How Does God’s Insurance Office Work?

Sathya Sai Baba Vibuthi

Sathya Sai Baba Vibuthi

How Does God’s Insurance Office Work?

In the Gita, the Lord says that from time to time when righteousness is on the decline He incarnates. Swami has added that He has come to save scriptural knowledge and to protect devotees of the Lord. This raises the question: ‘Who exactly is a devotee of the Lord?’ Operationally, any one who has devotion for the Lord might be described as a devotee. However, as we all know, there are all kinds of devotees; in fact, five thousand years ago, Krishna identified four major categories.

They are:

  1. those who come to the Lord because they want their personal problems solved,
  2. those who want the Lord to grant them wealth and prosperity,
  3. those who would like the Lord to guide them in acquiring Wisdom, and finally
  4. those who want nothing whatsoever and are content to enjoy Bliss immersed in God.

This was the classification given five thousand years ago and it still holds. The question now is: Which of these categories of devotees is eligible for protection? This in turn raises another question as to what exactly we mean by protection. But meanwhile, it is useful for us to note that Lord Krishna has said that He relates to devotees the very same way they relate to Him. Swami has amplified this with the remark that to a child He is a child; to a man He is a man, and so on. In other words, Swami is to us, what we think Him to be.

What has all this got to do with God’s protection? We are coming to that. Let us start with the question, whom does God protect? He certainly responds to prayers and offers His protection in some measure, but only to the extent we are eligible. Devotees often forget this aspect of eligibility and imagine God to be something like a slot machine. We pray and God has to respond – that is the way people think God should operate. Is that correct? Let us take the slot machine. When we insert a coin into a slot machine and press the button, the machine delivers a chocolate bar or whatever. But when the stock of the goodies is over, even if one inserts a coin, one would get nothing. The same is true of God’s Grace. When one has limited credit and that credit runs out, then prayers will not provide the protection one prays for. So it boils down to how to build up a good credit.

Lord Krishna and Sathya Sai Baba have made one thing very clear. God’s insurance office is open 24/7 and is accessible in all parts of the world from the North Pole to the South Pole. But if one wants comprehensive coverage, and God does have that plan, then one has to make proper payment of premium. And what exactly is the premium? Sathya Sai Baba has indicated that. Basically, it consists of two words: Aushadam and Pathyam. Aushadam means medicine and Pathyam means diet restrictions. Swami says that when one goes to a doctor with an illness like stomach upset, for example, the doctor prescribes medicines and also diet restrictions; the same is true of the Divine Doctor, says Swami.

What exactly does Sathya Sai Baba mean by these two words? Swami has explained that also. He says that the medicine is the constant chanting of the Name. OK, but what about the Pathyam or so-called diet restrictions? Swami says the Pathyam is TOTAL obedience of Swami’s commands.

We would now like to make some comments about the latter. From time to time, we get reports that Sai devotees in some place or the other, are actively playing host to a person, sometimes male and sometimes female, who claims that Swami has sent him or her, creates vibhuti or whatever, and ends up collecting money, of course, for some cause authorised by Swami – that is what the self-appointed agent says. This sort of thing seems to happen in all parts of the world the East to the West.

Times without number, Satya Sai Baba has declared openly in so many Discourses that He has no middlemen. Times without number, Sanathana Sarathi has published warnings about specific persons going round claiming to act for and on behalf of Swami. The Organisation too has sent circulars asking Centres and Office Bearers to stay clear of such self-appointed ‘messengers’. And yet, people seem to be drawn to such ‘messengers’. Not only that, devotees invite them to Sai Centres, make them sit on Swami’s Chair and even offer Aarathi to them.

Jesus once said, ‘Why call ye me Lord, when thou does’t not follow what I say?’ One can similarly ask: What is the meaning of we calling Swami God and all that, when we are bent on ignoring His emphatic declaration that He has no middle persons.

If this were an isolated phenomenon, we would not write about it. But we are constantly getting reports about such people from all over. That such people exist should not surprise us; the world is full of who would like to take advantage of the gullible. But what we find astonishing is that people who claim to be devotees of Sathya Sai Baba insist on violating His command.

People are free to follow whom they want, but they should be aware of the consequences. In the Gita, Krishna makes it very clear that those who follow the manes go to the manes; those who follow the deities, go the deities; but those who follow Him, go only to Him. Could anything be clearer? Think about it!

With Love and Regards,
RadioSai e-Journal Team
In Sai Service

Sathya Sai Baba – How To Pray – How Not To Pray

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Great indeed is the efficacy of prayer. It opens the gate of one’s inner temple to let Ahura Mazda in. ~Zarathustra

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s answers to Dr. Hislop’s question on prayer are revealing:

“When you ask God, you rise to His level. You must ask God. To ask God is perfectly all right. It is your duty to ask God. Words must be said and, the thoughts must correspond to the words. It is true enough that the Divinity knows all. But He requires that true words be said. The mother may know that, to maintain life, the child requires food. But milk is given only when the child asks for it.”

Swami stresses that when there is real need, God should be asked to provide. But there are several doubting Thomases among us, who ask, “You mean prayers work? He can only give us what, according to Him, we need or what we deserve. Is it not? Will the Lord like to give us all that we ask for, in our prayers to Him? Under such circumstances what is the use of prayer?” Of course, all these doubts can be resolved.

So what then is “Prayer” all about? Prayer is the subtlest and most sublime thread that links the human soul with the Divine Spirit. It establishes a relationship between the individual and the Infinite Supreme. It is the winged arrow of human feeling that coalesces with the Divine Love of God.

All religions expound the glory of prayer. Every saint took recourse to prayer in his spiritual growth. There is no great man upon earth who did not offer prayers at the recognition of the Divine Hand guiding him. To many, however, prayer becomes merely a repetition of hymns or words. Heart-felt sincerity is lacking. Most often, if we are honest enough to admit it, we pray to impress others. Real prayer does not depend upon how many beautiful words you have selected to repeat or whether you have a good accent or not. Prayer depends upon the purity of your feeling and the intensity of your yearning.

Therefore prayer requires the possession of a feeling that is free from egocentricities, a feeling that is not corrupted or tarnished by greed, anger, hatred, pride and other gross sentiments. It is true that every religion has definite prayers that are revealed by the great sages and saints, encompassing in them lofty ideas and thoughts. However, if you repeat them mechanically without entering into the beauty and grandeur of the meaning and the feeling that are encompassed by those words, you are merely depleting the energy of your speech.

Swami has been saying this all along. For the acquisition of the Grace of the Lord and the resulting Awareness of the Reality, the quality of peace is the prime need. Every aspirant is aware how Draupadi received the Grace of the Lord, through her righteousness and her piety. Though her husbands were mighty heroes and famous monarchs, she sought refuge in Lord Krishna, feeling that all others are of no use. Prahlada sought refuge under different circumstances. He surrendered all at birth to the Lord; he knew that the Lord was ever by his side and that he was ever by the side of his Lord; so he had no need to call out to him for protection. Prahlada was unaware of anything except the Lord; he could not distinguish between one function of the Lord and another. So how could he pray for protection? For all such God-intoxicated and dedicated souls, prayer is unnecessary. But for a majority of people prayer is necessary to keep us on the right path, the path that leads straight to God.

The Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) has said, “Be constant in prayer, and give charity and worship with the worshipful. And seek help with patience and prayer, though it is indeed hard except for the humble.”

Swami even guides us to the extent of laying down the track that we are to follow. He says, regular prayers twice a day will give the devotee strength and courage. He adds, the Grace of God can confer mental peace and so good sleep and rest for the mind.

“Feel that you are a hundred per cent dependent on God; He will look after you and save you from harm and injury. When you go to bed, offer thankful homage to Him for guiding and guarding you throughout the day. Activity must be dedicated to God, the highest good. Then it will provide health of body and mind.”

Swami in one of His conversations with Dr John Hislop, has said, “Whenever and wherever you put yourself in touch with God, that is the state of meditation.” Swami goes on to say that prayer must be united with practice. “You should not pray for one thing and practice another. The words you utter, the deeds you do, the prayers you utter, must all be along the same path.”

One-pointedness is all-important. Prayer first needs honesty, the acceptance of what one really is, of sincerely acknowledging that one is in need of Divine help. There has been enough documented evidence of the power of prayer. Recently doctors across the United States, in several hospitals recommended prayer as a part of the treatment of the ill. The doctors too sit and pray along with the patients. And it has been proved that the rate of recovery of those praying patients who have undergone even major surgeries, to be much faster than those who did not pray. — J. Prasad

Despite Skeptics, Medical Schools Address Spirituality

Mind Body Connection

Mind Body Connection

Despite Skeptics, Medical Schools Address Spirituality
By MANOJ JAIN The Washington Post
July 27, 2008

My patient is an elderly man with end-stage congestive heart failure, kidney failure and now an infected dialysis line, and he is unlikely to live more than six months. The Bible lies on his bedside table next to his hospital breakfast tray and the morning newspaper. I wonder if I should pray with him.

A neurosurgeon I know often prays with his patients before operating on their brains to remove a tumor or on their backs to relieve a herniated disk. In the pre-op holding area, he stands near the gurney and, with the patient’s permission, clasps his or her hand and recites a prayer. He usually concludes the prayer with “in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

My friend the neurosurgeon is unusual in this regard. Although studies show that 40 percent to 60 percent of hospitalized patients want their doctors to pray with them, fewer than 5 percent of doctors say they often or usually pray with patients.

As a doctor, I understand this. Although I am comfortable asking patients about their faith when I question them about their profession and their family or social support structure, I feel awkward, even squeamish, about praying with my patients. That may be because I was never taught how to pray with my patients in medical school, nor did I see my mentors praying with patients. Also, I am of the Jain faith, an Eastern religion based on the principle of nonviolence and the practice of meditation, and most of my patients are of the Christian or Jewish faith. In addition, at times I have seen religious beliefs compromise a patient’s health: One young patient of mine died in my intensive care unit because she refused blood transfusions based on her religious beliefs.

My reluctance to pray with patients comes in the face of growing evidence that spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation might be healthy for us. A study published in 2003 found workers who attended a meditation training session had a more powerful immune response to the influenza vaccine than those who did not meditate. Another study has even shown a sort of dose-response curve – the higher the church attendance, prayer and Bible study, the lower the average diastolic blood pressure – as if religious practices act therapeutically, almost like a blood-pressure pill. Although there’s no solid proof of a causal relationship between religion/spirituality and improved health, researchers such as Harold Koenig, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center, are convinced that spiritual practices can help you live longer.

Across medicine and society, there’s increasing interest in the link between religion/spirituality and health. Three-quarters of all U.S. medical schools now offer courses in spirituality and medicine, and academic centers such as the

George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, the Duke Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, and the Center for Spirituality and Health at the University of Florida are being established across the nation.

Yet many researchers are skeptical about the union of religion/spirituality and medicine. (Or perhaps I should say “reunion,” because religion/spirituality has been a part of medicine since ancient times: The words “holiness” and “healing” stem from a common root meaning “wholeness.”)

Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, worries that the linkage oversimplifies and trivializes religion by limiting its value to its effect, if any, on health.

In 2007, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality commissioned a research team to evaluate 813 studies on meditation. The group reported mixed evidence from some of these studies; most of the remaining studies had design flaws that made it impossible to assess their conclusions.

I myself was a co-investigator on the largest study on the therapeutic effect of intercessory prayer, an 1,800-patient, six-center, $2.4 million study led by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, now at Harvard Medical School’s affiliate Massachusetts General Hospital.

Our findings, published in 2006 in the American Heart Journal, showed that being prayed for did not improve outcomes, and it seemed to have a negative effect when patients knew they were the subject of prayers from afar.

Even if prayer were shown to improve outcomes, religious differences make it impractical for doctors to make it part of daily patient care.

I asked my neurosurgeon friend how he prays with patients who are Jewish, Muslim or Hindu. Does he end with the phrase about “our Lord, Jesus Christ”? He paused and then told me that it depends on the patient. I suspect that there is a selection bias and that he is more likely to offer prayers to Christian patients than others. He admits he feels uncomfortable offering a prayer in another faith or using the words “Allah,” “Om” or “Shalom” because for him the prayer would not feel authentic.

In the end, this is what prompts my discomfort with praying with patients. If a doctor is using prayer because he feels it will help to heal a patient and not just to improve the doctor-patient relationship, then I believe it is unfair, even discriminatory, for a doctor to offer a Christian prayer with a Christian patient and not offer another prayer to patients of other faiths.

Because the research literature is equivocal on the benefits or drawbacks of prayer and meditation, I explored my own heart and soul for an answer.

Without hesitation, I believe that practices such as prayer and meditation offer benefits in addition to medication and surgery and the doctor-patient relationship. I have seen it myself. On several occasions, I have meditated with my patients.

Once, a young HIV-positive woman complained of shortness of breath after recovering from severe pneumonia. Medically, nothing helped, and no cause was obvious other than anxiety. With some hesitation, I offered to do a session of meditation with her. She agreed and subsequently improved.

Often, I wonder how I can incorporate spiritual practices in my routine therapeutic recommendations, just as I recommend exercise and a nutritious diet. I believe it’s possible. But doing it, I believe, requires understanding two critical concepts.

First, we need to distinguish between religion (an organized institution with social boundaries, rituals and membership) and spirituality (the sense of the sacred within us and our relationship with a greater force). Spirituality may or may not be rooted in religion, but the core of all religions is spirituality. Once we can relate to the spiritual core of each patient, we do not have to agonize about finding the “appropriate” prayer and “politically correct” words for patients of different religions.

I think I could pray (using a generic prayer) or do a meditation exercise at a critical moment with my patient. At times, if this is uncomfortable or if there is not enough time, I could simply encourage the spiritual part of patients’ lives.

This is what I did with my patient suffering from end-stage congestive heart failure. I touched his Bible and said, “Many patients find this very helpful. I am glad you are using it.”

“Couldn’t make it without it, Doc,” he replied with a tone of hope and optimism.

Second, we doctors need to expand beyond medicine’s traditional body-mind focus. Most of my patients see themselves as having a soul and a spirit, and if I, as a doctor and a scientist, wish to treat them in a holistic manner, I need to take this thinking into account.

I was reminded of this recently on morning rounds. I walked into a room, saying, “Hello, Mr. Jones.” My patient was sitting in a chair in the corner, head bowed, lips moving silently.

I realized that I had interrupted his prayer. I bowed my head to join him. He continued. “Lord, I want to thank you for helping me heal and decreasing my pain . . . and now, Lord, I have to cut my prayers short this morning because my doctor is here.”

We both said, “Amen.”

Research suggests that religion offers health benefits, including longer life spans. Is that because of the healing benefits of prayer or because people of faith enjoy supportive, healthful lifestyles?

Some statistics:
• 83: The life expectancy of people who frequently attended religious services; for infrequent attendees, the estimate was 75.

• 70 percent: The percentage of churches that provide health-care services to their communities, according to a survey of 6,000 congregations.

• 40 percent to 60 percent: The percentage of hospital patients who want their doctors to pray with them. But fewer than 5 percent of doctors say they do so.

• 2,500: Number of Maryland kindergartners exempted from vaccine mandates on religious grounds, up from 1,300 in 2004.





Americans Believe In Miracles, Heaven, Power Of Prayer

Faith & Belief

Faith & Belief

Americans Believe In Miracles, Heaven, Power Of Prayer
Jun 23, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Around three-quarters of Americans believe in miracles, more Americans believe in heaven than in hell, and nearly six in 10 pray every day, a report based on a survey of 35,000 US adults showed Monday.

Of those who pray regularly, around a third — 31 percent — say God answers their prayers at least once a month, and one in five Americans said they receive direct answers to prayer requests at least once a week, the report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said.

Seventy-four percent of those surveyed for the report, called the US Religious Landscape Survey, said they believed in heaven as a place where people who have led good lives are rewarded, while only around six in 10 believed in hell, where unrepentant evil-doers languish in eternal punishment.

The report reflected the changing face of the US religious landscape and also the diversity of belief among Americans, Pew researchers said.

“Once upon a time, belief in heaven and hell were very closely related and in many people’s views were two sides of the same coin,” John Greene, a senior research fellow at Pew, told a telephone news conference.

“That does not seem to be the case any more. Many more people believe in heaven than believe in hell,” he said, surmising that Americans today view God as “someone who is merciful, generous and forgiving” rather than as “a judge who punishes people.”

Nearly eight in 10 American adults (79 percent) believe that miracles occur, the survey, conducted between May and August last year, showed.

But perhaps most striking in the report was the near unanimous belief in God, held by more than nine out of 10 Americans.

“While this survey finds that more than nine in 10 Americans believe in the existence of God or a universal spirit, it also shows that there are considerable differences in the nature of this belief,” Pew research fellow Greg Smith said.

“Six in 10 adults believe God is a person with whom people can have a relationship, but one in four, including about half of Jews and Hindus, see God as an impersonal force,” he said.

Oddly, one in five of those who identified themselves as atheists in the survey said they believe in God.

“It may very well be that they don’t really know what atheist means. It sounds good so they answered it; we call that measurement error,” Greene said.

“But this also shows us the complicated way that people think about their faith. Many people who identify as atheists may not be telling us they don’t believe in God, but that they don’t like organized religion,” he said.

“In addition to having atheists who say they believe in God, we have people who say they are very committed to a religious tradition but don’t believe in God,” he added.

“There is a lot of complexity in American religion,” Greene summarized.

The survey also showed that religious affiliation tends to translate into social and political leanings.

“Mormons and members of evangelical churches tend to be more conservative in their political ideology, while Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and atheists tend to be more politically liberal than the population overall,” the report says.

As the United States gears up to elect a new president in November, that translates to the simple fact that “there are votes to be had by the Democratic and Republican candidates by making appeals to religious groups,” said Greene.

Pew issued a first report, based on information gathered in the survey, in February this year.

That report, which focussed on the impact of immigrant flows on the religious landscape of the United States, predicted that Protestants would no longer be in the majority in the United States by the middle of this century.

“While native-born Protestants outnumber Catholics by two to one, among immigrants, Catholics outnumber Protestants by the same ratio,” Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, said when the first report was released.

“So even though immigration is by and large confirming the Christian social nature of the American people, it is helping to tilt the balance towards Catholicism,” he said.


Healing Power Of Spirituality

Power Of Prayer

Power Of Prayer

Many Medical Schools Now Include Classes On Healing Power Of Spirituality
By Zulima Palacio
14 July 2008
Spiritual Healing report / Broadband – Download (WM)
Spiritual Healing report / Broadband – Watch (WM)

For the past 20 years, western medicine in the United States has been exploring uncharted territory: the healing power of spirituality. Now, many medical schools include classes on the subject. And multiple studies point to spirituality as a key element in boosting immune functions and enhancing and accelerating the healing process beyond conventional medical treatment. Producer Zulima Palacio has the story. Carol Pearson narrates.

Praying, being part of nature, meditating or practicing yoga – practitioners say they all have a common element: a strong part of a person’s spiritual life and, potentially, a great importance in health and well-being., has been studying the subject for more than 20 years.

“Would you say that your spirituality is important to you in they way you think about your health?” Dr. Puchalski asked her patient.

“Very important because, its like a bad feeling; if you get up in the morning with gloom and doom in your mind, you are bound to have gloom and doom all day,” patient responds.

For two decades, 82 year old Vera Thompson has been a Buddhist with strong spiritual practices. Her case, as with many other patients, has provided Dr. Puchalski with great insight about the healing power of spirituality.

Dr. Puchalski says. “People who have spiritual practice tend to recover from depression a little sooner than those that do not. There are studies that look at blood pressure, incredible studies looking at meditation actually that affect blood pressure and resilience to stress.”

Dr. Puchalski is the founder and Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health. She also teaches spirituality and health at The George Washington University Medical School. She says the most significant role of spirituality in health includes the ability to cope with serious illness, with suffering and stress.

Two weeks ago her patient Gwenda Martin had a total mastectomy to treat breast cancer. Martin attributes her quick recovery to the power of positive thinking and the attention of her church community. “I think it had a lot to do with it because when I went into surgery I knew I was going to be fine,” Martin said.

When meeting her patients, Dr. Puchalski asks them many non-conventional questions involving their physical, emotional, social and spiritual life. In many ways, she says, she is talking about the power of the mind, “If someone says that spirituality is like a placebo, I think it may be truth because what we are doing is engaging the power of our minds,” Dr. Puchalski said.

Many years ago, Robert Balkam had clinical depression when he visited Dr. Puchalski for the first time. Now at 87, he says he is feeling better than ever. “You knew that faith meant enough to me that you knew that that is as important in my recovery as my eating,” Balkam said.

Dr. Puchalski says she tries to keep the alliance between mind, body and spirit. She says studies done on Tibetan monks and brain imaging while meditating have established the positive effects of spirituality. However she recognizes that western society is dominated by technology and scientific methods that make wellbeing very hard to measure.