Stages of Sadhana

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Hislop: Once he has tasted sugar, one never mistakes salt for sugar. If that bliss of which Swami speaks is our real nature, how is it that we confuse the unreal for the real?

Sai: You have not tasted either the salt or the sugar, but are just looking at them and imagining them.

Hislop: When one is merged in the Divine bliss, is one aware of it?

Sai: He is the witness of his bliss. The person loses his limited awareness for God’s total awareness. Deep sleep is samadhi, where there is no world and no mind but only the experience of ‘I.’ Freedom is that same experience in full awareness.

Hislop: At various times, Swami mentions happiness, joy, and bliss. Is there a difference?

Sai: Happiness is temporary; others give it to us. Next comes joy. One is joyful while filling the stomach¾it comes and goes. But bliss is one’s rightful nature; it does not come and go. Bliss is not something that comes to one; it is one’s real nature and is permanent.

Hislop: If one is wholly absorbed in God, who will take care of the body?

Sai: In waking and dreams, the mind is there, but who takes care in deep sleep? God takes care. Who takes care of the body at any time? One side may be paralyzed; can you make it move? The genuine saints and yogis in the Himalayas—they have no way to take care of their bodies. It is God who takes care.

Hislop: Baba says that in sadhana at a certain stage the exterior nature ceases. How is that?

Sai: There are 10 stages in sadhana, each cognized by sounds of various types ranging from just sound, through vibrations, bell, flute, conch, Om, thunder, and explosion. The 10th is pure form. Then the senses are transcended. Until then, everything is in the sense realm. Above the senses, there is the state of bliss, the universal body of God, which is light.

Hislop: Is that state of bliss there only for a time? What happens then in the daily round of living?

Sai: That state, when fully realized as natural, always remains. Then the world is bliss, always bliss. Think God, eat God, drink God, breathe God, and live God.

Hislop: Does everyone pass through these sadhana stages?

Sai: No. One may go directly to the transcendental state, or to the stage number 6 or 7 or any way at all. It is not uniform.

Hislop: What should be one’s attitude to these sadhana stages as one encounters them?

Sai: The states change, but the attitude should be unchanging.

Hislop: But what value should one give to the various stages?

Sai: The sadhaka will not be satisfied with any of the states because it is complete union that is desired. Desire remains strong and constant until the transcendental bliss is realized and then desire ceases. Who is the poorest man in the world?

Hislop: The man without God?

Sai: No. The man with the most desires is the most poor. Until we realize the desireless state of pure bliss, we are in poverty.

A Visitor: One gains a measure of spiritual understanding, but in the next life it is all swept away and all is lost?

Sai: We say, ‘I am not the body, mind or intelligence, because they are impermanent.’ These are of the same matter. They are not of different material. Just as butter, curds, buttermilk, ghee cannot again be joined to the others to once again constitute milk, in the same way the quality of spiritual being, once separated by churning the milk of the world, does not go back again into the world. The spiritual beingness is never lost once it is manifested.

Source: Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba