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Posted on: Aug 13, 2011
Radio Sai Study Circle – 5 (PART 02)
Part - 03
GSS: We have now dealt with these two parts; one, striving for perfection and excellence, and the other being yes, quality, but that does not mean no quantity; on the other hand, it means quantity with perfection or quantity with excellence. And if one would do this, then I believe, the next step would be much easier, that is, offering the action to the Lord. Having said that, if we are able to do just these two, do you really think it is necessary to bring God into the picture? Because that's what one would say: "Okay, fine, we believe in excellence, and yes, we understand quality is very important, it need not be just quantity; but why are we bringing in God here and saying ‘you must offer your action to God?'
Excellence or Perfection, Why Should it be Offered to God?
KMG: I feel that life is not all about work. How long are you going to keep working? Where are you leading your life towards? Swami has always said that there is a much higher purpose to life for which man has come into this world. And I think that purpose is what should drive one's actions and that purpose is God; to attain God.
So I think that is the perspective that really drives man from an ordinary or routine work that he does to start thinking about how to dedicate his work to God or why it should be God-oriented.
BP: In fact another interesting perspective is if your focus is on the third, which is offering everything to God, automatically, quality and excellence is taken care of.
Let me narrate a personal example. I remember when I was a student, my entire focus was to get an 'O' grade. Why? Because when Swami asks me I should be able to say: "Yes Swami, I got an 'O' grade". Then you get a namaskaar and Swami blesses you. Because my focus was to get an 'O' grade for Swami, I was striving to excel.
KMG: I feel action is fundamental; it is inevitable. We can divide it as binding action and liberating action - that's what Swami says in 'Dhyaana Vahini'. If you offer it to God, the action itself becomes liberating; whereas if you have the result as the motive, it becomes a binding action. Then your soul is stuck up in the unending cycle of birth and death.
AD: Thats definitely the right perspective. However, I would give a slightly different interpretation. My understanding is, if you do it for your own excellence or for your own achievement, for name or fame at some point of time, you are bound to get disappointed. Or, you might get elated. You are surely going to be caught up in this quagmire of the opposites.
If I do not have the perspective that I am doing this for God or the person who I am serving is God, then there is a very high probability of reaching a point where the ego takes over and I say to myself: 'I am serving, I am great...' and name or fame dominate. And if I am unable to deliver, I would end up disappointed. Or, if I do not get the appreciation for the work I have done, I would again be further dejected.
But while doing the same thing, if I just bring God into the whole perspective, everything changes. Because the Lord who is seated in my heart is appreciating me; I am able to recognise that the person who I am serving is God, and therefore I don't need the appreciation from anyone else. The moment you bring God in, it’s a sort of win-win situation.
BP: I think that's what differentiates the Sri Sathya Sai Organisations from all the other organisations. In fact the service activities of our organization are a testimony to this. I read in the news about one service project that was going on in Nashville, U.S, where they cook and serve food to the poor. And one of the volunteers said: "On some days, I do not want to go to this service activity because people praise the food I have cooked…. I don't want any ego to come in me."
GSS: That is a key point - when you merely strive for excellence and focus on the quality just for the heck of it, you consciously or unconsciously look for a reward. And as we know from typical human experience, rewards do not come at your beck and call, and so what happens is, if you do not get it, you get disappointed. It is not sustainable and that is why we bring in God because when you say: 'I am offering it to God' - that itself is a reward, which gives you what Swami calls as Atma Trupthi - a deep sense of satisfaction, where you are not looking for it outside of you but as an inward journey.
This makes it clear that we really need to bring in God into our lives. But Ganesh, to give us more clarity on this point, could you give an example of some experience of perhaps a student or some devotee wherein he/she really makes this offering to the Lord?
KMG: There was one occasion when Swami's students had prayed for an opportunity to put a mythological drama in front of Him. In it was a scene that depicted the famous episode where King Parikshit driven by an intolerable thirst puts a dead snake around Sage Sameeka's neck for not responding to his desperate call for water.
Well, this was a small part in the entire drama. And there were many other important characters like Krishna and the Pandavas who would have caught Swami's attention. Yet, at the end of the performance, Swami called this boy who had played the role of King Parikshit and materialised for him a diamond ring and blessed him.
All of us wondered why Swami was impressed by this character who had a one-minute appearance in the entire drama of one hour. Later the boy revealed that he had not sipped even a drop of water for the last 24 hours to get the actual feelings of King Parikshit. That type of commitment and that inner feeling to give his very best as an offering to Swami, however small it may be, was acknowledged by Bhagavan, who is the Indweller.
BP: Let me narrate a personal anecdote. This happened when I was in my XI grade in the school. In those days, we used to have exhibitions. And Swami used to come and spend a few moments looking at the exhibits done by the boys. It used to happen class-wise. Generally we would make these exhibits during the first semester and invite Swami towards the end of the semester.
Swami spending considerable time looking at the seemingly simple model - it was the sincere feeling of doing it for Swami that got rewarded
I remember that year our teacher said: "Why don't we do these exhibits during the vacation period itself?" So before we went in for the summer vacation, he gave each one of us a paragraph from Sathya Sai Speaks, and asked all of us to make appropriate exhibits. I took this activity very seriously. As my father was a civil engineer, I had the help of two carpenters. So I created a wooden temple because the message was about prayer. When I returned, I was actually a bit astonished to find that I was the only boy who had worked for it so earnestly and had brought a huge model from home. Of course, once the news came that Swami was coming, all the boys swung into action and made beautiful working models while mine was only a static model with no moving parts that could draw Swami’s attention.
But when Swami came, He spent a significant amount of time with me even though my model was nothing fascinating; it was just a wooden model of a temple. But we all know how Swami creates conversations out of nothing. He started commenting on the boy who was praying; the colour of the boy’s dress and all that. It was my very first interaction with Bhagawan and it really made me happy. But when I reflected on that later, I felt it was that sincere feeling of doing it for Swami and taking the job so seriously, the feeling of wanting to offer it to Him, is what probably got rewarded.
KMG: I am reminded of one more incident that demonstrates God being bhava priya (Lover of feelings) and not bhaahya priya (Lover of pomp and show). It was the first grama seva (serving in the villages project)in 2000. As it was the first day of this exercise due to some reason, there was some delay in dispatching food to the village Brahmanapalli. Meanwhile, there were some students who had finished serving in the nearby Janakampalli village and had just returned from seva.
Seeing that the vehicle for Brahmapalli was about to leave, they thought they could join them as their desire to serve was not yet quenched. By the time the boys returned from seva to the ashram, it was 4:30 p.m. and Swami was inside the interview room. Hearing the jai jai kar of this last batch of boys as they entered the ashram, Swami immediately came out of the interview room, and sent word for them.
These boys who had done seva almost throughout the day, came running towards Swami who was by now standing on the portico. Swami was visibly ecstatic with the spirit in which these boys had done tireless service throughout the day that He told all the boys to take padanamaskaar (the blessing of touching His feet). It was then that the boys noticed their dirty palms which were soiled due to the soot of the vessels they were shifting. They didn't know what to do. Could they touch Swami's feet with those unclean hands?
Swami immediately gauged the situation and directed them to take padanamskaar for the offering the boys had done to the village folks, with love, had already reached Swami. Needless to say, the boys fell at Bhagavan's feet with tears of joy and gratitude.
GSS: I think it's all about the mindset. You would know the typical story of people building a church. They go and ask one person, and he says: "You know, I am earning my livelihood". The other worker says: "No, I am actually making a building". But yet another man says: "No, I am indeed making a church for my Lord". So it is all about the way you look at your work. Is it not, Amey?
AD: Yes, absolutely. There was this other very famous personality, Baba Amte. When people used to ask him: "Why didn’t he visit the nearby temple of Vishnu, he used to very simply say: "I find so many of my Vishnus sitting right outside my house." He was referring to the lepers. He said: "Why do I need to go to a temple when in fact my Narayana (Lord) is coming to me."
It's all about seeing the Lord in whatever you do which will automatically result in quality and excellence of work.
SG: Khalil Gibraan explains what is it to work with love. He says:
"It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart; even as if your beloved was to wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection; even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house. It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy; even as if your beloved were to eat that fruit. It is to charge all things that you fashion, with the breath of your own spirit.”
And he goes on to say: "Work is love made visible."
BP: That's really wonderful.
GSS: A beautiful anecdote comes to my mind. Long back, I had been to the Super Specialty Hospital to donate blood. And just after doing this, we suddenly heard this announcement that Bhagawan was on His way to the hospital.
We were so excited that we thought why don't we remain in the blood bank, just in case He came there, so that we could get a glimpse. And it so happened that within a few seconds Swami actually came to the blood bank! He had brought some guests along with Him and was showing them around like a typical host. He pointed to the latest equipment, and as we were seated there He suddenly came there and looking at me he told them: "You know, this man is a lecturer in our Institute." I was elated that Swami was there, interacting with us.
Then suddenly, out of the blue, Swami asked me in Hindi: "Blood diya?” (Did you give blood?) And I was thrilled. I thought: "Here's an opportunity to declare to Bhagawan that yes, I have done this act of great nobility". So I said: "Yes Swami, I have given blood." The moment I said that, the same Swami who was so excited, put on a very dull face and said: "Oh, Lekin mujhey nahin diya." (But you didn't give it to Me.)
And I was left dumbfounded. And before I could even respond, Swami was already on His way as He typically does. it took me so many months to brood over this, introspect and finally I realized, on that day the feeling in my heart was ‘Here I am, giving blood to a patient’. Perhaps Swami wanted me to know that I was not giving blood to a patient but to the God, to the Swami, in that patient.
So, whenever we do any work, or any act, if we remember this aspect that we are actually catering or delivering not to the customer, not to my boss, or not to my colleague but to Swami in each one of them, then excellence will automatically set in, quality will come in, and we would have offered our action to the Lord.
With this, let us close this study circle with the same feeling that this discussion itself is an offering we have made to our beloved Bhagawan. And let's pray it brings joy and a tremendous sense of satisfaction to us in our hearts and to our readers.
Om shanti, shanti, shantihi. Sai Ram.
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