The importance of living in the present, NOW, was discoursed by none other than Bhagawan Himself, many a time. We need to fill the time with “quality” said Bhagawan, writes Dr. MVN Murthy, recounting one of his “Encounters with Divinity” as published in the book “The Greatest Adventure”, later republished in Sanathana Sarathi, July 1984.

In March 1981, I was privileged to be in Brindavan, the residence of Bhagawan, along with many others. As we waited eagerly for the flash of the Red Robe, He appeared before us with the beaming smile; His eyes cast forks of Lightning (Vidyullekha) around. I waited in grateful expectancy for events to unfold themselves. In Baba's Presence the unexpected can and does happen!

Baba turned towards me and said, "So, you have been transferred to Bangalore!" This was several months after my transfer had materialised and an equal length of time after I had reported to Him before taking charge at Bangalore of my assignment! Why is Baba feigning ignorance? I used to wonder why the `Omnipresent' and the `Omniscient' One asks such questions. Now, I have discovered an answer which I believe is convincing.

Imagine Baba telling before everybody about us, what is in our mind at the moment, and what our deeds and misdeeds were until then. How many of us can muster courage to go to Him next? If He reveals all the time His Divinity by manifesting His "Omnipresence and Omniscience" few of us will dare go to Him; the facade of devotion which we maintain in His Presence, is so fragile that it will be shattered at the slightest touch. We will desert Him and give no scope for improving and transforming us. But, that is the task for which He has incarnated. So, in His mercy He gives us the impression that He is human, and envelops us with His maya, to keep us with Him until the slow process of transformation is consummated. We will have to be persuaded to give up our undesirable habits, `kramakramena', gradually.

Returning to the question He asked me, I replied, "Yes! Swami!" and I utilised the chance of nearness to volunteer some additional information. "Swami! I have only 71 days more before I retire from Government Service.” I hoped He would bless me with "Yes, Bangaroo!" and an assurance, "Time will pass; and you will join Swami's Service." Instead, He turned round and looked at me with those penetrating eyes. Out came the Sadguru's mantra, "Whether it is 71 days, 71 hours, 71 minutes or 71 seconds, quality is important," and in His characteristic style, He turned round and conveyed the message to all. "Quality of work is most important, isn't it?" He asked them, confronting them too with the Divine Dictum.

This is Baba; He uses every occasion to convey to all present lessons on how to apply spirituality in daily living, by such seminal mantras. He aims the mantra also at others who might benefit by the lesson. One will miss the Import of His statement if one thinks that it was meant only for the individual who happened to be the target of the teaching.

With the mantra Baba shook me from my stupor. He has repeatedly said that all the work we do for whomsoever it be, whatever it be and under whatever auspices, is work for Him. There is nothing like Sai Service, different from Government Service. All that you do is for Sai only; though apparently it is for yourself, really it is for Sai. I knew all this, but I must admit, that I had forgotten the lesson when I expressed relief at only a short period of 71 days remaining for me to retire from Service. The ever vigilant Sadguru gave me the lesson again at the right moment.

"Quality foremost!” What a grand formula for Ananda! I should not now attach importance to what happens after 71 days. I should not forget that it is His work which I am engaged in. I should carry out the work assigned by Him with emphasis on the highest quality I am capable of. It is His worship that is being done through the assignment. "The past is beyond recovery. Those days are gone. The future you are not sure of. The given moment is NOW! Sanctify it with holy thoughts, words and deeds." "The most important thing in life is not doing what you like, but liking what you have to do," He has told us. These are the guidelines for instilling spirituality in daily living.

Can we practise this in the office, in the factory, in the kitchen or wherever our avocation lands us? No doubt we can; we should only bear in mind some other mantras He has given us. We can sanctify our thoughts, words and deeds if they are not motivated by the six enemies which the sages have identified, Kama (passion), Krodha (anger), Moha (attachment), Lobha (greed), Mada (pride) and Matsarya (envy). Difficult? Yes, but not impossible. Read any modern book on psychology, you will learn from them too that diseases are due to these six; for they are psychosomatic in origin.

While filling every moment with "quality,” we are fully involved in the work and naturally we will be enjoying the quality of the work we do. That joy, the self satisfaction which induces self respect, itself is the "fulfillment.” In fact, the sweetness of the process is to be coveted more than the final result. The game is more important than victory or defeat. That is the real meaning of the Lord's advice in the Gita, "Work alone is thy concern; not the fruit thereof."

Knowing that we are all dangerously forgetful, let us pray, "Baba! Give us the wisdom to remember your mantra when it is most needed and inspire us to fill every moment with work of the highest `quality' using fully the abilities you have endowed us with."

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