HOW SAI BABA CAME INTO MY LIFE
I reflect back on the series of events that brought me to Baba. It is so important for me to remember how this wonderful life came to be. Indra Devi brought many to His Feet and although I never met her I am indebted to her for bringing Baba into my grandmother’s lives and mine. I was a teenager lost in a family that was destructing before me. My Grandmother Mildred had always been a seeker especially in her own dark days that eventually brought her to Indra Devi—speaking to her about a “God-man” alive and living in India. This peaked my grandmother’s curiosity and she was off on trip accompanied by India Supera and others. Her life was transformed as she entered the last decade of her life.
She was granted an interview in the winter of 1981 while staying in Prashanthi Nilayam that was so revealing she returned to the States with a whole new perspective.
My grandmother and I had always been close. She told me the stories of her trip to Swami and I too sought His guidance in my limited way. In 1982 after my freshman year in High School we took a trip to some Sai devotees in the San Francisco area. We went to the Sai Center and I bought a book, The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist by Dr. Samuel Sandweiss. I sat in on bhajans in the back of the room and cried. Not tears of joy but pain and sadness at my crumbling family and sense of being very lost. That book became my guidepost and guiding light for many years as I sought the peace and comfort it offered. During my teenage years I often wrote to the address of Swami’s nestled in a photo of a calling card in that book. Except for my grandmother, I knew of no one who knew Sai Baba. I did not discuss these things with anyone except her. I kept Him in my heart even when I veered off the path.
In the mid 1990’s I was at crossroads in my life and again reached for the writing tablet to send Swami a request for His guidance and to give me a “sign” or something to acknowledge my desire for peace. When a person takes a step toward Swami, he takes a thousand toward the seeker. In a quiet meditation one spring day in my apartment I became aware of the scent of vibhutti in my room. At the time I was caught up in addiction to alcohol and other substances, my father had become ill with Alzheimer’s disease. I was rudderless and despairing. One evening Swami came into my dream. He was in a white dress sitting comfortably in a chair. I peered into the room where he sat and I asked Him, “are you God?” – a question I didn’t know I wanted to ask. I could see the veins in his hands and gentle folds of His clothes. Absolutely real. In the sweetest fashion, almost childlike He smiled at me then bathed me in white light. The “dream” ended.
I wrote Him another letter basically stating “what next? I know no one who knows you, help me connect”
I had started a new job and began going back to school to prepare for graduate school. That job was a city bus driver in Minneapolis, my hometown. The first day I entered the driver’s room and it was filled to capacity with only a spot at a distant table. I sat down and the bus driver next to was reading a book on Sai Baba!! I was aghast! “You know Sai Baba?” I asked. The man lit up with the most wonderful smile, “you know who Sai Baba is, too?” Evan and I became fast friends and thus I was introduced to the wider community of Satya Sai Baba. I began more meditating and seeking. I got sober. Some time after that during another meditation I was gifted with a spontaneous gift of kundalini—thus an awakening of unimaginable growth began in me.
In 1999, through another series of events in Swami’s plan for me I embarked on my first trip to India to see this Avatar who so clearly had been guiding my life. I was finishing my Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and was granted permission to do Seva at the Super Specialty Hospital in Puttaparthi.
Upon laying eyes upon His form for the first time I was overcome with deep, deep gratitude and thanks. For five weeks I worked 5 days a week in the Cardiac Ward as a physical therapist. I did not know at that time I was the first US person to work in the hospital as a PT. I was showered with His Grace in more ways that I can possibly explain adequately. Baba came to the hospital one day. I was in my surgical scrubs when the director, Dr. Safaya introduced me face to face with Bhagawan. He took my hands into His hands and stated “very happy, very happy.” The Blessing of a lifetime!! One of my patients had been a longtime devotee and physician the General Hospital near the ashram. I told her of Swamis blessing of my hands and she began to weep with joy.
I asked her why she weeps so deeply for me. She then told me this incredible story from when she was a new doctor at the ashram. Up until this point in her life she had never been ill. Several decades ago, Swami spoke to her and told her she was to achieve moksha in this lifetime, and if she were ever to take ill He would be there for her and whoever cares for her and heals her will achieve a lifetime of Swami’s blessings. I too began to weep in absolute gratitude to Baba.
I have returned twice more to his Abode to serve in His hospital. Each time, being showered with His Magnificent Grace. There were difficult times there too. My shortcomings and ego bubbling to the surface get worked out in His Presence. But what am I if I am not working through the karma? The trips “recharged” me to face the life back home.
So many wonderful darshans, but one in particular healed some of my deep emotional pain. I had a wonderful roommate in the ashram and one evening I cried to her because I felt so much shame. I was never good enough it seemed. My childhood was filled with abuse and I told her that I knew I was good girl growing up. Despite it all I was a good girl. That was exact language that I used. The ache was so deep and wounding all I could do was cry. The next day, I was in the very front row in the hospital section in the darshan hall. The hall was very full after Sports Day. Baba floated right in front of me and began speaking to me about the patients I had been seeing. One in particular, he wanted to know how he was doing and I told him. I looked to Swami and gave the most heartfelt “thanks” that I could. He twirled his beautiful hand and gestured for me to put out my hands. His gentle fingers touched my hand as vibhutti poured from them. It went all over and the ladies gave me something to put in it. I was caught up in sweeping the sacred ash when the lady to my left nudged me, “he is still there in front of you!” I looked up and he looked deep in me smiling and said “yes, good girl, good girl.” The wound was healed. My friend caught up with me later that evening and recounted her observations from that Darshan. “Sarah, there was beam of light right into you from Him filled with the love of a thousand mothers” She told me she wept as he gave me this special public “interview.”
I will remember Swami shifting the core of my being. He has since given me more vibhutti and it stays with me when I need special strength. As long as I remember this Darshan, I will be free. I am so grateful.