What’s Next After Sai Baba’s Mahasamadhi?
By Prof. Anil Kumar
This talk was given on 8th of May 2011 at Prashanti Nilayam
Dear brothers and sisters, everywhere I go today people are asking the same question. Sai devotees all over the world are asking this question now, and so I’ll do my best to answer it. So what is that question on everyone’s lips? Well, it’s a simple one. Everyone wants to know what’s next.
What’s next? That’s what everybody keeps asking me. It’s not really surprising. After all, we’re all in shock. We haven’t recovered yet. Change is often shocking. And after all, we have all become so attached to Bhagavan’s form over the years. He has always made Himself so available to us, but now suddenly so much has changed.
It is shocking knowing that I can never pass Him my letter again. It is shocking that I cannot hand Him a flower, or come on my birthday knowing that I will receive His blessings. I can’t run my plans and problems by Him anymore. So much has changed and so we all want to know what comes next.
So what’s next? I’ve asked myself that question, and today I will share my views on this with you.
Swami is not available to us anymore in physical form. We are not able to see Him moving amongst us. Not on foot. Not in His chair. Not in His car. More than anything else, I think this makes us ask this question. This makes us wonder what is next.
Many of us have also come to depend upon Him. Many have been fortunate enough to receive His guidance, some regarding virtually every aspect of their lives and even regarding those of their families. People used to ask Swami to perform their son’s or daughter’s marriage. People would ask Swami how to proceed in their business, and others would say that their business was going well only because of Swami’s blessing. But from here on, Swami is not here in form, and so this question, “What’s next?”
We may also ask what’s next in terms of our sadhana. For example, I have been working for Him and praying to Him all these years, and because of this sadhana, I have been able to come here for His darshan. When need be, I could come and see Him every day. Coming to see Him, to receive His darshan, and to pray in His presence, were all part of my sadhana. I could see Him every day and I do believe that part of the reason He allowed me to come here so often was that my sadhana was so fervent! So what’s next? I’ve always felt that Baba’s darshan was the fulfilment of my sadhana. I felt the very silent whisper and the opportunity to pass on a letter was His blessing upon me earned by intense sadhana. And so what’s next now?
Finally, at the organisational level, members of the Sathya Sai Organisation are asking what is next for them. They are asking what is next for His organisation. Will they be able to continue their activities in the future? Will the organisation continue to exist? Bhagavan had been the sole guide, so who will guide us now? What’s next?
Therefore my friends, “What’s Next?” is the topic of the day.
WHAT’S NEXT? LOVE
First, let’s address what’s next at the level of the individual. As individuals, what is next for us now that our most beloved Swami will no longer be here in the form He adopted, in the form that we have come to love so?
Bhagavan’s message, His very essence, is love. The essence of His message is love. Yes! That is the message He gave us in the sixty-four volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks. That is the message He gave us in the fifteen volumes of Summer Showers in Brindavan. That is the message of His Vahinis. All of His works focus on one four-letter word: LOVE.
So what’s next? Next I will question myself. I will ask myself how I have been doing at walking the path of love. I will ask to what extent do I fill my heart with love. Am I starting the day with love? Am I filling the day with love? Have I been ending the day with love? These are the questions I have to put to myself. What’s next is to examine whether I keep and practice love in my daily life. I shall start the day with love, spend the day with love, fill the day with love, and end the day with love. That is the way to God, according to Bhagavan; so that must be what is next.
After some introspection, to be very honest, I do not think that I have filled myself and my life with love. I doubt that most of us have. There may be one or two who can justly claim that, but most of us have not been loving to everybody in our lives. Most of us are not filling the day with love. So that is the question we should ask ourselves. Are we spending our lives spreading love?
Filling one’s life with love also involves sacrifice. I may say “I love you” but I may not be prepared to sacrifice anything to demonstrate love. So it means, ‘I love you, but I won’t sacrifice for you.’ So the other name for love, my friends, is sacrifice.
If we tell your children that we love them, they will ask us, “So how much money are you going to give us? How much land are you going to give us? How many flats are we going to get after you are gone?”
They don’t want to hear you say, “I love you.” They want love in the guise of flats or plots or jewels or cash. In other words, love is expressed in the form of sacrifice.
When my students come to me needing help, I cannot just tell them, “I love you.” When they come to talk to me, they want me to clarify their doubts for them and they want me to ease their anxieties. They want me to answer their questions, not say that I love them. They need my time and attention. Giving them my time is love. If I had not time to spare for them, how could I say that I love them? If you love your students, you must certainly sacrifice your time to answer their questions to their satisfaction.
As a doctor, I cannot shout at everybody and yet keep saying, “I love you, I love you.” No! If I go on shouting at people, it will just raise their temperature. I have to sacrifice my time to help these people. That’s what they need from me. If the doctor just says, “I love you” when his patients come to him, it would be ridiculous. Without sacrifice, love is meaningless. Without sacrificing your time, love is useless.
Love must also be unconditional. “I love you provided you do one thing for me.” No! Then love just becomes another piece of business—something to be negotiated, a way to get something in return. Unconditional love is the only true love. Otherwise it is not love.
Unconditional selfless love is a great quality. It is a Divine quality! The Divine gift is this unconditional love! Therefore my friends, what’s next? Next we must look at our lives and see if we are filling our lives with love. Everyone has to ask themselves that question and answer it accordingly.
PRACTICE “LOVE IN ACTION”
Love is reflected through our words. Swami has told us to speak sweetly and softly. When we speak harshly, we are abusing that very word ‘love’. Softly and sweetly is the oral expression of love. Sweet talk, soft talk, is an expression of love. A kind word, a kind gesture, a word of courtesy, a word of decency—these are all expressions of love.
Beyond our words, however, our love is also something that we must also learn to translate into action. I have been hearing about love. I have been talking about love. But to what extent have I been practicing love? From now on, let me translate love into action! Divine love, that unblemished love, should be practiced hereafter through our actions. That is what’s next.
WHAT IS LOVE? GIVE AND FORGIVE
So what is love? People say that they don’t know what it means. Fortunately for us, however, Bhagavan has been kind enough to explain love in great detail; but we take His words and use them as quotations, as lessons to teach others.
Do you know what Swami said about love? He said it for your benefit, not just for the benefit of others. He taught the meaning of love for you to benefit! He taught us to give and forgive. Yes! We should give and forgive! But we don’t do that. We fight. We have differences of opinion. Sometimes these disagreements are so severe that we hold onto them and carry them forward into the next life. We fight and seek revenge. We have a vengeful nature! But vengeance is not an expression of love. No!
Bhagavan is the very embodiment of love because He gives and forgives, whereas I get and forget. I get and forget, while Swami gives and forgives! Yes!
What I am relaying to you are only Swami’s teachings, my friends. He has taught us to put our love into action. Love through action, not through speech, not from a platform. Not endlessly quoting lessons to others. No! Live and give love through action so that it is felt by others!
We should share this vibration of love, this heartbeat of love, with those with whom we work, and with those who work for us. Our love should be expressive. It should be readily apparent in everything that we do. That is love in action. That is what we must practice as individuals. That’s what’s next for us.
We can practice love in a much better way if we follow Swami’s teachings, my friends! I feel like quoting Swami again and again because He has given us so much material. We don’t need to look elsewhere to understand love. We don’t have to refer to anything else. He has taught us. He has shown us through His own life how we must put love into action, forgetting the past. Forget the past because it shall never return. The past is finished. It is gone!
I may not have been loving all these years. Many have felt my cruelty, hatred, and even enmity. My colleagues must have often noticed some unfriendliness in me. My students have noticed a lack of love in me.
But the past is past. Let me get over that. Since the past cannot be recovered, as it cannot be retrieved, at least from now on, forget the past and practice what is next. Practice love in action! We should all feel as if we are seva dals. All devotees should feel in our presence that here is a man who is treating us lovingly. Here is a sevadal man. Here is a man full of love. Whatever job I do, big or small, whatever it may be, others should feel that I am serving with love.
Others should feel that humble vibration of love emanating through me. When we serve with love, we serve with humility. It was Jesus Christ who washed the feet of His disciples. Not only did He wash their feet, but He wiped their feet dry with a towel afterward too. We see Baba serving the poor, personally, all by Himself. We see Baba making no distinction between caste, creed, or community. He does not create such barriers between us.
So how shall we practice love? Practice love by taking Baba as a perfect example. If there is anyone from whom we can learn what love is, if we are to select anyone as an example whom we can emulate, it should Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The way He treated us with love should guide us in learning how to love others. Let His life be His message and His example to us!
WHAT’D NEXT? EXPERIENCING DIVINITY WITHIN
The second aspect that I would like to address regarding what is next for us as individuals again comes directly from Bhagavan’s teachings. Baba repeatedly said, “Experiencing Divinity within and without is the purpose of this particular Avatar.”
Bhagavan Baba wants every one of us to experience Divinity within. And so what does He mean by ‘experiencing Divinity within and without’? Are there two Divinities? One external and one internal? What is the difference?
The Divinity that you experience externally is nothing but a reflection of Divinity inside. As Baba says, “Everything is a reflection of the inner being. Once experience of the Divine is established within, the external will also be set right.”
If we go on pointing out everybody’s mistakes, if we find something wrong wherever we look, if we look out upon the world and find that everything is not in order, it only means that we are not in order. The mistakes we see only tell us of our own errors. These things we see externally only inform us that our own vision is askew, that we are not experiencing Divinity within. It is always my own vision that is off.
If I have an eye problem and my glasses are not the correct prescription, I might see two images of each one of you. And if I do, I cannot say, “Oh, until this moment you were a single person, but now you are two!” You won’t feel happy that you are now two. And at this rate, you may even become three later! Then what would you say?
You must say at the outset, “No, I am not two! I am one! Please check your glasses and correct your vision!”
So similarly, all the mistakes that we perceive externally, all that goes wrong outside, all that with which we are dissatisfied outside, these are all nothing but reflections of the state of our inner being. Once we experience Divinity within, everything will be perfect, inside and out!
WHAT IS EXPERIENCING DIVINITY WITHIN?
Experiencing Divinity within is not spiritual, religious or Vedantic. It is not about learning to speak from a high pedestal of utopian ideas. You experience Divinity within only for your own betterment, for your own satisfaction. Allow me to give a simple example. If I spend my time complaining, if I shout at everybody, if I am totally disgruntled and dissatisfied, I cannot change anybody else, but my blood pressure will change for sure! It will get higher and higher! But nobody else will change.
That’s what we see in our families. Elders, people of my age group, we retired people, we want our children to act according to our wishes and tastes, but they don’t! We want them to listen to us, but they do not. When we say, “This is correct,” they say, “That is wrong.” And if I say anything further about how things were in my day, they will say, “Your days are different from our days. You belong to a different generation!”
This is true with every family all over the world. If there is anyone who says, “My son will follow me,” he is a dunce. Don’t believe him. Take him to a psychiatrist!
Therefore my friends, this feeling that I should tell everybody else what is correct, that I am correct, this feeling that I should dictate what everyone else does, it all just indicates that there is something wrong inside of me, in my own mind. Once we realise Divinity within, we develop a kind of composure, a balanced state of mind. We are no longer so easily disturbed by the external. The external simply reflects the state of the internal. When there is Divinity residing within, it is witnessed everywhere without as well.
That is the second thing that we have to think about at the individual level regarding what’s next. First, love through action, and then experiencing the Divine within.
WHAT NEXT? HELPING OTHERS
The third aspect of what is next for us at the individual level relates to helping others. We should allocate time to help others every day. A day in which you make at least one person happy, a day in which you make at least make one person smile, a day in which you serve at least one person, is a day well spent. Therefore the third point is this: during the day, give a portion of your time, spend a fraction of your time, helping others. It will make others happy and it will make you happy too!
Why is Bhagavan always happy? He is happy because He does not think of Himself. He never thinks of Himself. I am a witness to this! He inquires. He wants to know if you’ve eaten. He asks how your bothers are, how your sisters are, how your parents are. He wants to know how your health is. He wants to know if you are happy.
None of us are interested in the happiness of others. None of us are interested in others’ smiles. None of us are interested others’ welfare, and that’s why we are unhappy! In fact, we have no reason to be unhappy at all! Compared to rest of the population of the world, we are most privileged people. We have enough to eat. We have clothing. We have shelter. We have good health. But still we are unhappy! Why? Because we don’t think of others.
Usually when we think of others, we think, ‘I am unhappy because the other man appears to be happier than I am. He appears to be happier than me!’
But what if we ask him, “Sir, are you happy?”
Do you know what he will say? He will tell us, “No! No! That fellow there is happier than me.”
So we’re all equally unhappy. But Bhagavan has taught us that if we think of others, if we serve others, if we offer them selfless service, not only will it make them happier, but it will make us happy as well!
So take time each day to offer an encouraging word, a comforting word. Take time each day to offer others selfless service. Offer them a smile. Laugh with them. We have forgotten how to laugh. We have forgotten how to smile. We have forgotten how to be happy! So offer others your service. Offer assistance selflessly and with a smile. If you do, that day at least will have been well spent. If you do that, you will be following the example that He set for us.
That is the third thing that I want to draw your attention to regarding what’s next at the individual level.
WHAT NEXT? MEDITATION
The fourth thing regarding what’s next at the individual level is this: set aside a little time each day for meditation. Why? Because meditation will help you to rise above the mundane problems of daily worldly life.
I think that most of you would agree with me when I say that even in dreams, we often see our own enemies. Enemies worry me here in the waking state, and enemies worry me in my dreams too. My mother-in-law tortures me the same in my dreams as she does here! (Laughter) My boss troubles me here and he troubles me in my dreams too! Therefore we live much of the time in troubled waters.
On the other hand, if we spend time in meditation, we unburden ourselves. We make our mind and our body lighter and lighter. Please, observe those who meditate. Watch these people. A meditative mind will wear a face that is full of peace. Their faces are not troubled like ours. The face reveals the state of the mind. The face will tell you how happy a person is, how blissful he is, how calm and composed he is, how peaceful he is, how saintly, how religious he is, in spite of his worldly worries and problems. A meditative mind will maintain its peace, will maintain its bliss, in spite of familial, professional, or financial situations. So please, set aside some time for meditation.
WHAT NEXT? EXPERIENCE SWAMI NOW
What’s next? Be with Swami! Feel Him, see Him, experience Him now!
But how can we feel Him? How can with see Him? How can we be with Swami? I have been waiting for darshan! I come here frequently, but I don’t see Him anymore! So what should I do? What’s next?
There are so many who never came to Puttaparthi, who never saw Him physically, but who experience Him. Therefore to say that we cannot experience Him just because we miss Him physically means that we are not adopting a very spiritual perspective. Millions think of Swami though they don’t see Him physically. Millions experience Him every day. Some experience Him though they have never come here to see His form!
So to complain that we don’t have His physical presence is foolishness. You can tell me that you miss Him. I can tell you that I miss Him. But that’s all just mutual foolishness. It just means that you are a fool and I am a double fool. Each of us can pity the other, but if I complain about this to somebody in the Philippines or Manila, they might say, “Well yes, four years ago I came to see Swami in Puttaparthi, but now I experience Him here every day!”
Those of us who are here, we became accustomed to His physical presence. Therefore we are suffering, while those who were always far away are still experiencing just as they always have. They have grown accustomed to experiencing Him apart from His form, and they will get over His abandoning of His earthly form very quickly. For us, it will take more time. We will certainly get over it. It’s just a question of time.
But in the meantime, how should we feel? What shall we do?
I have had the opportunity to travel to many countries, to see how people feel Baba’s vibration in places far from here. I have visited devotees in Indonesia and Malaysia, in Singapore and Mexico, in Argentina and Canada. I have met many, many devotees around the world, and I have seen how they keep Baba’s bhajans playing in their cars. I have seen how they play them in their homes. I have witnessed how they listen to His bhajans throughout the day! On their way to the office, on their way home, wherever they are, they listen to His bhajans.
Being here, I don’t do that! I don’t do that because I have darshan every evening between 5 and 5:30. I have His darshan in the morning too! I’ve been to darshan here so I am suffering now without it. I am suffering now because I have focused my attention on His physical form. Therefore I am in pain. I am grieving the passing of His form.
Had I widened my vision, had I extended my awareness, had I experienced the spiritual heights, I would not have feel so lost today. Really, I have not been guilty of jealousy or envy until now. But now I feel very jealous of those who are far away from here, who still experience the bliss of being with Him, even at this moment, while I sit here feeling that I have lost something.
WHAT NEXT? CONSTANT INTEGRATED AWARENESS
One thing I particularly want to tell you about is a letter that I received from my daughter some time ago. She was, and is, in the United States doing her post-graduate work in medicine. She is earning her degree as a medical doctor of oncology.
We hail from a small town. It is not a city. It is not a metropolis. It’s just a small town. That’s all. And there we are brought up speaking Telugu. So she had to move all the way from this small town in India to Minneapolis, a big city in the United States. You can imagine how I felt, how as a parent, I would take her departure.
After a month or so, I received a letter from her in which she poured out her feelings. She said, “Don’t worry. Times change. I am doing very well. I am getting A’s in my courses.”
“I feel Baba with me here all the time. Today after surgery, after coming out of the theatre, I smelled the fragrance of vibhutti while washing my hands.”
“Then when walking home this evening, I missed a turn. I missed the road I was supposed to turn onto, and found myself lost and going in the wrong direction. I started crying. I felt so lost.”
“But then I started singing Baba’s bhajans, and I felt Him. Then unexpectedly a car pulled up and stopped beside me, and the gentleman in the car asked, ‘Where are you trying to go?’”
“When I told him where I was going, he told me that I was going in the wrong direction, and then he offered to give me a lift to the hostel where I was staying.”
As she discussed her experiences, and Baba’s presence, and the smell of the vibhutti, I was almost in tears. I looked up and noticed our good Lord coming toward me, and so I folded that letter and put it in my pocket. Swami then stopped in front of me and asked, “What is that letter?”
So I said, “Swami, what letter?”
And Swami said, “That letter.”
Then I said, “Swami, what letter?”
And He said, “That letter in your pocket! Take it out.
Then I said, “But Swami, it is a personal letter.”
So then Bhagavan said, “Is there anything personal between you and Me? If you are not going to take out that letter, I will loudly announce the contents so that everybody will hear.” (Laughter)
Then I understood. The cat was out of the bag now. (Laughter) I took out that letter, but before I opened it, Swami started telling me what it said.
“It is a letter from your daughter. She is doing very well in her exams. She is experiencing Baba. While in America she experiences Baba. While sitting in front of Me, you are experiencing your family. She experiences Me there in America, while you are thinking of your family sitting in front of Me here. That is not right. Correct it!”
I tell you this episode to provide you with a guiding principle, and not to publicise that He chided me or gave me His attention. I don’t share this story as a point of pride. I am sharing it to teach you what He taught me, that we can be anywhere and think of Him. Wherever we are, we can experience Him. We can constantly keep Him in our awareness, no matter where we are
Therefore my friends, let us try to get over the fact that we miss Him physically, that we miss His form, and let us not let our grief interfere with our experiencing Him in every moment
Next week we’ll continue with the topic, “What’s Next?
I appreciate your presence here today and I thank you for your time. I would also like to thank the two members from Radio Sai who took the trouble to record this morning’s talk. Copies will be made available to you quite soon. Thank you very much. Sai Ram.