The following article was edited from a lecture given by Jagad Guru.
JAGAD GURU: Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in the position where you are about to leave your body. One hour from now there’s going to be a nuclear war and we are going to leave this world behind. Our bodies won’t even get a chance to grow old.
You can open your eyes now. What do you want to communicate to God and to those who are around you? What do you want to feel when you come to that point in your life? Are you ready to leave?
You will ultimately experience that despite all your thinking that you are a great person or a successful individual, you cannot stop yourself from leaving this world. Whatever false pride you have, you’re now faced with you not being the controller. You cannot stop yourself from dying.
What are you going to do now? What consciousness do you need to be in?
JAGAD GURU: Yes, you need to be in the consciousness of surrender. And what is the first thing you’ll be thinking about? If you are a spiritualist or a devotee of God, you’ll be feeling, “I am imperfect. I’ve committed so many offenses. I am a sinful person. I am not qualified to take shelter of the Supreme Person, but I’m going to. I will ask God for His help. I will beg for His forgiveness.”
In order for you to actually beg this from the core of your heart, you must be feeling yourself to be the most fallen. Otherwise, you cannot ask. After all, if you’re not feeling yourself to be the most fallen, then you don’t feel you need to be forgiven for anything.
The fact is, when you come to the last point of your life, you’re going to become aware of your faults, your imperfections, your weakness, and your inadequacy. And if you want to beg forgiveness from God for your offenses against Him, what will simultaneously be part of that?
For example, a person comes to your deathbed who has offended you in your life. He has done things against you and has hurt you. He has committed acts that have caused pain in your heart. What will you simultaneously have to experience in begging forgiveness from God?
AUDIENCE: Forgiveness for others.
JAGAD GURU: Yes. If you want to be forgiven, you must forgive those who have offended you. If you want God to forgive you for your offenses against Him, you must be ready to throw away the burden of resentment that you’ve been holding on to toward the people who have done you wrong. You have to cast off the load of anger that you have been keeping in your heart against those who have hurt and offended you in some way. This must be there simultaneously.
You cannot beg God’s forgiveness from the core of your heart and be in the condition of surrender unless you are simultaneously forgiving everyone who has offended you. You will think of the person who offended you. You will think about how for so many years you’ve held on to your anger toward that person and your resentment toward him. You’ve tried to make that person suffer because he did you wrong. You feel he’s a bad person because he didn’t do it right according to your will. He didn’t live up to your demands and expectations. He hurt you and offended you in so many ways. Are you ready to totally forgive him or her? If not, then don’t bother bowing down to God and begging Him for His forgiveness upon you for your offenses against Him.
This is reality. You cannot surrender to God and beg Him to forgive you while still holding on to your anger and resentment toward somebody who has offended you. That’s not possible. You have no entrance into the world of the Supreme Being. You cannot experience real surrender to God. It’s like going into the ocean—you must get wet. It is impossible for you to go swimming without getting wet. If you wear a special suit that keeps all the water out, you’re not really in the ocean. You’re still separated from the water; you’re not really connected yet. You’re separate.
As soon as we come out in this world, we judge people—whether we like them or not, whether we consider them worthy of our love. We consider whether somebody is worthy of our respect based upon how that person treats us. We love a person who serves our will and makes us happy. We like a person who does good to us and enables us to enjoy life. We are happy thinking, “He loves me. He pleases my heart. He is loyal to me and takes care of me. He loves me and only me. I am the center of enjoyment. I enjoy other people serving me with their love, their loyalty, their affection, and so on. They serve me in various ways. In order to get it, I sometimes have to give some things too. I can get love from them if I give some love back. If they don’t give me love, then I take my love back.” What do you call this type of relationship?
JAGAD GURU: Yes, it is business. This is not love. Love is, “I love you even though you hate me. I love you even though you are disloyal to me. I care about your well-being even though you don’t care about mine.” That is love.
It is a very difficult thing, because from the time we come into this world we are conditioned. In conditional life, our relationships are such that it is very easy to love and care about another person as long as our love is not challenged. In other words, we feel, “As long as that person does not offend me, I will love him. If that person offends me, I will not love him anymore. I will make that person suffer.”
Why does a person become resentful or angry with their spouse or so-called friend? They feel, “I’m angry with you because you don’t love me perfectly enough. You are not worthy of my love in return. I’m not going to love you or care about you. I’m going to put a barrier around my heart, and this coldness will be my response to you. It is my knife, and I am making you suffer. I am letting you know that you’ve been bad. You did not love me and were not nice to me. Since you were not good to me, I’m going to be cold to you. I will go through the motions of relating to you, but I will make you suffer for your disloyalty to me and not treating me perfectly.” They want to make the other person suffer, and this gives them a type of perverse enjoyment. Their happiness is in making the other person miserable. In this way, husband and wife enjoy the perverse relationship of conditional love. They make each other suffer by not really loving the other. This is a very miserable existence.
AUDIENCE: How does a person get out of this situation?
JAGAD GURU: By hearing and chanting the Holy Names of the Supreme and in this way tasting the nectar of real love for the Supreme Beloved and all of His parts and parcels. The Holy Names purify one’s heart of all the dust of material conditional life and extinguish the fire of perverted enjoyment. They increase the ocean of transcendental happiness and enable us to fully taste the nectar of love for which we are always anxious.
AUDIENCE: And what is needed in order for me to taste the nectar of the Holy Names?
JAGAD GURU: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu teaches:
One should chant the Holy Names of the Lord in a humble state of mind, feeling oneself to be lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Names of the Lord constantly.
To taste real love requires freedom from arrogance, which acts as the fuel and foundation for my feeling that somebody has offended me. If I am feeling lower than the straw in the street and somebody treats me like dirt, I do not get angry. People walk on the straw in the street, but the straw does not jump up and say, “You have offended me! I am the king. I am the enjoyer. What are you doing? Can’t you see me on my throne?”
Feeling lower than the straw in the street, the devotee feels worthy of whatever pain comes to him because he feels that he is the most fallen and sinful. For example, if his spouse somehow makes him unhappy by being disloyal or cruel to him, he simply feels, “Whatever is coming to me now is nothing compared to my offenses against the Supreme Lord and the offenses that I must have committed against others in the past. My sinfulness far surpasses the offenses this person has committed against me.” This is called tolerance.
Anger is based upon one’s feeling of worthiness: “I’m worthy of respect. I’m worthy of more than you’ve given me. I deserve better from you.”
AUDIENCE: Do children and adults experience the same kind of arrogance and anger?
JAGAD GURU: Certainly. A child may feel resentment against the parents: “Why do you treat me in this way? You have another baby? What’s that?”
The parents explain, “It’s called a brother.”
The child protests, “I don’t like this idea at all! You’re disloyal to me. Look at what you’re doing. I came into this world. You love me. I am your child. I’m the only one you can love. Love me.”
“Okay, we love you. But we also love your brother.”
“Love him? What about me?”
“You’re the older brother and you have to be nice.”
“No way! Why do I have to be nice? I don’t like him.”
A single child who has a brother or sister born after him resents the parents for being disloyal. From the beginning, a child starts to experience, “People are untrustworthy. You can’t trust them. Look, they have one perfect child, and they have to go off and get another one. Am I not good enough? Why do they need someone else besides me?”
Pretty soon, there comes a third and maybe a fourth child. And when parents have four or five kids, the youngest one is always the baby who gets all the attention. And the older kids look at him and think, “You little brat! You’re the spoiled one.” The baby of the family means, “I’m the last one. The others were the babies of the family only temporarily.”
The older kid thinks, “I got to be the baby of the family for only sixteen months, and then my parents tossed me into second place. Within two or three years I’ve moved down to third place already! I’m going to look for someone else to love me.” By then, he’s looking for friends. And the same thing happens. He finds a close friend and then a third friend comes along. Pretty soon, he’s again complaining, “What do you need to go to his house for? I thought you were coming to my house.”
His close friend explains, “He’s got cookies at his house.”
“Well, I can give you cookies in my house. You’re not a very loyal friend if you go to his house.”
Every so-called loving relationship has these same factors involved. When someone is offended, he feels, “They’re not perfect in their love toward me. They’re not perfect in their caring for me. They’re not perfect in their service to me.” But that same person will go before God and pray, “Please forgive me because I’m not perfect in my love for You. I don’t have any love for You. I have not been loyal to You.”
The fact is, if we expect to be forgiven, then we must forgive. This is a crucial requirement.
AUDIENCE: Is this requirement a necessity only at the time of death?
JAGAD GURU: No. Let’s play the tape to the present time. We’re not on our deathbed anymore. We’re now living our life. How do we want to live our life? Do we want to live our life in a condition where we are tasting the nectar of love for the Supreme Being and the nectar of love for others, beginning with those who are closest to us, such as our spouse, children, family, friends, neighbors, and so on? Or do we want to live in the consciousness where we do not taste love for God because we cannot actually give up our anger and resentment toward others who we feel have offended us?
If tomorrow you want to taste the nectar of love for God, then today you must forgive those who have offended you. What does it mean? You must give up your anger and resentment today. You must now give up that giant load on your back. You must throw away that crust that is covering you and say, “I forgive these people for their offenses.”
You must truly and completely forgive. It must be finished and done with absolutely. It must not be partial or conditional: “I forgive with these terms and conditions.” No. You must feel, “I forgive. It’s finished.” If you want to experience God’s forgiveness upon you, you must beg forgiveness from Him, and simultaneously you must forgive others.
AUDIENCE: Didn’t Jesus give this same teaching?
JAGAD GURU: Yes. He taught his disciples to pray, “My dear Father, please forgive my offenses against You as I forgive those who have offended me, trampled upon me, and trespassed against me.” It is simultaneous. This is not a matter of Christian, Hindu, or Muslim faith. It is about relationships—your relationship with God and your relationship with others.
Now, in this world, either you can have a relationship of love for God and for others, or you can have a relationship where your love for God is squelched, smothered, and covered by this anger and resentment you have toward others. After all, we’re parts and parcels of the Supreme. Imperfect as you are and offensive as you have been, if you chant the Holy Names, your heart will be purified. If you relinquish all your anger and resentment and even your position as the faultfinder and perfect person who is worthy of judging others, then you’ll actually taste this nectar of love for God.
If you try to taste the nectar of the Holy Names while simultaneously holding on to your anger and resentment against those who have offended you, it will be like trying to taste the honey in a jar from outside the glass. You will see it, but it’s on the other side of the glass. You cannot taste it because you are not able to fully surrender.
When you actually feel lower than the straw in the street, you will simultaneously hear the Lord in your heart speaking, “You must forgive all those who have offended you. All of your anger must be given up. All of your resentments must be trashed at the same time.”
AUDIENCE: What if a person is not ready to give those up? What if he still wants to hold on to them?
JAGAD GURU: If a person still wants to hold on to that “treasure” of anger and resentment, then he cannot taste the nectar of love for God. He can keep going through the motions of playing a devotee, but it’s not going to do him any good. And when he comes to the point of death, his heart will be so hard. Ultimately, he will still be faced with this load that he carries.
AUDIENCE: Why will his heart be so hard?
JAGAD GURU: Because when you are angry with someone who has offended you in some way, ultimately you are angry with God.
AUDIENCE: Why is that?
JAGAD GURU: Because He’s the Supreme Controller. You may not be aware that you are angry with Him, but it is a fact. You are angry with God, with others, and with the world.
For example, the atheist is angry with God. He’s angry with the world. He’s full of anger. It’s all one thing, the same anger: “Why does God offend me?”
What kind of relationship do you want to have with God—one where you live for His pleasure, or one where He lives for your pleasure? It’s one or the other. Which is it? You’ve got to decide. What is your relationship with God going to be? Does He live to serve you—to give you the perfect spouse, the perfect child, the perfect friend, the perfect life where everybody is going to be good to you, where everybody is going to love you, and you’re going to be a happy little perfect person? Or do you exist for God’s pleasure, where He is the Supreme Enjoyer, you are His servant, and you exist to please Him?
If you believe that you’re the supreme enjoyer and God lives to give you pleasure and satisfaction, what will you feel if your child suddenly dies in a car accident or contracts some terminal disease such as cancer? Your faith in God is challenged at that point. You become angry. There is no difference between that and somebody else offending you. It is the same anger. You feel, “I’m supposed to be happy. God, You’re supposed to be serving my happiness and You did a lousy job. You’ve offended me. Look at what You’ve done! You’re not fair. You’re not kind. You’re mean and cruel. You’re worthy of my rejecting You. You’re worthy of my anger toward You. I don’t believe in You anymore.”
So we try to make God suffer by turning our backs on Him. But it is only we who actually experience suffering. God’s love for us is still there. When we turn our backs on Him, then we suffer the coldness. Hell is not hot. Hell is cold. Hell is freezing. It is so cold it burns. Love is warm. The warmth of love for God and others is covered by this iciness. And we become as hard as ice rocks.
Have you ever seen an angry person leave this world?
AUDIENCE: Yes. They are the most miserable.
JAGAD GURU: They cannot take shelter in God because they hold on to their anger. And they take that into their next life and hold on to that resentment. They’re in hell. That’s what hell is—the feeling that “I am worthy, but God and all of His parts and parcels have just not served me nicely.”
A devotee is one who feels lower than the straw in the street and more tolerant than a tree. In this condition of humility, he feels, “I am not worthy. So whatever you say or do to me, I do not take offense because I am the most fallen and sinful.”
Love for God requires this. Beg forgiveness from God for your offenses against Him. Beg forgiveness from all the living entities whom you may have offended or hurt in any way. When you are in this condition, you’re not going to feel that “Everybody has offended me.” You’re going to be feeling that you are the offender.
So it’s either “I am the offender against God” or “God and others are offenders against me.” It’s your choice.
Make the choice that will please the Supreme Being. Thank you very much.