Movement Newspaper: I have the feeling, Dr. Gokak, that being with you is like being with Baba, in a vicarious way, of course.
Dr. Gokak: Well, He asked me to go to America, and He said, "I'll take care of you in every way." My prayer to Him is that I should be worthy of Him; whatever I say or do should not be unworthy of a man representing Baba. He said, "I'll help you in every little way." So far I have nothing to regret.
M. N.: I've heard you say that living so close to Baba you sometimes can get "burned." To what does this refer?
D. G.: It means that He is all perfection. In that Light around Him, no iota of untruth can survive. No insincerity can have any place around Him. No double standards. But we are imperfect; this is why we are human. In our dealings with Him we will sometimes try to impose this imperfection on Him without our knowledge. He is very sorry for us because He knows that we are going to get "burned.” He can't help it; He, Himself, can't help us when we are getting burned because this is a very natural thing. But if one understands what is happening that it is the impurity within one that is being burned, then one can stand it all right. Plus, there is Baba's grace. While this is happening, His love still flows to the person. This is what saves and heals him. This is what I referred to. You are on top of a volcano; this is perfection.
The moment you go slightly wrong, in what you do you are blown up. This is a critical moment in one's life; he may or may not survive it.
In a fit of ego one may go away. He is hurt; he is deeply hurt. If he goes, he goes, it's his loss. There is no compromise. As Baba has given saying, "The nearer and dearer you are, the greater are your chances of getting burnt." In becoming worthy of Him, you have to burn a great deal. This is what happens to everyone around Him.
M. N.: The "burning" then is purification?
D. G.: Yes, it is all the same.
M. N.: It must be strange at times relating to Baba, being so close to Him and knowing Him. How do you relate to Him, as a close friend or as a vehicle for God to come through this shell called Sai Baba? How do you relate to that situation?
D. G.: He's the friend I love, the God I fear, and Krishna at whose enigmatic hands I love to be slain, making myself immortal. This is how I relate to Him. I am prepared for everything. For my doing, for my undoing, for all that. And I am also prepared for the human relationship. In the morning, when I am in the next room and the Avatar walks in and says, "Do you have a shaving brush?" I give Him mine because he has forgotten His own. I relate to Him in this way also. He is so intensely human. He can be so Divine.
M. N.: Does this seem like a paradox to you?
D. G.: No. Even when I am aware of all that he stands for when I am near Him and He cuts jokes with me, I forget all that He is and I begin to talk as a friend. It is only when I get away from Him, and come to America, for example, and see what is happening to Him in all these homes, all these photographs everywhere that I say, "Is this Baba with whom I'm staying?" I begin to experience a sense of awe.
Once I said to Him, "When will You show me your cosmic form?" He said, "Wait, wait, I will show you." He said, "Why do you think I have taken you so close to Me? For that reason I have taken you close." But actually, I don't know what else He is going to show, but what I have seen already (laughter). When I am near Him, I still forget that He is Baba. I think of Him as very great and all that and near to me. I can take liberties and joke now and then, when He smiles, not otherwise (laughter). But then I forget the rest of it. When I go to other places and see Vibhuti (sacred ash) showering in photographs and images appearing from nowhere and people going into ecstasy repeating His name, then I say, "Yes, this is the cosmic form."
M. N.: What is the importance of being with one's Teacher, physically.
D. G.: It has very great importance. One cannot consummate a relationship if his work takes him away. One cannot draw all the love and all the delight that he can receive by being near. Suppose I have Rama Krishna for my Master. He is no longer in the flesh. It is quite possible that I could get in touch with my Master in my own meditative musings. But there is a particular delight in the physical presence of one's Master right with us as a human being. One relates to Him as a human being and still He is the Divine in the human. This brings in a certain sense of fulfillment and a certain experience that has been spoken of in all the ancient Indian texts. They say that even the gods hunger for this relationship.
In this evolution, when God comes down and is represented in human flesh, He brings something of the divine Himself in human flesh and is part of the evolutionary term "existence.” There is a peculiar joy in this relationship of the human divine, which you don't get even in the Divine by Himself.
M. N.: If God wanted man to hear His voice, why does man have difficulty in hearing Him?
D. G.: As long as man loves to hear his own voice, how can he hear the voice of God? It's only when one shuts his own ears to his own voice that he is able to hear the voice of God. It's very difficult. The voice of God has to penetrate through the many layers with which we have surrounded ourselves. The purer we are, the nearer we are to His voice.
M. N.: What does Baba say of the different religions?
D. G.: The first thing He says is that there is only one religion, the religion of Love. There is only one language and this is language of the Heart. There is only one caste and this is the caste of Humanity. There is only one God and He is omnipresent. I am quoting Baba's own words. He stands for this universality of outlook; His ashram flag contains the symbols of all great religions of the world. Those people that want to believe in their own religion should never be disturbed. They should practise their religion spontaneously, but with proper understanding; they should not practise it in a blind manner. One should be guided through his studies.
There are people who don't want many rituals to bind them on their way. They want to feel free. They want to live a life of psychological awareness. They don't want to be bound down by any particular rituals. Their hearts prompt them to turn their whole life into a pilgrimage. If one wants to turn his life into a ritual and be a free person not professing any religion but speaking only of the Divine, then this also is welcome. Just as Baba doesn't want rituals to be discarded, he doesn't want rituals to be adopted either. It depends on a person's needs in his life. If one needs a religion then he takes it with understanding. If one needs the other life style then he takes that with understanding.
M. N.: Is there a reason why Baba is always seen in crowds?
D. G.: This is His role. The 24 hours of every day are directed toward liberating the common man, setting him free his bondage, wherever he may be from. All the methods, techniques, and exposition of his philosophy are directed toward this particular purpose.
His methods are those for redeeming the common man. His bhajans, which are sung with concentration on their rhythm, music, meaning, and imagery, can liberate the heart and release these springs of life. He has transformed the lives of millions of Indian people and thousands from all parts of the world.
M. N.: Does Baba ever manifest large objects like a house or an airplane? I've seen some of the small objects that He has manifested—rings, necklaces, and statues.
D. G.: I have not seen anything like this done, but from what I know of him, a thing like this is possible. If a man can bring back the life of the dead, which has happened in two or three cases, or be in two places at the same time, this also can happen. It has not happened because it has not been necessary. These materializations do not take place for fun. They take place when the need is there, when the circumstances require them, then they are done.
M. N.: Has Baba explained His ability to do the miracles that we hear about, and His manifestations?
D. G.: Yes. He has said, "I don't perform miracles, these miracles flow from Me; how can I help it? It's my love that expresses itself in this form. I see a person who is dear to Me, such a beautiful Soul and a ring comes out and I give it to him! Here is somebody else; he needs to be healed. He is such a fine person; and some medicine comes out or some healing Vibhuti and I give it to him!" This is love, nothing else but love. Somebody asked Him, "How is it that you cure so many incurable diseases?" Baba answered, "It's not always done. It's my experience that I am in the heart of every living being; I am seated there whether he acknowledges me or not. I am in the heart of every living creature. I therefore love everyone, for in a sense, I love myself. If I do this and if the other person also responds to Me and loves Me, then the negative and the positive meet and My love and his love flow into each other; there is a conjunction. And then there is a cure. Where there is no response in love, there is no cure."
"If I am to satisfy the legitimate worldly desires of my devotees, later I want them to want spiritual gifts. I want them to ask for God Himself. In order to train them toward this desire for God, I satisfy their worldly desires now. I do this so that they might come to Me for something greater."
These are techniques required of a redeemer who deals with the common man.