The following talk was given by David Jevons at a public meeting organised by the Vancouver Sai Baba Centre and held in Vancouver in order to celebrate Sai Baba’s 75th birthday on November 23rd 2000.  
It has been edited but only for the purpose of reproducing it in this Newsletter.

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THE QUEST FOR DIVINITY

As I speak to you tonight I am very conscious of the fact that, due to the time zone in which we live, we are amongst the very last people in the world to be celebrating Sai Baba’s 75th birthday.   For over twenty hours now, starting in the Far East, literally tens of thousands of people have been taking part in this great event.  Just as you see a wave performed by the spectators at a football match, so in a sense we are the tail end of a gigantic wave which has embraced many cultures and many creeds and which has risen and fallen as the Sun has moved across the face of the Earth.  We can only wonder at what will happen on the 80th or even the 90th birthdays.  The pace of Sai Baba’s mission is accelerating.  Another large free hospital is about to open in Bangalore.  His devotees increase in number every day.   His works are expanding in many fields.  As he so often says -

“Love is my form, Truth is my breath, Bliss is my food. 

My life is my message, Expansion is my life.”

What will Sai Baba accomplish in the next twenty years, before he leaves his physical body?   What dramatic events will we witness?  Do we realise how blessed we are to be living in these times, how privileged we are to see an avatar fulfilling his divine mission?   Sai Baba has said -

“The incarnations of the Lord are not accepted as such by many.  Even their parents, kinsman and comrades hesitate to adore them.  Only a very few sages, who cultivated the inner view through study and sadhana, know their reality.”

What is it that attracts people to Sai Baba?  What is it that draws people to him irrespective of race, culture or creed?  Why do so many worship his form?  Why do they travel many thousands of miles to India, to sit on their backsides on the hard ground for hour after hour after hour, just to sit at the feet of this Godman?  It is because they see something in him for which they have been desperately searching all their lives.  It is because they see in Sai Baba a quality which they recognise only dimly in themselves - divinity.  We are all on a quest for divinity and we are drawn to this pure manifestation of divinity that is shining like a beacon in this world of darkness like moths are drawn to a flame.  Why do we seek this divinity?   Sai Baba says -

“There is in everyone a spark of truth.  No one can live without that spark.  There is in everyone a flame of love, life becomes a dark veil without it.  That spark, that flame of God, is the source of all truth and all love.  Man seeks truth, he seeks to know that reality, because his very nature is derived from God, Who is truth.  He seeks love to give it, and to show it, for it is his very nature, that of God and God is love.” 

What attracts most people to Sai Baba is his unconditional love, this lightening bolt of divine energy that strikes your whole being as you sit there in darshan.  We experience this divine love so rarely in our own lives that when we do experience the real thing, we are forever dissatisfied with all the lesser forms of love that we have accepted as love up to now.  No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you have strayed from the path of dharma, you know that Sai Baba’s love for you will never waver.  You know that the perfect Father, the perfect Mother, will always be there to nurture and to protect His child.

We were in Puttaparthi for the celebration of Sai Baba’s 65th birthday and Swami came out to us on his birthday and said -

 Why are you all saying ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, for I am always happy.  So don’t waste your ‘Happy Birthdays’ on me.  Keep them for yourselves, who are rarely happy, because you have so many desires.  This is not my birthday because I have no birthday.  There no birthdays for me, for I am ageless, I am eternal.  You should celebrate your birthday, which is the day that you are born into knowledge and out of bondage.  I consider my true birthday as the day when divinity blossoms in your heart, the day you resolve to practise my advice and to engage in spiritual disciplines.”

Will you honour that birthday request?  Recognise that we are met here to-night, not to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Swami, for he is always happy, but to become aware of our true birthday, the day when we are born into knowledge and out of bondage, the birth of divinity within ourselves.  I am God, you are God, there is no difference between us and between us and God.  Anything which denies this reality is itself not real.  Any love which is conditional is itself not love.  Any truth which cannot stand for ever, is itself not truth.  Sai Baba is a living example of love and truth in action.  That is what draws people to him, even those who follow an established religion.  I heard a delightful story the other day about a devotee who was sitting in the canteen in Puttaparthi and who began talking to a very serious grey- haired man, who was sitting next to him.  This man turned out to be a Cardinal from the Vatican who had been sent to find out just exactly what was going on at Puttaparthi, why so many people from so many races all over the world were making the pilgrimage there.  So even the Vatican is taking notice of Swami!

Human birth has not been gifted to Man merely to indulge in worldly pleasures.  None of the things of the world that we experience are capable of conferring any permanent sensation upon us.  All our experiences of the physical world only tend to increase our desires and to focus our energies on the outer world.  Therefore we should strive to give up our endless desires and should devote our energy and attention to recognising the indwelling divinity.  That is the quest that we are all offered.  That is the quest on which every human soul is bound: the pursuit and the recognition of eternity.  In Sai Baba we have the perfect example of what this means.  We have the perfect example of the reality of living a God-focused life.  One of the amazing things that I’ve noticed is that when you go to Prashanti Nilayam, to take part in the celebration of Sai Baba’s birthday, you have to keep on reminding yourself just whose birthday it really is.  Why should this be so?  It is because on your birthday people come and give you presents, but on Sai Baba’s birthday no-one is giving presents to Swami, it is Swami who is giving all the presents.  I have watched him each day giving presents to his devotees, saris to the ladies, dhotis to the men, sewing machines or bicycle rickshaws to the poor so that they can earn a living. 

Sai Baba once jokingly said to us during an interview, given shortly before his birthday, “There will be a million people coming here and they all have at least ten wishes.  How can I fulfil ten million wishes?”  Of course if he wanted to, he could, but the point that he was making was well made.  Everyone comes to Sai Baba wanting and desiring.  How many come offering and giving?  How many come to serve the divine?  What present are we going to give Sai Baba on this, his 75th birthday?  What will be our present to him?  Have we thought about that?  Perhaps there is something that we can do right now, some resolution that we can make, some negative quality that we can release, to change the direction of our lives in that pursuit of divinity.  Sai Baba has listed some of the sins that you might like to consider.  Business without morality.  Are there any business men here tonight?  Are you conducting all your business deals morally and ethically?  Politics without principle.  There must be a lot of politically active people here tonight with the election campaign in full swing.  Are you running and supporting a principled and positive campaign?  Education without character.  You only have to read the newspapers each day and to read about the violence that is prevalent in our schools to know that character based on recognising and exhibiting right human values is sadly lacking in many schools today.  Worship without sacrifice.  By your very presence here tonight I recognise that you’ve made a sacrifice, a commitment, but is that true of the other days of the year?   Wealth without hard work.  This is why Sai Baba tells us not to do the lottery.  Are we a part of this wanting something for nothing society?  Do we expect the State to support us even when we are capable of supporting ourselves?  Human existence without regard for the scriptures.   How often do we study the holy texts, how often do we try to seek meaning and purpose in our earthly existence on a committed basis?  Devotion without austerity.  Do we follow Sai Baba’s injunction that the rich must give up their wants so that the poor can have their needs?  Perhaps among this list there is a little something that we can offer to Sai Baba as a birthday gift tonight.

If you don’t feel that the seven sins are for you, then perhaps you might  like to consider the six human weaknesses of lust, anger, greed, pride, hatred and attachment which are all born out of separation from the Godhead.  If we could eradicate just one of these weaknesses then the others would surely follow, just as a house of cards collapses when you remove just one card.  All of these weaknesses are but different facets of the one illusion, namely, that we are separate from God, that we are separate from every other human being.   We can only entertain these feelings if we regard ourselves as being separate from, as living in isolation from, other human beings.  We have deceived ourselves into believing that All is not One.  How else could we harm another human being, be it in thought, word or deed?  It is because we do not believe that they are God, and this is because we do not believe that we are God.  I recall here Sai Baba’s words “You are as close to God as you are to your self.”  So if we do not know our selves, our inner selves, how can we begin to know the reality of the  Godhead?  What a wise man said thousands of years ago is just as applicable today “Man, know thyself.”  So any personal transformation that we achieve, any gift that we offer to God, any service that we render to Humanity, all comes back to us because All is One.  There is no separation.  Help another and you help yourself.  Heal another and you heal yourself.  Love another and you love yourself.  Sai Baba’s daily life is a continuous demonstration of his prime directive “Love all. Serve all.”  That is why he is continually reminding us that his life is his message.  Can we make our lives his message?  What a birthday gift that would be!

When Joyce Moller introduced me before this talk, she reminded you that I have followed the career of an airline pilot.  Sai Baba is always joking with me about this.  He once put his arm around my shoulders and said “You are my pilot, but remember I am your pilot!”  He often uses the analogy of a plane taking off to describe the various stages of his mission.  On his 65th birthday he said that his plane was taxiing out and on his 70th birthday he said that it was lining-up on the runway.  He prophesied that on his 75th birthday his plane would take off.  So today his plane is taking off.  This plane is, of course, a cosmic plane, not a physical plane, nevertheless, it implies a selection process.  You need to have a boarding card to get on the plane.  I know that many devotees have been severely tested in recent months by all the negative stories that are circulating both in the press and on the Internet about Sai Baba.  Nevertheless, the fact that you are here tonight, celebrating his birthday in his presence and offering your devotion to him, is, I believe, a boarding pass for that plane.  It must constitute, for many of us, an offer from Sai Baba for us to walk the final path towards liberation.

Now Sai Baba has said that the Golden Age is coming, that it will be here by the time that he leaves his physical body in 2026.  He has said that even elderly people will witness this event.  So we are all a part of that process.  We all have a vital part to play in the birth of the Golden Age.  That is why we are in incarnation at this time.  That is why we are gathered here tonight, in his presence, honouring his life and giving thanks for the sacrifice that he has made for us.  The thing that impresses me the most about Sai Baba is his service.  Every day thousands of people come to see him.  Every day he come out to give darshan.  Every day he is the focus of attention with thousands of eyes watching his every move.  Truly he lives in a goldfish bowl.  How many of us could cope with such pressures?  How many of us could give such love and attention to everyone who comes before us?  Sai Baba has the time for all who answer his call, be they rich or poor, kings or beggars, famous or infamous.  Often times he will ignore a prince sitting in the VIP section and yet will talk to some obscure individual who is sitting quietly amongst the masses in darshan, revealing a profound knowledge of their life and their human problems.  The omnipresent Sai Baba knows everything about all those who come into his presence.  In my own life I have had so many demonstrations of his omnipresence that I no longer question the fact and if the physical Sai Baba demonstrates such omnipresence, then, how much more so is the God of all Creation, our Creator, Who is Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient in all of our lives.

If you have any doubts about the reality of this power then listen to this little story.  I have told it before, but it bears repeating.  A former Vice Chancellor of Sai Baba’s college was giving a talk to a Sai Baba group in Connecticut in the USA and in it he related this story.  The Vice Chancellor said that recently he was sitting on Sai Baba’s verandah in the ashram in Puttaparthi  next to a very important Indian politician.  Sai Baba came by and called the politician by name and asked him to come into his private interview room.  The man went inside and came out ten minutes later sobbing, and then the sobbing turned into deep uncontrollable crying.  Sai Baba came by and said to the man “What’s wrong?”  Then Sai Baba waved his hand, manifested some vibhuti and gave it to the man who took it and ate it. A short time afterwards, when the man had regained his composure, he turned to the Vice Chancellor and said “Because you have witnessed all of this, I will explain it to you.”  

The politician then explained that his wife had been very sick and that she had told him that she wanted to go and see Sai Baba for one last time, for the very last time.  However the politician had been very busy and while he was away at his work his wife had died.  All this had happened ten days previously and the man was now coming to see Sai Baba after cremating his wife.  When Sai Baba came into the interview room the man said that Swami had scolded him and had reminded him of what a wonderful wife he had had, of how she took care of his every need, cooked his food, looked after the house, even to laying out his clothes before he went to work, yet when she had made her one last request, to be taken to see Sai Baba, he had been too busy to do it.  Sai Baba then said “I went to her and I comforted her and now she is with me.  Here, I will let you see her now.”  At that moment, the man’s wife emerged from inside Sai Baba and stood as a living human being in front of him, no longer appearing thin and sickly.  The wife smiled and took her husband’s hand and said “Do not be sad, do not grieve for me, I am very happy, very happy.”  Then the man’s wife merged back with Sai Baba.  This story speaks volumes about the reality of Sai Baba for here is the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent Sai serving the world as only he can.

For those of us who have been privileged to know Sai Baba personally, I can only say that his divinity shines forth like a beacon in this dark world of Kali Yuga.  There are those who will attack him because they fear the light, because they prefer the darkness to the light.  There are those who will denigrate him because they would rather believe in other people’s reported experiences than in their own.  There are those who will deny him simply because it is an easy option, because it requires so much more energy and attention to hold on as opposed to letting go.  There are those who will deny the God in Sai Baba because they cannot yet recognise the God in themselves.  Equally so, though, there are those of us who have witnessed the Divine in manifestation and who cannot deny it.  I recall the words of a long-time devotee of Sai Baba, speaking to us just after we had come out from our first interview, many years ago.  Our children, although young, had been present.  The devotee said “How blessed they are, for once they have seen divinity, they will never be able to deny it!”  These wise words are also true of us.  We are divine.  There is no greater truth than that.  That is Sai Baba’s message.  That should be our message.  As Sai Baba is always saying to us, “Make your life my message.”   On this, his birthday, he would ask for no other present than that we recognise that fact.

I would like to finish by quoting the words of Sai Baba on his sixth-fifth birthday.

“Broaden your vision.  Cultivate the spirit of love. Being endowed with the human form you must strive to develop human values and not to stray away from the path of righteousness.  Fill your minds with sublime thoughts and your hearts with divine feelings.  Consider the entire society as your home, only then will you realise genuine unity with all.  Be aware of the divinity that is inherent in every human being and thereby you will grow in your own self-esteem.  Fill your life with joy and above all be happy, be happy, make others happy, all will be happy, God will be happy!”

 Happy Birthday Swami.