Chapter 2 / parts
16 - 20
Workshop on Spirituality - Part 1
He gave us some prayers
to do for the morning and for the evening. He said in the morning
you do this prayer:
Lord, I am born again from the womb of sleep. And I am determined to
carry out all tasks this day as offerings to you, with you ever present
before my mind's eye. Let all my words, thoughts, and deeds be sacred
and pure. Let me not harm anyone. Let no one harm me. Please guide me
me this day.
And for the evening He gave
us a prayer on a slightly higher level. It is not going out into the
world, to a new morning, a new day. It is the return home at night.
And so that prayer is:
Lord. The tasks of this day are now done. It was you who made me walk,
and talk, and think, and act as I did. Now I lay all my words, thoughts,
and deeds at your lotus feet. Please receive me. I'm coming back to
Then one birthday, Swami told us to repeat
the following mantras every day. These are at a still higher level:
I am God.
I am God. I am no different from God. I am the supreme reality. I
am pure being, awareness and bliss. Everything has arisen from me.
Fear or grief can never touch me.
And then there is the level which he gave us
in this interview:
I am the immortal self.
I was never born. I will never die.
There's a little song that I would like to
sing to you:
'There is no birth, there
is no death, there is no you or I.
There is only Sathya Sai, beloved Sathya Sai,
Sathya Sai, Sathya Sai, beloved Sathya Sai.
There is no sun, there is no moon, there is no earth or sky.
There is only Sathya Sai, beloved Sathya Sai,
Sathya Sai, Sathya Sai, beloved Sathya Sai.'
that tells the story. Look behind all the phenomena of this world
and you will find the one divinity. Look into your own reality and
you find the one divinity. I was never born. I will never die. I am
the immortal self.
Now, do I say that because I know it directly? No.
Then should I not say it? No. I say it because Swami says "Do!"
But he also says, "Don't tell others; do it inside." It
is an affirmation: "I am God. I am God." You don't tell
that to everybody else. You don't go out and yell into the street
that Swami said to say "I am God." You do it inside and
with the conviction born of faith, because Swami said it is the truth.
Then, in time, it will be directly experienced as your truth.
If you have chosen yourself to hear all this, then you
are ready 'to do'. Then when you get up in the morning and face the
world you can say, "I am born again from the womb of sleep. I
am an instrument. I am determined to carry out the tasks of this day.
I will do my duty, sweet Lord, with you ever present in my mind's
eye..." And then, in the evening you can say, "It was you
who made me do everything. It was all done by you." And
inwardly I have the conviction that that 'you' is really 'I'; not
this changeful mind associated with this personality which I've been
calling 'I', but the universal 'I'. I am not the limited but the unlimited;
and so, as Swami tells me, I can proclaim my truth: "I am God.
I am God. I am no different from God." These then, are all the
different levels. You must be careful not to get the levels confused.
Are there any questions?
Question: "The question
is about incarnation. If we are perfect, why have we come into these
Answer: "Yes, there are many 'why' questions
like that and they have answers that will satisfy you for awhile.
For instance, Swami asks, "Why do you dream?" And he answers,
"Because you are asleep!" "Why are you alive?"
"Because you were born!" "Why were you born?"
"Because you died, but you died incorrectly. You were not finished.
So you were born again." "What causes birth?" "Actions
from a previous birth that have not been completed." "Why
did you engage in action?" "Because you had some unfilfilled
desire." "Why did you desire?" "Because you thought
the world was real and it had the means to fulfill your desires."
"Why did you think the world was real?" "Because of
duality." "Why duality?" "Because of ignorance
of the truth that all is one." "Why ignorance?" "Because
of illusion." Like this it goes, questions and answers, causes
and effects. But there are no causes and there are no effects. It
is all inexplicable.
When you speak of illusion, it can never be understood.
It can never be explained. We can talk about these things. They will
satisfy us up to a point. But ultimately, the only answer is 'divine
play.' And if we are the divinity why do we play? Why not? It is our
nature. But does the absolute, the infinite perfection need to separate
itself from itself and play with itself? Well, it just cannot be understood,
at least not through our linear rational mind.
There is one thing, though, that you can know about
illusion and that is, that it will come to an end. It will be finished.
How does it end? Think of God and there is no illusion. Think of illusion
and there is no God. So when you have the question about birth and
death, you are thinking of illusion. Then there will be answers. Think
of God and all these questions do not arise."
18 Jewish Interview
Question: "We have been
doing some translation work on the Hislop book, My Baba and I, and
something struck me. When Hislop questioned Swami, he brought forward
the question of American devotees of Jewish origin. Why isn't the
Jewish star in Swami's symbol depicting the different faiths? And
then Baba gives an answer which to my mind seems as if Swami doesn't
know anything about the Jewish religion. He seems to avoid the question.
But one chapter after that, there is a condensed report of a discourse
of Baba about the common things in all religions and he starts from
the Jewish religion. Then, suddenly, he seems to be a perfect expert
in the old Jewish traditions. Well, this seemed very strange to me.
Maybe you can explain some more about this. Maybe you were there in
Answer: Swami says love my uncertainty. Love my
inconsistency. Swami says many things that at different times may
appear inconsistent. They may confuse. When the Lord is born illusion
is born with him. Sometimes he seems like a South-Indian personality
who doesn't know many things outside of his immediate field of interest.
But then he will reveal himself to be the master of all knowledge.
We have seen it happen many times and been caught by him with our
doubts. The best advice when you get into this kind of dilemma is
to follow the voice of conscience, the inner voice of the master and
there will be no conflicts, only some joyful playfulness at times.
When Swami teaches the highest teaching, there is
no confusion. In this interview for Western devotees that I just read
to you, there was no confusion. The questions did not come out of
a place of confusion. They came out of a place of sincere yearning
for illumination, and also out of an almost overwhelmed surprise...
"You mean that I am God!? I am not an individual, but God?"
You see, the questions came out of the sudden realizaton... "Can
this really be true? If it is really true, then what does it really
Let me try to gain a further
understanding of this." and the answers given elevate us to a
higher level. But confusion happens when there is inconsistency at
different levels. There will be much of that. Don't pay too much attention
to it. That is the way of all great teachers. Through their apparent
inconsistencies, they push you into seeking shelter at the higher
And then you must also remember that Swami likes
cream. He likes butter. He is always churning. He takes you to the
heights and then he plummets you down into the depths until you give
up all this body consciousness and all this false self-importance
and interest in worldly things, in historical things, in words. "Go
inside. Go inside." That is the consistent message of Swami.
Since we want to hear some stories he gives us stories. And tomorrow
he may give us a different story and it will go another way. But don't
remain outside, involved in the story and its apparent contradictions.
Go inside and there will be no confusion.
far as Judaism is concerned, Swami gave an interview to Jewish devotees
to answer questions about the Jewish faith. I was there in that interview
and what I remember Swami saying was: "The Jewish religion and
the Christian religion are essentially the same. In India there are
very few Jews, so we have not shown the Jewish star on the symbol
of the different faiths, but you may add it. Both Jews and Christians
have the same basic Bible. The Christian Bible was added to the Jewish
Bible. The Bible is Veda. Veda means the voice of God. It has come
from God. But there have been many commentaries added to it by priests
and scribes. Jesus taught the same Veda.
So, there is really no difference
between the basic Jewish and Christian teachings." And of course
Swami is completely right. As I mentioned earlier, when Jesus was
asked what was the most important commandment, he quoted the mantra
given by Moses, the shemaa, which is sacred to Jews and repeated by
them many times daily. And when asked about the second most important
commandment, he also quoted Moses, that you should love your fellow
man as you love yourself - which is the Golden Rule. Then where is
the difference? Only in some of the details of the rituals added on
later and in the basic acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, the Saviour.
But the heart of the teaching, our relationship to God and our fellow
man, is the same.
On the subject of the Messiah, I had a chance to
ask Swami this question: "Swami, Moses led the people out of
slavery to the promised land 3000 years ago. Then 2000 years ago Jesus
was believed by his followers to be the Saviour who would lead them
into the Kingdom of Heaven. But the Jews are still waiting for the
Messiah to come. Swamiji, are you that Messiah who has come to deliver
us all?" Swami answered: "No, it's not like that. Not one
Messiah. In truth, you are all Messiah. Here and now you have the
strength to save yourself and to help others also. Live in God. Think
God. Be God. You are God. Realize it! Realize it!" So, this has
been Swami's consistent message to us.
Question: "In the interview
you shared with us, there was a question that said, 'Is it imprinted on
everyone's forehead when you will achieve realization?' And the answer
that you gave wasn't very clear for me. Could you repeat it again and
could we discuss it a little bit?"
Answer: The question related to what is predetermined.
Is everything already predetermined? As Swami was teaching the highest
teaching, he was talking of the supreme self, the immortal self. It is
never born. It is never reborn. That is what Swami said. But now you are
speaking from the point of view of this personality, this individual.
Remember that one of the questions was, "Is there any individual
anything?" And Swami said, "For the immortal self there is no
individual. Individuals are like light bulbs. They will be different,
but you are the current, you are not the light bulb."
But still we want to know. After all, I am sitting here
and I'm not sitting there. What I do with this life, the trajectory through
the world that I take with this body, is that all predetermined? Well,
if you want to climb down to this individual level, then Swami will answer
that. He did not answer that in the interview, because there Swami was
teaching at the highest level of truth, the unchanging truth.
The most consistent answer that I have heard Swami give
is that when you are born, there is a chain around your neck. It is the
chain put there by the lord of creation. You cannot see that chain but
it will certainly be there. And the beads strung on that chain are all
the actions that you have to engage in during this life, and the knowledge
also, when and how you will finish this life. He says it is just like
railroad carriages that have a number stamped on them giving the date
when they must be returned to the shop. In the same way, there is a date
already written on you when this body/mind has to return to the shop,
when it has to go back to the five elements. That's already determined.
That is the answer Swami usually gives. And that means, yes, it is all
predetermined. But Swami also says that by our efforts we can earn God's
grace, and thereby change our destiny. It is we who have written on our
foreheads and it is we who can erase it by evoking God's grace. What is
required is the marriage of personal effort and God's grace.
deeper message behind this is that the consequences of previous actions
that are waiting to fructify, waiting to come into life, are like a big
warehouse filled with thousands of lives to come. There are so many things
we have willfully done in other lives that cannot possibly be completed
in this life. I may have hurt my parents, which may require me to come
back and suffer like that as a parent. As a male, I may have abused someone
in a female body, which would require me to come back in a female form
to compensate. I may have been rich and done something wrong, and now
I must come back poor. There are also positive results that require their
completion in future lives. It adds up to so many lives that are still
waiting for fruition. From this huge warehouse, we take out a little tiny
pushcart, that is this life. There are thousands of lives behind us, but
there are also thousands of lives still waiting.
Then what is truly important? Is it this present life
that is so important? No. What is important is that that warehouse of
future lives be burned down. We have to fry the seeds of all those lives
to come. We must do whatever it takes to make this the last life... that
is what is important. As long as we think that we have a choice in anything,
then that must be our priority-number-one. For that we need to gain knowledge.
Only self-knowledge will fry those seeds of future births and make them
impotent. The whole illusion of birth and death must be dispelled. And
that, Swami says, can only happen after we have purified our hearts of
all the negative influences that are there.
Now, is all this written on our foreheads? Again we must ask from
what level the question is being asked? From the highest level it is a
meaningless question, since the whole issue disappears when we ask a previous
question which is: "Who is the 'I' that wants to know?" When
we seek out the seeker, all we will find is the unity, and then there
is no question of mergence. On the dualistic level we will find answers,
but they will satisfy for only a short time, because we will constantly
outgrow them. But why bother ourselves with these concerns? Why not just
live as if this is our last life. That means one-pointed, sincere yearning
for the highest truth. It means filling ourself with the virtues that
please the Lord, so that more and more he showers us with his grace.
Finally, we will discover the truth that all along we have
been one with the Lord. We are he. "Man minus desires is God",
Swami says. When that warehouse of seeds is gone, only God remains. That
is the wisdom teaching. But that wisdom can only come through love, through
devotion. And before there can be this devotion, there has to be some
service. You have to turn ordinary actions, into sacred actions. You have
to turn sacred actions into actions devoid of all desire for the fruits.
Then you have to turn desireless action into an offering to the Lord,
a sacrifice. Then your actions become worship and your path automatically
evolves into devotion. These are the steps along the way.
So the answer is, "Yes, it is all predetermined."
But at the same time, at the phenomenal level, you have a choice. Turn
towards God, God turns towards you, and the shadow is behind you. It no
longer affects you. But if you choose to turn towards the world, then
God leaves you alone and you are in the world of the shadow or the writing
on the forehead. So in that sense it is up to you. When you consider yourself
to be in the world of relativity separate from God, and you think you
have a will separate from God, then you are required to exercise it correctly.
There is much more to be said
on this subject. You see, we have only just opened Pandora's box. We have
only spoken of one state. We have only considered the waking state. Presumably
right now we are all awake. That is only one state. There are three states
of experience. There is also the dream state and there is the deep sleep
state. These are equally important. In the wisdom teachings of India,
they are considered very important. We haven't made any references to
these states in our discussions. And when it comes to this question of
predetermination, we have to examine what we learn from the other states.
I'm sorry we won't have much time for that today, but let me mention just
a few thoughts on this subject.
What we have been talking about here has to do with
waking up from the dream that makes up our life, as we experience it.
Well, let us consider, when does a dream end? From within the dream can
we direct its conclusion? It may matter very much to the dream character
for the dream to end, but does it matter to the one who is dreaming? Dreaming
is his nature. It goes with being asleep. The way Swami explains it, maya
or illusion, has two very powerful shaktis or powers. One is the veiling
power which covers and conceals the truth. The other is the projecting
power wherein the mind superimposes imaginary creations and objects on
the unchanging basis.
The traditional example that illustrates these two shaktis
is the snake and the rope. In the dusk we come across a rope lying on
the road in front of us, but we mistake it for a snake and become very
troubled. But there is no snake there. Due to the inexplicable power of
illusion, the rope became totally hidden from our sight. Instead of seeing
a harmless rope, our mind projected the terrifying image of a snake onto
the rope. When we shine a light, the two powers of illusion instantly
disappear and we see what was always there, namely, the rope.
When we dream, both the veiling power and the projecting
power are active. We experience ourselves as characters in the dream caught
up in the illusion. But between dreams, in deep sleep, the projecting
power is absent. There is only the veiling power of sleep. No imaginary
stories of a separate 'I' and 'they', of an individual 'body', an individual
'mind' and a 'world' are present to disturb our peace. And so we are quite
happy in that state. When we wake up from deep sleep there is nothing
to be remembered, for nothing imagined 'happened'. We just know that the
experience of an individual self was totally absent and that we feel very
The waking state is just another form of dream. It is
a waking dream in which both powers of illusion are very much present.
At death, the projecting power comes to an end and the current dream is
finished; but then new dreams follow. Between lives there is the veiling
power continuing to obscure the truth. When, through the grace of the
guru, we come into the light of wisdom, the mind becomes purified and
both powers of illusion totally disappear. Then we are totally awake and
established in the unchanging unity of the atma. When the illusion disappears,
all aspects of the story, including the waking-up process disappear with
it. For there was never an individual who was asleep. It was all just
a silly dream.
I would like to say something else in this regard. It
is very important in the higher stages of the spiritual trek to give up
our need to understand rationally with our thinking mind. We have just
broached these two other states of experience, dreaming and deep sleep,
and we see that in these states our rational faculties are of no avail.
On the spiritual path, the principal process is not mental understanding,
but intuitive apprehension. The intuitive faculty has to be developed;
then something happens in the heart. That higher faculty of immediate,
comprehensive cognition is what Swami calls the CIA, the constant integrated
awareness. Its instrument is the buddhi, the intuitive faculty, which
in most of us is still just an undeveloped spring. Swami says it must
be made to flow like the Ganges. Then truth reveals itself to us in a
flash of immediate apprehension, without the intermediary of the mind
soiling that truth with its conceptualization and web-spinning imagination.