Raghu struggles with two deadly diseases in India while awaiting word from Ram Dass about his Guru, and ends up visiting “the Mother” at the Kainchi Ashram, where he finds peace and restfulness.
Then Ram Dass informs Raghu that he has found Maharaji, his Guru, which excites Raghu because now he can finally meet him and go back to America, or so he thinks…
Raghu: Hi. I’m Raghu Markus. Well, I had heard about “Dehli Belly” but I never knew that you could actually have projectile waste coming from two orifices at once. As soon as I recovered from dysentery, I contacted hepatitis; so in my first month in India, I contracted two deadly diseases; talk about forced purification. So while recouping near the ashram, I waited for word from Ram Dass that he had found his guru but nothing yet.
Then I started to feel a little bit more human and it was arranged that I could have a short visit with the Mother of the ashram; again simply called “Mother”. She was very old I had heard and had some sort of motor-control muscle disease and I wondered to myself, “Geez, it’d be terrible if all I saw was this decrepit old body instead of a holy woman but off I went and as entered her room, she contacted me with her eyes and all I could feel was a tremendous force-field. Suddenly time and space stopped. I sat in front of her and for a few brief moments, I had no thoughts and no fear; just a deep feeling of peace and restfulness. Now, I recognized in me at that moment what Ram Dass had been talking about but it was time to keep moving as I finally heard from Ram Dass that he was going to be at the ashram of Swami Muktananda, who had visited the U.S. and who Ram Dass had spent time touring with.
I arrived a couple of days before Ram Dass and was having what was called darshan of the Swami. Everyone was touching his feet but I just felt so weird about that. When Ram Dass finally arrived, I asked him about it. He said it was just the God in me acknowledging the God in the Swami. Well, no dice on that one. It just felt forced and dumb.
Ram Dass had other news though. Maharajji, his guru, was found and was staying in an ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas. Finally, the goal was in sight and I could meet the guru and then go back home.
Ram Dass: Now, um, again, oh then he’d say things like, “You went to Arminoff Cave. “Yeah.” “But you were perplexed. It didn’t mean much to you, did it?” “No.”
A few nights later, I was in my room and I thought, “Gee, one of these days I’ll have to take a bus and go over and see Lama Govinda because he’s nearby and we dedicated our book to him and he’s a very beautiful man and I otta pay a visit to him”. The next morning, at eight-o-clock there’s a car and a chauffeur. “The Guru says you are to go see Lama Govinda”. Now, ah, that is the; we are going to ah; let me just say one more thing and then let’s take a coffee break.
What I experienced at that time of meeting that man, in fact, within those first few minutes of meeting him was the experience of surrender which was no surrender. In other words, I didn’t begrudgingly give up my ego. It was as if I came home to the place where I no longer needed it. There was never at any time, a specific contract entered into where they said, “Do you want to stay? Do you want to be trained? Do you want anything?” It just all happened because we all knew it was supposed to happen. They took over my complete life at that point. I didn’t leave that temple again except to go to Dehli once, which I’ll tell you about later, for seven months and when I left I came back here to the United States for a trial run so to speak; for some work here; some sadhana here. They took over my food, my clothing, my training; everything. Never, anybody asked or said. It was all done from then on from inside.
I learned about what inside education is about and we’ll talk about that after the coffee break but the point I want to press home is that as a Westerner, the concept of surrender had been very, um, um, unpalatable to me because it was ego surrender and ego meant giving up to somebody else. It was like a power struggle and you lost and this man was at the place where there was no other person you were giving up to. I can’t get too close to this yet until I tell you more things but I can give you the feeling for it now and everything I did from then on was done with absolute joy. There was no thing they could ask of me that was too hard. It was austerities that were not austere. No matter what it was: tapas that was certainly not, ah, not in any way difficult to do because I was living almost within this man; within this man. For the first time, I understood what the concept of a guru was about. You see, a guru is your doorway to God; your doorway to the beyond. A guru is not just a groovey teacher. You know, it’s not a pundant. It’s not just a wise man who can teach you things. A guru is a spiritual vehicle; an entrance way. He’s a pure mirror. He isn’t anybody at all.
There is a paragraph that is the last thing Rene’ Damar wrote in Mt. Analog which is very appropriate at this moment. He didn’t finish the book. He died but he had notes for the end of it that his wife had included in the book and this is was the last note he had written: By our calculations, thinking of nothing else, by our desires abandoning all other hopes, by our efforts, renouncing all bodily comforts, we manage to gain entrance into this new world so it seemed to us but we learned later that if we were able to approach Mt. Analog, it was because the invisible doors of that invisible country had been opened to us by those who guard them. The cock crowing in the milky dawn thinks that its call raises the sun; the child howling in the closed room thinks that its cry opens the door but sun and mother follow courses set by their own beings. Those who see us, even though we cannot see them, open the door in answer to our puerile calculations, our unsteady desires and our awkward efforts with a generous welcome. And that’s much more the way the Universe really is and just to reflect upon as you sip your coffee, let me say, as it turned out later, Bhagwan Dass had been meditating in a monastery prior to going to Katmandu; had just left Katmandu and he got an internal message to go to Katmandu and as it turned out later, I had found out that the Guru had sent for me. That’s fun isn’t it? Enjoy your coffee we’ll commence again in fifteen minutes.
What has been said thus far is from one way of looking at it, an introduction. Perhaps another level of looking at it, it is that which I truly have to offer you because what I will talk about from now on is what happened after I stayed at the temple; what training I received, what they taught me and how what I learned about, what is that state of consciousness that the Guru was in and so on and all of that is meaningful to, you can only really hear it when you share with me a very firm faith, faith; and the first part of this afternoon was really to convey to you the way in which my own faith evolved. Part and parcel of Western ways of thinking that, um, almost are built into the way in which one tests to know hypothesis in science is a type of cynicism and it is just that type of cynicism of, “I don’t believe it, show me” that closes all these doors to us in the West. We feel we’re gonna be conned if we allow ourselves to have this irresponsible emotional faith that we can’t justify to a hard-headed scientist and it’s really only by telling that story that I know how to convey to you that which is really, ah, unlabelable other than by implication because what I evolve; it’s interesting as I was going to leave India, the Guru had said to me, “Is there something you want?” and I thought about it for a number of weeks and I came back and I said to him, “The only thing I can think that I want is not to lose faith” cause as long as, no matter how bad it gets, I know of this possibility. I have that faith to keep struggling to pursue my sadhana and that’s a very ephemeral thing to covey to another human being is ones, is faith to be able to do the work. You see, all of you know everything you need to know to do a lot on yourselves but many of you doubt too much whether or not: A: you can do it, B: whether it will pay off, C: whether there’s any pay off really there at all or is it just some mushy-headed thinking on a pack of hallucinating romantics; not you people don’t think that so much but, we, “Western Consciousness” think that with a rational mind because this system that we’re gonna be dealing with is, in large part, netted to the rational system; superior to it, above it, beyond it, behind it, inside it and a system can not look at something outside of itself; that’s by definition and since we only know the world as we know it through our rational minds and our senses that which is available to us other ways, we tend to reject and we tend, in order to reject it, to attach a certain kind of emotional rejection to it, I mean, we do, we have a self-righteous cynicism; Hmm, that we apply.
William James, in his varieties of religious experience, said and I think I can quote; a very famous paragraph. He said: Our normal waking consciousness is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens there lie other consciousness’; other forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without ever suspecting their existence but apply the requisite stimulus and in a touch, they are all there in their entirety. Types, different types of mentality which probably somewhere have their feel of application or adaptation, no account of the Universe can be total which leaves these other types of consciousness quite disregarded but how to regard them is the question, for they are so discontinuous with our normal consciousness. They may determine our attitudes though they fail to furnish formulas. They may open a region though they do not give a map. At any rate, they forbid the premature closing of our accounts with reality. And that was as close as he would come; he was right at the cusp between science and what we call the mystical and all he said was, don’t throw it out too fast; keep the door open.
I was just asked to review a book for the um, Journal of Contemporary Psychology and it was called, um, “Trance and Possession States”. It was a book of, um, a symposium from ah, from the ah, Buck Memorial work in Canada. Very interesting, very interesting, for the most part, it was a type of reductionistic type of endeavor of explaining away all of the possession states and trance states in terms of clinical pathology. The anthropologist could be free of it because they have a delightful occupation of merely pointing. They say, “Wow, look at that, look at that”. They don’t have to put it down as the theoretician does or the psychologist and the religious people in there were all mainly Western “religioes” who were explaining it away, saying we need a greater psychology of religion by which they mean the way in which personality is involved with religion which has nothing what so ever to do with spirit but that paragraph from William James was at the end of one of the articles which was one of the better articles and it struck me as humorous that the quote was there although the whole rest of the book was as if a complete denial of the meaning of that quote; and so and even in order to be, you see, I read the books that I am now working with in my own training five years ago and I knew them well enough to give lectures on them. I intellectually understood them, the theory behind them but they meant nothing to me. They weren’t, they were, just as if they had been written in another language. They just; when I read them now, “Yeah, right, that’s what it means, that’s what you, that’s the feel, Oh, Yeah!”; because now I was open in that way. I had said, “Alright I won’t be a Western social scientist any more, see. I’ll be an Eastern scientist. I’ll study the science of the yoga. I’ll go the whole trip. Who knows where it will come up? It doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter.”
Mr. Erwin pointed out to me that maybe my last remark, at the, before the coffee break could have been misconstrued in the view of the fact that I suggested that since my Guru had sent for me, maybe I was on a messianic trip. He didn’t say that. I interpreted that.
When I light the incense at the beginning of our meeting, I reverence and invoke the Guru. Now, it’s hard for anybody that is sitting in the audience holding tightly to their Western cynicism to understand when I say that there is literally no me of any significance left and that I am specifically a vehicle through which he is working and that I know that and I just don’t surmise it. I know that and therefore, what I do when I come up here is literally go on automatic. I’m merely a rent-a-robot and I haven’t any idea what the game is involved. Maybe, his whole life and my whole life was in order to be able to say one word which will be the clue for one of you to use and that was the meaning of it all. Who knows and you’re the one. What is the one? It’s a continuous cycle. We’re all becoming more conscious. We’re all at different points in the cycle and to get hung up in one’s individual social identity and social role is an attachment that we can ill afford, ill afford.
You know, the actual teaching that I was subjected to at the temple was not presented by the Guru. I saw very little of him. It was taught to me by another jungle sadhu, jungle holy man, extraordinary person. My teacher was, he was about fifty years old. He left home and he went into the jungle at about eight years old. He’s a Brahmin. He’s of the highest, the priestly cast, in India; very pure man; very pure man. There were certain unusual qualities about him to say the least. First, he’s silent; he’s mauna . He’s been silent for fifteen years so all the teachings’ done by chalkboard which is kind of a cop-out but it’s alright. It’s different than using the energy directly and I was silent all the time I was at the temple. I was, for all those months, I was using the chalkboard also; extraordinary discipline. He, um, reads and writes about eight languages, different languages, not dialects, languages; has had no formal schooling that I know of; very irradiate person. He taught me in English, beautiful English.
The many brustas , householders, they come and they give money to the Guru and this money is often used to build temples and my teacher is the person who architecturally designs all the temples, hires all the help, buys all the materials, supervises all the building, pays all the help, runs all the temples, did all the teaching of me, has many devotees of his own, sleeps two hours a night. He weighs ninety pounds. His total food intake for fifteen years has been two glasses of milk a day; right? According to the World Health Organization he’s dead; very unusual fellow; has many powers, many powers. He undertook my training. I don’t know how it was arranged but there he was teaching me and ah, it was many months before I understood that what he was teaching me was a highly traditional, highly systematic, highly formal body of knowledge. Because he taught it so exquisitely, that he taught it from inside me. It was very much like a Lotus unfolding. It was if he would lead me to ask to wonder the next thing and just as I would wonder, there he would be handing me the answer so it was this most unusual feeling I had that I was; it was all coming out of me. I was learning it all myself and that it was completely tailored to me and it had nothing to do with any system and then I could come back and I could pick up one of these books on Ashtanga Yoga and I could read them and they were practically direct statements of the thing I was learning. It taught me a lot about education of, the thing of which I had been a professor of for a number of years.
The basis of the teaching, Ashtanga Yoga or Raja Yoga is really an eclectic type of yoga. It’s really, it’s ah, everything but the kitchen sink. You go all methods at once in order to reach enlightenment and it’s systematically, Ashtanga means eight-limbs, eight-limbed yoga. The basic approach is to purify the body and purify the thought process to then bring thought process down to single-pointedness of mind such as any meditation does; at the same time to learn how to work with, mobilize and direct and control the energy within the system in the body and then to put the energy through that one-pointed thing like a laser beam and then turn the whole thing back on itself; that’s the process.
Now, when I used to wonder when I took drugs why I came down. See, after the Guru swallowed all that acid, hmmm, it was as if I sort of lost interest in drugs. I am deeply appreciative of what they have done for me. I would like to be able to take LSD every 6 months or a year to see where it’s and I am in relation to one another and I what I can remember that I have forgotten. My Guru never has told me not to do anything; nor has my teacher, just as they required any contract from me. It was up to me. It’s my journey. Each person’s on his own journey. The, ah, we can only be there for one another and each person hears what he can hear and does what he can do and any time you have to do it because somebody made you agree to do it, you can be sure that the motivation is not sufficient to be able to do austerities that are not austere.
The first limb of this yoga is called Yama. It’s mainly purification but it’s got a lot of things that we, Westerners have got to reexamine and it helps us a lot, I think. There are some of them which are complex, ah, which we’re not going into many of them in any detail. I’m going to give you a survey; the feeling of what it’s all about and how I understand what’s happening in Western term. The five of these in Yama; there are five subdivisions is non-killing, non-stealing or taking that which is some property of others, truthfulness, not lying, not receiving of gifts, that is not taking something for one’s own enjoyment; it’s something to do with possessions and Ramachari which means countenance.
Now, when Bhagwan Dass, this vital, vibrant, 23-year-old Westerner first said to me, “Well, you know, I’m Ramachari, and so you’ll probably wanna become so too”; the thought appalled me as it does most Westerners. We have just gotten to our new experience of sexual freedom. Sex is just coming of age as an open matter and it is a very hard matter for Westerners to consider the idea of suspending his external sexual activities in order to pursue his yoga; so I just laughed because sex was one of the very important things in my life; all kinds, all kinds. I think I had partly from neurosis and partly just for psychology and partly just because I was a tremendous sensualist and partly because I was a Freudian and partly for many reasons; I had to try everything, lots; every what would be called normal and perverse forms of sex.
Transcribed by Jessie Senibaldi