What is spirituality?

When I first came to Skanda Vale, there was only one flowering plant there and now I have flowers everywhere. I could not live without flowers. I could not live without life. Life teaches us not to divorce ourselves from life but to be involved in life. That is what spirituality is.

A lot of people think that as soon as you talk of spirituality, you have to put yourself in a cage and isolate yourself, and pretend to be holy. Don’t do it, because that is not being spiritual.

Get involved in life
Being spiritual means being involved, being involved in life. [It’s about] how you can purify yourself and have a perfect life. That is what spirituality means to me. There is nothing in the whole universe that is not graduating and advancing slowly towards becoming perfect. Nothing is permanent. We are in a state of impermanence, and like the seasons, everything is changing; the mountains, earth, atmosphere, all of life, the plants and trees, everything is changing. What we are going to do in that change does matter for the next generations to come. That is the responsibility that we have in our lives. If we abdicate our responsibility, then the next generation will also pick up the threads of irresponsibility and carry on through to destruction.

That is our job, everyone’s job. Be so mindful of what you do. It is because of the mindfulness of many generations before you that you have beautiful avenues of trees, plants, fruit trees, and orchards. Anybody who plants a tree, or who does anything for the well-being of nature, is never there to reap the harvest of their actions. It is the selfless acts of people who think about what they can do to propagate and influence nature and life as they go along.

When you plant a tree you probably won’t be alive still to see it grow and to see the benefit of it. If you are lucky and it is a very fast-growing tree, then you will have some idea or vision of what that tree is going to be like. You must be a good gardener in life. My job is to be a good gardener. I have my ‘plants’ and ‘trees’ in you that I have to look after and care for. [I have] to nurture you and help you grow healthily, and become useful in the life you live. I am a gardener who is pruning you and making sure you grow properly, helping you, nourishing you, and that consciousness of nourishment is invaluable for the human being.

Those who are involved in education, therapies, or any other work are also gardeners, helping ‘plants’ to survive and develop themselves spiritually. 

Recognise divinity is in everything
What is spirituality? To recognize the divinity and the power of a human being or a life force and help it to advance towards that goal of oneness. This is a voyage of discovery for every single one of us. It’s a discovery in all of creation and you graduate in that discovery, to go further and further and excite yourself. Don’t make yourself feel unhappy and serious because you started a spiritual life. That is not for me. As soon as you are serious I slowly say bye-bye because that is not for me.

I want you to be excited about spirituality! Spirituality means if you like to go dancing or to go to the cinema then take the divine with you. I take the Divine Mother with me wherever I go. When I have a glass of wine that somebody offers me, I say, “Cheers, Mum”, and I drink it. And she participates with me for that wine has been made with great care. That wine was made in the mountains with great care. The sun has shone on it and it has grown in the earth, it has been nourished. Don’t disregard it as a drink that makes you tipsy, but that which enhances your life. Everything is like that. If you want to make life a sickness, sickness it is. If you want to have success in your life and see good things happen in life, you can change it. You can change the worst set of circumstances to make it a success.

That is the extent of detachment and responsibility. We have to learn how to work with what we’ve got. As you work with what you’ve got, you can challenge various avenues that stop you from doing what you want. Don’t worry! Nudge them in the ribs when they don’t give you what you want for the work. Hit them hard with a smile on your face – that is the art of spiritual development. You need to get what you want for the benefit of those who are unhappy, and who need help. You must be able to stand in front of people who have no interest in the well-being of the poor, and who are not interested in those who are deprived or sick. You have a responsibility towards them, that is spirituality. Don’t worry, have a good fight, I enjoy it. My job is to fight for the people who are in an unfortunate state of living. That must become your spiritual sadhana.

A lot of people believe that spirituality is just meditation or being drab and dull. Spirituality means that you can not smile or have naughtiness on your face. Have all that and more.

Mother is the biggest flirt you can ever find in the world. She will enjoy flirting with you, flirt with life, and teach you how to become a flirt. My job is to flirt with life as well, to enjoy a flirtation with life as a whole, and to feel excited about life. That is what spirituality means to me. If I don’t excite you into that consciousness of spirituality you will think, “God is sitting there with a mallet in his hand.” Round one – disobey me and then ‘doink’. (Guru imitates God hitting people with a mallet because they have disobeyed him).

That is the element of fear that is being handed to mankind from inception to control human beings and make them subservient to the authorities of religion. That is not spirituality. That is why a lot of young people run away from spirituality because they are saying to themselves, ‘If this is spirituality, I don’t want it, this is not for me.’ I would do the same, I would run away from it. But I know the divine Mother, I know the mischief she gets into. 

I was with Krishna and I can tell you the life of Krishna was not something very holy. He was a very naughty, powerful young man, growing up with me. He would get up to every conceivable mischief you can imagine. More so, and I can tell you if He knew something was wrong in the village, or the village elders were not doing what He wanted, He would say to us, His group of friends, “Let’s go to the village.”

He would go to the village elders and stir them up and make them angry. He made them angry so that they would realise they were doing something wrong. They couldn’t cope with the naughtiness of this young man. He wanted change, and He changed them – with love. When there was no love and people challenged his authority, He would take up any position that was required for him to defend righteousness. That is the life of spiritual people. You must be able to take up the position to defend righteousness. What do I mean by righteousness? 

Righteousness means not allowing people to cause injury and harm to others. Not to kill, not to cheat, not to rob, not to cause injury to any life force, and to establish the dharma of your belief. I am not here to change you from Christianity to Buddhism or Hinduism or another ‘ism’ and confuse your mind. I am here just to tickle the carburettor of your mind and make it work properly. To help it to think positively, not to think negatively, not to spend your time worrying about that which is gone, ‘passant.’ It’s about the present! Now is the moment you have that power to change your life, the past is beyond recovery, you cannot even change the dot of an eye in the past but you can learn from the mistakes that you have made. You have the capacity to say to yourself now, “Gosh I had those experiences, and if I had another chance I would not repeat it.” That is the reflection I want you to have in your life, the power to change.

At the same time, you may have got into a set of circumstances that you find difficult to extricate yourself from. But you can change the complexity of a situation by your positive application in life. That is what contemplation is about. Contemplation is to review again and again and again from the moment you wake up. To [look at] the presentation of your life and not to miss anything out. Excite yourself about your life and say, “Gosh, I want to be really awake from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep.” 

I don’t know about you but from the moment I wake up, swami brings coffee to my bedside in the hope that he might see me up and about or going to the other world. He says, “Guru, are you up?” I say, “Yes, it is a lovely day, give me the cup of coffee and let’s have a good talk.” 

I am already ready for business and my mind is empty. I want to activate the lives of other people, I want to excite people into spiritual life. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, divine friends, it is a waste of time. I promise you it is a waste of time to sit there and say, “Oh, my life is passing by, I don’t know what to do with my life.” If you have nothing to do, come and join me in Skanda Vale, I will excite you to no end, you wouldn’t know what hit you.

Life is exciting, life is a challenge, meet that challenge. You have the most beautiful country in the world. I say this not because I am patronising, I am attracted to Switzerland because of the mountains and the beauty and the beauty that is natural within you. You are involved in nature, you are participating with nature. Your lifestyle is in nature; you still work in the fields, on the farms, and in a way of life, you have carried on for many centuries. It’s endearing to me.

When I see the changes that have occurred in Sri Lanka over the last forty-five, forty-six years it saddens me to see those changes. I pray, beg of you, hold fast not to modernise, [or become] a materialistic society. Even though Switzerland is known to be a good banking society, you have preserved the simple nature-loving people that I see. When I look at your farms, and the simplicity of your farms and cantons I see that is changing now. You must stop that change because you are going to lose [the simplicity].

Spirituality and community are one
Don’t make it too modern. Driving from Geneva to Bern I saw the ugliest buildings, and I thought, “When did they put them up?” It is like a whole row of skyscrapers one after another. Of course, you have to house all these people, I understand that, but we have to find an ecological presentation acceptable to the lifestyle of people. I have seen it in Britain, forty-six years ago when I came. You might ask what on earth has this got to do with spirituality? It has to do with spirituality.

People were families and communities, they were together. Each square in London was a group of families together that knew each other. We had a lot of fun together, and slowly it all changed. Instead of these houses with families, they sold the houses which then became hotels [and high-rise blocks]. Those families moved out to the countryside. Then they built ugly structures as monuments to the ugliness of man’s lack of imagination. What happened was children grew up in these high-rise flats, which had no facilities at all for them to play in, and they came out as vandals. Now we have more problems and they are trying desperately to solve those problems by pulling the buildings down.

Don’t let your community and society do that. You have beautiful countryside. I know you have to house them, but it can provide facilities for people to live under nice sets of circumstances. I would even excavate some of the mountains and put some buildings inside them to hide the ugliness of buildings. Then put roads, I told you they are building one of those amazing roads, you know to carry traffic in the EC through Switzerland, with a tariff, that is good business, I enjoy that. All of this is about spirituality.

There is nothing you should not look at in terms of spirituality. Ecology means spirituality. How you can live, what work you do, what lifestyle you want to have; what you want to leave for your children, or what attitude or mindset you must have to hand down to the next generation that comes. All of this and more is spirituality.

Perfect yourself within. People say to me, “Guru, how can we change the world out there?” The world inside me first has to be changed, not the world outside. If I begin to change and show by example what way of life we are going to live, as we are doing in Skanda Vale, by showing the simplicity of life, then we make it possible for other people to follow. We make it as attractive as much as we can to be natural in the way we live. Then we have all collectively played a part to change the lifestyle of the people. It is important. This is why we say that each country has got karma.

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