Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Miracles

  Howard Murphet
(1906 - 28-9-2004 [Birthday of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba])

Books by Howard Murphet:
Man of miracles

The Lights of Home

Howard Murphet is well known to Sai Devotees world wide. In the mission of the Sai Avatara, Howard was called forward, along with others (most notably, Jack Hislop) and chronicled his experiences seeking the spiritual path, discovering Sai Baba, deepening his store of wisdom (and finally, to his great joy, his store of prema) and sharing those experiences in print. Howard has a most frank manner of writing. His is the rare knack of involving his reader in his narrative and his questions, and the answers to the many questions he raised about Sathya Sai Baba. The result was a magnificent trilogy of Sai books, Sai Baba-Man of Miracles, Sai Baba-Avatar, and Sai Baba-Invitation to Glory.

In a darkening era when the lights of humanity have been dimmed by planet-wide wars, governments economies of welfare, the population explosion, and the gee-whiz electronics in home, hearth and workplace that divide the haves from the have-nots, Howard Murphet emerges as a beacon shining in the darkness, guiding those in travail to the safe shores of Sathya Sai Baba.

Howard has been to war. He evaluated the cause of war spiritually, before joining up. He knew there was a great spiritual goal of his life, amid the twists and turns he has observed in his ninety plus years. He is a modern Parsifal, a knight of the Round Table in search of the Holy Grail which he called his "Star of Destiny" or his Star of the East". Howard Murphet's quest was to discover that star and satisfy the restless yearning in his soul.

This modern Knight-Errant of the pen, since his days as a school teacher in Tasmania, had always sought a deeper meaning in the affairs of humanity, and sought to improve humanity at large via the humble offering of his skill with eye, pen, learning, writings, and his finely honed discrimination. This is the true vidyartha, the true cumulative wealth of an education pursued beyond the classroom and which gives a great wealth to humanity. His labours with the pen and his spiritual seeking are an embodiment of that ancient prayer:
Asatoma sadgamaya
Tamasoma, jyotirgamaya
Mrithyorma, amritam gamaya
Amritam, gamaya

(From the Unreal, lead us to the real,
From Darkness, lead us to light
From Death lead us to immortality)
This time Howard Murphet was born in Tasmania, the 'apple isle' of Australia, in 1906. His family came from a strong Christian background, and he was blessed with a mother of great faith, whom he names as his first guru. In his youth, he had a miracle after falling into a deep pond, and later on, had a vision of another world, perhaps Heaven:
As I gazed upwards into the blue, absorbed in the beauty of this dome-like roof of the world, suddenly a window appeared in the roof. Beyond the window was a glorious scene that made me feel I was looking into Heaven. There was a radiant light shining on white or light-coloured buildings in the background. In the foreground were figures moving about as if in a street scene. Their robes were of rich colours with red and gold predominating. I could see some of their faces which to me looked wise, benign and somehow noble. I remember too that there was a soft drift of heavenly music coming through the window and reaching my ears as I lay on my back among the silent oats. A wave of bliss flooded through me as time stood still. Then as suddenly as it had come, the window disappeared, leaving nothing but the clear blue of the sky. But I knew that the radiant, heavenly scene in the sky had been real while it lasted....Was it really Heaven I had been looking into, I wondered... but I had not seen the golden throne of God, and the figures moving about did not have wings, as angels should, according to my mother.
Howard Murphet spent his childhood attending the local one-teacher school until the teacher married and left. Due to the required number of children in attendance falling below the necessary levels, the school did not reopen. Young Howard commenced working on his father's farm. When a new teacher arrived his talent was quickly spotted and a regime of attending school one hour earlier every day, to make up for lost ground was instituted for him. This was prepare for the state examination. Howard, like all bush children of his day, he had to get up even earlier again and milk the cows before going to school! He passed the examination and commenced attending classes at boarding school in Launceston. He was inclined, at one stage to enter the church and become a minister. He changed his mind, and entered teacher training college and the University of Tasmania, Hobart. He had great ideals about education in forming childrens minds in such a way to build character and integrity. He was to later become disillusioned:
"It was a terrible disillusionment to find myself caught up in the mechanics of a factory where knowledge was fed in at one end, called the classroom, and came out at the other, called the examination room. By the end of my first year as a teacher, I had realised the futility of my altruistic dream, my dream of laying the foundation stones for a new world in the classrooms of Tasmania. The idea was laughable and, thank God, I still had my sense of humour. I would have resigned then but I was bonded to teach for four years to pay for my training at the Teachers' College and University."
Howard left Tasmania for Melbourne where he had a brief sojourn in suburban newspapers. He had come to realise that there was an important knack to writing, finding the unusual, the unexpected facet of something amusing, something that revealed a quirk of human nature. The great depression had begun, and when the newspaper decided he and his stories were superfluous, so Howard joined thousands of other jobless men roaming the country. They were called 'bagmen'. Part of the financial mobility of men on the swag was begging, but in the vernacular slang, it was called the "bite". Howard explained:
"Generally the 'bagmen' seemed to think that the community owed them their food and were not averse to begging. But they never used the word 'beg'. It was always 'bite'. Perhaps they thought that this word made the act seem less demeaning. Though some great spiritual masters, such as Gautama the Buddha and Shirdi Sai Baba, carried their begging bowls as a religious ritual to give their fellow men the spiritual merit of giving, I myself had not reached this status with its accompanying humility to beg for food, even if it was called 'bite'. I always carried a small amount of money to buy the food I needed, though I was ashamed to let my fellow 'bagmen' know this. Once this led me into a trap. I had gone with a fellow traveller known as Bill the Bagman into the shopping area of a small town to 'bite' some food for breakfast and the rest of the day. He had un- concernedly gone into several shops and in each case came out laden with supplies. Announcing that we had all that we needed except butter. Bill said to me pointedly, "It's your turn now to 'bite' the butter." We were standing in front of a very modern-looking shop that would today be called a mini-supermarket. I went in and bought half a pound of butter. When I came out. Bill looked at me with approval and some admiration. 'That was a very good bite," he said, "in a shop like this." I was ashamed to tell him that I had actually bought it. After that I always did my shopping alone, instead of in the company of an experienced 'beggar' or 'biter'."
After gaining employment in Sydney and studying the art of copywriting, Howard decided he would better serve his cause overseas and sailed to the United Kingdom. He arrived in London on the eve of World War II. He had a deep conviction that the war was a just war and was determined to be involved. He joined the British Red Cross, under whose auspices he travelled to France. Soon after he was to enlist in the Horse Guards and trained as an officer. Attempting to catch his regiment and take up the theatre of war, he arrived in Jerusalem and spent three months waiting assignment. He took time to visit the Holy Land and various sacred places such as Nazareth, Bethany, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives. Thereafter he was assigned to the Eighth Army as an Escort Officer for War Correspondents. He served with the Eighth Army from El Alamein to Tunis, took part in the invasion of Sicily and Italy and later, with the British Second Army, the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Under instructions from the War Office ws to visit a Concentration Camp and make independent verifications of the horrors being reported. He also interviewed some inmates of the one concentration camp. His final task before being stood down from active service was the charge of the British Press Section at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials.

After spending further time in post-war Germany (he felt a curious affinity to the German peoples), Howard returned to Australia. There, he began to attend Yoga classes and study Yoga. He had a bliss experience, and went out of his body whilst attending bhajans.
"I think it was during the chant 'Oh God Beautiful', which appealed to me greatly, that I was flooded with bliss. So much so, my consciousness disappeared. Nothing existed anywhere but the unutterable bliss of being. I came out of it, back to consciousness, as my body fell sideways, almost hitting the floor. This out-of-time experience of the Ananda that is part of our inner nature, taught me a number of things. A practical one was the reason for having a firm seat, preferably cross-legged on the floor, for meditation practice. The aim of meditation is to reach that state of samadhi of which I had tasted a little. With its coming, awareness of the world vanishes and, unless firmly seated in a stable position, the meditator is liable to fall to the floor, as I almost did. More importantly, however, the experience was a reaffirmation of the Reality I sought. Brief tastes of it, such as this, whet the appetite for the bottomless chalice of ambrosia, and to find it the pilgrim moves onward, ever onward."
Several years after participating in Yoga classes, Howard met Iris, his wife to be and companion in travels and spiritual seeking. Together they studied and travelled to Europe. Howard was to visit his beloved Germany again, and England. After visiting and attending a spiritual practice called Subud for a time, they sailed East to attend the School of Wisdom at theTheosophical Society's Adyar Institute, on the river Adyar, Madras, in 1964.

Howard and Iris settled in at Adyar and took up the School of Wisdom. Thereafter, they travelled North to visit some of the many ashrams in the Himalayas, first stopping at Dharmasala and calling on the Dalai Llama. Moving on to other ahsrams, they visited the Sivanandanagar Ashram, the newly-constructed ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the ashrama of Charan Singh, and the Radha Soami colonies founded by Sahibi Maharaj. Shortly after returning to Adyar and Madras, Howard and Iris met Sathya Sai Baba for the first time. Later, Howard was to travel to Puttaparthi alone and attend the Shivarathri celebrations. Howard describes his arrival at Prasanthi Nilayam:
Listening to the sweet sacred music that floated trom the prayer hall, I could see that what Kasturi called the prayer hall was in the largest building, in the centre of the ashram. It was a white, two-storey building with a veranda and balcony in front. Near me was a line of single-storey terraces, out of which Kasturi had come. On the side over which the sun was now dipping, were more low buildings, and on the opposite side from where I sat were two large open sheds. Something inward must have happened to me as I sat there in the glorious peace coloured by the sunset and filled with sacred music. All I know is that there, sitting on my valise, I decided that Sai Baba was too great for just one chapter in the book I was proposing to write. The whole book must be about him. The haunting strains of Arati were sounding, though I did not know its name then, when Kasturi reappeared. My first words were, "I have decided to write a book on Sai Baba." I saw doubt written all over his face but he said politely, "Well, that will be nice if it happens." Perhaps his lack of faith in my statement came from the fact that others had made similar statements and promptly forgot about them. Kasturi's next words were "Swami has told me to put you in the Guest House".
The search had not ended. Howard had certainly found his Star of Destiny, his Star of the East that he had sought all his life. It was the Crown Prince of Venkatagiri who shared his belief with Howard that Sathya Sai Baba was a full incarnation of God, an "avatar". Howard departed Puttaparthi, armed with books gifted by Sathya Sai Baba, and was determined to answer the question, "was he also an avatar, a descent of God to earth?"

Howard, has written that he was "probably the first from the Western world to come to Sathya Sai Baba as a Western skeptic and stay with Him or near Him for some six years in India in order to solve the problem of His true Identity and why He was here in the world. After returning to the west I have been back many times, pulled by the strong magnet of the Divine Love and fascination of One I decided was an Avatar of God. He taught me what an Avatar is. His relationship to orqdinary human beings in the world and how His Purpose was to lead those who are ready, to their own inner Guru or the God within. I did not immediately accept Him as an Avatar, but after He taught me in a humble manner what an Avatar is and how we are all Avatars, descendants from God without being aware of it. As I stayed on I became more and more certain that He was indeed an Avatar. This is not based on the fact that He materialises things."

Howard has used the ancient vedantic method of learning in his evaluation of Sathya Sai. This is critical today. This is Howard's gift to devotees. Sai Baba himself says: Well. Making the questioner himself give out the answers Is the Sanathana method of teaching. If those who question, themselves give the answers, they would clearly understand the subject. The lecturing style Is different. In olden days, all the Rishis enabled their disciples to understand Vedanta only by this method.

Those who read Howard's books must follow in his footsteps and ask their own questions, or they will create their own version Sathya Sai and be filled with doubt instead of their own explored questions and answers. Someone else's questions and answers do not lead to liberation. In this wise, Howard has been an exemplar who has adequately illuminated the path for others to walk. The task of the devotee is excavation of Truth.

Howard describes greatest of the Sai miracles is the Divine Love by which He brings about a deep change in the nature of people, his followers. "I experienced this also in 1966 on the first occasion when I was alone with Sai Baba. I have described this inner change which might be called the birth of the Christ-child within one. We are born of course with the embryo of the Divine Child within us but this initiation that Swami gives things about the actual birth of the Christ within, then, it is that we begin to know the meaning of true Love and the feeling of oneness with our brother man. This comes about gradually through the years after what I have called the birth of the Christ-child or the initiation into the Divine Life. Many,many people throughout the years have been changed in this way, this deep rooted inner change that is really your first footstep on the path of the homeward journey. Then there is the great compassion of Sai Baba which requires miraculous action for its fulfilment."

In 1982 Howard was diagnosed as having an incurable disease He prayed very earnestly for healing. He was in a beautiful room in the Adelaide Hills "while Sai Baba in the body was of course at that time in India at His ashram. My prayer was so intense that after a sleep on a couch while the sun was shining through the windows I woke up to see Swami's Hand and Arm as it circled over me and I knew hat He had come, that this was a healing gesture. I saw it in that brief time between being asleep and fully awake when as you might have heard, everybody has a short period of clairvoyance. When that short period has passed His Hand and Body disappeared from my vision but He was still there in the room and I knew this by the unbelievably soul-moving sense of the luminous in the room, In fact the room was filled by it and it penetrated the wall to where my wife was sitting in the breakfast room and then when Swami left, the luminous went too. This is what the ancient Romans called "sense of the Presence of the Divine" (the luminous or lumina). Well, I knew that I was cured of the disease and all tests afterwards proved that this was so."

Howard writes, although blind: "Before I came into Sai Baba's private interview, near the end of 1989, I had accepted unhappily the prospect of a silent rest from the labours of writing, which had been my life and joy for many years. As Swami knew, through retinal haemorrhages into both eyes, I was quite unable to read or write. All I had was minimal peripheral vision in one eye. But in a firm, commanding voice he said, "You must write the book that's in there." He patted my chest. "Go home and write it and bring it back to me in two years." My wife and two friends who were present in the room looked startled at this royal command. "May he have a co-author to help him?" asked my wife. "No," replied Swami. "He must write his own book. I will give him all the help he needs." I knew that I must somehow carry out this task set me by my divine Master. But how? For many years my writing had been born of a happy partnership between me and an old typewriter. The art of prose writing demanded that I work with words and phrases on the written page, polishing towards perfection or as near to it as attain- able. To reach a satisfactory standard in prose expression through auditory means would be quite impossible for me. Yet I must make the attempt.

The Lord Sai's help is often given through the hands of others. I saw the first signs of this when a dictaphone and other equipment necessary almost fell into my lap. This was mainly through the help of some occupational therapists at Concord Hospital, Sydney. So began a new, unfamiliar road to creative writing. So Where the Road Ends was written by its blind author. Howard's days are not over, he resides quietly in the Blue Mountains area of New South Wales, Australia, some two hours drive from Sydney.
Insofar as Howard has
-discovered his light
-said why it is his light
-pointed others toward that light
-given those others a method by which too make their own evaluation and excavate the truth for themselves
-He does all an invaluable service in thhe gloom of Kali Yuga, and the wakening dawn of the Golden Age.
Howard once told me his favourite poem was "Brahma"
If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1867
[He spread the glory of Bhagawan to the western world. Even today, many know Bhagawan through Sai Baba: Man of Miracles translated world-wide in various languages. For many years, Howard had been Baba?s constant travel companion. Both Iris and Howard had been with Baba to Madras, Ooty, Venkatagiri, Bangalore and other places throughout India. Howard, records these visits with love and reverence in his three books on Baba. Baba would play on the pronunciation of his name and ask, ?Murphet, are you perfect?? A common joke but one impregnated with much deeper meaning. ?Editor

Chris Parnell, long-time editor and writer on Baba.Presently he 
is the moderator of various e-groups on Bhagawan on the Web. 

Online source

Howard would be so happy now, as he has looked forward to this event for the last couple of years.  He dearly missed Iris and could contact her only infrequently through a clairvoyant.
Howard was a couple of months short of his 98th birthday and left his body very peacefully.
It is hard to imagine that it was not until he was in his mid fifties that he first met Sai Baba.  On the first visit to Puttaparthi (Howard had seen Swami previously in Madras) he was motivated to write a book.  His beautiful flowing literary style and incredible memory for events, which only left him in the last few months, made the book one of the most important in Swami's mission - "Man of Miracles".  Many thousands of people first learnt of Sai Baba through that amazing book of which tens of thousands of copies have been sold.

The experiences and closeness that Howard enjoyed when so few westerners travelled to Puttaparthi or had even heard of Swami can only be wondered at with awe by those who have followed him.

Howard went on to write several more books, the latest being published early in 2004, fulfilling an instruction that Siva had given to Howard a few years before.

Howard's life is one that can truly be celebrated as an instrument of the Divine.  I think his only regret in passing was that Swami told him he had to return one more time, whereas Iris has merged with Swami.  The compensation is that Swami assured him that he would assist in the mission of Prema Sai.

Howard would want his crossing of the River Jordan, as he referred to it, to be a real celebration and an occasion that would inspire all of us to become better devotees and to move closer to realise the Divinity within.

Sai Ram
Posted by Ross on 28.09.2004
A message from our sister in Australia.

Dear friends,

It is with much sadness that I bring the news that our dear Howard Murphett passed away this morning (Tuesday) after lapsing into a coma yesterday.  He
leaves behind thousands of people who have found themselves at our Beloved Sai's feet through his books, particularly his "Man of Miracles", and I am just one of them.  How forever indebted we are to our dear Howard.

My husband and myself and two good Sai friends had lunch with Howard not all that long ago whereby he stated simply and matter-of-factly that he was "ready to go", that he had one more book to finish and release before doing so.  He also said there would be one more book released after his passing.  We'll have to leave that in Swami's hands.

During this lunch Howard had just completed reading Erkhardt Tolle's book "The Power of Now" and his last words to us that day as he held the book was, "here in this book is all one needs to know, it is all here!".

I believe Howard's funeral is scheduled for next Tuesday (5th October).   How very much he will be missed.

Om Sai Ram, Om Sai Ram, Om Sai Ram.
Posted by Mary on 28.09.2004



Biography - Howard Kelvin Murphet - 1906 - 2004

"I entered this world on the 4 November 1906 and I grew up on a farm near Launceston, Tasmania." With loving parents who instilled in him a high code of compassion, ethics and morality, his life on the farm was rich and satisfying.

Early events of what might be called ?divine grace? sowed the seeds of a life-long interest in the supernatural. Laying down on his back looking up at a clear blue sky, suddenly a window appeared in the dome-like roof of the world: "Beyond the window was a glorious scene that made me feel like I was looking into Heaven. There was radiant light shining on buildings, moving figures with wise and noble faces, and heavenly music as well. A wave of bliss flooded through me as time stood still." This and other experiences at such a young age no doubt played their part in shaping Howard?s future destiny as a voice to the world announcing spiritual masters.

In contrast to his forming life, he found the compulsory hours at his one-teacher school dragged on interminably. Once at high school his delights knew no bounds. "It was a wonderful experience, a great adventure. I loved the unfamiliar smells of new books and the chemical laboratory. All of the teachers were excellent, had degrees and wore their academic gowns." His father generously sent him off for two years to what is now the oldest school in Australia, Launceston Church of England Grammar School

Already at this early age of sixteen, Howard was wondering more about Godly matters than most other boys his age, due perhaps in large part to his mother?s devotion to religion: "Many noble spiritual teachings were given to me by my first guru, my mother. Some of them ? God?s omniscience, for example ? I dropped as quite irrational as I passed along the corridors of secondary school and university. Yet years later, in the garden of meditation and greater understanding, I discovered new facets of my maternal spiritual teachings and knew them to be gems of truth."

Howard enrolled in the Hobart Teachers? College and developed his love of good literature, pointing him towards Tennyson, Browning, Keats, Emerson, Dickens and others, with Tennyson his favourite poet: "I often quote Tennyson in things I write."

However the practice of teaching was a disappointment and Howard at the age of twenty-four left the safe profession of teaching at the start of the Great Depression and arrived in Melbourne to start the Collingwood Clarion. It did so well that he sold it after a few months so he could work as a sports journalist on the evening edition of the Argus, a large Melbourne daily.

When Howard was twenty-six the paper closed down, leaving him unemployed. So he teamed up with a friend and they "went on the ?track?. Kenneth Slessor, the editor of Smith?s Weekly, had agreed to publish Howard?s articles and paragraphs about the ?bag-men? ? the vast numbers of unemployed men ?on the track?. "You were an accomplished bag-man if you could jump the ?Sydney Limited?. It used to go romping up from Melbourne to Sydney with smoke billowing out from the coal-burning engine. So we jumped the Sydney Limited and arrived in Sydney."

Howard met Gwen who was to become his first wife. Just before the start of the war with Germany in 1939, they travelled by sea to England with the intention of gaining more experience in advertising and commercial art; but "?.soon after we arrived the war came, and all of our plans fell through as the big daily newspapers were all reduced to four pages, and there was little room for advertising. So I had to move in another direction then."

Howard, "seeking adventure", went over to France as a driver with the British Red Cross. After Dunkirk he joined the ambulance service for a few months at the start of the bombing blitz on London; then, at age thirty-five Howard joined the British Army in an officer?s cadet training unit, resulting in his being commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Then came postings as a motor transport officer with the Ninth Battalion in Ireland, then Port Suez in Egypt and finally time spent training Jewish and Palestinian troops in Palestine. The chagrin felt from missing out on immediate action in the Western Desert soon changed to a deep soul-nurturing delight as he began visiting the many holy places "?.written indelibly into the fabric of my childhood culture. While walking in places where the feet of Jesus had trodden, I seemed to move, myself, out of time into the eternal. While sitting one afternoon in the Garden of Gethsemane near a battered olive tree that was old enough to have witnessed the agony of Jesus in this very garden before the day of his crucifixion, I realised that the way of life for which we were fighting had begun here."

The hand of destiny saw him transferred to the Desert as an officer ? now captain - conducting war correspondents to wherever good news stories were available: "As the Battle of Alamain raged, I took my party of war correspondents to whichever part of the line promised the most interesting action." His supply truck was blown up and later, near Benghazi, his staff car was also destroyed with a "brother officer" losing both his legs. After the long desert campaign came the invasion of Sicily. Now with the Fifth Division, Howard landed with his allotted war correspondent from the London News Chronicle: "I can see him now as we waded onto a beach from a small landing craft, his typewriter held high above his head, while bullets from a German aircraft whistled around our ears." Once Sicily was taken, General Montgomery led the Eighth Army in Italy where Howard was now in charge of "three stars among the British war correspondents at that time ", including the Australian-born Alan Moorehead who was later to become famous as an author of non-fiction books. During both invasions Howard had begun to write feature articles himself which he learned to market successfully.

After duty in Paris and Brussels, Howard flew home to London to welcome his newborn son whom he named Richard, after Richard- the-Lionhearted. His joy was short-lived however as his next assignment was to visit and write a report on the Belsen concentration camp not far from Hanover in Germany, which had just been liberated. His journey ?into the horror pit?, as he called it, was indeed ten days of descent into what had been a sub-human world. The emancipated inmates, the piles of rotting corpses and the tales of unspeakable crimes against humanity gave stark clarity to his understanding of why Nazism had to be stopped whatever the cost in human life. Later, soon after the surrender of Germany, he was further reminded of this imperative when he was in charge of the British Press Section at the Nuremberg Trials.

The end of the war also saw the end of the marriage between Howard and Gwen ? they had grown too far apart during those terrible six years. Gwen returned to Australia and her family with young Richard, while Howard was to spend another five years in Germany, first as an official of the Control Commission, and then as the director of public relations and advertising for NAAFI (Navy, Army and Airforce Institutes) in Western Europe.

The year 1951 saw Howard at the age of forty-five returning to Sydney, yet the call to travel and search for ?something? remained with him. The ?finger of God? answered this call in 1955 by prompting him to attend yoga classes in the Adyar Headquarters of the Theosophical Society. By a mutual mistake, he met his future wife, Iris, waiting at the closed doorway to the yoga school. Choosing the newly-discovered Liberal Catholic Church ? founded and staffed by officials of the Theosophical Society - as their wedding venue, there began a quickening of their- hitherto dormant- spiritual quest. Soon after, they both went to a lecture at the Self-Realisation Fellowship founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, the author of ?Autobiography of a Yogi.?

During a lesson practising one of Yogananda?s chants, Howard was flooded with bliss: "So much so, my consciousness disappeared. Nothing existed anywhere but the unutterable bliss of being. The experience was a reaffirmation of the Reality I sought. Brief tastes of it, such as this, whet the appetite for the bottomless chalice of ambrosia, and to find it the pilgrim moves onward, ever onward." And so, with both searching for how to attain the spiritual dimension, the year-long married couple sailed for Athens in 1960 on the first leg of what would prove to be a most extraordinary adventure.

In the spring of 1961, they joined the twenty-member Subud colony at Coombe Springs outside London. During the next two years in England and Spain, Howard earned his living writing articles on yoga and psychic phenomena. This work was accompanied by the publication of his first book, ?Yoga for Busy People?, which sold well for many years. His psychic research led them into the Theosophical Society?s library in the West End which in turn led them to be accepted as students in the School of the Ancient Wisdom at the Theosophical Society Headquarters at Adyar, in Madras, India.

Based at Adyar, they ventured forth and spent time with the young Dalai Lama and imbibed a banquet of spiritual understanding through meeting many extraordinary figures including the renowned J. Krishnamurthi, Swami Ranganatananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Tat Wallah Baba, among others.

Then came the truly pivotal event in Howard?s life; his journey to Sri Sathya Sai Baba?s ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam, near Bangalore. This not only opened his spiritual heart to an extent he could never have even dreamed of, but also inspired the writing of his best-selling book ?Sai Baba, Man of Miracles?. He had witnessed truly astonishing miracles ? including the covering of a large Shirdi Sai Baba statue by holy ash created by Baba?s hand inside an upturned small empty urn, and the production of a lingam from Sai Baba?s mouth ? and heard of many more miracles from other devotees. He began his writing.

However, much time and extensive research would be demanded of him in biographies of the two founders of the Theosophical Society, Colonel H.S. Olcott and Madam H.P. Blavatsky. Writing of the two biographies throughout 1967, funded under a Writer?s Fellowship from the Kern Foundation in America. The first of the two, ?Hammer on the Mountain?, is a detailed and inspiring account of one of the most outstanding men that ever lived - Henry Steel Olcott.

The second biography, ?When Daylight Comes?, on the controversial Russian noblewoman, Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, would be completed upon their return to Australia in 1971 and 1972.

Howard?s attention was now directed towards his writing of ?Man of Miracles?. Saturated with first-hand accounts of Baba?s miracles, told with the copy-writer?s economy of language and interwoven with a deep understanding of the Avatar?s teachings, ?Man of Miracles?, was first published in 1971. It has since published in every major language, selling tens of thousands of copies and led "many people to the Light."

In the midst of writing ?Man of Miracles? from their base at Adyar, Howard and Iris still found time to visit the ashram of the late Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry, thus beginning a life-long study of this great spiritual master?s published works. Then, after the completion of ?Man of Miracles?, they set off in the footsteps of that earlier writer/seeker, Paul Brunton, to visit the sacred mountain of Arunachala at whose feet rests the ashram of the late Ramana Maharshi, famed for his teachings on self-enquiry. There they spent time with Arthur Osborne and his wife: "It was this gifted spiritual searcher who wrote the book ?The Incredible Sai Baba? (on Shirdi Sai) which had done so much in our lives", as well as the seminal work, ?The Life and Teachings of Ramana Maharshi?.

After six years in India, Howard and Iris travelled back to Australia, settling in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Following four years of absence from their beloved guru in sacred India, in 1974 Howard and Iris were now able to return for another stay. This not only provided them with wonderful spiritual nourishment, again in close physical proximity to Sai Baba for much of the time, but also further material for Howard?s second book on Sai Baba, ?Sai Baba Avatar?, which he wrote after their 1976 return to Australia. This book chronicles a further host of miraculous events and expands in more depth upon the timeless spiritual philosophy taught by Sai Baba: "But perhaps my main reason for writing was that, after a period of rumination and contemplation on the subject, followed by a return journey into the realm of Divine Power, Love and Glory, I felt a strong need to say more, to make one more attempt to express that which is ultimately inexpressible."

In 1982 he published his third book on Sathya Sai Baba, ?Sai Baba: Invitation to Glory?, which not only adds to the storehouse of recorded miracles, but also paints a literary mosaic of how Sai Baba?s teachings can be applied in everyday life.

Howard made good use of another fellowship from the Kern Foundation to write on a topic he had been researching ever since their days at Coombes Springs when he could immerse himself in the London library of the Society for Psychical Research - our experience after dying. First published in 1984 as ?The Undiscovered Country? and again in 1990 as ?Beyond Death: The Undiscovered Country?, the book begins with scholarly essays on how the subject of death has been viewed throughout history. Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross acclaimed the book: "a masterpiece? and ?a remarkable scholarly study".

In the year when he turned eighty-three, it is understandable that Howard thought his writing days were over: "Through retinal haemorrhages in both eyes, I was quite unable to read or write. All I had was minimal peripheral vision in one eye." But Sai Baba patted his chest and commanded him to write another book, sharing what was in his heart, and to return with the manuscript in two years. So, with Baba not permitting a co-author, and relying now on dictating and auditorial editing, Howard set forth to carry out the instruction of his guru. Sensing that his many readers were keen to hear more of how one man?s footsteps could lead unerringly to become the Avatar?s story-teller read in over twenty languages, Howard wrote his most autobiographical and heart-felt work: ?Where the Road Ends?. It is an absorbing and uplifting story of a true spiritual seeker searching indefatigably to discover the deeper purpose for which we are all born.

By 1996, when he was eighty-nine, ?Sai Inner Views and Insights? was being avidly read worldwide. The first few chapters had been written before the passing of his dearest friend and wife, Iris. With grief overwhelming him, Howard received a message from Sathya Sai Baba to visit him in India. Christmas, 1994, found the now-famous blind devotee again at the feet of his master: He was again spurred on to write the remainder of the book. For many, the most touching and revealing chapter is in the form of a long, intimate and celebratory letter to Iris. In closing that personal tribute, he writes, "Death may seem to take all away and cut all ties, but it cannot cut the link of the love that is forever. So I can still sign myself your ever-loving husband, Howard." A remarkable chapter is titled, ?Why Fear?, giving Howard?s account of how fear of death was banished forever from his life as he was standing beside a heroic tank commander amidst bursting artillery shells during the great battle of El Alamein in the Egyptian desert in 1940.

?The Lights of Home?, published in 2002 when Howard was ninety-five, is a book vibrating with love and liberating in its visionary tenor. Howard, blessed with that self-honesty and sensitivity that accompanies the drawing closer to death, writes exquisitely of his parents, precious conversations with Sai Baba, the yogas, close friends and his now vast perception of history and understanding of the timeless philosophy of spirit.

His final book, ?The Way to Love Divine?, was published in 2004. He could hear the rippling of the current on the ?River Jordan?, as he called the final crossing-over point; he could sense the awaiting embrace of his beloved Sai Baba and treasured wife, Iris. Living life to the fullest in every minute of every day remaining to him, Howard Murphet continued to work until he breathed his last. He leaves not only a legacy as Australia?s wisest spiritual voice but also as the international writer who brought many people to the truth. His books are timeless, as is the example of a life well lived.

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Posted on 24.10.2004 by Ross Woodward

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