WHAT ARE ‘innerviews’ or religious experiences? From what I gather there are as many different types of innerviews as there are people. Religious experiences are as old as mankind. The bible tells us of visions, revelations, dreams and other divine experiences, in which they have happened to the prophets. Moses for example, was looking after a flock of sheep when be noticed a bush on fire, but not burning. Suddenly a voice spoke to Moses, telling him to take off his shoes because he was standing on Holy ground. Then God revealed himself to Moses as “I am who I am”. The Buddha, after much searching came to enlightenment during three nights of contemplation. He saw his previous lives pass before him and had revealed to him the holy truths; the knowledge of suffering and the removal of suffering was also revealed to him. Jesus Christ was baptised in the river Jordan when suddenly a voice from above proclaimed, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with whom I am well pleased”.
More than a few Christian Saints have written down their religious experiences. Julian of Norwich, wrote with insight and vision of her religious experiences. This makes her a favourite today. Her expression “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” is now a beloved phrase. In Lourdes, Bernadette Soubirous had an experience in which the Virgin Mary, revealed herself as ‘The Immaculate Conception,’ and promised Bernadette happiness in ‘the next world’. Bernadette, was to receive more messages from the apparition; one led to the miraculous discovery of water, and another, for a chapel to be built in the Grotto. Bernadette’s experiences were recorded and people from all over the world came to the small grotto in Lourdes, for healing. Today, it is a pilgrimage centre for Christians.
However, spiritual experiences are not exclusive to the prophets, saints, mystics or even the good. Religious experiences happen in all cultures and in all religions. Prophets, tell us time and again, to treasure our inner voice. ‘ Our insights are a spontaneous gifts of grace from the divine to his beloved children. I’ve have chosen a few recorded insights or if you like, spiritual experiences to share with you today. I hope they will inspire and delight the reader. I would be interested in readers comments on this topic. Perhaps you too have experiences insights that you might like to share. Oh! please do!
A MOMENT IN TIME
“A few years ago, I was feeling rather low and depressed. My life seemed to be falling to pieces around me. I was laying on my bed trying to make sense of it all, when suddenly I felt a light all around me. The next thing I was aware of, was being taken upward towards something of intense brightness. From the brightness, there appeared a figure and a voice said, “Go in peace and everything will be shown unto you.”
From that day forward, I have not worried over difficulties. I know I am guided and protected. I believe I always will be.”
NECTAR OF THE GODS -Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram – 1991
“During a lengthy stay in Sai Baba’s ashram in 1991, I devoted extensive time to meditation. I rose at dawn to attend morning chants in the Mandir. (Temple). Afterwards, I would join the lines for darshan and remain in the Mandir compound until after bhajans. My morning austerities would end with a steep climb up the hill leading to the meditation tree. There, I would sit for around 15 minutes enjoying the peace and the gentle cooling breeze. This routine lasted for weeks. I never felt tired or hungry. On the contrary I felt elated. The elation increased as the weeks passed by, my often nervous nature disappeared and for the rest of my trip, I became utterly at peace with myself and others.
Towards the end of my visit, I sat for some time under the meditation tree. On one particular morning, I heard an inner voice say: “Stay always sweet – remember sweetness is the nectar of the Gods.”I am sure it was not my imagination playing tricks, because the phrase ‘nectar of the Gods,’ was unknown to me.”
– family member
ALL WILL BE WELL Heidelberg, Germany, 1973
“At birth, my daughter was two months premature. The doctors had only let me see her for a few seconds before she was rushed off to intensive care and placed in an incubator. The doctors told me that her chances for survival were not good. I was given a room by myself to recover from the shock of her birth. The little room was dark, dingy and cold. I remember feeling incredibly lonely and afraid. Suddenly, the room became filled with a presence. It was not a single presence but many. I don’t know how to describe accurately what actually happened – but the presence seemed to be sending me waves of love and peace. I fell asleep within seconds. I knew I was being looked after and everything would be well. It was!”
ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE
“For many years I kept African Violets. They were my favourite house plants. One day, I was admiring one that had made a remarkable recovery from over watering.
Mentally, I began to talk to it. Suddenly, I became aware of a tremendous feeling of love flowing from the plant to me! In fact, I felt that I became the plant, and it became me and that we both were one with the universe! It was a beautiful feeling. I suppose I can only describe it as a deep peace. The feeling only lasted for a few seconds, but was like nothing else I have ever experienced.”
-Meg Maxwell and Verena Tschudin from “Seeing The Invisible” *
The 50th Birthday Present – an Out of Body Experience!
Perhaps the most odd insight that’s happened to me, came on my 50th Birthday. Not sure if it was not a divine joke on this writer. Why would the universe have to pick my half century marker to show me in a most precise way, I was definitely ‘not the body’ ?
The 8th November eve, we had been out for the evening visiting Canterbury, Kent, ( U.k. ) This particular evening we had spent at a yoga meditation chant meeting. I remember even today, the chants were powerful. One lady in particular, chanted AUM over and over in a strong clear voice. For me, at least, if was a tad overwhelming.
We left around 10 p.m. and drove home. Turning down our street, there was an odd-looking truck outside our house. At that time, we lived in a cul-de-sac, where large trucks were a rare sight. Now here was one parked outside our house. (It was extremely odd.) I remember seeing it for only a short time on our arrival, for when I looked out of the window some ten minutes later, the truck had gone.
Nothing more unusual happened that evening and I went to bed. The dream preceding the OOBE, I will never forget. I was in a house somewhere, where there were bedrooms. I knew that one of the bedrooms in this dream belonged to my daughter, and on her bed was a bright pink duvet. At the moment of seeing the pink duvet, everything went blank, and the next thing I remember was floating on the ceiling above my own bed. I knew instinctvely that if I went through the ceiling to the beyond, I would not be able to return back to my body that was sleeping on the bed. Instantly, I felt an urge to return to that sleeping form below me. I willed myself to turn from my horizontal position, (I was horizontal and parallel to the ceiling) to a vertical position, and then willed myself down, down, down, back into my body. The moment I thought to return brought about an instant change in my body position to vertical, and instantly I was back in my body. The entry was through my throat area.
I awoke with a shudder. My whole body shook with the impact of re-entry. I still remember how bewildered I was. I guess the experience was the most unusual birthday present I’ve ever had. Not sure I want another quite like that! – But it was a valuable lesson…
I would really appreciate feedback from readers… thank you.
Meg Maxwell and Verena Tscgydin have written an excellent book on the subject of religious experiences. The book title is ‘Seeing The Invisible’ and is available in the New Age section of any large book sellers. The sale proceeds of the book go to the Alister Hardy Research Centre, which has in it’s archives, more than 5,000 personal letters, collected over 20 years.
This is an incident which took place in a Sai centre in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Sai Sadan celebrated the Guru Pournami festival in a grand manner in the evening of 20th July ‘97. In order to imbue the occasion with greater spiritual vibrations, the Sri Sathya Sai Sathyanarayana Vrata katha parayana, i.e., the reading of our beloved Lord Sai’s life story, was conducted, in addition to the normal bhajans. The “parayana” and bhajan went on, with more than the usual fervour by the devotees.
When nearing the conclusion of the bhajan (at about 8.50 p.m.) the Centre Chairman, Mr. Rai, looked around casually behind him at the congregation, in order to decide on who should have the privilege of taking the Mangala Aarathi on this auspicious occasion. He was gladdened to see Mr. Gul Gandhi sitting right at the back, in line with the aisle, leaning on the rear wall. Mr. Gandhi is easily recognizable, not only by his big frame, but also for his big heart and great humility, being an inspiration to many a Sai devotee in Muscat. Rai felt that he should take the Aarathi that day. However, within a few seconds he received a hand written note from his wife, requesting that she would like to have the honour. Mr. Rai then remembered that the next day was her birthday and he did not have the heart to refuse her this request. He mentally apologised to Swami and to Mr. Gandhi for having to change his mind and let the lady perform the Aarathi. Subsequently, before conclusion of the prayers he went to the kitchen to check on the Prasad, and again passed Mr. Gandhi sitting at the rear.
The prayers were concluded, devotees (who numbered about 80 when only about 35 – 40 were expected to attend) had their prasad (lovingly prepared and served by the Shakti Wing ladies) and dispersed by around 10.00 p.m.
Rai was about to retire for the night, when around 10.30 the doorbell rang and whom does he find but Mr. Gandhi at the doorstep, who wanted to know where the Guru Pournami festivities had taken place that evening! Rai swallowed his surprise and named the other center (about 15 k.m. away in Ruwi) where also the prayers were held, assuming Mr. Gandhi was asking for this information. Mr. Gandhi again asked him, “Where was it held in this area, was it in the Ghala center?”. Rai replied that it was very much here and invited him in. To further confound Rai, Mr. Gandhi then asked him if he could have vibhuti prasad. This, of course, puzzled Rai, since he had seen Mr. Gandhi at the prayer. He asked him to go ahead and take it from the altar whilst asking him whether he had not taken it earlier during the prayer. Rai was absolutely stunned when Mr. Gandhi apologized to him saying that he was on the evening shift at the airport and was unable to leave till around 9.45 pm, though he had made prior arrangements with a colleague in order to be able to leave early enough to attend the bhajan. He said he had reached home a few minutes earlier, but he felt (heard) Swami urging him to go to the bhajan centre (even though it was quite late) and partake the prasad there.
Meanwhile, Rai’s elderly mother, who does not follow English, had very kindly placed whatever prasad that was left in a plate and offered it to Mr. Gandhi who was reluctant to impose on them at that late hour. However, Rai convinced him that this prasad seemed to have been meant for him as nobody else would have it earlier. When Rai explained the details to Mr. Gandhi and even showed him the spot where he saw him sitting during the prayers, all that Mr. Gandhi could do after partaking the food, was to go straight to the altar and prostrate in front of Swami’s portrait. Meanwhile, Rai noticed that Mr. Gandhi was in his official clothes (Aviation Staff uniform) whereas he had seen him in white clothes earlier.
The next day in office, Rai was finding it hard to keep his mind on the job. He was convinced that he had seen Mr. Gandhi during the bhajans, but nobody else, including his wife, mother and other devotees he spoke to had seen him there. (This was also reconfirmed with at least 10 persons who had been present) While he was wracking his brains on this, his close friend and colleague Sanil, who had also been at the bhajan, dropped in. Rai asked him whether he had seen Mr. Gandhi at the prayer. To his astonishment and great relief, Sanil confirmed it, including the same spot where Rai had seen Mr. Gandhi sitting. He also added that he not only saw Mr. Gandhi but also spoke to him and shook his hands, before they left the prayer hall together. He did not remember seeing him after that instance.
Was it Mr. Gandhi or was it Lord Sai in his form who attended the prayers?
No one, who knows him, can ever doubt the integrity of Mr. Gandhi, or of Mr. Rai and Mr. Sanil. Furthermore, it was confirmed with the Duty Officer of Oman Aviation, Mr. Purushottam Rao, that Mr. Gandhi had indeed left his workplace that evening around 9.45 p.m.
It was none other than our Beloved Lord Sai, who blessed and graced the Sai center’s devotees with his Divine Presence, though invisible to all except the two blessed gentlemen and also in the form of another “blessed” devotee.
Why did he choose that form?
Nobody except Swami Himself can answer that question. We can only say, ‘it was one more of His leelas’.