Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
July 27, 2003

The Sunday Talk Given by Anil Kumar

“Questions from America” - Part II

July 27th, 2003


Sai Ram

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have been discussing the questions that have been put to me during my recent trip to the USA. As I told you already, the questions have been categorised under four headings: personal, organizational, social, and spiritual.

Last week we completed two of the aspects - personal and organizational. The social and spiritual topics remain. The following are the next questions and answers.

“How Can a Wife Develop Self-Confidence?”

These days we hear about the women's liberation movement. Women are trying to claim equal rights with men. The Indian government is also attempting to increase the percentage of seats in the Parliament and in the legislature for women. There is nothing wrong with it. There's an awareness among women. They will fight for their rights to be given as much salary as men get. There is no question of discrimination on grounds of gender.

Along this line, a question was asked: “How can a wife develop self-confidence if she has to be submissive to her husband?” (Laughter)

It is a sensitive question indeed. However, there are two aspects here. One is that of self-confidence; the other is about the submissive nature, submission and submissiveness. You have to clearly understand what both points stand for. Self-confidence has to do with individual character. Self-confidence relates to the individual, while submissiveness deals with an inter-relationship: I am submissive to you, or you are submissive to me. This sort of submissiveness has to do with an inter-relationship, whereas self-confidence is an individual characteristic. They are never contradictory.

How can an individual character contradict an inter-relationship? It's not possible. Both work in different channels. A simple example: I have total self-confidence that I will be able to discharge my duties to the best of my ability. That does not mean that I am, that I cannot be or that I should not be submissive to my boss. I think I am clear.

Before the vice-chancellor, I am submissive. In front of the principal, I am submissive. The submissive nature goes along with obedience, which is a code of conduct, which is a disciplined way of behaviour on the part of an employee towards an employer. But self-confidence is based on one's own ability, one's own capacity, one's own skills and competence.

Submissiveness will make you very humble. It will make you better. It will improve your inter-relationships: the boss will be pleased with you. Your self-confidence will help you to be more competent, more efficient, and more proficient. Therefore, a housewife can be both self-confident and submissive.

A self-confident person need not be arrogant. A self-confident person need not be headstrong. A self-confident person need not be rebellious. A self-confident person need not be a revolutionary. No. Self-confidence will improve your own personal ability. Submissiveness is an expression of your humility.

That is the answer I gave to this question.

Advice From Swami When Wife And Husband Disagree

“What advice does Swami give to couples when the wife and the husband disagree?” (Laughter)

A husband and wife relationship means that there will be disagreements! (Laughter) As long as they are friends, there will be total agreement. From the day that friends turn into a couple, disagreements start. Disagreement is everywhere. There is an agreement and a disagreement. We should agree to disagree. If there is agreement always, there is no charm in life. (Laughter) There should be disagreement. This happens everywhere. There are no exceptions.

I remember a joke shared with us by Sadhu Vaswani of Pune:

“A couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Everybody attended their wedding anniversary function and congratulated the couple. They were successfully linked together for 60 years, without wanting any change. People told them, ‘You are really great. What is the secret of your success?’”

The question was asked of the husband. The husband gave this answer: '”We have been very successful so far. We are able to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary because I take all the major decisions. (Laughter) She makes all minor decisions. (Laughter) However, as yet, I have not made a major decision! I have yet to make a major decision.’” (Laughter)

Therefore, my friends, disagreement is everywhere. Bhagavan gave an example of Lord Shiva Himself. Lord Shiva's dwelling place is a burial ground. His consort Parvathi lives in a paradise, Kailash. Shiva is almost naked, while Parvathi is full of jewellery. They are opposites: Shiva is for total renunciation and detachment, while Parvathi is full of affluence, plenty and prosperity. Yet, they continue to be an ideal couple. This sort of idealism lies in establishing harmony between the two.

Yes, the two wires - negative and positive -- unless the positive and negative wires are there, the current won't flow. If you have only positive wires, then there won’t be any current. Positive and negative are a law of life.

Bhagavan gave one example. Where there is understanding, there will be adjustment. Yet, we go in the reverse direction. We want adjustment, then understanding. That's why we are successful failures. (Laughter) We must understand first -- then adjustment is fast.

Bhagavan gave an illustration: A newly married couple started their life in a metropolitan city. The wife was very understanding of her husband because she knew that he was highly qualified and she was fully confident that he deserved a promotion. Yes – a double promotion if possible! He worked very hard. She knew it very well. Therefore, when the husband returned home late in the evening she wouldn’t mind. The office closed at 5 o'clock. Even If her husband returned at 7 o’clock, she didn’t mind. She would be waiting at the gate.

She would say, “I understand that you are very tired. I know how busy you are. I know you are very efficient. You never shirk your responsibility. Would you like to have hot coffee now? Would you like to have coffee, or would you like to have it along with tiffin?” She would continue talking like that. This man will forget that he was tired and begin to have a broad smile on his face.

But suppose someone tells her that this man is having an affair with somebody! Then, if he is late by five minutes, she will be waiting at the gate, no doubt as before, (Laughter) but this time not with a cup of coffee! If possible, with sticks especially made! (Laughter) She will ask for an explanation.

“What happened to you? When the office closed at five o‘clock, why the half-hour delay? What happened to you? I suspect something is wrong; something is fishy.”

This sort of suspicion comes due to lack of understanding. As long as there is perfect understanding, there is no suspicion. When there is misunderstanding, there is no adjustment. According to Bhagavan, couples should understand this: they need to understand each other. Thereafter, there would be 100% adjustment. It should not be in the reverse direction of ‘adjust now and understand tomorrow’. No! Then they will end up in a divorce. So, understand first and then adjust.

Here is another instance that Bhagavan mentioned. A husband should know how to treat his wife. His wife has left her parents, her relations, and her kith and kin, and has gone to live with him. He should be sympathetic. He should be tolerant. He should be understanding. He should be forgiving. She sacrificed everything for her husband.

The wife should also be understanding of her husband. This man is returning from hectic activity, having been so busy at the office. This is not the time to come forward with demands or requests. Living together, they should come to know each other - like two eyes with a single object of vision. ‘I look at you and see only one person not two.’ Though there are two eyes, you have only a single object or vision. Similarly, there may be two, husband and wife, but when they are together in absolute understanding and total adjustment, they can be together in perfect harmony. That's the answer.

“Whose Prayers Will Be Obliged?”

Next question: “When parents and their son are discussing a particular issue, but see it from different perspectives, whom will Swami oblige?”

This was a question raised by a young adult. Both sides continue to pray to Swami. (Laughter) The boy is praying to Swami; his parents are also praying to Swami. Both need Swami, but their temperaments disagree. What the boy wants, the parents don't want him to have. The parents don't approve of his requests. Still, this fellow wants it. When their desires are contradictory, when their plans are opposite, when they continue to pray to Swami, whom does He oblige? This is a very good question. (Laughter) Whom does He respond to?

The answer is simple. Baba said that it is absolutely necessary for the son to follow the command of his parents. His parents know his interests much better than he does. The mother, who has given birth and brought up the child, and the father, who has sacrificed everything to bring up his son, will naturally be very much interested in the future of their son.

So, the son has to necessarily follow the parents. There is no question of ‘I have this idea and you have that idea; so let’s pray together and see who will win?’ (Laughter) Prayer is not a matter of competition. There is nothing like ‘higher’ prayer and ‘lower’ prayer. Prayer is prayer. “I will pray more than you!” There is nothing like that. There is nothing like parameters, nothing like a measure for the intensity of prayer. A prayer is a prayer!

The Iraq And America War

Next question: “What has Swami said about the war between America and Iraq, and the present conflict between America and the Middle East countries?”

What sort of answer could I give to the Americans, since I was staying with them? (Laughter) I cannot say they are wrong; I cannot say they are right. I was in a very embarrassing position. (Laughter) But Swami helped me to get beyond this.

Swami's message cannot be limited to America and Iraq, American and Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. No, no, no! Bhagavan's message is universal. Bhagavan's message is meant for everybody, at all times, for all countries. You cannot localise an issue. His message is based on Love. Bhagavan does not approve of bloodshed. He is for non-violence. He is for open discussion, not for war. He always believes in empathy, sympathy, friendship and understanding. I was happy that they were satisfied with the answer. That way I did not have to blame anybody. (Laughter)

While talking with Swami about this, I said, "Swami, I faced a very inconvenient question."

He said, "What? What?"

"Swami, people wanted to know whom You support - the Americans or the Iraqis?” (Laughter)

Swami asked me to repeat my answer. (Laughter)

I knew that some ‘music’ (some reaction from Swami) would be waiting for me to follow. If anything went wrong, I would be beheaded (Anil Kumar is speaking jokingly here) without even a month's notice! (Laughter)

“Swami, this is what I said: ‘I cannot bring down Bhagavan’s message to the problem prevailing in America and Iraq. No! His message is universal. It may be Palestine and Israel. It may be Iran and Iraq. It may be a conflict between any other two countries. But Bhagavan’s message is based on Love and friendship.’”

“The correct answer!“ He said. Therefore, I continued on a good footing with Swami, as He approved of the answer given.

Culture Shock

The next question was: “After being here (this question was asked by an Indian in the USA), we face ‘culture shock’. What does Baba want us to do about culture shock?” So, for your shock, He has to suggest something! (Laughter)

We have to clearly understand that culture is not geographical. One may be here in India, yet leading a Western life. If you go to cities like Delhi, Calcutta or Bombay, I don't think that you will see much Indian culture there. It is India, but you don't see any Indian culture. So Indian culture need not necessarily be practiced in India alone. No! So I can show you a thousand examples in India where Indian culture is not followed.

Therefore, Indian culture is a way of life. It is an attitude. It is a sort of interaction between an individual and the community. It speaks of the objectives of life. It speaks of the purpose of life. It speaks of the nature of the Divine and several other aspects.

Therefore, if you say that you are facing ‘culture shock’, it only means that you have forgotten your own native culture. You are still not able to imbibe the ‘alien’ culture, the new culture in the land where you are now. You are not able to adopt that, yet you have forgotten your own culture. You are in-between. Therefore, there is this ‘shock’.

So, culture shock is not the mistake of the culture. It is the mistake of the individual. If you are really convinced of the validity of your own culture, then wherever you are, you will never change.

Don't misunderstand me. I see many people. I know many people here -- the Westerners working in the canteen, the bookstall and so many places. How do they do it? With a smile on their face! They are very active. The culture of the West is work-focused, with a spirit of excellence. Wherever you put them, they are excellent workers. They want to be ‘number one’ at work. That spirit has been imbibed. Therefore, every culture has its own uniqueness.

Suppose my work culture (say, an Indian working in the USA) wants me to be number one in the world, but my native (Indian) culture does not want me to take any credit! The Indian culture wants us to work with the spirit that this work is an opportunity, a gift from God. It is not to dominate, not to be number one. Our culture views it as an opportunity, as God's gift for excellence. Don’t get me wrong -- I am not rooting out excellence all together. You are supposed to be excellent; there is no doubt about it. But in this culture, this opportunity for excellence is viewed as a gift of God.

Therefore, ‘culture shock’ is of your own making. If you are really aware of what culture is – a way of life -- there will be no shock anywhere. You will never be confused. Eternal values, even in a changing society, lay much emphasis on the culture (the way of life) that has to be adopted, despite worldly changes all around. What changes is the civilisation. What does not change is the culture. We should not get confused with that. Culture does not change; it is eternal. Culture has continuity with eternity whereas, from time to time, civilisation changes because it is based on conveniences, comforts and luxury. Culture stands for and represents values. When you have perfect understanding about this, you will never get this ‘culture shock’.

“Are Comparison And Competition To Be Avoided?”

The next question: “Mr. Anil Kumar, you say that comparison and competition should be avoided.”

“Yes, I always say this. It is not an allegation. It is truth. Yes!”

“How do you relate to schools, which are highly competitive? In schools and colleges, there is very keen competition. Mr. Anil Kumar, you say that there should not be competition and comparison. How do you explain this?”

A very good question! What I mean is that there should not be competition and comparison once you settle in life. Once you settle in life, whatever lot you have, be contented. Whatever thing you have, be happy. Don't compete, thereby denying yourself any happiness.

Here’s a simple example: Assume that God has given me a small car. God has given you a bigger car, the latest model! If I go on thinking of you, I miss the pleasure of driving in my own car. Therefore, competition and comparison will deny me any pleasure, right at that moment.

But, as long as you are a student, you should be highly competitive. In scholarship, one has to compete. In grades, one must compete. Pardhaya Vardhathe Vidya. Pardhaya means ‘competition’. Vidya means ‘education’ and vardhathe means ‘improve’. Out of competition, one will certainly improve and advance in studies. Later in life, we want contentment and satisfaction. So, you cannot quote me when you are at the student stage! But what you do as a student should not be brought forward once you settle in life.

Here is another simple example: As a young boy, you can play with marbles. It is very nice. Later, why can't you play with marbles in your office? (Laughter) It is childish. What is good at one stage is not good later. Use competition and comparison as a student; but once you are settled in life, experience contentment and contemplate on self-inquiry. Be on a search -- a quest for peace and bliss. At this later stage, the objectives or targets change. A retired person cannot compete with a boy due to his age. (Laughter) If he does, something is wrong with him. If a person goes on competing, after retirement, with a boy of twenty, well what do you say? Something is wrong with him. If a college student goes on saying, ‘Let me be content with 30% marks; let me be satisfied with failure’, that would be wrong. Therefore, what I said applies to settled life, not to a student.

Attaining Liberation

Now for the next question: “When there is no co-operation within the family, can we still attain liberation?”

This is a question perhaps based on the political system! (Laughter) Unless there is co-operation, you cannot win in an election. Unless there is co-operation, you cannot run your office. Unless there is co-operation, you cannot run your family. At the family level, at the provincial level, at the national level, co-operation is necessary.

But, in respect to spirituality, we stand all alone. We stand all alone! If I am going to hell, I cannot say, ”All of you join me -- let us proceed.” (Laughter) There is nothing like that. Liberation is obtained all alone. A son may be deserving, but the father may be undeserving. A husband may be undeserving, and the housewife may be the better-half. (Laughter) We cannot question it. In spirituality, we stand all alone. There are no blood relationships.

After all, Bhagavan has said, "Children are not from the parents. They are through the parents." Let us be very clear – ‘through the parents, not from the parents’. What does it mean? Parents are merely channels, that’s all. Parents have allowed life to manifest through them as channels, that's all. They cannot claim that the child is their product. Perhaps that son will be a rebel later. Therefore, the parents have no claim except to act as a channel. ‘Through the parents’ is the more appropriate description.

Therefore, the answer is this: When you want co-operation from the family, it is a political problem. It is a social problem. All the family wants to go somewhere. All of them want to attend a wedding. They need co-operation. The son cannot say, “Daddy, I am sorry. I have some other appointment.”

When the mother is cooking a certain dish for the evening meal, the daughter cannot say, “Sorry, mother. I want something different.” Anything social, anything that has to do with the business, anything political, requires co-operation.

Today, unfortunately, there is no co-operation. To quote Baba: “There is no co-operation. There is only operation.” That's the reason why systems fail from time-to-time. From the spiritual point of view, we stand all alone: Udhare Atma Atmanam. We should work for our own liberation. Nobody can help you.

To quote Swami: “Even with co-operation, even with intense love among brothers, the elder brother cannot say to his younger brother, ‘Brother, you sustained a fracture. I know it is highly painful. So to save you from this pain, I would like to have the bandage.’ (Laughter) The elder brother cannot take the fracture from the younger brother. If the older brother is suffering from a fever, the younger brother cannot say, ‘Brother, I know you are suffering from a fever. So I will take the medicine on your behalf.’ (Laughter) You cannot do it.”

One has to eat for one’s own hunger. One has to drink for one’s own thirst. One has to work for one’s own liberation. There is nothing like co-operation. It is an accident that we are in a family. It is an accident that one is a son to the father. It doesn't mean that it is a life-long bondage.

“Why God?”

Next question: “Is it necessary that one should face dissatisfaction to be spiritual? I am OK with the world. So, why pursue God then? I am fine in this world.” This is a question from a young adult.

I told him, “Boy, you are OK in this world now. But just wait for sometime. (Laughter) You say, ‘Everything is fine.’ Wait for some more time. Not all days are Sunday. There will be Monday, then Tuesday, and so on. Life is a cycle, filled with ups and downs. Life is a cycle, filled with bumps and jumps. Life is not a straight line. One has to necessarily face both situations. It is like a pendulum that oscillates from one end to the other. Life is like a pendulum that moves between a tear and a smile. Therefore, you cannot always say that you are very much satisfied in this world.”

I told that young adult an example that Baba had given. It seems that one boy could not get his degree. He appeared for the examination a number of times. The university was fed up with him. This fellow could not manage to get through. But he was fortunate to get a girl, a double graduate, as his wife. The poor chap could not get a better one. Somehow, she agreed to marry him. She was a double graduate, while this fellow had no degree. He was very happy that his wife was a double graduate, aha!

On the day of his wedding, in front of everybody, he said, “I am the luckiest man in this world. Although I have no degree, my wife has two degrees!” (Laughter) On the wedding day, this fellow kept looking at her, forgetting the large audience, because he was so happy -- Himalayan bliss. (Laughter) Naturally, this life was OK with him, so why pursue God? This is what he thought at that time!

After the wedding, his wife joined him. This fellow was relaxing, sitting in the easy chair. He called her, “Come on! Get me a hot cup of coffee, OK?” (Laughter)

She said, “I am sorry. You go prepare a cup, and one for me also.” (Laughter)

Then he said loudly, “I am the most miserable man on earth.”

Fifteen days earlier he had said, “I am the most fortunate man.” Both are true. At that time, what he said was correct, and today what he said is also correct.

Therefore, life has its ups and downs. Let us know that life is whole: W–H–O–L-E. Life is total. If you lead a choiceless life, you will be successful. But if you say, “I want only success and more success,” it is impossible. You will be successful as a patient, that's all. (Laughter)

You cannot always say, “I am a failure and I am miserable”, unless you are a pessimist, unless you are a sadist. Then you should be sent to a psychoanalyst. You should consult a psychiatrist. If you want only the positive, you are impractical. If you think negatively too much, you are a pessimist. Life is total -- both positive and negative. You cannot say, “I want only daytime with sunlight.” If you said, “Oh sun, be there throughout the day. I want daylight all the time”, then people will want to avoid you. You cannot have darkness all the twenty-four hours. Neither can you have light all the twenty-four hours. A day means both light and dark.

So, life also means both success and failure. Life means profit and gain. Life means celebration; it also means humiliation. Life means praise and blame. Life means health and sickness. Therefore, if you view life in totality, there will be no question of disappointment. Then you understand what life is.

Busy Work And God

The next question: “In the midst of busy work, how do I link myself with God? Some people have to drive hours and hours to reach their work spot. At the end of the workday, they return completely tired after driving more hours. In this busy life, how am I to establish a link with God?”

This has been a problem. Yet, the answer is simple when I say, “O God, I am only an instrument. You make me do what I am supposed to.”

I am only an instrument. It may be my office work; it may be that I am driving my car. Yes, right there at the steering wheel, say to yourself, “O God, I am driving as per Your will.”

“O God, I am working with my computer as per Your direction.” Or, “I am a doctor, so I am Your instrument.”

With a spirit of surrender when you work, you are not simply linking with God. No. You are in God, not just ‘linked up’ with God. ‘Linking’ is different from ‘being in God’. Where there is a link, there is also ‘de-link’ -- linking and de-linking, connecting and disconnecting. But when you are in God, nobody can take you out, because God is everywhere.

Therefore, my friends, it is quite possible to live in God, with constant remembrance of His Name. This is what Swami calls ‘Constant Integrated Awareness’. That's what it is -- Constant Integrated Awareness -- remembering His matchless glory, His Name. So then you are always established in God, in full awareness.

“Do Good To All”

“God says to do good to all. Where do I draw a line, say, if I have done the best of my ability, and yet another man hurts me?”

This is the next question. You are doing your best because Baba has said to do good. Still, the other man is hurting you. Where do you draw a line? This means, “When do I stop helping the other man? I keep on helping the man and he is not reciprocating. So, at what point should I stop helping him?” That’s what the questioner meant.

I will give you an example from Sai literature. It seems a wise man was having his morning bath in a river. In the river, he saw a scorpion struggling. This wise man picked up the scorpion with his hand. The scorpion bit the man, so immediately the man dropped it in the water. The scorpion went on struggling.

Out of compassion, the man picked it up again. The scorpion started biting again. Then this wise man thought, ‘Oh scorpion, you have not given up your bad nature. Although you have not given up your bad nature, why should I give up my nature of helping? I will continue to help you because this is the lesson that I learned from you. Just because you have not given up your nature, why should I give up my nature?’

Therefore, when another man hurts you, he is behaving like a scorpion. Because that person hurts you, it doesn't mean that you should stop helping him. You should continue your own nature. It is something like the sun. “O sun, you are giving me light. Thank you!” None of us says that. Still, the sun goes on shedding light.

None of us would say, “O thank you, wind god, because you supply me with oxygen.” I breathe oxygen as if it were my father-in-law’s property! (Laughter) Of course, the in-law won’t allow even that. The point is that we take things for granted. This should not be the situation. Whatever the other person may say, we should continue with our nature.

Gandhiji was highly respectful to Winston Churchill in spite of the fact that they were at loggerheads with each other. Because of his nature, he was very courteous to Churchill. Likewise, helpfulness should be your nature, should be second nature to you.

The thought of helpfulness should not be only a Sunday affair. The thought of service should not be only for a service activity. It should be your nature. You and service should go together. You and help are one and the same. It is not that help will only dawn on Monday. “I am very humble on Sunday, serviceable on Tuesday and helpful on Wednesday.” No. Life is not a timetable. Life is not a schedule. Helpfulness should be your nature – second nature, in-built character -- so that you are not mindful of anything else.

At this hour, I am reminded of a great missionary, a great Christian missionary, by the name of Wolf. He was staying in a big bungalow. A few robbers and thieves entered his house. They had stolen everything and they were leaving his bungalow.

At that moment, Reverend Wolf got up from his bed and noticed the thieves leaving. He shouted, “Oh young men, stop there. It is dark all over. There are many thorny bushes. This place is known for snakes and scorpions. I will give you a lamp, my dear sons. Take the lamp and go slowly. I don't want you to die.” That is a helpful nature!

I also remember a story from Tolstoy literature. A vagabond -- a gangster and a man of vices -- lost all his property. Finally, it happened that his fiancée wanted his mother’s golden chain. This fellow went fully drunk, killed his mother and snatched away her gold chain. He was leaving the house to present this gold chain to his fiancée.

Then the man heard a voice: "Sonny, be careful! Watch your step. You are fully drunk, my dear child. You may fall. So carry the gold chain carefully."

The fellow looked back. What did he see? He saw the heart of his mother on the ground. The heart started speaking like that. “Sonny, be careful! You may fall. Take hold of this chain. Be careful.” That is Love.

“I will help you if you help me” -- that is business, which is political. “I will continue to help you even if you hurt me” -- that is the true spirit of help.

“Can Baba Find A Cure FOR SARS?”

“Can Baba find medicine for SARS?” (Laughter)

SARS was a health problem in Singapore and Canada and few other areas. I said, “Well, I have not brought up this topic with Swami. Why ask just for SARS? For all diseases, I know of only one medicine: Paramam Pavitram Baba Vibhutim – Baba’s vibhuthi. That is the only antibiotic that I know. I am not aware of other things.

“What To Do With Criticism?”

Next question: “If anyone criticises me, I feel badly. I have not gotten beyond that feeling. What do I do? How do I take the criticism? I have still have a reaction. What am I to do?”

Baba has given a very good answer to this. If anyone criticises you for a reason that is genuine, be thankful to the critic. If you are really wrong, be thankful to him: “My brother, you have pointed out my mistake. Thank you very much.”

Suppose that you are criticised or charged with doing something that you have not committed. In other words, you are not guilty. Then don’t worry at all! As you have not done anything, so your heart is clear. When you are clear, when the accusations are false, don't bother. Pay a deaf ear. When they are genuine, correct yourself and be thankful for the awareness.

Baba gave Himself as an example: Baba said, “If you say, ‘Baba, You are bald’, I am not offended because I have a lot of hair. I am not bald. Whatever you say, why should I feel offended? Suppose someone says, ‘Baba, You have a mop of hair -- so much hair’, then I am not offended because it is true (Laughter)!”

When truth is said to your face, you don't have to feel guilty. You don't have to feel sorry. When a false accusation is made, you don't have to feel badly either. Criticism helps you to correct yourself when you do commit a mistake. Therefore, feeling hurt should not arise at any point in time.

Whether you praise God or not, He will always be happy. Someone might say, “O God, You are really loving.” God does not think, ‘O My son, I am happy with your compliments.’

Or if you say, “God, You are unkind because nowadays You are not giving me interviews”, He is not displeased.

Spirituality is transcendence. Spirituality is not indulgence; spirituality is not avoidance. Spirituality is transcendence. You should transcend criticism as well as praise and admiration. You should go beyond the two. That is true spirituality.

Right Balance Between Worldly Success And Spiritual Growth

Another question: “Particularly in America, how do we, as Sai devotees, find the right balance between worldly success and spiritual growth towards Swami's Lotus Feet?”

This is a good question. Where is the balance between worldly success and spiritual growth? Where do you strike the balance towards Swami's Lotus Feet? My friends, worldly success and spiritual growth are not opposite. Why should you think that a spiritual man is a failure in the world? Why should you think that a spiritual man is incompetent or inefficient? No! Worldly success and spiritual growth go hand-in-hand.

You may ask me, “Why not spiritual growth alone? Why should there be spiritual success?”

My friends, ‘spiritual growth’ is a false term, a false word, the wrong usage. There are some people who say, “I noticed spiritual growth in myself.”

Oh, I see. (Laughter) You must have noticed ‘undergrowth’ yesterday. You may find ‘overgrowth’ tomorrow. Spirituality has nothing to do with growth! No. You cannot say, “I am spiritually growing.” Has your thermometer helped you to measure? Or have your scales (for weight) helped you? Or, on your morning jog, has it been revealed to you?

My friends, ‘spiritual growth’ are the wrong words. It is better that you remember ‘spiritual awareness’. It is not spiritual growth, but spiritual awareness. Awareness means realisation. Realisation means an understanding of what you already are, whereas spiritual growth gives a misunderstanding of what you are not: “I have not grown today.”

‘I have grown’ means from undergrowth you have moved towards growth. But, spirituality is nothing like undergrowth, growth and overgrowth. No! Spirituality is constant. Spirituality is constant because it has been there since existence. Spirituality is existence. There is nothing like extra growth, undergrowth, hypertrophy -- it’s not like that. Therefore, spiritual awareness will naturally help you to be successful in the world as well. Worldly success is assured. In the world, there is success and failure. But in spirituality, there is nothing like success and failure. Spirituality is beyond duality. Only the world is dual.

So how do you establish a sort of balance between the two? One is the realisation; the other is the achievement. Spiritual awareness is realisation. Worldly success is an achievement. How can I measure liquid and solid in the same way? One has to be measured in litres and the other one has to be measured in kilos. I cannot say that the distance from here to the Mandir is fifty degrees. Can you say that? “What is the weight of this? Two litres!” Do you say that?

This kind of measure is not applicable in the spiritual realms. In the spiritual realms, it is realisation and awareness of that which is non-dual. In the world, which is dual, the parameters of success and failure, or profit and loss, are always dual.

Therefore, how to strike a balance? The balance is this: Worldly duality can be viewed through the undercurrent of spiritual awareness. Spiritual awareness is the understanding; spiritual awareness is the backdrop. Worldly success is the projection. When worldly success is projected on the screen of spiritual awareness, yes, you are a seeker, you are an aspirant, you are spiritual, or you are a saint. The curtain is spiritual awareness; the projection is worldly success. They are not opposite. One is the corollary to the other. One is the screen; the other is the projection.

I gave that answer.

Spiritual Aspect

My friends, I will take the last few minutes to address the topic of spiritual questions.

“How Do You Develop, Protect And Improve Faith?”

First question: “How do you develop, protect and improve faith?”

This question came from the Milwaukee Center in the State of Wisconsin. How to develop, protect and improve faith? Three aspects - develop, protect and improve.

My answer is simple. Faith is natural. You don't have to develop it. You were born with faith. A child has total faith in the mother. A child is not taught how to develop faith towards the mother. “My dear child, she is your mother. So have total faith in she who is teaching you.” You are born with faith. Faith is not cultivated. Faith is not imported, exported or manufactured. You are born with faith.

Furthermore, Baba goes on to say that you have total faith in a barber. You go to the salon and bend your head. Whether this fellow is going to put the knife on your head or your neck, you don't have any doubt. You have total faith in a barber. You give your costly dress to the washerman. You never think that he may run away someday with your costly clothes. You have total faith in a washerman and total faith in a barber. Then you have total faith in a doctor. You lie down on the operation table. He will transport you to the other planet and bring you back safely to earth -- you don't doubt it at all. You have total faith in a doctor. Faith is a natural quality. You are born with faith.

The question might be, “Why, then, is faith sometimes lost?” Rather than ask how to develop faith, the question is: “Why has faith gone? Why is faith lost?” This question is in respect only to God! You have faith in everybody else. There are a number of instances where I have heard this at a railway platform or in an airport. Someone will ask his or her neighbour, “Sir, here is my luggage. Please take care of it. I will go to the restroom and come back.”

By the time you come back, the other person and your baggage may be elsewhere! (Laughter) In total faith, you give your baggage to that man. In total faith, he has run away with it. We have faith in everybody, except in God. So, instead of saying, “How do I develop faith?” let us ask the question, “Why have I lost faith?”

Then, “How to protect faith?” Yes, you have to take every precaution. You have to take every measure to protect faith. Why? Now that you have developed a sort of attachment to Swami, you have faith in Swami. If you start arguing with people, if you start interpreting Swami’s sayings, you are sure to lose the faith. Let us not interpret Bhagavan.

There are many people who say, “You know why Swami has not looked at you? I will tell you.” (Laughter)

“Who are you to tell me why He has not looked at me? Who are you? That's my problem.”

Then some says, “You know what Baba meant when He said this to you? He meant that….”

“Oh ho, who are you to tell me? Bhagavan will tell me directly what He wants me to know. Why should you interpret? You are already mad and turning me double mad. Why?”

So, let us not interpret. To grow strong in faith, we should stop interpreting. We should learn total acceptance, not negation. Unconditional acceptance, without any interpretation, is strong faith.

Then, so long as faith is tender, you need to be careful about those who are against your faith. You believe in Baba, but suppose you talk to people who have no faith in Him. You will lose it. Baba gave this simple example: When a sapling is planted, it needs a fence to protect it. When this same plant grows into a huge tree, it will give shelter to cows and sheep. At a tender age, a sapling stands the risk of being eaten away. When it grows into a huge tree, it gives shelter to the same animals that may have harmed it earlier.

So, until your faith is strong enough to encourage others to proceed in the same direction, you have to be careful. That's why it is important to be in good company. Cheje durjana samsargam: Run away from bad company. Bhaja saadhu samagamam: Join good company. Then you will be well protected. Then, how to improve faith? As there is more and more love, you can improve your faith day-by-day.

That's all for the today. In all probability, we will complete the rest of the questions this next week. Yes, there are not many more. Thank you very much for your patient listening. (Applause)


Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya

Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Babaji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Babaji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Babaji Ki Jai!


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