Peace: Ceiling on Desires. Light Meditation. Selfless Service Review. Spend the first ten minutes to review the Selfless Service study circle and supplemental materials What were the techniques you used?
Peace: Ceiling on Desires
Selfless Service Review • Spend the first ten minutes to review the Selfless Service study circle and supplemental materials • What were the techniques you used? • Spend a few minutes to share experiences from last week’s Sai Challenge. Share any insights as well as difficulties encountered during the challenge.
Introduction to Ceiling on Desires Before discussing Ceiling on Desires we must understand what desires are. Desire is defined as, “a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment.” Desires tend to mislead us into believing that They will disappear if once fulfilled Satisfaction can be gained through their fulfillment Swami insists that both of these beliefs are false: “Men do not realise that as their desires increase, their happiness diminishes. There is no limit to desires. They multiply like ants in an anthill. There is no sense of satisfaction, however much one may possess or enjoy.”
Introduction to Ceiling on Desires (con’t) Reduction of desires leads to the cultivation of peace, one of the core human values. Swami says: “Desires are like luggage which is a heavy burden in the journey of life. Less luggage more comfort makes travel a pleasure. Therefore, gradually reduce your desires. If you have less luggage, you will be more peaceful.” • Ceiling on Desires is a tool to help reduce desires by • placing limits on the usage of four key resources: • Food, • Money, • Energy, and • Time. “In the Sathya Sai Organization, a fourfold program of ceiling on desires has been laid down. This enjoins on everyone not to waste food, money, time and energy. Avoiding waste of these four forms of gifts from God is spiritual saadhana. It is the means to Self-realization.” The Ceiling on Desires Program was decided upon at the Tenth All India Conference of Sathya Sai Organizations in November 1982.
What is Ceiling on Desires? Food • Avoiding wastage. Swami says, “Don’t waste food. Food is God. Eat as much as it is necessary to eat. But do not throw away food by taking too much in your plate.” • Consuming less. Swami says, “Mitha thindi, athi hayi.’ Moderate food gives immense ease.” Money • Avoiding avaricious accumulation and excessive expenditure. Swami advises that, “A man should own only as much wealth as is essential. It is like the size of his shoes. If the shoes are too loose, he cannot walk; if they are too tight, he cannot wear them. Too much money is a torture; rich people will agree with this judgment.”
What is Ceiling on Desires con’t? Energy • Conserving energy. Swami says, “Don’t waste energy. Energy enters into every one of our actions. When you see, speak, hear, act or think energy is expended. In every one of these activities you should see that you do not waste your energies unnecessarily.” Time • Avoiding time waste. Swami exhorts, “Do not waste time. Time wasted is life wasted. Time is God.” • Spending time in sacred activities. Swami says, “We should try to make time our servant. It means spending our time in good thoughts and good deeds.”
Why is Ceiling on Desires important? A short story to illustrate the point. There lived in ancient Greece a king. One day, while walking in his garden, he saw an elderly satyr asleep in the flowers. Taking pity on him, the king let him go without punishment. Hearing about this, God Dionysus rewarded the king with one wish. The king hastily said, “I wish that everything I touch should turn to gold." And so it was. When the king approached and touched the beautiful flowers in his garden they stood rigid and golden. The king grew hungry and thin, for whenever he tried to eat, he found that his meal had turned to gold. His lovely daughter, at his loving touch, turned hard and fast to gold. His clothes, his bed, his friends, and eventually the whole palace was gold. The king feared his whole kingdom would turn to gold unless he did something right away. He asked Dionysus to return everything the way it had been and take back his golden touch. Dionysus took pity on him and granted his request. Instantly, the king was poorer than before, but richer, he felt, in what really mattered. This king was none other than Midas.
Why is Ceiling on Desires important (con’t)? The moral of the Midas story is that desire without limits can lead to ruin. On an individual level, desires left unchecked translate to loss of peace. Swami says, “How is peace to be secured? Only when desires are reduced will peace be secured. As desires grow, peace is lost.” On a global level, uncontrolled desires can lead to natural calamities. Swami warns, “Nature is more progressive than man, and to protect Nature, man has to exploit it within limits. When man tampers with Nature recklessly, it reacts adversely and trouble arises. In order to protect Nature, man has to practice ceiling on desires. He should not trigger the negative aspect of Nature.”
Why is Ceiling on Desires important (con’t)? A few examples of negative global effects that result when desires are left unchecked: Food • Obesity affects 31% of US population • that is one in three people • Health problems: diabetes, heart disease, etc • Over-production leads to waste Energy • Greenhouse gas emissions global warming • Weather effects, e.g. Katrina, tsunamis, etc • Oil crisis
Discussion Questions • Of the four resources mentioned (food, money, time, or energy), which is most challenging for you to place limits on? • How has the discussion so far changed your perspective on desire and the need to limit desires? • Discuss one situation where you applied a ceiling on your desires and how you felt. What was the result? • Would you use organic products? Why or why not? • How can we limit all our desires and be truly desire-less?
Swami Says • It should be realized that every organ in the body has a limit to what it can do. It is dangerous to use it beyond that limit. This applies to almost everything in life. • Desire is the consequence of identification with the physical frame. Give that up and you are given up by desire. • The mind becomes bound with attachment when it dwells upon an object, or desires it or dislikes it. To get free from such bondage, the mind should be trained not to dwell on any object or desire it or dislike it. • You have to cut short your desires day by day. You are under the mistaken notion that happiness lies in the fulfillment of desires. But, in fact, happiness begins to dawn when desires are totally eradicated.
Techniques for practicing Ceiling on Desires Food • Eat in moderation by avoiding taking more than you can eat on your plate • Offer food to Swami before you eat. Do not waste food offered to Swami Time • Constantly inquire whether the activity you are engaged in is the best use of your time Money • Consider ways to conserve money, e.g. preparing a home-made lunch instead of eating out • Open a piggy bank with saved funds to regularly give to the needy (in some form) Energy • Avoid unnecessary talk. Swami says, “Unnecessary talk should be avoided as this results in waste of energy and reduction of memory power.” • Practice silence after bhajans
Sai Challenges Challenge yourself. Take up one or more of these Sai Challenges and keep track of it until the next study circle: Food • Swami says we should eat such that 50% of our stomach is filled with food, 25% with water, and 25% with air for digestion. Try eating according to this suggestion • Reduce your portions for lunch and dinner. Eat a healthy breakfast Time • Wake up immediately as your alarm goes off; don’t snooze • Limit your time in the shower to ten minutes or less Money • Identify your needs versus wants. Ask yourself if a purchase is a need or a want; if it is a want, try not to buy it Energy • Identify and eliminate one energy wasting activity in your routine each week • Reduce, reuse or recycle instead of throwing things away
Extreme Sai Challenges Food • Swami says, “People can live longer and more healthily, if only they eat the minimum, rather than fill themselves with maximum.” • Eat very small meals and throughout the day • Fast once a week. Take juice and fruit if you cannot fast on water alone Time • Time phone conversations so they do not go over a fixed limit, e.g. 5 minutes • Wake up thirty minutes earlier and utilize the time saved for sadhana Money • Keep just one credit card and recycle the rest • Make a list of your monthly expenses and cut out all non-essentials Energy • Speak only when absolutely necessary and avoid gossip • Replace all your light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs. Try to be conscious of energy efficient appliances
Next Steps • Take first 10 minutes during the next study circle to recap Ceiling on Desires • Practice Sense-Control, Leadership, Unity of Thought Word and Deed, Discrimination, Selfless Service, and Ceiling on Desires, building from previous study circles • Share experiences on how the week(s) after this study circle was different by practicing Sai challenges – ensure that a holistic picture is obtained by sharing both challenges and successes • Try to incorporate the Selfless Service sub-value in your efforts to observe Ceiling on Desires and discover similarities between the two sub-values • Practice Ceiling on Desires considering it an important step as an Ideal Sai Youth, with the goal of uniting with Swami and His mission
“There is some small confusion of terms, for there is no mind as such. The mind is a web of desires. Peace of mind is no desires, and in that state there is no mind.”- Conversations with God, p.44 JAI SAI RAM