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.
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 the “few 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
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)
- Satprem, Adventures of Consciousness, Sleep and Death, p 121
- Rob Sacks interview with David Godman. http://davidgodman.org/interviews/rs1.shtml