Sri Sathya Sai Baba
A few days ago one of our readers from the US wrote to us sharing a sad story about his daughter’s response to his loving concern. He had been saving considerable amounts of money for his daughter right from her childhood and now when he sent the accumulated sum to his daughter, he received not even a ‘thank you’ from her. Understandably, this tore his heart and we felt prompted to write this Sunday’s article on the theme of gratitude. Gratitude is a quality which Sathya Sai Baba has emphasized in almost every discourse he gave to the students. Here are some reflections on this very important virtue by a former student of Swami’s Institute, Sri Y Arvind.
I was a guest in the tea estates of one of my friends in the Coorg District. They had a huge bungalow with a beautiful garden. Manicured lawns private enclaves, arbors…their garden had it all. The bungalow was colonial style and was designed so that each bedroom had its own balcony and being on top a hillock every room was a room with a view. The vista of the dark green spread out like a patchwork quilt and down the hill. My room faced the east and I had the pleasure of watching the sun rise through the mist and rain…when the clouds permitted.
One morning I woke with a feeling that today would be different. For some strange inexplicable reason I was feeling at peace with myself…I wanted to be alone…left alone…I wanted to savor every moment in its entirety. It had rained the whole of the previous night and the gentle whisper of the drizzle had ebbed into the sounds of dawn. It was still dark and the aroma of wet earth wafted in through the French windows. Sitting up in bed I felt different…a strange sense of humility enveloped me. The servants of the house had already woken – I just had to ring a bell and tea was delivered to my room.
With a mug of freshly brewed aromatic hot tea in my hand, I sat under the awning that stretched all over the balcony letting the warmth of the rich brown liquid seep into my palms. The haze that hung over the misty hills from behind which would emerge the sun, were tinted pink, yellow and orange. Even as I watched I saw them melt and reveal the lord of the day…suddenly there was a lump on my throat. My eyes blurred with tears and I was floating like a twig on waves of emotions. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God; that I could see, hear, touch, feel and experience all that He had created…in its totality. My head bowed with tears trickling down my cheeks I thanked God…from the bottom of my heart. Thank you God! For the gift of Life! Thank you for allowing me to be part of this moment and above all thank you for awakening in me this sense of Gratitude.
The words of Earl Musselman ring true when he says:
“The sun was shining in my eyes, and I could barely see
To do the necessary task that was allotted me.
Resentment of the vivid glow, I started to complain —
When all at once upon the air I heard the blind man’s cane.”
Every time we are faced with a situation in life where we have to adjust or accommodate someone or somebody or something….we crib and quail that things are not going the way we planned them. We blame destiny when we have a flat tyre and curse fate if the gate is closed when we reach a railroad crossing. We fight with the cabdriver who crosses lanes and roar at the truck driver who overtakes us…life is so full of deadlines and commitments that we never find a single moment to stop and smell the proverbial roses. Above all how much time do we spare for God who has given us this beautiful world? Time and again we are reminded that we are all children of immortality dressed differently. All the differences are physical and ephemeral but deep down we are all the same. Having said that…were we to really feel it, what prevents us from expressing gratitude to the God in our fellow man?
Cicero, a consul of Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar concurred when he said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” And mentioning parents…. how much are we indebted to our mother and father? Having given us this body with which we enjoy the world and perform our duties, they should be the primary recipients of our gratitude. Swami says ‘Mother is God’ and ‘Father is God’; He in fact deifies them as Living Gods. Punning on the word ‘parent’ as ‘pay-rent’, Sathya Sai Baba says, having received so much from our parents, the least we can do is to offer them Gratitude. The advantage of developing this wonderful virtue of Gratitude is that Gratitude does not come alone. Sacrifice, honesty, love, forbearance, understanding, tolerance, forgiveness…all of them arise as one develops the wonderful virtue of gratitude.
The power of Gratitude is eloquently expressed by Melodie Beattie, author of many inspirational books.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Gratitude makes us content with what we have and not crave for more. We learn to accept the Will of God in our lives and not fight every circumstance. We learn to discern with clarity and find order within ourselves – it helps foster discipline. Problems we face in our lives are actually lessons we learn in the school of life. They are custom-made to our level of understanding and evolution by the Teacher. They become ‘gifts’ only if you learn from them so that you won’t have to pay the next time you face one… Learn again from failures making them stepping stones to success.
Coincidences will cease to be so once we recognise the Divine Design. Every moment of life becomes a miracle were we to perceive His Grand Play. The past is a history of what we have done – and it will continue to repeat itself as long as we don’t learn from it. As one wise man said, “You can either learn from the past or run from it…” More often than not, in retrospect, we find some past experiences which were bitter then to have made now sweeter. Mistakes happen – don’t dwell on them . Take the essence, absorb it and then look ahead. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power. Swami says “Past is dead, future is a dream, present is all you have. Present is omnipresent”.
Thankfulness is limited to words but Gratitude reflects itself in action and is therefore far superior. What better example of this do we find than Sathya Sai Babaji? Late Professor Kasturi once found Swami patting and blessing a buffalo(!) thanking it for the effort it had taken to carry water up the hill everyday – while none else had bothered. Yet again on another visit, the watchman of a guesthouse where Sathya SaiBaba had rested had the privilege of a personal photograph taken with the Lord. Just the watchman and God… but the poor man did not receive a copy and was miserable. On His next visit a year later Swami, sent for him and personally gave the photo.
Whether we are aware of it or not, He remembers every single act done for Him and returns it a million-fold. Draupadi, the consort of the Pandavas, bound the bleeding finger of Krishna with a strip of cloth torn from her own sari. The Lord returned this small action, multiplied a thousand-fold when she was being dishonoured in the court of the Kauravas. One can go on and on in this vein… When God does not mind saying “Thank you” in His myriad own mysterious ways…shouldn’t we do the same to our fellowmen?
Times change, people change, but let the change be for the better. Let our days begin and end with gratitude to the Lord for this wonderful opportunity of being alive. To be alive is a miracle and to be able to be of use to others is a greater gift. And finally, life finds fulfilment only when it is of use to others…Gratitude teaches us that!.
Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,
Filed under: Faith, God, Gratitude, India, Life, Love, Peace, Sai Baba, sathya sai baba, Thank You | Tagged: Cicero, Earl Musselman, Forbearance, Forgiveness, Honesty, Julius Caesar, Krishna, Love, Melodie Beattie, Sacrifice, Swami, Tolerance, Understanding, Virtues | Comments Off