Friday, 17 March 2017

The pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam - a very special private discourse

The 3 stages of a pilgrimage

A journey or search with a spiritual significance and meaning is a pilgrimage. Frankly speaking, I cannot think of any other reason why anyone would want to visit Prasanthi Nilayam on a regular basis. If one comes as a tourist to enjoy a vacation, one is bound to get bored very soon. If one comes as a seeker of worldly comfort, one is bound to get disappointed. If one comes out of curiosity, he/she will leave once that curiosity is satiated. But if one has the slightest inclination to seek the spiritual, Prasanthi will attract him/her over and over again. For, after all, isn't the ultimate goal of a spiritual journey Prasanthi (Supreme Peace)?

That is why it is important that whenever we visit Puttaparthi, we treat it as a pilgrimage. Any pilgrimage has three stages.


Welcome to Prasanthi Nilayam... and there is Sri Sathya Sai's name greeting you even as you arrive!
The first stage is when you learn about the place, delve into its history (which is nothing short of delving into His Story) and develop reverence for it. There is faith that the journey to be undertaken is the most special one.
The second stage is the actual stay at the place with the conviction that each and every thing happening to oneself is part of a Masterplan that will help you in the spiritual journey.
The final stage is to return to one's home, carrying the place of pilgrimage in one's heart. Then, one shares about the journey to others in the spirit of selflessness. This sharing serves as the first stage for other wannabe pilgrims.

It is indeed a piece of good fortune that when it comes to Prasanthi Nilayam, we have the presiding deity speak on how one should prepare for it and benefit from it. This is a very special discourse that I located by the sheer grace of our beloved Swami. Though it was addressed to the overseas devotees, it applies to anybody coming to Prasanthi Nilayam even from within the country. Needless to say, it applies the most to people like me, who have made Prasanthi Nilayam their home. It is with great joy and love that I am sharing this discourse. It was first published in the Sathya Sai Newsletter, the 1984 Fall edition, on page 28. It is reproduced sincerely below.

Close your eyes, visualize your Swami sitting with you and speaking to you in all love. Then proceed with reading.

The unexpected call

On the evening of August 20, 1984, word was circulated within the ashram at Prasanthi Nilayam that Baba wished for all the foreigners to assemble in the mandir (temple) the next morning. So, shortly after eight on the morning of the 21st of August, virtually all of the foreigners crowded into the mandir bhajan hall. The doors and windows were ordered shut by Swami, and two translators were summoned. Mr. V K Narasimhan translated from Telugu to English, and Mr. Craxi translated from English to Italian. The transcript of that discourse follows below.


DISCOURSE BEGINS


What is the use of being a human without knowing what humanness is?


Having taken this precious birth as a human being, we must realize what that humanness means. Man means the mind. Mind means desires. The result of desires may be good or bad. You experience the consequence of those good or evil things in your daily life. Therefore, the first thing you have to do is to realize that you are human. Having been born as human beings, we must make an effort to live up to our human values. In matters relating to food, sleep, and enjoyment, the behavior of man has much in common with animals. We take food. We sleep. We enjoy the pleasures of the senses. Similarly, birds, animals, and other creatures also experience this. What is the distinction between human life and the life of other animals? What is the purpose of life?


Many people do not think about this. Having been born as human beings, we must live as human beings. There are four things in which we must behave like human beings.
  1. Discipline
  2. Manners
  3. Behavior
  4. Dress
Today we are living very much the life of animals. We think that man's job is to enjoy the senses. This is not true humanness. Compassion, love, adjustment, conduct, manners, understanding —these are the qualities that human beings should develop.


On multiple spouses...


In these days man is regarding life as consisting of sensual pleasure and, therefore, is wasting his time. You must realize that this is really animal behavior. You must develop character. Nowadays, man does not devote much attention to character. Without character man is like an animal. Animals have many husbands and wives. If man also, or woman, has many husbands or many wives, he or she is worse than the animals. So, you must develop the point of view of one husband and one wife.


What is the purpose of coming to Prasanthi Nilayam?


All of you are coming here spending a lot of money. Why are you coming? Are you regarding this as a picnic, or a holiday? Or are you regarding it as a tourist attraction? No! No! You have come to broaden your hearts. You must confirm the principle of Love. It is not a love based on selfishness. This is a love which is combined with Divinity. We must make a firm resolve to pursue the spiritual path. You must journey from the starting point of "my" and "mine" to "we" and ours." You must come to understand why you have come. You come after spending a lot of money, yet you are wasting your time strolling about and engaging in unnecessary and useless talk.


How you are wasting life itself


Please realize that time is the most important thing. No other thing is as precious as time. If you lose your health, by various steps you can regain it. If you lose your wealth, by making various efforts you can get it back. But if you have lost time, you cannot get back even a single second. Every man, every object in creation, everything is being carried in the stream of time. Because all are being carried in the stream of time, you should not attach yourself to things of no value. There is only one who protects everyone, and that is God. Therefore, hold on to God. Do not waste time! Many persons, even here, waste their time.


TIME WASTED IS LIFE WASTED!


By wasting time one is developing laziness. Laziness is rust and dust. Therefore, you should under no circumstances waste time. Whatever bad qualities you have, you must get rid of them.


What to do at Prasanthi Nilayam? Gain control over these three evil tendencies


Having come to a sacred place like this, you must try to get rid of at least some of your bad habits.


There are three things that I want you to rid yourself of when you come to Prasanthi...
  1. You must also control improper looks. In the western countries the bad habit of men gazing at women and women looking at men has developed to a great extent. This is really the quality of an animal. It also develops demonic tendencies. And the tendency is getting worse in the case of young men and women. So, first of all, plan to control your sight, your looks. Rather than to look at things with an evil eye (lust-filled eyes), it is better to lose your sight altogether.
  2. The next evil thing is improper talk. It is a very negative quality for men to go out and talk with women and women with men. Control your speech. You talk of friendship. What is friendship? The real friend is God. All other friendship continues only as long as there is something to be gained. It is temporary. When a person is prosperous, there is friendship. When the money is gone, when youth is gone, when he is down and out, there is no more friendship. When the pond is full of water, frogs gather there. When the pond goes dry, no frogs can be seen there. By cultivating such temporary friendships, we are wasting our whole life. Selfishness should be avoided. Self is loveless. Love is selfless. So what you should develop is not worldly love, but Divine Love. Now many go around talking about "Divine," "Divine. " But they indulge in "deep wine." You do not work hard enough. Just eating and going around, even the dogs do that. We are not dogs; we are Gods. We are the embodiment of Love. We are the embodiment of God. Realizing this truth, we must pursue our life.
  3. The next thing is hearing wrong things, improper things. We should not listen to these things. By hearing improper things, by seeing improper things, and by talking about improper things, our whole heart gets polluted. Take the case of the camera. The lens will take any picture toward which it is focused. Our mind is like the lens of a camera. If you turn the mind toward improper hearing, improper talk, and improper sights, your heart is imprinted with these pictures. Keep the heart pure by turning to God.


Stop wasting Divine Power


Man is really full of Divine Will Power. When you waste your will power, the mind gets weaker. Because you are indulging in unnecessary thought, unnecessary speech, and unnecessary action, you are losing your will power. Here is a small example. There is a radio set. When you switch it on and tune it, you get news. When the radio is on for half an hour, a lot of current is spent. Our body is like a radio set. Our concentration is the tuning mechanism. Our thoughts are the programs. When you go on talking and talking, a lot of energy is spent. When your energy goes down, you develop allergies. When energy goes, the mind becomes weak. Because the mind becomes weak, mental diseases start. This is the reason that in the western countries a large number of people develop mental diseases. They are unable to keep their minds steady even for a moment. With all the money they earn, they waste it on eating and entertainment. Rather than lead a life of this kind, it is better to die.


Life without ideal is no deal at all


Why should we live? You must live for an ideal. If there are no ideals, then there are no objectives. Man today observes no season, no reason. The first thing we must develop is our human qualities. You must ask yourself these questions:


  1. Why have I come here?
  2. Am I achieving the purpose for which I have come?
  3. Or am I doing something else?


Why should you go around unnecessarily in groups? Is going around like that why you came here? Whatever time you have, sit down quietly and contemplate God. One thing that is harming us and our countries is laziness. By being lazy we are being treacherous to our own country and our own community. We must control our desires. Put a ceiling on desires.
{My comment: How many times have we complained about lack of facilities in the Ashram and we have given multiple suggestions for increasing comforts for devotees. Swami makes it clear in the discourse that the Ashram is not meant to be a resort or tourist place. It has been designed minimalistic with a Divine Purpose!}


  1. The first rule is: do not waste money. The misuse of money is evil. A lot of money is being wasted on unnecessary travel and other unnecessary things.
  2. The second rule is: don't waste time. Time is God. Time wasted is life wasted. By wasting time we are wasting our Divinity, our Divine Power.
  3. The third rule is: don't waste food.
  4. And the fourth rule is: don't waste energy.


Forget outer space; explore the inner space


Western people waste all four of these things. They waste money, they waste time, they waste food, and they waste energy. Because of the waste of these, all of life is wasted. Life is a valuable thing. Life is full of Divinity. But we are spending all of our time looking at the external world. How long will this world last? Turn your sights inward.

Countries like America, Russia, and others are now exploring outer space. Scientific developments are occurring very fast. But nothing is being done to control the senses. People who are exploring outer space are not even traveling half an inch inside the heart. Man is able to fly in the sky like a bird. He is able to go in the water like a fish. But he has not learned to live on the earth like a human being? What good is it to live like a bird or a fish? Being on the earth, you should live like a human being. Being a man and not having learned the qualities of a man, why learn any other thing? Therefore, we should understand the Divinity that resides in our hearts.


Do not develop a monkey mind. It is not an ordinary monkey. It is a mad monkey. The body is like a water bubble. Do not be led by the body. Follow your conscience. If you follow the dictates of your conscience, you may reach a good life. On the contrary, man obeys his monkey mind and caters to his useless body. That is the reason why the human qualities are declining. Wherever you go, you must constantly remind yourself: "I am human. I am human." It is not enough to remind yourself that you are human, you should also remind yourself that you are not an animal.


The effort that has to be made


Try to find out who you are. This is my body. This is my hand. This is my head. But who am I? That is the first question. This is my body; therefore, I am not the body. This is my kerchief. The kerchief can be separated from my person. I am not the kerchief. Likewise, this is my body. I am not the body. Who am I?
I am God. I am God. I am God.


The mind, the body, etc., are all instruments. Do not for a moment consider that you are the body. As long as you identify yourself with the body, lust will develop. The body is like a dress that you wear. Just as you change your dress, your body also changes. Therefore, don't bother about the dress. Bother about the Divinity that is inside. Death is the dress of life. Birth and death exist only for the body. For the soul there is no birth, no death. You are the embodiment of the soul. Don't think of the body. Don't think of the mind. Think about the soul. Make it pure; keep it pure. Because of your desires it gets impure.


"With your Sadhana make your soul into the clean handkerchief that it originally
is and I shall forever keep you close to me."
An example that makes it all clear


Here is a piece of cloth. White is its true nature. When it is used, it becomes soiled. You give it to a dhobi (person who does laundry) for washing. When the dhobi brings it back, it is again white. Now the dhobi has not made it white. White is its true nature. What he has done is to remove the dust and dirt from it.

Similarly, the soul is naturally pure. But the soul acquires dirt and dust through desires. Sadhana (spiritual discipline) is the dhobi for purifying the heart. The "dhobi" of sadhana removes the dust and dirt from the soul. When the dust that is covering it is removed, the soul recovers its purity. Therefore, you must see to it that the heart doesn't contain dust and lust.


Lust is the worst quality. It is the number one enemy of those who are going along the spiritual path. If you want to go to heaven, you have to develop a pure heart. All your thoughts must be turned towards God.
Our spiritual heart is like a lock. Mind is like a key. If you turn it towards the world, you get attachment. If you turn it towards God, you get detachment. So, you must concentrate your mind on the heart and turn the hearts towards God. This is the primary sadhana which everyone has to do.


Spend every second thinking of God only - don’t allow worries of any kind


Life is an extremely precious thing. In life you will experience some difficulties, some losses, some troubles. Do not become bothered about these things. Be fearless!
Life is a challenge, meet it!
Life is a dream, realize it!
Life is a game, play it!
Life is Love, enjoy it!


Awareness is life. The difficulties which come and go are like passing clouds. You should not unduly worry about them. By worrying about these things, you waste time. During these times of trouble and worry, think about God. Then the mind acquires peace. You acquire peace of mind.


You can’t get peace if you don’t give up desire and ego


People come here and say: I want peace of mind; I want peace. In the sentence "I want peace" how many words are there? I-want-peace. . .how many words? I-want-peace there are three words. "I" is ego. "Want"  is desire. Remove ego and desire and you have peace. Because we develop ego and desire, we have no peace. In this world there is no peace. Peace is an internal feeling. Outside it's only pieces, pieces, pieces. There is division. Therefore, you must try to live in your heart with peace and bliss and quietness.


The proper study of mankind is man


Thoughts, words, and actions together make man. Today thoughts are in one direction, words are in another direction, and actions are in another direction. Therefore, there is no integral humanness, no code of conduct. So, you must develop manners. We are living in the world, in society. Therefore, we should behave in a way which is not offensive to society. When you are in your own country, you behave according to the laws and customs of your country, and no one is offended. But when you are in India, you need to be very careful about your conduct.


  1. The first requirement is proper dress. Many of you are coming here dressed in what we regard as an unbecoming way. Many are walking about in very short shirts and even dirty clothing. Such persons do not look like gentlemen to us, but like beggars. If the clothes are dirty, how can the mind be clean? You should wear the kind of dress which will develop your character. Here you should dress in accordance with the customs of India. You should come and represent your country well. You should not soil the name of your country. Cover the entire body. Be careful about the dress you wear. This helps you to keep yourself healthy and also to develop a healthy mind.
  2. The next requirement is you must keep your mouth very clean. Because the mouth is the main entrance for the food, you must clean your teeth properly and wash your mouth properly. No foul smell should come from a person's mouth. If the mouth is not clean, the health is not good. When the health is bad and the stomach is not working right, even your Divine practices cannot be proper. Even for righteousness and truth, health is very important. When it comes to attaining success in spiritual pursuits, health is the most important thing. Without good health, you cannot pursue sadhana and attain the Grace of God. Mental cleanliness is as important as physical cleanliness. Both are important. Cleanliness, then, is the first requirement for a spiritual life. The second is respectable dress.
  3. The third requirement is character.
  4. And the fourth is silence. The mansion of spirituality is built on these four pillars.


Stick to being within the Ashram premises


Don't go about outside too much! By going around outside, the mind also goes around and around. What is the meaning of what is called meditation? It means a steady mind. When the body is kept steady, the mind also is kept steady. The body is like a pot. The mind is like the water in the pot. If the body is unsteady, the mind is also unsteady. If the pot shakes, the water in it also shakes. Similarly, if the body shakes, the mind is also agitated. So, if the body goes wandering around, the mind also goes wandering around. It is to steady the mind that you sit in meditation. Do not wander around aimlessly.


Don't have wrong thoughts. Wrong thoughts, improper looks, improper speech, and improper hearing, all these things should be given up. Replace them with Love. Having come to India at great expense, you must take back good habits and spiritual truth that you have developed here. Only then will there be some gain, some benefit from your having come to this country. Having spent so much money and time in coming here, if you develop good thoughts, good habits, and good qualities, the trip will benefit you.


Develop ONLY the inner Divine connect


Concern yourselves with developing a relationship between yourself and Swami and do not go around developing relationships with others. You have come here, leaving behind your father and mother and other relationships. Why should you cultivate new relationships here? The relationship which should develop is between you and God.


Now this does not mean that you should slight anybody or develop hatred for anybody. But it should be just, "Hello, hello. How are you? How are you? Goodbye. Goodbye. "


The relationships developed should be kept to a minimum. You must each be alone and develop your spiritual qualities. If you associate with others, then preferences will start. If you wear two bangles, they will make a noise. If you wear only one bangle, there will be no noise. If you remain alone, then your mind will be at peace. When you associate with two or three other persons, the noise will become great and there will be no peace. Do not develop new relationships. You come alone; then you develop a relationship with another. After a few weeks, you think of marriage. But if your objective was to get married, you need not have come all the way over here. Having come here, you should value and use the sacredness of the Divine and not seek to acquire more bondage.


You think you are helping; but you are causing harm


Work to develop freedom from bondage. Work for liberation, and do not waste your time developing other kinds of relationships. So, manners, discipline, proper behaviour, these are the most important things when you are here. While here, in your room,- or outside, don't engage in unnecessary talk. There are other things that shouldn’t be happening. I shall give you an example:


You have plenty of money. For something that is worth only one rupee, sometimes you give ten rupees. Ten rupees may not mean much to you, but for the local people it is a big amount. You are staying just temporarily. After you leave, having paid these large amounts for things, you are making life difficult for the permanent residents. So, when you pay too much for things, do not imagine that you are doing some service. You are really doing harm. Don't waste money. If you keep this advice in mind, you will have plenty of money, and you will also progress spiritually.


"Always waiting for you... I am yours, you are mine."
My students are watching


The important thing is discipline. You have come to acquire devotion for God. Therefore, develop this bhakti, this devotion. If you develop this, then Swami says,
"I am yours, and you are Mine."


There is another thing you may have noticed about the people I call for interview. The students are sitting on the veranda, and they will form the wrong opinions if you come dressed inappropriately. This is the reason I do not give some people an interview. Dress properly and I will call you.

{My comment - Who thought that something as ‘unimportant’ as dress determines whether Swami gives us an interview or not? It would be a mistake to think that this does not hold good when Swami is not present in the Physical. Even now, adhering to His word will get us an interview - an inner view.}

Otherwise, the students develop a poor attitude about the countries from which people come. When you are at home, you may wear short shirts, etc., but when you come for an interview with Swami, you must dress as a respected visitor. Then others will respect your country. I know your mind and why you have come, but others judge only from your appearance and your conduct. When you come to Prasanthi Nilayam, you must have good manners, modest dress, and appropriate behaviour. Not only that, when you have learned this behaviour and go back to your country, you will be able to teach others. If you earn respect here, wherever you go you will earn respect.
{My comment - Swami tells the students always that they must behave well because the devotees are watching. This is the first time am coming across Him telling the devotees that the students are watching and they must behave well to set an ideal.}



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13 comments:

  1. Dear Brother - Thank you so much for this wonderful Discourse with comments embedded.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful gift.

    Thank you,
    Devendirakumar

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  2. Thank U for sharing these wonderfull guidelines from Swami, which could also serve for our daily lifes. Shared with Love & Gratititude !
    Namaste

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  3. Thank you... All these days, was trying to find a proof where Swami have mentioned about such things, specially dress codes. Thanking Swami for revealing the same. Thank you brother for giving the entire thing in a single post, which says these are very basic things that one should follow... Hearty Sairams๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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  4. Sairam. Excellent Discourse. It is not only for foreigners but everybody. We have to follow them.

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  5. Amazing speech Sir. Thanks for sharing. Thanks & regards - S.Ganapathy

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  6. Aravind for sharing this interview with oversees devotees, as these are equally applicable to all of us. Personally this is the best birthday(as per Telugu calendar) gift received by me, from SWAMI through your pen.

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  7. Wonderfully written article, and elegantly annotated. This will be cherished, and treasured.

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  8. Sairam..thanks a lot for sharing it. Is this discourse available in audio format?

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  9. Kya bolte hain yar Swami!so much clArity.One discourse followed is enough to change tge entire world. Greatly appreciate your effort Arvind!

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  10. Sai Ram. Thanks for the divine message.

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  11. Sairam thank you very much for sharing wonderful discourse

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  12. Sairam brother, Thanks for sharing the wonderful guidelines of Swami for spiritual aspirants whether Indians or foreigners.

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  13. Sairam brother, Thanks for sharing the wonderful discourse & guidelines given by Swami to all the spiritual aspirants whether Indians or foreigners.

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