Sai Labor Day Retreat 2015
Silver Falls, September 25th - 27th 2015
Theme: LIVING WITH THE OMNIPRESENT SAI
Speakers: Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan (Panch) and Dr. Soumya Panchanathan
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I humbly dedicate these notes to the lotus feet of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, give abundant thanks to Him for aiding me with the note-taking, and hope my small part in the transcribing of them does justice to the wonderful weekend He orchestrated for us all in Silver Falls.
As part of the preceding service we had several Thoughts for the Day. Here are two: the destiny of the seed cannot be seen by the microscope. It is useful to be reminded that science is limited. And: the magnetic energy leads the electric energy. (the magnetic energy is the female energy, and the electric, the male, so this is interesting, since it is usually seen the other way round.)
Dr. Panchanathan Vice-President at Arizona State University
Dr. Soumya Panchanathan, Paediatrician
First of all, by way of some background, Panch introduced himself as someone who speaks loudly and forcefully in order to get attention, and this was to be counterbalanced, he informed us, by the soft-spoken, gentle approach of his wife, Dr. Soumya.
However, Panch had not been speaking for long before we realized we had a first rate comedian up front, and that he not only had our attention by his direct and projected style of speaking but also by his wit and humor. It was not long before all of us were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, laughing hilariously at his predicaments (usually at the hands of Swami) but also very grateful for his willingness to be so honest about himself.
Spirituality, Panch told us, is serious, but we do not have to make ourselves serious in the process. There is always room for humor!
Panch began by reminding us that Swami wants us to get out into the community. Every time someone talks about Swami, he told us, we get energized; each one of us has our own story and relationship with Swami. There is no difference between us – love and affection is the same. So what are Swami's lessons that He gives us through our experiences? These talks are reminders of these lessons. Visiting with Swami in these retreats and talks is just intensifying the fact that we were already living with the Omnipresent Sai. We were not super-blessed by having personal talks with Swami in P.N. We are all blessed. We are all fortunate to be alive at this time when Swami has been alive on this planet. Don't be fooled by feeling you have not had personal contact. All of this is great – reading about him, etc. But He came here to transform us so that we become worthy instruments every moment of our lives. So do not get distracted by what you hear. Be grateful for our experiences. So I and my wife have not received special experiences.
You might ask how I came to know Swami? My maternal grandfather was convinced that Swami was/is the Aatar of the Age. My cousins and I all went to our grandfather's home for the summer vacation. In the mornings he made us sit and sing bhajans for an hour. We had to sit and contain our energy, which just wanted be up and outside, playing, for a whole hour! Every summer we had this experience. And he took us for a picnic every year to Whitefield, where we went by train. When we were much older, one of my cousins, whom I had grown close to, became very ill and died at the age of 18 years. My prayers to cure him had not worked. So, I became detached from Swami. Thus, the introduction by my grandfather came to an end. And my group of new friends at college all thought Swami was just a magician, a fraud. I had no more attachment to Swami.
One day my mother asked me in Chennai to go and sing bhajans in the temple. I did not want the girls to see me doing bhajans. But she kept pestering me. However, my thoughts were on the theme: What is God? Who is God? And Who is Swami? Typical scientists' questions, and I am a student of science. I test. I had a small picture of Swami. I know God means good and good means God. I said to myself: I will perform an experiment. I will be good, starting tomorrow and see what happens. I looked at the picture of Swami and said: 'the contract is in process.' On the 4th day there was vibhuthi on the picture. So, I told my mother I would go to bhajans. While I was there, singing bhajans in Swami's ashram, Swami came up to me and said: 'bhajans is not enough; I want service to man.' You give Swami an inch and He takes a mile! My mother asked me to teach science and math to the slum children. This was really a lesson, a workshop for me! My sister gave me a book by Howard Murphet to read on the train journey from Calcutta to Chennai. I did bhajans on the train. Silently. People looking at me must have thought me mad. Swami asked me a question (on the train): Are you going to do what you're supposed to do?' I went to the bathroom. When I returned there was a pile of vibhuthi on His picture. So, I thought, 'He knows everything I am thinking. I better be careful!' Then I had a dream: 'Come and see Me in Puttaparthi,' Swami told me. Panch had read in a book (perhaps Murphet's) of the Rainbow Man, and he had been fascinated with this story. Apparently, a rainbow had appeared, in the story, in a clear blue sky with no clouds or moisture in it. At that moment Panch looked out of the train window and saw a huge, clear rainbow in the clear blue sky. There were no conditions for a rainbow, no clouds, no moisture, no water droplets. He felt it was not possible, it was an illusion; he did not believe it! It was defying science. Science was his world, his foundation. He began looking for signs of water everywhere, leaning out of the train window. He even began praying for water, anything of a wet nature, and finally, he begged 'spit, someone, spit, please; make this rainbow explainable.' Apparently no-one spat, and no-one threw a mug of water out of the window. As a scientist he was rocked, shocked!
And the rainbow lasted for 10 minutes. 'This really shook me. He knows all my thoughts, and He is working with me.' I told my mum. She said: 'This is really good!' Two weeks later a friend told me he was going to Puttaparthi, and asked me if I wanted to go with him. So, remembering that dream, when He told me to 'come and see Me in Puttaparthi', I went with a group of friends. Then Swami came walking towards me in in the ashram (not in darshan), and I was very interested in the hair of this person, who I had never seen before. After he had passed me, I looked back and he had vanished. Panch by this time is more and more intrigued by Swami. Later he was speaking to a group of students in P.N., and he prayed to Swami to give him the words for his talk. Swami told him: when you recite the three Oms, you are really reciting: Omnipresence, Omniscience, Omnipotence. This shows Swami's compassion – he showed me What is God, Who is God and Who is Swami.' And with that Panch wrapped up his first talk with us. 'And now my wife will speak and she does not get excited like me. She is Yin!'
Most people's stories is the story of 'how I came back to Swami'.
How does Swami communicate with us? I came to Swami when I was 12 years, because I was becoming rebellious, and my family thought it advisable to take me to see Swami. My father thought: I really wish I could see a miracle. Three or four months after this we had a call from our center (in Ohio) at 6.30 am. 'Can you come here?' we were asked. The wife of our Sai brother who had called had had a dream in which Swami had said 'I want to give you some golden raisins!' She washed her hands and He put a raisin in her mouth and 4 raisins in her wet hands. She woke up and found she had a raisin in her mouth, and in her wet hands 4 raisins.
Shortly after this incident we went to P.N, where we had an interview. Swami told us we were spending too much money, and the parents giving the children too much (Soumya, remember, is 12 yrs. at this time.) Swami asked my brother what he was spending his money on – in detail. Then Swami told him, it is not the amount you spend that is important; it is your attitude to what you are spending and your attention to it. Then Swami turned to me. “You have your eye on someone in your class (a boy).”' Soumya told us she was so embarrassed she only wanted the earth to open and swallow her up. She did not know where to look. The Swami told her “All are brothers before marriage.” 'We came out of the interview, and people were telling us how lucky we were to have had an interview. I was thinking quite the contrary, and praying for no more interviews! I then understood from my family that they had not heard that interchange between Swami and myself. His reprimand had been quiet and private, and for my ears only. From that I learnt that our little decisions either take us away from Swami or towards Him. So, when I returned home, I decided to go towards Swami. If you make a small change you can change the trajectory of your life.
Eventually, I started medical school in Ohio. After 5 ½ years I asked Swami if I could go to his college, ”Yes, I have a place in Anantapur prepared for you – in the college and the hostel.” But I had also gained admission for further studies in Canada. I went to Kasturi. He gave me a book in which I read: what come to you is yours; what you chase after is not yours. I decided to cling to His feet. Then I had a dream, in which Swami told me: “If you want to please Me, quit medicine.” I could not believe He was telling me to quit medicine after 5 ½ years of studies. If I quit I would be back as a student just having finished high school. She quit! My parents understood (they had been devotees of Swami for a long time). We Indians all want our children to be professionals; none of them wants their child to be a saint. So, I quit! Then I went to the principal and told him, “my guru has told me to quit.”' The principal could not believe what she was saying, and asked her if she would like to take leave of absence. “No.” 'Then I wait. Nothing happened. My brother asked Swami if I had been mistaken, had I heard Him correctly in the dream. “Yes, I told her to quit,” He confirmed. I had 3 months in limbo. Then we go to Puttaparthi. Swami ignores us. Then one day, in darshan, He was passing by me, and He stopped and said, “Oh, have you finished your studies?”' Confused Soumya replied, “You told me to quit.” “Would I ever say that?” said Swami. “Now you go back and finish!” And then to her mother Swami said, “What speciality is she in?” “Cardiology,” replied her mother. “Oh, pediatrics; nice!” said Swami. “No, Swami, cardiology,” repeated her mother. “Oh, pediatrics. Very nice!” repeated Swami. Soumya told us, 'I had to go back to the dean of my college and ask for readmission. He of course was astounded and confused. Swami, Soumya told us, 'never wants us to feel safe in life. We must jump in life; with only Swami's safety net to protect us! The dean then told Soumya that the college wanted 'a letter from someone in your religion saying that this is normal'. There was no-one in our Sai center who was qualified to make that assertion. Then they found someone who wrote to the college: 'The guru in Hinduism is the authority over the worldly life, as well as the spiritual. This girl is a seeker.' That had the desired effect. But then Soumya had to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. She was deemed potentially unstable, and as she would be prescribing medications the profession had to be sure of her reliability and sanity. 'So, now I am a pediatrician! Why did Swami do this? He was smart! Every time I think of this story, I realize one more thing. 1) You develop courage and self-confidence when you walk alone. 2) You develop a relationship with Swami.
'My father passed away last year. His relationship with Swami influenced me. After they had spent most of their lives in Canada as doctors, my parents decided to return to India to serve the poor. My father at this time had an ulcer. He asked Swami in a letter for signs. He was told, yes, get off the US medicines. And he was given a sign to return to India (where there are no such medications for ulcers). They returned to India. The pain resumed. Then a telegram arrived from her brother in Ontario, Canada, saying: 'Swami has been inquiring about your health; ''all is well,'' He says.' Then they discovered that there was a P.O. strike in Ontario, so how did the telegram get transmitted? And it would have had to go through Andhra Pradesh. But in AP there was no facility for processing a telegram because there was rioting. The telegram also read: 'Come back in 5 years. I am building a hospital in Puttaparthi'. This was in 1989. So, how was the telegram sent from Canada, who processed it in AP, when all government offices would have been closed, and who delivered it?
Soumya's parents returned to Canada. And some years later returned to India for the weddings of Soumya and her brother. Earlier, Soumya had been told by Swami to marry Panch, perhaps by Swami personally, perhaps in a dream again, perhaps it was a sign. However, Soumya felt she would rather make up her own mind. She told Swami: Dear Swami, I do not want to marry this guy and then have You tell me to quit. I think I had better make up my own mind on this matter!
Now her parents were in India again. Not forgetting Swami's promise to them (that they could work in India for the poor), they told themselves that they would 'wait for our work for 6 weeks. But on one condition: that our house has a flush toilet.' Her father was a cardiologist and her mother an internist. Then word came: they were asked to go to a hospital. While there, they were shown 'their' house. It was huge and with flush toilets! My parents had the two grandmothers and an elderly aunt come live them, and they looked after the house. My parents worked there for 9 years. Everything they had learned about medicine had to be relearned, because of the rural environment. Then Swami shook thing up. This is Swami's way of making you change; he moves you, makes you jump! He told them to give in their notice at the hospital, which they did, and then they moved to Swami's new hospitable, for the next phase of their work. 'I want the Canadian doctors to start work,' Swami had said.
In October my father was climbing a hill to the hospital and collapsed. Swami, when told, replied 'Dr. Who?' Then He said, 'Today I am going to show you what a mother's love is like.' He went to the hospital 'just for you.' He materialized vibhuthi and put it in a glass of water and fed it to my father. 'It is not heart,' Swami told him, 'it's just stomach.' Then, later, my father developed Parkinson's. My parents prayed: 'please don't send us to Kodai Kanal (in the Nilgiri Hills); we're not in good shape. Swami told Soumya's mother to go and work in the hospital alone. Naturally, she was worried about leaving her husband. 'You think you are looking after him?' said Swami. He wants us to know that if He says you leave and go, then we must. He assured her someone else would be found to do the duties she was doing in looking after her husband. You take it as Prasadam, and just do His will. So her mother was sent to Whitefield hospital, and for a long time. Then Swami sent her back, and she saw that her husband was fine! So, we are all dispensable!
Swami told my mum to come along to Prasanthi Nilayam, and also told my father not to pick her up in a taxi. 'I'll send My car.' Swami's car came for my mum. It was just a small car. Swami knew she always travelled light; if she had not his car could not have been used.
It is not enough to just give a sari; it must be something the receiver will like; it must be the correct color, and it must be one she has not already got. From this we learn that we must give attention to detail.
My brother in law was here last week, He had been to P.N. Behind him in darshan there was a man from Chicago. Swami had spoken to him as coming from New York. 'Swami is out of form today,' thought the brother in law. But it turned out that the man was in a play some time ago, playing a character from New York. You see, we have a time line, but He has a time line also; His is the omnipresent calendar!
We must learn patience, so that we can get something unimaginable, not pray for paltry boons. Everyone of us is blessed.
Question: What if we are not on the right path? How do we know we are on the right path?
Soumya: If you are not completely sure you walking your path with the right attitude, pray, and He will guide you, give you signals. It is attitude. There is no right answer as to what is right. He wants you to do both – do the right thing and with the right attitude. Then things will open up and become very clear. And challenges will never be too much.
Something you are chasing hard after and it does not work out – leave it; it is not meant for you. But we must always make a big effort in whatever we are doing.
To students, I say: Never compromise on excellence. Swami was the person of excellence! Aim for excellence not an A+. Then, if you have aimed for excellence and you get a B you will be satisfied. Excellence, Discipline, Hard work. People with these three skills are always very successful and happy. Intellect alone is not enough. Be happy; that is the yard stick. This kind of success is happiness.
Take your bad thoughts and introduce good thoughts and service activities. These then lead to purity.
We should all be able to have this conversation with Him all the time. He's available all the time. He never says anything that is not significant. He communicates in many ways – conversations, dreams, signs or through other people, and not necessarily good people. We must not shut His communications off because of our prejudices, hang ups, etc.
We use words to describe; He uses words to create. His life is His message, so we too are creating, e.g. if we complain, then there will be plenty to complain about.
Work is worship. Duty is God. Do your duty.
When we do our duty, then In-formation leads to Trans-formation. Information is only in formation, i.e. no transformation. (This is profound.) Transformation of information is always happening, but without real transformation. Swami says: I want My work to be a transformation – to transform people.
A professor must teach, research, and do service. Work becomes worship when it is unselfish, about others. My work in the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing means I work at developing technology that enables the blind to see.
Swami, on materializing a gift for someone, had trouble tying the strap on the man's wrist. 'I can materialize the watch, but it takes time to put the clip on!'
God knows everything about us, but pretends He doesn't know. Man, on the other hand knows nothing, but pretends he knows everything!
The only thing we have to do is to yearn to do Swami's work. Then He will clear the path. We have to have the faith; if the path is not cleared then it means we do not have the faith.
The power of Swami's help is only manifested when the person is deserving.
David Haydon (a graduate student of Panch's) wanted to serve. David came to Panch telling him that although people did not know he was blind, he was in fact legally blind. He told Panch, that even though he was clever at computing, he was not going to even get his PhD. let alone serve, because he just could not see the board of the lecturers he was taking classes with. 'I have no idea what the professors are talking about,' he said, ' because I cannot see their illustrating equations on the board. I am lost. Can you help me?' Panch thought, and then told David, 'I can arrange some things, David, for you to help yourself; I cannot help; you are the only one who can help yourself.' Panch then arranged a meeting in their tech laboratory with other graduate students and lecturers. There was a brainstorming session, which proved the turning point for David. He went away, and had soon designed a camera which sat on his desk photographing and magnifying everything on the board in the lectures. The camera then relayed these images onto an attached screen, which David could read perfectly. Then David divided the screen in half, and on the blank half he typed in notes for himself. He then went on to win an Arizona State competition for computing, then he won the US national competition, then finally he won the world competition! David said: 'I want to change the world through the right use of technology.' He also says, 'I may be legally blind, but I have nothing to complain about.' This sort of thing pleases Swami. Swami is here to remove our blindness. Our challenges are only here to change our attitudes, to learn.
Panch then wanted to carry his work into centers for the blind. He called the number of a woman who coordinated activities and learning tools for the blind. He was going nowhere in his conversation with her, and had the feeling that he was just one more of a great number of hopeful 'servers' that she had to deal with, and who did not in fact have anything of use to offer. Then he had an inspiration: 'You know, Susan,' he said, 'my wife and I go down to the center for the homeless every Saturday morning, and participate in serving breakfast to them.' He had said something magic. 'Oh are you Sai Baba devotees?' she asked. From then on Panch and Susan were working together on technology for the blind.
You can try everything and not succeed, then you have no choice but to call on Him.
If you pray selflessly, I will manifest for you. (the Servant)
Then Panch told us a story about a colleague of his in the same department. The department had hired a new member of faculty. Panch had the idea of creating some exciting work for him, but it would require money – a federal grant. He contacted a colleague in the department, and put the idea to him. The colleague replied non-committally, saying he would think about it. Some time later, Panch e-mailed him again, telling him there was not much time left for the proposal to be submitted. The colleague wrote that he was very busy traveling, but would attend to it on his return. No word from him. Panch e-mailed again, pointing out that the deadline was very near. The next day Panch received an e-mail from his colleague, telling him he had thought about it, was enthusiastic about the idea, but that he would make the proposal on his own, without the input of Panch. (Panch was actually senior to this man in the department.) Panch was so angry. He replayed his anger to us, acting it out in a very dramatic way, and had us in stitches. He was going 'get the guy', he was going to do all sorts of things to him! Soumya, at home, told him to sleep on it. The next day he went into work, still very angry and upset. He prayed fervently to Swami, holding onto His feet, to be able to deal with the situation properly. But the internal argument continued. He prayed again. 'Don't let me send this e-mail, Swami. It is not the right thing to do, but I am so near to doing it.'' Suddenly, he was swept with the most beautiful calm. He no longer felt the anger; he felt only peace. He typed out an e-mail: 'Geoff, I have thought about this, and I think you will do a very good job with the proposal on your own. Good luck.' And sent it off. Then a nasty thought occurred to him: it would be quite possible to read the message as one of sarcasm. I will have to go and see him, he thought, to assure Geoff (not his real name) I mean it sincerely. He went down the corridor to Geoff's office. The secretary told Panch Geoff was just winding up a meeting with another individual. Geoff caught sight of Panch in the secretary's office, and obviously was dismayed. He remained in his meeting a long time, trying to prolong it. Panch just waited – a long time, and patiently. Finally Geoff came out of the meeting and invited Panch into his office. He was clearly very nervous. Then Panch congratulated him sincerely, and wished him luck. Geoff perceived the good will very clearly, and was instantly overcome with shame. He went to his desk, sat down and covered his face with his hands, saying 'Oh, Panch, what have I done?' Then he asked Panch if he would come and have a cup of coffee with him in the canteen. The upshot was that the proposal was written by them both (giving it weight), very fast, made the deadline, and the funds were granted!
But Panch had something important to say about this incident. Perhaps the writing of the proposal was the least important of what had really happened. Perhaps the proposal had merely been a catalyst for change in both of them. Panch had learned to transform his anger, and Geoff had realized his sin and had sought forgiveness. They had both evolved!
We are all instruments, said Panch. Our job is to be in tune, so that the Divine Musician can play.
We must get up every morning, close our eyes, and imagine we are the guitar, and pray that our anger is in tune, that our greed is in tune, that our lust for things is in tune, etc. You have to let Me tune you.
We must be hollow, like the flute; that means no ego. The holes are absence of anger, lust, greed, hate, etc. Other people too are instruments for your personal transformation.
Let us be grateful for our purpose!
Soumya then asked us to make 3 lists of i) our work ii) our service activities iii) our enjoyment activities. Then she asked us to draw 3 large circles, representing these activities, all intersecting each other. In each one we entered the corresponding activities. We soon found that some activities fell into the two intersections, and a few fell into the intersection of all three circles. To have all our activities fall into that one intersection is the aim of life. We must bring excellence into our service, Soumya told us. And we should enjoy what we do. The place we start at is Intent. Look at your attitude. Step back from yourself. Then you will find yourself being led to a place of joy, of giving and sharing. Think of one activity and make it an offering to Swami, e.g. excellence in a piece of work, unselfish service, and then enjoyment where we really have fun. He gives us everything, and we still think we're doing it!
Sunday, September 27th
To begin, as a warm-up, Panch reminded us that we communicate with Swami by Inner Dialogue. He urged us to have faith, to be upright persons, to get rid of desires and to carry no baggage, no hang-ups; recognize distractions for what they are; see your worries as our modern 'wireless' – always there in the background, but something we do not have to plug into. 'Now, relax,' he invited, 'and come with me on the Flight of Self-realization!'
When we get an inner teaching, she told us, we often do not understand it. To get closer to this understanding, she reminded us that Swami has taught us to 'revere your mother as God; revere your father as God.' Find something you admire about your mother; find something you admire about your father. Think of something your mother told you, and you have found it to be true; think of something your father told you, and it is true. She told us the story of The Man and the Island. There was once a man who discovered a beautiful island. He decided to build a few roads across it, perhaps so that people could access and appreciate its beauty. He told a few people of his plan, and they were pleased, especially the farmer, the ice-cream vendor, the carpenter, the teacher, the housewife, etc. However, he was so overjoyed to be on his vacation beside the ocean on a warm, sandy beach, that he remained there all that time, and it was a long vacation (perhaps he was French!), swimming in the sea and playing on the sand. And he did not hear all the reminders from the people, like the ice-cream vendor, who were waiting for him to execute his plan and build some roads. When the time came for him to leave, he realized he had not made a start on his plans at all. He came several years, and each year was the same. He played, he did not work, did not begin on his idea, even though there were many people telling him to work on his plan. At the end of many years, he sadly recognized what he had done; he had been neglectful and lazy; he had not achieved an important work, not carried through an intention, not created something which may not have been all that difficult. This is like us, Dr. Soumya told us. All the people who were reminding him of his plan, and urging him to effect it are like our parents and teachers. Their voices are there within us, but we ignore them. 'Don't waste time,' Swami tells us.
And 'Don't waste Food!' Eating food without gratitude is wasting it. While eating, think of the life of the plant, the work of animals and man all of which have gone into putting this food on your plate. They have all served you. Be grateful. And serve others. Do not worry about leaving food on your plate, Swami says, i.e. do not overeat.
Soumya then told us a personal story. She had bought a bunch of grapes and saw one grape was a little withered. She was about to discard it, when she suddenly felt the pain of the vine for the rejection of one of her children. So she did not pluck off that withered grape.
Most people feel that fasting enables a more efficient connection with God. It is the other way, Soumya told us. When you are connected to God, you do not feel like eating – or sleeping.
Don't waste money! Be careful, thoughtful in how you spend your money.
Love. How to love your spouse. Be in Love with your spouse, Swami has said. By that He means: occupy a state of selfless love, and from that space send out love to your spouse. So that it is rather like two little watering cans sending out fountains of love to each other.
Every day play with and for your children.
Make your prime aim, says Swami, Love, and then make your work the instrument for love. So, said Soumya, my prime aim is love of the patient, and my work as a doctor is my instrument; as a mother, my work is the cooking for my children (and husband), and the disciplining of them.
Time Management She used examples from Steven Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Many people think they do not have time to do sadhana; they complete all their tasks and find the day has gone. No sadhana has been done. Now take a glass of water and a big rock, some small pebbles (work, duties, etc.) and sand (some entertainment). The big rock represents sadhana; this is the most important, but the thing that does not fit into the glass - the hours of the day - at the end of the day. Put in the sand and the pebbles and the glass becomes full or almost, with no room left for the big rock. So, executed in this way there is indeed not enough time for sadhana. But if you put in the big rock first, the sadhana, then the pebbles and then lastly the sand, all will fit in very well. Do sadhana first, when you're fresh, and then Swami will fit everything else in; that is the magic rock.
'You do My work, and I'll do yours.' You have the desire to do Swami's work. It is important for you. If you do, Swami will work for you. And don't make the rock bigger than it is; it is a magic rock!
The desire to help has a lot of obstacles.
1. Your mood or inner state. To overcome this, look for opportunities to help; do not go round with a castor-oil face. You do not have to be serious to be spiritual. This approach leads to happiness in us and in others.
2. 'I will help if I feel close to the other person,' e.g. family. Do not have equations, balance sheets. The cause of an undesirable inner state is attachments.
3. Should I help? He is rich, he has more than me; he does not need my help. Be careful of judgement, pride/ego, jealousy, indifference. Our help should not be based on what they have, but on what they need. (I, your writer, saw this statement today: Some people are so poor they only have money)
4. History. They have helped me, so to square the balance sheet I must help them. This is the balance sheet again, not selfless service.
Being a Child of God.
If we are children of God, should we continue to be asking for an easy or pleasant life? Instead, look around, and do His work. Now, since Swami has left His body, we must do things for Swami. Jesus said first of all: I am a servant of God, implying payment. Next, he said: I am a son of God, i.e. he is not paid, but is rewarded with love.
The 6th sense
We are beings of pure light and love and we need to share it. Soumya had an experience of being in the Light, being of the Light. This experience lasted for two weeks. She felt happy, soft and disciplined; all contradictions resolved themselves.
When you re-read the discourses, you read them with a higher perspective.
Break things down into bite sizes. e.g. Help ever, hurt never. Love all, serve all. Duty is God, do your duty. Work is Worship. The End of Education is Character (real transformation). At these retreats, said Soumya, I want to help so much, so I create such situations.
Panch: my happiness is tied to making others happy (he certainly does that with his humor!) And then our happiness quotient goes higher. Joy is happiness from the heart, happiness is only from the head. 'Thank you' is often just from the lips; it must come from the heart. Real gratitude has a huge impact. Are you all happy? Yes? Then I am happy! Dance, then Swami will dance with you. Maintain your intensity and faith in Swami!
Panch then gave us a wonderful analogy to illustrate what free will is. Imagine you are the designer of a video game that you have created for your son; you can go this way or that and your son is playing it and he takes a wrong turning. But you don't interfere unless he asks for your guidance. In just this way Swami watches us playing this game of life and He enjoys it!
Strive for Excellence, hard work, discipline.
Competitiveness is not wrong. Compete with yourself. When you strive for excellence and you get back your mark of B+, that is excellent! Someone else may get an A, but your mark is still excellent! Theirs may not be.
Ego and Anger. Sometimes you need ego and anger, e.g. in correcting a child you need to show your anger, and although it is pretend anger, it feels like the real thing to the child. Expand yourself – by being interested in others. You have to be aware of your environment, then you can help. For example, Panch came across a man in the airport, who was distressed because he was not going to be able to get to the connecting terminal in time to catch the second plane. Panch called his wife who was waiting in the cell-phone waiting are. She arrived on the kerbside. Both men got into the car, and Soumya sped off to that terminal, where the man was then in good time for his flight.
Detachment – not requiring anyone else to give you love, recognition, etc. Then you are truly free! And wherever you go you will give love.
I believe everyone who listened to Panch and Soumya came away extremely grateful for their ability, their confidence, to make this whole weekend vibrate with true learning, enjoyment, genuine fun, and a renewing of our connection with Swami. I think we were all delighted that Panch was so willing to carry the shadow, to enact (and so hilariously), how angry we can all feel sometimes, to put these impediments out there without shame, but as things we are all called upon to deal with, all of the time, as they are part of our make-up. He helped us not only by successfully dealing with them, but also by showing us how funny they really are!