A Conversation with Sri Sathya
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba giving
darshan in Prashanti Nilayam in the years '70
conversation between a devotee and Sai Baba took place in
Prasanthi Nilayam many years ago and was first published in an
early issue of the Sanathana Sarathi, the official ashram
Devotee: Swami! The world
is very cruel to me.
Sai Baba: That is its
nature. The purpose of the world is frustration; it has to
engender need. When the need is strong enough, the individual
Devotee: And fails!
Sai Baba: Only when he
seeks fulfilment without! Within him, he can get it. The within is
accessible always; it is ever responsible. There is pain only so
long as attachment for outer forms remains. Ultimate relief from
pain can come only with the loss of ego, the neutralisation of
that which reacts to something as pain and something else as
pleasure, whose memory, whose conditioning, helps to recognise the
dualities of joy and grief.
Devotee: But the world,
Sai Baba: The world is
pain. Expect nothing from the world but that. I willed the
totality of your conditioned existence to be pain, in order to
draw you to me.
Devotee: Which I can, at
best, only hope to attain.
Sai Baba: God asks for
neither hope nor despair. They are subject to relativity.
Universal Being is beyond both hope and despair, both certainty
and doubt. It knows no lingering in its conclusions. It is ever
flowing, in all directions, and in none of them.
Devotee: What then shall
be my direction?
Sai Baba: Take what works
today for today. What works tomorrow for tomorrow. One day at a
time, each day for itself, each moment for itself, without a past,
without memory, without conclusions.
Sai Baba: Yes. Conclusions
bind; they press on the mind. The newborn baby is not confined to
conclusions. All conclusions enslave. Most men are slaves to the
conclusions into which they have fallen.
Devotee: Does that mean I
have to give up my practice of concentration?
Sai Baba: The question
that bothers you is one of fixity. You tried to fix your thought
and attention on a word and later on a form, but you discovered
that nothing lasts, that everything has to change. But I tell you;
awareness can remain, even when form subsides, even when the word
Devotee: I find it
difficult to hold my attention on form or word.
Sai Baba: Because when you
try to meditate, the very trial invites the success-failure
conflict onto the scene. You say to yourself, it is good to
meditate on this and not that, or to meditate on that is wrong or
foolish. Practise choicelessness; no objective, no intention. Be
yourself. Choose no particular form, for all are equally His.
Choose no particular word or sound, for all are His.
Devotee: I am often tossed
between contradictory beliefs.
Sai Baba: Contradictions
are inevitable. It is the very nature of this world and of the
mind. But you can choose, either to be buffeted endlessly by the
apparent contradictions or to remain in the calm centre of the
cyclone. This is the problem of all problems, the problem of
peripheral or central being.
Devotee: The circumference
or the centre, the rim or the hub of the wheel?
Sai Baba: Yes. The hub is
calm, steady, unmoved. But the mind will be drawn along the
spokes, the objective desires, to revolve over mud and stone, sand
and thorns. It will not believe that it can get bliss from the
centre, rather than from the circumference, without undergoing a
rough journey over turbulent terrain.
Devotee: Ultimately, it
means the conquest of the mind?
Sai Baba: Learn to let all
the conflicts spawned by the mind play themselves out, and cancel
each other out. Be the witness to the holocaust. The ultimate
solution to the conflict is not decision or even choice, but
passive being. Dare to remain inconclusive. See the endless
quandaries of the mind as a divine leela, God's sport, as the
natural function of the bundle of desires called mind. Do not
believe in mind; do not rally to its assertions and appetites.
Watch the mind from a distance; do not get involved in its
tumblings and turnings. Then everything becomes insignificant.
When everything recedes into meaninglessness, you are in the hub,
Devotee: Swami, you are
the hub, the spokes and the rim.
Sai Baba: Do not be
concerned with who I am! Concern yourself with who you are and how
you can be ever aware of that truth. Do not be a willing captive
of the endless stratagems of the mind. Abstain from all that draws
you into its web. I will lead you, if you rely on me. The
alternatives of the world will not bring you happiness, for the
mind, which revels in alternatives, is but a will-of-the-wisp,
flitting before your vision. I do not judge you for what is never
yours, really. Your imperfection is no obstacle for me.
Devotee: I confess that I
have not always observed the rules of conduct of the Sathya Sai
Sai Baba: Your mind keeps
asking for rules. But when you get the rules, you find you cannot
keep them. Rules engender rigidity, they force. They do not bloom
out of love or spread love. There is always a way of doing a thing
without the strain of a rule. See how unperturbed I am with your
restlessness! I live thus, so that I may afford a lesson for you
Devotee: I am restless,
Swami, because I yearn for rest and do not get it.
Sai Baba: It is your
reaction to restlessness that is bad, not the restlessness itself.
Restlessness is only the rise and fall of a wave on the ocean that
you are. Nothing matters, so long as the depths are secure.
Success is not important: failure does not matter. The river of
eternity is flowing ever into the ocean of the Supreme Will.
Devotee: How long am I to
be torn apart from that Supreme Will?
Sai Baba: You are a
fraction of that Supreme Will. That is why you are afflicted with
the hunger to seek It and to merge in It and to find fulfilment
and bliss thereby. Turning to the world for solace and sustenance
to appease that hunger has been tried by countless generations,
including your own, but the hunger is gnawing still.
Devotee: What then is the
proper reaction to the attractions of the world?
Sai Baba: Let go. Don't
cling. Be still. Establish yourself in the homelessness of the
mind; physical homelessness will not earn the victory. There are
many spiritual aspirants still caught in the coils of greed, envy,
pride and power seeking. They have not escaped from their homes.
They have built prisons around themselves. I describe homelessness
of the mind as mind abiding nowhere.
Devotee: And wandering
Sai Baba: Do not exclude
anything. Be the witness of everything. The exclusive cannot
endure. God is all. Your restlessness came from exclusion, the
pressure exerted by the excluded into the area from which it was
excluded. All is God; how can you push God out of His Domain? Your
mind concludes that the cause for the restlessness is whatever
concerns it at the time. The actual cause is not that. You limit
God by your assumptions, hence the restlessness. For you too are
divine, and your reality protests against that limitation.
Devotee: Swami! Sometimes
I feel so sad that I am so strange, so different in habits from
the rest of those that come to you for succour.
Sai Baba: If your path
contrasts entirely with those around you, believe that it is my
will for you. Every way is my way and ways seemingly indirect may
be the most direct for some spiritual seekers. For me there are no
impossible cases, no incorrigible cases. Practise choicelessness
as hitherto prescribed. Choicelessness is constant contentment.
Questioner: Swami, I am
addicted to tea drinking, which hurts me. How can I stop this
Sai Baba: Heaven is not
refused to those who drink tea! A rajasic person is rendered
hyperactive by tea, but to an invalid it is a welcome lift. But do
not adore tea as the only reality. Now with regard to these habits
that have gripped you, there are two methods by which you can
discard them. The first is deprivation, denial. This can yield
only temporary success. When one's determination relaxes, the
habit reasserts itself and it becomes difficult to resist. The
second method is to become so absorbed in something far more
pleasing that the habit falls off by itself. Remember, what is
transient is not important. What is important is eternal. My
prescriptions are varied; they differ from person to person, from
stage to stage, even in the case of the same person. All
prescriptions work. Let people come to me through Bhajan, through
Japa, through Meditation, through Mantras, through Tantra or Seva
? as I ordain. Every one will come to me; everyone has to come to
me. There are no exceptions.
Devotee: We rely on your
grace Swami, we yearn for it. Make us aware of it.
Sai Baba: I never asked
you to earn me. I want only that you should need me. Your path is
not one of merit. Bring the recurring desires of your mind to me,
every time they emerge. They cannot shock me, for I willed them!
Bring me your confusion, your fear, your craving, your anxiety,
your inability to love the world, your hesitation to serve, your
jealousy, all the deficiencies that defy your spiritual
Devotee: How are we to do
seva if we feel the urge to do so? What if the urge is absent?
Sai Baba: There are many
ways to serve the world. You can serve, if not actively, at least
by your serenity. Everyone need not do all things. Your Western
heritage reveres active work. But if your being tends towards
serenity and solitude, take it as the best. Do not be sorry for
it. Only a small minority can delight in serenity and remain
still. God has willed it so, otherwise, how could the world
function? If stillness is your destiny, dare to be so. If you are
a recluse, be a recluse, but a recluse with me. You may not be a
saint, but you can peacefully be nothing. Let each be as he is,
remembering, however, his source and his reality. None is as he is
but for me.
Devotee: I have yet much
Sai Baba: You wish to
learn from me. Well, if you are preoccupied by the body's needs,
by the arrangements for its travelling, its accommodation and the
food it demands, time will fly. That student learns best and
fastest who does not spend his time constantly shifting from one
classroom to the next. You will learn everything worth knowing in
my classroom. I will expose you to all states of being, so that
you may learn to rest in me in all of them. There are no
insurmountable obstacles to me; there are no pre-requisites for
me. I am unconditional.
Devotee: But you are
absent so often and away for so long at your headquarters.
Sai Baba: Always, at every
time, at every place, I am where you need me. All things without
are subject to the limitation of time and space, to the material
laws of Nature. My outer form is no exception! If you would
perceive my physical form, it must come within the range of your
gaze, so position yourself so that you can see it. And even then,
it may not gaze at you. But, I am omnipresent! The limitations of
the body and the outer senses do not hold for the inner vision.
Therein, you can see me at any time and any place and receive
darshan. The outer vision is purposely insufficient,
instantaneous, transitory, casual, so that you may crave for and
accomplish the inner darshan. If I have separated you from my
physical image off and on, it was only to bring you to me and to
establish my presence within you. That alone will replenish you
and refresh you, I know. None of my absences was a rejection or
rebuke. So far as you are concerned, I intended them all. And,
always, I willed that you return to me.
Source: Ramala Centre Newsletter,
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