GOD'S WILL AND OURS
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The crucial question of 'how am I best to do God's will?' applies to everything we undertake. The ways in which we arrive at the answer doubtless vary considerably from person to person. Depending on each our age, capacities, circumstances, opportunities or challenges, we try to find out our personal way ahead in accordance with dharma. The general teachings of Sai Baba give the major outline of how to act rightly. Sathya Sai mostly provides guidelines and warnings to aid us in judging on what basis to make decisions, though not which decisions to make. Here are some refreshing words of Baba that guide us:-"If desire comes, analyse it. If it is good for you and not harmful to others, go ahead. If not good, put it aside at once. If you are uncertain, do nothing until the uncertainty is clarified." (Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba p. 174. Dr. J. Hislop)."Fluttering without perfect repose is the very nature of the mind! Only to worry over this peacelessness is wrong. Watch it without any perturbation, the peacelessness can no longer remain." (Baba: Sathya Sai, II p. 141f. R. Ganapati)"The mind assumes the form of the objects with which it is attached, If it gets fixed on small things, it becomes small; if on grand things it becomes grand." (Voice of the Avatar, Vol.2 , p.78)In daily life we have to decide how God's will applies to ourselves in respect of which specific plans we will make and try to realise. It is well known that Sai Baba gives many and varied forms of subtle guidance, making use of words, body language, dreams, appearances, visions, the distant materialisation of objects and manipulation of events and so on virtually ad infinitum. This fact may lead one to hope or believe that God will answer any questions by such means. Is there therefore any incontestable method of knowing with reasonable certainty when a question put in prayer, meditation or otherwise has been answered?Considering the many well-reported experiences of such phenomena we know how Swami is capable of leaving us in no doubt whatever when His specific agency has been at work. His answers take full account of the idiosyncratic workings of the mind of each questioner so that confusion will not arise, when He so chooses.
(Comment 2003) Since writing the above I have become much more aware of how SSB induces the belief that his agency is at work where, in fact, it is not or where we, with our heads full of his claims and assurances, project his agency ourselves... influencing and over-interpreting many events and not least our dreams and other phenomena to support his claims. At least some of what SSB says are his miracles are simple fraud. Such is the case with a ring he gave me at Christmas 1986 (when I had told him in privaye that I wished to make a large financial donation) which he claimed to be better than a diamond. It turned out to be a synthetic sapphire, value of about only $10.- or so in India at the time. Many other instances of his fraud and double-dealing are now recorded (esp. on the internet) by reliable persons, incl. many long-term and once very active devotees. Further, I now completely reject the claims of SSB to be omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God.
We are sure that Sathya Sai's will is directly at work when we observe someone win the darshan line lottery four times running for a place in the very front. It 'happens' to those who are 'in luck'. Yet the huge odds against it convinces us that even chance has here had to conform to the higher law of Swami's gracious will.* * *What can one do if there remains a modicum of uncertainty about Swami's direct influence in some matter? In an interview in August 1986, a Dane asked Swami whether throwing certain coins inscribed with '
Om' would give one answers from Swami. To this Baba replied only " Omis everywhere". Some chose to interpret this as a 'yes', others were certain it only meant that Swami wanted us first to find God in ourselves. The answer does imply that ' Om' is no more present in the coins than in anything else in one's entire life, including our various human faculties.We speak of 'sheer chance' - that is to say unpredictable events not following any law whatever - which makes it notoriously risky. If one's uncertainty can be removed by casting a coin, then it cannot have been so serious. If chance really does occur and the pendulum or the coin thus can happen not to express the will of God (whether of Swami or one's inner divinity), then trusting to it could be fortuitous, fateful or even fatal.It is an observable fact that non-rational or impulsive decisions can have disturbing consequences for those who are relatively insecure in themselves, gradually inviting mental unbalance and worsening any previous loss of reality-sense. Only in matters where the outcome makes little or no difference does good sense suggest a gamble on the toss of a coin. Thus casting one's fate to the winds is like avoiding responsibility for exercising free will and its consequences. Self-confidence, which is based on faith in the divinity within and without, is likely to be lacking if one places one's confidence in a coin.There is a time-honoured idea that we have a destiny that we may, or may not, fulfil. It all depends upon us, not upon 'fate'. Fate is what befalls us if we fail individually to act to fulfil our destiny. Our true destiny becomes known to us inwardly through use of our many faculties such as discrimination and intuition, not by staring ourselves blind at whatever befalls us.In our relative ignorance of the actual God within, it is tempting at times to ignore the fact that divine qualities are present in the very faculties that we have been given; our 'normal' discriminative conscience, self-intuition, intelligence common sense and perceptivity. It is easy to jump to conclusions by imagined hopes, by magnifying one's own thoughts to be an independent 'inner voice', imposing one's wishes into interpretations of texts and generally forcing results by a 'psychic' act of will that itself must rather conceal the Omniwill than express it. Instead of coming in a supernormal mysterious manner, the answer can just as well arrive in the form of an opportunity knocking on one's door. Can we not therefore just say that every knock on the door must be the will of God?"'I do not know' conveys the same meaning as the statement 'It is the will of God.' One is no wiser at the latter statement than after hearing the first." (Sathya Sai Vahini, p.23)"Welcome and live out each second. Take what works today for today, what works tomorrow for tomorrow. One day at a time, each day for itself, each moment for itself without a past, without memory, without conclusions. Conclusions bind. They press on the mind. Dare to remain inconclusive. See the endless quandaries of the mind as divine leela, His Sport."Where Swami gives no answer or no definitive directions and leaves things up to us and our designs, there must be a reason for it. We may simply have to 'Wait, wait' for the answer, or else exercise our discrimination and exert wit and will-power to solve the matter! However, Sai Baba often encourages us to take fortune into our own hands (while dedicating them selflessly!):"Act, act with all your might and with all your mind; make full use of the skill, capacity, courage and confidence that you are endowed with." (Sadhana, p.51)"The result of any action is dependent upon the amount of confidence with which it is done. We might not have confidence or faith in what we're undertaking, yet at the time asking God for great gifts. If a person wants to benefit in what he is doing, he must have a steady mind and a vision that is not so easily shaken." (Spirit and the Mind, p.178. Dr. S. Sandweiss).* * *Sathya Sai told Dr. Hislop that it is our right to ask things of God. He is, after all and before all, our nearest and dearest. Whether definite word comes or not, events themselves may bear the clues one needs. Contemplating on them can lead to the answer from one's personal inner conviction. The frame of mind adopted towards what one must do or the dedication in one's choice can itself alone make all the difference between right and wrong. Yet uncertainty can be unavoidable and may then prove to be a test for sharpening one's discrimination and learning not to waste time and energy in futile speculation. In this life, evidently, trial and error cannot be entirely avoided, as the following also confirms:-"Either I must grant you the thing that you crave for, or you must realise its very absurdity and conquer that worthless yearning." (Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram , Vol. IV, p.102. Prof. N. Kasturi)"Welcome disappointments for they toughen you and test your fortitude."... "The primary aim is to become Masters of yourselves, established in intimate and constant communion with the Divine who is in you as well as in the Universe of which you are a part." (from Baba by Schulman. 1971) Arnold* * *At times in life one's present livelihood or way of living seems to be empty and non-meaningful (in my experience) or simply too full of problems and compromises. Finding a new orientation and task can be a hard challenge. It is clear that timidity can make molehills into mountains while mental courage can do the reverse. Yet if desperation for major changes and improvements tends to set in, there is reassurance in knowing that Swami teaches the need for patience and that safe arrival depends upon driving slowly.Whether or not Swami gives specific personal guidance seems, from most observations and reports, to depend largely on the developmental needs of the particular individual whom He approaches. We cannot presume to comprehend His motives, yet it is evident that some people, such as those who suffer from chronic indecision, often need to be left to make up their own minds and thus to strengthen themseleves. Others may require the benefit of direct corrective advice. Meanwhile, the common signposts for all to follow are clear enough, the general directives and teachings given are at once simple and comprehensive. It is a question of learning where and when to apply them in personal action. The self-confidence and self-reliance Swami advocates so often involve striking an equal-minded balance between the pull of outer and inner influences:-"Do not imitate others in your spiritual sadhana. You have your own feelings, your own ideas, your own opinions, your own will. Why then imitate? Follow your own sadhana. Let your own experience of God be your guide, master and guru. Do not go into the grave weakly imitating others." (Baba's 'Thought for the Day' Xmas Eve, 1986)"There are many ways to serve the world. You can serve just as actively by your serenity. Everyone need not do all things." (advice given to a self-enquiring devotee; Baba: Sathya Sai. II, p.141 R. Ganapati)"The Lord will not examine the wealth, the family, the status or the sex. He sees only Righteousness (Sadbhava). Those endowed with such righteousness He considers as deserving His Grace, whoever they are, whatever they are. Therefore develop goodness and righteousness. Live and act in joy and love. These two are sufficient; salvation can be attained without fail." (Prema Vahini, 1975 p. 49)
(Robert Priddy, January, 1990)
The above material is the copyright of Robert Priddy,
1999 see bibliography Oslo