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Encounter #1

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.