to practice silence everyday, preferably at the same time, preferably at the same place. Go and sit in in silence and commune with God. Closer is he than breathing, nearer than
We have only to call and he is here. The nearest of the near, the dearest of the dear. And he is the source of all strength, power, dynamism. The bulb in itself is of no use, is worth nothing. It is only when electricity passes through it, that it gives light. That electricity is missing.
Sheetal: So are you suggesting that when we sit in silence, we connect to that source of electricity?
Dada: Yes! Yes! The difficulty is that we don’t find time for silence. We find time for everything else, but not for silence. There are people who are afraid of sitting in silence. They are really afraid, they want noise. People get up in the morning and the first thing they do before washing their face is to switch on the TV. Whether anyone listens to it or not is not the concern. They like to live in a world of noise. We need to detach ourself.
I often feel that silence is the mother of God. It is in the womb of silence that God is born.
Sheetal: You often speak of reverence as the root of education, and service its fruit. How may we grow in reverence, for all of life, for all of creation. Could you please help us understand what reverence means.
Dada: In the beginning was the One. We read in an ancient scripture “In the beginning was the One. And the One said to itself, I am One, let me be Many. Ekoham Bahushiyami. And that one trod the tracks of time, the One entered the fields of space and the Universe was born.
Within every atom, there is the presence of God. And if there is the presence of God in every atom, for us it would be natural to treat everyone with reverence.
Sheetal: Recognition of God in every atom leads to reverence?
Dada: Yes, yes! There is not an atom that is without God. There are rings in an atom. And the electrons keep on popping. It appears that this table is solid. There is nothing solid in this. It appears to be solid. That is what brings science, physics closer to spirituality.
But if I am mistaken you will kindly correct me.
Sheetal: Last time we spoke about life being free will or destiny. And you said it is both, however the wise person freely surrenders his free will. Dada, what is the role of effort and what is the role of effortlessness? When do we know to act, or not act and let go?
Dada: The first thing that I must understand is that I cannot act on my own. It is only when electricity flows through me that I can act. So apart from that I cannot act at all. The question is solved.
Sheetal: So without electricity we cannot even move an inch? So where is the question of us doing anything? So in that case is life happening to us, around us?
Dada: Electricity is the worker, but much depends upon the conductors through which it works. One conductor may be more dynamic than another. That is the difference. In the measure in which we surrender, there is the difference.
Sheetal: How do we become better instruments of serving, of allowing the divine to function through us?
Dada: We don’t allow the Divine to work through us but we entreat the Divine to accept us as It’s instruments. It is the Divine obliging us. Once the Divine accepts us we get the true treasure of life which is interior peace. If you have peace of mind, you need nothing else, you are fortunate. If you have everything, but not peace of mind, then you are a pauper. That is why the whole world is sunk in sorrow, because they are running after objects forgetting the central principle, which is peace of mind. Peace of mind is the central pole of the tent. If the central pole falls, the tent cannot stand.
Sheetal: St Francis of Asissi would speak something similar to what you shared about entreating the Lord. He said “Make me an instrument of your peace.” As you were speaking, I could imagine him saying the same words. It is beautiful the way you shared what you did.
How can we grow in our giving? How can we cultivate a heart of giving? How to overcome selfishness?
Dada: We are selfish because we think of ourselves as individuals, as if I am apart from you. But if I and you become part of the One, there will be no selfishness. If the teeth bite the tongue, neither the teeth or tongue will mind as they are one. This has been lost through the centuries. I believe this was the way people thought in what we call Satyuga.
Sheetal: So it is a disconnection from Source. So is our journey back to Oneness?
Dada: Yesterday (June 21st) was Yoga day. But Yoga is not these physical exercises. Yoga is a return, a return to your true home.
Sheetal: How can we be skillful in sharing Dharma with people around us?
Dada: Life!! Not words. Difficulty is I talk of goody-goody things, but my life does not bear witness to it. That is why my words have no effect on anybody. It is life that impresses.
Sheetal: You often say “Religion cannot be taught, it can only be taught.” This is similar to our life is our message. Right?
Sheetal: On the path, should we be focusing on inner work, self purification, sadhana or outer service, seva? Please could you explain, expand on this?
Dada: The first thing we need to understand is that we have been given life so that we may help as many as we can. Seva.
But seva requires energy and that energy you get from sadhana. Whatever energy you get from sadhana you come and spend it in seva. So seva and sadhana are the two sides of a coin, the same coin.
Personal salvation is not permitted. The man who wants personal salvation has to come over and over again.
Sheetal: Could you please share about the Bodhisatva path? Is the Bodhisatva path a natural way to Oneness?
Natural way to oneness is higher even than Bodhisatva. Gautama Buddha had to pass through many births, he was not a Bodhisatva in one birth. He had to take on the births of Bodhisatva before he became a Buddha.
“Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
But that perfection has to be all round perfection. Not perfection in one aspect. Therefore you have to become a Bodhisatva many times over before you enter that super-state for which you have been born.
Sheetal: Thank you Dada. Feeling so full. And at the same time empty.
Dada: Empty, yes, empty
Sheetal: You have emptied me, and at the same time I have received so much. Thank you so much.
Interaction between Dada and Nimo
Dada: Duniya main khaali haath aaye hain, phir who khaali haath bhi idhar hi choddke jaana hain. Haath bhi nahi lekar jaana hain.
When you leave this world, you will leave your hands behind. What belongs to the earth goes to the earth.
I spent a long time runnin’
I never knew then, what I know I know now,
That the fruits they always comin’
But you can’t go around just knockin’ them down
It takes a long time to showin’
We plant the seeds then, and we look at them now,
But the roots are always growin’
No matter if I’m there or never around…
Interaction between Dada and Pratyush
Pratyush who is just back from one year of walking the Narmada Parikrama an ancient Indian pilgrimage to cultivate fakiri (detachment) and devotion sought Dada's guidance.
Dada: One should be a fakir at heart. A true fakir has three qualities:
Fikr, even the word fakir comes from the word fikr, one without worry. The second is Zikr Third is pyaas, thirst, longing in the heart for God.