Is it an absolute must that one should leave off all worldly pleasures to attain spiritual progress? ...Or is it possible to have worldly pleasures while pursuing with the ultimate goal of life? Answer comes with absolute clarity and profundity from none other than Bhagawan Himself through a dream sequence, as revealed to Sri MS Ramakrishna Rao, published in Sanathana Sarathi, July 1970.
On March 11, 1970, Baba gave a spiritual discourse, to a small group of foreign seekers in the `Interview Room', of the Prasanthi Nilayam. It lasted for nearly an hour and half. All the time, Baba spoke in English. Among the three ladies who were also called in, my wife was one. She told me that, by means of this Discourse, Baba dispelled all the doubts, raised by the devotees. It was a misfortune that I missed being called in. For, I had to leave the Nilayam earlier and return to my place of duty. When my wife told me that Baba enquired about me, and remarked, when she replied that I had left, `So, he has gone!' my remorse was endless.
Bhagawan advocates eradication of the desire for worldly pleasures. He says that if one aspires for spiritual uplift, and moves towards worldly pleasures, he is only moving farther and farther away from his goal. If one wants to proceed along the correct path he has necessarily to move away from sensuous pleasure. If one aspires for both, progress will be zero".
This sounds well, and is good advice. But, how exactly do these pleasures come in the way of spiritual progress? That query haunted me; I could not get an answer. Some of these pleasures are, I knew, quite innocuous. Even among those who sought the more extreme ones, I saw many highly, placed persons discussing about God and praising His Glory after a cocktail party, for example! So, is it absolutely necessary to leave off all worldly pleasures? This doubt was pestering me: I longed to ask Baba about it; it would have been clarified by Him, were I present at the meeting mentioned above. But, that chance had gone; the past was past.
A few days later, Baba gave me His Darshan in a dream. My wife had told me that, at the Meeting, during His Discourse, Baba had said, "Whenever I appear in a dream, it is to communicate something to the individual; it is not a mere dream, as is generally known. It is real appearance". Strictly speaking, my dream was no dream at all. The whole setting was clear; the objects were real. I could reproduce the entire experience in a vivid way. Baba was there, beside me, showing with his outstretched hand, an island, a little farther way from the strip whereon we were standing. On the island, as well as in the waters in between, there were scores of crocodiles. The monsters were motionless; the waters stayed calm. Baba said, “That island is the goal of life; the worldly pleasures are the crocodiles. Do you think you can ever, reach the island, stepping over the backs of these crocodiles?"
Meanwhile, I saw, on the island; a group of strong and muscular human beings holding dawn the vicious crocodiles and struggling in utter despair to overcome them, by severing their jaws apart! Baba exhorted, "Have you the strength to struggle like those unfortunates there? No. You cannot even put up a fight with them." It was an awful scene... Those human beings were holding the monsters in ugly fashion; they were mortally afraid of the creatures; but, they could not, evidently, flee from them, leaving off the struggle. They were caught, in an ambush, it seemed.
Baba continued, "Seeing the crocodiles quiet, like rocks under your feet, you think that your desires too are like them. Misled into believing that they are firm, you try to tread on them. Then, you discover that you are wrong; you lose your precarious balance, and fall down, a prey to these vicious amphibians. Even if your foot is firm; and you think you can ride the crocodile, if it suddenly dives into the depth; you will be drowned! Your desires will lead you into greater and greater depths, from which you can never rise. So, this is not the way to reach the goal; you cannot reach the other shore, on the back of a crocodile!"
So saying, Baba slowly moved away, presenting me His Abhaya Hastha, indicating His assurance that I had no reason to fear, since He was guiding me. I opened my physical eyes. Thus, Bhagavan cleared my doubt, and consoled me, after the disappointment I had about the discourse at the Prasanthi Nilayam.
On 29-5-70, I had the fortune of hearing Bhagawan, for nearly two hours, discourse on various spiritual matters, at Whitefield. During the discussions, it occurred to me that one has to give up old associations, in order to lead a new life, surcharged with discipline but, certainly, one needs the help of some one for something or other, as long as there is life. How to reconcile these two needs, was my problem. The next day, Baba called me into the bungalow and before anything else; he told me, "Last night, came to your room! Do you remember? But, your mind is in a fully confused condition”.
I tried to recollect very rapidly the rather confused dream. Amidst the jumbled picture of experiences, one thing was clear enough. In the dream I had, some friends who had received several favours from me pleaded their inability to come to my help, though I knew that it was not difficult for them to come to my rescue. They behaved in utter selfishness. Then, an indistinct figure of Baba appeared, by my side and told me, "Look! Instead of seeking help from these humans! Why don’t you place your faith in God, who will take good care of all of your problems?"
When I woke from the dream, I thought it must be a projection of my mind; I did not pay any attention to it. But Baba referred to that dream! He exhorted. "Don’t think that those incidents are mere stretches of your imagination! I am answering all your doubts!"
Realising the way in which He is showing His kindness on even creatures like me, my eyes became wet. Baba took His handkerchief and began wiping my tears, with the love of a thousand mothers! I lost all awareness of the surroundings. It was the experience of unfathomable pleasure. When I recovered, He was in an adjoining room, talking with another devotee!
Baba says often to his devotees, "I shall be in your sense perceptions; I shall be trailing along with you; I shall be inseparable with you". How true it is! May He bless us all with His constant presence.