What is real progress?

Space stations that photograph moon dust, computer pads that fit in the palm, smart phones, electric cars, robots that cook and clean… should we call any of this progress when half the world goes to bed hungry? Not according to Sai Baba.

He taught, “Biting the hand that feeds, reviling the preceptor who imparts knowledge, this is the progress in education today.

 Can this be real progress at all? People seek good life, position and wealth. But they will not seek good qualities, right knowledge and right conduct. Wealth has become all important and righteousness has receded. This is the progress in education today.

Character and morality are confined to books. The mind is totally polluted. All actions are based on selfishness. This is the progress in today’s education.”

But there are diligent and discerning aspirants trying to improve themselves. They live by practicing the human values of love, peace, non-violence, right action, and truth. Surely they will progress.

The Sai Avatar warned, “While engaged in karma, service and spiritual practices, you encounter many hurdles. But that is the nature of the world in which you act. It is a world of dual characteristics—good and bad, joy and grief, progress and regress, light and shade. Do not pay heed to these; do what comes to you as a duty, as well as you can, with prayer to God.  The rest is in His Hands.”

It is difficult, perhaps, to believe that a loving God sends us tests, but Sri Sathya Sai insisted, “The yogis and spiritual aspirants are being tested by God, only to promote them. Instead of accepting the tests as signs of His care and love, people grow desperate and defeatist; they cry out, ‘O God!

We cannot face these tests,’ just as students cry out, ‘We don’t want examinations!’ How then can progress be measured and achievement recognized?.... Those spiritual aspirants, who protest and clamor when tests confront them are only proclaiming themselves as unworthy of higher positions, are content to remain where they are.”

A devotee shared that having gone through so many crises and survived, she was almost always peaceful. But she still harbored a fear she had not released: the fear of being trapped in an elevator. Recently, she was in her building elevator returning to her flat.

Suddenly, the electricity went off. The watchman could not be roused. Since she was the only occupant, her shouts were in vain. While praying to Swami she realised, by his Grace, she was facing her fear to be rid of it. With that realization she heard someone climbing the stairs. She shouted again. This time she was rescued.

Beloved Baba explained, “All things in creation are subject to the law of change and man too is subject to this law. But, man should use the law to progress, and not for sliding lower in the scale. Dharma is the norm which he must adhere to, so that he changes from good to better and from better to the best.”

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