What is the step between knowing that we are all God and realizing that we are all God?
Knowing that we are God means to have the firm and steady conviction that our real nature is the divine Self. This is called Self-confidence. Realising that we are God means to have the actual experience of our true nature as divine Love. This is called Self-realisation. Between Self-confidence and Self-realisation there are two major steps to be taken: Self-satisfaction and Self-sacrifice.
Swami gives a simple 4-step formula to proceed from knowledge to realisation:
- Self - confidence
- Self - satisfaction
- Self - sacrifice
- Self - realisation
The term Self-confidence in Sanskrit is Atma-visvasa, which literally means faith in Atmā, the Divine Self. This is important to understand, in order to not confuse the meaning of self with the psychological usage of the term, which refers to the individual personality with its limited characteristics. The term Atmā refers to the divine Self, which is beyond the limits of the individual self or little ego. The firm conviction that our real nature is the divine Atmā, beyond the body-mind complex, should be the foundation for the mansion of our life.
Upon this foundation we need to erect the walls of Self-satisfaction by learning to draw happiness from the inner source. This comes when our actions satisfy the divine Self, i.e. God within. Such kind of actions are those which are infused with the Human Values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence. The more one acts in this way, the more he/she has the sense of inner fulfillment and joy, as well as the expansion of consciousness from ‘I’ to ‘We.’
On the strong walls of Self-satisfaction we can then build the roof of Self-sacrifice by selflessly serving our fellow men and women for the purpose of uplifting society. There is a Sanskrit saying often repeated by Swami, which says: Nakarmanā na prajayā dhanena, tyāgena ekena amritatvam ānasuh, i.e. immortality is not attained through self-centered actions or progeny or wealth; it is attained only by sacrifice.
When the little self is thus set aside, the radiant sun of Self-realization will illumine the mansion of our lives. Swami says:
“Embodiments of Love! Whatever other beliefs you may cherish or not, have firm faith in God. All things in the world are liable to perish. The Self alone is eternal and changeless. It is unfortunate that the vast majority of mankind lead mundane lives forgetting God. Make God the foundation of your life. Carry on your normal duties. Duty is God. Work is worship. Spiritualise all your actions and treat whatever happens as actions for your good. Learn to experience perennial bliss by seeking union with God. Never forget God. Do not go after the things of the world. Have no fear of death. When your life is rooted in these three maxims, you will realise the Aathman.”
As an inner preparation for the first World Youth Festival on July 2016, a global sādhana or spiritual discipline programme has been developed for Sathya Sai Youth, referred to as the “Sadhana of Love”. This programme has been designed on the framework of the above 4-step formula and its purpose is to support the realisation of one’s true nature as pure love. It is therefore strongly recommended for those who really yearn for Self-realization, to participate in this programme as described in the following link: Sadhana of Love.
For more guidance regarding spiritual practice, you may also refer to the previous question: “What exactly is spiritual discipline (Sadhana)? What are some ways we can incorporate it into our daily lives in order to help us achieve Self-realization?”