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Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 13 Dec 2019

     

How can we confidently answer difficult people who impose false beliefs on us?

[Shri Balaji asked: Respected Swamiji, Namaste. Many times, when we meet strangers, they might act like good persons. Sometimes, they might even pretend to be great devotees, just to fool others or due to their ego or over-confidence. Perhaps, some of them might even be genuine and might have the best of intentions. But in a short meeting, it is difficult to know the reality of people. So, usually, I end up giving the benefit of the doubt to them and assume they are good.

But if these persons are elders, they sometimes try to dominate us by getting angry or threatening to curse or not give their blessings to us. Sometimes, I hear elders threatening that all spiritual practices done by younger people are of no use unless they get the blessings of their elders. How does one handle such difficult people? Also, how does one develop one’s intuition to understand people’s real nature or intention? How can one fearlessly give a strong response, even when they try all kinds of tricks to dominate and subdue younger people? Sincerely, Balaji]

Swami replied: Every person is an individual soul with an ego. The ego makes the person think that he or she is preaching true spiritual knowledge or a true philosophy. The person also expects others to become his disciples and accept and follow him. It gives pleasure to the soul. No one wants to always remain a disciple and receive knowledge from a divine preacher. It makes the person feel inferior to become somebody else’s disciple. This mentality makes people behave as if they are preachers and preach their own philosophy to others. They want to preach to others, at least for some time before they die. That is why you find many elders, especially when they are old, wanting to preach to others. This itch (kaṇḍūti) to preach to others and turn them into their disciples exists in almost all souls. However, this does not automatically make their preaching true. Shri Paramahamsa once asked a preacher “Did you get permission from God to preach this type of spiritual knowledge?” Neither age nor the experience of the preacher make their preaching true. Generally, people quote longstanding traditions as the authorities for the spiritual knowledge they preach. But Śankara said that no matter how many centuries darkness has existed in a closed room, it instantly vanishes with the first ray of sunlight from an opened window. The darkness cannot claim its right to remain in the room, just because it had existed in the room for so long. It has to exit the room, the very instant sunlight enters. Similarly, the false ignorance must vanish as soon as it faces true knowledge. It does not matter even if that false ignorance has existed for generations together or the preacher is very old and experienced.

Śaṅkara was a young man of about 30 years, when He performed the funeral rites for His mother, in spite of being a saint. Since He had broken tradition, He was severely criticized by the priests at Kāladi (His native place), who were much older than Him. But Śaṅkara retorted to them “Your foolish traditions do not apply to Me since I follow true knowledge. Your arguments fail before Me as a knife meant for cutting vegetables fails to cut a stone (Śilāprayukta kṣurādivat)”. The general rule (dharma) is that a saint shall not perform any rituals related to any family member, because he is supposed to have given up family life for the sake of God. But Śaṅkara was the only son of His widowed mother and she had made Him promise that He would perform her last rites. It was on that condition that she had allowed Him to become a saint and carry out the divine mission. Śaṅkara’s divine mission on earth was of critical importance for mankind. So, in His specific case, the general rule had to be amended. The general rule was superficially amended for the emergency, while maintaining its subtle essence (Āpaddharma-dharma sūkṣma). The elderly priests only had superficial knowledge, whereas, Śaṅkara knew the essence of the true knowledge. The essence of all rituals is that souls should pray to God for protection.

People’s egos get hurt when their long desire to preach to some disciples fails. This especially happens when very young people try to reveal true concepts to their elders. To remove the ego of such elders, Śaṅkara said in a verse that the preacher is very young and His disciples are very old (Vṛddhāḥ śiṣyāḥ gururyuvā). Śankara lived only for 32 years, and yet became the Preacher of the world (Jagatguru)! Never yield to false concepts, if you thoroughly know the true concept. To satisfy the ego of elders, you can act as if you are yielding. If you sense ego and rigidity in a person’s arguments, you too should remain firm on your true ideas. Externally, you can act as if you are yielding to the person. You might perhaps succeed in finding the non-existent horns of a rabbit, but you can never convince a person who is rigid about his ideas, irrespective of what his age is.

| Shri Dattaswami | Kanduuti Shankara Shilaaprayukta kshuraadivat Aapatdharma Dharma Suukshma Vruddhaah shishyaah gururyuvaa

 
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