Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Experience of Immortality

The last time I saw my guru, Ramesh Balsekar, in person was August 2009. Right after I visited him in the hospital (see post "Got Stars In His Eyes"), I intuitively downloaded a message about a book that would help deepen my understanding. The book is called Experience of Immortality, containing Ramesh's reflections on the sage Jnaneshwar's Amritanubhava.

The Amritanubhava is POWERFUL. Jnaneshwar is a poet saint from the Indian state of Maharashtra. He became a fully realized being as a teenager through the grace of his own guru, who happened to be his very own brother Nivritti. The brother instructed Jnaneshwar to write his own reflections on the Bhagavad Gita. When he completed that work (known as Jnaneshwari), the brother-guru instructed Jnaneshwar to compose his own gita (song) from his own unique direct understanding.

The result is the Amritanubhava, and Ramesh's Experience of Immortality dissects the text and explains the non-dual understanding therein. Themes include:

  • The riddle of oneness in a world of duality
  • The nature of the Guru
  • The usefulness and limitations of the word in conveying Truth
  • The existence of knowledge and ignorance
  • The meaning of the Self-realized state
  • The concept of bondage and its source
  • The two aspects of ego
The intuited message I received that August afternoon was about the final dropping of ego-identification. Ramesh was speaking to me as someone who had been experiencing the flip-flop between total non-involvement (no one there), and occasional involvement with the ego identification:

It’s basically about time-passing… total realization is inevitable if there is full intellectual understanding, so keep working on intellectual understanding in the meantime. Read Jnaneshwar’s Experience of Immortality. You might enjoy Jnaneshwar because he is also a bhakta-jnani like you.

I picked up the book at my favorite Indian philosophy-spirituality bookstore in Mumbai, Chetana and, knowing that there was nothing I could do in Mumbai except wait for Ramesh to either come back to health or leave the body, I took the train back to my village in the south Indian state of Karnataka.

Reading the book over the next month, the great sage Jnaneshwar completely blew my mind - or what was left of it. Every day was like an orgasmic explosion of understanding and realization. And it's not an easy read! It's been described as Ramesh's most challenging yet most rewarding work.

On September 27, 2009, I was reading the final chapter of the book during my usual morning reading, reflecting, and note-taking time. I 'got it' upside down and every way. That very morning, I finished the book with tremendous gratitude thumping through my being.

After my morning yoga asana practice, I sat in meditation for a long time - longer than usual. Upon opening my eyes, I saw a radiant, white sparkly halo emanating from my body and all around – God was in the house. I was brought to tears as I felt Ramesh’s presence, and the power of truth and love, so deeply.

At lunchtime, I was sitting in my favorite locale enjoying a thali of rice and dal, basking in the glory of simple Existence.
Just then, I received a text message from a fellow student of Ramesh's who was up in Mumbai:

“Erin, how are you? Do you know?”

I almost dropped the phone. That was the moment of the deafening roar of silence. I didn’t even need to call my friend. I knew: Ramesh was gone. He had taken Mahasamadhi at 9:00 a.m., exactly as I was practicing yoga on the deck, basking in the white light of pure Love - the very morning I finished the treatise, The Experience of Immortality.

Needless to say, that book will be precious to me forever. I had to sell my copy to lighten my load when I left south India (talk about non-attachment). Someone out there is reading this powerful gem, with all my notes and tears and highlights and revelatory markings! But I have a couple riveting passages saved here, which I now share with you in the following post, Yoga Bhoomika.

This is pretty intense reading. On the other hand, it's totally simple. Like the Tao, it's paradoxical and cannot be grasped with the linear mind. Read it with diffuse awareness when you are in the right frame of mind. For me, extremely early in the morning (between the hours of 3:30 a.m. and sunrise) is best for absorbing sacred texts!



Ramesh Balsekar
May 25, 1917 - September 27, 2009

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for sharing your inspiring experience of beloved Ramesh!