"This young American boy, without any formal religious background or training, according to Ramana himself and the scribes recording it, was Enlightened to the same degree as found in the spiritual Awakenings attributed to the ancient classical masters and is now fully grown and living in the United States today."
THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana
The venerated Indian holy man, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi died in 1950. In that his death occurred some sixty years ago, people the world over are quickly falling by the wayside that either knew him, met him personally, studied under his grace and light, and or had darshan with him. The last known non-western direct lineage disciple of Ramana still alive is considered by most to be Sri Lakshmana Swamy. Born December 25, 1925, he is easily approaching his 90s. On October 1, 1949, at the age of 24, less than six and a half months before Ramana's death, Laskshmana fully realized the Self in the presence of the Maharshi, the last person, east or west, known to have done so.(see)
Probably the last two westerners of any note to have met with the Maharshi in the flesh are found in the stories that circulate around that of a young American boy who visited the ashram for several months circa 1944 and a few years later, that of a boy-come-man of then age 18 by the name of Robert Adams. Adams, who died in 1997, devotion to seeking out and studying under the Maharshi is truly admirable and not to be discounted under any circumstances. First, however, our focus here will be on the last living member of the two --- who is now fully grown and living in the United States today and most likely Ramana's only remaining western disciple to have studied under him in the flesh and for sure the last American alive to have sat with Ramana in the ashram.
The foremost chronicler of the younger boy and his Enlightenment, Ramana adherent C.R. Rajamani, writes:
"Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness. He shed tears for quite some time and later said to his mother, 'I am so happy. I don't want to leave his presence. I want to be always with him!' His mother was most upset. She pleaded with Sri Bhagavan, 'Swami, please release my son! He is our only child. We will be miserable without him.' Sri Bhagavan smiled at her and said, 'Release him? I am not keeping him tied up. He is a mature soul. A mere spark has ignited his spiritual fire.' So, that casual look was a spark of tremendous power. Turning to the boy, He said, 'Go with your parents. I will always be with you.' He bowed to Sri Bhagavan and reluctantly left with his parents, immensely rich with the newly-found spiritual treasure." (source)
In that there are so few individuals remaining who actually interacted with Ramana in the flesh, especially anyone whose "mental barriers were reduced to nothingness," and, in that the boy was not only the youngest but now most likely Ramana's last living western disciple, and for sure the last American to have been under his grace, the question is, where is the boy now? Is he still alive? Is he teaching? Was he really Enlightened?
The short answer is: yes. Even though many years have elapsed since the boy had darshan at the ashram under Ramana's auspices, who was toward the final years of his life, the boy himself was very young at the time AND remains in good health right up to this day. So said, he IS still alive, albeit in his 70s, and yes, he IS a U.S. born American citizen currently residing in the United States at this moment. And yes, he DID reach Full Attainment through the grace and light of Sri Ramana as a young boy --- followed right on the heels of that event however, with a continuing series of what Ramana refered to as Mara induced events. Some of those inducements fell beyond the grasp of Mara's clutching hand, others unfolded so deeply adverse that in the end Ramana himself had to intercede --- all of which is told in the following four brief sections: - (I) PRELUDE TO THE MAHARSHI, (II) LETTERS FROM INDIA, (III) THE TRIP TO INDIA, and (IV) THE AWAKENING, along with their attending footnotes.
I. PRELUDE TO THE MAHARSHI
One day during a period of time just prior to the death of my Uncle the two of us were going over the many years we spent together as I was growing up. After rummaging around in a few boxes while we talked he came across several files and large envelopes filled with a jumble of handwritten notes --- notes he made over the years regarding any number of things, but mostly notes that contained references to our travels and times together.
Contained within those files, the majority of which my uncle refused to part with, but, since his demise, for reasons unknown, have somehow simply disappeared, were a dozen or more letters that my uncle wrote and mailed to my father. The letters were all written during the courtship period between my mother and father that led up to their marriage --- although before my uncle actually met my future mother in real life. How my uncle ended up with letters HE wrote and sent to his brother, MY dad, is not clear. However, in that a large portion of the content circulated around my mother and father, after I read them he eventually agreed that I could have and forward them, but none of the other stuff, to my younger brother for his own edification. Unlike the files and materials that remained in my uncle's hands and disappeared, my brother kept the letters I mailed him in safe and good order.
My uncle who gave me the letters, had a son that was the same age as my older brother. During the years I was under my uncle's auspices my older brother and cousin ran around together. In the process they became fairly good friends. When we all went our separate ways, like we always did, only this time for the last time as kids, the two of them lost contact. Following the death of my uncle, my older brother, after he suddenly realized that "he too was getting up there," decided he wanted to look up our cousin --- a cousin neither of us had seen or talked to in over forty years --- and requested I join him on his quest. Eventually we found him living in New Mexico.(see)
Sometime prior to our departure I asked our younger brother to join us in our adventure. Although he graciously opted out for reasons important to him, he did remember having our uncle's letters I had given him many years before. In that the letters were written by our cousin's father, my younger brother suggested I take them along. Which I did.
When my cousin saw the letters HIS dad had written it came to him that he had found a whole pile of letters MY dad had written. He came across them quite by accident one day while placing into storage an old roll-top desk that belonged to his father, my uncle, after he died. The letters, of which my uncle never mentioned during my various visits with him over all the years before, unbeknownst to him or anyone else and then apparently forgotten by all, had fallen behind and between the end of a broken drawer and the bottom of the back wall of the desk. Up until seeing them myself, I never had the remotest idea that my father even knew one thing about writing letters --- let alone that he would if he could --- and if he had, that any existed.(see)
After personally seeing and holding the letters myself, even though they were written by my father in his own hand --- because they were intended for and sent to my uncle --- they were in a sense, owned by my cousin. As friendly as we all were on the surface, in the end he was quite reluctant to part with them. In so saying, my older brother and I holed up at our cousin's place out in the middle of the desert between Santa Fe and Albuquerque for a week or so and read every one of them over and over.
II. LETTERS FROM INDIA
The contents of the letters written by my father were a virtual treasure trove of my childhood. Stories about the three of us boys being born, my older brother starting first grade and me learning to read right along with him. All kinds of day-to-day activities. The most startling for me however, although I had come to know about the incident in a roundabout way over the passage of years, was seeing in my father's own hand his written confirmation of me being taken, without his approval, to India as a young boy even before the death of my mother.
Further backing up the confirmation by my father were three yellowed handwritten letters that had been sent to him from India. However, until I unsealed them, none of the three letters appeared to have ever been opened. The thing is, during the time period the letters were actually written and mailed, because hostilities continued around the globe between Allied and Axis powers, letters mailed from overseas were typically opened and/or censored and/or both. I can offer no clear reason or explanation as to how or why the three letters slipped through unopened and uncensored, only that they did. It has been suggested to me it could be because it was quite apparent the letters were from a civilian directed to a civilian as well as being from India, far removed from the action --- as well as being under British post.
All three were done in pencil and all three were found to be difficult to read by anybody who saw them --- primarily because of the lightness of the lead on the paper combined with a nearly indecipherable cursive handwriting. All appeared to have been either written in, on the way to, or on the way back from India and mailed via air in care of my father, not to our home in California, but for reasons unknown, to the address where my grandmother on my father's side lived in Pennsylvania. In that the three letters were found stashed away in the rolltop desk with the forgotten batch of letters written by my father, and with my uncle since deceased, why they were never read by my father or anybody else is not fully known. (see)
The earliest dated letter was written on a letterhead from a steamship line. The second dated letter was on a letterhead from a hotel in India, and the third on a letterhead from an India-based American religious sect. The first two were postmarked several weeks apart from India with the third a month or so after the last of the two, from Liverpool, England. All were written with an apparent preordained assumption of understanding by my father, but seemed highly cryptic to me because at the time of my reading of the letters I had very little to no real background knowledge relating to any of the circumstances contained therein. The two that carried the India postmarks went on-and-on mostly just rambling with excuses of why I had been taken to India in the first place and how good it was going to be for me in the long run. Except for several long incoherent paragraphs about picking up a live survivor or two or none at all amongst several dead in a life raft sometime before arriving or after leaving Cape Town, South Africa, The Liverpool Letter circulated mostly around the logistics of bringing me home along with a brief mention of the possibility of me somehow being sick, all the while avoiding any previous mention of how great it would be for me to be in India.(see)
III. THE TRIP TO INDIA
As for the death of my mother, she died of an inoperable brain tumor while I was still quite young. Most of the later letters written by my father contained information about her I never heard before. Some two or three years or so prior to her death, the tumor, unknown to exist at the time to anyone during those early stages, began affecting her behavior. Slowly at first, but then more and more as time went on. During that period it became increasingly more difficult for my father to deal with her as well as take care of three young boys. Among the things he wrote was how my mother began fainting, falling down, passing out and going into trance like states. She also started seeing things, talking to herself and to people who weren't there, as well as what my father described as fortune telling or predicting the future. Soon others heard of her trance-like states and predictions and began blanketing her conduct, rightly or wrongly, with that of a more spiritual-like aspect. More and more began to visit her in a quest to hear more and more of what she had to say and about their futures.
How accurate any of those predictions were I don't know nor did my father ever say. However, people believed they were close enough to being accurate that they continued to come over. He wrote about one couple, a man and a woman originally from Australia but living in America, who were visiting neighbors next door for several weeks. The couple belonged to what he called "a sort of religious sect" called Theosophists. According to my father's letters, when the couple heard about my mother's abilities, like many others, they started to come over while my father was working, staying for hours on end, often just the three of them alone in a darkened room, almost like a seance. By the tone of the letters you could tell my father didn't like it very much.
Although I do not remember any of this, the depth of my mother's illness seemed to increase almost exponentially from practically negligible to extremely serious almost overnight. As she became more and more immobilized my father began to farm us boys out to others on a more-or-less regular basis. We went from conventional short term babysitting during the day to being with our grandparents overnight or to others several days a week, as my father continued --- because of mounting medical expenses --- to put more and more working hours in to make ends meet. Apparently, because of same, the couple offered to take care of one of us boys on a full time basis. Although it would seem the couple did not fall into my father's favorite people catagory, for whatever reason, he agreed.
The couple selected me and I went to live with them. Still not remembering any of the events, after being with the couple a short time, according to one of the letters my dad wrote, they decided to go to India asking my father if it was OK for me to go with them. In one of the letters he said initially I refused to go to India with the couple, making a big fuss, putting up a big battle, and throwing huge fits, saying I did not want to be with them I only wanted to be with my "real" mother and father. I just wanted to go home. By that time however, and unknown to me, my mother was no longer at home, having become totally unable to care for herself, so much so my dad placed her into a full care sanatorium-like hospital in Santa Barbara, California on an around the clock basis. Before my dad had a chance to respond to the couple, the couple, knowing full well that my mother was in a sanatorium, without my father's grace, took me to India, simply sending him a note saying that in the end I had changed my mind about going. While I was gone my mother died. I missed the funeral and by the time I got back my family had disintegrated, my two brothers and myself all going separate ways, my dad disappearing into the countryside heavy into alcohol.
Upon my return from India, with my mother dead, my two brothers dispersed across the country living with separate families and my father long gone, my grandmother, before the chance arose for me to be placed into a foster home, took me. I was with her but a few months when we went to see her only remaining child, a daughter, my mother's younger sister. Her husband, Mac, unrelated to any of the events surrounding my mother or the falling apart of my side of the family, had swirled, somewhat quickly, into a relentless state of deep depression. My grandmother went to lend support to her daughter, taking me with her. One day, after going shopping all day long in town with my grandmother and her daughter and her two children, we returned and pulled up in front of the garage. I got out of the car and opened the two side-by-side wooden garage doors. There right in front of me on the floor of the garage only a few feet away in the glare of the headlights, in a slowly expanding pool of blood, was Mac. The whole back of his head blown out from the blast of a double barrel shotgun he stuck in his mouth. His body laying there apparently falling off a still upright straight-back wooden chair with his once onetime skull full of brain now empty. Gone were all the synapses and neurons and everything that went with them, turned now into nothing but bloody silver-gray yellowish meat splattered all over the upper reaches of the nearby open-studded walls and exposed rafters.
There I was, a young boy barely even closing down on six or seven years of age, not long returned from India, without a mother, having missed both her final days and her funeral as well, standing with my mouth open, staring down on what only minutes before was someone else dear to me, not just gone, but excruciatingly gone. My aunt , stunned into disbelief at what she saw, with the car still in gear and engine running let her foot slip from the clutch as she apparently tried to step out of the car and run toward her husband. The vehicle lurched forward in one huge leap, crashing into the swung open garage door knocking it and me down and rendering me unconscious. It took months and months and reasons unknown before I suddenly came out of a nearly amnesia-like walking coma --- and even then, not fully so until years later. Everything that I knew and should have remembered about my mother's sickness, India, the time leading up to that moment in the garage, and being with my grandmother, either evaporated or was deeply covered over. Days, weeks, months, all gone. In closing that gap I remembered only up to one side, a side well before my mother ever got sick. A happy loving childhood with a mother and father and playing with my brothers and kids in the neighborhood. A house full of toys and my older brother learning to ride a bicycle. Then suddenly out of nowhere finding myself months later on the other side, getting out of a car clutching a tiny suitcase with nothing but a handful of crummy belongings and sack full of dirty underwear and not knowing how I got there. Standing on the sidewalk not much more than a simple beleaguered young boy with no mother and a father long gone, being taken by a stranger to live with a couple that owned a flower shop, a couple I was sure I had never seen or heard of in my life --- followed by a period of time which encompassed the failure of me to stay with the flower shop people for very long before running away --- on more than one occasion --- and because of same, ending up with living with my grandmother and uncle, with everything else in-between those two moments of my short childhood gone.
My father, of course, knew nothing of the events in India or how they applied to me, and his letters to my uncle reflect that. My father only knew that I was taken by the couple to India and it was done so without his consent. Since everybody is either gone or I do not recall them, most of what has come down to me about the incident is from outside sources such as the one by C.R. Rajamani found under a number of titles, but most frequently so Awakens the Child of Theosophists linked to in a footnote further down the page. Otherwise, except for a brief incident that happened between a man from India and myself when I was with my uncle one day when I was around ten or twelve years old and a second one many years later as a grown man, I know nothing of it, primarily because of the rather long blackout period. It is mostly because of the lingering residue of that basically still in place, albeit in later years, eroding blackout period, that I say without hesitation, along with similar comments elsewhere, the following as found in the source so cited:
"It should be brought to the attention of the reader that initially the incident as it transpired at the stage stop bore no specific relevance to anything Sri Ramana because who Sri Ramana was --- or that he even existed --- was an unknown to me consciously at the time. That is to say, even though I had met and personally interacted with Sri Ramana at the ashram only a few years berfore, on the surface the man in the doorway bore no significance being Sri Ramana because at that period in my life I was unable to recall anything about him from my everyday thoughts one way or the other.
"It was not until the Wanderling was handed the pamphlet that he became aware of the outside existance of someone who looked like the person at the stage stop and that apparently, that someone, was a person of notoriety. It was sometime later before he learned the person at the stage stop was Sri Ramana."(source)
Blackout or no, the most productive incident assisting in a semi-rollback of the veil of that period of time to some semblance of vague clarity, was my meeting as a grown-up with Adam Osborne. Osborne, as a young child and the son of Arthur Osborne --- a foremost author and writer of a string of highly successful books on Sri Ramana --- basically grew up in and around the ashram of Sri Ramana during the same time I was there. As young boys the same age, the two of us met and played together. Osborne's insights and recall into those times after we eventually met together years later as adults --- as found in the page so linked to his name above and to long to go into here --- helped enormously.
IV. THE AWAKENING
At the ashram Ramana turned and said, "Go with your parents. I will always be with you." Ramana knew, as I did, the couple I was with were not my parents. He also knew, which I didn't, that my mother was dying and my father would soon basically disappear because of the result of her death. Just as Ramana told Mercedes De Acosta, who visited the ashram some five years before, to return to America, saying: "You must return to America. Your destiny is not in India at this time," he was telling me that I should go with my parents, that is, return to BE with my REAL parents, back in America, my destiny was not in India at that time. Ramana, understanding the soon to be outcome of things on a spiritual level, meant for my return to America and the rejoining with my real parents to transpire as expediant as possible --- while my mother was still alive and my father was still in control of his well being. Even though the Australian couple followed Ramana's advice and took me back to America, they did so at their own leisure relative to Ramana, but, all the while looking over their shoulder with no slight amount of apprehension because in March of 1944 the Japanese had launched a three division invasion into India out of Burma and, even though the spearhead was some 1500 miles away, they shuddered at the outcome of such events in India as well as their own homeland. By the time I arrived home my mother had passed away with the funeral completed and over, my brothers scattered to the four winds, and my father gone.
Ramana, readily aware the couple were not my parents, and he wanting me to beat the clock home, and the plot not unfolding to allow me to do so, played a significant role in the overall scheme of things. However, in THAT overall scheme of things, it is the second half of the sentence that carries the most weight wherein Ramana says: "I will always be with you." The fact that Ramana stressed the fact that he would ALWAYS be with me is the KEY to everything. Regardless of whatever insight Ramana may have had, the fact of the death of my mother followed then quickly on the heels of that event by the trauma incurred from stumbling across the blood soaked suicide of Mac, in a child-like effort to survive, my surface level mind caved-in, and any memory of recently perceived events thereof became basically erased. Inturn, the elimination from my mind of ALL that transpired between Ramana and myself at the ashram, required of him --- if he was always to be with me --- an intensive intervention on his part to resurrect it. As found in the words of the Enlightened Zen master Luangpor Teean:
"An individual that knows Dharma can be compared to a lamp that lights up the darkness. One who is close will see clearly, while those further away will see less clearly. After a period of time the lamp's light may go out or be extinguished, but then, from time to time, the lamp will be relit, again providing illumination."
In White Light Shields Robert Bruce puts into words a known manifestation that arises for those along the spiritual path:
"The more pure and spiritually developed a person is (especially if they are actively working towards real spiritual advancement) the more attention they will attract from the negatives to pull them down."
Ramana was quite familiar with such concepts. Mara was at work here. The Bhagavan, fully Abiding in the Self where there is no Space-Time, knew clearly the events at the ashram and any potential downstream ramifications. That is why, years later, in what was for all practical purposes a classical case of resurrection, Ramana personally interceded and implemented, for him, the rarely used supernormal perceptual states known in Sanskrit as Siddhis. The reason the Maharshi did so for a young boy thousands of miles away and years ago long gone from the ashram is found in the preamble written by David Godman in the "The Guru," speaking of the words of Sri Ramana, Godman says:
"Just as the prey that has fallen into the jaws of a tiger cannot escape, so those who have come under the glance of the Guru’s grace will surely be saved and will never be forsaken."(see)
Ramana was not about to let ANY spiritual traveler, little boy or otherwise, slip back into the day-to-day quagmire of the Samsara world after, through his grace, he, from a mere spark, had ignited a spiritual fire and in that same spiritual traveler, have had all his mental barriers reduced to nothingness.(see) In my case he backed up those concepts in reality as found in THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana, where I tell how Ramana interceded:
"He looked right into my eyes from a few feet away and somehow TIME SEEMED TO SLOW, maybe even stopping altogether. From far away I felt myself losing balance, all the while trying to brace myself with one arm while trying to hold the lantern high with the other. I weighed a ton and could barely move. In ultra slow motion the light, moving now at such an overwhelmingly reduced rate I could hear it, flickered and nearly went out. Then, just as the lantern reached the top arc of its swing and stilled to start back, the light rekindled itself. In that waffer-thin edge-on membrane of darkness the man was gone." (source)
Even though the stage stop was thousands upon thousands of miles away from India, Ramana, paralleling many of his several fully recorded and known translocation or bilocation experiences, was there. What he was doing was replicating what happened considerably less than a few years before at the ashram, only now a super-concentrated effort on his part to bring about or re-insitgate the Experience. On my own accord, in the darkness, I sought out and found the matches and struck the flame. The "spark that ignited my spiritual fire" is mirrored in the spark of the match held to the light-generating properties innate to reasons of the lantern. I was holding the lantern high above my head, the lantern emitting a dim light --- or more accurately the room was so big and filled with darkness relative to that first small flame that the darkness simply absorbed the light --- giving the impression of a dimly lit room. The dimly lit room was me, the lantern and the light were one, the light intended to illuminate the room (me). With a turning sweep of dim light, at the top of the arc the light flickered and went out. I clearly saw the dark-skinned man standing in the open doorway and then, in that waffer-thin edge-on membrane of darkness he was gone. That membrane of darkness was when I entered the blackout period, and the man, Ramana, was gone --- gone from any memory. The light rekindled itself. That is, Ramana returned through the use of Siddhis to the stage stop to rekindle the lost light. Next to him was the man who was to become my Mentor, there to ensure Ramana's efforts were not lost.
V. GOING BACK TO THE ASHRAM
The question is often asked, since my original visit as a young boy have I returned to the ashram? The answer is yes, twice. My first return visit was recorded in at least one authorized ashram related publication. Since that first return and much more recently, I was traveling in the general area for unrelated reasons and decided to return again, my second return visit, or in actual count my third time at the ashram. I slipped onto the ashram grounds anonymously amongst a group of visiting tourists or devotees on pilgrimage to partake of the myriad of fragrances, sounds, and the light and dark of the shadows as the sun transited the sky. I could easily see young Adam Osborne and myself, barefoot, running across the dusty dirt covered common area.
The first return visit, the visit that was recorded in the ashram related publication, happened under very mysterious circumstances, with strong references pointing back toward the mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time, lost and hidden in a remote area of the Himalayas and known to outsiders under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-la. For those who may be so interested please see footnote .
NOTE: If you have not gone to any of the Footnotes as of yet please scroll down toward the bottom of the page.
THE BRITISH MOTOR MERCHANT TULAGI
SRI RAMANA'S WESTERN DISCIPLES, DEVOTEES, AND FOLLOWERS
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: PASS OR FAIL?
THE AWAKENING EXPERIENCE IN THE MODERN ERA
IN THE WAY OF ENLIGHTENMENT: The Ten Fetters of Buddhism
ON THE RAZOR'S
Although Laskshmana Swamy lives within shouting distance of the Ramana Ashram he seldom takes visitors and, except on his birthday once a year, does he do darshan --- and even that is sporadic lately. He will not even entertain seeing anyone who already has a guru or is an itinerant guru hopper, so forget it.
His adopted daughter, Mathru Sri Sarada, born in 1959 and now a woman of age 50-plus, lives at the same gated compound near the Ramana ashram. She realized the Self permanently under the grace and light of Laskshmana on December 18, 1978. She pretty much abides by the same rules as Laskshmana as to the coming and going of visitors, etc.
SRI LAKSHMANA SWAMY
MATHRU SRI SARADA
More than once in my writings, most notably in Brenda Allen, I mention that the woman my dad was married to at the time of his death was not particularly warm toward me, most likely because of how I continued to hold his second wife, the person I call my Stepmother, in such high regard. Instead she seemed to have taken that misplaced animosity she aimed toward me and blanketed it broadly across a number of other family members I was close to, of which one included my dad's brother, my uncle. When my father was caught in a fire in 1970 and seemed he was on his last legs, my uncle came to see him. However, my uncle was treated so shabbily by my dad's wife he vowed never to return regardless of the situation, a vow he held on to even to the point of not going to the funeral.
Toward the end of his life my father fell into a deep coma. Prior to the coma, around the start of the summer of 1972, he called me to his bedside without the knowledge of family or friends, including his wife. He told me he had long rented a small, single-car garage-size storage unit unknown to anybody. He said he knew under the circumstances his brother would never be coming out to see him again. So said he told me inside the storage unit was a large locked trunk clearly marked with his brother's name and he wanted me to take it to him post haste unopened without anybody's knowledge, even my brothers, and especially so before anybody discovered he had the storage unit.
Adhering to my father's request post haste (my dad's words), put me in Santa Fe unexpectedly on a quick couple of days turn around during late June early July of 1972. I say unexpectedly because as soon as I walked out of the hospital I went straight to the storage unit, picked up the trunk, and drove all night right to Santa Fe. Doing so put me into my uncle's schedule of doing things instead of the two of us designing time around me being there.
I did, however, since I was there, stay a couple of days. During all the time I was there, even though my dad seemed to place some importance on my uncle getting the trunk, my uncle never bothered to open it, at least in front of me. In so saying, I have no idea what the content of the trunk was, but whatever it was, my dad seemed adamant that he only wanted it to go to my uncle and not fall into the hands of others.
Most of my life my uncle and I were close, sharing many adventures and times together. In that during all those years together my uncle never mentioned the letters it is my suspicion they came to him late in life and were among whatever else was in the trunk.
WHERE ARE THE LETTERS NOW?
For additional insight into the letters and what happened to them and where they are now, especially so the three letters from India, please see:
THE LIVERPOOL LETTER
For the record, during that couple of days in Santa Fe my uncle had to meet up with, for some undisclosed reason, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who just happened to be in town during the same period and I went along. I wasn't introduced to or meet Ginsberg, staying off some distance milling around the car as requested by my uncle while the two of them talked. However, I was close enough to see Ginsberg was traveling with a couple of hangers-on, one of which was a woman about 30 with ultra-short dark hair the other a very tall young man with full beard and dreadlocks.
Although it was apparent Ginsberg and my uncle knew each other, why my uncle requested me to remain by the car while the two of them talked was never clear. I could have easily overridden the whole thing if I so chose, and perhaps I should have. I carried a major ace-in-the-hole relative to Ginsberg that would have elevated me quickly with him had I selected to do so --- that ace being me having met a few years prior a major high-profile woman in his inner circle that had disappeared, a woman by the name of Hope Savage. She had been with the Beats ever since Ginsberg's top player Gregory Corso brought her into their circle. She had gone to Paris and Corso had went in search of her with no luck. Ginsberg ran into her in India a few years later and was the last to see her when the two of them said goodbyes in Calcutta in 1962. However, I had inadvertently crossed paths with her wandering in a remote section of the Himalayas since then. He would have flipped had he found out about it.
A quick word of explanation here. When I write about my grandmother's "only remaining child, a daughter, my mother's younger sister," all in one sentence, I am of course, writing in the classical sense about an Aunt. So too, when I write about my aunt's husband, the man who committed suicide, I am also writing about an uncle. However, the uncle that committed suicide is NOT the Uncle I write about in all my presentations. The reason I do not call my aunt's husband uncle nor her aunt is because I do not want to confuse him with the uncle or his wife I write about over and over in all my works. The uncle I write about all the time was my father's brother, the uncle that committed suicide was married to my mother's sister. It was she, my mother's sister (i.e., my aunt), that was driving the car the night I opened the garage doors and it was she, years later, that related the events of that night to me so graphically. Her daughter, my first cousin, was in the car with us that night as well, along with her brother and my grandmother. She, that is my cousin, got out of the car and followed me to the doors. Although she was quite some distance behind me and on the far side of the car before her mother either purposely shut off the headlights or they went out, to this day my cousin is still unable to recall what she saw or even one small detail surrounding any of the events of that night.
It is not known if the double barrel shotgun used by my uncle to commit suicide had one or two shells in it at the time he pulled the trigger. Nor is it known if one or two shells were expended in completion of the act. However, those on the scene in the aftermath of the suicide report there were three brand-new unspent shells sitting on a 2X4 shelf within easy reach from the chair in which he was sitting. Speculation has it that the three shells were intended for the three remaining close family members (i.e., wife, daughter, son). If such was the case and why he changed his mind is unknown. However, in addition to the above three family members arriving at garage that night in the car were two additional family members, my grandmother and myself.
Years later my grandmother told me that within minutes of stumbling across the suicide nearby neighbors heard all the screaming, commotion, and running around. Several neighbors quickly came over to assist in whatever manner they were able. Shortly after that the police and an ambulance arrived with law enforcement and paramedics running all over the place. Along the way I was attended to with my head wound somehow being dressed. After that what happened is not clear. Apparently a neighbor found me and carried me into one of my cousin's bedrooms and covered me on the bed fully clothed and in the confusion all but forgotten.
THE WHITE PAINTED LADY AND OTHER ANOMALIES
Sometime way late into the night or the still-dark early morning hours I apparently got up and wandered off. It wasn't until after sunrise that someone remembered me, only to go into the room and discover I was gone.
In the meantime an old man driving a jeep on the way back to his home located far away somewhere out in the middle of desert found me walking all alone along some road. How I got to where I was, or if I had been picked up and dropped off by someone else before I got in the jeep with the old man, as well as when or where it was the old man found me, was never learned. There was some speculation I initially curled up in the back seat of a neighbor's car on my own volition and when they drove off, without them knowing it, still asleep, I just went along. Then when they stopped, I simply got out of the car and started walking. The story told to my grandmother was that the old man had no money, so, in those long-before cell phone days, he wasn't able to make a phone call --- nor did he have a phone at his shack. Instead he took me to the house of a woman friend of his even farther out in the desert, also with no phone. Some weeks later, taking me with him, the old man visited the dilapidated mining camp of a grizzly old desert prospector named Walt Bickel, that out of the blue just happened to know who my father was from his old gold mining days.(see) After the visit, the old man and woman, armed with at least a little background information about me from Bickel, took me into town and left me at the sheriff's office.
When my grandmother came to get me the sheriff said he had personally known the old man and woman for a very long time and that both were fine and good people. The man was a rough and tumble old guy who was known to have been a onetime a muleskinner or swamper for the 20 mule team borax wagons that used to make the trek up and out of Death Valley and across the desert. Now days the sheriff said, the old man spent most of his time in one fashion or the other participating in Native American sweat lodge ceremonies and most likely I did too. The sheriff assured my grandmother there was no need to worry about anything related to my overall well being during the time I was in their company. According to the sheriff the two just didn't experience the passage of time like others seemed to. The period of days or weeks I was with them was really no more than just a matter of them coming into town relative to their needs.
When my grandmother picked me up, strung around my neck was small cloth sack like a Bull Durham tobacco bag filled with 50 or more pieces of buckshot. The sheriff told her that one day when the old man did not return the woman and I went out across the desert looking for him. We didn't find the old man during our search but we did come across a fairly large but barely alive coyote that had been all shot up in the hindquarters and left rear leg by buckshot. We took the wounded coyote, a coyote that was easily twice the size of any normal one, back to the woman's shack. We then spent the rest of night and next day pulling buckshot out of the rear and back leg of the animal, throwing the little lead balls into a pan. The woman patched the coyote up as best she could and nursed him back to health over a couple of days. Then with his regained strength the coyote simply limped off into the sagebrush. However, before she turned the coyote loose she took the buckshot we removed and counted it out into two equal piles, putting one pile into a little cloth bag and the other pile into a second identical cloth bag. Then she put one bag around my neck and the other around the coyote's neck.
Before we left town the sheriff told my grandmother the old man and woman had driven in that day and if she wanted to thank them for caring for me he could take us to see them. The old man was in the jeep on the passenger side alone when we drove up with the woman just coming out of a nearby grocery store. My grandmother said the old man excused himself for not getting out of the jeep during the introduction because he had taken a terrifically bad fall in the desert some days before having scraped up his rear and left leg so badly he could barely move. My grandmother thanked them and we left. She told me before I got home she removed the bag from around my neck because she was afraid because it was filled with buckshot it might upset my aunt considering how her husband died. My grandmother also told me there must be some kind of desert tradition or something because the old man in the jeep had what appeared to be small sack of buckshot tied around his neck just like mine --- a bag that seemed to be an EXACT same duplicate of the one I had tied around my neck.(see)
Not all the the information found in the above footnote was garnered exclusively from conversations with my grandmother. Some of it was extrapolated and added to the mix from an interaction that occurred some years later with a Native American tribal spiritual elder. When I was around ten years old or so my uncle and I spent a lot of time traveling in and around some very isolated sections of the desert southwest interacting with the indigenous populations thereof because of various, as he called them, "art" related ties he had with them. Just as I was reaching my teenage years my uncle and I went our separate ways due to mitigating circumstances beyoned our control. However, in my young adult years we sort of took up again where we left off, and again pursued adventures together. On one of those trips we crossed paths with a tribal spiritual elder that apparently recognized me from being with the old man at a sweat lodge ceremony. He knew the significance of the bags of buckshot between the old man and myself. He said he had been present at the request of the woman to observe the removal of the buckshot from the coyote and participate in a ritual-like ceremony to ensure the animal's and our overall well being. As well, he told my uncle he remembered that I was very special in that everybody knew as a young boy I had been touched by the Native American spritual deity or Yei he refered to as the White Painted Lady but known as White Painted Woman. See:
THE LADY ON THE DOCK, THE PBY, AND HIGH BARBAREE
NOTE: Just before this footnote in the main text there is a sentence that gets sort of lost in the depth of all of the above, but in it's own way, is equally important in the overall unfolding of events. The sentence reads:
"Then suddenly out of nowhere finding myself on the other side, somehow being almost two years older and getting out of a car clutching a tiny suitcase with nothing but a handful of crummy belongings and sack full of dirty underwear and not knowing how I got there. Standing on the sidewalk not much more than a simple beleaguered young boy with no mother and a father long gone, being taken by a stranger to live with a couple that owned a flower shop, a couple I was sure I had never seen or heard of in my life --- followed by a period of time which encompassed the failure of me to stay with the flower shop people for very long before running away --- on more than one occasion."
The last time I ran away from the flower shop couple I ended up missing enough days of school that someone came to see why I was no longer attending. The couple told the school they had not seen me for several days and did not know where I was. The school inturn called my grandmother, the emergency contact listed on their paperwork. My grandmother came looking for me and eventually located me in my old hometown of Redondo Beach, California, staying with an only just recently discharged World War II ex-Marine taxi driver that had fought his way up through all the islands in all the major battles in the Pacific from Guadalcanal northward.
My grandmother, except possibly for the taxi driver and I having breakfast almost every morning at the Happy Hour Cafe owned by the infamous Fifie Malouf and maybe him visiting a "friend" there once in awhile in the afternoon in one of her apartments while I waited in the cafe, quickly assessed the ex-Marine as an otherwise honorable enough man, thanked him for overseeing my well-being, then took me back with her.
THE WANDERLING AND HIS UNCLE
Their Life and Times Together
Now, while it is true that during the time that elapsed between me being knocked unconscious by the garage door following the suicide of my uncle and being left on the curb to live with the flower shop people months and months later, it took years for me to begin to recall anything that transpired between those two events --- and even then only a smattering of coming-and-going fleeting glimpses. However, there is one thing my grandmother said I told her right after she picked me up from the sheriff, and of which other than her telling me, I do not remember. She said when she asked how in the world I ever ended up so far out in the middle of the desert, especially all alone, I told her I got out of bed while it was still dark, and all by myself, walked up to the hill behind my aunt's house. There I climbed up to the top of the highest boulder I could find and stood there. I told her while standing on the boulder a huge bird as dark as the night sky and as big as I was or bigger, landed on the rock just opposite me. I got scared and turned to leave. Just as I began to move the bird swooped down and picked me up.
My grandmother scoffed at the story figuring it was either the run-away imagination and ramblings of a little kid or I was recalling some sort of dream or hallucination. However, I told her one more thing as part of the story. Before I got up and left my aunt's house I had been put into the room of one of my cousins. Following the events of that night my girl cousin would not leave the side of her mother so, unconscious as I was I was put into her room. Her bed was covered with stuffed animals and dolls of which there was a matched set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. When I left her room in the middle of the night I apparently took the Andy doll with me, something my cousin noticed missing almost right away when things for her returned closer to some sort of normalcy. Of course no one knew what happened to it and in all the searching nobody was able to find it no matter where they looked. My grandmother, after learning I carried the doll with me when I left my cousin's room asked what I had done with it. I told her I had dropped it on the mountain (i.e., the boulders up and behind my aunt's house) when the bird took me.
While it may be quite reasonable for any person to identify totally with my grandmother's feelings that what I recounted regarding a giant bird was either the run-away imagination and ramblings of a little kid or I was recalling some sort of dream or hallucination, it should be noted what happened many, many months later when my boy cousin was playing, as he often did, in a fort he had built in the same rocks and boulders up behind his house. In the process of his playing, way down between the crevasse of some of the boulders, he found the long missing Andy doll of my girl cousin. The exact same Andy doll that I told my grandmother I had with me and dropped the night I wandered away from the house.
HOW BIG, COULD THEY FLY?
THE BOY AND THE GIANT FEATHER
THE HINDU MANSERVANT KASEEM
In regards to the incident that happened one day when I was around ten or twelve years old between a man from India and myself who recognized me as having been there --- the first I had ever personally heard of such a thing as all the time with my uncle, even though he had letters from my father confirming such, he failed to ever mention it --- I present the following:
My Uncle was a notorious mushroom hunter and bio-searcher from the desert southwest. He had field searched hundreds if not thousands of plants, herbs, and mushrooms, even to the point of having several previously undiscovered species named after him. In the process he became familiar with many sacred, medicinal, and hallucinogenic plants, even to the point of partaking in some. One day when I was around ten years old we went to a smoke shop inorder for him to obtain bidis, a handmade country cigarette from India that usually contains a small amount of, it is said, Sacred Datura. Because the cigarettes were questionable as to their legality, the proprietor, who knew my uncle, took us into a back room to conduct business. Several men of Indian descent were doing whatever men do when they hang around in the back room of a smoke shop. One of the men stared at me for quite some time, then went and got a woman that was working the counter in the front of the shop. They talked and pointed at me for a long while from the doorway that separated the front from the back. Then the man walked over and asked my uncle if I had ever been to India. My uncle, only knowing I had been to India through the letters from my father, but NOT knowing where I had been, what I had done, or who I had met, nodded yes that I had been to India, but wanted to know why he asked (the contents of the letters regarding me being in India were devoid of any specific information because my father had not been a fully notified recipient of such information, due to I would guess, the undue nature behind me being there with the couple in the first place). The man said he had not seen very many young white boys traveling in India and was sure he and his wife recognized me as having been on a train in southern India several years before and even told my uncle the name of the town the train was either traveling to or from.
Because I could not recall anything about India in the first place, the incident slipped from my mind as well as that of the name of the town, mostly because I couldn't even say it. Several years later found me in high school and working part time in a small mom and pop restaurant called Fred and Liz's. Fred had been a cook in the Navy during World War II. Somewhere along the way he met and married a woman from India that he and everybody called Liz. One day a minor actor by the name of Norman (sometimes Dean) Fredericks stopped by the restaurant. Fredericks played the role of the Hindu manservant Kaseem in the then running TV series Jungle Jim. Even though Fredericks was not of Indian descent, Liz fawned all over him. Later, although I couldn't remember one thing about being in India, but thinking it might help me score points with the boss's wife, I told Liz, unlike the actor, I had been there. When she questioned me as to where, dredging up the only thing I could think of the man from the smoke shop said --- remembered only because at the time, as a kid, I not only owned a Lionel electric train set I had also ridden in the cab of a 6000 horsepower 4-8-8-2 Cab Forward, both of which sparked a general interest in learning about trains --- was "meter gauge railroad," which meant nothing to Liz, India-wise, or me either really.(see) I got in touch with my father and asked if the next time he talked to his brother, my uncle, to ask the name of the place in India the man in the smoke shop said he had seen me. A few weeks later my dad told me he had talked to my uncle by phone. Then handed me a slip of paper with the name of the town in India written on it: Tiruvannamalai.
She pleaded with Sri Bhagavan, "Swami, please release my son! He is our only child. We will be miserable without him." Sri Bhagavan smiled at her and said, "Release him? I am not keeping him tied up."
To the outside observer the couple and myself appeared to be a regular family. Not having the full set of facts, it is even written as such by C.R. Rajamani in the version of the article titled Awakens the Child of Theosophists --- with some reservations on his part I might add (see below). Ramana, however, through his insight, knew the couple I was traveling with were not my parents. At the time the couple took me, which, after a short time, turned out to be not much less than an abduction, my father was practically at his wits end over my mother's worsening condition. Right or wrong, he just didn't have the strength or will to concentrate on much else. The Australian couple was childless and saw a chance by taking advantage of my father's weakened state. Before he or anyone could act I was gone.
The couple lived in the U.S. for the most part and were avid followers of cult-like sect called the Theosophical Society. It was founded by one Madame H. P. Blavatsky in New York City in 1875. By 1882 the Society moved its headquarters to Adyar near Madras, India. Hence the couple's interest in and traveling to India.
The Society was into seance and mediumship and the main impetus the couple was so heavily attracted to my mother and her deep trance-like behaviors --- albeit unknown to them or anybody else at the time, tumor induced. As time went on and it became clear she was in a chronic state of total physical collapse it is my speculation the couple turned their interest toward the boys because of the potential possibility of similar abilities among one of us. I speculate as well I was selected out of the three brothers because they could tell my older brother and father had a strong personal bond and my younger brother was just that, young.
When the woman of the couple pleaded with Ramana to "release her son," that the boy was their "only child" Ramana knew I wasn't theirs at all. That is the reason Ramana replied with, "Release him? I am not keeping him tied up." What Ramana was insinuating was that it was them, the couple, that needed to do the releasing and it was them that was keeping me "tied up" (i.e., unable to return home or to my family because of them). It had nothing to do with Ramana or any sort of a power he held. For me I would guess, the Ramana ashram and the environment was a safe haven, a place, that if I couldn't be with my real mother and father at least I would be there of my own choosing.
As to C.R. Rajamani's observations, he writes:
I saw a white-skinned boy, a foreigner, of about ten years sitting a couple of feet to my left. Next to him was a white man, presumably his father. Further to my left, beyond the central aisle, was a white woman, whom I thought was the boy's mother.
Rajamani was not an interview reporter. He was a Ramana adherent visiting and meditating in the ashram who presented through his writings what he saw through personal observations --- most probably garnered from a distant and written sometime after the fact. Please note his speculative use and emphasis on "PRESUMABLY the boy's father" and "I THOUGHT she was the boy's mother." Presumed and thought, not knew. It could be that in the process of just being at the ashram he became aware there was a chance that I was not only NOT the couple's child, but possibly even kidnapped. Kidnapped is a strong word and was not truly applicable to my situation. However, in splitting hairs one way or the other, it is my guess Rajamani, rather than bring harm down on the ashram, and not seeing any abuse or misconduct on the couple's part, he just let it go, hence his use of "presumably" and "thought" in what he wrote.
He is correct about the "foreigner" aspect. However, he runs afoul in his designation as to me being of Australian descent. From the couple's accent Rajamani may have subjectively tagged the two of them as being from Australia, and thus then, assumed the boy (i.e., me) was too. Such was not the case. He is equally off base with his assessment of the my age, me being closer to half his guess. Rajamani also writes that the couple was in India for the Theosophical Society's world convention which is, he said, usually held at their international headquarters at Adyar, Madras in December-January and is no doubt accurate if such is the case. Even if the couple was not there for a convention, one way or the other the December-January timing is right for them to have been at the ashram. The Maharshi was insistant on me "beating the clock home." However, because of the length of time it took to cover the distance from India to the west coast of the U.S. traveling by train and ship in those days, added to the fact the couple most likely had no pressing need to comply other than to cooperate with the Maharshi, I didn't make it. By the time I got home my mother had already passed away, having died the day before Valentine's Day or thereabouts, I say thereabouts because there are discrepancies between various records, official and otherwise, and the date on her headstone.
In the above main text I make mention of the woman of the couple writing a letter and mentioning a lifeboat she saw on our voyage home followed by a click through link at the end of the paragraph. If you have not accessed that link and interested in more clarification as to the dates of being in India, at the ashram, departure, and arrival back in the states, etc., click HERE.
Many years later, during the summer just prior to starting my first year in high school, my uncle decided to go to France and asked me to join him. His reasoning for doing so, however adventurous for me or however lofty or shortsighted of him, is summed up in the quote below as found in the source as cited:
"(My uncle's intention) was for me to meet the smartest man in the world, the greatest artist in America, then the greatest artist in the world. In those days the three were, at least as far a my uncle was concerned, none other than Albert Einstein, Jackson Pollock, and Pablo Picasso. My uncle knew the first two himself so he was able to set those meetings somewhat easily. Jackson Pollock coming down from his studio on Long Island to the city after a one man show in Paris and the finishing of his last action painting ever. Albert Einstein, along some lake one afternoon while we watched a rowing team practice. The meeting with Picasso never happened. My dad ending the trip before we got the chance to go to Europe." (source)
As you can see, because of my dad's intervention and for reasons cited elsewhere, I never made it to France that summer nor meet Picasso. My uncle and I did go through the whole process to do so, that is, get shots, passports, and visas. Some years later, needing a passport for my own trip abroad and intending to just renew my old passport, I wrote my uncle as to what happened to it and a few weeks later he sent it to me.
Eighteen years passed between the last time I saw my uncle that summer just before high school and we actually met again in the flesh. After that, up until his death, we met many times. One day in casual conversation the question of my passport came up. He told me how fortunate I was that he had done all the leg work to get me a passport because mistakenly as it turned out, when he decided to take me to France, since I had been out of the country he thought I already had one. Such was not the case. At least not a U.S. passport. He said to get out of the hole he dug himself into after telling the passport folk that I had been to India --- and still get me a passport --- he had to do what he called "an awful lot of fast talking and foot shuffling."
Apparently the couple, after arriving in New York City and not wanting to return me to the west coast because my immediate family had disintegrated, plus I guess, possibly face any potential wrath from remaining family members that knew about the situation and or who may have misinterpreted their intentions, took it upon themselves to just dump me off unannounced at my grandmother's house on my dad's side in a small little town located in the lower southeast corner of Pennsylvania --- a grandmother who I had never met in my life nor ever even heard about.
Before going to India it seemed that no matter what, the couple wanted me. After being there it was as if they could not get rid of me fast enough. For the most part, it seemed, as the very young boy that I was, I was fortunate they just didn't abandon me somewhere along the way. In the last of the three letters from India where I mention it was mostly about bringing me home they intimated, without trying to scare my dad, as if something was wrong with me, that something happened like I was sick. They wrote that I kept saying things like I could see but that there was no me, that it seemed like the whole back of my head was gone but I could still feel it with my hands, that I was both dirt (earth) and sky.
Then somehow, after returning to the States and being left with my grandmother on my father's side in Pennsylvania, my uncle told me, and he didn't remember how or how long it took, I was returned to California to be with my grandmother on my mother's side --- but NOT by the couple. They basically disappeared after Pennsylvania and to my knowledge never heard from again.
Interestingly enough, well after the need for my own passport, when my uncle returned east following the death of his mother and he was going through her personal effects he came across a few things in a small box that related to me that I must have left behind and she inturn saved (I was the only grandkid of her three children she ever met). Included with the items were some travel papers, ticket stubs, a Captain Midnight decoder badge, and a passport. Prominently displayed on the photo page was a picture of me with the woman of the couple --- listed as her son.(see) Here was my grandmother on my father's side, with me claiming to be her grandson and me being the ONLY grandchild-offspring from ANY of her three sons she ever met, ironically keeping all those years stored away amongst her treasures, a passport saying I was instead, the son of some man and woman she never heard of.
AND NOW THIS:
In Footnote  above, speaking of C.R. Rajamani in regards to what he has layed out in his article Awakens the Child of Theosophists, I write:
"Rajamani was not an interview reporter. He was a Ramana adherent visiting and meditating in the ashram who presented through his writings what he saw through personal observations --- most probably garnered from a distant and written sometime after the fact."
There is basically a twofold reason I suggest that what he wrote was "most probably garnered from a distant and written sometime after the fact," both reasons emanating from what is presented in his article by his own hand or that of a no doubt close surrogate.
First, in the preface paragraph to his article you find written that Rajamani "presented the following talk at the April 25, 1998 Aradhana program at Arunachala Ashrama in New York City." Even though for us on the internet we are privy to a written version of his talk in article form, it appears it was originally designed as a speech to be given, which it apparently was, before a group of people attending the 1998 Aradhana program at Arunachala Ashrama in New York. From there it is presumed it was thus then transcribed into article form.(see)
Rajamani starts out right away saying he was at the ashram in his early twenties and that he had been a devotee of Sri Ramana for over 55 years. He also says, in relation to the event that transpired between the Maharshi and the young boy, that the event was "still fresh in (his) memory." The conclusion I draw from his comments is that the contents of his article were NOT written on the scene in the 1940s, but possibly recalled some fifty or sixty years later specifically for the year 1998 Aradhana program.
Secondly, Rajamani has provided us with a couple of statements such as "I am not certain about the date or the month of my visit; it may have been December or January," as well as, as I have mentioned in the Footnote: seeing a a white-skinned boy, a foreigner, and next to him "a white man, presumably his father" and beyond the central aisle "a white woman, whom he thought was the boy's mother." The first quote is a little cloudy or ambiguous which inturn casts some suspicion on anything else he may or may not remember. The second quote sort of confirms what he knows or doesn't know (i.e., the white man was presumably his father; the white woman was thought to be his mother --- presumably and thought, not known). Tweaking any of Rajamani's potential observational skills toward his behalf however, in those days any paired male and female traveling together would be separated in the meditation hall as a matter of tradition anyway, as men always sat on one side of the hall, women at the other (i.e., "and beyond the central aisle a white woman"). Except possibly in the man and woman's case of being white, unless they were seen on the ashram grounds together for example, a couple as a couple could easily be missed.
Continuing, if any of you have read any of the stuff I write, you will find I am guilty of much of the same transgressions with what I write as with what Rajamani seems to be with what he writes. There is a reason. Basically, and quite simply put, it is because as life unfolded and went along at it's usual and natural pace, at least for me, I never thought about it one way or the other OR that any of it would ever amount to anything or need to be recorded for posterity. I could be off base here, but as I read his material, at least with the article, I pretty much think that that is the case with what Rajamani has presented.
My observations surely are not meant to be derogatory nor to undermine or impugn anything that Rajamani says in his overall thesis. I ONLY bring it up to fill in the holes as it were, and substantiate as factual my side of the story. There are some things he could not or would not know. To wit:
Rajamani cited the couple as being Australian and thus then by default, the boy with the couple being Australian. Of course, such was not the case. It may be even that it was only the man of the couple that was Australian, with the woman actually being American. My suspicions are such because of the passport situation as told to me by my uncle. I never saw the passport in question, but he stated he had seen a passport with a picture of the woman and myself among the things he found at his mother's following his mother's death. Although the couple left me at my grandmother's, how or why the woman's passport itself would fall into the hands of my grandmother on my father's side in Pennsylvania for any reason at all is not clear. However, if the woman was American and stayed in America she might not need one. Also, if she did need a passport and she was pictured with a son and no son was evident, that could cause a problem. As well, if she was Australian or an American traveling with her Australian husband she may have had a second passport --- an Australian one without a picture of a boy.
AWAKENS THE CHILD OF THEOSOPHISTS
Every now and then someone comes forward and takes issue with --- or opines --- that Ramana would NOT have had, from his highly Enlightened state, as nearly a vested interest in MY overall well being relative to my REAL family at the level, or any level for that fact, as I have put forth in the above (i.e., Ramana's concern with my return home, real mother, etc.).
Sri Ramana was Awakened to the Absolute following what has been called his First Death Experience at age 17. Most people take it from there that he was thus then a fully Enlightened being and that was it, moving to the caves of the holy hill Arunachala then to his ashram in later years, eventually becoming the sage he came to be known by all.
However, what most people don't realize is that some fifteen years following that initial death experience, in 1912 at age 32, Ramana had a little known and little talked about Second Death Experience. That second death experience, even though Ramana was known and admired as a fully Enlightened being, did however, even though fully Enlightened --- and this may seem an oxymoron --- modifiy his long standing approach to obscurity and life. Ramana's second death experience seemingly opened the door for or an embracing of family and outsiders that previously had not manifested itself in Ramana's previous outward actions. To wit:
This new experience may not have upstaged his previous realization (but) it did serve to reintegrate him with his bodily vehicle and with life.
After this he was more at ease in everyday circumstances, and began to increasingly associate with those seekers who gathered around him.
As time plays out you can see the difference between Ramana's first death experience and his later 1912 second expericence. Within weeks of Ramana's arrival in Tiruvannamalai his mother and her oldest son visited Ramana and tried to convince Ramana to return home, all to no avail. Sometime shortly thereafter Ramana went up the hill to live in Virupaksa Cave. He stayed there sixteen years (1899-1916), then moved to Skandasramam Cave, a little higher up the hill (1916-1922).
Soon after Ramana's mother return home her eldest son died. Two years later, Ramana's younger brother, Nagasundaram, paid a brief visit. Ramana's mother visited a second time then a third. During the third visit she fell ill for several weeks with symptoms of typhoid. Ramana himself nursed her back to health and she returned home.
Not long after her return from that third trip, the wife of her youngest son died. Following the death of her son's wife, early in 1916, a mutual decision was made between mother and son to join Ramana in Tiruvannamalai, she resolving to spend the rest of her life with Ramana. In the process, after arrival, she received intense spiritual training, donned the ochre robe, and took charge of the Ashrama kitchen. Ramana's younger brother became a sannyasin taking the name Niranjanananda, albeit affectionately called among Ramana devotees Chinnaswami (the Younger Swami).
In 1920 the health of Ramana's mother began to deteriorate. For two years Ramana tended her with care and affection, spending many sleepless nights sitting up with her. She died on May 19, 1922. Her body was taken down the hill and interred. While the ceremonies were being performed, Ramana himself stood silently looking on. Chinnaswami took up residence near the tomb and Ramana, who continued to remain at Skandasramam, visited the tomb daily. Then, about six months after his mother's death, Ramana came down from the caves where he had lived those twenty plus years one last time --- to STAY at the tomb with her, and in doing so, the Ramana Ashram was born, being built from the ground up around him.
Here is Ramana, fully and totally Awakened to the Absolute, spending sleepless nights sitting up with his sick mother. Then when she died, moving down from his caves, this after over twenty years, to be near her tomb. Little wonder he might manifest some concern over my plight.
It is well known from a long verbal history of followers and eyewitnesses, as well as for example from a number of highly valid and respected writers and authors such as Sri Ramana adherent David Godman, that in the last 54 years of his life Ramana NEVER traveled more than a mile and a half away from the base of his holy hill, Arunachala --- that is, traveled via what most would consider "in the traditional sense." Even so, he did have several fully conscious and fully recorded bilocation experiences he rarely discussed wherein he was translocated from his ashram in a matter of minutes to devotees many, many miles away.
Translocation or bilocation notwithstanding, throughout his life, especially so to outsiders, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi never exhibited the slightest interest in the instrument or method of use behind such experiences, namely Siddhis, occult abilities, or psychic powers. His personal belief was that a Realized person may not necessarily have Siddhis initially, but may later seek or acquire them after realization (i.e., Queen Chudala in the Yoga Vasishtha). He also said that some Realized persons need not have any siddhis.
In one of Ramana's most well documented bilocation experiences --- and the most interesting --- Ramana biographer Arthur Osborne writes in Ramana Maharshi And The Path of Self-Knowledge (York Beach: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995, pages 96-97):
"One day, some years ago, I (Sri Ramana) was lying down and awake when I distinctly felt my body rise higher and higher. I could see the physical objects below growing smaller and smaller until they disappeared and all around me was a limitless expanse of dazzling light. After some time I felt the body slowly descend and the physical objects below began to appear. I was so fully aware of this incident that I finally concluded that it must be by such means that Sages using the powers of Siddhis travel over vast distances in a short time and Appear and Disappear in such a mysterious manner. While the body thus descended to the ground it occurred to me that I was at Tiruvottiyur though I had never seen the place before. I found myself on a highroad and walked along it. At some distance from the roadside was a temple of Ganapati and I entered it."
The reason I say the above translocation experience is the most interesting in regards to Ramana --- and to that of other bilocation or translocation experiences --- is because not only was it documented on Ramana's side, it was also documented by the person on the receiving end of the translocation, Ganapati Muni . Osborne writes:
"About a year after his first meeting with Sri Bhagavan, Ganapathi Muni experienced a remarkable outflow of his Grace. While he was sitting in meditation in the temple of Ganapati at Tiruvottiyur he felt distracted and longed intensely for the presence and guidance of the Bhagavan. At that moment Sri Ramana entered the temple. Ganapati prostrated himself before him and, as he was about to rise, he felt the Maharshi's hand upon his head and a terrifically vital force coursing through his body from the touch; so that he also received Grace by touch from the Master."
Besides Ganapati Muni, the second most noted personage known to have experienced a translocation experience between Sri Ramana Maharshi and themself was the Indian spiritual teacher and guru Sri H. W. L. Poonja (1910-1997), AKA Poonjaji or Papaji. Poonja is considered within religious circles as having been one of the foremost disciples, devotees, followers or advocates of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and his principles. So said, Poonja, who became a master in his own right, is considered to have been the real thing. So too, he was not some mystic saint in some far off place masked in ancient lore either, but a modern day personage that forthrightly reported his own 1944 personal experience involving translocation between himself and Sri Ramana. Poonja says:
"(A) sadhu appeared at our door, asking for food. I invited him in, offered him some food and asked him the question that was uppermost in my mind. ‘Can you show me God? If not, do you know of anyone who can?
"Much to my surprise, he gave me a positive answer. ‘Yes, I know a person who can show you God. If you go and see that man, everything will be all right for you. His name is Ramana Maharshi."
The sadhu went on to give Poonja detailed directions on how to get to the Ramana ashram clear across the country in the south of India, such as what trains to take, where to change trains, what stations to go to, etc., which, when Poonja followed them, they were accurate down to the letter.
As soon as he arrived at the ashram and settled in he took off across the compound to look for the man who could show him God. When he got to the meditation hall and looked in he saw, sitting on a sofa, the SAME man who had visited his house in the Punjab. Poonja again:
"I was disgusted. 'This man is a fraud,' I said to myself. 'He appears in my house in the Punjab, tells me to go to Tiruvannamalai, then hops on the train so that he can get there before me.' I was so annoyed with him I decided that I wouldn’t even go into the hall where he was sitting. Mentally adding him to the long list of frauds I had met on my first pilgrimage round India, I turned on my heels and went off to collect my bags."
A long time Ramana devotee interceded in Poonja's potential departure, telling him, in an effort to convince him to stay:
"(Sri Ramana) has not moved out of this town in the last forty-eight years. It is either a case of mistaken identity or somehow, through his power, he managed to manifest himself in the Punjab while his physical body was still here."
Of course, as it turned out, Poonja was right in his ability to discern that the man in his house that evening and the man on the sofa in the meditation hall WAS Sri Ramana.(see)
Other examples of bilocation experiences between Ramana and devotees include those of Paul Brunton and Robert Adams. Brunton had numerous visitations by Sri Ramana similar to the experiences described by Ramana in relation to Ganapathi Muni. Nearly all of Brunton's experiences occurred in England thousands of miles from the ashram, with the last occurring some fifteen months AFTER the holy man's physical death in 1950. The sage appeared before him and told him that they had to part. Brunton experienced no further similar visions after that.
In a biography of sorts of Adams by a former student, friend, and person in his own right, Edward Muzika, it is written that by age seven Adams, who lived in the United States at the time --- again thousands and thousands of miles away from the ashram --- was experiencing Siddhis that involved Ramana. According to Muzika, on more than one occasion, Adams, in his pre-teen years, was confronted by a man with white hair and white beard that "spoke to him in a language he could not understand." Muzika, speaking of Adams, goes on to say:
Years later, after his awakening experience, he was looking through a book on the teachings of Ramana Maharshi when he saw that sage’s picture. "I was shocked!" he said, "The hair on my head and neck stood straight up. The little man who had lectured me all those years was Ramana!"
In another thousands of miles away example of Awakening in both time and place, Lee Lozowick, also an American (1943-2010), has said that the spiritual heir to Swami Ramdas, the venerated Indian holy man Yogi Ramsuratkumar, was the source of his Awakening --- an Awakening that occurred at least ONE FULL YEAR BEFORE he ever met the yogi in the flesh in the first place. In an interview Lozowick was asked how it could be possible that someone would be the source of somebody else's Awakening that occurred before they ever met? Lozowick responded with:
"Well, to a spiritual master there's no such thing as the past, the present or the future. To us everything happens very linearly. In 1975 this shift of context happened for me. In 1976 I met Yogi Ramsuratkumar (i.e., for the first time). In 1983 I really dedicated myself to him as my teacher. But to him when Jesus was born might be fifty years in the future. And some person that to us hasn't even been born yet, to him is like a living, breathing presence. Time is completely malleable. So for a master like Yogi Ramsuratkumar the past, the present and the future are completely interchangeable, and he can shift them around at his will. I can't describe that according to a law of physics although I'm sure that's possible. But that's how it is."
Translocation and bilocation is not a phenomenon exclusively relegated to gurus in some far away eastern culture either. In a western sense, as it shows up in biblical tradition, Jesus, although it may not be presented as such to the common lay-person, was often disappearing and reappearing out of nowhere. Two of the most straight forward examples are found in Luke 24 and John 20. To wit, Jesus disappeared after talking with two disciples he met on the road to Emmaus only to reappear to a different group shortly after(Luke 24:31-36). He appeared to the disciples again in a room where the doors were closed, which implies he either walked through a wall or materialized basically out of nowhere in front of them (John 20:26). In John 14:12 Jesus made the assertion that WE could do the things he did saying, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also."
See: ABIDING IN THE SELF THERE IS NO SPACE-TIME
THE WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
THE LAMP AND THE LIGHT METAPHOR
As previously cited above:"An individual that knows Dharma can be compared to a lamp that lights up the darkness. One who is close will see clearly, while those further away will see less clearly. After a period of time the lamp's light may go out or be extinguished, but then, from time to time, the lamp will be relit, again providing illumination." (source)
In things spiritual the lamp is truly an ancient symbol, cited by many as going back to, or possibly even before, the parting words of the Buddha: "Be a lamp unto thyself" --- the basis for the Ch'an idea of the Transmission of the Lamp.
In the Platform Sutra the relationship between Ch'an and Wisdom is explained in terms of the "lamp-and-light" metaphor. It is comparable to the lamp and the light that it gives forth. If there is lamp, there is light. If there is light, there is lamp. The lamp is the substance, t'i, of the light. The light is the function, yung, of the lamp. Although in name two, in substance they are not two. In Chapter IV, Samadhi and Prajna, of the Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, Hui Neng, is quoted as saying:
"Learned Audience, to what are Samadhi and Prajna analogous? They are analogous to a lamp and its light. With the lamp, there is light. Without it, it would be darkness. The lamp is the quintessence of the light and the light is the expression of the lamp. In name they are two things, but in substance they are one and the same. It is the same case with Samadhi and Prajna."
The substance-function, t'i-yung, logic was present already in the "water-and-wave" metaphor in the Awakening of Faith. The nonduality of the rays of the sun from the sun has been spoken of by the Lankavatara Sutra. In the Platform Sutra, however, the "lamp-and-light" imagery is used to show Ch'an as both the means and the end. The mind is luminous and all illuminating. Enlightenment is only the mind (lamp) allowed to shine forth by itself (light). The mind is none other than its own Enlightenment. (Shen-hsiu)
In a somewhat further clarification of the light lamp analogy, but closer to those as seen in layman's terms, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana's first western disciple Frank H. Humphreys, writes:
"Take a piece of glass, paint colours and forms on it, and put into a magic lantern, turn on a white light, and the colours and forms painted on the glass are reproduced on the screen. If that light were not turned on, you would not see the colours of the slide on the screen.
"So is it with an ordinary man. His mind is like the screen. On it shines the light, dulled and changed because he has allowed the many-sided world to stand in the way of the Light (God). He sees only the effects of Light (God) instead of the Light (God), and his mind reflects the effects he sees just as the screen reflects the colours on the glass. Take away the prism and the colours vanish, absorbed back into the white light from whence they came. Take away the colours from the slide and the light shines clearly through. Take away our sight the world of effects we see, and let us look only into the causes, and we shall see the Light (God)."
BEING UNDER BRITISH POST
THE CENSORSHIP OF PERSONAL AND PRIVATE LETTERS DURING WORLD WAR II:
Now, while it is true there were in place a number of strict, official and theoretically unbending rules and sanctions regarding the necessity of opening, reading, and censoring of ALL mail during the period, both domestic and overseas, as the war wore on and the allies began to strengthen their positions with an ever apparent possibility of an outright win and ending of the hostilities, the strict enforcement of censored mail began to wane. So too, local areas, districts, and country facilities designed specifically to read and censor mail approached their duties with a varying amount of discretion. The following quote from the era in question, albeit presented from a much larger context regarding the censorship of mail during World War II, seems to present the general prevailing mood. Speaking to a rather long statement regarding censorship, the author, a onetime official within the system, offers the following:
"(This is the statement that would) seem to make OFFICIAL the censorship of domestic mail --- as well as remedy the inadequacies of random sampling as a censorship technique. But, opening all mail is surely not a practicable procedure, and indeed, the evidence is that this was not the practice. The censors must quickly have abandoned that goal in favor of the kind of profiling that would single out possibly suspicious items from the mainstream of commercial and routine correspondence."
I have no excessive over concern or personal vested interest in how efficient censorship was or was not. My only interest initially was to learn why, then point out that it was not totally impossible or out of the question for letters of any kind, the ones to my father or anybody else, to slip through the censorship process unopened. If the letters had been opened by any means I would not have known if it had been done by censors and censors only, by my father, by both, or by the hands of others. In the fact that all three letters had NEVER been opened after they were posted means that NOBODY had ever been privy to the contents of the information inside until I read them.
There is one very mysterious caveat to this whole "postmarked letters from India" thing, which for me has remained unclear to this day. In with the letters written by my father and found by my cousin was a large unopened manila envelope addressed to the home address where my family was living while my mother was still alive. The envelope was postmarked from the Pennsylvania town my grandmother on my father's side lived, intimating, because it had been postmarked --- and the fact that my cousin had it --- that the envelope had been mailed from Pennsylvania alright, but must NOT have been received by someone on the California end. My cousin, in first finding the large envelope in with all the other the letters and able to feel something inside, and hoping it might be money, opened it. What he found was the three letters from India.
It is my contention that after my grandmother on my father's side received the letters from India, in that they were addressed to my father, upon collecting the three of them, she simply placed them unopened in the large envelope and mailed them off to my family home in California. The envelope apparently arrived sometime after my mother's death, we moved, and my father disappeared. It was then most likely routinely "returned to sender" via the post office, only later to be found by my uncle when he traveled to Pennsylvania upon the death of his mother. The reason the large manila envelope raises concerns is because when my cousin found it, it too, had NOT been opened. Most likely what happened was when the envelope was returned to my grandmother, she knowing what was in it because she was the one who sent it, simply threw it into her junk without any need to open it, possibly thinking she would give it to my dad when she saw him. When he never showed up, having the large envelope must have slipped from her mind and she just forgot about it. Then upon her death, after finding the unopened large envelope addressed to my dad, my uncle must have passed it along to him, and of which, even then he never opened it or read the letters, only to end up in the trunk I delivered to my uncle in July, 1972.(see)
I am unable to confirm all of the above because my cousin, after opening the envelope cut out the section with the stamps thinking they might be of some value, then disposed of the envelope. The section with the stamps had a postmark alright, but no sign of a "return to sender" imprint which must have been somewhere on the main body of the envelope. If you haven't done so already from one of the earlier footnotes, please see:
WHERE ARE THE LETTERS NOW?
For additional insight into the letters and what happened to them and where they are now, especially so the three letters from India, please see:
THE LIVERPOOL LETTERS
Can a person truly be Awakened in a single sitting as the following from above, as quoted below, seems to intimate:
"Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness."
The following quote is from the words of Sri Ramana Maharshi as found in "Silent Teachings & Sat-sanga." Although the paragraph does not address instantaneous or quickness in the Awakening process, which I get into further down, it does address the mere sitting in front of the guru as an avenue toward that process:
This flow of power from the Guru can be received by anyone whose attention is focused on the Self or on the form of the Guru; distance is no impediment to its efficacy. This attention is often called Sat-sanga, which literally means ‘association with being’. Sri Ramana wholeheartedly encouraged this practice and frequently said that it was the most efficient way of bringing about a direct experience of the Self. Traditionally it involves being in the physical presence of one who has realized the Self, but Sri Ramana gave it a much wider definition. He said that the most important element in Sat-sang was the mental connection with the Guru; Sat-sang takes place not only in his presence but whenever and wherever one thinks of him.(source)
According to Ramana's quotes above, if ignorance is wiped out the confusion will cease to exist and the true knowledge will be unfolded. By remaining in contact with realized sages (i.e., sitting before Ramana for example) until its removal is completed, be it quick or gradual, the Eternal Self is revealed. See Zen and the Transmission of Spiritual Power, especially the section on Aparka Marg, a method in which Realization FALLS upon the Self.
In an interview with Ram (James Swartz) conducted by John Howells in January 2003, at Tiruvannamalai, South India, Howells asks about the idea that Ramana taught in silence, that all you had to do was to sit in his presence and the silence would Enlighten you. Ram responds with:
"I suppose that if you were completely qualified, absolutely ready to pop, you could just sit in the presence of someone like Ramana and maybe figure out that you are whole and complete limitless awareness. But this is highly unlikely. People spend years around such people ‘sitting in silence, enjoying the ‘energy’ but don’t become enlightened. Usually people who are highly qualified only have one or two very subtle doubts separating themselves from jnanam, Self knowledge. And usually they already know the answer… they just don’t have one hundred percent confidence in it. Experientially they have everything they need and all that is missing is the knowledge of who they actually are. So when they offer their ignorance to a sage like Ramana, who is an authority and for whom they have respect and devotion, he can, with a few very well chosen words, remove their ignorance. Sometimes the person puts the question and gives the answer and the teacher just nods…and that is it. Or sometimes the teacher just asks a question in response to the student’s statement and the student understands…without giving a verbal answer."
Swartz's comment "absolutely ready to pop" parallels the "mind being ripe" comment I use over and over in my works. They mean the same thing. It does not matter how much you have studied, how much you know or do not know, or how old or young you are, if your mind is not ripe or ready to pop then it is NOT going to happen.
In the early stages of Chapter I of the Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, Hui Neng, Hui Neng, offers us the following of how, as a very young boy out selling firewood one day --- with no known previous indepth spiritual training or religious background --- his Enlightenment came about:
"I was selling firewood in the market one day, when one of my customers ordered some to be brought to his shop. Upon delivery being made and payment received, I left the shop, outside of which I found a man reciting a sutra. As soon as I heard the text of this sutra my mind at once became Enlightened."
Prior to the Indian holy man Ramakrishna reaching Attainment, he was approached by the Digambara Monk Totapuri with the proposal that he receive initiation into Advaita Vedanta. When Ramakrishna, a follower of Mother Kali --- thinking to do so required concentrating deeply on the Goddess --- the austere naked monk Totapuri took a sharp stone and pressed it firmly against Ramakrishna's forehead. Totapuri then instructed him to concentrate on the pain, assuring him that he could transcend the divine form and merge into the infinite expanse of the Absolute. Once more, Ramakrishna meditated and, "with the sword of wisdom," cut through the divine form of Kali. Her form dissolved and his individuality completely disappeared. For three days Ramakrishna was completely lost to the world in a near state of suspended animation called Nirodha, all breathing and body functions slowed to a standstill.
Totapuri was amazed, because, like the Buddha's brother or cousin Ananda, Totapuri had practiced for forty years to achieve the same level of experience --- Nirvikalpa Samadhi --- the disappearance of individual identity in the Absolute. It occurred to Ramakrishna in a single sitting.
Coming Home, the Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions
Larson Publications, Lex Hixon, 1995
1942-1944 CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph
The Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph called the Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph found amongst the stuff in the house of my grandmother on my father's side, was distributed during the war years 1942-1944. Because of the metal shortage it was produced with enough overproduction early on so the same design could continually be issued throughout the war without the necessity of a new design created yearly as initially intended. The design allowed the owner to insert a photo of themself in a small open square at the top of the badge, replacing the photo of Captain Midnight that came with it. The idea for doing so was to create a personalized identification badge like those used in defense plants of the era. Once the picture of Captain Midnight was removed and the owner substituted it with a picture of their own, they were supposed to push down the four metal tabs at each of the corners so it could not be removed. The decoder badge found with the passport at my grandmother's had a photo of me as a young boy inserted in the square.
The Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph played an ever larger continuing role throughout my life, from childhood right on into adulthood, especially so after my brother inadvertently sent the one I owned as a kid to me while I was in the Army. See:
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
At one time it was not uncommon for a parent's passport to include the names and photos of his or her child or children. These "family passports" allowed a child or children to travel together with one or the other of both of their parents without the need to issue an individual passport to each child. Family passports were not valid for children to travel by themselves or, theoretically, with someone other than their parent. The United States, the United Kingdom, India and other various onetime British Commonwealth countries once issued family passports, but no longer do so.
"ONE PASSPORT, ONE PERSON" CONCEPT
In order to continue, I'm going to have to jump forward in time to the present. Most of what I have come to know about the incident with the old man in the desert I have garnered much later in life from others and well after the fact.
On one of the days I was still under the care of the old man we left his place very early in the morning and drove in his jeep in what seemed to be half-way across the desert over what I recall as nothing more than a lot of barely paved roads, unpaved roads, rocks, boulders, and drywashes. Eventually we ended up at a sort of ramshackle desert mining encampment run by another old man. Up to that point the old man in the jeep did not seem concerned one way or the other about who I was or how I was going to get home. However, when we arrived at the mining camp the old man there was curious as to why the old man I was with was traveling around the desert with a young boy he knew nothing about. It was the old man at the encampment that eventually got me back together with my grandmother, an endeavor that was accomplished by the most unusual twist of fate imaginable.
With the passage of time I learned the old man at the encampment was named Walt Bickel. He had been prospecting, minining, and panning for gold up and down the Sierras and into the California and Nevada desert since his early twenties. The incredible coincidence to it all, and completely unrelated to me being taken to Bickel's encampment by the old man in the jeep, was that Bickel's original prospecting partner back in the old days when he first started out was MY father. When I first told Bickel my name it didn't seem to register one way or the other, nor in my mind or his was there any reason it should have. But, later in conversation, when I told him I liked "howdy beans" his jaw fell nearly to the floor. Apparently my dad was known up and down the old mining camps for a concoction he used to cook up called howdy beans. How it was told to me was, while other miners went to work their claims, on a rotating basis, one miner would stay back and cook grub and clean the camp. When it was my dad's turn he invariably made howdy beans because so many miners requested it. The concept of howdy beans was such an inside story that nobody but someone associated with the early mining camps would have known anything about them. When I told him that before my mother died my dad used to make howdy beans whenever we went camping, Bickel put two-and-two together --- I was the son of his old partner. From there things moved forward fairly quickly and I was soon reunited with my grandmother.
Although I never saw the old man in the jeep again after I was left off at the sheriff's office, nor did I ever learn his name or that of the woman he traveled with, I did see Walt Bickel on and off over the years well into my adulthood. Bickel told me he never really knew where the old man in the jeep lived, and, even though he dropped by on occasion he eventually quit showing up. Bickel figured the old man, like many aging prospectors he knew all over the desert, either got too old or poor to travel, and/or in a combination of both, simply died. For more on Walt Bickel and any relationship I may have had with him through my father from my youth to adulthood please see The Tree and:
The cousin in question was my first cousin, the only offspring and son of my uncle. He had been estranged from my uncle during the early years of his life having been raised almost exclusively by his mother until pushing around age 13 or 14 or so. It was about that time when he showed up in our lives, and why he did is not clear because, as it was, it was easy to tell he and his father were just not close. My cousin and my older brother were about the same age having been born only a few months apart. Since they were at least three years older than the next kid in our group (me) they used to run around together, most often to the rest of the kids exclusion --- unless of course, they needed someone to do their dirty work, take the blame, or front for them. The two were more like mutually beneficial adversaries than actual friends or buddies though. My cousin left when my uncle eventually had to leave, going back to New Mexico. He struck out on his own and at age 17, joined the air force spending most of his time in Germany before being transfered to Los Alamos --- where he ended up working as a civilian. In our younger days he played a major role, together with my older brother, uncle, and myself, in one of my early childhood adventures wherein he and my older brother hopped a train and ended up stranded 500 miles from home in Sacramento, California, with the two of them nearly beaten by a railroad bull. See:
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
Although it may be somewhat easier nowdays, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, especially for westerners uninitiated to Indian culture, getting back and forth to the Ramana ashram was not a simple task. Arriving by ship in Bombay then traversing the country by train to Tiruvannamalai does not leave a whole lot of options ONCE you get in the southern portions of the sub-continent. That is to say, if continuing to travel by train, after arriving in Madras, there really was no other option but to transfer from the broad gauge railroad across town to the metre gauge railroad at the Egmore Station in order to get to Tiruvannamalai. An example is found in the quote below FOOTNOTE: The Saint, so sourced at the end of the quote, relating William Somerset Maugham's travels in 1938 to see the Maharshi:
"In Maugham's case I think traveling period was a matter convenience, comfort, and for sure, first class. It isn't told how he got from the ship to Madras, nor is it mentioned how he returned from the ashram after meeting with the Maharshi. We are only told how he got there from Madras and what a rough trip it was. By whatever means he arrived in Madras, it was no doubt, first class. So too, he probably had prearranged departure reservations by train to see the Maharshi, leaving from the Egmore station in Madras on the metre gauge railroad, then switching trains in Villupuram and on to Tiruvannamalai."(source)
Several months after Maugham visited the ashram, as found at the same source as the above quote, American poet, playwright, novelist, and noted feminine seductress Mercedes DeAcosta, visited the ashram as well. However, after arriving in Madras by train she did not want to wait the time between her arrival and the departure of the next scheduled train to leave that would take her to Tiruvannamalai. She discovered as well, if she left immediately by car and traveled overnight she could even beat the train into Tiruvannamalai the next day by several hours --- so she did. In her book Here Lies the Heart DeAcosta wrote the following regarding that portion of her trip. Notice she states it was an 11 hour trip and she still beat the train:
"In Madras I hired a car and, so anxious was I to arrive in Tiruvannamalai that I did not go to bed and traveled by night, arriving about seven o'clock in the morning after driving almost eleven hours. I was very tired as I got out of the car in a small square in front of the temple. The driver explained that he could take me no further as there was no road up the hill where Bhagavan could be found."
Madras, now named Chennai, is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the same southern Indian state inwhich the Ramana ashram is located. It has two railway stations, Chennai Central and across town, Egmore Station. Chennai Central is the larger of the two and runs on broad gauge, connecting with all the major cities and towns of India. The Egmore Station houses a number of meter gauge and some broad gauge trains, which originate from Egmore headed to different destinations within the state as well as to the neighboring states. Basically Chennai Central links North and West India, while Egmore links South India.
Probably me conjuring up the term meter guage railroad was because I liked the term for some reason, hence it stuck with me and I was able to relate it to Liz --- although in real life at the time I most likely had no clue what meter guage, or in British terminology, metre guage meant.
Over the years I have been questioned repeatedly about my source THE GURU. Apparently in searches, the people so asking have been unable to find any record of it. I do not recall specifically what or where I originally became privy to the quote, but most likely it was some hard copy somewhere because the source was not linked to --- that is, until now. I have gone back to rectify the situation for those who may be so interested by offering the following:
The quote so cited by me, as I have stated, was used by David Godman in the preamble to THE GURU. The quote originally showed up as an answer to a question posed to Sri Ramana in a question-answer session by one Sri M. Sivaprakasam Pillai around 1902. The results of that question-answer session were eventually put together in book form titled Who Am I? - (Nan Yar?), translated by Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan from the original Tamil. In Who Am I? - (Nan Yar?) is a series of 28 questions of which the quote I have cited is in response to question number 20 which goes like:
20. Is it not possible for God and the Guru to effect the release of a soul?
God and the Guru will only show the way to release; they will not by themselves take the soul to the state of release. In truth, God and the Guru are not different. Just as the prey which has fallen into the jaws of a tiger has no escape, so those who have come within the ambit of the Guru's gracious look will be saved by the Guru and will not get lost; yet, each one should by his own effort pursue the path shown by God or Guru and gain release. One can know oneself only with one's own eye of knowledge, and not with somebody else's. Does he who is Rama require the help of a mirror to know that he is Rama?(source)
THE GURU with preamble by David Godman so cited by me as my source for the quote, although a stand-alone publication, is in itself a modification of Chapter Four of The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words, edited by Arthur Osborne and of which Chapter Four of the book, starting on page 91, is titled "The Guru." On page 107 the same quote is presented in context, albeit footnoted to have been sourced from Who Am I? - (Nan Yar?). To see the stand-alone version of THE GURU with preamble by David Godman, click HERE.
People ask me over and over, in that I was at the Ramana ashram in 1944 and 1944 was the same year Poonja met Ramana, were we there at the same time and did I see or meet Poonja at the ashram? In his biography Poonja states he was 34 years old when he met the Maharshi. Poonja was born October 13, 1910, so to have been 34 years old in 1944 he would have to have been at the ashram AFTER October 10th --- otherwise he would have been 33 years old. As I have so explicitly laid out above regarding my own timeframe at the ashram, I was at sea on the way home by the end of May, 1944, so, to answer the question, I wasn't even at the ashram when Poonja met Ramana.
Did I ever meet Poonja? That is a question for another day. For Poonja's biography and the source for the above translocation episode between himself and Sri Ramana see:
SRI H. W. L. POONJA
Many people consider what I present in the quote below, as found in the main text, i.e., the elimination from my mind any memory of recently perceived events, especially those incurred after an hour of my face-to-face meeting with the Maharshi leading to all of my "mental barriers reduced to nothingness," questionable:
"(T)he death of my mother followed then quickly on the heels of that event by the trauma incurred from stumbling across the blood soaked suicide of Mac, in a child-like effort to survive, my surface level mind caved-in, and any memory of recently perceived events thereof became basically erased."
After all, they ask, would not abiding in Eternity forsake any coming or going from such a state? They are not asking the question for an answer, they are questioning me. The hypothesis usually circles around the premise that any hole or dent in the armor, large or small, will weaken the whole of my thesis as presented. The thing is, forgetting or the loss of memory, as I can personally attest to, is a phenomenon that can manifest itself in exalted levels, it just gets scant or little attention by most pundits blathering about the Attainment field.
However, others besides myself, many highly noted and highly respected in the field, have long attested to it. Bob Fergeson, a venerated spiritual teacher in his own right, writes in an article titled Forgetting, and apparently in agreement with by citing John Wren-Lewis in reference to Wren-Lewis and his Enlightened state, that there are two forms that forgetting ourselves can take.
The first is called "slipout," caused by focusing the attention on and through the mind. Usually is does not lead to complete forgetting, but occasionally one forgets "eternity" and the slipout occurs.
The second forgetting, called "screening" by Wren-Lewis, is much more severe in that it is a complete loss of what he calls the Dazzling Dark and I call Dark Luminosity. In Wren-Lewis' case it has occurred rarely and comes he says, from intense stress. I would say in my case the death of my mother when I was a very young boy followed then quickly on the heels of that event by the trauma incurred from stumbling across the blood soaked suicide of my uncle would qualify for stress. Hence, the results being my surface level mind caving-in and any memory of recently perceived events, in my case encompassing two or three years thereof, became basically erased.
The complete article by Fergeson gets into the whys and wherefores of the two types of forgetting in depth, and for those who may be so interested it is well worth reading. Please go to:
Bob Fergeson's teacher was Richard Rose, a person of great Spiritual Attainment, and of which whom I had some acquaintance with --- enough so to have written about him in various places amongst my works, most notedly as found by clicking: HERE.
I have been to the ashram on three occasions. The first being when I was taken there as a child by the couple so described in the main text above. Both my second and third visits occurred as an adult. To learn about my second visit, which I have termed my 'first return visit' as well as the actual authorized ashram source(s) in which that visit is recorded, written as such by a person said to be both sometimes Ramana's grand nephew as well as the Maharshi's younger brother Chinnaswami's second son, please see:
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN