29 NOV 75 - And so, here I am in this fantastic place, India!
The journey had already seemed arduous, from its very long hours aloft without proper rest or exercise, the setting one of scores of Indian families, down to numerous crying infants (by the last hours the entire plane reeking of diaper urine), before a landing of our British Airways jumbo-jet a little after 2:00 AM, local time, in Pakistan, with which country India was in a tense state of "peace" as close to war as that existing as well between the USA and USSR. Our craft was immediately surrounded by rifle-wielding soldiers and we were all ordered off the plane and into waiting Pakistan Army buses.
As in a dream that could at any moment turn to nightmare, we struggled, groggy with the half-sleep of the perpetual traveler, out into the cold and then to the motor transport, which conveyed us, with military efficiency but complete lack of amenities or communication (other than by the troops' gestures with their weapons) at length to the airport terminal, a bare, unheated concrete edifice as devoid of personality as a fallout shelter. We were not told how long we'd have to stay there. It was gradually whispered among us from some unknown, original source that, apparently, our craft was being searched and we must remain on hand indefinitely till this task had been completed, but then we would be allowed back on, to hopefully continue our trip.
A couple friends and I decided to risk going to the bathroom. The soldiers did not object. Our business, of various numbers, completed, we looked for toilet paper or a place to wash our hands. None were available. However, for a tip, an old turbaned Pakistani gentleman was present with a bowl of dirty liquid and a rag that looked and smelled as though it had been employed for cleaning nether regions any number of times. We managed without this crucial niche in the country's economy.
We were also thirsty. Nobody wanted to try the water. We opted instead for cokes, available in bottled form for about a quarter each, plus a tip to another gentleman, who opened them for us. He was delighted to accept our western currency.
In about two to three hours we were all taken back to the plane without mishap, and were soon winging our way further south and east over the Indian subcontinent.
After that forbidding time in Karachi during the night, the New Delhi airport (my first destination), in broad daylight, held no terrors. There were inconveniences, to be sure, such as a very long delay in getting all my luggage, failure to make contact with the local Lifestream Way representative, who was to have met me as I came through customs, and being hounded by a score of Indian men seeking to offer me help with carrying my luggage or getting a taxi (for extra money from this green foreigner), while I still had not the slightest idea where I was going from here, no phone in sight, no handy booth for airport information, etc.
But then, suddenly, the tide turned. I located a telephone, eventually also got change into local coins to use in it, received assistance from a nice stranger with lugging my four large suitcases back over to Ma Bell's communication device, and was able to call the representative's residence, reaching his wife, a Lifestream Way initiate herself. She spoke English and patiently spelled out for me the address to give the taxi driver, told me how then to get to the large association tent, and said I must hurry, that Maharaji was unexpectedly there today and would be starting the association meeting in just a little while, a “very short time!” she emphasized. She added again, unnecessarily, that I must hurry!
I thanked her enthusiastically, rang off, somehow grabbed up my four monstrous pieces of baggage in one quick movement, and ran out the airlines terminal building, barely slowing down for two sets of intervening doors. Outside, I really picked up speed and tore across to a waiting line of Indian taxis, where a small man in a battered little car hailed me eagerly. “Do you know where I’m going? Do you know where Karol Bagh is!?” I yelled idiotically. “Yes!” he allowed and swept out of the little car, grabbed away my luggage like it had no weight at all, hurled it into a tiny trunk, thrust me into the back seat, slammed the door, got in himself, and raced off down the road at breakneck and smash fender speed before I’d caught my first good breath.
That trip was the most incredible one I have ever had! It was a safety specialist’s nightmare. I later discovered this to be just everyday driving in India; but my first impression was that this little journey had to be occurring in astral planes because in this realm so many bizarre combinations, near misses, and outright miracles of fortuitous high speed maneuvering would simply not be possible. And that driver could not have gone any faster, through streams of pedestrians, bicyclists, motor scooters, three-wheel taxi-carts, donkey carts, horse carts, ox carts, trucks, rickshaws, double-decker buses, and ordinary four-wheel vehicles, if I had told him his life would be forfeit if I did not get to the association meeting on time.
At last, on another side of this great city, we pulled into a road choked with people all walking quickly, excitedly, in one direction. Where they all converged was a gate. Weaving through, we pulled up close to it and stopped. As if on cue in a play I had not realized I’d wandered into, quick as I’d opened my door a hand shot out of the throng, a face leaned forward, lively brown eyes peered at me intently, and an Indian gentleman said,
“Radha Soami! You are Mr. Phillip (confusing my first and last name)?”
“Radha Soami! Yes,” I said, “but how did you know? Are you Mr. Sawan Sondhi (the representative of Maharaji for foreigners in New Delhi, whom I'd expected at the airport terminal customs area)?”
He said he was not, but that he had been in charge of the meeting at the airport and so knew of the mix-up. He got in beside me and directed the taxi on through the gate. When I started to pay the driver, Maharaji's volunteer grabbed the money I was about to give to the chauffeur, haggled briefly and efficiently, and then handed me back four more rupees than I’d expected. He then took charge of my luggage, passing it over to a young volunteer worker (one of many service doers, or sevadars, associated with the Maharaji).
He ushered me over to the entrance to the Association, at the front of a huge tent-like canopy. He said for me to go on in for the Darshan (view of a Saint or Maharaji, or, in some uses, also the karma-removing, miraculous gaze of a Maharaji, said to be worth many lifetimes of service and meditation, in returning us to the Lord), as Maharaji would be arriving momentarily. Afterward, he added, we could worry about getting me installed in a hotel.
I thanked him and, without a thought, forgetting even to zip up my handbag, leaving behind an open case with my return airline tickets, travelers’ checks, and all my extra money, plus a beautiful birthday card which the Virginia Beach Lifestream Way group had given me to take and hand personally to Maharaji, I rushed in through another gate directly into the front of the association area.
There I was immediately confronted with the upturned faces of beautiful, devoted, smiling men and women in a huge throng already gathered ahead of me and seated or squatting as far back as could be seen and then on up to within a few yards of me, just under the high dais. In my eagerness to join them and recognizing friends I’d met back in the Virginia Beach and Washington area, I hurried forward when suddenly a couple of tall, stately, turbaned gentlemen standing at the entranceway began a frantic, loud whisper: “Shoes! Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!” At first I did not understand. “Oh!” Properly rebuked, I took off my footwear and left it with countless other pairs, in neatly arranged little rows, and went forward once more.
Before me was a Biblical scene of tens of thousands of waiting, devoted disciples. I sat down next to a couple of friends among the foreign visitors (who are given the great boon of being placed near the front of the vast crowds gathered at such meetings) and found myself smiling ear to ear at my incredible good fortune in being here, and just in time. I had a moment to look around and only then realized that the “wall” I’d passed was actually the platform on which the Maharaji was to sit, not twenty feet from me. Wow! “This is really it!” I thought.
The women were singing devotional Shabds (chanted songs of devotion, the lyrics taken from the poetry of past mystic saints and Maharajis), and, intermittently, a dignified looking older gentleman would speak in Punjabi (presumably from Lifestream Way literature) into a microphone, down on ground level.
A beautiful old Indian gentleman with white turban and a full, flowing, gray beard, not our Maharaji but someone who looked like he could easily be a very high soul, came through the little doorway opening and just stood around beaming happily. I found myself giddy, beaming joyfully too.
Next there was a great scurrying commotion, and several volunteer workers darted to their places and sat down, following some cue unseen by the rest of us. Then, all at once, the Maharaji seemed to materialize on the high platform! He had come up from behind, so that His sudden presence was a surprise. He was just there! His appearance was spellbinding as a sudden blaze of brilliant light streaming in all directions.
Something must have irritated my eyes at this point for they filled with water and the tears began rolling down my face. “What a time to get dust in your eyes,” my cynical self was thinking, and I was smiling, with the tears flowing down, and Maharaji was giving us all beautiful Darshan, while a male chanter sang Shabds from on His left. The Darshan went on and on and on, back and forth between us, that is, from Maharaji to each disciple and back, etc. It became a special, miraculous, wonderful, timeless moment that seemed of the essence of the Absolute, outside of time, outside of everything.
Finally, at a signal, the chanter stopped, the Maharaji gave us a slight Radha Soami bow with palms together, and left. It was over. Yet the hour, the day, the month, and the year seemed full at that moment. We began digesting, processing, interpreting the experience for ourselves and once more resumed our more routine and automatic kinds of thinking, like getting circulation back in our legs, greeting friends, and...Oh, my luggage!
But when I checked I found all my suitcases and my traveling bag in order and undisturbed. A taxi had already been called by one of the many eager and conscientious volunteer workers, and a room had even already been reserved for me at the hotel (as "Mr. Phillip") where most of the other disciples were staying, at least, that is, those who were so-called “western guests,” from Europe, Africa, and North and South America.
The hotel was very reasonable and convenient. After checking in, I went up to my “air conditioned” (that is, heated) room and suddenly discovered I was exhausted. After a quick, cold shower (only the air being "conditioned"), I went to bed for three hours. As I closed my eyes it was easy to feel that I was once again in that timeless state of Darshan flowing back and forth between Maharaji and disciple. It was possible to feel that one day I really would come to know the true, inner meaning of Darshan.
2 DEC 75 - Since the last entry, the adventure has continued. Several of us westerners took taxis from our hotel back to the airport and eventually boarded a twin-engine propeller plane, for which reservations had previously been arranged. This aircraft remained relatively close to the ground and took a number of hours, flying over dry and desolate-looking country at first, and then above some apparently well irrigated river basin farmlands in the Punjab, the "breadbasket of India," a region populated largely by Sikhs, a separate culture and religion from that of either the Hindus or Moslems.
Our flight ended at Amritsar, famous for the Golden Temple. Amritsar is also close to the Pakistan/India border, a fact not properly taken into consideration by a Lifestream Way disciple friend of mine, Jim, who, on deplaning, began taking pictures of the terminal and of our little group, with the plane, etc., in the background. Within seconds, troops with machine-guns had rushed over to us from the terminal building and were loudly and at gunpoint demanding my friend's camera. I suppose they were just following strict rules and did not really think he might be a spy. He was thoroughly confused and alarmed, but of course turned it over. They took the film out and gave the camera back to him, warning him and all of us that taking pictures there was not permitted, though this was not even a military airport.
On the way from Amritsar to the Lifestream Way spiritual colony of Gagan, yesterday, Jim, relaxing again after the airport incident, told me the following story, heard at an association meeting in Washington, D.C. Maharaji asked someone to drive Him out to an out-of-the-way place where a man was sitting atop a pile of dried grass. It turned out he was, in the next moment, going to set fire to the pile and so burn himself to death. Maharaji asked him what he was doing. He explained that all his life he had been looking for God but had never found Him. Either God did not exist, he decided, or, despite all his searching, He had not wished to reveal Himself to him. He said he could not stand it anymore. He was going to set the grass ablaze. Then, he believed, he would perhaps be able to finally meet God, if only in the next world. Maharaji then asked him where he thought God was. “Everywhere,” he replied, “in the trees, the rocks, the birds, everywhere.” And as he looked about for natural objects and other examples of where God must be, suddenly, in each one, even in each individual leaf in a nearby bush and in the trees close at hand, he saw Maharaji. And so, tears in his eyes, he got down from the pile of grass and, shortly afterward, he followed the Maharaji back to Gagan, where he was later initiated.
This morning Dr. Bahadur Khand told us westerners the following story about his Maharaji, the present Maharaji’s Maharaji, to show the protection of an Enlightened One and the importance of a pure, simple mind. When they had the initial (or partition) wars between India and Pakistan, in 1948, I believe, there was incredible bloodshed and butchery. Millions of people, whole villages of men, women, and children were cut down, to the last one, in this slaughter, sometimes Hindus killing Moslems, sometimes the opposite. Both of these would also often be killing Sikhs, etc. But not a single follower of LW was killed in this way. Things just happened. Often people did not realize how. They just escaped, while everyone else might perish. He said it was something which must be experienced to be appreciated, but that one instance came to mind that would help illustrate. A Lifestream Way family was trying to escape Pakistan by train. There was great terror because there were massacres occurring all around, Moslems slaughtering Hindus in this case. They were at a station where a train had just pulled in and it was filling rapidly with Hindus hoping to get away, across the border to India, in time. Already hordes of butchers were reported to be approaching and would reach the station at any moment. So the Hindus were frantic to get on the train. Just as the LW family, who were themselves of Hindu background and appearance, were about to get onto the train, their little boy of four or five, who was being carried along by his father, began screaming and carrying on. When they stopped to try to deal with him he shouted that they must not get on that train, that Maharaji was standing there and saying not to. But they were so terrified that they began again to board the train. Once more the boy put up a great protest for the same reason, screaming finally in sheer panic when they began once more to clamber aboard. In great turmoil but unable to control the little boy, the family watched as the train filled to overflowing in a matter of moments. One last time they urgently attempted to board and the boy once more screamed and shouted that Maharaji was there and said they must not get on the train. And so it started up without them and left. At the next station this train was brutally attacked by a Moslem mob. None were left alive on it. The LW family boarded the next train, which came along in just a few minutes and carried a soldier escort. It was not attacked and got through to the safety of Amritsar, in India. Dr. Khand said the boy's parents, though initiates of his Maharaji, had not even seen him there. The little boy had more purity of mind and simplicity of faith, and so he had seen. But they had received the protection anyway. We do not know, he said, because our minds are so gross, so cluttered, that we do not see, how our Maharaji is arranging things for us and protecting us in so many ways everyday.
Probably the things that will live longest in one’s memory of Gagan are some of the simplest. Just an hour or so after our arrival together by the Gagan van from Amritsar, Jim, his wife, Martha, and I were walking about the Gagan grounds, which, at the time, were very quiet and peaceful, with Maharaji gone and few westerners about. There were also few Indians, as many go elsewhere during Maharaji’s absences on his long tours. Some go off to visit with relatives outside Gagan. As we walked about, taking in the beauty of the huge, marble Association Hall (designed and built by one of the past Maharajis), and back along the road from the main gate, I was in a beautiful, calm state. We saw some Indian children. They seemed to be about three to eight years old. Their eyes were twinkling with curiosity and bright, smiling, cheerful friendliness. Jim decided to take a picture. As he got out his camera, there was a great hoop and shout of enthusiasm from the children and they all came running over, forming a little, eager knot of merriment. After two pictures, we moved on; but I turned back to give them a farewell gesture. I raised my hands together in front of me and bowed slightly toward them in the traditional “Radha Soami” greeting. Instantly they surrounded me and all were raising their hands in the same greeting, each one bubbling over with exuberant good humor. As I greeted them and they me and we smiled back and forth, it seemed our joyous little din of laughter and eager “Radha Soamis” might go on for hours. But Jim and Martha were ready to leave.
3 DEC 75 - Spent most of my meditation time today feeling skeptical and negative, wondering what I am doing here or on this path. Then, at breakfast, to my surprise, I found myself cheerfully talking with several of the other westerners and, by the time I left, was once more committed to staying with this meditation approach, even if all I can do is barely hang in there and half the time am filled with doubts, fidgeting, and grumbling.
4 DEC 75 - Dysentery, sinus trouble, and a sore throat are making things interesting today.
The one English part of the long, Punjabi-language association meeting I understood this morning was to the effect that we need to complete our course of meditation while we are alive, because if we do not meet Maharaji’s Astral Form inside, while we are still in life, we shall not be able to do so after death.
5 DEC 75 - The sinus flare-up and sore throat continue.
There are, I have heard, two basic avenues within which one can meditate toward significant goals in consciousness. One is that of love, faith, or devotion. The other is that of curiosity, exploration, and discovery. It seems to me that, for better or worse, the latter is the more natural approach for me. The way of love and devotion could open up to me at some time in the future. In this hope I am continuing here with the regular daily routine and shall meditate as much as possible. Even to know that one is "dry as a stone" (lacking in any feeling of faith or love) may be an important lesson.
The theme of Dr. Khand's English association this morning was that we must take our heads in our hands and hand them to Maharaji. We belong to a very exclusive club and the membership fee is that, at the right time, we shall cut off and hand over our precious egos (our heads). The benefit of membership is that we have the Beloved and shall become Him. By then, He shall long since have become everything to us. We are on a path of easy stages, though. We should not be afraid that at some point we must cut off our heads. At first it may be sufficient that we yield up just our little toes! By and by, though, more and more must be offered up. When the time comes, probably we shall be ready and eager to hand over even our heads, and regard the price as very cheap indeed.
He quoted a mystic who described us who have initiation from a perfect spiritual Maharaji but yet have no genuine love for Him, and hence do not sincerely try to follow his teachings through our day-to-day practice, as being like stones in a riverbed. The rushing torrent of water flows and floods over them, but they remain just as they were. Instead, he advised that we should be like the grain of salt that went to the sea to find out its depth and never returned. But if we have been initiated by such a Maharaji as we have today, then at least we are in the riverbed, instead of up on dry land or off in the desert. How many other rocks, in fact, never come near the water? But for those in the riverbed there is the chance that, in time, their rough edges will be worn smooth, they'll be broken up again, then worn smooth again, broken again, until, one day even we, like the crystal of salt, may just dissolve into the stream. At last, the tremendous power of the river shall just overwhelm us in our small selves, pulverize us like some immense machine, until we just cease to be, until we have become the river.
In the association meeting today, one of Maharaj Gujja Ram Ji’s (our Maharaji's Maharaji, also affectionately and respectfully known as Papa Ram Ji) old disciples related an exchange between Him and one of the foreign guests, years ago: The foreign lady asked Papa Ram Ji to help her with her inner progress, because as yet she had seen nothing, and had no spiritual experiences, inside. So He asked her to show Him how far up the body would become senseless in meditation. She showed Him, and He said: “Then, I'm sorry, sister, but I am helpless. I can not pluck out your eyes and put them on your knees.”
7 DEC 75 - In another recent association meeting, with Mr. Chardal Kanwal, we asked about “shortcuts” to progress in meditation, mentioning that for some reason a few initiates are able to apparently concentrate and "go inside" in a relatively short time, while the vast majority of the rest of us may take years and years or even a lifetime or may never be able to so concentrate the attention. We were told that, while much of this depended on our karma, nonetheless, if it were not too heavy, we might be able to profit from a few suggestions:
10 DEC 75 - I’ve had a bad cold with a high temperature, as well as diarrhea, the last few days. Last night my fever broke, and now my cold at last seems to be over. To play it safe, I still skipped breakfast and the morning association meeting in Punjabi. I also kept the heater on. I gave myself a much needed shower and shampoo, for the first time in several days.
I then dressed in fresh clothes and cleaned up the room, in preparation for a roommate’s arrival, opening the curtains then and letting in the bright morning sunshine. It feels like a time of renewal.
Maharaji’s birthday is on the 12th of this month, and He is expected sometime on the 13th or a little before. So, it is a time of high anticipation and preparation here. He should remain here, then, straight through to the end of this session, or until early in January, except for one day, the 21st.
Mike, Yvette, and Alice went out with me beyond the compound and walked over to a large tree, on a bluff overlooking the Beas River valley, a tree said to have been the one Professor Thomas, an old initiate notable, who wrote a key book in the early library of Lifestream Way texts for westerners, used to sit under for many hours of meditation when Papa Ram Ji was running the colony.
It was a very pleasant hike for us, and we enjoyed seeing several kinds of birds and isolated goats, sheep, and water buffalo, as well as a few farmers and herdsmen. We saw several laborers bearing great loads of river grass on their backs and a water buffalo running from badgering dogs. It surprised us with its grace and speed. The valley, from our high vantage point, was beautifully peaceful. We could see for miles in several directions. Here and there were scampering squirrels or chipmunks. A tiny owl studied us and then flew away. Several lovely baby-dukhs displayed their colors for us. A score or so of tiny finches darted away while others flitted about, in and out among the branches of a cluster of brambles. A couple of parrots, or birds of paradise, flashed by, a quick double-dash of green, red, yellow, white, and blue.
A couple of times our shawls and coats became snagged in some of the brambles while we walked, reminding us of the parable of how, like the cloth in a thorn bush that must be carefully removed bit by bit, lest it be ripped to shreds, so we must approach our own dying little by little, in meditation, dying while living, rather than waiting for it to come in a sudden wrenching jolt, all at once, in the moment we leave this physical form forever.
We watched people using buffalo teams to pull plows in their fields, examined mustard plants for their tiny seeds, noted rough farm sheds of tree limbs and heaped-on bundles of twisted grass, and found some small caves in the sides of deep ravines, such as may well in centuries past have provided shelter for meditating hermits, but now are likely home only for swarms of hornets and bees.
It struck me how this great nation, so poor in material ways, may yet in spiritual ones be the wealthiest country on this pearly world. It has a heritage of spirituality that extends back into its dim past for thousands of years.
As we returned I was shocked, while passing a low tree, to see two doves viciously fighting. Heretofore, I’d always thought this kind of bird heralded only peace!
On a little farther, I saw great birds that reminded me at once of hawks and buzzards. They floated on the hot eddies above the dry banks of the valley and every now and again let loose a chilling, long scream, high pitched and eerie, suggesting the ever-presence of death, even in this placid, pastoral setting. One misstep on the rugged, dusty paths along and above the deep ravines, or perhaps one swift strike from beneath a nearby bramble bush, by one of India’s many venomous reptiles, and we could ourselves become food for several scavenging creatures.
11 DEC 75 - I’ve been to another Indian city. It was an interesting experience but one which I am glad is over. However, I got my return flights reconfirmed, as was required, and saw a bit more of this vast country. Several westerners, from among the USA initiates here, went to Jalandhar today, by train, a most enjoyable and relaxing way to travel in this country, at least if one goes First Class. (I understand the lowest class train travel is merciless, with folks crowded in on top of one another and hardly any room at all for people, much less baggage.)
Afterward, returning to this colony was like a drink of fresh, cool water in a desert. The Indian countryside can be gorgeous. The cities can show you the worst squalor imaginable (with multiple thousands of mud hovels shoved together, one against another, child beggars with missing fingers, chopped off by their parents so their offspring could pursue this "trade," etc.), as well as, on occasion, the most beautiful buildings and temples. I have so far found the cities in India pretty depressing. Yet everywhere poverty is apparent.
But this material want is quite a relative thing. Countryside farmers in the Punjab may do fairly "well", living off the land and working part-time at other vocations for a small amount of hard currency. A bicycle rickshaw operator carried three of us at once for three miles, to the railroad station, this morning, for the Indian currency equivalent of 10 cents, the going rate! We feel guilty and inclined to tip lavishly, but have been warned not to, that this practice by well-off foreigners can destabilize the economy here and further deflate the currency.
13 DEC 75 - Last night, beautiful dreams!
At 12:50 PM today, Margaret, one of the westerners who does special volunteer service here, and so stays in the colony for months at a time, opened the Guest House dining hall door, thrust her head in, and yelled three very exciting words: “Maharaji is back!”
For this afternoon’s association meeting, I took my place quite early, so as to get a good seat. Maharaji’s space on the platform was being meticulously prepared by his volunteer workers (service doers). The area in front of the platform began to fill with people. The Indians sang Shabds inspired by poetry of Kabir. They were led in this, up on the platform, by one of the “elder statesmen” among the volunteer workers. After I’d been waiting about 45 minutes, Maharaji arrived. He gave us a slight bow, held his hands together and vertical in front of Him, in Radha Soami (Literally: “Lord of the Soul,” but, as usually used, a form of either “Hello” or “Goodbye” that remembers God. Loosely: “The Lord in me greets the Lord in you.”) greeting, and sat down. The Shabds singing ceased, and He began to give Darshan (the glance of the Maharaji and the returning gaze of the disciple).
In the evening meeting tonight with Maharaji, none wished to break the atmosphere with a question that might, in any case, just seem rather silly. We simply absorbed more Darshan while Maharaji had Dr. Bahadur fill the ensuing silence with a very erudite discourse on verses by one of the past Maharajis. Despite my skeptical nature and cynicism, I am tremendously impressed with the sheer presence of this Being Who is leading us in an outer and inner spiritual way, the true nature of which as yet is far beyond our imagining.
14 DEC 75 - I have had my interview with Maharaji. It was a magnificently beautiful day, warm (about 75-80° F) and bright. The interview was held out on the lawn of Maharaji’s rose garden, adjacent His family home. After Maharaji had given Darshan this afternoon for the foreign guests and then gone back into His house, those of us awaiting scheduled interviews were asked by one of the volunteer workers to stay. A few moments later Maharaji came out again and walked between us and over to His chair out on the lawn, far enough away to give the interviews privacy, although those of us not yet having our time with Him could still watch Him at a distance. I was about fifth or sixth. My heart was pounding very hard and fast. The bell rang for my turn. I went over and greeted Him. He asked me to sit down in the chair near him, which I did.
He asked me what city and state I came from and I said the location and added that I go to the association meetings in Virginia Beach. “I see,” He said. I handed Him the birthday card that our group from Virginia Beach had prepared for Him. I said: “I bring you greetings from the Virginia Beach disciples and pre-initiates, for your birthday, just a little late.” “Well, it is never late,” He said, and “Thank you very much.” (pause) “It is very beautiful.” (pause) “But I never like to make much of my birthdays.” He opened it and looked it over carefully, especially at each signature, and He quickly scanned the poems there. “Nice poetry,” he commented. (pause) “Please tell them 'thank you very much'.” “I will,” I said. Then I added: “And they asked me to say: ‘Please come see them soon’,” and I waited breathlessly for His reply. “Well, I have been there before,” He said. (pause) “Perhaps sometime.” Then we were both silent and this pause continued and continued as we just looked into each other’s eyes. And He smiled and said: “Is there something you would like to ask?” “Yes,” I said, “In our country there is a very beautiful story called The Wizard of Oz, in which four beings go on a long journey to ask for four boons. One asked for wisdom, one for a heart, one for courage, and one for a way home. If I might, I would like to ask you for a boon.” And I was waiting for His reply or a nod or some such so then I would go on and ask for the boon of a heart filled with love (since it seemed to me that a great lack of love was my chief deficiency in life). But He did not say “Yes” or nod or any such reply. Instead, He answered as if I had already asked for this boon out loud: “Well,” He said, smiling most sweetly, “It is always there.” He paused, while I did an inner double-take, realizing He was answering the question I had not yet voiced. Then He added: “We just have to be receptive to it. Just attend to your meditation," he emphasized. I realized then that He was giving me my boon and that all I needed to do now was attend my meditation and, at the right time, all would be taken care of. “Thank you,” I said quietly. “That is all I had to ask You.” “Alright,” He said. We gave one another “Radha Soami” greetings, and I left. After I’d gone a few paces I heard His little bell behind me, signaling it was time for the next person. But, for me, the short time had been very full. I was hardly touching the ground!
I heard an intriguing story today about a clairvoyant or psychic person at Gagan, an initiate seeing Maharaji for the first time, who was very surprised that he could not see any aura around Maharaji. He was apparently especially attuned to the interface between a person’s aura and the rest of the environment. He was very puzzled because, looking at Maharaji he could not see this at all, although he could see it around others with no trouble. Later he discovered the explanation when he at last did see the aura, when Maharaji left Gagan one day. Several minutes after He had gone, the clairvoyant at last saw it as everywhere around, throughout the whole area, and receding slowly in the direction Maharaji had gone. Maharaji’s aura was ten miles out from His physical form! (It is said that, in His Astral Form inside, Maharaji’s brightness is like that of thousands of suns.)
16 DEC 75 - This afternoon we had carrying-bricks seva (or service) again. Again I got worn out. Previously at this task I’d had such a fit of depression, discouragement, and self-doubt that I’d only wanted to leave this place and return to the “practical world” and “get on with my life,” though I’d no idea what that meant either. But today there was a difference. Earlier, seeing Maharaji at a distance, I had just felt an inward “Sour grapes” attitude and slowly trudged back toward my room. Tonight, I suddenly found myself leaping up a steep flight of steps, flinging my basket down in the pile, tearing round the corner, nearly knocking over some poor old Indian gentleman, and racing on the remaining block or so over uneven ground, rocks, holes, bricks, round another corner, and on yet another half block, barely in time to catch a last glimpse of Him from about fifty feet or so, as Maharaji went round a final turn and out of sight.
After an evening association meeting of questions and answers, Maharaji gave Darshan while Dr. Bahadur spoke. My impression, the strongest so far, is that if there is a God and He really does concern Himself with we seemingly insignificant ones, then here in this Maharaji surely, if anywhere, He truly has come down to us. If God is, surely this is He! And through our Maharaji, God gives to all our doubts and all our questions and all our hopes and fears and all our multitude of problems, peeves, desires, uncertainties, and speculations, one message: “Just attend to your meditation.” We feel somehow that this can’t really be the answer because to meditate doesn’t seem ever to directly come to grips with the things that most concern us. Yet, strangely, this is the answer. This is the message. All that we want and need is available. Do you want it? Then be still. Find a quiet place within. “Be still, my children,” He says, “and know that I am He for Whom you truly long. Be still, and know that I AM.”
17 DEC 75 - “If salvation were ready at our hand, and could be found without great labor, how would it be possible that it should be neglected by almost all men?” Spinozo
Just back from a fantastic evening meeting with Maharaji. WOW! How He sets us up! The last two days for me have probably been the hardest I’ve had to go through in several weeks. I was at times so depressed that I wished for a quick death and, at the very least, was thinking of abandoning this path. Instead of encouraging me, Maharaji yesterday seemed even more distant and remote, apparently even bored and impatient with us on several occasions.
Last night, in the evening association meeting, He at once turned it over to Dr. Bahadur and then gave Darshan to the ceiling(!) and yawned until time to leave. And He had kept us waiting and waiting in His garden, then popped out for just a minute or two, made an impatient remark about our cameras (I did not have one but did not feel any less His negativity), and left. Today, during one interview, He kept His eyes closed and appeared to not even be paying attention, then just dismissed the individual with His hand, saying nothing. She was devastated. (I am reminded of what I have read of some of the behavior of Zen masters with their disciples or monks, in attempt to bring them to one-pointed attention and enlightenment.)
But tonight He came in smiling and so apparently pleased that we felt immediately happy ourselves, and He proceeded to make us laugh and laugh. He still threw in a lot of serious teaching and repeated the inevitable “Just attend to your meditation” in one form or another. But He saw to it that we really enjoyed being with Him. This was so refreshing!
19 DEC 75 - I went up on the Guest House roof this morning before breakfast. The sky and the view of the Beas River were extremely good and beautiful. There’s a rich, red glow over the sky and river, and a huge full moon on the opposite horizon. Yesterday, the Himalayas were visible off to the northeast, but this morning the haze is too thick from the morning mists and the smoke of little wood or grass fires the Indians use for heat and cooking, augmenting these fuels with sometimes a few rare lumps of coal or, more often, with dried buffalo chips.
In the cities these little fires are extremely numerous, not only in early morning but throughout the night, and the air is thick with this brown smoky haze, which can be very irritating to the eyes and sinuses. But for the millions who must live literally right along or in the streets, these tiny fires are precious. Many, of course, lack even these and must huddle together to conserve a little body heat against the chill of the night. Little wonder, then, that for some the enormous sun that rises over India, by mid-morning driving away the damp and cold everywhere it shines, came to be regarded in ancient times as a god.
If there is indeed reincarnation, then no doubt I have myself worshipped this great sun and its sister moon through numerous previous lives of struggle, in the scorching days and chilling nights that have flashed past one another in a panoramic, time-lapse view of this old, old land.
20 DEC 75 - The Himalayas are barely visible again this morning. I watched from the top of the Guest House while the light gradually brightened over the Beas River, a really quite stunning view!
I looked in vain again today for some letter from my brother, Ralph, or anyone else back in the States. They file the letters by the guests’ last names, alphabetically, and so I checked the VWX’s, the letters to left and right of W, for Wagner, in case a letter had been misfiled. Nothing. Have been looking for something for a week, eager to hear from the Virginia Beach LW group. So, after tea, just to be certain, I checked all the other mail too. There it was, a nice, long, enthusiastic and gossipy letter from Ralph! It had been filed under “P!”
22 DEC 75 - The other day, before another outdoor morning association meeting, as we were still assembling and retired Lieutenant General Kali Bein was up at the front, helping to seat us in our proper places, four jet fighters flew over, very low and fast, hardly clearing the towering spires of the marble Association Hall, so that they just quite suddenly appeared and then were gone, their thunder temporarily drowning out everything else and interrupting the relative peace and calm of Gagan in a way that almost made them seem unreal apparitions, so out of place they seemed there. Lieutenant General Bein turned to us westerners, sitting nearby, smiled wryly, and said “The agents of Kal (the ruler of all temporal realms: physical, astral, and causal; also known as the negative power, time, death, or the angel of death).”
I must say I feel terribly silly practicing these syrupy sweet Christmas songs to sing around Maharaji, but I wasn’t in on the selection and I guess you could say it’s just karma. Ha. But “Bring us some figgy pudding!?” It’s really a bit much! - Well, if it makes Him laugh it’ll be worth it.
23 DEC 75 - I had my parshad (Maharaji's blessing), or final, interview with my Guru today. From my ego’s viewpoint, it went terribly. I was about 16th in 22. We are all crowded in together, way ahead of the actual end of our stays here, because there are so many of us and He will not have time to attend to us during the extremely crowded, spiritual celebration days coming up.
I feel really low. Most of the stuff written here, most everything I do, think, and say, virtually all my motives, seem ridiculous. Everything, nearly, is ridiculous. To give parshad gifts, to hold associations, to tell nice, interesting stories about Maharaji, to marry or not to marry, to teach Lifestream Way precepts or not, to be happy or sad, to concern oneself with how close you can get to Maharaji, or with “special looks” from Maharaji, or their effects, to concern yourself with anything but your worldly duty, done sincerely, and with doing your regular meditation, just as an obligation, without any expectations, is very, very ridiculous. And you can not undo the shameful things you have done, nor un-waste the great privileges you have wasted. All you can do is your meditation. And when you fail to do even that, then you have wasted everything and you are simply, completely, a ridiculous fool. But even to indulge in being a ridiculous fool and to feel all the time depressed over it is also ridiculous. It is based on the assumption that you have self-importance and that any of your actions or motives have a possibility of significance. This is ego. But in reality, what are you? Nothing at all. So, just do your duty and do your meditation. What else can one do? - And yet, I am miserable at the moment and feel like leaving Gagan at once and simply going off somewhere, where I’ll hopefully never see another initiate. If by chance I should die on the way, it would seem most fortunate!
In my final interview I willingly did as I'd been asked by my brother, Ralph, and a couple others in the Virginia Beach group and asked Maharaji to hold, and so bless, some fine quality wool shawls and similar gifts I'd bought here in the market for them, plus one for myself. He did so but with a look and gesture of extreme impatience and irritation. I asked him about some of the things my friend in Petersburg, VA, Esther, had told me about my future, whether I would get married and if she were correct that I would be asked to represent the Maharaji at some point. He refused to answer me and looked as though He were glaring through me, as if I were something repulsive to Him. Finally he just told me, very sternly, the usual formula: "Just attend to your meditation," and dismissed me so abruptly it was as if he had slapped me.
Life goes on. The play goes on. The Teacher is giving out His lessons. This student is going through his catechism. He shows the student that he can’t love, that he has no faith, that he can’t follow simple instructions. He shows the student love. He shows him faith. He shows him following instructions. The student learns but still has much to learn. He lets the student try and fail, He picks him up when he falls. He shows the student the growing pains of the Path of Love. He is a beautiful Teacher. The student does not want to displease Him. But he does. He must. He learns by experiences which would have seemed too painful for him to bear. But he bears them. And the Teacher lets him know that He loves him. Then he falls. The Teacher appears to be cross. But the student knows better. And after the first hurt and shock he gets up and tries again. He remembers that the Teacher loves him. He goes on. He knows better now. He tries again. He does not want to displease his beautiful Teacher Who has given him such wonderful lessons. The student tries to love, tries to have faith, and tries to follow simple instructions. One day he will graduate, for the Teacher is a very good Teacher and He will help him. The Teacher loves him.
Went to tea and then seva this afternoon and even managed to smile and enjoy them. Seva is getting more and more beautiful. People are already starting to pour in to the Gagan from all over India, for the coming huge spiritual celebration. After seva I was feeling much better. Also, as Maharaji came to seva, I was able to be on hand, about twenty feet away, as He got out of His car and went to sit down. He never looked toward me, but I felt better and rushed off to work with the hundreds of others in the dirt, the digging, the bricks, etc. It was great, despite the hurt of His little interview “scolding,” this morning.
Waiting for that interview in Maharaji’s garden, it had suddenly seemed to me that I had seen and heard these trees, flowers, birds, etc., exactly here before, and remembered a vivid segment of a dream I had a couple of years ago or so, which apparently (I now recognized) had Maharaji’s garden as the setting, though, of course, I'd never been here before, at least in this life.
24 DEC 75 - Last night once again I could not get to sleep. Each day, for several in a row, it has been hours before sleep would come. I think it is because things are so intense here that the mind must go on in high gear, for some time after the day’s events have ended, just to process the surface implications.
Yesterday was the “heaviest” of all for me and, at one point, I would have liked to have run away if there had been somewhere outside to escape. Yet this morning I feel convinced of this path and Maharaji. My difficulty each evening has been that I have been trying to sleep when I should have been trying to meditate. So, last night again my mind was racing with the weight of what had happened during the day, and, in going back over it and over it, my interview with Maharaji came back before my mind’s eye again and again.
It seemed so repellant and awful that my body was actually trembling. Each time I would review some specific part of that terrible episode I would seem to experience a physical jolt, like being startled. Instead of getting sleepy I was just becoming more and more lucid and upset. Finally, it dawned on me that sleep was going to be impossible and so, in resignation and defeat, I sat up and began to meditate.
And Maharaji showed me that when He answers our questions by saying “Just attend to your meditation,” He is not merely dismissing what we have asked. His reply is very much to the point, far more than if He gave some outer, verbal answer. And also, He is giving us a promise, a promise which He can only fulfill if we do our part, the meditation. Then perhaps He bestows on us all we can handle; and maybe it is more even than we would ask for. Sometimes it can be very nice, though we ourselves “accomplish” nothing. He does it all.
Maharaji has said that when He Initiates a disciple He touches and connects His Soul with that of the disciple. From that moment on we are in His care; and His rays of love are not only permeating our soul but are also arranging the course of our destiny. Admiral Khanna has said that when we are initiated by a Perfect Maharaji our soul currents are impregnated by Him with the Lifestream Seed, a Seed more vital than that of any physical union. That Seed, we are told, must bear fruit. In our meditation we nurture that Seed and bring it finally to birth. And that child, that new being, which already has enjoyed the hothouse effects of the Maharaji’s intense currents of love throughout its prenatal stage, now is carried to full adulthood by the Maharaji’s Astral and Holy Sound Current Forms. And so, Maharaji is the disciple’s Mother and Father. As He says, “There are no failures here.”
In His relations with us, the outer and the inner Maharaji, Which we are to understand are One, but Which we can not at this point experience as One, are like our Father and Mother in another sense. When we were little children we required the instruction of both our parents. Even if we had lost a father or mother we usually found a substitute, because both are needed for our proper development. And in teaching us, our parents would sometimes have to reprimand us, to scold us, to have a mood of impatience with us. When we are little children and a parent scolds us or gives us a little swat on the bottom, it is devastating. Our world is crumbling! And we are terribly, terribly hurt. We run! Whichever parent did the scolding, we run to the other! If Father spanks us, we run to the Mother. If it is Mother who brings tears to our little eyes, we run to Father for comfort and reassurance. So, perhaps it is similar with the Inner and the Outer Forms of our Maharaji. He always loves us, but sometimes He must show His love in a way that frightens us terribly and makes us feel so hurt it is almost intolerable. But then He is also there in His other Form, and so we then will try to run to It, there to find our comfort and our reassurance.
Maharaji had His tea party for us today. It was so, so beautiful. And a girl named Sharina, from California, sang to Him devotional love songs. Because of what happened yesterday, I was still feeling very reserved, shy, and ashamed around Him. At the gathering for the tea party, I stayed in the background. When Mahariji arrived, for the first few minutes I just strolled around so as to be as far from Him as possible as He was gradually making his way around. With so many scores of foreign guests here, it was easy to unobtrusively keep my distance from Him. Then I went back to an area where He had already been, and to which presumably he would not return, and sat down on one of the many seats provided. But as Sharina began singing, sitting on the ground with her guitar, He came over and pulled a chair out and sat down right next to me (I could have just leaned forward and kissed His cheek) and remained there, only inches from me while He listened to her lovely songs. She was on one side of me, a few feet away, and Maharaji on the other, our knees almost touching, while everyone else had gathered in a semi-circle around us. At one point, while she sang about our tears of love shed for Him and His using our tears to wash us, His eyes seemed to tear, and briefly He closed His eyes. After she had sung through about four of her songs, He thanked her, got up, asked leave of us to go, gave us Radha Soami greetings, and walked away. There were tears in many of our eyes and running down our faces, and while Sharina was singing, each of us inside was singing the same words of love, with her, to Him.
As it happened, Sharina was the only one who knew how badly I had felt after my interview yesterday, because I had blurted it out to her during the seva yesterday afternoon. She had shared with me a similar time she had had earlier here. So, she alone among all the guests realized how much it meant to me that He had given me the Grace of being next to Him and in such a lovely moment. And she too had been feeling terribly low and now was being uplifted by Maharaji's deliberately coming so near us. Between two of her songs we looked at each other in mutual understanding and amazement, completely overwhelmed. And all I could do was sit there and say inside, over and over again “Thank you, Maharaji! Thank you! Thank you!” At least she could sing! - What do you do after something like that?
Later. I just finished writing the above, and the tension was just too much. So I decided to go out for a walk. I rounded the corner next to the langar (community kitchen for the entire colony, at times serving hundreds of thousands, during the huge spiritual celebrations that commemorate the birth or death of one of the prior Maharajis) and spied Maude and Gertrude standing up by the driveway gate to Maharaji’s House. “What’s this?” I thought, “Is Maharaji about to go out for a drive?” So I went up and joked a bit with them about their always “just happening” to be places where Maharaji shows up, and then Maharaji’s car appeared, coming in, returning Him from just a few minutes at seva after His appearance at our tea. So we raised hands in “Radha Soami” greeting and He just gave us a nice glance as the car passed on in. (Considering the accident of my presence there then, I suppose He simply wanted to “drive home” the point I was really still in His good Graces. The phrasing I just used reminded me of Ralph's comment to me two or three years ago about this LW path, that on it there are no accidents.) I continued my walk, all my tension gone.
CHRISTMAS DAY, 1975 - This morning Maharaj Dayal Nam Ji gave Darshan and association from the spiritual celebration platform to several thousands of us. As He says, “Blessed are those whom the Lord chooses for His Grace.” And Who is He? - The Lord Himself. He must be. By His Grace I slept less than two hours last night and have slept little for several nights now in succession, which perhaps has helped to make me a little more receptive, so that even these blind eyes can see something of His great beauty. And this morning they saw a resplendent Being, so full of life and love, so calm, so gentle, yet so dynamic with unearthly Astral majesty, so aware, yet so unruffled by that awareness, and so dazzlingly bright that even this half-skeptic must concede Him to be the Lord. If He is not the Lord, I don’t care! In Him I have seen all of the Lord I need to see to be satisfied in these earthly eyes. It is said that in His Astral Inner Form He is a thousand times more beautiful than this. Well, perhaps so, but that is for the longing, and the fulfillment of that longing, of another Eye to see. Maharaj Dayal Nam Ji, the Lord Himself here in this world, gave Darshan and association this morning and graced these earthly eyes of mine. And who am I? - Nothing.
Bhakti Onkar pronounced me “Mr. Wag.” It is most apt, most correct! Ha! And yet yesterday the King of Kings, Maharaj Dayal Nam Ji, the Lord Himself, in the most casual manner possible, walked over and pulled His chair up next to me, who am nothing at all, and sat beside me, for the most beautiful few minutes anyone here can remember in these session tea parties. One day He may even make a lover out of this dead stone.
The Christmas party tonight was wonderful! I must have cried more, in painful joy, than in the last year. And laughter lifted us all to new heights. Maharaji, as ever, was Perfect. My only regret was that I had no special, personal song to sing, no poem to read, no story to tell for our Lord. Maybe someday He will give me the words to share. I never imagined it could be so wonderful here! I think it has been a perfect time to be here. And, by Maharaji’s Grace, I am really having a perfect time. Even the deep wells of depression He fills brim full with His Love and Grace, until one is thanking Him for everything and only longs for more and more. Then one’s longing is rewarded abundantly.
More stories I have heard:
I believe this occurred in Papa Ram Ji’s time as Maharaji. Two separate incidents are involved but I was told that they occurred on the same trip.
1. The first involves a village or town where for some reason many people were in the habit of throwing stones at cars as they would pass through. Don’t ask me why they did this, but the town had become notorious for this habit of its citizens to throw very large stones and in great numbers, apparently trying to run vehicles off the road or severely damage them. Maharaji was on tour and He was going on a route which would take Him through this town of rock throwers. So several people tried to dissuade Him from going there and suggested alternate routes. Naturally the close followers of a Maharaji are very protective of Him and will try to see to it that He has no unnecessary difficulties. So they prevailed on Him just to avoid that place because of its bad reputation. But He said “No,” that He would still go that way. As they were nearing this town, some of the residents saw the car’s approach from a distance, and they alerted everyone. So, when Maharaji arrived, they were all waiting, hundreds or thousands of them on either side of the road with these large stones in their hands. But Maharaji ordered His driver to proceed on through. And the people brought back their arms to swing and hurl the rocks, but suddenly their arms froze. They couldn’t move. Their arms were all paralyzed. So there they stood on either side as the car raced on by, and they strained to move their arms forward and throw the stones, but they could not move them one centimeter. Thus He traversed the entire town without any problem.
2. The second episode has to do with a little dog. As it was told to me, this occurred somewhat further on the same trip as the rock throwers' incident. Maharaji’s car accidentally ran over a little dog. So He had the car stop, and they went back. And there the little dog was just lying, apparently dead. So He asked someone to go get a branch from a nearby bush, and with this branch and a little of the sap He somehow ministered to the dog’s wounds, but it still seemed dead or very badly hurt, so He ordered that they put it in the car. They would take it with them. Now, the dog had no collar. It was apparently just a stray, running about the highways and byways of the world, fending for itself, without any owner or master. So the Maharaji said if they were going to look after it now, then it should have a collar. By now, as they were driving along, the little dog had opened its eyes and gradually seemed to be reviving and no longer suffering much at all, until finally it seemed completely well, despite the car having actually run over it. But the Maharaji said it must have a collar. So He directed His driver to stop at a certain cobbler’s shop, which came up in a few miles as they were continuing their drive. And He told His driver to go in there and ask for a collar for their little dog. The driver did as he was asked. He went in, and the man was waiting. He had already seen them coming up and had recognized this as the car of Maharaji. The driver explained the situation and asked him to please let him know the price, whether one rupee or three or five, whatever was proper, for making the collar. And the cobbler just stared back at him coldly. Finally he said he couldn’t make a collar for him at all. He turned back to his work. So the driver went back and told the Maharaji what had happened. And He said, “Well, no, he should make us a collar. Go back and try again.” So the driver went back. Again the man said “No,” that to talk of five, ten, twenty, or a hundred rupees was not the point. He simply was not going to make a collar for that dog. After hearing this, Maharaji Himself got out of the car and went up to the shop. The man had gone back to his work but must have heard the foot steps coming back and so, with his head down, he said “I’ve already said I won’t make a collar for your dog. Now go away!” And Maharaji put His hands together imploringly and said “Won’t you please make the little dog’s collar? The price does not matter. We must have a collar for him.” And the man yelled out “A million rupees would not be enough!” But he looked up and saw the Maharaji and said “Oh, it’s You!” “Why won’t you make the collar?” Maharaji asked. And the cobbler said “I asked You four times to make a collar for me (initiate me) and You refused. Now I can not make a collar for You.” - And the Maharaji said, “Well, since you have put it that way, alright, I shall make a collar for you if you will make this collar for me.” And he told him to go see His representative in such and such a place and there he would receive initiation. “No,” the man said, “in this business we deal only in cash. I must have payment in advance!” So the Maharaji looked at him and then said “Come with me!” And right then and there He took him around back and they sat down in the weeds and Maharaji initiated him. Then Maharaji went back to the car and waited for him to finish the dog’s collar. When it was completed, they tried it on the little dog. When the fit was just right, Maharaji said in a brusque manner, “Alright, the dog has your collar! He belongs to you now and is your responsibility. You are his master. Take care of him!” And He and his driver left.
3. Also in Papa Ram Ji’s time, during one of the great spiritual celebration gatherings, at the last of December, the langar volunteer workers ran out of milk. They inquired and found it would take two days to get in the required quantity. They went to Papa Ram Ji and asked what to do. The milk was needed at once! He told them to take their buckets over to the well and to open a specific one of the taps or faucets and get the milk from there. They looked at Him strangely and said “But Maharaji, that is just water!” And He said, “No. Do as I say!” So they went over and put a bucket under the tap and opened it, and milk poured out. And milk continued to flow from it until they had precisely the required amount of milk needed for the huge gathering. Then, once again, it was water that came out. Now everyone wanted to use only that tap. So, finally, it had to be plugged up so the crowds wouldn’t assemble to use just the one tap and leave all the others untouched. When you go to the well that Papa Ram Ji built at Gagan, you’ll find one tap plugged up, still today. I have seen it, and that is the explanation when you ask about it.
4. Similarly, In Papa Ram Ji's time, at one of the great spiritual celebration gatherings, they ran out of ghee (clarified butter) and asked Him what to do. “Go down to the Beas River,” He said, “and ask the River to help us in our time of need and please to let us have some nice sweet, pure ghee for the Spiritual celebration, and tell the river we will pay her back as soon as we can.” So, following His instructions, they took as many buckets as they needed to be filled with ghee down to the banks of the Beas River and they said “Oh River, Maharaji has need of some nice, pure, sweet ghee for the spiritual celebration. Would you please, from your great depths and abundance, give us a loan of this ghee, and we shall repay you very soon.” So they tied ropes on the buckets and lowered them down into the depths. And when they pulled them back to the surface they were brim full of sweet, pure, fresh ghee. They thanked the river and went back to the langar and fed the multitudes. A few days later, when once again they had a plentiful supply of ghee, they took their best, purest stock and put it back in the same number of buckets they had taken from the river, carried them down to the banks, and poured the ghee back into the depths and abundance of the Beas.
At noon today, Bhakti Onkar led several of us through the langar and then allowed us to follow close behind Maharaji as He blessed the food. The devotion of the langar volunteer workers, the immensity of the task of feeding so many, the huge quantities of foodstuffs, and the fantastic crowds of people patiently waiting to be served and so happy to see their Maharaji as He passed through, all of these can be mentioned, but words can not describe nor photographs portray the pitch of anticipation and fulfillment in the devotees' hearts, the high drama of this place, the staggering scope of what is happening here.
No doubt everyone who comes here can recount special coincidences that have spiced up the Gagan experience. So with me also, it must be admitted that somehow, despite myself, I have blundered into at least my share of Maharaji’s Grace during my short time here. Today, for instance, I was undecided whether to go to mitti seva (dirt carrying service) outside the compound (working at filling in the old riverbed, so that area may be cultivated and will not undermine the Gagan colony on the Beas River side) because a strong, chill wind had come up which cut through my outer sweater, shirt, long-john shirt beneath, and the regular undershirt beneath that. Also, I seem to be susceptible to colds here and have had chills or fever about one-third or more of the time.
Then another foreign guest here, recently arrived, asked if I could show him the way to seva. So that made up my mind for me. Off we went. He asked me how much time I had left here. “Two and a half days,” I replied. He asked how I felt about being so close to time to leave. “Nothing special,” I replied. “I guess I sort of resigned myself to it a few days ago. Besides, I never really expected there would be any great transformation in myself, although I suppose I hoped for one at times.” I added “There have been some high points...” - Just then Maharaji’s car appeared down the road coming our direction, taking Him to seva. My new acquaintance said, “Hey, that’s Maharaji!” “I believe you’re right,” I said. “We’re on the wrong side of the road. He’s closest to the other side,” he said. “Yeah, but He doesn’t like us to run for good positions,” I said. So we just stayed there and raised our hands in “Radha Soami” greeting as He approached and went by, and His eyes shifted from the front so that He looked right at us, despite about a score of others who had quickly bunched together on the other side of the road. “As I was saying,” I continued, “there have been some high points,” (my friend laughing as did I) “but there hasn’t been any great increase in faith or love, I’m afraid. The main thing, I think, is the meditation, and that now we can try to do Dyan with our mantra repetition, which probably will be a big help. It is perhaps the best thing we can take with us from here.”
Once we began the seva, I discovered that the wind had been cut off by the cliffs so that I remained quite comfortable and just got a good workout down among the other busy people.
This afternoon Maharaji played Director for a colossal show in a Biblical setting, with a cast of tens of thousands. We were carrying dirt and sand again. Whole hills were disappearing before our eyes as thousands and thousands of wicker basketfuls of earth were whisked away on the heads of huge throngs of men and women, the firm and the infirm, youngsters no more than three or four, shriveled old men and women who must have been ninety or more, and all ages in between. It was really something!
Earlier we foreign guests were treated to lunch in Maharaji’s garden, simply as a courtesy to us. The feast was really for Maharaji’s personal assistant volunteers. For two hours and 15 minutes Maharaji played host, and He and His family, with their own hands, served us. Imagine!
27 DEC 75 - Theresa, who had sung so beautifully in the Christmas program, and whose rehearsing in the room below had been cheering me up for a week before that evening, spoke for many of us this morning when she said “It’s bad, because you’ve been dreaming about this place and longing to be here for so long, and then you’re here, and you feel like nothing happens. You feel so bad not to feel anything sometimes.” But of course that’s only sometimes. Still, evidently one lesson we have to learn, and it’s a very hard one, is that even being in the Presence of the Maharaji in His physical form does not take you “in.” The struggle still has to be gone through. Your labor is still required. And even love for the Maharaji, with which, we are told, we would not even need to do much meditation, is not to be relied upon until you are able to raise your consciousness at will to the Eye Center, go “inside,” and meet the Maharaji’s Astral Form within. So, there’s a catch there. By love for the Maharaji we may be able to avoid meditation. But the only way to attain that love of Him, which will survive all kinds of adverse circumstances and the perpetual changes our own minds are putting us through, is to do our meditation. One way or another, the meditation still has got to be done!
Bhakti Onkar is usually, I am told, a very inspiring, warm, and sweet speaker when he leads association meetings to foreign guests while Maharaji is away. I don’t know, because he had a heart attack during the fall session and was still recovering from that while I was here waiting for Maharaji’s return. (When Maharaji appeared, so did Bhakti Onkar!) Yesterday, though, he was a little discouraging. (Earlier someone had asked him how long he had been initiated and he said 45 or 50 years, he had forgotten.)
Yesterday he said fasting does not make you able to meditate, even eating parshad (blessed food) does not make you able to meditate. And just sitting does not make you able to meditate. He said we might say that sitting and earnestly doing our mantra repetition is good preparation for meditation or is a part of meditation, but even that is not really meditating. He said, “Meditation is something else. It comes in time, if we go on preparing for it. That’s all you can say.” “That’s so depressing!” I said, and everyone laughed.
Despite my wavering over faith in and love for Maharaji, I find that even when I seem to feel nothing for Him (how strange, after the intensity of feeling so recently!), yet of one thing I remain convinced and of it I am no longer skeptical: that the thing of greatest importance, and which can definitely be done with a certain amount of effort and perseverance, is to concentrate the attention fully at the Eye Center, withdrawing all consciousness from below, and then to “go inside” and see what may then be discovered and how life may look thereafter.
This late afternoon for an hour or so I joined the multitudes in mitti seva outside the Gagan compound. A sea of humanity was moving earth from the bluffs out across the old riverbed, filling in the area where the course of the Beas River used to run, just below the colony. It was a fantastic sight and experience.
It is said that some years ago when the One affectionately and respectfully known as Papa Ram Ji, was the Maharaji Who led activities here at Gagan, several of His disciples one day came to Him complaining that the Beas River was running swiftly and that it was washing away the bluffs above which the Gagan had been established, and soon would be eroding Gagan itself. “Do not unnecessarily trouble yourselves,” the Great Maharaji told them, “The Lord is taking care of everything.” The next morning the course of the river had shifted at a point some way upstream so that, as it passed Gagan, it flowed in its present channel, two miles east of the Gagan wall.
28 DEC 75 - The following couple of stories, heard today, were said to be no more than 2nd or 3rd hand:
1. This occurred within the last year or two. The seva work was going on all day, including during the association meetings, just as now they say that some of the volunteer workers are working at a warehouse construction site from dawn to dusk. It was mitti seva and, just as today and yesterday, earth was being dug out from the bluffs and cliffs along the Beas River, for fill efforts elsewhere. During the association meeting, three of the volunteer workers, making efforts together, had dug furiously for some time and had created a deep depression in one of the cliffs. But it had not been shored up or braced. They were back in there, still working, when the roof of this depression caved in on top of them. At that moment Maharaji interrupted the association meeting momentarily to turn to one of the volunteer workers nearby and told him to go to the river bluffs, that three disciples had had an accident there and should be dug out. Well, when they had gotten them dug out they were already dead. Maharaji said that the families and the villages or towns (or perhaps they were all from the same town) would have to be compensated for the loss of the three able-bodied providers and citizens. (They had not been living at Gagan.) So He gave the families of each of the men a certain amount of acreage and enough money to get started in a business and said that, from then on, He would initiate every man, woman, and child from the village or towns involved, as soon as they were at least ten years old.
2. At lunch I heard a story from an initiate who heard it directly from Maharaji’s brother, who often works during the hottest months at Gagan at the initiate-owned restaurant which this disciple manages, in California. It is said that people come from all over the country to visit with and listen to this brother of Maharaji there. Anyway, this is the story of how Mr. Sawan Sondhi, the photographer who, among other kinds of service to Maharaji, does the seva of helping foreign guests in New Delhi, India, came to this path. His brother was already initiated by Papa Ram Ji, but he himself was not interested at the time. But one day he was visiting at Gagan, presumably because his brother was there. Professor Thomas was living at Gagan at that time and had been for several years. This particular day, Professor Thomas was just radiating bliss and happiness. Mr. Sawan Sondhi saw this man in just incredible delight and joy. So he asked him why he was so happy. And Professor Thomas told him it was because he was going to die tomorrow. “What!?” Mr. Sondhi said, “You’re going to die, and that’s why you’re happy!? What is there to be happy about, that tomorrow is your last day?” And so Professor Thomas told him that this is what this Lifestream Way path is all about and explained the whole thing to him. The next day, Professor Thomas was struggling with a man who had a rifle, was thrown or fell backward, struck his head on something, and died at once. After that, Mr. Sondhi was convinced to become a disciple.
30 DEC 75 (Tues.) - Today is my last full day at Gagan, for this trip at least. This morning several of us were allowed to attend Maharaji’s initiation of several hundred disciples. Quite moving!
I heard an interesting story here. It is about a lady who went three times before Maharaji, in New Delhi, trying to be among those selected for initiation. She got in line the first day, went through, and came before the Maharaji. He moved His head to the right, indicating she must leave, that she was turned down. But she exclaimed “But Maharaji, I’m pure! I’m clean!” The volunteer workers took her away. Another time Maharaji was holding initiation in New Delhi. Again this lady got in the line and came before Maharaji. Again He moved His head to the right. The volunteer workers urged her out of the way. Again she said “But Maharaji, I’m pure! I’m clean!” and Maharaji looked to the volunteer workers and they hauled her away. A third time Maharaji was holding initiations in New Delhi. Again the lady got in line and came before Maharaji. He appeared to look a little surprised to see her yet again, but once more He moved His head to the right and told the volunteer workers to take her away. “But Maharaji, I’m pure! I’m clean!” She exclaimed. Then Maharaji turned back to her and said “Sister, is it not true that you have three husbands?” - “Yes, it’s true,” she said. “And is it not true that you murdered your four children?” - “Yes, it’s true,” she admitted. “I can not initiate you in this life,” Maharaji said.
Seeing Maharaji selecting the ones to initiate this morning, and then the initiation itself, was awesome. First, after He had come in and sat down, He closed His eyes and apparently went "inside" for about 5-10 minutes. At this time I just knew that He was in the highest heaven and that He was seeing the whole course - past, present, and future - of each of those hundreds waiting to come before Him and was seeing whether or not each of them was to be His disciple and, if so, what kind of disciple he would be and where he should go at the time of his death. Then He opened His eyes and nodded to His volunteer workers for the selection formalities to begin, to go through the motions of what had already been decided in realms beyond our imaginations. About one couple in ten was turned down. About the same ratio or even a little larger percentage of the men by themselves had to leave, and very few of the women by themselves, perhaps only one in twenty or twenty-five of them were turned away. The faces of these people as they would come before Maharaji were incredibly beautiful and moving to see.
My roommate is away today and tonight, on some business in New Delhi, so this last full day here I am enjoying having extra time to myself; and, especially after this morning’s experience, I am feeling like meditation. There is also the final packing to be done. It is a time for “getting my head together” before I must return to the karmas that await me, and to the rest of my destiny back in the States.
I heard a few more anecdotes today, as follows:
1. A man was in the line to go before Maharaji for the selection of those to receive initiation. That morning for breakfast he had had some eggs. But he heard Maharaji asking the people as they came before Him just one question: “Have you quit eating meat?” Each person who came before Him this time received this same question. So this man said to his neighbor in the line that he should have no trouble. He could truthfully answer that he had quit eating meat quite some time before. Finally he was standing before Maharaji. Maharaji said “When was the last time you had any eggs?” He didn’t even bother to answer. He just got a silly grin on his face, turned, and left the association hall.
2. A lady heard about Lifestream Way and, the very morning of the initiations, she decided to become a disciple. But she had eaten meat for breakfast. Again Maharaji was asking each person who came before Him the one question: “Have you quit eating meat?” But she got in the line anyway. She was determined that she would at least try to receive initiation. When she was before Maharaji, He asked her “When was the last time you ate any meat?” - “This morning, for breakfast,” she told Him. “Well, have you now quit eating meat?” He asked her. “Yes,” she said and Maharaji accepted her for initiation. He believed in her resolution.
3. In South Africa, when Sam van de Wetering, Maharaji’s representative in that country, was holding initiations fairly recently, there was a coal miner who had come some distance by train and just had a very short time off. He had to catch the next train back and there was only about one train a day, or something like that. His train was due to leave not long after the initiations. When Mr. van de Wetering initiated him, or rather Maharaji did through Sam as His agent to give the instructions, the man went "inside" at once. And, after everyone was leaving, this man was still "inside". Sam got worried. He was aware of the train that he had to catch. The time was drawing near! Sam tried and tried to bring him around, back down into consciousness in his body, but without success. Finally, after Sam thought it was now too late, the man came back into his body and opened his eyes. His face was just beaming with bliss and happiness. Here was Sam van de Wetering all worried and concerned about his missing the train. “Oh, don’t be afraid,” he told Sam. “I think it will be alright.” So they rushed to the station. He caught the train just in time. It had been delayed and left right after they'd gotten him aboard.
Now this man same man worked very hard. It was terrible labor in the mines, and he had a poor job. So the best he could afford was to live in a big compound with many other men around him, all eating meat and carrying on. It would appear that meditation would be impossible. Sam had asked him about this on the way to the train. Even after the tremendous experience the man had at his initiation, Sam was concerned. He wondered how would it be when the man got back? How could he lead a Lifestream Way lifestyle and keep a good atmosphere for meditation living that way? But the man was so full of bliss and happiness that he just couldn’t be bothered. It seemed to him that everything would be alright. And sure enough, very soon he got a promotion and an office job. He was then able to afford to get his own place, where he could eat and meditate in peace and privacy.
4. An account was related about an initiate working up in Canada, also a coal miner. Only in this man’s situation, he found his work very beneficial. He worked very hard. The job was quite tiring as well as very dangerous. You never knew when a severe accident might bring death. They took about a two hour break for lunch. Everyone else left at this time, but not this disciple. He found himself some little tunnel or hole down there, crawled back in, and turned out his light. Then he had perfect peace. No noises. No light whatever in the pitch black of a coal mine deep in the earth.
One can imagine how it must have been for him. Death was so close. His body was so tired, yet so relaxed. Concentration came easily. He just skipped lunch, or barely ate a snack, to have as much time like that as he could, in addition to his regular time in the morning. And, at night, he was so tired he didn’t feel like going out for entertainment. He just had a light meal, cleaned up, and went right to bed. A perfect job for an initiate. He didn’t want to give it up. During the day, while he was working, he could just keep on with the rounds of mantra repetition.
Someone recorded the question-and-answer session at the evening meeting in the Gagan Guest House, on Dec. 21, 1975. They let me borrow the recording so I could transcribe my question and Maharaji's reply, which are as follows:
Question: “Maharaji, when we are having all these failings (repeated failures before reaching the Eye Center having already been discussed) and, even though we try, sometimes all we seem to be able to bring to You is our failures. Well, when we’re here it’s easy to be happy, but when we are away sometimes that makes us discouraged and unhappy. I know we should try to be happy. Can You talk about being happy on this path before we’re able to bring any successes?”
Dr. Bahadur: (Jumping in impatiently and answering for the Maharaji) “There is no happiness on the path of meditation! (nervous laughter from the western guests) We’ve read Kabir. We read Mira Bai. This is a Path of tears and sleepless nights. (laughter) It’s not a Path of happiness. (laughter).” (Dr. Bahadur is notoriously very stern.)
Maharaji: “You see, Christ gives a very beautiful example of this pain and pleasure - birth of a child. He gives a very beautiful example. You see, if the woman is frightened of the pain, she can never have that pleasure - of delivering a child. But that pain carries that pleasure. Without that pain, she can never be happy. So, we have to pass through that pain before we can achieve that happiness. But there’s a pleasure in this pain. If you tell a lover or a devotee that 'I would like to take this love out of you,' he will never let you take it away. If it is so terrible, why don’t they leave it? But they can’t! They don’t! They find pleasure in that pain. So this is a - you call it pleasure, you call it pain - It’s very difficult to - uh - describe all these things. And Christ has given that beautiful example, you see, a woman delivering a child. There’s a hidden pleasure in that pain. And she is the happiest person in the world when she delivers the child. But she has to pass through all that agony. Same way it is with us. We’ve got to pass through that agony before we can achieve that end. So, lover would never like to leave that pain. He will want to be part of that pain. He will find that pleasure in that pain. It’s just a way of expressing their love for the Father.”
The last evening meeting, like the first I experienced here, was all devoted to Maharaji’s Darshan, while Dr. Bahadur read, translated, and commented on the writings of other gurus. Was it just imagination or was He really giving me a lot of personal Darshan tonight? Only my soul knows.
And so, the struggle with the mind, the imprisonment by the mind, the destiny determined by the mind, all go on, as before. Even after the high moments here at Gagan, the mind, in fact the lower mind, is still completely in charge; and “spirituality” is just another word the mind toys with, and not something personally appreciated. Now the only chance for escape from this suffocating, despair-filled existential condition lies within. The only means to those inner regions, through all the thick veils and coverings of the mind, is meditation, meditation, meditation, meditation, meditation! So, I may as well meditate and limit all the extraneous complications of life to a bare minimum, so far as possible.
What options do I have? The road I have come down ran through near suicide, alcoholism, all kinds of instability, rebellion, pain to self and to others. So even if a most rational skepticism, limited by the language and concepts of this world, sometimes looks on the path ahead as folly, yet it must always concede that to turn back would be absurd. Let me then be a “fool,” as they say, like a Man, like a Warrior, and step out, each step anew, into the unknown, following this delicate, glittering string of pearls, that leads on and disappears ahead beyond my current vision.
31 DEC 75 - On the night of 23 December I had experienced a partial loss of consciousness in the body and concentration became more fixed at the Eye Center than ever before. It was as though there was a swirling vortex at that point which opened at the narrow end just at the Eye Center. But this did not last more than a few minutes before the attention dropped back down completely.
Last night I had a color dream. I was aware that I was dreaming and had a complete out-of-body, or astral form-like, experience, felt frightened, repeated the mantra, and found myself floating toward a region of light, although some images were also apparent, as if seen underwater. I awoke.
My last association meeting here, this morning, was earlier than usual, beginning about 9:00 AM. Maharaji came by very briefly, before going on to the association hall for more initiation selections. The association was held on the langar grounds. As usual, songs were chanted or sung at first. The gathering of foreign guests was much reduced from a few days ago, most having left already, and was now it was just like a normal association meeting when Maharaji is in attendance. A hill of piled up parshad, under a protective covering of white cloth, was sitting to the front. When Maharaji came He went before this pile of parshad, perhaps ten feet long, five or six feet wide, and four or five feet high, of candy and puffed rice. This will be distributed in tiny quantities, one to each of the thousands here for the celebration gathering. He took off His shoes and walked up a few feet from it, closed His eyes for about three minutes, then reached forward and put His hand on it. He then retrieved His shoes and came over the short distance to the low platform set up this morning. Again He took off His shoes, got up onto the platform, and bowed His head all the way down, to honor His Maharaji, and took His seat. For just a few minutes, then, He gave us Darshan.
For me it seemed very special. It seemed, from my vantage point, directly in front of Him and about ten feet away, that this was the most piercing, penetrating, searching, intense, probing, purifying, direct, unwavering, and personal Darshan from Maharaji to disciple it has been my Grace and Blessing to receive from Him during this time in India. His eyes seemed almost to burn their way into my inner consciousness and, at least in imagination, it was as though a powerful beam had been directed through me, with what cleansing effects I could not begin to guess. This most direct Darshan, if not right into my eyes at least apparently so, continued, quite fixed and focused, for at least two minutes. Then He glanced away, His eyes moving here and there for another few minutes. He nodded, gave us the blessing of His farewell Radha Soami gesture, and left. One of His assistants then gave a very expressive, enthusiastic association teaching, interspersed throughout the Punjabi with here and there a few phrases in English for us westerners. Then a little of the parshad was passed out to us, and it was over. Just two hours remained to me to spend here.
Maharaji’s intense, beautiful Darshan, doubtless the last I’ll have for some time, reminded me of something one of the foreign guests said here. I believe his name is Mr. Busa. He is sixty-seven, I think, and from Holland. He was initiated about four years ago with his wife. Very soon afterward he and his wife came to Gagan, met Maharaji there, and went to His association meetings. Mr. Busa's wife died two years later. He said that, during that whole time before her death, she was able to remember Maharaji’s Darshan well enough to do Dyan with her mantra repetition. After she had passed on, Mr. Busa received a nice letter from Maharaji, in which He said not to worry now about his wife, that she was in a much better place.
4:30 PM - My short, month-long parole has ended. Swiftly and with great courtesy the jailers have come for me and whisked me away via Indian Airlines from Amritsar to the first cell I shall have after my return to this prison of Pinda (the earth plain). But it is a most temporary accommodation, here at my hotel in New Delhi, before further jailers, in the guise of British Airways, shall, in efficient, business-like fashion, usher me on to my familiar cell-block in the United States of America, where apparently I am now destined to live out the rest of a fairly long sentence before my final release.
My Parole Officer, Maharaj Dayal Nam Ji, sent two of His trusty assistants to see me safely from the freedom of the Gagan colony into the custody of my jailers at the Amritsar Airport. On the way, in the large, nine-passenger Gagan jeep, just past the Beas Railway Station, the three of us who were being deported together caught our last dim glimpse of Gagan's most beautiful symbol of lost freedom, the spires of the lovely, marble association hall, pointing heavenward, to regions of true freedom now almost totally inaccessible to us.
Although my Parole Officer promised to make all possible efforts on my behalf, toward securing my early and permanent release from this new extension of custody, He advised me that, for my part, I had best simply adjust myself to my circumstances, perform whatever duties are given me by the jailers, guards, and trustees, and so remain on best possible terms with them, with some hope of getting out on good behavior.
In the meanwhile, He has given me some few little tasks, to develop my mind, to keep it occupied there, to earn a little spending money on the side for when I may eventually get out, and also perhaps not have this time go a total waste. Further, by this means I may perchance even finally pay off all the debts I had incurred and develop sufficient means of looking after myself in the future that I shall not only clear the old account, for which I was forced to go to this place again this time, but also assure that I never need return in the future. I like my Parole Officer. He seems the first true Friend I have had in a very long while. But now, returning to the dungeon of “the world,” I am very sad.
[POSTSCRIPT (1/15/02): This concludes the initial version of the journal, "Small Myths, Small Dreams, Small Steps." It is now, in a sense, a "ghost story." Many of the principals, including the Master, Maharaj Dayal Nam Ji, my brother, Ralph, my dad, Aaron, Ralph's friend, Luke, my close (and sometimes psychic) initiate friend from Petersburg, VA, Esther, and several more mentioned in these pages, both in the USA and in India, are now deceased. And I am, in several ways, in a rather different place. The record of the events, thoughts, feelings, and situations that formed the context for the changes I would go through in the decades since 1975 continues with the subsequent versions of this journal, including "Broken Branch, Fallen Leaf, Rippled Water," a diary written during the years 1976 through the first part of 1985 (now gradually being proofread and uploaded online), "Steps (pre-retirement years)," and the current diary, "Dove Feathers and Dog Hair," covering my wife's and my retirement period in Austin, Texas. A further intermediate version of "Steps," covering 1985 to 1999, has been written and will be added later.]