The Safeguards Against Maya | SINCERITY, EARNESTNESS & DISCRIMINATION
(Auto Generated Subtitles) Namaste. We're here again after a long gap with Gautamji. Gautam, thank you so much for your time. Namaste, Nik. Namaste.
I hope all is well with the Sai Baba Devotees Speaks channel and yourself. All is well here. I hope, too, all is well with Baba's devotees and everyone, actually.
And yeah, it's been a very long time we've done a podcast together, so I'm very excited to have you back on the channel. So thank you so much for your time as always. My privilege, my privilege, Nik. So Gautam, today, although we are far away, we're doing this using today's technology, ironically, today's podcast is on Maya, and I'm going to discuss a few things with you about the changes that are coming up in today's world, like AI and all these things that we hear, and how they correlate to today's... to put things in perspective, rather, for devotees today. Sure.
So to begin with, a couple of years ago, I think this was 2018 or 2019, I came across this series, a very old series that was recorded on television by Ramanand Sagar on the life of Shri Krishna. Very nice. I mean, when you watch it, obviously, they had televised it, so it was a little exaggerated sometimes, but something caught my attention there, and I specifically remember this series of episodes, you know, I think it was towards the end, where you have these demons trying to kill each other, and they cannot differentiate... the good guys can't differentiate if the demons have come in the form of Maya, and you can't tell what is right and what is wrong, and they're throwing things at each other, and while it was slightly humorous to watch, I also see parallels in today's world, where you have AI suddenly pop out of the box, and it's going to be very difficult to differentiate between Truth and Untruth.
So while it might have seemed amusing, I saw some truth in that, and the world is changing, so I felt that would be something we could discuss. Absolutely. So Gautam, with the advent of technology today, putting that into perspective, recently there are technologies that are out in the open, where you can literally... like they can clone your voice...
and one will not be able to tell whether it's actually Gautam, or it's AI... and see, Baba's words were this, "If you forget Me, Maya will lash you." These are Baba's words. And Guruji, on the channel, in 2018 and 2019, there was a video we had put, The Kalyug is accelerating its pace, in which He said this, The Kalyug has got out of the cradle and it has jumped and caught people by the neck. These were His words.
And since then, till now, literally every couple of months, the rapid pace of this is increasing, the use of social media... and I was thinking if you can put this into perspective for devotees, especially in the line of what Baba said, that "If you forget Me, Maya will lash you." Yes. I think, Nik, we need to broaden the scope of this statement a bit, so it's simpler to understand for those who are going to watch this episode, that when Baba is saying, Me, He is referring to Source Consciousness.
If you forget Me, He is referring to the God, Source Consciousness, we can call it Totality, not the individual Sai Baba. You see, it's a very important statement, because Maya is the divine hypnosis, where you could say we are lost in the illusion of separation, in the illusion of fragmentation, and in the illusion of Me and the Other. So this statement of Baba's has to be seen in this light. He is not trying to say, Remember Me as an individual all the time.
He is saying, Remember Me as the Godhead, the Source, and see Maya for what it is, because if it is not seen for what it is, it will lash you, in the sense you will be mired in Maya, you will be going into quicksand and sinking in it. Now, if we look at it very simply, you first mentioned even social media. Just to put it in context, social media, let's say any of these platforms, Facebook or whatever it is, Instagram, I am projecting an image of myself, and I want appreciation for that. You see, for example, I too have friends, when they are travelling abroad, they will say, I'm at so-and-so international airport, I'm dining in Switzerland. They will not post a picture of a Jabalpur airport or something, you see.
Now, this is not a judgement. This, what I am trying to point out is, we try to project the best version of ourselves so we are liked and appreciated, and it enhances our worth. Our sense of self gets enhanced because we create this identity in the virtual world.
So this is Maya operating in social media, because now I post certain photographs, my views on certain things, and I could get lost in this projection. So that is the context which I have to place before the listeners. The other is the most recent development of artificial intelligence. I will give you a case in point. where I requested someone to help me with a certain paragraph in a new book I'm writing. So it required some research, a fair degree of research, visiting 2-3 websites.
Now, what came back was no doubt comprehensive, but I had a feeling that this was not a unique voice. This was not something which had labour behind it, research behind it. And I found that this was generated by chat GPT. So I concluded that the person helping me on this task took the easy approach, fed in my requirement into artificial intelligence, and got an output.
So what has happened in this sense? The individual Buddhi (wisdom), the individual effort, and so on has got compromised, and a tool has been made available for use, and that has projected a certain paragraph, which is too general. It was so general, although it had detail, that I realised this voice is not an authentic voice. Correct. Now, this example is just the start of these technologies. They are helpful also.
I know people who are using chat GPT, people who are not good at drafting emails to clients, for example, are using this to draft emails, and suddenly the clients are very impressed, little knowing that this is not originally drafted by the person who has sent it. So you see, we are at a cusp, because while technology can help, it is also Maya. We can get overtaken by it, we can use it so that we stay in the background, don't have to lift a finger, and so on and so forth, and then get mired in it. And once again, Maya will lash you means the same thing, that I will be so lost in this Maya which is coming, that I won't be able to find myself. Now, when you say "find myself", you know what I'm going to ask you next.
Yes. So please speak a bit about that. You see, who are we without our identifications and projections? In essence, in fact, once again, I belabour this point, that Baba's teachings are so simple that they get missed. You know, they are pointing to a way of being in daily living, the simplicity of it.
But we are so much into projecting and wearing a mask all the time, and with social media, with artificial intelligence, we are now getting more and more opportunity to display various masks. So our true Self, which is this quality of pure Presence, of simplicity of Being, without becoming something in the other's eyes, something grander than ourselves, this whole show which we are trying to put on, but just pure and simple, resting in one's innate nature, which is pure Being, which is not separate from the Other. Because in essence, we are the same, and these fundamental teachings are always there for us. But the point is, which of us will have this awareness when we are dealing with the world today? You see, and again, I repeat, Sai Baba's teachings are very subtle. It's not about reading one story in the Satcharita and closing the book and going to sleep. Hmm...
It is this simplicity, this essence, you could call it a way of dealing with people, with equanimity, calmness, dealing with situations which present themselves to us, not losing our cool, so to speak. This manifests in various ways, you see, but this abiding in one's Being, abiding in one's Self, all these pointers have been given to us. And I think you've started on a very appropriate note, because Maya is coming headlong at us, in a sense. Today, you see, what we have today was not there 10 years ago, Nik. There was no social media 10 years ago. Imagine if in Baba's time, there was all this video filming, and all these technologies were there.
You see, we would have a beautiful resource at hand as well, which was not there at that time. So that is the value of the resource presented to us. The point is, is humankind going to abuse this privilege, this basic gift of communication which has come our way? Is it going to swing through distortion and identification into something which makes us who we are not? Yeah, there are two sides to this coin. So one aspect I wanted to discuss with you, Gautam, was also this is a great opportunity, because see, now what we conceptually knew as Maya earlier, it's like in our face, it's only going to get worse, where what the sages have spoken of, that everything is transitory, ever -changing, that is transient. So if we see it from the light of these teachings, it's also an opportunity, right? Could you speak a little on that, please? Yes, absolutely, but Nik, you see, this opportunity most likely gets missed. Only the person who is aware that they are dealing with the illusion, which is really amplified in this day and age, that person, for that person, it's an opportunity.
It's like a test, you know, how the Masters test us all the time. Are we getting lost in something, or are we holding our space and our presence? So opportunity, one can't say, is for everyone. It is in that sense, but if people are not immersed in their Master's teachings, not immersed in all the finer points... You see, once again, I would like to clarify, it is not about remembering Sai Baba in the morning for an hour, or doing Japa, and then rest of your day, you're just involved in everything else.
Awareness means throughout the day. Throughout the day, whatever you are dealing with, whatever you are projecting, what work you are involved in, is that degree of awareness there, that I am dealing with this manifest world, how much am I self-identified with it, and how much am I witnessing as Being and Presence the show which is going on? You see, that is why even in the Gita, the main point is to be a witness and not get embroiled in all the drama. And there's so much drama today, Nik. If you see, even the way news and media is geared, all voices raising, colour schemes used on television, it's all meant to suck you in into the drama of life and living, which is Maya, coming back to our topic.
So awareness of the Master's teachings, living the teachings, is what can take one through this haze of Maya. So sincerity here, Gautam, has a value to cultivate, because sometimes it also could be overwhelming for someone, because on one side, you may have so many things come together, like there's a health crisis, a financial crisis, on top of it, you have all this other stuff going on, and plus, it's not an exaggeration to say our society is disintegrating, and by that I mean relationships between people. So while we have technology, and it's easier to communicate, the depth of bonds, compared to a hundred years ago, when Baba was there, in body, there is a major difference in the world in that sense, and it's pretty apparent now. Yes, absolutely, exactly, Nik, and that is because we've distanced ourselves because of technology also. You see, earlier, the relationships were more humane.
It was more about being there for each other. I don't know if I mentioned this on one of our videos, I'll give you a classic example of a friend who migrated to London, and she fell ill there. Now, her friend circle there...
The minute she informed them that she's ill, they said, Oh, that's very sad to hear. Get well soon, and call us when you're back on your feet, and we can catch up for a meal. Now this shook her up, because she told me, she said, Gautam, in Bombay, if I fell ill, three of my friends would come running to my house, What can we do for you? Can we get you something? Can we just sit with you? You see, so now, because we are so lost in our individual worlds, that quality has evaporated, being there for one another, offering one's time, because too much is going on.
Rightfully so, everyone is like you said, there's some issue or the other coming up all the time, and so this separation is getting, in fact, deeper and deeper. Now, from Baba's teachings, one path is Seva, because that puts the attention on giving, caring. One very important pillar of Baba's teachings is service. And they say charity begins at home, so there is no excuse in that sense. So as Sadhaks, as devotees of Baba, I feel this also is something to deeply reflect on, while whatever may be happening in the collective, this is something Baba has shown by His own very example, it's peppered throughout the Charita. Because otherwise, one may say, it's going on it's so-called "new normal", but this normalisation is not okay.
I mean, if we are devotees of Baba and are committed to Baba, regardless of how the world is, would it be fair to say this is a prerequisite? Yes, and you specifically mentioned charity. You see, a very beautiful thing happens in charity which gets missed, because we feel we are giving something to the other without expecting anything in return. That is the broad definition of charity. But what is actually happening, Nik, is that the focus, when we give charity, is no longer on ourselves and the Little Me, it is being turned around and placed on the Other. All through the day, all my life, I'm obsessed about myself, right? Who I am, how I look, how do people perceive me...
With charity, it's such a great gift. Giving is such a great gift because it's shifting this obsession with the self and on to the other in a selfless way, because I know I am giving charity where that person, at the most, can only appreciate me. He or she does not have the resources to give me that back.
That's why I'm giving it. So in fact, we are the ones for whom a favour is being done. When we give charity, we think we are doing a favour to others, but we are the ones who are being favoured. So just because you use that word, one example is this, that it's a process of being un-selfed, whereas today, technology and all these platforms, we are enhancing our sense of self and our image and all these things that go with it. Sincerity, yes. And one more word I would like to add to it — earnestness.
Yes. You see, Nisargadatta Maharaj said, earnestness is the key. So a Master knows which devotees are being earnest, and that is a very undermined quality. The third factor, Gautam, if I may add, would be discrimination, because specifically in this context of Maya, a practice that one can...
I can't say you can practise it, but to learn how to discriminate... even in the Charita, there are certain pointers given on discrimination between what is right and wrong, and of course, we get our lessons the hard way, but that also, for a spiritual aspirant, if you can speak on discrimination... Yes, but again, Nik, the one who is lost in the Maya will not be able to discriminate. See, I would assume our Podcast is not addressed... they wouldn't listen to it like 30 minutes in.
I don't think they would have much interest in this conversation at all. So at least I feel, or I would like to believe, the people on our channel are people who are interested in the implementation of the teachings, and going forward on the path. It's not just the miracles, and being on the receiving end of things.
So if we're addressing them, like if someone is sincere, there, you know, discrimination... because sometimes the lessons are hard, like Baba also may let you go through something, like if a child is born, the mother sees it fall, but then eventually it learns, right? So in that sense, a little bit of discrimination on our part, Baba would expect us also to be aware, be alert... Yes, I mean, I would say discrimination can go a very long way. If one is aware at each step, at each step, at each moment of the day, for example, whether it is at work, whether I'm socialising with people, am I able to discriminate? That what am I saying? Am I saying something which is superfluous? Am I projecting an image just to impress someone? Now that is also discrimination. Or am I being myself, my authentic self, who I am, without this need of approval, for example? So discrimination comes in such subtle ways.
If one is able to discriminate... Again, a simple example... Let's say you have a friend from school or college.
Okay? Now time has passed, you enjoy meeting your friend, but beyond a point, there's nothing to talk about, because you are on your spiritual journey, and your friend is, let's say, lost in his own world, whatever it may be. Right? Now here, where's the discrimination? Is it worth my time, my effort in this relationship? Or would I rather be enriched in a different kind of relationship where I am on the same wavelength with the person I'm meeting? So in this case, what do I do? I meet my school friend, by all means, to honour that, but I may not meet him as regularly as before. So I have to discriminate because my time is precious. So where am I being enriched, to sound a bit esoteric, at the soul level? At a level of feeling, at a level of beingness, where can I contribute my time, and where can I save my time from being consumed by that which is not serving me in any way? So discrimination is in various ways. These I've used very simple examples, just to simplify it. But this is how it really then pervades one's daily living.
You know, talking... that's a very important line you've shared, pervading daily living. And see, one of the practices Baba made His devotees do was the spiritual practice of reading the Parayan of certain books, like the Vishnu Sahasranam, and different scriptures. Now, one particular scripture dear to Baba is also the Hanuman Chalisa, and I found one verse in it, which I felt if one contemplates or ponders on these Leelas, there's much to learn and we can implement in our lives. For example, there was this incident in the life of Hanumanji, where... I'm going to give a general outline of it, don't hold me to those details...
but basically, he was given the responsibility to guard Lakshman and Lord Ram, who were in a cave. And obviously, Ravan had bad intentions, and Vibhishana had found out about this. So they made a plan where the responsibility to guard that gate was given to Hanumanji, and Vibhishana even told him, those two demons who are going to come, who've been commissioned by Ravan, have this illusion, or this power, where they can take any form they wish. So even if you see, be it anybody, don't let them in, because it could be these people in guise. So he said, Yes. So as it came to pass, many people came, and Hanumanji said, No, nobody is allowed, he would just say, No, no, no, he would not let anyone in.
Like they said in the pretext, I have not seen my son, let me go. Then they had even decided that Vibhishana would take a circle around the mountain, and Hanumanji would be at the gate and not move. So a little later, after they have their interaction, Vibhishana tells him, I want to go in and check on their well-being. So you stay here, let me go in and check. So he lets him pass. Then again, he sees in a few minutes, Vibhishana has reached and he asked him what is going on.
So he wondered and immediately realised that that Mayavik Shakti took the form of Vibhishana and went inside. Then, of course, the Leela unfolds, and it goes one thing to the other, and of course, Hanumanji being Hanumanji, gets to the end of it. But to discriminate is not easy. I mean, the bit that I picked up from here, that there is a story of the Buddha as well, which is similar to this. One disciple of the Buddha asked him, what does Maya mean? So he said, okay... he told him to walk along, and then he sees this farmer, and he says, go to the farmer and ask for water.
Then the farmer has a young daughter who offers this Sanyasi water, and the farmer asks him, I'm looking for a groom for my daughter. So this is all the illusion. So he gets married to her, then they have children, and then it goes on and on, and then there's one big flood, and everyone is dying, his mother-in-law, father -in-law, and everyone's falling apart, like a dream. And then... he was a Sanyasi, right? He had children... and then that dream ends, and then he looks at the Buddha who says, "this is Maya."
Hmm... So this line from the Hanuman Chalisa and this story, I felt if one takes to heart Baba's sayings, teachings, the practices, and we ponder on it, it's not that easy. Not at all, not at all. That is what I said, you know. It's not about reading one story and keeping the book aside.
It's about in daily living, in all my interactions with not only people, but the thoughts in my mind. What happens the next moment? Discrimination, sincerity, as you said, earnestness. You see, these are our safeguards against the lashing of Maya...
I've seen it since 2018, I guess the channel was set up many years ago, but then over the last few years, even I've seen a major change, like the amount of content coming out, it's more like an avalanche, and not just in the Baba community, everywhere. And how is someone going to distinguish what is right? I mean, people can say anything, right? So how does one distinguish between what is right and wrong? And Gautam, one topic I would like us to speak about, maybe we can talk about it now, or in a follow-up Podcast, is the difference between Charisma and one's character. Because one observation I made, especially while I was editing the videos of Vinny Ma and Pawar Kaka, which are on the Mahabhaktas of Baba, their lives, their devotion, their character, the faith they had, and how they would present themselves in front of Baba and behave...
and some of the examples we see online today, there is a stark difference where it's very charismatic today. So I felt this is something I would also wish to speak to you about. Yes, Nik, this is actually an important point, and we will have to delve into some details here, but prior to that, if I could just close on the previous point, and we take this separately... Too much content out there, as you rightly mentioned. You see, I come back to what Nisargadatta Maharaj said, rather than digging small wells all over your land in order to get water, you should dig one deep well in one place.
So this is where, because you are so right, I have people who come to me and they see YouTube videos of many, many, many teachers, there's so much out there. So I say, look, that's all fine when you are in the realm of exploration, but when you're doing that, ask yourself, What am I looking for? And once you have that answer, now, I believe everyone's looking for Sukha Shanti, peace of mind... then review those 20 channels, or videos, or teachers you've seen, pick one for yourself which you feel, this is where I do feel I'm getting some satisfaction, and then dig deep into that.
So this is also my suggestion for those who are watching this channel. Now, I do feel your channel has really delved into all aspects of Baba. There's the Leelas, Chamatkars, then there's the Gyan, there's the Bhakti. It's a very holistic channel. So I'm not saying this in a kind of way to promote your channel. All I'm trying to convey to the reader, to the listener, is reach one place and then dig deep, because you will find that it may appear simple, but every incident in your life which transpires, there's always the hand of the Teaching behind it.
Something will come to support you. That grace, that is the grace. That is Sainath's grace, for example. In my own case, you see, I sometimes go to visit certain spiritual places, but invariably, I will see an image of Sai Baba's face.
It's like a reminder to me, you know, like I'm there, watching. So I just wanted to close on the previous topic, that there is too much out there, there's going to be more and more and more, but do ask yourself, that what is in it for me? And you will find that whatever takes you deep within yourself, through inquiry, through reflection, contemplation, that is really, I feel, what is meant for one. You know, to add to this, Baba has Himself said... in fact, He held devotees up for this, where He said, if you read too many books, you'll only get Brahm in it, confusion. Now the same applies in today's context, to the videos, the podcasts, and 10,000 people, you know, this one said this, that one said that, the same thing.
So to put it in context... and I also feel, Gautam, the practices that Baba advocated, maybe in a subsequent podcast, we can speak about them and their implementation, because even in the Gyaneshwari... See, the very fact... Baba made a very important point, and I love the Gyaneshwari because it's the teachings, the whole essence, right over there.
In the Gyaneshwari, Baba clearly says, it's very important for the human soul to know what the purpose of life is, the birth. And if you ask for Moksha, you will be given it. If you ask for life, you will be given it. If you ask for death, you will be given death.
So, being absolutely clear, it may not happen instantly, Why am I here? What is my purpose? And then when you go to Baba, then even your problems, good things come, everything will be seen as transitory. So I feel the Gyaneshwari, maybe we could go and have a few discussions in the subsequent podcasts on these segments, because they are very, very important, I feel. Absolutely, we'd love that.
Wonderful. So Gautam, I don't want to leave listeners on a... I mean, it could be depressing where you hear like Maya and this and that, and obviously things are going to speed up more, but at the same time, I feel it's a great opportunity to awaken. It's a great opportunity where the teachings are available, you can put them into practice, and difficult situations arise. But at the same time, if you have faith in Baba, and you are focused with your practices, you can always come back, come back.
So if you fall down, you stand up, you keep persevering. As Baba says, Shraddha and Saburi, and I feel many people see Saburi as only patience, but it's also perseverence. Yes, and most importantly, you see, it is the Leela of life.
The Masters are there so we can master it. You see, so you're right, it's not all doom and gloom. It is doom and gloom. Baba's warning, as we started this Podcast, is if we get sucked into it. But when we meet this new dawn, new challenge, new day, with the grace and support of Totality, God, Consciousness, Source, Sai Baba, then, as my teacher would say, why would you consider your glass half-empty and not half -full? If God has brought you thus far, why do you feel He'll drop you here? So yes, you're right, we don't want to be pessimistic.
We are saying that if we are truly following the Master's words of wisdom, actions, Bhav and Bhakti, then we will be navigating our boat through the waters of life in a very efficient manner. So the judgement is passed, I can hear the thing behind... So I guess that's the bell for today, Gautam... I wish to continue this conversation with you where we can go into more detail on the Gyaneshwari Baba's teachings on the ultimate purpose, aim of life, liberation, our focus, and then, of course, as Baba would say, I will give you what you want, until you want what I want to give you. So maybe in the next Podcast, we can take it from there. So thank you very much, Gautam.
As always, thank you for your time. Sairam. Om Sairam.