As we approach the 8th Anniversary of Sri Kaleshwar's Mahasamadhi, it is with great pleasure that we share another chapter from a new book by Terry Clark, At the Feet of an Avadhut, Life lessons Learned Serving Sri Kaleshwar.
Terry was Sri Kaleshwar’s personal attendant, a soul mate, and ‘godfather,’ as Sri Kaleshwar would affectionally call him. As we look to Sri Kaleshwar's prophecies and remedies to survive and thrive during this time of crisis, glimpses into his life, his ways of teaching and what he looked for in his students, are more valuable than ever. May you be inspired!
Jai Guru, Jai Ma!
At the Feet of an Avadhut:
Life Lessons Learned Serving Sri Kaleshwar
By Terry 'Sundaram' Clark
Developing Silence to Hear the Master's Voice
To hear your intuition, to hear the master’s guidance, you have to be in silence. Your mind has to be quiet. Your mind is a bullhorn, but the master is standing behind you whispering. You have to learn to become quiet so you can hear him. Serving Swami forced me to learn to be quiet, both internally and externally. He liked when people around him were peaceful and walked gently without disturbing anyone. It demonstrated their inner silence and awareness.
The best compliment for me was being able to surprise him. It meant I was very quiet inside and outside. In this state, I could check on him, take care of him without disturbing him especially when he was resting or meditating. I would switch the water bottle that was lying at the edge of his bed for a cool bottle. Then I would see him reach for his water and could tell he was surprised that it was cold. I had walked out to his bed in the Northeast of the Jesus Temple and was able to exchange bottles without his notice.
When it was cold, we put hot water bottles under his covers so it would be warm when he laid down. The water bottle had to be changed every couple of hours whether he was there or not. In the summer, he had a water cooler by his bed. If he stayed on his bed for a long time, I would have to fill the cooler while it was running. It was right next to the head of his bed, and it had to be full. If he was there more than four hours I had to sneak over and fill it.
Everything I did for Swami was an exercise in learning how to not disturb him. Even though I tried my best, it wasn’t always possible.
The Quiet Voice in My Mind
Throughout my time on duty, Swami didn’t really spend much time talking to me or teaching me things directly. That started early when I was doing sadhana under the tree. He would walk by me on his way to check on the Vaastu of the ashram while I was sitting under the tree doing japa. I would feel him inside, calling me. Then as I would look, he would be walking across the garden waving at me. He didn’t stop, he just would go by. Sometimes he would just smile and continue along.
Doing japa is developing inner silence. You get your mind under control; you get it quiet. When you are quiet, you can hear the master. It just continued that way for me. This was my main sadhana. Sometimes, when I was on duty, I would just feel, ‘I need to do this now.’ Generally, it was always correct. Swami sometimes would act surprised, like, ‘Oh, I was going to call you and there you are!’ I felt that was what I needed to continue to develop. Once you get a taste for that, you get an intuition and act on it and get a positive response, then you continue to listen to that.
That communication with Swami was always the softest, quietest voice in my mind. You could only hear it if your mind was quiet. If I was in a chaotic place personally, I would miss it. I always had to be really careful with my energy. What am I doing, what am I thinking about, how does it feel in my body? If I am tense and upset, I will miss that quiet voice.
In the Jesus Temple, I would see something on the floor, a leaf or something. I would think I should pick that up but would be busy trying to do something else. Later Swami would come in and tell me to pick up the leaf, and look at me like, ‘I already told you!’ That was the thing, he made it obvious; I needed to listen to that voice. I needed to be quiet enough, I needed to have my mind calm. You can never tell what mood an avadhut will be in when you see him. Some days, super quiet, really nice. Other days, politicians, car accidents, police, anything could be running. Being a support for him you had to be quiet and calm. Even if things were very busy, full of activity, but inside, that calmness. Maybe it didn’t happen all the time, but you had to try to always be listening. He responded to that, and it really helped him.
Maintaining Inner Neutrality Around the Master
If anything was bothering me when I went on duty, Swami would feel it, then it would bother him. So, when I was around him, I had to be very careful of my interactions with people and other students so that I did not get upset.
Another angle for me to be aware of was that my attitude toward someone could actually influence his opinion, especially early on. If I had a negative feeling towards someone, sometimes he would ask me about it or just act on it. I did not want him to have to process my reactions, and I did not feel it was fair for me to influence him. No matter what my opinion of someone or a situation, I knew I didn't have the whole picture. The other part was, I had no idea about what Swami was doing with any individual or situation. I felt I only had a small window into things, I didn't want to influence him because I knew that I didn't really know. So, I tried hard not to say things in any direction other than what I knew to be true, literally to just present the facts. So, for me, it was extremely important to be totally neutral to not disturb him or try to influence him with my personal opinions. Even my interactions with other students had to be neutral. If someone said something rude to me and it was bothering me, he could feel that. I couldn’t let my personal feelings for someone color his opinion.
Sometimes if someone sent a letter to Swami, he would have me read the correspondence and pick out the most important parts. When I read those correspondences the way I would interpret it or present it would change the response he would give, based on my energy. So, for example, if I felt something negative or had a judgment about a person, that could influence the kind of response he would give. I would recognize that and try to monitor my inner reactions. You could never change Swami’s mind, but you could flavor things. I had many interactions with Swami where there were things that I didn't think were that important, but were to him. So, I tried to be neutral in how I presented things.
Previous attendants had pushed their opinions on Swami, and it had been hard for him. They tended to present things to him along with their opinions of people. To some degree, it would color his reactions. At first, Swami didn’t have a good understanding of Western psychology, so it was possible to influence him. He had to learn how Westerners’ thought. Later, he was much more in tune with Westerners and could read between the lines. In the beginning, it was a little harder for him.
Swami complained about two female attendants who tried to influence him with their opinions and judgments about people and the way things should be handled in the ashram. In truth, they felt they knew better than he did; they had their own agenda about how things should be handled in the ashram. They felt Swami didn’t know about real-world things, they did. He would complain that they were wasting 50% of his time and wanted to run the ashram. He asked for help from a group of close students because it was such a waste of his time and energy. They were injecting negativity about others to raise themselves up in his eyes and solidify their position. If things didn’t go their way, it took a lot of time energy to try to set them right and to handle their emotions and upsets. Because of Swami’s love, it was difficult for him to remove them from his service, so he asked a group of students close to him for their help him because it was disturbing his mission and time was running short.
It was essential for Swami to have time to relax, have quiet time and de-charging time, and they were sucking his energy and diverting his attention. That is where my desire to not pull on his energy with my own stuff came from. I saw how disturbing this was for him and I knew it was not serving him. It was really important to just give him the facts about what I knew and not color it with my opinion. If he asked for my opinion. I would share it, but mostly he did not.
I made a conscious choice to not use my closeness with him to try to command on his time or have an excuse to interact with him or to push my personal agenda with him.
Terry 'Sundaram' Clark
is an Associate Minister, Board Member, and Manager of Temple Buildings & Grounds Development at the Divine Lineage Center in Laytonville, CA since Sri Kaleshwar’s mahasamadhi in 2012. In addition, he is our machine whisperer and stealth wildlife photographer of our bear, fox and bobcat. He spent 12 years in Penukonda, India serving as Sri Kaleshwar’s primary personal attendant.