This is a very personal post. Read this at your own risk but please don't ridicule my beliefs. I am trusting you to honor what I am writing here as you would if I were a part of your family. On this understanding, I seek your permission to begin.
Close your eyes and imagine a place on earth where thousands and thousands of human beings radiate bliss, love and peace. Actually, it is hard to imagine such a place even with your eyes closed. For me, it isn't that difficult. From the year 1987, I have lived in such an atmosphere and been nourished by the tremendous power of divine love and energy, not of a miracle man alone but of every human being out there. Believe it or not, when thousands and thousands of people gather together in a spirit of unconditional love, the energy and radiance all around such a place can make impossible things happen just by the volume of it.
Maybe I am not talking sense because you need to visit Puttaparthi to believe that this place is for real. People as ordinary as you and me come here to experience this love that transforms everything into sheer positive energy that makes it possible for you to transform yourself into someone irrevocably divine. People as extraordinary as Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Rajnikanth etc pray at Puttaparthi for the same reason.
In December 2008, I spent Christmas and New Year at Puttaparthi with my parents, my husband and my son. It was a magical time for us, not just because of the physical presence of Swami (called as Sri Sathya Sai Baba) but the tremendous energy of pure love that seemed to emanate from thousands and thousands of devotees. What made this journey truly amazing and out of the world was that world famous musicians performed their best, artistic pieces (vocal and instrumental) and dedicated it Sri Sathya Sai Baba because He inspired their compositions. I can relate to this because some of the best things I have done in my life are because of His directions.
Anyway, after December 2008, I made an unexpected trip to Puttaparthi this October 2010, that too on the very same evening when the whole country was under frightening communal tension due to the much awaited verdict on the Ayodhya issue. The railway station was almost empty, except for many policemen and staff. News about communal tensions in Bangalore had circulated like crazy. There was talk about attacks on trains too. Placing our faith in Swami, we undertook the journey as planned. We reached safely.
Staying in Puttaparthi is an experience that is difficult to narrate to those who have not visited the place. The spirit of discipline and service is evident in every little thing that is done here. Right conduct and simple living are a part of one's daily life and not relegated to dusty books on Mahatma Gandhi. This trip took me back to many beautiful memories, particularly of the Sai teachings, that I had got a little rusty about.
Most importantly, after seeing and praying in Puttaparthi, I felt inspired by divine will to practice some of Swami's most profound teachings and have started taking baby steps :
1. Share your knowledge with others for the benefit of the society and expect nothing in return. Pay your debt to God by right conduct and service to the society. Dedicate your thoughts and actions to God.
2. Learn to be sympathetic to situations involving others. First understand, then make adjustments, decide the course of action based on discrimination and enquiry.
3. Do not judge others critically. Find an opportunity to love those who hurt you. Let go of the past. Live in the present. Be happy for your own sake.
4. Do not waste food, time, money, electricity, water and other resources.
This is just a start but once I started working on these simple things, I realized that they are not simple at all. Without knowing, I realize I waste a lot of things because I am not aware of having wasted at all. The teachings I am working on now sound easy but they are tough things to work on because they clutter up a big chunk of my daily routine in a way that makes me feel more stressed, tensed and angry by the end of the day.
I am a selfish person but I want to be better as a human being. I believe there is always some scope for improvement in life by making one's conduct better. But to work on conduct, one has to work on the quality of thoughts too. When your thoughts take you in one direction, your actions follow the same direction too. Needless to say, action gives rise to implications and reactions. So, if our actions are not harmonious, the rest is history, isn't it?
If I don't start becoming the change that I want to be now, I will waste a lifetime not doing the things I want to or working on the beliefs I claim to revere. After all, devotion is not a part time job, something that you do only when you are praying and then when you finish prayers, you do the exact opposite. As a person, I don't want to be that anymore.
You don't have to agree with my beliefs but you can encourage me to continue my sincere efforts. I wish and pray that He will smile with a little bit of pride that the time-wasting, workaholic plus shopaholic (thats me!) is finally undergoing a gradual but real change.
The hard work has just begun. Worse, it's just a tip of the iceberg. Time's running out. My vows shouldn't.