Continuing our feature Getting Spiritually
Better, we offer below the fifth instalment. We hope
you like it, and would share it with others who are interested
in enquiry and self-improvement. Do write and tell us what
you think, how you find it, whether it is useful, and in what
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Thank you and Jai Sai Ram.
WE MUST GIVE AND NOT GRAB
Earlier we saw that if Creation/Nature/Society is viewed
as distinct from God, then one's perception and judgement
can both become clouded. One would be deluded by the feeling
that one can make one's own pact with God via prayers, rituals,
and what have you, and thereafter do what one likes when one
goes out into the world. Such behaviour is of course is illogical,
but then as Krishna says in the Bhagavad
Gita, desire and attachment can blind even the most
intelligent of persons to obvious reality.
We see a lot of this illogical behaviour in the world today,
in individuals, in families, in communities, and in nations
as well. Seldom do people realise that strife in society is
born of extreme selfishness. Despite the bloody French and
the Bolshevik Revolutions, the same mistake is being made
over and over again. Somehow, people seem to think that they
know it all, that their actions are infallible, and that they
are above mistakes. One small example is enough to convey
the seventies, terrorism on a global scale was unknown. But
now, terrorism has become so widespread that life has changed
in many communities. Terrorists use deadly weapons like automatic
rifles, grenades, remote-controlled bombs and the like. Most
terrorists are poorly educated and cannot manufacture small
arms and weapons. The factories where they get manufactured
are mostly in the developed countries. Many companies in these
countries saw the manufacture and sale of small arms as a
lucrative business and went about it in a thorough manner.
Initially, dictators were the big customers but soon, deadly
weapons found their way into the hands of groups inclined
towards violence, like rebel groups and terrorists. Now arms
have to be purchased; they don't come free. How to finance
the purchase? Many strategies have been developed, including
drug-trafficking. And who were the best customers of the drugs?
People living in rich countries. Thus, while some people in
the affluent countries were becoming rich by selling arms
to the have-nots, their own countries began to suffer the
'reflection' via drug menace, increase in crime, etc. Here,
one must not forget the irresponsible role played by the media
in giving a lot of prominence to violence in the papers, in
TV, and in films. In short, terrorism has been fathered in
no small measure by the greed of small-arms manufacturers,
and unconsciously perhaps, promoted by the media in its pursuit
of sensationalism. At last, the societies in which these arms
peddlers are located are beginning to feel some of the backlash.
Another example: A good many of the first-world corporations
do not hesitate to bribe left and right to get a 'market-share'
in the so-called developing countries. The multi-nationals
have no compunction in bribing politicians, military men,
and government officials both highly-placed and petty. But
at the end of it all, they cry loud about corruption in these
countries. They reap what they sow.
In short, rich people everywhere are trying to build 'islands
of prosperity' in a vast ocean of poverty. This is just NOT
possible. This trick has NEVER succeeded and it NEVER
will. Baba says, "You cannot have a mound without a pit."
It means that if there are abominably rich somewhere, then
there has got to be other people living in dire poverty elsewhere.
Sometimes, wealth and poverty co-exist right next to each
other, and automatically this produces tension. In 1999 when
Swami went to Bombay, He addressed a huge, elite gathering
there. Prior to Baba's Discourse, many speakers prayed to
Swami to do 'something' about the terrible state prevailing
in the city - high crime rate, kidnapping, extortion, etc.
When it came to Swami's turn, He said that the rich of Bombay
alone were responsible for what was happening. They lived
in posh skyscrapers and penthouses but did not care a damn
about the poor living in horrible slums adjacent to their
swank homes. They wallowed in extreme selfishness and were
preoccupied only with making more and more money, so that
they could have a 'good time'. This just cannot go on. Swami
made it abundantly clear that the wealthy created the imbalance,
and now they have to face the music.
Pure selfishness breeds pure disaster, but curiously, even
when disaster stares in the face, no one is prepared to do
anything. Insensitivity is widely prevalent today, and naturally
this leads to problems - the greater the greed, the greater
is the insensitivity; the greater the insensitivity, the greater
is the disaster that finally descends. All these are well-known
truths and quite easy to understand. But when the mind is
clouded by desire, these obvious facts become very difficult
to comprehend. Instead, one gets deluded by the feeling that
one can 'get away with it'. One CANNOT - there is no
such thing as a free lunch; there never was and there never
Selfishness deludes and deludes heavily. It makes people
imagine that wrong is right, that Adharma
is Dharma, and that they have
a right to do what they are doing. Nowhere is this business
of 'right' more obnoxiously evident than in the media. The
media people believe that they know what is best, that in
their system there are self-corrective forces, and that therefore
they are NOT answerable to anyone. Functioning within
bounds, they can do much good to Society. However, in the
name of 'objective reporting' etc., they can now very much
influence events and shape them the way they want. Thus, crime
and sensationalism have driven out good deeds as news and
events worth reporting. The examples of good people in Society
are not considered newsworthy; instead, prominence is given
to glamour, unscrupulous characters, gory events, and the
like. Everywhere the argument is: "This is what the people
want; this is what they like. Otherwise, how would it all
sell?" Can one say: "People want drugs. So, let
us make cocaine freely available in the super-markets"?
The media fiercely claims its rights. But what about the damage
to Society? Who finally pays the cost of crime, social unrest,
The moral of it all is the following: We
just cannot ignore that we live in a Universe created by God,
that the Earth forms a part of this wonderful Creation of
the Almighty, and that Society is a limb of Nature. Krishna
makes a brief but clear reference in [the Fourth chapter of]
the Gita that the whole of Creation
is like a closed gear-chain. Every entity in Nature forms
a cog-wheel; it is in some manner or the other, linked to
every other entity. Every entity receives and also has to
give. Every entity except man is 'programmed' by Nature to
do this automatically. But man has been given the 'freedom
of choice'. This does NOT mean that he can choose and do as
he likes. Rather, THIS 'FREEDOM' IS REALLY A TEST ADMINISTERED
BY GOD TO SEE IF MAN WOULD MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE. That
choice alone is correct which is in harmony with the rest
of Creation. That choice alone is correct that does not seek
to grab but to receive and give in fair measure as God intended.
The history of mankind clearly shows that civilisation has
grown through co-operation and not through divisive tendencies.
As Baba often tells us, the very word mankind ought to remind
us that man must be KIND!
Some people are likely to get frightened by all this. They
might wonder: "What is all this business about sacrificing
and all that? That may be OK for renunciates, but surely householders
cannot be bound by such strict norms." Swami has addressed
such doubts and given clear answers. He says, one need not
abandon one's family, or one's business, and distribute all
that one has. One can lead a normal life, even a family life.
The only requirement is that one must not succumb to excessive
desires; nor must one ignore the importance of mind and sense
In this context, Baba draws attention to the four guiding
principles of ancient Indians, known as Purushaarthas.
The four components of the Purushaarthas
are: Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha,
meaning, Righteous action, wealth, desire, and Liberation.
What is implied is that one can acquire wealth and one can
have nominal desires, provided they both are within the bounds
of Dharma. A man with a family
would perforce have to seek a certain amount of wealth in
order to fulfil his obligations, and he can certainly have
some legitimate desires [like ensuring good education for
his children, for example], but all this has to be within
the bounds of Dharma. This automatically
forbids cheating, corrupt practices, and the like. Indeed,
all ancient societies have recommended such guidelines. The
common underlying principle is harmony with Creation, and
harmony with the rest of Society. These ideas are more valid
today than ever before.
Today, everyone is gloating over scientific and technological
advances. True, such advances have benefited man a great deal
and made life more comfortable; to that extent, these advances
are to be welcomed. But when man starts to play God [as in
cloning experiments, for example] instead of trying to rise
to the level of God [as God wants man to do], then one must
sit up and take notice. Today, in the name of return to shareholders
and the like, multi-national drug companies do not hesitate
to avoid the development of much-needed vaccines in the poor
countries of the world. Some even go the extent of saying
that if there are epidemics and numerous deaths, that is just
Nature's way of controlling exploding populations. Clearly,
such feelings emanate from the head and NOT the heart. Swami
uses the word Hridaya for the
Heart, and goes on to add: Hridaya
= Hrid + Daya.
Daya means compassion; thus,
THE HEART MUST BE SEAT OF COMPASSION AND NOT CALLOUSNESS.
We conclude with a beautiful little story by Tolstoy, who
drives home the point that children are more natural and easily
co-operate, whereas it is the elders who create division.
The story goes roughly like this: There lived in a small village
in Russia two little girls who were good friends. One day,
it was the birthday of one of these girls, and her mother
had dressed her up in a nice dress, naturally. This girl went
out to meet her friend to show off her new dress and also
to play with the other girl. It so happened that it had rained
earlier, and there were pools of muddy water in many places.
While playing some muddy water splashed on to the new dress,
and the birthday-girl immediately began to cry. Hearing the
wail, her mother rushed out, and seeing what had happened,
slapped the other girl for dirtying the pretty dress of her
dear daughter. It was now the turn of the other girl to cry,
and soon came out her mother, feeling outraged. A violet quarrel
ensued between the two ladies, and the two fathers were forced
to join and take sides. All this attracted a big crowd, and
many who had nothing to do took sides and joined in the quarrel,
creating a huge commotion. At that time, an old man who lived
in the village and who had gone to the neighbouring village
returned. Seeing the commotion, he asked a small boy as to
what was the matter. The boy told the old man what had transpired.
Then slowly, the old man made his way to the centre of the
crowd and addressed the two quarrelling families. He chided
them and said this was not the way to live etc., but the two
warring ladies would simply not listen. They asked him how
they could forget when such gross injustice had been done
- each blamed the other for the whole affair. The old man
then slowly said, "Why do you continue fighting when
the two little girls have forgotten all about the original
incident?" The ladies asked belligerently, "What
do you mean?" He replied, "Come with me," and
took them some distance away from the crowd. There they could
see the two girls playing happily, making paper boats and
letting them float down the flowing rain water. The old man
then said, "If they can forget, why can't you? Learn
from children, if you do not have the sense to reason out
what is correct." The old man then went away, as the
two ladies hung their heads in shame and silently returned
to their homes.
Swami always stresses unity. A good man always sees unity
in diversity. One who is not good sees diversity in unity.
We must be united in the family, in the Sai Organisation,
and in the community in which we live, without compromising
the basics. Life ought to be based on give and take, with
more of give and less of take. We must give with pleasure
and joy and the feeling that we are giving to none other than
God Himself, masquerading as our brother or sister. Nothing
is lost when we give; in fact, much is gained, as St Francis
so clearly reminds us. This is the way to be in harmony with
God, Nature, and mankind.
Make me an instrument
of Your Peace!
Where there is hatred,
let me sow Love;
Where there is injury, Pardon;
Where there is discord, Unity;
Where there is doubt, Faith;
Where there is error, Truth;
Where there is despair, Hope;
Where there is sadness, Joy;
Where there is darkness, Light.
O Divine Master!
Grant that I may not
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving
that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
ADDITIONAL NOTES RELATING TO THE ABOVE
In the world of today, there is too much of grab and
not so much of give. Fortunately, this is not always so.
For example, at the time of great natural calamities like
earthquake, cyclones etc., people do come forward to donate
liberally and offer service in various ways. But by and
large, there is no longer as much sensitivity as there
used to be in olden days.
Some analysts say that people in countries where poverty
has been totally abolished are more sensitive than the
people in countries where abject poverty and wealth co-exist.
They argue that in countries where poverty is common,
many of the well to do have become immune to the difficulties
and the sufferings of others less fortunate and in the
process also become quite insensitive. On the other hand,
people in affluent countries are strangers to poverty,
and they become quite disturbed when they see suffering,
and feel a strong urge to help. All this is sociology.
But even in affluent countries, increasingly the focus
is on "me". Thus it is that people talk of the
"me" generation and so forth. People increasingly
ask, "Why should I help?" or "What's there
in it for me?
Why do people think this way? In one discussion group,
a participant said, "When I look around, I find Adharma
everywhere. People seem to be getting away with it all
the time. My faith in Dharma
is therefore getting shaken. So, I mind my business, try
to honest and good, and leave it at that.
In other words, people develop tunnel vision as they
say, giving one excuse or the other for inaction and insensitivity.
Individuals do this, communities do this, and whole nations
do this. Somehow, people feel they can erect "walls"
and remain secure within. Is this possible? Can one have
islands of security in a vast ocean of misery?
People who have such ideas of impregnable security also
constantly talk of inter-connectivity of the modern world,
how the world is a global village and all that. How can
one have inter-connectivity and isolation at the same
time? Or is that they feel they can have close connection
where grab is concerned and isolation where give is concerned?
When it comes to money making, there is no morality.
The poor have no rights; only the share-holders, and the
companies. Immoral practices are given a dubious legal
veneer, and legitimised through questionable international
Before getting on to the spiritual aspects, it is important
to remember that walls of isolation simply cannot be built,
especially of the one-way type that facilitates grab and
avoids give. Let us say a country becomes very rich. There
is no poverty, and there is a so-called high standard
of living. The people then start looking for "excitement"
in various ways. This takes them to other lands, many
of them very poor. There, while having a good time, they
create severe imbalance, economic and cultural. They also,
unconsciously perhaps, tend to play havoc with both the
Eco-system and local morals. For example, tourism has
tended to destroy many coral reefs in the Far East. In
due course, this imbalance in its own way, recoils upon
The point is that the Law of Reflection, Reaction, Resound
simply cannot be by-passed. The sooner mankind realises
this, the better.
More fundamentally, it is important to realise that there
is a higher purpose to human life, and that it cannot
be based just on taking without giving. On the contrary,
as St. Francis eloquently says in his famous prayer, it
is only in giving that we receive. It would be a crying
shame if man, who is supposed to be the pinnacle of creation,
lags behind other species in this respect.
When it comes to giving, one can recognise people of
four categories. Category one consists of people who are
incapable of ever sharing. To the second category belong
people who give out of condescension or for other ulterior
motives like publicity. In the third category are people
who offer out of compassion. The last category is very
special and needs discussion.
Starting from the year 2000, Baba has been organising
what is called Grama Seva or Village Service. This service
activity is usually arranged in October, and lasts about
ten days or so. During this period, literally all
the staff of students of the three campuses of Baba's
University [the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning]
are involved. Their task: to prepare sweets and food,
carry these along with clothes to about a dozen villages
every day, and distribute them to all the families living
there, without any exception. In practice, this means
distributing on an average day, about thirty thousand
food packets and laddus, and several thousands of sarees
and dhotis. This is done every single day for about ten
days at a stretch.
People ask what is the purpose. Some members of the
staff say: "This is Swami's way of teaching students
how to care and share." Other staff members observe:
"Grama Seva sensitises our students to the problems
of the poor in the villages, and induces them to stay
back in the country to serve it." The students feel
that the service opens their eyes to the problem of the
country, and so on. What about Baba?
Baba's view reflects the highest possible spiritual
philosophy. He says [in essence]: "Giving, even with
compassion, implies a feeling of "me" and "them".
This is the feeling one gets if he focuses on the lower
self within. You must not focus on the lower but the Higher
Self or the Atma. If in the other person you see the body,
then you would se a different person. If, on the other
hand, you see the Atma within, then you would see only
the Self because the same Self or Atma resides in all.
I am giving you this opportunity to serve so that you
may see your own Self in others, rather than just poor
This last point is very important, and incidentally
illustrates how Baba elevates even simple acts to the
highest possible level. It may be difficult for us to
do so all the time, but this is a perspective we ought
not to lose sight of.
As regards the question "What's there in it for
me?', it is useful to remember that there is a negative
as well as a positive response possible. The positive
response would be: "God has given me a wonderful
opportunity to serve and I had better seize it. If I let
is pass, it would disappoint God." Those who love
God in their Hearts would certainly think this way.
If, for example, they are thinking of spending some
money to have say some fun, they would stop and rethink.
They would say: "Why not I spend this money on helping
some unfortunate person?" This is real positive thinking.
One can spare not only money but also time and kind words
[very scarce these days!] Those are positive responses
to the question posed earlier.
In this context, the famous story of the Good Samaritan
is very pertinent. As we all know, there was a man who
had been attacked by highway robbers who after relieving
the unfortunate victim of all his belongings also beat
him black and blue and left him helpless by the side of
the road. Soon there came that way a Levite. He saw the
pitiable plight of the wayfarer but went on without stopping.
After this came a priest, and he too ignored the wounded
man. May be he did not think there was anything in it
for him. But the noble man from Samaria was different.
He took time off, stopped, helped the victim, placed him
on his donkey, took him to an inn in a nearby village,
and also gave money to the innkeeper to take care of the
wounded person. He saw there was that there was something
in if for him, because he was a person with a positive
The question of outlook is very important in today's
society. Society is stratified, and there are groups like
intellectuals, artists, educators, administrators, politicians,
businessmen, white collar workers, blue collar workers,
and so on. Two questions arise: 1) How is a person belonging
to any particular strata supposed to conduct himself?
2) How are the different strata supposed to relate to
The answers to these are contained in three golden rules
that flow from Bhagavan Baba's teachings. GOLDEN RULE
1: Irrespective of the group to which you belong, every
action of yours must be selfless and for the benefit of
humanity or at least your community. GOLDEN RULE 2: Every
segment or strata of Society must have no thought other
than serving all the other communities. GOLDEN RULE 3:
Whatever resources one possesses, be it physical strength,
wealth, or intelligence, must be regarded as treasure
of God given to one for holding in trust on His behalf.
Thus, everyone is a Trustee of God, holding in trust whatever
is the gift given by Him.
What is one to do with the treasure given by God? The
answer is simple. One just to see what happens on a typical
festival day in Prashantinilayam. Baba gives baskets and
baskets of fruits or sweets to His boys. And what do they
do with it? They distribute the goodies to the devotees
gathered there. In the same way, every gift of God that
everyone holds in trust is meant to be shared with the
rest of mankind.
The question arises: "How will the doctor live
if he starts treating everyone free?" Baba has given
a clear answer to this. He says [in effect]: "By
all means earn a salary. Or, if you are a private practitioner,
you can certainly charge fees. But do so only when the
patient can afford. If the patient is poor, treat him
Another question: "I am not a doctor but a ticketing
clerk working for an airline. I don't make much money
and so I cannot give charity. I am not a doctor and I
cannot give free treatment. I am just a small worker at
the ticketing counter. What is it that I can give?"
Baba has an answer for such questions also. He says [in
effect]: "Yours is a job where you come in contact
with the public all the time. Make sure you deal with
them in a pleasing manner. Sometimes, the customers may
be irate, and even make unreasonable demands. Don't lose
your cool; be patient; talk gently and try to reason with
them. If you cannot oblige, you can at least speak obligingly!"
The important point here is that doing one's duty with
devotion and in a manner pleasing to those who are being
served is also a kind of giving. As Baba often says, if
only people worked conscientiously and with sincerity,
half the problems in the world would disappear. Yes, if
this happened, where at all is the scope for corruption?
This is a point worth thinking about seriously.
POINTS TO PONDER OVER
What precisely are the reasons that make a person selfish?
Is the craving for money, power, position, advantage of
some kind, or all of these?
With regard to the so-called public servants [meaning
government officials], Gandhi often used to says: Before
you spend any public money, picture in your mind the poorest
person you have come across and ask yourself whether what
you are going to do would in anyway benefit such a person.
This is worth remembering.
The interpretations of the Purusharthaas
given earlier represent the standard version. Swami once
gave a most unusual interpretation not found anywhere
else. It was a purely spiritual interpretation. He said:
"Man's only Dharma is
to follow the Atma. Aaartha
means wealth no doubt, but the wealth that man must seek
is the Knowledge of the Self or the Atma.
Kama means desire. What is
the desire one must truly have? One must yearn for the
Vision of the Atma or Atma
Darshanam. And of course,
Moksha means liberation from
attachment so that one can become one with the Atma!
People often take this view: "People are poor because
they are lazy. I work hard, and am entitled to enjoy the
fruits of my labour. Why should I help the poor? How do
they deserve my support?" Examine critically what
is right and what is wrong in any, about this argument?
In the Gita, Krishna chides
Arjuna for being a coward. How could Arjuna a renowned
warrior be accused of cowardice? Arjuna had battled even
with Lord Siva Himself! What exactly was Krishna driving
at? [See Message of the Lord,
for clarifications on this point. The point is important
because moral courage is so very much needed in today's
world; yet, it is in such short supply!]