U.S.A. Group Interview
Sun, 28 Jul
2002 09:17:20 -0700
Jul 02 Saturday Prashanti
promised, here are more details about the USA group interview
today. By the way, there has not been a USA group interview for a
long time. There were around 250 of us all together. (This is
really a long email, but my dears, if you are an American, I
recommend you read all the way through anyway, as this is for all
of us, not just those in the interview. I understand tapes of
this may be available from the Tustin Book center in the future.):
lunch (around 11:30 am, Saturday) in the Western canteen, a woman
from the USA Buffalo center came up to me and asked if I knew
about the USA singing bhajans in the hall that afternoon. I said
“No!” All she knew was that all devotees from the USA were to
meet at 1pm at Roundhouse 3. There had been a bhajan practice at
10 am for a few devotees who had heard about it earlier. I was
surprised that we would be singing bhajans with such short notice,
as Swami is very selective about who leads bhajans.
showed up at R3 about 12:45 pm. There were already a number of
devotees there. Around 1:20 pm, the lady in charge (Girija) had
us get into line. We ladies were a bit ragtag, but we managed to
have a small semblance of order. The men went off first, then the
ladies a few minutes later. Those who had practiced singing were
supposed to be at the front. There was some confusion about this,
but it all worked out later.
arrived at the VIP entrance of the Sai Kulwant hall (this is the
ladies side or back) and blended into one line to pass through
security. Once inside, security could not decide whether we were
to go inside the mandir or sit outside and wait. So, we started
off going to the mandir, then made a circle back to the hall, then
back to the mandir, then back to the hall. It was funny, going in
circles! Finally we were told to sit at the West end of the
mandir and wait. The singers who had practiced earlier, were in
two short rows at the front and the rest of us were in several
long lines. While we waited, Girija counted how many ladies there
were (around 140). I finally realized we were not going to sing
bhajans at the normal 5:15 pm session, but maybe a few for Swami
after darshan. Canada had a group interview yesterday (Friday),
maybe we were going to have one today? Wouldn’t that be
Around 2pm, we were led by security, row by row into the mandir,
singers first. We took seats. By Swami’s grace I was not far
from the front. After taking a place and a little shuffling and
“move back please” to make room for the VIP ladies, I looked
around. Swami’s desk (with microphones) was up front with a
podium next to it (this was in front of the altar and to the side
of His regular bhajan chair (throne). Swami’s red swivel chair
was in back of His desk. Now I was sure this was a group
interview and not a bhajan session. The men were already seated
on the other side of the long middle aisle.
All of us were able to fit inside the mandir (very happy!). We
sat waiting quietly. At 2:12 pm (there is a clock on the wall in
the mandir), we could hear the darshan music start. Being inside
the mandir, we could not see Swami come into the hall or what He
did out there, but He probably did His usual – going down the main
aisle or cutting across the ladies hospital/teachers section,
going straight to the mandir. He stood outside the mandir door
talking to an Indian man (VIP) for a few moments, then came into
the mandir, like a breath of fresh air. It was 2:16 pm. He
smiled at us. Then, He turned to talk with Dr. Goldstein for a
few moments (I could not hear what was said. There was a fan on
near Swami’s desk and, although it was very quiet, it made just
enough noise to keep me from hearing much of what was said on the
men’s side. He finished talking to Dr. Goldstein, then came over
to the main aisle between the men and women. He smiled again and
surveyed the group for a moment. I could see that His cheek was
still very swollen, but not as bad as it was a few days ago.
Next, He walked down the aisle. He made vibuthi a couple of
times, asked where some of the devotees were from and took lots
and lots of letters. At the end of the aisle, He turned around
and came back to the front, taking more letters - so many that He
could not hold them all and several fell out. A lady on the aisle
picked them up for Him. His assistants were about to come help,
but He signaled for them to stay put. He was smiling and very
happy. He talked softly to devotees along the way, so I could
not hear all that was said.
After coming to the end of the aisle, Swami walked out of the
mandir and into the interview room with the letters. He came back
shortly, empty-handed. Then, He came over to His desk and stood
behind it. All the windows and doors had been closed. It was
quite warm and many of us were using our hand fans.
floor fan had been placed to blow right on Swami. But, He asked
Anil Kumar to move it so it faced the ladies – how sweet is that?
Soon, I could feel the cool air and did not need my hand fan any
longer. I hadn’t brought my journal. So I took notes on scratch
paper and inside my bhajan book. Remember, I thought we were just
going to sing bhajans – not have an interview!
Swami told Dr. Goldstein to start. So, he went up to the podium
and started to express gratitude to Swami for this opportunity.
Swami stopped Him in mid-sentence to sit down. Swami had such a
lovely, cute smile on His face. There was some clapping, but
Swami raised His hand to stop it. Dr. Goldstein continued his
remarks. He said we were in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Being. We have the opportunity to discover who we are and
why we are here. After a few more remarks, Swami indicated it was
time for Dr. Goldstein to end. Dr. Goldstein asked if Swami would
grace us with His divine discourse. Of course Swami obliged.
was 2:30 pm when Swami stood up and Anil Kumar came to the podium
to translate. Swami tapped the microphones to see if they were
working (there was a chuckle from the devotees). I was not able
to get all of what Swami said, but here are some of my notes
(please forgive any mistakes!):
started by calling us Embodiments of Love.
Many who are here have repeated visits here. You have spent a lot
of money to get here. Why are you coming? You are here to
experience bliss? Do you really experience bliss? No! Where is
bliss? When we investigate, we can enjoy the state of bliss. We
follow several spiritual paths and read many books, but no bliss.
Are we practicing one or two of Bhagavan’s teachings? Without
this what is the purpose of coming here again and again? Many
things have been taught – the five values – in fact, what is
truth? How many syllables are in the word “sathya”? “sat” is
permanent. What is that? Life. “A” is food. “ya” is the sun
who provides food. For this life, food is necessary. The sun is
responsible for the food. Sathya means with the grace of the Lord
Sun we have food. When read backwards it means we indulge in
unnecessary talk and waste our time. Talk less, more sadhana. If
you indulge in vain talk, how is it possible to do spiritual
Then Swami talked about Buddha and how he stopped going to
teachers and reading books and just decided to enquire into what
were the gifts of God and how they should be properly used. The
gifts are the five elements, space, fire, water, earth and air.
We are not making proper use of God’s gifts.
Why is the tongue given? For taste and speaking truth always. Are
we speaking out sweet words? Are they useful? Buddha started
sitting under the Bodhi tree. He started with good speech. Then
he asked why are the eyes given? What is the benefit of seeing
the world? He concluded that we must have good vision.
What is the use of talking? The merit lies in helping others.
Next was good listening. See good, hear good, speak good. What
is the fundamental of these three? The vibrations of all these
three should come from within – a good heart is needed for this.
The heart is the fundamental thing for all these. The current of
the heart will help us see, speak and hear good.
After that comes, good feelings. If you don’t have good feelings
then you can’t have good speech, vision or hearing. Pure thought
is need too, and finally good work. With all this you should do
good work. Swami then told a story about a man named Patel who
had everything he needed, all the comforts, plenty of money. He
sits in meditation. He has a friend who is a businessman from
USA. The friend called for Patel, but Patel told him He’d come
after his meditation. The friend asked, “Why are you meditating?
Is it for money? Do you meditate for more children? For worldly
pleasure? Patel says “No.” Then why? Patel smiled and said. I
do not meditate for the worldly pleasure – I have lots of all
worldly pleasures. I want that which God has – peace and bliss.
These are God’s possessions. I meditate to acquire these. I
meditate and pray to God.
So, what we should desire is what we do not have – peace and
bliss. They are the gifts of God. These are not in nature.
There is no peace – only pieces. It is only with God – nowhere
else. Bliss is in God’s presence. Pray to God for these two –
peace and bliss. This was the inquiry of Buddha. He prayed to
God to see all good things. Seeing should be helpful – this is
the message of Bhagavatha and Gita.
what should we do? Do activities that help others. We should
help those who are hungry. Our words should be sacred. We use
harsh words. The tongue is so sweet – it should always speak
nectarine words. These sweet utterances will come from the heart
only. The heart should be full of peace and bliss. Make your
See no evil, see what is good.
Hear no evil, hear what is good.
Speak no evil, speak what is good.
Think no evil, think what is good.
Do no evil, do what is good.
This is the way to God.
These are the gifts of God.
Swami told the story of Buddha as he was dying. Ananda, his
assistant was crying. Buddha said it was jealously because Buddha
was in bliss. Do not have jealousy. Then Ananda realized he had
not made anyone happy.
= maya (illusion) – sacrifice illusion
A = Atma – visualize atma
N = Nirvana/liberation
What is the reason for human birth? To rid ourselves of maya.
All are passing clouds. What is the use of life and education?
Man acts like an animal — it is disgusting. Animals have a reason
and a season. Man has no season and no reason!
The Vedas speak of five principles. We are missing this. 1.
Pragjana – Constant integrated awareness. 2. Tat Twam Asi - We
are not separate from God. I and that are One. 3. I am Atma
Brahma. I am not man, I am Atma Brahma. I am I only. I am not
separate. I am with God and I am in God. God is within.
The cosmic Self is divine. God is unity in diversity. You have
to recognize this in depth. The one who wants to attain God –
is he doing all this? No! At least do one or two. Help ever,
hurt never. Help to the extent possible. Never use harsh words.
When our hearts are pure and sacred, our words will be good.
You are One. Never consider God as separate from you. This
“I”ness and Atma are not separate. God is above us, below us,
within us. All spiritual practices should be practical. The
results should not come and go. They should be permanent. Turn
inward. Close your eyes. Everything is a reaction of the inner
being (Swami corrected Anil Kumar when he said everything is a
“reflection” of the inner being.)
O = Others
Y = You/I
Think repeatedly – I am God and you become God. God is not
separate from you. God is only One. Serve to the extent
possible. Since you are in existence, you should serve others.
No one else is separate from you. Never go by society, go by
principle of unity, which is divine. Unity is divinity.
Why do we read so much? Are we practicing anything? Sai stands
for practice. You don’t have to do a lot, but practice at least 1
or 2. Are we doing this? No! Do at least one. There is no need
for publicity about it.
you love your family? Show your love first – this is first
spiritual sadhana. If you see a man suffering – make an attempt
to alleviate that – within the level of your capacity. Too much
excess with make you mad. Discipline is needed for success. When
thirsty, you don’t drink a whole gallon, one tumbler will do – you
don’t need more. Everything should be in certain limits.
Many are misusing Bhagavan’s name. Misuse is bad anywhere. What
is spiritual practice? When doing bhajans, do them
whole-heartedly. Guru Nanak started community singing. All
voices should merge as one. Join the community singing and sing
the glory of God. If you like to be alone, don’t join. You can
See that no one is hurt by your actions. Teach only good. For
outsiders, explain clearly Bhagavan’s teachings – clearly, out of
experience. In this world there are many devotees, but no one is
on the proper course. Kill the amorality within you. This is
spirituality – not just rituals. Kill the beast within. Humans
should be transformed into the divine. Instead of all spiritual
practices, we should help others.
The jewel in the hand is charity. Truth is the jewel at the
neck. Speak truth that is the decoration. The jewel at the ear
is sacred truths. Listen to these. Swami paused and looked at
Dr. Goldstein came up to the podium and put some questions to
Swami that had come up during the Seva conference.
Can we work with other organizations (like Red Cross, etc.)?
Swami said let those organizations
do their work. We will do ours separately – on our own schedule.
Can there be some set way (printed
material) to present Swami’s teachings to the public?
Swami said that we should just set the example. No material is
needed. There was clapping.
this point, an Indian man up front (sorry don’t know who it was)
came to the desk and handed Swami a piece of paper with typing on
it. Swami looked at it then, materialized a gold bracelet for
him. Swami tried to put it on, but had trouble with the clasp.
This fellow helped him get it closed. Swami then went back to
reading the paper.
Swami stopped reading and said that in foreign countries, there
are Indians who have been collecting money in His name and telling
lies. They say they are building a temple or a school. These are
all lies. Swami is not collecting money. If anyone asks for
money – keep your distance!
Then Swami materialized a ring for another Indian man in front and
said “perfect fit” as He put it on, smiling broadly (as did the
Dr. Goldstein put another question to Swami regarding guidelines.
Swami said each country should follow it’s own culture – no
Swami said He is not stretching out His hand for anything. “I am
not a beggar! (He smiled and so did the devotees, chuckling too.)
“I am bigger, bigger! My life is My message! Follow what Swami
says, there is no other way.” Anil Kumar was translating this
with a lot of emotion and energy. Swami chastised him sweetly,
saying the emotion subdued the message. AK put His hands together
and apologized sweetly to Swami. After this, Dr. Goldstein went
back to his seat on the men’s side. It was 3:30 pm.
Swami continued His discourse:
Respect people and don’t criticize, even if you are criticized.
Be silent. Fill your hearts with love. There is nothing beyond
love. Swami’s entire property is love. We are all shareholders
in this property (clapping).
Wherever you serve, Swami is with you. Many have visited here
many times, but there is no understanding of Swami’s teachings.
Talk lovingly and respectfully. Non-devotees will become devotees
by our example. If we change, the world will change. Pray for
peace and bliss. Modern man has limitless desires but still wants
more. Help the deserving man. Use discrimination when giving
USA, even though we are a rich country, we are poor because we
have desire (but no satisfaction). He who has much satisfaction
is the richest man.(clapping) Swami asked if we had any doubts.
No one said anything. Swami said doubts are passing clouds and
often come when we have difficulties. Difficulties are good for
us. Troubles are for our own good. Don’t get worried or bothered
by these difficulties. At times there is depression from
disappointment. Think of difficulties as a gift from God and you
will not have depression. Some youngsters have doubts. This is
from ignorance. Be blissful all through.
is the food, so is the head. As is the head, so is the attunement
with God. These three are linked. Americans relish meat. Swami
will not force giving up meat, but all thoughts are caused by the
food we eat. A non-veg diet is very bad. There is plenty of
protein in milk, curd and vegetables. Give up being
non-vegetarian, smoking and drinking. Smoking causes heart and
places like Singapore, Malaysia and Germany, the explosion of
bombs for testing has made the water poisonous. Animals drink the
water then, man eats the animals and gets cancer. Food pollution
makes us sick. Doctors say cancer is rampant. It has been around
for sometime, but not rampant. Doctors suspect cancer in
everything. If you take pure and sacred food, you won’t get
cancer. Pollution is the reason for rampant cancer – in water,
food and air.
Swami gave us all a blessing that we should all live a long,
healthy, happy, peaceful and blissful life! Share bliss with
everyone. Swami put a rose in Dr. Goldstein’s pocket (he had come
up to the desk), patted him lovingly on the arm and said “Are you
happy now?” Goldstein (and everyone in the room no doubt) was
Someone up front (on the men’s side) asked Swami about the mumps –
how much longer would He have them? Swami said one or two more
days with correct diet. Like a dear family member, He told us
some of the details about the mumps. Saturday was the 19th
day. Tomorrow or next it would be finished. It has already
subsided some today. The swelling began in the jaw. He wasn’t
able to talk or drink water. He cannot cure Himself or it would
be selfish. There is no selfishness in Bhagavan.
first there was excruciating, unbearable pain. Swami controlled
it. He doesn’t have body attachment, so He was able to give the
discourses and attend cultural programs for the conference and
Gurupoornima. There is no holiday for Bhagavan, only holy days.
These ailments come and go. In two days time it will go. His
swelling was so much bigger earlier – like big fruit (orange?).
(The devotees laugh because AK and Swami laugh.) Don’t feel sad,
they come and go. Use control of thoughts.
child was suffering. The school Principal sent a telegram to the
parents. The doctor said the child can’t be cured – has to
endure the suffering. Swami went by car to see the child and
asked what the boy wanted. He said “to remove the pain”. So
Swami took it on Himself. Like He did the time He took on the
paralysis. He does not cure Himself.
Swami told the story of the woman who had three small children and
had recently lost her husband. She had only a small income. She
had a heart attack. Swami was in Brindavan. The woman was
brought. Swami told the students, don’t be afraid. They took
Swami upstairs when He took on the woman’s heart attack. The
woman became fine. Later she brought her children to see Him. He
had to endure the heart attack for 9 days. He did not move. But
later, there was a total cure.
All avatars have taken on illness. These things are not
recorded. All divinity does their duty. I am ready, ready! None
will stand in the way of God! The routine goes on (at the
ashram). The last 15 days, Swami attended every discourse and
function. The doctors say take rest, but rest will not cure.
4 pm, Swami paused and Dr. Goldstein said “Bhajan”. Swami
repeated, “Bhajan”, then sat in His red swivel chair behind the
desk. We began with three Oms. We sang four songs, two by lead
by groups of men and two by different groups of women. (The songs
were: “Maha Ganapate” (the men started off with this one), “Guru
Guru Guru Bhajo Guru Sathya Sai” (women), “Hare Om Namah Shivaya”
(men) and “Sai Ma Tapita” (women).
Swami sat swaying to the music. After a few minutes, He picked up
the paper that was given to Him earlier and read for a moment,
then put it down and listened again. He seemed to enjoy our
4:10 pm, Swami stood up and an arti lamp was presented with a big
box of matches. He couldn’t figure out how to open it at first,
but then found the way. He lit the lamp and threw the entire box
of matches to a man in the front. Swami then walked out of the
mandir onto the verandah. As He left, Anil Kumar got up and
signaled for us to sing louder and with more energy. We did this
and it sounded much better! We sounded a little weak before.
After the lokas, Swami came back inside. He talked with the men
at the front for a few moments. I could not hear what was said,
but Swami was smiling and enjoying Himself. Then He motioned to a
woman to open the door. A young lady got up and undid the latch,
then sat down again. Swami motioned for all the ladies to go out
that door. Reluctantly we took leave of Him, filing out and going
over by the West end of the building where security seated us in
rows for bhajans at 5:15 pm. It was 4:30 pm.
While we waited for bhajans to begin, Mrs. Shoury and Asha
(Swami’s lead assistants on the ladies side), handed out packets
of vibuthi (from Swami’s red basket – the one He keeps in the
interview room) and a photo card of Swami with a prayer on the
back (Oh Lord take my love and let it flow…”). I got three
5:15 pm, bhajans began. We ladies sang happily (I presume the men
were in the same spot on the other side), still amazed at our
grand good fortune. At around 5:40 pm bhajans ended and Swami
came out of the hall, walking past us. He gave us a big smile
and waved a blessing. He continued to smile at us as He walked
down the aisle and turned toward the Poornachandra. He blessed
one item, then left the hall.
most incredible (and unexpected) afternoon came to a close. Much
gratitude to Swami for the privilege and also to those who
His Feet – Love,
PS: I spoke to a Canadian friend of mine about their interview
the day before (on 26th). He said that they also had a
discourse. Swami spoke about Buddha and some things about
bhajans. (There is some favoritism happening at their centers, it
seems.) Swami materialized a chain for a woman and two rings for
men. Like our interview, He took letters, made vibuthi, talked
with some of the devotees and had them sing a few bhajans. There
were 450 and not all of them got into the mandir. Swami also
approved a couple of projects that devotees submitted and ended by
giving the ladies each a beautiful saree. He distributed these
from behind His desk with help from His assistants. (Swami had
very much liked the Canadians cultural program the evening of
Please note the names of the Indian man who Swami gave the
Bracelet is Dr.Ravi C Dabir from Syracuse, and the person who got
the Ring is Dr. Krishnan R Bala from Scottsdale Arizona. This is
in reference to Swami's discourse for the USA devotees in