- (Spiritual Masters)
The master disciple relationship is very well represented in Bhagavad Gita, in chapter 10, where Lord Krishna reveals the infinite manifestations of his unmanifest spirit to his disciple Arjuna, and in chapter 11, where He reveals His Cosmic form, in response to Arjuna’s prayer to see what are the many aspects and forms of the Lord Himself.
In the same way, a master reveals to his disciple, when this one is ready for it, the many manifestations of God in Creation and he guides him through all the universal forms of spirit, helping him to see beyond the veils of illusion and to understand that “massive universes and their tiniest particles, majestic gods of Nature and the most insignificant of creatures, the shadow plays of good and evil – all hold their special place in the conformation of the Cosmic Image.”
The Blessed Lord said:
(1) O Mighty-Armed (Arjuna), hear thou more of My supreme utterance. For thy highest good I will speak further to thee, who listeneth joyfully.
(2) Neither the multitude of angels nor the great sages know My Uncreated Nature, for even the devas and rishis (are created beings, and hence) have an origin in Me.
(3) But whoever realizes Me to be the Unborn and Beginning less as well as the Sovereign Lord of Creation-that man has conquered delusion and attained the sinless state even while wearing a mortal body.
(4-5) Discrimination, wisdom, lack of delusion, forgiveness, truth, control of the senses, peace of mind, joy, sorrow, birth, death, fear, courage, harmlessness, equanimity, serenity, self-discipline, charity, fame, and infamy-these diverse states of beings spring from Me alone as modifications of My nature.
(6)The seven Great Rishis, the Primeval Four, and the (fourteen) Manus are also modifications of My nature, born of My thought, and endowed with (creative) powers like Mine. From these progenitors come all living creatures on earth.
(7) He who realizes by yoga the truth of My prolific manifestations and the creative and dissolving power of My Divine Yoga is unshakably united to Me. This is beyond doubt.
(8) I am the Source of everything; from Me all creation emerges. With this realization the wise, awestricken, adore Me.
(9) Their thoughts fully on Me, their beings surrendered to Me, enlightening one another, proclaiming Me always, My devotees are contented and joyful.
(10) To those thus ever attached to Me, and who worship Me with love, I impart that discriminative wisdom (buddhi yoga) by which they attain Me utterly.
(11) From sheer compassion I, the Divine Indweller, set alight in them the radiant lamp of wisdom which banishes the darkness that is born of ignorance.
(12-13) Arjuna said:
The Supreme Spirit, the Supreme Shelter, the Supreme Purity art Thou! All the great sages, the divine seer Narada, as well as Asita, Devala, and Vyasa, have thus described Thee as the Self-Evolved Eternal Being, the Original Deity, uncaused and omnipresent. And now Thou Thyself tellest me!
(14) O Keshawa (Krishna)! I consider as eternal truth all Thou hast revealed to me. Indeed, O my Lord! neither the Devas (gods) nor the Danavas (Titans) know the infinite modes of Thine appearances.
(15) O Divine Purusha, O Origin of beings, O Lord of all creatures, O God of gods, O Sustainer of the world! verily Thou alone knowest Thyself by Thyself.
(16) Therefore, please tell me exhaustively of Thy divine powers and qualities by which Thine Omnipresence sustaineth the cosmos.
(17) O Great Yogi (Krishna)! how shall I always meditate in order to know Thee truly? In what aspects and forms, O Blessed Lord, art Thou to be conceived by me?
(18) O Janardana (Krishna)! tell me more, at great length, of Thy yoga powers and Self-manifestations; far never can I hear enough of Thy nectared speech!
The Blessed Lord said:
(19) Very well, O Best of the Princes (Arjuna), I will indeed tell thee of My phenomenal expressions - but only the most outstanding ones, for there is no end to My variety.
(20) O Conqueror of Sleep (Arjuna)! I am the Self in the heart of all creatures: I am their Origin, Existence, and Finality.
(21) Among the Adityas (twelve effulgent beings), I am Vishnu; among luminaries, I am the radiating sun; among the Maruts (forty-nine wind gods), I am Marichi; among heavenly bodies, I am the moon.
(22) Among the Vedas, I am the Sama Veda; among the gods, I am Vasava (Indra); among the senses, I am mind (manas); in creatures, I am the intelligence.
(23) Of the Rudras (eleven radiant beings) I am (their leader) Shankara ("the well-wisher"); of the Yakshas and Rakshasas (astral demi-goblins), I am Kubera (lord of riches); of the Vasus (eight vitalizing beings), I am Pavaka (the god of fire, the purifying power); and of mountain peaks I am Meru.
(24) And, O son of Pritha (Arjuna), understand Me to be the chief among priests, Brihaspati; among generals, I am Skanda; among expanses of water, I am the ocean.
(25) Of the Maharishis (mighty sages), I am Bhrigu; among words, I am the one syllable Aum; among yajnas (holy ceremonies), I am japa-ajna (silent, superconscious chanting); among stationary objects, I am the Himalaya.
(26) Among all trees, I am the Ashvattha (the holy fig tree); among the devarishis (divine sages), I am Narada; among the Gandharvas (demigods), I am Chitraratha; among the siddhas (successful liberated beings), I am the muni (saint) Kapila.
(27) Among stallions, know Me to be the nectar-born Uchchaihshravas; among elephants, Indra 's white elephant, Airavata; and among men, the emperor.
(28) Among weapons, I am the thunderbolt; of bovines, I am Kamadhuk (the celestial cow that fulfills all desires). I am Kandarpa (the personified creative consciousness), the cause of childbirths; and I am Vasuki among serpents.
(29) I am Ananta ("the eternal" one) among the Naga serpents; I am Varuna (god of the ocean) among water creatures; I am Aryama among Pitris (ancestral parents); I am Yama (god of death) among all controllers.
(30) Among the Daityas (demons and giants), I am Prahlada; among measurers, I am time; among the animals, I am the king of beasts (the lion); and among birds, I am Garuda ("lord of the skies, " vehicle of Vishnu).
(31) Among purifiers, I am the breeze; among wielders of weapons, I am Rama; among aquatic creatures, I am Makara (vehicle of the god of the ocean); among streams, I am Jahnavi (the Ganges).
(32) Of all manifestations, O Arjuna, I am the beginning, middle, and end. Among all branches of knowledge, I am the wisdom of the Self; for debaters, I am discriminative logic (vada).
(33) Among all letters, I am the letter A; of all compounds, I am the dvandva (connective element). I am Immutable Time; and I am the Omnipresent Creator (the all-pervading Dispenser of Destiny) whose face is turned on all sides.
(34) I am all-dissolving Death; and I am Birth, the origin of all that will be. Among feminine manifestations (qualities of Prakriti), I am fame, success, the illumining power of speech, memory, discriminative intelligence, the grasping faculty of intuition, and the steadfastness of divine forbearance.
(35) Among Samas (hymns), I am Brihat-Saman; among poetic meters, I am Gayatri; among the months, I am Margasirsha (an auspicious winter month); among seasons, I am Kusumakwra, the flower bearer (spring).
(36) I am the gambling of the practicers of fraud; I am the radiance of the radiant; I am victory and the striving power; I am the quality of sattva among the good.
(37) Among the Vrishnis, I am Vasudeva (Krishna); among the Pandavas, I am Dhananjaya (Arjuna); among the munis (saints), I am Vyasa; among the sages, I am the savant Ushanas.
(38) I am the rod of the discipliners; I am the art of those who seek victory; I am also the silence of all hidden things, and the wisdom of all knowers.
(39) I am, furthermore, whatsoever constitutes the reproductive seed of all beings. There is nothing, O Arjuna, moving or motionless, that can abide without Me.
(40) O Scorcher of Foes (Arjuna), limitless are the manifestations of My divine attributes; My concise declaration is a mere intimation of My proliferating glorious powers.
(41) Any being that is a worker of miracles, that is a possessor of true prosperity, that is endowed with great prowess, know all such to be manifested sparks of My radiance.
(42) But what need hast thou, O Arjuna, for the manifold details of this wisdom? (Understand simply:) I, the Unchanging and Everlasting, sustain and permeate the entire cosmos with but one fragment of My Being!
Aum, Tat, Sat.
In the Upanishad of the holy Bhagavad Gita – the discourse of Lord Krishna to Arjuna, which is the scripture of yoga and the science of God-realization – this is the tenth chapter, called "Vibhuti Yoga (Divine Manifestations). "
(1) Thou hast compassionately revealed to me the secret wisdom of the true Self, thus banishing my delusion.
(2) O Lotus-Eyed (Krishna)! Thou hast told me extensively of the beginning and end of all beings, and of Thine eternal sovereignty.
(3) O Great One! truly hast Thou thus declared Thyself. Yet, O Purushottama! I long to see Thee in Divine Embodiment (Thine Ishwara-Form).
(4) O Master, O Lord of Yogis! If Thou deemest me able to see It, show to me Thine Infinite Self!
The Blessed Lord said:
(5) Behold, O son of Pritha (Arjuna)! by hundreds and by thousands My divine forms -multicolored, omnifarious!
(6) Behold the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the twin Ashvins, the Maruts, and many wonders hitherto unknown!
(7) Here and now, O Conqueror of Sleep (Arjuna)! behold as unified in My Cosmic Body all worlds, all that moves or is motionless, and whatever else thou desirest to see.
(8) But thou canst not see Me with mortal eyes. Therefore I give thee sight divine. Behold My supreme power of yoga!
(9) Sanjaya said to King Dhritarashtra:
With these words Hari (Krishna), the exalted Lord of Yoga, revealed to Arjuna the Consummate Embodiment, the Cosmic-Bodied Ishvara-Form.
resence of the Deity - infinite in forms, shining in every direction of space, omnipotence all-pervading, adorned with countless celestial robes and garlands and ornaments, upraising heavenly weapons, fragrant with every lovely essence, His mouths and eyes everywhere!
(12) If a thousand suns appeared simultaneously in the sky, their light might dimly resemble the splendor of that Omnific Being!
(13) There, resting within the infinite Form of the God of gods, Arjuna beheld the entire universe with all its diversified manifestations.
(14) Then the Winner of Wealth (Arjuna), wonder-struck, his hair standing on end, his palms together in a prayerful gesture, bowing his head in awe before the Lord, addressed Him:
(15 – 34) Arjuna said:
Beloved Lord, Adored of gods! Behold,
Thy body holds
All fleshly tenants, seers fine,
And diverse angel-gods divine.
Dwelling deep in mystery cave,
The Serpent Nature 's forceful crave,
Though fierce and subtle, now is tame,
Forgetful of her deadly game;
And Sovran Brahma, God of gods,
On lotus seat is snug secured.
Great Cosmic-Bodied Lord of worlds,
Oh, I behold, again behold
Thee all and everywhere,
Thy countless arms, trunks, mouths, and eyes!
Yet drooping, dark, my knowledge lies
About Thy birth and reign and ending here.
O Blazing, Furious Flame, O Blinding Ray,
Thy focused power's aglow: Thy Name
To dark'st abysmal lair.
Gilded with a crown of stars
And wielding mace of sovereign power,
Thou whirlest forth, O Burning Phoebus,
Thine evolution's circling discus.
Immortal Brahma, all Supreme,
Thou Cosmic Shelter, Wisdom's Theme,
Eternal Dharma's Guardian true,
Thou diest not I ever knew!
O Birthless, Fleshless, Deathless One,
I see Thine endless, working arms,
Thine ever-watching eyes
Of suns and moons, the staring skies;
And from Thy mouth spumes throbbing flame,
As utterest Thou the Aum, Thy Cosmic Name.
Thy Self-born luster shields from harm,
And all creation, distance-flung, doth warm.
O Sovereign Soul! 'twixt earth and home of gods,
Directions all, and earthly sods,
All high abodes and all encircling spheres,
By Thee pervaded, far and near.
The worlds-triune awestruck by fear,
Thy dreadful wondrous form adore.
In Thee the gods their entry make;
With folded hands, afraid, some pray to shelter take
In Thee. The seers great, and heaven's-path successful ones,
With superb chants of "Peace!" do worship Thee and Thee alone.
Th' eleven lamps of heaven;
The twelve bright suns;
The grizzly eight,
The starry lusters great;
Aspiring hermits; patron gods,
The agents of the cosmic lords;
The twin-born princes strong,
Of valor known so long;
Two-score and nine noil breezes' force,
That binds the atom close;
The long-passed guardian spirits all;
The demigoblins, demigods, and demons tall;
And mighty ones in Spirit's path,
In wonder gaze upon Thy blazoned worth.
I Thee behold, Colossal-Armed!
With starry eyes and countless cheeks,
With endless hands, and legs adorned with lotus feet.
Thy chasmed mouth with doomsday's teeth
Doth yawn to swallow swooning worlds above, beneath,
And leaves a distilled joyous awe in me:
Thy grandeur I and all are wonder-struck to see!
To view the bowels of the void deep all filled with Thee
Thy gaping mouth and diverse hues of fiery lustrous body
O Vishnu of the flaming sight,
Thou quite o'erpowerest me, my peace dost fright.
Ferocious teeth and deadly fires do howl
In mouths of Thine that at me scowl. Directions four are lost and gone;
Com passion show! I find no peace alone; O Cosmic Guardian, Lord of gods,
Be pleased t'accept my humble pleading words.
The sons of senses swayed with kingly pride,
With ego, karmic habit, worldly lure, abide
And wait to leap upon our wisdom's chiefs;
And yet they all do ride
The race of death, to fall and hide
Fore'er in Thy devouring mouth,
Adorned with crushing cruel teeth uncouth.
The victor and the vanquished must
(Thine offspring both, the righteous and ungodly ones)
Thy love still claim; yet all some day shall kiss the dust,
And sleep on common floor of earth.
The shattered skulls of some are seen,
As caught Thy greedy teeth between.
As diverse, restless, watery waves
Of river branches all do crave
To force through crowded wavelets' way
And meet where Neptune's home long lay,
E'en so, heroic streams of life
Do Plunge to meet in maddest strife
Within Thy foaming mouth of flaming sea,
Where sparks of lives all dance in Thee.
As insects lost in beauty's game
All swiftly, thoughtless, rush to flame,
So fog-born passion's fires pretend
To glow like heavenly light of Thine,
And draw on mortals to attend
The trumpet call to deathly line.
Thy mouth ablaze
Doth bring to gaze
Its leaping tongues to lick
The angry blood of strong and weak;
Thou, Gourmand God, dost eat
With hunger infinite.
O Vishnu, Thou dost scorch
The worlds with all-pervading fiery torch.
Be Pleased, O First of gods;
I ache to know, Primeval Lord,
True who Thou art – O Fiery Mood,
Yet so benign and good.
Oh, tell to me Thy Royal Will;
For it I know not still.
The Blessed Lord then said:
In guise of Endless Doom
I come as avaricious Time to seize and room
In burning maw
Of Mine the weaklings' awe,
And all the mortal meat
Of weary worlds of deathly change, and treat
Them with My nectar-life
To new and fearless, better strife.
E'en if thou dost forbear to slay
Thy wicked foes, still they - and warriors all in brave array –
Will sure and certain timely have to fall,
Ah, in My righteous teeth-of-law, withal.
Arise, awake! Arise, awake!
Dash thou upon the foe, the flesh a captive make;
And win the victor's fame
With battle-hunted game;
Wealth of the King
Of Peace, and heaven's kingdom, bring!
I know right now the happenings all
That mystic future forth doth call;
And thus thy foes and warriors true,
Long, long ago I slew,
Ere shalt thine agent-hand
(That I would wield to land
Thy Joes on death's dim shore). Now understand!
My agent thou;
Oh, this is how
I work My plans - the universe –
Through instruments diverse;
'Tis I who slew and yet will slay the senses' train
Through thee, as through both past and future ones,
My soldiers sane!
Sanjaya said to King Dhritarashtra:
(35) After hearing the words of Keshava (the maya-transcendent Krishna), the diademed one (Arjuna, haloed with cosmic vision), trembling and awestricken, joining his palms in worshipful supplication, again made humble obeisance and addressed Krishna in a quavering voice.
(36) O Hrishikesha (Krishna)! Rightly are the worlds proud and gladdened to exude Thy glory! The demons, terrified, seek safety in distance; while the multitudes of siddhas (perfected beings) bow down to worship Thee.
(37) And why should they not pay Thee homage, O Vast Spirit? For greater art Thou than Brahma the Creator, who issued from Thee. O Infinite One, O God of gods, O Shelter of the Universe, Thou art the Imperishable-the Manifested, the Unmanifested, and That beyond (the Ultimate Mystery).
(38) The Primal God art Thou! the Pristine Spirit, the Final Refuge of the Worlds, the Knower and the Known, the Supreme Fulfillment! Thine Omnipresence shines in the universe, O Thou of Inexhaustible Form!
(39) O Flowing Life of Cosmic Currents (Vayu), O King of Death (Yama), O God of Flames (Agni), O Sovereign of Sea and Sky (Varuna), O Lord of Night (the Moon), O Divine Father of Countless Offspring (Prajapati ), O Ancestor of All! To Thee praise, praise without end! To Thee my salutations thousandfold!
(40) O Endless Might, O Invincible Omniscient Omnipresence, O All-in-All! I bow to Thee in front and behind, I bow to Thee on the left and the right, I bow to Thee above and beneath, I bow to Thee enclosing me everywhere!
(41) Unaware of this, Thy Cosmic Glory, and thinking of Thee as a familiar companion, often have I audaciously hailed Thee as "Friend" and "Krishna" and "Yadava." For all such words, whether spoken carelessly or with affection;
(42) And for any irreverence I have displayed toward Thee, O Unshakable Lord! in lighthearted mood at mealtimes or while walking or sitting or resting, alone with Thee or in others' company – for all such unintentional slights, O Thou Illimitable! I beg forgiveness.
(43) Father of All art Thou! of animate and inanimate alike. None but Thee is worthy of worship, O Guru Sublime! Unparalleled by any other in the three worlds, who may surpass Thee, O Lord of Power Incomparable?
(44) Therefore, O Adorable One, I cast myself in obeisance at Thy feet to implore Thy pardon. As a father to his son, as a friend to a close friend, as a lover to his beloved, do Thou, O Lord, forgive me!
(45) Overjoyed am I at having gazed upon a vision never seen before, yet my mind is not free from terror. Be merciful to me, O Lord of gods, O Shelter of the Worlds! Show to me only Thy Deva-form (as the benign Vishnu).
(46) I long to see Thee as before, as the Four-Armed Vishnu, diademed and holding Thy mace and discus. Reappear in that same form, O Thou who art Thousand-Armed and Universe-Bodied!
The Blessed Lord said:
(47) I have graciously exercised Mine own Yoga Power to re¬veal to thee, O Arjuna, and to none other! this Supreme Primeval Form of Mine, the Radiant and Infinite Cosmos!
(48) No mortal man, save only thyself, O Great Hero of the Kurus! is able to look upon My Universal Shape-not by sacrifices or charity or works or rigorous austerity or study of the Vedas is that vision attainable.
(49) Be not affrighted or stupefied at seeing My Terrible Aspect. With dreads removed and heart rejoicing, behold once more My familiar form!
Sanjaya said to King Dhritarashtra:
(50) After speaking thus, Vasudeva, "the Lord of the World," resumed his own shape as Krishna. He, the Great-Souled One, appearing to Arjuna in the form of grace, consoled His fear-stricken devotee.
(51) O Granter of All Wishes (Krishna)! As I gaze on Thee again in gentle human shape, my mind is quieted and I feel more like my natural self.
The Blessed Lord said:
(52) Very difficult it is to behold, as thou hast done, the Vision Universal! Even the gods ever yearn to see it.
(53-54) But it is not unveiled through one's penance or scriptural lore or gift-giving or formal worship. O Scorcher of the Sense-Foes (Arjuna)! only by undivided devotion (commingling by yoga all thoughts in One Divine Perception) may I be seen as thou hast beheld Me in My Cosmic Form and recognized in reality and finally embraced in Oneness!
(55) Re who works for Me alone, who makes Me his goal, who lovingly surrenders himself to Me, who is nonattached (to My delusive cosmic-dream worlds), who bears ill will toward none (beholding Me in all)- he enters My being, O Arjuna!
Aum, Tat, Sat.
In the Upanishad of the holy Bhagavad Gita – the discourse of Lord Krishna to Arjuna, which is the scripture of yoga and the science of God-realization – this is the eleventh chapter, called "The Vision of the Cosmic Form. "
Published by Natha.net
From "God talks with Arjuna - The Bhagavad Gita", by Sri Paramahansa Yogananda
by Mihai Stoian, Yoga and Tantra teacher
Taken from Mihai Stoian's blog www.mihaistoian.net
Often we are confronted with life situations and dilemmas that we cannot solve from the mental perspective for the simple reason that we have the impression we need more data. At a closer look we realize that lost in the labyrinth of the mind, we find it very difficult to make a decision not because we do not have the information but because there are so many viewpoints upon the same information.
Yet the outcome is always clear in the end and sometimes we say: “I should have said that”, or “I should have done this”… And there are some blessed moments in life when we feel great, we feel in high spirits and we see things with a kind of eagle eye view, accurately getting all the details and in the same time having an extraordinarily broad perspective that allows us to take the right decision in no time.
From that perspective everything appears very clear, nothing is foggy or too complex anymore. The question often arises is “How can one access this eagle-eye view?”.
The answer is in a special state of consciousness that is only accessible in some specific conditions. Generally we can call this: the supramental state. In this supramental state the mental structure is transcended, the discursive mind (the producer of all the dualistic thoughts) is silenced because we no longer feed it with our attention. For many this supramental state might appear very difficult to obtain but with little effort we can easily realize (at least to a certain extent) the reality of this state which is “one blink away” from our normal states.
This supramental state is a state which is characterized by the awareness upon what is called Vijnana MayaKosha the energetic structure behind the inferior mind (the discursive mind manas). This is the energetic structure of your being responsible for integrating you in the universe, making the subtle connections that translate the individuality into universality in its right time and place. Everyone have this energetic structure otherwise we will disintegrate, be pulled apart by the universal forces that will “ignore” we are here and now. However not everyone has it awakened to the level of conscious awareness, for most people it is just a potential that is still to be consciously awakened.
Therefore the participation of our life to the universal life – in absence of the awareness upon this supramental level – is just at the level of survival and from our limited perspective life is governed by chance. When awakening the awareness at the level of supramental structure vijnana mayakosha we become aware of the permanent interaction that take place between the individuality and the totality, making everything coherent and synchronized. One simple characteristic of this Vijnana MayaKosha energetic level of our being is that it doesn’t depend on any particular aspect of life, it is that universal part of our being that is specifically designed for us. Normally this supramental structure is concealed to our normal level of awareness; it doesn’t appear directly in our perception because our awareness is completely locked into details, reducing all that is general and universal to something that is particular. For example when you stay here in this room, you stay here in this particular room. Now, what is particular about this room? Is it the address? Is it the color of the walls or the floor? Or is it the particular memories that we have attached to it?
In reality its just a mental box that we have created and associated all these particular attributes to. In reality its just a room like any other one but we see it not just a room, we see it as being this particular room only. Its universality is hidden behind the particular details attached to it by our inferior mind manas.
For us this is what we usually call reality and therefore we are “locked” into this particular room. And also because the senses are “shouting” all these details to us we unconsciously associate them with this particular room and create this reality in the mind. Thus the supramental level, from where the whole concept of being here was born, is covered by all the specific details and as a result we can’t perceive it at all. This will happen with all details of our life.
It is possible to realize the supramental state right now
Even if concealed by the details of reality, it is possible for anyone to realize this supramental state right now. Even while you are reading these lines you are formulating your ideas and fundamental experiences at the supramental level in the shape of some intuitions and intentions, but they get immediately “swallowed” at the mental level where you just assign them to the particular personality you have – you give them the personal flavor of your thoughts until everything becomes the very detailed personality, that cannot be distinguished from its basic elements.
Its is exactly like for example when you look at a painting but you cant see the colors because the colors are contained already in the images that create the whole painting. Therefore you can’t see only the red for example, you are looking at the particular painting as a whole. Analogically speaking this is how the supramental state is concealed in the normal daily states we have.
There are some elements related to the mental work that we usually ignore (and we pay a great price for this ignorance): the associative power of the inferior mind (manas) that combines the past experiences with the present perceptions to create a predictable future through projections. From this perspective we can say that the inferior mental structure is working with the domains of the past and future. In the absence of these two dimensions of time (past and future) the inferior mind is blocked because there is nothing to associate the perceptions from the present moment with. With this observation, you can easily understand why the present moment can be – when attentively observed – a genuine gate to the supramental state. When the inferior mind stops, the supramental state comes forth without difficulty.
At the supramental level you only see colors and the idea that will be represented as the painting. Therefore you cannot make a confusion between styles, between paintings and so on but the same idea can become a different painting when combined with another character, with other details from the past or other expectations from the future. For this reason at the supramental level we can see clearly, we can discern between fundamental ideas and we cannot be fooled with misleading details anymore.
In the present moment there is no room for the inferior mind, you are mindless and when you are mindless the supramental, which means what is beyond the mind, starts to appear
Another analogy that is often used in the spiritual tradition is the surface of a lake. When the water is disturbed by waves created by exterior factors or by inner movements of the water, then you can see the reflections of the light and of the sky on the water but they will only show the surface of the water with millions of sparks of shattered images reflected on it. When the water is very still, then we cannot see its surface anymore because we see only the bottom of the lake. The reflective surface apparently disappears disclosing what was concealed by the chaotic reflection in the agitated surface: the lake bed that supports the lake itself. Analogically the supramental is the lake bed that is supporting all the mental activities and it is concealed by the result of these activities.
Just like the surface of the water reflects entire images when it is still and shattered images when agitated, the inferior mind cuts the reality into small pieces proportionally with its degree of agitation. The result will be a very strange collection of bits of images and in order to make sense the mind is interconnecting these bits of information in previously learned patterns. And here is what is the result:
This is how our reality usually looks when subjected to the logical inferior mind. No wonder we often have this sensation that the world is an absurd theater. With such a system of processing the information … it is a miracle we can find the way home after being at work.In these conditions we are an easy prey to any attempts of manipulation or to induce any combination that “stimulates” a certain view upon reality in us. The only reliable solution to this is to silence the mind until the image reflected into it doesn’t need adjustments from the inferior mind because it is perfectly accurate. The silenced mind no long appears to us, as it becomes still.
There are many methods to silence the mind and they are quite easy to practice but the difficulty is to make the sacrifice of all the meaningless but apparently useful details that we keep in the inferior mind, these will vanish once the mind is still. For most people meditation and mental training fails in the moment they have to give up the content of the inferior mind, for many the inferior mind looks like the house of an old lady, filled with all the old stuff she cannot throw away because of their “emotional value”.
There is also another method for accessing (at least for a short while) the supramental state: the focus of the attention upon the present moment. As shown above the inferior mind exists only in the context of using the past and future as a basis of its associations. When focusing only upon the present moment, the inferior mind is still, locked in the golden moment of now. At that moment the supramental state shines. Training this focus upon the present moment even just for few moments a day will start to awaken the awareness at the level of the supramental structure. It will become easier to relate to this “beyond the mind” state since becoming familiar with it in moments of confusion, in moments we need an objective view upon things , the supramental state will be accessible with all its benefits.
(end of part one)
- (Past events)
by Elodia Thallon
From 28th December until 2nd January people from all over Europe gathered at Natha’s new yoga centre to participate in a camp dedicated to tantra and in particular to the practical application of tantric teachings in the daily life. The theme of the camp was “Polarity: The secret of effective transformation in life.”
Dimmed candle light penetrates the windows of a hall in the courtyard of Nordre Fasanvej 230; passionate music fills the air, enticing you to approach. Something is definitely happening here, something which seems very different to how most people in Denmark spend their Christmas holiday. Observing this place from the outside it would appear that my expectations of how it must be to celebrate the new year in a tantric environment are met, but there is only one way to find out what is really going on…
I step inside and am greeted by two beautiful hostesses. After signing in and being guided to my sleeping quarters on the 4th floor, I hastily descend and enter the hall which had so aroused my curiosity upon arrival. I walk in to another world.
Large paintings of ethereal women and passionately entwined couples are mounted on high walls draped with red and golden fabrics, people recline over colourful cushions, yoga mats and each other, and at the far end of the room a high altar bears a huge statue of Shiva Nataraja, performing his cosmic dance above us all. In this large, high ceiling-ed space they have managed to create an intimate, temple-like atmosphere, which awakes within my being a magical feeling of possibility. My sentiments are mirrored in those around me, whose states of happiness and elation are obvious, their smiles and laughter are infectious and help me comfortably ease into this new environment.
This year Natha Yogacenter moved its annual New Year’s Camp to Nørrebro, Copenhagen, to a location which is being touted as the home of one of the most ambitious spiritual projects ever undertaken in Denmark, and maybe even in the whole of Northern Europe. It is an enterprise between a range of different spiritual projects in which the main pillar is Natha – Scandinavia’s foremost school of tantra and yoga, which has gained the trust of the public and media alike as the authority on the original teachings of tantra and yoga.
“People who are interested in yoga or tantra visit us from all over the globe to find out what it is all about. They come to follow the courses or workshops, or they come to get alternative advice concerning their relationships, their sexual problems or other personal and spiritual issues or how to cure severe health situations and diseases. Or they simply just come to have a good time and to drink a cup of tea,” explains Emanuel, a member of the project group for the renovation of Concordia, as Natha’s new location is already aptly named.
Natha’s Tantric New Year’s Camp was a test project to find out how the space could be best exploited and organised before the actual opening of the centre, which will take place in May.
A unique thing about Natha’s tantric camps is the way the ancient tantric teachings are made accessible for the modern day man and woman. The teachers, Mihai and Adina Stoian – who have many years of experience in dealing with polarity – succeed time and time again to put the tantric teachings into practice, transforming high tantric principles and ideas into a field of individual spiritual experiences.
“When we read a book presenting the tantric teaching from a feminine point of view a man will feel thrilled and refreshed by it. It could be the revelation of his life. A woman on the other hand might find it inspiring or interesting but never more than that because it is already in her nature to be like this. The path of tantra looks very different for the man and the woman,” Mihai explains.
Polarity: creating attraction and dynamism
The title of this camp was: ‘Polarity: The secret of effective transformation in life.’
After a meditation to open the event, Mihai announced that for the next two days men and women should remain separate, refraining from all forms of communication and contact in order to build up polarity. During this time of separation we were to develop polarity within our own being in order to get to know ourselves better, thus enabling us to then be better able to polarise members of the opposite sex. I got the distinct feeling that this process didn’t sit too well with some of the participants and to top it all off, we would end the separation with a day of silence. To anybody not already in the know, it was immediately evident that tantra goes much deeper than its popularly associated depictions of the iconic Kama Sutra and its sexual positions. With an objective like transformation, it was sure that this camp was going to provide us with those challenges which arise through the processes of spiritual growth.
Polarity can be defined as the relationship between two terms which have the highest degree of opposition possibile and at the same time they condition each other, like the poles of a magnet, and it is one of the laws upon which the universe is built. As such, it is a cornerstone in the successful understanding and application of the teachings of tantra. Personally, I had always taken this notion for granted, considering it only insofar as those opposing forces of plus and minus, positive and negative, yang and yin, etc. What unfolded for me in the next six days far exceeded any expectations I had ever had of exploring this topic. I have quickly come to realise that the law of polarity is grossly misunderstood and wrongly underutilised by today’s society, which is the direct result of its being kept secret by few who have understood its importance in the life of the human being. Hence my seriously skewed view upon the subject.
By creating the right circumstances and by helping people to focus on the details of a subject, the participants seemed to open up to this new ‘tantric’ way of experiencing themselves, in accordance with their own pace and abilities, of course.
Here’s how newcomer, Peter felt about his experience: “Being a total beginner in this new world of tantra, what I learned most from this camp is how polarity between the genders really works. A person like me coming from the street is used to hearing all the time about equality between the sexes, but I realised that tantra goes beyond these preconceptions of our society and goes into depth with how things are in reality. After I gave up my own limited understanding about polarity I realised that when we appreciate the differences and specific qualities of being a man or a woman we create power, dynamism and attraction between us and not discrimination and conflict. This was a big revelation to me.”
One of the people involved with running the camp, and a seasoned tantric practitioner, Mironel , “The camp was very practical and straight as far as building polarity, both in the couple relationship, but also inside your own being. It was more about the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ about polarity compared to previous camps.”
To experience with awareness
During our time of separation the women had their lectures in one location while the men had theirs elsewhere. Amongst the many aspects about femininity which were discussed, the women learnt that even if they are incredibly curious about what is being discussed amongst the men, it is, quite frankly, none of their business and a curiosity as such only serves to their detriment, because, as Mihai explained, women have to stop their unconscious process of scattering themselves by being more interested in what’s going on in the lives of others, and instead they should focus their energy on themselves, getting to know themselves intimately and honestly.
These statements resonated strongly with me, bringing to attention the ease with which I get distracted by the external world, and how much energy I waste living other people’s lives. A shocking revelation to say the least! Fortunately there is a remedy for this innate tendency of the woman, to polarise herself through awareness. Mihai enlightened us on the subject, by explaining that women have the tendency to live their lives through experience, while men tend to live through awareness. This sounds all very black and white, but looking closely at the reality, I began to understand that this is indeed true. I could see how women embrace reality more through emotional involvement – experience - whereas men have a tendency to stand back from situations and observe them – awareness. Given that we are looking at these aspects from the point of view of polarity, the point is then to harmonise ourselves by balancing these two aspects within our being.
Lisa shares with us her experience of this: “During the camp I became more and more aware of how my unbalances are due to lack of polarisation and how simply by putting awareness on the problem – which is what women have to learn mostly – things are changing immensely. I feel very intimate with myself when I become aware that I am, and this greatly affects my connection to others. I feel more centered and secure and I can meet them from the heart. I feel that when I step out a bit I become more calm and can contain the whole situation intimately in my heart. And also the experience becomes more rich when I am not passionately rushing along with my feeling of it without really being aware of it.”
Holger explains further: “We were told how the masculine nature functions compared with the feminine one. Basically it is all about the ability to become aware and the ability to experience. For women it’s easy to experience life, it’s simply in their nature, but it is more difficult to become aware of what they experience and to remember it afterwards. As for us men we are naturally endowed with awareness and the ability to remember what we are about, but we are challenged when it comes to the art of experiencing life through our senses.”
One of the exercises for the men was therefore to experience their physical body and their breathing. Holger: “I have begun to notice how I very often put myself in bodily position which I honestly do not like or do not find comfortable. Or food which I usually consider delicious was not that delicious when I focused on the taste of it, instead of being in my mind! I learned somehow to become more intimate with myself and with the experience of myself.”
To find out more about what was going on in the arena of the masculine, I asked Mironel. He said: “The highlight of the advice for the men was to learn to live really by principles. This is what is building up polarity inside men. To orient every action that you take towards a fixed principle, this will build up a strong centre inside,” When asked what could be such a principle and what is your principle, he explained, “Well I even asked Mihai about what was his principle to get an idea myself. And he said that now he lives by the principle of love and that every action he takes should come from the heart, from love, but it had not been like that always. He had other principles before, like self-improvement and that then every action he took was to improve himself. By this I understood that the principle has to be practically applicable in your life. So right now my principle is self-giving and to help others. That every action I take must be to help other people in one way or another.”
Developing intimacy with ourselves
On the fourth day of the camp we did a technique for developing the state of intimacy. This involved sitting opposite another person, preferably of the opposite sex, and with eyes closed to awaken a state of intimacy within ourselves and then to take this state and to expand it in order to experience intimacy with the one before us and with our surroundings. A seemingly simple technique, this experience awoke a very profound state of consciousness inside of me. Afterwards I perceived a strong feeling of being unified with everyone in the room, quite literally as if we were one. I could then see from this new perspective how my usual state of consciousness is so full of illusion, how I am living with a false sense of separation from my environment and from everyone else. I could see how all my confusions, doubts, problems etc arise because of this false sense of separation. In these precious moments following the technique, I felt that we are all united in one sphere of consciousness which I knew then that this is really all that exists.
About admiration and adoration
Another way in which the game of polarity was explored in the camp was through the game of admiration and adoration. On the final night of the camp we performed a simple tantric ritual which was created to help the men learn to adore the women and the women to adore the men. The natural tendency is for men to admire women and women to adore men, therefore in order for each of us to better polarise ourselves and others we need to find the balance between these two aspects by learning to embrace that aspect which doesn’t come so easily to us. Therefore the ritual focused on the men’s adoration of the women and the women’s admiration of the men. Through the specific spheres of force of the Mahavidya, the 10 fundamental aspects of God, who are also known as The 10 Great Cosmic Powers, we were able to explore these notions of adoration and admiration. The women dressed themselves up as goddesses and then proceeded to select lots to decide which Maha Vidya they would be supported by for this ritual and also for the coming year. Then the men selected the same lots to decide which goddess they would adore, and they took their place before Her. After performing the ritual of adoration the men stood in a circle facing outwards and the women stood before them, and the practice of admiration took place.
Bibiana explains her take on adoration and admiration: “Sometimes the woman steals the initiative from the man, simply because he is too slow,” she laughs. “We as women have to learn to admire the man much more, which means giving him compliments, reflecting and consciously seeing the nature of his actions. We naturally adore him more than we admire him by following our first impulses blindly, and even though it looks beautiful from the outside, we are like flowers, not very aware of what we are doing!”
Mironel sees the situation like this: “My lover obviously adores me a lot. She’s the one cleaning and preparing for me before I arrive home, or putting small letters in my shoes. Very beautiful. It’s not so often though that she gives me compliments about things and so on. I on the other hand obviously admire her more than I adore her. Like telling her, ‘you really transformed from what you did there. Or since you started that action I see you changing very much in this and that way’. Yet there is nothing which makes her melt more than when I bring her chocolate and flowers or some other small surprise.”
From the outset it was obvious that my new year’s experience in Concordia was going to be something extraordinary. Personally I don’t believe that words can do justice to such an experience. The age old adage that tantra adheres to, ‘a gram of practice equals a ton of theory’ comes to mind. It doesn’t matter how much you hear, see or read on the topic, only by becoming involved and putting tantra into practice do you begin to understand what it’s all about. So, what really goes on at a tantric new year’s camp? There’s only one way to find out…
The future of a tantric school
What about the future? How does the future look for a school which is somehow challenging some basic belief systems and values in our society? I asked Sahajananda Porslund the PR executive of Natha Yogacenter about the future of a tantric school:
“The school (Natha) is developing rapidly. It is going through a period of expanding transformations and as such following the enormous growing interest for yoga, tantra and spiritual knowledge in our society. I think we will see ten times as many people active in our school within the next five years alone, and if it is so I am very happy that we have now got a much bigger place to serve this need.”
In this article we bring you a glimpse of the divine, as experienced by Farther Arseny, an orthodox Russian priest, while he was imprisoned in one of the prison camps in Russia, in the days of Stalin. The following excerpts are taken from the book "Father Arseny - Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father", which is a collection of letters, memoirs and stories told by people who knew Father Arseny, collection put together by "the servant of God, Alexander".
Father Arseny's description of his own death, followed by his coming back to life, is very similar to other out-of-the-body descriptions of yogis, experienced in states of deep meditation. In the case of Father Arseny, deep faith in God and complete surrendering to His will have opened for him the gates towards the beyond, towards the Supreme Reality.
"Father Arseny was a kind and simple man, with an honest, open face, a man who was not influenced by the convictions nor the habits of the world that surrounded him - a world impregnated with lies, self-interest, vanity and cruelty - a world that fashioned and warped so many of us into its own image and likeness. Father Arseny was uncompromising, courageous and unswervingly committed to what he believed to be right and fair. He did not fall victim to the cruel and passionate powers that had consigned him to heavy suffering and persecution, instead he was a man who chose freely his path toward God, in the name of God. He walked this path to the end with a rare dignity, selflessness, and simplicity. He always tried to find a path to the hearts of everyone, including some of the most fearsome and cruel people who surrounded him, ignite in their souls the spark of God, correct their ways and direct them to do good. He saved and supported many people through the most difficult periods of their lives, at times in their last hours on this earth."
"O Mother of God! Do Not Abandon Them!"
"This story is based on one Father Arseny himself retold to his closest spiritual children; I was one of them.
The reports I heard when I met Avsenkov, Sazikov, and Alexei (the student, who was by then already out of camp) helped me to describe what follows. These people were present when Father Arseny physically died in the barracks, and they witnessed how he came back to life.
When I finished writing all this, I felt I had to show the manuscript to Father Arseny. He read it, was silent for a long while and when he heard my question "Was it not really so?" he answered:
"I was granted great mercy by the Lord and by the Mother of God, who showed me the most sacred and magnificent treasure - that of the human soul, filled with faith, love and kindness. They showed me that faith will never die on earth. Many people carry it within them - some with ardor, others with a trembling respect, others again just carry a spark - and it is essential for them that a good priest help them as a pastor to turn this spark into an unquenchable flame of faith. The Lord showed me that the people who carry the faith, and especially the shepherds of human souls, must help fight for each person to the end of their own strength, until their last breath. The basis of the fight for a soul is love, kindness and helping your neighbour, help given not for one's own sake, but for the sake of one's brother. People judge faith and judge even Jesus Christ Himself, based on the behavior of others. It is also written: 'By your words you will be saved, and by your words you will be condemned' (Matthew 12:37) and, 'Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2).
"What happened to me was for me an enormous lesson and an admonition. It put me back in my place. Having lived in camps for so long, and having been saved so many times by the mercy of God, I began to believe that I was strong in faith. When I died the Lord and the Mother of God showed me that I am not worthy even to touch the clothes of many of those who are also in camps. I have much to learn from them.
"The Lord humbled me, put me in my place, the place where I should have been all along. He showed me my great unworthiness and granted me rime to improve myself, to correct my mistakes and errors. But have I? O Lord, help me!"
Having said this Father Arseny took my manuscript and returned it to me in a few days. Rereading it, I saw that he had changed a few words and added others. The manuscript he gave back to me is what is before you now.
Returning the manuscript to me, Father Arseny said, "Please, while I am alive, do nor show this to anybody. When I die - let people read it."
The exhausting hot summer with its clouds of mosquitoes had been replaced by a rainy, humid, and cold autumn. The ground was sometimes frozen and sometimes streaming with rivers of melted mud. It was damp and cold in the barracks, which made life particularly difficult. The clothing of the prisoners never could dry out, their feet were constantly wet and covered with blisters. A flu epidemic began. Every day three to five people died. It was now Father Arseny's turn. He could not rise from his bunk. His temperature was 104°, he had chills, he was coughing, he was congested, his heart refused to function.
In the special camp, during such epidemics of flu, patients were nor even put in the hospital. Only if your skull was cracked or if your leg or arm was cur off or broken were you taken to the hospital. Flu had to be dealt with within the barracks. The rule of the camp was - if you can stand, you work; if you can’t stand, then prove you are nor faking an illness. If you prove it, they will take care of you, if the authorities approve.
In the camp there is a plan as to how much work must be done by each prisoner. If he is made to do more more work than expected, the authorities are remunerated. Of course the prisoner himself did not even know it, but his work brought money to somebody. The authorities exist to keep to their plan, so there is no rime for softheartedness.
When a prisoner is sick or has a high fever, he has to ask permission to go to the infirmary. There they will take his temperature. If it is below 103°, he is sent back to work; should he argue, they will send him to the punishment cell, and on top of it the supervisor will hit him in the face to remind him of his responsibilities. If the fever is higher than 103°, he may stay in the barracks in bed, bur he must appear every day in the infirmary. If he becomes unconscious in the barracks, the medic will come to check his temperature and throw some medicine onto his bunk. Then he can stay in bed; but take care he doesn’t remain there after his temperature drops below 102°.
So this was the general rule: if you can walk, walk to work; don't use the camp doctors. They are usually hired by the government, and know their job. It doesn't take much for them to shout, "You're faking - off to work! If you don't I’ll send you to the punishment cell!" It is true that many of the prisoners had been doctors before they were arrested, but those were never allowed to practice in camp. They had to do physical work like anybody else, and particularly hard work at that.
On the third day after Father Arseny became ill, one of the doctors among the prisoners looked him over and called a lung specialist to discuss the case. They called Avsenkov over and told him, "The patient has pneumonia, complete exhaustion, a serious vitamin deficiency, and his heart is worn out. It looks very bad. We do not think he can last more than two days. We would need medication, oxygen, care. But under these circumstances, there is nothing we can do."
Father Arseny was almost an old man. He had lived in this camp for a number of years and over that time many people in the barracks had died and been replaced by new ones. Only perhaps twelve people were such "veterans" as he was. Everybody looked at these old-timers with surprise - how and why were these patriarchs still alive?
A medic was called in. He looked at Father Arseny from a distance of two meters, tossed some aspirin onto his bunk, gave Avsenkov a thermometer to check his temperature, saw that it was over 104°, and saying, "He has the flu," he left.
Father Arseny grew steadily worse. His friends could see that it was the end, that his time had come. They sent a man to the hospital to try and get help; his friends from among the criminals tried to soften up the supervisors; they managed to obtain some mustard powder for a plaster, and some raspberry jam; they brought anything they could. A messenger managed to get into the hospital with great difficulty, and with the help of some true friends he begged for help, for medicine, and explained what was going on with Father Arseny.
The doctor listened and asked the messenger, "How old is the zek, and how long has he been in this camp?" The messenger answered that the patient was 49 years old and had been in the camp for three years now.
The doctor answered, "Do you think that a special camp is a sanatorium, and the zeks in it should live until they are 100 years old? Your patient has beaten the odds, and it is time for him to go. He has lived long enough. There is no medicine for him, it is needed for the army."
The fever rose higher and higher, Father Arseny lost consciousness more and more often. Avsenkov tried to give him aspirin with raspberry jam to drink. Sazikov put a rag with mustard powder on his chest and back. The doctors among the prisoners helped as much as only they could the minute they returned from their labor; but Father Arseny grew worse and worse; at times he was nearly motionless. He was dying.
Death is a common occurrence in camp, everyone is used to it. But in this case everyone felt it in a special way. (From one end of the barracks to the other you could hear, "Father Arseny is dying! Piotr Andreyevich is dying!" For each one of them he had done something good, something kind. A most unusual man was dying; this was something the politicals as well as the criminals understood) - [This last sentence, in parentheses, I added to his memoirs already after Father Arseny's death; it was contributed by Sazikov and by Alexei - the student.]
Father Arseny prayed on and on, and felt the support and help of his friends. Gradually he grew silent.
"He is going," said someone. Father Arseny felt also that he was dying; the barracks, Sazikov, Avsenkov, Alexei, the doctor Boris Petrovich - he could see them no longer, everything had disappeared, had faded away ...
After some time Father Arseny felt an unusual lightness grip him and heard an absolute silence surrounding him. He grew calm. His difficulty in breathing, the mucus that had blocked his throat, the fever that had been burning his body, his weakness and helplessness all disappeared. He felt healthy and energetic.
Now Father Arseny stood by his own bunk, and on it he saw a thin, exhausted, unshaven, almost white haired man with pinched lips and half open eyes. Near the man he could see Avsenkov, Sazikov, Alexei and a few more of the prisoners whom he, Father Arseny, especially knew and loved. Father Arseny looked attentively at the man on the bunk and suddenly realized with amazement that the man on the bunk was himself.
His friends who were gathered near his bunk, the enormous barracks with its numerous population, the whole vast camp - Father Arseny was suddenly seeing it all with absolute clarity. He understood that just now he could see not only their physical appearance, but their souls.
Through the silence that was in him, he saw the movements of the prisoners, and although he could not hear them, he could somehow understand clearly what they were saying and thinking. With awe, he realized that he could see the state of each of their souls, but he knew that he was no longer with them in this world.
An invisible line separated him from this world, and he was unable to cross it. Now Sazikov brought a cup to "his" lips, and tried to pour something into his mouth, but could not. The water spilled over his face. Avsenkov and Alexei were talking about something with a few of the others. Father Arseny stood at the foot of his own body looking at himself and at the other people as though he were an outsider. And suddenly he understood that his soul had left his body, and he, the Priest Arseny, was physically dead.
Father Arseny turned around in wonder; the barracks was disappearing into darkness, but somewhere in the distance there was a blinding light.
Recollecting himself, Father Arseny started to pray and immediately was at peace; he understood that there was somewhere he had to go. He started walking towards the blinding light, but having made a few steps, he turned back into the barracks, and went up to his bunk. Looking at Alexei, Alexander Pavlovich, Ivanov, Sazikov, Avsenkov and the many, many others with whom he had shared the thorny path of suffering, he understood that he could not leave these people. He could not leave them.
He kneeled, and began to pray, begging God not to leave Alexei, Avsenkov, Alexander, Theodore, Sazikov and all of the others with whom he had lived in this camp.
"O Lord, O my Lord! Do not leave them. Help them and save them!" he prayed. And especially he asked for the intercession of the Mother of God, begging her in her mercy not to abandon the prisoners of the special camp.
As he prayed, he cried, begging God, the Mother of God, and all the Saints to have mercy on them all. But his prayer was wordless. And now the barracks and the entire camp appeared before his spiritual eyes in a very different way. He saw the whole camp with all its prisoners and its prison guards as if from inside. Each person carried within himself a soul which was now distinctly visible to Father Arseny. The souls of some were afire with faith which kindled the people around them; the souls of others, like Sazikov and Avsenkov, burned with a smaller but ever growing flame; others had only small sparks of faith and only needed the arrival of a shepherd to fan these sparks into a real flame. There were also people whose souls were dark and sad, without even the least a spark of Light. Now, looking into the souls of the people which God had allowed him to see, Father Arseny was extremely moved. "O, Lord! I lived among these people and did not even notice them. How much beauty they carry within them. So many are true ascetics in the faith. Although they are surrounded by such spiritual darkness and unbearable human suffering, they not only save themselves, but give their life and their love to the people around them, helping others by word and by deed.
"Lord! Where was I? I was blinded by pride and mistook my own small deeds for something grand."
Father Arseny saw that the Light of faith burned not only in the prisoners, but also in some of the guards and administrators, who, within the limits of what they could do, performed good deeds. For them this was extremely difficult, because it was very dangerous.
"What is all this for?" flew through the mind of Father Arseny. "What is it all for?"
He stood and observed the spiritual world of the people, the same people with whom he had lived, talked, or had only just seen. How surprisingly varied and spiritually beautiful this world appeared before him. People who in the crowd of others had seemed to Father Arseny to be spiritually empty and depersonalized, he now saw anew. He saw that they carried so much faith, so much inexhaustible love for others, did so much good and bore their cross without complaint. And he, Father Arseny, living among them, he, the Priest and Hieromonk Arseny, had not seen them, had not noticed them, had not connected with them.
"O Lord! Where was I? Pardon me and have mercy on me. I only saw myself. I was deluded, I did not have enough faith in people."
Bowing down, Father Arseny prayed for a long time. When he stood up he saw that he still was in the camp, but he no longer had his new perception of it; the bunks and the barracks had disappeared. Father Arseny stood at the gate of the camp. The sharp beams of the search lights were sweeping the region and by the gate stood a sentry. lt was night. The camp was asleep.
Father Arseny turned towards the camp, blessed it and prayed for all those still living in it.
"Lord! How can I leave them? How will I be without them? Do not leave all those who live here without your mercy. Help them!" And kneeling in the snow, he prayed.
It was cold, the wind threw clumps of snow but Father Arseny felt none of it. He prayed for a long time, then stood up and left the camp. He passed the sentries and walked along the road. Somewhere far away he saw a bright, inviting light and walked towards it. He walked easily and calmly. He passed the forest and the village and suddenly found himself in his own town, the one with his church, his very church, the church where he first served as a new priest, where he with the help of his many spiritual children had worked hard to restore its ancient beauty. "How can this be, my Lord? Why am I here?" he murmured, and entered into the church.
The first thing he saw was the familiar icon of the Mother of God, the ancient miracle-working one whose sorrowful face looked deeply and attentively at each who approached her. Everything in this church was as he had left it, but now it was full of people, even overflowing with people. The faces of the people praying were joyous and they looked at the icon of the Mother of God.
As Father Arseny walked towards the altar, the people squeezed right and left to leave a passage for him. He walked towards the altar with a light and happy step. Having entered the altar, he wanted to vest himself and began to remove his camp jacket for the service, but someone who was standing nearby said firmly to him, "Don't take it off! These clothes are also vestments for service."
Father Arseny looked at his padded cotton prison jacket. It was shining and blindingly white. He put on his priest's stole to begin serving and he was amazed. The altar was flooded with a bright light, the whole church gave out light, and the icons looked quite extraordinary on the walls; they seemed almost alive. There were many praying people; they were praying deeply and joyously.
Serving the liturgy, Father Arseny saw that together with him served the Hieromonk Herman, the priest Amvrosy, the Deacon Piorr and several more priests. And he, Father Arseny, knew all those who served with him now. At the side of the altar quietly stood Bishops Jonah, Anthony, Boris, his spiritual father and friend Bishop Theophil, and they all looked at him with joy.
"Lord," thought Father Arseny. "They all died a long time ago, and now they are here. It is so good to be here together!"
Father Arseny served and his soul was full of joy; prayer filled all his being and uplifted him.
Blessing the people praying with him he understood that he knows them all as well. They are his spiritual children, his parishioners, and others he had met in different places, in different camps: he had shared his life with these people. And all these people were praying for someone, they were asking for something. And looking more carefully at them, he realized that just like the priests serving with him and the bishops standing in the altar, all these people had died, some a long time ago and some more recently.
"O, Mother of God, how can this be?" thought Father Arseny. He did not wait for an answer, but he entered deeply into the service, into prayer. As he served the liturgy he felt that he was burning with joy and inner warmth. He received Communion, finished the liturgy, and knelt before the icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir asking her to forgive all his sins.
"O, Mother of God, the Heavenly Father has called me to judgment, because I have died. Do not leave me; be my intercessor before your Son. Do not leave me. I put my trust in You: I am an unworthy sinner." As he prayed for the forgiveness of his own sins, he also begged the Mother of God not to leave all those who were still alive. He prayed for his spiritual children, for the prisoners with whom he had lived and who were still in camps. He prayed for Alexei (the student), for Avsenkov, for Sazikov, for Abrosimov, for Alchevsky and for many, many others. He lost the concept of time and prayed so hard that he felt that all those praying in this church prayed with him; repeating again and again, "O, Birthgiver of God! Do not forget them, the longsuffering!" He cried, he sobbed and tears flowed all over his face.
Father Arseny's heart ached and was tight in his chest - how would they survive, all those who were there? Again he asked the Mother of God not to forget them, whose suffering is beyond what man can bear ... And suddenly, he heard a voice, a clear extremely gentle, but firm clear voice, saying, "The time of your death has not yet come, Arseny. You must serve people some time longer. God is sending you back to help His people! Go and serve. I will not leave you."
Father Arseny lifted his head, looked at the icon and saw that the Mother of God seemed to have come down from the icon and stood in its place. He fell on his knees at her feet and could only repeat, "Mother of God, do not leave them. And have mercy on me a sinner!" And again he heard her voice:
"Lift up your face, Arseny, look at me and tell me what you want to tell me, tell me your thoughts!"
Father Arseny lifted his face, looked at the Mother of God and, overcome by her kindness and her unearthly greatness, bowed low, and said:
"Mother of God, your will be done, yours and the Lord's, but I am old and ill. Will I be able to serve these people as you, the sovereign one, want me to?"
"You are not alone, Arseny, there are many people serving me. You will serve alongside them. And, together with them you will help many. God has just shown you that He has many people helping Him. He has shown you the souls of the people who live in the camps. Faith does live in many of them, faith and love. You are not alone in the kindness you bestow. Go, serve me. I will help you!" And Father Arseny felt the hand of the Mother of God touch his head.
Father Arseny arose, took off his priest's stole, bowed to all those gathered, the priests and the people, and saw once again that he knew them all, and that he had accompanied most them to their eternal rest; his life was in some way tied to each of them. He approached the Royal Doors, knelt, arose, and asked the congregation gathered there not to forget him in their prayers, and walked to the door of the church. As he was walking by them, the people blessed him. He came out of the church with his soul overflowing with joy. It was easy to walk. He was walking towards the camp, towards his barracks. The forest, the road, the houses, all raced by him. He passed the sentries, entered his barracks, walked to his bunk, saw his body on it, with the people gathered around it. He lay down on his bunk and heard someone say, "It's all over! He is getting cold. Our Father Arseny has died. It's almost five o' clock, and will soon be time for reveille; we will have to inform the supervisors."
Someone added, "We all have been orphaned: he helped so many of us. I fought against God my whole life, but he showed Him to me. He revealed Him by his own actions. "
Father Arseny sighed deeply - it surprised them all and it frightened many - he calmly said, "I was in my church, and now you see the Mother of God has sent me back to you!" And nobody felt that these words were strange, although they were still amazed at his return. Some two weeks later Father Arseny was able to get up. Everything seemed strange to him: life in general and people, all looked different. Each person wanted to help, each brought him a little bit of his own ration. Even the Fair One brought some butter and gave it to Sazikov for Father Arseny.
Father Arseny got up, came to life. The terrible illness left him. The Lord and the Mother of God had sent him to serve people, had sent him back into the world.
By Vajrananda Nielsen, teacher of Natha Yogacenter
It is amazing how our lives change all the time.
He lives in his own development, with his own conditionings and passions. Sometimes life is bright and sometimes not so bright. Good times and bad times alternates, decreases and increases. But at the same time there is something that speaks further inside. Maybe he has not time to listen to it in the city and in the life of his, so quick and contracted.
But that thought came, if he should not soon go on a longer retreat. He consulted a clairvoyant astrologer about other things, but this thought about retreat came up again as a possibility: It would be really good to do it in July, August and September. But not if it was in order to hide from something. Okay, but it seemed quite unlikely that he would have time for that, and he imagined a summerhouse in the sommervacation in Denmark. Things contracted more in his life and he then send a letter to his spiritual master Gregorian with a lot of questions and among other things - if he wasn’t soon ready to start a retreat for about a month or so?
“Yes and why not for two month and why not go to Sirnea in Romania near Brasov?” was the prompt answer.
From the receiving of that letter everything was arranged, and where before he went about in his own little hesitating world, life was all of a sudden full of perspective. His room in the Ashram Prema was easily rented out and with a nice renter, - a friend found a cheap flight, his work consented and on top, he had an invitation to visit Arte Diem in Arcus, an art camp on the way (also in Romania).
As the days went by, his consciousness realized that his master’s eyes once more in this life was upon him: it was clear that now everything that happened was a matter of GRACE. All these synchronicities although his mind is a fearful mind, hesitating, doubt things……it was all put to shame, he was carried there.
He was, for example, picked up in the airport by car by Artemisa and taken to the library in the gypsy area. Was helped and the connection to Sirnea established. You need legitimation and proofs of the invitation. He was offered a place to sleep etc and etc. so many kind people full of hospitality. Beautiful once again to be in Romania. The tender summer air caresses his cheeks in a lighter, finer way than in Denmark. So much help and heart in Romania.
In Arcus the art camp was kept in and around a castle and he met with many nice people and got inspiration for his own art camp in
Denmark. But he also met with Oana, who was able to help him up into the mountains.
Sirnea is not easily reached. You have to buy food for one and a half month and there is no big shop in Sirnea. But again GRACE smiled. Oana had him sleep in the yoga center of Brasov and picked him up the next morning with a couple of friends. A man (Tudor) that had a jeep drove him out to shop, filled the hole of the back of his car with food and then off they went to Sirnea.
No cars normally go there, you walk, the roads are too bad. But this car did and drove him all the way together with the food. Oana offered that he might live in her house alone if he wanted!
There he was at his destination saying hallo to Dorin, the ashram leader with the 15 plastic bags of food standing in the grass.
It almost felt intruding to the ashram and the silence and beauty of this place. Cares and plastic bags does not belong here.
And everything had been going so quickly, new people, new sleeping place, shopping, on the road without knowing where to go……..
Dorin showed the place. The little room up the stairs and to the left, almost like a monk’s cell. One little window, one single madras and a place for cloth, - that was all.
Dorin showed the basement in the kitchen where the food probably could last some time. Then the rules and conditions for living in this ashram: 8 hours of sublimating and transmutation yoga, - here you don’t fall asleep, - and in the night you stand on your head in order to obtain conscious sleep! Or you can make 24 hours prayer, was also an option...
Then they took 4 buckets and Dorin showed him the way to the river. There is not necessarily water everyday, but maybe hot water once a week for a warm bath. The river is a place where has been build small cement place. The cows come here to drink. Therefore you have to take a metal device so that you get pure water. You might also wash yourself here.
Walking back it is 500 meters with 2 buckets full of water.
Dorin gave him a picture of Ramana Maha Rishi when he felt his love for this master. They talked little and soon the Dane was alone in his room unpacked. Full of aspiration for a good retreat. (There had been the observation that he did not have any resentment any conflicts with anybody in this new period of going to Sirnea, like everything also had been arranged in this way). Finally, finally just to SIT and LISTEN inwards, finally, finally the PEACE and the surroundings necessary for him……
And then the plan was made. It is important to keep up a certain discipline, some timescedules, and some goals. Every Friday a meditation with Mihai on the Self two hours, that was clear. And the model from the Danish silent retreat was also to be used. But he had to cook food and wash cloth and his body…and the yogatapas on manipura of 2 and a half hour….”what if I do not shave, then I will save time…”
It amounted to sit minimum three times three hours every day, - then he could always increase….He did not want to look in the mirror and no eye contact. The last tapas showed to be difficult in that small kitchen and because Romanians are so very helpful cooking for you. The whole house was keeping Mauna (silence) all the time.
Full of zest and expectation he sat on the madras and started immediately.
Relax especially around the heart. If your mind (thought storms) gives you problems focus upon sense impressions: Sounds, smells, touch, taste and sight, but do not travel with these senses, but try to use them to become present with, here and now, and focus it in the heart.
There is a staircase on the other side of the wall and 8 rooms with a yogi in each.
All is quite, but everybody needs to go up and down this staircase and he hears their bare feet on the floor in the hall, - and the staircase makes sounds on many of the stairs.
Outside it is the area of the cows. They grass very close to the house and you can hear them chewing and breathing and each has a bell on. This is the first sounds he hears. The cowbells are heard near and far and sometimes he doesn’t know if it is cows from another hill, from other cows.
As soon as the mind is subjected to this “sit still compressor”, it reacts against. It refuses to be locked up in a room, to sit still and do nothing. Patiently it has to be brought back to the heart over and over. But it fights and returns and comes back with new attracting perspectives.
His Enneagramstudy and the personality type of his are really shown here to be helpful. How the mind operates! All the scenarios from his type is coming up, but he knows them very well and thus he is able to stay more and more quite in all the storms, in the eye of the storm. Already in the first days a certain presence starts to settle down. Soon a love for all the sounds, noises and bells starts to warm him. Soon there is an expectation and up on the toes listening to: When will the next sound come and put him into the presence? He begins thus to love the surroundings. And then who is it, that moves and determines all that goes on? Is it not Siva, God the Father? An experience of getting much closer to Him, finally again to be able to talk with Him in the heart and to feel his presence, - to want only to be in his room, to be with Him again, now, quickly back to the room, if he has been out, the longing after HIM, this sweetness in the heart, that everything is completely as it should be right now, in this moment, that he is the good, the kind, who just matures us to love through all the happenings, that the difficult things in life is the maturing itself, in all and everything, is the way to His all embracing love. To always have this faith and trust in His GRACE.
The first 14 days ended with a kaya kalpa in his room (turning it into a completely dark room). It is easy. The window is small and the gaps in the door are covered with the blue blanket. 3 days in darkness, the Sufis say, that then you knows your inner Guru (the one that shines in the darkness). Fresh cow milk from the so beloved cows is bought from the neighbour. But to pea and to drink has to be done in the kitchen and out on the old-fashioned toilet.
The darkness intensifies the experience of presence of the Divine inside and throws happiness: the room becomes a castle to him, a golden castle, everything moist with the eternally, fresh presence and CONSCIOUSNESS. It lives in himself, in the wall, in the madras, in all the sounds, in all the sounds from all the other beings that live so close to him, but seldom is seen. Beloved beings that comes and goes on his staircase, every body’s staircase. The staircase is golden, every bare foot on the floor, sound of morning wet feet that let go of the under layer, consciousness is closely related with all the movements and this is just the outer. The inner silence is indescribable, full, empty, empty, now more, much more room between all the inner images and thoughts, - his life as it has been passes revy, as with the people dying. He remembers people and places he has been, but that his contracted consciousness (in the busy life of the city) has forgotten, - dear human beings, that he would now want to reach out for and embrace with all his heart….But also this is the Mind, and carefully, tenderly it all is guided back to the Hearts Oneness and Goodness.
All the birds back in the nest. It is like the shoes at the bottom of the staircase. When all the ashramits are home, all the shoes is in the nest and a
SILENCE prevails. It is happiness. This is why God choose to put him here and not alone in Oanas house. You are just light in the darkness among other stars. You are just light, pure consciousness, pure BEING.
When the body needs a little rest and he moves, the need to go and pee comes, not before. It is as if this soaring towards God gives continence in the watering. But he has to go down the staircase and out in the light. Opens the door, the hand protects against the strong light. It is completely white from 100 sheeps just outside the door. It is an everyday day in Sirnea, but for him they are overwhelming in their beauty, these animals….Go carefully through them and to the toilet. He has a little stick to put under the door so that it remains open when he sits down. At every trip out here from the dark room, from his minds thought storms, he has forgotten this overall beauty that prevails here:
We are in a valley, in a big “cup”, surrounded by mountain peaks to all sides. In front, and which he observes now from his sitting position, are the Sphinx-mountains. There are always new things to see in this landscape. And behind are the Kings-Crones-Mountains. The clouds and the whether changes quickly in the mountains (like the mind in the room) colors, nuances, forms, rivers, wind, rain and everything is my Tripura Sundari.
A couple of cows pass by the door of the toilet very close and take a look at him sitting. How blessed I am, he thinks. And often the thoughts go to his master in utter gratitude, - Gregorian.
In the kitchen there is always small fresh bunches of flowers at all the small pictures of Grieg. He goes there to drink some cow milk from the fridge. Alexandra (who often cooks food for him and to whom he is very grateful and who often is the one that put these flowers for the master) and Iulia, are the ones that loves him thus with flowers.
He hurries up to the cell, preferably not meeting too many other impressions (as he is in his kaya kalpa), Back to the room of void. This is the way the day goes: Outside the beauty and love of Tripura Sundari and inside the room the void of Siva. He oscillates between the two...
After the Kaya Kalpa it nocks on his door. It never does, we are collectively keeping mauna. It is Dorin with two posters. One of Gregorian and one of Shivananda. Humbly he asks if he can put them on the inside of the door. Yes please do! It is overwhelming after these three days of darkness. What state is Grieg having on this poster?
The Divine GRACE! When Dorin left, he sits down watching the two enormous masters on the door. Especially the Divine Grace state of Grieg and tears run.
Two saktis invites him down to the river to get washed. He said yes. There had to be a meaning with him being placed I these unlimited beautiful surroundings. Down in the bottom of the forest the river runs. They walked in silence without talking, without knowing anything about each other, like blank papers. What a peaceful situation. How easy. Nothing to deviate from the minds 1000 stories. Just him and two Rumanian women and then this vital nature. He understands the nature. It reminds him of Denmark when he was a child. The purity, untouched nature, the vitality. Anahataland: you are loved, loved, loved. Butterflies and insects, sheeps, horses. Peasants, men and women shouts to each other from different hills to hear news. Shouting to the cows, nicknames….today Sakti opens up to him and leads him through her nature…..
What is there, that I can absorb it in my heart
What is there, that I can burn it, full of an impetuous enthusiasm,
What is there, that I can drink it, since I am drunk
Intoxicated by the ecstasy of the divine enlightenment.
Some poems from Kashmir by this master, Abhinavagupta inspired very much. And they help his aspiration to soar high. The understanding of both him and of the few things he read was, because of the silence, very, very deep.
It was no longer necessary to put the questions “Who am I?” Or to check if now again it was just imaginations or daydreaming from past or present. It became more and more easy and deeper and deeper to find silence. Still there were certain days and hours where the same thoughts of fixation would come up. Some of them are more rooted than others and almost brings sweat and agitation with it. Sometimes they would come almost before he started to sit. It needs again the patience and a lot of LOVE.
The three hours in the morning: ATMAN CITTAM = awareness, attention of the soul. Here the sounds are good to use. A flame immerges in the chest. Like a candle. It becomes sharper, clearer as days and prayers increase in intensity.
The three hours in afternoon: MANTRAM CITTAM. Awareness that you are a divine energy on its way to God on one of his beams. Sakti.
The three hours in the evening: CAITANYAM ATMAN. Awareness of the will of God, the Divine and Absolute, Macrocosmic Reality.
Atman seeked realized on three different paths.
Amazing how the sensitivity increases. He thinks upon something or somebody and immediately it is there. A human being, a God or Goddess, a scene from his life, an idea, a state. He has become transparent, has become the perfect mirror, the inner witness. Moments where he just is!
Once he was not able to practice yoga. He used every moment to try to be present with the prayer of the heart:”Lord Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me, a believer!’
Then that flame in his chest came for the first time in his chest and he also saw it in the others! It was a state of fearlessness, inner peace, energy, strength and joy, courage by knowing who you are.
He is no longer tied by the room and the sounds. God is everywhere!
When he practices his tapas on the hill, God is in the leaves that falls, in each their rhythm, in each their place, in the watching of their flight, - and in the swallows that flies so virtuous. How God can move in many ways! The sovereign master behind all! He looks now only for Him, HE is the breath, the body, the grass, the sky, - EVERYTHING. And in this is his peace. This is the GRACE, to be allowed to experience this, is GRACE.
His life was before Sirnea not anything to be super happy about. He often felt alone.
And now he lives in a tiny little room in a house with people he never speaks with and hardly knows. Knows not even their names, and he is just so happy, so happy and in love with everything around him and in himself. How can God be so omnipresent, potent and all-knowing?
God makes naulis. God is heard like a river down there in the forest. God is barking like a dog tied to a chain. Look how he flies in the air. He hears HIS footsteps on the staircase, silent and sweet.
He is just a witness to his own movements, to the sounds God makes in the stomach. He is the most blessed child right now, on this beautiful earth!
There is a fly. A real big fly that humming comes rushing (approximately once every hour) in through the open window. He always salutes it. It just comes to check if everything is well and if he is doing his tapas. Yeah it actually comes to wake him up. It never sits down to rest, no, it just flies through the room and out again.
There are three fruit trees that he eats from. Nice plumes. He collects these fruits for the house also when he practices his naulis. Three days after (and after he just had written in his dairy that here was no danger in this nature) he comes back and finds all the trees ruined totally. A bear has been on visit, a hungry bear, for it also took a sheep. The neighbor had been sitting up the whole night and howled like a wolf to scare the bear away. Dorin asked the Dane not to be out after it got dark!
When people come here to live a couple of weeks, 7 days, a couple of days, they come with very serious faces. They are clearly new. It is so beautiful to watch their faces getting relaxed, become calm, beautiful again – like they always should be! Like when they sleep at night and is totally relaxed, like children! That is the natural state! And the purity of Sirnea and the silence in the hearts, provides pure and relaxed faces. And then the deep inner joy that is felt by all from having again found themselves! It is a happiness that is free and pure, it does not cost anything, does not have to live up to anything, it is spontan and simple, as when we were children. It is not puffed up and doesn’t show off. For there is nobody here that has cravings or manipulates you. You have been left to yourself and your inner space. Your inner state is always happy and for him it was now proven, - nothing else is needed!
The last week is the most difficult one. The mind and the desires become again alive. They now that they are soon free. So the temptations are big to say yes to invitations from women. Don’t you come and visit me, or you can shorten your retreat, etc. Or just a couple of visitors that has bought lots of fruits and foot. Big watermelons and juicy grapes. The footresourses of his is almost used and there haven’t been fruit like this for long time. The visitors are generous and give and it tastes so good. But with it the mind starts running. It wants to talk, to socialize, embrace…..
But again he gets the wild “bird” in its proper nest……
The last days the weather is strong. Rainy, thunder, and then the last two days: Just very, very quite. Everybody except Simona has gone home. One of the people that live here permanent comes back the last days. The sky is completely blue and it is so quite, so quite. He has changed cosmic power. To Bhuvanesvari. Goddess of the Space. Sirnea shows itself in this way.
He is on the highest point of the valley today. A Rumanian flag is raised for the heroes of Sirnea. Three horses are grassing on the hill under. It is as if Sirnea wants to show herself in all her glory. It is God summing up his retreat the last days. It is an overwhelming silence. Today is painted on the sky the next stages of deepening to come. That’s how it is. Everything has as an ending the next beginning in it, the next chapter.
Next morning he is up early. Walks with his few things over the mountain brim on his way away. Said goodbye to the dog, the cows, the fly, the horses, the sheep’s and the people. The two women at the neighbors’ farm say that it will rain. We say goodbye. It is a cloudy and foggy day. A contrast to the last days.
Walk the 4 km. to the bus. And who stands there? The boy of the neighbors of 9 year old. His life is here and mine goes away. Say goodbye to him. We have a kind of mutual understanding without words. On a walk of silence I enjoyed his young and free being. The neighbors know that we do not speak.
I break my Mauna and say goodbye or was it LA REVEDERE?
Summer 2006, July, august and first of September.
- (Spiritual Masters)
Gurdjieff - the Unknown Man
by Kenneth Walker, M. D
The Russian philosopher P. D. Ouspensky illustrated the difficulty of recognizing a teacher of esoteric knowledge, with two stories. The first told of a German who journeyed to India in search of a guru and returned without having found one. He had not realized that the native servant who looked after him while he was in that country was the man for whom he was seeking. The second story referred to a dealer in parrots living in Bordeaux, who, quite unbeknown to his fellow townsmen, was a teacher of esoteric knowledge.
I shall assume that esoteric knowledge exists and shall discuss Ouspensky’s statement that teachers of this knowledge are usually difficult to recognize. I shall do so because the two stories with which he illustrates his thesis are of great interest when they are taken in conjunction with Ouspensky’s account of his own search for a teacher.
Even as a schoolboy Ouspensky was interested in the idea of the miraculous, and as he grew to manhood his interest increased. When he was working as a journalist on the staff of a Moscow paper, his desk was stacked with books with such strange titles as Life After Death, Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie, The Sincere Narrations of a Pilgrim, and many others of a kindred nature.
A few years later he began experimenting on himself in the hope that by altering his state of consciousness he would be able to gain knowledge of a kind different from that which one acquires in an ordinary state. The difficulty was to discover how this change of consciousness could be brought about.
He knew that drugs such as opium and hashish produced a change and experimented with hashish. But the method was unreliable and he soon became dissatisfied with it, although it allowed him “to look over the garden wall,” as he called it. It was clear that something was missing, something that he needed before he could go any further with his experiments in changes of consciousness.
“I know it is not a dream,” he stated. “In these experiments and experiences there is a taste of reality which cannot be imitated and about which one cannot make a mistake. I know that all This is there. I have become convinced of it. Unity exists. But how to link what is above with what is below?”
Something, as Ouspensky rightly said, was missing, something had to be known before he could go further. “I feel,” he continued, “that a method is necessary.… And more and more often I begin to think that this method can be given by those schools of yogis and Sufis about which one reads and hears.” (P. D. Ouspensky, A New Model of the Universe.)
He allowed nothing to stand in the way of finding a method by which he could overcome the difficulties he had encountered, and a few years later he abandoned work on a book he was writing and went East. This was in 1913, an unpropitious date for such a journey as his, for the Kaiser was displaying a bellicose spirit and was building an ominously large navy for Germany.
In 1914 the storm broke over Europe, and without having had time to find what he had been seeking, Ouspensky was compelled to hurry home, comforting himself with the thought that he would return to the East. Two years later and in the most unlikely quarter - the old city of Moscow in his own country - he discovered what he had failed to find in Ceylon and India. He found Gurdjieff. Or did Gurdjieff find him? It is difficult to say. Gurdjieff had a wonderful capacity for giving the appearance of accident to what he had deliberately contrived.
What happened in Moscow in 1916 is narrated in Ouspensky’s later book In Search of the Miraculous. He recounts how, while he was giving lectures in Moscow on the subject of his prewar Eastern journey, a friend persuaded him to meet a certain Caucasian Greek, the leader of a Moscow group that was engaged in various “occult” studies and experiments.
“Persuaded” is the correct word, for on principle Ouspensky was suspicious of groups engaged in parlour yogi-tricks. He was therefore inclined to be extremely critical of this group and its teacher, but eventually he agreed to meet him at a small café. In his posthumous book he writes:
I remember this meeting very well, I saw a man of oriental type, no longer young, with a black moustache and piercing eyes, who astonished me first of all because he seemed to be disguised and completely out of keeping with the place and its atmosphere…. And this man with the face of an Indian rajah or an Arab sheik, whom I at once seemed to see in a white burnous or a gilded turban, seated here in this little café where small dealers and commission agents met together, in a black overcoat with a velvet collar and bowler hat, produced the strange, unexpected and almost alarming impression of a man poorly disguised, the sight of whom embarrasses you because you see he is not what he pretends to be, yet you have to speak and behave as though you did not see it. He spoke Russian incorrectly with a strong Caucasian accent; and this accent, with which we are accustomed to associate anything apart from philosophical ideas, strengthened still further the strangeness and unexpectedness of the impression.…
He sat on a sofa, with one leg tucked beneath him, drinking black coffee from a tumbler, smoking and sometimes glancing at me. I liked his movements, which had a great deal of a kind of feline grace and assurance; even to his silence there was something which distinguished him from others.
I have quoted this account of Ouspensky’s first meeting with Gurdjieff at length because I want to compare his first impressions with my own on meeting Gurdjieff, some thirty years later. Not that our situations were similar, for whereas Gurdjieff was a stranger to Ouspensky, I was familiar with both his ideas and his methods and had been studying them for a quarter of a century. Although I had never met him, I had long ago accepted him as a great teacher. But we all have our preconceived notions of what a great teacher should look like and how he should speak and behave, and Gurdjieff did not fit into the pigeonhole I had prepared for him.
When I met him in 1948 Gurdjieff was living in a flat in Rue du Colonel Reynard, near the Arc de Triomphe, Paris. It was a small flat suited to the needs of a small French bourgeois family, and its furnishings were not to my taste.
We - and by “we” I mean those many people who were now studying his ideas - were crowded into a tiny drawing room and were either perched uncomfortably on small wooden stools or else were squatting on the floor, listening to a reading from a manuscript entitled Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.
The words were difficult to follow, and as sentences sometimes sprawled inelegantly over a quarter of the page of the manuscript from which one of us was reading, my attention often wandered toward the door leading into the lobby.
What kind of man would push open that glass-panelled door before the reading had finished? I had been led to expect that he would eventually join us, and it was as had been foretold. At the end of an hour’s reading the door moved forward a foot, stopped there for a full minute, and then was opened wide to admit Gurdjieff.
He stood there, looked around the room, his dark eyes taking everybody in, and then sat down on the chair that had been left vacant for him. Oriental, yes, for even without the tall kalmak that he was wearing nobody could have mistaken him for a Westerner. “Dark piercing eyes” as Ouspensky had described? No, they were dark, but kindly rather than piercing, eyes that noted everything without staring, eyes which were very much alive, but not piercing. What struck me more forcibly than the eyes was the height of the brow and the fact that although Gurdjieff was said to be over eighty years of age there was not a line on his face.
Gurdjieff believed very strongly in the good effect that eating together has on personal relationships, and the sharing of meals, cooked by himself, was a daily ritual in his flat.
It was in the small dining room into which we crowded an hour later that I was able to examine him more closely, and as I had the good fortune to sit directly opposite him, separated only by the breadth of a narrow table, I was in an excellent position to follow his every movement. And some things unusual in these movements immediately struck me.
Here was an old man, and old men are inclined to hesitate and to fumble; not only were these signs of old age entirely absent, but Gurdjieff possessed an extraordinary control over his body.
He was preparing a salad for us and was cutting slices off a cucumber, fishing for small onions in a bottle, dividing up gourds, and he was doing all this with the assurance of a skilled surgeon engaged in his favorite operation. The whole work of preparing the salad was done without one false or unnecessary movement. It was also done speedily, but without any vestige of hurry.
Nor was this the only evidence of his mastery over his body, for I had already noticed his movements as he entered the drawing room and again when he had preceded us into the dining room at the end of the reading. He was a heavy man with a very protuberant abdomen, yet he had moved with the quietness and smoothness of a cat. A cat, yes; Ouspensky had been right in talking about this “feline grace,” and although thirty-odd years had passed, his movements were still pleasing to watch.
The meal proceeded. It resembled an oriental feast rather than a European dinner. The dishes were strange to me and I often had no knowledge of what I was eating. The vodka was fiery and, to one who never took more than an occasional glass of wine, exceedingly difficult to swallow. I had been warned, however, that the toasts were obligatory, and knowing, as I did, that one had to pay for everything one received, I gulped it down bravely.
Gurdjieff spoke in a mixture of English, Russian and French, and even if I had not been obliged to swallow vodka I would have had difficulty in understanding him. But what an astonishing man he was!
Now that the kalmak had been removed, the full splendor of his clean-shaven head was fully revealed to me. It rose to an immense height above the level of his ears, reaching its zenith halfway between the frontal region and the occiput. His olive-coloured face was as smooth, forceful and serene as that of the Lohan figure which had impressed me so at the recent Chinese exhibition in London. The dark eyes rested on me momentarily from time to time, and in that brief glance he seemed to have absorbed all that there was to be learned about me.
“But why,” he suddenly asked of me, “why do you not eat more? Do you not like the food? Here, I give you something very special,” and he handed me, between finger and thumb, a small piece of dried sturgeon.
“I like it very much,” I answered him, “but you see I have just arrived from England and - ”
“Ah, yes, in England everyone is starved. What is it named?” A word was suggested by somebody farther down the table. “Yes, they are rationed. They pick here and pick there,” and he enacted so faithfully a sparrow picking up crumbs that I seemed to see it hopping about among the dishes. He was an excellent mimic, and he used the gift frequently in revealing to us our own personalities.
Dish followed dish, toast followed toast, and finally to my immense relief, came coffee and cigarettes. There had been a great deal of laughter and too much to eat and drink, but all the time he had been watching us and teaching us, even while joking. Nothing had happened accidentally; everything had been deliberately contrived by him. With a few words, a gesture, or by the mimicry of some personal peculiarity that someone was trying vainly to hide, he had been showing us to ourselves.
I fully realized at this, my first, meal in his flat the futility of any pretence. It was utterly useless to pretend to be otherwise than one was. “You are turkey cock trying to be peacock,” he had said to somebody during the meal, and when I glanced at the person I realized how fitting the remark was. So, apparently had the person to whom it had been made, for his manner immediately changed.
That was the first of many visits to the flat in the Rue du Colonel Reynard, and of many meals in the company of those who had come to Paris to learn wisdom from the man whose silence “was unlike the silence of anyone else.”
What varied company it was that squeezed, elbow to elbow, around his table: supporters from America, including the widow of a world-famous tenor; English and French doctors; businessmen and lawyers; a British peer; Americans, British, French and Russians of different classes, education and upbringing, and all of whom were held together by their mutual respect for this man who seemed to radiate power from his person.
No one can be so different from his fellow men or can flout convention so freely as Gurdjieff flouted it, without arousing hostility. All sorts of things were said about him: that he cast a hypnotic spell over his followers and fleeced them (and in a sense this was true); that he was a black magician and an irreligious and unscrupulous man. It is quite understandable that such reports as these should have been spread, for he was utterly ruthless in carrying out his mission - to attack without pity all that stood in the way of man’s spiritual development.
Gurdjieff used to say that a man revealed himself most clearly in his reactions to sexuality and to money. I could add yet another signpost to a man’s personality, namely, his reaction to Gurdjieff himself. Many reactions were possible, but it was impossible to be indifferent to him or to forget that he was there. One could be disturbed by him, dislike him, be scandalized by what he did and said, deem him a charlatan or a wise man, be frightened of him or grow fond of him, and one could do all these things in turn; but it was impossible to neglect him. Whatever he was, he was something on a much bigger scale than one had ever seen before, or is ever likely to see again.
Gurdjieff had a very wide range of knowledge, which embraced modern Western scientific theories as well as the special knowledge he had learned in his years of wandering in the East. But it was not so much what he said or what he did that impressed as what he was. Gurdjieff was a living example of the outcome of his own teaching, which he summed up in the words “the harmonious development of man.”
Man, he said, was an unfinished product. Nature had evolved him up to a certain stage and had then left him to his own devices, to struggle to a higher level of consciousness, or to remain as he was, an incomplete being. The distinguishing mark of Gurdjieff is the distinguishing mark of all great teachers. They are remarkable for their being, for what they are, rather than what they do. And it is this which makes it difficult to recognize them, for here in the West we grade men by what they do, not by what they have achieved in their own persons.
There is no need to be surprised, therefore, that Ouspensky’s German returned from India without having found a teacher, or that his dealer in parrots had no local following in Bordeaux.
Published by natha.net
These excerpts are published with the permission of Gurdjieff International Review. You can find the original article and other related articles on: www.gurdjieff.org