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Encounter #4

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. We 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.