Guruji, for people who live in cities, ashram is a sanctuary where we get to spend a few hours or days in the proximity of our Guru, and where we feel blissful and happy to escape the chaotic city life. However, we observe that just as in the outside world, even at the ashram we have people of varying natures, and one must interact with them just as tactfully as one does in the outside world. So, is it right to conclude that the physical presence of Guru does not matter, as far as one’s spiritual evolvement is concerned, and that it is far more necessary to absorb the teachings of the Guru wherever one may be, at the ashram or outside? Please explain.

Our ashram will always serve as a spiritual retreat for seekers. It is alright to escape to the ashram once in a while; but it should be understood that for individual evolution, one is required to interact with all kinds of people and situations. If not, how will one know whether one has evolved or not? If in spite of everything that happens during one’s interactions with people and situations, whether one is at the ashram or elsewhere, if one can maintain a serene and balanced mind, it means that the person has evolved. The physical presence of the Guru may serve to calm a chaotic mind or situation, but each person has to work out his or her own evolution, based on the teachings of the Guru. Keep on working on your own shortcomings. Practice the teachings of the Guru, steadfastly.

Do not judge or evaluate people, whether they are living at the ashram or in your own city. Try to calm your own turbulent mind and senses. When you keep up the spiritual practices imparted by the Guru, you get closer to success in spiritual advancement. Identify and eradicate all your negative traits one by one. The very comparison that one indulges in gives rise to negativity. Do not judge another person. We have come on earth for our own evolvement. How does what others do or say concern us? Follow the laws of nature, wherever you may be. Tact is required so long as you do not evolve. Once you evolve spiritually, a loving nature becomes a way of life, and tact is no longer required for dealing with any kind of being or situation.

The physical presence of the Guru is helpful for beginners in the struggle for spiritual evolution. Keep on struggling with your own self, to eradicate the enemies of your own body and mind. Continue your internal fight relentlessly, and you shall soon succeed in evolving spiritually.

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