For those who missed Part One of this article please click on the link below.
Swami Moves In Mysterious Ways – Part One http://ow.ly/yFqc3
I did not realise when I started writing this post that it would be as long, so it is going to have to be in three parts and not two. Sai Ram
The taxi driver directed me to the appropriate block and then off he went on his way. A rather stern and extremely efficient seva dal booked me in, and before I could blink, a coolie grabbed my bag and proceeded to lead me to my “hotel”. When I arrived at block DD2 I could not believe my eyes. It was dormitory accommodation at its most basic! Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think for one minute that it was beneath me, it’s just that I thought I’d left dormitories behind when I left the army all those years ago. The beds were the single metal-framed type and the mattresses had been used by countless devotees over the months and years; the communal facilities were down at the far end.
A rather kindly seva dal must have sensed I was feeling disorientated and confused and he helped me find a decent mattress. Another devotee gave me a spare mosquito net, so all I needed was a shower and some suitable clothing. It was such a relief to get my smelly jeans off and get in the shower. I changed into a pair of lounge pants I’d brought with me and some flip-flops and decided to go and familiarise myself with the ashram and purchase some appropriate clothing. The only problem was that the lounge pants were too big for me and they had no pockets and by the time I got to the shop I realised that it was only open at certain times and I’d missed out; I would have to carry on as I was until the next day.
I couldn’t believe how busy the ashram was; I was getting jostled everywhere I went. It seemed that every corner I turned I was getting pushed and shoved; it was like being in the crowd at a football match. I found this quite intimidating, especially with the lack of sleep; yes, it was turning out to be quite an experience. All of a sudden I was thousands of miles from home and my life seemed to have been turned completely on its head; my comfort zone had been exchanged for searing heat, pushing and shoving, no sleep, confusion, more heat, more pushing and shoving; and I was now feeling even more disorientated and vulnerable. What I also found disturbing was the massive police and military presence on the ashram. After all, was this not The Abode of The Highest Peace? What was with all the machine guns and rifles? I was getting more confused by the minute.
At some stage I wandered past the South Indian canteen, and thinking that it was about time I ate something, I purchased some food coupons from the nearby kiosk and ventured in. I couldn’t believe how cheap the food was; just very simple vegetarian food and it tasted wonderful. I then wandered out again to face another buffeting from the hoards. By this time I’d realised that my Western flip-flops were not suitable for trudging about in all day and I was now limping from all the blisters on the bottom of my feet. One good thing was that I had established where darshan was to take place and at the appropriate time I hobbled over to the Sai Kulwant Hall in the hope that I might make make some sense of all the confusion.
At this early stage I had not been educated in the practice of laying a cushion down after morning darshan in order to reserve a place in the line for evening darshan; all that was to come. Instead I hobbled up to the entrance and was amazed to find that I had to undergo a body search before being allowed in. Now I REALLY was struggling to take it all in. There was already thousands of people seated in the hall and I made my way to a spot that gave me a good view of the mandir. This bit was quite strange because on one hand I felt like a little boy lost, my feet were killing me from the blisters, and being a big softy Westerner, I didn’t get on with having to sit for ages on a hard concrete floor either; to say I was uncomfortable was an understatement. But on the other hand, the Vedic chanting was beautiful; I’d never heard it before, and then all of a sudden it happened. I felt a pulling sensation from within my chest as though someone was actually reaching inside me and pulling on my heart. Then my eyes welled up with tears of joy. I remember thinking to myself, “it must be Swami, Swami must be coming”.
A few moments later, sure enough, I saw his tiny frame appear in the distance as he was wheeled into the hall. This was my first ever sight of the Avatar and I had the most incredible feeling of love come over me; a feeling that I’d never experienced before. I was quite a distance away from Baba, but I could see him clearly and he even seemed to position himself on the mandir in such a way that I had clear sight of him. I knew that he knew I was there and I knew that he did this especially for me. I just wished that I could have made sense of all the other stuff. When darshan was over I struggled to my feet and hobbled towards the exit. As I did so, one of the many resident pigeons in Sai Kulwant Hall emptied the contents of its bowels all over my arm. “Just about sums up my day”, I thought, as I limped on my way.
The other devotees in my vicinity in DD2 were very helpful; they understood what I was experiencing, but there was a lesson to be learned here. I had been thinking that the ashram should have been called “The Abode Of The Biggest Hassle You Ever Experienced In Your Life”, and not “The Abode Of The Highest Peace”. However, in the bed next to me was an oriental man. He never spoke to anybody, although if you spoke to him he would answer but would not engage in conversation. I couldn’t help but observe his behaviour. All he did was read his spiritual texts, meditate and sleep. He would kneel on the floor and use his bed as a table and read his book of scripture, whatever book it was. He always seemed at peace regardless. That first night in the dormitory was a nightmare for me; I still never slept a wink, so how did HE do it?
My oriental friend had a pre-bedtime meditation and immediately fell asleep. It was as though I was being told that my “Abode Of The Highest Peace” was wherever I made it; and my friend certainly was at peace. I realised afterwards that Swami had engineered the whole thing and that I was being shown that it is possible to find peace wherever you are, if you are spiritually awakened enough to transcend the “nonsense” of the material world. At the time I could not understand how that man managed to find so much peace; the noise in the dormitory at night was unbelievable. There was people coughing and snoring, and getting up to use the facilities. The door into the communal toilets was on a spring, and every time someone got up to use the amenities you heard an almighty BANG as the spring door slammed shut. I tossed and turned all night, my mind dancing around all over the place and playing all kinds of tricks on me. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever sleep again as the first devotees started to get up at around 03:30. The oriental man was one of them. He awoke and immediately had a meditation before getting on with his day.
I did not think that I could sink any lower, but Swami had other ideas, and in the third and final part of this story I will tell you all about it.