As a prelude to this account, I would like to state that attempting to realize the true nature of life has always been a prominent aspect of my life experience on a fairly constant basis. The prayer below was written by me in the late fifties.
Help me Lord...I search for truth...Beyond the world of sight...And the thoughts of "me"..
Help me, Lord...For if I exist I am...All People, and...All People are Thee
My earliest memory of "seeing" Swami was in 1968 or 1969. I was in Vancouver, British Columbia, and spent much of the time practising a very ascetic regimen of spiritual and "psychic" inquiry.
In one meditation session I had the blissful experience of myself as a body-less, placeless center of "light".
Much information was coming into my consciousness regarding spiritual guides and teachers. On one such occasion I witnessed a scene in which there appeared to be an East Indian Guru with devotees sitting around him in an informal but reverent manner. The night was clear and the Guru looked up into the sky as a star fell from its position with a trail of light behind it. The Guru told the disciples that some other Indian mystic (I can't recall the name) had just "given up", or “Spit out" his body. The man who spoke did not have long flowing hair, but bushy "Afro" type hair. I did not receive his name.
I saw another scene (different night?). The setting was outside a factory somewhere in India. There was an old bearded man sitting on a bus stop bench outside the factory yard fence and a factory worker was standing in front of him. I seem to recall that the worker got on a bus that came, but before he did, there was some sort of exchange between him and the old man. Later, this worker had the occasion to be in the presence of the same Guru of the first dream, who told him that he (the Guru) had changed his form and was the old man on the bench.
Several months later when I had returned to the U.S., I was visiting a friend who showed me a book about an incredible Indian mystic named Sathya Sai Baba. As I looked through it I discovered accounts of the two incidents I have related above, and I recalled having the dreams. It was both wondrous and a puzzlement that this information was in a book that had been published for some time—which meant the dreams I had were some sort of look into the past!
Since then, I have had many such 'past' and 'future' encounters with Swami which have been verified either by passages in books about Him, photographs, or oral accounts from devotees. From that initial experience in 1969, Swami was definitely a part of my consciousness. I had no doubt that He is a True Teacher, but I still did not consider myself His student or devotee, nor did I even entertain the possibility. But I know that I was graced in so many ways: I had a film about Him for a while that my family and I enjoyed and shared with others; I had the opportunity to hold a photograph on which he had placed a "psychic charge"; I heard about Indra Devi; and also, my friend (who is a gifted jeweller) placed some Sai Vibhuti in the wedding rings he made for my wife, Lorraine, and me. On one occasion I held a Sai "manifested" gift that He made for a friend who visited Him around 1970.
However, it wasn't until December of 1980 that I had the experience from which I was to emerge as a Devotee.
Lorraine and I operate a modest food processing business, and as one can imagine, small business ownership is very demanding—‘25 hours a day, 8 days a week,' I always say. And some times it really feels that way. In the Fall of '80 we had a heavy schedule between a thankfully busy period at work and numerous social functions. I am usually in fine health, but evidently this time I had let my guard down, and my resistance was low. I started getting the signals at the end of November, but I hardly took notice. In December we made an arduous business trip to Florida—to participate in an industry trade show. My chest pains were increasing. Sensibly, I should not have gone. I worked the show with intense fever and tried to do the follow up regional field event as planned—lasted one day and ended up flying back to L.A. on the first flight out I could get. I was in a semi-delirious state. The doctor at home sent me to bed with a pulse rate of 100 and a temperature of 105! He diagnosed a bronchial virus with bacteriological complications. I can't recall ever having been so sick. It was during this period that Baba became prominent in my consciousness. I felt frightened and lost. I was not able to derive much comfort from Lorraine's devoted attention or from anyone else I could think of. I had an overwhelming yearning for contact with someone whom I could communicate with about God reality outside the endless, futile world of illusion in which I felt trapped because it seemed to demand so much of my attention. I felt a despairing sense of dark loneliness.
Swami's name came to me and I began chanting it to slow down my pulse rate. I was sure that it would work, but in any case it gave me great comfort to do it. One night Swami appeared in the "middle distance” of my mind and I felt immediate assurance. I intuitively understood that He was rescuing me (though I have no memory of experiencing Him since the time spoken of at the beginning of this account).
He took my right hand in both of His and I felt an incredible "charge" of energy flow through me. I knew then that I would heal, and soon.