Amongst the qualities that make up a flawless character, love, patience, forbearance, steadfastness, and charity are the highest, and must be revered. The hundred little deeds you indulge in everyday harden into habits; these habits mold your outlook towards life. All that you weave in your imagination, seek and yearn leave an indelible imprint on your mind and form a picture of ‘your world’ and then you get attached to it. But whatever is your character today, it can certainly be modified by changing your thought pattern. The wickedness of nobody is incorrigible. Wasn’t the robber Angulimala turned into a kindhearted person by Buddha? Didn’t thief Rathnakara become Sage Valmiki? You have within your reach, the capacity to challenge your own evil propensities and change them. By selfless service, renunciation, devotion and prayer, old habits can be discarded and new habits that take you along the divine path can be instilled.
Prema Vahini, Ch 2.
Ratnakara, the robber, waylaid travelers and pilgrims and robbed them of their belongings. When some sages whom he attacked reacted with loving kindness, warned him and revealed to him the sacred path of devotion and dedication, he gave up his cruel profession and plunged into severe spiritual exercises which transformed him into a great poet-saint, Valmiki.
There is the example of the highway robber who collected the fingers of those whom he robbed and strung them into a garland round his neck. He was so proud of this horrid achievement that he named himself Angulimala. But, when he encountered the Buddha and listened to His compassionate counsel, his mind was cleansed and he became a faithful follower of Buddha.
Man can be educated or nurtured into higher levels of consciousness. The Sasthras (Scriptures) offer the means of purifying the mind. Other living beings have no such help or encouragement offered to them; they have to plod on as of old. This is the reason why life as a human being is a unique gift.
- Krishna Janmashtami, Prasanthi Nilayam, Aug 31st 1983
Excerpts from Baba’s Discourses:
TODAY marks the completion of the Veda Purusha Yajna with the performance of Purnahuti (final offering in the ritual fire). The offering which you have to make in the Yajna is that of your bad thoughts, bad desires and actions. This is more important than anything else. People are not doing this now. You have listened to hundreds of discourses for the past forty years or so. But your mind remains where it was. There is little change in your attitudes or actions. The heads are filled with spiritual lore and book knowledge, but no attempt is made to fill the heart with love. Many have been residing in this ashram (hermitage) for years and have been attending various festivals and functions here. But there is no change in their lives. They have not inscribed Swami's message in their hearts. If there is no spiritual transformation in your way of life over the years, you would be guilty of having wasted all your energies, time and opportunities. You have been coming to Prashanthi Nilayam for the past many years and have been listening to the Swami's discourses. But your desires seem to be ever on the increase, while the spirit of Thyaga (renunciation) has not developed to the slightest extent. Should you not try to curb your desires to some extent? Living in the ashram, your thoughts are about Samsaram (the family). This is not true sadhana. Sometime or other you will have to give up your material possessions. Only he is a hero who gives up his possessions before they go from him.
Transformation Is the mark of true devotion
The Saptaha yajna (seven-day sacrificial rituals) reaches Samaptam (concludes) today. The true meaning of Sama-aptam is realization of the Brahman. To recognize the Omni-Self that is in every being is Self-realization. Today people boast about the tremendous progress of science and technology, but if this claim is true, why does Ajnana (ignorance) persist on such a large scale? The fact is much of the progress in science today is confined to satisfying man's selfish desires and not for promoting the general well-being of the world. Is it a sign of true progress if a country arms itself to the teeth to destroy another? Is this an index of scientific advance? It is really a sign of ignorance.
Good thoughts, good words and good actions are absent today. How, then, do you expect the Divine to fulfill your desires? Men are behaving in a manner worse than that of animals. How can they be called human at all? Perpetually they are concerned about wealth, family and children. They hardly think of God. There are fleeting moments of devotion, but these are more demonstrative than genuine expressions of faith in God. Such artificial expressions of devotion serve only to confirm the atheists in their disbelief. Unless faith in God expresses itself in a Godly life, it is sheer hypocrisy. I do not want to know that you have listened to my discourses well. I want to know that you have thoroughly transformed yourselves. It is such transformation that is the mark of true devotion. If the ground is not wet, what is the use in saying there has been a downpour? Those who claim to be devotees should show in their actions some evidence of their faith. They must truly live up to their profession. "Sai Ram" in words and dishonesty in thoughts is brazen deception. "Sai Ram" must emanate from the depth of one's being. Whether in the Sai organization or elsewhere, there must be sincerity and unity of thought, word and deed. Develop fraternal feelings towards all. Differences of opinion can be resolved by compromise. If egoistic pride is given up, all difficulties can be overcome. From today make a bonfire of your ignorance and egoism and develop love in your hearts. Live up to Swami's teachings as far as possible and thereby redeem your lives.
- Dasara Discourse, Prasanthi Nilayam, Oct 2nd 1987
Questions for Reflection:
What are the impediments that stand in the way of our spiritual transformation?
How do human effort and divine grace contribute in self-transformation?
What steps can we take every day to constantly be connected to the inherent divinity?
Video Clips from Dasara Discourse, Oct 2, 1987: