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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  Speech by Dr. Michael Goldstein on 29th May 2004




DATE: 29TH MAY 2004



With humility and love I offer my pranams at Bhagavan Baba’s Divine Lotus Feet.

As Sai devotees, we know that the most important achievement is to know ourselves. The most important joy, the greatest joy, is to know selfless love.

Many years ago I had the good fortune to be seated at Swami’s divine lotus feet. I watched him as he gazed out the window. I could see his eyes. I had the impression that Swami was not looking at the buildings and the people and trees and all the things in the vicinity of the window, but rather He was looking out beyond the Earth into the Universe.

And suddenly I had the temerity to say to Swami, "Swami, will you let me see the world through your eyes." Swami looked at me, and smiled like the divine Mother and Father that He is, and he said to me "If I let you see, you will not want your work, you will not want your home, you will not want your family, you will not want your body."

How many times has Swami instructed us that we are not these bodies, we are not these minds, we are the divine indweller who resides in our spiritual hearts. Many many times, Swami has instructed us to understand that the body is merely a vehicle for the divine indweller.

I am very happy to inform all of you that Swami’s physical condition is improving dramatically and he has declined medical information and intervention and is effecting his cure by his own divine will.

Swami is permitting us to see Him struggle with the physical form. He permits us to see apparent physical suffering and limitations of the physical form. We must ask ourselves, "Why is this so?" What lesson should be derived from this heart wrenching experience? Surely all of you have asked yourselves this question. Let us focus on Swami. Despite His apparent suffering and impediments, He continues to care for His devotees and for the universe. And you will see, when I describe Swami’s increasing role in the development of the Sai Organisation, His activities and involvement in everything have actually increased. It is my experience that His expectation of us has also increased. Let us not speculate about the mystical significance of Swami’s injuries or condition; that is a waste of time. Further, or rather, let us see what is in front of us, understand it, learn from it and apply what we learn.

Swami has permitted us to see Him with this apparent physical suffering and disability. And in this state, His love and activity on our behalf has increased, not decreased. He is not his physical body and He is demonstrating that to all of us in a most dramatic manner because we have to learn that eternal truth about ourselves. As a result of experiences that I had with Swami recently, I see that His suffering does not diminish His love, His suffering does not diminish the intensity and productivity of His actions. In fact, the illustration of His suffering seems to have resulted in an increase in His involvement with us individually and collectively as the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation.

To comprehend the very fundamental lesson of the physical ordeal Swami has taken upon Himself, we might consider Swami’s well known words "Take one step towards me and I will take ten steps towards you." Now, for every one step of His, we should take ten steps or a hundred or a thousand steps forward in our spiritual journey to recognise divinity within ourselves. One thousand steps forward in progressing towards the spiritual development of the world outside ourselves. Let us transform our selfish madness into nobility of character. The madness of man manifests as the six carnal enemies lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment and jealousy and the nobility of the man manifests as the universal Human Values such as Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi, Prema, Ahimsa. Truth, Right Action, Peace, Love and Non-violence.

If we look back we can see that He has been telling us for years to treat His spiritual teachings seriously and experience their truth. In his Ugadi discourse this last March, Swami said, and I quote Swami, "Many years have gone by but your old habits have not changed and your lives remain the same. The reason is that you are not making an effort to experience the principle of divinity which is present in all in the form of love." End of quote.

What words from Swami. Many years have gone by and you have not changed your habits and you have not changed your life. To hear Swami say this to us!

We have been impervious to His exhortations. Now He has caught our attention. His apparent suffering should not become an emotional burden that immobilises us; it should become a source of energy and motivation to follow Him at last, to apply his lessons to our lives at last, to become his genuine devotees at last.

Our solitary inward spiritual journey is enhanced by the scenery that we enjoy and benefit from together. I refer to our roles and responsibilities and work in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation. Each of us, empowered by our devotion to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is moving God-ward, some faster than others, some further than others, but all of us are moving God-ward; if it were not so, then we would not be here together now.

That reminds me of Bro Ravi’s words; very very kind words. Bro Ravi referred to my talk as a divine discourse. There are no intermediaries between Swami and all people in the world. All people in the world have a heart-to-heart connection with Swami. No one can give a divine discourse other than Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

However, every man and every woman, and every word that they utter, if they have transcended "me and mine", if they have conquered their selfish desires, every word is a divine discourse.

Each of us must be genuinely striving to realise our own divinity. Then we will all be truly empowered to serve our brothers and sisters and contribute to the spiritual upliftment of mankind. Sai vision is the sight and insight of the divine indweller who resides in our hearts. And the Sai mission is contributing to the illumination of mankind so that all people recognise their divinity and act according to Sai vision. Our vision and our mission, broadly stated, is that Bhagavan Baba, divine incarnation, Kali Yuga Avatar, has come to inspire us to realize our own divinity. In so doing, we will have all knowledge and all power. We will still fulfill the menial tasks associated with our worldly roles. But more importantly, we will devote our love, wisdom and time to the service of all people. We will bring people together in this knowledge, thereby restoring the unity of divinity in the diversity of His creation.

God has divided Himself into many and His sheep have gone astray. By realising our own divinity, we bring ourselves and help to bring our fellow human beings back into the fold so that the Divine Shepherd is pleased.

Our vision and our mission are spiritual according to the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Therefore, they are eternally true, they are expansive, they are inclusive and their substance is selfless love.

Most of us contribute to the disunity of mankind. We identify, divide and classify ourselves into different personalities and as a result of the illusion of Maya, we are attached to these personalities. These minds and bodies that should be regarded as tools to do God’s works become the focal points of our existence. This is the root cause of disunity. We further contribute to disunity when we identify, divide and classify ourselves as members of different religions, races and nationalities and become attached to these superficial and worldly designations. We reinforce diversity and subordinate the unity of mankind.

As members of a spiritual organisation, actually a spiritual movement, we must ask ourselves, are we creating the kinetic energy of selfless love? Is there spiritual synergism in our collective actions? If not, it is better that we have no organisation rather than demean the sacred name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

While order and understanding are prerequisites to accomplishment, bureaucracy is antithetical to spiritual process. Therefore, let us beware, lest we institutionalise mediocrity, let us take care lest we trivialise divinity. The Sai Spiritual Centre is the nucleus of the international organisation that Swami has so graciously permitted us to form in His name. The Sai Centre is a sacred place, not a business place. The Sai Centre is a sacred place, not a social place. The Sai Centre is a spiritual place, a universal place, not a religious or philosophical place. As Sai devotees, as spiritual aspirants, we have embarked on this monumental campaign to realise our divine heritage, yet we ourselves present the greatest obstacle to our spiritual progress.

Is this not a paradox? No, it is not a paradox. Permit me to answer my own question. Swami has explained the role of man in God’s view during the different Yugas or spiritual ages.

During the Tretha Yuga, Sri Rama waged war against the demon Ravana in another land?

During the Dwapara Yuga, Sri Krishna gave counsel to the noble Pandavas and advised them to vanquish the evil Kauravas living in the same land, and members of the same family.

And in this Kali Yuga, the age in which we live, Swami teaches us that the battlefield between good and evil, the Kurukshetra is in the minds and hearts of every man and every woman.

We must forget me and mine, we must forget desire and worldly attachment, we must remember that we are the divine indweller, the Lord who resides in our spiritual hearts and whose selfless love knows no limits.

I am happy to report to you that Swami had so very graciously given His guidance to the overseas Sri Sathya Sai Organisation and we will begin very soon, to put into practice the treasures that He has so generously bestowed upon us. We will restore the profound spiritual depth of the Organisation that bears the name of Divinity Incarnate Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. We will reinvigorate the great spiritual dedication, commitment and great enthusiasm that have been responsible for the advent of the spiritual movement and unprecedented widespread worldly growth.

While each of us must take that solitary walk alone within ourselves, we visit with each other during our spiritual journey, reinforcing each other, encouraging each other, selflessly loving each other. This is the substance of our Sai Organisation, our Sai spiritual movement, our Sai Satsang.

This conference like any function of the Sai Organisation will not have a good outcome unless there is an unobstructed flow of love and wisdom. This flow is the essential prerequisite for the spiritual process. This flow is unobstructed, it is pure and strong when our conscience prevails over our egos and our desires. Do we have sufficient faith in divinity to sustain us and enable us to derive the spiritual benefits that Swami has made accessible to us? Of course we do. The fact Swami has brought us here attests to the strength of that faith. He has brought us here to deepen that faith and spiritual awareness so that we can actively and consciously participate in the Divine Mission, in the great works that lie ahead.

Regarding our mission, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba demonstrates divinity and inspires us to seek spiritual transformation. As the Divine Exemplar, His divine message instructs in the nature and ways of Divinity and inspires us to consider the purpose of life, spiritual transformation, and how we can apply ourselves to accomplish this purpose of our lives.

As the Divine exemplar, His divine works inspire us to serve selflessly, to emulate Him and to transcend our imagined limitations. Our vision is that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as the Divine Exemplar is the incarnation of the all pervasive consciousness that is God. The nature of God is selfless love. Swami is accelerating the spiritual evolution of human civilisation through individual transformation and through the transformation of the institutions of society. We are the spiritual aspirants striving to be constantly aware of the all pervasive consciousness. Society is the beneficiary of our spiritual progress, because as we progress we experience the divine imperative to serve selflessly. That is the nature of humanity. Our selflessness will determine the effects of our good works.

Our mission is to do these good works having realised our good selves. Doing good works without love, without selflessness comes to naught. When the universal vision is clear, when you have a sense of your spiritual being, then your spiritual mission, what you should do, becomes immediately evident. It is selfless.

In this conference, like in the world, there is inner work and outer work. The Agenda of this Conference, the workshops and your deliberations and the meetings constitute the outer work. The outer work consists of many worthwhile tasks that encompass the worldly work, the mundane matters at hand. However, the most important in a real and lasting sense is the inner work. If we accomplish the inner work, the outer work will take care of itself. The inner work cannot be reduced to a series of tasks. It is a spiritual process; it is fulfilling the covenant between us and God.

In our Sai Organisation now, we are becoming embroiled with cultural issues, social issues, financial issues, project issues, organisational issues, "etc etc" issues. Many issues are brought forth from the world outside ourselves. Swami has been saying repeatedly that there is only one issue. The transformation of each and every one of us that will result in embracing wholeheartedly His Divine teachings. All the rest will follow, all the rest will unfold as it should, all the rest will be God’s will because as a result of embracing the divine teachings we will surrender. As a result of our surrender we will be transformed, as a result of our spiritual transformation, our actions will reflect Dharma and raise God-consciousness in the world. To raise God-consciousness in the world is seva.

I’m not advocating forsaking our worldly responsibilities. I am advocating the fulfillment of our worldly responsibilities with wisdom and love that comes from within ourselves. We forsake the search for pleasure and power; we love and serve selflessly, finding God always in everyone, everywhere. That is the way of spirituality.

The convenant with God, to which I referred, is the ageless promise between man and God. If we seek within ourselves we will find the Lord and the Lord is us.

Our covenant is with God but our worldly interactions are between other men and women. Swami says that Atma is beyond rules and regulations but we need them to prevent the meandering of our minds. We need commitment and mutual understanding in the human sense so that we can work together in a divine sense.

Let us consider the nature and purpose of Sai Organisation in the world and in our hearts. What is this Sai Organisation? The Sai Organisation is a spiritual movement with a worldly structure to which divinity incarnate Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has lent his name.

The Sai Organisation, or any genuine spiritual organisation, has no life without the conscience of each man and woman in that Organisation. It is not spiritual, it is not of God or from God, God being immersed and permeated by consciousness or selfless love. This can only happen if the organisation is guided by the conscience of each man and woman acting together in the spirit of selfless love. It is for this purpose that Swami has lent His name to this Organisation.

As an Organisation, order and communication are prerequisite to accomplishment. However bureaucracy and mediocrity are antithetical to spiritual progress. The Sai Organisation is our home. We, the members of the household, the brothers and sisters of the Sai family must keep our house clean and wholesome so that it is fit to welcome all people as the embodiments of divinity that they are. All who come to the door should be regarded as Swami himself. All of us should regard each other as Swami himself, and in so doing, we become Swami; that is our goal.

Our organisation is a spiritual movement, comprised of sincere spiritual aspirants who have faith in the omnipresent divinity. The Sai Organisation must be a spiritual movement, not a political interaction. We must not neutralise or compromise our philosophical differences through negotiation. Let us not trivialise divinity. Let us find unity by transcending our differences through inspiration. The Sai Organisation must be an instrument of His Love that uplifts us all, and all who behold us, so that everyone comes closer to the realisation of their own divinity. That’s the point.

What is this Divine Mission we talk about so much? Some think it is the works of Swami, some think it is the words of Swami, some think it is the advent and functioning of the Sai Organisation. All of these things are merely minor aspects of the mission like grains of sand in an expansive desert. The divine mission consists of the great mystical works of the Lord Bhagavan Baba. These small visible manifestations are merely grains of sand in the great desert.

Let us not look out into the world and follow the path of zeal or worldly action. Let us look into our own hearts and follow the path of real inspiration to find ourselves. Then we will uplift the world. Do not follow the path of zeal, follow the inner path, then we will uplift the world.

What is the purpose of the Sai Organisation? The purpose of the Sai Organisation is not to see how many hungry people we can feed, how many people sick people we can cure, how many children we can teach, how many centres we can open, how many schools we can build etc etc. All of these things are good things but this is not the purpose of the Sai Organisation.

The purpose of the Sai Organisation is to inspire each and every man and women with whom we come into contact to better understand and adhere to the eternal spiritual principles through our own exemplary being.

To the extent that each of us succeeds, we grow spiritually and the beneficial effect that we as individuals and collectively as an organisation will have on the world will grow proportionately. Then these service activities and institutions will emanate selfless love, and they will be genuinely worthwhile. They will feed spiritual hunger and need, instead of feeding the egos of the ostentatious who have no conception of selflessness. Make this distinction.

In our Organisation, planning devotional service and education projects is the business at hand. Selfless love and experiencing divine consciousness is the business at heart.

How does the Sai Organisation achieve its purpose? We have a common bond, our love for Bhagavan Baba and a common goal, to realise our own divinity. We join together in a spirit of love and acknowledge our common universal goal.

We devise the ways and means to manifest our bond and goal in this world without desire for reward or recognition. In a worldly sense, we meet and agree that we are divine, that Bhagavan Baba is the embodiment of Divinity and that we have the capacities to realise that divinity and put aside this trivial life of me and mine. Ultimately through spiritual love, our minds and bodies are subordinated to our hearts, thus we all become of one mind, the universal mind, the over-mind, the unlimited mind, the infinite mind that transcends the temporal frame of mind.

Ultimately the Purpose of the Organisation is to provide the circumstances in which unity, purity and divinity is manifest in ourselves and in the world. How do we derive maximum benefit from Sai Organisations? It is very simple. The divine indweller becomes the ruler of our being, and his qualities emerge. They are manifested in the world by each of us; we are the personifications of the Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi, Prema, Ahimsa. It is very very simple. Swami says it is a very easy path. Those are Swami’s words. It is a very easy path.

This process restores the divine monarchy in our being. Each of us becomes the king or queen of creation that we have always truly been. Do you require the Organisation to do this? No, you do not require the Organisation. Can the Organisation be helpful and accelerate your spiritual progress? Yes, most certainly it can.

We should remember who we were before and recognize who we have become after our involvement in the Sai Organisation. What does involvement in the Sai Organisation mean? What should it mean? It should mean deepening of our devotion to our divine Lord Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It should mean always striving to be always aware of our own divinity. It should mean that we are consciously involved in selfless action and love in the world. It should mean that we have adopted a spiritual way of life enhanced by our organisational programmes and activities and perpetuated by our own faith, determination and self-confidence. These goals are the purpose of human life. We are all striving consciously and unconsciously to achieve these goals.

Permit me to say a word about office bearers in the Sai Organisation. The Sai Organisation is a spiritual movement whose purpose is to move each of us and our respective societies God-ward. Our common bond is that we all love Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and revere him as the embodiment of divinity. And our common goal, as I already said, is that we all believe that heaven, self-realisation, realisation of our innate divinity can be achieved by all people through faith, selfless love and determination while we live on this earth.

As office bearers in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, we are all volunteers who aspire to self-realisation. We seek not power nor recognition but rather an opportunity to selflessly serve our fellow men and women. We serve Swami by serving his devotees. We recognize that if we are not doing service, we are doing disservice. That which raises God consciousness in the world is service, that which does not is disservice.

It is written in the Bible that no man can serve two masters. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

As office bearers, we are indeed volunteers. Being a volunteer does not negate the need for discipline and maintenance of order in the Sai Spiritual Organisation. The administration of the organisation that bears Swami’s name will not be bureaucratic or military in attitude, neither will it be lackadaisical and permit everyone to do what they want when they want.

If we have faith in Swami and his teachings, then we regard the opportunity to volunteer as a great privilege and opportunity to progress spiritually. Anyone who is an office-bearer for any reason other than this, other than the yearning to progress spiritually has made a mistake which is detrimental to that person and to the people who should be served and to the organisation.

We must realise volunteering our services to this organisation means that we accept responsibility and accountability and act accordingly. As an officer-bearer in the Sathya Sai Organisation, if you are not motivated to serve selflessly, then it is better for you and those around you that you stand aside and let someone else step forward.

Those of you who undertake the service of maintaining the Sathya Sai Baba Spiritual Centres, serving our brothers and sisters as office bearers, have a sacred responsibility. We cannot accomplish anything without being aware of our purpose. Each of us should deeply examine our own motives in serving as an office-bearer in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation.

In my view, the criteria for being an effective office-bearer in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation in the order of importance are first, selflessness, second, dedication and third, competence.

If there is no selflessness, we cannot serve spiritually. If there is no selflessness, there is attachment. If there is attachment, there can be no universal spiritual perspective.

If there is no dedication, we will not serve spiritually. If there is no dedication, there would be no determination. And without determination, there would be no sustained effort.

If there is no competence, then we do not serve spiritually as well as we could and should. Without competence, there is a lack of ability and the results of our efforts are somewhat deficient.

However, if we have selflessness and we have dedication but lack competence, we might stumble and fumble but we will still be able to touch the sensitive heart.

Office-bearers in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation when called upon to speak should first speak of spirituality according to Swami’s teachings. Then speak of the spiritual nature of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation according to Swami’s teachings. Then speak of your personal spiritual experience with an attempt to speak uplifting truth and project the spirit of selfless love.

The convenors of the three groups in this conference should reflect this attitude as they conduct the deliberations of this conference. We are united in our bond of love and in our spiritual goals. We also require unity of purpose, and unity of practice, which requires unity of people. Unity of people requires spiritual-minded people. We are not advocating military discipline and corporate efficiency; we are advocating orderliness and understanding through love.

The organisation enables us to plan and act effectively, because we have a common understanding of our spiritual purpose and methods. The organisation is an instrument of divine will if it operates as it should. However, the organisation becomes an obstacle to spiritual progress if we permit ourselves to become embroiled in politics, personalities and pettiness. Then we become small-minded bureaucrats and the organisation becomes a group of well-meaning foolish people unworthy of bearing the name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Let us not permit that. Never never never. We mustn’t let that happen.

We must think before we speak and consult our conscience before we act. Restoration of spiritual ideals, reinvigoration of commitment and spiritually uplifting activity by all Sai devotees will result in spiritual growth of individual devotees of the Sai Organisation and growth in public awareness of the spiritual life, works and teachings of Bhagavan Baba. Ultimately this will lead to growth in public participation in spiritual programmes of the Sai Organisation.

The restoration and reinvigoration is inevitable. There is also a need for assessment and accountability in the organisation. We must put our house in order and keep it that way.

Heretofore, many of us have been complacent, even apathetic, regarding the organisational responsibilities that we have volunteered to undertake. Many of us initiated actions inappropriately without proper consultation. All centres are part of a national organisation which is part of an international region which is part of an international zone which is part of the overseas Sri Sathya Sai Organisation.

Certainly it is the duty of the chairman and the responsibility of the Prasanthi Council to assist the international leaders. More importantly, however, the primary function of the chairman and the Council is to serve all devotees and society. We are all spiritual volunteers, committed to uplifting the spiritual organisation that bears the divine name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. If we fail to act, or act improperly, we detract from our own spiritual progress, we detract from the progress of others depending on the scope of our responsibilities and most importantly we detract from the divine name.

We will now resolutely address this matter by expecting and reciprocating wholehearted cooperation in the affairs of the organisation as they relate to works like these. We will evaluate the current structure of the organisation and the officers who are responsible for its administration. Then we will be able to establish clarity and efficacy. We will be vigilant with the discovery of new people, who have depth of spiritual understanding, commitment, and love for Swami in their spiritual work. By taking these steps, the organisation will evolve and grow in spiritual quality and worldly quantity as well.

Before concluding, I would like to say a word about the young adults. The youth must bring their enthusiasm, creativity and courage to explore innovations into the organisation. The organisation will greatly benefit from their qualities. The youth must recognize that among the members and elders of the Sai Organisation they will find examples of selfless love and profound wisdom and extensive spiritual knowledge. The young adults must have humility so that they can optimise the benefits they will enjoy from being with people of this calibre.

Both the elders and the youth as groups must forsake their arrogance and rejoice in the wonders of each other. The elders must see themselves as they were at a younger age and marvel how spiritually precocious are our young adults. The young adults must see the beauty and goodness that is resulted from many years of devotion to the spiritual life demonstrated by many of the elders. They must emulate and honour these exemplary qualities. These are the proper relationships. The spiritual equilibrium that must prevail between our youth and the members of the Sai Centre who are no longer youths.

All of us must remember that Swami pays little attention to chronology. Once he pointed to a man in his nineties and said "He is a youth." Swami was referring to his inner qualities.

We will empower the youth to serve in all aspects of the organisation, but we will also have expectation of the youth to comport themselves properly according to the 5 "Ds", devotion, discipline, dedication, determination and discrimination. We expect them to embrace and support the Sai Organisation wholeheartedly. Swami has said that we should regard the youth as the leaders of tomorrow. All of us should recognise that the leaders of tomorrow must be the participants of today.

My dear brothers and sisters, Swami has provided us with this opportunity in the spirit of love, to conduct meaningful discussions. Let us deeply explore what we feel, what we believe, what we are doing and what we want to achieve within the framework of the agenda that has been provided. We are all familiar with the threefold pathway to God: realisation, devotion and action. We all know that in the end the three pathways merge. We are each drawn to that aspect of divinity that provides us what we need to progress. Therefore, regardless of which conference group you attend, the means and the end are the same. The means and the end are Love.

As we share our Sai love during these two days, may we all be drawn closer to the realisation of our heart of hearts, the divine indweller, the Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Jai Sai Ram.

Michael Goldstein


Prashanthi Council

29th May 2004

Extracted from 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

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