Study Circle

7/8/2018 – “Self Confidence” – Session 4

Self confidence is the growing conviction that we are not just the body and mind and that “love” or “soul” is the Self. Examining Swami’s framework more closely, we see that only on attaining Self Realization, we actually abide in the Self.

We discussed Swami’s saying – “where there is confidence there is Love”. Swami is an example of that Supreme Confidence and Love, that drew us and millions, to Prasanthi Nilayam. We briefly touched upon, the Bhagawad Gita. It was Arjuna’s nature to assess and analyze, before he began an activity (i.e. foresight/ forethought) which Bhagawan says, made him deserve the Gita upadesh or discourse. Arjuna and his quandary, on the battle field, with Krishna by his side, will help us understand how to develop Self Confidence.

7/1/2018 – “Self Confidence” – Session 3

We continued discussing Bhagawan’s framework for Self Confidence and how it leads to Self Satisfaction, Sacrifice and Realization. For new members, we revisited the lives of Buddha and Sri Ramana and how their lives were good examples of confidence, in the true Self. We spoke about how that Self Satisfaction manifests in “Self Actualized” individuals, making them playful, relaxed and calm, having understood true self. Bhagawan spending time with primary school children, while ashram authorities were waiting anxiously for Him to see an important leader, is a beautiful example. Bhagawan spending time with students during the run-up to the hospital opening, is another.

We will talk about how “Arjuna Vishada Yoga”, in the Bhagawad Gita shows us the way to develop true Self Confidence.

6/17/2018 “Self Confidence” – Session 2

Self confidence is a fascinating theme. Bhagawan’s very unique framework, that has Self Confidence as the foundation for the edifice of the mansion, called, “Self-Realization”, is very powerful. Confidence in the true Self, or the Divine Soul (Atma) can transform and goes beyond psychological and management descriptions, applied merely for mundane success. 

Sri Ramana Maharishi’s quest for Arunachala, Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the Parliament of World Religions are inspiring examples. One with Self confidence, alone, can have true Faith. Self confidence empowers one to Action, based on Faith in the Ideal or the Guru.

6/10/2018 – New Theme – “Self Confidence – ATMA VISHWAS”

We began a new theme, that is highly relevant. Self Confidence or ATMA VISHWAS, is the foundation for Life. We generally associate it with: (1)  “self assurance through repeated performance of a task/efficacy in a task” and (2) resurgence from failure as seen in the lives of more visible leaders of corporations, science, music and art.

We also discussed Maslow’s Hierarchy or needs (deficiency needs) framework that focuses on society, family, peers and colleagues feeding their basic needs. As we move up the pyramid however, the needs become more subtle, less certain but more impactful. Self Actualization is the state of highest fulfillment, rather than achievement.

According to Bhagawan, it is unfortunate that we reduce it to gaining success in ordinary worldly pursuits alone. Consider Bhagawan’s announcement of the SSS Hospital in 1991- the task was truly daunting. Where did HE get the self confidence, to make such an announcement? Stemming from Divine Will, Confidence takes the form of selflessness, of compassion and is truly exemplary!Self confidence should be viewed in the context of Knowledge of the Spirit.

We will undertake an exercise on this theme, during the next session.

4/29/2018 – Concluding this theme.

We concluded the theme by doing a deep dive into three aspects of Bhagawan’s Life, namely: Mysticism, His Aura and His Mudras. I am not detailing them here because I am providing access to the entire presentation we have covered over the course of the last few months. Loving Sairam and Thanks!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1brxiod8VSPnuhAHk2kqCRJ3ZpNWlpZCv/view?usp=sharing

During the next Study Circle session, as I announced, I request each of you to share some thoughts on the key sub themes we have discussed on this major theme. A sub theme is Characteristics of the Exalted Beings, Their Mysticism, reason for Incarnation etc..(refer the presentation). I am requesting each one to jot down a few points on 3-4 sub themes. Thanks in advance!

4/8/2018 – Diving further into key aspects of the Divine Beings

We did a recap of the material shared so far. Then we proceeded to the concept of “Guru’s Grace” that has actually already acted on our lives and brought us to Bhagawan! We spoke about the ways, methods and leelas of the Shirdi Sai Avatar and Sathya Sai Advent. Several anecdotes from Baba’s interaction with students reveal His Love and compassion and also, the miraculous nature. The demonstrate extraordinary compassion by taking upon their own Divine Body, the suffering of their beloved devotees. Baba’s illness during Guru Poornima of 1963, actually became the reason to disclose to the world, the three incarnations in the Bharadwaj Gotra. Next, the theme of “Mysticism” was introduced and will be described during the next session. Sairam!

3/25/2018Advent (Birth) of the Great Beings

Avatars are not born, through ordinary union of parents. Baba asked Mother Eswaramma to share how His birth (described as Pravesa – immaculate conception) came to be in response to a question from one, Rama Sarma. We traced Mother Eswaramma’s evolution from doting and concerned mother to staunch devotee. 

3/18/2018 – Great Power and Illusion

We continued discussing the theme “Sathya Sai Baba as Guide, Guru and Goal.” We read an extract from Bhagawan’s Discourse that explains, how He had to limit His powers to incarnate amongst men. Also, as a police officer try to nab thieves, He comes in the disguise of a thief. The concept of “Mahaashakti” or great power and “Mayaashakthi” or Illusory Power were discussed. I shared certain public incidents that show Bhagawan’s phenomenal power. We discussed a question regarding why devotees still have doubts. The fact is that we (devotees) have a mind that may create doubt. We need to be alert, and identify with the Heart, rather than with more superficial thoughts, in the mind, so that we can retain our connection with Bhagawan.

3/11/2018 – Loving Understanding and Great Guidance

During this weeks study circle, we discussed the 16 kalas (aspects) of Purna (Full or complete) Avatars or exalted beings. They participate in everyday activities as ordinary people. This make it imperative for sincere devotees, to be alert to catch the glimpses of Divinity, that they show – such as Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence. Several examples of Bhagawan’s love, understanding of human nature and selflessness observed as a Sai student were shared. It is important that we connect with the Divine. Whether we are drawn, initially, for relief from an illness or other reason, is immaterial. Further, it is clear that the devotees of Swami, were chosen by Him. We should remember that His Advent, was a solidification of the yearning of sincere aspirants (i.e all of us).

3/04/2018 – Primary Consciousness and Desireless Desire

We continued our discussion on the theme of God As Man. We discussed the rare event of incarnation of such exalted beings who are aware of their identity as “Primary Consciousness”, their selflessness, indomitable spirit despite challenges and commitment to inspiring their followers. Relevant events from the lives of Jesus Christ, Sri Rama, and Bhagawan were narrated to demonstrate their exemplary lives.

The concept of “Desireless Desire” was revisited with examples. In the next session, we will discuss the reason for incarnation and the prophecies that signal the advent of Bhagawan Baba.

2/25/2018

The Study Circle began a new theme – God as Man. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as Guide, Guru and Goal.

The first section focus on THE AVATAR : We spoke about the fact that theologians argue about whether God is Transcendent or Immanent. The Vedas declare he is Immanent while being Transcendent. God incarnates when His Dear ones hit a new low – that is why we are witnessing the three Avatars – Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai and Prema Sai, to come!

Emperor Akbar too wondered how it was that the Hindus believed that their God would Himself incarnate- could He not send His deputies? Birbal proves the point to him in a novel way.

During the next session we will discuss how to recognize the Avatar.

1/14/2018

This session focused on “Managing the Mind”, building on Bhagawan’s directives to:

(a) Regular cleaning of the Mind, (b) Turning the Mind towards God (c) Rendering the Mind Objectless. We spoke of the above in the context of the characteristics of the Mind we studied in the last few sessions. As managing the mind is no mean task, Grace of the Lord, attained through deep prayer is a recommended method.

In the next session, we encourage members to come forward to share their insights based on the discussions we have had, on this theme. Sairam!

1/7/2018

With Bhagwan’s Grace the study circle members reconvened after a long gap, to continue discussing the characteristics of the Mind. Bhagwan’s concept of ” Materialization – Vibration – Radiation” and about 15 different characteristics such as ” Operates through the senses”, “tends to seek  self gain and dwell in the past or the future” “Engages in planning and mental chatter” were discussed. Bhagwan’s concept of “CIA” or ” Constant Integrated Awareness” was introduced. Many examples from Bhagwan’s life and actions were presented to show how He operated from beyond the “Body – Mind”construct. Turning the mind to focus on the Atman, is a major “shift” that we should try to achieve with utmost sincerity.

On the following Sunday, the discussion will focus on ways to “Manage the Mind” through Awareness of the Breath, Cleansing the mind, Turning it toward God. Jai Sai Ram!

11/05/17 – Guidance to Western Devotees on the Mind

We revisited  the characteristics of the mind, namely, “planning” and “mental chatter” and discussed some questions from the group. We also spoke of how Bhagawan operated from a different plane beyond the mind. His universal vision and selflessness are exemplary and His help to us, devotees, through His Life and teachings are most valuable.

We discussed Bhagawan’s guidance to Western devotees on how the Mind uses the senses to compare with external environment and this again becomes a trigger for mental chatter and planning. 

Bhagawan also explains that the Mind goes out to grasp thoughts and that they are material. In the next session, we will focus on Bhagawan’s prescription on how we can, “Manage the Mind”.

Please see the entire compilation for this topic at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oUd3bbsRF32hXFxL8iwhAqArL_kYb9QhUAizg8M5JOU/edit

10/29/17 – “Body is like a Water bubble”, ” Mind is like a Mad Monkey”

Bhagawan says – “Body is like a water bubble” and “Mind is like a Mad Monkey”. We tried to understand the import of this insight from Bhagawan.

According to Bhagawan, two characteristics of the Mind “Aalochana” or “Planning” and  Sambhashana or “mental chatter” are constant, even unrelenting, especially, during stressful situations. We discussed this and agreed to observe the “mental chatter” during periods such as driving, eating our food and taking a shower, when the vacant mind, often times,  surfaces its hidden agenda.

In the next session, we will dive deep into Swamiji’s guidance on another characteristic of the Mind, namely Comparison and read how He guided Western devotees in this regard!

Topic: Master the Mind – Be a Master Mind 
 

The session focused entirely on discussing Quotes from Bhagawan’s writings such as Sandeha Nivarini and Discourses, with a view to understand the Divine teachings and apply them in our lives so we can achieve the objective of: Managing the Mind which is truly a difficult task, but is critical as spiritual aspirants.

The first session, focused on understanding the ” Antahkarana” or the Inner Equipment we’ve been endowed with. These include – the Mind, Consciousness, the Intellect and the Atma (Soul). We also discussed Bhagawan’s statements describing how these four, react to outer objects and circumstances, throwing a cover over clear vision, achieving their own work and pulling man away from Inner peace.

We then discussed how the Mind is the “thinking aspect of the Absolute consciousness” and is derived from it. We also discussed the “vrittis” or activities that characterize the mind. The Mind is always unsteady and constantly flitting from one object to another.

Based on these we made points around the fact that this concept of “Mine” is conjured up by the mind, for objects, people unknown until yesterday. Using examples from real life we discussed how attraction to objects can derail your objective or goal, as the Mind gets attracted suddenly through a sense organ.

Conviction that control of outer events is possible drives us to fret and spend energy in that direction, while the mature aspirant knows that action is necessary while events are not in anyone’s control. The judgemental nature of the Mind, makes it stand in judgement f God too. Bhagawan Divinized everything and is beyond context, while the Mind constantly judges and contextualizes things.

There was discussion on the senses, questions around whether or not this is a very depressive view of the world.

The next session may focus on Characteristics of the mind – mainly Sambhashana (Mental Chatter) and Aalochana (Planning).