CONVERSATIONS WITH SAI
Satyopanishad - part 16:
Direct Directions from the Divine
In response to your positive feedback to this section where we have a conversation with the Divine, we continue with Prof. Anil Kumar’s ‘Satyopanishad’ following Dr. John Hislop’s series ‘Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’ that ended in January 2008.
This series is also in the question-answer format that many devotees prefer, and has answers from Bhagavan on topics as wide ranging as the origin of evil, the goals of human lif, and aspects of God – embodied and formless, to price hikes, women’s liberation, vegetarianism, and the generation gap among people of the present times.
Published in two parts by the author, these volumes have 270 questions in all, which are neatly grouped under separate chapters. In this issue, we begin the fifth chapter: 'Concepts'
Chapter 5: Concepts
(Continued from the previous issue)
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! We have many qualities tamasika (like laziness, dullness, etc.), rajasika (like aggressiveness, ego, etc.) and sattvika (being pious). Do they change at any time? How are we to ennoble ourselves? Sometimes these attributes may be responsible for conflicts with our colleagues in the office. What is to be done under these circumstances? Kindly give us a solution to this problem that we encounter everyday?
Bhagavan: The whole world revolves round these three attributes tamasika, rajasika and sattvika. Every individual has these three attributes working like the three blades of a fan. But in a person, the quality which dominates the other two, decides their nature and total personality, nay, their very destiny as a whole.
He is a pious man whose sattvika quality dominates his rajasika and tamasika qualities. He is an emotional, passionate, active man if his rajasika quality dominates his sattvika and tamasika qualities. He is a dull, inactive and passive man if he is dominated by the tamasika nature. Thus, everyone has these three attributes.
For instance, in an eyeball don't you see all the three colours - white, red, and black? They symbolise these three traits. Watch the Sunrise. You will notice three colours - red, white and black again indicating three attributes. However, you should note one important point. These attributes or gunas have no independent existence. Divinity makes them functional. But the gunas are not to be found in the divine, as God is gunatita, the One beyond attributes.
Gunas are transformable. For instance, you can get over tamasika quality by karma, action. Karma transforms tamasika quality into rajasika activity. Rajasika nature is dual. It may give you success or failure, profit or loss, praise or blame, etc. Man has to perform karma. In fact, there is no one who does not take any action. You may lie on a bed sleeping, yet your heart beats, blood circulates and the nervous system and pulmonary system work. Don't they? Does it not amount to action?
By doing selfless actions, offering all the fruits of action to God, serving God in everyone and by realising the indwelling divinity, one can develop anubhavajnana, practical wisdom or experience-based wisdom. At that stage, a rajasika person becomes a sattvika person. Therefore, karma is important. It is said karmanubandhini manus yaloke, which means, human society is bound by action. Your very life is gifted to do karma. Thus, janma, birth and karma, actions are interrelated.
Therefore, a tamasika nature can be converted into rajasika by volitional action, which can be further transformed into sattvika by bhakti and jnana, that is, devotion and awareness. This is sadhana or spiritual practice.
In fact, one should salute respectfully the action he does. Tasmai namah karmane, “my salutations to the action given or assigned to me”. Therefore, a tamasika nature can be converted into rajasika by volitional action, which can be further transformed into sattvika by bhakti and jnana, that is, devotion and awareness. This is sadhana or spiritual practice.
By atmavicara, self-enquiry, you can improve and change your nature. When any lower or animal qualities like wavering of the mind, excessive sleep, gluttony, etc. crop up, immediately say to yourself at least ten times. "I am a man, I am not an animal." Then, you will be able to get over them. Do your duty sincerely. Don't be pompous. Don't show off or do any stunt. Always be sure that God notices everything that you do, though others may not. Do your duty with love.
Duty with love is Desirable.
Duty without love is Deplorable,
Love without duty is Divine.
If you offer all your work and the fruits thereof to God, your work will be transformed into worship.
You may not agree with your colleagues in your office. Your temperament may be incompatible with theirs, sometimes leading to controversies and in-fights, and you may, as a result, lose your peace of mind. So, don't have too close a relationship with too many people. Say ‘hello, hello’ to everyone, 'how are you' to all those you meet and end with 'goodbye'. That's all and nothing more.
Today, there is no real social service. Everything is either slow-service or show-service. You should have a feeling that what you do is not for anybody but for your own satisfaction and happiness. Whatever you do, do it for the satisfaction of your conscience.
You shouldn't do anything for praise or appreciation by others. Your conscience is God. Know that character is most important and you should never compromise on this score. What is always necessary for success in life is cooperation. But nowadays, we find only operation.
You should have a feeling that what you do is not for anybody but for your own satisfaction and happiness. Whatever you do, do it for the satisfaction of your conscience. You shouldn't do anything for praise or appreciation by others. Your conscience is God. Know that character is most important and you should never compromise on this score. What is always necessary for success in life is cooperation.
By joining good company (satsang), listening to the teachings of great masters and seers, and above all with God's grace, you can change your attitudes and mentality. By Buddha's teaching, the cruel Angulimala and by Narada's instructions Ratnakara (who became sage Valmiki later) were transformed. Visvamitra who was a Rajarshi, a sage among kings, became a Brahmarshi, a sage ever immersed in Brahman, by the direction of Vasishtha. Visvamitra thus became the mitra, friend of the visva, universe.
Arjuna, on one occasion dropped his bow and arrows in the battlefield. He became tamasika (dull, passive, weak) and even reluctant to engage in a war for which he stood in the battlefield. He forgot all the vows he had taken and the atrocities the Kauravas had committed. It was at that time that Krishna induced the rajasika quality into Arjuna's mind, preparing him for the war of Kurukshetra with renewed zeal.
Emperor Janaka who became a rajarshi due to the teachings of Sage Yajnavalkya renounced everything and became a perfect jnani, one known for spiritual wisdom.
Therefore, by intense sadhana, tamas can be converted into rajas, and rajas into sattva. In so doing, an aspirant becomes a recipient of God's grace and ultimately a seeker of nirvana (liberation).
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! We hear of purusarthas, the four goals of life. How are we to achieve them?
Bhagavan: I tell my students quite often about the four 'F's':
The first 'F' is 'Follow the master'.
Dharma, righteousness, is your master. Follow dharma at all times. All your actions must be approved by dharma, the ideal norms of life. If you hold on to dharma throughout, the very same dharma will protect you, dharmo raksati raksitah. Manava, being human, should follow the dharma of a human being (manavadharma), and never that of a demon (danavadharma).
The second 'F' is 'Face the devil'.
What is the devil here? While dharma is the master, artha, wealth or money, is the devil. Most people struggle a lot for money. They resort to all sorts of tactics, do unrighteous and unjustified deeds only for money. Many think that the world goes by money, dhanamulamidam jagat. No, the world relies on dharma, dharmamulamidam jagat. One should earn money righteously.
The third 'F' is 'Fight to the end'.
What is the enemy you should fight till the end? It is kama, desire. Until the last desire too vanishes, you should continue to fight.
Once Sage Dakshinamurthy happened to walk along the shore of a sea. He noticed the rising waves pushing a small blade of grass towards the shore. He felt bad. After all, it was a tiny grass blade and the mighty sea sent forth its mounting waves to push it away onto the shore. “How arrogant is the sea not to tolerate even a blade of grass!" thought the sage within himself.
Then the Sea God, Samudra, appeared before the sage with folded hands and said very humbly, “Oh! Great sage! I am not at fault: Do not blame me and call me arrogant. I am not so. I cannot afford to have a single, simple blemish, not even a blade of grass in me. So my waves pushed it away to the shore and not out of any hatred or enmity”. This is what 'fight to the end' means.
Then the fourth 'F' is 'Finish the game'.
What is the game? It is the game of life. When does the game of life finish? It finishes with the attainment of moksha (liberation). So moksha is the final goal of the four objectives of life.
Here you should remember one important point. Of the four purusarthas, dharma is 'Follow the master', artha is 'Face the devil', kama is 'Fight to the end' and moksha is 'Finish the game'. The first one is dharma and the fourth is moksha, with the second artha and the third kama in between. It implies that artha should be earned with dharma, then kama should be used only to attain the fourth goal of life moksha. So, the four 'F's' stand for these purusarthas of life. But now, I tell you there is another purusartha, the fifth one, which is the supreme goal of life. That is 'Love'.
Love is God,
God is Love, hence,
Live in Love.
You can achieve anything with love.
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! What is it that we should have in order to deserve Your prapti, deservedness?
Bhagavan: Your interest is the most important thing. With this you can achieve anything in life. When you have trust in a particular matter or a subject or a person, you are said to have interest in that matter or that subject or that person. Since you have immense interest in Swami, you run fast and occupy the front rows close to My feet. Isn't it so?
In the morning, in silence you wait anxiously for Swami, and that is why even the slightest sounds, such as the sound of closing the door of Swami's car makes you think, and alerts you that Swami is coming towards you. Whosoever comes to the scene at that time is expected to convey some message of Swami's arrival. What is the reason? This is all due to your interest in Swami. If you have no interest in Swami, you don't notice His presence even if He stands in front of you.
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! What is illusion, maya? Kindly explain.
Bhagavan: There is no illusion whatsoever. What exists is only brahman, the Cosmic Soul. The so-called illusion or maya is only your imagination. There is only Brahman. Nothing more! The body attachment is illusion, maya or bhrama.
A simple example: Here is a huge tree under which you see its shadow, don't you? The branches and the leaves are the cause of the shade. As the sunlight falls on the tree you see the shade beneath the tree. Here you have to know one important point.
What exists is only brahman, the Cosmic Soul. The so-called illusion or maya is only your imagination. There is only Brahman. Nothing more! The body attachment is illusion, maya or bhrama.
There is nothing like shade above the tree or on the top of the tree. It means there is no shade in sunlight. Then how does the shade arise? The branches and the leaves of the tree are responsible for the shade below.
Sunlight is brahman, tree is life and the branches and leaves are attachments and desires. They are responsible for the shade of maya or illusion. Shade is out of question when there are no leaves and branches. So, there is no illusion or maya as such. It is the fallacy of your imagination
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! How are we to get over maya or illusion?
Bhagavan: There is no maya. It is your own creation. How is it then you want to get over that, which does not exist at all?
In the night, seeing a rope, you mistake it for a serpent and you are very much stricken with fear. Later on, enquiry reveals that it is only a rope and not a serpent. What you should know here are two points: Neither the snake disappears, nor does the rope appears specially to give you relief. All along, it has been a rope. You are the only one who is mistaken by taking a rope for a serpent. So also, the reality is brahman or atma and the rest is bhrama, or illusion or imagination.
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! It is often said and felt that none escapes maya or illusion. Everyone falls a victim to the influence of maya. So, man is prone to delusion. Then Swami, a person who has known what maya is and has been out of maya, how is it that he gets into the trap again?
Bhagavan: Think of this situation. When it is dark what happens to light? Where does it go? Similarly, when there is light, where does the darkness that was present till the light came, go?
Absence of light is darkness.
Darkness does not flow or run away. Because of the light, it is not noticed. Once the light is put off, it will be dark as before. Here light is wisdom, darkness is ignorance, or maya, or delusion, or avidya. To dispel the darkness the only thing to do is light a candle.
So long as it is on the move of sadhana, the dust of illusion stays behind. But, if the bus of life stops or halts sadhana, the dust of delusion will get into life. So, it is sadhana that keeps you unaffected by delusion. If you stop sadhana you will again become a victim of maya.
Your question is, how the darkness of ignorance comes back again having been dispelled once already by the light of wisdom. A simple example: Many travel by bus. As the bus speeds forward along the rugged roads, we find the dust rising behind the bus so long as it is on a continuous run. But, the moment the bus stops the whole lot of dust collects inside. All of it just blows into the bus.
Similarly, human life is a bus. So long as it is on the move of sadhana, the dust of illusion stays behind. But, if the bus of life stops or halts sadhana, the dust of delusion will get into life. So, it is sadhana that keeps you unaffected by delusion. If you stop sadhana you will again become a victim of maya. Therefore, you can never take it for granted that you are rid of maya in your lifetime. It is your constant sadhana that helps you.
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! Illusion is a non-atmic feeling or worldly approach. To identify myself with that which I am not is illusion. Truly speaking, the "I" we often speak of is in reality only atma; nothing else. How is one to know this truth, and to recognise and experience this truth? Kindly tell us about this Swami!
Bhagavan: Actually, 'I' is only atma or brahman. A sincere attempt to know this truth is called 'enquiry'. Self-enquiry is most essential in the spiritual path. Puja, namasmarana , dhyana, tapas, yajna, yaga, (worship, meditation, chanting His name, ritual sacrifice) and such rituals are not truly spiritual. They are good activities to attain purity of heart. True spirituality indeed, is self-enquiry. I do not mean that you should give up all rituals and sacred actions. Self-enquiry is the most important in My view. Since you do not have people who are properly experienced in this field of knowledge to teach you, you find it tough and difficult to move in the right direction.
If this question, “Who are you?" is put to a group of people you get different answers. One says in reply, “I am an Indian”. This is not correct, because you may shift to America and then become an American. If you go to Russia, you are a Russian and so on. India is the country where you are born. But you are not the country. So, to say, “I am an Indian" is wrong. To the same question “Who are you"? Another would say, “I am an engineer”.
This is not correct, because you are an engineer by virtue of your profession. You are not the profession you are in. Some answer in a different way, saying, “I am so and so ...I am Ram, I am Shyam.” It is a name given to you by your parents. You are not born with that name nor did you come to this world with a signboard on your forehead. You are not the name as you may change it according to your taste at any time.
One may prefer to answer the question “Who are you?" in another way saying, “I am a young man”,” I am an aged person', "I am a boy" and so on. This is also wrong. Why? Boyhood, youth, and old age are the different stages that you pass through in your life. But you remain one and the same person all along. At one time, you were a boy. Then, a man; later a father and finally, a grandfather. But you have been the same person throughout.
Then, how can you identify yourself with your age which does not remain the same? Another person may say, “I am a tall person", " I am a handsome man", " I am a lean man". These are again the replies related to the nature of the body. This is not correct, you are not the body, which is merely an instrument, because while you are in deep sleep your body is passive and static, and you are not aware of its existence. You are not the mind, too.
“Who are you”? It is “I am atma”. This atma is the eternal witness and is the experiencer of all. This exists in all the three states of consciousness, jagrata (waking state), svapna (dreaming state), and susupti (deep sleep). You maybe named in any way, you may belong to any country, be of any age group or profession, etc., but as a matter of fact, you are only the 'Eternal Atma'. This is the correct answer you get in the path of self-enquiry.
This is true spirituality.
If you think you are the mind you lead the life of ego and pride. Even the mind does not exist in susupti, deep sleep. You are not the intellect either. You may be intelligent but you are not the intellect. Intellect is God's gift for you to discriminate, judge, decide and thus to be discreet. But, when it turns selfish, it is called "individual discrimination". But, what is expected is "fundamental discrimination", which is universal, and is good to everybody. You will also know that buddhi, intellect, does not exist in deep sleep. So, definitely you are not the intellect which is only an instrument like the body and the mind.
So, what is the correct answer to this question, “Who are you”? It is “I am atma”. This atma is the eternal witness and is the experiencer of all. This exists in all the three states of consciousness, jagrata (waking state), svapna (dreaming state), and susupti (deep sleep). You maybe named in any way, you may belong to any country, be of any age group or profession, etc., but as a matter of fact, you are only the 'Eternal Atma'. This is the correct answer you get in the path of self-enquiry. This is true spirituality.
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! What is Vedanta?
Bhagavan: The Veda is dualism. Vedanta is non-dualism. There is nothing beyond Vedanta. Milk on curdling becomes curds. You get butter when you churn curds. When you heat butter, you get ghee (clarified butter). Ghee is the final stage of milk. Even if you heat further it remains the same. So, milk, after passing through changes, becomes ghee. Milk represents dualism and ghee represents non-dualism.
Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami, do you view that the three schools of Vedanta philosophy like dualism, dvaita, qualified non-dualism visistadvaita and non-dualism, advaita as contradictory to one another? Does one school advocate just the opposite of what the other says?
Bhagavan: This is how it is usually understood and practiced by many. But, truly speaking it is not so. In fact; these three are integrated. You find one as being the continuation of the other. You will notice that one leads to the other.
Take for example, sugarcane. You find juice in the sugarcane. Here, there is pulp and juice. This is the state of dualism. Now, you can extract juice separating the pulp from the sugarcane. The juice, though very important and the very essence drawn out of the sugarcane, does not stay long or cannot be preserved for long.
This state of obtaining the juice, separating the pulp from the sugarcane is the state of qualified non-dualism. This juice is purified, refined and processed into sugar and sugar remains the same forever. This is the state of non-dualism. You can make use of sugar in any way you like.
(to be continued...)
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