Questions and Answers with Sri Svamiji -
                         maintaining the ancient Vedic tradition of a Spiritual Dialogue


On the Spiritual Path

Q: What are the necessary qualities for the seeker to walk to the end?

Svamiji: Eagerness to know!  To make every effort to receive knowledge followed by the necessary practices.  A longing to get freedom or liberation is an essential quality. You need to be open to understand without blocking, without concluding, without imposing your thought, without any kind of conditioning.  For if you are stuck in one particular concept or belief, you have created your own boundary, stopped your growth.  You must break all barriers and boundaries. When you want to reach the infinite, you cannot set up finite blocks.  Many seekers get stuck at one point or another due to having confined themselves. This is a pity.  You should not be satisfied with the small fruit but aspire to the greater fruit.

Q: Have you seen that many seekers have been satisfied with the small fruit before the end and not go further?

Svamiji: Many times this happens, people will get the small fruit, and then they are satisfied and make no further effort in this life.  They may think that they will continue in the next life.

Q: Does it also happen that some seekers achieve a certain level of evolution with genuine experiences of an altered state of consciousness and believe that they have reached the final stage?

Svamiji: Yes, this happens. Until you reach the highest state of enlightenment there can always be some delusion, confusion or misconception.  That is when some people say that they hear angels speaking to them. It is difficult to ascertain how much the angels speak and how much is the person’s own delusional feedback.

There can be many mixed impressions based on your own fantasies. However, there can also be genuine experiences.  In the process it can happen that you may have many experiences – impressions of both past and future.  Look at yourself objectively and ask:  what motivates me, what makes me say, or think or do anything?  All depends on the real motivation of anything you say, think or do.  For instance, the statement of “I love you” has many different motivations: everybody has a different understanding, perception and expectation of love.  What do people mean by that statement?  What is the background thought for such a statement?  Actually, it is by exploring, by finding out and defining what your motivation is in any given situation that you are moving into another form of contemplation.



Relationships on the Spiritual Path

Question: Svamiji, could you please speak to us about the subject of relationships, especially intimate relationships, while on the spiritual path?  How do they affect human growth and what is the appropriateness and value while striving for enlightenment?  Is there a way to avoid the pain and suffering that frequently accompanies a relationship?

Svamiji: Primarily you need a strong signal that can help you to communicate. Interaction and communication are very important.   If you have a beautiful experience, it is natural that you may want to share this experience and knowledge.  Many people are miserable.  How is one to make them happy?  I see all the suffering and pain.  The whole purpose of My being in this world, of having manifested in duality, in body, is to show people how to overcome their unhappiness and suffering, to show them the path to happiness, to enlightenment. 


Question: Where is it helpful for one’s spiritual goal to be in a relationship and where is it a hindrance?

Svamiji: If the gap of consciousness between two people is too big then it can be a hindrance because then you are dealing with different expectations. There is no attunement and therefore communication is obstructed; it is not a parallel journey.  A relationship needs to be synchronized, like the cogs in a machine to function as a unit.  When you are not synchronized in your minds, expectations are not the same and the relationship becomes mutually unfulfilling and will eventually fail.

If a couple can discuss their relationship problems objectively and each is willing to listen to the other, really listen, with tolerant understanding, then there is a possibility of coming to a workable compromise.  When both partners are willing to let go of the many unimportant issues that each one has built up and is so hung up on, and when each partner can look at those personal things that are not good for the partnership, and decides to let go, progress can be made.  One very important aspect in resolving disagreements is self-analysis and self-correction. This is important, for you cannot overcome conflict by justifying and defending the prompts of your ego and your emotions.  I recommend for everyone that, before you go to sleep, to take five or ten minutes to analyze your day, and note where you have done anything that is not helpful to you. Then make sure you do not repeat this.

The emphasis is on self-analysis; it has to be done by oneself, for if brought up by others, justification, excuses and finally anger will result.  Ego is the main personality here.  It is strange that people often prefer to be right than to be happy.  Ego is always there, in many different guises.  Someone may try to provoke you into reacting to a perceived criticism and tell you: “you should not tolerate this.” You may agree and act in response, rather than thinking for yourself, exploring that other person’s motivation and finding out yourself.  It needs courage, coupled with being perfectly honest and true to yourself.  You cannot progress spiritually if you are not honest with yourself.  That is the basic requirement.   Do not fool yourself, do not pretend. You may pretend your whole life that you are this or that – but it does not make it so.  It is actually far too much work; pretense and ongoing lies can become a very stressful exercise. You need to have courage to be rigorously honest with yourself.

In Vedanta, the Brahma Sutra states: “The weak person cannot come to Me. Only the strong can come to Me”: This refers to inner strength and courage. The knowledge that what you are doing is worthwhile, knowing that a greater reward is waiting for you and that you do not want to miss this, will achieve and build inner strength.  It is a great pity if you miss this opportunity.


Grace on the Spiritual Path

Q: Svamiji, could you please further elaborate on Grace and its role and importance on the spiritual path?

Svamiji:  It is said that when you take one step forward, grace will move towards you by a hundred steps.  It depends on how much you long for this grace, how much you realize and understand.  Compare this to the sunshine outside, and although you can see it, you still have to go outside to enjoy the benefit of the sun by exposing yourself to the sunshine.  Confining yourself indoors will not help.

The energy of grace is an invisible esoteric force and when you are preparing yourself, that preparation becomes a spiritual act with all that is involved in growing and learning. You need to integrate all these forces within you to become more qualified to receive grace.

I have often said that there is no point or value in meeting the highest Teacher or Master, if you have not evolved yourself to recognize Him or Her. For even if you meet the highest Master what is the value if you do not recognize?  Before such a meeting can take place you have to prepare yourself, and in the process of your preparation you come closer to spiritual grace. Even without noticing you will find one day that you are under the protective grace of the Master who will lead you from one state of grace to another and finally, when the time comes, then there will be total opening of energy, of shaktiShakti path is the event of having grace bestowed upon you. (In today’s computer language it resembles the transmission of data onto your hard drive.) The Master can bestow energy and grace which is like a transfer of instant knowledge, providing you are qualified.  Grace is powerful energy, but before this can take place, a certain amount of development and evolution has to take place to prepare yourself for this powerful experience. You may be asked to do something apparently impossible, but when the energy of grace is there, manifestation can take place. Thereafter your entire development is expedited and you can approach your goal much faster.


The Struggle with Money

Q:  Svamiji, could you explain why so many people have a constant struggle with not having enough money?

Svami Purna: Of course, money is what we call in India “Lakshmi.” Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth. There is a saying in India that Lakshmi will come and go. The only place she belongs is at the side of her Lord Narayan, who is her consort, and she belongs only to Him. For anyone else she just comes and goes.

 I’ll give you one example. When I was walking in the Himalayas, many times naked without anything at all, just my body, I lived in meditation. Today, I travel all over the world, living in palaces, castles and five-star hotels where people put me, but I couldn’t say that my state of mind is better now than at the time when I was in a Himalayan cave.

The question is how you train your mind.  You can talk to your mind and say, “Look, why don’t you enjoy what you have?” Leave it open for the future so that Lakshmi, money or power can come, in the meantime enjoy what you have already.  It reminds me of the great mystic, Kabir. He said, “Stretch your leg as far as your blanket will stretch.”  He’s saying that you should understand your limit. Of course, there’s no end to human desires and needs and humans go on creating desires and needs. I gave you that example to illustrate that happiness does not depend on money and belongings; it depends on your state of mind, but money is a necessity.  We cannot move without money. I cannot travel without money, and for that matter, nothing much can be done without money. Try not to get stuck with money consciousness. That will get you nowhere.

The first thing is to appreciate what you have and the second thing is to leave the channel open for money to flow. Money will come and money will go; it is the nature of wealth to come and go!


Destiny versus Free Will

Q: “Svamiji, could you talk to us about  destiny versus free will, and explain to us how much control do we have over our circumstances?”

Svami Purna :  Yes, this is a puzzling and complex topic for many people. I have often been asked this question.

Essentially, free will has shaped your destiny; all that you have done in the past has become your destiny.  Also all that you will do now, by your own free will, will in turn become your destiny. On some level it may appear that you have no control of your own destiny, and that is partially correct, since you have created the very circumstances you are dealing with through your own thoughts and actions in the past.

What you have created in the past, it has become your destiny today. Somehow, you may  feel that the pattern is set and you are unable to change that. Everything may appear as already planned for you and to a degree it is.  The point is that you have done most of the planning yourself.  Now you have to fit yourself into this great plan.  After all, this is what you have created.  At times you may even feel helpless, but you are not.  You have a great deal of free will to create today.  Remember, you are in charge; you are in control of the way you deal with your life now. I’ll give you one example:

Let us say: I live in a house of 5,000 square feet. Outside my house I am very limited and restricted due to the local  planning and zoning regulations. I have to follow the rules of those agencies. Yet, inside the house, I can do many changes to suit my own comfort, requirements and convenience.  I can do many adjustments; that is my free will. Although you may not have total control, still you have been given a great deal of freedom within that framework and you must exercise and balance that in a way that it will create your positive destiny again.

Therefore, in a way, you have complete free will, yet you have created your own destiny. This was not created by God or some other entity;  but by your own thoughts, behavior and actions. You have created your own understanding, your own destiny, and that is your free will.