My excitement knew no bounds! Baba had just instructed our small group of thirteen to go to the Interview Room. How many tears have fallen from these eyes? How many prayers have risen from these lips? How many bodies have I acquired and discarded to have finally earned the grace I am about to receive?
Upon the floor, directly to the right of Baba’s chair was an open space, I made a dash to secure it.
Baba, seating Himself, commenced addressing the group. As He spoke, He secretly and playfully bestowed blessings upon me with each and every Divine touch. He repeatedly jabbed His right index finger into my heart. With open palm, He continued to "thwack" the top of my head and recurrently power-slapped my face and pinched my cheeks. I wondered what new destiny my life would take due to the direct result of these disguised infusions of grace. What karma had just been eradicated and what karma would be left to endure to finally bring to cessation my painful cycles of birth and death? Joyfully, I sat motionless and received it all.
Baba asked, “Where is God?” He placed his hand over my heart and said, “Yes. Yes. Yes. That is where I Am.”
Directing His attention to the group, Baba remarked, “There is only one God, and He is omnipresent. There is only one religion, the religion of love. There is only one caste, the caste of humanity. There is only one law, the law of work. There is only one language, the language of the heart.”
Baba posed the question, “What is the end result of education?" Answering His own query, He replied, "Character! The things we are taught must be put to practice in one’s life. To learn and store is utter uselessness.”
Looking out over the group, Sai firmly stated, “You should never pay for spirituality. Never pay for a mantra. God is for FREE! God is for all! Money should be your first clue to stay away.” Sai was so humble and loving as questions and answers were exchanged. I thought this is how Jesus Christ must have tended his flock, answering so tenderly and patiently the questions of an unfulfilled and grief-stricken humanity.
One of the members of the group asked if she could stay in Prashanthi Nilayam for a longer period of time. Swami, now standing, softly and lovingly spoke: “This is your home, and I am your servant.” Then, sweeping His outstretched hand across the group, affectionately remarked, “I am up night and day to serve you. My right hand is always giving - giving - giving.”
"Monkey thoughts. Mad monkey thoughts! Not good!” Swami showing me that He was very much aware of my monkey mind. Disheartened and helpless, I looked at Him and asked if He would bring to rest my unruly mind and the ugliness of my false ego.
Resting His palm upon my head, Swami declared, “Chant the Gayatri Mantra and repeat the Name of God. This practice will restore harmony in your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional bodies," then further added, "I will bless.”
Across the room, Baba was giving some personal instruction to a devotee. “I love you. I love you. I love you,” I ever so softly whispered. Straightaway, He turned toward me and sweetly spoke, “I love you, too.” My heart thumped so fast, hard and loud against my chest I thought the others could hear it too.
I remember Sai and I laughing, joking back and forth with each other. He was very animated and I loved being with Him. Yes, I was having the time of my life and I instantly knew that I had just made a new best friend. This was way better than anything I had experienced in my life heretofore - it was a spiritual Disneyland designed to open the Magic Kingdom within.
Looking directly into my eyes, Baba pointed his slender and graceful finger saying, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Go!” Overjoyed and a bit anxious, I made my way to the "private interview" room. Instinctively, I fell to the floor and began kissing, with tender reverence, each and every one of His ten, beautiful, brown, little toes. Incidentally, the night before, I dreamed that I was kneeling before Swami, my tears splashing upon His Lotus feet, carefully placing small, multi-colored flowers between each and every toe - my flower offerings had blossomed into kisses of sweet and loving surrender.
“What do you want?” He asked.
Looking up, tears streaming from my eyes, I replied, “You, God! Deliver me from myself, my monkey mind and ego!” He responded saying, “From this day on, I shall be with you always."
Moved by a powerful longing to merge with His Divine Splendor, I rose up from my knees and reverently wrapped my arms around His living, breathing form and buried my face deep into His chest and wept, releasing with my tears the agony of all my human experience here on earth. Sai, in His enormous love and infinite compassion, too, wrapped His arms around me. There we were, just the two of us, Father and Son in deep embrace.
Suddenly, I thought to myself, “My God! I’ll crush Him if I hold Him any tighter,” then joyfully submitted to the fact, “How could I possibly crush God?”
I looked deeply into his big, dark, beautiful eyes and asked if He would open my earthly father’s heart to His stream of never-ending love.
He glared at me and sternly declared, “I am your Father!” Then, with the sweetness of Mother Divine, softly spoke, “I will take care of you.”
Tears, tears, and more tears, wept of love, soaked Baba’s little, orange gown. Swami, looking down at His soaked-through garment, smiled and humorously said, “Tisk. Tisk. Tisk. Look what you just did.” Reaching for my hand, He said, “C’mon rowdy, lets join the others.” The Hindi meaning of the word "rowdy," is an affectionate term for an emotional ball of energy.
As we were walking down the hallway leading out to the mandir where tens of thousands of darshan-starved devotees were eagerly awaiting Swami's return, I asked Baba if He had received the gold ring I had sent him years earlier. Baba replied, “Yes,” and then unexpectedly added, “I will give you a ring before you leave on the 28th.”
This Interview took place December 26th, 1981 after morning dashan.
Note: The ring I gave Swami was given to me by my parents and held sentimental value. This token was in some small manner my way of renouncing a world I knew to be painful, transitory, and heavily laced with the uncertainty of past karmas. It has been thirty-two years since that interview and still no ring, but I know somehow, someway, someday it will manifest.
I don't know if this counts or not, but I have been given several rings in the dream state.
Om Sri Sai Ram