Volume 6 - Issue 04
APRIL - 2008
By late Mrs. Peggy Mason
I came into this life (into which it seems that I have packed about five lives) knowing the existence of other dimensions, and feeling a stranger on an alien planet, constantly astonished at what my elders considered to be quite normal — such things as killing each other on a grand scale by the millions (my childhood was during the First World War), and eating up our friends - the animals, and the extraordinary concept that life would almost certainly end with the demise of the physical body.
In the family and social background into which I was born, assuredly for good reasons, I was therefore called "the peculiar one" by my parents, whom I rarely saw, as the children were relegated to nannies. What can one think of a child of seven, who weeps at the sight of trees being cut down because God is being hurt? I felt that God must be in the tiniest flower, the smallest insect, in the stones under one's feet, as well as in the vastness of the starry heavens.
I was a natural pantheist, though I did not know the word at the time. And like all children who have felt crushed or unloved, I grew up with an inbuilt sense of inadequacy, afraid to be truly myself, in case I should alienate those I loved or whose love I craved. It was like a bird beating against the cage. I felt I would never be able to mix with 'grown-ups' on an equal footing, and though I entered fully into life and all its activities, I never really felt part of it, but rather the observer, except when I was excelling at some purely physical pursuit. I could talk to animals, or to my special trees, with my arms around them when I was lonely, but not to people.
Many Years of Searching
When I was very young, I found a friend in the Beloved Jesus. He was very close to me, very Real. I adored His Message of Universal Love, the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, which He came to demonstrate and suffer for, by the total crossing out of the ‘I’, the complete surrender of the lower nature, to merge with the Will of the Father.
Through the years of a very active and varied life, I studied a range of metaphysical subjects. I started with Philosophy, and later delved deep into Theosophy, Yoga, both the phenomena and higher teachings of Spiritualism, and comparative Religions — and I came to love Lord Krishna through the Bhagavad Gita. Because I had lived so much of my life in close proximity to animals, I espoused the cause of animal welfare, to lessen the intolerable abuse of our younger brethren for which mankind is incurring heavy Karma. The 'answer' was always the same — and what I already knew it had to be: "There is only one religion, the Religion of Love; One God who is Omniscient, Omnipresent. One Life, of which all and everything is a part, like drops in the Universal Ocean." And this, I endeavoured to inculcate in all my writing.
Yearning for Eternity
My soul yearned to identify with that Ocean, to become immersed in It, even if it took aeons for this little stream, of which I was a part, to trickle along its stony course to reach It. I yearned for the whole suffering, groaning, wayward world of Humanity to be embraced in that Ocean, and the burden of this yearning, and compassion for the hideous consequences of sheer ignorance often became unbearable, and in anguish, I would weep for the world. How long, O Lord, how long...?
But the Ocean was aware of the cry of the little stream which had just managed to negotiate an emotional boulder which seemed very formidable. The little miracles, the seeming 'coincidences' started to happen, as they do when the Voiceless Voice of the Ocean calls. To recover from the bruises, I visited Australia as a Guest of Honour at a national Spiritualist Conference, and to give a few talks.
An Australian friend lent me a magazine from New Zealand called ‘Heralds of the New Age’, and from it I learned, for the first time, of the existence in the world of a Being called Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It was like being impregnated by an electric shock. I immediately subscribed to this magazine and lent it to other friends when I returned to England, for it always contained references to this Beloved Being. I had to find out more.
Then I came across a smiling photograph in a newspaper in which there was a review of Dr. Samuel Sandweiss's book “Sai Baba - the Holy Man and the Psychiatrist”. I was impelled to cut out this photo, which I stuck on a card, and put on a piece of furniture opposite my bed. The Eyes looked straight at me. As I was contemplating this newspaper photo whilst in bed one night, an extraordinary thing happened which made my heart thump with the sudden shock. The photo definitely jumped to one side and back, while the whole area lit up in shimmering, iridescent light! I was stupefied, because I am not normally clairvoyant, and as I looked round at the other furniture in the room, it was obvious that this phenomenon was only centered on the photo. "Oh Baba!" I think I said, and while I recovered from the shock, the light gradually faded.
Now, at this time, early in 1978, I had become progressively crippled by increasing pain in the calf of the left leg, to such an extent that I could not walk more than twenty yards without stopping, to give time for the acute pain to subside enough to walk another twenty yards, and the foot was always white. My doctor sent me to a specialist who diagnosed a blocked main artery between knee and thigh.
He told me it would get progressively worse, and was keen for me to agree to an operation through the abdomen to the spine. But he warned me that it was a very tricky operation, with only a fifty-fifty chance of success, and if it did not prove successful, the artery would be so impaired that the leg would eventually have to be amputated. He asked me to think about it, and let him know what I decided at a further appointment. (As I hobbled out of his consulting room, I had already decided to keep my leg as long as possible)
That night, after some prayer and meditation, I spoke to my Friend, the Photo. I simply said, "Oh Baba, I wish You could do something about my leg!" and went to sleep. About two days later, a stranger telephoned me. "You won't know who I am," he said, "but I'm a friend of an Indian lady called Swami Ganesha Ananda. This was the name given to her by her teacher, Sivananda, many years ago. She is impressed by your writings and very much wants to meet you. I could bring her over as she only lives fifteen miles away." I was prompted to agree, for I had the strangest feeling that this was connected in some way with Baba. I made an appointment for later the same week.
In the meantime, Dr. Sandweiss's book had arrived, and was on my table when this lady was brought to my home, though I had not had time to start reading it. As she entered the room, she glanced at the picture on the cover, and smiled. "Do you know Sai Baba?" I asked, knowing fully well the answer. "Oh yes!" she said. "Have you been to see Him, in India?" "Oh yes!" she said again, smiling. It transpired that her family had been ardent devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba, and that she too, being elderly, could recount many miraculous things that occurred when she was young and used to call on the Shirdi Body.
I never mentioned my leg, but at the end of a delightful afternoon, she suddenly said, "I have a pain in my left leg. Is it yours?" I said that indeed it was. "May I give it healing?" she asked. She knelt down and laid her hands on it for less than two minutes. "You won't get any more pain," she said. And from that moment I never have! The blood flowed normally to the foot and has continued to do so. I cancelled the appointment with the astonished surgeon. This was one demonstration of the thousand ways in which the Divine works, the thousand methods which are utilised. My simple plea was answered in this way. It seemed unbelievable.
The Lord Is Here!
With what avidity I started to read the book! After only the first ten pages, I was in a ferment of excitement. How many times, weeping for the world, I had cried out 'How long, O Lord, how long...?' Now hope, certainty, burgeoned forth within me. The Lord was here! This had to be the World Teacher, the Avatar for the New Age for Whom the world was waiting!
This was no wishful thinking, no clutching at straws, or gurus, or false or suspect prophets. This was Truth — Sathya! I have never met Sam Sandweiss, but I would like him to know that his book is pure magic for the Western seeker. Baba's Love, and Majesty, His Power and Gentleness, His Divinity and His adorable Humanity shine from its pages and bring tears to the eyes however many times it is read.
I found an address of a Sai Centre in England, so I wrote to this Centre in Wellingborough, asking for further books and information. A correspondence resulted which was full of love from the Secretary, Pravin Patel, and then one day a big envelope arrived, filled with a fragrance which was not of this world. This loving devotee had sent me a plastic bag containing a large amount of Divine Vibhuti!
The Overwhelming Love of Sai
The effect of receiving this was instantaneous. Something in me broke, and I wept and wept for half an hour. It was as if the dam gates had been lifted, and the trickling stream was suddenly swept along in full flood. And with it came a sense of release from years and years of trying to 'keep my end up' through thick and thin.
There seemed no need any more. I saw myself as I really was. I accepted myself, made peace with myself; became myself. Strangely, too, my sense of inadequacy dissolved in the acceptance of my littleness and limitations. In spite of all the years of turbulent events and experiences in my life, I realised that in my heart I was essentially that little girl of seven who cried because God was being hurt. And what was wrong with that, if that was what I was?
All pretence vanished. Baba says: "To get at the core of God at His greatest, one must first get into the core of himself at his least, for no one can know God who has not known himself." The humble worm has its vital part to play in aerating the soil of the field for the growing crop, and God is also in the worm.
During this time, for reasons which are irrelevant here, my husband was elsewhere. When we were together again I pestered him unmercifully to read the Sandweiss book, and his reaction was the same as mine. We made our first journey to the Wellingborough Sai Centre and were overwhelmed by the love and hospitality they showered on us, and by the fervour of their bhajan singing. We were shown films of Swami, and I could not take my eyes off this unique, graceful, fluid Form. A large group of devotees, including many children, were off to India in a week's time. Their excitement was intense.
I had now written an article about Sathya Sai Baba and the healing of my leg, just in time for them to take the magazine with them to India. Furthermore, they took our breath away by saying they would take a letter from each of us, and give them, with the article, into Swami's Hands. How does one start a letter to God? But then God is one's dearest Friend! So I wrote "Beloved Baba..."
When it was time to leave the devotees, after I had gone up to the Shrine Room to kneel before the life-size picture of Swami, the tears started to run down my face and I felt a fool. "Is it because you would like to come to India with us?" they asked. "No," was all I could say. "It's just Baba..."
His Personal Advice
With what excitement, we awaited their return from India! Swami had sent a little message: "Tell Peggy to write Sathya Sai Baba in future, not just Sai Baba..." He had been so kind, so loving — and the message meant that I could write many more articles! In the following months, too, it meant that the hundreds of enquiries from readers became thousands. Yet we had never met Swami! Rumours that He might pay a visit to England did not materialise. Time passes quickly, and I was now seventy. There was only one thing to do — to go to India. I confess that to both of us, India seemed a very long way away the morning we got up in the dark of a cold winter's morning to travel to London Airport! But we knew that even if it was the last journey we ever made in this life, we had to go...
‘His Essence, His Gifts, His Mystery’
How can anyone describe what it is like to meet Divinity Incarnate in the perfect-Human, perfect-Divine Embodiment of Love which is Sathya Sai? In His Boundless Compassion, He took us in for interview after interview, filled our cup to overflowing, and then poured out more, and more, until we felt saturated with His Love, His Essence, His Gifts, His Mystery, Himself. Of that first meeting, it is difficult to speak. There are sacred moments in life which cannot be put into words.
Every human being longs, some acutely, some less so, to find that Sublime Love which can only be found in a Being who is aware of one's innermost self, all of it; who knows one's frailties, successes, failures, aspirations and yearnings: who knows one's long past, one's present, even one's future; a Being from whom no secrets are hid. A Being who said: "Bring me the depths of your mind, no matter how grotesque, how cruelly ravaged by doubts or disappointments. I know how to treat them. I will not reject you. I am your Mother..."
At long last, being in the Presence of such a stupendous, Divine Love is overwhelming in its impact. What one had dreamt, or imagined in advance, is as nothing compared to the Reality, just as no photograph can give even an inkling of the thousand facets, the thousand expressions, the movements, or the amazing Aura of this Avatar of all Avatars.
The expression of tenderness, compassion, and understanding in that unique, so lovable Face, and in the dark, luminous Eyes which see into one's soul — and into which one can gaze without the slightest trace of self-consciousness but in utter trust — enveloped us in an ocean of Love, as He looked down so tenderly at our tearful faces, saying gently, softly, "I know...I know..." before raising us up with His Hands. How well I understood, in that moment, what Dr. Sandweiss meant when he wrote: "What was communicated in that brief moment? The world!"
I felt I wanted everything to stop for a space so that I could properly take into myself the implications and consequences of this Divine experience, and this Divine blessing which transported me above the world into the Cosmos which is also Himself. It seemed that I needed eternity fully to realise that this little ‘I’, which at the same time is the immortal Atma, is truly a particle of Him, and will eventually merge with the Whole; and in the meantime, while dualism inevitably exists at my level of consciousness, He is in every beat of my heart. The child of seven longed to clasp that adorable Form in her arms and bury her head in the Mother of all Mothers. But of course that could not be. I must have appeared very dumb!
Yet Swami knows so well how to lift one up, and at the same time 'bring one down to Earth'. And He also has an enchanting way of letting you know He knows, sometimes by a simple action with no words spoken. Let me give a small example. The night before the first interview, I had prayed that He would touch the chain and pendant I wore round my neck, in order to consecrate it.
It was only a cheap locket bought from a stall and sent to me by an Australian friend who had visited Baba a year previously, but I treasured it because it bore Swami's coloured head, and I never took it off. And, indeed, during the first interview, Swami did bless the locket, unasked, and smilingly examined it for a long time. I was determined not to let the thought escape me that He might replace it! I had not come to India to get objects from Him, but to lay my love at His Lotus Feet. And He did exactly what I had prayed He would do!
The next day, however, I felt I was dreaming when I found myself sitting right beside Swami's chair at a group interview. It wasn't long before He turned to me and said, "Wouldn't you like a real locket? What you have now is imitation." Whereupon He circled His Hand in the air and produced a charming locket for me.
Of course He knew I secretly longed for this, but would not ask! Later, at the same interview, I was doubly blessed. "Do you do sadhana (spiritual practices)?" He suddenly asked me. "Yes, Swami." Again He circled His Hand, and down fell a long japamala (rosary) like a cascade of crystal light. Spreading it out with His Hands, He threw it lightly over my head on to my shoulders. What can one say except "Oh Baba!" My husband was also blessed with a beautiful ring.
The Cosmic Christ
Baba can be so full of humour, so Divinely childlike, making us all laugh by remarks about my "mad monkey mind, sometimes all confusion"— when I have six things to do at once, and all of them equally urgent! Yet in private interview, sitting close, His wonderful Eyes looking deep into yours, and with that soft, gentle voice so full of tender concern, He answered many questions of a serious nature about my first Friend, the beloved Jesus, whom He sent into Incarnation. And when my husband asked for confirmation of the Truth: "Are You what Western Christians call the Cosmic Christ" (and what Theosophists call the Logos), He nodded His head and replied with ineffable simplicity: "Yes."
How many Christians are aware that the Second Coming for which they are yearning, is here? That the triple-incarnation of the 'Kalki Avatar on the White Horse', when He comes for the third time as Prema Sai, will possibly span a total of two hundred and seventy years reaching into the twenty-second Century? The Light will spread ever brighter, and more quickly. In the words of The Great Invocation, it will "restore the Plan on Earth, and seal the door where evil dwells." How privileged we are to be living at this time!
Our only desire is to serve that Light which is Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai for the rest of our days; to play our small part in spreading knowledge of that Light; to try to live as He wishes us to live; to love Him in all people, in all the kingdoms of nature, in all manifested creation. Inadequate as we are, He will always help us, if our hearts are sufficiently pure for Him to reside in, and our love but the palest reflection of His own. More and more, after leaving the physical Presence, He fills and pervades one's whole being, waking and sleeping, irrespective of the 'distance'.
How can I attempt to describe how I see Him? He is the Mother in the safety of whose loving arms one longs to hide. He is the All-Powerful Father one implicitly trusts and obeys. He is the closest Friend to Whom one can open the deepest secrets of one's heart. He is the Child, away from 'Home' one longs to gather up in compassion at the isolation of His Mission (though He is ever filled with Bliss). He is the God at Whose Feet one falls, and to Whose Will one longs to surrender the last breath of the restricting mortal body, to come nearer to Him in the freedom of death.
So after seventy years I came Home – and He was waiting for me with outstretched Hands.
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Vol 6 Issue 04 - APRIL 2008
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