The World As Sacrament – Faith

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FROM MY HOUSE TO YOUR HOUSE, WISHING YOU ALL A BLESSED EASTER…

 

THE WORLD AS SACRAMENT

“The whole universe is a sacrament, which mirrors the divine reality. Each created thing, though nothing in itself, is of infinite value and significance, because it is the sign of a mystery which is enshrined in the depths of its being. Every human being is not merely an isolated individual carried along on the flux of time an doomed to extinction, but a member of a divine society, working out its destiny in space and time and subject to all the tragic consequences of subservience to the material world, but destined to transcend the limitations of time and space and mortality, and to enter into that fullness of life where there shall be ‘neither mourning nor weeping nor pain any more’. The suffering of this world can have no meaning as long as we attempt to judge it in the light of this present time. We are like people who hear snatches of music, which they have no means of relating to the symphony as a whole. But when we have passed beyond the conditions of the present life we shall then have that integral knowledge in which the whole is known in every part, and every past is seen to mirror the whole.”

– Fr Bede Griffiths, ESSENTIAL WRITINGS (ISBN 9781570752001)

 

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Baba’s Last Blessing To His Devotees – Sathya Sai Memories

from a friend:

“Baba’s ‘death’ is beginning to hit me now. Today on indian tv they showed a photo of Baba putting up both His palms in “Namaste”, on March 25, His last day of darshan in SK Hall.  I remember Him putting his hands together like that, when I was there that last March Week.  I was shocked at seeing Him offer namaste  to us all. I forgot about it for the weeks He was in the hospital. Today, when i remembered it, i realised it was the magnificently casual Baba saying ‘Goodbye’. I didn’t understand it then, but I  do today. It brings tears to my eyes. My only friend in the Cosmos had tried to tell me that He was going away for good and that was it !!!!”

Sai ram

for all the devotees who are feeling the loss of Baba, here is a last blessing photo for you to keep close to your heart

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

Blessed Prasad – Sathya Sai Memories

“There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven –
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.”

– Ecclesiastes, 3:1-2

Swami giving His blessed Prasad

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Swami…

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A very long time ago while living in UK I wrote “Prasad the Guru’s Grace“. I remember at the time I wrote it, there were still blessed sweets in my filing cabinet. I kept the extra sweets there in a hidden place.  From time to time, I’d look at them  remembing the  previous visit to Sai and the moments of joy, when the  sweets were thrown. I’d always done well with blessed sweets, often coming away with handfuls… Those years were some of the best in my life. I doubt  if ever I will forget them.  Although prasad is a gift from the guru, life itself is  prasad if we look around us and count our blessings.


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Blessed Prasad

Many times during Swami’s Darshan, I’ve received blessed Prasad. Excited devotees would buy an assortment of delicious sweets, place them on a shiny silver platter and carefully decorate the offering with an abundance of colourful flowers. Often, by the side of the sweets, lay packets of tiny golden lockets, letters and deity statuettes all lovingly arranged for Sai’s attention.

Usually, the determined devotees would wait for days for a suitable seating position where Swami could bless the platters. This would mean re-arranging the sweets, and improving on their floral skills, until finally, each platter resembled a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Often, the devotee’s efforts received Swami’s blessings. He would walk along until he reached a superbly decorated platter, stop, look and bless the sweet offering. While doing so, he would take large handfuls of the delicious selection and throw them over the seated devotees. With loud aahs! and whoops of joy, and small gestures of gratitude, the sweets would be accepted and passed around to others, or sometimes kept for loved-ones and friends.

I remember many wonderful moments with Swami as he blessed sweets. Frequently, he would throw them high into the air and one would land on my head, chin, or nose. His favourite target seemed to be my headband. Once, a sweet lodged itself between the folds of my shawl, and not until I stood to leave, did it fall on to the floor where I could retrieve it. But mostly, sweets would simply land in my lap or even beneath my cushion; how they found their way there, I’ll never know. But always, I felt elated when a blessed sweet came my way. I would keep my precious catch until a quiet moment, then eat it, slowly savouring the delicate flavour.

On one occasion in 1992, when seated in the front line at Prasanthi Nilayam, Swami came along and playfully tossed sweets to those seated all around, but missed me altogether. It had been one of those days when I had felt less than happy with myself and therefore, undeserving of a blessed sweet. Mentally, I expressed to Swami that I didn’t deserve one.

Immediately, he turned and tossed, with determined accuracy, a large toffee. The missile landed with a loud thud on my head, shattering the silent moment. This of course, left me startled, because he had read my thoughts!


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Summer, 1995

During my summer visit last year, Swami blessed my sweet platter for the last time. I remember the occasion well, for he had playfully thrown the sweets back at me! I had not been successful on my first attempt, for a very bewildered Swami had been offered three platters, all at the same time. He had chosen just one.

On another afternoon, I’d taken my sweets to darshan and again had been unlucky. Fortunately, on my third attempt, I was lucky enough to be seated near the verandah passage. I patiently waited through the hot afternoon until after Bhajans when he would walk back to the Poornachandra Hall.

When bhajans were over, Swami came from the temple and began his stroll along the aisle, where I anxiously sat hoping for his attention. He spotted my platter and indicated for me to hold it up high. I immediately did so, and he, playfully picked up just a few of the assortment and threw them back at me! I looked up to express my thanks, and caught him smiling from ear to ear. I noticed the luminescence of his dark eyes, and felt the immense heat radiating from him by his nearness (a characteristic not often discussed by Sai writers or devotees).

As he continued his walk down the aisle, I felt such deep gratitude, I wanted to share the blessed sweets with everyone.

As I began to joyously distribute the sweets, a lady sitting behind quietly refused the offering. I couldn’t believe it! She had been sitting there for hours, but now didn’t want a blessed sweet. I began to recalled a similar situation a week earlier, when I too, had refused one.

On that particular occasion Swami had not thrown sweets, only blessed them. The lucky recipient had offered sweets to those sitting nearby. Somehow, one had been offered to me, but I refused. I don’t know why, perhaps because he had not thrown it directly to me.

Now sitting there with my blessed platter, and painfully feeling the rejection of my offering I instantly regretted not accepting the blessed sweet from the previous week: for it is in the giving and receiving, we truly show our appreciation of one another.

Blessed sweets are PRASAD a gift from the Guru; a gift that has the power to change our lives. When a master gives food to his devotees, he is in fact, giving of his energy. If we take Prasad with this understanding, it can gladden our lives and bring us closer to him.

Blessed Prasad takes away all sorrows, all miseries, and it calms down the heart completely


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Here is a small story about the power of Prasad:

Once a young man came to the ashram of a master, because he was suffering from despair. It really didn’t matter what he did, the despair continued to plague his life. Eventually he prayed for it to be taken away, but nothing happened and the despair and suffering it brought now intensified.

A woman devotee tried to comfort the lad, and having received some blessed food, she broke it into pieces and gave some to him.

He ate a small piece of the food slowly and deliberately, when he had finished, he found to his amazement the despair had disappeared. He felt completely well.

No matter how we receive Prasad, or what form it takes, be it sweets directly given to us by the Guru, or blessed food shared with us by others, it is always full of Divine Energy. Having accepted such blessings, we accept the Guru’s grace. The secret is to appreciate it.

A week after Swami blessed my sweet platter in 1995, he stopped blessing sweets altogether – a delightful sharing of joy, now truly missed.

I am writing this piece to thank Sri Sai Baba for the many beautiful occasions, when he threw playfully, lovingly and sometimes tenderly, his beloved Prasad. I will miss those shiny silver platters full of sweets – dreadfully.


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On my way to Heathrow airport in Novemeber 2012, to catch the plane to Bangalore. I stopped to take photos in an English garden centre.. I love to to take photos of the small animal sanctuary there, particularly in winter time. I took about twenty photos.  I had no idea until much later when  I showed this photo to a friend in Puttaparthi, of  the remarkable  “Sai image”  in this photo.. My friend said, “Do you see Swami there?” I answered, I had not noticed. She pointed to the trees, “there,” she said.. Do you see Swami in the trees?

‘Honesty Pays’ A Sai Experience From Brindavan, 1990’s – Sathya Sai Memories

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A Magical Time

During the early 1990’s Brindavan Ashram was a mystical place. The stage area where Swami sat for bhajans, use to be dripping with exotic flower arrangements. Even devotees offerings of rose and Jasmin garlands , were accepted and placed upon the Ganesha Statue, just beneath the stage area.

A beautiful statue of the Goddess Saraswathi stood  just outside the hall. People use to place garlands  at  her feet.  I, too, use to leave roses there as a token of  gratitude.  Although the old Darshan Tree had been cut down, the new Sai Ramesh Hall, held a certain charm. The placement of ‘blocks’ around the hall, provided us with  close darshan of Sai.  He often strolled around each block where everyone could see him.  In the early days of The Sai Ramesh Hall, Swami gave Darshan twice  a day. He sometimes entered the Sai Ramesh Hall from the third  entrance, towards the back,  much to the surprise and delight of those people seated in the back blocks. It was an amazing time to be with him. And greatly missed.

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saraswati-whitefieldStatue of Saraswathi outside The Sai Ramesh Hall, Whitefield.

Taken from a memory written well over two decades ago

“Some years ago, while in Whitefield, I  joined a London  group for a very short time. When it was time for them to leave, the group decided to join the ‘leaving line’ fondly named the  ‘blessing line.’ I, too, joined although I had some weeks left before I had to leave for home.

A sudden prick of conscience made me reconsider my seating place. I decided to ask one of the Seva Dal volunteers if it was okay for me to sit there,  although I would not be leaving with my group. She answered that it was not and suggested I join the usual token number rows.  I left my plate of sweets with the group and found another line where there was just enough room to squeeze in the very back.

Fortunately for me,  the line drew a number one token.

Quickly, I retrieved my tray of sweets from the group members seated in the `leaving line,’  and followed the rest of the row one ladies into the Sai Ramesh Hall. Here we were placed towards the carpet’s edge and close to where Swami walked.

When Swami came out for darshan, he came over  stood and looked at the sweets, then blessed them.

On the following morning, I sat again in the token lines, while the remaining group members sat in the leaving line. Again, my line drew number one.  Amazed by this good fortune, I stood and waved to my group, telling them of my good fortune. One called over, “That’s what you get for being honest.”

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Another interesting fact about token line numbers is that when devotees ask for front position to have their babies blessed, sometimes they are refused. Swami, aware of their disappointment, often  gives them line number one at the next darshan.

A young lady, who was refused a chance to sit in the front at a very busy time in the Ashram,  drew number one token the next day. The baby received a special blessing from Sai.

Darshan in the Sai Ramese Hall -1990s

Row Number One!

Unbashful row one is something I treasure. I rarely had a chance to sit near Sai Baba and thus, a one number had special meaning.

One of my fondest memories of line numbers is 6th May, 1996, when I drew  no. one token, both morning and afternoon.

This poignant anniversary of the passing of Sri Sai Baba’s mother was celebrated magnificently in the morning; children sang bhajans and chanted mantras. At the end of the ceremonies, Swami accepted a little girl’s bouquet of flowers.

The afternoon arrived  balmy, bright, and festive and while a promising ambience electrified the hall, Swami, in excellent spirits, gave an inspiring discourse about mothers.

Sri Sai Baba teaches in a variety of ways and often his silent teachings are more revealing than any given in an interview. In particular, the token numbers make us ponder on the `whys and wherefores’ of our seating positions.

Of course, front lines gladden our hearts and we see him as Sai Krishna,while the back lines seem to indicate we are being punished. This is when we often see Swami as the  Shiva principle who moves among us destroying our egos.  But through it all, whatever the number, it is a sincere gift of love from Swami to his visitors or followers, at least those brave enough to accept whatever he gives. Who would trade such valuable lessons to be a V.I.P.?

– SathyaSaiMemories

Dreams – Sathya Sai Memories

“In this dream I saw myself at Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram in Tiruvannamalai. I remember having walked up to the veranda steps, leading to the ashram office. As I was about to enter the office to ask for a room, Baba suddenly appeared and came to greet me. I am not a devotee of Sai Baba, but found the dream ‘food for thought’. I think the dream may be telling me, that they are one and the same. ”~  Miss L. Canterbury

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A ball of orange light

“I once had a dream of Swami that was pretty awesome. He came to me as a brilliant ball of orange light and drew me toward it, like a nail to a magnet. I felt the light was asking me to join with it but I couldn’t. Somehow I knew it was Swamiji and he was inviting me to merge with him. I withdrew from the light because I thought I would dissolve or die or something. Anyway, I knew it was Swamiji and I understood what the message was all about. I feel the dream was asking me to merge with Him. ”

-devotee living in Prashanti Nilayam


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Stepping Stone Dream.

(A year ago I found my dream river with stepping stones. It is exactly like the one that appeared in my dream years ago. This is the Scroff river in central France.)

After a three month visit to Prashanti Nilayam in 1991, I kept a photo of Sai Baba beside my bed. I use to talk to the photo often.

One night I reached over to touch the photo, asking Sai for a dream. I asked that it be sweet.

I did have a dream that very night. I still remember it.

“My friend and I were ‘playing’ together somewhere near an old school or summer camp, when Sai came along. He beckened us to follow him. He led us down to a river, much like the beautiful river in this photo. The river, like in  this photo, had stepping stones. Sai guided us across the river step by step. Somewhere in the middle of the river, Sai disappeared! We were left there in the middle of the river on the stepping stones. I glanced around for Sai but he was nowhere to be seen.

I stooped down touching the stones, then put my hands in the water, asking myself, ‘ is this  Swami? is this Swami?’”

I knew, even in that dream long ago, that one day Sai would not be there physically to lead me, that I would have to find him in every living thing. And so it goes.  Today I do not have photos of Sai in my house. I prefer to keep him in the formless Absolute.

-SathyaSaiMemories

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Swami Gives Hope


I would like to share with others this significant dream. – 1997.

We had recently moved to a temporary residence while we continued to look for a permanent home. The recent move from a steady, established way of living into ‘near chaos’ had left us feeling very low indeed. Trying to fit all of our furniture into half the space of our old home and adjusting to an entirely new area had left us tired and pressured.

One evening in early July when I felt particularly low and my world seemed to be in pieces, I had a dream of Sai Baba. In this dream he was inviting a group of people for an interview, and somehow I felt I should tag along. I remember being the last person to enter the room and after I sat down, Swami closed the door.

I silently watched as he spoke in a light hearted way to each one present. When he eventually turned to me, He took my hand and kissed it, and with that olde-worlde gesture, commented, “You are having domestic problems now, but look on the bright side, they will go away.”

With that message, he blessed my box of incense sticks and continued to bless bits and pieces belonging to the rest of the group then the dream faded and I woke.

What surprised me most about the dream was the message was absolutely right. It belonged to the ‘now’, not the past or future as usually occurs in Sai Baba dreams. It had a comforting effect; I felt somewhat better and assured that I was being watched over.

– devotee India

·**•.♥LOVE♥.•**·life·**•.♥LIFE♥.•**


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Swami’s Halo – 1994 – Sathya Sai Memories

“Dissolve the self in the supreme Self as the pot-space is dissolved in infinite space; then, as the Infinite be silent for ever, O sage!”

– Adhyatma Upanishad

 

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One summer’s afternoon in 1994, I was sitting in the front of block two in the Sai Ramash Hall in Whitefield, listening to one of Swami’s discourses. It was one of those days when everything had gone amiss and I felt a strong sense of being let down. In this negative state of mind, I sat with arms folded in an effect to prevent further pain.

At the end of the afternoon’s discourse, Swami began to sing his favourite Rama bhajan, then instantaneously He beckoned us to join in the singing. The cheerful crowd began to clap and sing with enthusiasm – in fact the entire hall seemed to come alive and move with the music. But I stubbornly remained motionless – still hugging myself.

Swami, who was not far away, looked down with concern as I sat there still and silent. Then all of a sudden, the hall turned a misty brilliant white. I gasped and looked around me but within a few seconds the assembled crowd, myself included, were engulfed in the gathering mist. I rubbed my eyes and blinked but the luminescence continued to gather. As I sat there watching, the mist seemed to take on a life of its own. It began to thicken and intensify in a manner that seemed to reflect the joyfulness of the singing. When the bhajan came to its climax, I could no longer see anything as the mist had completly enfolded me.

At the end of the bhajan, I glanced up at Swami. He, too, was encircled by the mist, but to add to my surprise, a powerful light shone around Him. Not entirely convinced I was seeing correctly I thought to myself, ‘someone must be shining a very strong spotlight on Him.’ I peered around the hall for signs of extra lighting but there were none. When Swami turned slowly around to preform Arathi, I clearly saw at the back of His head, and unattached, a milky white shiny disc. When He moved, so the disc moved with Him, never wavering from its position.  It quivered with some unearthly luminescence.

After the Arathi, Swami began to walk away and the disc became more apparent. I can only describe it as a halo, but unlike those seen on pictures of Christian saints. Swami’s halo had a radiance that I felt was somehow charged by His divine essence. When Swami reached the door, both the mist and the halo disappeared.

The memory of that long ago afternoon is as fresh today as it had been then. Swami had given me a wondrous insight to encourage me during a time when I felt like giving up and it was – ‘LIKE THAT HE TAUGHT ME’.