Shri Datta Swami

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If a student surrenders his life for God, will God compensate him with an excellent school life?

Posted on: 19 Nov 2018
O Learned and Devoted Servants of God,

Ms. Arsha asked: Why can’t a student surrender his entire life time for the divine purpose? As you have mentioned in one of your recent discourses that, the leisure time which is used by a student for his entertainment can be used for focusing in spirituality i.e., in reading spiritual knowledge. But the divine knowledge is such a vast and valuable treasure which should be given enough time, rather than a 30 minute leisure period. So if a student surrenders his life including his school time and play time in God's work then will he be compensated with an excellent school life? If he spends his time with his own liking and interest in God and his knowledge will he be given good results in his school?

Is it important to spend time for school as well? Because I feel school work is very boring, knowledge of God is really different and interesting. So will it be fine if i spend minimum time for school?

Swami replied: The most important part of spiritual knowledge is to realize that we are not God originally. After that, it is important to study the personality of God. This means we should study how He behaves with us, in response to our behavior with Him. Our behavior is based on our worldly qualities (Durgunas), while God’s behavior reveals His divine qualities (Kalyaana gunas). Studying His behavior towards us, we can know whether God is pleased or displeased with us. But for this purpose, a clear understanding of spiritual knowledge is necessary.

Studying spiritual knowledge is only a side-activity for a normal worldly soul. We know very well that we are just normal worldly souls. Our worldly duties are tied to our worldly fascinations. Since studying spiritual knowledge takes up some time and effort, which could interfere with our worldly duties, we can only treat that spiritual study as a side-activity. Here we are not discussing about the special souls, who are born here with a lot of divine background for the sake of working in divine programmes. Such souls can be counted on the fingers. Hence, this message is for the majority of humanity, which is trying to develop spiritually in life. This message is not meant for those scholastic special souls, who do not require any instructions. This message is also not required for souls at the other extreme, who are totally absorbed in their worldly fascinations alone. Effort is not necessary for the souls who have already succeeded and also for the souls who do not have even the slightest possibility of success.

Keeping Arjuna as a representative of these middle-path souls, God preached the Gita to him. Such souls are said to be eligible (karmaadhikaarii) for the introduction of spiritual knowledge in controlled quantities, without affecting their worldly life. This path should be followed by the preacher especially when the receiver is a student working hard to get settled in his worldly life in the future. Settlement in worldly life is very important for normal souls like us since we are not those climax devotees. For the climax devotees, God takes up the responsibility of even their worldly life. Hence, we should concentrate completely on the aspect of getting settled in our worldly life in the future. This settlement in worldly life is the basic stage for our future spiritual development.

The only problem is that we do not know how long we will live. So, it is better to start the effort for getting spiritual knowledge from childhood itself. It can be done in a way that does not interfere with our efforts of getting established in our worldly life in the future. Hence, spiritual knowledge can be taken as a limited side-activity. That way, it will not disturb our main worldly effort. We can thus study spiritual knowledge only in our leisure time. In any case, even if we do not take up this spiritual activity, we are sure to take up some other worldly activity in our leisure time.

Any activity taken up for leisure must be totally different from the main activity that we do. Only then can it provide the change that we need. If the leisure activity is also like the main activity, we get bored. Spiritual activity is related to the unimaginable Domain. The main worldly activity is related to the imaginable domain. Hence, the spiritual activity, which alone is totally different from the main worldly activity, is the best leisure activity. Besides, since this spiritual activity is done only as a leisure activity, which is inevitable in any case, there is not even a trace of damage to the main worldly activity. All other worldly leisure activities like watching worldly movies, reading worldly books, and engaging in worldly gossip are not as good. They too are worldly, like the main activity, and hence, they cannot provide us with as much of a change as the spiritual activity.

Until the soul gets settled in worldly life, limiting the study of spiritual knowledge to one’s leisure time is appropriate. After settlement in worldly life, one must make this spiritual activity as the main activity internally. Externally, the worldly activity can continue, but it might not need too much effort. This is because, after gaining a lot of experience and skill throughout one’s life, one can maintain the worldly activity, as much as necessary, with minimum effort. After retirement from worldly activity, one should make the spiritual activity as one’s total activity. At this stage, one should detach from the worldly activity internally as well as externally. The leisure-time activity discussed above, should not be confused with sports and physical exercise, which are essential for sound physical health, which in turn is related to mental health. Physical exercise is essential throughout one’s life since a sound mind in a sound body is very essential for any activity, be it worldly or spiritual.

The point raised by you about God protecting you in your worldly life, in case you are more involved in spiritual activity, is a very critical question. It needs a lot of explanation, which is given below and is to be understood carefully by you. It is a multi-dimensional question. I can simply give its answer through the following song sung often by Bhagavaan Shri Satya Sai Baba in His divine discourses:

“O mind! Don’t aspire for any fruit in return from God;

As you aspire, the fruit goes down more and more,

So, if you don’t aspire for it, He gives it to you at once,

And know that He is omnipotent to give any fruit”.

 

Spiritual knowledge means (i) knowing the details of the personality of God, (ii) knowing that the soul is not God and (iii) knowing the real path by which God will be really pleased. Once you know that you are not God, there will be interest to know about God about whom several people in this world are speaking. Then, you should also inquire about the path to please God since He is omnipotent and if He is pleased, He can give anything to anyone at any time and at any place.

The human being passes through different stages in life called as Ashramas. In the first stage, the person concentrates on education, which enables him to earn his living throughout his life. This stage is called Brahmacarya. In the second stage, he starts earning and establishes himself in professional life, which also enables him to have a family. This is the stage of the householder or Gruhastha. In the third stage, the person is established in his professional and family life well-enough that he has sufficient leisure time to concentrate on God. This third stage is called Vaanaprastha. In the fourth stage, the person retires from his profession as well as from his duties towards his family. In this stage, he does the work of propagation of spiritual knowledge to uplift others in the world. This stage is called Samnyaasa. This is the normal course of the life of a normal human being in present times.

There are deviations from this normal course in the case of some human beings and the deviations may be towards the wrong side or the right side. The deviation to the wrong side means not developing an interest in God at any stage, and being involved in worldly life alone, till one’s death. The deviation to the right side means getting more and more interested in God and concentrating more and more on spiritual life. There is no stipulated time or stage as mentioned above when one develops an interest in God. Any human being may develop an interest in God at any time. Generally, such interest comes due to a spiritual inclination in the person owing to the soul having led a spiritual life in the previous birth. A person may also develop an interest in God due to a congenial atmosphere around the soul, given to him by the grace of God. That congenial atmosphere around the soul is granted based on the soul’s spiritual life in the previous birth. This congenial spiritual atmosphere around the soul can include spiritual family members or other people outside the family who influence the soul positively. In any case, getting such a congenial spiritual atmosphere is indeed the greatest fortune of the soul.

When the soul develops interest and attachment to God, it naturally brings detachment from worldly bonds. No soul should try for worldly detachment directly. It is not only impossible, but it is also a total waste. The detachment from the world should come indirectly due to the attachment to God. Some people are afraid that attachment to God might lead to detachment from the world, which in turn would result in a materialistic loss. Nobody should have this false fear since the power with which the world attracts the soul is unimaginable! It is like a person avoiding divine nectar as much as possible, fearing that the attachment to the divine nectar might result in the detachment from ordinary food. Here, divine nectar is like God’s grace and the food is like worldly life. The person is under the false impression that he will actually attain the divine nectar as soon as he develops interest and attachment to it! Developing interest in the Divine Nectar (God) itself is very difficult in the opposing atmosphere of the world. Even if the interest in the Divine Nectar is born, it is very difficult for it to grow in the negative worldly atmosphere. The Veda says that both spiritual and worldly atmospheres are opposite to each other (Duuramete vipariite Vishuuchii). Even if a person’s interest in the Divine Nectar (God) grows, it is very difficult for the person to stand firm in his attachment to It. It is even more difficult to cross all hurdles on the way and finally attain the Divine Nectar.

Older people know all these practical difficulties and hence are never worried even if their children develop an interest in God. In fact, parents encourage their children to worship God. They know very well that a mere interest in God will not result in attaining the ultimate grace of God, which could spoil their worldly life. Instead, due to their children’s devotion to the omnipotent God, He will help the children in every walk of their worldly lives! The Veda says that the attainment of the grace of God alone results in the spontaneous detachment from the world (Yadahareva virajet tadahareva pravrajet). This statement means that as soon as you get theoretical detachment from the world (virajet) due to attachment to God (bhakti), you will naturally detach from the world practically (pravrajet). But we see that in the world, this rule fails. We see many people who have developed attachment (devotion) to God. Not only do they show theoretical devotion to God in the form of prayers, meditation and devotional songs, but they also show practical devotion, in the form of service and sacrifice. Yet, the natural consequent detachment from the world is not seen in them. When even theoretical detachment from the world is not seen, practical detachment from the world is out of the question! Why does this rule from the Veda fail practically in the case of devoted human beings? The reason lies in the fundamental step, which is developing an interest or theoretical attachment to God.

The fundamental reason is that people’s devotion is contaminated with the aspiration for worldly fruits from God in return for their devotion. They may be devoted to God, in both theory and practice, but it is only due to their aspiration for getting worldly fruits from God. The theoretical and practical devotion developed by these devotees is not due to real love for God. It is due to their real love for the worldly fruits, which they expect as boons from God. A plant dies if you introduce poison through water poured at its root. Similarly, the real theoretical and practical devotion dies due to the aspiration for worldly fruits in return from God, which is introduced at the root-level of developing an interest in God.

True spiritual knowledge can help you identify this main problem due to which your devotion fails to please God. The safest path is to learn spiritual knowledge and prevent the problem from arising before developing devotion to God. One should eliminate the tendency to use God as an instrument for attaining our worldly goals and ambitions. The devotion to God that will then develop will be free of aspiration. This is the best and easiest option. It is the defensive approach for protecting ourselves from the attack of the virus of worldly ambition.

The second option is treating the devotees, who have already been infected by the virus of the aspiration for attaining their worldly ambitions from God in return for their devotion. In the case of such infected patients, the treatment is complicated and it takes some time to cure the disease. It is a psychological disease and hence, careful handling of the patient is needed.

The first line of treatment is to initially allow the devotees’ worldly aspirations in the hope that in due course of time, they will be able to overcome the aspirations and develop real devotion for God. It is essential to play along with the person for some time just as you have to run along with a powerful running bull for some time before you can control it. Following this approach, God responds to the prayers and worship of devotees who have desires for worldly fruits as boons from God. The Veda also reveals formal sacrifices as paths to attain heavenly boons from God. These Vedic sacrifices essentially involve prayers to God along with the distribution of cooked food to devotees. Shankara has clarified that the Veda, by prescribing these formal sacrifices, does not induce the desire for the boons in the devotees. It only provides a path to fulfilling the desires of the devotees who already have the desires for the boons. The treatment does not induce the disease in the patient; it only aims to cure the patient! In the course of time, the devotee is expected to develop some real devotion for God. When the devotee sees that God has always been by his side and has helped him in fulfilling his worldly desires, he can develop some real love for God, which is beyond the aspiration for worldly fruits. Experiencing the greatness and kindness of God, he may realize that the eternal God should not be used as an instrument for attaining temporary worldly fruits (Naastyakrutah kruteneti—Veda). This is the sign of the cure.

In some cases, as the desires get fulfilled, more desires flare up and the unreal devotion to God for the sake of getting boons continues. It means that the first line of treatment has been ineffective. Then the second line of treatment is started. This treatment takes an offensive approach. God acts shrewdly in giving boons. Boons are the fruits of a person’s good deeds in order to encourage their good deeds. Conversely, worldly difficulties and illnesses are the fruits of sinful deeds. They are punishments to discourage sin. When these souls demand for undeserved boons in the present, God merely draws some reward, which they were supposed to enjoy in the future and grants it to them in the form of a boon in the present. This premature withdrawal of the soul’s good fruits leads to a loss in the value of the fruit. Similarly, when such devotees pray for their present difficulties to be removed, God merely postpones these punishments for the souls’ sins, to the future with increased interest. Thus, in this second offensive line of treatment, God ensures that even if the souls do not get cured of the disease of worldly ambition, neither He nor His constitution is exploited by these souls at any time.

There are two categories of souls who need this second line of treatment to cure their worldly ambition. The worst category of souls try to get practical boons from God in exchange for their theoretical devotion to Him. They only worship God through verbal and mental forms of worship such as prayers, meditation, and singing of devotional songs. Yet they expect practical boons from Him in the form of health, wealth and protection. Such devotion is the worst kind of devotion and is called as prostitution-devotion. A slightly better form of devotion is to try to get practical boons from God in exchange for their practical devotion to Him. In other words, apart from theoretical devotion the devotee practically donates some money for God, but expects much more in return. This is called business-devotion. Both prostitution-devotion and business-devotion are forms of unreal devotion. In both forms, the devotee’s real devotion is only for the worldly fruits and not for God at all!

The best-possible devotion available in the world is issue-devotion, which is the devotion to God as a parent is devoted to his or her child. Parents not only love their issues theoretically but they also practically serve their child and sacrifice the fruit of their work (money) to their issues. The practical devotion is the proof of their theoretical devotion to their children. Their theoretical and practical devotion to their children is free from the aspiration for any fruit in return from the children. The parents continue their practical devotion even if their children behave badly with them. At the most, the parents may scold their children for behaving badly with them, but there is no change in their practical devotion to the children! In this issue-devotion, it is very important to keep God in the place of the issues and to keep ourselves in the place of the parents; not vice versa! In other words, we should always practically serve God and sacrifice our money for God without expecting anything in return from Him and we should continue the practical devotion even if He responds negatively to us.

This issue-devotion should be taken as the guiding path for how our devotion to God should be. In issue-devotion, we see the essence of true devotion, which is theoretical devotion, and practical devotion involving service and sacrifice, without the aspiration of any fruit in return. In real life, when parents scold their ungrateful children for their bad behavior, it shows that the parents have lost theoretical devotion for their children. But in the case of God, we must be very careful about maintaining the purity of even our theoretical devotion along with the practical devotion. We must remember that God is not in need of our service or sacrifice and that the practical devotion is only the proof of our theoretical devotion. There is another important point to note in the context of freedom from the aspiration for worldly fruits. Worldly fruits mean not only the fruits that are to be enjoyed in this world but also the fruits that are to be enjoyed in the upper worlds. The aspiration to escape from the punishments of our sins in hell and the aspiration to enjoy in heaven without doing good deeds here are also to be avoided.  

In this second line of treatment for curing the worldly ambitions, it is clear that our good fruits get exhausted and the bad fruits grow more and more with increasing interest. The soul only goes deeper and deeper into difficulty and there seems to be no escape for the soul. How can it be called a treatment then? Actually, no matter how much the pending punishments grow with interest, one need not fear. In the wonderful administration of the kindest Lord, an escape and a chance for reformation is ever-present. The golden path of the propagation of God’s spiritual knowledge can be adopted by any soul at any time. The work of propagation enables the soul to learn the knowledge deeply and get the grace of God. As the soul learns and propagates God’s spiritual knowledge, his misconceptions are eliminated. He realizes and repents for his sins. When he finally does not repeat the sins practically, he is said to have reformed. Upon getting permanently reformed, all his pending punishments are canceled by God since the punishments were only meant for reformation and not for revenge. However, the soul must choose to follow this path of reformation through spiritual learning and propagation.

The souls whose worldly ambitions are not cured even by the second line of treatment are thrown into the life cycles of animals, birds, worms and so on. This is not at all done for revenge but in fact, God is only fulfilling the soul’s desire. When the soul is simply attached to his worldly goals and refuses to rise above them, in spite of several efforts made by God, God finally gives the soul a congenial living atmosphere. In the animal births, the soul is driven only by materialistic goals like eating, drinking, and sex, which is exactly what these souls pursued in their lives as humans (saamanyametat pashuvat naraanaam). If apart from the strong desire for these worldly goals if the soul also has a lot of ego, it is thrown into the births of devils and demons (kshipaamyaasurayonishu —Gita).

The important point is to delink our worldly ambitions from God and live like an atheist in the single aspect of taking worldly efforts to get worldly fruits. Of course, we should follow the atheist only in this single aspect and not follow him in the aspect of disbelieving the existence of God. The lack of belief in God drives the atheist to fulfill his excessive worldly ambitions even by sinful means, whereas the theist’s belief and devotion to God controls his ambition and prevents him from committing sins. Mere belief and confidence in God does not bring any result. The belief must also be associated with theoretical and practical devotion to God. If you simply have faith and confidence in the prime minister, you will not be favored by him. You must come in contact with him as a real and sincere worker of his party. Then alone will he be pleased with you and favor you.

 

(Third question is completed.)

 
   

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