Theo. – There is a notion I can’t integrate easily: the notion of laya-avasta. You told me that it is the Sanskrit equivalent of the Christian mystics’ annihilation and of the Sufis’ fana. It is easy for me to experience laya-avasta when I am absorbed in a deep meditation; I can even feel an ineffable joy then, but as soon as I am back into my everyday life, it gets difficult.

The Elder kept silence for quite some time, going deeper and deeper into it while remaining totally attentive to Theo.

Then he filled a glass with water and handed it to Theo.

Theo. – I asked you an essential spiritual question and you answer it by giving me some water, is that it?

Actually, the Elder was making Theo ready for receiving his answer: by having him drink some water filled with divine transmission, he led his young friend’s consciousness to the greater depths of the heart.

He said:
– “When the river flows into the Ocean, it looses its name.”

The formula impacted Theo’s mind and he was impressed.

Theo. – The metaphor is inspiring.  On joining the Ocean, the river will naturally lose its identity, and the procedure is smooth. The upstream river continues to exist. It gushes forth from deep within the ground and flows across the various landscapes, circumventing or flooding its obstacles. It receives both rainwater and the water from other small streams. It cascades, then lies peacefully within lakes, and it can even happen to be trapped by a dam. It irrigates all the land it crosses. The nearer it gets to the Ocean, the more slit it contains, and that will feed the surrounding land. Streams often flow together towards the same goal: merging into the Ocean, the source of life and of regeneration. The nearer the river gets to its goal, the more it feels like merging into it so as to get lost into the depths of the ocean.
In the delta area, when its course comes to an end, the river often seems to get lost in a maze of marshes where a whole host of wildlife species will find food and shelter. Then its waters get murkier or even brackish, only because it is the last initiatory stage before the river merges into the infinity of the ocean. The further it moves forward, the faster time seems to be going by, though the end of the course seems to be endless.

The Elder – The first cycle is always the most difficult one. Once the river has lost its identity by flowing into the Ocean, it becomes the Ocean, and its consciousness encompasses the Ocean as a whole. Then it can perceive not only its own course but also the course followed by all the other streams that are inexorably flowing towards the Ocean.

Theo. – It compares with a master of the oceanic waters who could guide torrents, brooks, streams and rivers along their life courses and their initiatory stages.

The Elder – When a river has completed its course several times, the Ocean itself is running through it. Having been initiated by the Ocean itself, the river will then become a spiritual entity.

Theo. – Do you mean that it is no longer aware of being a river?

The Elder – The river’s consciousness has become oceanic. It is at once river, Ocean and streams… It is Water.

Theo. – What makes a river with an oceanic consciousness different from a river with an ordinary consciousness?

The Elder – A river having an ordinary consciousness bears a name. It is identified by its course, its action, the landscapes it crosses, the flood and drought periods, or by the impact it has on insects, birds, lands, animals and men. It can be either calm or troubled, depending on the time. Inversely, an oceanic river is always balanced and serene, whatever it is going through…
An oceanic consciousness can only be identified as oceanic water and its original source. It sees nothing but the oceanic water that is flowing in its bed. Any awareness it can have of its deeds and of their fruit is always related to the Ocean. It lost itself into Him a long time ago. Oceanic water alone is what will feed water tables, surface waters and lakes, as well as the clouds and the rain that are filled with its blessings. It makes no difference between a creek and the mighty river that runs across and feeds vast territories.
Water is as simple as God; it adapts easily and it nourishes all and everything with love.

Theo. – So, having lost its ego, the spiritual entity can now be either a mere stream or a majestic river, and why not, a human being, can’t it?

The Elder – When the spiritual entity is absorbed into the Divine, it loses its identity. When a specific work has to be done, then it gets its identity back or it constructs a new identity depending on the circumstances.

Theo. – Like Babuji, who had been Patanjali. Nowadays, some people know him as Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur, and for others he is the founder of ashtanga-yoga.

The Elder – His spiritual identity is that indeed, but it is also something else. As a human being, the difficulty consists in being able to understand that we are multi-dimensional individuals and that we belong to the unique Frame that covers the whole universe and all its various worlds. The link between individuals is divine. That link animates them through His breath, His will and His love.

Theo. – As Babuji would say, we are all united and interdependent. It reminds me of quantum physics, with love in addition.

The Elder – In the way of Love, everything is to be done gently and in a fully God-oriented spirit. The ego is what sees it as the disappearing of the self. There is no loss, but a sure gain instead. During the laya-avasta process, we progressively give up our poor little personality in order to become like Him. We lose our appropriations, i.e. our own creation, and for that loss we gain His creation, the whole creation. Our consciousness, which was feeling cramped so far, can now unfold endlessly.

As usual, both friends plunged gently into the infinite Ocean of meditation.

Theophile the Elder
An excerpt from Dialogs with Theophile the Elder
Theophile the Younger’s initiation