(Editor’s note: Phil Sloan, P. F. Sloan a pioneer from the early important days of American rock music, is allowing Souljourns to post a number of his stories involving how he came to know of Sai Baba and how his life has been transformed by Baba. Many of these stories are posted below. Since this project is intending to record individual connections to Sai Baba for the sake of posterity, each of you is invited to write as detailed an account as you wish.)
My name is Phil Sloan, from Los Angeles, Ca...I have been traveling to India
to see Swami for 27 years now...These are a few of the leelas that have been written down, that I would care to share....Sairam...
Story 3: Taxi to Infinity
I’d been at the mercy of the summer heat and the mosquitoes for six weeks now. And though I felt my spirit had become charged with energy my body felt on the edge of collapse! I had all but run out of money for my 3rd trip over to India to see Sai Baba, and I wanted to go home to L.A.
It’s not that living at the ashram was expensive; it was practically free. A room cost pennies a day as well as the fresh cooked vegetables and rice. But getting up every morning at 3:00 a.m. for prayers, and waiting for hours in line in the hot sun to get into the Darshan grounds to see Baba had worn me down. I needed a hot bath and maybe a cold beer.
I decided to leave the next morning.
I checked into a moderate price hotel and I ordered from room service a hot meal with a cold beer. After staying in the hot shower for twenty minutes my body began to respond to my commands again. I had just enough money for this night and for the taxi fare to the airport and I sat on the balcony terrace looking up at the stars and feeling great. When suddenly I was hit with a sadness! It hit me like a shockwave!
I felt I needed to see Sai Baba at the ashram one more time before leaving. My body quivered at the thought of going back to the Ashram, and my mind rebelled! But I couldn’t fight the feeling.
Thinking maybe I had hidden some rupees in my valise when I wasn’t aware of what I was doing, I frantically tore thru my bag looking for something that wasn’t there. I mean I must have looked thru it a dozen times. Each time I looked I swear I believed I’d find some. I lay down on the bed exhausted, unable to grasp the feeling that had come over me! I turned off my mind and the lights and fell asleep.
When I awoke in the morning, I decided "Hey, let’s look thru the luggage again!" I laughed at myself in disbelief as I watched myself searching thru the same clothes, corners and crevices of the suitcase. Then, "Oh", I said.
I found a bundle of 20 rupee notes!!! There were a lot of them!
I was too excited to count. I looked at the time and found that I could get to Darshan with time to spare as I ran out the door of my room, flew down the cold marble steps to the lobby and jumped into the first cab, saying take me to Brindivan. (Brindivan is the name of Baba’s Ashram in Whitefield, about 15 minutes away by taxi cab.) The cab driver said "Yes, okay", and he took off down the noisy streets, making lefts and rights and lefts and then we were on this long straight road I hadn’t ever seen before. There were fields of tall golden stalks on the left and right. I scrunched my lips and thought, I really never noticed this stuff before. "Brindavan", I said, "We’re going to Brindavan, right?" "Yes, okay", he said.
Further along the road the fields of golden stalks were getting thicker and thicker. I thought you know this guy doesn’t speak English! "The sun is lemon jello", I said, "Right?" He says, "Yes, okay! Your mother wears army boots, right?"
Yes, okay. Now, after a good 40 minutes on the road the driver suddenly veers off to the shoulder and falls asleep at the wheel!…. You know, what are you going to do? This guy doesn’t speak English. And what am I going to say to him if I wake him up?
I sat in the back seat looking out the window at a clear blue sky surrounded by golden stalks on the ground, and thought "God, is this was where I was supposed to be?!"
Twenty minutes must’ve gone by, I don’t know. I had shut my eyes and was napping, when I saw someone approaching the cab from the fields.
I rolled down the window and a man in his early thirties dressed in white shirt and pants asks me, "Are you going to Brindavan by any chance? I said, "Yes, I had hoped to". At this moment the taxi driver woke up and yawning, looks at the man getting into his cab and gets angry. The man entering the cab talks to him in a rapid-fire tongue and the driver turns the motor on and pulls away like a cowboy in a gallop. Now it’s 60 minutes past the time of Darshan and I figure well, we missed it. The man in the front seat begins to tell me his story.
He tells me last night his wife took ill. Very ill! He did everything he could for her to make her comfortable and she was at last able to get some sleep. Sai Baba came to him that evening in a dream and said "I know your wife is ill, and you can’t afford a doctor. I will send a car for you and you come to see me at the Ashram. I will give you some holy ash that will heal her!"
As our cab arrived at the Ashram gates we were told that Baba had delayed Darshan that morning, and lo, look he was just coming out now.
The man takes off toward Baba, and mind you there are around 2,000 people sitting there in front of him waiting.
Baba walks directly to the man and puts a packet in his hand and says something to him. Pats him on the back. He gets back into the cab, as I pay the taxi driver off. They take off like an eagle!
Baba walked back into the Darshan area but since it was so crowded, I couldn’t really get in. But as he had walked towards the man, I had mentally said to him, "Thank you for the wonderful time I had by Your Grace, and with your permission I wish to return home".
Baba didn’t acknowledge my mental words to Him as He sometimes will. But I knew He had felt my love and I had felt His one more time.
I caught a cab back to the hotel and flew back to California.
Story 4: In A Bombay Alley
You’ren a Bombay alley next day
© MCA Music Secret Agent Man By: (PF Sloan - S. Barri)
Before I left India, I stopped in Bombay (Mumbai). One of the world's oldest and busiest ports, now a thriving movie and music town. They call it Bollywood. I was going to see a psychic there, The Reader Of Brigue. I was told that the reader had personal problems, mostly chasing after Western women, and his accuracy of reading the future was limited, but I had promised a friend that if I could, I would see him.
I called the number up on the card I had been given and made an appointment to see him the following day. Checking into a small hotel called the International Grand, it had as much room as a beehive cell, he said. But it was cheap and clean.
After washing up in the room, I decided naturally to have a look around the city. Stepping outside into the street, I took a deep breath, and could smell the burning leaves mixed with cow dung that intoxicated the senses.
A rich, deep and memory-lingering smell.
After an hour's walk, seeing mostly apartment buildings and small shanty-style dwellings, I found my way back to the hotel and had dinner. Then went upstairs to sleep and await the next day.
In the morning , caught a cab to the Reader's residence. A large condo-like apartment building. He knocked at the door and a tall, blonde, American Goddess opened the door and ran out into the hallway screaming, until she disappeared from view. "It looked like a Marx Brothers' movie". I lit a cigarette, and looked introspectively for a time. I hesitated to interrupt his reverie, when he began to continue talking. Well, he took me downstairs into a parking lot and measured my shadow with a ruler, right? Then back upstairs behind his desk, he pulled out a number of plastic sheaths and he begins to tell me about my business, and love life.
Pretty accurate he was, down to the color of ex-girlfriends hair and eyes. He asked if I was more interested in my past or future, and I said "Whatever!"
At the end of the reading I gave him 400rs and walked out into the street. I had lunch somewhere, and I began to walk back to the hotel. My reservations on the airline were not for another two days, and I wondered what I was going to do with the time, when a taxi cab pulled up and the driver said, "You must come with me sir". Vince said he had seen too many movies to go for that line! He said he had the strangest feeling though, that he knew the cabdriver somehow, and instinctually trusted him. The cabbie said again, "Please come with me, sir. Trust me, no harm will come to you". I said, "Alright, I’m coming", and I got into the back seat.
We must have driven for two hours, the city streets faded from sight and the scenery was becoming backroads. He kept driving, thru the dusty backroads, until he stopped in front of a small building in the proverbial middle of nowhere, or as the yogi would say now here!
He got out of the cab and opened my door like I was getting out of a limo in Hollywood! "This is my cousin’s hotel, I will get you a good rate, don’t worry!" I was still under the spell of déjà vu, I guess, because my mind was trying to get my attention, badly!
It wanted to say to me, "You idiot! You fool! This guy picked you out as a sucker and you bought it! Now look what trusting your instincts has done! How many times do I have to tell you……." Something like that. I felt the vague waves of its embarrassment, but I decided not to listen. Not now, not yet.
I looked around the landscape and it was deserted as far as I could see. Huge dirt roads, a bridge that seemed to lead to nowhere, and this little white stucco hotel. I walked in. The manager or owner, I don’t know, welcomed me like I was the King Of Morocco! He showed me to a room and said "Don’t worry, I’ll give you a good rate!" I stepped inside a small 12-by-15 room with a bed, and a black and white TV that didn’t work.
It was 1:00 p.m.
I sat on the bed and watched the cab drive off, lit a cigarette and continued to stare out the window at dust. I must’ve fallen asleep for an hour or more, when bells outside in the street awoke me. It looked like a carnival. Hindu priests were stepping off a large truck ringing bells and waving incense sticks. A lot of people with animals were suddenly crowding into this tiny street. I watched awestruck at this change and the colors of the ceremony! Just as suddenly as it began, it ended, and the truck with the priests left canvass empty again.
"I had hoped to give up the nicotine habit while I was in India", Vince told me.
I had promised myself not to buy a pack while I was there. But to my chagrin, I found they sold individual cigarettes, and I wanted one now! I fought the feeling for ten or fifteen minutes but it wouldn’t go away! I walked out the door of my room, to the manager's desk and asked where I could buy a cigarette. He smiled, and just pointed. I watched where he was pointing to and followed into the street where the Priests had done the animal blessings. There was nothing there!
I walked around to where the bridge was and crossed it. It was a mile long or so, and there were a few shops, but no smoke shops. I purchased a small silver ring of an Indian Saint named Shirdi Sai Baba for a few rupees, had a small bite to eat at a little stand, and walked back to the hotel.
It was around 5:00 p.m.
The sun was beginning to set and I was still on the search for a smoke shop when I found this alley of streets to the west of the small hotel. I entered it and found a smoke shop! What was interesting to me was how the alleyway seemed to go on and on into an ever-widening and curling street. I started walking deeper into what seemed like a labyrinth. The sun was still going down slowly, when I became aware of my fear again. It wanted to advise me that people can disappear in alleys!
I heard a voice exclaim, "He’s here! Baba is here!" Vince took a drag from his cigarette and looked me dead in the eyes.
"You won’t believe what happened next", he said. He told me he felt a great sense of exhilaration and began looking himself for Sai Baba.
As I walked further into the alley people were sitting on the roadway, and I seemed to feel as if they were my dear relatives! I heard myself say to myself
"Oh, there’s Narayana and his two children. She just got over a severe cold, and he’s been grateful that she’s better."
I saw an old man, and I heard myself say, "Just 120 hairs left on his head and missing one tooth in his back pocket comb!" Windows flew open and people cried "Baba, baba!" I felt myself gliding above the street, blessing each and every one from a heart filled with a Universe of abundant love!
Then I heard this Voice saying to me, "Oh look, that man's lungs are black with smoke! Baba will fix. Watch, watch!"
The image of Sai Baba was now inside my mind. As he took this deep breath in and exhaled a ton of black smoke. "Look now, black lung is gone… clean!" He laughed and laughed and laughed. "Look what Baba did", I heard Him say as he laughed.
"Is it you, Baba?", I said. "Yes", he laughed. "Just watch and listen!"
At that moment I heard millions of voices in my head, I knew the sound of each and every one of them. I knew their names and the names of their families and fathers and great-grandfathers back to the beginning when there was no one but God and into the future I saw their children and children’s children into infinity. They were praying to God! Baba said to me, "See that man upstairs by the window, he doesn’t like me. He’s been asking me for a job for a long time.
He doesn’t know his brother-in-law is coming here next week with good news for him." I felt under my feet the insects who lived there and knew them as well as I knew myself and loved them as much. I knew their desires and feelings.
We came across a very small Muslim temple and the priest came out and bowed to Baba!
He asked Him in to bless the temple and at that moment I was left alone in my personal consciousness. I felt a cold fear tickle my mind like needles. I cried inside, "Baba, where are you?"
And He replied, "Don’t worry, I’ll be right back."
I did what I thought to be my best imitation of Baba, using my hands in the way He might, and told the priest to wait. He didn’t seem to notice anything wrong, I mean that it was me, Vince, there and not Sai Baba, so I stood fast and waited for Baba to return.
He did, I heard him tell the priest, "I bless! I bless! I bless!" and we moved on.
The sun had just gone down, and lights came on in the alleyway like a small Las Vegas! Music began playing and noise everywhere…. Baba seemed to be leaving the alley and people were waving goodbye! It was now dark outside as I reached the entrance where I had first entered into the alley.
I didn’t know what had just happened! My mind was trying to tell me that I just went over the edge and should seek medical help! I walked into the hotel and the owner said to me, "Did you see Him?" "See who?", I said. "Sai Baba, Sai Baba was here! What a pity that you missed Him!", he said. Every 7 years the people
in the alley save up enough money to celebrate a holiday. They wrote to Sai Baba asking Him if He would come, and He sent a letter saying "Yes, He would!"
"What I experienced was real. I tasted our Real Self that contains omnipresence and omipotence and omnicompetence! Peace beyond imagination and Love beyond anything we as humans call love."
. The cab driver came the next morning and took me back into Bombay where I stayed for another day, until I caught the plane back home to Los Angeles.
Story 5: The Man From Honeywell
I was sharing a room with two Australians. They had their mattresses and nets comfortably arranged when I moved in. I felt like a squatter. I set up my business on the concrete floor in a corner of the room that would have been comfortable for one person. But the Ashram was filling up with people from all over the world. Rooms in the ashram were very inexpensive and were at a premium, hence the doubling and tripling up. There was a small Western-style bathroom, (the Indian-style bathroom had what looked like a bed pan cemented to the floor) and a sink with running water. Home sweet home!
I had told a few friends that I had hoped to lose some weight on my trip to India, little did I know that Sai Baba must have heard me, and had me pay a price for that desire!
Everyone was abuzz about the new super specialty hospital that had been built in one year. "An impossible feat", said the President of India, when he had visited the marshland where the hospital was to be built. "There’s no way to bring heavy machinery onto that land", they had said. And the plans that Baba drew up himself for the architecture would take at least 3 years. The next morning after Baba’s announcement that the hospital would be completed the next year on his birthday, and this before the first brick was laid!
Well, the land somehow became solid and only hand workers were allowed to work on it. No machinery! It was built in grand Indian design and larger than a number of city blocks. Everything was supposed to be free. And doctors from all the world came to donate their time. The first surgery was a heart surgery and it was done on Baba’s birthday. I went to take a look at it and indeed it was grand, but that’s not what this story is about really.
I lay on my mattress on the floor listening to the Aussies swap beer stories and how the women and fishing are so good, and what in the world are they doing here anyway. They didn’t seem to get who this 'Sai Barbra' was, as they called him. A week came and went and then one of the Aussies got dysentery. It was a bad case and he was constantly in pain. It was difficult to get any sleep, and then I caught it. With one bathroom to share it was comical to see. However the comedy had just begun. I began losing strength and couldn’t go out to buy water or food. The Aussie who was well seemed to forget I was there while his hands were full nursing his friend. I seemed to lose track of time after a while, and I felt "This is not the way I wanted to lose weight!"
I slept and didn’t eat and didn’t drink any water for I don’t know how long. I felt as if I could leave my body at any time. I didn’t feel panic, or scared.
It seemed natural, but the thought or idea of it seemed wrong. I lived in a dream state and no longer lived in the world, when the door of the room opened up and a man from Minnesota asked where he could put his bed down.
The Aussie who was well was out of the room. The other Aussie was recovering, but he wasn’t aware that I was even there! The man from Minnesota
yelled out, "This man is dying! What’s the matter with you people? He needs electrolytes and water right away." I was given huge amounts of the stuff and in a week or so I had recovered enough for him and I to engage in a conversation.
This is what he told me:
He said his name was Frank, but I’m not really sure that’s what it was. He had been to see Sai Baba once for a few days, seven or eight years ago. He worked as a specialist for the Honeywell Corp. His specialty was air conditioners.
Now it seems he had a dream where Sai Baba asked him for his help and would he come over to India? Frank told his wife about the dream and she said no, he couldn’t go. They couldn’t afford it and a hundred other reasons. The bottom line was, she placed a heavy pressure on him.
"If you go, don’t expect me to be here when you get back", she told Frank. Frank apparently hadn’t buckled under the pressure because here he was. A knock on the door! "The head of the Specialty Hospital has a car waiting for you, if you could join us as soon as possible" an Indian in a Nehru-style jacket said! I said to Frank, "That’s pretty good attention, man." He said, "Yeah, but I hadn’t told anybody I was here and I don’t know anyone at the hospital"!
Frank wasn’t easily ruffled at these seemingly impossible miracles. He was a yogi. Even-minded, you know, at anything that entered his world.
The problem was the doctors were performing surgeries with broken air conditioners. It was intolerably hot! The air conditioners were from the Honeywell Corp in Minnesota and Frank got on the phone with his supervisor there and told them they needed about a hundred s235890 model coils right away and could they send them over to India. ASAP!
Frank’s supervisor said, "So you’re in India, huh? That’s great, we thought you took off with a woman from St. Louis!" They both had a good laugh.
I’d watch Frank get up early every morning and do Yoga exercises. I was in awe at his mechanics, and perseverance. He’d go to Darshan every day and get last row in a crowd of 5-6,000 people, while I’d get first row and hand a letter to Baba that I’d written for him, or sometime he’d ask me how I was doing!
Frank stayed 5 more days and never once complained about his seating situation in the darshan grounds. He said, I’m where I am supposed to be. When I asked him, "What will you do if your wife isn’t there?", he said calmly, "She’ll either be there when I get back or not." I thanked him for saving my life, and he said "God’s grace." We shook hands and he told me he was a big Barry Manilow fan and if I ever performed out his way, he hoped he’d like my music as much as his.
So, a guy flies in from Minnesota after having a dream, saves my life, fixes the air conditioning at the hospital, and flies home just like that! Barry Manilow
I just want you to know I love you!
Story 6: The Secret Message
I was driving home alone after having had lunch with a friend in Venice, Ca.
While waiting in the left lane to make a turn, I saw a large expensive box in the middle of the intersection. It looked like a hat box to me. I made my turn, opened my door, and swooped it in like a hawk its prey.
I pulled over to the curb, shut the motor off, to have us a peek inside. The people in a restaurant, across the street with large glass windows, were watching my every move. So, this film was being shot and the audience was watching and what was this character going to do? What was in the box?
I lifted the top of the box and found inside a spongy and realistic form of a female breast. Being artistic by nature, it hadnít occurred to me this was a prosthesis, but rather a symbol of some kind.
Since breaking apart from my girlfriend, my first reaction was that this was a joke to remind me of how much I missed her physically. But looking at the audience across the street, I realized quickly that wasnít it.
Then I thought, did there have to be a message? Couldnít this just be some random event? Yes, I thought, exactly! This thought sobered me for me the moment, and I realized someone must want this back!
I looked on the box for an address or telephone number but found none.
I thought of taking it home with me and placing it on my pillow, but no, that wasnít the right thing to do.
I placed the box in front of the restaurant, in case whoever lost it decided to backtrack. I placed the mystery in front of the audienceÖ. And that was it, I thought, or rather would like to think.
As I was driving, I thought, what kind of person loses a breast like that? Oh, Betty, do you remember what I did with that breast I bought the other day? I found it comical, I didnít see the pain or the obvious.
It wasnít more than a couple of months later I found myself back in India with Sai Baba. The ashram rooms were completely filled up and that meant having to take a small hotel room in the town. Rooms there at the time were expensive and not as clean. Not to mention the endless noise of the traffic and cars that honked their horns in Indian tradition day and night!
I hesitated in making any decision and sat and waited for something to propel me into action. It came in the form of a woman. My on-again, off-again female love was at the ashram and says, "I have to talk to you". I told her of my situation, being without a room, that is and she said to me, "There is one room here that is locked up tight, but I have a friend who has the key. It seems the woman whose room it is went back to the States to have a cancerous breast removed!
Story 7: The Bank Caper
Jerry Brown was running for President again.
I was helping out in his campaign office by singing songs to the volunteers on their breaktime, and opening for him before he gave his fiery speeches on the road and on college campuses.
One of his favorite songs besides one that I had written, "Eve Of Destruction", was "Bad Moon Rising" by John Fogerty & Creedence Clearwater Revival.
It was the day of the night of the election. I had put together a band to play for the party at the campaign Headquarters. Jerry asked me to sing "Bad Moon Rising" as many times as possible during the evening. I said," Fine". The only problem was I didn’t know the lyric, and didn’t have a copy of the song as far as I could remember. I could have gone to one of the mega-record stores, but it didn’t occur to me then!
I had a few errands to run before the party and one of them was going to the bank. I had been a customer there for a few years and never had a problem with any of the tellers, okay? This day was different!
I stepped up to the window and the teller, an attractive lady, said to me, "Go over to the coffee bar and sit down!" I said, "I’m sorry, why should I do that?"
She just repeated what she had said a moment before, extremely curt and cold, I thought. I shook my head, rolled my eyes and walked over to the coffee bar that was a couple of couches, a table and an instant coffee maker.
Okay. I poured myself a cup of coffee, sat down on the couch, and kept looking at the teller. The bank was unusually empty, but everyone seemed very busy.
She didn’t accept my questioning glances.
With time on my hands I started looking thru the stacks of magazines on the coffee table. They were old copies of the usual, Time, Newsweek, People and a copy of Song Lyric magazine, circa 1978. On the cover it said: lyrics to this song and that song and "Bad Moon Rising"! You know you can feel the adrenaline flow when something hits you over the head!
I hurriedly copied the lyric down, though at first I thought I would just try and memorize it. I have to tell you that any moment I thought the magazine would
vanish in my hands. After successfully writing it down I re-approached the teller and she told me the computers had failed, and now they were up again.
I had this feeling that the faster I write the better it will be for all.
Well, the party went off as scheduled. We sang "Bad Moon Rising" for Jerry a number of times during the night. His bid for the presidency was not successful, but I think Jerry knew it, and his asking me to sing "Bad Moon Rising" may have been his way to let the volunteers know. I don’t know for sure.
But I believe we need more men of integrity like Jerry Brown in politics if the younger generations are going to become interested at all in ending the corruption and greed that has afflicted our system for too long.
In Northern Oregon, near Grant’s Pass, on a large plot of land called Enchanted Acres lives a Doctor Wilma Bronkey and her husband. Dr. Bronkey worked with handicapped children for 30 years and developed a system as to how to get thru to them with the love they need for healing.
Every July 4th, for the past ten years, they invited people to come bring tents and sleep out on the land and watch enchanted things happen. They invited a few speakers every year and I received a letter asking if I would be one of them.
I was feeling like a curmudgeon, low on money and energy when I got her request. I simply wrote it off in my mind, and planned to sit down and write her a "regrettably not" letter.
You know when you’re supposed to be somewhere, you’re going to be there whether you know it or not. I didn’t know it.
The first chain of events started with my receiving a CD of songs from The Flintstones TV show. I had been in a surf band in my early youth. A song I had written was recorded by James Darren and used for the TV shows. It was on this CD. Included was a small check from the record company. On the cover of the CD were Fred and Wilma, Barney and Pebbles. Cavemen and women.
Okay. I thought that was a fun surprise, but I had no way of knowing how it was attached to Wilma’s July 4th shindig. Though, Wilma should have been my first clue.
Without warning, an ex-girlfriend and I got together and decided to fly to San Francisco for the weekend. She wanted to show me where she used to live etc. etc.
We walked along the Castro district and found an old record shop. We walked in and I immediately went to work combing thru the stacks of old LPs looking for a rare Gene Vincent or Beatles release from Germany or England, when she came across an LP that had one of my recordings on it. It was called "Golden Nuggets Vol. 5" and contained my song and vocal of The Grass Roots' hit, ‘Where Were You When I Needed You’. I bought it and took it home, and one evening I began to read the liner notes. They said every song on this LP was a national hit but one, and for some reason everyone who was involved in the project felt it should be included on the LP. It was a local hit in Boston by a group called Edison Lighthouse, I believe. It was a song about July 4th and the girl he loved was named Wilma and what a good time they used to have! Clues 2 and 3.
C’mon, is it just me, or does it seem incredible to you? Or are you a callused spiritual seeker yourself and all these phenomenon seem to you like ho hum!
Okay, sometimes a building has to fall on me to get it. Is that the message, you get?
I drive up to Oregon, Grant’s Pass, and just a few blocks from Wilma’s place is this huge statue of a …… Caveman!
Story 9: Give Me A Brake
"I had bought myself a small economical Hyundai to get around in, you know. The car worked well, the only problem was that it was constantly being burglarized for its radio,. It was costing me $80 a pop to replace it, and it was getting to be too much. When it happened again, I cried out to Sai Baba, "What am I doing wrong
Baba said, "All children are mine! The thieves pray to me for help to get something to feed their family and what am I to do? I must answer their prayer even though they must pay for the consequences of their bad actions. I tell you this, unless one gives to charity with a full and open heart, all your money will go to either thieves, doctors, lawyers or to taxes! So, do what you will, you have been told".
I decided that day to start giving though it seemed like there are so many, I lovingly gave what I could. Coincidentally, the thieves stopped breaking into his car after that and he enjoyed relative safety.
On another evening, I was visited again in a dream by Shirdi Sai Baba. Baba said in the dream, "I am protecting you and not to worry, I will let you know when there is any danger with the car." "I had been worried about the brakes", I know I needed new ones but I just couldn’t afford them. I was saving up as best I could, and hoping they’d hold up. One day they started squeaking so badly, I had to bring the car into a mechanic. The mechanic came into the waiting room where I was sitting and looked ghastly. His face was pale and he was truly troubled! "Look here, mate, what kind of joke are you trying to pull then"? I hadn’t a clue as to what he was upset about and tried to tell him so. When he calmed down some and realized this wasn’t a gag, he took me into the garage and under my car and showed me my brakes, or rather lack of them. He stood there astonished and said, "Look, your car hasn’t any brakes at all, I mean none! He said "How did you get here", thinking if it wasn’t a joke, it came by tow truck, but I tried to tell him I honestly didn’t know anything about it. I said I’d been driving around for six months or so, even though I knew I needed a brake job! The mechanic seemed to start believing my story. When I told him I couldn’t afford a complete brake job, he took up a collection and said, "You’re not leaving here without new brakes", he said, "It’s on the house, son"!"
Story 11: Without A Leg To Stand On
A young Indian doctor interning in Africa returned home to his native land.
While on vacation he heard talk of a Divine Being giving Darshan. Being Hindu by birth but a scientist by nature, he skeptically went to visit this Holy Man. He was given extraordinary closeness, and the Holy Man's fame had not yet spread around the world, as it would in a few short years. This is the story as related to me by Dr. Gottia.
"I left India to return to my internship in an African hospital", he told this group of people who had come from all over Southern California to hear him talk.
"I had spent a week or so with a Holy Man in India, but was unimpressed with his small body and extra large crown of hair. When I left his small Ashram, I didn’t give him another thought.
One morning, I received an emergency call for a doctor in a small village, many, many miles from the hospital. It was my turn to take the call, and I did.
While out on the road a great force, in the form of gusts of wind, rolled my vehicle over. The vehicle was turned upside down with my legs pinned inside and I was unable to move.
As the sun set, I prepared myself for a long night ahead, with the hope in the morning I would be missed and eventually rescued.
When I was a small boy of eight or so I used a broom as my crutch and I would pretend I had lost a leg and hobble on the broom. I never thought this was odd behavior, even after I had grown into adulthood. For this lingering fear of losing my leg was somehow inside me. The only reason I am mentioning this is because of the strange and wonderful intersection that occurred after meeting Dr. Gottia!
Morning came and went on the African plains. The afternoon I spent pinned upside down with all the feelings in my legs gone.
As a doctor, I had the objective view that unless I was rescued soon, my legs would soon be useless.
When two black bushmen approached the car, early that evening, I felt my ordeal was over, but I wouldn’t know for sure if the blood stoppage in my legs would cause me to forever be without them. They pulled me out of the car, and in English told me not to worry, my legs would be alright. They put me on the side of the road and said an ambulance would be by and take me back to the hospital. Which happened in a short while.
I was told I was lucky, that a few hours more and my legs would have had to have been amputated.
So, when I had sufficiently recovered from my injuries, I took a leave, and flew back to be with my family in India.
My friend, Stephen, was in a terrible funk that afternoon. He had received some bad financial news and I felt it imperative to take him out to a great restaurant that would lift his spirits. But our way was blocked! Every street leading to the restaurant was unusually crowded. My patience was wearing thin on the congested Los Angeles streets. So I decided, instead of going north where the place was, I would do as the yogis do and go where the resistance is least.
Even if it’s in the opposite direction! So that’s what I did. Matter of fact, as I was on the freeway going west, the idea of going to that particular place had all but left my mind. But it hadn’t. I veered off the freeway and headed back north again on city streets. Finally I pulled across the street from the restaurant!
The Doctor decided to pay one more visit to the Holy Man; being very grateful to God for his good luck, he thought this would be a good gesture.
"So you’ve come back, and no worse for wear?" said Sai Baba, without being told anything of his ordeal. "Lucky for you two black tribesman showed up, who just happened by that deserted road where your car had overturned! What do you make of that, doctor?," He said and smiled. "How do you think it’s possible for me to have known this?" Baba said, describing the physical attributes of the Africans as well as their outer garments. "You think this puny little form of mine is all there is to ME," he chided him, showing that he knew his secret thoughts! "I’m not limited to this one body, I am all bodies, and in all things". "Can you scientifically comprehend that, doctor?" he said.
"It has now been 30 years, and I have been able to comprehend a very small piece of Sai Baba!" he said.
When the Doctor had finished telling this story, pictures were taken with each person, and I had one taken as well. A few days later I received my print and stuck it in the glove compartment of my car. Thinking it was out of the way, to avoid the clutter of photos that were scattered about in my drawers.
I sighed with relief at finding a meter on the street, and started to open my car door. I opened the door and began to swing my leg out when I stopped to look over at Stephen to see if he was okay. In a split second, a speeding truck came and took the door off. The force of the impact forced open the glove compartment, and a picture flew out onto my lap. In momentary shock, not knowing what had actually happened, I could only remember hearing a terribly loud noise! I noticed the door wasn’t there and I could hear metal banging as it was being dragged away by the truck, before it came to a stop.
An indescribable feeling and thought raced thru my body and mind. My leg should have been taken off! Stephen asked me if I was alright. I said I was!
I looked down at this picture on my lap of me and Dr. Gottia!
Story 12: An Interview
It was on my second visit to see Sai Baba that I was granted a private conversation with Him. These are called interviews. Almost everyday Baba would choose a group of people to talk to in a small room. Baba chose all kinds of people from all walks of life and all different countries. You couldn’t make an appointment to speak with Him. Presidents and movie stars. He did the choosing! Everyone wanted this interview, but I was very frightened by the thought of it.
Baba usually asked people, "What do you want?" and I really didn’t know. I knew I didn’t want to be forced into a situation where I would talk like a parrot out of fear and say "I want Enlightenment! Enlightenment over good health or wealth.” I didn’t know what I wanted. That night he came to me in a dream and said "I know you're frightened, don’t be. I will show you right now everything that will take place in the interview. And I won’t ask you any questions!” He told me two people were flying in from Los Angeles, Dave and Barbara Lambert. After they had been there for a few days, he would ask our group in for a talk!
True to the dream - that’s what took place.
I held the door open to His little room and let everyone in the group go in first. It numbered around forty or so. I sat in the back of the small room, hiding myself. He sat on a chair and sang a song to us, 'Love is my Form, Truth is my name, Bliss is my food'. He called me to come sit in front of Him. Then He asked me if I would please massage His feet for Him. I began to gently massage His feet while He told stories and asked questions of certain people.
I watched as He waved His hand and a gold pen appeared. He showed it to me and asked if I liked it. I said it looked like good workmanship. He agreed. He gave it to an Indian student that sat at His left, and smacked him on the face. He ‘created’ a packet of blue pills that he threw to one of the ladies in our group. He told me she didn’t know it, but she was going to have terrible stomach pains later in the day, and we should give her these pills along with fresh mango. "After 3 days she will be alright", He told me. About ten minutes after the interview, Jenny collapsed.
He invited a small group of 6 people, not including myself, to go into another adjoining room. While the larger group waited, Baba pulled open a curtain and we sat down in a smaller room. He sat on an old chair, and this was where He usually asked people what they wanted. The group, 3 women and 3 men, sat quietly. I suddenly remembered this part in my dream that I had had with Baba. He was staring at me like an impatient schoolteacher waiting for me to say something!
I asked Baba, "May I ask you a question?" He said, "Yes, what is it?" It looked like relief flashed across the expression on His face. Like he was saying to me, "It’s about time, Phil!"
"What do You see when You see me?", I asked.
Baba looked at all the people sitting there in a state of semi-frozenness and said, "I see only Light and Love". His reply seemed to warm everyone up and I went into another state of mind, and didn’t hear anything else till we rejoined the larger group.
Baba gave me 18 packets of Vibuthi, and everyone else received handfuls of it. Everyone walked out the door but me. I stood there alone with Baba. I was just looking into His eyes and He into mine. When suddenly he said, "Yes, what is it?"
I didn’t want any material thing from Baba at that moment, I realized. I just wanted to know He was for real! "Yes," He said to me. I smiled and showed him this small silver ring of Shirdi Sai Baba that had recently broken.
Not knowing how to ask him directly if He would fix it for me, I said instead, "Baba, look at this ring, what shall I do with it?" He looked at it and delivered a punch line I never expected. "If I were you I’d keep it,” He said.
I nearly exploded in laughter, but contained myself as He walked me out the door, and I felt the warm sunlight disappear into a greater sunlight within me.