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A Stirring Story of Surrender

By Mr Ivan Bavcevic, Croatia


Mr Ivan Bavcevic is the Sai Youth coordinator for Southern Europe. After graduating with distinction from the American College of Management and Technology in Dubrovnik, Croatia, he served as the chief of staff of the office of Her Royal Highness, the Archduchess of Austria. He has also worked as assistant professor at the American College of Management and Technology and currently runs a business involved in professional development and business consulting. This is the transcript of his talk delivered in the Divine Presence on July 27, 2007, the second day of the World Youth Conference.

Dear sisters and brothers, dear Friend, Teacher and Lord, my dearest and only Self, I am grateful and blessed for the opportunity to address this Holy gathering in the presence of our beloved Bhagavan Baba and I pray to Him to think and speak through this body now and ever on.

I thought I would be nervous talking in front of thousands of people, but then I remembered that I can’t be nervous in front of my very own self, even if it is spread in thousands of forms.

It is difficult to even comprehend with our minds what it means to stand here in this holiest of places. But that is exactly what is not necessary. Our soul knows the greatness of this occasion and that is enough. There is no need to comprehend it with our minds as the mind will only lead us to limited and small conclusions and lead us away from the Truth.

All Life Leads to Surrender

When I thought what to share with you today, I realized that I could only speak from my personal experience. I could share with you the knowledge I have accumulated from books and others, but you can all read and listen for yourself. What is more important is how I implemented the teachings in this body and this life; what I have realized from life experiences and events and to what understandings did I arrive. For, life serves as a tool for experiencing different aspects of our Divinity and Divinity is present in every thing, every being, every situation, every experience and every moment we encounter. I realized that all events lead me to the practice of surrender to God.

 

If I look back into my early childhood, to the moments I can remember, I see some invisible hand leading my life. I did not grow up in a religious or spiritual family, especially since it was a communist country, but my beloved parents always knew there was something greater than us. They did not call it God, but they knew there was some energy, some being, some consciousness pervading everything and they told my sister and me that we can choose what form to believe in when we grow up. Even though they never went to church or prayers, they brought us up to always tell the truth, to love and respect others, to tolerate the differences and to forgive, and I am grateful to Swami for them because only God can give you such wonderful parents and wonderful childhood. My father, a non-religious man, would tell me at least twice a week: “Son, remember that you are God and always live your life like one.” He was telling me the biggest of all truths from the early childhood and at that time I didn’t realize it. I was not comfortable thinking that ‘I am God’. I thought that he should not put me up to “stars” in such a way.

 

The Invisible Hand of Sai

So when I look at my childhood, from the parents and grandparents I had, from birth to kindergarten, from elementary school to high school, and all the good things that happened, the invisible hand that was arranging everything is definitely the hand of our most loving Lord Sathya Sai Baba. While writing the speech I remembered that I spent a great part of the first 10 years of my life with my grandparents. In Croatian language, the word for grandmother is Baba. I would call that name at least 20 times a day: Baba, I am hungry; Baba, where are you?; Baba, can I have some ice cream; Baba, let’s go out; Baba, let’s watch TV, etc. In a way, Swami made sure that I call His name from the early days of my life without even knowing it.

The first time I saw His image was in 1985 on TV in Yugoslavia when they showed a documentary on a holy man from India who can ‘materialize a powder for long time from a metal pot’ (the Vibhuti Abhishekam that Swami used to do in seventies). At home we were all amazed by what He can do and at that moment I wished that I could see Him doing that in person. I never ever thought that He Himself would make that wish come true and that I would go to India more than 15 years later. Our dear Swami never lets any sincere yearning, any innocent and honest wish go unnoticed and unfulfilled. For, He is the Fulfiller of our dreams and the Giver of all Boons.


Jesus’ Divine Reassurance

It was not until 3rd grade of high school that I started reading the Catholic Christian Bible and one night I asked God whether He really existed. That night I had a dream that Jesus was saving my friend and me from some criminals. I did not believe the dream to be true so the second night I asked the same question and Jesus again came to my dream and said that he will protect me and that I am safe with Him. From that moment I believed that God was true.

Then one day I read a story in the Bible about Joseph, a son of Jacob, who was very dear to his father and whose brothers left him in the desert to die and sold him to a caravan because they were very jealous of him. The caravan took him to Egypt where he was a slave and lived in very terrible conditions. But Joseph was very dear and close to God and had the power to predict events and explain dreams of others. He predicted many things and the Pharaoh realized that he can help the country in many ways. One day Joseph predicted that there would be 7 years of good harvest followed by 7 years of drought. Pharaoh put him in charge of food supplies for the whole Kingdom of Egypt. When the drought came they had enough of food and all other countries around were dying of hunger. Jacob, who was living with his sons in Israel, sent his sons to ask for food in Egypt as they would otherwise all die.

 

When the brothers came to Egypt, it was Joseph who received them. When they realized it was their youngest brother they were very ashamed and afraid. He then told them not to worry as it was God Himself who put him through all this trouble in order to be able to save Israel and his family from starvation. Because, if they had not sold him to caravan he would never have become in charge of food supplies in Egypt and would not be able to help his family.

“All is Perfect”

This story taught me to believe firmly in God’s will and His plan and always to know that everything happens for my highest well being. Ever since then I try taking everything that happens to me as the best possible thing, the perfect thing. Even if it doesn’t make any sense at the beginning, I know that it will all make sense the next hour, or the next day, or in a month or in a few years.

 

I no longer worry and don’t ask why something happens to me. Actually, it is me who has brought that event to myself in the first place. All I pray for to God is for the strength to accept the things and events He sends me and to realize that is how it should be. All is perfect, just as it should be. That is the first step on the path to surrender. So simply always thank God and be grateful for everything that happens as it is surely the perfect thing for you.

This reminds me of my college days when I enrolled into a private university in Croatia. University education is free in Croatia, but if you go to a private institution you have to pay a lot of money. My entire family gathered money and I was able to enroll in the first year. However, for the second year we had no money. My parents asked me whether I was worried that we cannot afford to pay for my university and I said that I was not worried at all. I said: “I didn’t put myself in this university at the first place. God put me there and He will pay for it.” A month later I received an unexpected scholarship and was able to continue my studies.

If I look back to 7-8 years ago when Swami was present in my life without my conscious knowledge, I can see that I was quite a frightened person, often nervous and upset, often moody and lonely, sometimes loud and rude, and feeling that something big was missing. That ‘something big’ walked in my life at the end of 1999 and turned out to be bigger than I could ever think of. Our Beloved Lord made sure that I enter the new millennium with Him in my mind and life. At that moment I remembered many situations in life when it was obviously His hand that perfectly arranged everything in order and in timelines. There are countless events that showed Swami’s constant presence and care for my life and it would not be possible to tell them all this now, as they range from admissions to schools and universities, to saving my body without a scratch in deadly car accidents, to getting excellent jobs with famous people and European royalty.

When in 2002 I was hired to work as an executive for Her Imperial Royal Highness Archduchess of Austria, I came to the place where we were opening our new office. There was nobody there and no furniture or equipment. I opened a cupboard and on the door I saw Swami’s photo in yellow dress. Nobody knew how that photo came there. Swami always makes sure to show us His omnipresence and involvement in our lives.

Going Deep in Surrender

Dear sisters and brothers in Sai, I would like to share with you some of the changes in my life since the last year. In 2006 I realized that, even though I felt I was surrendering to Lord and believed in His will, I was still relying on worldly security and comfort. If I would honestly look into my mind and habits, I would find out that I thought: “If everything else fails and shows to be wrong, I still have an excellent paying job, a good career, a house to live in and I am safe.” I saw that this mental concept was keeping me away from deeper surrender. I decided to leave the dream job and secure salary and with God’s help open my own business that will be set up on human values and dharmic management and which would do consulting for companies on how to run better business.

When you have to earn your bread every month, which is not guaranteed, you better surrender to God. I told Swami: “This year, 2006 is nearing its end and I sense it is the end of a big part of my life. I am ready to be part of your Holy Mission and to let go of my petty worldly habits and thinking. I am ready to enter the 2007 in a new spirit of dedication and commitment to You.” When you say “yes” to Swami then you reject the right to be like everyone else. And when you make that one step towards Him, He makes hundreds towards you.

Not too many days passed after my words to Swami when I received an email from Dr. Reddy, the Director of Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation, telling me that Swami has graciously approved me to be a member of the Planning Committee for this World Youth Conference. You can only imagine the joy, the tears, and my complete happiness with this news! I thought I was dreaming. And I knew it was not just an honor, but an enormous responsibility. When you “work” for the Master of the Universe then you are extra careful in everything you think, say and do. And every day is a new challenge.

 

I truly felt like I have been growing in surrender to Swami. When I look back to the years before when I thought I had entrusted my life to God, I realize that I had not surrendered compared to what I realize now. Actually, since last December, I discovered that every day my level of surrender is increasing. There is no limit to how much one can be surrendered until she or he finally merges with God in timeless being.

Surrendering does not mean expecting everything to be smooth. On the contrary, God puts in front of us many and ever more challenging situations so that we progress on our spiritual path. But in surrender you do not worry as you are not alone. You know that Swami cares for you because you are dearer than the dearest to Him and He is there for you in every moment. Imagine how great is our Lord when He is able to dedicate every single moment to every one of us individually. To all the billions of people and other beings He dedicates every second to every one of us individually and personally. Nothing and nobody is left unnoticed.

Heaven is Right Now

I can only suggest to each one of us to look sincerely within and see what is still left to be transformed and surrendered to God. One holy man said that it may seem like a process that will lead us to change, but at the end it is an instant moment that leads to transformation. We can’t know when that instant will happen, but we can start living our lives as if it has already happened. By living the goal, by walking the talk, and by talking the true thought, we can use our creative power to create Heaven on Earth in this life, this day, this minute. And if you look around yourself you will see that you already are in Heaven, right now.

I would like to remind all of us on how lucky we are to be here. We have waited for hundreds of lives to be born to serve in the Mission of this Avatar. That opportunity has now come. The Avatar Himself has invited us all here in His name to start carrying His Mission of Love to this world, not in words, but by our own example. Our life should become the Mission itself, become Love itself. That is what we are here for. We should ask ourselves every day: “Is everything I do in Sai Organization, at work, at home and in the public making my heart more loving and open?” If I have more Love as a result of all the activities then I am doing well. If I am not having more Love, if I am not being more Love, then everything I do is in vain. For Love is the goal, the source and the means.

 

Living a New Vision

After these three days of the Conference we should not only go home and say what a nice time we had, what good food we ate and what kind of workshops we attended. But we should really grasp the meaning and make a transformation within ourselves. When we go back home everyone will expect us to be the leaders of the new Era.

But we can lead only with our Love, our Character and our Personal Example. This is the greatest opportunity a soul can have and it should not be missed. Our heirs will tell stories about this great time and would not be able to understand how some people could not seize the moment and see its greatness.

Let us now spread this paradise beyond the walls of the Ashram, carrying it in our hearts, in our minds, on our lips and in our helping hands. The paradise and its peace can only be spread through our own beings and our very presence in this world. This way we can experience our innate Divinity and show Swami that we deserve to be called Embodiments of Divine Love - Gods walking on the Earth.

I am grateful to Swami for this Life, for all lives, for the opportunity to speak here today and pray that we always be in awareness with Him. May love lead us. Jay Sai Ram!


Dear Reader, did this article inspire you in any way? Would you like to share you feelings with us? If so, please write to us at [email protected] mentioning your name and country.  Thank you for your time.


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Vol 5 Issue 09 - SEPTEMBER 2007
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