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  Volume 3 - Issue 3
MAR 2005


- James Sinclair speaks to Radio Sai on how Swami transformed his life

Excerpts from the Radio Sai Interview with Mr. James Sinclair (JS)
by Prof. Venkataraman (GV) in October 2004


GV: Sai Ram, dear listeners. Greetings from Prashanti Nilayam. Today, we have the pleasure of having with us in our studios Mr. James Sinclair. He is by disposition and choice a very silent person. The depth of his silence is the measure of his devotion to Bhagavan. I have a very deep personal regard for him. Firstly, I want to know how we should really be devoted to Bhagavan in an intense manner and yet still be immersed in the activities of the world? Then I would ask you to tell us something about how you came to Swami?
JS: Let me start at the beginning of the first question and work into the way not how I found Sai, but rather how Sai found me. The business of business and the business of life are one and the same - and to bring the infinite possibility out of any individual is extremely simple. It is the understanding 1) that the infinite possibility exists within you and 2) discovering a way in which that infinite possibility can emerge.

Now as to how Sai found me. As a young man I used to pray on my rosary beads. I felt very cheated. How in the world could I be so cheated that Christ lived 2000 years ago and here I am feeling lost and praying on my rosary beads? I had this feeling 'I don’t know where You are, I don’t know who You are, but I know You are… and I can’t find You - so You better find me.' My prayers were answered.

I had many experiences; the most dramatic was actually seeing Swami in my home in Connecticut. After having seen Swami a second time in my meditation room - and this time Swami allowed me to touch Him, He was as real as you are sitting across the table - I was now on a mission to find who He was, not even knowing His name.

GV: How many years were there between your praying on the rosary and seeing Swami?
JS: Well, the prayers were in the 50s and seeing Him came 30 years later.

GV: 30 years later! And you were praying all these 30 years?
JS: I was. To find God; to find what life is about.

GV: The second time you actually touched him.
JS: He made a motion for me to touch His Feet. Then I began to try and find out who this individual was. I went to a spiritual bookstore and asked the attendant by describing what this person looked like. He said, "One moment" and returned with a book ‘The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist’ by Samuel Sandweiss, with a bag of Vibhuthi and told me that he was a devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Eventually I found my way to India in 1985 - and that was the beginning. Because what I have learned here is not intellectual - what I have learned here is quietude. What I have learned is from the glances in His eyes, from simply breathing the same air, from being in proximity and finding out that His life is in fact is His Message. Recognizing that there is nothing to do except cease stopping something wonderful from happening. Knowing without a doubt that the business of life and the business of business and the business of family and the business of time are all the same.


How did you learn all this?
JS: When He looks into your eyes, this process begins. When He touches you physically, when He speaks to you, when He takes a letter from you, when He walks close to you, something begins to happen.

GV: Can I say that unless the individual is properly prepared, he will miss this experience?
JS: But Swami gives very simple instructions for that preparation.

GV: What are they?
JS: 'Watch' and 'Be Happy'. In fact this is so simple that it must be Divine, because humans make things complex. When Swami says 'Watch', I take it literally. That’s why He gives gifts of watches. Because it is a living instruction of observation - to stand back and simply WATCH - Words, Actions, Thoughts, Character, Heart. All the aspects of humanity.

Then He says, 'Be Happy'; which He defines as Unity with Divinity. The word 'Be' means 'is' ness. So if one would simply WATCH, then something would occur that would result in Unity with Divinity.

GV: OK. It is easy for individuals to be happy when there is success. But what happens when there is failure. How is one to be happy?
JS: Well, failure can be an opportunity. When you have a problem, don’t you pray? Don’t you hang on to the Feet of the Lord? So if a person wants to have a more even life, then would it not make a great deal of sense to hang on to His Feet when things are good? Because then the purpose of fear, the purpose of lack, the purpose of pain, the purpose of separation becomes less necessary in the human experience which only has one purpose. The purpose of humanity is union with divinity, according to Baba. The message is extraordinarily simple.

I am very much involved in business. But I firmly believe that success in the business environment is not a product of what you do but a product of what you are - and a product of what you are is a product of WATCH and Be Happy. I believe in treating my employees like a family. But even a father has a duty at times to be stern, to make decisions, to make corrections. So if one was to reward production and punish non-production, wouldn’t he be a good father? The business of business and the business of life are one. Success has nothing to do with how you strategize. Success is like air. It is abundant. You can breathe it in. I don’t believe in recessions and depressions - unless they are in your mind. Because if you approach life in the manner of instructions you receive here (from Swami), in their absolute simplicity, then I firmly believe that every listener will reach the highest possible destiny.


GV: Many people have suffered tragedies. Supposing an unforeseen tragic event befalls a devotee - at that time his faith is shaken.
JS: I also firmly believe in my life that every single event is a gift. Some of it hurts terribly, some of it is pleasing; but every single event in my life to this point - and I have had some shocking events - has done nothing to me, but has done something for me.

GV: But what would that person do?
JS: That person has an opportunity that he can either succeed or fail in - and the opportunity is to recognize that divinity knows better than humanity and divinity never hurts. Swami draws you here when you most need it and carries you through every single event, be it tragedy or success. I have not had a tragedy in my life because I know that Divinity knows a lot better than I know and so I don’t judge events.

I have experienced tragedy even recently and let me tell you it is all good. Now the body will fall down and tears will come to the eyes and there will be even moments of not knowing left from right. But there is a quietude deep down inside that if you can hold onto even in the worst of times - it will become the best of times. It will be an opportunity to grow, an opportunity in strength. In tragedies that I have had, I’ve lost nothing but I’ve gained everything because in the silence of His eyes, His life is His Message. Inside you grows a silence that will rise to the circumstances as long as you cease stopping it from happening.

Watch. Don’t participate in the thought. Be in the now. Don’t fool around with the past. We have heard that in His discourse two days ago. Past is past. The future is not our business. Our business is now. And in the now - only 'Watch'. That’s the gift that’s here. That’s the gift you can leave with. Don’t try to intellectualize it. Don’t take it apart in little bits and pieces. Feel it. Know it. Marry it. Be it. Worship it. But don’t try to understand it. Because understanding is what blocks and stops. A gift is being handed to you. Don’t argue with the gift. Don’t try and make Swami teach some fact or word, Mantra or Yagna, prayer or exercise, diet or whatever. Just keep quiet.

When I come here, I don’t have any questions - because who am I to speak to Him. I am open to the opportunity of an interview, the opportunity to hand over a letter or the simple opportunity of eye contact or simply seeing Him. I come here because my best friend is here and if I can’t understand anything else about Swami I do know He is my best friend, who has my interest at heart and He knows what my interest is. In gratitude for that why not simply follow the instructions given, going back to the basics of WATCH, 'Be happy', and 'Do good'.


In the beginning you just look - why should a thought be in your mind without your permission? And if you can’t get rid of the thought that is less than what would be expected of you, you certainly have the great ability as a human to only think about one thing at a time. So you could pick some wonderful time in your life. You might pray. If you can do neither, maybe you should clean something or do some work. But don’t dwell on a thought you didn’t invite. So watch your thoughts.

Character. How are you acting towards another person? Has it ever occurred to you that you might make amends for the things you have done to hurt others during your life, as we all have?

Your Heart. Are you feeling compassion? Do you really understand how horrible it is that nations are at war? That families all over the world have tragedies each time a soldier falls or a civilian falls.

GV: I have reflected a lot on the horrors of today’s society and I feel convinced that Swami’s Message is the only answer. And yet somehow the world seems to be not ready for it. Why do you think it is so? Why is man unable to rise above his negative characteristics?
JS: Because man doesn’t want to.

GV: What is the attraction for him to be in the gutter?
JS: The attraction of the gutter is excitement, power and greed. So in the world today, in every individual, there is both good and its opposite. It is up to the individual as to which of those two entities will rule the day.


GV: Sir, you are a businessman and I presume a successful and wealthy one. How does one be a successful businessman and not allow wealth to cling to him?
The madness is if a person worth 200 million US dollars, loses 1 Million, you have to take him to the hospital and give him oxygen. It is very simple. Give it away. And if you do, you remain vibrant. Because you are always young, because you have to make it again. My wife was recently deceased and gave her children their inheritance in their lifetime. That’s the trick. I don’t have material needs. I do my business because Swami told me to do the business. It is not my business. It is His business and He is not the body we see. But I do have a duty to perform, the results of which are not in my hands - but the work is.

Swami is kind enough, divinity is kind enough, that I actually like what I do. So I play a game. But how that game works out is not up to me. But what is up to me is to do the most excellent possible job, to treat everyone that I deal with with the highest possible ethic, to discipline wrong doing and to fight evil wherever I see it. And evil is very clear - it is hurting others. So I simply try not to harm. I don’t live by commandments - I live by a code and the code can be gleaned by simply listening to Discourses.

GV: You mentioned the word ‘Divine’ many times. What does Divinity mean to you?
JS: Divinity to me is the word I use in place of the word God, because I don’t think the human language approaches what’s there. I can only tell you that Swami once said to me "I will give you a glimpse of Swami". Now I can’t explain what that is. But I can tell you that He doesn’t lie. When He says He is going to do something, He does it. And that glimpse is not something that I can explain to you. But I can tell you firmly, only by comparison to something else, that it is beyond the word God. So, Divine to me means non-conceptual. God is the highest possible thought of the conceptual human being and nothing compared to what’s out there - the power, the magnificence and the totality. I learn more from the silence between Swami’s words than I learn from words. When I listen to Swami, I try and stay empty. Because very few people understand what the word listen means. Listen means mentally shut up. You can’t listen if you are thinking about what you are going to say because you are not listening. So the practice of listening is really something that develops by contemplation and meditation. By slowing down thoughts, by relaxation of the mind, then something starts to happen.

In the sense of Swami as light, this light shines through so brightly that even being near, being willing to listen, to be open, to receive, not to argue, not to try and understand, not to try and be a devotee, just be open, then something starts to happen.

So, I believe Swami starts a process that moves as if it was almost automatic and business does not interfere with that. Business is simply life. If business becomes your divinity, then you are going to become very much like what you see in the world and what bothers you - driven by greed and avarice - but that is stupidity. Because I don’t need to take anything from you to receive. It is everywhere. All I need to do, is do whatever my duty is well and it is like a magnet.


GV: Do you feel there is any difficulty in your being a good Christian and yet having perfect faith in Swami?
JS: No. I don’t find any difficulty in that at all. Because if one would only look at the teachings of Jesus Christ and compare them with the teachings of Swami, and recognize that there are many roads but they all lead to the same destination, how could there be any contradiction when the message is Love? So, I find no problem whatsoever. But if you were to ask me if I was a religious man, I tell you that I seek to be totally open, totally silent, able to listen and I don’t find that in any ritual or practice.

Swami says rituals are a stepping stone towards higher realization and when rituals fall apart, wither away and you are left alone with your consciousness and face to face with God, you become a witness.

We as humans tend to fantasize about 'realization', 'enlightenment' and 'witness'. This is not something we do, but something that happens naturally, as if we were a dissolving pill that is put in a glass and effervesces by itself. So I suspect that a lot of the effort tends to get in the way. A lot of the silence that develops within an individual, if they don’t resist it, opens and may be the way. That’s what I find here. That’s why I make the pilgrimage and that’s why if I have the ability to hear Swami’s words, then I assure you that I will do nothing else but that.

And Swami doesn’t speak in poetry. Although a lot of us tend to look into the deeper and more complex meanings. His message is absolutely simple, absolutely straightforward and never to cause us pain or suffering, but only to prevent pain and suffering. If they do occur - as they do in everyone’s life - accept, because what other choice do you have? Leaning emotionally against an event, is like running your head at a stone wall at 200 miles an hour. Not practical in the least - what can I do to make something undone, I can’t.

But understand that in life there are no second chances. So tell the people you love, that you love them. Not by words necessarily, although that is nice, but by thoughts, by actions, because you may not get a second chance. Treat people equally and treat all people as if they were your family.


GV: Supposing somebody who has never heard of Swami were to ask you 'Who is Sai Baba', what would you say?
JS: Ask Him (Swami). Our job, if anything, is only to welcome those Swami calls. But how can I explain to some other person what Swami is when I don’t have the slightest idea. Nor does anyone else for that matter. If I was to write a book on everything I knew about Swami, it would be 1000 blank pages. Because I can only listen. So, the answer is simple. If you are interested in who and what Swami is - there is a plane. Go, taste and see. The only job that we would have, and I am not sure there is any job, would be to be welcoming and assist the person who wants to find Swami. Swami doesn’t need us for anything.

Who in the history of all the Avatars ever took such a deep interest in the little lives that we live. Here’s Divinity walking among us, comforting us, guiding us, teaching us and finally saying "There is no difference between you and I, except one - I know who I am and you are going to find out who you are". This is something that is so real, so ethical, so upfront that if you simply accept what is standing in front of your eyes, you have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.

GV: Once Swami revealed a great secret and said that God does not need anything because everything is already His. God incarnates so that people will start to remember Him. When God comes in human form, people offer Him many things; He doesn’t need anything, but allows you to offer them for your own benefit.
He comes and gives us everything we need until we get to the point of the openness - to accept what He has come to give us. He gives us comfort from disappointment, shock or tragedy - He carries us through these. But it is up to us to simply accept. I can’t save the world. The world does not want to be saved. But I certainly can cease harming. I can certainly shut up and listen.


GV: The way I have disciplined myself is to say 'If I start thinking I will have pain and pleasure. If I stop thinking, but feel in the heart, there is no pain, there is no pleasure, there is only quiet and happiness'.
JS: Then you have found whatever Divinity is and you should simply allow that to grow.

GV: That’s the point. We should make it last. Not just come in fits and starts.
JS: The fits and starts are the thoughts. The silence is the reality. We believe in the unreal and we don’t have faith in the real. If we simply turn that around a bit and have not 'faith in Swami' but seek 'the faith of Swami', then the infinite possibility that we all are, will emerge in whatever way it should.

GV: You said faith 'in' Swami and faith 'of' Swami - how do you make the distinction?
JS: The faith 'in' Swami is the belief that Swami will do something for us. The faith 'of' Swami is recognition that 'I am divine'.

GV: Before we sign off what are your final words to our listeners?
JS: That everything I have said is probably wrong.

GV: (laughs) I doubt that very much.
JS: Everything that can be conceptualized lies within human experience and its ignorance. Therefore less words, more silence - less looking and more acceptance.


GV: Silence of the mind.
JS: Silence of the mind can start with the silence of the mouth. Do what you can do. It is not what goes in the mouth that creates something. It is what comes out of it. Simply start by watching your words. Start somewhere, start wherever you are and let the rest take care of itself. In business, in life, in what you may call religion, in what you may call spirituality, don’t waste whole lots of time seeking to change yourself. I am 63 years old, I have been trying to change myself for a long period of time - I am exactly the same person.

Recognize that something here which is a treasure, recognize that you don’t have to be here to receive it - but it is wonderful to be here. Recognize that this is a place of pilgrimage. When you leave, you are going to leave better. If you come here loving Jesus Christ, you are going to leave loving Him more. And this applies for all religions, and all persuasions - that is the gift of Swami. But even more than that - the answer is here. But it is not intellectual. If you are seeking an answer, then I strongly recommend that you come here and seek silence.

GV: Thank you sir for sparing so much of your time. Please do come again. Thank you, Sai Ram.
JS: Sai Ram.

End of Interview.


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