“I Am in you…you are in Me…don’t forget that…We cannot be separated…”

Hollywood screenplay writer Arnold Schulman had the privilege of experiencing Bhagawan early in 1960’s. How Bhagawan brought this New Yorker into His fold, who otherwise was a hard nut to crack, failing to accept Bhagawan’s Godhood or Divinity. Read on an extract, about the interesting episode, from his book entitled “Baba”.

Baba was on a thin mattress supported by a simple frame and four wooden legs, which served both as a studio couch during the day and His bed at night. He was leaning against a few small pillows propped against the wall. Before He looked up to note the writer’s arrival He continued to go through His mail, looking at each letter, still unopened and in its envelope, until a thought formed in His head, then He put it on top of the stack of letters on the couch to the left of Him before reaching to take another letter from the stack on the couch to the right of Him. After a minute or two He looked up and smiled at the writer.

“Come in,” He said. “Come in.”

The writer stepped into the room and bowed slightly, both palms together on his chest just under his chin.

“So,” Baba said. He paused to look directly into the writer’s eyes. “So, you have seen enough.”

“Too much; I don’t understand anything I’ve seen.”

Baba laughed. “Appearance is not different from emptiness,” “Yet within emptiness there is no appearance”, said Baba.

The writer felt he should smile or nod or indicate in some way that he understood what Baba had said, but he did not understand and he resisted the temptation to pretend that he did. Baba nodded. “Life is only the memory of a dream,” He said. “It comes from no visible rain. It falls into no recognizable sea. Someday, not for a while yet, you will understand how meaningless it is to spend your whole life trying to accumulate material things. I have no land, no property of My own where I can grow My own food. Everything is registered in the name of someone else, but just as those people in the village who have no land wait until the pond dries up so they can scratch the land with a plow and quickly grow something before the pond fills up again, I grow My food which is joy or love. To you the words have different meanings, but to Me both words are the same. But I have to do it quickly, quickly in the hearts of those who come to see Me, quickly before they leave.”

He looked up again into the writer’s eyes. “The kind of belief in Me I ask of people is more, much more than most people think is faith or love,” Baba said.

“That’s why many people who come just to see the miracles stop loving Me the minute I stop entertaining them and giving them presents. No. What I ask you to do is give Me everything. Not fruits or flowers or money or land, but you, all of you with nothing held back. Your mind, your heart, your soul… “He stopped and paused, then nodded to Himself. “But those are just words.” They were silent for a time.

The writer stood behind the couch and waited. There was nothing he could say. A kind of warmth and closeness he had never known before was spreading through his consciousness and it frightened him. He felt in danger of being smothered by it, but it wasn’t just the intensity of the feeling that disturbed him. It was the sudden realization that this feeling of love—he thought it was love—was different from any other kind of love he had felt or heard about or read of before. It may have been this inability to define what he felt that caused him suddenly to panic. In less than a minute he had become a displaced person, emotionally, isolated in the dark unknown, and to cope with this puzzling anxiety the only defense he could find was to turn it off.

Baba watched him for a time with intensity. “You cannot run away from me,” Baba said. “As I told you, no one can come to Puttaparthi, however accidental it might seem, without My calling him. I bring only those people here who are ready to see Me, and nobody else, nobody, can find his way here. When I say ‘ready’ there are different levels of readiness, you understand.”

Baba laughed. “You wonder why I called you here instead of millions of other people because you don’t like the way you feel for me. Isn’t it? And it makes you worry why I called you.”

The writer laughed, his tension broken, and Baba laughed with him. “It worries me,” the writer said. “When you ask me to give myself to You completely; I can’t do that. I spent too long getting control of my life to just blindly become somebody’s slave, even if you’re God, or not God, just a man with superhuman powers of yoga. I don’t trust anybody that much.”

“Do you trust yourself?” Baba asked.

The writer smiled, “Not much.”

“I know your past and I know your future so I know why you suffer and how you can escape suffering and when you finally will.”

“When I die?” The writer was being half-facetious.

“Yes, I know,” Baba said. “In all your past lives too, you were always afraid of death.”

“I’m not afraid of death.”

“That’s all you are afraid of,” Baba said. “You think death is something bad, but death is neither bad nor good. Death is death.”

“What purpose does it serve?”

“Why does a person die?” Baba took a moment to reflect. He looked at His finger.

“So he won’t die again. He is born so he won’t be born again.”

“I don’t understand,” the writer said.

“Life is only relatively real,” Baba said. “Until death it only appears to be real. And, after all, the only part that dies is the body, not the person who lives in the body. When a cat or a dog dies he leaves the world the same as before he lived in it, but a man should leave the world a better place then when he came into it. For no other reason was he born, for no other reason does he die.”

“Are you God?” The writer heard himself say. He had not planned to go into that subject at all.

“Why do you waste your time and energy trying to explain Me?” Baba said, with a trace of irritation. “Can a fish measure the sky? If I had come as Narayana with four arms they would have put Me in a circus, charging money for people to see Me. If I had come only as a man, like every other man, who would listen to Me? So I had to come in this human form, but with no more than human powers and…wisdom.”

“Then you are God. Is that what you are saying?”

“First you have to understand yourself. I told you that. And then you will understand Me. I’m not a man; I’m not a woman; I’m not old; I’m not young; I’m all of these.”

The writer laughed, without quite knowing why. He was embarrassed for having asked the question and unnerved by the answer. Here was a human being, or what looked like one, curled up on a studio couch, His legs tucked beneath Him like a teen-age girl, and there was nothing the writer could think of that would allow him to accept the idea that this person with the Afro-hairdo and the orange dress could actually, literally, be God.

“Some people think it’s a beautiful thing,” Baba said, “for the Lord to be on the earth in human form, but if you were in My place you would not feel it’s so beautiful. I know everything that happened to everybody in the past, present, and future, so I’m not so quick to give people the mercy they beg Me for. I know why a person has to suffer in this life and what will happen to him the next time he is born because of that suffering this time, so I can’t act the way people want Me to. They call Me cold-hearted one time, soft-hearted the next. Why don’t I do this? Why don’t I do that? Why don’t I stop all wars forever and get rid of all disease and suffering? What they don’t know is I’m not responsible for suffering. I don’t cause suffering any more than I cause happiness and joy. People make their own palaces and their own chains and their own prisons.”

“Can I write about that in my book?” the writer asked.

“What do you know about Me?” Baba asked. “Do you believe in Me the way I said you had to believe in Me?”

“Not yet.”

“Then how can you write about Me? You’re like a child. When I give you what you want or make you laugh, you love Me, but the next minute when I’m too busy and can’t see you the minute you want Me to, you want to ‘kill’ Me. Isn’t it? You listen to Me with respect, but then in private you laugh at Me. What kind of book can you possibly write about Me?”

“That kind of book. Exactly.”

“For what purpose? Publicity? I don’t need publicity.

“What are you telling me? I can’t write the book?”

Baba laughed. “Write it. Write your book. That’s your duty, dharma. But write the truth. Only what you saw here. Only the truth. How you laughed at Me, hated Me, that’s part of it; and if you want to, how you loved Me, the few times you let yourself love Me.”

Baba took both of His hands and rubbed them as hard as He could on the writer’s chest, massaging it vigorously as if to stimulate the writer’s spiritual circulation.

“I’m always with you,” Baba said. “Even when you don’t believe in Me, even when you try to forget Me; Even when you laugh at Me or hate Me; Even when I seem to be on the opposite side of the earth. But you need material things to remind you, isn’t it?”

He pushed up His sleeves and rotated His open palm as He closed His fingers. When He opened them He was holding a gold ring with His picture painted on a porcelain in the center, surrounded by sixteen stones which seemed to be diamonds. He put the ring on the writer’s finger. It fits perfectly. The writer laughed. “How can I ever get this through customs?”

“Don’t worry,” Baba said. “I’ll take care of it.”

He touched the ring with His fingertips.

“I am in you,” Baba said, “You are in Me. Don’t forget that. We cannot be separated.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II