When the Guru Is Gone – Sathya Sai Baba

Offering of Flowers To Sathya Sai Baba

What happens, then, when the guru dies or goes away? How do disciples cope with the absence of the one whose living and loving presence has opened for them the door to their own heart, the one through whom all reality has been filtered, and their own self understood? The disciples of Jesus, Palestinian Jews living at the beginning of the Common Era, and the disciples of the Indian Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, both Indians and Americans in 1970’s India, were both forced to negotiate the absence of the guru. These two groups of devotees,  separated by almost 2,000 years in time and more than 2,500 miles, in land mass, inhabited very different cultures. They told stories about their gurus that help us understand the evolving meaning of the body of the guru—both in its presence and its absence. It is an interesting tale of sameness.

In looking at what devotees have chosen to recall we come to see what the disciple community finds destabilizing in the guru’s physical absence as well as how that absence can be overcome; how the pain of loss of the “non-dual reciprocity” of guru and disciple is eventually transcended through a new understanding of the body of the guru. A process that many people face today while  recovering from the loss of Sathya Sai Baba, who many worshipped and adored.

In the Absence of the Body: Discipleship When the Guru Has Gone

 

An ancient axiom holds that when the disciple is ready, the guru will appear.  Much less is said about what happens when the guru disappears—and for this, disciples are rarely ready.  It is often a more traumatic event than the death of a parent or spouse or child, because the relationship between disciple and guru is of a different nature than relationships with parents, lovers, friends, or one’s own children.  While all these relationships can involve deep and selfless love, the love of the guru (in both the genitive and objective sense) becomes the lens through which the disciple understands the self, the other, and the world. And at least initially, the locus of this love is the bodily presence of the guru.

The guru not only shows the way, but is that very way.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is how Jesus’ disciples remembered him.

Abhishiktānanda, a modern Roman Catholic monk initiated into Indian advaita by his guru, Gnānānanda, writes that “Guru and disciple form a dyad, a pair, whose two components call for each other and belong together.  No more than the two poles (of a magnet) can they exist without being related to each other.  On the way towards unity they are a dyad.  In the ultimate realization they are a non-dual reciprocity.”

 

How and Why We Remember

Gospel scholars talk about the “messianic secret” that describes how Jesus in the Gospels tells his disciples not to talk about his deeds of power or identity as the Christ, but to keep these things silent. Scholars often interpret this “secret” as a literary device (especially in Mark) employed to explain why, if Jesus was working all the wonders reported in the narrative, all of Israel did not come to believe in him, or at least know of him in his lifetime.3

In collecting the early stories of Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass encountered a modern corollary of the messianic secret. He writes that it took a number of years for Neem Karoli Baba’s Indian disciples to openly share their stories of Maharajji (as Neem Karoli Baba was known) due to his own directive that he should not be spoken about to others. There are stories of Maharajji ordering the burning of a collection of stories about him and of his tearing up a manuscript of an article on him. Neem Karoli, much like Jesus, ordered those who witnessed miracles effected by or through him never to speak of them. In the case of Neem Karoli Baba, this reticence is certainly not a literary device. Can it be that for Jesus, too, the “messianic secret” was real—and not a device of the Gospel authors?

We have similar instances of both teachers rebuking those who would compliment or draw attention to them. When his contemporary, Deoria Baba, said that Neem Karoli was an incarnation of love, Maharaji responded, “Why, that wicked man! What does he know? Who does he think he is?” Jesus, when called “good teacher” by an inquiring outsider, answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Both of them were opposed having their deeds recorded, and yet their disciples felt the need to do so when they were gone.

Both maharaj and Jesus often complained that their disciples did not truly understand their message, or even who they were. Yet, in spite of the guru’s admonitions, the community of disciples feels responsible for interpreting him to one another after his disappearance, and for preserving/creating a body of material through which the guru will become known by others. The gathering together of such stories offers those who experienced them a way to process the events of the past and gives new generations the possibility of experiencing an awakening similar to that of those who lived in the presence of the guru. In theological language this is called anamnesis, a remembering that makes real in the present the being or event that is being recalled. Anamnesis is one attempt at making the disappeared body of the guru present again.

Now we have the same with Sathya Sai Baba, while alive he complained that his followers failed to understand him. He called himself an enigma, one who could not be known. His passing six years ago, came as a surprise to his community and left them in shock. How did they deal with his passing? On the surface, not very well. While some carried on just as before, holding on to their past habits and routines they had build up during their time with the guru, others floundered. Many left to find another guru or to find solace in a former student and imposter.  Although, I feel that a certain Anamnesis has taken place and the steadfast following will overcome the humbug following, in making  the guru’s Temple and Ashram, the guru himself.

 

Excerpted from Parabola: Where Spiritual Traditions Meet, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2012).

 By James H. Reho 

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The key is in understanding that the physical body is only an instrument of the divine. It is not forever. What was it that Sathya Sai Baba said so well ? “You are not the body.” “Drop all attachments to the body and its desires.”  I feel that includes all physical attachment to Sai Baba’s form also. ~  More importantly He said and I quote:  “At first, name and form are essential, that is the reason why Avatars come, so that God can be loved, adored, worshiped, listened to and followed, and finally realized as nameless and formless.” And to end on a happy note, a beautiful video of darshan with Swami to the huanting music of Secret Garden.  

The Meaning Of MahaSamadhi Or Shrine – Sathya Sai Baba

I am in your hearts,

You are in Mine.

Don’t be misled

I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. Sai Baba

You cannot see Me, but I am the Light you see by.
You cannot hear Me, but I am the Sound you hear by.
You cannot know Me, but I am the Truth by which you live. Sai Baba

Isaac Tigrett’s Krishna with flowers – beneath his flat in the ashram. The flat is now vacant. He has joined the Muddenahalli Group.

Sai Baba giving darshan during the 1980s under the old tree in Whitefield

Remembering Sai Baba during darshan

The term guru means one who dispels the darkness of ignorance. Gu means one who is beyond attributes (gunas), ru implies one who is beyond forms (rupas). This refers only to God. That is why the guru is hailed as Brahma, Vishnu, or Siva. Only God is the true guru. All others are merely teachers, like the teachers of different subjects in a college. Guru is the one who reveals the guri (target) to the disciple. Guri here refers to the Aathmic Principle. Picture taken on Gurupoornima late afternoon 2011 – just months after Sai Baba passed.  Notice two rainbows in the sky – they appeared after a storm about 5 p.m. that evening.

By the tree where many seekers sit to reflect on  the memory of Sai Baba – Prashanthi Nilayam 


What is the Significance of Sathya Sai Baba’s Samadhi? ~ We learned from Swami all the  important practises of an aspirant and how to achieve the highest from our practise.  One of the most important spiritual practises that one can incorporate into regular puja is daily worship at the  “jeeva samadhi tomb or shrine.” (Samadhi) The reason being that the guru’s presence is still alive, although not seen, but still conveying energy to all who seek. The shakti energy remains forever in the Shrine of a powerful teacher – much  the same as it did during his life-time. That is to say his energy radiated out to seekers through the  body while he was alive, but now the “same energy” radiates to all from His Shrine. Sai Baba is still working through his vibration,  much as he had done over the decades while alive. Today, Sai Baba’s Samadhi  has a concentrated energy force that permeates all areas of his ashram. Very much like  a vortex of a storm, this energy or shakti is far-reaching.  The uplifting vibrations are  apparent in and around the Shine, embedded as they are, in every nook and cranny of the immediate area of the Samadhi. The guru’s shakti has now become a forceful tool for enlightenment. For those who come to the Shrine to worship and practise, there’s nothing better than the vibrations of the late Sai Baba.

The jeeva samadhi shrines/samadhi of any great gurus can lead aspirants further toward their chosen spiritual goal. The most important first step in all of spiritual life is  awareness, thus the guru is the very one to point that out. Every human-being has the In-dweller source, it is the guru’s job to seek out our very own In-dweller, the liberator of our souls.  Often it takes someone with a powerful shakti to drive us inward to where the source of our being is waiting to be discovered. Our own In-dweller lays dormant until  we are awakened by the forceful shakhi of a true guru/spiritual director. Thus, the search for the In-dweller, the one without a second, is the quest of all living beings.

Of course, for seekers of material gain and those with desires, worship at the jeeva samadhi of their chosen guru can help take away their need to fulfil their desires, for they will focus on the inner life through daily practice. Thus the “material minded” may get what they seek for a while, but  are transformed over time into true seekers. There are “humbug” seekers always, and once the guru is gone, they will leave the ashram, due to lack of interest in  “inner work.” Spiritual awareness and worship at the Shrine/Samadhi is very helpful in turning our minds away from all worldly desires and soon brings peace and a true sense of fulfilment to those seekers who are determined. This is the importance of darshan at the Shrine/Samadhi of a great guru like Sai Baba, or others like Ramana Maharshi  Eve

 Madhusudan mimicking Sai Baba in his new C-ashram

Welcome To The Path Of The Heart

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I say welcome to the path of the heart! The journey within you! Believe it or not, this can be your reality. To love unconditionally and to come alive as never before! This path of love doesn’t go anywhere, although it is an adventure all the same. It just brings you more here and now into the present moment; to be in touch with every second that life gives you. To bring you into the reality of who you already are. This path takes you out of your suffering mind and back into your heart centre where the journey began long ago. There are countless ways of bringing you back to your heart and life without a doubt teaches you that.

 

my photo taken this year in the garden of rocks where there are several wonderful painted rocks. Here is one of Sai Baba. the garland, I could not quite place over the rock as I would have liked.

LIFE always gives us
exactly the teacher we need
at every moment.
This includes every mosquito,
every misfortune,
every red light,
every traffic jam,
every obnoxious supervisor
(or employee),
every illness, every loss,
every moment of joy or depression,
every addiction,
every piece of garbage,
every breath.

Every moment is the guru

Charlotte Joko Beck

The Stange Case of Madhusudan of Muddenahalli – Faith – Video

 

looking out over the darshan area, from the Mandir
looking out over the darshan area.

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Recent video of the Muddenahalli group enjoying holidays. Interesting footage.

 

 

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Madhusudan taking letters from people gathered in Muddenahalli 

exactly in the manner of the original Sai Baba

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“Oh, what a tangled web we weave When first we practise to deceive!”

A follow up on the Muddenahalli Team – two years on.

Curiouser and curiouser is the case study of Madhusudan Rao Naidu, the former student of Sathya Sai Baba and later colleague and friend to Mr. N. Murthy. Several years ago I wrote about the beginnings of the “Light-Body” phenomena, when it first became known to the public at large. I have never been able to quite understand how, at first, we were told stories that Mr. N. Murthy,  through dreams, was able to communicate with Sai Baba and to carry on the mission of Sathya Sai in a way most extraordinaire and beyond our ken! The whole idea that Sai Baba would be interested in carrying on a worldly sojourn from the astral planes just did not make sense to me. However, Mr. N. Murthy, decided he was the chosen one to take the Sai Baba mission forward and he explained why in detail, through a Souljourns video talk posted on line.  He spoke at length to Ted Henry about his amazing mission – for those of you  interested,  I have reposted it here.

Later the former student, Madhusudan came on the scene and proclaimed he was actually the one and only person to hear and see the “Light-body.”  (The astral Sai Baba)   and proclaimed himself to be the medium or “instrument” for the deceased Avatar! This caused many devotees to gather round him and pay homage at his feet,  or rather to the unseen Sai Baba who was readily available to Madhu – at least in his own mind!   The chosen venue for the darshans being Muddenahalli, the fourth branch of the Sri Sathya Sai University way up in the Nandi Hills.  I am not sure that  Madhusudan can actually cope with so many former devotees of the living Sai Baba now gathering  at his  feet, or to grant copious blessings and give Godly advice together with the odd trinket or two that he can now manifest – just like magic!

After the group’s Kodaikanal visit during May 2014, the show and Madhu, the impish raconteur,  was up and going and in full swing. The senior group with  Madhu, were off on travels to far flung places, while picking up handsome donations from some of the richest followers of the original Sai Baba. I have to think how must life  be for this youngish man upon whom, everything depends?  He is responsible for a host of grief-stricken Sai Baba “hangers on” and is also responsible for the building/s of a new Sai Ashram in Muddenahalli as well as  grandiose building projects for the future – among them,  no less, a casino and a hospital in Miss. USA!  Can he still be sane with so much depending on his dubious connection to the “unseen and unheard deceased Sai Baba?” Or has he, in his own mind, morphed into a self-styled God man while using the original Sai Baba name also mimicking his mannerisms? I cannot say. I only know that Madhu is carrying the world on his shoulders and I wonder if he can stay the course without some mishap or two.

Probably by now, he has convinced himself that he is indeed a very special personage, the chosen one to carry on Sai Baba’s mission here on earth. I am beginning to feel “sad” for Madhusudan, the  “Sukshema Baba”  who has so much depending on his continuing performances to convince people that he is indeed in deep communication with Sai Baba, who has afterall, now been gone five years. Notwithstanding that the Sai world at large is scrutinising his every move and just waiting to jump on his case, when the vibuthi runs low and the luck turns thin.

Just recently Madhu and his group visited Nigeria as guests of a wealthy follower of their cult.  By all accounts posted on the internet, they were detained and questioned  by the police about their activities and were then promptly deported. I am not sure they actually were deported, although that is the story one reads from the Sai Org. letter posted on line and the newspaper article that appeared shortly after. ( Both can be found on line.)  I am not going into the full details of the offical letter or the constant flow of claims and counter-claims on both sides of the Sai movement, whether this is true or not. I  would rather not be part of that. I actually don’t want to be part of anything or any movement other than be by myself nowadays.  Still, I do have to wonder how long Sadu Madhu will be able to stand the pressure of being a self-styled Godman  – to be the  provider of solace, substance and miraculous boons  to all who need a surrogate guru  for the now dead Sathya Sai Baba.

My original post from May 2014 – “Speaking of Sathya Sai Baba’s Light Body”

 

https://saibabathepurnaavatarandi.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/muddenahalli-fraud-and-scam-talk-by-leonardo-pablo-gutter/

https://sathyasaimemories.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/speaking-of-sathya-sai-babas-light-body-more-sathya-sai-memories/

 

http://www.news18.com/news/india/ahead-of-sathya-sai-babas-90th-birthday-karnataka-man-claims-he-is-babas-reincarnation-1167669.html

 

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Speaking of the  Astral World –

The  Rudolf Steiner link I meant to provide is very hard to understand and long to read. I have instead, re-written the one paragraph that stands out.

The  astral being or the  soul of the deceased – on reaching the higher realms does not interfere or mingle with souls on Earth, unless in the case of possession or are earth bound.  There are cases where a medium might contact a spirit, often one not on the highest levels, to give messages to their relations of survival of death. However, these links are not ever strong and can only be sustained for a very short time. The energy of the medium  or instrument and that of the astral soul, would not vibrate for long on the same frequency. That is just not possible. There are laws that govern the universe and for those who are complicit to using them for occult reasons, they are unable to do so at will. The boundaries between the Earthly  realm and other higher realms are overseen by the universal laws. (The angels of Light.) Thus, the many types of  energies, (the earthly souls and the astral souls,)  cannot co-exist for long, due to the energy and vibrations of those on the light realms being very different from ours on Earth. thank you.

 

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“I call those ready to see me; of course, there are different levels of readiness!!” ~ Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi

 

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Indescribable Presence – Flowers For The Soul

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“God is without form, without quality as well as with form and quality.
Watch and see with what endless variety of beautiful forms
He plays the play of his maya with Himself alone.
The lila of the all pervading One goes on and on in this way in infinite diversity.
He is without beginning and without end.
He is the whole and also the part.
The whole and part together make up real Perfection.”

Sri Anandamayi Ma

 

All photos taken with a Lumix XL7 camera on macro setting. Click on each image to enlarge for details. thanks.

 

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Divine Mother,  “When flowers are brought to you, how do you give them a significance?
By entering into contact with the nature of the flower, its inner truth. Then one knows what it represents. ( The Divine Mother, from her timeless words on nature and flowers. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India.)

Gentle and lovely, flowers share their beauty with us and bring us a touch of eternal things. According to the Mother, each variety of flower has its own special quality and meaning. By establishing an inner contact with the flower, this meaning can be known. “Flowers speak to us when we know how to listen to them,” The Mother said. “It is a subtle and fragrant language.” As if to provide a key to this language. She identified the significances of almost nine hundred flowers.

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“It is intended by the word Presence to indicate the sense and perception of the Divine as a Being, felt as present in one’s existence and consciousness or in relation with it, without the necessity of any further qualification or description. Thus, of the “ineffable Presence” it can only be said that it is there and nothing more can or need be said about it, although at the same time one knows that all is there, personality and impersonality, Power and Light and Ananda and everything else, and that all these flow from that indescribable Presence. That is always the fundamental significance, — the essential perception of the essential Presence supporting everything else.” ~ SRI AUROBINDO

 

the Rose from the window box - today

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You Are The Universe – Philosophy

A little Alan Watt’s time.

Since he died in his sleep in 1973 at the age of fifty-eight, Watt’s interpretation of Eastern spirituality has continued to resonate with Western seekers. Although he read and studied widely and traveled the world interacting with some of the twentieth century’s most influential minds (D.T. Suzuki, John Cage, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and poet Gary Snyder, among them), Watts would be the first to say that, most importantly, he was on a de-conditioning mission.  I like the expression de-conditioning, it resonates with me! 🙂

Here’s one of my favourite Alan Watt’s quotes.

“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.” – From The book, The Essential Alan Watts.

 

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“This is therefore to say that the transformation of human consciousness through meditation is frustrated so long as we think of it as something that I by myself can bring about, by some sort of wangle, by some sort of gimmick. Because, you see, it leads to endless games of spiritual one-up-man-ship. And of guru competition. Of my guru being more effective than your guru. My yogas are faster than your yoga. I am more aware of myself than you are. I am humbler than you are. I am sorrier for my sins than you are. I love you more than you love me. There’s this interminable goings on where people fight and wonder whether they are a bit more evolved than somebody else and so on.

“All that can just fall away. And then we get this strange feeling that we’ve never had in our lives except occasionally by accident. Some people get a glimpse that we are no longer this poor little stranger and afraid in a world it never made. But that you are this universe. And you are creating it at every moment. Because you see, it starts now. It didn’t begin in the past. There was no past. If the universe began in the past, when that happened it was now. But it is still now and the universe is still beginning now and it’s trailing off like the wake of a ship from now and as the wake of the ship fades out, so does the past. You can look back there to explain things but the explanation disappears. You will never find it there. Things are not explained by the past. They’re explained by what happens now. That creates the past. And it begins here.

‘That’s the birth of responsibility. Because otherwise you can look over your shoulder and say, ‘Well, I am the way I am because my mother dropped me. And she dropped me because she was neurotic because her mother dropped her.’ and we go way way back to Adam and Eve or to a disappearing monkey or something.We never get at it. But in this way you are faced with that you’re doing all this. And that’s an extraordinary shock.

‘So cheer up! You can’t blame anyone else for the kind of world you’re in… And if you know, you see, that the I — in the sense of the person, the front, the ego — it really doesn’t exist, then it won’t go to your head too badly if you wake up and discover that you’re god.”

– Alan Watts

We Don’t “Cook” Easily – Spirituality

There is a story about an old Zen monk who was dying, who had finished everything and was about to get off the wheel. He was just floating away, free and in his pure Buddha-mind, when a thought passed by of a beautiful deer he had once seen in a field. And he held on to that thought for just a second because of its beauty, and immediately he took birth again as a deer. It’s as subtle as that. It’s like when we begin to see the work that is to be done, and we go to an ashram or a monastery, or we hang out with satsang. We surround ourselves with a community of beings who think the way we think. And then none of the stuff, the really hairy stuff inside ourselves, comes up. It all gets pushed underground.
We can sit in a temple or a cave in India and get so holy, so clear and radiant, the light is pouring out of us. But when we come out of that cave, when we leave that supportive structure that worked with our strengths but seldom confronted us with our weaknesses, our old habit-patterns tend to reappear, and we come back into the same old games – the games we were sure we had finished with. Why? Because there were uncooked seeds, seeds of desires that sprout again the minute they are stimulated. We can stay in very holy places, and the seeds sit there dormant and uncooked. But there is fear in such individuals, because they know they’re still vulnerable.
Nothing goes under the rug. We can’t hide in our highness any more than we’ve hidden in our unworthiness. If we’ve finally decided we want God, we’ve got to give it all up. The process is one of keeping the ground as we go up, so we always have ground, so that we’re high and low at the same moment – that’s a tough game to learn, but it’s a very important one. So at the same moment that if I could, I would like to take us all up higher and higher, so we can see that the game isn’t to get high – the game is to get balanced and liberated.
– Ram Dass – excerpt from Grist for the Mill.

Every Moment The Guru – Inspirational Quotations

aswamirose2 23 November 1926 – 24 April 2011

“Life always gives us
exactly the teacher we need
at every moment.
This includes every mosquito,
every misfortune,
every red light,
every traffic jam,
every obnoxious supervisor (or employee),
every illness, every loss,
every moment of joy or depression,
every addiction,
every piece of garbage,
every breath.

Every moment is the guru.”

~ Charlotte Joko Beck

 


 

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During the 1990’s, when darshans were daily and much more personal, I wrote down my treasured moments, knowing that time was marching on and that we were reaching the end of those special moments with Sai Baba. Here is  a glimpse into the  past from my old notebook of stories.

“On my second visit in 1991, a huge beautiful butterfly flew into my room and landed on the floor where it died. It was such a beautiful thing, the wings, of shimmering orange, red and black, glowed in the afternoon sunshine, that filtered through the small  window. The size of a small bird, the butterfly had unusual markings on its wings. It was too beautiful to die, I thought, ’something like that should live forever’.  I could not bring myself to remove the dead butterfly from the floor, I left it there and went to darshan. While seated for darshan, I glanced round at the ladies seated near me, all of them resembled colourful butterflies. Their saris looked every bit as beautiful and shimmering as the butterfly wings. The afternoon passed, as usual, with Sai Baba giving darshan, taking letters, throwing sweets, and taking people for interviews. It seemed to me, at the time, this would last forever.


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Returning to the room after darshan, I was shocked to see that the dead butterfly on the floor had already lost its lustre and was being eaten by ants. In just a few hours, it had been reduced from its previous luminance form of radiance, to a crumbling mass of dead cells. It was sad to see, although the lesson of the butterfly had not been lost on me. We only have so much time when we are young and life is a dream. Old age, loss of health and death are inevitable. We fall and die just like that butterfly. Best to use our time well, because who knows what  tomorrow will bring.”