As children, I’m convinced that each of us hears the Voice that guides us throughout our life. Call it conscience, the Voice of the Universe or whatever you wish, but early in my life it was clear that it had to be my constant companion. How ever, somewhere between Bar Mitzvah and Boy Scouts, when values fall out of fashion, the Voice left me and I, like many American youth, felt the material world, with all its temptations, corruption and oppression close in and I got buried.
As I approached college, the need to find my purpose and define my integrity again sum moned my longing to reconnect to the Voice.
In August 1970 I had just finished college. Pondering how we could ever change the destructive course of civilisation, when sitting with a friend over a cup of tea in New York, I blinked, and suddenly a great spiritual being was standing before me - a diamond-like light radiating from his head, his eyes literally held the universe. He held up his hand and said, “Don’t be afraid.” He showed me something similar to an atom, said “Meditate on this,” and left. Shortly thereafter, I distributed my worldly possessions to friends, left my comfortable life and followed that Vision to India. Of course, everyone I knew - at home, at college, in Jewish temple - thought I was crazy.
But the closer I got physically to India (all I knew was that I had to get to India, so I went overland across Europe and Asia), the stronger the pull became. The Voice was literally calling me home. Finally, in February 1971, on the outskirts of Delhi, I was brought face to face with the One who had appeared in front of me and had been the Voice that guided me since childhood. Crazy? They all said so, louder than ever, but I knew what I knew and had to act on it, make that leap of faith across continents and away from a whole life.
The presence that summoned me is Baba Virsa Singh and his spiritual power, according to me, is literally of Biblical proportion. He doesn’t read or write in any language, but he is the most eloquent teacher I’ve ever had. He quotes freely from all scriptures and answers questions on any subject in the cosmos. There in his spiritual community, Gobind Sadan (God’s House without Walls) my real education in the course of life began.
The first ‘lesson’ he blessed me with was Naam (God’s Holy Name) — Ek Onkar Satnam Sri Wahe Guru (There is One God whose name is Truth — Praise the Teacher who leads you to God). Smiling with the radiance of the sun, he told me that the next day God would come to take my exam and since I was lagging behind in my studies, I should recite Naam like I was cramming for my finals. As I did my ‘homework’ the sound of those holy words began to echo unceasingly within my mind. I could no longer be any doubt of God’s presence. This was Babaji’s greatest gift, turning on that switch within me and giving me a sense of connection to God.
But ‘finding God’ at age 22 wasn’t enough. Baba, like Zarathushtra, told me that working hands are better than praying hands. So at daybreak, he him self would take me to the fields, grab a spade or a sickle and teach me the basics of farming. It was essential for him to be self-sufficient and then help those in need. He taught me how to be responsible and never think that any was job too hard or tiring. He would say, “After all God works 24 hours a day and those who love God must work much harder than others.” I have watched over the past 35 years as Babaji has demonstrated the path to peace. He has challenged politicians and clergy alike who corrupt religion and divide God’s family, and turned fundamentalists and terrorists away from their violent course.
To teach reverence for all those who bring God’s message we celebrate the major holidays of all religions. Since 1968 the havan has burned continuously and the Guru Granth Sahib has been recited 24 hours a day. Jaap Sahib, Hanuman Chalisa and Chandi di Vaar are read constantly and prayers are offered at mosques and mandirs and at sacred sites that Babaji has built to honour Jesus, Lord Buddha and the Shma or Kshema that is the Jewish credo: Kshema Israel, Adonai Eloihanu, Adonai Echad (Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One). The power of prayer is so palpable that miracles of all sorts are everyday occurrences. But then, “Miracles are God’s nature,” Babaji says.
While his langars feed hundreds of thousands and free medicine and clothing are distributed to poor, Babaji doesn’t believe there should be any poverty and has reclaimed barren wastelands into marvels of productive agriculture creating abundance where there was nothing but stealing and mugging. Babaji always says when you do God’s work, nature wants to help. And it is his conviction that Mata Ganga herself assists him in this task of re-greening her once-verdant banks.