Sathya Sai - The Eternal Companion (Volume 1 Issue 3, May 2022)
HAPPINESS is Union with God
Embodiments of Love! The more one loves one’s fellow beings, the greater would be the Bliss that one enjoys. The more you love others, the happier you would be. Therefore, if you wish to be constantly happy, you must always love all. Love is the royal path to God. The best way to God is to love all and serve all. This is the lesson that Buddha taught humanity..
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, May 21, 2000
The Taitreya Upanishad declares that God is Raso vai sah – God is bliss! Man, having come from God, is also an embodiment of bliss. But man has been on an eternal quest for happiness even though it is his very nature. It is like a musk deer searching for the source of fragrance outside when it is emanating from its own body. Why is that happiness always eluding man? Because man has forgotten his real nature due to the out-going mind. We are looking for happiness in all the wrong places – seeking happiness in our relations with people, places, and worldly objects, forgetting the treasure that is in our very nature and within us.
The great masters and Avatars come amidst us to remind us of our true nature and show us the pathway to bliss. Baba says, “happiness is union with God”. In many discourses and writings, He has clearly shown us the way to love and bliss. He says that we are caught up in this world bewitching maya in the pursuit of wealth, sense enjoyment, and material pleasures, forgetting our true nature. He showed us that the solution lies in going inward rather than going outward, sadhana — the inward path. His very name, SAI BABA implores us to See Always Inside, and then we will find Being Awareness Bliss Atma.
This bliss, as described in the Taitreya Upanishad is many-fold (1018), quintillion times greater than ordinary happiness. A unit of ordinary happiness is called Manushyananda, which is the joy experienced by an intelligent, handsome, young man of noble character who has all the wealth and power in the world and a long life. But this happiness is evanescent and as Swami says, pleasure is an interval between two pains”. There are many higher levels of happiness expounded in the Taitreya Upanishad – the ultimate being Brahmananda, which is many, many times greater than Manushyananda. That is why the Upanishads declare, “Yatho vacho nivartante aprapya manasa saha” (something that cannot be expressed in words or comprehended by the ordinary mind).
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Sloka 22, “Yam labdhva cha aparam labham” (having attained which, there is nothing more to obtain) – and having been established in which, even the greatest affliction will not perturb the one who has attained this state. This is a state of unending bliss, not tinged with worldly sorrow.
How to be Happy?
But how do we attain that state of happiness? Swami has shown us the way. The Kathopanishad says, the one who turns his mind and senses inwards is the real hero! Baba has prescribed the three-fold path, w-w-w (not the one commonly known as world wide web) – which represents Work-Worship-Wisdom. The first path consists of Work or Karma Yoga, which is loving selfless service without attachment to the results. The second is Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion, developing absolute faith and pure love for God and His creation. Finally, the third path is Jnana Yoga – the path of wisdom, where we dwell into our true nature by the method of Self-inquiry.
There are many great masters, like Lord Buddha, who have shown ways for everlasting bliss and cessation of suffering. Buddha, an embodiment of love, compassion, and sacrifice, incarnated around 500 BC. He was born a prince named Siddhartha and realized everything, including the luxurious royal life, was only temporary (kshanikum), and this world is full of suffering (dukha). He saw that all beings are afflicted by birth, old age, sickness, suffering and death – and understood that life is impermanent and fraught with suffering. Therefore, he resolved to find a solution to end suffering and attain unalloyed and permanent bliss.
Lord Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Sloka 9, discusses the qualification of a jnani (enlightened person): “Janma mrityu jara vyadhi dukha doshanu darshanam” – that life is fraught with birth, sickness, old age, and death; hence, the wise strive to rise above this state and attain everlasting bliss.Prince Siddhartha, after renouncing His kingdom and family life, did intense search, penance, and deep meditation for several years in search of truth. He attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya on Vaisakhi Poornima day. Prince Siddhartha became Buddha — ‘the enlightened one.’
The Middle Path
In His love and compassion for humanity, He shared the ‘Noble truths’ and the way to Nirvana with everyone. Buddha declared that the answer lies in taking the middle path – neither sense indulgence nor self-mortification. One should have moderation in food intake, sleep, and recreation to be happy. Overindulgence in sense-gratification or extreme deprivation will both lead to suffering.
Desire—Cause of suffering
Lord Buddha gave the gift of the Four Noble Truths to all humanity. He said the world is full of suffering (dukha), and the root cause for suffering is desire (thrishna). Lord Krishna, in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Sloka 62, proclaims how desire leads to a chain of events and bad consequences. Interest in sense objects leads to desire, and desire leads to anger, then anger leads to delusion, and finally, delusion leads to perdition.
Lord Buddha proclaimed that following the eight-fold path is the way to end suffering. He emphasized that one should develop right vision (samyak drishti), right thinking (samyak sankalpa), right speech (samyak vak), right action (samyak karma), right living, (samyak jeevanam), right effort (samyak vyayama), right mindfulness (samyak sathi), and right concentration or meditation (samyak samadhi). This will lead us to Nirvana, which is the attainment of a state of bliss, and liberation from bondage and grief. Having attained this state, one does not aspire for anything else.
Swami summarizes this spiritual journey beautifully by saying that we need to purify our hearts by overcoming the six inner enemies – desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride, and jealousy – by simply practicing the five fundamental human values: truth, right conduct, peace, love, and nonviolence. Then we become pure, and we are in touch with our true nature. Then, there is no more doubt, depression, anxiety, or fear. This will take us beyond physical and mental afflictions, and we are happy transcending body-mind consciousness.
Light of Wisdom Ends Ignorance
An important concept in Vedanta is that the root cause of all suffering is darkness of ignorance. The moment the light of knowledge appears, that very instant, all suffering ceases. This is beautifully described in Vedanta by an allegory. In darkness, we may see a rope and mistake it for a snake, which causes anxiety, fear, and even palpitations and sweating. But the minute light is shone, we realize that it is not a snake, but only a rope, and instantaneously all fear and anxiety are dispelled, because we now know the truth.
Similarly in Buddhism, in the doctrine of dependent origination, Buddha talks about the 12 nidanas, or 12 links. The root cause of suffering is avidya (ignorance), the first link in the chain, and after all the links the cycle ends in the final and 12th link - jara and marana (old age and death). But very notably, like the Vedantic concept, the minute avidya is dispelled, all the other links also collapse right away – meaning that suffering ends instantaneously. Thus, the concept is beautifully similar both in Vedanta and Buddhism.
Easwaramma—The Chosen Mother
Mother Easwaramma – The Chosen Mother, exemplified how to lead a simple, happy, and peaceful life. She lived a life full of love, compassion and sacrifice. She always thought about the welfare of others first and wanted to make everyone around her happy by sharing her love and selflessly serving them. She was a cheerful woman who radiated joy to everyone.
When she saw the dire conditions and suffering in her community, she appealed to Swami on behalf of humanity for free education, free healthcare, and free drinking water. Swami fulfilled all three of her wishes. The sincere, selfless, and simple wishes of the Chosen Mother paved the way for gigantic humanitarian projects all over the world.
Mother Easwaramma was an exemplary devotee who lived an ideal life. Her love for God was clearly demonstrated when she breathed her last, uttering the name of Lord Sai. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that whoever leaves the body thinking about Him at the last moment of life becomes one with Him (becomes enlightened).
Let us follow the teachings of Lord Buddha and Lord Sai and by their grace attain enlightenment and bliss in this very lifetime.
Jai Sai Ram.