Relevance of Swami’s Education in my life in the corporate world…

Does being a student of Sri Sathya Sai make a big difference? The answer is a straight “Yes”. How does our Beloved Bhagawan inspire His students, molding them into individuals who can claim to be different from the big lot…? Read on C. Gopal Rao, an MBA from batch 1990 of SSSIHL, who shares his ‘secret’ of success in life, from a Sai student’s perspective. The writer rightly concludes, revealing that, Bhagawan’s Institute taught him to think and Bhagawan taught Him to live! (The article dates back three years).

I attribute my success to Swami’s protection and grace and mostly to the incredible training that I received at His Lotus Feet.

In this article, I am going to be distinguishing specifically what He created for me as His student which made the biggest difference and caused lasting results and strength in my life in the corporate world.

The 4 critical aspects that have made the difference are:  (1) Service / Making a Difference (2)  Participation (3) Being present (4) Integrity.

Service / Making a Difference: My life with Bhagawan resolved what my life is going to be for. The choice for most human beings is whether to earn a living or be of service.

Once, I became clear that this life is for service and I am here to serve, I began a big inquiry into what service is and how am I going to translate that into corporate life. Service as we know is Seva, serving the Lord in humanity. So, the people we serve actually are doing us a favour. It is not the other way around. They accept our service and thus allow us to make our life useful. It made me humble and that created a state that I call being a student or what Zen Masters call ‘beginners mind’.

Swami once materialized a photo of Himself talking to Himself. When He gave it to me, He said, “This is Advaita in practice. Treat all as Swami and yourself too as Swami. The difficulty is when the other Swami is behaving badly. At that time, you remain the good Swami.”

That altered how I viewed my superiors, orders given to me and my job. It was no longer a way to rise to the top, but an opportunity to do a job so well enough that I am totally consumed by it. My job as work disappeared and what happened was that job and play became one. I stopped shirking responsibilities. I was known to my seniors and bosses that I can be depended on to get the job done. I no longer ‘go to work’. My family has to impress on me to go to sleep. I manage to work 18 hours a day. I do not experience stress.

I am alive, energetic and full of enthusiasm.

Participation: The first time I was blessed with an Interview, Swami blessed me by patting my head and I wept. All He kept saying was “Life is a Game-Play it.” At that time it was a good jargon. But as my life unfolded as a student in Parthi, Bhagawan made me sing a Bhajan for Him in Kodai, asked me to give a speech at the Hostel, allowed me to massage His feet on a number of occasions, ensured that I did well in studies and participated in all extra-curricular activities. That time I just felt grateful that He was fulfilling all what I had prayed for.

I must mention here that I do not possess any special talents – I can’t play any instrument, can’t sing well, did not have much confidence. Later I began to realize what He had done to me. He had made me participate in the game of life. That made me a player. A player plays full out. He does not bother about his image and never carries a grudge when another player scores over him. All that a fallen player does is – he gets up and plays again. He is left a stronger person at the end of the day. This way of being, boosted my self-confidence and slowly I began drawing strength from within and saw what my plus points are. I became clear on what I can contribute and how I perform within a team. I started expressing my strength rather than hiding my weaknesses. I stopped getting intimidated by other peoples’ apparent brilliance – better university degrees, classy appearances, use of jargon, politics, etc.

I had simply stopped comparing myself with others and rather was focused on what difference I can make. The other thing I discovered was as long as I kept engaging in life and taking the initiative, I had tremendous vitality. In the past 12 years, even though I have had small ups and downs in my health, I have not taken a single day of sick leave. Even when I suffered a slipped disc, I kept working including leading a programme, lying on the floor and speaking for 15 hours a day, for 4 days in a row. Look at Bhagawan’s energy; He is full of it and I learnt that He is active not because He has energy; He has energy because He is active.

Being Present: Bhagawan’s statements ‘General Knowledge + Commonsense is critical‘ and ‘Being is lost in Becoming as Life is lost in Dreaming‘ could be the most wisest statements that I have ever heard.

One cannot excel if one is not present. Swami taught me that everything is sacred. Nothing is less than holy. Nothing is insignificant. I remember how He would insist that while serving sambar, I had to stir every time while I served so that none of the vegetables settled down. He insisted that I treat the jute sacks with the same care as I treated the saris that I was folding; the drama rehearsal had to have some liquid in the cup so that it looked authentic while I acted out drinking tea from the cup. ‘Being Present’ allowed me to have rare leadership quality called ‘charisma’. Charisma is not about our good looks or our style. It is the quality to attract attention. It is the quality of having a presence. It is caused by being present and not trying to get somewhere. It is a function of being here – now.

I now do my job to do my job, not to make money. I greet someone to greet them…not as a formality. People experience me as ‘I am there’ in conversations, I am available to them. It allowed me to be interested in people. Interesting people are interested.

Integrity: Though featured last here, I must emphasize that this quality is the one that is most critical. Swami stresses Integrity as ‘thought – word – deed’ being one. This is the same as being whole and complete, nothing out of place, completeness. The more I practised integrity, the more I experienced high level of self worth, self-esteem and confidence. My word mattered. I learnt that the pathway to integrity was by honouring my word as myself. If I am not my status, my position, my body, my thoughts and opinions, then the closest I can come to who I am is that I am my word.

In the corporate world, what matters is your reputation. Imagine being known and respected for being someone who delivers on what they said they would do by when they will. In my appraisals, I would score 100% on reliability. My boss would say, “You may not be glamorous as others are, but you are 100% reliable. Others will say they will do it but they won’t. You will argue for more time but always deliver by when you said you would. I can trust you.”

Integrity is equal to earning trust. What I say, can be trusted. Honesty, truth, being straight, keeping your promises, being true to one’s ideals and principles, are what created my character as what I am today and what I am known by people around me. Of course this does not mean that I am perfect. I do break my promises but I can be trusted to acknowledge it, clean up the mess and demonstrate my word over time and reclaim the trust that was lost. I do not justify breaking my promises.

Integrity forced me to also be unreasonable with myself. Unreasonable does not mean being thoughtless with others but it means that I do not accept my justifications and reasons why I will not do what I said I would do. An unreasonable person produces miraculous and breakthrough results. The reasonable person produces reasons and if at all results, then they are mediocre and reasonable.

The interactions and interviews with Swami has been the best education, the best MBA that one can ever receive. The Institute taught me to think, and Swami taught me to live!

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II