Conversations with Sai

Swami, what is the difference between Bhakti [devotion] and Surrender?

Bhakti is a state of dualism. In this state, there are two entities - God and the devotee. The two are so close that they cannot ever be torn apart or separated. Bhakti binds the devotee to God. Surrender, on the other hand, is a state of monism or Advaitam. Once the devotee says there is only God and nothing else, he ceases to have an independent existence - he does not exist as a separate entity. The devotee never ever considers anything as "his". He moves completely away from the "I" feeling.

An example: Water and sugar differ both in form and properties. This is dualism, or the path of Bhakti. Suppose sugar is added to water and the water is stirred. The sugar will dissolve and spread throughout the water. In this condition, there is neither pure water nor sugar; instead, there is syrup. This is surrender or Advaitam - the devotee offers everything to God and keeps nothing for himself, including his mind.

Swami, does Love come after faith or does faith come after Love?

There can be no question that faith must come first. It is faith that takes one to Love. One loves one's mother or friend because of the faith one has in those persons. If there is no faith, can there be love for those people? Therefore, if the question is "which comes first", then the answer is that faith comes first.

Swami, some say that experience is the basis for faith while others say that faith comes before experience. Which is correct?

It is only when there is faith that one can have experience. Faith is the basis of everything. An example: If someone who wants to learn swimming says, 'I will first learn swimming and then enter water', it would be absolutely ridiculous! Can you learn swimming on sand or on a road? You necessarily have to learn it in water. Swimming is like experience and faith is like water. Know for sure that faith always comes first.

Swami, detachment seems so difficult! It is not at all easy to give up one's attachment to one's family, relatives, etc.

Actually, detachment is quite easy. In Swami's view, holding on is more difficult. See here. I am holding on tightly to this handkerchief. Now I let go. The kerchief falls. Which is more difficult? To hold on tightly, or to let go? To hold tight, I must exert pressure with all the five fingers. This calls for effort. But to release the hold, it is so much easier! Hence, attachment is more difficult than detachment!

Swami, why is it that we do not immediately get the rewards of Sadhana [spiritual practice]?

Your approach to spiritual practice is not correct, and you must understand some essentials. Let Me give an example. Children commence their studies in the Kindergarten, then go through school, pass the 10th Standard, then the 12th Standard, then enter College, and study for the B.A., B.Com., degrees etc. How many years all this takes! And how much effort is required to earn a University degree! If one must struggle so hard for a mere worldly degree, then is it correct to expect instant results and rewards when one is going in quest of the Infinite and the Eternal? It is wrong to expect immediate rewards.

Swami, these days, imitation has become very common. This is also responsible for young people to go in search of new fashions. What are Bhagavan's views on this?
It is not good to imitate. Swami often tells the boys: IMITATION IS HUMAN WHEREAS CREATION IS DIVINE!
Imitation diminishes one's intrinsic abilities and masks one's intrinsic nature. An example: Once, a crow tried to walk like a swan. It kept on trying for a long time but could not succeed. In the end it got fed up and gave up the imitation. But in the meanwhile, it had also forgotten how to walk like a crow! This is the ultimate fate of those who try cheap imitation. Always be your own true self.
Swami, some people say that there is no happiness in their lives, and that they can never be happy. Why is that?
The mind is the reason for such a feeling. Happiness can be attained only if the mind is turned towards God. If the mind is turned towards the world, then life would become painful.
An example: Take a hand-fan and move it towards you; then the breeze will come towards you. If, however, you move the fan away from you, how can you get breeze? In the same way, only if the mind is diverted towards God, can you get happiness.
Swami, what is it that humans should give up?
People think that giving up means that one must renounce life. What one must give up is attachment - this is the true meaning of renunciation. Swami Ramanand Tirth had a wife and son [before he became a renunciate]. After he became a renunciate, his wife once came to see him. The Swamiji turned his face and said that he was a renunciate and that therefore the lady should not come to see him. Hearing this, the lady replied that she had not come there to see her husband but a holy sannyasi. Ramanand Tirth was humbled by the reply and felt regret that he has spoken proudly to the woman.

You do not have to give up PROPERTIES. Instead, what is important is to develop PROPER TIES WITH God!

Swami, why don't we receive God's Grace?
This is a totally wrong notion. God treats everyone alike. The fault lies with individuals. For example, if it rains and you want to catch the rainwater, you must place a vessel in the rain with the mouth of the vessel facing the sky. Only then will the rainwater collect in the vessel. If on the other hand you place the vessel upside down, how can you expect rainwater to collect in the vessel? Your mind is the vessel and God is the sky. Turn the mind towards God; then the water of Grace can surely be collected.