I would like to share a story with you that is not real, that never happened,
and that had no effect on truth. It did however serve me deeply as a wake-up
call, as a classroom for discerning that which is real and eternal from
that which is unreal and has no power over me. It revealed to me the truth
of who I really am.
Fourteen years ago, I had a most intense experience, first incredibly
brutal, and now seen as a true spiritual turning point. Up to that moment
I had been Sai Baba's ardent devotee living a simple life as a Montessori
teacher, residing by myself, spending 6 months out of every year in India
with Baba. Life was beautiful.Then one night everything changed. It was
Mahashivaratri in India, the holiest day of the year. I was staying in
a Sai Baba center in California. We were scheduled to celebrate with an
all-night bhajan the following evening. I was fast asleep in a room adjoining
the bhajan hall. It was 3:00 am. It could not have been a more auspicious
time or setting.
Suddenly I am jolted into awakening by a threatening voice ordering, "Scream
and I'll kill you." I feel a knife at my throat, and see a massive
menacing figure looming over me. Still groggy I instinctively scream,
and to shut me up he pummels me in the face with his fist. I am drenched
in blood. He gags me and ties me up and rips my bedclothes off me. In
total terror I cry out to Baba to come and save me. Somehow, in my heart
of hearts I fully expect Baba to physically appear and dispel this horrendous
nightmare that has suddenly overtaken me. Baba did not come. And yet he
did. Even while I was being raped, within me all fear and horror of the
situation had left. Quite inexplicably I became very calm and to my astonishment
discovered an incredible compassion welling up in my heart.
As he was leaving, I managed a muffled, "God bless you." He
hissed back, "God hates me!" and disappeared into the night.
I struggled to untie myself and went to get help. The police were called
and the man was caught. He had a long criminal history; he had been in
and out of jail. And yet, this time something had changed for him. From
his jail cell he made a considerable effort to get a message to me. And
that message was, "I feel bad about what I did. I'm real sorry I
hurt you. Please pray for me." So, even in that horrible scene God
was present and even the rapist was affected. To my surprise, I could
muster no anger toward the man. I found myself focusing not on my personal
trauma but on the tragedy of the human condition that could lead to such
a desperate state.
Although my body was badly beaten and bruised I remember absolutely no
pain. Yet, it was not like I wasn't traumatized or bewildered. I remember
walking outside in the night and feeling afraid that somebody might be
lurking behind a bush. When anyone entered my room I was startled and
jittery, feelings that were completely uncharacteristic for me. In my
being I felt tainted and my familiar sense of security, knowing that I
was always in the protective hands of the divine, had been badly shaken.
My confusion centered entirely on Sai Baba. In my mind, Baba, in whom
I had put complete trust and whom I regarded as my savior, had not helped
me, though I had desperately called out to him. Why hadn't he? I kept
praying to Baba, imploring him, "Why did you let this happen to me?
Please help me to understand." As I was praying thus, I distinctly
heard Sai Baba's voice gently asking, "What happened to you?"
"I was raped, brutalized, robbed, and my very life was threatened"
came my response, "and I called out to you, but you did not come!"
Again Baba asked, ever so tenderly, "What happened to you?"
Suddenly, I understood. Nothing had happened to me. I remembered one of
my favorite passages in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna taught Arjuna,
"You are not this perishable body. You cannot be destroyed by weapons,
you cannot be incinerated by fire, you cannot be drowned by water, you
cannot be blown away by the raging tempest. You are the indestructible,
eternal Atma, the one Self." Suddenly this mystical pronouncement
of Lord Krishna was no longer a conceptual thought but a direct experience
for me. My bewilderment, my fears and feelings of abandonment all dissolved
in the light of that incredible realization.
Far from failing me and abandoning me, Baba revealed to me the truth
of who I am, the immortal Self, and there is nothing in the whole universe
that can ever threaten me. I knew myself to be invulnerable, indestructible,
eternal. I exploded in joy and exhilaration. What a surprising outcome
for such an intense and fearful happening! It turned out to be the quantum
leap into the discovery of who I truly am. I am so very grateful. Thank