17 Jul 2013
July 17, 2013

You Have to Sacrifice Something


Once a Mother came to Maharaji and said, “Maharaji, you always talk about worldly things – how many children, how much education, which job, how much money. Why don’t you teach us about Brahm (the Formless)?”

Maharaji said, “Okay, I’ll teach you.” The mother went off to do her work at Kainchi, and when it was time for the last bus to Nainital she was making her pranams and was going to the bus. Maharaji asked her, “Now, are you going?”

She said, “Yes, I have to attend to my family, prepare meals and all.” Maharaji said, “Listen, don’t go just now. I’ll teach you about Brahm. You sit here.” She insisted she had to go home and look after her family. He said, “No, no. I’ll teach you about Brahm. You sit here. Don’t go home today.”

“How is it possible? I must go.”

“But first you wanted Brahm, and now you ask how is it possible?”

After she left, he said to me, “Look at her. First she was talking about Brahm and now she is thinking about home. One person cannot do two things at one time. Brahm is not a thing, a toy that you can play with. You have to sacrifice something.”

- Excerpt from Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba 

  • c p

    I do not understand the full meaning of this teaching. I understand the meaning of sacrificing something for another, on the superficial level and also the greater sacrifice it takes to follow a spiritual path. I am losing the subtler meaning.

    Does Maharaji actually want this woman to give up the people she loves and her part in taking care of them? Is this a lesson about focus, one-pointedness? Are we all better off leaving any responsibilities behind to study our spiritual path?

    Perhaps it is his ‘rascalness’, but Maharaji seems almost mocking of the woman. (I am not trying to be rude, just my honest feeling)
    Thank you for your teaching. I ask respectfully for some clarity.

    • evoc

      I feel Maharaj-ji was showing her she was not quite ready to let go of her attachments to externals. Otherwise, she’d have seen that her movement to serve her family was an expression of Brahm…Brahm serving Brahm.

  • Pyramid Builder

    Yeah, i support C P. It would have been reasonable to ask her to sacrifice her work time at Kainchi, rather than demand her family time. I believe family is paramount to our other achievements.

  • Jane Jones

    I understand this~! The mom wanted to be taught about Brahma but Brahma knowledge is too important to learn without full dedication and sacrifice. Maybe the level of sacrifice must be obtain first, a full dedication, similar to becoming a monk. So the original lessons of Maharaji may be different, but both types of lessons are essential teaching methods; and depending on the level of spiritual attainment of the individual.

    • c p

      What do you mean by “both types of lessons”? Where is there more than one lesson in your argument?

      • Jane Jones

        Thank-you cp. One of the lessons in this story, and there are many, is that one only wants to hear what one wants to hear; usually ego-driven niceities. I think there is always a “presumption” of how the logic train is suppose to go, a certain “stream” without divergence. We must entertain the idea that Maharaji knew this is what would be “assumed” that the mom should simply go back to being a housewife, a mom, whatever, which is, in a sense a critically hurtful thing to say to a woman, in regards to sterotyping. And without question, this would have been enough to say to those less than dedicated or those who are not brandishing a god belt. those who are born with a mission on their plate..they know what they must do and do it…So it is this purpose-driven life which illicited the question; no doubt in my mind. Not to say that being a mom is not extremely important, but when one is called to service, one must take up this mantle. Did I answer the question? There were divergent paths of logic regarding this line of questioning, and they were deliberate and from a very wise mind.

        • c p

          Thank you for your explanation. I understand the lesson, from your perspective, much more clearly.
          After reflecting on the teaching I also came to see an analogy of a person going to a top level rocket engineer and ask to be taught how to build a space ship, only to leave the room when the realization hits that there’s much work to be done and learned. So I have overcomplicated the message, in ways.
          I recall a passage in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna says that meditating on the nature of Brahma is an intensely difficult pat to enlightenment, he then says loving devotion to a deity is easier to work with. If I am incorrect in my paraphrasing please forgive me.
          Much respect,

  • http://www.chroniclesofhan.com/ H Gibson

    Maharaji sacrificed everything we take for granted in order to serve mankind. Freedom, family, privacy. He did it to assist humans to become better entities.

  • Anya

    c p I am questioning this too because this is pretty much my exact place in life at the moment! I felt very called by God to move out of my home with my daughter and her father to a place right down the road for a vast amount of reasons, but always praying and asking God for guidance and this is what transpired. She was four, we were not married and only knew each other for a week before getting pregnant…we felt we had done really well under the circumstance. An immense amount of syncronicities and grace started to occur that didn’t have my heart doubting that it would be the best for everyone to take space at a cottage down the road. That was nearly a year ago and now I have started to question God again as to if I am meant to return….I feel very torn as to diving into what feels to be my spiritual calling and service work on the planet or returning and just being more full time nurturing mother. Both feel like sacrifices and yet of course I want both…obviously finding the balance is key…but how is the question I keep surrendering to Spirit. Fascinating to read this now and feel like wow, I still don’t quite grasp the greatest lesson yet or feel sure about any decisions at the moment….and I know this is ok for now…just praying for strength, trust, clarity, and alignment with divine will to fully embody….to fully BE HERE NOW ;)

    • c p

      Anya, Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. I sincerely hope you find your answers. Synchronicity and grace are incredible gifts.
      This is an unsolicited opinion, so disregard if you will, but it seems like both paths are noble and energy put into either will yield positives into the world. Not that that diminishes your struggles.
      Much respect. -CP

  • Will Butler

    Anya, sorry that an answer to your question was so slow in coming. Hopefully it was answered before this, but if not, perhaps this will help. Many parents ask this same question, and some are guided and others have to work it out for themselves, depending somewhat on their circumstances. Basically, the answer is that one has to provide for both concerns, and the child requires first consideration, first priority, until the child is grown and can manage on his or her own. Meanwhile, one also has to provide some space, some place, to take a break from the world and work on one’s Soul Growth. A room in the house setup as a sanctuary, or something like a small cottage on the property. Even a closed-in gazebo will suffice. One can turn a coffee table or bookcase into a personal shrine (personal altar) upon which one can place symbolical Spiritual items, and place a comfortable pillow in front to sit on and meditate. Start or have one’s Teachings library there also. If your present home does not suffice for your purposes, find one that does. Motherhood is an important learning experience along The Path for women. Do not make the mistake of perceiving your desire for personal freedom from motherhood to be Spiritual Freedom to pursue The Path. Look to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as an example of The Divine Mother wherein children are concerned, as the mother holds the life of her child in her hands. Learn to teach the child to grow up to be a saint, by way of your own learning how to progress on The Path. Most important, meditate on The Divine Mother and starting a conversation with Her. Do that, and She will be your Guide in all things.

    • Cathy in MT

      I cannot speak for all parents of small children, only from my own experience, of my own Path. But this question has been one of the biggest learnings of my life. I am now almost 68 years old, and I was in my mid-20s when I had my two children. I was a mother in the early 70s, at just the time that I was becoming aware that there WAS a spiritual Path to follow; my son was a toddler and my daughter a baby at the time I lived in New Mexico, became acquainted with Lama Foundation, and on one occasion met Ram Dass. Very few people I knew were raising children at the time — it seemed like everyone but me was free to go off to the mountain, sit at the feet of great teachers, and seek Enlightenment. I felt completely left behind, as everyone (it seemed) streamed past me on their way to these wonderful pursuits. This feeling was reinforced by a subtle message I received from those around me, that I was “just” a wife and mother and therefore probably not very “hip” or “interesting”. Even the father of my children (to whom I was married) communicated this message to me, and eventually left me to pursue his “Path”, leaving me to raise two small children pretty much on my own. But just at that point, something wonderful happened.

      I was sharing a house about 10 miles outside of Taos with a friend, and working part-time in town, leaving my children sometimes in the care of a Spanish family in El Prado, and sometimes in the care of a young teenager named Paula who lived close by, who turned out eventually to become Mirabai Starr. It was winter, and the road to Paula’s house was slick with ice. I had just picked up my kids from her, and as I headed back up toward home my pickup truck slid into the ditch. A well-intentioned man stopped and extricated it for me, and in the process burned out the clutch — which I had no money to replace. So here I was, living 10 miles from town, with no way to get to a job or a baby-sitter, no money — I did manage to apply temporarily for a small welfare check and some food stamps, and I hunkered down in that house with my kids for the rest of the winter.

      The house was furnished, and contained among other things a bookcase full of well-read books. Not much else to do, so I started going through them. The one that practically jumped off the shelf into my hand was . . . the Bhagavad-Gita. And I guess the rest is history. It was in the pages of the Gita that I found I HAD MY PATH. In the form of these children whose whole well-being depended on me, and noone else, I had the WAY to learn unconditional love, service, egolessness, unity. Of course, I didn’t see it that clearly for a long time, my struggle continued, and my road was anything but even, but it was then that I had my first glimpse, my first gleaning, of what was for me the Dharma. In the words of another great spiritual teacher, I had to do it for “the least of these”, in the forms of my children. The buck had stopped with me, and there was nothing for me but to do it. And that was, for me, a years-long — lifelong — spiritual teaching.

      It was shortly after that, that I had a revealing dream. I was on a mountaintop and a space ship landed on the peak before me, and out stepped the most beautiful, glossy-eyed male being I had ever seen. He seemed the very personification of Govinda. He kissed me, deeply, sensually, lingeringly and said, “Come with me, and the keys will all be yours.” I said, “But, Babaji, I have these children to raise. They need me. I have to stay long enough to do this.” He took both my hands and smiled — I have to say through my eyes into my soul, and said, “I’ll be back.” I have to consider the possibility that it is his energy I feel with me every day, to this day. His energy, Guru’s energy, my energy, God’s energy, all the same.

      I’ve never completely told this story before. The telling of it truly helps me see these events for what they are. And perhaps it will be helpful to others struggling on a similar Path.

      • Marc Mazis

        It is a glorious circle Cathy; for-those who traverse the great mountains and seek enlightenment receiving all they can absorb – then must go back down into the villages and do-the-work, dig water for the villagers, show people how to flourish – and bring within to them the spiritual waters. They go back to ordinary life by duty and choice in the context of our discussion; yet they share [bring] the Gifts which they received. You, raising your children are providing life to them. And your sacrifice is well spent. Your encounter with the Bhagavad-Gita shows that you can at night before bed read All the great works one-by-one. If the thirst in your soul is for God and enlightenment and you will pursue this with effort you will have it. Being spiritual, not as a hobby, but as a [way of] life in your being, is doable for all. Your Govinda is Back; and always has been reaching out to you, that which you seek is seeking you. These things have [always] been like sea shells of wisdom at your feet, for you to pick up any that sound and feel right. Do not be so convinced that your choosing to have one [raise your children] precludes the other. Mary [mother of Jesus] did quite fine. Do not wait to drink from the Well. – Love Marc