In the late 1990s, in an interview, Swami said to me, “In Thailand, the Buddhists think I am just a monk.” Of course, we devotees know that Swami is not a monk. He is much more than a monk. He is the Primeval Buddha(Adi-Buddha). In this article, I would like to share with you the universal message of Gautama Buddha in light of Swami’s teachings. 

At one time, Swami asked me, “What is the highest knowledge?” I replied, “Practical knowledge.” He then probed deeper, “How do you get to practical knowledge?” And He offered the answer as well, “By discrimination.” Buddhi is discrimination. Buddha only imparts buddhi in order to remove ignorance.  I heard that Swami had said to a Buddhist devotee, “Buddha is my gift to the world.” So, I repeated this quote in His Divine presence in my talk during Buddha Poornima celebration, and Swami graciously acknowledged it.

Whenever an Avatar (Divine Incarnation) comes, He gives new insights to ancient teachings and scriptures, making them simple and easy to understand.

If you look deeper into the teachings of the Buddha, as expounded by Swami, another consistent theme emerges. Here is a Buddhist prayer which Swami explained beautifully. Buddham Sharanam Gacchami and continued with Dharmam Sharanam Gacchami, and Sangham Sharanam Gacchami. But Swami had the order differently. He said that Buddha declared first, Buddham Sharanam Gacchami; meaning, I take refuge in buddhi, intellect, or discrimination. Then He said later, in the second stage, if discrimination is at an individual level, it often tends to be selfish. Swami said, the Buddha later declared the second stage, Sangham Sharanam Gacchami; meaning let me take refuge in society, in the sangham, in the community.

On another occasion, I asked, “Swami, how can we change or transform the mind?” Being a psychiatrist, I was eager to hear His answer, because nobody has given me a satisfactory answer to the question. Swami looked at me quietly, kind of innocently, and said, “It is very simple. It is very simple — by discrimination.” And then He added, “But it has to be fundamental discrimination, not individual discrimination.” Individual discrimination is whether something is good for me or not.  Whereas fundamental discrimination according to Swami, is whether it is for the good of all, good for society. Only when you have fundamental discrimination will you be able to transform the mind. That's how He explained this point.

Once He told me to practice detachment. I still remember that I thought at the time that He meant, by giving up attachment to the world. I thought that I am not ready to do that yet. As if reading my thoughts, He said “No, no, no! Detachment is ‘deep attachment to God;’ ‘De – tachment’ means deep attachment to God.” And then He said, “What is attachment? Attachment is detachment from God.” It's very simple, but at the same time, very profound.

Swami loved to tell the stories of Buddha, especially about how Buddha was abused and the lessons He taught by His responses to the abuses.
Number one, when Buddha was abused, He did not react or accept it. Swami narrated the story about Buddha going to a village, where He was abused by the villagers since they disliked Him. Buddha in turn would only smile at hearing the abuses and asked them, “If a beggar comes seeking alms from you, and you offer food, but the beggar refuses to accept the food, to whom does the food belong? The villagers acknowledged that it would remain with the giver. Then Buddha said, “The same thing happens to all the abuses hurled toward Me. I do not accept them. So where do they go? They will remain with you. They return to the abuser.”

This is the first response of Buddha, and this is so prevalent in today’s world of social media. Having been a Minister for five years, I have experienced this so many times in social media. So, my first response is that I do not read the chatter in social media, and that I stopped seeing them to keep my sanity. When people say bad things, one should not accept it. Then it goes back to the people who say them. This is the first response. 

The second response is what Swami often illustrated with another story of Buddha. He said that at one time Buddha was sitting under the Bodhi tree and His disciples were seated around and praising Him. But other people were also gathered, who were abusive toward Him saying bad things about Him. Again, Buddha’s response was a gentle smile. The disciples on the other hand were irate and wanted to beat up the abusers. But Buddha forbade them and said not to resort to violence and told them, “Just as you get joy by praising Me they too get joy and satisfaction by abusing Me. Thus, both sides are getting joy. I have been given the opportunity to serve by giving joy to all of you.”

As Swami says, whenever somebody says bad things about you — number one, do not accept it, and number two, you should rejoice knowing that you are actually making them happy and giving them satisfaction. This means that you have the opportunity to do seva (service). The third response is very deep, and at the spiritual level. If you analyze this situation, the first response arises from the physical (worldly) level, and the second response is coming from the mental level.


The Buddha says the abuser and the abused persons are one and the same. They all have the same essence of Divinity. They are all God, and therefore nobody can abuse another person, because all are one.

When you change your perspective, you will recognize that the third response comes from the understanding and ultimate realization that we are all one. The Buddha says the abuser and the abused persons are one and the same. They all have the same essence of Divinity. They are all God, and therefore nobody can abuse another person, because all are one. There is no other. This is Swami's favorite teaching on the Buddha.

Swami said in a way that encapsulates the essence of the Buddha’s teaching and His teaching for us in two simple terms, “We should have peace within and love without.” The essence of Buddham Sharanam Gacchami, Sangham Sharanam Gacchami, and Dharmam Sharanam Gacchami can be summarized as peace within and love without, just as He summarized all the Vedas (scriptures) in a few profound words —

"Help Ever, Hurt Never"

When we sing Buddham Sharanam Gacchami, we always end with Sayeesha Sharanam Gacchami, we take refuge in Sai!

Sai Ram.


Dr. Teerakiat Jareonsattasin (Judo)


About the Author:

Dr. Teerakiat Jareonsattasin is a long-time devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He was a Central Coordinator of the SSSIO in the late 1990s. He is presently the President of the Sathya Sai Foundation, Thailand.

A medical doctor by training, Dr. Teerakiat Jareonsattasin worked as a Child Psychiatrist in the UK. In 2016 he was appointed as the Minister of Education, Thailand. He received the Royal Decoration: ‘Knight Grand Cordon of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand’ in 2021. He was the ‘Gusi Peace Prize Laureate’ in 2019, which is a prestigious award for distinguished contributions to public service. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate in computer engineering.



First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 1, Iss. 3