This or stare without moving an eyelash was the method of Meher Baba. For years together he was staring just at the ceiling of his room. For years together he was just lying dead on the floor, staring at the ceiling without moving an eyelash, without moving his eyes. He would lie down for hours together, just staring, not doing anything.
Staring with the eyes is good, because you become fixed again in the third eye. And once you are fixed in the third eye, even if you want to move the eyelids you cannot; they become fixed.
Meher Baba attained through this staring, and you say, “How with these small exercises…?” But for three years he was staring at the ceiling not doing anything. Three years is a long time. Do it for three minutes and you will feel as if you have been lying there for three years. Three minutes will become very, very long. It will look as if time is not passing and as if the clock has stopped.
Meher Baba stared and stared and stared. By and by thoughts ceased, movement ceased, and he became just a consciousness, he became just a staring. Then he remained silent for his whole life. He became so silent inside by this staring that it became impossible for him to formulate words again.
Meher Baba was in America. There was one man who could read others’ thoughts, who could do mind readings, and he was really one of the rarest mind readers. He would close his eyes, sit before you, and within a few minutes he would become attuned with you and he would begin to write what you are thinking. Thousands and thousands of times he was examined, and he was always right, always correct. So someone brought him to Meher Baba. He sat there, and this was the only failure of his life – the only failure. But then again we cannot say it was a failure. He tried and tried, and he began to perspire, but he couldn’t catch a single word.
Pen in his hand, he remained there and said, “What type of man is this? I cannot read because there is nothing to read. This man is absolutely vacant. I even forget that someone is sitting there. After closing my eyes, I have to open them again and look to see whether that man is there or whether he has escaped. So it is difficult to concentrate, because the moment I close my eyes I feel I am being deceived – as if that man has escaped and there is no one before me. I have to open my eyes again, and I find that this man is there. And he is not thinking at all.” That staring, that constant staring had stopped his mind completely.
In the pre-human stage consciousness has experiences, but these experiences are not explicitly brought into relation with a central “I.” For example, a dog may get angry, but it does not continue to feel “I am angry.” Even in this case we find that the dog learns through some experiences and thus bases the action of one experience on another; but this action is a result of a semi-mechanical tension of connected imprints, or sanskaras. It is different from the intelligent synthesis of experiences that the development of “I’‘-consciousness makes possible. The first step in submitting the working of isolated impressions to intelligent regulation consists in bringing them all into relation with the center of consciousness, which appears as the explicit limited ego. The consolidation of ego-consciousness is most clear and defined from the beginning of human consciousness.
Formation of ego
Human consciousness would be nothing more than a repository for the accumulated imprints of varied experiences if it did not also contain the principle of ego-centered integration, which expresses itself in the attempt to organize and understand experience. The process of understanding experience implies the capacity to hold different bits of experiences together as parts of a unity and the capacity to evaluate them by their being brought into mutual relationships. The integration of the opposites of experience is a condition of emancipating consciousness from the thralldom of diverse compulsions and repulsions, which tend to dominate consciousness irrespective of valuation. The early attempts to secure such integration are made through the formation of the ego as its base and center.
Ego arises to fulfill need
The ego emerges as an explicit and unfailing accompaniment to all the happenings of mental life in order to fulfill a certain need. The part played by the ego in human life may be compared to the function of ballast in a ship. The ballast in a ship keeps it from oscillating too much. Without it the ship is likely to be too light and unsteady and is in danger of being overturned by the lawless winds and waves. Thus mental energy would be caught up endlessly in the multitudinous mazes of dual experience and would all be wasted and dissipated if there were no provisional nucleus. The ego takes stock of all acquired experience and binds together the active tendencies born of the relatively independent and loose instincts inherited from animal consciousness. The formation of the ego serves the purpose of giving a certain amount of stability to conscious processes and also secures a working equilibrium, which makes for a planned and organized life.
It would be a mistake, therefore, to imagine that the arising of the ego is without any purpose. Though it arises only to vanish in the end, it does temporarily fulfill a need that could not have been ignored in the long journey of the soul. The ego is not meant to be a permanent handicap, since it can be transcended and outgrown through spiritual endeavor. But the phase of ego formation must nevertheless be looked upon as a necessary evil, which has to come into existence for the time being.
Ego creates divisions and separation
The ego thus marks and fulfills a certain necessity in the further progress of consciousness. However, since the ego takes shelter in the false idea of being the body, it is a source of much illusion, which vitiates experience. It is of the essence of the ego that it should feel separate from the rest of life by contrasting itself with other forms of life. Thus, though inwardly trying to complete and integrate individual experience, the ego also creates an artificial division between external and internal life in the very attempt to feel and secure its own existence. This division in the totality of life cannot but have its reverberations in the inner individual life over which the ego presides as a guiding genius.
Ego becomes source of conflicts
While always striving to establish unity and integration in experience, the ego can never realize this objective. Though it establishes a certain kind of balance, this balance is only provisional and temporary. The incompleteness of its attainments is evident from the internal conflict that is never absent as long as experience is being faced from the point of view of the ego. From moment to moment the mind of man is passing through a series of conflicts. The minds of great and distinguished persons as well as the minds of common people are seen to be harassed by conflicting desires and tendencies. Sometimes the conflict the mind is faced with is so acute that the person concerned yields to the pressures, and there is either a partial or total derangement of the mind. There is really no vital difference between the normal and the so-called abnormal individual. Both have to face the same problems; but the one can more or less successfully solve his problems, and the other cannot solve them.
The ego attempts to solve its inner conflicts through false valuations and wrong choices. It is characteristic of the ego that it takes all that is unimportant as important and all that is important as unimportant. Thus, although power, fame, wealth, ability, and other worldly attainments and accomplishments are really unimportant, the ego takes delight in these possessions and clings to them as “mine.” On the other hand, true spirituality is all-important for the soul, but the ego looks upon it as unimportant.
For example, if a person experiences some bodily or mental discomfort while doing work of spiritual importance, the ego steps in to secure the unimportant bodily or mental comfort, even at the cost of giving up the really important spiritual work. Bodily and mental comfort, as well as other worldly attainments and accomplishments, are often necessary; but they are not therefore important. There is a world of difference between necessity and importance. Many things come to the ego as being necessary, but they are not in themselves important. Spirituality, which comes to the ego as being unnecessary, is really important for the soul. The ego thus represents a deep and fundamental principle of ignorance, which is exhibited in always preferring the unimportant to the important.
Conflicts solved through true valuation
The mind rarely functions harmoniously because it is mostly guided and governed by forces in the subconscious. Few persons take the trouble to attain mastery over these hidden forces that direct the course of mental life. The elimination of conflict is possible only through conscious control over the forces in the subconscious. This control can be permanently attained only through the repeated exercise of true valuation in all the cases of conflict presented to the mind.
Need for intelligent and firm choices
If the mind is to be freed from conflict, it must always make the right choice and must unfailingly prefer the truly important to the unimportant. The choice has to be both intelligent and firm in all cases of conflict-important as well as unimportant. It has to be intelligent because only through the pursuit of true and permanent values is it possible to attain a poise that is not detrimental to the dynamic and creative flow of mental life. An unintelligent choice, if it is firm, may temporarily overcome conflict; but it is bound in the long run to curtail the scope of life or to hamper the fulfillment of the whole personality. Moreover, the conflict will surely reappear in some other form if it has not been intelligently solved. An intelligent solution, on the other hand, requires an insight into true values, which have to be disentangled from false values. The problem of the conflict of desires thus turns out to be the problem of conflicting values, and the solution of mental conflict therefore requires a deep search for the real meaning of life. It is only through wisdom that the mind can be freed from conflict.
Fidelity to right choice
Having once known what the right choice is, the next step is to stick to it firmly. Although the competing tendencies in the mind may be quieted by choosing one particular course in preference to other alternatives, they still continue to act as obstacles in making the choice fully effective and operative. At times there is a danger of a decision being subverted through the intensification of those competing forces in the subconscious. To avoid defeat, the mind must stick tenaciously to the right values it has perceived. Thus the solution of mental conflict requires not only perception of right values but also an unswerving fidelity to them.
True values must govern all matters
An intelligent and firm choice, however, has to be repeatedly exercised in all matters-small or great, for the ordinary worries of life are not in any way less important than the serious problems with which the mind is confronted in times of crisis. The roots of mental conflict cannot completely disappear as long as there is only intermittent exercise of intelligent and firm choice. The life of true values can be spontaneous only when the mind has developed the unbroken habit of choosing the right values. Three-quarters of our life is made up of ordinary things; and though conflict concerning ordinary things may not cause much mental agony, it still leaves in the mind a sense of uneasiness that something is wrong. The conflicts that turn upon ordinary things are rarely even brought to the surface of consciousness. Instead they cast a shadow on one’s general feeling about life as if from behind a screen. Such conflicts have to be brought to the surface of consciousness and frankly faced before they can be adequately solved.
The process of bringing conflict to the surface of consciousness should not degenerate, however, into a process of imagining conflict where there is none. The sure sign of a real hidden conflict is the sense that the whole of one’s heart is not in the thought or action that happens to be dominant at the moment. There is a vague feeling of a narrowing down or a radical restriction of life. On such occasions an attempt should be made to analyze one’s mental state through deep introspection, for such analysis brings to light the hidden conflicts concerning the matter.
Longing for ideal as motive power
When the conflicts are thus brought to light it is possible to resolve them through intelligent and firm choices. The most important requirement for the satisfactory resolution of conflict is motive power or inspiration, which can only come from a burning longing for some comprehensive ideal. Analysis in itself may aid choice, but the choice will remain a barren and ineffective intellectual preference unless it is vitalized by zeal for some ideal appealing to the deepest and most significant strata of human personality. Modern psychology has done much to reveal the sources of conflict, but it has yet to discover methods of awakening inspiration or supplying the mind with something that makes life worth living. This indeed is the creative task facing the saviors of humanity.
Disintegration of ego ends in realizing Truth
The establishment of a true ideal is the beginning of right valuation. Right valuation in turn is the undoing of the constructions of the ego, which thrives on false valuation. Any action that expresses the true values of life contributes toward the disintegration of the ego, which is a product of ages of ignorant action. Life cannot be permanently imprisoned within the cage of the ego. It must at some time strive toward the Truth. In the ripeness of evolution comes the momentous discovery that life cannot be understood and lived fully as long as it is made to move around the pivot of the ego. Man is then driven by the logic of his own experience to find the true center of experience and reorganize his life in the Truth. This entails the wearing out of the ego and its replacement by Truth-consciousness. The disintegration of the ego culminates in realizing the Truth. The false nucleus of consolidated sanskaras must disappear if there is to be a true integration and fulfillment of life.
With growing desirelessness, sometimes the person becomes outwardly inactive. Is it lethargy and dullness? Why does it happen?
Many things are possible, and it will depend. Certainly many desires will drop and many actions also. Those actions which were just caused by desires will drop. If I was running for a particular desire, how can I run if the desire has dropped? My running will stop. At least the same running on the same route will stop. So when a person becomes desireless, at least for an interim period, for an interval – and how long it will be will depend on the individual – he will become inactive. The desires will have dropped – and all the actions that he had been doing were concerned with desires, so how can he continue? They will drop.
But by dropping desires and actions, energy will be accumulated – and now energy will begin to move. When it moves, how it moves will vary from individual to individual, but now it will move. There will be a gap, an interim period, an interval. This I call a pregnancy period. The seed is born, but now it will gestate for at least nine months. And it may seem strange, but it happens. This nine months period is meaningful. Near about this, eight months or ten months, will be the interim period, and you will just become inactive. This inactivity will also vary. Someone may become so inactive that people may think that he has just gone into a coma. Everything stops.
For Meher Baba it happened like that. For one year he was just in a coma. He couldn’t even move his limbs. Action was far off; he couldn’t stand up because even the desire to stand had gone. He couldn’t eat; he had to be forced. He couldn’t do anything! For one year continuously he became just helpless – a helpless child. This was a pregnancy period, and then, suddenly, a different man was born. The man who became inactive was no more: a new energy – energy accumulated.
Lives and lives of dissipated energy create this gap – because you do not have enough energy. When desire is not there to invoke, provoke, stimulate, you just drop. Your energy is not really energy, but just a pushing and pulling. Anyhow you go on running because the goal seems just nearby. A few moments’ endeavour more and you will reach! You pull yourself on; somehow you carry yourself and run. But when the goal is dropped, when there is no desire, you will drop. An inactivity will be there. If you can be patient in this inactivity period, after it you will be reborn. Then energy will begin to move without desires.
But I say it depends. It may happen suddenly as it happened for Meher Baba: that was a sudden case. It happened in Bombay. It happened by a kiss from an old lady, Babajan. Meher Baba was just passing, coming back from his school. Babajan was an old Sufi mystic, an old lady who was just sitting under a tree for years and years and years. Meher Baba was just coming, and Babajan called him. He knew this old lady. She was sitting for years under the tree, and he had passed by that street daily on his way towards his school and towards his home. She called and he came near. She kissed him – and he dropped as if dead just there. Then he had to be carried home.
For one year continuously the kiss remained on him and he was in a coma. It may happen suddenly like this. Mm? This was a great transfer, and Babajan died afterwards because she had just been waiting for this moment to give someone the whole energy. This was her last life, and there was not enough time even to explain what she was giving. And also, she was not the type to have explained. She was a silent mystic. She had not touched anybody for years. She was a only waiting for this moment when she was to kiss someone and the whole energy was to be transferred in a single transfer. Before this she had not even touched anyone, so this touch was to be total.
And this child was simply unaware of what was going to happen. He was ready – otherwise this transfer would not have been possible – but he was not aware. He had worked through his past lives. He was just coming up. He might have become aware later on, but just now he was completely unaware. This happened so suddenly that he had to go again through a second pregnancy. For one year he was as if not. Many medicines were given; many, many doctors and physicians tried to help, but nothing could be done. And the woman who could do something, she disappeared, she died. After one year he was a different man – totally different.
If it happens so suddenly, then it will be a deep coma. If it happens through some exercises, then it will never be so deep a coma. If you are doing awareness exercises, meditation, then it will never happen so suddenly. It will come so gradually, so gradually, that you will never even become aware of when it has happened. By and by, inactivity will be there, activity will be there, and very gradually inside everything will have changed. And the desire will drop, the activity will drop, but no one will ever feel that you have been lethargic or that you have become inactive.
This is the gradual process. So those who follow yoga or any method will not feel the suddenness. There are also methods in which sudden happenings become possible, but one can be prepared. Babajan never prepared this boy; she never even asked his permission. It was a one-way affair. She just transferred the energy.
Zen monks also transfer, but before transferring they prepare the ground. A person can be made ready to receive the energy, then this reaction will not be there. He may feel lethargy for some days, for some months, but no one will feel outside that inside everything has become inactive. But that needs preparation, and that can happen only in schools. And when I say “school”, I mean a group working.
Babajan was alone; she never made anyone her disciple. There was no school; there was not a following in which she could have prepared anyone. And, also, she was not the type. She was not the teacher type; she couldn’t teach. But she had to give to someone, to whomsoever passed and she felt: “Now is the moment, and this one will be able to carry it,” so she could just deliver it.
So it depends. Inactivity is bound to be there – more or less, but it will be there, a period will be there. And only then can you be reborn, because the whole mechanism has to change completely. The mind drops, old roots drop, the old habits drop, the old association of consciousness and desires, consciousness and mind, drops – everything old drops and everything has to be new.
A waiting is needed, patience is needed. And if one is patient, one has not to do anything: just to wait is enough. The energy begins to move by itself. You just sow the seed and then wait! Don’t be in a hurry; don’t go every day to pull the seed out and see what is happening. Just put it inside and wait. The energy will take its own course. The seed will die, and the energy will sprout and will begin to move. But don’t be impatient. One has to wait.
And the greater the seed, and the greater the possibility, the potentiality of the tree that is going to be, the more will be the waiting. But it comes. It comes! The deeper the waiting, the sooner it comes.
My observation has been this: that Krishnamurti is surrounded by the most egoistic people of this world, and the reason is because there is a safe place – no need to surrender, no need to drop your ego, no need to follow anybody. Your ego feels very strengthened and your ego feels that many rationalisations are given to you. So you protect yourself with those rationalisations.
His compassion is infinite, but it has not worked. My feeling is that if a person is egoless no guru is needed. But this is the paradox of life that the only people who become interested in the teaching that ’no guru is needed’ are the egoists. If a person is an egoist, then the guru is a must. But the egoists never come to a person to surrender. This is the problem, the dilemma. The egoist becomes interested in the teaching of Krishnamurti and the non-egoist becomes interested in the teaching of Meher Baba.
For the non-egoist there is no need for the guru because the whole need consists in cancelling your ego – the guru is nothing but a cancellation of your ego. You surrender unto somebody’s feet and you say ’Now I will listen to you and I will not listen to myself. Now my will is surrendered and your will will be my will. Now even if you tell me to jump into the abyss I will jump without thinking about it. Now I am no more the controller of my life. You will control.’ This is a way, just a way, to drop the ego. If the ego is there, then a guru is a must, because the guru is just a device. If the ego is not there, then the guru is not needed at all. When you are ill, the medicine is needed. When you are not ill, the medicine is not needed at all.
Krishnamurti is talking to ill people and telling them that the medicine is not needed. And only those people who are afraid of taking the medicine come to him, and they are the people who are most in need of medicine. If the people who surrounded Meher Baba were with Krishnamurti there would be no trouble – much would happen. But they never go to Krishnamurti, they go to Meher Baba. They are egoless people, they can surrender. And the people who are surrounding Krishnamurti, had they gone to Meher Baba would have been tremendously benefited… but they never go. This is how life is – a dilemma: the ill avoid the doctor and the healthy go to the doctor.
Excerpt from Tao: The Pathless Path, V.1, Chapter 12, Q4
The following is an excerpt from Meher Baba’s Discourse on Manonash
Mind is never transformed. Ego is transformed once only. “Ego” means Astitva, which means your very Being as the Real “I.” The transformation should clearly be understood.
Today you feel that you are a man. Tomorrow you die and then your mental impressions give you the feeling that you are a woman. All this is false. Mind’s attitude is changed according to circumstances, but mind remains mind, whether it is lifted up or goes down. Mind can be happy, and it can be miserable. It is the attitude of the mind which thus changes. Mind creates worlds, delusions, illusions, ad infinitum – but mind remains as mind.
Mind cannot be transformed. Why? Because it is not One itself. Mind survives by desires and thoughts, and it is made up of impressions. Ego is One in itself, but this Real Ego – the Real “I” – is now bound by the mind. And this mind which is made up of false impressions makes the Real “I” think itself false. Mind makes you think of birth, death, happiness, misery, et cetera, as real things, but nothing can be more false than this. You are now here, alive in the body, in your senses, and why? Because you always were.
Have you any impression of how you were born and how your birth took place? No. Because you were not born at all! Mind gives you this impression that you are here, there, and so forth. It is the mind which gives you the impression according to which you say: “She is my wife,” or “He is my husband,” and so forth.
Mind always keeps you hopping at a tap dance! If you knew that your wife, children, et cetera, are One, and if you knew that you never die, never suffer, you are then All in all. But the mind is there to baffle you!
Mind says: “Beware, she is your wife; they are your children; these are your things,” ad infinitum. Mind creates such types of impressions.
Therefore mind, which is made up of false impressions, makes the Real “I” think itself false. To think I am the body, I am young, old, I am a man, a woman, I am this or that – are all impressions created by the mind. It never makes itself feel “I am God.” Mind might make you say “I am God,” but it cannot make you feel “I am God.
So long as mind is there, ego cannot be transformed from its false attitude to its real state. Mind thus also makes you say that you are infinite, all-powerful, and so forth, but you do not feel it. Why? Because mind, which is made up of false impressions, makes you feel the “I” as small, limited I.
Now what has happened? If the false ego is to have its real, original state, the mind must go. As long as the mind is there, although its outlook is changed, the real “I-am-God” state cannot be experienced.
In sound sleep, mind has temporarily gone. Ego is there, and the impressions again make the mind wake up, and mind again makes the ego feel false. And so, in innumerable lives and forms, the ego is there. The mind is there, but the mind’s impressions change and so, accordingly, body changes – and also accordingly, experience changes. Therefore, for the false “I” to become Real “I” the mind must go.
The real goal of life is not death of the ego, but of the mind! Therefore when Muhammad or Zarathustra or Jesus talked of being born once or dying once, they meant the death of the mind. Mind is born from the very beginning, even before the stone state. This birth is once, and also the death of the mind takes place only once.
When the mind dies, the false ego is transformed into Reality. Real Ego is never born and never dies. Ego is always real but due to the mind, it feels and acts as limited and false “I.”
Now mind goes on taking bodies according to its good and bad impressions. This taking and leaving the body is not the death either of the mind or the ego. After physical death the mind remains with its impressions. It is the impressions which make the mind take bodies, in order that the impressions might be wiped out. Consequently, the mind takes bodies according to the impressions, and the ego witnesses this. When one body is discarded, another comes up and forms, though there is a certain amount of time lag between the giving up of one body and taking up another.
This jadu (magical spell) of sanskaras has bound you so tight that the more you try to come out, the more you get bound. Because mind has to be destroyed from its root, and who is to destroy it? Mind has to destroy itself. That is an impossible task. The very process of destroying itself creates impressions of trying to destroy it, and so one gets more bound.
As Hafiz has said:
“You yourself are the veil, O Hafiz!
And so remove your self!”
Now, how to remove you self? The very process of removing creates fresh sanskaras.
Thousands have thought of destroying the mind – the main methods being those of action, meditation, knowledge and LOVE. These ways have been chalked out by the Perfect Masters for the purpose of destroying the mind while remaining consciousness.
Now, the path of Action (Karma Yoga), which is meant for this goal of Manonash, which transforms the false “I” into the Real “I,” has to be considered – because the main activity of mind through the body is of actions. The Perfect Masters saw that actions which have false ego and an impression-filled mind as its background, instead of destroying the mind, feed it. They saw that everyone has to do actions. Even the laziest of men has to do actions, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, et cetera. Therefore, the Masters thought of “actionless actions.” That means to do actions, but to do them in such a way that the effect is as if no action was done. If this is done, the past impressions of actions get spent up mentally by experiences of happiness or misery, but no new impressions are created.
Suppose you do an action of helping someone without any thought of self-interest, and while doing so, you are beaten, and the police, on the other hand, arrest you and put you in jail. These happenings spend up some of your old sanskaras, but since you had no self-interest, no fresh sanskaras are formed. This process, however, is so long and complicated that one can attain Manonash through action only after yugas (cycles of time).
So, Perfect Masters wanted actions to kill actions; that is, actions done in such a way that the effect of the impressions becomes impotent – hence no result, no binding. For example, a scorpion by nature wags its tail and stings anyone who comes near it. Now, suppose the scorpion’s dangerous stinger is broken and removed. The scorpion goes on wagging its tail and continues to behave as before. But the action is rendered impotent in the matter of its dangerous results; that is, the bad effect of actions is remove. If actions have to be without binding, the effect leading to the binding has to be eliminated.
The world and its activities are really speaking worthless. Actions continue, whether they are good or bad, and therefore the Perfect Masters said: “Act in such a way that the actions do not bind you and impressions are not created.” This is almost an impossible task, as about to be explained. There are three ways by which actions can be done without creating impressions and the consequent bindings: First: To act, but having absolutely no thought that you are acting. This must be a continuous process. That means that the ego does not give even one moment to the mind to exert its influence. In fact, you act for others, and not for yourself. This selfless action, which is also called selfless service, is also almost impossible because the moment you think: “I am serving others, I must help, I must uplift a certain cause,” you are caught. And for leaders it is very risky, unless this thought about themselves is given up one hundred percent continuously.
This point may be explained further. If a leader asks others to sacrifice everything for some cause with the best of motives and with no self-interest, but fails to do so himself continuously one hundred percent, without any thought of self, then the result is disastrous. All the sanskaras of the whole group fall on him, and even his followers are caught in the impressions, even though they might have acted with the best of intentions. A similar disaster occurs in the case of a guru and disciple if there is any thought of self on either side. Even pity for others should not be there. In short, when action has to be effectless, then it must be done without self-interest, which is almost impossible.
The second way is that whatever you do, good or bad, you dedicate it to God, or your Master. This is also almost impossible, because the dedication has to be continuous, without a moment’s break. If you are able to do so, then the impressions are not created by actions. But if there is a break, even once, the reaction is disastrous, and all the sanskaras gather on you.
The third way is to do whatever you are asked to do by One who is free from impressions and whose mind is destroyed. Such actions do not bind you. This too is most difficult. You must have one hundred percent unflinching faith in the Master; even a moment’s doubt is fatal. Krishna had to convince Arjuna that he was in every being, and that none died – all were dead already. Then, what Arjuna did was “action without action.”
These three ways are thus almost impossible to attain. So how should one act? To be involved in mere “sansar” (worldly matters) with your wife, children, business, et cetera, and to act, results in getting bound with hooks of iron. But submissive, weak and loose impressions are created by actions which are done without self-interest, even if at times thoughts of helping or pitying others come into the mind, as mentioned. Mind’s part is to make the ego, through the body, feel false and to experience the sanskaras. But when the mind sees that the false ego is not so ready to accept its dictatorship, then the impressions formed by actions of this type are weak. Such actions are therefore eventually of help toward attaining Manonash.
Some Perfect Masters chalked out ways of destroying the mind through mind itself – through meditation and concentration. When mind becomes concentrated, its further function is weakened, and the impressions wipe out themselves, because impressions are like worms and exhaust themselves. But this process of meditation and concentration makes Manonash almost impossible because mind has its habit of getting impressions spent. When the mind feels frustrated, it gets more desperate. The moment you sit for meditation, sometimes thoughts which you never did think before come to you, and eventually one of the following three things happens:
1st: You get fed up because you cannot concentrate; or 2nd: You get sleepy or dreamy; or 3rd: More bad thoughts enter your mind, and you have to give up your attempts. But if you have a brave heart and patiently persist, then, in a very few cases, the mind is temporarily stilled. Now, this results in one of two things: one either enters into a trance or samadhi. This trance (hal) and samadhi are not Manonash. Samadhi becomes a profession, in some cases; and trance becomes like a dope – one gets addicted to it. One enjoys the trance, but it is temporary. There have been cases of those going into samadhi and, while coming down to normal consciousness, their first thought is the same thought which they had while going into samadhi. Thus, if they had thought of money before entering into samadhi, they get the same thought of money while coming out of it.
Some Perfect Masters thought that the best way was to forget oneself and to give the mind no chance of having new impressions. The question is one of how to forget oneself. The answer is: through Devotion (Bhakti Yoga). When one is devoted one hundred percent, then one forgets oneself. But this is also practically impossible, because such devotion and forgetfulness have to be continuous.
Hafiz has said:
“If you want the presence of the Beloved,
do not absent yourself from the memory of the Beloved.”
You must not be, even for one moment, without this devotion, without this self-forgetfulness, which is almost an impossibility. This is the path of Devotion, or Bhakti Marg. Therefore, one Perfect Master has said: “One moment with the Master is better than one hundred years of sincere piety.”
Some Perfect Masters thought that the mind must be diverted if it is to be killed. Mind makes the ego say: “I am body.” Therefore, make the mind say: “I am not the body, I am not this, I am not that, I am God!” Now, this too is almost impossible, because mind has false impressions, and to make this false mind say what it feels to be false is like a hypocritical act. Thus, for example, the mind knows that it is “Mr. So-and-so.” Now, if this person’s mind says: “I am not a human being, but I am God,” then, at that very moment, the mind feels that it is lying. The result is that this tires out the heart, emotions and any love. The mind cannot do actionless actions since it says: “I am God. What have I to act for?” Mind cannot forget itself in devotion because it says: “I am God. To whom to pray?”
So, Manonash is impossible. But if selfless action, even if not perfect, is persistently done, a stage is reached when mind is permanently at peace. It sees God, but it is not yet destroyed. If through bhakti yoga a stage of devotion is reached by which constant devotion is attained, then this peace of mind and seeing of God comes. So, if one says: “I am God; I am not the body,” and persists in this saying with one hundred percent faithfulness at the cost of everything, then this peace of mind is achieved. But for Manonash there is always one thing. One who is free can uproot the minds of others, even of the masses. Even the past Prophets and Avatars had to have the help and grace of the Perfect Ones in order to achieve the annihilation of their minds.
In short, there are all these ways to attain Manonash and to make you feel that you are God, Infinite, Eternal. But it is rightly said that:
“When you cannot step out of your nature,
how can you aspire to enter the threshold of the Beloved?”
Following different paths, different people encounter different difficulties. Some who do not know the technique of meditation become mad. Some say that they should not see even a woman. They get so nervous about sex.
The fact is that we are God, but we are misled by this shameless mind. The mind is so shameless that the more you wish to get rid of it, the more you become entangled in it – just as when you try to take out one foot from the mud, your other foot gets more deeply stuck. All the same, you have to get rid of this trouble.
Manonash is real samadhi (bliss) for the mind. Mind is uprooted and then its death occurs and the ego immediately feels: “I am everything, and have no concern with the body.” At that moment, either the shock is too strong and the body falls, or the momentum keeps the body for some time, and then it falls, as in the case of the majzoobs.
Real Ego is the Goal. Some who reach the Manonash stage and have to perform certain duties continue to remain in their body with an impressionless mind to help others in seeing themselves in everyone.
Call it “Impressionless Mind,” call it “Real I,” call it “Transformed Ego,” or call it “Real Mind” – it is One and the same Infinite Truth, beginningless and endless. You are All in all. All that you need is emancipation from all that is false which has fallen to your lot.
Excerpt from Meher Baba’s Discourse on Manonash
Published in Lord Meher, the 20-volume biography of Avatar Meher Baba.
The story of Hazrat Babajan as related in Lord Meher by Bhau Kalchari
“It is I who have created all! I am the source of everything in creation.” Upon hearing these ecstatic declarations, an angry mob of fanatic Baluchi soldiers buried the old woman alive. Over ten years later, when some of these same soldiers happened to be in Poona, to their utter amazement they saw the same old woman, Hazrat Babajan, giving her blessing to a group of devotees. Realizing their terrible mistake, the soldiers approached Babajan and begged for her forgiveness, placing their heads at her feet in reverence.
Babajan’s nature was regal. It angered her if anyone addressed her as “Mother.” The old woman would vehemently protest, “Do not call me ‘Mother,’ you fool. I am not a woman, I am a man!” For after attaining the highest spiritual state possible for a human being, the state of a Qutub, or a Perfect Master, Prakruti became subservient to her. Thus this woman, known as Hazrat Babajan, became a Perfect Man.
HAZRAT BABAJAN’S given name was Gool Rukh. The girl was born to a royal Muslim family of Baluchistan in northern India between 1790 and 1800. The girl’s name truly befitted her; Gool Rukh means “like a rose” or “with cheeks like roses.” Her physical appearance was beautiful, and her inner spirit was like a rose whose fragrance and beauty never faded. Gool Rukh retained this delicate beauty throughout her life, and as Babajan, people were attracted to her wherever she went.
Gool Rukh was raised as a rich, noble princess; no material expense was spared in giving her the training and education appropriate to her royal position. The girl was bright and intelligent, and as a child learned the whole Koran by heart, becoming known as a Hafiz-e-Koran at a young age. She also became fluent in several languages, including Arabic, Persian, Pashtu, Urdu and even English.
Spiritually inclined from childhood, Gool Rukh spent much of her time in solitude reciting the prayers she learned from the Koran, or in silent meditation. When her childhood companions came to her house to play, they were disappointed to find that she preferred a quiet room to their games and they sorely missed her. As the girl grew into a young woman her spiritual inclinations increased, and Gool Rukh spent more and more time alone. Her physical beauty also increased and seeing her was such a pleasure that people remarked that Gool Rukh’s husband
ESCAPE FROM BALUCHISTAN
would be a lucky man indeed. When Gool Rukh matured to a marriageable age, her parents broached the topic, but were astonished at her staunch refusal to marry. For a Pathan princess to remain single was unheard of – especially one as lovely as she was. The young woman’s parents then tried to force her into wedlock, not knowing she had already chosen her Beloved – God Himself. The maiden had fallen in love with the One who had captured her heart long, long ago. No prince or handsome groom could take this One’s place. Gool Rukh’s heart was intoxicated in divine rapture, and she wept in divine love to become united with her Beloved.
As the months passed, her parents became even more insistent and made plans to celebrate her wedding on a certain date to a certain prince. Gool Rukh was informed that she had no choice; all arrangements had been finalized. Although she loved her parents, their plans were unbearable to her. Her longing to find her true Beloved overcame all obstacles and hardships, and she escaped from home and Baluchistan – never to be found by her parents.
Gool Rukh journeyed to the northeast, first to Peshawar and then to Rawalpindi. For a young maiden of eighteen years to run away from home and travel alone across the mountainous regions of India was an incredible undertaking. But Beloved God was watching over her, so on the rough mountain roads she was neither recognized nor captured. While travelling, the young maiden wore the traditional Muslim veil – but how long could her Beloved keep his loved one veiled? The Beloved was starting the necessary preparations to remove the veil of duality and transform her into the All-Existing One.
Gool Rukh’s heart was burning with the fire of divine love, suffering the terrible pangs of separation from God, and the state of fiery restlessness made her oblivious to hunger, thirst and sleep. The young princess had now become homeless in this world. Day and night she roamed the streets of Rawalpindi absorbed in divine madness for Beloved God. A wayfarer now, this constant restlessness was her only rest. Who knows how many lifetimes of severe penance and austerities had created this spiritual longing in her? It is said that she had been the famous Rabia Al-Adawiya of Basra, Iraq, in a previous incarnation – the woman saint who was exceptional in her beauty and grace –
QUTUB MAULA SHAH
but Gool Rukh was destined for that which is greater than sainthood. People saw what appeared to be a madwoman wandering the streets and alleyways, but her only wish was to gaze upon the Beloved’s face and her heart would cry out, “Come my Beloved to meet me! Come soon or I shall die!”
Years passed like this, but Gool Rukh’s tears of longing never stopped; the divine madness had become a divine intoxication which would always give her more tears. It was only after tears had broken her heart that Gool Rukh met a Hindu Sadguru (his name is not recorded) whose destiny was to guide her perfectly. Under this Sadguru’s guidance she climbed a mountain in the wilderness and lived in a secluded cave. For a year and a half she remained in the mountainous regions of what is now Pakistan, undergoing rigorous spiritual austerity.
The Sadguru beckoned her to go. She then left this region and journeyed on foot into the Punjab of India. The flames of separation were now consuming Gool Rukh, and her heart cried out, “Come oh Beloved, come! I am going. I am gone! I cannot wait!” Except for the pink cheeks of rose, the princess was unrecognizable after almost twenty years of austerity. Gool Rukh was thirty-seven years old when she was completely ready to die the final death. Not even a sanskaric speck of worldly attachment was left to prevent her from finally departing. The Beloved, too, was anxiously waiting to embrace her, then to absorb her.
IN MULTAN, she met a Mohammedan Qutub, known as Maula Shah, whose divine grace made Gool Rukh disappear forever, allowing the Beloved to unite with her soul. Gool Rukh died the final spiritual death; she became God-Realized and nothing remained but God. Her soul cried out in all-consuming bliss, “I alone am. There is no one besides me. I am God! – Anal Haq!” The illusion of the universe faded away before her eyes as she became the Creator.
Time, too, disappeared. But Gool Rukh was not destined to escape Prakruti, although she had temporarily lost all consciousness of the universe and herself. In her state of majzoobiyat, she was aware of being God-Conscious, but unconscious of creation and her body and mind. The goal, “Anal Haq!,” had been achieved. But Prakruti knew that this woman, who had become God-Conscious, could not remain in this state of divine absorption indefinitely. This woman, now spiritually perfect, had to know
MECCA & MEDINA
and control illusion as illusion, in order to play the supremely magnificent role for which she alone was destined – to summon the Awakener to earth – to unveil the formlessness of God.
From India, in her God-Realized state, Gool Rukh now in her late thirties, journeyed back to the northern regions, drawn again to Rawalpindi to her previous Hindu Master. The Hindus called her a “Brahmi-bhoot” – she was aware of being God but was unconscious of herself and the external world. The goal had been achieved but the master’s consciousness to lead others to the goal was not perfected in her. In her perfect bliss, she alone existed. Gool Rukh had become perfect, One with God, but had no consciousness of the illusory existence of Prakruti in Infinite Existence. The female majzoob was God-Conscious but felt no sanskaric consciousness with the cosmic illusion. In this state of majzoobiyat, there is no existence of duality or manyness; the divine “I” or “Ego” alone is. Gool Rukh had become a perfect majzoob of the seventh plane – God unto herself. She had no awareness that the whole creation was hidden like a shadow in the light of her Godhood.
After several years, with the help of her Hindu Master, Gool Rukh regained consciousness of the universe, of duality, and was transformed into a Perfect Master. Along with her divine consciousness of the Unlimited Ocean of Reality, she began seeing every drop as a drop and was empowered to turn each into the Ocean Itself.
UPON BECOMING ONE of the five Perfect Masters on earth, she left Rawalpindi and embarked on several long journeys through the Middle Eastern countries– Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and others. It is said that she traveled to Mecca disguised as a man, by way of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and doubling back into Arabia. At the Kaaba in Mecca, she offered the customary Mohammedan prayers five times a day, always sitting at one selected spot. While in Mecca, she would often gather food for the poor, and personally nursed pilgrims who had fallen ill. She also spent long hours gathering fodder for abandoned cattle.
From Mecca, Gool Rukh journeyed to the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad at Medina, where she again adopted the same routine, offering prayers and caring for her fellow pilgrims. Leaving Arabia, she wandered overland to Baghdad, and from Iraq back to the Punjab. In India, she traveled south to Nasik
GOOL RUKH IS MURDERED
and established herself in Panchvati, an area known by Hindus to be sanctified by Lord Ram. To the local people, her spiritual “manliness” was apparent. The power of her glance overshadowed her feminine body and attire. From Nasik, Gool Rukh went further south to Bombay, where she stayed for several months. After finishing her spiritual work there, she returned to the Punjab and spent several years wandering throughout northern India.
During this period, while in Rawalpindi she was in a glorious spiritually intoxicated state of ecstasy and declared in the presence of a group of Mohammedans that she had divine authority. “It is I who created the universe! I am the creator of everything!” Such wild declarations caused a group of Baluchi soldiers to become furious fanatics. The soldiers had no idea that she whom they considered insane was actually conscious of being God. They attacked her and held her by force while some dug a pit. Then they buried her alive.
These soldiers were extremely proud of themselves, for they considered her utterances blasphemy against holy Islam. By killing this madwoman they believed they would be spiritually rewarded; they had safeguarded Islam’s sacred truth. Having saved their Mohammedan religion from her blasphemy, these fanatics left her grave, reveling in their wicked deed. The soldiers had carved a special niche for themselves in Paradise by killing this kafir – infidel or heretic. In spite of being left to die in a nameless grave, Gool Rukh did not die. It is not known how she survived this ordeal, but around 1900 she managed to return safely to Bombay, over a thousand miles south, where she lived on the sidewalk of a street called Chuna Bhatti near Sion, Bombay.
When these same soldiers saw Babajan alive in Poona years later, however, their pride and ill-formed conceptions were completely shattered. Then they understood that it was not Babajan who was the unbeliever, but they themselves. They were overcome with repentance for their horrible deed and fell at her feet seeking forgiveness. Some of these same soldiers became her devotees and served as bodyguards. Gradually, Gool Rukh’s fame spread and many believed her to be a Qutub. The Mohammedans began referring to her as Hazrat, meaning Your Highness, and began worshiping her as a person who was One with God – Babajan.
VOYAGE TO ARABIA
Babajan was seen in Bombay again around 1901. She wandered particularly about the district known as Pydhonie. Occasionally she would meet with the saint Maulana Saheb of Bandra, and with saint Abdul Rehman of Dongri. It was glorious to see how happy the ancient woman was in their company, and she would lovingly address them as her children. These two saints became part of her circle of disciples and later she was to bestow God-Realization upon both of them; in fact, Abdul Rehman became a Qutub by her grace.
IN APRIL 1903, Babajan sailed from Bombay on the ship S.S. Hyderi on her second pilgrimage to Mecca. Although every moment Babajan was absorbed in her blissful state, aboard ship she acted quite normal. She would openly converse with the other passengers, reciting couplets from the Persian poets Hafiz and Rumi and expound in simple terms about the deep mysteries of the Absolute. All were attracted to the old woman, now well over one hundred years old, including the crew, with whom she spoke in English.
One unusual incident occurred during this voyage. It started raining heavily and a terrible storm arose. All were terrified and people panicked, convinced the ship would sink. Babajan appeared on the deck unmindful of the danger. In an unusually loud voice, she shouted to one of the passengers named Nooma Pankhawala, “Wrap a kerchief around your throat to form a bag and approach every passenger – including the children and Europeans – and collect one paisa from each. Then have them beseech God with this prayer, saying, ‘O God! Save our ship from this storm. On reaching Medina, in the name of your Beloved Prophet, we will offer food to the poor.'” Immediately, the man, Nooma, collected one paisa (penny) from each person and all fervently repeated what Babajan had commanded. Gradually the storm subsided and miraculously they escaped what appeared to be certain death.
Upon arriving in Mecca, word of the miraculous rescue spread and a great multitude gathered to be personally blessed by Babajan. At the Kaaba, Babajan assumed the role of an ordinary pilgrim, performing prayers five times a day at the shrine, but after a few days she journeyed north to Medina. There in the name of Muhammad, the Prophet of the All-Merciful, she distributed grain to the poor.
AJMER & POONA
About 1904, Babajan returned to Bombay and soon afterward proceeded to Ajmer in northern India to pay homage at the tomb of the Sufi Qutub-e-Irshad, Mu’inuddin Chishti, who established Islam in India. From Ajmer she returned to Bombay and then soon after traveled east to Poona.
When she first lived in Poona, Babajan would not remain in any fixed place. She would wander in the Cantonment area or roam about the city and frequent even the filthy slums. Although her clothes were ragged and soiled, her beauty and the glow of her face attracted many people to her. She had been a princess; now her true majesty was unmistakable – it was that of an emperor.
After a while, Babajan was never found alone, but always surrounded by a crowd. Her physical needs were practically nil and she seldom ate. She was fond of tea, however, and her followers would bring cup after cup for her, which she would offer as prasad. If someone happened to bring flowers, she would abuse the person for wasting money, criticizing, “Why didn’t you spend your money wisely on something like sweets or tea which all can enjoy? What good are these flowers?”
If Babajan happened to look at someone who was passing by, the person would stand transfixed, gazing at her divine face. Restaurant owners and fruit vendors would beg her to visit, and offer her whatever she wanted. If Babajan happened to comply, they would consider themselves fortunate in God’s eyes.
When Babajan went to the Poona Cantonment area, she frequently visited the house of a Muslim named Shaikh Imam, a watchmaker. Seeing her ragged clothes, the Shaikh’s mother wished to bathe and dress Babajan in new clothes, but she always refused. One day, however, Babajan agreed, and with the utmost difficulty and patience, the Shaikh’s mother gently bathed her old body and attired her in a new clean robe and undergarments especially stitched for her. This was the last bath Babajan was to have for as long as she lived. But despite this, her body was always fragrant. It was free from the impurities of the world, as if it were always bathed in the wine of love that flowed from her intoxicated lips and eyes.
Having no permanent place to stay in Poona, Babajan would rest alongside any street at night. Once she stayed near the Muslim shrine of Wakadia Bagh and from there went to sit for
some time near another Muslim shrine Panch Pir at Dighi. There were many ant colonies near Panch Pir’s shrine, and the ants would swarm over Babajan, biting her and causing large welts on her body, yet she remained quietly seated as if nothing was happening.
One day a man named Kasam V. Rafai went to Dighi, and upon seeing Babajan covered with ants, tears ran down his cheeks. Kasam, with Babajan’s permission, attempted to remove all the ants, but he was not successful. Somehow he persuaded Babajan to come to his house where, with much difficulty, he removed hundreds of the tiny insects – one by one. Throughout this painful ordeal, Babajan barely indicated any discomfort.
After temporarily staying at several different places throughout the city of Poona, Babajan took up residence under a neem tree near Bukhari Shah’s mosque in Rasta Peth. (The mosque was next door to the home of a devotee named Sardar Raste.) Larger crowds began to congregate there and Babajan was hampered by the limited space around her. Her devoted followers implored her to change her seat but Babajan sternly replied, “One devil is here and unless and until I get rid of him, it is not possible for me to move an inch.”
Opposite her chosen site was a large banyan tree and when the municipality chopped down the tree to expand the road, Babajan suddenly decided to move. For two weeks she was seen near a deserted tomb in the Swar Gate locality, and from there she shifted to the area called Char Bawdi, meaning Four Wells, on Malcolm Tank Road, where she sat beneath a neem tree. This spot proved to be her final site, where she remained for many years until the ancient woman discarded her form.
When Babajan first moved to Char Bawdi, there was just a dirt road infested with hordes of mosquitoes; plague germs were even suspected there. During the day the area was desolate and deserted, but at night it sprang to life with thieves and the city’s most dangerous criminals who met there.
In Char Bawdi, Babajan remained seated under the neem tree – a rock of absolute Godhood in the shifting dust of pitiful ignorance moving about her. After months of exposure to nature’s elements, she grudgingly allowed her devotees to build a shelter of gunny sacks above her. Here she stayed throughout all seasons – alleviating humanity’s suffering by allowing anyone
NEEM TREE COURT
to come to her – to sip the wine of her continual presence. Several years later, there was a marvelous change in the locality. Large modern buildings were constructed, tea shops and restaurants appeared and electricity was brought to the homes in the area. Due to the establishment of Babajan’s seat under the neem tree, Four Wells became a charming area in which to live and raise a family.
NO ONE can escape the light of illumination when one nears its source. Even when veiled, one feels the effect of this light; its flame burns away the veil. Such was the light of Babajan – in her and around her. The Court of Babajan was on the street. Qawaalis (Persian and Urdu devotional songs) were sung before her, crowds came and bowed to her as an emperor, the fragrance of flowers wafted on all sides, the sweet burning of incense purified the air. Those who received her darshan and were blessed by her thanked God for their rare good fortune.
On one occasion in 1919, Babajan forewarned the large group gathered around her, “All should leave immediately for your homes. Go!” Her wishes were respected but no one understood why she was so insistent on sending them away. Shortly thereafter, however, a tornado with heavy rains swept through Poona, causing terrible damage throughout the city. Babajan’s devotees begged her to come to their homes for shelter, but she refused to move from under the tree and sent them away. Although she saw to the safety of others, she herself withstood the rigors of the furious storm.
Gradually the ancient woman’s fame spread and Muslims, Hindus and Zoroastrians from different places came for her darshan. Char Bawdi became a holy place of pilgrimage and Babajan poured wine unto the sincere. After meeting the old holy lady, a person’s heart was content and grateful. Day after day the number of devotees increased and Babajan was worshiped and revered by thousands throughout India.
The British military authorities were annoyed at finding the road near Babajan blocked with traffic and surging crowds each day. The authorities were helpless, however, to do anything about it, because they knew that if Babajan was forcibly removed, there would be an uproar which would not easily subside. It became apparent that a strong, permanent shelter needed to be erected for the old woman. Initial funds were provided by the
EMPEROR & FAKIR
British military, but when the new shelter was finished, Babajan obstinately refused to shift, since it had been constructed a few feet away from her original seat. So the structure was extended at additional cost to the city authorities to cover her seat under the neem tree, but again she refused to sit under it. When her devotees pleaded with her, at last she consented, muttering her bitter complaints that it was not quite right.
Babajan’s nature was majestic. She was an emperor in a fakir’s rags. Although between 120 and 130 years old, Babajan’s wrinkled face was still like a blossoming rose, and the expression in her brown-blue eyes would draw anyone to look at her more closely. It is said that her gaze had driven some mad – mad for God! She was somewhat stooped and short in height, but her gait was of one intoxicated. Her skin was white, her wrinkles were deep, as if carved, her crown of soft hair was pure white and curls fell at her shoulders. Her voice was uncommonly sweet and pleasing to the ear. She did not beg, although she lived as a simple fakir; she possessed only what she wore, but her simplicity held invaluable and untold treasure. Seated in the street, she had become like dust; no one knew that she had been raised as a princess and had renounced her royal heritage. Her renunciation showed that by her life of utter purity she had gained priceless divine wealth. Inside her was hidden everything. It was this divine inheritance – Qutubiyat, Perfect Mastery – that she consecrated to the world.
Whether in winter or summer, Babajan would dress in loose white cotton pants with a long white tunic. A shawl always lay across her shoulders, and besides these humble garments, she wore no other protection against the elements. Her head was always bare and her hair was never washed, combed or oiled. When she walked down the streets, her stride was swift like that of a young girl’s. While she listened to devotional music, her body would rock to the rhythm of its melody. Babajan’s physical condition changed frequently. One day she would have a high fever and the next, without taking any medication, she would be fine.
She would address everyone, whether young or old, man or woman, as “child” or “baba.” If any person called her “Mai” (Mother), she would grimace and rebuke them, “I am a man, not a woman.” This strange declaration of hers was faithful to the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said, “A lover of the world
is a woman, a lover of Paradise is a eunuch, and a lover of God is a man.” People would, therefore, affectionately call her “Amma Saheb,” meaning Mother and Sir at the same time.
MIRACLES were associated with Babajan. She was a physician in her own unusual manner. If someone sick approached her for relief, she would utter, “This child is suffering due to pills.” Pills really meant that the person suffered from the sanskaras of his or her actions. Babajan would take hold of the painful part of the person’s body and would mysteriously call to an imaginary soul. She would then shake the afflicted part two or three times and tell the cause – the sanskaras – to go. This method of treatment inevitably cured the sufferer of his or her complaint. One day a Zoroastrian child who had completely lost his sight was brought to Babajan. She took the child in her arms, mumbled some incantation and then blew her breath upon the child’s eyes. Immediately, the child regained his vision and jumped out of her lap joyfully crying, “I can see! I can see!”
Babajan lived as a poor, homeless fakir on the street, but out of reverence, her devotees would bring her expensive cloth or jewelry as gifts. Babajan was indifferent toward such material offerings but thieves would slyly snatch the cloth or jewelry away; some would even steal from her while she watched. Babajan never tried to stop them. Once Babajan was seemingly sleeping under her tree covered by a fine shawl. A thief sneaked up and, seeing the shawl, was tempted to steal it. But as a corner of the shawl was under Babajan’s body, to pull it out was risky. The thief was wondering how to manage it when at that moment Babajan turned over. Taking advantage of her changed position, the thief grabbed the shawl and ran away. In this way Babajan helped the thief, who was never caught, fulfill his desire.
On another occasion, a devotee from Bombay brought Babajan two expensive gold bangles and after bowing to her put them on her wrist. The man told her that through her past blessing some worldly desire of his had been fulfilled, and as a token of appreciation he had brought the bangles for her. The man had no idea of her indifference to them. One night soon after, a robber crept up behind Babajan and roughly forced the bangles off, causing her wrist to bleed. The robber attempted a speedy escape, but people nearby witnessing this incident shouted for help. Hearing their cries, a policeman came and inquired about the uproar.
PERFECT MASTER’S WAYS
But what did Babajan do? The old woman startled the crowd gathered by raising a stick and exclaiming, “Arrest those people who are shouting. It is they who are disturbing me. Take them away.”
Babajan was seldom seen eating. A man was appointed as her mujawar, whose duty it was to look after her personal needs and serve her. He was a good-humored person, and whenever he would ask Babajan to eat, he would jokingly say, “Amma Saheb, the jodna (patch on a cloth) is ready now.” This referred to Babajan’s constant protests that eating was like patching a torn cloth – meaning that ingesting food was similar to patching this cloth of a body to preserve it.
Babajan would constantly mutter seemingly incoherent phrases such as, “Vermin are troubling me incessantly. I brush them away but they gather again.” She would then vigorously brush her body as if removing dust or cobwebs.
Perfect Masters, such as Babajan, have their own inner way of working. For example, one night, in the town of Talegaon about twenty miles from Poona, a play was being staged in a local theater. There was a large crowd and the theater was packed to capacity. Seating was sold out and the management locked the doors to prevent people from entering. During the play a fire broke out and the audience panicked, since the doors were locked. Simultaneously in Poona, Babajan was observed to be behaving quite strangely. She began restlessly pacing back and forth quite excitedly and angrily shouted, “Fire! Fire! The doors are locked and people are going to burn. You damn fire! Extinguish!” The people around her could not understand what was happening. But in Talegaon, as the people there later related, suddenly the doors of the theater flew open and the panicked crowd rushed out, averting a horrible tragedy.
The Perfect Masters’ ways are unique as well as curious; the boundlessness of their spiritual work is outside the limits of rational human understanding. One example of this is the following incident. Although Babajan had an aversion to presents of jewelry, she kept tight, gaudy rings on her fingers which she would never remove. One ring was so tight that her finger began to swell and a deep wound developed. Maggots crawled in and out of the wound. When the worms would fall off, Babajan would pick them up and placing them back on the wound utter, “My children, feed and be at ease.” Naturally, people tried to take her
BABAJAN & TAJUDDIN BABA
to a doctor, but she always refused, not even agreeing to let a doctor come to her to treat the infection, and consequently, gangrene set in, the finger wasted away and fell off. The wound healed on her hand, but seeing her condition, the ancient woman’s devotees would shed tears and she would scold them saying, “Why do you weep? I enjoy the suffering.”
Babajan was generous toward the ailing and destitute. If a hungry man came to her, she would hand him her own food; in winter if a shivering man approached her, she would give her shawl to him. But once an exception was observed in her generosity. It was bitterly cold one night and an old man, shaking pitiably, came to her. He had a severe cold and high fever and prayed to Babajan to cure him by her nazar – gaze. Babajan, however, became furious and angrily snatched away the thin blanket wrapped around his shoulders which was his sole scanty protection against the cold. After this, Babajan ignored him and the old man quietly sat down to spend the bitter night beside her. However, by morning he was feeling unusually strong and looked healthy, and happily left fully recovered.
Babajan would usually speak in Pashtu or Persian and frequently utter the names of the Persian poets Khwaja Shamsuddin Muhammad Hafiz-e Shirazi and Amir Khushru. She would often quote these couplets:
“Despite millions of learned pundits
and thousands of wise men,
Only God understands
His own way of working!”
“Wonderful is Your creation, O God!
Wonderful is Your game!
You poured jasmine oil
on the head of a shrew!”
Sometimes she mentioned different saints or masters and would remark particularly about Tajuddin Baba, “Taj is my Khalifa – Supreme Ruler or Successor… . What Taj gives he gets from me.” On August 17th, 1925, at midnight, Babajan suddenly exclaimed, “My poor fakir Taj has gone.” No one could understand what she meant, but the next morning when the newspapers carried the story of Tajuddin Baba’s demise in Nagpur, people grasped the significance of her utterance.
BABAJAN’S BELOVED SON
IN MAY 1913, her flame also kissed the Light of the Age, Merwan Sheriar Irani (Meher Baba), whom Babajan always called, “My beloved son.” To unveil Merwan was her mission; it was for her “beloved son” that Babajan had traveled to Poona from the Punjab so many years before. Her seat under the neem tree was just a few streets away from his home. Often she would see him pass by, walking with his friends; but she waited many years before she embraced him. People would see her weeping, and when they inquired why, she would reply, “I weep out of love for my son.” This statement was astonishing because it was inconceivable for this old woman fakir to have given birth to a child.
With tears in her intoxicating eyes, she would utter, “One day my son will come… He will come and shake the world!” No one had any idea what her words meant.
Babajan’s physical presence on earth lasted between 130 to 141 years. On September 18th, 1931, one of Babajan’s fingers was operated on at Sassoon Hospital, but afterward the ancient woman did not appear to be recovering, and a few days before she dropped her body, Babajan muttered, “It is time . . . time for me to leave now. The work is over … I must close the shop.”
One of her devotees pleaded, “Do not say such things Babajan. We need you with us.”
With a quizzical gaze she replied in cryptic fashion, “Nobody, nobody wants my wares. Nobody can afford the price. I have turned my goods over to the Proprietor.”
On September 21st, 1931, at 4:27 in the afternoon, Hazrat Babajan dropped her body. People were speechless when they learned that this ancient woman had died. Tears flowed throughout Poona, gloom hung over the city as if clouds had become her shawl. Thousands of people joined the funeral procession for her last journey through the streets of Poona. Babajan was buried under the same neem tree where she sat for so many years and people still come to her tomb every day.
Although Babajan, the Rose Cheeks of Beloved God, is sleeping in her tomb, her devotees and lovers know that she is always awake in their hearts.
O Babajan! Our loving and full-hearted homage to you.
Your kiss awakened the Awakener and gave him bliss.
You unveiled the Formless One.
Hazrat Babajan seated under her Neem Tree in Poona. It is said she threw a stone at the man and hit his camera, breaking its lens, but this photograph still turned out all right.
We hear the term ‘awakening’ thrown about today like a rag doll. And as is the case with almost all spiritual terminology, there seems to be levels and levels of meaning for the word ‘awakening.’ It is important to first recognize that we are not necessarily using a common language. When I see what the word ‘awakening’ is being used to point at, from the plethora of spiritual teachers that exists today, it is evident that it is being used to denote many different things.
And it is not just the spiritual teachers who use ‘awakening’ with different meanings; you can find references from the Enlightened Masters as well. There are times in the many books of Osho where he is referring to ‘awakening’ as the final enlightenment and sometimes he is pointing to a step that precedes enlightenment. I find the same situation in the works of J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi and Meher Baba. Although if one looks carefully at the context in which the words are being used it is not as confusing as it seems.
However, in writing this I am not interested in repeating the words of those remarkable Enlightened Ones, but rather this understanding that I wish to share is one that has been taking shape over the last twenty years and is only now become sufficiently stabilized that I feel willing to express openly.
Before we even begin to look at the different meanings we might ascribe to ‘awakening’ let us first acknowledge that all individuals are moving through their awakening at a different pace. It is clear that we did not all begin at the same point. This is illustrated when we see that a sage like Ramana Maharshi realizes his enlightenment at the age of sixteen seemingly without effort. In contrast is the experience of Nisargadatta Maharaj in whom enlightenment happened much later in life. Some were prepared from their very childhood for such an event and some worked through their own efforts at removing the obstacles to the ‘natural state’. Some of us have lived a life centered in meditation from a young age and some of us have stumbled upon it much later in life perhaps after some major crisis that turned our world upside down. So it is important to understand that just because we have not had a certain understanding does not mean that one of our fellow travelers has not and it is equally important to note that if we have experienced some insight or transformation it is not likely that many will understand what we are talking about.
So let us begin with what each of us (at least anyone who is reading this) has probably experienced. For some of us it might have come like a bolt of lightning, for others it may have always been intuited as truth. And that is that life, the world, is very much different than what we were conditioned to believe. Many may describe this realization as an awakening and indeed it is. This awakening would demark the beginning of the journey. It would denote a tremendously important change of direction and priorities in one’s life.
Having changed direction in life, we embark on searching out information, knowledge, understanding and perhaps a teacher to help guide us along the way. We may be fortunate and come across that guide early on or for some it may take many years. And some may not find the guide in whom trust is a natural and spontaneous flowering and so may just wander from teacher to teacher. Regardless even without a guide, and certainly with, it is possible after introduction to meditation, after reading the words of those who have known the greatest mystery, after the necessary inner work, it is possible to come to an “intellectual understanding” of the lay of the spiritual land. Jean Klein refers to it as a “geometric understanding.” One can almost visualize the obstacles that lie before. This understanding often can come as a flash and could certainly be described as an ‘awakening.’ But here, it is important to note, that this intellectual understanding is not the same as being understanding, is not the same as knowingness, it is more like knowledge.
Next we come to what seems to me to be more worthy of such a moniker as ‘awakening.’ This is when one realizes oneself to be out of the mind’s conditioning. The “goose is out.” Here one is being out of the mind and is able to see the mind clearly as an object of perception. It is not that the mind has disappeared, no, but one is not living within the mind. And it is here that witnessing really emerges. In fact this is the witness. The mind is still present but one is not captive to its many grips. But it is important at this stage to allow witnessing its full force through meditation. It is here that the ‘emptying of consciousness’ must take place. If one is not mindful it is extremely easy to slip back into the clutches of the mind. But one is also able to see the horizon. One knows what needs to happen. One cannot make ‘it’ happen but one does need to create the opportunity and with this awakening the taste is known and so it is natural that real earnestness arises.
For what follows we will have to take the words and expressions of those who have known as a hypothesis. We can accept the hypothesis and in our laboratory of meditation discover for ourselves if it is indeed true. The Enlightened Masters have all said that there does come a complete annihilation of the separate ego-mind, one that is irreversible and surely it is ‘this’ that deserves the name “Enlightenment.”
So here we come to the point that has been the fuel for this inquiry for all these years. Without exposure to the presence of an Enlightened Master and, unfortunately for some, even with, it is very easy to believe that the “awakening of the witness” is the end of the journey, is itself enlightenment. Some fellow travelers might very well believe that there is no ending of the mind, because that is the limitation of their own experience. They become teachers and this then becomes part of their teaching, thus misdirecting their students. Just as importantly, their unfolding stagnates, believing that they have reached the end thus not allowing the space for “the emptying of consciousness” to take place. This is where the exposure to a fully enlightened master should prove extremely helpful. The master does not allow us to make our house in the sand. He continually goads us to keep on to the very end. May we all continue to the very end, charaiveti, charaiveti (go on, go on to the very end).
This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled Here to Now and Behind.