It’s an amazing thing, perspective; it’s all to do with how we perceive things as individuals. One man’s success is another man’s failure and what may seem fantastic to one person may be run-of-the-mill to another. I would like to share with you a personal experience that I believe illustrates this very aptly.
In October 2009 when I went to the ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of the Highest Peace), of Sri Sathya Sai Baba for the first time, I met an Australian man named Dave. ”Aussie Dave” as I called him, was just one of many wonderful characters that I encountered during my two-week stay. I first spoke to Dave after darshan one evening. I can’t remember the circumstances, but I do remember having seen him around the ashram and in darshan before then. He was a big man, but when you spoke to him you realised he had a heart of gold. After our encounter in the darshan hall I bumped into him a couple more times before he went back to Australia. There was one particular conversation I had with him that I found both interesting and surprising. I should point out here that whenever devotees of Baba cross paths it is always, without exception, because Baba has engineered it; and there is always a reason.
I was in awe of many of the people I spoke to during my stay, and Dave was no exception, because Baba had only come into my life in 2001 and this was the first time I’d received the call. Dave had been a devotee for many years and had experiences with Swami that I could only ever dream about. He showed me a ring he was wearing that Baba had materialised for him; he also said that this was his eighth visit to Prasanthi (sometimes he brought his wife but on this occasion he’d travelled alone) and not only had he been granted interviews with Baba as part of a group, but he’d also had a personal interview as well. I was green with envy, but not in a bad way; I was very happy for him that Swami had showered him with so much grace, but at the same time I was thinking ”I wish I’d had those experiences too”. He also told me what I thought was quite an amusing story.
On the occasion in question he’d travelled to Prasanthi alone and was lucky enough to have been summoned with some other devotees for a group interview. He told how Baba had been speaking to him and suddenly left and went into an adjoining room. Dave said that Swami seemed to take an age before he came back and there had also been crashing sounds coming from the other room; as if filing cabinets were being opened and closed. He went on to say that Baba suddenly appeared again, threw one of his robes at him and said ”here, give that to your wife”!
Anyway, I digress, back to perspective and the point of this article. There I was in awe of this man’s experiences with my wonderful Swami, he’d visited the ashram eight times, had group and personal interviews, had a ring that Swami materialised for him and he also had one of Baba’s coveted robes back home in Australia. It all made my experiences seem so trivial. After all, apart from the astral experience I had with Baba in December 2006, my encounters with my loving Guru consisted mainly of visitations during dream state. But, when I shared with Dave my humble exploits with the ”God Man” I was dumbfounded to hear him say ”I’ve never experienced anything like that”. He was genuinely amazed when I shared my experiences with him.
I’ve always heard devotees say that Baba knows us all inside out and he only ever gives us exactly what we need for our long-term spiritual growth and well-being. He also only connects with us in ways that we can best relate to him; and I would agree with that 100%. I often think of that conversation I had with Aussie Dave and still try to get my head around why, a man who’d had such incredible first hand experiences with The Avatar of the age, would be so amazed at mine, which seemed so trivial compared to his. Having said that, I remain the only person I know who has had an astral experience with Baba.
I know there was a special lesson for me contained within that conversation. I know also that I am ever so grateful for the experiences that I’ve had with Sri Sathya Sai Baba, even if they don’t seem as spectacular as some other people’s.
But I suppose it’s all just a matter of perspective!