The Teachings of Sathya Sai Baba
He does not say that His Teachings are new. His Teachings are just one more manifestation, for the contemporary conditions on the Earth, of the Divine Teachings which have been many times imparted to people by God through His Messengers. These Teachings are called in Sanskrit Sanathana Dharma — the Eternal Law. “Sanathana Dharma is the mother of all religions, all ethical codes, and all laws of the universe,” says Sathya Sai Baba .
He — Sathya Sai Baba — is the Avatar of our days. He says that though all conceivable powers of the universe are contained in His Palm, He is not going to make happy everyone without distinction, because everyone has their own personal destiny (karma) created in the past by their own good or bad thoughts and deeds. By our present deeds we create our future destinies.
In order to escape from the abyss of earthly suffering, it is necessary to live in love for God and all living beings, including creative love-service to other people. The service to people, which consists in helping them in their positive evolution, is service to God.
The main enemies of man, leading to accumulation of negative karma, are the wrongly directed mind and uncontrollable emotional sphere with dominating egotistic or coarse emotions.
Man can overcome these obstacles by strengthening faith, by directing the mind toward Divinity, and by using spiritual practices, which, first of all, normalize the emotional sphere and help to learn how to control the mind and consciousness.
But the mind, as such, is not an enemy of man at all. On the contrary, it is an embryo of wisdom (jnana) and should be developed in every possible way as an analyzing and creative function of the consciousness.
In order to clean one’s path from the karmic impediments, it is important to repent all small or big crimes committed against any living being. “By sincere repentance all sins can be washed. God’s Mercy is responsive. If He has a wish to forgive, nothing can prevent this… In spite of past sins, if there is deep remorse and love for God, then all sins get washed and the nature of man becomes clean. To be afraid that this will not happen is a weakness. God has unlimited compassion; look for His love and you will find forgiveness!” .
“The most important spiritual practice is the search of one’s own imperfections and weaknesses, and making attempts on ridding oneself of them, becoming closer to the Perfection” .
For strengthening the orientation of the mind toward God, Sathya Sai Baba recommends using the technique of frequent repetition of God’s name and participating in divine worships with singing praise to God.
Gaining of faith is the first step. The next step in this direction is love for God. But how can people fall in love with the One Whom they do not know yet? This is why Divine Teachers come to the Earth to help people; the Unmanifest reveals Itself in a form manifested for people. Love for the manifest, personified aspect of God is more convenient for incarnate people.
But people should also understand that Sathya Sai Baba is not only in His body: He is everywhere, wherever He is needed. Therefore, it is not necessary to go to His ashram in order to talk with Him; it is possible to talk with Him right from your home.
Sathya Sai Baba teaches that all people have only one God. And they must not divide themselves because of the variations of their beliefs. Let everyone worship One Universal God using their traditional variations of worship.
What really divides people is not the variations of faith, but the levels of the spiritual culture. Imagine for example, says Sathya Sai Baba addressing male students of a college, that according to the principle of equality of all people you marry a Muslim girl who is used to eating meat. What will happen? Conflicts and discord?
But Sathya Sai Baba does not want people to be at enmity with each other because of differences in nutrition: let secular people eat meat. But if you walk the spiritual Path, then the ethical aspect of nutrition has to be observed impeccably! .
It is not possible to come to God without possessing perfect love, because He Himself is Love and lets in only those similar to Him. And the main principle of Love is compassion for all living beings — from plants and animals — to Divine Messengers.
Concerning using fish for food, Sathya Sai Baba notes that these animals also die in suffering.
Once Sathya Sai Baba sent a group of His disciples to live in the mountains in monastic seclusion. The purpose of this seclusion was meditative training. And in order that disciples did not distract themselves from this training by seeking food, He gave them a jug in which they could find enough food materialized by Him every day. What was in their “menu”? Rice, vegetables, beans, fruit, juices, and before night (before going to bed) everyone had a glass of milk. 
Killing-free nutrition is favorable for purifying the mind and consciousness. If one gets up early and goes to bed early, this also contributes to purification of the mind and consciousness. The second thing that a neophyte in religion should do is to refuse to concentrate the mind on negative traits of other people. Each person is potentially God. See God in everyone. Love everyone as the manifestation of God for you. I teach you by using the negative and positive traits of other people.
People differ by the qualities of the personal “ego”, the “I”.
In particular, there are deeply fallen, degraded souls, who like to do evil. They can do evil even without any reward. This is their nature: they are like a moth that gnaws and tears things no matter what they are; it equally gnaws a rag and an expensive sari .
But even such people are used by God in the general process of the Evolution of consciousness. From their example, other people can learn not to be like them and thus can know both good and evil. And they will be able, by pushing themselves away from evil, to walk the path of good toward Perfection, toward Mergence with God. One should know both: what kind of person one must not be and what kind of person one must be. It would be difficult to know good if one does not know evil.
Evil people are used by God also for correction of the development of true sadhakas (spiritual warriors). In particular, in this way God reminds sadhakas about the approaching death, and this allows them not to relax excessively on the Path.
Death and God are the most important landmarks for all incarnate people, says Sathya Sai Baba.
Evil people doom themselves to hell and suffering in the next incarnations. However, they, too, are given a chance for salvation: to reform and repent. Repentance is conscious remorse that leads to liberation from the vices.
Concerning the ethical self-correction, Sathya Sai Baba says the following :
Those who seek bliss in the Atman should not run after the joys of sense objects.
Just as a body that has no breath is useless and begins to rot and stink, similarly life without the Truth is useless and becomes the stinking abode of strife and grief.
Believe that there is nothing greater than the Truth, nothing more precious, nothing sweeter, and nothing more lasting!
The Lord who is Sathya grants His darshan (an opportunity to contemplate Him) to those of truthful speech and loving heart.
Keep undiminished kindness toward all beings and the spirit of self-sacrifice.
You must also possess control over the indriyas, an unruffled character and non-attachment.
Be always watchful against the following sins: 1) speaking falsehood, 2) speaking ill of others, 3) backbiting, 4) talking too much, 5) killing, 6) adultery, 7) theft, 8) drinking intoxicants, 9) eating flesh, 10) sexual cravings, 11) anger, 12) greed, 13) “earthly” attachments, 14) impatience, 15) hatred, 16) egoism, 17) pride.
First give up the evil tendency to feel envious at the prosperity of others and the desire to harm them. Be happy that others are happy! Sympathize with those who are in adversity and wish for their prosperity. That is the means of cultivating love for God.
Patience is the strength which man needs!
Those anxious to live in joy must always be doing good!
One should never give reply in swear words. Be at a great distance from them; this is for your good. Break off all relations with people who use such words!
Seek the company of good men, even at the sacrifice of your position and life. But be praying to God to bless you with the discrimination needed to distinguish between the good men and the bad. For this, you must endeavor with the intellect given to you.
Those who conquer states and earn worldly fame are hailed as heroes; but only those who have conquered the indriyas are heroes who must be acclaimed as the conquerors of the universe.
Whatever acts, good or bad, man may do, the fruits of them follow him and will never stop pursuing him.
Greed yields only sorrow; contentment is best. There is no happiness greater than contentment!
The tendency to make harm should be plucked out by the roots! If allowed to exist, it will undermine life itself!
Bear with fortitude both loss and grief! Try to achieve joy and gain in the future!
From this moment on, avoid all bad habits! Do not delay or postpone, because this does not bring any benefit.
Try as far as possible within your means to satisfy the needs of the poor, who really live in poverty. Share with them whatever food you have and make them happy at least that moment.
Whatever you feel should not be done to you, avoid doing such things to others.
For faults and sins committed in ignorance, repent sincerely; try not to repeat the faults and sins again! Pray to God to bless you with the strength and the courage needed to stick to the right path!
Do not allow anything to come near you, which will destroy your eagerness and enthusiasm for God. Lack of eagerness will cause the decay of the strength of man.
Yield not to cowardice! Do not give up bliss!
Do not swell with pride when people praise you! Do not feel dejected when people blame you!
If among your friends one hates another and starts a quarrel, do not attempt to inflame them more and make them hate each other more! On the contrary, try with love and sympathy to restore their former friendship.
Instead of searching for others’ faults, search for your own faults! Uproot them, throw them off! It is better to find one fault of yours than to find tens of hundreds of faults in others!
If you cannot or will not do any good deed, then at least do not conceive and carry out any bad deed.
Whatever people may say about your faults that you know are not in you, do not get upset! As for the faults that are in you, you must try to correct them yourself, before others point them out to you.
Do not harbor anger or bitterness against persons who point out your faults; do not retort, pointing out the faults of those persons themselves, but show your gratitude to them.
Trying to point out to people their faults is a great mistake!
It is good if you know your faults; it is bad if you search for faults in others.
Whenever you get a little leisure, do not spend it in talking about all and sundry, but utilize it in meditating on God or in doing service to others.
Only the bhakta (the one who loves God) understands the Lord; only the Lord understands the bhakta. Others cannot understand them. So, do not discuss matters relating to the Lord with those who are not bhaktas.
If anyone speaks to you on any subject having understood it wrongly, do not think of his wrong opinions but grasp only the good and the sweet in what he says.
If your worldly desires do not get fulfilled, do not blame it on the love of God: there is no relationship between such desires and the love of God!
If your meditation does not progress properly, do not get dispirited! When such feelings come, seek for your flaws!
It is only when in your daily conduct you behave automatically according to these rules, that you can perceive the Divine principle very easily! Therefore, hold on to these maxims firmly!
However, Sathya Sai Baba notes that all ethical teachings can be expressed in one short formula of Vyasa: “Help ever, hurt never!”.
The ultimate task of each man consists in cognition of the Higher Self, which is the Atman, Paramatman, the Creator. But for this purpose the lower self, which manifests itself as egocentrism and which is created by the mind, must be eliminated.
The mind in this context is a part of the consciousness captured by “earthly” desires.
Desires are not thoughts. Thoughts become desires when they “submerge” deeply into objects.
Desires directed toward worldly objects cause pleasure and suffering. But if a desire is directed toward God, then it gives bliss! 
The ability to think correctly has to be developed through the “earthly” affairs. Then it can be transformed into a function of the buddhi. For this purpose, the “tentacles” of the consciousness (indriyas) should be redirected from the objects of the material world, even the best ones, toward the Divine Consciousness. The thinking of such progressively developing people in all their affairs rises to a fundamentally different level, because at this stage they, step by step, begin to learn to see “earthly” problems as God sees them. The egocentrism of such a person gets gradually substituted with Godcentrism.
How can one get rid of the vicious work of the mind, which impedes further advancement? — Very simply: do not try to “muffle” it, but just think about God! The nature of the mind is such that it is necessary for it to be preoccupied with something, so let it be preoccupied with God! And when it is preoccupied with God, it stops. 
If you are not able yet to do this, then occupy it with repetition of the name of God or with another useful activity.
The uncontrolled mind is like a snake. It has two tendencies: it moves not straight and captures all things which it sees. But it should be forced to move straight to God, turned directly toward Him.
When the thinking of a progressing person is performed not by the mind but by the buddhi, then the buddhi submerges into God in order to become Him.
This is why it is so important to accustom oneself to being turned by the face (of the consciousness) toward God. 
There are two main themes that one should always remember about: the approaching death and God. And there are two main themes that one should forget: the evil caused by others to you and the good done by you to others. “Of course, it is essential to remember about death, because this helps one to do many good things and avoid doing many bad things” .
“Time is the most precious gift in this world. Do not waste it saying ill words or doing bad deeds! … One must not waste time! It will not wait for anyone. … It is impossible to return the moment which has been wasted; it is lost forever… Nobody knows when death comes. The hand of time can crush you at any moment…
“In your deeds you should rise to the level of heroes and be not weak-willed people!
“Remembering about one’s own death leads to ‘unidirectional resoluteness’” .
“The position, pride, and power — all vanish before death. Realizing this, strive day and night — with purity of the body and mind and spirit — to realize the Higher Self by serving all living beings.
“The body should be supported and kept as an instrument for this purpose.
“But remember, you are not these bodies, and these bodies are not you.” 
“This body is but an instrument, a tool given by the Lord. And let it serve its purpose” .
One should take care of the body: it is an instrument for development of oneself, for one’s God-realization. It should be washed, fed, healed if it falls sick; at that, there are no contraindications for using medicaments and other medical means. [2,7]
But food is not a means for getting pleasure! Food is like fuel for a car. It is an essential element in service to God. 
Remembering about the approaching death should hurry one, but not lead to dejection and despair.
On the contrary, help provided to others, constructive discussions with spiritual friends, progress on the Path of self-development should fill one with happiness, joy.
“Happiness is essential for God-realization. It is one of the big gateways to Divinity. If man is unhappy, this is not just a flaw. This is one of the most serious flaws! This is an obstacle on the way to self-realization!
“In most cases people are unhappy because of worldly aspirations, attachments, and joys: they pay too much attention to the worldly.
“In order to help one get rid of this flaw, it is necessary to point out how much serious this flaw is. One should realize that desires are never-ending like waves in the sea!” .
In many cases, the reason for people’s suffering is that only through suffering God can convince them of the necessity of turning inside, into the depth of the multidimensional structure of their organisms, of the necessity of self-examination. Without this, such people will never get rid of suffering! God is inside, in the depth! He heals from there! .
“It is only when you are far from the Truth that you suffer and feel pain.
“At a distance from the bazaar, one hears only a huge indistinct uproar. But, as we approach it and walk into it, one can clearly distinguish the separate bargainings.
“So too, until the reality of the Supreme is known, you are overpowered and stunned by the uproar of the world, but once you enter deep into the realm of spiritual endeavor, everything becomes clear and the knowledge of the reality awakens within you. Until then you will be caught up in the meaningless noise of argumentation, disputation and exhibitionist flamboyance.
“Everyone who seeks the Eternal through the path of bhakti (devotional love for God) should strive to acquire the following characteristics: he must keep away from the turmoils, the cruelties, and the falsehoods of this world and practice truth, righteousness, love, and peace. This is truly the Path of bhakti!
“Those who seek Union with God, those who seek the welfare of the world should discard as worthless both praise and blame, appreciation and derision, prosperity and adversity. No one, not even God or an Avatar can ever escape criticism and blame. But They do not yield to threats.” .
“Man must pray for newer and newer opportunities for service and exult in the chance that his hands receive. This attitude gives immeasurable joy. To lead a life suffused with this joy is indeed bliss! … If life is lived accordingly, then it becomes one long unbroken service to the Lord. The feeling of ‘I’ and ‘You’ will soon disappear; all traces of self will be destroyed.” .
“Many aspirants and hermits, many sadhakas and sannyasis lost all their achievements, which they won by many years of struggle and sacrifice, because of their attachment to the self” .
“Whatever the wealth of words, whatever the standard of scholarship, it is all useless. In order to bring the Teachings… into the actual life, it is necessary to extirpate the feeling, ‘I know,’ see the very Essence and introspect on It. Only in that case one will certainly achieve bliss…
“If however the awareness of ‘I’ produces pride…, a fall is inevitable…” .
Service to others performed in accordance with the principles of karma yoga not only develops people in all the criteria and makes their karma better but also leads one to gradual merging of one’s self with the Divine Self, provided one has the right attitude to this service, i.e. regards oneself as an assistant of God.
“At home all members of the family do work intended for them. In the evening, when all the work is done, no one says: ‘Father, I have done this work, you have to pay me’. This is one family, therefore you do not ask for the payment for your work; you just do it.
“But if someone from the outside comes to work in your house, then you arrange about the payment and pay accordingly. What you pay to someone shows that he is not from your house.
“But when somebody becomes ‘yours’, it is not necessary to pay him. He works with interest, not expecting any reward for his work.
“It is the same with God. When you know that God is the closest and dearest Being for you, and that He and you are one family, you do not ask for the payment. He who devotes himself to God completely is Mine! And he should not expect any reward.
“But if somebody says: ‘I have dedicated to sadhana so much time,’ and establishes trade relations with God, saying at the same time: ‘In my sadhana, I have done this, and I must get a reward,’ then it is completely different.
“A child, who is too small, does not say to his mother: I want milk, I want my napkin changed, and so on. The mother herself keeps her eyes on what is necessary for the child without the child’s requests about this. When you have devoted yourself to God completely and become His child — it is not necessary to speak about what you want. He will give you even more than you would ask!
“Because of your love for Him — let Him be the dearest for you!
“Perform your sadhana, and you will approach God! When it happens, it will not be necessary for you to tell Him that you want this or that — because you will become for Him as His small child. He will come and give you even more than you ask!
“Just as a ventilator is an instrument, you are the instrument of God. Is it a ventilator which puts itself in motion? Or is it the electric current that puts it in motion?” .
“To entrust yourself to God means to devote to Him each thought and to act not wishing (for yourself) the fruits of this act. Perform acts not because of their fruits, but because it is your duty. The act is devoted to God, and the result is reaped by Him as well.
“The acts performed in that way without a selfish desire for their fruits are free from negative karmic consequences. Because the ego during such acts is not fed and stimulated, it disappears soon.” .
Sathya Sai Baba, as we have seen already, is against casual sexual relationships, against being obsessed with sex. But He supports marriage, family life, including upbringing of children. Marriage also helps “washing out” the primitive lower self, because family life is favorable for transformation of the “I” into “we”.
Marriage and karma yoga teach one to care for others. In that way, the ability to take care grows; this ability is an attribute of Love. In that way, the sphere of one’s love extends to more and more people. One’s personal “I” dissolves in the universal “we”.
The further progress in that field is ensured by meditative techniques which wash out all remaining coverings from the Higher Self.
But Sathya Sai Baba warns that one should not trust various “gurus” only on the grounds that they proclaimed themselves a “guru”. He says that a real guru is the one who knows God and can lead people to Him. But such people are very few. Anyway, it is much better when your guru is God.
Sathya Sai Baba also very precisely points out that meditative training is not meant for everyone. People differ between themselves by the age of souls, first of all. For young and immature souls meditative training may be destructive. Not all people can even comprehend what meditation is. For example, dreamlike mental images, such as flying to other planets, are a wrong and harmful practice .
The true essence of every human being is the Ocean of the Consciousness of the Creator. Our task is to develop ourselves to the stage of practical realization (not only mental understanding) of this truth through sadhana (the way of spiritual endeavor).
On this Path one should transform from a jiva (an individual soul attached to the body and material objects) to a chit (the pure, i.e. a consciousness which is purified and refined to the level of the Creator, and is identical to the Atman, to the Higher Self of man).
A developing soul, who walks this Path, from a certain moment gains the ability to see in the subtle eons, as it explores them more and more. A human consciousness, which has entered the higher eons, learns to see God — as Living Light-Fire — and to interact with Him.
From a certain stage of buddhi yoga, adepts can experience the material world as if “superimposed” on the Light of the Divine Consciousness; then it is easy to “fall” into It, dissolve in It, become It .
But such a level of the meditative work is accessible only for very few successful disciples of God. For beginners Sathya Sai Baba recommends the following series of meditative training which for sure cannot harm anyone [2 and others]:
Light a candle. Remember its image very well. Then transfer this image into the anahata (this can be done while sitting with the back turned toward the candle), fill the volume of the chakra with the light, imagine in it a flower consisting of light and beginning to open. Then direct the light into the arms, into the head, into other parts of the organism. Then fill with this light the bodies of the most beloved people, then the bodies of all people, animals, plants…, the whole world gets filled with the light; my self sinks in it and disappears; I and the light merge together; the image of the light created by me has merged with the Light of the Consciousness of God…
Mastering each element of this meditation may take much time. But it is a straight path toward the cognition of God and Mergence with Him.
If one includes in this meditation a Fiery Image of Sathya Sai Baba or of any other Divine Teacher, then such work will be much more effective.
Bhakti yoga, i.e. self-realization through love for God, is the highest yoga, the Highest Straight Path.
The true (potentially) essence of every human being is God. God indeed resides within the multidimensional organism of man, in its very depth, in the subtlest eons. It is necessary just to learn to move there with the concentration of the consciousness, and then to establish oneself there. This will be full Self-realization, God-realization of oneself, full and final Liberation from the bondage of the world of illusions.
One achieves God-realization through love, through falling in love with God. This love allows one to sink in His Flame, in the Embrace of His Love, to merge together with the Beloved.
This is the only way of attaining the highest spiritual achievements; there are no other ways. This is what God has been teaching during the entire history of mankind and teaches now. This is the fundamental of all serious religious systems. But people forget about this, and God has to remind them again.
One of people’s problems is that they do not listen to God, but listen to various false pastors, gurus, leaders of numerous sects. Some of them suggest themselves to people as an object of worship, instead of God. Others speak about God, yet pervert His Teachings to the opposite.
An example of this is a well-known, widely promoted sect of “yoga”, where its followers — as they were — were suggested that every one of them is God, a coessential to Him Part of Universal God. They “expanded the consciousnesses” and, as a constant practice, asked themselves: “Who am I?” The answer had to be: “Higher Self!”, “God!”.
The leader and the members of this sect knew neither God, nor even the direction in which one must seek Him. They recognized neither repentance, nor the necessity for the refinement of the consciousness, nor love for God: Why, God is what I am!
And if I am God, then all my desires and acts are flawless, Divine! They are manifestation of the universal Divine Will!
This large sect produced a great number of primitives who considered themselves “Gods”; the primitives who lived by the coarse uncontrollable passions, which became “legitimatized”, “Divine” for them.
Sathya Sai Baba, answering once in a conversation, disapproved the work of this sect and said that its “guru” made spiritual progress only later on, when he stopped his activity .
The techniques of the expansion of the consciousness, of its crystallization are very dangerous methods, in the sense that if they are given to people with the non-refined consciousness or with the undeveloped intellect and perverted ethics (with traits of violence, egotism), then diabolization of these people happens, in the very direct sense: they become devils. They transform into devils, dooming themselves to much suffering; they also bring to the Earth the will of the devilish eon, manifesting it trough their bodies.
Therefore, Sathya Sai Baba strongly recommends not to trust such “gurus” but to become a disciple of God. Let God be your guru! No one can put oneself between a person and God! Trust in God, and He will help you!
Love for God is the Straight Path!