This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine
The world seldom recognises a prophet at his true worth during his own lifetime, but the Maharshi has been more fortunate. His repute has begun to ripple out and is destined to go right around the world.
He has made it possible for us to understand what seems to exist today only as a mere echo of the words of the great spiritual teachers of former ages; the blessed nirvana of Buddha, the kingdom of heaven of Jesus, the liberation of Sri Krishna, and the supreme good of the early philosophers.
The Maharshi enjoys that divine condition and demonstrates in his own person this unique attainment. While metaphysicians argue vainly about the reality of our world, scientists throw wet blankets around the ardours of religionists and the average man meekly looks on; this serene Sage knows the eternal reality, experiences the everlasting bliss and expresses the highest Truth in his teachings. Withal, he radiates these things to every sensitive person who comes within his orbit and to every humble and teachable soul entering his sanctified presence.
His doctrine is as old as the Hill of Arunachala itself, yet, being self-found as the result of his own overwhelming spiritual illumination and not as the result of studying other men’s books, it comes to us as fresh in presentation as the latest words of the pundits of western science.
If you can plumb the mind’s depths, he teaches, you will eventually arrive at a point where both the thinking intellect and personal self seem to disappear, becoming reabsorbed by the hidden element out of which they were created. That element is none other than the absolute Being, the partless Reality, the one Self underlying, the birth and death of mortal men and material worlds.
The Maharshi’s practical course of effort for discovering this reality is extremely simple, so simple, that our modern over-active minds may turn away unsatisfied and seek complicated elaborate yoga disciplines and yet it is extremely subtle. It is as effective for the devotional type of person as for the intellectual.
Set up a mental current of self-questioning, teaches the sage, attempt to ferret out what you really are, and to trace the living being who thinks and feels within your body. Watch your thoughts in the process and then endeavour to pin them down to the stillness out of which they arise. If you persist and apply yourself to frequent meditation on this topic, you will ultimately track thought to its origin, Self to its lair and consciousness to its primal partless state.
The personal sense of ‘I’ will collapse and disappear, being replaced by the impersonal sense of That, the absolute spirit which breathes life into us all, which not only maintains the existence of your mind and body but also the minds and bodies of all creatures.
This technique of Self-enquiry is really more simple than the ancient systems of yoga, and should therefore be easy to practise. Because of its subtle nature, however, and of our numerous tendencies towards excessive mental and material activity, it becomes difficult. The most effective way of overcoming that difficulty which I know and of which the ancient Upanishads often remind us, is to seek out the society of the Brahman-knowers, the spiritually illumined, and to sit at their feet, as the same texts poetically put it.
The Maharshi, in his modesty, will hardly ever refer to this fact, but those of us who have basked in his spiritual sunshine have found the way to the spirit made easier. For he continually broadcasts telepathically the divine atmosphere which has now become his very nature. In effect, he mysteriously communicates his spiritual calm to our troubled souls.
This investigator of the soul’s domain has solved stubborn questions which have puzzled the thinkers amongst men since reason first evolved. Western scientific psychology is heading straight for the explanation which he gives of that apparent mixture of beast and angel called man. The Maharshi’s method of psychoanalysis is far removed from the queer, muddled method of Freud, whose materialistic and sexual emphasis caused him to miss the divine.
The reward which waits for those who practise the technique advocated by the Maharshi is nothing less than nirvana itself, at the most, and mental tranquillity at the least. Those who think that the nirvana of the sage is a kind of never ending boredom should spend a few months in his society. The experience will correct their mistake and make good their ignorance.
When I first travelled around India interviewing her holy and learned men, I was amused to note how their numerous theories and explanations contradicted each other. The trouble was that the dust of so many generations has gathered upon the sacred texts and scholarly books that the real meaning of these volumes has been overlaid.
Scarcely one of those who granted me audience could speak from personal experience, and most could only quote the opinions of others. But the Maharshi’s teachings flow out of his own original teachings, realization of Truth, and to that extent he stands solitary as the peak of Arunachala itself. He illustrates perfectly those words of the great yogi, Patanjali, ‘The seer abides within himself, for he ever dwells within that sacred centre wherein God speaks to man’.
Even while I write, a grey squirrel hops into the Ashram hall, plays purposelessly for a while, and then squats contentedly under the Maharshi’s divan. You are as safe there, brother squirrel, as on your own sheltering tree, for the sage’s attitude towards you is no different from your Creator’s. There is nothing but love in his heart towards all creatures and even if, perchance you were to bite him, he would not hit you in return.
Since that day when I first found him, absorbed in the mysterious trance of samadhi, I have travelled in many lands but always my thoughts turned towards Tiruvannamalai as the Muhammedan turns his face during prayer towards Mecca. I knew that somewhere in the wilderness of this world there was a sacred place for me. Since that day, it has become a sacred place for many others who have never left Europe and America. For at the sage’s feet, I picked up a spiritual torch and carried it to waiting souls in the lands of the west. They welcomed the light with eagerness. There should be no virtue to be accredited to me for that, for whatsoever benefit has accrued to Western seekers comes from the torch which was lit by the Maharshi himself. I was only the unimportant “link boy”, the humble carrier. And now that I have returned to the ever luring Hill of the Holy Beacon, I pray the gods of destiny that they may keep the captive here for many years.