Weekly Food For Thought

Sacred in the Ordinary

I’m finally done my chores, and now I can sit back, relax, read, write, or do nothing at all. I’m done folding the laundry, doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen floor, I still need to take the trash out, but that can wait till tonight.

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually enjoy doing the dishes these days. Standing at the kitchen sink, looking over the geranium plant, out into the infinite blue sky, fluffy grey clouds, thousands of tiny black birds noisily flying across, it’s always a different scene – alive and flowing. The water from the faucet, a steady stream, warm and soothing on my hands, I wash the dishes at a slow pace, no rush, no hurry.

There’s something about the monotony of these chores that is somehow soothing. Picking up a piece of clothing from the laundry basket, folding it, and putting it on top of the pile of folded ones, then reaching for the next one, fold, set aside, then the next one, and the next one, and so on. Just like putting my attention on breathing during meditation, I’m pouring all my attention into this one movement – reaching, folding, putting it aside, reaching, folding, putting it aside.
Or when I’m sweeping the floor, starting at one corner and ending up at the other, gathering dust along the way, the same motion rhythmically repeating, over and over again, until I end up with a clean floor. It reminds me of the monks raking the stones in a Zen rock garden, the monk’s complete concentration on the one movement, starting at the center and repeating it again and again until he reaches the outer edge, and a crisply raked garden.

The monotony is soothing, and the process very satisfying, but it’s also satisfying to see a clean kitchen floor at the end of the process, a neat pile of folded laundry, or a clean, empty kitchen sink. 
I try not to groan about my chores anymore but wait for when I get time to do them slowly and peacefully. 

“Have always some work to do, and do it well that you will get joy.”

― Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Speaks: Discourses of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Delivered During 1970

Weekly Food For Thought

Shyam’s interactions with Shirdi Sai

 At age two, Shyam arrived in Shirdi with parents.

 From his service, his father had just retired. 

He settles down in Shirdi with wife and son. 

Shyam’s full name was ‘Shyam Mohan’.

While Shirdi Sai Baba would call him ‘Shyam’,

‘Mohan’ was the name his parents called him by.  

Put to school, he duly completes his studies,

 Gets trained as teacher, and teaches in Shirdi. 

During the day Shyam is busy teaching in school.

His school classroom adjoins Baba’s room. 

 On the wall between the two rooms is an open ventilator. 

Shyam curiously views Baba at nights from this aperture.

 He notices Baba talks to Himself, show anger at times, 

Or laughs to Himself, and does odd, unusual things.

 Baba sleeps on an 18 inch wide plank suspended from roof. 

From this narrow perch, Shyam fears Baba would fall off.

Once Shyam dares to ask Baba (while massaging His feet): 

“Swami, all of the nights, you don’t seem to sleep! 

You laugh to Yourself and also talk ceaselessly. 

What untold secrecy lies behind all this?” 

‘You simpleton! Do you think you are the only person, 

Present in this world, about whom I am concerned? 

There are numerous people praying to Me. 

I converse with all of them!” replies Sai. 

“When I turn My finger, their mindsets, I turn! 

When I laugh, I am amused by their follies, absurd. 

These are the interactions I carry out with My devotees.

All the while guarding, guiding and correcting!”

Shyam asks: “Swami, after classes, I have spare time.

 Let me stay here with You and serve You then!”

 It so happens, there is a lady called Lakshmibai, 

Who cooks and offers fresh food daily to Swami. 

Shyam would mostly join her and ably assist, 

In preparing and cooking jowar rotis. 

From Lakshmibai, Shyam picks up tasty brinjal recipes.

Since Baba has a great liking for brinjal curries! 

At times, among devotees, Baba would fly into tantrums! 

Some days he would throw his baton at one of them! 

Shyam once asks: “Swami, You hurl the stick in rage,

  Suppose he dies, will You not be disgraced?” 

Baba: “Shaitan! You keep quiet! His life in in My Hands. 

He will die only if I permit and condescend! 

He will come to his senses only if he sees Me this way…”

(Baba corrects people with dire threats, harsh words!)

 “With this sole aim, I display My anger for a purpose!” 

(This mystery was revealed to Shyam and none else!) 

Thus, Shyam went on faithfully serving Sai.

Deriving utmost joy by rendering such service. 

Keeping Shyam by His side and letting him serve,

 In proximity, Shyam spent many a blithe year. 

When Shyam passes away, Baba sheds three tear drops! 

Devotees say: “All is in Your Hands! Why this anguish?” 

Baba responds: “I have no grief. Almost all his sins were wiped out. 

By these 3 drops, his balance sins are also washed away!” **

Jai Sairam.


1**– Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol.23, Ch, 28.