Swami Sivananada was a man of faith. He was a scholar and wrote two hundred, three hundred, four hundred books on every subject in yoga and tantra, but his main quality was not his intellectual capacity but his absolute faith in God. That was his greatness. I have never come across another man in my life that had his unconditional faith. I have seen the greatest intellectuals and read their books. I have met many people in the East and the West who are dedicated, sincere, and honest, but faith is something else. It is not knowledge. To anybody who went to Swami Sivananda with difficulties, he always said, "It will be alright." There was so much faith.
I know what faith is; but there are always doubts lurking in the mind. You are never sure what is going to happen. Even if you believe in God, you are never sure about it. There is some sort of doubt somewhere, an intellectual doubt, or maybe some religious doubt, but doubt is always there. You are never sure.
If you can say that God is omnipresent and omnipotent and that he is all-compassionate, all-loving; you say it, but that's all. You have no faith in it, for when you are put to a real test, you fail. A man having faith will never fail. For twelve years that was one quality I saw in Swami Sivananda.
He had intellect. He was a doctor, but he had so much faith. He used to tell me many times, "Ay, why do you rack your brain so much? You just pray to God and it will happen." It was difficult for me to accept it at the time.
As I grow in my life, as I see life and all the paths of yoga, bhakti, jnana, intellectualism, Sufism, Jainism, Lamaism, I think they are all difficult paths. They are not only difficult, but we are not even sure that any of them lead anywhere. I think they are all fronts. We don't mind the practice, it is all fun, but actually we are just passing time, seventy years, eighty years, ninety years. We are going nowhere. For years and years we practice, but the little ego doesn't come out of its nest. We are talking about changing the self. The same ego sits with us our whole life and we are not able to come out.
At most what do we get? We close our eyes and are unconscious. We just lose contact with time and space; that's all. Is this the highest truth that we are to attain? When we become unconscious of the external realities of life, is that the only role of life? Do we want to escape from external realities, because of competition, hard labour, jealousy, love, passion and imperfection? The world demands so many things from us, that we want to escape from it. What should we attain? Many paths that we have been taking and trying and working at, ultimately leave us at a point when we can do nothing. We can't even go back. It is too late.
The path, whether it is guru bhakti; faith in the guru, or it is bhakti for the Lord, faith in God, whatever it may be, there should be an attitude of inspiration.
There is something within us that must develop, and we should lose ourselves to it. It is not difficult. I tell you it is not difficult, but we have not tried it. Many times we know people who completely lose themselves in anger. They even kill, only to repent later. For a moment they lose themselves. We have seen people lost in passion. We know how to lose ourselves. It is not that we do not know. We have lost ourselves many times. Then why should we not lose ourselves in this total awareness, even for one minute, it is enough. It is said, if you can lose your little self, if you can lose yourself, even for one split second, in the time that it takes lightening to come and go, even that much time is enough. Just cease to exist for a split second. That was the one thing that I saw in Swami Sivananda, for many years.
In my life I have seen many people whom I call magicians. I have lived with people who are great intellectuals. Yet, I had never lived with a man who had love, compassion, understanding, and eternal forgiveness not only in his mind but in his lifestyle. I distinctly remember three persons and no more. One was Mahatma Gandhi, another was Swami Sivananda and the third was Jesus Christ. If you lived with Swami Sivananda, you would think of Jesus Christ all the time. When Jesus Christ said, "God forgive them, for they know not what they do." I thought, this could not be said; no man could say that. However, in the lives of Swami Sivananda and Mahatma Gandhi, this was practiced. This was a great experience in my life.
When Mahatma Gandhi was about to be assassinated, the department of police wanted to guard him physically with revolvers and pistols. Rumours were already in the air that an attempt to kill him was going on. Actually, there were many rumours circulating about an assassination attempt. The government wanted to screen the people who came into his meetings. They also wanted two police bodyguards by his side, but Gandhiji refused. He said, "The real protector is God and not the revolver. Man doesn't have to defend himself because he is the replica of the Divine. If one has faith in God, one has to have faith in one's own self. If you don't have faith in your Self it means you have no faith in God." That was the type of person Gandhi was and Swami Sivananda was of the same type.