Most people when asked to describe their experiences with Swami divide them into two phrases “miracles” and “testing.” Perhaps these two could be clubbed together under a single term “Sculpturing.” Only the sculptor sees the form of the idol hidden in the block of stone. He toils patiently and incessantly till the Divine form is brought out from the stone. So also it is the eye of the Divine sculptor that sees the Divine form hidden in the mortal frame, covered by the layers of ego. Every miracle and every period of testing may be viewed as the blow of the chisel and our experiences with Swami as a process of sculpturing.
In our stay with Swami, we often fall into the trap of trying to explain His actions and needless to say very often get completely confused about His motives. A half-finished idol is very difficult to decipher. Initially, there seems to be no pattern and all that we can see is a number of haphazard cuts on the face of the stone. If we were to ask the artist about each cut or blow he cannot explain to us, for in his mind is the image of the perfect idol which we cannot understand. Every blow and every cut is made in the direction of producing that perfect image. It is the same story when we try to explain Swami’s actions. If not for the miracles which we accept without any questions, in periods of “testing”, as we call it we rarely “grin and bear it”. We cry out to Him in agony and grief demanding from Him an explanation or at least a consolation. He remains silent, for the perfect image of Divinity is in His mind, which our mortal brain cannot comprehend. Both miracles and testing are acts of love that chip away layers of ego that have accumulated on the soul in its long journey through many lives.
A small experience to illustrate the first blow of the sculptor is as follows. It was in the late sixties that my parents first came to Swami. In their first interview, Swami didn’t speak a word. He merely created Vibhuti and looking into my father’s eyes applied it on his forehead. My father was at that time a senior and highly successful I.A.S. officer, but in that moment he was reduced to a child. He broke down and wept holding on to Swami and that was the first blow by the sculptor. Swami had waited for years, chosen the right moment and delivered the blow. The tone, hardened over the years by the vagaries of life cracked and gave way to pure love.
Not many words were spoken. Swami only said, “You have come on a good day” and that was all. Yet through the clouds of ignorance and layers of ego the light of Divinity had penetrated and the soul wept on its home coming. Each one of us goes through this experience on receiving the first blow. This is the same feeling that Dr. Samuel Sandweiss describes when Swami gave him a candy saying “Sweets, Sweets”.
However, sometimes the blows are painful. We call it “testing”, but what does the Lord need to test when He knows us more than ourselves. It is a blow not to test us but to shape us, to chisel us into the perfect image – His image. Swami Himself says, “Man has to be unmade and remade with his ego destroyed and replaced by a transcendental consciousness so that we may rise above the Karmic law to command.”
This unmaking is painful. We cry and protest at every blow of the chisel. When the intellect is covered by the pain, we accuse Him. We sometimes retreat bewildered and hurt at the harsh treatment. Yet, how far can we go and how long can we stay away from the omnipresent One? For however high the bird may soar and however far it may fly, it must return to rest on the tree. The longing of the soul for its true origin is so strong that it drags us back to Him, for it is in Him that we see our home and ourselves. One might call it the ultimate form of home-sickness.
Perhaps, true surrender means to submit ourselves to Him like the stone does to the sculptor, absolutely mute, asking nothing, never complaining and infinitely patient. The last blow may take time in its coming. Yet when it comes and the last piece of ego is chipped away the perfect image of Divinity stands forth. In that single moment the stone disappears, the chisel and hammer vanish and all the three - the sculptor, the sculpture and tools are merged into that one single supreme consciousness.
- C. Gunaranjan
Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus