I have a question about feeling settled and calm. Sometimes I feel like I settle into complacency and I wonder if there’s a difference between these two kinds of being settled?
From the outside both look the same, but inside is a world of difference. One is called tamas; the other is called sattva. Tamas is unconsciousness or ignorance. Sattva is awakened. So what you have to do is this: whenever you get calm and quiet and settled, if it is complacency, do not accept that settlement. Get up and do some work. Complacency will not give you joy. Only real calm and quiet will give you joy. If by settlement, calm and quiet you are feeling inner joy, then try to maintain that. But whenever you feel complacent, sad, morose, squeezed or suffocated, do not give in to that. Get up and do something: vacuum, clean, jog—anything that is active. That is how to practice gradually until the mind comes to sattva.
To be waiting on God perfectly, will we be meditating all the time?
That is the meaning of meditation: when you are occupied with one thing. Even if you are doing ten activities, but if your thoughts are on your Goal, that is meditation. That is not the end though, but it will lead you to Realization of that upon which you are meditating. It will go on taking you toward your Goal, to be one with that. That is why I said in Retreat Into Eternity: “When you wait upon God you don’t know that you’re becoming God.”
When He calls you it ends all matters. There and then you will be free from all karmas. First you pay the price; sufferings do come. Then Nature, Mother Divine, is pleased with you. The time you see or meet your Lord it is done. You become one. In between you forget, you loiter, you squander, you lose, you become miserable. Then one day you will begin to purify yourself, to come back from wanderings and restlessness. You will come to stillness. Meditation leads to samadhi (spiritual absorption), to ecstasy. Then you become what He is because you are already born in His image.
You have talked about not suppressing and also about giving energy and focus to the Light rather than darkness. Are they somehow opposed to each other?
These are not opposed. These are simultaneous exercises. Let’s say you concentrate upon the Light, God, but your thoughts and desires are disturbing or distracting you. What I mean is: do not suppress these because they will remain and go on disturbing you. It is better to bring them out, to get them exposed; you see them in order to correct or get rid of them. If you hide your thoughts and desires you will not be able to clear them. See them, bring them out, so that you can clear them. Then your concentration on the Light will be much better.
Let’s say you are cleaning your house and you go on sweeping the dirt under the carpet or stuffing things behind the furniture and into cupboards. It may look clean but in your heart you know it is not. I come to your house and I say, “You must clean it.” You are thinking, “I just cleaned it,” but I said to keep the house clean, not to make the house “look” clean. In the same way, when I say, “Meditate upon Light,” I don’t mean to look as if you are meditating upon Light. When you are suppressing or hiding something, if you bring it out it may look ugly. For the time being you will not be able to meditate upon the Light, naturally. But go on seeing, witnessing, observing and cleaning your mind. Then you will be able to meditate.
Is there a danger of dwelling on darkness too much?
Yes, too much should be avoided. Any excess is bad because you will lose the impetus, incentive or inspiration to meditate. Somewhere there should be a limit of self-condemnation or dwelling upon the darkness. Some people may take advantage of this, thinking: why should I repent? Why should I find fault with myself if that is crippling? You have to see your ugly side if it is there in order to correct it, but too much self-condemnation is not healthy. Where you feel gloomy, helpless or depressed, then you have done too much. But if you feel humbled, resigned, relaxed and peaceful, then it is helpful. Relaxation has to come after defeat. If you do not feel defeated you have not changed. By not being defeated I mean you are still being stubborn, holding on to ego at any cost. When you feel resigned and defeated, where you give up ego, then your relaxation will be true.
Swamiji, what is the relationship between work, discipline, art and supreme Liberation?
When you travel you leave something behind but you come back. Just as a scientist, an artist or poet may withdraw for the time being to do their work, they again come back. In the same way, when you attain supreme Liberation you “come back” having more than before. You encompass and embrace all. But for the time being, in the cleansing process, you may not attend to other things, which is understandable.
You are bound by your karmas to work. When you are liberated you will also work, but you will not be bound by karmas. You just act out of joy. Until then, work is needed as a discipline. Undisciplined work will put you in more darkness and bondage, so employ discipline. After Liberation you are beyond discipline. You are master of your destiny.
Art gives you beauty and inspiration. Work would be crude if there was no art. The purpose of art is to elevate you. It could also be degrading, but that is when it is misused. Your life is an art. That is why we call it truth, beauty and goodness. Supreme Liberation ultimately does not cancel anything. It only fulfills, perfectly. Otherwise your work, discipline and art are not fully satisfying. After Liberation you are fully satisfied.
© 2015 by Truth Consciousness. Excerpted from the Satsangs: Struggles and Miseries
(P-11), Finding the Perfect Master
Waiting on God
(I-7), and Life Delightful and Noble
(A-22). You can listen to live recordings of these and many other spiritual teachings of Swami Amar Jyoti. Visit our website at truthconsciousness.org
and click on Publications.