Om Shanti Shanti Shanti (May the Divine bring peace to us as individuals, and the whole world)
It is my pleasure to speak to you today on Love and Forgiveness.
This subject is so vast, so great, and yet so basic to our human existence. So let me see how I can do justice to the topic of Love and Forgiveness.
First of all, love is something that cannot be hidden. You cannot hide love, nor can you express it fully. It shows up in your eyes, in your smile, in your gestures. You can never hide love; at the same time you can never fully express love.
This is the predicament that all lovers around the world have felt. How much ever they have expressed, still they felt, ‘I am not able to express it fully the way I want to.’
That is the nature of love.
Similarly, truth is something which you cannot avoid. You cannot avoid truth, yet you cannot define truth.
Beauty is something which you cannot possess, and you cannot renounce it either. You can never renounce beauty. And life is Truth, Love and Beauty; all three things together. But our experience is something else.
We don’t experience love all the time in our life. We find hatred, jealousy, greed, arrogance; all these negative emotions.
As children, we were all born with pure love. What happened as we grew older? Where did we lose this innocence? What happened to us?
If we look deep into the mechanics of these negative emotions, then we find that beneath these negative emotions, is also love.
We are angry because we love perfection. All those who love perfection are prone to anger. Because you want things to be perfect, when they are not perfect, you get angry.
Similarly, what is greed? When you think objects are more important than people, then you call it greed. When your love for a person is more than the welfare of the person, you call it jealousy. When you love yourself too much, you call it arrogance.
Love minus wisdom gives rise to all these negative emotions.
Love with wisdom will keep you sane, and on the track of Divinity. And that is the message of all the reverends here; to unite you with wisdom.
We don’t need to learn how to love. Love is our nature. Like our bodies are made up of amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, etc., our spirit is made up of love. We are love.
Love is not just an emotion; some sort of wiggly-wiggly emotional outburst. Love is our very nature. We need wisdom to keep it the way it was bestowed to us by God. And that is what all the scriptures in the world tell us.
In the Hindu scriptures, the nature of God is described as Asti, Bhati, Preeti, i.e., Existence, Effulgence and Love.
God exists; He is self–effulgent and He is Love, and there is only one God. Not many.
Often people think that Hinduism means many Gods. That is not the case. It is one God in many costumes, expressing Himself in many forms. But it is only one God.
Let me give you an example. From the same wheat we make calzone, cupcakes, bread and bagels. These are all different expressions of wheat. In the same way, it is one Divinity expressed in many forms.
God is love and so are we. Somewhere we lost this wisdom. We lost the innocence. We started building walls between us. That is when all the negative emotions and tendencies started in the world.
To develop ourselves, and to go into the depth of prayer, we need to take five days off and have five experiences.
The first experience is, we must spend one day in a prison. You don’t have to commit a crime to spend a day in prison. Just go spend a day there and talk to the prisoners.
When you talk to these people, who have been condemned by the rest of society and the world, you will realize that there is a beautiful person hiding inside each of them. And you will find that forgiveness comes within you spontaneously.
Inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. When you see from a wide-angle lens, you see that a culprit is also a victim. When you see that victim inside the culprit, you don’t need to forgive, forgiveness happens; in fact compassion spontaneously arises in your heart.
Crime happens due to lack of understanding, wrong education, wrong indoctrination, emotional outbursts as we don’t know how to control our rage, anger and frustrations. When uncontrolled emotions springs into action, it becomes a crime. It is wisdom which checks these uncontrolled emotions; wisdom which makes you think before you act.
Crime happens when you act first and think about it later.
There are those who have committed mistakes intentionally (due to wrong understanding or ideology), and there are those who have committed mistakes un-intentionally (due to lack of awareness). These are the two positions from where someone commits a crime, or makes a mistake. People commit mistakes because of lack of wisdom, lack of happiness or lack of the inner connection with the Divine. Someone who is happy, content and in love will not harm anyone. It’s impossible.
If someone harms another, it is because there is a deep wound or scar inside of them which needs to be healed. So spending one day in prison is a very good idea. It will expand our awareness and make us understand those people who need forgiveness. Then forgiveness becomes easier for us.
The second experience is to spend a day in the hospital.
When you see sick people who are suffering, then you will thank God for your good health. Compassion and gratefulness arises within you.
The third experience is to spend one day as a school teacher, especially with challenged children. If you have to teach them, and they don’t learn, it gives you patience to accept them and repeat the same thing again and again till they learn.
We can learn how to make others understand with patience. It is a big challenge to be a school teacher.
I heard of statistics that say, in Germany, 40% of school teachers are depressed. Just imagine what will happen to the little kids who go to school. They have to see a depressed face all day and come back home depressed.
You can only give what you have. If you have joy, you give joy. If you have love, you give love. If you are depressed, you can only give depression. This is unfortunate because we don’t know how to handle our mind and emotions.
One day in school as a teacher will give us enormous patience in life to tolerate ignorance and to teach from the space of love. A teacher is one who gives love unconditionally.
Someone asked me once, ‘What do you get by doing all that you are doing? Why are you travelling to so many countries, talking to people day and night, conducting these breathing workshops? What do you get?’
I asked him, ‘Did you watch the movie Life of Pi?’
He said, ‘Yes.’
I asked him, ‘After watching the movie, did you call anyone and tell them its a good movie?’
He replied, ‘Yes, I called several of my friends and told them it’s a great movie and they should watch it.’
I asked him if the producer gave him any incentive or commission to do so.
He replied, ‘No.’
I replied, ‘The nature of joy is to share. If you find some happiness within you, you want to share it with others. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Sharing and caring.’
The fourth experience we must have is to spend a day in a mental hospital.
Listen to all the irrelevant talk around you. You will come to realize the whole world is like that. Everybody is talking in tangents. Once you realize this, then your buttons cannot be pushed anymore. You feel so strong from inside. You will not get upset if someone passes a derogatory remark about you. You will stand up to criticism. You will take the criticism if there is any truth in it. You will be able to give constructive criticism wherever it is needed.
The courage to take and give criticism comes to you if you can spend one day knowing that people are talking irrelevant things.
The fifth experience is to spend one whole day with a farmer in a farm. You will start caring for this planet; this Earth. You will care for the environment. If we don’t take care of our planet today, we will not be able to pass it on to the next generation.
The coming generation deserve better conditions: pure air, water and earth. Diseases are on the rise because we have used so many harmful chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. The nutrients are drained out from the earth.
The American Nutritional Institute talks about how bananas grown today in America have very little nutrition compared to the 30’s and 40’s. Our vegetables may be bigger in size, but have very little nutritional content in them. This is because we have drained and depleted the soil with pesticides and chemicals.
We need to take care of Mother Earth. Love for the Earth, love for people is same as the love for God. They are two sides of the same coin. If you say that you love God, but don’t care for his people, then it has no meaning.
Love gets destroyed when we start demanding for it. This is what usually happens in relationships. We fall in love and we fall out of love very soon. It’s like breathing in and breathing out. Why? That is because we start demanding.
I have an advice for couples here. When you find that your spouse’s attention or expression of love for you has decreased, don’t ask them, ‘Do you really love me?’ Instead ask them, ‘Why do you love me so much?’ Even if they don’t love you then, their love for you increases.
To prove that you really love somebody is a big burden. Love cannot be totally expressed.
I have observed a strange thing in the world. In the East, they don’t express love at all. They never verbalize love. And in the West, we verbalize love a lot. We keep saying, ‘Honey, honey’, and then we become diabetic.
In the East, the husband never says, ‘I love you’, to his wife in his entire life.
We have to find a middle point; a good combination of East and West.
I feel love should be expressed, but should be hidden at the same time. When you don’t verbalize love too much it shows in your actions. Just like a seed. If you sow a seed too deep in the soil, it can’t sprout. Neither will it sprout if you keep it on the surface. You need to sow it a little beneath the soil so that it can sprout and become a plant.
We need to express love but keep it a little inward, so that it oozes out in our actions.
When I was a young boy, I went to a tailor to get my shirt stitched. Those days they had no machines, they would sew it by hand. The tailor would have the needle on his cap and the scissors beneath his feet. I felt this man had a message.
That which cuts, he put beneath his feet, and that which sews and unites, he has honored by putting on his head. The forces in the world that divide people should be put down, and the forces which unite people need to be honored.
A tailor could convey this message. The whole world is full of messages of love. We just need the eye to see and take them into our own lives.
Do not demand love from your spouse; let them know that you are there for them.
That is what our learned reverends do when they conduct their mass and prayer sermons. They just channel the love of God. They express the sense of belongingness. That is a supreme act, and attitude.
So love and forgiveness go hand in hand. It is much easier when forgiveness becomes compassion.
Do you see how crazy a puppy or dog you have at home gets, how it expresses its love when you go home. It doesn’t verbalize anything, but expresses its love for you. The same love is being expressed in the entire creation, by the trees, by nature.