The Tree of knowledge
What is freedom?
Freedom, freedom, freedom. What is that freedom? One freedom is freedom from the bondage of karma. Second freedom is freedom from mental confusion. Final freedom is to make a clear concept in life and thus be free. So there are three steps, three levels of freedom. First we’ll describe what is that bondage of karma. You have to study a law which is called universal law no matter which community you come from. This is called the law of karma. Whether you are a Hindu, a Christian or a Buddhist you’ll have to follow it. As you sow, so shall you reap. Avaseva bhoktavyam krutam karma subha subham. You’ll have to reap the fruits of your actions.
Once my Master said, “Stand there.” We were talking about destiny. I stood. He said, “Will you please lift one foot off the ground?” And I lifted my foot. He said, “Now lift both feet off the ground.” I said, “I’m sorry, I cannot do it.” He thus taught me that 50% of your destiny is in your hands and 50% is with Providence. Will you please play your part so that Providence helps you?
What do we do? We get so involved that we forget our duties. A human being has immense capacity and when he taps that capacity, he can be free from all these bondages. Then he is the creator of his own destiny. Otherwise destiny leads him adrift like dry leaves blown by the wind creating many patterns against the sky. That is not our human destiny. A human being is a perfect being though still incomplete. If he learns to complete himself then there is nothing higher than that.
You must have heard about two great men in the West. One was Darwin and another was Huxley. Both did not believe in God, but they were great men.
One of the priests of a meditative order got confused. “They were great men no doubt,” he thought, “but they did not believe in God. Let me see what has happened to them.”
So in deep meditation he went to heaven.
Here the guard stopped him saying, “You mortal, I don’t find your name on our list. How come you are here?”
He said, “I want to see your list, to see if you have two people with you.”
The guard said, “Get out of this place. I won’t show you my list.”
The priest said, “Look, people in heaven are gentle and kind. So you must be a gentle and good person.”
He praised the guard and the guard said, “Ok, here is the list.”
They did not have the names of Huxley and Darwin on that list. The priest was very bothered. He said, “Which is the way to hell?”
The guard said, “Look at that hell hole, go through it.”
The priest went through it. There he found a huge person standing outside who said, “Hey, who are you?”
He said, “Sir, I have come from the mortal world. I want to know whether Huxley and Darwin are here, as they are not in heaven.”
He saw a gate that was unique, superior to that of heaven, and beautiful gardens. It was so wonderful. The priest asked, “Is this hell or heaven?”
The guard replied, “Go and ask Huxley and Darwin, they are walking in the garden.”
So the priest approached them, “Sir, good morning to you.”
They said, “Good morning.” “
Sir, is it hell or heaven?”
They said, “It was hell alright when we came here. But with all our might and intelligence we created a heaven out of it.”
Any creative person can convert hell into heaven. This is the point. You have to do it, you can do it, you should do it. So, heaven and hell are here; let us create that harmony, that symphony which helps us, by understanding life, understanding each other, learning to love each other, discharging our duties, being nice to the neighbours, to the country, to the whole of humanity. Again I say, O human being, you are God all right, learn to be a good human. Make that effort.
The Swamis and the Mysterious Light
A long time ago, there were two swamis who lived in two neighboring caves. They spent most of their time in deep meditation, except the time they ate or were visited by devotees. The people who came to visit them revered the two swamis, and enjoyed listening to them and being in their proximity. They sought their company, since they always felt more peaceful and happy when near them, and also for a long time after they went away.
One cave was dark, as caves usually are, but in the other one there was sometimes a peculiar golden light illuminating the cave. It was not strong, but enough to be noticed and to mildly illuminate the cave. The phenomenon of the light bewildered the visitors, but they could not come to an agreement about the causes of the light. Both swamis were rather silent most of the time, and did not want to discuss the phenomenon of the light.
The company of the swamis aroused calmness and peace in the visitors. Their minds slowed their incessant chatter, and they experienced a pleasant inner peace and inner happiness. The visitors admired both swamis, but believed that the one living in the illuminated cave possessed supernatural powers and was more advanced. He certainly appeared to them as a mysterious person.
One day a great sage was passing by a near village, and being recognized by the villagers, one of them approached him and said: “Great master, we have a question to ask. There is a mystery which you might solve for us.”
“I will be glad to help you, if I can,” answered the sage.
“There are two swamis living here on the hill…” the villager started to recount.
“Yes, I know”, answered the sage, “and you inquire about the light in the cave.”
“Yes, great master, that is true. It is something that has been a riddle for us. Can you please tell us also, if the swami in the lighted cave is more advanced, and if he really possesses supernatural powers?”
“Pay attention to your inner self and not to outer phenomena. The outside world always changes, but inner self is constant. When in the presence of a teacher, listen to what he says and be aware of the influence of his words on you. Watch yourself, and see whether under his influence you become calmer and more peaceful, and your thoughts, at least for a while, slow down their mad race.”
“Yes, most revered master,” said one of the devotees, “but please enlightens us on the mysterious light.”
The sage sat down, and started to explain: “Sometimes, when one works intensively on the spiritual path, and concentrates and meditates a lot, various phenomena may occur around him, such as lights, sounds or visions. This is not supernatural. The mind has a creative power, and when concentrated, can produce various phenomena even unintentionally.
“It does not mean that one is more advanced than the other. Not all minds produce these things. Some do, and some don’t.
“Some of the people who produce these lights may be aware of the light, and some may not. It depends on their psychic sensitivity. So it is also with the people who watch them. Not all see this light. In any case, it has nothing to do with whether one swami is more advanced or less advanced than the other one.”
“Thank you, great master, you have solved for us this great mystery,” exclaimed the devotees of the swamis, who were standing by, deeply relieved and happy to understand the mystery that has been troubling them for a long time.
— Acharya Ratnananda