Receiving guidance from Masters of a bygone age

At the risk of sounding like a crackpot, the topic indicated in the title deserves exploration because it is pertinent to the spiritual quest.  Many spiritual aspirants, devoid of a living Guru, do at times wonder in one of their despondent moods if it is possible to receive  spiritual guidance from Enlightened Masters who had lived before.   This question is all the more relevant in an age where the thirst for something spiritual is abundant and so are the charlatans  who masquerade as teachers.  In this article, we speculate on the prospects with a few examples.

Photo: farhad. Click image for source

Enlightened Masters who leave their physical body do not disappear into thin air; they continue to exist in subtle forms in the higher occult worlds and may take rebirth later if required.  In line with Douglas MacArthur‘s famous aphorism “Old soldiers never die; they fade away“, one may say “Old Masters never die; they exist in eternity“.   Satprem in his delightful book Adventures of Consciousness stealthily delivers a revelation when he writes of thefew great beings whose psychic has in a sense colonized vast stretches of consciousness, and who protect the world with their silent light. (1).   Such great beings do exist but one cannot come into contact with them until one has purified oneself over the years with great effort.  In some cases, the guidance may come in the form of dreams and visions and in other cases, it may be through an  imperceptible influence over one’s thought process – one may later realize that one has unknowingly done the right thing after surrendering one’s will to a Higher Power.  It goes without saying that in all such situations one must beware of hallucinations, and pinch oneself from time to time !

That only which we have within, can we see without.
If we meet no gods, it is because we harbor none.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

We will cover a few instances where guidance was received from Masters who had left their body.

Silviu Craciunas, a Romanian, was being tortured in prison around 1954 by the Communist regime in his country.  He was thinking of committing suicide when he began having visions of an unknown Indian sage, whose name he heard as ‘Aurobin Dogos” (a homonym for the real name “Aurobindo Ghosh”).   The sage told him to persevere in the face of odds, to survive with stoicism by adapting his reactions to the torture.  After he got out of prison, he wrote a book wherein he discussed these visions which helped him survive his ordeal.   It is not known if he ever discovered that the Indian sage that he had seen in his visions had actually lived and passed away in 1950.  For more on this episode, see an earlier post : Silviu Craciunas has a dream of Sri Aurobindo

Early in his spiritual quest, Sri Aurobindo himself had received spiritual guidance from Sri Ramakrishna and his disciple, Swami Vivekananda.   This has been covered in an earlier post : Sri Ramakrishna’s occult contact with Sri Aurobindo.

Paul Brunton in his mesmerizing book Search in Secret India regales us with a few instances where such guidance was received.   Paramahansa Yogananda in his spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi also discusses his contact with Masters who had left their body.

There are possibly documented stories of other mystics, over the ages and in other parts of the world, who have received similar contact.   Now we turn to a more recent example.  David Godman currently lives in India and is British by birth.  Early in his life, he came across the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and was deeply influenced by them.  He entertained the desire to visit India but realized that money was an obstacle.   How he came to India and eventually stayed there for twenty-five years, organizing Ramana Maharshi’s teachings and writing books on them, is a fascinating story which has been described in his interview with Rob Sacks.   The following is an excerpt from this interview, where he discusses how his finances seem to be arranged by a Greater Power.  The complete interview can be read at his website

(RS  stands for Rob Sacks, DG stands for David Godman)

RS: Can we backtrack a little? Can you tell me something about your own background, some details of your family and how you came to be interested in Ramana Maharshi?

DG:…I worked on a kibbutz on the Dead Sea and while I was there decided I could have a quick trip to India and Ramanasramam before I went back to Ireland. I figured out the costs and realised I couldn’t afford it unless another $200 appeared from somewhere. I decided that if Bhagavan (i.e. Ramana Maharshi) wanted me to go to India, he would send me the money. Within a week I received a letter from my grandmother’s lawyer saying that he had just found some shares that she owned, and that my share of them would be $200. I came to India, expecting to stay six weeks, and have been here more or less ever since.

(… a little later in the interview…)

RS: How have you supported yourself in India all these years?

DG: I didn’t. Grace supported me. I have found that if you give all your time to God and his work, then he looks after you. I came here with $500 in 1976. I didn’t earn money for twenty years, but I always had enough to live on. Until I left Lucknow I gave the proceeds from all my books to the various organisations that supported me while I was writing them.

When I first came to Arunachala I fell in love with the place and wanted to stay as long as I could. I knew I didn’t have much money, but I wanted to make it last as long as possible. There was a meter ticking away in my head: I have so much money, I am spending so much per day, and that means I have so many more days here. Those numbers, those equations were there all the time. Then, one day, as I was doing pradakshina(circumambulation) of Arunachala, it all dropped away. It wasn’t a mental decision. I stopped walking, turned, and faced the hill. I knew in that moment that whatever power had brought me here would keep me here until its purpose was finished, and that when it was time to go, it wouldn’t matter if I was a millionaire or not, I would have to leave. From then on I stopped caring about money. In the period that I was worrying about money, all I did was spend. When I stopped caring, complete strangers would come up to me and give me money. Whenever I needed money, money just appeared out of nowhere.

RS: Can you give me an example of how this worked?

DG: When I volunteered to look after Lakshmana Swamy’s land in the late 80s, I had about $20 to my name. Somebody in Canada whom I had spoken to for about ten minutes two years before got out of bed and suddenly felt that he should give me some money. He sent me $1,000, which was enough to get the garden going. I lived like that for years. When you work for Gurus, God pays the bills. That’s my experience anyway. (2)

References

  1. Satprem, Adventures of Consciousness, Sleep and Death, p 121
  2. Rob Sacks interview with David Godman.  http://davidgodman.org/interviews/rs1.shtml
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16 thoughts on “Receiving guidance from Masters of a bygone age

  1. kalpana

    It seems to be the case, from reading this post that many spiritual aspirants can relate to, that these factors seem significant:
    1] one’s state of consciousness/receptivity
    2] a crisis/stress point where there is a breakthrough like a bolt of lightening, even when not a spiritual aspirant [the prisoner mentined]
    3] an aim in the consciouness, which like a magnet attracts what is needed
    I would also like to add that help sometimes comes in a very subtle way, which is often overlooked due to the ‘chitta-vritti/mind-turbulences] and the ‘radar’ not being sensitive. I think Mother has said something on this, that aspirations are answered, but we are unable/unwilling to see how.

    Reply
  2. Diane

    I think this is a rather important post because it reminds me of how I have wondered over the years, why Sri Aurobindo and the Mother never nominated someone to take their place as a living Guru. I have had a number of ideas over the years, but as time has gone by the issue has seemed less important.
    I think once the Silent Mind has been attained, even in the most limited way, one is able to receive guidance from the subtle plane. Of course one needs to be completely surrendered when accepting the guidance as intermediate plane entities may pose as higher beings. I have found by simply saying “I am only guided by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother” suffices. Obviously there may be other higher beings whose assistance could be beneficial, but my devotion is to Them and I am happy to be totally devoted to their guidance.
    I do have a story from 20 years ago though. At the time I had a living guru, my time their lasted about 7 years, as there is nothing like the hot house of an Ashram to burn off the sanskaras 🙂
    While with my Guru, One day I was walking to work and I had to cross a 6 lane highway with a pedestrian refuge in the middle, as I was walking towards the crossing, I saw this female figure hovering about 20 feet above the crossing, I wondered, but continued on. When I was on the crossing this voice said very clearly “beware” and I was sort of stunned so I stopped for a minute on the pedestrian refuge. There were 3 lanes but only 2 had cars which had stopped for the pedestrians, and then suddenly out of nowhere a car sped up through the middle lane and across the crossing without stopping, it is certain if I had not received the warning I would have been dead meat 🙂 I have always believed in helpers since that time
    In Their Light
    Diane

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Modalities of the Initiation process (Diksha) | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  4. Sandeep Post author

    A passage from Savitri on the immortals, who have been freed from the cycle of rebirth

    Only the Immortals on their deathless heights
    Dwelling beyond the walls of Time and Space,
    Masters of living, free from the bonds of Thought,
    Who are overseers of Fate and Chance and Will
    And experts of the theorem of world-need,
    Can see the Idea, the Might that change Time’s course,
    Come maned with light from undiscovered worlds,
    Hear, while the world toils on with its deep blind heart,
    The galloping hooves of the unforeseen event,
    Bearing the superhuman Rider, near
    And, impassive to earth’s din and startled cry,
    Return to the silence of the hills of God;
    As lightning leaps, as thunder sweeps, they pass
    And leave their mark on the trampled breast of Life.
    (Sri Aurobindo Savitri, Book I, Canto IV)

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Can I have more than one Guru? | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  6. mike

    “I think this is a rather important post because it reminds me of how I have wondered over the years, why Sri Aurobindo and the Mother never nominated someone to take their place as a living Guru. I have had a number of ideas over the years, but as time has gone by the issue has seemed less important.
    I think once the Silent Mind has been attained, even in the most limited way, one is able to receive guidance from the subtle plane. Of course one needs to be completely surrendered when accepting the guidance as intermediate plane entities may pose as higher beings. I have found by simply saying “I am only guided by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother” suffices”

    Yes Diane, l totally agree,
    There are those who claim to be carrying on for THEM, like M.Meera, but very dubious in my opinion, and unless SA and Mother tell me face to face, l’ll be staying well away from her.
    l’ve had quite a few meetings with SA and Mother on the subtle planes, but as you say, the intermediate zone is probably full of imposters. l think your right; just calling on SA and Mother is enough to banish anything masquerading as them. l usually remember, but not always. The other night, before going to sleep, l saw SA’s symbol at my third-eye centre, so l believe His Protection is with me.
    l remember reading most of Paul Brunton’s books at one time. l believe he went to the ashram to see SA, but wasn’t allowed to stay because SA told him he had certain problems. Brunton agreed with this. He also said somewhere that he felt a Presence following him around, and later [after seeing SA , l think] found out that the Presence was Sri Aurobindo [who confirmed it , l believe].

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      l believe he went to the ashram to see SA, but wasn’t allowed to stay because SA told him he had certain problems. Brunton agreed with this.

      Do you recall where you might have read this? I found the reference for the part about Brunton having problems

      Sri Aurobindo: And yet Brunton is a seeker of the Truth, though he has serious difficulties.
      (Nirodbaran. Talks with Sri Aurobindo, 23 December 1938, vol 1, page 53)

      He also said somewhere that he felt a Presence following him around, and later [after seeing SA , l think] found out that the Presence was Sri Aurobindo [who confirmed it , l believe].

      That is recorded in the Evening Talks:

      Sri Aurobindo: Paul Brunton saw always some pressure accompanying him. When he saw my photo, it had nothing to resemble it but when he saw me at the Darshan, he at once recognized me as that pressure.
      (Purani, Evening Talks, 10th December, 1938, Third Series, page 6)

      Reply
  7. mike

    l’m not sure sandeep, but l’ll try to find it. There is also another conversation about him in the ‘TALKS’ on DEC 1st

    “NIRODBARAN: What are these newspaper cuttings you have brought?

    PURANI: Cuttings from Paul Brunton.

    SRI AUROBINDO: What about?

    SATYENDRA: You have already seen these reports of his views on Yoga.

    SRI AUROBINDO: Oh!

    SATYENDRA (after a pause): He says he has plumbed the depths of Yoga. At the beginning he made some foolish exaggerations about the claims of Yoga.

    SRI AUROBINDO: They were not foolish but deliberate exaggerations with plenty of imagination. He wrote with an eye to the reading public.

    Page-272

    SATYENDRA: He says he has given up his search for Yoga as he has plumbed its depths.

    SRI AUROBINDO: Yes, he wants to include Yoga in the educational curriculum. A queer affair, this European mind!

    SATYENDRA: He himself has gone in for several superficial things, magic, occult phenomena, etc. His book on Egypt has a lot of that stuff. He speaks of an Egyptian he met on the top of a hill, who prophesied the destruction of Europe.

    SRI AUROBINDO: That man 1200 years old, who had an Oxford accent in his speech? There was no Oxford accent 1200 years ago. It may be Paul Brunton’s own Egyptian self and hence the accent. That book on Egypt is—(Sri Aurobindo began to shake his head). All the same, he had some sincere seeking for Yoga. It was spoiled by all sorts of people. He ought to have left everything in the hands of Maharshi.

    PURANI: He speaks highly of Vivekananda. He says he would have occupied the same place as Gandhi.

    SRI AUROBINDO: Which place? Wardha? (Laughter)

    PURANI: He means he would have had the same influence.

    SRI AUROBINDO: That’s a different matter. He doesn’t speak of Ramakrishna?

    PURANI: No, he speaks of Vivekananda.

    SRI AUROBINDO: What was at work was Ramakrishna’s inspiration.

    SATYENDRA : The idea of starting Yoga courses is rather funny.

    SRI AUROBINDO: They have started a school on Rajayoga in America. But it has nothing of Rajayoga.

    NIRODBARAN: In Bombay also there are schools.

    SATYENDRA : They are for Hathayoga.

    SRI AUROBINDO: It was in connection with Hathayoga that I was at first puzzled. A Hathayogi was going about, lecturing that all moderns, including us, were of poor physique, with hollow cheeks. The next time I heard of him he was dead. (Laughter) He tried to be witty also: he used to say that our cheeks were like the Bay of Bengal. (Laughter) “

    Reply
  8. mike

    One fact l came across [while searching about Brunton] which l didn’t know, was that Sri Aurobindo gave darshan twice a year on NOV 22nd and March 22nd. l wonder why He chose those particular dates. lt’s a strange co-incidence that l should discover this when tomorrow is NOV. 22nd.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      He’s obviously got it wrong and some things he says about the Mother are laughable too:

      Those are not his observations but that of Mercedes de Acosta. Many people have been misled by the external form of the Mother Mirra Alfassa. It doesn’t really matter. Those who are destined for the path always come; the rest can stay away.

      Reply
  9. mike

    Thanks Sandeep, that journal was a bit confusing.
    As it happens just after reading it l came across another account by someone who was at the ashram. This person had the same reaction to Mother’s appearance when she saw it in a book. When she threw the book down [ saying the mother looked like an actress ] it fell open at a page which said ‘you cannot judge God by external appearances’ or words to that effect.
    Then, suddenly she had a Psychic opening [ which Mother confirmed much later ] and was flooded in tears [psychic weeping]. So, the other side of the coin was shown to me almost straight away lol.

    Reply
  10. Sandeep Post author

    Rumi’s poem “The Spirit of the Saints”


    There is a Water that flows down from Heaven
    To cleanse the world of sin by grace Divine.
    At last, its whole stock spent, its virtue gone.
    Dark with pollution not its own, it speeds
    Back to the Fountain of all purities;
    Whence, freshly bathed, earthward it sweeps again,
    Trailing a robe of glory bright and pure.

    This Water is the Spirit of the Saints,
    Which ever sheds, until itself is beggared,
    God’s balm on the sick soul; and then returns
    To Him who made the purest light of Heaven.

    http://www.rumi.org.uk/poems.html#THESPIRITOFTHESAINTS

    Reply
  11. Pingback: A case of Yogic Illness | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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