(The following is based on part of a discourse by Guru Maharaj on the eve of the Gwalior Bhandara. This is reproduced in Amulaya Niddhi, Vol. III, Chapter 22). In this discourse, Guru Maharaj briefly traces the history of Scriptures leading to four basic questions. In the words of The Buddha, these questions (which He termed as the Four Noble Truths) are as follows:
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
Every Scripture has tried to answer those questions. Guru Maharaj takes us on a journey (a thought experiment) to answer and help us understand these truths. Let us join Guru Maharaj on this journey.
As we leave Mathura with Guru Maharaj, we cross Agra; clouds start appearing on the horizon. Soon it is drizzling, followed by a storm. Fields become flooded. Those drizzles, composed of small droplets, come together to break the boundaries of the fields. These small droplets become flood water and rush forth, breaking all barriers to the river Chambal. Chambal merges into the Yamuna river near the town of Ettawa, which merges into the Ganges near Allahabad. The Ganges merges into the sea to lose its ferocity, frenzy, and restiveness. By reaching its objective, the source, the origin, the river rests in peace.
In the second phase of the journey, Guru Maharaj takes us through what in the Meteorological world is known as The Water Cycle.
Water in oceans and seas is heated by the sun. It evaporates as vapor into the atmosphere. Rising air currents take the vapor up into the atmosphere where cooler temperatures cause it to condense into clouds. Air currents move water vapor around the globe; cloud particles collide, grow, and fall out of the upper atmospheric layers as rain. Droplets become separated from its source, the ocean. But the intense desire to unite with the origin continues as runoff enters rivers, moving towards the ocean. Over time, the water (droplet) returns to the ocean, the origin, completing The Water Cycle.
The Atman enshrined in our bodies is similar to the droplets separated from its origin. However, the droplets always remember their source, the ocean, whereas we have forgotten our origin, the Brahman. This is the reason that no matter what one does, the soul is always in a state of restiveness. As long as it does not unite with the source, the soul’s miseries won’t end. That’s why the scriptures tell us to go from where our fall occurred. If the air is cooler and more soothing towards the Himalayas, then proceed in that direction. However, we don’t always move in the right destination. We are travelling, but not in the right direction. To move towards the right destination, we have to change our mindset. However, when an aspirant tries to do this alone, he runs into huge obstacles.
We and He, the Atman and the Brahman are separated by a huge lake. This lake is called the ocean of Maya. To reach Him, to get to the origin, there is no other way than to cross this ocean of Maya. If we move in His direction by enduring torments, then all our miseries will be over. There will always be a few, like sinking worms, who enjoy where they are; most would like to be free of misery.
The art of swimming is required to cross this ocean. During the rainy season, there is a marathon for swimmers. Swimmers jump into the Yamuna under the watchful eyes of their coaches. A few of them begin to drown. However, when their coach sees them drowning, he pushes them across the river.
In spiritual world the one who teaches the art of swimming the ocean of Maya is known as the Guru. After teaching the art of swimming, the Guru lets the aspirant go and swim. But, when the Guru sees the aspirant drowning, he pushes the aspirant across the ocean, provided the aspirant does not let the Guru out of his sight. God is on the other side of this ocean of Maya. The only way of getting to Him is to learn the art of swimming from someone and get his help. Simply talking and discussing won’t get us anywhere in this journey. Do not let Guru Maharaj out of sight. He is with us and He will push us to the other end of the ocean: the origin, the source, the ultimate resting place. Our Sadhana represented by the art of swimming, combined with the guidance of Guru Maharaj—our “swimming coach”—shows us how to reach the opposite shore and rid ourselves of all miseries.