Sai Baba's Year Of Peace - 1998
To Peace - An Inner Journey
On February 21st 1998, the
Paddington Sai Group and the Strathfield Sai Centre hosted the
first in a series of seminars and gatherings, in honour of Sri
Sathya Sai Baba's announcement that 1998 is - The Year Of Peace.
As information is gathered, it will be placed up onto this site,
to bring forth the wonderful message many shared at the first
Peace Conference. The "theme" was PEACE and everyone attending
agreed, they left with a greater sense of peace than when they
There were a number of Speakers covering the various aspects of -
Peace. Such as - What Disturbs My Peace ? After each theme, a
workshop was held, with groups of 20 discussing the particular
issue. There were a number of musical interludes and a beautiful
dance, given by the children of the Strathfield Centre. In the
near future, there will be some photographs shared on this site,
taken at the Seminar.
We should also take to heart the words of Indulal Shah to the
Central Coordinators, when he gave the following indicators to -
1998 - Year of Peace
"Year of Peace - We have celebrated the Years of Truth and Dharma
by organising various talks, exhibitions and leadership programs,
both in different countries as well as in Prashanthi Nilayam. We
have received plenty of guidance from Bhagavan’s discourses during
the last year, both on Truth and Dharma. In the Year of Peace we
have to understand and define Peace. To experience Peace we will
have to find out its form and the method of acquiring it. As far
as following Truth and Dharma in daily life is concerned, human
nature is not very particular, but when it comes to Peace everyone
is interested because everyone wants Peace without knowing that
Peace cannot be experienced unless we go through the path of
Dharma and understand the inner significance of Truth - God
Now, here is the first outline of a talk, given by Shalini
OM SAI RAM
What disturbs our peace ? & Why does it disturb our peace ?
A couple of months ago I was asked to speak at this Peace
Workshop. At first I was very reluctant, mainly because I felt
wholly unqualified to speak on peacefulness. My life and my state
of mind are often a study in chaos. But then the organisers
assured me: "Shalini we didn’t have you in mind to speak on peace,
we thought you should speak on what disturbs peace. Please share
your thoughts on lack of peace". So here I am today. I’m not sure
whether should be offended or relieved. But as its not often that
one is over qualified to speak on a subject so I felt I shouldn’t
miss the opportunity.
I have learnt a great deal from considering the question "What
disturbs my peace?" and I hope to share it with you. But the first
thing I learnt is that this is not a question that somebody else
can answer for us. It is something that we each have to answer for
ourselves. Something that may devastate me, may not even cause you
to flinch. We have to take the time to look deeply into our
personalities and the subtleties of our natures to discover what
things worry, irritate and destabilise us. It is only when we have
answered this question that we have taken the first step on the
road to peace.
The difficulty is that with our busy lifestyles we are often
reluctant to spend the time to look inside ourselves.
Self-awareness is for those with nothing better to do. We always
know when a family member or close friend is about to have a mood.
We make sure we stay right away and avoid them at all costs. But
when we have a mood we are always the last to know.
Peace requires active investigation and curiosity about our
favourite subject, namely ourselves. This is the one kind of
self-absorption that God actually allows, so we should indulge.
The fact that we all have different reactions to a particular
event demonstrates what we all know in theory: It is not a
particular event that disturbs our peace, but rather our reaction
to that event. One the one hand this knowledge is wonderfully
liberating. It shows that we have the capacity to create peace for
ourselves. But at the same time it removes the best excuse we have
for being irritable, sulky or depressed. It means we can’t blame
something or somebody else for our moods. Sorry I was just upset
because I had a stressful day at work is no longer a valid excuse.
We have only ourselves to blame not the event. That’s a scary but
also a wonderful thought. As Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita :
"By your own hand pull yourself up. You are your own best friend
and your own worst enemy".
Baba has told a story about Buddha which illustrates this. Once a
man who did not like Buddha’s teachings yelled a tirade of vulgar
abuse at him. The man continued until he was frothing at the mouth
through rage. But Buddha just sat there smiling and eventually
asked sweetly and with a smile "Brother have you finished?" The
man was stunned. He said "You have no sense of shame; you do not
show any resentment". Then Buddha said "If a kinsman (relative)
comes to your door from a distant place, and when you see him, if
you so much as say hello, he will enter in, deposit his things in
your house and stay on as your guest; but if you do not notice
him, if you ignore his arrival, he will return along the road that
brought him and you will be rid of him, isn’t it? So, too I shall
take no notice of this tirade and let it go the way it came."
Now Buddha, having renounced his worldly life, obviously knew
nothing of family politics, but he did know about peace. He showed
that peace is within our grasp. Indeed Baba says that it is our
natural state. So the first answer to the question "What disturbs
my peace ?" should always be "I disturb my peace". Baba always
says when you point the finger outwards, criticising somebody
else, three fingers point back at you. The same philosophy applies
to peace. What disturbs my peace ? I disturb my peace.
Baba speak of his devotees coming to him and saying "Baba, I want
peace". Baba says that if you remove the "I", the ego, and the
"want", desire, you will have peace. Today I want to look at the
question of how we disturb our peace, in terms of the phrase "I
First, I would like to consider "the want", desire. It is part of
our nature to search for pleasure and at the very least to avoid
pain. We are all seeking, subconsciously or otherwise, a permanent
happiness of some sort. There is nothing wrong or unholy about
this desire. The only trouble is that we look in the wrong places.
We mislead our ourselves as to what can provide us with this
happiness and often let society dictate to us what is meant by
success, what can give us self-satisfaction and joy We invest much
time and energy accumulating objects, status and relationships in
the hope that they will provide us with happiness and shield us
from suffering.. Yet the pleasure these things provide is short
lived. It is in Baba’s words an "interval between two periods of
Friends move away or for some reason they are no longer our
friends. Cars, clothing move in and out of fashion. No promotion
or status will ever be the highest. Sometimes we even cling onto
ideas, opinions or political view points to give us a sense of
meaning or purpose. But these are changeable as well. Baba quite
scathingly calls all of these things "tinsel". Bright, glittery
and flimsy. They make us operate to earthly standards. Its easy
become petty, think small and miss the bigger spiritual game It is
the very nature of these things that they should end, but our
mindset does not accept suffering. It has to be trained to treat
ups and downs with equanimity.
There is a beautiful story which I think is from the Mahabharatha
that illustrates this. Once Lord Krishna gave Dharmaraja the
eldest Pandava a piece of paper. Krishna said whenever you are
very happy or very sad take out this paper and read it. The paper
said "This will not last". This is a simple truth that we have all
experienced but are reluctant to believe. Not many of us at the
height of joy over a new job promotion would remind ourselves that
"This will not last". If we could have the courage to do this then
maybe we would finally realise the impermanence of worldly things.
The next thing I would like to consider is the "I", the ego. Baba
has explained how our desires contribute to the growth of our
egos. The passions created by our desires cause us to forget our
higher self. Instead of seeing all the world as one, we start to
see the world in terms of "I" and "Mine", "Good" and "Bad". We see
many instead of one. Feelings such as jealousy, resentment and
competition erupt. These all combine to disturb our peace. Baba
says "When the One is realised, there can be no fear; for how can
the One fear itself? There can be no desire, for when there is no
second, how can the desire to possess arise".
When we see divisions, Baba says our minds become like newspapers.
highlighting all the conflicts and problems that we experience or
hear of each day. We seek out the vices of others and dwell on
their faults and problems. These shocks and focus on conflict
weaken the mind. We forget that good and evil can coexist in the
world.". Even trivial incidents can then agitate the mind.
Forgetting our oneness with the divine also disturbs our peace
because then our sense of self comes from how we compare with
other people. Our ego enters the scene and ruins our peace. There
will always be somebody better than us, somebody more glamorous,
more successful, more popular.
Some times this " I" can even enter our spiritual life, when we
compare our level of holiness with others eg I pray more than she
does, I do more service why doesn’t Baba give me an interview ? We
may feel that we are living a spiritual life immersed in love, but
yet we have no peace. This is, according to Baba, because our love
is restricted, there must still be some ego mixed in it".
Baba says that our ego is like a football. If we inflate it can be
kicked around, thrown in the air and generally disturb us greatly.
We will suffer many hard knocks and bruises from life if we allow
our egos to be pumped up. But if we deflate our egos, like a flat
football, then we cannot be kicked around. Nothing can shake us.
The ego is not only a sense of superiority, it is also a sense of
inferiority. We lack confidence when we fail to identify with the
divinity in all and the divine powers within us. Without this
confidence it is difficult for us to face obstacles with
Only when we strive to see this oneness and sacrifice our ego and
our desires to a higher goal will worldly struggles be unable to
disturb us. Only when we move from "I" and "Mine" to "we" and
"ours" can we achieve peace. Baba has said "As long as you are
clouded over with this possessive attitude, thinking only of
yourself, your family, your people, your things, you can be
certain that sooner or later you will be cast into sorrow".
This brings me to the "Peace", in "I want peace". What is the
nature of this peace. Baba says pleasure is an interval between
two periods of pain. But this does not mean that peace is a
joyless state. Great spiritual teachers tells us that Peace brings
us pleasure but it is of a more permanent kind because it allows
us to escape the cycle of desires. As Buddha once said "The joys
of pleasure in the world, and those of heaven are not worth a
sixteenth part of the joy arising from the destruction of
craving". This is a happiness that nobody or no event can steal
from our grip. It is an invincible brand of pleasure. Baba defines
this happiness when he says: "You say, happy happy….What is
happiness? Happiness is Union with God!!".
We can’t achieve this union immediately. It takes years of
sadhana. But every now and again we get a glimpse of a higher
reality, a taste of the joy that Baba is describing. I think most
of us have had a glimpse of it. I think its that quiet joy after a
beautiful bhajan or that buzz you get when your meditation has
gone well. Only when we make that connection and learn to tap into
it everyday, can we detach ourselves from worldly desires.
Everyone tells us that the key to peace, is detachment. But we
cannot detach ourselves from worldly pleasures unless we have an
inner spiritual resource to provide us with support. A source that
does not depend on comparison with others and worldly
achievements. Otherwise we will be in free fall when we try to
Sameer will talk later on how to connect with this inner resource.
But the key is to silence the clamour and noise of the outside
world and somehow look within.
Of course this can lead to another danger. The constant
self-investigation and self-criticism involved in the spiritual
struggle can cause us to become bogged down in our own
negativities. Baba warns against this and says that we should only
ever concentrate on the good in ourselves. As it is the nature of
the mind to grab onto things, we may start to define ourselves by
our past bad habits instead of our potential for good. So
spiritual struggles may be unsettling as well, and we must be wary
of this as we begin them.
The answer to the question "What disturbs my peace?" is I disturb
my peace. The power to attain peace lies with us. Baba say "No one
can liberate you, for no one has bound you. You hold on to the
nettle of worldly pleasure and you weep for pain".
Just before I end I would like to share one last thought. It maybe
difficult to spare the time needed to investigate ourselves and
find what disturbs our peace. We are all busy with our various
responsibilities and as Sai fans many of us are frantic serving
others. But we all forget that being a peaceful, calm presence in
a room, at work, at a gathering or anywhere is, in itself, a
service to others. It is impossible not to gather strength and
comfort from a peaceful person. They do not have to utter a word,
or move an inch, their mere presence is powerful.
As Phillips Brooks has said "It is the lives, like the stars,
which simply pour down on us the calm light of their bright and
faithful being, up to which we look and out of which we gather the
deepest calm and courage".
Please bookmark and re-visit, as much more will appear here,
They include talks given by Izak Janowski and Neville Fredericks
Om Sai Ram Shanti Shanti Shanti