Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 07 May 2019

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Can spiritual knowledge be presented differently to suit people’s mentality?

Dr. Nikhil asked: Many people say that they do not believe in the existence of God because they find accepting God’s existence inconvenient. I am trying to change the mode of logic in such a way that the existence of God does not become inconvenient to them. Is it alright?

Swami replied: Shankara did the same thing to convert atheists into theists. To accomplish this, it was necessary for Him to use some twisted logic. He used a three-step logic: (i) You are God, (ii) You exist (iii) and hence, God exists. In His time, people in India were mostly atheists. They either followed the ritualistic Purva miimamsa philosophy or Buddhism. Converting these atheists into theists was the need of the time. Shankara’s philosophy which said that every soul is already God, was tremendously attractive to the atheists. A number of them began to follow His philosophy and thereby became theists. After converting the atheists into theists, He slowly introduced the concept of devotion to God. He said that one can realize that one is God only through devotion to God. By this next step, Shankara indirectly said that the soul is not God in a practical sense. It means that, practically, an all-powerful God exists separately and that He controls the world including all souls. This created the fear of God among the followers due to which they began to avoid sin. On the one hand, Shankara said that every person is God and that in due course of time, the person would realize his or her identity with God. On the other hand, He said that until the person attained realization, the person is not God practically. So, temporarily, each person is under the control of God and hence, each person must fear the punishment from God and the sin that causes the punishment.

The basic concept is one and the same; be it olden times or present times. If one accepts the existence of the omniscient and omnipotent God, committing sins becomes very inconvenient. Unlike the judge in a worldly court, it is impossible to mislead the omniscient God. Also, unlike the police in the world, it is impossible to escape the inevitable punishment from the omnipotent God. Once a person accepts the existence of God, there is no justification for committing sins. Accepting the existence of God is thus highly inconvenient for the person who strongly desires to commit sins. It is due to this inconvenience that such people prefer to deny the existence of the omniscient and omnipotent God. They become atheists. These atheists cleverly say that they are not in favor of committing sins; they only do not believe in the existence of God. They claim to be ethical atheists. If you are not in favour of committing sins, what is the harm in accepting the existence of God? You might be a highly elevated soul who will not commit a sin even if you do not believe in the existence of God. But all other ordinary souls are not of your high level and they will commit sins if there is no fear of God.

Actually, all this is only the hypocrisy of the atheists. The reality is that they want to commit sins secretly. They feel that they can escape from the law of the land through tricks and corruption. But the existence of the unimaginable God, who can punish the sinner through unimaginable ways, means that the sinner cannot even try to escape from the punishment. God’s punishment becomes inevitable even if the sinner manages to escape the punishment from the law of the land. If they accept the existence of God, they cannot freely enjoy their sinful actions, due to the fear of God’s inevitable punishment. So, they prefer to deny God and become atheists. Perhaps they think that they can behave sinfully and yet be exempted from the punishment just because they do not believe in God. How foolish they are!

God is greatly concerned about the discipline of this world, which was created by Him for His entertainment as said in the Veda. God is greatly pleased with the preacher who preaches about pravrutti, which is the path of justice in the worldly life of a soul. Such a preacher is helping God in His day-to-day administration of this world. Preaching about pravrutti helps all the souls in the world. Preaching about nivrutti, which is the path of aspiration-free devotion, service, and sacrifice to God, only helps very few deserving souls. Pravrutti is the aim of God and hence, God rewards the preachers of pravrutti heavily. Nivrutti is not the aim of God. God does not want anyone to be devoted to Him, serve Him, or sacrifice for Him. But doing all this is the aim of very few extraordinary souls. It is their wish; not God’s. God does not encourage such souls who walk on the path of nivrutti. Instead, He creates several hurdles in their path, which act as tests for the devotees. God only encourages pravrutti which is related to the welfare of all souls in the world.

Even if the atheist is converted into a theist, the actual purpose is not served until the atheist stops committing sins. If you say to a student that he need not watch a certain movie since the movie is very boring, the actual purpose is not served. The actual purpose behind preventing the student from watching the movie was that the student should spend that time studying for the exam. If you manage to prevent the student from watching the movie but the student still does not study for the exam, can you say that you have succeeded? Hence, Shankara did not stop at saying that soul is already God. He further said that the soul is ignorant of its own true nature (Aaavarana), which means that the soul is not God practically, at least for the time being. The ignorance (Aaavarana) had further solidified into a distorted view of the mind (Vikshepa), leading to impurity (mala), which is of the form of likes and dislikes (raaga-dvesha). He added that to practically realize the soul’s identity with God, the ignorance (Aaavarana) along with its modifications (Vikshepa and mala) must be removed. To remove the mental distortion (Vikshepa), the soul must engage in dualistic worship (upaasanaa). To remove mental impurity (mala), the soul must serve God like a servant (karma yoga). In effect, what Shankara taught His followers is that the soul is not God for the time being and that it must worship God like a servant until the soul ‘becomes’ God. During this period of worshipping God, the soul is to be treated as different from God since there cannot be worship without dualism between God and the soul. It automatically means that the soul is under the control of God and that the soul’s sins are punishable by God. So, not only did Shankara convert atheists to theists but He also prevented them from committing sins.

All talented logic is fruitful only if you prevent the person from doing sins. Simply making the person believe in the existence of God is not useful by itself. Of course, the prevention of sin becomes very easy if the soul accepts the existence of the unimaginable God. Lord Krishna has told in the Gita that the purpose of His incarnation on earth is to establish justice by condemning injustice or sin (Dharmasamsthaapanaarthaaya...). Almost all the spiritual scriptures in the world concentrate on pravrutti alone. It shows how much importance God gives to pravrutti. Pravrutti also acts as the basic stage for the higher path of nivrutti. Hence, even nivrutti starts with an emphasis on pravrutti.

Is it a sin to change one’s spiritual preacher?

[A question by Kum. M. Meenakshi]

Swami replied: The true spiritual preacher is identified as the personification of correct spiritual concepts and not as a certain physical personality. Shri Shirdi Sai Baba, Akkalkot Maharaj and Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa were the Human Incarnations of the same God Datta. They were present at the same time in different places; in different physical forms. The spiritual concepts preached by them were one and the same. If you change your spiritual preacher from Sai Baba to Akkalkot Maharaj, it is not really a change of your spiritual preacher. Then, if you go from Akkalkot Maharaj to Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, it is also not a change of your spiritual preacher. The reason is that the same concepts are preached by all the three Human Incarnations simultaneously. Even the disciples of any one of these three preach the same spiritual concepts. So, if you become a follower of such a disciple, you have not changed your spiritual preacher because the disciple is explaining the same spiritual concepts with new and different examples. As long as you are following any of these four, you are still following the same spiritual preacher.

But if you go to a fifth new spiritual preacher, who preaches new spiritual concepts which appear sweet to you, but are actually not in the interest of your soul’s spiritual welfare, you have changed your spiritual preacher. Such a change is a sin because following the wrong teaching of that preacher, you are going to commit sin. Your inner consciousness tells you which knowledge is the correct spiritual knowledge. It is the knowledge that convinces you from inside even though you may not like it. God always speaks to you through your inner consciousness. Your real welfare always lies in the truth and the truth is always bitter. Your fall always lies in the twisted lie and the lie is always sweet.

The fifth spiritual preacher aspires for some benefit from you. So, he speaks sweet lies to you in order to attract you to him. He expects you to pay him some offerings which provide temporary worldly benefits to him. A true spiritual preacher only speaks the bitter truth. He does not care for the offerings from the followers which provide only temporary worldly benefits to him. He only relies on God, who will grant him a permanent reward that is millions of times more valuable than the offerings from followers. Some of the false preachers actually know the truth, but they still preach sweet lies for the sake of momentary benefits from the public. They do not have faith in God, who is going to reward them tremendously for preaching the bitter true spiritual knowledge of God.

 
   

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