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Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Answers For   

Spiritualising Our Day-To-Day Life 

Q161)  Swami! Are you pleased with our dhyana, meditation?

Bhagawan: Do you call what you do every day meditation? No, you are not doing it properly. It may be anything but certainly not meditation. It is all right that you sit down to meditate. But your mind is in the market, you will be thinking of what you are going to eat for lunch. Or you will be thinking of your dhobi, when he would bring your ironed clothes. Is that meditation? Certainly not.

A small example. You are seated here waiting eagerly and anxiously for the arrival of Swami. Any sound of a door or a car will draw your attention as Swami might come any time. Your mind is fully concentrated on Swami and you begin to view everything in terms of Swami's arrival. Do you not? On the other hand, if you are mentally engaged otherwise and not alert, even if Swami comes and stands in front of you, you will not notice him.

So, in meditation the most important thing is to have a full percent cent concentration on God. You should be fully alert, without any diversion of attention. So, an unwavering steadiness of mind. I emphasize for meditation  calincani manasu bhramincani drsti (Telugu).

Q162) Swami, how many things should we study and learn in order to take to Sadhana, spiritual path? How many details should we know from the sacred texts to start our Sadhana?

Bhagawan: Many things or details are not necessary. We see most people reading books. They listen to discourses for a number of years. But, what is the use? They remain where they have been in the spiritual path. What is the reason? It is lack of practice that has detained them, retarded their progress. In fact, you don't have to read so many books. You don't need to learn many things. If you clearly and thoroughly understand one thing, it is enough. If you practice one thing, that is enough. Why learn many and don't practice even one? To commit suicide a small pin or a needle is enough. But to kill others you require a pistol or a revolver or a knife. Similarly, to teach others you need to learn and know many things for which you have to read a lot. But to work for one's own liberation, redemption and emancipation it is enough if one thing is practiced sincerely. So, practicing is more important than knowing and learning in life.

QI63) Swami! We are indeed very fortunate to have been listening to you. We are in a blissful state. You alone can answer our questions like this, out of your infinite compassion for us. None can do that. Swami, pardon me for this question. It is now very clear to us what enquiry is. But why am I unable to do so? Why is my mind not steady? Is it the nature of the mind to waver? Is it the natural quality of the mind to remain unstable and unsteady that prevents me from concentration on enquiry?

Bhagawan: You complain that your mind is unsteady and that you are not able to concentrate. This is not true. In fact, there is no mind as such. It is nothing but a bundle of desires. It is a bundle of thoughts. It is like a piece of cloth with yarn closely interwoven. When you separate the yarn or threads one after another, the cloth does not exist any more. So also, when the desires are gone and the thoughts withdrawn, the mind does not exist any more. This is called amanaska, withdrawal of the mind, or manolaya annihilation of the mind.

You say that your mind wavers. This is also not quite true. You see a tree here. The leaves flutter. Why? It is the wind that makes the leaves of the tree flutter. But when there is no wind they do not move. So, the movement is due to the wind and not due to the quality of the leaves or the tree. The tree of life like leaves of the human mind flutters as the wind of desires blows.

You also say that you are not able to concentrate your mind. This is not true again. How are you riding your bicycle or driving your car without concentration? Is it not dangerous`? Will it not lead to accidents? How could you concentrate in order to drive your car or ride your bicycle? As you read a book, a paper, or a draft, how are you able to concentrate? Without concentration, how could you grasp all that is mentioned in a book? In your profession are you not doing your job with full attention and concentration? Are you doing this with your mind engaged elsewhere or absent-minded? If you do so, don't you spoil the work assigned to you? You would have been summarily dismissed from your service had you been doing your job without concentration. Are you not concentrating your mind on every activity of your daily life? Yes, you do it beyond doubt. But, concentration of mind becomes a very difficult task only in respect of God. Is it not a misfortune? The mind is stable and it concentrates easily and naturally. The loss of concentration with respect to God implies that you do not have as much love for and interest in Him as you have in worldly matters. Concentration, hence, depends on the degree of your interest. You can't blame the mind. It is like a mirror. It only reflects what is kept in front of it. So I often lay stress on good and pure thoughts. As is the thought so is the mind. You know one who has manas (mind) is manisi, a human being. The most valuable thing in this world in your estimate is a diamond. But `diamond' means `die-mind' or withdrawal of mind.

Q164) Swami! Now we understand from your divine discourse and by your grace how important devotion is. But, faith is the base of devotion. How is one to cultivate faith, Swami?

Bhagawan: What a foolish question you have asked! What do you mean by saying cultivating faith? Can you cultivate it? Is that a commodity to be purchased from a shop? It can neither be given nor received. Faith is your natural quality. In fact vis'vasa, faith is your s'vasa, breath. Without it there is a total stoppage of your breath.

Just think for a moment how you carry on your daily routine with or without faith. You will soon notice that your every action, both mundane and spiritual, is based only on faith. You give your clothes, costly shirts and safari suits to a washer man in full faith that he would bring them back after washing and ironing. If you suspect that he would run away with your clothes, will you give them to him? Most valuable gold is given to goldsmiths to make jewellery out of it in good faith that they would do so. Even if a trace of doubt arises in your mind, will you ever hand over valuable gold? You go to a barber for a haircut. Do you for a moment entertain the feeling that he would put his knife in the neck instead of on the head? You bend your head in good faith in front of the barber to have your hair cut. So also in good faith, a patient will lie down on the operation table and allow himself to be operated upon by the surgeon. Do you doubt that your life is not safe in his hands? No. So be he a dhobi or a goldsmith or a barber or a doctor for that matter, all transactions are made in good faith. So faith is a natural gift of God to mankind. To be faithless is unnatural and artificial. But the pity of it is that you have full faith in everyone but not in God. Isn't that very unfortunate?

Devotion and faith are like the two eyes of a living being or the two wheels of a bicycle or the two wings of a bird. Without faith, as we say, even an ant can't move an inch. A bird cannot fly high without faith. A bird perches on a branch. The branch may be drooping or swinging, yet the bird is not bothered. Why? It is because the bird has full faith in its wings on which it relies but not on the branch. So, everything depends on your faith.

How do you know your father? It is your mother, who has the authority to show you your father and you have full faith in your mother. If not, there is no way to know your father. You know the dates and the days from a calendar and you go by what the calendar indicates. Otherwise, how do you know that today is Monday, the 14th May? The day has not appeared in front of you with a signboard on the forehead indicating the day of the week and the date. You have full faith in all that you listen to from the All India Radio news bulletin and the various news columns that you go through in a newspaper. So much so, you believe what you hear on the radio, watch on the T.V., read in the newspapers, but you don't believe our rsivakya or the sayings and teachings of our sages and saints of yore embodied in the Vedas and other holy scriptures. The Vedas are called

is'variya, apauru seya , compositions of God. You don't have faith in them. How strange and unfortunate it is! Think over it for sometime.

Q165) Swami! Why are some people not devoted to God? Devotion, it seems, has no place in their lives. Would you kindly tell us the reason?

Bhagawan: Very simple. It is only sensual pleasure that makes people disinclined towards God. Meaningless worry about the future, excessive desires, building castles in the air are a way of life with them. Ambition to reach heights they don't deserve and too much attachment to the family and the world, all these are factors that make a man not devoted to God. There can be no other reason beyond these.

You know the seesaw on which children play. If one end goes up, the other end comes down, and vice versa. If the stress is laid on the world, your love of God will be less, and on the other hand, if your love of God is greater (heavy at one end as in the game) your attachment to the world becomes less (light at the another end as in the game). This is how the balance works. Isn't it so? I will give you another example, that of a magnet. It draws iron filings towards it. But sometimes it doesn't. Why? If the iron pieces are rusted and dusty, they are not drawn and attracted by the magnet. Likewise, people who are like iron pieces dusty and rusted by worldly desires are not drawn to God, the `Divine Magnet'. Is it clear now why some are not devoted to God?

Q166) Swami! Kindly give a direction to our spiritual pursuit? How should it continue? Like the flow of a river? What are the restrictions to be observed?

Bhagawan: `Nas'reyo niyamam vina.' Everything must have limits without which you will face risks and dangers. A river that flows under certain conditions with banks on either side serves irrigation purposes better. Similarly, the river of life has two banks, one on each side viz. sams’ ayatma vinas’yati': never doubt and `s'raddhavan labhate ‘: by sincerity you develop wisdom. Your river of life should flow between these two banks. Your faith should not be shaken. It should never waver. Your faith should be strong and deep. No adverse situations and negative moments should make you lose your faith.

A life without faith is like a pot with holes. You know that we water only the roots of a plant. Yet, water is supplied to all parts of the plant. You do not water the stem, branches and leaves separately. Similarly, the water of faith, if supplied to the roots of your life, will take care of everything else related to life. The tree of life can sustain itself if the water of faith is supplied to its root. Without this, the plant dries up and is no longer alive. It becomes firewood. Once you doubt all that you do will go in vain and nothing will be fruitful. No amount of scholarship or Sadhana can help you if you allow doubt to step into your mind.

A small illustration. There was a pundit in a certain village. Daily a milkmaid from the neighboring village used to bring him milk crossing a river by boat. In the process there was necessarily some delay in supplying milk to the pundit. One day the pundit questioned her and wanted to know the reason for the delay. She replied, "Oh Panditji! I have to cross the river by boat everyday to bring milk. I can only get into the second trip of the boat because the boatman will load in the first trip all the elders of the village. There is no alternative left for me. So, I am late". Then the pundit said, "Look! Why do you need to come by boat? I suggest that you carry the milk pots over your head and cross the river chanting God's name. The river will give way and you won't need to wait for the boat".

The milkmaid believed in what the pandit said and on the next day she could come on time and gave him the pot full of milk. Then on his enquiry, she told him that she could bring the milk on time by simply following his instructions. The pandit was very much astonished at this, and could not believe her words and decided to verify the fact himself. He said to her "Good! Now as you go back I shall follow you and see you as you cross the river chanting God's name and how the river gives way for you to cross it"

Both of them came near the riverside. The milkmaid acted exactly according to the pundits instructions, viz. chanting the name of God. The pundit also wanted to act in the same way. He stepped forward and lifted his dhoti up to his knees so that his clothes would not be wet. He marched into the river step by step doubting if he would drown in the river. His doubt became true and he got drowned. Faith made the milkmaid walk across the river, while the pundit had no faith in his own words. Hence he drowned.

The bank on the other side of the river of life is s'raddha, sincerity, steadfastness, that confers jnanam, wisdom. You will be sincere only if you love the work you do. You should have full faith and love to become sincere.

A student cannot pass the examinations if he has no faith that he can read, love the subject and study it sincerely. So, vis'vasa, prema and s'raddha are the three steps that give you success in your attempts. A businessman or a lawyer or a doctor must be sincere, must have shraddha, in order to be successful in his profession.

So for jnana, you should be sincere and steadfast. What type of jnana should it be? It is not physical, material, secular or worldly knowledge. It is the practical knowledge, anubhavajnana that you get when you are sincere and steadfast. So these are the two banks on either side of the river of life, doubtlessness and sincerity or steadfastness. Sams'aayatma vinas’yati : the doubters perish, and s'rddhavan labhate jnanam: the sincere and faithful attain wisdom.

Q167) Swami! Why and how do we get evil feelings such as jealousy, envy, pride, egoism, attachment and so on. How are we to get away from these evil feelings?

Bhagawan: The main cause for all these evil feelings is your body attachment. These feelings are born in your mind. They depend on your interactions and relationships with others.

A small example. Suppose you have a very intimate friend with whom you agree on everything. By chance, if you toss a rose flower at him, he will be immensely happy for your love and reverence. As ill luck would have it, if you do not see eye to eye with each other due to some differences, and if you toss a rose at him, he will totally misunderstand you. He will think that it is a deliberate action on your part to harm him, for your friend is a sugar patient (diabetic) and as such if a thorn of the flower by chance pricks him, it may cause an injury that never heals and even further complicates leading to the amputation of his hand. See the difference. The two individuals are the same. So, also is the rose flower. But during the period of friendly terms, the act is viewed positively and in the unfriendly period the same actions are viewed negatively. You will now know that everything lies in the mind. The rose flower that gives happiness to your friend creates suspicion in the mind of the same person during the period of animosity.

Then, let me tell you about your next weakness, anger. Why should you and what for should you be angry with anyone? You tend to lose your energy due to anger. You become weak subsequently. The energy you have gained out of the food you have consumed during a couple of months is just lost by a single fit of your anger. Here, enquire into the matter clearly. What exactly makes you angry? If anyone criticizes, reprimands, accuses, or blames you, naturally you are angry with that person. Calm down for a moment and investigate clearly. Why should you be angry with anyone who points out your mistakes or defects? Are you not guilty? Are you angry because your faults are pointed out? Why? So, you need not be angry if your faults are pointed out.

Suppose you are faultless and not guilty, even then there is no need for you to be angry. Because, it is only a false allegation. If anyone says that my head is bald, I am not angry with him because there is no truth in what he says, as I am not bald. If anyone comments that I have a mop of hair, even then I am not angry because the truth is said. So let them say that I am a battatala Baba (bald headed Baba) or buttatala Baba (mop of hair on the head of Baba) (batta and butta are Telugu words). I am not angry either way. If you think in this way you will not be angry and annoyed with anyone.

There is the worst form of disease for which there is no cure. It is envy or jealousy. Hatred ruined powerful kings like Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu, Sisupala, Dantavaktra as mentioned in our epics like the Mahabhagavatham and the Mahabharata. Envy ruined the entire clan of Kauravas. Envy, pride, ego, jealousy and anger are demonic qualities. No one ever thinks of those with these evil tendencies. Have you met anyone by name Duryodhana who is the very personification of jealously in our epic Mahabharata? Have you met anyone by name Sisupala who is the embodiment of hatred in our scriptures? None. Why? It is a shame to be named so. There is then Mandhara a woman character in the Ramayana the very emblem of jealousy. She brought bad name even to queen Kaikeyi. She was responsible for sending Rama to the forest and Bharata's reign. Have you come across women by name Mandhara and Kaikeyi? No. Never. Why? They represent evil traits that ruin anyone.

Never be egoistic. Egoism is another trait that will lead to disrepute. Examine yourself when you feel egoistic. Why ego? On what grounds should you be egoistic? In the entire world, India is of the size of an ant. There, in India your state of Andhra Pradesh is the size of an eye of the ant. Your Anantapur district is but a speck in the eye of the ant. Then, how about Puttaparthi and what are you and your standing in your family? Practically nothing. So don't give any scope for ego and pride. Of course, if at all you want to be egoistic and proud, you can be egoistic about your ignorance and proud of your foolishness! Attachment and Self-interest may make you egoistic on false grounds.

Attachment and feelings of "I and mine" are also not good in your own interest. The feelings of thine and mine arise out of abhimana and ahamkara. An example. Your neighbour has a daughter who was seriously ill for quite some time. You were not bothered or worried about her health. A year after her illness it so happened that you married her. Thereafter even a slight temperature or cold in her body makes you apply for casual leave and stay away from office. Why? She is your wife and no longer the daughter of your neighbour. The difference is due to attachment only.

It is mamakara, feelings of mine that made Dhritarashtra, the old king of the Mahabharata support all the misdeeds of his sons and led to the total ruin of the entire clan. Though he had one hundred sons he was left with none even to perform his last rites. To this state one will be reduced due to the feelings of `I' and `mine'.

When these traits find a place in you, repeat ten times "I am a man, not an animal", "I am a man, not an animal" so that you can get rid of the animal qualities like ahamkara, ego, asuya, jealousy, irsya, envy, dvesa, hatred, abhimana, attachment, and mamakara, feelings of `I' and `mine'.

Q168) Swami? How wonderfully in simple terms and in such an easy way you have explained profound things. What is the way to immortality, the ultimate goal of life?

Bhagawan: Very simple! Very easy! The only way to 'immortality is the removal of immorality.

Q169)  Swami! How long does sensual pleasure last?

Bhagawan: Sensual pleasure is momentary and fleeting. It lands you in difficulties and makes you weak. Think well and understand clearly. You think that you are enjoying with your senses. Actually, it is not so. The senses are enjoying at your expense. At your cost the senses are having a nice time. How? You become weak. You lose your strength. You turn old. If you are right in thinking that you enjoy with your senses, you should have been quite active and enthusiastic. But in reality it is not so. You are negatively affected due to sensual pleasures. Therefore, know for sure that your senses enjoy you, making you sick, old and weak and not you enjoying with your senses.

Q170)  Swami! How are we to lead a detached life? We are hurt when our belongings, positions and wealth are withdrawn. Please tell us how not to be hurt though these are taken away from us.

Bhagawan: You should always keep in view the purpose and the aim of your life. You should never give up your duties and responsibilities. You see, today's newspaper is tomorrow's waste paper. Be assured that past life will never return. You should always keep in mind three important points. Never feel that the world is permanent and that your relationships with all around you are lasting. No. The second thing is that you should not forget God under any circumstances. The third point to remember is not to fear death.

A District Collector has all the comforts and conveniences such as a big bungalow with a spacious compound, furniture, peons, etc. He has a very big office and personnel to provide assistance, but when he retires, he has to leave them all, though he lived till then with them as their sole proprietor and owner. Does he cry on the day of his retirement? Does he feel that he has lost anything personal? Similarly, servant-maids, who take care of children at the residences of rich business magnates or high officials, consider the children very close to them and even say "our boy" `our child' and so on. But is it really so? Can they claim and own them at any point of time? Similarly, you see a cashier in the bank. He has with him Lakhs and Lakhs of rupees, which he disburses to different account holders according to the cheques presented. Does he feel sad at any time for parting with the money? Not even a single naya paisa belongs to him. The same is your relationship with the world you live in. Know the essence, saram (Telugu) and lead this life (family, samsaram Telugu). In fact, no one has anything to do with anything or anybody. You are alone at the time both of your birth and death. The rest that comes in between are like passing clouds.

"Would you settle down on a bridge

you cross from one end to another!

Would you like making a house,

of a boat plying from bank to bank!

Would you build a mansion

right in the middle of a highway!"

So, one must leave to one's own self questions like: `Who am I? 'Where do I come from?' 'Who is God'? `What is the purpose of life?' Human life is gifted to you to find answers to these questions.

For example; a villager goes to a nearby town on some business. As he could not complete his work, he has to stay in a lodge to rest. The proprietor of the hotel or lodge he chooses to stay in will naturally put some questions to him before letting out a room to him. He will ask the villager to register his name and address. He has to answer questions such as "Where do you come from? How long would you stay?" If the answers run like this, "I do not know where I come from. I do not know how long I am going to be here. I do not know when I would quit this room", or "I don't know where I shall go from here!" The proprietor will say, "No room for you. This lodge is not for mad fellows like you" Similar is your situation and position if you don't know where you come from, how long you stay here and where you go from here. Do your duty thinking of God. That is enough, then, you will never suffer.

Q171)  Swami! How services are rendered today helpful in future?

Bhagawan: I will give an example very well known to you. After your retirement, you are given pension. Why? It is the payment for your long service in a profession. So also, God's grace is bestowed on you for your service in the past.

Another example. If you fill the tank with water during the rainy season, you will have water supply in summer. Is it not so? Therefore, service of today will help you receive God's grace later, undoubtedly.

Q172)    Swami! Is there death? Are there a heaven and a hell? What is life?

Bhagawan: There is no death. It is the body that dies. But Atma, the indweller is immortal. Atma is the eternal truth. Your happiness is indeed heaven. Your misery is hell. Both are here in this life. They are not separate entities apart from you.

The whole universe is a tree with branches, leaves,, flowers and fruits. Man expects flowers and fruits and nurtures the tree by watering its roots. It is enough if you water the roots of a plant, in order to get the water circulated to different parts of the plant. Is it not so? Do you water the stem, branches and leaves separately? Do You? No, you don't. For this tree of the universe the branches are different countries and states; the leaves are desires; human beings are the flowers. The root is below and the fruit is on the top. The root is self-confidence while the fruit is self-­realisation. The juice within the fruit is divinity. Today, there is no divinity but only community.

Q173)    Swami! Man's greatest fear is the fear of death. How is he to overcome this?

Bhagawan: Man is not dying of diseases. In fact, it is fear that makes for his death. Ninety eight percent of all deaths are to be traced to fear of death. Diseases are, for the most part, psychological in origin and impact. Check your pulse rate and blood pressure when you are excited, worried, or afraid. These rise much above the normal level. Thus, diseases are, to a large extent, rooted in your mental state.

Once the deity of Cholera came to a village. Seeing her, the village elder said, "Mother! I am terrified at the thought of the devastation soon to overtake our villages. I wonder how many of our people are going to die!" The deity replied, "My son! Not all will be harmed by me. There will be five deaths a day, that's all. You need not be that much alarmed." But, many people were dying. The elder thought the deity might have lied to him. He turned to her and asked, "Mother, you are a deity. How is it, then, that; after saying one thing to me, contrary to that, you punish us?" The Cholera deity replied, "Son! I did not utter a falsehood. I took away only five each day. So, I am not responsible for the deaths of al the others. Those did not die of cholera. They died of fear, that's all."

You asked me how fear of death is to be overcome. The solution is only courage! You should understand that at some time or other, death is inevitable. Realise that there are no exemptions. When you have the courage to realise this fully, fear of death ceases.

Q174)    Swami! How can we realise the divinity within us?

Bhagawan: Look! In college, you have elective subjects like M.P.C (Mathematics. Physics and Chemistry), B..P.C (Biology, Physics and Chemistry) and so on, haven't you? Similarly, to realise the divinity within you, you have to take a group of three subjects. What are the subjects to realise divinity? They are ‘Bhakti’ devotion, ‘Jnana’, wisdom and ‘vairagya’, renunciation.

Without devotion, you can't acquire wisdom. Bhakti leads to jnanam. Without jnanam you can never develop detachment or renunciation. Jnanam takes you to vairagya. A flower, after some time, turns into an unripe bitter fruit, which ultimately becomes a sweet ripened one, doesn't it? It is a question of time that brings about the change. Devotion transforms itself into the wisdom that leads to detachment. This detachment helps you in visualising the divinity within yourself. The fruit drops down from the tree of life. Jnana contributes to s'ara pagan, s’aranagati, surrender.

You should remember one point here. Jnana,, japa, yagna are not important as such. Your love for God is more important than any other such rituals for success in spiritual pursuit. Intense love for God is Bhakti, devotion. Knowledge, broadly speaking, is of two types: one is physical, secular material and worldly knowledge, while the other is spiritual, metaphysical, transcendental and divine knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is nondual, and helps the seeker to realise and experience his own divinity.

Q175)    Swami! How are we to attain bliss?

Bhagawan: It is a pity to find many a confused and disturbed person even in the spiritual field. Though he is in an ashram or spiritual centre, he undergoes ‘srama,’ suffering. It is a matter of shame if a person calls himself a devotee without following a single teaching or practicing it for his transformation. The life of a devotee should be pure, calm, peaceful, detached and he should pine for the knowledge and experience of the Self or spirit or Atma. Infinite desires meaningless worries and anxieties to get all that one doesn't really deserve are obstacles in spiritual life. So many don't enjoy divine bliss. Body attachment makes things much worse.

Four qualities are very essential for the attainment of divine bliss: s’amam-damam control of the outer and inner senses, ‘tr pti’, contentment, ‘vicarana,.’enquiry, and ‘satsang’, good company. They confer divine bliss on the seeker. You have got to know how this most valuable divine bliss is contained within the human body, which is itself transient, and is of lesser value than the spirit.

The body is composed of two bucketfuls of water, one bucketful of lime, iron of four two inch nails, lead of six pencils, phosphorous of nine hundred and twenty matchsticks, and fat of four Lux soaps. Herein lies the Atma, divine spirit. Divine bliss can be attained by investigating, realising and experiencing the inner core of this body, viz. Atma.

Q176)    Swami! Many spiritual practices are suggested, such as, namasmarana singing the glory of God, dhyana, meditation, Pooja, etc. But, still total satisfaction is not derived out of any of them. We are not able to practice and follow continuously even one of them. Dissatisfaction over not being able to succeed and frustration about not getting the rewards for the little we do, are overpowering us. Why is it happening like this? Kindly show us the way.

Bhagawan: You have to plough the land, remove the weeds, manure and water it. Isn't it so? Without tilling the land, removing the weeds and watering, even if you sow the best of seeds, will it be of any help? Similarly, if you want to achieve the four purus arthas, objectives of life, you should follow anyone of the nine paths of devotion, adopt the eightfold path of yogic practices, astaga yoga, follow the nine types of devotion, navavidha bhaktimarga, worship properly and follow the spiritual path scrupulously.

You should cultivate four main qualities; which are the pre-requisites of a devotee of God. The first one is maitri,, friendship, second, karuna, compassion, the third mudita, feeling happy at others' progress, and the fourth quality is upeksa, detachment. These are necessary for spiritual advancement. Maitri is the first one. If you are friendly to the higher-ups, there is every possibility that those people put you under their control. If you are a friend to those who are inferior to you, there is every scope for you to dominate them. In either case, friendship will not continue long. Therefore, friendship must be among equals.

Karuna is the second one. You can't be compassionate towards all. Be compassionate towards the poor, needy, less fortunate, handicapped and sick as well as those who are less educated than you and are inferior to you in rank, position and property. If you do so, your compassion will be valued most and it will deepen increasingly. Mudita is the third one. You should not feel jealous of those who are better off than you. You should not have any bad feelings towards those who are more fortunate than you. You should, on the other hand, feel even happier at their progress and advancement. This is mudita. The fourth one is upeksa. The opposite of upeksa is apeksa.  Apeksa means attachment. Upeksa means detachment.

You should never be positively disposed towards bad people. You should not support designers of evil or those who indulge in bad deeds. You should never develop friendship with an evil-minded person or a person with bad behaviour. With these four qualities you can achieve the objectives of life, the purusarthas. Hence, be friendly with your equals, compassionate towards the poor and needy, be happy at others' progress and keep away from bad people. In fact these four qualities may be said to be the objectives of life, the purusarthas. To cultivate them, purity of heart is necessary. To feel that the very same one God is present in all living creatures and living beings is the way to develop purity of heart. You have to purify your tamasika, bestial qualities and rajasika, emotional or passionate nature. You have to develop that kind of steadiness and purity of mind and heart.

You will not be able to see clearly the reflection of the sun or of the moon alike in containers filled with different kinds of water. One container may have very dirty water where you can't see the reflection of the sun or the moon clearly. This is how the tamasika quality acts, cutting you off from reality. In another container, water may be found shaking and not still. Then also the reflection of the sun will not be clear. This is the rajasika quality. But, a container filled with pure water, which is also steady, helps you to see the object reflected clearly in it. This is the effect of sattvika quality. Similarly, though the same atma is present in all, you are not able to recognise and experience it due to the differences in your body, mind and intellect.

Then, the question is how to achieve the pious quality or sattvika nature and the purity of heart or cittas’huddhi to recognise and experience awareness of Atma? He who can find out his own faults and others' merits can keep his heart steady and pure. If you can identify your own mistakes and rectify them, it doesn't matter wherever you are.

Take a simple example. Your room may be full of mosquitoes. But if you have a mosquito net you will not be affected by their presence and you can sleep well. On the other hand, if there are mosquitoes inside in the net, how can you sleep? Whose mistake is it? Similarly, see that there are no mistakes in you. Always remember that Sadhana is intended for devotion and steadfastness. Sadhana done for selfish gains will be of no use and it can never give you bliss, peace and satisfaction. You can't do Sadhana in such a case intensely and fervently.

The Ramayana explains this very clearly. After his return from his uncle Kekaya's kingdom and on coming to know of the death of his father, King Dasaratha, Bharata approached his mother Kaikeyi and asked her about the reason for his death. Kaikeyi said, "My dear son, I am responsible for the king's death. For your benefit and to make you the king of Ayodhya, I asked your father to grant me the two boons he had promised to give me a long time ago. As the first boon, I asked that you be crowned and as the second, Rama be sent to the forest. Your father couldn't bear the separation from Rama and so he died".

On listening to this, Bharata became very furious. He said, "Oh! Wicked woman! Do you know what you did? Are you foolish? Do you think that you can cut off a tree and plant its branches to grow? Don't you know that Rama is a tree?" In her view Kaikeyi was right in doing like that, but  to Bharata it was very cruel. Today, what you are doing is exactly like that. You are cutting off the tree of divinity and planting the branches of Prakriti, nature. This is not proper. So, any Sadhana is useless if there is no devotion supported by steadfastness. Without these basic qualities of maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksa  you can't achieve anything. You can't have peace; bliss and self-satisfaction. Therefore, for a spiritual life you should acquire these four qualities.

Q177)    Swami! Many spiritual paths are mentioned by diverse traditions and religions. How far can these paths lead to experiencing divinity? To what extent are their spiritual exercises to be adopted? From the description of some of these, success in one lifetime appears impossible. On the other hand, worry that no spiritual practice is undertaken plagues us. Is there no way out for us? Kindly grant us peace. 

Bhagawan: Listening to your accounts of Sadhana, it appears you do not know what Sadhana is. The practices you call `spiritual' are undertaken by the mind. They give you only temporary happiness and satisfaction. On the other hand, they cannot be dismissed as altogether useless. Sadhanas must help you in spending your time in a pious way. What, then, is Sadhana? “Sa” means salokyam, dwelling in heaven with the vision of God; therefore Sadhana gives us the dhana, treasure, of salokyam. Every act of the mind is dualistic, artificial, and transient. Suppose you are on a journey. Suppose also that there is a thief by your side. How can you feel secure? The person beside you is a thief, isn't he? In the same way, all practices involving the mind can never give you unbroken bliss, the experience of Brahman. What you achieve in Sadhana is the removal of the veil blocking the vision of the Self, the veil of anatmatabhava. With the removal of this veil, the experience of the Atma, the real, stands revealed. This is not something that has to come from somewhere, nor is it something that can be lost.

The next question is how long Sadhana needs to be practiced. Consider a wound. When healing starts, a scar appears covering the wound, and this drops off by itself. Suppose you peel it off by force. The wound grows bigger. In the same way, once you have the experience of the Self, the question of Sadhana does not arise.

Another example. When you cook food, you adjust the flame. When you ask how long the flame is to be turned on, it is only till the food is cooked. Sadhana too is necessary only till one acquires jnana, supreme wisdom.

Q178)    Swami! When we get wisdom based on our practical knowledge, discrimination and determination, will it stay with us permanently or is there any possibility of our losing it by chance leading us back to ignorance again?

Bhagawan: That is impossible. Actually, you can't call it wisdom at all, if it is lost. You can't consider a person a man of wisdom if he returns to the same old state of ajnana, ignorance.

In fact, Jnana, wisdom, neither comes nor goes. You are the embodiment of Divyajnana, divine wisdom. Your own worldly attachments, sensual pleasures, and bodily identification obscure this awareness or wisdom. Once you realise it; you will never lose the state of awareness.

A simple example, you curdle milk and churn it to get butter. The butter, a product of milk, will never get mixed in the milk once again, will it? So also, the butter of wisdom cannot mix in the milk of ignorance, once it is realised. Similarly, a Jnana, though he lives in the midst of ignorant people, will never lose his Jnana. Ajnana, Ignorance will never come again. Wisdom, once it dawns on you, will never depart from you.

Q179)    Swami! Is bodily feeling an obstacle to spiritual progress? The bodily feeling doesn't seem to leave us anyway. Kindly tell us what we should do about it?

Bhagawan: I have never told you to neglect your body. Always remember that the body is an instrument. A temple may be very beautiful, clean and highly attractive. However, you will not be satisfied by merely looking at it from outside, unless you go in and see the idol installed at the sanctum sanctorum. It is the idol or Mulavirat that makes you feel happy and ecstatic, doesn't it? Similarly, your body is the moving temple of God . You should never neglect it. Your desires will not make your body polluted. The only thing is that the desires need to be good and never bad.

We have on one side, arisadvarga six foes, such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, avarice, and hatred, which ruin man. But you can channelise them in the right direction. For example, take anger, krodha. Anger does you no good at any time. But if you are angry with your bad behaviour, wicked thoughts and evil tendencies, you will improve yourself. So, don't be angry with anyone, be angry with your own anger. Then, consider kama , desire. If you are after limitless desires, you will be leading a discontented life. On the other hand, if you desire God, desire to serve him, the very desire, kama, becomes sublime.

Therefore, so long as one is selfish, self-centered, sensual and worldly, the body definitely is an obstacle to spiritual progress. But if you take it as an instrument for the realisation of the divinity within yourself then definitely it is not an obstacle. Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyaksha, Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Sisupala, Jarasandha, Dantavaktra, etc., ruined themselves because of their bad thoughts, wicked actions, cruel and harmful nature. In fact, the body is the gift of God for man to realise and experience Him.

Q180)     Swami! How are we to grasp easily the purpose and aim of life?

Bhagawan: This is very simple. A small example. A patient takes medicines for an ailment and gets cured. Why? He has to take medicines regularly for a certain period of time so that he may not have to take medicines once again by falling sick. It means he should not be a patient a second time.

Similarly, your birth in this life is given to you not to be born again. In other words, you should not enter the cycle of birth and rebirth once again. One has to work for it spiritually by intense sadhana during this lifetime itself. This is the aim and the purpose of life.

Source: SATYOPANISAD VOL - II [Part III, Chapter-VII] by Anil Kumar Kamaraja  

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