Something very sad happened while I was in India recently and I'm sure it happens more frequently than it should. There was a lady from another country who had heard about Sai Baba and having many problems, decided to go and receive Baba's Blessings` and help. This particular lady had been an atheist (her words), but because of all the glowing and glorious reports from others, she decided to go to India to see Baba himself. She had become very disillusioned because Baba was not paying any attention to her.
A friend of mine talked to her first, trying to explain to her that Bhagawan teaches mainly on the spiritual or intuitive level. My friend spent quite a long time with her but to no avail. The visitor had fully expected Sai Baba to talk to her, smile at her, call her in for an interview and miraculously solve all her problems. Those glowing reports of people being given so much personal attention had caught her imagination, she wanted that personal attention also and when it was not given she became extremely upset.
One day I sat next to her during lunch. She expressed her unhappiness and her disappointment. I also tried to help her but no matter what was said she did not seem to change her attitude. She must have left soon after that because we did not see her again.
What surprised me was that I too, had been caught in that trap. Five years ago I had the great good Grace of being able to spend four months in Our Lord's Presence. He really babied me, so much attention! I was totally and thoroughly spoiled. But I had learned that He was teaching on the intuitive level and I was responding to many of His directions not really being aware of it. There was good reason for all that attention.
But this time things were different. My mind was in total chaos and confusion. Bhagawan bestowed some smiles but more often than not there was nothing. At least, at the time I felt there was not enough personal attention. Then came the day when I felt that the end of the world would come if He did not talk to me. Of course He did not and I went back to the room heart-broken, thinking, "But Baba I really wanted you to talk to me," and burst into tears.
Sounds familiar? So many people that I talked to had had almost that same experience. The fortunate ones are those who stay and try to make that mental breakthrough that puts them in touch with their intuitive Inner Self. When we can finally realize that Inner Self of ours and Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba or any favorite form or name of God are One, then we receive that personal recognition. Even if we don't, we have given ourselves the greatest of gifts, finding our "God" within.
During that first trip, I did not keep a diary and often have regretted it, so this time I kept a diary. Each day was recorded as it happened and later, on re-reading it, I was astonished at how much attention I had had! How could I possibly have felt neglected? It seems that no matter how much I received, I always wanted more. That must be the way it is until we finally surrender and merge in that Inner Bliss.
From the 15th of January through the 22nd we had Darshan from once to three times a day! And in those seven days Baba had either bestowed His Heavenly Smile, held my hand or talked to me four times! His thought for the day on Jan 21st was: "Devotion is complete surrender—not a part time affair or something taken on credit. Every bit has to be earned and deposited. There are no over drafts. Grace is won by discipline and virtue."
Is this just another glowing account of someone receiving so much personal attention? Perhaps, but even with all that attention, I fell into that same trap of feeling neglected. It only lasted for a short while but was most difficult to get out of. Earnest prayer, spiritual practice and Love was the only way out.
So I concentrated on helping others when and where help was needed. The more we do for others the less we think of ourselves and the more we will please our Lord. So trying to please Baba and not myself, paid off in ways totally unexpected. The rest of my visit is a long beautiful story. I pray that if you are contemplating a visit to Sai Baba that you will consider keeping a diary, recording thoughts and personal experiences (even with other people) and each day evaluating your own experiences. Even when we are not in His Presence, we are being taught and the most important thing to remember is that we ourselves have that `Inner Teacher', the very same teacher who is manifesting in human form on the outer, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Himself!