Foundation Of Friendship – By Sadhu Brahmviharidas

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Foundation of Friendship By Brahmvihari Swami

In the divine presence of Lord Swaminarayan. In the most holy presence of Guruhari Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Reverred saints, devotees and guests. On this special evening of friendship, I take this opportunity of welcoming you on behalf of the whole institution. The topic I am dealing with is foundation of friendship.

Once what happened that a Sadhu arrived late for a lecture. Even all the audience was disturbed, demanding a reason  why the Sadhu was late? The Sadhu clarified. He said, ‘I am late because my car ran out of petrol. And I had to visit a petrol station which had run out of petrol. Because for the last week, not a single – not a single container of petrol had offloaded in that station. Because the quota that India was suppose to receive from the middle east countries was somehow disturbed. Because one officer of Indian country, he did not prepare for the meeting in opaque, that’s why I’m late in your assembly.’ He suggested that we live in a world of interdependency. Times have gone when we can lock ourselves in a cave and feel alone and feel safe. You have no choice. We live in a world of multinationals, with multiple interests, with multi channels where at a finger-tip, the whole world is with you or you are with the whole world. We cannot just close ourselves and disconnect ourselves with the rest of the world. What I am trying to get at that we live in a world where we don’t have a choice. We have to live interconnectedly, interdependently. If something happens to a country’s economy in one end, it slowly perculates and affects the entire world. If some bank collapses, sooner or later we feel the vibrations. If something happens to anyone in any corner of the world, somehow we are connected. Because the more civilized we become, many more are the connections. I am not trying to tell you any special other thing but even scientists and environmentalists are discovering a fact that there is a giant ecosystem. And if the temperature of the seas at one end of the world rise, you get the El Nino and you can a get the direct change in the environment of entire world. So one temperature change can affect the climate, wait with me, I am coming at a point. If they tell us you cut 2000 trees in the Amazon jungle then the rain cycle is disturbed right around the world. If cutting of trees can disturb the rain cycle.

The Chinese learnt this in a more difficult way. They found out that their rice fields; they were always fit with cobwebs of spiders. It looked ugly. So they did an experiment and they removed all the spiders from the rice field and you know, what happened? There were special germs that survived and grew, who ate up rice. So the Chinese felt that we have to grow the spiders back. So they started having spider farms and planting the spiders back. If you took away the spiders, you took away the rice. The whole system is interconnected. Not only that they also tell us that one volcanic eruption effuse enough chemicals in the air to create a pollution gas all over the world.

Now my question is very simple that the entire world is like a giant spider web. If you move one strand here, it disturbs the whole cobweb.

My big question is if you cut away 2000 trees, you are disturbing the world. What if you kill 2000 people? Doesn’t it disturb the world? Do we seriously think about it? We worry about planting trees but how many of us worry about saving lives? If wiping out of the population of spider disturbs the world. Then this all that is going on. Sudden extinctions, the famines then disturbance, where human are killed, slowly that affects our system. But who cares? Perhaps, we are the only species that can contemplate the end of ourselves and feel not worried. You know, the lion never contemplates that one day the world will be without lions. The monkeys don’t have the brain to think that one day the world will be without monkeys. Human beings are the only beings who think that one day if there might not been any human being. And still in morning  we can drink the hot cup of tea happily. We can think of our own end and do nothing about it. My question is that something has to be done. The choice is very simple. Either we can choose to live as friend or either we can choose to live as enemies. We have to live. The choice is ours. You know, one beautiful example somebody gave me.

A husband and wife were travelling in a train and a waiter came into the special comfortable first class train and asked the man. And before he could ask the man, the wife was constantly nagging. She had a mink coat, expensive jewellery. Everything was set. She looked out of the window. She was complaining about the weather. Complaining about the AC. Complaining about the food. Constantly nagging. The waiter tried to be friendly and he said, ‘Excuse me Sir, do you often travel in this train?’

He said, ‘We often travel in this train.’

‘May I know, what job you do Sir, your profession?’

He said, ‘I am in the manufacturing business.’

He said, ‘What do you manufacture?’

He said, ‘I manufacture soap.’

‘And what about your wife?’

‘She is also in the manufacturing business.’

‘What does she manufacture?’

‘She manufactures her own happiness.’

It is very important that it is choice of ours whether we act as friend or whether we act as enemy. One philosopher has said, ‘Nobody in the world has a right to make you unhappy. We choose to be unhappy.’ Nobody can put a gun unto your head and say be unhappy. We have seen great examples of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj where the situation is totally negative; it gives you all the rights to be unhappy and still there have been smile on there faces. Nobody can force you to be unhappy.

My question is that surely we can choose to be friends with underlying unity. You know, what happens in the world? To bring us closer together, the only thing that the people in the world who are modern, who think, who are professionals. They come up with phrases that bring us closer together. Very important, they say, ‘We live on the same earth so we are close together.’

But where is the unity, by just saying we live on earth? We are inhabitants of earth but still we are different. They say, ‘We are one race human beings, so we must be united.’ But even human beings, some are white, some are black, some are brown. They say, ‘Okay okay, let’s forget the skin. But underneath our skin, our blood is red. Common colour.’ But there again the doctors will tell us, it is O+ or negative. Recess minus or positive. You know they tell us either we indeed bring out the invention of common blood. They are working on that to transfuse same blood on anybody. For the first time, in one month, they are coming up. Japan coming up with powdered blood. But I tell you underneath that blood our ideas are different. Be honest. Our motives are different. Our beliefs are different.

Then what is the essential unity that can bring us together? The foundation of friendship, where we can learn to be friends with everyone on a common ground. On this particular event, we have to turn to the Upanishads. No other religion tells this. In the Bible, first thing they say, ‘The world is created for your own enjoyment so be powerful and suppress the world.’ You read the old testament, first page. Only in the Upanishads they say, Ishopanishad, ‘Ishavashaya Idam Sarvam Yat Kinchat Jagatyam Jagati.’ It says everything in the world that moves, animate, inanimate. Everything in the world, there is the presence of divine. And that is the common link in every being in the world has. If we identify with this common link that is the spiritual outlook – God. Then automatically we would have nice foundation and a very positive healthy friendship. And this is essential. Also in the Chhandogya Upanishad, they say that, ‘Eken vignaten sarvam vignatam bhavati.’ By knowing that underlying principle of God, you will be able to know everything.

I ask you in which direction science is moving. First science judged in by shapes, size and properties. Then the Dalton said, ‘Atoms.’ Then the Rutherford picked the atoms and said, ‘Oh wait a minute, there is nucleus.’ Then they have gone into fermions, the particle accelerating. Finding inside the atom, they are looking into common force. They are coming with mesons, quarks, prequarks. Scientists are trying to find the underlying universal combining unifying element who identify the whole world. And here our Upanishads tell us that God is the present and most important element in the whole world. If we understand this element of God. If we understand this force of spirituality then we would have a very strong foundation on which to build our friendship. Don’t believe me because I say so. There are people who have gone out in this world into another direction and have come to this path. You have heard of the name of Carl Jung. One of the greatest psychologist of the world. He writes that, ‘In 40 years of my life, civilized  men not uncivilized, civilized men from almost all developed countries of the world.’ Because he was a psychologist and most problems of psychologist, you know are referred from the civilized countries. He said, ‘Civilized men from all the developed countries of the world have consulted me. In my 40 years, I have found that every problem was pinpointed to regaining a spiritual outlook in life and not a single patient is cured who did not regain his spiritual outlook.’ This is said by Carl Jung – a famous psychologist. You look in the term of clean politics – Abraham Lincoln. He says, ‘When everyone on this earth deserted me.’ You know, he was deserted by everyone. By the people, by his own wife. Neighbors said, they saw Lincoln being chased by the broom stick by his wife, holding a broomstick almost three times a week. So don’t worry if you have a problem, you know. Lincoln, three times a week he was seen being chased by a broomstick by his wife. He says, ‘When everyone on this earth has deserted me, I still know that deep down in my heart there is a friend alive, who I can refer to and that friend is God.’ If Jung says, ‘God is important.’ If Lincoln says, ‘God is important.’ If Gandhi says that, ‘All the powers I possess in my political field are the result of my direct experiments in the spiritual field. Whatever you see in my special field is direct experiment of my spiritual field.‘ But though they tell us that the spiritual outlook of friendship with God, it works. We are human beings and professionals and we are trained to doubt. You know sometimes why a baby learns fast? Because he does not doubt. Remember if you could not walk at the walk after the age of professional, nobody would take a step. The baby knows that, ‘I may not fall, I may not dwell.’ So the baby learns to walk. That’s why, they tell us that we learn the most when we are young because we are faithful. The older we get, we become more faithless. So we have a question that does a friendship with God, would it work?

You know, because our situation is always bargaining. We live in a world. It is not your problem or our problem. We have always been talked to bargain first.

What happened that one man, he went on mountaineering. He slipped on a cliff & while he was stumbling down, he got hold of a root. And while he was dangling on the root, he started praying to God. He said, ‘O God ! I have been praying to you from my last 30 years. This is your time to save me. Save me. Save me.’ And then there was suddenly a heavy voice – Akashvani and God said, ‘You called?’

‘Yes God exactly God. Can’t you recognize my voice?’ He said, ‘God why are you waiting? Please save me. I’m dangling from this root. Please save me. I had been praying to you.’

God said, ‘Under one condition.’

He said, ‘What?’

‘You let go off the root and I will catch you.’

He said, ‘No please. Hold me first then I will let go off the root.’

This is our bargaining system. We want to be friends. We want to relate. Will you always say that God you finish my job first and then I will do mine? And God says, ‘First you do mine and then I will do the job.’

Even he has understood, you know. He has understood that if I meet the present demand of the situation, it has to be different. But I will answer your question very clearly. If the question remains that, would a friendship with God work? My simple answer is that friendship works at all levels of life. Very simple. Listen to this simple experiment in 1973. A very famous doctor. Some of you have heard of his name. He is a German doctor. His name is Doctor Hans Rider. He was experimenting with plants. He had a simple cactus plant in his home and everyday, he would get up & talk to that plant and say, ‘Look dear cactus, you don’t need to have thorns in my house. I am friends with you.’ For six and a half month, he continued talking to that cactus, relating some emotions and he writes in his experimental book. He says that, ‘After six and a half month, a new shoot appeared on that cactus plant without any thorns.’

If a cactus listens. Don’t you think God would listen? If a plant before which you can extend your friendship, it works. Even with an animal, it works. You be friendly with an animal, it works. One man, somewhere near Atlanta, he had a habit. You know some people have some weird habits. He had a habit of keeping pet bears. Its difficult, wild bears. Haann. They grow to a massive size. And when the baby bear was with him. Suddenly due to some career change, he had to change his home. And in the plane you can’t take the baby bear, you know. You can take almost everything, you can’t take wild animals. So this man, he went to the local zoo and he deposited the bear. He said, ‘Please keep this bear. I can’t take it with me. But I am donating it to the zoo.’ The zookeeper put the bear because there was no wild bear. This was the only bear, so he put the bear inside the cage. And this man went. After 3 years, he came back to his place; straight away he went to the zoo. And when he went to the zoo, he asked the zookeeper. He said, ‘Open this cage.’ The zookeeper said, ‘Sir this is the wild bear. You can’t mess around with it. It will kill you.’ He said, ‘Just open this cage. I’m writing it on my note that this is my responsibility.’ A crowd gathered. He went into the cage. For about 20-25 minutes, he played with the bear. Hitting it. Playing with it. Wrestling with it. And after a lot of sweat and fun, he came out. And then he locked the door and the zookeeper & people were amazed. They said, ‘How could he do it?’

He said, ‘Well ! You don’t know. This was the baby bear which I had donated. It was my pet bear. I could relate to it. It’s my friend.’

And the zookeeper said, ‘Sir how long you donated before.’ He said, ‘Three years ago.’

He said, ‘Your bear died two years ago. This is a new bear.’

He said, ‘Oh my God. Thank you for telling me.’

But the purport of this story is. In his mind, if he was related this bear as friendly with him. It responded. Be friendly. If plants respond. If animals respond. Then the Creator responds. You need to have that emotion to convey that friendliness and then there is a response. Let’s look at example of friendly. Simple human beings been friendly. A lot of you have friends. But this is the classic example and I have not come across anything better than this.

The time was 30th June 1975. I am giving you with dates because you might doubt this thing. It is good to be true but it is true. 30th June 1975. Three friends – one was John Kle & two other friends had gone yachting offshore Manhattan. And the seas were rough. It was 7:30 pm. It was cold and suddenly the boat capsized and John Kle fell into the water. Two people got onto the boat back. They could not find in the darkness this fellow – John Kle. It was about 4 miles offshore. The water was freezing and it had become dark. The coast guards couldn’t find him. The helicopters could not find him. This man was a swimmer. But four miles in freezing weather and when you loose hope, it’s impossible. He started swimming towards the shore. Halfway about two miles, he started drowning. He said, ‘I can’t make it.’ Suddenly in the distance, he saw the empire state building and the lights of the empire state building inspired him. He looked at the building and he swam. About 1 mile to go and he was capsized in, totally drowning. What happened. He writes that, ‘He did not have any breath left in his lungs.’ Suddenly out of the blue, you know there they have boys. Small floating boys. Out of the blue, a simple boy just came and strucked to his chest. He said, ‘He didn’t have the strength to stretch out his arms and hold that boy.’ But he came to his chest. He held it and swam and he came to the shore. In the morning, he was hypothermic. Totally blue. They took him to the hospital. And when the news passed in the morning, that this boy John Kle has surprisingly survived. One of his friend Bert specially came to the hospital and said, ‘You know something John.’ He said, ‘What?’

He said, ‘Yesterday night, we were remembering you again and again.’

He said, ‘Around what time?’

He said, ‘Around 8 ‘o’ clock.’

He said, ‘Where were you?’

He said, ‘We were on the top of empire state building and we were looking at the seas and I was saying that seas are so rough. If anybody could swim the sea, it would be John Kle.’

He said, ‘I was constantly.’ He said, ‘But I was constantly looking at the empire state building and getting inspiration.’ Forget about this, after one week in hospital, he got a letter from his another friend. His name was Hitch and Hitch wrote a letter from the Caribbean about 2000 miles. He said, ‘John, just in this evening I am sitting on the beach and I’m getting your thoughts and I am always thinking you are a good swimmer. I am just writing to you that I remembered you while out in a beach. The time is about 8 ‘o’ clock.’ American time. In it said, ‘In my sleep I am kept on getting a number 978 978 978. I don’t know what it is.’ This man – John Kle, he got up from the bed and went into the bedroom. He brought the ball and on that ball, there was a number 978. He writes, the scientists have asked and article appeared on Reader’s Digest that Who Saved John Kle?  Was it a miracle or was it friendship? Three friends combining at a different level, you can create waves that can help each other. If friendship works with plants. If friendship works with animals. If friendship works with friends. Then definitely friendship works with God. We have been nursed on the idea of Sudama and Krishna. A long-long friendship. There is the delay but it works magically. Don’t worry about it. It works. Draupadi and Krishna. When Draupadi had Krishna, there was no imagination for Draupadi that one day Krishna would put the whole textile mill for my protection. You know. Everything would be created on an instant. She did not know but friendship works. There is also an incident of Lord Swaminarayan, that one of his devotee. He had a small home in a small village Sarangpur. Because of mighty rains, it was collapsing and everything was helter-skelter. Lord Swaminarayan personally went, took the beam of his house on his shoulders and helped that devotee. Friendship works. It not only works here. It works in every field. Don’t tell me, ‘Swamiji, we are professionals and would it work for me?’ Definitely. All the doctors know that the new medicine. The new medicine tells us that while you give medicine to your patient, also pray for them. It works. You know, he keeps your face happy and it works. It works and definitely so many proofs are coming in that Double Blind experiment. That patients have been prayed for and those who have not been. It works. And definitely if it works on them, it works for you. Even in sports. You might ask, ‘Swami, what’s at the level of sports?’ Now I will tell you, we are in demand in sports as well haan. First time initially in football or cricket, they only kept physiotherapist. If something happened to the player. You know, then they massage his legs and take him off. Now they also keep psychologists. If they lose, they need psychological health. Don’t they have to perform? They can’t get out on zero. They have to perform. First time in the whole world, Germany in world cup football, they took physiotherapists. They took psychologists and they took two Padris  to pray for the team. So we are in demand, don’t worry. This is very important even in sports, there are sayings that friendship with God works. Even in astronauts, they are training the astronauts to deal with their own minds. You know, what NASA’s latest research tells us. He says, ‘The biggest difficulty the astronauts are having is not to trying to adjust with a life there. It is trying to adjust their own thoughts.’ And what did Arjuna tell Krishna? Arjun said, ‘I can’t adjust to my own thoughts.’ This is spirituality. It is coming in, in different level with vengeance with much more power than we need to have a friendship with God. But in every friendship. In my conclusion, I want to say, friendship cannot form by just saying that, ‘I love you’ and ‘You love me.’ Love is a very hollow word and it just not happens like that by saying, ‘I love you’ or ‘You love me’. Friendship is an event of commitment. Can you see, if you don’t have commitment for other person, you can’t be friends. If in your marriage, 200 people come but if your friend doesn’t come, its a failure. You know. You have to wait for your friend and that’s important. If you are going in a bus and the whole bus goes, while you wait for another bus and you tell your friend, ‘You know, I missed the bus for you.’ It works. To commit to your friend and that commitment creates friendship. No bargaining, playing commitments. And the biggest thing Pramukh Swami does is, he has a commitment. The last thing I also want to tell you that what is the proof that friendship with God works. The biggest proof on this earth that friendship with God works is Pramukh Swami himself. He is not a one man effort. He is a cooperate effort. Human God, you know. You will never see him alone. There is always a murti of God with him. Even if he is alone you ask him, he is always praying. And the biggest thing in his friendship is the Commitment. There cannot be a friendship without commitment. You know the commitment is, you have seen at 8 ‘o’ clock today; hundreds of people have seen Pramukh Swami in joint assemblies which are about two lacs or three lacs in a massive organization. But Sadhus have seen him, 2:30 at night, secretly getting up and praying. It was in London that at 2:30 at night, secretly getting up and praying. It was in London that at 2:30 at night Pramukh Swami was awaking in his bed and praying for one hour. When Yogicharan Swami asked him, ‘Swami, what are you doing?’ And you know, what he said? Swami said, ‘Ki desh ma varshat parvanu nathi hu lage chhe, ta itya thedu kona taklif pad chhetela ene maate prathna karu chhu.‘ “In our country there is no rain and people are suffering; so that’s why I’m praying to God.”  We were relaxed in India. We were not worried. When the Sadhu asked him that, ‘Swami do you often wake up at night and pray like this?’ Because he was caught off-handed. And he said, ‘Yes I often wake up.’ He said, ‘Why do you wake up and pray at night 2:30?’ He said, ‘It is much more quieter at night and nobody is around.’ You know, we would like to make a show of our prayers. Here when nobody is around he said, ‘But what do you pray for?’

Listen to this. Swami says that, ‘In the morning hundreds of devotees come to me and give their problems to me. In the morning, I don’t have time to pray for them. So I pray for the problems that people have given me, at night.’ That person has deposited the problem and he has gone to his sleep. And he is awaken. The beautiful part is that he is committed. People asks us that, ‘Swami ji, why is that Pramukh Swami Ji has inspired 6500 centers?’ Haan. It is easy to deliver a lecture or do a katha then go away but to develop a center?

‘6500 centers,’ People ask me.

‘Why 6500 centers? How can you do it? How come there are millions people committed to him? How come there 40,000 volunteers?’

You know, we are member of the United Nations. NGO in consultative status with a socio economic council in United Nations. And when our first report went to the United Nations and they found out that, ‘Every year in this institution, there are 11 million man hours of volunteering service.’ They asked us that, ‘This is the only organization, 11 million volunteering annually volunteer services.’ It is amazing. They asked, ‘You prepare a special report and give it.’ My question is that despite the fact there is so many thing, how come Pramukh Swami handles people?

And the answer is, you know, people are committed to him. Because he is committed to people. You may be anybody, he is committed to you. A simple example. In Sarangpur, a village where Swami was moving; one man came and stopped him in his track. And after ten minutes of talking with him. Nobody could understand what the man wanted? So people of the village came smiling and said, ‘Swami don’t waste your time with him. He is a mad-man.’ You know Pramukh Swami said, ‘He is a mad-man. But he has a question, so I have time for him.’ If he has the time for people who are considered to be mad then we are saying. He has time for us. He has time, the commitment is there.

Once Swami was travelling from Amalner to Mumbai. In the car, he read only one letter. The journey is of about 2 hours. He read only one letter. You know the size of the letter? It was 72 pages long. So the Sadhu told him, ‘Swamiji it’s like a novel.’ You know, I mean 72 pages long letter and the Sadhu says, ‘Swami, I will underline the most important points. Don’t go to the trouble.’ Swami said, ‘The person who has written it, you know, he has gone to the trouble, why shouldn’t I go to the trouble?’ The Commitment. You know, we tell our family that we go on a holiday. Write a letter. Write a letter. We buy a ready made card then. We sign it and then send it. We don’t have time to our own family members. You don’t have time to write to your patients. You don’t have time to write to your own clients. A ready-made greeting card. Here Swamiji has written and replied, Half a million letters. Think about it. Let it sink in your head. Half a million letters. Written. Read. And replied. But the most powerful part of Swamiji is in a commitment he gives to his people, the most powerful is he forgives. Friendship remains when you give forgive. If your friend is late and you if really feel he is your friend. Forgive him. You know, what happens? We forgive everybody else but we can’t forgive our friends. If you are travelling on a road and somebody swears at you; you don’t mind. If your friend swears at you, you say, ‘Mitra thaye ne kare chhe?’ “My friend is doing this to me.”

‘Bhai mitra chhe ne ta forgive karo na.’ “If he is your friend, then forgive him.” The idea should be that, you should give and forgive.

One boy, he was a compulsive gambler. He used to be my old school friend. I told him, ‘You come to Swami and give up gambling.’ Because in one year he had lost 62000 pounds. Stunning. One year in England. I said, ‘You come to Swami and give up that gambling and ask him.’ He said, ‘No no no that if I come to Swami and then if I can’t  give up and you know; I can’t do this.’ And I told Swami that, ‘Swami, this boy doesn’t want to come because he feels that what will you think?’ Swami said. Most simple. I am doing say it in Gujarati. ‘Kene kejo Sant chhe ne Brahmand na paap maaf kari saki chhe, aa jua to thai na thi.

He said, ‘Say to him that a Saint has the ability to forgive the sins of whole universe then gambling is nothing.’

He gives you the opportunity to change. If you have the power to confide in a friend. He gives you the opportunity to change. So many people have come and he changes that revenge into something else.

 

Jai Swaminarayan

About The Speaker :

Sadhu Brahmviharidas

Sadhu Brahmviharidas was born and brought up in the United Kingdom. At the early age of 11, BBC invited him to present a lecture on Hinduism. He graduated from the Oxford University as a Gold Medalist. Soon he joined the BAPS sadhu-fold at a young age in 1981 under his Guruhari Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

He is an excellent speaker and he has spoken at various national and international conferences. He has also managed the volunteering work during Gujarat Earthquake Relief 2002 and in the making of Delhi Akshardham Temple. Currently he serves as a BAPS spokesperson for national and international media.

Thanks For Reading

Gaurav S Kaintura

29 Jan 2017

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