The Path to “Saying Yes” to Life
A drunken man walked down the street and bumped into a lamppost. He took a step back, walked forward again, and bumped into the lamppost once more. He again took a step back and wanted to be on his way, and again the same thing happened. “Oh,” he said, “I’m surrounded on all sides by lampposts.” The drunken man always bumps into the lamppost. Now he wants to be sober—but how?
In this day in age there is a general crisis of the soul. No one is content. Everyone is searching for something, but they do not know what it is exactly. When someone asks them, they answer, “I’m searching for God or happiness or self-realization.” But they cannot give it an exact name. They go from swami to swami, from ashram to ashram, from seminar to seminar.
There are many paths to realizing God, as many as there are people. However, the paths can be classified into two groups: the path to denying life, and the path to “saying yes” to life. But in the end, only the one path leads to the goal: the path of “saying yes” to life. Many people have spoken in favor of the philosophy of denying life; for the people are full of suffering. The request to lie down on a “bed of nails” is easier to comply with than the request to laugh. It is similar to a special offer—cheap, because you are already sad as it is.
What is a higher conscious? When we say that the path of “saying yes” to life leads to an aim, we have to ask ourselves what that aim is. Otherwise we are like Alice who came to a fork in the road in Wonderland. There she asked the cat which path she should take. “Where would you like to go?” asked the cat. “I don’t know,” replied Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” Where do you then want to go in your life? And where are you going now at this moment? Are you on the path to “saying yes” to life, or are you lying on a “bed of nails?”
Is that poverty?
There are many different ideas about what the meaning of life is, what happiness and self-realization are. The American author William Faulkner once said, “I need very little, only a pair of pants with two large pockets. In the one is a book by Shakespeare, and in the other a bottle of schnapps. Then I’m happy.” That is his image of self-realization. And William Faulkner is an important person. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature. His words have weight. But I would like to ask him: with what does he buy his bottle of schnapps and his book by Shakespeare? He can talk! He is famous. People idolize him and give him the schnapps. He is convinced of it when he says, “I’m happy when I have nothing.” But would he still be convinced of that if no one knew him, and he had to beg for his schnapps? Mahatma Gandhi did not have anything either. He only had his eyeglasses, a pair of slippers, a piece of material tied at his waist, and a few books perhaps. That was all he owned. Many people in India have even less than he. Are they then, on that account, equal to Mahatma Gandhi? Certainly not! All of India bowed before Gandhi. He was famous worldwide and had great influence. Why did he need money? He was a meaningful and important man. That gave him the feeling of happiness and self-worth.
Worldly and spiritual goals
There are many people in India who have a house. But what kind of house? Four walls with a roof. Many also have more walls and more rooms. But in the old houses there are no bathrooms, no toilets, and often no kitchens. The toilet is in the yard under a tree. The kitchen consists of a few stones in front of the front door in between which a fire burns. Even today that is often the case.
Can you imagine you would build houses without bathrooms? No? I am telling you, you do just that! I am speaking of your spiritual house. You build it without a bathroom, and thus you do not satisfy your inner longing. I will help you to understand.
In order to be happy, you need goals. There is no difference between worldly or godly goals. Goals are goals. If they are pursued with a worldly or a spiritual outlook depends on you!
Two people can pursue the same goal, but the one makes is worldly and the other spiritual. The worldly way means reaching goals by stepping on others’ toes, e.g., by cheating and committing betrayal. But when you set your goals to help others and serve them, then your work is spiritual. The goal itself can be the same. But you decide if you pursue your goal spiritually or materialistically, if it brings you closer to or further from God.
If you want to be successful, regardless if it is in the material or spiritual world, then there is only one direction. Do not make a distinction between spiritual and material wishes. There is no difference between this side and the other side. Christ said the same thing, “I and your father are one.” The phenomenal (outer) and the nominal (inner) universes are inseparable.
Do not, thus, differentiate between so-called superior goals and simple goals! —But pay attention to the way in which you pursue your goal!
Wrong and right wishes
If you want to raise your conscious, then it is important to have a goal, regardless if it is one in this world or the other, regardless if it means earning money or spending time with friends. You want to be closer to God, to realize God, and in doing so want to pass over doing anything in this world. But it does not work like that. You need to have a goal in this life and in this world. When you do not have a goal, you have no meaning, and without meaning you feel empty inside. Your goal brings you closer to God when you strive for it in a spiritual way and make an effort to reach it.
Setting goals is a part of the philosophy of “saying yes” to life, of having a positive attitude to life. When you say, “I don’t want to set goals for myself in this world; I’m searching for God,” then you have been influenced by William Faulkner. That reminds me of a famous statement by Buddha: “Don’t have any wishes!” But what did Buddha actually mean when he said that? He meant the wrong wishes. He said that statement to his students who were in the jungle with him, which means that they had already renounced their material wishes. What did he mean then?
You are equally searchers today. You are angry, you are afraid, you bear grudges, you have the need for revenge und retaliation, you are often sad, you speak badly of others, etc. . . . And you are even civilized searchers. Do you think Buddha’s students were better back then? They were exactly the way you are today. They had wheelings and dealings with one another. They spied to make sure the others also kept to the right path. There were thousands of people there. Can you believe the number of arguments there would have been! Whenever Buddha had a favorite student, the others went after him. There was a lot of scheming. The students had terrible wishes. That is why Buddha said, “Don’t have any wishes!” He said it to these people! With that he meant, “Don’t have any wrong wishes!”
Wrong wishes are those wishes that hurt others, or that use or wound them. When you renounce such wishes, you are taking a step closer to becoming a truly spiritual person.
It is therefore important to have goals in life! Through them you can come closer to God and be happy. Now we come to your spiritual house without a bathroom. You want to experience God, and thus meditate every day for hours at a time. You hear noises and see lights—but that is all. “I want to continue to seek revenge and retaliation; I want to continue to bear grudges; I want to keep my feelings of guilt; I want to continue to be afraid; I want to continue to hate,” you think as well. Of course, you do not consciously think of these things. Consciously you think: “Man is not good. Hopefully I’ll turn into an above-this-world, godly being!” Since that is, however, most certainly implausible, it is your trick to be able to continue lying on your “bed of nails.” That is your highest ideal. The “bed of nails” is the way in which you abstain from the joy and fulfillness and love that life brings with it. It is a symbol of the unnecessary abandonment of joy. But that is the highest ideal—so it is stated in books. That not only means abstaining from material wealth. It can equally mean abstaining from the pleasures that material wealth has to offer. You do that here in the West. You have wealth, but you cannot accept it. You always feel guilty. That is your “bed of nails.” Ask yourself: are you full of joy, are you filled with a deep sense of thankfulness for the fullness you have in your life?
You believe that you can flatter God when you abstain from joy and fullness, and in so doing become his favorite. What sort of image do you have of God? You believe you can please him by being unhappy? That is wrong; for God only wants that you are well and happy. Here and now you can be happy in life. But now we come to an interesting question: when are you really doing well? And the answer is quite simple: when you are full of love!
Participant: Yes, certainly, the goal is to be full of love. But we often pursue it with bitterness and without love.
de Souza: Your objection is an expression of your guilt. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you are not yet so full of love as you wish to be. Renounce these feelings of guilt! That’s the true purpose of renunciation! You can also renounce your anger and habit of bearing grudges. God is pleased when you are happy.
Your spiritual house
When you do not have any goals to reach for, but rather always just sit and meditate, then you are building your spiritual house without a “bathroom.” You want to be wise and full of love, but you are not ready to pay the price for it. You forgo the “bathroom” in your spiritual house, in other words the worldly tasks. You want a beautiful living room full of the finest porcelain (meditation), but no bathroom (worldly work). You build your house like the people in India who likewise do not have a bathroom in their homes. Build the bathroom! It belongs to the house and is a part of it.
Spirituality is not something that is separate from our everyday lives. Spirituality is a quality of your life when you want to be conscious and full of love.
The three levels of religiousness
There are three levels to living religiously. On the first level the people have a stabile place in life. There is an authority figure, God, and a father figure who protects you and tells you what you should think and do. Look at the poverty-ridden people in India. They laugh and seem to be happy. “They’re happy, because they’re poor,” is what the visitors say. “We, on the other hand, always go around with long faces, although we are so wealthy.” Are the people in India genuinely happy, even when they have smiling faces? They are content—yes! But they are content on a very low level.
Let us analyze being content. The people in India follow a caste system. Everyone belongs to a certain caste. Every caste has its own rights and responsibilities. Everything is predetermined. In other words: they do not need to think. They only need to do what they are told. That is all. Then they are happy. They do not have any worries. They do not need to make decisions. They do not have to choose between this or another possibility. Therefore, they are content. Everything has been orderly regulated. Their poverty is also no problem; for God has placed them in exactly this place in the world. They do not need to change anything.
But these people are not creative. They believe in God and are religious. They have faith and trust. They can fall on their knees and pray. It is possible for them. That is why they seem to be in harmony with themselves, happy, and in touch with God. But you, the Europeans and Americans, are afraid. The Indian is a member of a tribe. He is part of a whole. He does not have any individuality. Therefore he feels secure. And you feel abandoned and isolated—bottomless. Why? What is the difference between you and the Indians? You are individualists. You have to take your lives into your own hands. It is not predetermined. That is why there is fear. “Is it correct what I’m doing? Is it right?” Then you run to a guru who tells you what you should do.
The Western man’s beliefs can be found on the second level. She is an individualist, and she is afraid. She is confused, because she does not know what she should do. She has to rely on herself if she wants to find happiness and be content in life. She begins to panic.
Where do you want to go now?
Now you have two possibilities. You can either go to the third level of development—and raise your conscious and be full of love—or fall back onto the first level, and become a part of the masses again. Either you go higher or fall back. If you do not change anything, you will slowly become cynical and sarcastic or resigned. There is no other way for you to deal with your loneliness and lack of understanding about the world. You cannot stay where you are. That is why you search and go to so many gurus. You are in the critical stage of your studies. The question is in which direction will you now go: in the direction of a higher conscious and love, or in the direction of blindness and dependency? And how can you be sure that you are not going in the wrong direction?
Everyone has the drive to live within him or herself. But they waste time by doing nonsense. The years go by, and it seems as if they want to sabotage themselves. They have a job that they do not enjoy. Although everyone has the drive to live within him or herself, they make do without joy in their lives, and the years go by. It is not until it is too late that they realize they have wasted their time. Nothing has happened. But they do not want to talk about it. There is a secret pact among the people: “Don’t talk of me being a loser, and I won’t talk of you being a loser.” But this does not change anything!
How can you tell beforehand if someone is on the path to success or on the path to failure? Unfortunately, there is no clear sign. You have to learn to decide that for yourself.
The drive to self-sabotage has many faces. Take, for example, a playboy and Diogenes and compare their lives. Both are not creative. Each sabotages himself in his own way. Diogenes lived in a barrel and renounced the world. That is why he was and still is honored as a great philosopher. He is a great role model. Many people would also like to live in a barrel, if it were not so cold. But in such a situation they do not do anything and are introverts. Or they busy themselves with television, computer games, or other mindless things. Perhaps they withdraw from society and go to a cave in order to search for God in vain. They want their peace and quiet, and sleep a few hours longer every day (when possible while meditating) than others. Or they are extroverts like the playboy. They party everyday. They are active from morning till night, and always have to be around other people so as to not feel empty inside.
But both activity and passivity are not automatically a sign of a nice life. You have to decide for yourself if you have the right balance of activity and quiet, and if they serve the correct purpose. That is your decision, and you are responsible for it.
Participant: An acquaintance once said to me that she felt bad for being wealthy. She couldn’t take pleasure anymore in her wealth. I told her she should be happy and proud to have so much.
de Souza: Yes, exactly! She can be proud. Everyone can be proud of him or herself. Why should she not take pleasure in it anymore? That would be the philosophy of denying life. It is expected of her that she should renounce the money—or at least the pleasure of it. She is then given the opportunity to develop feelings of guilt.
Participant: But something positive should be done with the money to make life better.
de Souza: Yes, of course! He, who gives, receives. That’s the law. Christ said, “He who has much, will receive even more, and he who has little, will have even that taken away.” It’s a paradox, but it’s the truth. The more you give, the more you shall receive. The more you hold yourself back, the more you shall lose. That’s the divine law.
Participant: But when the playboy spends his money in order to party everyday, then he’s spending his money to pass time.
de Souza: That’s his decision. You shouldn’t give in order to receive, but should give for your own fulfillness—give for the sake of giving. You shall receive what you give. If he passes his joy onto others through his parties, then he will receive joy in return. If he passes on his inner emptiness, then he will become more and more empty and sad.
Where the idea of denial came from
We can call the philosophy of denying life the drive to self-sabotage. Sick and neurotic people have already been to Buddha, to the Rishis, and to Christ, and have created neurotic interpretations of their teachings. That is why Christ is almost always portrayed on the cross, as a very sad man. But Christ also laughed a lot. That, however, does not agree with the neurotic people. If he is sad, then he is more like them. They can identify with him better, because they themselves are sad. “How can Christ laugh when I am so sad?!” They go the path of sadness, and the more it is demanded that they abstain from joy, the more they are apt to follow, because they believe they will return to God quicker. They, however, go nowhere.
When you see the faces of the hermits, you cannot believe that they are close to God. They have dry and lifeless faces. The classical way of life in India designates that the first 25 years be spent with a guru. In the next 25 years the man has a family and children, and following that he withdraws and steps back into the shadows of his children. Now he is 75 years old and goes into the jungle to renounce life. He has met many people in his life, and he has experienced many arguments and disappointments. Now he has weltschmerz. And what does he teach, of course? The path to God is to let go and give up everything. That is certainly clear.
So many people come to him with their problems. They worry about their property, their families, and their jobs. Times change, but people’s problems remain essentially the same; even when they had horse-driven carriages instead of cars, and lived in huts instead of houses. Back then the men also had arguments with their wives. There was also adultery, although the customs were very strict, and jealousy—all the things that make up life. What does the guru, who has learned so much in life and has suffered so much, now say? He says to the people seeking advice: “You have to give up your desires. Why do you want two oxen? One is enough! You want to get married? Do you not see all that will happen, what that means? Sit down and meditate! Get rid of everything! This world is nothing but suffering! Everywhere is suffering. When you meditate, God comes to you. Forget all your anger, your suffering, and your failures. Life has nothing more to offer you.” And what does the man say, who has many problems? “That’s it! Anger and failure—I’ve experienced that.” Then he meditated for years, but he did not find God. And once again the guru has the solution: abstain from even more!
Participant: But when my mind is free, I finally have space for God.
de Souza: Oh, no! There’s more to inviting God in than having a free mind. There’s also love and awareness, knowledge and experience, joy and fulfillment in your mind and your life, if God is to be there. Only to those people, whose minds are full of sadness and angry thoughts, did Buddha say, “Don’t have any desires!” He said that to them, because they were completely confused.
Christ, too, addressed the problems of the people in his time when he said, “Come to me, all of ye that labor and are heavy laden. I want to rejuvenate you.” He never would’ve said such a thing had the people been happy. But their minds were heavy laden. Today, just as then, people’s minds are filled with thousands of problems. Do you remember the tree trunks that I told you about earlier? In Christ’s time 2,000 years ago and Buddha’s time 2,600 years ago there were the same problems as today.
Participant: But the master uses meditative initiatives to ease the students’ way to God.
de Souza: When the guru comes, he gives you, for example, a new name. Your name is then Robertananda, Christinananda, or Peterananda. What does that mean? What’s written in the books?
Participant: You receive a new identity so that you can leave the old house.
de Souza: Aha! But your conscious hasn’t changed. It’s the same as before. You only have a new name. With the traditional Sanskrit name you feel you’re closer to God. You imagine you’ve let go of your past and now have a new identity. You feel like you’ve been re-born! You believe you’ve changed, but in reality you’re the same as before. You believe, however, that you’re better now than the other poor people who don’t have a new spiritual identity. That’s how it is. The gurus in the jungle were the first psychotherapists. The people came to them with their problems. But the advisors knew nothing about the real solution. They said, “Yes, when you have problems, let them go. Keep nothing of the world. Make yourself innerly uninvolved, for the best.” You experienced a state of trance, which you described as a “connection to God.” But nothing changed.
It continues from here
The individualist can no longer pray. He does not believe in God anymore, and thus it is not easy to lead him back to God. He cannot just fall on his knees and pray to God. That is part of the first level of religion. He is, however, on the second level, and that is good, because only the individualist has the ability to climb to the third level. He who is on the first level is part of the masses. He who is on the second level is an individualist and is afraid. But do not stay there! Go to the next level! I will show you how you can climb to the third level.
The meditation you have done up until now was good. You had so many problems going through your mind. Was it bad to go into the “cave” and soothe your mind? No! That was right (if it were for the moment and not months or years!) You had so much junk and sorrow in your mind. Meditation helped you to put all that aside and forget it. You were able to set your problems free in this phase and become very quiet. Now you can relax, because the stress is gone. You are quiet and relieved. Now you are able to turn to the cause of your stress and unhappiness and search for a solution.
No wonder . . .
People who live their lives according to the philosophy of denying life blame others for their suffering. The world and all the bad people are at fault. In their childhood the other siblings were blamed: “I am good, but they are bad.” Husband and wife blame each other. “Men are our enemies,” women say. “They are chauvinists.” Is it good when women say such things? No! It comes back to them. In this way they lose their ability to love men.
Or you blame yourself, which is also senseless! “I’m bad. It’s all my fault. I can’t do it. No one likes me.” If you do not like yourself, how can others like you? You have to love yourself first. Then others can love you. You blame yourself for the littlest things. You believe you have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. If something happens, you feel responsible. When the children do not listen, you consider yourself to be a bad mother.
That is the philosophy of denying life. On this path, you do not have any goals and participate in activities that simply allow time to pass. You do nothing. You have great talent, but do not use it to the fullest. You work below your abilities. Either you do not have any goals, or your goals are far too low. It is no wonder, then, that you do not have any joy in life. Sometimes you also have the wrong goals. For example, when someone wants to climb Mt. Everest but does not find the time to do it. He is wasting his talent and should choose another, reachable goal. Many betray themselves. They say they are searching for God, but they do nothing to discover their possibilities and realize then. God gave people these possibilities so that they could reach Him through them.
Participant: Some say you should never put off tomorrow what you can do today. You should do things in the moment and not live in the past or future.
de Souza: It’s important to have a goal. You can plan things in the moment, but they should be directed toward a goal. Our planning is happening here and now, in this moment, but you can always have your goal in mind. At the same time, we think about the future consequences of our decision. That’s the meaning of being “in the here and now.” We can see what will happen in the future through the decisions we make now.
Participant: If I only do that which is due and ready to be dealt with, then I’m working like a well-functioning assembly line.
de Souza: Yes. Think about the future consequences of your current actions and learn from your past, so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. In this way you can take your life into your own hands and decide what you really want to do. Then you are genuinely in the “here and now!”
Participant: But we then have to analyze the past. You dig deeper and deeper, and feel as if you haven’t really gone beyond it.
de Souza: You don’t need to feel guilty. But you can only grow when you’re aware of your mistakes. When you don’t learn from them, a sort of cycle is created. John Keats once said, that it’s good to make mistakes, because only through our mistakes do we learn to avoid further mistakes in the future. But his theory doesn’t get to the core of the matter, since people so often repeat the same mistakes. It’s not enough to make mistakes, but you also have to be able to see the mistakes. Only then can you go on.
Participant: But I already made the mistake. How can I then become consciously aware of it?
de Souza: First, don’t blame others. As long as you blame others, you won’t be able to see your own mistakes. Second, don’t blame yourself. Your guilt prevents you from learning and only leads to self-pity and depression. There is a right and a wrong way to solving a problem. The wrong question is: “Who’s caused my suffering?! If you say, “I’ve had bad luck,” then in your eyes the “Goddess of Bad Luck” was responsible for your suffering and not incorrect actions! That is wrong. The right question to ask is: “What’s led to the current result? What have I done, what have I said that’s led to my current situation?” That’s what you have to ask. Not “Who did that,” but rather “What has happened?” Not blaming yourself, not making the “Goddess of Good Luck” or the “Goddess of Bad Luck” responsible, but rather asking about the action. Because you are suffering, you know that something was wrong.
Participant: But when I realize that the situation would have turned out differently had I acted differently, then that’s quite a bitter pill to swallow!
de Souza: You’re too hard on yourself: “If I had only acted differently . . . If I had only not made such a stupid mistake . . . If I had only used this chance . . . .” Those are wrong outlooks. You could also be happy that you’ve learned something. You’ll learn that step by step.
The standard of positive thinking
I will give you an example to show how far you have come on your spiritual path.
Earlier you said, “I can meditate for two hours and experience something unbelievable in my mind.” Or you have not made any distinction between gold and stones, since in reality everything is one. This is, however, the standard for a person who has withdrawn from the world. I need another standard for the philosophy of “saying yes”—but a different one.
The criteria against which you can compare yourself and see how far you have come is the following: again and again you have bad thoughts toward others or yourself, you argue, criticize, or blame. Time the intervals between every one of these attacks.
How long do you make it without arguing, judging, etc.? How long can you remain in a state of higher consciousness and be loving, friendly, or have happy thoughts?
Participant: Does judging and criticizing refer only to your actions or also to the negative thoughts?
de Souza: Both! In both instances you’re blaming. It counts even when it’s just in your thoughts. Even when someone steps on your toes, and you step out of the way, you can still slip out of your higher consciousness by thinking badly of him. In the first level, it’s okay. If you have a Christ-conscious, however, you won’t need to go out of people’s way, and you’ll thus no longer judge them. You’ve filled your conscious with more love and understanding. When the lapse of time between two negative thoughts is three days, then your name should go down in the Guinness Book of World Records. The negative judging also has to be prevented.
Participant: But we need to judge if we want to be active in the world and to assess what is good and not good.
de Souza: In this case it’s about negatively judging people, about prejudices: “That’s a terrible person! She’s stupid.”
Participant: Also when that person has hurt me very much?
de Souza: Yes! That’s a Christ-conscious. That’s the standard! And not if gold or silver matters to you or not—as if you were free from the world.
Participant: That’s exactly the opposite of what many advisors tell you. They suggest you feel and realize your anger and emotions.
de Souza: Yes, you still have to live out your negative feelings, because you’re not fully developed and haven’t grown into the Christ-conscious. But when you change your interpretations, you won’t be angry anymore. Remember: Your anger personifies the cause of the anger. You blame God, yourself, or others. But if you align your interpretations with reality, you have the possibility to find the actual source of the anger. Everyone makes mistakes, but not with bad intentions. When you switch from “who” to “what,” your anger will disappear. The miracle is a change in interpretation, and thus a change in feelings. The perception remains the same.
You interpreted your perception and that is why you flipped out. This time, with a Christ-conscious, you will interpret things differently. Then you’re not angry, although you recognize the mistake. What did Christ say? “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.” But as long as you don’t have a Christ-conscious, you will live out your anger. You can’t prevent that from happening. The question is how you do that? The best way: by hitting a pillow.
Participant: If you always forgive and are good, then people say you don’t have any pride. You have to stand up to them and give them the cold shoulder.
de Souza: Yes, but that isn’t a Christ-conscious when you defy them and give them the cold shoulder.
Participant: Pride is also listed as one of the “basic evils” in Buddhism.
de Souza: Yes, in the sense of arrogance. But we can be proud! You have God in you and express him through your thoughts and deeds. That’s good. You accept life and count the roses. The secret to being happy is to count the roses. That doesn’t mean that you have to deny reality and be blind to the thorns.
Participant: Last time you said something very beautiful: The roses always smell nice no matter who comes by.
de Souza: Yes! The rose doesn’t say, “A beautiful woman is coming. I’ll give her my scent. But I’ll stop smelling nice for this louse.” The sun shines on the good and the bad. But not only does the sun shine on the good and bad, but the rain also falls on everyone. But it rains more on the good—why?
Participant: Because the bad take the umbrellas from the good.
Participant: The other often can’t see his mistake. In this case someone should communicate with him.
de Souza: Yes, exactly! “Communicate”—that is the right word. Speak with him, don’t damn him.
Which wheel gets oiled the most? The one that squeaks the loudest. The good are good because they don’t hide from the rain. They don’t turn their backs to life. They don’t fear the rain and the challenges that life presents them with. That’s why they can also love people with mistakes. And you learn through mistakes.
The difficult part is realizing your own weaknesses without becoming angry. Only in this way can you yourself also grow. Furthermore, you also have to be critical of yourself—when you accept yourself! Then you’ll be spiritually cleansed, because you accept yourself and would like to become aware.
Participant: The difficult part of that is that we’re not able to accept our negative side.
de Souza: I accept everything; I do it consciously. When I’m angry, then I’m conscious of the anger. I accept it. When I experience it consciously, then I go to the core of the anger, to my wrong outlook. Then I have the possibility to change this outlook and the anger goes away. But when I blame myself, I have a bad feeling. I have to suppress the bad. It doesn’t go away. When the next chance arises, it’ll resurface. That is if you deny life. That’s exactly what the gurus suggested. Then the problems don’t resurface, because you have given up all bonds. When you’re indifferent to everything, then you also don’t get angry about anything. But you don’t come closer to God in this way, because you don’t do anything and avoid Him in all His creation. You have to take risks, even if there’s the danger of making mistakes. But then you can grow. Nothing always goes according to plan. You know that, but the chance to make things better is always there. Thus you can live your life with meaning. It depends on you.
You in Western civilization have a lot of wealth. Those in Eastern civilizations feel to be above others, the materialistic people, on account of their spirituality. But the Westerners have experienced wealth and have come to the conclusion that it does not lead to happiness. The danger then arises that they will fall into the philosophy of denying life. Then they are as smart as they were in the beginning: through material wealth you can come closer to God. But that is a dangerous statement. You should not believe that you can reach God by following your materialistic wishes. Poverty does not lead you to God. Wealth does not either. But what does the solution look like?
“Saying yes” to life means living life consciously and with love. That is the difference. Not that you simply enjoy the world, become a hedonist, and, for example, participate in orgies. Remember: What is the standard for our path? The standard is neither the number of hours you have meditated, nor how much money you have, but rather how much time passes between two judgmental and negative thoughts—while living life, not while in a cave! And not with a free mind, but full of optimism.
Now you have to be awake. Now you stand with your back against the wall and cannot lie to yourself anymore. If earlier you had a bad thought every ten minutes, and now every twenty minutes, then that is progress! If you want to take the power from your bad thoughts, you cannot go off the path. Progress is measurable. But if you observe your bad thoughts, then please do not blame yourself! That is not the goal. Accept and forgive yourself as well! Try to lengthen the intervals between bad thoughts, but do not feel guilty when it does not always work. The intervals will sometimes be long and sometimes short. Just observe—without feeling guilty. Learn to identify negative thoughts! Sadness, for example, does not belong to the negative thoughts that you should observe, but only when you criticize and judge someone. Try to work on only this one aspect. Remember: Rome was not built in a day, and you cannot be healed 100 percent from one day to the next.
Participant: Today we live in a time in which we are surrounded by luxury. People are kept in suspense by their wishes for more and more, because they have to earn the money to fulfill them. And the people become stuck in materialism and aren’t able to concentrate on their spiritual growth.
de Souza: Will you come closer to God by renouncing these things? By saying, “The world is ugly; I don’t want to cling to these material things.” Is that not denial? Whenever you want a car or piece of jewelry, feelings of guilt are created. You believe you lose your way to God when you want material things. But God is also these things. God created this world. Can you love the parents, but hate the children? Can you hate the world, but love God? Who created this world? God! “Dear God, let’s not speak of your ugly world. I don’t want it. I want only you!” Do you think that you come closer to God in this way?
Participant: It’s often the case with me: when one wish has come true, more and more wishes follow.
de Souza: The more, the merrier! In your mind, you’re still denying life. You still feel guilty when you experience joy in this world. Work with good values in mind and make your wishes come true! The more wishes that come true, the more you participate in God’s endless fulfillment!
Participant: But that means you will eventually notice when you have fulfilled all your wishes: there’s no point.
de Souza: Why not? Do you fear that all your wishes could be fulfilled?! God created neither the world nor your needs to be so small! You can always set new goals over and over again!
Participant: Does that mean you come closer to God through material wishes?
de Souza: You come closer to God by being wise and loving. Riches—when used sensibly—can make the path easier for you.
Participant: But we know, of course,—if you live in a castle and eat from golden plates—that Buddha left those riches behind.
de Souza: He also hadn’t yet found his later views there. —Do you know the man who left his wife overnight?
Participant: No, thank God!
de Souza: Buddha did just that. He was also a victim of the philosophy of denying life. He went into the jungle, and there he met the old yogis who took the path of denying life. Then he only ate a couple spoonfuls of rice a day.
Participant: But then he was saved by his wife.
de Souza: No, not by his wife. It was another woman. A farmer’s wife gave him milk and rice. The path to wisdom doesn’t lead through denial. You won’t gain a higher conscious by renunciation, or by not having thoughts, or by not having an ego, or by not having any wishes, or by denying life. But how?
Participant: Through love and joy in life. By work and wealth, by consciousness, wisdom, positive thinking, creative work as creation in God’s eyes, thankfulness, attention, prayer, learning, forgiveness, patience, exactness, reliability, making God’s laws visible in the world, making a family happy, raising children well, living God’s values, realizing God in yourself, and being proud.
de Souza: Everything you’ve said is right. I’ll now summarize everything about the path of “saying yes” to life: “We won’t flee from sorrowful experiences, and also won’t let them have power over us.”
Participant: But have we only come into the world then to collect sorrowful experiences?
de Souza: You are godly beings who seek human experiences. That entails making mistakes and learning. You can’t just pass by the sorrowful experiences. What’s important is that you don’t let these experiences rule your life, but rather that you orientate yourself toward positive perspectives.
No fear of passion
Here is a test: have you stopped hurting your wife? I mean psychologically, of course! Yes or no? That is a trick question. With your answer—no matter yes or no—you are saying that something like that could even happen.
Despite that, the point of “saying yes” to life is not to suppress yourself. But what have the consequences been up until now every time you have let yourself go? Ahimsa (lack of violence) the Indians say. And there is so much violence there in their country! Why are the Indians—and, of course, other people as well—so violent despite little reason to be? From the moment of their birth, they have gotten use to their beliefs. If their beliefs are questioned then they feel threatened, because the beliefs are simply accepted and not experienced. Therefore, they do not feel secure. They actually have doubt. And they want to suppress this doubt. When somebody is critical, this doubt comes to the surface.
As with a student of Mahatma Gandhi. Whenever he received a monetary donation, he put it away without ever taking a look at it. Why did he not look at it, if it were not important to him? He feared that the wishes within him would surface. In the Ramayana it is told that the Indian Queen Sita had been kidnapped. The King Rama and his brother Lakshman searched for her. The ape-god Hanuman found some jewelry and asked Lakshman, “Does this jewelry belong to the Queen?” “I don’t know,” he answered, “I always just looked at her feet.” She was the most beautiful woman in the country. He feared his passion.
We do not want that. We want to be free. Our path is the path to “saying yes” to life, the path to consciousness and love! Accept yourself. When you develop consciousness with love then control is automatically installed. Then you do not need to fear suppressed drives; you will then change your outlook, and the negative feelings will lose their power over you, and, instead of them, positive feelings will grow inside you.
Because Ahimsa (lack of violence) has been preached to the Indians for thousands of years, they have suppressed their violence. At the slightest chance, however, it comes to the surface. Ahimsa is a good lesson. But what went wrong? They did not learn to observe their violence, and thus to identify the negative outlook behind it.
Participant: When I’ve made a mistake, and others too, how do I behave without blaming the others and without always blaming myself?
de Souza: It’s not your responsibility to point your mistakes out to others. Rely on God. God helps all to learn. You don’t have to assume that responsibility.
Participant: But what about when you’re affected by others’ mistakes?
de Souza: Communicate lovingly and wisely with them. That’s what Christ said. Develop a Christ-conscious. What is that?
Participant: Christ said on the cross, “Father, forgive those who know not what they do.” When I remember this sentence in the moment I’m hurt, then I gain the courage to forgive in time. It doesn’t always work, but it’s growing.
de Souza: Yes, not always. But you can try. That’s the miracle.
Participant: I’ve forgiven and have closure on the matter. But when it continues . . .?
de Souza: If you have a Christ-conscious, then you’ll forgive again and again. Christ said you should forgive your brother seven times seventy times. How often have you had to forgive your boss?
But only in this way do you reach a Christ-conscious. Not when you continue to give others the responsibility.
Participant: I forgive someone and at the same time I’m thinking, “I’ve continued to forgive you for six months already, and you still haven’t changed a bit.”
de Souza: That isn’t forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trying to change the other person. It means accepting him as he is and seeing him as a child of God—despite his weaknesses. Just don’t count his thorns! Pay attention to his merits. Everyone, too, has merits! Many of them!
Participant: If I always act as if no mistake has been made, does that mean I shouldn’t even identify the mistake? But it is something. If he’s hurt someone, then he really has hurt someone.
de Souza: Yes, you can judge him for yourself, but not sentence him.
Participant: But can’t you stop the person when what he does continues to affect another again and again?
de Souza: It doesn’t affect you. The miracle means that you see things differently. And seeing is interpreting.
Participant: But the problem is that the other’s wrong view can genuinely influence my life, that it affects me in a negative way, that I, for example, don’t get a job . . .. I can, of course, forgive him as a human being, but I suffer from his actions.
de Souza: If you can’t come to terms with the situation and negative feelings develop, then try to stay out of his way when possible.
Participant: But when you can’t prevent that another or I is hurt by a wrong action, and you have to cope with this suffering! You just have to do something!
de Souza: You can be a model by your virtues. You can radiate the good values yourself. When you’ve done that, then a lot has changed already. Pay attention to your thoughts and fill them with friendly contents.
You should help others, but to know how you need a high conscious, that means many experiences and understanding of the situation—and, of course, a big heart.
Participant: But do you have to watch someone hurting another?
de Souza: We don’t have to watch the suffering, but heighten the person’s conscious. A person with a high conscious doesn’t hurt another. But begin with yourself.
Your thoughts are important! You are your thoughts. How you think, so you will be! The people in need of help who came to Buddha and the Rishis had confused, bad, negative, and wrong thoughts. That is why they were sad people. Buddha realized that and said: the thoughts lead to this condition.
But, of course, thoughts can also lead to happiness.
Do you want to have people around you who do not think? People have to think. You have to decide for yourself whom you will marry, if you will divorce, if you will eat salad, or whatever else you will do. Do not ask others what you should do. Otherwise you will get used to not thinking. You can discuss a problem or a plan with another, but you have to decide for yourself and carry the responsibility. You can manage it if you trust in yourself, if you increase your feeling of self-worth. That is what the path to “saying yes” to life is about. Do something! Do not sit in the cave! Otherwise your self-esteem will go under. Learn!
The more you decide for yourself, the better. But to do that, you need a goal. And it has to be reachable. If you are completely at rock bottom, then begin with small, easily reachable goals, for example, writing a letter, calling someone, trying out a new recipe, and many small things that you can succeed in. That will slowly increase your self-esteem. Later you can set long-term goals, for example, learning something new. When the goal has been set, continually strive for it. Should it prove that the goal has been set too high, then change it. It has to be attainable according to your own abilities. Look at what characteristics you have. God has given you talent. You should be generous with it and not let it go to waste. In the Bible there is a story about this. Its essence is: He who has much will receive more. He who has little will have even that taken from him. That is a great truth. Choose a goal and strive to reach it. The goal should make you content. You should be happy.
When you notice the goal was wrong, you can always change it. Goals are reachable. When that is not the case, then you have done something wrong—either you have set the wrong goal or made a mistake in its implementation. Turn on reason and find out where things went wrong and change the mistake consequently. Do not blame others, but rather discover your own mistakes. You can correct your mistakes! Especially in this case it goes: turn on, not off, the thoughts! If you are, however, completely confused and at rock bottom, then meditate or pray! Turn off the thoughts first, calm down, and remove the weight. But the problems do not just go away like that. Through meditation you learn to calm your thoughts and concentrate. Then you can process the problems and solve them better.
Contact to the super-conscious
In addition, the solution to the problem can come by meditating. But that can only happen once you have thoroughly thought about all aspects of the problem and have analyzed all alternatives. If you still do not make any progress—then you can meditate or do something else, for example, going for a walk or playing football. Then the solution will suddenly come. But what led to the solution? Thinking beforehand! All the puzzle pieces are there, and you can now gain access to the super-conscious, which puts together the pieces. You have first used your conscious intensively, and now turn it off and relax. The conscious will be joined with the super-conscious, and the solution will suddenly come—especially when you do not have a piece of paper with you. The solution seems to be so obvious that you think you will never forget it. But that is a mistake. Thus, always write it down right away. That is the secret to all creative activities. After you have put all the aspects together in your mind, the solution will come to you “in your sleep.” First turn on the thoughts intensively, and then turn them off. Christ said, “You will also do the work that I do, and you will even do greater things.”
The power of thoughts
It does not pay to flee from problems. Too much has to be suppressed. Only by living through it, can you be free from it. That happens through consciousness. Then you learn to understand the world and good values develop within you. In this way, you yourself will become a source of joy and love in the world. Then you follow Christ and do his deeds. Then you will develop into the person you can be. Your negative outlook loses its power. If you simply suppress your problems, they will resurface even stronger than they were before!
Our thoughts can raise us or pull is down. You will become what you think! Therefore, be attentive to what you are thinking!
When a businessman is successful, it is due to his thoughts. Or you can be exalting like Thomas von Aquinas. His success came from his exalted thoughts. Or you can be a creative person, a painter or writer; your success stems from your thoughts. If you are a gangster, then that too stems from your thoughts. Make an effort, therefore, to take responsibility for your thoughts. When you are successful, it will be on account of your thoughts. Everything you do you prepare in your thoughts. Every plan, hope, every motive stems from that. Every feeling shows itself through your spirit, and thus your spirit guides you in all steps that you will ever take in life. Look at your thoughts: are they thoughts of the person you want to be? This is the path to “saying yes” to life.
Participant: But that’s the most difficult thing: bringing the thoughts into full swing. That’s strenuous.
de Souza: Yes, that is strenuous. That’s why the gurus say, “Don’t think,” and the people are happy. But everything worthy has its price.
Participant: But a certain ambition also plays a role; otherwise the think-instrument won’t be brilliant.
de Souza: Yes, of course! Ambition is all right. Use your brain and bring it into full swing. You alone are responsible for your character and destiny! You can seek advice from others, but they can’t be responsible for your success. You alone are in charge.
Highs and lows
You do not have to try to be successful all the time. There are always highs and lows in life. What is important is to have long-term success. Every year you can see that your curve has gotten higher. Your highs are higher and your lows are no longer so overwhelming. And do not believe that you will always fail, because you have once failed before. You are a perfectionist, and that is why you are very sad and blame yourself when something does not work out. Then you want to renounce the world and withdraw yourself from life. But that is not right. Everyone has experienced failure. Without it you cannot experience success. You learn by failing. Do not try, though, to find the easy way out. You have to be willing to work. Successful people have worked hard. When you say, “He has talent; he’s lucky.” —No! That is not it, but rather he has worked hard. But you do not see that! You only see his success. Then you feel betrayed by the world.
Participant: Should we then work as much as we can?
de Souza: It’s not about working as much as possible. It’s about reaching your goals and having joy in life. Work conscientiously and follow your goals. Think about a sensible way to achieve them and always optimize your plans according to the new conditions. Be aware of everything you do. Thank God for your talents and wealth, and for the chance to use your talents.
The three aspects of “saying yes” to life: 1. Consciousness
What do we teach in the philosophy of “saying yes” to life? Consciousness, love, and logic. That is our beginning. Let us first talk about consciousness: Christ spoke of consciousness and love. “Be awake,” he taught, “and love God and your neighbor as you love yourself.”
If you’re not conscious, then you cannot experience God. If you meditate a lot, then you can be more in harmony with yourself. However, that does not describe the condition of your conscious. That is not spirituality. You are only showing that you have practiced a lot. That is all. After King Midas had been meditating for years, a diva came from the other side and asked him what he wished. He had wishes, which is good. But you also need consciousness. You can spare yourself many negative experiences through consciousness. King Midas wished: “Everything I touch should turn to gold. Then I’ll be the wealthiest man in the world.” His wish was granted. But was he any happier? He touched his daughter, and she turned to gold. Now he suddenly did not get any joy from gold anymore.
Even when you, for example, have good intentions behind your actions, you can do more harm than good. One time a monkey was sitting on the beach and tried to catch fish out of the water. Then a cat came and asked him why he was doing that. The monkey replied, “Oh, that’s quite easy. I’m saving the fish from drowning.” If you do not have consciousness, then please do not do anything good! You can do harm! Consciousness means observing your actions, and, above all, knowing what you are thinking. Or you will become like Procrustes. He had a hotel with only one bed. But every guest will fit in it, he said. If the guest is too short, then he will stretch his legs, and if he is too tall, then he will be chopped short. That is a Procrustean solution. That is what we do. We do not see the individual characteristics, but rather a suit for “one size fits all.” Consciousness means, however, to learn to see and understand reality, instead of manipulating it to make ourselves more comfortable.
The three aspects to “saying yes” to life: 2. Logic
We can only take the world as it is. Therefore, logic is important. A rabbit was hopping through the woods one day when he met a wolf-dog. “What sort of animal are you?” asked the rabbit. “I’m a wolf-dog. My father was a wolf and my mother a dog.” The rabbit hopped along and met a donkey. “What sort of animal are you?” asked the rabbit. “I’m a donkey. My father was a horse and my mother a donkey.” Then the rabbit met yet another animal. “What sort of animal are you?” he asked it. “I’m an ant-bear!” “I don’t believe it!” exclaimed the rabbit completely convinced. —The rabbit had wrong logic. Without logic, you cannot understand the world and develop consciousness.
However, there is something other than logic. That is the essence of things. Through logic we gain arguments that lead to truths. But there are higher truths that cannot be proven or derived by arguments and which also cannot be understood by logic. But that does not mean that logic is senseless. —Once upon a time there was a ship. Its name was the “M.S. Logic.” On the ship there lived a bird. He was searching for land. Again and again he flew away from the ship, but not too far so that he could reach the ship again at any time. —Such is how you should deal with logic. You cannot come closer to God with a confused mind.
When you use logic, you have an orientation in reality. Logic protects you from confusion. But when you reach the essence of things, then that is far from logic. Logic cannot explain this higher state. I will give you an example of such a higher truth: “We are godly beings who seek human experiences.” We are not humans who seek God, but vice versa. You cannot explain that using logic. That is another truth. Logic asks, “Why were we born here as humans?” The mind asks, “Why do we need experiences in a body? Couldn’t we also gain experiences in the spiritual world?” Logic is responsible for the intellectual level. It should protect you from mistakes. Only then can you enter the spiritual sphere. You do not lose, however, your reference to reality. Your roots have been anchored deeply in the earth, but you have wings for the heavens. The taller the tree, the deeper the roots.
The more spiritual you are, the more logic you must use.
A lot of people talk nonsense. When we do not understand them, we may consider them very wise. Where is the border? Only because logic can be abused does not mean that you should turn it off. Fire can burn down the house. But despite that we use it to cook wonderful meals. Anything can be dangerous and abused.
The three aspects to “saying yes” to life: 3. Love
In order to use things correctly, we also need love. You have to be able to accept and give love. But it is not easy to accept love. When, for example, one gives too much love, the other withdraws or goes away. When the husband shows too much love, the wife says, “I don’t need your love. I’m independent from your love. But when you want to give me love, then I’m generous enough to accept it. I’ll do you the favor.” It is difficult when both give and accept the same amount of love. It is always possible that one of them becomes scared and feels restricted. A lot of men feel restricted by their wives. They get too close to their husbands.
Jesus was thirsty and came upon a fountain. A Samaritan was standing there. Jesus asked her for water. She was surprised, since the Jewish did not normally want anything to do with people from Samaria. Jesus said to her that she could only give him water after he had become thirsty again. But he could give her water that could quench her thirst eternally and create a fountain of eternal life within her. Jesus wanted to give her something, but she could not accept it, because it would make her small. Therefore, Jesus asked her for a little something. She should give him water. Then she did not feel small and was able to take in Christ’s love.
de Souza: It’s difficult to be conscious, to love and accept love. You need time to practice.
Participant: Often you don’t have the chance, though.
de Souza: Oh, but you’ve always had the chance! You were the Samaritan, and Christ was there and asked for water and offered you the water of eternal life. But you didn’t understand. Within the old tradition and rituals, everything is certain. But when a new idea comes along, you are just as uncertain as the woman at the fountain. “Is your fountain better than Jacob’s? You don’t have a rope, so how are you going to draw the water?” “Are you bigger than Moses?” How should Christ reply?
Participant: Christ said that Moses brought the law, and he has come to fill the law with love.
de Souza: At the beginning, it was necessary for the people to have laws, because they weren’t so highly developed. At least from the outside they had to obey these laws, even when it had not yet come from the heart. On the inside, they could think what they wanted. Christ then said, likewise in your thoughts you may not do bad things. Sometimes Christ had to answer difficult questions. But he had enough consciousness to do that.
The people who posed the questions wanted to see if Christ was against Moses. According to Moses’ law, an adulterer had to be stoned. People and intellectuals stood there. Now was the perfect opportunity to convict Christ. He spoke of love and couldn’t, therefore, be in favor of stoning. But that went against Moses.
Then Christ said, “He among you who has not committed sin can throw the first stone!” Then one after the other left. Christ wrote at the same time on the ground. Why? He didn’t want to provoke the people any further. —Read the New Testament! And read it differently.
Love is indeed abstract, but all understand it, even animals. At a university, experiments were carried out on various groups of rabbits. They all received a diet rich in fat, because the doctors wanted to see if that would influence the cholesterol levels or not. In all cases, the cholesterol levels increased, apart from one group. They had received the same unhealthy diet. What was the cause for the difference? The student who had fed them always picked them up first and petted them. The rabbits’ immune systems reacted to the human love. Love can strengthen the immune system, your own, too. When someone yells and screams at you, you become sick. When someone is loving toward you, you remain healthy. That means, be loving! Be loving toward yourself! Have I said anything new?
Events happen. What do you have to do? You cannot control the events, but you can control your views of these events. You can control your thoughts. It is in your hands. Almost all other things are not in your hands. You have to observe your thoughts and their consequences in practice. Then you can see which thoughts and their consequences are not good for you. You replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. But you can only replace the thoughts once you have observed them. And once you have changed the thoughts, the feelings change too, because feelings are dependent on thoughts. When you want to steer your feelings in a certain direction, you have to change your thoughts.
If you were once depressed and have introduced the new thoughts, then the depression will not go away immediately. It takes time. When you are in the desert and someone shows you the way out, it will not suddenly become cooler. Depression comes because you have not paid attention to your thoughts. Your husband has left you. You say, “Other women are more beautiful than me. I’m not appealing. I’ve behaved wrong,” etc., etc. The consequence is depression. You are in the desert. Change your thoughts. “I’m young, I’m beautiful, I’m appealing.” Then go in the right direction. It will become cooler with time.
A postcard from God
When you are aware, then you are amazed; everything is wonderful, every flower along the path brings joy. A fire of joy has spread within you. Everything you see is in praise of creation. When you are not aware, you do not notice all that. Then you see the world as being too narrow, and you feel small and ugly. The world then has to be denied.
A higher conscious means joy in life. Naturally, you also sense sorrow, and when you see suffering, you try to do something about it. Joy does not mean that you are closed to the suffering of others. Contrary! You can feel the sorrow deeper. And you can do something about it, but only once you have heightened your conscious. Otherwise, you will save the fish from drowning and throw them onto the shore.
Every new day brings with it new miracles. Every time you have forgiven someone or have been loving toward another, you have created a miracle. Miracle means that you interpret the world and behavior of people differently than before—lovingly. The world is the same; it is only that you no longer see it according to your current interpretations, but rather with a Christ-conscious. Then the world is different, and very beautiful! Every leaf is full of joy. Every flower laughs and speaks to you. Every flower is God’s way of saying he loves you. But you are not reading God’s postcard. You walk right past it. You do not notice this beauty.
Consciousness, “saying yes” to life, means that you will become glad. And when you are glad, you bring joy to other people. It is a chain reaction. Then the whole world laughs and is glad. In the philosophy of denying life, you receive sympathy when you cry. When you laugh, someone asks: What is wrong with you? You believe that something must be wrong. But what is wrong with laughing? Miracles are all around us. Through consciousness and the principles of “saying yes” to life, you will become aware of them ever more often.
go on reading Chapter 3