Joy Thomas, forgotten Sai Baba author
Posted by robertpriddy on February 13, 2014
I first met Raye Thomas, the husband of Joy Thomas, in 1985 at Prashanthi Nilayam. I was intrigued by seeing one of his feet had six toes and told him that Indians believed this kind of anomaly was very auspicious. So we got to know each other. Joy had just completed the draft her first book about Sai Baba (and herself) and was hoping for the (almost obligatory) Sai Baba’s blessing and signature on it before publishing.
In one of her five rambling books (Life is a Challenge. Meet it (1991) … p. 157f – click on thumbnail to zoom in), Joy Thomas wrote that Sai Baba seemed to ‘cure’ her of her chronic disability when Sai Baba made her leave her wheelchair in front of the steps up to the Kodaikanal interview room. But this was only temporarily, for everyone could observe that she still remained almost permanently tied to her wheelchair right up until the end of her days. Her other books were: Life is a Game. Play It. Tustin, Sathya Sai Book Center of America). 1989, Life is a Game. Play It. Tustin, Sathya Sai Book Center of America). 1989: Life is a Dream. Realize It. Beaumont, California, Ontic Press. 1992: Life is Love. Enjoy It. Beaumont 1994: Life is Awareness. Beaumont 1995
Joy Thomas became an apparent favourite of Sathya Sai Baba since he would speak to her often at darshan and grant many interviews. She became the President of the Cherry Creek Sathya Sai Centre in California, which was much publicized by her (since rebranded as ‘Cherry Creek Centre for Healing and Esthetics’ only accessible to registered members). For nearly two decades, Joy and Raye Thomas took groups from California to visit Sai Baba and these were accorded many interviews. Seeing how she was favoured by ‘Swami’, the ashram Seva staff always helped this wheelchair-bound VIP giving her prominent spots at darshan so that Sai Baba could see her right away. She was literally besotted with Sai Baba, more so than Raye) who took to wearing the largest set of huge, gaudy-looking rings with Sai Baba images on for all to see (he had got some made himself too!). Both of them struck me as most impressionable persons whose comments about Sai Baba and their relations with him were so fanciful as to be rather embarrassing to listen to. They also flaunted every book, card or other item he signed or blessed for them, and they repeatedly begged/pressed more and more things on him to sign. much like un self-conscious but spoilt children.
From handwritten notes I made in 1996 after hearing from two very close friends of Joy and Ray about their choice to move to Sai Baba’s ashram): 30 Dec. 1995 at Robert and Rita’s room in Prashanthi. Transcript in black text:
Rita told of Joy and Ray Thomas that they have moved into P.N. permanently, Sai having asked them 3 times “Do you really want to live here?” (and they answered 3 yesses!) Now they regret it bitterly – no peace at all, 2 tiny rooms (R 1 A4) and 24 hr building noise plus people who sit and talk outside etc. They had no medical insurance in the U.S.A., so thought they’d be safer here. But no one is allotted to push her wheelchair (in the ladies’ side etc.), so she has to hire a pusher.
She recently had some medical checks and there was something wrong with the platelets in the blood – possible/probably cancer. Sai, when asked if she was going to die, grabbed the X-rays and said powerfully,”She is not going to Die”
Joy Thomas was admitted to the Sathya Sai Specialty Hospital with cancer and was treated there for some time. However, she died from cancer just over 4 months later. Contributing to her condition was reported blood loss at the Sathya Sai Specialty Hospital due to refusal to give transfusions, possibly causing premature death. She was considerably obese, far more so than her heavily-built husband (who Sai Baba used to call her ‘has-been’, one of his standard laugh-raisers in interviews). She was flown back to the States before her death. She died back in California April 17, 1999. A blessing in disguise in the eyes of the devoted, but not in that of her husband.
The Thomases took up residence at Prashanthi ashram (at some considerable expense too!) in 1999. Sai Baba made critical remarks about Joy’s constant writing to the effect that she was not doing spiritual practice or service. Once there, they did not get much attention from him. One reason was that they did not qualify for health care in the USA and could not afford health insurance there… ironically enough they had full faith that Sai Baba’s hospital provided top quality free care.