Al wrote: "When people ask how I came to Baba, I always say it is a long story and prefer to tell it when you have time to listen.
I first heard of the physical Swami from my sister back in the eighties. She had a big picture of Swami in her dining room, which I mistook for Jimi Hendrix. Funny, I thought, Jimi had moved on, years ago. Who is this guy?
My sister explained the concept of Avathar, which after having read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobigraphy of a Yogi, was not such a strange concept. Hey if God wants to incarnate, who’s to stop Him.
Then she got around to saying Sai Baba is God. Somehow I did not find this impossible – not that I believed it. God can come any time He wants, in any way He wants. So it did not shock me to hear Baba is God but at the same time, deep inside, I said, OK – let’s see. Perhaps in days to come I will get a better understanding.
That is the first story on how I came to Baba. The second story goes something like this.
In my late teens, a friend who had been attending lectures in meditation asked me to join him for his initiation.
It was about 3:00 in the morning when we drove out. As an incentive to get up so early and keep him company, he promised that this “guy,” we would meet, will also teach me.
It was a short drive and before I knew it, I was seated in front of this man, whom I now realize is a Guru.
He questioned what I was doing there. Initiation is only for those, who attended the presumably preparatory lecture, which very clearly I had no idea was necessary to be sitting before this Guru.
However I was persistent … “but my friend promised that you would teach me.” Perhaps it is not in the nature of man to argue so early in the morning or perhaps the Sath-Guru has deeper wisdom than I am aware of but he agreed to teach.
He had me sit in Padmasana, lotus position. Asked to close my eyes. Then said, think you are in the presence of God.
Now I had never seen God before. Even though I was born in a devout Catholic family, spent years on years studying in a Jesuit school and further born and raised in largely Catholic country in the Far East, at that point in my young life, I could not conjure an image of God.
Instead I saw a tall iron gate. It was a big main entrance with iron grills, that opened to a path leading to an even larger complex. I could not see Him but I knew God was in there, somewhere.
I held on this thought for a while.
Not satisfied, because I have an active and creative imagination, I tried to picture God again. This time, I saw myself floating over a city. I could see rooftops and it looked like I was in a foreign country. Ah, Jerusalem. I am floating on air looking down rooftops in Jerusalem, the land of Jesus. It’s close enough.
So for many years, I meditated this way. Seeing the gate in my mind and the rooftops.
Then about 30 years or so later, I was in India, in Prashanti Nilayam to be precise. It did not dawn on me right away but in a moment while relishing the experience, I realized the Iron Gate I saw in meditation was the Ganesh Gate. I could not see God from outside but I knew He was inside the compound.
In the same way, to get Darshan of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, one would have to go pass the Ganesh Gate and into the Mandir.
Savoring that instance of realization, I remembered going up the hill to see the Kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling) tree. When you climb further, you see all of Puttaparthi from above. Those were the rooftops I saw in meditation.
Reaching deeper into memory, I recall the Guru’s instructions; repeat the word “Baba” while in the presence of God.
Today I realize I had been given a mantra, but back then in the ignorance of my youth, it was just a 2-syllable word. It meant nothing.
However I hung on to that word over the years as I still do today. It is my constant companion.
As Swami says, the name of God is all you need to cross this ocean of Samsara and onto the shores of Vaikunta.
Bolo Jai Sai Ram"
- By: Al Macasaet Age: 64, Manila, Phillipines. Recieved : Jan 2012