A SIMPLE LIFE
Sai Baba lives in a small room about three meters square located in the main temple of the spiritual community where he has created housing for tens of thousands who visit him seeking physical, emotional, mental and spiritual help. In addition he has two other such rooms which are empty except for one chair on which he sits while giving interviews to groups of people who come for help. He is imprisoned in these rooms, He can never leave them without a throng of people forming around him hoping to get his attention. There he lives and eats. There he takes suffering and spiritually thirsty people for private interviews. There he receives the various administrators of his schools, colleges and universities, the various engineers, architects and directors of the school buildings and hospitals which he is continuously building and maintaining. His life is one long example of service to mankind. He has nothing to take or gain from anyone. He accepts no gifts for himself. I have seen him often refuse even flowers, incense, food or honey which people offer him as gifts. He has everything in his power. What could he ever want? (His answer is «our love and sincere spiritual effort»). His food is our happiness. He wants to see all beings happy. He eats little if at all. Dr. Bhagavatam, one of the great scientific minds of India, who had the grace to be close to Baba for many years, calculates that he eats less than 1000 calories a day. Many have reported that he does not sleep at all. Others that he sleeps only an hour or two.
THOUSANDS OF LETTERS
Everyday he receives a large sack with literally hundreds of letters and telegrams asking for blessings and help with some aspect of human life. Some say that Baba reads all these letters. Others claim that he does not need to read them in the way that we read. The moment he receives them he is immediately aware of their content. I personally believe that he is aware of the contents the moment these thoughts are formed in our minds, even before we put them on paper and send them to him. I have seen in a number of cases that a person receives his «answer» as soon as writing the letter, long before it reaches Baba on the physical plane. This may seem strange or foolish to you that I believe this, but consider things in a different way. If in fact here is a cosmic mind, a mind which is made up of all the individual minds on earth, this cosmic mind will have a conscious and subconscious relationship with each personal mind. This universal mind will be similar to that of our subconscious mind, which continually and automatically supplies all needs to each and every cell in our body without exception. It supplies the food, oxygen, hormones, and antibodies that they need to grow and survive. Each cell exists within us and serves us and our purposes. Our mind in return cares for the cell on every level. It would be difficult to speak about the consciousness of the cell as separate from our consciousness. In the same way the cosmic mind is always conscious of everything which is happening to us (as cells in its cosmic body). Thus we exist in this cosmic mind and are cared for by it. It supplies our every need. All this happens automatically, in a reflexive way. In the case that some part of our body is really in serious trouble, we will become consciously aware of that and send the necessary help to that part of the body. Thus if we can imagine that Sai Baba is connected to that cosmic mind in some way, or that he is in some way a symbol of that Cosmic Being here on earth, then it is only natural that every thought and need that we have will be heard and answered automatically and instantly by that cosmic power. It all depends on our faith and concentration. Christ said that a little bit of faith could remove mountains. The «answers» which are usually received are seldom in the form of a letter from Sai Baba. He does not work on that level. The person with the problems, question or doubt will receive some kind of message through some event, some feeling which he will have, through a dream, an experience in meditation, something which he will read, a conversation he will have or some kind of miracle which will solve the problem or settle the question. So, while Baba is incessantly working with thousands of people (around five hundred thousand people at large feasts or conferences, he is simultaneously dealing with thousands or millions of other people on an astral level. It is very difficult for us to comprehend this possibility. The closest thing we have to it are giant computers which, although they are making millions of calculations each second, have time left over for other unrelated work that you might give them. It would be best to leave this question alone for each to resolve personally in his mind.
SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES
Baba personally guides all of the activities which take place through his organization. The building, the operation of the schools, hospitals etc. All the important decisions pass through him. Every moment of his life is one of service. His purpose is the transformation of the character of mankind, from selfishness and fear to love, peace, truth and right action. He has absolutely no private life. He exists for us. His basic emphasis is on education of the young. He has established a large number of schools, colleges and universities all over India. These schools and universities train the children in material life and spiritual life. They learn to be scientists, teachers, businessmen, artists, politicians, etc., while at the same time learning to be ethical in all their actions and to remain focused on the spiritual paths upon which harmony in this world is based. Baba has said that «The way to immortality is through morality». I have personally observed these young men and women who have been trained in these schools. They are a real example of self-confidence and humility combined. They are very capable, hard working, clear thinking and yet sensitive, ready to serve and help in any capacity.
VILLAGE UPLIFTMENT PROGRAM
Baba has started a program called VILLAGE UPLIFTMENT in which these students and other devotees go into the villages (the Sai Organization has adopted 6000 Indian villages) and dig proper sewage systems, educate the villagers in sanitation procedures, dietary guidelines and peaceful and loving behavior. Villages are aided on both a material and spiritual level improving the quality of life there. In addition to these already established activities in the Village Uplift Program, the Sai Organization decided at its IVth World Congress in November 1985 to employ the following supplementary activities:
1. Efforts will be made to dig better wells for more pure water supply.
2. Mobile mini technical schools will travel from village to village educating the inhabitants in various useful trades.
3. A nonformal educational system for young girls who do not attend school, teaching them how to read, child care and household management.
4. Pamphlets will be distributed on health and hygiene.
5. Guidance in more effecting planting.
6. Promotion of handicrafts, toy making, wood work, making soaps, oils and candle-making units.
7. Start sports programs and drama troupes.
8. Stimulate contact between individuals of the various social classes so as to overcome caste barriers.
9. Mobilize the youth of various city slums for constructive work.
10. Assistance to villagers with soil testing.
11. Veterinary camps in which animals may be checked for their health.
12. Encourage the villagers to develop fruit bearing and timber yielding trees.
13. Facilitate the flow of money from state and central banks for the rejuvenation of rural areas.
14. Clearly inform villagers of various governmental plans which may be available to them.
15. Help Villagers to form cooperative stores.
16. Help schools to supply better quality protein foods to students.
SELFLESS SERVICE PROJECTS
Baba gives great emphasis to love and selfless service as did Jesus 2000 years ago. He encourages all his followers to get involved in some type of service to society. He has said that «Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray». And that «Service to Humanity is worship of Divinity». He encourages oneness. «Unity is Divinity». Some of the types of service activities taken on by Sathya Sai organization are:
1. Medical, dental and health camps where people are offered free medical assistance. All doctors and nurses work on a voluntary basis for the good of humanity.
2. An anti-drug and alcohol program which offers alternatives to those who have developed dependencies on these substances.
3. Medical clinics and hospitals are being established in various areas of India which offer free or very cheap medical services.
4. Blood donation drives in which devotees and others are encouraged to donate blood for those who need it.
5. First aid training seminars are established in various areas.
6. Service to the elderly and orphans who are lonely and without support.
7. Assistance to abused women.
8. Relief efforts during local or national emergencies such as floods, fire, earthquakes or tidal waves. These include food, tents for living, and medical assistance, as well as moral support.
9. Assistance at prisons and refugee centers.
10. Service to physically and mentally handicapped persons.
11. Visiting ill persons in hospitals.
12. Feeding the poor and clothing the needy and homeless.
13. Assistance to slums and underprivileged areas.
All the above projects are in progress not only all over India but also conducted by devotees all over the world in countries as varied as America, Canada, Mexico, Australia, England, Malaysia, Italy and Greece. Not that each country has all these programs. Baba believes much in service and unity. For him this is the way in which the various spiritual truths of spiritual oneness will become manifest on the emotional and physical level. Knowing or believing that we are all one spirit does not help us much if we do not manifest this oneness as love and service on the emotional and material level.
STRENGTHENING OUR SPIRITUAL BASE
Sai Baba has also instructed his followers to help themselves and others on the Spiritual path with various programs for «Strengthening of Spiritual Base». Included in this program are various activities:
1. «Sadhana Camps» in which spiritual aspirants can come together for a day or more for more intense and concentrated spiritual practices such as chanting, prayer, meditation and spiritual discussion.
2. Study circles in which sections of various spiritual teachings are read and discussed by all the members in the group so as to stimulate deeper and more complete understanding of these elusive spiritual truths. In these study groups no one individual plays the role of teacher. All are searching together for the truth.
3. Classes are sometimes offered in meditation.
4. Publications are made available to the public concerning various spiritual techniques.
5. Group devotional prayer and chanting sessions are held on a regular basis so that people may have an emotional channel to God.
6. Lectures and seminars are given to spread the message of love and service and spiritual truths.
7. Films and dramatic and musical presentations with spiritual messages are offered to the public.
Baba has also inspired a program called «ceiling on desires» which encourages all to spend less time, money and energy on ephemeral desires. Money which would have been spent on those desires then can be used to create scholarships for poor students who want an education.
Another program which has gained much interest among the younger Sai devotees, is called EDUCATION IN HUMAN VALUES. In this program, human values such as love, compassion, honesty, purity, service, right action, peace, etc., are discussed and practiced in life.
BASIC ACTIVITIES OF SAI CENTERS
The recommendations of the IVth World Conference of Sai Devotees which was held at the spiritual community in Puttaparthi, India, in November of 1985, recommended to all Sai Centers around the world to concentrate on the following goals:
1. Devotional group singing (in whatever religious context is common in that part of the world).
2. Educational programs on values and spiritual life for children.
3. Selfless service to the community.
4. Study circles for deepening faith and understanding.
5. Projects which may add to national health and welfare programs.
6. Strengthening the spiritual base of society.
7. Propagating the unity of all faiths.
8. «Ceiling on Desires» programs so that people many become more simple and selfless.
9. Each individual is expected to practice daily meditation and prayer.
Thus one can see that Sai Baba’s teaching is not an empty spiritual philosophy, but a carefully planned social – psychological – spiritual program for the elevation of the material, emotional, social and spiritual level of mankind. One naturally feels the need to join in and help with this process, regardless of whether he does this within the system of the Sai organization, or any other organization, or by himself. There is, of course, much greater power and effectiveness in a group effort. You, too may want to join together in various groupings according to your beliefs and character and serve this noble goal which will heal humanity and our ailing planet. Sai Baba does not plan to finish this great goal of his in this one lifetime. According to him, he will take three incarnations to complete his mission. The incarnation we are presently witnessing is the second incarnation called Sathya Sai Baba. The previous incarnation was a great saint in India called Shirdi Sai Baba who, as he was dying, informed his devotees that he would be born again in eight years in another part of India. He fulfilled his promise by incarnating as Sathya Sai Baba exactly eight years later. This incarnation will live until the body is 96 years old. Then the body will die and a new body will be created eight years later near Mysore in India. This will be the last of his incarnations in his plan to transform humanity. He will then be called Prema Sai Baba. He is thus also an example of patience. He understands how slowly things change here on earth, how much inertia there is in us. He moves very steadily and slowly. He will first rebuild India, and then he will start to travel around the world. His centers all over the world keep hoping that he will eventually visit them. But he is not in a hurry. Nor does he seem to have any need for the publicity, fame and material benefit which some other Indian spiritual teachers seek in coming to the West. The question really is whether or not we in the West are ready for such a being. This is another caliber of being than the average spiritual teacher. Most other spiritual teachers have, at some point in their lives, become interested in spiritual life and, through the practice of spiritual disciplines, have developed inner strength and wisdom which they can now offer to others. This is a great and beautiful thing and I hope more and more beings have the opportunity and strength to do this. But Sai Baba is a different case. He has never practiced any spiritual disciplines. He has not tried to obtain any spiritual wisdom or powers. All this unlimited power, wisdom, love and dedication were in him upon his birth.
ALL RELIGIONS LEED TO ONE GOD
Sai Baba encourages us all to forget religious differences and become one unified family of humanity under the fatherhood of God. Here below is a short story expanding beautifully the truth within it Once there was a village of blind people. In the village lived a blind king, five blind wise men and the rest of the villagers who also could not see. One day an elephant came treading heavily into the village, and stood in the village square. All the villagers were quite alarmed and anxious to find out what was this thunderous entity which had come into their village. The king ordered the five wise men to investigate the phenomenon and to report their findings. Each of the five wise men approached the elephant from a different angle. The first came up the elephant’s side and after feeling it, reported that it was a huge walking wall which had come into the village. The second wise man got hold of one of its legs and said no, it was not a wall but a walking tree trunk which had come to visit them. The third came upon the tail and rejected the first two opinions, announcing that the truth was that it was a snake. The fourth having grabbed the ear, stated that the truth was that it was a large walking leaf. The fifth who happened to catch hold of the trunk claimed that all previous statements were wrong and that the reality was that it was a large moving hose. The blind village represents state of spiritual blindness affecting all of humanity. The five wise men represent the various major religions, who, approaching the unseen God from various angles, have experienced God in different ways. In our blind state we argue about what the reality of God is, when there is only one God, which is in reality all beings and things which exist. Why then do we need to fight and argue between ourselves! Each religion is valid as a way to the same one God. All are correct. All need to be respected. Let each individual choose the religious path which suits him.
The above illustration is a symbol used by Sai Baba to show the Unity of all religions. In the center of the above symbol is the one divine light which represents the one God which is the goal of all religions. Around this One Light are five petals towards the One God. Starting on the left we have the cross which represents the Christian-Judeo tradition. Then the symbol OM for Hinduism. Then the Buddhist wheel. Then the Flame of Zoroasterianism, and finally the star and crescent of Islam. He often says:
THERE IS ONE RELIGION,
THE RELIGION OF LOVE.
THERE IS ONE LANGUAGE,
THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART.
THERE IS ONE CASTE,
THE CASTE OF HUMANITY.
THERE IS ONE GOD,
AND HE IS OMNIPRESENT.