Gerald Joe Moreno’s Journey To Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
My experiences with Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai have been a source of great Joy and Gratitude in my life.
During my teen years, I was searching very intensely for God. Everything seemed “empty” to me and I felt that the only way I would every experience being whole or complete, was if I could find God or Truth.
I studied just about everything I could find on Spirituality. I was raised in the Church and was baptized a Baptist. I never felt any sort of heart-bond with Christianity. The guilt and fear tactics employed by Baptists, in particular, left me all the more disconcerted with organized religion.
On my 18th birthday, as I was walking around a lake near my house, a very crystal-clear sense of direction descended upon me. I felt that I needed to go to India! The thought had never occured up until that time and although I was apprehensive, I felt very deeply that it was something I needed to do.
I took a summer job and saved all of my money so I could afford the trip. My family thought I was crazy. This determination that blossomed inside of me was unshakable. I ignored all of the criticism and endured it silently. I just knew I was going to India. I had no idea what I was going to do once I got there. I was doing what my heart told me I needed to do. There was no reason or logic behind it.
A couple of months before my scheduled trip, I met a man named Robert who had been to India. He told me what to expect in regards to Indian culture and local customs. Robert also told me about incredible experiences he had with an Indian saint named Sathya Sai Baba. I was really impressed until he showed me pictures of Baba. Robert was with Baba 30 years ago, and all of his pictures of Baba were in black and white, except for a few that had been hand colored and really didn’t look like Baba at all. Baba has a distinctive afro and wears a long, orange robe and his appearance did not fit my idea of what a “saint” should look like! ((laughs)) I just dismissed the entire thing and did not feel very drawn to Baba at all.
About a month before I departed on my journey to India, I had an experience that jolted me into the reality of miracles. Little did I know that I would soon be experiencing miracles often, as I had no idea that such things could ever happen to an ordinary person like myself. The experience I had occured in the early morning around 2:30a.m. I awoke and could not go back to sleep. I still remember looking across my dimly lit bedroom to the green glow of my digital clock and thinking to myself how much I disliked insomnia. As I was lying down, looking across the room and mumbling to myself about my sad state of sleeplessness, all of a sudden, I heard a sound that could only be best described as the gentle fluttering of hundreds of birds wings while flying overhead. As soon as I heard the sound, in a swirl, from the ground up, Sathya Sai Baba physically manifested before me! I was SO shocked and scared, I could not move or scream! Baba was in my room! I could discern his afro, flowing robe and he stared at me intensely, without saying a word, for about 20 seconds. Then, I heard the same sound of gentle fluttering of birds wings and Baba disappeared, in a swirl, from his head down to his feet!
When Baba disappeared, I jumped out of bed and turned on the lights and kept telling myself that I did not see what I just saw! I was so startled by the experience, I could not sleep at all that night! It HAD to be a dream. Too afraid to tell anyone about this extraordinary experience, I kept it to myself and dismissed it as a midnight reverie.
So, about a month after this experience, I departed to India. I was surrounded by many hugs and kisses from family members who obviously felt that I would not survive the trip! I prayed to God to guide me and help me find a Spiritual Master, or something, to rid myself of the emptiness in my life. Calcutta was the city I was going to. The year was 1988.
As the plane approached the ((real name)) Dum-Dum Airport, I could smell the pollution and feel the humidity of Calcutta. Calcutta has a population of 10 million people in 20 square miles! The plane landed and I immediately became aware that I was in a third world country. The airport terminal was not really a terminal at all. It was a simple brick and concrete building. That was it! There were poor people living in and around the airport. It was very hot and humid. I gathered my luggage and stood in line to convert some currency into rupees.
As I was standing in line, I realized I had no idea where I was going to go! No idea whatsoever! So, I began praying again to God for guidance. As I was waiting in line to convert my money, I happened to look to my side and noticed an old man staring directly at me. This old man was wearing an old, bluish cloth wound around his head and was wearing an old, robe-like garment of the same color. He was sitting down by himself and had his legs crossed, with his right ankle resting on his left knee. He had a white beard and moustache and his eyes were deep brown and his stare literally permeated my body. The power, clarity and love in this mans stare, completely overwhelmed me and I could feel tears rolling down my cheeks! All of this happening in the middle of the Dum-Dum Airport! Whoever this man is, I thought, must be a Spiritual Master. When I composed myself, I looked back at him and this man was standing up and looking to one side. He had a majestic quality to him. The line moved forward one person, and when I turned my glance from him, for a second to move forward, and I looked back at him again, he was gone. Nowhere to be seen. It seemed like he just disappeared! I felt disappointed, but there was nothing I could do.
I got my money converted and got onto a bus to take me into town. I had no idea what I was going to do or where I was going to go. I got off at a place in Calcutta that looked a little more modern than the other places we had passed. Looking around at all the poverty and feeling unusually lost, I thought to myself, “Welcome to India, Joe!” No sooner did I think this thought, when a big crow pooped on my head! ((laughs)) [I found out later that there is a Indian myth that if a crow poops on you, it is considered good luck!]
Well, to sum up the next 8 grueling hours, I had two poor people who followed me everywhere I went, asking for money. I traversed several miles of the city on foot and ended up where I began! Everything got to me. The heat. The humidity. The smell. The poverty. The two poor people who would not stop following me. I was tired. Irritable. And I finally broke down sobbing in a post office, while trying to get some help on hotels. Everyone stared at me like I was a nut and they kept asking me why I had come to India. Of course, I did not know what to say! Finally, I ended up at a house, where complete strangers took me in for the night. It was almost 11p.m. A very nice, married couple, Barin and Pratima, welcomed me as parents would their child. Their son took me to a room and I noticed that they had a picture of Sathya Sai Baba on their wall! Quite a coincidence.
I cried all night. I felt like I made a huge mistake in coming to India. Everyone was right, I wasted all of my money and time coming to India and it was just a total failure. I could not take it anymore. I decided that the next day, I would get my return flight back to my country. I was terribly distraught and disappointed. I cried and cried and finally got a couple hours of sleep around 4a.m. When I fell asleep, Sathya Sai Baba came to me in dream! There was a large map of India behind Baba and Baba told me to come and see him! He pointed to a place, on the map, in South India, and the dream ended.
I awoke immediately and pondered the dream. When Barin and Pratima came to check on me, I told them that Baba had come to me in a dream, told me to come see him and even pointed to a place on a map of India. Barin and Pratima were very surprised and they told me that nobody dreams of Baba unless he wills it. They brought me a map of India and asked me where Baba had pointed to. I pointed to the place where Baba had shown me, and their mouths dropped open as they explained that the EXACT place where I had pointed to, was Puttaparthi, the very village where Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram is at!
I decided I had nothing to lose and decided to see Baba. Baba had come to me in another dream and told me that I would be able to see him on September 15th. Baba told me this before I bought my train ticket. I doubted this because the 15th was almost 2 weeks away and I didn’t want to wait so long. When Barin and Pratima’s son helped me to purchase the train ticket, he found out that there was a railroad strike scheduled for the coming week, and since we could not get an earlier ticket, we had to get a later one. The train was to leave near midnight on the 11th and I was to arrive in Bangalore on the morning of the 14th. I thought to myself that it was still amazing that Baba would tell me this, even though he was off by one day.
In the meantime, Barin and Pratima took very good care of me. I had an upset stomach and Pratima gave me some blessed vibuthi (ash) from Baba’s Ashram. She told me to eat it. I had never eaten ash before! I felt quite embarrassed at the thought, but ate some anyway. No sooner did the ash touch my tongue when my stomach pain literally disappeared! An instantaneous healing! I was delighted and shocked at the same time.
Barin and Pratima also told me of vibuthi (ash)and amrita (nectar) manifesting from Baba’s pictures. Pratima took me to their puja room and she had amrita manifesting from one of her pictures of Baba! She said a silent prayer to Baba, and no sooner did she finish her prayer when amrita started flowing from her picture! Pratima told me that she had prayed to Baba to protect me on my journey to see him and that Baba had acknowledged her prayer by making the amrita flow more profusely! I was awed.
Well, the 11th finally came and I was off to see Baba. The train ride was long, but pleasing. We passed through many rural villages, vast green paddy fields, large lakes filled with lotuses, vast sprawling tundra fields and over large, sacred rivers. Finally, on the 14th, I made it to Bangalore. I thought it would be wonderful to see Baba on that day. What I did not know was that I had to wait for the next bus, which didn’t leave until 5p.m. and that the bus ride was going to be 6 hours! I arrived at Puttaparthi at 11p.m. and slept in a hall in Baba’s ashram, Prashanti Nilayam (Abode of Supreme Peace). I would have to wait until the next day, the 15th, to see Baba. Just as he had told me in my dream, almost two weeks earlier! The next morning, I sat in line and took my seat among the beautiful, sandy grounds that surrounded the main temple in which Baba lived. When Baba came out, I was completely overcome by his beauty. He looked exactly as he did in my dreams. He moved like a lion, yet seemed to float over the sand. His walk was majestic, yet fluid. When I first saw him, I felt a deep sense of relief in my heart. I sighed and said in my mind, “Oh Baba!”. No sooner did I say this, in my mind, Baba literally snapped his head and looked directly at me! He held his hand up in the air. I thought he was waving to me, but later found out it was a sign of his blessing. How could he hear my thoughts? I was shocked. Later on the same day, I got to go inside the temple for Bhajan (Devotional Singing). As I entered the temple, I realized that I had seen it before in a dream! Exactly! Not only that, but there was a statue and picture of Shirdi Sai Baba. I did not know his name yet, however, I recognized him immediately as being the man who I had seen at the airport who stared at me with such intensity! He had the same cloth wound around his head, the same type of garments, the same white beard and moustache and even the same sitting style; with his legs crossed and his right ankle resting on his left knee! Then, Baba came into the main hall for Bhajan. As soon as Baba came in, he looked directly at me. Baba sat in his chair and stared at me non-stop for 10 minutes. I did not know why he was staring at me for so long. I felt quite uncomfortable. Bhajan ended and Baba left.
There are two Darshan times. One is in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. In the afternoon, as I was waiting for Baba to come out, a man sitting next to me suddenly said, very loudly and without any shame, “Of all the thousands of people here, Baba has inspired me to give YOU these books.” The man handed me two books and he did not say another word to me. One book was a small book that described some miracles Baba had done. The other book had a picture of Shirdi Sai Baba on one side and a picture of Sathya Sai Baba on the other side. The title was, “Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai are one and the same.” In that book, it described how Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai would both appear to people all around the world. I found out then, that Shirdi Sai had left his body in 1918. And I realized the oneness of Shirdi and Sathya in that moment. All along, Baba had a plan that unfolded, unknown to me, exactly as he had willed. A seamless plan that left me and still leaves me in awe.
Above is a picture of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. This is exactly as he appeared to me at the Dum-Dum Airport, Calcutta, in 1988.
By Gerald Joe Moreno
The following images are full and original screencaps taken from Gerald Joe Moreno’s www0db0www Geocities website. Geocities Closed On October 26th 2009. These screencaps have “bubbled” watermarks on them to prevent more fraudulent screencaps from being created and dispersed by Ex-Devotees of Sathya Sai Baba. Contrary to Ex-Devotee’s unsupported claims, Moreno’s Geocities webpages were never duplicated on his vishvarupa.com domain. On October 21st 2009, Moreno personally contacted archive.org and requested a block to his Geocities webpages as an extra measure to prevent abuse:
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