In a dialogue with Dada J P Vaswani, our editor Manoj Khatri [MK] learnt about some subtle yet powerful truths. He shares his soul-enriching experience… [Read about the editor’s soul-stirring experience during this interview.]
MK: How can one achieve true and complete wellbeing?
Dada: If we want complete wellbeing, we must go to the spirit, the soul. Our roots are in our soul. If there is guilt in the soul, you cannot have a healthy life. Because, the guilt travels to the mind and from the mind it travels to the body. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna “You are an immortal soul. You are neither the body, nor the mind, nor the buddhi [the intellect]. You are the soul.” So, the root is in the soul. It is beyond the physical, physiological and psychological. To be sure, there is the physical self, the intellectual self, and the emotional self. But the root is in the spiritual self. They talk of “intelligence quotient”. They have started talking of the “emotional quotient”. But they have not reached the “spiritual quotient”. But, unless the soul is all right, the body cannot be.
When I was a student, TB was very rampant. It was considered as an incurable disease. The medical scientists found a cure for TB. Soon blood pressure and heart diseases came into prominence. New procedures like bypass operation were found to deal with heart disease. Then, cancer became the chief concern. Even as they try to tackle it, AIDS has emerged as the gravest disease. This will continue—sickness with take newer and more deadly forms until we reach the root—the spirit/soul.
MK: You have talked about consulting four doctors: Dr Diet, Dr Quiet, Dr Sunshine. and Dr Laughter. Please explain…
Dada: Let me discuss each of them one by one.
Everybody knows that so much depends on diet. Even doctors will tell you that. So many diseases are due to overeating. We like a dish and feel tempted to eat more and more of it. A story goes that the God of Anna [God of food] complained to the Supreme God that people are misusing him. The Supreme God said, “Don’t worry. Whatever they eat because of their need will help them. Every extra grain that they consume will eat them.” So, we think we are eating, but we are being eaten up.
Besides how much, we should also watch what we eat. Eating sattvic foods is good for health. There are three kinds of food – sattvic, tamsik, rajsik. We should eat sattvic foods like fruits and vegetables. We should follow a vegetarian diet.
I often pray for peace. But there can be no peace till we stop all killing. All life must be considered sacred; for the simple reason that if I eat another animal for food, I will not hesitate in killing a human being whom I regard as an enemy. All killing must stop.
All religions teach one simple thing: “Do not do anything that will hurt anybody, through deed, thought or word”. We must give that type of education to our children. Life is a gift of God, only he can take it away, we have no right to take it away. I do not believe in euthanasia. Even if somebody is suffering, we have no right to take away his life. Because, he has to go through that experience. That experience is going to enrich his spirit.
By the way, do you know that on an average, a non-vegetarian human being eats over 1000 birds and animals, big and small during a lifetime? One thousand creatures who love life just as much as you do.
It is essential to spend some time in silence – because we live in a noisy world. When dust particles cling on to your clothes, you wash them with soap and water. Even so, there are particles of noise that cling to your mind, heart, and soul that need to be cleansed in the waters of silence. Therefore, you must take dips in waters of silence everyday. I often refer to this as our daily appointment with God. We keep a number of appointments in the day, but we miss out the most important of all appointments, which is our appointment with God. God is not a shadowy creature living on a distant star. God is where we are, God is with us right here, right now. All we need to do is to close our eyes, shut out the world, and call Him with love, and longing in our heart and He will be here in front of us.
This is about having a fellowship with nature. There are people who have not seen the stars shining in the sky. They are so cut off from nature that they don’t know what a star is. We are a part of nature, so we should have fellowship with nature. That is why we have holidays. A holiday is meant to be a day when we have fellowship with nature
Laughter is an all-round tonic. It is a physical tonic, a mental tonic, a spiritual tonic. Laughter helps strengthen the lungs, Laughter strengthens the immune system. Laughter aids digestion. I often say that there should three bouts of hearty laughter – before each breakfast, each lunch and each dinner.
People who are cheerful are less apt to fall sick than those who do not know how to smile and laugh. That is why some good hospitals display slogans like “Laughter is hazardous to disease”.
MK: What’s the secret of your long and eventful life? You are still very vibrant.
Dada [laughs]: The secret is simple. Surrender. Once you surrender to a higher power, then the problem is not yours; it has to be tackled by that higher power. But modern man clings to his problems and thinks it is in his power to solve them.
After explaining so many diverse things to Arjuna, the Lord finally says to him “Arjuna, come I will give you a secret of spiritual life. After renouncing everything, come unto me for singular refuge and I shall liberate you from all bondage to sin and suffering. Of this I have no doubt.” In a similar vein, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come unto me, ye that are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest”. What else do we need if we are liberated from sin and suffering?
MK: We have read that you have a strong background in science. So what led you to these spiritual pursuits?
Dada: It was the love of my beloved master Sadhu Vaswani. He was a picture of love.
MK: You have written a book called The Secrets of Wealth and Happiness…
Dada [interrupts smilingly]: I have not written it. It was written through me. I do very little. You will know it soon, I am so ignorant. You will know it
MK [smiles in awe]: The book talks about the integration of the mind, body, and spirit. Complete Wellbeing is based on the same idea. What is your advice for our readers who are interested in this integrated approach to wellbeing?
Dada: If you wish to treat man holistically, you have to change your pattern of education. Much depends on education. I have high hopes in education. The type of education that we received in ancient India was different. Then, the emphasis was atma vidya, the science of the spirit, the atman. Now, we have sciences like Biology, Physics, and Chemistry. But, these relate to the external world, which is the least part of the universe. The truth lies in the spirit.
MK: You say, “Both rain and sunshine are needed to make the rainbow. Both joy and sorrow are needed to make life truly beautiful.” Can you elaborate on that? What is the role of suffering in man’s life?
Dada: Suffering purifies. If there were no suffering, there would be no purification. Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Our hearts need to be purified. Through a process of janmaas [births], we have accumulated a lot of dirt. Our hearts are dirty, our souls are dirty. They need to be cleansed, and suffering is only a cleansing process.
Life is a school; it is not a pleasure-hunting ground. Experience is the teacher. Experiences can be pleasant and unpleasant. Both teach. They have to be two—because, we live in a world of relativity. If there is light, there has to be darkness. If there is a night, there has to be a day. The unpleasant experiences purify our heart.
Before a piece of cloth is dyed, it has to be bleached. And bleaching is a suffering that the cloth has to go through. Why, even gold has to pass through the crucible before it can be moulded into beautiful ornaments. God wants us to become ornaments. We have to pass through that process. The lessons we learn through suffering, their influence endures. Pleasure passes away. I may live a life of pleasure for years together, but it leaves no impact. But the lessons that suffering teaches are long-lasting.
If there is no sunshine and no rain, the fruits will not ripen. Both joy and sorrow, both sunshine and rain co-operate to ripen the fruit. Both rain and sunshine are needed to make the rainbow.
MK: You have said that all sin and suffering have but one source: man’s denial of his own divinity. Why do we deny our divinity?
Dada: Because of ignorance, avidya. That is the product of Maya. We think we are children of Maya, not children of spirit. How many of us know that we are spiritual beings? We have been given the human birth to realise that we are immortal. The purpose of the human birth is to grow in the realisation that we all are immortal soul.
MK: Yet, there is so much scepticism in people.
Dada: That’s because of the period we are living in, the Kalayug. The mind is the guru of the modern age. And the mind is analytical. We don’t need analysis, we need synthesis. We have to go beyond the mind. We are all in the clutches of the mind, which is why people find it so difficult to meditate.
MK: So is there a prescription to still the mind?
Dada: Yes. I can think of three ways. One is self-enquiry. What am I in essence? One great teacher was Ramana Maharshi, of Tiruvannamalai. His sadhana (practice) was very simple. He would tell his disciples “Go sit in a silent corner and keep on asking yourself the question ‘Who am I?'” — over and over again. And one day from the depths within, the answer will come “I am the atman“. This concept is easy to read in a book, but it has no effect at all. You have to realise it yourself.
The second way is selfless service. Serve people without expect anything in return, not even a word of thanks. No acknowledgement at all. “It is my offering to the cosmic spirit. But it is very difficult. The thought comes in “I am serving, he is not serving”. That spoils the whole thing.
The third is self surrender. Self surrender is the easiest. “Hari, main jaiso taiso tero” (God, I come to you as I am, accept me and take me across).
MK: I can’t think of any more questions. You have said so many things; there is so much food for thought.
Dada: Once again, I too have heard it, as you are hearing it. I have not said it. I am one of the listeners.