Years later, on learning that the cow, in India, commands special affection, an amusing comparison occurred to me. The Indian is, himself, in some ways cow-like: slowly ruminative, reflectively chewing the cud of his ideas. By contrast, Americans, who love dogs, seem actually to have a certain affinity with them, as they dash about in mad pursuit of endless and quite unnecessary goals, eagerly wagging their tails in an effort to be liked.
Civilized man prides himself on how far advanced his present state is from that of the primitive savage. We look condescendingly on his tribal way of endowing trees, wind, rain, and heavenly bodies with human personalities. Now that science has explained everything in prosaic terms, modern man considers himself wiser for having lost his sense of awe. But I’m not so sure that he deserves congratulations ……. Too pragmatic, now, to worship, he has forgotten how to commune. Instead of relating sensitively to Nature around him, he shuts it out of his life with concrete “jungles,” air conditioning, and “muzak”; with self-promotion and noisy entertainments. He is obsessed with problems that are real to him only because he gives them reality. ……
Modern technology alienates us from the universe and from one another. Worst of all, it alienates us from ourselves. It directs all our energies toward the mere manipulation of things, until we ourselves assume qualities that are almost thing-like. ….. We are taught to behave in this world like uncivilized guests, rudely consuming our host’s plenty without offering him a single word of thanks in return. Such is our approach to nature, to God, to life itself. We make ourselves petty, then imagine that the universe is petty also. ….. And when, in “civilized” smugness, we approach the question of religion, we address God Himself as though He had better watch His manners if He wants a place in our hearts.
The Hindu scriptures state ….. that what is otherwise a duty ceases to be such when it conflicts with a higher duty. Man’s highest duty is to seek God. It is understood in India that one’s spouse can and should be supportive in one’s search. Only if the desire for God is intense, and one’s spouse poses an obstacle to that search by his or her worldliness, is it permissible to break the marital bond without mutual consent.
…. a guest ….. asked him, “Which do you consider the most spiritual place in America?” “I have always considered Los Angeles the Benaras of America,” the Master replied.
He taught me an ancient yoga technique of concentration, and added some general counsel.
“When you aren’t practicing this concentration technique, try to keep your mind focused at the point between the eyebrows. This is called the Christ center, because when Christ consciousness is attained one’s awareness becomes centered here.”
“Would it help,” I asked, “to keep my mind focused there all day long as well?”
“Very much! …….”
“And another thing,” Bernard added, “this is also the seat of the spiritual eye. The more deeply you concentrate your gaze at this point, the more you’ll become aware of a round light forming there: a blue field with a bright, golden ring around it and a silvery white five-pointed star in the center.”
“Never say that you are a sinner,” he went on to advise us. “You are a child of God! Gold, though covered for centuries with mud, remains gold. Even so, the pure gold of the soul, though covered for eons of time with the mud of delusion, remains pure ‘gold’ forever. To call yourself a sinner is to identify yourself with your sins instead of trying to rid yourself of them. It is to affirm sinfulness. To call yourself a sinner is the greatest sin before God!”
“Visualize the Guru,” he said, “at the point between the eyebrows, the Christ center. This is the ‘broadcasting station’ in the body. Call to him deeply at this point. Then try to feel his response in your heart, which is the body’s ‘receiving set.’ When that response comes, it will be here that you feel it intuitively. When it comes, pray deeply, ‘Introduce me to God.’”
As buildings and place develop vibrations according to the consciousness of the people who frequent them, so music also develops vibrations beyond those of the actual sound.
Renunciation is no abject self-deprivation, but a glorious affirmation of the universe of joy that is our birthright.
As St.John of the Cross put it:
In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything,
Desire pleasure in nothing.
In order to arrive at possessing everything,
Desire to possess nothing.
In order to arrive at being everything,
Desire to be nothing.
In order to arrive at the knowledge of everything,
Desire to know nothing.
“When this ‘I’ shall die,” Master once wrote…… “then shall I know who am I.”
Sometimes he intrigued us with references, always casual, to the past lives of certain well-known public figures. “Winston Churchill,” he told us, “was Napoleon. Napoleon wanted to conquer England. Churchill, as England’s Prime Minister, has fulfilled that ambition. Napoleon wanted to destroy England. As Churchill he has had to preside over the disintegration of the British Empire. …….” “Hitler …… was Alexander the Great.”……… Mussolini, Master said, was Mark Antony. Kaiser Wilhelm was Julius Caeser. Stalin was Genghis Khan…….Abraham Lincoln…… had been a yogi in the Himalayas ……. He [Abraham Lincoln] has come again in this century …… as Charles Lindbergh …….. Therese Neumann, the Catholic stigmatist …… was Mary Magdalene ……… Lahiri Mahasaya …. in a previous life was King Janaka …….. According to another disciple, Master told someone that Lahiri Mahasaya had also been the great medieval mystic Kabir. …. “Babaji…… is an incarnation of India’s greatest prophet, Krishna.”
Master then revealed to us that he himself had been Krishna’s closest friend and disciple, Arjuna.
And as Paramahansa Yogananda often said - …….. “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.”
I was intrigued to learn ….. that advanced yogis sometimes incarnate in several bodies at once, in order the more quickly to work out their past karmas.
…… The body is immobile in this trance state; one’s absorption in God, at this point, is called sabikalpa samadhi, or qualified absorption, a condition still subject to change, for on one’s return from this lower samadhi one assumes once again the limitations of ego. …… the supreme state: nirbikalpa samadhi, or unqualified absorption – a condition changeless and eternal. If from this state one returns to body-consciousness, he does so no longer with the consciousness of being separate or different from the ocean of Spirit. John Smith no longer exists. It is the eternal Spirit, now, which animates his body …….. This outward direction of energy on the part of one who has attained nirbikalpa samadhi is sometimes known also as sahaja, or effortless, samadhi.
Divine freedom comes only with the attainment of nirbikalpa samadhi. Until that stage, the ego can still – and alas, sometimes does – draw the mind back down into delusion again. Only with nirbikalpa samadhi does one become what is known as a jivan mukta, free even though living in a physical body.
A jivan mukta, however, unimaginably high though his sate is, is not yet fully emancipated. The thought, “I am John Smith,” has been destroyed. He can acquire no new karma, since the post of ego to which his karma was tied has been destroyed forever. There remains even no, however, the memory of all those prior existences …… All those old selves must be made over, their karma spiritualized and released into the Infinite.
“Very few saints on earth have achieved final liberation, becoming siddhas, or perfected beings,” Master told me one day.
“It is only the thought that we are not free that keeps us from actually being free. Merely to break that thought would suffice to put us into samadhi! Samadhi is not something we have to acquire. We have it already!”
When the soul attains final liberation, it becomes a siddha (“perfected being”), or param mukta (“supremely free soul”). Even in this state, individuality is not lost, but is retained in the memory of omniscience. The karma of John Smith’s many incarnations has been released into the Infinite, but the memory of all those lifetimes, now spiritualized, remains an eternal reality in divine memory. The soul, however, once it attains this state of supreme liberation, rarely reactivates it's remembered individuality, and never does so except at the command of the Divine Will.’ When such a supremely free soul returns to this world it comes only for the sake of humanity. Such an incarnation is called an avatar, or “divine incarnation.”
Such, Master told us, was Babaji, the first of our direct line of gurus. Such also were Lahiri Mahasaya …….. and Swami Sri Yukteswar ……..
“Sir,” I asked Master one day …… “are you an avatar?”
With quiet simplicity he replied, “A work of this importance would have to have been started by such a one.”
An avatar, he told us, descends to worldly birth with a divine mission, often for the general upliftment of mankind as well as the particular salvation of a few disciples. ……. To avatars He gives the power to bring vast numbers of souls to freedom in God. Siddhas as given power only to liberate themselves and a few others.
“If you want God,” Master used to say, “go after Him. It takes great determination and steadfast, deep effort. And remember, the minutes are more important than the years.”
A great aid on the path, however, is the constant thought, “I am free already!”
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.”
Jesus’ own words, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it”
We need not so much destroy our desires as rechannel their energies Godward.
Until a desire has been either fulfilled in action or dissipated by wisdom, it may remain dormant in the subconscious, like a seed, for incarnations.
Likes, dislikes, and their resultant attractions and aversions, all of which induce desires and repulsions, are the root cause of our bondage. The progressive stages of involvement with maya may be traced through the progressive functions of human consciousness: mon, buddhi, ahankara, and chitta: mind, intellect, ego, and feeling
Paramahansa Yogananda illustrated these basic functions by a horse, seen in a mirror. The mirror is the mind (mon), which shows us the image as it appears to us through the senses; the mind alone, however, cannot qualify or define that image.
Buddhi (intellect) then defines what is seen, informing our consciousness, “That is a horse.”
Ahankara (ego) then appears, declaring, “This is my horse.” Up to this point we are not necessarily yet bound by the thought of ownership, the identification, though personal, may still remain more or less abstract.
If, then, chitta (feeling) comes onto the scene, saying, “How happy I am to see my horse!” true ego-bondage begins. Chitta is our emotional reaction, including likes and dislikes, desires and aversions. It is the true source of ego-bondage, and the essence of all delusion.
Thus, the ancient classical exponent of the yoga science, Patanjali, defined yoga itself as “the neutralization of the vortices (vrittis) of chitta.” ……. Yogas chitta vritti nirodh. ….. “Vritti,” moreover, doesn’t mean “fluctuation,” or “waves,” as is often translated, but “whirlpool,” which more graphically describes drawing feelings inward to a center in the ego.
When travelling ……. Generally he [Yogananda] ate in the car, to avoid what he termed the “heterogeneous vibrations” of restaurants.
“I know every thought you think,” he once assured me calmly.
He [Yogananda] told us more than once that in a former life he had been William the Conqueror ……… Master said he had also been a leader in Spain, whose mission had been to drive the Moors out of that country ……. He didn’t tell us who that person was, however.
“Will power,” Master told us, “is more important to success than knowledge, training, or even native ability.”
Master was talking to us ……. “One evening I had just returned to Mt. Washington when a sudden, violent wind struck the main building. It was an effect from the evil karma of the World War II. People little realize how greatly the very elements are affected by mass consciousness.”
“Do souls that have been born on this earth keep reincarnating here?” Master’s reply, ……. was, “No, there are innumerable planets to go to.”
His next life on earth, Master told us, would be spent in the Himalayas. Having devoted so much of his present life to public service, he planned to remain for many years of that incarnation in deep seclusion. …… Two hundred years would elapse, he told us, before his next incarnation.
“Don’t sleep a great deal. Sleep is the unconscious way of contacting God. Meditation is a state beyond sleep – superconsciousness, as opposed to subconsciousness. ….
“ ……If you read one hour, then write two hours, think three hours, and meditate all the time.’