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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
September 21, 2000

Talk given to the Vysya Bank Staff and Friends by Anil Kumar on September 21st, 2000.



OMů OMů OMů

Sai Ram.

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of our Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

how to be successful in life!

Bhagavan Baba's message has got a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional approach to various walks of human life, pursuits and endeavors. And hence it is absolutely important to everyone of us to know what Swami has to say to each and everyone of us: to professionals, to educationalists, to bankers, to businessmen, and so on and so forth. As professionals, working in a bank like this which is of national stature, all working as doctors or professors or policemen, in our own chosen vocation, how to be successful in life?

Most often we think that spirituality is a topic to be thought of after retirement; that spirituality is a thing that speaks of life-after-death, a promise and a hope. That is not so. Spirituality speaks of success on earth. Spirituality speaks of competence in our life. Spirituality demands efficiency in our chosen path of life. We have got to be competent. We have got to be efficient. We must be successful. That is spirituality.

Spirituality is not something like closing your eyes and sitting straight, limited to the early hours of the morning or limited to late in the night and such odd physical exercises. They are all futile. We have got to be updated as professors. We have got to be competitive in our business field. We have got to be experts in our own chosen path of life. It is in this context that I would like to draw your attention to certain points referred to by Bhagavan Baba in several of His Discourses.

Point One: How to be successful in life:

Swami speaks of the mundane, worldly aspects. Bhagavan believes the world and thereafter are one and the same. Spirituality and the world are one and the same. They are not different. We divide and therefore we confuse ourselves and others also. We are not supposed to do that. In fact, both are same - the obverse and the reverse of the same coin.

The first point is: to be successful in life, we should not have heavy luggage. What do I mean? From the worldly sense also, if we travel with heavy luggage, as we have to shift from one airport to another airport, we may miss our baggage. Those that have just a carry-on bag can straightaway walk into the aircraft safely, while those who have to collect the baggage will have to walk long distances. In the meantime, we may miss the aircraft also! So less luggage, more comfort. From the worldly sense, we can shift from one platform to another platform, from one airport to another airport, from one destination to another easily, if the luggage is less. That is the railway slogan. In every railway compartment you find this slogan. Bhagavan often refers to this in His Divine Discourses.

But I mean in a different sense. We have got heavy luggage. Apart from the material world, we have got heavy luggage which we are carrying in our heads. What is that heavy luggage? We have to reduce our luggage.

The first luggage that we carry are grudges, quarrels, bickerings, misunderstandings, and differences of opinion with our colleagues, with our friends, with our relations, with our boss, with those who work with us. We always have this kind of grudge against somebody or difference of opinion with somebody. This is heavy luggage that we carry with us. We have to unload it. We cannot carry it any longer. This luggage of grudges, this luggage of differences of opinions with others, will add on when we have things like malice or hatred against individuals. Hatred against individuals will also increase the animosities. So, the first piece of luggage or baggage which we can drop off conveniently is holding a grudge against others or holding differences of opinion against others or animosities against others. That's the first thing that one has to give up in order to be successful in life.

The second luggage, the second baggage that we carry with us, is the sense of guilt. "I have done something wrong. I was bad in the past. I did a crime. I committed worst of the crimes. I committed a sin. I committed a blunder, a mistake." We carry on this same feeling of guilt. This adds to our luggage. In fact the sense of guilt is more dangerous. The sense of guilt is a greater sin than a sin committed. A sin committed is of less magnitude than the sense of guilt. So my friends, the sense of guilt would add on to our luggage, will add on to our heaviness, the head load. That we have to unload.

We have to give up any sense of guilt right from now on. That's what Bhagavan often says. "At least from today, give up one of the bad things that you have. Past is past. At least from today, try to be good." It only means that Bhagavan doesn't want us to entertain this sense of guilt, the feeling that one has committed some kind of crime sometime ago, which will affect our performance in our office. If I go on brooding over the past, if I go on worrying over the mistakes I did last year, this year's work is sufficiently spoiled! So this head load of the sense of guilt has got to be unloaded. This is the second extra weight that we are carrying.

The third extra weight that we carry is this: Sometimes I have done something bad to you. I have hurt your feelings. I have hurt your sentiments. I have not been so courteous to you. Perhaps when the boss calls me, I have not responded to him immediately. When the customer comes to the bank, I am not sensitive. I am not receptive. Non-receptivity or insensitivity or lack of interest, absence of response, that's what happens in a family. Sometimes the husband feels so sorry because the wife was adamant. The husband feels very bad because the wife didn't prepare that delicious dish that the husband wanted. So sometimes we feel so badly.

At that time, for having said something bad to you, for having hurt your feelings, for having hurt your sentiments, for having been so rude to my boss, for not having been efficient, for not having been present at the spot where I am supposed to be during office hours, I carry this extra luggage for not saying, "I am sorry, Sir." Just three words: I AM SORRY. If we say this, yes, the heaviness in our chest will leave - immediately go! "I am sorry." I can tell my wife, "I am sorry." She can as well tell me, "I am sorry." I can tell my boss, "I am sorry, Sir. I am sorry." That clears everything.

My friends, these are the three extra pieces of luggage which just add on to the heaviness of our head, the tensions that are built-up and the blood pressure that shoots up and upsets our body and spoils our physical health. This is the first thing which I want to bring to your attention.

To be successful in life, the first thing is to cut short all these three baggages or packages. The second point to be successful in life is this: the question of why?

'You get the promotion. I don't get the promotion. Why you should get it? Why not me here? Why don't I get it? Why should you get it? Why?'

' When I am suffering, why me alone in this world? While the whole world is jumping and dancing in ecstasy and joy, how is it that I alone suffer in this world? Why me alone?'

'You're happy. Why should you be happy? Why should you receive promotions all the time? Why are you successful all the time? Why not me?'

This question 'why' is a thing that has got to be analyzed in order to be successful in life. The question of 'why' has two aspects: the positive and the negative, the positive 'why' and the negative 'why'.

What is the negative 'why'? 'Why should you get promotion? Why do I not get it? Why should you be happy? Why not I be happy? Why should you be popular? Why can't I be equally popular, if not more? Why should you have so much of bank account? Why I don't have it? Why not?' So this is negative 'why'. 'Why I alone suffer in life? I have got so many problems in life? Why alone? Why me alone?' These are all negative 'why'.

But there is positive 'why'. What is positive 'why'? 'Why should I feel so bad for the incidents in my life? Why should I be upset with these things in my life? Why should my performance in the office or in the bank be effected because of my life? Why problems should bother me? Why can't I face the challenges in life? Why can't I be successful in life?'

'Should I be upset by these things? Should I spoil the mood of everybody because of this? Should I bear or should I put on a serious, long face because of my problems. Should I be carried away by these incidents or accidents in life? Why should I be affected? Can't I take it easy? Can't I understand the very fabric of life: that nothing is permanent, that all are passing clouds, that not even a single cloud is permanent? The clouds come and pass off. Not even one is permanent.'

'Why can't I understand the basic thing in life? Why should I be upset? Because of differences of opinion, why should I put on a long face? Because of reversion, because of absence of promotion, because of an unexpected transfer, why should I be upset and be hospitalized? Why? Why should I be a victim to these things? Why can't I face the challenges in life?' So this is positive 'why'.

So, my friends, in order to be successful in life, the question of 'why' should be on the positive side but not on the negative side. This is the second point to which I want to draw your attention.

The third aspect is this: What is it that comes as an obstacle to be successful in life? Why a person is not successful? Why others are successful? What is the way to be successful in life? What is the greatest obstacle? It is only ego. It is ego that prevents me from being successful. Because of ego, I am not able to communicate freely.

'I think that I am more fortunate than you. Therefore I don't talk to you. I think I know more than you. So I don't talk to you. I think I am more blessed than you. Therefore I am not able to communicate with you.' This kind of self-chosen isolation, this sort of self-preferred state of solitude, this sort of self-imposed state of loneliness - loneliness, solitude, isolation, is self-imposed. Why? Because of ego. Many people are not able to smile freely. Many people are not able to communicate with people freely. Why? Ego. That is the problem. So a successful man is non-egoistic.

Sometime back Bill Clinton was on an official visit to this country. When he was there in the Parliament, I watched Clinton's movements there on the TV. He visited Hyderabad, the state capitol, also. Right from the morning 10 o'clock until the evening at 4 o'clock, we could have live telecast of Bill Clinton's visit. I should tell you how that man is moving and jumping around, shaking hands with everybody, 500 Members of the Parliament! He was shaking hands with everybody! There in Hyderabad, he was talking to everybody, just everybody. So much so that the commentator himself was tempted to say, "While our Administrators were stiff, the President of America was so free with everybody."

In order to be free with everybody, you have got to be non-egoistic. Egoistic man cannot be free with anybody. So my friends, a successful man cannot afford to be egoistic. That point I wanted to bring to your attention.

Now there are two aspects in this ego. How to be away from this ego? How to give up this ego? It goes with us naturally. When ten people say, "Sir, you're a great man!", the ugly hood of ego raises its head. Yes, naturally it happens. If you people say, "You're simply fantastic!", this man thinks he is so. But it is not like that.

How to be free from ego? There are two points here. The one point is this: recollection. What is recollection? Observe silence for some time every day. Observe some silence, a period of silence, half an hour a day at least. All great people prescribe this. Paramahamsa Yogananda wants us to observe silence. Swami Sivananda emphasizes on silence. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba wants us to observe Himalayan silence, which is observed more in breach than in observance! He wants us to observe silence. Why? Bhagavan said:

"It is only in silence that the Voice of God is heard."

"The Voice of God is heard only in the depths of Silence."

Why? If you go on talking, if you keep yourselves busy and noisy, you'll not be able to notice the Footsteps of God, walking behind you. God is walking towards you, and you'll not be able to hear His Footsteps if you are so noisy and so busy. Therefore, a period of observance of half an hour is prescribed.

In fact, the famous philosopher JK (whom you call J. Krishnamurti) says, "The half an hour of silence that you observe a day is the time that you spend for yourself." All the rest of the time is spent for your family. All the rest of the time is spent for your profession. All the rest of the time is spent for the advancement of your career. But what is it that you spend really for your being, for the sense of being, for the true Self?

This is what they call 'recollection'. 'Recollection' is a period of silence. During the period of silence, you turn inward and you watch yourself. And that period of silence helps you to be non-egoistic later.

The second aspect is this: Compassion. Compassion is an antidote for ego. Egoistic man will never be compassionate. A compassionate man is non-egoistic. To be free from this ego, there is compassion. As Bhagavan puts it, "Compassion should not be a sort of fashion, as we find today." Compassion has come down to the level of fashion today by the way of advertisement and wide publicity. I am amazed to tell you that on the three wings of the ceiling fan, some people have their names written - the donors' names. I wonder how they can read their names when the fan goes in full swing??? Perhaps they want power cut all the time, so that they can read their names? How horrible! See, I was not able to believe that!

Compassion, what is compassion? That which is free from publicity; that which is free from advertisement; that which is done in secret; that which is done without the notice of anybody. Compassion is a solution to be non-egoistic. That's the way to be non-egoistic. So a successful man can never hope to entertain ego at any point of time.

And then there are certain things, some simple points, I'll just tell you. How to be free from ego:

The first point that was suggested was this: In the company of friends, in the company of relations, don't show off yourself. "I am that. I am this." Because the moment you leave that place, they make fun of you! Don't show off yourself in the company of strangers and relations, if you want to be free from ego.

The next one is this: If you want to kill your ego, do not talk too much because when we talk too much sometimes we are led to a situation to praise ourselves: "You know what I did? You know what I was? You know what I have been? Have you ever cared to know my achievements and accomplishments? What happened to you? When the whole world knows me, don't you know me?"

So, by talking too much, rather unknowingly, unwittingly, incidentally, we may indulge in the dirty process of self-praise. Self-praise and blaming others are the worst of the sins, according to our Scriptures. So, by talking too much, we may be committing these two sins. That way, observe strictly limited talk, to avoid making such mistakes. This is necessary, as Bhagavan says. Of course, about spiritual matters, about academic matters, excepting personal, yes, talk may go on for any length of time. But personal things, they should never come into the picture at all, in order to maintain all cordiality.

So my friends, a successful man should observe limited talk so that any individual references would not come. And he should not show off himself in the company of friends and others.

The next one is this: A successful man believes the transformation comes through vibration, not by word. By vibrations, a successful man would be able to convey his message, not by words. And a successful man understands that his prayer brings peace, not simply his speeches. More than speeches, prayer works wonderfully. More than words, vibrations are more effective. This a successful man should necessarily observe.

Another point how to give up ego is also this: Don't tell others your achievements and your accomplishments. No. At any stage. Somebody should come and say, "Sir, you are that and this!" It's alright. Rather tell him, "Don't you know this." So, a successful man would never boast of himself, of his achievements or accomplishments at any period of time. Why? Because when you understand how little we are, we'll never boast of ourselves.

Bhagavan gives a beautiful example. I am always tempted to quote Bhagavan repeatedly because no contemporary philosopher has ever touched on various aspects of human life as much as Bhagavan Himself. He gave one example: Why should you feel proud of yourself? In the galaxy, in the lunar system, in the solar system, in a number of - infinite number - of bodies like planets spread all over the universe, what is it which is smallest? It is Earth which is the smallest. And in this Earth which is the smallest, one third is taken away by water. And the remaining land, after all, what is the size of the land of this planet Earth, when compared to planets and the stars, the sun and the moon? The Earth comes to the size of an ant! India comes to the size of eye of an ant. Andhra Pradesh comes to the size of a speck in the eye of an ant. Anantapur District, Puttaparti, is the speck of the speck of the speck of the eye of an ant's body! And in your house, what is your value? Better it not be said! Better we consult the housewife!

So as that is so, what is there to feel proud of in this life? Nothing! And if I am to feel proud of something in this world, I can certainly feel proud of my foolishness! 'No, there is no greater fool than me here! There's no other stupider than me!' Yes, one can feel proud of one's own stupidity, one's own ignorance, one's own foolishness. There's nothing to feel proud of in this world. Nothing. So, a successful man will never give any publicity, will never go on speaking of his own achievements, unless it is told by someone else.

Another point: The successful man always is aware of his inner being, of the true Self. What is the true Self? I am not going to philosophize the situation. This is not the time to spiritualize the situation. What is the Self? The self-confidence. When I go to my class or when you are at your seat in your bank, you have got all the confidence that you'll be very successful. Yes! Self-confidence, confidence in the Self! Not confidence in the post, not confidence in the office, not confidence in the organization. You should have confidence in yourself first. The organization may be great. If I don't have self-confidence, well, I will land in trouble and take my organization also into trouble. I have got the 'success car' with me. The car is the latest! Very good. But if I don't have self-confidence when I start driving it, I'll land myself in the hospital! That's all. So confidence in the Self is what a successful man has.

And a successful man is happy with the lot on hand. He is not over ambitious. He will not get extra aspirations. He will never try to run over or cross over or bypass anybody. A successful man estimates his accomplishments from time to time. 'What is it I have done? What is it I could achieve?' Yes, he's always contented because contentment is the hallmark of a successful man.

Bereft of contentment, he's very unsuccessful. That's the reason why we meet people with lots of money. We come across people with high positions, with high accomplishments, but yet with a sorrowful, miserable life. Why? No satisfaction. Why is there no satisfaction? Because there is no confidence to begin with. So self-confidence, it confers the self-satisfaction which is nothing but the contentment. 'I know what I have done. I am happy with my results.' That is self-satisfaction.

A successful man is also ready to go to any extent - he would not budge even an inch - and sacrifice his principles. He has got some principles. Yes. He has got certain values. More than anything in life, he cherishes those values much more. So one lives for values. This sort of value-oriented life is what we call 'self-sacrifice'. He's ready to sacrifice himself to uphold the values that he believes in. And finally, he understands his true nature. He finds his true identity, what you call 'self-realization'. These are messages from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A successful man must necessarily have these qualifications.

Then what is another aspect expected of a successful man? A successful man faces challenges in life with all courage. He will never run away. Supposing if anyone asks me, "Sir, would you take up this class, final year MSA class?" I might not have taken that subject all these thirty-eight years of my service. But people never expect me to say, "Sir, I don't know that." People never expect me to say, "Give it to another man." On the other hand, people expect me to say, "Why not! I'll certainly teach." Perhaps it expects, perhaps it requires some extra preparation. That's all.

Simply because you change from one table to another, from one counter to another, don't say, "Sir, I don't want the accounts section. I want cash section. I want reoccurring deposits section. I want safe deposit section." I don't confine myself to a single portfolio or a single job. No. I am supposed to be expert in every field. I am supposed to be expert. Yes. I can't lift my hands in helplessness.

I am reminded of a joke that Bhagavan said. It seems a person was suffering from a tooth problem - lower jaw, left side. Tooth problem, serious ache. He went to a dentist and said, "Doctor, Sir, pain, excruciating pain!" The doctor said, "Oh, I see. Which jaw? Is it upper jaw or lower jaw?" "Doctor, the lower jaw." And doctor tells him, "I am a specialist in the upper jaw. Go to the next dentist."

When he goes to the next dentist and says, "Oh Doctor, I am suffering from this problem!" "Oh, I see. Where? Lower jaw?" "Yes." "Where exactly?" "This corner, Sir." "Oh, I am expert in the front. Go next door!"

Too much of specialization sometimes makes our life miserable. Too much of specialization will make us cut off our links with the regular fabric of work, with the regular routine operation. We are supposed to do anything that comes to us. We are supposed to take it as a kind of challenge. A successful man will never run away from challenge. No! "Yes, I am ready to take it!" That's why Bhagavan says, "Life is a challenge. Meet it." How can you meet this challenge? How is it possible?

Supposing you ask me to speak on that which I do not know. Yes, I take it as a challenge. What else can I do? What is to be done? Shall I apply for casual leave tomorrow? Or say that I am running temperature or dysentery, which is not subject for verification? What is to be done now?

The one who faces challenges in life, in order to be successful, should always remind himself of one secret: that he is not alone. You are never alone. God is by your side to see that you are going to be successful. Why do you think that you are afraid of the challenges? Why do you think that you'll land up in failure? Why do you think that you are going to be unsuccessful? Certainly not! "I am prepared to face the challenges of life!" How? "God is with me. I am not alone. He sees to it that I will be triumphant, that I'll be successful, that I'll be victorious at the end." This is an attitude of a successful man.

A successful man is very clear about his way of life, his goals, and his objectives. He knows clearly his objectives: what he wants to achieve, what is to be done, the procedures. He's very well-informed. He's very practical. Yes. I can tell you in this aspect, certain of the things like this:

A successful man is fully aware of his abilities. Supposing you want me to calculate. I know that right from my childhood, I am very, very weak in mathematics. Even domestic bills I am successfully a failure! Yes. I was never a successful man in mathematics, arithmetic, calculus, simple addition, subtraction. The very numbers are enough to frighten me! So if I say, "Well I'll be doing that", it only means I have no estimation of my caliber. Supposing one student comes and says, "I want to dance in front of Swami. Would you train me?" "Yes, I'll train you." I don't know ABC of dancing! To say that "I'll teach you dancing", it means foolishness!

A successful man is aware of his abilities and of his inabilities; of his capacities and of his incapacities; where he is strong and where he is weak. I cannot guide my boys in the task of dancing. I cannot guide my boys in classical music. I don't know that. I know how to listen and enjoy. But I cannot train anybody in classical music. So, a successful man should know his abilities, should be fully aware of the equipment that he has, of all the components that are available in and around him. And his method is very clear. His goals are clear.

The goal of a successful man lies in being selfless. That goal which is selfless, that goal which is unselfish, is the real goal of a successful man. Those people who have selfish interests as their goals in life, they are condemned. "I am a successful man, for example, because from the worldly point-of-view, I have got a couple of lakhs to my credit. I am in a very high position, successful man. But nobody speaks good of me." He's a fellow who minted money. "Do you think I am successful man? In spite of money, I am not successful. I might have been successful in occupying a high position, contributing nothing to this organization. I am a manager of this bank. Bank accounts have not gone up in number. Deposits have not gone in number. I am a manager, but I am not a successful manager!" You see?

So, a successful man knows what he is and his goal is always the organizational interest, institutional interest, but not individual interest. A man will never say, "I should be recognized. I should be appreciated. I should be patted on my back." No. A successful man will have the national goals, individual goals, organizational interests, but not individual, selfish interests or selfishness.

A successful man also has problems in life. But a successful man does not look like that. When we come across a successful person, with all his smiles, with all his cheers, jumping here and around, we think life is gala, so fine with him. Certainly not. He's able to overcome. He's able to control. He's able to put those problems under check, under control such that it would not tell on his face, such that he would not spoil the moods of his friends. He is capable of controlling, he is capable of swallowing his own problems. This is one of the qualities of a successful man. This is what Bhagavan always tells. Personal problems should be kept in topmost secrecy. Family problems will have to be hidden; they should not be shared.

Therefore, my friends, a successful man will be able to control his emotions. He should be able to control his feelings. Even in times of adversity, he'll be able to smile. One example...of course, from Puranas you have many examples...Ramachandra, when it was announced that he would be coronated the next morning, that face he has had at that time remained the same when it was later announced that he was not going to be coronated, that Bharata, in his place, was going to be coronated, that Rama had to go to the forest, that he had to spend all the time in exile. The same solemnity, the same face of dignity, the same expression of bliss continued on his face. No change.

If you grant my casual leave, I smile. If you say, "No, gentleman, you can't go on leave", well you don't want to see my face at all because it is so ugly for me to look at it, even for myself. When people don't oblige us, we feel so badly. We feel so much upset. We lose our temper. That is tragic.

A successful man never loses his temper. Even in the worst of the situations - You can tell to my face, "You are an idiot!" - I simply laugh because you don't know what I am, and you are what you have been telling, so you call me by names. You call me by names because you stand for that what you say. On the other hand, your words speak of your culture, your cultural background. Your behavior speaks of your parentage, of the society where you were brought up. Therefore you are like that. I can excuse you, that's all.

A successful man will keep his temper always under control, will control all his emotions and feelings, would be able to swallow all his problems, yet he continues to be happy, even in times of the worst situations. A simple example: We have A. B. Vajpayee. When he was made Prime Minister, fine. Then he was out of power because he lost just by one vote. He was equally happy. He was mentioning there in the United States of America that, "I became Prime Minister by an accident and I lost it by one vote!" What a balanced state of mind he has!

And not only that, Swami Ranganathananda was awarded Bharata Ratna, the highest title of this land. He was not proud about it. You know what he said? "You want to award me Bharata Ratna? I don't want it. I represent an organization, Ramakrishna Mission. If Bharata Ratna is to be awarded, Ramakrishna Mission should be awarded, not Swami Ranganathananada." That is the highest philosophy of life. Had it been given to me or to you, ahhhh! Newspaper advertisements, special issues, receptions, gala celebrations, felicitations, throughout the year, at least!

When it was announced that Mother Therese was awarded the Nobel Prize, do you know what she said? "After all, this is a recognition of poverty by the world. And this is the recognition, this is the awareness of the world of leprosy, of the poor state of affairs of lepers roaming about on the streets, uncared for, unhonored, unwept, unsung. The world community cares for the poor people. It is the recognition of poverty, not Mother Therese!" Ah! That is a sign of greatness of a person.

So a successful person is not bothered, is not ruffled by problems in life and he will be able to keep them under check always. That's one point which I really want to bring to your attention.

A successful man above all has got a fine sense of humor. We should make people laugh with us and never laugh at others. We should never laugh at people. We should laugh with people. When we laugh at people, you have enemies. When you laugh with people, you'll have friends. A sense of humor.

Do you ever find Bhagavan so serious anytime? I have not found it. Always happy, always blissful, always joking, fun. There's one gentleman by the name of Howard Murphet. Most of you must have heard his name. He wrote about four books. The first book, "The Man of Miracles", is popular all over the world. Most of the devotees of the Western hemisphere have gone into the mansion of Sathya Sai Divinity through the gates of the "Man of Miracles", his book. Beautiful work.

He underwent some operation from some appendicitis problem. After that, he came to see Swami. I was watching how our God would greet or would make some enquiry about this man, this grand old man. "Hey Murphet! Are you perfect?" He said. That is sense of humor. With that, even though that man must be having a little pain, it must have gone by that time.

And then there is also another man, Sinclair. Sinclair was there in Kodaikanal. He was expecting his wife. She was to join him in the last week of his stay there. Well in the meantime, Swami started teasing him. "Sinclair, can you declare when your wife is going to be here?" Ah! That man was very happy, as if she joined him at that very moment! A sense of humor - that keeps us alive. That keeps us friendly with people. My friends, please remember, seriousness is not the sign of spirituality. Seriousness is the sign of a sick man, not of a spiritual man because bliss is God and God is bliss.

And Bhagavan has gone one step beyond. He said, "The one who smiles, the one who is blissful is God. And the one who cries is human." If you want to be Divine, if you want to be truly spiritual, we should have a sense of humor, a kind of laughter. We should be able to enjoy. Yes.

It also so happened that one devotee came here. He's from a village and he's a rustic man, cut off from the madding crowds and the civilization. He had only one t-shirt and dhoti, also lifted to his knees. He was a well-built personality, dark in complexion, an agriculturist basically, living about 40 miles from my native place. He was sitting there for Bhagavan's darshan. He waited four days. Swami never looked at him. He was very much upset! That man got up immediately and said, "O God! You don't look at me after all. I came here four days back. Perhaps you care for officers! You care for top people, eh? I'm going!" He just said it loudly. All the people started looking at him, thinking, "What happened to him?"

At that time it was bhajan time. Swami came out and went to him straight, "Reddy, why are you so angry with Me? I am here for you! You had some fight with your wife, and she is there at home. You are nice here. Why are you bothered? I want to keep you here for some more days in peace so that you don't lose your peace by going back to your family, with your wife and all that. Be happy here! I want to keep you safe and secure. Instead of peace, why do you want to get upset?" That is the sense of humor. That man was so happy!

I also know another incident where Swami talks to people, cutting jokes like anything. One lady was feeling so sad that Swami didn't call her for interview. She went on feeling, 'O-ho, I don't have diamond-studded bangles, so You don't talk to me! And I am not VIP, so You don't like to look at me!' That was her feelings. That lady is right here on the campus. And Swami came straight to her and said, "I talk to those with diamond-studded bangles. I talk to those people with VIP wives. I talk to you also. OK? How are you?" That's the way how He talks.

Usually He talks with the boys, "Where have you gone?"

"Bhagavan, I have been to Madras."

"What did you do?"

"To enjoy I went there."

"Oh, enjoy? No, no. What do you mean by 'enjoy'? The joy that you get at the end is end-joy. End the joy, the so-called joy of life, this joy, but have that spiritual bliss!" That's what Bhagavan has said. Such simple words.

I can also tell you how He finds the sense of humor in the midst of tight work. I don't think that anyone of us can compete with Him so far as the head load of work, nor the sense of humor either, as the case may be. He was talking to children and He went on asking little children, "How many brothers have you?"

And the one boy says, "All are my brothers."

And He asked another boy, "How many sisters have you?"

"All are my sisters."

He asked another boy, "How many wives have you?"

He said, "All are my wife!"

"No, no, no. Excepting one, all are your wife? Is that so?"

It's the sense of humor that keeps us quite healthy, that makes us quite successful.

It seems a teacher wanted to admonish his student in the class. "Boy, you don't have any brains, you know! At your age, Washington was the class leader. He has all leadership qualities."

The boy got up and said, "Sir, at your age, he became President of America!"

The humor is wanted to lead a healthy life, to open up ourselves so that we don't get worked up, so that we are not tensed because of life situations. We should be so happy after all.

I also remember another occasion when Swami started telling people a simple joke. The philosophy today has come down to the level of reading. But it is not so. Philosophy has come down to the level of listening. Listening to a discourse, listening to a talk in a temple, they think that their berth in heaven is reserved. Certainly not. It is neither reserved nor preserved nor deserved! Mere listening, mere reading is not a guarantee to reach heaven. To tell this, Bhagavan gave an example:

It seems one house lady was listening to the discourses there in the temple continuously for so many months. Ultimately, it has gone into her head. She went home one day. She didn't draw water out of the well. She was just laying on the ground. Her poor husband came and said, "Why didn't you go to the well? Why didn't you draw water out of well? Why?"

The wife said, "Look here, honey! Why do you need well water? Don't you know there are three nerves in our body- Ida, Pingala, Sushumna - three important nerves in our body. One stands for Ganga, another stands for Yamuna, other stands for Saraswati. The water is continuously there in the human body! That's what I have learned there from the discourses in the temple," she said.

The fellow has understood! The wife has become psychic, if not spiritual! What to do? He cannot convince her any longer. So he got prepared and he started cooking, poor fellow! Then what he did was he made a special curry for his wife with extra chillies, soup with more of pepper and salt and chillies and all that, separate for his wife. This fellow had his food and started serving his wife. When she was about to start eating, it was so hot, because full of chillies, she said, "Water! Water!" And husband said, "There's Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati in your body! There's Ida, Pingala and Sushumna in your body! Why don't you help yourself?"

You see, these are the practical things that Bhagavan always tells. They are lovely stories, most interesting. He also cuts a number of jokes, I tell you. A sense of humor is a sign of a successful man. In fact He had cut a joke on our modern type of teaching: how we teachers teach our students and how students learn from us, and then, once we twist the question, well, they are gone! Bhagavan gave one example:

It seems it was a military camp. There were about 100 soldiers who were trained and they were about to leave the camp. On the final day, the major was to visit that camp and distribute the certificates. But the captain who is in charge of the camp wanted to prepare the soldiers because the major may prefer to ask some questions.

So the captain said, "Hey soldiers, don't worry! Tomorrow is the final day! You are going to leave to your places. The major, if he prefers, may put three questions: The first question is this, "What is your age?" You can say you are 21 or 20. The second question: "Since how long you have been here?" You can say, "For six months." Fine. The third question: "Are you happy here or happy at home?" Say that you are happy in both places, because if you say that you are happy here, it means you are starved there. For lack of food, you joined the military. And if you say that you are happy at home, it means we are not taking proper care of you. So better you say both are same!"

The three questions, all the fellows mugged up. Military people have their brains in the knee joints, as many people say, as Bhagavan always says. The major came. The first question became the second question; second question turned into first question. "Since how long have you been here?" "Twenty years." "What is your age?" "Six months." "Are you mad or am I mad?" "Both are same!"

Any amount of lecture, any length of narration, any high talk above our head, would not get into our brain so neatly, so straight, as when Bhagavan puts it like that. And He was also telling boys that you should use your common sense as you listen to your lessons in the classroom. He was telling us a fine story.

It seems in those days the teacher used to move from place to place after training the local people. He was traveling in a bullock cart, along with his student and all his luggage and baggage. He told his student, "Be watchful of all the luggage here!" And Guru started snoring because he is a retired man. Can't help it. One article after another article started coming out of this bullock cart. They started dropping on the ground!

Suddenly the teacher got up and said, "Hey! I lost so much of luggage! What happened to you?" The student said, "Sir, what did you tell me? You wanted me to watch. I was watching. That's all." "Chi! Chi! Useless fellow! You seem to be a dunce! Now I give you instructions: Whatever falls on the ground, pick it up. Put it back in the bullock cart!" "OK, Sir."

The bullock cart was running ahead. Now the bullock dropped dung. The fellow collected it and put it back in the cart. It fell on the face of the teacher! "Ayyo! What is it?!" "Sir, what did you say? Whatever that falls on the ground, you put it back. That's what you said." "Chi, chi, chi! You have not got the point! Now I give you the list of the articles in the cart now. Whatever that falls (that is on that list), pick it back up and put it there in the cart!" "OK, Sir!"

As the cart started moving, there was a milestone in its way, and the wheel hit the milestone, the cart tilted and the Guru fell down! The cart started proceeding. "Ayyo! Why do you go? Why don't you stop!?!" "Sir, in the list, you have not mentioned your name. Therefore, I am going."

Therefore, my friends, the sense of humor, a hearty laughter, is very essential to be healthy and successful in life.

A successful man is a man of gratefulness or gratitude. He is always grateful. Go through biography of Mahatma Gandhi. Go through the biography of Jawaharlal Nehru. Go through the biography of any great man. They always speak a few words of gratitude towards their parents, towards their teachers, friends, relatives, and those that guided them at every stage of their life.

Take Bhagavan as the best example. He remembers the elementary school teachers. After all, they must have taught Him very simple things - alphabets, etc. He remembers all his teachers, so many of them, so many teachers. Names He remembers and He gets excited when He goes on telling about those teachers. We should say that it is as if Bhagavan goes back to Uravaconda. Something like the cassette rewinding: He relives those school days! He goes on speaking very highly of his teachers. He speaks very highly of his friends. They are nobody today.

Sometime back I vaguely remember seeing a quite old man who could not walk freely, accompanied by his grandson, leaning on a pillar while waiting for darshan. Swami finished the rounds. He distributed all that He wanted to that morning. He made many, many rounds. But all of a sudden, He came out with a bag, walked towards this elderly person, and started taking out the items inside: "This is a dhoti for you. This is a saree for your wife." He went on explaining. 'Curiosity killed the cat', goes the saying. I wanted to know who he was. On enquiry, I came to know that he is Sathyanarayana Chetty of Bukkapatnam, His classmate. Bhagavan had to walk all along to give him that bag. Any Seva dal member would have done it. I would have been quite glad to jump at this opportunity. But He Himself walked all the distance and started giving.

Sometime back He was mentioning the names of the Dekena family. This is the last name, the family name. He mentioned at least 20 to 30 names of Dekena family members and He remembers people of forty years ago! I was wonderstruck! "I am Eternal. I am not new. I know everything." This is gratitude.

Bhagavan speaks of Raja Venkatagiri. Bhagavan speaks of Jamnagar Matha. Bhagavan speaks of G. Ramakrishna Rao. When He speaks of those things (of the past), ah-ha, He is ecstatic! He forgets all barriers of time. In Kodaikanal, most necessarily He gave two talks each on His associations with each of these earlier devotees. He's so happy. Those were the earlier days. They were the devotees of the past, the days of yore, those who could know His Divinity even then. That is a successful man's character. That was learned from Swami.

If you think you are God and learn nothing, what is the use? God has come down so as to teach through demonstration. By the example of His own life He wants us to learn. A successful man will always carry with him this trait of gratitude. And here in this gratitude, there are two points as Bhagavan said: (1) Always remember the good that others have done to you. (2) Always forget the good that you have done to others.

Forget the good that you have done. Why? If you remember the good that you have done, you'll be expecting something in return. You'll be expecting some act of grace, some act of thankfulness, some act of remembering. So, no expectation! Forget any good that you have done to others. Remember all the good done unto you by others.

The second thing Swami said, "Remember always the harm you have done to others. Forget the harm that others have done unto you." If you remember the harm done unto you by others, you'll be revengeful. You'll be full of vengeance. You'll be full of retort and retaliation. That's not the quality of a successful man. Forgive and forget. One should forgive and forget. That's what Bhagavan has said is the quality of a successful man.

Another important point of a successful man, of any man for that matter: Life is too short to find fault with others. Life is too short. When we go on thinking of the faults of others, our end will be so fast, so near. Instead of that, why can't we think of plus points instead of thinking of negative minus points of others. A successful man will not seek out the faults in others, but will seek out his own faults, and seek out others' merits. Find out others' merits and find out your own faults. This is the quality of a successful man. Holy Bible says, "Judge ye not, lest thou shalt be judged."

Last but not the least is the positive attitude. Positive attitude is the quality of a successful man. He may be in power or out of power. He may be in position or out of position. He has got personality for himself. He's respected. He's recognized. He's in demand. He's wanted because of his personality, not because of his position. It is personality that brought him all the prestige, not the post that made him prestigious. Post may bring you prestige, but that is not true prestige. It is the personality that makes you really prestigious in the community.

So, have a positive attitude in life to develop your own personality. This personality can be developed by sharing, by giving, by moving with common people, by sharing others' problems, by complementing others' merits, by congratulating the success and achievements of others, by seeing good in others. By constant sharing, we can have a positive attitude in life. A successful man takes failures not as stumbling blocks, but he takes failures as stepping stones towards success. A failure is a stepping stone towards success, but not a stumbling block.

Let me end with a small example given by Bhagavan: An unsuccessful man says, "The glass is half empty", while the successful man says, "The glass is half-full." A successful man says that a thorn has a rose flower. An unsuccessful says, "Rose has a thorn." That makes all the difference.

So, we should have a positive view of life. Whatever happens, perhaps it is going to be a challenge. "I am transferred to another place. Yes! I'll have my own associations. I'll have my own friends. I am going to be successful there! Wherever we are, we should be able to develop our own company. We should be always cheerful and then successful.

May Bhagavan bless you.

I thank the Manager and his team for inviting me to share a couple of thoughts on this topic, "How to Be Successful". The Manager of Vysya Bank was a boy when I visited him there at Nandihal, twenty-five years ago. It was a matter of surprise to see him as the Manager of the Vysya Bank of national stature. He was a boy. His father was my close friend, Manjikanti Subharao, a member of several service organizations, a man of sacrifice, a great leader by his own right, and district Seva Dal Convener and Zonal Convener also. I know his mother and his brother. This little boy has come up to this stage of running a big bank of this order. The photos are so beautiful. The campus is so nice. It's air-conditioned. The business also I think must have been equally good.

May Bhagavan take you from success to success, higher in stature. May Bhagavan shower His choicest blessings on all the members of the staff of Vysya Bank and the members of this august assembly.

Thank you very much.

Sai Ram.
 

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