Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation - The Joy of the Gospel

I read the initial parts of Pope Francis' newly released document, The Joy of the Gospel. Here's a news article on it, "Francis: This is how the joy of the Gospel can reform the Church", http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/francesco-francis-francisco-30114/

Though Pope Francis' words are directed to Catholics/Christians, I think many of his views apply to other faiths too with a replacement of the deity Christ, when mentioned, with that of another faith (or a formless God). I have put down some references to the document and some small extracts which I think may be of interest to non-Catholic/non-Christian readers too. The long document is available here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html#

I must also say that many of us may not agree with some approaches of the Roman Catholic Church - I am not so comfortable with the idea of evangelization (and conversion) itself. I mean, if a person of his/her own accord chooses to convert to another religion - that's fine. But the idea of enticing people to convert from one religion to another "true" religion is something I am not comfortable with. I admire the great religions of the world and I think what we need is better followers of the core messages that each of the great religions' founders/prophets have given to humanity. That will make for a harmonious, holy and happy multi-faith world, IMHO. The different religions can be like different flowers that nature showers us with in her fascinating variety.

But I do admire the dedication of some Chrisitan missionaries in serving the needy viewing them as the body of Christ. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba taught devotees to view the needy as "Daridra Narayan"/God and serve them with love. I think this mindset of service of the needy viewing them as divine is common to both Sai Baba teachings and Roman Catholic Church teachings. Further I think there are many religious groups in India who would have a similar approach.

Index.I - A joy ever new, a joy which is shared

  • Section 2 talks about the dangers of consumerism in today's world leading to desolation
  • Section 3 invites Christians to a "renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them".
  • Section 7 talks of technological society providing pleasure but finding it difficult to provide joy. Pope Francis mentions that he has found "most beautiful and natural expressions of joy" among the poor. He quotes Pope Benedict XVI, "Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction".
  • Section 8 says that encounter with God's love liberates people from "narrowness and self-absorption". It says, "We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being." And "For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?"

[Ravi: I think the last sentence above, "For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?" applies fully to those of us who received the love of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba directly (physical form level) or indirectly.]


Index.II - The delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing

  • Section 9 talks about goodness always spreading and "authentic experience of truth and goodness" growing within us. 


Chapter 1. I. A Church which goes forth

  • Section 24 talks about the need for getting involved (with those who have to be helped). "Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The Lord gets involved and he involves his own, as he kneels to wash their feet. He tells his disciples: 'You will be blessed if you do this'". Pope Francis says that an evangelizing community should get deeply involved with the community - they should take on the smell of the sheep so that the sheep become willing to listen to them! "An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance. Evangelization consists mostly of patience and disregard for constraints of time." And "The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed. Finally an evangelizing community is filled with joy; it knows how to rejoice always."


Chapter 1. III. From the heart of the Gospel

  • Section 39 has these wonderful words of Pope Francis (and his team perhaps): 'Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love. If this invitation does not radiate forcefully and attractively, the edifice of the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards, and this is our greatest risk. It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel”.'

[Ravi: Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings for practice by his followers revolve primarily around one word - Love. Pure and unconditional love which would express itself usually as some form of service to the one(s) loved. Fascinatingly he would usually refer to listeners of his discourses as PremaSwarupulaara - forms/embodiments of love. So he taught that we are all forms of love and have love at the core of our being. Perhaps we can experience that reality of ours by trying to follow, whenever we can, the teaching of expressing our pure and unconditional love to others as forms of God and also to love God within us (formless aspect) or as expressed in well known symbols/icons/idols/images of God.]

Tibetan Book of the Dead - Description of Death, Between Death & Re-birth, and Re-birth

I saw an interesting though perhaps over-dramatized video on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, "Secret Tibetan Book of the Dead | History Channel Documentary", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ermcc6iDqQA, 44 min 01 sec, with the transcript available [Transcript allows you to browse through the text of the video and choose to view only the parts you are interested in.] The video has input from some Western experts on the book including some professor(s). The experts comments are quite interesting and thought-provoking.

There is a wikipedia page associated with it, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardo_Thodol. A few extracts:

The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State differentiates the intermediate state between lives into three bardos:

  • The chikhai bardo or "bardo of the moment of death", which features the experience of the "clear light of reality", or at least the nearest approximation of which one is spiritually capable.
  • The chonyid bardo or "bardo of the experiencing of reality", which features the experience of visions of various Buddha forms (or, again, the nearest approximations of which one is capable).
  • The sidpa bardo or "bardo of rebirth", which features karmically impelled hallucinations which eventually result in rebirth. (Typically imagery of men and women passionately entwined.)

...

[Ravi: Carl Jung's comments on it:]
In an introduction to Evans-Wentz' version, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung summarizes his psychological commentary:
The Bardo Thödol [Tibetan Book of the Dead] began by being a closed book, and so it has remained, no matter what kind of commentaries may be written upon it. For it is a book that will only open itself to spiritual understanding, and this is a capacity which no man is born with, but which he can only acquire through special training and special experience. It is good that such to all intents and purposes useless books exist. They are meant for those queer folk who no longer set much store by the uses, aims, and meaning of present-day civilisation.
— Carl Jung

[Ravi: I have been very impressed with whatever little I have read of Carl Jung. From the little I have read of both Jung and Freud I think Jung seems to have got the psychological understanding of humans more right. But then that is just my opinion based on very little reading - I could be way off.]

--- end wiki extracts (& comments) ---

The book pdf is available here: http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Tibetan-Book-of-the-Dead.pdf. I have downloaded it but not yet read/browse-read it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Some Key Figures from Sathya Sai Trust Annual Report for 2012-13

Last updated on 28th November 2013

I tried to pick up some key figures from the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust Annual Report for 2012-13, http://www.srisathyasai.org.in/Pdf/Annual%20Report%20_SSSCT%202012-13.pdf (12 MB document having 132 pages). Here they are:

[Note: A crore is 10 million; figures are in Rupees; 1 US $ is currently around 62 Rupees.]

Key financial figures for 2012-13
From Page 10:
Income: 165.95 crores
  [includes Interest (on Investments, I presume) of 117.18 crores and Donations of 41.46 crores]

Expenditure: 101.21 crores
[Barring 8.22 crores spent on Admin & Maintenance, remaining expenditure of 92.99 crores was on Education, Medical Relief & Welfare projects.]
* Additional 10.88 crores spent by university from funds and grants received by them.

Page 11:
Balance Sheet - Total Funds: 1523.25 crores [includes Investments of 1257.28 crores]

Key service figures for 2012-13

Free Medical care:
6,75,363 patients attended to and 23,911 surgical procedures performed [across 2 super hospitals, 1 general hospital, 1 mobile hospital]

Free Education:
1259 university students [across 4 campuses - Puttaparthi and Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, Bangalore and Muddenahalli in Karnataka.]
22 Music college students
[School students figures across all classes did not seem to be available; Xth std. passed out students - 89, XIIth std. passed out students - 118]

(Free) Welfare projects are difficult to reduce to numbers like above - please read the document for info. But there are some numbers in the report which I felt appropriate to put down below:
  • Grama Seva (Village Service) - once a year for around a week. Mainly done by Sai education system students under supervision of faculty & staff, as exposure to village service [45,000 sets of clothes (a Sari and a Dhoti making up one set, I presume) distributed over 153 villages; 2,92,000 people were served (a food packet and a laddu (sweet), I presume).]
  • Nithya Annadana Padhakam (Daily Free Food Service): 38 villages served, 2,70,741 meals served.
Other

The report covers organization of (devotional and other like university convocation) festivities in Puttaparthi ashram, details of Sri Sathya Sai Media Foundation (Radio Sai etc.) work as well as that of Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women's Welfare trust.

An online school education project, Vidya Vahini, is covered in some detail.

Sathya Sai Organizations

The report also covers Indian and international Sai organizations giving details of various devotional and service activities conducted during the reporting year. These organizations handle the various Sathya Sai centres across the country & world and so are distinct, in some sense, from the Puttaparthi Sai setup. Some info./figures are given below:

Indian Sathya Sai Organization:
2,647 samithis (centres), 5,92,106 organization members (mostly part-time I guess - 4,563 full time members), 3,30,691 Bal Vikas (like Sunday school) students and 1,39,700 trained Seva Dals (volunteers).

3,809 disaster relief cases, 2,644 villages adopted, 1,200 village improvement programme beneficiary villages, 8,95,714 (free) medical camp beneficiaries.

Sathya Sai International Organization:
120 countries active, 1,969 Sai centres.

----------------------

Given the fact that the revenue of one of the largest temple setups in India for 2012-13 was 2125 Crores, the income of the Sathya Sai Central Trust is quite less - less than 10 % of that figure. Of course, the large temple setup has a different focus and serves a different and very important need of its far larger number of visiting devotees. So comparing the Sai central trust setup with the large temple town setup would be like comparing apples and oranges!

But I think that the service to man/society achieved by the Sai central trust with its far lesser income is very noteworthy. A postal inspectors blog post had mentioned in the context of the release of the recent stamp on Sathya Sai Baba, about him creating an organization "to enable its members to undertake service activities as a means to spiritual advancement". I think these figures clearly show that the Sai central trust and associated institutions are maintaining that focus on service activities even after the Mahasamadhi of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sama - Muslim Mystic Music of India Documentary

I thoroughly enjoyed, felt inspired and improved my knowledge about Muslim mystic music of India as well as Islam, by watching a documentary Sama. Some info. about it from its webpage, http://www.psbt.org/screening/movie_review/481. It is financed by the Governement of India.

SAMA – MUSLIM MYSTIC MUSIC OF INDIA | SHAZIA KHAN | 52 min | Kashmiri, Malyalam, Assamese, Bengali, Rajasthani, Tamil, Hindi , English | 2113

The Film explores the Islamic music traditions in India and portrays how they have borrowed and taken inspiration from the culture of the India, in both form and content, to become a truly magnificent sound. The Film discovers that connection which allows the artiste to become one with the creator and experience peace, calm, serenity and joy.

--- end webpage extract ---

I saw it on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyg4qpqDXqE, 52 min, 01 sec.

It starts with a Tamil Muslim song which I loved and a simple yet very powerful quote from the Quran:

Quran Surah 2 (Al-Baqarah) Ayat 152 - Remember Me and I will remember you.

The Tamil Muslim song is Eganae Ya Allah (by Nagore Saints, it seems).

Around 03:00: Then it moves to Kerala and mentions that Arab traders had contacts with Kerala prior to Islam and that paved the way for Islamic preachers to come to Kerala. It then has a still with the following message:

The Indian Ocean's commercial connections, circa 7th century AD, brought Islam here. But there have been other ways: soldiers, ruling dynasties and Sufis. Over 1,400 years of shared history with Hinduism in the region, Islam here continues to evolve. Creating a new culture, which is broadly Islamic, but whose principal characteristics are heterodox and indigenous.
---end message---

Then we have a mappila paattu (traditional Islamic songs of Muslim Malabar Kerala) from a couple of young girls singing clearly and melodiously but without any music support.

The cultural blending of Indian and Arabian music styles is talked about, and how the mappila paattu moved from pre-Islamic themes to Islamic themes.

Then there was an interesting still with the message:
Mid-13th century AD, the Delhi Sultanate under Shams ud-Din Iltutmish became a refuge for people fleeing the Mongol onslaught on Baghdad and the Caliphate. Sufis were part of this exodus, too. They arrived, settled and began to discover traditions similar to theirs. Wandering across the land, they assimilated local customs. In time, they became the biggest exponent of the spread of Islam in India.
--- end message ---

Hmm. What I had read earlier about famous Sufis coming to India from Muslim lands like Iraq gave the impression that they were sent here to spread the Islamic faith. I don't recall those articles mentioning the push-factor of the horrific Mongol sack of Baghdad (and caliphate in general). [The 8th para in this link describes the horrific sack of Baghdad, the epicentre of Islamic civilization then, by the Mongols in 1258, lasting for a week, http://historyofislam.com/contents/the-post-mongol-period/the-fall-of-baghdad/ - Baghdad was utterly destroyed]. As is the case in most such moves/migrations I think both the push-factor of the Mongol destruction as well as the pull-factor of an Islamic sultanate in Delhi would have led some of the Caliphate religious leaders including Sufis to move to India. I think this piece of vital info. from this film improves my understanding of Indian Islamic history quite a bit.

Around 07:50: Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's shrine in Ajmer is covered with some historical background and a qawwali song sung in the shrine.

Around 11:05: Jodhpur, Rajasthan is next featuring Muslim singers who sing (and for generations have sung) Hindu bhajans to Rajput kings as well as Muslim songs (for others). Their way of life is an interesting blend of Hinduism and Islam.

I loved the mystical view presented by one song (I think the video mentioned Bulleh Shah in this context), translation given below:
God is within, around, up and above
this, my friend, is a profound lesson.
Recite the name of the Almighty,
and the veil of separation will melt away,
the Prophet's guiding light will meet you then.
The holy Kaaba is a place within me,
I wonder who blessed me with it.
Within is a temple, a mosque and the God too.

Around 17:30: Assam comes next. A monastery head priest talks about a founder, named Sankardev, of a (Hindu) sect who gave importance to congregational chanting & singing (Naam Kirtan) and worship of one God. Here's his wiki page.
Then we have a message:
The Islamic tradition of meditative invocation or chanting God's ninety-nine names is called ZIKR. Hazrat Shah Miran who came from Baghdad in the 17th century introduced this devotional concept of remembrance in Assam. He gave the first Azaan (Muslim call of prayer) here and came to be known as Ajan Pir (Spiritual leader).
--- end message ---
Here's the wiki page for Ajan Pir.

An Islamic leader says that Ajan Pir created the ZIKR which is Islamic but borrowed the music from the Vaishnavite sect. The (Hindu) monastry priest says that Ajan Pir was influenced by Sankardev's philosophy and the similarity between Islam and that philosophy. God is one.

Then we have a Hindu song and later, a Muslim song from the Ajan Pir group.

Then the Islamic leader says (translated), "The purpose of practicing Zikr in short is to have a union with God. When one's whole being calls out to the Almighty (Allah) it is only then one achieves communion. In that moment, the person transcends the physical world. Nothing remains but Allah Allah Allah."

Around 24:30: The scene shifts to snow and Jammu and Kashmir.
We have an Islamic song.

About Sufism, a veteran Islamic folk music man says (translated), "A Sufi would be someone who is pure hearted - there is nothing malicious about him. He should have found his connection to God - recognition of Divinity is the core of this process. A Sufi would be conscious of the present, living in the now... alive. He is fearless. The life of a Sufi and a common man is very different. How exactly? The Sufi is no longer scared of dying - he does not have materialistic concerns. If he is on this path, he trusts the power that fed him in his mother's womb where even his mother's hands could not reach. He keeps the faith that Allah will provide for him because God has ordained that he is responsible for food, death and destiny. The rest is man's free will."

He goes on later to say (translated), "Certain sects of the Islamic society consider the Sufis deranged - giving them several irreverent names - but a true Sufi will be above these debates ... if he is not, then he has strayed from the path, irrespective he has to keep moving on."

We have a song and lovely santoor music (if I got it right) on a beautiful lake (Dal lake?).

Then one of the musicians says (translated), "The practice of Sama (audition gatherings) and music in Sufism is like a rosary. Man carries within his being the music of creation, the beating of his heart is Sufi music, it is the real mystic music. A sort of music that gives you peace, placates your soul; not a temporary respite. When one hears the call of Azaan, one is enthused with divine energy. Leaving all material engagements, we offer our obeisance to the Almighty. This is the call of Sama. That which draws you to virtue and takes you away from the immoral. (That is called real music. That is called real Sama.)"

Around 37:00: The scene shifts to a Baul music festival in Kolkata, East India and then a village in Bengal, East India.

Baul folk musician-fakirs say (translated), "Saint Lalon's songs are about humanity. People across religions can follow this path. Music is the medium through which we seek enlightenment, our music is very introspective. (Interviewer) Is your path to Allah same as the Quran teaches? (Musician-fakirs answer) The same! This asceticism is the essence of Quran. Read the Quran, you will know the path to God. Each page is an ode to humanity. The Quran mentions two Meccas. One in the Arab lands and the other is within you. God resides here (speaker places his hand on his heart/chest), not in Arab lands. Music for us is a high, as well as our livelihood. If we are not performing, we will be singing away at home. Through music we pay our respects to our masters."
...
"Amongst us Hindus are called Bauls and Muslims are called Fakirs. We follow the same philosophy, we are one." ... "To hell with divides. We are all humans. One is not born a priest or a cobbler. Death finds us all whether you live under a tree or in a five star hotel - whether you are a Hindu or a Muslim."

Commemorative Postage Stamp on Sathya Sai Baba released by Minister of State for C&IT, Dr. Kruparani

It was very satisfying for me to see the recognition provided by the Govt. of India of Swami's outstanding contribution to India of motivating people to pursue spirituality though loving service to the poor and the needy on a very large scale suitable to modern times, by releasing a postage stamp in his honour.

Here's a Telugu news video clip of it, 0 min: 55 secs.

Here's a pic of the stamp, and here's a pic of the "First day cover".

http://postalinspectors.blogspot.in/2013/11/commemorative-postage-stamp-on-sathya.html gives a pic of the release itself. I have copy-pasted the accompanying text below:

Sri Sathya Sai Baba (born as Sathyanarayana Raju; 23 November 1926 – death 24 April 2011) was a highly revered spiritual leader and world teacher, whose life and message are inspiring millions of people throughout the world. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi. The Sathya Sai Organisation, founded by Sathya Sai Baba "to enable its members to undertake service activities as a means to spiritual advancement" has over 1,200 Sathya Sai Centers in more than 100 countries. Through this organisation, Sathya Sai Baba established a network of free hospitals, clinics, drinking water projects and schools. Sathya Sai's devotees are spread across the world.

Union Minister of State for Communication & Information Technology (IT) Killi Krupa Rani released a commemorative stamp on Sathya Sai Baba on the occasion of his 88th birth anniversary celebrations held at Puttaparthi (Anantapur district) on 23rd November 2013.

--- end extract ---

I think the crux is the platform created worldwide for persons who want to "undertake service activities as a means to spiritual advancement" and are comfortable with teachings of Sathya Sai Baba whose essence perhaps can be captured as the eternal (Sanathana) values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema. The platform is stable and has leading lights like retired supreme court judges as trustees (http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/judges/bio/97_apmisra.htm - Justice Misra is seen with Dr. Kruparani, MoS, in the pic mentioned above, of the stamp release) or holding top positions like Chancellor of the Sai university (Justice Venkatachaliah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manepalli_Narayana_Rao_Venkatachaliah). [After Swami's Mahasamadhi former Supreme Court Judge P.N. Bhagwati, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._N._Bhagwati, was appointed the Sai university Chancellor but he perhaps faced some health issues and so was not seen at important events like the convocation.]

Over the past couple of years as I have been doing rather intensive reading of major events in India (and abroad) I have come to understand the value that a retired supreme court judge can bring to institutional governance at the very top levels. The honourable supreme court judges must be having tremendous experience of dealing with disputes of various kinds some of which involve the high and mighty of the land (both at supreme court level and lower courts). I guess almost any dispute under the sun could come up to the Supreme court (and lower courts) - corruption, murder, constitutional impropriety, divorce, sexual molestation, tax matters etc.! I think such experience would be making them very wise about human beings and institutions. Further, accountability is something they would be very well versed with. So, if anything is amiss in an institution where they serve at the top, and that is big enough to come to their notice, they have the clout and the wisdom to haul up people and set things right. The government, I think, gives a lot of value to the opinions and views of retired supreme court judges.

It is very satisfying and reassuring for me to see that the key Sathya Sai institutions have such eminent and wise people like retired supreme court judges in top positions.

BTW Sam Pitroda, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Pitroda, was the chief guest for the convocation of the Sai university this year (held one day prior to Swami's birthday i.e. on 22nd Nov.). The wiki states that Pitroda is adviser to the Prime Minister of India on public information infrastructure and innovations and the chairman of National Innovation Council. He does not seem to be a Sai devotee - perhaps he was attracted by the educational model of the Sai university. Here's a report of the convocation which has Sam Pitroda's picture at the convocation towards the bottom of the report, http://www.theprasanthireporter.org/2013/11/32nd-annual-convocation-of-sssihl/. And here's The Hindu report on the convocation.

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust also released its annual report, http://www.srisathyasai.org.in/Pdf/Annual%20Report%20_SSSCT%202012-13.pdf (Note the pdf file is around 12 MB and so the download may take some time).

So around two and a half years after Swami's Mahasamadhi, I think the transition to a stable post-Mahasamadhi phase has been achieved. Govt. recognition, retired supreme court judges taking up key positions (after Swami's Mahasamadhi), annual financial reports being made available for free download, decent media reports on Sai institution events ... The chaotic months with attendant scary media coverage and government oversight/inquiry that followed the Mahasamadhi are a distant memory now! Not that the institutions may not face challenges now and then - that perhaps would happen to any institution. But now the institutions have shown the ability to run in the absence of Swami's physical form. (Of course, Swami's Grace is beyond His physical form and that is the vital factor for the running of the institutions).

IMHO, now the Puttaparthi setup is a shining beacon of loving service to fellow human beings in a modern setup involving sophisticated medical care, education, some village service as well as loving adoration of God through means like bhajan, chanting, satsang and reading scripture and Sai literature.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A lovely and insightful account of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Setup from The Hindu

I was 'persuaded' to buy a copy of "Srivari Brahmotsavam- A celestial spectacle on earth" from The Hindu by my Hindu newspaper vendor/supplier for Rs. 150/- a few days (perhaps weeks) ago. I thank the vendor for making me buy it :).

I have yet to read it in full but have found it to have fascinating insights of Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam setup with wonderful photographs as well. I thought I should let readers know that it can be bought from the net here: http://hindu.com/books/srivari/srivari13.htm. Some points about the issue.
  • It starts with lovely photographs of the annual Brahmotsavam (mainly deity photographs).
  • Average number of pilgrims having darshan every day - 63,000! On 25 to 30 days in a year the number of people having darshan crosses 1 lakh.

The financial picture

I think TTD has heavily benefited materially by South India's economic boom. Some figures of revenue:
2012-13 Rs. 2125 crores
2003-04 Rs.  496 crores
1993-94 Rs.  121 crores
1983-84 Rs.    33 crores
1972-73 Rs.     9 crores
1962-63 Rs.      0.98 crore
1954-55 Rs.       0.20 crore

Now for us to get a proper value of the above figures they should be adjusted for inflation which I am quite sure may change the old decade figures significantly. But even the inflation adjusted figures would show a significant growth in revenue over decades, I think.
  • TTD has a workforce of around 20,000, half of whom are permanent employees.
  • If TTD were a listed company, it will rank around 300 in the list of over 5,000 companies in Bombay Stock Exchange. It will overshadow the likes of Indian Hotels company, which owns the Taj Group of hotels, Tata Global Beverages (formerly Tata Tea), Sundaram Finance and multinationals such as Novartis and Pfizer.
Other topics

The issue has articles on the laddu, geology of Tirupati, Nithya Annadanam (serves meals to 60,000 pilgrims daily for free! - Awesome), tonsuring the head, Security, Biosphere reserve, Volunteer service groups, Social Service activities of TTD, Cow donations (and cow care), interviews with a spiritual head and administrators, fascinating images from the past etc.

For those who are devoted in some way to Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati, I think this book/supplement is a must-have.

My Tirumala Experience & Thoughts

I also thought I should add some key things that I remember from my only trip to Tirumala-Tirupathi in the late eighties (IIRC).

At that time I was an agnostic who was into whatever I had understood then of Vedanta philosophy & contemplation but did not really believe in a supernatural power which could/would intervene in human/worldly affairs and so I was not into devotion (Bhakti). I had come under the impression that Tirupathi Balaji was a money God and I tended to prefer lower-profile temples and spiritual centres as more suitable for my path to God. I went to Tirupathi on this trip along with friends & a relative as a kind-of curious visitor.

The first key memory I have of Tirumala is hearing Venkatesa-Suprabhatam, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suprabhatam, (sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi if I recognized it and remember it correctly) as we were going towards the temple proper. It seemed to be so holy and seemed to settle the mind into a higher/purer state. Of course, I had heard it earlier in other environments like a residential flat. But hearing it on the Tirumala hill during early morning right in front of the temple was different - it was an uplifting experience.

The other very striking memory is of a wealthy family in the queue just before the sanctum sanctorum with a fiftyish perhaps male who was quite heavily built and had a few large gold rings on his fingers. The lady of the family had lots of gold jewelry and there were some children too along with them. As the queue advanced and turned to the sanctum sanctorum (or a point very close to it), the fiftyish heavily built man broke into a run, shouting Govinda Govinda! His face reflected anticipation and desire of a 'mad' but pure 'mad' kind.

I had not seen anything like that before in my life in temples that I had visited mostly in and around Bombay. Yes, of course, one could see devotion writ large on the face of many people in temples, and also at homes of devout people (my mother was quite devout). But this was different. The running was like how a cricket-fan may run to see a cricket star or a film fan may run to see a film star (though that hero-worship is different from God-worship).

And this man was fiftyish and obviously well off! But he seemed to have forgotten his status and everything and just wanted to rush to have his beloved God's darshan!

That made a lot of impact on me. I now had seen 'crazy' but pure-type of Bhakti from rather close quarters. I felt that that person had experienced something which I not only had not experienced but could also not really understand/appreciate/imagine.

Around a quarter century later, now I certainly can understand that Bhakti and sometimes, I myself, get into that very happy, blessed, 'mad' kind of love (devotion/Bhakti) for God, usually in the God-man forms of Sathya Sai Baba, Shirdi Sai Baba, Krishna, Rama, Jesus etc. In those moments it is just that love, admiration and/or worship of/for God that matters - all else simply disappears from the consciousness or becomes very unimportant. Such moments are the cherished moments of my life - the rest of my life just pales into insignificance when compared to these blessed moments. I think these uplifting moments are the common experiences of devotees of God from various religions, regions of the world as well as periods of time. And that perhaps is, and has been over millenniums, the vital magnetic pull of various religions, religious centres, saints and god-persons across the world.

I think I also understand, to some extent, the money part of Tirumala. God is all powerful and has the power to satisfy various kinds of desires of His devotees. Those who pray devotedly for wealth, like many, many businessmen devotees of Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi, are showered with wealth by the Lord. And then they come to His image at Tirumala to offer gratitude for showering that wealth, and perhaps offer a part of that wealth to Him.

To put it in a different language and context, the mind matters. If the mind intensely focuses on desiring wealth through prayer (and, usually, backed with some business or other activity) I think the way existence works is that such intense prayer has the capability to make the desire come true.

But then wealth is transitory. Some amount is needed for survival but desiring too much of it can bring a lot of worries too. So the wise people teach us to pray instead for things that are more lasting like love, joy and peace which would usually include necessary amount of wealth for decent if not luxurious living.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Universal Consciousness - Advaita - Teachings Backed by Practical Experiences

Last updated on November 20th 2013

The post, Sathya Sai Baba's Advaita Teachings By John Hislop Ph.D. - Edited Transcript of Video, is about teachings of Advaita as taught by Sri Sathya Sai Baba from one of the foremost, now deceased, Western followers/disciples of his, a Dr. Hislop (given in a talk in 1989 in the USA). Very interestingly, the theory of Advaita is backed by practical experiences of Dr. Hislop of the "universal consciousness" level of Sri Sathya Sai Baba which allowed the latter to have paranormal knowledge about Dr. Hislop.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba exhorted his followers to believe that the ultimate reality and the only reality of all of them (indeed of all existence) is the "universal consciousness" which is at the depth of their very being. In other words, that all are God.

But, as most of us (including me, certainly), have some difficulty in constantly (or even for some time) living with such a belief, given the various very human limitations that we have at our current spiritual evolution levels, we may prefer to draw inspiration from an external icon (name and/or form) for our spiritual efforts. In the post mentioned above Sri Sathya Sai Baba is that external icon which is viewed as Divine but in my humble opinion most (if not all) of the lecture would apply to other divine figures too of Hinduism as well as other religions. The nomenclature used may be different, "world as the body of Christ", "one Ummah", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ummah, instead of "universal consciousness" (the equivalence is not exact but the essence of the terms is the unity in creation and so they have equivalence). Instead of Sathya Sai Baba, the figure could be Christ or Krishna, or the formless Allah.

It must also be mentioned that the initial part of the talk relates to matters specific to the Sri Sathya Sai Baba following. Some readers may want to skip that part and start reading the edited transcript document (or viewing the video) from "0:22:53 - How to Love Swami?; Hislop Experiencing Swami Within". [I repeat, you can substitute your name & form of God instead of Swami].

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sathya Sai Baba's Advaita Teachings By John Hislop Ph.D. - Edited Transcript of Video

Last major update on 20th November 2013
Last minor update on 21st March 2017

Video courtesy: saicast.org

This post is an edited version of the talk, a significant part of which covers Advaita as taught by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Swami), given by Dr. John Hislop, in simple and friendly English, at a US Retreat (Eureka, Missouri) on 27th May 1989. The video's original source is saicast.org and is available at the following saicast links: http://www.saicast.org/1989/19890527Hislop.html and http://vimeo.com/47243347.

I have uploaded the video (temporarily) to youtube and provided a proper transcript for the same, here, "Sathya Sai Baba's Advaita Teachings By John Hislop Ph.D.", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl9izOvsUJg , 1 hr, 26 min, 02 sec. Instructions about how to use the transcript and related caption features of youtube are provided in the About tab of the youtube video page above (you will have to click on ‘Show More’ button to see the whole About tab content).

About Dr. John Hislop


The late Dr John (Jack) S. Hislop had a Ph.D. (in education) from the University of California, Los Angeles campus (UCLA). [Source: "A PERFECT DISCIPLE, The story of Dr John S Hislop", http://media.radiosai.org/journals/Vol_02/13July01/02_Cover_Story/cover_story.htm.]

Dr. Hislop first saw Sathya Sai Baba in 1968. He was a major force in the International Sai Organization in the 1980s and 1990s. He has written books about his experiences and conversations with Sai Baba, "My Baba and I" and "Conversations with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba". [Source: http://vimeo.com/47243347]

Edited Talk Transcript

Contents

0:01:18 - Introduction by Dr. William (Bill) Harvey
0:06:20 - John (Jack) Hislop begins his talk
0:10:09 - Swami's Atma Vidya Teachings & Experiences of Hislop
0:22:53 - How to Love Swami?; Hislop Experiencing Swami Within
0:33:10 - Advaita; Swami explaining His (paranormal) Knowing of Hislop's Lectures
0:40:59 - Swami on Liberated People in Today's Age - Now
0:43:05 - Swami's Advaita Teachings
1:01:43 - Advaita Summarized; Practical Application of Advaita
1:07:13 - Question and Answer Session; How do you know when you are doing it right?
1:07:51 - Isn't the Process of Inquiry Itself an Illusion?
1:08:33 - How to differentiate between conscience and mental chat?
1:09:59 - Following the I to the Source Becomes a Burden. How to rid oneself from this burden?
1:12:32 - If We Think Ourselves as God, Won't We Have a Big Ego?
1:13:51 - Why does Baba Materialize Objects and Vibhuti before the Public?
1:16:14 - Where do human values fit into the context of I-ness being the only genuine thing?
1:20:27 - Swami saving Hislop and Others from Head-On Collision in Bangalore
1:23:39 - Do We Need God's Grace for Liberation?

0:00:00 - Prayer-Song

Easwaramba's resplendent son,
it's the start of a bright new day.
Time to rise, time to shine, Lord Divine.
Time to lead us along life's way.
Awake, Lord of Puttaparthi.
Awake O Lord over all mankind.
Awake O Lord of compassion,
that the world, good fortune may find.

0:01:18 - Introduction by Dr. William (Bill) Harvey


It's very wonderful to introduce either of the two speakers that we've got for this conference this morning. One of the speakers will speak and then tomorrow in each afternoon session we will have the other speaker. But all of us know, of course, Doctor Hislop. We have read his books. He's been described accurately as the Westerner that is the overseas person - non Indian - who has had more interviews and more time, more opportunity to consult with, ask questions of Swami than anyone else.

He has just had, for whatever reason, a spectacular opportunity to get in a position where he could ask the kind of questions we'd all like to have answers of. And he has this ability, this unique quality - Swami has Graced him with this ability where, when Swami gives what is not yet for us the answer we want - a complete answer ... Jack is able to persist and not get Swami angry but get Swami to elucidate more. And so we can read conversations. We can read My Baba and I, over and over and over again because what he does is he goes in and without a tape recorder without, I guess, a lot of ego, he's able to listen very carefully.

He records these things. He makes notes of them right after he comes out of those sessions and then he's willing to share. In My Baba and I, you see that he has shared not only these reports but letters that Swami has written to him. And another thing about Jack is that he is not at all shy about sharing the times when Swami admonishes him. He tells us just as it is and through the years, people have on occasions, wondered if (some quote) is a particular accurate quote. I can assure you that he is extremely dedicated. He doesn't pull punches. He just tells us, he shares with us and it is a great opportunity. Swami just can’t, in the physical sense that we're in, make these things available to each and every one of us. So he chooses instruments at various times and he's chosen Jack Hislop to do this.

It's our duty to go forward and take advantage of that and he gets better and better every year. Jack does. He seems to have more energy now than he had 8, 10, 12 years ago. He ... [applause] I remember, I guess with Indiana, (at) one of our 3rd/4th annual conferences I was trying to introduce him and I said that he is reminiscent of Arjun when he is the one chosen by Swami to receive the Gita. And the question was asked, why not the older brother Dharmaraja who was the epitome of Dharma and so forth. And Swami at that time said that it was because Dharmaraja was the embodiment of Dharma but he had hindsight. He would ask questions and reflect on things after they happen. Arjun would ask before they would happen and therefore, have an opportunity not to make some of the mistakes.

And I think that's one of the things that Jack does for us. He asks these questions of Swami. He goes into great, great detail. He listens to us when he comes among us and when he doesn't have the answer, he makes a note. And the very next time he goes to Prashanti Nilayam, he makes it a point to ask Swami that particular question. So while he is here, you have the opportunity ... Alan mentioned that he's gonna be available for some special ... private so-called times. But he's always available the whole three days that he's here. And you can catch him walking back. Normally in these public sessions you ask questions that are of general interest. Those private sessions are when you have personal questions. Sort-of like Swami does. But he's available. He doesn't mind your asking questions on top of questions. Matter of fact, he's a little bit upset if you don't take advantage of the time he is here. You go ahead and ask him as many questions as you want to. And I'm going to now step aside and give you the opportunity of hearing a presentation from our beloved Dr. John Hislop. [Applause.]

0:06:20 - John (Jack) Hislop begins his talk


Pranams to the Lotus Feet. Pranams to Sai devotees.

I am very happy that you invited me to come here once again. I thoroughly enjoy being at the Saint Louis conference. I've been here a number of times and have been fortunate enough to make many very good friends amongst you. And it's always a happy occasion for me when I have the chance to see you again and the chance to have conversations with you again. Before I start talking about Swami I would like to make just a couple remarks to follow up on what Bill just finished saying about large cities perhaps having several centers. That was Swami's original idea when he first formed the American Sathya Sai Baba organization. He said it would be good to have a number of medium sized or small centers scattered geographically in an area. And then once a month or once every two months those centers could meet together and have a speaker and invite interested members of the public to that meeting.

So what Bill is suggesting is exactly what Swami himself has said many years ago. The personal question sessions that they mentioned started several years ago in Vancouver British Columbia at their request when I attended their conference there. And I want to tell you that those of you who would like to ask questions privately that I don't give any personal advice. What I do is: you ask a question and if I know Swami's answer to that question, and I have heard Swami speak so often during the past 20 years that almost invariably I can remember something that Swami said that will apply to that question. So you get what Swami said. And I don't add personal remarks. If I don't know I just say, Sorry, I don't know the answer to that question.

I should and I want to tell you something that happened last weekend at the council meeting in San Diego. There was unanimous endorsement and unanimous approval of your own Bill, Doctor Bill, as the acting chairman of the Executive Committee and therefore the acting chairman of the entire American Sathya Sai Baba organization. Give a hand [clapping]. I can tell from your response that you also endorse that appointment.

Have you noticed the beautiful work they've done in front of the altar - that lovely vase with the little flowers? And the designs and the altar itself?

0:10:09 - Swami’s Atma Vidya Teachings & Experiences of Hislop


You know Swami said that there is the Atma and there is the spiritual teaching and there is the longing for enlightenment. But even so, a teacher must come and impart that sacred information to you. And when it comes to Atma Vidya, the science of the self - sacred science of the self then the one who comes to teach you is the world teacher. It is God himself who comes so the one who has come to teach us the science of the self, the sacred information about the self is the world teacher, is God himself, Sathya Sai Baba.

Well, there is in India a periodical called the Indian skeptic and they engage themselves in practicing skepticism in relation to everybody in the spiritual field. That is they believe that everyone is a fake, including Swami. And they especially criticize Swami when He says that I am the divine, I am God. The editor sent me three copies. So I replied to him and told him that over the last twenty years my conclusions were quite contrary to his, having seen Swami hundreds of times. And I said that those who criticize Swami for saying that he is God, at least should be fair and should complete the sentence because Swami never stops there. He invariably completes the sentence and says, yes, I am God but so are you and the only difference between us is that I know my truth and you, as yet, do not know your truth. But otherwise we are exactly one and the same.

The last time I was there Swami passed me several times - each time he would hit me on the shoulder and say, Hislop, no difference between you and me. [Laughter] So that is what He says, always has said and continues to say it - that you are God. And He says the greatest sin that can be committed by a person is to think that he is other than God and then fill his mind with thoughts of cravings and of hatred. Man churns his mind with cravings, desires, hatreds and dislikes. And from that all the problems that assail the world, arise. Now, as Bill said, it is true that I have had many, many (conversations) with Swami.

In the old days, beginning days, there was hardly anybody on the campus there at Prasanthi Nilayam. The first time I came, my wife and I, in January of 1968, there were only six or eight foreign people in the entire campus. There were no new buildings. Just the Mandir - and before the present additions to the Mandir - and two or three old ramshackle buildings in which a few people lived. And, Swami, when we came, put the men in one room - old dusty, dirty room, and the ladies in another and then He would come every morning and spend an hour and a half or two hours talking to us and come back in the afternoon and spend an hour and a half or two hours talking to us day after day for all the ten days that we were there.

Ask Him any question that we wanted do and He would answer. He would send food to us and the curious thing we noticed was that the food came in these Indian canisters - various segments with different kinds of food. When we started there were perhaps some eight foreigners and perhaps six or seven Indians in the group. Gradually their schedules took them away and they left. We (were) down to about four of us. (We noticed the) peculiar thing and that was that the level of food in the canisters stayed precisely the same no matter how many people have been taking food from the canister. When there were twelve or fourteen people the canister went down - the food level went down a certain amount; when there were only four or five of us – (it went down) exactly the same amount. So the food just multiplied naturally.

During the early days also Swami himself would walk through the crowd and individually give every person sweets and sometimes Amruth out of a container and although there might be two or three thousand people there, yet the little container that Swami carried never was empty - always was full.

So I had (all those) talks with Swami. In the early days - well, in the first couple of years we were staying in a room which faced Swami's room - above the Mandir - and He didn't have anyone to talk to. So He would come to the window and wave me like that. Come up, Hislop. Come up and talk. So I would (pop) into the room and we would have a long chat. One time I said to Him, - I never addressed Him in the second person - I said, Swami has to look after the entire universe, stars and the distant galaxies. He has to look after all the people in the world - the people who worship God that don't even know about Swami. He takes care of them too. Now with the colleges the school and the devotees in all parts of the world, with that tremendous burden of work, how does Swami have time to sit here and talk to the likes of me? And He said that Hislop, it is not like that at all. He said it's like when you start a car - you turn the key in the car and the engine starts and then the engine just runs. No attention is needed to do it. So He said the universe is like that. Swami turns the key the universe - all parts of the universe work and no attention is needed. So I have plenty of time Hislop to sit here [laughter] and talk to you.

Then for many years - I would say five or six years at least - wherever Swami went He would take me with Him in the car. No matter where He is going. Whether (to lunch) or to some other city or what not. I would sit in the front seat with the driver and in the back seat would be Swami sitting in the middle and then there would be a couple of persons close to Swami. Raja Reddy used to be on one side and Vitthal Rao. I don't know how many of you knew Vitthal Rao before he died. Very nice man - Vitthal Rao. Swami liked him very much. He was a very witty man and could always make Swami laugh but knew exactly where to stop - you know. Never step one inch over the proper boundary. So Swami always had Vitthal Rao with Him whenever he went in the car. But then Vitthal Rao died and the people at the back of the car started to change - Dr. Bhagavantam would be there, Joga Rao would be there, and so on. In these car trips, I would be turning back all the time straining my neck looking back because the back seat was where the action was [laughter].

Swami would sometimes be talking to the two fellows there in Telugu. Sometimes he would sing Bhajans and sometimes he would answer questions. And I had the (eternal) reputation of always asking questions. So I would ask questions and Swami would answer the questions. Then, as soon as the car trip finished, I would go to a quiet place and write down everything that was said. If we had an half an hour or an hour's conversation it might take me four hours to reconstruct the conversation. Then I would take that conversation to the other people who were in the car or in the group (interviewing) Swami, wherever Swami and I happen to be and would ask them to read and point out any omissions or any errors of commission in what was written. So even though it came from my memory all the talks in the conversation were verified by other people. So they  aren't wild (reaches) of imagination.

Sometimes people have come to me and said, well why didn't you tape them (instead)? It would be much more believable if we can listen to a tape. Well, that's true. It's a very good idea and I tried that. I carried a tape when I first (went) there and Swami let me use it a couple of times. At one time I said to Him - this was when the old cottage was there at Brindavan - before this new lotus like building which is now there which is a new home (and that cottage had a big verandah).

I said (to) Swami, what Swami says should be recorded for posterity. All these wonderful things you're saying and nobody puts them down or does anything about them. So I said that's (why I) should. So I said, all right Swami when shall I come tomorrow morning? Well, you come at 10 o'clock - right. So I would come at 10 o'clock - have a tape recorder there. (Then I would) ask a question and put the machine on. And Swami would say Umm ... I don't think that (one) should be recorded. So off went the machine. Until finally He told me, Hislop, don't use that tape recorder anymore. He said the tape recorder's up here - in your mind.

0:22:53 - How to Love Swami?; Hislop Experiencing Swami Within


Very often people ask, I want to love Swami but I don't find any feeling of love in my heart so how can I learn how to love Swami? So I asked Swami that same question and Swami said, well Hislop, it's like this, when you were walking by the shop window and saw that tape recorder in the window you didn't have any affection for it. It was just a piece of merchandise in the window. But when you went in and bought it, it became yours. Now you love it. Every place you go you carry it. So what is yours - you love. The mother, even though she may be sympathetic to and very tender to and be loving to the other children on the block, she loves her own child. It belongs to her. So it's the same way with Swami. If we want to have a strong happy joyful feeling and love for Swami, we should consider that Swami belongs to us. He is ours. He's part of us, just beneath the surface of our consciousness. (There is) Swami. I used to say to Swami, Swami when I start to be quiet and look within myself - trying to dive in myself, after I get a certain distance inside then it seems to me that it's no longer Hislop there, Swami - it's Swami who's there. Swami said yes, yes, that is exactly true. It is Swami who is there.

Now, (as) an example of that, this last year, in February I was in Prasanthi Nilayam. I wasn't there very long, just two weeks because my wife doesn't - can't - travel any longer in that long trip. They had a series of talks. There's what's called the central office - the Sathya Sai Baba Seva organization now. Their office is in Prasanthi Nilayam. Those of you who have been there, you know where your lecture hall is there. Down the corner where it joins the bank of apartments, there is a (coir rope) and that's their office. They are supposed to run the Ashram. Mr. Kutumb Rao is dead. He died from cancer. This group of three or four people is now supposed to take care of the ashram.

They, immediately when I arrived, arranged a series of lectures to the foreign community. You know - the custom of Prasanthi Nilayam for some years has been that the foreigners come and since there's nothing to do and they are not accustomed to sitting quietly, they tend to go out of their apartments and then wander out into the village and talk to the merchants, make friends with the merchants. Then they start to eat the village food. And for all I know, five minutes before they ate, a lizard fell from the ceiling into the food and they get sick. Especially the girls from Italy - they have a lot of trouble. They make friends. Go out in the village to make friends with these Kashmiri people and then trouble follows - a lot of trouble follows. So Swami is constantly advising the people who go there - don't leave the (campus). They have shops - everything that you want to buy can be bought on the campus. The food is there - it's clean even though it may not be much competition to the highest priced restaurant in your own town. Nevertheless the food is good and it’s clean. Swami wants people to stay (in). So as part of that program at eleven o'clock every day there is a talk to the foreigners with the hope that they were going to (attend) the talk instead of wandering out on the streets.

So they made a series of three lectures for me on those days and then the fourth one was to be a question and answer session. I gave the three lectures and then came the fourth one - the question and answer session. Swami incidentally was calling me in every morning. I was in six or seven times during the couple of weeks that I was there. He would say, come in and then I go sit in the room with him and with the editor of the Sanathana Sarathi – Narasimhan. So Swami called me in this morning after I have given the question and answer session and He said Hislop, all you did was confuse the people [laughter].

Now, you know, the lecture hall is a long ways away from Swami's little room. You know where the Mandir is (where) Swami has a room. There is only one little tiny window way up on the wall and the door is always closed. And during the time that He is not upstairs privately He's having continual conferences with people about schools, about construction and so on in that little room. So that little room with its one little window, full of people, is a long ways away from the lecture hall. How did Swami know I (had) confused people? So I said Swami, how do you mean? He said, well, when people ask questions, you responded from a viewpoint with which they were not familiar. (And as) you had a certain understanding of something and from that you made their response but they didn't understand what you said. Then they would ask another question based on what they didn't understand and that created more and more confusion. He said that's not the medicine people need. Why don't you just tell them Swami's teachings? So um.. I figured that there He was in His room and yet He heard every word that I said in that lecture hall and He could see into the minds of the people – see - that they weren't understanding (some of) the answers I gave. There was confusion. So believe me, Swami is everyplace at all times.

Now the following day I had agreed to have a question and answer session with the Italians from Rome. (The) Italians - there are so many of them there and they don't seem to have much to do with each other (from) the various cities. Now the Rome group wanted me and I had forgotten the name of the leader. So I asked some other Italians. I said there was this meeting we were having and who should I speak to, to find out the exact time.

When they finally pointed out the person, they didn't have the slightest interest in coming to the meeting of the Roman group. So (they are) divided. I had this question and answer session with the Roman group and then Swami called me (in) again the next morning. And so I said, Swami did I do any better yesterday? And Swami said, yes, yes, Hislop you did better. You said Swami's teachings but there was that trouble of the language. Well, yes, Swami, none of the Italians spoke English. So [laughter] - so there was a translator. He said, yes, yes. He said then you didn't explain very well to that man who was confused about Jesus. So I said Swami I think his confusion arose from the previous day where he didn't understand what was said. But I thought he was finally satisfied. Now the Rome shed number thirteen where the Italians were, was three times as far away from Swami as the lecture hall. Moreover there is the big foreign cafeteria and the big multi-story residential place between Swami's room and the shed thirteen. Even by visual you can't see it. And yet there, He knew everything (that) went on - translator, fellow (who asked) about Jesus and so on.

So you can be sure that Swami is here in this very room at this very moment. He knows everything that you're thinking about - because, you are He. If you feel, He feels. If you think, He records the thought. He's you - inside of each one of us. And Swami says that our greatest sin is to deny that - not to realize that. And to instead let the mind get filled with thoughts of hatred and cravings, giving rise to all the trouble in the world.

0:33:10 - Advaita; Swami explaining His (paranormal) Knowing of Hislop’s Lectures


Now our first speaker brought up the topic of Advaita. He gave some comments and cited some instances of the Advaita philosophy. I think that we should have a fairly reasonable concept of what Advaita is all about because Swami, more and more, is making remarks based on the Advaita philosophy. In fact, he said in a couple of discourses that we should now study and learn something about Advaita. Now what is Advaita? Advaita is part of Vedanta. It's the Vedanta analysis of the human person just as a scientist in the laboratory dissects an insect or a plant or a tree or whatever he is studying in minute detail. If he is operating on an animal or a cadaver, for example, he tries to get inside into all the thousands of little nerves in the body and how they affect one another. It's a minute analysis of the subject under investigation. So in the Advaita philosophy then there is made such a minute analysis of the human person. Now you all heard about Maya and all sorts of things said about Maya. The whole thing as regards our life here in the world starts with - although they say starts with and then they say it's eternal - so therefore there is no beginning or no end - in the indivisible (divine - can't be divided) universal consciousness.

By the way, when I was talking to Swami - this will tell you the story - I finally said to Him, Swami, how is it that you know everything that I say and everything that was in the minds of the people in these meetings we had? How are you there? Are you there as Easwara? How are you there, Swami? How do you know that? This room has walls and only a window. You can't see through those walls. Who can see through those walls? How are you in that meeting, Swami? So He said Hislop, I was there as universal consciousness. He is universal consciousness - that consciousness which informs every thing of creation.

Even sticks and stones have that consciousness. You remember this story of - if you happen to read in the book - the story of the Saris in Bombay where the Saris started to weep and cry and the box was all wet from their tears because Swami rejected them and sent them back to the merchant. He wouldn't take them to use as gifts for the ladies He wanted to make gifts to. So even the granite, the stone has consciousness although it can't speak.

In fact, Swami says that this process of evolution which has the present result on all we human beings sitting together in this room starts with the granite and then for that consciousness - that consciousness is locked up in the granite - then that consciousness makes a quantum leap - not a(n) incremental advance, but a quantum leap from the granite to the vegetable - vegetation. After all the stone crumbles and makes soil and the minerals and the vegetation uses that for its growth. So the consciousness makes a quantum leap and becomes the consciousness of the vegetable. Then the vegetation is eaten by animals. They survive on the vegetation and consciousness then makes another quantum leap from the vegetable to be animal. And then we humans eat animals. Animals become part of our flesh and blood - part of the mind even.

In fact, Swami says that this tremendous expansion of population in the world which is giving headaches and heartaches to so many countries trying to figure out how to deal with it - comes largely because of the worldwide custom of eating animals. All over the world we eat animals, eat animals (and) eat animals. And these animals then come into the human birth - more and more and more and more human beings. So from the animal then there is again a quantum leap into mankind. And in mankind then awareness - very acute awareness arises. We are aware of ourselves. We are aware that we are alive and therefore can start to think about our lives and try to distinguish the false from the true.

The animal, Swami says, is alive but it doesn't know that it's alive. It lives but doesn't know it's alive and therefore can't make inquiry. Whereas we know we are alive and then can start the process of inquiry. Then the next step in evolution is from human to superhuman and from superhuman to the spiritual and from the spiritual to the divine. So I asked Swami, well Swami ... stone, vegetation, animal, man - we can all see, we all know but how about this next step - the superhuman? Who is superhuman? We don't see a superhuman. Are (those the) people, Swami, up in the Himalayas mountains who can walk on water and walk through a mountain and levitate themselves and fly away to other planetary systems and so on. Swami says, no, no. Those are just people trying to get liberated. They're not superhumans. They are just human beings trying to get liberated.

0:40:59 - Swami on Liberated People in Today’s Age – Now


Well, Swami who is superhuman? He said, superhuman people are like - then he named several of the ancient saints - Vasishta and so on. He said those people have completely finished with human life. They don't have any desires or any cravings or any fears - don't have any of those aspects of human life which causes us to engage in actions which then creates our human world. They are quite separate (from) all those aspects of craving, fear, hatred and so on. They've totally finished with human concerns and any action that they engage in is for the benefit of humanity Those are the superhumans - that's the superhuman stage.

So I said (well) Swami, all the ones you mentioned lived thousands of years ago. How about now? (So He says), Oh yes, yes, there are many now. Swami, where are they? I don't see them. He said, Oh! They are very careful to keep a low profile. They just live quietly - nobody knows. I had asked Him before if there were liberated people today. He said, Oh Yes. And again, where are they, Swami? Well, mostly they are in the foothills of the Himalayas and if you happen to come upon one he will just turn and walk away - won't even talk to you. Then I said, well, how about the West, Swami, in the West? Oh yes! There are liberated people in the West. And again, He said they keep a very, very low profile and you don't know that they are there. So maybe amongst us here, we have some superhumans and some liberated people. Possible? We wouldn't know. Only they know.

0:43:05 - Swami’s Advaita Teachings


So, (then) how does all this business of evolution coming up to the human and beyond the human - this is all part of Advaita - how does that start? In the indivisible divine, the universal consciousness, Maya arises without motivation, without incentive. Swami says, just like a bubble of air rising from the mud at the bottom of the lake, then coming to the surface and bursting on the surface. Just like any fire - sparks fly out of the fire. Now the sparks are not different from the fire - they are part of the fire and yet they spring away from the fire and have a separate existence.

In that same way, in the universal consciousness, in the indivisible absolute, Maya arises and Maya then manifests itself as mind. Maya manifests as mind and as soon as mind is manifest then all the tendencies which lie at the root of the mind start to flower and grow and then manifest as the external universe. So the mind creates the external universe. Now as Adi Shankara - you all are (familiar with the name) Adi Shankara? - the great Indian philosopher of the early Middle Ages who was fully liberated at the age of about five or six and then walked throughout India teaching. And he's the one who from the Vedas codified the Advaita philosophy. We can all see that what he says is true and Swami has repeated the same.

You know, Swami says, I do not teach other than what has been taught for ages past. So he points out that in our lives right now or anytime, the only thing that we experience directly, you know - direct experience, not second-hand not implied. See, directly I touch this and move the (cup) - that's direct - nothing in between. The only thing in all of our existence that we experience in that way directly, without something else being in between, is our thoughts. Our thoughts - we experience directly. That's the only thing we experience directly. Therefore everything else that we experience is the result of thought. Thought then manifests as all the objects of the world. Now they point out (so) that we can quite easily understand that even though when it is said, as I have said, it seems strange, odd and unbelievable. Yet, if we will think of our dream - we go to sleep and this material world, this solid material world which we have to be so careful (in), otherwise we injure ourselves and injure others and so on - this solid material world doesn't exist for us in the dream. It's completely disappeared. (It’s) gone in the dream world and yet in that dream world there manifests a universe just as solid and as real to us as this one is now. Isn't that true?

And yet every aspect of that dream world comes from our mind. We are dreaming and that dream world is formed out of mind stuff - just ourselves dreaming. And out of the mind dreaming is formed that entire world - the buildings, the animals, the people. If we meet with our grandfather - (even) somebody who was born before us - we look at the building which was built (a) thousand years ago in a fantasy - whole world made just out of the mind stuff which we accept as being real. So much so that if we have a dream hunger, what will satisfy the dream hunger? Only a dream meal. If we have a dream illness how can we get cured? Only through a dream doctor. And what can we do to help the dreamer? Nothing.

Just imagine a small little child in bed with mother and father. And the little child is having a terrible dream. It's being beaten or suffering terribly. Now, no matter how much the child is suffering, who can help it? Can mother and father help it? They don't even know. But if the little child would just wake up then all this suffering would immediately disappear. So therefore just as in the dream world, something may occur to wake us up from the dream - perhaps there was a little child, the mother turns it over or something or maybe (we’re in) someplace and a lion gives a roar and that wakens us - wakens us out of the dream and we are free from all the suffering and misery in that dream. Why? Because we've been wakened from the dream. We're no longer caught up in the dream.

Now in the same way, Swami tells us, directly, as do the ancient saints and sages that, when we have experienced self-realization or enlightenment, from that stage of enlightenment or self-realization, from that stage this world, this waking world is just as much a dream as is the dream world to us from a standpoint of (the) waking world. Just as much a dream! So I said to Swami, Swami this, you say, this waking world that (we're in) right now - I'm sitting here talking to you Swami, and you tell me that this waking world has no reality - is just a myth, a dream. But then Swami I see you in this myth, in this dream working day and night. That sounds sort-of odd Swami. How can that be? If it's useless, just a dream, what are you doing here working so hard in this dream? You understand the question? Swami said (that) I come into the dream just with the hope that I can awaken you. So the Lord Easwara, the universal consciousness takes the form of Swami in this waking dream. And what is His purpose? His purpose is to awaken us from the dream of misery and despair and trouble that we experience in this world.

You see, why do we have this longing for eternal life? Why do we come here? Because life is intolerable and because it is not our natural state. Were it our natural state then we wouldn't have the desire to change - to be something else. So we become interested in spiritual life because to us we've reached the point where life is intolerable. Otherwise why do you drive 16, 18, 20 hours to come to this meeting? If you're so happy and satisfied, why wouldn't you stay home and look at the TV and go to a baseball game or something? Or just go and have a good meal? Why? Because it's intolerable to you, that's why. You know that you're suffering and you want to wake up. (And) here comes Swami, the Lord of creation, the Lord of all - here only to wake us up. Now we should understand from the Advaita - Am I boring you with Advaita? Sure? Okay. Alright.

See how is it that if we are now liberated - (and we are) Swami and all the great sages say that you can't - liberation for us is not something that is new, that can be achieved. Because liberation is the eternal state and being eternal, it must already be here. You follow me? Since universal life, universal consciousness is eternal - never beginning, never ending then it must already be here. Liberation must already be here at this very moment; doesn't have to be achieved. Swami specifically tells us, that the difference between bondage and liberation - as being bound (and) not being bound, being liberated, free - that there is no difference between those two. There is no essential difference between the state of bondage and the state of liberation - no essential difference. Because the state of bondage is simply a mental idea in our mind.

We consider ourselves as these miserable small human beings (heir) to all the (ills) of the world and refuse to consider ourselves as being the eternal absolute. We choose to do that. And, how do we make that terrible mistake? How do we make the terrible mistake? (Us) being free, being liberated this very moment and yet thinking that we are bound and coming all these miles to try and find out how to get liberated. How do we make that mistake? Well, the science of Advaita then looks very carefully into such things and makes the analysis, tries to see the truth of the matter.

Now we make the mistake because we take appearance for reality. We take that which is not true as being real. Now for example, (it) doesn't happen so much here in America because the snakes come out only in a certain season. But in India a person walking at dusk - this is one of the favorite illustrations used by the sages - so we use the same one. At dusk a person is walking on a path and he sees before him a coiled snake and hesitates and reacts. Maybe engages in some action like running away. Who knows what actually (he) may engage in? And then it’s found that that is just a coiled rope. Not a snake at all. So what is the situation there? The situation there is that there was ignorance of the rope. (You see.) We were ignorant. We didn't know it was a rope and our imagination, our mind conceived the thought that it was a snake and therefore superimposed the form of snake on that inert piece a rope.

So how is that illusion done away with? It’s done away with by inquiry. (You see.) That once you inquire into the matter then you can't help but find out that (it) is either a snake or a rope. You can't help (but) find out it is a rope, once you inquire. So therefore Swami says that meditation is not enough. There must also be inquiry. All the sages say the same. Now the illustration of the snake then is carried to every aspect of the world and every aspect of our lives. We are acting in ignorance of our true nature and we're only going to find out what is the truth beneath that ignorance, by inquiry. And by inquiry we must challenge what we now think to be true, to find out if in fact it is true.

Now where we, according to Advaita, where we get confused and carried away is in our failure to understand the role of the senses and the sense organs. The mind which is Maya manifest gets bound by the sensory organs. So Advaita tells us, and Swami has said on numerous occasions, the ceiling on desires is a very easy, primary way of saying it to people just to introduce them to the idea. But he says that the way to get free of that (ignorance) is to explore the fact of sensory experience. That is too see (the) defects of that which we acquire in the world in order to satisfy our sensory craving. Almost any object that we acquire will in time change and will become not a source of pleasure but a source of pain. (Now the) bottle which goes pleasure in drinking if continued, results in drunkenness. The young lady sees her hero and they are married. In a few years time he becomes a jerk, not a hero and divorce sets in. The beautiful car, the first time the clutch goes, it loses all its beauty. So if we will examine the objects of the world and see that the pleasure that they provide us really is very temporary and in fact will lead to various (kinds of) unhappiness and sufferings in our lives then as we see that we can become detached from that process. And detachment is essential because only if we are detached can we observe correctly.

1:01:43 - Advaita Summarized; Practical Application of Advaita


Bill what time is it? Twenty five minutes left. Alright I think we'll stop the lecture on Advaita now and we should now have some questions. So let me just summarize Advaita then. In terms of the practical application of Advaita you have to ask yourself, is my conviction that I am a separate individual person living in this world under adverse circumstances - is that true? You have to challenge that concept.

Swami - remember what Swami says - that that is not true, that you are in fact God, that you are all beauty, all glory, all magnificence. He says that when you realize and see your own beauty then you are free and realized because nothing else can compare to the beauty and the glory of you the divine, the divine person. And the way to achieve that divinity is to just deny, flatly deny the validity of other ideas which have been propagated and put in your mind by other people - starting when you were born - by your parents, by the newspapers, by the magazines, by schooling. It's been pounded into us from the earliest days that we are limited individuals. Swami says, absolutely not true. We are the unlimited universal consciousness and therefore if we realize that, (then) even though the events of the physical world continue as it did before due to karma, (yet) they do not affect us because we are detached. We take the position of the witness, the divine witness, seeing all the play of the world before us.

Swami says that we should think of ourselves and see ourselves as actors in a play playing a part but on our way home to God. That is how we should see - should see ourselves and that will occur only if we take such statements seriously and start to examine to see whether or not all the things we spend our life desiring and acquiring, if they really give the satisfaction that we think they do at first. They don't. Therefore become detached, start to make inquiry, take the position that you are God. You are divine. You are magnificent. You are the glory of the whole universe. Swami says that the person of Himself, the person of Swami is just an infinitesimal part of the glory of God and that we are that full glory. So deny that we can be described as persons. Deny that our life is circumscribed by the things that happen to us. Deny that the thoughts that we think are genuine. The only thing genuine in the whole process is this I - this feeling of I -which continues unchanged in the waking state, in the dream state and in the deep sleep state. That's which continues. That I which continues - that is what we should look at. They tell us to say I am Brahma. Thath Thwam Asi. That am I.

But the I is there. So why should we say I am that. I am Brahma. But I is already Brahma. So look to that in one's life which is permanent, which is always there, daytime, sleeping time or whatever and give attention to that I.

Follow that I to its source where it arises and this whole myth explodes. And then we can, according to Swami, we can then use all the objects of the world to their best advantage. We don't have to give up the objects - the cars, the houses and so forth and so on. What we have to give up - if we wish to realize what we really are - what we have to give up is our attachment to those, our attachment to them - not the things themselves. Detachment really means giving the best (use) to every object in the world - making the best use of every object in the world, not to give it up and go away from it. But to free ourselves from the attachment to it and then use it, enjoy it, make proper use of it. It won't harm us at all. So that is an overall view of Advaita and now we should have questions. Questions are much more important than anything that I can say because what I say often goes in one ear and out the other and I don't explain well enough or (delightfully) enough. But you have questions. Those are the important things.

1:07:13 - Question and Answer Session; How do you know when you are doing it right?


Audience Member: How do you know when you are doing it right?

Hislop: You know when you consult your conscience. .. Swami says that the conscience is God in every person. Now normally we don't consult our conscience. We consult what other people say is right. What society says is right. Or our parents say is right. Or our wife or husband says is right. We don't turn inward and consult our conscience. If we put all other things aside and ask our conscience it will tell us, if we are right or wrong. Next question.

1:07:51 - Isn’t the Process of Inquiry Itself an Illusion?


Audience Member: I don't know if you will answer this here but since inquiry is a process coming out of the activity of the mind isn't inquiry itself an illusion?

Hislop: Yes of course it is. You see, just as the illusion of sickness in a dream has to be cured by a dream doctor likewise the illusion of being bound in this waking dream world has to be cured by the illusion of the master's teaching. Next one - yes sir?

1:08:33 - How to differentiate between conscience and mental chat?


Audience Member: What is the best way to understand when we are inquiring on something and it is actually coming from the conscience as opposed to mental chat? Question is, how can we distinguish between the conscience and what the mind tells us.

Hislop: Practice. You see. So far we don't consult our conscience. What we should do, is to sit quietly - now Swami gives an example - He says that if you have a question that you don't really know the answer to and you read Swami and still don't know the answer then you can ask Him directly in this way. Sit quietly for about 20 minutes and think only of Swami as being in the heart - as being your reality. Think of Him. See His form. See His face. Remember His sayings. Every time the mind starts to wander away bring it back immediately to thinking about Swami in one way or another. Then after 20 minutes of that concentrated fully on Swami, ask the question. And within a short time your mind will be clear and you will know what the answer to the question is. How about the ladies side? Alright.

1:09:59 - Following the I to the Source Becomes a Burden. How to rid oneself from this burden?


Audience Member: (We have to) follow the I to the source and (when) we do this for some distance (we are aware), still under duality, (from) I moving to the source,  after some time (this) becomes a very heavy burden.  And we realize that we still can't make it all the way (or we have not made it all the way). (How) do you (rid) yourself of this burden? It seems to me that there is some other kind of quantum leap (that we would need to have).

Hislop:  The lady says that trying to find the source of the I becomes a task, a burden. You see it isn't that you try to find in words or in concepts the source for the I. It is just that you give your attention to your feeling of beingness. Now you see, nobody, nobody has to tell you that you're alive. You won't even have to look in the mirror to know that you're alive, that you exist. Okay. You know you exist, (see.) So to trace down the I simply means to stay with that feeling that primeval feeling of beingness – deep, just follow deep into yourself. You will find, if you do that, that you come to an area of quietness where you as the questioner don't even exist - just a vast endless area of quietness and peace. (It is) just like, if you want to know that you are God then you must concentrate on that idea and you will transform yourself into God because you are already God. In following the I to find its source you are that source. You're simply finding, giving room for that which you are, to come forth and make itself known. Try that. Next question, ladies side.

1:12:32 - If We Think Ourselves as God, Won’t We Have a Big Ego?


Audience Member: If we all work with that idea that we are all God - We have the idea (we are God) - yes. If we think ourselves as God (then) won't shall we (walk) with a big ego.

Hislop:  Yes, she says that if we have a feeling now that we are God and now we declare that we are God - isn't that going to be a big ego? A tremendous ego, in fact. [Laughter.] Yes, I would think there would be that danger [laughter]. But you see, to get to a new land you must pass through dangers, dangerous travel. Swami will protect you. He says that I will be with you all the way. I will protect you. Turn to me, give your life to me and I will save you. Nothing will happen to you. So any of these exercises or inquires that you make, dedicate the inquiry to the Lord and hold His hand while you are making them. Keep Him by your side. Then no problem will arise. (Another) question?

1:13:51 - Why does Baba Materialize Objects and Vibhuti before the Public?


Audience Member: I have never heard Rama and Krishna (or for that matter) Jesus or Mohammad materializing objects. How is it (that) Baba chose (to do) a lot of materializing of objects and vibhuti before the public?

Hislop: He doesn't know that Krishna materialized objects or that Jesus did. So how come Swami materializes objects? Is there a significance of doing that? Ya. It is very significant in that state. See, all we know about Swami producing objects is that He says it's part of His nature. Now yogis - I have been in Burma and India (so long) - I know yogis both in Burma and India who can produce objects just like Swami does. But now for example, ex-governor of Goa, Nakul Sen, told me that there was a fellow who belonged to the court circle there and he would always have him in when there were guests. This fellow could stand in a circle of maybe 25 people and he could create 25 different objects - each object being exactly what the person wanted. See. But said Nakul Sen, he could do that only after praying to the Goddess Durga - only after paying to Durga. Now other yogis engage in yogic exercises to develop those psychic powers but Swami says that with Him, it's natural. There's no necessity to practice. He says that He walks along and the idea occurs to Him that He would like to give this lady a japamala. As soon as the idea occurs, there's the japamala. (He) attaches no importance to it. That is no sign of divinity. It is duplicated in many parts of the world. No sign of divinity. It's just to please to devotee and make the devotee happy. So the devotee will perhaps listen to Swami and do what Swami really wants a devotee to do [laughter]. Next question.

1:16:14 - Where do human values fit into the context of I-ness being the only genuine thing?


Audience Member: Where does the human values fit into the context that the only thing that's genuine is the sense of I-ness that's there?

Hislop: Yes, the question is, where does human values fit in to (the) sense of I-ness. You see, Swami says that in regards to our Sai organization, there are two things to keep in mind. One is not to get involved in money, don't get involved with government, don't get involved with power. That's one thing. The second thing is to do only that which is within your capacity to do. (You have a) limited capacity as a human person. Only do that which is within your capacity to do. And He said, rely on your self - the Atma doesn't need any help. Alright Then He said that the purpose of the Sai organization is so that its members may live an ideal joyful, happy life. And therefore we should give careful attention to the ideals of the Sai organization so that we can live ideal lives which will serve as an example to others and therefore help them to also live ideal human lives.

Now in regards to Seva - the primary Seva is: do not harm another. That's the basis of Seva. You may think that's a silly, small statement that has no power at all - just think, at this moment and every moment of the day, are there not screams of agony rising to the sky all over the world for what ill one person is doing to another? Screams of agony (from) all over the world. Suppose that today that one small silly little statement - don't harm another - were adopted. Would it not be a new world tomorrow? What a change, worldwide change with just that one small thing? So first, work no harm upon others then if you conceive of the fact that Swami is not only in your heart, He is a reality of every person that you see then if you see someone in distress and it is within your capacity to help, why not help? How can you not help? You are serving Swami. Swami says I don't need your help with the world. God made the world. He is perfectly competent to look after the world. He says that when you do Seva, do it to God - to God within that person - every person - the only reality (is) that person is God.

Therefore do Seva to God. You can't go up in His room at the Mandir and massage His feet and prepare His meals. You can't serve God that way. But you can serve God in another person. Now I think it is time for lunch.

Bill Harvey: You've got about five more minutes. I was just going to make sure that you defined Seva. So that people realize. Some people know that's a Sanskrit term for service - community service. He's got into the habit of saying Seva. But its service that he's talking about. Go ahead (Bob).

1:20:27 - Swami saving Hislop and Others from Head-On Collision in Bangalore


Audience Member: When Swami saved your life in the car He said that Hislop it took me longer to come to you because you weren't calling for me. And how is it in terms of this illusion and free will and all the (unknown future .. type-of-thing)?

Hislop: You see, what He said was that you were so shocked - I don't you know whether you know the story of the car or not. Very briefly - we're coming back from Brindavan to the hotel in the city and there were six people (in the) car: myself, my wife, New Yorker and his wife and the daughter - they had come from New York to rescue the daughter from hippie community in India and take her back home. So they asked (the) ride in our taxi back to the town So six (were) in the car. Now the taxi driver's in a hurry always and so he came up behind a bus and looked, peeked you know, to pass on the right hand side - peeked around. (He saw a light and) figured (it) was a stationary light and so he pulled around and stepped on the throttle. You know what happens when you step on the throttle of an Indian car. Nothing much happened. [Laughter] [You have] a lot of experience - I see. Right. So we start to pull around besides the bus. Then it was evident that he had made a terrible mistake; that that was not a stationary light. It was a light of a vehicle moving at a fast rate of speed.

Now when you are faced with a head-on collision, one car will (at least) take to the ditch because it'll be less dangerous than this head-on collision. But that couldn't happen. On our left side was a bus. On our right side was the high row of (road) repairing material. No way to get off the road to the left or the right - inevitable collision. So we, you know, shut our eyes like that. You're dead, we're dead. But then nothing happened. So we opened our eyes [laughter] - we opened our eyes and there we were going around the front of the bus. We looked quickly behind us to the windshield and there were the lights of the other car receding behind us. So when we saw Swami (on) the next morning I threw myself at His feet (and) said Lord, you saved (our) life last night. He said yes, yes, yes. That was, that was very funny wasn't it? [Laughter] Then He said you were so shocked, you even forgot to call on Swami. But Swami saved you anyway. Then He turned to a group of Telugu people sitting along the wall (of the verandah) and in Telugu, told them the whole story.

Audience Member: Was the driver conscious of that experience afterwards?

Hislop: Oh yes, he couldn't figure it out - we asked him. Taxi driver - a taxi driver usually can answer any question. But he couldn't figure it out (though). He couldn't explain it. One more (question)? Okay.

1:23:39 - Do We Need God’s Grace for Liberation?


Audience Member: (Last time you made the) statement (that) we cannot receive liberation without God's Grace. Does that mean that God's Grace from within us is going to (extend) and give us liberation? Or are we looking to Swami, to say one day in words, you are liberated?

Hislop: Yes, the statement is that Swami has said that now you are entangled in all this (mess) you created for yourself. You know like (Hardy) and his old pal what a mess. And He says but Swami will save you. Only Swami's Grace will save you. Now what He means there is the same thing He said that there is the Atma; there is the spiritual teaching; there is the longing for enlightenment. But yet a teacher must come to convey that sacred information to you, (teach it) to you (see.) That, that's the sense of Grace. That is, otherwise it wouldn't occur to us. The perfect illustration I think is a child (at) the seashore when the waves break. There are bubbles and these bubbles reflect the Sun and are beautiful, very colored bubbles - the child runs down and picks up a handful of bubbles and comes to father and says, Daddy, I want to take this home with me and the father says yes son, I know but I have to tell you that's just water and in a moment it'll be gone. Now that would never have occurred to the child (you see), by himself. The guru had to come and convey the teaching to him. So in that case the father was the guru. In the same way, Swami's Grace is bringing us this teaching that we read every day in His discourses. In that way (it is) His Grace, otherwise it wouldn't occur to us. We would, like the people in the Mid-East (Middle East?) - what thoughts­ do they have of liberation? All they can worry about is how to dodge the next bomb - (you see.) Okay. I think (that will be it). Okay. Sairam! Thank you very much.

---- End of Talk ----
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Readers may want to see my related blog post, Sathya Sai Gurupurnima 1979 discourse giving high level explanation of reality; Brahman, Sath-Chith-Aanandha, Maya, Ishwara, jeeva, prakriti etc., http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2017/03/sathya-sai-gurupurnima-1979-discourse.html, dated March 20th 2017.