When do you move from becoming a Devotee’s “child” to a Devotee of Swami?
It is a blessing if one is born into a Sai family. Initially, the child will be naturally involved along with the family in Sai activities, prayers at home, and a belief in Swami. As the child grows up, however, it is not only inevitable, but also healthy, for the child to start questioning and trying to develop a deeper understanding of who Sai Baba is, and more importantly, what Sai Baba's teachings mean in his or her life. Being born in a devotee's family does not mean one will become a devotee him/herself.
To become a devotee of any form of God is a process. It requires having faith in Him/Her. This gradual transition of establishing one's own identity, and one's own faith is pivotal in having a solid foundation. How do we develop this faith? Interestingly, Swami has talked about it in two different approaches, both in the same discourse!
- Inquiring Into Truth
“Whatever anyone may say, each is entitled to their own hunger, their own faith, their own kind of madness...you cannot recognize God with worldly knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is essential. To acquire it, inquire into the Truth.”
Swami then went on to narrate a story about believing in something and then practicing it.
“When you speak, you must weigh each word carefully. What you say, demonstrate in action. Have faith in the concept first, then practice it.
Some time ago, I asked a college boy, “Who are you?” The boy recollected that Swami teaches Ayam Atma Brahma. He replied, “I and You are One, Swami.” I said, “It seems your intellect has really blossomed today! Are you really the same as Swami?” He said, “Yes, Swami, You and I are the same.” “Then go outside and give darshan to the devotees,” I said! Who would look at him if he went to give darshan? [laughter] But if faith is deep, God will definitely appear through you as well. People only talk without practicing.”
- Have Blind Faith
“But to believe blindly without inquiry is also great devotion because it is born of total faith. The infant places unquestionable faith in the mother and believes whatever the mother says. This cannot be called foolishness.”
Through both these examples, Swami talks about having faith. Some 'children of devotees' will blindly continue their faith and devotion to Swami. And some will need to inquire deeper, have their own faith-building experiences, and come to their own conclusions about what Swami means to them.