So first-time visitors and guests to our Center may feel comfortable, the following Customs, Protocols and Ten Guiding Principles are offered.
Sai Ram Greetings and Good-bys: "When you meet each other, do not shout "Hello" or By-by". Let the moment of meeting be sanctified by the remembrance of God" Sathya Sai Baba. This conveys the acknowledgment of the divinity in each other.
Attire: Wear clean and modest clothing that is comfortable and loose fitting. Revealing clothes or shorts are not appropriate.
Shoes: Generally, shoes are removed and left at the entrance to the Center, but in the USA this is optional. Wear your shoes if you wish. Removing shoes is a common custom in many countries. It signifies a sign of respect for leaving the "dust of the world" behind.
Silence: We ask that you speak softly or maintain silence while in the Center. This helps to maintain spiritual calmness and will not disturb others in prayer or meditation. "Practice silence, for the voice of God can be heard in the region of the heart only when the tongue is still. Silence is the speech of the spiritual seeker." Sathya Sai Baba
Seating: Men and women sit separately. This protocol is followed in all Sathya Sai Baba functions throughout the world because it reduces worldly distraction and makes it easier to concentrate on the Inner Divine. Chair or floor seating is available. If you wish to sit on the floor you may want to bring a cushion.
Time: Please plan to arrive on time to quietly and comfortably seat yourself before the program begins.
Singing: Men and Women alternate with leading the devotional singing. Songs may be sung in a variety of languages and are sung in unison-style or bhajan-style (sing and respond).
Vibuthi: At the conclusion of the Devotional singing at our meetings, Vibuthi is distributed into the right-hand of attendees and given as prasad (blessed food). Vibuthi is gray ash materialized or blessed by Sai Baba and signifies the ultimate destruction of worldly desires. Vibuthi is believed to have healing properties. Many take vibuthi and eat it or touch it to their third eye (between their eyebrows), throats, necks, heads etc. Receiving or partaking of vibuthi is optional.
Money: There is no cost to attend a Sathya Sai Baba Center or to become a member. There are no membership or annual dues. No one is permitted to ask for money. No collection basket is passed. Sathya Sai Baba urges utmost caution and honesty in all dealings involving money. Center service projects are run on voluntary and anonymous contributions from the members.
Children: It is the responsibility of parents to maintain control of their children at all times. When there are enough children of Sai Spiritual Education age, a program will be offered.
Site: We are presently using space in the Shanti Yoga Center for Harmony for our Center program. Please be respectful and remain in the designated rooms.
Ten Guiding Principles
Sathya Sai Baba also emphasizes that man has important obligations to society. He stresses the importance of performing one's duty in society for the benefit of all. It is the society that can provide an environment and a foundation for people to grow spiritually more easily. His teachings on serving society are summarized in His "Ten Guiding Principles":
1. Love and serve your country. Do not be critical of others' countries.
"Have a sense of pride in your motherland. Just as your mother has given birth to you, so too the land has given birth to you. Whatever country you belong to, you should have a sense of patriotism. You should not indulge in criticizing other countries or people belonging to other nations. Having trust and faith in your own country, you won't try to put down any other country. Never bring grief or sorrow to your country. To have pride in one's own motherland is important." Sathya Sai Baba
2. Honor and respect all religions as pathways to God.
"Never have hatred toward any religion. Honor and respect all religions equally. Even as you are a citizen of your motherland but respect all countries, also respect all religions equally." Sathya Sai Baba
3. Love all humanity as part of your family.
"Develop a sense of the brotherhood of man. Look upon each person as your own brother. There is only one caste, the caste of humanity. All of us belong to the human race, so everyone is equal. Therefore, love each one equally." Sathya Sai Baba
4. Keep home and surroundings clean.
"Keep your own house and its surroundings pure and clean. This hygiene will keep you healthy and benefit your worldly life." Sathya Sai Baba
5. Help the needy with food, clothing, and shelter. Help them become self-reliant when possible.
"Be discriminating when dispensing charity. In the name of charity or philanthropy, we tend to do injustice to this country. Charity does not mean that the land should be full of beggars. We can provide some support and means for the beggars, but provide food, clothing, and other conveniences in such a way that you are not encouraging laziness and begging." Sathya Sai Baba
6. Be examples of honesty. Do not participate in any corruption such as bribery.
"Never give or take a bribe. Giving bribes, or accepting bribes, is contrary to the very name of the Sri Sathya Sai organizations. Bear this in mind continuously." Sathya Sai Baba
7. Curb jealousy, hatred and envy.
"We must seek ways to solve difficulties such as hatred, envy, and jealousy. To curb this sense of envy and jealousy, we must develop a broader outlook. Do not differentiate on the basis of race, caste, creed, or country. Follow your cultural and religious customs in your own home, but do not attempt to impose them on society. Rather than this, love each person as your own brother, not seeing him as belonging to another creed, religion, or country." Sathya Sai Baba
8. Develop self-reliance.
"Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Organizations should do things by themselves; they should not depend on others. You may be very wealthy and have servants and assistants to help in a few tasks, but your own work you must do yourself. If you wish to be of service to society, serve yourself first. One who will not serve society has no right to belong to a Sri Sathya Sai organization." Sathya Sai Baba
9. Observe your country’s laws and be exemplary citizens.
"Never ever go against the law of the land. Follow the letter of the law. The members of the Sri Sathya Sai organizations should follow the law in spirit also, and be models for the government." Sathya Sai Baba
10. Adore God, abhor sin.
"You must love God and avoid sin. Love God incessantly. As long as you keep committing sins, God will never be yours." Sathya Sai Baba