Sai Ram, Ted and Jody!
Thank you for opening up this collection of devotees' stories! You guys have the perfect platform already in place to gather these; thanks for your ongoing work for all of us, for harvesting the stories!!! Keep on keepin' on!
Here is how I met Baba, a story in three parts! Love, Carol (from Seattle)
How I Met Sai Baba:
"A Play in Three Acts”
“I LOVE, I LOVE”
Sai Baba, the Divine Director, seems to have created an ongoing theme in my life, in this “play within a Play,” since I first came to know Him. There are three special events I’d like to share in the forms of a synchronicity, an interview, and a dream. These happened over the course of the 19 years that I’ve known Him, and have changed my life.
1993 was a year of great transition in my life. I had moved to Seattle the previous year after traveling in India for 6 months, and teaching English in Japan for a year. I was welcoming a major “spring cleaning” of my life. I had become vegetarian, had ended a relationship that I’d outgrown, and was reading every spiritual book I could get my hands on. I actually asked for my life to be shaken up, so that I would never become comfortably numb. (As we all know: “Be careful what you ask for, because you might get it!”)
I was reading from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna one night, when a deep longing for a Teacher welled up from my depths. I prayed to God “through” Ramakrishna, a teacher and guide I’d come to trust: “If there is a living Teacher on earth right now who would be right for my soul’s progress, please show me! Please show me if it is true for me now, that ‘when you are ready, your Teacher will appear.’”
Not long after this deep request, I met the man who would become my future husband while camping in the Olympic mountains. As several of us relaxed in a natural hot spring, he made a declaration that pierced my heart. He said, “There is a Being walking the earth right now who is like Jesus.” He continued to talk about Sai Baba, and some of his experiences, and really became a way shower in answer to my prayer. I had heard of Sai Baba during my 6 month trip in India, but had never heard enough. I had dismissed Him as “that guru with the big hair.” But I was destined to dive much deeper to find the Pearl of great price!
I went and checked out every book from the Seattle Public Library on Baba, which then totaled four. One was Man of Miracles, and another was, Sai Baba: The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist. As I read, I was asking some of the discerning questions that should be asked about a Guide and Master. “Does he ask for money? Is he tolerant of all religions or ways to God? ” And from Ramakrishna, I had learned to ask, “Are the siddhi powers overly important, or the main focus for him?” All of these questions were satisfied in me as I read further.
But then my soul seemed to have an even deeper question. One night, I prayed fervently to the God I’d been praying to all my life, “If Sai Baba is truly that Teacher I asked You for, and the right one for me, I need a sign from inside of me that I can recognize beyond a doubt. Then I will have the strength to follow Him, and to know from a deeper place than from my mind. My heart is still having doubts, so please clear them up and show me!”
The next day, the answer came like a tidal wave. All day, this question continued to resonate within me, along with my doubts. I didn’t want to commit to anything that wasn’t of the Highest. I worked all afternoon and evening with handicapped folks in their homes, which had been my job for many years. After helping cook and clean up, the woman I was working with needed her shower. She had cerebral palsy, and was in a wheelchair, but just needed a transfer. While she showered, I flopped down on an easy chair for a rest in front of her TV, which was on.
It happened to be on an odd channel which featured the play, Hamlet.
Suddenly, it was as if I was in an altered state, as the answer to my prayer flowed out of the TV in the form of a poem being read just then, and it dropped me to my knees in tears! The poem went like this:
"Doubt thou that the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt, I love.”
It was as if to say, “You have had, and will have your doubts about Sai Baba, but never doubt that His Source is “I LOVE.”
The main reason that this poem had such an effect on me was that I’d had an experience with it many years ago, in high school English class! Our teacher was just crazy about Shakespeare, to the point that he even had a model of the Globe Theater on his desk that he raved about. He would make us read parts of plays out loud. Most of us were not exactly thrilled about this, but he tried to make the words come alive for us and make it fun.
The day came when I had to read, and it was this poem in front of me! I understood the meaning even then, not just as a star-crossed lover’s poem, but as if from God to us, telling us all that Real Love can be trusted. I was totally embarrassed to find myself with tears in front of the class as I read it. To me, it was a love poem from God. Our teacher gave me such a look of understanding, (or maybe he just thought he had finally found a student who loved Shakespeare as much as he did!)
I wrote that poem down on a page with other treasured poetry that I loved in high school, and I still have it today. So, Swami had established a solid foundation for me from the beginning, in granting my request for a “sign from inside of me that I can recognize without a doubt!” He answered my doubts with Love.
In January and February of 1994, we went to see Swami for the first time. I was sure that He was my Master now, and had become familiar with speaking to Him inside as I would pray to God. I had started reading His words. Many leelas and “synchronicities” had continued to happen, and I felt I had an “inner language” with Him in prayer.
When I first saw His Body walking in the Poornachandra Auditorium, my throat and heart started to vibrate, and sheets of bliss tears came. Now, I found the challenge to be integrating the outer and the inner experiences with Him. Here He was walking in front of me! Did He really know of all the inner language we had inside? What kind of interactions, if any, would we have? Would He show me in an “outer way” something that would correlate to what was happening inside? I had begun to have a few dreams of Him, and this added to the inner landscape.
One day inside the temple after bhajans, I lay my head on the marble floor and asked, “If it is Your will, Swami, please give me some sign, some fuel for my faith, from Your outer Form, that uses our inner language, to help me integrate the two!" On the day before we were scheduled to leave, we got an interview. This happened, as is so common, after many hammer chisels to our parts that needed chipping away, so there were layers upon layers of lessons from Swami in the interview which kept unfolding long afterwards. But the most precious gem for me was a single sentence that He said.
Swami had created vibhuti for the ladies, and had manifested several rings at close range, one of which was created for a member of a group of Italian ladies sitting next to me. He had also given one of the members an orange robe. Suddenly, He was standing right in front of me, between me and the Italian sister on my left. She longingly, painfully looked up at Him and voiced something that has probably come from the depths of all our hearts at some time, in some life on our sojourn here:
“Swami, I love You…But You don’t love me!!!”
Swami’s eyes twinkled as He shot a quick look down at me before He turned His attention onto her, and said in the most tender voice imaginable:
“I Love; I Love.”
Not, “I love you,” but Love without an object, for Love’s sake.
“No reason for Love, no season for Love…”
The Highest Love, simply declaring Itself.
I was washed with bliss and gratitude, and felt as if I was floating on an inner buoyancy as I remembered immediately the line from our inner-language poem, “Never doubt; I Love.”
The third act in this play came 16 years later in the form of a Swami dream, which seemed like one of those dreams meant for all of us, since it was about Him bringing in the Golden Age. Out of all the Swami dreams I’ve been blessed to have, it is probably the strongest experience so far. It came after a year of extremely hard “chiseling,” and another big transformation time in this life. I started giving a title to all the dreams that come, and the name of this one is, (of course,) “I Love, I Love.”
Saturday night staying at my friend’s house, I woke in the early hours weeping with joy, still in the very presence of Sai, in one of the strongest dream/visions from Him so far. It felt as real as being awake, but really awake.
I was sitting for darshan in Prashanthi Nilayam, when my whole consciousness became filled with the palpable feeling of Swami about to come. It was like a blanket over the crowd. I could feel His presence about to appear behind me, through the main gate instead of the usual side gate. I turned around to see the Lord of the Universe coming in overwhelming, shining glory! I saw that He was wearing an outfit like a Native American Elder. It looked like the outline of a tunic and pants, but it was shining brightly with an incomprehensible golden color.
There was a large sun on His left breast, which was shining brighter than the real sun! He was the sun, but somehow we could still see Him through the blast of His coming. There was also depicted a full, ripe sheath of grain (wheat) coming up His right side. The sun was where His heart is. The overwhelming symbolism was: Harvest, Completion, Fullness, Ripeness! We were the wheat!
He was moving in an overwhelmingly, achingly charming and lovely way, like a fluid Native Heyoka dancer. Or like Krishna, with a subtle and smooth floating dance, twisting in and out of Creation. I was blasted with Love and the utter beauty of Him.
As He came around, He quickly glided to my section. There was a very bold woman who was at my left who suddenly got up and started to walk to Him with her letter. She was very sweet-natured, but also very single-minded in her purpose to reach Him. I was gently patting her leg, trying to let her know this wasn’t usually allowed. But like the village man who I once saw run full-out with hands above head in Namaste to reach Swami, then get tackled to the ground only to have Swami invite him up to lay his head on the Feet…so was this woman. (Symbolism=she is the aspect of me who is abandoning all to God, and who must be bold to reach Swami at all costs. The part who knows how to be bold!)
To my delight and surprise, He magnetized to her quickly and took her letter! It was all happening very fast then, as suddenly He was in front of me extending His Right Hand to me.
I immediately held onto His Hand and put my forehead on it, and was immersed in Him. I heard myself chanting “I love; I love, I love…” and it simultaneously echoed from Him, in His voice, until the voices melded and we were one Voice saying it over and over and over and over, infinitely. It was the music of the spheres. He was saying it through “me!” The intensity of it was like a continual electric shock, like a tidal wave of “I love,” as the mouth of my body continued to chant it, and “I” floated in it.
Then, Swami said in my left ear very clearly,
“HOLD YOUR BREATH!”
At this point I was waking up, but there was no difference between this and the dream/vision, as Swami was still present there for a few minutes. I held my breath in my physical body, and felt my heart pounding, also saying, “I love, I love!” to the beat. I started to cry and say it out loud, holding my hands up in the early morning half darkness to Swami.
I immediately “decoded” the meaning of Swami telling me to hold my breath. He showed me it was the opposite of the phrase that implies one should be skeptical, and not hope or trust in something: “Don’t hold your breath on that one!” It implies the thing would take too long or may never come at all, so don’t wait with expectation.
Swami, in His typical poetic, enigmatic and symbolically precise way was telling me, “It’s coming, so hold your breath!”
“The new Golden Age is coming, the Bright Sun, the Full Harvest. Go ahead and hold your breath!! I’ve showed you that I am bringing it as I’ve promised. It is ‘I love!’ You are ‘I love!’”