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Volume 5 - Issue 02 FEBRUARY 2007


By Dr. John Hislop

This is the transcript of a talk by Dr John Hislop delivered at Dharmakshetra, Mumbai on Jan 1, 1971, which was subsequently published in the February 1971 issue of Sanathana Sarathi. We bring this special article from the archives of Sanathana Sarathi to celebrate the golden jubilee year of this hallowed magazine.

When Baba sent word that I was to make some remarks at this great New Year's gathering of Sathya Sai Devotees, the thought occurred to me was that if I were to speak with all the truth that I could muster; there was only one topic on which I could speak. And, that topic is personal in its reference, not general.

It is: What does Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba mean to me, to this mind and body, educated and cultured in a foreign country and also, what does He mean to that subtler aspect of me, which is without nationality?

Hearts Spring with Love

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Swami with John Hislop

My wife and I first heard of Swamiji in 1968, through a description of Him as given to a friend of mine by a lady who had visited Prasanthi Nilayam. This lady had brought back some sacred Vibhuti, a beautiful ring as a gift to her from the miraculous nature of Baba and she had many fascinating stories to tell. But one special remark struck fire to my mind and imagination. The lady said that she had felt a change in her character, while at Prasanthi Nilayam, and that change persisted even after returning home.

This statement really struck my mind with the impact of a great storm. Could there be a man, was there a man living today, whose art was so subtle, so powerful, so mysterious; so divine, that he could change the human heart.

If it were indeed true that such a man lived in today's world, then nothing else in my life could equal the urgency of seeking Him out, prostrating myself at His Feet, and praying that through His Grace, He would be so kind as to cultivate my dry heart with His Divine Power so that my heart might open into fresh life as the dry fields become alive and vibrant with the spring rain.

My wife and I heard the story of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on a Monday and that same week we were abroad a plane to India. I should not imply that my faith was able to keep up with the eager rush of my heart to the Lord. After all, my mind was educated in the cold scientific methodology of a Western University and then, cultured in the profit climate of the business world. Moreover, I had disappointing experiences with various spiritual preceptors.

However, my intellectual doubts which had gained considerable strength during the journey were unable to survive even the first meeting with Swamiji. In His Divine Presence, how can doubt maintain itself? In His Presence, doubt is like very shallow water in the burning sun - in no time at all, it disappeared.

As my wife and I sat before Swamiji at Prasanthi Nilayam, in the room reserved for meetings with inquirers, we soon realised that the elegant and charming Indian gentleman speaking with us was unmistakably something far more than that. We listened to His sweet voice, felt the warmth of His loving smile, noted the impression of irresistible power conveyed by the cast of His features, looked as deeply as we dared into His eyes - now soft, now flashing. But, beneath these surface impressions, our awareness was deepening, we became conscious that a state of love and affection now existed in the room. In my heart, there arose a movement, a new feeling, a joy so intense that tears came from my eyes.

So to me, first of all, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the Lord of the heart, He who is able so quickly to remove all the hardness accumulated in the years and make the heart fresh again, new again, joyful again.

The Mystery of His Divinity

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Then, the next aspect of Baba that strikes me with real force is the overwhelming and incomprehensible mystery of His Divinity. There appears to be a man, but, even a dullard can see that Baba is not a man. One looks at Him and sees the blue perfect calm of the deep sky. One tries to define His Form but can see only space. The only thing certain about Him is that He loves us - otherwise, to predict Him or define Him is like trying to capture the wind, or the silver of the moonlight.

Even the stories we read of the Avatar are just other futile attempts to define Swamiji. It is said that the Supreme and Only Being wills to take Form as an object within that world of Maya created by Himself and that, there He plays a human role without in any way compromising His Total Subjectivity.

Out of such words, reason may satisfy itself, constructing some framework of meaning. But, that meaning can only be relative, whereas Baba is not relative. So, if we are honest about it, we end up where we started ­facing a Divine Mystery that is incomprehensible.

The Divine Teacher

The third aspect of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba which has a tremendous importance for me, is Baba as the Supreme Teacher of men, He who guides us to, liberation - to re­union with Him.

Each word that He speaks carries a lesson intended for our benefit. Certain basic principles are repeated by Baba again and again. Perhaps these basic principles could be sum­marised into seven cardinal points:-

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No. I. Be happy. Bliss is God's Nature expressed in the Individual and happiness is also our social duty. Simple happiness rooted in good becomes value to every one around us.

No. 2. Feel always that you are Divine. There is One Only. We are not different from that One.

No. 3. Let thought, word and action flow from that Divine which is one's essential nature. How happy we feel when we engage in noble action, and how miserable when our action is petty or hateful!

No. 4. Behave to others with the same kindness that we use to ourselves, because at some subtle level of our being, I am you and you are me - we are not two, opposing forces.

No. 5. Awake with love, fill the day with love, end the day with love. It is not that we should feel love. In truth, we are love. As man, we are just appearance. In truth, each one of us is a flame of love, dancing in ecstasy against the background of the Lord's Maya.

No. 6. Love God with all your heart. Trust Him completely. Abandon your will and your life to Him. He is the only refuge. Even though pain and death be our lot, only in God may we find refuge.

No. 7. Let the mind be alert, always to penetrate appearance, and uncover Reality. Let the mind never be caught up in appearance, but let it be engaged always in ceaseless enquiry: Who am I? What is my real nature? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Where and what is my home?

This summary of the seven cardinal points of Swamiji's Teachings is just as it appears to my mind, which is severely limited. Today we have the great joy of being able to hear the Truth from the unlimited, from the Lord Himself, from our beloved Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

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Vol 5 Issue 02 - FEBRAURY 2007
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