Swami teaches....Part 15
Swami teaches.... (05 March 2005)
A Lesson of Bhakthi Before Shivaraathri
Soon is Shivaraathri Festival. Shivaraathri is the day on which the moon, the presiding deity of the mind, is as near Laya (the power to destroy) as possible and so, just a little extra effort that day leads to full success; the Saadhaka can thereby achieve complete Manonaashana (destruction of the mind). The realisation is that everything is subsumed in the Lingam (the symbol of the formless). Lingam is within everyone in latent form. Activate this formless cosmic symbol within yourself and you can recognize the 'touch' of 'infinite being' in your heart. Shivaraathri is an auspicious time to experience and put in practice what Swami advices.
There is only one path to God that will satisfy the aspirations of the Jeeva Thathwa (essential nature of individual entity). That is the path of Bhakthi (devotion), of dedication of all activity to God and surrendering to His will. This is called the Bhakthi Maarga (path of devotion). Sharanaagathi (total surrender), leaving everything to Lord's will, is the highest form of Bhakthi. When Bhakthi is just emerging as a sapling, a fence is needed to protect the tender plant; that fence is Sanaathana Dharma (eternal religion) and its rules, regulations and restrictions, directions and commands. When the fruit is green, it will not fall even when the gale is furious; but when is fully ripe, it drops to the ground even in the silence of the night.
There are three types of devotion: the Vihanga method, where like a bird swooping down upon the ripe fruit on the tree, the devotee is too impatient and by the very impatience he exhibits, he loses the fruit, which falls from his hold; the Markata method where like a monkey which pulls towards it one fruit after another and by sheer unsteadiness is not able to decide which fruit it wants, the Bhaktha too hesitates and changes his aim much too often and thus loses all chance of success; and the Pipeelika method, where like the ant which slowly but steadily proceeds towards the sweetness, the devotee also moves direct, with undivided attention towards the Lord and wins His grace!
Bhakthi and Shraddha (devotion and faith) are the two oars with which you can take the boat across the sea of Samsaara. Bhakthi and the attitude of surrender that is its final fruits will give you great courage to meet any emergency; such courage is what is called Renunciation. The story of Mohajith is a good example of this highest type of detachment.
Mohajith, the prince, went to a sage in the forest and sought guidance in the spiritual path. The sage asked him whether he had conquered attachment as his name indicated. The prince said that not only he, but every one in his kingdom had! So the sage started to test the truth of this claim.
The sage took the prince's robes, soaked them in blood and hastened to the palace gate with the gruesome story of the murder of the prince by some ruffians in the jungle. The maid whom he met refused to hurry with the news to the royal apartments because she said, "He was born, he died; what is the special urgency of this news that I should interrupt my regular routine and run to the king and queen?"
When at last he got an audience and was able to communicate the sad news to the father, he sat unruffled, whispering to himself, "The bird flew off the tree on which it had alighted to take rest."
The wife of the "dead" prince was also unaffected; she said, "husband and wife are like two pieces of wood drifting down a flooded river; they float near each other for some time and when some current comes between, they are parted. There is no need to grieve over the parting of the two; it is in the very nature of Nature that it should be so."
The sage was overjoyed to see this steady and sincere Vairaagya (dispassion) in the rulers and the ruled. He came back to the forest and told the prince that while he was away, a hostile army had invaded his kingdom and slain the entire royal family and captured his kingdom and enslaved his subjects. He took the news calmly and said, "All this is bubble, impermanent, flimsy. Guide me to reach the Infinite, the Imperishable."
Bhakthi has to be built on conviction, not on blind unreasoning belief. The role of intelligence on this path is essential. Intelligence is a special gift from God; it confers the power of discrimination between right and wrong. Peace or happiness depends on the choice of the right means and this is a matter to be decided by the intelligence. Prosperity also depends on the intelligent exploitation of the resources. Control the mind and regulate the impulses emanating from it by means of a clarified intelligence.
The prescription to scrutinise always the purity of the means, and not worry about the acquisition of the fruit of the activity; and the description of Yoga as the stoppage of all modifications of consciousness - both emphasise the same advice of the Lord. The regulation and restriction of the senses purify the intellect, which then can boldly and quickly investigate into the real nature of the subject-object relationship, the I-other relationship, and discovering that all is I (the one), attains peace, Prashaanthi (unruffled peace). Such are primary requisites for a happy life.
The real harvest of Aanandha (Bliss; blissful nature; Perpetual state of supreme bliss - that is Aanandha, i. e. Ananda) for which the spiritual operations of rites and Manthras (sacred formulae) were gone through has been neglected, while the weeds of calumny, cynicism and conflict have grown wild over the fields. The evil influence of Kaama (lust) is at the bottom of this tragedy. A single seed of Kaama (desire) if it gets stuck in the soil of the heart, is very difficult to dislodge. Without a hold attachment to God and Prema (love for all beings, prompting sacrifice of joys and comfort for others) Kaama will upset your faith in standards of morality and righteousness. It will place before you all sorts of specious arguments to overcome the pangs of conscience and enslave reason and sense of duty.
The Geetha laid down that even the Vedhas have to be transcended. It speaks that human must seek to become Aathmavaan (the possessor of soul) and the Aathmic (spiritual) strength. The Geetha asks you to be, not Balavaan (possessor of physical prowess), not Dhanavaan (possessor of a comfortable bank balance) but, Aathmavaan (having the prowess arising out of the awareness that you are the Aathman, which can remain unaffected by all the buffetings of the dualities of the world).
Geetha lays down the path of liberation through awareness of Nir-dhwandho (without paying attention to the dual throng of grief-joy, pain-pleasure, etc.), Nithya-sathwastho (ever fixed in the quality of equanimity), Nir-yogakshema (unaffected by considerations of security and welfare), Aathmvaan (established in Aathmic consciousness).
You probably know that Bhagavath Geetha is the essence of the Vedhas (scriptures of eternal truths) and the Shaasthras and the Puraanas. It is like a bottle of fruit-juice obtained from a basket of fruit. Its taste and excellence will persist until the end of this Yuga (Age) and then it will merge in the Vedhas.
Bring 'Bhakthi' and lay it before Swami and take from Swami spiritual strength! The more such business is done, the more Swami is pleased. Bring what you have, namely, your sorrows and griefs, worries and anxieties, and take from Swami joy and peace, courage and confidence.
During the age of this Avathaar (divine incarnation), the wicked will not be destroyed; they will be corrected and reformed and educated and led back to the path from which they have strayed. The white-ant infested tree will not be cut; it will be saved. Again Swami will not select some place other than the place where the nativity took place for the centre of its Leelas, Mahimas and Upadhesha (divine sport, miracle power and divine instruction). This tree shall not be transplanted; it will grow where it first rose from the earth.
Swami has no affinity or attachment in Its career to members of the family wherein it appeared. Unlike the appearances as Raama, Krishna, etc., where the life was played out mostly among and for the family members, Swami is for the Bhakthas, the Saadhus and the Saadhakas (devotees, noble souls and aspirants) only. It has no Japa (recitation or holy name), Dhyaana (meditation) or Yoga (practising union with God). It knows no worship; it will not pray to anything, for It is the Highest. It only teaches you to worship and pray.
Swami's nature is unaffected by His movements and activities. He talks and walks arranges and directs, advises and admonishes, but Swami is away from any attachment. The divine is so distinct and distinguished from the mortal and the bound. Every Swami's gesture, word and activity, however casual it may appear, is motivated to move you towards the fulfilment of your lives, and endow you with the Aanandha (Bliss) that your Aathman (Self reality) is.
Swami advises not to depend upon others for doing your work, like attending to your personal wants. Do them yourself; that is real freedom. Again, never accept anything 'free' from others, pay it back, in service or work.
That will make you self-respecting individuals. Receiving a favour means getting bound to the giver. Grow with self-respect and dignity. That is the best service you can do to yourself.
Get the maximum joy out of this game of living, one should cultivate the attitude of the onlooker, even when one has to get embroiled in the game.
When you pay undue attention to differences of Maya Reality, spasms of hatred, anger, malice and envy overwhelm you. Anger rushes blood to the brain; the temperature rises; the composition of the blood changes; toxins enter into it in such quantities that it injures the nerves, and make you old before your time.
Desire to which you are too fondly attached breeds anger and its nefarious brood. Discard it and you can have perpetual youth! The Aanandha that the Aathman can manifest will keep age and ageing away.
Do not grieve that the Lord is testing you in different ways and putting you to the ordeal of undergoing them. For, it is only when you are tested that you can assure yourself of success or become aware of your limitations. You can then concentrate on the subjects in which you are deficient and pay more intensive attention, so that you can pass in them too, when you are tested again. You should not study for the examination at the last moment; study well in advance and be ready with the needed knowledge and the courage and confidence born out of that knowledge and skill.
Tests are like a mirrors reflecting your own conscience, state of enlightenment and awareness.
A great painter once came to a Prince and offered to do a fresco on the palace wall; behind him came another, who declared that he would paint on the wall opposite, whatever painting the first one drew, even if a curtain hid it from view and even if he was not told the subject of the fresco! Both were commissioned to the tasks they had accepted. The second man finished his work at the very moment, the first one announced that he had completed the task! The Prince arrived in the hall, where a thick curtain partitioned off the two artists and their paintings. He saw the fresco and admired it very much. Then he ordered that the curtain be removed, and lo, on the wall facing the fresco, there was an exact duplicate of the picture that the first man had so laboriously painted! Exact - because, what he had done was, polishing the wall and making it a fine big mirror! Make your hearts too clean and pure and smooth, so that the glory of the Lord might be reflected therein, so that the Lord might see His own Image thereon.
(Reet's compilation from, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, The Divine Discourse, "The Prescription," Mogha, Punjab, 17 March 1973. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, The Divine Discourse, "This and That," Prashanthi Nilayam, 22 Feb 1971. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Sparks from Divine Discourses during Shivaratri, "Bend before Prema and Sathya," March 1963. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, The Divine Discourse, "Sharanaagathi," Prashanthi Nilayam, 1955).
Swami teaches.... (06 March 2005)
Impress on Your Consciousness the Highest Wisdom
The Vedhaantha persuades you to investigate the function of the senses and of the mind which is activated by its capacity to reflect the Aathman within. All the inner instruments of knowledge and the inner witness are promoters of the highest wisdom, though they are misused, in ignorance, to confound and ruin human's progress. Those who are aware of their being only the indestructible Aathman, encased in temporary sheaths, in a ramshackle dwelling house bearing a name and presenting a form, they are unaffected by anything that happens to the sheath or house.
It took Arjuna a long time to realise this. In fact, it was only after the ascension of Lord Krishna that it was brought home to him, in a dramatic form. Krishna, while rolling up the curtain of the Avathaar drama, had asked him to take the women, children and some old men of the Yaadhava clan orphaned by his departure, to the safety of Hasthinaapura, away from Dhwaaraka which had been swallowed by the sea.
Arjuna led the disconsolate community through lands infested by wild tribes, confident that the bow which had won him the Kurukshethra battle against the array of gigantic heroes will ensure safety and success. But, when some barbarian hordes fell upon the Yaadhava remnants, Arjuna sought to string his bow and fix an arrow upon it - in vain! He could not recall the formula which could send the arrow on it mortal mission! He had to witness the debacle, the kidnapping of the women whom he had vowed to guard! When Krishna had finished His mission, he too had ended his mission; there was no more breath in him too. Krishna was his life, his might, his archery, his mastery, his heroism, his all. That truth was made patent to Arjuna by the shame of defeat, not by the paean of victory!
Each Saadhaka has a different story to tell about his/her spiritual experiences, depending upon own equipment and enthusiasm. Saadhana has to be done after attaining a good character; that is very important.
There are some who come and earn peace and joy, but after years of sharing and serving, they fall a prey to waywardness and fall back into the old morass, declining to such an extent that they deny their very experience and play false to their own conscience! Not that Swami is anxious that they should worship Swami or adhere to Swami; far from it. Swami asks that truth must be proclaimed, regardless of the company; there must be courage of conviction, which will help you to overcome the temptation to deny your cherished joys.
There are some others who are swept off their feet by hysterical demonstrations by certain weak-minded individuals, which are described as Swami speaking through them or acting through them! Take it from Swami, who is not given to such absurdities! Swami does not use others as media. Swami does not swing from side to side and prattle!
Swami's grace is ever with you; it is not something that is given or taken; it is given always and accepted by the consciousness that is aware of its significance. Win the grace of your own subconscious, so that it may accept the grace of God which is ever available.
God does not deny any one; it is only you, who deny God. When the gift if proffered, you have to do only one little act, so that you may earn it - you have to extend your hand to receive it. That is the grace or the subconscious; win it, by teaching it the value of the grace of God.
Swami's grace is showered wherever you are through infinite love, without even calculating or measuring the readiness of your subconscious to receive it and benefit by it. The grace itself will confer on you the faith and the strength, the wisdom and the joy. Swami is in your heart all the time, whether you know it or not.
You attach importance to quantity; but, the Lord considers only quality. He does not calculate how many measures of "sweet rice" you offered, but, how many sweet words you uttered, how much sweetness you added in your thoughts. Offer Him the fragrant leaf of Bhakthi, the flowers of your emotions and impulses, freed from the pests of lust, anger, etc.; give him fruits grown in the orchard of your mind, sour or sweet, juicy or dry, bitter or sugary.
All who aspire to be Bhakthas must eschew Raaga and Dhwesha (attachment and aversion). You need not be proud when you are able to sing better or if your Puuja room is better decorated. There must be a steady improvement in your habits and attitudes.
Without an intellectual grasp of the fundamentals of the divine principle, all vows, fasts and vigils are imitative, routine, mechanical activities that involve waste of time and energy. It is best that you impress upon yourself the need for this basic step on this Mahaashivaraathri, for this Raathri (night) is the night that has to usher in the dawn of realisation.
This is a sacred day, according to the traditions of this land; it has been revered and celebrated since numberless centuries. But, at the present time, people are content to listen to the praise of the day and repeating what they have heard, to others, in parrot chatter. What really matters, however, is the experience of the bliss that it is designed to confer.
On this Mahaashivaraathri, acknowledge that nature is alive, since God is life; that nature appears everlasting, since God is eternal; nature is but a reflection of God. Without the motivator, nature is helpless and powerless. Appearance is but a reflection of reality; Ishwara is but a reflection of Brahman. Shivaraathri inspires us to learn this basic truth and shape our lives in the light of that illumination.
Bhajan is one of the processes by which you can train the mind to expand into eternal values. Teach the mind to revel in the glory and majesty of God; wean it away from petty horizons of pleasure. Bhajan induces in you a desire for experiencing the truth, to glimpse the beauty that is God, to taste the bliss that is the Self. It encourages to dive into himself and be genuinely the real Self.
Bhajan which is part of Nagarasankeerthan gladdens the singer and showers joy to those who listen; it cleanses and purifies the atmosphere by its vital vibrations. It inspires and instructs; it calls and comforts.
A little child sits with a book of the Upanishadhs on its lap and turns over the pages, intent on the printed lines and watching the curious types, deliberately, slowly and with great care; a Saadhu (monk) too does the same. Can you equate the two and say they are both engaged in the same act? The child is unaware of the treasure he holds in hand; the Saadhu gets into immediate contact with the spiritual power the lines convey.
Children can learn the alphabet only with the help of boards, slates, pencils and pieces of chalk. Saadhakas (spiritual aspirants), going through the primers of spirituality, need symbols, images and rituals. You cannot discard name and form until you transmute yourself into the nameless and formless. That is the reason why the nameless and formless has often to assume name and form, and come before humanity with limitations imposed by its own will, so that it may be loved, respected, worshipped, listened to and followed.
You can worship even Prakrithi (nature); there is no harm, provided you realise that the Lord is immanent in it, giving it name and form and value; that the cloth is just yarn, the pot is just mud, the jewel is just gold. Why, you can worship your parents and realise the Lord through that Saadhana. They are your creators and guides and teachers and protectors and by idealising them, you can grasp the truth of the Lord, the primeval parent.
Even if you are not able to conceive the idea of a Lord or a God, you must be able to know what love is by experience. You have experienced the love of your parents, of a friend, of a partner or of a brother or sister, or towards your own children. That love is itself a spark of God, who is all the love in all the worlds at all times.
Expand your hearts; enlarge your vision; enlarge the circle of kinship; take more and more of your fellow beings into the tabernacle of your hearts. And, adore them in loving worship. Wisdom is only compassion at its highest; for, through sympathy you enter the heart of another and understand him through and through, you go behind the veil of pretence and punditry, convention and custom; you go behind good manners and fashions that people put on, to hide their agony and ignorance from the rest of the world. Finding the unity in this diversity of roles is true wisdom.
So you should keep your Viveka (wisdom) intact and discriminate between the destructive and constructive impulses. Do not listen to destructive criticisms and cynicisms, which are the poisons eating into the vitals of spiritual life today. Bear witness to the truth of your own experience; do not be false to yourself, or to Swami. Sathya Sai means, "He who reclines on truth."
When you cannot reach down to your own basic reality, why waste time in exploring the essence of Godhead and other persons? As a matter of fact, you can understand Swami only when you have understood yourself, your own basic truth.
Even those who deny God today will have one day to tread the pilgrim road, melting their hearts out in tears of travail. If you make the slightest effort to progress along the path of liberation, the Lord will help you a hundred-fold. Shivaraathri conveys that hope to you. Spend all the days with Shiva and the conquest of the mind is easy. Spend the fourteenth day of the waning moon with Shiva, reaching the climax of spiritual effort on that final day, and success is yours. That is why all the Chaturdasis (fourteenth days of the dark half of every month) are called Shivaraathris (Shiva's nights); that is why the Chaturdasi of the Magha month is called Mahaa Shivaraathri. This is a day of special dedication to Shiva.
(Reet's compilation from, Sathya Sai Baba. The Divine Discourse, "Spend your Days with Shiva." Prashanthi Nilayam, 4 March 1962. Sathya Sai Baba. The Divine Discourse, "Griha or Guha." Prashanthi Nilayam, 8 February 1963 . Sathya Sai Baba. The Divine Discourse, "Love, the Sine Qua Non." Prashanthi Nilayam, 23 February 1971. Sathya Sai Baba. The Divine Discourse, "Lifelong Bhajan." Prashanthi Nilayam, 24 February 1971).