Sathya Sai - The Eternal Companion (Volume 1, Issue 10, December 2022)
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Jesus His Life and Message
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that religious holidays like Christmas will become holy in the true spirit when we celebrate them understanding the inner spiritual significance of these festivals. Christmas is about celebrating the life and glory of the Lord Jesus, studying His teachings, and practicing them in daily life. Jesus Christ came to teach man the high ideals of love and sacrifice when the temples of worship had become places of business and when the high priests and scholars followed the letter of the scriptures, forgetting the spirit. Lord Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem, in a small manger, to the chosen mother, Mary. Blessed were the few who could recognize His divinity only by His grace – the three wise men from the East and an old Jewish spiritual seeker named Simeon, who took the baby Jesus up in his arms, blessed God, and said: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen the Savior sent from You.”1 Later in His life, when He was ready to be baptized, John the Baptist said that he could not baptize Him; instead, Jesus should baptize him. Thus, he recognized the greatness of the Lord Jesus. Through the ages, there are a few chosen ones who, by God’s grace, recognized the divinity of Avatars even when they were incognito, looking like mere mortals. This happened with Rama, Krishna, and even Sathya Sai Baba; very few people recognized Swami’s divinity in the early years. Even at this time, out of billions of people, only those blessed with His grace can have a glimpse of His divinity and experience His love.
Lessons Taught by Jesus
As a young boy, Jesus explained the inner meaning of the scriptures, which the elders did not appreciate. When the priests said that it was not allowed to do anything on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, which was a holy day for the Jews, He declared that no days were forbidden for good acts with firm faith and clear authority. His love was universal. He forgave the sin of Mary Magdalene and accepted her worship because she had intense devotion. Jesus appreciated her pure love. Mary Magdalene washed Jesus’s feet with tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with perfume. God looks at the heart of the people, not their outward appearance. Jesus taught us not to judge others so we may not be judged. When people were ready to stone a fallen woman to death, He came in the way, saying, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”2 Everybody backed off, and she was saved, and then He told her, “Go and sin no more.”3 His message was, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”4 Swami said, “When we want to develop divine love, it is very important to practice not to find faults in others but find our own faults.” The noble quality Lord Jesus demonstrated in His life was forgiveness. When Peter, His disciple, asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven,”5 which means we should forgive the wrongdoer many more times. His life was His message. Even when He was being crucified and in intense pain, Christ prayed to the Lord, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”6
He advised people to forgive their enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”7
Jesus also taught humanity how to give, saying, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand does.”8 He further says, “Do it with utter humility.” Jesus gave the example of a little old woman who put two copper coins in the coffer, “I tell you the truth,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.”9 God looks at the heart of the giver, not the gift. Similarly, when the super specialty hospital was being built in Puttaparthi, Swami recognized the contribution of a young boy who gave 100 rupees (equivalent to only two to three dollars) out of the donations of millions of dollars received from other donors toward the hospital construction. God looks at the purity of heart and the love and simplicity of the giver.
The greatest commandment of Jesus Christ is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”10 This command means we should love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. We should share the joy and suffering of others as our very own. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “He is the greatest yogi who identifies himself with the joys and sufferings of others.” But Christ went even further at the last supper when He washed His disciples’ feet and shared the bread as His body and wine as His blood. He said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”11 Thus the Lord Jesus showed us how we should love each other and everyone the way He loved us unconditionally.
Lessons from His Disciples
Peter was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. His name derives from the word ‘petra,’ which means rock in Greek. Peter’s faith was solid like a rock, and he recognized Jesus as Christ. Jesus said to Peter: “You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.”12 But even Peter denied Christ three times, and his faith wavered when he encountered worldly challenges and opponents. St. Thomas too, doubted Him and wanted proof that He was indeed resurrected. But later, it was St. Thomas who spread the message and love of Jesus worldwide, including India.
Judas, one of the twelve disciples, betrayed Jesus just for a few coins. Jesus foresaw this before it happened. In the 2001 Christmas discourse, Swami said there would be many betrayers like Judas during the time of this Avatar. The lesson is – Let us always be careful, let us not be subject to doubt like Thomas or wavering in faith like Peter or be tempted like Judas, but let us have absolute, unwavering, steady faith in God, our Lord Sai, in all situations. There is a beautiful example in the Bible of a Centurion (leader of soldiers) from the Roman army. When his servant, whom he loved as his son, became ill and was about to die, he called out to Jesus for help. When Jesus was ready to come to his house and heal the servant, the Centurion said, “Lord, there is no need to come. Just say one word, and he will be healed.” Lo and behold! by the time he turned around to return to his house, the servant was completely healed. Then Jesus told the people around him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”13 That is the kind of faith that is needed. We should pray to the Lord for His blessing to have such absolute faith in all situations.
Miracles of Jesus Christ are expressions of His compassion and unconditional love. They are like visiting cards to be connected with Him. He made the lame walk, the blind see, the mute speak, and He healed the lepers. He raised the dead like Lazarus and performed miracles galore. He showed how He could control nature, as witnessed by His calming the storm in the Sea of Galilee. He exorcised evil spirits and ghosts from people, which also reminds us of how Swami performed similar miracles in the early years of His Avatarhood.
In Cana, Jesus changed water into wine at a bridegroom party that had run out of wine. This wine tasted ambrosial due to His divine touch. Likewise, we heard that Swami turned water into petrol when the car He was being driven ran out of fuel. On one occasion, Jesus also multiplied food to feed the multitudes. He used five loaves of bread to serve thousands of people gathered, and even after serving all, seven basketfuls of food were left behind.
Lord Jesus Christ gave His message in simple parables, like our Lord Sai, who shared them in the form of small stories called Chinna Kathas. Some of these parables touch our hearts, especially the parables of ‘The Good Samaritan’ and ‘The Prodigal Son.’ All these stories teach us how to lead a spiritual life. Jesus taught us how to get rid of the obstacles in our spiritual path, mainly attachment. That is why, when a devotee said he would join Lord Jesus after burying his dead father, He replied, “Follow me and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”14 When we follow the Lord, our highest priority is serving Him and His mission.
Similarly, when a wealthy man wanted to follow Christ, He said, “Sell what all you have and follow me,” which the man was not ready to do. Jesus said, “Choose between God and mammon. You cannot serve two masters.” He also said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”15 In a similar vein, Bhagawan Baba has said, “Mine is a single-seat sofa,” “You cannot serve two masters,” and “You need to give the highest priority to God.”
Jesus Christ gave an inspiring sermon from the top of a mountain called the ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ which includes the ‘Beatitudes.’ These are fundamental spiritual teachings, and I want to touch on a selected few.
One of His notable sayings is, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”16 Our limitation is that we do not see God because of our impurities, which is why Swami said, “Don’t seek God but see God.” Since everything is God, we should see God in every atom, cell, and moment. To do this, first, we need to get rid of our impurities. The impurities are the six inner enemies: desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride, and jealousy. Once we are pure, we can clearly see and experience God. That is why, Swami said, “Purity is enlightenment.”
Another important teaching of Christ is, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”17 Everyone needs peace in this world where there is so much hatred, unrest, conflict, and confrontation. Swami beautifully revealed the solution, “When there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in character. When there is beauty in character, there is harmony at home. When there is harmony at home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.” To establish peace, one should follow the path of righteousness. That is why Lord Jesus and Lord Sai both promoted peace through love and righteousness. It is the peacemakers who are the true children of God.
In another Beatitude, Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”18 He urges us to be like a child; not childish, but childlike, which means that when we have no ego and we are innocent and pure like a child, we can enter the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,”19 Jesus proclaimed. Everyone, whether a saint or a sinner, rich or poor, king or pauper, goes through pain, challenges, and difficulties. When we go through these adversities, our character improves. If we have the right attitude and consider everything as the will of the Lord, God will comfort us, and although we may still encounter pain, we will not suffer.
Jesus extolled right conduct, saying, “Blessed are those who hunger after righteousness, for they shall be fulfilled.”20 Swami says, “Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah” (Dharma protects those who follow the path of Dharma). For spiritual seekers, it is essential to walk on the path of Dharma or righteousness. Swami also says, “Righteousness is love in action.”
The next Beatitude of Jesus is, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”21 Jesus was always full of compassion, and our Swami also said, “The heart with compassion is the temple of God.” Compassion toward all people is a noble virtue. When we are compassionate, God also showers His grace and compassion on us.
Another notable Beatitude of Jesus is, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”22 When we walk along the righteous path and do good, there may still be obstacles, and people may criticize and persecute us. But when we exercise forbearance and accept it as His will, the kingdom of heaven is ours, and the Lord will be pleased and shower His grace and blessings on us.
The next Beatitude gives us practical guidance on the spiritual path, “Blessed are those who are slandered for the sake of God, for great is their reward in heaven.”23 In life, we will likely face criticism, and even the Avatars, Lord Krishna, Shirdi Sai, and Sathya Sai, were criticized during their lifetime. These Avatars embodied love, but people still reviled them and found fault with them. The lesson is for us to take criticism with equanimity and faith, believing that our reward will be higher in heaven, as taught by Lord Jesus. Swami has said, "If you criticize or abuse anyone, all that will come back to you. The world is nothing but reaction, reflection, and resound. Whatever you do will come back to you and nothing else. This is the divine law.” Hence, let us welcome criticism and not be affected by it; let us face it all with a smile and be relaxed and calm. Smiling is the best answer to negativity and criticism.
Practice Divine Love
The practice of divine love is the underlying principle of all the commandments and teachings of Jesus, including the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. Jesus showed by example the three stages of spiritual progress. In the first stage, He said, “I am the messenger of God.” In the early stages of spiritual practice, when we have body consciousness, we think we are the servants of God. We perform service and feel “we are the messengers of God.”
Then as we progress, we get purified more and more and sincerely practice His teachings. In this second stage, Jesus said, “I am the Son of God.” We arrive at a stage where we experience being part of God, where He is our father, and we have compassion and love just like the father, Lord Jesus, or Lord Sai.
In the final stage, Christ declared, “I and my Father are one.” We realize we are one with God and assert our Godhead because we know we are the embodiment of divine love, and we see no difference between God and ourselves. These are the various stages in spiritual life. In Sanathana Dharma, the first stage is called Dvaita (dualism), where we are separate from the Lord. Then as we evolve, the next stage is Viśishtādvaita (qualified dualism), where we think we are part of God. The final stage is Advaita (non-dualism), where we experience everything as divine. Swami said, “The best way to celebrate Christmas is by sincerely following the teachings of Jesus and making our life His message.”
Jai Sai Ram.
- Luke 2:29-30
- John 8:7
- John 8:11
- Matthew 7:3
- Matthew 18:22
- Luke 23:34
- Matthew 5:43-48
- Matthew 6:3
- Luke 20:45-21:4, NIV
- Mark 12:30-1
- John 13:14-5
- Matthew 16:18
- Matthew 8:10
- Matthew 8:22
- Matthew 19:24
- Matthew 5:8
- Matthew 5:9
- Matthew 5:3
- Matthew 5:4
- Matthew 5:6
- Matthew 5:7
- Matthew 5:10
- Matthew 5:116