I would like to share some of the discourses and memories of a great holy man, Swami Ambikananda of Mauritius (1934-97), whom I was lucky enough to know for thirty years. This is the first.
From Glen Lodge 31 March, 1997
Following his massive heart attack in 1995, Swamiji’s health was irrecoverably damaged, but he continued to organize kirtans and receive devotees at Glen Lodge. The previous month there had been a kirtan at Madonna’s house in Corfton Rd, London, where a number of his Mauritian relatives were present, including his daughter Virgini. Now at Glen Lodge he was wearing an apron decorated with Mauritian cuisine recipes as he cooked a delicious meal for his guests, Nita, Sada Siva, MahaLakshmi and Jai Narain. The following is a version of his discourse at that time.
These notes were read out at the kirtan given at Glen Lodge last week, November 5th 2011.
God is slow but sure, and He is so bearing. He warns you. He doesn’t let you fall completely down to the bottom. And then there are angels too, to grab the little ones. When you go over the border there’s warning – then there’s work. But the Sun will shine. It’s not all dark every day. People don’t thank the Sun. When it shines they say. ‘Let’s do this, let’s do that,’ but they should think of the Sun, they should thank him.
So much has happened that’s irreparable; but you have to learn by accident, by the fall, or there’s no learning. And when accidents happen, not everyone gets hurt. What was inside is now outside. What was hidden is proclaimed
Ideas drag you up and down. We are slaves of our ideas. A slight temptation becomes a big burden, or a net, like the net a coolie has on his back to hold all the things there. So try and control the mind, the ideas. Whatever you do for your pleasure may later be for your bondage. Anticipation pays; it helps, it gives you room to decide, to clear a space, get a breath of fresh air. Anticipation can save a life.
Some people want things all at once. But it will come, if you give it time. Some people have to have their own nature, their privacy. Love is for the other person, it’s not for you. There’s nothing like your own community. Why always think of yourself? Others are also yourself, in another form, happy, or lonely – it’s yourself, alienated, unknown to you – so don’t render evil for evil. Come, share with joy.
It’s good to be a bit active if you’re not affected. When you go beyond the limit you need correction. I am very Krishnaic; I can kill or I can save. To say ‘I can’t help it’ is inventing a kind of disease for yourself. Then nature takes action, there is justice.
We wouldn’t survive if there was only justice. We’re definitely being overlooked [let off]: there is the grace of the Guru, and the grace of your own mind. You don’t know because you haven’t shuffled the card of divinity in the pack of 52 states of life. So grace is very important. Even revelation is not much good if you don’t understand it. ‘Greater than the vision is the interpretation of the vision.’ Therefore divine life needs explanation from a knower, or one who has been told by the Immortal preceptor. I exist before an action takes place. I am declaring it myself.
Spirituality mixed leads to insanity. But you have to know why something must be done. [Just being told] “Don’t, don’t,” doesn’t help you if you don’t know why. Let the person go through these squares. As Jesus said, ‘I don’t condemn you; go, commit sin no more.’
Every action has a reaction. But when a thought has been curbed, controlled, which a man cannot do yet, it clears away the cloud and brings the Sun. Nature is the Sun, working for the Father; one blow of the wind, and all the leaves are pushed aside, all the leaves of autumn are brushed away. Due to power of control, there’s a spontaneous manifestation without action.
The joy is for you, to present what you have brought. But the Person is everything. He is the picture, the rest is the frame. It’s all built on Prema. Self-corrective, self-adjusted. You appear at our meeting as you are. But all is to be discovered in another life. Slowly, slowly, it will come to be printed. You can’t hide forever. Everything is done hiddenly. Jesus said: “What you did in darkness shall be proclaimed.”
Where is heaven? Where is the kingdom? The kingdom is within you. God takes his time, but if you’re willing, you can untangle the loose rope [of free will], Ramakrishna says. Jesus didn’t explain why He taught us to say, “Lead us not into temptation.” He didn’t explain to the crowd, only to his own people, because if there’s no understanding it gets more confused; if you try to explain something to a child it’s no good.
Explanation is spiritual help and blessing, to reassure the doubters. But you are tepid, unawakened. You have to be the same in every breath, every thought, if possible. Confession helps. People are hypocrites, but they want to be strong. Beyond man and woman is the Paramount One – pure knowledge and bliss. Through that bliss a man is conscious of the reassurance of that blissful Reality. Then he gets knowledge to reassure him.
Heart, mind, words, action, all these should be straight together. We are trying to express what the supernatural language speaks to the heart. Abide by what we are saying. Try to decipher. It is audible trance. It’s coming out, telling you one or two words that bubble, bubbles of reality. As soon as you go from here it disappears, but here it is crystal clear, Words bubble and drop.
Life blossoms in one birth, but if you’re not careful you can lose even this birth. Do not waste it. It’s a matter of your interest. If you have assistance renewing spiritual life is easy; but depending on yourself is greater than any assistance. You have to have will power, discrimination, self-control. But allowance is given for falling. The closer you are, the greater the temptation.
A man can have love, but without will power it’s a neglected field, it’s a fruit tree that hasn’t been cultivated, the fruit left to drop, abandoned. Will power is a determination, where ‘no’ becomes a virtue, yielding becomes a vice. Will power is another word for capacity to reject. Don’t be distracted, be oblivious of surroundings.
Feeling is very dangerous. You can’t explain your weakness; it takes you over. Feeling has a rite and ritual of first introduction, then possession, then madness, a dangerous malady if you have body-mindedness. These little things are overgrowing us, they are a slow death to the soul. Everything is being chewed up slowly, swallowed, in different ways. When you wake up from this unreality then you realise how much of you has been wasted. So you must get astride the giant. The greater the temptation that comes, the greater the challenge. You have to conquer. The greatest conquest is to master yourself first, not the world.
Ganga keeps the body pure. But once we’re in the water, don’t make a mess in this water.
You have to have experience, or emotion rules you all your life long; you’re reborn in it; it goes into the subconscious. So, you are put in the forge. You are test-driven. Ramakrishna’s guru was a woman [the bairavi Brahmani]; Vivekananda’s first Western disciple was a woman, Cookie.
All this is due to lack of will power, weakness. If a man has will power he is a god. But you are yourself, however much you project yourself into another person, you are yourself. You identify but, minus the One, you are that ugly gorilla. If the field isn’t cultivated the yield is minimal. Human beings are the best produce in the world, so we believe in rebirth – next time you catch up in next birth. A strong will is the basis of discrimination.
Be spiritually minded and you attain everything. God has wanted you to serve humanity in this form. If you love your work and adhere to it, you will get a result. But you have to come to that stage of satiation. Some people are like prophets – we give you a hint.
Chastity, purity, not too much indulgence, moderate in eating, drinking, sleeping. You are an instrument, you must be in harmony. The body is a temple, like it or not. The cleaner it is, the better for the Indweller. Otherwise the body pays tax for the soul to use it.
Do your best. Say, “I don’t know any mantra. I have faith in Thee. Lead me.”
Broaden the heart to the point of having nothing tomorrow. Just live on faith and water. God provides. All failure comes from lack of will power. The actor rehearses, but you have to have this power and guts. You have to repeat, night and day. Your nature is perfection, so your standard is perfection. All you need is a good jockey with a cotton whip, and a bowl of trifle in the paddock for the horse.
Without practice there is no progress. You don’t have to practice everything; but you have to be practical in reality, honesty, dharma, being yourself without anybody, with everything in your mind, your thousand whims and fantasies. Truth conquers; otherwise the sorrow overpowers you every day.
You have to be that which is not without experience, knowledge, high consciousness, transcendental bliss. There is a special channel of grace of reassurance positive, to communicate with Truth; the path of clarity, honesty, and cleanliness. And you are the end of the destination. You start here but you are already there. So it transcends space and time.