The month of November brings with it a special joy in the heart of every devotee of Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani for it is the month of the Master’s sacred birthday on the 25th of November. The Bridge Builders, Pune were blessed with the opportunity of commemorating this momentous occasion with an event titled “University of Life”.
The evening of the 22nd of November saw students of all ages step foot in the Sadhu Vaswani Mission campus with an aspiration to learn some life-changing secrets! They were greeted with hugs from the welcoming party of the Bridge Builders. A host of Smiley faces that dotted the campus and adorned the stage of the assembly hall along with a blackboard and little school benches. The cheerful ambiance made one feel like one was entering nursery school for the very first time!
The soulful music by Renu Gidoomal which kick-started the program was reminiscent of sanctuary or assembly before starting a day at school. The students sang along the peppy and upbeat hymns. The first period saw Bridge Builder Vijay Talreja greet the congregation and hand over the proceedings to Bridge Builder Neha Milani , who took the pupils through the rest of the evening.
An interesting audio-visual presentation revealed that most people around the globe are in search of happiness. But sadly, many think that happiness can be achieved through education and riches. Whereas the fact of the matter is that the easiest way to happiness is to make others happy. This revelation was one of the most important teachings of the Master, Sadhu Vaswani, and a sweet little song also titles “To be happy, make others happy” was sung to drive home the message.
Another audio-visual representation depicting inspirational anecdotes from the life of the Master was then played. The short video beautifully exhibited the greatness of Sadhu Vaswani, which lies in the simplicity of his lessons and their execution. This was followed by a solemn oath where each one promised to make their life useful and contribute to others. The presentation concluded by stating that the things that actually make us happy, such as kindness, compassion etc. come at no cost.
Beloved Dada, in his opening address, reiterated the importance of one of the great teachings of the Master, “To be happy, make others happy”. This is one of the most important lessons to be learnt. He expounded that each one of us is here on this Earth plane to learn a set of lessons, since none of us is perfect. And lessons are learnt through experience.
Dearest Dada, ever so generously shared with his pupils some of the many experiences he had learnt in his lifetime concluding with his belief that this life is a university and experience is the teacher! The precious teachings are as follows:
1. If you would reform the world, you must first reform yourself.
2. Your children need your presence more than your presents.
3. When you shoot an arrow of truth, dip its tip in honey.
4. If you would be happy, learn from the mistakes you have made in the past and then forget the mistakes.
5. Love cannot be bought, except with love.
6. Immature love says, “I love you because I need you”; Mature love says, “I need you, because I love you.”
7. Silence is sometimes the best answer.
8. If you have knowledge, let others light their candle in it.
9. Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.
10. Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.
11. Ask not what your friends can do for you but ask what you can do for your friends.
12. It is not for us to set the world right, but to set ourselves right, and through our example, let God influence those around us.
13. Let the day be full of little prayers to the Lord.
14. Life is an echo, what you send out, will come back to you.
15. Hatred paralyses life, Love releases it; Hatred confuses life, Love harmonises it it; Hatred darkens life, Love illuminates it.
16. Never assume.
17. May I be the last in everything and first in love.
After receiving these truly inspiring lessons, the class was now ready to pose questions to their Teacher, during the course of the much awaited Q ’n’ A session.
Q. Dear Dada , how can we pass in the University of life ?
A. I have already given you the tips to help you pass. (referring to the aforementioned teachings)
Q. Dear Dada, everyone in this world is striving for success, then why do only some people become successful while others don’t ?
A. Hundreds of people appear for examinations. Do they all pass? Some do, while some don’t. That is the law of life. Those that are prepared, ready and going on the right path succeed. Not the others. If you have not succeeded, you have to look into yourself and find out where you’ve failed. If you correct yourself, you will also succeed.
Q. Dear Dada, what is the role that education should play in today’s modern and secular society?
A. True education should teach us the art of living. For instance, it should teach us to speak the truth. It should help us develop a will power to consecrate to the service of suffering humanity. There are so many lessons that education should teach us. But education does not do so. Our modern education is only education in words. But we should be taught lessons which would help us to live in the right way. We should be taught how, with the help of God we can control our anger, we can control our appetite.
Q. Dear Dada, is it important for a couple to share similar spiritual values and beliefs?
A. It becomes easier if both have the same Guru. But everyone should have the freedom to choose their Guru.
Q. Dear Dada, why is our happiness temporary, why can’t we be happy forever?
A. The great saints of India talk about ‘Ananda’ which means happiness, bliss, joy that has no ending. But that happiness will only come to you when you have attained self-realisation which leads to God-realisation. But our happiness depends on pleasures, which give you temporary happiness.
Q. Dear Dada, how can we increase our faith in GOD?
A. Firstly by moving in the company of those that have faith in God. Secondly through prayer. Thirdly through selfless service. Fourthly through reading about the lives of those great ones who have had tremendous faith in God.
Q. Dear Dada, I am young and aspire to earn A LOT and A LOT of money and material success. But at the same time I aspire to be on the spiritual path shown by my Guru. Please bless and guide if my aspirations are right.
A. You cannot hold two balls in one hand, can you? You have to make the choice, either the Master or money. But I may also tell you that Jesus said that if you seek God, then everything that belongs to God will also come to you.
Q. Dear Dada, is vegetarianism important to achieve spirituality? Will being vegetarian awaken me to GOD?
A. I can only say the vegetarianism is a help to us when we move on the path. I cannot say that it is very important to achieve spirituality because there have been many saints in the past who have attained God even before this awakening has come to humanity. But it is definitely a help because in Sindhi it is said that the state of your mind depends upon the food that you take. There fore you must be very careful to avoid not only non-vegetarian food but also junk food if you want to be on the spiritual path.
Q. Dear Dada, It is said that the Guru loves all His disciples equally. But the Guru’s physical presence is close to some of the fellow aspirants. This makes me feel little insecure, jealous, uncomfortable, as if The Guru is only mine, I love Him most and He loves me most! How may I improve?
A. You will improve if when you’re sitting in silence you tell yourself that it is not your will but the Guru’s will that must be done. If you explain this to yourself, this difficulty will automatically disappear.
Q. Dear Dada, you said experience is our teacher. What if the experiences are too painful and difficult to bear?
A. They are difficult for the body and the mind but not for the soul. Ultimately it is the soul that counts. The soul has to be polished. The soul has to march on to perfection.
Q. Dear Dada, how important is money, as in today’s world love, respect and affection is given only to those who are material rich?
A. That is true. That is why society has gone astray. When we were in school and college we would respect our teachers and not the wealthy. But there will come a time when society will start moving on the right path and graduate out of this — and know that it is not the money that is number one but wisdom.
Q. Dear Dada, at times when we are in difficulty, and we are unable to reach out to our Guru physically. In that case: if we get advice or suggestion or a word from a fellow Guru bhai, is it equal to the Guru’s word ? Does a Guru give such an authority to His disciples, if yes how do we recognise THAT fellow Guru-bhai?
A. You cannot say that what the Gurubhai tells you is just what the Guru would have told you. It depends upon the spiritual wisdom that the Gurubhai has.
Q. Dear Dada, what is behind the explosion of youth suicide?
A. They don’t realise the value of human birth. Often I have told you that on this earth there are millions, billions, trillions, uncountable number of species. Each species has billions of its kind of individuals. The number of jeevas living on this earth is countless. It maybe greater than the number of stars that shine at night. If we understood that this human birth has been given to us for a general purpose and a specific purpose. But we know neither the general purpose nor the specific purpose. We regard ourselves as animals. That is the reason why so may commit suicde very easily.
Q. Dear Dada , in today’s culture a lot of children are sending their parents to the old age home for convenience and better care for their parents. Is that morally right?
A. it depends upon the individual case. But in general it is not right. But there are cases in which it becomes very necessary to do so. For example there are people who go to foreign countries to earn and their parents here become lonely. So it all depends upon the individual case. But genuinely it is not right because in the measure you serve your elders, in that measure you will be blessed. In that measure prosperity will smile on you.
Q. Dear Dada, a spiritual aspirant encounters many distractions while trying to follow the prescribed path. How does one learn to overcome these distractions?
A. By directing one’s will power. Will power is very necessary for a spiritual aspirant. And will power you will get if you pray to God constantly for will power. And once you have will power nobody can distract you.
Q. Dear Dada, is there a relationship between science and spirituality? Can science and spirituality ever talk the same language and collaborate meaningfully with each other?
A. Science is the study of the laws of the external world. Spirituality is also a science, but it studies the inner world. Now the time has come where both of them are drawing close to each other. Physics for instance studied the atom, but after quantum physics the atom is asking about who is the one who studied me? So they are coming closer. But one is concerned with the outer sphere while the other is concerned with the inner sphere.
Q. Dear Dada, I haven’t been able to settle down with the person I loved, due to families creating problems since we are of different religions , in spite of many tries I have suffered huge disappointments. How do I accept things the way they are and move on in life?
A. Whatever happens, happens according to the will of the Lord. If you have been drawn to someone who is not compatible, perhaps you have to learn a lesson. This experience has come to you because you need to learn a particular lesson to get closer to perfection. If you can look at it that way, I think it will be easier for you.
Q. Dear Dada, even though we understand what is right and wrong , the temptations are so strong that we go astray . Kindly guide how can we move on the righteous path?
A.You should come to the satsang, it will help you to move on the righteous path. And secondly, you must develop will power. All these difficulties come because of lack of will power. Our education has done nothing to help us develop it.
Q. Dear Dada, how can a married person strike a balance between their worldly life and spirituality?
A. I think you can always make a beginning by coming to the satsang. You can always make a beginning by not reading novels or watching the TV but by studying the lives of saints and holy men. Once you make a beginning the door will open to you. The way will be shown to you.
Q. Dear Dada, is it possible to assess our progress on the spiritual path?
A. There is no yardstick by which you can measure it. But as you move on the spiritual path, you will grow tender, you will grow softer, your behaviour will change, you will regard the difficulties of others as your own difficulties, you will no longer live for yourself alone. And from these you can judge that you are making progress along the spiritual path. But there is no yardstick by which you can judge it.
Q. Dear Dada, if you only had one teaching to share with those present here today, what would it be?
A. Turn back to GOD!
Q. Dear Dada, when I pray at the sacred Samadhi for answers from Bade Dada, sometimes I feel I do recieve the answer. But since I am a very fickle minded person, I do not know if it is my mind playing games, or it is Gurudev answering my questions.
A. As you sit in silence and delve deeper and deeper within yourself, you will be able to make out if it is the Master or it is your mind. This is known as inner guidance, which comes to you as you sink deeper and deeper within yourself. There are levels after levels which are to be crossed. Then you get that certainty within you. You feel sure that this is the advice of the Master and not the working of the mind.
Q. Dear Dada, how do i differentiate between tears of devotion and tears due to ego and hurt?
A. The tears of devotion will start from the heart. But tears which you shed for worldly things will start from the eyes.
Q. Dear Dada, someone in my group of college friends had hurt another member of the group. He did realise his mistake and he did apologize, but the other person was not ready to forgive even though the wrongdoer kept asking for forgiveness. So what should he do now?
A. Then he should go to God or to somebody who to him is a symbol of God. He should then ask for forgiveness and then forget about it. If the other person is not going to forget, let him forget.
Q. Dear Dada, while discussing with my parents about vegetarianism, it came to my notice that Jesus and Rama were not vegetarians. Is this in deed true?
A. I have neither met Jesus, nor have I met Rama. But I’d love to think of the both of them as vegetarians.
Q. Dear Dada, further to the above question, it also came for that vegetables also have a life. Then what about the paradox that is being created?
A. Vegetables also do have life but they do not have a nervous system. Animals have developed a nervous system. Also animals like humans have the five senses which signal pain while they are being slaughtered. So if you slaughter an animal, it is equal to slaughtering a human being since the pain that is caused is the same. Our ideal should be to cause the least pain. Vegetables do not feel that pain. The pain that the vegetable feels when plucked is say one upon a billion of the pain that a human or animal will feel if he is slaughtered.
Q. Dear Dada, what is the goal of life? To achieve God or to serve others?
A. Others and God, they are not different. If you achieve God, you see God in others. Then to you not merely everyone, but everything is a manifestation of God.
Q. Dear Dada, how do we remove the fear of rejection from our minds?
A. Through meditaion. If you in hours of silence explain to the mind then you can overcome it.
Q. Dear Dada, shouldn’t we first be happy ourselves, before making others happy?
A. In process of making others happy we ourselves become happy. It’s like spraying perfume on somebody, part of the perfume will be thrown on you in the process.
Q. Dear Dada, does Santa Clause really come? If he comes why cant we see him?
A. You feel happy that Santa Clause has left you something, don’t you? So why do you want to probe into the matter? That will just make you unhappy.
Q. Dear Dada, many saints say not to do murti puja (idol worship). What are your views?
A. Do puja, any kind of puja, murti puja or non murti puja. There are two ways of doing puja, the saguna way and the nirguna way. To the devotee it is not an idol, it is God himself. That is why there are cases where out of those idols some forces or forms come out. And that’s what the devotee wants the Lord to do.
Q. Dear Dada, the Master and you preach that the way to achieve self-realisation and God is to do service for others. Whereas the other paths say that one must meditate to achieve self-realization and God. I think these two are the opposites. Can you please clarify.
A. The Master taught both these things. He said on the outer plane go and do service, on the inner plane go and meditate. In his teachings there have been emphasis on both the things,smaran (going within) and seva (doing service). I feel that young people are more interested in doing seva. So just to draw them to colours of meditation, service is a step that leads to the second step. If you tell the young people to come to the satsang they will not come. And when you grow in meditation then seva becomes your natural attitude.
Q. Dear Dada, there are so many aspects to meditation. There’s seva, simran, satsang. I lead a very busy life. I’m doing satsang, but where do I fit in the meditation and the seva? How do I manage all these aspects?
A. There is within each one of us a soul. So long as the soul is asleep it will get the thoughts that you are experiencing now. But when the soul wakes up, then life becomes different with the grace of God.
The wonderful evening at the University of life came to a close with each pupil having taken home with them some very important lessons to be cherished for a lifetime!