The Satsang and Sadhana, as presented to us, by Samarth Guru Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji date back to over three quarters of a century. Since that time, the world has gone through colossal physical changes. The sun’s energy has been harnessed in the form of nuclear energy. Man has set foot on the moon. Distance has become blurred. Travel which previously required weeks or months and sometimes even years, now takes only a few hours. Instant communication, unimaginable to the average person a mere 15 years ago, is widely available through mobile phones, instant messaging and email. And so the list of innovations goes on, some major, some minor, but what is undeniable to all—is that things have changed a lot. Cataloging even the major changes of the world could easily fill the pages of a book.
Amid all of these changes, certain things have not changed over the same time period. In fact, they have never changed. Those unchangeable were spoken by the Buddha more than twenty-five centuries ago when he spoke of Four Noble Truths:
I. The Noble Truth about Suffering,
II. The Noble Truth about the Cause of Suffering,
III. The Noble Truth about the Cessation of Suffering
IV. The Noble Truth about the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.
What is The Noble Truth about Suffering? “Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, sickness is suffering; death is suffering, likewise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. Contact with the unpleasant is suffering, separation from the pleasant is suffering; unsatisfied desire is suffering. In a word, the five craving-producing aggregates of mind-and-body (corporeality, feeling, perception, predisposing mental formations, and discriminative consciousness) are suffering.”
In his monumental work, Sadhana Ke Anubhava Guru Maharaj states in the first few pages that, “Everyone has just one goal – Stay in Peace. Our entire efforts are directed towards that goal – to find peace and happiness. We spend our whole life spans, as far and as long as we can think, accumulating items of pleasure: wealth, homes, summer homes, designer clothes, luxury cars and sports cars--to name just a few. We spend our entire lives looking for comfort. We go through cycles of rebirths without satisfying this incessant craving for comfort. In fact, the more we try to gratify the wishes of these senses, the more violent their demands become. We never seem to figure out that what we are looking for is not where we are searching; it is somewhere else. We are moving like the blind that cannot see the road, and that have no sense of direction. Through ignorance and idiocy, we keep looking for happiness in those objects which have failed to provide more than fleeting pleasures in the past. Because they are fleeting, we keep getting sorrows in place of happiness. We are always in a state of stress. At times, we get the briefest glimpse of happiness, but that is like lightning in the darkness of night, it is transient, momentary. This way, we, the residents of Physical Sheaths, keep floating aimlessly through misery, gloom and despair. We keep falling on our face, but do not wake up. This is where we are.”
In this one simple paragraph, Guru Maharaj has addressed the Buddha’s first two noble truths; The Noble Truth about Suffering, and The Noble Truth about the Cause of Suffering by revealing that our misguided search for happiness through objects may provide temporary comfort but ultimately lead to further sorrow. Further, he has also told us point blank that whatever we are doing to reach our goal – attainment of peace – is not working. We will come to Guru Maharaj’s teachings later.
“We go through cycles of rebirths without satisfying this urge for comfort”, could very easily qualify for an aphorism (Sutra). “Satisfying this urge for comfort”, is the reason for continuation of rebirth. Guru Maharaj in this one, seemingly simple sentence, has invoked the theory of Sanskars, the doctrine of Karma, and the concept of Impurities. We may say, and sincerely believe, that we are tired of a dichotomous world with unfulfilled desires, with what Sankaracharya Ji called, a ‘pair of opposites’ – pleasures and pains – “the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree” – but, in fact, we are not tired at all. This is reflected by our tendencies to return and repeatedly plunge into a sense-experience cycle. It is an addiction that is far deeper than we can comprehend. Except for brief moments of our physical and spiritual hangovers, transient and temporary instances of disgust and repentance, this recurring process of craving and aversion continues. The desire to postpone death and cling to life is one of the greatest obstacles of enlightenment. To cling to life is to cling to a normal sense-consciousness; thereby shunning the superconsciousness within which the Atman is known and self is realized. And, this is our invitation to rebirths – warmly accepted and obliged by nature.
It should be noted that the other Two Noble Truths: The Noble Truth about the Cessation of Suffering, and The Noble Truth about the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering were alluded to in Guru Maharaj’s statement, “We never seem to figure out that what we are looking for is not where we are searching; it is somewhere else.” While we are all looking to Stay in Peace, the erroneous portals through which we have been searching have not led to fruitful results.
So, is Guru Maharaj’s message still relevant? To paraphrase the great philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, this is not a proper question because it assumes that a link exists between changes in the material world and those that are unchangeable. Everyday experiences reveal an absence of any linkage between the Universal Truths about Sufferings and development in the material world. Guru Maharaj’s teachings are about emphasizing the Universal Truths and conquering human sufferings. He shows us the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering in a very simple and straightforward manner. And, that’s where its relevance lies. It was relevant then. It is relevant now. And, it will remain relevant tomorrow and forever.