Before I begin, let me offer this prayer.
“Swami Please guide and guard me in all I say and do.
So that I may be a good instrument for you.
And in the evening when I reflect
Please let me see that I have treated all with love and respect.
Om Sai Ram”
The experiences of my 73 years of life are laid out behind me resembling a road over which I have journeyed. As with all great journeys, this road has passed equally through the bright sunlight and the dark, deep night. But throughout it all, the magic that I have come to understand is that I was not alone. I was guided by my Friend, my Swami, who was always with me.
Indeed, during my first direct encounter with Sri Sathya Sai Baba in 1994 during an interview in Brindavan, He repeatedly said to me, “I come to you.” I misunderstood his meaning thinking that it was I who had come to India to visit Him. But the third time He said, “I come to you,” He leaned forward and held my gaze. As I was about to contradict Him, yet again, He interrupted “you remember?” a slight pause followed “in a dream,” another long pause and I lost myself in His gaze. He continued so lovingly and gently, “20 years ago, you remember?” I was absolutely stunned. I was speechless as I was suddenly reliving a previous astral travel experience that I had in 1974. It was exactly the same. During that experience there was no form to the ‘being’ who was present with me, only the sound of His voice. The voice said, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you.” From that astral experience I knew with a deep conviction that I had spoken with God, and He had spoken to me. Sitting in Swami’s interview room, I now knew it was He who had come to me.
Reflecting on it now, there have been many ways in which He came to me and made His guidance known both before that interview and after it. In January 2003 He blessed me during a very difficult time when my husband Paul was suddenly killed during a tragic road accident. In fact, through following my internal guidance from Swami, I knew to contact a police station many kilometres from our home. I knew to enquire if there had very recently been an accident. This was confirmed by the officer with whom I spoke. In that moment, my whole life turned up-side-down. I had lost my husband, soul mate, friend, lover and confidant in questionable circumstances. Because of the circumstances of the accident, I would become involved in nearly four years of legal issues involving main roads, police and local council. With Swami’s grace, two days after the accident, He gave me a dream detailing exactly how the accident happened so that I knew beyond doubt that Paul did not suffer at all, and equally important I knew that there was no fault on his part. At times I even felt Paul’s presence. Through this knowledge I gained strength, and the energy required to help me through this horrific time of emotional suffering and legal battle. I was able to rest easy once these issues were resolved, feeling that Paul, too, could rest easy. Our shared communion with Swami has been His grace and our blessing.
Further examples of Swami’s Grace involved the earrings He materialised for me during that same 1994 interview. In the interview room, Swami was sitting down and had asked me what I would like and said “come, come” directing me to his feet. As I was moving toward Swami He said playfully,” I know! Earrings!” I knew Him to be alluding to a particular conversation between me and my husband that occurred the day before leaving Australia. I had been deliberating over which earrings I should take to India and had asked Paul for his opinion, which turned out to be unhelpful!
Swami leant forward in His chair with His elbows resting on His knees his forearms and hands up. He began to rub His fingers together and out of that rubbing emerged these two earrings. One in each hand. He placed them on my ears saying “this woman is a good woman” he mentioned that 3 times. It was a great relief for me to hear Him say that.
A year or two later In Perth I gave an account of our experiences with Swami and how my earrings came to me. I mentioned that I would put them on the altar and offered that anyone could hold an earring if they wished. Afterwards, someone called me over to show me a very elderly gentleman holding an earring in the palm of his outstretched hand. The earring was gently rocking rhythmically. Some tears were shed at this beautiful sight.
Later, in India in 2013, I was in Prasanthi Nilayam for a six week stay. One evening after my evening meal at the North Indian Canteen I came back to my building to find a man waiting at the door who appeared very agitated. Mr Muruli from the Public Relations Office had come in search for me. I was requested to get myself ready and to please wait downstairs for a car that would take me to the Super Specialty Hospital. Dr Pavan was waiting at the car and when Mr Muruli came back, we collected another nurse, Margaret (also Australian). Mr Muruli explained why we were dashing to the hospital. A gentleman from Australia, NSW Blue Mountains, was in a rather critical situation in the CCU section of the hospital.
The patient had a heart problem and was in a very anxious state. The staff were having trouble calming this man down and they were concerned. Mr Muruli was called upon for his assistance and the staff expressed their concern that his condition was not stable. Mr Muruli thought perhaps health professionals from his own country would help. The patient had a low opinion of the hospital, was aggressive and threatening to walk out (even though he had multiple medical attachments). Mr Muruli then said that “maybe this patient needed some female energy from people from his own country.” I was taken aback hearing the comment and then thought to myself, yes only in India and only in Puttaparthi would I have ever heard such a statement. How blessed I felt to be a part of it.
Having worked in Coronary and Intensive Care Units over the years as a nurse, I was surprised at how wonderful, large and well equipped this unit was. The patient was certainly agitated, and the doctor and nurse had stepped back so that Mr Muruli and Dr Pavan could talk with the patient at his bedside. After about 10 minutes it was suggested that they should move back and let the ladies have some time with the patient. I was very versed with the cardiac monitor and was worried at the prospects this man could have in front of him. Margaret was on one side of the bed and I on the other. My opening remarks were “I bet you never imagined that you would be reclining in a bed in India with two lovely women one on either side of you!” That broke the ice and we then started to talk and find out why this fellow was so upset. There had been some family matters and disrupted plans which were taking a toll on the psyche and heart. I was concerned as well. The monitor tracing was not looking healthy. We listened and talked and then talked about Swami.
I asked if he had ever seen anything that Swami had manifested at close range. He said “No” I then took off one of my earrings and mentioned that Swami had given them to me some years ago. I also thought that they were to share if needed. I asked if he would like to hold it. He said yes. With that I placed it in his open hand and closed the fingers around it. This fellow looked at me and asked earnestly, “would it be alright if I put it over my heart?” I agreed wholeheartedly. With that he did. His cardiac tracing went back into sinus rhythm and when we turned to look at the gathering quietly waiting, the astonishment was evident on their faces. The gentleman was released two days later, and Mr Muruli kept me up to date with his movements. Two years later, during another visit, I was asked to go into the Public Relations Office as I had been seen going past after evening Darshan. Mr Muruli wanted me to tell the story to a doctor who was in there at the time. It was clearly an experience he had not forgotten either. How easily we feel we are doers, but it is Swami who is at the helm directing it all.
I want to include two other occasions in which I felt Swami came to me by His Grace. However, in truth there were, and still are, so many instances of His guidance. Often this would occur by giving me right words to say, the correct response or action at the right moment according to the situation. These were often spontaneous actions or reactions and I knew I was not the doer. The inspiration would just suddenly come. One such instance involved singing in another language, a language I didn’t even know! On this occasion, Paul and I had been attending our friends’ wedding in Sydney. The festivities were over by mid-afternoon and we walked with the newlyweds together across a lovely wide lawn area banking onto the water. Four young men of dark complexion came towards us. One said ‘it looks like there has been a wedding” Paul answered with “Yes. These two are the Bride and Groom.” Immediately, and in complete unison, two of the young men dropped to a knee and with the other two behind them started to sing a wonderful song. I joined in and was surprised to hear that my voice was as melodious as their voices. Furthermore, I was singing in a language I did not recognize. When the quartet finished one of the singers exclaimed,” You are Italian!” My husband and friends showed similarly surprised expressions and were speechless. Although we had no awareness of Swami’s presence, He had joined in our delight and was walking with us. How else could I have developed a terrific singing voice and sung in a language I did not know for the duration of a long and beautiful song?
The last occasion I want to share with you was infinitely more powerful and special to me however this episode is probably the most subtle example of His presence. This occurred at a time before I knew of Sathya Sai Baba. In 1980 my first marriage was damaged. The problems which presented were not those which could be reversed. Professional help and advice suggested that it would be better for me to take the children to another state. The many days and months prior to the decision of leaving were filled with fear and turmoil. My daughter was 3 years old and two boys 6ys and 9yrs. I was at my lowest ebb and sleep was difficult. The home we were in then was semi-rural on acres and we had no close neighbours. I walked the house many a night on full alert. Listening for sounds outside.
It was on one of those nights, moonless and very dark, when I heard a beautiful songbird. It sang so clearly a tune of about four bars. I marvelled that although the night was black, a deep darkness matching the depth of my fear, there was yet something so lovely existing at the same time. It gave me hope at a time when I felt nothing but helplessness and hopelessness. It gave me a sense that within that darkness there is something beautiful. It was this thought that I clung to, like a lifeline, which lessened my fear. Even though I couldn’t see it, I knew it was there. It helped me and gave me Hope.
Over some weeks, my children had all heard the night song and the bird became known as Mum’s Special Bird. Some months later just before leaving our family home the bird presented itself in the garden in broad daylight. A willy wagtail flew down, sat on the fence near us and proceeded to sing his melody, quite calmly, for us all. It was a bright sunny afternoon. He then ‘chattered’ and sang again and flew off. When we finally moved, roughly 500kms away, the first sound we heard when walked into our new home was the familiar sound of our bird. It was as a blessing for our new life. There was the willy wagtail, sitting right on top of the clothesline, looking through the back window as if in a greeting. One of the children exclaimed “he has followed us Mummy, our bird has come too!”
Throughout the years, his presence has been constant. He would sing his beautiful song and also chatter. At times, it seemed as if he would give messages because he would look straight at me through the window, or outside, and chatter. Sometimes he would sort of sigh and turn his back to me. Then look back as if frustrated and prattle away some more. His presence was all year long, not seasonal. I now know and understand that this bird was a sign of Swami’s presence.
I would like to leave you with these thoughts. Swami is never separate from us. There may be times when you think He doesn’t hear or recognise you, but He is never away from you. He is around and within you. We need to remember to let things unfold according to His time, not ours. We must be patient and persevere keeping in mind that Swami is the doer. Swami has been and still is, the most powerful, gentle, giving, understanding and loving presence in my life. He is the strength in the whole. Swami, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is my God Almighty. He holds me together.
– Jamie Seymour