“Start the day with love; fill the day with love; spend the day with love; end the day with love—this is the way to God”. “Love is the source; love is the path; and love is the goal”. “The best way to love God is to love all; serve all”
These are a few quotes of Sathya Sai Baba. Sai Baba teaches us to see the oneness of all humanity through selfless service to others. We are all children of one God, he says. His quotes on Unity of Faiths, describe this oneness eloquently. He says, “There is only one religion – the religion of Love”. He teaches us to follow the religion we have accepted and practice it wholeheartedly as “All Religions are pathways to One God. If you are a Christian, be a better Christian; if you are a Muslim, be a better Muslim; if you are a Hindu, be a better Hindu”… and so on.
For 86 years of his life, Sai Baba taught through personal example how to Love All and Serve All. His own life is testament to these words. Through his teachings and humanitarian work, he has inspired millions of followers in 126 countries around the world establishing 2000+ centers. The main purpose of the Sathya Sai International Organization (SSIO) is to help one realize one’s innate Divinity by the practice of Divine Love through selfless service. This Divine love is unconditional, pure, selfless and directed towards God with one-pointedness.
Jesus Christ, also said, “Love thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength; and love thy neighbour as thyself”. The apostle St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians said, “Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love”.
Recognizing that the people and the planet can only be saved through love, Baba teaches that it is only through individual self-transformation, can we achieve community and national transformation and bring peace to the world. Instead of proselytizing, he says we should transform ourselves by following the five fundamental human values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non Violence. Each of us must first work on ourselves; confront and overcome our own biases to be an example that others may emulate. His statement “Be like the rose that speaks silently in the language of fragrance” sets the expectation of personal refinement first. The following declaration clearly explains this.
“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world”
Food, clothing, health and education are the fundamental right of every human being, Sai Baba taught. He established completely free educational institutions from KG to PG (post-graduation); free tertiary care hospitals of highest standards to serve anyone in need. It is said that the only department not present in his institutions is the ‘billing’ department. Inspired by his example, his followers around the world are continuing to perform selfless service through the SSIO. The free medical and educational models Baba established can be replicated in the modern world only through selfless love.
This love manifests itself through service to others. Selfless service is perhaps the single most efficient and universal tool for understanding, experiencing and expressing this Divine Principle of Love. Service is love in action. Sai Baba has made it clear that the quality of service is most important, not the quantity. The motive behind service is the deciding factor. When we render service, we should feel that we are serving God. Baba says, “Service to man is service to God”. “The act of service is not to be judged, according to the cost or publicity it entails; it may be only the offering of a cup of water in the depth of a jungle. But the need of the recipient, the mood of the person who offers—these decide whether the act is gold or lead. Fill every act of yours with love. Let no one suffer the slightest pain as a result of your thought, word or deed. Let this be your spiritual discipline”.
Mother Teresa was a stellar example of demonstrating her love for Jesus through selfless service. Mother Teresa believed, “the miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it” as “each one of them (those she served) is Jesus in disguise”. There are many examples of others who served humanity and in their own way demonstrated Divine Love. The prophets and saints of the world’s religions operated from that fiber of Divine Love and served humanity. Some examples are St. Francis of Assisi, Prophets Mohammad, Buddha, Zarathustra, and the many Avatars of Hinduism. All these exalted ones served humanity believing in the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. Baba further exhorts:
“Serve everybody with the conviction that God dwells in all. As you serve others, you have to kill your ego. It cannot be called service if it is done with the feeling that “I am serving others”. Do all actions to please God. This is the attitude one should have while serving others”.
Here, Sai Baba cautions us about major obstacles that stand in the way of selfless service. They are ego and attachment. It is not what you do to others that matters, it is what that service does to you that matters, he explains. A true Sathya Sai volunteer strives to overcome these obstacles to selfless service through self-inquiry. The two subjects—love and selfless service—are, therefore, foundational and integrally related to seeing the oneness of humanity and creation.
Once a reporter asked Mother Teresa, as she was cleaning the hundreds of maggots off the body of a homeless person lying helpless in the streets of Kolkata, why she would perform such a repugnant act. The reporter expressed his disgust saying he would not do anything like that even for a million dollars. Mother Teresa lovingly responded. “Neither would I, for a million dollars, but I would do it for Jesus”. In effect, Sai Baba’s words “Love All Serve All’ has been demonstrated by the pure hearted souls mentioned above.
As we enter 2018, let us pray together to raise our own consciousness through the practice of these words, serve others with that Divine Love within each of us.
Sathya Sai Baba Center of Edmonton