The Grace of the Self Visited Its Seekers in Prague in the Form of Sri Brahmam
by Rostislav Tomanec, December 1, 2006, first published at www.satguru.cz in Czech, English translation by Emil H.
We were blessed by the wonderful grace of experiencing the physical presence of a liberated being. Leaving our hearts wide open was enough to have them filled with Love, Light, Peace and Bliss up to the brim the moment Sri Brahmam merely entered the hall. One's personality was dissolving by the sheer Self power manifesting in its crystalline form in the small figure of the great yogi. In proximity of the continuator of Ramana our minds melted quicker than snow in the sun and what remained was solely a blissful immersion in the ocean of grace of the Self. Our dreams came true... and dissolved...
On Monday, when the first darshan was to take place, we arrived in Prague early in the afternoon after having traveled across the entire country. By the time we found our friend's flat, divine energy was vibrating within the space of our consciousness. In no time we were absorbed in Samadhi. One of us noted, "Is it still necessary to go anywhere? Is Sri Brahmam the body? Is he anywhere else than right here in our hearts?" However, physical nearness proved to be much more profound. Two hours before the announced lecture beginning we set out along the street to catch the metro train. The Samadhi deepened even more. I realized that my body had disappeared. I lost all sensation of contact with the ground. "I am not", I called out in happy ecstasy. "I have no body, I am nothing." Elated we got on the metro train. Can one experience anything greater than this? There were four of us. No one spoke. Now and then spontaneous laughter of spiritual ecstasy broke out. The Self power was working in us.
We arrived at the Naprstek Museum an hour and a half before the beginning. "There is no-one here yet", were the welcoming words of the receptionist. "No-one is", we repeated inside ourselves. Sri Brahmam definitely was there. We sat on the counter by the locked door and meditated. The doors opened after 5pm. We almost felt like staying put but decided to move inside, suspecting that things could get even better there. We sat in the front row and continued experiencing the Silence. The energy got even finer, if one can differentiate within the divine Shakti. Yes, one can. We were completely happy. If at this time the organizer had announced that the Indian master unfortunately hadn't arrived and that the lecture was cancelled, we wouldn't have moved an inch.
But when I opened my eyes after some time, the hall was filled with people. Just then the sweet milk of divine Love began filling me within. A little man wearing an orange shirt and white trousers gracefully drifted past the front row. Sri Brahmam. Tears filled my eyes and laughter poured out of my chest like a fountain of water completely spontaneously without any preceding thought. Blissful prana resonated along unobstructed channels like the wind flying into a bunch of balloons, filling them up and playing with them in the air. Brahmam sat in front of us. He closed his eyes for a moment and immersed himself within. After a while he began to speak. His words flowed like a fresh stream gushing suddenly out of an inert rock and carrying the mind into the sea of silence. We bathed in the serene depths. Never before have I heard a more pure and direct explanation of the path of wisdom, Jnana. Poonja comes to my mind. Yes, his talks were strong and concise. Then I think of Ramana, the teacher of both and that brings me back to Brahmam. But Brahmam was alive sitting right in front of me. After the talk we were able to meet him in person and enjoy his kind and sincere company. I used the occasion to ask his blessings for some photos of Arunachala and for a book by Sadhu Om. Standing next to Sri Brahmam one could clearly sense a real Jnani. The One who Knows. An utterly pure soul. Pure mind - no mind. No ego, only a burnt rope. No prejudice or hierarchy, only equality and friendship with all. On our way home we remained silent, moved by the unexpected grace. All troubles of the past days and years were forgotten within a single second. Back at our friend's flat we continued dwelling in the state of spiritual union and meditated late into the night.
Next morning an even greater blessing awaited us. We were invited to join our dear teacher in a small apartment. About ten people gathered there. To sit in one room together with Sri Brahmam and his son was like being exposed to sun's warm rays in the middle of a cold and cloudy autumn day. One could feel His spiritual flame burning away our minds and bodies. Now I understood what the adage, "My guru, father and God" meant. Sri Brahmam's teaching in the small circle of people was even more direct. Stories from his personal experience and from the life of beloved Ramana Maharshi were told, too. I asked whether a Jnani sees into the minds as they used to say about Seshadri Swami, an elder friend of Ramana. Sri Brahmam narrated, "Seshadri could do various miracles but he didn't yet know the miracle of the Self." Once he visited Ramana Maharshi at the Virupaksha cave. He sat there observing Ramana for a long time before he said, "Why are you always silent?" Ramana replied, "I have nothing to do, to speak or to think." Seshadri confessed he could see nothing but the Divine Presence everywhere, but on Ramana's enquiry whether he knew who he himself was, the answer was negative. Ramana was the Divine Presence itself. Another story came from Sri Brahmam's own life. When he was about twenty years old a friend invited him to a meeting with an established yogi. The yogi or fakir explained to the audience that he could heal any cut wound on the body within one day. Further he said he was about to go to the Himalayas to meditate for an extended number of years so as to learn to fly in the air. When Brahmam heard this, he burst out laughing. The fakir called him and questioned why he had laughed. The young man replied that the laughter emerged spontaneously when the yogi spoke about flying because at that moment he experienced unity with the air so there was no place to fly. The fakir passed his hand along Brahmam's spine and apparently discovered that his personality had dissolved since the spiritual channel was clear. Turning to the public the fakir announced that the young man shouldn't be reprimanded for disturbing since the reason for his laughter was justified. Next he asked Brahmam how he had attained his state. Brahmam replied that he hadn't worked on anything; he hadn't put forth any effort. The yogi concluded that Brahmam had finished his spiritual practice during his previous births.
Even more inspiring was his narration about how he realized the Self in the meditation hall of the Ramana Maharshi Ashram in Tiruvannamalai in 1972. There he sat on the floor in front of Ramana's photograph and addressed the Guru, "Give me realization or give me death. I have no other interest in life. If I am not eligible for Self-realization, take this life. I have no desires; life has no value for me." Then he just sat silently. Subsequently his thoughts started disappearing; his breathing began to slow down until it completely stopped. There was no breath. All thoughts vanished. The body disappeared, as if it had died. What remained was pure awareness. After some time the breath began to re-appear and with it some thoughts came, but inside he was complete detached from them. During the following period leftover tendencies burnt away until final liberation took over. Since then for over 30 years he remains free from emotions, feelings, fears and disturbance. Only perfect peace and freedom prevail. This divine peace emanates from Brahmam intensely, nourishing his visitors' souls with pure nectar.
And what about his message, which carries on Ramana's teaching? People seek to solve their problems with their minds completely unaware of the truth that mind itself is the problem. If one wants to solve one's problems, it is necessary to solve the problem of the mind. How? By calming it and seeking its source. What is that? It is the Heart. What is the Heart? It is pure consciousness unobstructed by thinking. How to attain it? By enquiry. When a disturbing feeling or thought arises, one should ask, "To whom? Is it appearing to me? Who am I?" Brahmam said that if the first question doesn't succeed in dissolving the problem, the next question should be put after some time and similarly the third question. If during this enquiry any answer emerges, one should continue with, "To whom is this answer appearing?" This enquiry brings to our attention the 'false I', the ego, which subsequently subsides in its source, the Heart, because the ego can't exist on its own without thoughts. This way one experiences existence without the presence of the ego, and discovers its uselessness. One realizes that one can live forever in this blissful and happy state. But as the master himself admits (and most people soon find out), this Self-enquiry can be perfectly done only by a person who knows the Self-experience. A disciple commonly suffers under quantities of thoughts which prevent the enquiry from being successful. If that is the case, the breath may be observed until the mind becomes quiet. When the mind becomes quiet, the seeker may begin with the Self-enquiry and "clean-up" the remaining thoughts and thus gradually eliminate the ingrained tendencies of the mind (vasanas). This process leads to the experience of peace and bliss of the natural, pure state. The next step is to recognize that someone inside is experiencing this bliss. This experiencer is the ego again. Then we may ask, "Who is experiencing this?" or, "Who am I?" Such questioning puts our awareness on the experiencer, namely the ego, and causes it to disappear. When it disappears, what remains is pure Awareness and that is the Self, the true and real Peace, which must be permanent. The true Self (Atman) is bliss itself. When that experiencer or questioner dissolves permanently, then what follows is absolute Self realization. The soul becomes jivanmukta, a liberated soul.
During Sri Brahmam's visit, several people received blessings each day. Once, Sri Brahmam asked, "To whom am I giving blessings? To the mind? That doesn't need any blessings. To the Self? That doesn't need blessings either. To whom then? You receive consciousness, conscious awareness, which guides you and helps you to enquire and to find the Silence." The first two of us received his blessings and soon we felt a change in our consciousness. Events began as if to speak on their own through a language that our minds could understand. The same used to happen before, but now the experience became clearer. Shortly after came states of no-mind, of pure consciousness. Our Self-enquiry became effortless. Silence and wonderful peace and bliss found their stable place in our consciousness regardless of circumstances and surroundings. I should add that both of us had been practicing the teachings of Ramana Maharshi for a long time and that these states of consciousness had come to us before. The blessings made them more distinct and fresh.
The satsang hall was packed with about 120 visitors every night. The morning meetings took place at the Husova Street Gallery, which was smaller, accommodating only about thirty guests. Here the spiritual connection was even deeper. The daily meetings were frequented by well known spiritual teachers and experts on Maharshi's teachings. I believe that every visitor gained spiritual energy for their growth. During the first meeting the verses of Swinburne quoted in Jack London's book Martin Eden came to my mind on their own. With one small adjustment they serve as a fitting conclusion for this remembrance.
"From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That one hope die will never
Sri Brahmam waits us ever
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea."