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Study Guide on Qualities to be dear to the Lord

Devoid of Desires

Absolutely Pure

Firm in Determination

Completely Detached

Free from Grief

Renounced Pomp and Ostentation

Six Qualities One Should Possess to Become Dear to the Lord

Anapeksha (Devoid of Desires)

There Must Be Control over Desires

Anapeksha means that the devotee is beyond apeksha, i.e., desires or expectations. Is it ever possible for man, bound as he is by the body and the senses, to be without desires? Hardly. Some desire or the other will always be there. However, there must be control over the desires that one has.

What sorts of desires are permitted? Recall what Krishna has to say about this matter. He says that all righteous actions are Divine. Thus, among the permissible desires, the best is the desire for sacrifice. The yearning for righteousness also is important. The desire for God is mandatory.

Although what must truly be desired is very clear, people have widely different types of expectations and desires. Although some consider being righteous as very important, others think that achieving [worldly] greatness is the best goal. Some even try to combine these two objectives. Truly speaking, no one has the freedom or the authority to do as one likes. One must do exactly as the Lord says.

Perform Actions Exclusively for the Pleasure of the Lord

The Lord has stated very clearly that He wants you to attain the state of desirelessness. How does one do that? One does this by strictly confining oneself to righteous activities alone, performing such actions exclusively for the pleasure of the Lord, and by offering all such actions in their entirety to the Lord. Actions performed in this spirit rise well above worldly desires and expectations. Thus the word anapeksha ought not to be interpreted in a very rigid sense.

What it really means is having the irresistible urge to work only for the Lord and for His sole pleasure. However, that does not mean one can do anything and everything. Our actions must be such that they please Him and would secure His approval. If a devotee conducts himself in this fashion, he becomes dear to the Lord.2

Man Has Taken Birth to Perform His Duties

When man performs actions, regarding himself, as the doer, the actions become fetters that bind him. All actions that are performed with the feeling that they are intended as offerings to please the Divine do not lead to bondage. They become desireless actions. One has to recognise that it is the Divine Principle in all beings that is getting all actions done through human beings as instruments. As long as man regards himself as the doer and enjoyer he cannot escape from the consequences of his actions.

When a man regards a certain piece of land as his, the crops grown on it will belong to him. The Bhagavad Gita teaches that when actions are done as offerings to God, they become “desireless” actions. Man has taken birth to perform his duties and not to enjoy power or assert his rights. When one’s duty is performed, the right comes of its own accord. Men today fight for their “rights” and forget their duties. Hence discharge of duty comes first. It is through duty that man realises God.1

The Lord Is Present in All Righteous Actions

In the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord has declared that He is present in all righteous actions. Therefore, those who perform righteous actions can develop desirelessness. This means that when a man performs all actions as offerings to the Lord, they become desireless actions. The Lord is the one who, from within, makes a person act, speak, listen, see, and perform many other actions. He is the doer and the enjoyer. If a person performs all actions with the conviction that the Indwelling Lord is the real Doer, then his actions become desireless. Hence every spiritual aspirant should regard his actions as offerings to the Divine.3

Lead Your Life without the Feeling of “Mine and Thine”

Today man is filled with various desires. Then what is the way to lead a desire-free life? Lord Krishna has shown the way for this. He said, “Son, there is nothing wrong in having desires, but all of them must be pleasing to God.” “Let all your actions be pleasing to God.”

You should put into practice the eternal principles based on truth and dedicate all your activities to God. Lead your life without the feeling of “mine and thine,” and offer everything to God. Only then can you attain the state of desirelessness. Today man has both worldly desires and desires that lead to the inward path, but the number of desires that lead to the inward path pale in comparison to the number of worldly desires in him.4

Desirelessness Prevails When All Actions Are Offered to God

It is only when all actions are done as an offering to God that desirelessness prevails. When such a feeling fills the heart of the devotee, the Divine confers beatitude on him. Such a devotee is dear to the Lord. If you want to earn the love of the Lord, you have to render service to anyone, anywhere, as an offering to the Lord.5

​Suchi (Purity)

Both Inner and Outer Purity Is Essential

The second quality is suchi (purity). There should be both inner and outer purity. Bodily purity relates to the physical. It covers such cleansing acts as bathing, wearing clean clothes, eating pure food, and the like. Even in studies, the books should be wholesome and elevating. But mere external cleanliness without internal purity is of no value. Everyone, from the scholar to the common man, is concerned only about external cleanliness and not about the purity of the heart within. However pure the ingredients may be, if the vessel in which they are cooked is not clean, the food will be spoiled. For a man, his heart is the vessel, and he must see that it is kept pure and untainted.

Undertake Selfless Service to Purify the Heart

For the purification of the heart, everyone must undertake selfless service. Attachments and aversions, which pollute the mind, should be eschewed by concentrating on selfless service. It is only when the heart is pure that selfless service can be performed. Hence both bodily and mental purity are essential for a good devotee.5

Purity Is Vital for All Aspirants

It is not enough if the body is clean. Inner purity is essential. The latter, in fact, is more essential than the former. For the proper enjoyment of all things, purity of mind is essential. Whatever sacred acts you may perform in the external world, if you have no purity of mind and heart, all of them are valueless.

The food cooked in an un-tinned vessel will be spoiled even if all the ingredients are good. Likewise, in the vessel of the heart, the inside must be purified by love. Then, all that one consumes will be wholesome. Hence purity is vital for all aspirants; without it, all man’s actions are tainted. Actions done with an impure heart can only produce undesirable results. Whatever good results you want to secure in the external world, inner purity is the basis.1

How to Purify the Mind, Speech, and Body

All the actions a man performs issue from internal impulses and not from external forces. They are a reflection of his inner being. It is only when man has pure feelings within him that his actions can be pure. When he is polluted within, all his actions will be impure.

How are the internal impulses to be purified? These relate to the mind, speech, and the body. Of the three, speech is the most important. How is purity in speech to be achieved? Every word you utter should be free from causing excitement or agitation. It should be true and pleasing, says the Bhagavad Gita.

There are four factors that account for pollution of the tongue. One is uttering falsehood; two, excessive talking; three, carrying tales against others; and four, abuse or criticism of others. The tongue is prone to indulge in these four types of offences in speech. Unfortunately, in this Kali (Iron) Age, all four are rampant. Untruth has become ubiquitous. People freely indulge in slandering others. Tale-bearing goes on. Indulgence in loquacity is widespread. It is only when one gets rid of these four evil tendencies that his speech can become pure and unpolluted. Hence the first task is to purify one’s speech.

Next comes the mind. The mind is polluted by wrong thoughts and bad feelings. Man should strive to keep away all bad thoughts from invading his mind. When a man is ceaselessly filled with bad thoughts, he can only reap bad consequences. To purify the mind, all bad thoughts have to be expelled. No room should be given to them. Bad feelings should be banished from the mind. Only then will the mind become totally purified.

Then comes purity of the body. One must have a body that is free from the taint of violence or harm. Men commit many acts of violence and many sinful acts with their hands. The body has been given to man primarily for practising righteousness. Such a sacred gift should be used only for rendering service to others and doing godly actions. This is the way to purify the body. Therefore, when speech, mind, and the body are purified, internal purity is ensured. Suchi thus calls for internal purity as well as external cleanliness.3

Dakshah (Firm in Determination)

Have Strong and Unshakable Determination

The third quality that the devotee must have is dakshah or strong and unshakeable determination. What sort of determination must you have? You must say, “Come what may, I shall not rest till I accomplish this or achieve this.” This is the sort of resolve you ought to have. Swami occasionally says:

Having resolved what ought to be done, Hold on till you succeed.

This is determination.

Having desired what ought to be, Hold on till it is fulfilled.

This is determination.

Having asked what you want, Hold on till you get it.

This is what is meant by determination.

Having thought what you wish to have, Hold on till the thought is realised.

Such is the quality of determination.

In the end, what should happen? Due to your perseverance, the Lord must yield to your wishes!

Persevere, be tenacious, and never give up.

It is not the characteristic of a devotee to retreat, Abandoning his resolve.

What is meant by determination? It means having the firm resolve:

“I should definitely see God, have God, and secure His Grace.” God loves dearly the devotee who has such firm determination.2

Realise Oneness with Mankind through Selfless Service

Everyone should regard his life as a form of penance. Everyone must have firm resolution that as long as life lasts he will dedicate himself to the service of his fellow men. Thereby he will realise his oneness with all mankind. Such a feeling of unity will lead to God-realisation. Service is the only way to get rid of selfishness and self-centredness. A devotee who has resolved upon such service is dear to the Lord.5

The devotee should be steadfast and unwavering in any situation. With his mind firmly rooted in God, he should engage himself in service to others and perform actions in a spirit of detachment. Only such a devotee is eligible for God’s love. He is unaffected by pleasure or pain, gain or loss, or what happens in the mundane world.6

Do Not Engage in Impure Acts

Determination should be confined to actions that are pure, helpful to others, and sublimate man. No man can refrain from action of some kind or other even for a moment. In no circumstance should one engage himself in an impure act. This is the way to achieve purity through firm determination. Only such a person can be called a resolute person.3

Be Equal-Minded at All Times

You should be one of determination in order to attain Divine grace. Once you have taken refuge in God, never lose faith, come what may. Do not become disheartened by trials and tribulations that come your way. Be equal-minded in times of both pleasure and pain. That is true determination.4

Udaaseena (Detached)

Be Totally Detached

Next comes udaaseena, which means detachment. You must be totally detached with respect to whatever you are doing. You can do any kind of work; you may, for example, be engaged in service activity. However, you should not have expectation of any type [including of the outcome], and also not seek any reward, praise, appreciation, etc., for what you are doing. Especially while working for service organisations, you should be very careful; you must not have any craving for fame and name.

You must not seek praise and respect. You should not lament, “I am working so hard and doing so much, but there is no mention of it whatsoever in the newspapers!” If you do your work with such cravings and expectations, then the good that you might be doing is nullified and the sanctity of the work is destroyed. Therefore you must do service work sincerely, being immune to success and failure, praise as well as criticism.2

Perform Your Duties Selflessly

You must be indifferent towards sorrow or joy, loss or gain, honour or dishonour. You must be concerned only to see whether your actions are pure and selfless according to your conscience. Nothing else matters, neither the praise nor the blame of other people. When your conscience tells you that what you are doing is good, you may go ahead regardless of the opinion of others, whether they are your kinsmen, friends, or others.5

The human body is the result of past actions. Man is bound to the world by his actions. The body is the primary requisite for the performance of right action. Indifferent to fame or blame, not seeking power or position, one should perform one’s duties selflessly.1

Always Remain Serene and Unruffled

One must be free from attachment to anything. It means remaining serene and unruffled by fame or blame, peace or sorrow, loss or gain, pleasure or pain, not elated by prosperity or depressed by failure. One should not succumb to calumny. Nor should one exult over fame. Fame and censure are like passing clouds. One should look upon them as mere witnesses. They should be treated with equanimity. To treat them seriously is to give rise to agitations in the mind, which may lead to demonic tendencies.3

Gatavyathah (Free from Grief)

Do Not Brood Over the Past or Worry About the Future

After this, gatavyathah, which means being impervious to the ups and downs brought about by time. Acquisition of this particular virtue also calls for strong determination. You should neither brood over the past nor worry about the future. Why all this pointless contemplation? No matter how much you think, reflect, and brood, the miseries of the past cannot be corrected or set right.

Regarding the future, no one can say anything definite about it since it is so very uncertain. You are keen about achieving something tomorrow; is there any guarantee you would be alive then? Are you sure you would be alive? No one can speak with certainty on such matters. Therefore, what is the point in worrying about the future?

Focus Your Thoughts on the Present

The future is hidden in the womb of time; no one can see it. So, why spend time imagining all sorts of future scenarios? As for the past, it is gone and lies buried in the sands of time. The past cannot be revived, recovered, or resurrected. The future belongs to time. Why therefore waste time reflecting about both the past and the future? If you do want to think, then do so about the present.

Man cannot live without thinking. Waves of thought constantly assail you. Focus your thought on the present. Why? Because both the past and the future are contained in the present. The present is a seed that came from a tree called the past. This seed also contains the tree called the future. Thus the present is very important, being the embodiment of both the past and the future; therefore, go by it. Don’t worry about the future, but concentrate on the present. If you take proper care of the present, the future is bound to be bright; of that you can be sure.2

Mental Worry Should Be Eliminated

When you act properly in the present, the future will take care of itself. Do what is appropriate for the present moment. If there are no expectations, there will be no disappointments.1

Brooding over the past and speculating about the future, man is failing in his duties in the present. This is the cause of his misery. Make right use of the present, and a good future is ensured. The aspirant should bear this truth in mind and concentrate his attention on the present. Mental worry about the past or the future is arajasic (passionate) quality. It should be eliminated.3

Engage Yourself in Right Actions

A true devotee is one who lives in the present without brooding over the past and worrying about the future. Past is past; forget the past. Do not worry about the future for the future is uncertain. So live in the present; it is not ordinary present. It is omnipresent.Keeping the present in view, men should engage themselves in right actions. The past and the future are in the present. Devotees who do their duty in the present are dear to the Lord.5

Sarvarambha Parithyaagi (Renunciation)

Who Is a True Renunciate?

Lastly, sarvarambha parithyaagi—this implies total renunciation. Who is a true renunciate? He who remains perfectly calm at all times and under all circumstances is the one who merits such a description. Such a one is beyond pomp and ostentation. God distances Himself from the ostentatious type. In fact, exhibitionism is the first thing that one must renounce. Pomp is a sure sign of rajo guna (quality of passion).

The craving for ostentation is the starting point for all desires. Seeking publicity is a reflection of worldly desires. Do not go after worldly goals for they represent the temporary and the evanescent. Shun pomp, show, and publicity. Krishna declared that it was such a recluse that was dear to Him.

Never Hanker After Publicity

Today there is show and publicity everywhere. The person may spend just five rupees on charity, but he is prepared to invest five hundred rupees in publicising his act in the newspapers. Is this not show? It is only the one who seeks fame that needs publicity; on the other hand, the one truly interested in service has no need for it. Never hanker after publicity.

As long as you are after pomp, you will never be able to experience Atmic bliss. How can one who is ignorant of the Self ever earn God’s love? While seeking God’s grace, one must be very patient in everything and in every aspect. Then alone can it be said that one is treading the spiritual path; then alone would one become eligible for God’s attention.2

Eliminate the Ego to Purify the Heart

There should be no ostentation or showing off in any undertaking by a devotee. Unless ostentation is given up, egoism will not leave. The ego must be eliminated to purify the heart. No good deed can be done without purity in the heart. It is through sacred deeds that the heart is purified.

Ostentation is a demonic quality. It encourages egoism and megalomania. One should seek to acquire a good name through selfless service alone. It should be done with humility and sincerity. One who aspires to become a national leader must first know how to render service. He should not seek office or position. The Sai Organisations have been set up for rendering service and not to establish official positions. Selfless service should be done out of a sense of duty.

Selfless Service Broadens the Heart and Widens One’s Vision

Selfless service brings out all that is great in man. It broadens the heart and widens one’s vision. It fills one with joy. It promotes unity. It proclaims the truth of the Spirit. It drives out all the evil qualities in a man. It must be regarded as a great spiritual discipline. You are born to serve, not to dominate. Everyone in the world is a servant and not a master. All relationships—husband and wife, mother and child, employer and employee—are based on mutual service. The world is progressing because of such mutual service. If the principle of service did not operate, the world would come to a halt.

Do you regard an “officer” as a superior? It is not so. Even he is a servant. It is only when man is filled with the spirit of service that his Divine nature is revealed. He then experiences the peace that passeth understanding.5

Your Devotion Must Be for Pleasing the Lord

The world today is immersed in ostentation and egoism. What does it matter whether the world praises you or decries you? For instance, why should a devotee show off his devotion to earn the approbation of others? His devotion must be for pleasing the Lord and not for earning the approval of the world. In the spiritual path, what matters is the inner joy you experience. That is the key to self-satisfaction. Sarvarambha parithyaagi means one who is prepared to relinquish all his possessions and acquisitions including wealth, knowledge, and strength.1

One should give up all desires and ego. Ego leads to attachment, hatred, jealousy, aggrandisement, and other vices. It is ego that is responsible for the downfall of man. One with ego cannot accomplish even a small task. An egotistic person is not respected even by his near and dear ones. Ego is the worst of all the enemies of man. Develop humility in order to get rid of ego. No amount of spiritual practices will help a man of ego in attaining tranquility and bliss.4

Yearn for God's Love and Be Dear to Him

Secure God’s Love through Sacred Actions

If you wish to become eligible for God’s love, then your actions must be consistent with love. It is impossible to secure God’s love without appropriate and sacred actions. Can the one who is always hankering after rewards ever be truly happy? The only compensation you ought to seek is the pleasure and joy of doing your duty properly. The joy of service is the true reward. If you go against the command of God, then everything is bound to go wrong.

As you think so you become. If you desire God’s love, then your actions must match and be compatible with your desire. If you do not want God’s love, then you are at liberty to do as you please. However, if God’s love is what you want, then you must act in an appropriate manner.

Lovingly Obey God’s Commands

In this world, you first have to pay the price before you acquire the authority to possess what you desire. You go to a shop to buy a towel. The shopkeeper quotes a price of twenty rupees. When you pay twenty rupees in cash, the shopkeeper packs the towel and gives it to you. No cash, no towel! God also follows a similar “transaction” procedure. What kind of “business” does God do? Divine business! If you lovingly obey God’s command, then you are sure to receive love. God’s love has no limitations or stipulations. Only one condition: you give, and then you receive.

Without offering selfless service, how can you expect to receive God’s love? To receive God’s love, you must be totally free from worldly desires and constantly engage in selfless service. The service must be of a pleasing nature. All actions must be performed exclusively for God’s pleasure. For this, you do not have to give up anything. Just keep on doing your normal duty in the manner ordained by destiny.

Do Everything to Please God

You wish to study; by all means do so. But in what manner should you study? You should do it for God’s pleasure. You are employed in some place. How should you do your work? Do it as if you are trying to please God. Tell yourself, “I am doing this job as an offering to Him.” Install this feeling in your heart, and do whatever you want to do or have to do. However, before rushing to adopt this course, pause, reflect, and make sure that God would really be pleased with what you are trying to do and offer to Him! You cannot do all sorts of silly and stupid things, claiming that you are doing them for God’s pleasure.

Saturate Every Action with Love

If you act just according to your fancies, do you think that God will accept your actions as an offering? Every action of yours must have the stamp of quality that is acceptable to God. Without that stamp, your action will be counterfeit. God should acknowledge that your action is good. When you affix the proper postage stamp, your letter can go to far-off places. But if there is only an address on the envelope and no stamp, it is of no use. An unstamped letter dropped into the mailbox will end up only in the dead-letter office. Therefore, if you really want your offering to reach God, you must affix the stamp of love. It is only when love saturates every action of yours that God will shower His grace. He will do so in many forms too.

Do Good Work Solely for God’s Pleasure

Slowly but surely you must develop all the qualities enumerated in the Bhagavad Gita verse. The acquisition of these virtues is possible; have no doubt about it. Sparks of fire are produced when two pieces of wood are rubbed hard together. Butter is formed when curd is churned in a sustained manner. Similarly, in spirituality, sustained inquiry leads one to wisdom and Divinity. You realise the truth: Tat Twam Asi—that Thou art.

Is it possible to obtain fire without rubbing and butter without churning? The fire is latent in the wood and is not visible. You have to rub hard to make the fire emerge. Butter is latent in the curd, and you have to churn hard to make it come out. In the same way, if you want God’s love, you must constantly do good work, do it solely for God’s pleasure, and also offer it all to God.

Happiness Comes Only after Hard Effort

It is only when you work with such a spirit of surrender that you become eligible for God’s love. Surrender does not mean that you are vanquished and that the other one has emerged victorious. In spirituality it means that the two merge into one— there is nothing like giving or receiving. Recognise the cosmic unity that pervades everywhere. Recognise that this substratum of unity is nothing but God. You will then automatically experience God. All this may sound very difficult to practise. Know the truth that happiness comes only after hard effort. Without difficulty, there cannot be joy.2

The True Devotee Is One Who Practises What He Has Learned

If you are true devotees, examine for yourselves how long you have been listening to Swami’s discourses. Years have gone by. To what extent have you grown spiritually? How far have you put into practice Swami’s teachings? What is the use of merely listening? Is it not all a waste? You are listening, but not putting the teachings into practice. Hunger can be appeased only when the cooked food is eaten. Only the devotee who practises what he has learned is a true devotee.

Your practices are different from precepts. You are leading selfish and self-centred lives. Such a life is led by birds and beasts. Even these exhibit selflessness often. Man alone leads a totally selfish existence. It is a shame to call such persons devotees. One must strive at least to practise one or two of the teachings. This calls for purity in thought, word, and deed. Without such triple purity, man ceases to be human.

Earn Respect through Sincerity

Today, human values have given place to demonic tendencies. Animality has become dominant. The Divine has been forgotten. Consequently all spiritual exercises are filled with ostentation. What is needed is sincerity. One should not do anything for the sake of earning others’ approbation. If one acts with sincerity, he will be duly respected. But if one merely preaches and does not practise, he will be ignored. How can such a person expect to win the grace of the Lord?1

One who possesses the above-mentioned qualities is a true devotee. Only such a person is near and dear to the Lord. You should cultivate these qualities to be a deserving recipient of God’s love.4

Man Is Redeemed by Six Qualities

Only the devotee who has these six qualities is dear to the Lord. It is such a devotee whom the Lord loves. Man is ruined by six enemies: lust, anger, delusion, greed, pride, and envy. Equally man is redeemed by the six qualities described in the above mentioned Bhagavad Gita verse. Without cultivating these qualities, without cherishing such pure feelings, what is the use of immersing one’s self in so-called devotion? It is only a hallucination, which cannot lead man to the experience of the Divine.1

References

  1. Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 26; Chapter 1: Purity—the Path to Divinity.
  2. Summer Showers in Brindavan 2000; Chapter 11: How to Become Dear to the Lord.
  3. Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 26; Chapter 29: A Righteous Emperor and Virtuous Subjects.
  4. Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 32, Part 2; Chapter 6: Install Padukas in Your Heart.
  5. Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 23; Chapter 31: The Devotee Dear to the Lord.
  6. Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 29; Chapter 48: Who Is Dear to the Lord?