It has been about two to three months shy of 50 years since I read the book Autobiography of a Yogi, leaving a lot of time to forget. Among the few things that I remember, there is one incident that was recounted in the book involving a situation with Yogananda’s guru Sri Yukteswar that stuck with me. Early in his life as a swami, he was coming back from taking his morning bath at the Ganga River in the town of Banares. As he was walking back, Sri Yukteswar encountered his guru’s guru (which, in yogic terminology, is “paramguru.”) Babaji. Although he was a giant spiritual personality, Babaji was rarely encountered and had no public presence. As such, Sri Yukteswar was exceptionally excited to have this visage of Babaji, and in great excitement, prostrated himself, got up, and said to Babaji “wait here! I’ll be right back!”
It is custom that, when one has darshan with the guru, that one brings them something, such as a piece of fruit, or a sweet. This is a longstanding tradition. Sri Yukteswar ran off to find a vendor selling some sweets, got some sweets to bring back to Babaji, and when he [returned], Babaji was gone, nowhere to be seen. This seriously irritated Yukteswar, where he was really looking forward to this encounter.
He went from there back to his own guru’s residence, Lahiri Mahasaya, who lived there in Banares. When he arrived, Lahiri Mahasaya greeted Yukteswar and said “Babaji is here.” This set up some conflicted feelings in Sri Yukteswar, because he was running this irritation towards Babaji, and did not know whether he wanted to see him. But Lahiri pulled Yukteswar in, and when he came to Babaji, the paramguru looked at him with great serenity and said “your mind was so excitable that it extinguished me in the ethers.”
Apparently Babaji had done something which very few yogi’s have the capacity to do, which is to bi-locate and have a separate mental body that appears as physical. And the mental agitation of Sri Yukteswar had been so great that it was not then possible for Babaji to maintain the stability of the bi-located body, therefore extinguishing this form of Babaji into ethers. Babaji then simply said to Sri Yukteswar, “you should meditate more.” And Sri Yukteswar saw the point of this. He accepted the truth of what Babaji was telling him, and his irritation dissipated.
The point that impacted me deeply when I read this account was that we miss a lot when our minds are in an agitated state. The more that our minds are serene and balanced, the deeper can be our perception of the reality in which we are living, deepening our experience. The more we can perceive, the more clearly and more penetratingly we can perceive. In the Indigenous cultures of this continent, there are those such as the group mothers, the shaman, the trackers, who, I believe, train their minds to maintain great serenity. These people in these roles came to have a great capacity to see things in their environment, things that would be invisible to all of us. They might see the nature spirits, or they might sense the presence of game far away and know where to find them. They could perceive subtle vibrations, energies of power spots. There is great depth to the world that they could be in touch with because their minds were trained to maintain serenity, to be awake and fully present.
In the yogic tradition, the great yogi sage Patanjali, in his yoga sutras, describes a power of mind that advanced yogis can attain in which they can locate their minds within a living being, and directly experience what it is that being is experiencing. They can be in the mind of a crow in the tree, or an eagle as it soars the sky. They can know that reality, but it takes great quietude, serenity and depth of mind to be able to exhibit that capacity.
And there is, of course, a capacity more profound that the great yogis could experience. That is the capacity to perceive Divinity in all things, and to realize that they themselves were that Divinity. There is the ultimate state of being awake. With our minds in this culture, it is hard to generalize within the context of such diversity of circumstances in life. But it is my (maybe incorrect) opinion that, in this culture, we run a lot of dramas in our minds. There is a lot of agitation and a lot of importance that we give to being in touch with our feelings, and being able to express all the irritations we have. In our circumstances of life, a lot of agitations tend to bring us into a lessened capacity to see the inner nature of others that are around us, and an inability to perceive the dynamics of social manipulation that goes on by those who exploit and oppress others.
There is currently an inability to see what are the transformative energies that are at play on the planet. To be able to move in a way in which we can flow with those energies and to build upon the strength to play our roles enhances positive energy for those who lean toward a new dawn.
Sometimes, I see this, and other times, I feel “well, I don’t know, people are having to deal with a lot that they have to express…” We do not live in the most secure circumstances, and often feel alone. Maybe the need to express all the personal circumstances and personal feelings is very real, a genuine thing. Maybe it is just an attitude that I carry. If others have thoughts about this, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. I recognize that it is a piece of thinking in my mind that is a work in progress, and would benefit from other’s perceptions
This article was transcribed from a talk by Acharya Ravi given in July 2020. Transcription by Rene Tricou, editing by Michele Renee.
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