ASSOCIATION WITH GOD
A visit to India to see Sathya Sai Baba, September 1996
by David Crockett Williams, Jr.
I began first hearing stories about the amazing Sai Baba in the late 1960's from long time friends of my parents who they had known over years of studying mysticism together. We started reading books about Baba and went to meetings to see movies and to hear first hand stories and see objects which He had materialized for visitors as "calling cards" to foster deeper investigation of the universal spiritual message to awaken humanity to its divine nature through exemplifying His teaching of the five Human Values: Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love, and Nonviolence. We heard many witnesses testify to Baba's manifestations of divine power, comparable to the stories about Jesus Christ, including healings, raising people from the dead, multiplication of food, bilocation, teleportation, and direct materialization of all sorts of objects including the mystical healing ash, Holy Vibhuti. With my parents I was blessed to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the USA bookstore in Tustin and to later personally receive the new Sarvodharma symbol from Elsie Cowan there to use on The White House Peace Pole. So moved was my father by Sri Sathya Sai that before he passed away on my 40th birthday in 1985, he had given his main legacy to me, his eldest son and namesake, his conviction that "Sai Baba is God".
During this early exposure time I was finishing my Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and then carrying on a financial services business until 1973. It was then that I renounced my life and, with high hopes but great sadness at leaving my unfaithful wife and beloved young son, applied myself wholeheartedly to the search for the truth about the human application of faith and belief. This search led me on a spiritual pilgrimage to investigate the mutual fulfillment of many different religious prophecies about the cause of paradise on earth, starting with the Hopi, Christian, and Buddhist prophecies. This path also led me to the understanding of my chemical physics thesis of Tetron Natural Unified Field Theory to mathematically explain the human mind's consciousness orientation function of light, a result of which was my predictions of new technologies in harmony with nature to replace nuclear and fossil fuel power, to neutralize radioactive material, transmit water, and antigravity. I became convinced by my experiences after five years that my life mission was to help as a regent to establish the Kingdom of Jerusalem Israel for the cause of the physical return of Jesus Christ and to unite the three faiths of Jerusalem in peace. During the past 18 years I have lived as a spiritual practitioner seeking to organize an effective global peace movement while collaborating with other scientists whose experiments and research substantiate my prediction of the "free energy" science and technology now available. During the same time I have become the father of two more children whose mother, like most people, came to find my beliefs very hard to stand up for.
So these were some of the things on my mind most deeply during the year, before this visit to India, which I spent with my mother doing a low key independent 1996 campaign for United States President after conducting the United Nations 50th Anniversary Global Peace Walk from New York to San Francisco January 15th to June 20th 1995. My marriage undertaken in 1978, after over two years of mutual commitment to the spiritual mission of seeing the prophecies fulfilled about paradise on earth, had been on epicly unstable ground since our first child came in 1979. Fighting the public and family pressures of incredulity, I worried and wondered what of my beliefs were really true.
Trusting as I have long since done that every single thing that happens does so in accord with the Will of God and in accord with the Law of God, I meditated on Sai Baba as an example of Higher Humanity and I nursed the hope that one day I could actually experience visiting him in person. This happened from September 5th to October 2nd 1996 and below is the beginning of the story about the impact of this visit and interview on my life.
For many years I have believed it to be unnecessary to physically visit this Lord Sai because I felt I understood the message of His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence pervading all of reality and accessible by all via the mind. Therefore I never allowed myself to desire to see Him in person for fear of having to apologize for a lack of this understanding. About four months before this visit I had an unusual dream. Normally I don't remember or put much faith in dreams, but Baba says that if you dream about God, this is a real experience. In my dream, I went into a bookstore, pulled a book off the shelf and looked at its cover which featured pictures of Sathya Sai Baba and his previous incarnation as Shirdi Sai Baba. Immediately I was overcome with an intense and unknown emotion whereupon tears streamed down my face. I took the book to the counter and bought it for seven dollars and then woke from the dream to find real tears had flooded down my face and my chest was wet down to my stomach. Since I knew from many many sources that The Lord does communicate with people in dreams as Sai Baba, I felt this one had a special significance and that my first visit may be approaching.
About two months later in mid-July my youngest brother had a surprise diagnosis and emergency surgery for colon cancer. He had been to India three times over the last few years to see Baba and he decided with his wife to take me on this visit, as they had taken my wife last year while I was gone on the Global Peace Walk. With a spiritual mission and concern for his health I gladly accepted this invitation, reflecting with anticipation that we would be with Baba for the September 28th birthday of Shirdi Sai.
Also I couldn't help wondering what I would learn about Ganesha since last year for a week or so in September Ganesha statues in many places around the world were shown on television in California to be mysteriously "drinking" milk. When I saw this last year I immediately thought of Sai Baba and wondered what was the connection. After a year of wondering the only quote I heard about it attributed to Baba when someone asked him about it was "why are you surprised?".
After about 22 hours of flight time over two days we landed in a big jet at the new airport in the remote spiritual boomtown of Puttaparthi in Andra Pradesh district of India (or Bharat, as they call their country, "Devotion to Bagawan [The Lord]"). To the right of the runway as we landed, on a warm day with puffy white clouds, we could see the reliefs, pink, pale blue, and golden, adorning the Bagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Super Specialties Hospital nearby the airport. As our plane came down on the runway and taxied to a stop, I reflected on the story of the eagles who walked on the ground during the land consecration ceremony at the hospital site as reported by one of its chief financial backers, Isaac Tigrett, who started the Hard Rock Cafe chain and lately the House of Blues "on a Mission from God" to "Love All, Serve All". As the plane approached its stopping point we saw a small crowd gathered at the small airport building waving happily as we disembarked. Two friends among the group greeted us and escorted us by taxi on the drive by apartments being built up, past the college, high school, Ashram of Prashanti Nilayam and the new hotels under construction to our rooms near the Ashram's northern Gopuram gate.
We had arrived on Krishna's birthday in the late afternoon which we spent visiting with our host who was celebrating her one year anniversary of moving to Puttaparthi after several years of conducting "Baba tours" from California. Since we were late arriving and Brother was weary, we listened to Baba's Divine Discourse echoing live through the outside corridors coming from the Mandir a stone's throw away while we watched video of Swami Baba's holy darshan (viewing The Lord in physical form). Thankful to have arrived safely, and so warmly welcomed, I went to sleep that night with great anticipation of seeing the Sathya Avatar of Sai Baba in person for the first time the next day. Wondering at the enormity of His declared Mission to bring about a Golden Age, and reflecting on so much that has been accomplished during the past three-fourths of his life (about two million people attended his 70th birthday celebrations November 1995 and he has said he will live to his 96th year or to about 2021 AD), like all the free schools and hospitals, service projects, etc., drifting to sleep my life itself began to seem as a dream.
Since I was the only one with an alarm clock my job was to awaken the others at 4 AM so we could prepare to leave by 5 AM to line up for admittance to the darshan area outside the mandir in hopes of getting seating space near one of the aisles where this Beloved World Teacher walks daily among his visitors to offer His Blessings, collect letters from devotees, select groups for interviews with Him, produce objects or vibhuti, offer padnamaskar (the blessing of touching the "Lotus Feet" of the Master), and to speak briefly to the few he chooses. This being in the middle of the rainy season the morning rains our first few days apparently caused the suspension of the seating lottery and we who came early got in early to place our cushions and sit near His walkway made of white polished stone two tiles wide and two tile widths from the audience lines which covered the black tiled area about two thirds the size of a football field. First outside in rows sitting in the damp sand, we awaited the dawn's early light in the warm moist air facing the "morning star" (Venus?) in the east. As the sky lightened we could see the various colored group scarves worn by others from so many countries around the world while to our left the monkeys greeted the dawn, near the statue of Hanuman at the beginning of the Mandir entryway, climbing around on the inside of the tall and highly decorated Gopuram gate which appeared as a colorful version of similar structures appearing in central and south America. As our row was called into line for entry to darshan area the silence in which we had been sitting for some time seemed to get louder as we filed in through the metal detector and waited through "fanny pack" searches, measures instituted fairly recently due to an incident of jealousy that left four students dead and someone's perceived need for increased external security to which the Swami acquiesced.
Hurrying to the best available seating the people streamed in over the next hour sitting in silence waiting for sunrise and the appearance of Beloved Baba from his residence above the Poornichandra auditorium to the east of the darshan area. Men and women sitting on separate sides of the area, he finally appeared at the signal of gentle music over the loudspeakers and slowly walked through the women's section taking letters, allowing some eager for padnamaskar, producing vibhuti with the characteristic circular motion of his palm held horizontally then seemingly "scooping" the item "from thin air" into his hand as if before it would otherwise fall to the ground from the vague "cloud" sometimes seen in front of his palm.
All of the thousands of those gathered followed with their eyes Baba's movement through the crowd, hoping for His look or glance or gesture in their direction, perhaps some slight exchange or psychic message in answer to a question or problem, and of course for the coveted interview for which few are selected while many wait and hope. Quite regularly as He walks through the crowds, while he is walking or during a pause, Baba will make one of two most unusual gestures. In one he puts his upturned hand in front of him about chest high and moves it for a few seconds as though he is "feeling the air". Everyone witnessing this feels it as a blessing. In the other, He abruptly points in front of him with a straightened index finger and appears to "write in the air" some brief phrase and then uncurl the rest of the hand flat and turning it palm up, sometimes as though "lifting" the message, occasionally followed by the first gesture. The effect on each person of these gestures I can't guess but one does feel something inexplicable if one feels they come in one's direction.
In this my first experience of Sai Darshan, we got to sit in the first few rows at the place where he enters the men's side after crossing the top of the entryway into the darshan/mandir area. On this occasion He glanced in our direction as He passed across the entryway then he felt the air and stopped to look for a long few moments out through the area's open gate down the entryway towards the Gopuram gate which is always kept closed except when Baba enters or leaves the Ashram, as he does almost daily to visit the hospital, a school, some ceremony, or his animals including the elephant Sai Gita which "adopted" Baba when she was a baby calf. During this serious faced long look outward to our right we were about 15-20 feet away and could stare intently at His face for the long moments of stillness and clearly feel that we were in his "peripheral vision". When he continued on he went past without a look or a glance in our direction on through the men's (gent's) area up to the mandir and escorted those he had selected into the small interview room, whereupon the music stopped and most folks got up and took leave, by then about 7:30AM. I had brought the envelopes from my mother and my wife but I wasn't close enough to offer them to Him on this first opportunity.
Only six weeks after his surgery, Brother felt too weak to stand in the long lines for meals at the famous Ashram Canteen so we joined our friends at The Prince restaurant for breakfast to talk and meet the rest of our group that our host was insistently forming with a special interest in Brother's healing. The two friends who had met us at the airport (Mary, our host, and Annika who had lived there over two and a half years) decided to tell over breakfast what must have been their most far out Baba stories. Mary reported a story that the late well known devotee Dr. Hislop went to visit Swami late one evening to find that He had detached His limbs which were strewn about the room. In the course of their conversation Baba said "don't worry I do this every so often", or something to that effect. Not to be outdone, Annika reported similar stories attributed to Shirdi Sai Baba, the previous incarnation of the present Avatar of Sathya Sai Baba who said he will come once more as Prema Sai Baba. Annika said that one of Shirdi Sai's devotees went out of the Ashram against instructions late in the night to answer the call of nature in a nearby field where in the dark she stumbled over detached human limbs. Of course she was shocked and in the morning came urgently to approach Sai Baba about it when before she could speak he said to her sternly, "you went out last night didn't you?, I am responsible for what you saw as I often do this special Sidhi (yogic practice) as an exercise in detachment", or something to that effect, "do not go out again in the night". Annika also reported that Shirdi Sai often removed his intestines and washed them in the river, once giving a female devotee the assignment of guarding from dogs after he hung them up to dry. Who knows what the purpose of these stories were or to what extent we could believe that they were true fact or parable.
Following Brother's lead and schedule, we rested in our rooms after breakfast through mid-day and then in the afternoon every day that we could I or we would go to afternoon darshan, usually after the lines had gone in about 3PM so as to avoid waiting in the afternoon heat and sun so we found seats farther back but quite frequently instead of interviews Baba would give a talk (Divine Discourse) usually after a couple of other speakers from the university or hospital. On the afternoon of this first day opportunity a physics teacher was one of the prior speakers and he also spoke the next two days. Swami's discourse was given spontaneously and forcefully in his native language of Telegu, the language of Andra Pradesh, and translated roughly after each paragraph into English by his translator. Often Baba would start talking again before the translator had finished the last section. In India there are many languages spoken in various parts of the country. Because of the British influence, English is widely utilized and studied but the British style of English. The result was that the translator spoke English with a British style and residual accent of his own native tongue, so along with the fast tempo of the discourses, the translation was very difficult for this American English speaker to follow. Just every so often a sentence or phrase or a few lines would be clear to me. Fortunately all His discourses are recorded and later published in English so someday I may be able to read what He said in entirety but the overwhelming impression was that much more was being communicated than words. My mind would many times be reeling in spontaneous reverie so even if the translator was slow and American, I probably couldn't have grasped all of it anyway since the psychic level activity was so high. The talks always seemed to start with His beautiful singing of some kind of different poem each day which was rarely translated anyway. He always started by addressing the audience as "deelee atma solo clara", or "embodiments of divine Atma", and the initial pace was measured. Gradually over the course of about an hour or less the pace would pick up requiring greater speed and enthusiasm by the translator until a peak time after which Baba would usually make a few statements in very clear English followed by the enthusiastic translator repeating the same thing in his accent of English. This humor was lost on most of the crowd but more than once in each talk the translator would chose an incorrect English word and instantly Baba would turn and gently correct him, which always drew general laughter as the corrected translation was given. It is widely said that Baba communicates in the interviews to each in his own language.
On our second day in the Ashram we were in the third row for morning darshan but I forgot to bring the letters I was asked to offer. Bagawan seemed to look at my right shoulder as he went by. The afternoon Discourse was preceded by an amazing talk by the Vice Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (Baba's free university near the ashram). The speaker obviously has a deep background in physics because his talk was over half an hour discussion of the history of modern physics on the theme of science and spirituality. He gave anecdotal stories about personalities and conflicting beliefs in physics and the duality paradox of experiments and theories proving that light is both a wave and a particle. He did so in a spirit of light humor which moved me to spontaneous quite laughter at several points to the consternation of folks nearby most all of whom would probably never have come to hear this talk by choice as it was directed to a scientific audience. I was amazed and pleased to notice Baba seemed to look over in my direction several times during this talk and I marveled at the synchronicity of it all. The Vice Chancellor finished with the conclusion of the unanimity of science and spirituality and said that now science knows of reality not just in terms of mass and energy but also the void. I was convinced that Baba may have had him talk just for my benefit and I resolved to meet this physicist and talk with him about the work of India's foremost free energy scientist Dr. Paramahamsa Tewari and about my Tetron Thesis.
On our third day, Sunday 8 September, on the way to morning darshan we met two new members of our group, Jim and his 14 year old son Casey, who had arrived the day before from Colorado. After complaining about the long uncomfortable ride by taxi from Bangalore to Puttaparthi the previous evening, Jim was somewhat disappointed to hear that he could have flown directly to Puttaparthi as we did. By way of encouragement I explained that the planes only landed twice a week so whatever happened during this morning he would have missed if he flew in Sunday afternoon. He appreciated my intent and we went to wait in line. This was the last day of our visit without the entry lottery and we got in the second row with Jim and his son to my left. Baba approached from the right and paused a few people to our right, made his gesture of "writing in the air" starting with his finger pointed at my chest area. Then he took some letters from the people to our right and he took the two envelopes from my hands and in doing so he vigorously touched my right ring finger with his right index finger. Over breakfast Jim explained that his son felt "zapped" by some kind of energy as Baba had pointed his finger at him (during the writing in the air gesture). I suspected he then felt the taxi ride worthwhile. In the afternoon session the discourse was for some reason more understandable and I took some notes. He said we should examine what principles we use to guide our lives, paying attention to how we use loves vs. desires to guide our lives, "as desire diminishes, love can grow". As often creating an acronym to make a point with humor, he said we should pay attention to GOY and JOY to determine the priorities of who we should think of first in our lives, J.O.Y. being Jesus, Others, Yourself, and G.O.Y. being God, Others, Yourself. To demonstrate the illusory nature of physical perception He said that we think color is inherently a property of the object we see, but even though the ocean and the sky appear to be blue, we can tell that they are really not by just looking at a handful of water. He discussed a story I didn't quite get about someone who wanted to see himself as Baba'a "Chief Devotee" and He repeated "Chief Devotee" over several times gently laughing. Since one of the puzzles for me in reconciling the mutual truth of all religions is how to understand the true meanings of reincarnation since it is foreign to the three faiths of Jerusalem. Do all human beings reincarnate? Is death equivalent to sleep and so each time we awake from sleep are we at some level of truth reborn? In the past pondering these less literal interpretations of the idea of reincarnation I was somewhat electrified to catch the phrase today when Swami said that one's body changes every morning as we get older day by day. Later He discussed the basic breathing technique for recognizing and realizing one's divine human nature, Called SO HUM. This is the breath mantra where closing one nostril and breathing in while contemplating the sound of SO, then closing the other nostril and breathing out contemplating the sound HUM. The meaning is where SO means "that" and HUM means "I", thus together it means "I AM THAT". He discussed GANGA as selfless action and explained that Swami teaches how to live instead of how to make a living. My memo of the occasion indicated the feeling of being baptized with the Love of The Lord. Usually during discourses the staff and students from the schools come and sit in the usually vacant center section of darshan area and Baba pays much attention to them. At the end to this day's discourse some young students sang Him an endearing song in their language but one could easily pick out one word put to voice over and over again with love and affection: Babaji. On days of Divine Discourse the afternoon devotional songs (bhajans) are shortened in time allowed but the final song is always the same called Arati which is sung starting with the lighting of camphor flame by the attending priest who waves it in front of Bagawan after He lights it and for most of the Arati He disappears from our site toward the mandir and usually reappears in time to walk most or all of the way back to his residence before the song finishes. This particular day He came back into view fairly soon in the song and stood facing in our direction with both hands raised in blessing as often is the case but of all my days there, today he stood the stillest for the longest in that position and with a bright orange robe on he seemed to get brighter as if floodlights from all directions were illuminating him or as though he himself was a light filament and was turned up brightly. He stood so still for so long and so bright that I had to bow to Him. For the rest of our visit I kept looking to find a physical lighting reason in that area why this was so but never again did anyone standing in that area seem so illumined. I believe I witnessed a small example of what others have described as experiencing His effulgence. After this I felt comfortable to bow to Him whenever the opportunity was available.
Even with the entry lottery Brother and I seemed to be able to get good to excellent seats every morning by some "coincidence", good fortune, and what Brother called "Swami savvy". On Monday Swami passed close by, "wrote in the Air" towards me/us, and took Brother's letter and at that moment, he said later, he got a mental message "you are healed", which he found hard to believe as real.
Mary arranged a tour of the Super Specialties Hospital for those in our group who wanted to come. We took a taxi the couple of miles from the town out to the hospital for a 2 PM appointment with the director. He welcomed us cordially and explained that so far they have only opened a few sections including heart, urology, and eye. The hospital is very large and beautifully designed with a domed entry room like a temple and state of the art technology in each department. The director marveled at the miracle of such an advanced hospital in such a remote part of the world. He said that because of her interest in health care, President Clinton's wife tried to come and visit last year while she was in India, but she wasn't able to make it for some reason. He wondered why, since almost all of the money to build and maintain the hospital (which offers its service free) comes from America, such a facility couldn't be also built and operated in America. Such is the Grace of our Bagawan Baba he explained, whereupon he arranged for a guide to take us on a tour. It was quite odd going around such an impressive hospital where everyone was barefoot indoors. We saw Dr. Bhatia who greeted Brother so lovingly after having met on the previous visit a year and a half earlier. Being a practicing podiatrist in the USA brother has hopes in future of offering his skills in Baba's service and his love for Bhatia was also visible. The calling cards of those working at the hospital are fold open kind with a picture of the hospital and Swami's Lotus Feet in Paduka sandals on the outside along with the saying "When there is Peace in the Body there is Peace in the Mind, And Peace in the Mind brings Peace to the Heart." All around the grounds are marble tablets with Baba's messages inscribed. In the time available before we left I copied many of them down: Science is below the Mind, Spirituality is beyond the Mind; Truth is more fundamental than the atom; Face the six foes, Those are lust, anger, attachment, pride, hatred, and greed; Every activity in the world is God-Directed Godward moving; Haste makes waste, waste makes worry, so do not be in a hurry; Hands that help are holier than lips that pray; We do not get what we desire, we get what we deserve; There is no prayer more fruitful than service; Remember that service is greater than meditation and sacrifice is sweeter than enjoyment; Realize the brother-hood of man and the father-hood of God by your selfless service; The acts of Sai are always selfless, sacred and beneficial; Service to man is service to God; Hear All say nothing, Give All take nothing, Serve All be nothing; Removal of immortality is the only way to immortality; Health is wealth -- look after it; Elation is heaven, Despondency is hell; Man is born to share and serve, not to grab and grieve; Love leads to expansion, hatred leads to contraction; Know yourself first, All else next; Learn to adapt, adjust and accommodate; Love lives by giving and forgiving, Self lives by getting and forgetting; Balance comes from skillful use of divine knowledge; It is unity that matters and not community; It is not enough that you love Me, you must see that I love you; Avoid pomp, exhibition and boasting, be simple, sincere and sweet; desire leads to despair; The mind is key to health and happiness; Awake, arise, and stop not 'till the goal is reached; When you sow the seeds of good deeds, you reap the harvest of happiness; The lesser the number of wants, the greater the freedom; Do not forget God, do not believe in the world, do not fear death; Contentment is Heaven, Grief is Hell; Properties are not proper ties; That which causes birth also causes death; Fire is hidden in wood and God in man; Give love and receive love; There is God everywhere and there is no second entity anywhere; The mind of a person not engaged in seva (service) is a devil's workshop; Serve man until you see God in all men; Pleasure is an interval between two pains; The mind sees separateness, Love sees unity; All Life is one, my dear son, be alike to everyone; I am not my body.
As the days went by we heard many personal stories about people's personal experiences with Baba and of course went through the many "head trips" that go along with associating in "groups" identified by common scarves in hopes that one's group would be called for an interview. During Brother's previous visit to Baba a year and a half earlier, it was just then becoming told that Baba wanted the visitors to form in groups for interviews identified by scarves depicting their country or nationality. Accordingly, the American Sai Organization facilitated through the bookstore in Tustin was making available a USA scarf in red, white, and blue design for this purpose. At that time Brother's group leader was the travel agent who had brought his group together on the journey (the same wonderful lady I have been calling Mary and identifying as our host on this trip), but she insisted that everyone in her group wear the scarves that she had been using for some time with dots on them. I had heard many stories about the arguments before over which scarves to wear, but I thought since we three (Brother, his wife who I will call Sister, and myself) came together with the above mentioned USA scarves that we would be wearing them. Mary explained that she had given up the dot scarves and had prepared another kind featuring little hearts and USA flag logos instead and she insisted we wear these instead because Baba was familiar with her groups after her 15 interviews so we would have a better "chance" to get the interview as he hadn't been taking any American groups and one never knew how many were there at one time wearing the other kind (when Swami selects a representative to discuss his group's potential interview He asks "how many" in the group and sometimes seems to decline invitation if the group is too large, and, it was feared, one couldn't say how many were present with the same scarf). Everyone's anxieties seem to surface in these and other considerations relating to one's desire (personal desire is considered a hindrance to one's God realization in Swami's teachings) so just this process of intragroup interaction about possible interview brings out all kinds of "purification". This being my first visit I felt I shouldn't be too assertive about what "I" thought "we" should do especially because I felt my duty was to support and follow Brother's lead as his guest on the trip. He of course was completely resolved to follow Mary's direction in this matter based on his best judgment.
I am taking the time to narrate the details of how our process proceeded because in retrospect, since we did get a marvelous interview later in the trip, the mind dynamics of how it came about may be of benefit to the reader. The "scarf thing" may seem insignificant but the amount of mental energy involved can be enormous and very distracting as my personal experience may convey.
Mary explained that many of her previous interviews were not very pleasant experiences for many participants and often quite difficult because of Baba's style of admonishment leveled at some to whom he offered his His Divine Teachings directly and personally for their benefit. She detailed some of these difficulties by way of cautioning us and explained that once in response to her asking how He liked the groups she brought to Him, He responded "you don't bring Me groups, you bring Me gangs!" She went on to say that in a dream she had Baba had asked her to call him Swami, but she couldn't seem to do it and still called him Baba. He has always said that He responds to everyone's call to God by all names and in all forms, so I thought this requested higher term of respect was only being indicated for her benefit, but she didn't get the message. It has been reported that Baba sometimes dwells on asking people their name and repeating it affectionately as a way to help them identify with its deeper meaning as a guide on their path Godward. In her case our host related such an experience in an interview where He asked her second name. She responded with her last name until, after several identical requests, she offered her "middle" name of Mary which he then repeated over several times slowly and with great affection. She said she knew that meant He wanted her to think about this and use this name, but since everyone already knew her by her first and last name she refused to change this usage even though shortly after this interview her understanding of this message was confirmed when she went to the Ashram office and they confounded her by insisting that her last name was Mary. When I asked her what she thought it meant, she said she was unsure because Mary could refer to Jesus' mother or to Mary Magdalin who she was reluctant to identify with. I asked her who named her Mary and she said her mother did so I asked her to think about which Mary she thought her mother had named her after. All this made me wonder about the advisability of following her lead but since Brother insisted, I followed but not without going through my own process of surrender. I am herein referring to her as Mary as a prayer for her benefit in respect of her love for Baba.
In my own case, the past twenty years experience after accepting the sadhana of Tenku Drum from Mahatma Gandhi's "Guruji", the Japanese Buddhist Monk and late most venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, the significance and impact of wearing "the cloth" of spiritual demarkation is quite clear. Since my June 14, 1976 "Fire Sign from God", I have practiced wearing The Red Cloth in following a path as participating witness to the mutual fulfillment of many different religious prophecies about the coming of paradise on earth, inspired by the Hopi Prophecy. Similarly over the past two decades , after the Empowerment and Refuge Ceremonies of His Holiness Karmapa of Tibet, I have been propagating the use of the Rainbow Peace Braid in this mission (one of which I usually wear every day) believing that when everyone in the world has one, paradise on earth will then be manifest as true peace, harmony among all life and free natural abundance.
By this time after just a few days I began to reflect on how casually was accepted the materializations of vibhuti by Baba very routinely several times during each darshan. I suppose that my mind was well conditioned to accept the reality of this form of what scientists call "psi phenomena", i.e., telepathy, telekinesis, faith healing, out of body experiences, etc., by so many years of reading and hearing first hand reports and seeing rings and other objects that He made. Also, in my own experience, my mind went through some kind of adjustment or transformation in this regard in early March of 1977 when I went to the "It's all in The Mind" conference in Santa Monica, California, where all kinds of "psi phenomena" were discussed and shown on video. The highlight of that conference was actually witnessing Uri Geller perform his psychokinetic "spoon bending" while "feeling" what the psychic atmosphere in the room was like as this was happening. Within a day or so after this I visited my mother who showed me a 1977 pocket calendar with Baba's picture on it that she had just got. He was wearing a kind of pink colored robe and she could sense that I would like to have one of these calendars. After she expressed regret that she had not picked one up for me, I turned the card sideways and for some reason was drawn to touch the edge whereupon the card separated into two such calendars which apparently had been stuck together. It seemed propitious but easier to accept that there were two stuck together all the time rather than to believe that one had just replicated in my hand, but either explanation would fit the experience. Later that year when I initiated the Red Cloth Dying Ceremony the color of the cloths came out the same as Baba's photo in this picture. In fact over the next several years, no matter which shade of red dye was picked out, the cloths always came out this same color of pinkish red. One other time I had an experience for which still no explanation has manifested. Every four years since 1976 as elections approach in the United States I feel compelled to in some token or symbolic way to offer myself as a candidate for United States President. One of those years before my offering compulsion set in I attended a lecture on Palm Sunday in Santa Barbara at The Trinity Episcopal Church (the same denomination in which I was baptized as an infant in Newport, Rhode Island) by Frank Kelly, President Harry Truman's advisor and speechwriter, on his proposal for a multimedia town hall program for a "Citizen's Search for President" to find most qualified candidates irrespective of financial resources. As I sat in my seat and opened my portfolio case, out fell a small cross fashioned out of what appeared to be a long blade of grass or straw. As it landed in my hand, Sai Baba came immediately to mind. Even so I was not prepared to accept this as a materialization and later looked all around the church and questioned everyone who could possible have put this item in my folder without ever to this day seeing anything like it or finding any reasonable explanation for its appearance. After our visit to the Hospital we went to see the Chitravatri River and I looked around unsuccessfully to see if any kind of grass like that was growing there. The only thing that comes to my mind when I think about this little straw cross is the story of the materialization of the tiny crucifix Baba produced for Dr. Hislop by artfully forming a little cross from a piece of some certain kind of grass near the river, covering it in His hand and blowing on it three time whereupon manifested the tiny statue of Jesus on a wooden cross. Baba said to Hislop that this showed how Jesus looked at the moment of his death and that the wood was from the original cross that Jesus was crucified on. Later examination with magnification, Hislop reported, showed the little statue to possess incredibly fine detail down to scratches, blood, bits of dirt, hairs, pores, etc.
During our first week I began going to the Ashram bookstore to get whatever I could find of interest and I bought a copy of a book with Shirdi Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba both pictured on the cover. Since the format of the cover was different than the book in my dream, I did not immediately associate them but I was keen to find out more about the life of Shirdi Baba. About the same time I started being pestered by one of the hawkers on the street outside the Ashram to buy a particular kind of incense which had Shirdi Baba's picture on it. I accepted a sample to try and it was very strong so I was reluctant to get more. A few days later he was pressuring me to buy a big box (the hawkers will never accept a flat "no", just expect you to offer your "best price") but I hesitated so strongly and offered such a low price that he was getting frustrated and suddenly reached in his pocket to offer a premium to sweeten the deal which was a speckled fist sized shell whose layers of color had been carefully worn off to form an image of Ganesha. Since Shirdi Sai and Ganesha were special objects of my investigation, I settled on a price and bought these two items and later offered some of this incense at the Ganesha shrine inside the Ashram gate. It turns out that Ganesha images occupy locations of central worship at the Ashram, inside the Mandir and in the Darshan area behind where Swami sits outside the Mandir before standing there to give His Divine Discourses.
Wednesday, 11 September marked the end of our first full week of daily visits for Sai Darshan. Uppermost in many people's mind is the desire for an interview and special attention of one kind or another from Swami. After a week of watching the process we could see that sometimes people asked for an interview, he would say "how many" and if he accepted their answer he would say or motion "go" and those chosen would immediately stand up and walk up to the veranda to sit and wait for their group members to come up and for Swami to finish His walk through the crowd and invite them into the interview room at the west end of the Mandir. Sometimes he would act like he was responding to the request in a positive manner but didn't give the "go" signal so these folks were not invited. Sometimes he would simple pick someone out of the crowd without their request and ask "how many". One therefore never knew if one should ask and risk refusal or just wait for His initiative and perhaps never be called. I was content to wait even if never called but the potential benefit of an interview for Brother and Sister kept silent hopes intensifying as the days marched on. This morning as Swami was coming from the women's side, I was wondering in my mind if I should ask for an interview if I had a chance (since He doesn't always come close enough or look your way). He paused about fifty feet away in the middle to look briefly down the entryway and as he proceeded to the men's side, while looking down, He pointed (I thought at me) and shook his head as in "no". By this time many unexplainable experiences had confirmed the belief that He knows EVERYTHING that is going on, including everyone's thoughts, so I recognized this as one of many subtle and deniable but real personal communications in the Darshan setting. He made vibhuti for the first man in the line across the aisle from us. I was thankful that every day so far he had done this Leela (Miracle, or Divine Play) of vibuhti offering close enough for us to see. When He reached a point about six people before us He looked quickly at me then Brother. The message I got was don't ask, and don't wear Mary's group scarf. When I mentioned this about the scarf to Brother at breakfast, he got upset. That morning over breakfast we met Maria Jory who had just arrived and who Mary insisted to join our group. Maria came from England where she facilitates Oasis, a world-wide teaching and healing fellowship with a central theme of "The Oasis Within": "We all have within us an Inner Healer -- an 'Oasis Within' -- A Divine Source of love & energy that knows no limits. When we learn to connect with this Divine Source, Love will flow from us in abundance. This will start our own healing process and we will begin to achieve peace and harmony within ourselves. Only then can we attempt to help others to heal themselves by showing them how to get in touch with their own Inner Healer -- I am amongst you, The Source of the Oasis, I am in you with you through you above you below you everywhere as LOVE." Maria explained that the healing process that she practices and teaches is based on the power of prayer and awakening of the divine healing power within each person by the Grace of God Within. She said that using this practice her own sister, after being diagnosed and prepared for emergency surgery, was instead completely healed of colon and liver cancer in two weeks as verified by subsequent medical tests. Since by "coincidence" this was the same as Brother's diagnosis, Maria came with us to my room to explain the process and begin implementing it on his behalf. In the afternoon I went to darshan wearing the Red Cloth and the Rainbow Braid made by my daughter, half in my style and half in her mother's (she said "you're supposed to honor your mother and father so that's why I made it this way").
By the next day I was feeling quite overwhelmed with my experience thus far and decided not to go to the morning darshan so as not to offend Brother or Mary because I felt the direction not to wear the group scarf. After meditating and sleeping a lot I wore the Red Cloth to afternoon darshan expecting Swami's now daily discourses, but instead He granted a long darshan and He selected an Argentina group near me for interview, walking close by as I was in second row and gave a passing glance to the Red Cloth. I felt that if I had asked for an interview He would have said "go" but I was not wearing group scarf, Brother was not there, and I felt directed not to ask. When Baba said "how many", the man from Argentina said eight, Baba said "18?", he said 8, He said 18, and this went back and forth perplexing the group as He some sometimes does for some purpose. This day I waited in the darshan area as during afternoon darshan Swami frequently comes out after the interview and picks another group and conducts more than one interview. Because from day to day Brother, Sister and I were rarely sure how many were in our group and so not clear how to answer if He asked us, we had decided to just say "three family" if he asked either of us. When the group from Argentina came out I counted 15 including Swami. At one point he came out on veranda room behind Ganesha statue and motioned quickly twice right hand to the top of His forehead and the thought came to mind that I should wear the Red Cloth on my head as I sometimes do. He continued gesturing similarly as he walked and spoke to the staff on the veranda then lowering the movement finally gesturing around the eye (later I found out he was explaining that there was no discourse because of an eye problem with the translator). I put the red cloth around my shoulders and He paused outside the interview room, looked my way and gestured palm up, pausing, and I bowed to Him.
Thusly encouraged on Friday 13 September I went to morning darshan wearing the Red Cloth tied on my head and got a seat in the front row set back on His walkway on near first corner of audience He approaches. He produced vibhuti for a man directly across the aisle so for the first time I could see its manifestation clearly from under his hand as it streamed down from between fingers and thumb of His right hand. He then came across to our side of the aisle and, having the space in front of me for the first time, I bowed fully three times to him as he was collecting letters just to my left where I caught his smile between second and third bow. This morning He picked a Swedish group for interview which included Annika and over breakfast she talked a little about it. Maria talked about healing philosophy. After breakfast Brother and I went together for the first time to the Ashram bookstore and on the way out two slightly built Indian men came down the driveway on our left trying unsuccessfully two times to push start a jeep on the way to go out the gate nearby ahead. Their second attempt put the jeep right by me so being a bit larger and not fatigued, I rushed in behind and joined their effort with my best push and this time the jeep started up whereupon I just kept walking on with Brother with a great elation and thankfulness at being in the right place at the right time to offer a small act of the Seva (selfless service without expectation of reward) that Swami continually admonishes his devotees to practice at all levels. In reflecting back, this one simple brief act filled me with such happiness that it stands out as one of my most rewarding experiences of the trip to India and one of The Lord's many blessings received while there. As we walked on, a couple of the Sevadals (service volunteers who function as ushers and Ashram security) stationed nearby who had seen this offered me salutations of "Sai Ram" with the palms together gesture of respect called Gassho. Usually I went alone to afternoon darshan with Brother coming later to avoid some time in the afternoon heat. This day our family group of three came together to afternoon darshan for the first time. I was still without group scarf and with Red Cloth hung in front hanging over passport bag with Rainbow Braid, around neck as usual, hanging over cloth. We sat in the third row. Every other time during our visit I only saw Swami wear his unique robe garment in a shade of orange, but for this occasion he came out wearing the same color of "pink" that he was wearing in the 1977 calendar photo mentioned above and when he passed by I opened my hands and my heart to Him.
On Saturday to morning darshan I wore the Red Cloth as a kerchief with the USA scarf over it and braided a Rainbow Peace Braid while waiting for Swami to appear. We got #3 row in entry lottery and sat in a first row. When He approached, Baba seemed pleased and I was able to bow fully to him as he passed in front, facing away from us to other side of aisle, but coincident with my bowing He turned swiftly around, came over to us and took Brother's second letter. Brother and Sister had had one further healing session with Maria since our first visit with her and he said because he couldn't quite believe the confirmation of healing impression that he got when Swami took his first letter, he offered this second one with the prayer that He take it as a confirmation of his healing. Swami refuses to take many people's letters and even so many report that their questions are answered and requests fulfilled in the moment he looks at or passes by them offering the envelopes, so I took it as very auspicious that He had accepted each of these two letters on the first occasion that they were offered. Upon returning to my room late in the morning I found a note from Annika and per this invitation returned to the Ashram to join a small circle of devotees hearing the testimony of a Swedish man named Connie who had been devoted to Swami for nearly twenty five years and whose story will soon be out in a book he wrote that he said will be called "With Love, Baba". Again during afternoon Darshan I wore the red cloth and braided my second and last rainbow braid of the trip. When Baba came by He again seemed pleased. In the evening we had a group meeting in Maria's room where we each discussed some experiences with Sai Baba and what our hopes were if we got picked for an interview. I told about my "Baba book dream" described above and Maria's reaction was "well, did you find the book yet". I answered no because the cover on the book I did get at the Ashram "From Shirdi to Puttaparthi" looked different than the book in my dream, even though both had pictures of Shirdi Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba on their covers. I resolved to look deeper into the book I had to see if it might indeed be the one in my dream which may contain a special message for me at this time.
Before everyone came and the meeting started, Maria explained that soon our healing process for Chuck would be completed with the burning of letters that she explained how we should each write to clear up past emotional distresses.
Before continuing this journal narrative some of Connie's story may be of value to mention here. Connie (a nickname for this Swedish man of about 48 years old) explained that as a young teenager he had met and become associated with the Transcendental Meditation founder called Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Over some period of time he became initiated into this practice, became the organization's eleventh "initiator", and became the Yogi's personal assistant. In this capacity he served the teacher and with him mingled with an elite strata of European society as a daily matter of course. While thus engaged as a very young man, some incident over the financial details of a new course of study caused Connie to loose faith in his teacher so he left his position and the movement. He built up a business in Sweden and then relocated to Sri Lanka where he conducted a construction business building estates on the beautiful beaches there. After some years thus engaged he began to feel a lack of meaning in his life in spite of financial success. In the course of his business it was a routine necessity to payoff or bribe many levels of officials including top government officials to get the necessary permits, etc., for his business. After some period of depression kept thinking how he had left his teacher because of one thing that he didn't agree with financially, but now his whole day to day life was filled with he himself doing many things he didn't feel were right and he was living a life surrounded by people whose main motivation was money. After some time passed thusly he became despondent and prayed to God for some renewed meaning to life lest he should decide to end it. Getting no response to his ardent prayers, after praying all night one night he decided to take his life in the ocean the next day. At the beach he walked out the two hundred yards until the shallows started to give way to the deep and just as the current was beginning to take hold and pull him out to sea, he turned to the beach to see a little man with an afro hairdo, wearing an orange sarong from the waist down, who was beckoning to him to come back to shore. The next thing he knew some grip behind his neck pulled him from the current and brought him back toward shore where he went to see this fellow. Along the beach were the numerous familiar huts, but the man took him into one on the end which was oddly empty except for a large photograph of Sathya Sai Baba. The man told him, "This is Sai Baba, you must go to India" and then he disappeared from the hut. Taken aback, Connie ran all the way back to his hotel, rushed up to the desk clerk and asked "Who is Sai Baba?", to which the clerk calmly replied without even looking up, "oh, He is God". Now beginning to freak out, Connie asked how he could go to see Him. The clerk got on the phone to the Indian Consulate and soon located someone who could give him travel directions whereupon Connie packed and left immediately for India. After a determined and humorous journey there in 1971 when there were few amenities, he met Baba who asked him "where are you from?" When he replied "from Sweden", Baba said "no, you are from Sri Lanka". Connie said he thought "OK, He knows something" but after a four day visit he had to return to his business obligations and it was only on the bus ride back that he realized that Baba looked like the little man who had saved his life. On returning to Sri Lanka he ran up to the beach hut to find it full of batik for sale and no one had ever seen the little man in orange there at all. After many visits he devoted himself to Baba, gave away his business at His instruction and went back to Sweden serve as Baba had instructed him. His ministry in Sweden has become very successful over these past twenty years in counseling and rehabilitating the most violent criminals in Sweden who are deemed even too dangerous to put in jail. Such is the Gift of Love that Swami has given him.
Feeling more and more inspired, I left Brother and Sister to do their letters and went to morning darshan, able again to bow to Him. At breakfast Annika said she had overheard me explain that I had been studying the American Indian cultures for a long time and she said that very little about them is known in India where they are called the "Red Indians". She explained that she was helping edit a monthly magazine called "Spiritual Impressions" which was being published by a hotel owner and photographer long associated with Bagawan. Then she asked me if I would kindly write an article for her about the Red Indians for this magazine which would be distributed in India and around the world. I readily agreed and set about creating a brief narrative about the prophecies and spiritual teachings carried by three different American Indian cultures (included in appendix, "Are the Red Indians Red, or Indians?").
The next day, Monday, September 16th, turned out to be the annual holiday for Ganesha, the elephant headed one whose statues were shown on our television drinking milk about this time last year. Up until this visit to India, the only comment about this phenomenon that I had heard attributed to Baba was "why are you surprised?". This was to be the day we planned to burn our letters to complete Brother's healing procedure in deference to Ganesha's role in overcoming obstacles and his symbolizing of the mind. During the morning darshan Baba took no letters and walked almost non-stop His route through the masses on the way to sit in his chair outside the Mandir for the morning's ceremony. He did stop just to my right before passing by and almost in front of Brother. From my point of view at that moment he was directly on a line between me and the Ganesha statue behind His chair. At this stopping point He faced the crowd and made first the gesture of both hands up in front of His shoulders with palms forward in blessing, then both palms up "feeling the air" nearly in front of us. Brother got "zapped" by this and I bowed to Swami as he passed by in front. Instead of morning interviews, beautiful bhajans were sung amid the outside area decorated specially for this holiday. All day people came and went gathering at the Gahesha shrine and the Shiva shrine opposite to offer respects for the occasion including the ceremonial breaking of coconuts in front of the shrines. In attendance at the afternoon discourse was the governor of Andra Pradesh. Baba talked about "Godman vs. Human" and explained the principle of God within all of us, saying if "this is my hand, this is my eye, this is my body, then who am I". After the discourse with Maria at the Shiva shrine we burned our healing letters to mark the completion ceremony of our spiritual healing procedure for Brother.
On Tuesday I went alone to darshan wearing the red cloth. Baba stopped across the aisle form me to offer a blessing to a young child with a small blackboard. At breakfast I explained my Tetron thesis to Annika who remarked at the geometry of the Tetron symbol saying that in Indian philosophy the circle signified the material world, the triangle stands for the world of the spirit and the dot in the middle stands for God. I gave her my card with the Tetron equations on the back and asked her to give it to the Vice Chancellor and ask him to see me briefly in response to his talk.
By Wednesday I was coming down with a cold so I stayed in and began to read some of the books and pamphlets I had been collecting. It was only then that I looked over the Shirdi to Puttaparthi book and found near the back a story and picture of Jesus. The book explained that on Christmas Day in 1987 Baba was asked permission to take his photograph. As first he asked why, since there were already so many photos available, did he want to take the photo then. After many other western devotees joined in the request for permission, He agreed, then asked the photographer to go get it developed and instead was the actual photograph of Jesus Christ.
The rest of the book I still had to read but this now felt like the book that my dream led me to. The next day I stayed in bed and on Friday we moved to a different hotel.
On Saturday, 21 September I went to darshan with Brother and Sister wearing group scarf without rainbow braids or red cloth as Annika had advised that only one group scarf should be worn at a time. Swami looked at Brother, passed close to us by three rows on side aisle with a serious face, so I bowed to Him. He took a large group of Japanese for interview. During afternoon darshan He took a Greek group and He handed out handkerchiefs to his school students. After bhajans I joined for the first time the foreign men who were allowed to go inside the Mandir for fifteen minutes meditation. This way I finally got to see what it looked like inside as we always missed the morning chance to go inside as the men are allowed to take part in bhajans when Swami sits on his chair inside.
On Sunday waiting inside for His Darshan appearance, I was wondering about when Baba materializes vibhuti or some object whether he circled his hand in a clockwise or counterclockwise manner, or if it made any difference. This day as he reached the end of the women's section He made an exaggerated counter-clockwise motion of his right hand before producing vibhuti, as though to answer my question in part. At breakfast Annica asked for Red Indians article and I told her I would finish it today. Went to the Ashram bookstore and got copy of Hislop's updated "conversations" book. Finished writing article first draft and went to afternoon darshan, bhajans and once again inside Mandir. Swami mentioned "guruji" in his discourse. Read article in evening for Brother and Sister who seemed to like it. Spoke to them about Hopi prophecy for a while before sleep.
Monday 23 September came to us with the awareness of its significance as a high holy day for both the Jewish and Islamic faiths, the Day of Atonement, or the "Big Day", Yom Kippur in Hebrew and Yom Kabir in Arabic. Over the preceding two weeks or so of our visit we had noticed a group of three men wearing Israeli scarves who were sometimes seated near us. The calmest of the three had been staying in Puttaparthi already three months and had not been called for an interview. We had heard the other two in the group lamenting that they were "missing" the Jewish holidays so on this day we felt an urgency on their part as these two would be leaving sooner than the third, Allen, actually from New York. As He was approaching I noticed that Swami materialized vibhuti with a clockwise motion of his palm held horizontally, a completion of the answer to my earlier question, direction apparently irrelevant. We were seated in the fifth or sixth row from the aisle. Swami didn't come in front of us but came close enough over to our side, after an exchange of words with the Israeli group, that I could tell he clearly looked my way with closest to eye contact yet. I had brought my notebook with the Red Indians article to offer for his blessing and I imagined that he seemed to be looking for it. The Israeli group had eagerly and enthusiastically asked Baba for an interview and his usual loving response was misinterpreted by the overeager as an invitation, so the group headed up to the veranda only to be sent back shortly by Swami. They came back without forlorn looks but you could almost feel everyone identifying with their plight, so coveted are Baba's interviews. Over breakfast Annika happily read my article and asked me to expand its length somewhat to accommodate responses to her questions and comments. She advised me of an appointment with the Vice Chancellor she had made for me at 2 P.M. that day. Before the appointed time I walked up the hill to the administration building and appreciated the spectacular view until going in to see him. When I was ushered into his office, the Vice Chancellor was busy head down on his desk writing so I said Sai Ram softly and waited quietly by the table and meeting area inside his large office. After a minute or so, he looked up to me and motioned me to a seat across from his desk which I took and watched a few moments while he continued writing on some list. I thanked him for seeing me and referred gratefully to his talk of September 7th in Swami's divine presence. He took exception to my interpretation of his message and said he was merely trying to point out similarities between science and spirituality but rejected my interpretation that both were more deeply connected by recent scientific findings relating to the void of empty space as the fundamental source of both energy and matter. He asked me what I had come to ask him but he seemed not in the least open to the idea that I had come to offer him information. I replied first by showing him the photo of Brian O'Leary and Swami in O'Leary's book "Miracle in The Void" and asked if he had met Dr. O'Leary to which he responded "no". I Then asked him if he was acquainted with the work of India's Dr. Tewari on this subject and he replied that he knew him very well and had worked with him previously in an official capacity but that he felt Tewari's results showing the "free energy from the void" effect must be in error. He explained that these results are "impossible for normal human beings" and "only possible for a divine being like Swami". Sensing the familiar lack of receptivity I experienced many times before in talking to contemporary physicists in positions of high responsibility, I began to cut the meeting short in respect of his indicated busy schedule that day. I indicated that I understood and respected his position and that much more of a meeting would not be fruitful, to which he smiled. I indicated that however the evidence was preponderant contradicting his position as well documented in the three books I had in hand and referred to by gesture, "Miracle in The Void", "The Second Coming of Science", both by Dr. O'Leary, and "The Coming Energy Revolution", by Jeane Manning. I quickly briefed him on Bruce DePalma's keystone experiments on the heretofore unsuspected influences of rotation on physical properties that led him to the independent invention of the N-machine as an re-discovery of what Michael Faraday called the homopolar generator in the early 1830's, the same thing that Dr. Tewari has proven and called the Space Power Generator. I left him in a respectful way and resolved to write him a more detailed letter about this, and submit copies of documentation from the books I brought, before leaving India. (copies of this document are included in appendix following). Contrary to what I expected, he was not fully aware of this latest research and so I could not get passed "first base" to accomplish my goal of discussing my Tetron thesis with him.
During the afternoon darshan, Swami called a group for interview which was seated directly in front of the Jewish group which also got up and went to the veranda and were again sent back to the seating area by Baba without an invitation for interview. We began to have more and more compassion for these few dedicated religious practitioners who were so eager for Swami's blessing (which I'm sure he gave them) on this auspicious day.
A friend of Maria's had just come from the United States and she joined our group. On first meeting Carla she reminded me of one of the Gabor sisters in her elegant graying years, beautiful dress, her "upper crust" kind of accent and mannerisms, and her apparent affection for jewelry. Her obvious love of Baba melted away my irrational prejudice against those of affluent appearance, and our experiences getting acquainted over the following ten days was a great blessing on my path of spiritual education. That night Carla and Maria and I ate dinner together with Brother and Sister in their room. I reported to them on my meeting with the Vice Chancellor and then read them my draft of the Red Indians article and it was very well received. Maria insisted I give her a copy for her to edit and publish in her Oasis newsletter and Carla asked me "what ever happened to the American Indians" since the only exposure she had was witnessing the alcoholism, poverty and depression among those she had seen. My response to her later became another short piece I wrote which, along with one called "Hopi Warning" and the Red Indians piece, I later offered to Baba and He accepted. For quite a while into the evening people were lighting firecrackers in the streets outside which I initially took for a celebration of Yom Kabir associated with the Mosque nearby in Puttaparthi village, but later found out it was to mark the end of the week of celebrations marking the Lord Ganesha holidays.
On Tuesday 24 September Brother and I were seated in the third row for darshan and Swami stopped just to our left for a long pause, taking many letters all around including three from Brother which he offered on behalf of others. I felt strangely "drawn in" to Baba at some psychic level while he stood so close for so long.
At breakfast I reported to Annika about my meeting with the vice Chancellor. She said that Swami's staff is notoriously hard to deal with and seem cold to most who approach them so she thought it was a minor miracle that I had gotten a smile out of him during our meeting. She advised me that Swami expected devotees at darshan to only wear one kind of scarf type group identification for interviews. After this I just wore our group scarf alone without red cloth or rainbow braid in deference to Brother's commitment to the group leadership of our host and my desire that I should do anything possible to help him get the interview he wanted. In the afternoon I worked on the re-write of the Red Indians article and went with Brother and Sister to darshan after which we saw Dr. Bhatia who invited us to come to his house sometime.
That evening Maria returned her scarf to Mary because members of her own group from the United Kingdom were arriving she must use one of their scarves.
The next day the waiting lines for darshan were moved to near Gahesha shrine because construction had started in the normal place to expand the darshan area outside the mandir in anticipation of the larger and larger crowds coming in the near future (this was a comparatively slow time of year, about two million people came for his 70th birthday events last November celebrated at the Hillview Stadium, so we felt very lucky to have such close contact now). Even though our entry line was picked fourth, Brother managed to get a seat inside in the front row facing the Gopuram gate and I sat directly behind him instead of my usual place at his side. Baba spent quite some time directly in front of Brother who asked him for a second time for the interview and while he was asking Swami looked some long moments directly into my eyes for the first time, without responding to Brother who touched His robe at the floor as He left. As we were returning to our rooms after breakfast we had the good fortune that Swami's car came down the street taking him to visit somewhere and I was able to bow to him as the car passed and afterwards Sister told me excitedly that He had looked at me out the window as the car went by. At breakfast Annika read final draft of my article and I promised her the finished copy by tomorrow which I finished in the afternoon along with its update "Hopi Warning". Our afternoon darshan experience was especially nice since Swami looked at each of us. Afterwards I copied the articles and gave a copy to Annika, one to Carla for Maria, one to Brother and Sister, and saved a set to offer to Swami, then started working on letter to Vice Chancellor and my Tetron thesis article for him called "The Science -- Spirituality Bridge: Our Mind". In the evening I prepared article copies to offer Swami next morning, stuffed them into a business sized envelope which became about a quarter inch thick, addressed it from "One Beloved One" to Sathya Guruji, Beloved Bagawan, Swami Sri Sathya Sai, Lord Babaji, with the Hopi symbol on that article which is the symbol from their War Leader Kachina which they translate as "together with all nations, we protect both land and life and hold the world in balance", and lastly applied a tiny sticker picture of Baba in red as though it was a stamp on the letter (Brother had used one of these stickers as a seal on the first letter Swami had accepted from him and noted with amusement that as He walked away that day with his letter on top of the pile, Swami had his thumb over this little sticker photo.
By this time the three of our family there were clinging tenderly to the belief that the healing procedure we had undertaken with Maria's guidance would be the basis, by the Grace of God, for the remission of Brother's serious medical condition. However, since neither Mary nor Annika were aware of that procedure having taken place, out of their deep concern they were still coming up with any idea possible which they felt would help him. At this stage in the process, the procedure and closing ceremony having already been performed, to affect this kind of cure we were instructed to simply accept mentally that the healing had already taken place and to concentrate only on being now well (the principle being that in essence one is not one's body but is in essence divine, whole and complete; by reconditioning the mind to properly accept this, the healing naturally follows -- a very sound principle from my experience with mind dynamics). The pivotal phase in this process occurred in the evening of that same Wednesday when Annika introduced Brother to a man she knew well as a Baba devotee who identified himself as a biochemist who with his wife, a Ph.D. in the same field, had started the first commercial spirolina production in India nearby in Bangalore. Besides the nutritional benefits of the spirolina "blue-green algae" tablets that they produced, they were in the middle of an experimental program to try and document for scientific publication the biochemically medicinal effect of one of its components, an "antioxidant" protein called phycocyanin, separated chemically at great expense from spirolina. This biochemist explained that he would bear the expense of providing Brother with sufficient quantity for a 90 dosage in exchange for careful case history documentation of his healing. This put Brother in the uncomfortable position of having to decide on some basis to deeply accept his healing was already in progress and would therefore not be a good subject for this experiment, or he would have to acknowledge that he still needed healing and then rely on this experiment for the welcomed results. After that evening conversation the biochemist resolved to return to Bangalore the next day to fetch the ten days supply he had at home and to try his hardest to have the rest of the dosage made before our scheduled departure on October 2nd. Meanwhile he urged Brother to begin taking five spirolina tablets at a time that very evening which he did. The result was that he was up all night vomiting and he thought that too many tablets at once in his condition was the cause.
The next morning when I called on them to go to early darshan, Sister explained what happened and my immediate reaction was that Brother must have had a revolting meeting with the biochemist. Going alone to darshan I was in lottery row 22 and sat inside in the 4th or 5th row, just out of normal reach to offer my article copies to this Lord, Sai Baba. When He did come by He took a letter from a man directly in front of me who was stretching it out to Him, so I stretched to my limit without standing up (which is not permitted normally), but although I was just out of reach, Swami seemed very happy at my offer which I then resolved to continue according to traditional teachings for four times. The ushers or service volunteers called Sevadals sit in the front row by the aisle one about every six people apart to see that folks don't stand up or break any other rules of etiquette. In addition, a few rows back, there are positioned "roving Sevadals" who crawl between the people unseen below shoulder height following Swami's walking route to ensure that those farther back also keep to this etiquette. I had often observed them in action but this day I got to experience the kind of love and understanding behind their kind of close support service to their Lord Sai. As I was stretching to offer my envelope, one of the rovers tugged at my shirt to make sure that I would not stand up, which I may have come close to doing since the temptation to stretch that one or two more inches is very intense. I was actually overwhelmed with a feeling of love for this man who kept quietly apologizing to me for intervening and kept calling me "sir". When someone on the other side of me needed his attention likewise, he stretched out over and across my folded legs as I sat and he spoke and tugged quietly at the other. The whole effect on me was such a feeling of love for this man of duty that all I could do was to pat him affectionately on the back like a beloved child on my lap; a most unexpected human dynamic. After darshan I visited with Brother about what was happening with him and suggested that he was psychically and physically rejecting the proposal by the biochemist more than just reacting to the few spirolina tablets. It was a very intense dynamic fueled by everyone's sincere desire to help him but complicated by the unexplainable dynamic of our "tender stage" in empowering the healing procedure already undertaken. The biochemist had started off to Bangalore in a taxi but returned after traveling thirty kilometers because he felt the taxi driver would be unsuitable as a return courier to bring the phycocyanin and its instructions so he wanted Brother to accompany him. Due to not feeling well he asked me to go instead which I had volunteered. Just as I was getting into the taxi, Mary came by on the way to afternoon darshan and was enthusiastically explaining that Baba had been taking American groups for interview for the last several days and so our chances were now very good and she insisted we come with her. We tried to calm her and explain as I went off in the taxi and Brother and Sister went to rest. She insisted "are you still in the group, then!?"
The few hour ride to Bangalore was quite enjoyable as it was my first chance to see the beautiful Indian countryside and so green because of the rainy season. Outside the Puttaparthi area the road was paved only about one lane wide for almost half way. The pavement was new and I remembered many stories I had read over the years about the difficulties before there was any road at all and later a bumpy dirt road. I was quiet most of the way appreciating the scenery and finding it somewhat difficult to deal with what I perceived to be a dilemma about what to do with the biochemist's proposal. He asked if we had an interview with Baba and I said not yet. (about that time I found out later Swami had called our group for an interview that afternoon but since Jim and his son had already left and we were not there, our group was only four people). The pressures of his new business seemed to be heavily on the biochemists mind and so I asked him about some details. He said that he had one acre in spirolina production and that the heat in India was ideal for growing it where his yield was about 300 kilograms per acre. The algae requires a quite alkaline water to grow in, between pH 9-11, and their process enabled them to extract a little less than half of the 9% phycocyanin it contains. Upon arrival at his house I was introduced to his wife to whom he explained with a long face about Brother's situation. He showed me literature from an American spirolina company about phycocyanin including their price of $40,000 per gram, and a listing in the Ciga chemicals catalog showing their price of $104.87 per milligram. He explained that their cost for producing what he had propose for Brother would be about $2,000 which would be difficult for him but he felt it important and was willing to do so unless we wanted to contribute half of the cost. He brought out two small plastic bags containing 25 grams each of the bright blue phycocyanin powder and demonstrated with a tiny amount how to dissolve it in water producing an iridescent blue-violet-greenish liquid whose color varied depending on the angle of incident light. He explained that it was a water soluable protein and also a dye. On the way back in the taxi in the dark it was a full moon with scattered clouds on a very beautiful night when I was filled with many conflicting thoughts and emotions. From what the man had said I was carrying up to five million dollars of medicine in bags in my pocket occupying a total volume of about three tablespoons. My mind was boggled at this unusual circumstance and fantasies of being some kind of drug courier (although legal) were alternating with thoughts of how an extract of this particular kind of "pond scum" algae could be so valuable and was this the right thing for Brother's healing to take advantage of.
In the morning Brother was feeling better so we went to darshan where we entered with row six and got second row seats in the middle of first aisle facing the Mandir. As He came by He first stopped across from us and made vibhuti pouring out of his hand over a "Shiva Lingam" mounted as an object of worship and held up reverently by a devotee who just shivered afterwards wrapping the object up after such a powerful blessing. He then came very slowly over to our side as Brother and I each held up envelopes for him to take. He took Brother's third letter and very slowly and deliberately came next in front of me and took my article copy offerings from my hand with such a slow and deliberate motion that it seemed to provoke anticipation frustration in the voices of some nearby calling out to him, "Swami, interview", "Swami, please interview", and a man toward the rear "Swami, please, after thirty years, interview, Swami". That morning we learned that just after this there was a total lunar eclipse, an hour or so after sunrise so we couldn't see it. Right after darshan we heard from Annika that Swami had called our group the day before and we had missed it. Mary said over breakfast that she felt the interview had been ended with some "unfinished business" among those present and she and Annika expected he might call our group again soon. Again after breakfast walking "home" we chanced to be in the street as the Sevadals running ahead of His car announced to onlookers "Swami's coming" and we stood happily by the side of the road with palms together thankful for another look at this loving Avatar as He was driven by. In the midday I wrote my letter and article for the Vice Chancellor. For afternoon darshan we got front row seats. As He got close to our section of the crowd he came briskly at an angle towards us from the other side of the aisle without looking first in our direction looking at his hand (as he usually does) while making the circular motions to produce vibhuti. As He finished this gesture he was nearly in front of Brother who then put up his hand to be the second and last person to receive this "prasad" which he ate then. Baba had put His fingers touching in the middle of Brother's palm as He produce him the vibhuti. The other recipient was visibly trembling in awe as Swami walked on and he eagerly wiped up grains of vibhuti overflowed onto the polished stone tile floor afterward. What a powerful and awe inspiring experience. Sister didn't appear as usual after darshan and when she caught up with us a bit later she explained that she also had gotten front row (she was especially pleased at that because for two weeks straight on the women's side she had not gotten seated very close to the aisle) and Swami had not only taken her letter but afterward He allowed her to join the woman next to her in taking Padnamaskar, the blessing of touching the feet of a holy person. She felt so energized by this experience that she had waited until the interviews were over to see Him once again and that time He made strong eye contact with her. Even an hour or so later, Brother said her hands felt like they were about two hundred degrees Fahrenheit. She was so happy because in her letter that Swami accepted she had asked for things that had almost immediately come to pass, like permission to touch his feet and for Him to make Brother vibhuti. Knowing that a big ceremony was taking place over four days the next week so as to severely restrict His interview access, we hoped against hope that He might call us for interview soon. When I chanced to encounter Mary and Annika on the street late in the evening they voiced their concern about Brother and dismay that he was still unsure about the spirolina medicine offer. I explained then more details of what we were going through about accepting a divine healing process and they then understood that it was a very significant and important decision that only Brother should make and they would then respect it. This conversation seemed to set something intangible aright.
Knowing since before coming to India that the next day, Saturday the 28th of September was Shirdi Sai Baba's birthday per Swami's revelation of this information only six years ago, I awoke with anticipation an conviction that it would be an auspicious day. To morning darshan I brought a booklet with Shirdi Baba's picture of the front next to which I held the little straw cross mentioned earlier. He walked along the aisle taking letters as usual but didn't pick anyone for morning interview. In passing by us He glanced at or by us and on arrival to the veranda went out of sight briefly until a red car pulled in from the entrance by His residence an then backed up stopping near the veranda. Swami came out and just before reaching the car door to enter he faced in our direction, gestured palms up with the happiest face we had seen yet, gets in the car and is driven out the main entryway and through the Gopuram gate leaving the thousands gathered wondering where he was going in such a ceremonial way. We learned from Annika at breakfast that Baba had gone to take part in a ceremony or function that morning honoring Kali, who represents in their culture the fearsome Goddess of the earth. During afternoon darshan He made his passage through the men's section on a reverse course to his regular path. As He came down the long path towards us He walked the whole length down one side of the aisle allowing many of the men in the front row the privilege of touching his feet as He walked our way; most unusual. Passing us by with a glance at us we watched as usual until he was out of sight on the veranda. At that time Brother said "isn't that Carla on the veranda" (waiting for group to arrive for interview). I looked and saw Carla looking for us on the men's side holding up her group scarf to let us know that our group had been picked for interview.
There are so many written accounts of interviews with Sri Sathya Sai Baba mentioning the messages presented and different manifestations of his humor and leelas ("miracles" or "divine play") that it seems worthwhile in this narrative to include a personal overview of both how this event transpired for us as well as some personal reflections on the mental dynamics involved.
On two of her previous visits, Carla was called for the interview each time on the last day of her scheduled visit. During this visit she came with two photographs to show Baba and to ask his blessings for the health of a friend and of her pet dog whom she loves very much. Since her arrival she also had become very compassionate to Brother's need for a healing and particularly to how this would be so wonderful for his wife and their future together. Swami has made it very clear that even though the reasons why He does what he does are unfathomable by us, that He does consistently and inviolably act in accord with natural law and its dictation of righteous (Dharmic) behavior. From different stories he told in His Divine Discourses during our visit, he seems to choose who He sees and talks to and what he says and does with them in part for the purpose of instruction and reinforcement of these Higher Moral Values which include compassion and concern for the welfare of others as a primary motivation for one's actions. Time and time again one can see him ignore selfishly motivated requests and desires, yet many times for inexplicable reasons He grants His favor in most unlikely ways to demonstrate and reinforce a deeper Education in Human Values. The task of the student is to become more aware of these and inculcate them in our lives for our own good and betterment as well as that of society, humanity and all life. In our case, during our groups previous interview Carla had remembered to show Swami the picture of her dog and ask for its good health, but afterward she was feeling very badly to have been unable to similarly request help for her friend. So it was that on this day, feeling like since she already had an interview on this trip and so contemplating ending her visit early and traveling elsewhere in India, she urgently called out to Swami as He passed her in the fourth row in darshan to please bless her friend, as she held out her photograph towards him with outstretched arm. Not even thinking about the possibility of another interview on this same trip, she wasn't wearing her group scarf but His response was to turn to her and ask "how many"? She said later that she thought he might be kidding and so she didn't respond whereupon he asked again more firmly "how many" to which she responded "7 or 8 people" and he simply motioned and said "go". Quite surprised she got up and went to the veranda. After I said to Brother, "yes that is Carla up there", for a moment we couldn't quite believe it meant we should get up and go forward and after brief discussion he said we should go and we got up. After satisfying the Sevadals of our intention by gesturing with our scarves, we proceeded toward the center aisle and towards the veranda. During our hesitation to get up, Carla stood up looking for us gesturing with her scarf to the men's side and Baba said to her "don't do that to the gents". For reasons unclear at the time, as we began to approach the veranda the Sevadals motioned to us to go back. Remembering the example of the Israeli group we could only look at each other, shrug our shoulders, and we turned to go back to our seats. After only a few paces the situation was clarified somehow and we heard fingers snapping behind us, saw many in the crowd before us pointing and motioning towards the veranda, turned around again to see the Sevadals on the veranda motioning us to come up but to come up the few steps by way of the side, not the center. As we came around to the side and up the steps we walked via a narrow pathway up the middle of all the elders to arrive last of the group to sit. As soon as we sat down to wait, Swami held open the door of the interview room and we all filed in the narrow doorway men first.
I was the last man into the room and sat in the back of the group of men on our left side of the room where the women were seated on the right with Swami's chair facing us in front. The room was surprisingly small, about 12'x15', and our number including Swami was fifteen with our group of eight, a group of three Indian men, and another group of three from overseas. For many years I had heard and read stories about interview experiences and believed what others had said from their observations that whatever He says to anyone in the group has deep and wide ranging application and implications for each person individually. I was sitting quite at attention focusing on mentally recording as many details as possible. Immediately afterwards I made some notes and spent quite a few hours subsequently trying to carefully recall these details and expand the notes considering recollections of others in our group which today included Annika. Mary felt that one of the pieces of "unfinished business" from the last session was regarding the relationship of Bill and Janette who were living together and contemplating getting married wanting Swami's blessing. Moments after I sat down, Swami closed the door and immediately started making remarks about this issue as he proceeded toward his seat. He first stopped in front of me and turned to the right gesturing and instructing Janette to move from the middle of the room to a place farther over on the women's side. He had started with remarks to the effect that they were "just friends, not husband and wife". After taking His seat the first thing He did was to create vibhuti for each of the women one after another. Then he finished this by putting a fairly large amount into the hands of one of the Indian men and speaking to him in his language (later from Annika we found out some of what was going on) asking where his wife was, scolding him for not bringing her in to the interview, explaining that the vibhuti was for her and giving him a square of paper to put it in for her. (This scolding apparently hurt his feelings). After taking His seat again, He started with Carla "how are you sir?" (Annika says for some reason Swami often addresses a woman as "sir"). He then asked one of the Indian men for his ring which Swami held and said "what's that?", then handing it to Bill who said "it's Baba". Swami took the ring back, looked at it very lovingly and said very slowly, demonstrating affection in his voice, "it's BaaaBaaa". Then he flung it into Brother's lap with the same question again. Brother looked at it and said "it's BaaBaa" passing the ring to the person behind him, and in front of me, to look at. I whipped out my glasses and studied the ring over his shoulder seeing a thick silver ring with a rectangular top on which was fused a lacy raised gold relief of Sathya Sai Baba's face and "afro" hair. (it looked impossible to have cast that relief due to the kinds of curvatures and I suspect it was a ring He made previously for its owner). When the ring was passed back to Brother, he put it in Swami's hand whereupon He closed it into His right hand, blew into His hand three times, and opened the hand to reveal it changed to a completely gold ring with a thin band and oval shaped top. (I never was able to see what was depicted on the ring but suspect it was Shirdi Baba) Then he started again with Bill, explaining "if married, wife; if not married, girlfriend". Bill didn't seem to understand and said "what?" "Only girlfriend, not wife until married". Then Bill asked, "shall we get married?" Baba subtly indicated in the negative and Bill, as though not wanting to accept the indication, asked again "what?". At this point He took Bill's right hand for a moment and looked at the Shirdi Baba ring He had made and given him in February, and then releasing his hand He said "what do you want? What do you want? Just ask Baba". When Bill didn't respond He said "you like cross?" and with the characteristic circular motion of His right hand He materialized a silver ring with a rectangular top containing a cross raised on it which he then put on his left hand ring finger (precluding a wedding ring going there?). Of course the rings He makes always fit exactly the person he makes them for, or else there is some play that goes on afterwards when He resizes them. After a brief time He got up and took each of our three groups separately into the inner interview room for more private interactions. First He took the other group from overseas, then our group, then the three Indian men. Inside the inner room I took a seat at the rear of the room. He again started with Bill making a comment similar to before which Bill still couldn't grasp so I leaned forward and very quietly rephrased what I had heard while Swami turned his attention to the women's side. Shortly with Bill again Swami seemed to give them His blessings for their marriage after Bill's repeated insistence. Mary and Annika sat in front of Swami's chair and like little children kept up a campaign of touching His feet, Mary at one point reaching up to touch his hand on the chair arm and He gently scolded her "don't touch" "bad (or mad) girl!" in a sweet soft manner. Sometimes speaking in a very soft voice hard to hear all over the room and sometimes louder as though more meant for everyone's ears, the interview proceeded. At some point early on he gestured wordlessly to me, but psychically very clearly, pointing to my chest, then up at the ceiling, then behind me to the wall. I turned around, put my finger on one of two switches there and paused a moment, he immediately said "yes", and I activated the Indian style electric switch turning on the overhead fan. Brother was sitting closest to Baba of the men and soon He asked him "where is wife?". Brother glanced toward his wife and Baba asked again "where is wife" so he pointed to her. Swami said "I know, I know"; "always fighting" and while saying this he made a gesture repeatedly touching the tips of His two index fingers together as though they were bouncing off each other. Then gently "she has a short temper". Coming to her defense, Brother responded with humorous intent "she's Italian Swami", which did garner some light laughter. Then He asked "how many children?". Brother responded gesturing with both hands and face heavenward sort of bemoaning "I don't have any children, Swami", with a psychic component equivalent to "I want to have many children", to which He responded by shaking His head as though to indicate "no", pointing to Sister and then motioning His hands over his own abdomen as though indicating that she was or going to be pregnant. Then softly He said something to the effect of "no, children soon, one year". To Sister "I give you daughter" and to Brother "I give you son". Then "son first, then daughter"; to Sister "only two, that's enough". He said "son is (to be called) Wisdom and daughter is (to be called) Peace". With unexpected intensity, He soon He spoke to me, "what are you doing!?", to which I responded first philosophically "living in your love, Swami" in a voice much louder and stronger than I would have expected to come out of me. He retorted with "(but) in country, what are you doing?"; to which in the same strong voice I responded "working to fulfill prophecy, Swami" while he demonstratively shifted his eyes off me and over towards the women in front as I responded. After a few brief interchanges with the women in front ("where are you from", where is your husband", etc.), He returned to me with "how are you feeling!?", to which in the same loud voice I replied (all the while since the beginning sitting at attention with palms together) "Very well, Swami, thank you". To this He responded by staring intensely and deeply into my eyes for some moments, making the "feeling the air" gesture under his face, and slowly saying to me "very happy, very happy" in a most kind and gentle way as though to bless me, release some tension, and prepare me for what was next. By this time I realized I was going to be the one "picked on" with the challenging intensity that creates a great deal of tension in the air making everyone squirm, and glad they aren't on the spot, until the tension is shortly released by some wondrous happening including a flood of His divine love. Again, after a few brief interchanges with others He comes back to me with maximum intensity "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?". Instantly as I finish my response of "science research", He thrusts out his right arm to full length pointing with index finger in the center of my chest and says very loudly and emphatically, "You are God!". (His gesture had the imminence of a dagger thrust, so my eyes were on His hand, but brother said his eyes met Swami's when He said this to me) Then, in an ever so gentle voice, He said "researching? God?" The effect was "you are researching God?", but the tone and timing of his voice was "God knows everything and so needs to research nothing". Immediately following while he is still piercing me with his gaze, someone in front of the women's side snickers a little to which he turns seriously and says "no, (it's true), the body is the Temple of God". Later Annika said that He said softly at that point "God is everywhere, it is mad to look for God", which I never heard. At this point, tension released, Mary asked Him (concerned about her health) "How is my temple doing, Baba?"; to which He said "yes, yes (I take care)". Then came Brother's opportunity so with the same hands and face to the heavens gesture he asks with a loud voice on the edge of cracking, "is the cancer gone, Swami?". A floodgate of emotions broke all over the room as Baba responded immediately in the middle of his question by raising His own hands high and slapping Brother on his hands now in front of his face, saying "I BLESS you, I BLESS you", then patting him firmly him twice on top of his head. Then, looking at Sister he says "I take care". At this point Brother looked over into his wife's eyes with a particular look reflecting his deep emotional reaction to this occurrence and when Carla caught the look in his eyes over Sister's shoulder (a look she later said she would never forget) she became very emotional and leaned crying over Sister's shoulder. Baba then addressed Carla asking "why are you crying?" Carla said "I'm so happy. She is my friend". He responded with "not friends, sisters; all women are sisters and all men are brothers; all are My children". Then to Baba's query of Brother "are you happy here?", he responded "yes, Swami". To Carla he asked "what do you want?" Carla said "Swami I just want to love people as much as I love animals". He responded slowly and lovingly with what must be one of His more famous maxims, "start the day with love, fill the day with love, end the day with love, (this is the way to God)" Then to Brother He asked "what are you doing?" Brother, who was now very emotional streaming tears down his face, said "I'm a foot doctor, Swami (gesturing to Baba's feet)". Mary then said (erroneously) "but he's sold his practice, Baba". Brother's reaction was to kind of snap out of it and ask Him with palms together, "What can I do to serve you Swami?". Baba responded with "baby"; Brother said "what?" and Swami motioned as though He was cradling and rocking a baby in His arms looking at it lovingly and He made a silly sound with tongue and top lip like a father might make to make an infant smile. He then repeated a couple of times carefully "son and daughter, son is wisdom and daughter is peace". Back to Brother He asked "when are you leaving?" On Wednesday, was the response and Swami feigned not understanding and made him repeat the answer a couple of times. After a few brief interchanges with the women in front, He asked me "when are you leaving?" For several moments I could not answer with thoughts racing through my mind like: "Since I don't have a tight schedule should I stay longer than planned; but my family will be eagerly awaiting my return and trip story; but my duty on this trip is to escort Brother; in any case let God's will done; in reality only my body will leave but I will be here with Him always, etc." Finally as I burst out with my best response of "with your permission, Swami", he was saying "I know, I know". He asked Carla a few times "how are you feeling?". Each time her response was like "OK" until the last time asked more intensely she responded emotionally "I feel depressed Swami". Baba looked to Sister as though he didn't understand and asked her "(what did she say?)" Sister had been feeling completely tongue-tied the whole time and was hoping that Baba wouldn't ask her anything out of nervousness about what kind of answer to choose, but now she felt quite at ease and eagerly repeated "she said that she's depressed, Swami". Baba responded "that's because she feels that she is separate from God" which Sister had to repeat to Carla at her request to grasp the words. As his remedy for Carla He said "I will make you die mind, diamond" whereupon He adjourns our separate group interview and we return to the others in the outer interview room. Here a different place to sit is open for me, just in front, beside His chair. After He takes His seat Swami repeats to Carla "I make you diamond, die mind" and with the characteristic circling of his hand he produces for her a beautiful gold ring with a large brilliant bright green gem that sparkled like a diamond and put it on her left hand ring finger. It was remarkable that the colors were a near match for both Carla's unusually green eyes and also the green and gold sari that Sister was wearing. Baba then took the group of Indian men into the inner room leaving us to marvel at all that had taken place. After everyone returned, Baba went through a curtain into a side room and emerged with one of his orange robes folded up and gave it to one of the Indian men saying that it was for his wife and teased him that "it's not for you to wear". He returned behind the side curtain again and came out with a big plastic bag to put the robe into. Then in their language He spoke to the man now just behind me whose ring He changed earlier and apparently asked him if he was happy with the new ring, its fit, etc. The man must have responded that he would prefer to wear the ring on his index finger rather than the ring finger so Swami took the ring and the man's hand and right in front of my face only a few inches away he repeatedly put the ring on and off of his index finger resizing it before my very eyes until the fit was satisfactory! The signal that our interview was coming to its customary close came as Swami said "vibhuti" and from a large handbag by the window He put a dozen or more small plastic packets of vibhuti into each of our hands as a parting gift. Each packet had the five petaled sarvodharma symbol on one side and the vibhuti mantra printed on the other side. Shortly, Swami ended the interview with "time to go" and then held the door open for everyone to file out by Him. Being in the forefront seat I was the last to walk out and He close the door behind me with such timing that it touched gently on the clothing on my back exactly as it clicked shut. We filed back down through the rows of assembled elders. Brother and I sat then for some minutes in the darshan area reflecting quietly as I took some quick notes on what had happened with a mind to try and remember the order of occurrences.
Our group gathered afterward over dinner at the Sai Towers restaurant and compared recollections of our experiences and appreciated the new rings of Bill and Carla. Carla arrived late and explained that she had been mobbed by dozens of Indian women as she came out of the interview who all wanted to kiss her ring and treat her royally. Sister asked Carla to be the Godmother of the children Swami had predicted for her and Carla was overjoyed to accept this offer explaining that she didn't have anyone in the world to leave her new ring to when she died and she wanted to leave it to Sister's upcoming daughter because she understood that unless such rings are willed to someone Swami approves of that they disappear after the death of the recipient. One could almost feel the floodgate of love for people in Carla beginning to open with her new found affection for Brother and Sister from this experience together and this wonderful prospect of a family to come.
The next day, on Sunday 29 September, our line was picked second in the entry lottery for darshan and we got seats in the front row near the corner where the aisle Baba walks from the women's side turns toward the Mandir. After He got half way down the aisle coming towards us Swami didn't look or glance or even face towards Brother and I as he cut across the wide corner with his back to us as he made the turn. This was an important reference experience so we could know the feeling of what many people have described when it is very clear that He is intentionally "ignoring" you. Obviously he saw and recognized us and for His reasons gave us this experience so we would have it to compare to our earlier contacts. Annika later explained that it is very routine for Him to seem to completely ignore folks the day after their interview. I felt that his asking me "what are you doing?" was meant for me to be kept in mind for the rest of my life at each moment to help guide me on the right path but I couldn't help wishing that he had asked me one more time so that I could have formulated a more detailed answer. So as a further response I prepared one of my calling cards to offer him with those details and with the three items of my unfinished agenda written on the back to submit for His consideration: 1) Hopi Tablet?, 2) U.S. President, and 3) Kingdom of Jerusalem Israel and Return Jesus Christ. In the top left corner of the card over the atom logo I placed one of the tiny stickers with his picture wearing red. I brought the card to offer but not having the chance, I decided to bring it to offer Him each day for the rest of our visit. During the day we spent quite a bit of time together recalling the details of our interview between the three of our family and later with Carla. Preceding Swami's afternoon discourse one of the speakers told the story of the divine couple Shiva and Pavarti at a large gathering of their devotees who were waiting in long lines to collect the holy water offered there to take home to their families as a special blessing. When they revealed their conviction that almost all of these devotees would not be able to sit at His lotus feet, Lord Shiva's listener was incredulous and asked why. To demonstrate the couple assumed the disguise of an elderly couple on the outskirts of the gathering where the man was lying on the ground apparently dying of thirst and the wife was asking each of the pilgrims as they were leaving to offer a little of the holy water that they had obtained to her dying husband. Time after time the pilgrims refused for whatever reason that they gave until at long last one devotee was asked "please, my husband is dying of thirst, will you offer a few drops of the holy water you have collected so that he may receive this blessing before he dies here?" This devotee's reply was "please, dear woman, give all of this water that I have collected to your husband so that he might be refreshed". Continuing the test Pavarti in the form of the old woman said "but we can't take all of it, what about you yourself and your family", to which the man replied "good woman, I am young and I am able and glad to wait in the long line again to get more for myself and my family, but my reward by your accepting this from me is the happiness I will feel to know that it will be of help to you and make you happy". At this the couple assumed their Divine Forms and explained to their original listener "you see here is the only one of the many thousands of devotees gathered who will sit at the lotus feet because only his attitude and understanding has made him worthy".
As usual, when afterwards Swami spoke, it was very difficult for me to follow much of the translation but one brief message leaped out at me clearly from His Divine Discourse. Regarding the relationship between husband and wife He said that "the wife serves husband so that the husband in tern can serve the wife and enable her to serve the children who should be taught by each to serve their parents".
On Monday 30 September our entry line was picked twelfth but we got seats in the third row. Swami took Brother's third (a thank you) letter and I looked for the opportunity to offer my card but was prevented by someone between us lunging forward with his letter at which Baba turned and walked on. Over breakfast we compared notes about our interview and shared the experience with an easily met new friend, who had come over a week before from the Philippines, named Rolando Carbonnell. I had for some reason felt wary of him until this morning, perhaps due to his extremely outgoing and praise motivated nature, but when he mentioned the name of Simonton who is associated with the development in medicine of a whole new field called phychoneuroimmunology, I felt myself open up to accept him entirely. After Brother's surgery I had found out about Simonton's course in this discipline, for cancer patients, and had recommended it to him, but our trip to India came about so soon that there hadn't yet been time. It was a "coincidence" then that in over 22 years, since my April 1972 experience taking the biofeedback training and meditation class called Mind Dynamics, of all the people I had mentioned this experience to for over twenty years, I had met no one who had even heard of this class until this trip to India. After graduating the class six months before I did, Dr. O. Carl Simonton has applied what he learned to his medical practice as a cancer specialist. On this trip to India I met two different people who not only knew about this class but are personally acquainted with the founder of it, Alexander Everett. Jim, the dentist from Colorado Springs was one such person and the other was Rolando who explained that both Alexander and also Jose Silva, who started the course which Mind Dynamics was patterned after, both previously took Yoga classes from Rolando who was also acquainted with Mind Dynamics Institute's parent company Holiday Magic, Inc., and its founder William Penn Patrick. Rolando explained that he had changed his plan to stay two months in Puttaparthi and was now planning to leave at the end of two weeks, a day after our upcoming departure in two days, because of what he had been experiencing from Swami's completely ignoring him in darshan. This was unexpectedly hurtful to him because during his one previous visit to Baba in 1971, he had had a private interview in which he said Swami rubbed him on the chest and said "too much Bakti (devotion), too much", and he had given Baba a big "bear hug" before that interview was over. Whatever transpired then had been very influential in Rolando's (now Leelananda) life and he had felt and remembered that close personal connection over the last 25 years. Over the preceding few days he had assembled an interview group, including Allen from the Israeli group after the others left, with special scarves that they had made there. By now, uplifted from our interview experience, we were really "rooting" for them offering encouragement and suggestions on how to get better seating, etc. After breakfast I mailed the envelopes I had taken to darshan that morning containing my letter to the Vice Chancellor with documentation copies and my "...Bridge..." article (copies in appendix); original mailed to Vice Chancellor, copies to Chancellor (Baba), Brian O'Leary, and Bruce DePalma.
In the afternoon it rained which led to our going late to darshan but in time to see Swami from a distance and to see Him accept Rolando's letter and grant his request for interview. The group scarves by design are usually supposed to unite groups by country of residence. Their group was unusual not only in members from different countries (USA, Philippines, Australia, etc.) but in design it was a large purple scarf on which was embroidered large the word "COSMIC" across the top with the Sanskrit Om symbol in the middle of the "O". Underneath that word was a big eye and on Rolando's scarf under was embroidered "Leelananda". When their group of six assembled on the veranda, Baba paid full attention to Rolando, during an affectionate greeting, who was overwhelmed with Swami's remembrance of him. Baba remarked to him about the scarves as "naughty". After darshan we waited with Carla in the restaurant for Rolando and some of his group to arrive to hear about their experience. Although he did explain about his prostrating at Swami's chair and holding tight to His lotus feet in gesture of deep reverence and divine empowerment, what he felt was most noteworthy of their interview was how much attention Swami paid to Allen, who could only repeat over an over with a flushed face and wide eyes, "That was so intimate, so intimate", as Baba had patiently reassured him over and over and over of His blessings upon each of the many worries and problems Allen had voiced to Him. The first thing Rolando reported was how he had been mobbed by people aggressively seeking his blessings and even healings, after coming out of the interview room, perhaps due to his distinguished and handsome appearance with long white hair, combined with the unusually affectionate greeting that he shared with Baba on the veranda before the interview and then encouraged by his showering vibhuti over the crowd afterward from one of the packets Swami had given him.
The next day, October 1st, was the first day of the Paduka ceremonies which seemed very auspicious although we did not take part in any of them. The symbolism of this is reminiscent of the life of Lord Rama who, while in exile for fourteen years in the forest, sent His padukas (a kind of sandal) as His symbol of authority to be enthroned by His brother who could then properly inaugurate His kingdom and righteously act as His regent until His absence was over and Lord Rama could then assume the throne. Since Sri Sathya Sai, as the contemporary avatar, is widely considered the re-embodiment of Lord Rama (as Sai Ram), the divine empowerment of this ceremony is expected to have far reaching consequences for the upliftment of mankind. As we were waiting for early morning darshan, a large red-orange dragonfly came and landed in the middle of my forehead, for almost a minute, to Brother's amusement. At this point I was deeply wondering if I should leave the next day with Brother and Sister as scheduled or if I should stay longer to pursue my own spiritual mission with regard to my remaining agenda. By this time after these few weeks of practice, it became easier and easier to recognize a divine psychic response and answers to spiritual questions by just contemplating posing the queries to Bagawan Swami (Baba). Thus in the quiet of awaiting darshan meditation it became clear to me that unless I got a clear signal to stay, I should plan to leave on schedule to fulfill my family duty considering that my reference to Baba's departure permission in our interview would fulfill the traditional student's obligation to ask permission from the Teacher in order to leave His presence. We had been admitted in the second entry line and sat in the second row as Swami approached us with a loving look that itself just beamed "glad to see you". He stopped in front of me to accept my offer of my calling card and He was so slow and deliberate in His hand movement that my excitement made me stretch slightly awkwardly such that my card "boinked" His middle finger before he accepted the card with agenda message on its back. As he walked away on down the aisle, for the first time of our visit I started to feel tears coming to my eyes from what can only be described as being overwhelmed with His Divine Love. In the afternoon it rained again (usually it had rained at night before sunrise) as we walked to darshan where we sat in back. After we visited with Carla and also did last minute gift shopping. I packed late into the night and at one point during packing I rested on the bed with my eyes closed and now knowing what the interview room looked like I began visualizing being there again talking to Baba to complete the agenda I had given Him on my card. As my meditation became vivid after just a few moments I was overwhelmed with the realization that it was not just imaginary but very real in the sense that whatever I would visualize discussing with Him in this manner would have the exact same result of seeing Him again and talking in person, so deep and all pervading is His awareness and the divine nature He shares with all humanity. This realization quite startled me because I didn't quite feel prepared as to what exact words to choose in addressing so I abruptly ended this meditation as though turning off a two-way video teleconference like "Babavision ", knowing that anytime and anywhere I was ready to open this kind of communication again that it would be available. Just the experience of this awareness gave me great reward in solace and peace and confidence.
So it was that the next day arrived as we prepared for our noon departure on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday Wednesday October 2nd. While we waited for Swami's appearance, I kept rehearsing over and over in my mind exactly what words I would say to Him today, if the opportunity was available when He passed by, aware that by merely contemplating this it was as good as actually having the chance to physically talk to Him. Over and over I contemplated describing for his blessing a plan to come next time to India with representatives of several native American cultures' spiritual leaders to see and meet this amazing Holy One, this Great Spirit of Bagawan Swami Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Since we had heard last Summer that over 80% of the people in Japan had by now heard of Sai Baba, my contemplated proposal included a stopover in Japan where in recent years both Baba and the native American spiritual people have gained widespread popular awareness. When He finally appeared He moved faster than his usual slow pace and seemed to pass all the way through the women's section in the center of the aisle accepting no letters or conversations. Today he took no interviews and went quickly down the first aisle of the men until after turning the corner towards us (we were in second row behind a long line of Japanese) he slowed and started taking letters from the Japanese in front row as He approached. Then, very similar to how He behaved the day after our interview, when He reached about five people away from us he angled across the aisle to stand directly on the opposite of us taking letters (giving us "back side darshan") and then without a look our way angled back to our side reaching about five or so people away to our right. The psychic connection I felt was very strong and then as he traversed the aisle by the Mandir, he went very slowly facing us about a dozen rows away just beaming a most happy face which felt like a sun shower of love as our departure and "good-bye" blessing. He was simply radiant on that, our last close encounter of my first visit, a most radiant farewell. I noticed that his darshan walk was being videotaped from a point near the lion statues that guarded the top of the entryway. From what Maria had said I assumed that this was for a documentary being made of the Paduka ceremonies, so I felt extremely blessed to think that such a radiant appearance of our Lord Sai may appear in this video and we were there to experience it in person. After reaching the veranda, Swami went back out near the video camera and spoke at length to a man nearby who stood up with palms together a few rows back. He went in and out a few times and then the darshan music stopped so Brother and I got up and left. Sister explained later that at this moment she also got up to leave but carried on a conversation after with a woman nearby about our interview experience which was of great encouragement. As she explained Sister was amazed that every single thing she had asked of Swami in the letters she offered Him had come to pass, but only now she had been waiting and hoping for some kind of "good-bye" connection with Him as we would be leaving in a few hours. Thusly pondering, after putting on her shoes, Sister looked up surprised to see Baba standing in front of her outside the darshan area waving and guiding a flatbed truck into the area (on it was decorated a statue of the Lord of Medicine which Swami was sending off on a procession to the hospital where He would conduct the installation ceremony later in the morning). When He had finished guiding the truck, He looked over at Sister who waved to Him enthusiastically hand over head. At this, Baba, facing her with hands hanging down by his side, made a dramatic gesture in response: Thrusting both arms full length above His head, palms facing behind Him, He faced skyward. The woman with Sister was astonished and said excitedly, "did you see that, He did that for you"! By the time Brother and I had reached the Sai Towers Hotel to enter for breakfast in their restaurant that day, the procession of people with musical instruments and the truck carrying the image of the Lord of Medicine was approaching the Hotel at the corner of the street after coming out the Gopuram gate. Maria happened to be standing by the hotel entrance and explained what was happening so I stood with her as the procession passed and paid my respects bowing palms together to the spirit of the one God embodied in the image and procession. After breakfast we gathered with Rolando and Annika and took photographs from the seventh floor patio of our hotel and then taxied to the airport.
During that final darshan I was holding a Rainbow Peace Braid in my hand for Swami's blessing and its message seemed absorbed in his radiant farewell.
PS: 30 NOV 98
Above was typed shortly after my return from India from recollections and journal notes of the trip. We had all hoped and optimistically interpreted everything towards my brother Chuck's recovery from cancer but in spite of this his condition worsened and he passed away on January 17, 1997, six months to the day after his surgery. I will be forever grateful to him and his memory for this opportunity to visit the Avatar in India and we all trust that Chuck's passing was blessed by his experiences and faith in Our Lord Sai.
04 January 1999: Chuck's wife Patti had a dream where Chuck came to her and said, "You have to go on or else I can't be born again". She interpreted this to mean that he would be reborn to her as a child of her own, a child they together had been unable to have. She believes that this is the way that he can serve Sai Baba in his next life as Prema Sai. As of now she has remarried and is expecting a baby boy in May 1999. This development adds another dimension to the interpretation of the details of our visit to India described above.
23Nov2013 Added: Sathya Sai Baba passed away from His human form on Easter Day, April 24, 2011, which would have been my brother Chuck's 52nd birthday if he were still living. Patti's son Ben is now 14 years old.