Spiritual Stirrings for the Soul

"Describe Spirituality in one line Swami", said one of the boys during a group interview with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - my Guru and God.
Swami coolly replied, "Love All, Serve All". Ah! What a disappointment we felt. This was the oft repeated quote of Bhagawan and then we just continued with our conversation. However, this definition of spirituality by Swami often made me think whether it is so simple. To be honest, it pretty much throws out of the window all the ritualistic approach and devotional mayhem that people tend to create in different religions cloaking them under the garb of 'Spirituality' when actually the term has nothing to do with lighting the lamp, waving camphor, controlling the breath or attending sermons and visits to the mosques, churches or temples.
Wow! If all that isn't about being spiritual, what is? - Love All, Serve All?
Sant Eknath giving water to the donkey
Recently, I visited Prashanti Nilayam, Puttaparthi for Gurupoornima, where the Mahasamadhi of Bhagawan lies at the very place where Bhagawan would sit and chat with us for long hours. As I bowed down and saw the words engraved "Love All Serve All", I remembered that day when Swami said this to us in an interview. It struck me like a ton of bricks. Isn't this the way Swami lived all his life whilst He was in that body? Wasn't it that He was demonstrating true Spirituality to us all through like how the Physical Instructor would show how exercises are done? And more importantly, isn't this what we are supposed to be doing as His followers, believers or admirers?
But this is easier said than done. It is difficult for us to practice Loving all, leave alone Serving all. For, to love all we need to have deep compassion and not indifference. Let me narrate a story to illustrate this:
One day, the great saint Eknath was on his way to Kashi with water from the Holy Ganges in his kamandalu (small pot). He was supposed to offer it to the Lord Vishwanatha (Siva) at Kashi. However, on his way he found an old donkey lying on the roadside about to die, with its tongue out. Eknath immediately took the kamandalu and offered the holy water to the donkey. The donkey survived. Eknath was ridiculed by the bystanders and members of his troupe alike. They all said that he wasted the golden opportunity he had, to offer the holy water to Lord Vishwanatha by pouring it into the mouth of the donkey. Eknath replied that his Lord Vishwanatha was present in the donkey and had accepted his offering through the donkey. When the others laughed at him, Eknath signalled to the donkey and it started chanting the Vedas to the wonder and amazement of all present. Loving all means to have compassion for all.
The story impressed me on two counts - one that to have that kind of Divine love for all, there has to be a deep conviction that the Divine exists in all alike. And the other is that mere knowing is not enough. One should have the courage to go by that conviction and act out of compassion. For, compassion without action is useless.
Coming back to the topic on spirituality, what is true spirituality? Is it the act of worshipping the stone Linga with holy water or is it quenching the thirst of a living being? Perhaps both are significant. But the love that one has should express itself in service - whether it is to the stone idol or to a fellow being. Swami showed us the way by being the perfect example to emulate.
Swami came down as the Guru to dispel our inveterate idiosyncrasies and to shed light on what true spirituality meant. Spirituality minus the Spirit will only become ritual. Spirit + ritual = Spiritual.
However, it is unfortunate that today mere ritual is being misconstrued as spiritual. If one has to grow spiritually, one has to walk the path of Loving all and serving all. However, this is no cakewalk. For, the reality is that one cannot actually love all and serve all without feeling oneness with all. But, our first baby steps in that direction have to be to start working for the welfare of society and being more tolerant and loving towards all. As Swami says, we cannot always oblige but we can speak always obligingly.
You should have tears in your eyes
when you chant Samastha Lokaah
I remember one day as Aarati finished and the customary "Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu" was chanted thrice, Swami looked at me, walked straight to me and said, "Dunnapotha, kallalo neellu raavali raa adi cheptunte" - meaning 'you should have tears in your eyes when you are praying for the welfare of all the worlds'. That is the feeling with which you must chant. I was taken aback. But, on deep thought I understood the import of what Swami was doing. He was teaching me what true spirituality is all about. That the love with which you would wish good for your dearest one is the kind of love you should have for all whilst you pray for everyone's welfare. I was following ritual. Swami was showing me what was spiritual.
It is our great good fortune that we had the Sadguru to guide us on every step and show us the inner meaning of every act. He showed us the spirit behind every ritual so that we may rise someday to Love All and Serve All - so that He may stir our souls with the spoon of spirituality and so that we may drink deep of His Love and translate it into Service.
Jai Sairam

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great post! Please post more such lessons. Thank you.
CS.Bala said…
Very good thoughts... truely speaking tonns of Bhagawans love for all beings. You are really making technology in its best use . Swamy bless u.
Unknown said…
A wonderful post !! Thanks for sharing it ...Sai Ram !

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