An interview with the Serbian newspaper “Dnevnik”
(Saturday, Dnevnik Magazin, issue 26th Nov-2nd Dec 2017)
What does it mean to be a spiritual teacher? How does one become one, and what responsibility does it include?
The spiritual teacher itself is a concept. I would say you don’t need to teach a fish how to swim. Like that, you don’t need to teach anybody to be spiritual, because you are spiritual by birth. When I say you are spiritual by birth, every being, forget about human – every being has a physical – body aspect, mind – mental aspect i.e. emotions, the intellectual aspect which is knowledge, intellect, intelligence and ego aspect – personality. The personality is connected to ego. These are the four major aspects of every being. Even if it’s a dog or a cat, it’s the same. What makes all these active is the spirit that means the soul. When the soul leaves the body, everything goes down, everything is collapsed. So, being aware of the soul is spiritual. When you are aware that it’s a soul which is making your body function, your mind function, your intelligence function, that the energy behind ego is soul, that everything is connected to spirit or soul, then you realize you are spiritual. That realization is the only realization you need. This is beyond religion, you can be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, no problem, you are spiritual. You cannot be non-spiritual. But some people are not aware, some people are aware. When a person is clearly aware, he is called a spiritual master. When a person is fully aware that there is no physical, no emotional, no intellectual, no ego, but only th soul which is making all this function, and when the soul leaves, everything goes away, when you have that awareness, you are called a master. So everybody is a master in some level. I do not call myself a spiritual teacher or a master because everybody is a spiritual master or teacher in their own way. I think my existence is the teaching, my living certain principles is the message to the world, not that what I teach. Nobody can teach anybody about soul, you have to experience it and everybody experiences soul in their own way. I cannot say – this is the way to experience soul, nor can I say – this is right, this is wrong. You experience all in your own way. A cow experiences soul in a particular way, a dog, every being experiences soul in a particular way, in different ways. I think if I say I’m a spiritual teacher, it is my audacity; I should rather say that if somebody is benefitted because of what I speak, I’m happy and grateful because there is a saying: if you have seen light, show one person that light and your job is over. So if I have seen light, and if somebody sees light through me, I’m happy. I’m grateful.
Q: Thank you. Why have we been taught we thrive through suffering and not through joy? You have had some experience. Why is it so?
A: Yes, well, it is said there is a difference here. One is that there are millions of things outside us, literally billions of materials, people, places, time, things outside us and the purpose of our incarnation is experience, so we are supposed to experience all these things in whichever way we can connect. To experience them, we have been given five senses – eyes, nose, ears, mouth, skin; and to experience through these five senses – one mind. That one mind can only experience one thing at a time. Even though we talk about multitasking, multitasking borders on absentmindedness. I’m talking about full-mindedness, full concentration, full being. We can experience only one thing – either happiness or sorrow. This is our life – billions of things, five senses, one mind, one experience at a time which can be classified as happiness or sorrow. Everybody’s existence is like that, at every point in time. So where does the suffering come? When we’re experiencing sorrow, if we resist, it becomes suffering. We do not resist happiness. When we’re happy, we don’t resist, so it’s okay. But when we have sorrows, we resist. It becomes suffering. And when it becomes suffering, the problem is it goes longer. The period becomes extended. Then it’s prolonged suffering and the cause is resistance. You’re pushing it away. So, in my life, I believe (which, when I look back, I completely understand), all these things which have been taken away from me, all the things which I was very close to, or deeply connected to, which I thought were very precious, have been removed. If they were not removed, today I would not be sitting in front of you. I would be fully occupied with those things – myself, my family, my pleasure, my things. When it was all taken away, I became the world. So I believe the purpose was very clear at that time and the purpose is clear today because I’m talking to people and people are getting benefitted. And if I had a fully good life, a pleasant life, if I talked to somebody who has gone through pains, he would ask me: you have not experienced anything, how are you talking? Now nobody can say I have not experienced anything. I have experienced much more than most of the people, so I’m talking from personal point of view.
Now, if you look at the story of Lord Ram, he’s supposed to be an avatar. Just a few hours before he was made the king, or crowned as the prince, he was sent to forest. Political turmoil happened, he was sent to forest for fourteen years, with his newly married wife, bride. They were all in the forest. An avatar went through this process and then his wife was kidnapped and he went through the whole journey to find her. And he found her – a big battle, he won the battle, rescued the wife and brought her home, etc. A life full of struggles. Why was an avatar created that way? If he has not gone through pains, he cannot talk. People will not accept him, they do not feel connected.
For example, Jesus was very powerful, unbelievably powerful. He could have easily changed the destiny. He could have avoided the cross. If Jesus had been afraid of the cross, there would be no Christianity today.
So if you look at the past, everybody who has spoken to people, has spoken from the platform of pains. It’s not necessary, I’m not saying it is necessary, but pains are all part of life, and they all say – don’t be afraid of pains, don’t resist them; let them come, let them go. Like pleasure is coming and going, suffering and pain is coming and going. When you push the pain away, it becomes suffering. So suffering is our choice.
Q: There are many people for whom it is difficult to discover their purpose, mission, goal, path. Can someone like you teach them and help them?
A: You know, we all have taken birth with only one purpose – experience. Another purpose, if you can say, is expression. Because we are not higher than anybody, lower than anybody, equal to anybody. We are unique. As a creation, we are complete and unique. There’s nobody like us. So we are expressing this uniqueness into this world. Like, you are expressing your uniqueness, I cannot do that. Only you can. Like that, if everybody, 7.5 billion people understand the uniqueness, and share what they have, there would be world peace. You wouldn’t need anybody to talk about peace, there would be peace. So why then is there a conflict and struggle? Because we do not recognize that we are unique. We think we are incomplete. It’s a mind thing, mind is creating that effect. We are complete. We are full. We are unique. And this is exactly what we need to express into the world. So, that is one job, one aspect.
Second, our life starts with the womb of the mother. Our longest relationship in a lifetime is with mother, because before people started seeing you, you have connected to your mother, nine months before. At least for these nine months, you have a deeper connection with your mother. So starting from the mother’s womb, your life starts; until your grave, it continues. And in each point in time, experiences are different and you may not have consciously chosen them. For example, we are sitting here and we are talking. This time last year we did not know we were going to talk, this is it. So time, space, situation, communication, experience of the communication, all this is destiny, predetermined, determined before, this is called destiny. At that point in time, experiencing that thing is a purpose of every existence. This is what we call purpose. Purpose of every incarnation is experience, and experience is laid out in time. What you experience today, you cannot experience tomorrow. Being in the present, fully conscious of the experience is the best way you can lead a beautiful life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s happiness or sorrow. When happiness happens, be happiness, when sorrow happens, be sorrow, so that both of them become complete. Life is not always happiness. Life is not always sorrow.
A: Because that’s how it is. Because our own operating platform works like this – happiness and sorrow. This is the way the world is created, everything is like that. Like we grow older, like when we were ten years old, it was a different feeling, experience, body, everything. When you became twenty, it became different, when you hit thirty, it’s different. So things are like that. It’s like a wave, happiness and sorrow. It continues and it has nothing to do with other people, it’s a personal experience. So the purpose of every experience, of every life is experiencing whatever you’re experiencing. That is why you took birth in Serbia, or I took birth in India. Or all these things are connected to that experience. You could not have had the experience you had in your life if you hadn’t taken birth here. That is why the play of destiny is very, very real. It’s unchangeable. So that’s the purpose of life.
Now, how can you make the higher purpose of life, make the purpose of life higher, better? Very simple, just ask one question, ”I am a citizen of Serbia, how can I call myself a citizen of Serbia and what have I done for or given to this country.?” It will be enough. Your purpose becomes higher. Don’t worry about the political situation, who’s the president, who’s the prime minister, it doesn’t matter. What, as an individual, have you given back to Serbia? Of course, everybody has taken from the country. We’re all taking lots of things from the country. That doesn’t make us great citizens. What you have given to the country makes you great citizens. So if you want to build up your purpose, build the purpose with the motherland. Make sure you contribute to the motherland, much more than you take from the motherland. Then, purpose is very high. And then, don’t look at other people. Is government appreciating, is media appreciating, other people, it doesn’t matter. Are you being real? See, it’s an individualistic thing. But if I am confident about my life on earth, I will not care about what others think, because I’m doing the good thing. If I’m doing bad things, then I should be careful. But if I’m serving the country in my own way, I’m contributing to the country in my own way. And how can you contribute to your country? It need not be money, it can be time, it can be knowledge, it can be love, it can be skill, it can be your experience converted into upliftment of the poor, in your own way. That makes your life purpose complete. And if you’re concentrating on that life purpose, I’m hundred percent sure there’ll be glory, there’ll be greatness.
Q: Some people feel they have some emptiness, that something is missing in their lives. How can they be given hope?
A: I’ll give you one example. You know, mind asks for completion. Something is not right. I want to be complete. So we fall in love, we have relationships, we have materials, new mobile phones, new refrigerator, new gadgets, this is all to fill up the vacuum of the mind. But have you ever thought about one situation, in the night, when you sleep, you keep all the gadgets away, and you are content in your sleep. So you don’t need anything to be happy. In deep sleep, you’re very happy. If you’re really sleepy, you don’t even need a bed. This is human nature. So waking state mind will always push you and say I want this, I want that. It also compares – oh, she’s not like me, or I’m not like that other person. This is all the mind’s game. So what you need to do is be aware. Mind is like that, mind will always talk about deficiency. Mind will say this is not right, oh if only I was born in America, things would be better. No guarantee. Every place is the same in the world and I don’t think any place is good or bad. It’s how we create it, how we are, that is how our experience will be. This emptiness is happening because we are craving for something, emptiness is coming out of lack of something which the mind is telling.
But at that time, the best medicine is awareness. Just one question, so what? When you say – oh, you are not like somebody else, you are not a millionaire – so what? Where is richness sitting? In my ability to share. A real person’s richness sits in his ability to share what they have. Like you have a piece of bread, you share half the bread with somebody. You’re rich. Not that kind of richness where you share nothing, they are glorified poor people. You know, many of the rich people are very poor people, poor inside. They are afraid of their own wealth, they’re afraid of losing things. You can see some people, there are some documentaries they’ve done, researches they’ve done with homeless people. Somebody gives them bread, and then somebody else dresses up as a poor person and says, ”I didn’t eat anything, can you share some bread with me?” They immediately share. That man has not eaten food, and he got one piece of bread, immediately he gives half of it. That is the heart of richness. Maybe he’s homeless, but the heart of richness. That is the remedy for the “vacuumness”. You look at the world and see what you can share. You will be very rich inside.
Q: How to deal with negativity?
A: Negativity is the reality. Like there is positive, there is negative, there is night, there is day. Negativity travels with positivity. I always tell people: don’t deal with negativity with negativity, your hands will become dirty. You should deal with negativity by increasing positivity. For example, somebody is talking bad, you constantly turn to good talk. If you feel somebody is not doing the right thing, you constantly do the right thing. Invest in positivity, more and more. For instance, look at this cup. Imagine there is some mud in the cup, and there is water. So mix water and mud together and you cannot drink. But you keep pouring the good water. After a while, all the mud will be washed away and the water will become pure. Pour more positivity into life. Good thoughts, good words, good actions, these are three levels. So consistently have good thoughts, for example, “What can I do for Serbia?”, “How can I improve the lives of people around me?” not expecting anything in return, that is very important. If you expect, then people sometimes criticize you. So don’t think about anything, just concentrate on the positive: thought, word, action. That will be a good counter for negativity. Negativity will get fed up of you because you are not interested (laughter). You know, imagine I’m abusing you, I’m calling you a monkey or a donkey, and you’re just sitting and looking at me. After a while, I’ll get bored with it (laughter). So this is the best way to handle negativity, increase positivity. Thoughts, words, action. Whenever someone tries to talk negative about someone, just say, “That’s not my cup of tea, I’m not interested”. When somebody says to me, ”You are not a good person,” why should I know this information? To me, I’m happy with you. I look at this in this way: everybody is good and everybody is bad. In today’s time, good and bad sits in the same person. I’m not perfect, so I can expect the other person to be perfect? I have my weaknesses, I have my strengths, everybody has them. So why do I highlight only the weaknesses? People love to highlight weaknesses. You say that, you have all this information, keep it with you, don’t tell anyone, this is very precious.
Q: So, this is like the story about good and bad wolf, do you know it?
A: Yes, yes. Absolutely.
Q: Nowadays, more than ever, there are many different spiritual practices, how do I choose the right thing?
A: That’s a very good question. Today, it’s an information explosion, too many things. I like to believe that every spiritual teacher, practice, religion is good, because they are helping somebody. Like churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, everything is good for somebody. But what suits you is what you can do without effort. Something is effortless for you, like the dress you wear. If I give you double the size of the dress, maybe this is a very good quality dress, but you can’t use it, because it doesn’t suit you. Likewise, I’m making excellent food, but it’s all made out of dog meat and cat meat and stuff. I say this is amazing food, but you will say? Thank you very much, you eat it, I don’t want it. So what suits you is the most important thing. Everything starts with you, and ends with you. All the spiritual teachers, and teachings are outside of you, just like buffet, but you pick up what suits you, and make sure you can digest it. If you eat something you cannot digest, it’s totally wasted. It’s not about what the mass follows, many people are following one, one master, one teaching. Maybe that’s not suitable for you. So you don’t have to follow the mass, you have to follow what suits you. There is a general thumb rule: what is suitable for you comes to you. Also, always make sure you try to practice it. If it’s not suitable, be bold enough to say it’s not my cup of tea. You don’t have to do it, it’s not your way to go. It’s not compulsory that you must practice to grow. It’s more important to connect to yourself and see – how is my heart beating? Who beats my heart? How is my respiration happening? Every hour my nostrils are changing, one hour this nostril, then the other one, who is making this change? Start exploring yourself like that and you will start understanding yourself much more. Then the information that is suitable comes to you. We do not even try to explore ourselves, we don’t spend time with ourselves. Instead, we spend time with a master, or a book, or a teaching. That is why they are not able to connect. The fundamental problem why you can’t connect to something outside is you are not well connected inside. If you are not well connected inside, you cannot connect outside. This is the difference. I always tell people, “If you want to read one book, that book should be called you”. You are the only book you must read in this lifetime.
Explore like a child – hey look, my nose is shifting, who’s doing it? Likewise, the heart is beating, without a stop, and the hearting is resting, it’s beating and resting. Then, one kidney is resting, while the other is functioning. Who’s running all this show? And the secretion of body juices, e.g. when the food goes from mouth, at that time through the pipe, that secretion is different, each time it’s different, each organ is fun, how is it synchronised so well? Each organ functions properly. If this was upside down, everything goes waste, or nothing works. So that exploration is very important. You can start with the breath, then listen to the sounds inside you, then feel, connect to the spine. You will become so connected to yourself, that you will automatically become really powerful. Then you see the masters who suit you. I’m 100% sure the right master will come to you.
Q: If I’m only focusing on myself, am I selfish?
That is different. Selfishness is something from outside, you want only for yourself. When you look within to feel yourself, this is self-sufficiency. Big difference. Selfishness is when you want everything only for yourself. Place, people, material, food, time, all for yourself. But when you’re connected to yourself, and not really connected to the world outside – of course, you go to work, take a bath, eat food and all that – but at the same time, you are occupied inside, that is self-sufficiency. I believe if you are doing one practice in your life, practice being with you. Spend time with you. Alone. Feel. You don’t have to meditate, just explore yourself. Just be yourself. Appreciate yourself, accept yourself. It will give you amazing power.
Q: So many people use things like gadgets and such, that get us away from oursleves.
That is because it’s easy to connect something outside. It’s difficult to connect with yourself. See, you can appreciate another person, but can you appreciate yourself? Mostly, we can’t. We love another person, but how much we love ourselves? It’s easy to accept Mohanji, but that doesn’t matter. Are we accepting ourselves? That matters. You love Mohanji, okay, this is very good, but do you love yourself? If you don’t love yourself, even if you love Mohanji, you will not be complete.
Q: In Serbian language, “spirituality” and “humour” are very similar words. What is true spirituality? How does it connect with humour?
True spirituality is you being you. Completely being yourself. Then happiness happens. When you know that you are everything. In Sanskrit, there is one saying, the ultimate message: TAT TVAM ASI. It means: YOU ARE THAT. Whatever you are looking for outside is within. They give a comparison of a musk deer. I think the deer’s musk is somewhere near the groin or navel. So the deer feels this nice smell and it’s searching where it’s coming from. It does not know it’s coming from itself. Human beings are like that. We forget that everything is within us. We are complete by creation, we are complete by destination. We are that. This is true spirituality. True spirituality is recognizing yourself. You being you.
Humour means, when you look at this then you start laughing at this whole world, because this is a joke. People try to conquer, make things, big buildings… and they die. At the end of the day, there’s nothing. You came with hands open, you will leave with hands open. Whatever we did, finished. So I look at life as a joke. People say, ”My religion is better than your religion,” I say ,”Be whatever religion, it doesn’t matter,” (laughter) when we die, we all end up in one place anyway. Like that, everything is momentary. Just be happy and love unconditionally. I should love you not because you are somebody, not because you have something in your pocket, I should love you as I love myself. When I look at you, I cannot see another person, it’s me in another body, experiencing different things. Simple.
Q: What should we do to make this world a better place?
Two things. We must share what we have. Time, money, knowledge, material things, love. You can share. You must share. You should share what you have in abundance, not what you don’t have, of course. Number two, we should look at every being on earth as equal. It can be an ant, an elephant, a whale, a human being… All the species should have the same right. Same existence so that there is no energy conflict. We will all look at all the beings in the same order. That is how creation has maintained the species on Earth, the wild and the civilised, etc. everything is connected and interconnected but we have separated ourselves from the nature. We do not know nature, we have disconnected from it. That is why we fall sick, because we are in a stale atmosphere, that is why we have this problem. World peace is definitely possible, only if we enhance the goodness factor with two things. Be good. Do good. That’s it. Don’t worry about spirituality and meditations and all this, just be good. Be good first to yourself. This means accept yourself. Be good to the world and do good. Do good means do something that makes people happy. Share things, this is it. That’s the way we can have more peace.
Q: Would you like to tell us as a Serbian son-in- law, how do you see Serbia now and in the future?
In fact, I really like Serbia, not because my wife is Serbian, but whoever I met, I never felt any separation. I felt I’m loved and respected. It’s a very good feeling to be here. One thing I have experienced here from the spiritual point of view is that lots of people are interested in true spirituality, which means, inner exploration. Not books or things outside, but exploring yourself inside, spending time with yourself, recognising and accepting yourself. Many people are interested. That is a very good sign. If you are exploring inside, society will be better because when you see yourself in everybody you will have no conflict with the world. You will love, and you can only love, because it’s all you. So I believe I am contributing to the society. Since the time I first came here, in 2009 or 2010, till now, if a few people have transformed into positivity, I am very happy. I always make it a point, that wherever I go, I add value to the society. I don’t take anything from the society. I add value so that the world will be a better place. The secret is this: if more people are happy in the society, society is peaceful. Then if society is peaceful, the country is peaceful. If countries are peaceful, world is peaceful. So I always believe that whatever I can deliver, I would like to deliver. Even if there is only one person receptive, I give them. And I don’t preach religion. Religion is an individual choice. I respect all religions, and all paths, because it’s suitable for somebody. I never say, something is right, something is wrong. Only an insecure person will blame another person, or say something is right, and something is wrong, say some religions are good and some are bad. I don’t have that problem, I’m not insecure. I would like to make that stability in the hearts of people, which I am seeing happening. That way I like to believe that I am contributing to this country so these visits aren’t wasted and if I see that reflected in the society, I’m very happy. Today, or tomorrow, whether I’m alive, I don’t know. But today when I’m talking I am adding value. This is what I feel. I feel good to be here. I don’t come here as often as I should, because there are so many countries and activities, but I make it a point to come here at least once in three months or once in six months.
Transcribed by Tijana Sladoje and Monika Dizdarevic