On the Second Maha-samadhi Anniversary of H.H. Swami Rama
Address by Swami Veda Bharati
November 13, 1998
OM! OM! OM!
This is not a sad time of remembrance but a time of serene reunion, and that is how the anniversaries of sacred beings should be observed and celebrated. Many people are still under the impression that a great being leaving his body means he has died. That is because we do not understand the meaning of life and death. For me his last book, Sacred Journey, has become a bible for guidance.
When sacred beings of the stature of our Gurudev leave the body, we do not use the same words that we use for someone else’s death. We say he has taken samadhi. We say that he has entered nirvana, maha-para nirvana. Swamiji wrote this book, he wrote this book just a little while before leaving the body or had his disciple compile it, which is one and the same thing. It will remain a guidance to those of us who feel saddened and deprived as though left incomplete, as though left unfinished. I don’t know how to convince you. Some of us do not need any convincing. Some still need the convincing that such a presence is never withdrawn; it just changes the mode of his operation or activity. There are some things accomplished by being in the body. Some things they accomplish without being in the body because the body becomes a limitation, so they choose not to use that particular instrument. A blacksmith does not use his hammer all the time. He lays it aside. A jeweler or a sculptor does not use just one tool all the time. He lays one tool aside and uses a different tool, and that is why we talk of the sacred beings as taking samadhi and not of dying. Here is an example from the culture in India.
Traditionally when we go to a cremation, it is considered somewhat polluting because the particles from the funeral pyre and so on touch the body. So everyone comes home and bathes or bathes in a stream or a river or in a well on the way coming back. This is not so in the case of a great swami. There is no such requirement of purification after this cremation. This indicates some of the attitudes that have developed around this fact of the sanctity of that one who was walked among us and is no longer seen quite in that form.
Swamiji, writing in Sacred Journey on page 108 says: “There are two types of samadhi:” – this is well known – “savikalpa with form and nirvikalpa without form. During savikalpa samadhi the yogi looks at his own physical and mental states and processes . . . .” – now listen to this again – “During savikalpa the yogi looks at his own physical and mental states and processes as though they do not belong to him. He remains completely detached.” – Well, you could call that conscious death. This is my interpretation. Swamiji continues this by saying – “This is called savikalpa because the thinker, the object, and the means of the thinking are all present during this state. In nirvikalpa samadhi one is free from all attachments. In this deeper state the means and objects of thought do not exist; only the knower exists.” – So for one who has done this while embodied, is the end of the quote so I continue. One who has done this while embodied, for such a one leaving the body is nothing. Swamiji has written in his book Path of Fire and Light that the enlightened ones rejoice at the prospect of changing their bodies. On page 108 of Sacred Journey it says — “Those who have obtained this mastery are not subject to the whims of death. They cast off their bodies and die under their own control at their own time. They consciously pass through the eleventh gate, through brahmarandhra. It is said that the one who travels through this gate knows about life hereafter exactly as he knows life here. There is no longer any veil between the two.” – I would like to repeat the last to sentences – “It is said that the one who travels through this gate knows about life hereafter exactly as he knows life here. There is no longer any veil between the two.”
He goes on page 109 to “the technique of consciously letting go of the body which was described to Nachiketa in the Katha Upanishad. Yama explained to him that of the nadis or energy pathways in the body, the most important is sushumna.” The one who has understood this pathway of consciousness is not subscribe to the myth called death.
Now what relevance does this have to us? On one hand, its relevance is in continued grace. Those of us who even surrender a particle of ourselves realize that the Guru dwells in the guru chakra. How can such a large body that was more than six feet tall dwell in our Guru chakra – and that is where we fail to understand the meaning of the word Guru. The force that had enfleshed itself, the force that had embodied itself, the force that had become flesh and dwelt among us, that force can be reached through the gateway called the guru chakra and we, too, can become embodiments of that force. In fact, some people do for a short time in meditation. Some teachers also do for a short time when they are teaching, and the force is teaching through them. But then that wave passes and we become ordinary human mortals, and we forget the bliss, the ecstasy, the serene ecstasy that we experience in that state.
The message that I want to give you, that the Guru-force wants to give you, is that right in this life now you should begin the effort to understand not the myth but the mystery. Dedicate yourself to the goal of dying consciously. Dedicate yourself to the sadhana that leads to the goal of dying consciously. Only then you will be true disciples.
There are many ways to learn. The first one is detachment. You have to live the worldly life. You have to do your duty. There have been some great householders, who [while] leading a worldly life, have led the life also of enlightenment and have guided others. One example is Brahmachalahari(?) – an ancient name like Janaka comes to mind. Patanjali in his massive masterful work on grammar writes that, among the 84,000 rishis, only eight were brahamacharins. Only eight were celibate, lifelong celibates. It is such an intense sadhana to be living in the world and dedicating oneself, __________ that the indulgence of senses that you require for performing those duties all be done with a certain detachment, with an awareness that at every moment: “I am not this. I am not this. I am not this. Things that are happening around me are not happening to me. Things that are happening to the body are not happening to me. Things that are happening in the pranamaya kosha are not happening to me. Things that are happening in the mind are not happening to me – for I am not these.”
It is for this reason that the sanyasas at the time of their initiation are given maha-vakyas the great sentences for contemplation. Whatever you are doing in life, let that become a sadhana for you. This you have heard many times before, but we have not quiet learned the technique of doing that. We have not learned to control the volume of our identity involvement.
Here I am speaking to you at a certain level. I change the involvement for a moment and become less associated with the same speech that I am utilizing at this time – and your whole mien, your mudra, changes. I change the volume and come back to the way I was speaking a moment ago. This method cannot be taught by a technique. That is why the disciples used to be asked to live with the guru for a long time – because it is only through association that minute particles of energy pass and gradual subtle apparently slow change takes place.
Here right now in Rishikesh I am in the middle of a plan whereby more of the seekers can come and spend their retirement years. First a month or two a year, and later when they find that their major duties are done, to come and live nearby. So that we don’t die this time like the last time we died, we should do something new with this phenomenon. the phenomenon called death. One should keep progressing, including in the technique of dying. The so-called death of a great being leads us, shows us, inspires us, impels us, to make a decision, to make a decision now. I am at this time in the process of making it possible for many people to come and live here. Even if that is not possible, what I would like to do is to spend more time in one place and let people come and be there, not for a seminar, not for a lecture, not for a set fee, not with the expectation of a daily class, just to be there and hope that the Guru spirit will flow through us and touch us and a slight shift will take place in the spectrum of our awareness. That is what it amounts to: a slight shift in the spectrum of our awareness, as it has taken place over the last 27 years of our association with Gurudev. It continues to happen, will continue to happen.
I congratulate those of you who have managed to remain on the path in spite of all the discouragements. My congratulations to you, Nina, especially on your new center. Gurudev’s command to you was to teach and initiate, and you are continuing to teach and initiate. I have no doubt that those who are continuing to do that will remain a vehicle of his blessings. I cannot at this stage quite define and describe the technique because I, too, am a learner, or maybe one or two steps ahead of you, like those professors who stay one or two steps ahead of their students. We are all together on this journey, and let me assure you that the end product of spirituality, the penultimate of spirituality, is the art of dying consciously. Without passing that, you will not go to liberation, to moksha and the ultimate.
What is the ultimate in spirituality? – That when you have learned to liberate yourself, you seek to continue to use body after body for the benefit of others, for the elevation of others, for the enlightenment of others. To pull those out of the well of darkness who are still lying there at the bottom and wailing and crying and thrashing in sorrows and frustrations. The Guru never abandons. The Guru never leaves us incomplete. Whether embodied or disembodied, he will continue to grant his grace.
The first condition for us to be recipients of that grace is to be there and to make our minds our meditation seat. To make our mind our meditation seat at the same time daily. That is the key, and the other is remembrance. Mindfulness, awareness at all times that I am a spiritual being and all these other things that I identify with are not my true self. None of these am I. None of these am I. None of these am I. I am not other than these. I am not other than these. I am the one who permeates these through whose force they are operating. When you use your eyes in this way, your ears in this way, your voice in this way, your brain parts in this way, you will be getting closer and closer and closer to the goal of dying consciously and liberating yourself – and thereby, beginning to liberate others who are in ignorance and in suffering. It is this sadhana, the determination to attain this awareness that is the bouquet of flowers, that is the garland we can offer to that Guru-force as our homage. It is this we can burn as incense on that altar. It is this that we can light as a deepak, as a candle, as a flame on that altar. It is this that forms our meditation. Surrender to the grace that flows and continues to flow. I pray that all of us together reach this goal in this very life. Please plan your life to reach that goal. Please plan your life to reach that goal. This is my humble request as a fellow disciple. Only then we shall please the Guru spirit. May Guru’s grace continue to be showered upon us.
I will sit with you for a few minutes of silence. Let the mind go into the serenity of stillness. Let that stillness be your homage to the Guru. Not a grief, not a sense of loss but a sense of presence in that stillness. Whatever questions you will ask in that stillness will be answered. Let’s go and enjoy a moment of stillness. I am sitting with you for a few minutes.
God bless you.
OM! OM! OM!