Aleli: I don’t really think that my children have any kind of transformation may be in just their habits but the inherent nature of all beings is good.
Michael: And the children are very much involved in the running of the school. So they all are.... they take turns being leader for the day.
Aleli: Where is home? And I say home is where you feel happy, wherever that is whether here in India, in the USA. I am always happy because I know home is in the heart.
Michael: Before coming to Puttaparthi Swami came in the dream and said to me you can quit your job now if you wish and I said - Oh what I do about money then? Swami said - Money, what are you worried about money for? I am taking care of everything.
Ted: What about on a bad day when you wake up with a head ache and it is grey outside and the children are cranky, and things are not going well, you have bills to pay then you don’t have money to pay it what would then?
Aleli: Actually when somebody asked me the question so Aleli - How are you doing? Then I would always say you know even if the whole world is stumbling down I always say pretty good. Because I know everything will be just fine.
Children of Coorg :
śrī gurubhyo namaḥ | hariḥ oṃ || oṃ gaṇānā”m tvā gaṇapa’tigṃ havāmahe kaviṃ ka’vīnām upamaśra’vastavam | jyeṣṭharājaṃ brahma’ṇāṃ brahmaṇaspata ā na’ḥ śṛṇvannūtibhi’ssīda sāda’nam || praṇo’ devī sara’svatī | vāje’bhir vājinīvatī | dhīnāma’vitrya’vatu || gaṇeśāya’ namaḥ | sarasvatyai namaḥ |
INTRODUCTION BY TED
It is called the Children’s Project, thirty plus children who used to live in the midst of street robbery, poverty and broken lives in Southern India who were now cared for housed, loved and educated in a formal safe zone of Coorg, India. Their story was first brought to light in the book - Begging for Change, the story of children begging on streets or who were picking garbage. With the blessings of holy man Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Michael Galligan and Aleli Warren-Brown have chosen to live one of Sai Baba’s most famous teachings – Love all, Serve all.
Welcome to Souljourns, this story of how the Children’s Project came into being was recorded in Puttaparthi, India in January 2010.
Michael: How I came to Swami is actually a very long and to me wondrous and beautiful story. It’s started when I was quite small and my sister and I used to experience this old man who would appeared to us at different times. Especially when we had guests in our house, if we had thanksgiving dinner or something like that my sister and I would sit at another table and at this other table an old man with a white beard and white hair would come and sit there. And he would have a little brown paper bag we would never speak but he would just smile, this beautiful smile and we felt that we knew him and we didn’t feel that he was a stranger at all. We felt that he was someone in our family and he just have this beautiful radiance, beautiful smiles, beautiful warmth he takes things out of this brown paper bag and give it to my sister and I, we would put in the little corner of our little children’s table. There would be little toys or little piece of candy or whatever they were and this would happen regularly and frequently. And we would have different experiences of this type, and when we would tell our father about it and mother about it and they never said it wasn’t real or anything like that to discourage us. We didn’t feel discouraged about it. It seemed to be a normal event and a normal occurrence. It would go on that I would have dreams with this man where various situations would happening and sometimes he would turn into a lion and I would ride with him and you know we would have this beautiful experiences and lot of them I saw in retrospect were a kind of a spiritual tests and understandings to help prepare the mind to transcend normal connections and you know some of the dreams that I dont know if need to be included in the, in the interview or not. But some of the dreams have to do with basically the annihilation of the ego entirely and any sense of one individual person or self and circumstances would occur where he would be standing by my side and these things would unfold and I would be faced with this immensity without a personal awareness whatsoever and it first was quite frightening but then it became quite relatable. I can relate to that. So there were lot of these experiences and then we just basically forgot about it. And they seem to had a stop after a period of time and when I was around 17 or so my sister and I were sitting on the couch and watching television and all of a sudden I remembered this old man who used to come to us and I was thinking about him and my sister turns to me and she said – Michael, who was that old man who used to come and visit us when we were little? So we both had the exact same thought in our head at the same time but we hadn’t said anything to each other. And later on through the years I came to realise that it was Shirdi Sai Baba. So there was a.... you know a connection there which drew me to Swami you know at a young age in this lifetime.
Ted: Even though you couldn’t identify it.
Michael: No. I couldn’t identify it we just knew that this was just something beautiful and later when my father actually came to visit Puttaparthi, and he is not a Sai Baba devotee per se but he absolutely respects Swami and he is very happy with my life and what I am doing when he came to visit here and he said to me – You know when you were little and you told me about that old man I actually believed you. He said – I couldn’t really say that I believed you but I did believe you because the way that you and your sisters spoke about it, it was so real that I knew you were telling the truth and it wasn’t a make believe story that you have. So there was this very real connection from a young age. As for myself..... well, what leads us to Swami I think it is the combination of Swami, Swami’s Leelas, Swami’s miracles in our lives that we don’t know finally He reveals Himself as that hidden hand that motivates our pathways towards understanding and then we see Him as the light, as the beacon, that has absolutely been at one and been that force that is being guiding us.
Ted: Ok, but you are little bit ahead of the game. Michael: Ok. Ted: Because you with good number of years before you even became aware Michael: True Ted: Of the form, name or love of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. So how did that happen?
Michael: Ok. Well I always had certain tendencies which were shaped by Swami. In about fourth grade or so they ask everybody - What do you want to be when you grow up. I closed my eyes and I saw myself in an orange robe with long hair and long beard sitting by the bank of this beautiful river with white mountains in the distance with snow on them and pine trees above me and I am writing in this giant book while sitting on this deer skin the secrets of the universe and I said you know this is what I want to be. I want to be, I want to know the secrets of the universe and be at one with the universe. You know and then I said this is the modern day age and I have to live in the world so may be I should be a doctor or a lawyer for six months and I should be I should go into the forest and be at one with the universe for the next six months. You know this way I will have balance between the two. So I always had these feelings and these thoughts and you know making money and wealth and status and all of the normal sorts of things just didn’t hold any attraction for me whatsoever. And you know it, it.... I mean to be honest in its entirety which some of these things I don’t I never shared with the public but I used to bend down to take lettuce out of the refrigerator and I would just stand there for five minutes or I don’t know how long because I would think about eternity and I would get this feeling and picture and understanding of what eternity was, no beginning and no end. And then just you know the consciousness of what I was doing there in the moment will just leave me and so this would go on more and more. And it would just call me and pull me and I could see the beauty of light and I could see the beauty of love and I felt that God was Love, God was light, I wanted to be at one with this light, be at one with this love and I wanted to understand the secrets of life and creation and I felt that, that is what was the right thing to do and I felt that was the correct path. So I was... I wanted to do that, and then I didn’t see that echoed anywhere in the world around me. You know I used to have beautiful experiences where I would sit on my front porch and just... You know I hesitate to say it for the interview but I would just hear the sound of AUM coming from everything I would just enjoy myself and I enjoy that and feel at one with the everything. When I was 14, I stopped eating meat because I just felt that if the animal wanted to live, which every animal would run away if you wanted to do some harm to it why should I disrespect it. It had just as much of say so and things as I did so that was a kind of natural occurrence and I just kept growing more and more in this direction and then when high school was over with I found myself on a journey and found myself near a kind of a beautiful river and some mountains near Arizona and I just found a cave there and I just decided that I should live here. And I had gone with some friends and I gave them my possessions and whatever money I had I said – Take this back to my parents and tell them I am happy and tell them everything is great and I am just going to live here for.... I don’t know how long. And it was like a gift to me that was something so wonderful but I could just meditate on light and on love and what I thought God to be, uninterrupted by any chores of the world or distractions of any kind. So I enjoyed that immensely. I drank the water from the river and I ate whatever little leaves and plants were growing around there and just . . .
Ted: Did you know which ones would sustain you and which ones wouldn’t?
Michael: I did. I had. I met somebody else there, who showed me certain plants which you really eaten basically water cress, prickly pear cactuses and few other little herbs so there wasn’t much to eat it all, there was an apple tree not so far away but you know it will only give apples.
Michael: For a very limited period of time and there were some nice experiences where sometimes a hicker would be walking through the forest and they would just happen to come across me and I they were wondering about what to do in their life and what you know they were a kind of looking for God or looking for something and so I was able to help them. And they would share some food with me or something and so I would just you know everything was beautiful I got to see a lot of wonderful, wonderful realities that have very much to do with us as human beings and the divinity within ourselves and the manifestation of the universal will and the absolute importance and authority of divine love over all of creation and this was the reality which I wanted to discover and I wanted to see.
Ted: And you stayed there for how long? Michael: About six months. Ted: I remember hearing you say that you were healthy except for one occasion?
Michael: Yes. The occasion when I wasn’t healthy was that another person had come out there and he was a kind of strange person and he had some very strange energy and he actually . . . I felt slightly disturbed from the contact with this person. And I drank the river water but before doing usually before I would drink the river water I would always see it as God and I would be at one with God and the water and within myself and I would drink. This day I didn’t do that because I felt little bit disturbed so I was slightly off and I drank the river water and I woke up that night and I was very, very ill from drinking the river water that night. And it took quite a while for that to go away.
Ted: So what do you attribute that to, at its core? Michael: At its core? Ted: Yeah.
Michael: I think that probably I had a little bit of confusion that arose in me because of my contact with this person he was basically trying to.... harm me in some various ways. And so and then also a kind of psychologically he was saying some different things and so on I think a kind of was pondering over that and seeing if there is any validity to it whatsoever. In that process of pondering over it, I think I you know internalised it a bit and so therefore I just was a little bit out of step with that intunement with the universe and I think therefore it allowed or if I just one time I cut my foot very deeply and I said – Oh, the earth itself will heal it. You know and I just walked around and let dirt get inside of it and of course I did, there was no infection, there was no problem, so it all depends on what you believe and think. And this is another story which may be we should take out of the, take out of the interview but I leave it to your discretion.
Ted: Ok. Michael: When you see the thing in its entirety. Ted: My intuition says we will include it. We will include it.
Michael: Ok. Well this is you know I don’t want people to think anything great about myself that is not why I tell this story or anything but it’s commonality for all of us which we, I think failed to realise because we don’t have
faith in our self, in God within ourselves, and in God within all of life. If we have that faith, that faith is very genuine if it’s balanced with love and openness. One man came to the forest there we happen to meet and he was telling me how he always did everything for everybody but he never got anything in return. People always disrespected him, they took his money, they did this thing and did this and I saw that he did whatever he did with expectations that a picture would evolve out of it that looked at certain way. He had expectations behind his giving. And I was letting him know that he could give without any expectations whatsoever and that life would give to him whatever he required. And he didn’t have to worry or attach any certain values to different things. And I was saying to him if you were hungry, the whole universe is here to take care of you. If you were hungry and you were truly hungry and you really needed something to eat you could ask God who is in this river to provide a fish to you and it would jump out of the river into your hands and you could eat it. And that very moment a fish came up to the top of the water and this was a very clean river and I never seen this happen before. It came up to the top of the water it turned on its side and it started just vibrating like this. And He reached right down and took the fish out of the water and he cooked it and ate it for dinner. I had no idea that, that would happen. I didn’t make that happen. But it is just was there to show the harmony between the life and the individual being and the sense of safety, the sense of strength and love and faith that exist within all of us whether we make use of it or not is another matter. So...
Ted: But the primary to that happening I think is your own state of mind..... Michael: Your own state of mind. Ted: And faith. Michael: Your own faith.
Michael: Yes. This is not necessarily for the interview but we were, we were in the room the other night over there and I said to somebody I miss our dogs. And I said I miss their rough playful energy. You know. And the next second one small girl, our smallest girl comes from the other room and she hadn’t heard me and she doesn’t know enough English, you know what I meant anyway and she brings me the leg of her bear and she brings it to me and she says throw it, so I throw it and she runs after it just like one of the dogs and brings it back to me and however many times I will throw it she will run it and she will catch it and bring it back and she had the same enthusiasm you know so the whole universe can forms to whatever your wish is.
Michael: In every moment when you are happy basically. That is why Swami tells us - Be happy. Why not? Why shouldn’t we be happy?
Ted: All these points are wonderful. But let us go back inside the forest. Michael: Swami? Ted: Back inside the forest. Michael: Ok back inside the forest.
Ted: Before you seen His form or heard His name.
Michael: Hmmm. Well, I was meditating on Light and on Love. And I was doing whatever I could within myself to increase light, and increase love and increase my ability to be a server or embodiment or helper of this love, of this light. So that I could further the divine courses of life in whichever way I was meant to. So this was basically the practice that I would do. So I was practicing Love all, Serve all. Not having heard of what Swami said. And I was practicing – Start the day with God, Spend the day with God or Love, this is the way to God. I was practicing that already I believed in that. And that is what I let trying to make my every breath become. So whatever was in my mind that was contrary to that, whatever was in my being that was contrary to that I would do my best to move beyond that, to let that go to transform that and let light and love take its place.
Ted: Very quickly while you are doing all these practices predicated on the religion you were born into. Michael: No. Ted: Ok.
Michael: Actually I wasn’t really born into any religion. One time when I was young I asked my father – What religion are we? And he said – Well, I guess you could say that we are Christians and that just means basically that we have faith in God. I said – Ok, that is fine with me. But we didn’t go to church but my parents loved me very much. And I felt that love, through that love I felt the divine presence, I felt protection, I felt warmth, I felt unfoldment so I didn’t need to really identify it with any thing. One time when I was young and I prayed to Jesus for snow so that Santa Claus to land his sleigh and it snowed and I was happy but I felt that Jesus was not a form I felt that Jesus was . . . somehow I felt that, I felt the spirituality that was there.
Ted: So you had a pretty clean slate of zero ideology from which you could grow your own spiritual . . .
Michael: Yes. Well I remember once Sunday morning being about five or six years old. On Sunday morning they don’t play cartoons they just play the church .
Ted: Church Programs
Michael: Programs. And they were saying unless you accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour you are going to burn for all eternity in a lake of everlasting fire. And I remember this so clearly from 5 or 6 years old they showed I remember those words they showed on screen fire burning inside of a wood burning stove and I said and I thought
- Can that really happen? I thought about God for a second and then I said – Nah and then went back and played with my toys again but for one moment I said – Could God really do that to people? Could that really happen? All eternity there is and I just fortunately I knew that, that couldn’t happen. So, yes I had a clean slate with no ideologies and I couldn’t relate ideologies about God.
Michael: It always seems bigger than that. You know. So I was in the forest, and in my meditations on the river bank I heard this or had this inner knowing, that said - Very soon a physical teacher is going to come to you, who will guide you and take you to the highest level. And I said – ok. That was it. I didn’t think about it again. I didn’t carry on with that. I had seen pictures of saints and sages and I never felt attracted to any of them. I respected them deeply but I didn’t feel akin with them and I wasn’t looking for a master or for a spiritual teacher I thought that God was light, light was inside of myself. It would grow into its own understanding so that I was quite satisfied with that because I knew nothing else anyways. And I before going to the cave I used to go down to a church near to us there is a beautiful statue of Jesus and I used to touch Jesus’ feet. You know that was my, that was my what I would do. And I would just put my head on Jesus’ feet and just keep them there and just feel this beautiful love you know and I love that but I didn’t see Jesus as the church Jesus I saw Jesus as an embodiment of Divinity.
Ted: Yeah. Michael: And it was just very beautiful for me. Ted: Sounds like you saw him the correct way
Michael: It felt good to me. That is for sure. So, there was a very old American Indian medicine woman who was out in the woods one day, we met, we talked. She invited me to come back to her home for dinner. So I did.
Ted: How do you find her in the woods? Michael: Ahh....She just was there. She was doing something out she lived in this area somewhere. Ted: And you have been seeing her from time to time.
Michael: No. I had. I had actually I had met her before. But meeting her again was just a kind of a coincidence. She invited me to come back to her house and there she had all kinds of pictures of saints and sages and medicine men and women and so on and so forth. And she had one small picture of Swami, it was a bookmark actually and He had a flower in His hand and He was coming out of His car and immediately I went up to it and I said – You know I just looked at it because it felt like love to me.
I felt like a real love and when I saw the pictures of other saints and so on and so forth I didn’t feel that the feeling of love. And I turned the picture over and it says – Start the day with love, spend the day with love, end the day with love, this is the way to God. Love all, serve all. Help ever, hurt never. And these were the same things which I was living by and when I saw that I just felt so happy and I just felt this beautiful presence all of a sudden. And I asked who he was. And she told me about Him and that He speaks every language on the earth and that the story of the wish fulfilling tree that He can take any fruit from the tree and all these things. It wasn’t the miracles that impressed me but the fact that He was talking about love and helping ever and hurting never and loving all and serving all. And that He could do these miracles showed me that here is a person I couldn’t say this is an Avatar I had no idea what an Avatar was, I couldn’t say this is an Avatar, this is an incarnation of God. My mind wasn’t that far advanced to it so to look at it in those terms. But I thought here is a person who knows the secrets of the universe and He is talking about love, this is an embodiment of truth. This is an embodiment of love. And He can do all the things which science and the modern world place value upon. And that was if I had any dilemma no it wasn’t much of a dilemma at all. But it was ok, here I am, in this very materialistic world in the USA all I believed in is love and God. And I can live here in the cave fine, when I go back into the world which I know I am going to do. I am hoping to share love and light with people and so on but everybody is trying to tell me what you are going to do for money. How you are going to make it? It didn’t.... There was no support to follow the path of God-realisation. There was no encouragement from anywhere that I had seen. So seeing Swami, and seeing His total encouragement of the path of love, of living in love of spending the whole day in love, this was a great encouragement to me. I felt here is someone who really knows what they are saying, and really knows what they are doing. The highest authority I took Him to be the highest authority without classifying Him as anything He became the highest authority to me on life and living, because obviously He knew all the secrets of creation and He is talking about love and light and so on. So to me that was all I needed to know. And as I went back to my cave over the hills that evening I was just singing, just singing I was so happy because something had been triggered. I couldn’t tell you what, I couldn’t .... in retrospect I try to describe it but all I can say is that I was exhilarated, I was exuberant, I was full of life and I felt that this is just a great energy you know somehow I felt that I would be able to fulfil what I was meant to fulfil.
Ted: Did she tell you that He was alive.... Michael: Yes. Ted: And how to reach Him
Michael: Yes, not necessarily how to reach Him that He was living in India but going to India physically at that time I was 18 years old seemed like impossible you know what I meant to say I didn’t even think I would ever be in India such a strange land so far away you know I always did feel the connection with India I remember being young and seeing on TV one second a picture of...... I think it was Chaitainya in his love for Krishna, he was seeing Krishna in everything, for one second I saw that then I just burst out in tears and I was trembling it seemed more valuable and more beautiful than anything I had ever experienced or seen. So I didn’t know how to reach Him but it didn’t seem important just knowing that He was there that He was alive, that in spirit that seemed to be the most important thing to me. Now, I didn’t make the connection that this was the physical teacher who is going to be appearing in my life. It didn’t come to me. But what I found happening was that I started thinking about Sai Baba more and more and more until all day and all night, I started holding every thing up to this form and thought in feeling and energy of Sai Baba. Before it was light and love and I would hold up thoughts and actions and everything against this light and love but against conscience to see if it fit the truth or if it was something that wasn’t required anymore. And if it was not required anymore, I would endeavour to allow a new perspective to take its place. Now I would hold everything up to Sai Baba. I found myself wondering about Sai Baba, all kinds of details about Sai Baba. And at one point I kind of rubbed myself on the head and said – Michael what’s wrong with you? You are not able to think of anything else other than Sai Baba. And I didn’t have any linkage to Sai Baba in terms of a book or people or anything but I couldn’t stop thinking of Sai Baba. And so later on I realised that I wasn’t thinking of Him but He was thinking of me. And so He just entered my life in that way in the form of Sai Baba. And that led to just a marvellous, wonderful journey and growth of love and oneness and that I could tell a thousands stories from.
Ted: All the way to the point where we are going to focus a little bit on one story and then may be one day on the other 999 stories. But here you are now living, what appears to be the rest of your life in India, you have taken on a partner and a loving woman, and Sai Devotee Aleli who shares your interest. And you have taken on in addition to Aleli and she is taken you on, goodness knows how many children under your wings. The children of Coorg is how I referr to them, there is probably a better way to refer to. Why don’t you tell us about that?
Michael: Well. I mean as we are all Swamis’ children they’re Swami’s children.
Michael: And how that started in this miraculous interaction with Sai our own true self, Swami gives us all guidance in various ways from dreams to interviews to all sorts of things to our innermost conscience. He guides our growth, our evolution, our every step, our unfoldment, our ability to enjoy creation and enjoy the divinity within ourselves and with every other being. And part of this process outwardly has been this moving to India and being with the children and being with Swami and it is a very long story. It is to how that evolved but some of the basic things before Aleli and I moved here ten years ago or so that Swami gave me a series of dreams and they had to do with the children. And we were on a dusty lot somewhere here in India and they were all these children in torn clothes and they you can see that they really didn’t have anything and they had one ball and they were just playing with this ball in the dirt and Swami and I was standing there looking at the children and Swami asked me – What do you think? Then I said – Oh, ok Swami. Swami said – Ok good. And that was it. Then you know that was the end of the dream. And there were many other little dreams like this. And I said to Aleli – Before we moved to India. And I said - How would you feel if we ended up running a school when we were there in India. And she said whatever Swami wants us to do us what we do. You know of course that is what we will do. And Swami inspired and encouraged things in so many ways I can’t say. And the way that the children eventually came was that we were living here in Puttaparthi before coming to Puttaparthi Swami came in the dream and said to me – You can quit your job now if you wish. And I said – Oh what I do about money then? Swami said – Money, what are you worried about money for? I am taking care of everything. So.... And then He came in the next dream after I had left my job and He said – You know, He said – That job almost killed you. And it was a very good job it was just serving elderly people all the time but I used to work for 140 hours per week and I would use that as the Sadhana.
Ted: That is a little steep?
Michael: Yeah. You know but I would use that as a Sadhana ..... Anytime I would find myself getting frustrated or tired or this or that I would apologise to Swami and I say – I am sorry Swami you know I need to give you more love and more beauty. I shouldn’t allow myself to become frustrated or these kinds of things so I would use it as Sadhana. And that is how I used my, my interaction in the world for the four five years between the cave or actually the six years or so between the cave and actually coming to live with Swami. I used it to work and I would always work a lot of over time hours because I had no interest in going out into the world this and that so I would work and I would meditate. You know I would go to music school and you know I try to balance these things. So, then Swami came in the dream and He said – You have been around these people long enough you belong to me, you are mine, you come and live with me. And He grabbed me by the belt and Aleli also and pulled this here to His Ashram and set us down here and blessed us and that was the end of that dream. So, ok that is the order.
Ted: So what you needed were a couple of dozen kids?
Michael: Yeah. We didn’t have the kids yet. You know so we came and moved to India, everything was very beautiful Swami’s arms just opened up to Him and embraced that, that change I loved it. I enjoyed it fully. You know from the first time I ever came to visit Swami in India I felt like I was at home. I know lot of people expressed that when I saw the chaos when I got picked up at the airport from a friend and we were driving on the oncoming lane and the cars were going on all over the place and all the colours I just for the first few seconds I was little afraid but then I said – Oh this is wonderful. You know look at this you know. So. Just that reinvigorated me so much you know it was so beautiful. What to tell about you know the first meetings with Swami, first interactions with Swami, the magic of that. Swami’s beauty that He showed me, the way he transformed Himself right in front of my eyes to this dark blue figure with glistening eyes and this most bewitching smile and just I was dumbstruck I couldn’t speak, you know He came up to me and did everything that I wanted to do to Him, He did it to me. I wanted to wave to Him, and I wanted to say hello, this and that He walked up to me and I was just I couldn’t speak at all. And so He waved me and said to me hello, this and that you know everything that I wanted to say. You know. I mean so many beautiful stories there is no end to them. But how we came to be involved with the children? When you feel Swami’s love like you spoke about earlier, His classmates, the miracles were wonderful but His beautiful teachings and His presence of love when you feel that you can’t help but transform. People come here who want to ridicule Him or want to disprove Him and it seems that they always leave transformed. You know you can’t feel that love, you can’t feel that presence without opening your heart, without embracing God. You want to embrace Swami and you do but in order to embrace Swami you have to embrace yourself. And you have to embrace that self everywhere which is where Swami is. Swami wants us to love Him everywhere. Love our self everywhere. See Him everywhere. See ourselves everywhere. So when you do that you can’t help it Swami makes that happen. He makes it happen in subtle ways that you are not aware of and then He makes it happen in very dramatic ways. So it might be through an interaction with Him or through a blessing that He gives you physically or it might be through any variety of things but the point is – It’s Him that does everything. It’s Him that transforms us. He says you may think that you are sitting down and you are meditating on me but I am sitting down and meditating upon myself. And I had a beautiful dream with Swami once where I asked Him – Swami, are we God in the same way that you are God? And then He said to me – I place limitations and restrictions upon myself in order to have the experiences I wish to have when those experiences are finished I remove the limitations and restrictions from myself and become myself fully again. And I understood that those limitations and restrictions were all of these names, and all of these forms and all of these minds. So without them there would be no experience there will be no play and so the ultimate doer of all things is, the one being, who we all are and it takes the name from all of us to see Him Sathya Sai and He wants us to lead us to that realisation of divinity within ourselves and within all things. So the actual details of how the children came were that.
Ted: Let us just review those for a moment let us go to sort of our list to check off let us say and I prod you along too because I would like to try again recorded in addition to these stellar stories, as many facts as possible. So this is now 2010 and when did you first actually reach out and say we are going to hit the dirt running and start to change the life of somebody.
Michael: Well, I think the dirt came and hit us actually. So, which is I think the correct way that it should be or for us at least it is the correct way for it to go.
Ted: And the very first thing I want to ask you is you referred to it before as a school, I referred to it before as that coorg project and yet sort of has the trimmings if you look at it also as an orphanage. Is it not that?
Michael: Swami gave us a name which translates as – The Compassionate Home For The Upliftment of Society.
Ted: Swami gave it to you?
Michael: Yes. So that is what it is. It is - The Compassionate Home For The Upliftment of Society. And that means we deal with all kinds of things - from women who are destitute under a variety of circumstances, to if we can help men also that have lost their way, children just a few weeks ago I had a dream with Swami and He said – I want you to open the next school in the direct centre of India. And He told me the name of the town.
Ted: What did you mean by the direct centre of right in the geographical centre? Michael: Geographical centre I took it to mean the geographical centre of India. Ted: Ok. Michael: So although we might take it to mean Puttaparthi or it might take it to mean anywhere. Ted: Yeah.
Michael: You know. And then He told me the name of the town and it sound like a town that I was familiar within Florida. So I woke up about 3:30 4 o’clock in the morning I went to my map on the wall and I looked in the geographical centre of India and I couldn’t see anything there that reminded me of that, so I went into meditation and I was done with meditation I forgot the name that Swami had told me which is just perfect. Then when I find myself one day that I would say - Oh yeah look this is the name of the town and its very similar to that town in Florida. You know and we will see this Swami is the doer of all things. So otherwise I would have too much pressure I'd feel like I have to go there now and start finding out things which we have lot more work to do to here for us.
So back to your question how did we decide to hit the ground and start helping, serving people? I was always waiting for Swami’s divine direction as to what to do. As.... my early twenty’s I made my first visit here to Swami and my only wish that I had for Swami really so I wanted He to tell me what He wanted me to do. I already knew I was His and He was mine. I knew that we were one. And I just wanted to make Him happy. My only goal was to serve Him. So I wanted Him to tell me what He wanted me to do with that would make Him happy. That is what I thought in my mind. And I had chances to ask Him but the question never came to me. Many times we were there together and Darshan I could speak with Him and I didn’t ask Him that question. Later on I had a beautiful dream with Swami and He told me some very beautiful things which we should probably take out of the interview but I will tell you because it fits the context of the story. He said to me we were crossing a bridge across an ocean and it was . . . reminded me of the bridge to Lanka and we were arm in arm and Swami just said to me – This is your last life, you merge in Me fully in this life. And I said to Swami – What should I do Swami? It didn’t seem to mean anything to me. I didn’t feel any sense of relief, or a sense of joy I just said what should I do Swami? And Swami said – Do what you like to do, do what you love to do, do what you enjoy and I said - What’s that Swami? And Swami put His hand on His chin and He rubbed His chin and said – Hmmmm, what shall we have you do? And that was the end of the dream. So I said – Ok great Swami but see you have to trust. We have to trust Swami. We have to trust that everything is in His hands and we have to expand and understand that. So I began to trust that. I just would centre myself more and more and the awareness of Swami and I trusted that the rest didn’t matter. I continued working, and continue being responsible doing, practicing all of Swami’s teachings. As one of the beautiful things about Swami teachings is that He talks to every level of society, every level of persons so there is guidance there to help take a person through from beginning levels he may think the world is not real let me throw everything away and just sit here. You know. And made me that is not exactly what they are supposed to do. So He teaches us about Dharma. He teaches us about correct conduct and all kinds of beautiful things. So because Swami said – Hmmmm what shall we have you do? I knew that Swami would take care of everything whatever it was that would please Him. And so life became an unfoldment of Swami’s will which is what of all our lives are anyways. And I think we can choose to go with it and accept it and watch it and see the miracle of it because creation itself is a miracle and we are that creation. So it’s a miracle. Our lives are miracles.
Ted: So you end up with children in need and adult women and men who are in need. Michael: Yes. Ted: And what was the year that this started? Michael: This started in about 2001.
Ted: And did you have very many to begin with?
Michael: Well, what happened is as we started sponsoring children in schools wherever it may be. And lot of those children were now graduated and some of them have come back to help with the project and those are most loyal, faithful and you know wise helpers in many ways. You know. Then in 2003 children just started coming, there was a group of children that came to our door they had been beaten, they didn’t have a home to go to, they were very scared and frightened and we said – Come in, don’t worry about anything. We will see that the things work out right for you. That was the beginning. From there it started to grow more children started to come we had to make arrangements for our home, which we did and we got all kinds of little blessings from Swami, Swami materialised Vibhuthi on His photo and all the photos in the house. When it was Shivaraathri and we were installing Swami’s Padhukas or slippers on the altar and all the children were just so happy these little small children they were all so happy. So they just started clapping and when they started clapping you can see all these little lights beautiful lights they just shined for a few seconds..... little beautiful type of light and in place of all those lights was Vibhuthi on every thing. And on..... I am sure Aleli can tell this story better than I but we had gone out shopping or something Aleli had gone out shopping and she came home and the children said – Aunty look more Vibhuthi is coming on the pictures on the refrigerator and Aleli said – This children probably just put some Vibhuthi they wanted to make me happy so it is probably one of their children games and they put some Vibhuthi on the picture on the refrigerator. So she said – Oh, you know..... She said – Oh, where? They showed her where it was as she was looking it more Vibhuthi just started coming out of the photo.
Ted: Before her eyes.
Michael: So you know Swami showed His happiness at that change with that transformation. Swami had manifested Vibhuthi before at various times. But always in conjunction with some sort of a currents or some sort of change of events like when you know we were moving to India there was a picture of Jesus that was on the wall and we were taking it down and we were going to pack it away and it was going go into storage we left it on the couch when we came back to in they were all these tears and Vibhuthi on the picture. You know. So we knew that we had to take this picture with us. So we have it of course with us now. You know.
Ted: I would imagine now 2010 you were at the greatest size, the biggest size you have been.
Michael: We have lost a few children in this past year. They have left for various different reasons we don’t force anyone to stay. We do our best to encourage them to stay, to encourage them to take the path of love and understanding, to take the path of working with oneself, working in their studies and growing. But some children would rather do something else sometimes. So we have..... We are down to about 34 children right now but this is what I believe to be a very permanent group or very permanent number. These children are being with us for long time and the bond is very deep and....
Ted: All their needs were met..... they live . . .
Michael: All their needs were met.
Ted: At your permanent place which is Coorg.
Michael: Yes. Ted: And they are schooled there. Michael: Yes.
Ted: And they do their chores in every way they can.
Michael: Absolutely it is a very beautiful system which I am very happy with. And I am very proud of all of the children. We try to create and we do create with Swami’s grace an environment of love and an environment of fairness. Some of the principles upon which we work are our own inner understandings with Swami. So..... The running of our home you were wondering if how their needs were met and so on. All of our needs are met by the divine will. I don’t mean to be obscure when I say that, but it is true. Swami has assured us in every way don’t worry about anything I am taking care of everything, all of your needs will be provided for I will provide for all of your needs. In every way and He always has. I can give countless examples of this. But He always has, always. In every way, shape and form. So. . .
Ted: Whether it’s your health, whether it’s money that is required. Michael: Yes. Ted: Whether it’s obstacles that you don’t see any immediate solution for. Michael: Yes.
Ted: And you know that it’s not just a matter of faith or imagination that these are needs specifically being met.
Michael: Yes. How else could it happen? That we have never ever raised our hands and said we are doing this project. We are taking care of children. We need help, we need support. We have never done that. I don’t say that with pride. I don’t say. I just say it to reveal the miracle of life itself. We have never broadcast anywhere what we were doing. Everything that’s come to be any surprise that we have ever gotten we started using our own money and our dear friend of us Matild we were together and we had some finances so we just started caring because we couldn’t help it. The compassion, the love, the truth the fact that people need to be cared for was just flowing from us and we couldn’t stop it. That was Swami’s will. That was Swami’s Sankalpa there to have that happen. So He fulfils His will.
Ted: And yet sometimes this is little bit off the track but the things come along such as let us say a bank account that runs empty or health that runs anaemic and you have the need to go to a doctor and you have the need to take care of yourself.
Ted: What happens in the situation like that?
Michael: Well. Variety of things happens in this situation like that. One day our bank account was down to about 200 rupees and I had a bill of about 15000 rupees due that day.
Ted: I am sure....
Michael: I have a particular sense of Dharma or right action in paying bills I don’t like to be late on paying bills it’s just not how I look at things. So ... can we close that door please?
Jody: I will close it no problem. Sorry.
Ted: Ok, not yet.
Michael: One day I had a bill to pay of 18000 rupees... 15000 rupees and I wanted to pay that bill. I woke up in the morning knowing I have to pay that bill but I kept reminding Swami’s reminder to me. He'd come in the dream and told me that He was taking care of everything. And anytime, anybody wondered about the finances for the project may be one of our teachers would be worried they.... we really don’t have any money; we really don’t have any money. Swami would come in their dream and show a very beautiful relationship with me or with Aleli and showed that He was handing over money and everything must been taken care of. I always said – Yes of course you would have that dream. Of course Swami will take care of things somehow. And so that day I woke up knowing that we had this bill to pay I just knew, I just knew that it would work out. I knew that money would be there somehow. I went to the bank 18000 rupees had been deposited in the account. From where I don’t know it could have been from a person, it could have been from one of our friends who had details to the account or something but it was there I didn’t trace it, I didn’t track it. It was there. I was able to pay the bill. So you know these things happen. And they happen again and again and again and again. Now Swami also has inspired, Swami has drawn people to the project, to help support the project, the presence of people and their help I cannot underestimate but I can say that every single one of them is inspired by divinity whether it is in the form of Sathya Sai or it just something that comes up from their heart. They feel something.
Ted: Something happened regarding your health one day, going to the doctor having a doctor’s appointment.
Michael: Oh yes. I was quite ill actually. I had a swollen glands and I hadn’t been able to eat or drink for about a week. It was just so painful.
Ted: Too painful.
Michael: I never had anything like to this extent in my life. And I was in Whitefield at that time and Aleli was taking very good care of me and making sure I had everything I needed and I felt so much love from her. That was a wonderful gift. But I wasn’t getting any better. And we went to the hospital, Swami’s general hospital and there was given some Amoxicillin which I was taking faithfully it was so painful just even swallow the tablet. And I had this delusion in the middle of the night I don’t know if we need to put this in the film or not but I felt that my old master was coming to me and ask me to go and get these manuscripts which were buried in the jungles of the Himalayas somewhere. So I got up from my bed and I started brushing my teeth and getting ready to head out the door to go to dig up this manuscript you know and then I realised wait a minute what am I doing? You know so I went back to bed you know. Anyways I was quite ill you know. So I went to the hospital again because this Amoxicillin had not worked and we were there early in the morning and all of a sudden we hear Swami is coming, Swami is coming and I thought it is just some hysteria or something and I looked out and sure enough here comes Swami’s car and He pulls up to the hospital. It was so beautiful to see Him get out of His car and seeing Him in a different place than what you are used to Darshan hall and this and that the sunshine was just flowing and there he was with his vibrancy all around Him you know that the aura that Swami has and that beautiful orange and that just beautiful Sai with all that love. And He walks up the steps and He is looking for someone and you can see that He is looking for someone and Aleli saw and everybody saw He was looking, looking, looking and His eyes fell on me and He saw me and He started looking at me from the head to toe, from the head to toe and He walks up to me and He just looks at me from head to toe, head to toe does something with His hands, walks to the back of the room and goes inside for a I mean it must have been 10 seconds or something and He just turned around and went back. And so then I went in, got an injection of Penicillin which I had many times in my life before never had a reaction to and all of a sudden I started to go into shock and all my vision started becoming fuzzy white and I couldn’t hear, my ears became muffled and I just lost consciousness and the last thing I said to Aleli, I said – Bring a bucket because I am about to be sick, you know and I just, I felt that my blood pressure drop and I just fell over and everything was just tingling and then I just kind of lost body consciousness and I can see was this white light and something encouraged me in the space of this white light to think or intone not physically but AUM SRI SAIRAM and I started in intoning that inside slowly, slowly I started to gain consciousness of my body again and then I could understand that even before I was fully physically conscience conscious I could understand that the nurses were running to get the Antidote for the Penicillin injection and so I started saying you know AUM SRI SAIRAM more and I started gaining my physical strength I started chanting slowly with my lips – AUMSRISAIRAM, AUMSRISAIRAM. And stronger and stronger AUMSRISAIRAM until I finally was back and they were just coming with the Antidote and I said – don’t give me the Antidote because if that Penicillin worked it all I am ok now and I don’t want to have its effects nullified I want to get better you know so you know the mysterious side of the story is that when I went home that day and whenever you have.... whenever I ..... had Antibiotics and I think they make you sleepy but I felt very, very sleepy that day but it was a comfortable, peaceful sleep not like, the sleep by been having the night before. And then I had a beautiful dream Aleli and I were in this white temple on a lake and there was Swami sitting in a throne just giving His blessings and He says – When you meditate it’s important that you feel this the fire in your spine. So this whole event, this whole occurrence
Ted: Was instructive?
Michael: The whole thing is Swami His beautiful . . .
Michael: Play and Leela. We... You know that is the miraculousness of Swami. He imparts His beauty in His grace and His teachings through the ways that we can’t even fathom.
Ted: Michael we are going to wrap it up for this time and hopefully. I want to ask you one final question and I want it to be your own answer but it shouldn’t be about what you think. You would like to say in addition to what we have already heard that would be helpful for us to know. But before getting there its my hope that we have many, many sections like this to continue, to document, record for posterity to inform others who are curious and who want to follow the progress that you and Aleli are achieving for these children and for the adults that you serve too. It’s a two part conclusion one is a question on my part – How do people moved by this story and want to do something as just per there, anything, find a way to do that.
Michael: Ok. Can I talk about two things? Ted: Sure.
Michael: The answer to your question and I stay very focused on this. And I just wanted to talk about the environment that we create at the school for the children.
Michael: And so on. Ok. The environment that is created at the school is an atmosphere of love. We always said to Swami – Swami unless You send us more truly, loving volunteers and loving people who can really look into the heart of each child and the mind of each child and relate to each child with love. Then we cannot grow, we can’t serve more children because the personal attention, the personal love and the personal guidance is extremely important. We have never wanted to become an institution where children sure are served and they get a lot of good things. They get food, they get shelter, and they get education and those were wonderful gifts that are very much required. But they also need guidance, they also need a personal connection and we deeply believe in that. So that is why we spend all of our time fostering that, allowing that to grow we spend all our time with the children interacting with them on whatever various issues were there so we also have a very strong spiritual focus at the school so when... in... aside from their academic education which includes all their subjects – Mathematics, English, Hindi, Telugu, Social studies, everything. The children also learn the Vedas they follow Swami’s programme here - learning the Vedas, learning the Rudram and everything. I am very proud of them, how beautifully they chant may be we get to hear some of that in a minute. And the children are very much involved in the running of the school. So they all are..... they take turns being the leader for the day, getting the children together for Bhajans and we come for Bhajans and we sing Bhajans with them then we chant the Gayathri Mantra and other things with them and we have beautiful family time together or school time together, making announcements, practicing meditation together, learning human values and so on. But one of the children will be the leader who has to bring all of the children together who rings the bell so on and so forth. So the children are very much involved and they are involved in the various projects that go on at the school as far as our dairy farm and our agricultural projects, our newsletter which we were working on now, even the creation of our website the children are involved in all of its, so they learn through doing, they learn through experience and I have seen such a wonderful maturity and responsibility grow in the children and we foster that and we encourage them to live by the light of love and it bring that love into the management of everything that they do whether it is working with the children, working with the animals whatever it may be.
Ted: I must say I have seen those three or four characteristics myself the several encounters I have had with these girls regardless of their age and I have always been impressed how any child can learn that so fully so deeply so richly at such a young age.
Michael: And may be that is one of the beautiful stories is that we have to share as a home and school was that the children are capable of learning a great deal about themselves and a great deal about love and compassion, wisdom they are able to bring into a practical understanding when you give them a chance, when you support them, when you give them the environment to do so.
Ted: And the people wanted to be for whatever their motivation financially supportive could they be?
Michael: They could be. And one of the ways is that, that can be done is they can visit the website – www.childrensproject.org there they will find the details for helping out in a variety of ways. If they wanted to donate some of their time, if they wanted to teach . . . however they would like to contribute they could probably find an answer there. And they can find where to send an email too. And we would respond to them and answer their questions.
Ted: Very good. Michael this is just been a wealth of information thank you so much. AUMSRISAIRAM.
Michael: OMSRISAIRAM. Thank you so much it has been a pleasure to be here and I must say you are a wonderful interviewer all your years of experience just shine right through, you made me feel totally at peace and at ease and Swami just brings the right things together all the time and....
Ted: And that piece will be edited out.
Michael: Ok. Well thank you very much.
Ted: Aleli, thank you very, very much for this opportunity to have a chance to learn even more about your life and Michael’s life and the life of the children of Coorg. To begin with, any comment you would like to make that would be helpful for all of us to better understand what motivates all of you.
Aleli: The only thing I could think of is love in action or just God is just flowing through each and every one of the children and Michael and me and the rest of the staff.
Ted: What about on a bad day when you wake up with a head ache and it is grey outside and the children are cranky, and things are not going well, you have bills to pay then you don’t have the money to pay it what would then?
Aleli: Well actually when somebody asked me the question so Aleli - How are you doing? Then I would always say you know even if the whole world is stumbling down I always say pretty good. Because I know everything will be just fine.
Ted: And up until this moment in time you come through everything has been difficult. Aleli: Yes. Ted: What is the reservoir of strength come from, that sustains you so well?
Aleli: I guess it must be from God. Because I can't explain it. A friend of mine asked me one time that I have known him for years twenty years or more and he hasn’t really seen me with the children and he came here to India and said to me – Aleli I have been seeing you with the children for three hours now and you don’t seem to get tired, are you tired now? And then I said to him, I looked at him and stopped for like 5 seconds and then I said – Well actually now that you are asking me that question, yes I am tired. I am getting tired but if nobody asks me the question I just keep going and I don’t notice that I am getting tired or anything like that.
Ted: You are better of not having the question. Aleli: Yes. Ted: You are born in Philippines. Aleli: Yes I was born and raised in the Philippines.
Ted: Came to America at what age?
Aleli: Yes came to America around 15 and lived there for almost 30 years then came to India.
Ted: You and I and Jody were met together it must be eleven or twelve years ago in a wonderful place in Colusa, California, yeah.
Aleli: Yes. Ted: Never thinking in a million years we meet you again here in India. Aleli: Yes. Ted: Realising that you are living here permanently.
Aleli: Yes. Actually that is the place where Michael and I met. Ted: In Colusa? Aleli: Yes in a miracle house. So God has put us together.Ted: That is so much Amrutham, Vibhuthi and..... What did you think of Michael when you met him?
Aleli: I thought hmmm........This is an interesting young man and I didn’t think anything about the whole thing and somehow we have just over the years it is just felt like we had so many things in common we like to help others.
We were not even thinking about ourselves because we feel that God is working through these forms, through these bodies.
Ted: Did you ever at one point or another discuss which you might view in the future to serve
humankind as husband and wife?
Aleli: I always wanted to serve others. May be or stems from an inner nature or influence from my mother who is always helping other people as well. Going up in the Philippines and also in the USA our homes are always open for others we would meet people that don’t have much of anything and everything is free in our house. They can either have food with us or even spend the night or two nights or you know things like that, at one point our home became a place where there are so many people in there I don’t even know who is in there and who is answering our phones. And people will just answer the phone and say – Meeramma residence this is the name of the street name where we were living. So I guess over the years as you know I just don’t see myself as my needs first, I always think of others first before my own self.
Ted: Well you were in the right place doing right work right now. Aleli: Yes.
Ted: The children of Coorg are so beautiful and the children of Coorg right now in Puttaparthi as you are having some renovation work done on your permanent location.
Ted: Many miles from here. You get thirty some children I believe and it must be a handful but it certainly fulfils your destiny to be able to serve other people you do it always with a smile on your face.
Aleli: Well actually I don’t really call it destiny or a need to serve or a desire to help others it stems from just love. It’s something that is natural, a thing that I think each and every one of us have.
Ted: I think it’s really important you made that distinction right now.
Ted: Thank you for that and it’s very well point. So meaning that you shouldn’t be consider the exception to the rule with people whom you might one day aspire to serve in their own expression of love that any of us can do it.
Aleli: Yes, correct. Ted: Yeah. Aleli: Yes.
Ted: And the way you do it so unique is to take like a big mother hands so many chicks under her wings and how does it all work in harmony? How can it all work in harmony especially knowing that some of these children come from some very, very painful, abusive, difficult backgrounds.
Aleli: I don’t think of the children as having difficult past life.
Ted: How about present life?
Aleli: Even though I know that they had difficult lives in the past. And that is why we have taken them in but I feel like they are my children like a real mother who takes care of her children. She doesn’t think that – Oh
these poor kids I have to take care of them. I don’t think of them that way. I just love as mother loves.
Ted: That’s sort of like what Mother Teresa did with the dying men and women she served, why evaluate the various elements that brought them to where they are and just treat them as equally, as lovingly as she can. And do you see results?
Aleli: Well when I have to tell them they have to eat with their mouths closed, they have to say thank you, they have to say please and don’t disregard others feelings and things of that nature then yes I do see the difference. And you know they clean themselves better and all these things yes but then . . . One day a few days ago actually some one had asked me about the children’s transformation. And I said to them - I don’t really think that my children have any kind of transformation, may be in just their habits but the inherent nature of all beings is good. Like everyone is God.
Ted: So this is the key isn’t?
Ted: Because this potential lies within every one of us to change, to discover that the wealth of love that is there that often times goes unnoticed
Ted: Or covered over and becomes inaccessible so you really helping to dig the dirt off of these with these children.
Aleli: Yes I guess that is how you could put it and, and I enjoyed, but I would also tell the children you know children I always think that you all are good, you all have goodness inside in you and you all have light inside, so for me to say transformation to other people, I would say no. You don’t need transformation because you already all are good. And that’s why I tell people that uncle and I are lucky to have all of you because you all are good children.
Ted: Well it sounds like it is natural and easy for you to express it that way. Is it equally easy for them to hear it when they come from a background of distressed and perhaps pain and abuse, can they hear that message about themselves being good as well.
Aleli: Yes. Because I always tell them you all are good girls, you are a good boy like the smallest boy I have when he does naughty things I say – I know its fun to do this and fun to do that. But you know good boys don’t do that stuff. And I know you are a good boy. So you are not going to do that anymore, are you?
Ted: What is the biggest challenge of having so many children in the same house?
Aleli: Time. Not enough time to hold them, to hug them, to just be one and one with them. That’s my biggest challenge.
Ted: It sounds like they might make a nice role for a caregiver who wanted to do Seva just to be loving to the children. Do you have somebody around who could do that?
Aleli: We have visiting teachers who come and even though they are not even teachers they just love the children. And they just want to be with the children and help Michael and myself. Like we have this Irish fellow who is going to be here for one month to help us out with anything he says so, I give him a schedule he is going to be teaching English five classes every day and he tells me whatever, whatever you need Aleli if you need to babysit or whatever it is and I said you know if you would like to hold the small ones you are welcome to do so. Just talk to them just to let them know that you are here for them.
Ted: What a great service? Aleli: Yes.
Ted: Little bit about Coorg now. How far along is it coming? Is about three years old I am going to guess.
Aleli: Yes. We moved in 2007 in our temporary housing and so now we are building our permanent home and school so hopefully in the next three, four, five months perhaps we are going to be moving back to Coorg again.
Ted: And I understand it is in the beautiful part of the region air that is all it is hilly.
Aleli: Yes, in the mountain. Ted: And it is cool?
Aleli: Yes. About 4000 feet high so it is not that high that you know you get dizzy or anything like that you don’t get that dizziness you know high altitude so we are just in the right height.
Ted: How many acres do you have? Aleli: Pardon me. Ted: How many acres do you have? Aleli: I think we have 15 acres or...
Ted: Do you have a sufficient amount of room? Aleli: Yes, yes all enough for the children. Yes. Ted: Do you have animals there?
Aleli: Oh yes. We have cows, we have dogs and I think now we have chickens and....
Ted: Do you have enough chores for all those students to occupy their time?
Aleli: Yes. They love doing it. So even though right now we have people who are taking care of all the animals, all the children miss all the animals. They love grazing the cows on their free time when after school is over they go out there and somebody else the caretakers are grazing the cows they would still go out there and graze with the cows and the dogs they would like to play with the dogs.
Ted: And you have much of as, can you tell me about your staff, how many people? Aleli: It is always changing, the staffs always changing, so I can’t really mention anything about that.
Ted: Ok. And do you, do you are you in a position of needing help from time to time if somebody wanted to do this?
Aleli: Oh yes. Ted: And they could probably go to your website Aleli: Yes. Ted: And find out more information about that. Aleli: Correct. Yes. Ted: And again your website is www. Aleli: childrensproject - One word Ted: .org? Aleli: Correct. Ted: Childrensproject.org Aleli: Yes.
Ted: What is it that you think is the message that’s of all the messages about the children of Coorg that is right for you to talk about right now? May be it is personal transformation in you, may be it is how you see the fate of children around the world being capable of changing for the better or may be it is something very, very local. What would you like to just talk about as we wrap this up and go over and see the children?
Aleli: That is an interesting question because to me I don’t really have any message for people I just live the life that I am supposed to be living and I live let God. I just let go and let God.
Ted: Do you have any regrets?
Ted: Saibaba play more than a small role in your lives still?
Aleli: Oh yes. He is a big role in my life. Yes.
Ted: And the children get a feel for who and what and the love of Sai Baba is?
Aleli: Yes, yes.Ted: And what do you see as your future for all being?
Aleli: Whatever it is I think it will be just beautiful and wonderful. Like I said I just let go and let God.
Ted: And yet you are a human being, you are a woman and you are a loving person do you ever miss home being back home?
Aleli: Home. Someone had asked me that question one time when I was travelling. I said – Where is home? And I say - Home is where you feel happy, wherever that is whether here in India, in the USA. I am always happy because I know home is in the heart.
Ted: I'm sure im glad I asked that question. Aleli, thank you very, very much. And we wish you nothing but endless success and I guess that is not required because you have it whether we wish it or not. God bless you.
Aleli: Thank you. Ted: And Sairam. Aleli: Thank you so much.
Small Child chants :
oṃ gaṇānā”m tvā gaṇapa’tigṃ havāmahe kaviṃ ka’vīnām upamaśra’vastavam | jyeṣṭharājaṃ brahma’ṇāṃ brahmaṇaspata ā na’ḥ śṛṇvannūtibhi’ssīda sāda’nam || praṇo’ devī sara’svatī | vāje’bhir vājinīvatī | dhīnāma’vitrya’vatu || gaṇeśāya’ namaḥ | sarasvatyai namaḥ | śrī gurubhyo namaḥ | hariḥ oṃ || om Santhi, Santhi, Santhi ||
Ted: Nice girl,Good, good.
Aleli: I just want to mention that this girl is not attending the Vedic chants she is just somewhere else in the room
Ted: Has she just assimilated or what?
Aleli: Yes. She is just playing somewhere else in the room while the Vedic teacher is in this room teaching the rest of the children
Ted: And she picked all that up? Aleli: Yes. Aleli: She just picked all Ted:
Aleli: Thank you very much Nandi Michael: Thank you Nandi. Ted: Thank you.
All children chant:
Atma-Lingaya Namah ! Paramaya Namah ! Parama Lingaya Namah !
Sadyo jatam prapadyami sadyojatayavai namo namah Bhave bave naati bhave bhavasmamam bhavodbhavaya namah
Aghorebhyo thagorebhyo ghora ghora tharebhyah
Ishanah sarva bhootanam Brahmadhipati brahmanodhipati Brahma shivome astu sada shivom Namo hiranya bahave hiranya varnyaya Hiranya roopaya hiranya pataye Ambikapataya umapataye pashupataye namo namah
OM Rtagum Satyam Param Brahma, Purusam Krsna Pingalam
So, here I am again Willing to be opened up and broken like a flower in the rain. Tell me what have I to do to die and then be raised, To reach beyond the pain like a flower in the rain?
The evil wind, it blows a storm to rock my world Just when think I'm safe and warm. I'm led astray far too easily. It's always hard for me to say I'm wrong,
Until I know I can't go on.
So, here I am again Willing to be opened up and broken like a flower in the rain. Tell me what have I to do to die and then be raised, To reach beyond the pain like a flower in the rain?