‘Dialogue with the Divine’
Questions and Answers Session
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai with the Youth
April 16, 2022 – Singapore
Where is Sri Sathya Sai Baba?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Firstly, let us learn a few things about Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. You should get some of your fundamentals right about Him, His personality and His very purpose. You may feel that the Divine Consciousness manifests itself fully and totally only through avatārs over the ages. But the truth is that it is manifesting in all of us—it is manifesting in the table, chair, and flowers. But there are rare instances in time where the Divine consciousness is capable of manifesting itself fully, without any dilution, without any restriction, without any restraint—those kinds of Divine beings come time and again and they are called avatārs. pūrṇa avatār is that which can express that Divine consciousness in all its potentiality and power.
So, in this way, ‘that’ Divine consciousness took a form, took the most beautiful, and charming form namely Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba—easy to work with, talk to, easy to be with, and easy to love; so that He could attract people towards the great idea of spirituality. So, you must remember that it is Divine consciousness which manifests as a personality on this earth for a particular mission or cause. Many times, we see it the other way round—we say, “Rama is God.” But we don't say “God is Rama.” We say “Krishna is God” because we know Krishna, and we don't know God. So, we don't say “God is Krishna.” It is all relative. Similarly, most of us kept on saying “Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is God”, which is true. But the bigger truth, the real truth is that ‘God is Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.’ God was, is and will be. This is ultimate vedānta.
Secondly, when the Divine consciousness manifested as a persona, as a guru, as a guide, as God—it guided us, it took us on the right path. This is how the journey began. But somewhere as Confucius says, when the disciple is ready, the guru appears. When the disciple is truly ready, the guru disappears. So, at some point in time, we could not have been going on with this idea that, because we are being told so, we are doing—because we have been asked to do, so we are doing— otherwise, we wouldn’t have done anything. So, there the transition started. I think around guru purnima 2019, the real transition happened, when I was actually not really ready. Initially I was never ready for anything. I have always been, in a way pushed into the next thing, without being aware. In fact, I had to go with it. We have committed ourselves to our goal. That is why I say, gurudakṣiṇā does not mean going and offering flowers at the samādhi. gurudakṣiṇā means to revere the word of the guru. That is how it started. And as the time passed, it was becoming more and more obvious that one has to depend on the Divine consciousness because that is the true purpose. And that is how, the training was done. Slowly you must also start depending on your Divine consciousness.
And then you will know that it was always validated by the Presence. But slowly the Presence started merging in the consciousness. So, how do we comprehend this phenomenon now? When you shift water from one vessel to another, it looks different—from blue glass it goes into a yellow glass—but the water is the same. When you drink the water, you know it is the same. Similarly, those who know Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, have naturally related to God through Him. Those who know Jesus, (today is Good Friday), they relate to God that way—for them Jesus is God. At the end what is God is the question—as I said, the Divine consciousness at the vedānta level is Supreme Selfless Love. So, when the transition happened, definitely I felt very unnerved, in a way I felt lost, with a lot of questions. I knew a lot of questions would be asked, a lot of doubts would be raised, which weren’t new to me. There were always umpteen questions and doubts that were raised, but that time it was easy because I just followed blindly—then, there was somebody to follow. But now, suddenly I saw none in front of me. I felt like a child lost in a new place.
But then, I kept listening to my inner conscience. It kept telling me – ‘this is what it is; this is what you must do.’ I couldn’t ignore it because it is so loud and clear. So, I had to just believe in that Divine consciousness. This is what I was told right at the beginning—ten years is this phase, after ten years it won't be so. And I was always under the impression that, after ten years I will go back to being my usual self. But I did not know that this is what was being planned for me. These ten years were like the transition phase where, when an iron remains too close to a magnet for too long, it becomes magnet itself—it gets magnetised. This is ‘Divinity Transferring.’ There are names, ways, things that will change because it is now manifesting through another form and name with its own personalities. To that extent it is different and to that extent it is the same. But as I said, if you taste you would know. By looking at it you will not know. You have to taste it. Tasting it means, you really work closely, trying to understand and not come with pre-conditioned minds. When we come with conditions, we lose God. If we come unconditionally; we find God just with a snap of a finger.
It was a difficult experience in the beginning, but now I know this is how it was supposed to be. You surrender to that Divine, it takes over, it does what it wants to do through you and you don't come in between, which means you don't let your mind come in the way. This is the destiny for all of us, sooner or later. Be prepared! I am not saying you all can claim that it is Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who got inside you, for these are all just a way to explain things. It is actually the Divine consciousness which suddenly awakens within you, and then it starts doing what it needs to do. The personality of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is only a catalyst to bring about this change. Catalyst does nothing—it just starts the reaction; helps you complete the reaction and gets out of the reaction without being changed at all. God is like that; Divinity is like that. It is the catalyst which actually invokes your own inner Divinity to do what needs to be done. To that extent, it is the same, to that extent, it is different. Is this clear? – Ponder over it!
A lot of youth is attached to Sri Sathya Sai Baba. You have said He is in all of us. Where exactly Is He now? Please explain to us?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is a Divine manifestation. If I close my eyes and think of Him, I can still see Him here—but He decides not to talk. He just watches and asks me to go ahead and do what needs to be done. So even today, I do not know where my hands, my movement, my speech or thoughts are going. But I know clearly that it is a little different from what it was earlier. I know I could clearly feel His energy, His ways, His methods, His actions through me. Now I clearly see that it is not the Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as a form who is working through me. It is a neutral entity—the Divinity which is doing. Anytime Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is needed, He is always there, His presence is always there. Because the same Divinity very quickly takes that form and comes back to you. I pray to Krishna—I see Krishna. But it doesn't mean Krishna is all the time working through me. Divinity is there all the time—whichever form we desire to worship, it manifests itself.
Containing Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as a person with a form, in a place is a very limited understanding of His truth. But those who are attached to the form of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and prays to that form, He will manifest to them in that form. Even today, those who pray to Shirdi Baba, can visualise or see Shirdi Baba come to them in that form. He will not confuse them with another name and form—because He wants to attract them on the spiritual path which appeals to them. To somebody else He will come as Jesus, Krishna, Rama, but it is the same Divine consciousness—this we must not forget. Unfortunately, lot of people get attached to a name and form so badly, that they become almost bordering on fanaticism— ‘it is this form which is God and nothing else, anything else is false’—this kind of approach we cannot afford to take. We must be bold, broad minded and we must be ever grateful to Divinity, to have taken a shape, a name and a form, and to have limited itself to an individual identity to guide people on the sacred path— without which, we would have been lost. But it also had a greater purpose to teach—an ordinary person willing to surrender all his selfishness, can also attain extra-ordinary heights—this is the greater lesson.
Descent of Divine is the lesson that He taught with the first avatār. The ascent of human in this vessel (referring to Sadguru) is the bigger lesson. This is what we must all learn—and our true tribute will be this. There is no point in saying, ‘I am a devotee’, and go on talking about what He did, how He did and when He did. By talking like this, neither can you add to His glory, nor can you remove anything from His glory—nothing happens! But what happens to you—you have to ask this question. His glory is glorified in your glory. He is glorified when you realise your Divinity and you walk on this path. So, if you are still attached to a form and a name and you want to serve the form and name, then do what He said—this is all I am trying to say. Your Divinity is there with you. Blessings are there in abundance. Finally, everybody has to walk this path. It's like, when one loses his parents and loses the guidance of his parents—then he has to continue on the path laid out by his parents by remembering the words of the parents.
Similar to how you continued the mission of
Sri Sathya Sai Baba after He left His mortal coil, will you
be handing over to Prema Sai?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – What is Prema Sai, who is Prema Sai, what is the idea of Prema Sai? Each one of us is Prema Sai, as long as that love manifests in us. Don't wait for somebody to come and hand-hold you again. Don't be handicapped by the idea that somebody is going to ferry you across and you can just sit and watch the show—for all I know, it may or may not happen. It is better to be dependent on your own two feet to walk ahead. Don't depend on somebody to come and carry you anymore. What you know is what you know—and therefore you must put your efforts. Neither have I received anything, nor am I handing over anything to anyone. I am just here doing my part. What happens around me is not under my control, nor do I influence it. I am just doing what I have got to do. What happens to you is dependent on you. So, I have not inherited anything nor will I pass on anything to anyone. I am just a catalyst who has come into the system, to do what it does and exit—however the system will go on.
Swami, how does one bring in people, who don't necessarily believe in all of this? How do we continue walking this
path when our friends and family either ridicule us or
don't believe in what we are doing?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – What will make them believe in this? What will make them believe that you are on the right path? What will make them believe that what you are doing is correct? What is that which you should manifest in your life, so that they believe you? At the end, if they really are your true friends and true family members, don't they want to see you happy? Don't they want to see you peaceful? Don't they want to see you satisfied? Or, would they want to see you struggling, anxious and worrying? —it is definitely a ‘No’ if they are your real friends. So, a true friend would want to see you happy. And, if you are happy doing what you are doing, how is it that they should not believe in what you are doing? —provided you are really happy—that is the idea! If you manifest, you express that happiness in everything that you do, because what you are doing is close to your heart—a true friend will find happiness in that. An untrue friend will find fault. That's why, you must define who are your friends, who are your family, who are your relatives, who should be your relatives, who should be your family and friends? If you are joyful doing service and sacrifice, they should find joy. If they are not finding joy and they are finding faults, there is a lesson for you. You know that they are not your real friends. If you continue doing the right thing, those who really love you, will also join you in this path—because they want you to be happy. And if they see you happy doing what you do, they will become a part of what you do.
For introducing this idea to a totally new person, you don't have to start with God. God is a higher concept that comes at a later stage. Start with service, for everybody understands service. Everybody knows there are people hungry; that people need food, shelter, clothing, and education. Are we not doing good to the world? —everybody understands that. Start there and let them discover it for themselves the reason why we do all this. Over a period of time, they will enquire who your master is and from whom the inspiration is coming from. Let them discover it for themselves. You must start with service and goodness. In Germany somebody asked, ‘how do we introduce you?’ They don't understand karma, they don't understand re-incarnation. What can I tell them? My idea was to not introduce myself as master of masters; but introduce as servant of servants.
So, when somebody asks you, you must say – ‘My master is a servant of servants, because He serves people all the time. And I am inspired by this idea of service, therefore I follow Him.’ This is how you should introduce. Don't introduce saying that – if you go and worship my master, you will get a promotion in the next two months; if you go to that place, you will get married in the next six months. Don't give such wrong ideas to people. Simply say – ‘I follow because I was inspired by the idea of service and goodness, and you also can follow.’
If they ask you – ‘Do I need any eligibility to join service?’ – No eligibility, just willingness to serve is enough. ‘Do I need to adorn some dresses like you do or put vibhuti and learn some bhajans?’ – None of these are needed. In fact, a group of devotees from Syria wrote lot of emails to Narasimha Murthy saying that they want to join our organisation, because they have broken up from the main organisation. I wrote back to Narasimha Murthy stating that he must advise those devotees by laying down clearly that, in the first place there is no organisation here to join. Here it is about each individual doing good. Trusts are there to run the institutions—but there is no organisation per se, where one can become a president or coordinator; they should not get confused or fooled that they can get into some position here.
There is no organisation. Each individual is the organisation. For the sake of coordinators’ roles, we have appointed some people—because somebody has to take the query, somebody has to respond—these roles play their part only to that extent. Otherwise, nobody is bigger or smaller or above or below. You must get this clarity in your head. We don't want any confusion. When new people come—they look at you, and they want to know how you work, what is the structure? How do you tell them? – ‘We are all servants. In fact, not even servants. We are the servant of servants. That's how we have been told to live our lives.’ Why should you do service? — ‘because service is the true expression of spirituality. There is no other reason why we do service. If you are spiritual, you must express that spirituality in service. This is the natural way of our life. This is what our gurus taught, so we follow that.’ I am sure anybody with some sanity will not object to this idea. He will definitely say it is a good thought, but whether they participate or not is a different matter. They won’t ridicule you or come in your way if they are good friends. Redefine how you do things and why you do things!
How do we guide and explain to children at home, to walk in the path of Self-realisation, especially during this digital era,
where negativity and distractions are at its peak
and also easily accessible?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – When somebody asked me, ‘my child is always on the video game and watching things on the smartphone’, I asked him, ‘who gave him the smartphone? Did he go and buy it on his own? No, you gave the smartphone. When you are giving, you should have been aware of what it will do to your child. And if you are giving him, which is the need of the hour— online classes are there—you should also take the responsibility of seeing that it doesn't distract the child further.’ So, parents are the reason why their child is what it is. Parents have to walk on the spiritual path. At the same time, they shouldn’t become dictator-like parents, which is the other extreme. So, you have to find the middle path. You must walk on the right path. Don't overexpose them to things—give them things, but limit everything for them. You limit their TV watching time, you limit their sports, limit their entertainment. You have given birth to that child, so it is your prime responsibility to raise the child correctly. You can't pass it on to somebody. You have to entertain the child and keep him engaged on constructive things—that is your prime responsibility.
Therefore, you have to spend as much time with your children. You have to make it entertaining for them to be with you, play with you, talk with you, discuss with you. Just passing on a phone and getting rid of your child because you have lot of office work to do or lot of other things to do, is simply escaping responsibility. Once you have decided to become parents, you have to commit yourself to the idea of parenthood. This is a huge responsibility. If you raise a wrong child, you destroy the society—you raise a right child, you redeem the society. So, as parents, your first and foremost duty is to raise your children correctly. It means you have to spend more time with your children, to prevent them from being over-exposed to social media—you have to give that much of a quality time to your child. You have to engage with the child. Leaving your child with media to entertain him/ her is very wrong. You are responsible for your child.
Swami, it is mentioned in the kaṭhopaniṣad that if one member in the family becomes a jñānī, the others may attain the same. But if we are all born in the same family, aren't we connected through karma? If so, then how do we become realised together?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Yes, members of a family may be connected through karma. Because of some desire of the past, some unfulfilled expectation, we are born in a certain family and we become members of that family. This is how the law works. But when somebody attains jñāna in that family, he inspires the others also to walk that path. It could be that the other family members’ karmas may not permit them to become a jñānī immediately. A mother may give birth to four children—one may become a doctor, one engineer, one lawyer and one loafer—it's possible. But karma has brought them together. However, they have, their own individual karmas, apart from the collective karmas, which also guide them on their path. So, your spiritual karmas would guide you to the Divine path, whereas they might have some more worldly karmas to still deal with. But, your presence in the family will definitely inspire them to walk on this path. They may not attain Self- realisation on the same day as you or in the same birth as you. But you would definitely help them to walk on this path. That's why our scriptures say, even a little bit of effort that you put on this path, never goes waste. It never gets destroyed nor gives any adverse effect. So, a jñānī born in a family or a person who becomes a jñānī in a family will always leave behind inspiration for others. The other family members may or may not be able to overcome their past karmas as quickly as you—but in time, they will also benefit from your association.
Buddha left his family – wife and child. Few years later, when Buddha became Buddha, his wife had by then, overcome all the anger and frustration she had on him—because she was abandoned by him in the middle of the night with a baby to take care of. Years later, she understood the life of Buddha and how he has helped so many people. Now, she was having an adoration—admiration, not anger! When Buddha returns after a long tour, she brings her child Rahul to Buddha. This time, she goes to him not as a wife but as a devotee and surrenders her son also to Buddha. Many of us may not know that Buddha's son also took to the monkhood way. We only know the first part of the story that Buddha abandoned his wife, ran away from duties and things like that—this is just one side of the story. In truth, his wife realises the greatness of Buddha, brings her son and hands him over to Buddha. This is why I say, a jñānī can lead others also on to the sacred path. It may not happen on the same day, same time, but will definitely happen.
How do we surrender without worrying about anything? What happens with the actions of the day and that day’s karma?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – What you have done already in the past, you have no control over it right now, because it is already over. We have three kinds of karmas—one is the past karma, which are there and yet to show its results in this birth; one is the present karma which we are experiencing now as we live; and one is the future karma which we will experience in the future for our present actions. So, when you become a devotee of God, two things happen to you – one is that whatever you are doing now is no longer going to be a karma that you will create consequences for. Why? —because, you are surrendering everything to God. So, one third of your karmas, so to say is taken care of, because here onwards at least, you are not going to go on the wrong path and create misery for yourself in the future.
But, what to do with the other two parts—one which you are already experiencing because these have been done by you in the past and now it is bearing fruits, and so you can't escape? For this, God gives you the strength to go through it. He gives you the right attitude to go through it, and hence you don't complain, you don't cry, you don't blame anybody—instead you accept it, you understand it, you learn from it and grow. Here onwards you don't do anything which again accumulates karma for you, because you surrender and offer it to God. Now there is one set of karma which is still lying there and which is going to bear fruits in the coming times. What happens to them is the next question! Our scriptures state that for the one who becomes a jñānī, all the karmas which are yet to take shape in this life are nullified. It's like a seed that has been burnt in the fire—it no more has the potency to grow. This is the best part of becoming a jñānī—a great encouragement, I would say!
You can’t suddenly stop whatever you are going through right now. But, you will learn how to handle it—spirituality will give you that kind of wisdom. You will no longer create wrong karmas and suffer in the future—this will also be taken care of. The only unfinished part is the karma which is going to come someday or the other in your life. Our scriptures say that for a jñānī, these karmas are destroyed. Destroyed in the sense, the potency of the karma is nullified. God, who is the ultimate distributor of our karma and its consequences, takes care that you are pardoned.
So, in spirituality, why should you chant the name of God and believe in God—so that you don't create wrong karmas for the future, and you are able to undergo present karmas with the right attitude of equanimity, and your karmas which are yet to find fruition in your present life are nullified by His grace.
What does chanting the name of God mean? It means being true to that Divinity and doing the things that Divinity will be pleased with. Mechanical chanting of God’s name will not help. Many people write God’s name (likhita japa), while their mind is all the time on their business, or some other thing except God—by doing such things you are actually creating karma for yourself. You are cheating God and cheating yourself. So, the idea is to surrender to God and do everything for God's happiness—this is the idea of devotion. Chanting the name of God will make you remember God, and remember the idea that you must surrender, so that you do everything to please God. This is why chanting the name is important. However, chanting the name does not guarantee that your karma will disappear. Chanting helps only to the extent of how you use it to surrender to God—to that extent it reminds you to surrender.
The youths are aware that we are here to clear karma. Does marriage incur karma? Should youth get married?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – If you get a good wife, you can get married, because marriage is an integral part of how God has designed the whole society—that's how this world works. We say – dharma, artha, kāma, mokṣa, which means through dharma – righteous ways of living, one must earn wealth and fulfil one’s righteous desires and ultimately attain mokṣa. The different stages of āśrama – brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, sannyāsa are there, but the right partner at the gṛhastha stage is important. If it is a wrong partner, it becomes an obstacle in the path to mokṣa. So, how do you choose your partner is the question! Should you even marry or not? —Yes, you can marry if that is going to help you to grow spiritually and attain the goals of life. How do you know if it is the right person or wrong person? In our scriptures, we have the science of astrology that we can use—because this is a proven science to know how two people will go together, how karma will be incurred based on their past, based on whichever stars they were born, and therefore certain guṇas or qualities that they have.
You might suppress your guṇas to impress the girl, but eventually it will all resurface. Suddenly she will say that you have changed after marriage. You are not the one whom she married, which is true because you acted like somebody else to get married. So, if you don't have to act, yet the other person accepts you as you are, then it is a better partnership. Similarly, the other person should not put up a pretentious front, just to get accepted by you. Because, at a later time, all these guṇas will resurface and you will suffer with each other. So, don't pretend, don't artificially try to impress and get married.
If you meet a person, meet a few times, meet the parents—in fact, remember marriages are between two families, it is not just two people. The two families have to be comfortable—take this into account. I am sure, if you pray to God, He will show you the right person. And, as I said, don't pretend, don't be artificial. This is what happens in most of the countries—especially, I have seen in very developed countries, even in India it happens now. The parents are not involved at all, children find each other—this is good, it's ok, there is no wrong in this. But, how do they find each other? — by trying to look physically attractive, by doing things to please the other person just to get accepted. But, after two years or three years, they can't act anymore. They will become what they are, and that's when the rift begins.
So, if you really know who you are and who the other person is, accept each other for whatever both of you are, and then get married consciously. This will prepare you for what you are getting into and you will know how to handle it. Most of the times, people fool each other and get into marriages. The other option is to choose astrology and use the right kind of predictions. Choose a real astrologer and not a fake one. Don't go for online astrology. Find somebody who really is wise, and who can guide you. Last option which I don't want you to exercise often is – you can ask your guru.
Mr B N Narasimha Murthy – For this question, ‘How do I know if it is the right partner for me?’ – Socrates said, ‘If you get the right partner, you will be happy. Otherwise you will become a philosopher like me.’
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – No, that is not how it is. Earlier, they used to go to a guru, and request the guru to guide. Even today it happens—I met three families where either the boy or the girl had found their partner and wanted to ask me if it was fine to go ahead. In whichever the case, I felt that they were good people who can learn from each other and grow, even if they were not devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I asked them to go ahead. I will guide only if you ask sincerely and are willing to listen to me.
One day, one fellow landed up with a marriage card, and he said – ‘Please bless my marriage, I am getting married.’ If he extends a card in darśan, what should be my response? Can I tell a ‘no’ and tear the card into two and tell him not to get married, because it was dangerous and not right for him? What will I do, if the marriage card is printed and everything is already decided? All I can do is, raise my hand and say – ‘Good, be happy and have a good life’, give him some akṣatas and let him go.
After six months the fellow writes to me – ‘I brought my card to you, I sought your blessings, I even put your photo on the stage on the day of my marriage. If you knew this was not going to work, you could have stopped it in some way. What were you doing?’ What do I tell him? – Had I torn that card in public and told, ‘Don't get married,’ he would have anyway not accepted me. He would have gone ahead with what he wanted; and now he is telling me, you should have stopped me at that time. The truth is, if you are willing to listen to me, I would have stopped you then and there. There are many families even here, with whom I have been sometimes aggressive, adamant, or angry when they were not listening to me or when they were going wrong. I had put down my foot.
At that point in time, they might not have liked me—but today they are happy. Similarly, there are other families whom I couldn't save, because I was not comfortable telling the truth, because they were not ready to listen to the truth. If I had told, ‘this is not going to work’, they were not going to accept it. Later on, when they suffered, they just suffered. What can I do about it?
So, if you are totally surrendered to a guru, ask the guru a question, and whatever he says, just follow blindly. If you have not surrendered, don't go to the guru at all. Because whatever he says you are not going to like it. Otherwise go to the astrologer or as I said, best is to spend some time with the family, with each other and don't pretend to be somebody else just to get married. Be what you are and despite that if people accept you, then go ahead and get married. You are all good children; I am sure somebody or the other will always like you.
Our next question is about maintaining a balance of everything in life. Many youths are working late hours or having long school hours. How do they be successful both at work,
school and then spirituality?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Be true to yourself. Your thought, word and deed should be in harmony. The integrity of your thought, word, and deed is key to your success, both in personal life and in professional life. If you say something and do something, then you are not in harmony, and you will not be successful. The first thing you should do is to get your thought, word and deed aligned, both in the personal front and professional front. If you are in a job which you think is not allowing you to have this integrity, quit the job by all means. Why suffer and make others suffer? What is important in your life? Is God important or is job important? – you have to ask yourself. The harmony of thought, word and deed is key to all success. How are we so successful both in service and spirituality? —because we are absolutely clear—our thought, word and action are completely aligned. We are not doing it pretentiously; we are not doing to impress anybody; we are not doing with the worry of how we will do it. We just simply surrender and do what is right at this point in time–that is why we are so successful. Anybody who comes and meets us, talks to us, is convinced in five minutes, because they know that we are clear; we are so sure about everything.
There is no pretention, no falsity, no artificiality in what we are doing. The same principle applies even in family, personal, professional, social, and spiritual life. manas ekam, vacas ekam, karmanyekam – if get all these things together, everywhere you will be happy and successful. Whenever you have to compromise this—you can rather quit the job, quit the family, quit whatever, if it does not allow you to be in harmony.
Given that human potential is infinite and also limitless, how do we achieve the peak of our potential, so that we can also be successful in everything we do?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Human potential is completely utilised when you turn it into Divine. This is when your potential becomes infinite because now the Divine operates through you. So, do you mean Divine will fly a plane because I am a pilot? – Yes, it will. You mean to say Divine will teach my student because I am a teacher? – Yes, it will. You mean Divine will do the operations in my theatre? – Yes, it will—because you have allowed the Divine to take over and do. You will be a better surgeon, better doctor, better driver, better teacher, better speaker, dancer...etc. Take anything and allow the Divine to act through you, you will do a wonderful work. This is the inner meaning. In our work also, most people have no exposure to this kind of work, nor an idea of what is being done. But they simply work—they are not qualified technically to do most of the work, but they are able to achieve great things which big organisations with all their man power and skills can't achieve. Because these people have simply allowed the Divine to work through them, and they become simple instruments surrendered in the Divine hands.
Look at the things that are achieved—it’s impossible otherwise for a human to do it! That is why people come and see and say—all this is God’s doing. I say ‘yes’, God is working through different forms. When you have surrendered to the Divine will, you will be able to achieve great things. What is the potential, our students, who just got educated and graduated, hold? —they just learnt this one trick – Surrender. You must allow the Divine to do things—you will be still doing it; your hands will be moving; your mouth will be speaking, but the source of it is different—it is coming from somewhere else. This is why your potential becomes infinite. This is why Swami Vivekananda said, ‘You are potentially Divine.’ All humans are potentially Divine, but to realise that potential, you must allow your humanness to pass, and allow Divinity to take over and manifest itself. This is spiritual process. A spiritual person will be successful in the world also. A worldly successful person may not succeed in spirituality. But the person who succeeded in spirituality will definitely do well in the world, like Janaka Maharaja. This is the key. So, spirituality is most practical and useful.
During the current pandemic, work schedules have become very erratic, especially for jobs like – security, healthcare or uniform groups. How do we adhere to satvic, rajasic and tamasic times for spiritual practices as mentioned in the
‘Master the Mind’ and kaṭhopaniṣad?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Yes, I understand that at these chaotic times, everybody cannot follow these things. But as I said, the time and discipline that I mention is so that you have some routine and you have some commitment towards these practices. But the truth is that, anytime when you have satvic thoughts, it is satvic time only—anytime can be converted into a satvic time. On the day of Shivaratri, we sit and sing bhajans the whole night. It is actually a tamasic time. But it becomes satvic by the very virtue of what you are thinking, saying or doing at that time. So, why is a certain discipline important in the initial stages? It is important because, those times are most conducive to do a certain type of work. But with these kinds of erratic schedules, anytime can be turned into a satvic time. Because you can think of God at any point in time and whenever you think of God it becomes satvic time. So, whenever you find time between all your activities and schedules, try to spend some time for God. And I keep telling you – if you can't do much, take a minute of every hour of work and sit down in a quiet corner or just take a walk and think about God or think about good things and come back and continue your work. Even if you have a big meeting, you have to have a washroom break or water break or coffee break—you can just get up and go. During those one or two minutes, think of God instead of thinking about the meeting. In this way, you can convert all the small amount of satvic times together into an effort to live in that Divine thought. Time discipline is important, it is good—but if that kind of a routine is not possible for you, then you can find any time to think of God and good things and keep reminding yourselves to do it.
Swami, our next question is a follow up – How do we keep thinking of good things especially after a long day at work? Some of us turn to YouTube, Netflix, instead of listening
to Divine discourses or something spiritual.
How do we fight that urge and stay focussed?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – You have to train the mind and make it like good things—like a child who has to be trained to like certain food over a period of time, because initially the child refuses, due to its new taste. This is why a discipline and schedule is important. You have to make a decision that after coming back from work, you will need to spend the first 20 minutes listening to something spiritual. Initially, you might have to force yourself, but over a period of time, you will develop a taste for it. And then you will realise – ‘Oh! What a waste of time if I simply watch something which has no bearings on my spiritual life or is not going to help me in any situation. It is just time wasted.’ That's what Sage Narada says – ‘Don’t waste even half a moment in this world. Time is so precious to be used only for spiritual work.’ Our mind is to be trained like a child who does not like certain things initially, but you have to go over and over again, and keep cajoling and coaxing the mind to spend time in something spiritual. For this, initially a disciplined routine can help. I don’t mind, even if you fall asleep watching kaṭhopaniṣad. Even if you don't listen to the whole episode, it is still worth it, than watching anything else before falling asleep, because at least some of the thoughts of kaṭhopaniṣad must have gone inside your subconscious mind—better than watching something on Netflix which is very worldly and which might disturb your peace. So, train yourself over a period of time. You need to put in efforts for your own benefit and growth.
Why did we forget that we are God? Why is it so difficult to realise this, when our very birth’s entitlement is God-realisation?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Truth is that we have never forgotten that we are God. We have always known that we are God and hence we are beyond everything mundane. But this knowledge is clouded—clouded with something else, which we call upādhis. An illusory cover has been put on us, which shows us as something else—and this cover is our body. The moment the soul enters a body, its identity changes. It is defined by its body, with a name and a form, and this clouds the vision. Therefore, we have to get rid of body consciousness to realise the truth and this process is spirituality. When you are born, this is what happens—people identify you with a name and a form. Conversely, Madalassa sang to her children – ‘you are suddhosi (pure), buddhosi (enlightened), niranjanosi (spotless); you are not this body, you are the Divine’, and her children grew up to become jñānīs. Unfortunately, most of the people in the world are ajñānīs, and so when you end up in their lap, they teach you ajñāna. Therefore, you have to pull yourself out of this by overcoming the body consciousness and getting into satsang – association of good people and developing the firm conviction that your body is just the outer shell or the cover, but the inner resident is Divinity. You have to remind yourself of this a million times. When you breathe, this is what is being conveyed to you – soham, soham – I am ‘that’, I am ‘that’, all the time. Pay attention! This is the work that needs to be done.
The next question is about working as Sai—it seems like a tall order! Complete selflessness, and pure compassion – are there baby steps that we can take to slowly reach there?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – It's very funny because it is actually not a tall order. It's the easiest thing to do. To be who you truly are is the easiest thing to do. Pretending to be somebody you are not is a difficult thing. I think you are all pretending to be somebody else all the time. It's actually difficult, and I realise this. I have to tell you from my own experience. The moment you want to live as Sai, you just give up all the desires and attachments and all your individual ideas, you become so light and full at the same time. And then, if you check, what you have not achieved by becoming that—you will see that everything has been achieved. As I said, the Divine starts working through you. So, remind yourself of the benefits that will come by becoming ‘that.’ It will encourage you to put some efforts. Life becomes so light. No matter how big the projects are, I don't really worry about it. I just worry for what I need to worry right now. Next moment, I am not worried about it. If it happens, it is great; if it doesn't happen, it is still alright. Both ways, we will keep working towards what needs to be done. Therefore, you put in your efforts. This path to become Sai is to keep reminding yourselves, how much of a little control you have on anything. It is all Divine will. You are coming in the way of the Divine will; your mind is interfering and disturbing that will. Otherwise, your life could have been so easy for you. So, tell yourself the benefits of what comes when you live as Sai. Sai means your true Self.
Remind yourself of the benefits; and probably your mind will get encouraged to put in efforts. Get rid of unwanted desires. To begin with, get rid of rajasic desires. You must look good, you must dress well, you must have a good house, car – everything is ok; but draw your lines. If you don't draw the line, the circle keeps extending; and it becomes like a moving target, which you can never achieve. So, draw a line— ‘this is where I should be comfortable; these two rooms are good enough for my family; I don't need eight rooms; these two cars are good enough for the entire family; I don't use all the six cars lined up in the garage; this much of wealth in my bank account is good enough; I don't need to pile up more; if I work towards next month, I will again gain more wealth; so, let some of my wealth go towards something which is useful for others.’ This way you will start getting ready. You will see that your coffers are never empty; because God loves filling up the coffers of the ones who quench somebody else's thirst. You will see these kinds of people next to me— no wealth, no money, but so much work has flown through them, so much money has passed through their hands, so many people's lives have been improved—because they just allowed it to be. In the process, they were also taken care of.
Just to give an example – The worries about my food, my clothes, my stay, and my people to take care of me, have left me. Yet, now all my needs are taken care of in a much better way. To buy a shirt worth 5,000 rupees, I will think 5,000 times. Now I don't think. Whatever comes my way is mine—and I don't think, ‘Oh, these people have given’ and develop ego or guilt; I don’t even think that I should not accept things from everybody—this idea doesn't exist. At the same time, I don't have any demands to say that I should accept only this – both are gone. Life is so easy, so peaceful, so blissful. I just do my duty; I want this, I don't want this – rāga, dveṣa – both don't exist for me. Everything comes as Divine will and anything that is excess is not mine. This is what our scriptures say—anything that is excess is not yours. If you don't need something, it is not yours. Even though it is in your name, it is not yours—you must always remember this! By following this, you will never go empty.
Ultimately you just need a bed to go back to and sleep in peace. The whole house does not put you to sleep. Neither a large bedroom nor the cosiest bed puts you to sleep—a clean conscience puts you to sleep. A clean conscience is what that goes missing when you try to do things aping others— a clean conscience is enough for us, nothing more than that. If you realise the potency of this kind of life, the power and the beauty of this life, you will not trade it for anything. If you were to ask me if I would take up a job that pays a billion dollars—I will not go. Tempt me with anything of the world—I will not go. I know the value of what I have; I will not trade it for anything in the world. This is why Mother Theresa said, when somebody asked her – ‘How could you clean that leper who is rotting? I will not do it for a billion dollars’—she said – ‘Nor would I. I am doing it for Jesus. I am not
doing it for a billion dollars.’ This is how you will learn to know the value of things in life; and you will not trade it for anything else. So, remind yourself and train your mind in this manner and keep encouraging it to become selfless.
Swami, while we try to be selfless, we are always put to test. We work hard to ignore situations that do not bring us to God, we may think that we are surrendering. But, how do we know the distinction between ignoring a situation and truly surrendering?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – When you are not attached to something, and you are ignoring it, then you have surrendered. When you are attached to it, in the sense, you are afraid that it will bring pain to you and that is why you are ignoring it, then you have not surrendered. Whatever the outcome, good or bad, you have to overrule that or ignore that without being attached. Suppose I give you an offer of a million dollars for a particular thing—would you ignore it? If you need it, you would not ignore it; and you will say – ‘I have got this message from God to take this up.’ Suppose you have an opportunity to sacrifice the million dollars for a greater cause, then you would say – ‘No, No, there are greater responsibilities I have. God wants me to do this and do that, how can I do this too? I will ignore it and I will let go of it.’ – This is not true surrender, because you are attached to something, you have fear, you don't want to confront it, that's why you are ignoring it. This is your ego. If you are able to confront it, yet let go of it, then it is surrender. Everybody's conscience knows what it is to ignore and what it is to surrender. Sometimes you are helpless about not being able to do something and you name it as surrender. Just because you label it, it won't become surrender.
The truth is, you are helpless, so you are not able to do it and now you call it as surrender to God – this is not right. Even if you are in complete control, you have a choice to make, yet you have allowed it to happen the way it is supposed to happen – this is surrender. Helplessness is not surrender. We say that Draupadi surrendered, but the truth is that it was helplessness. If it was surrender, the moment she came to the court and knew what was happening, she would have straight away called to Krishna saying – ‘Krishna, you alone can help me; these people are absolutely of no use to me.’ But Krishna was not her first choice. She prided herself of being a queen, so she called upon her husband. She prided herself of being a daughter-in-law of the kuru vanśa, so she called upon the elders. Finally, she knew that nobody was helping; still she thought that she can protect herself, because she was a kṣatriya too, but she couldn't help herself. Only then did she seek Krishna’s help. This is helplessness.
So, you define yourself – ‘I am doing it because I am helpless, I don't want to confront it, I want to avoid it’—then it is not surrender. When you are willing, you are capable of confronting it, able to accept it, do what is required, yet you allow it to be the way it is – this is surrender. We all know the
difference between the two. Just ask yourself, within, it will tell you – when you have an uneasy feeling, you know that it is ignoring. When you have an easy feeling, you know it is surrender. Uneasiness inside you tells you that you are not doing it right.
How does our past affect us today? Fear of pain and desire for pleasures, make us do bad things, because of imprints in our subconscious. Even when we are working hard to focus on the truth, why are those fears and desires still there?
Is it because of past guṇas?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Yes, guṇas are there; and everybody is born with guṇas; and our lives are guided by our guṇas. A soldier is so courageous, not because he is actually courageous. It is because, his guṇas make him go and fight. If he doesn't fight somebody, he won't sleep in peace— guṇa is like that. One may dub it as courage, but the truth is—his guṇa to fight people forces him to go and fight. It doesn't matter which side he is fighting for—he has to fight. So, guṇas push us to do things—this is the truth.
How to overcome these guṇas? This is what you have to work on. Your fear, your greed, your anger, your frustration, ambition—all these guṇas are coming from the past. But in the right company, you can slowly work on these wrong guṇas and at first replace it with the right guṇas; and then get rid of all the guṇas and go beyond, which is called guṇātīta. So, this is possible only when you are in good company and you are imbibing and following the good and noble people in society. It requires efforts, but then Krishna said, uddharedātmanātmānaṃ – you have to put efforts to raise yourself. You are your own friend; you are your own enemy. So, you have to put the necessary spiritual effort; nobody will do it for you. By being in the company of the good, you have to work on your past vāsanās and guṇas and pick up new ideas, good feelings, and guṇas, to transcend the old ones. Replace the undesirable old stuff with better ones!
After listening and practising the teachings from 'Master the Mind' and kaṭhopaniṣad, to a certain extent, we are able to let go of self-identification and accept the Divine energy working through us. And then, immediately we feel much lighter,
right after putting it into practice. As we do it continuously,
that lightness just keeps on increasing.
Does it mean we are improving?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Yes. Your continuous undisturbed peace is the measure of your spiritual success. That peace, that lightness should come and stay forever without getting diluted, disturbed—because you can't improve beyond that. Absolute peace is the ultimate. You can't improve that absolute peace. You can't become more peaceful than the peace of God. I have already experienced—so, I know this is what it is. You should feel like that peace all the time. Any time you are not feeling like that, you know that you have deviated, you've gone away. Hence, all the time you must ensure to come back to the state of absolute peace.
Swami, over the past few years, with COVID and then the situation in Ukraine, there is lot of fear, poverty and hunger in the world right now. And I think, youth fear and worry that, though we are praying, nothing is improving in our opinion.
What do we do?
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Every prayer makes two things happen – changes within you and changes without you. Changes without you may not be immediate, but changes within you are happening—you are feeling compassion for them, so there is some change within you. At least given a situation like this, you would not like to create a war, you won't support war—this clarity you have received. There are several factors that cause a war—the truth is that you don't have direct control over these causes. The best you can do is, you pray, and at least you feel better, you feel that you have done some bit for the world by praying sincerely for their welfare.
When something is in your control, by all means you should do it. But if something is beyond your control, don't take responsibility for it and keep feeling bad, because it is beyond you. There are so many factors why the world is going through what it is going through today. But whatever you can do, please don't shy away from doing it for the sake of the world. Anything that you think will help the situation—please go ahead and do it. Many Ukrainian people shifted from Ukraine to Poland as refugees. The youth in Poland, Italy and UK, got together, and extended support for these refugees.
Even if you gave some food, water, or clothing to somebody who has lost everything—that is still ‘help.’ Many people from around the world also extended support. But, if nothing can be done, at least you can pray. And, as I said, there are many factors and forces at work. You cannot change those factors all of a sudden. I would wish that nobody should be hungry in this world. I would wish that nobody should fall sick and die in misery. I would wish that nobody should have any pain and sorrow. But can I control all of these at this point in time? No—we cannot control all of these. World has always been a place full of misery—be it the Ukraine war or the COVID situation. World wars have happened even before you were born. World has always been like this. Selfishness and greed have always caused trouble and sorrow to others. The best solution is, first, you should ensure that you are not greedy and selfish—this is in your control. Second — whatever your sphere of influence is—the people around you, you should inspire them not to be selfish—to this extent at least you can help the world.
Somebody said – ‘I am not able to sleep because I can't bear the pain of Ukrainians.’ I said – ‘You got to know about the Ukrainians, but before Ukrainians went through this trouble, some Syrians were going through it, some Lebanese were going through it, some other countries were going through it. Today you are aware, and hence you are feeling guilty. This is unnecessary. You pray and help in whatever way you can.’ The best you can do is, at least you don’t become one of those war- mongers—this is most important.
Thank you Swami. We hope our questions were ok.
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – I am very happy, as long as you practice any of these. svalpam apyasya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt – a little bit of understanding of this dharma, this truth, can redeem you of the greatest of the fears of life. The fear of me, myself, and mine disappears once you know even a little bit of this dharma. But to know this dharma, you have to practice this dharma. Only by being ‘that’ you know ‘that.’ So, put efforts to be ‘that.’ Even little efforts every day will not go waste; nothing will be destroyed. It will add on and it will help you some day. So, don't give up on this path. Keep walking, keep trying! It is not necessary that you must achieve success on the very first day. But, be rest assured that whatever efforts you put on this spiritual path, will never go waste. It will always come to your help, some day or the other, you never know. Hence, keep doing good; remember always what is true/ real and what is unreal and don't get entangled in the unreal. Try to attach yourself to the real truth and keep yourself focussed. This is what you can do—you have 20, 30, 40 years of a beautiful life ahead where you can do so much good to the world. Be mindful of this opportunity and boon that you have got—in fact, you have received guidance so early, in such depth. You must make the best use of it—this should be your effort. This much, if disciples do for themselves, all the gurus will be happy—they all will be pleased. Narada says, the existence of a jñānī makes devatās happy, your forefathers, ancestors become delighted thinking, ‘Oh, there is somebody who is walking on this path.’ So, be a source of joy for Gods, your ancestors and everybody around you by walking on this path.