And then it happened… Absolutely nothing… Or did it?
A typical darshan in Sai Kulwant Hall
I just love that line; it’s actually how I’m going to end this post, at 21 December 2012, but I love it so much that I thought I would kick off with it as well. Anyway.. I went back to Prashanthi Nilayam in February 2010. It was a completely different experience from the first time. I went with a friend who had a medical condition that meant she was in a great deal of pain most of the time. We unwittingly booked our trip to coincide with Maha Shivaratri (Night of Shiva), which is one of the busiest festivals of the year. The village and the ashram were even more busy than when I went in 2009. Because of my friend’s constant pain we felt that the conditions on the ashram would be a bit harsh for her, so we found accommodation in the village; directly opposite a shop that sold themed T-shirts. The premises also doubled as a workshop where they put the motifs on the T-shirts themselves; the constant noise from the sewing machine was deafening!
Swami’s physical form was noticeably frailer, but his power was as immense as ever. During the course of our 10 day stay it was made clear to me that I did not need to go there again. Swami has his ways of letting you know; it was as if he was silently confirming that wherever you are in the world, you, yourself, are the One indivisible whole. If I am One with Swami, why would I need to travel thousands of miles to be in his physical presence?
In 2006, whilst living in Cirencester, I’d found Sai groups in Bristol and Swindon that I started to attend. Later on I found another group in Bath that resonated better with me. However, you may remember right at the beginning of this series of posts, I said that I’d always felt that I didn’t belong anywhere? No matter where I found myself, I always felt that I didn’t belong. When I was younger I didn’t understand why, but now I was beginning to understand more about who I really was and why I always felt like a fish out of water. I’d never felt any resonance with Spiritualism, I’d never felt that I belonged in the army and in many of my jobs in adult life; I’d got used to the idea of being quite the loner. In spite of this I was a bit disappointed to find that I felt exactly the same in the Sai groups too. Even though I met some lovely people, like Satyan, who was like a brother, and Patrick, they were very formal groups. Nonetheless, I would continue to attend sporadically for a few years to come.
I found that after my visits to Swami I started to undergo some quite drastic changes, both in day-to-day life and spiritually. I noticed that I was feeling extremely fatigued for no apparent reason. After I’d had this feeling for around 18 months, I mentioned it to Satyan one day during a visit to Bath. He said I needed to go for some urgent blood tests as it might be something serious. Satyan knows his onions, so I quickly made an appointment at my local surgery to see a nurse. I had the most extensive blood tests I’ve ever had in my life; she must have taken five vials of blood. But when the results came back, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. My GP said I probably had a mild form of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I will never forget what else he said to me, and I quote, “we don’t know what causes it and there is no cure, so you will just have to get on with it”! So I did, and I have been ever since. At some stage I learned that extreme fatigue is one of the many “symptoms” people experience when they are going through the spiritual awakening process.
I’d had a daily routine of meditation for about the last seven years, but it had got to the stage where it was starting to feel quite mechanical, and I’d started to question the validity of it. All of a sudden I found that I was no longer meditating and to this day, I very rarely meditate at all anymore. I was also used to seeing my spirit guides and getting spirit communication on quite a regular basis. Suddenly, I no longer saw my guides and spirit communication was a thing of the past. I found that when I went to serve a church or centre, I would no longer go through my routine of preparation. I would simply turn up, when I stood up my mediumship would kick-in, and when I was called to time it would shut down until the next time. There was now a divide between me and the religion of Spiritualism that was probably wider than the Grand Canyon, but I felt that a power much greater than me wanted me to continue in this environment. At first, I didn’t understand why I could no longer see or hear spirit guides.
I had always known, that ultimately, spirit guides do not exist, as there is only One Consciousness. But like a lot of things when you are unconscious, the actual meaning and implications take some time to sink in. I eventually realised that I was in the process of evolving from my illusory perspective of duality, to one of monism. I had already found that several of the Spiritualist churches and centres were no longer booking me; this had a lot to do with them feeling that my addresses were too deep and profound and people didn’t understand them. The fact was, that I only knew one way to work; and that was the way that I was being guided by Divine Spirit. So, I was in a situation where a Divine Service in a Spiritualist church was an ideal platform for me to work from, because there was always the part of the service where the medium was required to give an address. But at the same time, most people were only interested in “messages from beyond”, so there were many who didn’t like the way I worked.
As far as day jobs went, my support worker job in Avening was past its sell-by date and I knew I needed to move on. I got a similar job with another organisation, which at first seemed like a breath of fresh air, but within a matter of weeks I realised I’d gone from the frying pan into the fire, and five months later I’d moved on. Then, for my sins, I got a job in a “hotel” in Tetbury. It was an awful place; not cheap for the punters, and it was nothing more than a glorified pub. I stayed there until January 2011, after which I decided to have another go at being self-employed.
The morning of Sunday, April 24, apart from being Easter Sunday, was just another day. I got up and had my usual cups of tea, and then logged into my laptop to check emails and social media accounts. There was an email from my friend V in South Africa. It simply said, “Swami has gone”. I cried sporadically for most of the day, not out of grief, but out of the sheer joy of knowing that the God-man blessed me beyond my wildest dreams since entering my life way back in 2001. I have a tear or two in my eyes now as type. He had deteriorated drastically since the last time I was in Prashanthi, but devotees the world over had just assumed that Swami would come back as good as new. Baba’s message was always that the body is only temporary and that devotees should not worship his physical form. He had also said words to the effect of, “one day you will have to get used to this body not being here”. I said at the time that a physical form had never been intrinsic to the relationship I had with Swami, so there was no reason for anything to change now.
During the early morning of July 17 2012, I had an incredible experience with Swami in astral form. I grabbed his arm and it was as solid as solid can be. You can read the full account by clicking on this link – When The Avatar Comes Calling
Now speaking of 2012. You remember, don’t you? When the world was going to end? Well, during the build up I wrote a few spoof blog posts. If you click on the links below, you may or may not be amused by what you read:
Angels Ate My Hamster
Aliens Ate My Grandmother
After leaving the hotel in January 2011, I bumbled along; just managing to keep my head above water. I’d published more books with the advent of “on demand digital publishing”, which enabled me to publish without having to order hundreds of copies. It was a struggle but I learned from my mistakes and did most of the work myself. Cover design, formatting of text etc. I didn’t have very good equipment, so for some of the technical stuff I had to pay for services. But it was all OK. I never had fantastic sales, but there is nothing for an author quite like the buzz you get, when someone from the other side of the world contacts you and says that reading your book changed their life! Money just cannot buy that!
So, 2011 became 2012, and I continued to bumble. The months went by and before we knew what was happening we were into December, and in the blink of an eye the dreaded witching hour was upon us. The 21st loomed…
And then it happened… Absolutely nothing… Or did it?