Phyllis Krystal is a psychotherapist and lives in the USA. She is a long time devotee of Sathya Sai Baba and has authored many books. Sai Baba, the Ultimate Experience was her first book and tells much of her life story and her discovery of Sai Baba. Her next two books explain the methods she uses in her work, Cutting the Ties That Bind. She has also written two books focussed on applying Sai Baba’s teachings to everyday life, Taming the Monkey Mind and Reconnecting the Love Energy. At 84, Phyllis Krystal leads an active life, travelling, giving workshops and serving as an advisor on the National Young Adult Advisory Committee of the Sai Baba Organisation in the USA.
Phyllis Krystal recently attended a retreat held for the Young Adults in America. The concerns of youth in the modern world are expressed very succinctly in this Question and Answer session. The questions of the young adults reveal the illnesses that exist in modern society, which has largely disregarded the eternal values of Love, Peace, Truth, Integrity and Character. Indirectly, the youth indicate the pressures of living in Kali Yuga, the age of discord.
This question and answer session reveals the sincerity of young adults in their quest to be examples of Swami’s teachings amid the pollution and confusion of this age. We let the youth raise their questions and read Mrs Krystal’s replies.
The Responsibility of the Youth
The youth are the ones who will make the leap into the Golden Age. It is very difficult for elders to change their old habits. It’s much easier for younger people to do it. I think the hope of the Sathya Sai Organisation and Sathya Sai Baba’s message rests on your shoulders. You have got to find your own methods to deal with the situations you face in today’s world. You will have a lot of criticism, but that will make you strong. If you stay in contact with the Sai within, He will guide you, because the young people are very, very close to His heart. It’s not that difficult, it just takes practice. He does not want you to advertise Him. When people ask, then you can talk about Baba, but you cannot push Baba on to people. If we carry Swami’s message properly, people will be attracted and they will ask, “What is different about you? You seem much happier than the majority of the people.”
Remaining focused on Swami during Times of Difficulty
We have all gone through times when we felt disoriented and confused. I know so many people who have gone to see Swami in India and all kinds of things erupt inside of them. It is like He has a witches broom, and He stirs it so that all of the scum comes to the top. If we don't know we have got these negative tendencies inside, we cannot fix them. We have to be aware of the things inside of us that we have suppressed. As soon as we make contact with Swami, even if we don’t see Him, we will be faced with a lot of difficult changes. The only thing you can do is say, “I am going to give it to you, Swami.” He says, “Give me all your negativity, I can deal with it.” Don’t let it overpower you. Just imagine you are taking hold of it and throwing it at Him. Have an actual image of it and that will make it a lot more real.
When our Devotion to God is Inconsistent
We all go through times when our devotion is inconsistent. There is no way around it. It is a natural process. Don’t worry about it. Just hang on to His feet during the times that you are feeling that way. Keep asking Him. That is what enlightenment is all about. When we let that light within us, or the Baba within us, run our lives completely, that will be enlightenment. Too many of us look into the future, or we are looking at other people and competing with them. We should never try to compete with anybody else. It is useless. You don’t know where you are on your path; you don’t know where they are. The only one you can compare with is with the person you used to be.
Eating Satwic Foods
This is a tough issue for me because Swami has told me that I must eat fish and chicken because of my rare blood type. A majority of people can be vegetarians and it is perfectly correct for them, but there are a few people in the world who can’t be vegetarian and I happen to be one of them. This is what I mean by Swami telling things to some people, just for that person. It is quite wrong for all of us to say, “Well, He told that person (such and such), so it is for everyone.” It is not always for everyone.
Looking Well kept does not mean Focusing on the Ego
Finding the balance between looking neat and materialistic concerns takes practice, like everything else. It requires a lot of planning ahead. You can have an internal conversation with Swami. It is amazing how the ideas will just come to your head if you practice talking to Swami all day long. You can get so much more done during the day with much less effort and no strain. He makes a great point of keeping balance in every aspect of our life.
He says that the body is the temple and that we must take care of it. We must keep it clean. We must keep it attractive, as much as possible. He likes us to be well groomed. I think some people look positively pale without make-up. I am sure He wouldn’t want flamboyant make-up. He wants us to fit into our culture but not deviate from His teachings. It is a very fine line. It does not mean standing hours and hours in front of a mirror. Keep a standard for yourself and do not deviate from it. Then, you won’t have the problems that many of you are incurring without realising it. He is very strict about the way you dress. He doesn’t want the dress of either the boys or the girls to be distracting to the opposite group. He does not like people to look untidy. He made a point to me that we must dress correctly for whatever job we do, for whatever group of people we are with, because it is by our dress that we are accepted (in society). If you are dressing according to Swami’s principles and still receive negative looks and attention, just try to be oblivious to it. There are many things that happen in this world, and we cannot control all of them.
Friendship with Members of the Opposite Sex and Dating
If you are going to date at all, you should with the intention of marriage. In some cultures, the two partners don’t even meet until suddenly they are faced with one another. In our Western culture we get to know one another before we get into a marriage relationship. I think that is why some of the arranged marriages really worked out better than we in the West would understand. They did put people together who were compatible. Sometimes I see people who are completely incompatible, and I wonder how they ever got together in the first place.
Many of the things that Baba says are for the Indians. With Westerners, He will frequently say, “Your customs are different.” When you have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex, there is an attraction that is naturally built in so that the race can survive. He always says that until you are married, the relationship shouldn’t be consummated, for the simple reason that it is like playing musical beds. This is not good for either of the people. It is not conductive to a spiritual path, and it loads each of the people with all kinds of tensions. He tells all the boys at His College to look at every woman either as their mother if they are older, or as their sister. He is quite strict with them.
There are a lot of questions about how we should work out Swami’s teachings everyday life. Swami always seems to say that when you are worshipping, the two sexes should be separate. He gives very specific reasons for this. When people of the opposite sex are sitting close to one another, or mingling, there is a current that occurs, like an electric current, between the different people. It distracts the people from worship. In our country you cannot avoid friendships with members of the opposite sex. We are thrown together in work and school situations. We naturally develop friendships.
How to deal with Lust
Some people have asked me, “What can I do about sexual desires? What can I do about lust?” I know that the temptations are out there now more than ever because we are bombarded through television, movies and other media. That is why Swami warns us not to fill our minds with undesirable movies or magazines or any kind of media that stimulates us just on the physical level, just on the sexual, it has to be elevating. He says in the Ceiling on Desires program that it is not just what you take in through your mouth that is food, it is what you take in through all of your senses. You have to watch and be responsible for yourselves, each one of you. That is the most important thing we can do. Don’t let somebody else tell you how you should behave. Just be strong. The only way you can be strong is to keep asking Baba to help you.
The best way to deal with these sexual desires is to sit with Baba’s picture and talk to Him as if you were sitting in front of His feet in the ashram. Tell Him exactly what you are feeling and what questions you want Him to answer. You have to be very dedicated and really do it. I told you, I always ask Swami to think, feel, speak, act and love through me all day. That really sets the stage. Then you’ve got solid ground to work on because you’ve asked Him. Only when you ask Him, will He help you. He’s made a point of that many, many times in my presence. You have got to ask. A lot of people say, “Oh Swami, I don’t like to keep asking you all in the time.” But He says, “That’s your duty.” He cannot help until you ask. You must find a time when you are seriously asking from your heart to His. And that is the only way you can control, or give up some of the feelings that you at your age are going to have. It’s perfectly natural. Built into the human system is this attraction, just so there will be more people born. Don’t feel guilty about it, just accept it. “Yes, I’ve got these feelings. All right Swami, if this isn’t appropriate right now then you take care of it.” He wants our temple (the body) to be kept as clean as possible so that we can worship Him within our own bodies.
The Significance of a Monogamous Relationship
Baba says we have the duty to keep our temples as free and clean as possible. When men are nervous or tense, they can release tension through the sexual act. What does that do to the woman? She receives all of that negative energy. A woman is like a receptacle that receives all of this negative energy. This is one of the reasons why Swami does not want people to have extramarital sex. Also, you’ve made a commitment that you are going to stay with the one person. You have to be very fastidious about keeping your vessel clean. Men have to take responsibility for themselves and their own tensions. There are many ways to release tension other than by that particular method; it cannot just be on a completely physical level. You have to realise that you are spiritual beings, not just animals or bodies.
Baba is very strict about our not being like animals. In fact, He says that many human beings are not like animals, they are lower than animals because animals have a very strict routine and they are very careful, but human beings can go overboard in many different ways. When you are in a relationship that is permanent, or have made a commitment, you are really married in that sense of the word. You are staying with that one person. You can work out all of your emotional and mental tensions together. You can talk about them. But, when you have several relationships, just promiscuous ones, you don’t do that. Instead, you get stuck with all of the anxiety that each one gave to the other.
Who is the Right Person to Marry?
People are put together where there is a karmic connection. They have something to work out. You can feel the connection. It is almost like you already know the person. If that doesn’t help, you just have to pray that Baba will bring you the person that He wants you to be with.
The Role of Marriage in Spirituality
In our culture, men and women get together. They have friendships. They have relationships. However, whether or not it is acceptable depends upon what is involved. Swami feels very strongly that God should come first. All relationships come second. We should not be attached to any other relationship as firmly as the one with the God within us. He says that we are God. That has to be our chief concern. He says that when two people get together in marriage it is very much like taking two very rough stones and putting them in a jar and shaking them up together so that the rough edges of each one, having friction with each other, can polish each other’s rough edges. He says that is essentially what relationships are all about. It is the same with families. It is the friction that is necessary to get all of the rough edges of each person completely smoothed out.
You have certain things to work out in this life karmically. There are certain things in past lives where we have digressed from the proper way of living, and we’ve got to work them out. If we keep on changing partners, we are not giving ourselves a chance to work out the karma we could be working out with that other person. Sometimes the tensest relationships are the most helpful for both of the people. He does not say, don’t have sex when you are married, except after the age of sixty when a spiritual marriage is performed. He gave my husband and me a spiritual marriage, and made the point that He was marrying us the second time in a Vedic ceremony so that we could help one another on the spiritual path. Then, He always says that the sexual relationship between the two people can gradually be reduced so that you are working just on your spiritual journey.
Realising our Mission on Earth and Channeling our Talents
I don’t know and I have lived 84 years. I don’t think it matters. We worry too much about it. If you let Swami run your life and guide you, you don’t have to worry about these things. If you just keep asking Him to think, feel, speak, act, and love through you, gradually, as you practice this, He will be able to do this more and more. You must also place a ceiling on your desires because the only thing that gets in the way of our connection with Swami is if we do or do not want something. The wonderful part is that He can get through the areas where you know you are lacking, because there is nothing to get in His way. He gets to use you as an instrument in the areas that you cannot do something well.
FROM: Spiritual Impressions, July-August, 1998, pages 48-51