There are a lot of things that my guru Maharajji said to me in the small amount of time I was with him.
I had been with him from November, 1967 to March, 1968. “With him” means I was in a temple to which he was connected. I’d estimate I saw him a total of four hours in that time span. Out of that time came “Be Here Now,” because he was involved in it very clearly.
There was a moment in 1968 when Hari Dass, who was the teacher that Maharajji had given me, came to my room, and he was silent. He wrote on his slate, “Babaji has just given his ashirvad for your book.” I said, “What does ashirvad mean?” and he said, “Blessing.” What book was he talking about? I had no idea, so when I left India and came home, and started to live like a yogi in New Hampshire, I didn’t know what to do with my time.
I thought, “He gave me his blessings for a book, I guess I’m supposed to write a book.”
So I wrote one of those, you know, ‘visiting the mysterious East’ type books and thought, well, I guess I’m supposed to write this. It got turned down by all the publishers and I thought, “This is the way a total meshuggeneh bhakti thinks. If he gave a blessing for a book, it’s his book, and he’s the publisher. If he doesn’t want the book to be published, that’s his problem, not my problem. I mean, I did what I could do? I’m not attached to the outcome. So there.
I was teaching that spring at the Sculpture Studio in New York, a series of about 16 lectures, night after night, and they were far out evenings. 40 people came the first night, 50, then 70, and it just kept building, and it turned into this incredible Sangha or Satsang that lasted beyond those days.
Out of that, maybe half of that audience ended up coming to Maharajji in India after that, just from those nights. He drew in who he wanted, or whatever happened, whichever idea you want to use. So these were all taped, and then this woman said she could type them up, and she typed them up, and she gave me this big stack of manuscripts, and I was stuck with this stack in my trunk, and I went West.
One of the things I was doing was teaching in Esalen, and at Esalen, there was a guy named John who was a stockbroker from New York, who was playing the gardener there. So I stayed with him and one day I was changing a tire on my car, and he saw this stack and asked if he could look at it. He took it, and he’s a writer… he went through it and he came back and says, “You know, there’s a hell of a book here,” I said “Really?” and he shows me the sections he picked out and it was the most bizarre thing.
They were consistently those moments during the lecture when the whole thing would start to transform itself. The people would dissolve into just the presence of the space together.
The words would be coming out of this kind of collective awareness, and I would completely disappear in those few moments within each lecture. Those were all the sections he had outlined. We pulled all those, and those became the brown section in the middle of the book.