|Late Phyllis Krystal with Sathya Sai Baba - July 2007|
As I look back, since I heard about Bhagavan Baba for the very first time in 1972, and went to see Him the following year, so many rich and varied memories flood into my mind and fill me with a feeling of profound gratitude for the great privilege of meeting Him in this lifetime.
Many people are impressed the most by His miracles, the importance of which He Himself discounts. He explains that the intrinsic value of the various objects He materializes for individual devotees is their least important aspect. They are intended merely to act as a link between Himself and the recipient. Whenever the person urgently needs His help, the image of the gift will flash before His eyes to alert Him to hasten to the rescue.
I have experienced this phenomenon on several occasions when help appeared almost miraculously when I most needed it, and always in a form most appropriate to each situation. There was never any doubt that He was directly responsible for the help that arrived so unexpectedly and quickly each time. One of His favourite sayings is, "Why fear when I am near?" He has proved to me many times that when I truly believe that, and really trust Him, all fear evaporates, and I am helped through the difficult episode, whatever it may be.
|Consoling the afflicted at Prasanthi Nilayam|
Some people flock to Him, drawn by the numerous reports of the various healings devotees have received at His hands, hoping to be freed by Him from their own ailments. I can also personally vouch for such healings. The most impressive one was the eventual relief from the incapacitating headaches that had caused so much suffering for so many years.
Still other people visit Bhagavan Baba with the one burning desire for the coveted interview, during which they envision being given the opportunity to ask Him all their urgent questions, and for Him to wave a magic wand to transform their troubled lives from misery to bliss, by removing all their problems.
My own experience has been that my mind invariably goes blank whenever I am in His presence, and I discover, to my dismay, that I am absolutely incapable of recalling a single question I had intended asking Him, however hard I try. Of course, He is always well aware of this reaction, as it is, apparently, quite a common one, and often laughingly recites the questions I had formulated, word for word, as if reading from my list. At other times, He will lean forward and lift out of my pocket or handbag the list I had made as a reminder, always with a delightfully amused expression on His face.
As for waving a magic wand and removing all my problems; it has seemed instead, as if the reverse were more accurate, and that they multiply instead of disappearing. I sometimes have an image of Him stirring a witch's brew composed of all our negative thoughts, habits, tendencies and attitudes, to bring them all up to the surface of consciousness, where they can be recognised and acknowledged, instead of remaining carefully hidden from ourselves and others. But, we can hide nothing from Bhagavan Baba's x-ray gaze! But He has promised to accelerate the working out of our negative karma and help us to balance or erase it. In addition, He assures us that we will never be given more than we can handle at any given time.
But by far the vast majority of visitors appear to be magnetically attracted, like bees to honey, by the extraordinary unconditional love He unceasingly emanates and makes available to all who open their hearts to receive it. He tells us that He needs to give us both a father's and a mother's love, which we have craved all our lives, but have rarely received in fulfilling amounts from our human parents, usually because they did not receive it from their parents. It is a chain reaction from one generation to the next.
Baba most certainly filled a void for me as soon as I began to open my heart to accept the love that had been so lacking in my early life.
Over the years, such boons have indeed been wonderful, but none of them approach the unique blessing He freely gives to all who will listen. It is the answer to the oft-asked question, "Who am I? " His answer, above all others of His many gifts, seems to me to be the most significant, simply because it assures every one of the true freedom and complete security we all seek.
Many people have been taught to equate their identity or worth with their bodies, intellects, egos, personalities and even in some cases, their family and possessions. But Bhagavan Baba teaches that our true identity is none of these. He points out that we are all actually three people; the one we think we are; the one we show to the world; and the one we really are. He admonishes us to merge all three into the one real one, which is not the body, mind and emotions, but the invisible spark of Divinity residing within the physical sheath. Since it is our real identity, we are equal in worth. That means, none are better or inferior to anyone else, whatever their sex, age, race nationality, intelligence, social position. financial status, occupation, political or religious affiliation, or anything else. How could we be either more or less worthy than others when we are all identical parts of the Universal God-force, in which we live and move, and by which we are kept alive? To me, this assurance is Baba's most valuable gift to everyone who will listen.
When I was a little girl growing up in England, I would often hear the quotation from Tennyson, "Closer is He than Breathing, nearer than hands and feet," yet, at the same time, I was given the impression that God was seated on His throne in some far-off heaven, obviously beyond the reach of a small child. This apparent contradiction continued to puzzle me. No-one ever explained it, so I was left with all my questions unanswered. However, they would surface from time to time to haunt me, and they prodded me to continue to seek their clarification.
|Phyllis Krystal with Sathya Sai Baba - 1970s|
On our first visit to Bhagavan Baba in 1973, He set the stage for the teaching He would be giving me. At our farewell interview, I asked Him when He would like us to return. Instead of directly answering my question, He said, "First, remember that you do not need to come back to see this little body," pointing to Himself. He watched my reaction and then continued, "Find Me in your own heart. "After another pause, to determine if I had fully understood his important message, He added, "But you will come back to be re-energised”.
Bhagavan Baba repeatedly says, "Yes, I say that I am God, but I also say, "so are all of you. The big difference between you and me is that I know this to be true, whereas you do not yet know it." To help us to believe Him He suggests that we repeat, "l am God", as often as possible during the day. This practice will help us to identify with who we really are. When I first heard these statements I was deeply shocked. It sounded like sacrilege especially to one Who grew up with a dismally low self-image as a result of the extremely harsh discipline meted out to me by my very strict mother. How could I now believe that I was God? But He refers, not to the personality, but to the real Self.
Another of Baba's teachings is that we should not really for our security on anyone or anything in the outer world, including even His physical form. He explains that to do so is sheer folly, because all forms are transitory and can die or be destroyed, be lost, or in numerous other ways, prove eventually to be unreliable or disappointing. In contrast, real Self is indestructible, always available and completely to be trusted to provide us with permanent security and everything we need.
I can recall another time when Baba expressed this truth in a very personal way. He was holding in His hands. the manuscript of a book I had just completed, and which I hoped He would bless. So, I asked Him if it was the way He wished it to be. His wonderful eyes seemed to pierce through to my core, as He pointed His finger at me and said very slowly and solemnly, "Incorrect, Mrs. Krystal ! Is it the way YOU want it to be? Emphasizing the word you", to remind me that He was referring, not to my outer person, but to His counterpart within. Again, He was reminding me that I too am God and must turn within to find answers, instead of seeking them in the outer world from other people, books, information and ideas, and even from Him!
But, even when we do believe and try to remember that we are God, we repeatedly forget. It is so hard to comprehend fully what He means. We can understand and even accept it with our minds but that is not enough. It must become part of our experience, which takes longer, as the knowledge has to sink to deeper levels of our consciousness.
However, Bhagavan Baba understands this human dilemma and gives us repeated-reminders, but, even with so much help, we still forget and fall to allow our real Selves to be fully expressed, and repeatedly fall back into old ego controlled habits of identifying with our worldly lives.
One time, when I was particularly frustrated at my forgetfulness, I asked, in meditation, for help in remembering my true identity. The answer that came into my mind developed into a short daily ritual which I would like to share, as I have found it to be most helpful. It is best practiced each morning upon awakening and repeated intermittently throughout the day.
I ask Bhagavan Baba to 1) Think through me, 2) Feel through me, 3) Speak through me, 4) Act through me, and above all, 5) Love through me, all day. I find I am especially aware of its effectiveness when, for some reason, I omit the practice, and I am forced to observe what a difference it makes.
As an additional aid, I try to remember to repeat at regular intervals during the day, similar to chanting a mantra the following statement. "I surrender; I trust and I accept. "That means, I surrender to who I really am; or God; I trust that I will be given whatever I need; and I accept whatever I am given, whether I happen to approve of it or not, for that is trust in the God-Self. If we cannot trust it, who can we trust?
Gradually, in this way, we can all move a step at a time towards remembering who we are and eventually be ready and willing to merge our outer personalities with the inner spark of Divinity. What freedom and security that must surely provide us, for it means that we do not need to search for God outside of ourselves. Wherever we are and at any time, we can make immediate contact with our God-Self, and allow it, instead of Our egos, to guide us. That should remove all sense of worthlessness, of being unloved or unlovable, rejection, loneliness, fear and worry.
Please, Beloved Bhagavan Baba, help us all to accept Your wonderfully reassuring gift, and thank You for taking human form at this time to make it available to us.
About the Author
Born in London, England and graduated from Bishop Otter College, Chichester, in Education; migrated to the United States in 1937, has been a devotee since 1972. Her book entitled "Sai Baba - The Ultimate Experience" a monumental publication contains her experiences with Bhagavan. She has also authored a book “Cutting The Ties That Bind" and another book "Cutting More Ties That Bind" with a sub-title, 'Education of Children and Re-programming of Adults'. She has addressed several gatherings of Sai devotees in Prasanthi Nilayam and globally. She merged at the Lotus Feet in 2015.
Source: Sai Vandana 1990 (65th Birthday Offering)