Getting Spiritually Better
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Continuing our feature Getting Spiritually Better, we offer below the sixth 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 ways this feature can be improved.

Thank you and Jai Sai Ram.


Some of the points mentioned earlier must no doubt have seemed scary. However, we should not take an unnecessarily dim or gloomy view of the current state of affairs. Rather, we must learn from history what we must do and what we ought not to do. If there are deficiencies in us, we must firmly resolve to correct ourselves and eliminate those defects. That is the right and proper thing to do.

OK, agreed we have to transform; but how to go about it? Actually, there is no shortage of rule-books that prescribe all the Do's and Don'ts. In fact, such rule-books have been there from the distant past; yet, mankind today is deep in trouble. Why? Because man today is not convinced that following spiritual discipline is beneficial to him.

Swami says this absence of conviction is the result of a lack of deep analysis. Man analyses in depth when he has to buy a house, or make a financial investment. But when it comes to matters spiritual, he has no time to enquire; he takes the easy way out by ignoring the ancient golden rules. Some would say that man today is guided more by "short-term" gains rather than "long-term" benefits. Swami says that if man clearly understands the dangers involved in some of the actions that seem so attractive, he would refrain from engaging in them.

Baba gives a nice example. There is a marriage feast, and a tasty sweet pudding is about to be served. This is the dish that all guests have been looking forward to. The serving has commenced. Just then, a person who is associated with the host announces: "Attention everybody. We regret to inform you that while the pudding was being prepared, a poisonous insect fell into it. Therefore, kindly do not eat the sweet dish. Please reject it. We are very sorry and we apologise." Baba says that the pudding which till then everyone was eagerly awaiting, is now looked upon with revulsion. Why? Because, everyone is aware of the danger. In the same way, all things of the world that promise sensual pleasure of one kind or the other, have lurking dangers associated with them. Once the dangers are identified by clear analysis, then people would not be tempted to do what earlier seemed very attractive.

This is true, and the revulsion to smoking that followed the discovery that smoking causes lung cancer and heart diseases proves the point. However, not all are convinced, and that is because they have not analysed matters in depth. Some take an escapist view. Take corruption, for example. In a corrupt society, an individual often says, "What is the point of my trying not to be corrupt? OK, I will not take bribes, but to get anything done, I have to bribe left and right; otherwise, nothing happens. Under these circumstances, does it make any sense for me to be idealistic? In fact such a step would be stupid, and like Don Quixote tilting at the windmills." This kind of argument is quite common. Basically, such arguments arise because the individual concerned (a) does not have faith in the power of Dharma, and (b) does not realise that one day, he has to pay the price, even though it might not be immediately. In fact, it is the false sense of security provided by the idea that one can 'get away' that makes most people to ignore in-depth analysis, the price one eventually has to pay, etc. The consequences of evil Karma, Swami says, will finally chase one like the 'bloodhound from hell'. There is no way to escape from that bloodhound. But people labour under the illusion that there is no such retribution, and that they can really get away with anything, provided they are smart. Dharma can never be outsmarted, nor cheated. To think so is utter stupidity; yet, 99% of the people firmly believe that there is nothing to worry.

The seeker must get rid of such false notions. In fact, the true seeker should say: "I don't care about success or failure. I will NOT violate Dharma under any circumstance, because that would mean being untrue to myself." Shakespeare said therefore, "Above all, to thine own Self be true." Who is this Self that Shakespeare is talking about? It is none other than what Swami refers to as the Real Self, the true Inner Being, the Atma, etc.

Following Dharma requires courage, especially when Adharma becomes the norm. That courage can be got through prayer. One must be determined and have the feeling, "Come what may, I shall not flinch." Suppose a soldier decides that his life is precious and flees during battle, even though it might cost his country. Would the average citizen accept such behaviour? He would feel revolted. Yet, this very same person would not mind reneging on his own duty! One cannot have one set of rules for others and a different set for one's own self. But this precisely is what many people seem to want these days. No, if a soldier has the duty to sacrifice for his country and Society, so does every member of the Society; no one is exempt, though individuals may imagine that certain rules apply only to certain people. The entire Universe is delicately built around a chain of balanced give and take, of selfless sacrifice. No one has the right to tamper with this delicate balance.

Taking everything together, it should be clear that spirituality is intimately related to many day-to-day matters, matters that affect individuals as well as society. It is thus a very practical affair and not something far-removed or esoteric, as many mistakenly imagine. If any proof is needed, then Swami's life provides the best example. The million things that Baba does as a part of His daily routine that everyone takes so much for granted, reflect nothing but the principle of selflessly giving the most and receiving the least.


  • The above material deals with the problem of avoiding what is bad.

  • Drinking is a bad habit. Nobody is born a drunkard. People get addicted to drink after they have first tasted it. It is the faulty first step that is often very fatal.

  • One must be careful even while walking. If one is not careful, one would stumble. And if one is unlucky, the stumble may even result in a bad injury like a fracture, for example.

  • Likewise, while going through life, one must be very careful. In particular, one must have a clear agenda of Do's and Don'ts. One must be able to say: "This I shall do, and this I never shall!"

  • Actually, it is quite easy to draw up such lists. Moses gave a famous one thousands of years ago. The problem is in following the list! Baba's approach is very practical. Analyse the risk before you venture to do anything.

  • In many areas of the world, troubles erupt. These may be famous tourist destinations but when troubles erupt, many governments issue travel advisories. They say: "We advise our citizens to avoid travelling to such and such a country." And most citizens take such warnings quite seriously. Why? Because they are afraid that if they did go to that destination, they would be in danger. They are not prepared to take the risk of travel.

  • But curiously, people who are quite prepared to take seriously the warnings of governments, do not take seriously the warnings of the Wise or even the Conscience. This shows the power of the senses to delude.

  • The senses are outward looking. That is the way God has made them. However, they easily overstep their boundaries, and tempt man. If the Mind is not strong, then the Mind falls for what the senses say, and trouble follows immediately.

  • What Baba is saying is that one should not just jump when the senses tempt. One should think calmly and reflect. One must analyse the dangers and then only act. Once one clearly understands the danger involved, one would surely not go astray.

  • Some people are very much under the control of the senses. Yet, deep within, they want to change. They say: "I want to change but I am unable to. What should I do?" There are many strategies one can adopt. Supposing there is a poor man who wastes all his money on liquor. This poor man has a child whom he loves very much. The child becomes very sick. Money is needed for treatment. There is little money and if even that is spent on drink, the man has to lose his child. In such a case, love triumphs. The man says, "Enough is enough; I must save my child's life. I will not drink. I shall instead use that money for treatment." This is a case where love provides the anti-dote.

  • Love for God, love for Baba can do similar if not greater wonders. Thousands of people who thought they could not live without meat, who thought they must have their smoke and drink, have given it all up, because they felt that they must do so, if they truly loved Baba.

  • People may argue: "Listen, all this is more easily said than done. Have you not heard of withdrawal symptoms? You can't always just cut off from drinks and alcohol that easily." Swami has a solution for that! He tells a story.

  • Once there was an opium addict. One day, a Wise man came to the village where this addict lived. This man desperately wanted to give up the drug habit but try as he might, he could not succeed. He then decided to seek the counsel of the Wise one. The Wise man heard the young addict patiently and said, "You don't have to give up the opium habit overnight. But you must strictly follow my instructions if you really want to get over the habit." The young man agreed. The Wise man then told the addict, "Take a piece of chalk and with it write the word OM three times. After that you can take opium, but only corresponding to the size of the chalk; not one bit more." The young man did precisely that; day by day, the amount he consumed decreased until one day, he was totally cured of the habit.

  • It must be mentioned that not always is such a slow withdrawal the proper procedure. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to let go instantly. To stress the point, Swami says, "You pick up something thinking it is a rope and then you suddenly realise it is a cobra. Would you keep holding it or slowly release or let go instantly?" The answer is obvious.

  • In modern times, people often get drawn to bad habits on account of two important reasons. First there is the strong persuasion from what might be called the Sin Industry, especially via most distracting advertisements. Second is peer pressure. The young, particularly, want to "belong" and be counted by their peers. So, for gaining acceptance, they readily plunge into doing things they would otherwise not quite be willing to. As a matter of fact, peer pressure is the consequence of fashions, which are often shaped by the Desire-cum-Sin Industry. In short, there are many rackets to trap the gullible, and it therefore becomes all the more important to analyse thoroughly for oneself, the various risks involved in giving in to the temptations proposed by the senses.

  • Today's situation is such that often these battles against temptations have to be fought alone. This is where inner courage becomes very important.

  • People can be quite careful when they want to. For example, Westerners are often shocked by the way people drive in South Asian countries. With great astonishment they ask, "Don't these people understand that if they drive like this they are likely to kill and also get killed?" But unfortunately, what seems blatantly obvious to them, is not to the crazy drivers! It is the same with giving in to the senses. In this game, the Wise are like the westerners while the foolish and indulgent people are like the crazy drivers. What is obvious to the Wise is not so to the people who are led by the senses.

  • It is worth stressing that while risk analysis is important and necessary, there must be a greater compelling force urging one to stay on the right path. One must stick to righteousness and not pander to the senses because it is one's DUTY to do so! This is a very important point and must not be lost sight of.

  • A person who truly loves God must say, "I will simply NOT do this, because God would not like to see me do it!" That is the way to fight off temptation. If love for God is strong, even the greatest of temptations can be kept at bay.

  • In short, risks apart, we have a DUTY to be moral. We must avoid being immoral not because it would be advantageous to our health etc. No doubt, preserving one's health is an important point. However, the over-riding consideration must flow from one's conviction in morality.


  • List some of the common attractions that people easily yield to, and then analyse the defects in them in the sense Swami wants us to.

  • Devotees regularly swear that they Love Swami; yet He often declares that He is all the time waiting for a true devotee! Is there something wrong about the Love that people profess? If so, what precisely is the defect?


Volume - 2 Issue - 1 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004