05 Oct You Can’t Always Get What You Want by Swami Premananda
You Can't Always Get What You Want
by Swami Premananda, October 2020
These days newspapers are using the word Guru to describe experts. There is a column called, ‘Oh Guru’. It’s question and answers like, ‘can you help me with my problems?’
I’d love to have that slot – I’d get paid good money.
If you want to become a good golfer, you learn from an expert. If you want to be successful in your career path and make a lot of money, you take a millionaire’s advice. They are experts– they have achieved and mastered a particular area of life which is necessary in the outer world. So too, there are Gurus of the inner world. Like our Swami Shankarananda (Swamiji), and others.
If you want to be happy, cultivate peace, have greater focus and more energy and love in your life – be guided by a spiritual master like Swamiji. He shows you how to unblock your life and your mind. He shows you how let your love flow, despite all the hurts.
The Guru helps us access our own wisdom, and how to become closer to our true nature. To me, this connection is a miracle of God’s grace.
Baba Muktananda says a true Guru awakens the inner shakti, or spiritual energy, of a disciple and makes him revel in the bliss of the self. A saint showers compassion on you and takes away your pain. He helps you develop love for God and reveals God to you from within.
In Play of Consciousness Baba remembers his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda, by quoting a scripture:
The Guru is Shiva, Shiva is the Guru.
There’s no difference between Shiva and the Guru.
In Kashmir Shaivism, the philosophy behind Swamiji’s teachings, Shiva represents Consciousness, awareness. He represents the wise man, whose Shakti flows into all the areas of life – spirituality, work, relationships and health. It’s an analogy for someone whose state is perfect. Tension does not hold him or her back.
Swamiji writes in his book Consciousness Is Everything:
We should turn our whole life into a work of art. Think of your life as a tapestry of all different emotions (rasas or flavours). Life is like chewing the hard crusts of the world and eating the juice from it. Most of us chew and taste bitterness but those of us with a special attunement (yogis) can get a new joy from it.
By meditation and self-mastery, we can overcome worry, depression, fear, anger, jealousy and self-concern. We can experience the flow of the divine even while living our ordinary life. We can become the ideal artist and audience of our own life.
Swamiji instructs us to look for the Shakti always—to notice how we feel when we are flowing and not blocked.
Have you ever tried to do something that just does not want to happen? It’s accompanied by frustration and tension. You will experience it in your body and mind. When you realize that you can’t get what you want your heart sinks.
A yogi learns to recognize that these contractions mean he or she is thinking the wrong way. It teaches us not to follow negative thoughts and forcing will, nor to be too identified with what we want.
To use force leads to a life of suffering. To follow that path, we become a bound soul—a jiva—the opposite of Shiva.
When I first met Swamiji in Elwood, the scene was smaller and more intimate – there was only a handful of devotees. There was a weekly meeting in Swamiji’s room, and I felt left out. I was desperate for an invitation. I often asked Swamiji, ‘Can I come and just listen?’
I had no specific reason or purpose for attending the meeting, and each time I asked he said no. Finally, he got sick of me asking and agreed to let me come.
After the meeting I felt terrible for days afterwards. The intensity filled me with negative feelings and thoughts. I realised that Swamiji was actually protecting me by not allowing me to go. I was a fresh, new sadhaka, and he knew my heart was just beginning to open. I was vulnerable.
Later, he intensely pointed his finger at me and yelled, ‘You can always fool the outer Guru, but you can never fool the inner Guru!’
I learned that I might get what I want, but if it’s not what the Guru wants for me, I won’t feel good when I get it.
Have you ever had that experience?
I realised that I can have only what belongs to me. If I have to put out a lot of energy to acquire something, I increase the stress and it creates a lot of tension. That means it is not meant to be.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says to his disciple Arjuna, ‘in times of difficulty, like now, oh Arjuna, be a yogi.’
Swamiji says that for us, to be a yogi means:
- Do the practices.
- Meditate and remember the Self.
- Practice Self-inquiry.
The Upanishads teach that God is of the form of sat, existence, chit Consciousness and ananda, bliss. When we arrive at the Truth, when we follow the path of yoga, we will experience satchitananda. Then we live in perfect feeling.