Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Experiences by Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

  Dr. Jack Hawley and his interview with Swami

"I, love you! I love you," He said, and whop! He slapped my face! Hard! What I could not believe it! My beloved Bhagavan just smacked me-and I was so happy, all I could do was giggle joyfully like a little boy.

My wife next to me in the inter view room, was also happy and laughing too. Then Swami took my namaste, hands in His and leaned close to Him. His face only a few inches from mine, "I am always with you". He intones in DEFINITE, serious voice, "Always with you".

The message burned itself into me. Later when I said "I am worried about one of my grown up sons", he turned quickly to me, "Why do you worry? He snapped, He is my son! I will take care of him."

Soon after our return to our home in California, the grown up son came to pay respects. It was mid-day and I could already smell the alcohol in this breath. With that, sadness wafted across my mind recalling the problems and grief that his drinking had brought him over the years. And then, I remembered Swami's words.

Son asked. "How was the trip?" "Fine", I said and proceeded to tell him of our interview with Sai Baba. I took his two hands into mine and said, Swami looked at me in the eyes, like this, and I looked into the eye in the same manner, And Swami said to me I love you! I used the same force in my words as Swami's. The boy started smiling broadly. Then, I said Swami slapped me and I slapped my son's face as hard as Swami slapped mine and repeated His words, "I love you!" Whap! The sound of it startled my wife. The son, jolted, giggled joyfully like a little boy. Then I told him that Swami said that he was His son, not mine and not mine, he would take care of Him. The boy's eyes squint a bit as he took in the importance of those words, and slowly nodding his head in agreement.

Sharing this episode with him made me experience again the utter joy, I felt when it actually happened half a world away. And I could see that the boy was also enjoying it. I was also aware that I had omitted the part of Bhagavan's message about always being with me/us, but trusted that it will come out when that time is right.

It was several months later; I was on a flight to a town in another state. I had been asked in to go there by a company that I had worked for several years previously. (I am a management consultant specializing in organization behavior-, which means I help companies improve communication, develop team spirit, and so forth). The work I do is positive and thus the people in the companies that call me usually look forward to my coming. Especially in this case, they already knew me, so I settled in and relaxed as the plane carried me to this assignment. "This will be an easy one, a piece of cake", I thought.

How wrong! The people who met me at the door (the personnel Director and Operation Manager) were shaken. "We have got a big problem" were their first words. They briefed me on it as they hurried me down the hall to the conference room. The union had become quite belligerent over the past year, had god wind of my coming, and was determined to use my coming there to bring a number of grievances to a head. So instead of a pleasant project with some old friends, I found myself the centerpiece of a nasty conflict.

By then, we were at the conference room and they flung the door open for me. I entered hesitantly into an atmosphere so tense, it pinched sitting stiffly on the other side of rectangular table, a sour look on their faces, were four union delegates. The company official motioned me into a chair and took their seats along the wall to my left. I was alone facing the angry delegation. Without fanfare or introduction the Personal Director began. I have filled Dr. Hawley in on the situation and have told him that we have agreed to your demand that a union representative sits in all every talk he conducts with employees."

I was taken a back what he said. In my work confidentiality and anonymity are critical- it is a part of the ethics, the dharma of what I do. I sat there in shock growing more concerned. I came expecting to solve problems, not to be one! Here I began, an instant failure! Dread began to creep in. "Well" I said. "I do not work that way." I noticed my voice beginning to pinch, as it does when fear takes over.

The Union representative butted in. "If you don't agree, we are going to call in the National Labour Relation Board, and we will walk off the job in protest". The company people flinched, Oh dear, I thought.

The personal Director nervously picked up the phone and dialed the company President, said a few words and handed the phone to me. "Hi Jack", the president said, "Glad you are here, hope you have a nice trip. Uh we have thought about this and decided to agree to the union's demand. That is okay with you, is not it?" I paused to catch my breath, the quite in the room was deafening. "Um That is not the way I work." I said my voice dry. "Oh", it was his turn to pause. "I will call you back", and he hanged up.

I cradled the phone and turned toward the angry faces, wondering what's is next. Then rising up slowly out of the center of the table between the Union People, and me came a life size two-dimensional image of Swami! It was his head and shoulder, as though He were sitting in the table with us. He was moving His head, there was a playful, impish smile on His face, and His hair and robe were of lighter color than usual.

I realized that he was transparent! It is like one of those TelePrompTer devices that T.V speech gives-giver, but the viewers can't see the words and think the speakers are looking at them. Well, here I could look at the union people "through" Swami, and they looked back at me, but they could not see him. The company people could not see him either from they sat, only me.

I was fascinated with Swami's Leela, with this expression of His love for me. I was taken by His peacefulness. The atmosphere in the room began to change. Calmness had entered and was setting in. Swami's strong love was dissolving my fear. My power returned my voice came back. I sat up and squared my shoulder. There was a laugh inside me, close to surface.

As though trying to catch me before it is too late, the Union Chief piped up, more loudly that before, "Well, agree to it or we walk" I answered my voice fully recovered. "You do what you have to do and I will do what I have to do."

At that moment the phone rang, the personal Director handed to me. It is the President, who had apparently been talking with some advisors. "Do it your way. Jack," he said, "Let the chips fall where they have to".

The whole thing had a happy ending. The project goes smoothly. I talked to, privately, with many employees. After some initial ratting, the union people got along with the program many of them saying how glad they are to get this chance to discuss issues confidently. Within six month most of the long-seething problems were gone.

Now several years later, I still look back on that wondrous pop up image of Sathya Sai Baba with great love in my heart. He is always with us! He does not speak in metaphors. Everything He says He means even when we were too troubled or hurt or sacred to ask. He comes!

I did not call out to Him in the conference room. I didn't mutter "Om Sai Ram". I did not say "Om" in my head like Krishna directed Arjuna to do. I wish I did, but I forgot to! All I did was need him.

He did not slap me that time to grab my attention. Nor did he have me slap my son to grab His. The drinking problem worsened for a time and then in my deepest bottom, it abruptly ended! Did the boy also receive a visit from the calm, loving see-through Baba? I do not know, but he joined a 12-step program, got a good job, a car and new friends and had not taken a drink for four years. Not one. It is as though he had been granted a new life?. All needed only one thing: We need him!

Aum Sri Sai Ram
(By Dr. Jack Hawley)


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