Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Experiences by Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba


Sai Baba's Year Of Peace - 1998

Passport 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 arrived.

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 - Peace -

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 Within."

Now, here is the first outline of a talk, given by Shalini Satkunanandan.


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 want peace".

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 pain".

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 equanimity.

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 detach.

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, shortly.

They include talks given by Izak Janowski and Neville Fredericks

Om Sai Ram Shanti Shanti Shanti

Source: http://www.angelfire.com/pa/padsaigroup/peace.htm

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