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Sant Mat: A Comparative Analysis: Part Four

by Peter Holleran

   “The Master was greatly pleased with Narendra’s inquiring mind. Sri Ramakrishna also tested Narendra in an unusual way. Without explanation, whenever Naren visited Sri Ramakrishna, the Master would not speak to him, although he spoke with other devotees. Every time Naren came to visit Sri Ramakrishna, the Master ignored him. When he arrived, Sri Ramakrishna did not even greet him; similarly when he left, Sri Ramakrishna was silent. This continued for nearly a month. At last Sri Ramakrishna said, ‘Why do you still come here when I do not speak to you?’ Narendra replied, ‘Do you think I come to listen to you? I love you, and that is why I come.’ At his response the Master said, ‘I was testing you. Only a great person such as you could endure such treatment. Anyother person would have gone away.’ Narendra’s attitude was: I love you and so I come to you, But this does not mean that I will accept all of your words.” (Swami Lokeswarananda, The Way to God As Taught by Sri Ramakrishna(Calcutta, India: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, 1992), p. 384

   "Such is the strange paradox of the quest that on the one hand he must foster determined self-reliance but on the other yield to a feeling of utter dependence on the higher powers.” - Paul Brunton

18. A Few Words on Samadhi versus Satori

   One point of clarification of an obscure quote an astute reader may have picked up on. My dear Sant Kirpal Singh is said to have once criticized devotee Russell Perkins for editing out a reference in his book NAAM, where a Buddhist monk said the sound of a bell caused his awakening into satori (which was described as a samadhi, although it was clearly a satori). Russell edited it to read that the person heard an INNER sound, but Kirpal Singh said to leave the quote alone, because that’s the way the sutra read, but also said that the person was mistaken, and that he only THOUGHT it was an outer sound, for how could an outer sound ‘DRAG one into samadhi?” In this case, the monk went on to describe this satori as apparently initiating a series of deeper mystical experiences for him. Now, satori and samadhi are very distinct experiences. As D.T. Suzuki explains:

   "When a man's mind is matured for satori it tumbles over one everywhere. An inarticulate sound, an unintelligent remark, a blooming flower, or a trivial incident such as stumbling is the condition or occasion that will open his mind to satori. Apparently, an insignificant event produces an effect which in importance is altogether out of proportion...When the mind is ready for some reasons or others, a bird flies, or a bell rings, and you at once return to your original home; that is, you discover your now real self." (1)

   Zen has long considered samadhi as a temporary mental absorption in a object, or even a void, whereas satori, particularly a great satori, is an awakening to the real Person , the true Subjectivity. It has nothing to do with absorption or mystical transport.

   An example of a satori awakening was that of a nun Chiyono who studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku. For a long time she was unable to succeed in her meditation. At last one moonlit night while carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo, the bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail. At that moment Chiyono was set free, moving her to write this poem:

   “In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
   Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
   Until at last the bottom felt out.
   No more water in the pail!
   No more moon in the water!”

   Similarly, Daniel Odier states:

   "No one has ever attained awakening while meditating, but always when face to face with the real. Even the Buddha experienced awakening at the end of his meditation when he saw the morning star." (1a)

   The Buddhist monk who awakened to the sound of a distant bell was the great Hakuin, who later said that so intense was the experience he was convinced that no one in the past three hundred years had penetrated to such a glorious attainment. Nevertheless, he later wrote that he spent the next several weeks strutting around the temple “puffed up with a soaring pride, bursting with arrogance...and swallowing whole everyone he encountered, regarding them contemptuously as so many lumps of dirt.” (1b)

   Although he had a fundamental breakthrough into a realization of non-duality, his condition was not steady or complete nor was he yet purified in virtue. Years later, at the age of forty-one, after much training and schooling with other masters, he had a great Satori, from which there was no back-sliding, this time apparently catalyzed by hearing the sound of a cricket. This was satori, not trance samadhi. (Even after this he required further training, to stabilize his realization in everyday life - what he called “the training after satori.” A version of this is found in other traditions, and it might certainly be said to be the case in Sant Mat).

   In any case, in the above instance, then, either one of two things was true. Either (one),Kirpal Singh apparently did not recognize the way countless Zen practitioners achieved satori through their ripe minds being awakened to reality in a moment through an outer sight or sound, and strictly adhered to the Indian belief that only inner (trance) experience was spiritual, and didn’t understand other schools or experiences which contradict that and was using this monk's account only to support the philosophy of Surat Shabd Yoga (all of which is possible, but I am inclined to doubt, for a number of reasons: Kirpal was a scholar of the traditions, had read 300 biographies of different saints and sages and great men as a young man, and was friends with numerous Buddhist teachers, and last but not least, seemed to catalyze such an experience in me in his company), or (two), he said what he did because he didn’t want to confuse his meditating followers with more sophisticated, non-dual teachings. Ramakrishna was the same way when he was with Vivekananda in contrast to most of his followers. He put the advaita books such as the Ashtavakra Gita away when Master Mahasaya (“M”) was around because he knew the latter was keeping a diary and didn’t want him to confuse many of his disciples who were not ripe enough to understand such things. My experience with Kirpal suggests this was the case.

   On the other hand, Kirpal was not wrong in pointing the initiate towards the stage of merger with the personal God within. Or some might call it the Soul. In many Soto schools of Zen, after attaining the 'absolute samadhi', or 'great death (corresponding to stage eight of the ten famous oxherding pictures), in which one attains to the self-essence or void in meditation, with body and mind stripped away, upon coming out of this state, he is then open to the spontaneous arising of a final kensho or satori, sometimes called the 'positive samadhi', where by he sees reality as-it-is with 'open eyes'. This would be what is called realizing Brahman and not just Atman, or knowing Atman and Brahman as being one. This I understand to be the Buddha's enlightenment. And I believe the same can occur on the path of Sant Mat for one who has first achieved 'Sach Khand' or higher and then reawakens to the outer world in full consciousness. And such may in fact be a deeper realization within Sant Mat, although it seems not to have been made explicit in the literature. This is just my opinion.

   It is, however, also sometimes taught in Sant Mat that one who achieves full absorption in the Sound Current 'within' and then comes 'out' or 'down' will experience an amrit or nectar of bliss saturating every pore of his body. My experience with Kirpal suggests to me that he was in such a condition, the fruit of this noble 'ancient, eternal, and authentic' path. And he was therefore doing his duty in teaching the all important first stage of devotion to the majority of his disciples. Even Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita said, "To those whose minds are united with Me and worship Me with love, I grant that understanding through which they may attain Me." It is something like that in all true paths. 'Die', and then be 're-born', usually in stages, unto the true Self, beyond mind, matter, and illusion.

19. The Concept of Perfect Masters, or perfection itself for that matter

   “Everything is already perfect, but it can be more perfect.” - Suzuki Roshi

   ”This is the true perfection of them that are born anew, to confess that they are imperfect.” (Romans 7:25, paraphrased)

   The idea that a "perfect Master" never makes a mistake, or that every word he utters is absolute truth, is often a stumbling block for many initiates on the path. It must also be understood to generally be an erroneous conception of enlightenment. For instance, Brunton states:

    "The first and last illusion to go is that any perfect men exist anywhere. Not only is there no absolute perfection to be found, but not even does a moderate perfection exist among the most spiritual of human beings." (2)

   He distinguishes between a master having a perfect consciousness of the inner divinity, but not be perfect in terms of his human conduct. He will certainly be a morally superior specimen of a human being, but not 'perfect' in every degree as we imagine that to be. Now, what are you going to do - look for a Master's every imperfection?! No, that would be as wrong and inappropriate as to go looking for everyone else's imperfections. It does mean, however, that one will not necessarily be shocked or disheartened by such observations.

   The assertion here is that masters, no matter how highly evolved, are not, from the human point of view, omniscient or perfect. A review of their many spiritual teachings reveals that the many opinions and doctrines are in fact very different. It is hubris for any human being, however advanced, to believe he can pick out from among them the one, true teaching for all time, for everyone, or even have unerring intuitive guidance in every instance. He may go a long way in that direction, however, and be more than adequate to guide and assist us.

   There is a specific definition of perfection in Sant Mat, however, which has nothing to do with whether or not he can make ordinary mistakes or not. A master on this path is considered a "perfect Sant" if he can go, or transfer his consciousness, at will to the fifth plane Sach Khand (the 'office of the Master') and lead others there, and a "Param Sant" if he has further been absorbed into the eighth and final 'region-less region', Anami, by the Sat Purush. He is also said to be "perfect" in the sense that his astral, mental, and causal bodies are clear of worldly or egoic taint. He is also a conduit for what appear to be God-like powers, when so directed by the Divine Will. It doesn't mean that while in his human body he never make what looks like a mistake, or necessarily have absolute relative knowledge or wisdom regarding all doctrines, including those he has never studied, for instance and especially the path of jnana. He might "drop his fork" or spill food. He may make mistakes of fact from time to time when he speaks, in spite of seemingly having total knowledge of his disciple's needs and circumstances the rest of the time as it is required. He may even make ‘teaching mistakes’. This is, of course, our working opinion, and is only mentioned because some seekers have held the naive view that such should not happen if a Master is perfect. Brunton writes:

   “The indispensable prerequisite to mystical illumination is self-surrender. No man can receive it without paying this price. Any man in any degree of development may pay it - he has to turn around, change his attitude, and accept the Christ, the higher self, as his sovereign. But once this happens and the Grace of illumination descends, it can affect the self only as it finds the self. An unbalanced ego will not suddenly become balanced. An unintellectual one will not suddenly become learned. His imperfections remain though the light shines through them.” (Notebooks, Vol. 12, Part 2, 4.70)

   An important fact to keep in mind is that a Master may evolve and deepen his realization over time. That is to say, he will become 'more and more perfect' in his human incarnation, even after his inner realization(s). He may even be made into a Master over time by the grace of his own Master. In which case, one could say that, for the devotee, his Master may not be perfect, but he will always be perfect enough!

   A further word needs to be said about cultural influences. As mentioned above, these can color one's articulation of realization. Or even his approach to truth. Kirpal Singh, in one of his childhood notebooks, once crossed out a discussion of various paths to truth, and scribbled "No Way Out!" I venture the possibility, because of his Sikh background, that he was inclined to consider the need to mystically leave the body and the 'wilderness' of the physical world as paramount in pursuit of truth. Whereas in vedanta, on the other hand, the 'wilderness' is chiefly one of ignorance, not exclusively an actual place, and meditation is considered a helpful means or preparation in the pursuit of truth, but not its direct, final means. And I suspect that Kirpal came to this perspective later in life. (Please don't consider me blasphemous for suggesting this, or that I feel it implies any lessening of his spiritual stature).

   The Masters, it should be mentioned, would probably be the first to say they are not perfect, even while maintaining the view that their own Masters were perfect. This is out of respect and humility. "Don't call me perfect," said Christ, "only God is perfect." It is a human concept, after all. Let us leave it at that. None of these aforementioned examples of so-called imperfection, where present, or by themselves, are evidence that a path or teacher is false or not genuine. Osho - who seemed to have a lot of problems, and moral imperfections, still said some worthwhile things, saying:

   "The experience of enlightenment is such that you can still commit mistakes. This is something to be understood. People ordinarily think that the man of enlightenment cannot commit mistakes. That is their expectation, but it is not reality."

   "The East has been very concerned for ten thousand years with the phenomenon of enlightenment. It certainly brings you great light, great clarity, great ecstasy and the feeling of immortality. But even though it brings so much, existence is so vast that your enlightenment is just a dewdrop in the ocean of existence. However transparent and clear your understanding may be, there is always a possibility to commit mistakes. And this has been recognized in the East. Even Gautama Buddha is reported to have said that existence is so vast, so infinite in all dimensions, that even an enlightened man may commit mistakes. This is true religiousness and humbleness. The idea of infallability is just ugly ego."

   "In fact the enlightened man becomes so humble that if you point out his mistakes he will accept them. He is so detached from his own personality, it does not matter...He is not hurt. And he accepts that there are possibilities where he may become too one-sided, may lean into this multidimensional existence more towards certain dimensions, may become averse to the dimensions which are against his own experiences and feelings. Existence contains all contradictions,and even at the highest point of enlightenment it is very difficult to contain contradictions."

   "Man, after all, is man, asleep or awake. It is very difficult to conceive contradictions existing not as contradictions but as complementaries. The easier thing seems to be to choose one side and go against the other. But that does not mean that the enlightenment is not complete; it simply means even an enlightened man can have a partiality. And it is because of the vastness of the universe."

   Sant Kirpal Singh once said, "I don't appreciate art." Disciples no doubt took that to mean that they shouldn't appreciate art, but is that right, or was it simply a confession of a preference or partiality of his? Are we to assume that if you are 'perfect' you will not appreciate art? Now, if he was referring to much of what passes as 'modern art', I agree with him (!), but the reference in this instance is to a strictly personal preference.

   An illumined master may appear ignorant as the case may be when dealing with his disciples, saying one thing and then seemingly changing his mind a minute later, or speaking words to one disciple that are meant for another, all part of his need and nature to be unpredictable in order to break the student's fixation with the dualistic mind and its expectations and egoic tendencies.

   Yet, one cannot help but wonder if the notion of 'perfect master' is outdated and due for substitution by a better concept, or a better articulation of the truth. Even the 10th guru of the Sikhs famously declared, "those who consider me to be God will go straight to hell!" Jesus said, don't call me good; don't call any man good; there is none good but God." If these illustrious personalities felt this way, maybe we should take note. Or at least publically tone down the hyperbole.

   “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” (attributed to Voltaire, listed in his Dictionaire Philosophique, 1770, quoting an Italian proverb: “il miglio e l’inimico del bene.”)

   For this also leads to the notion that a perfect master can automatically produce a perfect 'successor' to his teaching. Can he? In Sant Mat it is taught that the power of initiation (its particular form of shaktipat, connecting the soul to the Naam Power) is handed down from master to successor through the eyes. This may be so, but does it necessarily mean the successor or acclaimed successor has reached the attainment of his master - be he in his direct family or not? The annals of spiritual history are filled with stories of the progeny of the masters that are not even interested in the path, what to speak of enlightenment itself. Of course, as stated, a new Master may grow into his given role. That appears evident. But perhaps all may not to the same degree. Brunton writes:

   "The belief that a fully enlightened master or religious prophet can be succeeded generation after generation by a chain of equally illumined leaders following the same tradition, is delusive. He cannot bequeath the fulness of his attainment to anyone, he can only give others an impetus toward it. He himself is irreplaceable." (3a)

   Does this then mean that it is completely the luck of the draw if a particular master has a genuine successor? Not necessarily, as we are told by various sources - the Sufi tradition, for one - that there are many ready candidates, so to speak, in the spiritual 'queue' awaiting promotion. This is certainly in the play of the divine, however, and not by virtue of any magic a master may personally employ. If he were capable of just conferring enlightenment on anyone he chose, would he in his great compassion not do it? Would not Christ or Buddha or Ramakrishna or Ramana have done it if they could? So in this matter the quester is inevitably forced to fall back on his own faith, as well as judgement and discrimination.

   [As for the notion, existant in the Sufi tradition, and apparently in Sant Mat as well, that there are a number of “candidates“ under surveillance for the job of Master, the following is interesting. A Darshan Singh initiate - a friend of a friend - was informed that “there is a school on the inner planes that is a training school for masters. Before they can initiate they must learn how to guide their initiates through spiritual crises and difficulties and obstacles on the onward journey as well has how to help them outwardly. Some don’t pass this training he says.” All I can say is, “more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.”]

   But perfect? Dogen uttered this mysterious statement:

   "A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake." ?!

   Finally, Bhai Sahib, Irena Tweedie's Sufi Guru, cuts to the chase by saying:

   "If it fulfills its purpose, it's perfect...This chair is perfect because it fulfills its purpose...The Master is perfect because he can make others perfect." (3b)

   And then we have this quote from PB; it may not be Sant Mat gospel, but for me, it puts a feeling in the heart:

   "There is one master to whom the seeker is predestined to come and before whom he is predestined to bow above all others...He may not be a perfect master, he may commit previous errors of judgement and display regrettable deficiencies of personality, yet still he will be your master. No one can take his place, no one else can arouse the feelings of affinity and generate the harmony that he does. If because of his defects or lacks you reject him for another man, you will be sorry for it again and again until you return." (Vol. 16, Part 1, 5.12, 5.130)

   So it might be said that at the very least we can retain some common sense while still retaining awe for the Guru function in human form.

   Madame Guyon, in Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (a book supposedly never out-of-print in over three hundred years and for which she was imprisoned in the Bastille), wrote about the divine fire that purifies the spiritual gold and perfects the soul. This excerpt is interesting for the insight it gives on the distinction between inner and outer perfection:

   “God wishes to make your soul pure. He purifies it by His Wisdom just as a refiner purifies metal in the furnace. Fire is the only thing which can purify gold. The fire seems to know that the earthly mixture cannot be changed into gold. The fire must melt and dissolve this dross by force so that it can rid the gold of every alien particle. Over and over again, the gold must be cast into the furnace until it has lost every trace of pollution. Oh, how many times the gold is plunged back into the fire - far, far more times than seem necessary. Yet you can be sure the Forger sees impurities no one else can see. The gold must return to the fire again and again until positive proof has been established that it can be no further purified.

   “There comes a time, at last, when the goldsmith can find no more mixture that adulterates the gold. When the fire has perfected purity - or should I say simplicity - the fire no longer touches it. If the gold remained in the furnace for an eon, its spotlessness would not be improved upon nor its substance diminished!

   “Now the gold is fit for the most exquisite workmanship. In the future, if the gold should get dirty and seem to lose its beauty, it is nothing more than an accidental impurity which touches only the surface. This dirt is no hindrance to the use of the gold vessel. This foreign particle which attaches itself to the surface is a far cry from having corruption deep within the hidden nature of the gold.”

   “Rare would be the man who would reject a pure, golden vessel because it had some external dirt on it, preferring some cheap metal joy because its surface had been polished.”

   “God allows defects to remain in the dearest of His saints so that He can preserve the saint from corruption and “hide him in the secret of His presence.” (Psalm 31:20)”

   Bhai Sahib said:

   “Something will always remain; I told you this before. Even in Great People something always remains; so that people will say: ‘Look here, how many faults are there!’ While we are in the physical bodies, something must remain.” (3d)

   Michael Molinos, in The Spiritual Guide (1675), wrote:

   “It is a rather dangerous thing to be perfect. There is vice in being without frailty; there is vice in virtue. Because we make a wound of our medicine He makes a medicine of our wound, so that we who are injured by virtue may be cured by vice. The Lord, by means of our small failures, lets us know that it is His majesty which frees us from great faults. These are the ways He keeps us humble and vigilant.”

   Fenelon likewise had this to say on the notions of visible faults and perfection. I am sure we can all attest to this in ourselves and others we know:

   “Don’t be surprised at the defects in good people. God leaves weaknesses in all of us. In those who are advanced, the weakness is out of proportion to their otherwise mature life. In a field, a workman may leave a pillar of earth to measure the amount of material removed. God leaves similar pillars within those He is perfecting. A person with visible shortcomings can be more spiritually advanced than someone who is free from such defects. “Perfect” people often want to find fault with others for not being perfect. God’s way is entirely different. He sometimes allows people to remain deeply flawed in order to keep them from being too satisfied with themselves. It would be easier for them to be corrected for their failings than to feel conquered by their weakness.

   “Imperfection only is intolerant of imperfection. You know from experience the bitterness of the work of correction; strive then to find means to make it less bitter to others.”

   “People must learn to bear with their own weaknesses as well as the weaknesses of others. Why are you so upset by your neighbors’ faults when your own are still uncorrected? Your motives are not entirely pure in wanting to see people perfected for God’s glory: People’s faults bother you because you are too fussy and hard to please. You can often help others more by correcting your own faults than theirs. Remember - and you should, because of your own experience - that allowing God to correct your faults is not easy. Be patient with people - wait for God to work with them as He will do.”

   And finally:

   “Nothing has been more common in ancient, as well as in modern times, than to meet souls who were perfect and holy, theoretically. (Matt. 7:6) “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” says the Saviour. And that is the only rule that never deceives, when it is properly understood; it is that by which we must judge ourselves.”

   Much to think about here. Perhaps agreement may also be found, then, with this statement by Bhai Sahib:

   “God is perfect in every respect.
    Guru is perfect in many respects.”
   A Disciple is perfect in one or two respects.”

   I think in this quote we may assume that by “Disciple” is meant a pure disciple, even a self-realized soul. Such a status does not automatically make one a guru, which requires many more qualities to effectively guide disciples of all kinds. A similar distinction was made by Shri Atmananda between a self-realized person and a sage or acarya, the latter needing a special abundance of qualities in addition to simple realization, to be able to guide aspirants on different paths. This would be quite rare, as most gurus only guide followers along the path they themselves have traveled. One might also make a distinction between a Sant and a Sant-SatGuru.. The gist is that the more relative wisdom a realizer of Absolute Wisdom has, the better or more effective a Guru he will be.

   But, having said all this,

   “The lover sees no fault in the beloved and considers him to be worthy of his highest regard for him. This is giving away one’s heart....If you want to know how the heart goes out of your hands, ask one who has lost his heart...Unless one’s self is completely surrendered, nothing can be achieved on the Path of Love. There is no half way.” (3f)

Another question is: how many Perfect Masters are there? We will leave this unanswered, and the reader perhaps unsatisfied, save for this enigmatic quote by Sant Kirpal Singh:

   “Due to their limited knowledge, the majority of the people do not believe that there could be a living Master in the world today. But love says, “You should remove the bandage of ignorance and selfishness from your eyes. Then only will you see not one but many perfect Masters.”

20. Is the Saint or Master Omniscient?

   This question is related to the previous one about 'perfection', and is also a stumbling block and conundrum for many seekers. As with most things, there is a childish, immature, or incomplete view, and a more straightforward truth, offered to three grades of students. In the school of advaita vedanta, and the view of many sages, "omniscience" does not mean knowledge of everything the mind can think of, but rather the permanent and continuous knowing or recognition of Reality or Brahman, period. This is especially significant in that the highest form of knowing has so frequently been described as a kind of "unknowing" or "divine ignorance." A little story will illustrate this. In 1991 I met Sant Rajinder Singh for the first time when my friend William Combi pushed me up to the dias to meet the saint. I was writing a book of biographies of spiritual teachers at the time, which William was quick to point out. I was a little embarrassed, and simply said, "I really don't know what I am doing," to which Sant Rajinder's instant response, faster than anyone else could notice, was, "Join the club!" Rather than causing doubt to arise, for me it was an instiller of confidence in him and my own guru. To me this meant his knowledge arose spontaneously or intuitively as needed from deep within. Later, I have heard Master Rajinder say, "God-Power does everything, I don't do anything." Many saints and sages have confessed to this, that while many wonderful things happen all around them, apparently related to their presence, yet they generally take no credit for it, having become the still point at the center of the wheel. Swami Saradananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna writes:

   "The Vedas and other scriptures say that a knower of Brahman becomes all-knowing. This saying of the scriptures is proved to be wholly true when we notice the present behavior of the Master firmly established in the knowledge of Brahman. For not only did he now become directly acquainted with both the Absolute and its relative aspect, with Brahman and its power Maya and rising far above all doubts and impurities was abiding in a state of everlasting bliss [unknowing?], but, ever feeling his oneness with the universal Mother in Bhavamukha, he could undertake any hidden mystery of the realm of Maya any moment he wished to know...All the ideas arising in the universal mind appear clearly before one who has crossed the limit of his little I-ness and has become identified with the universal I. The Master could know the events of all the previous births of his devotees before they had come to him, only because he had reached that state. He could know the particular Lila of the universal Mind for the manifestation of which he had assumed his present body. He also knew that some very high class Sadhakas were born by the will of God to participate in that sport...[However] from what the Master told us on one occasion...it is clear that all truths do not always remain revealed even to the minds of incarnations of God. But whatever truth of the spiritual world they want to know and understand, comes very easily within the range of their mind and intellect." (4)

   Shri Atmananda spoke of truth, being beyond the opposites, as characterized by “knowledge knowing everything and knowledge not knowing anything, at the same time.” (Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #1134)

   How’s that for paradox and mystery! Thus, something like this may be true: a high degree of relative knowledge may be available to a realized Master, but generally on a 'need to know basis' for his work. His all-knowingness lies primarily in his realization, but along with that often come spontaneous siddhis that bring him access to 'detailed files', so to speak, that appears like omniscience. But we cannot expect a Master to know everything there is about nuclear physics, for example, if he has not trained in that field, absent a miracle. And saints usually eschew miracles or the use of siddhis unless moved by the Power within to be used to do so, and even then generally deny doing so. Such then is a limit on his relative knowledge. More important is his ability to read one's spiritual condition and offer highly individual guidance.

   This also brings up the issue that when one is 'born', or when spiritually 'born again', onto the quest or into its final goal, one is not born as an adult! He is born as a babe, so to speak. Therefore, a new master must grow into adulthood. He is not automatically equipped with all power and knowledge. This is quite evident upon observation. It doesn't mean he is not perfect according to the aforementioned criteria. But it certainly means he still grows in understanding and capability.

   It must be admitted, however, that there is a paradox here. For the true master, as portrayed in Sant Mat in any case, is not the physical form, but the Master-Power or God-Power or Oversoul behind the 'breakwater' of the physical Master. And that Power is infinite, and can, for example, manifest the Master's Radiant or subtle form (and even physical form) to millions of people simultaneously, even beyond or over the head of the human Master's awareness, which is the more common occurence. It is also always capable of giving one the advice he needs in any situation, according to the Divine will - even if the physical Master does not know it - and even if he Himself is not yet capable of acting in such a capacity. This is, granted, hard to understand. But in a sense this may be considered an attribute of omnipresence and omniscience, if one likes. What it amounts to is that the infinite Self knows everything because it is everything, but has a special focus in the Master, using him as necessary.

   The concept that a human Master is omniscient and omnipotent, while useful perhaps at a particular stage of development of a disciple, is simply too often misconstrued. It need not be a stumbling block for anyone. If it is an aid for ones devotion, so be it, but it must be understood rightly. A fifth-plane master is fully 'Overself' conscious at all times, if that term is permitted to be used here, and able to look into the deepest heart of the disciple. The scriptures of every tradition are full of stories about having full faith in the words and actions of the Master, especially when directed at the individual. He is, so-called, in tune and one with the Sat Purush, the universal Soul, and thus is His mouthpiece. Yet it doesn't lessen the grandeur of a Master and his scope of influence to see him in his humanness, but, rather, should seemingly be a guide to strengthen ones faith. If one is in internal conflict because of a discord between his faith and his reason, that is not too useful. Doubts must be cleared before one can move on. Sant Darshan Singh once replied to a disciple's question of whether a saint always knows of the existence of all of the other other saints alive in the world or on higher planes at the same time. Master Darshan replied, "Of course, saints are all-knowing." Now, to this writer's limited understanding, for a true saint to know that there are other saints alive at the same time does not necessarily imply being "all-knowing" - nor would he automatically have to know of the presence of ALL of the saints or liberated masters so existing in order to be worthy of the name 'Master', but, then again, perhaps he could do so if he 'researched' (on inner and outer planes) this matter. But would he also be able to distinguish between a saint and a sage? For there is a difference between the two, in most understandings. A sage has been traditionally been described as "trackless, like a fish in water, invisible even to the gods," and knowing reality, that everything is Brahman, at all times. This basically means that his essence, with which he is constantly aware, is noumenal, not phenomenal. It cannot be 'seen.' And such beings are often rather hidden, therefore how could one know them unless they wanted to be known, or were among those sharing in the 'same line of work'?

   It is a little know fact, it has been said, that there is often a 'veil' of sorts between Masters working in higher dimensions such that one master may NOT know what another is doing unless it is part of his own work and experience. This is difficult to explain, but, my sense of it is that it has something to do with the fact that one can be conscious on a plane, but not yet be able to function on that plane, and further, one may function on a plane, but not fully understand on that plane, or be able to translate perfectly in language or to the brain what he actually knew while on that plane. It is somewhat like if a master in the tenth century had a vision of the future. Again, would he be able to explain the intricacies of nuclear physics to his audience? Not likely. It takes time, then, to fully acclimate in those dimensions. Furthermore, as for a Master's articulation of the teaching and his own experience, there is this to consider, again from PB:

   "The inspiration may be pure Spirit but because it must come into a particular man, he receives it in a particular way, interprets, expresses and communicates it in a personal way, so that the purity is at least a little adulterated, the integrity a little lost. His character may be as selfless as he can make it, but the coloring of his mind can only fade out to a particular extent because his body is still there, his entire past history is there graven in the subconscious, and body is interfused with mind. All this will vanish with death." (4a)

   As Master Darshan's statement about omniscience is different from Master Rajinder's enigmatic comment to me above, I would like to explore this idea a bit further. The gist of the common understanding is that the ignorant soul 'knows nothing', but the 'Lord knows everything'. But this is the 'understanding' within the dream of a dreamer. So, of course, to the extent that it is true at all, it is of necessity paradoxical.

   Kirpal said:

   “Nobody can boast that he knows everything. Even if we know the everything - all creation - what is it? It is one ray of thought, is it not? Man cannot know everything. At least that which is that ray manifest somewhere, that can give you contact with that ray within you, that’s all.” (Heart-to-Heart Talks, p. 43-44)

   (Here “that’s all” is surely an understatement!)

   Ramana Maharshi once remarked somewhat sarcastically after certain guests left, "people think if I can not answer every question that I am not great, etc." The great Zen Master Dogen; as mentioned, once said, "the life of a Zen Master is one continuous mistake." When further asked if he as enlightened, he replied, "I do not know." When questioned if he did not mean that literally, he said, "No, I really don't know!" Now that one can really make one think if he takes it too literally. One simply can't get ones mind around such a comment. Held in contrast with that of the "perfect master" and it can't help reduce one to an absolute state of ignorance, which is a great achievement! Paul Cash, further, in an article he wrote about his time with Paul Brunton (PB), who many consider to have been a sage, wrote thusly:

   "Once PB asked Paul what his idea of what it is like being a sage. Paul answered that he thought one thing would be that one loves everybody. PB answered, "I'm not that advanced; I don't love everybody." Another time the question of omniscience came up:

   One afternoon I asked him, "What exactly is it about a sage's mind that makes that mind so different from the rest of us?" It was one of many questions I asked that he didn't originally seem to intend to answer. But I persisted and finally he asked me, "Well what do you think it is?"

   I said that I had never been able to believe that it could be omniscience in the sense of knowing everything at once; but I didn't think it unreasonable to conceive that when a sage wants or needs to know, he could turn his mind toward it in a certain way and that knowledge would just arise.

   PB laughed heartily and answered, "It's not even that good!"

   "Well, how good is it?"

   "It has really nothing to do with knowledge, or continuity of intuition, or frequency of intuitions. It's that the mind has been made over into the Peace in an irreversible way. No form that the mind takes can alter the Peace."

   "You could say it's a kind of knowledge," he continued, "in this sense. If the mind takes the form of truth, the sage knows it's truth. If it doesn't , then he knows that it's not. He's never in doubt about whether the mind has knowledge or not. But whether it does or not, his Peace is not disturbed."

   I asked if that meant that someone could go to a sage for help and the sage would be unable to help them. He replied that sometimes the intuition comes, sometimes it doesn't; he explained that when it doesn't come, the sage knows he has nothing to do for that person. The continuity of frequency of the intuitions has to do with the sage's mission, not with what makes a sage a sage.

   "You must understand," he said, "that there is no condition in which the Overself is at your beck and call. But there is a condition in which you are continuously at the Overself's beck and call. That's the condition to strive for."

   As he spoke these words, he was the humblest man I had ever seen before or since. For all the extraordinary things about him, all the glamorous inner and outer experiences, all the remarkable effects his writings and example have had on others, that humility is what seems to be the most important fact about him."

    Speaking on Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo once remarked:

   "Because he is a great man, does it follow that everything he thinks or says is right? Or because he lives in the light, does it follow that his light is absolute and complete? Living in the true consciousness is living in a consciousness in which one is spiritually in union with the divine in one way or another. But it does not follow that by so living one will have complete, exact and infallible truth about all ideas, all things and all persons. [Maharshi] realizes the divine in a certain aspect and he has knowledge of what is necessary for his path. It does not follow that he will have knowledge that is beyond what he has reached or is outside it." (4aa)

   To which David Godman noted,

   "I should point out..that although Sri Maharishi often gave forthright answers to questions, at no time did he insist that he alone was right, or that all people should follow his teachings." (4b)

   My co-writer offers this explanation:

   "A great learning the 'world sangha' is experiencing in these times is the gradual recognition that there is a significant difference between Self-Realization and the development of relative wisdom. In this understanding, being a 'true master' or SatGuru will not mean relative omniscience, especially in the physical consciousness, which is more veiled than the higher bodies. So even though the physical consciousness of a jivanmukti or liberated one, might be more permeable to the influence of higher planes, it is likely, one might say, still more veiled than the same master while in their vijnanamayakosha alone. So the full liberation of an adept, the 'true' nature of their 'mastery', is true in the sense that they have been reborn fully into the light of a nondual realization that eclipses their tendency to act out of self-interest based on dualistic perceptions and, therefore, separative needs. This is different from their 'knowing everything.' But even this living realization may be mildly tainted by the veils of the lower bodies, but usually, with a more complete master, not very much. But again, as far as their relative wisdom goes, that is very subject to conditioning from the state of the world at large, human culture at large, the gene pool they incarnated into, their personal karmic history and education, the lineage they may be a part of, and the type of training and practices they received. The relative aspect of an initiate's nature and understanding is a combined product of all these factors interacting with their inner realization. So they are only 'perfect' in their liberation, not in their relative wisdom. Recognizing or accepting this can be a challenge for spiritual seekers, who have for a long time wanted to believe that masters are perfect in all ways. It is a kind of long romance, and the fantasy is fading, and practical truth is emerging. Masters and disciples, it seems, may both need to adjust themselves to this wiser and more mature understanding of the true nature of the situation. Masters are profound in their core realization - which to us is of most importance - and still in varying degrees human in their relative wisdom. It will most likely take time for the great lineages in the world to adjust to these truths."

   And further, on another occasion, in responding to a personal reaction of despair, in my particular condition, after reading one passage sent to me: “By sitting in silence and focusing on the spiritual vistas within, we return to God. That is the measure of success in our spiritual work, which is our true mission in life,” my friend responded;

   “Yes, I just ignore quotes like that! I make a distinction that is very important to me in understanding spiritual masters and teachings - which is that there is a difference between relative wisdom and absolute wisdom. The latter concerns direct experience of 'God', 'nondualism', the 'Tao', 'Brahman', etc. These terms I put in quotes because they are names for a reality (more or less the same with differences of interpretation and so on), that are about the underlying, deepest or most 'absolute' reality. The relative can be very deep and soulful too, but is more about truths like the value of equanimity, or the nature of karma, or the differences between different practices, or the nature of Grace. These are very important and profound truths too, but are more 'relative'.
   To me, one important reason to understand the difference between these two truths is that liberation, mastership or nirvana is essentially based on absolute wisdom. When one has adequately realized the 'absolute', then one feels such a depth of wholeness that separation ends, and one feel contentment, peace and liberation from personal suffering.
   But the methods of arriving there, and the details of all the relative levels of truth, are much more complex and there are many points of view about all that. So what I find in various examples of 'true masters', those that have realized liberation, is that they have all deeply realized some version of absolute truth, and this has given them liberation. And in that sense they are 'perfect' or 'sat gurus'. But always, their relative wisdom is imperfect. They will have areas of great and profound relative understanding about some topic like grace and karma, but be very unaware of another area, or even have partial or false views in that area. So a sobering truth about masters is that, although their absolute wisdom (direct intuitive realization of a profound sense of transcendent truth) is very deep, their relative wisdom is always flawed - in some areas profound, in others middlish, and in other not so great. Their absolute realization makes it more likely that they will have better relative wisdom than the average person - and I would argue that, overall, they always do. But point by point, they will definitely always have flaws - even the Buddha, Lao Tse, Krishna, Jesus - all had flawed relative wisdom. I love the Sant Mat masters, and feel deeply their mastery, and even value some of their relative wisdom. But I have disagreements with them in other areas as well. As I do with Ramana, Daskalos, Buddha, Dogen, Jesus, etc. etc.
   I feel we are in a time when students have a new challenging task of growing up some and discovering this truth that masters can be 'perfect' in their liberating/absolute wisdom, and imperfect in their relative wisdom. The old archetype is of the perfect master who is omniscient and can't be questioned. Those days are over, imo. People are too educated now and exposed to too many teachings, which is exposing the flaws in the teachings in specific individuals and traditions more and more. So I still deeply respect the inner liberated presence of a master while being discriminating about what they say. Agree sometimes, not other times.

   For me, that quote is standard Sant Mat with its primary emphasis on inversion meditation. It is not that the entire quote is wrong, per se, only, imo, incomplete. In particular, I don't agree with the statement at all about “the measure of our success.” I know many people who are 'on fire' through grace, past karma/practice, etc. so that the Fire of purification burns without the need of practice at this time. In fact, in some cases any meditation will make it too intense and out of balance. For many just learning to accept the process, surrender to the fire and the suffering and let it do its work, is the path. And then, as a kind of karma yogi, just trying to maintain ordinary life activity and hang in there. For some this is the path. Even things like therapy can be part of the path. So, I love many of these Masters, but their publicly expressed understanding of the path, when meant for everyone, at all stages, and in every situation, is a little simplistic and outdated for me.”

   This particularly pertains to what we have already written about “progress” in Sant Mat Three. There are many ways saints and mystics of all ages have expressed progress towards the ultimate goal besides their degree of success in meditative inversion. Even Kirpal Singh said that in the greater picture progress is not about the inner experiences one has. And one finds that in private even these masters sometimes say and recommend different things to different people - as it has always been with great masters with insight into what people need. [Note: this is not a recommendation for anyone not to do a certain practice or meditation, just to give a ray of hope by way of understanding that progress proceeds in different ways and by different routes for different people].

   The same friend who counsels me at times sent me this reassuring message. This was for me, not you, so absorb whatever, if anything, feels right or helpful to you. Otherwise, stay true to yourself and your master.

   “I've met quite a few who are the same - inversion, for one reason or another, isn't the path for them. It's not really my path either, although I had periods when I meditated that way. Not now. I love the masters of Sant Mat, but don't follow that practice. Nor has that caused me to experience any sense of separation with the Inner Being of the masters of that lineage like Kirpal or Darshan, They understand and are supportive. And that is my experience of how Kirpal feels towards you too. Just compassion and support and grace.”

   Kirpal 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."

   “When a disciple entrusts his all to the Master, he becomes carefree and the Master has of necesity to take over the entire responsibility, just as a mother does for her child who does not know what is good for him. Surrender..comes only when a disciple has complete faith and confidence in the competency of the Master.”

   “Self-surrender is not an easy task. To accomplish it, one has to recede back to the position of an innocent child. It means an entire involution, a complete metamorphosis, supplanting one’s own individuality.
   It is the path of self-abnegation, which not everyone can take.
   On the other hand, the path of spiritual discipline is comparatively easy. Self-effort can be tried by anyone in order to achieve spiritual advancement.
   It is, no doubt, a long and tortuous path, as compared with the way of self-surrender, but one can, with confidence in the Master, tread of firmly step by step. If, however, a person is fortunate enough to take to self-surrender, he can have all the blessings of the Master quickly, for he goes directly into his lap and has nothing to do by himself for himself.”

   Please send a few kind thoughts this way, dear reader, it was not easy to write this material, risking breaking taboos, facing judgement, ridicule, damnation and crucifixion. My solace lies on the understanding that the times demand a reckoning and reconciliation of the different paths, and alleviation of unnecessary suffering due to misunderstanding. It is in this interest only that these exercises were undertaken. There is no self-interest to be gained, no money to be made. Prayers are sent constantly to the masters that no one be mislead by anything we have explored and written about. So far, feedback has mostly been positive. And for that I am most grateful.

   Continuing with the theme of the courage to question, this was the illustrious Swami Vivekananda’s attitude towards his revered Sri Ramakrishna:

   “The Master was greatly pleased with Narendra’s inquiring mind. Sri Ramakrishna also tested Narendra in an unusual way. Without explanation, whenever Naren visited Sri Ramakrishna, the Master would not speak to him, although he spoke with other devotees. Every time Naren came to visit Sri Ramakrishna, the Master ignored him. When he arrived, Sri Ramakrishna did not even greet him; similarly when he left, Sri Ramakrishna was silent. This continued for nearly a month. At last Sri Ramakrishna said, ‘Why do you still come here when I do not speak to you?’ Narendra replied, ‘Do you think I come to listen to you? I love you, and that is why I come.’ At his response the Master said, ‘I was testing you. Only a great person such as you could endure such treatment. Anyother person would have gone away.’ Narendra’s attitude was: I love you and so I come to you. But this does not mean that I will accept all of your words.” (4c)

   This expresses a thoroughly modern attitude. Would we be amiss in feeling the same way? Is there anything but fear and tradition that prevents it? Would any true master, moreover, think we were less of a devotee because of it? Or less spiritual?

   PB writes this about the sage:

   "He does not claim to be a walking encyclopedia nor ask for a halo of infallibility. There are many questions to which he does not know the true answer. He is neither pontifically infallible nor deifically omniscient."

   “His reliability and competence, his trustworthiness and holiness as a guide, are not diminished if his limitations and faults as a human being are acknowledged...I distrust the legends which are told about most gurus by the disciples. They all exaggerate. Why? Because they have stopped seeking truth...When a man turns belief in the superior knowledge of the guide into belief in the virtual omniscience of the guide, it is dangerous.”
(Vol. 2, 6.263-265)

   Having said that. PB and presents us with the paradox of devotion:

   “Do not stray into waters that are too deep for you. Do not try to grasp the mystery of your master. You cannot do it and you will never do it, for if ever you came to the very edge of succeeding in doing it both you and he would vanish from your ken...The last lesson of these words is: trust him where you cannot understand, believe in him where you cannot follow, and no regret on this point need ever be yours.” (Ibid, 6.871)

   Finally, for the Jnani there is simply a different notion of omniscience altogether than that claimed by some great mystics.” All-knowing" for the jnani means "knowing at all times that all is consciousness" - not knowing every conceivable possibility in an infinite universe of ever-increasing relative knowledge.

   Shree Atmananda Krishnamenon: “Ignorance of everything is the same as knowledge of everything, which is pure knowledge.” (Notes on Spiritual Discourses, # )

   Sri Nisargadatta, speaking of gnana, or realization itself, said:

   “There are no distinctive marks of gnana. Only ignorance can be recognized, not gnana. Nor does a gnani claim to be something special. All those who proclaim their own greatness and uniqueness are not gnanis. They are mistaking some unusual development for realization [The latter is often the disciple’s mistake as well]. The gnani shows no tendency to proclaim himself to be a gnani. He considers himself to be perfectly normal, true to his real nature. Proclaiming oneself to be an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipotent deity is a clear sign of ignorance.” (I AM THAT, p. 193)

   My hope is that these examples will provide food for thought and help clarify this matter of perfection for the aspirant. Again, perfection as such is a concept of the human mind. It has limited usefulness. I can say this with confidence - that is, to my own satisfaction - simply because even sages have disagreed on what it means! Yet, having said that, I will also say that a perfect saint can 'read' your soul better than you can, and is therefore able to give better advice - i.e., what it is that you need to hear - when it is karmically or divinely appropriate - than anything that we can say here. But then, the receptivity to that advice, guidance and help is ones own responsibility.

   But even giving unerring guidance, for which we should be forever grateful, does not imply omniscience in the strict philosophic sense, and we should not be constrained to tortuously stretch the truth to uphold our allegiance to any group, teaching, or teacher, for how does that help us or anyone else?   One Sant Mat sceptic has strict criteria for omnipotence, for instance. One of them is that a Perfect Master should be able to go through a wood-chipper and come out whole again! We may laugh, but this is just an example of how absurd our lack of understanding of a widely used concept can become. But come, let us reason together a bit more.

   The respected modern sage Shree Atmananda, essentially an advaitin, once again offers further clarification on this issue of omnipotence:

   “The saint [note: not necessarily equivalent to the highest Saint in the Sant Mat tradition, but included here for the purposes of understanding] is one who follows the path of devotion to a personal god and develops an intense love (though personal) towards him. This love, in course of time, purifies the devotee’s heart immensely and makes it sattvic, though he still cannot transcend the limits of his own personality. His concept of God also develops, until it reaches omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. Here he is stranded, and has sometimes to wait for years to get help from a Karana-guru to take him beyond (as Sri Caitanya did). If he is fortunate enough to keep his reason alive, and if he succeeds in keeping himself away from the mire of fanaticism, he will be able to obtain a Karana-guru and will be liberated.” (Ibid, #1181)

   “God is conceived with the attributes of omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience etc.; and therefore he has to possess a cosmic mind, and there must be a cosmic world also for the mind to function in. But the real ‘I’- principle [the fundamental Reality] in man goes beyond mind and therefore beyond everything objective. In the sphere of the real ‘I’- principle, there is absolutely nothing else existing beside it. It is therefore attributeless. Brahman is also supposed to be attributeless. Therefore for God to become Brahman, he has to give up all the attributes attached to him.” (Ibid, #807)

   Kirpal once told me “God is nothing!” The gist seems to be that at first we visualize ourselves as small and God as big. But that concept of ‘bigness’ eventually has to go in order to come to the Truth.

   Atmananda goes on to say that there is a class of mystics who follow the path of raja-yoga (or one might add, shabd yoga) mixed with a course of jnyana practices, chalked out by a Karana-guru, who will certainly reach the ultimate Truth. One might take this as saying that enquiry added to one’s yoga practice is inevitable at some point, if ultimate Truth be the goal. This is rarely found in Sant Mat literature but is actually fairly uncontroversial in most high paths.

   My interpretation of this, in light of Sant Mat philosophy, is, one, that there are Masters and there are great Masters, and, two, that a realized Master in this system may function in two modes: one, from the position of what they refer to as the Wordless, Absolute God, where, as Kirpal Singh said to me, “God is Nothing!”, and in which their omniscience is jnanic in knowing the eternal Reality alone - whether in Anami Lok or in this present world; and, two, stepping down to the level of the Satpurusha, i.e., “God,” where the attributes of omniscience, etc., come into play (although, the Master being Soul, shares them in somewhat lesser in scope than God per se, Whose mind knows everything past, present, and future in all the universe(s) all at once). So confusion comes from not recognizing that there are two kinds of omniscience, as well as two (or more) notions of perfection as well: relative and Absolute.

   Similarly this exchange between a disciple with Ramana Maharishi may also shed some light on this issue:

   Question: Is there a separate being Iswara [personal God] who is the rewarder of virtue and punisher of sins? Is there a God?
   Bhagavan: Yes.
   Question: What is he like?
   Bhagavan: Iswara has individuality in mind and body, which are perishable, but at the same time he has also the transcendental consciousness and liberation inwardly. Iswara, the personal God, the supreme creator of the universe, really does exist. But this is true only from the relative standpoint of those who have not realized the truth, those people who believe in the reality of individual souls [we prefer to say, ‘who have only realized as far as the soul’, to avoid the implication that this is only a matter of thoughts, concepts, or beliefs, or, also, for the purposes of our discussion, that advaita is the only truth] . From the absolute standpoint the sage cannot accept any other existence than the impersonal Self, one and formless. Iswara has a body, a form and a name, but it is not so gross as this material body. It can be seen in visions in the form created by the devotee. [and also manifests itself to the devotee as well] The forms and names of God are many and various and differ with each religion. His essence is the same as ours, the real Self being only one and without form. Hence forms he assumes are only creations or appearances. Iswara is immanent in every person and every object throughout the universe. The totality of all things and beings constitutes God. There is a power out of which a small fraction has become all this universe, and the remainder is in reserve. Both this reserve power plus the manifested power as [all the worlds] together constitute Iswara.” ( David Godwin, ed., Be As You Are (Penguin Arkana, 1985), p. 204)

   This is the World-Mind of PB and the ultimate Deity of religion and mysticism. It itself knows Brahman, the Absolute, or what PB terms Mind. To get this far may be considered the next to last stage on the jnyana path of Vedanta, but a lofty realization it is. When is this realized in Sant Mat - Sach Khand or Anami lok? We understand that many Sant Mat writings assign Isvara to a lower position, but the meaning behind the word is what is important - it is a word after all - and it appears Ramana gives it a higher significance than Sant Mat writings do. And it is a stage below that reached by the Self-realized sage.

   In any case, this example from Ramana suggests the notion that a sage or sant may function, albeit to a limited degree, at times in God’s role as endowed with the great attributes like omniscience, etc., and then again function like absolute God or Godhead who has no such attributes, where the sage is “beyond the light, as the feeblest of creatures, with no sense of being a conscious co-creator in God’s Plan”, as PB once wrote.

   Something to ponder and to observe in the company of ones Master.

   Note on PB’s views on masters: one might be pardoned, based on the frequent use of his quotations in these articles, for thinking that Brunton solely advocated following an independent path and took a somewhat dim view of masters. This is not the case, but he did declare that, one, it was difficult to find the genuine article, and two, that there were various misunderstandings about them among seekers. The following quotes - especially the first one which I find rather unique for PB - should disavow the reader of any misconception in this regard.

   “Only when a sage is permanently and consistently established in the higher self may these occult powers be safely acquired and these relations with disciples be safely entered into. Only when other planes of existence are accessible to him and higher beings from those planes are instructing him can he really know how properly to live down here and be able to competently instruct others to do so.” (Vol. 2, 6.389)

   “One great advantage of the path of personal discipleship is that it requires no intellectual capacity, no special gifts of any kind, to get its profit and make progress along its course. What could be simpler than remembering the master’s name and face? What could be easier than mentally turning to him everyday in faith, reverence, humility and devotion?” (Ibid, 6.550)

   “The advantage of having a living master is immense...Should anyone have the good fortune to be taken under the wing of a sage, his progress will go forward at a far greater rate than would otherwise be possible.” (Ibid, 6.551)

   “There is no tie so strong, no attraction so deep as that between Master and pupil. Consequently it persists through incarnation after incarnation.” (Ibid, 6.560)

The Power of a Lineage

   Shifting gears, there is something to be said about the power of a lineage of Great Masters - where such exists - whose grace flows from one to the next in an unbroken stream, with each humbly deferring to his teacher as the source of grace, and himself being backed up - and his 'imperfect' aspects 'backed-up' - by those who came before him, and whom he is at one with in the Divine reality. For from the point of view of truth, all Masters are said to be One. An example of this sustaining power is given in the Mahayana text, the Lankavatara Sutra, where it says:

   "What is this twofold power that sustains the Bodhisattvas? The one is the power by which they are sustained to go through the Samadhis and Samapattis, while the other is the power whereby the Buddhas manifest themselves in person before the Bodhisattvas and baptise them with their own hands...This is in order to make them avoid the evil ones, karma, and passions, to keep them away from the Dhyana and stage of Sravakahood, to have them realise the stage of Tathagatahood, and to make them grow in the truth and experience already attained. For this reason, Mahamati, the fully Enlightened Ones sustain with their power the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas...Thus it is said: The sustaining power is purified by the Buddhas' vows; in the baptism, Samadhis, etc., from the first to the tenth stage, the Bodhisattvas are in the embrace of the Buddhas." (5)

   Something to think about.

   This also relates to the reality that an apparently faulty but “best candidate” for mastership can be ‘completed’ by his own Master over time, even instantly in some cases and some respects. Shree Atmananda speaks to this, and also to the historical fact that more than a few masters who have successfully reached the ultimate goal solely through either bhakti or jnyana have proven quite capable of schooling their disciples in paths other than that which they personally followed - or even studied! This may be well to keep in mind when assuming that such a path like Sant Mat is necessarily a cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all path:

   “When you reach the Ultimate by following the path of pure jnyana, you experience deep Peace and Happiness expressing itself sometimes in the form of gushing tears and choking voice. This is not an experience of the head, but of the heart in you. On the other hand, there are many instances of Sages like Padmapada and Vatishvarattamma who have reached the Ultimate through the heart, and heart alone, directed to their Guru - the Absolute - with deep devotion. They have subsequently guided aspirants to the Truth, even on the Jnyana path, most successfully. Thus it is clear that what one experiences through either path is the same Reality, the one through the head and the other through the heart.”

   “The disciple who takes the Guru to be the formless Ultimate, is taken to the right Absolute.
[i.e., the Truth] However, the disciple whose sense of discrimination is less developed, but who has a deep devotion to the person of the Guru, may well take the Guru to be the form. His love and devotion compensate abundantly for the lack of discrimination, and he is easily taken through the form to the formless, and thence to the Absolute even without knowing it. [this is an amazing quote!] Revered Vativishvarattamma - an illiterate woman devoted near Cape Commorin, who became a reknowned sage by her sincere and earnest devotion to her Guru (Amma-svami, who was a great yogin Sage) - is a standing testimony to this class of Sages. Though the disciple directs his love to the person of Guru, the reciprocation comes from the impersonal which is the abode of love. When your limited love is directed to the Guru, who is love unlimited, the limitation of your love vanishes immediately.”

   “Every Sage cannot be [a Karana-Guru], an Acarya. It needs certain special qualifications to equip oneself to be an Acarya. He must have the experience of all the different paths, particularly of those of devotion and yoga, so that he can guide the aspirants that come to him (sometimes with perverted experiences) without cutting the ground off their feet. These qualifications he can acquire by dint of exercises in the earlier stages of his spiritual life. In the light of ultimate Truth, later on, he would be able to see the correct significance of such experiences.”
(Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #’s 583, 690, 944)

   St. John of the Cross cautions - speaking of spiritual directors and not masters - but the point is worth considering:

   “Not everyone capable of hewing the wood knows how to carve the statue, nor does everyone able to carve know how to perfect and polish the work, nor do all who know how to polish it know how to paint it, nor do all who can paint it know how to put the finishing touches on it and bring the work to completion. One can do with the statue only what one knows how to do, and when craftsmen try to do more than they know how to do, the statue is ruined…Is it possible that all these functions are yours and that you are so perfect the soul will never need any other from you?…God leads each one along different paths so that hardly one spirit will be found like another in even half its method of procedure.” (Kavanough/Rodriguez trans. The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross: Living Flame of Love, stanzas 3.57-58)

   Atmananda adds, however:

   There are Sages who, though they had no previous training, cannot help taking the role of Guru; because they have been explicitly ordered by their own Gurus to do so. In such cases, all the necessary qualifications of the Guru come to them, as and when required. Whatever they are lacking will be supplied instantly by the word of their Guru. [another stunning quote!] (# 944)

   The mystery behind all of this is profound..........

   A relatively more minor issue but still needing to be addressed is that, in general, Sant Mat schools sometimes have said that it is a fixed divine design that the Master is always a man. The reason given is usually because, esoterically considered, all souls are female, and the divine is male. This is not universally held to be true, however, even within Sant Mat. I believe that Sant Darshan Singh said that this was the case, but I have heard Sant Kirpal Singh mention that there have been women saints (such as Mirabai and Rabia Basra, for instance). They may have been saints, of that there is little doubt; however, were they gurus? For that is another question. Then there was Anandamayi Ma, universally recognised as a great saint and spiritual master. There are other traditions, such as that of Tibetan Buddhism, where woman saints and siddhas have been held in great regard and many disciples of great male masters were sent to them for 'finishing school'. See the book, Women of Wisdom, by Tsultrim Allione (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984) for the amazing story of one Ayu Khandro, a famous woman adept. Some may say, well, it is the divine will on the path of the Shabd that requires a male to be a master, but it has been suggested that the custom may be more traditional and cultural than divinely ordained. Women in traditional India were taught to revere their husbands almost as a guru, but it may not be nearly the case when the roles are reversed. In the West, it may be even more difficult. Within meaning any irreverence, in the movie City Slickers one of Billy Crystal’s memorable lines was, “A woman needs a reason to have sex, a guy just needs a place.” So maybe a man’s internal wiring, all things considered, makes him better off with a male guru, Just a thought, perhaps chauvanistic, maybe politically incorrect. In far earlier ages when there was a matriarchal society no doubt the roles may have been reversed. And, even now, in some traditions the divine is considered female, the Great Mother, and not male. So, while this may seem a minor point compared to the deep philosophy we have been covering, it nevertheless had to be mentioned to make our discussion complete.

   Are Masters “above the stars?”

  This is another related topic concerning astrology and its influence on the Masters. Let us consider. A natal chart basically represents the ego at the time of birth for the present incarnation and shows the characteristic modes of functioning of that ego. The planets at the time of birth occupy the twelve houses of a circle of 360 degrees. Some of the houses appear empty, however. Does that mean we are not able to function or are not called to function in the areas of life represented by those “empty” houses? No, of course not - but the ego by tendency might prefer not to. Now visualize the entire circle of 360 degrees as representing the witness self, which, spiritually, we are meant to grow into. The ordinary person is fairly predictable because the ego as represented in his chart is fairly predictable. But the more one grows beyond that set of born tendencies and gets closer to realizing and living as the witness self, the less predictable one will be and the more capable he will be of responding to what is required by any given set of circumstances of life - whether or not he has any planets in those houses in his natal chart. The sage is permanently identified with the witness self or soul, not the ego, and, therefore, he is much less predictable than his natal chart would represent. He may function in his ego or he may not. This is one meaning to Kirpal Singh’s saying that the masters are beyond the stars. They are not limited to the predictability of the ego. It doesn’t mean they don’t have a characteristic personality denoted by the natal chart, although they are not limited to it, and while in it may function from far beyond it as well. For example, Kirpal was an Aquarian and very much interested and involved in humanitarian causes. On the other hand, he was entirely unpredictability when dealing with disciples, and one could never know what might happen next. His own shift from health to sickness to health from one moment to the next was another example of this.

   Further, a sage’s influence on his disciples will change their destiny, and even alter some of their prarabdha karmas. This would be the influence of grace. And inasmuch as a disciple by his own efforts, progresses out of his natal tendencies, growing more into identification with the witness position, his prarabdha karmas may also change, to the degree that his reaction to them changes, thus foregoing further reactions, and so forth. Thus, for both of these reasons, the disciples of the masters are to varying degrees “above the stars” also. “Predictions may not come true. While there is no way to quantify it, one might speculate that their degree of free will may expand beyond the general 25% estimated by the Sants. Shri Atmananda sums all of this up this way:

   “It is a process of calculation and application of mathematics, in establishing the relationship of cause and effect, reduced to the terms of their source: ‘time’. In these calculations, many other things have also to be taken into consideration. If all these are given due consideration, the predictions will be mostly correct. Still, facts relating to the body alone can be predicted successfully - facts relating to the ‘sharira-yatra (the ‘journey of the body’) as they technically call it. Even here, sometimes it goes wrong, whenever Consciousness from beyond the realm of the mind brings to bear its influence upon the activities of the body, either directly or indirectly. For example, when a Sage’s thoughts in any way intervene from beyond the limitations of time, the predictions fail. Therefore, with regard to the life of yogins or sadhakas progressing under a Sage, good astrologers usually refuse to predict anything. Here, something other than the body element, from beyond the body level, comes into operation...This means: If your free will becomes predominant in your activities, you gradually transcend your prarabdha-karmas [conditioning from the past].” (Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #209)

   A few relevant quotes from Paul Brunton on astrology:

   “The planets do not control your individual destiny, but their movements determine the time when the latent karma which you have earned shall become active and operative.” (Vol. 6, Part Two, 3.429)

   “The horoscope is a map not only of the present reincarnation but also of the relation existing between the ego and the soul. It indicates what particular lessons have to be learned” (Ibid, 3.431)

   “Astrology rests on the ground of karma in tendencies and deeds. Freedom of decision rests on the evolutionary need to let man express the creativeness he gets from the Overself. He must put both factors together to find truth.” (Ibid, 3.436)

   “Whatever happens to a man is in some way the consequences of what he did in the past, including the far-gone past of former births. But it may also be in part the imposition of the World-Idea’s pattern upon his own karmic pattern. If it comes, such imposition is irresistible for then the planetary rhythms are involved.”
(Ibid, 3.439)

   So we find the idea of a Universal Mind’s activity inside of or super-imposed on an individual mind’s efforts; grace influencing or altering karma; Fate-Destiny-Karma, interconnected with Divine Providence; an evolutionary impulse or Guiding hand, modifying or shaping or releasing aspects of a person’s karma. In short, two basic complementary laws influencing events.

   Returning to the discussion of the difference between the paths of jnana (the "direct" or "short" paths) versus paths such as Sant Mat (which might be called indirect" or "long" paths, I was privy thirty years ago to the confession of one satsangi, Ed Wallace, with an ecstatic demeanor, and blood-red, tear-filled eyes, who said that after literally having to "drag himself to satsang" for five years he finally achieved by the grace of the Master entry into the first of the inner planes, the experience of which at first scared him, but which appeared to have had the result in him of a marked change of character. When asked, "Is it a place or a state," he answered me, "it's both; it's so perfect - you die, and are born again! And once you are through, you are through forever." Thirty years later, Ed confesses to witnessing Kirpal Singh coming on the inner planes to take charge of numerous souls at the time of death, a testimony to the faithful discharge of the promise of a Godman. Now, such a positive result may have been true for him, but for others whose inner journey was a more gratuitous passage, a temporary gift, they often come out with the vividness of the experience fast receding, and all that is left is a dream-like memory, as the ego re-identifies with the body and consolidates its hold over the being again. That is certainly true for nightime transports. But for others, such as the gentleman mentioned above, his confession was an inspiration to behold. Judith Lamb-Lion's tale of going to Sach Khand, a much higher state, at her initiation, however, was related to me, at the time, in a much more calm and balanced way. Based on these two honest accounts of death-in-life on this path of ascent it should not be dismissed by the beginner or seasoned advaitist or non-dualist student that the possibility exists of a progressive death and absorption of the ego-soul at succeeding inner plane after inner plane leading to a progressively more integrated form of non-dual realization that is valid in its own right. For that, in effect, is what the Sants and the greatest of the historical mystics are saying.

   An interesting take on this form of path is given by one Swami Satprakashananda:

   ”Knowers of Saguna Brahman [God with form or attributes], according to Sankara, do not have full knowledge (jnana) and their souls depart from their bodies at the time of death, although they do not have to be reborn. The jnanis (knowers of Nirguna Brahman - God without attributes), however, merge in Brahman, and their subtle bodies (souls) dissolve at the time of death....Knowers of Saguna Brahman realize Nirguna Brahman and attain final liberation at the cosmic dissolution, along with Hiranyagarbha, the presiding deity of Brahmaloka. This is called “Gradual Liberation” (krama-mukti), as distinct from “Immediate Liberation” (sadya mukti), achieved by those who realize Nirguna Brahman in this very life.” (6)

   This gradual liberation has also been discussed clearly by Swami Krishnananda, disciple of the reknown Swami Sivananda, whom Kirpal Singh respected. He argues that one can reach Brahmaloka or union with Puroshottama and, thus purified, gain a relative liberation, and then attain final, unconditional mukti from the after-death realms. Paramhansa Yogananda was of the view that most souls achieve final liberation from the higher regions after death.

   Since a chief claim of Sant Mat is that Sat Lok itself is beyond both Brahmaloka and the “three worlds”, as well as cosmic dissolution and grand dissolution, and is eternal, it would most likely agree that the above statement only implies a relative liberation in Brahmaloka, although it would not disagree on the general concept of gradual liberation or the non-necessity of rebirth for as yet unliberated souls, which it, and even some schools of Buddhism, are also in agreement with. It is just that it will likely take longer on the inside than here on the physical plane. Alot more. [we also acknowledge that in Vedanta, any such talk of time, rebirth, or dissolutions are quite secondary - imaginary and illusory - from the higher perspective (i.e., when the ego is taken out of the picture). But as they are mentioned in the traditions we bring it up here.

   21. What does Self-realization and God-Realization mean in Sant Mat?

   This is an important source of much confusion when comparing systems. To clear up a question of the different concept of Self-Realization in Sant Mat and some other schools, in Sant Mat when the soul leaves the mind behind in Trikuti, the realm of the universal mind or Brahma and the home of the 'individual mind', the soul arrives in Par Brahmand, the super-causal regions, and can be said to know itself. How does it know itself? It knows itself as free of the three bodies and of the same essence as God. It metaphorically utters the famous Mahavakya, aham Brahm asmi, or "Oh Lord, I am of the same essence as thou art," or "I am That", and, according to the Sants, is actually at the level from where the Vedic rishis derived that Mahavakya. The soul, free of the mind or mental vehicle, now is said to glow 'with the light of sixteen suns'. This is the 'Self-Realization' in the terminology of the Sants, which the reader can see is quite different from the vedantic Self-realization, for instance as given by the sage Ramana Maharshi. [Truthfully, I don’t know how to compare the two systems. One is attained in a disembodied ascended ‘vertical’ position, while the other is a ‘horizontal’ heart-root realization. In classic Vedanta Self-Realization is realization of the Self of All, as opposed to the realization of the inner Atman such as in heart-samadhi at the root of ‘I.’ In Sant Mat the progression is a little more complex]. The soul beyond the three bodies is free from the need to incarnate in the lower worlds; however, dualistic impressions of karma still are impressed upon the soul, and the soul has yet to know its place or dimension of origin. Three regions remain between the soul and the home of the Father, Sach Khand, the first eternal spiritual region of Sat Lok and considered the first stage of the God-realizing stages.

   The super-causal regions are Daswan Dwar (which has several stages), where the karmic impressions are wiped clean, then Maha Sunn, or a great Void of vast and impenetrable darkness (at the threshold of which the soul is said to be instructed in the knowledge of its four hidden regions), for which the soul needs the superior light of a master who has gone further in order to cross, followed by Bhanwar Gupta, or the "whirling cave" separating the soul from Sach Khand. The Sants claim that the highest region that mystics of the religions have gone to is Trikuti, and which they have mistaken for the highest. Once the soul is reborn in Sach Khand, which is the first wholly nondual plane (from the point of view of ignorance), there is progressive absorption by the Sat Purush or the Father into the Nameless and Formless Absolute God. The sound current of God, the Soul, and the Father are all one in essence. After this level of realization things are turned in side out, in the sense that, as all planes ultimately interpenetrate, no longer is God only to be found within, as such terms as 'within' and 'without' cease to have real meaning. Not only has the drop merged into the ocean, but the ocean has merged into the drop. The later, said Kabir, is 'para-bhakti'. It is an altogether higher order of experience. As the Zen Master Tozan remarked:

   "Everywhere I am able to meet Him;
   He is me now;
   I am not Him.
   When we understand this
   We are instantaneously with the Truth."

   Part of the confusion between Sant Mat and advaitic/Buddhist philosophies is that the latter may not realize that there is, in a sense, a void or zero-point not only between each successive plane of being, but also various void-like regions along the way that may be mistaken for 'emptiness' or ultimate realization. And part of the confusion in Sant Mat is that many do not realize that one may realize the truth of non-duality on any plane, without profound inversion, as is the case in schools such as Zen, Advaita, or Dzogchen. However, this is not an inherent limitation, as traditionally one first detaches from the world, realizing what is not oneself and what is the inner reality, and then one goes back into the world to realize that from which one separated oneself as also the same reality, or inseparable from it. So there is an ordered logic to the approach which is the same in all systems.

   On the path of Surat Shabd Yoga meditation, one must first enter the silence, in order to contact the Sound of Brahman, which is the sound of the Greater Silence and to which it leads. The advaitists think they have a short-cut, while the Sants hold that one must pass through all of the hierarchical and archtypal phases of creation and the mind, before the great nondual truth with all its great paradoxes may actually be realized. At least, most of them feel this way. We will return to this point later on. Important to note is that the soul, upon merging, retains its capacity to unmerge and become soul. it merges, yet is still in some sense separate. Charan Singh said, while this is so, nevertheless one is not ‘conscious of one’s consciousness, individuality, or even conscious itself, that all is the love and bliss of the Supreme Being’. However, when one re-emanates, he continues to know this is so, but experiences it in a somewhat lesser way.

   For vedantic pundits such as V. S. Iyer, a strict vedantic analysis would hold that liberation is truly not release from the cycle of births and deaths, but knowledge or gyan alone, that is, freedom from even the concept of birth and death. [Ironically, the mystic Paltu Sahib said that one 'listens to the sound while in gyan samadhi', thus implying that this practice and realization is a much higher one]. In any case, the point is that the sage, if he so chooses or is comissioned to do so, will perpetually return just like everyone else for the sake of others. His freedom lies in that he knows all is Brahman, and his sympathies and identification are with the benefit of all. That is why he will come back. He is no longer motivated by the hope of a personal salvation, bliss, or peace. Incidentally, the term Brahman for the Sants signifies a lower level of realization than what the term connotes for the Vedantists, furthering one's possible confusion. But we will not go into that now.

   One point to be noted is that one may become certain by an inner psychic or mystical experience that he is NOT the body, but he doesn’t necessarily also know what the ego is, or what the world or God is, nor can he necessarily make sense out of the world when he comes out of meditation, without some other sadhana of purification and metaphysical understanding or inquiry. That is because the mystic believes that what he perceives or feels is real, and is apt to dismiss the discriminative use of the mind prematurely. But what is the world, for instance? Vedanta and Buddhism says that it is, and can only be known as, an idea, or a series of sensations and perceptions arising within consciousness or Mind. Thus, the body also is an idea, and the ego is an idea, or series of relatively fixed but changing ideas. [Sorry to say, but this concept is also paradoxical and not complete, because as the Sants point out, the soul and mind are also diffused within the body, for when the conscious principle leaves the physical forms it dies and disintegrates. Thus, the body is in the soul and the soul is in the body. Generally, to know the former the later must first be realized]. When the 'mentalistic' knowledge of the body and world has been made one's own, then one is said to be fit to inquire into the soul or Atman, and then Brahman, the All. Otherwise, upon returning from ones inner meditation, the lesser mystic is confronted by a world he does not understand, and he feels a need to return to his samadhi to maintain his peace. That is what is encouraged in most mystical schools in general, where it is assumed that meditation alone is the only means necessary to realize truth. That has always been strongly denied in Advaita and some schools of Buddhism, however, and other branches of philosophy, with strong warnings not to be misled by the ecstasy and even absorptive oneness of trance states but to go beyond them. Jagat Singh, as mentioned, said “90% of spiritual life is clear thinking.” I have wondered precisely what he meant by that. Could it be remotely similar to the following remark by Ramana Maharshi, who said, "Deliverance is just the clarification of the mind, the understanding: 'I am ever in my own real nature; all other experiences are illusory.' It is not something that has newly come about." (David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part Three, p. 193) Sant Mat generally, however, teaches that vivek or discrimination will take place automatically by the progressive absorption that occurs from plane to plane on the way to the final goal of Anami. In my understanding, Paul Brunton and other sages might be in disagreement on that point, even though PB did say that he got the mentalistic understanding of the world after it was first made vivid by the mystical experience.

   Some of the difficulty between reconciling practice of "Long Paths" such as the progressive stages of mysticism with "Short Paths" such as Advaita or Zen, lies in: one, the fact that some form of "long" path of moral and concentrative development is a requirement for successful pursuit of a "short" path of inquiry and insight, and, two, the form of the master or teacher one requires on either path. Brunton writes:

   "The Short Path [which it must be warned nevertheless requires its own forms of discipline and preparation] can succeed only if certain essential conditions are available. First a teaching master must be found. It will not be enough to find an illumined man. We will find peace and uplift in his presence, but these will fade away after leaving his presence. Such a man will be a phenomenon to admire and an inspiration to remember, not a guide to instruct, to warn, and to lead from step to step. Second, we must be able to live continuously [or for a sufficient period] with the teaching master until we have finished the course and reached the goal." (8)

   A great deal of misunderstanding among mystic paths also arises over their definition or use of the term "mind". First off, it is to be understood in Buddhism, especially Zen or Ch’an, ‘Mind’, especially when capitalized, means Consciousness, not manas. And manas and everything else reduces to Consciousness. This holds in advaita, too. It is common in yoga paths, however, to refer to mind as "the slayer of the real", and as something that must be destroyed or eliminated. Yet this is sometimes denied on paths of jnana or advaita vedanta, where the intellectual sheath itself is a primary means of realization of the Atman in the waking state. "It [the Self] is always shining in the intellectual sheath." In yoga, however, the goal is often conceived as kaivalya, or separation of consciousness from all limiting adjuncts, but in advaita it is not. The One is to be realized, and that necessitates self-cognition, not destruction of the mind. There is both Being and Knowing. Franklin Merrell-Wolff writes:

   "It is often stated in mystical literature that the activity of the mind is in a peculiar sense a barrier to the Realization of the Higher Consciousness…”

   “In general, the mystical and occult use of the word "mind" does not carry the same connation that western philosophy or the most authoritative usage gives the term. If for "mind" we substitute the word "manas," at once the mystic's statement becomes more correct. "Manas" is commonly translated as "mind" since there is no other single English word that approximates its meaning. The word "mind" today comprehends much more than the Indian philosophers and mystics mean when they say "manas." Unless this distinction is born in mind, confusion is almost inevitable. For my own part, this confusion caused me some years of needless misunderstanding. What I read violated what I felt intuitively and subsequently demonstrated to be the case. It was not the competent mystics and philosophers who were in error, but the translators and the western students of mysticism and occultism.”

   “I have entered into this point at some length, partly for the reason that in my earlier studies the mis-translation of "lower manas" seemed to require of me a crushing of faculties of the soul that are vitally important for even the Realization itself, for I was quite familiar with what the word "mind" meant in western usage. Others may be facing the same difficulty. Literally, to crush or suppress "mind," giving to that word the meaning it has in western thought, is to crush or suppress the soul. No true mystic means that, whatever he may seem to say as a result of not being familiar with the English term.”

   “Actually, with the mass of men, cognition is bound to egoism, but a divorce of these two is possible. Cognitive activity of a higher type is most emphatically not a barrier to Recognition, and if my experience is any criterion, may well prove to be one of the most powerful subsidiary aids for those who can make use of it. In any case, I must conclude that if by "mind," cognitive activity is meant, then it is not true that the mind must be stilled in order to attain Recognition. But it is true that the cognitive action must be within a matrix of a high order of dispassion.”

   “The higher affections, such as love, compassion and faith are also most emphatically an aid. But upon this point I do not need to dwell, for here agreement among the mystics seems to be practically universal. Further, this phase of the subject has been much clearly presented and better understood. This is the Road through Bliss, the Way most widely appreciated and most commonly followed by Those who have attained God-Realization.”

   “By means of pure cognition, it is possible to enter through Intelligence (Chit). Or, again, one may Enter through various combinations of the higher affections and pure cognition. Such a course is naturally the most perfect. The individual may be more developed on the one side or the other at the time of the Entering. But once he is grounded in Higher Consciousness, there is a tendency for the nature to unfold toward balance, so that finally a Man is symbolized by the "Great Bird" which has two wings equally developed. And these two are Compassion and Intelligence."

   James Schwarz (Ram) argues that one must think or use discernment before during, and after enlightenment:

   "There is a strange notion that when one permanently experiences the Self the intellect is switched off for good and you just remain forever as the Self in some kind of no thought state. The fact is that the intellect keeps right on thinking from womb to tomb. God gave it to us for a good reason. Clear logical practical thinking is absolutely necessary if you are going to crack the identity code. It is called inquiry. You want to think before realization, during realization and after realization. Realization is nothing more than a hard and fast conclusion that you come to about your identity based on direct experience of the Self. Only understanding will solve the riddle....No experience will eradicate vasanas born in ignorance and reinforced with many years of negative behavior.”

   Question: Is self-realization a discrete occurrence in time...or is the removal of self ignorance a gradual process over time?

   Ram: It can be either or both. Usually one realizes who one is, falls again under the sway of ignorance, applies the knowledge again, realizes again and so on. It goes on over and over until one day there is absolutely no doubt and the process of enlightenment/ endarkenment stops for sure. Ignorance is persistent and aggressive and one needs to practice the knowledge until the last vestige is rooted out. I have a friend, a self realized person, who said, “I realized the Self five hundred times before my seeking stopped” to illustrate that point.”

   Obviously, during a process of dhyan type of meditation one tries to stop thinking. That is where the mystic schools derive the admonition for one to still the mind. This generally refers to manas, the discursive mind and intellect. However, outside of such a particular exercise philosophic schools argue that one needs the complementary practice of contemplation on the nature of the Self and reality for realization to occur. This requires a faculty of cognition. I personally know of one disciple, Judith Lamb-Lion, who had gone to Sach Khand at her initiation, but still asked, "who am I?", to which Sant Kirpal replied, "Who is asking?" This was akin to Ramana's inquiry, but for the ripe soul only. And his response to the question, "do you still meditate?", being "once you get your PhD, do you have to go back and learn the ABC's?", suggested that he, the Master, enjoyed going inside for refreshment, but it was not necessary anymore for his realization. He admitted as such, that "I, too, like to go inside and enjoy." Maharaj Charan Singh confirms, much like the earlier reference to Sawan Singh' going to Sach Khand in the blink of an eye', that for a realized saint, it is not necessary for him to pass through the inner stages to be one with the Lord - and what is this but a confirmation of the actualization of non-duality through this emanationist path?

   "[The saints] have short cut in the sense that they have immediate access to the Father. After having reached sainthood they do not have to pass through all those stages on their way to the Father. Christ also indicated that he could leave the body when he wanted to and he could take it up again when he wanted to, so he was always with the Father and he and the Father were one.. ["Does this mean that he sees him through the physical eyes or does he mean that he sees him at the eye center?'] This is spiritual seeing. He is one with the Father. He is at his level. When he sees him within, he sees him everywhere in every part of creation. The Father is not a man. He is a power, a state of consciousness. So Christ says he is always at that level, at that state of consciousness where the father is. Therefore he sees him everywhere and in every part of creation, within him and outside of himself. Not with his physical eyes. That is a different eye. This involves a different understanding of the whole situation." (11)

   Kirpal Singh (credited to Sawan Singh) in The Philosophy of the Masters, wrote:

   “Love is the most powerful and effective of all practices to meet the Lord. It is the only method by which one can attain communion with Him in an instant. Shamas Tabriz says:

   “If the road is lengthy, you should fly on the wings of love. When you unfold the wings of love, you need not ascend by means of the steps.”

   “A person who is intoxicated with the wine of love will reach the goal by means of a single sigh, as compared to thousands of years spent in other methods.”

   “True union and one-pointed attention comes only with love. The spiritual progress achieved by means of meditation over a number of years can be had in a moment through love, because the union of inner sight takes the lover immediately to the goal. This is the real love and this is the true yoga. In fact, this is the be-all and end-all.”

   PB writes:

   “Sahaja Samadhi is not broken into intervals, is permanent, and involves no special effort. Its arisal is instantaneous and without progressive stages. It can accompany daily activity without interfering with it. It is a settled calm and complete inner quiet....There are not distinguishing marks that an outside observer can use to identify a Sahaja-conscious man because Sahaja represents consciousness itself rather than its transitory states....Those at the state of achieved Sahaja are under no compulsion to continue to meditate any more or to practise yoga. They often do--either because of inclinations produced by past habits or as a means of helping other persons. In either case it is experienced as a pleasure. Because this consciousness is permanent, the experiencer does not need to go into meditation. This is despite the outward appearance of a person who places himself in the posture of meditation in order to achieve something....When you are engaged in outward activity it is not the same as when you are in a trance. This is true for both the beginner and the adept. The adept, however, does not lose the Sahaja awareness which he has achieved and can withdraw into the depths of consciousness which the ordinary cannot do.'' (25.2.138 & Persp. p.350)...It would be a poor thing for the sage if he had to sit down and squat in meditation in order to lift himself into peace. This is why he may or may not make a practice of meditation. For whether he meditates or not he always enjoys his inner peace.'' (12)

   The sage Atmananda Krishnamenon was sometimes uncompromising: he referred to the desire for samadhi, or the feeling that one needed to enter samadhi for realization, as a “vicious yogic samskara.” He said:

   "The samadhi experience is that ‘I was happy.’ But when you understand, from a Karana-guru, that Happiness is your real nature, you come to realize that you are yourself the goal of samadhi. With this understanding, all hankering after samadhi disappears; though samadhi might still come upon you sometimes merely as a matter of course or samskara. But you will never again be attracted by the enjoyment of happiness in samadhi." (Notes on Spiritual Discourses)

   PB gives a hint of the stage of sacrifice of the sage:

   “The escape into Nirvana for him is only the escape into the inner realization of the truth whilst alive: it is not to escape from the external cycle of rebirths and deaths. It is a change of attitude. But that bait had to be held out to him at an earlier stage until his will and nerve were strong enough to endure this relevation. There is no escape except inwards. For the sage is too compassionate to withdraw into proud indifferentism and too understanding to rest completely satisfied with his own wonderful attainment. The sounds of sufferings of men, the ignorance that is the root of these sufferings, beat ceaselessly on the tympana of his ears. What can he do but answer, and answer with his very life, which he gives in perpetual reincarnation upon the cross of flesh, as a vicarious sacrifice for others. It is thus alone that he achieves immortality, not by fleeing forever--as he could if he willed--into the Great Unconsciousness, but by suffering forever the pains and pangs of perpetual rebirth that he may help or guide his own.'' (13)

   Kirpal Singh, again, when asked if he meditated anymore, once answred, "If a man has his PhD, does he have to go back and learn the ABC's?" This terse remark, in my opinion, points towards the realization of sahaj samadhi, wherein the adept can meditate if he wants to, for refreshment, to perform special service, or sheerly out of prior habit - but not for the sake of realization itself. Brunton explains:

   "Those at the stage of achieved sahaja are under no compulsion to continue to meditate anymore or to practice yoga. They often do - either because of inclinations produced by past habits or as a means of helping other persons. In either case it is experienced as a pleasure. Because this consciousness is permanent, the experiencer does not need to go into meditation. This is despite the outward appearance of a person who places himself in the posture of meditation in order to achieve something. When you are engaged in outward activity it is not the same as when you are in a trance. This is true for both the beginner and the adept. The adept, however, does not lose the sahaja consciousness which he has achieved and can withdraw into the depths of consciousness which the ordinary man can't do."

   22. Instruction in a meditative technique is one thing. The gift of a brief experience of subtle light and sound is another. Establishment of the soul of a disciple in a position to fruitfully engage such subtle meditation via the master's siddhi or power is yet another, and even greater gift. As far as the matter of realization goes, however, Asvaghosa clearly states in his Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion:

   “The more you wish to attain Enlightenment, the clearer you see the need for your Guru to be a Buddha.” (14)

   If it is ones own divine Soul which paradoxically and mysteriously gives him the inner image of his Master as well as grace (even if mediated through a Master), and at the ultimate level the true Master is one with ones own Soul and the Absolute Soul (both transcendental and of the nature of voidness - and thus far beyond what is commonly understood as soul in occult or mystic circles), then certainly contemplation of a form which comes of itself in meditation, that is, not through the discursive imagination, is an authentic practise and imbedded in the divine structure of the worlds, and has been pronounced as such. Even Ramana Maharshi did not disparage it. The lotus feet of the guru, or the “dust of the guru’s feet”, the radiant gurudev, appearing in the disciple’s heart is supposed to be a great vision, boon, and aid, during life and at the time of death and beyond. It is a cornerstone of Sant Mat. Even Kabir, in his devotional ecstasy, procaimed, “now I see nothing but the radiant form of the master!”

   An additional question, briefly mentioned before, however, is that the Sant Mat lineages divide on whether one should continue contemplating only on one’s initiating guru after that guru’s death, and/or whether it is necessary to take his successor as ones guru. This controversy began after the death of Shiv Dayal Singh. All recommend seeking the company of a true successor, but differ on what to do with ones contemplative practice. Sant Darshan Singh also said that matters pertaining to the disciple's pralabd karma (current destiny) could only be handled by the successor, because that would required a physical body. Many initiates of Rajinder Singh have seen the forms of the preceeding three masters before him coming to them unbidden during their meditations.

   This is an extremely important point that raises a number of issues. First of all, in Sant Mat, at least in the lineage after Sawan Singh and Kirpal Singh, the dispensation has been offered or promised that once a disciple is initiated it will take a maximum of four lives for him to reach Sach Khand or be so liberated. The Master is said to take it upon himself to erase the pool of sanchit karmas from time immemorial that the disciple would otherwise have to bear. This is significant, for, as taught in, for instance, Dzogchen Buddhism, it is these very tendencies, karmas, or habits of uncountable lifetimes that prevent our abiding in the Ground Luminosity of Clear Light which dawns after death, if ever so briefly for the average person. A question arises, however: if responsibility for exhausting the sanchit storehouse of karmas is taken over by the Master at the time of initiation, what would prevent an initiate from only needing one lifetime to realize the truth? The answer must be, only his creating more destiny or kriyaman karma by not living up to the teachings in this life. Even so, Sant Mat says that the decision of a further birth into this earth realm lies in the hands of the Guru. anadi says that it also depends upon if the soul has reached completion of its inborn destiny during this life whether or not he need return. Kirpal said that if one has no remaining desires towards this life one needn’t return, depending on the grace of the Master.

   The spiritual Master is said to take charge of the sanchit or storehouse karmas of the disciple from yama or the lord or karma or death, thus guiding the disciple's future development, and also to be able to assume, as appropriate and in accordance with divine laws, some of their pralabd or fate karmas on his own body. A body, as stated, is essential for this particular task. The latter assertion is not a unique article of faith in Sant Mat. (See article, "Karma and Grace" on this website).The following beautiful account of the death of the Gyalwang Karmapa illustrates this phenomenon:

   "By the time that I saw him, His Holiness had already had many operations, some parts of his body removed, things put inside him, his blood transfused, and so on. Every day the doctors discovered the symptoms of some new disease, only to find them gone the next day and replaced by another illness, as if all the diseases in the world were finding room in his flesh. For two months he had taken no solid food, and finally his doctors thought the life-supporting systems should be disconnected. But the Karmapa said, "No, I'm going to live. Leave them in place." And he did live, astonishing the doctors, and remaining seemingly at ease in his situation - humorous, playful, smiling, as if he were rejoicing at everything his body suffered. Then I thought, with the clearest possible conviction, that the Karmapa had submitted himself to the cutting, to the manifestation of all those diseases in his body, to the lack of food, in a quite intentional and voluntary way: He was deliberately suffering all of these diseases to help minimize the coming pains of war, disease, and famine, and in this way he was deliberately working to avert the terrible suffering of this dark age." (15)

23. Kabir’s Anurag Sagar claims that Kal the negative power always produces imposter masters to fool the “unelect”, and that part of the search is for the seeker to find the gem among the dirt. Kirpal Singh said there is always at least one true master alive on earth, and clearly said that there may be more than one. Sant Darshan Singh said on at least one occasion that there was only one. Shoonyo, successor to Dr. I.C. Sharma, said that there could conceivably be many.The founder of the modern Sant Mat or Radhasoami lineages, Shiv Dayal Singh, implied there could be more than one, with both Rai Salig Ram and Jaimal Singh becoming gurus after him. Sant Mat often mentions that contemporaries Kabir and Nanak were both perfect masters.

24. Returning to the main discussion - which is one of mysticism and emanationism (including kundalini, Kriya, Sant Mat) versus non-duality, jnana, Ch'an, or Zen, etc. - once out of the body (and from an absolute point of view, even while in the body), don't ideas of high or low, inside and out, essentially lose their ultimate meaning, as they are only concepts or ideas in the mind? We have already discussed this in part, saying that the subtler bodies being still within subtle space and time (Kal) have their relative dimensions, although ultimately there is no such thing. Sant Rajinder Singh succinctly explains that this is indeed the case even on that path:

 Q: Where are the inner realms?

Master: “When we withdraw our attention to the single eye, we become absorbed in the inner Light and Sound. Then, after we meet the radiant form of the Master and rise above body-consciousness, we find inner realms. These inner dimensions or realms exist concurrently with our physical universe. For lack of better terminology we speak of inner and outer, or higher and lower regions. These realms are not exactly descriptive because we are talking about states of consciousness. They do not exist in time and space., but we have the illusion that our physical world is in time and space. The physical region with the earth, sun, planets, and galaxies  exists simultaneously with spiritual regions. We measure time and space in this physical universe because that is the only frame of reference that we know. But all these regions, from the physical to the spiritual, exist as states of consciousness. When we talk about traveling to inner or higher regions, we are not actually traveling anywhere or going up or in. We are actually refocusing our attention to a different state of consciousness or awareness.”(16)

   From the point of view of Advaita, as mentioned, even the body is essentially nothing more than an idea or collection of sensations, perceptions, and beliefs in consciousness. Therefore, from the point of view of truth, does it matter, as some of the Tibetans maintain, how one ‘leaves’ the body? What if an initiate is murdered or killed in a horrible accident and is suddenly jerked out of the body, as has happened? I have already spoken of one such case. We are told that no matter how we die we will be instantly with the Master within. "The Master always resides in the disciple's innermost heart center," said Kirpal Singh.

   Saints and yogis have said that one can leave the body through different centers: the navel, the heart, or the head, etc. They generally feel that a conscious exit via the head is most fruitful, and some have said that if one exits the body or dies via the anahata chakra, for instance, one may be lost until the next life in lower reflections of the true higher planes. In Sant Mat, barring the case of terrible accidents, all initiates when exiting the body, generally through the crown of the head, are directly in the presence of their Masters within.

   Sants argue for the superiority of the head or third eye (sixth chakra or divya chaksu') over the heart as the main portal to the beyond, but generally do not address the the spiritual heart spoken of by sages such as Maharshi, which is not a chakra. They simply say that the heart-lotus of the saints is between the eyebrows. That is their portal into the Beyond. Whereas sages such as Ramana say the entire inner journey through the subtle, psychic realms via the divya chaksu may be avoided by absorption of attention or mind via the jnana chaksu in the heart, the subjective source of the separate self or ego. Traditionally, such as in the Upanishads, the heart is considered to be the seat of the soul in the body. Presumably this may account for the apparent exception-to-the-rule in the case of Lakhshmi the cow, whom Ramana said attained mukti upon her death. If the soul is in the heart, the lack of a man-body or human form, chakra system, and lack of a third eye as located in the sixth chakra, may not be an absolute impediment to liberation. An objection might be raised that in the case of Ramana, who by his own admission had little experience of the overhead planes, cannot speak for the realizations of the Sants. That seems reasonably true. Comparisons between the two positions are difficult. Sri Aurobindo made a similar comment about Maharshi when a disciple asked him questions concerning differences between their philosophies. Maharshi in turn criticized Aurobindo's experiences of the Supermind, Overmind, etc., in effect saying they were all within the Self only.... When such sages disagree, we should feel little doubt over seeking answers to our own questions.

   Sant Mat sometimes describes Sach Khand as the realm of atman, in the same terms of “the light of a million suns” that Maharshi mentioned as the experience of atman reflected through mahatattva (cosmic consciousness); even more, according to Sar Bachan at least, there are scenes and sounds there, with gushing fountains of light. But could this be atman? Atman is usually described as the light which makes seeing anything possible. The disciple of Sant Mat, true, eventually attains to a realm of no sound and no light (Anami), which it calls Absolute God, could this then be atman? Sages like Paul Brunton, Ramana, Nisargadatta would probably disagree with the idea that even that is the end of the path. Sahaja samadhi, they might say - which may or may not be the “radhasoami state” - still awaits the mature soul. It should be noted that Hazur Baba Sawan Singh was attracted to advaita, but after study of Kabir's Anurag Sagar decided the path of shabd was higher. In Sant Mat, the state of sahaj is supposed to happen more or less automatically, through the infused power of the shabda-brahman. But that may or may not be true in any particular case.

   "Seeing" in Sach Khand

   Ishwar Puri seems to feel that in Sach Khand one has reached "Sar" Shabd, which, being beyond the mind, is also beyond time and space and unmanifest, and therefore beyond light and sound; rather, it is the essence of light and sound. Any references in Sar Bachan to "turrets," "Islands," "lights," and "millions of suns" would be purely allegorical. He states:

   "THE REAL SHABD IS NOT A SOUND BUT YOUR SELF. When you go beyond the causal to our spiritual region there is no sound as such because there is no space-time at all. It's a totally different indescribable state. So the sound becomes Sar Shabd, which means  the Real Shabd, which means your Self. There you discover the Sound was your Self, not emanating from the Self. You find it WAS the Self. Great experience. That comes only with the help of the love of a Perfect Living Master” (The Ultimate Secret, Ishwar Puri, Sep 2017, Rice Lake, WI, Part 3 of 5)

   So it is kind of confusing. Sach Khand could either be formless (but manifest) infinite light - the 'full effulgence of the Nameless One' (literally “fountains of gushing light” as Sant Kirpal Singh once described), or it may be such visible light only metaphorically, as variously described according to some of these teachers. Is it the subjective Self, source of the ‘I’-thought, all vision, and root of the mind, as Ramana Maharshi taught? Or is that only realized in Anami? I don’t know the answer. But one thing we may say with some certainty, is that Sach Khand is a wholly positive experience, and not a mere void. It is reality in its primal mode, and therefore could be equally described as pure subjectivity as well as the most truly objective of all objective knowledge and experience. It is beyond the triad of knower, knowing, and known, but a state in which consciousness manifests, sees and knows its own projections within and as itself. Seems to me - something like that. “Seeing” is therefore not an inappropriate word to use, so long as one understands its uniqueness. The Buddhist sage Nagasena testified:

   “O king, Nirvana exists...And it is perceptible to the mind...that disciple who has fully attained can see Nirvana.” (cited in: Brunton, Notebooks, Vol. 13, Part 1, 5.2)

   In any case Sach Khand is a wholly positive and awakened experience, not a negative void or a nothing as the mind might conceive it. It cannot be imagined. Puri elsewhere states:

   "The stage at which the Ego merges with it's Totality is in the second region of the Universal Mind [Trikuti, lower Brahmand]. There one is alone and "indifferent"! Most Yogis Yogeshwars and other practitioners of various types of Meditation have thought that to be the Highest level of Consciousness! Only Perfect Living Masters have taken us beyond that stage to pure Spiritual realms where the Bliss and Happiness is incredible!" (source misplaced)

   The former might be said to be similar to "the ‘night’ of indifference before the positive event of satori" spoken of in Zen.

   25. Ramana, it must be noted, was of the view that all types of experience are unnecessary - even while many of his disciples had all sorts of classic yogic and mystical experiences in his company. He also made gentle fun of those of his disciples who wanted to see “the light of a million suns.” Brunton called that "the penultimate experience." A rare yogic text called it , great as it was, "maya". Interesting, isn't it, that Maharshi made fun of what most Sant Mat disciples would die for, and what, in fact, sound alot like descriptions of Sach Khand! Ramana also said that one could not really say it was not light, however, that the metaphor was appropriate, but it was the invisible light of understanding.

   The highest mystical experience is generally considered in the standard yogic literature to be nirvikalpa samadhi (samadhi without form, the source of subjectivity), with anything perceptible still in the realm of the psychic or subtle. Thus Sach Khand would not be “spiritual” in this traditional understanding. It is described in Sant Mat as the "full effulgence of the light of the Creator." Yet it is not Atman as traditionally defined, which is without attributes. Kirpal Singh once did mention, however, that the description of Sach Khand as being that of millions of suns, etc., was in fact an allegorical description, but the question remaind, is it realization of Atman, and, if not, what is it?

   According to Sant Rajinder Singh, the Theosophical schema, in a addition to various subplanes in the astral world, outlines seven subplanes in devachan, the lower four constituting the mental plane, and the higher three the causal plane. In Sant Mat, the soul is free of birth and death when it reaches the super-causal plane, where only a thin layer of the anandamaya kosha is said to cover the soul. After that is Sach Khand, or Sat Lok. As mentioned, Dr. I.C. Sharma called Sach Khand “the office of the Master”, and Param Sants are said to go higher, to Alak, Agam, and Anami. There is no doubt that these planes are intoxicating compared to ordinary life in this sublunar earthly sphere. However, while Sach Khand may possibly be beyond a so-called cosmic dissolution and grand dissolution of the lower created worlds, as these masters teach, it, once again, seems at least paradoxical to call it spiritual, in a philosophical sense, inasmuch as there is said to be light and sound and visible beings there, living on their “dweeps” (islands) and enjoying nectar, as the Sar Bachan of Soamiji says. We cannot ignore what Anthony Damiani emphasized, that “no amount of superlatives” will take away from [the] fact that if there is a perceiver and a perceived there, it is not the Reality." No matter how intense and high the bliss and ecstasy, these must be gone beyond before the Soul as consciousness in itself is realized. This at first glance seems not to be the case in Sach Khand, but perhaps not. If one considers Sach Khand to be a profound re-birth into non-dual realization, where one is 'beyond' the so-called three bodies, mind and maya, and if this 'perception' of infinite light is similar to what is described in Buddhism, i.e., a pure spontaneous 'Sambhogakaya manifestation of the Dharmakaya', with non-separate souls dwelling in unity, then the word spiritual would apply. The words "spiritual planes" is then valuable within the sense it is used in Sant Mat. In Buddhism there is, in fact, mention of glorious Dharmakaya realms, where only buddhas and bodhisattvas of the highest realization may dwell.

   Yet, once again, the highest mystical experience is supposedly beyond all objectivity, as the realization of ultimate subjectivity, and can then, it seems, only be found in the Sant Mat experience in the Anami state or region - if that is understood and experienced as beyond subject/object distinctions as nameless and formless would seem to imply. Some in Sant Mat, in fact, feel that not only is the Radhasoami state higher than Anami, but that it itself is just the beginning. Anami and even Radhasoami are described, however, in terms such as "the wonder region," into which, according to Baba Jaimal Singh, Sawan Singh's Guru, the gurumukh disciple will "get merged", which, however, is supposedly beyond subject and object. This is a contradiciton only if we are talking about a separate ego that merges into God. But we must remember that here we are talking of a process of the Soul, which is eternally in unity with the divine One, the I AM, and not that of an 'ego-soul wanting to 'save' itself. There is also a death as the emanant of the Soul quits each inner plane. Even the mind is transformed until it merges in the universal mind in Trikuti. This is a radical insight and requiring a radical shift in one’s view of the world and sense of identity. Ramana called an approach of assuming the reality of an ego-soul that gets purified to finally enjoy or even get merged with an Oversoul or Paramatma a "deceitful stratagem," but he was not talking about the true soul. Here is what he said:

   "...devotion is nothing more than knowing oneself. The doctrine of Qualified Monism [i.e., Ramanuja] also admits it...Their traditional doctrine says..that the individual soul should be made pure and then surrendered to the Supreme; then the ego is lost and one goes to the regions of Vishnu after one's death; then, finally, there is the enjoyment of the Supreme (or the Infinite)! To say that one is apart from the primal Source is itself a pretension; to add that one divested of the ego becomes pure and yet retains individuality only to enjoy or serve the Supreme, is a deceitful stratagem. What duplicity is this - first to appropriate what is really His, and then pretend to experience or serve Him! is not all this already known to Him?"......"all lokas, even Brahma loka, do not release one from rebirth. The Bhagavad Gita says: 'Reaching Me, there is no rebirth...All others are in bondage'...so long as you think that there is gati (movement) - as implied in the word gatva (having gone to) - there is punaravritti (return), also. Again, gati implies your Purvagamanam (birth) What is birth? It is birth of the ego. Once born you reach something; if you reach it, you return, also. Therefore, leave off all this verbiage! Be as you are. See who you are and remain as the Self, free from birth, going, coming, and returning"....."People would not understand the simple and bare truth - the truth of their everyday, ever-present and eternal experience. That Truth is that of the Self. Is there anyone not aware of the Self? They would not even like to hear it (the Self), whereas they are eager to know what lies beyond - heaven, hell, reincarnation. because they love mystery and not the bare truth, religions pamper them - only to bring them around to the self. Wandering hither and thither, you must return to the Self only. Then, why not abide in the Self right here and now?" (17)

   Adyashanti argues similarly to Ramana:

   "The taste of no separate self is totally liberating. "No separate self" does not mean there is a spiritual experience that goes something like, "I have extended myself infinitely everywhere, and have merged with everything." That's a beautiful, wonderful experience for a separate self to have, but that's not what Oneness is. Oneness is not merging. Merging happens between two and since there is only one, then any experience of merging is one illusion merging with another, as beautiful and wonderful as that experience may be. Even when I experience having merged with the absolute, with the infinite, with God, it simply means that my fictitious self has merged with another fiction. Mystical experiences aren't enlightenment." (18)

   "The merging experience is very pleasant and very beautiful, and you may or may not ever have it. If you have a particular type of body-mind, you might experience having it every five minutes. If you are another type of body-mind, you might have it every five lifetimes. It means nothing whether or not this happens or how often.”

   “I have met many people who can merge at the drop of a hat, and they are about as free as a dog chasing its tail in a cage. Merging has nothing to do with being free or actually having any idea what Oneness really is.”

   “Oneness simply means that everything is the One. Everything is That, and everything always was That. When there is a very deep knowing that everything is One, then the movement of the me trying to find a past experience ceases. Movement is cut off. Seeking is cut off. The seeker is cut off. Realization cuts everything off all at once.”

   “Every experience that you will ever have is the One, whether that experience is merging or having to go to the bathroom. Even when it's beating a stick on the floor and saying, "This is it. This is the Buddha. This is enlightened mind. It doesn't get more enlightened than this!" It is all God.”
(From Consciousness -- Everything is That, by Adyashanti)

   Sant Darshan Singh, by contrast, described his ultimate experiences in the following manner:

   "He has taken me above body consciousness...to the higher planes, leaving the stars, the moon and the sun behind, making me one with him in his radiant effulgent form. He has taken me into moments of eternity; beyond the limitations of time and space, and then, giving me a glance of love, a boost...he has taken me...into the highest realms of spirituality. On the way he has introduced me to the various Masters who have blessed this earth since time immemorial, and arranged for our conversation. We have conversed in a language which has no tongue...no words...no alphabet...in a language which is eternal. We have conversed in the language which was in the beginning..which was made Word, in the language which [divine] lovers even now speak. This is the language which will continue to the end of all time...And after taking me to our Eternal Home, Sach Khand, he has taken me to higher realms known as Agam and Agochar, those regions which are fathomless...beyond human imagination. And after that we reached Anami, the ultimate vast region which has no shores...no limitation...no name..." (19)

   "We cannot possibly reach our goal of union with God without the help and constant guidance of an Adept. The distractions and pitfalls that line the way are unsurmountable, and one would be lost a thousand times even before one crossed the first inner plane. But the Guru's task does not end even after the soul has realized its own essential divinity. He takes us to the region known as Sach Khand, or the True Home. Here the soul comes face too face with its Creator and is finally in the realm of the Absolute, the Unchanging Permanence. From now on the spiritual journey is the story of progressive merger, to a state where the creature cannot be said to behold the Creator for they have at last become one. Such indeed is the inner journey which the spiritual Adept makes possible and which he enables us to traverse successfully." (20)

   And from Sant Kirpal Singh:

   "The soul has been imprisoned for ages and it is only through the kindness of the Master that it can be released. There is no other way." (21)

   On the other hand, Sant Darshan said:

   "Properly understood, our surrender to and ultimate merger in God is not a denial, rejection, or annihilation of the individual self. Rather, it is an affirmation that the macrocosm is in the microcosm, and that however limited we may believe ourselves to be, we are, in reality, infinite and eternal." (21a)

   So perhaps this metaphysical divide is not insurmountable. Perhaps Anami is the same as the Self of Ramana, or the Absolute of Nisargadatta. Anadi said that when Ramana realized the Self he actually realized the Soul. For him the Soul and Self are two sides of the same coin, the Self being the ground in which the Soul exists. Or perhaps the Sach Khand realization is the same as the I AM spoken of by such sages. Perhaps Maha Sunn is the macrocosmic equivalent of the 'black hole' of causal unknowing/darkness prior to the super-causal clarity of the "I am Truth' identity before the I AM or Sat is realized. These are possibilities. As for the amrita nadi associated with the causal heart on the right, perhaps it is not necessary for all to experience it. Perhaps the 'heart-lotus of the Sants', the agya chakra or eye center, can, with their grace, lead to the same realization in a different way. [For more on this, the reader may see "Kundalini: Up, Down, or ?" on this website]. For now, this excerpt from the book, Ramana Periya Puranam, should help allay any worry one might have over whether he is lacking in the correct and necessary experiences on the path:

   "1942, a Tamil scholar had a lengthy and detailed discussion with Bhagavan on the amrita nadi, believed to be the nerve associated with Self realization. Bhagavan showed interest in the discussion and answered all the pundit?s questions, giving a detailed description of the functions of the amrita nadi. Nagamma felt out of place as she did not know anything of the subject matter. After the pundit left, she approached Bhagavan and began to ask him about what was discussed. Before she could complete her sentence, Bhagavan asked, “Why do you worry about all this?” Nagamma replied, “Bhagavan, you have been discussing this for four days; so I thought I should also learn something about it from you.” Bhagavan answered, “The pundit was asking me what is written in the scriptures and I was giving him suitable replies. Why do you bother about all that? It is enough if you look into yourself as to who you are.” Saying this, Bhagavan smiled compassionately at her. After another two days or so, there was once again another dialogue on the same subject. This time Bhagavan said that it was only a notion, a mere concept. Nagamma intervened to ask whether all matters relating to the amrita nadi were also only concepts. Bhagavan replied emphatically, “Yes, what else is it? Is it not a mere notion? If the body itself is a notion, will that not be a notion as well?” Bhagavan then looked at Nagamma with great kindness. That very moment, all her doubts were laid to rest. In narrating this incident, Nagamma wanted to make known how important it is to go back to the source when spiritual doubts arise."

   anadi offers what may seem to be a solution that will satisfy the bhaktis and the gyanis, or advocates of both the 'Soul' and the 'Self'. He states:

   "In transcendence the soul merges with the universal self - individuality dissolves into the ocean of universal being. To realize the state of oneness is to transcend self while remaining an indivisible part of that realization. Though dissolved, the soul continues to exist, but now in a new, transcendental way; the beloved allows her to return to a state of conscious unity with the undivided whole so that she may continue her everlasting evolution as an angle of perception within that unity. Oneness is not an inert entity, but the eternally recurring reunion of the soul and her creator within the space of totality, an everlasting journey of love and individual expansion into the divine reality.... the soul in transcendence no longer owns her own her individuality - it is owned by her creator....the soul no longer knows herself by her presence but by her absence." (22)

   The methodology given at the outset in Sant Mat appears dissociative, as if it teaches only inversion as the goal. However, this may only be temporarily so as it is also the case in other oriental paths, where reunion with the subjective essence by separating from the gross plane is the initial attainment desired. Then one is supposed to integrate what he previously detached from into a higher synthesis with the ultimate transcendental or universal I Am, the infinite Subjectivity of the One. anadi recognizes this progression:

   "The outer world is not outside the universal I Am, but contained within its boundless space of pure being. Since creation dwells within the universal subjectivity of the self, there is no way to experience oneness with the external reality unless one becomes unified with the inner realm and the soul."

   He says that, therefore, in initially creating and stabilizing a state of presence or conscious awareness, or depth of being, one may feel more dissociated than when he started. Thus he teaches in somewhat of a traditional manner. There are other paths that do not each this way, claiming to be able to realize the ultimate reality without such a depth of meditation. anadi and Sant Mat, and generally PB, do not feel this is possible. In any case, the 'natural state' is boundless, with no 'in' or 'out':

   "Because the natural state is not external to the one who knows it, there is no movement of energy and no direction of absorption. Natural absorption is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is not within or without, up or down, here or there. In natural absorption, no one is absorbed into nowhere. the natural state just is. This stateless state is neither the soul nor the beyond, but their undifferentiated unity." (23)

   Some teachers of Sant Mat say that this discrimination comes automatically as one progresses on the path. Yet this does not appear to be universally the case. If we keep in mind, however, as Paramhansa Yogananda pointed out, that 'within' the Holy Sound, so to speak, lies the 'Christ Consciousness', or the consciousness of the Soul, then this may in fact be so. If we recognize this, we will not get lost in the mystical states as being objective to our essence. This is an important point, and holds the difference from 'relatively enlightened' mystical experiences and 'unenlightened' ones. anadi further says:

   "It is the evolutionary level of intelligence that inhabits the inner state that determines whether its experience is translated as personal or impersonal. A seeker in touch with the light of pure subjectivity will recognize the sense of I Am inherent in the inner state, while one unawakened to the soul will experience the state beyond the mind as an external, objectified space of abidance. Without the consciousness of I Am to illuminate it, the inner state is no more than an empty shell." (24)

   This would account for the trouble with the correspondence between the two initiates mentioned earlier over their inner experiences. Both were clearly not in touch with the I Am principle, which is consciousness of the soul and not just the inner experience.

   In other words, as Ramana pointed out, listening to the sound is good - and we add that the shabda-brahman IS a liberating presence within relativity, although perhaps not the only one - but listening is better with vichara or inquiry, as that keeps us conscious along the way. This does not mean the traditional shabd yoga practitioner must or should do mental inquiry along with his concentration practice, for that may hinder his absorption. It is only suggested that at intervals in such a process, and especially during the day, contemplation/inquiry in all its aspects is a useful accompaniment to meditation in order to both develop discrimination and the ability to stay in touch with the I Am, the true soul principle, thus avoiding the pitfalls of ordinary mysticism which objectifies its inner experiences and also finds a great divide between the world and the spirit. This is not always a problem in Sant Mat; it is, finally, a matter of the evolution of the practitioner. For in the final analysis it is not the experience one haves, but the one having the experience that is of primary importance.

   26. The branches among Sant Mat, as stated, are divided on whether Anami is the highest realm, or whether there is something beyond, called “Radhasoami”, which may or may not be a region, per se. This is where there is a lack of preciseness or limitation in our language. Some of this may be unavoidable, yet if Radhasoami is not a region, but a more universal, transcendental realization, similar to that described by sages like Ramana Maharshi or the Buddha, beyond even the formless state represented by Anami, then it should be made explicit. It may not matter much to beginners but overall it is important. And perhaps not all Sant Mat masters have attained the highest philosophic realization, but only the highest mystic one. Even in cases where they have, because so much theologic tradition has been built up around Sant Mat, it might not be possible for the gurus to teach differently, even if they have the radical insight, without undermining the faith of thousands, if not millions of disciples. And perhaps they help more people by simply teaching the way they do. Perhaps it is more practically effective to teach an initial dualistic search, with more advanced instruction demonstrating higher stages of the path being given by those of their gurus with the specific capability. But, as Kirpal Singh was fond of quoting from Socrates, “I love Truth more than Plato.” At some point, Truth is better.

   In other passages Sant Darshan speaks more radically, however, about the true condition of the soul:

   "If we think that the Master is in one physical location, that is the most erroneous way of looking at things. The Master is always with us. He is nearer to us than our throat; he is within us. He is within our eyes; he is within our forehead; he is within every pore of our body...The Master is with us all the time. We are caught in the tresses of the beloved and we cannot wiggle out of them. We cannot even move our finger we are so tied up in our Beloved's tresses. Only if we look inside ourself will we find our Beloved master with us. Our Master can even be with us physically all the twenty-four hours. He is not gone. He has not left the earthly plane. He is here - now! [words similar to those of the dying Ramana Maharshi: "where could I go? I am here."]... We should call him from the core of our heart. He has not gone anywhere. He is with us; he is within us; he is without us; he is in every pore of our body. He enlivens us in our voice; he is in our breath; he is in our looks; we only fail to perceive him...Be one with him and he will be with us all the time. There is no magic in this room. It is only the oneness of our attention." (25)

   And, interestingly, Sant Rajinder Singh recently has also appeared to modify the language of Sant Mat to move one step closer to the advaita or non-dual position, as well as that of modern science. While touring Budapest in 2007 one woman expressed that when she sat for meditation she sometimes felt afraid. The Master responded by saying that we often feel fear because of the language used such as “rising above body-consciousness.” The words, he said, do not clearly define what is happening. The spiritual regions are going on concurrently with this physical region. We are not rising “out” of the body, he explained, but are "tuning into different frequencies." This is a radical departure from the explicit message in all of Sant Mat to date, whose appeal to suffering seekers is exactly that the soul does rise out of the body, 'exactly as at the time of death', with the ability to return guaranteed because the 'silver cord' mentioned in the Bible remains intact, etc.. But if we are just tuning into different frequencies, then what if, in any moment, we choose not to tune in to them, or just to stay tuned to this one, are we not then still who we are? So the question then becomes, "what is the problem?"

   Ishwar Puri teaches that we should understand that Sant Mat uses stories that are not to be taken too literally in order to speak on things that really can't be described. Thus, he says, it is not that there is really a 'journey', or a 'one' who is making that journey, but in the beginning we cannot understand things except in a human manner, and the saints indulge our ignorance. At some point, however, we find that all of the drama of creation and the soul's experiences have taken place within Sach Khand, and when we 'reach' Sach Khand we actually find we are only awakening from a dream. In this he sounds very much like the current non-dual teachers. Brunton would say that there is an eternal Soul, which he termed the Overself, which never incarnates, but which puts forth an eminent of itself that goes through all the realms of experience, and upon enlightenment it is this eminent re-unites with its eternal parent, the Soul. This Soul, being beyond the mind, or time and space, can never actually go or journey anywhere, such things being only apparent. So one can see such language is a concession to our limited understanding or point of view.

   One can then see a difficulty faced by a traditional sort of Sant Mat teacher. If he, in this instance, is trying to tell someone that 'we' are really not a 'something' that goes anywhere, but that 'we' only deepen in the experience of more and more dimensions within our self, then the traditional teaching as given might lose its comparative uniqueness. And for some people that is very threatening. Moreover, saying that we are really not leaving the body but 'tuning into different frequencies', still leaves unanswered the more basic question, " 'who' is doing the tuning in?", as well as "what's wrong with this dimension?" Without resolving that question, say the gyanis or sages, self-understanding has not yet occurred and the potential for fear will remain, as well as the potential for misunderstanding one's experiences. If this is answered according to advaita, it will be argued that in fact there is no 'separate one', no fixed entity, to tune into anything (and also no fixed entity that is born or dies), in which case the motivation to meditate in this specific manner itself is called into question and needs further consideration: what is the goal one exactly is trying to achieve? This is now not so clear. Is this ascent a necessary and direct means to enlightenment, or, as traditions such as advaita would argue, are the practice and samadhis only preparatory, in some cases, to prepare, clarify, and sharpen the mind for direct inquiry into the Self?

   If there is no leaving, or no one who leaves, the body in meditation, then is there any one who leaves the body at the time of death - and does this also need to be understood in a radically different way? Thankfully this matter is eventually taken out of our hands. Non-dualist or not, a power takes the soul out of the body at death.The teachings of the advaitists purporting to speak from the position of absolute truth, however, even deny incarnation itself, and speak radically differently about death and the state of consciousness of an "I" after death - or in life, for that matter - some denying it any intermediate reality at all. There may be limitations in their point of view, which they will admit is not for beginners, but what they say must be considered. If the Masters say that the body is just a thought, or perception arising in consciousness, however, which even the language, "we are not really rising out of it", suggests - or at least is compatible with - then the concept of "leaving" the body would also need to be re-explained, and the books possibly re-written, a difficult and perhaps thankless task for those charged with upholding a tradition with countless followers at many levels of understanding. [This issue of leaving the body has been discussed in detail in Part One when comparing the nature of the centers or chakras in the body and brain with the planes of creation and the terms used in Sant Mat as compared with other yoga paths. And also extensively in Part Two when discussing the planes creation and what happens after death].

   Sant Mat is a bhakti path, and few are likely to be interested in questions like these. Just sit in the silence, receive the love, and don’t worry. I pray for a cool breeze from the Masters to soothe my overheated brain, and I, too, wish above all for pure love.... But such questions have been around in some form for hundreds of years and will not go away. They are not mere mental hair-splitting but inquiries that affect the very means, intention, and understanding of one's sadhana and the guru-disciple relationship. If the soul or power of the soul called the attention does not really rise up and leave the body during meditation, but only appears to, what are the meaning of heart-felt statements like the following from Sant Kirpal Singh, quite representative of Sant Mat:

   "You cannot imagine with what longing the Master Power awaits you at the eye focus ready to receive you with open arms."

   As the reader will find under Biographies: “The Death of a Dream and a Gift of Truth”, I have a personal and not merely intellectual interest and need for such answers, having been 'cast down from' the eye-focus by the Master Power many years ago for what I hope (!) was my soul's own ultimate good, but which does at times strain the faith and endurance to the limit. If I think of the fallen state of the soul, for example, I can suffer immensely. If I inquire, however, " who wants to leave the body", or " who thinks he must leave the body", or "who thinks he is a 'thing' that must leave a body?", or, "do I know this is true?" and the Soul responds with an intuitive glimpse, there is relative peace. So this entire article thus represents not just a philosophical investigation but a continuing prayer to the Masters for guidance and grace.

   I respectfully ask, therefore, what exactly was the Master pointing to here? It seems to speak directly to the heart of Sant Mat as a distinct philosophy or path.

27. "Kal" - psychological, allegorical, philosophical perspectives. Is Kal the Demiurge or not? What is he and what does he represent?

   In the article Sophia's Passion: Sant Mat and the Gnostic Myth of Creation, Neil Tessler within the framework of Sant Mat attempts to explain their teachings within classic creation stories wherein the realms of creation allotted to “Kal”, the negative power (himself an eternal emanation of the Sat Purush or creator God, actually said to be “created out of the finest hair of the Sat Purush”), are lower than the highest, uncreated Heaven of Sach Khand. While Kabir's Anurag Sagar is very interesting, beautiful and enigmatic, it is debateable whether it should necessarily be a taken as a metaphysical and literal description of conditional and absolute realities. It should be mentioned, however, that the reknown saint, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, considered Anurag Sagar as essential for understanding the difference between Sant Mat and other paths, so its reading should not be lightly dismissed. Again, see the biography of Kabir on this website for more on this.

   Tessler writes:

   “The several creation myths developed by the Masters serve to describe the relationship between the Absolute in its non-attributive formless essence, known in modern Sant Mat as Anami or Radhasoami, and its manifested attributes. As Kirpal Singh has written, "In one there is always the delusion of many, and the totality does signify the existence therein of so many parts. The ideas of a part and of the whole go cheek by jowl, and both the part as well as the whole are characterized by the similarity of the essential nature in them.”

   “The essence of a thing has its own attributive nature and the two cannot be separated from each other. Just as the essence is both one and many, so is the case with its attributive nature."
[Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life; A Study in Yoga]

   “These attributes first appear in their purest and most realized form as the primordial "creation", known in the East as Sach Khand or in Gnosticism as the Pleroma or Fullness, (terms which will both be used synonymously throughout this paper). Creation is, however, a misnomer, for Sach Khand is not created as such, but rather it is the expansion into distinct being of the eternally perfect and fully elaborated attributes of the Absolute. These cosmic attributes are known as the Sons of Sat Purush in the East and the Aeons in Gnosticism. Sat Purush or the Only-Begotten is the Aeon that is the Being, the mind, as it were, of the Absolute; pure consciousness and consciousness on all planes, thus also the bridge to creation proper. As Hans Jonas has written,

   "The Only-Begotten Mind alone, having issued from him directly, can know the Fore-Father: to all the other Aeons he remains invisible and incomprehensible. 'It was a great marvel that they were in the Father without knowing Him.' (Gospel of Truth 22.27)”

   “The number of these eternal emanations of the divine varies according to reference. The gnostic version described by Hans Jonas gives four Aeons with their consorts to make eight, "the original Ogdoad", who then further elaborate to make another seven pairs for a total of thirty. The Kabiran version gives sixteen with Sat Purush being the first emanation.
The myths now run in two distinct directions, at least in the gnostic forms. The Kabiran version and one gnostic version tells us that there was an Aeon that cherished a desire for its own creation as an inherent part of its nature. We could say that the potential for separation from God is in itself an Aeon. This leads ultimately to a creation existing in negative polarity with eternal Sach Khand, spinning the attributive universes that exist in Time. This separative Aeon, known as Mind or Time (Kal), is Sat Purusha's first expansion in the gnostic version and fifth in the Kabiran version. Kabir's Anurag Sagar states that "He is created from the most glorious part of the body of Sat Purush". Thus Sat Purush is cosmically linked to the "lower" creation, which eventually develops through Kal's activity. In this we are warned away from value judgements, and reminded that this entire process is under Divine Will (Hukam).”

   This last statement is important, because how many nevertheless do think of Kal in value judgements? But how can this be the true perspective when one has realized Oneness? Answer: It is the paradoxical nature of reality. As Rabia of Basra said, however,

   “In love with God, I have no time left to hate the devil; My love to God has so possessed me that nothing remains but Him.”

   Here is an illustration where the editors or assistants working on Kirpal Singh's book, Godman may possibly have stretched a bit to maintain the traditional dualistic negative power/positive power dichotomy. One must keep in mind that Kirpal Singh wrote this book, as a devotional gesture to his guru, Sawan Singh, when he was still a disciple, twenty or more years before he was a Master, although it was not published until 1967. Speaking in glowing terms of the oneness of the Master and God or God-Power and how such a state is possible, Kirpal states:

   In discourse 7 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna thus sets to rest this question:

   "Not knowing my transcendant, imperishable supreme character, the
   undiscerning think me who am unmanifest to have become manifest.
   Veiled by the delusive mystery created by my unique power,
   I am not manifest to all; this bewildered world does not recognize me,
   birthless and changeless."

   Then he writes:

   "Blessed indeed is the man who is ready for immediate transformation into God, for to such an individual he at once reveals his Godhood; as Krishna revealed his oneness with Kal to Arjuna..." (26)

   Krishna, previously implied to be one with God, is here relegated to the lesser avataric status or "oneness with Kal" the negative power as considered within the Sant tradition. All very confusing. Explainable, no doubt, but still confusing - certainly for a Hindu who would consider Buddha or perhaps Christ or even Ramakrishna to have been avatars. I am certain that Kirpal or his editors had sound esoteric reasons for using this phraseology, but in any vision of Oneness, whether it be the ‘oneness’ of the soul, or the ‘oneness of the ultimate, "Kal” must be taken back into one's being and no longer projected outside. It must, however, be kept in mind that Kal is not really claimed to be a person or being, i.e., Satan, but a principle, but who can apparently manifest in form. Kirpal once said in Heart to Heart Talks that Kal was just a name for the “outgoing power.” As such it would be the manifesting or projecting power of God, and as such how could they be characterized as bad? It would have to be morally neutral. Exclusive identification with that aspect might be considered negative, but that is something else, is it not?

   Judith Lamb-Lion, disciple of Kirpal Singh, described a mystic encounter where she met a personification of Kal, who "was black and had feathers. She removed a feather and saw light and God behind him and no longer was afraid." This is also essentially what the Tibetan Book of the Dead tells one to do: recognize everything as a projection of one's own mind. This non-reactivity and acceptance must be habitually practiced every day, however, to be effective at the time of death. What this all suggests is that the dualistic vision of the cosmos, described metaphorically in many spiritual and religious teachings, is ultimately to be transcended. Yet within relativity, up to at least the causal plane, respect must be given to the polarity of positive and negative powers. Yet for the initiate of a Saint there is no reason to fear. The key is, however, as Zen Master Dogen wrote, to strive to always be in the nondual state:

   "Birth and death continue and both are within samadhi. There is endless sight and sound...All are part of the constant movement of the Sea of Truth..If someone does not know that everything is in samadhi, he cannot understand the fundamental Truth. Therefore the power of the devil was destroyed." (27)

   The more positive aspect of the Kabirian myth is where the aeon Kal is not inherently evil or sinful, but power is granted to Kal as a concession by the Sat Purush so that the cosmic play will go on for some time and souls will not immediately return to the Forefather as soon as they are incarnated for the first time, but be trapped in the lower worlds until rescued by the manifestation of the Positive Power, the Sant Satguru. Needlessly to say, advaita (i.e., sources like the Mandukya Upanishad) do not accept such cosmological theories of creation at all, except as a temporary expedient for the ignorant. But it can be argued that they have their own version of Kal, being that of perceiving duality due to the arisal of a separative 'I'-sense. And the way out of the Kal predicament is non-duality.

   deCaussade writes:

   "The soul in the state of abandonment knows how to see God in the proud who oppose His action. All creatures, good or evil, reveal Him to it."

   "Of what use are the most sublime illuminations, the most divine revelations, if one has no love for the will of God? It was because of this that Lucifer fell. The ruling of the divine action revealed to him by God, in showing him the mystery of the Incarnation, produced in him nothing but envy. On the other hand a simple soul, enlightened only by faith, can never tire of admiring, praising, and loving the order of God; of finding it not only in holy creatures, but even in the most irregular confusion and disorder. One grain of faith will give more light to a simple soul than Lucifer received in his highest intelligence."

   "Who is Lucifer? He is a pure spirit, and was the most enlightened of all pure spirits, but is now at war with God and with His rule. The mystery of sin is merely the result of this conflict, which manifests itself in every possible way. Lucifer, as much as in him lies, will leave no stone upturned to destroy what God has made and ordered."

   Kal is one of those topics that appears to have many layers. Kal is said to take many forms, but certainly can and does manifest as a personification. The name Kal in the Sant Mat tradition (and names and images of him will be related to cultures and traditions) means 'time' and is probably based on the experience that Kal has power over a person to the extent that they have karma (cause and effect is a time-based notion), unless they are free enough from karma that through an act of will/aspiration and/or grace, they are freed to move beyond the realm of Kal, which, of course, Kal does not have. Kal has no power beyond the causal plane (or sometimes spoken of MahaKal to the supercausal plane) because this is where a level of dualism ends, an aspect of which is the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong. This concept is transformed in such a way in planes beyond that it no longer reflects a separation into such crude categories, which are not relatively wrong at the level in which they operate, by can be transcended if the consciousness is advanced enough. At this point, and with enough freedom from Karma, the individual can pass beyond Kal's dominion. This can be experienced in various ways, including by the sheer power of a realization that transcends Kal (as long as one has also balanced enough of one's karma as well). Kal is said to be a stickler for not releasing anyone from his classroom unless they have paid their dues. Some even say he is still a bit resentful. One person described an experience in which he was was seeking to pass beyond him. He said he was rising up, but waves and waves of judgmentalness came down upon him, pushing him back. Then he realized he did not have to give into these beliefs, that he was unworthy, not ready, etc. As this soul force arose within him he ascended back and Kal then personified and confronted him face to face, much as described by Judith Lamb-Lion previously. He was very testy and demanded to know what he felt gave him the right to pass beyond him, as he was limited to this realm and had longed to be free of it for a very long time. This person said nothing but held his ground, his state of presence, and he dissolved and let him pass. In the next plane above there is not judgmentalness, within oneself, collectively or as a personified figure. Kal at this level is more like the notion of a wrathful deity, not one serving the dissolution of ego as in Kali. More like some of the Old Testament Deities. In this sense, Kal is fulfilling a natural function, embodying an aspect of the personification of karmic law. We say personification because some experience that there are other beings gradually taking over Kal's work on our planet. Enlightened beings who bring more compassion and wisdom to the dispensing of karma. Kal seems more like a kind of bureaucrat who plays it strickly by the book, does not care about the individual, does not care about the enlightenment of the individual or the world, but simply does his job. And it seems that he is rather impersonal in doing so, unless you try to get free from his realism, and then he can get jealous. At least that seems to be the experience of some. In any case, said Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh,

   "Even the devil [Kal] can do nothing to a man so long as he can laugh."

   Fenelon, also, pointedly writes:

   “Hear these things and believe them. This pure truth shall be bitter in your mouth and belly, but it shall feed your heart upon that death which is the only true life. Give faith to this, and listen not to self; it is the great seducer, more powerful than the serpent that deceived our mother.” (Spiritual Progress, p. 129)

   “Self” more powerful than “Kal” ? Is that what he is implying? Something to keep in mind, perhaps, when we try to pass the buck for our problems. The ego is more dangerous than Kal. The mind, once bicurcated, dualistic, is no longer in ‘Heaven.’ It is the ultimate liar. Brunton writes, “It lies to itself, lies to other men, and lies to the man who identifies with it.”

   One of the key aspects of passing beyond Kal, besides the Grace of the Master, which is the chief factor, is settling enough karma, which arise from judgments/desires/aversion, so that one's nature is beginning to be free enough from judgment so that one can rise above the Lord of Judgment. But also one's state of consciousness in that moment must transcend judgment to actually pass beyond. This can, of course, happen in two ways according to which style of practice one is doing (this is assuming that the main power of a moment of transcending Kal is not grace, which also can liberate a person at least temporarily, as in peak moment, but also permanently). But if at least part of the power of a path is the individual's own effort, then this must take the form of having the ability to enter a state of presence beyond judgment. This is one of the ways  intuition is defined, as the next basic level of consciousness beyond the judgmental mind. This does not mean that intuition cannot 'evaluate' things. But this is done more holistically, with a great dose of understanding, acceptance and compassion. Anytime someone is expressing these qualities, they are passing to some extend beyond Kal, inner and outer Kal. In an inversion path, one uses method to move beyond judgment such as the sound current, inquiry, grace, etc. And one will experience this process as a liberation from a basic level of dualism, judgmentalness, and separation. If one is doing a practice like vipassana, even if ones eyes are open and one is just sitting on the couch, or driving a car, waking down the street, the context does not matter. If one can be very present (not distracted, day dreaming, anticipating), if concentration is strong but relaxed, and one is basically or fundamentally accepting of one's experience moment to moment, not wishing one was not experiencing what is there, a situation, a feeling, a memory, and so, then one is integrating a state of mind beyond Kal in one's ordinary state. It is really not that hard to do this for short periods of time, or especially when the contents of our experience are not too challenging - ones we are inclined to judge, such as pain, loss, mistakes, blame from others, and so on. Then our freedom from Kal is tested!

   Also, even without these challenges, which varying in strength from person to person and moment to moment, to sustain this level of presence for increasing periods of time (not just a minute or two here and there) will cause all the karma that is unresolved in our subconscious and conscious mind to be stirred up to be released. Because all of that stuff was more or less created by judgmental consciousness/intentions and are incompatible to this state of presence. Also, we separate ourselves unconsciously from this karma by repressing it, which is also a form of judgment! So if we enter into a non-judgmental state of mind, even to a partial degree, our repressions will begin to be lifted to that extent, and the karma will begin to flow to the surface. If we enter into a fully trans-judgmental state of mind, our subconscious will become profoundly open, and we will be flooded with all our unfinished business. Most people have a decent amount of karma yet to resolve, so it would be overwhelming to release it all so strongly. So, they must not try to sustain such a profound state of presence to too great a degree or for two long periods of time if they do not wish to get swamped in painful karma.

   Developing increasingly non-judgmental presence liberated karma not only by de-repressing the subconscious/storehouse karma, but also by a mechanism whereby, as karma arises as elementals of desire, aversion, thoughts, emotions, judgments, attachments (they are all judgmental!), then these elementals get their life, their ongoing vitality to be active or become active again through the judgmental/desire energy that we charged them with in the first place, whether we created them consciously or unconsciously (which is most common). They will resurface periodically if they are active in this life to get recharged. If we experience them (as sensations in our bodies, emotions, desires or thoughts) and we remain aware and equanimous toward them, then they will fail to be re-energized, their vitality will be discharged and they will be neutralized. Even if our equanimity is not profound, they will be somewhat de-energized, and their vibrations upgraded according to the state of mind we had in that moment. Awareness and equanimity are key qualities, but these qualities are inherent in others as well such as forgiveness, compassion, love, surrender, openness. But often it is not possible for many of us to hold these qualities, but at least we can shoot for trying to be present, enduring our karma, and being as accepting as we can. Then we resolve our karma (and our relationship to Kal, if we wish to think of it that way) and by freeing our karma and cultivation non-judgment (however we approach that), then we move beyond Kal, whether we remain in this realm or not.

   When an individual is initiated, the masters said to be able to replace Kal's function as far as becoming responsible for the working out of one's karma. But that does not mean we are 'free to go'. The master must still basically abide by the rules of the game, as these rules are ultimately there not as reward and punishment, but to serve an educational process. Those who have more consciously signed on to a spiritual path and will share in the process or working out their karma can be 'transferred' to another system where the lineage of enlightened souls can take over from Kal's role, but with greater personalized skill, wisdom, compassion and grace. And, as our planet becomes more evolved, some say, this system will spread to effect more and more people, that a new order in this regard is being 'negotiated' in our times, and is one of the implications of a new level of planetary consciousness that is claimed to be emerging gradually at this time, if such is true at all. We did not all ascend because it was 2012! Kal will not get on board with that plan! Nor would anyone who really understands the beauty of the system. But it is natural for it to move from stage to stage, system to system.

   Now that we have discussed Kal from a more or less psychological and philosophical perspective, let us examine him/it from a theological/spiritual one.

   Many advanced systems of nondual teachings like various forms of Hindu tantric lineages (Kashmir Shaivism, for instance, or Swami Rama's lineage), many forms of Mahayana and Vajrayana, Taoist schools, Shankara, and Blavatsky-Theosophy etc. embrace cosmologies that include various personifications of Cosmic Intelligences, including benefic and malefic beings. As a general classification, many traditions that would even be considered advaitists in particular and nondual traditions in general embrace, on a relative plane, the undeniable presence of a 'negative power', although theories of what they are and their origin may differ. Namkhai Norbu, for instance, describes doing practices designed to ward off and neutralize 'Dark Forces', Yogananda told Kriyananda at one point that the Forces of Darkness were 'thinning the herd' (their sangha), which would leave a healthier, stronger group when finished. One can glibly say it is all one, there is not good or bad, but is that just incomplete nondual philosophizing? Having said that, the drama between this type of polarity of light and dark, good and evil, does not extend beyond the causal plane. But below that it is a 'real' one and can't be ignored.

   A letter (date unknown) attributed to Sant Kirpal Singh reads:

   “Whenever Sat Purush (the Supreme Being) comes into the world in the garb of a Satguru to save the souls in their misery and trouble by giving them the secret of the True Home, Kal follows suit in different forms to mislead, so as to prevent an easy escape of the souls in his domain. His agents set up schools resembling those of Sant Mat, use similar language, and adopt similar terminology to ensnare the naive and unwary aspirants. Hence the need for great caution.”

   So, Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda, etc. - agents of Kal? I love my Master, but such talk makes my heart weep. More than that, my heart feels torn in two. All this talk of Kal - these are my feelings only - seems to give the poor ego much too much credit in discerning the true from the false. Therefore, I pray to God, save us all, both saint and sinner alike.

   Still, the issue is not settled.

   “The truth is that on the basis of our labor alone we could not even find the living spiritual Master. It is his grace which brings us to him.” - Sant Darshan Singh

   In a similar vein Fenelon writes

   We may be sure, then, that it is the love of God only that can make us come out of self. If you see his powerful hand did not sustain us, we should not know how to take the first step in that direction.”(Spiritual Progress, p. 45)

   Some think that the more one gives weight to the thought of Kal, the more real he becomes, which would be true if Kal was not in some sense already real. But if Kal in some way or another represents something that is relatively real, then ignoring it may sometimes be like seeing a truck coming down the street and thinking that if I don't feed the idea, it will go away. On the other hand, undo dwelling on these things, not to mention paranoia and such about them, or delusions of heroic participation in battles and all, that is feeding or relating to the issue in problematic ways. The initiate has only to place his attention and heart with the Master; then his days cavorting with Kal are over.

   When one advances from what Brunton called the Long Path to the Short Path, which is at least similar to what Kirpal Singh juxtaposed as the path of self-effort versus that of total self-surrender to the Master, one’s attitude and practice emphasis changes. He is no longer based in duality, based on the bifurcating tendency of the mind, but rather the force of his contemplation is on the One Reality. In his faith he is now no longer so concerned with his lapses from the virtues, but rather focused more on the ever-presence of the divine. In this radical change his concept of “Kal” also necessarily undergoes a change. As PB writes:

   “On the Short Path he does away with the duality of thought which sets up two ruling powers - god and evil, God and Adverse Force - and recognizes God as the real existence.” (Notebooks, Vol. 15, Part 1, 1.34)

   What previously may have been seen as a trial provoked by Kal, for instance, is now viewed only through the lens of the mercy and justice of God. Satan, Kal, Mara, etc., are known as only real within relativity, and not of the absolute. Which is why

   “It has been said that awakening from ignorance resembles awakening from a fearful dream of a beast. It is just like that.” (Ramana Maharshi, Talks, p. 483).

Kal and the Sant Mat conception of the avatars

   As the reader may or may not already know, in Sant Mat an 'Avatar' is a manifestation of the 'negative' power, their sole job being to keep the lower realms of creation in balance and order. It is the Sants, the manifestation of the 'positive' power, whose job it is to attract and liberate souls. And because of this conceptualization, spiritual figures such as Ramakrishna are often relegated to a lower plane than that of a Sant. Or, as mentioned above, Krishna is considered to be an agent of Kal, and not the Supreme Lord as worshipped in Hinduism. But on inspection there are some problems with this Sant Mat distinction. Perhaps if one admits 'degrees' of avatars then the problem will dissolve. But for now consider. According to Pandit Arya (and others), there are two types of Avatars in Hinduism: direct incarnations of cosmic enlightened Beings, or reincarnating jivan muktas who, having attained union with God and are also now simply direct manifestations of God when they reincarnate, with no other purpose or will than God's. Ironically, that does not sound much different from the Sant Mat definition of a Sant or Param Sant! So the avatar business appears as possibly a straw man deal, where it is defined in the lineage's own way (not in line with the Hindu perspective) and then relegated it to a lower status. Seems kind of silly.

   [By the way, many Christian theologians argue that Jesus Christ was not just some kind of “avatar”, but go on to describe his descent and nature in terms nearly exactly like that of an avatar in Hinduism: that is to say, as the direct incarnation of the Deity itself, without going through the normal processes of ensoulment and natural human birth like most if not all masters do - imo]

   Continuing, the 'inner planetary and cosmic hierarchy', or 'Trans-Himalayan lineage' (i.e., Babaji, Koot Hoomi, Hilarion, Serapis, Neem Karoli Baba, Buddha, Christ, Sanat Kumara, etc.) also appear to define liberation as attaining the realization of the 'fifth plane' (depending on how one counts the planes), beyond the bodies, beyond time and space. Certainly then also beyond karma and 'Kal'! So once again it appears inconceivable and absurd to believe the Sant Mat masters of the highest order do not understand and realize this. Further more, this was all talked about long ago in books like "The Voice of the Silence" in the context of using nada yoga to realize liberation as the 'atman', and so on.

   But - not so fast! On closer inspection one finds this extreme dualistic conception of the cosmos in Sant Mat to be perhaps a provisional teaching. For instance, as mentioned above, Kirpal Singh did mention that Krishna was acting as an agent of Kal in his role as an avatar. Elsewhere, however, Kirpal said:

   "When He [God] expressed Himself, from one He became many, and from the grand Sun in the Maha Brahmand came the Sound. This teaching was given by Ingris Rishi to the son of Devki, known as Krishna [as told in the Ramayana of Tulsidas, chapter called "Bal Khand"]...From the life of Lord Krishna we learn how he once jumped into the River Jamuna, where lived a thousand-headed poisonous snake. Lord Krishna won over the monster with the music in his flute, that is, the Music of the Spheres. It again indicates that to control the serpent-mind there is no other means than the Sound-Principle. The Lord is Soundless, but when He expressed Himself, this song came out of Him, and that Song will never cease." (Sat Sandesh, Nov. 1970).

   So here we find the implication that Krishna was a Master of the Sound Current. Is this a contradiction to the teaching that contrasts Sants and Avatars, or Positive and Negative Powers? Not necessarily. Sants and Avatars have different roles, but both roles are played by advanced, enlightened souls. Kirpal explains, "The Avatars themselves have a deep respect for the Saints, for they also followed a Guru, they also traveled the one path...Saints and Avatars respect each other, for both carry out the Lord's work in different ways. The Negative and Positive are both created by the one Lord...Both are necessary for the furtherance of the world's purpose..." (July, 1974; Ibid) And, one may add, sometimes even by the same being! As Kirpal tells us:

   "The Tenth Guru [of the Sikhs - Guru Gobind Singh] played the role of a Saint and an Avatar." (Sat Sandesh, Dec. 1974)

   This concept is entirely in line with the esoteric teachings of an 'inner Planetary Hierarchy', in which advanced fifth-stage and beyond Masters, and beings such as Christ and Buddha, are said to hold prominent positions. In fact, Guru Ramdas of the Sikhs was said to have been Master Kuthumi of the theosophists, as well as Pythagoras and Nagarjuna. (source misplaced)

   The function of guiding and controlling the universe, as given in Sant Mat terminology, does not appear upon close inspection as just a negative one, i.e., of 'holding back souls', but rather a great sacrifice made on the part of cosmic beings for maintaining the environments necessary for universal evolution and the realization of the embryonic souls. Souls which are alternately said to: (1) have 'fallen from heaven out of disobedience to God' (truly or likely a beginner-level teaching when used in Sant Mat, and borrowed or matched whole-cloth from the theistic religions), or (2) souls/monads evolving their consciousness for the very first time, after a long passage through the kingdoms of Nature. [We confess, it is likely that neither of these explanations is completely accurate due to the limitations of our dualistic language and fundamental ignorance, but the latter explanation is at least more in keeping with the maturing scientific intellect of modern man].

   28. Kal, Karmas, and Non-dualism

   Kal does make sense even in a nondual context. One way to look at the idea of dealing with Kal, karmas, vasanas, or samskaras is through the notion that basic spiritual cosmologies or sensibilities can be categorized into three general types. The most basic is the type that distinguishes human experience, especially human traits, into good and bad, the foundation of morality and right choice on the path. Understandings of what these values are, why we should believe in them, and how to practice them vary widely from one tradition and individual to another. But they are all based on a simple distinction of good and bad (or unwholesome, sin, evil). A basic sign of the maturity of a version of this level of spiritual understanding is how much this quality of discriminating wisdom is balanced with other qualities like acceptance, understanding, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. And how true is its understanding of the actual karmic significance of a given action or motivation. This is a vast subject, just understanding the ins and outs of this aspect.

   The next level can be called transformation, and is more 'esoteric', and in India and is most commonly associated with tantric teachings, including Tibetan Buddhism. In this view, the key thing that is different is that although the practitioner must have a clear foundation in the first level of distinguishing virtue from vice, ignorance from enlightenment (this cannot be over-emphasized), the distinction here lies in how that aspect is viewed that is considered 'evil', bad, unwholesome, problematic, a hindrance, obstruction, ego, or fetter. In the first stage view, these energies are seen as needing to be renounced, neutralized, detached from, let go of, and so on (less mature versions harshly judge, condemn, or damn these energies or those deemed to have too much of them). In the tantric view, however, these negative attributes are seen as not needing to be rejected or let go of, but rather can be transformed, which process alchemically release the soul within them, their hidden qualities, which subsequently enrich the practitioner. It's a bit like recycling or composting - no need to discard, lets get something out of it. Only with the tantric vision, we get wisdom and virtue out of it, not just recycled unwholesomeness.

   As a person matures on the path, they may transition to a more tantric vision (and sometimes corresponding practices) if either this naturally emerges, or they are taught this point of view. And it becomes not just a theory or philosophy, but something that is intuitively experienced. But there must be maturity. Chogyam Trungpa warned that tantra was a dangerous practice to teach, particularly the popularized version of sexual tantra (which traditionally required proficiency in kundalini yoga), especially in the West.

   In the third stage, which few people reach in a given lifetime, one can gain access to the non-dual view, at least in meditation, in which nothing is being perceived as needing to be changed, rejected, fixed, transformed, healed, or confronted (such as postiive and negative powers). Not that these were wrong views, but just that when the time is ripe, one can transition to allowing the last stages of realization to happen through resting in the non-dual view, which not only liberates one from further karmically unwholesome actions, but also transforms karma/elementals that remain as they arise in one's consciousness, as the power of non-dual realization illuminates the arising phenomena in each moment. As they say in Dzogchen, each vasana or samskara is 'self-liberated' as it arises in awareness. But the practitioner themselves does not focus on the need for this to happen, since, being in the non-dual view, they are already 'there' and feel no need to liberate karma. But on a relative level that can be said to be what is naturally happening anyway.

   In mature practitioners in the non-dual traditions that understand this type of process, one will continue to appear to function in the world as one who on a relative level is still mindful of the discriminative moral and tantric levels of experience (typically, except for the historical 'crazy' adepts), as a deep non-dual realizer is in a state that is not against these relative levels of one's nature. Just as they do not reject the body, but allow it to play out its nature, so they do not reject the personality of the practitioner, continuing to be mindful of morality, relative good and evil, dark forces, spiritual practices, the drama of gurus and students, everything. Nothing need be rejected of other stages and aspects of the path once non-dualism has been realized. There is no need to reject 'the path' (as folks like Krishnamurti claimed to), or 'teachers', or practices, or effort, and so on. Non-dual realization rejects nothing. It seamlessly integrates with and illuminates all of that. So inwardly the non-dual stage of the path is one of not identifying with all of that, while a mature actualization of it (rather than a personality that is not yet fully illuminated by non-dualism, and so has various reactions of misunderstandings about it) allows the outer expression of spirituality to go on as before. This also insures that you don't get realizers who think they have transcended everything falling back since there are still tendencies or vasanas that are not yet liberated that could pull them back.

   Namkhai Norbu made a succinct observation when he say that 'the highest practice is not the deepest one that one can conceive of or has heard of, but rather the practice that is most suited to one's stage'. That is to say, 'the highest view for each individual is not necessarily the non-dual, but rather the one that is most organically emerging for them, and can therefore most powerfully be integrated in their experience and practice. One of the most basic problems with the western non-dual scene is that many of the people running after that vision do not understand it well, are misapplying it in counterproductive ways, and really would be more skillfully practicing if they focused on one or both of the other two views as the primary vision, and cultivated non-dualism as a philosophical context and goal, rather than a current focus. Many are attempting to practice over their heads. Anyway, that's how I tend to see it. But, who is to say? Maybe I am just arguing for my own limitations....

   29. Kal: a few additional theological considerations

   As to how this all started, the Masters in all traditions generally steer disciples away from such questions, considering them as 'not conducive to edification,' 'first get out of the house before it burns down,' but let's be daring.

   In the teachings of the. Cypriote Christian mystic Daskalos (1912-1995), after passing through the archtypal “Idea of Man” (see “The Idea of Man” on this website), the Soul/Permanent Personality sends forth a reflection of itself, passing through ’the dome of many-colored glass that stains the white radiance of eternity,’ and gets cloaked or veiled in three bodies, physical or material, psychic or astral, and noetic or mental (higher and lower), thus beginning its incarnational cycle as a ‘present or temporary personality’, or what might simply be called, the personality. This happens in stages, beginning in the psycho-noetic planes. At a certain stage in our planet's development, the so-called 'Fall' from the Garden of Eden spoken of in scripture occured, which, strictly speaking, was no fall, but the continuation of the Soul's innate desire to experience the material world and full separation, all as part of its spiritual growth.

   There are many versions of this creation story/mythos, similar but with variations. One other such story is found in Milton's Paradise Lost, in which the archangel Lucifer is thinking about his closeness to God, and that 'one step higher will make me highest', and just at that moment God decided to emanate a divine son to create the universe of matter. In some stories Lucifer out of anger and greed decided to become lord of those lower worlds, in others (Sant Mat) he is offered the job, and in either version a certain portion of souls decided to follow him down. At heart of these stories, however, lies the mysteries of matter and incarnation. This more or less Abrahamic yet Christian version includes a fall and a redemption, a divine incarnation and an at-the-end-of-time parousia (2Pe.3:12). This is essentially planet-based religion, with the Sun considered the central source, the one God. To make it relevant for our time we might expand our perspective to include billions of star-systems, solar systems and galaxies. And, hold all of this - lightly - within a vision of eternity, without a beginning or end, if such were possible. What we can say with plausible certainty is that the true meaning of Lucifer was distorted by later Hebrews to equate it with Satan (fallen angels, etc), and that the distortion was picked up by Christianity. But the original meaning of Lucifer related to Venus (the Morning Star), and meant the bringer of light. Hence the term Lucifer was part of an ancient tradition of honoring the birth of individual identity in Humans not as a fall, but as a spiritual gift (Prometheus), giving self-awareness which would become a boon for spiritual progress, which the Archangels did not have. One can see how this might freak out some people, as it can be misunderstood to mean that Lucifer empowers egoism, which as 'Kal' it does so in some of the Sant Mat versions of creation. Rather, Lucifer, on this alternate view, is the underlying intelligence behind the Human Idea, which is a Divine Archetype, and a 'Bringer of Light'. But trying to liberate the term Lucifer from over 2000 years of distortion was too big a step for some modern teachers, so theosphist Alice Bailey tried to 'back off' by changing the name for her publishing house from the Lucifer Trust to the Lucis Trust, while Madame Blavatsky never did, and that contributed to why she was hated by many Christians.

   Yet we must confront head-on the scriptural passages in which Kal and Satan appear to be the same. But are they? What if “Kal” as the Negative Power (or Time) is at its highest level a basic metaphysical principle, while “Satan” as biblically portrayed or “Kal“ created from the finest hair of the Sat Purush in Sant Mat, is a fallen Angel reaking havoc in the lower worlds? Is not that a possibility? If so, then the contrasting stories in the Sant Mat accounts may speak from different levels of meaning and understanding. The Bible accounts read:

   Luke 10:18 Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

   Isaiah 14:12 “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”

   Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

   Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world [alt. “of this age “], against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

   No doubt there are demonic spirits and maybe even a “king” of all demons, but does that necessarily negate all truth behind the story of Prometheus or Lucifer as “light-giver”? Does the fact, similarly, that such teachings and spiritual schools which teach them may have been borrowed or co-opted in part by evil forces such as various transhumanism supra-governmental organizations negate the basic mythological narratives? As in all things, we are inevitably faced with the imperative of discrimination. Nobody said getting at the truth was easy.

   Different stories, to repeat, are created in different traditions to account for both the apparent creation and man’s predicament within it. The traditional biblical version posits an initial manifestation of the upper heavens, including an empyrean or heaven above the heavens, followed by a war in heaven in which Lucifer, the “fairest of the archangels,” “a brilliant intelligence,” “the bearer of the light,” was driven out of heaven by the archangel Michael. His ‘crime’ was desiring to rule over a world of his own, and not be ruled by God. Thus, he became the god of this world, and many souls followed him down. Thus, pride on the part of Lucifer, and “audacious self-will” (according to Plotinus - whose Neoplatonic philosophy was a potent influence on early Christianity) on the part of the souls, were the reasons given for the fall of man.

   In the teachings of Sant Mat (the Path of the Masters), a similar story is given but with a few twists. The Anurag Sagar of Kabir tells us that Kal, “created from the finest hair of the Sat Purush,” (the True Lord, the first expression of the One absolute, and resident in the Empyrean, Sach Khand, the true home of the soul), had a desire to rule a world of his own. Perhaps the Sat Purush gave him this desire, because on one version of this story he was given the role of Demiurge, or the creator of the lower worlds; while on another version he was punished and made to do it - or simple usurped the role and did it ? In either case there now existed a positive and negative power and corresponding positive and negative pole of creation. Kal wished to keep souls trapped below, while the Sants worked to free them to return to their home above.

   In one version of the story, the souls in Sach Khand were given a glimpse Kal’s creation, and 1/10 of them decided to go down to experience it, while the other 9/10s chose to remain. The 1/10 of the souls who chose to leave their primal home to go down would become the prodigal sons upon their eventual return. In another variant of this story the souls were not given a choice but were forced to come down by the will of the Sat Purush. In neither version of this story, therefore, was there a moral failure behind the descent of the souls, or of Kal. This was because no karma was possible prior to experience in the lower worlds. Thus this story is somewhat more positive and more in line with evolutionary theories of the soul than the biblical accounts.

   It needs to be remembered that “kal” literally means “time,” and thus metaphysically one can see how the fall relates to the bifurcation of consciousness from unity to duality and separation, from eternity into time and space. Thus the stories of an event that happened long ago are necessarily allegory concealing deep esoteric truths. “In the beginning” is an illegitimate expression according to advaita and other high philosophies as it presupposes time which hadn’t existed yet, with scholastic concepts such as a “Cause-less Cause” merely passing the buck in search of an answer. Thus, all so-called creation stories need to be held very lightly, using the feeling and imaginative faculties more than the intellect to relate to them.

   There are thus two gnostic views, one positive and one negative. [Also two Garden of Eden views, which Garden of Eden story is found throughout the world. Only in Judaism and Biblical Christianity, interestingly - very interestingly - is eating of the tree of knowledge considered negative - no wonder there is so much guilt in that tradition and people! Everywhere else it is considered to be a good thing]. In gnosticism, which would include Kabir's Anurag Sagar (which there is even debate as to whether he actually wrote it - the Beas lineage has always made a big deal of its truth; Sawan recommended all satsangis read it), there are two views. One, we did something wrong and 'fell' down to this world as punishment, and, two, there was 'no fall,' the whole affair was one of getting knowledge and realization. Sant Mat, publically at lest, tends to hold to the view that we disobeyed God and fell from a certain inner plane - after which the Sat Purush cut a deal with Kal (who was made from him and works under his authority) to keep souls from immediately returning home; that deal was: the guru could not do miracles, but only hold satsang, etc., to win over souls to the path of truth, which ultimately is the triumph of non-dualism over dualism - but which from the highest point of view might be viewed as still a relative teaching.

   Charan Singh, interestingly, answered someone by saying that when we first 'came down' here, we had no karma, that God sent us here. Why, he couldn't say. The answer of Charan Singh may be slightly different than the punishment theory of Sawan Singh, although it is not uncertain. Kirpal Singh in Heart to Heart Talks also said that we were sent down here, that we did nothing wrong. Some versions of the Kal story have suggested that the souls had a choice if they wanted to stay in Sach Khand or go down to explore the lower world, and 90% said they wanted to go.

   In another variant, the initial ‘being sent down’ of the souls was only as far as Dev Lok, which In his book, The Mystery of Death, Kirpal Singh describes as a sort of sanctuary of the “shining ones” on the mental plane - and the Biblical Garden of Eden - whence he then seemingly tongue-in-cheek says, “where - as the story goes - Adam and Eve were further cast down for their first disobedience to God’s commandments.” As mentioned elsewhere, the mystic Daskalos says “they donned animal skins” meant that they then descended and took on physical bodies.

   The type of view, nevertheless, that Kal or even Sat Purush is the Creator of maya or relativity itself is actually dangerously close to falling into dualistic scenarios that try to give meaning to relativity. This is inconsistent with radical nondualism, although many who have aligned themselves with non-dualism fall into this trap. Ken Wilber for instance has suggested that the nondual is transcendentally lonely and so projected relativity so that it would have something to love/relate to. This is not non-dualism, at least not according to the Dzogchen school. In Dzogchen they use a metaphor of a mirror. The essence of the mirror is emptiness, its nature is to continuously reflect, and its energy is the reflections that constantly appear and disappear in the mirror. The reflections are spontaneous manifestations that are inseparable from that which reflects them and from that which is the basis for reflection itself. There is no creation as is commonly (dualistically) understood. There are dozens of these concepts in various cosmologies, many of them embraced by those who in other ways consider themselves non-dualist. They just don't seem to realize that such creation or emanation or projection scenarios are not really compatible with their non-dualism. At first people beginning to see this will often feel a loss, another thing to let go of. But if one completes the process of surrendering these attempts to make positive sense of the whole thing and just settle more deeply into transcendent Being, one may find that this state is even more sublime, empowering, liberating and loving than the other scenarios. This is the opinion of some, and a difficult point, perhaps the most difficult point in philosophy and religion, one which the reader must deeply ponder for him or her self.

   A 'problem' with the view of Kal as the Creator of maya and relativity is, basically, that it is based on a Creationist view (!), which does not make sense from  a pure nondual perspective, but the above one is even more odd than others. It seems to take the view that all the universe came from a transcendent Reality in two manifestations, Sat Purush, the Positive Power, and Kal, the Negative Power. In this view, Sat Purush's nature is to liberate beings, draw them back to God, and Kal's function is to create the world of maya, and then try to keep beings trapped there. What is not clear in this philosophy is the notion that Kal is under Sat Purush's power, both of which are 'created' by the Transcendent Reality beyond. So what is their view of why all this would happen? The answer given is the usual one of 'lila', or divine play. And that may be as good as any for now. But why would the Negative Power be under the control of the Positive Power? Would that not mean that basically they are one? One gets the sense that, as Sant Mat arose in India in the context of India's Advaita traditions, yet is a bhakti movement that traditionally favors more dualistic or qualified Advaita views, that there is a mixing together in Sant Mat of elements of each in a not always very coherent or integrated fashion.

     If this being is the 'creator of maya' or the lower worlds as some schools of Sant Mat seems to believe (whereas others just say he was given dominion over the lower worlds, with Sat Purush being the real 'Creator'), therefore, it may not be considered to make sense to a nondual-oriented intuition. That does not mean that this being does not exist, but, viewing things in a non-dual light, things may inevitably be more complex than some of the Sant Mat philosophy suggests.

   Kal, by most Sant Mat explanations, is not strictly the creator of maya, but the 'regent' in charge of it. Therefore, if by 'Creator' with a capital 'C' they mean (and they do) the Primal Reality from which and within which all of the play of emanated levels of being and worlds takes place, that is, a Prime Reality which in its aspect of Supreme Power 'creates' out of itself both consciousness and phenomena - and, in a 'delegated', emanated fashion, souls, archangels, gods, beings of all types, higher and lower worlds, etc. - then there is room in this teaching to portray a most inclusive form of non-dualism, and the word 'Creator', stripped of its Middle eastern associations of a tribal God creating something out of nothing, is acceptable.

   All of this Kal talk may be relevant to other discussions, such as free will versus determinism, for instance. Eastern Orthodoxy explains our predicament as follows: God knows everything that ever was, is or will be. Therefore he knows, in fact, that a certain individual, for instance, may commit murder when he is thirty years old. But God does not force him to do so, i.e., we have a modicum of free will to choose good over evil. Elder Porphyrios says of this paradox that, in brief "...these things are very delicate matters and require divine illumination for a person to understand them.They are mysteries. What is good in nature is a mystery."

   So there is probably not much more that can be said. Elder Sophrony does add this, however, for us to ponder:

   "The ontological unity of humanity is such that every separate individual overcoming evil in himself inflicts such a defeat on cosmic evil that its consequences have a beneficial effect on the destinies of the whole world." (Elder Sophrony of Essex, St. Silouan the Athonite, p. 222)

   And perhaps we might again listen to these words of Fenelon:

   “Listen not to self; it is the grand seducer, more powerful than the serpent that deceived our mother. Happy the soul that hearkens in all simplicity to the voice that forbids its hearing or compassionating self!” (Spiritual Progress, p. 129)

   “Suffer Him, then, to despoil self-love of every adornment, even to the inmost covering under which it lurks, that you may not receive the robe whitened by the blood of the Lamb, and having no other purity than his...Then He will love thee without measure, because it will be Himself that He loves in thee.” (Ibid)

   Thus, humility being the adornment of the saints, the vanquishing of self conquers Kal as well. In the terminology of Madame Guyon, the entry of ‘self’ into the soul is the central problem. Alternatively, this might also be viewed metaphysically as a beginningless bifurcation of the mind into subject and object, space, causality, as well as “time” - the latter of course which is the etymological meaning of “Kal.”

   This has endless repercussions for all mythological and allegorical, religious and mystical stories of creation. Are there really two powers, or only one? The reality seems to depend, at least to a degree, on ones point of departure or spiritual status within relativity.

   Plenty left to ponder here. What are the Sants to do when talking amongst people with vastly different levels of evolution, background, and understanding?

   End of Kal discussion

   Two metaphors, therefore, seem to exist for the path to Truth. The most ancient is the emanationist one of the "ladder" or "ascent" to the highest or deepest realm of consciousness. The non-dual metaphor currently in vogue is that of the "bottom falling out of the bucket" or "the bubble of ego bursting" wherever one finds himself. Both of these in actuality are true, and represent different stages and aspects of the path, of which many aspirants and teachers ignore. Does the "Radhasoami" realization in Sant Mat produce a non-dual enlightenment? It seems that in some cases it may, in some case maybe not, as they seem to some extent, some of the time, to derive from different antecedent causes. The Gyan samadhis so criticized as only as "the highest human realizations" by the Sant Mat masters may not automatically become the experience of these Masters just because they fulfilled the complete course of inner inversion, and, therefore, only the rare Master in that lineage may have the means to make an accurate comparison, in my humble and hesistantly introduced opinion. On the other hand, Paltu Sahib, as mentioned earlier, spoke of listening to the sound while 'poised in Gyan Samadhi'. And further, however, one might ask whether the 'non-dual' enlightenment in traditional or popular Buddhism, Zen or Advaita last any longer than the body, unless the deep course outlined by the Sant Mat or completed Dzogchen Masters is fulfilled?

   Realization certainly doesn't seem to remain unbroken in its continuity, in either case, except for the most exceptional being, as even the masters and sages who choose to return to help others break the vedana chain and temporarily sacrifice their enlightenment when they assume a new body, and must spend some time regaining it (Sant Kirpal Singh called it a "refresher course"), although in their case the regaining is relatively rapid and assured.

30. The very way Sach Khand is described is paradoxical, however, so its claim to be a “spiritual” region may not be dismissed outright. Our language is a poor guage of reality, in the final analysis. Sach Khand, as a divine realm where souls see by their own light and recognize other souls and their Creator, is very much like the following description given by the great Sufi, Ibn Al ‘Arabi:

   ”A final spiritual intuition will show you our forms manifest in Him, so that some of us are manifest to others in the reality, know each other, and distinguish each other in Him. There are those of us who have spiritual knowledge of this mutual recognition in the reality, while others have not experienced the plane on which this occurs. I seek refuge in God lest I be of the ignorant.” (28)

   And also by Plotinus, on the realization of the Nous or Intellectual Principle, the image of which is the Soul:

   "A blissful life is theirs. They have the Truth for Mother, Nurse and Nutriment; they see all things: not the things that are born and die, but those which have Real Being and they see themselves in others. For them all things are transparent and there is nothing dark or impenetrable, but everyone is manifest to everyone interiorly and all things are manifest to the most intimate depth of their nature. Light is everywhere manifest to light. There, everyone has all things in himself and sees all things in others, so that all things are everywhere and all is all and each is all, and the glory is infinite." (29).

31. Generally, in Sant Mat there is no public recognition or proposal of what Paul Brunton called "Short Path" practices to cultivate insight, as complementary to concentration practice, and to supplement the often long and dreary years of attempts at purifying the ego-soul so it can go "within" - such attempts which can in spite of themselves - without love for the guru - often reinforce the identification with the ego itself - prior to actual experience of the higher realms themselves, which through the power of the Word will progressively annihilate the earth-bound soul's fetters until it shines in its primal glory.. This is less likely for those who make themselves accessible to the company of a true master and develop love for him. Sometimes in Sant Mat this is difficult, due to the great number of disciples. This is one reason many are turning to non-dual teachers for what they feel is to be more direct, accessible, and practical guidance. The Upanishads themselves were the product of a few students sitting at the feet of the master until all doubts were resolved. This turning away from the path could be unfortunate, however, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Again, however, Paul Brunton explains that the mystical schools above all are the most likely to offer one method for all, whether that is suitable for an aspirant or not. There are several reasons for this:

   "The average teacher takes from his own personal experience what helped him most or what his own teacher led him to, and passes it on to the student as being "the Path," the only way to God, the sole method of arriving at truth - whether this particular way or method suits the individual type or his degree of development or not. He almost forces it on the student, even if it is contrary to the latter's entire temperament or need. The poor student finds himself locked up in his teacher's personal opinions and practices, as if nothing good existed outside them."

   "It is the mark of a well-qualified teacher that he adapts his advice to fit each disciple individually. If everyone is recommended to practise the same method irrespective of competence, his personal history and temperament, his grade of development or capacity, his character-traits and tendencies, in a number of cases it will be largely ineffectual."

   Again, the antidote is to go in all humility to the Master-Soul and tell him your problems; if he is a true master the help will be there. And if one reads closely, it will be found that in many cases an individual disciple may be put on a 'different path' by their master at the appropriate time. For instance, the paths of 'self-effort' and grace, and that of 'self-surrender' were plainly spoken of Kirpal Singh, and individually tailored paths were sometimes given out. It is also little known that Paramhansa Yogananda did not just teach Kriya Yoga, but also jnana yoga and others, depending on what was needed by a person. One advanced woman disciple of his was never initiated into the Kriya path, which he said was unnecessary as she had attained realization through jnana alone. Read the biography of Kirpal Singh on this website and the author's own story for examples of this sort of thing.

32. So at some point sages say that one must move from the practise of pursuing concentration on a projected ultimate object (i.e., God), with attention extended outside of the heart, and inquire or find the subject, and then the ultimate Subject. Supposedly this happens automatically through Naam bhakti. Zen Master Bassui (1338-1500), however, echoed Ramana:

   "What is this mind? Who is hearing these sounds? Do not mistake any state for Self-realization, but continue To ask yourself even more Intensely, What is it that hears?"

   There are hints here and there that even some of the Sant Mat masters recognized this. As mentioned previously, a disciple I knew, Judith Lamb-Lion, who confessed in Kirpal Singh’s company and was acknowledged by him to have gone to Sach Khand at her intiation, still asked him in private, “WHO am I?” to which Kirpal replied “WHO wants to KNOW?" It should be mentioned that Kirpal did not suggest this inquiry or practice to just anyone. This was a ripe soul who had also been taken to Sach Khand, and for whom the question still arose. Therefore we are talking of very high spiritual states. This would make sense of Ramana's comment:

   "It is said in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that the first name of God is 'I'. 'Aham nama abhavat' ['I becomes the name']. Om came later." (31)

   'Om' here refers to the creative vibration or life-current, similar to Naam or Shabd in the Sikh or Sant tradition - except that, in the teachings of the Sants, the scope of "Om" is attributed to that of the lower three worlds only, which are the purview of the vedas and vedantic sages. Sar Shabd and Sat Shabd are said take one much higher and lead to liberation. On the other hand, the True Name is said to have come from the Nameless One as movement, which became vibration, out of which came Light, the Sun of Maha Brahmand and out of that came Sound, which could give weight to teachings whereby the Sound actually emanates from the supercausal region, and not nondual Sach Khand, per se. Ramana was quite adamant that eventually the quest into the truth of the Self is alone the direct path to the right awareness of the Self or realization. He affirmed that meditation is a preliminary aid to this quest for breaking up the idea of the body as the self, but that in all yogas, or stages of yoga, other than that of enquiry, it is assumed that there is an entity called 'the soul' pursuing that quest, which he says is a false assumption. In summary, for Ramana all yoga and meditation is just preliminary to the ultimate path of vichara or enquiry, wherein the source of the apparent ego-soul is realized as the Self. However, as shown in Part One, he also did concede that meditation on the sound could 'take you home'. In addition, as previously argued, the view that the subject discovered through inquiry is the ultimate Subject, instead of the Soul, is a traditional assumption of advaita vedanta, which may not be true. It may simply be a traditional inheritance we have received from an age when the teachings of truth were presented in only impersonal terms.

   Here is an example of how Ramana would direct his listener from a relative to an absolute viewpoint:

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Individual human souls are not the only beings known."

Question: "And the sacred regions Kailasa or Vaikuntha, are they real?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "As real as you are in this body."

Question: "Do they possess a phenomenal existence, like my body? Or are they fictions like the horn of a hare?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "They do exist."

Question: "If so, they must be somewhere. Where are they?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Persons who have seen them say that they exist somewhere. So we must accept their statement."

Question: "Where do they exist?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "In you."

   [Didn't Baba Sawan Singh say much the same thing?
   "Everything, including the Creator, is within you." ]

Question: "Then it is only an idea, which I can create and control?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Everything is like that."

Question: "But I can create pure fictions, for example, a hare's horn, or only part truths, for example a mirage, while there are also facts irrespective of my imagination. Do the Gods Iswara or Vishnu exist like that?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Yes."

Question: "Is God subject to Pralaya (cosmic dissolution) ?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Why? Man becoming aware of the Self transcends cosmic dissolution and becomes liberated. Why not Iswara who is infinitely wiser and abler?" [In Sant Mat, Iswara is situated lower in the scheme of creation than the Sat Purush]

Question: "Do devas (angels) and pisachas (devils) exist similarly?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Yes."

Question: "These deities, what is their status relative to the Self?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Siva, Ganapati and other deities like Brahma, exist from a human standpoint; that is to say, if you consider your personal self as real, then they also exist. Just as government has its high executive officers to carry on the government, so has the creator. But from the standpoint of the Self all these gods are illusory and must themselves merge into the one reality..."

   "Truly there is no cause for you to be miserable and unhappy. You yourself impose limitations on your true nature of infinite being, and then weep that you are but a finite creature. Then you take up this or that spiritual practice to transcend the non- existent limitations. But if your spiritual practice itself assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you to transcend them?" (33)

   While that is so, the ego is not the soul. To realize the soul one must transcend the ego and co-operate with its death. So what some jnanis say may be only half-truth and not gospel.

   33. Sant Darshan Singh said in one of his books that one doesn't get the first glimpse of true happiness until after transcending the fourth plane. In the highest and most true sense this may be so. At the fourth plane the soul stands with only the anandamayakosha veiling it. No doubt there is great bliss as one ascends to such a heavenly realm, and as the ray of the soul returns to its origin it partakes more directly of the nature of that source. Still, one may find it difficulty to accept or simply agree with that comment, no matter how pure and illumined Sant Darshan Singh was, which as far as I can tell few have walked the earth with as much sanctity as he. It is simply that other sages have disagreed with it. Therefore the question arises. True, it is certainly harder to be happy here, and it appears that there is a limit to human happiness, due to its transciency, but it also seems that the communication of such a view could reinforce suffering, in so far as the more one believes or thinks he must get out of the body, the more fixed the belief in the reality of the body becomes, for one thing. Japanese Buddhist Master Fuji, who sat with Kirpal Singh a number of times, was in obvious ecstasy, with a smile as wide as the room, while in this very plane. Kirpal was often that way, too. There is also the example of the emotion-filled exclamation Kirpal made to His master, "Huzur, the peace and security found while sitting at your feet can not be had in higher planes!" Unless this was just a devotional gesture one must question the nature of happiness itself. Does it shine forth while being without ego in the moment, or is it only attained in some far-off inner plane, in the psychological depths of consciousness? If one believes strongly in the reality of the body and world as real, which the very drive to get out of the body must reinforce (not that one should never pursue it), then necessarily one will project his ideal of happiness in that direction only and not recognize it any other way. According to some, that very disposition is a big stumbling block to liberation. Again, we refer to Brunton who wrote:

   "The notion that the truth will be gained, that happiness will be achieved, that the Overself will be realized at the end of a long attempt must be seen as an illusory one. Truth, happiness, and the Overself must be seen in the Present, not the future, at the very beginning of this quest, not the end, here and now...It is an error, although a reasonable one, to believe that attainment comes only when the whole distance of this path has been travelled. This is to make it depend on measurement, calculation - that is, on the ego's own effort, management, and control. On the contrary, attainment depends on relinquishment of the ego, and hence of the idea of progress which accompanies it. it is then that a man can be still; then that he can, as the bible promises, "know that I am God." (34)

   Ramana also declared:

   "What is meant by liberation? Do the heavenly worlds and heavenly bliss exist somewhere else in the sky? Are they to be experienced in some other world and some other body after leaving this world and the body? The heart alone is the supreme world. Tranquility, in the form of supreme silence, is alone the supreme bliss or the happiness of liberation...The cessation of all worries is the attainment of the supreme truth. By the state of inner consciousness the great life of supreme bliss can be attained at all times in this very world and in this very body." (35)

   Even Master Darshan spoke enigmatically about this, in apparent contradiction to his words mentioned above:

   "Eternal rapture is within reach in this ephemeral world:
    Devote your life to serving in the tavern."

   Perhaps we can understand Kirpal's statement above, however, as implying that a Master who has fully integrated his higher plane realization while in the physical body is by that attainment greater than those who have not yet done that, and for which he had reverence and respect for.

   It is possible that some of the Sant Mat gurus, then, might be generally and honorably classified according to the Lankavatara Sutra as "Transformation Buddhas", but not necessarily "Dharmata Buddhas" (such as perhaps Buddha, or Hui-neng), that is, those who do not publically teach the ultimate truth of the One Mind, but methods to help the most people they can from the level at which they find them (or simply in the capacity of initiating them into the practice of Naam, and guiding them to Sach Khand). Many of the greatest sages in history have mixed mysticism with philosophy, trying to help as many people as they could, such is their great compassion and universal vision. As vedantist V.S. Iyer wrote:

   "In Brahma Sutras Sankara says that Brahman is the cause of the world, whereas in Mandukya Upanishad he denies it. This is because he says that at the lower stage of understanding, the former teaching must be given, for people will be frightened as they cannot understand how the world can be without a cause, but to those in a higher stage, the truth of non-causality can be revealed." (37)

   In fact, in Master of Self-Realization, Shri Sadguru Siddharameshwar Maharaj (guru of Shri Nisargadatta), in discussing the methodology of Vedanta teachers taking their students to progressively higher standpoints, mentions the concept of Bhava Roga, which means “the disease that created the idea that the world has been created.” In Sant Mat Two we proffered the consideration of the Shabd as a “Liberating Presence within Relativity” rather than as Creator. The end result may be the same in practice but the understanding somewhat different. This is an interesting and complex topic of which more may be said at a later date.

   As Hung-Jen (eighth century) said:

   “Throughout the canon, the Tathagata preaches extensively about all types of transgression and good fortune, causes and conditions, and rewards and retributions. He also draws upon all the various things of this world, mountains, rivers, the earth, plants, trees, etc. to make innumerable metaphors. He also manifests innumerable supernormal powers and various kinds of transformations. All these are just the Buddha’s way of teaching foolish sentient beings. Since they have various kinds of desires and a myriad of psychological differences, the Tathagata draws them into permanent bliss according to their mental tendencies. Understand clearly that the Buddha Nature embodied within sentient beings is inherently pure, like a sun underlaid by clouds. By just distinctly maintaining awareness of the True Mind, the clouds of false thoughts will go away, and the sun of wisdom will appear." (38)

   Do Buddhists only go to the third plane? // Maha Sunn

   A comment by one beloved and highly respected Sant Mat master, Sant Darshan Singh, that “Buddhists only go to the third plane,” (briefly discussed in Part One) I have always found rather perplexing. To me, as stated, it has no meaning. This is not a value judgement, but a statement of semantics. That is, I do not know what it means, and it therefore requires further clarification, and as far as I know he died without being asked to give a broader explanation. With all due respect, therefore, one might ask, “which Buddhists?” “Every Buddhist?” “Does anyone know all Buddhists?” Or, is there something specific about the Buddhist teaching and practice that limits one to reaching the third plane? There are, after all, different Buddhist schools with different cosmologies and metaphysics. Further, how would one recognize Buddha on the third plane, or any other plane - because he tells us so, or by his robes? No historical evidence of his appearance has ever been found. Historically, his image has never been recorded. So how to recognize him up there? To say that the Buddha, moreover, considered in some schools to be a planetary bodhisattva of the highest order, only had access to the level of what the Sants call the causal plane, seems unwarranted by any preliminary evidence.

   Furthermore, the Sants have referred to the Surangama Sutra, where the Buddha tells of his realized disciples and how they attained the "golden samadhi" through the process of 'intrinsic hearing', as evidence for the Buddha teaching about the Sound Current. The Buddha, moreover, went to great lengths discussing the realms of form, the formless realms, and the realizations 'beyond' these, including Nirvana. It is highly unlikely that he would be fooled by a visionary experience on an intermediate plane such as the causal - as defined by the Sants (which would be 'the mental ' or higher mental' according to some schemas such as in theosophy), or even an experiential and hence ‘objective’ void like Maha Sunn. Or is this opinion based on emptiness teachings, prominent In Buddhism, and assuming those practitioners would not be able to transcend the great void of darkness? Even the great Nagarjuna, originator of the emptiness teachings, criticized those “believers in emptiness who are incurable and get stuck in a self-condemned void.” So we go round and round. And then just recently I came upon this, which may or may not shed some light on this question.

   Kostas, a disciple in the esoteric Christian school of the Cypriote mystic Daskalos, in commenting on the prophecy of the Buddha that five hundred years after his death a greater being than he would incarnate to restore the teachings, says this:

   "The Buddha prophesied that within about five hundred years the Logos Itself would descend and incarnate within a human body. In other words, Buddha recognized that the average state of consciousness on our planet had reached such a level at that point it made possible and inevitable the logoic expression. The Buddha had reached the heights of the 'Third Heaven,' the point where he was beginning to transcend his human form.” (38a - important footnote)

   The term, Logos, does not appear in early Buddhist sutras. But assuming he is correct, we proceed by explaining that in Sant Mat there are four main inner planes leading to the fifth, the soul’s true home, Sach Khand, and three more transcendental planes after that. The fourth is sometimes considered to be the first of the spiritual planes. Sant Kirpal Singh, as mentioned, said that a soul must be “ushered into those higher planes.” And Christ is frequently referred to in Sant Mat as the Word or Logos made flesh, with the authority to take souls back to the Father. Could this be why it is claimed that Buddhists, broadly considered, do not go past the third plane? Interesting.

   Perhaps more likely is something like the reasoning of Shree Atmananda Krishnamenon who, while approaching this problem from a jyanin perspective, explained things regarding the realm of nothingness this way:

   “It will never be possible to transcend duality [by contemplating that everything is yourself, i.e., cosmic consciousness]...On the contrary, it will lead you to a state of nothingness where you will find yourself helplessly stranded and deprived of all power of initiative to go on.” (Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #1226) [Sounds a lot like Sant Mat where they speak of great souls stuck in Maha Sunn; the mind as a vehicle is gone, and the soul does not yet know itself or its ultimate discriminative power]

   “Whenever the concept of nothingness confronts you, take the thought that nothingness is also your own object, and that you are its perceiver, the ultimate subject, whose nature is Consciousness itself. Immediately, the shroud of nothingness disappears in the light of Consciousness, and it becomes one with the ‘I’ - principle.” [i.e., Atma] (Ibid, #187)

   It should be noted that Shree Atmananda is describing things from a direct path point of view, and not in an inner cosmological way as in Sant Mat, but nevertheless try to grasp the principles involved. The subtle realms are not his concern, but only the ultimate state where concepts or notions such as within and without do not apply. He further explains:

   “Q: Would the process of eliminating from me all that I am not, take me to my real nature and establish me there?

    A: Certainly it will do both, provided you have heard the ultimate Truth about your real nature from the lips of a Karana-guru. Otherwise you will get stranded in nothingness, mistaking it for the Ultimate; because the most experience of nothingness also gives you a reflected and limited peace or happiness.”

   Brunton seems to agree with the Sant Mat position, although speaking from a different l,philosophical perspective:

   “All other thoughts are banished by the single thought of the Void but this in turn cannot be got rid of by his own effort. The descent of grace is necessary for that.” (Notebooks, Vol. 15, Part 1, 8.112)

   “Nothingness” is one of the four higher Buddhist jhanas: infinite space, boundless consciousness, nothingness, beyond perception and non-perception - followed by nirvana. So it’s not like they never talked about it. Shree Atmananda continues:

   “[In the traditional method] one slowly ascends from the world always attributing reality to the objective. Proceeding this way they knock against a blank wall of ignorance, because they find no way to transcend duality.” (#936)

   Again, there is a need for a Master (and Naam) in Sant Mat at this stage, to get one past duality. It must be remembered that when one transcends the mental plane the idea of “inside” is also transcended just as the notion of outside” was transcended lower down. And in the void the ego is not there, so how can one go beyond without grace?

   “This void is the last link in the chain which binds you to the objective world. Its appearance in your spiritual sadhana is encouraging, since it forebodes the death-knell of the world of objects, of course in the light of knowledge.” (# )

   In Sant Mat this passage, through the aid of the Naam and the Satguru, said to be its embodiment, lands you in short order in Sach Khand, which could be said to be the first of the entirely non-objective realms, where attention is no longer projected outside of itself on an apparently objective inner panorama. The difference is that on the path of Sant Mat, due to the nature of the prior sadhana of dhyana, and where there appears to be a perceived gap in the sound current in Maha Sunn, a plane of silence, it now requires, as deviously mentioned, the enveloping aid of the Master to get the soul through this void. Whereas on the steep but direct path expounded by such sages like Atmananda it is vidya vritti or what he calls higher reason (‘higher’ even than buddhi - variously interpreted), and employed even from the beginning of ones sadhana, that accomplishes this task, and not in a disembodied mystical fashion. (see Notes on Spiritual Discourses for more on this)

   To wrap this consideration up, re Buddhists and the third plane, Atmananda also says:

   “Shri Buddha first analyzed the eternal objective world in the right yogic fashion, utilizing mind and intellect as instruments, and at the end reached what may from the phenomenal level be called void or nothingness. A negative can never subsist by itself. Much less can it be the source of positive things. That which was called void or nothingness has to be understood as Atma itself. Buddha must have gone beyond and reached the atmic principle himself. But Shri Buddha’s followers seem to have stopped short and interpreted the Ultimate to be that void or nothingness.” (Notes, #187)

   So it appears reasonable to assume that many among Buddhist practitioners, due to historical and philosophical constraints and preconceived notions may not “go beyond” the third plane. But it also seems reasonable to say that we cannot definitively conclude that about the Buddha himself.

   Has there, moreover, been no progress of Buddhism since the days of Gautama? So this is surely an intriguing question for further “research.” And so, a friend of mine writes in response to my request for further clarification on this question:

   “This belief of the Buddha/Buddhists only going to the third plane could result from a few possible sources. But, be that as it may, it is likely a good example of the dangers of when one tradition tries to assess the nature of another tradition based on their own approach, which often leads to misunderstandings.

   Yes, as you mentioned, for instance, the Buddha spoke of many 'planes' - the lower four being 'material' and the higher four being 'immaterial' or formless. Beyond all these he described a state called nirodha, which means cessation, where all awareness of samsara/maya/relativity - form and formless - is transcended in nirvana (same as nirodha). Though nirodha is considered something more akin to nirvikapla samadhi, which is a high trance-state realization, but the Buddha even taught that that was not the highest, since even a non-returner or third level vipassana realizer (one step below the arhat - the four stages being stream-enterer once-returner, non-returner, and arhat) could learn to access nirodha. Important to remember, too, that the Buddha taught that, with a practice like mindfulness or vipassana, it was not necessary to master inversion to reach liberation or nirvana.

   Especially interesting is that the Buddha also said that, as a non-returner, one was still not fully liberated from attachment to, and obscuration from, the formless states. But he did say that this deeper liberation was, indeed, accomplished by achieving arhatship - who had achieved a state in which nirodha/nirvana had been realized in the midst of daily life (jivanmukti - enlightened while embodied). So it is hard to imagine that, if this is true, that an arhat was limited to the third plane if they had been liberated from all the planes, even the formless!

   Luckily, grace and other paths do not require all these fancy practices :)

   I suspect that the Sikhs, having taken some, but rejected other, beliefs from both Hinduism and Buddhism, may be the source of this idea of Buddhist and the third plane. Because one belief that the Sikhs embraced was about avatars, but they rejected that they were realized masters. Instead they said that they were an expression of Kal, the ruler of the lower planes, and maintainer of lower spirituality in the world (Krishna saying 'when righteousness in the world declines, I return'). So since karma, right and wrong, and such are of Kal and the causal plane, then the Sikhs taught that all the great avatars, in which they include Krishna, Christ and the Buddha, were products of Kal and limited to the third plane! Buddhists, incidentally, generally dismiss the Hindu claim that the Buddha was an avatar, even though I don't personally believe avatars are limited to the third plane anyway.

   Also, a common misunderstanding of the terms emptiness (sunyata), void, etc. from Buddhism is that they refer to either some version of the formless planes, such as mahasunn, or the Buddhist third formless state ('nothingness'), and so on. But the Buddha was very clear that one should be careful not to confuse emptiness or nirvana with any of these planes. It was 'beyond' not only the physical and subtle, material planes, but also all four formless planes. In fact, in many schools of Buddhism, emptiness or sunyata is the very nature of all planes. Not a particular plane in itself. This is why it is not necessary to practice inversion in Buddhism to realize emptiness or buddha-nature.

   Hope that helps!”

   Finally, to argue for the position that in Buddhism higher states than the causal plane and Maha Sunn are accounted for, there is the following quote from a Mahayana Buddhist text as excerpted in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Volume 14, 4.181):

   “There are four successive stages of piercing in reality, identical in sleep and dying. The first, ‘Revelation,’ is experienced in the earliest period of sleep, and appears as a moonlit cloudless sky. The drowsiness deepens and ‘Augmentation’ is reached. It appears as brilliant clear sunlight. Few can go beyond this into the third stage, ‘Immediate Attainment.’ Here is total darkness. It vanishes when sleep gets deeper still, then the Void is penetrated, called ‘Innate Light,’ the first clear radiance. The student thus passes into Reality and Enlightenment, whether in the nightly death of sleep or the end of human life.”

   Few pass into sleep or die as consciously as the potential implied here portrays, but the parallel with the successive stages of Sant Mat are evident: ‘moonlight,’ ‘sunlight’, thick darkness, then the clear light of Sach Khand - the first entry into the true Void. The stages thus appear archetypal in nature and are found in different religions.

   There are also numerous interesting passages in the Holy Bible that appear to refer to this darkness and void that precede Self/God-Realization. St. John of the Cross mentions many of them:

   “David also said that clouds and darkness are near God and surround him [Ps. 18:11], not because this is true in itself, but because it appears thus to our weak intellects, which in being unable to attain so bright a light are blinded and darkened. Hence he next declared that clouds passed before the great splendor of his presence [Ps. 18:12], that is between God and our intellect.”
(The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk 2, chapter 6.3)

   “Drawing nearer to him, so has she greater experience within herself of the void of God, of very heavy darkness, and of spiritual fire that dries us and purges her so that this purified she may be United with him. Inasmuch as God does not communicate some supernatural ray of light from himself, he is intolerable darkness to her when he is spiritually near her, but the excess of supernatural light darkens the natural light. David indicated all this when he said: Clouds and darkness are round about him; fire goes before him [Ps. 97:2-3]. And in another psalm he asserts: He made darkness his covert and hiding place, and his tent round about him is dark water in the clouds of the air; because of his great splendor there are in his presence clouds, hail, and coals of fire [Ps. 18:12-13], that is, for the soul drawing near him. As the soul comes closer to him, and until God introduces her into his divine splendors through transformation of love, she experiences within herself all that David described. In the meanwhile, like Job, she exclaims over and over: Who will grant me to know him and find him and come into his throne? [Job 23:3]

   In reference to this latter statement, Sant Kirpal Singh said that to enter the higher spiritual planes “one must be ushered into them.” Although many great souls find the peace of Maha Sunn attractive and get stranded there, for others the depth of their yearning finds them bonded with the saving grace of their Godman to ferry them across this final, albeit illusory, barrier to their True Home.

   St. John continues:

   “Faith is the proximate and proportionate means to the intellect for the attainment of the divine union of love...For the likeness of faith and God is so close that no other difference exists than that between believing in God and seeing him...The greater one’s faith the closer is one’s union with God...The darkness under God’s feet and of his hiding place and the dark water of his dwelling [Ps. 18:10-11] denote the obscurity of faith in which he is enclosed...Above these is his being, which no one can reach through human effort.” (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk. 2, Chapter 9)

   Fenelon also says:

   “It is the mystery of mysteries, where all is so hidden, so obscure, so incomprehensible, that the more spiritual and enlightened one is, the more faith is required to believe it...In that passive state of pure faith all that God communicates partakes of the nature of that inaccessible darkness that surrounds his throne." (Letters of Counsel)

   Thus we see that from whatever outlook or tradition, be it Sant Mat, Christian, or Advaitic; whether viewed mystically or otherwise; there is a dark void or nothingness the soul confronts before transcending duality, through either deep faith or deep understanding.

   Without pursuing it further - chiefly because it is even more beyond my capacity than all of the preceding! - two things may be noted. First, in his book, The Mystery of Death, in describing the path through the inner realms Sant Kirpal Singh, referring to theosophist Annie Besant, says there are formless heavens even in the highest reaches of Anda, the subtle planes, specifically the mental plane. On the highest of these “they enjoy their self-consciousness to the highest point but are not yet endowed with cosmic-consciousness” (p. 108) - or “Super-Cosmic-consciousness,” which supposedly comes after the void of Maha Sunn. So there appear to be a number of formless dimensions and/or voids to contend with (as mentioned in Part One, twenty-something on the way to Sach Khand!). And, second, it is mentioned in the Sant Mat teachings (also see Part One) that there are deceptive copies of various inner planes, and hard to believe, even Sach Khand, that Kal is permitted to manifest to deceive a soul. This, need it be said, may complicate the predicament of the aspiring seeker, and makes the case on this path for the necessity of the guidance and saving grace of a true godman even more imperative.


   We may as well touch on a related topic here, briefly explored earlier, which is the apparently profound difference in attitude towards the state of deep sleep between Sant Mat and Vedanta. Only briefly, because any more, once again, is beyond our capacity, and moreover the two perspectives are so different. In Sant Mat it is said, speaking objectively - that is, from the perspective of the waking state - that during dream the attention goes down to the throat center and during deep sleep it descends further to the gullet or navel. It is considered from a spiritual perspective an undesirable state of unconsciousness.

   In Vedanta, there is agreement on the unconscious aspect and the spiritual valuelessness - for the usual man - but

   “if correctly understood, deep sleep is evidently your real nature. It is, strictly speaking, no state at all, and is way beyond any samadhi.” (Atmananda, Notes, #1034)

   Further, he says:

   Q: Why does not the experience of deep sleep help one spiritually? - Because the ordinary man looks upon deep sleep objectively. If deep sleep loses its sense of objectivity and becomes subjective, you are free.” (#946)

   This is deep advaita. How to realize it?

   Brunton writes:

   “Sleep is a condition which nature imposes on man. No one, not even the sage, can alter its general course and therefore even the sage has to accept this condition as an inevitable part of his human lot. But if he is to attain full self-realization, this must eventually pertain to his sleeping state as much as to his waking state, else it will not be what its name suggests.”

   “Although the sage withdraws with the onset of sleep from wakeful awareness, he does not withdraw from all awareness. A pleasurable and peaceful sense of impersonal being is left over. In this he rests throughout the night.”

   “When we remember that all living creatures from ant to man are plunged into intermittent sleep for substantial portions of their whole lives, how can we grasp the meaning of their existence and the meaning of the universe of which they are parts, without examining the full meaning and proper value of sleep states? Whatever we learn from a single state alone may always be liable to contradiction by the facts of another state. Therefore unless we coordinate and evaluate the truth of the waking state with the truth of the sleep state we cannot hope to arrive at ultimate truth in its fullness. But when we venture to make such a coordination we shall discover that in sleep there lies the master-key of life and death!”
(Notebooks, Vol.13, Part 1, 3.139, 3.129, 3.19)

   The position in Vedanta can be therefore be said to be from the ‘subjective’ point of view of the sage; not, it might be argued, from the ‘objective’ view of a saint in the overhead planes, as usually understood. No doubt many such advanced souls spend little time in sleep, but are we to assume that they spend no time there, but only enjoy the inner ascended states - as they often seem to do in their waking hours? Even Kirpal Singh said he slept, “an hour or two.” At another time when someone told him that Darshan Singh, who later earned the appellation “the sleepless Saint”, said “fifteen minutes should be enough!” But sleep and samadhi are not the same. And a sage is not automatically a saint, nor is a saint automatically a sage.

   So how to compare the two camps? It seems very difficult, as they employ different sadhanas, and so we will leave it at that, risking incurring the ire of the reader. But it seems too important just to ignore. Maybe someone can complete these cursory introductory notes on this issue. [More on sleep later on]

   . . . . . . . . . . .

   Moving on, the following quote may hurt. PB states:

   "The sage has conquered separativeness in his mind and realized the ALL as himself. The logical consequence is tremendous. It follows that there is no liberation from the round of births and rebirths for the sage; he has to go through it like the others. Of course, he does this with full understanding whereas they are plunged in darkness. But if he identifies himself with the All, then he can't desert but must go on to the end, working for the liberation of others in turn. This is his crucifixion, that being able to save others he is unable to save himself. "And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, `And he was numbered with the transgressors.' Why? Because compassion rules him, not the ego. Nobody is likely to want such a goal (until, indeed he is almost ready for it) so it is usually kept secret or symbolized. Again: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (39)

   Advaitic sage Shri Atmananda expressed things this way:

   “I have never told you that you will never be reborn. I have only said that you will be rid of the illusion that you were ever born or will die.” (Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #735)

   Ramana Maharshi and others, even Darshan Singh, have also said that they would come back again and again to help apparent other souls.

   As Kirpal said, "one bulb is replaced with another." Sant Mat believes the Satguru is an incarnation eternally present on the earth, "giving food for the hungry and water for the thirsty," as Christ said.

   As previously mentioned, there is some merit to the concept of a lineage, where each master watches each other’s back, so to speak, thus maintaining the purity of the transmission, even when a particular master is not yet fully developed. A teacher or Master may in fact still be a true and effective agent of Grace without the ability to advise one in all areas of life or practice; in such cases, one will inevitably be moved out of inner necessity to exercise and develop his intelligence in many matters and seek guidance, with all due love and respect to the primary master of his heart, from other sources as required, and without fear or paranoia about "Kal" or anything else. In traditional devotional paths this independence and self-reliance has usually been considered taboo, but in the age we are living in that is increasingly becoming a no longer viable or believable point of view. The Divine Mind seems to be leading us on a path of evolution and to develop all of ones faculties is part of that evolution. And there is a higher purpose behind this.

   To teach outside the religious and cultural expectations of tradition when needed requires skill, knowledge, and courage. Sant Kirpal did so, with some. Sant Darshan Singh, to his credit, seemed to be moving in that direction, but once admitted, bless his soul, that he “was old-fashioned”. Perhaps he was referring to personal moral codes and such, perhaps not. I was not his personal disciple so I cannot say. He did write that when all is said and done, one must come to the point of surrender. With that there can be no argument. But there is no question that the public message of Sant Mat in general continues to be simply “go in and up”. For some this works, but for many, apparently not so well. There are many, many souls who have meditated faithfully for years and been disheartened with the results. This may not all be attributed to a lack of patience and perseverance or the difficulty of the ordeal, although that can’t be ruled out. Hazrat Inayat Khan told a story of a man who had meditated for years and was disheartened with his progress.The man’s father told him that he practiced for forty years with the same result and was told to pray for a miracle. One day the miracle occured and he broke through into the light. In Sant Mat a big emphasis is placed on the stage of man-making and the working-off of karma. It is sometimes said that ninty-five per cent of the grace is withheld until the time of one’s death, and that is when one will see the full glory of one’s Master. Still, some ‘cash in hand’ is promised even from the beginning.

   In the July 2007 issue of Sat Sandesh magazine Sant Rajinder spoke about how we should meditate because we will see the glorious inner realms and have bliss and peace, and that another benefit is that we will see our relatives and realize that they, too, are in a better place of peace and joy. Kirpal Singh's book, Mystery of Death, does not promise that everyone just by dying is in a better place, at least not for good. You have some vivid but dream-like experiences for a while (with those not under the protection of the master and not very 'conscious' during life, passing in and out of the dream); perhaps, as taught in certain schools, do some past-life processing and even current karmic integration, but then eventually pass into a pleasant sleep, and then are reborn until you get it right or wake up. One isn't in the clear just by dying! But the promise of the masters for devoted disciples at least is protection of your dear ones for up to seven generations both past and future.

   One may chose to disbelieve this. It may remain a matter of the heart’s assurance. For us seven generations is a bit hard to visualize. But with God, what is impossible?

   I am reminded of a story about Ramana Maharshi. A man came to him distraught about a son who had passed away. He wanted Ramana to tell him if he would see his son again when he died. Ramana didn't answer him, and the man relentlessly implored him to promise him that he would again see his son when he died. Finally after a long time Ramana said, "yes." When the man left, Ramana turned to one of his advanced devotees and said, "what could I say? If I had said "no" the man's faith would have been shaken to its roots."

   Sri Nisargadatta, in the midst of speaking about the point of view of the jnani, also confessed to using such consoling words when dealing with souls of less understanding:

"Q: Imagine you are ill -- high fever, aches, shivers. The doctor tells you the condition is serious, there are only a few days to live. What would be your first reaction?
M: No reaction. As it is natural for the incense stick to burn out, so it is natural for the body to die. Really, it is a matter of very little importance. What matters is that I am neither the body nor the mind. I am.
Q: Your family will be desperate, of course. What would you tell them?
M: The usual stuff: fear not, life goes on, God will protect you, we shall be soon together again and so on. But to me the entire commotion is meaningless, for I am not the entity that imagines itself alive or dead. I am neither born nor can I die. I have nothing to remember or to forget...
Q: How does the jnani fare after death?
M: The jnani is dead already. Do you expect him to die again?
Q: Surely, the dissolution of the body is an important event even to a jnani.
M: There are no important events for a jnani, except when somebody reaches the highest goal. Then only his heart rejoices. All else is of no concern. The entire universe is his body, all life is his life. As in a city of lights, when one bulb burns out, it does not affect the network, so the death of a body does not affect the whole."

   The saints, after all, promise help and protection for family members of initiates, not their permanent residence in an after-death plane. They have their own path to go through in due course. Still, stories like this are found in the Sant Mat literature; a man of whose father died wrote of his master Kirpal Singh:

   “As I looked at Him, His head was one mass of bright Light. I could not distinguish His face. Two or three days later I asked Him about my father: not being an initiate, I was worried what would become of him. “But you are his son, and you are an initiate. He will be looked after. Why do you worry?” Maharaj Ji inquired. “Will he again get human birth?” I asked. “And what if he does not need to come back at all?” (“A Servant in His Household,” from Ocean of Divine Grace)

   Stories like these are wonderful, yet how many of us are interested in hearing the truth for its own sake? Let us not judge masters too prematurely, for messages are given to many, many people of different background, understanding, and readiness. Paul Brunton wrote, and this may sting, too:

   “This goal must not be mistaken, however, for the orthodox Hindu or Buddhist goal of liberation from the cycle of rebirths. The philosophic aspirant seeks liberation only from mental and emotional bondage to the experiences of these rebirths. He does not hate earthly life nor desire to disappear utterly in the universal life. Unlike the ordinary Oriental ascetic or mystic he is content to come back to earth again and again, provided he can come back with wisdom, understanding and compassion, and participate effectively and selflessly in human affairs. For he knows that death and birth, earth and heaven, are but changes in idea, and that in reality there is one unchanging existence which is birthless and deathless and everlasting. The world is for ever changing, but the flow of changes is itself permanent. Therefore we can find the Eternal here in this world as well as in the supra-mundane realm...”

   “Ultimately we may continue to exist no longer as finite beings, only as the Absolute itself. The person is absorbed into its impersonal source. This deprives immortality of all human meaning. The instinct of self preservation holds us all in so powerful a thrall that we demand its satisfaction even after we have renounced the transient mortal life. For then there is no impress on the universal life, nothing to show in the vast void of the Absolute that the individual has even existed at all. But we as egos shall not pass into nothingness when we finish this pilgrimage from outward existence to inward Essence. We shall pass inwardly into a state where we shall not be involved in time space change as humanly known, a state where they become meaningless terms. This state is as undeniable by a being in it as it is impenetrable by those who stand outside it. But it exists. It is not annihilation, it is the fullness of being.”

   “From this final standpoint there can exist no such process as the cyclic whirl of reincarnation. All births on earth are then seen to be appearances of one and the same thing. The thing is known to be the reality, and its appearances are known to be its shadows. But before this high level is reached man thinks in his ignorance that he has a wholly separate existence from all other men, that he is a finite individual who must be born again and again on earth until he attains the being of the Overself, and that the Overself and he are two things, separate and apart.”

   Rajinder Singh also has said that merger in God is not the annihilation of ones identity, but rather immersion in all the love, joy, and wisdom of God.

   So I sense that Sant Rajinder was speaking to someone or some particular group of people in his talk for which such a consoling message was a help. Sort of like "Mr. Rogers". Watching Mr. Rogers (God rest his soul) was a humbling experience. A cynical person like myself could never pull off what he did. He was incredible. So, too, the Masters have their amazing play and often there is little to say about why they do what they do. Sooner or later master-teachers say almost everything, to one person or another. In this instance, however, was such a statement of Sant Rajinder's the literal "truth" ? The answer is, for the Sant Mat initiate, it is said that their close relations and loved ones (even to seven generations past) are also given the boon of the Living Master’s help, and are not at the mercy of Kal, or the angel of death, the Lord of the three worlds within which souls recycle endlessly until they meet the Master.

   We are fully aware that some will cringe at what seems like the exclusivity of such a teaching, while others will shed tears of joy.

   From the point of view of the higher philosophy, it is all illusion. But it is as real as we seem to be until realization.

   "Nobody is born or dies at any time; it is the mind that conceives its birth and death and its migration to other bodies and other worlds." - Yoga Vasishta

   In any case, before leaving this section we would be sorely amiss if we did not resolutely declare that Sant Rajinder Singh is a noble Sant Mat Master, as the following story affirms:

   WHEN I was initiated in 1972, my Master, Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj, was the most powerful personality I had ever seen. His intellect, grace, beauty—and most of all, his radiance—were startling. Experiencing awe and marveling at the power of his presence, I knew I had met a great holy man. Leaving his presence after following him on his tour of the U.S. for three months was one of the hardest partings I had ever known. I had never really wanted to go to India before, but in 2003 I was filled with an irrepressible desire to visit Manav Kendra in Dehradun, so see where the great Kirpal had built a spiritual center and walked for many years. I went in October and spent ten days at the ashram in Delhi before Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj left for the U.S. In those ten days, I saw Master Rajinder minister to tens of thousands of people. Continuously, he blessed the new babies and new couples, provided comfort to those who were ailing or grieving, met the families of initiates, listened to the cares of mothers, laughed with the young people. He delighted everyone with fireworks on the holiday of Diwali and enriched us with powerful discourses. He traveled dusty, smog-filled roads for hours to meet the thousands waiting for him in a distant town. He smiled at their offering of songs and blessed them with initiation into the light and sound. And he took no steps to keep them away from him when the joy they felt could not be restrained by boundary ropes or sevadars (volunteers). He gave, gave, and gave. Every time of day or night, he could be found walking among the waiting crowds who were sitting or sleeping at his doorstep. No one was left out. No one was turned away. He came to fulfill all their wishes of him.

   The last day, I waited at his door for him to bless us all before he left for his flight. When he crossed the threshold, the sound of a great and powerful engine preceded him, a hum so loud and strong, it seemed to vibrate in everything and everyone around me—but it was radiating from him! I had never heard the Sound current like this before.

   After I left the ashram, the Sound remained. It shook me in a way that was exhilarating. I realized that the Master was showing me this Sound, and I know I had never been ready for this type of revelation before. It would have startled me had I been shown this at any other time. The Sound was him. He was everywhere. It stayed with me all the next day as friends and I traveled around Delhi, sometimes so loud it seemed to shake everything around me. I was joyful, almost giddy at times. It was in me and yet everywhere else at the same time. Only the Sound—nothing else—seemed real. I felt certain now that the Sound was a precursor to meeting the radiant spiritual form of Sant Kirpal Singh Ji at Manav Kendra, if I could just hold on till the next day. Sant Rajinder Singh had said to me, “I hope that you have a wonderful, wonderful time in Dehradun.” Surely this Sound was taking me to Master Kirpal in Dehradun. The next morning when I awoke, the Sound was gone. I travelled, with my two dear companions, the six hours by train to Dehradun and was greeted there by an initiate who graciously offered his home for us to stay in. His home was right next to a bungalow where Master Kirpal [wrote his many books on spirituality]. My anticipation of walking where he stepped was like that of a child waiting for Christmas morning. I was certain now that when I stood where his feet once touched, I would know what is meant by complete enlightenment!

   I went to the bungalow. I saw his daybed, the books he read, and the glasses I recalled seeing in his hand when he spoke in the U.S. The sun filtered through the window, reflecting off the dust particles in the air. But there was no Sound.

   The next morning, I awoke early and walked to Sant Kirpal Singh’s home on Rajpur Road. There was his cane, and there was the wicker chair in which he was pictured in so many Sat Sandesh photos. In the lovingly tended gardens, I sat at the edge of the ravine where he often sat in meditation. This was sweet and somewhat solemn and interesting—like going to Thomas Jefferson’s home or Carl Sandburg’s, where the carefully preserved remembrances inspire respect. But there was no Sound. The lively power and radiance that seemed to burst and bubble around Sant Rajinder Singh Ji was not here. While in Dehradun, I went to Manav Kendra and walked in all the places where Sant Kirpal Singh Ji once walked. I experienced the beautiful stars in the clear sky of Dehradun and the butterflies and flowers blooming everywhere in the gardens surrounding his room there. All this was lovely. But I didn’t find the face of the Master.

   What I found most of all was something I did not anticipate. I found without question that the Power of the Master is a living thing. It is not a memory. It does not exist in a place of pilgrimage or in things made of stone. I realized that as wonderful as our precious memories can be, the Power of the Master resides in the living Master. It emanates from the living form. It is from the living Master that the Power flows and is awakened in us. I came to India to find that the Master Power is not a memory in a far place but is always with us. It is alive and given freely to all who open their hands. I found that what I was looking for has always been with me and will never leave me. That Power is my true place of pilgrimage.
- xxxxx

   33a. "Mystic Anubhava" vs. "Samyagnana"

   An important section - forthcoming

   34. Eradication of Karmas in Sant Mat

   Once more, there is the issue of purification of karmas, and/or vasanas or egoic tendencies to clear up. The general Sant Mat answer to this is rather unique. In the lineage it is sometimes said that the sanchit karmas, that is, the vasanas and karmas, from time immemorial are eradicated forever by the Master at the time of initiation. However, upon a closer look it is clear that this is a not quite correct interpretation. What they promise is that at the time of initiation the sanchit storehouse of karmas is transferred from the control of 'Dharam Raj', the Lord of Death, or the 'Lords of Karma', to the Master-Power for future dispensation, and the promise given is that the initiate will have no more than four more lives until he reaches Sach Khand. (This in itself is a stupendous boon, as even the Buddha said that the "stream-enterer" would usually have up to seven more births before reaching nirvana - if in fact reaching nirvana and Sach Khand are the same). Obviously, if the sanchit karmas were completely eradicated, no future births in which to do spiritual practice and eradicate egoic-vasanas would be possible. Because more progress in doing this can be achieved on this earth-plane in a far shorter time than on higher planes (where the equivalent progress takes “ten times as long,” or “years instead of months”, being some of the ways this has been described). Sant Darshan Singh and other Masters have said that this is in fact one of the main reasons a Master may chose another earth-life for a soul. But

   “Masters take the entire picture into account and give the maximum possible benefit to the soul. They usually place the souls on the inner planes. The soul remains there and meditates, and in due course the Master takes the soul to higher and higher stages, according to the soul’s progress, until it reaches its Eternal Home. Finally, after passing through the higher stages, the soul attains ultimate communion with God. This is how the Master takes care of a disciple.”

   The Master’s grace is all in all, however, and can alter many seeming necessities.

   The pralabd karmas, those making up this lifetime, are left alone, otherwise one would die at the time of initiation. The kriyaman (in Hinduism called agami) karmas are those one accumulates in this life from day to day by wrong living, and are supposedly kept to a minimum by meditation, moral actions, selfless service, and eating a vegetarian diet. It is said that if one does this adequately with full faith, then either during life or after death when the Master takes one through the pool of Manasrovar in the upper or supra-causal plane of Daswan Dwar where one sheds his causal body, all one's karma from time immemorial (already in the process of being burnt out or scorched by communing with the Shabd or Naam) are then said to be definitively wiped out forever. Otherwise, if this has not been reached, the accumulated kriyaman karma may require another birth to be purified.

   This will, no doubt, raise the hair on the neck of the confirmed advaitin, who may not even believe in the concept of karma. So be it. To them it might be said, "see you next life." Vedanta, however, usually does believe in karma. Additionally, however, on the path of Sant Mat it is also said that if one has no overwhelming desires left and is devoted to the Master, he may decide that you need not take another human birth, but can continue progressing from the higher planes. However again, it is also said that one can progress more rapidly on earth than up above (another analogy given is hundreds of years up there compared to a few years down here), and that is one of the reasons the Master may choose another more congenial-to-spiritual-progress human birth for the disciple. And there is a necessary preliminary process of "scrubbing" undergone by most disciples through the agency of the Master and Life itself:

   "The Guru may give happiness or misery, for he has to make a beautiful form from a rough piece of stone and therefor has to wind up the karmas; but a true follower will never complain, no matter what condition he has to face in life - no matter what hardships the Guru allows...The Guru does allow a long rope, in order to test the disciple's depth in the water, but he never leaves him." (Kirpal Singh, Sat Sandesh, February 1972)

   More on the importance of human birth and the waking state for realisation of truth.

   This is a major topic which deserves an article all its own. It can be discussed from many aspects and levels. Moreover, different traditions have their own reasons for declaring birth in a man-body a precious boon, and the only form in which one can achieve self and/or god-realization.

   There are really two issues: (1) what is unique about a human birth, and (2) what is unique about attaining awakening while alive in the waking state.

   Brunton writes:

   “Both Hindu and Buddhist teachers concur in regarding the human creature as being the most fortunate of all living creatures, because he alone has the potential and opportunity to become spiritually “aware.”


   “Every life in the fleshly body represents an opportunity to obtain spiritual realisation because man can only discover his divinity to the fullest extent while in the waking state.” (Vol. 2, Part One, 1.127-1.128)

   “Here, in this wakeful state, on this physical plane, we may move towards the fulfillment of life’s higher purpose. But in ever-changing dream or ever-still sleep there is no such opportunity. Hence the New Testament suggests that we will work “whilst it is day, for the night comedy when no man can work.” -John 9:4.

   “Waking world is the crux. Realization must be won here and now.”
(Vol. 13, Part 1, 3.29-30)

   “We must look for eternity in the present moment now, and not in some far off afterlife. We must seek for infinity here, in this place, and not in a psychic world beyond the physical body.” (Ibid, 4.216)

   The latter quote may appear to be a bitter pill in that it seems to flat out contradict the Sant Mat position, but does it actually do so? Much pondering is required. For instance, how can a saint be said to “go to Sach Khand in the blink of an eye, as Sawan Singh said, ” if he is not in some sense already there?

   Kabir said:

   O friend! hope for Him whilst you live, know whilst you live,
    understand whilst you live: for in life deliverance abides.
   If your bonds be not broken whilst living, what hope of
    deliverance in death?
   It is but an empty dream, that the soul shall have union with Him
    because it has passed from the body:
   If He is found now, He is found then...
   If you have union now, you shall have it hereafter.”
- trans. Rabindranath Tagore

   Sri Nisargadatta’s guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, similarly said:

   “Some say that you will attain Brahman only after death. However, when you do not attain it while living, how can you attain it after death? What is the proof of experience that that is the case? Who can give that proof? One fool says, “How can we be free now at this moment? When the world comes to an end, then liberation is there automatically.” These fools do not realize that when one world ends, another is bound to come into being. It is stupid to say that attaining Brahman will be there as a matter of course when the illusion vanishes, or when the body dies. Only one who is beyond the body while actually in it, and who does not perceive the illusion, has achieved “the happiness of the state of Brahman.” This must be attained while we are living in the body. When one really understands he enjoys the body as well as the world.” (source misplaced)

   However, we have the assurance of Siddharameshwar that ”Those whom the Saints bless become Brahman. If your bow down to a Saint only once with full faith, he will make you like himself.” Sant Mat gives the same assurance, with the additional pledge that for the sincere initiate there is continued progress after death and an unbroken connection with his Master. As mentioned earlier, this does not definitively rule out another birth, however. But then,

   “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” -Psalms 23:6

   Does all of this contradict some of what was said in the section on sleep? No, it highlights that the complete non-dual sahaja state is achieved in waking life alone wherein the different states are understood and are no longer in opposition to each other. This would be similar, we venture to say, that in Sant Mat the furthest realization comes after one has reached the innermost state, Anami, and then realizes in the fully projected waking state that it is of the same nature as that Anami. And this could be said to be a practice until stabilization in that condition is achieved. In Zen - not to equate two different schools - they speak of the “practice after Satori, or the “downward practice.” Most saints and sages and high spiritual traditions mention this stage where the inner with the outer are reconciled. Guru Nanak in the Jap Ji hailed the “One Unmanifest-Manifest, the Primal, Pure, Eternal of All Ages.” Brunton writes:

   “Only for the sage is the truth always present, no matter whether he is with others, whether he is working, or whether he is in trance, and this truth is continuous awareness of one Reality alone and one Self alone.” (Vol. 13, Part 1, 3.40)

   Whether the adept continues to enjoy or go into samadhis because of a prior habit, or because of the unique scope of his work, the essential factor is his awareness of and abidance in Reality at all times. When someone, for instance, once asked Sant Kirpal Singh if he still meditated, he replied, “Look here, if someone has got his PhD does he have to go back and learn the ABC’s?”

   Brunton also offers an interesting quote that may, perhaps, shed some additional light on this overall consideration:

   “The term “waking state” suggests the actual moments of passing from one state to the other, the transition itself, and is therefore inaccurate to describe as a static condition. Hence I try to use the term “wakefulness” or the “wakeful” state instead.” (Vol. 13, Part 1, 3.31)

   The reason this may be of interest is because the Sants describe penetrating to the higher planes in “full wakefulness,” as contrasted with the relative vagueness of the dream or usual after-life experience. That is to say, in deep meditation, or before birth, we are essentially “not here.” So why did we come here, and why is it essential, as nearly all saints and sages agree, if being “there” were the goal? The Sants also stress the biblical passage quoted above, i.e., “work while it is day,” - that is, while “here,” but often seem to imply inner experience as the be-all and end-all. One reason that is given is that here one has the anchor of the body, in which to compare and contrast both dimensions, while inside everything, at least at the lower levels, is fluid and therefore difficult to discern. It appears that the inner experiences to be truly understood must be repeatedly held up or seen in contrast to the ordinary waking condition, and that something fundamental is gained thereby. It is not enough merely to go “there” and bask in the relative superlative effulgence of the inner states. This is hard for the usual mystic to understand. This is not to put down such a lofty achievement. It is a necessary stage on many paths. We were already “there,” however, exactly why did we need to come here? Just to pay off karma, or build character - or to understand? For all of these, but the latter, specifically, sages say the human waking state is necessary. But it may be said that only a supremely rational consciousness, or one with the utmost balanced development and complete surrender, is capable of seeing beyond the ecstatic states. In Buddhism, for instance, the inward progression is: calmness, ecstasy, peace, insight, and then Nirvana. And it is significant that the Buddha experienced his passage into Nirvana at daybreak as he came out of his meditation. This, the waking state was a key to his final realization. It was not achieved while in trance, as necessary as that may be in a preliminary sense. Is the same thing not the case on the path of Sant Mat? That everything is to be experienced as reality in full wakefulness? There is much to be pondered here.

   Returning to the first of these ideas, the human birth, numerous traditions argue that only humans have the capacity to reflect and learn to discriminate about their experiences and also then yearn to transcend them. This is often exemplified by the parable of the prodigal son. Sant Mat has a couple of variations on this theme regarding how souls were caused to “fall” from their original true home in Sach Khand. Sufism has a version, and esoteric Christianity has an elaborate version. For example, Stylianos Atteshlis, aka Daskalos, 20th century Christian mystic and esotericist, writes:

   “Prior to passing through the Human Idea, humanity is an Archangel within the Archangelic Orders. Before their expression, Human Beings and Archangels, as Holy Monads (Spirits), differ little from each other. Later, however, when they (humans) return to be within Absolute Beingness, the difference is great. Archangels cannot obtain Super Self-consciousness in any of their expressions. This is because they have their Being within the Eternal Now and are exposed to various experiences without being able to make comparisons. Conversely, Human Beings as Prodigal Children are fully exposed to the worlds of duality, and are therefore able to develop a keen sense of individuated Self-consciousness. Such considerations inspired Paramahansa Yogananda to say, ‘The human form is higher that the angel form. Man is the highest being in Creation because he aspires to freedom’.

   It is the Soul which distinguishes humans from other Beings, for Archangels have no need of a Soul as they each belong to a communal Order. It is the Soul that harbors the Divine Individuation of each human Spirit-Soul-Ego when we return to our Father. The Soul is the womb of Super Self-consciousness.”
(Esoteric Practice, pgs. 32-3)

   The Sant Mat versions of this prodigality of the soul are discussed in the section “Marked souls and the fall” under “Conclusions” near the end of this article.

   Sant Mat, Hindu, and, to some extent Buddhism, speak of this world as the field in which to pay karmic debts so one can ascend higher. That is another benefit of a human birth. The formation of karma requires conscious volition, which is largely a human characteristic. As deviously mentioned, in Sant Mat while we (one’s vasanas) are certainly purified in the waking state, the Sanchit storehouse of karmas or samskaras from time immemorial determining rebirths) are fully eradicated when the purified soul passes through the pool of manasarovar in Daswan Dwar on their inward ascent, through the grace of the Master Power.

   Advaitic sages like Ramana Maharshi, on the other hand, speak differently about this issue of karmas and samskaras: they say it is an (often long and drawn out) affair that must occur in the waking state, whereby the vasanas (tendencies or complexes) of egoity are scorched not exclusively by mystical inversion but rather by checking them in consciousness as they arise and returning consciousness to its source. That is, a process of recognizing that one's desire are fundamentally ideas, then, understanding that ideas arise from mind, and therein gradually overcoming attachment, objectification, and compulsive extroversion. This process, it is said, may and usually needs to go on even after the attainment of mystical experiences. That is to say, the consciousness, and oneness, must become stabilized or known under any and all conditions, and, most essentially, in the fully embodied waking state. It is easy to feel 'detached' from the basis of enjoying mystical states, but not so easy when in the body and not having access to such 'sweets.' The Sants often give the argument that the very reason for having a contact within, or mystical experiences, is to detach one from the 'outer enjoyments'. However, the world must then also be known (to be not separate from the Self), and not just avoided. This argument is essential to advaita. So mere introversion, they say, is not a permanent solution. According to vedanta this is the purpose of yoga: to purify the mind and render it fit for inquiry into the Self, not for the various changing states one may attain thereby . One can see how, in a way, the exclusive pursuit of inner experiences does not automatically purify the habitual tendencies, but may in fact be a bypass of a necessary transformation of the lower nature. It depends entirely on an individual's particular needs how far that process has to go, but it seems likely that the important fixed habitual tendencies (vasanas) must be scorched or purified while here in the body - even while the entire sanchit storehouse may be eradicated, as the Sants say, when the soul passes through Daswan Dwar on its upward assent. The point is that something is missing in our understanding if we think that there will be an automatic purification of all karmas simply by mystic meditation.

   The world is not separate from Atman, Self, or God, and it must be realized as such. How can one realize that it is not separate from oneself if he is always tending towards dissociation from it? This is the problem. Not only does the desire nature need to be transformed, but the cognitive tendencies or mental habits of objectification must be undone. That is to say, in blank trance there is nothing to know; only in the full waking state can one learn to see everything like a dream, as the mind's own creations, and then fundamentally as not other than oneself, i.e., that there is 'no second thing', or, as Kirpal said, "what you see is you." One other way this might be expressed, somewhat paradoxically, is to say that 'if you know the body is not real while in the body, then you really know it.' Or, 'if you know that you are not really in the body while you are in the waking state, apparently while in the body, then you really know it.' If you only know it when in trance, then the knowledge is not firm or clear knowledge. Might this all be one reason Sants like me Kirpal Singh say it takes hundreds of years inside to accomplish what can take much less time on earth. Why: that it is harder to see everything as a dream on the inside - as in fact there everything seems more real?! While without realization it is really dreamlike. But as experiences on earth are etched in stone, as it were - with lessons hard-won- if one comes to see the world as dreamlike, it is easier to see the inner in the same light, as equally unreal. (Or, at a later state, perhaps equally real?) Here there seems a divergence: mysticism often portrays the subtle realms as more real than the physical, while vedanta argues they are equally unreal. The question of Sach Khand or the Atman are a different story...

   The point may be raised, “to what extent are you really in the waking state when you are in deep meditation?” They may call it superconsciousness, but the vedantin will argue that it is really dreamlike or sleeplike. Remember, the Buddha had his enlightenment upon coming out of his trance and first seeing the morning star. There appears to be something about having the anchor of the body that allows full understanding of all the states.

   Everyone may face this differently, we do not say one way or the other is exclusively true or the only way. I only acknowledge that in my own case, the freedom from desire experienced early on in my 'mystic' career pales in comparison from what has been growing from a lifetime of direct encounter, feeling, transformation, and understanding while really in the body, courtesy of my guru (for more, see "Death of a Dream" in the biography section of this website). On the nature of desire, Vedantist V.S. Iyer states:

   "The reason of hunger or desire lies in the memory of the past satisfaction of the hunger or desire. This is repeated continuously. This is the process of the vasanas. There is no new creation really. The vasanas cause you to repeat the desires. Repeated imagination makes you a slave of the desire which has been re-echoed from the past; the desire is only imagination deeply rooted. This karma is created. When a man realizes at last that his desires are only ideas he is able to get rid of them. Until then they will go on repeating themselves."

   One can easily see that this is a somewhat different view on eradicating vasanas. However, maybe not so different if one considers that the Naam or Word itself to be of the nature of consciousness, and also experienceable both inside and outside of the body. The 'living flame of love' the mystics have spoken of can be said to drive out and package the impurities so that what was once an impenetrable mass of resistance comes out more and more in manageable, discrete chunks. Moreover, this purification process itself is only carried to fruition by the God/Master - and the entire cosmos, it is not something that the disciple or sadhaka can do by himself; but the latter needs to learn to cooperate with it. it is largely a matter of endurance. It is a humble and humbling process, as well as an art that takes time to get the hang of.

   Iyer also gives a philosophic interpretation of the bath in Manasarovar (Sanskrit: "manas-sarovar", or "lake of mind"). For Iyer, the world in front of us, including the body, is the lake of mind that one must be immersed in until he has firmly established that all is an idea, or a mental appearance. The epistemological argument goes: reality of matter is a guess; we can only known what appears in consciousness; therefore, everything is an idea. This understanding, he says, when adhered to moment by moment effectively dissolves the world into Mind, and one realizes in his understanding that he is Atman. This, he says, is equivalent of the religious pilgrimage to Lake Manasarovar where one takes his ritualistic bath before going on to Kailas. For Iyer, Kailas signifies Atman.

   To 'return to samsara', for Iyer, means 'to take this world as real.' Simply by dissociating from it or negating it may tell you something about the 'I’ (the I inner soul), but does not eliminate this assumption of substantiality when you return, nor will it tell you what the world is or in what it arises; only seeing, facing, and understanding it will accomplish that, according to vedanta.

   This interpretation of the importance of the waking state goes hand in hand with the meaning given by vedanta for the value of the human birth itself: only in such a birth is higher reason (vidya vritti) or buddhi fully active, i.e., the faculty that discriminates truth from falsehood, the ultimately real from the unreal. And it is this reality which, imo, made the sage Shri Atmananda say that, given this grace, if we did not take advantage of what the past sages have left is “we were nothing but ungrateful wretches.”

   Sant Mat recognizes this, too, of course, but with a different method and approach to the absolute.

   Iyer makes no mention of the mystic interpretation of vasana-eradication as given in Sant Mat. Of course, because he was not a mystic, nor had mystic access to those transcendental realms, one might say that, as great a pundit as he was, perhaps his view was rather one-dimensional. We do not know the answer to this, neither having achieved permanent gyan nor having gone to Daswan Dwar. To truly 'eradicate' karmas is a great task, no doubt; even the path of true gyan is very steep with real requirements asked of its aspirants.

   For more perspective on the nature of karma on the path of Sant Mat, please see this series of letters and quotes by Sawan Singh, Kirpal Singh, and others. Also see Karma and Grace on this website.

   Needless to say, there remains much more to be said on this topic. Only in physical life are experiences so vivid and, as mentioned. etched into ones being. One can experience things here that one cannot on higher planes. Only here, moreover, can one meditate and then compare the inner experiences with the outer and understand reality in its fullness as transcending all the states. Whereas until realization inner experience alone is rather dreamlike. One can experience joys here as well as pain here that one cannot on inner planes. Through so many ways the soul grows. All this, then, must be why Masters say spiritual progress here is faster than when in a disembodied condition alone. But it is hard. We all desire, and most mystics consider it a success, to be in a state of stabilized ecstacy. But that is not the highest state, or the fundamental essence of the spiritual path. “First calm, then ecstacy, then peace, then insight, then Nirvana,” said the Buddha. This is not achieved solely by dissociation from the world. There is a matter of purification and understanding also. This world is considered “the womb of the Buddhas.” We should think on this. Anthony Damiani spoke on this aspect of the waking state:

   “Even after life, in death, a certain amount of learning goes on. And, usually, for many years, you are preoccupied with assimilating the experiences that you had here…[But] experiences in the body are so intense, in comparison to experiences outside the body, that you learn much faster what in the spiritual worlds may take you many, many years to learn. And I am speaking about hundreds and hundreds of years. Experiences in the body are so intense that sometimes one experience is all you need to learn. This body provides the means whereby our experiences are intensified to the nth degree. Your can experience pain here that you can’t experience elsewhere, your can experience joys here that you can’t experience elsewhere, because of the very intensity of the mechanism by which the soul is operating in the world.” (Looking Into Mind, p. 17, 105)

   Kirpal Singh mentioned this on numerous occasions.

   St. Padre Pio offers another, Christian perspective on the value of earth-life:

   “By suffering we are able to give something to God. The gift of pain, of suffering, is a big thing and cannot be accomplished in Paradise.” - St. Padre Pio

   St. John of the Cross similarly wrote of the soul’s purification,

   It gains more in one hour here on earth...than it would in many there.”

35. When I sat before Kirpal Singh, one disciple expressed intense frustration that she couldn't still her mind. On this path of dhyana (concentration) is a sinequa non. Kirpal replied,”that’s all of our problem!” Some would take that merely as a matter-of-fact reply, which it may have well been, the point being that achieving stilling of the mind was difficult for everyone. Yet perhaps there was an additional meaning to Sant Kirpal’s remark. At the time my “dhyan” was being demolished! Later, I remembered this incident when I read the following words of the chinese master Hung-Jen:

   “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.” (42)

   In the Dzogchen tradition the same approach is taken. Not concentration, but letting the mind be open and vast as the sky, neither rejecting or accepting thoughts. The only problem is that if one relaxes the mind prematurely, he will go into the subconscious mind and stagnate. That is why in most traditions the development of mindfulness or concentration, among other practices, such as the cultivation of the virtues, service,character building, are preliminary exercises or practice, and Sant Mat and even Dzogchen are no exceptions. Pure Dzogchen is a pinnacle practice for one who is already established in a steady state of non-dual contemplation; therefore, it is quite avanced.

   My experience with Sant Kirpal Singh was unique, to my understanding, and led me to feel that he himself may in a sense have transcended the conventional teaching of his lineage and realized Sat and Sahaj, for instance, independent of exclusive inversion. He once asked me if I wanted anything, if I wanted to leave my body, and when I replied (unknowingly, without much intelligence at the time, as I was a young man), “no, nothing,” he immediately got excited and said, “You're an emperor, I’ll kiss your feet, God is nothing!” A couple of days later I had a satori or kensho type of experience at his ashram, which he seemed to recognize and acknowledge, even though I didn’t yet know what had happened at the time. It was not mystical or psychic, or even an experience, but an instant of realization of the ego or person's unreality, even while in the body. Nothing had changed, and everything negative in me remained to be purified, but yet, everything was different. It was one of those infamous "non-events" the non-dualists are so fond of talking about. I knew this was something that never arose in any of my inner meditations before that moment, and could not have arisen as long as my attention was only rivetted on inner phenomena or their expectation. Kirpal, as stated, after giving a long and detailed description of the path to the final goal, once said, "you already are there, you just don't know it." To me this confirms he had a more complete realization than that conventionally elaborated in Sant Mat, and that Kirpal, like Rumi and Kabir, was among the higher gurus in that lineage.

   Ramana spoke of a tiny orifice in the heart which is normally closed, but when opened led to realization of the Self and happiness, here and now. This causal "knot" (granthi) is not automatically opened by the path of ascent, it seems, but rather the knot at the ajna doorway is opened. That is, the “divya chakshu” is opened, but not necessarily the “jnana chakshu” that Ramana talked about. That may or may not open depending on one’s background, prior understanding, etc. Otherwise the ego on the path of ascent "takes a bath" and is purified of gross attachment, but still remains intact as an ego-soul for some time until the soul shines in its pristine glory. Further, on return to the world ignorance to a degree reasserts itself, perhaps not in all, but in many cases. In Sant Mat, it is indeterminate when the knot at the heart opens. It is likely that the greatest of these Masters, such as Kabir, Nanak, Kirpal, and a few others knew the Truth, but this major distinction between the teachings regarding the heart versus the third eye (ajna center) is simply not given much recognition. Rather, the path of the sages is just dismissed as a lesser path, and left at that. This leaves many experiences unexplainable. On the other hand, it is likely possible for the jnana chakshu to open, on the path of knowledge, without the divya chakshu or the heart chakra opening to any significant degree. Perhaps for both to open would be best.

35b. A brief exploration of some other differences between yoga and Vedanta

   This section is not well-honed or fully worked out, but just some observations and suggestions for further consideration.

   It has been said by some that in the yoga schools as well as Samkhaya [one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy] thought is only given to the experiences of the waking state, whereas in Vedanta thought is given to all the three states [waking, dream, and sleep]. Thus, in Sant Mat, for instance, attention is given to the eye-focus, ‘the center of wakefulness’ the body, whereas in the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, for instance, the ‘I’-feeling or ‘I’-thought, individuality or ego is to be traced to its source in the heart, where it is said to arise, rather than let it be re-born or escape to higher worlds via the ajna-center. In the process one attains to a condition of ‘wakeful-sleep’, which is said to be sahaj samadhi, self-realization or liberation. And in this realization it is suggested that the entire ‘inner subtle tour’ of the Sants may be bypassed, all of the inner planes as such being various states of wakefulness.

   The example is given (The Power of the Presence, Part One, p. 77-78) of the death of a disciple of Ramana named Palaniswami:

   “Palaniswami was in the throes of death, gasping for breath. Bhagavan sat near him with his right hand on his chest. Palaniswami’s breast became soft and Bhagavan took off his hand when he felt a quivering within Palaniswami’s chest. This, Bhagavan has said, is the sign of life becoming extinct in the body. But when Bhagavan took off his hand, at that very moment, Palaniswami’s eyes opened. ”I thought he would subside at the heart, but he escaped,” Bhagavan remarked, adding, “That is said to be the sign of one going to higher states of spiritual experience, though not immediate merger at the Heart.”’

   “Bhagavan later declared that Palaniswami had taken birth in one of the higher deva worlds….Having learned from this experience, Bhagavan successfully brought about the liberation of his mother in 1922 by using the same technique. Bhagavan described what happened when he put his right hand on his mother’s chest and his left hand on her head:

   ‘It was a struggle between mother and myself. Her accumulated tendencies of the past (vasanas) rose up again and again, and then and there got destroyed. Thus the process was over and peace reigned supreme. I feel the last quiver of the heart, but did not take my hand off until it completely stopped. This time I was careful, thanks to my experience with Palaniswami, and saw that mother’s prana (life) got completely merged at the Heart."'
(The Mountain Path, 1975, p. 206)

   Some questions arise from this:

   The quote says that the mother’s prana was completely merged at the Heart - what of the consciousness (attention), which the Sants say is distinct from the pranas?

   (2) What about all the souls that Ramana didn’t serve in this capacity? Including those who had realized the Heart - were all their vasanas eradicated? So here, as in Sant Mat, the grace of a Master iscertainly required.

   (3) In Sant Mat, the departed soul is not alone ‘in a deva world’ after death, but accompanied/linked with the sound current and the Master

   (4) The process in Sant Mat is one of death-by-stages: physical ego to astral ego to causal and so on. There is a death ‘at each stage quit by the soul’, the ‘sun setting here and rising there,’ - the usual ego does not simply ‘escape’ to higher worlds as it is.

   Still, the example does imply Heart-realization can bypass the inner journey through subtle planes.

   But, is the reality that much different? Kirpal Singh said some initiates would go ‘direct to Sach Khand,’ not stopping along the way, and also, that ‘once one had implicit faith in the Master, He was commissioned to at once take that soul to Sach Khand.’ Is not Sach Khand or Sat Lok actually then the Reality beyond the waking, dream (subtle), and sleep (void) stages? Or not?

   For Vedanta, Brahman or the Self is the substratum of all three states. It exists through all the three states, is their basis, and in fact is them upon realization, and also remains when these states are no more. Whatever is, always is. Therefore, in deep sleep when there is no individuality, the Self still is, and therefore, individuality is not real. This means the soul that would venture into other worlds is also not real - now, not just after it reaches a God-World after a long course of ascended meditation.

   This may or may not be in conflict with a correct interpretation and experience of what Sant Mat proposes, but it does appear to vindicate the idea that realization can be had here and now, without leaving the body.

   Sant Mat teaches that in sleep the attention or soul as it were, goes down to the gullet and one is in an unconscious state. However, Vedanta would say this spatial reference is so only with reference to the experience in the waking state, and not in sleep per se. In sleep one does not say or know that he is in the gullet or anywhere else. Vedanta says the waking state cannot be used as a proof of the sleep state, and therefore, the logic of Sant Mat on this point is lacking as it does not take into account the three states.

   This is very important point but it is also very very subtle to grasp.

   In sleep there is no individual, no world, and no God; so it is with the Self or Brahman. And Brahman, being always the case, can it not be realized anywhere and anytime, and not only after a long passage through various stages of experience?

   Vedantins, such as Shree Atmananda, say to "sleep knowingly," thus seeing even sleep as Brahman, and further, to remain in a state "like sleep" while wide awake. Obviously, easier said than done. Some say that sleep, despite its remaining as ignorance for the ordinary man, is really the Nirguna state. And so we find the following seemingly rather curious statements from Atmananda. But, when a sage of his caliber says these things, we might take notice rather than dismissing them outright:

   "Tamas [passivity] and rajas [activity] are two distinct and separate qualities or attributes - each with a good proportion of the other mixed with it. But sattva [peace] is not a positive quality like the other two. Let us take an example. If a man walks and walks, without wanting to stop at all, that amounts to sattva, though on the surface it may appear to be rajas. Similarly, if a sleeping man, when he wakes up, is inclined to return to that sleep again rather than take to the activities of life in spite of all kinds of temptations for active life, that is also sattva, though it might appear on the surface as tamas itself. So there is tamas in rajas and rajas in tamas - sattva balancing the two. If the ego does not come in to interfere, indolence is the Reality itself. It may also be said that there is only sativa. When it is divided into two, it appears as rajas and tamas. Sativa is the ultimate Reality itself (shudda-sattva)." (Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shree Atmananda, #937)

   Confusing? No doubt..."If the ego does not come in to interfere" appears to be the crux.

   We are not saying one system is better or higher or more complete than the other, only that some - much - explanation is necessary to correlate them. Vedanta will not easily be dismissed, in our opinion, by stating that in sleep attention goes down into the body somewhere - the question is the nature of the experience in all three states, and what that tells us about reality.

   For Vedanta the waking and dreams states are both considered 'waking' states - as are all the higher plane experiences, at least until the so-called ‘causal’ level. But here is another apparent problem: it is quite clear that ‘causal’ in Vedanta and ‘causal’ in Sant Mat are not equivalent. For Vedanta [and traditional Yoga], ‘causal’ is equivalent to the void of sleep, whereas in Sant Mat ‘causal’ is described in terms that imply it is a higher subtle plane. And after that there is the ‘super or supra-causal plane, and a void. Perhaps the meaning or significance of the void of Maha Sunn in Sant Mat is the same as the causal void of the other systems. If so then in the transition to Sat Lok a last act of discrimination or vivek turns this apparent void of non-being into the Self. This is a different way of looking at things than the idea of a soul reaching a higher world that is distinct from its own being. In other worlds, for Sant Mat it seems as if the emanated worlds are taken to be real, whereas for Vedanta all emanation is an appearance of the Self, and non-existent when the Self is realized. All so-called bodies including the mind are not more or less adventitious vehicles, but rather upadhis or adjuncts of the Self, not real and even non-existent (for the realizer) upon realization. The same logic goes for the mind. When enquired into it is seen as non-existent or unreal. In Vedanta, therefore, the mind is only a function of the Self, it is not a real thing. For Sant Mat, the mind is real, as it is said to be ‘left behind’ in Par Brahm, the mind’s ‘true home.’ This doesn’t seem to be a trivial distinction, for the sadhanas differ significantly.

   On the other hand, the task of the jiva is to reach total surrender, i.e., ‘death’ - we then may not care to worry about what comes next after that, whether higher planes or ‘only’ the Self!

   So the question arises: “are there real differences, or only temporary differences, in perspective, points of view, and languaging, as one approaches definitive and lasting realization?”

   We go no further here as this is much beyond our capacity.

   36. Siddhis, and a discussion of Sant Mat's place among other traditions: a proposed model

     First, I acknowledge that I had help on this section, from the same person who helped me with Part Two of this four-part series of articles.

   It is common knowledge in many traditions that powers will arise spontaneously as the result of spiritual practice. In addition, one can engage in specific practices (again which many major traditions teach, but not all) to develop siddhis. Jack Kornfield says in Living Dharma (Living Buddhist Masters) that of the dozen or so teachers he studied with in Asia, virtually all of them were also reputed to have not only mastered all the jhanas, but also the various siddhis as well, most teachers and bodhisattvas finding that siddhas, when used without ego, enhance ones ability to serve. Of course, great debate rages about the appropriate place of siddhis on the path, but most traditions embrace a willingness to cultivate them when motivation and wisdom are mature enough.

   Although the development of siddhis or supernormal powers are warned against in all traditions of authentic spirituality as something not to be cultivated by yogic means for their own sake, there is also a belief that on certain paths that the siddhis are not only possible from 'ordinary' practice, but that also by a certain stage they will all be fully available spontaneously. Sant Mat would be an example of this. Sri Nisargadatta's way would not, as he acknowledged that such powers 'require further training' - although, even in his case, as in many holy persons, seemingly miraculous things happened around him. Sri Yukteswar, Paramahansa Yogananda's guru, asserted this view of the automatic development of the siddhis in his book the Holy Science, but many others schools and teachers have also said something equivalent. In particular, the more 'tantric' orientations that embrace the notion that the deepest realizations are those that will come from fully integrating realization into the lower bodies, transforming them profoundly so that gradually various phenomena will arise like: glowing, changes in need of food or sleep, slowing or stopping aging, unfoldment of siddhas, and the Body of Light. Not everyone will get all of these at advanced stages. Many people have also intentionally rejected their development. You may have heard that when Ramakrishna began to glow significantly, he asked Kali to make it go away, for he wanted people to seek beyond the surface. The Buddha is reputed to have rejected the development of many signs of deep transformation as he did not want to be deified. The Sants are said to be bound by the Sat Purush not to win over souls through the display of miracles, although it still manages to happen from time to time! Ramalingar allowed these phenomena to arise, but became disappointed when his followers become focused on him and his 'divinity', telling them that they should not, that he was just one of them, and to not get distracted from their own awakening. He then locked himself inside of a room and disappeared! So clearly we cannot use the emergence of these signs or not as a sign of realization, for many without them are very realized.

   Shri Atmananda Krishnamenon generally considered siddhis a major impediment and distraction from realization itself. But he also referred this to siddhis acquired willfully through specific yogic exercises, which he said were limited in time, generally lasting no more than twelve years, and being limited to the waking stage alone:

   ”Siddhis, acquired by dint of exercise, do not last for more than a limited number of years (usually twelve years). Even when one professes to possess them, one does so only in the waking state, which is only one third of one’s whole life. One does not possess any of the siddhis in one’s dream and deep sleep states. Therefore, siddhis are impermanent, and depend upon the body and mind for their very existence - even during the limited time they seem to exist. It is the exhibition of such siddhis (called miracles) that are often cited to prove the spiritual greatness of even founders of religions. Such and much greater and deeper siddhis are possessed and sometimes exhibited, even by the commonplace yogins of India. But such yogins and their siddhis are shunned and detested by all Sages and all real aspirants to Truth. All men of real experience and all higher as astray, directing attention to the ultimate Truth, have declared unequivocally that siddhis or powers are the greatest obstacle to realization of Truth. Therefore avoid siddhis at all cost, if you aspire to the Truth.”

   “Sages also possess infinite siddhis even without their knowing it; not as a result of exercise, but as a result of the knowledge of the ultimate Truth. But they use these powers with the greatest restraint; nor do their powers ever fade away from them like the yogin’s siddhis, by lapse of time or by constant use (even if they do so).”
(Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #1146)

   This certainly seems to be in alignment with the Sant Mat position, wherein siddhis are officially to be eschewed, and in which the Master-Power is ultimately credited with any and all so-called miracles that occur [Ramana Maharishi used the term ‘Automatic Divine Action’, denying any personal responsibility] and that the individual Master may or may not be aware of his role in any of them.

   Kirpal Singh once castigated an initiate who indulged in siddhis by sending him a letter, with subtle sarcasm, congratulating him on his ‘promotion’ from college to the primary class.

   Ramana Maharshi said:

   “A magician deludes others by his tricks, but he himself is never deluded. A siddha who manifests his siddhis is inferior to the magician as he is deceiving others as much as himself.”

 &nbs Upon being asked to revive a dead child, after having the child removed to a nearby cottage for one night, to no effect, Ramana later replied:

   “Even an incarnate God cannot raise all the dead. He has no individual will so he cannot decide to perform a miracle. If miracles happened in his ambience, he witnessed them, that was all.” (Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 257)

   This is consistent with what Kirpal Singh might say in similar situations. But still, there were more than a few incidents such as this:

   “A gentleman told us the story of his brother who had three sons and one daughter. The daughter died and the grief-stricken parents begged Master Kirpal Singh to come immediately.

   "Please," pleaded the bereaved father when Master arrived, "please, Maharaj Ji, take the life of any one of my sons, but give me back my daughter."

   Master, however, did not do it, and got in His car for the trip to Delhi. Halfway down the road Master ordered His driver to take Him back to the saddened family. On His return, Maharaj Ji put His fingers on the forehead of the dead girl, pressed both of her eyes, and lo and behold, she was alive once again. And Master did not take the life of any of the three sons either. The Sikh gentleman had ended his story. Master holds the power over life and death in His hands, we observed. And securely in His hands is our fate and salvation.”
(Sat Sandesh, December 1971, p. 17-20)

   It may be said that many and perhaps any genuine path, then, can lead to such developments, but some are more likely than others. Paths including a tantric or transformational and descending/integrating approach, as well as an interest in service, tend to be ones more likely to. One of the reasons for this is that the siddhis are powers latent in human nature, and are generally part of our body (including subtle ones) nature, as opposed to our consciousness aspect. They are Shakti rather than Shiva manifestations. Those paths having a strong leaning towards Shiva or realization, consciousness, wisdom paths, are among those less likely to as easily generate siddhis spontaneously. But paths that include or emphasize the Shakti aspect such as Hindu tantric/kundliini paths, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Qi gong (which has spiritual levels), Daskalos (a western Greek master with extensive knowledge and teachings about the inner realms), and such, work more directly with bodily energies on various levels, and are therefore more likely to awaken their latent powers. Coming back to Sant Mat, not only would Sant Mat masters be likely to have siddhis (even if they chose not to display them openly) because not only do they achieve the levels of realization where they would come spontaneously, but they also approach the path by a method that has elements in common with classic tantric paths. This is a vast topic, and a risk of misunderstanding is taken by treating it so cursorily here, but the inner light and sound, in some of the more esoteric tantric traditions, are considered Shakti expressions. So those that meditate on them will be attuning to the Shakti or emanatory aspect of the Absolute.

   Now we propose a model for comparing/classifying different teachings and schools. Imagine a triangle with the Unnameable, Inexpressible Absolute, the Tao, the Dharmakaya, Anami on the top, then Shiva and Shakti on the bottom left and right. These are the 'relative' principles of Consciousness and Energy, Purusha and Prakriti, that for now we may consider as 'emanating' or manifesting from the Absolute. Some paths lean one way, some the other, and some are more balanced. Shiva paths emphasize wisdom, discrimination, realization, mind, knowledge, consciousness, awareness, awakening, and enlightenment. These, in what might be considered a 'watered-down' form, are currently very popular in the Western world among many of the newer teachers of non-duality. Shakti paths (first introduced in a major way the West in the 1960's-1970's) emphasize energy, body, feeling, passion, phenomena, love, and so on. Most advanced tantric inclusive paths like Tibetan Buddhism or Swami Rama's lineage, marry these two aspects in a more integral approach. If the emphasis is on things like realization, wisdom and inquiry, then siddhis are slower to develop because that aspect of our nature is being detached from, or 'seen through'. But with Sant Mat, not only is the leaning towards devotion/love/surrender, but the form of the practice is to attune to the essence of the nature side or Shakti. In the difference between mind and body (shiva and shakti), mind has insight, realizes, while body feels and does. In our feeling aspect, in our senses, we emphasize three major senses to experience nature, whether physical or subtle - we touch, or see or hear. So there are two types of Shakti practice - active, such as pranayama or tai chi, and receptive, which would be sensory. We know that Sant Mat does not prefer to emphasize the active, motor currents, so the emphasis in on the sensory currents. These are reflected in the three meditations of that tradition - gazing, bhajan and shabd (the one active method is simran).

   The finest manifestation of shakti is inner light and sound - where meditation on these will lead to unity with the Positive Power, or the Shakti aspect of God. Then the Sat Purush or Positive Power will take one beyond into the Realization/Shiva aspect within, with the Eternal then spontaneously revealing itself as It is, and also, if allowed, re-integrating itself deeper and deeper into all of the bodies and planes as it descends. It is as if the light and sound are the outer form of Saguna Brahman, with its pure Realization (Nirguna) aspect being 'behind' that, just as our minds and souls are within our bodies. This leads to the pure, complete non-dual realization. So, tantric traditions also use the light and sound, but rather than having a bhakti emphasis and so focusing primarily on these expressions of Deity, they also include seeing them as kundalini and may work with them in other contexts as well. For instance, Swami Veda Bharati, a successor of Swami Rama, taught that in the Himalayan Advaita/Tantric lineage that he and Swami Rama were part of, the first stage of initiation was raja yoga practices like yama, niyama, asanas, and pranayama, along with mantra initiation. The second initiation, after adequate purification, would begin work with kundalini. He said that in their tradition 'the kundalini is a force of divine light and superconscious sound', and that beyond that stage, meditations would focus on 'light, sound, and chakras'. The third initiation would be their equivalent of direct transmission of nondual realization as in Dzogchen, leading to advanced meditation. He described this stage as beginning with direct transmission - 'the tremendous explosion of consciousness on a cosmic scale that takes place in such initiations has to be experienced to be believed, and the power to confer such Light resides only in a few hands. The initiation my be given by the touch of the hand, with a glance, or with a burst of mental energy. The degree of the height and intensity of initiation depends on the disciple's ability to withstand, contain and later slowly assimilate into his nervous energy the shock of the divine energy.' During this stage meditation on inner light and sound transitions to being beyond the body, and continues into higher worlds. There is also a four stage of initiation as well, which they don't talk about openly. The goal in this tradition is sahaja samadhi, and comes from a blending of Advaita/realization and shakti/kundalini approaches. Again, in a path like this the siddhis are more likely to arise at an earlier stage, especially since they are latent in the body/feeling/shakti level, and they are using practices that attune to these in various ways including chakras and subtle light and sound.

   Sant Mat may not explicitly embrace the tantric philosophy, and many of the elements that are associated with the various and many more tantric styles (chi gong, Taoism, Vajrayana, hindu forms) such as breathing practices, chakras, and so on. But they do meditate on what these traditions (at least many of them) would consider to be a manifestation of Shakti or kundalini (which does extend into the subtle world all they way up to its emanating source, whether we call it MahaShakti, the Holy Spirit, Sat Purush, or Shabd Brahman. So, in the context of this perspective, an advanced practitioner of Sant Mat would be expected to inevitably also develop all the siddhis because not only do they get them from adequate God-consciousness in general, but also that they are absorbing themselves in the Positive Power that is Shakti that is the source of all the power of nature, normal or paranormal, physical or subtle.

   How a master manifests their realization, however, will in considerable part be dependent on the type of path that they are practicing/embodying for that incarnation. Each path has its strengths as well as areas that are less developed. So it becomes very tricky to compare masters of different paths. And just because a path does not explicitly focus on some element like nondual wisdom does not mean its adepts will not come into that realization in a round-about sort of way. It may not be the most efficient way to be directly initiated into that aspect of spirituality, or to cultivate it. But it is not necessarily going to be totally lacking, though it might be given a different spin depending on their philosophy and approach.

   To fully compare paths requires working from a comprehensive understanding of spirituality as a context, one that will allow us to put each path in perspective. In doing so there are many, many components that have to be evaluted in order to look at each path and how it is a unique combination of various components. Then in that context we can also have a better understanding of what 'type' of masters are the product of that path. This is further complicated by the fact that people will bring to a given path components that are built into their own nature, which are not strong or explicit on that path, and so give their own unique spin to that path. For instance, clearly Sant Mat is not particularly a jnani path, yet some within it (both masters and students) have that inclination in their nature. So they bring that to their involvement with Sant Mat, which some people feel enriched by, and others confused or threatened by. So there is the basic soul or nature of a given path, and then there are those who bring a different spin to it, so they that break the mold. They may be reformers, or outcasts! Or both.

   Some of the components that one might use to evaluate and compare paths would include: primary philosophy (like Dvaita, Advaita, Vishishtadvaita); and Shiva leaning, Shakti leaning, or balanced; jnani, bhakti, tantric, karma, etc. Also whether emphasizing inversion, integration or both. Outstanding virtues emphasized like wisdom, discipline, technical skill, love/compassion, devotion, surrender, creativity/expression, equanimity/detachment, and so on. At another level there are more comprehensive archetypes that underly a spiritual path, which bring together some of these different characteristics.

   Although Sant Mat includes elements from the Shakti aspect, it is not as rich in that area as Dzogchen or other rich tantric paths, so the emergence of siddhis may not be as efficient (also less dangerous therefore), and generation of the Body of Light is unlikely, and so on. But, another component of a path is the depth to which they appreciate the central component of grace, and it significance on the path. Tibetan Buddism/Dzogchen does deeply appreciate this, but there are many facets to it, to this wonderful attribute of the divine. Shabd yoga is a profound and unique contribution to the appreciation of this aspect. But the tradition of the realized guru's grace is a very ancient and universal one.

   None of the existing traditions have it all, and they all need to be matured further, part of which comes from blending with other truths. There is a profound place, for instance, for 'inversion' practices in a larger, planetary spirituality. And the Buddhist versions are a good contribution to these, but perhaps not their greatest strength. Sant Mat may understand certain truths about this much better than Buddhism.

   The central strength of especially Mahayana Buddhism is its penetrating insight into nondualism, its appreciation of the power and greater enlightenment embodied in balancing love and wisdom, and its middle path and integrated presence (rather than trance) approach to spiritual development. On the other hand, the significance of the inner light and sound is profound. It is one of the great under-appreciated truths in our times. Sant Mat is carrying a relatively clean, simple but profound version of that truth in the context of the world's spiritual traditions. That is its world Dharma. There are other pieces that are not as well expressed or expressed at all in Sant Mat. But that does not diminish the beauty of what it does express. In the centuries ahead there will likely be an increasing blending of these truths into a greater world spirituality.

   37. A Summary of Non-Dualism as the Heart of Any Path

   What characterizes a profound 'integrated' nondual realization? In our opinion, it is an experience of the relative dimension of matter and mind (even very formless mind), and its gross and subtle forms of dualism (distinctions of planes, elements, mind and matter, soul and bodies, etc) from a profoundly integrated nondual state in such a way that a type of 'realization' arise that 'rebirths' one's interpretation of all that in the light of nondualism. Put simply and 'mystically', it would be to say 'all is one', or 'it is all God' or 'Buddha-nature'. Put in a way that naturally cannot really be put into words, it also can include a way of realizing all of that in an integral wholeness where it is all comprehended in a new way but without dualistic categories. There is no longer an experience that mind and matter are distinct - yet one sees a continuum of continuity of a reality that is both mind and matter, so there is a simultaneous realization of its oneness (a single substance neither mind or matter) and a spectrum of manifestations. In such a state one does not need to 'go out of one's body' to be deeply present to all 'planes', and can still appreciate the 'levels', but in a radically different way. Separative dualism is liberated into a new state of realization. Some have tried to talk about this by picking one side of a polarity and saying that is the only reality, and the other side is unreal. Ad example of this is the 'Mind-Only' school. But that is just a limited attempt to put in human concepts and terms something that transcends all that. But it does help get the idea across that there is a state where it is integrated. The 'Matter-Only' school is a bit like saying 'it is all empty' - which is to say, that even mind and individuality is like matter, a bunch of 'heaps', stuff with no real 'mind/soul', etc. One says matter is really just a form of mind, the other says mind is just a kind of matter. But the radical nondual truth is that you cannot reduce one to the other, and they are both dualistic ways of looking at something that, when viewed nondually, retains the essence of both yet translates them to a level at which those essences are fully integrated into a total reality. Perhaps the closest one can come is to say it is a 'unity-in-diversity' realization while simultaneously realizing the nondual foundation of both unity and diversity - a 'three-in-one' realization. Then 'planes' (which is a view that tends to lean towards 'matter') are not places to go to, but also 'states of mind' and can be accessed from anywhere, and all at once or 'separately', though in the later case, their nondual nature will still be foremost, so a given plane will still be experienced as interdependent with all the other planes, and inseparable from the primordial Reality.

   38. Sant Mat visualized as a true Non-Dual Path

   This subject has been discussed in some depth in Part Two, but there is a bit more to be said. The current impression among newer teachings is that paths such as Sant Mat are indirect, dualistic and other-worldly, and therefore not truly non-dual. That they assume a separate self, and its meditation only reinforces that assumption, and also proposes a superhuman task that few are capable of. There are several reasons why this conception is invalid. Briefly, the notion that bhakti and devotion are ultimately illusion, as there is only the One, ignores that from the plane of relativity they are not illusion, but a natural means for most people to transcend self and connect with Truth. Even the venerable late Shankaracharya of Kanci frequently admonished students of his not to shake the faith of simple bhaktas by asking too technical of a nature of questions in their presence. This staunch Vedantin recognized the power of faith and devotion. Kirpal Singh used to say, when referring to the many poor villager Satsangis in India, "I love them, and they love me: no technology required." This delicate quandry regarding faith is, in fact, is a dilemma for me in writing this entire, long dissertation - it is my appointed task, but then this is not for the simple, but for those with many questions whose need draws them to find this website, as all questions must be fulfilled eventually once they arise. They are not wrong or just a distraction. They are part of the divine plan, too. The divine wants to be known and loved. All true desires and questions must be fulfilled in due course. In the meanwhile, bhakti is somewhat out of vogue in the West to a large degree, due to the current rise of non-dual jnana-style teachings, but its human naturalness and efficacy is all too often simplistically overlooked.

   Second, all great traditional masters, including Swami Sivananda, Sankara, Ramakrishna, Ramana, Milarepa, Gampopa, Huang Po, Anandamayi Ma, and Sant Kirpal Singh, to name a few, have proposed basically a two-stage process of inward concentration and aspiration towards an ideal, achieving disidentification with the world and merging with a higher principle - the divine soul - to be naturally followed by realization of a wider, omnipresent reality - Oversoul - wherein one reintegrates and includes all that has been disidentified with. The first stage is establishment of a higher center than the dispersed condition that has become habitual, but which is not the final stage, and is moved beyond once attained. This stage or its equivalent on different paths can not be bypassed, as many seem to think these days. Otherwise one is left with a 'husk without the kernel', and disparagement of the realization of the soul or inner essence as those of the 'talking schools' often are, glibly dismissing it as just 'ego'. And third, the 'Divine Intermediary Liberating Presence within Relativity' - the Shabda-Brahman, whose embodiment is the Master, is the great means that makes this possible and relatively easy for the apparently 'separate' aspirant. In truth all that is required is faith in its beneficent grace and all-accomplishing power.

   Moreover, in Sant Mat there is a great, almost hidden paradox involved that is worth recognizing. While it is taught as a path of inversion and ascent to other planes, the mystery is that as one aspires to simple devotion, and higher, ascended realities, in actuality the divine grace descends, more and more. Even if one has not actually and literally 'ascended', the divine grace really descends and assumes, overtakes, or infuses the very body-mind of the devotee! In the process inner and outer, higher and lower become one and inseparable, as one blissful intensity. The Master Power, given a fair chance, by simple co-operation and faith on our part, quite naturally creates, evokes, and establishes divine knowledge and understanding in the disciple, in stages. And if one in fact has gone inside to any degree, he returns with an amrit, not unlike the 'amrita nadi' spoken of by Ramana Maharshi, where there is felt to be present an eternal and infinite spire of Light and Sound while the mind lies formless in the heart. Thus, this is a non-dual path when understanding or devotion is fully established. The fundamental tasks appear many, but at heart there is only the surrender in trust to that Power and Being which in turn transforms the disciple and from which he is inseparable. As Soamiji Shiv Dayal Singh wrote:

   "Into my own head have I taken thy worry; so do not thou worry but cherish thou love. Leaving all doubts, thy love do thou make firm, and have staunch faith. This practise [of shabd] I'll get done myself, and into the Durbar [court] of the highest Absolute Lord shall I take thee. This I do as and when it is my Mauj [Will]." (43)

   The mystery is that this 'Durbar' is both a realm and an ever-present reality.

   39. Conclusions

   With respect, we humbly implore the Masters that any remaining mystique surrounding Sant Mat should be let go, that they speak openly and plainly, as was done in ancient days, for the good of all. The Tripura Rahasya states:

   "The best among sages can, without hesitation, give complete answers on matters relating to Realization and the sublimest truths. He seems to be spontaneously animated when discussing matters pertaining to jnana (knowledge) and is never tired of their exposition." (44)

   Similarly, the sage Yajnavalkya has been taken as a model of the ideal teacher since the earliest times:

   "He exemplifies a major characteristic of the guru, namely, to teach fully, holding nothing back. Although different teachers use different methods, the authentic guru holds nothing in reserve; he teaches all that he knows and experiences. According to the texts, Yajnavalkya exposed principles relentlessly until understanding took place. These early teachers, though their teaching was frequently obscure and esoteric, were not part of a closed society. There was no fear of a free exchange of ideas even among the teachers themselves. Above all, they were concerned for the lineage of sacred wisdom and the necessity of its transmission." (45)

   V.S. Iyer writes:

   "Sankara was extremely precise and careful in his choice of words. He was no fool in writing...[He] stressed the great importance of freeing our use of words from all ambiguity...Sankara himself has warned us not to use ambiguous words." (46)

   Marked souls and the Fall

   In contrast, the history of the Radhasoami movement, unfortunately, since the time of Soamiji has often been one of being encouraged not to ask difficult questions (although I have to admit that my master, Sant Kirpal Singh, said, "bring me your worst question!"). Yet too often the advice is, "we shouldn't ask such things," "we can't know such things," etc.. I will give but one example to illustrate this point, a very important one, in my opinion. In Sant Mat, there is mention of there being "marked souls," those with a moharchap on their foreheads, indicating they are to be chosen for initiation and eventual return to Sach Khand. There is even at least one mention in the New Testament of such a stamp on the forehead of the elect. Even if true, some may well ask that it be explained and understood in a more modern way. Kirpal Singh often said, "the man in whom the question of the mystery of life has arisen is fit, I tell you." That is the essential requirement. The following, however, is an example of a statement on this point, with references, made by an angry Beas follower about this topic and its consequences. One will see its essentially drastic message:


   "In this argument we want to look at the "Mission" that the Masters claim to be given by God  and also look at certain defining characteristics of that God which we can infer from statements  by the Masters. We will use two quotes from Radhasoami (RS) books as the source documents:  The first is from the book "The Master Answers" by Charan Singh from 1984.  The second is data attributed to Sawan Singh from the book  "With the Three Masters - Vol. II" (1967) Pages 68 and 176. Q. 310. The first question referred to the Supreme Lord as sending  us down here: Now sometimes in the Radha Soami literature,  may be in some of the discussions, I forgot which, we have  referred to as being prodigal Sons, which indicates that we came  down here by our own choice, rather than being sent down by the  Supreme Lord. Will you comment on that?  A. How could we have a choice, when we were with  the Lord? Choice comes through the mind, and  there is no mind there. We have been sent. We  have been given mind, to be pulled to and function in  this world. But we had no mind there. The question  of our choice did not arise there. If the universe had  to be created, some souls had to be sent, whether they  liked it or not. It is not advisable to discuss many  things. For example, you may have heard or you  may have read but I do not want to give much  importance to it that some souls were quite willing  to come, and others were quite reluctant to come.  Generally, it is said that saints come for those souls  who were reluctant to come into this world, and that  is considered to be one-tenth of the number of souls  sent here. So, only one-tenth will make their way  (p.310 THE MASTER ANSWERS (1964 Charan Singh) back to the Lord and nine-tenths will stay back here  to carry on the universe. That is why everybody will  not be attracted towards the Lord. Some souls are  required for the universe to go on, unless the Lord  wants to finish this whole play. Otherwise, if all the  souls were to go back to Him, there would be an end  to this universe. So the Saints come for those marked  souls. The one-tenth are the marked souls for which  the Masters come, to take them back to the Lord.  They are known as the marked souls. I did not want  to discuss this question. (below dated June, 1945 and attributed to Sawan Singh)"

     "Last night Huzur said, The real secret is that  when this creation was created for the first time it was  most beautiful and fascinating. It was shown to all  the souls and they were asked whether they would  like to live in Satlok or go down to this new creation.  Eight-ninths of the souls said they wanted to go down  to the lower creation, and only one-ninth of the souls  said they wanted to stay at the feet of the Lord. This the all-merciful Supreme Father asked the souls  who did not want to go down, to do so, and to enjoy  the new creation. He added, however, that He would  call them back later on. So it is this group comprising  one-ninth of all the souls that is now going back to  Satlok. Since the creation is infinite, this one-ninth  part is also infinite, and some of these souls will always  be in this world to be taken back. The rest of the  eight parts will always remain here as a part of this  creation."

   "On June, 1945, someone asked why this universe was created. Huzur  replied, This can be understood only after reaching  Sat Lok, but the perfect Saints possess this secret, which  is not to be found in any books, that this entire universe  was shown to all the souls on the day it was created.  Eight-ninths of the souls said that they would like to  live forever in the material. world; but the remaining  one-ninth said that they did not want anything else  except God. At this the Supreme Lord said, "All of  you go down to the material world. Those who have  asked for me only, I shall come to take them back in  the form of perfect Saints." I said that it was really  surprising that these souls liked this material world  in exchange for the bliss of Sat Lok. Huzur replied,  "These souls were then not in Sat Lok, but were in a  passive or dormant state. They liked this material  world because they had not seen any other universe." The Masters claim that their "mission" is to find "marked souls" and bring them back to God.  It is further claimed that each Master has been assigned a specific number of these "marked souls" 
[marked with a "moharchap" on their foreheads] to locate and return. This is their stated mission throughout the many RS books. Many RS books contain glossaries, but the term "marked soul" is not defined in any of them. So, just what is a "marked soul". From the above quotes we can see that a "marked soul"  is a soul which came from Sach Khand. It is a statement of fact or citizenship - marked souls  are citizens of Sach Khand and so have the right to return there. You cannot earn the right  to be a "marked soul". You either are or are not. Either way you cannot change it. The  concept of karmas or good or bad works has nothing at all to do with being a marked soul.  The Masters then state the number of marked souls at about 10% of all souls. So, what if you are not a "marked soul". Well, if you are a member of the 90% of non-marked  souls, according to the Masters, there is no hope for you regardless of how good you are.  In the model for the Universe as given in the above quotes, non-marked souls never reach  God. When they are not being "used" to animate life forms in the creation, they are "stored"  in a "dormant state" until needed. I do not believe that I can find, in the language that we use here to communicate with one another,  the words to adequately express the gravity of what is being stated in the above quotes.  Please read them carefully."

   "We begin at a point where the material creation had not yet been  conceived. Souls lived in the Spiritual realms. Now it is time to create the lower or material  worlds. It is desired that these worlds be populated by animate creatures which necessitates  that these creatures have souls. The souls used for this purpose are not souls from the spiritual  planes. They are souls from "a dormant state" - souls who "had never been in Sat Lok".  These souls are destined to "always remain here as part of this creation". They will have  lifetime after lifetime - hopes and dreams - good and bad times, but the most they can hope  for (although they do not know this) is to be put back into "a dormant state". They will  never reach God - they will never see God. Saints will not help them. Only the special  10% who came from an active existence in the Spiritual planes have the right (divine right ?)  to return to those high planes. They have the passport - "the mark" by definition or  divine right or whatever. It is irrelevant what they have done or do now or will do in the  future. None of this has any effect on the fact that they are "marked souls" and therefore  have the right to access the Spiritual worlds. Similarly, those 90% who are "not marked"  have no right and no hope of gaining any right regardless of anything they may do. Now, this is a simply horrible model for the Universe and for God's intentions. If true, we might  as well all hang it up because we are dealing with a God which is vastly different from what  is generally believed. This is a model for a totally non evolving Universe - a stagnant place  where souls spin around but accomplish nothing ruled by a God who creates souls for "utility"  and not out of Love that they might develop and grow and achieve fulfillment. It also suggests an elitist or "master race" type attitude on the part of the Masters. The Masters  and their students, of course, are members of the "marked soul class" and the "masses" or  the general population is the "non-marked soul class" which is doomed and does not count.  To accept this RS model, then, is to worship a God who does NOT have "unconditional love"  but who instead has very conditional love for specific souls and no regard for others. The most likely possibility here is that the god of RS is not the ultimate God but rather one  of the many "gods" which are worshipped by the various sects in India. In fairness, I wrote to Gurinder Singh and asked him to explain or clarify the quotes used  above. As usual, he refused to give any meaningful answer and simply stated that "our  limited minds cannot understand these things". He also added some advice saying, "I  would advise you not to activate the mind unnecessarily". It is good advice, of course.  If you are a mindless zombie you will have no trouble accepting anything.  However, my "limited mind" has no trouble seeing what is being said in the above quotes-  and I do not agree with it and I do not feel that the "god" being described here is the  ultimate and "for real" god."
(End of quote)

   In Sant Mat, while there is Absolute God, there is its expression, a personal God, the Sat Purush, of whom it has been said from time to time that the "mauj" or divine will has been 'changed'. Soamiji mentioned this theological concept on at least one occasion. In more modern times, the following statement was made to a friend of mine by Sant Darshan Singh. Things have seemed to be loosening up in recent years - perhaps out of necessity, it is hard to tell - see this provocative explanation of Sant Mat 2.0 - and the following is a much more universal proclamation which is in line with that of many saints (although not sages, who language things differently):

   "I was with Master Darshan in his living room at the ashram in 1988 when he said ecstatically to maybe forty of us,  “In fact all the souls in the universe are destined to go back to God!”  I do not know if the mauj has changed since Master Sawan Singh made the statements above, but I think that may be the case, since the living master can ask for these things and the inner circle of past masters will listen to the living master."

   This is what Paramhansa Yogananda also had proclaimed, that "eventually all souls will go back to God - because there is nowhere else to go!"

   Yet the issue raised was whether there is a God whose "mauj" can change at whim. For example, just before his death Soamiji raised his surat and came back down saying that "the mauj had changed" and that he was not to die right away. For another view Brunton writes:

   "It is impossible for a rational mind to believe that the Infinite and Eternal Deity is subject to momentary changes of mind or suffers occasional lapses from continuance of the cosmic laws."

   "The Greek conception of the world being directed by Intelligence is surely higher than the Hebrew belief in a capricious, jealous, and angry despot of a personal God."

   Sri Nisargadatta sides with Brunton:

   "What we call the will of God is not a capricious whim of a playful deity, but the expression of an absolute necessity to grow in love and wisdom and power, to actualize the infinite potentials of life and consciousness." (48)

   In one version of the story souls were given the choice to leave Sach Khand to explore the lower worlds. In another version they had no choice. As far as the notion that souls initially fell from Sach Khand out of choice, is that philosophical? What kind of free will could exist for souls or consciousnesses prior to manifestation of vehicles of mind and matter, i.e., entitiveness or ego? Is such a “fall” a divine matter of an actual evolution of consciousness or simply one of a sinfull 'fall' and return to Paradise? Teacher anadi seems to argue for the former:

   "Why would a Soul decide to leave his original condition of pure oneness with the Divine, to experience forgetfulness and separation? This decision was not made in a conscious way and there was no one, in the first place, to decide. This decision comes from the impersonal wisdom of the Source itself - it is not made on the personal level." (Transmission of Awakening, p. 71)

   According to teachers like these, something new is added upon realization: a recognition that was not there before. Something the Soul never knew before. Thus it is not simply a realization of what was already the case.

   If there was any so-called fall it took place at a much lower level than Sach Khand. Kirpal Singh, in Mystery of Death, p. 104, explains that the so-called Garden of Eden, Svarga, Sukhavati, or Paradise of the various religions is ‘a sanctuary of special interest’’ in the mental realm referred to as Dev Lok. [Note: in Buddhism, particularly Pure Land Buddhism, Sukhavati [Devachan in Tibetan] is a Pure Land, manifested as it were ‘outside’ the ordinary universe, by the Buddha Amitabha (‘Infinite Light’ - or could it be Amit ‘Abba’, ‘Father’ of Light ?) from which blessed souls may work towards Buddhahood. A primary disciple of Amitabha is Avalokitesvara, his regent, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, prophesied to attain enlightenment there, who saves from unbearable suffering as well as from the torments of hell all beings who call upon his name. The parallels with Christianity are obvious, and interestingly the reknown Lotus Sutra in which this is mentioned was written between 50-150CE, around the time the Gospels were formulated and also Buddhist councils were codifying the Mahayana doctrine - for which some speculate on a possible Christian influence]. Continuing the discussion, from this level the souls fell into the physical realm, being “clothed in animal skins”, as scripture tells us, or bodies of flesh. This was Daskalos’ teaching as well. But even so, this is still a story. Whether it was a sinful act of disobedience or not is one of the Mysteries we are apparently left to fathom. On the general subject of how or why souls left Sach Khand, however, when pressed Kirpal opined:

   “Why He made the world, who can reply? Why He sent us here was His will. There is action, and therefore reaction. The first action was God’s which reacted in the shape of sending us down. We did nothing wrong. We were sent down. That was no reaction. In the world we sow something and reap, isn’t it so? What seed have we sown? We have remained in Him. It is His will. These are not my words. These are words of the Masters. Now we are reaping what we sow. But what did we do before coming down to the world? [Q: But do You hold out the hope that at least we’ll get an answer at perhaps the top of the mental realm or the causal? Is the answer there?] Past that. Not there either. There you will come to know only the reaction of your own past births. [In Sach Khand the answer is available?] Sach Khand, no. On the causal plane you can have the reason you’ve been born, reborn, here, there, what these things are. But this very question of why we were sent down into the world cannot be substantiated. It is for God alone to reply. He sent us. Why did He send us when we did not do anything wrong. Did you do anything wrong? What sin did we commit before being sent down here?…But how did the creation come into being? Did the seed precede the fruit or did the fruit precede the seed? Did the egg precede the hen or did the hen precede the egg?…No reply, you see. It is all delusion. It is all maya.” (Heart-to-Heart Talks, Part One, p. 66-67)

   So there is mystery, for which stories have been created. In whatever case, however, the need of a master, or one who has realized, is not negated. It is still of paramount importantance in seeing one's process through to completion.

   Regarding marked souls, teacher Ishwar Puri said that the concept of being marked specifically means that one is destined to be under the care of a particular master, not that he is one of the only ones 'chosen' by almighty God Himself. Although, to the devotee the difference may be immaterial, and such destiny in either case is certainly not to be undervalued or dismissed as trivial.

   But it has elsewhere been claimed that there is a so-called stamp or “moharchap” on the forehead of chosen souls that is visible to a Master. Is that literal or only a metaphor for something intuitively grasped by the unerring inner vision of a Master? I have yet to hear a full description of explanation. Yet, even in another tradition, Sufism, such a concept has been admitted. Bhai Sahib, Irena Tweedie’s Guru, said:

   “People who are intended to realize God in this life have a sign on them.” (48a)

   So it seems there is something to it.

   Kirpal Singh once said, "I tell you, the man in whom the need to solve the mystery of life has arisen is fit," and "When a true Master accepts a disciple, that person’s status changes. We were lost wanderers whom not one befriended; accepted by the Satguru, we were then recognized. He becomes an “accepted” soul, under the care of the Master."

   We do not claim to know more than the masters, but suggest that the articulation of this line of thinking may be raised to a higher octave - as suggested by Kirpal himself - and that whoever is interested in their spiritual nature can be said to be 'marked', and destined for more rapid transformation, especially if they have requested it. Still, further clarification of the meaning of a “moharchap” is wanted.

   Then again, the Holy Bible says, “many are called, few are chosen,” and “you didn’t choose me, I chose you.” (verses in Matthew and elsewhere). Sant Rajinder Singh said, “the Master’s love for you began long before you ever met him.” And Sant Kirpal Singh said, “Master doesn’t take everybody.” So there is somewhat of a mystery here. Each Master has those he is to take under his wing and work with. And everybody apparently is not ready to chose, or be chosen, at any given time. Furthermore, everyone even long after choosing or being chosen, can forget his “conversion”, his “saved” status, and resist the Master’s grace when it comes if it takes a form not to one’s liking! So the path is a very delicate matter.One must choose God again and again, although the Master never leaves him.

   In any case, we say, with our limited understanding and countless faults, that it is getting time for secrecy and old language to be abandoned, and truth to be made plain. There are inevitable mysteries and paradoxes on the path to be sure, words as such being but pointers towards wordless truth, but also many 'unnecessary mysteries' due to philosophical provincialism and doctrinal obscurity. Even under genuine teachers, many initiates have suffered from a lack of clarity and understanding.

   All this being said, Sant Kirpal Singh often said that if one wished to be convinced of the greatness of this path, he should go see an initiate dying. Many have attested to the radiant form of the Master coming for them at the time of their passing. However, this has been true, or promised, not only in Sant Mat but in other paths, and not even every Sant Mat master promises this. Hopefully, blessed assurance is granted the faithful soul even before this final event. The promise given by true Sants is that for the devoted disciple indeed there is not only such assurance but also much help. Sant Kirpal Singh said:

   "Satguru is the fountainhead of grace. Strange are the ways in which he works his grace. With just a single kindly look he may bless a jiva forever." (49)

   "Having received the protection of a God-realized man, do you think he would ever forget you? The Master always holds his disciples in the innermost heart center." (50)

   “A loving faith in the inherent goodness of God and complete self-surrender to the Divine will lead one on the high road to spirituality without any great continuing effort on the part of an aspirant.” (51)

   “No eye has ever seen, nor ear heard, nor has the human heart or thought ever grasped what God has prepared for those who love him.” (Is. 64:4, 1 Cor. 2:9)

   Back to Part One

   "The Death of a Dream and a Gift of Truth" (Being an intimate account of the lifelong trials, tribulations, and unique experience and insight of the primary author in his encounter with this path)

   Appendix: Intense Longing for Darshan, excerpts from a letter of Baba Jaimal Singh to Hazur Baba Sawan Singh:

   "You say that you are writhing like a fish out of water for Darshan. Well, such was the Will. Even after a hundred years of Bhajan one does not get so purified as by an intense longing for Darshan, provided that the longing is real and true, and that love for Sat Guru is from the innermost heart. That is why a disciple is given bireh (physical separation and longing during separation from his Guru). Bhajan does not purify so soon as does true love for the Master and a true longing for His Darshan.”

   "Do not look upon Sat Guru as a human being. Rather, Sat Guru Himself has s Sat Purush. True longing for Darshan is the principle means for God-Realization. When the mind accepts these things firmly and inwardly, only then is the dirt wiped off the mind. Then the jiva can realize the Shabd form of the Sat Guru. Therefore, take hold of the Shabd Dhun. Then the Dhun will itself take you home."

   "Whoever has true love for his Guru in his mind, has done everything (that is, he need do nothing more). Sat Guru is empowered to take him at once to Sach Khand, the region of the Saints..."

   Bearing in mind that this is a portrayal of a devotional path, and not necessarily the only way, what does this mean? Tears. Oceans of tears. Kirpal used to give the example of the flowering tree. First there is rain, then blossoms, then fruit. But if there is no rain, then? No room for dry philosophy here. One must first long for God in whatever form or manner is heartfelt for the devotee. Then be concerned about higher things. Even the great vedantin Sankara wrote in one of his devotional hymns:

   "O God, I know there is no difference between You and me, but I am Thine, Thou art not mine, because a wave can be of the ocean, but the ocean cannot be of the wave."


(1) D.T. Suzuki, from The Gospel According to Zen, 1970, p. 39
(1b) Norman Waddell, trans., Great Ivy, The Spiritual Autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin(Shambhala, 1999), p. xxi
(2) Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York, 1988), Vol. 2, p. 267
(3) Osho, Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master (Pune, India: Osho Media International, 1979/2011), p. 162-164
(3a) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, 4.115
(3b) Irena Tweedie, Daughter of Fire (Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center, 1986), p. 539-540
(3c) Madame Guyon, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (Sargent, Georgia: SeedSowers,1975), p. 128-129
(3d) Tweedie, op. cit., p. 608
(3e) Ibid, p. 546
(3f) Hazur Baba Sawan Singh, The Philosophy of the Masters, Series Two (Beas, India: Radhasoami Satsang, 1964), p. 109
(3g) Ibid, p. 183)
(4) Swami Saradananda, Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master (Mylapore, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 6th edition, 2008), p. 1014, 813
(4a) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 14, 2.88
(4aa) Godman, David, The Power of the Presence, Part One (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 2002, p. 248
(4b) Ibid, p. 2459
(4c) Swami Lokeswarananda, The Way to God As Taught by Srti Ramakrishna (Calcutta, India: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, 1992), p. 384
(5) D. T. Suzuki, trans., The Lankavatara Sutra (Boulder, CO: Prajna Press, 1978), p. 89-90
(6) Swami Satprakashananda, The Goal and the Way (St Louis: The Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1977), p. 179
(7) Jiyu Kennett, Selling Water by the River (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), p. 172
(8) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 5.112
(9) Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Chapter 77, "The Higher Consciousness and the Mind", from Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness
(10) http://www.shiningworld.com
(11) Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. 1 (Beas: Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 2010), p. 446-447
(11a) Hazur Baba Sawan Singh, op. cit., p. 159, 172
(12) Brunton, unpublished, bv/255/3
(13) Brunton, Vol. 16, Part 1, 4.17
(13a) Ibid, Vol. 14, 3.61
(14) Asvaghosa, Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion (Dharamsala, India: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1976), p. 19
(15) Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (New York, N.Y>: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), p. 224-225
(16) Rajinder Singh, Spiritual Thirst, p.
(17) Talks with Ramana Maharshi (Carlsbad, California: Inner Directions Publishing, 2001), p. 141, 118, 99
(18) Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing (Los Gatos, California: Open Gate Publishing, 2004), p. 199-200
(19) Arran Stephens, Journey to the Luminous (Seattle, Washington: Elton-Wolf Publishing, 1999), p. 249-250;
(20) Darshan Singh, Streams of Nectar (Naperville, IL: SK Publications), p. 263
(21) Kirpal Singh, Spiritual Elixir - Chapter 20
(21a) Darshan Singh, Streams of Nectar (Naperville, Illinois: SK Publications, 1993), p. 174
(22) anadi, book of enlightenment, p. 293-294
(23) Ibid, p. 145, 245
(24) Ibid, p. 158
(25) Darshan Singh, op. cit., , p. 106-107
(26) Kirpal Singh, Godman, p. 148, 153
(27) Kennett, op. cit. p. 206
(28) Ibn Al ‘Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, trans. by R.W.J. Austin (Mahwah, New Jersey: The Paulist Press, 1980), p. 93
(29) The Enneads, v. 8, 4
(30) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, 6.513, 524
(31) David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part One (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 2000), p. 233
(32) Talks with Ramana Maharshi, op. cit., p.
(33) Ibid, p.
(34) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 5.216, 5.233
(35) David Godman, op. cit., p. 133
(36) Darshan Singh, Love's Last Madness, p. 75
(37) V.S. Iyer, Commentaries, Vol. 1 (edited by Mark Scorelle, Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies, 1999), p. 197
(38) John R. McRae, The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism, 1986), p.
(38a) Markides, Kyriacos, Fire in the Heart (New York, New York: Penguin/Arkana, 1991), p. 142-145; What Kostas then says is very interesting;

   “Buddha was not an incidental self-consciousness. After entering that state he was able to foresee what was about to happen and instructed his disciples on the matter. It was that prophecy that alerted the three Magi from the East to travel to Bethlehem in order to pay homage to the newborn Godman."

   "The Christ Logos..is born and crucified eternally within the static condition of the Absolute. And this static condition expresses itself within time and space according to the level of consciousness reached by entities that passed through the Human Idea."
[see "The Idea of Man" on this website for a discussion of how, in the teaching of Daskalos, a 'Self-Conscious-Soul' is formed when a 'Holy Monad' passes through the archetypal 'Human Idea.']

   "What the Buddha saw was not a prophecy in the sense of just foreseeing events that were about to happen within time and space. He foresaw a structural turning point in the evolution of humanity..The descent of Christ into human form was not just a historical detail within the unfoldment of phenomena. It is a stage that is inevitably reached on any planet upon which human evolution unfolds."

(39) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part One, 4.42
(40) Sri Nisargdatta, I AM THAT
(41) Brunton, unpublished essay
(42) The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism by John R. McRae 1986
(43) Soami Shiv Dayal Singh, Sar Bachan, Poetry, 220:20
(44) Tripura Rahasya, or the Mystery Beyond the Trinity, trans. by Swami Ramananda Saraswathi (Tiruvannamalai, South India: Sri Ramanasramam, 1971), p. 187
(45) William Cenkner, A Tradition of Teachers: Sankara and the Jagadgurus Today (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1983), p. 11-12
(46) V.S. Iyer, op. cit., p. 196-197
(47) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 3, 1.22, 1.23
(48) Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I AM THAT (Durham, North Carolina: Acorn Press, 1988), p. 85
(48a) Irena Tweedie, Daughter of Fire (Inverness, California: The Golden Sufi Center, 1986), p. 794
(49) Kirpal Singh, Godman, Chapter 28
(50) Portrait of Perfection: A Pictorial Biography of Sant Kirpal Singh (Bowling Green, VA: Sawan Kirpal Publications, 1981), p. 189