With Love Man is God – Sharon Sandweiss Speech

With Love Man is God – Sharon Sandweiss Speech

Ms. Sharon Sandweiss (wife of Dr. Samuel Sandweiss) was blessed to have an opportunity to speak in the Divine Presence on the occasion of Ladies’ Day 2009. In a gesture that is normal for any speaker, Sharon, upon coming to the podium, went upto Bhagawan seeking Divine blessings and in that moment of bliss missed out offering the Rose that was meant for Bhagawan. After reaching the mike, upon realizing her “folly”, she rushed back to Bhagawan with an apologetic smile, presenting the rose and what followed was a stream of unsullied love for the Divine. She spoke about Him and His Love sharing glimpses from His conversations with the Sandweiss family in some of the interviews.

Sharon Sandweiss: With deep humility and love I offer pranams at the holy feet of our beloved Sai Baba.

Respected elders, brothers and sisters, and dear students,

I am honored and deeply humbled to stand before you today. I offer my heartfelt gratitude to Sai Baba for His loving compassion.

Thank You, Baba, for Your love. Thank You for this festive, sacred, and meaningful day when we celebrate the sanctity of motherhood and the courage, compassion and amazing capabilities of women.

I PRAY THAT YOUR DIVINE LOVE COMES THROUGH MY WORDS.

Recently, my husband and I tried to express our gratitude. “Baba, You are always serving others. How can we help You?” Baba smiled and said, “I don’t need your help. You help your husband, and he helps you. You’re one. AND I HELP EVERYONE.” “But Baba,” we cried. “We love You so much!” Baba responded, “And I love you more!”

How can one understand this Divine Love?

This DIVINE LOVE is irresistible. It has brought us here from nearly every country and religion in the world. We all love our country, our sacred books, our family customs and special spices. Yet, we hunger for the same thing: We all want peace. We all want to love and be loved.

Once, my husband and I shared an interview with a large group. Baba started asking, “Where are you from?” The answer, “Russia.” He went around the room, asking everyone. Then He playfully asked me, “Are you from Russia too?” I answered, “No Baba”–but then I remembered, “Oh—But my grandparents were from Russia.” Baba smiled lovingly, and said, “See the Connection. ALL are connected. All are One.”

At first Glance, Russia and America seem very distant. Yet, the distance shrinks when compared to the vastness of space. We all inhabit MOTHER EARTH. We share the mighty mountains and great oceans. We are responsible to each other. When a factory belches toxic air, we all suffer everywhere. But when we offer love and work for the good of all in ONE UNITED VOICE, we can hear the UNIVERSE rejoice!

Thirty-seven years ago I was like many others. I worried about life and I worried about death, I worried about our children, and I worried about our pets. I smiled on the outside; but inside I was a sad and fearful soul facing a universe that seemed meaningless.

Fortunately, I married Samuel, who was constantly searching for meaning. In 1972 Sam went to India in search of God, and returned a month later transformed. He exclaimed, “God is on earth in the form of Sai Baba, You are God, I am God. Everything is God! Now our lives will change forever.” What was he talking about? Who was Sai Baba? What would happen to us? I was confused and scared.

WE have to remember that this was in 1972, in the ‘Dark Ages’ before the internet. Today we click a button and instantly connect with our wonderful Radio Sai to hear Baba’s words. But in 1972, it wasn’t easy to find information about Sai Baba, especially in the West.

I watched Samuel closely after that first trip. He was truly transformed–Happier, Calmer, more Peaceful, more Patient, and best of all, he became more Loving!! (Of course, he was always a loving person. He just became MORE loving.)

I was amazed. Can a person change so quickly? I, too, wanted peace. I, too, wanted faith! Within a few months I was on a plane to India with my husband. Baba had spared me a life of despair. He has brought Sanctity and Joy to our family life.

Sai Baba is a living presence in our life. He knows and loves each one of us. He lives in our heart as love, and love is all that’s lasting!
My husband and I were thrilled to tell our daughters—you’re not just the body. —You’re Divinity Itself. You’re pure love. Be Bold, Brave- like lions-and Unafraid, Follow your Conscience, think Sacred Thoughts, do Good Deeds, seek Good Company; You may stumble & fall, but problems are your teacher. Your loving Sai is by your side. Speak to Him—He’s in your heart as love!

Telling our children is not enough; they’re quick to see hypocrisy! We must become the example and show unity in thought, word, and deed. How can we tell our children to speak sweetly, if we’re shouting at our spouse? We must practice and refine, until we sparkle and shine. Following is a brief example of this truth.

When my husband returned from India, he immediately became a vegetarian!! This was unusual in America, where people think a meal without meat is incomplete! At first I was offended —he was refusing my cooking. But within a month or two, I suddenly realized that I was eating an animal, and I immediately became a vegetarian!

But how could we force our 4 young daughters to make such a radical change? Baba says that He is the Source, not the Force. So we told the girls that we would no longer have meat in the house, but that they could eat it outside the home.

But one day our twin daughters, who were about 7 years old, said to us, “Mommy—Daddy–we love animals too much. We don’t want to EAT them!” Their younger sisters chimed in “We too—we don’t want to eat animals either!!”Imagine-7 years old, and they had the PURITY to know that all life is sacred.

THIS small example illustrates several points: First, when we become the example, others will follow.
Secondly, WE ALL hold the TRUTH within us, and it is our duty as parents and teachers to help children manifest this TRUTH.
The third point is that secular life is not separate from spiritual life. When all acts are infused with love, EVERYTHING becomes sacred, including eating habits.

We worry about the State of the World. We want our children to be safe and happy, yet we see greed and disharmony everywhere.

YEARS AGO, we brought our concerns to Sai Baba: “Baba, The world is in trouble.”

Baba responded, “NO, THE WORLD IS GOOD; THE MIND OF MAN IS THE PROBLEM.”

“Baba, What should we do about schools?”

Baba answered, “The schools are the same. You must speak with your children; find out what they’re thinking. You don’t always know what is on their mind.”

Baba was reminding us of importance of good communication, respectful communication. Baba says, “First listen, try to understand, then adjust, or compromise, so as to achieve UNITY.”

As Baba spoke, I had a sudden thought–Where would the world be without the presence of God…

Baba interrupted my thought, and in a strong and serious voice, He said, ‘YES, IF IT WERE NOT FOR ME, EVERYTHING WOULD BE LOST!”

My husband and I shuddered at the urgency in His words—

GOD HIMSELF HAS COME TO SAVE US FROM OURSELVES!

Many years I asked Baba, “Can we do more?”

He responded, “Yes, I will give you the POWER, the STRENGTH, and the BLESSINGS to do more.”

He later said, “HOME AND FAMILY.”

Today, on Ladies’ Day, we affirm that family life is the foundation of life! When there is HARMONY, PEACE, and MUTUAL LOVE in our Family, God is present and the world is HAPPY!

We are ALL members of one Family— OUR ONE DIVINE FAMILY

When we serve our family with love, we SANCTIFY our lives.

When we uphold Justice, we JUSTIFY our lives

When we support the suffering women in the world, we DIGNIFY our lives.

When we preserve Mother Earth, we PURIFY our lives

And when we offer all to God, we GLORIFY our lives.

TODAY is a happy day.

TODAY we are DANCING IN ECSTASY PRAISING GOD’S GLORY

TODAY we pray together, “BABA-KEEP US CLOSE. DON’T EVER LET US GO! Grant us the POWER, the STRENGTH, and the BLESSINGS to earn your grace, and become Your Bliss.”

WE LOVE YOU.

Thank you, and Sai Ram.

Reference

GURUPURNIMA DIVINE DISCOURSE: 7th July 2009 at Sai Kulwant Hall

SatGuru Sathya Sai Baba

SatGuru Sathya Sai Baba


GURUPURNIMA DIVINE DISCOURSE: 7th July 2009 at Sai Kulwant Hall

BE EXEMPLARS OF SELFLESS SERVICE
by Sathya Sai Baba

(Editors note. On the auspicious Guru Purnima morning, four senior functionaries, namely, Sarvasree A.V. Appa Rao, Financial Controller of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, A.V. Sathyanarayanamurthy, Senior Engineer in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prof. Nanjundaiah, Controller of Examinations, Sri Sathya Sai University and Prof. A.V. Lakshminarasimham, Registrar, Sri Sathya Sai University were felicitated by Bhagawan. In the evening Bhagawan again called Smt. & Sri. Appa Rao, Smt. & Sri. (Prof.) Nanjundaiah to the dais, to bless them profusely before commencing His Divine Discourse)

Embodiments of Divine Atma!

In the morning there was no time to talk about these people. Ever since our hospital started functioning, Appa Rao has been working there as an auditor. For fourteen years, he worked hard, day and night. I am pleased with his work. He came here with the sole intention of rendering selfless service, not with any other motive. Those were the initial stages of the Super Speciality Hospital, so there was plenty of work, day and night. He alone had to attend to everything … receiving parcels of medicines, checking them and noting them down. In spite of being a non medical person, he worked untiringly taking care of patients also. He is meticulous in checking all details. He has worked with full satisfaction. All these fourteen years, he never aspired for anything.

He did not accept even a naya paisa. Everybody in the hospital earns these days twenty to thirty thousand rupees. But he has not taken any money. He had to climb up and down the stairs many times everyday, while looking after the stores, patients, nurses and doctors as well. He looked after so many things, all alone. He never complained to Me also.

He has been adjusting himself. He has never been deficient in his work. I Myself used to see him now and then to enquire about the work. We should express our gratitude to such a dedicated worker.

With much compassion towards him, I told him, “Appa Rao, Now the number of patients coming to our hospital has increased by thousands. Mentally, of course, you are quite alert, but physically you are weak. Therefore, take rest at home. You have come to serve Swami. There was no shortcoming whatsoever in your service.”

His wife also supported him and has been taking good care of him at home, looking after his food and other needs meticulously. He has no habit of taking food outside. So, when necessary, she used to send his food to the hospital.

Appa Rao has also been taking care of poor people in many respects. He rendered help in many heart operations to the poor people. He used to send free medicines to the homes of those heart patients even after they were discharged. He worked very hard. My heart melted at his service. How can we leave such a person who worked so hard? Everybody, including students, sought his help. I tell our students often, “Help ever, Hurt never.”

We do not take even a paisa from anyone for rendering medical services. Our hospital always gives and never takes. He rendered seva (selfless service) with the feeling, “This is my hospital, my Swami’s hospital.” He considered the hospital as his own and served it selflessly. Even when I was away physically, I helped him in all that he did.

As this is our first Super Speciality Hospital, he had to work very hard for its development. Subsequently, another Super Speciality Hospital has been established in Bangalore. There is an Orthopaedic division also in our hospital here. Appa Rao has been looking after all this. I liked his work.
Before this, he worked for the government. There also, he rendered good service. As he utilised all his experience for the benefit of our hospital, today we have gathered here to honour him.

His younger brother Murthy is an electrical engineer. He is also working with us. Whenever there is any electrical problem he is called by telephone, and he attends to it immediately. Even at night, he is ever ready to do service.

The youngest brother Lakshminarasimham worked in our university as Registrar. He is also growing older, and needs a little rest. He has not married, so there is no bondage. He has been totally dedicated to our university. He first joined in Seva Dal. He did Ph.D. with the intention of joining our college. These three brothers have been rendering good service. They have been very helpful to us, in spite of many troubles they had to face.

Nanjundaiah has been the controller of examinations. He has been very kind to all students. He has been working day and night in order to declare the results well in time. He never used to take rest even for a while. He would engage himself in correcting papers even while suffering from fever. Everybody was depending upon him. He had to take much trouble in sending results to Anantapur and Bangalore colleges. We were very much concerned at the troubles he had to face. His wife also has been taking good care of him at home, providing timely food and looking after other needs meticulously.

The University has now grown very large. We are receiving more applications as compared to other institutes. Right from big officers to small clerks in India, all have great regard for our institutions. Be it the hospital or the university, there is no habit of taking money for the services rendered in our institutions. We know only to give. In Sai Organisations, there is only giving and no taking.

Recently, we appointed a committee to oversee the working of the Hospital and provide necessary help and guidance. We have procured some new machinery also. We have even imported necessary equipments from abroad. We have in our stock a variety of books. The University has produced many Ph.D.s. This year also, fourteen researchers got Ph.D. degrees.

The students have great faith in these two people. These two have been very helpful to us with regard to hospital services and educational activities. All the responsibility was shouldered by them. They used to send me letters while I was not present here. I used to discuss every detail with them. I used to ask Nanjundaiah about the examination results. The results were always good.

We have now decided not to burden them with these responsibilities any longer. Today, I am thanking and blessing them. These two are foremost among those who have strived hard for our Institutes. Therefore, wherever they are, Swami is always with them, guiding and guarding them. They came here only for the sake of Swami. Therefore, I wish to provide them with houses and keep them here only. Just as they looked after patients and students, I wish that hereafter also they both extend necessary guidance and help to the newcomers in the respective areas. There is much to learn from these two people. What is this Organisation doing for the society? How is it doing? What is their responsibility in this regard? Such details should be accorded to the newcomers, and necessary zeal and motivation should be inculcated.

The university was started first with undergraduate courses only. Now studies up to Ph.D. level are available.

Our university and hospitals are now being regarded as the best in India. I am very happy that you have contributed much for this name and fame. You always belong to Me. You have never thought that you are working for the hospital or the college. You have been working with the feeling, “This is ours, this is our Swami’s.” That is why we got all first prizes for the colleges and high reputation for hospitals. Even this information is known only through newspapers; we never proclaimed it in any manner. Our hospitals and university have become very famous indeed.

The students have learnt many things from such people, and have grown up to great heights. Many of them, who are Ph.D.s, have been appointed here so as to lead these institutions. Now many novel subjects have been introduced along with the conventional faculties like B.Com., B.Sc., M.Com., M.Sc., Ph.D., etc. Many deserving students are unable to get admission in other schools and colleges and with great hope are looking at us for help. I told our authorities to take such students also into our fold. We do not have any selfish motive. It is only in consideration of their parents’ anguish. They have given us the responsibility of looking after the welfare and progress of their children.

Appa Rao and Nanjundaiah must both be given the job of keeping watch with vigilant eyes on the affairs of these institutions. In other institutions, new entrants have to pay money and take receipts. But our hospitals and university have never given a scope for such things. Here everything is free, free, free. People wonder how we are managing these institutions with so many entrants, like this, without taking even a paisa? They just come in their clothing, as we admit them here. We are admitting all, including those who obtained average marks, and we are developing them into ‘First class’ students.

In other hospitals, patients have to spend thousands of rupees toward heart operations. But we do not charge them even a paisa. For us, love and devotion are important and not other things. “Love to love, Heart to heart.” We seek only this. They are all deriving great joy. Many patients are coming from Nepal and Bhutan for free treatment. In this endeavour, the students also must extend necessary help to the doctors and other officials. Our hospital and Institutes have been fostered in this manner for the past twenty years.

This trend has to continue in the future also. Without begging anybody, we have made fixed deposits to the tune of twenty or thirty crores for each institute, and they are running on the interest accrued from these deposits. I have made necessary arrangements in this regard. We are paying at par with the Government salaries. Students of our institutes or patients in our hospitals need not worry about anything. We take care of everything.

You must strive to keep everybody happy. Make parents happy. Help your parents. Some parents are being admitted into old age homes when they are short of money. This is not correct. You must provide necessary support to your aged parents. It is your own responsibility to look after your parents. Even though Swami is taking care of your education and other necessities, the aspect of parent’s care is your own responsibility. Parents should not be sent to old age homes. You must keep them with you and serve them. You must work hard and take good care of them. You need not prepare special items for their sake. It is enough if you can give them whatever you are eating.

As soon as students pass the exam and acquire a degree, they go in search of jobs.
When all women go out on jobs, who will look after chores of their homes?
When they go out for teaching other children, who will teach their own children?
When husband and wife go to offices, who will take care of their children?
(Telugu Poem)

Some people are deprived of homely food because there is no one at home to cook food. So they eat whatever they get. Thus, they are spoiling their own health. There is no happiness for a woman who is employed in an office. They spend their valuable time in some clubs. They do not have any consideration for their children in the house and for their timely food. One should give priority to the fostering of the children.

An officer gives a phone call to his house and tells the cook, “We have arranged a tea party at home today. Make all arrangements for the party.” But there is no tea powder, no sugar, no material for making chapathis or pakodas in the house. This is the kind of situation they have at home. Also, the children’s health gets spoiled because of inconsistent food habits and lack of parental care. They drink contaminated water and spoil their health, because there is no one at home to guide them.

Why should the wife go out and work? When she goes to school to teach other children, who will teach her own children? So it is your own duty to take care of your children. It is equivalent to earning a good salary if you can teach your own children and bring them up well. One feels sorry at the state of a woman who fails to take care of her husband and children. It is enough if you are able to provide proper timely food to your children and take care of their health. If you take up jobs, leaving your children at home, your entire earnings will go toward cooks, baby sitters, and cleaners. The house gets mismanaged. What you spend toward the cook, caretaker, and others will work out to be more than what you earn. You can save so much money if only you attend to your own work. This is the way of life all women must adopt.

The children should also learn to render necessary help at home. As soon as you come home, find out what is available and what is not available? What is needed immediately? When there is shortage of water, the boy should not keep quiet. He should immediately rush out with a container and fetch water from the available source. He should not feel, “I am educated. Why should I carry water?” Family life involves such domestic chores.

Students must learn how to make parents happy. Parents’ duty is to take care of their children. This is the education that is essential for one and all. After having obtained a Ph.D., one need not go far away for the sake of an extra thousand rupees. If you take care of your children and do service to parents, that itself is a great wealth.

Today, parents are being treated like servants. It is enough if you take care of your parents, your children and the family. That is real education. Getting a first class and struggling for a job is not a wise thing. Whatever job you take up, you must help your parents. This is what you must learn.

Students must emulate people like Appa Rao. “Help ever, hurt never.” These are the good qualities that you should learn in the Sri Sathya Sai College. Whenever any poor person comes to you, you must feed them first, even foregoing your meal if necessary. Instead of going to a club and spending money there, it is better to use that money for the sake of the poor. It is necessary that you learn good qualities and habits so that you may improve society.

First of all you must develop love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society. Bad qualities have to be curbed and ethics must be fostered in the society. When morality is lost, what is the use of any amount of social service you do? These are the lessons that you must learn. When you follow the path of elders such as these, you can reap immense joy and goodness in life. It applies to girls also. You must learn from parents the aspects of service and put them into practice. If you make your parents happy, your children will make you happy.

What is meant by morality? It is not just earning money and depositing in the bank. You must refrain from troubling your parents. When you have love for God, you will have fear of sin. After acquiring morality you may proceed to serve the society at large. When you are unable to attain God’s love, how do you expect to win people’s love? You must earn name in the society in a way that people talk of you as a good and helpful person. You must learn from parents how to help.

First thing is to develop love for God, fear of sin and morality in society. How can morality be acquired while one is engaged in acts of sin? When you come across elders, always respect and serve them.

Today I am honouring such good people so that you will try to emulate them. This is what gives Me happiness. First take care of your children at home and extend happiness to your parents. How can you be happy while your parents are not happy? If today you love your parents, tomorrow you will receive love from your children. You can be called educated only when you learn these two things. You may acquire big degrees, but who will love you if you do not love your parents? Society will love you when you take good care of your parents. First set your house in order and then think about the progress of society. It is with this purpose that I am honouring today these experienced elders. You should take a lesson from this and follow in the footsteps of the elders.

Discourse by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Reference

Love For God, Fear Of Sin And Morality In Society

SatGuru Sathya Sai Baba

SatGuru Sathya Sai Baba


LOVE FOR GOD, FEAR OF SIN AND MORALITY IN SOCIETY
By Sathya Sai Baba

Gurur-Brahma Gurur-Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheswara;
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma Thasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.
(Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Maheswara. Guru is verily the supreme Brahman. So, salutations to the Guru.)

Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva are the three different names and forms of the same divinity “All are one, be alike to everyone.” Though the names and forms of the physical body are different, Divinity in all beings is one only. Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu is the Protector, and Shiva is the Destroyer. Yet, all three aspects represent the one Divinity. The one God when engaged in the creative aspect is referred to as Brahma, while protecting and sustaining the living beings as Vishnu, and, finally, in the act of Laya (dissolution) as Shiva.

In order to avoid the confusion created by ascribing different names and forms to Divinity, God is referred to as Atma or the Absolute Brahman (the nameless, formless, attributeless Divinity). The one Atma permeates all living beings.

Religions are different, path is the same;
Clothes are different, cotton is one;
Beings are different, Atma is one;
Nationality and lifestyle are different, human birth is the same.

Every human being has to develop three qualities: love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society. It is only lack of fear of sin that is responsible for the present state of lack of morality in society. Love is the cementing factor that unites people. Where there is love, there society will be united. Devoid of morality, one does not deserve to be called a human being. Hence, morality is important for everything.

Though God showers His love on one and all, it is the human being who has lost the precious quality of fear of sin. Man today is committing several sins with the belief that God is kind and will ultimately forgive his sins. With this belief, he is indulging in more and more sinful acts. He has developed a sort of complacency in this regard and thinks that he can escape punishment.

But the fact is otherwise. Though God is compassionate and may forgive all sinful acts, a human being has to necessarily pay for their sins. Hence, every human has to develop these three qualities of love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society. Where there is no fear of sin, there will be no morality in society.

People are behaving most irresponsibly and are undertaking several undesirable activities with unbridled ego. They have no fear of sin. They don’t even think for a moment of the consequences of their acts. One has therefore to restrain oneself from seeing evil, speaking evil, and doing evil. If not, the consequences of these evil deeds will boomerang on that person later, if not today. It is also possible that the results of all these sinful acts will come back to that person all at one time with a bang.

If one is really interested in the welfare of the society, one must work for the development of morality in society. One who lacks morality is not a human being at all but is an animal, verily. Speaking untruth, doing injustice to others, and indulging in unrighteous acts and bad practices is very bad. One has to lead one’s life by following the three principles of love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society. It is said that one who has no morality in themself is worse than a monkey. In fact, a monkey is better than such an individual.

No one will respect an individual who indulges in immoral acts in this world. Only a person who follows moral principles will command respect from one and all. Even those who try to harm such a person will be restrained by others with a warning. “That person is a good person. Do not try to meddle with that person.” Those who lack morality are looked down upon in society as worse than dogs. Hence, one has to develop morality and lead a life of moral principles at all times.

There are three sadhanas (spiritual practices) by which love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society can be developed. They are bhakti (devotion to God), jnana (the path of wisdom), and vairagya (detachment). Karma (activity) is a natural and essential attribute of the physical body. It is only when the body undertakes good karmas that the mind will function well. When the mind is sound, love for God can be developed. Thus bhakti, jnana, and vairagya are interlinked with love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society. They are like the three blades of a fan. It is only when the three blades rotate that we can have refreshing air; otherwise we feel uncomfortable.

People today question why we have to develop love for God. Love for God enables one to develop fear of sin, which in turn will develop morality in society. Everyone has to discriminate between good and bad, sin and virtue. Having analysed, one must try to do good only. Be good, do good, see good, this is the way to God. Devoid of these three, any number of rituals, worship, japa (chanting the divine name) and tapa (penance) will be of no use.

The nine forms of devotion are: sravanam (listening), kirtanam (singing), Vishnusmaranam (contemplating on Vishnu), Padasevanam (serving His Lotus Feet), vandanam (salutation), archanam (worship), dasyam (servitude), sneham (friendship), and Atmanivedanam (self-surrender).

The first step is sravanam (listening). Then one has to analyse whether what has been listened to is good or bad. If you think that it is a bad suggestion and therefore not to your liking, how can you implement it?

It is possible today that one can get one’s work done by speaking untruth and scoring victory over others by false and unjust means. Hence, one has to enquire into the sanctity or otherwise of every act that one undertakes. One should not be complacent about the consequences that would follow; sooner or later, the result of a sinful act would accrue. It may happen now or a little later, at any moment. Hence, be prepared to undertake only good and noble acts with a pure mind.

More than anything else, purity of conscience is of utmost importance. That is Atma Thatthwa. Nobody can understand what Atma is. Since the bodies and forms are many, some names have to be given in order to distinguish between them. However, Atma or Brahma has neither birth nor death, unlike the physical bodies. Hence, no one can identify it as such and such.

Atma, though beyond one’s comprehension, has been described as nitya, shuddha, buddha, mukta, nirmala swarupinam (eternal, pure, enlightened, free and embodiment of sacredness). It is niranjanam, sanathana niketanam (unsullied, final abode). There is only one Atma, and it is immanent in all beings. That is the essential nature of the Atma.

A small example; when you place one hundred pots filled with water under the sky on a moonlit night, you will find one moon reflecting in each of those pots. The body is like a pot. It is bound to perish at any time. Then where does the moon (Atma) go? It does not go anywhere. It is there. However, since there is no water (body), it is not reflecting in the water. In the same manner, the Atma is present in every human being.

A person that does not have good character has no morality. A person with no morality does not deserve to be called a human being. We have to earn honour and respect for ourselves in the society. However, we don’t find anyone concerned about good name in the society these days.

But people are very particular about who is rich and who is poor. Money comes and goes, but morality comes and grows is the adage. It is, therefore, not correct to aspire for wealth, power, and such other worldly things. All these possessions are transitory. You may try to hold on tightly to them, but they just slip away even without your noticing them.

The Atma, however, is eternal. There is no coming and going for Atma. It always remains an eternal witness to everything that goes on in the world. We have to develop faith in such eternal Atma. Those who develop faith in the Atma Thatthwa will not be disturbed by injustice, wrong, and bad practices.

People say “My body, my senses, my mind, my intellect”, etc., but “you” are none of these. For example, you say, “This is my book.” This book is in your hands at this moment. The next moment somebody wishes to have a look at it. It goes into his hands. Similarly, you hold some currency in your hands. After some time it will go into someone else’s hands. It just comes and goes. But, morality comes and grows. Morality has no form.

If someone wishes to improve society and the world, morality has to be developed in the individual first. Several political parties come forward these days saying that they will improve society. They propose to transform society. But they invariably fail because what they try to do is to garner the votes of people for their selfish ends. They do not at all bother about society.

If you want to transform society, there must be purity in your heart. First, the individual and then society. In order that the individual is transformed, there must be love for God and fear of sin. Then comes morality in society. Individuals make a society. Hence, if unity among people is developed there will be purity and Divinity. Unity, purity, and divinity cannot be attained by mere education.

Supposing you sit for meditation, closing your eyes. However, the mind goes on wandering everywhere. You try to bring it back to the starting point. It is all a practice. Only when the wavering mind is stilled is meditation possible. This process of making the mind steady is called concentration. Meditation is possible only after concentration. The proper order is concentration, contemplation, and meditation.

Do not believe someone who claims to be meditating the moment they sit. That is an artificial exercise, not meditation. Real meditation is forgetting oneself totally. It is forgetting dehatma bhava (the feeling of identification with the body) completely. One has to totally give up attachment to the senses. Then only will the mind be steady.

Once, there was a father who had four sons. Each one wanted to follow a different vocation to earn money. One son wanted to take up business. Another wanted to open a small grocery shop. The third son wanted to take up employment, and the fourth another vocation. Though money earning was the common objective, each one wanted to go in a different path. Finally, it is the means that are adopted for earning money that result in accumulation of virtue or sin. People commit a sin even without their knowing that they are doing so. The sins committed by people will continue to haunt them.

Sometime ago, there were heavy floods in the State of Orissa. They ravaged several villages in four districts. The houses, trees, standing crops, even animals, and some people were swept away by the surging flood water. Hundreds of villages were inundated, and people were marooned. They were fear-struck at the fury of nature.

Then I sent a telegram: “Don’t worry. Be happy. I will build your houses.” The people of Orissa came to see Me, by arranging a special train. The government was there, MPs and MLAs were there, who were expected to come to their rescue in that hour of need and provide succour to them. But none came forward. Immediately I sent ten crores and arranged for distribution of relief material and building of pucca houses for the affected people.

I am not interested in accumulation of money. I want only your love. Be happy. Develop your morality and love for God. If you develop love, that love itself will drive away the demonic qualities in you.

Before the Rama-Ravana war commenced, Hanuman entered Lanka, as part of his mission to search the whereabouts of Sita. After he found Sita, he was on his way back to pass on the information to Sri Rama. He was caught by the demons and brought to the court of Ravana. Ravana was infuriated on seeing Hanuman, who destroyed the beautiful Asokavana while he was returning. Ravana questioned Hanuman, “Who are you? How dare you enter this impregnable city of Lanka?” He underestimated the power of Hanuman and derided him addressing him as an ordinary monkey. Hanuman replied in the same tone as an equal and told Ravana, “The Lord who cut off the ears and nose of your sister has sent me.”

Ravana was very angry, since no one dared to talk to him in such an undignified manner. In fact, Hanuman used the same language as Ravana did. Ravana felt insulted. Hanuman was not bothered in the least, for he was always chanting Ramanama, which gave him the courage and strength to face any situation.

Ravana could not tolerate the impertinence and arrogance of Hanuman and therefore ordered that Hanuman’s tail be wrapped with clothes dipped in oil and set on fire. Immediately, clothes soaked in oil were wrapped round the tail of Hanuman and set on fire. Hanuman did not keep quiet. With that burning tail, he jumped from one building to the other and thus set the entire city on fire. Beautiful and palatial buildings studded with precious stones went up in flames within no time. Even Mandodari’s palace was engulfed by flames. She came out. People ran helter-skelter here and there. Not a single building was spared from the raging flames.

Hanuman then advised Mandodari, “Mother, it is the sin committed by your husband that is responsible for this devastating fire and consequent loss of so many lives and property. Please tell your husband not to commit such heinous sins hereafter. If you can thus save your husband, it amounts to saving yourself and the Rakshasa clan.”

People have to suffer the consequences of their actions. God is only a witness. Good or bad, one gets the fruit of one’s actions. Hence, first and foremost, one has to develop morality, which is based on developing human qualities first. If human qualities are to be developed in a person, one should have love for God. Thus, love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society are interdependent. When there is morality in society, all people will be safe.

One important point has to be remembered in this context. You may hide your actions from society, but the omnipresent God knows everything. You will have to suffer the consequences of your actions. It is an immutable law. Hence, if you can do help to others, it is alright. Otherwise just keep silent. Do not harm others. Do not commit a mistake by thought, word and deed. Sometimes, you may not get the result of your actions immediately. It will take some time. But surely the result will follow.

People study spiritual texts like the Bhagavad Gita but fail to realise their own innate nature. The Upanishads exhort one, “Dear son, try to realise your own nature first. Know thyself! If you can do that, it amounts to knowing everything.” The knowledge of the Self (Atma Bodha) entails realisation, “I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not the intellect,” etc.

The mind is like a cloth consisting of threads woven together. How long will this cloth last? As long as the threads are intact. Once you remove the threads, the cloth loses its shape. Or, if you put the cloth in fire, it will be reduced to ashes.

People say, “So and so is my wife, so and so my child, so and so is my son-in-law, so and so is my son,” etc. These relationships are only illusion. Who are all these people? All are God’s property. Everything in this world is God’s property; nobody has any right, whatsoever. People fight between themselves claiming rights, thus wasting their time. “Time waste is life waste.” In fact, it is not time we are wasting; we are wasting our precious life.

In conclusion, I would like to stress once again that you should cultivate love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society. These are valuable assets, which you must always safeguard. If you safeguard these values, they will in turn protect you.

You think you have to realise Brahma Thatthwa (the Brahma Principle) today. In fact, Brahman has no name and form. It is nirgunam, niranjanam, sanathana niketanam, nitya, shuddha, buddha, mukta, nirmala swarupinam (God is attributeless, unsullied, final abode, eternal, pure, enlightened, free, and embodiment of sacredness) The Balvikas children from Tamil Nadu are waiting to present a cultural programme. Witness that programme. I will continue My Discourse tomorrow.

Discourse by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Reference

Sathya Sai Baba Discourse In Kodai – Realise The Principle Of Unity

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Sathya Sai Baba Discourse In Kodai – Realise The Principle Of Unity

Creation emerges from truth and merges into truth.
Is there a place in the cosmos where truth does not exist?
Visualise this pure and unsullied truth. (Telugu Poem)

WHEN YOU LOSE FAITH, YOU LOSE GOD
Everyone desires peace and happiness. Nobody wants sorrows and difficulties. In his speech, Popat has said that all are the embodiments of God. God is one. There is no second entity. When you think there is a second entity, then it is untruth. Therefore, there is nothing like a second entity.

All are One
Right from small ants, mosquitoes, and birds to mighty elephants, every being is the manifestation of God. Even the trees, hills, and mountains are manifestations of God. Such being the case, how can there be a second entity? A second entity is just your imagination and illusion. It is of your own making. Just think where your body has come from. You say that it has come from your parents. No, no. You have not come from your parents. You have come from yourself. There is only one entity. Where is the existence of the second?

But people today put their faith in diversity and not in unity. What does unity mean? It is not the combination of many; it is the realisation of oneness. When you have mirrors all around you, you see your many forms. These are all your different forms. But this is not the truth. The one who asks the question and the one who gives the reply, both are one and the same. All are one. Daivam manusha rupena (God is in the form of a human being). The same person appears in many forms. To consider these forms as different from each other is a mistake.

When I am speaking in the microphone, you are listening to My voice. The speaker is only one but the same voice is heard by many ears. Ekoham sarva bhutanam (I am the only Reality in all beings), Ekam sath viprah bahudha vadanti (truth is one, but the wise refer to it by various names). There is only one sun in the sky. But we see its reflection in many rivers, tanks, and vessels. Sun is only one. But wherever there is water, you see its reflection. Pour water in a plate, and you can see the reflection of the sun even in that water. Does it mean that the sun is there in this water? No, no. It is only the reflection of the sun. In the same way, Atma is only one. The mind, the intellect, the subconscious mind, and the ego sense are like different vessels. Therefore, divinity is one.

God can be seen in pure heart
Everything is God. If you think otherwise, it is only your delusion, i.e. maya. When the sun is shining above, you can see its reflections in all tanks. Even where the water is dirty, you can see its reflection. But when the water is totally dirty, then, of course, you cannot see its reflection. In the same way, when your heart is pure and clear, you can see the direct manifestation of God in it. But your heart is impure. When you thoroughly clean your heart, you can very well see God.

God is immanent in everyone. Right from a newborn baby to a grown-up and old person, He is present in everyone. A small baby grows up and ultimately becomes old. The baby, the woman, and the old lady are the same person. Because of their thinking, people see many different forms.

But God does not have different forms. In fact, He has no form. However, He has many names. Even though He has many names, they all correspond to the many reflections of the same divinity. You can see the reflection of the sun in flowing water and also in stagnant water. In the flowing water, the reflection appears to be wavering, but in steady water, the reflection is also steady. Your mind develops attachment to the world because of your delusion. Everything in this world is just a projection of maya.

Hiranyakasipu asked his son Prahlada, “Where is God? You are always chanting Narayana, Narayana. Who is Narayana?”

Prahlada replied, “Man himself is Narayana. Wherever you see, you see only Narayana. He is in me, He is in you, He is in all others.”

Hiranyakasipu asked, “Is He there in this pillar?”

“Surely, He is there in it”, replied Prahlada.

Hiranyakasipu took a mace and hit the pillar with it. At once he saw the manifestation of Lord Vishnu. Therefore, wherever you see, God is there. But people like Hiranyakasipu have no faith in God.

Develop the vision to see unity
Though there is total unity in creation, we look at it from the angle of diversity. We say, “He is my father, he is my mother, she is my elder sister, she is my younger sister.” We develop relationships on the basis of forms. Where have these relationships come from? Nothing can exist without the principle of unity.

Here is an example. A dog entered a room fitted with mirrors and saw many dogs in the mirrors. It was afraid to see so many dogs in the room, considering them as danger to its life. In order to escape from the situation, it jumped upon one of the mirrors, considering its own reflection in it to be another dog. As it did that, it saw that the dog in the mirror also jumped upon it. In the process, the mirror broke. Then, it felt that there was no other dog at the place and escaped from the room. It felt greatly relieved that it could save itself from so many other dogs. But where were so many dogs? It saw its own reflection in so many mirrors.

The same is the case with people today. If one sees all other forms as his own reflection in the mirror of the world, one will realise the principle of unity. So, there are no such separate entities like father, mother, brothers, and sisters. But one develops worldly relationships due to one’s delusion and says, “She is my sister, he is my brother, he is my father, she is my mother.” These are all only physical relationships and not the relationships based on your divine reality. Try to understand that the same Atma is present in all. But you develop worldly relationships, forgetting the principle of the Atma.

You say, “She is my wife” but prior to the marriage, she is separate and you are separate. Only after the marriage do you say, “My wife, my wife.” How you have developed this relationship of husband and wife? It is due only to your delusion. It is because of delusion that one makes many mistakes and indulges in many undesirable activities.

Wherever you see, there is God and God is one. People say, “He is Rama, He is Krishna, He is Shiva, He is Vishnu.” What does it mean? Does it mean that Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, and Krishna are separate entities? These are the different names of the same God. God appears before you in a particular form based on your own imagination. When you contemplate on the form of Krishna as portrayed by artists like Ravi Varma, God will manifest before you in the form of Krishna. In the same way, God will appear before you in the form of Rama. But God is neither Rama nor Krishna. Both Rama and Krishna are you only. The forms of Rama and Krishna are nothing but your own reflections. When you say, “I want Rama”, God manifests before you in the form of Rama. Similarly, when you say, “I want Krishna”, He appears before you in the form of Krishna. All these forms are nothing but your own reflections.

Reduce the burden of your desires
Both sorrow and happiness are in the world. When you are in difficulty, you say, “Alas! Why has God given me this difficulty? What sin have I committed?” On the other hand, when you earn wealth and are happy, you say, “It is my good fortune.” Neither this is your good fortune nor that is bad. When you have good thoughts, you will have good results. On the other hand, if you have bad thoughts, you will have bad results. Good and bad do not come from outside.

Everything is God. When people see a scorpion, they are afraid that it might bite them. But, in fact, there is God even in that scorpion. There is no being in whom God is not immanent. However, you have to get rid of your delusion.

People have too many desires. These too many desires are the cause of delusion. Therefore, people should reduce their desires. How should one do so?

All desires are the creation of the mind, which behaves in an arbitrary way. Manah eva manushyanam karanam bandhamokshayo (mind is the cause of bondage and liberation of man). You should make efforts to follow the path of liberation. Then, there will be no scope for delusion.

But people are full of desires, and the cause of all desires is the mind. Therefore, first and foremost, control the mind. If you do so, you will not have even a single desire. Therefore, it is said, Less luggage more comfort makes travel a pleasure. God will be pleased with you only when you reduce the luggage of your desires. More desires become great burden for life. With less luggage, you will be more happy.

When one is unmarried, one thinks, “Whatever I have, I can manage with it. I am not bothered even if I have to starve sometimes.” But when one is married and has children, one is burdened with so many worries. Where have the wife and children come from? They have come from the same source as you have come. You think someone is your wife because you develop attachment to her. Can you call every woman your wife? No, no. When you say so, you will be beaten. You cannot talk like this. The relationship of wife and husband is only a ‘body to body’ relationship. This physical relationship is the cause of many troubles.

A person with money is called a rich man. But the same person will be called a beggar when they lose his money. When you are wealthy, you are considered bigger; when you are poor, you are treated like a beggar. Therefore, the same person is bigger as well as beggar.

Develop equal-mindedness, and everything will become good for you. Even if somebody beats you, you should think, “The person who is beating me is none other than God. God has beaten me because there is some defect in me. This body has committed a mistake. Therefore, it has to receive punishment.”

Whatever we do, it will come back to us as reaction, reflection, and resound. All that we experience is the result of our own actions. It is not given by God. God does not give anything to people except ananda (bliss). Having experienced ananda, do not criticise the One who has provided it to you. Both happiness and sorrow are the reflection of your own actions. When God loves you, it means that God loves Himself.

God has no attributes. God has no such evil qualities like anger, hatred, jealousy, and hypocrisy, nor are these evil qualities given to you by God. These are all of your own making. Therefore, get rid of your delusion. If you develop unnecessary worries, thinking, “I don’t have this, I don’t have that”, you will deceive yourself. Reduce your desires. Then you will have not to carry too much luggage. Only then can you be happy.

Know the Atmic Principle
If you have real love for God, always contemplate on Him. If you have liking for Rama, contemplate on Rama. Similarly, if Krishna is your chosen deity, contemplate on Him. But always remember that Rama and Krishna are not outside; Rama is in your heart, Krishna is in your heart. Whatever form you consider as Rama, contemplate on that form with your eyes closed. You will certainly visualise that form. Ultimately, you will realise, “It is out of my delusion that I considered Rama and Krishna separate from Me. In fact, I am Rama, I am Krishna.”

When you contemplate on Rama, you see that form as a reflection of your thoughts. Similarly, when you think of Krishna, you see Krishna’s form. You think Rama and Krishna are different from you because of your delusion. Who has seen Rama? Who has seen Krishna? Artists like Ravi Varma painted the pictures of Rama and Krishna on the basis of the descriptions given in the sacred texts. These are mere pictures; they do not reveal the truth.

Everyone can call God by any name of their choice, like Rama, Krishna, Govinda, etc., and contemplate on a particular name and form. There is no mistake in that. I don’t ask you to give up this practice. But you should have firm conviction, “I am God. My Atma is God.” The Atma has no form. It has only a name. The Atma shines in everyone like the sun. It can be seen only in a heart that is pure. In the heart that is impure, you cannot see it.

Many Avatars came to propagate this truth. Divine incarnations come not for their own sake but to impart the knowledge of truth to everyone. Follow their teachings and understand the principle of the Atma.

The Vedanta proclaims that the Atma is the only reality. Waves are formed out of water. There can be no waves when there is no water. In the same way, there can be no form without the Atma. You should contemplate on the Atma and chant the mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Narayanaya”. If you are unable to chant the entire mantra, it is enough to recite “Om”, because everything is immanent in Om. The word Om denotes pranava (primordial sound). The Upanishads describe it as the Atma.

The Taittiriyopanishad deals extensively with the principle of the Atma. The Ramayana, the Bhagavata, and the Mahabharata reveal the same truth through the stories of the Avatars. Everything is within you. Nothing is outside. The entire creation is one. Get rid of your delusion and try to understand the truth behind names and forms.

Name and form are inseparable. You chant, “Sai Ram, Sai Ram, Sai Ram …” The name “Sai Ram” has been given to Me. I am not born with this name. Similarly, the names Rama and Krishna were given to them by their parents. They were not born with these names. Did Rama come and say, “I am Rama?” No, no. He was the son of Dasaratha and was given the name Rama.

What does the word Dasaratha mean? It means the chariot of human body with its ten senses. Have control over your senses. When you have total control over your senses, there is no need for anything else. You even forget yourself. You forget even your physical body.

It is the mind that controls the body and the senses. The body and the senses are temporary. Even the mind is also subject to annihilation. We say, “mind, mind, mind.” Where is the mind? What is the form of the mind? It has no form. Mind itself is an illusion. Enquire on these lines and realise that God is one. This is the only truth. Everything else is delusion. In a cinema, you see many scenes on the screen. You see Sita getting married to Rama, Ravana abducting Sita, Rama waging a war against Ravana, and many friends of Rama taking part in the war. But all these are mere pictures. They are not happening in reality.

There are not many people. All are one. Ekam Sath … When you follow sathya (truth), dharma (right action) will emerge from it. When sathya and dharma come together, santhi (peace) will manifest. Where there is peace, there is bliss. Light is produced when negative and positive charges come together.

Love emerges from peace. One who lacks peace cannot have love. When love manifests in us, we consider everyone as our own. All are our own forms. All are one. Be alike to everyone. Make efforts to realise this truth.

When the wind blows, the dry leaves are blown away, but not the green leaves. They remain with the branches. Your humanness should not be like a dry leaf, which is blown away by the wind. Everything is a divine mystery.

The stories of Lord Rama are amazing,
It purifies the lives of the people in all the three worlds,
It is like the sickle that cuts the creepers of worldly bondage,
It is like a good friend who helps you in times of need,
It is like a shelter for the sages and seers doing penance in the forest. (Telugu Poem)

Develop steady devotion
Do not allow your mind to become like a dog, which is deluded by its own reflection. The dog is deluded thinking its reflections in many mirrors as many dogs. There are not many dogs. You may consider a dog a dog, but God is in it also. Without vibration, even a dog cannot live. What is that vibration? It is the vibration of life. Due to this life principle, the dog eats and moves around.

Do not observe any differences such as “He is an outsider, he is a rich person, he is a beggar.” All are one. See unity in all. Only then will you have steady and true devotion. Otherwise, you will have bumps and jumps. Your devotion will waver from moment to moment.

Many people consider themselves as devotees. As long as they have faith in God, their devotion remains steady. When their devotion wavers, their mind also wavers. Real faith does not waver under any circumstances. Come what may, your devotion should not waver, even if you are cut to pieces. That is steady, unwavering, and unsullied devotion. Develop such steady and selfless devotion.

The same is the teaching of Jesus also. God is one. You have to cut your individual ego to attain Him. This is what the cross symbolises.

Never give up your faith. Hold on to it firmly. Then you will certainly realise your true identity. Man is born to establish humanness and not to destroy it. Develop human qualities of sathya, dharma, santhi, prema (love) and ahimsa (nonviolence). When sathya combines with dharma, santhi and prema are born there. It is love that unites all. Will you kill your son in a fit of anger? No, no. You will scold him, but you will not harm him. Likewise, when you have love, you will treat everyone as your own. Treat all woman as your mothers and sisters.

Forbearance is the real beauty in this sacred land of Bharat.
Of all the rituals, adherence to truth is the greatest penance.
The nectarine feeling in this country is the feeling of love toward one’s mother. (Telugu Poem)

Develop such sacred feelings toward all women. When you marry a woman, only then do you call her your wife. Otherwise, all women are like your mothers and sisters. Similarly, all men are like your brothers. God is one. He is the only purusha (male). There is no other male except Him.

Once the gopikas (cowherd maidens) came to Krishna’s house to meet Him. When they tried to enter the house, the watchman prevented them, saying women cannot enter the house. The gopikas questioned him, “How come you are there?” Then he replied, “I am a male.” The gopikas said, “You cannot call yourself a male merely because you are wearing a male dress. The five elements and the five life principles are the same in you and us. Merely because you are wearing a male dress and we are wearing a female dress, we can be different from each other. The same divinity is present in you and us. In fact, Krishna alone is the Purusha, all others are females.”

To Love God is the Main Goal of Life
Today this equality and unity have become extinct in this world. Due to lack of unity, we are unable to see divinity. Consequently, hatred is on the rise. Today the world is in the grip of differences and fighting due to lack of love. Man today has forgotten even his humanness.

First of all, understand that you are essentially divine. When you say, “I am person and He is God”, you observe duality. When there are two entities, the third will also find place there, and that is the mind. That will bring about your total ruination.

Husband should be treated as husband and wife should be treated as wife. Each one should discharge their duty. In English, duty refers to a particular work. The duty of a human being is not merely doing some work. Duty connotes nishkama karma (selfless work).

A selfish person is worse than a fish. Fish is better than selfish. Therefore, never give room to selfishness. You can realise the Self only when you give up selfishness. When you become a slave to your senses, you will always remain selfish. Therefore, give up selfishness. Help everyone.

As I said on the day of Rama Navami, God is one. There is apparent diversity in the world. In fact, man is God Himself. Develop faith in this truth. Let your faith not waver even a bit. When you lose faith, you lose God. Whatever may happen to you, never become selfish. When you conduct yourself in this manner, you will realise your divinity. Then you will have no delusion that Rama, Krishna, Easwara, and Vishnu are different from each other.

The names like Rama and Krishna are given by us. In fact, all names are given by us. Everybody is born from God. God is one, not two. Right from today, make efforts to do away with all differences. When you love God, worship and follow Him. This is the main goal and true purpose of your life.

– From Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Discourse in Sai Sruthi, Kodaikanal on 29 April 2009 (Reference).

Also see:

Why Are We So Desperate About Exceeding The Speed Limit?

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Why Are We So Desperate About Exceeding The Speed Limit?

Loving Sai Ram, and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

We are sure the title of today’s piece would intrigue you. Undoubtedly, questions like: “What speed limit?”, “who is exceeding it?” etc., are crossing your mind right now. In a minute, we shall address them, but first we would like to mention that this particular Sunday Special is inspired directly by a profound remark that Swami made in one of His daily Divine Discourses, during the recently-concluded Athi Rudra Maha Yajnam. Sathya Sai Baba of course always says profound things but two remarks of His in one of these daily Discourses attracted our special attention and what follows is the result.

Sathya Sai Baba said : “Man today is living life at a dangerously fast pace. This is not good for him.” The second remark is in a sense related to the above and we shall come to that later. For now, let us spend a few minutes on the above remark. For people who are young, the pace of modern life may appear normal but that would be because they have never experienced anything else. If we go back say forty years, and we are sure many of our readers can do that, then it would be recalled that life moved then at a much slower pace than at present. In fact, in the West life had become so comfortable with newer and newer labour-saving gadgets, that many speculated that soon there would be four or even three-day working weeks, the rest of the week being available for leisure and relaxation. People even went to the extent of drawing up various schemes for how to get the maximum out of this bonus of leisure that seemed just a few years away down the road.

But suddenly all that changed and today, people are not only working more than ever before but at a more furious pace too. Several factors, both market forces and technology, working together, have brought about this huge change in style and mind-set. In terms of technology, the phenomenal growth of TV, especially via cable and satellite TV, the advent of the internet and the mobile, the emergence and the dominance of the PC, appearing later in many forms like the laptop, Palm-pilot and so forth have made people madly rush here and there, doing many things they did not do before.

As for market forces, the emergence of the so-called service sector has a lot to do with it. There are many angles to this and we certainly cannot go into all of that here but let us consider one example. Earlier, people manufactured goods in one place and from there they shipped these goods to all parts of the world. This still happens but the manufacturing sector is no longer the only dominant contributor to global economy. There is now, a very strong sector called the service sector, where tasks play the role of components in the manufacturing industry. Take the auto industry. To build a car, one needs many ancillary components like spark plugs, tyres, windscreens and so on. Big manufacturers like Ford, did not make all these; instead, they procured them from satellite industries and to start with, most of these industries were located not far from the main manufacturing plant to reduce cost and time of transportation. But when it came to tasks, the ballgame changed, to use a common metaphor.

The service sector revolves largely around tasks. Say there is a physician in America . He sees many patients and notes down his findings. He then dictates his remarks into a Dictaphone. Later, his secretary listens to the recording, types the remarks and makes out a record of patient data. This is the way things worked for years, until the communication, revolution that is.

When the revolution occurred many said:

“This task of transcribing the doctor’s remarks and preparing reports – it could be done cheaper in India than in America . People might ask what about the huge distance? Well, in the internet age, distance is no problem. All the doctor has to do is to send his recordings to India by internet. And there, a service provider will arrange to have the recordings transcribed, reports prepared and have the reports sent back to the doctor’s office in America . Thanks to the 10-12 hour time difference, the doctor there can go home in the evening after sending his recordings to India . While he sleeps, the job is done and by the time he is back in his office next morning, the reports are all ready, sitting in his computer. All he has to do is to print them. And the cost of all this would be much cheaper than hiring a secretary.”

That is how tasks have become mobile. As everyone knows, so many tasks can be shipped overseas. This includes answering customer calls, helping with on-line travel bookings and so on. All this is fine but how on earth does it affect life style? That is not difficult to understand. Consider just one example, the Call-centre business. There are a huge number of them in India and people working in these are young people, most of them between the ages 20 and 30. They are awake throughout the night, night after night. This strains the body and when they get a break, the young people try to wind down by “living it up”; they can do it too because they have money to “enjoy”. This goes on week after week and soon the body begins to feel the strain due to sustained irregular hours, lack of sleep, serious disturbances to body rhythm and so on. When these people get married, the problems multiply immediately. And when children come things get even worse.

A large part of the IT industry revolves almost entirely around tasks, and since tasks are very mobile, there is automatically a lot of tension. The customer say in America can easily switch the task from India to China or Philippines or whatever. For the customer, it is all a case of who offers the best deal. But for the vendor of services, it is a tense existence. The people in the IT industry have to do a lot of travelling, frequently across continents, which is not as exciting as it might seem, especially when one is in a highly competitive industry.

The stress spreads across the board. Parents want their offspring to be successful and highly competitive. So they try to get them into the best schools even though the fees may be prohibitive. While the parents work hard to make the money needed, the children have to slog to get into the school. Indeed, even getting into Kindergarten has become a highly competitive affair, so much so kids of the age of five are now beginning to be stressed heavily.

Travel business is soaring but at the same time thanks to rising costs, especially of oil, many airlines are losing heavily. So people in the airline business are beginning feel the strain heavily. Faced with losses, many airlines in America are asking their staff to take pay cuts, which of course the staff is not willing to accept.

And so on it goes. Influenced by advertisements, people buy heavily on credit and when they are not able to pay the monthly installments, all kinds of problems arise. In short, people are working much more, faced with great job insecurity. In many countries, they have to hold several jobs to make both ends meet.

The point is that the thanks to all these post-1980 events, life has become very fast, subjecting all those caught in the rat race to face immense stress. The worst part of it that due to percolation effect, all members of the family including kids get heavily stressed. And that is what Sathya Sai Baba was commenting about.

One might argue, “Listen. We know all this. The point simply is that life has become complicated. Fast pace is inevitable. There is nothing we can do about it.” We agree that there is some truth about it. But if we reflect calmly and carefully, then we would be forced to the conclusion, that if we take seriously Sathya Sai Babas’s advice on Ceiling on Desires, then automatically, the stress level we have to face can and indeed would come down.

Many would hotly contest this, arguing “What on earth does ceiling on desires have anything to do with it?” Well, consider this simple example. Highly stressed people want desperately to make the maximum of the weekend breaks, vacation etc. They furiously make all kinds of travel plans, rush from work to vacation and then rush back to work when the break is over. In other words, even vacation has become a rush! In fact, many in America take their so-called Black-berries with them while on vacation; result, even vacation becomes tense, thanks to business pressures!

We would not dwell on this anymore, leaving you to think about it. May be we have not put across the arguments properly and convincingly and there is a better way of explaining what Swami means. We would certainly welcome hearing from you. Let us now move on to the second point made by Swami in the Discourse referred to earlier. Swami said that the body is no ordinary thing but a special “dress” worn by the Indweller; in other words, said Swami, the body is the dress of God. And this “dress” must not be soiled by misusing the body; and let us remember that these days, people have no inhibitions about misusing the body, in fact in every possible way.

Suppose a person has an expensive suit, say costing $3,000/-. We gather that three are suits that expensive! OK, so a person is wearing such a suit. Does one expect that person to say allow ketchup to spill on to his suit while he is eating? Will the person wear the suit and walk in the rain along a muddy road? And yet, when we look carefully at all the things we tend to do, often unthinkingly, making the body grow obese, straining the eyes beyond limit by excessive TV watching, and so on, we would be able to understand what Swami means. In fact in the Gita, Krishna too says something similar. He says fools ill treat the body by excessive starving saying they are observing austerities when in fact they are torturing Him!

So if we put it all together, simply by leading an unnecessarily fast life, we are driving the body far beyond the pace it was designed by the Creator for. Moreover, the body that we most casually tend to misuse does not belong to us; it is God’s Dress. Our Ego makes us think it is “ours” and leads us to believe that the body being ours we can do what we want with it including leading a fast life.

Sorry, the body is NOT “ours” and we just cannot do what we want with it, least of all, drive it a pace it was NOT designed for. Well, that is how we understood the essential point of Sathya Sai Baba’s Discourse.

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team

Do We Understand What Freedom Really Means?

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Do We Understand What Freedom Really Means?

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

This Sunday we wish to discuss the topic of freedom, especially personal freedom. There is no one who does not want freedom; indeed, history is replete with accounts of uprisings, revolutions, mutinies, etc., in quest of freedom. Countries held in thralldom have sought freedom, oppressed people and communities have sought freedom, slaves have sought freedom, women have sought freedom, and campaigns to free children held in bondage have also been mounted. With so many centuries of fight for freedom in so many societies and countries, surely we must by now know what freedom means. Moreover, there is no dearth of scholarly essays on the subject. So, you dear, reader might legitimately wonder what on earth can we say that is new. Well, we are not going to say anything that is new, but something that is hardly known; to that extent, what we shall be saying might come as something not only new but possibly also as a bit of jolt!

Boring though it might be for you, we would like to start with the fact that a human being is complex mixture of the gross body, the subtle Mind and the Causal Heart, the Spiritual Heart that is. When we talk of freedom, we must keep this important fact before us. Freedom implies no constraint, no bondage, and no subjugation. We all understand this. But the way we interpret these words is generally flawed. Yes, a slave has no freedom; freedom in relation to what? In relation to making decisions, in relation to education, travel, working hours, the type of work he or she wants to do, owning property, etc. The restrictions relate mainly to the body and to the Mind to some extent. When slaves in America got freedom, it was with respect to these parameters of life. Consider now an ex-slave who can literally do what he wants, provided of course it does not violate the law of the land. In this respect, he now is equal to others who earlier held him in slavery. Can we now say the ex-slave is completely free? Yes, free he is but only in a worldly sense. Does that mean there is another sense of the term that also we must consider? Indeed there is and that is what we shall be concerned with from now on.

To make sense of the last remark, we have to go beyond the body and the Mind to include also the Heart in our discussion of freedom. The Heart has something to do with freedom? Yes, and that is where what we say might appear as something new. However, Krishna pointed it out all long time ago, echoing the Vedas that had said it even much earlier. And of course, our beloved Sathya Sai Baba too has spoken about this matter, though it might not be well known; which is why this Sunday we are dealing with this important topic.

OK, what has the Heart got to do with freedom and all that? To answer that question, we must understand the subtle relationship between the Head and the Heart. Consider a person who says: “I am free to do what I want. I like to drink, and nobody is going to stop me. I enjoy smoking; who is going to stop me? There is no law against smoking, is there?” and so on. The person goes ahead and does all these things. Can we say this person is free and really exercising his or her freedom? That is the point we shall now explore.

The person who says I am free, is referring to constraints from outside. If say, the father of the person or the wife of the person says don’t drink, don’t smoke, and the person defies, the person does all that to show he is free from the constraints others try to impose on him. OK, the person asserts himself, defies his relatives and all that; does that make that person free? We submit, not at all. Why do we so assert? For a simple reason.

A person addicted to alcohol and smoking and who indulges in these habits in the name of freedom is actually a slave to these habits. How can a slave claim to be really free? This is where Vedanta comes into the picture. Vedanta declares – and this is also the very first thing that Krishna taught to Arjuna – that every human is Atma first, then only Mind and body. Symbolically speaking, the Mind is between the senses and the Atma. In God’s preferred scheme of things, the Mind should work harmoniously with the Atma. Why? Because that is when the person acts in accordance to his or her true nature. Whether the person knows it or not every human being is a Spark of the Divine. This fact becomes critical when we discuss the issue of whether a person is truly free or not.

Consider a king, who behaves mostly like a joker. The people of the kingdom would say, “This fellow is no king; he is a joker.” The person wears the robes of a king and yet his subjects describe him as a joker. Why? Because his behaviour is not consistent with what he is supposed to be, namely a king. Similarly, every person with human form being a Spark of the Divine is expected to exhibit Divine attributes and qualities in all his or her actions. If those qualities are missing, then the person is not acting according to the true nature of that person, and that true nature is the Divine Atma. In short, if a person acts in accordance with the dictates of the lower instincts that penetrate the Mind and capture it, then how can the person call himself or herself free?

Krishna has warned that the enemies of man hide in the dark crevices of the Mind, and Swami has told us time and again that we must fear Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha and Matsarya as six types of deadly snakes. These mortal enemies of man entice man through agents called senses. And once man is trapped by the senses and his Mind becomes a prey to these enemies, that man is no longer free, even if he deludes himself into thinking that he is. That is the point we are trying to make.

Let us put it all together and go over the arguments once more, slowly.

  • Humans are primarily the embodiments of the Divine Atma; the body has a human form that is perishable, but the core is Eternal and Divine. That is why Swami always used to begin His Discourses in the old days with the word: DIVYATMASWAROOPALARA, meaning, Embodiments of the Divine Atma.
  • Being Divine at the core, our true nature is also that of Divinity.
  • As such, our actions must reflect Divine attributes that is to say, virtues like Selfless Love, Compassion, Forbearance, Non-violence, etc., rather that the attributes of the lower self that include, anger, jealousy, greed, selfishness, etc.
  • A person whose actions are guided by the attributes of the lower self is not at all free; rather, the person is a slave to the senses, even though the person may delude himself or herself as being free.
  • In analysing issues relating to freedom, one should beware of the fact that the human Mind being extremely powerful, has infinite capacity to trick itself!

It is necessary at this point to make a reference to the viewpoint held in the “enlightened” world regarding freedom. If we look carefully, this viewpoint is all about what is usually referred to as “freedom of expression” and “freedom of choice”. Let us examine these matters a little bit. Freedom of expression is something that is widely valued and prized in the Western world, especially by the media and by artists. On the face of it, there can be no objection to it; however, when it comes to practical expression of this freedom one wonders whether the passionate advocates of this freedom have a good idea of the nuances. There is a saying that the media, for example, must be allowed “to tell it like it is”. That is the Western view. Vedanta, on the other hand, says that it is not in the spirit of Truth to state so-called facts, if they would cause hurt.

Sathya Sai Baba has often made a reference to the Sanskrit original, while speaking on Truth [nah bruhiyat sathyam apriyam]. In this perspective, avoiding unnecessary hurt to another person is far more important that trying to assert one’s so-called rights. Right now, there is one such issue that is causing concern to many people in India . An artist of high repute, almost an icon, has produced many paintings, showing Hindu Goddesses topless and even without any clothes whatsoever. This is supposed to be all about creativity, giving full expression to artistic freedom and all that. Understandably, this has hurt the sentiments of millions and caused a public furore. The art crowd, of course, is furious that there are objections, that artists are being denied their legitimate freedom, and that protests amount to stifling creativity, freedom of expression, etc. What the artist has done appears perfectly reasonable to the “enlightened” crowd who regard the protestors as bigots, etc.

This is one side of the story. Let us for a minute look at the other side. On this side are ordinary people who worship these Goddesses, Parvathi, for example. They are shocked by these paintings, pained, hurt, and of course angry. The art crowd screams that these illiterates cannot be allowed to curb basic freedom and that if they [these “bigots”] have their say, then we would slide into a totalitarian regime, etc.

Let us now look at both sides together. Suppose for a moment the people who want to harp on their rights focus instead on their responsibility, would they exercise their so-called right, especially when it can cause pain and even lead to conflict? By the way, the Danish cartoons and remarks by the Pontiff did lead to vigorous protests and even violence. So the question arises: “Why cannot people who are supposed to be enlightened, exercise some self-restraint in the interest of peace, and give expression to their artistic ‘rights’ when people have become ‘enlightened’ due to better education, etc?” Soon after India gained independence, Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the country, often used to say: “Freedom beings responsibility.” That observation is very relevant in the present context also, though, of course, Nehru meant it in a different sense. How can one call people “enlightened”, when they insist on their rights even if it causes hurt, when they can easily forego that privilege in order to avoid causing unnecessary hurt? It is difficult to believe that the artist in question has run out of topics to paint; did he really have to do these paintings as an expression of his creativity?

“Rights” – that is the buzzword of the “enlightened” crowd. Right now, the Government in the State of Karnataka wants to ban the sale of soft drinks and fast food in schools on the ground that they contribute to child obesity. The soft drink lobby and the media are up in arms. Their slogan is: “There must be freedom of choice. If certain parents don’t want their children to eat or drink these items, then they could advise accordingly.” This is the same argument used by the peddlers of porn in the Internet.

There are any number of such issues but we shall not go into them. However, there is one general observation we must make, before we wind up. And that is – the so-called freedom to do what one likes does not amount to freedom, just because Society allows them all. Freedom means that one does not pay for one’s actions. Payment may not always be extracted by Society; yet, there might still be a stiff price to pay. Drinking and smoking are permitted in all countries, but that does not mean the drinker and smoker do not in the end pay a price. As the famous physicist George Gamow, a heavy drinker, said shortly before he died, “Finally, my liver is presenting the bill!”

Freedom granted by Society does not amount to true freedom. True freedom of action is that dictated by a mind that is not a slave to the senses and the eternal enemies, Kama, Krodha, etc. Such a mind is a companion of the Heart, and follows the dictates of the Atma. Actions are then in perfect harmony with the true nature of the individual. As indicated earlier, these ideas are not by any means new. They are as old as Vedanta, and in fact the word in Sanskrit for freedom is Swarajya, meaning self-rule; rule not by the lower self but “rule” by the Higher Self or the Atma.

So the bottom line is: Freedom to act and choose based on options is not true freedom. True state of freedom is that state where there is no price to pay; and that is the state of the Atma. When the Mind is united with the Atma, that is the true state of freedom. In all other states, there is, as the saying goes, “no free lunch!” Not only is there no price to pay in the true state of freedom but, equally important, one is in Bliss and in a state of total peace.

Jai Sai Ram. H2H Team.

God, Man And Society

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


God, Man And Society

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilyam. This Sunday and in the one that follows, we wish to dwell on two important and strongly related topics. Together, they highlight how pertinent, important and vital are Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings to today’s world and the innumerable problems it faces. Swami’s Divine Discourses invariably dazzle us with their overpowering torrent of Divine Love and we become so dazed at the end of it all that we seldom sit back to reflect on the subtler nuances of the Message that Bhagavan Baba’s Discourses always carry. If we were to do that, we would discover any number of crucial lessons that humanity must take seriously if it is to survive. Today, we shall explore some of them.

As we are all aware, on many occasions, Swami has called attention to the quartet – Vyashti, Samashti, Srishti and Parameshti and their inter-relationship. We too have commented on that many times. Not withstanding that, we wish to examine once more the connection between the Individual, Society and God.

If we go back to ancient times, the scriptures did mention Society, Nature, and God and their inter-relationships. However, by and large, the emphasis usually was on the individual, his or her duties and responsibilities, how the individual must relate to God, how the individual must strive to purify himself or herself and become one with God. The relationship of the individual to Society was no doubt mentioned but not heavily stressed. Instead, the focus was primarily on the individual and his/her salvation.

Times have changed. But does that mean that the individual does not have to bother about the goal of salvation? By no means. However, certain new parameters enter into the picture, making the goal of salvation acquire a totally new perspective. Why all this change? That is what we shall now explore.

Let us start by listing the types of security that people normally expect and even demand. The list would include: life security, water security, food security, accommodation security, education security, job security, property security, family security and so on. While in some countries people take all these for granted, in many parts of the world, they hardly exist.

Let us now go back say a hundred thousand years or so to the time of the caveman. Whatever security the caveman wanted, he had to provide it himself. If his life was threatened, he had to protect himself. If he wanted water, he had to go in search of it himself. If he wanted food, he had to provide it himself. As for accommodation, he had to find his own cave or put together stones and create his own dwelling place. May be all this is obvious, but we do have to mention them to make our point.

Cut now to modern times. Today, everyone wants “Society” to guarantee various securities. We want to walk safely on the street? Then Society must guarantee safety. We want job security? Then “Society” must do something about it. We want healthcare? That is the job of “Society”. We want social security in old age? What’s “Society” there for? Does it not have duties and obligations? So on it goes.

So you see, somewhere between the era of the caveman and modern times, an entity called “Society” has emerged which has great relevance to the individual. This emergence is the result of civilisation, and is the direct result of co-operation between individuals. Co-operation is vital for progress and peace, which is why the Vedas stress co-operation.

Society is a kind of a macro representation of the individual. If the individual is the microcosm, then Society is the macrocosm – that is an important lesson that Swami has been giving lately, particularly because the population of the world has swelled and the world has become very inter-connected. To put it differently, the individual and Society are two sides of the same coin. By the way, if God resides in the individual, does it not imply that He is also present in Society? Can we then afford to ignore Society?

In the modern world, the individual has come to expect Society to provide all kinds of security to him or her. In this highly-interconnected world, Society must care for ALL its citizens in EQUAL measure. If some segments of Society become very powerful , then there can be all kinds of trouble – in brief, the collective power of Society can be hijacked to serve narrow interests.

Just consider this. There is a lot of clamour these days for giving market forces a free hand, cutting down Government and all that. But let a huge earthquake happen or huge tsunami strike or a huge hurricane strike . Then will the companies and corporations come to the aid of people? So, whether we like it or not, in today’s highly connected world and a world dominated by technology, we DO need an agency that would care for the common good of ALL people, especially those in the weaker sections. That agency is what we call Society. Please note we are not trying to equate Society with Government. Rather, we are taking Society to be the collective will of all people, aiming at the common good of all in equal measure.

And this is where Swami’s teachings relating to the individual on the one hand and Society on the other, enter the picture. This connection must be fully understood. Some readers may wonder why on earth are we digging up all kinds of “social issues”, when we really ought to be talking about “Spirituality”.

There is a reason for such doubts, which arise from the traditional perception of “Spirituality”. For many, Spirituality simply means rituals, scriptures, Bhagavad Gita, Discourses, Bhajans etc. This is an age-old view, and when that is adhered to, many feel comfortable; this is perfectly understandable. On the other hand, when Swami talks to students, He often dwells on what people would call “practical” matters. Why? For a very good reason.

Consider, for example, Sathya Sai Baba’s Mission in the area of education. When Swami established His University, there were already 108 Universities in the country; why then one more? If we examine carefully, we would realise that Swami has done this to highlight one of the many responsibilities that Society has to bear. Through His University, Swami is giving Society three important messages. They are: 1) Character development must always be at the core of all educational programs. 2) It is not enough to stuff the brain; the body and the Soul also need balanced development. 3) Education must be available free, and students should not be made to pay to pay through their nose, as is increasingly becoming the case. In other word, education must become the responsibility of Society and not be abandoned to market forces.

Similarly, through His amazing Hospitals, Swami is sending the same message in regard to healthcare. Society must assume responsibility for the healthcare of its citizens, and not let citizens fend for themselves.

Space limitations prevent us from going into many important details concerning all this but we would like to point out that when Swami talks of practical knowledge being more important than bookish knowledge, what He implies is that practical Spirituality is far more pertinent and important than textbook Spirituality; which is why He often says that hands that serve are holier than lips that pray.

As Swami repeatedly tells His students, we are what we are because of Society; and therefore we owe a deep debt to Society, all the time. When He went to Delhi in March 1999, Swami delivered a powerful Discourse wherein He gave a new and very practical meaning to KarmaYoga. In ringing tones He said, “People think Seva means taking a broom and sweeping the village roads. That is NOT necessarily the only way to do Seva. In fact, the best Seva you can do is to do your job properly, earning every penny you are paid. Do honest work, do hard work and work such that people are not swindled or cheated but benefited. It does not matter whether you work for a company or in a Government Department. All Karma [action/duty] must be performed reverentially, in the belief that duty is God; work would then automatically get elevated to worship.” Similarly, in Bombay when leading industrialists complained about the growth of crime, He severely reprimanded them for living in skyscrapers and not doing anything for the slum dwellers who lived right below. In fact, so fiery was His speech that next day, the Times of India reported the speech with the headline: Sai Baba Thunders!

Sathya , Dharma, Shanti, Prema, and Ahimsa acquire full meaning only when they prevail in Society, and that would happen only when individuals relate to Society in an intensive way. This is the way individual’s purity would lead to RamaRajya or Utopia. It is because individuals tend to be in their own private shells today that corruption, violence, child labour etc., are rampant in Society.

If Society chokes with Adharma, then the individuals cannot survive for long unless they counter it by making Dharma prevail. That is what our students are taught and that is how when they go out they slowly but invariably make a difference to the work place they are in. Innumerable are the examples of our students standing firm on corruption, whether they are in a company or in the Income Tax Department. In due course, H2H would carry those inspiring stories.

Dear Reader! The tone of these Sunday Specials is likely to make you wonder whether we have forgotten Spirituality and lost our way in social activism. Nothing of that sort. On the contrary, we are trying in our own little way to give you a sampling of the concerns that Swami often shares with His students these days, both present and past. Be assured that we are not making this up!

There is a lot that needs to be said on these topics. For the moment, we would like to take your leave by reminding you that each of us has to realise that we are a part of Society, we are a child of Nature and we are the Embodiment of Love that God is. Thus, all our actions must be such that we do not harm Society; rather it must help Society because Society is God! Similarly, our actions must not go against Nature and must always be filled with Selfless Love. This is the only way we can help mankind solve its problems.

We must be involved but at the same time detached. There is a lot of difference between non-involvement and detachment. Karma Yoga is all about intense and sincere action but without attachment. That is what Sathya Sai Baba’s life proclaims every single minute and if He can be actively involved with Society, why should we duck?

Think about it! Jai Sai Ram.

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team