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" Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself, "Is it true?"
At the second ask, "Is it necessary?"
At the third gate ask "Is it kind?" "

Sufi saying

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Articles by Swami Veda Bharati

Advice for Yoga Centers and Yoga Teachers

(This is a transcript of a lecture given by Swami Veda Bharati at The Meditation Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, in 1982. Swami Veda Bharati was Pandit Usharbudh Arya at that time.)

Just a few thoughts that I'd like to share with you, simple things, very, very simple guidelines, okay? Sometimes get letters from little, beginning, struggling centers. What shall we do? We have financial problems. We don't have enough teachers. How do we publicize? How do attract members? How do we get more donations? How do we become more effective? And all those questions are so familiar from the experience that's been developed here. And I begin to give them one or two standard answers. One, your purpose as executives, administrators, teachers of the center is not the growth of the center, nor the solvency of the center, nor that you must make a success of the center and how do we go about making a success of the center? The moment you begin to think in terms of "How do we begin to attract more people so that the center keeps running?" you have immediately impeded the progress of the center.

Your work is compassion. Your work is love. You happen to have, somehow, stumbled into a tradition which is tremendously helpful. And if you are a good Christian, your work is not to expand the church, but to give out the Good News, right? You are familiar with that phrase? The Christ has come. This is the Good News. That is the work of a real missionary, not the ones sponsored by the, you know, antichrist. Your work is compassion. There is terrible, terrible suffering in the hearts and minds of people and their lives. There are tremendous weaknesses in everyone, including my spine. And while I am busy strengthening my spine, I help others to the point to which I have helped myself. No more. You cannot pretend to do more. And no less. See? So that people wherever you are can derive a benefit from you. That's the way I am trying to mold my life.

I will not say I have molded my life. I'm just trying to mold my life. I sit in an aeroplane, and I put a little brief case under me on the seat, and I sit, and I sit erect, and while the next fellow is busy taking his free one-dollar shot, no, I sit there holding my nose [in nadi shodhana] and get these glances: "Oh, what a silly thing. This man is sitting here holding his nose." And I chuckle in my mind, and I say, "There are people here doing sillier things, like smoking, and nobody gives them sideways glances." If you are certain about what you are about, there can be no doubt in your mind. There can be no fears in your mind. There can be no insecurities in your mind. There can be no embarrassment in your mind. And sometime people will come around, "What were you doing?" And I give them my Meditation Center card. I have given lessons in the aeroplane. Even the time I was flying once from India after attending to my sister's death - my only last living relative - on the way I taught at least three people. Do you need a center to teach? No, you don't. You need yourself. You need your compassion only, see? And because you need to teach because people need to be taught, therefore the center is provided. Get that straight in your mind. There are administrative problems and financial problems, and this and that, and so on and so forth, okay? But for the last ten years we have been insolvent. We are never solvent. Because our work keeps growing, see? And so the resources have to keep growing. But resources are there to support the work. The work is not there to support the resources. All right. So that's one point that in our mind we should be careful about. Then, if your work requires that you need to ask somebody for money, you will not have the embarrassment because your internal mind is clear. You have embarrassment because your internal mind is not clear, but you are uncertain of your own compassion and your own work, someplace. See?

The second thing I tell these centers is that the growth of centers in different places depends upon the personal spiritual growth of the teachers. The growth of your work depends upon your personal growth, your spirituality. Techniques come easy. Anybody can memorize all the exercises. What's the difference between a yoga teacher and an acrobat? Huh? An acrobat can twist his body into far more complex shapes than any of us is going to manage to do in this life, see? But if an acrobat came here and bent backwards and touched his nose to his heel and said, "Well, can you make me a yoga teacher?" I would say, "No." "Well, I can provide very exciting classes." "All right, I'll come and I'll pay you to enter a circus and see you. Wonderful! Keep doing your job. There you are!" So it is the personal spiritual growth.

Now, there are not too many hard formulas for that: very, very simple, platitudes; you have heard [them] all before. Keep applying them. Keep applying them. Be very clear about what yoga is all about. None of this astral stuff, and psychic stuff, and people walking about with pyramid-shaped wire hangers on their heads. No. Antennas, receiving messages from UFO's - Oh God! Some of our members recently - I would say ex-members - were in a two-page article in the newspapers, going about doing this electronic, psychic stuff, and talking about higher consciousness, you know. Stay away from that phenomenon. That's nothing to do with spirituality. You want entertainment? Go to the movies. That's fine. You can read some novels, stories - sing, dance. If you are talking of this psychic and astral stuff, know that you are giving yourself some diversion and entertainment. But so far as yoga is concerned, please stay on the straight and the narrow. And those who want that electronic, psychic stuff, let them pursue that. You have nothing to do with it. Okay? Let that be very clear because in all of us there is a temptation to want to think, "Well, there has got to be an easier way than having to sit down for a half an hour of meditation every morning. Can't I just receive a message from a UFO and pass it straight through electronic cords dug into my skull?" Neither Moses nor Christ went around wearing wire hangers around their heads. A crown of thorns I can understand. Okay? Be prepared to wear a crown of thorns. All the pursuit of miraculous powers, the desire to do mind-reading - which in any case should be banned by the privacy act. And don't attribute any of that stuff to your teachers. They have nothing to do with it. Okay?

Don't consider your teachers your emotional pegs to hang your emotions on. Don't treat us as father figures and Swamiji as a grandfather figure. Because then for a while you fulfill the need for a father figure, and then the moment we do something that is slightly unpleasant, then all the tremendous agitation and resentment you've got against your father, then it all comes pouring forth, and then that center is no good. None of that. See? Learn to stand on your own two feet and be self-inspired. Be self-inspired. Whenever you feel yourself going down, the great prophets and sages for centuries have spoken these words, have written these words, have given this guidance: Read something inspiring every day! Read something inspiring every day.

Love your family. Honor your elders, since you need father figures anyway. There can be no better father figure than your own father, no matter how badly he treated you as a child. Well, there are exceptions. There is no law that is a [perfectly] written out law.(?) But there is no better father figure than your own father. There's no better mother figure than your own mother. You just happen to know their weaknesses more because you are close to them. Ask my children about my weaknesses. Okay. Do you follow? So, love your families. Love your elders. Practice humility. Practice compassion. Love everyone on the street. But "love all" does not always mean kisses; sometimes it also means a karate chop. You see a woman being attacked. Love the woman and protect her. Love also the man who is attacking her. And because of that love, give him a karate chop, to save him from himself, out of love. And if you do it out of love, then the strength of your chop will be no less than necessary to prevent him, and no more than necessary to prevent him. Any less is violence. Any more is violence. But exact, optimum force is not violence.1 Follow? And with that view, love everyone. Give as much of yourself as you can. Keep giving. Keep giving. Keep giving. Keep giving. Keep giving. Keep thinking of more and more ways to give. Whatever it is that you can give. See? Give happiness. The greatest of the gifts in the world is giving happiness. If you have made one single person in the world happy, the Lord God in heaven will come running barefoot to see who you are. You won't have to go looking for God. God will come looking for you. I'm telling you that. The most difficult thing in life is to make other people happy. And if you have make one person happy in your life, one person, you don't have to worship God, you don't have to go to church, you don't have to sing hymns, you don't have to do any prayers, you don't even have to sit for meditation. Lord God in heaven will come running barefoot: "I have got to see this person; who is that? He is making one of my creations happy." Find ways of making people happy. Find ways of making people comfortable. Find ways of comforting people. Love all. Give. And if you have a block against giving, give. That is the only thing that removes the block. There is not other technique. If you have a block against giving, give. That alone will remove the block. If you are standing before an obstacle, the only thing that removes the obstacle is your ability to jump over it. Or the obstacle remains there standing firmly in your way. Have the courage to go ahead and give anyway.

When you learn to give, you can learn to withhold. See? Meanwhile, practice giving. This is the technique of teaching. You follow? You are here sitting and listening to me. You know why? Because I love you. See? I don't have time to see all of you separately, and I don't have two hours to spend listening to your tales of woes and sorrows, so you think I don't love you. But if all the two thousand initiates, those who have stayed around and those who are gone their way, were to demand two hours a week of my time, would I be able to give that. So I have to limit my ways of giving my love to you, see? And in spite of the complaint: "Panditji is always busy. He never has time for anybody, and so on," you know, you are here because I love you, because the guru lineage loves you, and because the guru lineage teaches me to love you. And the moment I sit down here . . . . Ordinarily I am an ordinary, a very, very ordinary human being. You don't know that. And the moment I sit down here, the Guru Lineage takes over, and it's their love that begins to flow and opens my mouth. And I promise to speak for ten minutes, and I'm speaking for twenty.

I'll tell you one more secret of success in life. It's a very simple trick. Very difficult to master because you have doubts. Everybody here has doubts. When you sit and listen to it, you say, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Oh yeah! That's right. Ah ha!" But the moment you put on your shoes, there is some black magic in the shoes. The moment you put on your shoes to walk out of here, the black magic takes over, and you say, "Hum? Well, I've got to think about it." And you take off your shoes, and the black magic is there all over your feet. The next time you buy shoes, find some that have not been hexed. I'll tell you one secret. I'll tell you two or three little secrets, okay? Wherever you go, wherever you sit down, you sit in a bus, you sit in your car seat, you go to a party, even if you are going to get drunk, it doesn't matter. . . . Wherever you go and sit down - you come in here and sit down - okay? - mentally, without any ritual, without letting on that you are doing anything unusual at all, behaving among the rogues as a fellow rogue - do you follow? Wherever you sit - if you are a policeman and sit in a policeman's chair, and if you have been arrested and have to go sit waiting on a bench, or you sit waiting in a doctor's office. . . . Wherever you go and sit down - okay? - mentally say your mantra three times, and surrender that seat to the Guru Lineage. You don't know what "Guru Lineage" means. Let me say this plain and simple. No matter how much we talk about it, you have no idea at present. Only when you begin to teach, you begin to suspect that there is somebody who is helping you teach. But you can't figure it out. You can't quite pinpoint it. Okay? Wherever you sit down, mentally surrender your seat to the Holy Ghost, to the Guru Lineage, to the teaching Spirit of the Universe, through the tradition that is yours. You say, "I am here; this is Thine." It doesn't matter what you are doing. Even if you go and sit in a prostitute's house. And those who have never gone to a prostitute's house should go, because if you don't, who else will? Do you understand? Don't they suffer? Wherever there is suffering, that is your place. See? Charita bhikko charakam. Bahujana hitaya. Bahujana sukhaya. When the Buddha sent out his first band of monks, he said, "Monks, wander, for the benefit of the many, for the comfort of the many." "Monks, wander," he said, "for the benefit of the many, for the comfort of the many." "Monks, wander. . . . " That is the motto - Bahujana hitaya. Bahujana sukhaya - ". . . for the benefit of the many, for the comfort of the many." So wherever you go and sit down, just remember the Guru Spirit and mentally surrender that seat. Don't make it look odd. Don't do anything psychic, astral, you know - close your eyes or roll your eyes up or down or sideways, you know. In the eyes of the world be normal.

The wiser you get, the more idiotic you should act in the world. That is a principle. It's been given to the disciples throughout the centuries. The wiser you get, the more idiotic you should act. See? One time Swami was telling me this. Some place he was staying and there were too many people gathering, too many people gathering, too many people gathering, bothering: 'Swamiji, I want a child. Swamiji, my husband is quarreling with me. Swamiji, my wife is . . . . ' "'I can't sit down to meditate.' And I was trying to tell my host to save me from this crowd and this throng. I don't want any of it. And the less I want, the more they come. So one day when the time was for all the people to come, I sat down with this Johnny Walker whisky bottle. I filled it with water. And when people came and sat down, here I was pouring from the Johnny Walker whisky bottle into a glass and drinking and acting stupid. After three days everybody stopped coming." He has all these funny stories to tell.

Oh yes, one day he was in the mountains, here in the Rockies, and he had gone away to be alone. And he was walking in the town of Vale, Colorado. And somebody from behind over there across the street shouted, "Swami Rama!" "So I kept walking." "Swami Rama!" "I just kept walking. He came across the street, running after me: "Swami Rama!" "Oh," I said, "You must be mistaken. You are thinking of my twin brother. I have a twin brother that looks exactly like me, and people always mistake me to be Swami Rama."

So, whatever you practice, practice unostentatiously, without any external demonstration. Wherever you sit, sit down there, surrender that seat to the guru, say you mantra three time, carry on with whatever you are doing. And keep doing it, even if nothing happens. I'm telling you a very great secret. Whatever success I have had in helping people in any way, or making my own progress, has come from this one secret, nothing else. When I need something, before I ask anyone, I ask my Great Mother. See? Wherever you walk, carry God in your heart, just in your heart, locked away safely, like a precious treasure. When you have a treasure, you don't go around showing it to everybody. Okay? You have no idea what God is. Okay, the Methodists say one thing; the Baptists say something else, you know. And that man Khoumeni has his own idea of God. You have no idea what God is, but carry the thought in your heart anyway. Wherever you are, carry, even when you are in the loving embrace of your spouse, love God. I read a beautiful sentence from Rabindranath Tagore yesterday: "In love God kisses the finite. In love man kisses the Infinite." In love God kisses the finite, and man kisses the Infinite." So, always kiss the Infinite in whomever you kiss.

That leads us to one more principle: If you want to be an effective person, effective, to be able to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish over the years. It will not come in one day. I will tell you two secrets. Keep your sexual thoughts limited to one person. It will give you tremendous energy. It will save the unnecessary discharges of energy from your body and mind. You will conserve your mental energy, and you will learn to channel it. And secondly, do sex when you are doing sex, but don't do it all the time. Don't keep doing it just walking about here and there. It will also make your sexual experience tremendously more intense, joyful, and pleasant. Two things. I'm not asking you to take the vows of celibacy. You are not monks. See? You are people of the world. Next to God, sex is perhaps the greatest pleasure. If you want to enjoy sex, if you really want to enjoys sex and have some satisfaction from it, it will not come from what the books on Kama Shastra, the Kama Sutras, have called sashu-vrtti (the way of a rabbit), which is the way of most people who are uneducated in the art of sex - little discharge here, little discharge there, little discharge there, little discharge there. That's not the way of enjoying sex, of gaining satisfaction in sex. Save your mental energy for one person and I assure you it is not possible for one man and one woman to finish exploring each other in one lifetime. Human beings are tremendous walking treasures. It's not possible! People say, "My sex life has become boring." I don't understand that. I am puzzled as to what they are saying. There are only two secrets to a successful sexual life. Save your sexual thoughts for one person, and don't do sex when you are not doing sex. It's impossible for an average person to follow this second rule, but try it anyway. In about twenty years time you will begin to experience satisfaction. And if you don't follow this rule, you will die, but you will never have said, "I have received satisfaction in my sexual life." The difference between the pleasure of sex and the pleasure of God is - between the pleasure of sex and the pleasure of meditation is - in the pleasure of sex you always have the expectation of satisfaction, but never the satisfaction. The moment you have done the act, you are not satisfied. You want some more some other way. In meditation there is satisfaction. But in sex you begin to derive some satisfaction by following these rules. Kiss the Infinite. Save your sexual energy for one person. So sex only when you are doing sex. These are the three principles. I can say a fourth. The fourth is to constantly give of yourself for the pleasure of the other. There is no fifth. What does it have to do with teachers. These are matters of personal spiritual growth. This is the art of love. This is also the conserving of your mental energy, which you discharge uselessly. You can make love to your wife or husband every day, but only at the time you are making love, and you are a celibate. And you will be surprised when you follow these three or four rules, you will be surprised at the tremendous amount of love that grows in you because of that energy which you have not uselessly discharged. Do you understand? Don't go say to your husband or your wife, "Well, darling, you know I am a teacher at The Meditation Center, and we believe in celibacy. You can practice celibacy if you know the art of sex. And these are the four things. The energy that you will conserve by following these principles flows out from you as love and compassion. For the rest of the creation you will come and sit before the class, and your one glance will say, "Yes, he loves us." And you will speak from the Heart. And people will listen to you. And you will be effective. You will be an effective teacher. It will also help you overcome many, many, many, many other emotional turmoils. See? Restraint is not repression. Restraint is conversation of energy. And all the power, the so-called powers of effectiveness attributed to the saints, the spiritual teachers and so on, derive from not from repression, but from that restraint which is the conservation of energy.

And with all of that then comes the need to constantly train yourself, constantly train yourself, read more on yoga, make experiments with your postures, observe yourself, observe the effects of diet on you, observe the effects of your emotions on you, observe, observe, self-observation, self-observation, and your practice of meditation. The physical yoga practice is a meditation also. And your meditation is meditation. And no matter how busy you are, don't stop your meditation. Before you sit down to meditation, you will say, "My, I have this to do, and I have that to do. Now how am I going to get it all done? And I don't have this half hour to spare." So people don't sit for the meditation - "I'm too busy." The moment that you sit down, you will find that you have that half hour to spare, and no great earth-shaking harm came to you. And all your affairs were taken care of, you know. Busy-ness is no excuse. Meditation makes time for itself. And when you have practiced meditation and learned to direct your mind, automatically you will find that you are able to accomplish in less time the very things in which you previously took more time. Because, you see, the time we take in accomplishing things in life is not the time taken in actually doing it, but the time we take in being confused about what we have to do. See? And that confusion clears away, see? You are too busy to sit down only until you sit down. When you do actually sit down, you will find there is time, and your affairs will be taken care of.

And these are the basic principles of growth in anyone who is a teacher. To be a teacher you don't have to be teaching classes. When you are filled with the energy, love and compassion, the students come to you. They gather around you, whether you are in a center or you're not in a center. Wherever you are, that center is there. See? A man like Swami Rama comes to the United States. He does not bring a center with him. I did not first create the Center and then start teaching. If today you throw me bodily out of the Center, do you think I'll be without a center? Huh? I'll stand at an airport; I'll have my center there. The center is in you. The rest is an arrangement for effectiveness. It's a support system. All the membership, all the finance, all the contribution. No? It's a support system, a shelter, a roof, a place where people can, well, have a rug to do their postures on.

And you people have provided that space. That is great. The teachers come and give of their time and give of their services. But one thing aches me. Many of our teachers are not really paying attention to their own spiritual growth. That is what aches me. They're not keeping up with the studies. They're not keeping themselves informed. They're not trimming the fat off of the mind. No. And that really aches me! It really aches me! And that is what I would like to see happen - tremendous growth in the people. You know?

All right. Listen to this again and again. And if I don't speak to you for the next ten years, what I've said to you this morning is enough for you for the next ten years. And above all, be self-inspired. Okay. God bless you. Thank you.

I've been meaning to read to you some passages:

We find the Buddha praising an Almsman who in his doctrinal discourse was demonstrating to the brethren, making the Law acceptable to them, setting them afire, gladdening them with urbane words, well- enunciated without hoarseness, with exposition of the meaning, pertinent and unbiased. We see the Buddha explain his teaching to his audience. He said, "Whatever may be their sort, I make myself of the like sort, whatever their language, I speak that language" - becoming as we are that we may be as he is. "But they knew me not when I spoke, and would ask 'Who may this be that speaks thus, a man or a god?' Whereupon I demonstrated the Law, made it acceptable to them, set them on fire, gladdened them. Whatever is not adapted to such and such persons as, are to be taught, cannot be called teaching."

So you have to know intuitively who you are speaking to, and how to speak to him. Thank you.


1Swami Rama's motto for the Himalayan Institute is from the Bhagavad-gita II.50:  yogah karmasu kausalam  = "Yoga is skillfulness in action."