Continuing our feature Getting Spiritually
Better, we offer below the third instalment. We hope you
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Thank you and Jai Sai Ram.
RESTORATION OF BALANCE
We discussed earlier the extreme imbalance
now being created by man, in the name of progress. However,
one should not get scared because all is not lost. In fact,
for a variety of reasons, Swami generally disapproves of too
much discussion of the negative aspects. Nevertheless, some
discussion is necessary, so that one gets a clear idea of
what to do about the prevailing situation. The point is that
the Universe is like a linked chain of gears. Even if one
cog gets out of alignment, it can cause the entire system
to malfunction. That precisely is what is happening at present.
Man is the only single element in Creation that is causing
Now there is an important reason why man
alone is causing havoc and not the birds and the bees. As
Swami has pointed out, every entity in Creation except man,
be it inanimate or animate, is "hardwired" to do
its job. These entities do their respective jobs unknown to
themselves. If the entities are inanimate, we say they "follow
the laws of Nature". If they are animate, we say they
follow their "natural instincts". For example, in
orbiting the Sun, the earth is "merely following a law
of Nature" - this is how a scientist would describe the
phenomenon. Likewise, when a tigress protects its cubs, we
say it follows its instincts. In the language of spirituality,
every entity follows its own Dharma. What about man?
He too has a Dharma that he must follow but God has
endowed him with a Mind. Thanks to this Mind, man has a choice
- he can either follow Dharma or violate it. Man is
not supposed to go against Dharma, but for selfish
reasons and personal advantage, he often chooses to. It is
this excessive selfishness and self-interest [to which Swami
calls attention ever so often] that has now caused massive
imbalance in the ecosystem, disturbance to the quality of
life, etc. We have to do something about it.
us now consider four words that Baba sometimes uses. These
are: KNOWLEDGE, SKILL, BALANCE, and INSIGHT.
Having talked of imbalance, it is but proper that we now veer
the topic to balance! What precisely does Swami imply via
this quartet? To make that clear, let us suppose that there
is a young man who is in medical school. He studies hard and
diligently, and acquires all the medical knowledge he can.
Fine. This man not only crams all the texts and pours over
all the journals, but, by careful practice, also develops
great skills in his profession - he shapes himself into a
great clinician or a surgeon, as the case may be. So far,
so good. Now, this man has a choice. He can either use all
his skills to make as much money as he possibly can, or he
can use them for common good by rendering service. There are
thousands who have chosen to do the former. We all know they
exist, but Society does not honour them, or even know who
they are. On the other hand, a man like Albert Schweitzer
who chose to dedicate his entire life for the hapless ones
in Africa would be remembered for a long, long time. That
is what balance is all about. Knowledge and skill are to be
used in the way they really ought to be. (For a biography
of Albert Schweitzer, visit http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1952/index.html
Now one may say: "Listen, your example
is not valid. Man has to eat, and everyone cannot be an Albert
Schweitzer." Agreed. Swami says that by all means one
can charge fees as a doctor, but one must be reasonable about
it. Besides, one must set apart some time for specifically
serving those who cannot otherwise afford medical treatment.
Indeed many do this, in all lands. That is good, and that
is what balance is all about. If the knowledge and the skill
one has acquired are not looked upon as means for acquiring
wealth, but as tools for healing, then there is balance. In
due course, such balance would produce spiritual insight.
A doctor who regularly serves the poor would become increasingly
compassionate, develop patience, and acquire the precious
virtue of Kshama or forbearance that Swami invariably
extols to the skies. [In this context, see the book Inspired
Medicine edited by Judy Warner, and available at the
Sathya Sai Book Centre of America, Tustin, CA.]
is one aspect of restoration of balance. There is also another
aspect that needs mention; this aspect is not directly related
to one's personal knowledge and skill. Rather, it refers to
facing forces of imbalance and disruption that prevail in
the world. One must confront these forces in a disciplined
manner. In other words, one needs a balanced and disciplined
approach while facing the problems of life. If everyone does
this, then the imbalance in Society would disappear or at
least get substantially diminished.
There are two ways of dealing with disruptive
forces. One is by external imposition of authority, and the
other is by self-regulation. The latter implies self-discipline
[and this is where balance comes into the picture]. A simple
example: Consider the case of a person going to a service
counter in a bank or post office. When this person arrives
there, he finds that there are already many customers ahead
of him. In some countries, people often crowd and push their
way around to get service. But in these very countries, there
are also places where people stand in queues and get served
in the order in which they arrived. Sometimes, when discipline
is lacking, a policeman is posted. Then there is order; but
this lasts only as long as the policeman is present! The moment
he turns his back, it is back to square one - chaos! In this
case, order is possible only through external imposition.
But in other societies, order is self-imposed. People ALWAYS
stand in queue because they know that it is good for
them and the right and proper thing to do. In this case, there
is self-regulation. The same is true of driving, for example.
In some countries people drive carefully and spontaneously
follow rules. In other countries, people drive rashly; this
is due to extreme selfishness, compounded by the total absence
of any external enforcement agency. The examples can be multiplied.
Curiously, Nature also provides such examples.
There are objects called magnets. They produce magnetic fields
that we use in many different ways. These fields arise because
the atoms in the magnet are all aligned - that is, every atom
is like a tiny magnet, and all the tiny magnets co-operate
by pointing in the same direction. Suppose we now take a piece
of ordinary iron. All the atoms in it are tiny magnets no
doubt, but they will be pointing in arbitrary directions.
Thanks to this randomness in orientation, the different atoms
'cancel' each other and the piece of iron does not behave
like a magnet. However, if the iron piece is brought into
contact with a magnet, then this piece also behaves like a
magnet - we have all seen how ,if a pin is lifted by a magnet,
it can lift another pin. Break the contact between the pin
and the magnet, the pin goes back to its random state - there
is discipline only as long as there is policing by the external
imposed from outside does work; however, the moment the external
force is removed, there is indiscipline once again. As Swami
says, discipline is best when it comes from within. It is
usual to refer to this as self-discipline. Now what is this
self? Who is this self? Spirituality says that this self is
NOT the lower self that we usually mistake it to be but the
Higher Self. The lower self refers to the body while the Higher
Self refers to the Atma, which is the core of our being.
It is the Atma or God who is resident within. To use
Swami's language, true Self-discipline is not the product
of force but comes from the Source! It comes from the Atma.
Self-discipline is something we all are familiar
with because we all practice it to some extent or the other.
For example, when we go and stand in a queue spontaneously,
it is an act of Self-discipline. When we are trying to enter
a public place [say a bank], and there is an old person who
is also trying to enter, we spontaneously move aside to permit
that person to go in first - this also is an expression of
Self-discipline also implies Self-control.
True Self-control implies control over the senses as well
as the Mind. A truly Self-controlled person does not have
fits of anger or fly into a rage. He is balanced in his outlook
and the very embodiment of equipoise. A person may not have
great knowledge of worldly matters but can still be balanced
in his outlook through sheer Self-control and Self-discipline.
This is the point that is being made.
Now there is an important point about Self-discipline,
Self-control, and Self-regulation, that is best discussed
by comparing public attitude and reaction to the dangers of
smoking on the one hand and the danger of AIDS on the other.
years ago, medical evidence revealed that smoking could lead
to lung cancer or serious heart problems. This turned off
many from smoking. Fear of deadly diseases made people exercise
self-control and avoid smoking altogether. Contrast this with
what is happening in the case of AIDS. AIDS is a killer disease.
If contracted, there is almost no chance of survival. Millions
have already died of AIDS and millions more are on the verge
Everyone knows what causes AIDS. It is the
quest for sensual pleasure that lands one in trouble. Has
the fear of the disease promoted self-control? Has it kept
people from sensual indulgence? Not quite. All anti-AIDS propaganda
assumes that Self-control is neither possible nor required.
The way suggested for avoiding AIDS is a have-the-cake-and-eat-it-too
approach. Such a bypass is not possible in the case of smoking,
and so in that case, people totally abstain from the bad habit.
But in the latter case, it seems to be a different story.
This approach is fundamentally wrong.
There are certain things one must do because it is one's duty
to do so, and there are certain things that one must NEVER
do under any circumstance because it is morally wrong to do
so. Life must be lived bearing in mind the fact that there
is a Moral Law governing the Universe.
Swami describes all this via three phrases
as follows: Love for God, Fear of Sin, and
Morality in Society. If One REALLY loves God, then
one would not do anything that would come in the way of becoming
one with God. 'Sin' is anything that comes in the way. It
can be of the text-book type such as stealing, telling lies,
injuring a person etc. It can also be of a more subtle form.
Craving for worldly things is also a type of sin, although
most people would not consider it that way. One may not like
to call it sin but it certainly is an impurity that impedes
one's spiritual progress. If one takes care to be as pure
as possible, then morality in Society is automatic. Indeed
this is what was happening in olden times in all societies.
But in more recent times, God has been put on the back-burner,
as the phrase goes, and the concept of sin and morality have
more or less vanished. Yet, people do feel the need for truth
and ethics of some sort. This includes those who do not believe
in God. The famous mathematician Von Neumann [who made numerous
brilliant contributions] did not believe in God but felt that
ethics was needed since otherwise Society would turn chaotic.
The Communists said God did not exist but Communist Russia
laid down norms of ethical behaviour for its citizens.
This kind of external imposition has seldom
worked. What has worked is spontaneous adherence to morality.
Such spontaneous observance comes about when one loves God,
and realises that one is intrinsically Divine. This is the
point that Baba stresses often. One is moral because it is
natural for one to be so.
A word now about the six deadly enemies of
man. All these are internal. As Swami says, they come pretending
to be great friends but once they have us in their hook, they
literally twist us around their little finger. These six demons
are: Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha, Maatsarya. The
original Sanskrit words have been included because Baba makes
frequent reference to them. They mean: 1) All types of desires,
primarily lust, 2) Anger, 3) Greed, 4) Attachment, 5) Pride,
and 6) Jealousy. To this list may be added two more, namely,
Ahamkara, and Mamakara, meaning respectively,
ego, and the feeling of 'mine'.
Note that Desire occupies position number
one. Desire is a standard weakness of the senses and the Mind.
Desire is actively promoted in a thousand different ways in
today's world because it suits those interested in making
money through the exploitation of our weaknesses. A huge industry
has been built up, far bigger than any other industry, and
this is the one that panders to the senses. It is a multi-trillion
dollar industry. It is this industry that has exploited every
human weakness and created a clinical approach to fighting
AIDS, cleverly subverting a moral approach. People are in
fact brainwashed into believing that a moral approach will
not work. People are made to believe that they are
weak! No, that is not true at all. There is in each one of
us the Power of God and with that power, any obstacle
can be overcome. We just have to have faith in that power
and invoke that power. We don't try that because we are brainwashed
all the time.
This is one of the issues that has to be
seriously examined. As Baba often tells us, "We see through
the eyes of others, we hear through the ears of others, and
we think through the minds of others." We would realise
how true this is, if only we reflect for a minute and examine
how much we are under the influence of the media.
In short, we have to judge events, products,
relationships, etc., from a fundamental point of view,
based on our own discrimination. God has given man
the powerful tool called Buddhi - capacity for discrimination.
Why lock it up? Baba most emphatically declares that Buddhi
has been given for using and not storing away. Buddhi
is what will distinguish good from bad, and right from wrong.
If we wish to stay away from the bad and engage always in
righteous action, then we MUST invoke Buddhi.
By way of wrapping up this chapter, the following
observations can be made:
- Today, there is a severe imbalance in Society, and in
man's attitude to many matters pertaining to Nature and
- To correct this imbalance, every individual must use the
power of spiritual discrimination, i.e., Buddhi and
then only act.
- The feeling has grown that the rights of the individual
are supreme and that responsibilities do not matter much.
Swami, on the other hand, emphatically asserts: Responsibility
first and then only rights.
In this context, it is pertinent to recall how societies
evolved. While in the animal kingdom the general rule has
been the survival of the fittest, human evolution has been
marked by co-operation. But for co-operation, one would not
have towns and cities and the thousands of social institutions
that we take so much for granted these days.
Co-operation is an important element of social evolution.
That is why, Baba often recalls Vedic chants that highlight
the value of co-operation. Indeed, one must go even further
and aim at the higher stage of self-effacement. That is what
the truly wise ones do. Instead, the slogan is competition,
cut-throat competition. This may be good for business but
severely detrimental to Society and human progress. By aggressively
promoting extreme competition, one is literally going back
to the survival-of-the- fittest regime.
The philosophy of extreme competition promotes ego, excessive
feeling of mine, jealousy, greed, etc., all of which, we have
seen, are deadly enemies. It makes one a demon, wiping out
all traces of humanness and compassion. It is extreme selfishness
that is making young people abandon old parents, casting them
aside as if they are worn out socks. It also leads to stress,
depression, etc. Is this right?
People hide from imbalance or sweep it under the rug. This
we cannot afford to do. We must look squarely at the issue,
and see how we can, as genuine seekers, not be individually
guilty of it.