Posted on: July 13, 2011
How a Lost Teenager Turned into an Illumined Psychoanalyst
- a free-wheeling conversation with Dr. Allen Levy
e, the devotees of Bhagawan Baba, live in a different world today. We are like those who go to a driving school to learn the skill under the direct supervision of a trainer. At some point however the supervisor decides its time for him to handover all the controls of the car and be just a silent witness watching to what extent his instructions have been understood and are being followed.
In this school of life, Bhagawan is the Teacher imparting us valuable lessons to carefully manoeuvre through the mad traffic that is life. However after a while, after having trained enough, He chooses to take the back seat and just observe how we are implementing His advices. This is the phase we are in now. After having guided us unremittingly for over several decades to disassociate ourselves with our physical bodies and seek the eternal spring of joy within; to passionately pursue to seek proximity not with the physical form of the Divine but with the impeccable Indweller of our hearts, Baba has now given us the ultimate test (by deciding to shed His mortal coil). And the only way to succeed in this exam is to choose Him to the exclusion of everything else and hold on to Him, come what may.
Many years ago as a confused teenager, Dr. Allen Levy pleaded to Him from the other side of the globe: "Swami, please show me if you are real; if God is really real, then I will choose You. But You need to show me." With gratitude he says, "And He did." Having embarked on the journey, he now says: "Swami is and has always been universal. He is everywhere and in everyone." From a jewish boy unable to relate to God, to a college student juggling with meditation and a social life, to an American sanyasin to a psychoanalyst with a spiritual heart that he is now - Dr. Allen walks us through this fascinating tale of his life in a free wheeling conversation with Bishu Prusty recorded in the Radio Sai studio in May 2011. Read on and you will find not only startling episodes of amazing grace but also valuable spiritual tips and tricks which will enable us to alleviate our sorrows and elevate our souls.
Radio Sai (RS): Our guest at the studio today is Dr. Allen Levy, a practicing modern psychoanalyst from West Port, Connecticut, USA. He was in private practice in Manhattan for 20 years before moving to Connecticut in 2000. He is also a senior faculty member of The Centre for Group Studies in Manhattan and past faculty member at Union Graduate School, Cincinnati, Ohio. He has been in this profession, serving people with mental and psychological ailments, for over three decades.
Welcome Dr. Allen Levy to the studios of Radio Sai!
Dr. Allen Levy is in bliss in the company of his Divine Master
Dr. Allen Levy (Dr. A.L.): Thank you very much. It’s my pleasure and honor to be here. I’m very grateful to you and Radio Sai for inviting me to share the story of life's journey with Swami.
RS: Maybe you can begin by telling us a bit more about yourself so that our listeners get a better idea of who Dr. Allen Levy is as a person, a professional as well as a devotee.
Dr. A.L.: Well I started off in a family in which my father was the president of Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan. He had inherited the business from my grandfather who had been the first person to bring scallops to America. This was an honour in my mind but otherwise it was a violent family. Of course, at a super conscious level all of us choose our own parents.
It was a difficult family to grow up in. My mother loved me very much but could not offset the violence present in the family. I had a brother, two years younger and a sister seven yours younger, both of them were wonderful.
As a youngster I was materially and sensually orientated and was very gross (in my thinking). However I was reasonably intelligent too. So I did well at school but that was to my deficit as it only made my belief in materialism and the material world stronger.
A Stir from Within
When I was about 17, something occurred inside me; it was like a sudden spiritual awakening. I became aware of not only the inner mental processes but something beyond that. I felt an ocean current was sweeping me into a mystical world that I did not know of, or had any familiarity with before.
RS: Did this happen all of a sudden or was it a slow process?
Dr. A.L.: No, it happened suddenly.
I was brought up as a snow skier, so my friends from high school and I in our senior year had gone on a ski trip. That weekend I didn’t sleep for more than a couple of hours every night because it was just fun being with friends. We were living cleanly but we skied all day and talked all night, and then caught a couple of hours of sleep; after three such days, suddenly my mind was shattered. It was like I was living a dream and had no awareness of what was really happening. Since I had grown up in a troubled situation, my subconscious mind began to empty itself spontaneously into the normal waking state. It was very confusing and scary for me, at the same time I felt this deep underlying current of love that I was not familiar with. So in that state I became a bit depressed and confused, and the whole world around me shattered.
RS: So at that point you knew something was happening deep inside you but did not know what exactly it was.
Dr. A.L.: That’s right. This lasted for about three to four months and then it started calming down. After this experience, I realised that God somehow really did exist, but I had no relationship with Him.
RS: Before that you didn’t have any faith in God?
Dr. A.L.: No, because I had grown up in a situation, especially in the Hebrew school, that was very ritualised, concrete and violent. The teachers did not like the students; the students did not like each other! It was the opposite of what Swami has created as a University at Prasanthi Nilayam; opposite of what education in human values is all about. So basically during that time I didn’t believe in God; I didn’t think He existed.
RS: Even though you were in a Hebrew school!
Dr A.L.: Correct. But I learnt the Hebrew language, the rituals and the ceremonies and also got Bar Mitzvahed (a religious initiation ceremony for a Jewish child). It was a nice experience that way but I could not relate to God at all.
So after this experience in the ski trip, I suddenly knew that God existed. It was also a bit scary because knowing God existed meant I somehow was responsible for what I did prior to that awakening. And that was scary because I was not a nice person. I was very selfish; I didn’t care or bother about others at all. I was just interested in one person - me. After I realised in that awakening that God existed, I had to answer for my actions. It was terrifying also for another reason - I thought God was like what we were taught in the Hebrew school – One who will punish you if you do something wrong; so I feared God then.
RS: You didn’t have any training in the Hebrew school to relate to God as someone who loves us?
Dr. A.L.: Not at all. As a matter of fact it was just the opposite! We were told God led the Israelis, the enslaved Jewish people out of Egypt, and He was going to punish those who had treated them badly. But He would punish the Jewish people as well if they acted in a wrong manner. And I thought of myself as a Jew who had acted badly, so I feared the existence of the terrible God. When I went to college after this I deliberately dulled my mind and awareness. I tried to subdue everything I had opened up. I even did some drugs and wrong things to try and forget about what had happened.
The Bliss of Meditation and the Lure of a Vibrant College Life
Dr. Levy talks about how and when he first heard about Bhagawan
RS: You were trying to suppress this new feeling?
Dr. A.L.: Correct. I went to college and in the first year I was doing really well. I got straight 'A's and had a good social life. I had a huge crowd of friends and was on the junior varsity soccer team. So life was good. Then one of my friends said that some people were coming to the school to teach meditation and that he was planning to go and learn. He asked me if I would join him. “What do you have to do to learn meditation?” I asked. My friend told me that I would have to give up drugs for two weeks. I told him I was in a good phase in my life and did not need anything else to make me happy.
He however replied saying meditation was really good. So I said if that’s true, he could come back to me in six months if he’s still doing meditation, I will then gladly take it up and give up drugs too. So a quick agreement was made. Some of my other friends too were going for the meditation classes and they too told me that they would do it for a while and then come back to take me. And in about six months they did get back to me; they said it was really wonderful. Some of these buddies were my soccer team mates too, so I believed them. Then I said to myself “I had promised to do this; let me now give up drugs and learn to meditate!” I called up my brother who was in high school then and said, "Lou, I’m going to learn to meditate this weekend. Why don’t you too come up, stay in my room in college and learn too.” So both of us learnt transcendental meditation.
For the first time when I sat down, closed my eyes and started meditating like they taught, fireworks went off inside me! It was an amazingly deep experience that was totally different than anything I had experienced before. So from that moment on I meditated everyday for at least 20 minutes; sometimes a little longer and mostly twice a day. At the same time I thought, “Well I can keep my social life and drugs occasionally.” As Swami later said to me and others "false grapes are not helpful”. Thankfully I didn’t drink.
So I just continued life in college and meditated. As for God, I wasn’t still sure. Maybe God existed, maybe not. That was my way to rationalise my social life and allow myself to do bad things knowing very well that they are wrong. In this manner I just meditated and had a good life for about a year and a half, and then I realised I wasn’t getting anywhere.
The Divine Tug Comes in the Form of Hilda Charlton
I had by then started studying Swami’s teachings. I had heard about Him through a woman named Hilda Charlton. My brother had taken me to a class of meditation with her in Manhattan; that is where I first met her. She had then been with Swami for a whole year. In fact she was the first westerner ever to come to Swami in 1964-65. And after that year, Swami said to her: "Hilda, no more lives, no more births." But she said, "Swami, I want to help, can I have one more life with you?" She shared this with me later. Swami looked into the air, thought a minute - I guess He was arranging the universe for her - and then looked at her and said, "Okay Hilda, one more." So at the time she had returned to America, enlightened.
Swami had said "Hilda has no mind." A diamond is a very precious stone but a ‘die-mind’ is the greatest treasure in the universe. Without a mind, a person is totally realised. Such a person is one with God. So Hilda returned to America and helped people like me. She showed us the path that Swami had taught, and trained us to love and serve God and everyone.
Hilda Charlton meditating in the USA, 1972 (left); with Bhagawan in Brindavan, 1965 (right)
After this meeting I went back to college which was in Florida at that point but she was in New York. During this time I would occasionally pray to Swami because I was confused again. Do I take a spiritual path? Should I practice Swami’s teachings or enjoy myself with the pleasures of the world that I was experiencing in the college?
RS: So you had started believing in Swami?
Dr. A.L.: Oh yes.
RS: How did that happen? You just heard about Swami from Hilda and that confirmed your faith?
Dr. A.L.: One day while I was home on a weekend, my brother came to the house and said he had met the divine mother and also God. I said, “Lou! You have been mediating too much; you are crazy!” He looked at me and showed me a picture of Hilda – 'the divine mother' as he called her and then showed me a picture of Swami who looked like a rock star to me! I remember thinking that Swami looked like Jimmy Hendrix! Lou told me I could say whatever I wanted! We spent the weekend together with family. That happened in October (1971) and in November it was Rosh Hashanah, so I came back for Thanksgiving. My brother told me he had a book for me to read - 'Baba' by Arnold Schulman.
Then he invited me to his apartment in New York City to give me this book and also to a class of Hilda’s. And on that day he was playing bhajans in his apartment. It was a record that was made long ago. On one side was Swami's revelations about Himself and His mission that Prof. Kasturi had translated in English whilst Swami spoke in Telugu; on the other side were some very popular bhajans of the time.
RS: Sung by Swami Himself?
Dr. A.L.: Yes. When I walked into his little room in Eldridge Street, Manhattan I heard the bhajans, and just started dancing spontaneously! I was dancing in joy, like a Jewish person twirling in circles. I was very happy and asked my brother what it was. He was laughing watching me because I looked like a nut. When I asked him again, he said it was Sai Baba singing bhajans. I told him it was really wonderful. It felt so elevating to me; I had never heard anything like it.
After this we went to a class with Hilda and that’s when I met her for the first time and she told me more about Sai Baba.
"I Needed to Make a Choice"
I was still in college and after about a year or soof knowing this I said to myself, “I cannot continue to have a social life and ignore Swami's teachings.” At the time I was smoking marijuana, partying all the time, and had a girlfriend. Basically I was into all things that westerners do in college even as I was also meditating. I told myself that I had to pick one of the two; I had to choose the spiritual life and meditation or just go back to the world and enjoy a material life. I needed to make a choice. So I sat down and meditated on this; that is the only thing I knew to do. I said, "Swami, please show me if You are real, if God is really real; then I will choose You. But You need to show me please." And He did.
That night I meditated for at least two hours and I had never meditated like that before. When I walked outside after that everything - all the plants, the trees, the people - were glowing with the energy of life; by Swami's grace something had opened up in me. It was an all new experience!
The Changing Moment
Hilda and her group of students at Prasanthi Nilayam, 1978. It was Dr. Levy's (seated second from left) first trip.
Then I said, well this is nature, how do I know this is God? Everything is glowing but it’s happening with the light of nature, energy and life. But where’s God? So I just sat there and thought, the only way I could get any deeper is by chanting 'Om'. So I did, really intensely; maybe for a hundred times, I don’t know. And then all of a sudden there was an electricity that rose from the base of my spine and burst like a nuclear explosion in my head. And I said to myself, "I don’t know if I could take this.” But at the same time my consciousness expanded into this oneness of light, which was the entirety of creation; I was one with that. And I thought, well I don’t know if this is God but it’s the closest God-experience I will ever have.
I know He picked me out of the mud and said, “Okay, come on, come into something sublime and spiritual; come into the spiritual life with Me.” He showed me He was real; God is real. That was the changing moment. I never smoked another cigarette or did drugs from then on. I never drank another glass of alcohol, not even a glass of wine. I didn’t go out with women. I just paused and prayed, “Swami, I’m Yours. You do what You want with me.” That’s it.
Shortly thereafter Swami came in a dream and said, “You are Mine,” and gave me a ring, and then hugged me.
"Be a Sanyasi Inside"
Once a lost teenager, now a spiritual aspirant
Prasanthi Nilayam, 1978.
When I first came to India in 1978, I had an interview with Swami. On that occasion He said, "Do you want marriage?" I said, “No Swami, I don’t want marriage.” Note that by then I had been taking care of Hilda. I was like her confidant and student, and she was telling me so much about Swami. Actually I had come to Swami with Hilda and twenty of her other students. So when Swami asked me this question again, I said, “No Swami, I want only You; I don’t want marriage.” But He said, “No, I will give you a wife.” I said, “Swami! No, no!” I should not have said that to Swami because you never say 'no' to Him. Swami is God and you just have to surrender to Him. But at that time I didn’t have that awareness. So I pleaded, "Swami, only You. Please allow me to pursue brahmacharya (celibacy)." He said, "Okay." Then I asked Him about the dream and he said it was true and that He did put the ring on my finger. I told Him that I was His and will do whatever He says.
RS: Wonderful. So from then on I guess you must have had more opportunities of interaction with Bhagawan?
Dr. A.L.: Oh yes, many times.
RS: So this was in the 70’s and 80’s, right?
Dr. A.L.: That was 1978. I came as often as I could, sometimes two to three times a year. Swami would call me in occasionally but there were long periods like 5 or 7 years when I wouldn’t have an interview or any discussion with Swami, not even a few words.
Then Hilda passed on and I came here for 10 months. And during that period Swami was so wonderful. He called me in four times and He really did want me to get married. When He spoke to me for the first time during that trip He asked, "Where is your wife?" I said, "In You, Swami." His expression was like He was going to slap me on the cheek. Then He said, "Everything is in Me." He asked again, “Where is your wife?” And I turned around, my wife was with me in the back. Of course, we weren’t married then, but we had thought about it a little. So I said, “My wife Roseanne is right here.” He said, "Yes, I will marry you." Who could want more than that! The Lord Himself was saying, “Here is your wife, I will marry you!”
Then He kept us there for 10 months. Now I was very confused about that because I was trained to be a sanyasi (renunciant) in the 15 years I was with Hilda. I was close to her like one would be close to Swami. When you are in such a spiritual relationship you don’t think about marriage or wife; you only think about Swami, and how to serve Him. If He says "Bring the coffee or tea, or go and sit over there," you just do it with an unquestioning attitude; that is complete surrender. That was the way I was with Hilda or at least tried to be.
With his then wife-to-be Roseanne in Kodai, 1989
So when Swami was saying "Get married," I didn’t understand how to do that; I didn’t know how to make that transition. So in those 10 months Swami would talk to me about it all the time and wait to see if I was less confused. Finally He called me in one day and asked, "How are you?" I replied, "Swami, You told me I should be married but I have been a sanyasi for 15 years and I don’t know how to be married." He said, "Don’t worry. Sanyasi is inside not outside, being a sanyasi is in the heart; it’s not an outer thing." But Swami didn’t marry us. He sent us back home with His blessings to be married. I said, "Swami, marry us please." "I will bless, I will bless, I will bless," is all He said. I begged but He replied: "I bless, I’m there with you." I pleaded with Him like this many times, but He sent us back. I thought I must have done something really wrong because of which Swami had changed His mind or I must have been too confused for too long because of which He wasn’t happy with me.
But when I got home, my parents thanked God that we had returned. I was puzzled. When I asked them why they were so thankful to God, they said since we had stayed in Puttaparthi for 10 months, they were worried. Besides they wanted us to marry at home and were fervently praying to God for that! While my first reaction was “Why,” I understood that parents were first when it comes to the body. The body belongs to parents; they are like God, and deserve that respect, no matter what. So they had prayed to Swami and He had answered their pleas. Now they were very grateful.
Learning Techniques of Meditation from the Goal of Meditation
RS: Wonderful! Now coming to your training in meditation, I understand that there were a lot of instances when Swami guided you personally about the process and technique of meditation.
Bhagawan accepts the invitation as Dr. Levy seeks permission for the Christmas Choir in 1989.
Dr. A.L.: Yes, both my wife and I were very fortunate to receive a lot of instruction directly from Swami on meditation. In fact my wife meditated naturally. But I had been a teacher of transcendental meditation before. When Swami called us in 1978 the first thing He said was that meditation is free and we should not charge money for it. I abided by that ever since. I had always felt that it was wrong to charge fees for meditation and Swami was confirming that.
Then I said, "Swami, people are coming to me to learn meditation. But I only want to teach Your meditation. May I have the permission to do that?" In a subsequent interview He said, "You cannot teach meditation; no one can teach meditation. You can only share it because meditation is a state of consciousness. You cannot charge money for it; it's as natural as the breath." So I asked Him if I could share meditation and He said, "Yes, you may share it, you may share it."
Bhagawan granting Dr. Levy the gift of sparshan as he reverentially touches His feet.
So occasionally people would come to my room (in Prasanthi Nilayam) and I’d show them meditation. Later in 1988, I asked Swami, “Many people are coming to my room, what shall we do?” He looked at us but didn’t say a word. We thought maybe we could have a shed and all these people could come together where we could share meditation. Prof. Kasturi and Dr. Hislop asked Swami about this on our behalf. Swami said, “Yes, have them do that. Assign them a shed and they can have these sessions after bhajans in the morning; that will be fine.” So for the next 5-6 months that we were in Prasanthi Nilayam we conducted these sessions every morning from 10-11 a.m. There would be 100-300 westerners and some Indians sitting in circles and meditating. Swami had shared with us soham meditation, jyothi meditation, name and form meditation, self-enquiry meditation and dharna meditation.
RS: You had learnt all of these directly from Swami?
Bhagawan posing with Dr. Levy (fourth from left) and the other musicians on the stage of Poorna Chandra Auditorium, 1999.
Dr. A.L.: Yes! Some things He had spoken directly and about the others, when we asked Him He would remain silent, and then sure enough we would find His article or speech in the Sanathana Sarathi (the ashram's magazine) about it.
Swami many times made this point: "Meditation is a state of consciousness. You cannot meditate but you can concentrate; concentration is the first stage in the process of meditation. From that comes contemplation and when the mind in the stage of contemplation is transcended, one reaches a state of equanimity which is beyond the mind - that is meditation, a state of consciousness."
RS: You mentioned three words: concentration, contemplation and meditation. I am reminded of a quote in which Bhagawan very beautifully explains the difference between these three. He says that there are three stages in the spiritual Sadhana. Concentration entails fixing your gaze on one form but contemplation occurs when you’re able to perceive the form within you even in its absence. But meditation means when as a result of this exercise this form is permanently imprinted in your heart. And if one continued to meditate in this manner then the form gets constantly fixed in that person’s heart. One should not really confine oneself to concentration or contemplation but go beyond to meditation. When one carries this out then he or she will visualise the form of God at all times. Swami says that is how the ancient rishis (sages) were able to see God. When they meditated on Him they saw His manifestation because God was so permanently, constantly and solidly imprinted in their hearts.
And when I reflect on this, in the changed circumstances now (that is, Swami not being available physically) it’s so important for us to just keep Swami permanently and constantly in our hearts. If we really meditate on Him intensely then probably even now we can have His darshan.
Dr. A.L.: Absolutely, this is so true. Swami is and has always been universal. He is everywhere and in everyone. This is where we need to be; it is not that I am already there, I am also like everybody else walking towards that goal of seeing Him. We have to see the formless in everyone and in everything but first it has to come from within. It has to be seen in our heart. Swami has said that when you see the form and are merged in it, even in this situation do not just hang on to the form in your heart; strive to go beyond the name and the form. He showed this to many devotees in the past.
One of them was Hilda. She had a vision towards the end of her stay in Puttaparthi in 1964-65. She saw Swami’s image shatter into a billion pieces and become the universe and beyond that. She didn’t understand what this meant, so she asked Swami directly about this. Baba said to her: "Go beyond the name, beyond the form." Subsequently as a result of Swami’s teachings she was fully enlightened and liberated.
Dr. Levy talks about his approach to his profession and more
RS: That is the principle of unity, the ek Atma bhava, that Swami has been stressing all the time. When Swami says 'I know I am God and in fact you too are God, the only difference is you do not know you are God,' the underlying ultimate truth behind this statement is this principle of unity that He wants all of us to cultivate.
Dr. A.L: Absolutely true. We see Swami in our heart and think ‘Oh, I’m one with Swami in my heart.’ But that is a preliminary stage. What is most important is seeing God in everyone, loving God in everyone and serving God in everyone because it’s our own Self that is God. Therefore the pain of another is our pain, the suffering of another is our suffering and we want to alleviate that, just as Swami relieved us from the suffering and pain of our lives and brought us from delusion and illusion to a higher state of consciousness. And certainly, ultimately He will bring us to the conscious awareness of the supreme reality of our oneness, our unity in Him, in God. This is where we all arrive as sadhakas and devotees.
Practicing Psychotherapy - the Sai Way
RS: I was reading one article that you had written quiet some time ago which was published in the book Transformation of the Heart and towards the end of that piece you say, ‘My life has turned from concerns of self into a sharing of the burdens of life that others seem to bear. The real value of this life I call mine has become the intense desire to respond to the cry of pain from another who are my own self in disguise. By the grace of God I love and in that loving I give and I pray that the giving be so constant and so deep that one day realisation of the oneness of giver and the receiver, the true nature of being be eternal in this consciousness.’
By profession you are a psychoanalyst. Given all this training and spiritual instruction as well as the enlightenment that Swami has graced you with, has all this had any affect in the way you do your professional practice? I guess consciously or unconsciously these must have seeped into your practice.
Dr. A.L.: Yes, it has.
Dr. Allen Levy in the studios of Radio Sai in May 2011.
I think people are in anguish mentally and emotionally because they have lost an awareness of their own center; they’re just lost in the suffering of their minds. So to come out of these we must understand the nature of the mind, the awareness of desires, the attachments, the delusions and illusions and the imaginations that we have inside. And also the reactions, reflections and the resounds of karmas mixed with the seeds of the past known as vasanas.
We must understand that it is all contained within the mind - conscious, pre-conscious and subconscious. But there is the buddhi (intellect), which is the higher mind or super conscious mind that is over shadowed by the repression of pain and suffering. And even some pleasurable experiences in a repressed state become part of our subconscious mind. But the enlightened person does not have a mind; his subconscious mind has dissolved. The super conscious mind, the buddhi in the truly enlightened person who is one with God, is also dissolved. They are just the awareness of reality Sat Chit Ananda. When I was with Hilda I would ask her constantly “What is all this about? Do you not think with the mind?” She said, "No". She said she would think intuitively and that it came to her impulsively; it was sublime impulse. I could explore this with her - Swami had given me pain, suffering and delusion as a student, and then brought me to Hilda to understand the realities of the sublime spiritual life.
RS: But how did this help you as a psychoanalyst?
Dr. A.L.: I would bring this into my practice with patients, so they would tell me all their pain and suffering just like we would share with Swami in an interview. And I would sit and listen.
But once in an interview we asked Swami, "How do we practice psychotherapy?" We thought He was going to give a long discourse; He just said, "See Me in everyone." It was such a simple answer but the meaning was deep. It meant we should see the light of truth that is in everyone; maintain that visualisation, focus on that and let all else dissolve.
"Swami, I am not the doer; You are the doer" - Dr. Levy surrendering at His feet.
Then another occasion, I asked, "Swami, is everything really Your will? When bad things happen like Nazi Germany, when half my family was killed in Europe, is that Your will?" He didn’t elaborate very much but said, "Everything is My will." He didn’t even say, well, that’s ego, some things happen out of negativity. He simply said, "Everything is My will." Then I said, "Swami, Nazi Germany! Come on!" And He replied, “You don’t understand;. there are no victims.” What a profound statement; only God understands the realities beyond us. It is hard to understand this especially when we see negative things happen around us. In a tamasic and rajasic sense, yes, it happens. Through rajasic and tamasic activities people are engaged in ego and the will of God flows through that quality and comes out colored. So when negative things happen, that is God’s will. But why? Well, there’s a balance and a perception of reality, which is far beyond us.
Dr. Levy partcipating in seva in Kodaikanal along with students
RS: We never know the larger picture.
Dr. A.L.: Never, only God knows it. Swami would often ask me to let go of my ego and surrender. On one occasion I asked Him, "Swami, what about anger? Is that the will of God?" He said, "Just bubbles." So He was saying to me and to others in the room at the time that the things we go through emotionally and mentally, that is, the agitations of the mind are just bubbles. We have to let them go; they are illusions. We need to focus on the truth. And this is what I would do with the patients that I was with. They would say what they said and then I would ask, "Who are you?" And they say, "Oh I’m a woman, I’m a man, I’m a wife, I’m a husband, I’m a shop keeper, I’m a teacher" and so on.
I would then say, “Well that’s what the body is. But who is it that is in the body?” They would say, "Oh my mind is in the body" and then I’d say "Well but you could watch the mind. You can be aware of your mind from a distance like a witness. So who is watching the mind when it goes through all of this?” They would say, "Oh I don’t know, I don’t know." I would then tell them to watch the mind because that is who we are - the witness of the mind. You are alive, you are being, and you are experiencing the mind in its delusion and in its pain and suffering. But you are not that.
That is how over time my practice evolved with my patients.
RS: Psychoanalysis actually is so much spiritual. I don’t know when this discipline was founded and whether it had spiritual underpinnings. But when you add this spiritual aspect, this profession gets such a beautiful and complete dimension.
Dr. A.L: It gets illuminated. Freud (Sigmund Frued) himself at the end of his life regretted that he didn’t understand the mind more deeply.
Dr. A.L.: Yes, Freud said this. Once Swami revealed this in a lecture. I was actually very surprised. I was sitting there and Swami suddenly comes out with this; it was very illuminating to me. Swami was basically saying Freud himself regretted that he didn’t become more spiritual and that he wasn’t aware of the spiritual dimension of the mind. People may dispute and debate on this. But Swami, being all knowing, knew. He’s told me many times about this.
So basically if we bring the reality of ‘who we are’ to the awareness of therapy, to the patient, they then have the opportunity to have an appropriate perspective on their mind. And then they begin to release, just like how Swami helped us release the pain and suffering of our past. Some people would want medication to ‘get relieved,’ and I would say, "That’s temporary relief. It’s not going to do anything and ultimately you’re going to have to face yourself. You have to walk through the fire of your mind and be willing to face the fears that you have."
A lovely blessing
So I would help them with meditation because it provided them with a detached perspective where they were beyond the mind, for even a second or two. Many of my patients ended up meditating. My dissertation for Ph.D was on the psychoanalytic study of meditating patients vs. non-meditating patients. And meditating patients did better in this psychoanalytic process because they had the perspective that was a bit more detached. They were the witness of their minds’ activities.
So yes, modern psychoanalysis especially is more illumined by the processes of Swami’s teachings and the perspectives of meditation, when used together.
RS: That’s wonderful. It’s great to know how Swami is using you as an instrument and all the training that Swami gave you for so many years is finding its fulfillment. I know life must be now a wonderful experience for you given that you’re able to help so many people not only become mentally and psychologically better but also start thinking about themselves as spiritual beings.
Swami is the Therapist as Well as the Therapy
Dr. A.L.: It’s Swami always. It is only Swami who is doing this; this is not at all a personal achievement. I pray all the time: "Swami, You do this, I am not the doer. You are the Doer and the process of doing. You are everything: the goal, the beginning, the end and the process between. You are the person, sitting before me, You are me, and You do this.” So this awareness makes me detached to the result. That’s Swami's result and it has nothing to do with me. Everyday I pray that I live His teachings more fully and more deeply so that whoever is before me can be helped to live the life that Swami ultimately wants all of us to live.
Swami is not in the body any longer. He will come back again as Prema Sai Baba but in reality our purpose of living this moment is to see Swami in everyone, to love and serve Him in everyone. Just think about this: There are perhaps 10 million Sai devotees throughout the world. If each of us were to live these teachings of Swami, more fully and completely, it would truly be ‘love all and serve all!’
RS: Love all and serve all in its true sense!
Dr. A.L: Yes, we will then be unified in the oneness in Swami and be who we are: God in human form, just as Swami is. Then there will be 10 million avatars in this world!
RS: That is golden age.
Dr. A.L.: Yes, it will simply happen in the blink of an eye. The Earth will be transformed. Humanity will be transformed. All beings will be transformed. We will be a beacon to the universe of creation. All beings in creation will say they have lived the Lord’s teachings and that they are one with God, that they are God. When this transformation occurs, the entire universe will be transformed and nothing will ever be the same. We are the devotees of the Lord if we live His teachings and honor His life as He lived it here. He had said in the beginning that His life was His message. But later He said: "Your life is My message." This is our mission; our goal.
RS: Absolutely! I think every devotee is now geared up to be His messenger, to be the one who carries His love in their heart and shares it. And we see that happening everywhere now. It indeed is the dawn of the golden age.
Thank you very much for sparing your time.
Dr. A.L: Thank you too. Jai Sai Ram.
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