Excerpts from: Swami's Discourses

[From: The Divine Discourse: Date:17 Mar 1983 Occasion:Upanayanam]
It has been well said that "The body indeed, is the basis for the pursuit of dharma" (Shareeramaadhyam khaIu dharma saadhanam). It is by the pursuit of dharma that Brahman is realized. The Geetha has declared that whenever dharma declines the advent of the Avathaar (Divine incarnation) occurs. This implies that the object of human existence is to uphold dharma. As creation is a projection of the Divine Will the aim of every human being should be to live in harmony with that Will. One's life should be dedicated not for promoting one's selfish interests or to serve the interests of other fellow-beings but in the service of the Divine. Whatever is done to anyone, if it is done as an offering to the Divine, it will reach the Divine. Man should consecrate every action by regarding it as an offering to the Divine.

[From: The Divine Discourse: Date:23 Nov 1985 Occasion:Birthday] 
The grateful person will treasure as a gift even the smallest service, but, the ungrateful forgets the gift, however valuable, and even renders disservice to the giver.

The message of placing a ceiling on desires and utilizing the money thus saved into a fund was to use the money for social service among the villages, for the poor and the illiterate. Of course, money is an essential requisite and those who have assumed responsibility for service projects do need it. Six thousand villages have been adopted by the units of the organization and facilities for education and medicine are provided therein, besides roads and wells. When I decide on a project, the wherewithal for accomplishing has to be spontaneously available without any fund-raising campaign. My will has the power to concretize my plan. I willed that a College must rise in Puttaparthi; the Rajmatha of Nawanagar built it. In order to feed it with properly trained boys, I willed a Higher Secondary School; Bozzani from America asked that he be given the chance to build it. I thought that at this place education on Sai lines must be available to children from the Primary stage itself. Craxi, the brother of the Prime Minister of Italy, offered to build the School. At Bangalore, when I decided on a plan for a College and Hostel, Mrs. Elsie Cowan asked that she be given the privilege of completing it. Such is the might of my Sankalpa, my Will. When I entertained the idea of granting this boon to every one drawn to the Birthday festival, Dr. Bhaskara Rao from West Godavari District and Karunyananda from East Godavari District arrived at Kodaikanal and prayed that they be blessed with the sacred responsibility. I warned them that the lakhs would be too big a burden, but they persisted, saying: "With your blessings, we can take on even crores." And, promptly, without any fuss, 5000 bags of rice reached here from those two districts and from Krishna, Guntur and Nellore districts. Hundreds of bags of wheat, flour and suji arrived from Punjab, followed by the same number of sugar and jaggery bags from U.P. From Madras huge quantities of pulses were brought by members of the organization. Did any one demand or ask for these? Can you get them by asking for them or demanding that they be given? Try and see what happens. Everything was offered spontaneously, silently, sincerely, with so much love and humility. This is their homage of Thyaga, of service through sacrifice.

Members of the organization should understand and follow the ideals set before them. In fact, no other organization has such selfless workers engaged in loving service. If you watch with an open eye, you find them cheerfully and enthusiastically laboring in the kitchens and serving the meals, cleaning and sweeping, though most of them are unaccustomed to manual work, and accommodating themselves in open grounds. Their faith has given them this fortitude. The volunteers and Seva Dal members, men and women, have toiled in the true spirit of dedication and surrender.

I desire one thing from you. Develop brotherhood with all. Adopt right conduct always. Give up selfish activity. Welcome all chances to serve the illiterate and the poor.

Man justifies himself and proves his claim to be a worthy individual only though seva (service), undertaken sincerely, selflessly, and with no thought of worldly reward. Seva is the only path to self-realization. It is the highest expression of love and of the sacrifice love involves. You have to expend yourselves in Seva unto the very last breath. You cannot retire after a certain years of Seva or when you reach a certain age. When you have such a Lord and Master, there should be no dearth of Sevaks (servants). The servants are the glory of the Lord. The Ahalya rock of steady Tapas had to earn the contact of the Divine Feet of Rama, to get Life, Love and Light. The resurrected Ahalya is the Glory of Rama. The Sathya Sai Prabhu (Lord) and the Sathya Sai Sevaks are inseparably bound by Love and Loyalty. Sai exists for you and you exist for Sai. We cannot be apart from each other.

This year you have named My birthday the 'Golden Jubilee' of the Avatar (God incarnated on earth in human form) and gathered in vast numbers from all parts of the world. I am sure you have benefited from the spiritual company. I do not accost one particular date in the calendar as My birthday, for I consider the day when Divinity blossoms in your heart as My birthday in you. Therefore, each of you should individually celebrate such a day as My birthday. The day when you resolve to practice My advice, to follow My directives, to translate My message into acts of service, and to engage in spiritual discipline -- that day is My birthday for you. The 23rd day of November, which you now honor as the day on which I was born, is only like any other day if you celebrate it in a routine, ritual fashion. Adore man; the adoration reaches Me. Neglect man; you neglect Me. Of what avail is it to worship the Lord and to suppress man, His counterpart? Love for God must be manifested as love for man, and love must express itself as service.

[From: The Divine Discourse Date:25 Dec 1985 Occasion:Christmas]
Embodiments of Love! There is nothing more precious in the world than Time. You should not waste even a single minute of it. Men today tend to waste their time in selfish pursuits instead of devoting it to selfless service. They are eager to receive help from others, but have no desire to render help.

There are two types of human beings--the degraded and the sublime. The degraded are those who seek or receive things from others and not only forget to repay the obligation, but even try to harm those who have helped them. The sublime are those whose natural trait is to go to the help of others. If they give a word they will try to honor it whatever the difficulties and obstacles. They will not go back on their pledges, regardless of what others may say or do.

Jesus sacrificed his life for the regeneration and welfare of mankind.

We are all aware of the kind of selfless service which birds, animals and trees are rendering to man. But we see many men who out of selfishness are not only ungrateful to their community, their parents and their Gurus, but even to God. Such persons can never come to anything good. They do not realize the truth of the saying, "As you sow, so shall you reap." If you have good thoughts and do good deeds, they multiply like good seeds sown in a well-manured field. But if you fill your heart with bad feelings, bad thoughts will multiply many-fold.

Wealth without wisdom becomes an instrument of exploitation and tyranny. Wisdom without wealth becomes mere fantasy and a bundle of blueprint. Use makes them worthwhile; misuse makes them disastrous. It is like the knife in the hands of maniac, it becomes an instrument for murder; in the hands of a surgeon, it becomes an instrument which saves a life! Are you doing good with wealth? Are you benefiting others by means of wisdom, that is the test. This day, Christmas, when you celebrate the birth of Christ, resolve to lead the lives of Loving Service, to the weak, the helpless, the distressed, the disconsolate. Cultivate tolerance and forbearance, charity and magnanimity. Hold dear the ideals He laid down and practice them, in your daily lives

[From: The Divine Discourse Date:6 May 1987 Occasion:Eswaramma Day]
Pundarika was the one who was devoted to the service of his aged parents. In doing so he was adhering to a self-imposed rule. He would not take any food until the parents had gone to sleep. Once he was massaging the feet of the parents. To test Pundarika's love for his parents, Lord Panduranga came to his residence in a disguise and stood behind him.  Pundarika went on with his service to his parents who had not gone to sleep. The newcomer asked Pundarika to look at him. Pundarika said, that he was seeing the visitor. The latter asked him: "In what form are you seeing me?" Pundarika said:" I am seeing you as my mother." Meanwhile Pundarika's Guru came there and told Pundarika that the visitor was none other than the Lord Himself. Pundarika said that the parents whom he was serving were also God. The Guru earnestly urged "Don't you realize that the one who has come is verily God?" Pundarika replied: "My parents also are God." Panduranga admiring his resolve, said: "Pundarika, won't you like to experience a vision of Me even once?" Pundarika replied: "Until my mother goes to sleep I will not seek your vision. If you are keen that I should see You, please wait for a while. I shall come to You after my mother has gone to sleep." It was such devotion to his parents that made the Lord reveal Himself to Pundarika and render service to him.
That grace will come to those who are grateful to their parents and render loving service to them.

[From: The Divine Discourse Date: Jan 16, 1988 Occasion: Address to the students]

DEVOTION
This is the highest form of your love. "Service to Hrishikesh is known as Bhakti," says the Sutra. Devotion means constant contemplation of God. The term Bhakti is derived from the root Bhaj (to worship). Devotion means loving contemplation of God, repetition of His Name, worshipping Him and doing penance for Him. Service to the Lord is the highest expression of devotion. There is nothing which is not attainable through loving service to the Divine. Once Tulasidas was engaged in meditation at the confluence of the three rivers (Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati). Rama and Lakshmana appeared before him as two young boys. They asked him: " Kakaji! What is it you are doing?" Tulasidas replied: "Children! I am doing service to Rama." The boys asked: "What is the use of doing service to Rama?" Tulasidas replied: "Through service I get a sweet." They said: " What is the use of getting a sweet? Once you have eaten and digested it, nothing remains." Then Tulasidas explained that the sweet gotten from others is digested in a brief time. But the sweet given by God is His love, which is not digested and cast away. When it is eaten, all hunger is appeased. The sweet of Divine love illumines the spirit. When the oil of Devotion is put into the lamp of the Antahkarana (the indwelling motivator) and the wick of integral consciousness (Prajna) is lit by the fire of spiritual enquiry, the flame of Self-knowledge shines effulgently.