Saturday, 15 July 2017

Missing what we want because of how we want it - God's dilemma

Seeking the magic of a Divine visit

Among the several magical memories that a Sai-student carries of life at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, a Divine visit to the hostel often ranks very high. When Swami visits the hostel, it feels like the Lord wanted to call all the students for an interview but did not have an interview room as big as His heart! And so, He decides to visit the students in the hostel -  it is like a mass private interview on the largest scale! Such a visit brings many close interactions with Swami. He speaks to the students and the students express their feelings for Him through conversations, talks, short skits and songs. There are momentous materializations and rousing revelations.  A taste of such a visit can be obtained by reading the happenings during one such visit that had taken place in 2003. Each visit is unique and the ‘uncertainty’ about how it will unravel only adds to the anticipation and excitement.
The memorable Divine visit to the hostel in March 2003

Thus, every student of the SSSIHL wishes to be part of at least one Divine visit to the hostel. The students in our batch were no exception!  It is no wonder that we wanted such a repeat of history. But Swami always has His ways of refusing to make such a visit unless the boys plead hard enough. We prepared ourselves for such excuses of the Lord, and went to the mandir armed with a large invitation card. The card had many photos of Swami with the students during many previous hostel visits and the wording was this,
“Swami, our home is empty without you. Please bless it with your loving visit.”

Different gender, same scenes! Swami's visit to the girls' hostel in Anantapur brings thrill to everyone.

It was the 22nd of February in 2005. The clock face in Sai Kulwant Hall proclaimed 4:15 pm when Swami came out on His darshan rounds. As He neared us, we got up on our knees with the card and showed it to Him. He looked at the card and said out aloud,
“Swami, it is empty because You are not there. If You visit our hostel, it will cease to be empty. It will become full!”, we answered.
Swami nodded and told us to go back and sit in our places.

Do we miss what we seek because of how we wish to get it?

There is a popular story that goes as follows.

A town gets flooded and there is water everywhere. A pious man is trapped on the roof of a building and has nowhere to go. The rising flood waters are slowly encircling the building and he has nowhere to go. But he is not at all worried. His faith in God is firm and he simply starts praying. He says,
“Dear God. All my life I have worshipped you and have had steady faith in you. Please come to my rescue.”

Within a few minutes, the waters have risen a few more meters and it is only a matter of 15 more minutes before they swallow the building completely. Presently, a boat comes by and the boatman shouts out,
“Sir! I have place for one more on my boat. Would you care to join?”
“No! You carry on and save someone else. God will save me.”
The boat goes away.

Minutes before the building is completely submerged, a helicopter comes above and, over the megaphone, a shout is heard,
“Sir! Please hold on. We shall rescue you.”

The story goes that the man drowns and dies. He comes face to face with God and accuses God of cheating him and letting him down (and thus drown). God smiles, pats him on his head and says,
“But my child, I sent you a boat and a helicopter. You just chose to refuse my help!”

We miss the boat and the helicopter probably because of our expectation that a rope will drop from the skies!
The moral before the story

The time-tested style of narrating a story to tell the story and then highlight the moral. However, making ourselves aware of the moral before the entire story is told helps us to better appreciate the learning sometimes. So, here are some thoughts.

With the wisdom of the flood story guiding us, we can better understand the happenings of that day in the mandir, in Swami’s presence.

1. WHAT was it that we were seeking on the 22nd of February?
We wanted Swami to interact with us, speak to us and give us a chance to speak to Him through our skits, speeches and songs. That is what we really wanted.
2. HOW did we seek to accomplish the goal?
By making Him visit our hostel so that all the above could be achieved.

Now, let us go back to the happenings of that day to realize the fact that we miss ‘what’ we want because we are obsessed with the ‘how’ we want it - we miss the boats and helicopters that God sends us.

The evening unfolds

The girl students from 12th grade (the final year before University in India), had come to the mandir with songs of gratitude that they wanted to offer to Swami as a batch. Swami permitted them to do so and for the next 20 minutes, He sat in front of them, listening to the outpourings from their hearts which manifested in the form of songs. Such devotional outpouring brings joy to all - the Lord, the singers and the audience! Each and everyone in the hall seemed to be absorbed in enjoying the Divine darshan, singing out to their own Swami in their hearts.

After that, He came over to the boys’ side and told us also to sing songs if we had prepared any. Wow! This was a pleasant surprise indeed! Grabbing the opportunity with both hands, we began to sing songs for Him that we spontaneously remembered. Needless to say, they were the ‘classics’ that we had been singing for years now. (That shows the importance of practice. When the moment of reckoning comes, only what we have practiced comes out spontaneously.) Swami sat enjoying our songs too and we were all very happy at this unexpected bounty.

At the end, as Swami was smiling, we sensed that this was probably His ‘vulnerable’, wish-granting moment. We all chorused aloud,
“Swami, please come to the hostel.”
That seemed to be an instant turn-off for Him. He looked away and was about to go. But He stopped, turned and asked with great restraint,
“Don’t you have any programme to present?”
This was a golden opportunity to promise Him a programme and win a slot for ourselves. He was in a ‘granting mode’. Instead, we were in a ‘hostel-visit-seeking mode’. We went up to Him with the same card and asked Him to visit the hostel - for the THIRD time! We told Him,
“There might be many people in the hostel Swami but it is empty till you come.”

We were all bent upon ensuring that Swami comes to the hostel - nothing else mattered!

He told us that He would come and sent us back to our place. We were wondering why He was not answering us in the affirmative. Probably He too was wondering the same - why we were not ready to take the opportunity to sing, speak, make a presentation and listen to Him when He was giving Himself to us!

He had given us an opportunity to sing but we had stopped it midway because we wanted to sing for Him in the hostel! He had given us a chance to put up a programme in His presence and we had scuttled it because we wanted things our way. He was also speaking to us but we weren’t paying any attention because of the same reason. We were so engrossed in planning how to make Him yield, that we didn’t even notice that He had already yielded!

Swami continued,
Emi Samacharam? (What news?)”
This is the way in which Swami usually starts conversations. It is a known fact that many times, a single Emi Samacharam has led to conversations that lasted even up to an hour! Here was Swami giving us that opportunity to converse with Him. But guess what we did?

We shouted out,
“Swami please come to hostel. Please come to hostel.”
The chorus kept rolling towards him like tides towards the shoreline. Soon, it became uncontrollable. Swami called the priest and told him to take Aarthi. He then left. All of us were left with the feeling that we almost achieved our objective but just missed it because Swami did not fully cooperate. Again, Swami too must have felt that He almost answered our prayers but just missed doing so because we did not fully cooperate!

The Lessons

How many times in life have we missed ‘what’ we wanted because it did not come to us in the manner in which we expected it to? God always answers our prayers but we have to be open in our minds and, more importantly, in our hearts! So lost are we in our idea of how our prayers should be answered that we miss what is it that we are actually praying for itself!

Thus, we seek happiness by chasing money, influence and power. God smiles at us and tries to grant us happiness. But we just refuse to cooperate because for us, happiness (the ‘what’ we want) has to come through money, influence and power (the ‘how’ we want it). Similarly, we want love and we chase it via friendships and relationships. We close our minds and hearts to the Truth that all we have to do is to seek and the Lord will give it to us in the best manner possible. We become blind to the Lord’s gifts and bounty because our eyes are fixed so narrowly on ‘how’ we want them to come to us.

Let us sit back and think peacefully
“What is it that I really want?”
Are we so lost are we in ‘how’ we want what we want that we forget what we want itself?
Many times in discourses Swami says, “No anna variki No, Yes anna variki Yes; Kaani Sai Ki Sarvam Yes Yes Yes (It is ‘No’ for those that say no and ‘Yes’ for those that say yes but for Sai it is always ‘Yes Yes Yes’).” No wonder His name, Sri Sathya Sai, itself says SSS! He is ready to help us but we should be ready to receive the help in the manner in which He provides. Instead, we behave like patients who go and suggest the medicine they need to the doctor! Let the Divine Doctor decide please.

(This has been a common theme where Swami satiates the students' desire to interact with Him in the mandir itself instead of going to the hostel. Here is an instance from 1991 which goes along similar lines!)

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  1. Always inspiring...Loving god. Thanks brother.☺☺☺

  2. Sairam Aravind thanks for sharing those unforgettable moments and insights. here EGO takes over, which is very strong in all, WE want things to happen in a way WE perceive, because awareness of HIM in us & in all are has not been fully awakened and WE are far from reaching the state of Sampoorna Sharanagati. Only Sadhana can help us in moving forward to realise Aham Tatwamasi and accept everything as HIS thoughtful gift with equanimity. Best wishes.
    Madhusudanvithal Nori

  3. Devendirakumar16 July 2017 at 21:46

    Dear Brother - Sairam

    Thank You so much for gifting us with this very valuable message and inspiration.
    Brother - Thank you so much for blessing us with this learning.
    Always have to trust and complete surrender with utmost faith and love - the Wisdom and Love of our most beloved Swami. Thank you brother for this revelation and truth. I offer my respect, thanks with gratitude. Thank you, Deva

  4. Brother,

    Desire is blinding indeed! One's only desire must always be for the Ultimate. Thanks for reminder.


  5. As usual very inspiring . Sairam

  6. Swami has said that his students are his property. The SAI students are our future. They have lived with walking talking god. Through them we can establis peace and happiness and the pure divine love.Practice what he has tought us with steady mind and total surrender. His students help re-charge our batteries in time of needs and guidiance. we treasure their devotion. Makes us feel swami more and more live and fresh. Thank you swami for establishing the steady path of humanity. With love, lOVE ALL SERVE ALL

  7. Sairam and thank you dear Bala. Ever grateful. We missed meeting during our visit last month along with the USA devotees. May Swami bless you ever.


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