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March 2018 – A Search in Secret India – Chapter IX, “The Hill of the Holy Beacon”

While on the boat-train to Arunachala, PB questions whether there is such a thing as destiny as he finds himself strangely guided towards the Maharshi. He muses, “Past experience has taught me full well that seemingly unimportant happenings sometimes play an unexpected part in composing the picture of one’s life.” (p.134) From the seat in the bullock cart in which they are riding, the mountain comes into view and PB finds a feeling of awe arising in him. As his companion guides him into the hall of the Maharshi, he perceives a seated figure upon a long white divan: the Maharshi, in a trance, gazing rigidly through the window. The reception is characterized by complete indifference. (pp.140-141) As the second hour passes, PB becomes aware of a steady stream of quietness, and PB asks himself, “Does this man, the Maharshi, emanate the perfume of spiritual peace as the flower emanates fragrance from its petals?” Questions disappear from PB’s mind.

Later PB has the opportunity to voice his concerns as he asks, “Is there anything beyond man’s material existence.? If so, how can I realize it for myself?” He continues, “Can you assist me to experience spiritual enlightenment? Or is the search a mere illusion? I have questioned the sages of the West; now I have turned my face towards the East. I seek more light.” The Maharshi nods his head, as if to say, “Yes, I quite understand.” At last his lips open, and he says gently, “You say I. ‘want to know.’ Tell me, who is that I? (p. 144) After assuring PB that the I is not the body, the Maharshi continues , “Know first that I and then you shall know the truth. Through deep reflection on the nature of one’s self, and through constant meditation, the light can be found.” PB replies, “I have frequently given myself up to meditation upon the truth, but I see no signs of progress.” “How do you know no progress has been made? It is not easy to perceive one’s progress in the spiritual realm.” “Is the help of a spiritual master necessary?” “It might be.” “Can a master help a man to look into his own self in the way you suggest?” “He can give the man all that he needs for this quest. Such a thing can be perceived through personal experience.” “How long will it take to get some enlightenment with a master’s help?” “It all depends on the maturity of the seeker’s mind. The gunpowder catches fire in an instant, while much time is needed to set fire to the coal.” “Will the Maharshi express an opinion about the future of the world, for we are living in critical times?” “Why should you trouble yourself about the future? You do not even properly know about the present! Take care of the present; the future will then take care of itself. PB’s questions continue. “Will the world soon enter a new era of friendliness and mutual help, or will it go down into chaos and war?” “There is One who governs the world and it is His lookout to look after the world. He who has given life to the world, knows how to look after it also. He bears the burden of this world, not you.…. As you are so is the world. Without understanding yourself, what is the use of trying to understand the world? This is a question that seekers after truth need not consider. People waste their energies over all such questions. First, find out the truth behind yourself; then you will be in a better position to understand the truth behind the world, of which yourself is a part.” PB senses that the interview has come to an end. (p. 145-146 )