It behooves all who come to take care of the belly or delhi belly will ensue. During a short bout of “delhi belly” we are taken via the gamut of Sai’s teachings on what it means to be a devotee, and what it means to love, and to be taken up into the Ocean of Love, the Ocean of Sai. Coconut water and Curd rice are the recommended dietary course during a bout of “delhi belly”.
Well, magnificent maya makes us forget who we truly are …and maya is sometimes a friend, tripping me up and bringing me to a screeching halt. You see, there is not a whole lot for the mind to do when I am crook as a dog except be there, be ill, and be still. I begin to think that the true function of of all illness is to bring me back to my being. As in being-awareness-bliss.
Fall asleep in vedam. Repeatedly. Fall asleep during bhajans. What is time? What is space? Even bigger question, “What are all these crazy things I am seeing when I am nodding off?” … Fever sets in, I am sweating profusely, chuck it all in and go back to bed.
Standard Puttaparthi remedy is coconut water and curd rice. I didn’t go to the doctor, he just walked past (he doing something else), took one look at me sitting down and said “Coconut water”, and kept walking.
Talk to Swami. “What to do?” … “Take rest, take lot of water” is the reply. So I take rest, and do all the meditations he has told me to do. Nothing else to do. Meditation is calming. Steadiness comes. Wake up, take padanamaskar on the inner level; still zonked out, fall back to sleep.
Curd rice. Why to they put chilly in curd rice? I shouldn’t wonder.
Now I begin to see the problem is not the illness; the problem is me. Character is behaviour. In between meditation and my inactivity, bits and pieces of my behaviour flash before me. Swami says character is power. Where have I given my power away? Scenes appear on the screen of the mind. Feelings associated with these scenes arise. I reckon one of the greatest gifts I have been given by Swami is the ability to forgive myself. Ego will put the trash before me repeatedly and attempt to keep me locked in to a pattern of repeating behaviour. To fall, to err, is human. Forgiveness, I begin to see, is the ability to leave the past in the past, and move forward with love. Love for self, love for others, love for God.
The closer you come to God, the closer you come to yourself. Swami, here in the Samadhi state, here in the formless state, is a mirror. He simply reflects me back to myself in all that I think, say and do. Grace is being seized by God. In sanskrit, the word for divine grace is anugraha. Graha is Sanskrit for “to seize, to grasp”; anu is the smallest of the small within which is contained the ALL; all is within us. So I, the smallest of the small, that which is fullness of all I am, I am seized, grasped by the divine, and shown who I really am in what I think, say and do. Swami is a magnifying glass, he shows me who I am, what I am doing and what I could be, and in all of this, there is HIS love.
The task is not to revert to medieval rending of garments, breast beating, applying sackcloth and ashes. No, no, the task is to get up, keep climbing, keep going towards destination, to keep saying HE is here, HE is present, HE is loving, HE is never going to stop loving, HE tells me I am Love, HE tells me I am God, HE pours love down, down, down, there is a never-ending stream of love carrying me forward to the Ocean of Love.
I felt HIS love so many times yesterday.
More curd rice at the next meal.
The closer you come to God, the closer you come to yourself. I was confronted with desire, yesterday. Desire, that sense of separation from the object of desire, and the mind building this up, making it attractive, needful, necessary. I want; I need, I must have this! It is interesting when you are ill, and the merry-go-round of desires pass before the mind. Magnificent maya, what a joke. Confront desire, do self audit. All I need is given to me; food, water, clothing, roof over my head, a place to lay my head at night. For what do I need all these other things? Think back to the Buddha: “Desire produces sorrow”. He is so right, I think to myself. Ah, Divine Love. All part of that mirror, the grace of self-knowledge, self-understanding, self-management. Welcome to the human workshop called Prashanti Nilayam, I remind myself.
The day is nearly over. I am not rushing to the toilet when I get up. Oooh, I might be able to go to bhajans, darshan! Ask on the inner level; He tells, “Come at 6:00″ … take a wash, big drink of water, and wander up to Bhajans. Storm-coloured clouds cross the skies above Puttaparthi; the locals look up and tell, “Rain is welcome!”. The clouds kept going by. The ashram is a hive of activity. It is hot, it has been a hot afternoon, the seva dals look hot and sweaty, yet continue to do their task, their duty. Inside the ashram, crowds before the Ganesh Temple, the sweet smell of coconuts just broken; people are doing pradakshina around the naga shrine and the navagrahas – all there at that big tree at the front of the ashram. Look over to the Subramanya temple, there are people there, kicking off their chappals, and chanting prayers. Cars parked at the back of the mandir, the shoe rack is full. Shove my chappals in there somewhere, and dance, oh yes, dance on my toes across the hot concrete … … where is some shadow, golly, this concrete is HOT!
Tip-toe on hot, stinging concrete until I reach the ground between the darshan hall and East Prashanti, glance inside, the darshan hall looks full, all I can see is the students, students everywhere. Oh, it is Thursday, I remind myself. Guru day. Walk slowly down the side of East Prashanti, women are standing beside the building, watch their lips, they are singing bhajans. Little children up on steps trying to peer in. Devotees walking past – stop, kick off their chappals, face the Samadhi, say a prayer – and move on, slowly.
Enter the darshan hall, the seva dals do look tired, hot and sweaty; I smile and speak with them as they do their task; smiles come back. Look around, there are these odd rows of men, look above them, yes, they are avoiding the chandeliers. Throw the mat down, look up to the Samadhi, the lights are on, the crowd is there – each side. Maula Sai is the bhajan.
Oh; the lady seva dals have this pole, with a rag on the end of it. It reaches nearly up to the chandeliers. I see this pole wobble a bit and thrust up to where the pesky pigeons are aflutter. Pole comes and goes during bhajans. I think about Swami and his Divine Will; Swami manifesting in front of a lady devotee here in Prashanti Nilayam and telling here I am still in charge … so he wants the pigeons here. Fine.
Bear with me as I take a moment out here. It is a hot sticky session in the darshan hall, the students are up the front, there are several musical instruments, flute, an electric keyboard (I am sure), several different tabla, and the familiar harmonium. I am sitting way, way back in the darshan all listening, simply listening to this magnificent accompaniment to the bhajans. Actually, four or five of us were discussing the flute the other morning, how the flute, incredibly, right on the note, took us through Samasta loka sukhino bhavantu, and then – it was the seva dal who pointed this out – took us straight into the OM, marvellously on the note; all we had to do was follow. How is it that music surrounds you, encompasses you, leads you, lifts you up, indeed, seizes you and takes you on to levels of being that you have not had before? Is there not a loka called the flute of Krishna? We are getting incredibly beautiful accompaniment here in the bhajans in Sai Kulwant Hall.
Janani … … something happened as this bhajan began, I felt this wave caressing everyone, this wave of MOTHER flooding over everyone, I am simply looking up to the front of the darshan hall and this wave, this feeling of MOTHER floods the darshan hall. It surrounds, encircling, settling upon you, nurture, succour, weaving its way right into your heart like a ripple of light wending into you. All I could do was listen to this soft bhajan leader as he took us through all the aspects, all the care, all of the Divine Mother. Janani means mother … the one who gives birth … who nourishes, who shelters and raises her child.
Govinda Krishna Jai and everyone begins clapping! Oh, they get into clapping fast and snappily in this bhajan!
I move over to the side of the darshan hall – where I used to sit all the time – oh, it feels like home looking up that road between Yajur Mandir and Poornachandra, I see the flowers and trees flourishing there. The temple pujari comes out, the bell rings for mangal arathi, and yes, one of the students is waving an arathi flame also. There is this fellow, he appears when arathi begins and always takes two photographs. Leela vinodi, I shouldn’t wonder. Naranyana verses, everyone puts their arathi plate down and the assembled devotees take up the chant, clapping methodically. Narayana, narayana Om Sathya, loud, clear, purposeful, love-filled, affirmation of faith; the Lord of the Universe is HERE!
Announcement. There will be a program tomorrow evening … that’s about all I can make out in the boom and echo of the multiple loudspeakers above. It is so much clearer outside, (well, to me – that is) anyway. Get up for queue for darshan. Little boy looks up and smiles. Wheelchair people go for darshan, white crocodiles of students depart. It is dark outside, sunset is at 6:29 PM; the bench fellows slowly amble across to the Samadhi, and then we are on the move, non-stop all the way up to the front. I count nine rows of seated devotees as I walk past. Right up the front, I look up to those three spires above the porch and noticed they are green here; they are using those energy saving bulbs all around the front of the porch. Looking across, that orange sheet is there on top, a thick red garland on top of that, then, men are kneeling, waiting to move foward, the little boy goes in front of me, and then I am kneeling, place my head on the ledge and look through the third eye; all I see is the samadhi, with soft rings of white light coming out.
Every time I take darshan up there, and kneel, pray, sometimes with emptiness, sometimes with a specific prayer, sometimes simply taking HIS darshan, I come away filled with love; prema bhava, they tell me it is.
It is just LOVE.
© Chris Parnell