Guru and his disciple meet again, as the disciple was nurturing a doubt. He wanted to get this clarified from his Guru.
Disciple: One of my close friend’s father died yesterday. He was extremely a good person. He did pūjā everyday for more than two hours. Then he would start reading epics. In the evening he would share his knowledge with others. I feel sorry for him. You have been saying that I should get liberated in this life itself. Suppose I die before realization, then what would happen to me?
Guru: Are you rattled by his death?
Disciple: Yes, I am terribly rattled. That man was too good and I cannot stand his loss. I used to interact with him a lot. He used to answer many of my queries. But he would become too wild if I repeat my question, in case I am not able to understand his explanation. As you know, I have very little grasping capacity.
Guru: Yes, many people do not like questioning. Earnest seekers will have too many doubts and without getting those doubts clarified, you cannot spiritually evolve. Only by repeated questioning, you can satiate spiritual quest. An evolved person will never get upset on questioning. You have enough grasping capacity. As you are trying to understand the Self, naturally there will be several doubts in your mind. When you are evolving spiritually, transition points will be very arduous to transcend and these points of transition are extremely crucial in everybody’s spiritual attainment. It is like a cat on the wall. You can climb the wall with ease; but which side to fall is crucial. On one side of the wall, there is God stretching His hands to take you unto HIM to liberate you and on another side there are God’s deputies. They will season you over a period of time, which is quite a lengthy process. During their process of seasoning, you continue to remain as a paśu, which means spiritual nescience. During this point of transition, unless you conglomerate your mind, intellect, consciousness and ego (antaḥkaraṇa) to decide which side to fall, you will continue to exist as a confused personality. The state of paśu can be transcended with the help of pāśupatāsta mantra, which is six lettered om namaḥśivāya (ॐ नमःशिवाय). Pāśupatāsta consists of three words – pāśu + pāta + asta where pāśu refers to spiritual nescience, pāta refers to destruction and asta means missile. This means by contemplating Śiva, your entire spiritual ignorance is destroyed. This destruction of paśu state is possible only by resorting to pāśupatāsta.
But how come, your friend’s father who was so religious lost his temper with you?
Disciple: This happened several times. When he was at his full flow, I used to interrupt him and this would trigger his anger.
Guru: You should not have done this. When a person is at his best in spiritual discourse, he should not be interrupted. You have to note down your points and raise your doubts later. Interrupting him will hamper the flow of his thoughts.
Spiritual evolution can happen only through questioning and it would always be ideal to have one to one interaction in spiritual path. It should be the way in which you are interacting with me.
Disciple: I have another doubt. My friend’s father though was highly ritual, I know for sure that he is not a realized soul.
Guru: How do you say that?
Disciple: There are many instances. He used to become wild when anything goes against his wish. He used to fight with his family members even for silly things. I felt sad for them and I know they not only respected him, but also loved him and literally adored him. At the time of his death, what could have been his spiritual status? Will he be reborn or could he have been liberated?
Guru: It is difficult to say about rebirths. But from what you describe, I am constrained to think that he is in for several rebirths. But remember that knowing past and future births is not possible at all.
Disciple: What will happen to such souls at the time of death? I am sure that he is not realized. At the same time I also know that he spent hours together in doing pūjā, reading Scriptures, etc. Even then will he be reborn?
Guru: Yes, he will be reborn. His stage can be closely explained to the state of yoga bhraṣṭa. Bhraṣṭa means falling from spiritually evolved state. Yoga bhraṣṭa means falling from the state of higher spiritual status due to multiple reasons. Anger, ego, greed and lust are the foremost of the distracting factors. When a person who dies in the state of yoga bhraṣṭa is surely reborn and gets liberated in the next birth or possibly the birth after that.
Disciple: Then who attains liberation?
Guru: The one who properly meditates on the teaching of his Guru alone will get liberated. What a realized Guru teaches? He teaches about Brahman. He teaches you to look within. This is true meditation. You do not reach this stage overnight. That is why I always like to use the word spiritual evolution. You have to evolve and cannot be stagnant. Spiritual evolution can happen only in your mind and not through your senses.
Disciple: Do you mean to say that by simply meditating on the teachings of a Guru would cause spiritual evolution?
Guru: Yes and no. When a disciple listens to the spiritual impartment of his Guru and proceeds to meditate on the validity and reasoning of his teachings, he surely moves much faster in his spiritual path. When he has considerably advanced in his spiritual path and is about to realize the Self, his final path is revealed by God Himself. This revelation is known as atitīvra Śaktipāta and is different from Śaktipāta. Atitīvra means very strong and atitīvra Śaktipāta means powerful descent of Divine Grace and this Grace literally pierces the disciples mind and purges both physical and moral impurities (mala). When atitīvra Śaktipāta descends, he immediately realizes the Self. This atitīvra Śaktipāta cannot be attained in any other way except meditating on the teachings of Guru.
Disciple: What would be the teachings of a Guru?
Guru: A true Guru will carefully guide through various stages of spiritual attainment. He will first lay foundation by asking you to do pūjā and japa. Then he will make you to understand meditation and he will guide carefully and make you to understand the Self. In literal sense, a Guru will spiritually nourish his disciple.
Do you know that we can celebrate Dīpāvali daily?
Disciple: How? It comes once in a year only!
Guru: Dīpāvali means nocturnal illumination. Spiritually, nocturnal can be explained as darkness of spiritual ignorance. Dīpa means light and vala means a cave. This cave refers to the place in our body where the Self (Dīpa) is situated. Kaṭha Upaniṣad says that the Abode of the Self in our body is like a cave, which represents darkness. What this darkness means? It means our spiritual ignorance. Though, the Self is always illuminating, Its illumination is not realized by us as we always look outside as if the Self is outside our body. The same Upaniṣad says that the Self is not an object of our vision nor we can see It with our biological eyes. This Self can be realized only through a purified mind. Impure mind is darkness and when impurities of mind are destroyed, the effulgent Self is realized. Learn to separate this Self from your body and when you are able to separate this Self and realize It, you are realized. When you practice this, it is nitya-dīpāvali.
Had your friend’s father celebrated nitya-dīpāvali, he would have merged unto Him, if not he will be born again.
Disciple: Can you elaborate on this?
Guru: Not now. There will be a time for you to know the ultimate Truth. You are not yet ready for this. When you are ready, I will reveal this to you.