Two Sai Stars

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Two Sai Stars

There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will –
Shakespeare

I agree with the Bard on this and moreover feel that there is a time when the shaping divine force strikes the note that starts something of importance.

I had met Dr Ron Farmer and his wife Swanny some ten years earlier but the time was not right for our special spiritual brotherhood to begin. Now, in June 1998 the time was right. We were the only three guests for dinner at a friend’s place in Queensland and so had the opportunity for a long talk together. At the end of the talk I felt that I must see them again and hopefully see them often. They must have felt somewhat the same because it was not long before they paid me a visit at my house in Oyster Cove.

Ron and Swanny invited me to spend the following weekend with them at their home about half an hour’s car drive away at a place called Willow Vale. It was to be the first of many delightful weekends spent in the fresh invigorating air and spiritual peace of their residence. We approached it through rolling green hills and found their long one-storey beautiful house on the top of one such grassy hill. There seemed to be no other house nearby, just the open countryside with, in one direction, a view of a mountain range that was part of The Great Dividing Range. It reminded me of my country upbringing in Tasmania where neighbours’ houses were out of sight behind trees on distant farms, with, in one direction, the glorious blue wall of the Western Tiers. Yet I very soon found that the aloneness spelt by my first view of the Farmer residence was certainly not loneliness, in fact, two unseen houses were not very far away. One was on the other side of a high white lattice wall with tall palm trees supporting it while the other hidden house was down the hill hiding behind an edge of the hill and hedges helped by clumps of trees. The house beyond the lattice wall was occupied by two ladies and two other four-legged beings, generally known as a dog and a cat.

We did not see much of the two ladies but quite a lot of the four-legged entities, especially the one known as a dog. He was a glossy, completely black labrador named Yang. It was an appropriate name as he seemed the personification of all things gently male. I felt that he showed good taste too, in choosing Ron as his master and friend. I think he went home only for meals and spent the rest of the day with Ron. Their day together would begin early, with Ron finding him waiting on the mat by his front door. Then their mutual demonstration of affection would begin, with pats, strokes and tail wags interspersed with conversation in which both would join, Yang talking in his own version of human language which he fondly hoped his beloved master would understand. Ron told me that if he and Swanny got in the car to drive away, Yang would turn his back on them and look the other way as if he could not bear to see this terrible event. For most of the day where you saw Ron you would also see Yang. I too, loved this near-human animal from the moment I gave my first pat to his shining black side.

I once happened to go to the house beyond the lattice when the lady Diana was feeding her treasured Yang. To me she made the remark “Yang is a soul-dog you know.” I agreed whole-heartedly but thought to myself, “But surely all domesticated dogs have souls,” and so, too, do many cats including the one I first saw sitting aloofly on the grass of Ron’s lawn.

My heart gave a jump when I caught sight of her, she was that ‘Thing of beauty that is a joy forever,’ as poet Keats remarked. I spoke to her from a distance, she turned her head and gave me one disdainful glance from her shining blue eyes then turned her head away. Suddenly I remembered the cat-enticing technique that my wife Iris, a great cat-lover, had taught me long ago. I tried it on Yin and within about five minutes of this cat-magic, she walked slowly across the grass towards me and sat at my feet. I was able to stroke her beautifully marked head and her plush back of an indescribable off-white colour. Before my weekend at Willow Vale came to an end, Yin was rolling over on her back inviting me to scratch her tummy. She was no longer aloof with Ron and Swanny and at a later time would sometimes follow Ron around like Yang and another labrador dog that joined the family.

Unlike the glossy black Yang this one was rusty in colour and so had earned the name Rusty. He lived in the other hidden house at the foot of Ron’s grassy hill. His owner was another Sai devotee called Kevin Dillon. Kevin Dillon, however, was frequently away on his property further north in Queensland and so Rusty began to attach himself for much of the time with Ron. The latter told me that Rusty was uniquely useful in one way. He had a keen eye for the venomous reptiles that were often found in the long grass among some trees at the lower end of Ron’s property. When Ron began to mow his grass, Rusty would come through a gap in the hedge and keep a close watch on the mowing operation. He would sight a snake hiding in the grass just before Ron, pushing his mower came to the spot where he was in danger of being bitten by the snake. Rusty would seize it in his teeth at a spot where it could not bite him and shake it to and fro until it was dead. I have seen the kookaburras fly to the branch of a tree with a snake in the beak and shake it vigorously in the same manner, killing it before they made a meal of it. Rusty’s only purpose in killing a snake however, seemed to be the protection of his friend, Ron.

Some weeks later when I came for another heavenly weekend at Willow Vale, something tragic had happened to our beloved friend, Rusty. Somebody driving a car on the Dillon property, fortunately not too fast, had failed to see Rusty and with a front wheel had hit the dog’s hindquarters. The result was that Rusty walked with a bad limp and sometimes would collapse and sink to the ground. Ron took me down to the foot of the hill to see the injured dog. We called his name and he came limping through a gap in the hedge wagging his tail and seeming to smile welcome with his eyes. I suddenly felt a great sympathy for this suffering friend and had the idea of putting my hand on the injured back near towards the tail, Ron did the same, both of us hoping that we had enough healing in our hands to help his injury get better. The dog seemed to enjoy it and stood quite still. After this period of healing, his limp seemed to be better and his hindquarters did not suddenly collapse on the ground as he tried to limp along. For the rest of the weekend, Rusty came out towards us for his healing session whenever we came near to the Dillon house and there was a definite improvement in his injury, by the time my weekend was up. Ron told me later that he continued the healing practice on his own and eventually Rusty had no limp at all. After that he spent much more of his time with Ron and Swanny, even accompanying them on walks. Yang, who had previously seemed to enjoy Rusty’s company, showed signs of jealousy. Ron played the part of the spiritual father to him and gave him a ‘human values’ lecture against the negative emotion of jealousy. Yang seemed as if he understood or perhaps it was just the tone in Ron’s voice, in any case, he would hang his head in shame.

After my return to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, I received by phone, regular bulletins about the adventures of the four-legged Farmer family, Yang and Yin and Rusty. Things seemed to be going harmoniously among them and I feel that through the love and understanding of Ron and Swanny Farmer, some, if not all of the three, will be elevated to a human incarnation at the next birth or soon after. I am tempted to go on writing about these beloved entities but feel I have said enough to show the part they play in the lives of my two star friends, so I will now tell something of the background of each of them and show how they became involved in John Fitzgerald‘s work for God.

First then, some interesting biographical facts about Dr Ron Farmer. He was born in the state of Queensland and remained at school there until the age of sixteen. Then he travelled to Melbourne and joined the Royal Air Force. This was about in the year 1954 and his main ambition in joining the Air Force was to learn all he could about radio electronics. After about three years of this he found it no longer of interest so left the Air Force and worked for a number of different companies that served the Air Force. One of these was the Aeronautical Research Laboratory at Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne. Here he found himself serving with the War Games Department where part of his duties was to interview helicopter pilots. This work took him to Sydney where he was asked to study psychology to help in his interviewing of helicopter pilots. This study of psychology at the New South Wales University was the break in his life that might be termed ‘lucky’ but I prefer to call it ‘the finger of God’ placing him where he was meant to be. He loved psychology so much that after two years, sponsored by the War Games Department, he felt a strong urge to continue and did so at the University of Queensland, where for a time he was given some financial help but eventually won a scholarship which carried him through to his Ph.D in Psychology.

Not long afterwards he was back at the University of NSW as a lecturer to graduates in Psychology on the subject which he calls Behavioural Therapy. This had previously been considered a very complicated branch of Clinical Psychology but Dr Farmer had the gift of making it seem quite simple and interesting. The result was that he found himself giving talks on the radio and being interviewed by the press on this fascinating subject. His name thus became well-known to the public and he found people coming to him for help in their mental and psychological problems. In this way he found himself building up a clinic and dealing with patients from the members of the public, in addition to his university work. He thus found himself going through a period of very high pressure work which led eventually to a nervous breakdown. Employing some of the therapy that he had used for his patients for his own treatment, he turned the nervous breakdown into what he called a ‘nervous breakthrough’. When he had fully recovered, he wrote a good lecture on this method of treating a nervous breakdown, which I have heard on an audio cassette. It is probably available to anyone who needs it.

A very important part of Ron’s breakthrough was his spiritual awakening. Although he went on lecturing at the university for a time, he found this work and the other limitations in the academic life a handicap to his now fascinating development of the spiritual dimension which was showing its face more and more in the world around him. So that, after six years altogether of university lecturing, he resigned and started his own clinic in Sydney. Yet he did not feel this work altogether satisfying and after about a year as a professional Clinical Psychologist, he felt the compulsive urge to go exploring. Perhaps it was, in reality, the urge to become somehow more involved in what has been called the New Age. And so he went to live in a commune at a place called Nimbin, in the north of New South Wales.

While reading many books born of the New Age, he built himself a house in Nimbin and opened a clinic in which to treat patients professionally by his clinical psychology. Moreover, with the aid of two friends, he opened what must have been the first New Age Bookshop in New South Wales. His shop, like his clinic, was situated in Lismore. In order to stock it, he ordered books from all over the world and so he had the pleasure of reading his growing stock of books, which included the work of leading spiritual writers from all countries. He spent about eight years soaking up this world wide literature of the developing New Age. Inevitably, he ploughed his way through to books on Sathya Sai Baba. This was in the year 1984, a most important milestone in his life. The finger of God seems to have been active here too, because soon after the arrival of the books, he found himself at a friend’s place watching a video about Sai Baba. During the film there was a close-up of Sai Baba looking straight into the camera and so he seemed to Ron to be looking deep into his own eyes. “At that point I nearly fell off my chair,” said Ron. Asking him why he reacted in this way, he replied, “When he looked straight into my eyes, I felt sure he knew all about me and all about everybody. In fact he knew everything. I knew that this was the man I had to follow, there was no-one else like him.” Now he read avidly all the Sai Baba books in his possession and felt that Nimbin, Lismore and neighbourhood were not the right place for him. He had to be where there were more Sai people and Sai activities and so it was that he returned to Sydney and re-opened his clinic there. And of course, he attended any Sai meetings and other activities available in his area.

It was while he was visiting a Sai Baba meeting in Homebush, a suburb of Sydney, that he met Dr Devi, the wife of the well-known Dr Sara Pavan, the Anaesthetist. Dr Devi one evening announced to the meeting at Homebush that she was going next day to a Nursing Home where the patients were all seriously handicapped mentally. Anyone who wished to come with her, she said, were very welcome. One person went and that was Dr Ron Farmer. He was quite unaware of the fact that one of the most important things in the whole of his life was to happen to him at this Nursing Home. Towards the end of his visit on that first day, the Matron of the Nursing Home said she would like to introduce him to the Clinical Psychologist who was working regularly at the Nursing Home. Ron had no desire to meet this Psychologist. All of that profession that he had met in recent years had no interest whatsoever in any aspect of God or the spiritual life of man. So he gave some reason to the Matron and excused himself from the meeting; but he was very interested in the Nursing Home itself and before long he was there again. This time the Matron said, “I have told my Psychologist about you and she is very anxious to meet you.” This time Ron made no excuse but submissively went upstairs with the Matron. She conducted him into the clinic and introduced him to the dark-eyed, smiling Swanny. He had immediately, he told me, a deep feeling that something important, something inexplicable was going to happen. He had never had this feeling before at the point of first meeting someone. The inexplicable feeling had, he said, an overture of deep peace, he wanted to see her again. Asked what she felt at the first meeting, Swanny said, “His face looked so very sad and I felt a strong urge to make him happy.” So they began seeing each other frequently, usually at lunch-times. One of the most important things they had in common was the fact that they both used spiritual principles wherever possible in treating their patients, but it was not long before their feeling for each other deepened into something more important than their academic interests. This was love, the kind that, while including romantic love, goes far beyond. It is the true love of union and includes sharing and caring.

After they were married, Swanny began having dreams about Sathya Sai Baba which brought her onto the Sai path with Ron. They had been married about three years, both happily working in their profession of Clinical Psychology when the bell rang heralding a new chapter to their lives. The bell, in this case, was the telephone bell in their home; it rang about ten o’clock one evening. Ron went to answer it. On the other end of the line, a young man’s voice said “You don’t know me but my name is John Fitzgerald, I have a lot of money and I want to help street kids but I don’t know where to start.” There was silence for a few moments then the voice went on, “A friend of mine, in fact, my Architect, took his son to one of your meetings. It was a meeting on Human Values and he told me that you and your wife were the best two people in Australia to help me with my project.” John Fitzgerald went on to request them to visit him at his office on the Gold Coast as soon as they could, if they were interested in helping him. Ron replied that he and Swanny were going up to the Gold Coast in the following week and they would be happy to call and talk to him. When he returned to Swanny, Ron said, “I have been talking to a young man in Queensland who is either mad, or he is a very wise man.” He told her the gist of the phone conversation and they both decided to call and see him on the following week when they were going up to the Gold Coast on some other business. And so, in due course, they were sitting in John Fitzgerald’s office listening to his philanthropic dream. One thing that impressed them both was hearing John say, “My gift of making millions is something God has given me, so I must use it in doing God’s work.” The interview lasted for three hours and at the end of it they were his partners in the Karma Yogic work he was planning to launch. Swanny had such faith in this new found friend that at his request she agreed to give up her work and spend all her time helping John. Dr Ron Farmer agreed whole-heartedly with this move, he too, felt full faith in John Fitzgerald. Thus, the divine association had its beginnings.

Now I would like to give some background information about Swanny Farmer, who is, I must say, one of those rare people whose pure inner beauty shines through, thus endowing her with a special outer beauty. I feel it was someone like her to whom Shakespeare addressed the words, “Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long and so make life, death and the vast forever, one grand sweet song.”

Swanny was born in Indonesia in the year 1952. Her father, a businessman in Djakarta, found his fortunes greatly improving after this third daughter was born and so he was able to send her two older sisters to complete their education at Hanover University in Germany. When Swanny was seventeen years old, that is in 1969, she was also sent there to join them and complete her tertiary education. She specialised in psychology because it seemed that this was the kind of training she needed to help people in their lives. She obtained a Master of Arts degree at Hanover and worked for a time in Germany. She was invited to become a German Citizen, but decided instead, to go to England and obtain another degree in psychology. Thus, she attended the University of Manchester and after about two years there, obtained a degree of Master of Science in Psychology. With these two degrees she was certainly qualified to work in her professional field in many parts of the world. Her heart called her back to her home in Indonesia where she worked in the psychological field for about two years. However, Swanny felt that she was not making full use of her potential in Indonesia and as one of her sisters was practicing as a Medical Doctor in Australia, she decided to move to that country where, indeed, she had no difficulty finding professional work and eventually finished up working up at the Nursing Home for mentally disadvantaged children in Liverpool near Sydney, where eventually she met Ron Farmer.

As already told, Swanny Farmer changed her job again at that fateful three hour interview with John Fitzgerald when he invited her to be what he called his navigator, in finding the right children to launch his Toogoolawa scheme of providing schools, as well as some accommodation hostels for the unfortunate children who, often through bad parenting, were homeless, school-less and on the point of becoming street-kids. Ron, who whole-heartedly supports the project and gives it much voluntary help, carries on other work for Sathya Sai Baba too. One of these is conducting a small publishing business in conjunction with his wife Swanny and a Sai friend by the name of Ross Woodward. They have already published a very good book designed to help people anywhere in the world to conduct study circles on the literature of the New Age, particularly the teachings of Sai Baba. The quality of the book holds out good promise of other treasures to come.

Dr Farmer of course, continues his main professional work regularly seeing patients at his clinic which is in the same building as John’s company offices on the banks of the Nerang River. In this therapeutic work he frequently makes use of the Sai and other spiritual teachings. He told me about several of these as we walked together on the grassy lands round his home at Willow Vale. At my request he put several on an audio tape for me. Here briefly, is the gist of one such treatment.

A Minister of the Uniting Church asked Dr Farmer if he would treat the Minister’s twelve year old daughter. Dr Ron Farmer agreed and in due course the twelve year old girl was sitting in his clinic. Her main problem was that in the school classroom, when as a pupil she was asked to stand up, perhaps to read something, to recite something or answer a question, just the fact of standing there in the classroom of sitting pupils would bring on such a powerful agonising form of stage fright that she would break out in a cold sweat and be unable to speak a word and so would have to take her seat. As neither teachers nor pupils have any understanding or sympathy in such situations, the twelve year old girl would suffer a great deal.

Eventually after asking her several questions, in an endeavour to find a door that he might open for her, Ron asked intuitively, “Do you have any recurring nightmares?” The answer was that she did, a terrible dream that recurred every week or every fortnight. In the dream she was walking along the edge of a cliff when she fell over the precipice and in terror went down towards the bottom. She always awakened before she hit bottom but it was an experience of great terror. Ron felt that if he could cure this nightmare terror it would also cure her classroom terror.

Ron remembered one of Sathya Sai Baba’s teaching to the effect that it does not matter in the least what form and name of God you worship but you must remember He is with you always and you must trust in His love and His help. This girl was the daughter of a Minister of a Christian Church and would probably look to Jesus as her divine guide and saviour. So Ron asked her, “Do you believe in Jesus?” “Oh, yes I do,” she answered. Then Ron asked, “Do you love Jesus?” “Yes,” she replied enthusiastically, “I love Him with all my heart, He is my life.” Then Ron explained to her the principle taught by Sathya Sai Baba, that is, if we hold onto the name and form of God, bringing it into everything we do, life will become harmonious and any problems will be solved. Moreover, Sathya Sai Baba says, unlike what is taught in modern psychiatry, that the unconscious is benevolent. So Ron proceeded to relax his patient and asked her to close her eyes. Then he took her in imagination, through the details of her recurring nightmare. She was walking along the cliff edge picturing the scene and then her foot slipped and she began to fall, but now she was holding onto the hand of Jesus as she fell. He kept repeating to her, “You’re holding onto the hand of Jesus, you’re falling, but you’re holding onto the hand of Jesus,” this he repeated for about ten minutes. Watching her face as he made her picture that she was holding onto the hand of Jesus, the expression of fear changed quickly into a beautiful expression of peace and happiness. So eventually, he asked her to open her eyes and asked her, “What was that like?” She replied that she forgot she was falling and felt happy in the protection of Jesus. Asked what she felt in her body, she replied that she felt relaxed, deeply relaxed. Then Ron asked her to imagine she was in the classroom situation and that the teacher had asked her to stand up and read something, but while she was standing up she pictured the scene where she was falling, holding onto the hand of Jesus, so she felt relaxed and not at all worried with this situation because she was holding the hand of Jesus and felt the joy of his protection. After this guided imagination, he said to her to open her eyes again. Then he said, “Do you feel now that you will be alright in the classroom when you have to stand to your feet and speak?” She smiled happily and replied, “Yes, I feel sure I will because I will have Jesus close to me holding my hand.” “Well,” Ron replied, “If ever you have the slightest return of that problem, contact me and I will bring you some more help.” She agreed that she would do so, but she never contacted Ron and he felt that his spiritual therapy had worked. He has found that this use of the name and form of the God one adores has a very powerful effect. It releases the stupendous power of divine love which always conquers fear.

Reference:: “The Lights of Home” by Howard Murphet

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