You Are Unique but Not Special
Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
One morning a number of years ago when he was giving his morning talk, Pujya Swami Chidanandaji gave us all what could be called a bit of a scolding. He said, “This morning I want to make something very clear. When this servant comes here in the morning and makes his offering, I have no one in particular in mind. I am speaking as Gurudev prompts me to speak; I am not speaking to any individual. It is the Impersonal speaking to the Impersonal. If you think that I am speaking to you personally, you will not get the import of the message. Of course, what I say may apply to you in a particular and important way that day, but it is not intended for anyone in particular. There may be 20 or 30 people for whom that message is relevant that day.” And then Swamiji finally ended up his message saying, “I don’t want to have to say this again.”
There was perhaps something very significant in that message for each one of us in our own spiritual lives. We must not think that we are not of individual importance. One of Swamiji’s best known talks is, You Are Unique in the Eyes of God, in which talk he made it clear that each and every one of us is important to God. The mistake, indeed the sickness, comes when we think that we are the only one that is important.
We’re so full of our own individual importance, we’re so full of self-concern, that we have no impersonal viewpoint at all. Yes, a particular message may be exactly appropriate for us that day, as if it is tailor-made for our need, but so too it may be tailor-made for any number of other people. If we think it is only meant for us, that is a very personal point of view. If we give thanks for it because it is helpful for us and at the same time recognise that it could be equally helpful to many other people, that is an impersonal way of receiving it and looking at life.
Swamiji wants us to listen to him in an impersonal way, a totally open way. In that way, he said, you can receive what I am offering without distorting it. And this is true of every moment of our lives. God loves each one of us equally and is constantly trying to help us and to guide us. We are all unique in the eyes of God; He loves each one of us. But we’re not special. We’re not the most important thing in the universe. That, of course, is an obvious statement, but unfortunately we frequently forget it. There is a middle path. We are unique, we are important, but we’re not special.
It is this impersonal point of view that Swamiji wants us to adopt, and it not only applies when he is speaking to us but it applies to our whole lives.