THE TRANSCENDENTAL TRUTH
A Buddhist Perspective of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Dedicated to the Eternal Truth of Dhamma
To mark the 1995 Vesak and the 70th Birth Anniversary of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
My thanks go to Dr. (Mrs.) Hema Weerakoon for the foreword and editorial comments, Mrs. T. M. S. Damayanthi for her efficient typing, Mrs.S. R. Ratwatte for her assistance, Mrs. Lakmini R. Welgama and Upali Printers for the printing, all my friends for their support, my parents, sister Kalyani and her family for all what they have done - my father Mr. Sirisoma Ranasinghe who continues to inspire me even after his death, Ven. Yogavacara Rahula - Author of "The Way to Peace and Happiness", from which I have taken most of the material on Buddhism, The Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) and Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for Peace Bestowed.
Buddhists in Sri Lanka who have earned the grace of an introduction to the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba would see no basic difference in what they have learnt through precept and practice of Buddhism and the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. In the promotion of the virtuous life, the cultivation of selflessness in the service of fellow beings and also in the methods of meditation, the similarity of approach is most striking.
Despite this fact, hardly any attempt has been made at an in-depth study of the similarities. Of course, a study at a mere academic level would be of little use to the followers of both the Buddha and of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. What is essential is for such a study to be penetrated with personal conviction and spiritual experience.
Nandini Samarasinghe has the qualifications necessary to bring out a book that should interest all Buddhists seeking a closer view of the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. She belongs to a family deeply steeped in the traditions of Buddhism. Also she has given herself to the Sai movement with all the necessary spiritual commitment. She is a lawyer by profession attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with professional experience at International, Regional & National Level, and as such, able to give to this study the needed objectivity.
This little booklet answers a felt need. I sincerely hope that the Sai movement will not only be enriched by this work but will also be able to make further contributions of this nature.
Dr. (Mrs.) Hema Weerakoon
University of Kelaniya.
2. Chapter I — The First Noble Truth
3. Chapter II — The Second Noble Truth
4. Chapter III — The Third Noble Truth
5. Chapter IV — The Fourth Noble Truth
6. Chapter V — Karma
7. Chapter VI — Rebirth
8. Chapter VII — Sanathana Dharma and Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
10. Annex I — Vesak
11. Annex II — Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Discourse.
Buddhism is what was discovered, taught and practiced by one of the greatest Sages, Siddharta Gautama The Buddha in the 5th century B.C. in India. It deals with religious, philosophical, social and individual problems making the restricted definition of religion alone not appropriate. For this reason, some take Buddhism to be a religion while others regard it as a Philosophy and in modem times co-opted to the fields of psychology and psychotherapy.
Buddhi in Sanskrit means the 'Pure intellect', the mind which is free from conditional influence of emotions and defilements, and purified of all ego-conceit and traces of attachment / greed, aversion/hatred, and delusion.
On Enlightenment, the Buddha realised through his own perfected mind, the complete cycle of cause and effect, the law of karma as it pertains to the elements of mind and matter and how it operates. Although he saw that the root cause for the suffering and unhappiness which living beings experience in their lives is rooted in their own mind, he considered the human mind as capable of rising above all human weaknesses and cultivating a divine mind through his / her own efforts. By cultivating awareness and acquiring control over the operation of the mind, an individual can gradually change and destroy root causes which encourage continued worldly bondages bringing forth misery, sorrow and frustration. We all being liable to birth, aging, decay, dying and sorrow seek happiness in what is likewise liable to those conditions without realising that the utmost happiness and security lies in the Noble Quest of attaining Nibbana, the ultimate Liberation from Cycle of Birth. Siddhartha Gauthama, in his search for Eternal Peace and Happiness sat under the Bo Tree of Gay a in Uruwela with the utmost determination to achieve permanent peace. "Sol monks, being myself liable to birth, aging, decay, disease, dying, sorrow and stain, having seen the peril in what is likewise liable to the same, seeking the unborn, undying the utter most security from the bonds, did win the Unborn, Undying - Nibbana. Knowledge and vision arose in me, unshakable is freedom for me, this is the last birth, there is no more again becoming!". (Majjhima Nikaya -26)
After attaining Enlightenment and the rediscovery of the Ancient Path to Liberation, through utter compassion and love for the humanity he wandered many villages, cities, lands and Kingdoms for 45 years, imparting the knowledge of Dhamma. He advised His Accomplished Monks (Arahats) also "to go now and wander for the welfare and happiness of many out of compassion for the world, for the gain, welfare and happiness of Gods and Men. Let not two of you proceed in the same direction. Proclaim the Dhamma that is excellent in the beginning, middle and end, possessed of meaning and letter, and utterly perfect. Proclaim the life of purity, the holy life consummate and pure". This Mission of Buddha lasted till the end of His Life enfolding all without any distinction of class, caste, creed or sex, within the Aura of His boundless compassion and wisdom.
Sathya Sai Baba has declared His Mission as follows: "I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come to speak on behalf of any particular spiritual practice or Hindu Philosophy. I have not come on any mission of Publicity for any Sect or Creed or Cause; nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have no plans to attract disciples/devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this Universal Faith, this Divine Consciousness — this Path of Love, this Philosophy of Love, this Duty of Love, this Obligation of Love".
The first six chapters of this book examines the Teachings of Buddha and the last chapter VII, some of the Teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The Teachings of Buddha had been methodically recorded by Arahat Bikkhus after his death into "Tripitaka'' and thus could be presented in a more comprehensive manner. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba unfolds his mystery day by day and still engaged in his mission of imparting spiritual lessons to the mankind. For this reason, its difficult to present the entire Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in a nutshell, as in Buddhism, although I have tried to condense some fundamental aspects of His Teaching under five main thematic captions, i.e. Sathya, Dharma, Ahimsa, Shanthi, Prema, to which He attaches much importance. However, one may note the striking similarity in the Spiritual Teachings of Buddha and Sathya Sai Baba in precept and practice.
Except for few instances of personal experiences or observations, what is written in the following chapters are not mine. I am only repeating the Wisdom, the Truth and the Love of Buddha and Sai Baba for the benefit of seekers of Wisdom, Truth and Love; for, within the teachings of these two great spiritual Gurus lies their identity. Those aspirants who wants to know Buddha or Sai Baba could know them either through direct experience or their teachings only.
Both these great spiritual leaders were born under normal circumstances, lived a normal human life but manifest divinity through their spiritualism. Both possess unparallel love and compassion, absolute wisdom, a pure intellect, of a truly liberated soul, which is primarily responsible for the great devotion and respect revered on them by millions of people. What follows is a maiden attempt to discover the similarities of the Teachings of Buddha and Sri Sathya Sai Baba, inspite of the difference of time factor.
Hopefully, this will encourage the true spiritual aspirants to adopt boldly the path of Truth shedding away lables and tags which undermines the sanctity of these universal principles. For example. Annex I which gives an account of the Vesak celebrations is being written by a Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu. We both, though belong to Buddhist and Hindu communities are seekers of self realization who have recognized the Buddha Consciousness and His unparalleled Compassion which transcends man made barriers and re-enacted through the life of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Is not the time right for us to be awakened to the fact that no community / race / class / religion could claim proprietary rights over the Universal Principals of humanity, that almost all the great Spiritual Leaders tried to make us understand?
What Buddha collectively set forth in his teachings are called the Dhamma, which he directly perceived and realized to be true and common to the entire universe. While explaining his discoveries. He mainly categorized them into what He called the Four Noble Truths. The following are some of Buddha's own discourses which set forth the Four Noble Truths:
"Monks, there are these Four Noble Truths, The Noble Truth about Suffering (Dukkha); The Nobel Truth of the Arising of suffering; The Noble Truth of the Ceasing of suffering; and the Nobel Truth of the Path leading to the cessation of suffering."
The First Noble Truth - Suffering
"And what, monks is the Noble Truth about suffering? Birth, aging, sickness, pain, sorrow, lamentation, grief, despair and death are suffering. Not getting what we desires and coming into contact with the undesired is suffering. In short, it is the five aggregates of clinging that are suffering. What are the five aggregates,
All forms or material shapes (Rupa), whether it be past, present or future, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near - That is called the aggregate of form.
Every Feeling (Vedana), whether it be past, present or future, internal or.... that is called the aggregate of feelings.
Every perception (Sanna), be it past .... that is called the aggregate of perceptions.
Every mental formation (Sankhara), be it past..... is called the aggregate of mental formation.
Every consciousness (Vinnana), be it past.... that is called the aggregate of consciousness."
These five aggregates of clinging Buddha mentioned as above are the elements which compromise the body and the mind of sentient beings and based on these five 'factors of existence' arise all the different kinds of material and mental phenomena which exist in the world thus making these five aggregates of clinging being the dukkha or suffering itself. With penetrating insight, the Buddha discerned that these very five 'elements of a being' are what living beings attach and identify themselves to regarding them as 'mine', 'myself or 'my soul'.
The First aggregate of matter (rupa) consists of all the material manifestations which are the objects of sense cognition. These include the physical body and all material objects in the world-visible objects, sounds, smells, flavors - any sense stimulus whatsoever of a material nature. Buddha undiscovered that all universal forms are compounded and derived from four basic modes of characteristics or elements which matter can assume i.e.. The earth element; which is solid, hard or soft and having extension or occupying space; the water element, which is liquid or fluid in nature and having cohesive properties; the fire element, which ranges different in temperature-hot and cold and which functions in the maturation or ripening process; the air element, which is motion or pressure and allows the movements of different parts of the universe / body.
These four basic elements are the constituents of the human and animal body and their various combinations produces their peculiar characteristics and functions of bodily life. All four elements are inherent in each manifestation of matter but one is usually predominant and stands out over the others so the object is said to be and exhibits that particular characteristics.
Buddha said to his only son "These five elements (earth, water, fire, air and consciousness) Rahula, in accordance with fact and with perfect insight, should be regarded thus; This is not mine, this I am not, this is not myself" (Majjima Nikaya 62). One should not think and conceive them as pertaining to oneself. If one does insist on clinging to these 'characteristics of matter' and grasp them as "self" belonging to his body, then he will have to suffer whatever consequences they bring, instead of becoming free from their overwhelming influence.
The second aggregate of grasping - to phenomena is vedanna, the factor or feelings or sensations that arise and pass away continually in the body and mind whenever there is sensory impingement. The Buddha said:
Monks, there are these six seats of feelings: feeling (pleasant, painful or neutral) that is born of contact with the eye; feeling bom of contact with the ear; feeling born of contact with the nose; feeling born of contact with the toung; feeling born of contact with the body (skin); and feeling that is born of contact or cognizing mental objects (memories, dreams, hallucinations, ideas thoughts etc.) From the arising of contacts is the arising of feeling; From the ceasing of contact is the ceasing of feeling"; (Sanyutta Nikaya - Ch 22..56)
These feelings are only conditioned, habit-reflex mental reactions which arise on account of sensory impingement or contact. It is these feelings or sensations constantly arising and ceasing in the body and mind that cause or condition the craving / attachment for certain objects, the aversion/hatred towards other objects and just indifferent or mental reactions to some. Most unaware, people think it is the object itself that they desire or crave. When it is seen with insight, it is the conditioned, habit reflex element of feeling which the object stimulated the mind to re-create. So, it is this mental activity of feeling which is reacted to, through force of karma, and not really the object itself.
It is these feelings and sensations that are continually arising and passing away in the body and mind which keeps the mind on its insatiable quest for sensual gratifications. We must develop our attitude of detachment and equanimity to these feelings, knowing that they are impermanent, continually changing, conditionally arising and without substantial self nature. We are not able to have the pleasant sensation at our will and we are subjected to the unpleasant ones, also which is not under our control. If we train the mind to remain equanimous when they arise, not desiring or avoiding, then we can be free from their binding influence.
The third aggregate of clinging is Sanna. This consists of the perceptions or recognitions of visible objects, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily impressions and mental objects. A perception is the peculiar characteristic of a thing or the memory, of an object - how it is normally pictured and recognized. These perceptions are also conditioned, habit - reflex mental reactions which arise on account of the six sensory contact, just as the feelings and sensations, since what one feels, that one perceives.
The fourth aggregate of clinging is Sankhara. This consist of the mental formations and latent tendencies which the mind creates and involves itself in towards objects it comes into contact with. These mental activities again, are conditioned habit - reflex reactions which the mind spontaneously produces and they include the newly formed volitions and other activities of mind as well. These sankhara are the result of our past action (karma) of body, speech and thought, and on which the present and future thoughts and actions are based. They are actually the 'stuff' of the mind from which all mental activity and the corresponding bodily activities are conditioned and developed into habits.
According to Buddhist 'Abhidhamma' there are fifty mental factors included in the aggregate of Sankhara. Some of these are attention, intention, one pointedness of mind, awareness, contact, initial thought, sustained thought, interest, desire, energy, decision, kindness, sympathy, anger, greed, ignorance, ill will, envy, egoism, worry, doubt, sympathy, laziness, shame, fear etc.
Some of these arise all the time while some arise once in while whenever the proper conditions are present, according to their function and habitual exercise. By use and repetition they gain strength to affect our thinking and actions. It is these 'Sankhara' which we must understand and recognize by our experience and learn to control. For, if is from these that all our personal weal and woe arise.
The fifth aggregate is vinnana or consciousness itself. There are six kinds of consciousness according to the six sense organs that is contacted and stimulate. Buddha explained, "Monks, consciousness is generated by conditions. Apart from conditions there is no manifestation consciousness. It is because of the appropriate condition arising that consciousness is known by this or that name. If consciousness arises because of the eye coming into contact with a visible object, it is known as eye consciousness (seeing); if consciousness arises because of the nose and odours, it is known as nose consciousness (smelling); if it arises because of the tongue and flavours, it is known as tongue consciousness (tasting); If it arises because of the body and touch objects, it is known as 'body consciousness' (touching); If consciousness arises because of the cognition of mental objects, then it is known as 'mind consciousness'.
However, it does not mean that there are six separate consciousness each one connected with its respective sense organ. It is biological role of sensory activity of consciousness which plays within the realm of the six sense spheres.
Thus, there is the including and the coming together of these five groups of grasping. These are generated by conditions. What ever among these five grasping groups is desire, sensual pleasure, affection, information, that is the uprising of 'ILL' (Dukkha). Whatever among these five groups is the control of desire and attachment the non-existence of desire and attachment, that is the ceasing of 'ILL'. (Majjhima Nikaya - 28)
In the five constituents of being, mentality - materiality occur as an interdependent state. Each of its component factors gives each other mutual support and when one falls owing to death or malfunction, the other fall too. The mentality and materiality, each on their own has no sufficient power to function.
The Second Noble Truth
The Buddha detailed in the Second Noble Truth, the origin of suffering (Dukkha), and the conditions which are needed for the development and continuation of conditioned life. He relates it in the cycle of Interdependent Origination on the cycle of repeated births and deaths. The whole process of life, birth. sickness, disease, sorrow, pain, unhappiness death etc. evolved and continues because of interdependent causal condition. Everything which has come to existence in the past, now in the present and in the future, have depended, are now depending and will depend upon a whole host of interrelated and supporting conditions. All of this works out in a continuous series of compounded relation of cause and effect. The cycle of repeated births and deaths is termed 'samsara' the continuous fluctuating sea of life, in which all living beings, as long as they are immersed and shrouded in delusion and fettered by craving attachment, must revolve round and round.
In Buddha's discourse as repeated below. He explained the whole complex process.
"And to me monks, while I was yet unenlightened, there came this thought:
Alas ! This world has fallen upon trouble. There is getting born and growing old, and dying and being reborn. And yet from this suffering on an escape is not known, even from sickness and decay.
Then this thought came to me; what now being present does sickness, decay and death came to be. What conditions sickness, decay and death? Then to me, thinking according to causal (attention to cause and effect), there came to pass comprehension of insight;
Let there be birth, then there is sickness, decay and death. Sickness, decay, death are conditioned by birth.
Then to me came this thought. What now being present does birth came to be? What conditions birth? Then to me thinking according to the law of cause and effect, came to pass comprehension of insight;
Let there be becoming (fresh karma production), then birth comes to be,
Let there be grasping then becoming comes to be,
Let there be craving then grasping comes to be,
Let there be feeling then craving comes to be,
Let there be contact then feelings comes to be,
Let there be six sense-spheres then contact comes to be,
Let there be body & mind then sense spheres come to be,
Let there be consciousness (rebirth-linking); then body & mind come to be,
Let there be mental formations then consciousness comes to be, Let there be ignorance then the mental formations comes to be,
Then monks, to me came this thought; what now being absent does sickness, decay, sorrow..... death came not to be? Then to me, thinking according to causal law, came to pass comprehension of insight; from the ceasing of birth there is the ceasing of sickness, decay and death;
With the ceasing of becoming there is the ceasing of birth;
With the ceasing of grasping there is the ceasing of becoming;
With the ceasing of craving there is the ceasing of grasping;
With the ceasing of feeling there is the ceasing of craving;
With the ceasing of contact there is the ceasing of feeling;
With the ceasing of the sense-spheres ther is the ceasing of contact;
With the ceasing of name-and-form there is the ceasing of the sense sphere;
With the ceasing of consciousness there is the ceasing of name-and-form;
With the ceasing of the mental formations there is ceasing of consciousness;
With the ceasing of ignorance there is the ceasing of the mental formations;
Such in truth is the ceasing of this entire mass of suffering. Ceasing! Ceasing! At this thought there arose in me, things not learned before; Vision arose, knowledge arose. (Sanyutta Nikaya - Ch.12)
Due to ignorance, the mental-formations are kept strong and do not decrease. This produces moment to moment I Consciousness and also the rebirth - Linking consciousness at the time of death, which manifest for its use, another body in another existence for the mind to operate through, and the accumulated Karma to be exhausted. This complete the three requisite for the six fold sense - sphere so that contact can take place, which gives rise to feeling. And from feeling arises the craving, grasping and becoming for them. This fresh Karma accumulation again strengthens the mental formations which gives rise to future rebirth. Having been born into this conditioned world, we must experience the impermanence, the sickness, sorrow, suffering, confusion, decay and death that goes with it.
But with the utter fading out and non-existence of ignorance, there is the fading, the slowing, the ceasing of mental-grasping force and by and by the non-production of Rebirth Linking Consciousness. Hence no future rebirth, hence no more name and form, no sense activity, no feeling etc. Such is the ceasing of this entire mass of Dukkha!
This whole process of mind and matter sustained by the nutriments which feeds activities of the six senses. Without nutriments these activities will gradually subside and eventually cease altogether. The basic sustenance is craving. But it is due to the ego or I consciousness desire to continue, that attachment / craving is kept ever afresh in grasping and becoming.
"Monks, these four forms of nutriments are for the maintenance of beings that have come to birth and for assisting those who seek to become. These four forms are:
Material food, course or fine; contact or sensory impingement; mental striving (Karma accumulation); and consciousness.
And of these four nutriments for the maintaining of beings what is the base, the source, the condition, the cause, the birth, the origin? It is craving I declare. Craving is their base, from craving they are produced, they arise, craving cause them to be".
If there not be passion, delight nor craving as to any one of these four sustenance, then these consciousness is not established nor fruitful. Therefore, in consequence, name and form does not manifest, there mental-formations do not grow, and there is in the future no renewed becoming and rebirth, nor decay sickness, suffering and death.... this is the ceasing of the entire five fold mass of Dukkha. (Sanyutta Nikaya - Ch. 12)
The Third Noble Truth
The Third Noble Truth which the Awakened One experienced on the night of His Enlightenment, was the subsiding and virtually ceasing of Dukkha, the very cessation of the conditioned mind itself. By using wisdom, He destroyed all defilments in His mind and brought the deluded notion of individual 'I' to naught. His mind ceased to grasp or cling to anything; forms, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, consciousness or any of the six kinds of sense stimuli, thus did He realize Nirvana, the incomparable end of suffering. In this realization He came to know that for Him this was His last conditioned life. His consciousness, at the time of death would no longer be able to find a footing in another Samsaric existence. Thus He uttered on attainment of Enlightenment;
"Through many a long birth and death wandered I
Seeking but not finding the builder of this house (the body)
Sorrowful is repeated birth
O house-builder (craving), you are seen!
You shall build no house again
All your rafters (desire-attachment) are broken
Your ridge-pole ('I') is shattered
To dissolution (Nibbana) goes this mind
Achieved is the end of suffering (Dukkha)."
Whosoever, O monks, in reality understands the eye, visible forms, eye consciousness; ear, sound, ear consciousness; nose........... tongue ........ body ........ mind, mind objects and mind consciousness, such a wise one no more craves for these things.
"Whosoever is without desire or attachment, on experiencing any of these, in such a one the five aggregates of grasping come to extinction, and the rebirth producing craving, accompanied by lust and greed, finding delight now here, no there, this craving vanishes in him. This is the end of ill, this is Nibbana." (Sanyutta Nikaya - Chap. 35 & 85)
When one can sever the identification and attachment to the mind and body and relinquish the notion of a personal 'self' then the mind is not harassed and agitated by any of the assailments from outside or from within. The mind can then experience the non wordly tranquility and happiness which lies beyond the range of the six senses. This is the spiritual realm of the mind where thinking and conceptualizing activity powered by 'I' is put into abeyance, where there is no duality of a subject - object relationship.
The Buddha described 'Ten Fetters' of mental defilements which are responsible for keeping the karma energized mind in its self perpetuating and strengthening process. These ten fetters or obstructions keep the mind tightly bound and attached to the objects of the world, including being attached to itself. With these, the Karmic force is kept forever circling on the wheel of birth and death, (sansara) throughout the various realms of existence trying to keep hold of itself.
1) Sakkaya-Ditthi: This is the personality view or the belief in independent self-existence. It is the belief in some type of entity or soul which is behind the process of sensory cognition, devoid of oneself, being the owner who enjoys or hates the experience.
2) Vicikiccha: This is sceptical doubt and uncertainty as to the true nature of the body and mind and the world. It is doubt about the effectiveness of Dharma practice.
3) Silabbata-Paramasa: This is belief that certain external rites and rituals can be an effective means of inner mental purification and spiritual salvation, devoid of any personal effort.
4) Kama-raga: This is sensuous lust or desire and attachment to the sense objects which stimulate the mind into action. It is the strong attraction and desire for what one perceives as pleasant and beautiful.
5) Patigha: This is repugnance, resentment, anger, ill-will and hate. It is the tendencies in the mind which react this way towards certain sense stimuli when contacted.
The above five are the lower fetters which arc the main obstacles in binding the mind to this world. They prevent one from attaining higher realizations. The following five are called the higher fetters. They are more subtle in their manifestation and they are the last ones to be eliminated before full liberation or enlightenment is attained.
6) Rupa-raga: This is greed, desire or attachment to be reborn in one of the five material realms or worlds (rupa-loka). These are heavenly realms where the life span is long and blissful. It is a hindrance, however, to spiritual advancement to be attached to these, as Dharma cannot be practiced in these realms.
7) Arupa-raga: This is desire to be reborn in the immaterial or formless realms where exist only very lofty, expansive, formless state of mind. Even the life span here is also very long, they are also impermanent states, created by certain concentration techniques. There is no possibility, in practising Dhamma towards spiritual upliftment in these states.
8) Mana: This is self-conceit and pride which is the most deep rooted of all the ten fetters along with ignorance.
9) Uddhacca: This is mental excitation and restlessness which never allows the mind to rest or become completely still.
10) Avijja: This is ignorance or delusion, of the Four Noble Truths (suffering, its cause, its cessation and the path leading to cessation) the strongest obstacle to liberation.
It is these ten fetters which must consciously worked on, undermined, eradicated and rooted out through continuous and diligent wisdom and meditation. They cannot be eradicated by mere wishful thinking and thus wisdom has to be used to root out these defilements. They can be cut off only through meditative awareness applied in the course of one's daily life, whether as a monk in seclusion or a lay person living in the material world. This constitutes one's Dharma practice. (They can be rooted out either quickly or slowly, depending on the strength of one's attachment, ignorance, accumulated Karma and effort.)
The Buddha described four progressive stages in the refinement and purification of these ten fetters. All of these stages must be realised or passed through by the earnest disciple, to attain the final Nirvana of never being reborn into any sansaric realm.
In diligent meditation one must reflect on the impermanence and soullessness of the five aggregates of clinging and develop a dispassionate and detached attitude towards them. When the seven factors of Enlightenment are developed, there will come the first complete cut off of the conditioned mind, leaving only the unconditioned, unborn, the direct experience of Nirvana.
This will probably last for only an instant but nevertheless, the realisation is such that it destroys the first three fetters. This stage of mental purification is called 'Sotapatti' or stream entry. It literally means 'entering the stream', the stream of wisdom -mind which flows and ends in the final Nirvana or liberation. The three fetters that are destroyed will no longer be a binding hindrance in one's Dhamma practice. The mind at this point is now assured and destined to attain the complete destruction of the remaining seven fetters and full enlightenment only in a matter of time. This is said to be of the most, seven rebirths. However, it could be before the end of that present life itself if sustained efforts were maintained.
This first realization is also considered the most difficult to attain. It requires tremendous effort to go against the momentum of normal thinking and break through the delusion of "self" or 'I-consciousness'. Because of the extreme level of purity of the karmic force at this stage, it is impossible for it to remanifest in any one of the lower realms of suffering. It is impossible for that individual to commit one of the evil deeds which would result in such a rebirth.
"Monks, the Noble disciple who, by destroying the three fetters and blessed with four qualities, is a stream-winner, who has passed utterly beyond all fear of a woeful rebirth, not doomed to the downfall; he is assured and bound for full enlightenment. What are the four qualities he is possessed with? He is blessed with unwavering faith and confidence in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha (those who have won the vision) and equipped with the clear, bright, unsoiled virtues which are praised and dear to the Noble ones, virtues that lead to concentration of mind and mental-composure.
Monks, there may be a change in the four great primary elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air, but there can be no change (rebirth in lower realms) for the Aryan Disciple blessed with unwavering faith and unblemished virtues which are dear to the Aryans". (Sanyutta Nikaya Ch. 55)
After one has entered the stream, what is left to do is to continue working on undermining and destroying the remaining seven fetters. This is done by continued meditation as before and purifying the mind of sense desire, attachment, illwill and aversion. When these have been reduced significantly, the second stage of mental purity is reached. This is called the 'Once Returning' state (Sakadagami). This is because the Once Returner, has only one more rebirth to go in the human realm, at the very latest before attaining final Nirvana.
When one has succeeded in completely annihilating all traces of sensual desire and aversion, one attains the third stage of mental purity called 'Never Returning' (Anagami). Upon death the mind will manifest in a pure abode, one of the havenly realms and from there will attain the final Nirvana. Thus it is called Never Returning, never to return to this world.
If a persevering wise one succeeds in destroying the remaining five fetters even in that life, he experiences the full liberation of mind. This is called Arahatship. An Arahat abides in the full attainment of Nirvana, a perfect saint. In this last stage the karmic-force which had been circling the rounds of birth and death since beginningless time, is completely depleted. All traces of desire, attachment, aversion and 'I' conceit have been destroyed without remainder. The holy life has been lived, done is what was to be done, there is nothing more in the way of mental purification left to do. Ended is the cycle of becoming, laid down is the burden. The Arahat is one with the Dhamma.
In this process of mental purification the main idea is to eradicate by wisdom the feeling of 'I' or separation. Along with this the rest of the defilements will gradually fall away. When one attains 'Stream entry' the illusive notion of 'I' has been fully penetrated and understood. The person in his mind sees and knows that there is no individual separate 'self' in or about the body or in mind in ultimate truth. Nevertheless, relatively there still remains a subtle remnant of 'I' persisting in his / her consciousness.
With progress along the final stages of the path, this subtle tendency to think 'I am' which is exhibited in times of sudden surprise or fear is gradually eradicated. This process of 'I' purification is given in the following simile by the Awakened One, the Buddha.
"Suppose monks, there is a dirty soil cloth and the owner gives its to a washerman and he rubs it smooth with salt-earth, or Lye or Cow dung, and rinses it in pure clean water. Now, though that cloth be utterly cleaned, yet there remains about it, still lingering the smell of salt-earth, Lye or cow-dung. The washerman returns its to the owner and he lays its up in a sweet-scented box for a time. Thus the smell that hung about and was not removed is now utterly removed.
Even so, though an Aryan Disciple has put away the five lower fetters, yet there remains in him a subtle remnant from among the five grasping groups, a subtle aroma of 'I consciousness' of the lurking tendency to think 'I am', which was still not removed from him - now that is removed in Arahatship." (Sanyutta Nikaya - Ch. 22 & 89).
The Fourth Noble Truth
The Fourth Noble Truth detailed out by Buddha describes the way to live, think and meditate which will enable a person to bring the whole mass of Dukkha to an end. It is accomplished by a gradual and interdependent practice of eight aspects of mainly mental training. It leads to a gradual slowing down, calming and eventually ceasing altogether by one's deluded karmic-energy.
This way is called the NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH. It is so called because it leads the one who practices to experience and abide in the permanent end of suffering, the Noble realm of Nibbana, the state of everlasting peace and happiness, even in this life itself. It is an art of 'Living in Meditation' in all of one's activities of life.
When Venerable Sariputta asked the Buddha, "But is there any path, any approach to the realization or experience of Nibbana?"
The Awakened One replied: "There is such a path Noble Friend, there is such an approach. It is the Ariyan (Noble) Eightfold Path, for the realization of Nibbana, i.e., Right view, Right thought, Right speech, Right action, Right living, Right effort, Right mindfulness and Right Concentration. Such friend is this path, this approach to the attainment of Nibbana, and a proper occasion for earnestness too" - (Sanyuta Nikaya Ch. 38.1)
The Buddha used the term 'Divine vehicle' to explain the importance of the Eight Fold Path to Enlightenment. "Divine vehicle, Ananda is a term that may be applied to this very Ariyan Eightfold Path, unsurpassed for its conquest in the fight against the defilements of mind."
In the very first discourse after Enlightenment, the Buddha who learnt through his experience, advised the seekers of Truth not to go to the two extremes ought not to be cultivated but to follow the Middle Way - The Nobel Eightfold Path.
"There is devotion to indulgence of pleasure in the objects of sensual desire, which is inferior, low, vulgar, ignoble, and leads to no good; and there is devotion to self-mortification, self-torment, which is painful, ignoble, and leads to no good.
The Middle Way discovered by a Perfect One avoids both these extremes. It gives vision, it gives knowledge, and it leads to peace, to direct acquaintance, to discovery, to Nibbana. What is the middle way? It is simply this Noble Eightfold Path." (Sanyutta Nikaya - Ch. 56)
These eight conditions if cultivated and made much use of, conduce to that state in which no further shore and nor hither shore exist. Few are they of mortal men who have reached the further shore. They who follow in the Teaching of the Norm expounded well, they reach the shore and pass the realm of death so hard to cross.
When ignorance leads the way, by the reaching of evil, unprofitable states, shamelessness and recklessness follow in its wake. In one who is swayed and obstructed by ignorance and is void of sense, then the wrong, unwholesome view gets scope. Unwholesome view gives rise to unwholesome thought, unwholesome speech, unwholesome action, unwholesome living, unwholesome efforts, unwholesome mindfulness and unwholesome concentration.
"But when knowledge leads the way, by the attainment of wholesome, profitable states, the sense of shame and selfrestraint follow. In one swayed by knowledge (of the four Noble Truths) and of good sense, then wholesome view has scope. The right view gives scope to right thought, right speech and Right concentration". (Sanyutta Nikaya - Ch. 45)
1) Right View
What is the Right or Wholesome view (Samma-Ditthi)? This consists of the proper understanding of the impermanent nature of all material and mental phenomena which make up the Conditioned World. It is called Right or Wholesome because its view or way of seeing things according to the reality, leads to Peace and happiness and unconfusion in one's life. In short, it is the proper understanding of the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha explains it as follows:
"On two things monks, does this world generally base its view - on existence and non-existence. He who with right insight sees the arising of the world as really is, he does not believe in the non-existence of the world. And he who with right insight sees the ceasing of the world as it really is, he does not believe in the concrete existence of the world.
Grasping after systems, imprisoned by dogmas is this world, for most part. He who does not go after, does not grasp at, does not take his stand on this system - grasping, this dogmatic belief, this mental-bias, such a one does not say; "It is my soul I am this". He who thinks; That which arises is nothing but ill (Conditioned Phenomena); that which ceases is nothing but ill; such a one has no doubts, no perplexity. In this manner knowledge not borrowed from others (direct, intuitive knowledge) comes to him. 'All exists', is one extreme and 'Nothing exists' is the other extreme that one must try to avoid with right view and insight". (Sanyutta Nikaya Ch. 27, 90)
Now monks, this Dhamma taught by the Tathagata is unrefuted, untarnished, unblamed, uncensored by intelligent people. And what is that Dhamma? There are these five elements; the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and the element of consciousness.
There are six fields of sense-object impression; the fields of eye, ear, nose tongue, body and the mind objects.
There are these eighteen mental approaches; the pleasant, the painful, the neutral feeling which arises upon eye-contact, upon ear-contact, upon nose-contact, tongue contact, body contact and mind-contact with their respective objects. These are the eighteen mental approaches to sensory experience.
There are these Four Noble Truths which is the Dhamma taught by the Tathagatha, which unrefuted, untarnished, unblamed and uncensored by intelligent people. Based on the five elements (mentioned above) there is descent into the womb (rebirth). Such descent taking place, there comes to pass the development of name-and-form (a new body and mind). Conditioned by name-and-fbrm, the sixfold sense sphere is complete; this gives rise to contact. From contact arise feeling.
"Now it is for him who feels (pleasure, pain and subsequently gets attached and craves, grasps and becomes for them) that I make known the Four Noble Truths. This is suffering; This is the origin of suffering (craving); This is the cessation of suffering (Nibbana); This is the path leading to the cessation of suffering (the Noble Eightfold Path). These Four Noble Truths are the Dhamma taught by the Tathagata which is unrefuted untarnished, unblamed and uncensored by intelligent People. This is the right view ". (Anguttara Nikaya 3.5, 61)
2) Right Thought
Once the Right view has gotten scope, is acquired, the initial things to be undertaken in the 'skillful living' is to begin to redirect the haphazard patterns of manifesting one's bodily actions, speech and thought. Through the Right view of Life, one understands that cruel, harsh, spiteful speech and thoughts and actions are unwholesome, unskillful and unprofitable because of their karmic consequences. So wholesome thinking is undertaken to be consciously or skillfully developed and made to become automatic.
Wholesome thinking means to quit thinking along the lives of personal selfishness, what one can get or do for himself alone. It means to abandon thoughts of cruelty, anger, ill-will, greed, envy, jealousy, covetousness, and sensuous lustful thoughts. These thoughts, if thought about and subsequently acted upon and carried out in speech and action of body, would result in physical or mental harm either for oneself or others, or both.
Wholesome thought also means to deliberately and consciously cultivate thoughts of the direct opposite quality, to comfort and replace those negative ones. That is to say - one must deliberately cultivate thoughts and genuine feelings of unselfishness, of kindness, compassion towards all living things no matter what their status or place in existence. One should cultivate thoughts of contentment, wanting little, giving up unnecessary desires and bad habits. Instead, one should reflect and think about inner calm, tranquillity and the happiness of non-worldly Nibbana. In general wholesome or Right thought means to cultivate and practice thoughts in accordance with the Right view which was acquired.
3) Right Speech
Right or wholesome speech is practiced by abandoning all types of cruel, hard, abusive language directed towards others; to abandon tale-hearing and gossiping about others, telling what evil things that they have done, out of spitefulness or revenge; to abandon empty, vain prattle talk etc. Wholesome speech means to cultivate and practice speaking about their shortcomings, practicing kind, gentle, courteous and thoughtful well timed speech, pleasing words; to speak what is true in accordance with fact when at the proper time its presented. Right speech also means to speak about things which conduce to contentment, dispassion, mental-calm and Nibbana, to speak in accordance with Right View and Right Thought.
4) Right Action
The next aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path which must be undertaken at the outset is that of Right or Wholesome Action. This means abstaining from the immoral, unwholesome, negative karma producing actions of; killing all living beings. to abstain from stealing or taking others property without their permission, to refrain from telling lies and deceiving speech, to refrain from unlawful sexual relations and to abstain from taking intoxicating drinks and drugs which makes you loose proper control over one's sense and help commit the above unskillful deeds.
These are the five basic moral restraints called 'The Pancha Seela' or the Five Precepts, which the Buddha laid down to be observed by anyone who desires spiritual development and calmness of mind. These precepts are observed based on understanding the law of cause and effect. Each action we perform will have a reaction. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". This means that what you do will rebound to you in some form.
5) Right Livelihood
The next to be incorporated with right action, is the practice of right livelihood. One should not be engaged in any occupation or modes of earning one's livelihood that are connected with any of the five unfruitful actions mentioned above - eg: raising animals for slaughter; manufacture or sale of arms for warfare; manufacture or selling of intoxicating liquor and drugs; involved in establishments where gambling or illicit sex are performed.
These five aspects of training in the Noble Eightfold Path are undertaken and practiced conscientiously in order to cut down and calm the excessive wantonness and unruliness of the mind and body. These help to restrain and to redirect one's energy in a direction of higher living, values and aspirations, beyond those of more selfish pleasure grasping and ego gratification. These initial steps will prepare one for the higher training in mental development. Without this initial preparation of one's attitude and outlook towards- life and its purpose, there can be no successful, genuine advancement in Spiritual Awakening and the end of suffering.
6) Right Effort
When one has got the negative exuberance of mind tamed and cooled down to a certain extent, he can further introduce to the practice the right effort. The Buddha has divided this right effort into four parts. The first is that we become aware of the thoughts going though our mind. Any unwholesome, unprofitable, unskillful states steaming from selfish greed, hatred, lust, pride, conceit, envy, jealousy etc. must be detected as soon as they arise in the mind. We should not give into them but immediately reject them, and uproot them knowing that they are detrimental to our well being and spiritual progress.
The second part is to keep those negative, unprofitable states from arising again in the future: This is best accomplished if one is diligent and successful in the first part - detecting and eliminating them as soon as they arise, not giving them a chance to grow and over spread the heart. In this way, they will eventually stop coming into one's mind altogether.
The Third aspect of Right Effort is to cultivate wholesome profitable, skillful states of mind which normally do not arise in one's mind. This is very much the same as the wholesome thinking. This is best done in conjunction with the getting rid of negative thoughts. When they arise you immediately replace them with wholesome thoughts of the opposite quality.
The fourth aspect is to make these good, positive states of mind grow great and continuous so that the negative states do not have any opportunity to arise. This is the Noble Effort, and in conjunction with this, the seventh step of the Eightfold Path, Right Mind fullness must be cultivated and continuously exercised. For, without awareness of what is going on in your mind and what your body is doing, the Right Effort could never grow to be successful, to achieve what it is meant to, namely putting an and to suffering.
Right Mindfulness in one sense, is being aware and alert to what you are doing and what is going through your mind from moment to moment. But Right Mindfulness is more than just being aware of these things. We must come to know the true nature of the conditioned mind and body and to understand through direct, intimate observation, the working and interaction of these two. We must see the five aggregates of clinging and the sensory cognition process as merely a conditioned, fleeting sequence of phenomena devoid of any permanent indwelling soul or owner, that is controlling or directing anything. We must cultivate an attitude of detachment based on the wisdom derived from seeing their true nature, and transcend the attachment, bondage, confusion, frustration and pain that ignorance and infatuation to them brings.
The Right Mindfulness is outlined and detailed out by The Buddha in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as described in the Sati Patthana Sutta. It has been described by the Awakened One of being the direct and sure way to mental purification and the acquiring of wisdom. These Four Foundation of mindfulness cover the most important aspects in the practice of mental purification in Buddhism. 'Monks, suppose there is a border town with strong fortifications, strong walls and towers, and having but a single gate. Over that gate is posted a wise, shrewd and watchful warden who keeps out strangers and welcome friends. As he patrols all around that town in due order, he might not notice a crevice in the wall or a hole just big enough for a cat to skip through, but he would think whatever men or creatures of any size who enter or go out of this town, all of them must do so through this single gate.
By whomsoever, the four foundations of mindfulness are neglected, by them also is neglected the Noble Eightfold Path for the Right complete destruction of ill. By whomsoever the four foundations of mindfulness are undertaken and developed, by them also is undertaken and developed the Noble Eightfold Path for utter destruction of ill. Would one guard oneself, then the foundations ofmindfulness should be cultivated and developed.
"Would one guard others, then the four foundations of mindfulness should be cultivated and developed. Who guards himself guards others: who guards others guards himself." (Sanyutta Nikaya, Ch.47)
The Four Foundation of Mindfulness as described by The Buddha in the Satipattana Sutta, are:
a) A noble disciple lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome covetousness and grief concerning the world;
b) He lives contemplating feeling in the feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful.....;
c) He lives contemplating mental states in mental states, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful....;
d) He lives contemplating mental-objects in mental objects, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having over come covetousness and grief concerning the world.
The last aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path is called 'Samma Samadhi' - Right Concentration. This is the gradual practice of calming and stilling the mind from its habitual tendency of wandering here and there wherever it pleases. The mind normally jumps from sense stimulus to sense stimulus, never satisfied with one thing more than just briefly, continuously being attracted to one thing after another.
Right Concentration is to bring the fluctuations of consciousness to a state of calm and tranquillity or one-pointed unification composed. In this state the mind is free from any outside disturbing influences so that nothing can disrupt or infect its calm and blissful nature. Awareness becomes like a clean, spotless mirror which simply and passively reflects the presence of anything that comes into its range. It does not comment on what is there, or like it or dislike it or try to analyze it. In this state insight can be quickly developed because the waves of clouding thought are stilled enough for one to clearly experience and see what is happening in the subtle levels, in the normally unconscious process of sensory perception. One can perceive the activities and true nature of the sixfold sense-sphere and the five aggregates quite clearly. Right Concentration (Samma Samadhi) is not an end practice in itself, but is practiced in order to facilitate the arising of insight and to sharpen the awareness.
The Noble Eightfold Path can also be divided into three general areas of development - i.e.
Sila - Virtue or moral conduct which consists of right speech, right action and right livelihood.
Samadhi - Concentration which consists of right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration
Panna - Wisdom or understanding which consists of right view and right thought
The following question was put to Buddha:
"The inner tangle and the outer tangle,
The generation is entangled in a tangle of (Karma)
And so I ask of Master Gotama this question
Who succeeds in disentangling this tangle?"
Buddha replied thus:
"When a wise man, well established in virtue,
Develops concentration and wisdom,
Then as a monk ardent and sagacious
He succeeds in disentangling this tangle"
Thus, we can bring the entire practice together as Morality, Concentration and Wisdom. To be virtuous to be calmed, to be controlled, is Morality. A mind well established within that control is Concentration. Full and perfect knowledge within the activity in which we are engaged is Wisdom. The Path to Peace in brief therefore is Morality, Concentration and Wisdom.
The word Karma (Kamm in Pali) means action or volition. Karma is generally used as a designation of the Law of Cause and Effect operating through actions. It is the conscious, intended actions a person performs by his physical body, verbal speech and his thoughts. The impression or memory of these actions or Karma, are recorded so to speak in the subconscious mind. We used these accumulated tendencies as an extended base for our present and future decisions and actions of body speech and thought. These are the Karma resultants of the residual impressions of all our past Karmic activity. Because of this we are conditioned to experience the sense objects of this world and to feel, desire, crave, grasp and become in a similar manner as in the past. Thus we get enmeshed and rooted in strong habit patterns of bodily actions, verbal speech and thinking, from which it is difficult, but not impossible, to get free.
Thus, we see that Karma, the Law of Cause and Effect, is a strict accountant. It sees to it that each person will not escape the results of his deeds. The reason for this being that, the accumulated residue of these deeds and thoughts, in turn become the very storehouse or basis for our future experiences. Each person weaves his own web of fate, whether good or bad, pleasant or painful. Each person is the architect of his own future.
The Law of Karma creates the appropriate fitting, future circumstances to accommodate a being's mental vibrations at the time of death. If the mind is one with hate, lust, greed, etc. then accordingly it is attracted to and manifests the conditions which will satisfy itself in these pursuits. If the mind is one with love, compassion, kindness, detachment, happiness, etc. then in the same way, it will be attracted to and manifest itself in the appropriate conditions.
The Buddha has summed it up in the following verses :
"All beings are owners of their deeds
They are heirs of their deeds;
Their deeds are the womb from which they spring
With their deeds they are bound up;
Their deeds are their refuge;
Whatever deeds they do, good or bad;
Of such they will be the heir".
It is Karma which makes the world go round
Karma keeps moving on the lives of men
All beings to Karma are bound
As a linch-pin to the chariot wheel"
"Mind is the forerunner of all conditions
Mind is chief, all things are mind-made;
If one acts or speaks with an evil mind;
Then ill effects will follow, just as the wheel
Of the cart follows the way of the ox that pulls it!
And if one acts or speaks with a pure, wholesome mind,
Then happiness and ease follow that person
Just as his shadow which never leaves him"
"Neither in the sky, nor in mid-ocean nor in a mountain cave,
Is found that place on earth, where living,
One can escape from the consequences of an evil deed."
The following is part of a discourse by the Buddha to his close disciple Ananda:
"Where there have been deeds, Ananda, personal weal and woe arise in consequence of the will (intention) there was in the deed. Where there has been speech, where there has been thought, personal weal and woe arise in consequence of the will there was in the speech, in the thought. Either we ourselves, Ananda, plan those deeds conditioned under (the influence of) ignorance and craving, from which arise personal weal and woe, or others plan those deeds that we do (under their urging or suggestion) because of ignorance and craving, from which arise personal weal and woe.
Either we do them deliberately or we do them unwittingly (not knowing the consequences), or we plan and do it, or others plan it and we do it, from which arises personal weal or woe.
In all these cases ignorance is followed after (because of ignorance these deeds are done). But, from the utter fading away and extinction of ignorance and craving (by wisdom), those deeds, speech, thoughts, Ananda are not performed from which would bring one personal weal and woe."
(The Karmic energy is thus decreased and ceases so that the results one would have had to experience there from are also weakened and cut off.)
All of our past actions of body, speech and thought, all of the feelings, perceptions, mental formations etc. that we have ever experienced, have left this impression in our subconscious life-continum. The normal person however, is usually too occupied with busying himself and paying too much attention to the present world about him, or he is creating fantasies about the future. In this way, the access to his subconscious memory, wherein lies all these impressions form the past, including past lifetimes, is extremely limited and confined. This is why most people can not remember much of their past, five or ten years before, except for main experiences, let alone the impressions from previous lives. Nonetheless, they are still impressed in the subconscious.
Even today in several countries like India. Tibet and Sri Lanka there are quite a few people who remember one or more lives which they had. Some of these have been described in very precise detail and have been closely examined and verified to be extra - ordinarily accurate (Case for Rebirth, by Francis Story, wheel publication. B.P.S. Kandy. Sri Lanka)
If at the time of death, a person is still involved in the Karma producing process of craving, grasping and becoming, then this built up grasping-force (the Sankhara) will manifest for its use in another existence, another body with sense organs. At the moment of death the mind normally is attracted to a plane of existence which accords or matches the personality or the accumulated habit tendencies. This consciousness which arises at the last moment before death takes an object normally produced in the mind or which is induced from outside, as its sign of destiny (gati Nimitta) or drawing card. This sign of destiny is usually in accordance with the strongest habitual tendencies which were exercised during the lifetime now finishing. It usually conditions the realm of rebirth where the mind will remanifest accordingly.
Sometimes however, this sign is the result of some heavy negative / positive action which was committed one, two three or even more lifetimes previous to this one. But only now it is coming to the surface to determine the future plane of existence.
This consciousness termed 're-linking consciousness'. which manifests in another existence, carries with it so to speak, all the sankharas or habitual tendencies of the mind that were accumulated in the past due to ignorance and grasping, and which are now exhausted.
On the night of Buddha's Enlightenment, when He was in deep meditation. His awareness was free of all outside disturbances and mental wandering. Perfectly stilled and quiet. He then had access to His entire store-house of karmic impressions from the past. Thus He was able to recall perfectly, in exact detail all of His previous actions of body, speech and thought, all of His experiences right back to the moment He was born. Then He even could recall the last thought in His previous life (the re-linking consciousness) and He continued right on in reverse order remembering each and every thought, feeling, perception and action He had ever performed.
He could recall backwards in this fashion through hundreds and thousands of his past existence as his mental energy of karmic-force at that time being under the delusion of 'self', traversed the infinite rounds of birth and death. The following is an account and vivid description given by Buddha Himself as to how He realized directly all of this on the night of His Awakening.
"Thus, with the mind composed, quiet purified, quiet clarified, without blemish, without defilement, grown soft and workable, fixed immovable, I directed my mind to the knowledge and recollection of former habitations. I remembered a variety of former habitations thus; One birth, two births, three.... a hundred thousands births and many an Aeon of the world's integration and disintegration. Such a one was I by name having such and such a family, having such and such a colour, so was I nourished, such and such pleasant and painful experiences were mine, so did the span of life end. Passing from this, I came to be in another state where such a one was I by name having such and such pleasant and painful experiences, so did the span of life end. Passing from this I arose here. Thus did I remember many diverse habitations in all their modes and detail. This monks, was the first knowledge realized by me in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was dispelled, knowledge arose, darkness was dispelled, light arose, even as I abided diligent, ardent, self-resolute and calm.
Then with the mind composed......, I directed my mind to the knowledge of the passing hence and the arising of beings. With the purified Deva-vision surpassing that of normal men, I saw beings as they pass from this plane (die) and course to be reborn; 1 comprehended that beings are mean, excellent, comely, ugly, well-doing, beautiful, according to the consequences of their deeds and I thought; Indeed these worthy beings who were possessed of wrong conduct in body, speech and thought, scoffers at religious men, holding wrong views-these, at the breaking up of the body the body after dying, have arisen in a sorrowful state, a bad bourn, the abyss niraya-hell. But these worthy beings who were possessed of good conduct in body, speech and thought, who sought instruction and advise from wise men, practicing what is good, having right views, incurring deeds consequent on those right views - these beings, at the breaking up of the body after dying, they have arisen in a good bourn, a heavenly World. Thus did I see with purified Deva-vision surpassing that of men, the arising and passing away of beings according to their Karma. This was the second knowledge realized by me in the middle watch of the night. Ignorance was dispelled " (Majjhima Nikaya - 4)
The Buddha has accredited the cause or condition for all of this running and faring on from existence to existence, from this world to the next world to be sensuous craving, hatred and delusion. This He illustrated as follows :
"People take to the evil way in deeds, words and thoughts; and thus at the dissolution of the body after death, they fall into a downward state of existence, a state of suffering, into perdition, and the abyss of hell. But this is the misery of sensuous craving, the heaping up of suffering in the future, due to sensuous craving." (Majjhima Nikaya - 13)
"Monks, there are three root conditions involved in the doing of actions, namely; greed, hate and delusion. The action that is done out of greed, out of hate, out of delusion that has arisen through greed, hate and delusion, produced by greed, hate and delusion - this action will ripen wherever the being is reborn; and whenever the action ripens, there the being reaps the fruit of the action, be it in this life or in the next life, or in future lives.
It is just as with unhurt and unspoiled seeds, damaged by wind and sun, healthy and well preserved, which after being sown in rich soil and a well prepared ground, will owning to plentiful rain shoot up, attain growth and full development." (Anguttara Nikaya - 111.33)
We can however, begin now to check and control the present input of fresh unwholesome karma which would give rise later to pain or discomfort. We can also lesson the affect of past unwholesome Karma.
"Because of the way sentient beings are distributed throughout the Samsaric realms, the Buddha has declared its rare and difficult to obtain a rebirth into the world of human beings." (Sanyutta Nikaya. Ch - 20.2)
The human realm of existence is the only place of all the various sansaric realms in which a being can successfully be in the practice of Dharma, in order to free himself from the incessant rounds of birth and death. This is because in the lower realms - hell, the world of ghosts and disembodied spirits, and the animal world, the suffering is too great and the ignorance of those beings is too thick to be able to practice things such as morality and meditation which are necessary for Dharma practice. In the heavenly worlds there is too much sensual pleasure and preoccupation, those beings see no need to practice meditation because they see no suffering, not realizing it is temporary.
In the human world there is a balance of both pleasure and pain, and humans have the ability to reason out and experience what is unwholesome and what is wholesome from the cause and effect point of view through their intelligence. We also have the opportunity to came into contact with the Dharma teachings and to visit wise and spiritually evolved persons who can guide and inspire us.
"When we realize the Dhamma, wherever we sit we know Dhamma, wherever we are we hear Buddha's teaching. When we understand Dhamma, the Buddha is within our mind, the Dhamma is within our mind, and the practice leading to wisdom is within our own mind. Having the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha within our mind means that whether our actions are good or bad, we know clearly for ourselves their true nature. It was thus that the Buddha discarded worldly opinions, he discarded praise and criticism. When people praised or criticized Him He just accepted it for what it was. These two things are simply worldly conditions so He was not shaken by them. Why not? Because He knew suffering. He knew that if He believed in that praise or criticism they would cause him to suffer." (A taste of freedom, P.38, Yen. Ajahn Chah). Likewise, we should make the best use of this life by earnestly making the effort to study and put into practice the various essentials of Dharma-morality, mental purification and spiritual development. This will steadily accumulate and secure us from the possibility of rebirth into the lower realms of misery and will lead us eventually to Enlightenment and liberation from Sansara.
"Thus is Nibbana realizable even during life-time, Immediate, inviting one to come and see for himself,And comprehensible to the wise, In so far as one has realized the complete extinction of greed, hate and delusion. It is this for that Nibbana is realizable, Immediate and experienceable by the wise." (Anuguttara Nikaya 3, 55)
Sanathana Dharma and Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
The Buddha, through his teachings revealed the exact path to absolute liberation. His teachings had brought peace, harmony and happiness to innumerable beings, both human and otherwise throughout the centuries. What is repeated in the foregoing chapters, as taken from his wonderful Dhamma, if practiced diligently will definitely lead to Nirvana (ultimate liberation) in which the mind is purified of all clinging, craving, aversion, ego-conceit and ignorance here and now breaking the unending chain of life, suffering and death.
The obvious question that arises is, why one goes to see Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, when there are such skillfully drafted guidelines for spiritual upliftment? Particularly so, when Buddha's teachings stand good against the test of time even today as in the 5th century B.C.
My first meeting with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in 1978 was an accident. That particular visit to India was an outcome of the earnest devotion to the Relics of Buddha from Kapilavasthupura (Buddha's Birthplace in India) which was kept in Sri Lanka for the Buddhists to pay Homage over a period of one month. In my quest to worship the Relics of Buddha I found a living Buddha - for which I am eternally grateful to Sathya Sai Baba, as now I do understand that nothing is an accident / coincidence with Him.
For the last nineteen years, I have silently witnessed the unfolding of His Divine Drama. Now, my watchful mind recognizes each day of my life as a part of His subtle Divine Play designed according to my own karmic force. The incidents to confirm this are too numerous to illustrate. Yet, I thought of giving one such experience which is of direct relevance to this booklet on Bhagavan & Buddha. It had been my cherished dream to celebrate Vaishaka Buddha Poornima at the Lotus Feet of our Beloved Swami who is personally to me and to many other Buddhist Devotees, is The living Buddha. Bhagavan made this dream of mine come true by granting permission in 1994 to celebrate the 1995 Vaishaka Buddha Poomima. I hurriedly wrote, the 1st edition of this book to mark the occasion which also coincided with Bhagavan's 70th Anniversary of present Avator-hood. Swami graciously Blessed and distributed the little booklet through the Brindavan Office to all devotees present for 1995 Vesak. With Bhagawan's permission, this edition I wanted to be given to Sathya Sai Publication Trust for His 70th Birthday. But when it was to be printed only that particular file in the computer could not be retrieved. The diskette was sent to many computer experts in town but no one could work on the file and finally I arrived in Puttapathy tor the Birthday celebration minus the books.
The 1996 Vesak was better organised. We had a Bo Tree as a backdrop to Swami's Chair to remnisance the attainment of Buddha hood under the Bo Tree. The Vaishaka Buddha Poomima was celebrated on the 15th of May and on the 16th Morning when Swami called us for a group interview, I had the cover photograph of this book ready with the Manuscript for His Blessings.
For those who have not experienced Him this could be a mere co-incidence. But of course the millions of devotees who have directly experienced the Divine May a of this Avatar of Love will not doubt the computer file getting locked up till the most appropriate. Photograph comes as Sai Baba makes every devotee understand in very simple terms the subtle link between the Particular and the General (the Individual and the Divine).
The few illustrations I could provide to confirm His Divinity definitely do not give me credence to identify who Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is. The depth of His personality is beyond my limited human capacity to explain. Unless and until one personally experiences Him it is difficult to even guage Him. Only through His Teachings and the life He leads as an example of His Message one could even partially understand Him. Thus, given below are some excerpts from 'who is Sathya Sai Baba' as appeared in Summer Showers in Brindavan 1974.
"Born on 23rd November 1926 in the village of Puttaparthy, Andhra Pradesh, into a pious Hindu family, and showing no symptoms which indicate any particular religion or sect, with no specific mark on his face indicative of any particular caste, he appears quickly in a moment and vanishes equally quickly, then suddenly comes into your presence, wearing a robe that comes right down to his feet and sometimes covers his feet and sometimes does not cover his feet......"
It is easy to say that Bhagavan Baba was born on 23 Nov. 1926 at Puttaparthy, that His parents were Venkappa Raju and Easwaramma, that at the time of His birth auspicious events occured, that He did His schooling in Bukkapattanam, that He displayed extreme kindness to all beings, that He reacted to the social evils and worked for their eradication etc. That He, at the age of 14, threw away His school books, left His home and announced that He is Sathya Sai Baba & that He belongs to the world etc. But all this tells us nothing. It is like being asked to describe the taste of the drink & our elaborately describing the cup that contains it. It does not in reality tell us who Sathya Sai Baba is nor what He does. It does not tell us of His omnipresence when He responds to the desperate calls of the devotees from thousands of miles away, of His Omniscience when He reads you like an open book, knowing your past, present & future, His Omnipotence when He shows His powers over nature, the miraculous acts which He performs daily for the good of His Devotees, the innumerable cures He effects, including, in deserving very special cases, of raising from the dead. (Sri Sathya Sai Spirituality in Practice, Bombay - Page 9)
"Those who have for their aim only the external form cannot draw true conclusions. In the same manner, with regard to Sathya Sai Baba, some people draw conclusions based only on the external appearances and they try thus to understand the nature of Sai. They are not making any attempt to recognize the basic truth, the unchanging permanent qualities of truth that is Sathya Sai...." (Summer Showers 1974)
He has declared, and proved in countless cases, that He fully knows the past present, and future of every person, living and dead, in the world. In an interview or personal contact. He discloses the innermost thoughts of a person instantly. "It is not", He says, "that first I enter your mind, probe it, then come out and tell you what you are thinking or feeling. Actually I am always residing in your mind and so I am fully aware of all that goes on therein at all times. There is nothing hidden from Me."
Innumerable number of visitors to Him have experienced this unique supernatural phenomenon, have been wonder struck, and have finally received an answer to their problems as well as His spiritual guidance on how to improve their character and morality. "People", he says, "come to me with prayers for all sorts of boons. What I wish to give them is the boon of Liberation. If I confine Myself wholly to giving it, no one will turn up here! Therefore, I have to start at their level, booning them initially their desires so as ultimately to equip them to desire what I desire to give them.'' (Face to Face with God, V. K.Sarin: P.95)
The Dhamma he preaches is universal and present in many major religions of the world. We human beings, attempt to confine these universally transcendental truths into a particular religion, usually that which we are accustomed to. For example, the Christians say the only way to liberation is through Christianity, the Buddhists say only through the practice of Buddhism can one attain enlightenment, the devotees of Allah proclaim that he is the greatest, the devotees of Shiva proclaims that aspect of Shiva is the greatest, so on and so forth. It is also man's ego that makes him believe that whatever is his (may it be race, caste, creed, color or religion), that it is the greatest. On the contrary, all religions have attempted to diversify these petty segregations and train man to behave in a manner which transcends all human created barriers, towards unity of all mankind.
Documented research had established that rigid institutionalization of religion has, on many occasions, brought about a situation where serious misinterpretations to the original text have occurred. The main identifiable reason for this is, man's hidden psychological insecurities stemming from one's own cherished ego, self-worth and belongings, which use religion as a fitting cover. None of the great spiritual leaders claim to monopolize the ownership to the principles of Eternal Truth - The transcendental spiritual dimension, commonly shared by most of the major religions.
The gift of reason and choice, the Power to exercise free will, is peculiar to man and is sufficient to demonstrate to us that we must acquire our own spiritual growth by individual effort. "Spiritual truth is one; interpreted by Christians it is called Christianity; by Hindus, Hinduism; and so forth. Narrow mindness confines religion to Church or Temple worship and sectarian belief, mistaking the form for the spirit. Truth has suffered constriction in all interpretations, narrow and Liberal. We must reach the goal of Self realization of Truth wherein man made interpretations no longer limit us." (Sri Paramahansa Yogananda)
Buddha for example, by using his unbiased analytical approach, declared the possibility of other Enlightened Beings guiding the spiritual lives of men. Giving the illustration of a competent cowherd, who successfully drove his cattle across river Ganges during the rainy season, He said; "Even so, Buddhas (Those with a pure intellect and absolute wisdom) who arise in the world from time to time, are like the cowherd. They show the safe, sure way to cross the flood of craving, grasping and becoming, to cross the great ocean of birth and death, to arrive at the further shore and stand on firm ground (Nibbana)". (Majjima Nikaya 34)
Sathya Sai Baba says "When righteousness and all that is dependent on Dhamma is on the decline ... God will appear in human form either in the garb of a Paramahamsa or as an Avatar for the purpose of re-establishing righteousness and restoring the original traditions". (Summer Showers in Brindavan 1973, P. 19 ). This statement makes it clear that He is not promoting Himsefl (as some claim) or something novel but trying to redirect a misdirected humanity back to the fold of Dharma, a task He has taken upon Himself to the exclusion of everything else. In the same book He has said "spiritual hunger is the ultimate meaning of every activity in life. The dissatisfaction and the restlessness that remains even after obtaining all the necessities of life shows that everyone consciously or unconsciously, does suffer from spiritual hunger and it is not appeased until the spirit within is realized. Without this divine discontent, there is no real progress. World peace is possible when all the people of the world wake up to the facts governing universal life and when there is a heart to heart feeling of goodness, love and oneness among the inhabitants of the world."
"Idols serve the same purpose as metaphors and similes in poetry. They illustrate, and illumine the Divine". Sai Baba has also said that idols are the artistic and attractive containers of the Divine Effulgence, which people desire to use for quaffing the nectar of its Glory, "you cannot quaff It without a container, a cup. One person loves to drink the Delight in a "thrice-bent blue cowherd Boy of Brindavan" cup! Another in a cup depicting on ecstatic 'Cosmic Dancer of Kailasa'! The choice depends on hereditary predilection, personal choice or a wave of spiritual awareness. Whatever the reason, however the vessel is shaped, it serves the same high purpose, drinking in the joy, the power, the love, the wisdom, the splendor of the one Divine Entity. (Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram, P. 117)
By trying to pay attention to the external form, rituals and selfish clinging, people have been quarreling with one another about the status of different religions. By these misinterpreted, misunderstood, unwholesome deeds, the very purpose of religion, the peace and harmony which are fundamental to almost all the religions, has been severely undermined.
The message of Bhagavan Baba is that the truly religious will neither deny the validity of any particular religion or group of religions, nor declare that salvation can be secured through one path only. So He encourages those who have faith in any religion or those who are born in to any faith to march forward from where they are, since all reach the same peak, from whichever direction they may climb. He has further declared "There is only one caste, The caste of Humanity, there is only one religion, the religion of Love; there is only one Language, the Language of Heart; there is only one God and He is Omnipresent". (Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram - pages 62 & 21)
"Only we are divided on the grounds of caste, religion or race. What is the caste, religion or race of earth, water, fire or wind. Unfortunately, only humanity is foolishly divided on grounds of caste, religion or race when all belong to the same Divine family. All are sparks of the Divine." (Sathya Sai Baba's Discourse on 30.8.1996 ).
He does not promote external exhibition of spiritualism but identifies those with internal purity as His true devotees. According to Baba, Bakthi does not consist in wearing ochre robes, the organization of religious festivals, the performance of yagnas, the shaving or matting hair, or carry ing of sticks. "You believe that those who have no faith in the Vedas & the Shastras and those who do not accept that there is some Omnipresent, Omniscent beings are Nasthikas. But, let me tell you, those who revere their parents and foster them and those who Love and protect with care their brothers and sisters are Theists, Asthikas believe in Gratitude, Love, Affection, Duty and Dharma and these qualities are enough to save them from perdition." (Sathya Sai Baba s Thought For The Day - 1008 Gems 7992 - K 280)
"All literature, all effort, all Yagya, all teaching is just to hold a mirror before you so that you may see Yourself. Know that which, if known makes known everything that has to be known. This was the advice given to Uddalaka by his Guru, as mentioned in Upanishads. You are the core, the center of your world. Without you, there is no world for you. Unless you know yourself, you cannot know the world which is your creation. Now, you ask every one you meet, How do you do? You ask every third person, Who is he? But have you asked the first person. Who am I? And searched for the answer? That is what Vedanta teaches, and all the pundits are eager to tell you". In a talk at Prasanthi Nilayam, He elaborated this high concept through a simple joke. He said, one day while Aristotle was walking down the street engrossed in deep thought he walked right into a retired Army Officer. In his fury, the Officer turned around and arrogantly asked Aristotle who are you? With folded hands came the humble reply of Aristotle, sir, that is what I am trying to figure out. The Officer walked away himself thinking who am I? After a long walk he came across a hunter who offered him a rabbit for five rupees. Instantly, he understood the illusion of this body and nature of life. He realized that the dead body of a rabbit is at least of some worth but when we die it will be of no use to anybody and even our dearest and nearest will not want to keep it.
Thus Baba says, "at least, recognise that there is mystery, search for the secret and unravel it for yourself... "Now, this can be done by Karma, Upasana or Jnana; the Vedas are the basic teaching for all humanity on these three 'Janakanda'. Of course, Bakthi or Upasana (through the Karma which it sublimates and sanctifies) will lead you onto the highest Jnana. It is enough that you take a ticket and sit in a carriage in the train; it will take you through many junctions to the distant destination. The Karma of purchasing a ticket and getting into the carriage and the Bakthi or the intense desire to reach the terminus (without any urge at intermediate stations) will take you through a series of junctions and stations, right to the very place where you want to go"..."Wisdom alone can grant full freedom. Just as the end of culture is progress, the end of education is character, the end of knowledge is love, so; the end of wisdom is freedom." — Baba. (Goal of Human Life, A.K.Sarin, pp. 12,15,18).
This is what Buddha discovered after years of searching and thus He (Buddha - The one who has attained Wisdom) as well as His Religion (Buddhism) are named after Wisdom.
All Sai Baba's teachings are also to take us towards this goal. He says, "some people do good, have good thoughts and good speech - but they do not pause to inquire the purpose, the goal. Man has to pay attention to 26 categories - the five senses of action (Karma-kidriyas); the five senses of knowledge (the Jnana-indriyas); the five vital airs (Prana); the five attributes of the elemental principles: smell of (Prithvi or Earth), taste (of water), light (of fire), touch (of air), sound (of sky); and the remaining four: manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), chitha (differentiating consciousness), ahamkar (the ego). The Jivi, the wave, is the 25th; it has the 26th - Param-atma on one side and 24 on the other. It has to illumine all the 24. and draw them all to the Reality, namely, the 26th category, the Param-atma. When they are illumined, they disappear, they cannot survive Light; they are but creatures that are the progeny of Maya, Ignorance, Darkness.
When the 24 principles are analyzed and know nothing is gained. For, they belong to the realm of the relatively real, not the absolutely real. They are Jagath, the moving, changing, the transitory, the untrue! The Vedas, Sastras and Puranas have not mentioned anything about the origins and dissolution of these, with any degree of certainty, because they are concerned more with the rescue operations of the 'I' that is entangled in them and with proof that they are of no importance. Know the self; you know the world which is but a projection of the mind; that is the lesson conveyed." ( -do- p.80).
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has adopted a unique method of exhibiting the oneness of all religions, oneness of Sanathana Dhamma and the oneness of humanity, by using as His Symbol The Sarva Dhamma Sign, which include the symbols of the world's five major religions. (Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrism, Islam and Christianity). He goes a step beyond and refrain from identifying himself with any particular religion. His emphasis instead is more on the spirituality, which unites everything and everybody, transcending all human created differences.
Apart from including the major five religions of the world in His Symbol, it has another unique feature of highlighting His entire teachings through five basic principles, i.e. Sathya, Dharma, Ahimsa, Shanthi, Prema, the essence of which, as one may note from the following chapter, is not different to what Buddha preached.
Sathya - Truth
The 'fate' is self created. That binding chain was forged by us, link by link. You are not destined to be anything except what you have made of yourself. You alone preordained yourself to be good or bad when you repeated in the past certain beneficial or harmful actions and remain to be so as long as you continue those good / bad habits, e.g. The drunkard was not a drunkard the first time he tasted alcohol. When you repeat actions without judgment, you find they begin to influence your thought and will and make your body obey their dictates. (Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's 1995 Deepawali Speech)
Apart from past habits, it often happens that understanding which is one of the most precious human possessions has been prejudiced from childhood, according to environment and circumstances. The world will continue with its usual ups and downs. Where shall we look for a sense of direction? Not to the prejudices roused with in us by our habits and environmental influences of our families, our country or the world; but to the guiding voice of Truth within.
"Budddhi is the only instrument for realisation. Gnana (knowledge) alone can grant the vision of the Ultimate Truth. That is why the Gayatri, a vedic prayer to the light that fills the Universe, to illuminate the intelligence is a prayer for prompting the spirit of inquiry and illuminating the path by the inner Light of the Spirit". (SSS Baba's -Thought For The Day - 1008 Gems, K274)
In His 1995 Deepavali Massage, Bhagavan Baba said, "This fleeting world is bound to vanish someday. We should sooner or later know which does not disappear. That which is seen to the physical naked eye is bound to disappear. This external physical vision even animals and insects have. Then, what is the speciality of human beings? Having born a human being which is so rare and being satisfied with the physical world alone is not worth. One should have the eye of wisdom. Eyes see everything but themselves. From the eye that can not see the mind, how do you expect to see God ? Physical eye will help us to cognise only the external physical world made out of five elements, which is temporary. Self that does not cognize its own self, how does it expect to see God? To know oneself means to have the knowledge of the self...
People today worship God with devotion and sincerity. Yet, if we try to understand our prayers, they are full of ignorance. Those who ask God to relieve them from their suffering do not understand God. Who is God? How do you define God? He is 'Sat, Chit, Ananda'. (Existence, Awareness, Bliss). God who is Existence, Awareness, Bliss, you must pray to Him for these traits in which everything is included. Physical desires which are demonic in nature are not Godly. So, most are praying to demon and not God. Only giving up desires will help you understand Divinity. Man must see God, understand God, realize God. This is true religion. The True Religion is the realization of Eternal Truth. The moment you give up hatred, attachment, possessiveness and ego, you will be able to experience Existence, Awamess and Bliss, the only true wealth...
What is liberation? Liberation is to be free from everything. What? Family, property, position? No. It is quiet easy to drop these. Then what? It is only the body identification that has to be given up. One has to understand the body only as an instrument to realize Divinity. You claim everything to be yours and misuse. But, know the condition. I.e. you have to bear the consequences of whatever you do. If you misuse the body, then you have to be prepared to face misery. If you make proper use, Bliss will be the ultimate result. As is the feeling, so is the result.. (Buddha also said that He declares the feeling to be Karma; Chetanan Bhikkawe Kamman Vadame). You think it is God who does these? No. Everything is of your own making. Make an inquiry and find out what you have achieved. Scientists have gone to the moon but does not know his own mind. If one does not know himself and his own nature, what is the use of everything else? What is this darkness? It is the darkness of ignorance. The mind binds and mind liberates. So, train the mind and win... Hatred and attachment, possessiveness and ego cover the Divinity. There is a poisonous snake and that is Ahankara-The ego. The day you kill the snake, you will have the ultimate Peace...
We desire something, experience another and pray for something yet another. How do you expect to experience Bliss in this manner? There must be harmony between the thought, word and deed. The God; Existence, Awamess and Bliss is within you. The duty of every human being is to set an ideal and realize this Divinity within him."
"All who come embodied are Avatar; that is to say, advents of the Divine manifestations of God. What then, is the special feature of Rama, Krishna, Buddha & Christ? Why do you celebrate their Birthdays with much reverential enthusiasm? The speciality is this; They are aware; you are unaware of the Atma which is the Truth. Awamess confers liberation from bonds, from time, space and causation and from sleep, dream and wakefulness. Avatars are ever alert, aware and alight" (Bhagavan Baba's Thought For The Day - 1008 Gems, K 287)
He often says "I am God and you are God. The difference is that I know that I am God but you don't". In his Mahashiva Rathri (1995) Discourse He said, "the smallest is the biggest and the biggest is the smallest, as atom is the Atma. The entire world is made of the five elements and it is present in the atom. (these are the five basic elements and factors of existence even Buddha explained under the five aggregates associated with the First Noble Truth ).That's why the ancient people believed the world as a manifestation of God. They did not understand the mystery of life. But they worshipped earth, rivers, fire which are made of the five elements. They worshipped all these five elements as manifestation of God. In the universe there is nothing without form, and that form is God. They did not understand the significance of idle worship. People did not understand that God is resident everywhere. Scientist much later found out that the atom is present everywhere... For contemplation the form is necessary. Thus idle worship. After understanding the divine, it is not necessary...."
"Every form should be revered. Without body there is no form and therefore the body is fundamental. Through these forms God can be realized. To everything man gets attracted through senses, but then he should exercise his managing power, which is the most powerful in the world - the mind. You can really get the atomic power if you understand yourself. It is Eternal Joy, Bliss, Ultimate Happiness... Endurance with Joyful resignation to the ups and downs of life is the Royal Road to Peace." (1995 Deepavali Speech)
Bhagavan Baba has stated that he has three Forms of Existence; the gross, the subtle & the causal. In the gross aspect he says we see him as Baba moving around Prasanthinilayam and showering grace personally on all the devotees and giving them material benefits in all the places where he grants His Physical presence. In the subtle aspect (i.e. the Sukshama Sarira aspect) He says that He is the Inner Motivator of all beings on Earth. And he says in the causal aspect. He is the all pervading omnipotent cause and course of the universe.
"During this Sai Avatar what I Will must take place. What I plan must succeed. I am Truth. Do not attempt to know me through the External Eye.... Do not spend your time trying to understand Me, do not waste your time in that attempt. It is only when you succeed in knowing yourselves that you can know Me". (Extracts of Teachings from the Diving Discourses of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Published by K. Krishna Rao - PP 11 and 12)
In a letter to the Brindavan students Baba says; "Where there is a will there is away is absolutely true. At first the will is your own. It has to be strengthened by the assent of God, and until you convert it into the almighty, will of God, you seem to be playing a particular game which you do not really desire to give up. You are not weak & helpless. Every strength & power is within you. God - Vision is yours that very instant when you will it with concentration. But you don't will it simply because you don't choose to........ If God Wills means,
if you assert your own all powerful will. The solution therefore, is to awaken the inherent power and splendour of your soul. Do it boys! you are verily the Immortal Truth, the great deathless and changeless Reality. May Victory be yours." (Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram P. 149)
"Sathya is God Himself, as the Sruti says, 'Satye saryam pratishitham - all this established on the firm foundation of Truth'. So, see that no trace of falsehood contaminates your transactions. Truth is My nature. My mission. My message." (Goal of Human Life, p.24.)
Dhamma - Righteousness
"Now, what is Dharma? Dharma is acting according to the Truth you have known. You have heard pundits expounding most elaborately the axiom; 'Brahma Sathyam, Jagad Mithya' - Brahman alone is Real, the world that is the result of a creative act, that is undergoing transformations and that will meet with disintegration is just an Appearance on the basis of that Reality. (Goal of Human Life, p. 28).
'The Avathar has taken body to revive Dharma. He is here now engaged in that. So what is all this talk of immortality and merging? Your whole life is before you. If God himself is here to foster Dharma, if you engage yourself in the same task, then you are worshipping him. Then you are near & dear to Him for you are serving Him, His devotees and yourself." (Conversations with Baba P. 55)
"It is an illusion to imagine that you can see God in temple or shrine or in some kind of meditation. Only in the Divine manifesting in a human form, can you experience the Divine. If one can not experience the Divine in a human being, how can one experience it in an inanimate stone? See Divine in all around you. Sai is unaffected by praise or blame". (Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. XI P61)
"When God comes in human form, moves freely along with you, talks with you, jokes with you, eats with you and drinks with you, even then you fail to recognize God. You pursue your own types of devotion. This is not correct. You must worship the living divinity, not the lifeless. See the Divine in every man. It is self deception to imagine that God is somewhere away from you." (Summer Showers March 94 P. 60)
"Bodies are transient. These vestures (i.e. bodies) are assumed only for the sake of devotees. Unless Divine comes with a form, no one can develop faith in the formless. The Divine in the human form is the preparation for comprehending the Formless Absolute". ('Summer Showers'April 91, P. 87)
All things in creation are subject to the law of change and man too is subject to this law. But man should use the law for progress, and not for sliding lower in the scale. Dharma is the norm, which he must adhere to, so that he changes from good to better and from better to the best. Dharma is that which is 'worn': man must wear the apparel of Dharma so that he is saved from the cold winds of ego. Man has been endowed with buddhi or intelligence so that he might at every turn decide what is beneficent for observance and what is detrimental. Gahdhi while going through hate - ridden regions prayed, Sabko sanmati de Bhagavan! (O Lord! Give every one good intelligence!) The intelligence has to be kept sharp, clear and straight.
"Brahman is Real, the world is unreal - cultivate detachment to the unreal, then the Lord will attach Himself." (Sathya Sai Speaks Vol - VI P.18 and Vol. VII P. 13)
"Discriminate before you develop attachment. If you have attachment towards land and buildings, bank accounts & balances when these decline, you will come to grieve. Develop attachment towards the Universal and you will grow in love & splendour". (SSS Vol. IV, P. 183)
"Do not get attached to worldly things and pursuits. Be in the world but do not let the world be in you. Work disinterestedly. Content to do your duty as best as you can. Have no desires to place before God." (SSS Vol. VII, P. 4)
"Attachment to illusory objects bind man. These attachments persuade him to tarnish the act of worship to God; for he prays to God for granting him those trivial boons. Pray to God for God only; do not use Truth to achieve untruth. Have the inner vision not the outer. Do not be attracted by the objective world." (SSS Vol. DC P36)
"In this Kaliyuga people seek to amass paltry riches, whereas good character, good conduct and knowledge of God are the three treasures to be gathered. Land and buildings, silver and gold, dollars and other currencies are temporary and trivial. They are possessions only until life lasts. But those three treasurers will stay on until you attain union with God."
"Sow the seeds of goodness, you get the harvest of happiness; sow the seeds of evil, you reap the harvest of grief. You are the cause of these. Do not blame others or impute partiality to God. Above all do not rely on this impermanent; It is full of sorrow, Cultivate detachment, equanimity and self control and love." (SSS Vol. XI, P 12)
"Just as there are four stages in the life of everyone; boyhood, youth, middle age and. old age, there are four stages in his acquisition of Jnana, contemporaneous with these stages. Jnana is the ripeness of the fruit, which is the consummation of a long process, from the first appearance out of the flower in the tree. The first stage is the apprentice stage; being trained by parents, teachers, elders; being led, guided, regulated, warned, reprimanded. The second stage is the junior craftsman stage; eager to establish happiness and justice in society, eager to know the world and its worth and values. The third is the craftsman stage; pouring out energies to reform, reconstruct, remark the human community. The fourth stage is the master stage; realization that the world is beyond redemption by human effort, that one can at best save oneself by trying to reform the world, that it is all His Will, His Handiwork, His World, Himself. Along with this dawn of Jnana, there must also dawn the will to direct all activity in the light of that vision. When you realize that He is the innermost Reality of all, you can worship one another, with as much fervour as you now employ when you worship an idol. But since the worship of idol is more feasible, this is recommended; but the attitude must be that He who is in the idol is also equally found in all. Have the sense of equality feeding all your activity, but do not make all your acts equal with all, and for all. A razor cannot be used for shaving a pencil or a beard or a wooden plank without distinction. But a beggar who begs for alms, a king who prays for victory, are both beggars at the footstool of God." — Baba. (Goal of Human Life, P44 ).
"Dharma (Righteousness) is the measure of Jnana (Wisdom). Intellectual enlightenment, cosmic consciousness, these must result in not only elevation, elation and exaltation, but a quickening of the moral sense. The Jnani has the highest moral character after the illumination he has achieved. By the subjugation of his impulses and propensities to his cleansed Will, and the subjection of his Will to the ideal of Goodness which is God, he becomes the embodiment of Dharma." (-do - P 52).
"To realize God, Pure, selfless devotion is needed. Today, men with selfish and impure minds attempt to worship God. Without purity of thought, speech and action it is impossible to experience the Divine. The basic requisite is the shedding of selfishness and possessiveness, so that one can engage himself in action in a disinterested spirit." (SS Oct 86, P. 232)
"All the worship you offer is of no use if you do not practice the teachings of the Lord in daily life. The root cause for injustice, irregularities, immorality and untruth in Kaliyuga is selfishness & ambition". — Baba. (SS Sept. 89. P. 231)
"Whatever scriptures one may study, whatever sadhanas one may practise unless one succeed in getting rid of the impurities in the heart, life will remain worthless and meaningless. Purification of heart is the essence of all scriptural teachings and the basic goal of life." — Baba. (SS Aug.85, P227).
Ahimsa - Non Violence
"In human life today selfishness and self-interest have assumed prodigious proportions; whatever he does, whatever he sees, whatever he studies, man makes it with selfish interests. Human life has become a plaything in the hands of selfishness. Only when selfishness is totally destroyed in the human heart, will man develop the broad mindness that will promote unity and sacredness among man kind." (SS. Oct. 92 - P. 236)
"Again, practice the attitude of joy when others are joyful and grief when others around you are grieved. Let your heart move in sympathy. But the joy and grief have to be translated into service; they should not be mere emotions. It is not by your wearing the 'bush coat' which all others wear that you should demonstrate the principle of equality; that is very easy. That is external uniformity. How are all equal ? Because they have all the same Divine Chaithanaya within them. When the sun rises, not all lotuses in the lake do bloom; only the grown buds open their petals. The others await their chance. It is the same with men. Differences do exist because of unripeness, though all fruits have to ripen and fall some day. Every being has to reach the Goal, however slow they walk or however circuitous their road." — Baba. (Goal of Human life, P. 42)
Bhagawan Baba also says: "what sort of God are you seeking in temples, when on your streets thousands of Living Gods invite you to worship them with your Seva". (SS April'78 P. 33)
"It is the duty of man to see in society the expression of Divinity, and to use all his skill and effort to promote the welfare and prosperity of society. Man must cultivate (1) this expansive feeling (2) inclusive thinking and (3) intuitive vision. Without these three, man is but an inert being; if he derides these three, he loses his title to be human." — Baba. (Goal of Human Life - P. 9)
"The service rendered should be selfless, without any desire for something in return."
Bhagavan further elaborates the concepts of compassion and non-violence as follows:
"Educated persons must not only serve those who help them but also those who harm them. This attitude makes the service doubly holy. Serving those who harm us is a greater virtue. One must see how to be of service to others." (SS. May 82, P. 104)
"Seva is prescribed as one among the nine steps towards Realisation of self. You must therefore be earnest about it and welcome all chances to serve the old, the sick, the disabled, the diseased and distressed. In Seva there can be no high or low, for Sai is in all. Sai receives your seva to whomsoever you may offer it. Know that I am nearest to him who Calls on Me and Sees Me in all being." (SSS Vol. X. - P. 34)
Sai Baba explains that true Ahimsa or non-violence is to refrain from all wrongful acts committed by the five senses and not to limit it to physical violence alone. Same as Buddha, Baba also says: "Discriminate and decide; dive and declare the depth; eat and judge the taste. That has been the message of the seers of India. Mere axioms without a chance to prove their value to oneself were not thrown at the pupils by the ancient preceptors. The pupil was told then that Divinity was dancing in every cell of his; that he could therefore be fearless. Meet hatred with your innate Prema; meet grief with innate Joy; meet anger with the shield of Shanthi inner Peace. You are bound to win. Loka is Lokesh; the Universe is the Universal Principle manifested in multifarious particulars".
"You have two eyes in your consciousness, namely Sathya and Ahimsa. They are the guides which will take you to the goal, the two lights, the Sun and the Moon of the inner armament. If you want to know the way in which you have to observe Sathya or Truth in speech, look into the Gita. It tells you that the best speech is 'amudvegakar am vakyam' (speech that does not create pain or anger or grief to others). The Sastras also say, 'Satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat Satyamapriyam.' Speek the Truth, but speak pleasantly, simply. Because a statement will be welcome to the hearer, do not speak it out to win his approval; if speaking truth will cause grief or pain, keep silent. That is the vow of truth in ordinary daily life. Do not have hypocrisy or crookedness in your speech. Both unpleasant truth and pleasant un-truth have to be avoided...
Ahimsa is another phase of Sathya. When once you are aware of the kinship, the one-ness in God, the fundamental Atmic unity - no one will knowingly cause pain or distress to another. Promote love, scatter love, be fragrant with love, and preach the gospel of love through example..."
"Vinayaka is called the child of two mothers, Gowri and Ganga. You are the pet children of four mothers, each of you; Sathya, Dharma, Santhi and Prema. Do not ridicule them by your acts; honour them and be grateful to them. Do not claim Anyaya (Injustice), Akarma (Ill-discipline), Asathya (Falsehood) and Anachar (Evil Behaviour) as your mothers, instead! Expand your heart, taking in all humanity into the circle of your kin, even the bird's, beasts, worms, and insects, trees and plants. The Vedic prayer asks that the aspirant's heart may be expanded, 'brihathe karomi' - I make myself vast! The vastest is Brahmam, which word comes from the same root, 'birth', to enlarge." (Goal of Human Life - pp. 19, 24, 25, 45)
Shanthi - Peace
Those who have had the good fortune to directly experience Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba will know, that he is also the very essence of Peace & Righteousness, to which Sathya Sai Baba attaches so much of importance.
He inspires us to follow Sanathana Dharma and help us to comprehend the non-dual Atmic nature of this world of multiplicity. Just as much as He asks us to discern ignorance, falsehood, injutice and indiscipline; He exhorts us to give up desire and the selfish clinging to the concept of 'self' which bind us to unending sufferings of the cycle of births. At the entrance of His Ashram in Puttaparthy, the pillar says 'I want peace' -Baba says "give up I want and you will have peace". He had explained it as one of the preliminaries in the path to liberation. If one gives up the ego (I concept) and desire (want), then that person is sure to enjoy the Bliss of absolute peace, ultimate liberation. He has further prescribed selfless service, faith, duty, devotion and practice of virtue and meditation, towards control of mind and attaining the blissful experience of liberation. But he says "over enthusiasm must be under control: devotion must be regulated."
"Discipline means the observance of certain well-designed rules. Without such regulation it is not possible to maintain humanness. Such regulation contributes to the glory of human existence. Discipline cannot be acquired from books. Nor can it be learnt from teachers. It has to be a natural component of one's daily life in the discharge of one's duties. Discipline is essential from the moment of waking to the time of going to sleep. Discipline is essential for every group. No nation can exist without discipline. It is discipline that unites man to man, and one society to another. (Sanathana Sarathi, July 1996, P. 174)
"Viveka (discrimination between real and unreal) and Vairagya (detachment to the unreal) lead to self-realisation. Discrimination and detachment are the first and the second steps that man has to take in order to reach the Eternal Atmic Truth." (SSS Vol. XI, P. 7) "If you have no vairagyam you are illiterate so far as spiritual scholarship is concerned. Vairagyam is the ABC of Sadhana. Vairagyam must become strong enough to make you discard the bondage of Senses". (SSS Vol. III, P. 57)
"Vairagyam or detachment does not imply renunciation of family ties and fleeing into the loneliness of the Jungle. It means giving up the feeling that the worldly things are permanent and are capable of yielding supreme Joy. Develop detachment which will save you from grief." (SSS Vol X, P. 14)
"All Avatars teach as the first step in the long road of Sadhana the giving up of attachment to the unreal. People utter with faith "Krishna - Krishna" but they never give up Trishna (Thirst) for the worldly goods or fame." (SSS Vol. VI, P. 56)
"Detachment alone can confer Ananda. The upanishads proclaim that thyaga (renunciation) alone can bring about the Bliss of immortality...
"The Lord is above all attachments. He has no favourites or foes. Moksha is the stage when Moha (attachment) attains Kshsaya. [extinction]" (SSS. Vol VII P. 89)
"Spiritual wisdom is not something received from others. It has to blossom from within. Each one has to develop the faith by his efforts. Those lacking such faith make themselves remote from God. Their own past action account for such lack of faith." (SS Nov. 92 P. 265)
"Man still believes that Ananda can be got from the external world. He hoards wealth, authority, fame & learning, in order to acquire happiness. But he finds that they are fraught with fear, anxiety and pain." (SSS Vol. VI P. 50)
"The mind is so influenced by the passion for objective world and delusion of ignorance that it pursues with amazing quickness the fleeting objects of the world; so, it has to be again and again led on towards higher ideals. This is difficult at first, but with persistent training, the mind can be tamed. Nirvikalpasamadhi gives full knowledge of Brahman and that in turn results in Moksha or liberation from birth and death" (Jnana Vahini P. 9)
"Liberation means liberation from delusive attachment or moha. 'Moha - kshaya' - decline in the desires caused by attachment to sensory pleasure." (SSS Vol. X - P. 253)
"What is the wealth that one should really seek? It is the wealth of Jnana, the wealth of Divine wisdom (Brahmajnana); pursuit of this knowledge is the real quest for wealth, not the pursuit of money and passions. Only that knowledge will lead man to the goal of human life." (SSS April 94 - P. 96)
"Control of senses is itself a form of sacrifice (Thyaga) which leads to immortality. Sacrifice of wealth is no sacrifice at all. It is the sacrifice of the senses (the desires caused by them) which is the highest sacrifice - what is the value of all the pleasures you profess to enjoy? if you can not sacrifice these trivial and transient Pleasure, how can you experience the bliss of the Eternal? If people can not give up petty addictions to coffee or betel leaves, how can they acquire control over the senses? This can be done only by the Spiritual Sadhana". (SSS April 94 - P. 89)
"It is when you reach the highest level of 'Sarva sanga Parithyaagi' (one who has renounced all worldly attachments) that one can attain Self-Realisation." (SS - July 94 .P. 176)
"If you suffer from cataract or worse still if you are blind, you cannot know the truth. So too, the Divine is here, before you, behind you, inside you, outside you; the Intelligence through which you can recognize it is also with you but you are either blind or diseased with defective vision or worse still, willfully inclined to close your eyes! Manava (man) must achieve the status of Madhava (God). And who is God? Truth is God, Love is God, Peace is God. Develop Truth, cultivate Love, establish yourselves in Peace - you are on the road to Divinity." (Goal of Human Life - P. 8)
Prema - Love
Once when Baba was asked about His 'methodology' he said," I have no methodology or machinery or strategy in the accepted Organizational sense. My methodology is a simple one, based on conversion by love and the machinery is one of human co-operation and brotherhood. Love is my instrument and my merchandise". (Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram P. 84)
The above statement of His is not mere ideology but the experience of many a devotees. He is the very form of Prema / Love itself. Over & Over again He had declared that His reason to have come in this form is only to re-establish Dharma, which is on the decline. "My objective is to establish unity in mankind and to reveal to them the aspect of divinity which is Brahman, the only goal which one should look for. It is also my duty to make you realize the kind of relationship that should exist between man and man, and to establish that the aspect of divinity is present and latent in all human beings. Persons are not going to became great merely by reciting vedas and making speeches in a very flamboyant manner.....
It is very foolish for people to think that I am just a man of miracles and no more. The kind of feeling which an elephant gets when a mosquito lands on its body is exactly like what miracles are for me. These miracles have an insignificant place in my totality. Sometimes I feel like laughing at the ignorance of people when they attach importance to my miracles. People talk of only such small things and forget the much bigger aspect in me. The most sacred quality in me is Prema. This Prema is immeasurable. However much a person may try, he can not get a measure of the extent of my Prema. It is immeasurable and unrealizable. Only such people who have recognized the existence of such prema in me can get some idea of what I am". (Summer Showers in Brindavan - 1974, P. 282)
The above explanation by Sathya Sai Baba is a spiritual conviction that thousands and thousands of devotees of Him of different religion, race, creed and caste all over the world have actually experienced. When cynics ask what do you find in Swami? I often advise them to go and personally experience Him. For, the love and spirituality that he exhumes is unparalleled and beyond explanation unless someone personally experiences it.
He says; "If you acquire Prema, then you can dispense with the Sastras, for the purpose of all the Sastras is Just that; to Create the feeling of SARVAJANA SAMANA PREMA, equal Love for all." (SSS Vol.I - P. 119)
In one of His letters to the students, Bhagavan Baba says; "God is love, love is selflessness. Selflessness is the abolition of all senses of selfhood and seperativeness, all superficious identification with the isolative life of the counterfeit thing called 'self; self is seperativeness; seperativeness is the denial of wholeness, Holiness, God." (Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram - P. 145)
"PREMA gives SHANTHI. I command you never hate others, or wish evil of them or talk in of them. Then only you can attain the Santhasavarupam (i.e. Lord of Love)."
"Do not inflict pain by word or deed or even thought. That is the way to gain Shanthi". (SSS Vol. 1-P.181 and P.82)
"God is all prevading. He is found in the hearts of all living beings. How can a heart which can not love the living fellow beings, Love God? People will be on the one hand, praying to God, and on the other, they will be harming other people. This is not proper. We shall be able to love God only when we are able to love the people, our fellow beings." (SSS 72 - P. 178)
"The five Pandava brothers are five qualities in human character, all observing the norms set by the eldest, which is the noblest and the most righteous. Rama is the example of uncompromising adherence to the principle of Righteousness, what ever be the temptation to bypass it. Rama was charged with a love that transcended all considerations of advantage and of caste or creed and extended to animals and birds, human and subhuman beings. Love is the key to open the doors locked by egoism and greed".
'The basic needs of man are those mentioned in the prayer of the ancients: 'Asatho maa sath gamaya, thamaso maa jyothir gamaya, Mrithyor maa amritham gamaya.' Man wants the Truth, he gets disgusted with falsehood; he wants Light, he gets defeated by darkness; he wants no death, he gets torn by birth and death. This prayer rises from every man whether he is an Andhra or a Malayali or a Mysorean. This yearning has no connection with the land of your birth, of the language spoken or the form of Divinity revered. It is the cry of humanity everywhere at all times. These three can be got only by spiritual Sadhana by following the path of Love and Truth." (Goal of Human Life - P.11)
"Your devotion to God is best expressed by achieving the control of the senses. For the senses rush towards the temporary and the tawdry; and they foul the heart. I require from each of you no other gift, no more valuable offering than the heart I have endowed you with. Give me that heart, as pure as when I gave it to you, full of the nectar of love I filled it with." (Sathya Sai Baba's Thought For the Day - 1008 Gems Published in 1992 - P. 270 and P. 274)
WHEN THE ROAD ENDS — AND THE GOAL IS GAINED,
- Baba -
Sai has build His Beautiful mansion for universal Peace on the strong foundation of Timeless, Eternal, Everlasting (Sanathana) Truth (Dharma). "Without Sathya, Dharma, Prema and Shanthi whatever education you may have, the value of that education is zero. Without Sathya, Dharma, Prema and Shanthi whatever position of authority you may occupy, the result is zero. For the mansion of Sanathana Dharma, Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi and Prema constitute the four pillars of foundation. What other truth can I convey to you good people, who have assembled here". (Summer Showers in Brindavan - 1978, P 236)
In another discourse entitled 'The World - My Mansion' reproduced in Sathya Sai speaks - Volume I, Bhagavan Baba says, "Sadhana must be done in a disciplined systematic manner and in an atmosphere of virtue. Just as we have fans here in this hall to cool the atmosphere and make it possible for such a large gathering to sit, packed in this Hall, so too the fans of Sathya, Dharma, Santhi, Prema are necessary to reduce the sweltering heat of Ajnana, Asathya, Auyaya and Akarma (Ignorance, falsehood, injustice and indiscipline). In a world where Dharma is being insulted and denied at every turn, Santhi and Tolerance are the roads through which man can save himself."
The message of Sathya Sai Baba is examplified by every aspect of his life which is simple, and does not contradict any other religion or philosophy. Infact, he reemphasise the Eternal Truth which is present in almost all the major religions. Yet, like Buddha, Jesus, Allah, Krishna and Rama, He has not been short of critics or cynics who had been criticising him at every turn. Unfortunately, most of them have never seen him nor bothered to read even a few lines of his sayings. As Jonathan Swift says, "when a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign - that the dunces are all in confederation against him". Vilification is the tribute that is usually offered to mystery.
Many of those who have had the good fortune to experience him has described Swami as the 'Cosmic Visitor'. Baba himself announced in his 21st year, "No one can comprehend my glory, whoever he is, whatever his method of inquiry, however sustained his attempt." No wonder he provoked a campaign of vilification, when he was just fourteen! His father threatened to beat the alleged 'megalomania' out of His head. He arrested him, brandishing a heavy stick, questioning "are you God or a fraud?" When Baba replied 'I am Sai Baba come again', miracles soon convinced him that it is best to leave the son alone.
His elder brother drew his attention to the barbs of pettiness and prejudice aimed through rumour and scandal at the dazzling new phenomenon from the hamlet between the hills. Baba wrote to him, "These people have to be pitied rather than condemned. They do not know. They have no patience to judge right. They are too full of lust, anger and conceit to see clearly and know fully, so they write all types of things. If only they knew, they would not talk or write like that."
He explained another reason for the vilification; "people are endowed with a variety of characteristics and mental attitudes, so each judges according to his own angle, talks and argues in the light of his own nature." (Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram - P .185)
He told his devotees, that in every age, in every land, these unfortunate people ply their trade. I stand between the pile of praise and pile of blame, blessing both. You recite my name in your homes; they shout my name along the lanes and by lanes, all over the market place. Why do you grudge the few 'paisa' they earn, to provide their children little food? (Sathyam Sivam, Sundaram - P 187)
Not only verbal slanders, those who can not tolerate the transformation of goodness he has bought about throughout the world, had gone to the extent of attempting to cause physical harm to his very life, as in the case of Jesus and Buddha.
However, He continues with His Mission irrespective of all this fuss, totally unaffected by any. "To one who carries the burden as well as the glory of Human agony, campaigns of calumny such as those indulged in by a misled few, can hurt less than a pin prick". Baba asks, "How can reason test Transcendence "? (Sathyam Sivam, Sundaram, P. 192)
As a born Buddhist I certainly do not find any difference of Sathya Sai Baba's Philosophy from that of Buddha's other than the practical guidance and assistance I have personally received from Sathya Sai Baba to be a better Buddhist. For example, the following passage of Him is a confirmation of the above. While emphasising on the control of senses and the mind, he propagates the oneness of humanity. "The knowledge of Atma, the basic spiritual knowledge is the one which enables us to recognize oneness of all human beings" ....Giving the example of a son crying by the side of the dead body of his father, he says; "we see here that so long as there is life in a body, we promote the connection and the relationships with that body are experienced, but the moment that life goes away from that body, we will hesitate to keep that body in our homes. We have no attachment or affection to that body once the life force has gone away. This body has taken a form which is made up of all the five elements. This is only a casual and artificial appearance. There is a distinct difference between this body which is composed of the five elements and the Atma which is in the body. This human birth has come to us with the purpose of establishing to the world the oneness that exists in all creation. The nature of this oneness can be recognized by promoting the two qualities 'Sama' and 'Dama'. By promoting the qualities of Sama and Dama, control of mind and of the sensory organs, it is possible for us to recognize divinity (Summer Showers in Brindavan - 1977; P. 202)
The essence of Buddha's Fourth Noble Truth - The Eight Fold Path which He has prescribed if diligently followed as a sure means to final Liberation, is not different to the above. In fact, Bhagavan Baba has said the identical as follows; "It is advisable for all to follow the Middle Path. 'Ami Sarvathara Varjayet' is an ancient axiom; it means, 'avoid excess in all places'. You must respect the limits set by the experience of ages in the sacred texts. They act like embankments that curb the flood waters; they direct the ranging passion towards harmless channels and save you from ruin." (Goal of Human Life - Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, complied by A. K. Sarin, p48).
His concept of God does not imply a different alien. He talks about God not to glorify Himself but only for us to realize our own inherent Divinity and help achieve Liberation. According to Bhagavan Baba, "man is himself Divine and so it is matter of the deep calling unto the deep, of the part calling the whole, of the sky in the pot yearning for the sky surrounding it."... "Man is a pilgrim who has already come a long way from birth to birth. The journey so far accomplished decides how far he has to go still. If he has lost his way and meandered into the deserts or jungles, he will have a great distance to travel yet. If he has been led right, his pilgrimage will end soon successfully. Cultivate sympathy with fellow- pilgrims, seek to know the right path, learn to guide and be earnest to reach the goal, safe and quick.....You must learn about what others think you are. They deal with you as a body, with a specific name and an identifiable form. Then, you must learn what you think you are. You are aware of your mind and its monkey tricks, its prejudices and preferences, its passions and pursuits. You are aware of your individual consciousness, of your version of 'me' and 'mine'. Learn about the mind as an instrument which can harm you if used unwisely or help you if used wisely. You have to learn about yet another 'You', the YOU you really are. For you are neither the body nor the mind. You are the embodiment of Purity, Power, Love, Bliss. The miserable little prison named 'individuality' has to be denied. You are free but you fancy that you are bound and mope in the cell you imagine is limiting you. See the truth that will set you tree. It is within you, feel it. Feel it. You are not the body. the mind. the intellect, the heart, the brain, the diminutive ego. You are the Infinite Universal Absolute." ( - do - pages 6.24.10 ).
Sathya Sai Baba says the same spiritual tenants as of Buddha in a simple language easily understood by His students and devotees alike. The following passage exemplify it further." As a bird rests on a branch it moves. But the little bird is not afraid as he does not rely on the branch but himself. Man has not got that kind of confidence"... "The noblest way to Divinity is equanimity. Accept good and bad with equal mind. This true principle will give you eternal nectar of Bliss." ( Sathya Sai Baba's Discourse on 29.8.1996).
It is the same four 'Brahma Viharanas' of Buddha; Kindness, Compassion, Joyful Resignation and Equanamity that Sathya Sai Baba also propagates for His devotees to adopt, along with the Middle Path to end the misery of Sansara. Since we are deluded by the duality of life , just like Buddha, Sai Baba also through various illustrations attempts to show us that life is a misery and the path to overcome the same.
Here, Sai Baba has equalled Divinity to Bliss. When Buddha was asked to describe Nibbana, He said 'how can I describe the indescribable'. However, the nearest description of Nibbana is 'It is Unborn, Unformed and Uncreated. It is highly Desirable, Blissful and Eternal'. (Talk delivered by Dr. Gamini Karunanayake on 28.3.96) Baba says "Truth is God" and Buddha says "Nirvana is Parama Sathya" — (absolute Truth). More than on one occasion Baba has also said that "God is within you". Thus, God Realization and Nirvana is one and the same. (Talk by Dr. Hema Weerakoon on 10.1.97).
Nibbana or Liberation, as one may call it is Eternal Bliss. According to one's familiarity and understanding, however one may call it Divine or Buddha Consciousness. The fundamental goal being the same, the practical guidance of these two spiritual teachers also remain similar. The modem scientists have declared that 'every action has a reaction'. This does not differ from the underlying principle of Detachment and Discrimination that Buddha and Sai Baba prescribes as a prerequisite for liberation. Both of them have stated that the entire universe consist of the five basic elements which are also present in every' living being. When a person develops a desire towards another object, his mind and the conscious full of thought of that particular object develops the characteristics thus pertinent, both being made of the same elements and generates a kind of gravity. For example, if somebody desires another, the base being lust he tends to develop a body chemistry which would attract the other party towards him. This is the fundamental principle that keeps us bound to the cycle of births. It is also for this same reason that all great religious leaders propagate selfless love, compassion, kindness etc. for the good of entire universe. Then, it will be the vibrations emanating from these positive qualities that will predominates the world instead of detrimental qualities like hatred, violence, envy possessiveness etc. The ultimate Liberation means, to rise above the duality and develop yourself to be totally unaffected by anything. Constant Meditation on Buddha or any other Liberated Soul will help you develop those characteristics and ultimately help you understand your very Divine nature and achieve Nirvana or Eternal Bliss.
Like Buddha revealed through His 'Patticha Samuppada', the Law of Cause and Effect, Sai Baba also says that it is Ignorance that keep us bound to this fleeting world. He motivates everybody to turn the search towards inner self.
"Merely finishing the study of books after books serves no purpose. Practicing one line from any book is enough to save you from aeons of darkness, of ignorance, and of yearning for Light...
Spiritual progress and bliss depend on disciplined effort. These can come only through hard and difficult toil, not through pleasant easy paths. Life becomes worth living only when one has disciplined habits, concentration of mind, renunciation of sensual pleasures and faith in the Atma (the Self).
Samadhi is a much misunderstood word. It is freely misapplied. All kinds of emotional upsurges, attacks of hysteria, nervous breakdowns, neurotic fits, are now extolled and exalted as Samadhi! Mark the word! It is 'Samadhi', that is balanced, unruffled intellect, a discriminating reaction of equanimity in the face of heat and cold, grief and joy, pain and pleasure, rejection and rejoicing. One who has attained that stage, or realized that he is One without a second to fear or favour, to hate or love, exalt or degrade. That is Smadhi the Awareness and Bliss." (Goal of Human Life - PP 10, 21)
Buddha's Third Noble Truth - the Ceasing of Suffering is the very ceasation of the conditioned mind by severing the identification and attachment to the mind and body and relinquish the notion of personal 'self', through which one can experience the tranquillity and happiness which lies beyond the range of six senses. Sathya Sai Baba says; "nothing is yours though you say this is mine. Not even your body... The mind binds and mind liberates. So, train the mind and win. It is a wild elephant which can be tamed with the goad of 'soham' (concentration on breathing). When sun is available all over some question how I do not find it in my residence? Sun also laughs and says; you have built the walls of attachment and the roof of ego, how can I come in? You have covered the house with the body attachments and Ahamkara. How can you see God inside?" (Sathya Sai Baba's Discourse on 29.8.1996).
In the course of the same talk He gave a very easy practical method to reduce attachments and worldly bondages without giving up worldly responsibilities. "There are many duties and responsibilities. You do not have to give them up but act like in a drama without getting personally involved. When you cry on stage at the death of a family member, you know very well that you are only acting. Therefore, act very well but know the reality without forgetting your true nature. All names and forms are changing but not oneself which one should not ever forget. Knowing this nature act well. This will release you from bondage and give Bliss."
Buddha's First Noble Truth about Suffering and the Second Noble Truth - The Reason For Suffering (interdependent cause and effect - due to ignorance) Sathya Sai Baba puts forward as follows; "human life is like a pot full of bad bugs - full of diseases. Birth, life, death, family life, old age, failures, happiness, difficulties, mystery are all full of worry. The world is full of worries. Nothing is permanent. One worry passes giving way to another. But, what is the shape of worry? It is only a mentally created fear...
The present misery is because man has forgotten his true nature. The purpose of life is to know one's own nature. He spends all his life amassing wealth etc. without understanding the principle of oneness. You are suffering because you do not have the faith that God is in you. Based on circumstances there are many names and forms but God is one. Based on ideology and faith, we follow different religions but Brahman is the same. In this drama of life, based on our actions and past merit we get drawn. But, all this is an illusion - nothing is true. The present life is because of effected mind. The moment you feel that it is an illusion and you see Brahman - you achieve Brahman, the Divine. Once you consider yourself as God, this illusion will run away. Once you understand this true nature of yours, everything else will be known." (Sathya Sai Baba's Discourse on 29.8.1996).
The Buddha laid down Morality, Concentration and Wisdom as the Path to Enlightenment and Peace. But in truth, these things are not the essence of Buddhism. They are merely the Path. The essence of Buddhism is Peace and that Peace arises from truly knowing the nature of all things. According to Buddhism: "The true original mind has nothing to measure it by. In its natural state it is unshaken, unmoving". Thus, what Buddha and Sai Baba, both in different ways, selflessly trying to make us understand is the true nature of ourselves. Their motivating factor being the utmost Compassion for all beings entangled in Samsara.
It is natural for many, to have reservations with regard to a contemporary living being about his Buddha Consciousness / Godhood. Yet,.... (the truthness of Sathya Sai Baba's message....)
The truthness of Sathya Sai Baba's message has triumphed over all obstacles and has managed to re-establish the Transcendental Truth in all the major religions. His biggest miracle being the way in which He inspires millions of human minds and the manner in which He has successfully re-directed the course of their lives to become better human beings. This differs to His seemingly human activities and clearly establishes His unquestionable Divinity.
I have made and attempt to present within the limited context of this little booklet the significance of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teaching as I understand, with special reference to Buddhism. It is my prayer that devotees will be inspired in their spiritual Sadhana by the Dhamma of these great spiritual teachers in their quest of searching Eternal Peace.
In conclusions, I offer my most loving and respectful pranamas at the feet of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, for giving me the opportunity to have glimpse of the personification of Eternal and Universal Truth and Absolute Wisdom; For the incomparable, unconditional love and compassion which has sustained me through many a personal crisis; and, above all, for the spiritual strength he has given me to translate more meaningfully the tenets preached by Buddha in today's context to become a better Buddhist.
JEWELS MAY DIFFER BUT GOLD IS ONE
- SATHYA SAI BABA -
The Buddha's Call is Heard Again ...
The little island of Sri Lanka brought her national festival of Wesak to Bhagawan 's feet this year for the second time, and. He who is worshipped as Rama, Krishna and Jesus, now accepted our worship as the living Buddha too.
Wesak-Buddha Poumima - the day of the full moon in the month of Vaishakh (May), the day the Lord Buddha was born, gained Enlightenment and died, is the greatest day of the Buddhist calendar.
It is the biggest religious festival too in Sri Lanka, and this inauguration of the festival of Wesak in Bhagwan s presence is an occasion of a religious and historical magnitude that we cannot truly gauge as yet today.
Buddhism was born in India, yet died away, but flourished in Sri Lanka - in its 'purest' form, they say. And now, this year, Lanka brings back her treasure to India, to the feet of the Lord Buddha come again.
Lanka comes with her precious treasure cupped in her hands; little Lanka that had bravely sheltered the spark of the Buddhist Dharma through the centuries even though on the huge subcontinent of its birth it had faded out. This spark, this trust, we bring back to you for you have come again. She says to Him, the Buddha, I have not forgotten, I have not forgotten, Lord.
It was one young woman alone, who conceived the idea of this first formal celebration of a Buddhist festival before Bhagawan. It was she who pleaded with Swami for permission, who meticulously planned every detail through a whole year, who bore almost the entire burden of the hassle and worry of such a big project. And at the end she had her dream come gloriously true, not only for Lanka but for the world's Buddhists as well. Swami has given her permission to organize this festival year after year in conjunction with other Buddhist countries.
The ceremonies and the decor were simple (the organizers were still too new and fresh to cope with a major affair as this and the vastness of the Sai Ramesh Hall is certainly intimidating). But, it was our most sacred symbols and traditions that were on display.
And it was a whole nation's heart that beat in this small group of about 300 devotees, a whole country's proud tears as we saw the Bodhi tree and the Buddhist flag adorning the Sai Ramesh Hall, this center of the world's attention and devotion.
Although the actual day of the full moon fell on 3rd May this year, Bhagawan said that Wesak would be celebrated on the 14th and 15th of May. Swami was particularly encouraging over these first stumbling efforts of ours. He assented without demur to all the items suggested in the tentative program offered to Him, and our proudest triumph was that He agreed to a Divine Discourse, the first ever to be given specially on the occasion of Buddha Pournima.
And then He added some items of His own to the program too. Although the Lankans had brought along a special sweet to be distributed as prasad after Bhagawan's blessings, Swami had prasad of His own given on two days and also saris to the Lankan women in the gardens of Trayi Brindavan of the 14th.
The most momentous event of the celebration, however, was the announcement made on the morning of the 15th that there would be a meeting that evening on the occasion of Sri Lanka's New Year Day. But it was not a mistake, as startled Sri Lankans thought. The warden of the Brindavan Hostel, Mr. Narasimmha Murthy, who made the announcement, confirmed that these were Bhagawan's words.
Traditionally, the 14th of April is our country's New Year Day. Would then the start of these Wesak celebrations, at the feet of Sakya Sinha Sathya Sai, inaugurate a new Era in our history ? Devotees from this warravaged land are hoping with desperate intensity that this will be Bhagawan's boon and blessing to us on this occasion of Wesak in His presence.
The morning of the 15th dawned, THE DAY, and it was a lifetime's moment as we filled the first VIP block of the Sai Ramesh Hall for darshan, radiant in our own holy robes - the saris He'd given.
Deep pink lotuses (paper lanterns) lined the edge of the stage. These lotuses have a meaning for Buddhism beyond their usual symbol of purity in Eastern cultures, for it is said that the Buddha, at the very moment of His birth, stood up and took seven steps, preaching the Dhamma right there (the Dharma, His Message of Righteousness); and at every one of the seven steps a lotus sprang to receive His sacred feet.
And then there was the Bodhi tree right behind Bhagawan's chair inside the Shanti Vedika. This is the tree under which the Lord Buddha sat in meditation at the moment of Enlightenment. The Bo Tree has a very special significance for Lanka. In Anuradhapura, the most ancient capital of our kings, there stands a massive tree that has grown from a branch of the original tree under which the Lord Buddha sat at Bodh Gaya in North India. This branch was brought to the island 2,000 years ago by the son and daughter of the Indian Emperor Ashoka. They were the first Buddhist missionaries to our land. It is only in Lanka, besides India, that this tree (sprung from the original) flourishes and the Sri Maha Bodhi is one of our most sacred symbols.
Along the eight of the pillars of the Shanti Vedika, and in wide arches between them, was an intricate creation of ruffles in colored paper - red, ochre and white - Rali Palan they are called. (After the Wesak celebrations were over, we were told to our delight that Bhagawan had ordered the Rali Palan to remain for awhile, about ten days. The Rali Palan has been an age old form of decoration at all important religious and state functions.)
Wesak day at Brindavan was a re-creation of some of the sacred Kandy Perahera rituals. A troupe of male dancers led the Perahera (procession). They are temple dancers by hereditary right and only they have the privilege of making the Rali Palan. A group of these hereditary dancers, musicians and craftsman were flown in from Lanka to Bangalore for Wesak and it was they who made the Rali Palan for the Shanti Vedika, and who ceremonially conducted Bhagawan from Trayi Brindavan to the Sai Ramesh.
Magnificent in ornate breast plates covering their bare chests and with tall conical hats, all of craved silver, the dancers and drummers stood at the gates of Trayi Brindavan on that 15th morning.
Then, through the clear early morning air, the conch blew. One knee bent forward, the body slanting back at an artistic angle, the conch pointing up at the skies, one of the dancers sent his call to the heavens - and Bhagawan stepped out.
A thunderous drumming broke the silence and through the stamping and whirling of the two dancers came their loud chant that beckoned the Lord forward. Four young boys spread out strips of pure white cloth - the paavaada - along His path and, with a faintly quizzical smile, Swami divested Himself of His usual entourage and walked alone.
At the close darshan Swami got the dancers to perform again on the men's side who had missed their treat. Again and again, with wild leaps and sweeping movements, the dancers bowed to the Lord. How our hearts swelled to see these hallowed rituals of our land offered now to the living God before us. Our eyes were seeing that which was almost unthinkable, for the Buddhist Scriptures say that in the cycles of Creation a perfected Buddha is a rare and wonderful sight indeed.
The evening's darshan began with Bhakthi Gee, traditional songs of devotion at Wesak time. A little later, Sri Lankan's High Commissioner to India. Managala Moonesinghe was asked to speak. It was a very simple talk, a brief outline of the fundamental precepts of Buddhism, for he knew better than to strike a pontificating note in the presence of the Lord Himself. At the end, as he bowed to Bhagawan, he did not see Swami rise to His feet with those sacred hands making wide sweeps in the air above. And then Swami's hands were placing a shimmering gold chain around the neck of this staunch devotee.
Major General Mahadevan followed with another brief talk and then, it was the Divine Discourse. We had all looked forward to hearing Swami speak with an emphasis on Buddhism as it would be for the first time. However, on this inaugural occasion of Wesak, Bhagawan limited Himself to stressing the common core that underlies all religions, the concept of Dharma, the unity of thought, word and deed.
He reminded us of a famous Buddhist theme: Sarvam, Dukkham, Sarvam Kshanikam, Sarvam Shunyam (all is sorrow, fleeting and void). Faced with the truth of an existence that changes from moment to moment, bringing sorrow that inevitably follows all loss, what else has man left but the Path of Righteousness?
The day was over. Our special hour with the Lord had ended ... we thought... The next morning, as we gathered for darshan, came the summons again. All Sri Lankans, men and women this time, were to go to the Kalyana Mantap for padanamaskar again! It was pure rapture for us that morning and, from the moment Swami stepped in the Mantap, He beamed and beamed and we must have heard Him say very happy, very happy at least fifty times in that half hour.
Three young couples waiting to be married had their photographs taken with Him, with vibuthi and secret words for all of them in turn. Swami just couldn't refuse us anything that day.
The bhajans were indeed near perfect and the Lankans had the chance to sing both morning and evening for three consecutive days. Even Swami, in His Wesak discourse, said that the continual singing of bhajans in our country had helped in great measure. Then, Padanamaskar through the lines of men and women and it was so clear that, when He wills it, the behaviour of the crowd is exemplary. The prayer in everyone's eyes and folded hands was just too intense to allow the slightest murmur of indiscipline. Swami was so wholly ours that day -what need to grab that which was completely in our hands?
How many are the little, little 'incidents' that must be happening as He walks swiftly past hundreds giving padanamskar, but remain hidden in each person's heart, almost never known to others? Here are just two we happened to know of that day.
While walking through the lines, Swami suddenly stopped and started giving instructions about something. He stood at that particular spot for several minutes and all that while one lady alone had her hands over His feet. Was it just chance luck? It's never that with Him. A few years ago this lady had brought her little son to Swami for a cure, but a while later he died. The mother, ardent devotee though she was, was almost crazed with grief. But the years passed and once again she began to take an active part in the Sai Organization of Lanka. She was, in fact, one of the chief helpers at the Wesak function. But that awful pain was there - it would always be there - and it was for her alone that Swami had stood and stood.
The second instance was the devotee who only remembered as Swami came by for padanamaskar that her whole hand and forearm, with the palm upturned, was flat on the ground and Swami had walked right over it. Why she has should have been touching His feet, she can't remember. Everyone's minds blank out when Swami comes near. When talking about it the next day, someone asked her, Didn't you feel His weight as He stood on your hand? With a shock she realized she had felt nothing but the mere touch of His sole, the gentle pressure of His toes. It was a slight demonstration that day to one devotee of the siddhic power of Anima, weightlessness.
One of the men was on his very first visit to Swami and therefore had none of the awe older devotees are stricken with. When Swami came by for padanamaskar he bobbed up: Can I have my photograph with you, too? Oh yes! Swami cried, and clapping a loving hand on his shoulder called for a cameraman.
Others jumped into the 'frame' and it became a group picture. How then could Swami deny others? He just could not refuse us anything that day and group after group crowded around. Bhagawan simply could not stop saying Happpy! Happy! that day.
Abundant prasad again from Swami to us at the Man tap and, of course bhajans again by the Lankans that evening.
Wesak was, yes, still a rather nascent show, but our devotion was great and Bhagawan's enthusiasm unprecedented. For several days the white-clad Lankans had Swami coming up to their special block, darshan after darshan, circling right around and taking all their letters, blessing all their offerings.
To a country torn apart by violence, to a lost, weeping country, the Buddha's call is heard again. Planning has already begun for next year and as is inevitable now with Swami, everything takes on gigantic proportions. Japan, Thailand and perhaps other Buddhist countries may jointly participate in future Wesak celebrations, But historic Wesak 1995 - the inauguration of the formal Buddhist celebrations in Bhagawan's presence - belonged to little Sri Lanka alone. (Rajkumar, The Observer, Bringing Darsan to the World, Puttaputhy June Edition -1996, P. 9)
Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba's Discourse for Vaishaka Buddha Poornima on 15.5.96 at Brindavan.
MESSAGE OF THE AVATARS AND THE EPICS:
Embodiments of Love!
This vast cosmos, consisting of moving and unmoving objects, is permeated with Truth. All names and forms are founded on Dharma (Righteousness). Dharma is the form of God. The Spirit (Atma) which is present in the subtlest of the subtle and vastest of the vast as a witness, is verily the Brahmam (the all-pervading Consciousness)
All the objects in the universe are made up of atoms. The atom is the embodiment of the Spirit (Atma). Hence there is no place in the universe without the Atma or Brahmam.
Forgetting the spiritual basis of the universe man gets entangled in misery through his worldly attachments. It was out of a recognition of this truth that Buddha declared: Everywhere there is sorrow. Everything is momentary and everything is perishable. To consider the worldly things as permanent is the cause of sorrow. If man recognizes that the World is permeated by the Brahmam. which is all Bliss, he will free himself from the cause of sorrow. He fails to recognise the divinity that subsumes the whole of Prakriti. (Nature or the phenomenal universe). Instead, he regards the Divine can be seen in Nature, man in his folly fails to recognise the Divine. Nature in its myriad forms is the effect. God is the cause. The entire cosmos is a manifestation of cause and effect. Hence the universe is a manifestation of the Divine.
Man should realise that the fine basic elements which constitute the fundamental stuff of the universe are common to all mankind and should be enjoyed as such. He should see the Divine in every human being. This was the purpose of the prayer: Sangan Saranam Gachchaami (I seek refuge in the Sangha). The implication of this prayer is that, after getting enlightenment, one should enter society (to serve it). The second prayer is: Dharmam Saranam Gachchaami (I seek refuge in Dharma). The meaning of the prayer as a whole is that for the sake of upholding Dharma (Righteousness), one should use one's Buddhi, along with the first prayer; Buddhan saranan Gachchaami (the enlightened intellect) and engage himself in social activity. Possessing intelligence, if a person does not do social service, how can he uphold Dharma? It has been said that man has been given a body essentially to pursue Dharma.
NON-VIOLENCE THE FIRST DHARMA:
The observance of non-violence has been described as the highest from of Dharma. All the violence in the world today is due to the fact that people do not lead righteous lives. People do penance and perform various kinds of rituals, but they have secured no peace. Why? Because they have not sought to find out who they really are.
This inquiry should lead to the realization that one is the Divine in human form and deeming the body as the basic reality, men are misusing the body and the talents and qualities given to them. They are failing to recognise how to use their endowments for redeeming their human birth.
Among the teachings of Buddha to the world, the foremost was Ahimsa (not causing harm to anyone). Non-violence is not merely refraining from inflicting injuries on others with one's limbs or weapons. Non-violence has to be practiced with purity of mind, tongue and body. (Trikarana Suddhi). There should be no ill-feelings towards anyone in the mind. To entertain such feelings is a form of violence. To cause harm to others through the body is also violence (Himsa). No one should be harmed even by speech. The speech should be sweet, pleasing and wholesome. All actions should be helpful to others.
Buddha laid down three rules for all actions. All acts done by the hands should be good. The proper ornament for the hand is charity (daanam). The proper ornament for the throat (Khantam) is truth. For the ears the best ornament is listening to sacred lore. What other ornaments does anyone need?" (Sanskrit Sloka).
What are people doing today? They are listening to what is undesirable. They arc looking at ugly scenes. How, then, can they hope to get peace? Only by the harmony of the mind, the heart and the tongue one can achieve peace. There should be unity in thought, word and deed.
TRANSFORMATION THE NEED:
Despite all the teachings, no real transformation is taking place in the behaviour of man. Of what use are bhajans and 'Sath-sang' (the company of the good) if one does not become purer? Through the company of the good, one should cultivate good thoughts, which in due course will lead one to self-realisation (Jivan Mukthi)
Men should act according to the dictates of their conscience, which can discriminate between right and wrong. They should rise above animal tendencies and realise the glory of human birth. Men should lead ideal lives, manifesting their inner divinity. Everything they do, their speech, their manners, should be exemplary. Even the smallest act should cause no harm to others.
LESSONS FROM THE EPICS :
Men today get easily enraged. Where can we find the example for such anger? In the Bhagavatham. Likewise where can we find an example for Kaama (desire or lust)? In the Ramayana. Where is the example for the evil quality of greed? It is in the Mahabharatha.
How do these great works contain warnings against three grievous evils? In the Ramayana, the all-powerful Ravana, a great scholar well versed in the 64 types of knowledge and one who had performed severe penances, was destroyed because of the one evil quality of 'Kamma' (lust). All his other virtues were burnt up by the fire of sensuous desire. Kaama (lust) is destructive of all other good qualities in a man. Ramayana demonstrates this truth.
In the Bhagavatha we have the story of Prahlada and Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada was a great devotee of Vishnu. His father, Hiranyakasipu, hated Vishnu. In his uncontrollable hatred of the Lord, he did not hesitate to subject his young son to the most terrible ordeals. His anger (krodha) was the cause of his destruction.
In the Mahabharata, Duryodhana stands out as the example for the evil quality of greed (lobha). He declared that he would not part with even a needle-point of land to the Pandavas (who were his cousins). His greed turned him into a totally wicked person.
Ravana, Hiranyakasipu and Duryodhana were not men of common clay. They were all eminent in their own way. They were heroes by virtue of their accomplishments. But they proved zeroes in their lives because of their specific vices. What use is there in possessing great talents if one is subject or a grievous vice? Ravana had numerous abilities and had made Lanka a veritable paradise. But of what avail were all these when he had no control over the senses?
It is the bounden duty of every human being to get rid of his evil qualities and foster his good qualities.
AVATARS AND DHARMA:
The role of every Avatar (incarnation of the Divine) is to establish the reign of Truth and Righteousness, banish all that is evil, false and unrighteous in the world, and help to manifest the divinity in mankind.
It was to establish the reign of righteousness (Dharmasamsthaapana) that the advent of the Rama Avatar took place. No one should go back on his plighted word. There is no greater Dharma than Truth. In order to uphold the promises given by his father, Rama chose to go in exile to the forest.
Likewise, in the Krishna Avatar, the Lord declared, I incarnate from age to age to establish Dharma.
When you listen to these declarations, it will be clear that Dharma is the supreme ideal. What is Dharma ? Any act that is done with purity in thought, word and deed is Dharma. But, how many act upto this dictum? Very few understand or live upto it. Practice is primary.
The history of Bharat is replete with stories of the great men who have upheld Dharma. Buddha also had to face criticisms from his contemporaries. These are the familiar experience of all Avatars. No incarnation was free from calumny. All good causes also suffer from criticisms. Peace and good result from the work of the Avatars in spite of these attacks and impediments.
IMPORTANCE OF GOOD COMPANY:
The following is the fourfold formula for all people. Welcome good company. Eschew all association with the evilminded. Perform meritorious acts ceaselessly. Always discriminate between the transient and the everlasting.
Buddha's first teaching was give up bad company. In his wanderings Buddha used to take with him some young men. Some persons criticised Buddha, charging him with spoiling the young men. Buddha gave a free rein to his traducers. He listened quietly to their accusations and traducers. He listened quietly to their accusations and left without uttering a word in reply. When the disciples asked him why he chose not to reply to the criticisms, Buddha said that unanswered criticisms return to the critics who made them.
By not getting excited over the angry words of a critic, one becomes superior to the critic. Otherwise, one descends to the same level as the critic. Bear no ill-will towards anyone. That is the golden rule indicated by the Gita. Buddha carried on his mission in this spirit of equanimity and tolerance.
BEYOND THE CRITICS:
It is the quality of great men to face obstacles and opposition with courage and calmness. It is not easy to understand the inner urges of great men or the motives and actions of Avatars. The animating principle of Avatars is infinitely wide. Compared to it, the capacity of the ordinary man is infinitesimal. How can the atom comprehend the infinite? Can an art measure the depth of the ocean? Impossible. Likewise the nature of Divinity is beyond human comprehension. Even the great sages like Vasishta and Vaamadeva could have no full understanding of the Divine.
Instead of trying to understand the Divine, it is better to practice what you have learnt. Jnaathum, Drashtum, praueshtum (know, perceive and commune) are the three stages in the process of experiencing the Divine. What is Jnaathum? The first thing to know about the Divine is that it is all-pervading. There is divinity in every atom and it is all-pervading. There is divinity in every atom and this Vedic truth is now accepted by scientists. The ancients declared: Everything is permeated by Rama (Anthaa Ramamayam, Jagamanthaa Ramamyam). Today the scientists declare everything is made up of atomic particles. In essence, the Atmic (Rama) principle and the atomic particle are one and the same. Only the names differ. Hence everyone should seek the inner Atmic bliss through devotion (Bhakti). Devotion means unsullied love of God. One can follow any of the nine forms of devotion. For the Kali age, the chanting of the Lord's name is the simplest and surest means of realising God. No other means is necessary. Sankaracharya also commenced chanting the Lord's name as the best way to experience the Divine. (Bhagavan sang stanzas from Bhaja Govindam)
It is good to have community singing of bhajans (Bhagavan referred to the bhajans sung in chorus by the devotees from Sri Lanka and said:) When people sing one name with one feeling in unison, the atmosphere gets surcharged with devotion. The devotees from Sri Lanka rendered the bhajans beautifully with one voice. It was a joy to listen to them. When all of you are singing the Lord's name with the same feeling and harmoniously, everyone gets filled with Divine emotions, a magnetic force is generated among the singers which draws the Divine towards them. The bhajans should be sung with complete obliviousness of the body. Devotional fervour is more important than musical skill. The ladies who took part in the bhajans in the morning sang the bhajans whole-heartedly. Their hearts were full of sweetness. Hence sweet music flowed from their hearts.
It is significant that a large number of devotees from Sri Lanka should celebrate their national festival of Buddha Jayanthi at Brindavan in the presence of Swami. It is their good fortune that they have been able to have this celebration here despite all discomforts and inconveniences. The bhajans have sustained them in Sri Lanka.
Bhagavan concluded His discourse with his favourite bhajan: Prema Muditha Manase Kaho: Rama! Rama! Rama! and Subrahmanyam.
Copyright: Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publication Trust, Prashanthi Nilayam, Ananthapur District, A.P. India
Second Edition: 1997