The responsibility of parents in values education

The responsibility of parents in values education
Published: 2 Dec 2009

Another area in which parents can help is by encouraging children to have their own opinions about things. If a child becomes aware that his views are respected, then that, too, will give him self-confidence. If everything he says is always made fun of, then he soon learns to hide behind the opinion of the majority—in other words, peer pressure.

Competition and the desire to be first: This is another area that requires delicate handling. Competition means someone wins and someone else loses, and we should all be able to deal with both. Help your children find the rewards for doing their best; show your pride in them for making the attempt. Encourage them to focus on their own effort, not on winning. Let them know that you believe effort counts as much as prizes. It’s just as important to be able to say, “I did my best” as it is to say “I won.” Your children will then learn the value of being as good as they can be, rather than in being better than someone else.

Sathya Sai Baba advises children against being over-competitive:

Sathya Sai Baba: “I do not like competition and strife, this cultivation of egoism through prizes and ranking. Do not let your achievements be spoilt by either pride or dejection. Take failure coolly, and take victory equally coolly. Whether in sport or examination, even when you fail do not be overcome by despair.”

Your child will not always get high marks: There is a fine line between encouraging your children to do their best and making them feel that they are failures when they do not achieve the standard of excellence expected of them. Expecting too much of them can be cruel. Feelings of failure are listed as one of the main causes for the shockingly high number of student suicides. So make sure that your child knows that you love him, whether he brings home top marks or not. Children are often lazy; then try and motivate them. They may not have understood the subject because it has been badly explained; then see if you can give them help. They may not like their teacher (or feel the teacher doesn’t like them) so they don’t feel like putting in any effort; try and sort the problem out, but make sure you are helpful, not condemning.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of accepting that your child is not likely to reach the scholarly heights that you had hoped he would achieve, but does it matter? “Nowadays, parents are anxious to see their children become scholars rather than men and women of character. Only those parents are worthy of esteem who prefer that their children should develop good qualities rather than just academic distinction. Education is part of life, but it is not the be all and end all of life. Virtues are the real backbone of life.” They may need to be shown that academic failure is not the end of the world, and that you are ready to help them make a worthwhile life for themselves in other ways.

Compiled by Sai Institute of Education West Indies

Trinidad Guardian Reference

Is A Guru Necessary?

Sat Guru Sathya Sai Baba

Sat Guru Sathya Sai Baba

Is A Guru Necessary?

Dear Reader, we have for you an excerpt from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba‘s own writing, a chapter from the sacred volume “Sandeha Nivarini”.

Devotee: Swami, can we ask you freely about any topic concerning the spiritual path, which we do not know?
Sathya Sai Baba: Certainly. What is the objection? Why this doubt? What am I here for? Is it not for explaining to you things you do not know? You can ask me without any fear or hesitation. I am always ready to answer; only, I want earnest inquiry with a desire to know.

Devotee: But some elders say it is wrong to vex the Guru with questions. Are they right, Swami?
Sathya Sai Baba: That is not correct. Whom else can the disciple approach? Since the Guru is everything to him, it is best that he consults him in all matters and then acts.

Devotee: Some say that we should reverentially carry out whatever the elders ask us to do without raising any objections. Is that your command also?
Sathya Sai Baba: Until you develop full faith in them and know that their words are valid, it will be difficult for you to carry out their orders reverentially. So, until then, it won’t be wrong to ask them the significance and the validity of their orders, so that you may be convinced.

Devotee: Swami, whom are we to believe, whom are we to discard? The world is so full of deceit. When those, whom we believed are good, themselves turn out to be bad, how can faith grow?
Sathya Sai Baba: Well, My boy! Where is the need for you in this world or any world to grow faith in others? Believe in yourself, first. Then believe in the Lord, Paramatma (universal being). When you have faith in these two, neither the good nor the bad will affect you.

Devotee: Swami, faith in the Lord too diminishes sometimes. What is the reason for that?
Sathya Sai Baba: When one is deluded by the mere external world and when one does not attain success in such external desires, faith in the Lord diminishes. So, give up such desires. Desire only for the spiritual relationship; then you won’t become the target of doubts and difficulties. The important thing for this is faith in the Lord; without that, you start doubting everything, big and small.

Devotee: Until we understand the reality of Paramatma, it is important, they say, to be in the company of the great and the good and also to have a Guru. Are these necessary?
Sathya Sai Baba: Of course, the company of the great and the good is necessary. To make that reality known to you, a Guru too is important. But, in this matter, you should be very careful. Genuine Gurus are scarce these days. Cheats have multiplied and teachers have retreated into solitude, in order to realise themselves undisturbed. There are many genuine Gurus but they cannot be secured easily. Even if you get them, you must thank your destiny if they vouchsafe to you more that one single Sadvakya (spiritual truth) ; they won’t spend time telling you all kinds of stories! There should be no hurry in the search for a Guru.

Devotee: Then, what in the world is the path?
Sathya Sai Baba: Why, it is just for this that we have the Veda, Sastra, Purana and Ithihasa (ancient scriptures) . Study them; adhere to the path they teach and gather the experience; understand their meaning and the trend of their message from Pundits; follow them in practice; meditate on the Paramatma (universal being) as the Guru and as God; then, those books themselves will help you as your Guru. For, what is a Guru? The Guru is that through which your mind gets fixed on God. If you consider Paramatma as the Guru and do Sadhana (spiritual practice) with unshakable love, the Lord Himself will appear before you and give Upadesa just as a Guru. Or, He may so bless you that as a result of the Sadhana, you may meet a Sadguru.

Devotee: But, nowadays, some great big persons are granting Upadesa to all who ask; are these not Sadgurus, Swami?
Sathya Sai Baba: I won’t say they are or they are not. I declare only this: It is not the sign of a Sadguru to grant Upadesa (spiritual instruction) to any and every person who comes to him with praise, without considering the past and the future, without discovering the qualifications of the pupil and testing whether he is fit.

Devotee: Then Swami, I have committed a blunder! When one great person arrived at our village, and when all were receiving Upadesa from him, I too went and prostrated before him and asked him for it. He granted me a good Upadesa; I repeated the Manthra for some time, but, soon, I came to know that the great person was a cheat. Since that day, I lost faith in the name he gave me; I gave up Manthra. Was this wrong? Or, am I right?
Sathya Sai Baba: Do you doubt the right and wrong of this? It is very wrong. Just as the Guru, as I told you now, examines the qualifications of the disciple, the disciple too has to critically examine the credentials of the Guru before receiving Upadesa. Your first mistake was that you did not pay attention to this but hastily accepted Upadesa. Well, even if the Guru gave it without the necessary qualification, why did you break your vow and stop repeating the name? That is the second mistake: casting the fault of another on the sacred name of God. Before receiving Upadesa, you should have taken time and known his genuineness and enveloped faith in him. Then, when the desire to accept him as Guru emerged, you should have received the Upadesa. But, once you accept, you must repeat it, whatever the difficulty; you should not give it up. Otherwise, you commit the wrong of accepting without deliberation and rejecting without deliberation. That wrong will be on your head. You should accept a name when you are still afflicted by doubt or a name which you do not prefer. Having accepted, you should not give it up.

Devotee: What happens when it is given up?
Sathya Sai Baba: Well, my boy. Disloyalty to the Guru and discarding the name of God – on account of these, your one-pointed endeavor and concentration will wither away. As the saying goes, “The diseased seedling can never grow into a tree”.

Jai Sai Ram.

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team.

A Conversation with Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Sri Sathya Sai Baba


A Conversation with Sri Sathya Sai Baba

The following conversation between a devotee and Sathya Sai Baba took place in Prasanthi Nilayam many years ago and was first published in an early issue of the Sanathana Sarathi, the official ashram magazine.

Devotee: Swami! The world is very cruel to me.

Sathya Sai Baba: That is its nature. The purpose of the world is frustration; it has to engender need. When the need is strong enough, the individual seeks fulfilment.

Devotee: And fails!

Sathya Sai Baba: Only when he seeks fulfilment without! Within him, he can get it. The within is accessible always; it is ever responsible. There is pain only so long as attachment for outer forms remains. Ultimate relief from pain can come only with the loss of ego, the neutralisation of that which reacts to something as pain and something else as pleasure, whose memory, whose conditioning, helps to recognise the dualities of joy and grief.

Devotee: But the world, Swami?

Sathya Sai Baba: The world is pain. Expect nothing from the world but that. I willed the totality of your conditioned existence to be pain, in order to draw you to me.

Devotee: Which I can, at best, only hope to attain.

Sathya Sai Baba: God asks for neither hope nor despair. They are subject to relativity. Universal Being is beyond both hope and despair, both certainty and doubt. It knows no lingering in its conclusions. It is ever flowing, in all directions, and in none of them.

Devotee: What then shall be my direction?

Sathya Sai Baba: Take what works today for today. What works tomorrow for tomorrow. One day at a time, each day for itself, each moment for itself, without a past, without memory, without conclusions.

Devotee: Conclusions?

Sathya Sai Baba: Yes. Conclusions bind; they press on the mind. The newborn baby is not confined to conclusions. All conclusions enslave. Most men are slaves to the conclusions into which they have fallen.

Devotee: Does that mean I have to give up my practice of concentration?

Sathya Sai Baba: The question that bothers you is one of fixity. You tried to fix your thought and attention on a word and later on a form, but you discovered that nothing lasts, that everything has to change. But I tell you; awareness can remain, even when form subsides, even when the word melts away.

Devotee: I find it difficult to hold my attention on form or word.

Sathya Sai Baba: Because when you try to meditate, the very trial invites the success-failure conflict onto the scene. You say to yourself, it is good to meditate on this and not that, or to meditate on that is wrong or foolish. Practise choicelessness; no objective, no intention. Be yourself. Choose no particular form, for all are equally His. Choose no particular word or sound, for all are His.

Devotee: I am often tossed between contradictory beliefs.

Sathya Sai Baba: Contradictions are inevitable. It is the very nature of this world and of the mind. But you can choose, either to be buffeted endlessly by the apparent contradictions or to remain in the calm centre of the cyclone. This is the problem of all problems, the problem of peripheral or central being.

Devotee: The circumference or the centre, the rim or the hub of the wheel?

Sathya Sai Baba: Yes. The hub is calm, steady, unmoved. But the mind will be drawn along the spokes, the objective desires, to revolve over mud and stone, sand and thorns. It will not believe that it can get bliss from the centre, rather than from the circumference, without undergoing a rough journey over turbulent terrain.

Devotee: Ultimately, it means the conquest of the mind?

Sathya Sai Baba: Learn to let all the conflicts spawned by the mind play themselves out, and cancel each other out. Be the witness to the holocaust. The ultimate solution to the conflict is not decision or even choice, but passive being. Dare to remain inconclusive. See the endless quandaries of the mind as a divine leela, God’s sport, as the natural function of the bundle of desires called mind. Do not believe in mind; do not rally to its assertions and appetites. Watch the mind from a distance; do not get involved in its tumblings and turnings. Then everything becomes insignificant. When everything recedes into meaninglessness, you are in the hub, in equanimity.

Devotee: Swami, you are the hub, the spokes and the rim.

Sathya Sai Baba: Do not be concerned with who I am! Concern yourself with who you are and how you can be ever aware of that truth. Do not be a willing captive of the endless stratagems of the mind. Abstain from all that draws you into its web. I will lead you, if you rely on me. The alternatives of the world will not bring you happiness, for the mind, which revels in alternatives, is but a will-of-the-wisp, flitting before your vision. I do not judge you for what is never yours, really. Your imperfection is no obstacle for me.

Devotee: I confess that I have not always observed the rules of conduct of the Sathya Sai Organisation.

Sathya Sai Baba: Your mind keeps asking for rules. But when you get the rules, you find you cannot keep them. Rules engender rigidity, they force. They do not bloom out of love or spread love. There is always a way of doing a thing without the strain of a rule. See how unperturbed I am with your restlessness! I live thus, so that I may afford a lesson for you to learn.

Devotee: I am restless, Swami, because I yearn for rest and do not get it.

Sathya Sai Baba: It is your reaction to restlessness that is bad, not the restlessness itself. Restlessness is only the rise and fall of a wave on the ocean that you are. Nothing matters, so long as the depths are secure. Success is not important: failure does not matter. The river of eternity is flowing ever into the ocean of the Supreme Will.

Devotee: How long am I to be torn apart from that Supreme Will?

Sathya Sai Baba: You are a fraction of that Supreme Will. That is why you are afflicted with the hunger to seek It and to merge in It and to find fulfilment and bliss thereby. Turning to the world for solace and sustenance to appease that hunger has been tried by countless generations, including your own, but the hunger is gnawing still.

Devotee: What then is the proper reaction to the attractions of the world?

Sathya Sai Baba: Let go. Don’t cling. Be still. Establish yourself in the homelessness of the mind; physical homelessness will not earn the victory. There are many spiritual aspirants still caught in the coils of greed, envy, pride and power seeking. They have not escaped from their homes. They have built prisons around themselves. I describe homelessness of the mind as mind abiding nowhere.

Devotee: And wandering everywhere?

Sathya Sai Baba: Do not exclude anything. Be the witness of everything. The exclusive cannot endure. God is all. Your restlessness came from exclusion, the pressure exerted by the excluded into the area from which it was excluded. All is God; how can you push God out of His Domain? Your mind concludes that the cause for the restlessness is whatever concerns it at the time. The actual cause is not that. You limit God by your assumptions, hence the restlessness. For you too are divine, and your reality protests against that limitation.

Devotee: Swami! Sometimes I feel so sad that I am so strange, so different in habits from the rest of those that come to you for succour.

Sathya Sai Baba: If your path contrasts entirely with those around you, believe that it is my will for you. Every way is my way and ways seemingly indirect may be the most direct for some spiritual seekers. For me there are no impossible cases, no incorrigible cases. Practise choicelessness as hitherto prescribed. Choicelessness is constant contentment.

Questioner: Swami, I am addicted to tea drinking, which hurts me. How can I stop this practice?

Sathya Sai Baba: Heaven is not refused to those who drink tea! A rajasic person is rendered hyperactive by tea, but to an invalid it is a welcome lift. But do not adore tea as the only reality. Now with regard to these habits that have gripped you, there are two methods by which you can discard them. The first is deprivation, denial. This can yield only temporary success. When one’s determination relaxes, the habit reasserts itself and it becomes difficult to resist. The second method is to become so absorbed in something far more pleasing that the habit falls off by itself. Remember, what is transient is not important. What is important is eternal. My prescriptions are varied; they differ from person to person, from stage to stage, even in the case of the same person. All prescriptions work. Let people come to me through Bhajan, through Japa, through Meditation, through Mantras, through Tantra or Seva ­ as I ordain. Every one will come to me; everyone has to come to me. There are no exceptions.

Devotee: We rely on your grace Swami, we yearn for it. Make us aware of it.

Sathya Sai Baba: I never asked you to earn me. I want only that you should need me. Your path is not one of merit. Bring the recurring desires of your mind to me, every time they emerge. They cannot shock me, for I willed them! Bring me your confusion, your fear, your craving, your anxiety, your inability to love the world, your hesitation to serve, your jealousy, all the deficiencies that defy your spiritual disciplines.

Devotee: How are we to do seva if we feel the urge to do so? What if the urge is absent?

Sathya Sai Baba: There are many ways to serve the world. You can serve, if not actively, at least by your serenity. Everyone need not do all things. Your Western heritage reveres active work. But if your being tends towards serenity and solitude, take it as the best. Do not be sorry for it. Only a small minority can delight in serenity and remain still. God has willed it so, otherwise, how could the world function? If stillness is your destiny, dare to be so. If you are a recluse, be a recluse, but a recluse with me. You may not be a saint, but you can peacefully be nothing. Let each be as he is, remembering, however, his source and his reality. None is as he is but for me.

Devotee: I have yet much to learn.

Sathya Sai Baba: You wish to learn from me. Well, if you are preoccupied by the body’s needs, by the arrangements for its travelling, its accommodation and the food it demands, time will fly. That student learns best and fastest who does not spend his time constantly shifting from one classroom to the next. You will learn everything worth knowing in my classroom. I will expose you to all states of being, so that you may learn to rest in me in all of them. There are no insurmountable obstacles to me; there are no pre-requisites for me. I am unconditional.

Devotee: But you are absent so often and away for so long at your headquarters.

Sathya Sai Baba: Always, at every time, at every place, I am where you need me. All things without are subject to the limitation of time and space, to the material laws of Nature. My outer form is no exception! If you would perceive my physical form, it must come within the range of your gaze, so position yourself so that you can see it. And even then, it may not gaze at you. But, I am omnipresent! The limitations of the body and the outer senses do not hold for the inner vision. Therein, you can see me at any time and any place and receive darshan. The outer vision is purposely insufficient, instantaneous, transitory, casual, so that you may crave for and accomplish the inner darshan. If I have separated you from my physical image off and on, it was only to bring you to me and to establish my presence within you. That alone will replenish you and refresh you, I know. None of my absences was a rejection or rebuke. So far as you are concerned, I intended them all. And, always, I willed that you return to me.