Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Awesome and Very Inspiring Christian Songs - Not by power, God is Able, and more by Ron Kenoly

I found this Christian worship songs video to be awesome and very inspiring, RON KENOLY - GOD IS ABLE FULL CONCERT, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VduWq4OCXU, 1 hr. 27 min. 08 secs.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Is_Able_(Ron_Kenoly_album):

"God Is Able is the Christian worship music album recorded by Ron Kenoly and was recorded live at the Atlanta Civic Center in Atlanta and was released in 1994 by Integrity/Hosanna! Music/Sparrow Records."

Ravi: The youtube video seems to be this Atlanta Civic Center live recording and so is around two decades old. The wiki page also has list of songs in the recording.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Kenoly: Ron Kenoly (born December 6, 1944) is an American Christian worship leader, singer, and songwriter whose expressed mission is "to create an environment for the manifest presence of God". His musical style is one of jubilant praise and individual excellence on musical instruments. Although Kenoly himself only plays on one of his recordings, he leads comfortably with his voice and is always backed up by musicians and a large choir.

--- end wiki extract ---

I left the following short comment on the youtube page: "Awesome and Very Inspiring. Hallelujah! Praise The Lord!"

I found Kenoly, as shown in the video, to be very inspiring as a worship leader & singer. His depth of devotion seems palpable and he really took the crowd along with him on his devotional song journey. A masterful demonstration of the power of a gifted worship singer to shower the devotional experience on his audience, at least those who are in tune to receive such devotional experiences.

His wiki page further states:

He began working in full-time ministry in 1985. He started out as a worship leader at Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, California. Not long after that, in 1987, he was ordained and installed as Music Pastor. As worship leader, his sole focus was leading worship service. When he became Music Pastor, he became the shepherd over the entire music department at Jubilee Christian Center. In 1993, after the success of 2 Integrity recordings, he started receiving invitations from all over the world. Churches not only wanted him to come lead praise and worship, but also to help them develop their music departments. So shortly afterwards, he was named Ambassador of Music at Jubilee Christian Center. He was sent out from the church as an ambassador to the world to help churches develop and find the balance between worship and the Word. In 1996, he received his Doctorate in Ministry of Sacred Music. In 1999, he felt the call to move from California to the East Coast. So, he relocated the ministry to Central Florida where he continues to travel, speak, sing and teach and record. He sings over all the world. Kenoly has also written a few books, one of them written with his pastor, Dick Bernal.

--- end extract ---

What a great service this man has been doing for the Christian faith! 'Music Pastor' - that was a new term for me. Very interesting! Nothing like song & music to give masses of people the devotional experience. I also found it quite fascinating that he was sent as an ambassador to churches worldwide to "find the balance between worship and the Word". Music & song alone OR sermons + prayer alone does not seem to have the capacity to draw and sustain congregations whether it is Christianity or Hinduism (the two religions that I am somewhat familiar with). What is needed is the right combination of the two, and the proportions of this right combination may vary from congregation to congregation.

I have captured lyrics and notes related to three of the songs in this video which touched me quite deeply, below (for one additional song I have provided an external lyrics link):

1)Around 2 min, 45 secs: Song: Everybody put your hands together and let's praise the Lord. [Ravi: Simple but melodious song which I felt was very nice.] External lyrics link: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/r/ron_kenoly/put_your_hands_together.html

["Sophisticated hand-clappers" show their skills around 06 min 17 secs.]

2) Around 26 min 05 secs: Not by power, not by might, But by My Spirit says the Lord [Ravi: I love the words of this song.]

Words of the song (contributed by a correspondent, plus some editing from my side):

Not by power
Not by might
But by My Spirit
Says the Lord

Not by power
Not by might
But by My Spirit
Says the Lord

The weapons of our warfare
Are not of this world
They are mighty through God
Mighty through God

The power of His mercy
And the power of His love
They are stronger than all
Stronger than all
As we worship in unity
Jesus the Lord
Victory comes in His name
By His Word

... repeat ...

Not by power
Not by might
...

By My Spirit says the Lord
By My Spirit says the Lord
By My Spirit says the Lord

3) Around 36 min 16 secs: Ron Kenoly sings:

He has given me a song to sing when troubles come
He has given me a song to sing ...
He has given me a song to sing when the enemy comes against me
He has given me a song
A song of victory
A song of praise
A song of overcoming
      Hallelujah!
A song of libera .. tion

Ron Keoly speaks:
... Tells of his growing up in his family in Coffeyville, Kansas .. poor family, five brothers, mother was a single parent ... non-resident father ... faced difficult times ... his mother always had a song .... church songs .. all of the family would sit in a row at Union Baptist Church and sing the church songs ... sometimes situation would be difficult like house (rent) not being paid, (no) food in house, things like that. But she could always come up with a song:

I sing because I am happy
I sing
I sing because I am free
for His eye, His eye is on the sparrow
Oh and I know.
Yes I know
No matter what the bankbook might say, I know
Oh I know
No matter what people say about me, I know
No matter how hard the devil tries to (knock) me down, I know
I know, I know
I know, I know
I know, I know
I know, I know
Yes.. He's watching over me


Sing unto the Lord
Make a joyful sound
Lift your voices
And let your praise resound
Sing a victory song
In the time of war
Trust in Jesus
The battle is the Lord´s

... last stanza repeated many times ...


4) Around 45 min 05 secs: God is Able [Ravi: This is the title song of the recording. The words, the music and the lead & group singing are awesome!]

God is able
God is able
God is able
To do what
He said He would do

God is able
God is able
Yes He is
God is able
God is able
God is able
(To) do what
He said He would do

I think about Daniel
In the lion's den
It didn't look too good
But Daniel put his trust in Him
Shadrach Meshach and Abednego
When the flames grew hot
 Chorus: they grew hot
They just put their
Trust in God
And He would not
Let'em go

God is able
God is able
My God is able
God is able
Yes He is able
God is able
He can do what
He said He would do

My God is able
God is able
Yes He is
God is able
God is able
God is able
He can do what
He said He would do

I think about Israel
And the Exodus
Pharaoh sent his men
But God showed His faithfulness
So if you think you're in a
Trial by fire
When the flames grow hot
  Chorus: they grow hot
You just put your trust in God
And He'll never let you go

God is able
God is able
My God is able
God is able
He is able
God is able
He can do what
He said He would do

My God is able
God is able
You want to try Him
God is able
Because He is able
God is able
He can do what
He said He would do

He can lift you up
When trials come your way
He can give you peace
Down in your soul
He is always true
He'll be there for you
Will you believe Him
Will you receive Him

God is able
God is able
God is able
God is able
You want to try Him
God is able
Cause He can do what
He said He would do

God is able
God is able
He is able
God is able
My God is able
God is able
He can do what
He said He would do

... God is able lines of above para repeated a few times with slight variations ...

[Around 49 min 10 sec, The Rap version]

God is able
I can testify
If you call on Him
He won't be denied

His ear is not deaf
And His arm is not short
He'll give you what you need
So why don't you get smart

Put your trust in Him
He can make a way
He will walk right beside you each and every day
He will put money in your pocket and food on your table
I am telling you what I know

God is Able

Our God is Able and His love never fails
There is no end to His favour
Our God is Able and His mercy prevails
His love and kindness last forever

He's healed our bodies he's restoring our souls
He's put His righteousness within us
We got the power of the Holy Ghost
We've got the mighty name of Jesus

No eye can see
No ear has heard
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared for those who love Him
No eye can see
No ear has heard
What God has in store for us

No eye can see
No ear has heard
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared for those who love Him
No eye can see
No ear has heard
What God has in store for us

Our God is Able and His love never fails
There is no end to His favour
Our God is Able and His mercy prevails
His love and kindness last forever

He's healed our bodies he's restoring our souls
He's put His righteousness within us
We got the power of the Holy Ghost
We got the mighty name of Jesus

No eye can see
No ear has heard
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared for those who love Him
No eye can see
No ear has heard
What God has in store for us

No No No No No No No
No eye can see
No ear has heard
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared for those who love Him
No eye can see
No ear has heard
What God has in store for us

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A more nuanced view on medium messages related to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

An email response from a correspondent to the contents of a previous blogpost, Claimed paranormal connections via mediums to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba; Splinter devotee groups, was about how he had a pleasant and unpleasant experience with a 'postman' job of delivering a real-life Swami message to another person. That led me to do some more thinking on medium messages and arrive at a more nuanced view on medium messages related to Swami, as given below.

What would I do if I received a message from Swami in a dream to be passed on to somebody (known to me)?

Hmm. I would be in quite a dilemma as it has never happened to me so far and I hope and pray that I never land into such a dilemma in future :). I think I may be very frank with the intended recipient and tell him/her that I simply don't know why I got the message in a dream, and that I felt it is my duty to pass on the message. He/she is free to consider the message seriously or to reject it completely. I will also mention that Sai organization leaders have provided many quotations from Swami discourses where Swami strongly discourages giving importance to such messages delivered via others (as against Swami directly giving the message to the person in a dream or vision). But even if one does it in such a careful way, if the message is a very sensitive one (e.g. related to sensitive family issues or critical job issues) the recipient may treat it as an unwelcome interference in his/her personal affairs. I think the Muddenahalli (and Kodaikanal) medium(s) may be facing similar challenges when delivering supposed Swami messages to devotees. Being such a medium must be involving a lot of mental strain not only on the medium but also on his family and close friends, I guess.


What would I do if I received such a message from another person like a medium/intermediary?

Once again, it will be a dilemma, at least for the first such message. I think if the medium/intermediary is somebody who I know and respect I will carefully listen to/read the message, and thank him/her for it, though I will also say to him/her that I need to contemplate on the message. Later I would try to connect to the inner Swami/conscience and try to get some inner guidance/comfort level on the message. Depending on that inner connection/inner voice outcome I will either act in accordance with the message or not act on it.

In this context I should also mention that sometimes the medium/intermediary may pass on some information which is known only to oneself and persons very close to one, who the medium/intermediary does not have access to. That may make the recipient believe in the medium's divine powers. I believe that some mediums/intermediaries acquire some such powers like being able to tap into one's past (similar to Naadi reading) but that may be only a limited power and should not lead one to believe that the medium/intermediary has (directly/indirectly) infallible mystic power. For example, my experience in my Naadi reading, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadi_astrology, sometime in 1993-94 if I recall correctly, was that the reader was very mystifyingly accurate in his account of my past. I could not sleep properly for the next few nights as I was stunned that somebody was able to read out/interpret from palm leaf records (claimed to have been made by Saga Agasthya, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agastya, in this case), such intimate details of my past. But some of the specific predictions made for my future did not happen - these were clear and unambiguous failures of the Naadi reader predictions. However, his general sense of how my future would play out, especially on the spiritual side of my life, has been quite correct, so far. [The Naadi readers claimed that they were from the famed for Naadi reading Vaitheeswaran Koil (temple) in Tamil Nadu, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaitheeswaran_Koil, and they had come along with a set of Naadis from Vaitheeswaran temple to Navi Mumbai, where I met them, on a (commercial, I presume) visit.]


But what about the fear factor in not obeying the instructions/advice passed on by the medium?

This fear factor may be a critical one for many devotees who get such messages. Well, my view is that Swami is famous for his saying, Why Fear When I am Here. Swami is also famous for his AbhayaHasta (don't fear) gesture, http://www.saibabaofindia.com/june2011/mother-ma-sri-sathya-sai-baba-blessings-abhya-hasta-mudra.jpg. And Swami has said so many times that he is in the depth of our hearts. So one can pray deeply to Swami in our hearts (inner Swami) asking for directions on the message passed on by the medium as well as courage. If the inner Swami/inner voice/conscience does not give any indication towards accepting the message then one can ignore the message and also pray to inner Swami for protection. That, IMHO, should take care of the fear factor involved, for most persons if not all persons, when ignoring advice/instructions passed on by a medium.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Transcript of short and wonderful Ramana Maharshi Youtube video about his saintly life and self-inquiry teaching

The video mentioned below has great pictures and video clippings of Ramana Maharshi, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramana_Maharshi, and is very much worth seeing if you have not seen such material earlier. Ramana Maharshi is one of my favourite 20th century Indian spiritual teachers and saints and his teachings as well as his life story have been a very important source of spiritual inspiration for me.

Towards the end of the video the commentator talks about Ramana Maharshi's emphasis on the path of self-inquiry. I have been blessed and privileged to hear Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba talk about the same self-inquiry on quite a few occasions in Sai Kulwanth Hall (Puttaparthi main darshan hall). Sathya Sai Baba would say Koham (who am I); Soham (I am He), and would follow it up with I am I (Nenu Nene in Telugu). Sathya Sai Baba's I am I seems to me to be equivalent to the I-I referred by Ramana Maharshi as narrated by the commentator.

Transcript of youtube video, "Ramana Maharshi Rare 1946 Documentary Footage Ramaji Satsang Enlightenment Meditation Advaita", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYztHXDngoI, 6 min. 37 sec., published on Sep. 17th 2012, is given below (the transcript has also been put up as a comment in the same youtube video page):

[Video shows Tuesday, September 1, 1946]

The ashram of Saint Ramana of Arunachala drew crowds of devotees on September the 1st to mark the completion of 50 years since Ramana first set foot on the sacred soil of this historic mountain shrine. From far and near they flocked for darshan of the holy saint who by the severest austerities and profound contemplation has attained spiritual wisdom and serenity unique in the country. Thousands draw comfort from his mere presence for he neither preaches nor (blames?) setting at ease all who come, by the essential goodness he radiates to all around. A good man in a troubled world.
...
[Around 0:52]
He adhered to a punctual routine which included going out for a stroll twice a day. At these times, he would walk up on the slopes of his beloved Arunachala hill, and if any attachment to any thing could be said of him, it was surely an attachment to the hill. He loved it and said it was God himself - the spiritual heart or center of the earth. He seemed to be never so happy as when wandering around its slopes and once remarked that there was not one spot on the hill where he had not set his foot. He also encouraged devotees to walk around the eight mile circumference of the hill as it has been well known from ancient times to be a very potent spiritual exercise.

Generally the Maharshi appeared to be indifferent, a witness to what was going on around him. Nevertheless he was always aware of what was happening and seemed to be very particular about certain matters. First of all he insisted that he should be accessible to devotees and visitors at all times. Even on the day of his death when he had no strength to even hold his head erect, he asserted that devotees should not be prevented from seeing him. He was also very keen that visitors should be fed immediately upon their arrival and food should be well cooked and nutritious. He participated (in) and supervised meal preparations for many years. The Maharshi was adamant that no preferences should be given to him in way of food or conveniences. If it is good for me it must be good for all he would say when some special food preparation or medicine was offered him. He would then make the attendants distribute the items to everyone present before he would take it himself.

In his company one would notice a total absence of distinction between men and women of different castes and creeds, of different races and religions, between a prince and a peasant, an ascetic and a householder. His equality extended far beyond human beings and embraced even plants and animals. His love for and affinity with animals can be compared only to that wonderful child of Christ, Saint Francis of Assisi. They all came to him - dogs, snakes, monkeys, crows, deer, peacocks, chipmunks and cows to name a few. Their silent language was known to him and when he spoke, they understood and obeyed. He arbitrated the monkeys' quarrels. He has been known to speak to the wild leapords and cobras and the whole animal kingdom accepted him as their guardian and defender. All felt his grace and acted with intelligence in his presence. He considered every living creature as equal. Those who came to him deserved an equal share to the land and resources of Ramana ashramam. He often mentioned that this was their territory all along. We humans have just come and occupied it. If they could speak they would claim their rights as well. Besides this, he maintained that every creature from man down to the smallest insect was an equal manifestation of the supreme self, the imperishable one. And even an animal can progress spiritually and on rare occasions, attain liberation. This was demonstrated in the life of the cow, Lakshmi. For over 20 years she lived in the ashram and exhibited a rare devotion to Bhagavan and intelligence in all matters. Bhagavan fully reciprocated her gentle devotion and on her last day when her end was near ...

[Around 5:14]
He often said that the true teaching was in silence. But this does not mean verbal expositions also were not given. And although he authorized many different methods of spiritual practice he however laid the greatest emphasis on the path of self-inquiry. The first and foremost of all thoughts that arise in the mind is the primal I thought. It is only after the rise or origin of the I thought that innumerable other thoughts arise. Search by means of a deeply introverted mind wherefrom this I arises. If we go inward questing for the source of the I the I topples down and immediately another entity will reveal itself proclaiming I-I. Even though it also emerges saying I it does not connote the ego but the one perfect existence.

People of all religions came to him and he never advised any of them to change their faith or abandon their creeds. He answered all (their) questions patiently.

--- end transcript ---

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Claimed paranormal connections via mediums to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba; Splinter devotee groups

Last updated on July 28th 2014

As this is a sensitive matter related to faith in mediums who claim to have the power to interact with/talk to Sathya Sai Baba in some manner, I want to be very careful in my comments. I will just say that so long as the teachings of Swami in such interactions are in line with the teachings of Swami that we were blessed to receive from his physical form, the teachings part of these interactions will not cause any harm to the Sai mission and it may contribute to better dissemination of the Sai teachings. But there may also be a very sensitive instructions/advice part in these interactions applying to specific individuals who approach (or have been approached by) the medium. I personally would very much hesitate to follow such instructions/advice delivered via a medium. If Swami came directly to me in a dream and gave me some instructions/advice, I would certainly consider them seriously, perhaps getting into deep prayer and meditation sessions to get clarity from the inner voice/conscience/inner Swami on such dream instructions/advice. But through a (human) medium? I don't think that is the path for me. However, I respect the choice made by people who are willing to follow the instructions/advice delivered through these mediums. Essentially, it is their life and so it is their choice.

Update: The post, A more nuanced view on medium messages related to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is a more nuanced view of mine on this topic.

[I have never had a Swami vision, i.e. appearance of Swami in the form of Sathya Sai Baba in waking state (apart from his physical body prior to his Mahasamadhi), so far at least :).]

In this context I felt it appropriate to share my experiences in a Maharashtra Sathya Sai samithi regarding such matters when Swami was in his physical form itself. I came to know of Swami through Sai literature. Sometime around 1992-93 when I was living in a company provided flat in Andheri (E), Mumbai which was very close to Dharmakshetra (Sathya Sai organization centre in Mumbai, http://www.dharmakshetra.org/), I happened to wander into Dharmakshetra on one of my walks (I used to do a lot of leisure walking on holidays typically) and was very taken up by the sayings of Swami put up in the Dharmakshetra main hall. In a short time I was in the Dharmakshetra bookshop and then the great treasure of Sai literature there, available at a very cheap price, cast a tremendous spell on me.

Not very long after this I decided to quit my company job and become an independent software consultant and also move back to Dombivli, in Thane district (Maharashtra), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dombivli, on the outskirts of Mumbai, where we (my mother & I) and others of my family (brother & family) & friends circle lived, prior to mother and me moving to the company flat in Andheri (E), Mumbai.

After resettling in Dombivli I decided to look around for any Sathya Sai devotee group in Dombivli (this would be around 1993-94 if I recall correctly). I had no knowledge of the Sathya Sai organization and did not know that there are official Samithis as venues/platforms for devotees to gather and conduct Sathya Sai organization/movement activities. [These were pre-Internet search engine days. Yahoo search started as small directory index to the world wide web in 1994, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Yahoo!, and Google came on to the web scene a few years after Yahoo, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Google.]

One day, in one of the commercial buildings close to Dombivli Railway station, I found a board having the name Sathya Sai associated with a Blood Bank. I went up there, came to know that there were regular bhajan sessions on a particular day (I think it was Sunday) and soon I became a part of that friendly and welcoming community which was being led by a medical doctor (a specialist -  pediatrician, in fact) who was also leading the Sathya Sai blood bank charitable activity. This doctor, who I will refer to as D, was quite a charismatic personality besides his quite towering intellectual stature within that group which was quite a small but well-knit group maybe of around ten to twenty regulars.

Over time (some months, if I recall correctly) I came to know that this group was a parallel/splinter group and that there was an official Sai organization samithi as well in Dombivli. Destiny had taken me first to a parallel/rebel Sathya Sai group! Eventually I started attending both groups. The official samithi group was much bigger (maybe around hundred members then) and had many rules and regulations to be followed (quite naturally as it was part of a big Sathya Sai organization). The splinter group led by D was more dynamic in terms of the service activities it accomplished with a small group of regulars. However, over time, I came to know that D, the leader of the splinter group, claimed some sort of spiritual type powers/insight especially in terms of healing. Further he recommended that people need not visit Puttaparthi as Swami was everywhere (this was in the mid-1990s when Swami was quite active in his physical body). In other words, D was like a spiritual leader with some claimed mystical powers, who also was a practising pediatrician (the bhajan sessions would be held in his clinic waiting room on Sundays, if I recall correctly, when the clinic was closed for his medical practice work). And most of the members in D's group looked up to him as a spiritual Guru (with some healing & other powers) kind of person.

I very much wanted to have Darshan of Swami in physical form, and there were many in the official samithi who were very encouraging of that and even offered to take me along. Further the samithi offered a chance to do Prasanthi Seva where, at the end of the Seva offering, we got the chance of having Swami walk amongst us allowing Seva Dal (us) to take Padanamaskar (reverentially touch his holy feet). Eventually there was a personal incident I had with D which led to me, politely and peacefully, parting ways from his group after which I concentrated only on the official Samithi events.
[A former student of the Sai university (SSSIHL) Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi) campus, who along with his long-time Sathya Sai devotee parents, provided me lot of information and guidance about Swami and the Sai organization, took me along with him for my first (remembered) darshan of Swami in Brindavan (Whitefield, Bangalore ashram) maybe in 1993-94. (I say remembered darshan as my elder sister (elder to me by 8 years) told me that our family had had darshan of Swami in a public meeting in Bombay/Mumbai when I was a child (must have been in the 1960s) - I have no memory of that as I would have been a toddler then.) This first remembered darshan of Bhagawan had a very strong and positive impact on me. During our visit, Swami attended a function in the Whitefield college auditorium (or some building like that). The former Sai student who was knowledgeable about Swami's typical routine in such visits, positioned me and himself outside and below a balcony/sit-out of this building at around first floor level (if I recall correctly). He said there is a good chance that Swami may come to the balcony/sit-out and give Darshan to devotees assembled outside. Swami did come to the balcony/sit-out and I was thrilled to have a long eye-to-eye contact with Swami from a distance of around twenty or thirty feet perhaps (if I recall correctly). I have a clear memory of that first long eye-to-eye contact I had with Swami even to this day. Somehow that made a deep impression on me. BTW I had got into a fair bit of meditation and deep prayer with my Ishta Devata (favourite God) being Lord Krishna, perhaps a year or so prior to me getting exposed to Sathya Sai Baba through Sai literature.
This first darshans trip led to strengthening of my faith in Bhagawan and also the Sathya Sai organization which eventually resulted in me moving to Puttaparthi in Oct. 2002 and being given the wonderful and blessed opportunity to serve Swami as Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty from Jan. 2003 to March 2012 in SSSIHL Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi) campus. This service gave me the blessed and rare good fortune to receive, at physical body level, Swami's Grace in general and his spiritual guidance through his discourses and, very importantly for me, through his looks & gestures during the regular darshans I would have of him.
I am very grateful to this former Sai student and his long-time Sai devotee parents for the wonderful exposure they gave to me of Bhagawan and the Sai organization, which was an important step in bringing me directly to the lotus feet of the physical form of our beloved Bhagawan.]

Today, with the passage of around two decades, I have a far more emotionally balanced view of the Dombivli splinter group matter (though I must say that some conflicting views of the two groups did confuse and disturb me a lot then as I was a novice to the Sathya Sai movement). Now I am grateful to D (who sadly, I was informed, passed away some years ago) and his group who were my first exposure to congregational Sathya Sai bhajan singing and congregational Sathya Sai service activities. They gave me a lot of encouragement and were very polite towards me even when I decided to stop participating in their activities. I have only good wishes and prayers for their happiness, towards them.

I also am of the view now that it is not uncommon for energetic and inspired individuals to break away from an official spiritual group and start a new splinter spiritual group. Even Mother Teresa essentially parted ways (with permission from church authorities) from her original Christian convent to form a new organization which eventually made a great impact worldwide. The important thing is that the parallel organizations should not fight each other and have turf wars. Give people the choice to go to whatever group they want. I think Dombivli samithi as well as the splinter group did an overall pretty good job in co-existing peacefully, even if there were some reports of criticisms hurled at each other by leaders of the two groups at times. I mean, it was just verbal or written criticism, nothing really serious like a police complaint, lawsuit or violence of any kind. In fact, sometimes, to some members at least, it was an entertaining diversion :).

Then there was another interesting and controversial happening in Dombivli samithi. This dealt with the claimed manifestation of vibhuti on Swami's photos in a devotee and samithi member's house as well as letter responses claimed to be from Swami. Devotees would place letters at the altar in this devotee's home (devotee is referred to as X) and some of them (a few, I was told) would receive written responses from Swami later on (next day/next few days, I guess). This was a sensation! This controversy too got handled quite well in Dombivli samithi, I feel. The leaders ensured that samithi events were top priority and so long as X did not hold events at his house that clashed with samithi events, he was free to hold the events and samithi members were free to attend those events. X himself would attend samithi events including bhajans where he was a lead singer. The samithi did not publicize the claimed happenings in X's home in any way and its leaders, when their advice was sought on the claimed letter responses from Bhagawan matter, said something to the effect that the organization view is that Swami does not interact with devotees in this fashion.

But, as far as I can recall, they did not go to the extent of publicly criticizing those devotees who chose to believe in the claimed letter responses received in X's home though they surely would have publicly announced in the samithi quoting from Bhagawan's public discourses and statements which strongly discouraged devotees from believing in such claimed responses from Bhagawan. However, such announcements would have limited impact on those devotees who were caught up in the new sensation :). I should also mention that, as far as I know, there was no written material or any organized publicity by X (or others) of the claimed letter responses from Bhagawan - it was mainly a word-of-mouth spread sensation. Had there been any organized publicity of these claimed letter responses from Bhagawan appearing in X's home, I am quite sure that the samithi leaders would have pointedly and publicly criticized it.

At that time I did not know X very well. However, I felt that I simply did not know enough to believe in the letter responses part or to deny it. I preferred to go by the organization view and did not give much importance to the claimed letter responses. However, I respected the choice of some devotees to believe those letter responses. Again, their life, their choice, was my view. Over the years I came to know X much better. I think his devotion/Bhakti was and is very deep. I have been more inclined towards the spiritual philosophy part of Advaita (as mentioned in the Upanishads) and the Bhagavad Gita from a very young age (including during my adult agnostic days as it was an intellectual sort-of view not needing faith in an interventionist God). Devotion and faith in a God who responds to prayer and intervenes in human affairs (interventionist God) was something that I started developing much later on in life. I tried to strengthen my devotion and faith by learning from/observing the faith of others in the Sathya Sai samithi as well as other theists in general (like a Christian neighbour of mine in Dombivli).

My view now is that X's deep devotion may have resulted in some paranormal events in his home then. I certainly will not say that such events are not possible. Somewhere down the line, I believe, these occurrences in X's home either stopped or he stopped letting people know about it.

I hope this post will contribute in some small way to ensure that there is peaceful, harmonious and maybe even synergestic co-existence between main Sathya Sai organization(s) and any splinter Sathya Sai devotee groups in this post-Mahasamadhi phase of the Sathya Sai mission. Live and Let Live, as an email correspondent put it.

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The post, A more nuanced view on medium messages related to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is an extension of the topic covered in this post.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Thankful to God & government for freedom of worship; Mosul's Christians face terrible persecution

Last updated on July 20th 2014

Here are two very distressing articles, Christians flee from Islamic State threats, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/christians-flee-islamic-state-death-threats-2014719848721494.html and
ISIS Forces Last Iraqi Christians to Flee Mosul, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/19/world/middleeast/isis-forces-last-iraqi-christians-to-flee-mosul.html

Ravi: 1,700 years! Forms of Christianity that are probably much closer to the preaching and practice of Jesus Christ than the mix of secular power and spirituality/religion that the Roman church became after Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman empire (in 380 AD), are being swept away in lands not very far from the land where Jesus Christ performed his miracles and preached his mission! What a tragedy!

That in today's early 21st century there are religious groups, who at the point of the gun, threaten people of another religion who have been practicing their religion in that city for 17 centuries, to convert, or pay tax/leave, depresses me terribly.

I salute these persecuted Christians for sticking to their faith & religion even if it meant leaving their possessions and their homes to become refugees in other villages. I pray to Almighty God to take care of these persecuted Christians.

One of the side effects of reading up on such distressing happenings in the world is that I become very thankful to Almighty God for the great gifts that have been bestowed on me. I was born in a fairly devout South Indian Hindu Brahmin family, became agnostic as a young adult, turned to the faith of my forefathers and found succour in it after I was brought to my knees by a life-crisis, and then got swept away by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, his teachings, his miracles and his movement. [Since the mid-90s Sathya Sai Baba has been and continues to be my revered and beloved Guru and my Ishta Devata (favourite God). Even though his physical form is not present now (passed away in April 2011) I continue to feel his presence now through his teachings and discourses as well as my individual and public/collective memories of him, a lot of which is easily available in print, audio, video and digital forms].

I have been to Hindu temples, Christian churches, Muslim mosques, Buddhist temples, Jain temples ... in India as well as in the USA (mostly Christian churches), Western Europe (mostly Christian churches) and South Korea (Buddhist temples). Never ever have I had any direct restriction placed on my freedom to follow/practise any religious faith or to be an agnostic.

Today I live in a town (Puttaparthi, India) where most of its residents and many of its visitors worship Sri Sathya Sai Baba as an Avatar and a God (somebody to whom one prays for spiritual/material needs/wishes). While some Indians will not approve of our worship nobody stops us. In fact, while I was in the Maharashtra Sathya Sai organization, I do not recall any incident where we were stopped from doing our worship.

I thank Almighty God and governments of various countries over the world that protect this vital freedom of worship (which includes freedom not to worship), for this great freedom gift they have bestowed on their people.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Adaptation of Pope Francis Tweet; Sai organizations should enable interested persons to have personal encounter with Sai Baba

Last updated on October 6th 2014

Here is a recent tweet of Pope Francis (twitter handle @Pontifex):


[Ravi: Text message repeated as sometimes the twitter message box is not shown:
The Church, by her nature, is missionary. She exists so that every man and woman may encounter Jesus.]

I retweeted (RT) this message as follows:

[Ravi: Text message repeated as sometimes the twitter message box is not shown:
Similar for all religions RT @Pontifex The Church, by her nature, is missionary. She exists so that every man and woman may encounter Jesus.]

My view is that Sai organizations, associated with both Bhagawan Sri Shirdi Sai Baba and Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, should have one of its core objectives as enabling interested persons which includes all devotees, organization members, spiritual seekers, curious visitors etc., to have a personal/individual encounter with Sai Baba (Shirdi Sai Baba or Sathya Sai Baba). Such personal encounters will be key steps in the spiritual transformation and evolution of people. They will experience the direct heart-to-heart contact with Divinity and will be weaned away from any dependence on supposed Divine intermediaries/intercessories.

Please note that persons giving spiritual advice are different from such supposedly Divine intermediaries. The intermediaries give authoritative instructions supposedly received from their supposedly direct channel to the Divine whereas the spiritual advisors provide advice/instructions based on their perception/intuition of/on the matter for which their advice/instructions are sought. The advisors may even go into a deep prayer/meditation session prior to giving advice so as to be more receptive to spiritual/intuitive vibes on the matter. But the advisors do not convey the advice as instructions received directly from Almighty God! In my considered view, taking advice from such spiritual advisors that one has developed trust & faith in, is perfectly fine.

The Sai path, as far as my understanding goes, is open to all faiths and adoration of all divine figures including Lord Jesus Christ. So the attempt to enable personal encounter with Sai Babas may lead to personal encounter with other divine figures like Lord Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lord Rama etc., which would be wonderful as well since both the Sai Babas have always emphasized Unity of Faiths. "Sabka Maalik Ek" (English translation of this Hindi sentence: the master/owner/boss of all is ONE/God is ONE) is the famous saying of Bhagawan Sri Shirdi Sai Baba.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Radio Sai article on recent Swami (Sathya Sai Baba) subtle form appearance controversy

Last updated on August 11th 2015

Here's an interesting article by Prof. G. Venkataraman of Radio Sai on rather bizarre claims being made about Swami's (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's) subtle body (light body) appearances/residence in Muddenahalli and Kodaikanal, http://media.radiosai.org/journals/vol_12/01JUL14/TO-FOLLOW-SWAMIS-WISH-OR-NOT-part-01.htm

The reference to mail(s) in this regard in the above article seems to be Mr. Isaac Tigrett's mail(s). Here is a link which shows one such mail content, https://www.facebook.com/christina.hofmann.902/posts/10203813307280314. The photos in this link show the veteran Sathya Sai community/fraternity leader Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy as well.

I thought I should also share my two paise (Indian 'cents') on the matter. Please be tolerant of my views :); I could be just plain wrong.

I have heard a lot about the good work done by Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy and team in setting up new schools following the Sathya Sai education system. I think that is very commendable and Swami would approve of such initiatives in general. After all, it is through education, especially school education, that Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema values can be effectively disseminated in society.

There is a sensitive issue about competition for funding for such activities among the older established trusts and the newly formed (separate) trusts. I think such issues would be common to all spiritual and religious movements, for example, the Christian missionary movements. Over time, I expect that any raw edges related to this competition for funds will get sorted out.

Perhaps some competition for such activities is a good thing. In commercial services field, monopolies promote bureaucracy and power craze/dictatorial attitudes as many of us in India have experienced in the pre-economic-liberalization era (prior to 1991, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_liberalisation_in_India). My view (and experience to some extent) is that these negatives about monopoly apply to spiritual/charitable trusts as well. So it may be a good thing that we have some competing spiritual/charitable trusts trying to follow/implement Swami's mission. They can learn good and effective practices from each other and eschew bad and ineffective practices.

[Update on 1st March 2015: At the time I wrote the above (July 2014) I had thought that the competition between trusts trying to follow/implement Swami's mission would be an ethical and friendly one. Very unfortunately, I have received reports from reliable sources of what I consider to be unethical and spiritual trap kind of methods being used by the Muddenahalli group in attracting donors as well as workers for their mission. People are told that "Swami is calling them to Muddenahalli" or something like that. Now this call is transmitted through one or two mediums/Swami dream-instructions persons of Muddenahalli. And some people seem to be accepting this medium/dream-instruction call! From whatever I have heard and read of public discourses and utterances of (physical form) Swami, this kind of call delivered through intermediary was never supported by (physical form) Swami. My view is that such a call to come to/go to Muddenahalli must come directly from Swami to the person concerned via a dream or vision or something like that. This intermediary business getting involved in this call is very unethical, IMHO. Some vulnerable Sai devotees may even get scared that they must follow the intermediary delivered Swami instructions or else they may fall into some trouble. That makes such intermediary delivered calls to Muddenahalli a spiritual trap kind-of thing, IMHO. Please forgive me if the words I have used seem strong - I feel compelled to use these words given the great confusion that is now prevailing among many Sathya Sai devotees about this matter.
Another very strange thing about Muddenahalli that I read was that during Christmas 2014 they had two chairs, one for subtle Swami and another for subtle Jesus. Now for Shivarathri 2015, a report mentions three chairs at the Muddenahalli function - one for subtle Swami, another for subtle Shiva in the form of Shirdi Sai Baba and another for subtle Mother Parvathi. I have not heard of physical form Swami (i.e. till Mahasamadhi in April 2011) ever having such additional chairs in public functions for such subtle forms of Jesus or Shiva or Mother Parvathi.
As I have not visited Muddenahalli and seen the current medium there I cannot make any statement about whether he has some spiritual powers or not. Maybe he has some powers whereby he can read the minds of devotees - maybe he is really convinced that he is seeing such subtle forms of Swami (who is giving him spiritual powers), Jesus, Shiva and Mother Parvati. I cannot say that it is all fake - I simply don't know. But what I can say is this. The above mentioned matters are very different from what I saw and heard about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's (physical form) ways of interacting with devotees and running His mission during the eight and a half years (Oct. 2002 to April 2011) that Bhagavan graciously allowed me to serve Him in Puttaparthi/Prashanti Nilayam while He was in physical form. [I feel it appropriate to mention here that I provided free service as I sought only spiritual salary from Bhagavan which He graciously showered on me at levels far greater than I had ever expected from Him. I am very deeply grateful to Bhagavan for this spiritual salary that He conferred on me.] So I have to conclude that the Muddenahalli group has now become an unethical and spiritually strange competitor to the Sathya Sai organizations that Bhagavan Himself set up and nurtured. Further, the Muddenahalli group has become a source of great confusion to Sathya Sai devotees both in India and abroad.
It would be truly wonderful if the Muddenahalli group does not use the "Swami is calling you to Muddenahalli" means of attracting people from the official Sathya Sai organizations. My humble suggestion is that they should leave it to Sathya Sai devotees whether they want to join them or not, without any of this medium calling business. It is their work in furthering Swami's mission in fields like education and medicare that will attract the really committed workers and Sai devotees. I believe that they have ambitious plans of opening many, many Sathya Sai education system free schools as well as many free hospitals in India and elsewhere (e.g. the relatively poor Southern USA state of Mississippi) - that is truly wonderful. I earnestly pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba that they get full support for such work that will further Swami's mission of re-establishing Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema in the world. Perhaps if they drop the medium calling business there may be a possibility of them working together with the official Sri Sathya Sai trusts and organizations. After all, the older Muddenahalli trust was (and is) a separate body and seemed to have worked together with the official Sri Sathya Sai trust and organizations without any significant friction or confusion while Swami was in physical form. end-update of 1st March 2015
Further update on 2nd March 2015: A correspondent had passed on this short video having clips of a recent Q&A session of overseas devotees with Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju, where questions were raised about Muddenahalli. The video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfySaF0Dyjg, is only 8 min. 34 secs., and was published on Feb. 27th 2015. I think Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju asks pertinent questions of the Muddenahalli group which now seems to be threatening to divide the Sathya Sai fraternity in India and abroad, and Prof. Anil Kumar also provides, IMHO, the right advice to devotees about somebody supposedly representing Swami. 
I have given a transcript of part of the video below:
Around 3:02 - Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju to Muddenahalli group leaders: My question is: You being Sai devotees you are obliged to explain us, why do you want to be separate. We are devotees. We are confused. I want to learn from you why you are separate. Why? If you have got some genuine reasons please come out with a statement: these are the things that made me get out, start separately. What is it that made you get out of this fold? What is it that made you independent? Let me know. If there are any problems to be one, we will all join together, bring them together and bring back that unity. Removing silly things like fund raising, somebody representing Baba. Am I clear? 
...
What is expected of us right now? To be witness to all this? To be silent (in) this situation? He is God; He is God. Whether you certify He is God or not, He is God. You don't need to certify Him. There is no point in telling He did this, He did this to me. What are you doing to Him? What are you doing for Him? .. What we should do now? We should discuss, (deliberate), clearly in depth, what steps should we take to bring back that unity.
...
What made you to establish a separate organization? Make it clear to the public. Because you owe responsibility to all of us. Including me. We are all confused. How long are you going to confuse us? [Deleted 2 short sentences.] Make a public statement. What made you to get out, leave this and establish a separate organization? What made you to name a person as a representative of Baba? What made you go around the world collecting money? What is it that you want? You want positions here? We will request these people to vacate some places and accommodate you because nobody is interested in positions. I am not interested. Because position will force me to hold on to this place. I am a free bird. So, what do you want? Gentlemen, you have a separate organization now. Why? You should explain. Two: What do you want? You want positions? Come on. We will request them. You want recognition? You are already recognized. And you are making a capital out of it. Is this your gratitude to Swami? What do you want? What steps you want us to take to bring you back and establish unity? Don't separate us. We devotees are one. Our God is one. Don't create confusion among us. Don't unnecessarily preach those things to divide us. Let us know clearly why. And please inform us what steps should we take to bring you together (back). Thank you. [Applause from audience] end-update of 2nd March 2015
Update of 3rd March 2015: The above updates deal with matters that are troubling the Sathya Sai fraternity, and it was quite troubling for me to put up the above updates in this blog post. After all, the current leaders, especially the top leader, Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy sir, of the Muddenahalli group are veterans of the Sathya Sai fraternity who we all look up to and even revere for their gigantic contributions to the Sathya Sai movement. I should also mention that we all look up to and even revere Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju too for his gigantic contribution to the Sathya Sai movement.
So I felt it appropriate to add to these updates, Bhagavan's message on experiencing and attaining oneness with God, as this high-level message of Bhagavan may soothe us from the mental agitations that the above updates involve.
"People want to attain God, contemplate on Him and worship Him. But they do not realise that they cannot attain God by merely adopting these practices. So long as you contemplate on Him and desire for Him, it means God is different, you are different. You have to experience oneness with God to attain Him. When is it possible? When you offer yourself to God completely, you become He and He becomes you. Then you realise "You and I are one". The same is stated in the Mahavakyas (profound statements): Tattwamasi (That Thou Art) [Ravi: You are that (in simpler language)] and Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman). Only the one who offers himself to God completely can experience oneness with Him. Till such time, God is God and devotee remains a devotee. When you mix sugar in water, sugar dissolves in it and becomes one with it. Similarly if you want to become God, you should offer yourself to God.
It is not possible to understand the principle of oneness so far as you have body consciousness. Atma is beyond the mind and the senses. Buddhigrahyamatheendriyam (the Atma is beyond the ken of senses and can be understood only by the intellect) [Ravi: I am not sure about the English interpretation here. I am quite sure that Swami would not have meant only the rational faculty which is what I think many people consider the intellect to be. By Buddhi here, He, IMHO, may have meant the combination of rational faculty as well as the intuitive knower/awareness faculty within each of us.] Only when you transcend the mind and senses can you understand the principle of oneness."
From Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's divine discourse on 5th Sept. 1996 which was printed in Sanathana Sarathi of February 2015. end-update of 3rd March 2015]

However, the claim that Swami is going to reside in Muddenahalli (and Kodaikanal) in His subtle form till He becomes 96 years old (solar calendar) (and provide discourses, darshan and instructions through chosen intermediaries), seems to me to be something related to the imagination of some very devoted and senior Sai devotee-leaders. I personally prefer to pray to Swami directly for divine direction (and help, many times :)) rather than go to an intermediary.

But then I also recognize that some devotees may prefer to take spiritual/divine advice/direction from such intermediaries especially if the intermediaries are very senior Sai devotee-leaders like Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy. I guess it is their (devotees') life and so it is their choice. I will not go so far as to say that they are doing something terribly wrong. However, I would urge them to also pray deeply to Swami and try to get direction from Swami Himself who, I am very deeply convinced by my experiences including (look & gesture) interactions with Bhagawan prior to His Mahasamadhi, is always present as a subtle formless essence in the depths of our own 'hearts'/consciousness. That presence may not respond to shallow prayer but it has been my experience that it has responded, on occasion, to intense prayer.

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A correspondent shared what Swami told him about projection of one's thoughts, and some other views of his (correspondent). He approved me sharing it with others (some readers may want to particularly know what Swami told him). Here it is (I slightly modified it to fix typos/grammar as the correspondent had sent his response hurriedly):

Swamy has told several times that he does not require (any) intermediaries to get his mission running & also it is rightly said each one of us has a unique relation with Swamy, we are all directly connected in our own ways.

Once when I had an opportunity with Swamy, Swamy said what you see is the projection of your thoughts just like the (projection of the) film projector running on the screen & further said if you believe "IT" is there, it is there, & if not, then nothing at all, but GOD is above all this because I have all this creation in me & I know who is what ... etc.

But I too agree with you sir (that) the competition for funds is obvious.

Swamy is not limited to Mudennahalli or Kodai, Swamy is present in all our hearts. When I read the above I felt as if people are confused & calling on their own numbers, hence always busy or unreachable; when we recognize or realize the correct number (Swamy), which you rightly (mentioned), we (can) have direct connection rather than indirect.

--- end correspondent response extract ---
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Here is a great youtube video, Devotion to Baba- Sri B.N.Narasimha Murthy, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcKMZseZOa8, 1 hr. 16 min, published around a year ago. I added the following comment:

Wonderful and spiritually very inspiring account of Swami experiences by veteran Sathya Sai community leader, Narasimhamurthy sir, who served Swami (physical form) in important capacities over nearly fifty years. Thank you so much for this sharing.
--- end comment ---

BTW in this video Narasimha Murthy sir does not talk about supposed Swami subtle body appearance in Muddenahalli, and so it is quite a non-controversial devotee experience talk, IMHO.

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Readers may want to look at the posts, Claimed paranormal connections via mediums to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba; Splinter devotee groups, dated 24th July 2014, and Adaptation of Pope Francis Tweet; Sai organizations should enable interested persons to have personal encounter with Sai Baba, dated 17th July 2014, as they are related to this post.

Readers may also want to view this post of mine, Non-interference is key to harmonious co-existence between multiple unrelated Sathya Sai trusts/organizations, dated 29th Sept. 2014.

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Update on 14th March 2015
Readers may want to look at two recent posts:
a) How did the current divisive challenge to Sathya Sai fraternity come about? How to counter it? dated March 5th 2015
b) Medium(s) who tell you about some private incident/interaction between you and Sathya Sai Baba - What will you do? dated March 13th 2015

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Update on 17th March 2015
Google search ranks and view count for this post as of March 16, 2015, and my suggestion/plea to resolve this confusion, are available at this post: Subtle Swami (Sathya Sai Baba) controversy blog post search ranks and stats; Let us resolve this confusion NOW, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/03/subtle-swami-sathya-sai-baba.html.

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Update on 20th March 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, For spiritual aspirants, which is the lesser evil in an ashram system: spiritual fraud or material fraud? dated March 17th 2015.

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Update on 9th April 2015

Two short extracts from Swami's (Sathya Sai Baba's) discourses about examining the Guru before accepting him (or her) are quite appropriate for this blog post, and so are given below.

So, examine the Guru and his credentials, his ideals and practice before accepting him. Even in My case, do not be attracted simply by stories of what I "create" by a wave of the hand. Do not jump to conclusions with closed eyes; watch, study and weigh. Never yield to any one unless you feel the inner satisfaction that you are on the right path. [From: http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume01/sss01-09.pdf, 25-3-1958 discourse]

... do not run after Gurus who are themselves suffering from faulty vision and householder's troubles: do not beg from people who are themselves beggars. [From http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume01/sss01-30.pdf, 29-9-1960 discourse]

[Ravi: I think the 'inner satisfaction' part mentioned above is crucial. Something deep inside one goes positive/feels right when one is with the right guru for one's spiritual journey, in my considered opinion based on my spiritual journey including the quest for the right guru for me. This going positive/feeling right may not necessarily mean feeling good as the right guru may prescribe and administer a lot of bitter medicine to ensure that the spiritual aspirant's faulty ways are corrected. But even when being given the bitter medicine and not understanding why it is being administered at a superficial/logical/worldly level, something deep inside, at the intuitive level, prompts and is convinced that it is for our own good! Strange (or rather, seemingly strange to the worldly minded) are the ways of the real guru.]

A couple of further extracts from the 25-3-1958 discourse mentioned above, which are also very interesting:

The Guru should not force the disciple to grow with a bent in the direction that he prefers; the disciple has the right to develop on his own lines, according to his samskaaras (tendencies) and bent of mind. The old relationship of Guru and sishyas (disciples) has today become topsy-turvy; rich and influential sishyas now rule the Guru and dictate how he should behave; and the Gurus also, keen on accumulating fame and wealth, stoop to the tactics recommended by the sishyas and thus lower their status.

...

My suggestion to you today is this: just as you attend to the needs of the body, feeding it three times a day, in order to keep it in good running condition, so too, spend some time regularly everyday to keep your Inner Consciousness also in good trim. Spend one hour in the morning, another at night and a third in the early hours of dawn, the Brahmamuhurtha as it is called, for japam (silently/audibly chanting a holy name/mantra) and meditation on the Lord. You will find great peace descending on you and great new sources of strength welling up within you as you progress in this saadhana (spiritual effort). After some time, the mind will dwell on the Name (holy Name/Lord's Name) (wherever) you are and (whatever) you are engaged in; and then, peace and joy will be your inseparable companions.

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Update on 18th April 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, Krishna/Sai Baba on silent witnesses to injustice, and on Yadavas claiming Krishna as theirs; My interpretation in after Sai Mahasamadhi context, dated April 16th 2015.

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Update on 29th April 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, My response to Ms. Terry Reis Kennedy's Facebook post on Muddenahalli subtle body communicator, dated April 25th 2015.

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Update on 5th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, How some talented people, including some spiritual leaders, can psyche themselves into false belief, dated May 4th 2015.

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Update on 6th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, Comment exchanges on Shri Indulal Shah sir's letter supportive of Muddenahalli organization, dated May 6th 2015.

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Update on 17th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, The 'come and experience' Muddenahalli line of argument; Need for unconvinced devotees to write about their experiences, dated May 6th 2015.

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Update on 17th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, Sathya Sai Baba in Trayee Brindavan in 90s: I never need anybody else to approach you, dated May 7th 2015.

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Update on 17th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, Should we simply ignore Sathya Sai Baba Subtle Body claims, and just focus on our spiritual journey?, dated May 9th 2015.

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Update on 17th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, Col. Bose's article authoritatively debunking Muddenahalli chosen communicator claims, dated May 16th 2015.

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Update on 17th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, BONES IN PRASANTHI NILAYAM, SPIRIT IN MUDDENAHALLI? - A heart-to-heart & thought provoking article by Sai university alumnus, dated May 16th 2015.

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Update on 17th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, Is Muddenahalli chosen communicator belief similar to Kurnool Bala Sai Baba belief?, dated May 17th 2015.

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Update on 20th May 2015
Readers may want to look at the post, Muddenahalli light body Sai Baba is NOT related to Puttaparthi Sathya Sai Baba - Conclusion drawn from 1st Jan 2009 Swami discourse, dated May 19th 2015.

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Update on 2nd August 2015
Readers may want to look at the following posts:

*) Do some leaders of spiritual movements get into Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?, dated May 23rd 2015

*) The Venerable Howard Murphet on Dangers of communication phenomena under guise of great spiritual name, dated May 24th 2015

*) Need to move from physical form Sathya Sai to mental-form Sathya Sai or formless God Within, dated May 25th 2015

*) Safeguarding against unauthorized use of HOLY NAME of Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, dated May 30th 2015

*) Authoritative & comprehensive archive of MESSAGE of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, dated May 30th 2015

*) BIG BLUNDER for Sai devotees to think they are Sathya Sai Avatar!, dated June 13th 2015

*) Muddenahalli subtle body claims - biggest spiritual test in post-Mahasamadhi phase of Sathya Sai mission, dated June 30th 2015

*) Nelson Mandela statement on receiving Truth & Reconciliation Commission report; Can Sathya Sai movement learn from it?, dated July 8th 2015

*) My frank (and longish) view about Muddenahalli so-called subtle body belief, dated July 12th 2015

*) Can Sathya Sai Baba really say "good is God" OR "Whether I was Rama or Krishna or Allah ..."?, dated July 12th 2015

*) Miscellaneous July 2015 Facebook posts of mine related to Muddenahalli so-called chosen communicator & subtle body, dated July 13th 2015 (Last updated on July 30th 2015)

*) Swami refusing a new car and talking about need to DEMONSTRATE SACRIFICE to achieve Moksha (liberation), dated July 17th 2015

*) Sathya Sai 1990 Gurupoornima on sookshma sharira, and "How can one who is filled with delusions himself rid you of your delusions?", dated July 19th 2015

*) SSSIHL (Sai university) urgently needs to have a Pro Vice-chancellor who is an expert on Sathya Sai teachings/writings, dated July 24th 2015

*) Sai university academics need to publish articles on Sathya Sai teachings/philosophy in fields of religion and Indian philosophy, in academic literature as well as mainstream media, dated July 25th 2015

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Update on 11th August 2015
Readers may want to look at the following posts:

*) A debate related to Prof. Shashidhar Prasad and Muddenahalli subtle body believers, (blog post dated August 4th 2015 but it is a copy of Facebook post dated 12th May 2015)

*) Selected Facebook Notes on "Muddenahalli Saga" by Mr. V.R. Ganti, dated August 6th 2015 and last updated on August 11th 2015

*) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on PRETENDERS in 1973 discourse delivered in Brindavan, dated August 9th 2015

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White collar deaths from overwork in China; Spiritual/Religious Basis for Life typically avoids such tragedies

Here's a recent article about overwork (culture) killing some white collar staff in China, "In China, 1,600 People Die Every Day From Working Too Hard",
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-03/in-china-white-collar-workers-are-dying-from-overwork

One of the great things about having a spiritual or religious basis for life is that one is clear that life is a very precious gift in which making a living is an important part but not the most important part. The most important part is the spiritual and/or religious part dealing with values like worship & adoration of God, ethical living which includes fulfilling one's role in the family (as sons & daughters, as parents etc.), peace, love and joy.

So making a living alone typically will not dominate such a person's life to the extent of killing him/her from overwork. But they might rise less in their career and make lesser money due to the balance they keep between making a living and living their family and spiritual & religious lives.