Spiritual Blossoms
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Dear Reader,

Over the months, in our continuing series on Getting Spiritually Better, we have presented many ideas. Perhaps it is time to pause and have a summary, which is what we do first. After that brief summary, we move with our main agenda, taking up a new topic, THE P-N CYCLE. Well, what exactly is this cycle? Read on and find out!



It is useful to pause and recap the main points made thus far.

  • We started by noting that thanks to the run-away progress of S&T on the one hand and the general indifference of man to matters spiritual on the other, there is a deep imbalance today in human life. Man’s actions seem to ignore that Society and Nature are limbs of God, and that they are not there for him to fleece, plunder and exploit.

  • This imbalance, which has already reached dangerous proportions, can lead to a great disaster if allowed to grow further. Therefore, man must, without any delay, attempt to restore the balance. This he must do, starting with his individual self.

  • Realising the intricate interdependence in Creation, man must function in a restrained manner, subjecting himself voluntarily to controls and restraints. This self-discipline must be motivated from within, with the larger interest of humanity in mind.

  • Man must resolve to mend his ways and transform for the better, i.e., to cultivate noble virtues and move towards the Divine.

  • Man must understand that when he transforms for the better, he can automatically have an influence on his neighbourhood. In due course, he can even influence large segments of society.

  • Swami reminds us often that this is what human birth has been given for – not for frittering away in making merry and pursuing meaningless pleasures.

  • Man is lost in the belief that he is the body. He is not; he is a composite entity made up of the Atma, the mind and the body. He is a MBA complex. He must select his goals and guide his life keeping this larger perspective in view.

  • At the practical level, mind and sense control become a prime requirement in life. The importance of this must not be diluted in any way.

  • Such control is a MUST, if one wishes to follow Mama Dharma, or one’s duty as the Lord would like to see us perform.

  • It simply means performing duty as appropriate to one’s station in life, with the constant feeling that one is the Atma and not just the body [the feeling that usually dominates].

  • The feeling that one is driven by the Atma has a special name – Atma Bhavam. One who is immersed in Atma Bhavam would automatically give no room for ego to surface. As someone put it EGO = Edging God Out! Do we want to do that?

  • Once one is filled with Atma Bhavam [which is the same thing as being egoless], one would easily start seeing Unity in diversity. Others would not appear as different people but as aspects of God, as embodiments of God, trying to make their own respective journey towards God.

  • One immersed in Atma would only see God everywhere, inside as well as outside. Inside and outside would represent merely a technical difference and not a substantive one.

  • One would realise that one is a mere embodiment of Universal or Absolute Consciousness; that this Universal Consciousness functions within us as our Conscience, guiding us in life, besides endowing us with the faculty of becoming aware or CONSCIOUS of our surroundings through Secondary Consciousness. This, in essence, is what Swami says when He refers to the Three C’s.

  • One must go through life with the constant feeling that it is only Sai everywhere, in everything, and all the time. This is what Baba calls CONSTANT INTEGRATED AWARENESS [CIA].

  • The purpose of life is to go back where we came from. From God we have come, and to God we must return. This becomes easy once we become immersed in Atma Bhavam.

Dear Reader, that concludes the interim summary. We do hope you would connect the above with all that we have said thus far.

On now to a new topic, which is the P-N CYCLE. For convenience, we give it a separate number.



We now discuss an important loop that we call the P-N Cycle. Here, P stands for Prasaadam or a gift/blessing of God. N stands for Naivedyam or an offering to God. In the Indian tradition, at the end of any ritual worship, some food, other eatables, and fruits are lovingly offered to God [with appropriate ritual chants of course]. This is called offering Naivedyam. The items so offered now become sanctified, and are then distributed to devotees as Prasaadam. On festival days in Puttaparthi and in Brindavan, sweets are first offered to Swami. He of course does not partake of them but blesses them. After that, they are distributed to devotees. Thus, we have here an example of the Naivedyam first and Prasaadam next.

Prasaadam need not be interpreted in the narrow sense of sweets distributed by Baba or even Vibhuti given by Him. Everything we receive from God, directly or ‘indirectly’ is a Prasaadam. Our body is a Prasaadam, our eyesight is a Prasaadam, the sense of hearing that we so much take for granted is a Prasaadam, and so on. The intelligence we possess, the skill that we think we have acquired by ‘our effort and hard work’, the money that we have ‘earned’, are all gifts of God or His Prasaadam. This is a fact that most of us are not aware of or if we are aware, we choose to ignore. [If we think a little about it, we do not give God any credit for our intelligence, wealth, skills, etc., because of our crafty ego!]

OK, agreed that all these are Prasaadams. What do we do with them? What do we normally do when we receive Prasaadam? We [if we have some selfless feelings!] would share the Prasaadam with others. That is what we also must do with our intelligence, wealth, etc. All these gifts of God must be used in the service of others, in the service of Society, for the cause of humanity. While so rendering service, we must prayerfully offer that service to God; then, it becomes a Naivedyam.

This is the P-N cycle. Basically, we all receive four gifts from God: 1) The body, 2) the Mind, 3) the Heart, and 4) Time. All these must really be considered as Prasaadam. Every one of these gifts must be suitably ‘processed’ [if required] and then offered back to God as Naivedyam. For example, with the Grace of God, a farmer grows rice. The grain is harvested, threshed, polished, cooked and then only offered as Naivedyam – this is what is meant as processing.

The body which is received as Prasaadam must be offered as Naivedyam to God; how? By doing service to humanity – remember: SERVICE TO MAN IS SERVICE TO GOD! The Mind is a wonderful gift of God; this too must be offered as Naivedyam to God; how? By thinking about God! And what about the Heart? It must be filled with Divine feelings; such as? Compassion, forbearance, sacrifice, etc. Remember what Swami often says: HRIDAYA = HRID + DAYA. Daya means compassion; therefore, the Heart [or Hridaya] must be the seat of compassion. Time too must be offered as Naivedyam by doing God’s work. What exactly is God’s work? Any good work is God’s work. It becomes a Naivedyam when we think of God while doing the work. That is why Swami says: MAN ME RAM, HATH ME KAAM – hands at work, and Mind immersed in the thought of God.

Talent is a gift of GodNow there is a subtle point here that needs mention. Once, a devotee was speaking in the Divine presence. In the course of his talk, the devotee said, “Talent is a gift of God.” Swami immediately intervened and said, “Talent IS God!” The former view echoes the sentiment that Talent is Prasaadam. But if Talent itself is God, then where is the question of it being Prasaadam? How does one resolve this conundrum?

The resolution of this apparent paradox comes about in the following manner. If one is immersed in DUALITY, then one feels separate from God. Under these circumstances, one can definitely talk of talent being a gift of God. But Swami does not like us to be in the dual world! That is why He often says: “A man with a dual mind is half-blind!” He is insistent that we rise FULLY to the level of Divinity, banish duality, feel that we are God, and that there is nothing but God! Rather difficult for ordinary mortals, one must admit! Under the circumstances, the P-N cycle is the safest and the easiest way of elevating oneself. From God we receive everything, and to God they all must go back in some form or the other. That is the bottom line. Of course, once one has reached the summit and feels totally one with God, the P-N cycle ceases to have meaning. But then, let us not forget that all of us ordinary mortals are light years away from that goal. So, for all of us, the P-N cycle is a safe bet!


  • This Part [17-A] is connected with what may be called the Input-Output [I/O] aspects of actions.

  • Some input or the other is required for performing every action. Besides inputs, for every action there must also be some end-purpose.

  • Normally, we do not enquire deeply about such matters, focussing almost entirely on local goals andLife is and offering to God objectives. For example, a boy who is studying in school is seldom bothered about the true purpose of education. Rather, he is focussed on getting good grades, and using them later to have a good career. And so on it goes through all of life.

  • OK, with focus all the time on the very next step, one is able to pile up worldly achievements and go up the ladder of success. But where does it all end?

  • Recall in this context two things that Baba often reminds us about. One is the episode about Adi Shankara and the man cramming the rules of grammar on the banks of the Ganges that led Shankara to sing the Bhaja Govindam hymn. The second story is about Alexander the Great, who instructed that when his corpse was being taken for burial, his hands must be tied pointing upwards. When asked why this should be done, Alexander replied, “This is for telling the world that Alexander, hailed by the world as Great, is taking nothing with him on his final journey.”

  • OK but what does all this have to do with the I/O aspects of action? Just this: 99.9999% of humans feel, like most of us do, that God and ourselves are distinct and separate. No serious harm in this; indeed, this STATE OF DUALISM is the starting point of the journey to God.

  • Granted, but what has that got to do with the I/O aspects? Well, the I/O aspects come into the picture in that we must learn how to handle this dualistic feeling properly.

  • Meaning what? Meaning this: Let us start with a simple example. There is a small girl, and she wants to make a cake for her mother on her mother’s birthday. The little girl says, “Mummy, I love you very much. Therefore, I want to make a cake for your birthday.” The mother says, “How sweet of you my dear! Sure, go ahead.” But the little girl does not know how to make and bake a cake, and the mother ends up making the cake. At the same time, the mother takes care to make the child feel that she is the one making the cake. When the cake is ready, the child says, “Mummy, here is the cake I made for you”, and sings Happy Birthday! The mother is so pleased, and she does not remember that it was actually she who made the cake!

  • This made up story, probably enacted many times in many homes, is indicative of man’s loving relationship with God, or rather the way it ought to be [when one is wrapped up in Dualism].

  • Everything that we claim as ours actually belongs to God. Our talent, for example. We think we are making use of our self-developed talent and achieving this or that. That is not true. It is actually God who is achieving, rather like the mother actually baking the cake. The sensible person realises this while the fool does not.

  • In other words, the sensible person always says, “God, you have given me some gifts as Your Prasaadam. I shall use these, and make some Naivedyam for You and lovingly offer it back to You.” To put it differently, though immersed in duality, one can still make the best of it by remembering God the way outlined here, instead of totally forgetting Him.

  • Thus, God’s gift to us [as mentioned earlier, it can be of various kinds] is the Prasaadam or the INPUT. And through action [good action that is!] it is to be converted into Naivedyam or a sacred offering to God. That is the desirable OUTPUT.

  • Since life is a sequence of actions, in this philosophy life becomes a series of P-N cycles! That is the essence of what is being conveyed presently.

  • A person who is steeped in the P-N philosophy will never feel that he owns anything. At best he would say, “God has given me all these things, and I am the care-taker.”

  • An example. Kasturi records that in accordance with tradition, when he was born his parents took the baby to the local Siva temple, placed the baby at the foot of the Idol and prayed, “O Lord, You have given us this little child of Yours to look after on Your behalf. Please grant us all the wisdom and the resources to do so.”

  • The important concept here is that of Trusteeship. God is the sole owner and all are His Trustees. Each and every person holds some property or treasure of God in Trust, for and on His behalf. No Trustee believes that anything belongs to him, including the body and the mind! These are instruments placed at man’s disposal for doing God’s work and God’s work alone. Everything must be treated as God’s work and done in a sacred and totally selfless spirit.

  • Incidentally, this is the lesson that Krishna teaches to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. The Lord says there that when Dharma is in peril, He incarnates. And now in this continuous confrontation between the forces of Adharma and Dharma, the Lord is acting as a “Witness”. How come? That is what He explains to Arjuna while granting him the Cosmic Vision. He says, “Arjuna, in this never ending Cosmic Drama of Mine, I employ all entities as My instruments. I choose each entity to play a particular role. I am the Casting Director, and I know who fits in what role! People think they are doing this and that. How strange! It is I who have written the story and given them a role to play. All are My instruments, Arjuna, all are. Most do not know this fact; some blessed ones alone do. I have given you many skills such as the skill of archery. I have given you physical strength and intelligence. All these belong to Me, and I have given you a small portion. Use that as My Trustee and play your role in life. I have already decided what should happen when. You just have to appear to make the motions, that is all!”

  • That is a very important point. Even as Trustees, we are not the doers! We merely appear to be doing something. Even that something takes place because God has willed it. A good trustee must know and appreciate all this.

  • One can also put it this way, as Baba sometimes does. All are puppets in the hands of God. He is the Cosmic Puppeteer, pulling the strings and choreographing the dance in his own way. Though we may not know why things are turning out to be the way they are, He knows, always.

  • OK, so the bottom line is: Whatever we have is all from God and God alone - the body, the intelligence, the wealth etc. How do we function as good Trustees?

    Patents-is knowledge to be hoardedA few examples. There is a scientist, a very capable scientist. He is engaged in what is called applied research. Conscious of the gifts given to him by God, and fully aware that he must use these in the spirit of a Trustee of God, he makes sure about a few things: 1) He never engages in any work that can cause harm to others, like weapons-development. [During the Vietnam war many American scientists actually sacrificed plush research grants so as to be true to their Conscience.] In other words, one does sell one’s Soul to the Devil, as the saying goes. 2) The scientist does not engage in research like cloning etc., that seek to interfere with God’s own evolutionary processes. One must not play God but rise to His level spiritually. 3) The scientist goes out of the way to do work that would benefit humanity. 4) He never patents his discoveries, and shares the knowledge gained as Prasaadam with all.

  • This attitude is nothing new. In ancient India, the Sages who received revelations shared them with all via the Vedas. It is remarkable that no one knows who wrote the Vedas – there is perfect anonymity. Vyasa, often hailed as the author of the Vedas, merely compiled them. Knowledge of Ayurveda was shared with all. Indeed, throughout the world, knowledge was freely shared, till after the Industrial Revolution when the concept of patenting took hold. Even then, it was product patenting most of the time.

  • But now, things are getting out of hand. Knowledge generated in Universities is being patented for the sake of money. Especially in the medical and drug fields, exaggerated claims about expenditure are being made in order to generate big business. And where genetic engineering is concerned, it is tragic that whole governments are behind money-makers to give a legal fig-leaf to something that is totally against moral principles.

  • Incidentally, one of the meanings of the word Patent is spreading or expanding. In a private conversation with students on Intellectual Property Rights and all that, Baba pointed out that the original meaning of this word has got lost! The word is now used in the context of ownership and making money.

  • In ancient India, every strata of Society believed it was a servant for the other sectors. At least it was taught to behave that way. The Brahmins, at the top of the totem pole, were supposed to share wisdom with one and all. They were supposed to lead a simple life, begging for alms, and advise among others, Kings and Emperors on righteous governance, etc. The King who belonged to the Kshatriaya race, was supposed to govern righteously, protect, etc., all as a royal duty and service. Rama was and remains to this day, the classic text-book example in this respect. That is why even to this day, people in India talk about Ramarajya when they want to refer to good governance. The Vysyas who engaged in commerce were likewise those who tilled and distributed the produce of the land to one and all, as a service. And so on, every community and indeed every individual served others.

  • The individual and the family also were so conditioned. A Guru lived in an Ashram, took a few disciples, and groomed them. He taught them the scriptures, and expected nothing in return. However, the disciples offered the Guru what was called Guru Dakshina, which was some kind of an expression of gratitude. Even if the Disciple could not offer anything in kind, the Guru did not mind. All he expected was that his disciples would go out into the world and foster Dharma, starting with taking care of their parents. Indeed this is precisely what our beloved Baba does even now. He offers free education and expects nothing in return. Instead He always says, “I just want you to be good, that is all!”

  • It must be stressed that selfishness was relatively unknown and certainly not as widespread as at present. Sharing and caring for each other has been the way of life in different parts of the world. It is excessive materialism, created and fostered by the unconstrained growth of technology that has caused most if not all the problems.

  • Interestingly, even in this day and age, there are communities like the Amish [we did an article on them some time ago] in the U.S, that prefer a contented, value-based life to one of material convenience but accompanied by all its evils. There are individuals who believe that all are children of God, that we must care for all and share with all.

  • The “P-N philosophy” is far from simplistic. On the contrary, it is very profound. If one reflects, one would find that in its own way it echoes the very essence of the famous Brahmaarpanam Sloka that all devotees chant before eating meals.


  • Today, there is a clamour for ownership claims.There is excessive emphasis on intellectual property rights and so on. Reflect on the enormous damage done to Society. Take the field of drugs as one example.

  • If there is excessive claim of intellectual property rights, then inevitably it would lead to piracy. Beyond a point, piracy just cannot be controlled. Who is going to spend all that money for policing? The way out of this dilemma has been clearly shown by the development of the LINUX Operating System in the world of computers. Computer literate devotees could perhaps explain during Study Circle meetings, what is happening, and how it captures the spirit of olden times about sharing knowledge.

  • Today, in the field of medicine and drugs, there is an alarming tendency to patent, even in Universities. This is most dangerous. Recall what Victor Weisskopf, the well-known American scientist, has said: “Knowledge without compassion is inhuman.” Universities are threatening to become “devil factories” as one educationist lamented.

  • This shows, incidentally, the importance of value-based education that Swami stresses so often and to such a great extent.

  • The rich countries make a big fuss about knowledge patenting. They claim they have spent a lot of money on the development and that investment must be recovered, etc. But often, these countries entice well-trained scientists from the developing world. What about the money invested by those poor countries in educating these people? Who is to recompense them?

  • The point about the P-N cycle is that we receive gifts from God and we “pay back” to God via service to Society [which, as Baba reminds us is a limb of God]. However, with today’s “Me & Mine” generation, this may not cut much ice. How do you think this point ought to be put across, so that they become convinced? The essential point is that there should be sharing and no exploitation. But these days, people have got used to a very different philosophy. The question therefore is: How is one to change this mind-set?


Volume - 2 Issue - 16 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004