Sathya Sai Speaks - But who listens?
When Swami's message in one discourse contradicts His message in another...
There was a question that was once asked in a spiritual discussion. It was something like this, “Swami speaks different things in His discourses. Sometimes, one thing that He speaks seems to contradict another that He had previously spoken! For instance He says,
‘Whatever you desire, ask God. If not God, whom else can you turn to?’
But on another occasion He has said,
‘Shut up and do not ask anything of God. Don’t you think He knows everything and loves you enough to provide all that you need?’
What should I accept as the take home lesson when such contradicting advice is given?”
Pondering, praying and discussing over this led me to an answer from within. The answer is so appropriate and reassuring. Before sharing that, let me take a little detour.
Sri.N.Kasturi was one of the foremost devotees of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He is Swami’s biographer, the first editor of the magazine Sanathana Sarathi, one of the longest serving postmasters for Puttaparthi and, most importantly, the one whom Swami entrusted His valuable personal writings of the various Vahinis. Swami would personally pen articles for Sanathana Sarathi and also write the chapters of the Vahini series of books. His autobiography entitled, “Loving God” is a masterpiece that arouses in the reader love for God, joy, laughter and a sense of awe and wonder.
Radiosai carried a comprehensive article on this glorious soul and I feel everyone must go through it once at least
Sathya Sai Speaks...
That introduction to Sri Kasturi was to quote a poem of His that appears in the volumes of the Sathya Sai Speaks - a collection of discourses by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba available in 42 volumes! The poem is so beautiful and wonderful and I quote :
Sathya Sai Speaks.
But, who among us do listen
and plant them in well-ploughed hearts?
And when they cleave the cold, and greenly grow
who among us shed tears of joy?
His words are for the inner ear;
they have drummed us, along the valleys of night
and led us, through smiles and sobs,
into the shore of the vastness, basking in His love,
Sathya Sai Speaks.
I do not wish to ruin the beauty of his poetry with my commentary. But I would love to share my thoughts and feelings on the question posed in the beginning.
The Master’s ‘difficulty’ during a discourse
Just consider for a moment, Swami’s situation when He rises to address a gathering. It can be likened to that of a teacher trying to teach in a class filled with students from kindergarten to doctoral research! And there are kindergarten children and research scholars (literally and figuratively) in the audience that hears to Swami. What makes sense to the ‘child’ is not enjoyed by the ‘researcher’ and what is juicy for the ‘researcher’ is gibberish for the child. And so, with His mellifluous voice, the Lord weaves stories, dicta, aphorisms and statements to produce a masterclass Master’s Class lecture that needs to satisfy all.
A simple example further illustrates this difficulty that Swami faces as He speaks. Imagine the two children of a mother walk to her and ask her,
“Mom, where do babies come from?”
One child is 5 years old and the other is 12 years old. What does the mother do? She refrains from answering them together. Calling the younger one to a side, the mother tells a story, probably about how a stork brings babies. Then, calling the elder one, the mother makes a revelation of the biological processes involved. This is natural because the 5 year old is not grown enough to be exposed to the higher truth.
Imagine now, if the mother had to explain these to the children together. Worse still, how hard it would be if she had to explain this to several children of different ages - say a 3 year old, 5 year old, 12 year old and 14 year old? Anything she says will seem like nonsense for someone younger than whom it is intended to and will seem like lies for someone older than whom it is intended to. Now imagine, Swami’s difficulty when He addresses a gathering filled with ‘kindergarten children’ and ‘research scholars’ in spirituality! Only the ‘grown ups’ will empathise with the mother and know that she is neither lying nor speaking non-sense.
An example of modern day teaching will amplify what is being stated above and present another aspect of it too. Even to this day, in either 6th or 7th grade, one is taught the Bohr’s model of the atom. The children learn the equations involved and use them to solve problems. Coming to university, the teenager learns that the Bohr’s theory has many shortcomings and the real way to explain the atomic world is via the Quantum Mechanical model of the atom. Later, the teenager becomes a doctoral scholar and then a lecturer. However, he/she continues to teach the children, the Bohr’s theory as a precursor to the quantum theory. Why? That is simply because the Bohr’s theory, though not ‘right’ absolutely, is an absolute must to help the understanding of the children. It also works for all the ‘problems’ that the children get at ‘their level’. Once the children are ready for the ‘quantum leap’ they are told to discard the former theory and taught the new one!
Now, Swami has to do the teaching of the spiritual ‘Bohr’s theory’ and spiritual ‘Quantum theory’ simultaneously to the audience. The ‘grown ups’ of course know that Swami is neither confusing nor lying. However, confusion may arise among the ‘children’ like me!
So, the answer lies in me being able to know my grade and accept only that which applies to me.
The grade solution
How do I know which grade I belong to? How do I recognise what part of the discourse is meant for me?
The kid in the class will never appreciate anything else but A,B,C and D. The researcher feels absolutely no inspiration in the alphabets but is thrilled by ‘complex’ concepts. The teacher is happy if at the end of the class the kid has learnt the alphabet and the researcher has grasped the concept. He does not wish that the kid follow the concept and the researcher appreciate the alphabet.
So too, when one reads or hears to Swami speaking, based on the grade one is in, the perfect statement or subject thrills the heart. The mind tries to seek solace in company while the heart seeks it in the Truth. The Truth remains the Truth even if all alone. When any statement inspires you or strikes you as profound, know that it was meant for you. That is your lesson for the session. As said in the article on the mind and the heart, the mind will now jump into the fray and try reasoning. Remember it is the heart alone that can grasp the lesson from the Master.
At times, a statement that had formerly inspired you inspires you in a new way now. Something else strikes you as profound. Know that your grade has changed - you have either been promoted or demoted! ( I am sorry! The demotion part was the mind speaking. Swami has said that once someone has come to Him, his/her progress is entirely in His hands and He would definitely only promote us!)
That was the answer to the posed question that struck me and cheered me. Hope it is the same for the reader too.
From Sathya Sai Speaks Directly
"Likewise, in the Bhagavad Gita or other scriptures, statements might appear which seem to contradict each other. These differences relate to differences in circumstances and requirements of the person concerned. You should not contrast one statement of the Swami with another and ask why them is a contradiction between the different statements. In the Gita itself, in one place, Krishna stresses the need for action, at another the adherence to Dharma, and in another place commends renunciation of all Dharma and urges complete surrender to the Lord. These apparent contradictions are not contradictions. The teaching varies according to the state of spiritual development of the person concerned and the situation in which he is placed."
- Discourse at Trayee Brindavan, July 1988
So, what do I do?
Today, whenever I switch on a discourse, I try to be as empty in my mind and heart as possible. I try to be thought-free, providing the divine gardener Swami with a fertile ground to plant the saplings that He wishes. And I must say that depending on what I need, Swami seems to tailor-make His discourses for me, even now, when it is said that He has 'left'! That is the magic of Sathya Sai speaking! His message is eternal and so are His discourses. Even after a 1,000 years, they will continue to inspire, guide, console, enthuse and divinize people all around the world.
How blessed are we that we have more than a thousand discourses to hear and a few thousands to read? I pray that I utilize this great opportunity by hearing to or reading at least a part of a discourse daily...
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