Spiritual Blossoms
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Recently, we received a rather unusual letter from one of our listeners about a young person who had committed suicide. The event had greatly disturbed our listener who wanted to know many things such as: “Is suicide also fated? Why did not Swami overpower this boy and save him? He was so devoted to Swami. Can we blame everything on Karma? Should I console myself saying this is all Karma? When all are Swami’s children and when He loves all equally, why did He not save this young man?” So on the questions went.

This is not the first time I have been asked about fate and its inevitability. The business of what is fated and what is not, etc., has come up again and again. By the way, I have already recorded a full talk on the questions raised by the listener, but I thought that nevertheless, I might perhaps write a few lines for the benefit of those who might have missed the broadcast.

The writer of the letter is evidently overwhelmed by sorrow and since sorrow belongs to world of duality [in which, incidentally, all of us are deeply immersed], may be I should deal with this entire question from the perspective of duality. Now in the dual picture, we have two basic entities, God and man. That is point number one.

puppetPoint number two; God is the puppeteer, and man is the puppet – this all of us know. But this is a quite a unique kind of puppet show. In what way? Well, you see there are two strings but God does not hold both; instead, He keeps one string and hands over the other to man. That is point number three.

Now why on earth does God do this strange thing? Because He wants to test us, that is why. Remember what Swami says: TEST IS TASTE FOR GOD!

OK, God keeps one string and gives the other to man; what happens next? Well, God now holds the string loose and just watches, or, to use Swami’s language, He functions as Sakshibhootam, that is, as a Witness! Meanwhile, man takes firm hold of the string available to him and pulls it. In what manner? According to what his Mind advises. Why on earth does man do that? Because man is a slave of the Mind, that is why!

OK, what happens then? Simple. The Mind is dragged by the senses into the outer world with all its illusions, and man follows the Mind. Net result is that man becomes accountable for his actions; and the accounts are settled through the famous Law of Reflection, Reaction, Resound [which is really another name for the famous Law of Karma]. As Shakespeare said, we ourselves are the masters of our fate and our fault does not lie in our stars!

But is this not patently unfair? Not at all. You see, God has been gracious and told man, “Son, why do you bother to hold on to that string and keep pulling it? Instead why don’t you just give it Me? Relax and leave the driving to Me!” But man is not prepared to do that; so, how can he complain?

May be I ought to explain all this a bit more in detail. Basically, what God says is that “If you drive, you take the responsibility. If I drive, I take the responsibility.” In terms of practical details, what it means is that if we let our Mind run our lives, then we become accountable, and the accounts are settled, as I described earlier, through the Law of Karma. Sometimes the accounts are settled early, and sometimes they are settled late. This is the general principle.

This now raises the question: “How exactly does one hand over the string in our hand back to God?” That is what surrender is all about. Swami has spoken about surrender so many times but few of us have the patience to study in depth what He has said. I shall not repeat all that Swami has said earlier but would instead like to place before you one or two pertinent facts.

In worldly battles, when a person surrenders to another, one person emerges as the victor and the other as the vanquished. But when one surrenders to God, there is no victor nor vanquished; God and the person who has surrendered become One! OK, so what? How does it affect daily life? And how does that lead to escape from the clutches of Karma?

Let me illustrate first the impact on daily life, by considering a conflict between two persons, A and B say. Now we all know that the world is full of conflicts from the individual level – like between husband and wife, for example – to conflict between communities and even nations. Right now, there is a big row in Africa where ten countries are having a huge argument about the waters of the Nile, as to who is entitled to how much of that water. Keeping this sort of thing mind, let us turn now to A and B. It so happens that they have come together to discuss their long-standing differences. They have had many meetings before and bitter arguments. But this time, just before the meeting, both of them have independently surrendered to God. When they meet, this is how the conversation goes.

“Sai Ram. Nice to meet you again. So, what’s your problem really? I want to understand it clearly.”

“My problem? I don’t have any because I have surrendered to God! What’s your problem?”

“This is really strange. I don’t have any problem because I too have surrendered to God! Now isn’t this absolutely wonderful?”

“Sure! But then there appear to be some practical difficulties. Now that we have met, what do you say to our taking a close look at these difficulties so that they can be put out of the way?”

“I entirely agree with you. Let’s examine all the practical issues and make sure that everything is absolutely fine in the future.”

I am sure you are getting the hang of what I am trying to say. You might object and say, “Listen, you are being utterly naïve and even stupid! Do you think such a thing is ever possible? Not even in dreams! Be realistic man!”

That is the problem, is it not? When we say it is not realistic, what we mean is that we simply are not prepared to look at issues and problems, giving up even an iota of self- interest. Why are we so attached to self-interest? Because of body-consciousness. Is body-consciousness a desirable thing? Not at all, and Swami has spoken out against it so many times. But still we want to hang on to it. Why? Because we are dominated by the Mind and not the Heart [read Swami]. What if we give up body-consciousness? Then God takes over and we get out of the clutches of Karma.

As Jesus says, we can serve only one Master and have to choose between God and Mammon. We cannot say we love Swami dearly and yet allow our Mind to be the Master. When the Mind is the Master it means we are its slave. That is not correct. We must instead be the slave of the Heart i.e., God. It is to drive home this point that Swami repeatedly says: MASTER THE MIND AND BECOME A MASTER-MIND.

People may say: “All this we know. Has not even Arjuna complained how difficult it is to conquer the Mind?” Agreed. But you know what? Our beloved Swami is not asking us to actually conquer the Mind. He says instead, just try and show Me that you are serious. That is enough; but we are shy of even trying; that really is our problem.

Take a simple thing like Unity. It is no secret that there is a lot of disunity even amongst devotees. Recently a big group of devotees sent a letter to Swami, complete with over a hundred signatures and all that, complaining and carrying tales about other devotees. Is this proper? Is this how we should treat Swami? Would it not pain Him to see how divided His children are [at the human level that is]?

A few words now about how Swami actually helps, even though we often think He is indifferent and all that. Let me give an example. When I was in Japan many years ago and was speaking to the devotees in Tokyo, a young lady said that she had once come to Prashanti Nilayam with her mother who was suffering from what was believed to be terminal illness. But during Darshan, Swami gave the mother of that woman just one look and she was cured. Was that not compassion?

On the other hand, there have been devotees who were afflicted with cancer and died, right here. One may ask: “Why did not Swami save them?” Who can say? God has His reasons. But this I do know; in a number of cases, the persons having cancer did not have any pain whatsoever. Few realise what a great miracle this is. Cancer patients suffer tremendous pain especially in the last stages, and often doctors administer morphine to drug them. If a cancer patient is relieved of pain, it is only because of Swami’s Grace.

As Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once pointed out, God’s Grace works in most mysterious ways. Let me give an example. Many years ago when Swami went to North India, there was a lady in one town who received much Grace from Bhagavan. However, Swami appeared to ignore the child of that lady. The child was blind and the lady repeatedly begged Swami to give eyesight to that child. But Swami did not respond. One day, Swami Karunyananda who was accompanying Swami on the tour asked, “Bhagavan, why are so indifferent to the pleas of that woman? Why don’t you bring some joy into her life?” Swami sternly asked Karunyananda, “Do you think just because of your name, you have more compassion than Me? I know the past, the present and the future whereas you can see only the present. In its previous birth, this person was a very cruel man who kidnapped young children, blinded them and made them into beggars. The money they earned was taken away by him. In this birth, that Jiva is paying the dues. If I grant eyesight now, that debt re-payment would be delayed. Moreover, the person, not having purified, would behave badly and add to his debt burden. Do you want all that to happen? I know what to give, whom to give and when to give.”

There is a deep message in the above. Let me now move on to a few residual questions. Firstly, do we really have to exhaust all of past Karma? Can there be no rebate at all? Who says not? God is so gracious that in fact if He sees the slightest improvement in us, He goes out of the way to be kind to us. Only, we must have faith in this.

Secondly, any simple formula for ensuring surrender? Indeed there is, and it has been given by the Lord Himself. He says: 1) Always think of Me [read, constantly chant My Name]. 2) Always think you are working for Me, though you may have a worldly boss. 3) Do whatever you are doing as if you are doing it to please Me. 4) Offer whatever it is you are doing to Me. [It is assumed that one is doing good and not bad actions!]

Just keep doing this and God will take care of everything – this is His Solemn Promise. We need not be bothered about debt cancellation, Karma being wiped out, surrender and all that sort of thing.

Swami is so kind, He says, “Listen, just give up your bad habits and say you are doing it for Me!” Can one ever get a better bargain? Sometimes, people say all this is very difficult. But I ask in return, “If we love Swami deeply, is it difficult to do something that would please Him?” The power of Love is infinite and if we truly love Swami, then things that we would normally consider difficult do become possible.

Love also implies deep faith. Sometimes, Swami may test and we should be ready to go through the test. There is a poem that I recently came across, that is relevant in this context. We reproduce that poem elsewhere in this issue. So on this subject, I shall not say anything more.

But this I would like to say by way of concluding this reflection. Recall what happened to Ramana Maharishi and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Both of them suffered from cancer. Why these noble souls? Surely they must have exhausted all their past Karma. This is where a new dimension enters the picture. You see, suffering is not always the result of past Karma. Sometimes, God makes noble souls suffer so that they set examples for others. Just recently, Swami went through a hip fracture. Why? To teach us a lesson on how to rise above body-consciousness. I am not making this up; you can go to many of His Discourses delivered soon after He recovered from the fracture.

Some years ago, Swami was telling a few of us about His experiences as a school boy in Kamalapuram, when He was subjected to much punishment. I then ventured to ask, “Swami, we have to suffer on account of past Karma. You are different. Why then did You have to face punishment?” He smiled and replied, “Bangaru, how else could I teach the lesson of Kshama [forbearance]?”

Yes, God does move in mysterious ways and we can never fathom His actions. But of this we can be sure: Whatever He does is always for our good, even though it might superficially not appear to be so. But then, we must allow Him to be good to us. If we hang on to one string, we cannot expect Him to come to our rescue. Being devoted is not enough. It is necessary but not sufficient, as mathematicians would put it. What God expects is surrender, or at least an attempt to surrender. If we take that step firmly, He certainly will take not just ten but hundreds. Many have tried and discovered this to be absolutely true. It is for us to make that discovery once more.

Thank you and Jai Sai Ram.



Volume - 2 Issue - 7 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004