(Following are the highlights of an interview given by Sai Baba to all the Western devotees (about 40) who, in the first few days, had found their way to the Srinivasan bungalow where Baba was staying and giving darshan. This is during Baba's first trip to Kodaikanal, circa 1984 and was compiled from notes taken by me. I consider it one of the most succinct expositions of Baba's advaitic message, and believe it to be particularly relevant to Western devotees. - A.D.)
Devotee: Swami, what is the best way to relate to the world?
Baba: Do not spend your time thinking about the world or your relationships to individuals. These are all impermanent. They have only to do with the body. The body is just a water bubble. The mind is like a mad monkey. Do not follow either the body or the mind. Follow the Self, the Atma. It is beyond the mind. It is permanent. It is the unchanging truth within you.
Most important, do not ever think that you and God are separate. Think always, "God is with me; He is inside me; He is around me. All there is is God. I myself am God. I am the Infinite, the Eternal. I am not two; I am one, only one. There is no one else besides me. I and God are one and the same."
To realize this Unity, the first step is to develop self-confidence. It comes when you realize that God is not outside of you. Self-confidence means thinking all the time, "God is in me... God is doing everything... without God I cannot be... all this is God... I only want to think of God." When there is self-confidence then there will be love, there will be peace, there will be truth, there will be God. Without self-confidence there cannot be God. So, first there must be self-confidence and love of God.
Devotee: Swami, how to do we rise up to that highest level?
Baba: Through love. Only through love. Develop divine love. Divine love is completely selfless. Human love is mostly selfishness; all the time it thinks only of the little 'i'. That 'i' is the ego. The ego is a very bad quality. Ego sees everything as separate; it sees everything as dual. You must remove this ego and see only the Unity. Think only of Unity; think only of the Atma. Atma is the one unchanging Truth, the one Reality that is the basis of everything.
Devotee: Swami, is everything predetermined?
Baba: For the Atma there is no time and there is no form. It is beyond time and beyond form. In the Atma all are one. Remember that Unity. Live in that Unity. Make that your goal. All are one... be alike to everyone.
Devotee: Baba, what is the relationship between the Atma and the individual?
Baba: The Atma is everywhere. But, do you know that? No, you do not know. What you say now all comes from your imagination. You have no experience. Do some Sadhana. Realize the Atma! Always think like that... "I am the Atma. I am all." The individual exists only in your imagination. It is just an illusion. When the Atma is one without a second, when the Atma is everywhere, where is the individual? Only in your imagination. The Atma alone is real. Realize it through meditation.
Devotee: Then there is really no higher being related to this body, judging me and guiding me?
Baba: You see, you are still in 100% body consciousness. Do not stay with this body consciousness. Remove that. What will remain will be Atma-consciousness. Then there will be no anger, no hatred, no envy, no jealousy, no hunger, no desire... only complete Ananda... only bliss, bliss, bliss!
Devotee: But then, Swami, what is reborn in reincarnation?
Baba: The body is born. Birth and death only have to do with the body. Ego also relates only to the body. Similarly, reincarnation relates only to the body. Do not think of the body. Think of the Atma. The Atma is one; it is unchanging. For Atma there is no incarnation, there is no reincarnation.
Devotee: Swami, do I exist at all as an individual?
Baba: When you realize the Atma then there is no individual. You can think of individuals as different light bulbs. There will be a differences in wattage and in color. There will be differences in shape, but everywhere the current is the same. That current is who you are. You are not the individual bulb. You are the one current in all.
Devotee: Is there any difference between I and God?
Baba: You are God. You are not the ego. You are God!
Devotee: I am God?
Baba: Yes. You are the Atma. You are permanent. The physical is not permanent. The physical is not the Atma. You are the Atma, not the physical. You are God. Think like this always. Do not think about the body. The body comes and goes; for it there is birth and there is death. But you are not the body. Body is just rust and dust. Think only of God. Love God.
Devotee: Swami, how can we love something we don't understand?
Baba: Develop self-confidence, then love will follow; it will come naturally from within. And that way the love will be pure. First comes self-confidence, that is the foundation. Then comes self-satisfaction. It is like the wall. Next comes self-sacrifice, it is like the roof. Finally the house is complete and the Indweller is installed inside; that is self-realization. It starts with self-confidence and it ends with realizing the Self. That Self is you. It is everything. It is God. That is who you really are.
Devotee: Does self-confidence mean confidence in the Self?
Baba: Yes, self-confidence is confidence in the Atma; it is an unwavering love for the Divinity within you. That is very important. What will help you to develop that confidence? Be equalminded, be satisfied with what you have. Be happy. The secret of happiness is not in doing what you like but in liking what you have to do. That is a great truth. Always have complete faith in the indwelling God who takes care of everything. True greatness can only come from faith.
Devotee: Lord, I want to arrive very early to You. What do I have to do?
Baba: Through love, only through love. Love is everything. Love is God. Live in love. Start the day with love, spend the day with love, fill the day with love and end the day with love. That is the way to God.
Devotee: How do we develop this selfless love?
Baba: It all comes through God's Grace. Without Grace you cannot do anything. First do your duty and think about God all day from morning to evening. See everything as God. Be happy. Think, "O Lord, You are my everything. You are my goal. You are my breath." Do not think, "This is mine, that is mine." Instead think, "All is You. All is Yours." Think, "I am beyond the body. This body is just a water bubble. I am beyond the mind. This mind is just a mad monkey. I am the Atma. I and God are one. Before this body was formed I was there. After this body leaves I am there. Without this body I am still there. I am omnipresent. I am all." To reach this truth you have to do some spiritual practice. You have to inquire, "What is God? Who is God? Who am I?" Jesus spent twelve years in the desert; then he realized. You must also do some Sadhana.
The first step in realization is to always think of God. Then after some years you will realize that you are one with God. In the beginning you can think, "The world is like a stage. I am only an actor. God is the director. All are His instruments, all are just actors. He is directing everything." But do not always remain at that level. Move on. Think, "I am the unchanging Atma, not this changing personality and body."
Devotee: Shall we tell these things to others, Swami?
Baba: Do not talk too much. First do some Sadhana. First do. Then be. Then you can talk. Do good, be good and see good. Do everything with love. After you develop your self-confidence and love for God then you can share your experiences with others. But it is a good rule to talk very little, even about God. In Sadhana there will be internal talk with God. You will give up all attachments and attach only to God. For this, purity of the heart is very important. Where there is no purity, there is no Unity. Without Unity you cannot attain Divinity. Then your life is just a waste. First purity, next Unity, then you realize your Divinity.
Devotee: And purity comes from service?
Baba: Yes. Purity comes from Seva... it comes from selfless love. All are one family, serve all... not just the Sai family, but the whole world family. All are brothers and sisters. All are one, be alike to everyone. That is Unity... the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.