Volume 7 - Issue 08
August 2009
Other Articles

 

THE PRESENCE OF THE GREATEST POWER

By late Mr. Charles Penn

 

Born in Australia, Mr. Charles Penn traveled to the USA as a young boy and had a distinguished professional career as a writer, editor and publisher in America, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. He is an honoured biographee in “Who’s Who in California”. In 1964 he was drawn to Bhagavan Baba quite amazingly and had the rare opportunity of proximity with His Divine Master, both physically and metaphysically. Later, he along with his wife, Faith Penn, traveled throughout the USA and other countries disseminating the Love and Message of Bhagavan Baba and also authored many sterling Sai literature such as “Sai Ram”, “My Beloved” and “Finding God”.

This article appeared in the ‘Homage Volume’ offered to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba by the Sri Sathya Sai University on the auspicious occasion of His 65th birthday celebration on November 23, 1990 at Prasanthi Nilayam.

 

Ethereal Contact with the Eternal One

Many years ago when I had seldom experienced deep feelings that I could relate to the divine, it was far less likely for me to conceive my ability to see or understand God. Furthermore, for a student seeking divine understanding, as myself, I found it improbable to believe that I might find and have the exceptional privilege to be taught by a supreme power such as the Sai Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Once the initial relationship began there was no hesitation in proclaiming to myself the evident and truthful statement, "I believe!"

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The knowledge that a world teacher, Supreme Being, was in a land on the opposite side of the world and who spoke Telugu, a language I did not understand, was never considered an unrealistic obstacle to my becoming His student.

However, to be given lessons in English for my spiritual upliftment, at times on a moment to moment basis, and often including long question and answer sessions, became an unexpected and extraordinary practice.

To have time and space cast aside and to have given to me the first four of twenty-five years' tuition on a divine scholarship basis without actually coming into personal contact has been a remarkable and priceless experience for me from Baba, my divine teacher, the "chancellor of a celestial university of higher learning".

What is, is! I discovered that the higher elements are used by Sai Baba. For example, to me His teachings incorporate full colour scenes played out to the end in heavenly vision form.

Such “vision teachings” remain inscribed in my mind for years and years. An entire play or moving scene may be recalled at a moment's notice and expressed in minute detail so that His teachings can be drawn upon for the upliftment of myself and others. At times, etherealized methods of communication are used, and viewed as a procedure within the higher realm.

A Beautiful Beginning

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Mr. Charles Penn
 

All this came about as a result of my life’s turn-around culminating unexpectedly. It was June 1965, I reached for a small book on a table in the sitting room of my wife to be, Faith, and her mother Althea, at their home in Westwood, California.

Touching that book which was "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram," written by Prof. N. Kasturi, was for me like touching the fingers of God's outstretched hand. That momentary action changed my entire future. A glance at the photographs of Sai Baba as a boy, and looking at pictures of His mother and father, started to weave a web about me, a web I found shortly afterwards so beautifully powerful.

A simple action such as the one I took can vastly change a life. Something to marvel at indeed! If I were to predict the future and were asked what I envisioned for a seeker taking a similar singular action, I feel I would say that from that moment on his or her life could become most wondrous in a way never before contemplated.

As Prof. Kasturi's book unfolded in my mind, I had a desire to prepare a similar book omitting the Sanskrit but incorporating his translations of the Sanskrit. This would provide an American edition of the life of Sai Baba through His fortieth year which could be more easily understood and enjoyed in the West and by all English speaking people.

I wrote to Sai Baba. Can you imagine my writing to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in India and receiving a letter from Him granting permission to produce the book, with His blessings, and in addition conveying in the letter a wealth of great knowledge?

He endeared Himself with each word: "I am as near you as you are near Me." And, "When the name is remembered, the Form is evoked; when the Form is recollected, the Name is evoked. The name and the Form are inseparable. That is the meaning of Presence…."

Heavenly Wisdom Descends

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I lengthened the periods of my meditation to hours and hours a week, and my meditations deepened. I grasped every chance to draw to me the Presence. From around the whole world I was near Him. Geographically, He wrote, there was no barrier. After a while I actually started to feel I was coming nearer and nearer to Him. Whenever I had the courage I would tell Him I was listening. First, ever so silently, I heard words about things I had never thought of in my life.

On a subsequent occasion, in order to remedy a foot problem I had, Sai Baba conveyed to me the instruction to grasp my foot firmly with my hands and, while doing so, to count to a hundred. I was to say His name with each number (one-Sai Baba, two-Sai Baba), I counted. I called it my "Sai Baba Count." In this way I was evoking the name. His Name was on my lips.

His teachings flowed and flowed. So entrenched He became in me, and I in Him. The time arrived when I felt I was "One with Him."

Turning my thoughts back to those glorious spiritual "young" days, I recall a lesson Sai Baba gave me with the inspiring words, "Every time the hand is lifted, lift it for Him." That teaching so infused me that I again wrote to Him and asked for further deeper guidance. He responded in a letter in August 1965: "If you lift the hand to serve, to help, to console, to encourage another man, you are lifting it for God, because in every man is God."

The wisdom of the heavens was surely ascending upon me. "Every man is God!" That was a great revelation to me. "Every man," yes, "every man." Then I knew, for the first time - God has to be everywhere in everything and in everyone.

Now a few months had gone by and I was continuing to be saturated with the Love of Sai Baba. Discourses were undiminishing from wherever He was. I asked Him many questions about many things that might help my spiritual progress.

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I asked Him how one should be dressed and prepared for Brahmamarga, the path or way of life adopted by aspiring seekers who set their sights high to realize the Self in their quest for God. Eventually the gaze has to be turned inward to the true Self and the aspirants ascend the pathway to the state of lasting consciousness of God, the Infinite (Brahman).

Sai Baba explained to me that "Before starting on Brahmamarga and commencing your sadhana (spiritual practice), undress, disrobe. But not in the usual manner. The 'clothes' you cast off may vary in number. Some people may be more heavily garmented. Some may have already discarded unwanted 'apparel.'

In whatever order you choose, cast off the 'clothing' of jealousy, hate, anger, pride, greed, desire... You know all the others. But you shall not be cold, for there is one 'garment' you leave on. That is the raiment of love. This one piece has many thicknesses to keep you warm and protect you on the coldest of nights. It will survive the greatest of storms, for what is this clothing of love? It is the love of joy, the love of giving, the love of survival, the love of living.


Yes, My bhaktha (devotee), this one raiment is all you need when you come to Me in the quietude and stillness of your meditation, although you do not have to wait until then to come to Me, for I am always near."

Speaking from the Heart

A divine high point was reached when an official invitation was received by mail to attend the First World Conference of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Seva Organizations, to be held in Mumbai in May 1968. On the midnight of May 9, 1968, I had the great joy to meet my Lord in Human Form, in India. The incredible realization filled me - in four years the Sai Avatar and I had become ever so close. Our love was the same love, and God within God was the same God.

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Fortunate to be at His Lotus Feet
 

The knowledge that two people could inwardly communicate from one side of the world to the other was now less overwhelming - God unto God without physically traversing the world. Many other devotees know that this is possible and are able to rest in the knowledge that they can become One with the Lord.

When the Sai Avatar makes it known that the divine contact is intact, devotees have the capability to rise to this higher realization. Achieving this goal overcomes many doubts and misgivings previously generated in the mind.

In appreciation for being given this boon, I have thanked Sai Baba for it on numerous occasions, including those when speaking from time to time to devotees attending Sai centers, conferences, retreats, and special occasions here and abroad.

He has shown me the folly of reading from notes or from a prepared script. In my experience, everything spoken which one wishes to be efficacious must first be fully entrenched in the heart. How better can it be said than when it emanates from one's heart?

Sai Baba has taught me to speak in this manner. When invited by Sai Baba to speak, and after basking in the joy of performing padanamaskar, I look up to Him and whisper, "I'll need your help, Swami." By this time inner joy has taken hold of the glorious moment as I hear Him say, "Yes, yes!"

There was the occasion of His fifty-seventh Birthday when, after the honor of garlanding Him, He whispered, "Char less (as he calls me), you would like to say a few words?" "Yes, yes, Swami," I replied. Rather slowly I approached the microphone at the podium. This brought me to a moment of great exhilaration. I faced the crowded Poornachandra Auditorium overwhelmed by His faith in me and my own inner feeling of His assurance. Simultaneously I was also fully aware that I had no preplanned speech, no great salient point I wanted to stress.

The freedom from all this made the joy of the moment ever so precious. I looked at the vast audience, glanced lovingly at Swami, and His smile filled the moment. It is at times such as these that I know the seemingly long and precious moments serve their full purpose. I received a flashed inner direction from Him. "Seek the 'thread'." Just a small starting thread is needed to begin.

Baba - The Most Enigmatic Teacher

One requires deep insight to believe that our divine teacher, actually and ethereally, has thousands of students. I am astounded when I attempt to comprehend that the Avatar is simultaneously teaching students in all languages the world over.

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In this regard, during one of our visits to Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Baba was granting interviews to a number of devotees in the Mandir, as is His practice almost every day. From our floor vantage point, just feet away and behind a curtain Sai Baba was talking to a young man from Spain.

Sai Baba's stream of words flowed at an extremely fast pace. Later, outside, I met the man and mentioned to him, "How amazing it is that Swami can talk to devotees in any language.

His talk to you, in Spanish, flowed incessantly, and you undoubtedly clung intently to each word." (We speak some Spanish and can recognize it.) The man looked at me in amazement and said, "He spoke to me in English!"

Reflecting, I say, "How Great Thou Art!" Here is a teacher who astounds and uplifts His students worldwide, assisting and blessing them in multitudinous ways. I look momentarily at myself, and with deep gratitude I see myself being transformed by Him, writing about the world's greatest power - the Sai Avatar.


Dear Reader, did this article inspire you in any way? Would you like more such stories from devotees who have been touched by His Love? Please write to us at [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you fo your time.

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