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Does God exist? How to seek God?
The Barber and Baba
In the Hindu religious practices, there is a ceremony where the locks of a child are cut for the first time in its life. It is considered an important ritual and is also called the Mundan ceremony. And thus it was that a couple once pleaded to Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba),
“Swami, please cut the first locks of our child. It would be the greatest blessing to have this done by You.”
To this, Swami smiled sweetly and replied,
“I am Baba and not barber!”
That being said, there is an interesting story of a doubting barber that I read somewhere. Having read that, I read another episode narrated by the former Controller of Examinations of the Sri Sathya Sai University, Prof.M.Nanjundiah. Both these narratives together made a beautiful lesson.
The story of the doubting barber
The story was of a person who goes to the barber for a haircut. As is the common practice the barber engaged the person in a conversation which steered towards God. Now the barber said,
“Look here! I do not believe that God exists.”
“But why are you saying that, my dear fellow?”, asked the client.
"Well, it's so easy. You just have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. Tell me, if God existed, would there be so many sick people on earth? Would there be abandoned children and old people? If God exists, there should be no suffering nor pain."
The man gave no response and the conversation ended there.
After the haircut, the man got up and started walking out of the shop. The barber stopped him, “Hey! You cannot leave without paying!”
“Pay? Whom should I pay?”
“Pay me of course! For the haircut.”
“But, there are no barbers in the world! Whom do I pay?”
“What do you mean?! Don’t be ridiculous. Did you not feel your hair snip as you sat in the chair. Were you not subject to the experience of a haircut? How can you say that barbers don’t exist?”
"Well, it's so easy. You just have to go out in the street to realize that barbers do not exist. Tell me, if barbers existed, would there be so people with unkempt hair and long beards on earth? Would there be children and old people who have not known the touch of a snipping scissors or a shaving blade? If barbers exist, there should be no person with overgrown hair!"
“If they choose not to go to the barber, is it the barber’s fault?” The client just smiled, paid the barber and walked out.
The experience of God is as personal as a haircut!
Seeking God - His departments
It was here that I was wondering on what it meant to seek God. Thinking of Swami always is possible but what if I seek Him for wealth, for a career, for health etc. Is that also seeking God? Swami has no problem with that. He says, “I give you what you ask for so that one day you will ask for what I have come to give.” But what does seeking Swami exactly mean?
The 85th Birthday commemorative issue of the Sanathana Sarathi magazine has an article by Prof. M Nanjundiah. And he writes about what Swami once told him. That answered my question completely.
“Just like the cabinet that the Prime Minister has, Swami too has His own cabinet. I have entrusted different tasks to the different ministers. I do not interfere with their work. If I get a prayer in a letter, “Swami we want rains,” I will redirect the letter to Varuna, the Lord of water. He will deal with it appropriately.
Only three departments come directly under me: Love, Selfless Service and Spiritual Sadhana. Whoever loves me, I too love them. I do not look into the other qualities or eligibility. Whoever performs service without expecting rewards, I shall take care of them. Whoever or whenever any person pursues spiritual sadhana, he/she will will come under my protective umbrella. Other departments are all looked after by My other Ministers.”
And so, if you want to seek God, seek Love; if you want to seek God, seek selfless service; if you want to seek God, seek Sadhana!
What a revelation!
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© 2011 Aravind Balasubramanya