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R e a d E x c e r p t s
Interviews with Seekers of Enlightenment... and how they found It
These interviews were conducted by John David (formerly Premananda) while living in Papaji's Lucknow Sangha 1992 - 1996.
(All the tales are told by seekers for Truth who came to Lucknow from all over the world to visit Papaji. Some Awoke and became members of the Sangha. This was a group of perhaps eighty people who lived permanently in Lucknow and another one to two hundred who came and went with the extreme seasons. In summer the temperature could reach forty-seven degrees. In winter sweaters and electric heaters were necessary and all year round dust, exhaust fumes and noise pollution were common. Many hundreds of guests came and went or passed through just long enough for that climactic Awakening in his presence.)
In the presence of Papaji, the interviewer had his own Awakening. A week after the event he called him to sit in front of him and asked me to talk about Truth. Like everyone before John David (formerly Premananda) was only able to mutter a few sentences that perhaps pointed in the direction of Truth. Later it occurred to him that in a relaxed situation one to one, people could perhaps point closer to this Truth.
Most of these dialogues took place in Lucknow from 1992 to 1996. Normally these dialogues occurred a day or two after the Awakening, when the heat of Truth was burning bright.
… One day I went to Haridwar and bumped into Ramda, a friend of mine from Brazil, just the day before he was due to go to Delhi and fly back to his home country. He said, ‘Oh! Peter, how nice to meet you here. I'm just on my way to see my Guruji, would you like to come?'
I said, ‘Yes, yes! I have some time and would like to come.' So we went through some back alleys of Haridwar to the house where the guru stayed.
Up to that point had you been with other gurus?
I had attended Satsang (meeting in Truth), and Darshan (being in the presence of a saint) with saints in Rishikesh, but nothing caught me. I never felt, ‘This is my guru.' I wasn't looking for a guru. I did believe that it would happen sooner or later, if it was meant to happen. People were talking about freedom, enlightenment and selfrealisation, but I didn't fully understand what they were saying. I definitely wanted something, but I didn't know exactly what. I saw so many saints and teachers in Rishikesh. Nothing really worked.
So as I said, I met Ramda and he took me to the man in Haridwar. We came to the room, and a beautiful man was sitting on a bed, half naked. He wasn't wearing a shirt. He had all these tattoos on his arms and was amazingly strong. I almost felt some fear; his presence was so powerful, incredibly powerful. He invited me in. He said, ‘Come in and sit.'
I was invited to sit in front of him, and he asked me where I was from. I said, ‘I'm from Australia.' Immediately he gave me a smile and said, ‘Do you know the kangaroos, have you touched a kangaroo?' And he started talking about nature and animals. At one point I told him that I had been a diver. He was so interested in this that he lit up. He was very happy to talk about nature. We talked for a long time, and I became completely lost. I felt beautiful with this man. Everything that I would have thought of before went away. I was just being with this beautiful man and feeling so good. I didn't know what was happening. He gave me chai (tea) and lots of prasad (offering from the guru).
After some time he said, ‘Okay Peter, now you go back to Rishikesh, and I am going to walk with my disciples by the Ganga.' I thought, ‘I would really like to go walking with this beautiful man, along with his disciples by the Ganga.' But I knew I was not to ask, as he had given me a clear order to go back to Rishikesh. I said to myself, ‘Okay, I will go,' but I felt really sorry that I had to go.
I went back to Rishikesh, and this man never left my mind. After a few days I thought, ‘I want to go back to this man; maybe he would let me in again.' I went to Haridwar but couldn't find him. I couldn't find the side streets where he was because I hadn't paid attention while going there, and certainly not while leaving. I had been in an altered state. I had even failed to ask his name. I didn't know who he was. I started asking people if they knew this beautiful man. I described him, but nobody seemed to know.
I went back overseas and travelled around the world to South America and to the United States. I went to live in San Francisco for some time. I often thought about this man. I wanted to go and serve him, completely surrender to him. I just wanted to be with him, he was so beautiful. But I couldn't find him. Nothing brought me back to him. Two or three times I went back to Rishikesh, still asking for him. People said, ‘Come and see our guru.' I said, ‘No, no, this is my man. I think I have found my guru.' I searched. I saw all kinds of gurujis, in South India also, and people were talking about a man in Lucknow. I said, ‘No, no, I want to find this beautiful man.'
One day in January 1994, I went to visit a girlfriend in West Bengal. I was in love with this girl whom I'd met in Rishikesh. She had left, as she had a prior arrangement to work in West Bengal. She sent me a letter to come and join her, which I thought would be a good thing to do. When I arrived she had decided that it was off. I was distraught and very unhappy. So after twenty-four hours I left. I just wanted to go back to Rishikesh. I couldn't really think, I was so hurt and disappointed. I went to the train station on the main line from Howrah to Delhi.
I went to the station master who asked, ‘Where would you like to be going, sir?'
I said, ‘I just want the next train going west.'
‘Surely you must know where you want to be going.'
‘No, no, just put me on the next train. I want to go. I just want to get out of here.'
‘Shortly there will be a train. I can't give you a reservation.'
‘Give me a ticket please.'
‘Don't you want to know where the train is going?'
‘Okay, you tell me.'
‘It's going to Lucknow.'
‘Okay, I will go to Lucknow.'
I thought, ‘Lucknow sounds right. I will go and see this man who people are talking about, who is now so popular.'
I arrived in Lucknow. Long before, somebody had given me an address. I went to Indira Nagar and to Satsang House, which I found without any difficulty. I arrived and went inside. Some people were playing Japanese flute and a Japanese string instrument. Everything was peaceful. I immediately liked it very much. I sat and didn't expect anything. I was just happy to be there. I felt relieved to be with these beautiful people. Suddenly everybody got up. The music stopped and everyone turned around and started bringing their hands together in namaste (traditional palms-together greeting).
I looked, and I couldn't believe it. In came the man I was missing so much. It was the man who'd sat on the bed in Haridwar. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't think. Everything changed. Suddenly there was an incredible sensation within my body. Every cell, every atom in my body, went out to him. It's very hard to describe that feeling, and it was so powerful.
This man walked towards me, and I was quite beside myself. I looked at him. I looked in his eyes, and he looked at some people, then he brought his eyes to me and looked deeply in my eyes. I was completely gone. It was complete surrender without me doing a thing. There was no thought, no decision to surrender. It was completely automatic.
… I then went back to Australia and got back into my work and practice. I returned to India last year, which was the end of ‘91, and came to Lucknow. I just came out of curiosity, felt the pull to come, nothing specific. When I came I was very fortunate to meet Papaji and actually spend personal time with him, working on his body, trying to treat some physical ailments he has. In our dialogues I was impressed with his humanness and his clear, clear perception of the Truth.
I wrote a note: ‘I've had a little bit of enlightenment, but it's not enough.' Papaji read it out. He knew me and he said, ‘This is from Eoin.' Normally he would call people up to the front. He just looked at me. I was sitting a bit of a way back, and he said, ‘A little bit is enough.' That's all he said. Then he went on to the next person. What he said had a profound effect on me. I was in a very strong and quiet space with Papaji, and it was as if the vibration from him was entering my body.
After that I felt very touched and moved and very privileged to be here in Lucknow, but I didn't feel the pull to stay. I went to Bodhgaya to do a retreat with Christopher. Three days into the retreat, about four or five days after leaving Papaji, I was sitting in meditation and a huge force came over me. Having had many meditative experiences, I can say that this experience had a unique quality. It was as if the Self came to visit. Some deep change was happening. My thinking mind could still think, but what was happening was beyond my thinking mind, way beyond. It was as if my body was in me. This went on for forty-five minutes, and then at the end a voice from within, which I had heard a few times in my life, said, ‘This will happen three times and then you will be finished.'
That's literally what it said. I thought, ‘This is fantasy, how can this happen?' Part of me was thinking, ‘Oh quick, I want the other two times to happen.' And part of me was saying, ‘This is fantasy, this can't be true.' Yet inside myself I knew it to be true.
I knew even before I came to India that this time would be the time. It's like I prepared my whole life for this time. Papaji is fundamentally a big catalyst for this.
During a break in meditation I told my wife, who was also at the retreat, what was happening.
So you have been married for some time?
Oh, I got married a year and a half ago. Kerstin, my wife, she's been very important in my life. I told her that I really needed to sit the extra ten days just to see.
A couple of days into the next retreat, sure enough, it happened again, very strongly. This time even stronger. Very definite. I was wondering, ‘Wow, what's going on here?'
I was coming out of the bathroom, and I saw the teachers talking, having lunch, and I was a little annoyed that they were making so much noise on a silent retreat, and then I said, ‘Ah, it doesn't matter.' When I said that, reality fell apart. It was like a big hole in reality. I stood in awe of it.
How long did that hole last?
A momentary thing, I don't know, one or two moments, but very strong. It touched my being the deepest I'd ever been touched, and I'd been touched a lot.
Then, in a small group, everybody was laughing about the nature of reality and making a big joke about how it's all empty. I said, ‘I don't think it's so empty. I don't understand what's going on. I don't see how you can laugh at it.'
I was really choking up, and I told Christopher of the experience that had just happened. We talked a little. He told me I was on the edge of something. He said, ‘Eat very little lunch.' This was just before lunch. I had never heard him give people specific instructions before. I was taken aback. I got my meal and put some food in my mouth, just choked up, spat it out, started crying, and things started happening with my body.
I put my meal down and went and locked myself in a room. My whole body was shaking. I was crying, and waves of energy were going through me. This experience was incredibly traumatic. It went on for at least an hour or two. I came out of the experience and said, ‘Something is really going on here; I don't know what's happening.'
The next day we went to the Bodhi tree, which is an ancestor of the original Bodhi tree where the Buddha became enlightened. I was sitting under the Bodhi tree, just contemplating, wondering what was going on. I looked up to the Bodhi tree and said, ‘Lord Buddha, if this is true, send me a Bodhi leaf.'
I really felt on the edge. I felt like reality was shifting, and I wasn't sure what was happening. I looked up. I don't know why I said what I did. It wasn't the time of year that leaves fall, and it was highly unlikely that what I asked for would happen. Anyway, a few moments later an old Tibetan guy came into my vision and wandered over near me. I offered him a seat next to me, and he sat down. I gave him a little candle, because I had a spare. He went and made an offering. We never said a word through the whole time.
He came back and sat. We were looking up at the tree, looking at the leaves, and then he got up and wandered away again and talked with a guard who was wandering around with a big bamboo stick. I don't know what they said, but all of a sudden, the guard turned around and knocked a bunch of leaves off the tree. The old Tibetan guy grabbed a small branch and ran off behind some stupas (Buddhist shrines), obviously plucking the leaves off. I glanced back once, but I didn't want to pre-empt the situation. I just sat there observing.
Then the old Tibetan guy wandered back in front of me, reached in his pocket and gave me one leaf. I was blown away, and I said, ‘My outer world and my inner world are both saying the same thing. What's happened?'
I went back to the course and meditated. Things were moving in my body again. I talked to Christopher and he was quite pleased, quite happy with what was happening. We talked and dialogued about it, and the third experience came shortly after that. Things were happening even while I was walking. My body was shaking, and everything was sort of settling; it was quite dynamic.
Your body could function? I mean, you could walk and talk?
Yes, but I would fall into these quiet spaces where reality looked so amazing, things looked so beautiful. After that, I actually got a slight attack of malaria and was sick but it didn't bother me. My body was a little weak but the vision I was seeing was so wonderful.
I particularly remember one scene in Calcutta where I came out of the hotel and sat down in a chair. I was looking at the street and it looked like perfection, utter perfection.
… In Argentina I started feeling something was missing in my life. I had a very interesting job. It gave me a lot of freedom. It gave me an opportunity to travel, to meet people. Financially there was no worry whatsoever. I was living a very comfortable life. However, there was something important missing in my life that I felt I didn't know how to find. Moreover, in a way I was not even looking for it. I knew it was in a spiritual direction.
Then I moved to Brussels and went to Holland to see my mother. I remember I asked her what book she was reading. She told me The Mustard Seed, by Osho. She said it was a very interesting book. I asked her if I could borrow it when she was finished. I'd never heard of Osho before.
I think The Mustard Seed is where he is talking about Jesus. So your mother was Christian?
My mother was very freethinking but had a Christian background. She was reading Krishnamurti, Sufi books, Hindu books, without really living it herself, keeping it on the level of reading. She was reading Osho. I felt I wanted to know more about it, so I got the book when I returned to Brussels.
That was in 1980. In that book there was the address of the Osho centre in Amsterdam, so I called them to ask whether there was also a centre in Brussels. They said there was and gave me the address.
I remember the first time I went to that house. I had to climb up some stairs. I had a feeling that something important would happen. When I went up, there were all these people dressed in orange robes, ready to do that kind of meditation where you shake.
Do you mean Kundalini (Osho active meditation)?
Yes, I joined the group, changed my clothes and got an orange robe. They expected me to do the Kundalini , which was completely different from my concept about meditation. I remember I was fascinated with all the shaking and dancing.
I called my mother and said, ‘Guess where I am going for holidays? I'm going to Pune.' She thought it was a big joke, and she was of course fascinated about what my experience would be.
I went to Pune for three weeks and did a meditation group. I wouldn't even know what to call it. I had to lie down for three days on my belly, and I was very peaceful. After the three weeks in Pune it was very difficult to go back to Brussels.
What happened when you got back?
I remember the first day back. I was sitting in my office. I had to make a decision. Would I continue with the life I was living which was all career bound, with so much work, all responsibilities, or go back to Pune to find out what it was really all about. I made the decision in five minutes, that it was time for me to go to Pune.
I met the big boss and told him what had happened and that I wanted to go back. He was very surprised. He thought I was being hypnotized. I was so valuable for society. He offered me leave for a month, maximum two months. But I wanted to go as a free man, to decide what was going to happen.
So I gave up my job. I had to wait for three months, and then as soon as possible I went to Pune.
If I can just stop you a moment. When you say you gave up your job, from the way you've described it, it was actually more than a job. It had become your life. You'd worked with the company for twenty-odd years.
For about sixteen to seventeen years. Well, it's funny really. My job was important and I enjoyed it to the very last minute. However, I never felt that I wanted to make so much of a career. It had all just come by itself. I would give all my energy during the daytime, but at night, when I walked out of the office, my job never stayed in my mind. I wasn't really going for a career, it came by itself. I'm still surprised why, without really having made an effort, I got all those positions. I remember that when I called the director to give him notice, I felt such a joy that I started dancing around my office. It must have been a weird sight.
You felt a real sense of freedom.
A tremendous sense of freedom, and too, I felt something that I think I had always wanted. The decision wasn't so difficult for me, that's why I made it in five minutes. I had no family to consider, and finance was not a problem. I felt, ‘This is something so important that I have to find it out for myself.' That's why I went to Pune.
After a few weeks in Pune, I became an Osho sannyasin (student of Osho). Osho gave me the name Dhyan Parishuddha, which means ultimate purity.
To visit this man Alexander Smit?
Yes. After I had seen Osho again in Bombay and Pune, I started visiting Alexander Smit. He is a disciple of Nisargadatta Maharaj, and after a very short time being with Nisargadatta, Alexander became realised. He was having Satsang (meeting in Truth), but he never called it Satsang , just meetings. He was talking about the essentials. Nothing except ‘That,' very much in the sense of when you read Nisargadatta's book I Am That .
What are the essentials for you?
His trying to explain in all possible ways, who you are. I must say, for the first year I didn't know what he was talking about. Still, I felt that I had to come to him. What surprised me so much after having been with Osho for five years, was that I'd never got a clue what it was all about. Mind you, that was nothing to do with Osho.
It was only after a year with Alexander that it started to dawn on me. He really pulled me by the hair, so to speak, by forcing me to ask questions. Then it finally started to dawn on me, who I really am. When I went for the second time to Osho in Pune and he was talking about setting up the Multiversity in Koregoan Park, I wondered, ‘Why don't you stick to your subject?' I left a bit disappointed.
What did you feel in the first few Satsangs three weeks ago?
I was just happy to be there. The more I stayed, the more I felt the union of the Sangha (community). I wanted to sit with him. Of course, that comes into your mind the closer you are to the time of leaving. However, I had no questions to ask.
Then I came up with a question based on what I was reading in a book at the time. The question was concerning the possibility of realising the Self in a split second. I was trying all the time to get close to ‘It.' Since this question was coming up all the time, I felt the question was making it difficult to realise. I had doubt in fact.
I raised this question with Papaji, and amazingly, he so directly and yet gradually, made me see that this question is but a doubt. This thought came in the mind, this ‘I', and he made me look where it was, and suddenly ‘I' was nowhere. He just said, ‘That's It.' If he hadn't said that, I would have missed it because it is so simple and so close (long charged silence). Amazing. I am still dazed. Only a master can do that.
Is there any way you can find words to describe this experience?
I feel peaceful. You know that's It. It's very precious. I have to be careful with it. Since that event many people have come up to me and want to know about this. I'd rather not talk too much about it. You cannot lose it, but you can lose touch with it. That was the gift of Papaji.
… Can you tell us some of your stories of being with Papaji in his house?
It is amazing. It is a gift in so many ways. What is the daily life of Papaji really like? You have this superhuman image about what a master is like, and Papaji just opens his doors: my house is your house, my body is your body, my Self is your Self. I have never seen anyone open their life like he does. So just watching him walk about in a shirt and lungi (length of cotton cloth), chewing pan (sweet spices wrapped in a betel leaf), and watching TV and reading newspapers is amazing, and to do things like going shopping with him, going on a walk.
When you say amazing, do you mean that each moment of ordinariness is more intense, that it has a finer quality, whether he is just reading the paper or chewing pan?
I mean that he is even reading the paper! A master is so exalted. Does he disappear after Satsang and hover somewhere in the ether? What happens? That he wears ordinary clothes and watches television. For me it is incredible that he does ordinary things. It's almost like, ‘What does God do in his spare time? He reads the paper (laughs)!'
There are other things, things about being in love with somebody. When you love somebody everything has such an enhanced quality. I don't know if you have ever had a child, but when you have a child there is this amazing bond, like oh, she moved! Look at the way her mouth is. She blinked! So Papaji moves his face and a little impish expression comes, and you know that he is getting ready to do something mischievous or going to tell a joke. Just getting to know these tiny things about him, the way he fakes with someone, or tells a story, or if you are sitting close to him he mutters sweet little things under his breath.
It is these little things that reveal things about him. If a girlfriend and I are talking on the way to the house and something happens, when we get there he already knows about it.
Also the way he works with people, the way he deals with things if a dispute arises. He sees everything. Somebody has a fight in the backroom. He waits; he doesn't go in and try to stop them, but you know that he knows, no matter where he is in the house. Eventually a day, three days, or even a week later, something comes up in life from which he brings a teaching to that particular incident for each of them. Maybe he will say something to one person, maybe to both of them at the same time. One of the most beautiful things he does, that touches me so, is that he will speak to both of the people in the room together. He will speak about the incident so that each one of them receives a lesson of how to come from a truer place. He speaks about the incident in a way that honours both beings. He doesn't talk about it in a way of right or wrong.
There are so many precious little things like that. To spend the whole day with him and see him being with people, or to watch him on his own as a being, to see the way he moves while he decides when he is going to move, where he is going to move, or if indeed he is going to move. Just to watch him moving around! There is a magic and mystery in it all, even if you never get to understand what is going on (laughs).
And he is so caring. He cares about all the little things in people. He cares if a child has a little bug in his eyes. Just the way he will get the bug out. The way in which he helps people feel invited and welcome and helps them find a place to live when they arrive in Lucknow.
Is something shifting inside you during this time in the house?
Everything is shifting. You can't hold onto anything around somebody like that, who is a wildfire. Not if your priority is freedom. It doesn't matter what it is. All of my concepts about freedom, my body, about anything I think I need or think I am or even what I think about love and compassion. Everything is always up for grabs and shifting around Papaji.
A lot of the time he sends me to the back, and the guys get to sit up front with him while he is sitting and reading letters, and the women have to go in the back and clean up. I think, ‘That's not fair. But okay, no problem.' It doesn't matter, because he knows everything and it doesn't matter where in the house I am, whether I am in the front with him or in the back. It is just perfect.
It is absolutely amazing how his presence enters and reveals. He says one word or makes one look; he knows you so well, he knows everybody so well. And it doesn't matter if what he says doesn't seem to have anything to do with what really happened, I just have to be with it.
People have the image that around a spiritual master all is lovely, peaceful, blissful and harmonious. Am I right that it can be the opposite, and that there are a lot of strong emotions coming up with chaos about them and about the situation in the house; there is an unexpectedness and spontaneity to what is happening? And in a way Papaji relishes all these things?
Not just relishes, but even sets them up. He knows everybody so much better than they know themselves. So he can make one move, one decision, which affects one's tendencies. If they have to come up, they will come up. And they will be played out in every kind of raw, unpredictable way.
Do you think the people in the house were chosen for that reason (laughs)?
It's just that we all have these tendencies and they will come up each in their own way. It's all timing. It can be that he is reading the paper and somebody comes in, and Papaji will read something out loud. You know that the reason he does that is because of something that is going on somewhere else in the room.
Papaji is a true master. In a way that is how you can tell a true master from one who is only a teacher. A true master will know exquisitely and perfectly, not only what is going on with each one, but how to interact with it so beautifully. So beautifully, that around him it is as if nothing is being done. Papaji is not sitting in his room and thinking, ‘Okay, I need to do this and do that.' No, it is immaculate.