Teacher Training Manual: Lesson 12 - The Murli
From BrahmaKumaris.Info Encyclopedia
Lesson 12: SPIRITUAL EDUCATION AND THE MURLI
The Purpose of Spiritual Education
1. To gain insights into the self, God, others and life
2. To understand the laws of life and their application
3. To give meaning to life
4. To change oneself through conscious choice
The subjects of a spiritual study
1. Knowledge 2. Yoga 3. Dharna or inculcation of Virtues 4. Service
- The Spiritual Student
- The Spiritual Teacher & His teaching method
- The Lessons: Sakar Murli and Avyakt Murli
At the end of the sessions (two session-hours), the participants will be able to:
- Recognize the importance of spiritual study
- Identify the subjects in a spiritual study
- Recognize and appreciate the difference between Sakar Murli and Avyakt Murli.
- Meditation Experience for at least 15 minutes at the start and end of murli reading
- Spiritual Education is based on universal spiritual laws. Such laws apply to every human being regardless of his or her place of birth, culture and religious or political background_ The goal of a spiritual education is to develop the original qualities of the soul. This has nothing to do with a person's intellectual capacity. Anyone, with or without previous knowledge or training, can enhance the quality of his or her life through spiritual wisdom. Spiritual study teaches you to make optimal use of your mind, so the concentration, clarity and the ability to make positive choices, increase.
Look around you and you will probably have the feeling that many of the universal laws of life have been forgotten. After all if, we truly understood these spiritual laws, wouldn't we also have the wisdom to apply them? However, this does not seem to be the case.
Clarification of spiritual concepts
Love is only one of them. For example: · What exactly is renunciation? · What does a virtue like serenity really mean? · Who is God? · What is the meaning of life? · Where do we come from? Where are we going? · What is the influence of religion on the soul? · What is the difference between religion and spirituality?
Even if we know all of these things, are we also integrating these understanding into our everyday life? For most part, no. On the contrary, it's as though we have lost the meaning and value of the soul and its relationship to the body and nature. It's as though we have forgotten what life is all about.
A spiritual education is aimed exactly at this - at rediscovering the value of life in a practical way. This is why a good spiritual education needs to include a thorough explanation of these vital, spiritual laws and concepts, in addition to creating a good meditation practice. As mentioned previously, the deeper you go into such understanding, the deeper will be your meditation experience. A good spiritual education teaches you how to live life as an art - happily and with fulfillment.
The Purpose of a spiritual study
Gaining Insight into the Self, God, Others and Life - insight to these aspects create answers to four main questions that humanity has been asking throughout the ages: Who am I? Who is God? What is the purpose of life and How should I interact with others?
Why haven't we been able to find satisfying answers to these questions up to now? The most obvious reason is that we are too involved in the problem itself, too much a part of the questions and there is too much at stake. Therefore, we do not have sufficient `distance' to see reality as it is. However, there is one Being who retains total objectivity, One who never comes into the cycle of birth and death, and so alone maintains the `distance' needed to be an impartial observer. Such is the part of the Supreme Soul. He alone sees the complete cycle of time, knows the past, present and future. He alone has the reliable overview. Also, He is without any selfish motives. For all the above reasons, the Supreme is ideally positioned to teach us great insights about ourselves and the state of the world.
For Raja Yogis, a relationship with the Supreme is not so much a goal in itself, as much as it is a means to get to the self, and realize the full potential of the self. God is sometimes called the Seed of the human world because it is as though He holds the `blueprint' of human life. To know Him means to know the self, others and life itself. The aim of the Supreme Soul is to liberate all souls from the bonds of body-conscious thinking (learned, acquired, limited) thinking.
Understanding the laws of life and their application
Insights into the laws are useful only if we are able to apply them to our daily life. Otherwise it is armchair knowledge. Such impractical knowledge can result in mental tension - we know a lot but aren't necessarily able to live up to it. Knowledge of this sort just make us unhappy. It is only when we thoroughly understand the spiritual laws (such the laws of karma, entropy, love, etc.) that we can then start applying them in our life.
In short, the study of Raja Yoga is based on a practice, which is oriented towards the situations of everyday life. It is not knowledge for the sake of having large discussions or philosophical debates. Rather, it is knowledge for studying, inculcating and applying in our own lives.
Giving meaning to life
Many of us might have had the feeling that (our) life is not very fulfilling or meaningful. We might have wondered at the use of getting up every morning at the same time, to go to the same job, etc. Or we might have wondered at the meaning of so much suffering on earth. What is the purpose of the increasing violence everywhere? And what can I, just an insignificant, single human being in a big world', possibly do to make this world a little better?
Thinking about life in this way can lead to feelings of frustration, hopelessness, apathy, aggression or boredom. However, the more we begin to understand and see the spiritual reality behind the visible reality, the more interesting life becomes. It is as though a new dimension opens up to us. We begin to understand that behind each action, each gesture and each outer appearance, there is a world of significance. Nothing happens in a vacuum, everything has purpose, meaning and consequence. Looking at life in this way makes life exciting; it makes it a challenge.
When we begin to understand the way events are interconnected, we see that our `one small insignificant life' can be very important indeed for the whole life in this planet One person's personal growth and spiritual development has an effect on everything and everyone, even on people who live far away from us. We are all interconnected. When we begin to realize this, life becomes more meaningful; it becomes more valuable. This is when we begin to live!
Changing the self through conscious choice
If there is one thing certain in life, it is that everything is constantly changing. And whether we like it or not we will also have to change. If we do not consciously choose to change, we might end up feeling forced to, later by circumstances. This usually creates a general feeling of resistance to change - the feeling of being pressured, like swimming against the stream. This attitude is a source of tension.
Knowledge and understanding of the current time and the condition of the human soul gives us the insights and power to consciously choose to make changes in our life_ Through such action it is as though we change ahead of time, before time forces us to change. We no longer simply react to change, but actively take part in the process of creation.
The Subjects of Spiritual Study
There are four subjects taught by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.
- Knowledge; The first subject In each BK center there are early morning lessons. These lessons begin with half hour meditation followed by 45 to 60 minutes of class. These classes - called the Murlis- take up in greater detail subjects we already discussed during the basic and intermediate courses. The interesting thing about this study is that people who have been studying here for over twenty years listen to the same Murlis as do people who have only been studying here for a few months. God's teachings are so deep and yet so clear that each and everyone can extract from them whatever he/she is looking for.
- Yoga; Apart from the study of knowledge, yoga is also important. Yoga means linking the mind to the Supreme Soul, and it is this which gives us power and enables us to have the realization and experience of everything we learn. (This the importance for the 30 minutes meditation before the Murli class and at least 10 minutes meditation after listening to the Murli). Knowledge without yoga is impractical and burdensome. Yoga without knowledge will not have any power - it will be an experience, but there will be no understanding thus we will not be able to recreate that experience at will or integrate it into our personality. It is only when both knowledge and yoga come together that there can be deep insight - wisdom.
- Dharna; A Hindi word hat is not very easy to translate. It is precisely for this reason that we have chosen to retain the Hindi word. (The Hindi language is rich in subtle connotations and words that have more than one meaning). As we progress further in this study we will come across many such words that deliberately have not been translated into English for this reason. Dharna means the inculcation of divine virtues and powers. Dharna is the result of taking up this knowledge through a combination of study and yoga. When the experience of the union with God (yoga) and insight (knowledge) come together, thoughts, feelings, words and actions all become the same. There is no longer a difference in what we think, feel, do or say. This is dharna - when we start to embody the teachings.
- Service - When dharna increases, we automatically begin to share our treasures with others - treasures like peace, love, patience, respect and happiness. The experience of our own spiritual efforts and transformation is what enables us, in a very natural way, to explain to others and also to sustain them in different ways. This is called service. The most powerful and subtle service is to sustain other souls through pure, positive (elevated) thoughts. We might find it difficult sometimes to explain to others in words about who they really are or how a connection with the Supi enue would be of so much benefit to them. But we can always support others in a subtle way, simply by having pure, elevated thoughts, by showing respect for who they (really) are, even though they may sometimes act in a negative or hostile way. Through this we give others hope and confidence in their own spiritual personality. We are often not aware enough of the effect of our thoughts on others, nor of the fact that we souls are all interconnected.
The Spiritual Student
The more motivated we are, the better will be our results. In this study, motivation increases as we gain deeper insight into the Supreme, time and ourselves. Our appreciation for the unlimited advantages of this spiritual study will grow.
A clear mind is an important ingredient of this study as the clarity of our consciousness determines the degree to which we will be able to take this knowledge in. It is good to be reminded that alcohol, drugs and other mind altering substances (and also watching television for long stretches of time) have a negative effect on our clarity and should be avoided as much as possible. In any case be sober when you come to the Raja Yoga centers. Only then will you experience maximum benefit from the lessons and the experiences you will have during meditation.
Responsibility and regularity
The interesting part of this education is that everything done here is done for the self. There are no examinations (other than those in our daily life) and we do not get any kind of certification or diploma. Regular meditation and study is our own responsibility. This gives us the opportunity to build a certain discipline and regularity into our own life. It is an enormous challenge to really do something for one's own benefit, out of self-respect and not for our friends, our parents, our teacher, but for ourselves alone.
Results of a Spiritual Education
The results of this spiritual education be divided into short term and long term. You have undoubtedly already experienced some of the short term results.
The Spiritual Teacher
An important aspect of the spiritual study offered by the Brahma Kumaris is the realization who exactly is teaching it? You have already met different teachers in the last couple of weeks from this institution, and you will meet more. But all of what you have been taught, has been taught to them by the Supreme Soul. All the teachers here are, at one and the same time, students. Brahma Baba also saw himself as a student of God. He stressed this point to prevent people from seeing him as a guru. Brahma and the more senior students of this institution (whom we call brothers and sisters) are models, not gurus. It is important to be aware of this, otherwise we might be tempted to start praising or even defaming others. If we become attached to a certain teacher or fellow student, we will miss the point of these teachings. So, the best way to proceed is to remember that all of us here are students, and that it is God who is the Teacher.
How God Teaches
It was in 1936 when Brahma, at age 60, had a series of visionary experiences. Brahma first saw visions of the soul as a point of light, followed by visions of the Supreme Soul with the same form. He also saw images of a new world in which people lived together in harmony. In another vision he saw this old world going through a delicate and turbulent phase. Brahma Baba understood that a time of intense transformation lay just ahead of us and that he was to play an important role in this transformation process. What that role would be he did not yet know. After these intense experience Brahma Baba decided to quit his worldly business (he was a wealthy diamond merchant) in order to devote the rest of his life to Godly service.
From that day onward, Brahma Baba became the "instrument" of the Supreme to communicate His teachings. The Supreme spoke daily through the mouth of Brahma Baba. The wisdom that God shared was just as new to Brahma Baba as it was to the many who came to listen to this new knowledge. A group of people formed around Brahma Baba, most of whom were women. This group ultimately became the foundation of this worldwide spiritual university. From the very beginning, Brahma Baba put the women in front and made them the administrative heads of the university. And even today the Brahma Kumaris is still run by women.
One might ask why the Supreme Soul chose this method to communicate with His children. Why didn't He just give visions, or why didn't He just transform the world Himself? Why teach and explain? The problem with visions is that they have to be interpreted. As we know from the scriptures all religious founders had clear insights, but they were always interpreted later on in many different ways, causing a lot of confusion. Aside from this, it is we human souls, who have made this world into what it is today. It is not God's world, it is our world. It is out of love and mercy for his children that the Supreme Father gives us the power (yoga) and the insight (knowledge) to put right what we ourselves have done wrong. God gives us the tools to take responsibility for our own world. He puts every soul in the position of settling his own karmic accounts and thus regaining self-respect and happiness.
From 1936 to 1969 the Supreme communicated His teachings through the mouth of Brahma Baba. In the same way that we human souls use our physical organs to speak, listen and see the Supreme used Brahma Baba's organs. By the way, this phenomenon occurred with the complete approval and permission of Brahma Baba. He was not possessed and did not go into trance. He was always completely conscious of what was going on and was able to hear the lessons himself, too. He used to make jokes about this: "My ears hear these things first". The lessons were recorded and typed out later. In this way, by talking to us directly, the possibility of misinterpretation was eliminated.
Sakar Murli & Avyakt Murli. The lessons Baba taught and still teaches are called 'Murlis'. The word 'Murli' literally means flute of knowledge. The flute is a symbol of communication (of knowledge). In India the deity Krishna, for example, is shown playing a flute.
There are two types of Murlis. The first is called Sakar Murli. `Sakar' means corporeal. The sakar murlis were spoken from the beginning until 1969, when Brahma Baba passed away. The word Sakar refers to the fact that Brahma Baba was still in a physical body in this period. The Murlis spoken after 1969 are called Ayvakt Murlis. 'Avyakt' means subtle, non-physical and refers to the fact that Brahma Baba now plays a subtle, non-physical role from the Subtle Regions. We will come back to these matters later on in the lessons.
All the knowledge that has been revealed is found in the Sakar Murlis. God takes up many, many different subjects of human life. The Sakar Murlis are the foundation of all knowledge. The things you have been hearing about in the basic and intermediate courses, like the Cycle of Time, the role of the Supreme, the original powers and qualities of the soul, etc. were all revealed in the Sakar Murlis.
The Ayvakt Murlis usually go deeper into specific subject. The tone is also slightly different. In these Murlis Baba takes up very specific powers and qualities of the soul and gives directions that are relevant for the time we are living in now. At the end of this lesson we will read a part of each kind of Murli. (Prepare samples of both types of Murlis. Read excerpts from them. Read the Murli straight and then clarify or explain concepts or words students do not understand.)
The Murli goes into a huge variety of subjects. Through the Murli, Baba teaches us how life used to be, compared to what we have made it now. His objective view is very enlightening. Listening to the Murli we will hear new points every day points that are important to our personal transformation. Some points are repeated almost every day in different forms. This is because it takes a while before the real meaning of a certain aspect becomes clear to us.
The Murli talks of sanskars of many births, In this way we become aware of our subconscious conditionings, ideas and experiences. Sometimes a sensitive spot is hit, sometimes something falls into place, and sometimes a mental or emotional block is removed. The Murli always clarifies and gives solutions. It is interesting to hear how God looks at our world and us. His perspective is also different He looks at everything from a different reality. It's the reality of spirituality.
The reality that is visible to us is, in fact, only a limited vision of reality. There is another reality, which is invisible to our eyes, because it is incorporeal. Baba explains to us the relationship between the invisible (the soul, the Supreme Soul, the soul world) and the visible (matter and the material world). In fact, the whole creation is about the relationship between these three things: the soul, matter and God. The human soul and matter are constantly changing. Through an increasing body consciousness an imbalance has developed in the relationship between soul and matter. The soul forgets its spiritual identity (soul consciousness) and gradually becomes a slave to matter. The only constant factor in this `game' is the Supreme Soul, who is forever pure. It is for this reason that only He can give us insights into the relationship between the corporeal and the incorporeal.
Teaching Methods of the Supreme Teacher
The Supreme Soul explains in different ways. First of all He shows us contrasts. For example, the contrast between Heaven (Golden Age) and Hell (the Iron Age), between love and hate. Baba not only explains what love and happiness mean, but He also explains what hate and sorrow really mean, as most of us no longer understand these things anymore. We have been in this uncomprehending state of mind for such a long time that we have become used to it. We are not able to clearly see our present condition until the contrast with happiness is made clear.
Baba compares things to the world we know in order to clarify certain concepts. For example, sometimes He compares all human beings to children of one big family who have forgotten their parents - the result of this is we keep fighting amongst each other. Sometimes Baba compares us to the thorns in a jungle. Baba is the Master of the Garden who has come to change us thorns into flowers. Baba also uses images so that not only the left side of the brain (mental, rational energy), but also the sight side (intuitive, creative energy) is addressed. For example, Baba uses the image of the lotus flower to explain to us what detachment really means. The lotus flower grows with its roots in the mud, but the flower is above the surface of the water and reaches out to the sun. In the same way we must stand with our two feet firmly on this earth, but our thoughts are turned to the Spiritual Sun, to God.
Baba also gives new facts to think about For instance: "You are a soul". Many people think: "I am a body and I have a soul". Baba says: "You are a soul and you have a body". When the meaning of this fact touches us our world view changes completely. Facts are also given about the identity of God. These are of great importance, because religious arguments are among the major causes of war among people everywhere. Every religion claims God for itself and claims to act in the name of God. But only God Himself can reveal His true identity and true motives.
God sometimes calls Himself a surgeon. He makes diagnoses and makes very clear statements: "You souls have become sick. You have become unhappy and are trapped of body consciousness". These are rather bold statements, but the Supreme has such authority that He can make them. He looks at the world and us from such a pure, true and unbiased perspective.
Give the student a copy of a sakar murli for him or her study according to the 4 subjects. Note down some points about the 4 subjects. Note down an inspiration he/she is taking from the Murli. Note down also points from murli he/she wants to clarify.
(End the class with meditation)