Personal Encounters with Paul Brunton


Here are excerpts from meetings of members of Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Study with PB that occurred in the 1970's. They illustrate his perceptive and powerful ability to help seekers.


 

I knew nothing, nothing, nothing. I walked in, and there was this little fellow. I said to him, “I'm not very good at talking,” and then I didn't say anything for the next 40 minutes and neither did he. In that time, at one point I mentally said, “I love you,” and he just started. He jumped!—and inwardly I said, “I’m sorry; I won't do that again,” and he kind of smiled at me. And then this thing happened to me that I didn't know what was happening. I was standing in my heart, and my heart was all around me. I was looking around at the spiritual heart. This went on for 40 minutes or so.

I could see he was looking into my future, and he asked me a few questions about being a musician―I hadn't told him about being a musician.

He said, “Meditate every day―but not too much,” and then he said―and I think this was his true message to me, “Music will take you very close to where you want to be, but there's another step.” And as he said that, I could see it. He also told me to meditate on the heart, or as he said, my divine center. For about six months after he left the whole world looked pink. He'd just changed everything in me.

Before I met PB I'd had depressions―ah, I just wanted to jump off a bridge. They were so frequent. Awful, awful. Soon after I met him, I was driving home and I knew I was heading for that horrible place and you're bracing yourself and I fell in, and I fell into this radiant brilliant light and love―a love I'd never known--and that was the end of those depressions. To think that someone could do this. I hadn't had any training, read any books. I'd had no idea that a life could be altered this way. It put me on a path to perfect myself so that I could help others.

I think he changed my entire life and being in those few paltry minutes of earth time. I don't think I've ever been the same. And he showed me something that I wouldn't have believed possible.

The main impression I had of him when I walked in was that he was just a person. He didn't look extraordinary, like a king. He was so quiet and gentle, another person who had broken through to the god-like quality that we all have, the radiant soul that we all are. The power of it, the finding that in that little package, little body, like that, just overwhelming. With all that power coming through him. Basking in that gentle love that he had.

It's so easy to say someone changed your life. But he changed everything, and me. You can't put it into words.


 

The first time I met PB was not in the flesh. Everything fell apart: I got arrested, ran out of money. Didn't know what I was doing with my life. Spent a week in Boston carousing with my friends. In the morning this thing happened. I was sleeping on the floor. I woke up, lying on my back. All of a sudden I felt my chest melting. It was very pleasant. As it was happening I saw a giant fetal eye opening and closing with my breath, which had slowed down. And then all of a sudden I was looking down at my body and I didn't feel any physical sensations and I had this moment of clarity that rippled through me and it came with the words, “Now I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a soul.” The next thing I remember was the melting sensation again and there at my feet was PB. He was just looking at me. He didn't say anything; I didn't say anything. Gradually I came back into my body and I felt so light and good I decided to stay an extra day. I was driving from Boston to Buffalo I might as well stop off and see [a relative] in Ithaca. I'd never been to Wisdom's Goldenrod [a spiritual center] before. I showed up at about 11pm and [someone at WG] was surprised to see me. He said, “It's interesting you showed up today because PB showed up today.” That was the summer PB came to Ithaca. I was intrigued. He had showed up; and I had showed up.

Around PB, it felt like he was giant pendulum that had stopped. And in that stopping, the whole world was born. It was like “the peace that passeth understanding.” Utter peace, visceral, palpable.

The experience I had of being around someone who had no chatter, no internal dialog, I haven't felt the same thing, even with the Dalai Lama. It was utter peace, contentment with whatever is happening. It was a very visceral, palpable experience. And that has stayed with me more than anything, because it's hard to come by.


 

The first time I saw PB, when he walked down a path, it was like an earthquake. It so powerful, so powerful. Just seeing this little man, this so-called little man [laughs], just walk down the path. Power, staggering power. It was like the earth shook, the world changed. It was very unusual.


 

It was a precious time; it went very fast. At parting I remember bowing to him, bowing to each other. There was a point where we got very quiet―in the beginning―very quiet together, just sat, without speaking. I’ve read over and over again in his writing on World Mind and Individual Mind about what happens when you meet a sage. What a sage’s blessing is. That’s what was transpiring in those moments. I remember feeling a lot of embarrassment over thoughts that I was having. But I knew that having that one meeting was worth a whole lifetime. I feel an enormous connection to PB and Anthony [Damiani, a spiritual teacher at Wisdom's Goldenrod] [crying]. They’re so precious to me. I’m so very grateful that I was able to find them in this life. My association with them is such a foundation of living a life with good purpose and moving upwards, inwards.

I was quite elated. I also remember going into a bit of a depression a week or two later. It didn’t last long. Anthony told me that it was quite normal to have a response like that, meeting a sage.

When I think about my next life, I hope they’re there. It was with great joy to find these teachers. Made me very happy, still does.

I don’t hang on that meeting, that happened 38 years ago. He’s so much a living presence in my day-to-day focus. I just like where they are in my heart right now. It was only an hour, a precious hour. They’re very present to me right now.

It was a great quiet, sitting on the chaise lounge in the garden. Anthony used to refer to this process that PB could size you up like a photograph, your whole evolutionary development up to this point, and then dismiss it for the illusory self it is and then go into a very deep connection of soul to soul. PB writes, that’s the sage’s blessing. But I wasn’t conscious of it. I did feel the peace around him, Yeah, he glowed.


 

Going up to his door I was frightened to death. [But] PB had a way of putting people at ease in a very short time.

Before I visited PB I’d bought a new car in Europe. As I was driving there I thought, oh boy, wait 'til PB sees this car! Those type of thoughts. His very first words after we came to his house and were put at ease, were, “Let’s go for a ride.” I’d never mentioned the car at all. After I got back, Anthony [Damiani] said, “You let him ride in your car? Your car will break down; he has a big electrical field around him!” And indeed I had nothing but electrical problems with that car.

PB’s key word when talking to us was “balance.” He said, “There’s no reason you can’t eat dairy, but I don’t.” He ascribed his not eating dairy products to his age.

He was very interested in my development. What he would do is he would see some place in me that needed development and then do something so that it would jump out at me and I could see what needed to be worked on. I needed to become more balanced; I was so naïve.

He knew I was a shy person and was reluctant to use French—I had a smattering of French. So he’d send me on errands where I’d have to use French. Knock on neighbors’ doors and ask a question—I just couldn’t do it. I failed.

He always stressed to me that there would be a time when I would have to leave [my teacher]. I just couldn’t understand it. The way you’ll know it, he said—no matter who the teacher is—when they’re speaking it will suddenly become completely unintelligible. It will make no sense.

PB and I had lots of discussions on the history of occultism in the West. He told me he had to give up, as a young man, his ability with occult phenomena. It was a thing that would lead to trouble. He said that’s how he entered this path but he had to give it up in order to make progress and that it’s a good thing not to pursue it or talk about it. There were occult events that happened in his presence, but I’m taking his advice: this is not where the emphasis should be put. PB was, as he put it, as a student of philosophy.

Many a time he would just stop, be quiet, take out a pen, and write. I guess most of that stuff became the basis of the paragraphs in The Notebooks. He took this thing of writing very seriously. If a thought came in he had an obligation to write it down. When he went to India and visited these sages, he recorded these conversations verbatim, without editorializing. He felt that was his job; he was a journalist.


 

Every moment with PB was holy, extraordinary—or just ordinary! For the sage, every moment unfolds Reality—every detail, every sense perception, every thought. Every detail unfolding the reality, instead of hiding it, which it seems to do for most of us. And that's what it was like. It was all important, every experience, whether it was going to an art gallery or having coffee. There weren't bells-and-whistle things, but it was like, oh, life unfolds beautifully. Just in the now. Ordinarily extraordinary.

One time PB got strong with us—not angry but.... [X suggested that they could get away with not paying for something that he perceived as an unfair charge]. PB said that if you want truth then you must be truthful in every detail of your life, and there's no compromise. He was very strong about it; truth is what is important. I've seen the consequences of not following that tremendous teaching, and they're very strong. I'm not able to be [fully] truthful; the ego lies. I'd be lying to say I can do the truthfulness! It's a hard one, not to see oneself as a truth-teller. It could be a lifetime's work to develop the soul-quality of telling the truth.

PB's notebooks, that writing, that's the body of PB. It's as much PB as the PB I saw in Switzerland. It may be the essential of PB. The notes on glimpses have a very strong effect; they could catapult you into a glimpse themselves. They're powerful.

PB wanted to know about my personal background. I told him about my involvement in social action, karma yoga. He did encourage me to do service work for others. It felt like he was drawing something out of me that I already knew, but that had gotten kind of covered over and maybe wrongly thought about now I was in philosophy. He said, forget about teaching the high, complicated philosophy—people need just basic stuff. I was surprised.

One time I was helping PB shave—that worked out okay, maybe he got a little nick or something. And he was talking about how the sage feels pain, and yes, be careful. He said, “I have to shave PB”—talking about PB in the third person—“and yes, I feel PB's pain.”


 

When PB came to Columbus he stayed with X and Y. X had already come down with MS—she became bedridden, and she was quite bitter about it—why me? PB told her that she was learning one tremendous soul lesson from this. He told her she was learning surrender—and if she could get that, it was worth the whole thing. The next time I was there, she was in a room and it was so joyous and light-filled, and for the next three years, well, she did it. She obviously did it. She totally surrendered, and just joy came through. The whole thing was fabulous. She would never have chosen that illness but in fact having that one tremendous lesson was worth everything.


 

At one point I wondered if PB has his original teeth or does he have false teeth, and PB looked at me and bared his teeth!

At another point in the conversation I wondered what would happen if I had a spiraling inner negativity that I couldn't control—an obsessive blah-blah-blah—and it started coming up when I thought of that. And then it was like an invisible finger pushed that thought beyond the range of my mind; it was coming from him, which I thought was pretty cool.

He suggested that I move on from WG and take up Buddhism. And of course I didn't; I didn't get it—and he saw that I didn't get it. And then I felt this tremendous compassion—it's so beautiful. It was only twenty years later that I realized that's what it feels like when an enlightened person feels sorry for you. The seed of the short path was planted but took twenty years to sprout.

I could sense that he was in this envelope of silence. That was my first intuition that this was what self-realization was about.


 

PB stated to me that he had very advanced psychic powers in his young days, and that he loved the world of psychic phenomena. He had a choice to make between developing into a world famous psychic or giving up his powers in the pursuit of spiritual development. He said that this was the hardest choice he ever had to make in his life, because he loved the psychic world. He made the choice after a dark time of being wracked with indecision, and his psychic abilities were taken from him in the space of a week.

Now, there seems to be some disagreement about whether or not as a sage, PB possessed psychic abilities. I think the question arises because strange things did happen around him from time to time, and some of these could be described as being psychic phenomena. But, I think there is a real difference between PB the developing psychic, and PB the sage. The distinction is that in his first stage, PB the psychic consciously worked to manipulate psychic energies to bring about his desired aims. In his later stage of life, PB became a powerhouse of spiritual energy, and radiated subtle energies that sometimes worked amazing effects. However, in my view, PB did not consciously work with or manipulate these energies, but allowed the outcomes to happen without his conscious manipulation. When we had our conversation on this topic, I asked him whether or not he got his powers back after his spiritual ascent; and he said yes, but in a different way. He no longer consciously worked with and used the energy but allowed it to flow through and use him. It is I think a real distinction. He was like a lightning rod for subtle energies, in that he attracted them just by being himself, and as far as I could see, he left them alone and left the results up to karma.


 

The sense that he was transparent and that I could look through him. He wasn't solid somehow; he didn't have concreteness. He didn't seem to have the same kind of mass. A different kind of mass than your basic person. More like a kind of texture. It was such a singular moment of meeting him. Just having that encounter does sit in my memory someplace, the possibilities for humanness. I don't think I've met anyone like that before. Anyone who had that attenuated sense.


 

In my interview, PB said to me, “You've had a glimpse, and then you will...and then you will...and then you will...and one day it will be the light of your very own Overself.” It felt he was taking me into a trance, the way he used that rhythmic phrasing. And then you will....And then you will.... Everything was completely still; I'd never felt such stillness in my life. It was profound. It was riveting. I didn't have the ability to think.


 

I do know that when people get together to talk about him there’s a special atmosphere that arises, that is not like anything else I know. This sounds very fantasy-land, but I do feel he is present. Seeing him in the flesh was one thing―a great privilege―but I think that his presence is even more intensely there through his work. He’s out of the body; but he is around. I feel his presence every day. Especially when people are talking together about him; it’s as though he’s right here with us.

I had a huge spiritual awakening when reading A Search in Secret Egypt—an experience of my true being; that was long before I met him. Later PB told me, well, yes, that the purpose of his books is to initiate people into what he would call a glimpse, which is now referred to in California as awakening. You have a glimpse and then you know what the goal is; you have a way to orient yourself for the rest of your life. It’s available to everybody.

My visits to him weren’t always easy. The second time I saw him I remember being visited by a tremendous amount of shame and self-rejection. This is just part of the long process of seeing the ego and its mistakes for what they are. Being with him was like walking into the fire.

Visiting him [mostly] created peace and ease; I wasn’t motivated by strategy of any kind. What went on with him is really transmission. We talked about weather, politics, Switzerland, but in fact there was a huge amount of transmission going on.

A high point for me occurred when PB invited me for tea in a restaurant. We talked about trivia―politics, etc.―and in the course of it felt a kind of uncontrollable magnetic pull to look up into his eyes. I was brought up to think this is rude, but I couldn’t help myself; I just had to look up at him. When I looked at his eyes, I felt like one does when you look at the sun and the retina is traumatized. It was like an electric shock went through me. And then I had to look away and pretend that nothing was wrong. I thought there was something wrong with me―I was going crazy. So we continued our conversation and I looked at the flowers, the tea, and then I would be drawn back to look at him and when I would look at his eyes, again I would have this experience of shock. It went on six or seven times. After this I was definitely not the same. I think this is what is called transmission. This is transmission squared. It was another way of him sharing his information.

Anthony—and he spent a lot of time with PB—mentioned that PB used to withdraw his whole physical body. He’d be sitting with him and then he would become more and more translucent and finally disappear. And then he would remanifest. Tony mentioned this kind of casually. He would be cutting PB’s hair, cutting, cutting, and then look down and there would be no head. And then he would come back again.

To be in his presence was to be in unconditional love. I wouldn’t really call it love, it’s much more like a kind of enthusiastic acceptance of everything. You could encompass war and death. Whatever happened, it could be embraced with this feeling of acceptance. That is a totally fearless state. To be in his presence was to experience that directly. He had given me the experience of unconditional love; that is enough. Now the ball is in my court, to live out of the knowledge of that experience.

In his presence you feel your capacity for innate freedom. Freedom from fear of our separateness. You feel your own expansive reality. It’s hard to talk about.


 

My recall is of a very gentle person, yet a very powerful person at the same time. He was gracious and warm and quite lovely. We walked with PB around the lake. We had asked if he would meditate with us and he said no, he doesn't meditate with people, but we preceded to sit on a park bench and sat silently for a long time.

At the time I wasn't very Buddhist-oriented. He took me over to this painting of the Buddha and asked me to describe to him the two eyes of the Buddha. And I just went What? I said one is looking inward, the other outward. And he gave a little nod of acknowledgement and that was it! Now I'm very Buddhist-oriented.

It's so hard to talk about PB: the love, the energy, the generosity of spirit....We did sit quietly with him a number of times, wherever there was a park bench or a lull in his place....The translucency of his skin, the clarity of what one would call the aura, the lucidity around him, the purity of his gaze, the unhurried of fullness of everything he did... [Looking back] It's huge, absolutely gigantic that PB, not only his works and the vast imprint that his writings have made on my life, but the meetings.... If the experience of mind transmission fits my experience, then that happened. Very much to be treasured. I was in the presence of a great one. It's so beyond words; I just don't have the words but my understanding of the quest, my path, my view of life is forever altered. The gentleness and the power, that combination of utter gentleness and whatever that power is, there's this quiet energy that is so powerful, of another world, another plane.


 

I don't remember exactly what led up to this, but he was sitting in a chair and I was on the floor and I was looking up at him, and I felt how much I was standing in my own way, how much I wanted to be a certain way for him, but coming up against my psyche. And I said something like, “PB, I'm sorry—it's just the way I am.” I was crying. And he just looked at me in a compassionate way, but we didn't talk about it. But then, thirty years later I'm reading The Notebooks, and I come across this passage: “'This is the way I am,' is a sign of somebody ready for the short path.” An acceptance of the limitations of the ego, instead of trying to make it the means for achieving the Overself. Wow, PB actually wrote that incident down, and made it into a little teaching. I guess I was ready for the short path when I read that passage! As I was leaving, his parting words were, “You'll experience the Overself when you die.” At the time I thought, well, ok, but I want the Overself now. I'd go on a protest: What do you want? When do you want it? Now! More recently I realized, no, he means when I die, surrender. It made me feel like [teary], at least he saw it as enough of a possibility that he would say that to me. He recognized I had fumbling sincerity. The proof will be in the pudding, as it were. I was touched very deeply by it.


 

Years before I met PB this happened. I wrote a letter to PB asking if I could visit. While Tony was with PB I had this dream. I was in a white gossamer gown and I flew over the world to Switzerland. And I hovered over this apartment. In the apartment Anthony and PB were talking. I remember that in the apartment there was an orange rug, and orange chairs. And the very next day I ran into X, who had visited PB’s apartment. I told him about the dream and described the apartment and asked if in fact that’s what PB’s apartment looks like. And X said, yes, that’s exactly what his apartment looks like. So, in my dream I astral-traveled to PB, right. After Anthony returned he grabbed me after meditation and said “I have a message for you from PB.” PB told me to be more patient, hopeful, and to continue my inner life.

[When I finally met him] I told him I appreciated the message he had sent to me through Anthony several years ago. And then he smiled. And when he smiled it was like there were rays coming out of his mouth; it was so beautiful. And I relaxed.

I told him that I would get very depressed when the sun went down, and he said, “Just listen to your Overself, and you’ll never feel lonely again.” At some point the conversation just stopped and we meditated. I have no idea how long. When it was over, I was just enveloped in silence. And peace. And light. It was incredible. It was very profound. It was total peace. I wasn’t sure how I could drive; I was so gone. It was beautiful. I was very fortunate. That’s it. I felt that this experience with PB was something to fulfill: to find that silence in myself. This has been my quest, the path that I’ve been on all my life. PB kick-started it, in a sense. He got me going, starting with that message he sent me. PB gave me silence and light. It was incredible.


 

PB told me: “You were given a certain amount of experience from the past, and now the rest of this incarnation you have to improve your character and slowly overcome your fear [re an experience of the demon on the threshold] so that you can enter the portal to the higher world.”


 

I was so nervous; I couldn't believe I was going to meet this sage. My heart was pounding, I was just a wreck. I walked across the threshold and it was like I walked into a void of silence. It was so intense. Everything stopped. My body stopped; I wasn't nervous. It wasn't like I was dissociated. It was a tomb of silence. We sat on the couch and honestly, I don't remember a thing he said to me. I was so completely in this place of silence. Then the interview was over and I remember somehow gliding towards the threshold in this place of complete silence and walked out over the threshold and was hit. You know those images of Lady Macbeth rubbing her hands? That's what it was like for me. I felt all of this stuff from my past--not all of it was dirty. I didn't know what to do. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. It took me weeks to come back into something normal. It was a psychic cleansing. It was a little frightening. Back then "silence" wasn't how I thought of the quest. It was studying, meditating. So that experience of silence was so unexpected. I didn't know how to understand it at the time. It's almost like there wasn't room for any personal self.


 

I remember quaking on the porch as I knocked at the door to go in. I remember feeling neutral, no bhakti feelings.

[Negativity followed an experience of grace before meeting PB]. I asked him if the negativity had always been there or if it had just come in. He said no, it had always been there. It was because I had had the experience that I then had a place to stand so that I could see all of the darkness and awful stuff―those are my words!―that is there in the ego. Grace can come sometimes as a result of past karma and sometimes it's freely given as a new thing when somebody's in crisis. We went out into the backyard and were quiet, in meditation, for about 15 minutes. As I was leaving he said, “Don't worry too much.”

In seeing Shankaracharya my feelings were dramatically involved; and my feelings were not involved with seeing PB. It felt more impersonal--in a good sense. It's foundational.


 

Basically, my interview with PB was about the short path and the long path. I say something like, “Although trying very hard to relinquish my personal will I still find myself operating from a selfish state of consciousness, without compassion. What advice can you give me? I still am selfish after all these years!” He says, “Your question has two parts: the selfish attitude and the personal will. You are a self, a glorious self, an unfolding flower, like a seed of a tree that has everything within it. Through birth, infancy adolescence, adulthood you're constantly developing. You are developing physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. What brought you to this point of asking these questions? Your development. Do you wish to relinquish your development? Do you wish to cut off the lower self? The animal self is part of the whole self. Is it an unconscious wish to cut off your development? You've been trained to think this way. This is the religious attitude: to do battle with yourself, to pit one part of yourself against another, the lower will against the higher. From this religious attitude you will grow into a mystical and then another.”

Q: is it erroneous? PB: “No. The self has many parts. It's all of them. To try to cut off any part of yourself is to deny yourself. Every individual is developing in this way. Your knowing has brought you to see the way you see now.”

“You can choose to try to see at what level you're developing and try to figure out what is the next problem for you to master, or”―and this was the part, and there's a long pause, and that long pause is like eternity and he got very quiet and I'm doing everything I can to stay conscious because I thought I was supposed to stay conscious but really it was trancing me out―and then he says, “There is another way.” And then he was all different. And he says: “You must recognize, through knowing, your glorious self. It is timeless ever. You must say 'this am I'. This (he pointed to himself); am (the Self has really being); I (the fully unfolded flower, the glorious self). You must do this constantly. Never forget, always remember 'this am I'. That will be your secret. You need not advertise what you're doing. You must continue your work, keep your feet on the ground. You have heard of the short path. The short path I explained is an introduction to this. This is the most that can be said in words. When you do this you need not worry about your development. You desire is to reach only the true, timeless individuality. The rest takes care of itself. The character development takes care of itself without effort.” And then he starts to chuckle. “This am I. Do not just let it flash through your mind; spend four or five minutes on it. the important thing is to remember it continually.”

[later, in a letter about the mantra]: “It's a well-known Sanskrit Mahavakya or great truth. Tat Tvam Asi. That Am I doesn't exactly mean 'the whole world am I'. It's pertinent only to one thing: the Reality of Brahman. This Brahman, the great I, universal existence, specifically this Brahman is the reality. It's trying to show you you're not limited to the little ego alone. Even though you don't feel it you're part of the real. It's an exercise to remind you when you get discouraged that you're bigger than you think you are.”

At the time I can remember feeling completely stupified by that answer. But I don't feel that way anymore. It's so obvious what he's saying, now. He was just trying to get me out of my head and out of my striving and out of my religious way of operating. When he came to dinner he said: The Zen life is the ordinary life. He was trying to get me down to earth, bring it into everyday.


 

PB was playing with our baby's hands. He was creating a really gentle kind of atmosphere. The atmosphere was very ethereal.

And then he said: “Have you written to me? Have I responded to your letter?” I said no. PB said: “I want to apologize. I'm elderly now. I'm in semi-retirement. I have a large correspondence. I do not have a personal secretary. I want to apologize to you. I think every letter to me should get a response.”

So X and he were having this conversation. I was having this out-of-the body experience: I was watching the three of us. It was very gentle. And then he turned to me and he said, “I really do offer my apologies for not writing back to you.” I said, “It's really ok,” and he said, “"No, it's not.” I said, “You know what, PB. I'm sorry I said you didn't write to me; I should have said you did!” He started to laugh. All three of us were laughing.

X asked, “How could I get to purification?” He said, “I'll give you an exercise: Breathe in positivity of the Overself. You must remember that your attitude will create the atmosphere for whatever activity you may be doing.”


 

PB walked out of the restaurant and there was bright sunlight on his face and he just stood there―I had been feeling so agitated―for about one or two minutes, he didn't move. He didn't look at us and he just stood there and this incredible―I just start to cry when I think about this―incredible peace and joy descended on me like, like a glimpse, and I was just kind of blown away and I was so grateful because I had felt, before this trip, I'd been so agitated but my ego was disarmed. I had this wonderful moment of opening and connection. It was an unforgettable moment. For the rest of the day I felt very lit up and very peaceful. Something powerful had really happened to me. It was very powerful gift.

I cut PB's hair a few times which was very intimate. He would wear his long underwear―it was January―and I would clip his hair.

In the attic PB found an old hat with ear flaps. It was like a kid's hat, a silly hat. He tried it on and we started laughing. And then PB started laughing too, so hard that the three of us were doubling up with laughter. It was a “laughter glimpse.”

X seemed somehow, in a respectful way, able to banter and tease PB throughout the trip. PB liked it; he liked laughing. He liked when X would say something amusing.

Re 49-day reincarnation in Buddhism, PB said: “If that's what you believe, that's what will happen.”


 

At some point in our conversation, I asked PB why, after years of meditation and study, I felt more anxiety and nervousness than before. He said, “It’s a result of increased sensitivity. This sometimes comes with being on the quest. What are you nervous of?” I replied that I was constantly involved with self-judgment and how I wanted to get free of it but felt stuck. He said, “You should switch to the Short Path. It’s time.”

PB asked, “Have you felt quivering or jolts in the body during meditation? Have you been doing breathing exercises? What major mystical experiences have you had?”

I told him about one kundalini experience but explained that I hadn’t had any major mystical experiences. PB looked quizzical.

He started talking about the Short Path and said, “The short path attracts grace; the long path attracts the short path. On the long path, one goes forward and falls back, stagnates and fusses. In our time it is necessary to begin the short path earlier.”

PB discussed the stages of the short path. While discussing these stages he asked if I had a notebook and suggested that I should write these stages down.

The Short Path –

1. Remembrance

2. Identity

3. Witness Practices

“An aspect of the short path is the ‘Identity Practice’ (the ‘As If’). The person is to regard himself as an already Enlightened Man rather than a Quester after Enlightenment. He should think and act as if he has nothing to attain. He bases this on the fact of Reality being here and now rather than something gained in time―being timeless. He is as accomplished as he’ll ever be.”

“Remembrance comes before Identity. Remembrance takes place both in the heart and mind. Remembrance of the Divine must go on all the time as an under-current.”

“The Meditation on the Timeless Self” [from The Wisdom of the Overself] watches the relationship of the ego to the witness. The Witness exercise observes the ego and the world. The two practices overlap a little but they are distinct. The Timeless Self practice is preliminary to the Witness practice.”

Other practices you could do are meditations involving:

1. Mantrams – positive, not negative

2. Mandalas

3. Symbols

4. Suggestions

He said, “You can meditate on figures of the Buddha, they give off a vibration of attained peace.”

“Don’t think that it is necessary for you to be an extrovert. If others want to display themselves or parade their ideas and feelings publicly, then that’s their business. This is not your nature. Be yourself.”

That day he talked about Madame Blavatsky, Vivekananda, and Meher Baba. He was a little negative in regard to Meher Baba but he said that Blavatsky and Vivekananda laid the groundwork for the doctrine to spread to the West.

He said, “After the Buddha’s enlightenment, he taught because of his tremendous compassion. The Buddha knew just what a person needed. He spoke to both their lower self and higher self. Of course for the Buddha there was no higher self or lower self.”

“Sahaja is where consciousness is settled and at rest – not affected by the body, thoughts, or feelings. But a main character of it is its naturalness. It is a perfectly natural state. There is no fuss about enlightenment.”

PB started us doing formal sitting meditations twice daily for forty minutes each session. After the others left he continued the meditations with me but extended the duration to one hour per session. I remember PB saying, “I don’t usually do this” as he smiled.

One night over dinner, PB said: “Can you see any difference between the highest school of Buddhism and the highest school of Hinduism? I don’t see any real difference except in expression. They’re operating from exactly the same level. The Buddha never denied Reality although he denied the Self… even Brahman. Everything the Buddha asserted was correct! The Buddha was necessary to cleanse false conceptions which abounded and provide what was needed for future times.” “There are many Tibetan Buddhist sages. Tsongkhapa was a sage as well as Tilopa.”

“The experience or expression of enlightenment is colored by one’s tradition and by the personality. And the personality is conditioned by the body, and so forth. However, in enlightenment, the ego is an open channel.”

“The observer moves towards its source which is the inner stillness. However when it finds it, it ceases to be the observer. This inner stillness is the Void. Ramana Maharshi calls it the Self but the term is completely arbitrary. The experience is the same for Buddhists and Hindus alike. If a person is trained in a particular doctrine he will describe his realizations in terms of that doctrine. This is the power of suggestion and of familiar terminology.”

“You either see the Truth or you don’t. Degrees are degrees of nearness to the Truth but not degrees in the Truth.”

Regarding the Dalai Lama, PB said, “The Dalai Lama has truly mastered himself. He has a comprehensive view. I am an admirer of the Dalai Lama.”

“Plato uses language as if he were not a dualist; although he has a flavor of dualism, he’s sort of in between. The idea of the One holds implicit within it the two, three, and four. It is not non-dual. However when the Buddhists speak of the Void, you can’t speak of substance, being, etc., coming out of it.”

We were talking about how difficult K.C. Bhattacharya is. PB responded by saying, “It’s good to have a few writers like that and it’s also good to have a few popularizers like me. I write for the masses.”

X asked PB if he had ever had the cosmic vision. PB responded, “I don’t know. I don’t remember. After all what are we after―experiences?”

When asked about the possibility of an autobiography, PB said, “I couldn’t write a biography about a person that I wasn’t even interested in. But I suppose someone will after I’m dead; they always do. They won’t get my help anyway.”

“I’m a mere journalist and popularizer for the man on the street; Tom, Dick, and Harry. I only present half-truths. That’s my job as a popularizer. Tony [Damiani] is a teacher and can present the whole truth.”

“The essence of the Short Path is to remember who and what you are and then to attend to that memory as often as possible.”

While meditating with PB, I had an experience which I told to PB after meditation. He told me to be sure to write it down. The gist was that both in meditation and periodically during the day a deep profound feeling of peace, quiet, and contentment settled over me. It just suddenly took me over. Everything seemed to slow down and take place within this peace. The most intense instance came just before sunset and lasted for about two hours. These experiences started during meditation with PB. When I told PB, he said, “You became one with nature… now you know the spirit. That was a glimpse of the Overself.”

We went to the library and PB pulled some books of poetry off the shelves. We sat at a table and he quietly read aloud to me various poems.

[About a request to see him]: “These people don’t realize how important my time is. In the five minutes that I’m seeing someone I could be helping hundreds. She doesn’t realize that. I don't see most of the people who write to me because they would come here and all they would see is my body.”

PB showed his gold ring which is Egyptian and 2,500 years old. It has a carving on it of a personage known for his healing abilities. The ring was beautiful and intricate in its workmanship. A visitor asked where he got it. PB grinned and said he stole it. Later when we were alone I asked where he got it and he said, “Don’t ask personal questions.”

At one point PB said, “The idea of an impersonal observer is only a tentative one.” I was confused. He said, “There can’t be such a dualism in actuality as observer and observed. There’s only Mind. There’s no impersonal observer in Sahaja [samadhi]. The notion of an impersonal observer is for practical help about half-way through the quest.”

“These divisions of psychology, epistemology, ontology and metaphysics are not so in actuality but they are made to help give us a picture.” I said, “Is that why you said in the Wisdom of the Overself, ‘Psychologically all this can be summed up…’” PB smiled and said, “You like that paragraph?”


 

The first time I met him was when he came for dinner when I was seven years old. He had a twinkle in his eye. He seemed so calm, so gentle. Nothing ruffled him. He never spoke negatively or derogatorily about anyone or anything. He was just a person who held the light―I mean, I felt that way.

One time he came over, I had holes in my shoes. The next time he came over―a couple of years later―he brought me a pair of shoes. His shoes. I was in my early teens then, so they fit me okay. But my life became hell for a while. I blamed it on the shoes! Through my life, that felt like hell for many years, the times I met him…he exuded a peacefulness that I really was attracted to. The times that he came over I always looked forward to seeing him; I didn’t know why. I remember when PB spoke, you could hear the difference in the kind of person he was, the way he spoke, his manner. He knew what he was talking about. His wisdom came through; he didn’t force anything.

I was never a student about PB. He even made a comment, a note on something I sent him: He’s not my student. And he wrote me a letter: “The goal can be achieved through the Christian process but you have to dig deep. You don’t have to follow your father’s path.”


 

I cannot even imagine what my life would have been like without the influence of PB: I’m very grateful, very grateful.

We didn’t have any questions and we sat there quietly. After a while he asked whether we had questions. X asked, “I’ve read all the books and I understand that people have different stages of development, and I look around the world and I see so much suffering. And I look at my life and I can’t grasp how it could be that some of us should have such great fortune.” He smiled and said: “There’s no answer. The only answer to that question is gratitude.” In the last couple of years that has come back. Every day I feel this great sense of gratitude. What he said to me not only stayed with me but deepened.

Many decades later, X and I were going through so much suffering on her part, and intense care-giving and worrying on mine, and we always felt grateful, grateful for our life. It was gratitude for the state that we were more deeply entering. We were privy to a lot of grace.

Out of nowhere he said, “You really need to eat eggs.” [Later] eggs became my number one staple. They’re really keeping me going; giving me strength. His advice was so particular to the person.

When I’m reading these things, the PB material, there’s such a deepening for me. I don’t really feel I'm reading them; I’m assimilating them. They come into me; it’s so overwhelming. I cry a lot. It’s been very dramatic, the extent with which this work, which I’ve been guided to do, has played such a key role in guiding me. It’s incredible.

PB was getting ready to leave, He turned towards us and said, “I want to be very clear that the life you are leading here, that is truly the Zen life.” It was really helpful in realizing: living in monasteries, that’s easy.

PB has a quote that says you can have meetings [with those who have passed], you don’t know what form it could take: it could be subtle, it could be the breath of their atmosphere. What you want to do is just invite the person. And he also said, you can’t do it very often. You really have to let people go.

After we left PB I was so nuts, I didn’t know what to do. I felt I needed to get really drunk or go to sleep. I felt absolutely crazed.


 

PB asked me if I had seen Filipino healing, where they enter the body and take stuff out with their hands. He said he thought the power was once present in the human race to do that but he didn’t think it was present any more.

That evening, what happened was this huge “Who am I?” question. I kept asking the others “Who are you?” I meditated on “Who am I?” the rest of the night. This was an overwhelming Who am I? question.

He has that incredible stillness, the way he sat. There was nothing fidgety. I asked something about Chinese philosophy. What has stayed with me over the years is that he said, “Confucius wanted people to be well-behaved.” Over the years it’s come to mean so much more to me; it’s come to be very foundational for me. Once when [I unexpectedly heard a tape of PB's voice] there was such a cloud of peace, it was unbelievable. Something came across.

I had multiple dreams with PB in them for a while, with clear indications that mentalism is true, I’m a mental being.

He was a really gracious host; he’d just met me, and didn’t make me feel that I was intruding. There was this enormous graciousness and kindness toward me.


 

PB told me his experience with Ramana was only the first step on the spiritual path. It would take more years before his final awakening. When I asked PB in 1972 at his home in Montreux why he had thangkas of four Chinese sages (Lao Tzu, Confucius, Chou Tun-yi, Wang Yang Ming) on his walls but not a single Hindu sage, he told me that the Hindu mystics were too speculative, being absorbed in their inner visions. The Chinese sages were more practical and engaged in the world of everyday life. That's why he admired them more.

In PB's bedroom he just had a small postcard propped up on his dressing bureau— Jean François Millet's L'Angelus. I told PB about seeing this painting at the Louvre when in Paris a month ago, and had bought a similar postcard. PB said "Look at this couple— simple farm folks, yet how humble, thanking the earth for their daily food. We should keep our heart always simple and sincere just like that." Whenever we ate together whether it's lunch or dinner, PB would always say a short prayer: Thank you for this food on the table. May it nourish our body, illumine our mind, strengthen our spirit, O Mind of the World.


 

Sometimes, even after all these years, my ever-doubting mind suggests that maybe I was mistaken about PB’s power and, that maybe I’d fooled myself into seeing what was expected. But then, what convinces me that this isn’t so is the uncanny and unexpected presence of that holy power almost every time I talk to someone about PB. Suddenly it’s there, in the room, in me. And I’m reassured once again, that my faith in him is not misplaced.


 

I walked in and the first thing he said was, “When was the last time you ate meat?” And I said, “Last night.” He said, very serious, “What were the circumstances?”

So I told him people had given me a party and they had shish kabobs―and I really like shish kabobs!―and he said, “You did the right thing, because there would have been such negativity if you hadn’t eaten them.” But then he said, “But never ever again will you eat meat. Ever.” You know when a Sage looks at you like that and says “Never, ever,” you don’t.

He said one can contact people who’ve died, though meditation. Just be quiet, say their name, picture them, and you can contact them, he said.

He said “You have three things to learn: you can sense other people’s feelings. What you have to learn is to differentiate your stuff from other people’s. Because you can pick up their feelings at the drop of a hat.” He said check out yourself before you go into a room.

He said, “No matter what happens to you as you get older, never ever forget the Overself. Never. Never.”

When I first walked in, he was so light, the whole place was so light. He didn’t radiate light, he was light.


 

PB said that the traditional religions are dying and that the impulse behind them was fading.

He said that the “Serpents Path” is the final exercise in the Wisdom and that’s because it’s the end of all yoga, the culmination. He said to me that it’s a really simple exercise. I said [laughs] okaaaay. He said you don’t even have to be sitting; you could be out in nature or anywhere. And you pause, and just be quiet for a few moments. It’s a matter of―something like―popping out of the ordinary mind. Just awakening to the presence of this deeper mind. I’m paraphrasing now. It’s like waking up, and you’re no longer centered in the ordinary mind, the ego. It’s this very sudden and subtle change. It’s very quiet and, he said, it’s not difficult [laughs]. He made it sound so easy.

When we first got there he had us be quiet. I felt this incredible kindness. I didn’t feel judged. I felt that in some way we passed some kind of a test, that we were accepted. Yeah, like that.

When we read back our notes of what he said to us, the hallmark that he said to us―more than any other word―was “surrender.” It was seven times. I didn’t even remember all our questions, but the response was, “surrender.” Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.

He also told us to go into the Stillness. He encouraged us to try to go into the Stillness when we could.

We were told we’d be having PB at our house. I remember being beside myself with getting it right, and the house has to be immaculate. Oh my God, it was pretty tense. We’d heard how meticulous he was. I’ll never forget when he first came in―and I was thinking, I think I’ve got this, I’ve gone crazy with the house―he walked in and bowed and looked around and then walked right over to the can opener that I had on the wall and kept looking at it. And then he ran his finger along it; he’d found a little bit of matter on it.[laughs] there’s no perfection in this world! I missed that little thing. It was hysterical―not at the time of course.

He was very jovial that night. He kept laughing, and telling us stories, and he kidded us at the table.

When he said grace he called upon the World Mind. I had the distinct feeling that the WM was right there. By his doing the grace, something beyond the ordinary was invoked, something way beyond. Another whole dimension seemed to open up around him, around us.

[About his illness in India] There was a lot of pressure on him to accept a meal from the men at the hotel [in India]. He took the lid off one of the dishes and he immediately intuited that it was poisoned. But he had given his word that he would eat, so he had just a little morsel. And he got deathly sick, deathly. It ate the stomach lining and did a lot of damage. He said he was close to death from that poison. It was touch and go. I think it affected his whole life from that point on. So we’re all sitting there, thinking, “What kind of an elevated person is this that does not break his word even if it possibly costs him his life?” What does it mean to give your word. Wow. It was a heavy story. As it turns out the owners of the hotel were communists, and were threatened by PB’s stories of Ramana. We were blown away.

I’m trying to grow into that kind of character that was demonstrated by PB. Not that I could be at that kind of level―my word is my bond―but I feel that it is an ideal for me, very important.

In thinking about it over the years, he set the bar for a certain kind of aspiration and character that you could spend your lifetime working towards. We were dumbfounded. We’re extrapolating; he just told the story. It seems almost impossible that we should be aspiring to that kind of integrity. You have to grow into it.

[PB told a story about a man who was obsessed with the curative aspects of coconut.] There was something about the way he told it―we were laughing hysterically. It was very wonderful and very jovial. He felt really blessed in his presence; it was very powerful.

He goofed on us a lot; he got us laughing. I got kind of embarrassed because I was laughing so hard. PB got a big grin on his face, like, I really got these guys.

It was a very dry summer, and I remember X complaining to PB about the lack of rain. PB said, so why don’t we look into how to get the rain to come? It hadn’t rained for 2 or 3 weeks. It was so dry. After lunch I helped him put his trench coat on, and all of a sudden it started to rain. Everyone looked at each other. That was pretty special.

He was incredibly powerful, yet the feeling that the body was frail.


 

There was this incredible graciousness. It didn’t take too long until he put us at ease, an incredible ease. When I first went in my heart was racing.

I told PB that my meditation was very dry. He said, you know for some people to get that devotion back it’s very helpful to go into nature. I knew that, but I had forgotten. He says, the same life force that is running through the trees is running through you.


 

PB said, “Religions have failed to instill ethical precepts. This is really their one basic function, to educate the masses, but they have not done this. Except for Quakerism and Buddhism, which succeeded in opposing violence, religions have failed to teach the Law of Karma.”

From what we know from mentalism, a thought held repeatedly and intensely enough over a period of time will necessarily lead to an outer explosion. This is how wars start.

[About end-of-life] suffering instead of going ahead and dropping this life and starting the next one. Terrible.

X: It’s a fine distinction between this and euthanasia.

PB: And what is wrong with euthanasia? There is a humane way.

PB: Suffering of different kinds can bring about either a fast or a slow enlightenment. I’m not using “enlightenment” in the highest sense here…Most people don’t gain from suffering. It shakes their faith. They say, Why does this happen to me? They become bitter.

“However, there are many people who do get direct, positive benefits from suffering. You’ve doubtless heard of many cases of people who had experiences of higher consciousness. I have material I could gather together for books on persons having experiences out of extreme pain or danger.”

[Re: a math professor]: “He had a serious disease and was to be operated on; there was a strong chance of dying during the operation. As he was going under the anesthesia he suddenly had an experience of pure consciousness. He had been studying this all his life―and now he recognized that he was experiencing the very thing that he’d been intellectualizing for so long. He lived five more years and maintained that state of bliss for the rest of his life.”

“The Buddha was being unfair to the body; it has its dark and its light sides. The body is a source of suffering but if it were only that there would be universal suicide.”

“When you realize this consciousness you still see the ego. It’s a smaller circle within a larger circle. You see the ego and the body for what they’re worth and how long they will last. You are not the ego but you can use the ego. This consciousness is a part of you and it’s only natural for you to seek it. Part of you isn’t here. The greater part has been left out and it’s just part of the process of becoming fully human to realize this consciousness.”


 

[While staying at the Center a few months after seeing PB:] Upon completing the regular meditation session, I felt inclined to go upstairs and continue my meditation alone. Not long after I began, I was overwhelmed by a tremendous yearning to "feel" God. I felt that my life from that point on would be absolutely useless and barren without some tangible sense of a Higher Power. My feelings of anguish intensified, until I found myself shaking and sobbing and pleading for some sign of Divinity. Finally, in utter despair, I threw my head down on the ground overcome by the thought that all I wanted to do was serve God.

Slowly, and almost imperceptibly, a sense of calm stole over me. A delightful gentleness wafted through my mind, comforting and reassuring me. In ITS presence I felt that there was never any time that I was not serving God, that God was always there and that my life was inseparable from the Divine Power. A sense of light permeated me. The session ended and I felt very much relieved and blessed.

That night as I lay in bed to sleep, I became aware once again of some force other than my own taking command of my thoughts. Under its influence I felt compelled to vividly and intensely imagine my own death (What would "I" be after this body was no more?). For a few moments I struggled with the urge that was gripping me, but then I suddenly realized that it was my very being that was attempting to communicate with me and I let go. As I did so I felt a soaring sense of expansion. It was as though I was lifted out of my body (although there was no actual imagery to that effect, just an overall feeling of being lifted) and I felt my consciousness grow wider. I knew then that I was not the body and that I could never die. The entire experience lasted only a short while, whereupon I fell into a deep sleep lasting several hours.

When I awoke the state of mind from the night before had “settled” and deepened. Everything had slowed down and become very quiet. I walked outside into the early morning air and it was as if I hovered over myself. I could see that what I previously took to be myself, my ego, was a series of thoughts arising in my mind. Just thoughts. I was a thought and yet I was above the thoughts looking down on them. Even more strange was the recognition of MIND being everywhere. The "world out there" and the mind associated with the body were of the same stuff. There was one essence running through everything like a song. Most of the time we make so much noise we don't hear it. The world feels separate and different and we don't see that it is all of a piece. This is how it always is--we experience this all the time.


 

I was reading PB and I just stopped for a moment and closed my eyes and I was flooded―just absolutely infinite golden light. It was just endless and golden and totally full―and then the phone rang and it was gone. It was one of those things where I just decided to close my eyes to contemplate what I had just read. My intuition knew it before I did. That made a big impression on me.

In the interview, PB said [in response to a question about the meaning of snake imagery for the student], “You're surrounded by many, many egotistical people. And to whatever extent you have power over yourself, they won't have power over you.” It feels to me like a lifelong assignment.

[On another occasion] X came to my house and brought a card from PB. It said, “The divine strength is with you.” He said that I was deeply disturbed and that I needed this. That was a very mysterious communication and kind of haunting.


 

X asked what PB's relationship was to the group in Ithaca. He said that he was a longtime friend of Tony's and therefore naturally had an interest in what Tony [Damiani] is doing. He described himself as sympathetic observer. He added that many groups study his books.

I wondered what happened at death for non-yogis. He said, death was quite different for questers, the faithful, and disbelievers. He stressed the differences. Questers went through death more consciously, whether or not their quest was successful in life. Faithful persons get what they believe in, a continuation, and will sometimes get a glimpse of the higher self. Questers, in nearly all cases, achieve what they fail to achieve in life. By that he meant that there was a glimpse of the higher self. After the glimpse there is a prolonged period of sleep, after which the quester wakes up in the after-life to resume the efforts. This is a direct quote: “We spend more time out of the body than in.” It's easier to make progress after death; both the physical handicaps are removed and sufferings were removed and one didn't have such obstacles. Things were not so pleasant for the wicked.

He said that each has a spiritual mission in life, so immediately I thought he was talking external but he said no, it was contemplation for most everyone.

The result of the long path is equanimity, calmness.

Ecstasy when experiencing a mystical state is due to its novelty―happens when the state is new.

We were in the beginnings of the Aquarian age, the upward swing of the Kali Yuga.


 

Anger and desire are two great evils. “One has to understand and control sexual energy.”

“Occult powers aren't safe to use until you give them up.”

Long path: Despise the world, despise yourself, despise yourself for despising yourself. Short path: glorify world, glorify your Self, glorify lower self. Ignore your negativity. One can do both long and short paths together.

“There is such a thing as 'higher mediumship:' it's the higher self working through you. Ordinary mediumship should be avoided. Those born with mediumistic temperaments should not meditate at all.”

About the quest, “Keep your sense of humor and keep relaxed.” In Zen, they know how to make jokes about the quest. Balance is important: “Feet on the earth though head is in the clouds.”

PB had just received a copy of the Swedish The Secret Path. It has a picture of the sun on the cover. “What's that?” he said. “A comet? PB is a comet over Sweden.” He added, in a jokey way, that we should tell people that he travels around in a spaceship, lives on another planet, and is just coming down to earth to visit publishers and some students.

PB said, in regard to giving references to a company, that he could give “personal, financial, and celestial references.”

If you are in Eternal Now you have no memory; memory is tied up with ego. The ego is built of memory. If you remove it, you weaken the ego. “Let the past go―forget it. That is one way to weaken the tyranny of the ego.”

PB told me to stop pushing hard on the quest: “The message is, take it easy.”

Anthony [Damiani] sent me to PB for a very specific problem: attacks of sudden, apparently unprovoked anxiety. Not panic attacks, per se, but a cold anxiety. So when I met PB, I was surprised when one of the first things he asked me was whether I had ever used a ouija board. In fact, I had. “You are very mediumistic,” he said. “You must get rid of that.” He said that if one weren't mediumistic the use of Ouija probably wouldn't hurt. PB mentioned that he had had some difficulties of this kind as well when he was younger. PB also told me I was under psychic attack―not possession!―and part of the reason was my two uses of LSD. Drugs like this, he said, rip holes in the protective subtle sheath that we ordinarily carry around us.

After a quiet moment, he told me he was not “permitted” to take of care of the attack for me, the implication being that he takes orders, as it were, from...well, some higher source. PB recommended that I stop meditating for a while. When I resisted, he smiled and said, “What's the hurry?”

Two years later PB gave me an exercise to raise the kundalini; strict celibacy was required. Anthony [Damiani] was alarmed when I told him, and muttered that PB must think that he, Anthony, was up to guiding me through kundalini, but he wasn't confident that this was so. He warned that there are dangers to raising the kundalini: If the kundalini doesn't hit the thousand-petal lotus and goes down into the lower three chakras the results will be the opposite of what intended.

On one occasion PB was sitting next to me on a train. He told me I had to help my father get on the quest. I thought to myself, but didn't say, that my father was already so ethical. PB immediately turned to me, exactly as if I had spoken out loud, and said, “But ethics aren't enough.”

On another, he told me and X to take a nap right after our lunch with him. We went back to our hotel and sat cross-legged on our beds chatting energetically. Very suddenly it was impossible to stay awake; we simultaneously sank onto the pillows. All I know is that I then “saw” a seed shape―a vesica!--entering my heart. Within it was a timelessness in which my entire future development existed simultaneously ―I saw it all. Then, I popped back into space/time and could retrieve none of the details...so frustrating! Fifteen minutes had gone by. X awoke at the same time and reported being “rocked in a paradisical state.”


 

When I came to see PB I arrived late [because of travel]. My hair was standing on end; my big socks were curling around my feet. I pressed the bell on his door and there he was. I looked into his eyes directly because I wanted to know if he really knew what he was writing about—I know that sounds arrogant! I got such a deep impression of this peace that was radiating from him. I knew it was inappropriate to kneel, there on the staircase and in that setting. But my soul was kneeling to him when he stood in the door. My soul was on its knees. I had never met anyone before that had that effect on me. I felt awe—and I was not a humble person. This feeling remains today—that he is my master and I bow down to him.

He ushered me in and we sat down right away. He didn't ask why I was late, nothing. This peace and absolute silence descended in the room, on me, on us. And I felt myself whirling toward the center, some center, not my own but maybe of the earth or the universe, I can't tell. And then all impressions ended and I have no idea how long we were sitting like that—at least half an hour. Afterwards we went out in the kitchen and I was giggling, like a child, without inhibition. Like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Within a few weeks I had this experience. I was drawn through like a dark tunnel, like you hear described in near-death experiences. I exploded in light on the other side of the tunnel and I was in a heavenly world of light and knowledge. I was not myself, I was just there. I sat in my chair for hours. It was like a Niagara Falls of light coming through my body from just the touch of that heavenly sphere. It was an incredible ecstasy that just went on and on. I had the intuition afterwards that it would be a long time before I would have that experience again and that I would have to learn discipline. [Laughs]. That's the message I got. “Discipline” was an unknown word to me; I had never tried to discipline myself!

I'm still very inspired by him. It gave me hope—for me. Somewhere to lean. I have him to thank for everything.


 

I don't remember anything we talked about. I remember being nervous, and feeling that my house wasn't perfect, and that I didn't really understand who this person was—really. I think I was judging myself; I didn't feel judged by him! But it was all very numinous at the same time. He was so quiet, and so calm, and so gentlemanly, and just not like somebody I was used to seeing.


 

I was just brought into complete light; I'd never been there before. In the space I was in there was nothing but I didn't understand exactly what it was. It was definitely a transmission—absolutely—and a gift. It was through that gift that I was definitely in a witness position, but deeper than that. I was in a different place, close to my heart. It was a marvelous transport. Then my life became totally different and it was transformed because I became mindful. It's a different life now, a thoughtful life. Now it's easy to go into meditation; it's always immediate.


 

P.B. is so difficult to speak about because, at least to me, he seems always tuned to the reality he describes in these writings. So describing what it was like to be in his presence is like trying to describe what it is like to stand—or cook, or work, or shop, or eat, or think for that matter—in its presence. On one hand, there was an ego, a highly individualized person, that I could relate to (in his case a remarkably refined, sophisticated, educated, and gentlemanly one); on the other, there was simply no ignoring a pure, clear stillness in the presence of which nothing—especially myself—could be seen in the same way as before. The relationship at the more ordinary level was interesting enough; but it was how he helped people discover themselves in that other presence that made him so extraordinary.

The constant presence of this other “dimension” was sometimes exquisitely nourishing, sometimes terrifying. On occasion it made for an intimacy infinitely greater than I have ever felt with any lover. There were moments when I knew his thoughts, felt at least some part of his peace, and he knew I knew and felt them. There were other times when it was painfully clear that thoughts or feelings I would have liked to hide were plain as day to him. How things went at any given time depended on how much I clung to out-of-sync habits and desires, and how much I could let them slip away and open up to the rhythm of that particular day.

He seemed sometimes amused by the process, at other times not so amused. But tears came like never before when I first realized that despite his seeing all my flaws he also saw something much deeper in me—something I had always hoped was true—and that his bottomless love for it was always there. When I could love it like he did, all the rest was forgiven. I don't mean he forgave me—there was no sense of his having the slightest thought or feeling that he needed to forgive me for anything. It was simply that in the light of that deeper something, so capable and worthy of love, the rest is nonessential; the best was all that was really worthy of attention, and it could be lived.

I write reluctantly about this, and only because others have since told me they had the same experience with him. At bottom, it says much more about him than it does about us.

The Sage's Mind

One afternoon I asked him, “What exactly is it about a sage's mind that makes that mind so different from the rest of us?” It was one of many questions I asked that he didn't originally seem to intend to answer. But I persisted and finally he asked me, “Well what do you think it is?”

I said that I had never been able to believe that it could be omniscience in the sense of knowing everything at once; but I didn't think it unreasonable to conceive that when a sage wants or needs to know, he could turn his mind toward it in a certain way and that knowledge would just arise.

P.B. laughed heartily and answered, “It's not even that good!”

“Well, how good is it?”

“It has really nothing to do with knowledge, or continuity of intuition, or frequency of intuitions. It's that the mind has been made over into the Peace in an irreversible way. No form that the mind takes can alter the Peace.”

“You could say it's a kind of knowledge,” he continued, “in this sense. If the mind takes the form of truth, the sage knows it's truth. If it doesn't, then he knows that it's not. He's never in doubt about whether the mind has knowledge or not. But whether it does or not, his Peace is not disturbed.”

I asked if that meant that someone could go to a sage for help and the sage would be unable to help them. He replied that sometimes the intuition comes, sometimes it doesn't; he explained that when it doesn't come, the sage knows he has nothing to do for that person. The continuity or frequency of the intuitions has to do with the sage's mission, not with what makes a sage a sage.

“You must understand,” he said, “that there is no condition in which the Overself is at your beck and call. But there is a condition in which you are continuously at the Overself's beck and call. That's the condition to strive for.”

As he spoke these words, he was the humblest man I had ever seen before or since. For all the extraordinary things about him, all the glamorous inner and outer experiences, all the remarkable effects his writings and example have had on others, that humility is what seems to be the most important fact about him.

It was the first key he turned when he turned his mind to write. And fortunately for me and many others, it often sufficed for the door to open and let a sacramental presence illuminate doubts and questions common to us all.


 

PB and I sat on a bench in the shade and he fell asleep. I had to put my arm around him to prevent him from tipping. He slept about 15 minutes, and then we went back to Vevey. He insisted on paying for everything (“this is my territory”). He also returned the check [given by Wisdom's Goldenrod Philosophic Center], as he feels he cannot accept it. PB spoke of having given thousands of interviews, and said he now deserves some time alone.

PB picked me up at eight by taxi to go to the warehouse where his things are stored. So many trunks, suitcases, and boxes—mostly of books. He gave me a couple of shirts to wear as it was a little chilly. He has many interesting clothes and little boxes and so forth from all over the world: Tibetan cymbals, robes, tea, and lots of incense.

PB told about a secretary he hired who knew nothing of quester subjects. She worked for a few months and then one morning she didn't show up at the usual time. A few hours later she came to work. Shortly before lunch she asked if he wanted to know why she was late. He said, yes, he was curious. She said that after she awoke she had a trance and felt she couldn't move and remained in her chair. Now, she said, she could understand what he was writing about.

He told me about a healer, William MacMillian, who wrote The Reluctant Healer. He meditated each morning for an hour to an hour and a half; he forgot his body and his ego and connected to the Higher. Then he was ready to work. He only took patients that doctors couldn't cure, and when he met them, he intuitively knew whether or not he could cure them. If yes, he asked them to lie down and lightly massaged the sick area. Heat was aroused in that area; this was kundalini heat. He then had the patient sleep for about a quarter of an hour. He scheduled eight a day, and often felt exhausted afterwards. He regarded himself as a professional and charged money; charging for use of spiritual powers may have contributed to his early heart attack. PB spoke to him about it but he wouldn't change. PB would have worked half-time healing and half-time at another job, or maybe would have put out a bowl for donations.

PB likes colored lights. He said orange is vitalizing; red is too passionate; gold and yellow are ethereal. He likes to meditate under the red or blue light. He asked if I see auras; I said that close to the body I see blue. He said the etheric varies from green to blue.

Noise bothers PB. You should cut and not tear vegetables. They emit little screams. Would you prefer to be broken or cut? I said I'd never thought about it.

I asked if we could have his manuscripts and the other material he has written over the years on scraps of paper etc. He said they would have to be typed. I said we would organize them, type them, and index them so as to make them accessible to those who use our library. He agreed.

On walks a few times PB complained of the body being a burden and he didn't know if it was worth the trouble any more.

I thanked PB for the opportunity to be with him, that it has helped in terms of the demand on me to be mindful. I apologized for my reactions that were negative and said that it was hard to do anything about them all at once. He said, yes, that the road wasn't straight but that one had to call oneself back to the higher. I said that being in the presence of a sage was hard work, a constant strain to do what the higher wants instead of my egotistic wishes. He said that there was no rush, the self can't be lost. Sometimes one is very close to it without being in it.

A 50-cent piece fell to the floor and he said to forget it. I pointed out that it would get him ¾ of the way home. He said he has a celestial address!

Animals have astral but not causal bodies.

I asked about the after-death experiences: if people in the astral were locked in their own imaginations or if they contacted others—or both? PB agreed with the latter. The body is a burden that prevents strong imaginative powers from working.

He told me about the current Sai Baba who produces rings. Some were fake, but not all. The rings were said to be dematerialized from various locations—shipwrecks etc.—and brought to him. These manifestations inspire the faith of his followers. We spoke of other types of magic such as healing. Jesus healed to give people a sign of spiritual reality. Faith is a great part of any healing. If a person doesn't want to live, the life energy will wane and they will die. The question of faith healing in general came up: whether or not it is a good idea. Theosophists say it is an interference with one's karma. The cures don't always work; sometimes there is a relapse. Healing is a form of white magic.


 

During my time with PB I had the responsibility of doing PB’s grocery shopping. For this, he gave me a hundred Swiss Francs at the beginning of my visit, and each day I went into town and bought the necessary items – fresh bread at the bakery, organic biodynamic vegetables at the farmers market, etc. As the money diminished, I made a decision that I would secretly donate the necessary funds and not take any more money from PB. So after a few days, when he asked me if I needed any money, I said, no, that there was still plenty. He seemed slightly surprised, but did not say anything and seemed to accept my “white lie.” A few days later he asked again, and after receiving the same response from me, he said with a mystical smile on his face: “It is interesting how long a hundred francs can last!” After that he did not inquire any more about money and I continued to provide the necessary funds on my own for the daily shopping. On the last day of my visit, as we were saying goodbye, PB tried to give me a large sum of money. I felt that I could and would not take anything from PB, so I resisted and said that I could not accept it. But as he persisted, firmly and insistently, I felt that I could not disobey or disregard the wishes of someone who I view as a Sage and who was my “maha-guru” (the teacher of my teacher). I therefore reluctantly accepted the money that he was offering. To my disbelief, later on when I counted the money, it was exactly the same amount that I had spent from my own pocket on PB’s groceries. So in the end, both PB and I gave each other a gift, and in addition he gave me a lesson to ponder for the rest of my life.

Being in the presence of PB was to be in the presence of an immense stillness-silence-peace. It was an aura that he lived in, a “peace that passeth understanding.” It wasn’t that he was “in peace” or “at peace” – it was as if he was peace, or one with peace. Across Lake Geneva from the apartment that he lived in and visible from the balcony was Mount Blanc, a great silent white mountain that seemed to reflect physically the intense silence of PB himself. It felt like there was a parallel or a polarity or some kind of cosmic balance between the two – outside the great silent mountain, inside the physically small, silent PB, each on opposite sides of the great lake, across from each other, and somehow together with each other. (The fact that the person in the apartment below PB’s occasionally liked to listen to Elvis Presley, and that we could sometimes hear Elvis’ crooning, created an interesting juxtaposition, which in any case did not manage to disturb the silence, perhaps instead “flavoring” it in an unexpected and humorous way). Inside of this silence, there was nothing to reflect my ego, nothing to project its thoughts on. So, to some extent, I also experienced a kind of silence when I was with him. When my mind produced thoughts in PB’s presence, it felt to me as if a bomb was going off and I was truly worried that my thoughts were disturbing PB. So, I asked him if I was disturbing him and he said no. In fact he seemed to not know what I was talking about. Sometimes these thoughts accumulated themselves and exploded into what I called an “ego attack” and the silence which I felt with him was gone until I recovered. When another student (Tim Smith) came from Wisdom’s Goldenrod, there were now three of us, and the presence of another ego allowed my mind to become active and gave it a means of externalizing itself.

In PB’s presence it was easy to lose track of time. Even while there were a daily routine and schedule, being with him was about the moment and the presence. Another characteristic of PB was his smile, his mysterious Mona Lisa smile, a faint upturning of both sides of the mouth that hinted at secret knowledge, other dimensions, and perhaps other universes, an other-world-ness that was both a here and a not here. The mystery smile to end all smiles. (The sub-category in the Notebooks called “The Yoga of the Liberating Smile” may be of interest). Finally, there was almost always total silence in PB’s apartment. The phone almost never rang, and no one ever came to the door unless it was for an anticipated, prearranged interview (or Elvis Presley making an appearance downstairs.

Sometimes when sitting with PB I felt a profound immense love and an incredible powerful intimacy. It was nothing like what I had been taught to consider as human love. It was love strained of emotion, passion, eros, and all the other familiar elements that seemed to define it, raised to a celestial state. It felt almost impossible to believe that it was possible.

Although PB lived as a hermit in almost complete isolation from his immediate physical environment, he was a busy person. He had an extensive international correspondence, with letters coming in daily. He was an avid reader and had a system of marking books in the margins with dots, so that the sections identified could be typed up by someone for his library. His literary estate had to be managed, including new editions of his books, foreign translations, and corrections that needed to be made to existing books of his. And he kept up with the news of current events. Regarding his correspondence, PB said that he answered all letters, in one form or another. There were different ways that he responded: Some he wrote personally in his own handwriting and he signed the letter; other letters he dictated to me and then signed himself; still others, he summarized what he wanted to say and I wrote the letter for him, with him signing it; and sometimes after summarizing what he wanted to say he had me write and sign it myself, saying that “PB asked me to write you….” So there were varying degrees of physical involvement that PB had with his correspondence. Finally, PB stated that he answered some letters mentally, but that not all of the writers were receptive enough to receive his response.

PB was very interested in hearing about the Dalai Lama’s first visit to Wisdoms Goldenrod, which had occurred a few months before. At that time there were some students there from Sweden for a short visit, so we all sat in PB’s living room and listened to a tape that PB had of Tibetan Buddhist chanting, while I gave a report of the visit. The atmosphere was amazing and it felt as if the Dalai Lama was actually in the room with us. When we were finished PB commented: “So, the Center has had a real Tibetan Buddhist initiation.”

I have always had a fondness for the Hindu namaste greeting, in which you place your palms together and bow to the other person, which is a gesture that means: “I bow to the God within you.” One day upon leaving PB’s apartment, he accompanied me to the door, and before parting I turned around and offered him a namaste. He responded with the same. I have experienced this ritual hundreds, or even thousands of times and it is very habitual for me. It seems like a “nice thing to do.” But this time something was different, something profound and amazing. PB was actually bowing to the God within me, actually perceiving the God within me, and actually doing what is intended by the gesture.

My final physical contact with PB was as follows. I had to take the train to the airport from the small village that he lived in on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, and PB had to go somewhere else. So we went to the train station together. After saying goodbye, we each went to the platform for our respective trains. As I stood on mine waiting for the train, I saw PB across the tracks entering and walking across his platform. But he was not really walking as one does in physical space. It seemed as if he was floating across the space, motionless (although his body was physically moving), almost as if he was on a conveyor belt, a being composed of a diaphanous, non-physical substance. And he seemed to be in a different psychic space, one in which I no longer existed. There was no attempt, as a more “normal person” would have done, to wave to me, smile, or exchange glances across the train tracks. It seemed as if I no longer existed. Only PB floating effortlessly through space.