Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 15 (1981 - 82)
The garden of the heart

Man has to progress every moment; a stagnant style of living does not benefit him. How long can we tolerate a boy staying in the same class at school? He must proceed from one class to the next higher one, year after year. The spiritual aspirant too should not stagnate in one sadhana. From the master-servant relationship with God, he must advance to the body-limb relationship and reach the stage of merging in the All-inclusive One - that is to say, from dualism, through conditioned non-dualism to monism or non-dualism. In the initial stages, man worships portraits or idols of God in all the sixteen forms of reverential homage. Preliminary concentration (dhyanam), invocation (avahanam), offering seat (asanam), washing feet (padhyam), offering hospitality (arghyam), ablution (snanam), offering vestments (vastram), sacredotal thread-wear (yajnopaveetham), sandal paste (chandanam), flowers (pushpam), incense (dhoopam), lamp (deepam), food (naivedhyam), pan (thamboolam), camphor flame waving (neeranjanam), circumambulation and prostration (pradakshina namaskaram). But, good character, good conduct and virtuous life are essential qualifications for the aspirant. Of course, floral offerings are commendable. The sixteen items are good. But, one should progress from this stage to the awareness of the Atma. Flowers fade and rot soon. The effect of offering flowers may not last long. What God loves more are the flowers blossoming on the tree of man's own life, fed and fostered by his own skill and sincerity. They are the flowers of his virtues grown in the garden of his heart.
Inner peace must become one's nature
Of these, ahimsa, the virtue of nonviolence, is the very first. This involves much more than abstention from injuring living beings. One should desist from causing pain to any living being not only by deeds, but even by words and thoughts. One should not entertain any idea of hurting another, or humiliating another. The second flower is indhriya nigraham (mastery of the senses). One should not run after sensual pleasure and sensory joy. The third flower is dhaya. Sarva bhootha-dhaya (compassion towards all beings and all things), for, "All this is God." It is said," homage paid to any god reaches the Supreme" (Sarvadeva namaskaram Keshavam prathigacchathi). It can be said, with equal truth, that "humiliation caused to any living being reaches the Supreme" (Sarva Jeeva thiraskaram Keshavam prathigacchathi). The fourth flower is kshama, tolerance, fortitude. Kshama is identified by the scriptures with truth, righteousness, knowledge, sacrifice and joy. Without kshama man cannot be happy even for a kshasya (moment). It promotes divine qualities. It reveals inner Divinity. One has to perform sadhana to earn it and establish oneself in it. Nourish the idea that God is equally present in all, in spite of ridicule from the ignorant and sarcastic criticism from the blind-or even praise from admirers. Do not mind them. The fifth flower is shanthi - inner peace. Shanthi does not mean that a person should not react at all, whatever others may say or however they may abuse him. It does not mean that he must be silent as a rock. It involves mastery of all the senses and all the passions, inner peace must become one's nature. Shanthi has detachment as the basic quality. The sea, which likes to gather and possess, lies low; the cloud that likes to renounce and give up is high in the sky. Shanthi endows man with an unruffled mind and steady vision. The prayer for shanthi is usually repeated thrice. "Om, shanthi, shanthi, shanthihi," since Peace is prayed for, in the physical, mental and spiritual planes. Man should not bring his blood to boil nor he should yield to fear. Spiritual calm is exemplified by Emperor Janaka of the Upanishadhic texts. He was known as vidheha (without body), not because he was disembodied, but because he lived in utter forgetfulness of the body and its needs. He saw, heard and spoke only from the Athmic plane of consciousness.
Offer God the eight flowers of virtue
The sixth flower is thapas (austerity). Thapas does not mean-forsaking wife and children and escaping into the loneliness of the forest. The real austerity is the exact co-ordination between one's thought, word and deed. The evil man can never achieve this; he behaves falsely to his own self. When man succeeds in this thapas, the words he utters will have such power that what he says will be transformed into manthras. Then, we have the seventh flower, dhyana (meditation). Today, there are in vogue as many systems and methods of dhyana as there are hairs on my head. Every one describes it according to his own whim and fancy. Sitting quiet and transferring their emotions and feelings to God is no dhyana. They must transmute their emotions, desires, feelings with the help of God into Divine qualities. They should not bring God down to their level; they must raise themselves to the level of God.
The eighth flower is sathyam (truth), that which is unmodified by the passage of time. The Divine alone persists unchanged from the past, through the present into the future. When this flower blossoms in your heart it will reward you with eternal fragrance. Worship the Lord and offer Him these flowers. Now, when other flowers are used, devotion does not last after one comes out of the puuja room door! When one crosses that door-step, anger, hatred and anxiety possess him and degrade him. Without developing the qualities indicated by the eight flowers how can any one win the grace of God? Engaged in Asathya Narayana Vratha (False Sathyanarayana vow) on all 364 days, what is the good you hope to get doing true Sathya Narayana Vratha on the 365th day of the year? When you claim to be Sai devotees, justify the claim by cultivating these flowers of virtue and offering them to God.
Death is senseless projection of matter.
From ashes emerge vegetation;
And oasis emerges in sand-dunes,
Pedestal of life stands on decaying forms
Whose roots are embedded in insensate life,
– Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Selected Excerpts From This Discourse
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