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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
October 15, 2000

The Main Points taken from Sunday's Talk given by Anil Kumar on October 15th, 2000.



Sai Ram.

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Our Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I have spent some time with my friends recently. I was so happy to be so close with them after a long gap of time. It also happened that I could spend some time with my relations who came here to visit me. I was so happy to be so close to them too. I was really happy when I was very, very close to my relations. Likewise I am quite comfortable when I am close to the fireplace during winter in order to warm up, particularly when the whole climate is very cold. To be close to the fire, you feel the warmth and you feel so happy.

Closeness gives us happiness. Closeness gives us joy. Closeness constructs love. Yes, you'll be so close to your beloved. You want to be so close to your grandchildren. You want to be close to your children. Yes, this closeness makes us very, very happy. We crave for that. As I said, in family circles, closeness means affection. Being close to one's own children, being close to one's own grandchildren, closeness is affection. Closeness is love. Closeness is a sort of expression of concern, a longing for the beloved. That is the expression of closeness.

By being close to a fan, to have cool breeze, or being close to a heater in winter, to feel warmth, in these cases closeness means comfort. Or to sit in the back seat in a good Contessa car or Toyota, or to take front seat, executive seats in Air India or British Airways, executive class, close to the cabin, yes, that closeness also gives us the joy, the thrill and excitement. Closeness to material objects, like a ceiling fan, like a heater, front rows, front seats, that gives us the thrill. Closer the seat, more the thrill! Closer the seat, more the excitement!

Closeness is enjoyment. Closeness is comfort. Closeness is convenience with material objects. Being close to a contemporary, being close to my friend, is friendship or association. I meet a person, my classmate when I was in high school. When I am close to him, it is friendship. Like this, my friends, closeness means so many things. 'Being close to' means so many things. We can be close to a person. We can be close to an object. We can be very close to our peers.

But in respect to God, it should be different. If anyone says, "I am close to God. I am close to Baba," well, sorry to tell you, but he has no idea of Baba at all. He cannot be close to God. Impossible! To be close to God is only an imagination. To be close to God is an expression of pride. To be close to God is just an expression of ego. One cannot be close to God. Why? Because God is not a person. You can be close to a person. God is not a person. God is a phenomenon. God is not a person. I can be close to this mike. I can be close to this table. I cannot be close to God, because your God is not an object. God is not an object. God is the subject. God is a phenomenon, not a person. So my friends, false claims such as, "I am close to God," these are all expressions of total ignorance.

Why should there be a feeling to be close to Swami? Why do we desire to be close to Him? What are the advantages of being close to Him? I want to draw your attention to certain of the anecdotes, certain illustrations, certain of the experiences to the best of my knowledge.

It so happened that Swami suddenly called a person, a doctor, who had just come for the first time. He went close to him. He said, "Take padnamascar!" The doctor was happy because he was not expecting this. He's sixty years old. His friends are here who have been so-called 'senior devotees', all confirmed devotees. But in this case you find the doctor, who came here for the first time. Bhagavan went close to him, "Come on, take padnamascar!" The others could not understand the mystery behind this.

Later, on investigation and inquiry, we came to know that this doctor, who is an eye specialist, organized a number of eye clinics. He also runs an orphanage and he serves so many Christian hospitals. He is a member of several charitable trusts. He is a most dedicated man of service. He is not a man of money. He is not a man for socialization, like Rotary Club or Lions Club. He's not for socializing. He's a man of service. Here is Bhagavan who went to him straightaway, "Take padnamascar!" So the point is that though he came here for the first time, Bhagavan went straight to him and talked to him.

Spiritual close is different from physical closeness. Physical closeness is proximity or nearness, whereas spiritual closeness is dearness. Spiritual closeness is dearness. Spiritual closeness brings God, makes Him walk toward you. Physical closeness demands you run and occupy the front row! That's the reason why so many of us fail. Why? We want physical closeness. If we are really spiritually close, He Himself would walk towards us! He Himself would send some message, some messenger, calling you, talking to you. So my friends, closeness is really something which you have to ponder over, which you have to face, something deep.

God is such a phenomenon. Of course, as we cannot think and discuss the Infinite, we call It abstract. Being Infinite, we cannot grasp Him. As It is beyond our mind, we cannot comprehend It. As the mind could not comprehend, the word also could not express. So, that which is beyond expression, that which is beyond imagination, comprehension, understanding, estimate, measure, how can I be close? Is that possible? Impossible!

Bhagavan Himself gave some examples. What did He say? My mother loves me, as any mother would do. I love her. Every mother loves her child. Every child loves his mother. OK, express how much love she has for you. How many kilos? How many liters? How many degrees? Can you say that? Kindly express your mother's love and your love for your mother in terms of degrees, kilos, grams, or anything you know of, any measure you like. Impossible! The reason is that He is beyond all measure, second-to-none. He is the hidden. He cannot be expressed. He is beyond comprehension and understanding. He cannot be thought of, cannot be created, cannot be expressed. One can only experience Him.

So closeness means experience, but not expression. If one is close to Bhagavan, he should have experienced Him. He should experience Him, but not express about Him. Expression is full, is a way towards experience. Not that expression is useless, not that expression is to be condemned or to be abandoned or to be given up. No. Expression takes you to experience. Expression is like steps, leading you to the terrace, taking you to the mansion. Expression is a corridor taking you to the Durbar Hall, the open book of experience. So closeness here means experience, but not expression.

I can also give you another example. Bhagavan visited Hyderabad long back. Many, many people were speakers there: District Presidents, District Seva Dal Conveners. Something like army titles, we have got a hierarchy - Conveners, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, what not. All were seated there. But our good God was searching for someone who was not there!

'Oh Swami, You are very unkind. You are very uncharitable. I got up at four o'clock in the morning, dressed up so nicely, could engage a taxi. Being a Convener and a President, nobody could stop me and take the vantage point. I am also physically strong enough to pull out or push away a couple of fellows, and take the front row! But You do not look at me? Why? What happened to You? Can't You see things right in front of You? Am I a bacteria or a virus that could not be seen? What's wrong with You or with me???'

That might have been the question. But good God suddenly asked for one gentleman. Suddenly He asked, "Where is Akshi Raju?" Akshi Raju was just a worker, a member of Sai Organization, not a President or a Secretary, nothing. "Where is Akshi Raju?"

Acting as an innocent person, the President in front row said, "Ah?" Feeling innocent, but truly egoistic; appearing ignorant, but inherently egoistic, he said, "Akshi Raju is not President or Convener, you understand? O God, you understand? As this is the meeting of Presidents and Conveners, how do you expect Akshi Raju to be here? He's not coming."

Do you know what God said? "If he's not the President, who else is the President? If he's not the Convener, who else is the Convener? Yes! Where is he? Go and bring him!" He said. The whole proceedings were suspended until one fellow went running and brought him there. This is closeness!

"I'm close to God. I'm close to Swami" should mean not mere physical closeness. We should get an acknowledgement from Him. We should get an indication from Him. We should get a sign from Him. We should get at least a word of inquiry from Him, not simply a one-way traffic. That is closeness.

So spiritual closeness does not necessarily mean being physically near. Spiritual closeness does not mean speaking how close one is or how nicely one occupies the front rows wherever Bhagavan goes anytime. That is NOT closeness, my friends. The spiritual closeness demands that stage when God Himself responds, when God Himself walks towards you, comes towards you, alerts you, appraises you, and yes, elevates you! I think He finds Himself with you. That is what you call spiritual closeness.

Once-upon-a-time Bhagavan gave one beautiful example: A river wants to merge into the ocean. The river flows towards the ocean. It wants to merge. It wants to unite. But the sea rebels. The sea retaliates. The sea fights. The sea rejects. The sea denies. The ocean denies. The mighty sea rejects. Ocean says "No!" But the river prays and prays, dashes against it. There's a clash. The river does not merge into the ocean immediately. There's a constant clash. There's a constant encounter. Finally, as the sea overflows, the river slowly, silently, majestically, in all solemnity and dignity, in a state of silence, flows down as the sea covers it up. The sea overflows and the river passes silently beneath, with all its dignity, in all spirit of surrender, having taken, having born all the suffering of retaliation, rejection, non-acceptance, and utter neglect by the sea. This is the example given by Bhagavan.

When once we want to be close, physically close, you do not get any acceptance. You do not get any approval. You do not get any indication or sign of acknowledgement because the river wants to merge into the ocean. It is not an easy job. Unless the river learns to be so humble as to flow downward, allowing the sea to flow upward, above, overflow, merger is not possible.

So this physical closeness is a meeting point. It is a point of encounter. Physical closeness is a point of challenge, whether the river is prepared to lose its name or not; whether the river is prepared to lose its state or not. Unless river is ready to lose its identity, unless the river forgets its name, form and taste, the river can never merge in the ocean. That is the point of clash.

When once the river is in the ocean, it becomes ocean, no more a river. All rivers merge in ocean. When once the river merges in the ocean, there is no separateness. There is no identity. There is no craving. There is nothing to boast of. There's nothing to feel proud of because it has become part and the whole of the sea itself. It is a part and the whole also. As it was merging, it was a part to begin with. As the merger was complete, it is the whole. Closeness means being one with the whole; becoming whole, not remaining a part. Closeness is the very life of the being. It touches the very life, the very existence, the very being, not the personality.

So unless we are prepared to forget our identity, unless we are prepared to forget all our egos, all our pride, all the so-called personalities, the sea will not accept us. The river can go close to the ocean. Yes, you are free to go so close. But the ocean will not accept it. So, physical closeness is an attempt. Spiritual closeness demands of us being a non-entity, forgetting one's own identity such that he becomes a whole, but not a part. A drop becoming an ocean. That's all. The drop does not exist any longer. It is the spirit. It is a state of total surrender.

Somebody asked, "Can there be total surrender, or can it be partial?" Somebody asked me. Why? Because a book is published in Telugu, meaning "Total Surrender". Somebody asked me, "Sir, how do you justify this title, 'Total Surrender' ?" But I said, "To the best of my knowledge, surrender is total and not partial. Surrender itself is total. Unless it is a total, you cannot call it surrender. It cannot be part-time surrender or it cannot be 50% surrender or surrender in the morning, freedom in the afternoon! It cannot, impossible!" So, surrender is total. Surrender is whole, but not a part. So, closeness, being close spiritually, means total surrender.

Physical closeness is worldly. From the worldly point-of-view, we can be very close. In fact I don't mean everybody, but I mean the majority. More than being close to Swami, many people want others to know that he is close to Swami! Being known is more important than being. I am reminded of "Twelfth Night", the Shakespearean comedy, where the Duke loves the heroine, Viola. He's more happy with the idea of being in love than in actually loving Viola, the heroine in "Twelfth Night".

So more than being close, some want it to be known that they are close! It is nothing but ego. It is nothing but pomp. It is nothing but show. It is nothing but aggrandizement, publicity, vanity. It is all an act of vanity, that physical closeness.

But the spiritual closeness is humility. Spiritual closeness is humility. It is so humble. Spiritual closeness is what we call adoration, respectfulness, reverence, friendliness, loveliness, not merely being a friend. Kindly understand: Physical closeness can make you a friend. But spiritual closeness will develop a quality of friendliness.

Friend and friendliness are different. You can be a friend to one or two. If you're a politician, you can be friends to many, but with none in the world excepting votes - selfish interests. You can be friend to a limited number of people. But you can be friendly with any number of people. You can be friendly with plants. You can be friendly with dogs. You can be friendly with cats. You can be friendly with the entire Nature because the Nature is a reflection of God.

Sarvam Vishnumayam Jagat. The whole world, the whole cosmos, the whole universe is the reflection of God. If anyone condemns the world, he stands condemned. You cannot condemn this world. Some people say, "I am disgusted with this world!" The world has not done anything to you. The breeze has not done anything to you. Mountains have not done anything to you. The gigantic, huge trees have not done anything to you. The gushing waves of the ocean have not done anything to you. The beautiful valleys have not done anything to you. Wonderful, panoramic, excellent sunrise, beautiful sunrise, has not done any harm to you. The excellent sunset, beautiful scenario of sunset, has not done anything to you. The dew marvel, dewdrop, falling on the rose petal, shining like a pearl, has not done anything to you. The coo-coo birds, the nightingale, the morning birds singing have not done anything to you.

If you still say, "I am disgusted with the world," well, we are disgusted with you! God is disgusted with you because the whole world is so beautiful. He made this world so beautiful for you and for me. We cannot condemn this world. The peacock with such wonderful colors, as he begins to dance in the morning, your heart jumps in joy! The heart also dances. The heartbeat will be in accordance with the steps of the dancing peacock. The peacock has not done anything to you. How can you ever be disgusted with this world? How can you be frustrated in this world? How can you be disappointed in this world? How can you be hopeless in this world? How do you find yourself miserable in this world? How and why do you feel sad in this world?

"I feel sad in this world. I am not interested in this world because I want to do business in this world. I want to make a business in this world, so I have not seen the beauty of this world. I value money, but I don't value the splendor of Nature. I value coins, but I don't value the beauty in the music of the nightingale or a coo-coo bird. I am more bothered of my bank accounts and share market, stock market. Everything is a patent thing. I am ready to patent oxygen also. I am even ready to patent sunlight if possible!"

Utter greed, utter selfishness, man's weakness, man's business- mindedness, only make you fed up with this world. For there cannot be a paradise, a heaven, more than this world where we live in because paradise is not a separate place. Heaven is not present anywhere else. Heaven and paradise are very much here. Moments of joy, occasions of happiness, the state of bliss, beautiful and positive receptivity to music, sensitivity towards Nature, friendliness towards the organic world and all the living creatures will make the world so beautiful!

We have no time to enjoy Nature. We have no time because, if it were left to us, we are ready to do business in the night time also! Only because the body does not permit this, do we go to sleep. If the body is active, if body does not want food and drink and sleep, yes, let us make coins! Let us make rupees! To take with us along with the body to the graveyard! We don't enjoy the Nature. We don't enjoy the beauty of the world because our values have been different. Our calculations have been different.

My friends, that's the reason why Bhagavan says, "Nature is the best teacher. Life is the best preacher." Life is the best preacher. Nature is the best teacher. To be close to God means to be close to Nature; to be close to friendliness; to be close to loveliness; to be respectful to Nature; to be graceful towards Nature; enjoy the beauty of Nature; enjoy the music of life; enjoy the dance of life. That is being close to God.

We want to be close to God. Why? To name my grandson. Whether God names him or not, by the time my grandson grows up, he'll find a better name than what I would have given him. He'll pick up some beautiful Hollywood name...why not? So, we want to be close to Bhagavan for individual, personal, selfish reasons. So we lose the very beauty of it. We lose the very beauty of it.

I tell you my own bitter experience, which you may not love to hear. But it is a reality. My life has not been a sequence of happinesses, has not been a sequence or a series of successes-after-successes in procession. No. I, too, had many bitter experiences. Of course I don't take you to all those details. Not worth it. But here how we lose the charm or miss the beauty is what I want to tell you:

It was those early days of my stay in Brindavan, Bangalore. In the early days, I did not know the tradition. I did not know the precedents. I did not know the practices. That happened to be a New Year's Day. Some elders stopped (elders meaning Presidents, Conveners, that level). They were holding some flowers. I didn't know why they were holding them.

'Why should you pluck the flower and hold it? I can understand the plant keeping its head up. If the flower can raise its head, attached to the plant, the plant can feel the pride of it. I pluck it, I kill it, I murder it and hold it as if it is my grandfather's property! What a shame it is! I pluck the flower. I injure it. I hurt it. I make it ugly. A flower attached there to a plant is so beautiful, so lovely, so attractive, so charming, full of fragrance and aroma, with a message to convey, and vibrations to touch. But I pluck it and hold it. What a dirty game it is! I did not understand this meaningless act.' So I was thinking to myself.

Then someone said, "You should have one."

"I didn't like you having it! Why should you say that I should have one?"

They said, "This is the practice."

I was afraid that I might lose my job if I didn't follow the army people. Somehow I said, " I don't have a flower. What am I to do now? Swami may come anytime."

Someone gave me a flower. I was holding it on hand. Our good God came, opened the doors at Trayee Brindavan, Bangalore, Whitefield. He wore a smiling face that morning, a beautiful face, the red robe, beautiful red robe (a challenge to the color of the rose petal itself!), the face beaming with joy and smiling, catching the attention of everybody, and the forelocks of the hair dancing to the breeze, excellently to the beat and the sound like a lullaby. God walked down step after step.

Immediately He looked at those two in the front, smiled and took those two flowers and blessed them, while I'm on the other side, nicely, conveniently ignored! Not on the list! As if I am a non-entity, ethereal and not physical! Swami went straight to that place to give darshan.

What shall I do now with this flower??? Shall I throw it? Shall I keep it? What for? God already left! I was just holding it like that (showing his arm outstretched). Within myself, 'O good God, when we have come here for darshan, when everyone started looking at Your beautiful face, appreciating the sunrise as at Kanya Kumari, Cape Cameron...(at Cape Cameron people go and wait for sunrise. People wait and watch the sunset there too, at Cape Cameron in India, right at the bottom of the map. Such a beautiful scene!)...When people are anxious to have Your morning darshan, all my concentration was on that silly flower, which is not mine.

Swami went there, went round all the devotees, and then slowly He started coming. My hand is paining, still that flower in hand! Well, He looked at me. Shall I go and hand over? I dare not. Would He come and collect it? I am not sure. Shall I throw it at His Feet? I have no guts to do it. I feel like doing all these! I was just holding like that flower outstretched helplessly! God looked at me, walked into His Mandir and closed the door!

Shall we still stand till the evening darshan? The flower may fade away, may lose its beauty, and as the flower falls down and fades out, the petals separating themselves, it will be laughing at my position. It will be cursing me for falling into the wrong hands! I was feeling very badly.

Suddenly the door opened! And Swami said, "Oh, oh, oh, where is your flower?" He took it!

That day I determined NOT to take a flower in my lifetime! Why? Because instead of Swami, the flower has become a center of attraction. Instead of Swami, the flower has become a center of concentration. Instead of meditating on Swami, I was reflecting on the flower!

My friends, we lose the charm of Bhagavan. We miss the beauty of Bhagavan. We miss this golden opportunity of being with Him when you have things like letters, flowers, requests, favors. Gone! Just as we have spoiled our own relationship with Nature, we have become indifferent towards Nature.

We are indifferent to Nature which is very much evident by way of air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, soil pollution, oil pollution, not to mention mental pollution. Our total neglect, our absolute disrespect and lack of reverence towards Nature, has already been reflected at the world level by the 'greenhouse effect' or what you call 'global warming' or 'ozone holes'. That only shows man's lack of respect towards Nature. Though living in Nature, we have even cut off our relationships with Nature. We have misused Nature. We have abused Nature. We have made it ugly.

My friends, let us not commit the same mistake with the Creator! We made this mistake with the Creation. Let us not repeat this same mistake with the Creator! People say, "We are not happy in this Creation because we have abused it. I am not blissful in this Nature because I have misused it. Let me not repeat the same mistake with the Creator, God Himself! Let me enjoy Him. Let me have the excitement of watching His face. In fact, when I am not bothered of anything else, I can enjoy."

So long as the mind is crowded - and our mind is crowded - the mind has no space for God to be there. The mind has no space for the Divine thoughts. Mind has no space for the spiritual sentiments to enter. Mind is overcrowded.

I may be permitted to say a simple experience of many people. Many people observe silence. They love silence. They impose silence on everybody. But what silence is it? They're tight-lipped! They don't talk. They want to be alone, but they are in a crowd! Mind is crowded, always thinking of families, always thinking of belongings, because a fact - truth is always bitter - the ashram store's rush is more than the rush for darshan! Please observe this! Any stock that comes to the store here will be exhausted in an hour! It is a heavy rush! So, I am silent, but very busy thinking when I should go to the stores to have some Choco-Bar or vanilla or ice cream. I'm crowded! The brain is full of the store, but I am silent, tight-lipped.

So, though one is alone, he is in a crowd because his brain is crowded. It is not the physical numbers that count. It is not the physical, numerological individuals around. It is your mind that is important. Silence means empty mind. Silence means thoughtlessness. Silence means absence of mind. Silence means absence of desire. Silence means without any ulterior motive. Silence means absence of selfishness and self interest. Silence means absence of ego, pride, and jealousy. Silence means absence of individuality or personality. Thoughtlessness, emptiness, being totally vacant - that is real Silence. And that real Silence helps you to be spiritually close to God. If one wants to be spiritually close to God, he should empty himself. When I am full of the desire, when full of so many of plans, yes, there's no time for God to get in nor any place for God to get in. It's only that we have to empty ourselves.

So my friends, we have to understand clearly what this closeness actually means. But though I might say this for any length of time, but yet I shall not miss an opportunity to sit very close to Him. Is it not hypocrisy? Is it not a double standard? No, my friends. Let me explain what real closeness is in terms of Bhagavan's Discourses. I shall not interpret in my own way. I shall not commit that mistake. I never committed nor would do so in the future. I take the help of Swami's Discourses to explain things.

What is real closeness? Why closeness? What is the benefit by being close to Bhagavan?

Swami gave a beautiful example: Here is an iron rod. Here is a fire. Keep the iron rod close to the fire. What happens? The iron rod becomes red-hot. The iron rod, hitherto dusty, rusty, brown, and dirty, when once it is close to the fire, it becomes red-hot. That is closeness. That means the iron rod becomes one with the fire, acquiring its qualities of redness, being hot, and the capability to burn. It means all the traits, all the qualities, all the attributes of the fire are noticed in this iron rod, due to its being so close.

So when I say, "I am close to God", the meaning is that it is necessary that I should be Godly. The one who is close to God should be Godly. There should be Godliness in him. But is it demonic being so close? Well, the very word 'closeness' has a different meaning altogether. This closeness has after all gone in vain, has gone to the brain, an opportunity missed, an opportunity misused, if the iron cannot become hot. If it cannot get hot, either something is wrong with the iron or there is no fire at all. Or the iron has got some chemical which would not allow it to be burned, which would not allow it to be red-hot, some chemical, some fluid or other.

So if we are not Godly, if the Godliness is missing in us, the closeness has lost its objectivity. The closeness has lost its very purpose. The closeness has become meaningless. The closeness is absurd or useless. Being close to God, if you are not Godly, it is an investment that is lost in a business. The investment lost in a business makes you miserable. Similarly, if our closeness to God will not help us to be Godly, that is a closeness gone.

My friends, why do I speak of that? Because being close to Bhagavan, staying in the same place, being with Him and seeing Him every day, and often listening to Him, all of us (in fact, beginning with me - I am not excluding myself from anybody. Perhaps I am the last and the least of all of you. I am nobody in front of you. I am highly aware of that) should know the purpose of this closeness: To be Godly, to be friendly, to be lovely - these are the purposes and the objectives of this closeness.

And when once you are spiritually close to God, even if you are in the twentieth row, even if you are in the fiftieth row, even if you are in San Jose, California, or Los Angeles or Tokyo, Japan, yet you are near to Him. Air India may take a couple of hours to your destination. Lufthansa might promise you an earlier arrival time. But spiritual closeness will take you to Swami then and there itself!

When you put on the switch elsewhere, when you put on the amplifier over there, when you put on the switch elsewhere, the mike starts working here. The fan starts rotating here, though the switches are elsewhere. Similarly, we may be anywhere. But working begins there and then itself. This is spiritual closeness. This is spiritual awareness, then and there itself.

Physical closeness may take some time. My son is staying far away from here. My daughter is also staying far away from here. For them to be with me or for me to be with them, is a question of time and space. Physical closeness requires time and space: Darshan time - 7:00 AM; Darshan time - 3:30 PM; Darshan time, sit there in Kulwant Hall. Time and space are required for physical closeness.

But for spiritual closeness, there are no requirements of time or space. God has to present Himself any time you want, any time you demand. Any time you call for Him, He's at your beck-and-call, at your doorstep because the switch is in your hands now. This holding the switch such that you're in a state of company with the Lord, in His Company, in His Proximity, enjoying the nectar of Divinity, this is spiritual closeness. Spiritual closeness is beyond time and space. Spiritual closeness is psychological. It is not material.

God, as I said in the beginning, is not a person. God is not an object. God is subject, but not an object. Subjectivity is our relationship with Him, not objectivity. God is not a person, so our personality will not help us to be close to Him. God is a phenomenon and hence our attitude will take us closer to Him. As He is not an object, a thing, we cannot count Him in terms of time and distance.

So, as He is not conditioned by Nature, we cannot express Him. We cannot think of Him. We can only experience Him. So my friends, make every opportunity of establishing rapport with Bhagavan, contact with Bhagavan, psychologically, mentally, intellectually. Try to experience Him within, which is the most important.

That's the reason why when Bhagavan passes by the darshan lines and whenever anyone wants to have padnamascar, He says in Telugu, "Do it within! Do it within! Do it within!" Do padnamascar within. "Why? What does it mean, O God? You allow some people to take it without (on the outside, meaning physically), and you want me to take it within (inside, meaning mentally)? What is this partiality? I think God is impartial. Why do You say, 'Take padnamascar' there, and You ask me to take it from within?"

My friends, it depends upon our own samskara, our own awareness, our own understanding of the Divinity. To those who can experience Him anywhere, to those who feel Him anytime, Bhagavan will say, "Do it within." To those who need that external touch, to those who are in need of physical padnamascar, of a direct expression of it, who need that kind of external contact with Him, He allows them, "Come on do it. Come on do it." Those who can feel Him, it is not necessary. Because where are God’s Feet? God’s Feet, if they are here, I can take padnamascar. When His Feet are everywhere, where can you take His padnamascar? Where? They are everywhere.

Where do you want to breathe air? "I want to breathe in Delhi." And you want to be breathless in Puttaparti or what? Where can you breathe? You can breathe everywhere, as air is everywhere. "Where shall I have water? Near the river?" And you are not going to drink water here? Water is everywhere. You can drink water everywhere. The only thing is you should have the hunger or appetite to eat. You should have the thirst to drink. You should have the desire to experience. You should have the yearning. You should have the prayer. You should have that pining. You should have that longing to experience Him. It’s not simply, "Food is available. I can eat." Without appetite you may eat, but you cannot digest. You may eat, but you cannot assimilate. You may eat, but you cannot enjoy.

So, there are some who do not enjoy Him. There are some who are not ecstatic. There are some who are not blissful. Why? Because they have no appetite. While singing bhajans, you find such people. See their faces, whether they really enjoy bhajans or not, I often tell my students: If their faces are colorless, waterless, tasteless, like oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen gases, when they sing bhajans and there is no smile on their faces, when they do not sing full-throated, then they are a dead log of wood! It is like throwing pearls in front of swine! Is there no expression on his face? Supposing I say, "Here’s cheese and ice cream!" Saliva starts oozing out naturally. "Here is a pie or a donut…milkshake! Cheese!" Ahhh! But "Rama" or "Krishna"…no. People show no interest in chanting these Divine names with heartfelt enthusiasm.

So this thirst for God, this hunger, this appetite, these are wanting in many of us. That keeps us at a distance. But not in reality. God is in fact so close to me, to everyone. But as there is no appetite, so we don't find the taste in chanting the name of God, like Rama and Krishna. God is so close to you. But we say, "I am not thirsty." So we don't gain the ambrosia, the nectar, the cool drink of God. Why? Because we're not thirsty.

So my friends, have appetite, hunger, and thirst for Bliss, to become one with Him. Mother will not be happy watching the child from a distance. Mother feels happy in hugging the child. Child is happy in hugging the mother, clasping her neck with both of its little hands. That is possible only when there is true affection, not "Hi! Hi!" or the political waving of the hand.

Most of us, we fold our hands in Namascar when Swami comes out on the verandah, something like military salute. "Oh, Swami's coming!" Hands together in Namascar. "He left." OK, fine. Hands go back down at our side. So it has become mechanical, everything. Therefore we lack the beauty. We don't understand the freshness. We have become indifferent. We have lost the very taste of life.

So my friends, spiritual closeness is more important than physical closeness. That is the topic of this morning.

May Bhagavan help us to develop more of interest in Him so that we may hunger for Him. We must search for Him such that He would be the feast for all of us, such that life is a festival. My friends, let us not call life boredom. Life is not boredom. No, no, no, no, no! Life is music. Life is dance. Life is a festival. Life is a celebration. That is the life with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

May Baba be with you forever and ever more!

Thank you.

Sai Ram.

We meet again same day, same time next week.

Anil Kumar ended his talk by chanting the bhajan, "Sai Narayana, Narayana...."

Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityormaa Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

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