Stephen Turoff is big. Big in stature, big in voice, big in energy, big in passion, and absolutely huge in his power to magnetise both himself and the audience with pure love. I had only met him in England through his impressive reputation as a psychic surgeon, heard the stories and seen the tiny scars on my friend’s body after she had experienced one of his ‘operations’. So I was slightly nervous when I arrived at Brdo, wondering how my singing would connect with this awesome being.
I needn’t have worried, because if there’s one thing about Stephen Turoff, he is absolutely down-to-earth. From a nearby room, huge, hearty guffaws of laughter rang out, and when I introduced myself to the source, a pair of warm eyes filled with kindness fixed on me. “I don’t know what I’m going to talk about today”, beamed Stephen. I couldn’t stop looking into his eyes as he spoke. There was such a depth in them. “I don’t want to do lectures. I just want to retire. But God keeps telling me. So here I am.”
He’s a long way from the little boy who was born in the East End of London and became a carpenter. Grandson of a Russian cabinet-maker, Stephen speaks fondly of his cockney childhood, and being English myself, I was puzzled at first as Stephen took the stage. Not only did he seem to grow in height, but the cockney lilt disappeared, and he was suddenly speaking with a foreign accent. “I can’t help it”, he explained. “As soon as I stand up there, this being comes into me, and I just have to speak in this voice.” There is a simultaneous wonder and innocence as he tells me, and it is deeply disarming. In the midst of all the amazing things that are constantly happening to him, at the centre of his huge power and ability to transform negative into positive energy, at the very moment of the light shining through him and out of him, there is still the little boy, wide-eyed with wonder.
And there is a lot to wonder at. Over the next two days, stories flow of levitation, dematerialisation, pillars of light, nectar flowing from hands, a burst of rain appearing at will, sheets turning pink, and thousands of people seeking healing. “Sai Baba told me I am the reincarnation of Yogananda’s teacher, Sri Vucta Sha”, Stephen tells me quietly. “It doesn’t mean anything to me. I just do what God tells me.” It is quite extraordinary to talk to a man who speaks with God and says he has actually heard God answer him. I think of Joan of Arc, burned at the stake for daring to claim a direct connection to God, and I’m glad those days of heresy are gone, as the relationship this man has with the Divine manifests such pure love, it opens hearts at will. “I was born with a very great love of God”, explains Stephen. He speaks of God as his lover and talks of the reality of his life as being in that state of pure Bliss when he is in communion with God, and it is his ability to be so constantly in love that is so powerful and healing.
“God loves you SO much”, he thunders at the audience. It is almost scary, his energy is so strong. “Why won’t you let him in? Just say, yes, God. Open your hearts and let love in!” But it is not a yell of anger, it is a cry of passion, of absolutely knowing that the reality is love, not the fear that we so often choose with our ‘monkey minds’. And we do choose fear, scepticism. Stephen tells us he remembers being a child in the Holy Land when Jesus came to his village and danced. “Do you really believe him?” someone asks me later. I smile. “When he speaks about it, I can see it”, I reply. “Can’t you?” But I am not without my own private reactions.
In the 1980’s, alongside people like Aleksander Mezek (then Alexander John), I worked in the UK Christian music scene and had a number of battles with the Evangelicals and their ‘one way to God, through Jesus!’ cry, as I wanted to do transcendental meditation. You can see the Billy Graham Evangelist in Stephen, standing side by side with the Vedic guru and the compassionate healer. He walks across the room to speak with me, grasps my face and gently strokes my cheek, burning a gaze of pure love so deeply into my eyes, that I begin to cry. In a flash, I see my dead father in his eyes. I see God. I see eternity. “I know, I know”, whispers Stephen gently, and smiles.
Friends finally persuaded Stephen to allow scientists to measure his brainwave patterns when in meditation. Our normal pattern is beta for activity, alpha for relaxation, theta for deep sleep, and delta in a coma or near-death state. They photographed his aura too, and were baffled by the results. “It’s not possible”, they told him. “Your brainwave is delta. Your aura is pure white light. You’re not in your body.” “No”, Stephen beamed with great delight. “My body is in ME!” There are more and more photos, taken on ordinary cameras, which illustrate extraordinary beams of light in and around Stephen when he is healing. “I said to God, I don’t need these photos”, he tells me. “And God said, who told you the photos were for you?” He laughs at the joke of his own ego. One of the endearing things about him is his great sense of fun and humour. “Thank God”, he cries. “Thank GOD, Jesus turned water into wine, and not the other way round!” He will have the whole audience roaring with laughter and at the flick of an invisible switch, change from irreverence to deep compassion and love in a single breath. It is awesome.
Someone asks how we die, and he draws two stick men on the flip chart: one with an upturned smiling mouth, the second with a miserable face. “Just call me Stevie Picasso”, he smiles, as we laugh. Then he explains how, as a child is linked to the mother through the umbilical cord, so are we linked to our astral body through a similar cord stretching from the third eye. At the point of death, the soul energy begins to leave the body through this cord and as it reaches the astral body, the light is ignited – creating the experience of going up a ‘tunnel of light’ – until all the soul energy is finally in the astral body. There is always someone you know and love waiting at the other end to ‘guide you home’, as the propensity is to stay close to the earth planes, which sometimes happens with those who die suddenly.
On the second day, as I open the seminar with a sound meditation, I have absolutely no idea what to do. I close my eyes, and see a pink rose. I ask everyone to breathe it into their hearts, then we become the rose, are all petals in a universal rose, the earth is a rose, and finally, the whole universe is a rose of pure, pink love. In a break, I tell Stephen, and he laughs. “Two weeks ago, in a meditation I saw a huge piece of pink quartz crystal”, he says. “It turned into a pink rose!” Things very often turn pink around Stephen, from all the white net curtains on a hospital ward, to his bed sheets and sometimes white articles of clothing on those he heals. That’s why they call him the Pink Swami, and often, the smell of roses surrounds him. Stephen gives me a bear hug, and I keep checking the white caftan I’m wearing. Just in case it’s gone pink.
The two-day seminar is intensive. Stephen’s energy is strong, and during breaks, people arrive for hands-on healing. A child, an old man. He always finds time. “Sometimes, when I arrive in a country, there are two hundred people waiting for me”, he says. “But you can’t possibly see them all”, I say. “I never turn anyone away. Sometimes I have four healing beds at a time”, he explains. “The energy is huge.” The energy is huge, even when he’s just talking. He guides us through breathing exercises and one by one, goes through the whole room, helping people to breathe from their stomachs and simultaneously, without them even knowing, giving them healing. He demonstrates how he ‘magnetises’ himself with God’s energy, standing upright like a huge solid rock as he breathes in and expands his aura around him. One woman can see it, like two different coloured circles, left and right. I experience the whole room filling with light. It is like the sun has come out. “But my caftan still hasn’t turned pink”, I whisper wickedly to my friend. She laughs.
Stephen’s plans to retire and create his own healing Ashram went up in flames last year with the newly-renovated home he had bought, as it burned to the ground overnight. He and his wife escaped with just the clothes they were wearing. “I went into work to heal the next day, stinking of smoke”, he told me. “It was winter and I was wearing my wife’s coat. I didn’t have anything else. And I was laughing. People kept saying, how can you laugh when your house burned down? But I just said to God, it doesn’t matter what you do to me, I still love you. I love you so much.”
There is a passion and devotion on his face as he speaks the words, and you know he means it; and that passion and devotion spreads through the whole audience as we sing Amazing Grace to the word ‘Amen’, and Stephen leads us in the dance that Jesus danced in his village. It is little wonder that grown men are now crying, that a woman has been crawling on the floor sobbing “Yes, God. Yes!” and that when we finish, no-one wants to leave the room. I understand now the power of the guru, because when you feel such complete love, you don’t want it to end.
But I have three concerts over the next few days. I sing, I play, people tell me it is the best ever Ave Maria. But something in my heart feels dead. I feel empty, as though the connection has gone, and it lasts for nearly two weeks. Only when I am doing a healing session does the realisation hit me: I am just clearing old, old energy on a very deep level. Those giant bear hugs from Stephen released the last negative dregs. I allow myself to connect with and really feel the feeling, and it gradually clears so that I am stronger and more open and more loving than ever before. After my concert at Tunjice, I receive the most amazing gift from Iva Grajzar, who hand-dyes and intuitively designs clothes. She had decided to make me a t-shirt but the needles on the sewing-machine broke so many times, she stopped, went into meditation and got a clear image for another design. I open the bag and pull out…..a soft pink sleeveless t-shirt. There is a beautiful rose embossed directly over the heart on the left, and written in English, the word…. ‘love’. “I didn’t want to make a rose”, she said. “But I was told I had to.” I smile, and my eyes fill with tears as I think of the Pink Swami. I had written him a song, specially for the seminar: “We all need heavenly, heavenly healing. Open your heart to the love….” It seems my caftan finally turned pink. And all I had to do was allow it to happen. Yes, God. Yes.
Shirlie Roden London August 2004
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