My wife, Doris and
I traveled with our daughters Susan and Jennifer to Sacramento June 29 to attend an “empowerment” gathering of
followers of Her Holiness Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi, an Indian saint and spiritual teacher, and get a sense of what this movement
is all about.
This old news reporter
and natural skeptic, who has been on various spiritual journeys ranging from Christianity to Gnosticism and most recently
Aaron C. Donahue’s radical Luciferianism, entered that gathering as an observer, without great expectation.
While the set-up
was promoted and even portrayed with all the pomp and pageantry one might expect of the appearance of royalty, or perhaps
the Second Coming of a messiah, we were pleasantly surprised when we actually saw this amazing woman, listened to what she
had to say and experienced her power.
It was not surprising
when nearly everyone in the room . . . mostly women . . . greeted her with folded hands, as if in prayerful reverence, with
heads bowed, as Sai Ma entered the room. While Sai Ma does not promote the idea, it is obvious that her followers worship
her. For many of them, because they do not understand or listen closely to what she teaches, she has become a form of a religion.
Perhaps that was
the desired effect. After all, the very appearance of Sai Ma couldn't have been better prepared by the late P. T. Barnum,
the master of showmanship.
The entrance occurred
after a morning of mantra, of testimony and having everyone line up to receive “diksha,” a transformation of healing
energy and light from a bank of trained “teachers” on this woman’s staff. Diksha involves the laying on
of hands at the top of the head as the “giver” receives the power (described as light) from Sai Ma and a line
of ascended masters and allows it to flow through the body of the receiver. I received my dose of the light from a big burly-appearing
man who I sensed might have been a police officer. I found out later he was a member of Sai Ma’s special security team
that travels with her where ever she goes. Needless to say, I felt the force of that blast of energy from the top of my head
right down to my toes.
By the time Sai Ma
entered the gathering, which was held in the Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Sacramento, all 200-300 of the people
in attendance were primed for what was to follow.
We were instructed
to close our eyes and remain silent in meditation until given the signal to turn and face the back of the sanctuary. When
we turned, her appearance was not what we expected. There, on the main isle, was this frail little woman, in the bright silk
and jeweled garb of India, her face shielded by a wide straw hat, looking in all the world like she had just come from her
garden, or a stroll in the park. She slowly made her way toward the front of the room, her eyes constantly moving through
the crowd, her hands raised in greeting, a gentle smile on her face. There was nothing there for anyone to fear.
Awaiting this woman
at the front of the sanctuary was no less than a throne. It was a raised but soft seat, covered in a white fabric, a large
white pillow where she would place her feet. Behind the chair was another stretched fabric garlanded with flowers and tiny
white lights. Small tables, obviously connected to technical equipment and the buttons needed to use it, and decorated with
crystals and lighted candles were located on the sides. There was a large screen set up on her right. An alter with candles
and images of Sai Ma and ascended masters she has been connected with, was later set up on her left.
Once she reached
her seat, Sai Ma wasted little time getting to work. The meeting was promoted as a mystical journey of energy healing, transformation
and spiritual awakening. Those who paid the price to attend were promised instruction on how to “unleash your inner
perfection in the expanded consciousness of energy healing, be a Master of the vibration, energy and information within your
body and aura” and to “live the Freedom and Power of life.”
When you think about
it, that was a tall order. Could this tiny woman deliver so much to so many in such a short amount of time? The skepticism
in me reared back, but only for a few moments.
Sai Ma soon had us
opening our shaktis, or internal spiritual energies, to receive the power of light from above, thus awakening the “I
Am” presence, or god within. She teaches that we are all one, and that the god we seek is in us in the form of the soul.
She also teaches that we have always had the power to heal ourselves and overcome all troubles through the power of love and
light but have forgotten who we are and how to use this natural power. We went through an exercise of reaching up and “grabbing”
the light, obviously a symbolic gesture designed to give us a sense that we were having some kind of energy enter our bodies.
Next, she taught
us to turn our hands into powerful auras or daggers of light energy and use them to heal ourselves or the people around us.
We were then paired off to practice the technique on one another. Doris and I were partners in this exercise. We worked on
each other, both of us feeling sensations of tingling as we pointed our closed hands at various points of the body. Were we
healed? I hobbled into the meeting with the help of a cane, and I hobbled back out again that evening. Yet we definitely had
the sense that something within us had changed.
That afternoon with
Sai Ma was an intense work session. Not only were we taught the power of healing, but she also instructed us in using these
same powers to transform ourselves from the old, tired vessels we once were, filled with doubts, fears and anger, to new creatures
filled with light and the power of love. The information came at us with so much speed, and with such power that it was difficult
to absorb it all. Yet we were assured that the subconscious mind was taking it all in, and that we would not forget.
We took a brief lunch
break at 3 p.m. and returned within an hour for a round of private sessions with Sai Ma. When she learned that we came as
four members of the same family, she arranged for us to all go in together, which was something beyond expectations. Each
experience with Sai Ma was unique and private, so I will not go into this. All that I can say is that she touched us in a
personal and unique way that has made us better and perhaps more understanding members of the human race.
We returned home
in the wee hours on Sunday morning, and spent all that day crashed out in our beds, fixing brief meals, and resting. That
worn-out sensation lingers even today. Susan, who had been to events with Sai Ma before, says it always takes her about three
days to recover from them.
All I know is that
after we came in contact with her during those private sessions, we didn’t just get up afterwards and walk away. We
were escorted into a recovery room and put in bed for a while until we regained enough strength to stand up and walk out of
the room without falling to the floor.
I will have more to say about this experience after
I have time to get what happened to us more sorted out in my head.