About Hope, Mind, and Experiences

Guruji: “The feeling of hopelessness has two very different meanings. One is, a person had some setbacks and he lost hope. This is called getting hopeless on the way of pursuing something. The other one is, the person didn’t carry any hope in his endeavor right from the beginning. This is beginning hopelessly, but there was faith that propelled him to move forward. The latter can take a person to great heights, because whatever will happen with him will be unexpected and thus will bring more joy in his life!

“An old Hindi poem describes this feeling of hopelessness most beautifully! It goes like this:

चिंता क्या है धरती टूटी उड़ने को आकाश बहुत है
जाने क्यूँ तुमसे मिलने की आशा कम विश्वास बहुत है
(Why worry if the earth breaks, there is unending sky for my flight
Don’t know why but to meet you I have very little hope but a lot of faith)”

Q: “So that means faith is more important than hope.”

Guruji: “Undoubtedly! Hope is only our imagination. Though I agree that hope helps a person ride through the gravest of the situations, but ultimately it also causes a lot of pain. A person should have faith in himself, and should not let hope control his life. We should all have a general plan of our lives in our mind.”

Q: “Is that what the sloka in Gita ‘Karmanye vadhikaraste ma faleshu kadachana’ refers to?”

Guruji: “I think it is described somewhere in the second or third chapter in Gita, about hopelessness. Read it in detail, it’s simply amazing.”

Q: “Yes it’s written here, chapter 3, sloka 30:
अध्यात्म चित्त से समस्त कर्म मुझमे अर्पित कर निराश और निर्मम होकर संताप रहित हुआ युद्ध कर ।

(With a spiritual resolve of mind, offering all karmas unto me, with hopelessness and detachment (nirmam), without being infuriated, go fight the war).”

Guruji: “Nirmam means a state of mind when the feeling of I, me, myself, or mine is not there. It doesn’t mean being cruel. Try to break down the word and then read its meaning. Mam means ‘mine’, and so nirmam means something that’s ‘not mine’. This word has no correlation with cruelty, but in general Hindi it is used for cruelty and barbarism. But the truth is, to be cruel is one thing, and to be nirmam is another. I feel that by just dissecting the words in a language carefully, we can understand a lot of things on our own.”

Q: “Guruji, I wonder what should we do about our mann (mind or heart). It just keeps controlling our lives forever.”

G: “Mind is itself a form of the divine (bhagvatswaroop). Its task is to control our lives. And the reason behind it is that its destination, the plan of its destiny, is already fixed. That’s why the mind should be observed along with our habits. There are two kinds of minds – the outer mind and the inner mind. One should always listen to the voice inside. This will always guide you according to your true capabilities and the plan of your destiny, and will bloom the flowers of dreams and desires in you to propel you towards your destiny.

“Don’t ever believe anybody who claims that he has controlled his mind and let go of his desires. And I can say so because it’s mentioned in Gita itself that mind is Time only! How can anybody control or kill Time? If we proceed according to the plan Time has for us, it will guide us to our destiny and mount us to the peak of success. It’s not possible to kill your mind. If you kill your mind, your existence will cease. And then again, as our nature is built in such a way that the existence of even the tiniest molecule remains forever. To cease existence of mind is not possible at all. No annihilation!”

Q: “In that case, if a person’s heart is stuck in something, say mountaineering, can they never become a yogi?”

Guruji: “Mountaineering is not something a person will do all his life. It’s just a temporary frame of mind, an ambition for when you are young and healthy, like Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest once and then he was done with it. He didn’t climb it everyday. Ultimately it was a training and experience for his mind. He wished to climb mountains and so he conquered the highest mountain in the world. But what next? Now he is sitting idle. But, he’s also accompanied by a huge amount of satisfaction. And his achievement needed him to be extraordinarily skilled, with a fine tuning between body and mind, a strong body and quick reflexes. It is because of these attributes he was able to become a mountaineer. That he was a mountaineer is just a small reflection of his personality. But try to imagine the depth his entire personality must have achieved after going through these experiences. What he must have felt when he set foot on the peak of Mount Everest is something that only belongs to him. We hear his tales but we can’t feel what he felt at that moment. For most of the people, it was just an act of climbing up and down. But I totally believe that Edmund Hillary before he climbed up and Edmund Hillary when he climbed down were two completely different personalities.

“The root cause of all problems is looking at life in various different pieces. Why, are mountains not a part of our existence? So why not climb them?”

Q: “Guruji, how can a person distinguish between the voice inside and superficial desires?”

Guruji: “Think of it this way: A kid loves to play with his toys. He can play with his toys for hours but that is his superficial desire. When his inner desire takes over, he forgets about the toys and remembers his mother. And with increasing maturity, i.e., with the development of his mind, his reflections, likes, dislikes, and reactions will go on evolving or changing. A kid keeps running to his mother for milk, and after growing up, just the feeling of sitting near her keeps him warm and happy. The inner desire means the dormant feelings that have grown so much that they start showing up on the surface very clearly.

“Always think of and about life in totality. Whether you do scuba diving or mountaineering or anything else, ultimately it’ll just add something to your mind and persona.”

Q: “You mean any activity?”

Guruji: “These activities are also experiences. And once you’ll do them, the excitement will die and you won’t feel like having the same experience again because you’ll have its flavor inside you.”

Q: “But sometimes Guruji, when we don’t feel like doing anything, we just stay seated for hours. Is that also an experience?”

Guruji: “Those are contemplative times. There is something going inside your heart. The mind in such situations withdraws itself from the normal day to day life and reflects on something – whether consciously or subconsciously. That’s why the outside activities appear still or slowed down. You should feel these times as well, remaining seated and letting the mind have its silent time. Once all the inner batteries are charged, you’ll be out of this phase and feel more rejuvenated than ever. So once in a while it’s okay to experience this kind of a state.”

Q: “I keep evaluating myself and sometimes i have a strong desire to perform, and sometimes I feel laid back.”

Guruji: “Let this be an important lesson. Over-evaluating also leads to a lot of tension and complications. You can’t always remain in one particular mood. If you are experiencing some mood, enjoy it, and after a few days when you come out of it, look back and reflect on it. It’s very difficult to understand a mood in its beginning phase. Only after it ends can you fully understand it.

“Sometimes it’s not about any mood but it feels good to sit idle, because the mind also gets tired and needs some rest. Your work doesn’t involve any physical stress, it’s all mental as you have to concentrate for long hours at a stretch.”

Q: “The evening exercise routine that you’ve told me is wonderful! It takes away all the mental stress and also relieves my eye strain.”

Guruji: “Oh! About that, even our avatars (divine incarnations) have said ‘if you are mentally tired, exercise’. And if you are physically tired, then indulge in some mental exercises. Both are very much connected. If you physically exert your body through exercising, your mind will automatically become happy and active. There are many references available on the various harmones that get released with exercising, that reduce stress, rejuvenate your mind and body, and also help you sleep better. Exercising also adds to an overall feeling of well being due to which our reflections gets better and clarity of mind sharpens. Ultimately it has a major effect on the performance of a person. And what else is there in life except performance? Life itself is a performance. After death even Yamraaj (lord of death) judges you by your performance in life.

“A man should always be practical in life. By being practical I mean he should always be down to earth. Have you ever laid down in mud? No? Is there some facility of mud-bath in America?”

Q: “Yes, there are a lot of mud-bath spas around here.”

Guruji: ” Then you should try it. You’ll really enjoy it. Mud is a direct connection with earth. There you’ll have to pay for it, otherwise here you can just lie down on the ground anywhere during rains. It’s a natural mud-bath. But you’ll definitely feel something immediately. After all, mud is mud.”


Karma, Purging of Sins, and Yoga

Q: “Guruji, so many books say doing pranayam cleanses one of all the sins. How does it work?”

Guruji: “On the surface level, sins and merits/virtues don’t change. But the sins get cleansed in a different manner. As I’ve said earlier, our body is made of menstrual blood. This has already been established. And a woman menstruates 432 times in 36 years. The more pranayam we do, the more we overcome the limits of menstrual blood, and that is called bhuta shuddhi (purification of elements), and that is called cleansing of sins. Using the word sin doesn’t really convey the correct meaning here. It narrowly means an adverse social behavior. But think of sin as our limitations, such as bodily impurities or the dormant talent or infinite possibilities hidden inside of us. When we understand all that and limitations completely go away, that is actual cleansing of sins.

“Nobody recognizes the truth that everybody is made of raja – menstrual blood. And when a female is menstruating, she is considered impure by religion. That’s why Christians also say you are born in sin. We are not! We just have to touch the limit of internal refinement of the body. Refined body leads to refined mind resulting in tremendous expansion of consciousness. That is essentially cleansing. Otherwise mostly all sins and merits are no more than social behavior in some sense. Society developed, and to keep it disciplined, laws were created. But as we’ve already established, dharma (religious law, righteousness) means career1. For yogis, dharma will always mean something else.

“You know the clean and peaceful feeling after yoga practice; we are already getting cleansed. We are fighting our own limitations, not any sins or merits. See, until we overcome our limitations, our point of view will remain limited. That’s the important thing. That’s the real motivation for doing yoga, and people start running after it instinctively, because it is in our genetic record somewhere, and our soul has a impression of it. When we make progress, we understand why are we actually doing it. The old song of Gita Dutt describes the situation exactly:

वक़्त ने किया क्या हसीं सितम / तुम रहे न तुम, हम रहे न हम
जायेंगे कहाँ, सूझता नहीं / चल पड़े मगर, रास्ता नहीं
तुम भी खो गए, हम भी खो गए / एक राह पर, चलके दो कदम
वक़्त ने किया, क्या हसीं सितम …

(What sweet destruction time has wrought / you are no longer you, me no longer me
Don’t know where to go from here / we’ve started but there’s no path forward
You got lost, I also got lost / taking couple of steps on the same path
What sweet destruction time has wrought..)

“It was a film by Guru Datt, all of its songs were great – “Kagaz Ke Phool”. You must listen to all its songs; you’ll develop vairagya (detachment) and will get lost in time as well (laughs). [Guru Datt] was a dreamer too. This song describes a yogi’s state of mind exactly.”

Q: “Guruji, it’s said that karma dictates the situation in life, whether you are going to lead a comfortable or a painful life, etc. Does it apply to animals as well?”

Guruji: “Of course! Animals have a destiny too. One stray animal gets beaten on the streets, while the other sits comfortably in air conditioning! Everything depends on the situation at birth, the planetary position at birth. We have cast horoscopes for the all the calves and puppies born here [in the academy], and their lives are closely following the pattern dictated by their planetary position at birth. Astrological principles apply to everybody, whether human or animal. Animals also have good or bad spirits. You’ll have to widen your perspective to understand all this. This is the mystery we are all trying to solve, that’s why it is so fascinating.”

[20090801] Conversation recorded on: June 26th, 2004


  1. Guruji explained it as follow: In Gita, Lord Krishna says ‘dharma is what sustains us’ (धार्येत, स धर्मः). Our career is what sustains us, hence our career is our real dharma.