04 April 2014, Amritapuri
Seashore Meditation and Question & Answer Session
Question: Amma, if everything is Brahman—if I am Brahman, you are Brahman, the microphone is Brahman—then what is the need for all these spiritual practices aimed at purifying the mind?
Amma: Son, tap water is water, the water in the backwaters is water, seawater is water and filtered water is also water. But do you drink all of them? No. Similarly, water can be 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 40 degrees, 100 degrees… But only boiled water will purify away all the germs. Brahman is the principle of love. That love is like a ladder with several rungs. The lowest rung of love is selfish—like when you love the cow because you love the milk. When the cow dries up, you sell it to the butcher. It is also love, but a low-level love. From there we have to rise to true love, to selfless love.
It’s true: Everything is Brahman. But are you able to see that truth when being scolded, criticized, mocked, even beaten? If you can remain peaceful and maintain your mental equipoise in such circumstances, then there is nothing more to purify. Until then, practices such as meditation, chanting mantras, etc, are required.
Once there were two sadhus. They had been fasting all day and were hungry. Earlier, they had received some food as alms, but they were waiting until the sun set to eat. They came to a river and decided to stop for the night. One sadhu wanted to take a bath before eating. When he entered the water, the other sadhu started to eat. When he had finished his share, he was still hungry. He thought for a moment and then decided to eat the other sadhu’s share as well. When the other sadhu returned, he asked where his food was. The first sadhu replied by referring to a verse in the Bhagavad-Gita, saying, “Whether you eat it or I eat it, the same vaishvanara fire is digesting.” Understanding that this meant that he had eaten all of the food, the second sadhu picked up a stick and started beating him. The first sadhu yelled, “Stop! What are you doing?” The second sadhu replied by citing another Gita verse: “Weapons do not cleave the Self, fire does not burn it….”
Children, you cannot use aham brahmasmi [“I am Brahman”] as a justification to trample on the rights of others. On the contrary, one who truly knows aham brahmasmi cannot even think of hurting others. When you know that you are Brahman, the hunger of other people becomes your hunger. The sorrow of other people becomes your sorrow. The joy of other people becomes your joy. If this is your experience, then there is nothing more to purify.
We should see everyone and every situation in this world as a mirror. At present, when someone scolds us, we feel sorrow. When someone shows us love, we feel joy. So, use that to understand that when you scold others, they also feel sorrow, and when you show them love, they feel joy. In this way, we can learn from our experiences and expand our sense of self.
If you can see goodness everywhere, then there is no need for chanting mantras, doing puja, or any other form of spiritual practice. You don’t need anything.
If you see that someone has fallen into a ditch and you say, “He is Brahman, the ditch is Brahman” and keep on walking, then there is something wrong with your understanding. If you really see him as Brahman, you will help him out. Compassion will arise within you.
If someone scolds you, mocks you, gets angry at you, you must invoke that knowledge and discriminate “I am not the body. I am not the mind. Who is there separate from me with whom to become angry?” and maintain your equanimity. If you can do that, then that is sufficient.
Until then, we need to continue doing spiritual practices and other observances that will help us purify the mind.
At this same time, just because everything is Brahman doesn’t mean that we will go drink sewer water. Knowledge should be practical. We should see the frog as a frog and the elephant as an elephant. See the dog as a dog, the cat as a cat. Don’t see an elephant as a frog or a frog as an elephant. Understand the nature of this world and the things in it and accept. Knowing the nature of a dog, you won’t be surprised when it barks. Barking is a dog’s nature. If you know firecrackers are about to go off, you won’t be shocked when they explode. But if you don’t know, you may even faint.
Children, we need nitya-anitya vivekam—the ability to discern between what is permanent and what is temporary. At the same time we need practicality. This is why it is important to study the scriptures.
Once there was man who learned from his guru that everything is Brahman. One day he and his brother were walking when a dog charged toward them. The brother ran, but the man stood firm. His brother said, “Hey! Run! It’s a rabid dog!” The man still didn’t move. The dog bit him. The next day he complained to his guru, “Hey, you told me that everything is Brahman. I thought, ‘I am Brahman, the dog is Brahman. Why should I run?’ But still I got bit.” The guru responded, “Why couldn’t you see your brother who was instructing you to run as Brahman as well?”
Until you have proper insight, you need to put in effort to purify your mind, you need to discriminate neti neti—“Not this, not this.” You need to study the scriptures.
Speak good always, do good always, think good always. Stay away from bad influences. This is how we should live our life.