A Special Talk Given by Prof. Anil Kumar
in Milwaukee, USA
“I to We to He”
March 29, 2009
With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,
Thank you for your fine words of introduction. I am happy to be amongst you on this pleasant afternoon. We heard in the introductory statement how the theme for the panel discussion had originally been “I to We” but after much thought, it was changed to “We to He”. I was very happy to hear that, since to progress from “We” to “He” is the purpose or goal of spiritual life.
Let us first ask: why should there be an “I to We”? Then once we have that answer, we can understand why “We to He” is the next natural step on our spiritual journey.
BEING ALONE IS NOT BEING LONELY
My friends, we cannot live in isolation. We cannot lead our lives all alone. God has created us as a community so that we will live in perfect harmony and love. You can observe those who are leading lives alone. They feel very neglected and isolated, as if they are rejected and denied by the community. It is really a desperate and frustrating situation to feel lonely. We are not born to be this way.
We should not feel lonely at any time. Even if we are alone, we need not be lonely. I am not an English professor, but I am aware that the words “I am alone” do not necessarily mean “I am lonely.” Why?
I can say “I am alone”, but I am not lonely if I am in constant interaction and meditation with my Lord. How can I say “I am lonely” if I am thinking of God, the scriptures and my spiritual experiences in life?
So the word “lonely” means that something is wrong, something is inharmonious in the way I lead my life. For instance, no one will want to talk to me if I continually quarrel with others; then I will be lonely. No one will want to visit me if I am not friendly; then I will be lonely.
“WE TO HE” IS THE MERGER OF THE INDIVIDUAL INTO THE UNIVERSAL
Meditation is a process which will never allow you to be lonely. Loneliness is an imposition, something horrible and terrible. Alone-ness is meditative, contemplative and spiritual.
“We to He” is a meditative process. It is a process of contemplation. “We to He” is the merger of the individual into the universal .The rivers are separate, but they merge into the mighty ocean. As the rivers merge into the mighty ocean, they lose their individual form, taste, and colour, becoming one with the ocean.
Every one of us here is a river. We, who are the river, merge into Him; that is what is meant by “We to Him”. All roads lead to Rome. All rivers merge into the ocean. It is a long and tedious process, but yet it is an effortless effort.
My friends, we need to put in effort in every walk of our life. To be first in the class, you must make an effort; to be a good businessman, you must apply some effort; to have a good and successful political career, you must also put forth effort. However, in spirituality, you don’t have to make any effort.
THE EFFORTS OF THE MIND, BODY AND INTELLECT CANNOT TAKE YOU TO GOD
What is meant by “effortless effort”? To be effortless, is the only effort that we are supposed to do!
Somebody asked Ramana Maharshi, “Swami, what shall we do for liberation, to attain the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Ramana Maharshi said, “My answer is: “Don’t do! Not doing is the doing!”
That may seem funny, or paradoxical, or it may appear ironic. But it is not a figure of speech! Whatever you do is prompted by thought. Thought arises out of the mind, and. then the mind (out of which thought has arisen) translates the thought into action. How can this take you to God?
God is beyond the mind, beyond the body, beyond the intellect. How can you expect the body to take you to God? How can you expect the mind to take you to God? How can you expect the intellect to take you to God? Therefore, effortlessness is the effort to be done. That’s why it is said that “relaxation is religion.”
It may sound funny when I say that some people are full of tension, even in a religious temple. You can see the stress in their long faces because they think seriousness is religion. No, no, no! Seriousness is sickness, not religion. God is bliss! Bliss is God! God is not seriousness.
We have enough seriousness in the world, at home and in the office. Since we have enough things to bother us and make our life burdensome, why should we make spirituality an extra burden? Why?
So to be delightful, to be beautiful, joyful, and blissful is religion. To achieve that, what should we do? Relax! Don’t think of yesterday, and don’t think of tomorrow. Live in the present, live in the moment, and relax.
Relaxation is the key for the journey from “We to He.” A breeze is totally relaxed; the sunlight is relaxed; the snow falling from morning to evening is totally relaxed. It cares not if you are shivering; it is relaxed. In summary, all of Nature is relaxed, but not us. So why are we not relaxed? It is because of the mind, which goes on managing and planning in such manipulative, conniving, cunning and political ways.
So, my friends, the art of relaxation is the art of the blissful state, and it is the only path of religion that takes us from “We” to “He.”
I hope this talk will act as an incentive for you to ask questions. However, let me tell you that life is not a question! Life is a quest! Life does not need an explanation; life is an exclamation! Wonderful! Awesome! Grandiose! Gorgeous! Your wife may need an explanation, but not your life. (Laughter)
I have a few more points to share with you, and then you may come forward with all your questions.
The journey from “We to I” is chaos, while the journey from “We to He” gives the feeling of a journey to the cosmos.
We need to be fit enough for the spiritual journey of “We to He.” An astronaut is not simply sent into space and allowed to walk into the ether, just as we walk into a Sai centre. He needs special training, special attire, and a special diet. Space travel is an altogether different kind of lifestyle. He has a lot of preparation to do first.
All of us need to prepare for the spiritual journey at the first level, the physical level. How do we physically prepare for the spiritual journey? Shall I purchase a new suit? No, service is needed for the physical preparation. Service makes you physically prepared for the spiritual journey.
You may wonder, how that is possible? It is possible by joining in with a group to serve others. By doing this, I cultivate a spirit of cooperation through team work, unity, empathy, one pointed-ness, and goal oriented-ness. By serving others, I’m becoming ego-less. That’s the physical preparation needed for our spiritual journey.
The next level is a psychological or mental preparation. If I am not mentally prepared, I cannot go anywhere. I can pack all of my bags, but if am not mentally prepared, I will want to finish the journey as soon as possible. Mental or psychological readiness is also important. What does that mean?
Love is the preparation we make at the psychological level. Everybody knows about love, but it is the word most often misunderstood. People may have an understanding of other words, but yet not know the true meaning of love. That is because the love which we know is so cheap, conditional, and sensual. This transitory, ephemeral love is not love. It is business.
The love towards our families and the love towards our properties is attachment. “I love my colleague.” No, that is not love; it is friendship. “I love my boss.” No, that is not love; it is respect. The love between a man and a woman is not love; it is lust. Business, attachment, friendship, respect, lust: all are different forms of love.
Only with God is the word “love” applicable. In reality, true love is a relationship which exists between the devotee and God. This love is unconditional.
My love towards my boss is conditional. If he does not grant me weekend leave, my love ends there itself. When a husband does not give his wife what she demands, we know that he must face the music! (Laughter) “Oh, I love you provided that . . . “ Or, “I can only say you love me if you. . . “. No, no! This is all conditional love, my friends: love that changes.
God’s love is unconditional. There are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ with unconditional love, for it is Divine love, selfless love, the love that is eternal from the womb to the tomb.
It does not occur in our physical lives. With advancing age, people stop loving us because we are not as attractive as we used to be. At one time, we were all slim and trim, and if we were well-known to the public, we could draw huge crowds. But with age, many people want to avoid us. The degree of attraction is according to our age, our position of authority and our influence in society.
In contrast, Divine love is uniform from the womb to the tomb, from the beginning until the end. It is eternal, immortal and blemish-less. Unconditional selfless love is the preparation at the psychological level in our spiritual journey from “We to He.”
The third preparation is the intellectual preparation. For example: “I am a space engineer and able to handle all engines.” Fine, and very good. “Yes, I can go to the moon.” Fine. But once in space, everything should be prepared and ready for the lunar module to separate from the command module. The next step is the moon landing so that the astronauts can explore the moon’s surface. This is first-hand information from the Kennedy Space Centre at Orlando, where I toured last week. In similar fashion, we must make intellectual preparations for our own spiritual journey.
The point is that intellectual preparation is the third level. Though we have an intellect, what is the intellect and what is the mind? The mind is thought-provoking; the intellect is decision-making. The mind is cunning and selfish, motivated by self-interest or convenience. The intellect is decisive and fully determined. The mind takes you towards the world, while the intellect takes you towards God. The mind is dual, whereas the intellect is non-dual. The mind is physical, while the intellect is spiritual.
So, intellectual preparation means that I should be spiritually prepared. I should be determined to undertake the journey from “We to He” by exercising such qualities as discretion and discrimination. We do that by meditation.
THE THREE LEVELS OF PREPARATION IN THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
We know what agricultural farmers do: first of all, they till the land by ploughing. The weeds are then pulled out of the soil. Then they sow the seeds, fertilise, and water. After this preparation, the seedlings and saplings grow to maturity. Then comes the harvest. Ground preparation is the physical preparation. The growing, watering and fertilising of seedlings and saplings is the psychological preparation. Gathering the harvest is the intellectual preparation.
So our physical preparation is by service, our psychological preparation is through love, and our intellectual preparation is through meditation. These are the three stages or levels of preparation in our spiritual journey from “We to He”.
WITNESS THE JOURNEY FROM “WE TO HE”
A drop of water is the physical preparation, a river is the psychological preparation, and merging into the ocean is the intellectual union. This journey is so natural and beautiful.
What should we do? We should watch this happening . . . watch the whole thing. That is called “witnessing”. Witnessing means: I am the eternal witness, watching the merger of the ‘I’ into the infinite, when the individual merges into the universal.
My friends, as we go deeper and deeper into spirituality and philosophy, we become lost in it, forgetting ourselves. Yet still we are satisfied with the outer, external, superficial things of life! “If I get a raise in pay . . . oh, God is great!” But God is not just a pay raise. “If I get a good cup of coffee . . . thank God!”
We thank God for minimal, negligible things; while, in fact, we should take these things to the Divine level rather than reducing the Divine to this level. You can worship a stone, thus taking it to the level of God; but don’t reduce God to the level of the stone. We should not sublimate things, but rather we should amplify them. We should magnify and observe things in totality and in complete intensity. Then we have all the joy.
THREE FLIGHTS TO SPIRITUALITY
Three more words can describe our spiritual preparations: the first is called action or karma yoga. The mental or psychological preparation of love is called bhakthi yoga, the path of devotion. Intellectual preparation, merger with the Divine, is the path of wisdom or jnana yoga.
This spiritual journey is a progression from one stage to another. But why is this so? Well, to go from India to here in Milwaukee, it takes three air flights. The first flight is to Frankfurt, then to Chicago, and then to Milwaukee.
Why these three flights when you can take a direct flight? A direct flight may take you directly there, but are you prepared to stay sitting upright in the plane for twelve to twenty-one hours? If you were to do that, someone would have to go and collect your body! (Laughter) So instead we move from aircraft to aircraft and relax more.
In like fashion, we move along from one spiritual path to another. The path of action, karma yoga, is the tilling and preparation of the land. The path of devotion, bhakthi yoga, is sowing the seeds and watering. Jnana yoga is reaping the harvest.
This means I weed out all of my evil qualities so that my heart is not like a stone. Some people say, “He is stony-hearted,” meaning that he does not respond; nothing will move him. So his mind is non-reactive or non-responsive. Through bhakthi yoga or love, this stone-heart becomes soft as butter. You cannot cultivate a plant in hard stone; therefore, plough the land and make it soft and tender by love, bhakthi yoga, so that you can get the harvest of jnana yoga.
Therefore, the path of action (karma) takes you to bhakthi yoga. Bhakthi yoga takes you to jnana yoga. So, bhakthi yoga takes you to jnana yoga, which leads to moksha or liberation, your final destiny.
INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY SADHANA ARE ESSENTIAL
The Sathya Sai Organisation provides ample opportunity along these three avenues. We have a two-fold path: individual sadhana (spiritual practice or discipline), and community sadhana. One, I work at my own spiritual practice; and two, I learn to work with others doing community work. Both individual sadhana and community sadhana are equally important.
Some people say it is enough to do individual sadhana. “After all, I live by myself; I say my prayers, I read my scriptures, and I help people in my own way. I don’t need the community or to do community work.” How do you know if that’s correct?
Some people say it is enough to do community sadhana. But do you know the objective of community sadhana?
Community sadhana and individual sadhana are both necessary, like having both of our eyes. If you just want one good eye, Sukracharya (the preceptor of the asuras who opposed the gods) is an example. If you can get along without either eye, then blind Dhritharashtra (who disregarded the wise counsel to seek peace in the Kurukshetra War) is an example. So, two eyes are required: both individual sadhana and community sadhana.
We work together and we also work individually. Here are two examples that Baba gives us:
Do you think you can live isolated, for yourself? No. Suppose there is a sudden outbreak of an epidemic like cholera or the plague in a village. Everybody goes for a vaccination. So what will you do? Although you live an individual life, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a vaccination like all the others. Very good. So you are not alone; you are in the community.
Suppose your neighbour’s house is burning. You would go and put the fire out because your home is next in the line of fire. When you care for others, you are taken care of. Life is not independent. Life is interdependent. Life is neither dependant nor independent. Life is interdependent. This is what we call community sadhana and it is absolutely necessary. We also find great joy in such sadhana.
FROM THE KNOWN TO THE UNKNOWN IS THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
Some people think reading books is spirituality; but this is not necessarily so. The computer and television can give the same information, and those electronic devices are not jnanis or saints. Perhaps a person can give you a quote from any scripture. But a Google search can give you a quote, too. So life is not a Google search and life is not TV. Life is an experience and an adventure, because we do not know what is going to happen tomorrow.
We cannot predict the weather this afternoon, so how can we predict the weather tomorrow? Americans know about this uncertainty more than anybody, because they experience different weather conditions quite often. If the weather is so unpredictable, then how can we predict our own life? This unpredictability makes life an adventure.
Travel from the known to the unknown is the spiritual journey. All that is known is the world; all that is unknown is the Divine. All that is known is from the senses; but the unknown is beyond the senses. God is beyond the senses, so He is unknown. The world is known, due to the senses. Therefore, travel from the known to the unknown is the spiritual journey.
Life is seen, but an electric current is not seen. The current which is not seen is unmanifest. Life seen is the electricity manifested in the operation of all things electrical. Life is a journey from manifest to unmanifest. Life is a journey from expression to experience.
My friends, I have so many thoughts like this. But because of time constraints, I will finish this short introduction of karma, bhakti and jnana (action, devotion, and wisdom), the physical, mental, and intellectual preparation which is the quintessence of the spiritual journey from “We to He”.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
THE TECHNIQUE FOR BEING THOUGHT-LESS
Now I call upon you for questions. If you should ask about anything that I don’t know, then perhaps I will not have the time to give the answer! (Laughter) You don’t have to agree with me. You can say “No, you are wrong.” I am fine with that.
Sai Ram. I have a question on the relaxation you mentioned. Relaxation is something that happens when the thought subsides. In one of your lectures, you said that if you take a thought from another thought, then to think about that thought, you need another thought. Can you tell us more about it?
The only thought is to be thought-less. The only thought is to be thought-less, just as in our spiritual journey, the only desire is to be desire-less. The only thought is to go beyond thought to being thought-less. The effort is to be effortless.
Can you mention the technique?
Good. I am happy to be asked the question. The technique is very well explained by Ramana Maharshi in his talks. Please listen to me attentively because this technique has an application in science and technology as well.
I have a thought right now of hot coffee. This thought I am aware of. You have a thought right now about when this session will end. I have a thought about how the ice outside will melt. Knowing this, shows that we are aware of our thoughts.
When thinking a thought, you are aware of it. I am aware of the sequence of thoughts, right? Is there anybody unaware of his own thoughts? Will anybody say, “I don’t know what thoughts I have?” If any of you do, then please consult with Dr Krishna. (Laughter) A psychiatrist will certainly treat you!
So everyone is aware of their thoughts. I know my own thoughts. As a thought arises, watch it as a witness. “This is a thought now.” The next thought? “Pizza!” This is a food thought . . . this is a restaurant thought . . . this is an income tax thought. (Laughter) We know the sequence of thoughts . . . one after another. We plan with our thoughts, going from one thought to another.
Just watch your thoughts. When you watch what happens, the flow of thoughts slows down. If you do not watch, if you keep on thinking, the thought flow will become more and more. If you stand as a witness, the thought flow will be slowed down.
Here’s an example: a child is playing up and being mischievous in public. We cannot make the child behave, especially as in the western countries, it may come across as child abuse. We cannot shout at the child to correct him. We cannot say, “Stop doing that!” It’s 100 % freedom and equal rights for this child.
But there is a way to rectify the situation. Just watch the child when he is playing up. The child will stop the mischief. Just watch. You don’t need to shout. You don’t need to use the cane. Just watch and the child stops.
Similarly, when you are watchful of the thought flow, the thought flow slows down naturally, and it eventually comes to a total halt. The awareness of your thoughts will slow down its intensity, velocity, and momentum or speed, taking you to a thought-less state. However, what we do instead is to associate and identify ourselves with every thought, with the result that the thought receives more energy.
There are thought ions such as electrons, protons and neutrons. Thought is also ionic and energetic. When you focus more on a thought, it becomes more energetic, making it impossible to experience thought-less-ness. That is why when some people are talking, they look aside. What happened? Another thought has come into their mind to disturb them. A person may talk to two people without particularly answering them. Why? He is focusing on both people at once, and so extra thoughts are constantly disturbing him.
In summary, focused thought will make the thought more and more energetic. Witnessing the thought will make it passive. Less energy given to thinking and more to witnessing will slow down the thought process. Thank you for you asking me the technique.
This is about meditation: during meditation I don’t know what point I have reached to become self-realised. Do we have to reach the state of samadhi (super conscious state of complete bliss or peace)? Or is there a point during samadhi where you become liberated? Could you please explain that?
Thank you very much, thank you. Now you know the reason why I love the Milwaukee Centre! (Laughter) It is not because of quantity, but because of quality. Twenty-five devotees of Milwaukee are equal to two hundred and fifty devotees elsewhere! This quality is reflected in the kind of questions you are asking, really great questions! God bless you!
I will use the example of candy which is manufactured from sugar. It can be made into different shapes such as nice dolls, birds, peacocks or dogs, so that children can play with them. Do you do that here? It is the same with chocolate, right? There are forms like a dog, a frog or an elephant. Chocolate or sugar can be made into a Mickey Mouse with beautiful eyes and ears, so entertaining. Now put it in water. After some time, what will happen? It has dissolved.
Then you ask where Mickey Mouse is . . .and what has happened to him? Where are his ears? Where are his eyes? Nothing is there because all has been dissolved in the water. Do you understand?
Therefore, meditation is a state which you cannot report about, neither what it is, nor how it is. When you report, when you measure, when you estimate, you still have a way to go to reach Self-realisation. When there is no expression, it is because ‘you’ do not remain. If you report, “I heard this . . . I saw that . . .” it means there is still a long way to go.
You don’t know what happened in your meditation. “I am not there.” The ‘I’-ness” is gone. So this identity, this ‘I’-ness” is gone. That is the end point of meditation: the ‘I’-ness” is totally gone. It means a thought-less state, an egoless state, a non-identity state with the body and mind. Am I clear? Good questions. Any more please?
WHAT IS TRUE SPIRITUAL GROWTH?
What is true spiritual growth?
A good question! Let us first understand that there is no measurement on the spiritual path for spiritual growth, or for the absence of spiritual growth. I cannot be spiritually ‘grown’. There is no weighing machine to say to what extent I have grown or put on weight. There is no thermometer to say how much my temperature has gone up in order to measure my spiritual growth. Spirituality is not growth; spirituality is awareness.
This is a simple example: suppose I know that I am Anil Kumar. Do you say I have ‘grown’ because of that knowledge? If I don’t know that I am Anil Kumar, then something is wrong with me. If I know that I am Anil Kumar, it is not growth; it is awareness. So, spirituality is not growth. Spirituality is neither strength nor weakness. Spirituality is awareness.
Then how can I find that awareness? By finding the One in everyone. “Life is One, so be alike to everyone.” “There is only one God and He dwells in all the beings.” Eko Vasi Sarva Bhootha-antaraatma. That awareness, that experience, is spiritual growth. The understanding that God is everywhere, that everyone is Divine, that there is nothing second to God, that He is the One-without-a-second, is spiritual growth. But that spiritual growth is not a time process; it is awareness. It may happen in a flash, or it may not even happen for many lives.
WHAT IS MY ROLE?
When Baba says, “Play your part,” what does He mean? How do I know what my part is?
How do I know my role? What is my role? The point is to do to the best of your ability with a spirit of surrender, with no claim of ‘doership’, karthritwa, or ‘enjoyership’ bhava. This karthritwa bhava means “I am neither the doer nor the enjoyer.” So to do anything in a spirit of non-expectant surrender and love is the role we play, in whatever vocation or profession we are in.
I may be in any profession: I may be a clerk, a professor, a peon, or a helper. Whatever my role is, it is up to me to do it selflessly. My role is to work with a spirit of surrender, dedication, and love. My role is to move away from doership and enjoyership. In other words, the role is something like a boat taking you from this shore to another shore. The boat may be a small one, or the boat may be a ship; but whatever it is, the purpose is the same: going from this shore to the other shore. Even though the professions may be different, the purpose is the same: to go to the other shore.
Therefore, the role an ideal devotee, the role of an ideal man of determination, and the role of a man of values, are to be taken as true roles. The other roles relating to a profession are just the bread- winning physical parts of life. Am I clear?
THE QUALITIES OF A REALISED SOUL
You spoke about preparation on three levels—the physical, psychological, and intellectual levels on the spiritual journey. How can a person know if he has gone to those levels? How can he know that he has reached the goal of liberation?
Let’s suppose I say I have a PhD, or that I say I am a Poet Laureate. What is the proof? The taste of the pudding is in the eating of it. Similarly, a man who reaches the goal will not be a lover, but be love himself. A person who has not reached the goal is a lover who loves a few—his own family, his community, and some people in the neighbourhood.
Then again, a man who reaches his goal is not a friend. A man who attains that state is not a friend, but one who has the quality of friendliness. Friendliness is different from being a friend. You can be a friend to a few, but the realised man is friendly towards everyone. He is friendly towards dogs and cats; he can love plants. Therefore, be not a lover, but be love; be not a friend, but be friendliness. Those are the qualities of the man who has equanimity. He has a balanced state of mind and is never ruffled or agitated.
How do you know there is a sunrise? The light is proof of the sunrise. Similarly, a man’s s light, attitude, and temperament are enough evidence of a realised soul. Am I clear?
If a person is physically and mentally prepared, but spiritually he is not prepared, can he still go on with the spiritual journey?
A very good question! Out of three stages, he has successfully completed two. Can he still go on the journey without doing the third stage of preparation?
It can be answered by observing the mango fruit as it ripens. The tender fruit is the path of action, the first stage. Slowly it grows into a bigger fruit. That is the path of devotion, the second stage. It becomes ripe and drops down by itself; you don’t even have to pluck it. That is the third stage. So the completion of the second stage is the fulfilment of the third stage, and it happens on its own, naturally.
When you see a train moving, the first compartment passes and then the second compartment. How about the third? It also moves behind naturally. Just as a fruit drops down on its own, the third stage, the fulfilment of life is happening. It is not doing.
Doing is different from happening: doing is physical, while happening is spiritual. Doing is human, while happening is Divine. The first two are our doing; the third one is happening naturally on its own.
WHO ARE WE IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOD?
If we are a part of Him, then who is He? Swami says we are God. Then who is He?
Here are some sweets made from sugar and other ingredients in a tin. Here is a tin of sugar only. Both tins contain sugar. Likewise, God is in me, and God is there, everywhere.
This is a simple example given by Baba: here is a car tire or a bicycle tire. These tires are pumped with air. The air in the tires is the same as the air all around. The difference is that the air in the tires has a shape, a name, and a form. In contrast, the air all around has no name and no form, and is so vast. Vastness and infinity is God. If you limit it to an individual, it is a soul.
God in an individual is ‘conscience’. God everywhere is ‘consciousness’. So, air all over is ‘consciousness’, while air in the tire is ‘conscience’. We are ‘conscious’ because of Divinity working through our senses. That is why a man is conscious of his dress and appearance. Do you understand? So, Divinity in relation to the senses is ‘conscious’. Divinity in relation to an individual is ‘conscience’. Divinity as the universal reality is ‘consciousness’. The Divine content is the same.
In other words, there is the ocean, wave, and foam. The ocean is water, waves are water, and foam is also water. In its vastness, it is ocean. Over the surface, there are waves, and upon the waves, there is white foam. But basically, it’s all water only. So everything is Divinity at different levels.
Since it’s a good question, I will continue giving examples. I recall what Baba has said: I wear a leather belt around my waist. I wear shoes made of leather. Even though both are of the same material, I don’t have shoes here and a belt there. (Laughter)
Furthermore, I have earrings made of gold, and in India I wear this waist-belt made of gold, as big as possible. Nowadays, they are not as big because people can’t afford them. (Laughter) In the days when girls married at age eight, it was easy to have a small waist-belt. If you are married at the age of twenty-seven, and are large around the waist, several lifetimes may be needed to pay for it! (Laughter)
We have a waist-belt here, some gold earrings, and a gold wedding ring. I cannot wear the wedding ring on my ear and the earring on my finger. Would I do that? What is the difference then? The difference is in the location, in its function, and how it looks in its form. There is a functional difference, a form difference, and a name difference, but basically it’s all the same gold. That is the difference between God and the individual, between consciousness and conscience.
COMPARISON AND COMPETITION
Sai Ram, I have one more question. You said that the reason for misery is comparison and competition. (Prof Anil Kumar interrupts here and says, “You remember what all I said? Good! At least there’s somebody who remembers. Good!) (Laughter) We understand comparison, but competition is everywhere, starting with Puttaparthi. When is competition bad? What kind of attitude should we develop so that competition does not become bad?
One is positive and the other negative: I compete and win a gold medal. That’s fine. It’s healthy competition. I run my business and realise a profit. That’s healthy competition. On the other hand, I write some unfavourable letters about you to the income tax officer, so that you are forced to close your shop. Or I go to my professor and tell him lies about you so that he loses respect for you, thus helping my own success. Both of these are negative.
Working for one’s own progress is positive, while doing that which is detrimental to others is negative. So I mean healthy competition, not unhealthy competition. That’s what I meant by positive and negative. “You killed two fellows, so let me kill four fellows!” It’s not that. (Laughter)
The video photographer has a question. Let us give priority to the video photographer so that the photos come out well! (Laughter) This is healthy competition!
This is a continuation to the same question she asked about competition. Let’s say that I’m always positive. If someone is trying to have a negative effect on me, how can I overcome that?
A negative effect on you? If it’s positive, it’s sympathetic. If the negative effect makes you feel proud, it’s negative. If it makes you proud, reaction towards others is negative. Reaction towards others should make you all the more sympathetic.
Suppose that you deserved the gold medal, but instead I got it. People will feel that boy deserves it; but naturally I feel that it is God’s will that I got it. “Thank God” is positive. “It is good that he didn’t get it. Let me celebrate!” is negative. If I don’t celebrate my gain, but instead celebrate your loss, that’s negative.
I have one more question. This is in relation to the point that she was talking about. If I’m happy, I’m relaxed. If I’m happy, I am in a balanced state of mind because I am happy more than I should be. I think I’m relaxing only when I am happy. So what do I do when I am like that?
I understand thoroughly (Laughter) because I live among such people. That is my job you know. (Laughter) Good boy, very good question, I appreciate it.
To relax when you’re happy, there’s nothing strange about that! Suppose on the first of the month, everyone receives their salary, I’m happy, it’s quite natural. Healthy, quiet, and natural! He doesn’t need any effort, he doesn’t need any meditation, and he doesn’t need any prayer to be happy!
The word ‘relaxation’ applies not in the positive moments of life, not when you are happy, healthy, and wealthy. The word ‘relaxation’ applies in adverse conditions. Even in adverse conditions, yes! I met with failure; I am a failure now. It may be that God wants to teach me a lesson; maybe God wants me to extra careful. Then I can be relaxed.
Suppose the mind is full of tension; suppose that there’s an audit going on in the office, so many auditors are there; or suppose some important tasks are going on in the office and there are many people in the conference halls, and I come home very tired. How can I relax?
Kshama Murthy Sai Baba Prema Murthy Sathya Sai!
Tension will add more to your worry. Suppose you have a hot dish, made with chilli powder or something like that. Do you add some more chilli powder? No! Add some salt so that the hotness is reduced.
So, in tension and worry, what do we do? Sing some Sai bhajans. Go to the Sai centre. Come on, play these bhajans and then you will be relaxed. This is the best way of relaxation. Go to some Sai centre, go to some Sai devotees, do some service activity, or play some cassettes. I know many of you people go to your offices and have a stack of Sai bhajans there. That is relaxation. Thus one can be relaxed even in adverse moments.
Perhaps we can be more spiritual in adverse moments. Have you heard of para-sailing? Para-sailing is something like a parachute where a man will catch hold of it. It will go five hundred feet up in the sky.
Our college boys were practising that para-sailing. A few of them came to me and said, “Sir, why don’t you go up?” (Laughter)
“I didn’t want to because I still want to be down on earth.” (Laughter)
This fellow said, “Sir, you go.” It had become an issue of prestige. (Laughter) I am a coward, but I don’t want to be known as a coward. I may be weak, but I don’t want to be called a weakling!
All right. I was prepared. They tied the rope. It’s a five hundred foot rope and a jeep drives it, and this will go up. It went to two hundred feet. That fellow could understand that I was nervous. He didn’t take me to five hundred feet. Instead he left me there at two hundred and fifty feet. It seems one should stretch their hands free, but I was not doing it—I was holding on! (Laughter)
He could understand that I was nervous. Slowly, slowly I came down. A few lecturers and these boys came and collected me in the same way you would collect a football! (Laughter) I was safe.
The moment I entered the interview room there in Puttaparthi, Baba said, “You are more spiritual there than here.” (Laughter)
It was the question of effect: “Yes, Swami I was thinking of You more there!” (Laughter)
Laws of Karma
Where do the laws of karma fall in our ability to reach the goal in spirituality?
Did you follow that question? Sir, kindly repeat it. (The person repeats the question slowly and clearly.) Good. Really, you don’t have to thank me. I have to congratulate myself for participating in such a centre of awareness, such a centre of spiritual awakening. I congratulate and thank everybody.
A very good question now. Where does karma fall in taking us towards the goal? What is karma? Action. Karma is action. Karma is destiny. Karma is fate. Karma has three words: Fate, destiny, and action. Am I clear?
Now these three dimensions of karma are related to the mind. It is thought that is translated into action. In the end, action bears a result. I put my hand in the fire. My daughter is always telling me to be away from the fire. I want to be near the fire because of the weather. Ever since I reached their home, my place is by the fireplace! (Laughter) Excepting for bare necessities, I am spending most of the time near the fireplace. Of course in Puttaparthi, I am there in the fire, (Laughter) while here in Milwaukee, near the fire. (Laughter)
Therefore, karma, thought, leads to action, which bears a result. As is the thought so is the action. As is the action so is the result. Good sathwic thoughts bring sathwic actions, which bear sathwic results. Good action, good thought. Good action, good result. Thamasic thought, wrong action. Thamasic action or wrong action comes from wrong thought. This brings a thamasic result, a wrong result.
The last point is that it is the thought that is the basis for karma. Until we get out of this thought process, we can never be free from karma. If you have good karma, you have good results, and you have to experience it.
You must have heard of a character by the name of Jada Bharata in the Bhagavatam. Jada means ‘inert’. Bharata was a king. He relinquished his whole kingdom and became a sannyasi (a renunciant) and was not bothered about what was happening outside; therefore he was called jada, which means ‘inert’ or ‘passive’.
So Jada Bharata was a king and also a sannyasi. But his kingdom haunted him; people haunted him. He could not be free from the result of his past actions. So actions and results will haunt you. The only way to be is action-less, akarma; that’s what the Bhagavad Gita says.
Non-action is vikarma, refraining from action without identifying with the result. Thus akarma is coming out of non-action, meaning thoughtlessness. When there’s no thought, there’s no action. When there’s no action, there’s no result. Only then one can be free from karmic effects. Good results or bad results will haunt us and bind us on this wheel of karma and reaction.
Karma is action and reaction, sound and resound, object and reflection. It goes on happening until we get out of this vicious circle, which is possible only through the withdrawal of the mind. Withdrawal of the mind is what is called mano nasana—annihilation of the mind.
Where is the mind while you are singing bhajans? Suppose you sing full-throated:
Gopika Mala Hari Pyari Mayi Meera Mana Vihari
Madana Mohana Muralidhari Krishna Jai!
Where is the mind? If there is mind, I think of something. If there is mind, I think people are hearing my melodious voice. (Laughter) So when you sing full-throated, when you become the song but not the singer, you are the song but not the singer; you are the dance but not the dancer.
Similarly, when the mind is not there, when the mind is withdrawn, manonasana, or mind gets merged in devotion, which is called manolaya, that is a way to work out or to jump out of this vicious circle of karma and its consequences.
Am I clear, sir? Thank you, very good question.
HOW TO KNOW IF IT'S GOD?
How do you know if God is telling you something?
God told you to put this question. How do you know to put a question? He makes you put a question!
How do you know? A simple example: we get up in the morning, right? We go to sleep and get up in the morning. Who is waking you up? Anybody? Did your Dad ask you to get up? Probably not at this age! Who wakes you up? Nobody. If He is not waking up, he is Kumbhakarna.
Do you read and do homework or not? You read and you remember all you read, right? How do you remember? Who makes you remember all that you read? You are eating and you are getting strength; how do you get the strength? By eating idli and sambar will you put on weight? No! You eat idli and sambar, you do the action, and the result is in His hands.
When I read, He makes me remember. I put in effort and He grants me success. I breathe, He helps me breathe out. I eat, He digests. And what about blood circulation? What are you doing for blood circulation? Are you paying some tax? Or is somebody cleaning you inside? Who is doing it? This is enough proof to say that God is here.
Then how do you know that God is working through you? Suppose you always speak truth. Who asked you to speak truth? All good things are done at the prompting of God, understand that!
Suppose your mother wants your help, you will immediately go and help. Who told you to do that? God in you! Suppose your father wants you to help, so you go and help. Who told you to do so? God in you! Understand it. All good things are prompted by God. At your age, it is a very good question. God bless you.
ON PURIFICATION OF THOUGHTS AND A CEILING ON DESIRES
From a student’s viewpoint, in the daily life of a student, could you please suggest some practical ways in which one can practice or implement purification of thoughts and a ceiling on desires?
Do you belong to this place? Are you a prospective leader of this centre? (Laughter) Well, as a student, how can you purify your thoughts? This is the immediate problem of students the world over. All agitations are because of students. All disturbances are because of students. Police have enough work solving their problems.
There are problems at home, problems in the college, problems everywhere, because thought is not under control. Students are under the control of their senses. They are under the control of political leaders. They are under the control of the whims, vagaries, and standards of the community. Therefore, the thoughts of students are diverted or perverted. How can a student control his or her thoughts? That’s a good question.
Sathya Sai Baba colleges are the best examples for this: engage the boy completely! Engage the student completely! He must get up at five o’clock, say morning prayers, and then have some coffee or something like that.
Then he must go to the playground, do some asanas, (yoga exercises) come back, have breakfast, go to the college, and then return. Then it’s lunch, again college, come back, go for bhajans, have darshan, then some sports, 7.30 dinner; till 9.30 you can study, thereafter lights out. You have to go to bed.
Then every Sunday there is service, and preparation for dramas, music programs, and cultural programs. Some students are interested in plumbing, some are interested in electrical things, and some are interested in cooking. For your information, some of our boys can cook much better than women! Did you know that?
Recently there was a dinner in our hostel and I went there. The fellows were making chapattis nicely. I said, “Arre. It’s good you are doing it, but don’t tell your wife! You know this. (Laughter) If you tell your wife, you will be a lifelong cook, I tell you!” (Laughter)
This is my style of talking; the boys are used to it. So, they know cooking, they know electrical work, they know plumbing, and they work throughout. Some are in charge of the dispensary; some are in charge of the library. Everything is managed by the students, even cleaning the rooms, which means the students are completely engaged. Never allow them to be idle because an idle man’s brain is the devil’s workshop. The modern devil is more dangerous than the ancient devil! So engage him completely.
Number two: find some creative talent in students. One is good in singing. Swami will look at him like that, and that fellow will get encouraged. He won’t ask you anything; He simply will look when you are signing some bhajan like “Vittala Hari Vittala, Panduranga Vittale Hari Narayana.” When He starts looking at you, you practice three more songs. Then you sit there. Then you start singing another song. Then you start six songs. Thereafter, whenever you find the time, you will be in the music practice room.
Or when you make a speech, Swami will say, “Ahh! Good.” Then they go on reading and preparing for extra speeches. So He brings out the talents in the students. He encourages them so that they put in more and more effort, so that they become future leaders, orators, men of values, talents, skills, abilities, and capacities. That is the way to make their thoughts proceed in a constructive direction; or else their mind becomes a devil’s workshop. Am I clear?
IS THERE A LIMIT ON THE DESIRES WE CAN DREAM ABOUT?
I am a graduate student here at the University of Wisconsin. I have another question. Throughout our student life, we keep on dreaming; we have this desire or perception and we keep thinking about the future and planning. We have a desire to make our family better or something like that. I was wondering if this ceiling on desires, as Bhagavan says, comes into the picture here? Or are there any steps that we should take ourselves? Okay, don’t think too much, or is there a limit on the desire that we can dream about?
Ceiling on desires is nothing to do with your ambition, nothing to do with working towards your life goals. Ceiling on desires relates to these things: with food, it is not eating like a glutton who keeps on eating (like some people go on dumping garbage). It is not that; that’s no ceiling! You have a certain time to eat, and you know what to eat. Don’t take the rotten stuff, but take fresh food prepared by good people with noble thoughts. All this comes under the ceiling on food.
The ceiling on desires is on limited food. When some boys are like that (Anil Kumar indicates fat), Swami says, “Koncham exercise cheste manchidi,” meaning, “Better you do some exercise.” He won’t say you are fat; rather, “Exercise manchidi appa neeku,” which means, “It would be good if you do some exercise.” He will comment about everybody because all are His children.
When I was in Kodaikanal, He was looking at the boys and saying, “Vaadu, ha! Eight months size! Vaadu, six months! What Anil Kumar is, I think, is two to three months size.”
“Swami, quite close to nine months!” (Laughter) So don’t add extra weight and don’t eat too much. Ceiling on food is number one.
Eat good and sathwic food. I am not competent to talk about sathwic food because I eat only spicy food! But what I am saying has academic value. (Laughter) Let me admit it.
First, have a ceiling on food and second, a ceiling on time. You must have some ceiling on time, which means that you must have some ceiling or time limit for reading, writing, talking, and gossiping. Suppose you go on playing endlessly; what how about your career? If you go on reading endlessly, how about your total personality development? Or, if you go on singing only, how about your studies? So, there is a ceiling on how you spend your time, as well as a ceiling on food consumption.
Third, a ceiling on energy: what do you mean by energy? It is just like you switch on the lights when you study; but after your studies are over, you switch them off. Once their job is over, you switch off the lights or turn off the taps. So don’t waste energy, don’t waste food, and don’t waste time. These are the first three ceilings.
Fourth: don’t waste money; waste of money is evil. Spend money on what it is necessary. Be lavish in good things, and the opposite of lavish in unnecessary things.
However, that rare feeling of having a ceiling is not required in respect to studies: “I got forty marks, let me have a ceiling!” (Laughter)
HOW TO FIND GOD IN A PERSON WHO HAS DONE BAD?
They say you can find God in everything. With someone who has done bad things all their life, how can you find God in that person?
That’s why Swami wants children to go to Bal Vikas. How to find God in a person doing bad actions? That is the question. The answer is: think of the person and not his action. Think of the person: God in him is fine. It is his mind that has made him bad. It is his mind that made him take bad actions. As an individual, he is good.
A simple example: we bring provisions from the market—mangoes, pepper, pickles. Suppose you don’t add the ingredients in the correct proportions when you prepare the dish. Then, what will happen? The taste is gone. You are making a curry or chutney. If all these things are not mixed in the correct proportion, the taste is gone. Who is responsible? It’s nothing to do with the provisions. The vegetables are good, the chillies are good, the salt is good, and the tamarind is good. Everything is perfect but the cooking; something is wrong in the combination.
Similarly, God in him is God—perfect, but his mind is tossed; there is some mismanagement that resulted in him being a crook. So let us look at the person, but not his actions because those actions are based on his mismanagement.
That’s why Gandhiji used to say, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” Rama could see God in Ravana also. He could appreciate Ravana. Why? Because He saw God in him. However, Ravana could not see God in Rama, and you know what happened to him!
One question to Madam (Mrs Kamaraju) . . .
Professor Anil Kumar: Oho! Good. Women’s liberation, very good. “How do you manage this man?” (Laughter) That should be your question!
SHARE ONE OR TWO OF YOUR SAI EXPERIENCES
In one of your earlier talks, I learnt that you went to Swami before Professor Anil Kumar, and even he said that he went to Swami only through you. Now tell us, you must have had a lot of personal experiences with Swami. Tell us one or two very powerful experiences which made you to see Him as the God of gods.
Mrs. Anil Kumar: In the beginning, we went to Parthi because of my in-laws. We stayed there for one week. Swami didn’t look at us and never talked to us. My husband was a voracious reader, so he purchased so many books, and then he was ready to go back.
We stayed there for one week and the whole week I felt very happy, and also thought my health was improving. So I wanted to stay there only. But my mother came with all the children, so the whole family was there. My mother told us we would come again, but we had to go back home now.
When we returned to our house in Guntur, our native place, Swami appeared in my dream and created vibhuthi, gave it to me, and said, “Hereafter no complaints.” From that time I have been well and my health has also improved, and so my husband took this opportunity and started his mission. That was how he first entered Swami’s fold.
Professor Anil Kumar: It goes on in every family. First, “Why is my husband not that devoted?” And then that fellow becomes a devotee and she complains of too much devotion! (Laughter)
Mrs. Anil Kumar: After that he was very much involved and I was irritated because I had to take on a lot of responsibility for the family. My mother-in-law was also there, and because she was a heart patient, I had to take responsibility. Sometimes he used to spend a lot of time in Parthi; once he went there and stayed for a month. I was irritated at that time, staying in my native place and praying to Swami to send him back. (Laughter)
One day I was very restless and the next morning he came back to Guntur. While coming he told me that I had prayed a lot to Swami and that is why Swami asked him why he was still there, and told him to go back. That is what Swami told him and immediately he came back.
When we pray from the bottom of our hearts, Swami will help us a lot. He responds to our prayers. That’s my experience. Whenever I am in that place or whenever I have a doubt, or I’m in a dilemma or anything like that, Swami will rescue me. Swami will respond to my prayers. I have that strong faith in Swami. He has helped me a lot, He has encouraged me a lot, and He has inspired me a lot. I don’t know how to thank Swami.
I have had so many experiences. Once when my husband was working as the principal of the college in Bangalore, the next day was Shivarathri and I wanted to go to Parthi, but I hadn’t booked my ticket. There are so many buses during the festival season, and so I hadn’t booked my ticket.
I went directly to the bus station. One bus was about to leave, so I thought I would get a seat in the bus; but the conductor told me that there were no seats. Somehow I wanted to go to Parthi and got into the bus anyway.
I stood for two hours and then I started praying to Swami, “Swami, I am coming for Your darshan but you make me stand like this.” Then and there itself Swami inspired me to write a poem in Telugu.
Palukarinchi Padadharsanamu Isthuvuani Parthiki Vacchithi
Nee Darshanabhagyambu Valeyukori Vachhuchuntu Parthi
Swami, I wanted to see You, I want to come to Parthi,
Naaku Shakthi Parikshimpaninchi Niluvajeetamu Ichhitivu
I wanted to come to see You, but You gave me punishment to stand like this.
Edikkutochaka Neenunda Abayamu Istivi Ananda Sai
Where I am helpless, You came to my life and rescue me. You responded to my prayers!
The poem goes like that. So, after two hours, one seva dal lady was there behind me. She hadn’t looked at me until then, and I too hadn’t looked at her. But then I got a seat from her and came to Parthi.
The next day was Shivarathri in Prashanti Nilayam. I went to darshan. The first sentence in Swami’s discourse was this: “Whenever and wherever you want to help anybody, you can help ladies and you can help children. This help you can do at any place, whether in railway stations, bus stations. Anywhere where people need help, you can help them!” That was the first statement in Swami’s discourse.
Then I cried like anything, “Swami You are everywhere! You are observing everything! You are helping everybody.” That was my second experience.
Another time I had this experience. Whenever anybody goes to Prashanti Nilayam, first they visit Ganesha and only then do they go to Kulwant Hall. I was going to morning darshan, so I went to the Ganesha temple and I was praying. There I got a message that I should meditate for five minutes every day. That was the message of the day.
But I took it easy. After two weeks, one boy from Malaysia came and brought a letter. In that letter it also mentioned about doing meditation. That was a warning for me. Again Swami reminded me of the meditation I must do. But I didn’t take that seriously either. After that, we went to Hyderabad in the summer to visit my uncle’s place.
My uncle and aunt were doing meditation, and immediately she invited me. They were doing this meditation. Immediately she pushed me into a room and asked me to stay there for half an hour doing meditation. She didn’t even give me coffee. So I was forcefully asked to do meditation! That was the third reminder for me.
Whenever Swami wants us to do anything, He will let us know through a person, an object, or through a book. He will do it so that we get perfection in that field. That’s my experience. Sai Ram. Thank you so much.
HOW TO MANAGE TIME EFFECTIVELY?
With respect to today’s life, there is so much expected from everyone. There is so much frustration going around. We try something and can’t do it the morning. From morning until night we are doing so many things. How do you manage time effectively? Do you have any method to get out of frustration and manage things properly?
In the course of frustration, one gets polished. A simple example: as a child starts walking, the child falls on the ground. As one learns to ride a bicycle, one falls at certain times. This failure is a stepping-stone to success. So frustration should not frustrate you. Frustration is an incident, frustration is a sequence, and frustration is incidental and accidental, based on a certain period of time.
But if you let the frustration get into your mind, you become depressed and more frustrated. So let frustration be an event, that’s all. You shouldn’t allow failure to get into your head. Thus you will emerge successfully. Everything is like that. Life is not built overnight. Rome was not built in a day.
All of you here must have gone through so many difficulties in the early period after coming to this country. In the early period of your stay here, well, I don’t think it was easy straightaway. You must have struggled a lot. But you were not frustrated. You continued to struggle and struggle for existence.
So frustration is like a passing cloud. Faith in God will help you come out of this frustration. You find that every dark cloud, my dear friend, every dark cloud, has a silver lining inside. All doors may be closed, but the window will be kept open. Don’t get frustrated. There’s no room for frustration. Why?
Why fear when I am here?
Ananyashchintayanto Mam Ye Janah Paryupasat,
Tesham Nityabhiyuktanam Yogakshemam Vahamyaham.
If you concentrate and have full faith in Me, unwavering faith,
It is My responsibility to take care of you.
Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, says the Holy Bible. “Knock and the door shall be opened.” “Ask and thou shalt be given.” So, no frustration, no! It is only a question of experiencing, that’s all. All like passing clouds. Am I clear? (Applause)
How does spiritual growth relate to service growth?
How does spiritual growth relate to service growth? Which is the greater path to God?
Service growth and spiritual growth are not separate. Let me repeat, spiritual growth and service growth are not separate. Service without spirituality is mechanical. Service without spirituality is publicity. Service without spirituality is a lifeless computer program. Service without spirituality is ego and pride. Service with spirituality is love, fraternity, oneness in everyone, and egoless-ness. So spirituality and service go together. That’s why it is said, “Service to man is service to God.”
SHARE A LIGHTER MOMENT FROM KODAIKANAL
Moderator: Can you end on a lighter note? Because one devotee heard your speech in Orlando and we heard of some lighter moments with Baba when you were in Kodaikanal.
You want me to end things on a lighter note? This is an indication that things have been too heavy! (Laughter) I see! High-potency antibiotics. Now we should switch over. Yes, I understand. I would be happy to repeat it once again, because it makes me feel happy any number of times.
That year Eswaramma Day was celebrated in Kodaikanal. Eswaramma Day is celebrated every year in commemoration of the life of Mother Eswaramma. It is a Bal Vikas day where children do so many activities and there is Narayana Seva, distribution of food to everybody.
There in Kodaikanal Swami usually gives darshan around 7:45 or 8 o’clock, it being a very cold place. So I was watching the time. I knew pretty well that there was enough time for me to have some extra sleep. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth. I was wearing just a towel, nothing like a banian (t-shirt) or anything like that. Suddenly the door opened! There stood Baba! (Laughter) I was wonderstruck.
Swami said, “Chi, chi, chi, what a shame it is.” (Laughter) He added, “When all have come for My darshan, you are giving your darshan to Me.” (Laughter)
Professor Kumar ended the session with the bhajan, “Chanda Kirana Kula Mandana Ram.”
Copyright Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju, Puttaparthi. All rights reserved.