Should you share your most personal spiritual experiences?

Irrespective of the 'cone' it comes from, the ice cream tastes as good right?
Irrespective of the 'cone' it comes from, the ice cream tastes as good right?

On sharing a 'personal experience'...

One question that I have often faced from myself and from others alike is on the subject of sharing experiences with my Swami ( Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) with the wide world. The two voices in me have a dialogue on this subject.

“They are personal experiences. And so, they must be kept that way. Do not make personal experiences into public ones!”
“The term ‘personal’ means belonging to you in such a manner that you can choose to do anything with it. After all, it is your ‘personal’ experience right? So, while some choose to keep silent about it, some choose to talk about it. ‘Personal’ refers to your freedom about doing what you want with the experience!”
“There are people to whom Baba has said to keep the experiences to themselves.”
“There are people too, to whom Baba has said that the more they share their experiences, the greater would be their joy.”

The debate goes on. And as always, I seek a solution inwardly from Him . Then, an inspiration forms from within. That inspiration guides me to different stories and reminds me of different experiences. And then, I remember that beautiful interview where Swami showed me that an inspiration is indeed Him communicating with us from within. Inspiration is divine. Inspiration is God-given. Inspiration is verily God! So, with prayers of love and gratitude in my heart, I make an attempt here to sincerely pen down all that He is inspiring from within.

The foremost among the Vishishta Advaitins - Sri Ramanujacharya
The foremost among the Vishishta Advaitins - Sri Ramanujacharya

The inspiring story of Sri Ramanujacharya

The first thing that hit me was the biography of Sri Ramanujacharya as written by Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society in a compilation called the ‘The Lives of Saints’. Sri Ramanujacharya is considered as the greatest exponent of one of the three schools of philosophy - Vishishta Advaita (the other two being Advaita and Dwaitha).

The story goes that Ramanuja proceeded to Thirukottiyur, a place in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, to receive initiation into the eight-lettered mantra Aum Namo Narayanaya” from the great master Nambi. (He was called Thirukottiyur Nambi). Nambi proved to be a very strict disciplinarian and demanding master and he simply refused to part with the powerful mantra. Ramanuja travelled the distance from Srirangam to Madurai about 18 times and waited patiently upon Nambi before he finally decided to initiate the seeker into the powerful mantra.

And even before Nambi initiated Ramanuja, he extracted solemn promises of secrecy. He told him,
“Ramanuja! Keep this Mantra a secret. This Mantra is a powerful one. Those who repeat this Mantra will attain salvation. Give it only to a worthy disciple previously tried. Otherwise, you will have to suffer the libations of hell!”
However, even as the young Ramanuja received the mantra, he ran to temple, assembled all the people there and shouted out the sacred mantra at the top of his voice. Nambi, his Guru, came to know of this and became furious. He rushed to Ramanuja in ‘anger’. Ramanuja said:
"O my beloved Guru! Please prescribe a suitable punishment for my wrong action. I will gladly suffer the tortures of hell myself if millions of people could get salvation by hearing the Mantra through me". Nambi was very much pleased with Ramanuja and found out that he had a very large heart full of compassion. He embraced Ramanuja with all love and blessed him.

Divine Discourse - 25th March 1965

I came across a discourse that Swami delivered at Kakinada on the 25th of March 1965. In that, He speaks emphatically about the concept of Moksha (liberation or the ultimate consummation) in this manner:

You must have heard of people seeking moksha (liberation) and getting moksha; many may be under the impression that it is some rare honour that only a few secure or that it is some area like Paradise or a Colony of the Elect or a Height that some heroic souls alone can climb up to. No; moksha is something which all must achieve, whether they are heroic or not; even those who deny it have to end by realising it. For, every one is even now seeking it when he seeks joy and peace; and, who does not seek joy and peace? Moksha is when you have lasting joy and lasting peace. Tired with temporary joys and transient peace, man will at last endeavour to know the secret of permanent joy and peace, that is to say, of Moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

There is almost no topic on which Swami has not spoken about...
There is almost no topic on which Swami has not spoken about... | Source

Liberation from the cycle of birth and death needs one to recognize the oneness of Spirit in all the beings - living and ‘non-living’. What better and easier way to imbibe this oneness than to share and care with everyone as if they were one’s own? Live with the faith in the brotherhood of man and fatherhood of God the way Ramanuja did?

Bhagya sir's experience

The experience of Prof.Bhagya, a most inspiring and loving soul in the department of Management, Accounting and Finance at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning at Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi gave me that final inspirational push.

He came to Puttaparthi giving up a very lucrative and promising career. Spirituality was his sole goal in life and he did not want to ‘waste’ his time and resources on anything other than spirituality. When He came to Puttaparthi, Swami told him to become a teacher in the MBA department. After some time of working there, he grew disillusioned. He felt that he had given up all kinds of work only to come to Parthi and get stuck in teaching students statistics and quantitative methods!

During an interview in 1990 at Prasanthi Nilayam, he boldly told Swami that he wanted to resign from his job as a teacher.
“I have come here for spiritual work. I don’t want to get involved in worldly work.”
What Swami told him sent shivers down his spine as he admitted later.

“If you separate things as spiritual work and worldly work, I will not give you what you seek even in a 1000 lifetimes.”

“I was shocked! The command with which Swami said that He would not give me what I desired - Moksha - made me drop to my knees in awe. And He also said that a 1000 years would not be enough to get that!”

Swami then continued to tell him that there was a reason for everything.
“It is not enough if you seek Moksha for yourself. Be selfless and take 10 people along with you on the path. Your redemption lies in the redemption of your fellow-beings. Take care of my students and I shall take care of you completely.”

Today, when I think of Bhagya sir, my heart oozes with gratitude to him. I remember each of his classes, not because of the academics it imparted but because of that strong and never-effacing love for Swami that he etched in our hearts. He taught us the subjects for our examinations of course; but most importantly, he taught us what Swami considers as His Subject - love for God. And he did this by sharing almost all of his most personal experiences. Even to this day, students who have passed out the MBA programme decades ago come to meet him and seek counsel, solace and a recharge of love for God. And that applies to me too!

Sharing is Caring! :)
Sharing is Caring! :) | Source

Concluding thoughts

Now, that has become a mantra for me also. Share everything that the Lord gave with as many people as possible. The mouth may be lucky to receive all the delicacies and tasty foods but when the mouth is fed, the whole body is fed.

Another favorite teacher of mine, Sri Sailesh Srivastava from the Higher Secondary School had told me,
“We do not know why some people get to be the mouth while some others are the limbs and still others become the heart. Swami feeds only the mouth, but that provides the nutrition to the rest of the body. So, the hand should never get jealous of the mouth. At the same time, the mouth should realize that since it was chosen to be a ‘mouth’ it is receiving food and not because it is loved more than the limbs or the heart!”

That message too is firmly entrenched in my heart.

On a concluding note, I recall what Swami has said about speaking in general:

Before you speak, think.
1. Is it necessary?
2. Is it true?
3. Will it hurt anyone?
4. Will it improve upon the silence?

I feel that the same holds good for sharing one’s personal experiences with Swami too - with one more addition however. Thus, my formula for sharing personal experiences with Swami to the world is:

1. Is it necessary? - (If it enthuses anyone who listens or reads and strokes the flame of love for God in their hearts, I shall deem it necessary.)
2. Is it true? -( I will not exaggerate the facts nor play down my failings so that everyone can experience almost what I experienced.)
3. Will it hurt anyone? - (If in the experience, there was a third party involved in a ‘negative role’, I shall not mention names nor will I focus on it. Unless absolutely essential for the flow of the narrative, I shall not even mention that person.)
4. Will it improve upon the silence? - ( I shall narrate only if I am convinced that the reading or listening will give greater joy of the divine kind.)

And finally, my own guideline, inspired from within:

5. Does it make me egoistic? ( I shall not speak of an experience if it gives me a false sense of me being a hero. The hero is always God - the ‘1’ that gives value to every ‘0’ beside Him!)

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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya

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Comments 17 comments

maria 3 years ago

Personal’ refers to your freedom about doing what you want with any experience!”

It's a sentence so important for self analysis ," i.e am I relating this to boost my ego -or might I expose myself to disbelief , is it genuine desire to help other's validate the faith - each must decide -on the inside. Thank you

for this dissertation!


Priya 3 years ago

Thanks Aravind for this. All I can say is because you decide to post your experiences with Swami I feel I have got closer to knowing him and trusting my own experiences with him.


poornimasrinath profile image

poornimasrinath 4 years ago from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA

As I was reading an article on non-dualism by Mr.Suresh rao in h2h I came across the below lines in the concluding quote by Swami which captured my interest and I feel it suits this post well..here it goes .. “I bring you close to Me, so that your thoughts and mind are centered around Me, and your story becomes My Story!-- but My Story is to make you-- Storyless!”


poornimasrinath profile image

poornimasrinath 4 years ago from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA

I was in fact expecting that you might be questioned on this... Yes I agree with your justification. The person reading may have 1000 thoughts and opinions. Freedom of writing especially about good need not have second thoughts as it would not harm the senses. The interpretations might inspire some one out there. In my case when I read your experiences,I have wondered how I have also experienced similar instances in my life and I get confirmation that Swami was definitely with me though He did not physically confirm it.

When it comes to sharing experiences, I happened to listen to episode 128 or 129 of Tamil radiosai broadcast yesterday, in which brother Krishnamurthy who is an ex-MBA student in SSIHL shared his experiences with Swami. This was the first part of his speech. Tears rolled down as I heard him say how Sai family helped him through tough times in life. Swami made us all a family to enjoy and experience oneness. With family won't we share anything that happens in our life? When the feeling of oneness is not there everything is wrong...If oneness is felt nothing is wrong.

I like the way you have dissected this topic :)


aravindb1982 profile image

aravindb1982 4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@ Mr. Happy -

In addition to what I told you about the mantra in my previous comment, I would also like to add that you are indeed blessed that you do not see the 'imaginary' divide that has been made. May the Spirit of Wakan Tanka keep you that way always.

@ Aarthi and Madhavi Alapaty -

Very happy that you enjoyed the article and benefited from it. Sharing is caring and Swami's nourishment is for all, for ever!


aravindb1982 profile image

aravindb1982 4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@ Shruti, Soumya, Mark Aspa - Thank you! :)

@ Mr.Happy - "Initiation" happens when a person who has experienced the benefits of a mantra imparts the same and teaches it to another person. This way, there is added benefit rather than simply knowing the mantra because the wealth of the master's experience backs it. The conviction that the master has about the mantra based on his/her experience adds to the potency of the mantra.

In Ramanuja's case, his faith here was so strong that he did not need any experience to give conviction about the mantra. And so, he could simply give it out to all!


priti 4 years ago

Simply Awesome!!


Registered Nurse, DC. 4 years ago

Sairam, Thank SWAMI and thank you for sharing with us.

We did not have the opportunities to be physically close to Swami.

By sharing your experiences with us, you are curing a thirst that we have. We would never enjoy the sweetness of Swami if you did not share it with us - what you do is this; you share Swami's sweetness and love with us. If you did not share it, we would be cheated of that love and experience and thanks for sharing. THANK YOU.


Madhavi Alapaty 4 years ago

Sairam Aravind, Beautiful narration as usual on this specific topic. Well said about sharing the personal experiences. Good tips on when to share the personal experiences with people. I always ask the question about ‘should I share it’ with people when the time comes or should I keep it to myself as this is my personal experience given to me by SWAMI. Now I know what to do when I go in that situation in future. Thanks for sharing such beautiful articles where it answers so many questions to the people like me.


Aarthi 4 years ago

Keep sharing Aravind! I really liked the mouth analogy very profound, 'coz it answers questions which people like me have -- "How come I never got even 1 such experience and how come some others had many such experiences?"

When we read expcs of ppl like yours, we too share in the bliss. That provides nourishment for our soul. :) I guess that's a nice way to stay positive and connected to Swami.


Santhriatan 4 years ago

Sai Ram Aravind,

If someone knows about swami and were busy with wordly chores, I try to slip in the beautiful and warm experiences of Swami. Even they would not be fully concentrated at that moment. They will recollect the sweet nectarine stories when they are alone and, That was my experience of sharing. Thank you very much for caring the divide between worldly work and spiritual work.

Sai Ram


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"initiate the seeker into the powerful mantra" - Any chance You can explain this little part here, Mr. Aravind? Does it mean just learning the mantra?

"if you separate things as spiritual work and worldly work" - I tried hard to think of a way of seeing spiritual work and worldly work separate but I cannot see the divide. All is One - All is Connected - It is the Law of One.

Great read! Brought smiles as usual. : )

Cheers!


Mark Aspa 4 years ago

thank you...as interesting as ever!

It is His Love that prompts us to share, so that others can renew their feelings of Divine Love yet again from the eternal Source of Sai.


Soumya 4 years ago

I've always believed that experiences with Swami need to be shared. Loved the analogy and experiences of your teachers. Sai Ram!!


Shruti 4 years ago

Really lovely!


aravindb1982 profile image

aravindb1982 4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@ Jahnavi - Thank you for the appreciation... The battle with pride and ego is a long and constant one... The joy of having conquered ego in itself breeds ego! Even I found the mouth analogy very useful.... And that is why I shared it.

Sairam


Jahnavi 4 years ago

Sai Ram Aravind,

I've always had this question, where should I draw a line and say this is personal and this is for 'sharing'. Almost all true experiences I've had in my life are personal, it is very difficult to distinguish. The only way I distinguished was asked Swami, should I share this, if He said yes, I did, else I didn't. However, the mouth to body analogy is explicitly beautiful, such a beautiful thought and aid to curb ones ego. I am going to write this down big till it becomes a second nature.

Thank you very much for sharing, appreciate your efforts.

Sai Ram

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