Volume 7 - Issue 09
September 2009
Other Articles

 

EXPERIENCING THE COMMUNION AND
COMMUNICATING DIVINITY

By late Mr. Richard Bock


Mr. Richard Bock was the Founder-President of Pacific Jazz and World Pacific Records. Through a long personal and professional relationship with Pandit Ravi Shankar, the world renowned sitar maestro, Mr. Bock was instrumental in introducing classical Indian music to large audiences in the West. He is also the founder of the Spiritual Advancement of the Individual (S.A.I.) Foundation and has produced several films on Bhagavan. In fact, Radio Sai Global Harmony is deeply indebted to Mr. Bock and his equally devoted wife, Ms. Janet for sharing their invaluable photographs and priceless audio/video records to preserve them in Prasanthi Nilayam for posterity as well as to utilize them judiciously to spread His Love and Message.  

This article was originally featured in ‘Golden Age’, a compilation of devotees’ experiences, and published in 1980.

Musically and Mystically Drawn to the Divine

Modern technology has made it possible for the voice and likeness of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to be spread over the face of the earth through films, photos and tape cassettes. For those outside of India and, indeed, many within India as well, the first memory of contact with Bhagavan has been a photo or film. This was my experience also.

Because we live in the mundane world, however, it sometimes takes us a while to understand that while this may be our first contact with Him, it is not His first contact with us, and that technology, no matter how advanced, is but incidental to the ability of the Lord to reach His devotees.

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In early 1968, after some years of practicing meditation and reading philosophy, I began to ask seriously to be shown who my true guru was. A few weeks later Ravi Shankar, the renowned musician who recorded for my company, World Pacific Records, and was and is a very close friend, mentioned the name Sathya Sai Baba to me.

Shortly afterwards Mataji Indra Devi played a tape recording of Baba singing bhajans and showed me a film she had brought from India. I was fascinated by the sound of Baba's voice and asked if she thought it would be possible for me to get permission to make a recording of Baba in India.

A few weeks later I saw another friend named Ivan Markov, a hatha yoga teacher, who asked me to read a manuscript he had just finished. It was a biography of Baba, the first written in the West, but never published.

I had my interview with Baba and He materialised some Vibhuti for me, opened my shirt and put it on my chest. I hadn't told Him anything, but the next thing He said was that my heart was not damaged. (I had the attack in September and I was in India in November). "Good heart, don't worry. Why fear when I am here?" Then He materialised a ring and said, "Wear this, I will always be with you."

At that time (1960s) only a handful of people in the United States even knew of Baba and books and photos of Him were unknown there. So it seemed extraordinary that within such a short time after asking the question, I had heard His name, listened to His voice, seen Him on film, and read His life story.

Now I was eager to see Baba in person. Having received permission to bring my recording equipment, I flew to India in mid-November of 1968 to record Bhagavan's bhajans at the Birthday celebrations. During a brief stop-over in Tokyo, casually, and without any indication of its future role in my life, I bought a Super-8 movie camera and a few rolls of film.

The Inimitable Divine Beckon to Immortalise His Glory

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Mr. Richard Bock in action
 

I arrived at the ashram and soon was standing at the edge of the crowd waiting for my first darshan. Baba appeared on the verandah of the mandir. A path of flowers had been carefully laid for Him to walk from the mandir to the auditorium and devotees were crowding on either side of it.

Baba looked in my direction and motioned for me to come out of the crowd with my camera.

Following His direction, I soon found myself preceding Him along the flower strewn path, walking backwards and filming as He walked through the crowd.

Mr. Kasturi was holding aloft the ceremonial umbrella, and Baba's mother followed just behind. My field vision, circumscribed by the camera's view-finder, was filled with the enlarged image of Baba's smiling face as He turned from side to side acknowledging the crowds who strained towards Him with out-stretched hands.

Earlier that day I had set up recording equipment on the auditorium stage where Baba was to speak. When He arrived He took a garland of flowers and wrapped it around one of my microphones, as if to reassure me that I had His permission and everything would be OK.

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Richard was always ready with the camera to capture the divinely
precious moments

After speaking, Baba sang bhajans for almost forty-five minutes. That tape became the first long playing record of His bhajans released in India and the West. It seems now as if Baba was saying...I will give you what you want, you want a movie, you want a record... I will give them to you provided you accept what I really have to give you...the key to liberation itself.

The Inexplicable Healing of the Heart…and the Mind

In retrospect, I can see how those moments with Baba signalled a turning point for me, the beginning of the process of acquiring faith and developing the discrimination which has led me to follow Baba's beckoning hand out of the chaotic world of corporate business which at that point had already caused me to suffer one heart attack.

Actually, it was immediately after the heart attack that I made the journey to Him. By the time I got to the Ashram, I was feeling fine. I couldn't believe that I'd ever been sick. I had my interview with Baba and He materialised some Vibhuti for me, opened my shirt and put it on my chest. I hadn't told Him anything, but the next thing He said was that my heart was not damaged. (I had the attack in September and I was in India in November). "Good heart, don't worry. Why fear when I am here?" Then He materialised a ring and said, "Wear this, I will always be with you." I had a likeness of Baba in it. That gave me a connection with Him and it started to change my life.

It is a practice in the world to attach names and credits to the results of efforts of individuals, as though they were the creators, rather than the Lord working through them. The fallacy of this practice is never more apparent than when we complete a project knowing that the inspiration, the energy and the results are all His. The only thing to do then is to pray that the instrument has not distorted the melody and message He wishes to convey.


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Mr. Richard Bock and Janet with Baba in Dharmakshetra, Mumbai in 1976
 

It was so natural that I didn't even have time to be shocked about it. I had heard that He did this. In fact, it was one of the things that kind of concerned me. Before going to the Ashram, I told Indra Devi, "Everything but the miracles, I can accept."

Those miracles bothered me because I had read from Ramakrishna that you have to beware of the siddhi powers; they will lead you astray. So, I was afraid that showing off this power was somehow egotistical and not on the highest level of expression. Therefore I had doubts as to His motives in doing it.


But when I got closer and began to experience it, I realised that it was so natural to Him, and the reason behind it so sound, that I realised He was coming from a different space. He was not becoming something; He was that already. And so there was nothing that could spoil Him.


Baba is here to try to evolve people out of the insanity they have created for themselves, into the Light. For anybody who comes into His orbit, who is willing to meet Him half way, He is going to do everything He can to help, because that is His mission, that is why He is here. With a Westerner it usually takes something to blow his mind to get out of the material world that he is trapped in, and out of his idea that everything can be figured out scientifically.

So Baba creates something out of time breaking what looks like scientific natural laws and creates a so-called miracle. That is very hard for someone steeped in the intellectual world to handle. They have to confront it and question it. And the only answer is, God. And most of the time, people who are intellectual cannot get to God, because it doesn't work for them.

It is the simple-minded person, who has faith and love that can embrace God without having to understand God. But it is the intellectual who has to understand God before he can embrace Him. And the understanding of God is impossible! There are millions of people out there trying to figure out and going bonkers, because they can't. And, an act of suspension of time is going to stop people and make them pause and think.

ELEVATING LOVE…

The picture you see on the right is Mr. and Mrs. Anderson with Bhagavan Baba and on the right is Mr. Richard Bock. There is an incredible story related to this couple which is recorded by Prof. N. Kasturi in Baba’s biography “Sathyam Shivam Sundaram, Part-IV”. Here is that interesting extract:

(It was the day of the 43rd Birthday of Bhagavan; the year was 1968)


 

 
Mr. and Mrs. Anderson with Swami; on the far right is Richard Bock. November 1968

At the Auditorium, on the dais, Baba seated Himself on the silver chair, amidst the acclamation of the immense gathering. Then, Baba graciously allowed some devotees to place a few drops of consecrated oil on His Head: they touched His Feet and placed flowers on them. The Mother who has won the gratitude of the world for ages, placed the oil, first. Then, a few others followed. Begum Tahira Sayeed, a Persian and Urdu poetess; M.S. Dixit, a revered old devotee who had served Baba even in His Previous Body, while He was at Shirdi; the Rajmata of Jamnagar; the Rajmata of Sirohi, Dr. Gokak and Indra Devi.

While Indra Devi was placing a few drops of oil on His Hair with a flower dipped in the cup I was holding, Baba saw a certain Mrs. Anderson who had come from the United States. She was a chronic invalid, unable to walk or use her lower limbs, being helped around by her husband in a wheeled chair. As soon as she came to Prasanthi Nilayam, she was admitted to the Hospital so that she could be nursed there by professional hands. Baba presented her, and all other ladies from beyond the seas, saris on the 22nd, so that they could wear them on His Birthday; He deputed some ladies to help this one to wrap it around her. On the 23rd, she was brought down from the Hospital Hill and allowed to watch the Function from the far end of the dais, where she sat on her inevitable wheel chair, which had become more or less a part of her anatomy!

Baba turned to me and said,
"That lady in the wheelchair will be happy if you take the cup to her, and get a flower dipped by her in the oil, which can later be placed on My Head." I was thrilled by His Compassion but, there was more to follow.

Before I could turn to the left and proceed towards her (the distance from the Silver Chair of Baba to her wheel chair was over 40 feet), Baba stopped me and said, "Wait! I shall Myself go to her!" People were astonished when they saw Baba descend from the Chair and proceed towards the invalid lady, with me holding the oil cup. Baba bent His Head before her, so that she could place a few drops of oil on His Halo of glorious Hair! The gathering was overwhelmed with grateful joy, when they saw this spontaneous flood of Divine Mercy, and the happy glow of ecstasy on the pale face of a foreign invalid! She applied the flower three times. The third time Baba held her hand, saying, "Stand Up" ...and she stood!

The gathering was amazed with delight! "Come with me!" Baba said. And she walked the forty feet, towards the Silver Chair, keeping pace with Baba! I was so overcome with joy that I ran towards the mike and announced to the entranced gathering that Mrs. Anderson, who had not walked for years, was cured of her illness, and that she has risen from her wheeled chair at the bidding of Baba and got her limbs back in perfect condition. Every one was thrilled by this miracle of healing. "Normal feet" was the Birthday Gift she received from Baba.

The Enigmatic Story of the Endless Supply of Vibhuti

The thing that blew my mind was not the creation of the ring. It was what happened when Indra Devi asked Him if she could have some more of the healing ash, the Vibhuti, because she had given all of her first supply out to people. He said "Yes" and, as I am watching, moves His hands in a circle and then holds both hands up as if to receive something. Then this urn about four inches high appears in mid-air and plops into His hands! I see this and I say, "That is not sleight of hand, that is not up His sleeve, that is something else!" And then He takes the top off and, on a piece of paper, spills out all of the ash. Then He pours again and another full quantity of ash pours out so that in total He poured out about double the amount the urn could hold.

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Ms. Indra Devi on the day of the inauguration of the Hollywood Sai Centre, October 1969
 

Next, He puts half of it back in the urn and distributes some of the remainder to people nearby. What's left He puts in a little handkerchief bag that He gives to Indra. He touches it and says, "Now this will be an inexhaustible supply, so you won't run out."

Well she has had it for ten years now and it is still flowing. And she has given it to thousands of people. So, that was a miracle for me, much more so than the ring. Because I had been flirting with the concept of God and had studied religion; but I had had no experience of God. After that experience with Baba, whether or not God exists, is no longer a question in my mind.

In the twelve years since that visit, Baba has allowed me many opportunities to be with Him and to film and record His activities, and to be an instrument in sharing the results with other devotees. I believe it is because of my involvement with the technology and mechanics of spreading His message that Baba has allowed me to see how truly incidental they are.

Baba has repeatedly said that His mission is to foster devotees. He needs no one to aid in this task as His omnipresence and omniscience is at the core of each particle within the universe. We may count ourselves blessed if He allows us to spend our time in work associated with His mission as part of the sadhana of our own spiritual growth.

Bhagavan presenting the book "Golden Age"
to Mr. Richard Bock
 
Swami unveils "Golden Age" on the day of His Birthday, 1980. This article is a leaf from this volume

It is a practice in the world to attach names and credits to the results of efforts of individuals, as though they were the creators, rather than the Lord working through them. The fallacy of this practice is never more apparent than when we complete a project knowing that the inspiration, the energy and the results are all His. The only thing to do then is to pray that the instrument has not distorted the melody and message He wishes to convey.

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 for your time.

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