Excerpts from an Interview given by Sathya Sai Baba to Foreign Devotees in Kodaikanal, April 1985
The following is an edited version, reconstructed from memory, notes, and a partial tape, of a wonderful interview Sathya Sai Baba gave one morning to all the foreign devotees who had come to Kodaikanal at that point, towards the beginning of Baba’s first visit to Kodai, where he spent almost three weeks in April 1985.
Baba was staying in Srinivasan’s bungalow, outside of which in the driveway we had all gathered for darshan. Swami spoke in English without an interpreter. About thirty-five or forty of us were called in and present in the room.
This was a very rare jewel. Swami was so happy and it was a light, joyous occasion. The questions and answers were free-wheeling; it seemed like everyone got involved. Clearly, Swami’s teachings here were of the very highest order.
Devotee: Swami, what is the best way to relate to the world?
Baba: Do not think about the world. Do not spend time thinking about your relationship to individuals or to the world. These are all impermanent associations. They have to do with the body. The body is like a water bubble. The mind is like a mad monkey. Do not follow either the body or the mind. Follow the conscience. It is above the mind. It is permanent. It is the voice of God, the unchanging truth within you.
Devotee: How do we tell the voice of conscience from the other voices?
Baba: Conscience is always only one. Whenever there are many voices we can call it conscious, but not conscience. Conscious relates to the little self; it is the condition of the mind in the waking state. There will be many voices and differences, but conscience is always one and unchanging. Conscious, conscience, and consciousness—these are three terms that must be understood. Consciousness refers to chaitanya. Chaitanya is the omnipresent supreme spirit, the one all-pervasive reality. From it comes conscience, which is the voice of truth inside. Conscience is the soul, the spark of the Divine. Conscious refers to the various instruments. All this in the world can be called ‘conscious’; it is all part of the conscious state. There are four states. The waking state is conscious. Then there is the subconscious, which relates to the dream state. The deep sleep state is unconscious. In and above all three of these is the superconscious.
Conscience is the voice of the superconscious, the Divinity residing within. On the spiritual path you rise from conscious, which is what you perceive in the world, to conscience, the Divinity which is in your heart, to consciousness, the One, omnipresent, unchanging sound. These are the three stages in life, which have been spoken of in a number of different ways.
First we think, ‘I am the body.’ In the Vedas this is called, ‘Aham dehasmi.’ ‘I am this individual soul.’ This is the human quality. Then we go to ‘Aham Brahmasmi,’ ‘I am God.’ This is the divine quality. Swami has been telling you this in other ways also. You are not one person, but three. You are the one you think you are; that is the physical quality. You are the one that others think you are; that is the mental quality. And you are the one you really are; that is the Atma quality.
This was stated by Jesus in another way. First He said, ‘I am the messenger of God.’ This too is the dualistic (dvaita) stage. Between the messenger and God there is a vast difference; it is the master-servant relationship. God is the master and you are the servant. This is the initial stage of devotion. After some time Jesus felt, ‘No, no, I am not just a messenger; I am the son of God.’ Now he felt the close family relationship of father and son. This is near and dear; it is an inner, not an outer, relationship. This is the semi-dualistic (vishishtaadvaita) stage. Later, Jesus announced, ‘I and my father are one.’ At that point Jesus and God were completely inseparable. Both were one, the one Holy Spirit. This is the monistic (advaita) stage. This is real. It is the true and permanent relationship.
At the beginning you are aware of the physical relationship. You say, ‘I am a devotee, I am a servant, I am a messenger.’ After that you speak of an inner, subtle relationship. You say, ‘I am a spark of the Divine, I am the reflection of God, I am the son of God.’ Then you realize there is only the One: ‘I and God are One.’ There is no difference; there never was a difference. There is no separate You and God which have become one. Always there was just the One, without a second. Truly, at that point, you can only say, ‘I am’ or ‘I am I.’ At that final stage you would not even say, ‘I am God,’ for in that there is still a trace of dualism. You only say, ‘Aham Aham,’ ‘I am I.’ That is the highest truth. To reach this ultimate state you must not allow yourself to ever think that you and God are separate. Think always, ‘God is with me, inside me, around me. All there is is God. I myself am God. I am the Infinite, the Eternal. I am not two; I am one, only one. There is no one else besides me. I and God are one and the same.’ To realize this unity, the first step is to develop Self-confidence. Where there is Self-confidence, there will be love. Where there is love, there will be peace. Where there is peace, there will be truth. Where there is truth, there will be God.
Without Self-confidence there cannot be God. Think, “God is in me. God is doing everything. Without God I cannot be. All this is God. I can only think about God, for there is nothing else. God and I are one. I am I, one without a second”. But now, what are you thinking about? Only the physical. You are forgetting God. You are thinking about the body. But the body is just a water bubble. Do not think of the body. Body is just a dress, only a dress.
Devotee: Swami, isn’t the body also God?
Baba: When all you think of is God, then body is also God. But now you think of body as matter. Matter is always changing. The world also is always changing. But God is not changing. God is the one unchanging Spirit. The body is temporary. It is an instrument; it is the temple of God.
Devotee: Is Swamiji’s body an instrument?
Baba: This body is like all bodies. All bodies are just instruments. All bodies are only temporary. They have birth and death. The Indweller of the body is permanent. That is the Atma. That is the real you.
Devotee: How to rise up to that highest level? How to become perfect?
Baba: Through Love. Only through Love. Develop divine Love. Divine Love is completely selfless. Human love is mostly selfishness. All the time it is “I, I, I”. That I is ego. Ego is a very bad quality. Ego sees everything as separate; it sees everything as duality. You must remove this ego and see only the unity. Where there is duality, Divinity will not be present. Think only of unity; think only of the basis of everything.
But now for you there is only desire, desire, desire. ‘I want this; I want that.’ These desires are all just passing clouds; they come and they go. One moment they give pleasure; the next moment they give pain. They cannot give permanent joy. It is these that make up the mind; mind is nothing but a bundle of desires. Don’t follow the mind; don’t follow these passing clouds. Desire comes and goes, but morality comes and grows. Morality is very important. Follow morality; practice it.
Talk is quite easy, but practice is difficult. Practice, then you will get results.
Remember the real goal, which is immortality. What is the way to immortality? It is the removal of immorality. Immorality refers to anger, ego, jealousy, lust, hatred, greed. Remove all these immoralities. That is the only way to attain immortality. This is very important. To remove immorality, we must follow the conscience. It is the voice of immortality.
Devotee: Swamiji, should we think of God as both mother and father?
Baba: Your physical mother is with you only for some years. She is your temporary mother. Your physical father is also only temporary. The real relationship is different. Truth is your real father. Truth is permanent. With truth there is no change, no birth, no death. Prema, divine Love, is your real mother. Here also there is no change, no birth, no death. Devotion is your real brother. Wisdom is your real son. Peace is your real daughter. For all these there is no change, no birth, no death. These make up your permanent relationship, your God relationship. This is your permanent family.
Devotee: But should I not take care of my family at home?
Baba: Yes, you must! That is your duty. Do your duty.
Devotee: But if it takes me away from God?
Baba: No, no, no! Take care of your husband and children. Do your duty. Duty is God. Work is worship. You must not forsake your duty.
Devotee: But when God calls?
Baba: God is in you, with you, above you, below you, and around you. He is not calling or sending for you. He is always with you. You yourself are God. Think like that—‘l am Atma. I am the All.’
Devotee: Baba, what is the relationship between Atma and the individual?
Baba: Where is Atma? Atma is everywhere. How do you know? Well, you do not know now. What you say now all comes from your imagination. You have no experience. Do some spiritual discipline (sadhana). Experience it! Realize it!
Devotee: But what I wanted to ask is this: do I have an individual higher self that is related to me?
Baba: Who is the individual? Individual is just your imagination. When Atma is One without a second, when Atma is everywhere, where is the individual? Only in your imagination. It is just an illusion. Atma alone is real. Realize it through meditation.
Devotee: Then there is no higher being related to this body, judging me and guiding me?
Baba: Now you are in 100% body-consciousness. But do not stay with this body-consciousness. Remove that. What will remain will be Atma consciousness. Then there will be no anger, no hatred, no envy, no jealousy, no hunger, no desire—only complete ananda, bliss, bliss, bliss!
Devotee: But then what is reborn in reincarnation?
Baba: Only the body is born. Birth and death only have to do with the body. Ego also relates only to the body. Think of Atma. Atma is one, unchanging. For Atma there is no incarnation, no reincarnation.
Devotee: Do I as an individual exist at all?
Baba: I? I? First you must inquire, ‘Who am I?’
Devotee: Is there no individual anything?
Baba: When you realize the Atma, there is no individual. The individual is like a light bulb. There will be a difference of bulbs, a difference of wattages, and a difference of colors. But everywhere, the current is the same. That current is you. You are not the different bulbs; you the one current in all.
Devotee: Swami, is there any difference between me and God?
Baba: You are God. You are not the ego. You are God! You are God!
Devotee: I am God?
Baba: Yes. You are the Atma. You are permanent. The physical ego is not permanent. The physical is not Atma. You are Atma, not the physical. You are God. Think like this always. Do not think about the body. Think about God. The body comes and goes; for it there is birth and death. But you are not the body. Body is just rust and dust.
Devotee: Swami, is everything predetermined?
Baba: Oh, yes!
Devotee: So the time that we take to merge is already mapped out?
Baba: This question comes out of body-consciousness. At the Atmic level there is neither time nor form. It is beyond time, beyond form. There all are One. Let that be your goal. All are One; be alike to everyone.
Devotee: Swami, how do we become perfect?
Baba: Only through Love. Only through complete selflessness.
Devotee: Is compassion a delusion?
Baba: What you think is compassion is only a temporary compassion, a physical type of compassion. There will be many people who want money, and then foreigners will come and give money. Beggars ask and you give. But that is a very bad quality. You think you are giving charity, but that is not compassion. That is only beggar-development. If they want food, give them food. But do not give money. Since you are giving money, they take it and use it to go smoking and drinking. Money makes many wrongs. Misuse of money is evil. Do not give money to beggars. You should want only Love; you should want true compassion, God.
Devotee: Baba, I need healing—healing on all levels.
Baba: Healing can only come through God. Think of God. God is everything. He will do what is needed. Think only of surrendering to God. Some persons say, “I am healing others.” But this is just ego speaking. Healing cannot come through the ego. Thinking that you are doing healing is very harmful. You are not the one who is doing it. You are only an instrument. He is doing everything. Think only of Him. Love Him. Be Him.
Devotee: Swami, how can we love something we don’t understand?
Baba: Develop Self-confidence, then love will follow. It will come naturally from within and that way the love will be pure. First comes Self-confidence; that is the foundation. Then comes Self-satisfaction; it is like the wall. Next comes self-sacrifice; it is like the roof. Finally comes Self-realization, which is like the Indweller who comes and lives inside this house. Without the foundation, the walls will fall. Without walls, you cannot have a roof. Without a roof, there cannot be a house. So it all starts with Self-confidence and ends with your realizing the Self. That Self is you. It is everything. It is God.
Devotee: Does self-confidence mean confidence in the Self?
Baba: Yes, that’s what it means, confidence in the Self. That is very important. How to develop that confidence? Be equal-minded, be satisfied with what you have. Be happy. The secret of happiness is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you have to do. That is a great truth. And you must always have complete faith in God. True greatness comes from faith. Now there is no confidence in you. Without confidence, faith will be wavering. Then where is there room for grace to come, and for the Divinity to be found inside? If you shut the door, how can the Spirit be revealed?
Devotee: Lord, I want to arrive very early to You. What do I have to do?
Baba: Through Love, only through Love. Love is everything. Love is God. Live in Love. Start the day with Love, spend the day with Love, fill the day with Love, and end the day with Love. That is the way to God.
Devotee: How do we develop this Self-confidence and selfless love?
Baba: It all comes through God’s grace. Without grace you cannot do anything. First do your duty and think about God all day, from morning to evening. See everything as God. Be happy. Think, ‘O Lord, You are my everything. You are my goal. You are my breath.’ Do not think, ‘This is mine; that is mine.’ Instead think, ‘All is You. All is Yours.’ Think, ‘I am separate from the body. This body is just a water bubble. I am separate from the mind. This mind is just a mad monkey. I am the conscience. I am the Atma. I and God are one.’ Think like this.
Before this body formed, you were there. After this body leaves,, you are there. Without this body, you are still there. You are omnipresent. You are the unchanging Atma. You are the all. To reach this truth you have to do some sadhana. You have to inquire, ‘What is God? Who is God? Who am I?’ Jesus spent twelve years in the desert; then He realized. You must also realize. The first step in realization is to always think of God. Then, after some years, you will realize you are one with God. In the beginning you can think of this body and the world like this: ‘The world is like a stage. I am only an actor. God is the director. All are actors. He is directing everything.
Devotee: Shall we tell these things to others, Swami?
Baba: Do not talk so much. First do some sadhana. First do, then be, then talk.
Do some meditation. Do everything with love. Do good, be good, and see good. After that you can talk, but even then only a little. After you develop Self-confidence and love for God, then you can share with others. But it is a good rule to talk very little, even about God. In sadhana there will be internal talk with God. You will give up all other attachments and attach only to God.
Devotee: Swami, I have been waiting six months for You to call me.
Baba: Months and years are not important. Purity of heart is very important. Where there is no purity, there is no unity. Without unity, you cannot attain Divinity. Then your life is just a waste. First purity, next unity, then realize the Divinity.
Devotee: And purity comes from service (seva)?
Baba: Purity comes from selfless service and love. All are one family, serve all— not just the Sai family, but the whole world family. All are brothers and sisters. All are one; be alike to everyone. That is unity—the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.
Devotee: In a country like Germany, where there is not much spiritual feeling...
Baba: Germany, Japan, Italy, or France—only the countries are different. The heart is the same.
Devotee: It’s the seva I wanted to ask about. Can I do it in Germany?
Baba: You can do it anywhere, wherever you like. With Swamiji there is no consideration of quantity. It is quality that is important. Do not do service with the mind, do it with the heart. You do not need to consider big programs, doing for many. It is enough if you do your service for one, heart-to-heart. You should also limit your desires. Do not waste time, do not waste food, do not waste money, do not waste energy; these are all aspects of God.
Devotee: In meditation my ego seems to get in the way.
Baba: Where there is ego, there is limitation. Meditation is beyond the senses.
There is no trace of ego there. Where there is ego, there cannot be meditation. If you think of God and live in love, if you limit your desires and do some selfless service, the ego will soon disappear. Then meditation will be pure, and the mind will be quiet.
Now you say, “I want peace”. But remove the I, which is the ego, remove the want, which is desire, and the peace will be there, waiting.
Submitted by Al Drucker
Prasanthi Nilayam, India, May 1985