A Resonance between Two Models – Ramesh Balsekar & Leonard Cohen: Part Two

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A lesson with Owl

In my previous post, I abridged the full transcript of Ramesh Balsekar’s conversation with Leonard Cohen in early 1999, because it was very long.  Here are the missing bits, including Ramesh’s teaching on Satori.  For the dialogue to run smoothly, I have retained some of the exchanges in Part One.

Ramesh namaste

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Ramesh Balsekar:  But you used the word “resonance”.

Leonard Cohen:  Yes Sir.

RB – Can you explain that a little bit, Leonard?

LC – I found that during some of the rigorous retreats that we’re subjected to, I would find myself opening one of your books, specifically The Final Truth;  and I would find that your writing would illuminate the discourses of our Master, and vice versa.  That resonance became very discernible.  It became urgent that I

RB – A similar thing happened to me.

LC -Yes?

RB – You know Wei Wu Wei?  Have you heard of Wei Wu Wei?  – particularly one book which a friend of mine gave me twenty years ago, which I knew was a treasure, but I couldn’t understand it – I kept it aside. So that was what used to be – what my teacher said, and what was said in the book – amazing. Is that the sort of thing you mean?

LC – Yes Sir, it is.

RB – I see.  And in particular, The Final Truth?

LC – Well, that was the book I happened to have with me in my pack.  I would open it at any free moment, and the words would rise up, illuminating the whole day. 

RB – Yes, I see.  Have you read any other books of mine?

LC – Yes, I have just finished “Pointers”.  I have it with me now.  But I read it very, very slowly.  It seems that one section can occupy me for long, long periods.

RB – Yes.  And then, you’ve been here ten days!  But you’ve been so silent!

LC – I’ve been sipping at the nectar.  It’s very delicious to be here.

leonard and ramesh in sindhula

RB – Yes.  So now, what you have heard these ten days, and what you have read in the book, and your original understanding – how do they resonate?  Can you explain that a little bit?

LC – On the intellectual model, your model becomes clearer and clearer to me – your conceptual presentation – and so does my old Teacher’s.  On the experiential level, I feel the weakening of certain proprietorial feelings of doership … …  You know, over the years, especially anybody who hangs around a Zendo meditation hall, is going to get a lot of ‘free samples’, as you put it.  If you sit for long hours every day and are subjected to sleeplessness and protein deficiency, you’re going to start having experiences that are interesting … … A greed for those kinds of experiences develops.  Which is what happens in monasteries.

Bunny hide and seek

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RB – I see.  You see, what happens is – Wayne and I had a very brief talk a couple of days ago; we were both walking on the roof. He made a point that while certain practices bringing about these free samples, inflate the ego, could these practices also not inflate the ego to an extent where it bursts? Which is one way for the annihilation of the ego.

LC – That is a very excellent characterisation of this kind of practice.

Ramesh and Wayne

RB – That is what it is supposed to do. But I told Wayne, the explosion will happen if that is the will of God, and if it is the will of God, that that bodymind organism follow THAT PATH. This reminded me of the story of Lao Tsu and his disciple, which I’m sure you know, but I will repeat it.  A disciple went to Lao Tsu with his face flushed with the vigour of achievement.  And he told him, “Master!  I’ve got it!”  Lao Tsu compassionately placed his hands on the disciple’s shoulders and told him, “Son, you have NOT got it.”  You’ve heard this story?

LC – No, Sir.

RB – Oh really?  Oh well!  He said, “No my son, you haven’t got it.”  So, dejected, the disciple went away.  Some time later he came back again, fell at the Master’s feet and said “Master, it has happened.”

Angel with Rabbit

Lao Tsu looked into his eyes, knew it, and raised him up saying, “Now tell me what happened.”  The disciple explained, “I was so SURE that I had got what I wanted, all the experiences, all the joy, I knew I had got it;  but when you told me that I had NOT got it, I accepted that as the truth.  But it was also the truth as far as I was concerned, that I had done all I could, and yet you said I had achieved nothing.  So the result was: accepting BOTH as the truth.  I went about my way, not wanting anything, not expecting anything;  and suddenly I noticed that the joyous experiences had gone, but a peace had descended.  And it also struck me then, that this was the peace that I was after – not achieving anything!”

So this is the peace that came when the seeking stopped.  You see?  So, it was the destiny of the mindbody organism of that particular disciple, that the ego be bloated to an extent where it burst;  and the pin that burst it was Lao Tsu telling him “No, you haven’t got it!”

centaur, athene & owl 87

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But again, the danger IS – if it is the will of God and the destiny of that bodymind organism – that the ego will bloat, and stay bloated at a level where the bloated ego considers himself a Master, you see?  and wants and does get hundreds and thousands of disciples!  And the bloated ego stays there.  So it may not get pricked.

But, when the ego gets weaker and weaker and weaker, then it has to ultimately die, finding out “Who is doing anything?  Who is seeking anything?  Who is to get anything? You see?  That is why I said, the only Sadhana I recommend, is to find out at the end of the day, how many actions that I remember having happened today, were MY actions, and how many just happened?

mind thief police

And I dare say that an honest analysis will make the ego come to the conclusion that no actions were HIS actions, or HER actions!  And if this happens day after day –  it may start with the end of the day, but it will be found that this analysis happens many times DURING the day! – until towards the end, an action happens and the analysis that it was not my action, happens almost simultaneously;  so that with the firmest possible conviction, with unconditional acceptance that I do nothing, the question arises, not intellectually “Who am I?” but from the very depths of frustration – it can be said, frustration of the ego – “If I have not been doing, if no act is my action, who is this ME I’ve been so concerned about?”

Ramana Maharshi used the words “Who am I” because in English there is a marvellous distinction between ‘I’ and ‘me’, but in the Tamil language and most other languages I am told, this distinction is not there. So when Ramana Maharshi said, “Find out who am I”, he really meant, “Who is this me I’m so concerned about?”

Ramana & Rabbit

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If this process starts, it is the will of God. And if this process reaches a certain depth – every step is God’s will and the destiny of that body-mind organism – the actual arising of this question is there a me, out of DEEPEST FRUSTRATION, is what is perhaps called THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

In the time lag between the arising of the question and the arising of an answer, the deepest frustration is the dark night of the soul. And the dark night of the soul awakens you into the answer: “There never has been a ‘me’. There is thinking, but no thinker. There is doing, but no doer.”   The thinker, the doer, the experiencer, comes later, and becomes proud, or has a feeling of guilt.   Thinking happens. A thought arises and leads to some action. And later on, the individual ego doer comes in and says “I had a brilliant idea which I put into practice, and now I am Bill Gates, making five hundred dollars every second.” That is how thought occurs. But the one who says ‘I thought’ comes later. And it was God’s will and the destiny of the mindbody organism that that should happen. Albert Einstein in his total humility, has gone on record as saying the equation came to him from outside.

LC – I think that’s the experience of every artist and mind worker.

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guitar sketch leonard cohen

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RB – Yes. Nureyev the ballet dancer has said, “Nureyev dances best when Nureyev isn’t there.”   And the same thing is said by I suppose, any artist in whatever field.   So, proceeding this way, even that depends on the will of God and the destiny of the organism.

There’s a tiny book, an abridged edition of the Bhagavad Gita.  Have you read it?

LC – This edition, no.

RB – Bhagavad Gita is seven hundred verses.  Someone told me that Ramana Maharshi had condensed it into forty-three or forty-eight verses.  This friend of mine who used to come regularly, had a copy, so I said, “Would you give me that copy?”  He said “Yes, yes, I’ll bring it next time.”  And four times he came, and four times he forgot.  So I said, “Ramana Maharshi’s answer to me is clear.  Do it on your own!” – (Laughter.)  “Don’t read MY collection!”

And so I started doing it:  so mine came to sixty-six verses.  And one of those verses is this:  “Out of thousands of people there is one seeker. Out of the many seekers, there is ONLY ONE who knows me in principle.”   You see?  So the many seekers who don’t reach this ultimate end, obviously have to be following paths which are not supposed to lead them to the end, during the process of that bodymind organism anyway.

So the misconception “What is the best path?  Which is the best Spiritual path?” – there is no “best spiritual path”.  There is only a particular spiritual path for you, or for this particular bodymind organism, at that moment of its development.  So the Source will send this bodymind organism to that Guru who is appropriate for him or her at the time;  all the bodymind organism can do, is to follow that Guru to whom he has been sent.

But my only point is this:  many Gurus, unfortunately, tie down their disciples, saying “Now you have come to me. You wanted to be initiated. Now our relationship is life-long.” You see? But to me, that is ridiculous. You initiated him, but who sent him to you?   That Source certainly has the right to send that disciple somewhere else!   Who is this Guru, to bind him for life?   Therefore the word “Guru hopping” is used in a sort of derogatory way.

russian dolls

LC – Guru …?

RB – Guru Hopping.  (Laughter).  It’s used in a derogatory way.  To me, it is perfectly logical and acceptable.

LC – In the Zen tradition as you know, monks went from one Master to another, in search of different aspects of the teaching. I don’t feel I am betraying my Teacher by being here.

RB – Yes. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here. In fact, Wayne told me, you told your Teacher.

LC – Yes.

RB – And he didn’t ask for …?

LC – Yes. He asked me to cook him one last meal. Because I’m his cook.

cloud colloquy

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RB – I see.  So, Leonard, is he likely to ask you when you go back, what did you learn?

LC – My understanding, he will discern exactly. I think the issue more urgent, is whether I stay there or not.

RB – Yes. But if he does ask you – which is not impossible, is it? – what would you say, Leonard?

LC – Well, we have – I would try to convey to him in the terms that – but he doesn’t speak English … …  I would probably gasho to him. (Bows deeply)  

RB – This is gasho?

LC – Yes, and depending on the truth of the moment, whether I could step aside from the understanding and let the understanding communicate itself …

RB – The answer is, “I don’t know”.   Is that what you meant?

LC – It’s correct.

RB – Then that is absolutely correct: “I don’t know what answer will come out.”

LC – He has, you know, the Japanese rigour.   So he would question, he would listen carefully to my saying “I don’t know”. Because “I don’t know” is the answer to many koans.

RB – No no. What I’m saying is: “I don’t know” is your answer to me.

LC – Ah Yes.  Yes, Sir.

RB – That I DON’T know what will come out of my lips if such a question were asked.  That’s what I meant.   When I said “I don’t know”, what I mean is – that would be your answer to my question about what you should say.

leonard and ramesh 1999_0001

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You see? So some experience happens.  Then people want more experiences.  This greed as you quite rightly said, for the experience.  Wanting – ananda means ‘bliss’.  But the word ‘calm’ or ‘cool’ – deep down, that is how the word has come – cool, or calm.  At one stage Ramana Maharshi uses the word ‘bliss’ because it has come down – not Ramana Maharshi, but in the translation.  One point I came across, which I have triple underlined – he said: “Calm is superior to bliss.”  The word I prefer is “peace”.

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Each unto each other

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A Resonance between Two Models – Leonard Cohen & Ramesh Balsekar

Ramesh 1

Read more of this conversation Part Two

During my visit to Ramesh in Mumbai, in early 1999, I witnessed the following conversation with Leonard Cohen, and bought the tape.
After I got home, I made this transcript:

Ramesh – You live in a Zen monastery, I am told?

Leonard – That’s correct, yes.

For how long, three or four years?

I’ve been associated with this institution for about thirty years – and about four and a half years ago, I was ordained as a monk.

I see. I see. Would you say it is a pretty stiff discipline?

It’s – very rigorous.

But you like it?

Not particularly, no.

Well that is honest. So what I would like to ask is this: the understanding before you came here, and what I talk about – how does it compare?

It was the resonance between the two models, yours and my teachers’, that led me to study your books with some diligence. And because of the experiences I received from your books, and because of the advanced stage of my Teacher and yourself, I felt it would be appropriate to come and sit with you.

leonard cohen 1

I see. But you used the word ‘resonance’. Can you explain that a little bit, Leonard?

I found that during some of the rigorous retreats that we’re subjected to, I would find myself opening one of your books, specifically The Final Truth; and I would find that your writing would illuminate the discourses of our Master, and vice versa. It became urgent that I …

A similar thing happened to me. When I was with my – Nisargadatta Maharaj. You know Wei Wu Wei?

Yes, Sir.

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Particularly one book which a friend of mine gave me twenty years ago, which I knew was a treasure, but I couldn’t understand it – I kept it aside. So that was what used to be – what Maharaj said, and what was said in the book – amazing. …   You’ve been here for ten days!

Yes, Sir.

But you’ve been so silent!

Ramesh talks at home

I’ve been sipping at the nectar. It’s very delicious to be here.   On the intellectual level, your model becomes clearer and clear to me – your conceptual presentation – and so does my old Teacher’s. On the experiential level, I feel the weakening of certain proprietorial feelings about doership.

That is a very good word!   Proprietorial – me, mine!   I see. Now, this weakening – how do you mean this weakening, when did it start?   Did it start thirty years ago? Is that what you are saying?

I couldn’t characterize this seeking as spiritual. It was a kind of urgent …

You mean what started thirty years ago was not really spiritual?

No Sir.

I see. I see.

I don’t know if it is today. The description seems to pale in the urgency of the actual search, which is for peace.

Yes. Yes.

And you know, over the years, especially anyone who hangs around a Zendo meditation hall, is going to get a lot of free samples, as you put it. If you sit for long hours every day, and are subjected to sleeplessness and protein deficiency, you’re going to start having experiences that are interesting. It was a hunger for those experiences that kept me around, because I NEEDED those experiences.

YES! The HUNGER for those experiences. Yes! So?

leonard cohen 2

I forget where we were. I’m sorry.

You said, experiences happened, and there was a hunger for those experiences.

There was a hunger to maximize, to continue, a greed to … a greed for those kinds of experiences develops. Which is what happens in monasteries.

I entirely agree, yes. There is a greed for those experiences.

Very much so. And I must say that my old Teacher puts little value on those experiences.

I see. In fact, did he WARN you against them?

Warns you, and BEATS YOU, against them!

With his stick? On your shoulder?

Yes Sir. We are not encouraged to take these hallucinations seriously.

But how effective are those beatings, Leonard?

Not effective at all. I’ve seen them more effective in the case of other monks than they were in this case. So I respect the system; it’s a rigorous system based on a very useable model, but it wortks for some and does not work for others.

Quite right. I see. And what you’ve been hearing for ten days, has it made some difference, do you think?

Sweet!

leonard cohen 3

Some difference in this greed?   Can you explain that a little bit, please Leonard?

Your emphasis on the disidentification with the sense of doership, is crucial to the weakening of – the modification of that greed.   And by the grace of this activity, I have experienced …

You have tried it, during the last ten days?   I see.

Yes. Of course, greed arises. The hunger arises, legitimately, and without my bidding. The greed for peace, for equanimity, for balance, arises spontaneously. But I feel that somehow I don’t have any leverage on the apparatus. Somehow there is a sweetening of the whole experience.

I see. You see, what happens is – Wayne and I had a very brief talk a couple of days ago; we were both walking on the roof. He made a point that while certain practices bringing about these free samples, inflate the ego, could these practices also not inflate the ego to an extent where it bursts? Which is one way for the annihilation of the ego.

..

That is a very excellent characterisation of this kind of practice.

I see. That is what it is supposed to do. But I told Wayne, the explosion will happen if that is the will of God, and if it is the will of God, that that bodymind organism follow THAT PATH. … … Ramana Maharshi used the words “Who am I” because in English there is a marvellous distinction between ‘I’ and ‘me’, but in the Tamil language and most other languages I am told, this distinction is not there. So when Ramana Maharshi said, “Find out who am I”, he really meant, “Who is this me I’m so concerned about?”

Ramana Arunachala III

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If this process starts, it is the will of God. And if this process reaches a certain depth – every step is God’s will and the destiny of that body-mind organism – the actual arising of this question is there a me, out of DEEPEST FRUSTRATION, is what is perhaps called THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL   In the time lag between the arising of the question and the arising of an answer, the deepest frustration is the dark night of the soul. And the dark night of the soul awakens you into the answer: “There never has been a ‘me’. There is thinking, but no thinker. There is doing, but no doer.”   The thinker, the doer, the experiencer, comes later, and becomes proud, or has a feeling of guilt.   Thinking happens. A thought arises and leads to some action. And later on, the individual ego doer comes in and says “I had a brilliant idea which I put into practice, and now I am Bill Gates, making five hundred dollars every second.” That is how thought occurs. But the one who says ‘I thought’ comes later. And it was God’s will and the destiny of the mindbody organism that that should happen. Albert Einstein in his total humility, has gone on record as saying the equation came to him from outside.

I think that’s the experience of every artist and mind worker.

Yes. Nureyev the ballet dancer has said, “Nureyev dances best when Nureyev isn’t there.”   And the same thing is said by I suppose, any artist in whatever field … …   Bhagavad Gita says this: “Out of thousands of people there is one seeker. Out of the many seekers, there is ONLY ONE who knows me in principle.” … … Many Gurus, unfortunately, tie down their disciples, saying “Now you have come to me. You wanted to be initiated. Now our relationship is life-long.” You see? But to me, that is ridiculous. You initiated him, but who sent him to you?   That Source certainly has the right to send that disciple somewhere else!   Who is this Guru, to bind him for life?

In the Zen tradition as you know, monks went from one Master to another, in search of different aspects of the teaching. I don’t feel I am betraying my Teacher by being here.

leonard cohen 4

Yes. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here. In fact, Wayne told me, you told your Teacher.

Yes. He asked me to cook him one last meal. Because I’m his cook.

And what is his favourite dish?

Uh – salmon teriyaki.

Oh. Well, that’s – that’s my favourite dish too. I mean, the particular dish you mention, I don’t know what it is, but … salmon.

It’s just marinated in soy sauce and saki, ginger, pepper, for a certain period of time, and then battered.

So is cooking one of your talents?

It’s not a talent, it’s a duty. I cook for the old man.

So it is your duty to cook salmon for your Guru.

That is correct.

And it is the Guru’s duty to eat it, whatever way you cook it!

He is very cavalier with his duties.

I see. Yes. YES. So, Leonard, is he likely to ask you when you go back, what did you learn?

My understanding, he will discern exactly. I think the issue more urgent, is whether I stay there or not.

Yes. But if he does ask you – which is not impossible, is it? – what would you say, Leonard?

Well, we have – I would try to convey to him in the terms that – but he doesn’t speak English.

Ramesh Balsekar 14 feb 13_0001

So you speak Japanese?

No. He speaks very very little English. I speak very little Japanese. But we’ve been studying together and drinking together for a long time.

What is his favourite drink?

I tried to introduce him to vintage French wine, which I consider a refined beverage, but he insists on drinking saki.

If you ask me, I’d prefer Scotch or sherry.

I agree with you. He did – he was very discerning about cognac.

Yes.

He liked cognac, and he established masculine and feminine qualities to the different brands. For instance he thought Remy Martin had a feminine expression, while Courvoisier had a masculine expression. None of these designations were taken too seriously after the third or fourth drink.

You see, that is the whole point, Leonard. The whole business is taken far too seriously. That is the ridiculous thing about it. There’s nothing serious about it, because there’s no seeker!   And who is serious about it? – the seeker!   You see? The seeking goes on, on its own course. So, if this question were asked you Leonard, is there a specific point which you learned from Ramesh – which is NOT what you had earlier – what would you say?   I don’t want to suggest an answer …

I would probably gasho to him. (Bows deeply)   And depending on the truth of the moment, whether I could step aside from the understanding and let the understanding communicate itself …

The answer is, “I don’t know”.   Is that what you meant?

It’s correct.

Then that is absolutely correct: “I don’t know what answer will come out.”

ramesh listening

He has, you know, the Japanese rigour.   So he would question, he would listen carefully to my saying “I don’t know”. Because “I don’t know” is the answer to many koans.

No no. What I’m saying is: “I don’t know” is your answer to me. … …   Must be a pretty hard life there?

I’m given many privileges that the younger monks don’t have, because I have a family and obligations, so although I’m not free from the general form, which is very early waking up and long hours in the meditation hall and lots of work, I’m allowed to go down, into the city from time to time, to take care of my affairs and see my children.

Yes. I see. Yes. You have a family?

I have two children.

Two children. I see. And a wife?

I never married.

I see. So the two children are grown up?

They’re in their middle twenties.

Oh I see. But they’re on their own then, yes? – You have to help them?

They’re on their own, but I feel I can be of use to them. It’s difficult raising children in America. It’s a difficult manoevring and navigating through a lot of dangerous waters. So I’ve tried to stay close to them through some very difficult periods. A child growing up in America with money.

They have their own money?

No, I mean, in a comfortable surrounding.

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monkeys 2

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Yes. What is your relationship with your children? What advice do you give them – depending on the circumstances? The point is, how does one raise one’s children with the total acceptance that each child has its own destiny? Each child is programmed in a unique way. And yet you have to do your duty, as a father. What has been your experience, Leonard? Was it interesting?

My experience is to rely on instinct at the moment, and discard principles I myself received from my own parents, which were quite effective in their own way. I find for instance, that that the way I did it, or the way it was revealed to me –

Do they live on their own?

My daughter lives in my apartment, and I live on the mountain, and my son lives around the corner.

And you provide the money for them, or do they work?

They work. They work hard.

And they earn their own living then?

Yes, Sir.   But they grew up in a privileged environment. They didn’t have to work. They didn’t have to struggle.

They didn’t have to earn and learn?

No, they didn’t have to earn and learn, and not only that, but  they were exposed to things very early in their lives, as many American kids are. I had been through that myself. So I was able to react in a way that was unconventional. But having understood something  …

From personal experience?

From personal experience, I established a connection with the child on the basis of that common experience, rather than on a principle of right or wrong.

wei wu wei vi

Quite right. Yes. It worked?

And fortunately, it seemed to work.

Oh? I see. In other words, you talked to your children not like a father to a son or daughter, but as one person who has experience of what they are experiencing.

Yes Sir, that’s correct; not only that, but having taken that course, it’s enabled a real usable friendship to develop.

Yes! Yes! In fact the relationship itself must have taken a beautiful turn.

It has! My daughter says, like “You’re really cool, Dad.”

That is the highest compliment, isn’t it. Cool. And the curious part of it is, this word is really the definition of the traditional word ananda. The traditional word ananda is translated as “bliss”. But my objection to the word “bliss” is, it raises expectations in the seeker.

It’s a tyranny.

Calm. Cool. Well, this is a great compliment from your daughter!

It was, it was.

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Wei wu wei ii

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You are cool, Dad. And what about your son? What do they do?

My daughter runs a store for antique deco furniture. She goes to England and buys furniture and brings it back and sells it. She got a job with an antique dealer two years ago, who apprenticed her. And my son has just put out his first record with a big record company.

Oh well! So he inherited your talent for music?

Well, I don’t have much talent for music, but he has. People who know my work will, er … I have a kind of croaking delivery. But he actually is very musical.

What you are saying is, your son is better than you are – were.

He has strengths that are much more apparent!

And you have told him that?   So he must ALSO have said “Dad, you’re cool.”

He has.

The son being praised by the father. So you have a very good relationship with your children!

Thank God, I do.

wei wu wei v

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Again, God’s grace. You know what I say about God’s grace and God’s will? We use the word God’s grace when something nice happens. When something not so nice happens, and we know we can do nothing about it, we put our head down and say God’s will. So now, if somebody asks you Leonard, “how do you live your life?” – you are about sixtyish?

Getting to be sixty-five.

I see. How do you live your life? Does living your life present a problem? What would be your answer, from personal experience? Is living your life now, with this understanding, a difficult thing?

Well, if it is – and it’s been the experience of this being, that things come with difficulty rather than with ease – so I think the perspective on that programming is changing.

I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that. Things come difficult?

Yes, for instance I’m a song writer by profession …

You still write?

Yes Sir. And I’ve always found that I write one word at a time. With sweat and difficulty.

Like pulling out teeth.

It’s like pulling teeth, and it takes a great effort. I’ve written some decent songs, and people ask me about song writing, you know, they say “How do you write a good song?” And I always say, “If I knew where the good songs came from, I would go there more often.” I don’t know where they come from. I know that I have to sit at my desk or in my café or wherever it is, and sweat over it. Other song writers greater than I – and I’ve had this conversation with them – will give me completely different information. They’ll say, like “I wrote it in the back of the taxi cab” – you know, a great song. So it seems to be my experience, that things are difficult in just the way this programming works.

That is correct.

ramesh for cover

So the understanding now is, that this programming, unless it is the will of God to change the programming, is going to be as it is, but I don’t have to get involved in the programming. I can work at my desk as I’ve always done, but without that additional tyranny of disapproval of the method; because this is the method that …

… is supposed to be for you

… is supposed to be for me.

I tell you how I understand it. What you are saying is this: writing a song comes easy for some people. They can write one in a taxicab. For you it becomes much more difficult. But what you are saying, I think, is, that there is no wish that you could do what that other fellow is doing. Isn’t that right?

No. There is no wish.

Wei wu wei iii

That’s the whole point. You have accepted the way YOU write your songs, and you have accepted the way someone else is able to write the songs.

And deeper than that, Sir, there is – I’ve always had a sense of this – this perception of this bodymind orgasm – organism … !

The American pronunciation!

… has been that there is a background of anguish, of mental anguish, that does not seem to respond to any methods that I impose on it. So as that understanding deepens, I try less to impose any methods; and although the chatter and the activity of the mind continues, it doesn’t seem to have its poisonous sting.

Say that again, please? The chattering of the mind goes on?

The chattering of the mind, and the alleged anguish of the mind continues to operate sometimes in degrees of intensity that make one gasp or cry for help …

YES!

But with this understanding that is dawning, it seems that I am less willing to criticize or impose.

I see. Again, the same thing. You write the songs the way YOU are programmed to write, but there is no wishing that YOU could do what some others can. Doesn’t the same thing apply here? Isn’t that what you are saying?

Yes Sir. (Bows deeply). Yes, Sir.

Exactly the same thing. The chattering of the mind happens, but there is no wish that the chattering of the mind should become less. Isn’t that what you are saying? So whatever happens is accepted. Alright, there IS the chattering of the mind! It is the nature of the mind to chatter. It is the nature of the monkey to moan. So you let the monkey moan – the way he wants to! Therefore, the chattering of the mind may be there, but there’s no anguish. Is that what you are saying – as I think you are?

play monkeys

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It is. But even if there is anguish …

You mean, accept even that anguish is acceptance? Quite correct. Even if the anguish does happen, even if the involvement does happen, acceptance of it means “the cutting off of the involvement, when it is accepted.”

Correct.

So, even the involvement has to be accepted. Involvement happens – oh, alright, so it is happening …   Thank you very much, Leonard. That is exactly what I was hoping I’d get from you. (Obeisance).

First published in Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK Journal
“Self Enquiry”, summer 1999

ravens

Read more of this conversation in PART TWO

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My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sketches of Ranjit Maharaj

Hi Steve,
Following your special request, here are my other sketches of Ranjit Maharaj.  The portrait was commissioned by a devotee quite a while ago, but – oh dear! – all my attempts were unsuccessful as far as he was concerned.

I went to sit with Maharaj in Mumbai one January day in 1999, while Ramesh Balsekar was having his afternoon snooze.

GALLERY – sketches of Ranjit Maharaj

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Ranjit Maharaj began to teach at 70 years old, after his co-disciple Nisargadatta Maharaj – (Ramesh Balsekar’s guru) – passed away.  Ranjit and Nisargadatta had inherited the spiritual lineage of their guru Siddharameshwar Maharaj, in the early 20th century.

Nisargadatta – a quick-tempered cigarette bidi vendor in Mumbai’s red light district – held vehement ‘socratic’ dialogues in his room.   Ranjit was a bar tender and accountant, with an old fashioned elegance of manner.  On their retirement, both taught a pure Advaita or non-dual philosophy: “I am That” … “You are already That” … but Ranjit’s way was more traditional.  Their teaching attracted many westerners.

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15 January 1999 – Rob Durkee and Ranjit’s other disciples found their Shepherd.  I like seeing their Shepherd, his mother-Goddess gentle nobility.  When he started talking I couldn’t understand a word, and was hot and uncomfortable in his crowded room.  But I am moved at the depth and intensity of the shepherding these lambs receive.   Gently reared in the USA and tossed into Girgaum Village curry-pot in the noisy heart of Mumbai, they are homed and centred and advised how to live in dedication and service.  The devotees live and travel together – the very opposite of “adrift”.

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I remember Girgaum a little – an Indian village in the middle of the city, an oasis, a coterie sufficient to itself;  a labyrinth of colourful old buildings, fretted balconies, and flying kites.

Ranjit lived in Room 45, Narayan Building on Dubash Road – a crumbling tenement in the congested locality.  We climbed to his landing. Mildewed windows framed a sudden rooftop vista, occupied by rasping old crows and wheezing sparrows.  Each floor was a busy village street – the childrens’ shouts, the washing hanging out across the landings, the births, the dramas and the deaths.  In the midst of this teeming life, the devotees waited quietly at a door, to kiss the feet of their guru inside.  I see the shining cookpots in his room;  and garlanded pictures of his guru on the sweating walls.

16 January 1999 – Thoughts:  split second, deep sleep, eyelids flicker as I dream mountains and rivers thousands of millenia old:  babies are born – it goes on for ever.  The view of God is already here.  It keeps still with God, and is dynamic for the dreamer.  That is why you are not God, because you would be bored!

Ramesh in meditation..

While attempting to resolve this drawing of Ramesh, a thought arose – because a peaceful expression appeared – something beautiful, even if the likeness is not quite right – “Do not take the sage/Guru for granted.” 

I realised suddenly how this life style takes in visits to supreme Teachers and Gurus as a matter of course – that were so longed for – and now complains about having to travel and the disagreeableness of Indian city life!   But – it says – “Take care of this accessibility to the Sage.

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Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nisargadatta Maharaj

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link – posts on Master R

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

The Wandering Fool and Ramesh

With drawings from my sketchbooks in 1988, some “Poems of Eclipse” 1999, (inspired by Ramesh Balsekar’s philosophy) and a new sketch of Ramesh.

Read also my landmark post On Gaia as our Self in my other blog, Aquariel !

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Arcanum 0 The Fool

Arcanum 0 The Fool

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A Picture …

Standing over
a rock under standing – river bed
unaltered wherever I go,
the art of life discovers
a masterpiece – the obvious!

Along the rain washed road, a wanderer
wears battered hat, carrying
bundly bag and flower.  Why
did God’s will place him there?

He turned.  He thought he knew
but could not see the thunder cloud
above him, deftly brushed.

Trapped in the wrong dimension,
unwittingly he got wet!

Backed on canvas, his quest
is strung on fibre, warp and weft.
His human history, he cannot see.
On flat earth theory, he’s crucified;
the Master’s Eye looks back!

Who created him:  Botticelli, Van Eyck,
Michelangelo?  He was
and is composed no where apart
from Life around him, which is Art.

2 The Wandering Fool with Flower & Egg

Let the vagrant lift his Cross
of time through space,
the canvas warp and weft,
to follow Eye.

Let him through a hemisphere
turn his gaze
from flat earth
to Creation’s inward sky.

Let him see as the Master sees
himself.

0 Fool Arcana version 2

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The spirit in the Garden of Eden
took root in animal skins.
World’s habitat being strong,
my vigilance is overcast.

The disappointing fragment magnified
is an ever present threat
to thunder and enclose my soul –
yet the coast is clear.

The breath that stops the world
can nothing else contain,
for it is everything.

The holy Grail
draws to itself the Grail against
all other gravities.

3 Two young Fools conversing

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In Ramesh’s aphorism, my life
is a painted land,
a mile or five miles wide.
A house or two I see from where I stand.
What next unfolds?  I walk in time and space.

That thread links a hill which hasn’t happened yet
with a vivid face which has.
The future hill with remembered face
in the Master’s Eye, are space.

Stepping away,
wider vistas with the fragment coalesce
and realisation comes:  the masterpiece
was painted long ago.

6 Astronomer Fool with spinning top and cockerel

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Creator

My vivid face and brooding hill
have thirty roving years between.

My wanderer, awarded a cosmos of his own,
searches source
around the fade-out of his visual field.
He rests at night in a picture frame of mist.

How may he know God’s will unless
he’s in love with nothing else?
content to be rained upon, re-brushed
with madder rose, ochre, a touch of sapphire,
and even cleaned away?

Meet Mrs Madder Rose - 1987

Meet Mrs Madder Rose – 1987

In love with nowt but what Creator does –
he’s granted a strong belief he may find out!
Else who among his Angelic lovers of Art
could his capering convince?

Ramesh in his wisdom has remarked: “When understanding happens, a created object sees that nothing he or she believed they did, or felt, is separate from the Creator Subjectivity. It has no being apart;  nor ever had.  The entire texture of autonomy, guilt and pride, is illusory, fabricating divine ignorance.”

Ramesh Balsekar ja 14 feb 2013

Ramesh Balsekar ja 14 feb 2013

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Master

God’s Name
belongs to the canvas figure, alone.
Prayer is open-ness.

Shell

GOD is a sound:  here a spiral shell
on the beach, and elsewhere tightly closed.
The Mystery of Master’s work within a gem
erases and enhances Grace.

The co-creation has no concept
but to be.  The Master knows not
how his own beard grows.

Wandering Fool with paper boats

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Binah – the Understanding

The drum’s
cellular surface quivers
like an ear.

Osmosis passes from root in earth to flowering leaf, as sun from star.
Osmosis regulates cell densities through magnetic vacuum
beyond the brain.

The gnosis has no fight with life,
and always unseats itself.
Behind every alteration it
seems to bring about, gnosis
remains unaltering.

The philosophical aphorism accepts and discards
concepts freely, as tools
that grow on us, are sharp,
grow blunt, and are put away.

arcana 6 and 0_0001

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

Aquariel Link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Today’s Sketches of Robert, Ramana and Ramesh

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Robert and seek

I discovered last night this beautiful photo on the web, to draw from:  Robert & Seek.  The photo is on a blog called http://itisnotreal.com

Robert’s parkinsons’ whisper, slightly nasal, and wide uncluttered eyes…

“Who am I? … I’m teaching you today a combination of bhakta and jnana.  Bhakta and Jnana – Devotion and Wisdom.  Think of your Heart centre in the right side of your chest and see the form of the deity that you love dearly. The form may be of Krishna, Jesus, Ramana, Moses, Mohammed or a Guru.  Inhale, say Lord – or Hari – exhale, say the name of the One you love and desire.

This is called using Name and Form.  It is an ancient tradition. 

If you are an atheist and don’t want to see anyone’s form, you can see LIGHT, pure light, in your Heart.  And you can chant to yourself, something like this:  “I am an open channel for the manifestation of all Good …”  Whatever your practice is, this is what you can do.  But you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to follow this, make it happen.

Then … “Who is the ‘I’ beyond this image?  Who is the ‘I’ that is seeing Christ, seeing Ramana?  Who is the ‘I’ that’s observing all these things?

“Who am I?”   Never answer that question!  Just pose the question to yourself … who am I?    … who am I? 

You will notice the thoughts will not come through again.  The thoughts have stopped.  You will no longer be bombarded by thoughts! like you were before.  For thinking of the Sage within your Self, has calmed you down tremendously.  Who am I … ?

If thoughts invade you again, go back to Ramana Maharshi in your heart.  Or Christ, or whoever.  See the image, (breathe in Hari,) repeat the Name.  Hari Ramana!   Hari Ramana! 

Then go back again to “Who am I?” … “Who am I?”

When approximately an hour has passed, get up and go about your business.  You will find that during the day something very interesting has happened to you.  You are filled with peace!  You’ve entered a different dimension.  Things that used to make you angry will stop.  Things that made you depressed, lonely, upset – have gone away.  You will feel fulfilment.  Do the same thing before you go to sleep.”

From transcript “The Method of Freedom”

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butterlamp

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Ramana & Arunachala children

The photo for this drawing was another “find” – this time on facebook – (Eraaramesh, thank you!)     Ramana and the little brothers and sisters … nephews?   I seem to recognise them.

A “revisit to India” is long due.  Drawing this, recaptured for me the luscious sights, sounds, smells and faces of Tamil Nadu – those waggling heads. Wonderful feeling.

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Not like a boat’s sail wide outspread 
and worn away by wind and weather, 
but like the humble anchor sunk 
in the vast ocean’s depth, the mind 
should plunge and settle in the heart 
of wisdom.

Garland of Guru’s Sayings by Muruganar
(Ramana’s conversations  set to verse.)

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Ramesh talks at home

Ramesh Balsekar talks at home, Sindula Building in Mumbai – his crowded lofty living-room.  I hear the sparrows and crows, and over the rooftops, the sea can just be seen.  He looks rather pensive in this sketch.  I would like to have got him more sharp and “pouncy” – his teaching style is like a falcon.   However, there were these inward moments also, particularly when the lady sitting next to him sang the bhajans at the end of a vigorous morning.  He closed his eyes then, and slowly tapped the rhythm.

Ramesh was rarely still.  He quivered like a racehorse:

“My concept is, that no action is anyone’s action … The input is:  God sends you a thought, over which you have no control … the brain reacts to that input and brings out an output, strictly according to the programming.  And that output over which Lawrence has no control, Lawrence says is HIS ACTION.  You see?  … From that deepest possible source, which is the Source itself, the question will arise:  If Lawrence doesn’t do any action, WHO IS LAWRENCE?  WHO AM I?  

“But the big difference is, that it is not the intellect which asks the question.  The question ARISES from personal experience that Lawrence doesn’t do anything.  Lawrence doesn’t act – therefore who is Lawrence?  Then the question arises FROM THE VERY DEPTHS OF YOUR BEING, into which Ramana asks you to dive – ‘If I don’t do any actions, who am I?’ 

“And then again, if it is God’s will or grace, and the destiny of that bodymind organism, FROM that very Source from which the question arose, will arise the answer:  there really is no Lawrence.  There never has been any Lawrence, other than the name given to this bodymind organism.  You see?  And as far as my concept goes, that is the only sadhana or effort necessary.  That is my interpretation of Ramana Maharshi’s query “who am I?” 

That is my answer, Lawrence, to the question, the burning question which everybody has:  How do I go about this Self enquiry, if this Self enquiry is not a mantra and not an intellectual question?

From a conversation with Lawrence Bentley

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butterlamp boat

A butterlamp at dawn

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books).  Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/