Sri Sathya Sai On: The Game of Life – Part 1

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks

My Dear Students! Embodiments of Divine Love! 

Whatever a man sees in the world rouses fear in him. Detachment alone can free him from fear. Failing to grasp this profound truth, man is allowing his desires to multiply. As long as man is attached to the body, he cannot get over the desire to possess the objects that attract him. A man afflicted with Mamatva (the acquisitive impulse) can never get rid of worries. To overcome this attachment and possessiveness, the ancient sages from Vedic times pursued their studies. The sages believed that self-control promoted humility and that humility was the true index of right education.

Humility and Self-Control – The Essence of Education

Control of the senses is essential for realising humility. Education should be pursued for achieving control of the senses. The ancients esteemed only that system of education which promoted Indriya Nigraha (control of the senses). Control of the senses is called Dama. The vicissitudes of time, place and circumstances have resulted in the term ‘Dama’ getting reversed in today’s student community into the term ‘Mada’ (pride). The reason is the disappearance of humility and reverence from the student community. Indulgence in sensory pleasures has become their primary concern. Students should regard control of the senses as their foremost guiding principle. In the old days, students who achieved self-control received a diploma in true education called Saakshara. The inner significance of this title is that the recipient is one who has mastered his senses and recognised his inherent Divinity. When Dama (self-control) turns into Mada (pride), Saakshara gets reversed and we have Rakshasa (demon) in its place. The student who practised Dama and displayed humility and reverence was regarded as Saakshara and the student who was filled with Mada (arrogance and egoism) was characterised as Rakshasa (demon).

It is not enough if one becomes a mere scholar. Even if one has mastered all the scriptures, but lacks humility and reverence and has no self-control, the ancients regarded such learning as Rakshasa Vidya (demonic knowledge). During Vedic times, the people believed in human values, had faith in God and led pure and sacred lives. The advancement of science and technology has enabled man to produce weapons of mass destruction. Scientists who can manufacture such destructive weapons are unable to secure peace of mind. A scientist who has acquired mastery over the elements is unable to get rid of the fear that haunts him. The scientists do not enjoy the sense of peace and security experienced by common people and they are wasting their lives. 
The educational process today is more concerned with imparting bookish knowledge, while education itself is sought only as a means for earning a living. This link between education and employment should be severed. Education should be the means for acquiring Vijnana (wisdom). The world today consists of two types of persons – those who are consumed by excessive desires and those who have no desires. The desire-less person treats all worldly things with indifference. The desire-filled man will not be satisfied even if he is offered a mountain of gold (Meru). In the Ramayana there was a demonic character named Kabandha, who had his head in his stomach and who used his long arms to catch whatever object he could to fill his stomach. Today, most students seem to be like Kabandha as they are concerned only about earning a living. The primary objective of education is not to ensure how one can fill his stomach. The Lord, who gave a stomach, will not fail to provide the necessary sustenance. Man, who should seek the Atma or God, is searching for Annam (food). In the world today, three-fourths of the people appear to be Kabandhas and not truly educated persons. In all their actions, whether in sports or other fields, they are only concerned with selfish interests.

Deserve Before You Desire

There are today two aspects relating to man which have to be considered. One relates to a person’s rights. The other relates to one’s duties. Most people are concerned only about their rights and engage themselves in struggles to secure them. But they do not recognise their responsibilities. In all the different fields – social, political, economic and even spiritual, men do not recognise their responsibilities and duties. They want high positions and emoluments. The entire life is wasted in the pursuit of such desires. No one considers whether he is performing the quantum of work for the salary he receives, whether he is discharging his duties properly and fulfilling his responsibilities. Such an attitude is prevalent not only in mundane affairs, but also in the spiritual field. Everyone says, “I want God. I want Moksha (liberation). I want to ensure my Yogakshemam (well-being here and hereafter).” But he does not make the necessary effort to achieve these desires. “I have no time for Bhajans. I can’t do any Sadhana (spiritual practice). I have no time to think of God.” This is the attitude. But still one wants God. With such a narrow outlook, how can a man know what his rights are? To get anything you want from a shop, you have to pay the price. But is man, who wants God to ensure his well-being, prepared to pay the price for getting Him? Is he prepared to offer to God the sacrifice he has to make to secure his Yogakshema? Does he offer the love that has to be given to secure peace, prosperity and security? Man today seeks to get something without paying the price for it. But the Lord cannot be deceived. He offers the appropriate reward for each action according to its nature, whether it be gain or loss, good or bad. We will be entitled to expect what we desire from God only if we make the appropriate offering to God. No one is prepared to offer anything to God, but everyone is eager to get something from God.
People go about preaching to others. How far are they practicing what they preach? Many call upon others to make sacrifices. What sacrifices are they making? People expect others to be grateful to them for what they have received. How far are they themselves grateful to those from whom they have received benefits? There is no point in investigating all kinds of things in the world. The first thing one should do is to enquire into the truth about oneself. Only then will he be competent to enquire into the conduct of others. The devotion and faith of devotees today can be compared to a dried leaf which can be blown away by a slight breeze. A true devotee, on the contrary, will remain unshaken like a ball of iron whatever the trials or tribulations he may have to face. Many devotees, who are voluble in their speech, ostentatious in theft display of devotion, are swept off their feet when they encounter any adversity. When their expectations are not realised, they develop all kinds of aversions. They make no efforts to recognise their own faults. Students, for instance, nourish a grievance that Swami is not smiling at them, that Swami does not talk to them, but they do not enquire within themselves why Swami is acting in this manner and in what way they have violated Bhagavan’s injunctions. If they examine their own conduct in this manner, there would be no room for them to entertain such thoughts about Swami. 

To Err is Not Human

Many feel that it is human to err and that Bhagavan should forgive their lapses. In fact, if they are truly human, they should not commit mistakes at all. Even if sometimes a mistake is committed, knowingly or unknowingly, it should not be repeated again. It is a grievous error to think that it is natural for a human being to err. Such feeling should not be entertained at all by anyone. Every man should realise, “I am not weak. I am not an animal. I am not a demon. I am a human.” When a human has this conviction he will not commit mistakes.  When a man is described as Nara, it means that he is the very embodiment of the Atma. The Atma cannot be affected by any taint. It is the attachment to the body which is the cause of bad thoughts, bad desires and bad actions. It is the one who is a slave to his senses, who is a prey to such impulses. To follow the directives of the senses is the mark of an animal. To be guided by the Atma is the sign of a human. No one should attempt to justify his weaknesses and lapses as natural to a human being. They should be regarded as signs of mental debility. You should continually strive to master your senses. When you have truly acquired sense-control, you will experience the power of the Divine within you.
There is a story which illustrates what happens when the agency intended for control of the senses itself becomes a victim of the senses. Once upon a time the government of a country set up a border force to prevent the entry of hostile foreign elements. A camp was set up on the border. A soldier who was keeping vigil caught an enemy intruder entering the country. After catching him, he shouted aloud that he had caught an enemy. The captain, who heard his shout from his tent, asked the soldier to bring the captive to his tent. The soldier said that the man was refusing to come. Then the captain asked the soldier himself to come. The soldier said that the intruder would not let him go! This illustrates the plight of educated students today. Education, which should enable them to acquire mastery over the senses, has made them captives of the senses. Students should not succumb to such weakness. They must develop spiritual strength. They must keep out the bad qualities which afflict them. Those who cannot do this can never become good students. One should regard the senses as potential enemies. The senses should not be allowed to have their own way. They should be subject to one’s control and direction. What is the easiest way to achieve this mastery? Only the spiritual path.


Source: The Game of Life, Discourse 12, My Dear Students Volume 3; Divine Discourse on January 14, 1992 at the Prize Distribution Function, Annual Sports and Cultural Meet, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prashanti Nilayam Campus Auditorium

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