| As promised, here are more details about the USA group interview today. By the way, there has not been a USA group interview for a long time. There were around 250 of us all together. (This is really a long email, but my dears, if you are an American, I recommend you read all the way through anyway, as this is for all of us, not just those in the interview. I understand tapes of this may be available from the Tustin Book center in the future.):
At lunch (around 11:30 am, Saturday) in the Western canteen, a woman from the USA Buffalo center came up to me and asked if I knew about the USA singing bhajans in the hall that afternoon. I said “No!” All she knew was that all devotees from the USA were to meet at 1pm at Roundhouse 3. There had been a bhajan practice at 10 am for a few devotees who had heard about it earlier. I was surprised that we would be singing bhajans with such short notice, as Swami is very selective about who leads bhajans.
I showed up at R3 about 12:45 pm. There were already a number of devotees there. Around 1:20 pm, the lady in charge (Girija) had us get into line. We ladies were a bit ragtag, but we managed to have a small semblance of order. The men went off first, then the ladies a few minutes later. Those who had practiced singing were supposed to be at the front. There was some confusion about this, but it all worked out later.
We arrived at the VIP entrance of the Sai Kulwant hall (this is the ladies side or back) and blended into one line to pass through security. Once inside, security could not decide whether we were to go inside the mandir or sit outside and wait. So, we started off going to the mandir, then made a circle back to the hall, then back to the mandir, then back to the hall. It was funny, going in circles! Finally we were told to sit at the West end of the mandir and wait. The singers who had practiced earlier, were in two short rows at the front and the rest of us were in several long lines. While we waited, Girija counted how many ladies there were (around 140). I finally realized we were not going to sing bhajans at the normal 5:15 pm session, but maybe a few for Swami after darshan. Canada had a group interview yesterday (Friday), maybe we were going to have one today? Wouldn ’t that be wonderful?
Around 2pm, we were led by security, row by row into the mandir, singers first. We took seats. By Swami’s grace I was not far from the front. After taking a place and a little shuffling and “move back please” to make room for the VIP ladies, I looked around. Swami’s desk (with microphones) was up front with a podium next to it (this was in front of the altar and to the side of His regular bhajan chair (throne). Swami’s red swivel chair was in back of His desk. Now I was sure this was a group interview and not a bhajan session. The men were already seated on the other side of the long middle aisle.
All of us were able to fit inside the mandir (very happy!). We sat waiting quietly. At 2:12 pm (there is a clock on the wall in the mandir), we could hear the darshan music start. Being inside the mandir, we could not see Swami come into the hall or what He did out there, but He probably did His usual – going down the main aisle or cutting across the ladies hospital/teachers section, going straight to the mandir. He stood outside the mandir door talking to an Indian man (VIP) for a few moments, then came into the mandir, like a breath of fresh air. It was 2:16 pm. He smiled at us. Then, He turned to talk with Dr. Goldstein for a few moments (I could not hear what was said. There was a fan on near Swami’s desk and, although it was very quiet, it made just enough noise to keep me from hearing much of what was said on the men’s side. He finished talking to Dr. Goldstein, then came over to the main aisle between the men and women. He smiled again and surveyed the group for a moment. I could see that His cheek was still very swollen, but not as bad as it was a few days ago.
Next, He walked down the aisle. He made vibuthi a couple of times, asked where some of the devotees were from and took lots and lots of letters. At the end of the aisle, He turned around and came back to the front, taking more letters - so many that He could not hold them all and several fell out. A lady on the aisle picked them up for Him. His assistants were about to come help, but He signaled for them to stay put. He was smiling and very happy. He talked softly to devotees along the way, so I could not hear all that was said.
After coming to the end of the aisle, Swami walked out of the mandir and into the interview room with the letters. He came back shortly, empty-handed. Then, He came over to His desk and stood behind it. All the windows and doors had been closed. It was quite warm and many of us were using our hand fans.
A floor fan had been placed to blow right on Swami. But, He asked Anil Kumar to move it so it faced the ladies – how sweet is that? Soon, I could feel the cool air and did not need my hand fan any longer. I hadn’t brought my journal. So I took notes on scratch paper and inside my bhajan book. Remember, I thought we were just going to sing bhajans – not have an interview!
Swami told Dr. Goldstein to start. So, he went up to the podium and started to express gratitude to Swami for this opportunity. Swami stopped Him in mid-sentence to sit down. Swami had such a lovely, cute smile on His face. There was some clapping, but Swami raised His hand to stop it. Dr. Goldstein continued his remarks. He said we were in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Being. We have the opportunity to discover who we are and why we are here. After a few more remarks, Swami indicated it was time for Dr. Goldstein to end. Dr. Goldstein asked if Swami would grace us with His divine discourse. Of course Swami obliged.
It was 2:30 pm when Swami stood up and Anil Kumar came to the podium to translate. Swami tapped the microphones to see if they were working (there was a chuckle from the devotees). I was not able to get all of what Swami said, but here are some of my notes (please forgive any mistakes!):
He started by calling us Embodiments of Love.
Many who are here have repeated visits here. You have spent a lot of money to get here. Why are you coming? You are here to experience bliss? Do you really experience bliss? No! Where is bliss? When we investigate, we can enjoy the state of bliss. We follow several spiritual paths and read many books, but no bliss. Are we practicing one or two of Bhagavan's teachings? Without this what is the purpose of coming here again and again? Many
things have been taught – the five values – in fact, what is truth? How many syllables are in the word “sathya”? “sat” is permanent. What is that? Life. “A” is food. “ya” is the sun who provides food. For this life, food is necessary. The sun is responsible for the food. Sathya means with the grace of the Lord Sun we have food. When read backwards it means we indulge in unnecessary talk and waste our time. Talk less, more sadhana. If you indulge in vain talk, how is it possible to do spiritual practices?
Then Swami talked about Buddha and how he stopped going to teachers and reading books and just decided to enquire into what were the gifts of God and how they should be properly used. The gifts are the five elements, space, fire, water, earth and air. We are not making proper use of God's gifts.
Why is the tongue given? For taste and speaking truth always. Are we speaking out sweet words? Are they useful? Buddha started sitting under the Bodhi tree. He started with good speech. Then he asked why are the eyes given? What is the benefit of seeing the world? He concluded that we must have good vision.
What is the use of talking? The merit lies in helping others. Next was good listening. See good, hear good, speak good. What is the fundamental of these three? The vibrations of all these three should come from within - a good heart is needed for this. The heart is the fundamental thing for all these. The current of the heart will help us see, speak and hear good.
After that comes, good feelings. If you don't have good feelings then you can't have good speech, vision or hearing. Pure thought is need too, and finally good work. With all this you should do good work. Swami then told a story about a man named Patel who had everything he needed, all the comforts, plenty of money. He sits in meditation. He has a friend who is a businessman from USA . The friend called for Patel, but Patel told him He’d come after his meditation. The friend asked, “Why are you meditating? Is it for money? Do you meditate for more children? For worldly pleasure? Patel says “No.” Then why? Patel smiled and said. I do not meditate for the worldly pleasure – I have lots of all worldly pleasures. I want that which God has – peace and bliss. These are God’s possessions. I meditate to acquire these. I meditate and pray to God.
So, what we should desire is what we do not have – peace and bliss. They are the gifts of God. These are not in nature. There is no peace – only pieces. It is only with God – nowhere else. Bliss is in God’s presence. Pray to God for these two – peace and bliss. This was the inquiry of Buddha. He prayed to God to see all good things. Seeing should be helpful – this is the message of Bhagavatha and Gita.
So what should we do? Do activities that help others. We should help those who are hungry. Our words should be sacred. We use harsh words. The tongue is so sweet – it should always speak nectarine words. These sweet utterances will come from the heart only. The heart should be full of peace and bliss. Make your heart sacred.
See no evil, see what is good.
Hear no evil, hear what is good.
Speak no evil, speak what is good.
Think no evil, think what is good.
Do no evil, do what is good.
This is the way to God.
These are the gifts of God.
Swami told the story of Buddha as he was dying. Ananda, his assistant was crying. Buddha said it was jealously because Buddha was in bliss. Do not have jealousy. Then Ananda realized he had not made anyone happy.
M = maya (illusion) – sacrifice illusion
A = Atma – visualize atma
N = Nirvana/liberation
What is the reason for human birth? To rid ourselves of maya. All are passing clouds. What is the use of life and education? Man acts like an animal — it is disgusting. Animals have a reason and a season. Man has no season and no reason!
The Vedas speak of five principles. We are missing this. 1. Pragjana – Constant integrated awareness. 2. Tat Twam Asi - We are not separate from God. I and that are One. 3. I am Atma Brahma. I am not man, I am Atma Brahma. I am I only. I am not separate. I am with God and I am in God. God is within.
The cosmic Self is divine. God is unity in diversity. You have to recognize this in depth. The one who wants to attain God – is he doing all this? No! At least do one or two. Help ever, hurt never. Help to the extent possible. Never use harsh words. When our hearts are pure and sacred, our words will be good.
You are One. Never consider God as separate from you. This “I”ness and Atma are not separate. God is above us, below us, within us. All spiritual practices should be practical. The results should not come and go. They should be permanent. Turn inward. Close your eyes. Everything is a reaction of the inner being (Swami corrected Anil Kumar when he said everything is a “reflection” of the inner being.)
J = Jesus
O = Others
Y = You/I
Think repeatedly – I am God and you become God. God is not separate from you. God is only One. Serve to the extent possible. Since you are in existence, you should serve others. No one else is separate from you. Never go by society, go by principle of unity, which is divine. Unity is divinity.
Why do we read so much? Are we practicing anything? Sai stands for practice. You don’t have to do a lot, but practice at least 1 or 2. Are we doing this? No! Do at least one. There is no need for publicity about it.
Do you love your family? Show your love first – this is first spiritual sadhana. If you see a man suffering – make an attempt to alleviate that – within the level of your capacity. Too much excess with make you mad. Discipline is needed for success. When thirsty, you don’t drink a whole gallon, one tumbler will do – you don’t need more. Everything should be in certain limits.
Many are misusing Bhagavan’s name. Misuse is bad anywhere. What is spiritual practice? When doing bhajans, do them whole-heartedly. Guru Nanak started community singing. All voices should merge as one. Join the community singing and sing the glory of God. If you like to be alone, don’t join. You can sing alone.
See that no one is hurt by your actions. Teach only good. For outsiders, explain clearly Bhagavan’s teachings – clearly, out of experience. In this world there are many devotees, but no one is on the proper course. Kill the amorality within you. This is spirituality – not just rituals. Kill the beast within. Humans should be transformed into the divine. Instead of all spiritual practices, we should help others.
The jewel in the hand is charity. Truth is the jewel at the neck. Speak truth that is the decoration. The jewel at the ear is sacred truths. Listen to these. Swami paused and looked at Dr. Goldstein.
Dr. Goldstein came up to the podium and put some questions to Swami that had come up during the Seva conference.
Can we work with other organizations (like red Cross, etc.)? Swami said let those organizations do their work. We will do ours separately – on our own schedule.
Can there be some set way (printed material) to present Swami’s teachings to the public? Swami said that we should just set the example. No material is needed. There was clapping.
At this point, an Indian man up front (sorry don’t know who it was) came to the desk and handed Swami a piece of paper with typing on it. Swami looked at it then, materialized a gold bracelet for him. Swami tried to put it on, but had trouble with the clasp. This fellow helped him get it closed. Swami then went back to reading the paper.
Swami stopped reading and said that in foreign countries, there are Indians who have been collecting money in His name and telling lies. They say they are building a temple or a school. These are all lies. Swami is not collecting money. If anyone asks for money - keep your distance!
Then Swami materialized a ring for another Indian man in front and said “perfect fit” as He put it on, smiling broadly (as did the grateful man).
Dr. Goldstein put another question to Swami regarding guidelines. Swami said each country should follow it’s own culture – no competition.
Swami said He is not stretching out His hand for anything. “I am not a beggar! (He smiled and so did the devotees, chuckling too.) “I am bigger, bigger! My life is My message! Follow what Swami says, there is no other way.” Anil Kumar was translating this with a lot of emotion and energy. Swami chastised him sweetly, saying the emotion subdued the message. AK put His hands together and apologized sweetly to Swami. After this, Dr. Goldstein went back to his seat on the men’s side. It was 3:30 pm.
Swami continued His discourse:
Respect people and don’t criticize, even if you are criticized. Be silent. Fill your hearts with love. There is nothing beyond love. Swami’s entire property is love. We are all shareholders in this property (clapping).
Wherever you serve, Swami is with you. Many have visited here many times, but there is no understanding of Swami’s teachings. Talk lovingly and respectfully. Non-devotees will become devotees by our example. If we change, the world will change. Pray for peace and bliss. Modern man has limitless desires but still wants more. Help the deserving man. Use discrimination when giving money.
In USA , even though we are a rich country, we are poor because we have desire (but no satisfaction). He who has much satisfaction is the richest man.(clapping) Swami asked if we had any doubts. No one said anything.
Swami said doubts are passing clouds and often come when we have difficulties. Difficulties are good for us. Troubles are for our own good. Don’t get worried or bothered by these difficulties. At times there is depression from disappointment. Think of difficulties as a gift from God and you will not have depression. Some youngsters have doubts. This is from ignorance. Be blissful all through.
As is the food, so is the head. As is the head, so is the attunement with God. These three are linked. Americans relish meat. Swami will not force giving up meat, but all thoughts are caused by the food we eat. A non-veg diet is very bad. There is plenty of protein in milk, curd and vegetables. Give up being non-vegetarian, smoking and drinking. Smoking causes heart and health problems.
In places like Singapore , Malaysia and Germany , the explosion of bombs for testing has made the water poisonous. Animals drink the water then, man eats the animals and gets cancer. Food pollution makes us sick. Doctors say cancer is rampant. It has been around for sometime, but not rampant. Doctors suspect cancer in everything. If you take pure and sacred food, you won’t get cancer. Pollution is the reason for rampant cancer – in water, food and air.
Swami gave us all a blessing that we should all live a long, healthy, happy, peaceful and blissful life! Share bliss with everyone. Swami put a rose in Dr. Goldstein’s pocket (he had come up to the desk), patted him lovingly on the arm and said “Are you happy now?” Goldstein (and everyone in the room no doubt) was very happy.
Someone up front (on the men’s side) asked Swami about the mumps – how much longer would He have them? Swami said one or two more days with correct diet. Like a dear family member, He told us some of the details about the mumps. Saturday was the 19th day. Tomorrow or next it would be finished. It has already subsided some today. The swelling began in the jaw. He wasn ’t able to talk or drink water. He cannot cure Himself or it would be selfish. There is no selfishness in Bhagavan.
At first there was excruciating, unbearable pain. Swami controlled it. He doesn’t have body attachment, so He was able to give the discourses and attend cultural programs for the conference and Gurupoornima. There is no holiday for Bhagavan, only holy days. These ailments come and go. In two days time it will go. His swelling was so much bigger earlier – like big fruit (orange?). (The devotees laugh because AK and Swami laugh.) Don’t feel sad, they come and go. Use control of thoughts.
A child was suffering. The school Principal sent a telegram to the parents. The doctor said the child can’t be cured – has to endure the suffering. Swami went by car to see the child and asked what the boy wanted. He said “to remove the pain”. So Swami took it on Himself. Like He did the time He took on the paralysis. He does not cure Himself.
Swami told the story of the woman who had three small children and had recently lost her husband. She had only a small income. She had a heart attack. Swami was in Brindavan. The woman was brought. Swami told the students, don’t be afraid. They took Swami upstairs when He took on the woman’s heart attack. The woman became fine. Later she brought her children to see Him. He had to endure the heart attack for 9 days. He did not move. But later, there was a total cure.
All avatars have taken on illness. These things are not recorded. All divinity does their duty. I am ready, ready! None will stand in the way of God! The routine goes on (at the ashram). The last 15 days, Swami attended every discourse and function. The doctors say take rest, but rest will not cure.
At 4 pm, Swami paused and Dr. Goldstein said “Bhajan”. Swami repeated, “Bhajan”, then sat in His red swivel chair behind the desk. We began with three Oms. We sang four songs, two by lead by groups of men and two by different groups of women. (The songs were: “Maha Ganapate” (the men started off with this one), “Guru Guru Guru Bhajo Guru Sathya Sai” (women), “Hare Om Namah Shivaya” (men) and “Sai Ma Tapita” (women).
Swami sat swaying to the music. After a few minutes, He picked up the paper that was given to Him earlier and read for a moment, then put it down and listened again. He seemed to enjoy our songs.
At 4:10 pm, Swami stood up and an arti lamp was presented with a big box of matches. He couldn’t figure out how to open it at first, but then found the way. He lit the lamp and threw the entire box of matches to a man in the front. Swami then walked out of the mandir onto the verandah. As He left, Anil Kumar got up and signaled for us to sing louder and with more energy. We did this and it sounded much better! We sounded a little weak before. After the lokas, Swami came back inside. He talked with the men at the front for a few moments. I could not hear what was said, but Swami was smiling and enjoying Himself. Then He motioned to a woman to open the door. A young lady got up and undid the latch, then sat down again. Swami motioned for all the ladies to go out that door. Reluctantly we took leave of Him, filing out and going over by the West end of the building where security seated us in rows for bhajans at 5:15 pm. It was 4:30 pm.
While we waited for bhajans to begin, Mrs. Shoury and Asha (Swami’s lead assistants on the ladies side), handed out packets of vibuthi (from Swami’s red basket – the one He keeps in the interview room) and a photo card of Swami with a prayer on the back (Oh Lord take my love and let it flow…”). I got three vibuthi packets.
At 5:15 pm, bhajans began. We ladies sang happily (I presume the men were in the same spot on the other side), still amazed at our grand good fortune. At around 5:40 pm bhajans ended and Swami came out of the hall, walking past us. He gave us a big smile and waved a blessing. He continued to smile at us as He walked down the aisle and turned toward the Poornachandra. He blessed one item, then left the hall.
A most incredible (and unexpected) afternoon came to a close. Much gratitude to Swami for the privilege and also to those who organized it.
At His Feet – Love,