Monday, December 29, 2008
33. Stages in spiritual Journey (first installment) ( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
Stage 1. Hunger of the soul. Searching
Stage 2 a. practical steps, (such as, meditation, mental chanting of God’s name) to realize God are started. May hear sounds like running water. Bliss, during meditation that does not rise to the level of ecstasy. Waves of kundalini, throbbing at lower forehead.
Stage 2b. During meditation person becomes oblivious to time and space (or may even be to the person)
Stage 3a. God responds. First touch. Glimpses of Divine , first Samadhi ( or trance-like state )
Stage 3b. After first touch, during meditation person experiences any of the following
c., Out of body experiences
d. Waves of ecstasy
Stage 4. Person is connected with God all the time, or most of the time
Here are the details:
Stage 1. “The hunger of soul is the first necessity. All else will follow”
By William Law, the British mystic.
Except for preselected persons, this stage may last for a long time. I know of two persons, whose first stage lasted for over fifty-five years. Something is missing in one‘s life. One keeps on asking questions, such as, “What is the purpose of life?”, “is this all there is to life?”
And then there are the eternal questions, which mankind has been asking since time immemorial. “Who created this universe?” “If God created everything, then, who created God, or from where did He come?” “Do we have free will or is everything preordained?” ?” " Why should we be blamed for our actions, when we are merely doing what He makes us do. (Bible: St Paul in Romans 9:19)”.
“ We are merely a product of nature( genes inherited from our parents ) and nurture ( our upbringing )), we had no say in choosing these two processes. Whatever happens, happens, because of interaction between us, environment and sheer chance. How much independence do we really have?”
“Why is there so much suffering in this world?” “Granted, that God is not responsible for the evil and suffering, but why does God allow it to happen?” "Why does God not reveal Himself? Why is He hidden from everybody?” " Why does He not talk to us, help us, guide us…….... so that we can build a better society?”
"Is there life after death?” “Does transmigration of soul takes place?” “If religions are God’s code of laws for human conduct, then, why are there so many religions, which differ from each others? There ought to be just one religion, one set of rules, God's rules.” “Universe is made up of matter and energy. If God did not create the universe, how was it created? Can something be made from sheer nothing, as scientists say? Is it not a ridiculous notion?” “Is God accessible? Or is He outside time, space, form or boundaries?” “Does God answer to prayers?” “Are there any limits to God’s powers?”
“ Is there a purpose to the universe?” “ Is it a grand, gigantic experiment, carried out by God, , involving millions of quadrillions of star systems, incandescent with light and fire, spread over googolplex of miles, harboring countless diverse life forms, spinning like tops and flying like birds, for billions of years? Doesn’t He know the results of the experiment beforehand, or does, even He, needs experimentation to determine whether the outcomes tally with the theories? Or did He, in His own inscrutable way, deliberately choose not to know the results any earlier?”
"Why is there anything. Why is there, simply, nothing.". ( a question asked by Leibniz in 18th century )"
Another feature, often always present, is that such persons are inordinately attracted to the supernatural, or God / deities/religion. These persons are drawn to the esoteric and mysterious. Another frequent trait is the compassionate nature of these people; misery of less fortunate never fails to touch their heartstrings.
What keeps such persons in first stage, often, for such a long time?
The answer is, two words: “Unfulfilled desires”
Look at an average person’s early life. He/she has to go to school/college and finish education. That is the goal society has established for him/her. For men, in underdeveloped and developing countries, the next overriding concern is to find a job, otherwise, how is the family going to eat? For women, in these countries, it is to get married (parents are ashamed of themselves and looked down upon by society, if they cannot arrange marriage for their daughter).
To be continued
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Due to the lack of knowledge about the exact methodology used by the travelers ( most of the books, in this area, are in foreign languages that I do not know, and, I have no desire to be a scholar; I, being a mere lover of God ), I will mainly draw from ‘shahabnama ( see sidebar )’ , which has enough details.
Shahab pursued God, by his own account, for at least forty-eight years (see post 9, preselected ….”). He mentions his reading about the four big and several minor channels of Islamic spirituality ( called tarikat or tasauwuf). He should, then, be an authority on Islamic spirituality. But nothing surprises the reader more than his conclusion, that spirituality is nothing more than a method used to entice people to the dry and tedious, often difficult, routine of the practices of the five basic tenets of Islam, called shariat. For sure, the practices are difficult to do, because they have to be performed continuously.
For instance the daily prayers, called namaz (consisting of thanking and glorifying God and the prophets, and asking God for help), requires washing ( and water may be ice cold ) of parts of body before namaz, clean clothes (without urine ), getting up and leaving a warm bed before dawn, and saying namaz five times daily at certain hours ( a rather long namaz before sleep ). Namaz is mandatory; there is no exemption, even for one namaz (except, in certain conditions, such as, travel, sickness or unfavorable environments) in whole adult life. Another tenet requires one month per year of day-time fast, of food and water. There are three more similarly tough tenets
Therefore, according to Shahab, just as children in kindergarten, are taught through play with seducing toys, so the toys of spirituality are used to entice the seekers towards the true path, the path of shariat. Seekers may experience dazzling lights, mesmerizing sounds, of running streams and rushing ocean-waves, enchanting music, invisible voices, shaking of the body, erection of hair,etc. Seekers may think these occurrences are from God, but they are not. They are just seducing toys. The real purpose of all this is to entice the seeker towards shariat.
How does shariat come into the picture? Because, in order to practice various spiritual disciplines, one must strictly and absolutely follow shariat . So the seeker develops a habit of saying prayers , keeping fasts, etc.
Shariat is supreme. It is the big river which leads to God. Various Islamic spiritual channels are just streams which merge into the river. Without shariat ( or following the tenets of Islam ) spirituality( tarikat) is worthless, even if a practitioner walks over water
It also follows, that if one can follow shariat ( which most Muslims do, especially when they get old), then, there is no need of traveling the path of spirituality. It will be redundant.
Spirtual disciplines are similar to what are used in other religions. Fundamental practice is repetition of God’s name and Quranic phrases ( called zikar ). There are others.
I do not know, if amongst the practitioners of Islamic spirituality, this is the majority view. I hope not. I have heard of several spiritually advanced Muslim persons , who , at least externally, did not follow shariat.
Perhaps Shahab is right that shariat must be strictly followed for anybody to reach God through Islamic spirituality or tarikat but the sublime heights of tarikat (nearness and realization of God) are way loftier than mere following of shariat. There are over a billion Muslims worldwide, millions are strict followers of shariat, ,(they should all be God realized, according to Shahab, as far as I understood him ) but those who are near God are perhaps only a few dozens, and those few went through the furnace of tarikat
The great 11th century Muslim saint, Daata Gunj Bakhash,in his book, states, that his teacher (spiritual guide )lived in caves for sixty years. Living in caves and seclusion from society are the ways of tarikat
Friday, December 19, 2008
31. The easiest path. Sixth instalment ( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
Initially it is very difficult. You will forget it once you get engaged in some activity. Hours will often pass, before you remember it. Do not lose heart. Keep on trying. It will take years, to have partial success, unless you are spiritually advanced to begin with
Once developed, you will yourself be surprised at the fact, that your mind is automatically repeating God’s name , while you are walking, or doing something in which mind is not engaged. You may be half sleep and realize that your mind is saying “God, God…” on its own. Mental activity, like reading a book, or talking to someone, stops this mental chanting. It may remind you of Brother Lawrence (see Posts, 15-18) and his method, which is very similar.
I have read in a book (the name of the book escapes me, but I think it was biography of Swami Brahmananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) that once a person complained to the Swami of lack of spiritual progress. He gave him a mantra (some holy word/s, with God’s name in it) and told him to repeat it all the time, and he guaranteed him spiritual progress in one year. “Come back in one year, and complain to me, if it does not happen” or words to that effect.
Swami Ramdas (see sidebar, "In quest of God…") was given a mantra by his guru. He left his house, wife, and children and travelled penniless, repeating the mantra all the time. He realized God in few months (although, he did not start from zero, he had been struggling beforehand for years)
Mental chant of God’s name does not guarantee God-realization, but it does guarantee spiritual progress. Why does it happen? Does God’s name have an intrinsic power? Shahab ( Shahabnama, see side bar ) writes, and I quote " How can it be possible, that God’s name should have no effect (power)”.
Swami Ramakrishna gives contradictory answers to this question. On one place, in his biography ( see side bar ), he states that mere repetition of God’s name is ineffective: " How will the mere repetition of ‘Brahma’ profit you if you are not imbued with discrimination and dispassion? It is the empty sound of a conch-shell”
On another occasion he stated : "The name of God has very great sanctity. It may not produce immediate result, but one day it must bear fruit. It is like a seed left on the cornice of a building…..house crumbles… seed falls…..germinates, …..and at last bears fruit”
And, in another place he says: "If a man repeats the name of God, his body, mind, and everything becomes pure.”
Sunday, December 14, 2008
30. Types of paths, continued (fifth instalment ).( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
Then, what is in it for you?
Several things. Firstly, it makes you feel good. Secondly, it helps the needy person. Thirdly, it helps society. Fourthly, others may be influenced by your example, and it may start a movement, which may benefit millions. Finally, if the motive behind your action is to please God, Who, in His infinite grace made it possible for you to do that action, and you thank God that He made it happen, then you may even realize God.
You have to understand that basically you do such things, because it makes you feel good. You are not sacrificing anything. Persons like Edhi, St Francis of Assissi, and mother Teresa of Calcutta are different from ordinary persons; they have or had innate, overpowering desire to help others. They are full of compassion. On more than one occasions, St Francis gave his own clothes to the destitute. He would kiss the wounds of lepers. Father Damien of Molokai lived with lepers in leper colony for nineteen years and died from leprosy.
Most, if not all, great mystics believe that God is in you. Therefore, if you serve another person, you are serving God, Who is in that person as well. May be, the great philanthropists I mentioned above, thought like that.
Gita, the Hindu scripture, advises us not to desire for the fruits of action, because then we will constantly worry about the results. This will feed into anxiety, attachment, and anger (if the results do not go our way). This humble mote, still at a lower plane, wants his actions to have good results.
What are the dangers of this path?
There are three problems: Firstly, it inflates the ego. Vanity is a great peril, even for advanced aspirants. One may start thinking that he is doing all these good things, whereas, the correct attitude should be that he/she is just a machine, God is the driver. Secondly, the person starts thinking that he is such a nice person. He starts doing good deeds, so that others may think highly of him. Thirdly, too much activity may lead into too little time for God. You may forget God. Construction of schools and hospitals, is good, but one may be treading on razor’s edge.
Sri Ramakrishna said, that you should pray, “O God, make my worldly duties fewer and fewer………I find that I forget Thee when I am involved in too many worldly activities. I may think I am doing unselfish work, but it turns out to be selfish.”
A final note. It is said that the path of action also leads to love for God
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
29. Types of paths, continued ( fourth installment ).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
1. To practice meditation, you can sit in a comfortable chair. You do not have to assume lotus, or semi-lotus position. Lotus position has its advantages, but if you or old, or your joints are stiff, or you get pain, do not worry, just sit in a comfortable chair. Fully relaxed. No part of body should be under stress, otherwise, soon the position will become unbearable, and you will have pain. When you start, ask yourself this question; 'can I maintain this position for one or two hours?’
2. Back should be straight. Ideally it should not be supported by the chair. Too comfortable a chair will lead to sleep.
Why should the spine be straight? Because, after some practice, waves start moving up and down the spine. These are, so called, waves of kundalini or serpent power (see sidebar, "living with…”). Straight spine expedites the development and propagation of these waves. According to Sri Ramakrishna, the development of these waves is an essential precursor to enlightenment.
You can read about kundalini and different centers of body, called chakras, in books about yoga. I do not know enough about them (and do not care, because I follow the path of love for God), but erect spine, and the next instruction, does help.
3. Look slightly towards the center of the eyebrows, as if you have a squint, with eyes closed. After a while you will get throbbing or some other sensation at that point. Now you can stop looking at that point and just concentrate at that point. The new sensation will help you to concentrate at that point. This is, initially, a difficult practice, and an un-natural one, for the eyeballs, because both eyes are turned inwards (normally when one eye moves inwards, the other moves outwards). It produces strain on the eye muscles. One gets pain in the eyes, one falls sleep, and so on. But keep on doing it. It took this nothingness years to learn it. It helps in enhancement of floating or swinging sensation. If you cannot look towards the center, at least concentrate at that point.
I was always intrigued by this injunction, despite the fact, that Sri Yukteswar, the great guru of Swami Yogananda , had said somewhere, that you do not have to develop squint, while meditation ( or words to that effect ).
The reason I was intrigued was the fact, that Sri Ramakrishna, went into nirbikalpa Samadhi when he concentrated upon the center of eyebrows, at the instruction of Totapuri (see 22, fourth installment)
I, recently read, in Gita (see footnote), the most important of all Hindu scriptures, the following ( 8 :10):
"………………..with your mind completely stilled and your concentration fixed in the center of spiritual awareness between the eyebrows, you will realize the supreme Lord”
The Bhagvad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran
Thursday, December 4, 2008
28. Types of paths, continued (Third installment).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
This is a dry path. In the end, the path of wisdom and the path of love meet. In other words, an aspirant who realizes God through knowledge gets love for God, and an aspirant who loves God, now, also understands God and gets knowledge and wisdom.
Lord Buddha succeeded in realizing God through this path. Paul Brunton appeared to have followed this path. He has written several books, especially for Western audience, and has given practical details (see footnote) His guru, Maharishee Ramana, realized God, through this path, without any teacher.
I do not practice this path; therefore, I cannot give you the practical details. I tried to follow this path, initially, but failed, due to inability to stay awake during meditation. The theory behind this path is, as follows:
The aim is to realize one’s own self. This Self is hidden in the innermost recesses of one’s mind. To reach this Self, is extremely difficult, because one has to quieten one’s mind. One’s mind is constantly active and spinning thoughts. Except in deep, dreamless sleep, it is always active. Its nature is to be always active and make thoughts. Therefore, to stop one’s thoughts, in order for Self to emerge, is extremely difficult, and requires years of constant practice.
Why should one want to realize one’s inner Self? What good will that do? Is there any hidden, vast, mysterious, wisdom or knowledge present in that, so called, Self, which, the person himself, is not aware of? Is it reasonable to assume such a strange proposition? In other words, why should there be such hidden knowledge? Where did it come from? Why should this knowledge be different than the knowledge one accumulates, throughout one’s life, by learning through one‘s senses, since, one’s first breath in this world?
The answer to all these questions is, yes, yes, yes. The reason one wants to know one’s Self is, that the Self is akin (or made in the image of) to the Supreme Self (or God), which is present everywhere, both inside and outside us. In simple terms, God is within us.
There is no proof of it. It just is. To borrow an example from Aldous Huxley, “by looking at water there is nothing to suggest that it is made of two gases, but we just accept it as the truth. Under rigorous experimental conditions, water splits into hydrogen and oxygen”
(in, The perennial philosophy by Aldous Huxley )
Similarly, the great Masters have told us that after years of practice of meditation, aimed at focusing the mind on Self, one can silence one’s thoughts. If this state, which has aptly been named as ‘alert passivity’ is sustained for some time, a sort of vacuum is created in the mind. A practitioner of this art, Sudhei Babu, in Brunton’s book (see sidebar, ".........India" ) said; "…….God……..the soul, the higher power, shall I say, enters and fills that vacuum.”
Knowing one’s self was considered as important, in ancient times, in far-away ancient Greece, as in India and Far East. One of the two sayings of Oracle of Delphi (mentioned by Homer, in eighth century B.C ) was ‘Know Thyself’
1. The secret path by Paul Brunton
2. The perennial philosophy by Aldous Huxley
Saturday, November 29, 2008
27. Types of paths, continued, (Second installment).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
The answer is that some get it free, as a gift from God (as this unworthy mote got it), others have to cultivate it. A devotee asked this question: "how can I develop love for God?” Sri Ramakrishna replied, "Repeat His name…..” The devotee asked the next question, “How can I take delight in God’s name?”
He replied: "pray to God with a yearning heart that you may take delight in His name.”
The essence of his reply is to pray to God to grant the person love for Him. Prayer is a mortal’s last resort
It is also mentioned by sages, that to develop longing for spirituality one must seek the company of holy men. If it is not possible to have the company of holy men, then spiritual books are a substitute. This mote has been guided and consoled by books. I was initially made aware of the world of spirituality by a book, “shahabnama” (see sidebar). I had absolutely no belief in the existence of life after death, but my views changed after reading that book. I was comforted for almost a whole year by “pilgrim of stars” (see sidebar). If book could speak, it would have testified to my anguish. Several other books, listed in sidebar, held a light, and showed me the path, in the dark night.
I cannot, ever, repay the debt I owe to these authors. Their voices, guided me, sometimes across centuries ( Brother Lawrence over three centuries, St Teresa of Avila, over five centuries, and Daata Gunj Bakhash over ten centuries). The diary entries of Nancy Mayorga, her ecstasies and her sorrows , stirred the depths of my soul.
The journeys of Paul Brunton, in foreign lands, in search of truth, and ultimately finding it, are full of suspense. They leave an indelible impression. Love for God is palpable, and drips from every page of ‘Confessions’ by St Augustine, written, sixteen centuries ago. One feels, that one is not alone, countless seekers have gone before him, and some have left their footprints in the sands of time, to guide us, to sustain us, and to comfort us. They wrote these books, not for personal aggrandizement, but to help others and to glorify God
And sometimes, some holy souls, even come back from other worlds, from where no one comes, at God’s orders, to comfort an aspirant in distress, and wipe his/her tears (see the entry 3. 'The dream', and entry 14, St Therese). I quote entry 3, because it was told to me by the person himself.
God has everything. We cannot give him anything which he does not have. He does not need anything. However, there is one thing, which we can give, and He will like our gift, and that is our love for Him. Our love, without asking for anything in return. Even He, who has everything, likes it. He is drawn by a devotee’s love. Read again the entry, 17. Brother Lawrence….
"….I eat and drink at the Lord’s Table.” In another letter he writes: "….this King, full of goodness and mercy, lovingly embraces me, seats me at His table, waits on me Himself, gives me the keys to His treasures, and treats me in all things His favorite; He converses with me and takes delight in me in countless ways….This is what I see from time to time while in His holy presence.”
To be continued
Monday, November 24, 2008
26. Types of paths (To God), First installment .....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
However, there are three standard paths. The path of love, the path of wisdom, and the path of action, conveniently remembered as the three ‘h’s’, the heart, the head and the hand.
The path of love is considered the easiest path, but it is said to be slower than the others. It does not require anything else as a pre- requisite, except the love for God. But it is no ordinary love. It has to be intense yearning for God. It should be a complete obsession. There is a story to illustrate it. Once a disciple asked his teacher about the longing for God that is needed for God –realization. The teacher took the disciple to a river, and immersed his head under water. The disciple panted and struggled. When he reached near drowning, the guru took him out. “How did you feel?” the guru asked. “I thought I was going to die”. “That is how you should feel about God”
Is love of God enough for God-realization? The answer is that I do not know. I am not a God-realized person to answer it with certainty. On one hand I know that the love of God, once developed, never goes away, but is it enough? It only assures that the person will continue pursuing his objective, till death. But God-realization is not in the hands of the seeker. Ultimately it is God’s decision to give him, His Grace. The grace of God is absolutely necessary to realize God. Does God, always reward a person who has pursued Him with single-mindedness? It is often said, that God never allows one’s efforts to go waste, and always rewards one’s efforts. But what is the reward in this case? Full or only partial God-realization? Does anybody really know the mind of God?
On the other hand the person may still have significant attachment to the world (for instance, family, wealth, name, fame, ego, craving for power, etc). God –realization only occurs when one’s heart is empty of all other attachments, and exclusively loves God.
Another factor to consider is that how much time is available to the person to attain his objective. Although, he may be making reasonable progress, he may die before he has reached his destination. According to Hindu philosophy, one has multiple lives. In his next life, such a person will start from the point he had reached in his previous life. But, other religions do not believe in multiple lives.
How much average time is needed to realize God? This question was asked by Brunton to Maharishee Ramana (see the sidebar, “A search in secret India"). The saint replied that there was no ‘average’. It depended upon the seeker’s mind; gunpowder lights up in a flash, whereas considerable time is needed to kindle a fire from wet wood
Whatever path one is following, two traits are a necessity for success; patience and perseverance. Progress is often slow and imperceptible. The seeker is unable to discern the progress, just as an ant climbing a hill does not know her progress. Therefore, patience is taxed to the limit. Perseverance is not at all a problem for true lovers, as I mentioned previously (25. Why do they travel, continued), they just cannot abandon.
To be continued
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
25. Why do they travel, continued ( second installment )).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
”The hunger of the soul is the first necessity. All else will follow.”
The Post on Sep, 6 ended with these two questions:
Do all of them travel on the same path or are there different paths?
What keeps them on the path, despite all the hardships that were mentioned previously? (6. the greatest hurdle. Aug, 30).
I will answer the second question first, because it is very brief. Why do they stay on the path, and keep travelling, despite the horrendous hardships that were mentioned on Aug, 30. The answer is that they are incapable of giving up. It is beyond their powers. They cannot abandon the pursuit of God-realization even if they wanted to.
I am only talking of the path of finding God through loving Him. I do not know of other paths. And I am only talking of true lovers of God. There are people who think that their journey on this path is for the love for God only, but it may not be strictly true. They may be in it for base motives, such as, to have name and fame or to have power. They may even have a noble motive, such as to help others. For instance, to attain supernatural powers in order to heal the sick or help the poor. They themselves may not be aware that their love is not pure. The person mentioned in Aug, 14 started on this path to attain supernatural powers, and to help others. Actually, he was doing it to satisfy his ego, but his mind was fooling him into believing that he was doing it for altruistic purposes.
Just as a ripe fruit cannot become unripe again, or a child once grown into an adult, cannot become child again, so is the person who has once developed love for God, he cannot undo or abandon his love. That is the difference between Ishaq-a-majazi ( love with anything except God )and Ishaq-a-haqiqi ( love with God). Love with material things, or creatures may end, but love with God is irreversible and never ends.
Shahab ( see sidebar) said the same thing, and the examples of fruit and child are from his book. This humble mote can attest to the truth of this statement from personal experience. Over the years of this travel, sometimes this writer would lose all hope ( occasionally, still do ). Lack of progress, and lack of response or help from God, threw everything in doubt. In despair, even the thought of ending the life has entered the head. But one thought never entered the mind, never even for one second, and that is to relinquish this journey.
As you know, the journey never ends. Even God-realized saints had their falls, because of ego. But there is a difference between the persons who have realized God, and those who are striving to realize God. God-realized persons have no fall ( or if they fall, they rise ) because God Himself protects them. Sri Ramakrishna ( see sidebar )stated in his own words :
" But one need not fear anything if one has received God’s grace. It is rather easy for a child to stumble if he holds his father’s hand; but there can be no such fear if the father holds the child’s hand.”
Swami Ramdas in his book ( see footnote ) narrates a dialogue with an abbot in Switzerland in which he expresses the same sentiments; "……… He assures you that He will never allow you to fall…."
1. World of God, by Swami Ramdas
Friday, November 14, 2008
24. Sri Ramakrishna, continued ( sixth installment ).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
He attracted young , inquisitive, idealistic, school and college students. SR was a great judge of character. He had the uncanny ability to discern their minds. With extreme care, he prepared future monks, and made Narindra ( future Swami Vivekananda )their leader. Fifteen disciples, all except one, were young men or boys. They renounced the world soon after his death, in 1886. This is a testament to their idealism and his poweful influence, even after death. He was fifty year old at the time of his death.
He did not perform any miracles, but several supernatural events have been recorded and well corroborated. For instance, Narendra ( Swami Vivekananda, his chief disciple ), narrated the account of his early visits to the Master (SR). On his second visit, he touched Narendra, and Narendra felt overwhelmed. ........walls whirling….. He cried in terror:”What are you doing to me…?” With a laugh, Master easily restored him. On his third visit, he narrates, ” in Jadu Mallick’s garden house , the Master one day touched me, and muttered something to himself. I became unconscious. The effect of the touch lingered in me for a month, like an intoxication.”
He had the ability to awaken spirituality, in others, by mere touch, or sometimes, even by just a glance. He had trained his mind so much against gold and lust, that he could not touch coins, or have intimate relationship with women. He regarded all women as mothers. He once said “I have never enjoyed a woman, even, in my dreams”.
He got married, but the marriage was never consummated, despite the fact, that he and his wife shared the same cot for eight months. His wife was trained by him, in spirituality, and became a great mystic in her own right. To test the fact that Master could not hold gold, Narendra, once hid a coin under his mattress. When Master sat on it, he developed sharp pain, as if he was stung by a scorpion.
Ramakrishna centers are all over the world!
The book listed in sidebar is the translation of the diary of Mr M (headmaster of a high school in Calcutta), a very close householder disciple of SR, who recorded the events, and wrote down Master’s words, with great fidelity.
What was his main message? Love God!
I conclude this narrative by giving you a taste of the fire burning in the Master. Here are the words of the Master, uttered, on October 11, 1884. He expressed such sentiments almost daily:
“I prayed to the Divine Mother:’ O Mother, I don’t want name or fame. I don’t want the eight occult powers………………O Mother I have no desire for creature comforts. Please grant me the boon that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet.’” Then he addressed Ishan ( a devotee ), who was holding his feet:
“Be mad! Be mad with love of God! Let world know that Ishan has gone mad and cannot perform worldly duties any more………”
Sunday, November 9, 2008
23 Sri Ramakrishna, continued (fifth installment).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
A holy man took care of him during that time. To feed him ,he would arouse him by beating him with a stick. Then he became sick from dysentery. Constant abdominal pain brought his mind down to earth.
After his recovery, an inner calmness returned to him. He appeared normal and sought the company of holy men and scholars. He acquired great knowledge by listening to learned people. He did not and could not read books.
He had acquired closeness to God during Samadhi. He realized that since God is only one, other religions must believe the same God, though, through different names. He wanted to explore other religions. He practiced Islam under a Muslim guru, Govinda Roy, and, in 1866, realized God through Islam. He wanted to learn Christianity. In 1874, he began listening to the teaching of Bible. Soon he had a spiritual experience through a picture of Madonna with Child. Three days later he had the following experience:
He saw a man of fair complexion coming towards him. He knew that he was a foreigner. He saw that his long eyes gave wonderful beauty to his serene face. Tip of his nose was flat. He wondered who he was. A voice rang in his soul; " Behold Jesus Christ! The great Yogi, the loving Son of God, one with the Father, who gave his heart’s blood……to deliver man from sorrow and misery". Then Jesus embraced him and merged in him. Years later, he told his disciples, that the nose of Jesus, that he met, was not aquiline.
SR used to say," Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God,…….he will surely realize Him."
His fame spread. When a lamp is lit, moths come, uninvited. People started to visit him. Articles about him appeared in the Calcutta press. Visitors would be struck by his holiness, his simple life style, his love for God, his profound spirituality, his encyclopedic knowledge of Hindu religion, and his samadhis. Many learned people declared him 'an incarnation of God’, just as Brahmini had done years ago.
Long time ago, he had come to know, through his supernatural powers, that one day he will have his own disciples. In his own word ," …. I would climb to the roof of the kuthi (house) in the garden, and writhing with anguish of heart, cry at the top of my voice ’ come my children! Oh where are you all’…”
To be continued
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
22. Sri Ramakrishna (SR) , continued ( fourth installment )......( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
Totapuri built a sacred fire on the auspicious day. Totapuri and SR sat before it. He sang the holy and profound mantras. Both performed the holy rites. SR took the vow of utter renunciation for God, a vow that has come unbroken from guru to disciple, from the beginning of time. His desire for enjoyment, here and hereafter, was the last to be burnt in that fire. SR received the ochre robe and loincloth from his guru (spiritual teacher). Totapuri began to teach:
"Brahman is the only Reality, ever pure, ever illumined, and ever free, beyond the limits of time, space or causation. Though apparently endowed with names and forms, through the inscrutable power of maya (illusion, created by Brahman), ……………, Brahman is really one and undivided……………………………."
Totapuri, then, asked SR to withdraw his mind inwards, and concentrate on the Absolute/Atman ; (Atman is the Self or Soul. According to Advaita Vedanta philosophy the Supreme Soul is one with the individual soul )
But the task was not easy even for SR. He found it impossible to take his mind beyond Kali, the Divine Mother. In his own words: " But in spite of all my attempts, I could not altogether cross the realm of name and form………I had no trouble in taking my mind from all the objects of the world. But the radiant and all too familiar figure of Blissful Mother would appear. She stood in my way. I said to Nangta (the naked one. Totapuri would often not wear his loincloth)’ it is hopeless’………".
How was this difficulty overcome?
"Totapuri cast his eyes around. Finding a piece of glass he took it up and stuck it between my eyebrows. 'Concentrate the mind on the point!' he thundered!
"I again sat to meditate. ……….this time I clove Her in two with the sword of discrimination. The last barrier fell. My spirit at once soared beyond the relative plane. I lost myself in Samadhi"
SR remained completely absorbed in Nirbikalpa Samadhi ( see footnote on 19 )for three days! Totapuri would come and go, and every time would find SR , motionless, like a statue.
"Is it true," Totapuri cried in astonishment." That he achieved in one day, what it took me forty years to attain?"
Totapuri , who never stayed in a place for more than three days, stayed in Dakshineswar for eleven month. During his stay, even he discovered a profound, new truth, about the mysteries of Absolute and its relationship with Kali. For fear of digression, this mote, will not discuss the lesson which Totapuri was taught by God.
To be continued.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
21.Sri Ramakrishna (SR), continued (third installment ) ......( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
He had no teacher (Guru) during the first four years of his Sadhana(spirtual practices ), his mind became his teacher. He had repeated visions of a young man,looking like him, coming out of his body, and instructing him.
Then two teachers appeared on the scene. First in 1861, a woman renunciant, called Brahmani. She stayed with him for six years, and taught him all the disciplines prescribed in the sixty-four main Tantras ( a system of Hindu religious philosophy, which allows worshipping of Goddess Kali, one of several forms of Divine Mother ). All these practices are difficult to accomplish. "In trying to practice which, most of the aspirants go astray. But I got through them by the Mother’s grace.” He got eight miraculous powers, as a result of those practices,but he never used them ( because such powers are often a hindrance to God-Realization)
In 1864, a tall, fearless, wandering monk, who never stayed in a place for more than three days ( to avoid attachment with a place ), arrived at the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, where SR was a priest. He practiced a different system of Hindu philosophy, called Advaita Vedanta. This system is different than Tantra, which SR had been perfecting under the guidance of Brahmini. In this system only God is real, everything else is illusion. Thus, world was an illusion, and so were the gods and goddesses ( such as Mother Kali, whom SR worshipped). Prayers, rites, rituals, ceremonies were meaningless to him. He had realized Absolute (God or Brahman) after forty years of all-renouncing austerities. He spent most of his leisure time in meditation.
Totapuri had a glance at young SR, and was struck by something in his face. He studied SR carefully. He realized, that there was a fit aspirant, who could be taught Vedanta. Then he asked SR, whether he would like to learn the mysteries of Vedanta. SR, said that he has to consult his mother. After consulting with Mother ( instead of his real mother, he went into the temple and talked to the image of Kali, the Divine Mother), he agreed. As a precondition to learn Vedanta, SR had to become a Sanyasi (give up the world).
To be continued
Saturday, October 25, 2008
20. Sri Ramakrishna (SR), continued ( second installment)......( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
An intense longing for God drove him. He was not mad but helpless. Anguish in his heart ( because he was separated from God , whom he worshipped as Mother) transcended his power of endurance. Flood of tears would flow from his eyes at the time of worship; his wonderful joy on hearing songs praising the glory of Divine.
To see the Mother became an obsession with him.
He himself described his first vision of Mother;"I felt as if my heart were being squeezed like a wet towel…..I could not bear the separation from Her any longer. Life seemed to be not worth living. Suddenly my glance fell on the sword that was kept in the Mother’s temple, and I determined to put an end to my life. I jumped up like a mad man and seized it, when suddenly the blessed Mother revealed Herself. The building with the different parts, the temple, and everything else vanished from my sight…..….I saw a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of Consciousness. As far as the eye could see, the shining billows were rushing at me from all sides with a terrific noise…”
He collapsed unconscious. Within him was a flow of undiluted bliss, altogether new, and he felt the presence of Divine Mother.
Soon he started seeing Holy Mother, both in meditation and, with eyes open.
His spiritual moods deepened. He would meditate, pray, weep, be sleepless, and have ecstatic moods. He would have burning sensation in the body. He would be indifferent to the outside world and his body. To root out the idea of caste superiority (he being a brahmin, the highest caste) he cleaned, at night, the dirty places, of an untouchable’s house with his long and neglected hair. When he would sit in meditation, birds would perch on his head and shoulder, to peck in his hair for grains of food. Snakes would crawl over his motionless body.
To be continued
Monday, October 20, 2008
19.Sri Ramakrishna (SR) (first installment ) ......( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
His father made a pilgrimage to Gaya to visit the temple of Lord Vishnu. At Gaya he had a dream in which Lord Vishnu came in his dream and told him that He would be born as his son. At about the same time SR’s mother, who had not gone on pilgrimage with her husband, had a vision in front of the Siva temple, that she will have a divine child.
When he was six or seven years of age, one day, while he was walking on the balk of a corn field, and eating rice from a basket, he happened to look at a beautiful black rain cloud. A flock of milk-white cranes flew by, with the black rain cloud in the background. The young boy was mesmerized by the beauty of the scene. In his own words,” it looked so beautiful that I became absorbed in an extraordinary mood. ……my external consciousness was lost. I fell down and the rice that I was eating scattered near the balk. ……..That was the first time I lost consciousness in ecstasy.”
The Sadhana (spiritual practices carried out by a seeker in order to realizes God) of SR are a legend. The period lasted for about 12 years (1856 to1867). He almost died. During that time he was considered mad by ordinary people. He could not keep his loin-cloth many a times and would be wandering stark naked. He would take concrete steps to conquer, what he perceived as defects, in his character. For instance to remove his attachment to money, he will take a rupee ( the coin used in India ) and a clod of earth, and throw them both in the river Ganges, as if both were equal, and equally useless to him. To conquer lust, he will consider and address every woman as mother. He would eat from the leftovers of food-remnants from leaves (leaves were used as plate by the poor). To conquer pride and egoism, he cleaned like a sweeper the abominably dirty places with his own hands. He remained unfed or poorly fed for 12 long years.
To be continued.
1. Sri Ramakrishna, the great master by Swami Saradananda
2. Samadhi. Super conscious state. Trance. A state of God-union. Person becomes oblivious of the surrounding and his body appears rigid and lifeless. There are various forms of Samadhi. The initial stage is called Sabikalpa Samadhi. The highest form is called nirbikalpa Samadhi , which is the closest a mortal can be with God
3. .One of the trinity of Godhead; Brahma, Vishnu, Siva (or Shiva), whose universal work is, respectively, creation, preservation, and destruction.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Whenever he needed help, he would ask God for help. In his own words:”…he receives constant help in every situation. "…for God never fails to come to our aid", as he often experienced. He had recently been asked to go to Burgandy to get the wine supply, a painful task for him. Not only did he lack skill in these matters, but his leg was crippled and he could only get about on the boat by dragging himself over the barrels. Yet he did not worry …….He told God "it was His problem.”
God liked his conservation with Him. So much so that if he missed talking to God, He will remind him! Here is what he says; "If occasionally he becomes too forgetful of this divine presence, God makes Himself known immediately in his soul to call him back to Himself…”. "…inner movements so charming and delightful that I am embarrassed to talk about them, call me immediately back to Him.”
Brother Lawrence reminds us that such close companionship with God requires extreme detachment. He states:”….Your heart must be empty of everything because God desires to possess it exclusively.” He has to "empty it of everything other than Himself”
If suffering is too much for you to bear. Be steadfast. Help will eventually come. "…If you do not give up, and that He will give you, all at once, what He held off giving for years.”
Wandering of thoughts is a problem that everybody faces. The saint also warns us;"….thoughts spoil everything; we must be careful to reject them as soon as we notice them…” In a letter to a nun he offers a solution; ” An easy way to keep the mind from wandering during the time of mental prayer is to keep it as still as possible----not to let it take flight-----during the day…”
If you are a true seeker of God and love Him, you need not worry, God Himself will help you .In his words,”…..God gives the necessary light to those who have the true desire to be with Him….”
"Neither finesse nor learning is required to approach God, only a heart resolved to devote itself exclusively to Him, and to love Him alone”
"…that he thought neither of death, nor of his sins, nor of paradise, nor of hell, but only of doing little things for the love of God, since he was not capable of doing great things.”
Friday, October 10, 2008
17. Brother Lawrence continued ( third instalment ) . ......( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
"……..We must let go…………multitude of private devotions, very good in themselves…..” ……..”For these devotions are nothing more than the means to arrive the end. If, then, we are with the One who is our End by this practice of the presence of God, it is certainly useless to return to the means”
How successful was he?
Brother Lawrence was probably at the highest level of spiritual perfection. At that stage the person is connected to God all the time. Such persons are very rare. He himself stated, "I know that few people reach this advanced state. It is a grace God bestows only on few chosen souls… "Most people end up at the less advanced stage",.... ‘which greatly resembles the advanced stage…’
In a letter he states "….I eat and drink at the Lord’s Table.” In another letter he writes: "….this King, full of goodness and mercy, lovingly embraces me, seats me at His table, waits on me Himself, gives me the keys to His treasures, and treats me in all things His favorite; He converses with me and takes delight in me in countless ways….This is what I see from time to time while in His holy presence.”
He greatly extolled the virtues of faith, hope and love, all his life, especially faith. He describes faith as " Believing that God is truly in our hearts, that He sees everything that happens and will happen in us and in all other creatures; that He is independent of everything….”….”All our thought, words and actions belong by right to him "( since everything belongs to Him ). " one must entrust oneself in God’s hands. (A "total, universal surrender”)... One must have trust in God as a son/daughter has in his/her parents.
He had sciatic gout, which caused him pain and limping. He suffered from pain, which increased over years, for about twenty-five years. At his deathbed the friars(monks) asked him " if God asked you to suffer these pains for the duration of ten years would you still be content?” "I would be,” he said, ” not only for that number of years but I would willingly consent to endure them until the Day of Judgment….”
On Friday, he told a friar, that he will die on following Monday. And that is when he died.
More of Brother Lawrence in next installment
Sunday, October 5, 2008
16. Brother Lawrence continued. (Second instalment).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
"The fear that I had not given myself to God as I desired, my sins always present before my eyes, and the great graces God gave me were the sum and substance of all my miseries.”
His biographer, who had frequent contacts with him over a period of thirty-five years states: "….in this deplorable state he often went to a private place…..his heart distraught, and completely bathed in his tears, he poured out his feelings before his God…..”
What ended this turmoil? In his own words:
"Once I accepted the fact I might spend the rest of my life in this troubled state of mind…I found myself changed all at once. And my soul, until that time always in turmoil, now experienced a profound inner peace…”
What is the purpose of the dark night of soul? Why does God, often, put the seekers through these terrible ordeals? Brother Lawrence gives two answers to it. His first answer, in his own words, is,”…that it is normal for His divine providence to abandon us to all sort of trials, miseries and temptations.”The second purpose of these tribulations is to purify the soul
For rest of his life (approximately forty years), he would be ‘enjoying continual inner consolations. sometimes so intense, that he would be forced to do childish things to conceal them’ . '….nothing worried or frightened him ‘. He told his friends that God let nothing go without immediately rewarding him a hundredfold, often giving him such exquisite experiences and tastes of His divinity that they sometimes overwhelmed him , making him say … "It is too much, Lord, it is too much for me!…”
Is this method (of constant conversation) easy? In my humble opinion, no. The greatest problem is the control of one’s thoughts, which is very very difficult. I have tried it. Thoughts keep on wandering. Sometimes hours will pass before you remember to think of God. Brother Lawrence himself admits, "The beginning is very difficult”.
And what do you talk to God about, a layman may ask? Won’t you soon run out of things to say? In reality, this difficulty is only theoretical. Actually, you hardly talk, but you bring your attention back to God, and adore Him, constantly, humbly, and joyfully. You may doubt my statement, but it is true. The reason that you are able to do so, quite easily, is that you are in love with God. Love for God is the gasoline that drives this automobile. Without love for God in your heart, you cannot travel the path of God-realization. Not by this method (there are other paths in which love for God may not be essential).
To be continued in next installment.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
15. Brother Lawrence.( First instalment ).....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
Brother Lawrence invented his own path. It was not mentioned in any of the books of that time. His method was to talk to God all the time. He did not limit his conversations with God, only, during the time of meditation, but held them during his ordinary activities of daily life; cooking and repairing sandals. He was a Lay Brother (the lowest in rank) in a Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris. Whenever, he got a moment of respite, he turned his attention, inwards, towards God. With over forty years of practice, he had developed such an expertise, that he was able to connect himself, with God, in an instant
He recommended his method, of constant conversation, to anybody who wanted to attain nearness to God. In his own words:
“In my opinion, the practice of the presence of God is the essence of spiritual life, and it seems to me that when practiced properly, you become spiritual in no time. “
Let us discuss his method a little bit. He declares in the above mentioned statement that ‘you become spiritual in no time ‘. You may become spiritual in no time but most often, you do not get peace and happiness for a long time. Almost all mystics enter a period of great sorrow and anguish, which may last for years. St John of Cross has called it the dark night of soul. Brother Lawrence was no exception. He suffered ten years of fear and suffering, last four of which were especially harsh.
What made the experience even harsher was the fact that God did not give him the smallest consolation during that period. “…. Everything was taken from him……….his life became unbearable…”
In his own words:
“It seemed to me that creatures, reason, and even God himself were against me, and that faith alone was on my side.”
What caused and what ended this dark night?
During this search for God, What were the tools at his disposal? What is this faith he talks about?
These and other questions in next installments
Saturday, September 20, 2008
14. St. Therese of Lisieux Continued......( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
There was a statue of Blessed Virgin on her bedside. One day she kept calling her sister, Marie."Marie, Marie" , despite the fact that she could clearly see her. Her three sisters, who were nursing her, were greatly distressed by her calling and failure to recognize.They knelt by her bed and prayed to the statue of the Blessed Virgin for her recovery. She, herself, also turned towards the statue and “ … and beseeched her to have pity on me.”
“ ….Suddenly the Blessed Virgin glowed with a beauty beyond anything I had ever seen. Her face was alive with a kindness and an infinite tenderness, but it was her enchanting smile which really moved me…..”
Years later, she had the chance to visit the church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris. She wrote;” I cannot describe what I experienced in that sanctuary of hers. I was filled with joy and peace. And there the Blessed Virgin , my Mother, told me clearly that it really was she who had smiled on me and healed me.”
When she was fourteen she had a vision. In her own words,” One Sunday when I was looking at the picture of Our Lord on the Cross, I saw the Blood coming from one of his hands….”
Perhaps a year before her death, in 1896, she had a dream, in which she saw three Carmalite nuns, wearing mantles and long veils. She knew they were from heaven. She thought to herself that how happy she would be if she could see the face of one of them. As if in answer to her wish, one of them lifted her veil. She instantly recognized her, as The Venerable Mother Anne of Jesus, the foundress of Carmel in France. Her face had a beauty not of this earth. ……..
She caressed her. Moved by her love, she ventured to say, “I implore you, Mother, to tell me if God is going to leave me on earth for long……….”
She gave me a tender smile: "Yes, soon…..soon. I promise you.”
And then she said these words, which are amongst the tenderest and humblest words that I have come across in all of spiritual literature:
“Tell me also, Mother, if God is pleased with me. Does He want anything from me beyond my poor little deeds and longings?”
As she spoke her face shown with a new splendour…..
She said “God asks nothing more from you. He is pleased, very pleased.”…..
It is not often that you are informed, while you are living, that God is pleased with you. Perhaps ,once in a year? , a century?….
I have chosen her to demonstrate that some mystics are preselected by God or His representatives. We know that she was preselected, because she had a “ spiritual event “ in childhood, at the age of fourteen, and thus satisfies the first criterion.
She fulfils the second criterion of ‘holiness’ (which is a mandatory requirement) for a preselected mystic or saint, although it need not be lifelong ( as lives of St Paul and St Augustine testify, who sinned against God ). We are sure of her holiness because she was made a saint not too long after her death . She died at the young age of twenty-four, in a convent, where her life must have been an open book. And we come across this astonishing statement from her confessor, made just two months after her entrance in the convent;
“Before God, the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and all the saints, I declare that you have never committed a single mortal sin……”
We have the added advantage of fulfillment of the third criterion, the truthfulness of the events of her life, because she has left an autobiography (see footnote). She did not write the autobiography at her own behest, to parade her virtues, but was ordered to do so by her superiors. The book is a pure delight to read. It has sold millions of copies and has been translated in dozens of languages .
Love for God overflows from every page. “The only good thing is to love God with all one’s heart, and to stay poor in spirit.”
She also tells us that God loves us, and this is a recurring theme of the book. She is awe-struck at how good and kind the God is. She made a profound statement to her sister a month before her death:” What I have written will do a lot of good. It will make the kindness of God better known”.
Her great desire, in all her life, was to glorify her Beloved, the God. If it meant torment and suffering, that was even better. Few months before her death she wrote:
“… Like you, my adorable Jesus, I want to be scourged and crucified. I want to be flayed like St Bartholomew. Like St John, I want to be flung into boiling oil. Like St Ignatius of Antioch, I long to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, ground into bread worthy of God. With St Agnes and St Cecillia, I want to offer my neck to the sword of executioner and, like Joan of Arc, murmur the name of Jesus at the stake……” “My Jesus, fling open that book of life in which are set down the deed of every saint. I want to perform them all for You.
You have to read the book yourself
I will narrate her spiritual events in the next installment
1. The autobiography of St. Therese of lisieux. The sorry of a soul. Translated by John Beevers
Monday, September 15, 2008
12.Preselected persons Sri Yogananda .....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
Being a monk he never married and lived with his disciples, who had a chance to observe him closely for decades (he had taken the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, as a monk of Swami Order). Let us see what one of his closest associates, Sri Daya Mata, says about him in her book,” Finding the joy wihin.”She refers to him as Guru or Guruji or Gurudeva (divine teacher ). Here are some excerpts
1. “ he had the power to heal. I have seen his healing of many, many diseases “He healed me of a severe disease by mere touch.”
2. “he had the power to read the mind of others”. “But he never intruded on anyone’s mental privacy unless invited.”
3. “ I was blessed that at a very early age---seventeen---I met Gurudeva. He transformed my life. To him I shall be eternally grateful….”
4. Gurudev was to say in later years,” if I was to display powers given to me by God, I could draw thousands…………I gave the powers back to God, and I never use them unless He tells me to”
5. On his day of death, he was to speak at a banquet, for a dignitary, in downtown Los Angles. Few hours before his sudden death, as he was gazing at the picture of his beloved guru, he said to her ,” Do you realize that within a few hours I will be gone from this earth……..when I am gone.....be so drunk with the love of God that you will know nothing but God………”
6. “For twenty-one days after Guruji left his body, that form remained in a state of perfect preservation.” There is a notarized letter by the funeral director stating that strange, unparalleled phenomenon.
7. One day ( after his death ), as she was praying in front of his picture, for some guidance regarding an important matter, his living form emerged from that photo image.” Guruji blessed me and…..,,,,,,,”
I have related these incidents because they have been told by another person. There are dozens of supernatural incidents which he himself narrates in his book. I have not mentioned them here, because at some future date I plan to discuss the book in more detail. So we have two very truthful persons ( and there is at least one other, Walters or Swami Kriyananda, in his book,” The path.”) giving first-hand account in two separate books.
Sri Daya Mata is now ninety-four years old. She is the president and spiritual head of Self-Realization Fellowship. She was a young American girl of seventeen when she first heard SY speak at Salt Lake City. She narrates that day in her book,” I could only think, ‘This man loves God, as I have always longed to love Him. He knows Him. Him I shall follow.’” And she followed him.
You can find more at http://www.yogananda-srf.org/srf_news/sanghamata.html
Does it make the miraculous events , narrated in these two books, certain, for the reader. No , off course not. To be certain one will have to do one‘s own search which may take a lifetime.
Note: Sri Daya Mata has since expired
Saturday, September 13, 2008
11.Preselected persons Sri Yogananda .....( afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest)
His book has been read by millions of readers and has been translated in many languages. The book has introduced millions of persons to spirituality. Through his book his influence will continue for years or centuries to come. The book is full of spectacular events. The reader often has the reaction, which I once heard , from a good friend,” Why should I believe these things?. Just because somebody wrote it in a book does not mean that I have to believe them.”
What my friend said is the crux of the problem. He had no personal acquaintance with the author, therefore, he could not know whether the author was a truthful person. To be certain, that a supernatural incident actually took place, one needs other witnesses which saw that event, or an account by dozens of persons, who were closely associated with the author, , regarding the truthfulness of the author.
You may have heard the expression.”Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”
When one reads about a supernatural incident, such as materialization of silver amulet, out of thin air, in SY’s mother ( Sep, 10), there are three possible explanations
1. Author is lying
2. Author is telling the truth. The event, though it appears impossible, occurred just as it has been narrated in the book
3. Author is mistaken. As for as he is concerned, he may be telling the truth, but he may have had an auditory or visual hallucination or may be suffering from some mental disorder.
If the author was not the witness of the event, dozens of other possibilities exist, such as his mother was lying or mistaken, etc. We will not discuss this scenario any further.
I will continue it in next installment
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I could have selected half a dozen incidents from his early childhood. Let me start with the earliest, to document the fact that he was selected by God or his representatives in childhood (or right from birth or pre-birth ). I will give an abbreviated version. The interested reader can read the fuller account, in author’s own words, from the book itself.
As a baby, her mother carried him in her arms, to her guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, who was sitting with closed eyes in meditation, amongst a group of visitors. He opened his eyes and took the infant in his lap .He told her,” little mother, thy son will be a yogi (mystic)……” and that he will bring many souls to God’s kingdom.
Some years later, one day a strange sadhu (ascetic) came to their door and asked for Mukunda ‘s(childhood name of Yogananda) mother. He told her that she is going to die soon. On her deathbed she was instructed to hand over a certain silver amulet to her eldest son, who had to keep the amulet for one year and then hand it over to Mukunda, who would know what to do with it. To ensure that she would believe what he was telling her, he predicted a supernatural occurrence. He said that next day the talisman will materialize in her hands as she would meditate. That is exactly what happened.
After about another two years her mother suddenly died. She had already died before Mukunda and his father could reach by train the town where she was lying lifeless. To be not present when she was dying made the tragedy even worse. He missed her terribly, and longed for her soothing black eyes. Years passed before his heart could be healed. His cries at last summoned the Divine Mother. “It is I who have watched over you, birth after birth……see the black eyes, that you seek, in my gaze”
After reading these strange incidents, the reader will be curious about Swami Yogananda. Did he manifest the qualities of a great soul?
I will discuss it in the next installment
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The author writes about this incident in a book called “Shahabnama “. Unfortunately this book is written in urdu language and is not available in English. I will have to give details to the readers to establish trustworthiness of the author (since, most likely, they cannot read the book themselves, and did not know the author personally). The author, a high-level bureaucrat, was a man of great integrity. He was incorruptible in a corrupt society. He stood up to the British rulers to save a village to be burnt as punishment, and as a consequence was physically assaulted by a high ranking British police officer. He criticized the supreme leader of the country and was persecuted by his minions. An attempt was made to kidnap his son from England. These worries made his wife so sick that she soon died. In the famous famine of Bengal of 1943 in which approximately four million persons died from hunger and flood, and mothers threw their infants (and sometimes themselves too ) from a bridge in Calcutta on Hugli river, he ordered and supervised the distribution of about three hundred tons of stored rice, in violation of the orders of British government (because the rice was stored for the exigencies of war, and second world war was in progress)
The second point to be noted is that nobody knew the full extent of the spiritual side of the author. He did not tell much to anybody. The details came to light only after his death, when the book was published. Even his closest friends (and being a public and literary man he had a large circle of friends and acquaintances) were astonished. My point is that he did not have to gain anything from the praise or censure of anybody because he was already dead. When his autobiography was published, there was a lot of discussion about his life. He was criticized for serving many autocrats, but everybody agreed that he was a truthful man. Being a literary and public man, in a sense, his life had been an open book. Even his harshest critics could not narrate a single lie in all his life. Therefore, we have to accept the astonishing, supernatural, events that he has narrated in his book. Over here we are concerned only with one simple dream from his childhood to establish the claim that he was preselected from childhood.
He was perhaps twelve or thirteen years old when he had a dream. He found himself in a vast desert. He had great trouble walking. His legs would sink up to his knees in sand. He became very short of breath. After a while he could not even walk and started crawling. He developed chest pain. Eventually, he saw prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sitting on a prayer mat under a palm tree. The holy prophet smiled at him. Just at that moment he woke up.
He started crying on his good fortune. For a Muslim, visitation of holy prophet in a dream is considered the height of good fortune. Hearing the sound of crying his mother woke up. She asked him if he had a bad dream. Then she sniffed in the air and angrily said , “I have told you not to use fragrant oil in your hair. Now with fragrant oil, off course, you will get nightmares.” He hastily told his mother that he did not use any fragrant oil and narrated the whole dream to her. She also started crying.
The two persons that I have mentioned in my accounts of Aug, 14 and Aug, 18, had visitation in their dreams by holy persons/deities who left enchanting scent in the atmosphere.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
There are two broad groups of travelers walking with the aim of realizing God:
- Those that are preselected by God
- Those who come on their own. Although, strictly speaking, nobody travels on this path without God's will.
It is easy to differentiate between the two groups. Those who are in the first group are pious in youth (actually they are pious even in their childhood). (Sexual urges are at their peak in youth and young adulthood). Whereas the second group often turn to God in later life, when it is easier to control the passions
The second group is quite heterogeneous. Some of them ventured on this path because they wanted to expand their consciousness. They may only have a vague belief in God or did not believe in God at all (Nancy Mayorga is an example. See the sidebar,"The Hunger...")
some wanted to attain supernatural powers. Some were just too poor and had no means to support themselves. It was easy for them to renunciate the world,wear the holy garb, and get free food and board by charitable people of India.
Some wanted to understand the world. What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? Who created this universe? These and other eternal, unsolvable questions. Human knowledge cannot supply the answers. May be, direct, divine knowledge, through meditation, will (this mote started like that).
A good percentage probably come from religion, i.e. they become more and more religious as they grow old. Eventually, religiosity changes to love for God. There may be other groups
What are the key differences between the various groups? Do all of them travel on the same path or are there different paths? What keeps them on the path, despite all the hardships that were mentioned previously? (Aug,30). I will expound upon them some other day
Monday, September 1, 2008
He sang impersonating one of the milkmaids.Her love of Krishna,the human form of God.
You are the mirror for the hand
And You are the flower for the hair
O Friend, I shall make a flower of You
And wear You in my hair;
Under my braids I shall hide You, Friend!
No one will see You there
You are the betel-leaf for the lips
The dark collyrium for the eyes
O Friend,with You I shall stain my lips
With You I shall paint my eyes.
March,1886 (see the sidebar "The gospel...")
Narendra was a young college student at that time. He later became Swami Vivekananda and founded the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda center of Newyork
( see sidebar for reference. "the gospel of ......")
Saturday, August 30, 2008
You might think, to sit daily, for hours,in a rigid posture, is the greatest problem. You might think that focusing the mind on a thought or a point , and not let the mind wander, is even more difficult. What about finding the time for meditation or prayer every day? For some, staying awake during meditation is very difficult. I can attest to this impediment.Even after eight and a half years, I often fall asleep. To continue meditation/prayer while sleepy is fruitless.
You would think that giving up the attachments to the world, like family (wife,children, parents),friends,wealth, lust, fame,power,must be the most difficult desires to forsake.(You might be under the mistaken impression, that one has to give up all these desires to find God. Actually it is not true that you have to give up all these things, but you do have to detach yourself from ALL these things. Nothing is to be left except God ).
Are these insurmountable tasks? Yes,close to it. That is why so few take this path, and even fewer succeed .You may have heard the words from the Bible "Many are called but few chosen"(Matthew;22.14)
And,yet,there are,still,at least three more serious problems:
One of them is to find a competent teacher ( variously called "guru","murshad,"pir",etc).It is impossible to state the difficulty of finding a competent teacher(who would accept you as a disciple),in almost all countries except, perhaps,India. Without a teacher,it is impossible for an ordinary person to succeed. Some truly amazing persons like Maharishee Ramana (see the sidebar,"A search in secret india") realized God by themselves,but one has to wonder if they were pre-selected from the beginning by God.In Islamic spirituality ( also called Sufism)to find a teacher is even more difficult, because most often such mystics hide there spirituality from public. Nobody knows about it,except some close associates,or other Sufis.
Another hurdle on going on this path is the lusterless nature of the path, and lack of material benefit at the end ( I have used the word "end " for lack of a proper term. In fact there may be no end or destination,as the terms generally implies.To travel on this path is in itself the destination ). Rather, pain and suffering,may be the hallmark of existence for initial several years or decades of life (mixed with ineffable joy).Why would, then, any sane person want to travel this path? Specially,as sometimes, one cannot tell anybody one's achievement. One may have remained a recluse, and might have neglected one"s duties to society (wife, children,etc ).If one does not contribute to the society,should'nt his/her life be considered just a waste?
To me,the greatest source of despair and depression has been the lack of notable spiritual progress. You would think your Master will someday look down and acknowledge your efforts. But no such luck. All yours tears, all your begging, all yours prayers,remain unanswered, As if there was nobody on the other side.As if you were talking to a blank wall or arguing to a vending-machine.
This worthless mote is not unique.The great saint,Brother Lawrence,was not granted a bit of consolation in the first ten years( I may be forgiven for mentioning this nothingness in the same breath as Brother Lawrence ). He himself noted," It seemed to me that creatures,reason, and even God Himself were against me ......."(see the sidebar,"The practice...")
If all that I have mentioned is true,you may ask, then, what propels people towards this path.I will try to answer it sometimes.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Several years passed. He longed to go to go to India and visit Puri. When,after about ten years, he was finally able to go to Lord Jagannath's temple, he was accompanied by a friend, who was a native of Puri. That person assured him that he had been to the temple hundreds of time, and there was no such pond over there. The two looked around and indeed there was no eight-sided pond. They even asked a "pujari" who also said the same thing. My friend was greatly saddened. He had hoped that the pond of his dream would actually exist, giving external (outside of the dream)validation to the truth of the dream
And what an enormous implication if the dream was true. God Himself, or one of His reprsentative, visited him in his dream, and dunked his head in some holy water;a ceremonial act of purification! What an honor!He would have been a very lucky man
As they walked,he suddenly saw some steps going up. An impulse led him to climb the steps.As they reached the top, they saw a small eight-sided pool,the pool of his dream. However, there was only a small circle of water in the center of the pool
He confronted the old pujari. "Pujariji, you said, there is no such pond. What about that pool on the top?"
"Oh that pond!That is Lord Jagannath's pond. He sometimes visits it with his baghats(holy persons)to bathe. It is not for general public"
"But there is no water in it"
"He does not need any water. We have left small amount of water as a token"
Saturday, August 16, 2008
A spiritual friend , when he was a young premedical student in India, more than half a century ago, saw the examination paper of anatomy , in a dream. The written test was going to take place next morning. The next to last question asked to describe the path of an important artery(basilar) in the brain. This is a difficult and uncommon question. Next question entailed the section of brain stem at a certain level. Next morning he quickly memorised the answers to these questions. While walking towards the college, to take the test, he told couple of friends, his dream, and these 2 questions.One friend did not know the details of the path of the artery, so he opted to go back, and quickly read about it in the textbook. The anatomy test paper had the same two questions in the same order
A few days before the results of premedical exam was going to be announced, he dreamt that he had missed the first division by 6 or 7 marks (I do not remember, at this moment, whether it was 6 or 7 , and being a spiritual person one has to be completely truthful). Next morning he told these news to his mother. His mother consoled him by telling him, not to worry, because it was just a dream, and he will get first division ( often, only first divisioners get admitted in medical college ). Suffice is to say , that my friend missed first division , by exactly the same number of marks
Did these two dreams predict the future. Not necessarily. At the time of the dream , the anatomy paper was already in existence, locked in safe boxes , in many examination centers .Similarly, at the time of second dream, the result of the test was already in existence, in university, and in printing press. As Paul Brunton theorises in his book," a search in secret Egypt "(see the sidebar) something, or entity, comes out of one's body,during sleep, travels, and reports back to the sleeper, what he/she observes.
Were future events be predicted, before they exist, before the zillion events which lead to an event, it would be an irrefutable evidence that future is preordained. It already exists somewhere. If future has already been made, then there must be a Maker or Creator. Because, the actors ( be it animate or inanimate ), that took part to make that event possible, have yet not played their role. Whether, everything is predetermined, is not such an open/shut case, and at this point I do not want to get into this discussion, because then I will digress from my narrative. I just want to point out the profound implications of such assumption.
I am not finished, yet, about my friend and his dreams. He has had dozens of spiritual dreams,in which he had vision of saints and prophets and deities. Were these dreams true visitation of these entities , or did his brain manufacture their images and scenes. There is no convincing answer to this question, because we do not know how these persons looked like , in real life, and if we know how they looked like ( for instance, Sri Ramakrishna )our brain might have put their image in front of our eyes , from the memory bank . However, he had one dream , in which his brain could not have constructed the image , because it did not possess the image . I will describe that dream in my next posting,
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The dream occurred few days ago, during a period of intense sorrow, yearning for God, and severe back pain. He usually spends several hours of each night in prayers. That night he was so sad that his tears would not stop. At last he fell asleep. He had a vivid dream. A highly spiritually advanced lady who had died few months ago, came in his dream. This was the first time she had visited him after her death. She was wearing beautiful green dress. He must be weeping in his sleep, because Amma( as she was called when she was alive, and literally means mother) wiped his tears with her hands. "Don't cry and be so desolate. Off course , these are the ways of this path " or words to that effect. Then she led him to a tomb of an 11Th century saint. she led him to the door of an underground room, and then left
With that the person suddenly woke up. The details of the dream were quite fresh.He had no doubt about the veracity of the dream. He had been getting true dreams in the past, and could tell a true from a false dream. He knew of the room also. That room is kept locked. Over the centuries , several great aspirants had done their spiritual exercises there
He did a three nights "chilla" in front of that door ( could not get permission to do the chilla in the room ) . Chilla is an islamic religious exercise, which entails fasting, intense prayers, and isolation. On the third night, Amma again came in his dream, and told him. " That is enough. you can go home now . it will be O.K" or words to that effect
He became quite sick due to this experience and is still sick
His mental state is very good. He thinks he has been successful. He believes in Amma's assurance.He also thinks that the soul of Amma was sent by Allah to comfort him and show him the path. The path was not an easy one. That person told me before he left for chilla that he was not sure if he would be able to make it through. The place is very hot and it is summer. There are mosquitoes and flies. There is no electricity. He was suffering from several diseases ( such as insulin-dependent diabetes, high blood pressure,heart disease, back pain )and could not eat or drink (during daytime ) due to the mandatory requirement of keepng a daytime fast during chilla
Friday, August 8, 2008
I shall wear You, my lovely Necklace,
Here about my neck,
And You will lie upon my bosom,
Close to my throbbing heart.
You are the Treasure in my body;
You are Dweller in my house,
You are to me, O Lord,
what wings are to a bird,
What water is to a fish
3/15/1886. (see the sidebar."The Gospel...." for reference) submitted by afnta
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
submitted by " asks for nearness to Allah" ( afnta )
Oct,3 , 2008. The aim of this blog is twofold: to vent my feelings, and to glorify Allah.