Published by Threshold Books
An excerpt from
Raji’s Journeys with the Mirror Dede
The Eternal Mystery
When I closed my eyes, I found myself among a few hundred students seated before a teacher of majestic presence. As I shifted my position, I put my hand on my head and was surprised to feel a twisted lock of hair at the top of my head. Then I remembered that I was Chinese. Suddenly, I remembered many other things as well.
I was a young man from the city of Nanking who had been receiving an education in science and spiritual knowledge. After having traveled extensively in my own country, I had continued my pursuit of knowledge and had arrived in India where I happened upon things I did not understand and could not explain. I had sought answers form the wisest men in India, but none of them had been able to provide me with an answer that would satisfy my heart. At last they had advised me to seek out a certain sage who had withdrawn from the world. I finally found him living in a temple in the middle of a forest filled with tigers, snakes, and poisonous plants, and I was now sitting in front of him for the first time. After a long silence, he addressed me with a voice that sounded as though it was coming from the grave.
“O young man of China! What is the problem that you cannot solve? What are you looking for?”
“The eternal secret!” I replied.
The other students all looked at each other in amazement. It was clear form the way they regarded me that they were all seeking the same thing.
The Brahman began to speak again, “Which one?”
“Which one?” I questioned.
“Yes, of course, which one?”
“The truth of the spirit,” I answered.
The Brahman fell back into silence. His face became as pale as a dead man and his features more and more lifeless. After a while, he spoke. “The living cannot know spirit. Are you prepared to die?”
“Come near me!”
I went close to him, and he spoke these words into my ear, “Imprison your animal spirit as much as you can, while continually chanting, ‘my home, my home, my home.’ Allow these men to take you to the place of seclusion.”
They led me to a narrow, dark room large enough for only one person. I entered and until evening chanted, “My home, my home, my home.” An inexplicable anxiety filled my heart. I was becoming rather hungry; yet the door to this place of seclusion remained closed. Though I knocked on the door a few times in order to be let out, no one responded. At last, late that night, a servant came and let me outside for five minutes. He gave me a handful of roasted corn and a cup of water and said, “These make the animal impulses stronger, but you are not yet ready for asceticism, so for a few days these will be given to you.”
I remained in this strange prison for seven years. After some time had passed I was given the handful of corn every two days and then every three days. After five years I received a handful of corn only once a week, and that was sufficient. Water was then given to me once every fifteen or twenty days. At the end of the seventh year, I was taken out of my place of seclusion and brought before the Brahman into an area where hundreds of Brahmans and thousands of students had gathered.
My state had become impossible to describe. Gravity no longer had the same effect upon me; when I walked, I had a strange feeling of flying. If I did not pay close attention, things around me became quite blurry, as if colors had lost their distinction. If I continued looking attentively at something for awhile, surrounding things gradually disappeared. I no longer felt myself as matter but felt I consisted only of energy. Whomever I regarded, it was as if I could see or read the thought which troubled his heart.
When I went into the Brahman’s presence, I approached him and kissed his hand. The sound created by this simple movement was surprisingly loud. Thousands of people began crying, “My home, my home, Brahma, Brahma.” When I looked around I saw the reason for the outcries. The Brahman and I were standing together in the air midway between the floor and the ceiling. The Brahman held my hand, and walking in the air, we came up to the wall, but the wall did not stop us. Was it slit so that we were able to pass through, or did the wall lose its density? I don’t know, but when we entered the room on the other side, the Brahman spoke, “I think we have solved the eternal secret now. You have known spirit.”
“No,” I answered, “I still don’t know what spirit is.”
“Great Brahma,” he said, “Haven’t ;you yet realized that you are spirit yourself.”
“I? Am I spirit?”
“Great Brahma! When you are flying through air and walking through walls, do you still doubt?”
“Doubt? I don’t doubt; I am sure that I am not spirit. I am a corpse, and this corpse will disassociate tomorrow, and my ego will be nothing; I will no longer remain.”
The Brahman uttered a loud cry. Several times he exclaimed, “Great Brahma!” and then he fell down and died.
Immediately I threw myself over his corpse. Already his body was as cold as ice, and his heart had ceased beating. Yet in spite of this, he opened his eyes for a moment and spoke almost inaudibly, “Did you realize spirit?”
Just as I gave my answer, “No,” laughter burst forth, tearing at my heart. I raised my head. Though the corpse till lay before me, the Brahman was now standing between the ceiling and the floor. He asked me, “Did you realize spirit?”
Before I had a chance to answer, the door opened. Someone entered and said, “They are calling you.”
I followed the man into the room from which I had passed with the Brahman. To my great astonishment, I beheld the Brahman sitting there in his customary seat. He called me to him and began conversing again, “Have you still not realized spirit?”
“No, no! But if you would do me a favor and tell me about it…”
“Tell you about it! Tell you? Haven’t we shown you?”
“Yes! But I did not understand. To see a thing is not enough to understand it.”
“One has to die,” I said.
“Oh! Alas! To die, to die. This is what is impossible.”
“Because, in order to die, first one has to be. This is the aim of my wisdom. Yet you are not content with this much. Now there is only one thing left to do. Do you have enough power to sacrifice your eternal life?”
“If I sacrifice my eternal life, what will I gain in understanding spirit?”
“Nothing! Since you will become nothing, naturally you cannot then gain anything.”
“What is promised for us in eternal life?”
“Brahma gives good news of eternal pleasure for his friends.”
“But in this eternity will this thought of wanting to realize what spirit is remain in me?”
“No doubt! You will remain with all your existence.”
“Then I will sacrifice such a dreadful eternity. O dear Lord! I do not want to live eternally with this anxiety which gives me no peace. I don’t want to; I cannot.”
“Then come with me.”
The Brahman held my hand again and took me to another room. He took a piece of paper out of a vault. The names of seven people were written on it. “In seven thousand years, only seven people have come who have sacrificed their eternal lives in order to learn the spiritual sciences. You are the eighth. Write your name here.”
I wrote my name on the paper. Again the Brahman spoke, “Go to the Mountain of Light. There, your problem will be solved.”
Leaving the temple behind, I set out towards the Mountain of Light. Sometimes I walked on the ground; sometimes I flew in the air. As I was passing through the valley in front of the mountain, I saw a baby who had just stepped into the world of nothingness. He lay in the middle of the way. Wondering about who had left this poor baby there, hoping to see his mother or a relative, I looked around as I approached him. When I had come near him, the child spoke, “O seeker of knowledge! O man of anxious heart! Welcome!”
Bewildered to hear a newborn baby speak, I exclaimed, “At this age, when you are not even a year old, you are speaking! What a strange child you are!”
“Not only do I speak, I am rather talkative. Though you didn’t ask, let me tell you my name. I am called ‘Gnosis,’ the third step in spiritual knowledge.”
“I was hoping to solve the eternal secret.”
“And for this you sacrificed your eternal life in order to be free from the anxiety of the spirit!”
“Yes, this anxiety…”
“O you poor crazy man! This anxiety is the eternal anxiety of the whole universe, all of existence. No individual, no particle can be saved from this anxiety because they cannot fulfill the necessary conditions.”
“What are these conditions? I sacrificed my life for this knowledge. Surely there cannot be a more difficult condition than that.”
“Is that what you think? In my opinion, if this condition were enough to realize what spirit is, there would be lots of people who would have done it. But, the special condition…”
“What is this special condition?”
“To prove that nothingness and existence are the same — one single thing.”
Hearing this impossible condition I sighed deeply and, opening my eyes, saw the smiling, loving face of the Mirror.
“Who can prove that nothingness and existence are the same, a single thing? Even this statement is crazy. Who could prove it?” I asked.
“Who?” The Mirror Dede replied, “The mad one who accepts knowing and not knowing as equal!”