Whoever attends only to the feeding of his own body, doing no good to others and constantly avoids his own duty and not seeking liberation from the bondage caused by ignorance, kills himself.
He who seeks to know himself while pampering of the body is crossing a river holding onto a crocodile in mistake for a log.
Extract from Vive Kachudamani by Adi Shankaracharya
I did not want to go. I had travelled to that land of dreams. It was a light, serene place, a restful place. I had gone from life on this Earth. I had left the pain and the heat and gone away; away from my tired, sick body.
But when I heard him his voice was music itself. It threaded my soul back into sinewy surrounds, into the cavities of bone and flesh. Breath was born in my lungs again and my heart reverberated to the sound of his voice. It was my heart which heard his call. Then my ears responded, muffled as they were. My hands tried to pull the cloth from my face. There was the scent of aloes and of myrrh. My steps were slow and weak, my limbs numb. I leaned on the wall with one hand as I came, dragging the weighted linen which wrapped me. Blinded by the light, I felt the shock, the indrawn breath of the crowd but I couldn’t see them.
Then my sister Martha touched me warily. I could smell the wood smoke and warm bread in her hair. Her tears wet my cheek. Then Mary, my other sister, held my hand, rubbing the numbness out. I felt like a child again: their little brother once more, to be cosseted and plied with grapes and oranges.
Then Jesus held a lamp before my eyes and asked me to see. First the lamplight and then his dear face came into focus. We were all smiling. But later Mary came to me when I was resting. She looked troubled.
“Lazarus, this will not pass unnoticed by the men who would harm him. I fear we are near the end. They cannot bear his miracles”.
And Mary Magdalene was with us then. She was the one who saw more than the rest of us. She was completely devoted to Jesus. She came into the room holding the alabaster jar she had bought some time back.
“He will be going soon. We must prepare,” she said.
I was still dazed, not ready to understand the sadness in her eyes.
After supper she came with a basin and water to wash his feet and then rubbed them dry with her hair, weeping silently. Then she broke the top from the jar and poured the perfumed oil onto his feet and tenderly rubbed them. The rest of us sat in silence; except for a late bird ringing its bell tone in the tree outside, everything was stilled as we breathed the rich perfume. Then one of his companions said to Mary as she gathered up the shards.
“But this was valuable ointment. You are an extravagant woman. Why did you not put its price in the poor-box?”
Then Jesus spoke across Mary’s bent head, “There will always be poor people needing money. But Mary has seen what is coming. She understands my destiny. Did you not see her tears? She knows I am soon to leave you.”
He understood our hearts so well. I looked around at his companions, the men he had chosen. Some looked uncertain, puzzled by Mary’s act and by his reproof of Judas. Judas himself did not speak again but looked away, his lips tightly pressed.
A few, like John and I, had unshed tears. But we really didn’t understand him as well as Mary had. What harm could come to him? He who had this day called me back from the grave where I’d been lain three days before? Who could challenge such a commander of men as this?
Now that the year is past I can see that he came back to us four years ago, from the land of Hinde, the land of the Magi, only because he knew he must be killed. He had to allow the terrible, cruel will of the most aggressive men to manifest fully. Only then could he show the power of our Spirit which transcends all. My little death and return was not enough.
There were moments in the days which followed my return, after he was taken, when I could have wished he had not called me back. When we heard that they were torturing him, we could hardly even bear to breathe.
And later, after he and his mother, who is Mother of us all, after they’d gone away to Hinde, then, it seemed to me that it still was not ended: that the proof he’d shown would not be enough yet for people to change, to make themselves like him. There was still so much sadness in our lives.
When we were with him we could see and feel the truth of all that he said. He was clearly the manifest love of our Father. Even the dust of the roads couldn’t dull the radiance of his person. His body was fragrant, as if the flowers gave their perfume to him as he passed. The air around him shimmered and wherever his eyes looked colours grew brighter. His voice cooled our inner ear and caused our restless minds to expand into holy spaces.
But for all that, we couldn’t change the world when he had gone. The light went with him. Only his mother could comfort us then. She was truly a warrior’s mother. Later we realized that she had always known he was to be the sacrifice ─ apparent sacrifice, for death had no power over him. But in the days of darkness when we thought he had gone from us it was his mother, Mary, who drew us together and kept us from drowning in our grief.
We had gone to her house thinking to comfort her, to give voice to our mourning. We discovered her serene. She was arranging flowers in a vase and smiled a little at our pale faces and offered us food and comfort. As more and more people came she greeted each one with words of courage and nourished their poor faint bodies with fresh grape juice and wholesome bread. Some were shocked to find her so calm, so queenly. Had we not seen and shared her great pain? Seen through our tears as we’d witnessed his dying? As we’d clung together in that dark, dreadful place? But now, so soon after, she is untroubled. I marvelled at her nobility as she took each newcomer into her care. We had become quite a crowd, mostly silent but absorbed in the tranquility she spread about us.
Then we heard lively footsteps and all turned towards the doorway. Stephen appeared, glowing, overflowing with joy, breathless from his haste. His words were unbelievable. I thought at first I’d misheard him saying, “He is risen.” But there was no mistake. He looked directly across the room to Mary. Our eyes followed his and through our tears again we saw her smile and move her head in gentle affirmation, “Yes.”
Our hearts filled, and it is wonderful that we did not all leap up and exclaim and make a great noise. I imagine that the silence then was like it must have been at his first birth in that stable when his radiance and hers must have filled every living thing around with awe and peace. Then I understood how she had been able to fill us all with quiet satisfaction, with her own calm. She had always been so sure of him, this mother of warriors. She was absolutely certain of the ability of her son to transcend even death. He had always been like that. And they had known each other from before the beginning of the world. It was with this new awareness that she began to prepare us for the battles we were all to face in the years to follow.
(Photograph: The Resurrection of Lazarus by Jean Jouvenet. Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)
On a foggy Fourth of July morning, 2007, the San Diego Sahaja Yogis set up a booth at the Standley Park Fair in Clairemont. We finished setting up by 8:30 am and were all set to spread the message of Sahaja Yoga to the crowds that were starting to trickle in. There were only a couple of us, as it was still early in the morning.
At about 9 am, a little girl in a brown dress and a bright, neon-yellow windbreaker walked up to our booth. She couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. We observed for a minute or so as she read the poster set up in front of the booth. Then Keona asked her if she would like to try meditating. The little girl said she was open to it. We went through the experience of Self-realisation with her, and she seemed to enjoy it immensely. We asked her what her name was and she said it was Emily.
Emily left the Sahaja Yoga booth, but twenty minutes later she was back. She just stood by our booth, smiled at us and waved as we were giving Realisation to other seekers. She did this about four or five times during the day. Since this was a Fourth of July fair, there were lots of other attractions for the children – face-painting, drawing contests, a balloon parade and many other events. Emily would go away from our booth, but kept returning as if the tremendous vibrations kept pulling her back.
About two hours later, she came back, this time with her mother. And then she came back with two friends, and soon a small crowd started forming in front of our booth. At one point, our entire booth was filled! We had about six children and seven mothers and other ladies crowded into our little tent, and the more the people saw this, the more they were interested in what was going on. We had to borrow extra chairs from our tent neighbours and the organisers, and people were spilling out of our allotted space to get their Realisation.
Everyone got their Realisation, and we had a long list of names of people interested in starting a new Sahaja Yoga meeting in that area. The vibrations were tremendous because the children all had their Kundalinis up in no time! And little Emily joined them a second time to sit down and meditate with us. It was the sweetest experience to see this little Angel with light in her eyes and a big smile on her face enthusiastically telling everyone about the Sahaja Yoga booth. She kept pointing people to our booth even when she was in line for the rock-climbing wall or the face-painting booth.
Towards the end of the day, she came back to the booth, hugged Keona tightly and just smiled. She said she would love to come back to meditate some more. We told her mother that she was a very special child, a Realised soul who recognised the significance of the work we were doing. We asked her mother to please bring her to every meeting once we started.
We haven’t stopped talking about our little Angel whose innocence did Shri Mataji’s great work for us that day like a little Shri Ganesha, Shri Hanumana and all the Shakti powers rolled into one!
Viraj and Keona Talpade
San Diego, USA
How blessed we are to have Nature’s bounty ─
The rolling seas, the boundless sky, the Earth
Which provides us with food and shelter
And yields untold riches for use by Man.
No need to ask; no need to beg or grovel or plead.
The bounteous Earth just gives and gives and gives.
Yet, if we do not have respect for the Earth
And use and destroy in the name of greed
Mother Earth unleashes her fury.
The crux is in the balance ─ the ability to take
With respect, to make amends when we can,
To know that Earth’s gifts are irreplaceable,
To acknowledge our puniness in the face of Might.
We know too well the dangers and horrors
Of vengeful Earth, the unruly consequence
Of Man’s pride, greed and arrogance.
We need to find a different way.
With respect for Mother Earth and all Her gifts
We can live in harmony with the Earth
And with all the creatures She upholds.
God grant that we change our wasteful ways.