This Book is written by Arthur Osborne.
In september 1942 our long and beautiful Kashmir holiday came to an end. But where next? The Japanese had already occupied French Indo-China (as it then was) and were adopting a belligerent tone. Thailand might well be the next on their list. The Consulate had asked British civilians in Thailand to stay at their posts as a means of maintaining some influence there, and in fact had let it be known that they would be turned down if they enlisted. And in any case the life I was leading there seemed more in accordance with my nature, and therefore more conducive to the quest, than campaigning. It was decided that I should go back while my wife stayed on in India with the three children.
But where? She was between two worlds. She had also received initiation, but she was certainly not quite convinced about the path we adopted; and followed it more for my sake than her own.
Once in Bangkok we had seen an exquisite little stone figure of the Buddha sitting cross-legged with the naga, the seven- headed serpent, reared over him to give him shade; a figure of rare serenity. The price was very high or so it seemed to us, so my wife persuaded the shopkeeper to lend us it for a week so that she could obtain some clay through our neighbour, an Italian professor of sculpture, and set to work. What she produced was far from the original, but it was nevertheless an impressive piece of work. Being caught by the love of sculpture, she made next a bust of me. This was really excellent, so we had a bronze cast of it made. Shortly before she was due to leave Thailand we received some photographs of the Maharshi and (here is the point of this digression) my wife immediately felt the impulse to make a sculpture of him. Perhaps this was the deciding consideration, because she was still far from certain how far the quest was genuine and how far it was all play-acting.
One of our original Guenon group had a house at Tiruvannamalai and when he invited her to spend the time of our separation there, she immediately thought of the sculpture and it seemed the perfect solution. Even socially it seemed ideal, the people there being neither modern in the sense of superficial nor traditional in the sense of obscurantist.
We parted at Lahore railway station, my wife and children going on to Bombay and the south, I to Calcutta and Thailand. I spent my 35th birthday in Calcutta on my outward journey; I was to spend my 39th birthday there on the way back before I saw my wife or children again.
Catherine was the first to see Bhagavan. She stepped into the hall where he used to sit, a small, beautiful child with curly gold hair, bearing a tray of fruit in her hands, the customary offering. Bhagavan pointed to the low table beside his couch where such offerings were placed, and she, misunderstanding, sat down on it herself, holding the tray in her lap. There was a burst of laughter. “She has given herself as an offering to Bhagavan,” someone said.
A day or two later my wife entered the hall and sat down. Immediately Bhagavan turned his luminous eyes on her in a gaze so concentrated that there was a vibration she could actually hear. She returned the gaze, losing all sense of time, the mind stilled, feeling like a bird caught by a snake, yet glad to be caught. An older devotee who watched told her that this was the silent initiation and that it had lasted about fifteen minutes. Usually it was quite short, a minute or two. She wrote to me that all her doubts had vanished; her objections no longer mattered. The idea of making a sculpture had been put aside; it seemed presumptuous. She had complete faith. She knew now that the teaching was true and that nothing else mattered. The most beautiful face, she told me, looked commonplace beside him, even though his features were not good. His eyes had the innocence of a small child, together with unfathomable wisdom and immense love.
For her this was the time of grace and wonder, as the first reading of Guenon had been for me, only far more vivid, having the living Master before her. She felt his power and guidance constantly. During the years of our separation — most of those four years with no news of one another — she did not worry, although by temperament prone to worrying. When offered a job she did not accept it, although by nature provident. The time to go out into the world would come later; this was the time to be with Bhagavan. Once, when she wanted to take leave of him before taking the children to the hills for the hot weather, she met him alone as he was returning from his daily walk on Arunachala and said to him: “Bhagavan, I understand that all I have to do is to keep quiet and everything will be alright”. And he confirmed it, his eyes shining with approval.
He has been known to say: “Only keep quiet and I will do the rest”. But how hard it is to keep the mind quiet!
He was very gracious during these years both to her and the children. They would come and show him their toys and tell their secrets. At one of the big annual festivals his couch was roped round with a sort of fence to keep the crowds from pressing too close, and Adam scrambled through to tell him something. He laughed and said to the attendants: “See how much use your fence is!” In general he avoided touching people or being touched by them, but each cool season when my wife brought the children back from the hills, he touched Frania the youngest at some time or other, and once he picked her up and carried her. He was always very gracious to her.
My wife was receptive also to the spiritual power of Arunachala. Before even she knew that it was a sacred mountain, she dreamed one night of a terrific storm, when the thunder crashed overhead, the wind uprooted ancient trees and the rain beat down on the roof, that opened and revealed a majestic figure, its personification, who summoned her imperiously to the hill. Almost daily she walked there, feeling its power of love and protection. Much of her meditation she did on the hill. Lying on a sun-warmed rock one evening, she had a vision of the whole world with its cities and men drawn into her mouth as she inhaled.
The Japanese entered Thailand on December 8th, 1941. After a few minutes token resistance the Thais surrendered and became their allies. As I afterwards learned, they had previously asked for help from Singapore but had been told that they would have to help themselves. I think it was on December 7th that the Consulate sent word around advising us to leave the country; certainly it was too late to do so. The few who tried were turned back before they reached the frontiers. Moreover, the banks were closed so that it was impossible to draw out money.
In order to save the expenditure of manpower in creating a civilian administration and of the troops in holding down a conquered country, the Japanese decided to treat Thailand as a self-governing ally, and as a result their troops kept strict discipline and there were no atrocities, as there were in China and Malaya. I took a cycle rickshaw and went to the university, but there were Japanese officers and troops all over the place. In the university grounds I saw some officers with no trousers on, standing fishing in the klongs, the canals that run everywhere alongside the roads in Bangkok. It was impossible to resume duty, so I came back. After a day or two Europeans were placed under house arrest. Gradually they were rounded up and taken to an internment camp. My turn did not come till January 11th, one of the last. It was about time, because my salary had not been paid and I could not get out to cash a cheque.
While communications were still open I had received a letter from my wife telling me that Catherine and Adam had gone to Bhagavan and asked him to bring me back safely and he had smiled and nodded. From then on I never doubted that I should come out of it alive. There was also a letter from Catherine, one of the most moving I have ever received: “Daddy, you will love Bhagavan. When he smiles everybody must be so happy.”
We were interned in the premises of the University of Political and Moral Sciences (not that in which I had taught). There were several long buildings on the bank of the river, a field big enough to play basketball, a gravel road running the length of the camp. Some of the buildings were partitioned off into cubicles where the married couples and a few other fortunate ones enjoyed at least visual privacy, although every sound could be overheard; most of us had beds in common dormitories, with a little floor space each, which we fenced off as best we could with our belongings. There was a large shed at the back where we set up stoves and did a little private cooking, although our regular meals were sent in; also a shop where various articles from town made their appearance or could be ordered. After some time cash allowances began to be received through the Swiss consul. We were allowed to elect a camp committee and president to control the internal running of the camp. At first we were badly over-crowded, but after some time the Americans and Dutch and a few others were evacuated, and we ended up with not much more than a hundred.
The Thai, always keeping in mind that our side might win the war and hold them responsible, refused to make the camp over to the Japanese, so there were no atrocities. Indeed, one of the main evils to contend with was boredom. Any one who knew anything that others didn’t started classes; books were circulated; amateur gardeners took over plots around the various buildings and made ornamental gardens. Towards the end, when victory and evacuation were visibly approaching, my garden became an excellent symbol to me of life in the world — I gave it daily care and had real interest in bringing it to perfection, while at the same time prepared to leave it at a moment’s notice.
We knew well enough that victory was approaching because a small group of internees had taken the risk of smuggling in a wireless set and were skilful enough to keep it from the notice not only of the authorities but the rest of the internees also — unfortunately a necessary precaution. The news was leaked out so cleverly that we never knew from what source it came, only that it turned out to be reliable.
There were occasional Japanese inspections but the Thai commandant always warned us beforehand, so that anything that might cause trouble or be considered insufficiently austere might be concealed or passed out of the camp. The Thai soon had no more love for the Japanese than we had. Even though there were few outrages, their arrogance was insufferable.
The Thai had the bright idea of keeping their one and only submarine safe by anchoring it alongside our camp. Directly opposite us, on the banks of the river, were railway marshalling yards with stocks of rice, rubber and various other commodities, and it was hoped that our presence would safeguard them also; but it didn’t work out that way.
Thailand had been forced to declare war on Britain and America and a florid announcement was made that the Allied bases had been pushed too far back to be able to bomb Bangkok. For quite a while it was so, and then the tide turned and fleets of American Fortresses began coming over, by night at first and then by day also, when the Japanese fighters no longer dared to go up during a raid. Whether SEATO headquarters knew about our camp or not, they certainly knew about the submarine and marshalling yards. A number of times they came over and set the whole of the opposite bank aflame with incendiaries. The submarine was not hit, but after one or two near misses, it sought shelter elsewhere. After bombing the opposite bank the huge Fortresses would zoom up over our camp, so low that they seemed to be skimming the roofs, their under-bellies glowing red from the reflected flames. Several times, when smoke blanketed the river, bombs dropped on our side also. We heard their deep, heavy thud around us. In the daytime we would see them actually leaving the planes and swooping down — always on a trajectory. Twice, bombs fell within the camp precincts, but I was not the only one who preferred the risk of bombs to that of snakes and scorpions. There were many who never went underground. The flimsy modern buildings, with ample door and window space, stood up to the blasts better than more solid structures might have done.
I neither gave nor attended any of the numerous classes, but it was in camp that I learned astrology. One of the internees, Leslie, was a lifelong addict and brought a whole trunk full of books in with him — all of Alan Leo and Carter and a number of other books, including a good one on the progressed horoscope, besides bound volumes of periodicals. Making a purposeful break in my non-reading epoch, I went steadily through them, studying and making notes. This took me some months, after which I reverted to my non-reading. There were books circulating in camp, but I did not borrow or read them. Leslie’s interest had remained mainly theoretical; he had very seldom actually attempted a horoscope. I, of course, wanted to practise, and under my influence he also began to. We made horoscopes for everyone who wanted them in camp; and a number of internees, pleased with the product, asked for them also for wives or children or others outside.
Many people dismiss astrology in the same doctrinaire attitude of mind in which Guenon dismissed Buddhism. If they were to read through a study in several pages of some person the astrologer did not know, giving his characteristics and aptitudes and the main lines of his destiny, they would see that it could not be lucky guesswork, just as Guenon would have seen, if he had studied Buddhist texts, that they could not be giving the true teaching by accident; but they are unwilling even to consider the evidence, so convinced are they a priori that the movements of planets in the heavens cannot influence the lives of men on earth. Actually, it would be rather a crude definition of astrology which said that they could; the real interpretation is more vast and more profound: that the entire universe is one tremendous harmony, that the same forces are at work in the macrocosm and the microcosm, the cosmos and the individual, that the tendencies in a man and the events in his life flow to the same rhythm as the planetary movements in the skies; that, although the intricacy of the arrangement would make a mathematician’s mind reel, no individual can be born except at the moment when the position of the heavens is such as to mirror his nature and destiny.
It is a typical misunderstanding which led some people in camp to argue that a man’s character is not formed by the positions of the stars at his birth but by heredity. Actually, it is never said that the positions of the stars form a man’s character but that they indicate it; and heredity is one of the influences which they indicate. It often happens that several members of a family are born at about the same time of day or have birthdays at about the same date, and both of these are varieties of family likeness which would show in a horoscope, though, of course, by no means the only ones.
Leslie and I had an interesting case of family likeness showing in horoscopes. There were two brothers in camp, middle-aged, whose families were outside — evacuated while there was still time. One of them asked me to do his horoscope and the other Leslie. Satisfied with his own, the one who had asked me then asked me to do that of his ten-year-old son, whom I had never seen. I was struck by the fact (although I did not tell him so) that the boy’s horoscope showed no likeness to his own. Some days later I saw Leslie working on a horoscope which at once struck me as showing a distinct family likeness to that of the boy. Intrigued, I asked him whose it was, and he told me that it was that of the daughter of the other brother and that it showed no similarity to her father’s. I may say that the two brothers themselves were noticeably alike. I then went to them and told them that their two children seemed to have a strong family likeness but not to take after them. “Yes,” they said, “both of them take after our mother, but we don’t.”
When I said that Leslie had previously confined himself mainly to theory, I meant the theory of applied astrology, but there is also a more profound type of theory, the divine or spiritual cosmology writ in the symbols of the stars. Jupiter and Saturn, for example, are the twin forces of expansion and contraction — creation and dissolution of the universe, the day and night of God, the breathing out and in of Brahma. In human life they may show as prosperity and adversity, indulgence and discipline, in caricature as Sir Toby Belch and Malvolio; and on the quest they are the complementary process of expansion and contraction to which I referred in an earlier chapter. I worked out this more essential theory partly from study and partly from my previous knowledge of spiritual cosmology and wrote a book on it which I called The Cosmology of the Stars.
After leaving camp and coming to Bhagavan I gave up astrology. I was not sorry to have learned it, but cosmological theory is unnecessary on the direct path, which I was now following, and there was no point in occupying my mind with it. It can, of course, be not merely unnecessary but harmful if one gets too engrossed in it. I have known more than one Hindu (and Hindu astrology concerns itself more with predictions than Western astrology does nowadays) who has dropped it because it was too accurate. Foreknowledge of misfortunes awaiting persons who consulted them caused them so much distress as to destroy their peace of mind.
To return to the level of applied astrology: I have nothing against Uranus; indeed he can be a very useful ingredient in a horoscope; but they do say that when in conjunction with the Moon he is liable to push even an intelligent person into occasional acts of unpredictable folly. I have recorded two such already. The first, my throwing away the chance of an Oxford career, concealed an underlying wisdom; it was not foolish in itself but only in the way it was carried out. The second, my profession of Islam, was foolish both in itself and in the way it was done; nevertheless even here there was some underlying grace in it and, if unnecessary at the time, it was soon to become necessary according to the code by which I was living. At the time of my arrest Uranus scored a third victory, this time with an act of pure unmitigated folly with no grace or wisdom in it at all. I came into camp wearing a turban and long gown and with a string of prayer beads round my neck.
It was not exhibitionism. Indeed I simply estimated that the internment would not last for more than about three months and decided to devote the time entirely to prayer, meditation, incantations and reading the Arabic Quran and to hold completely aloof from the profane crowd in the camp; and I dressed to symbolise my decision. Also I am of a retiring disposition and prefer to remain inconspicuous. Actually the internment lasted for three and half years and I soon changed into normal clothing and, for the first time in my life, did mix with a crowd of ordinary, unpretentious people, and found that I liked them. This was a necessary phase in my development, making good what I had failed to do at Oxford, for my refusing to mix there had been due only in part to disappointed idealism; partly also it was a mixture of timidity and conceit.
One of the things that struck me most powerfully was their fair-mindedness. I do not refer only to their acceptance of myself as soon as I was prepared to be accepted (though that might well be called magnanimous); but throughout the years of internment it happened a number of times that one person or another would make himself unpopular, and in every case I found that as soon as the cause of disapproval was removed, the camp as a whole spontaneously recognized the fact and, so to speak, welcomed him back into its fellowship. Of course, there were quarrels; it was a very average community and I do not want to make it appear in any way ideal. Some of the women took advantage of being in a minority; also there was tension among the camp politicians who aspired to get elected to the committee and run things; but on the whole there was a good spirit.
Another thing that struck me was the prevailing dissatisfaction with life — and I do not mean conditions in camp but with life itself, as it had been outside before they were affected by the war. And these people were not misfits or failures. Most of them were at least averagely successful, with a good job, a wife and family, better pay than they would have received at home in England, comfortable house and servants, and a full social life; yet it was surprising how many would confide that life held no meaning for them and that, while outside, they had drunk heavily in order to forget and not to think.
It is dissatisfaction with the false that leads a man to seek the true. When asked why one should seek Self-realization, Bhagavan has been known to answer: “Who asked you to? If you are satisfied with your present life, stay as you are. But many people become dissatisfied, and when you realize the Self your discontent will vanish.”
There were also more specific signs of discontent — three broken marriages, four cases of madness, one suicide. A very sociable, good-hearted man, a complete extrovert one would have said, borrowed Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret India from me in order to read about the Maharshi. On giving it back, he said: “Yes, well, when one reads about something like Ramana Maharshi one either does nothing about it — or else…” He seemed so unlikely to do anything about it that I said no more to him, nor he to me; but soon after the camp broke up, at the end of the war, I heard that he had committed suicide.
The most dynamic sign of discontent was that as many as seven of the internees joined me, pledging their lives to the quest, apart from a penumbra of others who sympathised without deciding to take the plunge.
However, before that happened I passed through a lengthy period of dryness and tribulation, a dark night of the soul when I knew the taste of tears, even though with no outer weeping. It no longer seemed a quest that I was making but a vast impersonal process that was taking place, hammering the living being into shape, and with no anaesthetic. Suffering seemed the very essence of life and ‘pain-bearer’ the definition of man. I was tempted to despond, to regard God as a tyrant Who torments His creatures.
There seemed no light, no grace, and no hope of progress; and yet to go back, to renounce the quest, was even more impossible; in fact the very idea never arose. I just clung on grimly, suffering. The outer conditions of life accorded well with the inner misery but did not cause it, any more than outer conditions cause the unspeakable bliss when grace floods the heart. Indeed, before I left the camp I was to know periods of some grace also, though not at it’s fullest. There was a lot in me that had to be burnt out, and this period of savage pain was largely due to the cauterisation. Even at the time I knew this, but that did not make me like it.
I did not proselytise. The love of argument was one of the things that had been burnt out of me. I preferred to avoid it as far as possible. I still do. Some approached me themselves; some persuaded each other. This, of course, was proselytism, even though I did not do it myself. Proselytism cannot always be condemned, although it is better to be chary of it. Spiritual understanding places an obligation on a man, and if he has not the endurance and integrity to take this up he is more culpable than before. That is the point of Christ’s saying that it was not a sin to be in darkness when there was no light but only to cling to the darkness when light was made available. Therefore the reckless proselytiser may be doing a disservice to those to whom he speaks. That is why initiatic bodies have normally kept their teaching secret, and why Christ warned against casting pearls before swine. Incidentally, this is one of those sayings of Christ’s which can have no possible meaning to those who have reduced Christianity to an exoteric shell. What are the pearls and who the swine? And what is there they need fear to reveal? All that they know they proclaim endlessly to whoever will listen. On the other hand, what wonder if those who seek the pearls of wisdom and are given only the exoteric shell find the religion they are taught unsatisfying?
Louis Hartz was one who approached me himself. A very conspicuous young man from Holland who, for some reason or other, had not been evacuated with the rest of the Dutch; short, with black hair and eager eyes, he was obviously seeking. Several times he engaged an associate of mine in long discussions but went away unconvinced. Then I saw him walking up and down the camp with an elderly gentleman who had at one time been the head of a school or college and overheard a snatch of their talk as they passed:
“When I was younger I read the Bible, but of course I don’t believe it now.”
“Well — er — Mr.Hartz, what exactly in the Bible do you not believe?”
“All of it.”
In view of such a brash reply, it can be imagined that I was not disposed to explain to him at any great length, much less to enter into an argument, when he approached me a day or two later and announced that he wanted to know the Truth.
“I will tell you one truth,” I said. “Infinity minus x is a contradiction in terms, because by the exclusion of x the first term ceases to be infinite.”
Yes, he saw that.
“Very well, then,” I told him, “think of Infinity as God and x as yourself. Now go and think it over and come tomorrow and tell me what you make of it.”
That was all; no more explanation. When he came back next day he told me that there had been no need to think it over. Before even he got back to his place in the dormitory it had flashed on his heart that it was true.
He had been ripe for understanding and therefore a single explanation had been enough. Moreover, it had been the right kind of explanation that I was led to give him, because, like my wife, he had the intuitive type of mind which cannot read a whole chapter about what can be said in a sentence. He could never read Guenon, but he read and re-read the Tao Te Ching. However, brilliant initial understanding is no guarantee of a smooth or rapid quest. Since Realization is quite different from mental understanding, every preoccupation with the ego is an obstacle to progress on it. The process must continue until the whole nature is transmuted and all egoism dissolved.
The internees found various occupations during the daytime; in the evening many of them used to sit around on the lawn in small groups, and ours formed one group among the others. A certain power flowed through me at that time. Sometimes two of the group would discuss some point and decide to ask me about it in the evening, and when evening came I would spontaneously explain it without the question being raised. One person who joined us was of a psychic disposition, and the first time he sat in our evening group he saw a vortex of blue light encircling it and rising to a spiral in the centre. In general I had a feeling of how to respond to the needs of the various people, what to say and do.
This illustrates the dangers of a false guru. There is nothing personal in such powers. I had never consciously practised telepathy and I myself never saw any blue lights; even if I had it would have meant nothing; and yet on the basis of such happenings a man can build up a reputation for himself and start posing as a guru, and if he attributes the power to himself it will be both to his detriment and to that of the people he is supposed to be guiding.
Fortunately I was not drawn into any such aberration. Indeed, before the camp broke up I had ceased to exert any influence or to guide the others at all. There was a psychic crisis in camp when one went mad and most of those who had joined me took fright and drew back. That was what was visible outwardly, but inner events are more fundamental, and in myself I felt at this time a cessation of the power of guidance. I no longer felt that I knew what to do and say; I no longer felt any influence over the others; nor did they any longer feel it. This did not seem to me a privation or a cause for regret, simply a change of course, because the interest in guiding others evaporated together with the power to do so. I vaguely felt it to be a transfer from the spiritual influence of the order into which I had been initiated to that of Bhagavan. More and more I felt his presence and he seemed to dominate and to bestow grace. Although I had only seen him in photographs, his face was more vivid to me, more easily visualized, than any I had ever known. I was content simply to feel his pervading graciousness without occupying my mind at all with what I had been told about his not being a guru.
Bhagavan, as I was later to discover, did not encourage people to play the guru, even to the limited extent to which I had been doing so. He would not absolutely forbid it, for that would be doctrinaire. If asked he might say: “If it is a man’s destiny to be a guru he will be.” And he knew that some of his devotees acted so. But on the whole he discouraged it. Even apart from the direct and obvious danger of flattering a man’s ego and perhaps inducing him to let himself be regarded as a realized man when he is not, it means a turning of the energy outwards when the aspirant still needs to turn it inwards. If it does not actually put a stop to his further progress, it at least makes it more difficult.
And what happened afterwards? Of all those I had known in camp only Hartz was drawn to Bhagavan after the war. For the first year or two he concentrated on building up a business and making money. Then he broke a business trip from Europe to Thailand to spend a few days at Tiruvannamalai. It was the hot season when I was in the hills with my family. The children were going to a convent school in the hills and we used to spend several months there in the summer, so as to be able to take them out of the boarding house and have them at home with us. I went to Colombo to meet Hartz and we spent the night at the house of K. Ramachandra, a friend who always welcomed devotees of Bhagavan. Next day we flew to Madras and stayed with Dr. T.N. Krishnaswami, another devotee. The railway journey from there to Tiruvannamalai is roundabout and takes a whole day and night, and the excellent bus service which now plies had not yet been started, so Hartz hired a car for the trip. He was not averse to showing the advantages of being wealthy.
Bhagavan was very gracious to him. Indeed, a photograph of Bhagavan taken by him on this trip is evidence enough of the love and encouragement with which Bhagavan regarded him. He received the initiation by look, but, although told by the devotees that this was Bhagavan’s mode of initiation, he wanted to make quite sure and therefore said: “I want Bhagavan’s initiation.” Bhagavan replies: “You have it already.” This is the only occasion of which I know when he explicitly confirmed having given initiation.
In another way also Hartz desired assurance: he perhaps feared that when he got back into life of the world with all its distractions his steadfastness might weaken. He asked Bhagavan for some guarantee and was given the tremendous assurance: “Even if you let go of Bhagavan, Bhagavan will never let go of you.”
Once Bhagavan has taken up a person, his destiny becomes more purposeful, is speeded up, so to say. From a worldly point of view this may be for good or ill; prosperity may be needed for one man’s development, adversity for another. Evidently Hartz was of the latter type, because from this time his business got into difficulties and within a few years it had evaporated completely. He had planned to come back and even to build a house at Tiruvannamalai, but he was not able to. How many such cases have I seen, where the first visit was made easy but a planned return was frustrated year after year! He went through many vicissitudes and for a period of years I did not hear from him at all; but Bhagavan did not let go of him.
And the others? Perhaps some of them followed some other path, perhaps not. I have already indicated in an earlier chapter that what educationalists would call ‘the percentage of wastage’ is very high on the quest. Christ warned of this when he said that many are called but few are chosen — another of his sayings to which exoteric Christianity can give no meaning. Called to what and chosen for what? Certainly not to membership of a Christian church or it would be manifestly untrue. They take as many as they can get. Then for what? For heaven? That would carry with it the rather grim corollary that the great majority of mankind go to hell. But as soon as one understands the esoteric teaching of the quest, the saying becomes a statement of what happens and corresponds with what is taught in all religions. The Bhagavad Gita says the same, only expanding it to show that the not-called are even more numerous: “Among thousands, perhaps one strives for Realization; among thousands who strive for Realization, perhaps one knows Me as I am.” (Ch. 7, v. 3).
It rests with the aspirant himself. No one can do the work for him. The Buddha’s last words to his followers were an exhortation to strive and be a light for themselves and a haven for themselves. Sometimes a devotee would try to inveigle Bhagavan into a statement that his grace alone was sufficient without effort on the part of the devotee, but without success. He said once: “If the guru could just give Realization there would not be even a cow left unrealised.” In the language of mediaeval mythology, the guru may give the magic sword and the cloak of invisibility, but it is the hero himself who must use them and achieve victory — or fail to do so. True, these people had not yet any guru; but at least they knew where to seek. When I first read Guenon I did not even know that. Whoever perseveres is guided somehow or other, although he may be sorely tried on the way.