Volume 6 - Issue 06
JUNE - 2008
The Love of Law and the Law of Love
Dr. Sara Pavan
“Suffering and misery are the inescapable acts of the Cosmic Drama. God does not decree these calamities, but man invites them by way of retribution for his own evil deeds. You are reaping in the present what you had sown in the past, and what you are sowing in the present you will reap in the future. Thus, the past as well as the future are both contained in the present.” - Baba.
When writing about experiences of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, most of us would describe only miracles, interviews, blessings and incredible achievements. I would like to share my experience of a different kind. In a worldly sense this experience could be termed disastrous and painful, but in a spiritual context becomes enlightening and liberating. Higher truths and understanding are often unattainable without going through personal, painful processes which in actuality clear our karma.
Swami refers to everything as Action, Reaction, Reflection and Resound. We are experiencing the echoes of our past thoughts, words and deeds, every moment of our lives. There seems to be a subconscious warehouse of past impressions, thoughts, behaviours and actions to draw from. The existence of a “Karmic boomerang” is an undeniable fact. No one can escape the consequences of their actions, Karma and Karma-Phala, which is the Law of the Universe.
The Lord chooses from this warehouse what will best suit our spiritual evolution at the time, whether pleasant or painful. Thus nothing is arbitrary. The goal is to surrender, to throw all responsibility upon God, permitting Him to bear the burden. If we surrender to God, there will be no cause for anxiety. The sense of relief is in direct proportion to the reliance on God. Personal experience is like an anvil. The vagaries of the mind have to be hammered into shape through painful and disastrous experiences. Only then can the mind make a quantum leap in awareness.
‘Saving’ for the Saviour
When Baba entered our life in 1980 our world became simple overnight. Our lives, we felt, were from now on devoted to God. Although my income had taken a downturn we had surplus savings; my inner voice kept urging me to put aside a portion of our income for charitable work. A third of our income was put aside for this purpose from 1982, in the hope we could someday fund a major project with Swami’s blessing. We established a family trust and started a special savings account, but soon realised that more than half the interest earned would be lost in tax!
So in early 1983 we sought our accountant’s help to invest our savings for a higher return. He invited us to invest in a commercial property, recommending us to put our money into a new development project that he himself was undertaking. In that way he could take good care of our investment. He lured me into this proposal by asking me to keep the matter confidential, lest other clients of his become jealous, thinking that he was doing us a special favour. It was quite clear that the property would yield high rent and had great potential for capital gain. We were grateful for his help.
The property development had the approval of the various statutory bodies and was in the name of a Company he himself created. I was happy to purchase two strata units. I sold one of our properties and paid a large sum of money as down payment. He was keen to lend us the balance from his company at half percent less interest than the going bank rate and to repay the loan monthly by direct debit, which amounted to almost a third of our income. He suggested that his solicitor would attend to our legal matters without any cost to us.
Sai Cautions Surely, but Subtly
We visited Swami frequently and were too busy with Sai activities - running a centre, publishing newsletters—to give this matter our full attention. Our accountant would bring all documents and tax returns for our signatures at the last minute and we would trustingly sign them without scrutinising them. Swami Himself had told me in my interview in December 1982 that I was very careless with my money. I presumed He was referring to my extravagance.
A Divine hint is a command; I completely missed what Swami was trying to tell me. My accountant knew how trusting and naïve I was, and certainly took advantage of it. It was foolish of me to part with such large sums of money without involving my own solicitor to scrutinise all the documents and act on my behalf. My accountant merely sent me a letter on his newly formed company letterhead about the terms of agreement and the loan details; but only when I kept demanding for something in writing. I did not realise then that the letter had no legal validity.
The building was completed and the strata units titled within a year, but the accountant did not give us a copy of the title deed. After repeated requests he sent us a photocopy of a land title. This document was proved as forged during the Supreme Court trial several years later. In fact, there never were any strata units in our names, yet he showed negative gearing in our tax return. Nor did we receive any rent. We were told that the rents were credited to our loan account to speed up repayment. By now the alarm bells should have been ringing, but I continued paying the instalments. I still believed the units really existed and were registered in the name of our family trust.
“I want you, not your money”
As time went by, my accountant’s work became noticeably shoddy in other areas. My wife and I were forced to change accountants in 1989. Things came to a head when he refused to transfer our files to our new accountant. I took him by surprise when I confronted him at his office to get all the files. When asked about the investment he retorted: “What are you talking about? Neither of us have anything in this property which had been auctioned off by the bank!” Only then did I realise that those copies of land titles sent to us were forged. I was shocked to hear those words, and stood up angrily after realising I had been cheated.
My blood was boiling—I was ready to knock the man down—when I clearly heard the melodious voice of our Beloved Swami whisper inside my head: “I want you, not your money.” His deliberate, sweet Voice miraculously put out the fire blazing within me. I quietly collected the files and made my exit. While driving home on the freeway, still trying to digest all that had happened; I recalled the words of Jesus: “The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.”
When I told my wife about this disaster, she was very upset, the more so for my carelessness. We accepted the enormous loss as “meant to be”. According to our calculations most of the loan should have been cleared by then and we should have been owners of couple of commercial units worth $600,000 with an annual rental of $50,000.
Without investing in our name the accountant had siphoned all our money into his Swiss bank account. In real terms, we had, in fact, lost a million! Although, in worldly terms, the money belonged to our family trust, in spirit we realised that it belonged to God. It was, after all, intended for future charity work. We were mere custodians. Nevertheless we felt anger and frustration. We had been, denied the opportunity to fulfil this heart-felt wish with the monies now lost to us.
I did not know what to do. My solicitor commented that if I reported the matter to the police, it would become a criminal case. We might succeed in sending the accountant to jail, but not get our money back. Furthermore, the matter would be out of our hands. With the hope of recovering at least some money, we instituted civil action against the accountant. We realised later, that it would take more than three years to come up for hearing in the Supreme Court, let alone the mounting costs—lawyers and so on-- in the interim.
In July 1992 I received the ‘call’ from Swami, through dreams, as well as a personal message through Sri V. K. Narasimhan and his son, Sri Prahalad, to start working at the Super Speciality Hospital in Prasanthigram. Three years on, the case was still nowhere near the hearing stage in the Supreme Court. I went to see Swami in October 1992. I told Him during an interview that I wanted to start work in His hospital without any delay, preferring to abandon the case altogether. Winning the case was one thing, but recovering the money was another. Swami said, “No, he has money. You fight the case. I will help.”
So we delayed our move to Prasanthi until the Supreme Court hearing was over. At the end of the trial in August 1993 my Senior Counsel told me, “I have won the case for you, good luck if you can recover your money.” It took two months for the judgement to be delivered. My accountant got off scot-free; only his company was made liable. This was another big shock to us. He escaped from charges of fraud and failure in fiduciary responsibilities. I even had to pay his legal costs as well as mine because he did not defend his bankrupt company.
“Only a million? You should have lost more”
Swami asked me about the case as soon as we reached Prasanthi in November 1993. When I told Swami that the judgement was not favourable, He told me that our lawyers were interested only in the money and had not done their job properly. Bhagavan asked me to appeal against the decision, adding that the judge had erred badly in his judgement. He said the appeal would be heard by a bench of three judges and He would take care of everything. We left our appeal in the hands of an eminent Queen’s Counsel and continued to stay in Prasanthi Nilayam.
It took two more years for the case to come up for hearing. One judge wanted to overturn the earlier judgement in my favour while the other two stuck to procedure and technicalities. These were also the most testing times for us. Swami too seemed to have abandoned me. In March, 1996 interview I mentioned to Him that our appeal was unsuccessful; we had lost over a million dollars. Swami retorted: “Only a million? You should have lost more.”
This “testing time” seemed never ending. My wife and I kept praying to Swami that we should at least understand why we had to go through all this upset. We fully believed that a cause exists for every effect. What was behind all this? I became totally convinced about the Law of Karma. Within months we came across an ancient palm leaf Naadi reader. He gave us an extraordinary reading, telling us I had been a Nambodari priest from Kerala in my past life. My name had been Ramakrishna; I had pilfered enormous sums of temple trust money, causing much suffering to many.
He also added that because of some good deeds I had done later in that life, my sins were atoned and I was fortunate to have the love and proximity of a great Spiritual Master at present. That Master, he added, was named Sai Baba! This reading gave us comfort and a broader understanding of the hidden forces at work behind our current difficulties. For every effect, there is a cause. I now felt Swami was the inner motivator for me to put aside the trust fund money; it was meant to repay what was due to God. Once that money was well and truly gone, Swami conveyed to me that He wanted ME -- not my money!
The Karmic Burden and the Way Out
Yes, we have to bear our karma. Swami will not interfere with karmic processes if such experiences are essential for our spiritual progress. Why did He want me to proceed with the case, even though He knew the final outcome? Probably because my level of awareness and surrender at the time was shallow. Had I not gone through every possible avenue to recover the money I could have regretted my premature move to India.
Surrender, then, would have merely remained an intellectual concept. Swami stood by my side while an enormous karma was packaged up and disposed of. He alone knows our past and future, and He alone can help us clear our karmic backlog.
Without His grace we cannot transmute such enormous karma—the karma of not one but many, many lifetimes. It is only when the heat is turned on that our level of surrender can strengthen. Swami stands by us and helps us. Our faith in Him must be unshakeable.
I believe karma is not a cast-iron entity; nor is it absolutely rigid. There are circumstances in which karma can be negated, if not transcended. At lower levels of consciousness an individual can be vulnerable to the malefic forces of karma.
Consider what happened at Pearl Harbour during World War II, when grounded U.S. fighter planes became sitting targets for the Japanese. Had these planes been airborne the damage to them would have been minimal. High-flying aircraft are hard targets for any anti-aircraft missiles.
Likewise, there is a point in our level of consciousness beyond which no karma can act. Unfortunately, we are grounded at the plane of illusion and delusion. So much bondage to this unreal world! Through sustained effort in our sadhana, together with Bhagavan’s grace, we too can reach that point where no karma can trouble us. During this trying time I happened to read a chapter on ‘Forgiveness’ in a book titled ‘The Light Shall Set You Free.’ It touched the core of my being; I prayed to Baba to help me completely clear the hurts within. In one swipe I felt all my ill-feeling towards others disappear. Confirming this, a few days later I was blessed with a dream where my accountant and I embraced each other and laughed over the entire episode, as just a game.
The Highest Law of the Universe
Love of law versus law of love—that was the grandstand lesson for me in “losing” so much money. How determined I was that the law should punish my accountant and find in my favour. Little did I realise that a greater Law was at work behind the scenes of this apparent “disaster”-- the Law of Divine Love. There are checks and balances in the universe that are hidden from us and which take account of many unseen factors. Divine Justice works from a much deeper perspective. It is perfect and yet we fail to recognise the existence of such vast, deeply-rooted inner causes behind our so-called “disasters”. Emotional reaction to such situations only prolongs our suffering. Acceptance is also not so easy.
What possibilities have we for the future when we face an adversity arising from a past misdeed? If we react without knowledge, discrimination or control, the response will be unconscious. We are merely responding according to thought patterns currently existing in our mental storehouse. These are repetitive patterns which have become reinforced over a long period of time, perhaps many life times. They in turn perpetuate further reactions and bondage. Thus fresh karma is created, which will have to be cleared sometime in the future.
However, when we respond consciously, we can choose to act in a particular way, free from the existing subconscious patterns. A conscious response is possible only when we become aware of the pitfalls of reacting emotionally. When we learn and understand the mechanics of Karmic Law, Providence gives us opportunities to face past karma. The Lord can manipulate our karmic warehouse; bringing forth suitable experiences. We can deal with these in a positive manner, thereby disposing of them.
Even if we possess such knowledge, we need to be very vigilant, as old habits are hard to bypass. We are doubly blessed because we have the guidance and grace of Sai Baba, the Sadguru and Spiritual Master, the Avatar of our age by our side. The All-Knowing Lord Sai, though aware of the extent of our past karma, may, in appropriate circumstances, intercede or modify its effect in the present. By His infinite compassion and grace He enables us to overcome the karma appropriately, without incurring fresh karma.
Sathya Sai, our loving God, is vested with powers beyond human understanding to intercede or write off any karma, just as the World Bank has from time to time written off bad debts from some developing nations, satisfied with changes in their fiscal management and economic reforms. Of course, there must be a demonstrable will on our part to receive such grace. Our spiritual reforms must be on a firm footing through our personal transformation. Swami says: “If you have My anugraha (grace), I shall remove all your agraha (maleficent forces), and even the grahas (planets) cannot have adverse effects upon you.”
How to Deal with Past Karma?
What options do we have when dealing with past karma? We may have one of three options - acceptance, transmutation or transcendence. In accepting payback for our past karmas we will experience pain and suffering - the ‘door-mat’ principle. Since the Universe has a perfect accounting system no debt can go unpaid, unless Divine Grace writes it off for us. When we transmute, we have the possibility of transforming our karma into a more desirable experience. By this process we learn from the experience - Why is this happening?
What lesson is being taught to us by the Universe? How can we make such lessons useful? How can we help others as a result? In this way, the adversity can be turned into an opportunity; our karma gets transmuted into a learning experience. Finally, by remaining independent of the event, we can transcend the effects of karma.
We cannot escape it. By constant awareness of our True Self we can build a mental barrier, like a break-water. We can witness the events as the adverse forces of karma lash against this barrier. Those forces will finally dissipate: “passing clouds”, as Bhagavan often reminds us. All the while we simply stay with the “I” thought, Atma Vichara or Self-inquiry. I am the Eternal Witness.
The Ultimate Solution
The subconscious state of a human being is a mental warehouse of good and bad karma. The Lord chooses from this warehouse what will best suit the individual for his spiritual progress. The goal is to surrender, to throw all responsibility onto God and not endure the burden.
What can destiny do then? If one surrenders to God, there will be no cause for anxiety. When one realises that all actions are the actions of God, then the sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ is lost. This is what ‘doing the will of God’ means. Having lost the ‘I’-ness and ‘my’-ness (ego) you experience oneness with God. You are a jnani, a realised soul. This is the Vedantic viewpoint on surrender.
Complete surrender is impossible in the beginning. Partial surrender is certainly possible for everyone and will lead eventually to total surrender—“Thy Will be done.” Lasting inner peace can be achieved only through total surrender. How fortunate are we to be devotees of Bhagavan Baba, who loves us more than a million mothers!
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Vol 6 Issue 06 - JUNE 2008
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