Howard Levin visited India during the 1960’s and while on his travels, he heard about Swami from others who had visited his ashram in South India. Howard decided to visit Sai with a small dog that he had picked up somewhere in North India. Both he and his dog were to become part of ashram life. Howard enjoyed many interviews with Swami, also experiencing other phenomena that took place around the Ashram. I remember while reading the book, that during his time with Swami, Howard took a short break to visit Madras. During his time away he attended a Sai bhajan. He tells us in the book how astonished he was to see a garlands break and even more thought provoking, a flower ‘dance’ all around Sai photos… I too had such an experience when I attended my first bhajan. A garland of flowers broke and fell from Swami’s photo that stood on the altar.
He later wrote a book called “Good Chances.” Here are several accounts from those days. The first account tells us something about how Swami taught back in those days. The first account is about the sign painting.
When I visited Puttaparthi ashram during the early 1990’s, I noticed many beautifully hand-painted signs on stone were placed around the ashram grounds. Later they were replaced with black slab signs, with carved Sai quotations. These black slabs resembled tomb stones and looked dreadfully out of place in the pretty ashram of the time. Thankfully they did not last for long.
Here is a short story from the book, about the Sign Painting:
At one point during the sign painting, Swami gathered us around in a semicircle. He took a piece of chalk and made a line on the wall.
“How do you make that line smaller without touching it?” he asked.
We stood there not knowing what to do. He took the chalk and drew a longer line about it.
“You see,” he went on to say, “never try to make yourself bigger by finding faults. Rather, make yourself bigger by getting rid of your own faults. That’s best. Leave others alone.”
Another small story Swami told to Howard:
“Once a man had a dressing closet with mirror on the walls. It had six sides. When he was going away for a day, he locked his dog into the closet. The dog, seeing its reflection on all sides, mistook them to be other dogs trespassing on his territory and got angry.
He barked and saw the other dogs barking back at him. He leaped against the mirrors, smashing them into hundreds of pieces. In each piece he saw another dog. Finally he got so excited he fell down exhausted. “
Human Beings Are The Same –
“The man who sees his reflection everywhere and think it’s ‘another’ becomes full of anger and ego. He is no better than a dog. But the man who looks in the mirror of life and sees only his own reflection, he has wisdom.” He continued. “You must remember these days we’ve spent together. Now it is outside, next memory goes into your mind, then a permanent picture is there. When you all go back to America, if you think of these ‘good chances’ with Swami, it will be the same as meditation.
From Good Chances. Pg. 125
By Howard Levin