A talk given by Dr. John Hislop to devotees in New Zealand in 1993. His description of the cross materialized for him by Swami is most inspiring.
I am very happy to be here in this beautiful country of yours, New Zealand, and especially happy to be here with Sai devotees.
The Only Reality
I would like to explain to you that although we say about Sai that He is here with us, the fact is—He is here. To illustrate, we are all sitting here in this room, separate from one another. To a stranger coming into the room, it would seem that this is a room full of individuals, each one unique and separate from the other. The fact is that Swami is the only reality that exists. He is the only reality. Everything else is maya, it is not truly real; it is transient and it does not last.
The only reality is Swami; and in every person here, Swami is the only reality. Therefore, when we look at each other, we should realize that we are looking directly at the Lord, directly at Swami. We should look right through the transient personality, pay no attention to the beauty or lack of beauty in the person, pay no attention to the personality—whether it is pleasant or obnoxious. We simply look right through that person and see that God is the only reality in that person.
Therefore, we can, when we look at another person, quietly to ourselves, secretly—because it is a secret between God and ourselves—we can say, “Dearest Lord, I love You.” Immediately, there will be a flash of happiness across your heart. The person you are talking to should not know. That is a secret between you and the Lord. You continue treating the person according to his actions and his status. If it is a taxicab driver, do not invite him into the house and bring out your checkbook, sign it and tell him to fill in the amount. You treat him as a taxicab driver. He does not know.
The Story of the Crucifix
I must tell you one more story and that is the story of the crucifix—the crucifix that Swami created. Some folks here in New Zealand telephoned me in California and asked me if I would please bring the crucifix. I had rarely taken the crucifix anyplace before. I said, “All right. For New Zealand, I will bring the crucifix.” So, it is there on the altar and after the meeting, if you would like to come up and look at it, you are quite welcome to do so.
The Story of the Lingam
Now, the story of the crucifix. For many years, Swami brought a lingam1 up from His stomach during Mahashivarathri2. In Prasanthi Nilayam, He would sit on the platform and the audience would be out in front of Him and they would start to sing bhajans. After a while, Swami would look uneasy, He would move and look as if He was suffering a bit. When that started, the bhajans would start to go faster and faster, until finally Swami would put His hand near His face, and out of His mouth would come a flash of light and a great big lingam.
I was sitting close to Him one time and I saw it, and what landed in His hand was a lingam sitting on a stand with three legs. How that came up out of Swami’s throat and out of His mouth, I cannot imagine. What I saw was a flash of light, and then I saw the object in His hand. So, I do not know if the flash of light comes out first and then coalesces into the object. As far as I know, Swami has never said.
Every time He produced the lingam, it would be a different lingam. Sometimes the lingam would have a flame inside of it. You could see the flame inside the lingam. The lingam would be passed around and looked at by the devotees. Sometimes Swami gives lingams to some of His devotees. I believe here in Auckland, some people have received lingams from Swami.
Swami finally stopped doing the Sivarathri lingam ceremony. So, the next year, at the time of Mahashivarathri, He said to me, “Hislop, have a taxi ready at five o’clock in the morning and tell no one because we are going to go on an expedition.” We were going up to the Bandipur Forest in Mysore State.
We were there to do the lingam ceremony out of the sight of the general public. We drove around the forest, and Swami was looking for a good place to have the ceremony. We passed over a wooden bridge and there was a dry riverbed underneath and Swami said, “This will do.”
We came back a couple of hours later and prepared for the ceremony. We were walking toward the edge of the riverbank when Swami reached over and pulled two little twigs off a tree and He crossed them on the palm of his hand and said, “What’s that, Hislop?” So, I said, “Well, it’s a cross, Swami.” Then He put the two little twigs in His hands and blew for quite a few seconds. When He opened His hands, there was the crucifix— this extraordinary, gorgeous sculpture of Christ on the cross. I think it must be the greatest sculpture of the figure in the history of the world. It is simply outstanding.
I did not know what to say. There was a hole near the top of the cross and so I said, “Swami, what is that hole there for?” He said, “Contrary to popular belief, the cross was not put into the ground, it was hung on a peg on a standard.” I said then, “Swami, what are all these broken places on the body?” These were especially evident after the first photographs were taken. Swami explained that not one inch of Christ’s body was left uninjured. Every square inch had been beaten and bruised, with blood coagulating under the skin. The blood coagulated and made a series of little bumps all over the body. So that is the story of the crucifix.
The Power of the Crucifix
It is a very powerful thing, that crucifix. I do not know if you remember Mrs. Cowan, she had the first Sai Bookstore in America. She wanted to have pictures of the crucifix for sale in the Sai Bookstore, so we asked Swami if it would be all right and He said, yes, that could be done. So, she sent a commercial photographer to take the photographs; and about a week later he came to my home with the prints.
The photographer, my wife and I, were sitting at the table, studying these gorgeous prints of the crucifix. At the time, we were living in Mexico where we had a big house with long French windows facing the ocean. Typically, in Baja, California, the sky is very, very clear. This was a typical Baja, California day with not a cloud in the sky. As we sat looking at the photographs and studying the crucifix itself, suddenly, we heard a tremendous peal of thunder. We looked out the window at what, just a moment before, had been a perfectly clear sky to see a black cloud with flashes of lightning coming from it. Then a terrific wind arose and banged all the doors in the house and blew all the curtains aside. We were stunned. We wondered what was happening here.
Then my wife remembered. She said, “It tells about it in the Bible.” So, she went and got the Bible and found the passage where it describes what happened at the death of Christ. High winds came and wrecked the curtains of the temple, and so on.
Swami Corroborates the Story
Dr. Fanibunda wanted to know about the crucifix. You know of Dr. Fanibunda who wrote Vision of the Divine; you are familiar with that. He is a dentist in Bombay. He wanted an account for his book. So, I wrote down the account of exactly what had happened and sent it to him. He had it sitting beside his typewriter when Swami came to Bombay.
When Swami comes to Bombay, He usually stops at Fanibunda’s house because Fanibunda is an old-time devotee. Baba stopped there, and beside the typewriter He saw my paper sitting there. Fanibunda asked, “Swami, is that right?” Swami looked at it and said, “Yes, what Hislop says is correct. That was a recapitulation of the death of Christ.”
Miracle in El Salvador
Devotees wanted me to go to El Salvador to talk at the Center there. So, to honor their wish, I took the crucifix with me. The head of the organization there is a chap who runs an American corporation in El Salvador. All the devotees were there, the crucifix was on the table, and they were looking at it. It was a nice bright day, and suddenly, it started to rain and thunder and winds came and blew the windows of his house open and banged all the doors in his house, too.
The Earth Shakes
When we were back in Baja, some chap up in Northern California sent a telegram saying that he would like to stop by the house and see the crucifix, and we agreed. He came and was sitting looking at it—and we were looking at it with him—when the whole house started to shake as in an earthquake. I thought it was an earthquake. After it was over and the man had gone, I went to our neighbor and said, “That was quite an earthquake, did you have any damage?” and she said, “What quake, what quake are you talking about? There was no earthquake.”
So that crucifix is a tremendously powerful symbol of the Lord. It is here, and you are welcome to look at it after the meeting.
How to Merge with God
It is my duty and my pleasure too, when I talk to Sai devotees, to tell them what Sai says as to how every devotee can realize his dearest dream—that dream being: to unite with God, to merge with God, and to realize his own true nature. What I think you might need to hear may be quite different from what you believe you would like to hear. Therefore, I will tell you what Swami has said, for a while, and then I will ask you to tell me what you would like to know.
Since I have been with Swami for many years, I have heard many talks and had many conversations with Him, I can remember what He has said to just about any question that you might ask. When I answer your question, you can be sure it will be what Swami has said about that question or a very similar question.
The Goal of Spiritual Life
Why are we here—not at home watching television or a movie or something like that? It is because we have an interest in spiritual life. Most people do not have an interest in spiritual life. Swami said that if you take an ordinary worldly person and sit him down quietly and explain to him in the clearest possible language what spiritual life is, what the goal of spiritual life is, and how one proceeds to lead a spiritual life, that person would not have the slightest interest in what you are saying. No interest whatsoever.
That is why Swami tells us, “Do not talk about Me to anybody who is not already My devotee.”
You might reply, “I am supposed to help people. I help people by telling them about Swami.” Not true. You help people, you help everybody—all of humanity—by achieving liberation yourself. The first goal of devotees should be to achieve liberation, to find out—“who am I?”
Dr. John S. Hislop
Mt. Eden Center, New Zealand
October 21, 1993
About the Author:
Dr. John Hislop was a long-time devotee of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who lived in California, USA. He started his spiritual journey at age 16 and came to Swami in 1968. He was a noble instrument of Bhagawan Baba, who worked tirelessly in the divine mission. He is the author of many books about Swami. In 1975, Swami appointed him as the founding President of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Council of the USA. He also served as the President of the Sathya Sai Society of America.
First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 1, Iss. 5
1 Lingam: An ellipsoid-shaped stone worshiped as the symbol of creation.
2 Mahashivarathri: A Hindu festival. Literally, “the night of Shiva.”