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Encounter #3

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?”