The Elder – Here we are dealing with a more advanced stage. The lotus of the heart is oriented upwards in order to receive the grace.
Theo. – Do you mean we have reached Point 4, the point of fire?
The Elder – As a matter of fact, that point does not exist anymore. To allow the heart’s turning over, all the mayavic envelopes have been dissolved.
Theo. – Even the envelope of the atman (the soul)?
The Elder – Yes, even that one, the most beautiful one. It is a fascinating envelope. It bears felicity and bliss. It is one of our last and subtle illusions.
Theo. – What sort of a hamper could it be, if it were to stay there? It is so attractive!
The Elder – It is the last cover. If it were to stay, merging with the Ultimate would not be possible yet. There would certainly be some uniting, but the consciousness of the soul’s existence would remain, even though it was united with God. That union is the highest stage in Prakriti (Nature). It gives the disciple access to Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Felicity). Then he will have to renounce it, if he wants to go further into God.
Theo. – That goes beyond the limits of my imagination, but I have the feeling, the intuition, of what such a stage may represent. It is both beautiful and awesome.
The Elder – That is the mystery of the ‘unknown’ we ‘know’.
Theo. – For the time being, I have not reached that stage yet, however attractive it may be. How could I make the process gather momentum?
The Elder – There are several direct routes to the Ultimate. You already know the one I consider is the most sublime one: Love.
Theo. – I know! You’ve even associated it with your original way, jnana (knowledge), which ends up as a Love-Wisdom, when knowledge is in the service of love.
The Elder – I’d rather speak of knowing through love and thanks to that love whose fruit is wisdom, that very Love-Wisdom, which is my favourite objective. As you said, loving God naturally means you want to serve Him, and the best way for it is by serving humankind. So, starting from Love, we come to see the three main ways that come from Love. They represent what we call raja-yoga.
Theo. – You have also lengthily developed the practice of devotion, hence your attraction for mysticism and the mystics. You have shown how devoted to your Masters, to God, your really were.
The Elder – When you practice raja-yoga as recommended by the Sahaj Marg, some aspects will remain present, but if the soul is to be refined, one of them has to prevail, according to each individual personality.
Theo. – For you, it all started with knowledge, until Babuji touched your heart, thus awakening that Sublime Love within you.
Lost in dreams, the Elder then remembered that blessed moment he had enjoyed in Babuji’s house, in Shahjahanpur. Suddenly, there had been such a change in the atmosphere of the room where the two friends stood. In the silent dawn, you could practically have heard the music the bubbles in Babuji’s hookah played. Once again, the Elder could see his dear Babuji’s big eyes, his simultaneously intense and blurred eyes. Where was he, now? He was probably in another dimension, within the heart of his young friend, and within many thousands of these other hearts that are aspiring to the Ultimate.
Theophile the Younger kept quiet, in order not to hinder the sacred silence the Elder was immersed in, as he was remembering his Beloved Master. His questioning, his dubiety looked so trivial at such a moment when space was expanding infinitely….
After a long silent contemplative pause, the Elder started speaking again:
– When you are in the Beloved’s presence, he absorbs you within Him. Then you feel as if you were in a cocoon of love. Miraculously, your mind is satisfied and it stops bustling about. There are no more questions. Your ego is in peace, too, because it stands in its right place. It knows it is loved, infinitely loved. It is ready for achieving the Lord’s will. At the moment, it is floating in sweet bliss, keeping pace with the bubbles of the hookah. That moment is a perfect one. The dear friend at whose feet you are sitting is the epitome and the manifestation of Perfection. Feeling welcome within that Divine Perfection, you tarry there, feeling happy.
Theo. – Fully satisfied?
The Elder – It is subtler than that. Fully contented would be nearer to the truth. It is that sort of infinite contentment nothing will ever alter.
Theo. – Were you aware of what was happening to you, then?
The Elder – Yes and no! My consciousness, chit, as well as my mind, were both suspended. I was totally present to His Presence, like the baby that has had its fill of its mother’s milk. I was feeling a wellbeing I wished I could infinitely maintain.
Theo. – Were you in samadhi?
The Elder – Maybe! Anyway, that blessed moment is really what founded my spiritual approach. So far, I would practice jnana-yoga intensely (the yoga of knowledge and consciousness), as well as karma-yoga (the yoga of action and deeds); but from the day when I lived such a blessed moment, thanks to my Master’s grace and love, I integrated bhakti-yoga (the yoga of devotion and piety).
Theo. – It was the weakest part, in raja-yoga.
The Elder – Babuji made it bloom. It had not been awakened within me, yet.
The Elder – How do you explain it?
The Elder – It came from the education I had received. Devotion and mysticism were considered as a weakness all religions had overused in order to enslave their flocks. My parents were very suspicious about it. As far as I know, they would not pray, either. One should not beg for God’s favours, they must have thought. Either God will give what He said he would give, or you will have to conquer it.
Theo. – I ‘m afraid the ego seems to be quite pregnant in that sort of approach.
The Elder – It is inherent with the way of knowledge and erudition. It requires a strong will and provides some powers too. That is what happens when you discover the way this creation functions. Having an access to its laws and regulations, you tend to believe you can master and dominate it all, including your own self.
Theo. – I see. That’s how pride develops, then, with the danger it poses. In that particular way, which is almost like a path of war, mind, intellect and ego (manas, buddhi, ahankara) have to be powerful enough to trace the route, haven’t they?
The Elder – If you practice jnana-yoga only, renouncement is the key. If you have opted for raja-yoga (as recommended by Sahaj Marg), Love is the key.
Theo. – So, you have chosen Love I guess.
The Elder – Love has chosen me.
Theo. – What was your major asset at the time?
The Elder – Surrender. I opened my heart to Babuji and I let him work, no questions being asked anymore, or at least very few of them … (smiling) most of the time.
Theo. – That was the famous ‘surrender’ disciples appreciate so much, wasn’t it?
The Elder – I had an access to devotion through Love, not vice versa. I am one in the line of the rebels (Neither religion nor master!), of the warriors. We have to conquer, including our selves. The Way is an inner combat leading to God, and neither anything nor anybody can stop or impede the seeker.
Theo. – Not even one’s self?
The Elder – That is the problem, as you have to fight your self.
Theo. – What do you mean?
The Elder – You fight your ego, but through the ego, you fight your mind, and through the mind, you fight the intellect and the consciousness the mind has created.
Theo. – It is a very heroic approach indeed.
The Elder – It is a way that leads to a real humility, once you have realized how powerless you are. The more knowledge you acquire, the more you realize how ignorant you are. The more powers you acquire, the more you discover there is a higher power. You know that your subconscious is vast and that you will never be able to manage it. You have a glimpse of the dimensions of your supra-consciousness. Then you are both amazed and overwhelmed.
Theo. – That is the moment when you accept to be guided by a realized Master, when you humbly surrender to him and trust him in that impossible quest the quest for God can be.
The Elder – Absolutely! There, you have to understand it is not about submitting in a warlike way. It is more than surrendering oneself. You have to give your self out of love and within love. No effort required. You can do it as naturally as the baby who surrenders itself to its mother’s arms. It is not even aware of its being in a supreme state of wellbeing then. It does not ask any questions, you see! That’s my idea of what devotion is like.
Theo. – Weren’t you surprised about that condition?
The Elder – It aroused Love within me, together with all the dimensions it goes through and illuminates. Much farther along the way, I remembered that during my previous incarnation I had loved Jesus Christ very intensely and that I had completely surrendered to God.
Theo. – Did you have such a memory?
The Elder – Babuji aroused that memory and the Lord showed me that my quest for the Ultimate was going on in a perfect way.
Theo. – That is when you opted for Love-Wisdom and partly renounced knowledge, is it?
The Elder – The question is no longer about willing or giving up, since everything is in its right place.
Theo. – And it’s all due to Love!
The Elder – Exactly! Love will help you put everything in its right place. It helps you tuning in.
Theo. – It is a sattvik (balance) state then.
The Elder – That’s what it is, but that state comes from your being in Unity with God, rather than from balancing the tamasic and the rajasic states. Love erases all duality while staying rooted in a dual world. Love makes your egotistic tendencies be ineffective. It puts them to sleep, and it can even help your Master to clean them away completely. It makes your heart purer and purer.
Theo. – And purity will attract more and more love, won’t it?
The Elder – Love attracts the divine grace and, as Daaji says, “Thousand prayers are worth a transmission, a transmission can change it all, but grace is worth one thousand transmissions.”
Theo. – That makes the Way of Love very attractive! It is similar to Constant Remembrance. I begin to understand.
Both friends remained thoughtful for a while, in an inhabited silence. Then Theo continued:
– It is the royal path, yet you told me you had started suffering. I don’t really feel like suffering, do I?
The Elder – That suffering will concern the soul, which aspires to being itself again.
Theo. – Is it a ‘paradise lost’ sort of pain?
The Elder – Well! At first, I was rather lost indeed. I knew it was the ‘That’ I wanted, but I was still operating with my old thought patterns. I did not know how to deal with that.
– Well! It’s the first time I hear you say you could not understand!
The Elder – Love is not to be understood. You just live it, you can see its positive effects, and if ever it is missing, you suffer.
Theo. – Did you have to suffer for a long time?
The Elder – I suffered for nearly a year, until I came to see Babuji again. He had become the unique source of that Sublime Love on earth. He had the key to that dimension I was aspiring to, a dimension about which I could understand nothing at all. Practicing Sahaj Marg was the key, they would tell me, but after the experience I had to go through, I doubted it. There had to be something else.
Theo. – So, what was the key?
The Elder – Babuji himself, he who had become my spiritual guide, the one who had guided me towards God; but then, it all had become a mystery, whereas before I’d always thought I could understand.
Theo. – That is when you discovered you were a mystic, someone who has an access to the mystery of God, isn’t it?
The Elder – That evolution also had a side effect.
Theo. – What side effect?
The Elder – I became more humane. Love makes us more humane, whereas knowledge makes us more arrogant. When you know, you develop a sense of superiority, but when you love, you become full of compassion and humility.
Theo. – Humility! Why?
The Elder – Because you know that you are powerless. We can only beg for Love and its salutary power. You cannot force Love; you cannot manipulate it. It is there, or it is not there. Love has its own way of working, and when you are in the presence of a realized Master, Love is always there.
Theo. – And that is when grace pours down on us…
The Elder – We were not even aware of it. Sometimes, Babuji would announce that grace was pouring down, and he would draw our attention to the peace that reigned when he was there.
Theo. – Was it the reason why you and your wife would go and see him every year?
The Elder – Can we explain why moths are attracted to a flame? A lover feels only like being in the presence of his beloved.
Theo. – That is pure devotion then!
The Elder – To my surprise, whereas I had so far considered that our wise Masters were there to help me in my spiritual journey, in my quest for God, I realized that I was now in the presence of a human being who was representing the very goal I wanted to attain. My head was confused, but my heart knew.
Theo. – And Babuji cared only for your heart. He knew your head would follow when appropriate.
Theo. – The liberation from the manifested world, from duality and from gravity.
The Elder – At the same time, he would set free the inner master within me. He was a living mirror of him.
… When Babuji left this world, he entrusted me to his disciple Parthasarathi, who had to complete my education. So, Parthasarathi continued opening the way to the Lord. He made sure the three parts of raja-yoga were well balanced while he was opening the path that leads to the Centre. He protected me every time obstacles appeared on that path.
Theo. – What was your greatest difficulty?
The Elder – My self. I always trusted it. I had known for quite some time, for many lifetimes, that I would have to die and die again to my self before reaching the goal of my existence: God, and being reborn in God. I had an idea about God, about the Path. I had to unlearn what I thought I knew. We are eternity travellers, Travellers Without Luggage. We have to get rid of everything, of our qualities as well as of our shortcomings, and keep nothing at all.
Theo. – The Way of knowledge too involves renunciation.
The Elder – It is a fabulous way, and the most arduous one. As soon as you have acquired something, some knowledge, some illumination, some power, you must renounce it rapidly if you want to go on ahead. In raja-yoga, love makes it all much easier. As you start travelling that path, you act out of love, you only act for the love of the spiritual mother your master is for you. You are in touch with the heart of his heart. He draws you in into love and to infinity, his own infinity, your infinity. Through cleaning, he creates an Akashic vacuum. Your soul is sucked up towards the centre of your being.
Theo. – How is it possible?
The Elder – You are in the mental matrix of the Master; now your evolution level doesn’t matter at all. You are within Him, you are protected, you are loved.
Theo. – Can love achieve such a wonder?
The Elder – His heart is the spaceship that can travel at superluminal speeds. It forms that sort of cocoon that will really protect the aspirant.
Theo. – Now I can better understand the raison d’être of bhakti (devotion).
Theophile the Elder
An excerpt from Dialogs with Theophile the Elder
Theophile the Younger’s Initiation