THE RAMALA CENTRE
The following talk was given by David Jevons in September 1998 to an audience of Sai Baba devotees who had gathered together for the annual Autumn Portishead Sai Baba Centre meeting, which was held in a hall just outside Bristol, in England. It has been edited, but only for the purpose of reproducing it in this Newsletter.
Yesterday, when I was mentally preparing myself for today's talk, the thought occurred to me that so much has been said about peace in the many functions held by the Sai Organisation this year that it would be extremely difficult for me to find something fresh to say. Moreover I felt sure that the other speakers today would all make the same points about peace that I would want to make and so much that I would say would probably be superfluous. Then my inner voice spoke to me very clearly and said that the title of my talk to you today should be 'Go Within' and so that is what you are going to get! Of course I should not be surprised at this sort of thing happening because this process of choosing the subject for a talk has taken place many times before.
I recently did a wonderful interview with Anil Kumar, who is Sai Baba's main interpreter. As some of you might know, my wife and I produce the Ramala Centre Newsletter and in our next issue, which comes out in about two weeks time, you can read a transcript of the interview with Anil Kumar. One of the questions that I asked Anil was "What is the greatest manifestation that you have ever seen Swami do?" Without hesitation he replied "Speak through me". He then went on to say "You know, when Swami first called on me to speak he asked me, without any prior warning, to get up and to speak inside the Poornachandra Hall in front of a large audience and I just had to talk. However once I realised that Swami was going to do that, I got clever and began to prepare my speeches in advance. I prepared a speech about wisdom but, of course, Swami then asked me to talk about devotion. When I prepared a speech about devotion, Swami then asked me to talk about Dharma. So it soon became very apparent to me that Swami was teaching me to rely on the force of God within me and this, in truth, is what I do with all my talks." The process is exactly the same for me.
As I stand here before you now, I really have nothing prepared. I just invite Swami to think, act and speak through me, which, of course, is the birthright of everyone in this room. I will warn you, though, that in the beginning this process does involve a slight test of nerves, because you have to trust the process and to recognise that you are not the doer or the speaker. However I can assure you that after a few such talks you overcome your fears and begin to trust the system and it really is amazing how it does work. As I heard the first speaker today talking about going within and the next speaker following on in much the same vein I saw very clearly that the great Organiser in the sky had organised all the speeches to flow one into the other and that my task this afternoon was simply to pull together all the threads in the final presentation. Hopefully by the time that I have finished you will have grasped the importance of going within.
What do I actually mean when I say, "Go within"? What is it that we are seeking when we go within? I remember that when I was in Puttaparthi, about five years ago, Sai Baba came out to look at some construction work that was going on at the back of the mandir some time after he had finished his formal darshan. After the inspection was over he came back into the men's side of the mandir and looked at the few people who were sitting there. Sai Baba was only about ten feet away from me. He just stood there for what seemed like an eternity but which, in reality, was probably only for two or three minutes, and he looked at us ever so gently and lovingly, rocking slowly from foot to foot. Then he raised both his hands and gave us one of his special two-handed blessings, with both his hands describing the familiar circular pattern in the air. As he looked at me I experienced true ecstasy, not the ecstasy of orgasm but the ecstasy of spirit. I realised afterwards that it was probably the greatest bliss that I had ever experienced. But why was I experiencing such bliss? It was because I was totally focused on the Lord. I was not conscious of my body; I was not distracted by my mind or senses. I was totally at peace with myself and was totally focused on the Lord. I was one with my divine spirit deep within my own being. I was just I.
Now I relate this incident simply to illustrate that when you focus totally
on God, on the aspect of God within you, that is the
time when you experience true bliss and, of course, you don't have to go all
the way to India and see Sai Baba in order to achieve this. You have to
learn to focus on what I call the omnipresent God, which is the aspect of God
that is within you, your divine spirit or atma.
Sai Baba says, "You are in me, but a little part of me is in
you." So you have to train yourselves to go within, to look within, to seek the God within you, the part of your being that is
never born and so never dies. My wife, Ann, is particularly sensitive to
Swami's hand blessings. She feels that they transform every atom of her
body and she regularly feels the kundalini energy
rising up her spine as he gives his blessings. That is the power of an
avatar's darshan. It transforms everybody and
everything. As you may well know, Sai Baba loves to tease and to joke
with his devotees. Someone once asked Swami in an interview what he was
actually doing when he moved his hands in the familiar blessing pattern.
Sai Baba replied "Well, when I move my right hand like this, I'm
uplifting the whole consciousness of the world, and when I move my left hand like
this, I'm keeping Indian Airlines flying!" What a delicious sense of
humour he has.
Nevertheless, even if we know that we have to go within, what is it that prevents us from getting in touch with that aspect of God within us, our eternal spirit? What is it that prevents us from being at one with peace, love, truth, right-conduct and non-violence, what is it that blocks this experience of bliss? As some of you may know, Ann and I now live in British Columbia in Canada, close to the American border. In fact we often go across the border into the USA to shop and to sightsee. About three weeks ago Ann and I crossed the border into Washington State to go to a lovely little town called Linden. Linden has a strong Dutch heritage. There's a real windmill in the main street of Linden, which has been converted into a hotel and Dutch names are to be found everywhere. We went to visit the county fair that was on there, a big agricultural show. In the main arena there was a stage on which various cultural events took place each day of the fair. Now it just so happened that when I was there a hypnotist was putting on his show. I am usually not very interested in hypnotism, because there is something in me that doesn't want to surrender my mind to anyone, but something made me stay and watch this demonstration.
The hypnotist took about twenty people up on to the stage and then weeded out a few of them who apparently weren't susceptible to his form of hypnotism. He then began his demonstration. After assuring them that he wasn't going to do anything harmful or degrading to them he put them all to sleep through some hypnotic technique. He then demonstrated that he had total control over them by making them do things that they normally wouldn't do. For example, he told them under hypnosis that he was going to walk around in front of them but that he had a large tear in his trousers and that when he bent over you could see his bottom. Then he woke them up and began walking around in front of them on the stage. Whenever he bent over the women subjects covered their faces in embarrassment and the men subjects laughed and pointed at him. Of course his trousers weren't split. It was all in their minds. Then he did another demonstration. He put them to sleep again and held in his hands a wad of paper napkins. He told his subjects that he had a wad of $100 bills in his hand and that provided they could hide the bills in their clothes they could have as many as they liked! He walked around his subjects, both men and women, handing out paper napkins and they were stuffing these napkins into their clothes like there was no forever. They couldn't believe their luck! Finally, holding a plastic bag full of bottle tops, he said to one man "Look, I've got a bag full of silver quarters here and you can have them, provided you stuff them down the front of your trousers." We watched the gentleman in question do this with alacrity. Then the hypnotist said "Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you that they've been in the deep freeze all morning and ……". Would you believe it, the gentleman began hopping up and down as though he had a block of ice between his legs! Now what is the purpose of telling this story? What does it all prove? It shows how much we are controlled by our subconscious minds. If a hypnotist can put these thoughts into these people's minds and in a few seconds can make them believe that they are real, how much more do we programme our subconscious minds with our everyday thoughts and experiences.
Some of you will have heard of ISAP - The Inner Self Awareness Programme - that has been developed here in the UK. This wonderful course deals very thoroughly with the whole business of the conscious and the subconscious mind and of how we unconsciously respond to old patterns, old beliefs and old understandings. From the moment that we are born, we start conditioning ourselves. What we are our taught by our parents, by our teachers, by society as a whole, by all our experiences of life, all goes into our subconscious mind and creates an 'identity' which blocks the understanding of the spirit with which we incarnated. Do you know that a young child doesn't know its colour or race or what that means in society until an adult points out that fact to the child? A child is more in touch with its spirit than an adult because there are fewer conditioning experiences blocking its divine connection. As we become adults, so we lose that connectedness with our inner self, the aspect of God within us. Above all we lose our sense of oneness, of connectedness to everyone and to everything. The symbol of ISAP is the shutter that covers the lens of the camera. The shutter, made up of differing segments (past experiences), covers the lens (spirit). So what we have to do is to open the shutter, to put aside our conditioning of this life, to reveal the force of God that moves within us. It is not something that is deliberately hidden from us. It is our birthright. It is what we are; eternal, infinite, spiritual beings. All the great spiritual teachers have taught 'Look within, for there is the Kingdom of God.'
Now Sai Baba is a great mould crusher. One of the reasons that he has come on Earth is to help us to break the mould of who or what we think we are. I, personally, had a very difficult relationship with Swami for the first four or five years after hearing about him because the esoteric tradition that he represented appeared to conflict with mine. As the saying goes, he really rattled my cage. It was because of this that my wife had to drag me out to India, protesting strongly, to go to see Sai Baba. I really didn't want to go and see any Indian guru, let alone one who was said to be God on Earth. There was a part of me that said, "I just don't need this. I've worked out a very good understanding of the nature of God and the purpose of life and I don't need anyone playing around with it!" Well, of course, you go out to see Sai Baba, you stand in his transforming energy and you feel the power of his unconditional love. Even though he totally ignored me, thus giving me the time and the space to work through all my doubts and fears, he was still working on me. I like to use the analogy of a time-release capsule. Sai Baba planted a time-release capsule of knowledge and wisdom within me, which over the months and years after my visit slowly released spiritual understandings within me, which enabled me to grasp the vital essence of his divine message. His teachings were soon echoing inside my head. There is only one God and that God is omnipresent. You are God; you are no different from God. Love all, serve all. The reason why you incarnate on the Earth is to transmute your karma. Everything that happens to you is of your own creation. There is no such thing as evil. The purpose of life is to seek and get liberation. Such concepts were strange to me before I came in contact with Sai Baba. I was brought up in the Christian belief that Man is on Earth and God is in Heaven, that Man was born out of sin and that God had to send His only son down in order to communicate with Man and to save him from himself. But Sai Baba was saying the very opposite to this, that God is within me, that I am no different from God and, as such, that I am a perfect eternal being that knows neither birth nor death.
Over the fifteen or so years that I have been in contact with Sai Baba I have gradually drawn closer and closer to him. My wife and I have been privileged to have many interviews with him and we have begun to form a close relationship with him. Nevertheless, both we and many other devotees of long standing have lately been going through a very difficult period because Sai Baba has been ignoring us on the physical level in a definite attempt to wean us off his physical form. Over the years we've grown very comfortable with and accustomed to his form. I'm always joking that my wife is a founder member of the MTF club, which is the Must Touch Flesh club! Whenever she gets near Swami, poor man, she wants to hold his hand, to massage his feet, to mother him, to get very close to him. As a reserved Englishman I sit back and watch this whole process with some amusement. However she has developed a very close relationship with Swami. He looks at all her photographs, he listens to all her stories, he answers all her questions about family matters. They have a wonderful rapport and yet, over the past two or three years, there's been a distancing, a drawing back, a withdrawal of physical contact by Sai Baba.
We recently went down to a retreat in Grants Pass in Oregon, in the USA, where we met Jack and Louise Hawley, who wrote 'Dharmic Management', and Joy and Raye Thomas, who have written many books about Sai Baba and have even lived full time in his ashram. At the retreat they both talked about the same subject - the difficulty they're experiencing as Sai Baba withdraws his physical contact from them. Now Jack Hawley spends several months of the year in India with Swami, he's been inside Swami's private house on many occasions, but Swami hasn't talked to him in a year and a half. In fact, he's ignored him. Jack was relating as to how difficult he found this at first, as to how he went though all sorts of feelings of rejection, feelings that he wasn't good enough, that he'd done something wrong. Suddenly, however, he began to realise that this process was a gift from Swami, since it was forcing him to contact the Sai Baba within rather than the Sai Baba without. Joy Thomas spoke in much the same vein. She had to suffer an apparent rejection by Sai Baba in front of a large crowd at darshan. Her group was called in for an interview. They all went up to the veranda to go inside, but Swami let the whole group in except her! He closed the door with Joy still outside and she had to walk back to her place in front of thousands of people. That is a very, very difficult test to face but, again, it forced Joy to go within. The reason why Sai Baba did it, or so Joy said, was because he had been appearing to her regularly in her dreams, telling her things. She wanted to know if her dreams were genuine, if what he was saying was accurate. This was Sai Baba's way of telling her to believe her own experience. He was saying "I come to you within, listen to what I'm saying."
When we were last in Puttaparthi we met Phyllis Krystal the authoress of several books about Sai Baba including 'Sai Baba: The Ultimate Experience' and 'Cutting the Ties that Bind'. Sai Baba set the stage for her lesson during the first visit that she and her husband made to the ashram in 1973. During their farewell interview Phyllis asked Sai Baba when he would like her and her husband to return. He looked intently at her and, pointing at himself, he then said "First you must remember that you don't need to come back to see this little body." After a significant pause he then said to her "Find me in your own heart." Then, after another pause, as Phyllis accepted and understood his message, he continued "But you will return to be re-energised." Many years later he emphasised this message again in a very dramatic way, one that many people could observe. On the day that she was to leave for home, after previously assuring her on several occasions that he would see her before she left, he had still not called her in for the promised interview. Darshan came and went but as he walked back to his quarters after bhajans Sai Baba abruptly stopped in front of her and said in a loud voice, for all to hear, "Go inside, right now" and turning to a friend of Phyllis who was sitting next to her he said "And you too." They were both puzzled at first, thinking that he meant for them to go into the interview room, but then he added "Do", indicating to Phyllis that she should take padanamaskara. As she stood up to do this Sai Baba placed his hand on her head and pushed it down towards his feet inviting her to kiss them. This ended her 'interview', as Sai Baba then carried on walking back to his quarters in the Poornachandra Hall. He would not appear again until Phyllis was on her way home but she knew exactly what he meant because of his comments on that first visit many years earlier. We must detach ourselves even from his physical form and should strive to be connected to our own inner God-self. We have to establish this link with the God within us. We can't always be going to see him; we can't always be relying on his physical form for our mental and spiritual sustenance. We can't always be travelling to India to see him, to get answers to all of our questions.
So we all have to start relying on the inner God, on that still, quiet voice within. It just isn't physically possible for the whole world to go and see and talk to Sai Baba. We have to rely on the aspect of God within us, our atma or divine spirit. This inner being is who we really are, which is an actual part of God, and, as such, is one with God, is imbued with the qualities of God: Truth, Love, Peace, Right-conduct and Non-violence. When we tap into this being we can know the answer to any question that we ask. Sai Baba says that if you sit down and meditate and attune to the spirit within you the answer will always come within twenty minutes. The answer will always come. Now I know that it's difficult, in the world in which we live today, where daily we are faced with dramas and disasters and scenes of human suffering, to believe that the world is working perfectly, that everything that manifests is a part of God's Plan. Recognise, though, that what we are actually seeing is Humanity at its lowest ebb, the end of Kali Yuga, where it appears that the world has gone mad, where human values appear to be reversed, where bad is regarded as good and good is regarded as bad, where the world focuses its attention on the bad rather than on the good. Look at what is happening in the world today where all that the world's press appears to be interested in is the sexual peccadilloes of the president of the USA. Do we see the press making any effort to report on the people who are trying to transform and uplift human society? Is there anything positive ever written about Sai Baba, for example? Is there anything positive ever written about the daily sacrifice and service of people of goodwill who work unceasingly for the upliftment of human society.
Someone actually tried to start a 'good news' newspaper in England a few years ago, a newspaper that would report only good news, not bad news, but it folded within a few months. There is a part of us that doesn't want to hear good news, that doesn't want to focus on the higher aspects of life because it is attracted to the lower. Rather like watching a soap opera on the television, we watch the drama of life and we believe it to be real, not just a drama, and we become fixated with it. Sai Baba teaches that life is a game and all that we have to do is play it. We must never get sucked into believing that the game is anything more than a game, that the drama of life is real, especially since the drama is going to intensify beyond our wildest dreams in the next few years. We are approaching a critical time in the evolutionary process of this Earth. What is going to unfold only Sai Baba knows, but it is apparent that big evolutionary changes are coming. The seeds that Humanity has sown will soon bear fruit. Sai Baba will not be drawn on this point but he does say that Humanity will suffer 'irritations'. It behoves us to prepare for such 'irritations' and the best way to do this is by establishing a close link with the divine aspect of God that is within us - our atma or spirit. In this way we will be guided to be where we are meant to be, to do what we are meant to do and to say what we are meant to say.
Several years ago we published in the Ramala Centre Newsletter the story about a dream, which my daughter, Diana, had experienced. In this dream she met Sai Baba conversed with him and had an out of the body experience with him. He took her up above the Earth, to a position where she could see past, present and future, and showed her that all the suffering in the world was just karmic settlement and, as such, was all a part of God's plan for Humanity. He went on to tell her that there is no such thing as evil, that the world is perfect in every respect, if only because God created it. God is present within every human being, so how can we judge anyone. If we judge them, then, we are judging God! What is the source within us that makes the judgements? It is most certainly not the God within us, because God would not judge God. So it can only be the persona that we have created from our earthly experiences, from the times when we were separate from God. Sai Baba warns us not to judge this world or the actions of the people in it if only because of what happens every time we make a judgement. Sai Baba says that every time you judge someone, you take on some of their karma, you take a little bit of karma off them and put it on yours. So every time that you think badly of someone, every time you say negative things about someone, you are actually doing them a favour, because you are lightening their karmic burden but, alas, increasing yours! Keep that thought in mind the very next time that you judge someone. Sai Baba says that the more you judge, the less you love and the whole purpose of life is to love and to serve one another.
So we have to understand that everything that manifests in the world is all part of a great cosmic drama, a drama that was written aeons of time ago, if not before time. All that we can do is observe, react and draw lessons from that drama. I recently went to a seer in Bombay, who reads from some palm leaf scrolls called The Book of Brighu. Now these scrolls were written thousands of years ago and yet this gentleman was able to read the scrolls and not only tell me events about my life both past, present and future but also about past and future lives. Whether or not he is accurate remains to be seen but if he is, then, it is apparent that much of life is preordained or predestined and that all we can do is respond to it. Sai Baba says that what you meet in life is destiny, but how you meet it is self-effort. So we observe and take part in the drama but what is important is the place from which we view that drama. Sai Baba says that the colour of the glasses that we wear colours all that we see. In other words, if we wear red lenses in our glasses, then, everything that we see is red. If we look with the eyes of love, then, all that we see is love. If we look with the eyes of spirit, then, all that we see is spirit. If we look with negativity then all that we will see is negativity. If we look with positivity then all that we will see is positivity. That is why it is so important to go within. It determines the reality of what we see and, therefore, how we react to it and how we react to it determines our actions and, therefore, our karma.
God, Infinite Spirit, call Him what you may, is orchestrating this drama. He is the author. We are just the actors in His drama. Because He has written it, we have to trust that it is perfect. We have to trust the author. We have to trust the part or the role in the drama that has been assigned to us. We have to realise that since we are infinite, eternal beings, we are never born and so we can never die. Every death, every act of suffering, is not an act of random fate, of blind chance. It is an act of destiny. Therefore there is no such thing as a tragedy. As Sai Baba says, "Everything is perfect. It is just karma working itself out." In this certain knowledge, surely, we can be more at peace both with the world and with ourselves. Knowing that no one is born and no one dies we can accept the world for what it is, an impermanent, ever changing stage onto which, as Shakespeare said, we have our entrances and our exits. Remember that the spirit is never born, never dies and never suffers. It is eternal and infinite. It is the observer of the drama as, indeed, is God. When we are one with our divine spirit we are one with all knowledge, all wisdom, all power. It is at such a time that the drama of life is seen for what it really is, a drama!
Nevertheless, Sai Baba says that it is a great privilege to be in incarnation on the Earth at this time. Why is this so? It is, firstly, because we are in incarnation on the Earth at the same time as a full avatar and, secondly, because we have been blessed with the wisdom to recognise him for who he is and have been able to have personal contact with him, a privilege of which the beings on many other planes of life are very envious. To enter into the aura of an avatar, to be able to see, touch and talk to him, to have his darshan, to be able to hear his teachings directly about the reality of human existence, as we do at this time, is something that will not happen again for a very, very long time, if at all. So we are being offered an immense opportunity to take a gigantic step forward, to achieve liberation and to return home to the Source of All Life. Now just because you are living here in England, apparently far removed from Sai Baba physically, do not think that it is impossible to establish a relationship with him. Sai Baba's main teaching is that there is only one God and that God is omnipresent. He is here now, around us, above us and within us. Sai Baba says, "I am in you and you are in me" and he is as much here as he is in India, in fact anywhere in the World. The stories of his omnipresence are manifold and I do not need to repeat them here. The experience of Jack and Louise Hawley, of Raye and Joy Thomas and of Ann and myself are all one and the same. The inner Sai Baba is so much more accessible, so much more omnipresent and so much more powerful than the physical form that lives in India. So go within.
My lovely wife, Ann, who has had such a close relationship with Sai Baba, a true affair of the heart, is finding it very difficult to release the outer form and to go within. Sai Baba is being very tough on her. She goes to see him at Puttaparthi and is totally ignored. She sits there in darshan for day after day and Swami doesn't even look at her, yet alone speak to her. If we are blessed with an interview, it's always on the very last day, just before we leave and as we walk out of the interview room he always says the same thing to us. He looks deeply into our eyes and says "Remember, I am always with you, I am always with you". This isn't some esoteric statement. It is a fact of life. He is reminding us of the supreme teaching, that there is only one God and that God is omnipresent. At no time are we separate from God.
I would like to finish by reading an extract from one of Sai Baba's talks which, for me anyway, encapsulates all that I have said to you this afternoon. It defines why we are here, why the avatar is here and what our relationship with him should be. So just sit back and listen and imagine that Swami is speaking the words to you which, of course, in one sense he is, through me.
"Come just one step towards me, and I shall take a hundred steps towards you. Shed just one tear, and I shall wipe away a hundred tears from your eyes. I bless only thus. May your bliss grow. I have come to give you the key of the treasure of bliss, to tell you how to tap that spring, for you have forgotten the way to blessedness. If you waste this chance of saving yourselves, it is just your fate. You have come to get from me tinsel and trash, the petty little cures and promotions, worldly joys and comforts. Very few of you desire to get from me the thing that I've come to give you, namely, Liberation itself. And even among those few who do, those who stick to the path of spiritual practice and succeed will be a handful.
This is a great chance. This chance will not come your way again.
Be aware of that. If you cannot and do not cross this sea of grief
now, taking hold of this chance, when again can you get such a chance. Be
confident that you will be liberated. Know that you will be saved.
Go and tell all that you went to Puttaparthi
and that you got there the secret of liberation.
Many hesitate to believe that things will improve, that life will be happy for all and full of joy and that the Golden Age will recur. Let me assure you that this avatar, this divine body, has not come in vain. It will succeed in averting the crisis that has come upon Humanity".