This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine
This is offered as homage to Sri Ramana and as testimony to the truth that all paths lead to the same Peak and that without Grace there is nothing, neither “light” nor “darkness”, neither “regress” nor “progress”; Grace is All.
Born into a non-religious Jewish family, I was raised in a small Protestant town in the southern United States. At twenty I found myself in a university in the Northeast and extremely unhappy. Till then God had meant nothing to me; but abruptly things changed. Some Higher Intelligence began hammering me over the head with the fact of Its existence and by moving me through coincidences in which the whole universe seemed to converge in direct answers to my innermost questions of the moment.
That summer I read an autobiography of a yogi. It electrified me, literally: after reading it I lay relaxed before sleep, wondering if yoga were to be part of my path. An oscillating sound came to me and raised my mind inwardly; suddenly there sounded an incredibly beautiful herald of trumpets followed by a flash of brilliant light which illuminated my whole being.
Needless to say, I took this as a “yes” to my question, and that fall I took initiation from a disciple of an enlightened Indian yogi. By the next summer I felt ready to go to India. I wasn’t able to leave till autumn.
This Master, called Baba, lived up to all my expectations, and more. He showered his grace upon me; my prayers for greater devotion were being answered. But then something happened which I cannot detail. Here through his words, actions, and arrangement of my “external” circumstances, he indicated unmistakably that I was to leave his mission, perhaps never to see him again physically. So I left.
Before departing from India a friend and I visited other ashrams. The message I got was: all paths are one; and the Guru is within, so seek within. I went halfway across the world to find someone to save me, but those capable merely referred me to a mirror.
Thus I returned to the States, feeling exalted by a wondrous journey — it was a perfect circle of experience — but also somewhat confused as to how to proceed. I was reading Krishnamurti and trying to Be, but I didn’t feel comfortable or secure in a practice which said, “Make no effort.” I was praying to Jesus. Shortly after my return, I had met a devotee of Jesus who asked if I had accepted Him in my heart. I quickly answered, “Yes”; but upon reflection I realized that was untrue. So I was praying very fervently to Jesus, that He enter my heart.
At the same time I was praying to my first Guru (“my” Guru’s first form). I had come to feel that I could be satisfied with nothing less than absolute and eternal Realization. It felt almost blasphemous to ask so much, but what else could I ask?
So all this was going on, and at the height of it Baba came to me in a dream. I was sitting before him in darshan with a few others. He asked if I had been practising a certain mantra.
Anxious to please him, I blurted “Yes”. He said sternly, “No, you haven’t,” and looked away. I began to weep, my head against his knee. Then something made me look up at him. Smiling, he said simply, “Yours is the path of the Heart.”
Upon awakening I thought he might have been referring to the occasional feelings in the centre of my chest that were accompanying my practice of trying to BE with all things. Or maybe he meant something in reference to my prayer to Jesus. I didn’t know, and nothing was made clear.
By late spring I was feeling pretty miserable. No changes, no breakthroughs. Some friends and I had attempted to establish a community; egoism aborted it. I was often on the verge of tears. One weekend I visited some friends on a farm, people I had met in India. But rather than feeling any satsang, I felt a loneliness, even paranoia, that I thought I’d left behind long ago. After two days of this misery, I picked up a little pamphlet, “Who am I?”, with a picture of the slender young Ramana. By reading it I was able at least to regain my equilibrium.
The next night, at a friend’s apartment in Montreal, Quebec, I came across The Teachings of Bhagavan by Arthur Osborne. By now quite interested, I read parts of it and then tried the sadhana the Maharshi recommended. After fifteen or twenty minutes of asking mentally, “Who am I?”, and concentrating on the right side of my chest, suddenly, from the depths of my Heart something opened up in me, a piercing sensation followed by a wave of bliss. The bliss passed, and the piercing sensation diminished over the next few days — but the feeling of the Heart remained.
Since then It has never left me — though sometimes I leave It for this thought or that, and It remains on the edge of consciousness. Shortly after Its advent I came to see that this is the path of the Heart, and that I shall have to find no other forms for my Guru. And then it dawned on me that my prayer to Jesus had been answered. For as it is true that no one other than Sri Ramana vibrates at the Core of my Being, so also it is no one other than Jesus, and no one other than Baba.
“Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find.” “Earnest efforts never fail.” What else is there to say? Full realization has not dawned, but whether moments or lifetimes intervene, it cannot fail to come. Patience and perseverance are necessary, as Bhagavan has said. It may take long years of practice to reach the Goal.
Yet the Grace he has bestowed upon me compels me to conclude on a different note. For Bhagavan again says we are the Self, ever and always; and Jesus says be alert, for you don’t know when the Bridegroom will arrive. And indeed, young Venkataraman experienced the truth of this latter statement most dramatically, at the moment of his death and the arrival of the Bridegroom, Arunachala. So we should be patient and persevering, but we shouldn’t give a moment’s thought to “the long years ahead” and other such poison. For “the thought that you are not realized is the obstacle to Realization.” If we don’t feel we know Reality, ever and always, then we must at least feel continuously that its lightning flash is imminent. Such an attitude naturally allows sadhana to become the all-consuming flame it should be, and thus “hastens” the Coming. For, again as Venkataraman realized, no one walks that final infinite distance to the Peak of Arunachala — but rather, in a way too inscrutable for the mind to comprehend, and at a speed far too fast for the ego to withstand, one is brought to the Heart-Summit by the Mountain Itself.