"A still mind is what gives me joy. There is so much joy that you won't believe it. Nothing else exists there. That is home."
What is the best form of service?
The best form of service is that which gives rise to humility. Whatever you do, if it curbs your arrogance, if it brings forth humility and good character, that is the best form of service. Gandhi was the father of the nation, yet he would pick up a broom and clean toilets.
Best service is one which cleanses us of our arrogance. In Mahabharat, Yuddhistir was to throw a huge celebration after his victory but the biggest question was: who do we honor first? Of the many teachers, many scholars, many gurus, who should go first in this vast land of Bharat, which at that time was five times India's size right now? They finally decided on Krishna. And after the yagna, what did Krishna do? He picked up all the dirty plates that people ate in!
Man's greatness lies in washing away his arrogance and doing the smallest of actions with utter humility. That is a holy person. Seva should be that which washes away your pride, where you insult no one and foster only goodwill for all. This is the best form of service.
How do you balance doing service in the world and transcending the world?
Very big question. Sansara doesn't let man be still. You forget yourself, your wisdom, your soul. But staying in between all this, you have to learn to be still.
Lotus is born in the water, is alive in the water and dies in that same filthy water. But till it's alive, it doesn't let the dirt of the water touch it. In the same way, the spiritual aspirant has to stay in the world but not let its dirty water affect oneself. That is the test. You can't escape sansara but you can be like the lotus.
What is the easiest way to find God?
Very good question. To find God, you have to churn through each step of cultivation. Temples, devotional songs, prayer beads, they are all useful junctions on the journey. Each step on the ladder is needed, but once you reach all the way to the top, you don't need the steps nor the ladder. So, in one way, you need everything but in another way, you don't need anything.
Each step on the ladder is a process and to find God, you have to go through all the processes. Ultimately, though, no stone, no mountain, no river will show you God. You have to find it within yourself. That is definite. Yes, you have to take pilgrimages, do serious cultivation, and pass through various dimensions of reality, because that is the mountain that you are climbing. But God is within. Once you find God inside you, you will see God in everyone.
Millions of people from all different religions comes to the Santram Temple. You are the chief of such a big temple, but then you just told me to 'know thyself'. Why have such a huge temple when God is within?
If a child is in kindergarten, he is learning his A-B-C-D's. You cannot expect him to gobble up volumes and volumes of literature. Similarly, you don't need to teach A-B-C-D's to someone who has done a PhD. Just like that, a young child uses a temple as a tool; after a while, they will concentrate on the idol and find peace; then, some day, meditation will happen naturally and they will have no need of the idol on the outside. You can't read PhD volumes when you don't know your A-B-C-D's, so everyone has to do their steps. You can't rush it, or avoid it. So that's why you need the temples, there is a place for idol-worship, even when God is within us.
Have you found God?
How can I tell myself? There is a path to God, and we are on that path. When we sit in sadhna, we touch our spirit and get 'darshan' of God; because God can't be found on the outside, it is simply an experience. We find that deep peace. And we get full confidence that God is in us, God is working for us, and God is working through us. The day we become separate from God, the body will cease to exist. God and 'I' are one. The body only exists so long as God exists in it. When God leaves the body, the body will die, people will throw it in a ditch, and it will disintegrate like everything else.
With perseverence, anyone can experience that God in themselves.
What's the biggest obstacle in finding God?
A weak mind is the biggest bump on our path to God. If you take a strong vow, nothing is impossible. A weak minded person can't reach anywhere, can't do anything. Man's problem is that small mundane things create too much tension and negativity; once you are able to move past that, everything is possible.
Our mind is deep but 'sansara' is shallow. If the mind gets weak, the shallow, mundane details of life will come to occupy it. Keep your mind strong, or you will sink in the waters of 'sansara'. An active mind is a peaceful mind.
What is the importance of a 'guru' in life?
Can you become a PhD without a teacher? No. You don't have any idea about what spirituality is, about where to go or what to do, so a guru will guide you on the way. It is the Guru who will tell you where to go, how far to go, in which direction, and what you will experience when you get there. To get a PhD or to get an MBBS, you need a teacher and in the same way, to make life fruitful, to realize yourself, you need a guru.
How does one find their 'guru'? Will he/she find you or do you have to search?
If you have developed the merits, your Guru will come to get you. If you are in search of God, sometimes the Guru can also make you roam around a bit. But, no doubt, you will definitely find your guru. Definitely. To reach the Guru, though, don't get trapped in any kind of miracles and magic. If you get caught in that, you won't be able to find a true teacher.
To find God, does it make a difference if you are married or not?
Why marry? To curb your roaming desires, to find oneness with your partner. Marriage is just another tool for a spiritual aspirant to move forward. It helps you become still, and in that stillness, you move closer towards God. If you move forward with sacrifice and stillness, you are on the right path.
A monk simply makes a few sacrifices and if he is still, he starts one step further. There is no other difference. One is just one step further, to start with. Otherwise, both are identical paths, and both lead to God.
What is your message to the youth of today?
Make best use of your God-given life. Instead of roaming the streets, chewing tobacco and whiling away time, make others happy. Make good use of all the tools you have. Serve others. Live in a such a way that others will remember you as a good citizen, a good person, someone who made a positive difference in the lives of others. Live long, but do good while being alive.
In this place of 'sant-ram', how would you state the key message of Ramayan?
In Ramayan, there are two key characters: Ram and Raavan. Both are very skilled, very knowledgeable, very powerful. But the difference between Ram and Raavan is how they use their powers. One uses it with humility for the benefit of others, and the other uses it with arrogance to boost his ego.
'Jaaha sumati vahaa sampati.' That is the key message of Ramayan. When there is humility and sacrifice, there is abundance. When Ram was in exile and Bharat was given the throne of the kingdom, he went to the forest to give it to his brother. This is what they call Ram-Rajya. The same thing happened in Lanka, but there Raavan fought with Vibhishaan to accumulate for himself and went into his own destruction. 'Jaaha Kumati, Vahaa Vipaati.' That is the key message of Ramayan.
Do you, Ram Dass Maharaj, ever become elated? Or is everything the same?
A still mind is what gives me joy. There is so much joy that you won't believe it. Nothing else exists there. That is home.
Then why do you come outside?
Duties. Why do people wake you up in the morning? :)
What is the purpose of your life?
By definition, a sincere saint is one who gives up all his desires. Our purpose is to simply merge into the infinite. Till man is alive, though, you can't escape karma. You are going to do something or another. But with that action, don't have any expectations. Don't bind yourself, don't work with ego. Then, like the lotus in the dirty water, you will bloom with beauty and stay free of the unnecessary bondages.
About the author, Nipun Mehta:
"Convinced that good is everywhere, we are walking in India, headed 'South' to find that good. At one level, we're profiling ordinary and extra-ordinary heroes so others know about them. At another level, we have left our homes and comforts in America to cultivate our own hearts, to develop our vision to see the good in all life. It's a journey, without a destination."
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