I am the Life Coach of "Cultivate Life!" magazine and write the "Heart to Heart Coaching" questions and answers feature in each week's edition. Peter Shepherd, who edits the ezine, asked me in a telephone conversation from where I draw my inspiration. I told him about my spiritual teacher in India. Peter then asked me to do an article for the magazine on my teacher - Sai Baba. The following article is the result.
The decision to adopt Sai Baba as my Spiritual Teacher seven years ago was made in my Heart. The nearest decision-making experience to which I can compare it, is the time I made the decision to marry my wife, who is my soul mate. As with the decision to marry my wife, once made the decision felt right and this sense of rightness grew stronger with the passing years - until the bond between us now feels irrevocable.
Once I adopted Sai Baba as my Spiritual Teacher something inexplicable began to happen. As I learned ways of living a spiritual life, I entered into a deeper and deeper relationship with Him. I felt an intimate connection with Him, heart to heart.
Sai Baba is an Avatar who is omnipresent (present everywhere) and omnipotent (all powerful) - He is actually resident within each of us. That is how, if we meet Him in person, He knows our most intimate secrets and details about our life without us telling Him. However we need not be concerned that He knows everything about us because He is Love, Love, Love.
I have had a number of occasions when his omnipresence and omnipotence has been revealed to me. For example my work as the life coach on Cultivate Life! was determined by Him. Before I began to work on Cultivate Life!, I was at my wit's end. I had tried a number of avenues for my life coaching all of which had come to a dead end. I found it exhausting to coach people personally and to run groups and give talks - the normal channels that life coaches use to serve the public, because of the mental condition I live with. As a result of this impasse I did not know which direction to take. For a number of days I felt totally lost. This feeling of being stuck would not pass.
So I sat down one afternoon and wrote an email to my friend, who was staying in Sai Baba's ashram in Puttaparthi. In the email I explained the situation to Sai Baba and asked for his guidance. I then emailed the letter to my friend and asked if he would see if Sai Baba would accept it.
Once you write a letter to Sai Baba it does not necessarily have to reach Him before you receive a reply. Because He is omnipresent, He knows what is in your Heart as you write the letter!
A short while after I sent the email to my friend I received powerful inspiration to work as a life coach for an Internet self-help magazine - even though I had never heard of such a thing. I went up to my computer straight away, typed self-help magazine into Google and waited to see what would come up on the screen. I felt a special connection with the first site I went into - Peter Shepherd's Trans4mind website with the Cultivate Life! magazine.
I emailed Peter straight away with the suggestion that I become a life coach on his magazine and gave him a link to my own coaching website. I then went down and had my evening meal. When I came back to my computer 30 minutes later there was an email from Peter agreeing to my proposal. Moving from feeling completely lost to having a life coaching project up and running had taken two hours!
I have been the life coach on Cultivate Life! for six months now and as a result coach people all over the world by providing written answers to readers' questions. This fulfills a prophesy made to me by Sai Baba six years earlier, when He came to me in a vivid dream in the middle of the night and told me I was going to be an international writer! (Such dreams are really visitations by Him and not dreams as normally experienced).
A few days later I received an email from my friend in Puttaparthi to say that Sai Baba had accepted my letter!
Experiencing Communion with Your Own Personal Spiritual Teacher
Although his works proceed at this superhuman scale, devotees of Sai Baba experience a close personal bond with Him. They can write to Him, as illustrated above, go to see Him in Puttaparthi, in India where he lives, and most importantly of all, commune with Him through their own Heart.
However to achieve this we need to do the work of clearing out our persistent desires that cause us to worry and become stressed in everyday life. In this way Sai Baba helps us with our personal development and his teachings have much to say that empower us to find deeper and deeper levels of inner peace and contentment.
"Only thoughts of God and intense love for Him bring peace. As worldly thoughts diminish, thoughts of God increase. Normally the mind desires these worldly things all the time. As the desires are cut one by one, the peace becomes stronger.......When there are Godly thoughts, there is peace of mind. Swami cannot give peace of mind; one has to work for it."
So being a student of Sai Baba's teachings is not a magic formula that will suddenly solve all your problems, but it does provide a map that guides us along the right path and I can say from personal experience that this map and his presence in my life has been an invaluable foundation for living.
If you ever feel disheartened and confused, or stressed, depressed and lonely, or feel that your life lacks meaning and purpose these feelings can be overcome by expressing Love towards others in need. In my work as a life coach on the Internet I reach thousands of people and this work benefits me as well as the people I am supporting. Sai Baba encourages us to take our Love out to more and more people and in so doing heal ourselves. As He says:
"Foster the tiny seed of Love that clings to "me" and "mine". Let it sprout into Love for the group around you and grow into Love for all Mankind; and spread out its branches over animals, birds and all that creep and crawl, and let Love enfold all things and beings in all worlds."
Sai Baba – Love in Action
So how has Sai Baba demonstrated his unifying love in his own life? He has put into place a number of major projects, some of them with worldwide reach, to help Mankind. He has built hospitals that deliver healthcare free of charge, schools and universities that provide free education to the highest standards, and instigated major engineering works to benefit the poor, like the construction of dams with clean water piped to towns and villages. These have all taken place on a superhuman scale. This is all the more surprising when you discover that, although there are facilities to accept donations, these are never sought or requested.
As well as looking after his many projects worldwide, Sai Baba, or Swami, as he is more affectionately known, gives council to millions of devotees from India and abroad. This keeps him very busy!
"Again, I am active and busy, all the twenty-four hours of the day. Every day, the mail brings me thousands of letters and you hand over to me, personally, hundreds more. Yet I do not take the help of anyone else, even to open the envelope. For, you write to me intimate details of your personal problems, believing that I alone will read them and having implicit confidence in me. Each of you write only a single letter. That makes for me, a huge bundle a day, and I have to go through all of them. You may ask, how I manage it? Well I do not waste a single moment.
And all this I do, not for personal gain but, only because I have come for your sake. I never seek another's help; I offer help, never receive it. My hand always gives, it never takes. Conclude from this that this power must be Divine, not human power."
A Pre-eminent Modern Teaching on Love and the True Purpose of Religion
So what does Sai Baba teach? his speeches and talks during his life have been recorded and run to over 30 volumes. In addition many hundreds if not thousands of books have been written in support of his teachings - so there is plenty of material to draw on. I will endeavor to give you a few of the main points.
He teaches that all the great world religions, properly understood, teach the same Truth. He sees them as being like different paths to the top of the one mountain. The essence of all world religions, He says, is Love.
"All religions teach one basic discipline; the removal from the mind of the blemish of egoism, of running after little joys. Every religion teaches man to fill his being with the Glory of God and evict the pettiness of conceit. It trains him in methods of detachment and discrimination, so that he may aim high and attain liberation."
What is this liberation that he says all religions are here to teach? It is when a person experiences, after prolonged efforts at developing themselves, that the world is in perfect unity, that everything is always precisely as it needs to be, that there is nothing to fear except our own reflection and that there are no "others" for we are all One.
What is Sai Baba's Mission?
Let us see what Sai Baba says about his mission...
"Whenever there is a languishing of dharma (spiritual duty) or righteousness and an upheaval of unrighteousness, I create myself, for it is part of the primal resolution, or sankalpa, to protect the spiritual structure of the universe. I lay aside my formless essence and assume a name and a form suited to the purpose for which I come. Whenever evil threatens to vanquish good, I have come to save it from decline."
Here Sai Baba is saying that He gives birth to Himself as God in human form, by laying aside his formless state, as the invisible energy and motive power behind all evolution, and takes birth in human form so that He can move among Mankind and lead us onto the correct path.
People who visit his home at Prasanthi Nilayam, or Abode of Highest Peace, in Puttaparthi, India, sometimes find it difficult to believe that this diminutive human figure in a bright orange robe is God incarnate - but there is a reason God manifests as a human and moves among us.
"This formless being comes in the form of a human being so that he may mix with the human beings and set up examples and ideals for human beings and convey to them all aspects that they should learn."
By assuming human form, God sets an example of ideal human behavior. By appearing among us, He captures our love and motivates us to action.
"The Avatar behaves in a human way so that Mankind can feel kinship, but rises to superhuman heights so that Mankind can aspire to those heights."
Sai Baba's Presence Here on Earth has Been Predicted
For thousands of years there have been prophesies about God coming once again to live on earth. These prophesies have been across the continents and have emanated from many different human societies. They point to a superhuman being who will come to Earth and lead Mankind back to a righteous life.
Whenever human society has become deeply troubled and the ancient wisdom has been lost, such a being has been born among us to guide, teach and heal. Examples from the past include Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna. The arrival of such a superhuman on Earth is a seminal event and marks the evolution of human society from one age into another. These incarnations of God are known as Avatars.
Who can deny that our world is heading for a crisis? It is with great joy then that we can learn that Sai Baba is living as an Avatar among us today, guiding, teaching and healing. Indeed such is the demand for his services that an international airport has been built outside Puttaparthi, and an Ashram built to accommodate the many thousands of devotees who flock from all over the world, to this remote part of India, for his twice daily darshan, or being in the presence of God. Indeed on his last birthday around 2 million devotees arrived at his ashram to wish him a happy 80th birthday!