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  Volume 4 - Issue 06 JUNE 2006
 
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FIRST COME THE TEARS...

By Ms. Ira Strum
from Israel


H2H received this very personal and heartfelt account from a Jewish lady, Ms. Ira Strum, about her intense inner journey. She describes in a very beautiful and honest manner how at a time of great pain in her life Swami guided her in His own unique way to greater peace and filled her with confidence and love. She lives in Israel where she works as a senior lecturer of design in Shenkar College , Tel-Aviv, a city in Israel.

Tears…Of All Kinds

When I see You, Baba, even from a long distance, my eyes fill with tears. They are unexplainable and uncontrollable, yet I trust them: they tell me that something is true! I have been around You the last five months and during these five months my strongest experiences have been through tears.

“You need them” it seemed You whispered in my ears just a few days ago. “They soften you and open the door for me to enter. They are cleaning your mind. There are all kinds of tears,” You continued, “Tears of sadness, tears of joy, of depression, of hope, excitement, laughter, tears of longing . . . tears of love.”

Writing these lines I see a picture from my childhood: it is Yom Kipur* after the meal, before the fast.

[Yom Kipur is the day on which, Jews believe, God is consigning the people to life or to death, according to their deeds. In this day we have an opportunity to ask for forgiveness for the sins of the last year and start clean anew.]

My grandmother is standing at the door, looking at us leaving, her eyes full of tears. “Why are you crying, grandma?” I once dared to ask? “I don’t know she answered, we separate, we must say good-bye.”

She didn’t continue. The subtext was clear, also the fear. The next evening, gathering together for the meal after the fast, she was again filled with tears. “Why are you crying now?” I asked. “Oh, I am so happy to see you” she replied.

 
   
Ms. Ira Strum

Saved By An Inner Voice

I came to see Sai Baba after three years of crisis. Three years with very little sleep, and with breathing problems. Three years of not being able to be with my cats. Three years of nightmares and fear; of running from one therapist to another, from one place to another trying to escape from myself. I was feeling trapped in a cage within my body and my soul was screaming for help. But no one could help. Everything had lost meaning and door after door seemed closed. There was no solution on the horizon. In July, 2005, I was so desperate that I wanted to put an end to my life.

 

“It is not you who will decide when to die” I heard a voice from within saying, “Leave it to God! And besides you haven’t completed your duties. You still have work to do!” I am not a religious person and I do not relate to the usual picture of God but at such moments I listen – even without understanding why.

A Divine Call

Among the people I met to consult with, there was one man whom I appreciated a great deal. We had been meeting for some time till one day he said: “I think you have had a breakdown. There is nothing you need to do; just rest. But you can’t do it here, so I think you should go somewhere else.”

“Where should I go?” I asked. He was silent for some moments and then said, “There is one – His name is Sai Baba. I don’t know Him personally but they say that He is full of pure love. Pure love is what you need! Go there and stay as long as you can.”

So after some time of reflection I decided to go to India. I had never dared to go to India before as I was afraid of what I would see there. Since early childhood I couldn’t bear to see suffering. I couldn’t see people in pain – the pain of others immediately became my pain.

I went to meet a woman who is a longtime follower of Sai Baba. The moment she saw me she said, “You must go! But tell me first what you want.”

“I want to leave this world with a smile,” I heard myself saying without thinking. Then it seemed as if Baba Himself was calling me to come saying: “You are waiting for a personal invitation. Come after your feasts; it can be after the Birthday.” So I did.

The Inner Process Begins In Puttaparthi

I came full of fear but with some hope. Fear of the culture shock in India and hope because I had already been told that Baba is ‘a man of miracles’. The minute I arrived in the ashram, people started telling me all kinds of stories. ‘This is a place of miracles they whispered’ - so I was expecting a miracle!

Childishly enough I was expecting a fairy tale miracle: to go to sleep at night and wake up the next morning relieved from all pains. Of course, what happened was just the opposite – more and more pain.

The tears of my first three months in Puttaparthi had only one colour: sadness. I was crying from morning till night. I was crying from what I was seeing outside and from what I was seeing inside. It felt like I had all the sorrow in the world, from many generations. The nights were a nightmare with very little sleep and I fell sick quite often.

 

On top of all this, there was a battle going on inside me, rejecting the rituals. My God is abstract; how can I follow these people who worship a human shape or a sculpture? It is forbidden for me! Am I betraying my God? I went through all these fears and doubts.

Confused and full of pain I was trying to understand what was going on within me. Why everything just gets worse when other people are getting miracles? ‘He is working with you; you just have to surrender’ people said. But I couldn’t surrender. Even in the moments I really wanted to – I just didn’t know how.

At the same time there was another process going on. Baba was appearing in my dreams and in visions and guiding me. I was also trying to discern His voice, but there was a lot of inner conflict.

Conflicts take energy and my physical body was already weak, so I became more unwell. Things became desperate till one night it was so bad that I said

“OK Baba, God, whoever You are, I surrender. Please guide me back to life.”

Naase Venishma

There is a saying in Judaism which is called “Naase Venishma”. Actually it is an instruction in the Tora (Bible) meaning: ‘First we do (what God says); only then we will understand (or will be given the reason).’

I accepted this precept and in practising it I felt some relief. When there were only two weeks left for my stay in India, I left Puttaparthi and went to be in nature. I needed to be alone and more silent. I chose Kodai Kanal because Baba would be visiting soon and I found a farm surrounded by nature.

Kodai Kanal – The Turning Point

Unfortunately, the day Baba was supposed to arrive was exactly the day of my departure. I was expected to be home for an important Jewish festival, the Pesach feast. Yet as that time drew closer, I felt that I could not go. I was forced from within to stay on. I extended my stay for two more weeks just to see Him again.

 
The Jewish celebration of Pesach commemorating the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.

During the evening before Pesach, which we call Leil Haseder, Darshan became a Bhajan celebration.

[Leil haseder, the evening of the Pesach feast is when all the family gathers together to sing praises to God. The songs are based on bible stories which describe how God liberated His people, Israel, from slavery in Egypt.]

The singing went on and on as if it was a special festival. The wonderful voices were lifting everyone up as I sat outside, looking up at the sky, feeling the music expanding my heart.

During Bhajan Sessions in Kodai Kanal, April 2006

“Finding My Way….After Years”

The next day was Pesach itself. It was the first time I was hearing a discourse, and the first time Baba, I heard Your physical voice. As Your discourse continued, I realized that You answered all my questions - even the ones I didn’t know I had. You were encouraging me to be who I am.

There was one special counsel which You gave as parting inspiration, which opened the spring of my tears anew. “Help ever, hurt never” You said and continued: “To help someone who is kind to you is easy. But to help someone who hurt you is great.”

This was my way; yet for so many years I was misunderstood. People took it as weakness, and I, knowing that I couldn’t behave differently, felt so alone and hurt. Immediately you gave the answer: ‘Do your work for God!’ This was not new for me, as I was living like this; yet somewhere along the way I had become tired and lost confidence in myself. I started to believe other people, who seemed surer of themselves. I was listening outside, instead of inside.

In Your words, in Your special way of reopening my heart, you brought me back to myself - the one I abandoned. When I really needed help You sent me help; when I wanted to lean You pushed me back to my center. In strange and mysterious ways You have given me lessons. In strange and mysterious ways You brought back my trust. Reminding me things that I have forgotten, helping me find things I have lost.

 
 
Swami delivering Tamil New Year Discourse
in Kodai Kanal, 2006

You were my inspiration, my mirror and my guide. At some point You, my voice from within, God - all became one. It was then that I felt only love. It was a feeling, not just a thought – for this I thank God.

I know the work is not finished…maybe it is just the start. I pray that You will always be my guide and my guard. I wish that my tears will keep me open enough for You to find entrance. Needless to say I fell in love with India and with the wonderful hearts You sent on my way.


Dear Reader, how did you like this article? Did it help you in anyway? Would you like more of such readers' expereinces? Please let us know at [email protected] Please mention your name and country when you write to us. Thank you for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team


 
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Vol 4 Issue 06 - JUNE 2006
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