On his birthday today, I recall an unforgettable experience and an unputdownable lesson that Swami taught me!
Today is Swami Sathya Sai Baba’s birthday. I have never met him. Or seen him.
But in the last decade his ‘presence’ has filled my Life. Vaani and I have been personally ‘coached’ by him, through his medium – a young man through whom Swami speaks to us. And what I have learnt from Swami is this: Live immersed in the moment, live in gratitude!
I remember some years ago, one evening, I sat at the Chamiers Café in Chennai brooding over my Life. Everything was so dark, so hopeless. (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) And both Vaani and I were clueless. My laptop was open in front of me. But I was staring blankly at the screen – I had no idea of what I must do, where I must begin and how I must proceed. Vaani was at home attending to her father who was ailing at that time. So, I was alone. Without her by my side, there was no one to talk to. My thoughts were steeped in worry; I was feeling insecure, anxious and fearful.
That’s when the phone rang and I snapped out of my reverie.
It was Kumar, a supremely talented music composer and sound engineer in his own right. He is my dear young friend, who is just a shade older than my own son Aashirwad. Kumar is Swami’s messenger, he’s the medium through whom Swami communicates to seekers.
Kumar asked me: “AVIS, Swami wants to know what would you be doing at the moment, if you had nothing to worry about!”
I laughed and quickly replied, “Well, I would be enjoying a drink.”
Pat came Swami’s reply, through Kumar: “Then, go have it and then call back to report!”
I don’t know why. But I didn’t protest. I didn’t argue. I didn’t analyze. I just packed my laptop bag and trudged back home. I fixed myself a drink, played my favorite R.D.Burman tracks and enjoyed myself. Three drinks down, I called Kumar.
I said: “Well Kumar, please tell Swami that I had three drinks and I am feeling good.”
Kumar asked: “Swami wants to know how much did you worry while having the drink?”
I replied: “I didn’t worry at all. I was so immersed in the joy of having a drink and listening to R.D.Burman’s immortal music. I felt grateful that I could at least have a drink in peace when there’s so much turmoil and trauma in my Life. And I was grateful for R.D.Burman’s genius – how uplifting his music is!”
Kumar then said: “Swami says, immersion in the moment is the key to being non-worrying. You didn’t immerse yourself in your drink, you immersed yourself in the moment. Your faith in Swami made you just immerse – without questions, without analysis. Now that you have known how to do this, why do you need a drink, why do you need Swami? The next time your mind races to the future or is stuck in the past, bring it to attend to the present moment. And learn to be grateful for what is. Whatever you have, be grateful for it. The circumstances are not relevant to inner peace and happiness. Your immersion in the moment is important. Your gratitude is.”
That was a very beautiful, unforgettable, one-on-one ‘coaching’ session, if you like, that I had with Swami. There have been countless such sessions. And even many, many night-long conversations, debates, arguments on the meaning of Life, on why Life is inscrutable, on keeping the faith and on how to cultivate patience. Through each of these interactions with Swami, through Kumar acting as a self-less medium, I have learnt to anchor, to be non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering, to be happy – despite my excruciating circumstances.
To me Swami is no Godman, as the term is popularly, loosely, used. He’s a dear, dear friend. On his birthday today, all I can say, humbly, to my Coach, my Teacher, my friend, is, “Thank you, Swami!”
In any situation or context, you can choose not to suffer!
My Rheumatoid Arthritic condition has struck again. This time it has come with a vengeance – seizing my lower back in painful spasms. Yesterday, I was at the beach, in Mamallapuram, ahead of delivering my signature Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk there at Eli’s Kitchen. As we walked on the beach, I was in terrible pain as I took each step. But we were shooting some test shots for the cover of my next Book. So, I endured the pain and posed for the camera every time I was asked to. When climbing the stairs leading up to Eli’s Kitchen, I found the stabs of pain unbearable. I did not even sit down when I was invited to lest I am unable to spring up immediately when it is time for me to deliver my Talk. But soon, I was telling our story, sharing our learnings, answering questions from an audience, most of them expats, on happiness, love, compassion, Universal Energy, miracles and courage. In the 90-odd minutes that I shared, I did not experience any pain whatsoever. It must have been there. But my bliss overpowered it handsomely!
That experience last evening, yet again, reiterated in me the learning that immersion in the now always makes pain powerless. If you look deeply at whatever is causing you pain at the moment and stay in this moment, immersed in the now of reality, your mind will not even report the pain. This state is called Buddhahood.
Buddhahood is not an out-of-bounds state that is the prevail of an exclusive few. It is available to anyone. 24 x 7. And it is free. It is a truly liberating state. It comes with awareness of your present, of your now. So, in an extraordinary painful phase, when you are attending only to your pain, you miss, or you are absent from, the rest of the Life that is happening to you. But when you immerse yourself in the moment, like what happened with me yesterday, you are soaked in grace, in your bliss. That grace makes your pain powerless. This is not just true of physical pain, but works for emotional pain as well.
Simply, pain is powerful only when you give it the license to cause you suffering. And you suffer only when you wish your pain weren’t there in the first place. But pain is pain. It always comes uninvited, without checking, and at a time that it chooses. Which is why the Buddha famously said that suffering is optional while pain is inevitable. Osho, the Master, went a step further – he called suffering a human invention! So, don’t try to avoid or resist pain. Just don’t give it any attention. Choose not to suffer from it. Instead immerse yourself in everything else that’s happening to you, and you will make your pain powerless.