Sri Sathya Sai On: What is True Spirituality?

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks at Prasanthi Nilayam Campus Hostel
The whole world is a stage and every individual is an actor. How should the actors conduct themselves? The primary goal of every actor should be to carry out their duty in the part assigned to them. He should set aside his individuality. How? During the recent festival, the students enacted a play. One student played the role of a Municipal Chairman. In that role he had to behave as a Municipal Chairman and not exhibit his individual talents. These traits should be given a back seat. One should act one’s part well. Who is the director of the cosmic drama? It is the Divine. Every human being is a manifestation of the Divine Will. He has taken birth as a human being to fulfill his duty. He has to manifest his humanness. Every individual has to play his role well and acquit himself worthily.

Maarakam and Taarakam

In the drama of life, there is a mixture of good and bad. Humanness is present in this mixture. Of the two – bad and good – one is known as Maarakam and the other is known as Taarakam. Taarakam implies that one acts on the basis that nothing belongs to him and that, whatever words one utters or whatever action one does, all belong to God and nothing is one’s own. One plays one’s role in this spirit, ascribing nothing to oneself. Maarakam represents the attitude of the actor, who is conscious of the role he is playing and does not forget his individuality in his actions. He does not consider himself as merely acting a part but regards himself as the doer. The difference between the two is that while the former realizes the temporary nature of the part he is playing and is not attached to the things connected with the role, the other (Maarakam) develops attachment to the role he plays and does not wish to part with things connected with the role. In the concept of Taarakam there is no sense of possessiveness. But in Maarakam, one is attached to what he considers as his. Modern man suffers from the sense of possession. This is a negative attitude. He is obsessed with the idea of ‘my’ and ‘mine’. He attaches excessive importance to the body, forgetting the most precious Atmic principle that is within, which will give him enduring bliss. The reason for this attachment is the failure to use the senses properly and to become a slave of the desires prompted by the senses. The eyes, the ears and other sense organs should be used only to perceive sacred things. They should not be used indiscriminately to enjoy whatever pleases them. This is the reason why Swami advises people not to see evil, speak evil, or hear what is evil, but to see what is good, hear what is sacred, and speak what is good. These may seem simple maxims, but they are full of profound significance. In this context, people should constantly discriminate between ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ actions. All bad and unwholesome actions are ‘negative’ in character. They should be eschewed altogether.

Students should realise that what matters when they sing Bhajans is not the tune or the conduct of the songs alone, but the genuineness of the feeling with which they sing the Bhajans. When their hearts are pure and full of deep devotion, the Bhajans will be full of feeling and will appeal to the hearts of the listeners. What comes from the heart is ‘positive’, while what comes from the mind is often ‘negative’. 
Human birth is a God-given gift which should be used with due care. It should be filled with righteous acts. Unfortunately today, human beings misuse all their God-given talents for unholy purposes. The mind should be filled with good thoughts, the heart should be filled with compassion, and the hands should be engaged in selfless service. Man will be caught up in negative behaviour as long as he identifies himself with the body. The moment he considers himself the master of the senses, his actions will be positive. 

Mastery of the senses leads to liberation. Liberation is not something to be achieved in after-life. The striving for liberation must start early in life and proceed continuously. Another term for liberation is ‘emancipation’. That is true freedom – freedom from bondage to the senses. This means that you must carry on all duties without attachment to the fruits thereof. Today, all actions are performed with attachment to the results. For instance, students pursue study of the bioscience with a view to become doctors. There is per se nothing wrong in this. But when they become doctors they should be primarily concerned about the welfare of their patients and not in their earnings. Even in rendering social service, there is often an element of self-interest that vitiates the quality of your service. Instead of it being a positive act of selfless love, the service becomes a negative act carrying the taint of self-interest. No permanent joy can be derived from such negative activities. Students must begin sanctifying their actions from their days at school. They must cultivate good company as part of their education. This is the way to get near to God. The final stage is Sayujyam (becoming one with God). Life is filled with bondages of various kinds – from hunger and poverty to ignorance and disease. To strive for freedom from these bondages is spiritual Sadhana. It means giving up those actions that bind you.

The King and the Shepherd

It is not always easy to get the answers to spiritual questions. There is a story to illustrate this. Once there was a king in Kapila, who was putting questions to various scholars in his kingdom. He was not satisfied with their answers and so he turned them away from his court. A shepherd who heard about this came to the king and said that he was prepared to answer any question put by the king. The king was surprised at his claim and said that if he failed to give a satisfactory answer, he would be beheaded. The shepherd agreed to the condition. Then he told the king that they should exchange places in keeping with the new situation, in which the king would be the learner and the shepherd would be the teacher. The king transferred his robe to the shepherd and sat at his feet, while the shepherd put on the king’s robe and sat on the throne. He then asked the king to put his questions. 

The king’s first question was, “What does God do in this world?” The shepherd answered, “He makes a millionaire a pauper and a pauper a millionaire. Till now I was a poor man. Now I have been made a king with a seat on the throne. From being a king, you are now wearing a shepherd’s clothing. This is what God has done.” The king was fairly satisfied with the answer. 

His second question was: “Whom does God favour? Who is the recipient of His grace?” The shepherd pointed to a light and said, “The light from the lamp sends its rays in all directions. Likewise, God, who is embodiment of all effulgence, sees in all directions, and showers His grace on all. He does not see in one direction alone.” The king was pleased with the answer. 

While the shepherd was wondering what the king’s third question would be, the king addressed him as, “Swami!” and said: “Where is God?” The shepherd brought a cup of milk and asked the king, “Can you say in what part of the milk there is butter? In every molecule of the milk there is butter. Likewise, God is all-pervading. What is it that you have to do to see the butter in the milk? You have to make curd out of it, churn it and then the butter will rise to the top. Likewise, God, who is everywhere, has to be enshrined in the heart, turned into curd by good deeds and churned by Sadhana (spiritual practice). Then there will be direct experience of the Divine.” The king was totally satisfied with the answers of the shepherd. He gave away half of his kingdom to the shepherd and declared that wisdom was to be found more among the common folk than among scholars. There is nothing great in mere scholarship as such. To give intelligent answers to questions out of wisdom gained from daily life is what matters.

Source: Be Positive, Chapter 3, My Dear Students – Volume 5; Divine Discourse on February 15, 1998 at Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, Prasanthi Nilayam

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