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Love and Light

The Meaning of Easter and Swami's Messages

Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar. It is a harrowing and violent story, filled with grief and betrayal, but also hope, resurrection, faith and renewal.

Often we hear that “Jesus died for our sins so that we could be forgiven” and this is a little hard to understand. Is it because we are ‘bad’ that he was put to death in such a brutal way? How did his death help us?

Like Swami, Jesus taught through example. His life was his message. Swami tells us: “Christ sacrificed his life for the sake of those who put their faith in him. He propagated the truth that service is God, that sacrifice is God. Even if you falter in the adoration of God, do not falter in the service of the living God. Be ready to sacrifice even your life for the sake of God.”

So the story of the crucifixion teaches us about sacrifice and service. But how can we possibly live up to the standard set by Jesus who gave his very life as a form of service to man? Even as he was dying on the cross, and the soldiers were ripping off his clothes and dividing them amongst themselves, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Earlier, in the Sermon on the Mount, he said, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Mathew 5:39)

But we get angry at the slightest insult or aggression against us and think of our own needs over other people’s most of the time. So how can we be prepared to sacrifice everything for God? How can we ever attain that level of selflessness?

Swami says that by developing love for others we come to understand our own divinity and then sacrifice becomes effortless and natural, and fear and suffering evaporate. And it is service that opens up our hearts to connect with other people enabling us to directly experience that love. This is the message of Jesus’ coming back to life three days after his crucifixion.

“What is the resurrection, really? It is the revelation of the divinity inherent in man. That is the result of contact with the Godhead; that can come only after years of contrition. Man is led into the wrong belief that the accumulation of material possessions will endow him with joy and calm. But Divine Love (Prema) alone can give that everlasting joy. Divine Love alone will remove anger and envy and hatred.” Sathya Sai Baba - 28 February 1964.

Over and over again, Swami has told us that selfless service is the paramount means of experiencing divine love and that love and service are inseparable.

In Sathya Sai Speaks 28.34: November 21, 1995, He has said, “For the human being, love and service are like two wings, with the help of which, one should strive to realise the spirit.” And in SSS 10.32: November 20 1970: “On the spiritual path, the first step is selfless service. Through selfless service, one can realise the Divinity that is all this creation.” He describes seva as “the highest sadhana” and “the sincerest form of adoration of God”.

He also tells us: “Through sacrifice you will come to know that your real nature is charity. Charity does not mean that you have given some money to an individual or an organisation. The removal of all of the evil thoughts that are within you is true charity. Charity will, in turn, confer purity upon you. Once you have purity, there will be unity. And once you have unity, you can reach Divinity.” (Sathya Sai News Letter (U.S.A), Volume 13, Number 4, page 20)

At the last supper, the night before his crucifixion, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and dried them with a towel tied round his waist. He told them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13: 14-15)

This was a powerful message of humility, love and service that left a big impression on the disciples. It’s a little bit like Swami serving food to hungry people with his own hands - God putting Himself in position of servant to man in order to inspire us to serve others.

When we help others we experience love and joy. Swami defined joy as:

Jesus first
Others next
Yourself last

Above all else, Jesus emphasised and demonstrated love, compassion and forgiveness. Swami described him as “a person whose only joy was in spreading Divine love, offering Divine love, receiving Divine love and living on Divine love…a supremely pure and sacred person.” (Christmas 1979)

Through his words and actions, Jesus taught us to love each other as we love ourselves, to love even our enemies, and to forgive all those that hurt us - in other words, to “Love all, Serve all”. If we do this, divine joy manifests automatically.

Jo Pratt
Chairperson, Sathya Sai Group, Aylesbury Region 3, SSIO UK