Biographies > The Death of a Dream and a Gift of Truth


  Peter Holleran


    "A special transmission outside the scriptures; Not dependent upon words or letters; Directly pointing to the mind; Seeing into one's Nature and recognizing Buddhahood." - Bodhidharma

   "A man's whole destiny may hang upon one event, one decision, one circumstance. That single cause may be significant for all the years to follow." - Paul Brunton (PB) (1)

   "People often begin the spiritual life as an escape from the miseries of their worldly life. This is legitimate. It is the way we begin, but it is not the way we end. The ending, which is surrender, is the recognition that no escape is possible or needed. This means fully embracing whatever appears in consciousness rather than ignoring any of it." - Gangaji (1a)

   "Beware! Don’t despair if the Beloved turns you down. If He sends you away today, might He not call you to Himself tomorrow? If He shuts the door on you, wait there and don’t go away. After testing your patience, He will give you the seat of honor...He alone has the right to break, for He alone has the power to mend. He that knows how to sew together, knows how to tear apart; whatever He sells, He buys something better in exchange. He lays the house in ruins; then in a moment He makes it more livable than before." - Rumi

   "We are people of little faith and fail to recognize and appreciate the hand which guides and which sustains. Hazur (Baba Sawan Singh Ji) used to say that once a saint has taken a soul under his wing, he is keen to compress the progress of twenty births into a single one. And if we desire to pack the accomplishments of twenty lives into a single one, we must pay for it." - Sant Darshan Singh

   "The remedy is severe, but it needed nothing less to free us from ourselves and to storm the defensive walls of our pride. We wanted to die, but to die without any pain and in full health. We wanted to be tested, but only while looking on with conscious superiority to the trial...We must give all or nothing when God asks it. If we do not have courage to give, at least we can let him take." - Fenelon

   "Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." - Ps 127:1


   The following is highly personal and unique. It was written over the course of several decades, and represents the unfinished story of a soul, and thus is both a confession and prayer in written form. Being written over a long period of time, however, it also reflects points of view not necessarily held today, but are left in their present form to maintain the accuracy of the story. A key part of the character portrayed here has died, while in other areas there remains a work in progress. Some of this tale may surprise, frighten, or confuse an initiate on the path of Surat Shabd Yoga, the yoga of the 'Celestial Souher areas there remains a work in progress. Some of this tale may surprise, frighten, or confuse an initiate on the path of Surat Shabd Yoga, the yoga of the 'Celestial Sound Current' (for whom this story may be of particular interest), or alternately arouse pity for my own situation and dilemma. Such in fact has already been the case, but none of these results are intended! For others, satiated by their experience, weary of struggle or burdened with doubt, there may be a gleam of recognition and perhaps the answering of a question or two. Essentially, however, one should take this account as an example of the skillful means of a true Master in the early 1970's adapting his teaching and teaching methods to those who came to Him, and also of how things may work out differently than one expects, and what the meaning of that may be, in the mysterious play of God. In the end it is but one story, written with that of many in mind. It runs fairly long, but hopefully the reader will find it of value.

   In this I hope in some small way to tell my tale in the manner of Sufi master Irena Tweedie, who wrote in the introduction to her book, The Chasm of Fire:

   "Keep a diary," said my teacher. "One day it will become a book. But you must write in such a way that it should help others. People say, 'Such-and-such things did happen thousands of years ago because we read in books about them.' This book will be a proof that such things as are related do happen today, as they happened yesterday and will happen tomorrow - to the right people, in the right time and the right place." (1aa)


   The Beginning

   When I first came to the 'path', in 1970, at age twenty-one,it promised a way out of a life that, after a few carefree years (when memories and perceptions of celestial glory had not yet completely faded, and I still perceived a luminosity in the external world), seemed to become after about the age of nine or ten only inner pain and a dark enclosure of depression for the most part. I remember having a particular inner tightness before falling asleep at night and also in dreams, even at a very early age, maybe four or five, as if I could not cry out for help, for fear of something or other. This despite having a faith in God and feeling movement of the soul in the dream state and other times, and generally having a happy, outgoing and natural curiosity about nature and other people throughout my early life. As a child I once became curious upon hearing subtle musical sounds while pausing at a grotto walking beside a stream one day. Sometimes I would lay on the beach and, covering my face, see sunlight between my eyes not related to the sun outside. Long forgotten, these now have significance as an early premonitions or rememberings of my future spiritual path.

   At the same time I recall specifically looking at the adults around me, and sensing a grayness to their beings, a flatness, and then and there making a pledge to myself, like Peter Pan (one of my favorite characters from a play with Mary Martin) that I would 'never grow up' and become like that. In the innocence of childhood, I wondered why they couldn't see things as I still saw them and just be happy. I also sensed early on in life that I was here, not because of karma, as I was later 'taught', but only to love and help people.

   But, while I never grew up (!), I did inexorably become a lot like 'them', to my as yet unconscious horror. The Real quickly became stifled and frustrated. I believe the feeling of tightness or inner clenching I described may have started at a deep layer in the body at birth, or even before birth, or simply because of it, although no conscious memories or efforts to recall these events have as yet been successful. My astrologer said he had yet to meet a Pisces who wanted to be born. My physical birth was a late-night Caesarian due to a medical emergency known as placenta previa, undoubtedly a rude shock to the system. This feeling, I believe, covered over in later years by a fear of my father that kept me bottled up even more inside, became built into my body as a chronic emotional state. Although I loved my parents, sister, and grandparents very much, as stated after the age of ten or so I began to go dead inside. There was no fun anymore. I didn't know exactly how it happened, but the grandparents had died, their homes which were a great source of joy now gone, my father became angry and aloof, with periodic bouts of alcoholism, smoking and drinking in the dark, by himself, and my two parents basically just living together without affection. My older sister moved out, and I was essentially alone, except for a mother's love, in a tense household. The silences at dinner were deafening. It is amazing to look back and realize how a child often doesn't even recognize all of this, yet still suffers it internally.

   I distinctly remember one day at a friend's house in fifth grade having a subtle shift, a new sensation in my chest, one of dryness, implosion, restriction, a feeling of being cut off from feeling, which stayed with me thereafter. This, I later came to see, was a definite shift into neurosis. Also significant was a day in the fall walking home from school when a new sense of being all alone, almost cosmically alone, arose inside, which I can compare to the Japanese mood known as a-wa-re, a bittersweet sense of sadness at the transient nature of things. This was a feeling of spiritual nostalgia, signified lyrically by PB's words:

   "The dying autumn leave induce sad thoughts such as: we are only passengers travelling through this world." (1b)

   While I now sense this as a feeling emanating from former lives, at this young age it combined with a sense of psychological enclosure, and remained thereafter and later even crystalized into a form of 'identity'. I could retreat there and not suffer so much not being part of the crowd - whatever crowd I wanted to be a part of. Besides discovering a genuine desire for truth, I believe these feelings were a primary motivation for my studying philosophy in college, looking for answers to a primarily personal dilemma. I thus conclude that I escaped into my head to avoid the feelings in my body. The mystical teachings, in a more sophisticated but similar manner, seemed to justify such an approach in fact, which I now know is not the best way to begin spiritual life, although it is quite common and as a doorway not entirely wrong.

   There was alot of obsessive sexual desire that arose as a teenager, which was not true desire, but more a response to inner pain and contraction of life energy and emotion that I could not deal with, understand, or to a great extent even acknowledge or recognize. For the astrologers out there, a satisfactory explanation for this is a natal configuration of Moon in Scorpio square Pluto in the eighth house, a fixed square representing strong tendencies from previous lives that were now to be dealt with and come to peace with once and for all. Although this obsessive sexual craving was to go away in a seemingly miraculous fashion when I learned to meditate, it was still lying coiled inside waiting for resolution, as I was all too painfully to learn a few years later, when my ability to meditate was taken away. But sometimes I have felt that several years of compulsive masturbation as a teenager drained away whatever chance I had left at relatively easily accessing and resolving the volcanic emotional energies that had become bottled up inside of me yet were still so close to the surface. Such regret and imagination are useless, however, we all do what we do with what understanding and capability we have. My father's gruff and angry disposition, nevertheless, while not physically violent or abusive, kept the lid on my self-expression, and basically, I didn't know what was really happening to my psyche as I grew into my teen years. Four planets in Pisces - Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Mars - also made for an escapist disposition that was probably not all too pleased with the prospects of existing in a physical body - although, being in the third house, were to give me the inherited disposition towards all of this writing.

   Growing up in the 1950's I had a fascinating interest in the movies Dracula, THEM! (giant ants), The Incredible Shrinking Man (the closing soliloquy by lead character Grant Williams, "No matter how small I become, I am still a man, I still exist - I have found that the infinitesimally small to be the same as the infinitely large", impressed me with a sense of wonder), the Wizard of Oz, the Song of Bernadette, and especially Moses communing with God in The Ten Commandments. I was seven when I went to the red carpet premier of the latter at Lowes Theater in New Rochelle, and promptly got the paperback book and read all 400 pages. I did the same with the original version of Dracula, needing special permission to go into the adult section in the public library, and subsequently went around biting friends on the neck! Perhaps this wasn't so bad - after seeing THEM!, also in 1956, I took delight in burning ants with a match in my driveway - basically being your normal kid - noting the formic acid the movie had said was their characteristic smell.

   At sixteen, having avoided sunday school confirmation classes for four years, my father said I had to go. This was humiliating as the rest of the boys were only twelve. Plus, adding insult to injury, my friends were going to a Beach Boys concert the night of the actual confirmation. This created great resistance and resentment, the result being that I didn't sign my name in the church register at the end of the ceremony, and never went to church again. Oddly, no one at home ever questioned my judgement. But how I ended up there in the first place is rich (not): you see, my father never went to church (when asked why, he just said, "I have my own particular reasons"), mother was Lutheran, while I was sent to the Methodist church where my best friend went, I guess because it was convenient. [I never found out what the "method" was]. When challenging my father for the reason why I needed to go to confirmation when he didn't even go to church, he said, "well, we wanted to give you a chance." Give me a chance - Jeeesus!

   Still, I loved my Dad deep down, and was always eager to find out as much about him as I could, including what he thought, how his mind worked, what he was working on (in the late-fifties it was bomb shelters), and so forth. I would read any of the notes on his desk and dresser, as well as books from his bookshelves. And so, while as an adolescent a big part of me was attracted to every lusty book or magazine I could get my hands on, other sides of my experience and inclinations seemingly reveal past life influences in an opposite direction. In 1961, twelve years old and in seventh grade, I read from my father's collection a book called Drugs on the Mind by Robert S. DeRopp. He was later to write The Master Game. I'm not exactly sure if my dad had read it, I don't recall asking him, but it did lead me to write a social studies paper on heroin, speed, and marijuana ("from pep to pot to horse, right down the junky road" was a pop slogan of the day). This was long before recreational drugs became popular in my neighborhood. Two years later, on the other hand, I found myself writing a lengthy paper on "The Contemplative Orders of Monasticism". I was strangely attracted to the monks, in particular the Carthusians, with their all-night devotional schedule in solitary cells. Then, in 1965 at 16 my English term paper was, "The Psychedelic Experience", inspired by an article in The New York Times Magazine by an unknown named Dr. Timothy Leary and called "The Five Levels of Consciousness" - from the alcoholic level all the way up to the fifth level, 'pre-cellular flash'. That really sounded cool, and I think planted a seed of inquiry about philosophic matters that gradually began to fructify in earnest a couple of years later. Finally, as a high school senior I was assigned to write a thesis on the 'perfect state', in which - in my naivete - I concluded like Plato that the philosophers would be the rulers. I certainly am not an advocate of that position now, but for this effort I got lavish praise from my (unknown to me) liberal history teacher.

   At Cornell, which I entered in the fall of 1967, I soon became interested in studying philosophy. The discipline at that institution, while the most prestigious philosophy department among the Ivy League schools, was a really distorted, snooty, holier than thou approach which was called "doing philosophy." This was exemplified by course titles such as "philosophy of literature," "philosophy of history", philosophy of mathematics," "philosophy of language," and even "philosophy of logic." The king among philosophers virtually worshipped by the department was Ludwig Wittgenstein. Not the pursuit of truth, but linguistic analysis was the name of the game. To a naive young student this all was quite intriguing and intimidating. I was convinced these professors knew something that I didn't, and that we were involved in a real quest for knowledge. We studied Bertrand Russell, A. J. Ayer, E.G. Moore, and the "British empiricists" (Berkeley, Locke, and Hume). This heady approach to a noble subject was epitomized by a thirty-five page article that appeared in the philosophy department's journal entitled, "The Meaning of the Word 'The'." In addition, the only professor teaching courses that closely symbolized anything like real philosophy - that of the ancient Greeks - was denied tenure as being not "rigorous enough". By my junior year I had amassed fifty-five credit hours in philosophy, enough for two majors, and was headed towards a career path in the same. All of this came crumbling down at a rapid rate when two factors entered my life.

   Aside from the fact that a little hashish and a few acid trips made this type of analytical game seem somewhat empty (!), I happened onto the writings of Paul Brunton (PB), in particular, A Search in Secret India and the Wisdom of the Overself. This was like a nuclear bomb in my thinking. India, oh India! Even the subjective idealism of Bishop Berkeley, which I had tediously studied, was given new life by Paul Brunton's doctrine of mentalism. The world was in our minds, an idea, and a projection of God or Mind itself, which could be realized. What amazing thoughts! There was a philosophy that was real, and rooted in truth, and more than just the endeavor of some pipe smoking arm-chair intellectuals!

   Second, after dozing off one day in an easy chair in the student lounge, I awoke to find a copy of The Crown of Life: A Study in Yoga by Sant Kirpal Singh in my lap, along with information on public "satsangs" being held nearby on the path of Sant Mat, or the "Path of the Masters". The picture on the frontspiece of this book struck me as a numinous image of what a man of God would look like. My world did a 180 degree turn. I coasted in my last year and a half at Cornell taking painting and drawing, music, and "Independent Research in Mathematics 590", which was really astrology at the downtown American Brahman spiritual bookstore, courtesy of a very liberal mathematics professor associated with Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies, who will remain unnamed in case he is still teaching.

   After thus awakening to the possibility of spiritual realization and studying many eastern doctrines, including Sant Mat, I became very disciplined and channelled all of my energies and neurosis into that spiritual path as I understood it. Meditation on the inner light and sound appealed to me, but I now realize that a major part of that appeal was because, as opposed to other teachings, such as Zen or Vipassana, Shabd Yoga promised a way OUT of the body, and thus perfectly fit my need for release, based on a felt discomfort IN the body. I am not saying it is not a legitimate path, since we all leave the body one day, only that my pain was a major reason for my decision to pursue it. I have since come to realize that all seekers do not feel that way, nor is their experience of the path felt that way, nor even do all paths speak of the way or the ultimate goal in those escapist terms.

   One morning in early 1970 I made a conscious decision to give up sex, drugs (which I had only experimented with a handful of times, and see as having been a part of my search, like many of my generation), and become a strict vegetarian. This became easy, even overnight easy, as I felt an influx of ascending grace enter my being once I made contact with Kirpal Singh, which was long before I ever saw him in person. I didn't fully appreciate his gift, assuming that my apparent initial successes at that path was largely due to my own efforts.

   Soon afterwards while reading in the college library at Cornell one day I discovered that all of a sudden my attention seemed centered in a different part of my head, more abstracted and interiorized, deeper towards the center, so that one-pointed inner concentration became possible. I began to take up a meditation practise and some inner light began to appear once in a while, and some inner sound, too. In Surat Shabd Yoga, or various Radhasoami paths, the light and sounds are considered to be the two primal manifestations emanating from God, responsible for the entire creation of all the worlds, and concentrating ones attention on them led one back to the Godhead, with the help of a master of that path. In the late '60's and early '70's, it appeared to be the premier spiritual path among seekers and Sant Kirpal Singh the supreme Master of the time.

   At my actual initiation by Kirpal Singh in December, 1970 (conducted by the master's representative Ruth Seader, whose son Richard was my roommate at college for a year), I didn't experience much of any inner light, but the Masters say the real initiation is the thought transference from the Master, and a fair amount of things started to happen. Several significant sleep experiences of sound including a loud pealing of the big bell overhead (which I know heralds the threshold of death and passage to the astral plane (the first of many inner planes of consciousness the soul passes through on its 'journey' back to itself in its pristine purity) but in its ecstatic quality intuitively felt like a flashback to the time of my birth or thereabouts) and a transport without sight over what sounded and smelled like a meadow of celestial bees, and a sound current that, in daily life, was always there, offered hope for the future. I also once had an audible preview of a hell realm experience, wherein I sensed my soul or attention begin to be dragged DOWN, wherever that is, and I heard ball and chain ghoulish sounds and groans coming from that place, if indeed it was a place. "Simran" (mantra repetition of the "five charged names corresponding to the deities of the five major inner planes) and desperate calling on the Master seemed to bring me back from the brink, awakening in a sweat. I actually had quite a few somewhat frightening experiences when upon falling asleep I felt an inner, downward pull before quickly reawakening. Later reading confirmed to me that while such things as 'hells' do exist, but are generally considered to be lower astral realms, and generally subjective states at that, a few mystics actually talk of them being 'below' the earth - wherever that means.

   I and many others also noted the smell of the archtypal rose, especially later when in Kirpal Singh's presence. There was also one spontaneous experience of partial withdrawal from the body in meditation during the day where I felt, not that I was going anywhere, but just that I was resolving into myself. Most meditations were not of this quality where the ego was so quiescent, but this time I had a glimpse that inner experience would not truly be happening to "me" , just a dropping away of vehicles or koshas (the various bodies or coverings of the soul) while the real Self remained unchanged. That insight was remembered as unique, and planted a seed of inquiry in my mind regarding the concept of "soul travel" as sometimes understood in such mystic paths as Sant Mat. My current understanding is that the value of such an exerience lies not in the experience in itself, in its repeatability, but in the wisdom gained thereby in terms of the transformation of one's sense of identity. I realize that in a real sense there is nowhere to go and no one to go anywhere. But that is now, not then.

   I applied myself diligently to the teachings and meditation, as best as I understood them, many hours more than the minimum, as much as five and sometimes even ten hours a day, and felt His presence in many subtle ways. Looking back, I think there were nights when I would sit at the foot of my bed meditating and later wake up in the bed. As naive as it sounds I sometime believe that the Master must have carried me.

   I realize now, however, how unprepared I was for initiation according to traditional criteria and that it was only His grace for accepting me. But the dispensation then was, contrary to that of the ancients, "initiation first, purity later". Nevertheless, I longed to develop love for the Master as described in the writings of the saints and to become receptive to Him. During Kirpal Singh's 1972 U.S.A. tour I felt His radiation and grace and received many loving glances, but still, had great difficultly going inside, and remember having an awful feeling in my body, which by that time I had had for years. The inner knot was so strong that the only times I ever had any apparently fruitful meditations, especially in the mornings, were if I would almost fall asleep thereby forgettng the body momentarily.

   Only His inward-drawing spiritual grace provided any relief in the form of my bypassing the karmas of this body and feeling any better. And that experience re-enforced the teachings of this path that maintained that going within was the only way to feel good and have any peace. In the meantime, however, the teaching provided little at all in the way of a sadhana or practise to deal with the karmas of the body and psyche which were causing most of my pain, teaching only a meditation to bypass all of that, which in turn, however, I now see, made appreciable genuine spiritual progress difficult. This has been, in fact, warned about in the mystic literature for centuries, but I didn't know of any of that at the time. As mentioned, I had never felt good in the body itself, which many people do seem capable of, despite its impermanence. In retrospect I realize that at the time I had little real love or true feeling and was very self-centered, due to some kind of core wound and despite my best spiritual efforts. It is also obvious that my ego had only taken on another cloak, a spiritual one, that in itself would prevent any real awakening (jnana), true meditation, or even feeling. But back then such insights didn't exist for me. Books like "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had not yet come out, nor had the non-dualists arrived, nor had various the 'body-centered' therapies appeared.

   Before my initiation, and off and on afterwards, I was a visitor, as mentioned, to the American Brahman Bookstore in Ithaca, New York, where Anthony Damiani (later founder of Wisdom s Goldenrod) held regular classes and meditations with students from Cornell and the surrounding area. I had read Paul Brunton's works to date, including The Search in Secret India, The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, and The Wisdom of the Overself, and many other texts such as Ashtavakra Gita, Talks with Ramana Maharshi, etc., which raised many questions in my mind even at that stage about the nature of realization, the distinction between the heart chakra and the causal Heart center on the right side spoken of by Ramana that was said to be the root source of the individual self or "I-thought" , the idea of mentalism (in short, that all is a manifestation within Mind), the relationship between the traditional forms of samadhi or trance states, particularly nirvikalpa (ascended formless absorption) and sahaj (the "natural state"), the hierarchy of planes of creation spoken of in Sant Mat, the nature of the ultimate goal itself, and even the Zen concept of makyo, or that all lights and sounds are psychic illusion and not to be given attention to. There seemed many valid questions in my mind that might determine the nature of the sadhana or practice to be adopted and the understanding to be cultivated, even though I as yet had achieved nothing spiritually. As I could not resolve these myself I wrote to Kirpal Singh twice for answers to what I thought were legitimate questions. The first correspondence had the naivite to ask whether or not I should follow an 'official path'. Now, Kirpal had made an extensive self-study of the English language as a youth, and had quite an elaborate vocabulary. He wrote back with an arrow from his quiver and said that Sant Mat was not an 'official' path, but rather, an 'authentic' path: 'ancient, eternal, and authentic'! Stymied, the second time I wrote I sent an extensive several page list of metaphysical questions, numbered sequentially. I asked about everything above, as well as the teachings of Ramana, Aurobindo, the nature of lights and visions, sahaj, the Void, and more. He replied as follows (excerpted):

   "Vivek or discrimination will come to you on its own as you progress on the Path and not by intellection. No body has ever solved nor can solve the riddle of life logically or philosophically. You have to resolve it by dissolving yourself into it. That in brief is the secret of success on the Path - and it will be enough for you to understand and assimilate it. It does not mean that there is no answer to your enquiries. but natural unfoldment is better and more stable than worldly exposition, for words, as you know, are too poor to expound the Worldless Word in all its details and any attempt to do so is likely to make confusion worse confounded in the brain already at a feverish white-heat pitch. Maulana Rumi, in his famous Masnavi goes to the extent of saying:

   It is not fitting that I tell thee more,

   For the Stream-bed cannot hold the sea.

   I, for one, do not mean to striffle your honest questions re your personal difficulties on the Path...All I wish to convey to you is that it is not possible to know everything of the Divine Path when you hardly know yet what you are and who you are.

   Self-Realization is just a half-way house in the Path of God-Realization. When you have grasped the human in you, you will automatically know what is what and be able to understand and reconcile what other Mahatmas and other great souls like Shankaracharya, Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi and Shri Aurobindo and Baba Jaimal Singh said, each in his own good time and on particular occasions. Unless you rise to their stature and visualise the times and climes in which they spoke, the time and tenor of the people whom they spoke, you will just be making hazardous guesses only on the level of your intelligence. Unless you see the Midnight Sun, nothing will be clear to you.

   I would, in your overall interest, advise you to unburden yourself of all the mental load on your head and like a little child start afresh and do things, carefuly avoiding all the shoals and sandbanks in the Sea of Spirituality lest you get bogged in the way. Cosmic and Super-cosmic consciousness are much higher states. Self-consciousness comes first and foremost. It is the foundation and the bed-rock and must, therefore, be strengthened to raise the super-structure thereon.

   Self-enquiry for instance is just the same thing as self-knowledge . In both , one has to go deep into the essence lying below the ego-consciousness. The lights and sounds to be avoided as taught by some sages [this referred to my question of the Zen concept of "makyo"] are those of the elementals, arising from concentration on the bodily centers below the eyes, and associated with different elements of which the body is composed.

   Again, the eye-focus is the seat of the soul. Some call it the heart-centre because the heart is the central organ in the body, maintaining and sustaining the entire system. The heart-lotus of the Saints is the Aggya-chakra above the white sepulcher of the body. Do you not realise that when a person wakes up after sleep, eyes are the first to awaken and become conscious of the surroundings and gradually the consciousness travels below bringing into activity the lower sense organs?  
[Ramana Maharshi stated things differently, saying that first there is a moment of awakeness (reality), then the birth of the 'I'-thought, then the I-thought and the light of the Self travels upwards to the brain from the Heart (not to be confused with the heart chakra), before manifesting as, or spreading downwards to, the body and world]

   Yes, any chakra can be used as the means of concentration but why not use the highest - the one lying above the body where you are sitting at the intersection of the physical and subtle, the time and the Timeless and push headlong above instead of descending to one or the other of the centres below the eyes and then start afresh from below?

   The Void, the 4 different types of Samadhis with varying stages in each, the Nirvana and so many other terms are highly technical for you at this stage to grasp fully. As a novitiate one should be content with the simple problems just as two and two make four and take them for granted. As to why and wherefrom of each thing, it will come in due course like an open book.

   I may like you to be patient and persevering for the present. Your all encompassing desire for understanding will surely have its chance one day....

   With all love and kind thoughts, yours affectionately,
          Kirpal Singh."


   While this reply certainly was a realistic assessment of my condition as far as it goes, it did not directly answer my questions, especially the chief ones regarding the path of ascent versus the path of jnana or direct Self-Knowledge, or the transcendental Heart versus the Sushumna (the subtle yogic channel parallel to the spinal column), the ajna-chakra (or "spiritual or third eye"), and the higher worlds. The "Self-enquiry" of the Maharshi is obviously a very specific practice and not simply "the same thing as self-knowledge", which Kirpal did not really explain. The letter was mildly disappointing. As the reader will see as this confession unfolds, however, he might have more accurately answered me in the words of the poet Ranier Maria Rilke, for this is how things were to turn out on my path with Him and afterwards:

   "I would like to beg you
   to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
   and try to love the questions themselves
   as if they were locked rooms or books in a very foreign language.
   Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now,
   because you would not be able to live them.
   And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
   Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
   you will gradually, without even noticing it,
   live your way into the answer."


   He never answered my questions, or more importantly, didn't give me the answers I wanted, but the reply was part of a momentum that would eventually lead me to 'question the questioner'. But that time was still a ways off.

   [Upon re-reading the letter thirty years later the question I had on the 'elementals', seemed to become somewhat clearer (which the interested reader can decide for theirself!) in light of a passage found in the book, The Magus of Strovolos. (1c)]

   In spite of the fact that my major queries remain unanswered, I nevertheless accepted the wisdom of trying to relax the white-heat pitch in my brain and row in one boat on the path of Sant Mat. The archtype of the great Guru, the great Light and the great Ecstasies, obviously far beyond my present experience, were too much for the still, small voice inside calling for a counterbalancing rational as well as intuitive understanding, as well as my lack of ability to feel in a truly human way, and I shelved it for a time. But I kept hearing its whisper here and there in episodes that spoke to me, some involving my guru. When members of the future Wisdom's Goldenrod joined me in seeing Kirpal Singh when he came on tour in 1972, I noticed how different his responses were to our questions. Gary Borgida, a friend of mine, went up to him and asked, or rather expressed uncertainty, about whether he should take initiation or not. Kirpal briskly dispatched him with, " you have to make up your own mind!" To another, who respectfully asked for his grace, he said, "you are drowning in it already." I thought that was interesting, and a hint at recognizing their budding advaitic or non-dual understanding. [Ramana Maharshi once replied to a devotee with almost the exact same words: "D: Does Bhagavan feel for us and show Grace? M: You are neck-deep in water and yet cry for water. It is as good as saying that one neck-deep in water feels thirsty, or a fish in water feels thirsty, or that water feels thirsty."] To others who pointed out that T.S. Khanna, devoted representative of the master, had commented that PB was a rogue , and Ramana Maharshi, just a yogi, Kirpal Singh was quick to point out that he himself never said such things. All these little things percolated below the surface of my mind thereafter.

   Paul Cash, a student of Damiani's and co-editor of the voluminous Notebooks of Paul Brunton series, told me an interesting story of a conversation he witnessed between Richard Seader and Anthony, circa 1969. Richard's mother Ruth had discovered the path and told Richard of Master Kirpal. Richard had heard that there was a man in downtown Ithaca who had a spiritual bookstore who knew something about these matters. He asked his friend Paul Cash to go with him to ask if he thought he should take initiation from Kirpal Singh. As Paul told me:

   "Richard was at that time of at least two minds about whether to go through with his scheduled initiation. He asked Anthony if he knew of Master Kirpal. Anthony [an advanced student of philosophic matters and one who had attained stabilized awareness of the Witness state, a major transitional state on the way to realization of sahaj samadhi - but which he also described as "peace, peace, peace"], asked Richard why he wanted to know. Richard gave his explanation, and then the fun began (at least for me, if not for Richard). I'd never seen anything like it. Anthony was at once totally critical and totally kind. Everything he asked Richard was pointed and challenging, but delivered with a constructive energy.

   It started with Anthony pretty much bombarding Richard with something to the effect of, "What makes you think he's a Master? How would YOU know a Master if you bumped into one on the street? ....and so on. He went up and down Richard's assumptions like a guy scraping paint off a house. HOW would your mother KNOW? How would YOU know if your mother knew? ...etc. Don't you know how many phonies there are out there and how much harm they do?" .....

   Not much later Richard seemed befuddled, with no more comebacks, and no more answers, just one huge question looming - or at least it seemed to me.

   Then Anthony told him, in the kindest, warmest voice I'd ever heard, "Well, this time you're lucky. You've stumbled across the real thing. If he's willing to take you in, you should accept and count yourself very fortunate." - or words to that affect."

   This simple story has relevance because of the way Sant Kirpal was to treat me, which, I am now certain, was with awareness of, or sensitivity to, my background with Anthony and the teachings of sages like Ramana and PB, and the kind of path I was being readied for in this incarnation. But enough of this, for now our high drama begins in earnest.


   A Prophetic Dream

   One night in early 1973 I had a peculiar dream. Out of nowhere I suddenly felt to be in an empty space, all alone. A hole in my solar plexus or abdomen opened, and a stream of what was intuited as my life-essence proceeded to gush forth from within. The sense of aloneness was epiphanic, and the words, "I am going to die!" spontaneously came out of my mouth. This dream was very strange and I forgot about it. Somewhat later that year I began to feel something happening to me. I can only describe it as an inner rotting . It was as if my attention or soul current was slowly but surely beginning to be diffused out into the body from its habitually more collected position and I felt like I was being drained. There was nothing I was doing to cause this to happen. It was as if a bathtub plug had been pulled, and the water began to run out. [Even today, the process seems to have been continued. I couldn't - and can't - get back "in". There seems to be no 'inside' anymore]. My life was as disciplined, if neurotically so, as ever, I didn't start drinking, partying, having lots of ( or, at this time, even any) sex or watching hours and hours of TV. If anything, I redoubled my efforts at meditation, but no matter how hard I tried, I could feel myself over the course of several months being dragged down and out, at first somewhat imperceptibly, then quite obviously and painfully. When I say "down and out" , it is not like I had achieved going very far " in and up" (!) , but at least, the yogic stage of pratyahara or withdrawal from the senses had been achieved to a degree through his grace and my efforts, and meditation or dhyana (one-pointed concentration) had a chance. Now it started to become impossible, although that conclusion was as yet too horrible for me to accept. Therefore, in August of that year I went to Sawan Ashram, Delhi, India, thinking that this disaster was something that the physical company of Master Kirpal would remedy. Little did I know what lay ahead.

   Upon arriving at the New Delhi airport, no one was there to meet me, but I got a first taste of Indian customs: haggling. Several cabbies jumped at the chance of having my business. "How much to Sawan Ashram in Shakti Nagar?" I asked. Relies came out, "only 75 rupees" - "oh, 50 rupees, cheap!" - "take me, just 35 rupees!" Sensing a bargain I accepted the last offer. Making my way past a group of Guru Maharaj Ji devotees (the Guru has apparently just been there), I got into the cab, where the driver's partner soon afterwards opened my suitcase and asked if he could buy a pair of my western jeans. He also wanted the bell-bottomed trousers I was wearing! I firmly resisted his entreaties, and after a rickety ride was dropped off at the ashram gates. I later learned that a proper fare for the ride should gave been only 15 rupees!

   The Play Begins

   How little I knew of the ways of the Masters! Nearly every preconception I had about the path and the guru was undermined over the course of the next three months. I will try to recount some of the events of that time now, however inadequate my understanding and interpretation may be.

   My first meeting presaged the theme of the entire stay: there was no place to hide. A small group of westerners including myself arrived one evening at Dehra Dhun, Master's retreat in the foothills of the Himalayas. We sat at His feet, and I placed myself in the back and was painfully shy and very quiet as he spoke one after another to each new guest. I was embarrassed at my lack of spirituality and the feeling I had done something wrong to have become in such an arid state after several years of devoted meditation, and I guess inside I just didn't feel he could possibly love me the way I felt at the time. I had no insight then that this was a core psychological feeling of mine as well. When everyone had been greeted and spoken to except me, he kind of looked over the head of the small group and asked, "is there anyone else? any one else new here?" - as if he didn't know. Someone pushed me forward, and he effusively said something like "hello," or "welcome, my friend", etc, etc.. Little did I know what was to unfold in the days to follow.

   Those whose only introduction to the word 'guru' is from the popular media may not appreciate what that term really applies. There has been so much fraud and abuse even, that it has become almost a dirty word these days. Yet a true guru or spiritual master , and there are very few, is not a mere man - although he is that, too, usually a very refined and noble man (or woman) - but rather a vast presence, one who has died to self or ego in a major way so as to be a conduit for superior spiritual forces and an embodiment of consciousness-truth. He may or may not have extraordinary powers, or he might, but he possesses the ability to guide and even liberate ripe souls from their hypnotic, unenlightened state, through the divine power flowing through him, and the reality-consciousness he embodies. This doesn't happen gratuitously or as if by magic, but through a mature relationship between the prepared disciple and a master with knowledge, integrity, and spiritual agency. Such a relationship endures beyond this life. That, anyway, is the orientation I carried with me during my experiences recounted here.

   The process that had been going on for months, to my increasing shock, only continued in His company, even at the daily satsangs or gatherings. We were taught to gaze in the Master's eyes ("eyes are the windows of the soul") and the radiation would drag us within, into better and deeper meditations. Indeed, that had been the experience of most, including myself. My present experience, however, was the exact opposite: I was dragged OUT more and more, to an even more arid and helpless condition. My eyes began to burn. There was no one I could talk to, all signs pointed to something terribly going wrong, and who could I blame? I wasn't doing anything to cause this, and the Master wouldn't do such a thing, as far as I understood the teaching, and my faith was being sorely tried because, if he didn't know what was going on, what hope was there for me? This went on for the entire three months I was there. For one who had begun to enjoy some fruits of inner meditation and communion, this was an extremely uncomfortable state to be pushed into. Even before initiation I could meditate, but now it was nearly, and soon to become totally, impossible.

   In the midst of this, there developed quite a drama about my case in the Master's company. Some incidents and the Master's words were amusing in retrospect, but the overall process for me at the time was torture and the soul's worst nightmare. Yet the Beloved gave me much attention, and kept saying, "my friend, I have so much love for you, won't you let me help you?" He kept calling me his special friend, which at the time, Russell Perkins (long-time devotee , editor of Sat Sandesh magazine and manager of Sant Bani Ashram in New Hampshire), who was present, thought to be significant, as the Master was said to be careful with his use of words. (Interestingly, I think I also read a conversation of Him saying once, "I have no friends." I know the Masters eventually say everything, depending upon who they are talking to, but I have thought about that remark from time to time, considering it unusual). He also said to the people there that I was in a 'hospital', something I thought odd to say but now see as appropriate - and which has in fact been a frequently used metaphor by many spiritual masters and spiritual traditions of the past. According to the Orthodox Church Fathers, spirituality is actually considered to be a branch of medicine - not philosophy!

   I had little knowledge of the writings of the so-called "Friends of God", such as Fenelon or Jean-Pierre deCaussade, or I might have had a sobering reaction to being referred to by this name. Fenelon writes:

   "I have no doubt that our Lord will always treat you as one of his friends. That is, he will send you crosses, sufferings, and humiliations. These ways and means that God makes use of to draw souls to himself do this work much better and more quickly than the creature's own efforts. That is because the very fact that it is God's action alone at work is destructive to self-love and tears up the roots that we cannot even uncover without great difficulty. But God, who knows all the secret lurking places of self-love, immediately proceeds to attack it in its stronghold, and on its own ground."

   and

   "Let him turn a severe and displeased countenance upon you as much as he will, he never loves you more than when he threatens. For he threatens only to detach souls from themselves. Do you want the consolations God can give, or do you want God himself? If it is the first, then you do not want God for his own sake, but for yours, and in that case, you deserve nothing from him...When he comforts you, you have cause to fear that you might care more for the gifts than for himself, but when he deals roughly with you and you hold fast, it is to him that you cling...God does his part when he pushes you away. Try to do yours, too, and that is to love him without wanting for him to assure you of his love for you. Your love is a guarantee of his; your confidence will disarm him, and turn all his severity into kindness."

   To which deCaussade adds:

   "For this soul is now, as it were, undergoing a cure, in order that it may regain its health - it's health being God Himself."

   And

   "There is no intelligence or power in the world capable of wresting from the hand of God a soul He has seized in the rigor of His mercy to purify it by suffering."

   (Depending on our point of view, the latter statement might even let the Master 'off the hook' for what was happening, but such distinctions - between God and Master - it seems to me are truly beyond our powers of understanding).

   One of the first things to happen soon after arriving at the ashram, which I hear is not uncommon, was that I got very sick with some form of dysentery. This had me prostrate on my back for several days with another crippling blow to my meditation. Dr. Moolraj gave me some pills big enough for a horse. People around me told me just concentrate within , etc., etc to avoid the pain. Though somewhat delerious, I told them I had read a story of some devotee who tried to leave his body to avoid such karmas, and how his guru made him come down to endure them in the body. I recently located this reference in The Wheel of Life (Sant Bani Press, 1980 edition, p. 21, 31-32), by Kirpal Singh:

   "The moment [a competent spiritual Master] accepts an individual as His own, He takes in His own Hand the process of liquidating the endless process of Karma coming down from the untold past...all Karmic debts are to be paid and their accounts squared here and now, and the speedier it is done, the better, instead of keeping any outstanding balances to be paid hereafter. In the time of Hazrat Mian Mir, a great Muslim devout and mystic, it is said that one of his disciples Abdullah, when down with an ailment, withdrew his sensory currents to the eye-focus and closed himself safely in the citadel of peace. His Master Mian Mir when He visited him, pulled Abdullah down to the body consciousness and ordered him to pay what was due from him for he could not indefinitely evade the payment by such tactics."

   Now Mian Mir was no small mystic. When the great Sikh guru Arjan Dev was being tortured to death on hot plates, his close friend Mian Mir offered to 'raze the entire Mogul empire to the ground!' with his esoteric powers. The great Guru replied, "Don't you know that I also could do it? But the path of the saints is the path of sweet surrender. Ours is the path of 'sweet is thy will.' " (Darshan Singh, Satsandesh, S.K. Publications, Bowling Green, VA: June, 1984, pp. 2-3). So Mian Mir had received schooling in divine mercy, and also knew something about eradicating karma's.

   When they relayed my reply to Sant Kirpal I was told that He laughed. Now, I do not for sure know why he laughed, whether from delight at recognition of my insight (or of my making note of an obscure passage from one of his books), or whether due to my ignorance. I tend to believe, however, based on my intuition of the meaning of my entire stay there, that he knew in some manner what I was feeling and was not disappointed with what I said. Years later I read from several teachers that unfulfilled desires are one reason we incarnate, and this not only in a negative sense; that is, there are positive desires that we have that need a kind of fulfillment. Key desires (as well as questions, too) must eventually be fulfilled/answered, or we can not leave this plane. This concept runs contrary to the traditional teaching that one must simply 'kill out desire', or that satisfying certain desires is like 'pouring fuel onto a fire'. To some extent that is true, but it is also true that deep human desires - such as the need for a relationship, or to achieve certain goals - may need expression. And when such desires are no more, one need not incarnate here again. [Of course, one may well ask why one wanted to never incarnate here again - isn't that rather selfish? Are we only here to get out of here?! Brunton wrote that the carrot on a stick of liberation from the earth is held out as an incentive until one attains spiritual maturity and then realizes that he may incarnate indefinitely for the sake of others and the divine plan. The only difference being that he will do so enlightened instead of in ignorance. But it is a form of sacrifice nevertheless. Anyway, Kirpal once wrote:

   "If a Master were to take a disciple up without his debts being fully paid up [or key desires fulfilled, or otherwise worked out of one's system], these same debts would become an obstacle to further progression - because the disciple would not like to remain in the world, but be forever immersed in the inner bliss."

   I later thought how paradoxical this use of language is; that is, one is taught that being immersed in inner bliss is almost the goal itself, but here it is, imo, hinted that there is a greater purpose in being in a body. Further, this period of illness made me ponder two different approaches to dealing with pain. One is a yogi way of withdrawing from one's outer senses in order to avoid it, and the other being the way of the jnani, or sage, of experiencing but not identifying with it. As Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon said:

   "Avoiding pain, by directing the mind away from the pain, is yogic in character. But becoming the pain, or standing as witness to that pain, is purely jnanic." (Notes on Spiritual Discourses.

   Kirpal, depending on the occasion, seemed to take either of these paths, but, of course, I myself was capable of neither, although still thought about their implications. I had seen Sant Kirpal groaning in pain, or functioning at seeming full capacity in spite of the pain, but also read stories of his operation, etc., where he willfully withdrew his soul to avoid the need for anaesthesia. Ramana Maharshi, on the other hand, suffered near the end of his life, but said that he no longer had the will or vikalpa to do anything about the pain. He said there was suffering but that he was not identified with the one who suffered. This is an arguable point. Both Ramana and Sri Nisargadatta near the end of their life showed signs of intense pain, Ramana with vocal groans at night when the crowds left, and Sri Nisargadatta who admitted that his pain was intolerable. Nevertheless, Ramana said:

   "A jnani is as indifferent to death as to life. Even if his physical condition should be the most wretched, even if he should be stricken with the most painful disease and die rolling on the ground, shrieking in pain, he remains unaffected. He is the jnani." (2)

   That seemed to suggest a higher stage than yogic withdrawal from the body or world, although still somewhat out of reach for mere mortals like myself.

   The Master at the satsang gatherings in regards to my meditations repeatedly kept asking me if things were hopeless yet, and if not, to just keep trying. "Going strong, my friend? Going strong? No? Feeling weak? Feeling withered? Hopeless? Is it hopeless yet? No? Not hopeless yet? Well then, if there's hope, keep trying!" He was to use a flower as a metaphor for my meditation by asking me if my flower was going strong, or was all withered. I will explain the meaning of this shortly. While He said everything lovingly and with a twinkle in His eyes, that did little to lessen the inner pain I was experiencing. The flower had been something he had given out one day to anyone who promised to sit all night in meditation, and I hesitated, because I feared the task was impossible for me, as I had become spiritually so dry inside by that point, but when he asked me to take a flower, I accepted. But I really feared the oncoming of the night. After an hour or two meditating I lay down for a minute to rest my back, but then fell asleep and woke up the next morning! Ordinarily this would not raise too many eyebrows, but to my inner state at the time it was then a big deal. I was actually afraid of going to the gathering that morning. At satsang he eventually got around to me and asked me what happened, and when I told him I had fallen asleep he said, "you are making a mockery of the path!"

   When I got back to my room, the flower, fresh even that morning, indeed had prematurely withered markedly. Henry Suso once used this same word:

   "...hitherto thou hast floated in Divine sweetness, like a fish in the sea; this will I now withdraw from thee, and thou shalt starve and wither."


   And St. John of the Cross likewise spoke of:

   "...being exhausted, withered, and thoroughly tried in the fire of this dark contemplation."

   So there must be something to it. Of course, the ego would never choose this, and is, apparently, in revolt until the bitter end, whereas de Caussade lovingly tell us that

   "When God bestows this grace on a soul, it has hardly anything else to do than endure in peace this harsh operation, and to bear this gift of God in the profound interior silence of respect, adoration, and submission. This is your task: in one sense a very easy one, since it means nothing more than to act as a sick person confined to his bed, and in the hands of his doctor and surgeon he will suffer quite patiently in the expectation of a complete cure. You are in the same kind of position, in the hands of the great and charitable Physician of our souls, and with a better founded certainty of a cure."

   After this satsang was over, now one or two months into a three-month stay, I remember standing there like a lost puppy, crushed and dejected, and I then remember Him motioning to the remaining gathering to get out of the way, separating those in front of Him before he took his leave for the day, opening a corridor as it were between Him and me, then stepping forward and telling me, with the sweetest, most imploring look on his face, "I have so much love for you, my friend." This brought me sweet and bitter anguish because, at the time, I could feel no comfort in His words. If it were just a matter of the Guru playing with my head, that would have not been so bad, and in retrospect sweetly remembered, but my soul was getting undermined at the same time in a profound way, and the suffering was undeniable. After that meeting, I even stayed in my room some mornings, because I felt like garbage, and with no experience in meditation but increasing barrenness and aridity, felt impure and unworthy. I realize now that all of my attention was on myself and staying away was not the right move at all, but that was just the way it was. True, I didn't understand the rudiments of the path, or the ways of the masters; even so, it was a mistake. deCaussade wrote on this tendency:

   "It is not grace but self-love that makes you keep away from Communion in order to escape the tortures and agonies that the soul endures by God's permission, to destroy in it this same miserable self-love. Go then without fear and even with a kind of joy to bear the interior operations that are so purifying and so sanctifying. The most wonderful good effects will be experienced eventually; effects that God hides from the soul at the time for its good. This is the best attitude for a soul in this state, adopting any other it would never find peace. This apparent destitution and abandonment has but one aim, which is to increase self-distrust and to compel the soul to cast itself with greater confidence into the arms of God. It sees no other help and even that it cannot see. Faith and faith alone must suffice without any other support."

   I didn't know any better. Perhaps more basically, however, I was afraid of attending the gatherings, anxious over what might happen next. Satsangis would return and tell me that the Master had asked them where his friend was that day. I also felt the sting of his repeatedly referring to me as "Peter the Great."

   I felt the death of all that was striven for and dreamed of over the previous four years, and unknowingly felt and longed for all of my life. This is not to justify the suffering, which understanding says is largely because of ego - for age-old reasons and habits - but which due to spiritual blindness I could not see. Further, the meditation teaching as given about "going within" also seemed to justify and reinforce my distress because of the uncomfortable bodily state that I felt.

   Regarding the comments about my being 'weak and withered,' the wise deCaussade, who I discovered years later, had these prescient words to say:

   "...does not God necessarily deprive a soul of sensible sweetness, when it would only make use of it to nourish its self-love? Could He do us a greater favor than to kill this domestic enemy by depriving it of its most essential substance, such as sensible spiritual sweetness? It would indeed be very unjust to complain of this God of infinite mercy, who alone knows how to purify your soul, a thing you would never have been able to do yourself. Your very complaints prove that you would never have had the courage to put an end to your self-love which alone impedes the reign of divine love in your heart. Bless our Lord then for sparing you the trouble, and because He only asks you to allow Him a free hand to accomplish this work in you."

   Then He began to daily ask to see my diaries, our daily "yamas and niyamas" checklist - another point of contention and confusion for me. The keeping of the diary was supposed to function as a kind of preliminary exercise in raja yoga, whereby one keeps a constant watch, too often interpreted as a hyper-vigilant one, on the thought processes and the outflow of attention throughout the day in order to achieve more fruitful inner meditations. This restraint, or sila, was considered a prerequisite for successful attainment in this form of yoga, and the diary was to be a support for that, as well as a means at the end of the day for remembrance of the Master. Such a daily scorecard has been practiced in many schools as far back as the Pythagoreans. During the course of my ordeal, however, I came to have a radical view of the so-called scientific diary form, in that I felt that when carried to the extreme, which a neurotic personality can do (and I did), it can serve more to keep attention fixated on the ego and its pursuit of perfection. During this time the Master's play with me over my diary had the effect of making me sick of self-analysis in a fundamental way. Indeed, much later in my stay I became privy to the Sach Khand (Sat Lok, a high spiritual state) initiation experience of one western disciple, who confessed to me that after that the diary form was the first thing she tossed in the garbage, a somewhat heretical concept to me at the time. I was soon to do go through an experience that led me to do the same.

   Anyway, my story serves as an example. Because I was too mechanical with the filling out of the diary - although I thought I was just doing what was expected and so much wanted to please the guru but also simply not be a failure - and because being at the ashram and considering what was happening to me, I was now trying desperately to avoid being bad or losing any more "face," I was scrupulous with every stray thought, and did become very neurotic about the diary. Under chastity in deed , for instance, I put down checks for every glance or looking at someone in an unchaste way, every stray thought, or even just casually looking in the eyes of others (this was considered unchaste and to be avoided so as to avoid any negative vibrations received thereby. It sounds crazy but that was part of the teachings, which, with all due respect to my Master who taught in his own time in a way that fit his own purposes, I have come to regard as dissociative Indian baggage based on a teaching of exclusive inversion, unsuitable and neurotic for westerners and increasingly, humanity as a whole. Aside from its unpracticality, if we never look into someone's eyes how can we share our being and love? There may be some exceptions, such as to psychically protect oneself from a degrading influence, like a violent socio-or-psychopathic personality, but even then how often are we in a position to judge who is 'high' and who is 'low'?). Anyway, Kirpal brought the large amount of check marks to the attention of the entire sangat and accused me of polluting the ashram , as if I was an active pervert or something! Mind you, I had been completely continent and celibate for several years at that point, and was trying to meditate 5- 6 hours a day, and more at the ashram. But I was a very shy person, who didn't speak up for himself, and I failed to explain what my diary entries really meant.

   This was an earlier time and place when another game than was apparent was being played out. My true anguish lay in the contradiction between the Beloved Master's words and my assumption that He must know all my inner thoughts and desires, and that if he was one with God as the teaching proclaims he should have known what the diary meant. I no longer think it works exactly like that, but still I felt he must have known what was really in my heart, yet he acted in this respect much like an ordinary man who knew nothing at all. But true Masters see things way down deep in our hearts that we do not see and say things that are appropriate to bring up hidden tendencies for removal. He had expressed the same advise in several responses to my submitted diaries in the mail before, where I had made the same mistake, always pointing out my failures in chastity in deed , which were never really the case, except as latent tendencies, and actions prior to initiation, before I tried my best to take his teachings to heart. Only years later did I find through my study that this type of apparently contradictory behavior and speech of true masters - most notably in the Zen tradition, but in others as well - such as speaking ill or accusing a devotee of things he hadn't done, or saying the opposite of what he previously had said, in order to break up the fixity of mind of his disciple, was fairly common. But its effectiveness lies in its very unpredictability!

   At times his repartee was more obvious, and even I didn't fall for it, although it still made me uncomfortable. One day he asked me how I had spent the day before. I told him meditating nine hours, and shopping one hour. He responded loudly, "What! Meditating one hour and shopping nine hours - this is wrong!" Others started to speak up in my defense, assuming he hadn't heard me properly, saying, "No, Master, he..." , but Kirpal insisted, "NO. Meditating one hour and shopping nine hours - that's not right!" For years I thought my experience was unique, but I recently re-read the September 1974 issue of Sat Sandesh magazine in which Shirley Tassencourt describes a similar encounter with the Master. She had been considering not going on a tour of India with Him because she had been mentally distracted by a brief excursion into town the day before and felt her mediations would get better if she spent more time alone. [This was the same reasoning I had for staying in my room some days and not going to the daily satsang]. Needless to say this is a big mistake on this path:

   "After a trip across the bridge yesterday," I went on, "I couldn't meditate at all." "How long did you shop?" He asked. "I have a question, Master," I interrupted very assertively and rudely. "How long did you meditate yesterday?" He asked. "I meditated ten hours, and I shopped for half an hour, but I have a question." And very forcibly He said, "If you will please listen to what I have to say to you first, then I will answer your question." I should have been crushed, but a big fat ego merely dents. "You went shopping for ten hours," He said in amazement, "and meditated for half an hour." Even as I began to correct his statement, I knew He was taking away my pride in sitting long hours, and I was grateful and quiet. He was also pointing out the fact that, though the body sat for long hours, the mind was across the bridge. Others tried to correct His apparent misunderstanding. He ignored them and talked to me about being wholly and solely where you were, or taking the master with you to the market place. And then He said, "Now, what was your question?"

   "I understand, Master, we may be allowed to accompany you on your tour. If I can't hold my meditation after a trip to the market, how shall I sustain meditation on a ten-day tour of India?" Surely this excellent logic would secure a reprieve from the trip, I thought. Master, still in a gruff way, said, (everything I was saying sounded virtuous and logical on the outside, but on the inside every motive needed correction) "I never encourage these tours. It's hard to meditate, and very distracting. I do not ask anyone to come." And then in a tone of utter humility, "Some people find it useful to be with me, but others..." and He didn't finish the sentence. I was cut from my head to my toes when He said this....When you are with Master, He teaches all the Scriptures, through the living situations He puts you through. He communicates clearly and precisely with few or no outer words."


   I did not yet have her insight, but was cut to the quick once again. Our daily lila, or play, went on, as he continued to press me into a corner. So then I tried another approach in trying to be a good satsangi or disciple. He must have called me to the front of the group practically every other day for scrutiny over my lack of progress in meditation. It was very embarrassing to say the least. After the experience of putting down too many checkmarks in my diary I tried to be realistic and only enter the more obvious failings. Therefore, at the next occasion my diary looked alot cleaner. This time, however, after examining the diary in front of the morning gathering, he exclaimed, "What, this looks very good, hardly any failings at all - you think you are a saint! You think you are perfect. You don't need any help. You want to be MY boss. You don't want to be my disciple. You want to be my master. That is the WORST sin!" I know the traditions say that realized souls often speak to us, and everyone present, at many levels, but to appreciate His skillful means one must truly try to imagine this situation. I was young, just 24, and hadn't studied much of the traditions, and didn't know what he was talking about or what was happening, and most of all, was in inner pain. I knew something was going on, but had to try hard to fight the mind's impression that he just didn't understand me, which, however, my heart could not accept. Today, with the light of perspective, the words of Paul Brunton come readily to mind, accurately pointing out the hidden tendencies or attitudes that Masters try to bring up to consciousness:

"The student must begin with the lowest opinion of himself if he is to end one day with the highest. On no account should he fall into the common blunder of deeming himself more advanced than he really is, for this will lead to failure....The student must beware of the cunning disguises of the retreating ego. He must beware of its self-flattery pretending to be the Overself's flattery. He must beware of any 'mission' to which he is appointed." (Essays on the Quest, p. 184-185)

   Anthony Damiani also states:

   "In the presence of a sage, a past habit which is still alive in you is brought up to the surface and now you have to overcome it once and for all." (Anthony Damiani, Looking Into Mind, p. 134-135)

   If a person wasn't having much in the way of meditative experience, Kirpal would more often say, "look to your diary." As I see it now, this could mean two things. One, if the diary was 'clean', one simply wasn't perceptive enough yet to see all of one's actions and thoughts throughout the day and is under an understandable beginner's illusion of purity. Or two, things simply are as they are, one is doing the best as they can, but he or she is just not ready or ripe enough for the deep cleansing metanoia that progress on the path eventually involves. Tulku Thondup writes:

   "A person who is having a so-called smooth meditative experience might think, "I am doing so well that I have no shaking-up experiences," but the truth could be that he has not yet destroyed his mental and emotional defilements and their habits from the root." (Masters of Meditation and Miracles: Lives of the Great Buddhist Masters of India and Tibet (Boston: Shambhala, 1999), p. 140-141)

   This is not something to seek, but only to be aware will come. It is not a sign of neurosis, but of purification and healing.

   Continuing, seeing others offer poems and writings to the Master, I tried to do the same. I composed my best devotional poem and waited until he walked by and he stopped and said, "Eh? What's this?" I said, "a poem, Master." He handed it back to me and said forcefully, "No poems. Meditate!" Then, to assuage some of the despair at the fruitlessness of my meditations, I offered to do some seva (service) in the mail room. The next day Kirpal asked me how I had spent my time the day before and I said, "doing some service, etc." He turned it right back on me and said, "how can you help others if you can't help yourself?!" The walls were closing in on me as the double-bind of self-effort increased. Now I couldn't even try to be good or useful! Another time in answer to a question of proper meditation technique he sort of squinted his eyes and turn his head slightly aside and said, "meditation must be done corrrectly...some people sit for years." That hit me like a bombshell. More hopelessness.

   At one satsang, I dared ask a question that had been weighing on me for some time. I had always had difficulty relaxing enough to let go and be unaware of my breathing in meditation. Indeed, the breathing is still a painful, core problem for me. Sant Kirpal just told me I was doing it all wrong, that I should not pay any attention to the breathing. That didn't really help, but when I said, "no one else seems to have this problem," he immediately leaned over, placing his etched-in-granite forehead (with "Om" sign clearly visible, much like in some photos of Ramana Maharshi) directly in my face, and said forcefully, "What do you care about anybody else - what do you care?!!!" By doing so, I now feel, he was not so much answering my question or helping me with my perceived difficulty, but continuing a central theme of my visit, which, I believe, was to drive me back into myself, instead of looking outward for answers or help. It was also a lesson in the individual nature of a guru's and reality's teaching. As deCaussade writes:

   "We can only be well-instructed by the words which God utters expressly for us...Do not attend therefore to what is said to others, but listen to that which is said to you and for you."

   His words burned themselves deep within, and I remember them to this day as needed in one moment or another. I later read the following words of Sri Atmananda (Sri Krishna Menon) regarding this:

   You first listen to the Truth direct from the lips of the Guru. Your mind, turned perfectly sattvic by the luminous presence of the Guru, has become so sensitive and sharp that the whole thing is impressed upon it as if it were a sensitive film. You visualize your real nature then and there. But the moment you come out, the check of the presence of the Guru being removed, other samskaras rush in and you are unable to recapitulate what was said or heard. But later on, whenever you think of that glorious incident, the whole picture comes back to your mind, including the form, words and arguments of the Guru, and you are thrown afresh into the same state of visualization you had experienced on the first day. Thus you constantly hear the same Truth from within. This is how a spiritual tattvopadesha helps you all through life, till you are established in your own real nature. (3)

   One long-time devotee from Florida, Jerry Astra Turk, seeing my dejection, said to me, "honey, one day you are going to love Him more than you can believe." It was she who had earlier exclaimed to Kirpal Singh, "Master, I don't care if I ever see light within, I just want to be with you." He smiled," she said, "because that's what he likes." Russell Perkins had also mentioned the same thing to me, that the only reason he felt one should come to the Master was simply to BE with Him, and not for any benefit, even spiritual, that one might receive. While such a point of view is certainly paradoxical, all the saints peak like that, and I would give anything to have been able to feel the same way in my heart. It was that very confession that Kirpal had made to his Master when he said, "Huzur! The peace and bliss to be had at your holy feet cannot be had in higher planes!"

   It should be noted that Masters do often test their disciples, in ways of which the latter are usually unawares. Not always as dramatic as Sikh Guru Amardas - who had his disciples build platforms out of mud, then tear them down, again and again, with only one devotee left standing after building them seventy times, with all the rest saying the old guru was getting senile - or Tibetan guru Marpa, who made Milarepa do the same with stone houses, until the latter 's back was one open wound and he was near death and at the brink of despair, in order to eradicate lifetimes of evil karmas - but they do test. Sri Ramakrishna once ignored his beloved disciple Narendra (the future Swami Vivekananda), not paying any attention to him for days on end. He would turn his back on him if he entered the room, not speak, and so on. One day he said:

   "Well, I do not speak a single word to you; still you come. Why so?" Narendra said, "Do I come here to hear you speak? I love you; I wish to see you; that is why I come." Highly pleased with the reply, the Master said, "I was testing you to see whether you would cease coming if you did not get proper love and attention. It is only a spiritual aspirant of your order that can put up with so much neglect and indifference. Anyone else would have left me long ago and would have never come here again." (3a)

   Similarly, Kirpal often said, "Look here, if I just said 'you are doing wrong, you are a bad disciple', how many would stay?" But, these sorts of things do happen. Kirpal also often used to talk of his days as a young searcher when he discovered one Baba Kahan in the jungle. This sadhu would throw stones at people to weed out the insincere seekers. Yet Kirpal sensed something in him and told his brother, with whom he had a pact to tell each other if they found a genuine guru, that he "should go to see him, even if he kills you!" (It has recently come to my attention that throwing stones is a fairly common practice among reclusive sadhus!). I feel that a similar sort of thing was occurring to me. And Kirpal had even openly admitted so:

   "The Masters always test their followers, each in his own methods. These tests are for advanced disciples - those who have advanced by their Master's grace - and usually they are not aware of what is happening." (Sat Sandesh, September 1973)

   I make no claim on the 'advanced' part of this statement in my case, but can affirm that such tests do happen, and they touch the disciple at his most tender points. After all, from one point of view this is really a life and death matter (even if from another they are a secondary matter). Sant Darshan Singh once replied to a disciple who asked about tests, saying, "brother, there are no tests, only regular difficulties on the path." I suspect this was directed to someone in specific, and that while it may indeed cover many situations in which one must not attempt to read anything special into his experience, still there are or may be defining tests, depending on the needs of the Guru-disciple relationship].

   Things continued like this for a while longer, then I remember one day in desperate resignation praying something to the effect, "please, do whatever You have to do for me to eventually be able to come to You, if that be Your will." My inner "rot" was appoaching a critical point. When I confessed this later near the end of my stay to the woman who had become my confidant, she told me that the Master, contrary to what I was feeling at the time, had answered all of my prayers. I quoted to her a verse of Paramhansa Yogananda, where he requested God "never to put him through the test of the obliviousness of His presence," which she said was the "test of a saint." I knew very well I wasn't a saint, not even close, but her words were revolutionary to me anyway. She was a great friend at the time, and helped me understand many delicate points. She always humbly let me know when she could tell me no more. She also spoke lovingly of Kirpal at all times and and always humbly deferred to Him on spiritual matters. [Her story was very interesting and quite classic. Essentially, she was denied or had her initiation placed on hold for some reason, and then went into the ashram garden and wept, saying "why don't you want me?!" or something to that effect. Gyaniji saw her and came over and said to her, "don't worry, dear, those who cry for the Master get the Master." The next day she sat for initiation, and, as reported, Kirpal took her with Him all the way 'in his lap' to Sach Khand, said by the saints to be the soul's true home in Sat Lok. He acknowledged the story, as the jaws dropped among the small group gathered at his feet, mine included. Several dignitaries were also in the audience].

   I described to her my unusual spiritual 'descent' and aridity and impossibility of meditating, with a bit of wry humor characterizing my subjective state by saying, "my nose is where my third eye used to be." She just laughed. Thirty years later when I close my eyes I can barely tell where my head is, so actually that doesn't seem so bad!

   A Test in the Form of a Core Question

   There was one other satsang of significance to me that I will mention. Please note that I was getting very reticent about even being seen at satsang, because inevitably I would be called to the front for one thing or another and get questioned. But this particular day I was getting close to giving up, I now see, and the Master asked me, with a strange look on his face, almost as if he was trying not to reveal what he was up to, "do you want something, my friend?" , and after a short pause, "do you want to leave the body?" [The latter question scared me, first because of that man killing himself, and also my remembering a story in one of the books about a devotee begging Master Sawan Singh to take him up to higher planes but being repeatedly refused, until finally the saint relented, and upon returning from a higher plane the man cried and said it was like a thousand lightning bolts tearing him apart, and then the man died a short while afterwards, and I feared the same could happen to me; on another occasion, a long-time devotee and sevadar of Kirpal asked for the same favor, and Kirpal replied, "well, that sort of thing could be done, but I am afraid you wouldn't be able to carry on here when you returned; moreover, would a father give his own son 'poison'?" Part of me knew I was not 'ready for that. And part of me - a deeper part - knew that that was not the direction of my soul's trajectory at the time]. The first question, "do you want anything, my friend?," however, seemed to ask for me to finally place before Him all my problems in one final heap, and the second, "do you want to leave the body?", well, all I can say, again, is that in retrospect I think a deep part of me knew that really wasn't what my heart wanted, and/or knew that wasn't what I needed, for a reason I did not yet understand (even though of course the mind raced and said "Yes, isn't that what we are supposed to want?!"), but, too tired of fighting, I simply replied, "no... nothing." In an instant He sat up and shouted, animated and very excited, smiling, "Nothing?!! Nothing is God! You are an emperor! I'll kiss your feet!" You see, the Master knew something that I didn't; as Ashtavakra said in his famous Samhita:

   "With whom can I compare that great-souled one who is content with Self-knowledge and does not hanker even after liberation?"

   I was, however, in somewhat of a shocked state, as I had been for months, and his words went way over my head, but were imbedded forever in my heart, to ponder again and again over the years. One satsangi later said that if the Master ever asked you what you wanted, it was considered very auspicious, as His words in such a case were not casually expressed. In my heart I now know this was such a time. In that moment, somewhere deep down a process of understanding was beginning. My yearning to simply escape this world and my present condition, although difficult to give up or feel beyond, was beginning to seem, in the depths of my unconscious understanding, somehow inappropriate. The Master certainly didn't seem to be concerned about it. There was a deep esoteric purpose to what was going on, only to become clearer much later. And, before revealing the penultimate play of the great One, just what did the master say was the true devotee's wish? He said many times:

   "Those who care for the love of God don't hanker after the worldly things, nor the wealth of the other worlds. They don't even want emancipation. They would rather like to have only one thing. No heaven, no earthly things, not emancipation, only to be with God, that's all. If we have really got that hankering in our heart, then naturally we must meet God." (Morning Talks, p. 37-38)

   And there is more. Why is this earth life important? Kirpal sometimes joked, "we are here to make the best use of the man-body, and that is...to be out of it!" He said this with a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin, but I suspect he knew there was much more to it than that. Paul Brunton speaks to this perennial query:

   "If the human entity has no other purpose to fulfill on this earth than to return to the sphere of its origin, then it had no business to leave that sphere. There must be something to be gained by its earthly journey, if the universe has any sense in it at all."

   And further:

   "This is the true insight, the permanent illumination that neither comes nor goes but always is. While being serious, where the event or situation requires it, he will not be solemn. For behind this seriousness there is detachment. He cannot take the world of Appearances as being Reality's final form. If he is a sharer in this world's experiences, he is also a witness and especially a witness of his own ego - its acts and desires, its thoughts and speech. And because he sees its littleness, he keeps his sense of humor about all things concerning it, a touch of lightness, a basic humility. Others may believe that he stands in the Great Light, but he himself has no particular or ponderous self-importance.” (3b)

   So, unknowingly, I threw myself and its concerns at the guru's feet. I didn't realize it, but Rumi wrote of this test in his famous Mathnawi:

   "Having died to self-interest, she risks everything and asks for nothing; Love gambles away every gift God bestows." (The Pocket Rumi, p. 212)

   There is a story that somebody went to Ramana Maharshi and said, "Bhagavan, I don't want anything. I only want moksha (liberation)." Ramana did not say anything but continued to do whatever he was doing. After some time everyone got up to go except for that man. Ramana got up too and was about to go. He said to the man, "If you don't want anything that is moksha," and went away.

   Years later I read the following passages from the book, Journey to the Luminous, by long-time Kirpal devotee Arran Stephens, where the author, I believe, stumbled perhaps without full awareness onto an inner secret of Sant Mat, or at least of satsang in relationship wth Sant Kirpal:

   "An important meeting was called at Sawan Ashram, attended by many distinguished and learned Indian initiates, including the managing committee. The Master invited presentation of their original ideas on how best to further the spiritual mission. During their learned dissertations, I was mentally criticizing, 'Oh, he doesn't meditate...This one doesn't keep a diary..That one doesn't even see the Light...How can they hope to further the great cause?' Towards the end I was unable to restrain my impetuosity and asked to speak a few words. When Master nodded, I stood, heart pounding, and announced, "All these fine talks and lectures are very well and good, but unless we practice what we preach, unless we go within and experience the divine Light and Sound ourselves on a regular basis, up to and including meeting the Radiant Form, I doubt we can effectively further the Master's Cause."

   The author readily admitted his faux pax and continued:

   "While there may have been a grain of truth in that, my delivery smacked of pride and intolerance...My insensitive pronouncement had the effect of dropping a bomb on the august assembly...Master stood. He said, "It appears that our Western friend is not in the full know of things." (4)

   At one point in my stay I corralled Russell Perkins in the courtyard of the ashram and asked him to tell me his story. I was pleasantly surprised ten years later to see that he had written a book, The Impact of a Saint, detailing most of what he had told me. Since then I have read that book maybe half a dozen times, and I must confess to being in dear Russell's debt for getting me through many trying times, bringing me to tears and increasing my longing with his moving tale of his own ordeals with Kirpal, and also inspiring me to pen my own story which is before you now. I was not that close to Russell, but always considered him my brother. He may not know this, but we often do not know who we touch.

   I also want to say before moving on with my story that in the turmoil after Kirpal's death amidst the confusing controversy over his 'successorship', many disciples went this way and others that way. Russell chose to follow Ajaib Singh for a time, and continued to do so after others chose to follow Kirpal's son Darshan. I know that Russell must have taken some heat for this decision, and rumors even spread that he had somehow fallen off the path by, to my mind, only doing what he felt was right in his heart. To suggest that he had gone astray, become lost for this life, and other such things, to my mind were not only uncompassionate but esoterically stupid. For as it is said,

   "Hafiz, there is no one in this world who is not looking for God.
   Everyone is trudging along with as much dignity, courage
   and style as they possibly can."


   To such talk then I dare to say, dear Russell, if you are reading these words, know that you are beloved by Kirpal and are going home. Believe this.

   Anyway, after asking for his story, I also asked him, off-handedly, whether maybe I was going insane. Russell had worked in a mental hospital and told me probably not, that in fact most insane people think everyone else is insane! Much later I read that Ramana Maharshi said that "jnana is a form of madness."

   As the date for the end of my stay approached, dear Gyaniji, the Master's assistant who had known Him since the 1920's, dragged me upstairs to see Kirpal about my departure. I didn't want to go, feeling I would be bothering Him about something unimportant. But Gyaniji insisted. The Indian devotees were anything but shy, quite naturally and intimately relating to the Master, unlike many westerners who often held him at arm's length out of a sense of awe. When I entered Sant Kirpal's room, he was lying down facing the other way, groaning in pain. Gyaniji told him I would be leaving soon and Kirpal turned around, assuming his usual radiance, and looked at me with the most imploring, sweetest look, saying, "you WANT to go?", as if he would be heart-broken if that happened. In my own heart I silently said "no, I never want to leave you, I will never leave you, I love you - even if I may not show it and can barely feel it anymore, you know that I have always loved you"... but outwardly I simply looked directly at him and replied, dejectedly and with resignation, "well, the visa is up." He then nodded or jerked his head a bit as he often did, adjusting his turban, almost as if he was returning from some divine plane or loka, and said matter of factly, "yes, you should go", as if it was time for me to go back to my normal life. This was a depressing thought, for I felt much worse off than before I had come to India, and had no idea how I would make it in the world. I felt I had lost everything and life had no meaning. Many years later, with the light of perspective, I shed tears in the remembrance of how beautiful this simple moment was.

   One small thing I noticed while I was in the Master's bedroom which I will mention now. This may be of interest only for those on this particular path, for whom, after all these years, it may still seem like a big deal. There was a bottle of fish oil on his night stand. Being vegetarians I mentioned that to Gyaniji and he said, "yes, I know, but it is very good for health." I don't think he was joking, but I didn't pursue the conversation further. My being allowed to see this was something that I thought of over the years and led me to ponder how much intuition I should use on such health matters. It is certainly quite possible that perhaps someone put it there and Kirpal did not use it. This of course I do not know. He did not seem to be very directive with his disciples, to the point of permitting a loud, blaring TV to be on in the room next door where he would give morning satsangs. Ramana Maharshi was accused of being like this, too, even to the extent of getting sick eating ganja given to him by a devotee on one occasion. So I did not know the true significance of what I was allowed to witness there. People will form their own opinion. But Kirpal, for me, was a great master, and if he did take fish oil, who am I to question it? Maybe today he would take algae omega instead, which was not available back then. For some initiates of Sant Mat this tale seems incredulous, but to many others - particularly practitioners on other paths - it is a little amusing. One satsangi who read this article, however, even said he just "didn't believe this story one bit." One may not agree with what it meant, but to not even believe it? How could such a mind ever realize truth? All I can say is, it was true, but was not really a big deal for me, except initially. I didn't take it as a sign to become a non-vegetarian, but, it made me much less righteous in my judgement of those who are. Which may have been its primary lesson. As Kirpal once remarked, "to hurt someone's feelings because they eat meat is worse than eating meat itself," and, "more important than what goes into your mouth is what comes out of it."

   In any case, the issue here would be taking something as medicine versus consuming it regularly for food. For that matter, what of taking the many (now often required) doses of vaccines? - most of them are made from animal kidneys and other tissues, including placental cells, etc.; doesn't that, too, contradict the rule against animal products? So where does one draw the line? This turns out to be not so simple a moral issue after all. My personal feeling is that people need to make up their own minds about these things without too much rigidity or righteousness. The development of discriminative intelligence is one of the most, if perhaps not the most, important aspect of spiritual maturity. Obedience and devotion is a good start, and can take one far, but that very devotion will eventually demand understanding. What one loves also wants to be known. Fools do not generally get enlightened, and the masters are not ordinary fools, but by and large the flower of human intelligence.

   The End Game

   Continuing the heart of this story after this brief interlude, the apparent end result of my stay with Him, in summary, was that all feelings of any inner faculties at all were deadened and as if totally removed, more so than I had ever felt in my whole life, long before I had even heard of the path. Meditation in the prescribed form became - and has remained thirty years later - impossible. I don't know anyone who can believe me on this. It was far more than just not being able to see light anymore like some have temporarily experienced, but a painful and shocking total extroversion and perception of spiritual abandonment, an extremely bitter pill. It was as if He (or the universal power, who-or-what-ever) had slowly over the course of several months made my soul sink through my head and lashed or welded it firmly to my eyes and face, and later my whole body, with even the possibility of inversion a long-forgotten dream. This was hard to believe, and I continued to fight it and try to regain what I once had (indeed, for several more years), but it was no use. I continued to feel like I was being pushed out , and into a twisted and knotted up body that I had been only too willing to leave behind. And, as I had never felt good inside until the beginnings of what I had been led to consider to be spiritual life had been awakened in me through His grace, my condition at the time was devastating.

   On top of this dear William Scotti confronted me in the midst of my self-possession with the cutting observation that he knew a man who had not seen light in thirty years who had more love than me. He didn't know my inner condition, just my outer struggling and immaturity, but that observation made me sink very low. Of course he was right, and it has only become more clear throughout the years. Perhaps that itself is some form of progress. His brother, Richard, on the other hand, made a very strange remark one day. I don't agree with what he said, it is so absurd to even consider, but the fact that he would even think to say it seemed strange to me. He was there alot of the time I was and saw much of what was going on. While witnessing some of the interplay between the Master and myself, he said to me, "He's making you into a satguru." I only mention this for the synchronicity and completeness of this story. Perhaps in some eon to come it will mean something. I hope not, for that is a sacred burden I do not wish to carry. The very thought is insane. Richard also said to me, regarding meditation and self-improvement, that if he had to "do it himself" (ie., advance spiritually) he might as well die. He, too, at the time was, in his own way, feeling the limits of his helplessness and incompetency, which he later made into a beautiful devotional talk, considering the times, to the sangat back home. My attempts at self-effort had not yet received enough mortal blows to feel the depth of what he was saying, however, and I was not yet ready to give up to what only appeared as hopelessness, but now, many years later, I am beginning to appreciate his words. Kirpal then started calling me a "hard nut to crack," and a "good actor". The "story of me" was facing its nemesis, although this was years before we began to hear of ideas like that. It would be years as well before I realized that such was but the beginning, or beginning of the end.

   A number of other what might be called mysterious and even rather shocking things were shown to me during my stay, which I choose to omit here because they are have been easily misinterpreted and taken out of context. And perhaps were important and meant for my eyes only. I cannot speak for anyone else. But they all seemed to contribute towards what I will try to describe next.


   There is, fortunately, a culmination to this story in the form of an insight that arose in a moment the day before my stay at the ashram ended. Some may find this rather boring, as it is more ordinary than mystical or phenomenally fantastic. Yet it is really at the heart of this story. I can truly say what some have confessed through the ages that I received 'absolutely nothing'. In fact in one sense it changed nothing, yet it changed everything. The circumstance was ordinary. I was playing with a young boy in the inner courtyard, having given up hope for a life of meditation or anything else. Due to return to New York in a few days, I was adrift about my future. At that moment, my woman friend walked over to me and said enigmatically, "it's a nice day to die, isn t it?" I thought, huh? when it hit me: something had changed, but I could not put my finger on it, nor could I explain it. We silently looked at each other, and I realized that everything appeared different, but yet, at the same time everything was the same, and had always been the same. I remembered that Ramana Maharishi said that you were already Real, and would not be discovering something new, but only what was real. Thus while there was mystery, there was no great surprise, reaction or ecstasy. Deeper experiences of the latter would occur many years later - infrequently - but, in retrospect, it was as if this was the fundamental thing. There was nothing mystical or psychic about the experience, or change of state. If I said it was 'nothing' that would be a lie, and also the truth. In fact I can't say it was exactly an experience or change of state in the usual sense at all. It was, to use inadequate language, as if my self-identity had shifted or been undermined. Or, the world and myself seemed paradoxically both real and unreal at the same time. Perhaps Paul Brunton captured its chief features best when he wrote:

   "It is as if he has turned into another man, someone who still is but no longer seems himself."

   "The real Truth is so wonderful that it is what it is because "it is too good to be true" in the little mind's expectations."

   "Is this benign state a past from which we have lapsed or a future to which we are coming? The true answer is that it is neither. This state has always been existent within us, is so now, and always will be. It is forever with us simply because it is what we really are."


   and importantly

   "The reason why this silent, inward, and picture less initiation in the stillness is so much more powerful ultimately, is that it reaches ether man himself, whereas all other kinds reach only his instruments or vehicles or bodies."

   Only months later did I understood this moment perhaps as what could be labelled as a 'glimpse'; any other traditional name for it might make it sound much bigger and extraordinary than it was. It wasn't really an event. She said, "you've just been through the eye of the needle, you have a hole in your head," and things like that. All the while I was in a mesmerized condition, mindlessly pondering a newness I didn't understand, but also knew was the only real thing I had ever known, and it had always been the case. Although the term 'known' was meaningless, too, as it was not a form of knowing or not-knowing, although the latter is perhaps closer. It was also not exactly accurate to say it was 'my' awakening, although the ego immediately and for a long time afterwards would tend to think of it in those terms, which is the usual pattern due to eons-long habituation - although it is not the truth. And so-called 'awakening' is really the beginning of a continuing process. It is by no means 'the end'. This is often overlooked in the initial enthusiasm over a new-found sense of freedom. But it did have typical characteristics often spoken of about such events, such as the seeing that "there is no one to be awake or asleep", "no one in bondage, no one liberated", "it has been there all along", "nothing gained", "nothing lost", etc..

   As I came to see it, the relationship between 'me' and the world had undergone a basic shift, despite the mind's eager tendency to discount it. Even the word 'relationship' was turned on its head a bit, for the insight was of the nature of there not being 'two things' to be related to each other, at least in the same way as they had seemed before; a relationship, even to a divinity, was now paradoxically balanced or accompanied by a direct 'recognition' of what is, for lack of better words. Even so, an even greater appreciation for what the saints and sages say about a Higher Power has gradually gained more respect. Only it becomes progressively seen in a more non-dual way. It is hard if not impossible to describe exactly what that means. At the time, this was all new to me.

   The problem with this sort of transition generally tends to be a lack of context in which to understand it, which is why study before, and afterwards, is so important. The experience must be clarified over time. A first awakening or epiphany is hardly clear knowledge, or a full transformation. That is to say, it is necessary not only to have experiences, but also to understand them. Many people these days, for example, have such awakenings, 'no-self' experiences, and so on, and think they are 'done'. But there is still much more. Without a proper contextual framework - one that puts a major dent or question into our beliefs, opinions, and expectations - our world - how to live on the basis of the new insight, as well as the next steps or stages of the process, and the fact that though a fundamental shift has occurred this is not yet anywhere near complete enlightenment, remains not altogether clear. In my case at the time, not at all clear!!

   My friend said, "not a bad world, isn't it?," and, “isn’t this the soul?”, which I thought were amazing things to say by one who had recently confessed to soaring on the highest inner planes. [Later on, my Peter Pan upbringing came back when I heard the song Never Never Land again and as if for the first time on a vinyl recording and wondered if it was not a perfect description of Sach Khand: It’s not on any chart, you must find it in your heart….”].

   Ramana Maharshi once made this remark:

   "We go round and round in search of Atma, saying, 'Where is Atma? Where is Atma?', till at last the dawn of jnana drishti [the vision of knowledge] is reached and we say, 'This is Atma. This is me.'" (Godman, David, The Power of the Presence, Part Three, p. 193)

   What baffled me no end was that, as there were no visible signs, no light or sound or anything identifiable by even another mystic, how could this person Judith have known about this BEFORE I did?! Indeed, how could even a sage have known before I did? That was perhaps the most remarkable thing about this. We talked for a while, and she told me many things about myself and the Master, some of them strange and also enigmatic, which I also thought about for years, like, "You were in a hypnotic state"...."Master speaks with forked tongue, and has a hard time keeping a straight face"...."Kirpal is a Sat Master, and not the usual saint or mystic"...."Master would rather have a disciple who is a simple jerk-off than a self-righteous seeker".... and also "Kirpal ended an age." She quoted me from the sage of the golf links, Shivas Irons, telling his golfing pupil, "Fuck our ever getting any better." How cool for a person spiritually awakened and at a sacred ashram to engage in such street talk! It was definitely liberating in 1973. The line, "Kirpal ended an age", however, really had me thinking. What did she mean? I later leaned towards understanding this as (1) the ending of an age of fascination with the internal, 'gnostic' goal of mysticism as being the whole of spirituality and realization, rather than a natural and inevitable dimension or part of it, along with (2) the softening of life-negative asceticisms of the past that were part of even the so-called 'positive mysticism' of Sant Mat (in my current way of thinking sort of an oxymoron, mysticism as such being part of a negative-positive polarity of earth and spirit, neither inherently superior to the other, depending on one's perspective), and finally that henceforth things should be explained in a more straight forward fashion. All teachings must sooner than later become reconciled. Many on this path may disagree with me and feel I am way off base. Be assured I came to this view dragging my heels, but that it is more and more the view of a majority of both old and new seekers on many paths. This is not a call for 'immorality' or anything of the kind but rather for: more love, acceptance, and understanding; less judgement and the abandonment of formulaic concepts and the pursuit of an artificial or idealistic goal of perfection. Be/become truly human. Enter the heart of darkness as necessary and reclaim all of yourself, then walk hand in hand with the Master in the Great Work - and Play.

   In addition, Kirpal said that in the coming 'golden age' many more saints would appear. [Sri Ramakrishna also had stated: in the not too distant future Christs would grow like grapes on a vine, in clusters.] What could that have meant in light of the general Sant Mat claim that there is one perfect master on earth at any one time? Did he mean they would all be saints from within the Sant Mat tradition, or was he proclaming a universalization of that path to include other methods and schools? I tend to feel he meant the latter. I had once pointed out to Judith that Buddhist Master Fuji, who had sat with Master Kirpal on the dais, had tears of laughter streaming down his face, with a smile as wide as the room, and she said to me, "that smile comes all the way from Sach Khand." I thought to myself, "what did she mean? Master Fuji doesn't do shabd yoga." Kirpal handed Master Fuji a collection of his books, with both of them laughing as if at some big joke, while Fuji's disciples were sternly chanting and beating their drums. The scene was surreal.

   Further, as evidence that Kirpal was indeed a "Sat" Master, or Master of Truth, and not just a master-yogi, Judith told me that after her initiation experience of being transported to Sat Lok, well-nigh the highest one could go into the matrix of light at the summit of the cosmos, she still had not attained final clarity of her ultimate identity while in this world, which Ramana Maharshi said was grounded in the Heart on the right side. She said she asked Kirpal after this lofty experience, in true perplexity, "WHO am I?," to which he replied, in the manner of Ramana, "WHO wants to know?" This form of inquiry or ultimate questioning was not something he gave out to everyone, but in my opinion to ripe souls only. My guess is that this advaitic inquiry was something the hundred thousand initiates under his care were not yet ready for, and for him to publically alter the teachings in any such way might also undermine their faith, and/or confuse them in being true to where they are at. [The path is not a parlor game, nor is it that inquiry is the only true or necessary practice, and all else to be rejected. Religion, yoga, mysticism are all appropriate at different stages of development]. Kirpal, it might be considered, also had the burden of an existing lineage to uphold with thousands of disciples, many who were simple Indian folk. In Sant Mat, I have come to believe, this inquiry advise would for the moment have to remain a hidden teaching. Another woman I knew who came upon Him alone once said He gazed at her for some time and then simply said, "what you see is you," another non-dual confession and pointer, albeit also just the beginning or rather true foundation of a greater path of evolution and transformation beyond mysticism. That is to say, a path where the divine is not to be found only at the farthest reach of inversion through meditation, but under any and all conditions. Kirpal used to say at times, "you are already there, you just don't know it." He was hinting at what the vedantins say, to, that - if we agree with the basic postulate that God or Brahman is already the case - what we have is primarily a problem of knowledge or recognition, and not principally one of more experience. We don't presently see everything as Brahmin, and imagine that we could only do that after a long course of meditation. And we reinforce this assumption by constantly thinking about it, in fact even using the teachings to do so. But even here there is a problem: that of falling for the notion that only inside, in samadhi, is God to be found. A position which all advanced teachings in the traditions actually criticize. But how else can one make sense out of words such as those of Sant Darshan Singh, that "The Master is always with you. He is nearer to you than your throat; he is within you. He is within your eyes, he is within your forehead, he is within every pore of your body." Or as the Koran says, "nearer to thee than thy jugular vein." This is true now, if it is true at all, and not just in or after samadhi. Part of our discipline, in my opinion, is to gradually uproot and alter such mental tendencies of objectification by thinking differently. That is to say, to support a two-hour period in meditation with a 24-hour discipline of countering wrong thinking. What is wrong thinking? For one thing, assuming or thinking that the body is real, or existing independently of the mind or consciousness, and further, that we are a thing which is imprisoned inside it. It could be that we are, but certainly thinking about it all the time only makes the situation much worse! Whereas clear thinking says that the body is a perception within consciousness, i.e., that it is inherently mental, of the nature of an idea, and that we as the Witness, as consciousness (soul) are that from which and in which the body and world arises. It seems that we are in it, because of the intrinsic power of the soul to abstract itself within itself, but the truth is that we are just as much within it as it is within us. This is a 360 degree revolution in our way of perceiving, true, and perhaps only by a long and persistent discipline can such a perception be actualized, but on reflection it can be realized. Otherwise delusion perpetuates itself, by the rule of "as you think, so you become."

   For there is an inherent liability with meditation if our attitude towards it is not quite right. What are we thinking about when we meditate? - "now I (my body) am sitting down, now I am going within (the body), now I am rising up the chakras (in the body), etc.." Meditation can easily become a reinforcement of the delusion that the body is real, or that we (as an ego) are within it, and when we come out of meditation we can also have reinforced the attitude that our freedom can only come from dissociating from or ignoring the body. This is a powerful obstruction, and it is not true. It is, moreover, perfectly possible to meditate without thinking this way. Of course we need to learn to detach from the persistent idea of the body - what is termed 'body-consciousness' - i.e., an objectified sense of reality - but then we realize further that the body-idea as such arises within the Self - and we do not need to radically detach or separate from it to find our freedom. There is no body as such, certainly not 'my' body. The 'I am not the body' idea is, as they say in the traditions, 'a thorn to remove the thorn' of 'I am the body' identification. But ultimately both ideas are untrue. We are not the body, exclusively, nor are we a 'thing' that is in or out of or limited or defined by a body.

   This is my sense of the vision of the Masters. So, as one meditates, it is suggested that it is important not to add to it any premature and preconceived notions or conclusions about the nature of reality, else we take to the 'long and tortuous path' of seeking and self-effort, wherein we pass up the immediate, ever-present enjoyment of the gifts of the Master, that Kirpal in fact warned us about. Of course, the public teachings can, unfortunately, sometimes encourage this problem.

   In any case, it was becoming somewhat clear to me that these saints definitely guarded their treasures carefully, only giving out what was needed and appropriate for each disciple according to their development.

   Judith also said to me, "you'll find out sooner or later that you are just pinching yourself," which fits in nicely with current and historical non-dual thought about the origin of separation, that it is ongoing, and where one's identity as a "fallen soul" is not the absolute truth, but more of a form of nostalgia for what is really a unified whole of Self, soul, body-mind, and world. It is so simple, but something that can take a long time to be made permanent in one's life and not just seen intermittently. Even after an awakening, the body-mind undergoes a change or transformation as Spirit-Force-Consciousness or Being is given a free rein to move into 'ones' life. That being said, one will recognize that there are many ways of looking at this quandry, and no single teaching, limited as it is to dualistic language as well as cultural and religious presuppositions, has as yet a monopoly on the truth we are seeking to realize.

   At any rate, when I went to Satsang later that day at the Master's house, he looked right at me and said, "well, my friend, are you a new man today, are you a new man?! Are you going to go home and tell everyone you are a new man?" That was it; no explanation, no hand holding, just a cryptic remark and a mostly wordless communication. I was speechless, still uncomprehending at the level of the mind what had happened. But this time Kirpal no longer asked me to "keep trying". It was as if He recognized my earlier sadhana had come to an end and could never be taken up again in exactly the same form. I was not enlightened, but had received a true glimpse. Papaji spoke in a similar manner about his time with Ramana, and on how a genuine master works:

   "When I came and sat in front of the Maharshi, he didn't tell me to keep on trying because he could see that I had reached a state in which my sadhana could never be resumed again. 'You have arrived,' he said. He knew I was ready for realisation and through his divine look he established me in his own state."

   "The real Master looks into your mind and Heart, sees what state you are in, and gives out advice which is always appropriate and relevant. Other people, who are not established in the Self, can only give out advice which is based on either their own limited experience or on what they have heard or read. This advice is often foolish. The true teacher will never mislead you with bad advice because he always knows what you need, and he always knows what state you are in.
"

   Sri Nisargadatta made a remarkable observation which I later came upon that related to my question about how someone else could recognize such a change before I did:

   "Q: I need samadhis for self-realization.
   M: You have all the self-realization you need, but you do not trust it. Have courage, trust yourself, go talk, act; give it a chance to prove itself. With some, realization comes imperceptibly, but somehow they need convincing. They have changed, but they do not notice it. Such non-spectacular cases are often the most reliable."
(I AM THAT, p. 290-291)

   So that was how they both knew, and why it had to be pointed out. We have this preconception sometimes that realization is of necessity self-verifying, but this is not always so. All of the great masters sought confirmation of their state, with a teacher or through further experience, for many subtle states may seem or feel like the ultimate, or the Reality, but not be so. Moreover, it appeared to me later on at some point that one's whole life after that, in time and space, becomes an ongoing confirmation of an revelation already established in Eternity. In truth, one's historical experience in time and space, it has been said, is a retrospective confirmation of ones already true Eternal Identity-Relatedness as an Image of God/God. But the journey in time and space was necessary for understanding and appreciating this truth.

   Sri Nisargadatta also mentioned the price for such a realization:

   "When you don't require anything from the world and nothing from God, when you don't desire anything, when you don't strive for anything, don't expect anything, the divine will enter you, unasked and unexpected....The wish for truth is the best of all wishes, but it's still a wish. All wishes must be given up, that the truth can enter your life. (source misplaced)

   This awakening was entirely unspectacular and ordinary. It was not really something special, although the mind tried to make it so. In fact it was really'nothing', not any special 'no-thing' at all. In fact, 'nothing' seems to sum it up better than anything else. Hsi Yun stated long ago:

   "Obtaining absolutely nothing is called receiving transmission from mind to mind." (E.A. Burtt, The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha (New York: Mentor, 1955), p. 203)

   That was it exactly. I purposely leave out any exclamation point, but it was the greatest day of my life - even though, conventionally speaking, I didn't feel actually great. Many, many years later I read these words from Adyashanti:

   "The funny thing about enlightenment is that when it is authentic, there is no one to claim it. Enlightenment is very ordinary; it is nothing special. Rather than making you more special, it is going to make you less special. It plants you right in the center of a wonderful humility and innocence. Everyone else may or may not call you enlightened, but when you are enlightened the whole notion of enlightenment and someone who is enlightened is a big joke." (source misplaced)

   Paul Brunton spoke enigmatically about this shift in a manner similar to Sri Nisargadatta:

   "The authentic thing does not enter consciousness. You do not know that it has transpired. You discover it is already here only by looking back at what you were and contrasting it with what you now are; or when others recognize it in you and draw attention to it; or when a situation arises which throws up your real status. It is a permanent fact, not a brief mystic "glimpse." (Paul Brunton, Notebooks, Vol 16, Part 4, 2.139)

   And Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253) said:

   "Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment."

   Let me see if I can summarize what happened. In a sense, nothing happened. No-thing had changed. The body was still there, a prosaic sense of self was still there, and ego was still there. I was still contracted and in pain; as one Zen monk once said, "Now that liberation is first seen, I am just as miserable as ever." Yet I can say that something that had not been recognized before was now obvious, and something that had apparently been there before was now noticed to be absent. What that was in each case was - and is - a mystery. It is all mystery, whereas before it was rather mystifying and perhaps exotic, but predictable and expectable. Now, there was an expectancy - but for the unexpected! In short, the fictitious 'me-sense' that believed the Soul separate from the body was seen as an illusion. It is realized that this view is a 360-degree turn away from the usual more or less gnostic Sant Mat understanding, but it really seems to me now to be a proper basis in which experiences of the 'spirit' may to take place - when necessary. For the soul is not really a separated drop that discretely 'falls' into a body to be trapped, cut off from its Source, but is actually omnipresent in every point in space, while also having the power of projecting itself as a part to any one locus, such as a body. That is to say, just because one can have the experience of the soul or attention being apparently apart from the body does not mean that the real identity of you is ever 'in' a body, or 'born' into a body, per se. There is no 'inside' or 'outside' in Truth. In this realization we are no longer fallen angels, nor is the world opposed to the spirit:

   "This world is rooted in the divine substance and is consequently not an empty illusion but an indirect manifestation of divine reality...The world is neither trap nor an illusion, neither a degradation of the divine essence nor an indication of the divine absence." (PB)

   Any 'mystical' experience that would now or in the future occur was intuited to be an apparent movement of an apparent something to an apparent somewhere, all contained within what could be called a subjective and not objective reality, as had previously seemed to be the case. Actually neither subjective or objective apply, words fail us here. The difference in perspective was profound. PB also wrote, "when we believe we are seeing the world outside, we are really experiencing the self inside." But, after all, these are only metaphors, so please do not take them too literally, or struggle with any of this if it does not strike a chord in the understanding, just make a mental note and file it away for later. It may be of value one day.

   A glimpse of truth is not the end, but it was as if a spoke had been removed from my innermost being. I told Judith that for the first time in my life I actually felt that realization was truly possible, and not just an unattainable dream, because I was actually intuiting it right then. I knew this wasn't full enlightenment, but I believe it was what in the early Buddhist tradition is considered 'stream-enterer' (sotapanna), a point of no return and the 'seed' of an undeniable conviction or shraddha that enlightenment is actually possible. It could also be seen as the 'Introduction to the View' spoken of in the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. How remarkable: Kirpal Singh, a Sikh guru, gave me the 'introduction to the non-dual view'! To put it in another way, it was as if the point of reference as a meditator was gone, that there was no one to meditate on anything, and nothing to meditate on. Not that this was fully understood or accepted, or that I had truly been reduced to nothing as yet - that was still far in the future - but this was the nature of the change that had occurred. Judith simply said that I "could believe, or not." Adyashanti seems to agree that this is most important:

   "Enlightenment depends to a large extent on believing that you are born for freedom in this lifetime, and that it is available now, in this moment." (The Impact of Awakening, p. 8)

   This was not the case before, no matter how much I thought and felt that I desired the Truth. The glimpse I had been given , at the expense of the death of all mysticism as well as inner comfort, was that the one, the ego-identity, that used to go within, and wanted to go within, was unreal, or perhaps better said, unreal in itself, but merely an appearance in consciousness. And I know now that such a form of insight does not automatically come from mystical experience alone, but from another process altogether. I forget the context, but I remember saying something to Judith to the effect that I now saw the Master was more than a mystic, that He was truly a sacrificial being, that He, in fact, had died , and she said, "Yes, He has died many times." That penetrated my being in a new way, in that I felt it meant more than just that he had died daily in meditation, as was often repeated on the path; I recalled Kirpal himself saying to us one time, " what more do you want, I have given you my life's breath." The phrase from Light on the Path comes to mind about the feet being bathed "in the blood of the heart," and also the quote of Paul Brunton, paraphrasing Huang Yang-Ming, that on the way to becoming a sage one will die a hundred deaths and suffer a thousand sufferings. I thought again of seeing Kirpal groaning in pain on his bed, then becoming radiant and glowing only a moment later. The image of Him as a rag doll in the hands of God, squeezed dry as if from taking on the pain and suffering of the world, only to burn it up within and then turn gracefully to emanate light and love. He often had said, "I know my own worth. I am a mere pipe. If my Master doesn't send His grace, I am nothing...You people think I am lying. I tell you what I see. God is doing everything. I do nothing. It is all God's grace and compassion. " How profound the words, "the Master has died many times," seemed to become. The sage is the summit, the crown of human evolution, and the agent of the Lord in this world. For despite the simplicity suggested by teachers of non-duality, the Idea of Man calls for its fulfillment. The peerless Al Ghazali wrote:

   "Know, 0 beloved, that man was not created in jest or at random, but marvelously made and for some great end."

   Judith said that the path to real enlightenment which I had been granted was a gift in the form of a "reward-punishment" , that "God was economy and pressure," "that out of thousands of disciples Kirpal would be lucky to have even one to make it to Sach Khand or be enlightened" [i.e., in this very life, for it must be remembered that the Sant Mat promise is within a maximum of four lives all initiates will attain it; this notion of four lives, moreover, is not entirely arbitrary, for with due modifications for a bhakti-type of path, it is similar to the four stages proposed by the Buddha: stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and Arhat. These relate, in part, to the notion of the purification of the elements and bodies that envelope the soul, and possibly also, to the extent of the soul's conscious penetration of the planes of existence [For more on this theme see "The Depths of This Thing" on this website]; she also said that I had 'volunteered for the trip' (at first without knowing it, but upon reflection I felt it must have been on the day of my silent prayer for Him to do whatever it took to allow me to come to Him, but even later, in retrospect, I think now it was most likely through a prayer made before this life). Her remark produced an immediate question in my mind, as my math was pretty good: if she had been to Sach Khand, and as she promised that I would get there , well, that already makes two, not one, and there must undoubtedly be many others much more capable or qualified than I. But the point was well-taken: true enlightenment and transformation was a big deal, requiring everything from both guru and disciple. Yet, at the same time, as we never seem to be able to get away from the realm of paradox (!), there is also much precedent that it is truly a kind of 'foolishness' and "nothing special":

   Shih-t'ou: "My ignorance far exceeds yours."

   Sri Nisargadata Maharaj: "I do not claim to know what you do not. In fact, I know much less than you do."

   Lao Tzu: "I alone have the mind of a fool, and am all muddled and vague. The people are so smart and bright. While I am just dull and confused. Those who say, do not know; those who know, do not say."

   Why could not the Master speak plainly before this time? God knows. Vedantist V.S. Iyer, however, offers some hints:

   "The Gnani will not unsettle the minds of ignorant yogis or religionists by denouncing their attachment to causality. On the contrary, he will encourage the belief that they will get nearer to God by their efforts. He can do nothing also with such minds and so he improves them gradually; only afterwards when they are able to ask questions, i.e., "Is this truth?" - but not until then - will reinitiate them into non-causality."

   Note: for vedanta, yoga is not a direct means towards the ultimate goal, but an aid to attain concentration of mind and misidentification with the body and world; after that has been attained, the clear, purified, and concentrated mind is to be used to inquire into truth. It has been said that only in the waking state (and not just in sleep or trance) when the world of objects (duality) presents itself - and this is known to be Brahman - is (non-dual) realization actualized. Another contention of Vedanta is: "If you see all things in yourself, it is Truth; if you see all in God, it is not Truth." [For most people this may seem like semantics, and both realizations are legitimate, although there are pros and cons in the expression of each; the point in vedanta is to distinguish the non-dual Self from a God conceived or perceived as an 'other' - albeit a supreme other. Kirpal Singh did seem to agree with this, saying, "either you remain or He remain - not two."

   He also once told someone, "what you see is you." For me, this was an affirmation of the non-dual truth, which is beyond the usual yogic or mystic perspective, which only sees their identity as a soul attached to adventitious vehicles, in contrast with seeing them as manifestations of ones own being. As Brunton writes,

   "The illuminate's viewpoint is not the yogi's viewpoint. The illuminate finds all the world in himself, says the Gita."

   How could one ever get to this position only by leaving the world behind (necessary as that may be as a preliminary stage) ?

   The Sants often do seem to express or acknowledge this, although often rather obliquely. Even so,

   "The guru must be merciful and patient, just as a disciple must be patient, as sometimes it is so difficult to grasp truth." - V.S. Iyer

   'Sometimes' ?!

   I asked many more questions, but at one point Judith simply said, "I can tell you no more," as if she recognized the limits of her knowledge or permission to speak. After all, even though she had gone to Sach Khand or Sat Lok once didn't mean that she knew everything. Personally, from my grasp of the teachings, I no longer think even the Masters know everything, as we sometimes naively understand it - for the All-Knowing Godhead represents an Infinity of points of view, and beyond, while the Master, as great as he is, represents but one point of view - and that such a preconception we get from reading the occult and mystic traditions, particularly from India, which unfortunately some teachers reinforce by repeating dogma of their lineage. It may seem to be that way sometimes, but I think it would be more accurate to say that knowledge comes spontaneously to them as required for the situation. Or they may simply act and say things from the position of Truth without conscious awareness of knowing anything, although some times they DO know. To assume omniscience on their part, however, is both a misinterpretation of the word, which simply means knowing Reality, or being the 'knowingness' of reality, not necessarily the knowledge of every possible 'thing', and therefore to attempt to improve upon an already fully magnificant truth: their divine realization, and its being an agency of grace. Still, these are multidimensional beings, and the greatest among them are truly great, although they are not likely to say it. Judith had told me, as I went in and out of doubt with my new experience, "you can either believe it - or not," and that, "Master saved your life," something I have had to think long and hard about for years. In the pit of trial I have often felt quite the opposite. Thankfully, that feeling doesn't last too long.

   Later I thought it particularly remarkable that Kirpal Singh also recognized this shift which I still barely noticed or believed, and also pondered what he meant by telling everyone that I was a new man . As it wasn't mystical or psychic per se, the words "only a jnani can recognize a jnani" come to mind. Not that I was a jnani, far from it, but that I felt to a small degree initiated onto that path or made privy to some of its secret. This has been my assumption; I am ready to admit I interpreted my experience incorrrectly, but it did appear to have a self-verifying quality - once it was pointed out and verified.

   Reading scripture I found out that the "Old Man" is spoken of alot, as something that has to die, while the "New Man" is one reborn. None of my character had changed greatly, however, nor inner pain diminished as yet. I simply saw, in a moment of reality, something profoundly different from the world of mystic India, saints and yoga that I was accustomed to. It was quite ordinary, but forever changed my outlook on things, appreciated even more as the years go by. That morning in the courtyard I was made a promise. My friend said "IN THIS INCARNATION YOU WILL KNOW ALL TRUTHS." I don't think anybody can ever know all that, but nevertheless I started to ask, "what do you mean, do you mean intellectually," etc., and she once again forcefully repeated "IN THIS INCARNATION"... I asked how long it would take and she said, "the rest of your life." It was a magical time and in the heady atmosphere of the sacred place I believed what she said; it felt like the words just automatically came from her mouth. Whether she was conveying to me His truth, or just being nice, however, it has gotten me through many a rough patch since then, of which there have been many. For the real purgation was only starting, and is yet to be complete, and in some respects is worse than ever as I write. [Hopefully, the period of my complaining will be over by the time this is read!] I took her words to be coming from Kirpal Singh, as she seemed to be speaking for him - calling herself his 'donkey', his messenger, etc. - and when he told everyone I was a new man he gave me a penetrating glance that seemed to say, "yes, it is real, and you are mine now, and yourself as well."

   Sat Sandesh magazine (August 1973 issue) coincidentally came out that day with a Bible passage on the back saying "I no longer speak to you as servants, but as friends." My friend pointedly said that that quote was for me. While gazing at each other I noticed tears in her eyes. She noticed that I noticed, and without my asking said that there was no emotion behind those tears, that it was just the "purification of the ascending force." She also said there was no thinking going on when she was talking, giving me an insight into her natural samadhi condition at that time. We spoke further of the soul, and gazing out at the world around us she said, "isn't this the Soul?" thus giving me my first glimpse of a non-dual perspective. As I now write, the following words of Ch'an master Hakuin come to mind:

   "Not knowing how near the Truth is, people seek It far away, -- what a pity!...As the eternally quiescent Truth reveals Itself to them, This very earth is the lotus-land of Purity, And this body - is the body of the Buddha."

   And the great Huang Po:

   "People neglect the reality of the 'illusory' world..On no account make a distinction between the Absolute and the sentient world...All the visible universe IS the Buddha...Full understanding of this must come before [one] can enter the way." (Wang Ling Record)

   And the Buddha himself:

   " All that we are arises with our thoughts.
   With our thoughts we make the world. Wanting nothing
   With all your heart
   Stop the stream. When the world dissolves
   Everything becomes clear. Go beyond
   This way or that way,
   To the farther shore
   Where the world dissolves
   And everything becomes clear. Beyond this shore
   And the farther shore,
   Beyond the beyond,
   Where there is no beginning,
   No end."
(The Dhammapada)

   Yet to make this real, for enlightenment to become deep and profound, the masters would say that more than a mere "cognitive" shift is required (as some current radical non-dualists at times assert); rather, a complete transformation and concomitant surrender has usually been said to be necessary:

   "When all the desires that surge in the heart
   Are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.

   When all the knots that strangle the heart
   Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal,
   Here in this very life."


     - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.6-7

   Zen Master Ummon made the statement that the first real step along the path of Zen was to see into our void nature, but that getting rid of our bad karma came afterwards. That further work is more easier said than done. It is a delicate matter, and rather a 'specialty' on the path of the Masters. More of this will be written on this in Part 2 of this autobiography. But to quote Irena Tweedie's guru Bhai Sahib:

   "It works this way: if one comes to the Saint and the Saint is pleased, he will clean your room. What is your room? Your heart. And the cleaning means that the Samskaras are being pushed. This will cause great suffering. People will then say: he is punishing her. But in reality it is not so." (Daughter of Fire(Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center, 1986), p. 576)

   One more thing needs to be said. The very nature of this awakening is such that the analogy of a drop merging into the ocean is now seen in a new light. It becomes more like the ocean recognizing that there is no drop! That is, the emphasis is no longer exclusively on what happens or has happened to the separate individual, but rather on the whole itself. It is not really about you. Yet the old self will nevertheless try by tendency to 'feather its own nest' with this very recognition! But somehow it can't get it on in the same way again. This karmic tendency, it seems, generally falls off slowly. It is hard to put into words, but after such awakening the path becomes simply one of aligning with truth, stabilizing and integrating this recognition with the world-process and/or Master-Power as it further reveals itself. It was that way before, but now one knows it in a new way. And gradually it is understood more and more how little this has to do with self. Of course it is paradoxical!

   Master Kirpal called me his friend many times during the three months of my being beaten into the ground , and how much love he had for me. Of course, I had hardly been in a condition to feel it, or understand his ways. But after this surprising finale to my stay I became convinced he 'knew' more than he publically taught.

   Years later, upon reading Irena Tweedie's account of her years of trial with her Master, Bhai Sahib, I was struck by the uncanny similarity between both my experiences and hers and the things her Guru said:

   "Trainings are different...Some are trained according to the System, and it is a long way. Some are trained according to their liking. Some are trained according to the will of the Guru."

   "If one chooses the way of the System; if it is done according to the way of the System, then it takes a long time. if one chooses the Way of Love, relatively, it does not take long. But it is difficult. Life becomes very sad. No joy. Thorns everywhere. This has to be endured. Then all of a sudden there will be flowers and sunshine. But the hard road has to be crossed first. People will hear one day that you have been turned out; and not only that, but other things, too. And it is not the disciple who chooses which road to take, but the Master."

   "There are two roads: the road of dhyana, the slow one; and the road of tyaga, of complete renunciation, of surrender. This is the direct road, the path of fire, the path of love...The path of dhyana is for the many, the path of tyaga is for the few. How many would want to sacrifice everything for the sake of Truth?"


   And what is generally considered the most precious thing on such a path? - certainly meditative sweetness, absorption, samadhi, is it not? Yet Tweedie was told:

   "You will get an experience of dhyana but it is not your path. You are trained in a different way; your way is the other way; in full consciousness." (4a)

   All true Satgurus offer these two paths, but only they know which is best for their tested disciples. And in many ways Kirpal had as much of the Sufi in him as that of the Sikh. [We will hear more from Bhai Sahib on the 'Path of Fire' in Part 2 of this biography].

   Finally, my understanding of what the saint accomplished through his skillful means was not merely returning me to the unregenerate portions of my human life, but in 'tricking' me out of a certain posture of devotion and surrender that was, however useful in the beginning stages, actually a hindrance to realization of truth. Many higher traditions teach that visions, light ecstasy, ones Master, even God, imagined as an 'other', have to be transcended in the end. This was intuited then, but its full implications were only to become noticeable over time.

   The last day at the ashram was spent in a bit of a surreal daze. India, gurus, inner experiences, light and sound, all seemed unreal. The scene at the ashram appeared strange and foreign, and still is. As I see it now, years later, because the 'me' had started to disintegrate, the reality of all the rest was now in question. Because this was not completely explained yet to the satisfaction of the mind, however, the tendency to continue the search, although hopeless, was still all too firmly in place. At the last darshan, as a group of us filed out, I felt in my self the subtle movement to resume this posture or "form" of a still ignorant seeker who wanted something from the master, and without either of us saying a word Kirpal reflected this back to me immediately with an impatient, "don't-you-get-it-yet?" look, which was uncomfortable, but I now see as compassionate. It was almost as if he were mentally transmitting these words of Hafiz:

   "What is the difference between your experience of existence and that of a saint? The saint knows that the spiritual path is a sublime chess game with God and that the Beloved has just made such a fantastic move that the saint is now continually tripping over joy and bursting out in laughter and saying, "I surrender!" Whereas, my dear, I am afraid you still think you have a thousand serious moves !"

   What the Master had done could very well be explained with these words of vedantist V.S. Iyer:

   "The Guru begins his work by asking the candidate what knowledge he already has. Then the sage may sometimes indirectly create a doubt in order to ascertain if a candidate is fit for higher knowledge."

   In my case, the "doubt-creating question" had been, "do you want something, my friend? Do you want to leave the body?" If I had answered, "yes," it would have been proof that I was not ready for the next step forward, and that the noble experiment of the Master was going down the wrong track and had failed on two counts: one, I still wanted something, and, two, I wanted to leave the body - and the world - the principle domain where true realization is to be attained, according to many sages. This is as true in Sant Mat as in any other tradition, but definitely not the carrot-on-a-stick position held out for beginners. It would have also been a failure to intuitively acknowledge the truth spoken by the modern Buddhist vipassana master Munindra who said, "If you're not happy in the body, you're not happy out of the body," which is sometimes the truth. A fuller recognition of that was as yet in the future, however, but I was beginning to get the point. Thankfully, such failure was not the outcome, although I take no credit for any profound understanding on my part but give all praise to the Guru for his marvelous, kind actions.

   In a moment of still not accepting the possibility of such a state, however, and still feeling a need to 'do something' about the ongoing mental chatter, I remembered an earlier exchange where someone had said to Kirpal, "Master, I just can't stop my mind," to which he replied, in a light-hearted but enigmatic way, "well, that is a problem for all of us!" Today, as I write, that led me to think of a saying of Ramana to a disciple, "there is room even when it's crowded," meaning that our natural state is there whether thoughts arise or not. Yet if 'Brahman is all', that includes thoughts, too, both inner and outer things. Hung-Jen similarly remarked:

   "The triple realm is an empty apparition that is solely the creation of the individual mind. Do not worry if you cannot achieve concentration and do not experience the various psychological states. Just constantly maintain clear awareness of the True Mind in all your actions." - (The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch'an Buddhism by John R. McRae 1986)

   Huang Po stated:

   "Our original Buddha-Nature is, in highest truth, devoid of any trace of objectivity.... Even if you go through all the stages of a Bodhisattva's progress toward Buddhahood, one by one, when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-Nature that has been with you all the time; and by all the foregoing stages you will have added to it nothing at all. You will come to look upon those aeons of work and achievement as no better than unreal actions performed in a dream. That is why the Tathagata [the Buddha] said: I truly attained nothing from complete, unexcelled Enlightenment." (John Blofeld, trans., The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, New York: Grove Press, 1958, p131)

   "There is absolutely nothing which can be attained." (Wang Ling Record, p. 125)

   "I assure you that one who comprehends the truth of 'nothing to be attained' is already seated in the sanctuary (bodhimandala) where he will gain his Enlightenment." (Wang Ling Record, p. 128)

   Wei Wu Wei (Terence Gray) gave an description of satori that uncannily mirrored my experience - which wasn't an experience, but more of a shift in 'center of gravity':

   "Nothing happens to anything, nothing is changed, there is no psycho-somatic event at all; mind is unaffected. It is just the
   recovery of clear vision. It has no objective existence: it is a purely subjective adjustment.
   It is not phenomenal: it has no direct body-mind impact.
   It is entirely noumenal: its existence is intemporal, and it does not manifest phenomenally.
   It is essentially impersonal - the impersonalisation of a pseudo-individual psyche.
   It is a looking in the right direction: it is a sudden understanding that there is no I subject to time."
(Ask the Awakened, 2002, p. 174-175)

   Though such a glimpse can be unfathomably deepened, and many tests lie ahead for us all, I remain convinced that it was this very taste, or "direct transmission from mind to mind", that I had received from Kirpal Singh. He had asked me what I wanted, I said "nothing," and he gave me "no-thing" ! It was many years later that help came from many sources to confirm, as I felt earlier, that this was the 'path moment' called 'Stream-Entry', the beginning of the end, and in itself radically different from - but not opposed to -samadhis, jhanas, or the fruit of concentrative meditation, yet still only a point of departure to a radical point of view that would have to be further stabilized and deepened under many conditions over time, and brought into both the feeling nature and also the will. And eventually and for most people, the entire multidimensional soul-nature as well - but not just yet for me.

   There was another characteristic of this event, only fully appreciated as the years have passed. This is a shift from what can be called an objective view, where the world of body, objects and beings are seen as separate things 'out there', to what can be tentatively or provisionally called a subjective view, where all is seen as arising within, or non-separately, from oneself. Not that it has been there all the time or even most of the time, but this does tend to change the perspective on everything. One must not, however, as I see it, remain stuck even there, but learn to 'live subjectively within an objective world'. That is to say, with Guru Nanak, "Truth is above all, but higher still is true living." Or as they say in Zen, one reaches a stage where "mountains are mountains again." This is a life-long task, with many more revelations to come. One does not simply bask in consciousness anymore than he slumbered in a world of matter. He lives, in increasing degree, from the position of his true Identity, which one could call consciousness or awareness, and many do, but I prefer to simply say the 'enigmatic, always present Mystery'.

   From another angle, the initial feeling, the seeing, was one of "I once was lost, but now I'm found," and "then I will know even as I am known." American sage William Samuel wrote:

   "IT has found you. IT has found Itself within you. IT is yourSelf that has found you. No man..can take credit for IT nor for That. You are worthy of IT or IT would have never taken place in your heart. You are a credit to IT or you would have no consciousness of its presence. The Secret has found you. It is GENUINE. IT is REAL..." (The Child Within Us Lives!, p. 215)

   It comes to a difference in perspective:

   "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." (Psalm 126:1)

   I have come to know that Master Kirpal noticed this shift in me and rejoiced, but did not take credit for it. And I certainly didn't. He provoked a crisis, which is what gurus often do, but the result is always a spontaneous event.

   One last gift of prasad (or 'blessed food"), and Kirpal's usual "remain in contact," and we parted. But this time there was an irreconcilable quandary - in the mind. "Remain in contact" - with what? The "path", which as such had been taken from me? With light and sound, which likewise had been removed? With a physical guru himself who would die within a year? Or with the enigmatic presence that was as yet a fragile thing, and which a mountain of karma would throw up doubts and challenge the acceptance of over many, many years? For I was, as Master Dogen long ago put it, 'returning empty-handed', but had yet to appreciate the beauty of it. Indeed, the words 'remain in contact' were something I many times wished I had asked clarification of, rather than accept as an injunction I could no longer understand. To this day the words bring, if intuition and insight are in the forefront, acceptance; otherwise, pain and anguish present themselves. If I had only had the forthrightness to ask what he meant, whether that meant "remain in contact with the Master Power" (through the succeeding Masters), and what to do when I could not meditate anymore, I might have been saved years of wondering and searching, because my experience, to my limited understanding, had been so un Sant-Mat-like. There are moments when, like Rumi, I have wandered like a madman searching for my Shamaz Tabriz. Yet perhaps it was best I did not know, I might have botched it, as the years of wandering and searching were useful and heaven-sent for garnering self-knowledge. Spiritual knowledge appears more often than not to be on an 'as needed' basis. Even when it is all seemingly openly revealed as it does today, thanks to a great degree to the internet, but was not forty years ago. Anyway, the very meaning of "being in contact" as such can only be applicable in certain stages; at some point one is said to see as plainly as the nose on one's face that there are not two things to be in contact with each other. As mentioned, 'recognition' rather than 'relationship' becomes the primary reality. Or one could say, there is a recognition of a paradoxical 'identity-relatedness' in what is. Kirpal's traditional parting words "remain in contact", then, either were not specifically meant at the time for my benefit, but rather those around me, or, I was to now to take them in the radical sense that had just been revealed, i.e., that it was actually impossible not to be in contact! And that to abide in the recognition of that was His new injunction.

   The end of the dream of separation had truly commenced, but still, many trials lay ahead. Yet to say they have been 'mine' is only a half-truth: an explanation given by an 'I' that had been 'seen through' but not yet fully 'lived through'. In truth, to say that trials are yours, or that it is just the 'body-mind' that endures, are equally false. The paradoxical fact seems to be that 'we' must put the body-mind to school so long as it continues to obstruct awakening. It doesn't matter so much that there is really no 'we'! Still, awakening makes a significant difference, for now one does not merely rely on personal force of will to muscle through obstructions, but on a relaxed but vigilant earnestness in being willing to continually be undone - however long it takes or how painful it is. For that, so to speak, is the Lord's business.

   One more thing. The dawning of awakening, as many have attested over the millenia, and as I now see it, is usually accompanied by a rising sense of a primal insanity - essentially the insanity of assuming separation from the source or Being, but also in other, more familiar forms. This is the root of all of our addictions, including the primary one of being a separate self in a world of others. For me, looking back, there was TV, then sex, then spirituality and meditation, each a stronger addiction than the next. Spirituality an addiction? Yes, when it is a substitute for first facing one's existential emptiness. When those distracting outlets were removed, the feeling of going insane began to arise, as mentioned earlier. This process basically can't be helped. A recent book in fact had the title, "You're Not Going Crazy, You're Just Waking Up!" We are, individually and collectively, in a hypnotic trance of separation, and it is that which is truly insane. Experiencing that insanity is the real beginning of the cure. And as the reader will see in Part Two, this insanity, after first being seen through, can go on a long time before it is completely unraveled. But please, do not wish for this! Never tempt the powers that be for rapid purification. All saints and Church Fathers caution against it. After all, who do we think we are, St. Francis? It is only useful to understand that such things do and will and must happen, in whatever form is appropriate and necessary in each case. But try not to take it too personally. This requires faith.

   As the taxi to the airport was late there was time for another brief farewell darshan, and devotee Leon Ponce asked me if I was going to go and say good-bye again, and I think that I then said the first spontaneous thing I ever had in my life, which was simply, "no, once is enough." He looked at me like I was from Mars. It doesn't sound like much, but at the time this was a little remarkable to me, as the experience of not thinking or judging the correctness of my thoughts before saying something was quite new, as was the absence of motivation to rush to "get more grace" from the Master. [That was then. If it was today, I would go back one more time.] A little story of Rinzai, however, comes to mind:

   "When Rinzai (Lin-chi) was meekly submitting to the thirty blows of Obaku (Huang-po), he presented a pitiable sight, but as soon as he had attained satori he was quite a different personage. His first exclamation was, "There is not much after all in the Buddhism of Obaku." (The Gospel According to Zen, 1970, p. 41)

   This is a common way of speaking in the Zen tradition. I feel it adds a necessary dimension to appreciating the depths of the spirituality of Kirpal, but that he was even more complete than that. Many aspirants and teachers these days often casually point to such ecstatic statements without the appreciation of how pregnant with meaning they are, and how long they had been 'in the making', and how even then they only touched upon the fringes of the greater reality of the total Path, which encompasses many deaths and rebirths over a long time. Even in Zen the great masters speak of many satoris, followed by a great Satori, and then the 'practice after Satori'.

   Wei Wu Wei, speaking of the manner of the Ch'an masters and sages like Ramana, wrote:

   "Those who were qualified to teach, those few, like the Maharshi, said that silence was more efficacious, but in the early stages teaching can only be given via a series of untruths diminishing in veracity in ratio to the pupil's apprehension of the falsity of what he is being taught."..Truth cannot be communicated; it can only be laid bare....the masters never explained anything, knowing that it was essential that the understanding should come from within and not from without." (Ask the Awakened, 2002, p. 23, 85)

   [Interestingly, while on the subject of Zen, I later came to find out that Paul Repps, author of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, had become an initiate of Kirpal.]

   Kirpal never explained anything to me, and repeatedly asked me questions for which any answers were usually cast aside as inept; he made spectacular play after play for which I had no counter-move or retreat - what a wonder, what a great Master! This manner of behavior is actually fairly well-documented in the traditions, although more or less still remaining a secret to any given disciple. Irena Tweedie writes of her guru, Bhai Sahib:

   “He had hurt me by twisting my words, by accusing me of something I had not done. I was perplexed and could not get at the meaning of it all. He was ironical, made sharp, cutting remarks; then he said something which I knew was not true and contrary to facts, twisted his statements, was sarcastic and then denied everything.” [!] (Daughter of Fire, p. 612)

   We expect the guru to be gentile and all-loving - by our standards. We do not realize that one of his central roles is to break a spell in the disciple - a strong, fixed spell of egoity - which, if not done, prevents truth from manifesting, however many spiritual states may occur. Bhai Sahib stated:

   “What is the difference between a bad Teacher and a good Teacher? A bad Teacher will always behave how his followers expect him to behave. The conventional idea of a spiritual Teacher is that he is always kind, benevolent, compassionate, dignified, wearing robes, or garments which distinguish him from the ordinary mortals, uttering at all times wise, profound sentences…But a good Teacher obeys a law of which the world has no notion…He may do things which people don’t understand, or may even condemn. For love does not always conform to the conventional idea people have made of it. Love can appear in the shape of great cruelty, a great injustice, or even calamity. In this respect, one could say that the Sat Guru is similar to God. He cannot be judged or measured by worldly standards. Shamsi Tabriz was said to be rude and abrupt; he used to address his audience as ‘oxen’ and ‘asses.’ Nevertheless, he was a great Teacher and Rumi dedicated a whole book of poetry to him.” (Ibid, p. 524)

   The next day I was on a plane for New York, 24 years old, shell shocked and not knowing exactly what happened, but knew something was not the same, nor would ever be the same. But the mind needed a long time to digest what had happened. This was for the most part before the advent and proliferation of the current crop of non-dualists and the teachings of no-seeking, abandoning the search, etc., so I felt quite on my own. As I said, Kirpal left me with his usual fairwell words, "remain in contact," as mentioned before, but that was the last thing that I felt I had anymore, meditation was dead, and I didn't know what he meant, at the level of the mind in any way - except to remain held by the enigmatic no-thing-ness that presented itself to my consciousness - and I was to be in a real sense without the consolation of a spiritual "home" or sangat apart from that since then, and never had a chance to get further explanation from Him. This was no doubt a goad to true self-understanding. Disciples of Sant Mat uninitiated into such a path may not understand what I am saying, nor do I feel overly compelled to speak about it. It would make no sense to most, and I am not yet 'done', but a work in process. I still have doubts, but within a growing undercurrent of trust in Being, and many moments of 'un-knowing certainty'. This had never been there in my former days as an anxious seeker.


   Among Kirpal's last words to me were "convey my love to your parents," and, "do you need any money?" The first statement conveyed a task I as yet had no inkling of its difficult and profound nature, given that I had been raised in a dysfunctional family and bore the wounds of a neurotic upbringing, being especially emotional distanced from my father for quite some time, and which I will speak directly as to how I tried to heal the wounds with him later, while the latter sounded strangely like a mirroring of something my father might in his own manner of true solicitude might have said to me. Imagine, Him asking me if I needed some money! Strange indeed, yet refreshing in light of the many scandalous and self-aggrandizing reports about gurus that we have seen. In the meantime, I had my hands full just becoming re-acquainted and comfortable with my body.

   The Years Pass

   "Do not question me about the grief of fruitless waiting; That is a long story, not simple in telling." - Sant Darshan Singh


   When I first got home, I began to notice that the old familiar places: the neighborhood streets, ponds, and streams, the maple tree outside my bedroom window I had literally grown up with, our house, were not the same as they were. They were, but yet they weren't. They lacked the quality of home they used to have, and in fact lacked any real identifying quality at all. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, which I spent weeks getting used to. I certain level of my 'self' that I had invested in all of them was gone. It was 'empty' in a way, but interesting - certainly not boring. Without going into too much more detail on these perceptual changes, however, I will say that after my return to the States I began what subjectively was experienced as a long and even more terrifying and depressing descent back into my body and world. The sense of being drained spiritually continued for years, at times beyond belief, immense inner exhaustion with no outward reason, and after a relatively short time, perhaps a couple of years, amidst disbelief, I gave up trying to meditate formally for good, surrendering to the unknown process that was taking over what seemed like the remnants of what was left of my 'spiritual' life, the mind slowly dying to its attempts to resurrect the path as it had known it. Within just a few months of my return, the sense of normal support for my breathing mechanism were even undermined, and a new difficult struggle began. Merely sitting comfortably was impossible. The nature of my sleep changed also. The sense of going inside at all at night gradually was eliminated, and externalization became more profound. My soul felt literally like a glove that had been turned inside out. It was also as if I had been thrown back to what I had been since birth, with the unhealed effects of all its attendant psychic wounds intact, but without even any natural spiritual capacity remaining to distance myself from them, and this would become the battleground in the years to come. Or perhaps it was simply unloosed suffering for its own divine purpose.

   I know for sure that if the six-month initial period of this in 1973 alone had been concentrated into just a few days I would not have hesitated to jump off a bridge outright, the shock and pain would have been so unbearable. It appears that the Master, with an apparent-to-the-ego harshness, was bringing to conscious, to be eradicated or purified, a deep-seated tendency to hate the body, indeed, to having been born. One can only guess about such things, but that is how it has seemed at times. In any case, the unconscious was to become conscious, and not merely left behind by a celestial yoga. This was not my choice. This was the complex process of grace purifying the 'subconscious reservoir of the mind,' which Kirpal said was so necessary. I was deeply 'rotting', and as one contemporary teacher has said, 'no one choses to rot, the rot chooses you.' Perhaps even the Masters do not ultimately have the ability to 'cause' - or 'prevent'- such a thing, but only be an empty conduit in their capacity as awakened Souls to enable or speed up such a thing.

   Kirpal himself also said:

   "Wonderful are the ways in which a true saint tests those who come to them."

   Indeed. And Sant Darshan Singh wrote:

   "Once we come to a Master, where is the question of losing faith? Remember he has taken a vow never to leave or forsake us until he has taken us to our eternal Home. But we should also realize that we must go through the stage when we feel abandoned, when we feel that the Master has deserted us. This is one of the features of the path of mystic love. We must go through this stage without a grumble on our lips, for this stage is in reality a gift from the Master himself to help us grow. Ultimately, it is for our benefit, for our own salvation. There is a divine purpose behind everything the Master does. We may have to spend a lifetime of tears to get his love. We cannot demand the gift supreme from our beloved. The gift descends at the appointed hour...In order to make something of great value and beauty of the lovers, the Beloved sometimes shakes up the hearts. Not all the lovers can withstand it. Many hearts become crushed and broken in this process. But those who are able to submit to the Beloved's shake-up, and who surrender to it, are not broken - instead they come out whole and give forth the sweetest taste. Such lovers who have surrendered to the Beloved's treatment, be it gentle or vigorous, are the most fortunate." (from Spiritual Awakening)

   And this is often part and parcel of what is meany by being called a 'friends.' As deCaussade writes:

   "I have no doubt that our Lord will always treat you as one of his friends, that is, he will send you crosses, sufferings, and humiliations. These ways and means that God makes use of to draw souls to himself do this work so much better and more quickly than the creature's own efforts. That is because the very fact that it is God's action alone at work is destruction to self-love and tears up the roots that we cannot even uncover without great difficulty. But God, who knows all the secret lurking places of self-love, immediately proceeds to attack it in its stronghold, and on its own ground."

   Whether such a process of mining the depths of the psyche is necessary for all I do not know. The Buddha, however, suggested that in some form such was the case:

   If its root remains undamaged and strong, a tree, even if cut, will grow back. So too if latent craving is not rooted out, this suffering returns again and again. (Dhammapadda, 338)

   Likewise, C. G. Jung stated:

   "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."

   Why does it often seem that troubles and tribulations follow our pleas for help? It has been said that it is precisely because we have asked for speedier development. Negative karmas as such of lifetimes arise to be purified, which is truly a 'reward-punishment' as Judith had said. But there is also a positive purpose invoked, if one knowingly or unknowingly has offered himself in service, which, if accepted, may require several lifetimes of preparation - lifetimes which may come under 'compression'.

   deCaussade, however, much like Kirpal who spoke of the way of self-effort being 'long and tortuous' as compared to the path of self-surrender, does point to a simpler way:

   "If we were strong enough and faithful enough to trust ourselves entirely to God, and to follow Him simply wherever He wished to lead us, we would have no need of great application of mind to labor in the work of our perfection. But because we are so meek in faith that we wish to know where we are going, without trusting in God, our way becomes much longer and spoils our spiritual efforts."

   Ah, but it is supposedly only 'a rare and noble soul who can assume such an attitude'......


   It is not that over the succeeding thirty years there were to be no 'experiences' of note but merely a form of insight. There were, but they were not of the subtle, yogic or visionary variety. On numerous occasions the knot at the heart has loosened, and without leaving the body , the body-mind itself seemed to expand to take up the space of its environment, with consciousness lovingly arising without the dilemma of personhood. This was much different than the ajna chakra or 'third eye' and spinal-line experiences I had under my initial years of shabd yoga, before the grace-enduced "calamity" with Kirpal Singh put an end to those, for the time being at least. These later experiences as such were spontaneous gifts and not the result of any effort or intention. But much of the time the sense of enclosure, albeit with a 'hole in the head' still there, remained the case, as if there was still work to be done here.

   Sense desires long ago left behind came back with a vengeance, and it took a number of years for that to mellow out, to put it mildly. And there was a real battle. It was as if my suppressed body craved deep in its cells what it had denied itself and what had been replaced by spiritual comfort but which now was no more. I learned what real physical need was, likely the degree of touch an infant needs in the first few days of his life, like water to a man dying of thirst in the desert. I wanted - needed - the juice of life. Swami Muktananda confessed in Play of Consciousness how, after a great deal of sadhana, and receiving much inner bliss and samadhi from his guru Swami Nityananda, he was then in turn plunged into the depths of depression and despair, and facing the strong insurrection of sublimated sexual desire, so much so that he felt abandoned and a failure, for a time:

   "Where had my rapture, my ecstasy gone? My pride and elation had been taken away, and I was suddenly the same poor, miserable wretch that I had been before meeting Nityananda.. My mind was filled with remorse. Where was my earlier intoxication? Alas, what had happened?..My peace of mind had been destroyed, and all my thoughts were leading me into a deep melancholy...My body was sore all over, and my head was hot with anger, fear, and worry that danced around inside me..I cannot write the horrible thoughts that filled my mind, but - it's true - I had them. I was obsessed with impure, hateful, and sinful thoughts...I was assailed by all sorts of perverse and defiling emotions...The whole universe was on fire. A burning ocean had burst open and swallowed up the whole earth. An army of ghosts and demons surrounded me...At the time, I had not heard nor read about such a state. I had only heard pompous talk about Vedanta and explanations of its verses...My Guru worship and the mantra Guru Om, Guru Om disappeared. Instead, in their place came a powerful sexual desire. Who knows where it had been hiding all this time? It completely possessed me. ..I could think of nothing but sex! My whole body boiled with lust, and I cannot describe the agony..I tried to explain it to myself in some way, but I couldn't...I felt frightened, ashamed, discontented. It started to affect my brain. I brooded, and my anxiety grew. I thought, "This disaster is the result of some terrible sin"...I sat there in deep depression. I began to be afraid of all women. My courage had waned. I was afraid I might indulge in wanton behavior. I kept thinking of all the sadhakas of former times who had fallen from yoga, deviated from the path, and destroyed all their good karma. I remembered the stories of Ajamila, Surdas, and even saint Tulsidas, and wept. The overwhelming power of Kamaraja, the king of lust, terrified me." (Play of Consciousness, SYDA Foundation, 1978, p. 72-94)

   Irena Tweedie tells of a similar 'kundalini' stimulation during her discipleship with Bhai Sahib:

   "The most terrifying night of my life began. Never, not even in its young days has this body known anything even faintly comparable, or similar to this! This was not just desire; it was madness in its lowest, animal form; a paroxysm of sex-craving. A wild howling of everything female in me, for a male. The whole body was SEX ONLY; every cell, every particle, was shouting for it; even the skin, the hands, the nails, every atom..Waves of wild goose-flesh ran over my whole body making all the hair stand still, as if filled with electricity....[The next night] was even worse than the first, if such a thing is possible at all. It was unbearable. Beyond myself with desire, half unconscious, I suddenly noticed in the dark room around me, some kind of whirling, dark, grey mist. Trying to focus on it, I detected that there were strange shapes moving about and soon I could distinguish most hideous things, or beings; leering, obscene, all coupled in sexual intercourse, elemental creatures, animal-like, performing wild sexual orgies. I was sure I was going mad. Cold terror gripped me; hallucinations, madness; no hope for me - insanity - this was the end...Buried my face into the pillow not to see; perhaps it will go, will vanish; but the aroused desire in my body forced me to look. I did not even know, not in this life at least, that such disgusting practices are possible; with dogs, men, women and horses, the most ghastly spider like creatures obscenely moving around, all leering at me, dancing grey shadows...Things I never knew could be done, or could exist; the most lecherous filth, I had to witness this night. Never knew? If I did not know it, how could I see it? It must have been somewhere in my depths, or else how, how could I see it? It must have been in me. One thing I was sure of was that I was going mad. I never suspected that anything like this darkest vice could be experienced by a human mind, for it was not within human experience. Such helplessness, such black depression came over me...After a completely sleepless night, the body shaky, I was so weak in the morning and full of shame." (Chasm of Fire, Element Books, 1979, p. 57-60)

   Bhai Sahib explained that this was the shakti or divine energy purifying the karma's of the body-mind:

   "Ancient karma's form part and parcel of the blood. It was in you. It would have dragged you back again and again into the womb, but from now on it will burn itself out. From time to time this fire will burn in your body. This is purifying fire, this suffering, and you will need a lot more." (Ibid, p. 88)

   Even St. John of the Cross spoke of this process in The Dark Night of the Soul:

   "In those who have afterwards to enter the other and more formidable night of the spirit,, in order to pass to the Divine union of love of God (for not all pass habitually thereto, but only the smallest number), it is wont to be accompanied by formidable trials and temptations of sense, which last for a long time, albeit longer in some than in others. For to some the angel of Satan presents himself - namely, the spirit of fornication - that he may buffet their senses with abominable and violent temptations, and trouble their spirits with vile considerations and representations which are most visible to the imagination, which things are at times a greater affliction to them than death."


   A major purpose of these trials, says St. John, is to foster wisdom:

   "For, if the soul be not tempted, exercised and proved with trials and temptations, it cannot quicken its sense of Wisdom. Fo this reason it is said in Ecclesiasticus: 'He that has not been tempted, what does he know? And he that has not been proved, what are the things that he recognizes?'"

   These examples are offered in the hope it may help someone understand and endure a similar process if it so happens. I certainly did not face it with anywhere near the elegance or perseverance of these saintly characters. One may object and say that as the Sants teach to 'avoid (or bypass) anything to do with kundalini', that therefore this should not have been necessary or was some kind of a mistake. I can only say what unfolded in my own case. I didn't chose this or seek it out, as by now should be apparent, but it seems to me as rather inevitable, given my prior development and soul's destiny. My guess is that much goes unsaid within the company of the Sants, and that whatever is needed for real growth will occur, including so-called kundalini, in any and all of its variations, if it is necessary to bring the body itself into the spiritual picture. Obviously, this will not happen for everyone in so graphic a form.

   In any case, there were years of intense pain. I tried to be noble, but all too often fell into flagrant sin when the heat of purification became too great. I suppose one could now say, as spiritual teachings have become widespread and we are not limited to just one point of view, that this is characterizing what is in large part an evolutionary process in too negative a fashion, as a way of denial, rejection, or escape; but nevertheless, as the song goes, and among other things,"I do declare, there were times I was so lonesome I took some comfort there, li dee di..." Armed with a story of philosopher Rousseau who, after a night on the town with his students, was invited out again, but said, "No, boys; once a philosopher, twice a pervert," my mind used this as an excuse one solitary night in Santiago. But just once. At least I paid her, a poor Chilean girl struggling to make a living. In Tibet if you pay that is acceptable unless one is a monk. I was not a monk, but had some higher knowledge, and therefore the penalty is greater, but while I look back at this with regret, to look back is futile, as I know I could have done no better given the pain and feelings of abandonment and bewilderment I was in then, despite my satori, and ultimately it was a hard learning process of coming back into this body and transforming it. I say this because if there is hope for one such as me, there is definitely hope for you, who are not likely to have done any worse.

   Aside from all that, every attempt I made to resurrect or reconnect with the path as I had known it met with total failure. I wish I could tell you that the road was smooth. It wasn't. I had many a temper tantrum where I threw down my book cases and ripped up the Master's books - in fact, many of my spiritual books (most of which I bought back later!) - and photos, too, in frustrated despair. In my heart I remained a devotee, but to all outward appearances often I was not. This, I believe, is not an uncommon way of relating between a child and his parents, when trust is not completely undermined. I felt freedom to act like this at times, for I knew that my master did not - could not - hate me for it. Fortunately, I received guidance, consolation and some confirmation of my dilemma over this in the writings of the eighteenth-century mystic Jean-Pierre deCaussade:

   "For the soul that desires nothing else but the will of God, what could be more miserable than the impossibility of being certain of loving Him? Formerly it was mentally enlightened to perceive in what consisted the plan for its perfection, but it is no longer able to do so in its present state...God and His grace are given in a hidden and strange manner, for the soul feels too weak to bear the weight of its crosses, and disgusted with its obligations...The ideal it has formed of sanctity reproaches it interiorly for its mean and contemptible disposition. All books treating of the lives of the saints condemn it, it can find nothing in vindication of its conduct; it beholds a brilliant sanctity which renders it disconsolate because it has not strength sufficient to attain it, and it does not see that its weakness is divinely ordered, but looks upon it as cowardice....This is, without a doubt, a death-blow to the soul, for it loses sight of the divine will which, so to speak, withdraws itself from observation to stand behind it and push it on, becoming thus its invisible principle, and no longer its clearly defined object..."

   "This soul has made its way, like others, at the beginning; like them it knew what to do, and did it faithfully; it would be vain now to attempt to keep it bound to the same practices. Since God, moved by the efforts it has made to advance with these helps, has taken Himself to lead it to this happy union, from the time it arrived at the state of abandonment, and by love possessed God; in fine, from the time that the God of all goodness, relieving it of all its trouble and industry, made Himself the principle of its operation, these first methods lost all their value and were but the road it had traversed. To insist upon these methods being resumed and constantly followed, would be to make the soul forsake the end at which it had arrived to re-enter the way which led to it."

   "God hidden in his veils gives himself with his grace in an altogether unknown way, for the soul feels nothing but feebleness under its crosses, disgust with its obligations, while its attractions are only to very commonplace exercises. The idea which it has formed of sanctity reproaches it internally with these low and contemptible dispositions. All the saints' lives condemn it. It knows nothing with which to defend itself; it has light to see a sanctity which, however,brings it desolation, for it has no strength to rise to it, and it does not recognize its weakness as divine order, but as its own cowardice."


   And the crux of the matter:

   "It is no doubt a great blow, like death, to the soul, this loss of the sight of the divine will, which retires from its sight to take up its position behind it, as it were, and impels it forward, being no longer its clearly conceived object but becoming its invisible principle. Experience shows us that nothing so much as this apparent loss inflames the desire of the soul for union with the divine will. What profound sorrow for the soul . . . no consolation is possible. To ravish God from a heart longing for nothing but God, what a secret of love! It is indeed great secret, for by this way and by this way only are pure faith and pure hope established in a soul." (Abandonment to Divine Providence, Book Two, Chapter III, Section I, IV)

   Or as Rumi said:

   "This affliction is not because you are despised. When you were green and fresh, you were watered in the garden; that watering was for the sake of this fire." (The Pocket Rumi, p. 161)

   Even meditation made me more extroverted, impossible as that may seem to be, whether in a successor Master's company or not. Here it was that I had never completed the course of inner meditation and succeeded in experiencing what the theosophical classic The Voice of the Silence described as the "voidness of the seeming full" (i.e., the spiritual realm), but now I was being forced into the "fullness of the seeming void!" (i.e., the world).

   Fortunately, this kind of thing is not unheard of. A similar process was described in detail years ago by Sri Aurobindo. In the sadhana of his integral yoga the goal was not an exclusive one of purification of the psyche in order for the soul to ascend into the realms of light, nor even one of the jiva remaining in the physical world until his karmic debts are paid off, as mystical paths such as Sant Mat often account for seeming setbacks or delays in progress. Rather, after some success at mental and vital control or mastery, and initial experiences of the soul or ‘psychic being’, by dint of grace or self-effort, one is drawn down into the depths of the physical nature without the comfort or direct support of the higher faculties in order to once and for all overcome its fundamental inertia and ignorance. Thus, on this path one both ascends to the Light above, and the Light descends to spiritualize the nature below. This is actually mentioned in Sant Mat, but in a somewhat oblique manner. The key similarity here is that only after some support from above has been given does one confront, by and through the action and power of the greater Spiritual Force, the lower parts of the being to transform them. Aurobindo writes:

   “Most sadhaks of the old type are satisfied with rising into the spiritual or psychic realms and leave this part to itself - but by that it remains unchanged, even if mostly quiescent, and no complete transformation is possible.”

   “Hitherto your soul has expressed itself through the mind and its ideals and admirations or through the vital and its higher joys and aspirations; but that it not sufficient to conquer the physical difficulty and enlighten and transform Matter. It is your soul in itself, your psychic being that must come in front, awaken entirely and make the fundamental change.”

   “These are things which come about almost inevitably in one degree or another at a certain critical stage through which almost everyone has to pass and which usually lasts for an uncomfortably long time, but which need not be at all conclusive or definitive. Usually, if one persists, it is a period of darkest night before the dawn which comes to every or almost every spiritual aspirant. It is due to a plunge one has to take into the sheer physical consciousness unsupported by any true mental light or by any vital joy in life, for these usually withdraw behind the veil, though they are not, as they seem to be, permanently lost. it is a period when doubt, denial, dryness, greyness and all kindred things come up with a great force and often reign completely for a time. It is after this stage has been successfully crossed that the true light begins to come, the light which is not of the mind but of the spirit. The spiritual light, no doubt, comes to some to a certain extent and to a few to a considerable extent, in the earlier stages, though that is not the case with all - for some have to wait till they can clear out the obstructing stuff in the mind, vital, and physical consciousness, and until then get only a touch here and there. But even at best this earlier spiritual light is never complete until the darkness of the physical consciousness has been faced and overcome. It is not by one’s own fault that one has fallen into this state, it can come whem one is trying one’s best to advance. It does not really indicate any radical disability in the nature but certainly it is a hard ordeal and one has to stick very firmly to pass through it. It is difficult to explain these things because the psychological necessity is difficult for the ordinary human reason to understand or to accept.”

   “It is always the effect of the physical consciousness being uppermost (so long as it is not entirely changed) that one feels like this - like an ordinary man or worse, altogether in the outer consciousness, the inner conscousness veiled, the action of the yoga power apparently suspended. This happens in the earlier stages also, but it is not quite complete usually then becuse something of the mind and vital is active in the physical still, or even if the interruption of sadhana is complete, it does not last long and so one does not so much notice it. But when from the mental and vital stage of the yoga one comes down into the physical, this condition which is native to the physical consciousness fully manifests and is persistent for long periods. It happens because one has to come down and deal with this part directly by entering it, - for if that is not done, there can be no complete change in the nature. What has to be done is to understand that it is a stage and to persist in the faith that it will be overcome. If this is done, then it will be easier for the Force, working behind the veil at first, then in front to bring out the yoga consciousness into this outer physical shell and make it luminous and responsive.”
(4b)

   Kirpal hinted at this greater transformation when he wrote, in Spiritual Elixer, that "the subconscious reservoir of thoughts and impressions from past lives must be completely drained out before it can be filled with love of the Lord/Master." That and the previously quoted remark about the true devotee not wanting even emancipation - and the reported fact that when, thus prepared, one drinks deeply of the Naam, he comes out saturated in all of his cells from head to toe with the divine - suggests an integral form of realization and not an exclusive escape from the plane of illusion, such as the old yogas proposed, but which is yet not explicitly explained most of the time in Sant Mat techings.

   Contemporary non-dual teacher Adyashanti spoke of 'embodiment':

   "After sudden Awakening to the Self, there begins a process of gradual embodiment of the transcendental into the human personality...This process of embodiment is a continual stripping away of every remnant of attachment and ego. It is a movement of continual surrender to the vast implications contained within true spiritual Awakening. It is a phase of spiritual unfolding fraught with many dangers, self-deceptions, and misunderstandings....As the opening progresses, the body must readjust. When space opens up, it provides room for the body to re-harmonize and to return to its natural state. During this process, some people's bodies experience a real shake-down. This can be quite dramatic because energy that has been trapped on the various levels - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual - is released. This trapped energy is what keeps you off-balance and in a state of suffering...This energy has to break loose before it can re-harmonize and get into the proper flow. This bursting out can feel exhilarating or terrible; it can be tremendously powerful or mild. The harmonization may take weeks, months, or years. It may be very strong or imperceptible. Everyone is different; it just depends on how out-of-whack you've been...Having a profound awakening can be like taking the lid off of a jar. All the karma that has been repressed, all the karma at the bottom of our misery that we aren't conscious of, comes flying out because there is finally space in which it can emerge. When it hits you in the face, you wonder where your Freedom went and what went wrong. But understand that this is a consequence of the Freedom; it is not a mistake. Everything wants to come up into and be transformed by the Freedom. If you let it come up into this Aware Space, which is Love, it will re-harmonize."

   He further writes, on what has become known as 'spiritual bypass':

   "You Are Life Itself. If you want to be free, you cannot hide from anything. Many spiritual seekers are using spiritual practices as a means to avoid many aspects of themselves. The problem with this is that as long as you are avoiding anything, you are not living in truth. You are avoiding truth. No one ever became enlightened by avoiding truth. If you want to be free, then you must face yourself and face your life as it is. Do not use spirituality or spiritual experience as something to hide behind. As long as you are avoiding parts of yourself, or life in general, then even very profound spiritual experiences and revelations will have very little permanent effect on you. Do not simply seek to transcend life, but realize that you are all of Life. You are Life itself." (5)

   In words very similar to those of many body/mind-oriented psychotherapies, he suggests the need for insight to penetrate the many layers of somatic 'imprinting' to make any enlightenment last, that is, to make it 'stick'. In my opinion, he sometimes underestimates or downplays how long that can actually take, which well might be an entire lifetime, or more, depending on how deep grace wants to take you in your realization. If one digs carefully enough, one will find something of this mentioned in most great spiritual traditions, even seemingly purely mystical ones, in spite of any 'carrot' that they might dangle in front of beginners to keep them interested in simply enduring the ordeal of practice.

   This is furthered clarified by the writing of neo-Gurdjieffian, E.J. Gold:

   "In our little glimpses of the awakened state, because they are only glimpses, and therefore momentary and incomplete, we should remember that our experiences of these states are imperfect...Secondly, we should realize that, because the machine [physical and emotional bodies] was not fully awake during these glimpses of awakening, the machine still exerted its will, and because the machine was not fully awake, and vestigial traces of the sleeping state remained somewhat active to a greater or lesser degree, we inevitably experienced some discomfort which would not be a part of a complete waking state."(6)

   This confirms that the proccess of awakening may first take place in the head and above, and only later descend and infiltrate the heart or the emotional body. This part may be far more difficult and painful due to all the knots we tend to carry in that area. Even so, we can see how different all this is from the conventional description of the path in Sant Mat. The Sants yearn for the soul to ascend and reach Sach Khand and merge therein; the sages, on the other hand, say they no longer have a separate self to care about any such thing, and also sometimes speak of a "downward" practice whereby the enlightened state penetrates deeper into the life vehicle. I feel both goals may be our final destiny, yet mysteries and paradoxes abound, which I spent years grappling with, and I remain in a 'cloud of unknowing' even today. Which isn't as bad as it may sound. It is relieving, really. "When you ain't got nothing, you've got nothing to lose." However, in truth both paths have a point of intersection: one is said to die at every plane quit by the soul, and thus, no separated ego ever makes it to Sach Khand, or deep into the Heart.

   Nevertheless, I have sometimes pondered how useful such information and guidance might have been in those early years. But everything is at it should be. Perhaps the "me", the ego would have corrupted such knowledge to delay its own demise. Most likely it would. God knows what is best. What is certain is that the result of a heartfelt prayer is profound. "Never be too proud to pray," Anthony Damiani once said. But if the higher Self takes you at your word, be prepared. Even Adyashanti spoke of going through a period where his Zen practice was in essence reduced to nothing but a constant prayer to a God he didn't even believe in, saying, "I can't do it, speed this process up, as fast as you can, whatever it takes, make me an instrument of thy will."   Doubting his motives, he asked his teacher about his condition and received the reply, "no, such a prayer is the prayer of the buddha, it's o.k."

   I found a great description of the process leading up to that moment in the courtyard, as well as the many years afterwards, in a little-known gem of a book, which I highly recommend, called Do You See What I See? by Jah Jae Noh (Edwin Smith):

   "How, then, does the student finally come to truth? Since everything a student does is unconsciously aimed at avoiding truth, it is only through constant confrontation with truth that the student finally understands, accepts. In effect, truth simply outlasts the student. No matter what the student tries to do, truth keeps on coming at him until he finally wears out and surrenders. But this process obviously requires that the student persists. It requires that the student be dedicated, sincere...Since everything he does only avoids truth, he surrenders to That Which Is, Reality, Truth, God. He allows himself to be done by Reality. His activity is to not inhibit the process of Truth..He does all this in the faith that it is alright.....Among sincere students, any method will serve to promote spiritual realization. Among the insincere no method will serve. Thus, methodology is irrelevant to realization. Methods are illusory, serving only to pacify and gratify the mind. That which accounts for the realization of some and not others is readiness. Readiness is the activity of surrendering at each moment to the flow of guidance, until that form appropriate for realization is presented....It is the dedication and sincerity of the individual which acounts for even the possibility of realization..All methods are merely activities performed while waiting for divine presence to make itself known to you." (7 )

   Not only was it impossible to go back to the old way of following the path, but my growing understanding was saying that it would, in fact, be wrong and fruitless to do so. The genie was out of the bottle, and there would be no point in trying to stuff it back in. This may well be the case for others also at a particular point on their journey. As Paul Brunton wrote:

   "The philosophic approach does not limit the seeker rigidly to a single specific technique. While it asks him to follow the basic path and fulfill the fundamental requirements which all beginners must follow, it also points out that this is only general preparation. A point is reached when he is ready for more advanced work, and when the personal characteristics and circumstances which are particularly his own must be brought in for adjustment if he is to receive the greatest benefit. No two seekers and the surrounding conditions are ever exactly alike and, at a certain stage, what is helpful to one will be time-wasting to another."

   "It is a common error, among the pious and even the mystics, to believe that one path alone - theirs - is the best. This may be quite correct in the case of each person, but it may not necessarily be correct for others, and then it is only correct for a period or at most a number of lifetimes."

   "Each man's path is his unique one, with its own experiences. Some are shared in common with all other seekers but others are not; they remain peculiar to himself. Therefore a part - whether large or small - of what he has to do cannot be prescribed by another person, be he guru or not. In the groups, organizations, schools, there is too much rigidity in the instruction, the rules, and the expectancy aroused of what should happen at each stage."

   "There is a way suited to the particular individuality of each separate person, which will bring out all his spiritual possibilities as no other way could."
(Notebooks, Vol. 2, 5.198-203, 218)

   The insight that remained in spite of this long ordeal of purification was still tenuous, or, i.e., not constant, and I found that the mind needed convincing in order to believed. Yes, believed. The plain fact is that understanding needs to catch up with the realization. So I greatly expanded my study of the traditions as well as reading everything new that I could, which became a consuming passion, spent time with other teachers, not so much searching for another guru, as in any case none I had found came close to what I saw in Kirpal, but for deriving benefit wherever I might find it, much as in the tradition of disciples of the Ch'an Masters of old or Tibetan Buddhists who wandered about, in attempting to more fully understand and test their experience, condition and practice. My study was to complete my education, but not primarily to seek truth, but to confirm and clarify what had already occurred and was occurring in this body-mind. Many good books spoke to my heart, and it is the character of such living books that they require multiple readings and reflective study in order to yield the full fruit of the Glimpses and life impulse of their writers. My copies are dog-eared with many underlinings and notes on the borders. This, I have come to conclude, is a weakness for some in the path of Sant Mat: there is meditation, but little or no emphasis on either contemplation or study. Without this it is very difficult to 'birth' an open mind, or to have perspective on, and understand, one's experience. For it is one thing to have an experience, and another to understand it. Both are necessary. Meditation is good for concentration, but contemplation of truth, both relative and absolute, are needed for gaining wisdom. So say many sages.

   My confidant had said to me that I would need another guru, and while I took that with a grain of salt, it stayed in my head and I thought of it from time to time. I eventually was to spend seven years in the community of Adi Da (aka Da Free John), from 1984-1991, attracted at first by his teaching of "radical understanding" in The Knee of Listening and The Method of the Siddhas, which I came upon soon after arriving back in the States in 1973, and much of which seemed to mirror my own experience, particularly his talks on the guru undermining the disciple, and the contrasting models of spiritual growth of the 'ladder' versus the 'dropping out the bottom of the bucket.' It seemed to propmise a free-flowing investigation of the truth based on what appeared to be genuine wisdom teaching that reconciled many divergent dharmas. I had sensed that he might be that "other guru" that my friend had said I would need, and did receive several heart - and body/mind - expanding experiences, but finally left for several basic reasons: one, a growing sense of needing space to find my own way; two, a glaring discrepancy between the brilliant written teaching and the sociopathic and even criminal actual goings on within the inner circle of the guru to which I was fortunately never willing to do what was required to get involved with, and never even knew about that much until after I had left; and three, a feeling that there was still a heart connection with Kirpal. Do not misunderstand me, it is not that I ever felt that I had left Him. That notion was not really possible anymore. I just didn't practice shabd yoga anymore, although not because a part of me (but only a part) didn’t want to, but mostly because I simply could not, and also felt my awakening process, at least for a time, proceeding in another dimension.

   I had gone to Adi Da because it seemed right for me at the time, and the further working of grace on my path. One disciple of his had even claimed as early as 1975 that he had a vision on the grounds of their sanctuary in northern California in which Kirpal had appeared and said that "He liked the vibrations of the place." This person supposedly had never even seen a picture of Kirpal before that time, which I took as a good sign about my decision, and that I was on the right path. I was in a bit of a dilemma, to a degree, because the successor gurus to Kirpal appeared and were still teaching Sant Mat, and I would not outright invalidate them nor reject them in my heart, although I had little interest in approaching them, as for as far as I was concerned, grace was leading me in another direction, whereabouts unknown, but certain.. But as far as Adi Da was concerned, I eventually, like many others, felt that changes in his teaching and character made it impossible for me or others to freely pursue the same 'radical path of understanding' that he himself had undergone, and which had initially drawn me to associate with him. I also felt little attraction to the guru-devotional cult that arose in his teaching work, and in fact one day found myself throwing with full force a heavy paperweight at his murti photo, smashing it to bits, in frustration at not being able to do such a practice. That was the beginning of confirmation that this was not my path! More importantly, however, the changes in his character also drove home to me the biblical phrase that, "Lucifer masquerades as an angel of light," and "Satan can deceive even the elect - if such were possible." There is much that I do not wish to discuss here regarding much abusive behavior on his part, but I will simply say that while I do not entirely regret my time there, that was then, this was now; much had changed, and it was time to move on. One thing I will make clear, however, is that I did not leave in any way because of a loss of hope, but rather a fundamental lack of trust in and agreement with many fundamentals of his teaching and person. In fact, when I left I immediately felt a surge of hope, although I will admit that for a few weeks I found some comfort hanging out in a Christian bookstore - mainly because it felt peaceful and they didn't bother me or ask me if I believed in what they did believed in. I asked no questions, and neither did they. I stopped going there, however, when they called me up one week and asked if I would help them drag a cross around town on Easter Sunday!

   More probably, as PB wrote, the actual situation was that

   "Although guidance and teaching from other sources should be gladly welcomed as enrichment or supplement, as completion or rounding-out, the inner affinity is so personal, so intimate, so deeply felt, that no one else is really able to take the place of the karmically destined guru."

   Meanwhile, I had two careers: computer programming, then chiropractic; got married at age forty; raised three step-children, somehow without forethought gradually took up ultra-mountain-marathoning at age fifty, etc., basically trying to live a normal life, while dealing with a paradoxical demolition from within...It has been an interesting thirty-five years, filled with mistakes, humiliations, revelations of ego, attempts at healing (including three bouts of primal-type therapy, at ages 28, 34, and 58, with mixed results, because inevitably at some point due to my spiritual background I would "wake up" out of therapy [not that the subtle shift I had enjoyed at Sawan Ashram ever left, but as I now see it, it had to be further clarified over time]; I would really wake up and "see" that there was nothing wrong, usually drawing a negative response from the therapist! There was a tussle in my mind about all of this because I (and many others quite commonly) associate having deep pain arise mean I was doing or had done something wrong, or that someone else - my parents - had, rather than seeing that it was the very fact of my awakening to consciousness that allowed such processes to occur and deepen, with all the doubts and confusion as being O.K., and just part of being human). So, successes, failures, adventures, fulfillments, heartaches, simple pleasures, agonizing pain, occasional blisses, bitter aridities, a sense of incarnating deeper and deeper into the World, with mysticism a long ago dream, was my experience, but all punctuated and even interrupted with a sense of freedom, clear seeing and conscious awakening as well. At times the witness-consciousness would more dramatically arise, affording a great relief, and being centered somewhere behind my head. I would feel my body and mind arising to consciousness. At other times a much deeper experience would shine forth, creating a smile so wide it could not be wiped off my face, and tears of joy would appear. It was as if my Being was pressed forward into the world, and I didn't have an 'inside' anymore. The distance between myself and things and others would be greatly decreased. These more intense forms of experience were not common, but, to say the least, it made it hard to explain to any therapist exactly where I was at or what I was feeling from moment to moment! These experiences were a different dimension from anything mystical I had long earlier experienced, and they would occur in the most incongruous places: sitting in the classroom at chiropractic school, with the body expanding and the room about to dissolve, in my security guard booth at night, while sitting in my car at lunch, even while sitting on the John! This went on for a period of about a year while I was in chiropractic school, then stopped, to only intermittently happen randomly in the years I was in Adi Da's community. Then they stopped entirely for about fifteen years. That was not heartbreaking, because by this time I knew that, enjoyable as they were, they were still only experiences occuring to a 'me'. What was already the case, what was already me before, during, and after the experiences was much more important to know.

   Carrying out the Master’s words

   I wish to backtrack a little at this point and relate what I promised to discuss earlier, which was how I tried to fulfil Kirpal’s dictum to me to , “convey my love to your parents.” First off, ‘his love’ in full was impossible to convey, as he was a Master, not I. But I also soon learned that, even doing the best I could, this was a most difficult and painful assignment. First, love takes many forms and is an art to learn, and, second, others have to be receptive to what you most want to give them. Yes, I now had more inner freedom to bear with the triggering that close contact with old scenarios (like my father's gruffness, putting me down, and so on) would bring up, and I could flow with the punches, especially as he began to show obvious signs of aging, and I was also now the bigger person in some ways. But it was extremely difficult. My mother, bless her heart, always supported me, but, in retrospect, even in relationship to her I woefully failed to live up to Kirpal’s words by simply not visiting nearly often enough, although I lived very close, until 1979 when I moved to California after they had moved from New York to retire in Florida. I was just still too much into myself to succeed at loving, struggling to live out my life getting a job, having relationships, suffering their loss, while simply trying to be nicer and more understanding when I did visit home.

   This is a very difficult issue to work through. On the one hand, scriptures extoll the merit and necessity of being grateful to one's parents for what they have given you. Jowo Atisa, the great Buddhist master, said:

   "To be kind to those who have come from afar, to those who have been ill for a long time, or to our parents in their old age, is equivalent to meditating on emptiness of which compassion is the very essence."

   Patrul Rinpoche similarly wrote:

   "It is said that even if we were to serve our parents by carrying them around the whole world on our shoulders, it would still not repay their kindness. However, we can repay that kindness by introducing them to the Buddha's teachings." (Words of My Perfect Teacher (Boston: Shambhala, 1998), p. 200)

   Our problem, however, comes from both our inadequacy in loving, and also our parents' demands that we become 'made in their own image', so to speak, or even outright abuse in some cases. Of course we must accept that this is our karma from deeds done in previous lifetimes, yet it is a hard fact that in many cases one must, for a time at least, remove himself from familial circumstances, like a tender sapling needing a fence around him, to grow and gather strength to face unaccepting loved ones with compassion. Once a young man came up to Kirpal and said, "I don't know if I should get initiated, I think my parents won't like it." Kirpal replied directly, "Who is getting initiated, you or your parents?!"

   Kirpal himself had loving parents, but himself had to stand up for himself when they pressed him to eat meat. Yet he also nursed his father back to health after a debilitating stroke, receiving his blessings (an important thing in India), after which he said that that very night he began having visions of his future master's Radiant Form inside. But we are not masters. We struggle and fail badly at times. What more can one say? It is an anguish to truly come to feel deeply how poor one is in his capacity for loving, and also an anguish to feel that those one loved did not want what one had to give, and are languishing in samsara without hope. But also a blessing to know that the promise of the Masters is that one's near and dear ones for seven generations past and future will receive spiritual help from them, whether they have any response whatsoever to the teaching or are even aware of their existence. [Once I thought that this was a promise found only in Sant Mat, but have recently come across this statement in Ramakrishna, the Great Master, speaking to this issue of paying one's debt to his ancestors: "The scriptures say that a true Sannyasin [i.e., renunciate, or let us just update that to say, 'spiritual seeker in the broadest sense'] liberates, by virtue of his spiritual merits, the seven immediately higher and seven lower generations of his family"].

   Much earlier, before I had gone to India, I once took my mother to meet the Master. She was receptive to whatever I asked of her. It must have seemed a strange scene, I am sure. We walked into a meditation sitting in a dark room in New York City, and when the lights came on Kirpal asked for a show of hands as he often did, asking who saw what in meditation: the Sun, the Moon, the Big Star, who crossed the Big Star, golden light, white light, the Master’s Radiant form, etc.. I thought my mother must have felt it was very weird. When the Master got up to leave, however, he walked right by her and I noticed my mother gazing at him, almost shocked. Well, this was long forgotten until many years later when my Aunt Ruth mentioned to me that my mother was ‘very impressed’ with Him - something she had never told me. So one never knows what the impact of a saint will be. It was said that a single glance of Baba Sawan Singh from a moving train was enough to transform a complete stranger forever. These Masters have said that a disciple’s relatives for seven generations, past and future, are graced, and when my mother died in 1995 I was right there, with my hand on her heart and forehead as I sensed her life currents leaving, and I believed inside that the Master was helping her transition. She had been conscious until I arrived at her side, my sister and niece saying that she had been waiting for me, her baby boy. Then she lapsed into a semi-comatose state while I tried to invoke and remember the Master’s presence. I was remarkably composed, yet sad, but was only capable of crying for real years later.

   My father, on the other hand, after reading one of the Master’s books, simply said, “it sounds like a form of hypnotism to me.” And when I got home from India he said that he thought I had thrown away everything by doing so. I therefore never pressed the issue further with him. But he had read a book! - one chance in a million to plant a seed of enlightenment given his habitual karmic stream. So I happy for that, and rest content in the faith that he is being taken care of.

   Once I got a gainful job he settled down and was okay. I tried to just be with him at his own level, not trying to change him or delve into the past or discuss anything ‘spiritual’ or related to feelings either. It was just too much to ask of him. He was what he was, due to his past, and was not going to change. So it was a lesson in love just to do that much. But I still felt like I was failing at my guru’s request. When I did decide to abandon my computer career and go to chiropractic school, I asked my father if he could help me. He was very nice and immediately offered me $10,000. At that time this was enough to cover tuition for four years, and I was moved by his kind gesture. He did care about me and also felt it would be a good profession, too. Then I hugged him for the first time in my whole life. This was some kind of achievement, as one of my girl friends had described my father as being “Archie Bunker.” Even my brother-in-law told me that “he was just a hard man to talk to.”

   The fact was, as I came to realize, he was very lonely. I think maybe he wasn’t listened to as a kid enough. His own father, who as grandfather to me was wonderful, as grandfathers often are, gave him the name, L.G. Holleran, Jr., and that, I was soon to find out, was something he could never quite live with. I had discovered this actually when I was sixteen, and we were at the dinner table when my father, a periodic alcoholic, was drunk. Just the two of us were there. He was talking, confiding in me (the kid, not the adult) about his father. He said, thumping his fist on the table, with muzzled anger and despair, “I was glad when he died, because he called me ‘Junior’, and I could never live up to it.” His father was a self-made man whose own father was the town drunk in a little village in upstate New York, and he had to work hard to support his family while also putting himself through college. He eventually became well-known, head of the New York City Society of Engineers and in charge of building what at the time was the ground-breaking designed Bronx River Parkway. He died, in aguish, because of a bad heart, not being able to take it when he heard that his son, my dad, was also in the hospital - drying out with the DT’s - and he exclaimed, “oh no, not my son!” So I felt bad for my father when he told me these things, but he was supposed to be the adult listening to me and my problems, not the other way around. The next day I mentioned this to my mother and she said, “what he said is not true at all. He called his dad his ‘rock’, and at the funeral they had to hold him up because he was in so much grief.” So my father told a truth about his feelings about his Dad, but not the truth. He loved him dearly, but carried unfelt wounds. The full impact of his pain didn’t hit me until years later when I was more capable of feeling my own. That’s how it works. One’s own pain always comes first. You can try to be a boddhisattva, and should, but in reality you can only but try until free from the bulk of your own inherited woundedness. Kirpal would often say to people, "how long are you going to keep this pain within you?" In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said almost the same words, "If you do not bring out that which is within you, that which is within you will destroy you."

   I knew after five years as a computer programmer I needed a change as that field was just not my interest or compatible with who i was and which was making it self felt more pressingly as the years went by. I could not hide from myself and my destiny or gifts to the world any longer. I had obtained a history teaching degree as well as phiosophy degree at Cornell, but, being the highly politicized Vietnam era, there were no high school social studies teaching positions available when I got out of college, so, after the trip to India, and a year of substitute teaching on a short-term basis at local schools, which was a disaster as any teacher could tell you (kids always giving you the 'business', as I had done in my own time!), I went to a headhunter in 1974 and asked him to find me some other kind of job. He said, “here is a good one: computer programming for the Burrough’s company.” I said, “that sounds good - what’s computer programming?!” At the time they would hire you off the street without any computer background and train you themselves. But as a relief from the stress of substitute teaching, always being the brunt of student’s pranks and non-cooperation, I was grateful to just settle into a simpler, but boring routine. Until, however, I could no longer stand it. I didn't like wearing a tie and working in a building with no windows. Plus it wasn't my thing. I was thinking to myself, "if I can only hang on for two more years I can save up $20,000 and buy a farm in Vermont and live a hippie life." But I couldn't wait that long, as the stars were pressuring me onwards. When my Saturn return hit at age 29 I made a quick decision to fly to California and start a new life, going back to school and also hoping to take up with a lady I had met in a health store when I had been sent out there on training with Hewlett Packard after I had left Burrough’s. I held a garage sale within a week of quitting my job, sold my car on the way to the airport, and was soon back in California to stay. When I got out there, it figures, the girlfriend promptly dumped me for some more exciting guy and I was suddenly alone in a new place, starting from scratch. School was a good experience, I met many nice people, but had a limited social life because I worked nights as a security guard where I could study on the job to make ends meet and come out of school debt-free. I met friends, but would be lying if I didn't say I was often lonely.

   The important thing I want to share now was how I attempted, even at this late date, to get closer to my father, still remembering what Kirpal Singh had said to me. You see, a true Master’s words burn deep, and you can never forget them. So I felt I had some work to do. I called my dad once and said how I loved him and wanted to (somehow) spend more time with him. I was now thirty. He just said, “no, no, those days are gone,and I just wish you all the best in life.” The tears were streaming down my face as I heard his words and the weight of my past came tumbling back as if it were just yesterday. But I still wanted MORE, both from him and from me. So I thought of a ‘plan,’ which I will divulge shortly.

   It took me a long time and what I now recognize as the fundamental qualites of intention and courage, however meager they were in my case, to finally 'know' and 'heal' the wounds with my father. They still aren't healed, on my part, but at least they aren't crippling like they were. I live much more in the present, and can see when I am afraid of confrontation, put myself down, feel worthless, and so on. But, it took a long time the revelation of hidden content to surface and be integrated with the consciousness that had begun to come alive as me. Some spiritual types, such as those of the advaitic persuasion, will say, 'why bother doing any of that?' All I can say is that something within told me I needed to in order to 'be real'.

   Anger and rage were hard to get to, grief for me was easier. But for years they were more like crocodile tears, and my first therapy intensive was not very fruitful, given the high hopes I had after reading The Primal Scream in 1975. I was just too shut down to feel anything bodily. I found I had to get out there and live, as best I could, and let the world teach me what I was and what was in me. To give an example. When I was twenty-five, more vulnerable to my true feelings after my final encounter with Kirpal, but still pretty poorly wired, if I went into a Hallmark card store and look at Mother's or Father's Day cards I would have to leave because the emotion that welled up was too much. I felt like a phony for sending a card that said, "Love" when I really felt "I still need you" in the case of my mother, and a "F--k you, you bastard, why didn't you love me?!" overlay on a deeper "I need you, too" in the case of my father. In reality, he did the best he could, given the circumstances of his life: a tough father, struggling through the Great Depression years, serving overseas in WWII, where he had learned to smoke and drink, and it was my problem at that point to turn the tables and love him as best as I could. Years later the insight came to me that my deeper wound was not that of not receiving enough love, but being frustrated that no one wanted what I came here to give them. In any case, I might say that I did as best as I could, but in retrospective often feel I failed. But I don't dwell on it too much any more.  We only all do the best we can with what we have, after all. I was not a saint, and could no way live up to the great and sacrificial way my Master showed love to everyone and everything: his own family, almost from birth, as well as strangers whom he served in hospitals as well as on the streets during the flu epidemic of 1918 when few would touch the dead bodies, and later fearlessly amongst bitter enemies during the tragic time of the partition of India in 1947. Such grandious capacity was not my given task. I was to attempt to heal wounds within my immediate family and within my own heart.

   After college a second time at age thirty-four, I was stronger, more vulnerable, and I did another primal intensive, which was more productive, but still not fireworks (I can see now how in spite of an attempt at healing I was still trying NOT to feel my essential loneliness). It was not until much later in life that key feelings of ‘brokenness’ began to surface in a powerful way, without my directly digging for them. In fact I came to understand that simply getting out there and living in a hard world (to a sensitive quadruple Pisces) would be key to healing any wounds that in the security of a therapy room, for me anyway, had refused to surface.

   At one point during chiropractic school, I felt like trying  find a way to nurture that love for both my father and I again. Our first few years together were sweet, then he took to drink; my sister left the house at eighteen because of abuse, she was nine years older than me, and, along with my mother, my chief ‘protector’. My father never hurt me physically, but did belittle me too often and stuffed my creativity and self-expression. I grew afraid of the nice warm daddy who took me places, played catch, talked kindly, and whose lap I enjoyed crawling into at age five to have him cut my toenails.

   So I decided to learn to play chess, because that was one of his passions. We used to play when I was a kid, but this time I purposely got books by the great masters and studied really how to do it right. I went out of my way, without great hopes of regaining my lost childhood, but of maybe healing a part of it. I can't say I got that good at the game, but I was excited to have something to share with him. After all, he was getting old and frail.  I visited them, not with overblown hopes but with interest and some enthusiasm. So, we had a game. Sorry to say, halfway through the game in his usual gruff way (he, too, like me, had a Scorpio affliction - Moon square Pluto - in his chart, and also grew up with a due-to-life-circumstances tough Scorpio father as well) at one point he said, "No! That's the wrong move. What's the matter with you?!"  Nothing major, right? Yet, I just popped. I was older now, thirty-five, and could talk back. I snapped and said with an increasingly louder voice, "The only thing wrong with me is that you have been saying that to me for thirty years and I am SICK OF IT!!" He quietly stood up, said, "the game is over," and walked off into his room. I, being the bigger person at the time, so I thought, immediately was stung to the core, but also felt anger, and shame at what I said - my feeling was that he didn't know any better, while I did (neither of which were really the truth but my projection and self-judgement) - and I felt I had to do something. So I followed him into his room and calmly tried to explain why I felt like I did, which wasn't easy. When I was done, all he said was, "You're too sensitive."

   Of course, feeling people know that my deep inner response was more like, "you're god-damn right I am  sensitive and there's nothing wrong with that, you a--hole!" But, I said nothing more. I felt a responsibility, and it just wouldn’t have been fair or kind to him. He couldn’t understand. Expressing that kind of anger at this stage of life would just not have been right. My point with all this, however, is that I was pro-active, and it got me to a deeper feeling. Tears fell all the way home on the plane.

   A few years passed, and my father was now dying of colon cancer and emphysema. I was thirty-eight, had had two primal intensives by now, and also had been  a practitioner of two spiritual paths. I went for what was to be a final visit, and he was in bed. One day he, quite innocently I think, asked me to cut his toenails because it had been months perhaps since he was able to do so. I don't think he made the connection (remember, that was one of the highlights of my early childhood memories; I immediately thought about it, however, and it seemed like my life had gone by in a blur). So I cut them, and, as I was now a chiropractor I also, quite naturally, massaged his feet as well. Later that evening, to my surprise and delight he made a statement to the family members present that, "Peter was king for today."  (Keep in mind, when my sister moved out when I was nine, our house became ice-cold; I was never praised). Boy, that was sweet, but, at the same time,  it really stung. The lost years came front and center (my second therapist, a big burly guy like my father, had told me, "there's a lot of love a dad can share with his son"; that hurt, but it was years before I could feel the real loss). This time the buried wound was right there. I left soon after, never to see my dad alive again. As with my mother, when I received the news that my dad had died, I did not cry. Not until much later did I really become able to weep for my loss. There was a lot of ice still to melt before that was possible.

   I know many have a lot worse stories and traumas to tell, but you know how insidious neurosis is. I internalized most of it and went dead bodily for a longtime starting at age ten. I became afraid of my dad, who, once my sister left, who he treated poorly and even beat her when he was drunk, took his frustrated anger out on me saying, if I voiced a contrary opinion to his, “what do you know, you’re nothing!” too many times. My mother would always stand up for me and say, “he is not nothing!”, but the damage was done. So that it how it went. It is all my responsibility at this point.

   Now, at sixty-seven, I have felt the shortness of life, but also, quite strongly, the unreality of time, which is very relieving. What’s done is done, and I feel in a creative period. And also, surprisingly, an increasingly physically active one. A new desire has arisen: the wish to live truth, healthy and expressive, even youthfully, as far as possible, for a long time. I value the human body like never before. I do not rationalize its ephemerality.

   Of course at times I have missed the physical Master, as well as old friends and family, and what are perceived as 'lost' years, terribly, from time to time, but then again, all such drama is seen as misperception, and the symptoms of a psyche that is in terminal stages of metamorphosis, nothing more or less than that. The inner ‘hub’ was withdrawn, it is true, but that was only the beginning of another great process whose completion is yet to be.

   When informed by phone that Kirpal had died I curiously felt nothing at the time, both because he had already internalized himself in me, and also restored me to myself in a fundamental way. I didn't quite know how to relate to him yet. I was reading the book Crooked Cucumber about the life of Suzuki Roshi and found him mentioning that he felt it odd at a similar age in life that he also felt nothing when his own master died. This was after he had an enlightening experience. Yet, his most emotional years were still in front of him. He went through great personal tragedies. Much growth lay ahead, and much deepening of his enlightenment, which he always downplayed, however, if not flat-out denied.

   So, that is how I did my best with what I had to try to convey the Master’s love to my parents. I feel it is not very impressive, and sometimes have felt disppointed that that was the best that it got, but also feel there was karmic closure on my ‘account’. And the third thing he said to me, besides “do you need any money?” and “convey my love to your parents” - the “tell everyone you are a new man” part? Well, I feel that is what this writing effort is all about, kind of like Sufi teacher Irena Tweedie writing the biography, Chasm of Fire, about her transformative ordeal with her own guru Bhai Sahib, and at his request. Kirpal Singh changed my life, and indeed saved my life. There used to be a saying of Sawan Ashram that 'it was the place where men were made’. I can’t say I am a man yet, but believe this statement was true. So much on the path of the Masters, the 'scrubbing', goes on under the surface, intimately, secretly, and often unknown to the outer and even inner personality, and may only be revealed in its fullness perhaps in the kingdom of heaven. ‘Enlightenments' happen, yes, and - so? We must still become human. Remember "Truth is above all, but higher still is true living," said Nanak. Kirpal also wrote:

   "It is not the inner experience which determines the spiritual progress, but the basic personal attitude of serene living of the child disciple, which proves his or her worth." (7a)

   I will also say that it is never to late to love. One may grieve over a lost opportunity, but we do not come into this world with a blank slate, nor do we depart that way. Each of us asked to be here, with our past tendencies as well as the environment in which to play those tendencies out. The loving effort we make carries beyond this life. Need confirmation? - the Beatles sang it! So I trust that my parents are in good hands, and our bonds have not been broken, and at heart cannot be broken. The main lessons I learned from the master's words to me are several. One, by trying to love I came to realize the truth behind the statement a kind therapist once told me, that "you can only hate those you love." A wise spiritual teacher I had before Kirpal once confessed that even when his father was beating him he still loved him. That remark took many years to sink in. But it is true. In spite of the hurt, I never stopped loving my father in my heart. And the Master's words and very being are only there to help open our hearts. But to open the heart, one must first find out that it is closed, and how very much it is closed. Then, as the rust softens, one discovers what the Tin Woodsman meant when he said, "Now I know I have a heart, because it's breaking." Once the wounds or imprints are opened enough, a new level of feeling can emerge. This might even be felt as a new form of suffering, along with whatever bliss is uncovered along the way. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpiche eloquently spoke of this, which is none other than true boddhicitta, the great heart upon which every great Master is forever impaled:

   “If you search for awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there except for tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness. This kind of sadness doesn’t come from being mistreated. You don’t feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely exposed. There is no skin or tissue covering it; it is pure raw meat. Even if a tiny mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched. Your experience is raw and tender and so personal. For the warrior, this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that, if someone hits you, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world.” (7b)

   To reach such a state requires grace. It is not something one can merely do alone by dint of self-effort. As Kirpal Singh once wrote, in perhaps somewhat dated language, but it matters little for its central meaning:

   "The reservoir of the subconscious mind is filled with worldly thoughts, impulses, and instincts inherited from past lives. This must be drained out completely before it can be filled with love and devotion to the Lord-Master." (7c)

   Only the divine can fully accomplish such a task. This, in my opinion, goes far beyond merely 'getting it' as some contemporary non-dual teachers sometimes imply. It is in fact an essential part of actualizing by stages true non-dual realization, which in Sant Mat begins in its most direct form with the soul's rebirth in Sach Khand, but the essence of which is sometimes realized on this and other paths without such inversion - although still through a profound metanoia, emotional-mental purification, and deeply contemplative process.

   The ego's efforts are insufficient but necessary, says Paul Brunton, to chip away at the ego and provide the preconditions for the higher Self to deliver it a 'knock-out blow'. As Hindu scripture states,

   "When all the ego's vastness have been extinguished, the power of the Self, acting through the grace of God or Guru, consumes the ego and destroys it."

   Or, as Kirpal used to say, "A few minutes of the Master's grace, and then...?"

   Do not worry, it is impossible to 'totally' drain out this reservoir! Nor do we accomplish that. The negative imprints will be burnt out chiefly by a complex process of Grace, in cooperation with our patient efforts, and inevitable surrender. Actually, the entire cosmos cooperates in achieving its success, in this so-called 'womb of the buddhas.' The amount of purification to be undergoing is also somewhat indeterminable; it will no doubt be great, more than we would choose willingly, but, it perhaps might be said, no more and no less that what is sufficient for the soul's purposes.

   So, it is never too late. As long as there is breath, as my master used to say, it is never too late. We may stumble, but always falling forward. That way we remain on the way home, because, also, in each such moment, we are home. The harvest is rich, and on this path grace is the prime mover. Yet it moves in mysterious ways. Have simple faith and you will be free. That is what I am learning and I bid you to trust in it, too.

   Continuing saga and conclusions learned from my experience

   Though I will not at this time flesh out this point, the years since 2005-2010 initiated another plunge into the 'dark night', or subterranean mining operation, than before, which has not yet been completed. Again, it is as if an increase in conscious awareness has allowed for this body-mind to have a deeper purification to occur. Where it will stop, nobody knows, but I feel it will. For the intimate, gritty details, the reader with an interest is directed to Death of a Dream - Pt. 2. Some will understand, while other well-meaning souls will not. This is just my honest confession, no more, no less.

   Along the way in the early years I came across a beautiful little story by Tracy Leddy that spoke directly to my emotional experiences in many ways.

   I do not intend to suggest my path or process is special or better than that of or necessary for anyone else. Indeed, I usually feel if anything that it has been a tough cleansing process for me because I was sicker than most, yet am ready to accept that ultimately even that is my own illusion and projection. The truth is I don't really know for sure, and it is better to have no judgement of these things. To imagine that one is or has done something wrong because he or she has pain is an incorrect one, a supposition about what may just be the human condition in various dimensions of recognition and feeling. For some, however, it appears that the way seems only bliss and peace and happiness. That is most likely due to their enjoying a lifetime of favorable karma - either that or successful avoidance of a 'deeper walk with the Lord'. Blessed be the Guru and those for whom that is the way. The path for 'me' seems to have largely been one of extended purgation and repeated episodes of a dark night of the soul as uncanningly described by St. John of the Cross in an important descriptive link [approximately one page], and not an easy one of peaceful inner meditation. In fact, it has been such experience that led me to write a much longer and detailed article on that phenomenon in order to understand my own ordeal. This, besides the present biography, was the second article I ever wrote, and is a lengthy exposition recommended for its completeness in comparative detail of similar archtypal passages on many different paths.

   Such a course is definitely not what I would have chosen. deCaussade once again seemed to reflect my experience:

   "Never forget that you may, possibly, find yourself bereft of everything in the most complete spiritual poverty, and left to the simple practice of bare faith for the extinction of self-love. This death of self hardly ever occurs without a deprivation of all things, and at the mere thought of this one's very nature shudders. It is then that one seems lost indeed, without any support, and left in the most cruel abandonment." (Spiritual Counsels, Book Four, Letter XX)

   Except that in my case there was the gift of radical insight that made this stripping tolerable and at times, in a sense, even interesting - although still painful. Having left the Sawan Ashram 'hospital', I was as yet in 'out-patient care':

   "The heavenly Physician has therefore treated you with the greatest kindness in applying an energetic remedy to your malady, and in opening your eyes to the festering sores which were gradually consuming you, in order that the sight of the matter which ran from them would inspire you with horror. No defect of self-love or pride could survive a sight so afflicting and humiliating. I conclude from my knowledge of this merciful design that you ought neither to desire nor to hope for the cessation of the treatment to which you are being subjected until a complete cure has been effected. At present you must brace yourself to receive many cuts with the lancet, to swallow many bitter pills, but to go on bravely, and excite yourself to a filial confidence in the fatherly love which administers these remedies."

   "You know what I think about a keen feeling of your weakness and powerlessness. Fenelon says that this is a grace to make us despair of ourselves in order that we may hope only in God. It is then, he adds, that God begins to work marvels in a soul. But usually He performs His work in a hidden manner and without the soul's knowledge, to preserve it from the snares of self-love...We need not be astonished when we experience afflictions, when even our reason totters, that poor reason so blind in the ways of faith; for it is a strange blindness which leads us to aspire after perfection by the way of illumination, of spiritual joy and consolation, the infallible result of which would be to revive ever more and more our self-love and to enable it to spoil everything."
(Book Four, Letter XXI; Book Seven, Letter 12)

   A little dramatic, but so it goes. Everyone and everything "new-age" - as well as medical, clinical, psychological, or spiritual - often argues against it. But it is what it is. Some things we apparently have little say in. At times when things get difficult, I have regressed and unloaded my woes on my friends, searching here and there for answers and ways to 'fix' or make things 'better'. In the end, however, all alternatives and therapeutic solutions fall short, nothing avails but faith, surrender, and the seeing of what Is. And remembering what I have been shown, and continue to be shown. Karmic purification is another way of looking at it. "First realisation, then deal with the evil karma," said the zen master. However one views it - better not view it in any way at all - I have been forced to ignore the noise and protestations of the mind. It eventually reduces to one thing: Kirpal Singh as God or the Self of my Being called me His friend, and is remaking 'me' from within. At times he was rough, and at times it has been tough, yet that simple conclusion is all that makes sense. It is all that matters, and yet concurrently, in truth, 'no-thing' matters and there is 'no-self' as the self. How easily this paradox gets forgotten. Yet even this is not quite it, but had to be included to maintain a semblance of spiritual 'political correctness'. The path is simple and complex. One could say that there are stages of ascent, stages of descent, stages of understanding, stages of unknowing, degrees of surrender and levels of purification.

   In restrospect, I learned a few things at Sawan Ashram. Years later, only after the experience, I understood, I think, some things about the ways of the guru. One, as Ramakrishna said, there is a need to "lance the boil," and that, medicine acts only after the sore is opened. These were words he used in reference to his two most famous disciples Brahmananda and Vivekananda, whom he was often noted for ignoring. Proximity to an advanced soul sooner or later stirs up the hornet's nest of the disciple's ego. This can occur before and after various awakenings. Tendencies in the aspirant that have been covered up or avoided, for years, even by spiritual disciplines, are moved to the surface for final eradication. This is a process that once set in motion could take years for completion. That may be one reason Kirpal hit on the "sex nerve" with me in the context of the diary. On this process in general Rangan, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi, once asked:

   "How is it that the egos of some of your devotees, instead of becoming less and less, seem to grow more and more by their contact with you?" Bhagavan replied, "If the ego is to go away, it has to come out first from its hiding place. When water is put on the stove to be boiled, it must get heated, overflow and then evaporate." (8)

   Sadguru Gananananda was an example of a guru whose treatment of his disciples varied widely depending on their needs and intimacy with him:

   "There were many occasions when the Swami would start a devotee on the road to introspection. This he would do by being indifferent to him, by admonishing him in the presence of others. This was designed not only to fathom the devotee s faith but also to deflate his ego and subject him to relentless self-probing. The Swami would also impose the discipline on those who were very close to him and who he thought deserved his consideration and spiritual ministrations. The cravings and mental oscillations of the past had to be erased and obstructive old paths and habits made to fade away and die, if the unmortified affections of the heart were to be sublimated to a congruous harmony. The more he chastised a devotee the more likely it was that he was very close to him in spiritual kinsmanship. The more he treated a devotee with cool indifference or a frigid look, the more likely it was that he was brooding over the welfare of the devotee." (9)

   On this theme of testing, in answer to a questioner, Sant Darshan Singh once said that there were no tests, but only regular difficulties on the path. Kirpal, however, explicitly affirmed:

   "Masters are commissioned to take all to Sach Khand. He will not if you are not clean. Make my job easier. I must clean you...Masters always test their followers, each in his own methods. These tests are for advanced disciples - those who have advanced by the Master's grace - and usually they are not aware of what is happening." (Sat Sandesh, September, 1973)

   While I certainly do not fall into the 'advanced' category, his point is clear - you will generally not know what is taking place. This 'drama' has happened with such regularity in the past it will be interesting to see how this tactic of the gurus plays out in the future, given how it has been spoken of so frequently in many books that are now readily available.

   deCaussade again writes:

   "Do you know what a well-disposed heart is? It is nothing but a heart where God is found. Seeing his own intentions in such a heart, God knows that it will always remain submissive to his orders. At the same time he knows that you do not know what is good for you and he makes it his business to give it to you. He does not mind disappointing you." (Abandonment to Divine Providence, Book Two, Chapter 8)

   There is also the story of Milarepa and his guru Marpa:

   "Marpa scolded and even beat Je-tzun Mi-la ra-pa many times. This was not because he personally disliked him, but because out of compassion he saw the needs for skillfull means that were forceful. Thus if your Guru is wrathful to you, try to see this as a method he is using to tame your mind and lead you to Enlightenment. As a Buddha, how could he possibly hate you?" (10)

   The famous Sufi Maulana Rumi gave an elegant summary of this play of the true Master:

   "First he pampered me with a hundred favors.
   Then he melted me with the fires of sorrows.
   After he sealed me with the seal of Love.
   I became Him. Then, he threw my self out of me."

   He also wrote:

   "When God loves a servant He afflicts him; if he endures with fortitude, he chooses him; if he is grateful, He elects him. Some men are grateful to God for His wrathfulness and some are grateful to Him for His graciousness. Each of the two classes is good; for gratitude is a sovereign antidote, changing wrath into grace. The intelligent and perfect man is he who is grateful for harsh treatment, both openly and in secret; for it is he whom God has elected. If God's will be the bottom reach of Hell, by gratitude His purpose is hastened." (Discourses of Rumi (Fihi ma Fihi))

   Sant Darshan Singh said:

   "Remember he has taken a vow never to leave or forsake us until he takes us to our eternal Home. But we should also realize that we must go through the stage when we feel abandoned, when we must feel that the Master has deserted us. This is one of the features of the path of mystic love. We must go through this stage without a grumble on our lips, for this stage is in reality a gift from the Master himself to help us grow. Ultimately, it is for our benefit, for our own salvation. There is a divine purpose behind everything the Master does. We may have to spend a lifetime of tears to get his love. We cannot demand the gift supreme from our Beloved. The gift descends at the appointed hour." (11)

   Ah, but the nature of this gift is so often unrecognized even when it is given! To some extent, the failure to properly articulate a true teaching on the part of the masters is responsible for this. And also because the ego-centered individual is not able to grasp what it means for it to be dislodged from its position of sovereignty. That is, it imagines its spiritual goal as a personal attainment. The ego, or more properly, the exclusive egoistic point of view (for blanket dismissal or judgement about the ego itself is inherently a negative, and arguably esoterically incorrect, position), is, unfortunately, as I can confess from painful experience, nearly impossible to dislodge from its seat of sovereignty and will easily disguise itself, even through spiritual techniques. Paul Brunton (PB), therefore, for instance, has spoken several times of thinning it down through discipline and then "tracking it down to its lair," which he considers the inner Void, where it can finally be delivered "a knock-out blow", but, on the other hand, he, too, says it must "come out of hiding." But how can it come out of hiding, however, by only retreating within? There is so much room for it to hide there! Seekers do it all the time. Moreover, if the Self is potentially One with the All, how can that truly be realized if the All is negated, including the much-maligned ego? In an integral realization, the ego, too, has its place. Perhaps even a bit of egoism, too. Indeed, much of the 'self-centeredness' that the ego is criticized for is a product of its shadow side, or the super-ego composed of shoulds and shouldn'ts. The ego is just a functional part of the human persona. In fact, it has been said to be an evolutionary development that is in fact necessary for the very quest itself. Therefore the paradoxical function of the spiritual Master, and the entire cosmos itself, the miraculous "womb of the Buddhas", which teaches the ego, not just to try to annihilate itself, but to orient itself and align its will with the deeper Being,vor whatever term suits one best. Temporary merger or forgetting of the ego in ascended samadhi alone won't do it. That is at best a halfway house, if it is in fact your karma to have it. Otherwise the karmas, so-called, must be purified or 'burnt' out. This requires and facing our tendencies and transforming them instead of just sweeping them under the rug or hoping they will just go away or be avoided by meditation. The alchemical gold is found in the muck and mire. Kirpal used to say to beginners that it was psychologically impossible to give up one thing without attaching oneself to something higher, for which purpose he promised to an initial boost to have stable contemplation within. In a way that's true, but this sort of teaching, in my opinion, is really just for our spiritual infancy. Real transformation takes place in the fire. How can one become chaste, for example, if one has no lust - that is, if one doesn't even allow himself real feeling? You see? Our imperfections are the requirement for reaching perfection. They may be denied, or sublimated, but really in the end must be transformed.

   Moreover, one must paradoxically "die while alive", literally - that is to say, in place - not only by ascension, although that may also happen. This concept greatly enlarged my view of the spiritual process - and simplified it - depending on one's point of view. There are many forms of death, perhaps only one great death - and then, there is the rebirth, the new life. Few traditions talk about this part of the process.

   Secondly, years later I came to the realization that what PB termed a transition from the Long Path to the Short Path via the dark night of the soul, was part of the meaning of my gift from Kirpal Singh. That is, I was forcefully moved from a "long path" of self effort to the more direct route, or "short path" of self-surrender, self-recognition, and reliance on Grace. Not that discipline was to be totally abandoned forever (as for most of us, in this real world and considering our actual state, both "paths" must at some point be pursued side by side - a critical point - and I confess to making many mistakes and indiscretions, if not outright flagrant sins), but along with the earlier methods there was now a more primary need to be oneself, know oneself, balance the masculine with the feminine sides of the nature, as well as let God do the work. It is not all muscle. At some point one reaches a stage, or is graced with such a gift, whereby the work is henceforth largely done on him and not by him. I found that PB had many quotes on this shift, whose accuracy, relevance, and help for me were so precise as to also be uncanny. Yet such are the "magical" effect of the words of a sage:

   "He who finds that the Path has vanished, that he can say, "I am neither seeking truth, nor finding it," has reached the Short Path even though he does not know it."

   "The real Short Path is really the discovery that there is no path at all: only a being still and thus letting the Overself do the work needed. This is the meaning of grace."
(12)

   "Henceforth you are not to become this or that, not to gather the various virtues, but simply to be. For this you do not have to strive, you do not have to think, you do not have to work with any form of yoga, with any method of meditation."
(13)

   "The Long Path is taught to beginners and others in the earlier and middle stages of the quest. This is because they are ready for the idea of self-improvement and not for the higher one of the unreality of the self. So the latter is taught on the Short Path, where attention is turned away from the little self and from the idea of perfecting it, to the essence, the real being." (14)

   "It must never be forgotten that the work of the Short Path could only come into being on the basis of the work of the Long one, and on the presupposition of its presence." (15)

   "His quest for God has reached its terminus but his quest in God will now start its course. Henceforth his life, experience, and consciousness are wrapped in mystery." (16)

   "The transition from the Long to the Short path is really a normal experience, even though to each person it seems like a major discovery." [yes!] (17)

   "He must be willing to discard the familiar attitudes developed on the Long Path. There will be an inner struggle." [so true] (18)

   "The Short Path of recognizing the divine existence here and now, whether or not the ego feels it, is the best path at a certain stage." (19)

   "He must be free of the kind of self-consciousness which makes him aware that he is a Questor." [difficult] (20)

   "The Short Path requires him to fall into amnesia about his spiritual past. The attempt to produce a perfect being and an impeccable character need not trouble him any further.....The Long Path is likely to come first in a man s spiritual career, with the bizarre result that he is required to become much more aware of what is going on within himself - his thoughts, feelings, and character - and then, with entry on the Short Path, to become much less aware of it, even to the point of ignoring it. (21)

   "It is not a question of choice between the two paths. The beginner can hardly comprehend what the Short Path means, let alone practise it. So perforce he must take to the Long one. But the intermediate, weary of its toils and defeats, turns with relief to the other path, for which his studies and experiences have now prepared him." (22)

   "However tirelessly and relentlessly he pursues the Long Path, he may come one day to the tragic discovery that the ideal it proposes to him embodies a humanly impossible perfection. With that discovery he will fall into a numb inertness, a pathetic and hopeless state which could even bring his overwrought mind not far from a breakdown. He may feel alone and deserted. He may enter the dark night of the soul, as some mystics have named it. His ego will feel crushed. He will not know what to do, nor even have the strength of will to do anything more. At this point he must wait...out of the bleakness and weakness there will presently come a guidance, bidding him respond affirmatively to a suggestion, a book, or a teacher directing him toward what is really his first step on the Short Path." (23)

   "So long as a man stays on the Long Path alone he is clinging to the idea of his ego, which embarks on the Quest to save itself by methods and processes of purifying itself. This idea is never let go, only refined and purified. For it starts the Quest as an imperfect and low ego, finishes it as a perfectly pruned and improved one. Its own reality is not questioned, for if it were regarded as the nonexistent fiction that it is, there would be no need to purify or save it." (24)

   [See here for the complete set of chapters of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton from which these quotes were taken. This material is highly recommended for anyone who feels they may be entering such a phase. I have derived much benefit from study of all of the Notebooks].

   deCaussade, more of a bhakti, speaks of these two paths from another angle:

   "There is a time when the soul lives in God, and a time when God lives in the soul. What is appropriate to one state is inconsistent with the other. When God lives in the soul it ought to abandon itself entirely to His providence. When the soul lives in God it is obliged to procure for itself carefully and very regularly, every means it can devise by which to arrive at the divine union. The whole procedure is marked out; the readings, the examinations, the resolutions. The guide is always at hand and everything is by rule, even the hours for conversation. When God lives in the soul it has nothing left of self, but only that which the spirit which actuates it imparts to it at the moment. Nothing is provided for the future, no road is marked out, but it is like a child which can be led wherever one pleases, and has only feeling to distinguish what is presented to it. No more books with marked passages for such a soul; often enough it is even deprived of a regular director, for God allows it no other support than that which He gives it Himself. Its dwelling is in darkness, forgetfulness, abandonment, death and nothingness. It feels keenly its wants and miseries without knowing from whence or when will come its relief. With eyes fixed heaven it waits peacefully and without anxiety for someone to come to its assistance.God, who finds no purer disposition in His spouse than this entire self-renunciation for the sake of living the life of grace according to the divine operation, provides her with necessary books, thoughts, insight into her own soul, advice and counsel, and the examples of the wise. Everything that others discover with great difficulty this soul finds in abandonment, and what they guard with care in order to find it again, this soul receives at the moment there is occasion for it, and thereafter relinquishes so as to admit nothing but exactly what God desires it to have in order to live by Him alone. The former soul undertakes an infinity of good works for the glory of God, the latter is often cast aside in a corner of the world like a bit of broken crockery, apparently of no use to anyone...

   One thing has become plain to me; I can not speak for anyone else. It seems to me that the work is somewhat like a spiral, not a straight line. One will have stages of transition where one will pass to what feels like a more "Short Path" mode, and then the reverse will be necessary. There is rarely a clear-cut line between the two dispositions. Many today, desiring instant gratification, imo, instead of applying themselves by aspiring, taming the mind, enduring the purification of feeling, unifying the will and scattered members of oneself - in short, loving God will all one's heart, mind, body and and soul, thus reaching the condition of truly desiring only God's will as one's own - look for a short-cut and, rather than merely making the Long Path 'shorter', attempt a form of spiritual bypass and in actuality make their Short Path 'longer'! This leads to disappointment or a superficial realization, in many cases. Brunton says that in most cases the beginner will likely take to the long path; then at some point, even fairly soon, he will combine the two paths in a form of an alternating rhythm, producing over time two distinct kinds of results in consciousness, until at a late stage he will be fully or truly on the short (or so-called pathless) path.

   One can visualize this process in a similar way on the bhakti paths, i.e., what Kirpal called the paths of effort and the path of surrender. Initially it is nearly impossible for anyone to grasp what full surrender means; he does not know himself well enough for that. Yet the two paths intertwine for a while before ending in that of surrender.

   A traditional attitude to cultivate has been expressed as follows:

   "I delight to do Your Will, O my God. You Law is written within my heart." (Psalm 40:8)

   "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
   I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
   I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes,
   and you will keep My judgements and do them."
(Ezekial 16:26-27)

   Kirpal Singh, as mentioned, spoke of two paths, in different language. He referred to the path of self-effort as "long and tortuous" compared to that of self-surrender, but that relatively few could take to the latter, because it required one to "recede back to the position of an innocent child", and is only possible when "a disciple has complete faith and confidence in the competency of the Master", but should one be able to do so "he then goes directly into His lap and has nothing to do by himself for himself." 'Should the Lord so ordain, then, O Nanak! a person may take to the path of self-surrender'...but very rarely even a really blessed soul may be able to acquire that attitude." (25)   And in such a case, as Kirpal said, "The Guru is pledged to help the helpless."

   The simplicity as well as difficulty of the path of self-surrender is wonderfully illustrated in the case of Girish, disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.

   Sant Darshan Singh tells us plainly:

   "Only a lucky few follow the path of self-surrender. It is a difficult path, but if we are able to surrender, our life's journey becomes smooth and spontaneous. But generally we first try hard to make progress by our own efforts, and only after breaking our shins do we come to the stage of self-surrender. Ultimately, to reach our final goal we will have to come to surrender. There is no way out - sooner or later we all must come to that stage. It is just a question of whether we take a long time or come to it straight away."(26)

   He also tells us:

   "Once we come to a Master, where is the question of losing faith? Remember he has taken a vow never to leave or forsake us until he has taken us to our eternal Home. But we should also realize that we must go through the stage when we feel abandoned, when we feel that the Master has deserted us. This is one of the features of the path of mystic love. We must go through this stage without a grumble on our lips, for this stage is in reality a gift from the Master himself to help us grow. Ultimately, it is for our benefit, for our own salvation. There is a divine purpose behind everything the Master does. We may have to spend a lifetime of tears to get his love. We cannot demand the gift supreme from our Beloved. The gift descends at the appointed hour...This is a path on which we have to leave behind all impatience and impetuosity and wait for the divine will to have its way in the realization of our dreams, in the realization of the supreme objective of our life. This is a path on which we have to surrender our will to the supreme will of God....In order to make something of great value and beauty of the lovers, the Beloved sometimes shakes up the hearts. Not all the lovers can withstand it. Many hearts become crushed and broken in this process. But those who are able to submit to the Beloved's shake-up, and who surrender to it, are not broken - instead they come out whole and give forth the sweetest taste. Such lovers who have surrendered to the Beloved's treatment, be it gentle or vigorous, are the most fortunate." (from Spiritual Awakening)

   As the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana states:

   "Hope indeed is misery greatest, Hopelessness a bliss above the rest." - (11.8.44)

   The latter holds a great truth, but it may also be misunderstood. Hopelessness is a fundamental stage and passage, but at more than one point in life it needs to be counterbalanced by a positive Hope. Without hope is a terrible way to live an entire life, and it can break the soul. The path, historically and characteristically, depending on one's karmas, has proceeded through several stages: initial hope, then hopelessness, to be followed by great Hope. There is simultaneous great hopelessness and great Hope alive in the world today. Many more in the times to come will heal themselves of their past and latch onto an excitingly new yet reliably sober wave of spiritual inspiration. Many, many, exciting and inconceivable things lie ahead. Those of us who endured as pioneers and midwives of a new era will not be the first to enjoy its abundant fruit. Others will hopefully not have it as hard as some of us have, what to speak of the many giants in whose shoulders we all stand.

   It is my personal feeling that such a passage has perhaps, in many cases, to be forced by Grace, that is, one must be placed in the condition where there is no choice in the matter, or we won't be able to endure it successfully. One does not choose this, rather, one is chosen. By whom? One could say it is God, but perhaps more accurately (avoiding the notion of theological favoritism) it is ones own Being, when the time is ripe for its own realization. In any case, it is not a matter of deserving it, for none is worthy, or perhaps all are; therefore, I profess no special attainment or qualification. It is a gift of grace, for sure, and not without its trials and difficulty. It happens at the appropriate time. There is, for instance, a famous story in the traditions where the master holds the disciple's head under water until he can no longer stand it, then lifts him out and says that when his yearning for God is as intense as that of a drowning man for air, he will have it. On pondering the story, it is clear that this is something no one will or can do by himself. He will always come up for air. Someone or something has to "hold his head under water" for the experience to be meaningful. That something is Grace. Ramana likened this stage to that of being caught in the jaws of the tiger. If one is fortunate enough to be thus caught, there is little he can do to improve on the situation. And even this may be too dramatic, for while there are no doubt many 'relative' deaths on the true path, there is no real death. Things remain as they are.

   Therefore, I feel it is not really true that there has been two paths, long and short. As PB said, both paths are, after all, in the imagination. Since that day when insight arose in the courtyard it would be incorrect and a refusal of grace to say other than that there has been only the apparent history of a maladapted body-mind trying to catch up with what already happened. True, much trial, tribulation, and internal affliction, to use traditional language, still lay ahead. Radical insight is not a way to avoid that. It will go on as long as needed. The thing has to be lived, on earth, as it is in heaven. PB summarized this paradox as follows:

   "The Long Path is needed to make a man or woman ripe for receiving truth, but only the Short Path can lead to it. This is the answer to the dilemma created by the claims of the Wu Wei school. Its practical application is: act as the Long Path requires by working on and improving the self, but think as the Short Path enjoins by holding the attitude "There is nothing to be attained. Realization is already here and now!" (27)

   The feeling I sometimes ponder is that Kirpal consciously or unconsciously knew he didn't have much time left and had a job to do and he did it. Without the insight he helped provoke in me, I would have been in a lot more trouble. And I thank him for that, in spite of an ordeal of difficulty and heartache to follow, and a lack of clarity on how to socially and spiritually mesh my experience with the traditional path of Sant Mat. It is also clear that when he replied to me, "yes, it is time for you to go," he, knowing that he was soon to die and that this might be our last physical meeting, was essentially echoing the words of Jesus to his disciples,

   "I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you. When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth."

   As PB wrote:

   "It is as necessary to his disciples that he leave them deprived of his guidance as well as of the consolation of his presence as it was earlier necessary for them to have them while he was still on earth...The very hour of his departure from them is appointed in their destiny by the infinite intelligence, which has sufficient reasons for making it then, and not earlier or later. If they must henceforth strive for direct touch with the Infinite and no longer lean on the encouragement of an intermediary, this is because they are at that stage to make better progress that way, whatever their personal emotions may argue to the contrary."

   "The animal which at a certain age deserts its offspring to force them into self-reliance is like the rare guru who tells the overstayed learner it is time to leave."

   "In the end he must free himself inwardly from all things and, finally, both from whatever teacher he has and from the quest itself. Then only can he stand alone within and one with God....It is bewildering to be told that a time comes in the disciple's development when attachment to the teacher must also be broken. He must free himself from the very man who has shown him the path to liberation from every other form of attachment. His liberation is to become total and absolute."
(28)

   "Ashram life is for beginners," said Maharshi, and the cable of truth had been laid down between Kirpal and I, and prolonged personal contact of the previous sort was no longer necessary, and perhaps even detrimental. That is my understanding, with the Master to be henceforth found only within, or rather, as non-separate from my own Being, with the idea of the "Master" as well as the idea of "me" both receding into the Void from whence they arose.


   Caussade once more writes movingly of this transition stage. He makes it clear that it is not that one need not any longer engage an active fidelity to the path, certainly not, only that the Friend takes on a much more active role in the process than before:

   "There is a time when the soul lives in God and a time when God lives in the soul. What belongs to one of these periods is unsuitable for the other. When God lives in a soul, it should abandon itself completely to his Providence. When the soul lives in God, it takes trouble regularly to furnish itself with all the means that it can think of in order to attain union with him. All its paths are marked out, its reading, its examinations of conscience; its guide is ever at its side - everything is regulated, even its times for talking [he is speaking chiefly to proficient monastics here] . When God lives in the soul , it has nothing more of its own, it has nothing but what he gives it, who is the principle which animates it at each moment. No provisions, no route traced in advance; the soul is like a child whom one leads where one wishes, and who has nothing but feeling to distinguish what is presented to it."   He speaks of how the soul has completed one phase of its sojourn, and can not return to its old ways again without compromising the divine guidance that is now leading it:

   "This soul has accomplished its journey like others; at the beginning it learned these practices of devotion and followed them faithfully; it would be in vain to try and keep it subject to them today. Since God, touched by the efforts it has made to advance by means of such help, has come to meet it and has led it to this blessed union; since it has arrived in that fair region of which the atmosphere is self-abandonment and where the possession of God in love is initiated; since finally this God of goodness has substituted for its care and labour himself as the principle of its operations,these methods have lost their utility for it, they do but indicate the road it has passed over and left behind it. To demand that it should take up these methods again or continue to follow them would be to make it abandon the goal at which it has arrived in order to return to the road which brought it there."

   "God tells it that he intends to be its master and to direct it in his own way, and he makes it understand that it cannot without infringing the sovereign rights of its Creator allow its own liberty to be enchained. it sees that if it were to confine itself within the regulations of souls who live under a regime of effort and industry, far from following the invitation of grace, it would deprive itself of a thousand things necessary for its future duties."
(Abandonment to Divine Providence, Part Two, Chapters 1 and 3)

   Jah Jae Noh writes on the price to be paid for the freedom of such uncertainty - the abandonment of doubt:

   "The mind can be lead countless times into the heart, yet it can refuse to believe or accept what is experienced. To this extent no learning takes place. So faith is the vehicle, the mode of learning. Understanding, which is the mind's acceptance of the heart, is the activity of faith." (29)

   Ramana Maharshi said a similar thing:

   "This very doubt, whether you can realize, and the notion 'I-have-not-realized' are themselves the obstacles. Be free from these obstacles also." (30)

   As had been said to me, "you can believe it - or not." All of the above resonates with me now, but never would have done so before visiting Sawan Ashram. Still, my experience left many questions. For instance, Sri Aurobindo once said:

   "I had experience of Nirvana and Silence in Brahman long before I had any knowledge of the overhead spiritual planes." (31)

   Exactly what did that mean? Did it hold a possible key to reconciling the experiences of jnana or satori, and the inner samadhis, a dividing ground among different schools? Are the latter just a 'bunch of business', as some sages say? Or are both necessary for the full realization of Truth? In short, my current understanding is yes, although not necessarily in any one lifetime, and that it seems to develop in a natural way, and is accounted for, on many true paths. (See "The Depths of This Thing," and "Not a One-Shot" on this website for discussion on this; Sri Aurobindo also actually explained fully what he meant by his comment above)

   I openly ask the living satgurus of Sant Mat for their personal understanding and clarification of these mysteries, to know where they stand on this issue, to better articulate it, and also ask the divine Lord for the revelation and complete accomplishment in all beings. Thankfully I have come into contact with sources that have been answering these questions close to my satisfaction, knowing full-well also that 'the satisfied disciple is still the one he was', and that the Master Guru exists primarily to break a hypnotic spell of the chela.

   Further questions that many have been exploring today are: how much psychological work must be done, what role does therapy have in healing core wounds, what is its place in spiritual life, or should one abandon all such subconscious digging and simply work on 'forgetting all personal stories' as some newer teachers promote, or engage, as necessary, a paradoxical or random utilization of both? This latter is more likely a personal question than one for the masters to answer. One will likely do what he feels he needs to do. Still, it needs addressing, especially in a path such as Sant Mat, where the traditional emphasis has historically been more or less a bodily dissociative one.

   Finally, I learned that my ignorance is profound and I knew little of the ways of the true Masters, but also that there were answers to questions I posed long ago, and that Grace in the form of Master Kirpal worked directly in my case to lead me to a point where I could be able to know a little about them, albeit "outside of the box" of his tradition, as it were.

   Or perhaps not so outside the box. The path has always been full of paradoxical and mysterious stories of the play between master and disciple.. One thought that came to me that fateful day at Sawan Ashram was, ah, so this is the Path of the Masters ! Not just shabd yoga per se, but the grace and power and mysterious agency of the master himself. The true shaikh steals everything from the illusion of the disciple that presents itself to him, including even, if necessary, his apparent spirituality. To this point, Maulana Rumi said the following:

   "A man may be in an ecstatic state, and another man may try to rouse him. It is considered good to do so. Yet this state may be bad for him, and the awakening may be good for him. Rousing a sleeper is good or bad according to who is doing it. If the rouser is of greater attainment, this will elevate the state of the other person. If he is not, it will deteriorate the consciousness of the other man."

   Lao Tzu put matters more succintly:

   "Failure is the foundation of success, and the means to its achievement."

   In my case, the apparent loss was really an advance, however bitter it seemed, and still seems from time to time. I recall, however, two famous stories of Rumi. In one, his future Master, Shamas Tabrez, threw Rumi's books into a stream, whereupon Rumi berated him saying, "You idiot, that is the knowledge about which you know nothing!" The saint promptly retrieved the books from the stream, without a drop of water having touched them, and said to the proud Rumi, "This is the knowledge about which you know nothing." This humbled the future murshid, who gave up his lofty position among the scholars to become the devotee of the remarkable dervish. Shamas once remarked, We may seem like beggars, but our actions are more than royal. The other form of this story, however, as told by Pir Vilayat Khan (a friend of Kirpal Singh and son of the respected Hazrat Inayat Khan), spoke more to my situation. In this version Shamas tossed Rumi's books down a well and asked him, "do you want me to retrieve them, without their being wet?", and Rumi answered, "No". Pir Vilayat remarked that this was the answer that secured Rumi's greatness, for it indicated his intention to extract the spiritual marrow from his master, and that he was not interested in miracle-working or any egoically distracting experience, high or low. My answer of no in response to Kirpal Singh's question of whether I wanted anything from Him, including the experience of leaving the body, was given more or less unconsciously, but with a similar, ultimate - although as yet to be conclusive - beneficial effect.

   While Kirpal Singh clearly favored and embodied the way of shabd yoga, he did acknowledge other legitimate paths, in particular jnana yoga, the yoga of discriminative knowledge. In doing so, however, he reiterated the primary importance of relationship with a true master for its success:

   "The path of jnana is a short-cut to yoga but it is frightfully steep, and very few can take to it. It requires a rare combination of razor-sharp intellect and intense spiritual longing, which only a few like Buddha and Sankara possess. The path, however, would become smooth if one, by a mighty good fortune, were to meet a Master-soul. A Sant Satguru can, by his long and strong arm, draw an aspirant out of the bottomless vortex of the life of the senses without his having to do overmuch sadhana." (32)

   This is assuming one has to be drawn out of the bottomless vortex of the life of the senses to realize jnana - if only as a first stage - or, instead, plunged into it, as some nondual teachers and body-oriented therapies call for, or as new-age 'incarnational spirituality' proposes. In either case this passage hearkens to the illuminating tap of a sandal on the forehead of Rumi by Shamas, or the enlightenment of Raja Janak by Ashtavakra in the time it took the king to put his foot in the stirrup of his horse. Such things have been reported to happen when the power of the divine working through a true godman has its way.

   In summary, while dhyan meditation/concentration/inversion has been absent in me since my time at Sawan Ashram, moments of contemplative insight, considered another form or stage of meditation on many paths, have not. The 'hole in my head' is still there, the basic realization only needing, in a sense, continued belief, it being ordinary yet mysterious. While still all too frequently interrupted, during those times I see that the one who worries about birth and death is unreal, relative peace ensues, and anxiety over paradise lost subsides.. As is said in Zen, "A thought of faith once awakened is the foundation of the way forever. "

   The flavor of the defining moment at Sawan Ashram - not 'final enlightenment' by any means, but nevertheless a true glimpse - is exemplified in these quotes of PB:

   "When you awaken to truth as it really is, you will have no occult vision, you will have no "astral" experience, no ravishing ecstasy. You will awaken to it in a state of utter stillness, and you will realize that truth was always there within you and that reality was always there around you. Truth is not something which has grown and developed through your own efforts. It is not something which has been achieved or attained by laboriously adding up those efforts. It is not something which has to be made more and more perfect each year. And once your mental eyes are opened to truth they can never be closed again."

   "The discovery of his true being is not outwardly dramatic, and for a long time no one may know of it, except himself. The world may not honor him for it; he may die as obscure as he lived. But the purpose of his life has been fulfilled; and God's will has been done."

   "No one really knows how this enlightenment first dawns on him. One moment it was not there, the next moment he was somehow in it."

   "Wu Men said: "Even though Chao Chou became enlightened, he should continue to work for thirty years more to graduate."


   Yet even so, the mind rebels and sometimes says it is not enough, and in spite of what is often so clear, and what the books, the Buddha, and the non-dualists say, at times the soul feels a longing for a true home, and, as Plotinus said, is sometimes yet in pain, purgation and aridities seemingly unending, with many tears, shed and unshed. Yet this is viewed in lucid moments less as a problem and more as a byproduct of the clarifying oscillations of consciousness trying to better understand its own nature. Still, I have had for this lineage of teachers over the years many questions, those listed above, and others such as the following [which I am finding no one can really answer except myself being open to guidance, if I am not to give my power away and also dishonor the gift I was given by my Master or by Being itself - which are more and more becoming indistinguishable] : "What sadhana do they consider appropriate, when the chief technique offered is impossible? What is their explanation for the relationship between the nana and adriatic realizations , and the higher plane samadhis? I am finding that such answers are only reluctantly forthcoming directly from these gurus, who teach for a great mass of disciples. And in a real sense there is no such mass instruction possible. That is to say, one comes to realize at some point that ordeals and transformations on the path are tailored uniquely for each individual, based on their temperament, understanding, and evolution. Some of the above questions were worked out for myself in the process of writing the article Sant Mat: A Comparative Analysis of the Path of the Masters on this website, and others in such articles as "The Depths of This Thing," and "Not A One Shot." The basic understanding in the latter two pieces is that one may have conscious awakenings, as well as (internal) absorptions, throughout one's path. There is really no contradiction. A real question for some is whether the former should come before the latter, to secure a base of self-realization and subsequent freedom from illusion when exploring subtle realms. In any case, the 'instant' quality of self-enlightenment will come again and again, along with the 'gradual' transformation and purification of karma. Please see these articles for further explanation.

   When the true Soul - or Being - answers, the questions drop away. Confirmation outside the Self is seen as unnecessary, the inner help obvious. The work done long ago and over the years, and truly, outside of time, is clearly seen, the grace once transmitted at Sawan Ashram is revealed as unchanged, and having certainly born fruit. It has not been all a veil of tears, but also compassionate laughter at the joke of self, and amazement at the Mystery. Many other times, it is difficult not to grumble under the soul's confining shackles and (apparently) miserable state, yet the answer that comes is "surrender, surrender, surrender, into the mystery of unknowing, as there's nothing more you can do," with the only option to struggle anew each day, when apparently required - until the struggle stops - when the motion exhausts itself - or through inquiry into the one who suffers, doubts, and struggles, the automatic machine of separation wears itself out and the Truth shines by Itself. But, basically, it is a simple matter of letting things be, while also looking towards an ideal. "Be who you Are," as Ramana said, yes, but also "be all you can be." That is the paradox. We are to be free here and now, but our destiny is yet a divine one. I personally was graced by being checkmated long ago by a master-player, and the essential game is over. So, while I write describing much of my path as having been a dark night, the self-inflicted clouds are definitively lifting, with peace, hope, and joy shining in their place.

   Therefore, more and more out of resignation to my 'fate', and not particularly by choice or desire, I, like increasingly many others, appear to stand alone, outside of tradition - while my inner connection to Kirpal, the being and presence he now is, in my heart is stronger than ever. Yes, the ego remains an impatient fellow, and the apparant recalcitrance of the body-mind is yet far too resistant to this one's satisfaction and seemingly beyond complete transformation, but luckily, it needn't be totally perfected, or we are all doomed. It remains as a manageable circumstance, not so much a problem. Increasingly it begs for redemption and acceptance.

   Ongoing Prayer

   What happened at Sawan Ashram increasingly seems like the dream of another person. While the nature of my connection with Kirpal Singh remains unclear to the mind, it has never been abandoned, disowned, or forgotten in the depths of the heart. It is wordless, intuitive, bereft of visions, and indistinguishable from that of my own Being. I love him, yet at times feel frustration and despair, like anybody else, but always, sensing more and more that he set me free by calling me friend, also remain a humble beggar at His door, the Higher Self and Truth, despite the omnipresence of consciousness itself. Insight presents itself, yet within a relative and apparent spiritual poverty, fitfully and seemingly still profound - sort of. Definitely could be called a 'reward-punishment, as I was told years before. Except that is a negative way of putting it. There is no punishment. We are not wrong, or a mistake, or fallen. Initially born in ignorance, we are only gaining experience in order to find ourselves.

   In spite of non-dual glimpses, openings, and understanding, this writer is also not yet convinced the current teachers of 'oneness' have the last word on the subject. Again, there appears to be a great divide between such paths of 'consciousness', such as advaita, and that of seemingly dualistic schools such as Sant Mat. No non-dualist I know of has had access to the highest spiritual planes, especially those of Sat Lok, so how can they speak thereof? On the other hand, the arguments of philosophy (i.e., Mind or consciousness) appear unassailable. And the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, for instance, about the realization of the root of consciousness on the right side of the heart being senior to the ascended states of soul awareness, and a foundation for self-realization, and similar arguments by other jnanis, also to me appear valid and important of resolution. Wouldn't it be lovely if many different saints and sages would agree to sit on a platform together and freely debate these issues for an extended period of time, say, weeks or months? Why not? Kind of like at Nalanda University in ancient times. First the various Sant Mat gurus hammer out their differences, then agree to an open investigation of truth alongside representative and respected sages. To my mind that would be truly great.

   In any case it seems that this body, at times, still offers a 'dualistic' prayer to the Saints:

   "Kill me if thou wilt but turn not away,
   Hug me to Thy bosom, listen to my prayer,
   Just look this way and earn my gratitude,
   Why kill me by turning Thy face away?"

   "An ever erring child I am, but I depend on the Father's Grace."

   "Thirsty as I am for Thy sight,
   My mind calls for Thee in agony,
   I pray to Thee O Formless! and crave for Thy mercy."

   "Pray forget not Thy servant; if for nothing else consider
   my previous love of Thee and possess my heart.
" (33)

   "Listen, cried Rumi, can you hear a wail
    arising from the pillar of grief?
   Shams of Tabriz, where are you now,
   after all the mischief you've stirred in our hearts?"
(34)

   "I will take You up now, Beloved, said Hafiz, on that wonderful Dance You promised."

   Kirpal looked at us and said, "It is hard to become a man, but easy to become God. A few minutes of the Master's Grace, and then....?"   I endure the beating and chiseling of this body of clay, which is only apparent, while awaiting, and yet in a real way already enjoying, His promise.

   And while it is impossible to ever escape a first love, I also contemplate, out of necessity and in order to stay 'sane', the healing words of PB and many other such 'real persons':

   "He is in the Stillness of central being all the time whether he knows it or not..He has never left and can never leave it. And this is so, even in a life passed in failure and despair." (35)

   "When you awaken to truth as it really is, you will have no occult vision, you will have no "astral" experience, no ravishing ecstasy. You will awaken to it in a state of utter stillness, and you will realize that truth was always there within you and that reality was always there around you. Truth is not something which has grown and developed through your efforts. It is not something which has been achieved or attained by laboriously adding up those efforts. It is not something which has to be made more and more perfect each year. And once your mental eyes are opened to truth they can never be closed again." (36)

   "..the Overself is with him here and now. It has never left him at any time. It sits everlastingly in the heart. It is indeed his innermost being, his truest self. Were it something different and apart from him, were it a thing to be gained and added to what he already is or has, he would stand the risk of losing it again. For whatever may be added to him may also be subtracted from him. Therefore, the real task of this quest is less to seek anxiously to possess it than to become aware that it already and always possesses him." (37)

   The Bhagavad-Gita likewise proclaims:

  "I am always with all beings
  I abandon no one
  However great your inner darkness
  You are never separate from me."


   "Not only does loving devotion raise the soul to God, but God, too, is drawn down from the transcendental regions and reaches for the devotee and takes His abode in his heart. " -   Kirpal Singh

   He also once said, "you are already there, you just don't know it." What could be more non-dual than that?

   The Master is in me and I am in Him. This I am coming to realize or accept, regardless of appearances. Many insights are passively infused. I sense all has already been done, and is being done. Part of this comes from an increasing sense that time is not reality. What is to happen has, in a sense, already happened. This is not just philosophy, although it may paradoxically take a long time to become a steady realization. A single thought comes to mind, 'this life has already died, who am I now'? Other than necessary responsibilities that present themselves, I need do nothing directly for my own 'salvation'. Indeed, I am repeatedly shown that such ends in failure, which paradoxically, as Lao Tzu said, is the means to success! At the same time, I find myself planning, doing, and discovering things that facilitate the expression of this ongoing process and truth. But it is not really a search anymore, although patience, endurance, and trust are required.


   What I Have Learned

   The correct thing to say is most likely, "not much," yet, keeping that in mind, one thing can be summarized.

   ........... "Oh, why have you loved me so much?!!"

   ...........


   Final thoughts

   In a sense, in reality, all seems forever accomplished that day in 1973. As PB wrote:

   "It is not a matter of time. This is because time is a trick there mind plays on itself; because the past, the present, and the future are all rolled into one eternal NOW; because what is to happen has already happened." (Notebooks, Vol. 15, Part 1, 5.216)

   A direct simplicity presents itself as the core of the path; all the rest is, as they say, gravy, or icing on a cake:

   "That which you know best in the world, that which is nearest you, that of which you can never be free, whose existence is supremely certain, is your consciousness. You may doubt anything else but you directly perceive yourself."

   "People seem to think that by practice of some elaborate sadhana the Self will one day descend upon them as something very big and with transcendental glory, giving them what is called sakshatkaram
[direct experience]. The Self is sakshat [direct] all right, but there is no Karam or Kritam about it. The word Karam implies doing something. But the Self is realized not by doing something but by refraining from doing anything, by remaining still and being simply what one really is." - Ramana Maharishi

   "As a person enquires, "for whom is this realization?", individuality goes, and the delusion that the Self has yet to be realized disappears. This alone is the grace of the Guru. The Guru can only dispel the delusion that the Self has not yet been realized, but to grant Self-realization is impossible not only for the Guru but even for Iswara [God]. To pray to the Guru, asking him to giver Self-realization is like asking, "give myself to me." Because of identification with the body, there arises the further delusion that the Guru is an individual other than myself. Really the Guru is not other than the Self. What is Self-realization? A mere phrase. People expect some miracle to happen, something to drop from heaven in a flash. It is nothing of the sort. Only the notion that you are the body, that you are this or that, will go, and you remain as you are. Indeed, realization is but another name for the Self."

   "When the mind comes to the end of its resources and stands baffled before the unanswerable question, then a higher power takes charge of the mind and the Self stands revealed as the real, the wonderful."
- V.S. Iyer

   Everything since that day, therefore, as far as can be expressed, has been somewhat like the unraveling of a dream. And if all has been accomplished, is there any need to keep on asking for its accomplishment, or begging for something that is already mine? Yes, and no. No because it has been seen that there is no separate self to beg. Yes, because that realization is not constant, and the accomplishment, while eternal, is not yet fulfilled in time. 'I' still want to feel my Beloved in all ways, including spirit communion, and 'I' also desire to be as I am, and to become a better person. A karmic continuity still apparently goes on within the One, and since there is such a continuity, 'I' wish to take a hand in its improvement, not only for my sake but for that of others. In other words, the ego refines itself while also coming to realize it is not real! That dual process is not an illusion; it even seems to me to be at the heart of the path.


   I first saw Sant Rajinder Singh, the current guru in that Sant Mat lineage, talk in 1991, and my friend William Combi dragged me up to the dais to meet him, telling him I was working on a book of biographies of spiritual teachers, which at the time I was. Somewhat embarrassed, I said to Him, "I really don't know what I am doing," and he quickly replied, almost as if no one else could hear, "Join the club." In a strange and paradoxical way, that simple remark impressed me; to whatever degree this new Master was in on the secret.

   While on this subject, I went to see Sant Rajinder again in Berkeley in year 2000 or so, and while sitting in my chair awaiting his rival, noticed an old friend, Richard Handel, whom I hadn't seen in thirty years, walk by behind the Master as he entered and I called, "Hey, Richard." Richard was always an un-uptight, cool guy, and he immediately came over and with warm enthusiasm said, "Peter, where the fuck have you been all these years?!" I have since remembered insider jokes we shared when Kirpal Singh came on tour in 1972. Once, in a large meeting hall in Chicago, a young man in the audience asked about pot smoking. Kirpal feigned ignorance, saying , "eh?" The young man said, "grass, Master." He again replied, looking towards some next to him, "Eh, what's he talking about?" (He knew very well what the man was talking about, but was just playing with our minds, as he often did - more than we ever knew; why, many times he had accused some of us of having bad meditations as a result of our taking LSD years ago! He always said this with a slightly veiled chuckle. You see, Kirpal, like Neem Karoli Baba as described by Ram Dass, was always one or two 'jokes out' from us all - one could never get ahead of him. He was the master, after all). Right then an elderly retired policeman and New York City group leader, lovable but old school and a bit up-tight, Ben Ringel, said, "Narcotics, Maharaj-ji." Richard and I tried hard to suppress our laughter. I bring this up for two reasons, one relating to Richard and one relating to Ben. Richard was always very devoted to Kirpal, but also studied advaita, travelled much and saw other teachers including Papaji over the years. He died a few years after our reunion in Berkeley in a tragic accident - a head-on collision with a truck on a snowy New England road. Some time after that a student went into a Taco Bell in Naperville, Illinois where Sant Rajinder was eating with a few other students, and went right up to him and asked point blank, "Where is Richard now?" Rajinder replied without hesitation, "Sach Khand, because of his great love for Kirpal." To me this is just another example that, while Kirpal of course loved us all, he had a special place in his heart for sincere but ordinary warts-and-all humans, or 'fools' as Richard described himself, rather than overly ambitious self-possessed seekers. Such is the greatness of this path, in my opinion. Because it's not about us all getting better, perfect, squeaky clean, or doing everything 'right'. Indeed, we really can't. Of course we still try. Just knowing that much is a great grace and relief. I get that He was just waiting for many of us to recognize this and accept the path of love and trust.

   And where is Richard now really? The same 'place' Kirpal is: in our hearts, and us in His. As the song goes, "How far is heaven?" Not far, there is no time, no space, and all realms exist simultaneously, with only a thin veil apparently separating us all. Closer than breath and as near as thought are we to each other. This is not a mere sentiment.

   Now Ben was a big man, and to a twenty year-old as I was when I first met him, seemed to be about a hundred years old, or maybe eighty... but most likely sixty (!), and somewhat austere and strict in appearance, although he once confessed that while people probably thought that ice-water flowed in his veins, he had a heart like everyone else. When I was leaving Kirpal for the last time, I was asked where I was going. I said, "America." Kirpal's face got wide and he said with a smile, "Oh - America! That's a big place - where?" I said, "New York." And then he said, "okay, please convey my love to Ben." So some months later I happened to see old Ben at a group meeting, and I went up to him and said , "Ben, I have something to tell you. Master loves you." Ben didn't know me, but his ears perked up and he leaned my way and asked me my name. I said, "Peter; yes, Kirpal told me, 'please convey my love to Ben.' " I know this may not seem like much, but I feel grateful to this day that I had the chance to give him this communication, which I knew not only made his day but who knows what else. It was also a gift for me, and one more step in the beginning of a long process of my own thawing out. We all so want to be loved and to love.

   In summary, to my undying good fortune, master Kirpal chose me as a friend - while also becoming more than an enigma. On the one hand he would say, "God is nothing!", or "I am Mr. Zero", but then, "the Master resides here" (pointing to his heart), while also "the higher Self is God" (tapping his forehead). Could not all of those viewpoints be simultaneously true, thus reconciling the essence of many paths? I think so.

   Thank you for reading this story. I sincerely hope this may prove useful for some. People coming up nowadays need not walk the way many of us pioneered as part of a great experiment. Like anything, this depends on many factors. But it need not be so hard. May peace, love, and light descend upon you, within you, and as you.

   "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, hast God prepared for those who love Him." (I Corinthians 2:9)

   Death of a Dream - Pt. 3


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(1) Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1988), Vol. 6, Part 2, 3.288
(1a) Gangaji, The Diamond in Your Pocket (Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True, 2007), p. 146
(1aa) Irena Tweedie, The Chasm of Fire (Great Britain: Element Books, 1979), p. 7
(1b) Brunton, op. cit., Volume 9, Part 1, 3.309
(1c) Kyriacos C. Markides, The Magus of Strovolos (Penguin Arkana, 1990), p.

   " 'Daskale,' I asked, 'do the psychonoetic planes and subplanes have an objective existence independent of the individual's subjective perception of them?' 'I have said before that the psychic worlds have trees, mountains, oceans, rivers, everything that exists on the planet, everything that has ever existed and everything that can exist. What you consider as the real world is actually the shadow or the reflection of other more luminous worlds within which everything material that is considered real exists. In the various planes and subplanes of the psychic worlds there exist not only whatever exists on this planet which was created by archangelic forces, such as water, mountains, forests, but also whatever humans have created either while they are still alive or after they depart. The psychic world is a much richer world. However, most persons who live there perceive it through the elementals; that they themselves create. In the psychic worlds, for example, there is no sun that rises and sets every day, unless we create one ourselves. But the sun we create will be within our individual subjective psychic world, not the external one. Therefore, when a human being abandons his gross material body, he begins to live simultaneously within two planes of existence, the real psychic plane and his own subjective psychic world. Most human beings are so engrossed within their own subjective shell that they are unaware of the nature of the psychic plane within which they vibrate. It is as if, for example, we are on a journey but because of our passions and psychic turmoil, we are oblivious to the beauty of the countryside outside. And let me say something that may seem blasphemous. On the basis of my own personal experience what may be considered an intolerable hell is, in reality, a most beautiful space, assuming that you can coordinate your consciousness with the real psychic plane. It is our predisposition that will let us or prevent us from perceiving that beauty.' Daskalos went on to say that the evolution of the Researcher of Truth implies the development of the ability to distinguish between the real psychic world and the subjective psychic environment that people build around them with the elementals they bring along when they enter there. What is ugly in these psychonoetic planes is what each individual hides within his subjective shell, his own psychic world, which gives him vibrations of evil, hatred and vulgarity. 'Where is this shell?' someone interjected. 'You mean in terms of space? Again, everywhere and nowhere. But a person who constructs his own shell and lives in it, perceives it as having clear limits within which he is confined and is allowed to act."

   Although this passage suggests that the problem of elementals is not restricted solely to 'concentration on centers below the eyes', it does gives a clue as to why the gurus in Sant Mat advise meditation only on the light and spiritual forms which remain before ones inner gaze after repetition of the five charged names given by the Master at initiation: these would be considered objective visions, free of contamination by the elementals of one's own (and other's) subjectivity. If one intends to pursue experience in disembodied subtle realms (before Self-Realization), he needs such a means to avoid bewilderment and confusion.]

(2) David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part Three (Boulder, Colorado: Avadhuta Foundation), p. 125).
(3) Nitya Tripta, ed., Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shree Atmananda (Trivandrum, India: The Reddiar Press. 1963), 934.
(3a) Swami Saradananda, Ramakrishna The Great Master (Mylapore, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 6th edition, 2008), p. 1125
(3b) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 2, 4.205
(4) Arran Stephens, Journey to the Luminous (Seattle, Washington: Elton-Wolf Publishing, 1999), p. 161-162
(4a) Tweedie, op.cit., p. 127, 100, 20, 125
4b) Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Vol. II (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1983), p. 1434-1427
(5) Adyashanti, The Impact of Awakening (Los Gatos, California: Open Gate Publishing, 2005), p. 63-68, page for second paragraph misplaced
(6) E.J. Gold, The Human Biological Machine as a Transformational Apparatus (Nevada City, CA: IDHHB, Inc., 1986), p. 44-45
(7) Jah Jae Noh (Edwin Smith, Do You See What I See? (Wheaton, Illinois: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1977), p. 59, 66, 56
(7a) Kirpal Singh, Spiritual Elixer, p. 84
(7b) Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Sacred Path of the Warrior (Boston: Shambhala Books, 2007), p.
(7c) Kirpal Singh, op. cit., p. 165
(8) David Godman, op. cit., Part One, p. 24
(9) Sadguru Gnanananda by His Devotees (Bombay: Bharatya Vidya Bhavan, 1979), p. 48
(10) Asvagosha, Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion (Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1076), p. 30
(11) Darshan Singh, Spiritual Awakening (Bowling Green, Virginia: Sawan Kirpal Publications, 1982), p. 307
(12) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 1.76
(13) Ibid, 5.220, 5.223
(14) Ibid, 4.6
(15) Ibid, 4.7
(16) Ibid, 4.54
(17) Ibid, 4.55
(18) Ibid, 4.57
(19) Ibid, 4.85
(20) Ibid, 4.94
(21) Ibid, 4.105, 4.29
(22) Ibid, 4.115
(23) Ibid, 4.148
(24) Ibid, Vol. 3, Part 1, 1.103
(25) Kirpal Singh, Godman, Sant Bani Press, 1971, p. 180
(26) Portrait of Perfection: A Pictorial Biography of Kirpal Singh (Bowling Green, VA: Sawan Kirpal Publications, 1981), p. 297
(27) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, 6.855, 862, 868, 869
(28) Ibid, Vol. 15, Part 1, 5.154
(29) Jah Jae Noh, op. cit., p. 146
(30) Ramana Maharshi, Maharshi's Gospel (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 1994), p. 29
(31) Sri Aurobindo, On Yoga II, Tome One, p. 294
(32) Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life: A Study in Yoga (Delhi: Ruhani Satsang. 1970), p. 106
(33) Kirpal Singh, Prayer (Delhi, India: Ruhani Satsang, 1970), p. 68, 101, 119
(34) ed. Kabir Helminski, The Pocket Rumi (Boston: Shambhala, 2001), p. 51
(35) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 1.8
(36) Ibid, Vol. 16, Part 1, 2.77
(37) Paul Brunton, The Wisdom of the Overself (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1984), p.441