October 9th, 2005
“Follow The Master"
With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,
THE MASTER CHOOSES YOU
First of all, I apologise to you. As you know, this morning’s session was delayed for reasons beyond my control. Since I thought that a few of you would still be coming, I didn’t cancel the talk. So, I am glad to meet with this small group.
I was thinking about what to speak on this morning. ‘Follow the Master’ seems to be quite appropriate for the title. All scriptures say that one should follow the Master. Today we have Masters everywhere. We are not short of Masters, but the testing times in which we live make it difficult to find a true Master.
How can we identify a Master? Who is a Master? Where is he? Why do I need him? What harm is there if I don't go to a Master? If it is my misfortune that I can’t have a Master, what then? These are the questions before us. I shall try to cover the topic to the extent possible within the stipulated time.
My friends, let me make it very clear that the first point to be borne in mind is that a Master chooses you. You don't choose your Master. We usually declare, “He is my Master. I went to him and was initiated.” This is totally wrong. Why? Because when I say “I have chosen my Master,” it is nothing but an egoistic statement.
How do you know the greatness of your Master? Or first, how do you know that he is a Master? How can you verify his credentials, capacity and achievements? Therefore, my friends, it is wrong to say that one has chosen his Master. Instead, the Master chooses you.
YEARNING FOR GOD WILL BRING THE MASTER TO YOU
The second point which I want to make clear is this: The very yearning or pining for God, the deep inner interest and innate desire to experience Him, will draw the Master closer to you.
So, the fundamental requirement is to have total devotion in the quest to know God. Then the guru (spiritual teacher) comes closer to you.
EXPERIENCE THE MASTER WITHIN
So the first statement is that the Master chooses you. The second statement is that your interest and your love for your chosen deity will draw the Master towards you. The third statement, which I am sure you will like, is this: The outer guru will ensure that you experience Him within you. That’s the purpose of the Divine Master. The Divine Master expects you to establish a holy communion with Him, within you. No Master will ever say that He can only be found and experienced in the outside world.
It is necessary to experience the Master within ourselves. That is the command, the expectation, and the goal given to us by the Master Himself. It is revealed when people rush forward trying to touch Baba’s feet. What does He say? Baba always says, “Do namaskar (obeisance to God) within you. Pay respect within yourself; it will reach Me.” Therefore, my friends, the directive that we should see the outer guru within us is very, very clear. That is the third point.
THE DIVINE MASTER WANTS YOU TO BE INDEPENDENT
The fourth point: A Divine Master wants you to be independent and self-reliant. A Divine Master will never dictate or command. Bhagavan Baba is a Divine Master who gives everybody independence.
Those who want to experience Him can choose the path of action, karma yoga, such as duty either in the canteen, hospital, stores, as a seva dal (volunteer helper), and so on. You can embrace the theory of action, ‘Karma yoga’, which is selfless action based on the foundation of eternal and pure love. That is one path.
The second path is the path of devotion called ‘Bhakthi yoga’ (devotional worship). You can choose to participate in a spiritual activity such as Namasmarana (repeating His Name, singing His glory). You can go to the Ganesha, Subramaniam, or Gayathri temples. You also find people repeatedly writing His Name, likhita japa: likhita (written), japa (repetition of the Master’s Name).
The doors of wisdom are also always open to you. You can meditate and contemplate, taking the path of enquiry. You can know and experience the all-pervading Self which manifests in the form of the whole creation. This is the acquisition of wisdom, ‘Jnana yoga’, the third path.
You are free. Swami does not say, “This is the path to follow. This is the path prescribed and stipulated by Me.” There is no hard and fast rule which you have to follow. No! You are given total freedom. You can choose your own form of deity. Some people repeat Shiva’s name, Rudram; some people use the name of Vishnu, ‘Vishnu Sahasra Nama’. There are 1000 names for Lord Vishnu. Others might repeat the name of the goddess ‘Lalita Sahasra Nama’. Therefore, my dear friends, a Divine Master gives you complete freedom. He will never make you a slave.
“I WANT YOU TO EXPERIENCE ME EVERYWHERE”
The next point is this: The Divine Master will be with you wherever you go. You experience Him as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. In this context, I will give you an example from the biography of the previous incarnation, Shirdi Sai.
This happened in Shirdi. Baba suddenly asked one fellow to leave. “Go; don't show your face to Me for a year!” Shirdi Baba was very harsh and uncharitably cruel towards him. Well, this man had no other option but to leave because Shirdi Baba didn’t hesitate to manhandle or even slap people. He was known for that.
No one dared stand up to Him because of His towering personality and ferocious mien when upset. But the motive behind all His anger and temper was only to correct and teach. It was, I should say, an anger of love. Anger and love may not go together in the worldly sense. But spiritually, Shirdi Baba’s anger was a loving anger. It was an anger born out of love.
So Baba asked this fellow to get out. With no other option, he left Shirdi and went home. During that year, he meditated and contemplated. He read Shirdi’s biography and chanted His Name. Three hundred and sixty four days passed with one more day left. He was counting the hours because he wanted to take the earliest conveyance to go back to Shirdi. At that moment in time, he was sitting in the garden shedding tears. “Oh, my Master, you are a Man of compassion. You are the embodiment of kindness. Why did you drive me out of Shirdi? Oh Lord, what crime or sin have I committed?” He was crying because distance lends enchantment, while familiarity breeds contempt.
When we are away from the physical presence of Baba, we think of Him more and more. Therefore, this gentleman was crying. He closed his eyes. Suddenly he felt the gentle touch of a hand on his shoulder. Immediately he opened his eyes and turned around. To his utter dismay and total surprise, he saw Shirdi Bhagavan standing behind him.
Then Shirdi Baba started teaching him with these words, “My son, I kicked you out of Shirdi. It is true that I drove you out of Shirdi. It is true that I was harsh and rude to you. But do you know why? Although you spent years and years in my company, you still had the feeling that I was only in Shirdi. You were thinking of the physical frame, ‘Shirdi Baba’. You saw the physical body and limited Me to My name, and to space and time. I wanted you to see Me everywhere and not think that Shirdi is the only place to experience Me. Do not think that Shirdi Baba is a personality, a person, or an object with eyes and weight and complexion standing in front of you. Certainly not! More than anything, I wanted you to see Me everywhere. Therefore, rudely, crudely, forcibly, I took you by the neck and threw you out of Shirdi. Now you see Me here, My dear son.”
Therefore, my friends, the job of the Divine Master is to elevate the level of the disciple, to take him to Divine heights so as to experience the Divine Master wherever he goes and whenever he prays to Him. This should be our goal. This should be our aim. This should be our objective – to feel Baba everywhere.
SIGNS OF DIVINE PRESENCE
Just two days ago, a close friend of mine, the warden of Brindavan Campus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Mr. Narsimha Murthy, told me this: “There is a place in the State of Karnataka called Tumkur where they conduct yagna (symbolic sacrifice) on a large scale. They have very large pictures of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on the dais. As the yagna was reaching the end of arathi (concluding rite of worship offering a camphor flame) everybody noticed amritha (sacred nectar) flowing out of Baba’s pictures. The entire town was gathered there and this miracle surprised everybody.”
Kum-kum (sacred powder), turmeric, vibhuthi (sacred ash), or nectar appearing on a photo are all signs of the Divine presence. We should understand it from that viewpoint only; not the viewpoint that “Vibhuthi appears on the picture at my house, therefore I am the best of devotees.” “I should be given a Ph.D. in devotion” is the claim of the best of fools! (Laughter)
And if he advertises to everybody, “At my house, tomorrow morning, you will see vibhuthi coming out of the altar picture during bhajans (devotional group singing),” then that is a stupid person talking. Bhagavan’s manifestations or His miracles are not for advertising and self-publicity. They are not for egotistical announcements. They are not signs of your devotion.
Suppose I say this, “Sir, I attended bhajans at your house and I noticed vibhuthi coming out of Baba’s picture.”
You may reply, “The vibhuthi that came out of the picture is because of Baba’s presence. It is in part a response to the needs and prayers of those singing bhajans.” What other answer can you give?
In a group or in a congregation, we are amidst vibrations. Each one who attends bhajans will have his own yearning; each one will have his own depth of prayer and profundity of spirit. God responds and the master of the house cannot claim it or blame it.
But when all is said and done, be that as it may, the Divine Master establishes communion with his disciples or devotees wherever they are or whenever they think of Him. That is a sign of the Divine Master.
A SIGN THAT YOU NEED TO IMPROVE
The next point for our talk is this: We have not spiritually improved if we expect the Master to speak to us. Do not misunderstand me. Don’t think that I am jealous of those people with whom Swami speaks. I do not know how many weaknesses I have -- but I am sure that I don’t have two weaknesses at least -- ego and jealousy. That is, so far! (Laughter) But let me be cautious and say ‘up to now’, because tomorrow if I am egocentric, you have my permission to grab me by the neck.
So, to expect the Divine Master to always speak to you is a sign that you still need to improve and grow in the spiritual sense. Why should I say that? My friends, the Divine Master has His own way of establishing contact with you. He speaks to you within as the Divine voice or conscience. The prompting from within is the method of communion that the Divine Master establishes with you.
ESTABLISH INNER CONTACT WITH THE DIVINE MASTER
Once we establish inner contact, we will never be frustrated or disappointed. We will never be jealous or prone to vanity and publicity. We will never resort to such cheap things if we establish inner contact with the Divine Master. And the Master wants you to grow to that level. The Divine Master will be happy if we establish inner contact or inner communion with Him.
I am very cautious in the usage of this word ‘communion’ because the outer Master communicates. Communication is different from communion. Communication is outer, external, verbal, physical and time-bound. For instance, if you want a Master to speak to you, one Master may choose to speak in the morning, another in the evening. They literally talk to you, and the oral or verbal teaching is time-bound. But when the Divine Master talks to you from within, that is Divine romance. It is the Divine whisper, the conscience or inner voice. It is specially designed for you, being the help or guidance you need at that moment of time.
For example, shall I go there and join or not? Shall I accept this assignment or not? Shall I accept this alliance or not? Shall I accept this promotion or not? Very often we are at such crossroads. So whenever I am in that situation, not knowing what to do, then I pray for the Divine Master to speak from within, the inner voice. He will talk and give the guidance that is needed at that point of time.
THE DIVINE MASTER PROMPTED US FROM WITHIN TO BE HERE
I am quite certain that you and I are not here because we wanted to be here. Some of us are here, in spite of ourselves! Perhaps our situation was that we could not get leave from work because our presence there was necessary. Some of us did not have enough money to come. Others couldn’t get travel reservations. Family, social, political, official responsibilities, etc., required attention. In spite of all this – caring for the aged mother, urgent files to be looked into, financial transactions to be settled, purchases to be made, obligations to the housewife and children -- we found ourselves here!
Don’t think that I am mad; but how is it that we find ourselves here? My experience is that most of us are here despite ourselves. But why? Under ordinary circumstances, we would not be here; left to our options, we would have stayed back. But what brought us here? The Divine Master! The Divine Master prompted us from within to be here.
The Divine Master never allowed us any rest, nor gave us any choice. He said, “Come on!”
“Oh Master, I have no reservation.”
“Keep quiet!” (Laughter)
“Oh Master, I have so many responsibilities.”
The Divine Master says to you, “I will take care of them much better than you.”
That is true with everybody here, gentlemen. Any miracle ‘marriage’ is possible as you can see when the Divine Master brings you here to be with Him. If any speaker thinks that it is his exclusive experience, I pity him. It is not the exclusive experience of anybody. It is all inclusive and never exclusive. ‘Exclusive’ is the mode of the world; ‘inclusive’ is the rule of the spirit. Therefore, when a speaker narrates his experience in front of Bhagavan, it is just as true for every devotee, the world over. It is yet another example which references the millions and billions of such miracles that happened, are happening, and will continue to happen. That’s how I think.
Therefore, my friends, the Divine Master will establish a contact in the form of an inner voice and direct you whenever you want, whenever you pray to Him.
“YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN ME, BUT YOUR SWAMI HAS NOT FORGOTTEN YOU”
You can see the outer Master Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba now; but when you go back, it’s not possible to see Him. Nevertheless, you will feel that you don’t need Him because the wallet is full, you are comfortable, and all the children are healthy. It is a case of “Let me think of You when something goes wrong with me, such as an electrocardiograph, ECG, showing an anomaly.” Then my ECG becomes a telegram to Baba for His intervention.
But do not wait for an ECG to think of Him. No, no, no. My friends, He is just behind you. He will be waiting for your call and He will be looking at you. “My son has forgotten Me. I did so much for him and now he has no time to think of Me.”
The Lord is just behind you. How do you know? There are many instances such as when Baba spoke to devotees who had not visited this place for a long time. They had been absent for a long period, not bothering to come, and then suddenly made a surprise visit. Or to be more correct, Baba brought them here in spite of themselves. I have witnessed such situations. As a shepherd knows of the missing goat or the missing sheep, in a similar way Baba comes close to the person and says, “You have forgotten me, but your Swami has not forgotten you.” Your Swami has not forgotten you, but you have forgotten Him. That is the Divine Master.
I want to emphasise this: When you are in the grip of the Divine Master, He will never drop you. You can never free yourself from His grip because it is so tight. You might think that you will just avoid Him. But He will never avoid you; He will chase you! He will haunt you.
You may say, “Swami, I don’t want You.”
He will say, “I want you.”
You may say, “I am fine, Swami. I will think of you later.”
But He will tell you, “No, I am thinking of you constantly.”
THE DIVINE MASTER FOLLOWS YOU LIFE-AFTER-LIFE
The Divine Master follows you life-after-life. It is a funny thing: life-after-life. It is not like present day contracts. We have call centres, software engineers, film actors, all working on a contract basis. But the relationship between a devotee and God is not based on a contract. It is not contractual; it is not official. It is not procedural or time-bound. No. It is eternal from birth to death, and for the next lives following.
One Divine Master said, “I will follow you for several lives to come until you fall in line with My thought, realising that I want you to attain liberation. Until you have total identification with Me, I shall not leave you. I shall follow you.”
That is the Divine Master. Sometimes we may be afraid of the situation. Sometimes we literally are shaken when Baba says, “I will not leave you.”
“If you are not going to leave me, how can I breathe?”
FROM THE PLACE OF FAITH TO THE CENTRE OF TRUST
My friends, the function of the Divine Master is altogether on a different plane, which is sometimes quite new to us. The Master who is external to you, at the most, can create faith in you. Then you can say, “I have faith in God. I have faith in my Master.”
But the Divine Master within you takes you from the position of faith through to the centre of trust. The outer Master instils faith in you, while the inner Divine Master takes you to the point of trust.
What is faith? What is trust? Faith may be shaken; trust is unshakeable. You may have faith today when all things are in your favour. You may be unfaithful, ungrateful, or lose faith totally, when things are not favourable, or are not what you choose. But trust is unshakeable. It cannot go, or be dropped, because trust is non-dual. Faith has two polarities: you can be faithful and faithless. It is paradoxical and diabolical. But trust is not dual. Trust is permanent. Therefore, the inner Master takes you from the place of faith to the centre of trust.
With the outer Master, the guru, you develop a sort of adoration, a sort of worship, a sort of respect. “I respect him. I worship him. I adore him. The outer Master teaches me many things. I am logical, scientific, technological and rational.” The outer Master will allow you to be rational; the outer Master will allow you to be logical. But the inner Master will take you from logic to love because life is beyond rationality and logic.
Life is, for that matter, illogical and irrational. “Bhagavan, why do You talk to him soon after he arrives? Why do You ignore me though I have been here for a long time?”
What explanation is there? Can you claim it in terms of logic? No. It is only the lens of love that can explain such situations: His love for His devotee and the devotee’s depth of love for his dear God -- a Divine romance. A romance of love for the beloved, the fiancé, is best known to the partner. Similarly, the depth of love is best known to our most beloved Bhagavan only, and not to the individual self. Thus the Divine Master takes you to the level of love, not logic.
THE DIVINE MASTER’S PRESENCE IS HIS MESSAGE
The Divine Master has His own methods of conveying His message. The outer Master can convey his message by only speaking to you. But the very presence of the Master is His message; He does not have to speak. He does not have to communicate. He does not have to talk to you. For instance, consider the Divine Master’s gesture.
Somebody asked me, “Sir, Swami waves His hands in the empty air. What does it mean?”
I said, “It may not mean anything to you; the meaning is conveyed to the person for whom it is meant. It may not have any meaning for the rest of the people.”
Therefore, to repeat once again, the Divine Master communicates His message by His presence, gestures or movements, and not necessarily by words.
THE DIVINE MASTER EXPECTS TRANSFORMATION
You know about these things of which I speak, but there’s a lot of happiness in thinking about them again. Our faith is thus affirmed, re-affirmed and confirmed. This is the method of the Divine Master.
The outer Master will pass on information. The Divine Master does not care if you are informed and knowledgeable. Bhagavan, of His poems, says “You don’t follow the meaning in Telugu (Baba’s native tongue), so I won’t repeat it.” The meaning is this: You may be a great scholar; you might have gone through all the Vedas (Hindu scriptures) and various branches of Vedas, but when there is no purity in your heart, all that knowledge is useless. So He wants purity, as He said yesterday. Purity leads to unity and takes you to Divinity. So Swami is mindful of purity, and not the knowledge. We can say that purity is transformation.
So, the outer Master communicates information, but the Divine Master expects transformation. The Divine Master, though not physically standing in front of you, will have you know that He is verily your own conscience. Your own conscience is the Divine Master. That’s why Baba says, “Do not follow the body, because the body is like a water bubble. Do not follow the mind, because the mind is a mad monkey. Follow your conscience, because your conscience is your true Master.”
Therefore, my friends, this is the first talk on the subject ‘Follow the Master’. We will have the second talk on the same subject next week, same day, and same time. Thank you very much for your patience.
Anil Kumar ended his talk by singing the bhajan, ‘Namasthe Namasthe Guru Maharaj’.