3. Telling the Story, Part IVPerfect Brilliant Stillness
LONG STORY SHORT: INTERNET SEARCH, The Final Truth from Amazon.com, and the rest is story. Devouring everything Ramesh Balsekar had written up to that date, and finding it more helpful than anything I had encountered since the jungle. These early works by the retired Bombay banker ring with clarity. The writing is highly metaphysical, reflecting influence from his own teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj, and from an earlier writer known as Wei Wu Wei. Everything available by these gentlemen is read as well, and also what can be found by and about Ramana Maharshi, the mystic sage teacher saint of southern India.
With this reading and reflecting there is the realization that although this no-thing that happened in the jungle could not be recognized or explained by anyone in the immediate context when it occurred, nevertheless there does exist a context, a tradition in which such occurrence is known and recognized. In a world of spiritual mumbo- jumbo and garbled third-hand tales, there are some, a handful, in whom there is clear thinking and writing about What Is. Provided of course that you already know what they are talking about and can sense where their words point. Taken literally or at face value, most of their talk is all but incomprehensible. Necessarily so, given the deficiencies of language.
Thus I was introduced to the timeless thread of the Teaching, the perennial wisdom. And at some point in the midst of this, there is the thought: sometimes it’s a good idea, when you’re new in a place, to maybe go see and talk to, listen to, someone who’s been here a while. Of the four I had so far found as reliable sources, Ramesh is the only one still alive, and in fairly good health for a lifelong resident of Bombay in his mid-eighties.
The first few meetings are remarkably helpful. The story is asked for, and the story is told; the david thing tells what happened in the jungle. Haltingly, hesitantly, using words and concepts that arise spontaneously from the context of this life, to attempt to describe what is known to be indescribable. And there is recognition, confirmation, from Ramesh, that what occurred in the jungle corresponds with what (echoing Wei Wu Wei and Maharaj) he calls the complete Understanding, what in his tradition is known as awakening or enlightenment. During one visit, he does allow as how it is a little odd, the way of this happening; no guru, no teacher… but then there was always the Maharshi with his mountain, so… the slightest shrug, the biggest smile. He’s quite sure of his-not-self.
It takes some convincing. The first response to this is an instinctive recoiling; that old fear of specialness stirring again. And whatever vague preconceived ideas there may have been of what ‘enlightenment’ might be, they had not included the obliteration of that night in the jungle, and this vast outpouring in Presence. Yet at the same time there is also a sense that this is what is. There is no one home. There is recognition, and yet it is of no consequence and changes nothing. Whatever anyone (including Indian gurus) may have to think or say about this, and however helpful that is, there is no labelling the unspeakable. There can be no owning, no taking on of a label, of a concept, of a tradition.
Over the next weeks, years, more visits, more talks. Awkward at first; that great hesitancy in the conditioning, still flapping in the wind. Some visits, when Ramesh is heard to reiterate, as he does on several occasions, that the complete Understanding is here, I am hounded afterwards by others in the group of seekers who come to the morning talks; or the opposite, avoided. So there is often a hanging back, incognito among the miserable seekers, happy in the wider and deeper always Brilliance outpouring.
If there is a ‘purpose’ in these visits, it is something of what I can only call a ‘backwards process:’ in the jungle, the answer was given before there were questions, so this time was spent filling in the questions to the answer, the framework to understand the Understanding after the fact.
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