Terry was Sri Kaleshwar’s personal attendant, a soul mate, and ‘godfather’, as Sri Kaleshwar would affectionally call him. His stories share invaluable glimpses into the life and actions of an incredible saint. They are priceless gifts and tools for all students of spirituality.
At the Feet of an Avadhut:
Life Lessons Learned Serving Sri Kaleshwar
By Terry 'Sundaram' Clark
In Penukonda, a lot of students, including some who were there for a long time, were stuck. They were there without an open heart and never really went anywhere. There are still stuck Swami students. One clear indication is they will tell you when they met Swami, as if the year they met him somehow means they have more experience. For me, you may as well advertise that you have no experience, because you think that just meeting Swami moves you up the ladder. It doesn’t mean anything; it doesn’t mean a thing if you didn’t do the work. If you did the work, you don't need to say anything.
How do you get unstuck? You have to open your heart. Maybe it takes someone with an open heart speaking to you. Maybe it takes being around someone with an open heart. Maybe it takes a snippet of a conversation.
You have to want it, you have to recognize that you are going through the motions, you are doing things, but you are not in the place you want to be. You can’t hammer somebody over the head to open their heart. You can't point it out, their heart will never open that way.
There's a famous story about two guys walking down the road. There's a contest between the wind and the sun about who can get a guy to take his coat off first. The wind blows super hard, what does the man do? He pulls his coat tighter. The wind is biting him. What does the sun do? It shines, it warms the guy. He takes his coat off. He has to.
The open heart is not a theory. How do we treat each other? It is something that you can practice. Even if you can’t open your heart to many people, if you can open your heart to one, and live in that experience with one person, that can be enough to change your world. It is enough.
All of the processes we do, they are fueled by your heart. The bottom line, you won’t go anywhere if your heart's not open. You can’t heal anyone, you can’t help anyone, you can barely help yourself if you don’t have an open heart. The Avadhut energy requires it.
How do we know we are not already enlightened?
I was there a few times when Monika asked Swami about enlightenment. Swami always told her, “You’re already enlightened. How do you know you are not?”
There was a sense that enlightenment would be different, you would feel different, be something or someone else.
Now what I’m seeing is that he took our frame of reference away, we don't know what we have. To successfully make that transformation he stripped you of every reference point. Once those reference points are stripped you don't know where you are, or who you are.
He always gave the example of being in the middle of the ocean. That means everywhere you look it looks exactly the same. Which way do you swim? Without the Guru you are lost. What the Guru does, one day he says swim this way. The next day he says swim that way. You need to swim where he tells you even if it makes no sense. If you don’t have any reference, how can you protest? If you are smart, you won’t protest. If are dumb you will complain, ‘You are making me do this for your own fun, it makes no sense, why are you doing this?’ It doesn’t matter why. Only he knows where you are going.
One definition of enlightenment is someone who is truly surrendered to the Master. He says swim, you swim, he says stop, you stop. You don’t ask how far or how hard, you just swim. If you don’t trust him, you will suck fear. He is watching you and he doesn’t have to be around to watch you. There is no hiding from the Master. He can soul travel, he has angels -- he is watching you. The problem is not that you do funny stuff. We were raised in a rakshasa world, of course we are weird. He doesn’t have judgement about that, we do. If you do things and you feel bad about them, it’s a problem. If you do things and you don’t feel bad about them, it’s not a problem. We don’t need to be embarrassed or hide who we are. ‘This is the way I am.’ In that, there is freedom. And where are we going? We are going towards freedom, the real true freedom.
Swami said he was looking forward to the day when we would walk beside him.
Terry 'Sundaram' Clark
began his studies with Sri Kaleshwar in 1997. He lived at the ashram in Penukonda India, from 2000 until Swami’s samadhi in 2012. For 11 of those years, he served as Swami’s personal assistant, serving and taking care of Swami not only in Penukonda but during Swami's travels around the world. Early in Terry's time at the ashram, Sri Kaleshwar made him promise that he would take care of him as long as he was alive. Swami would affectionately call Terry “Godfather”, and one birthday manifested a diamond ring for him saying, “You are a diamond in my life.” Terry lives at the Divine Mother Center, serves on the Board of Directors, and is Manager of Temple Buildings and Grounds Development.