By Jeff Greenwald
When you are five years old, your parents look after you. When you grow older and you feel that you can look after yourself, you leave your parents and work for yourself. Your parents are happy when you start to be independent. If you have trouble, you can always go back to them for help and advice, and you will always be welcome. Why am I telling you this? There is an energy, a grace, which nurtures you and looks after you. You can go back to it at any time for sustenance. That reservoir is the source of all energy. It is the source of electricity and the source of your own energy as well. Don’t forget that all your energy, the energy through which you do work, comes from atman, from grace. When you tap into that source, you will have two hundred percent more energy to work with than you have now. Go back to your country and see for yourself.
When you let this grace run your life, you will know, ‘This is coming from grace. It is my good luck that I have seen this grace working. Through it I have been given the opportunity to look after my children, my wife, my relations, my society, my country.’ When you function from that place, you will have a new life. Many people who leave here write to me: ‘Where does this energy come from? We were busy before but now we have taken on more jobs and we still don’t fatigue ourselves. We feel very young now. It is as if we were thirty years younger than when we came to Lucknow.’
Then I would be eight years old. A good time for an awakening!
Yes, yes. Otherwise you will be too old. It has to be got in childhood or youth. In old age there are responsibilities. Children will trouble you, society will trouble you, diseases will trouble you. The body is a disease itself. It is full of complications. When you are old, your mind will be dwelling on your diseases. It will not be able to concentrate. There will be mental ailments, physical troubles, relationships — so many things. So you have to do it in your prime, in your youth. Childhood is the best time, but youth is also good. Some old people have also come here. They will be all right next time.
Yesterday a woman came and saw you. She was a bit older than I am and she seemed to have a wonderful visit with you. When I saw her, I was very confident because I thought, ‘I still have time’.
Why time? What for? You get rid of time here. Why depend on time? Time is the past. When you go from here, you throw away time. You don’t need time.
This has actually happened here. A man about fifty years of age came from L.A. because he was not happy that his son was always here. He was a rich man and wanted to take his son away and make him work in some business. He had brought hundreds of questions and wanted to fight with me. He wanted to know why I had taken his son from him. They had three rooms in the Clarks Hotel and spent the night there before coming to see me. The next morning his son introduced him to me. He sat down in front of me in my house.
The father said: ‘You came to me last night. You sat by my bed in the Clarks Hotel and you answered all my questions. Now I have nothing to ask.’
He had a watch on his wrist which he placed next to me, saying, ‘I don’t need time now’.
He stayed here for twenty days. Have you ever seen an American with no watch? Even while going to sleep they have a watch under the pillow. Even when they go to the bathroom the watch is there. They are so careful, so punctual, even in the bathroom.
When he was leaving, I said to him, ‘What about the time? If you don’t have a watch, you will have to ask other people the time.’ He replied, ‘No, it is all the same. Getting up and sleeping — now it is all the same. I have forgotten time. I don’t need it anymore.’
I told him, ‘No, take my time now,’ and I fastened the watch on his wrist.
When you have time, the mind and all these other things, you have to be responsible for them yourself. But when you know the beauty of no-mind and no-time, who will look after you? If you rely on the supreme power, it will take care of you very well.
Papaji, nearly all of us are very well-to-do people from free countries. Visiting you in Lucknow is a privilege that all of us can afford. For many people, though, freedom still means relief from political oppression, from imprisonment, from torture. Is external bondage an impediment to internal freedom, and if it is, do you see a place for political activism in the world?
External circumstances are no impediment. The impediment is the ego. Impediments are created by the ego. ‘I have to do this.’ ‘I must not do that.’ This idea that you are doing something is the impediment. If you act without feeling that you are the doer, there will be no impediments. The supreme power is working through you. It will guide you as the circumstances arise.
I spend some time working for human rights. People in other countries like Burma and Tibet are being terribly oppressed. They are being killed or hurt by people who have taken control of them. You say that the body itself is a disease and that sometimes, in old age, the body exerts a tyranny that makes it very difficult to wake up. There are some places where one could be killed just for attending satsang. There are places where meetings like these are prohibited. In these places the government agents would gun us down if we tried to assemble for a satsang. These external circumstances must be an impediment. And since they are, there must be a need for people to take action against their oppressors. You yourself did that in your twenties, if your biography is accurate. How do you deal with that kind of action?
The world is moving towards disaster. We are moving towards the destruction of the human race itself. Atom bombs and chemical weapons are taking us there. This is not the way to go. Let us try instead broadcasting compassion and love towards all human beings and to all other beings. Let us try this. Here in satsang we are making a trial. We are spreading the message of peace and love. I hope that the message will spread. All those who are here are ambassadors of their respective countries. They will give this message to their parents and to the people in their country. This fire will spread. One day you will see its results. You yourself are going home. You will speak to your people, to your friends, and they will find out what is happening. You will see a tremendous change. I am very sure about it. These times are now coming.
We have to learn the lessons that previous destructions have taught us. We have still not forgotten Hiroshima in Japan. People are still suffering there. We can’t forget.
Copyright © 1993 Avadhuta Foundation. This article is reprinted from Papaji Interviews. Used by permission.
H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji) was a popular Advaitin guru in the late 20th century. His students created
the modern satsang movement in the West.
Jeff Greenwald is the author of Shopping for Buddhas. Wikipedia has a page about him.
Edited by David Godman
As you’ve probably guessed from the book’s title, it consists mainly of interviews. Ten people sat down with Papaji and asked him questions, and the resulting conversations were transcribed. The questioners include Catherine Ingram, Wes Nisker, Shanti Devi, Chokyi Nyima Rimpoche, and Godman himself. The book also includes a 62-page biography of Papaji.
By David Godman
This massive three-volume biography of H.W.L. Poonja, widely known as Papaji, is one of the most comprehensive attempts ever made to document the life and teachings of a self-realized person. Papaji was a direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi. He is largely responsible for the satsang movement in the West because he helped hundreds of Westerners attain glimpses of the Self and then sent them home to teach.
This page was published on October 24, 2001 and last revised on May 27, 2017.