Questions and Answers
Speaker Dr. Michael Goldstein
SATHYA SAI PRE WORLD CONVENTION
(AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, ASIA EXCLUDING INDIA
AND MIDDLE EAST)
VENUE: SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC CONVENTION HALL
QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION
SPEAKER: DR. MICHAEL GOLDSTEIN
How do we love
With all your heart. Your love
must be selfless. We are enchanted by Swamiís divine form. Is this
not love? Yes, it is, but is not enough. We are deeply inspired by
Swamiís Divine Message and heroic unbelievable humanitarian works,
and we desire to emulate him. To love Swami, we must see that
Swami represents the highest, noblest and purest form of love.
Loving God is finding God within your own hearts. There are no
intermediaries between you and God. No officer in a Sai
organization is a spiritual leader. We have administrative posts,
hopefully we are worthy of these posts, but we are not spiritual
guides or advisors.
Can devotees pray
for a special darshan at Puttaparthi for Buddha purnima and
Chinese New Year?
Yes you may, and yes, we do
celebrate these festivals at Puttaparthi. You may pray that Swami
will fulfill the aspirations of His devotees to celebrate those
functions in His Divine presence.
If in a family
one person is a devotee whilst the others are not, how are we to
convince the rest of the family?
Swami is in your heart. You donít
need to convince others of your belief; it is also not your duty
to do so. Fulfill your dharma in your family and profession. Your
primary duty as a human being is to realize the Lord who resides
in your heart.
questions about ladies attire.
Once I told Swami that newcomers
were coming to Sai Centers in Western Countries. They saw people,
wearing no shoes, sitting on the floor, with men and women sitting
separately, and all singing songs in a strange language. The new
people were repelled because they did not understand and would
leave and not return. Swami said shoes are not important, they may
wear shoes, they can sit on chairs. But separation of men and
women is not Indian culture; that is spiritual. Modesty must
prevail when our purpose is spiritual. We are here to transcend
our attachment to our physical bodies. Women and men should dress
modestly and not bring attention to themselves.
Study circles are not as popular as bhajans.
All are facets of a diamond and
necessary to enhance the lustre of the whole. Study circles
reflect the coming together of different views on a particular
topic and help to better understand Swamiís teachings. They are
both important but service is the most important of all.
Practicing is getting up in the morning, opening your eyes and
seemingly beauty and good, spending every conscious moment
focusing on who and what we really, and projecting love into the
world. These are practices that help you to achieve a virtuosity
of life. For example, a concert musician must practise for hours
so that his fingers are nimble so that he can perform a virtuoso
concert. In the same manner, we must also practice in our lives so
that our whole lives are a virtual concerto.
modify practices so as to be culturally sensitive?
In Australia, we are regarded by many as a
We are not a cult. Let me tell
you a story. Last Ugadi at a function at Whitefield, Swami had a
Trayee session, where Swami came to sit amongst a fortunate few of
us. Swami was quiet for a long time and then he pointed to the
boys and said, "These bhajan boys are very bad." Then he
explained. "We just celebrated a function. Many people have come
from different countries and many religions are here, but you are
only singing Sai bhajans. You are not understanding that Swami is
universal." Need I say more? The organization will never impose
quotas as to how many French, Chinese, English bhajans etc. have
to be sung. Thatís up to the devotees who need to understand and
reflect the universality of Swamiís message. Baba plants his seed
in all the lands of the world, so that the divine tree will grow
into the context of every culture. Know that Swami came for
humanity and not for any religion, ethnic or social group.
This is about
vegetarianism. Can we have office bearers who eat meat?
No. Swami said "donít eat meat,
donít smoke, donít drink." Make no mistake about that. Office
bearers provide administrative leadership, and are highly visible.
They should therefore be exemplary.
Can we go to
People who are office bearers
should not. They should have a single minded focus on Swamiís name
and form. By accepting leadership they are accepting Swamiís
divinity. You should not be flitting here and there and setting a
Can the youth be run under separate groups
instead of under one umbrella of the Sai organisation?
No. We must
create an environment that makes the youth feel loved, respected,
welcomed and acknowledged. There cannot be autonomous groups of
youth; the youth is a wing of the Sai organization and not
separate from the organisation. But the age definition of youth is
not uniform yet. In some countries, itís 18 to 35 years, in other
countries it varies slightly. This is not conducive to young
adults because you can have a 16 year old student with a 34 year
old PhD with 3 kids. We are addressing this issue.
Can devotees work jointly with
humanitarian organizations (e.g. the Red Cross) on projects?
Swami has said
"No"". But if you are working in a reputed humanitarian
organization does this mean that you leave them in a lurch? No.
You should act responsibly and withdraw gradually as our own
service activities grow. Work towards a selfless service. Perfect
empathy leads to perfect identification which in turn brings
selfless love. These types of services are subtle, but they are
not spiritual services.
Is it appropriate to have many
rituals carried out in Sai centers?
What should we do with respect to office
bearers whose conduct goes against the charter?
organization has a hierarchy of recourse. Conflict need two hands
to clap. We must remember that the primary purpose of spirituality
is to contain and resolve conflict peacefully amongst yourselves.
Keep it small, donít give it power.
Can we receive donations from certain
organizations or agencies like tobacco companies?
We do not solicit donations ever.
Tobacco companies are totally inappropriate.
Can there be standard
guidelines with regards to various practices of the Sai organization?
There will be standard
guidelines on various practices to reflect the spiritual nature of
the Sai organization.
What are the basic dos and doníts of devotees
especially when a center is full of politicking?
This means that the center is
not functioning properly. Talk to the Centre President. And if
this fails, seek recourse from a person higher up in the Sai
organizational hierarchy. Positions of office bearers must come
about through a selection process not an election. Ideally, we
should all come together to decide who can fulfill the
responsibilities of the position. Differences of opinions must be
resolved lovingly, peacefully and harmoniously. If there is a
difference, I ask the will of the people to nominate the office
bearers. Then I seek the eldersí opinions. More than often the
elders and the will of the people are congruent. In addition, I
interview prospective new officers and do whatever I can to make
sure that the devotees are best served. This is selection.
Election is a contest of personalities and our spiritual objective
is to transcend our personalities.
Should Sai Youth Camps be open to the adults?
Yes. After all adult camps are
also open to the youth. Not only should they be open, but there
should be adult youth advisors present. Obviously whatever you do
must be opened to everyone.
Can we avoid the use of "Sai" whenever we go
into public schools?
There is a task force in which
Dr Pal Dhall and Prof Venkataraman are working to define and make
uniform the understanding on these issues.
How can bad karma be removed?
Act properly now and donít worry
about the past ! The circumstances of your birth, your parents,
your race, religion and situation or context of your life is the
most conducive for you to atone for past transgression and to grow
spiritually. Donít worry about the past, be here now so that you
can progress spiritually and that is what you must focus on.
Can young adults, male and female, be and work
No. Separation of men and women
is not Indian culture. It is spirituality. The Sai Organization is
a spiritual movement not a social organization. We must conduct
How do you instill Godís consciousness in
Be an exemplar. We should be
engaged in service. Quality first, quantity second. Quality is
everything. We are here to demonstrate and be living examples of
the divine teachings of Swami in the context of service. Donít
become grandiose and lose sight of the teachings of Swami.
Can the Sai organization set up a business arm
to finance its projects?
No. Do not exceed your own
resources in time, money, equipment, or resources of any kind. The
means is everything, the end is in Godís hands. It is ludicrous to
solicit money to finance spiritual service.
Is it worthwhile to bring in a code of conduct
for office bearers?
Yes, it is imperative. All this
is forthcoming. Certainly, the World Charter and guidelines will
be revised and issued by Swamiís 80th
Have past recommendations / decisions in
previous world conferences be implemented?
No. There is no uniform
application of the prior recommendations / decisions. The past
recommendations will be reviewed and new guidelines will be given
for all that are clear and appropriate.
What is the term of an office bearer? Can they
stay in office for longer than four years?
The two year term, with a
possibility of one extension for two years, is the general rule.
However, there can be exceptions to the rule. We donít want to
create vacuum. The rule is not rigid.
How do we avoid speaking ill of others?
Donít do it. Keep Quiet !
In some Sai centers, Hindu religious festivals
are celebrated through rituals like Yagnas and Abishegams; these
drive people of other faiths away. Please advise on how the
situation may be improved.
There is only one religion and
that is the religion of love. And there is only one God who is
omnipresent. Religions were formed in different times of human
civilization; they differ in emphasis, not in essence. The Lord
took human form to save man at different times. This is a
spiritual, not a religious movement. If a center is predominantly
Hindu devotees, then go to a mandhir to do your rituals to
practice Hinduism; Muslims may go to mosques, Christians to
churches and so on. But in Sai centers, all are one. Understand
that Sai incorporates all religions; donít confine centers to only
a litany of rituals and bhajans that are reflective of one
religion. Start being more broadminded. There is however one
caveat to this. Bhajans are expressions of adorations for God. If
you are unable to sing other bhajans and songs, then donít change;
you are not ready to change. Donít change abruptly in a way that
causes trauma. But strive to have a broader perspective and to
understand Swamiís spiritual message and ultimately to see God in
all his forms.
Youth activities are seen to be deteriorating
into social activity.
Youth is part of the Sai
organization. Activities must be spiritual not social.
Reiki, chakra healing - can these be spiritual
activities in realizing God?
I can only comment on these
activities in the context of the Sai organization. These
activities are not part of Sai organization. I am not qualified to
comment on whether these activities are constructive or not. On
one occasion, a person in the USA who was practicing Reiki, was
using Swamiís name on his programmes. I asked him to remove
Swamiís name. His sincere response was that his Reiki teacher had
asked and received Swamiís blessings. To determine the veracity of
the claim, I presented this to Swami. Swami said "No, these
activities are not part of the Sai organization; tell him to
remove my Name from the literature etc." Do not associate Swamiís
Name with these activities.
Are we required to spread Swamiís message? Is
it right for Sai organizations to move towards this end?
We have just had public meetings
in Rome, London, Argentina. Does Swami want to be famous? Swami
seeks no fame nor name. By having these meetings, we benefit
spiritually. We stand up and bear witness to the Truth with
dignity, thereby strengthening our own faith and self confidence.
We are not asking anything from anybody; hopefully we are giving
something of spiritual value to everyone.
How relevant are ritualistic practices in the
They have some place but this is
diminutive. They are contraindicated if they are confined to one
religion to the detriment of others. Universality should not be
compromised or subordinated by particular practices of any one
religion; there are religious houses in each religion in which
those rituals may be pursued. But Sai centers are spiritual and
not religious organizations.
How is it that the salutation "Sri" is still
being used in Sai centers?
The term "Sri" denotes respect and
acknowledgement of oneís stature. There is no harm in using the
term "Sri". It is not against the rules of the Sai organization.
Sai World Charter and Funds Management
The rules regarding the Sai
World Charter will be revised. Regarding funds management, we
never had any solicitation of funds. Many years ago, Jack Hislop
asked Swami what is the most important consideration in a Sai
organization and Swami replied that we should have as little to do
with money as possible.
Report of the Sai Convention held
in Singapore from 29th May to 30th May 2004
Proceedings day 1 - http://www.saiaustralia.org.au/release/217_attachment2.pdf
©Sathya Sai Baba Organisation
of Australia and PNG