The astral journey

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The astral journey

One rainy night about eighty years ago, a spiritual Master was sitting in his meditation room with a few of his close disciples.

"Master," one disciple said, "it is raining too hard for us to go home right now. Can you tell us a few stories about your occult power?"

"It is already late, my children," replied the Master. "Some other day ask me to tell you occult stories."

The Master remained silent for a few minutes. "All right," he finally agreed. "I will tell you a few stories which I heard from people in my previous incarnation. Do you believe that your Master can remember what happened many, many years ago? That means that even now this rascal has a little occult power."

"We believe you, Master," said the disciples smiling, "and we are eager to hear a few juicy stories."

The Master meditated for a moment and then began.

"When somebody was very young, nine or ten, he heard a story from his father about astral journeys. Although he felt that his father never told lies, he thought that perhaps his father was only joking. His father told him that once a judge happened to be in court trying a case. All of a sudden an Indian Buddhist monk came in, walked right up to the judge and said, 'Meditate, meditate.' The court was in session, but the monk went right in and asked the judge to meditate. 'You don't know why?' the monk asked. 'You know that your wife is in London. This is a most significant moment. Take down the time. Now calculate the time difference between here and London. At this moment your wife is giving birth to a most beautiful child.'

"To the judge's widest surprise, eight hours later he received a telegram from London. The telegram came with the happiest news, that a child had been born. And the time was exactly that of the monk's appearance.

"Six months later the Buddhist monk again went to the court. This time he said to the judge, 'I want to see your wife.' The judge was extremely pleased with the monk, so he took him to see his wife. The wife said, 'Oh, I have seen this man before. He came to me at the hospital.'

"The father told his young son that it was the subtle physical of the Buddhist monk that had gone to the hospital in London while the monk himself remained in India. Unfortunately, the son did not believe this story. When he heard it from his father, he thought that perhaps the monk had somehow got the telegram from somewhere else. He gave his father many silly arguments.

"Now, when this boy was twenty years old, he had a mentor who was very kind to him. Both of them lived in a spiritual community near the Himalayas. The mentor and the young man had developed a very close connection in all kinds of literary and political discussions. Both of them had tremendous fondness for each other. It happened that once the mentor's sister-in-law was in Bombay having a serious operation. The young man had met the mentor's sister-in-law once or twice. While the operation was going on in Bombay the young man said to his mentor, 'I am not worried about your sister-in-law. I know she will be all right.'

"His mentor replied, 'I am glad you are consoling me.'

" 'In a few hours,' said the young man, 'I will be able to tell you about the operation in detail. Even now I could tell you a few things, but unfortunately the astral tube is not working well.' What the young man meant was that astral travelling considerably depends on the forces in the ether. Sometimes even champion occultists may find it very difficult to travel through the ether. That day, in the inner world, the weather was very bad. On hearing these words from his young friend the mentor laughed and laughed. The boy said to himself, 'Even though he doesn't believe me, I want to console my mentor. He has been so kind to me.' This conversation took place at about ten o'clock in the morning. At one o'clock the young man returned to his mentor's home and said, 'The operation went extremely well; it was one hundred per cent successful. Please don't worry at all.'

"Now, the mentor's wife happened to be in Bombay with her sister. His wife had seen the young man hundreds of times. While the wife was outside the operating room, she saw this young man vividly, although he and his mentor were over one thousand miles away. Her sister, who was having the operation, had been put to sleep with mild chloroform in the usual Indian way. But even so, she also saw the young man three or four times during the operation. When it was over she said, 'I saw a young man here, but I forget his name. He is a friend of your husband's. What was he doing here? When you write to your husband, please ask him about this.'

"The following day, around two or three o'clock in the morning, the young man's mentor got a telegram from his wife saying that the operation had been very successful. The telegram also said that both the sisters had had a vision. Although one sister was outside the room while the other one was having the operation, they both saw the same young man there. For four or five minutes they saw him smiling and smiling at them, giving them assurance and confidence. After the mentor received this news, he could hardly wait until morning when he was able to summon the young man and show him the telegram.

"When morning finally dawned, the servant of the mentor knocked at the door of the young man's house, practically breaking down the door, calling him and saying the mentor wanted to know how his sister-in-law was. The young friend hurriedly went to his mentor's house, only to be most powerfully embraced by the mentor, who showed him the telegram and said, 'In this world it is very difficult to achieve something and even more difficult to conceal it. Here is the proof that you have acquired these powers, but when did you achieve them? You have been with me for at least ten or eleven years. How is it possible to conceal such things? So many times my wife was sick in Bombay. Since you have these occult powers you could easily have helped her. How is it that you have never told us or shown us your capacities?'

"The young man said, 'My capacity is the capacity from Above; it is not mine. Since it is not mine, how can I use it at my sweet will? Only when it is commanded, or at least sanctioned from Above, can I use it.'

"A few months later the mentor's sister-in-law happened to see the young man in the street. First she looked at him for a minute or two. Then she began literally screaming with joy. She really created a scene."

The mentor's cat

"Can you tell us any more stories about your mentor?" the disciples asked.

The Master smiled. "When did I say that he was my mentor or that this young man was actually me in my last incarnation? That means that you have read my mind; you also have occult power. All right, let me tell you a story about the mentor's cat.

"As I have told you many times, if you love someone you have to love his cat, dog, squirrel, everything. The young man in the previous story even had to be fond of his mentor's dog, who was unbearable. But since the mentor kept this dog, what could the young man do? The mentor also had a cat, whose health was creating problems. The young man tried all kinds of medicines on the cat, but it seemed that no medicine could cure the cat. But God knows how many mentors this young man had. He went to another mentor of his who was a homeopathic doctor to get some medicine for the cat.

"The young man was extremely fond of this other mentor also. Since he was a practitioner of homeopathic medicine, he always criticised allopathic medicine like anything. And the young man always agreed with him. He was a 'yes-man'. These two reached the height of mutual appreciation. If someone said the young man's writing was not good at all, that mentor would take a thick book and throw it at the critic. He was extremely fond of the young man. The young man used to swim in the sea of this mentor's love.

"But even the homeopathic medicine did not work. The young man knew that the cat was going to die, but what could he do since this was destined? Nevertheless, he didn't have the heart to tell his mentor that the cat would die. He always used to say, 'Don't worry, don't worry,' just like Indian doctors. Even if the patient is dying, up to the last minute they say, 'Oh, he is bound to be cured in one or two days.' It is an Indian tradition, even if the patient is dying, to say, 'Yes, he is getting better.'

"One day the poor cat got really worse; everybody saw it. But the young man said, 'I see it clearly; it will be cured.'

"The mentor became furious. 'I can't see that at all! It is dying. Every day it gets worse and worse and you have to tell me such lies. I don't need that kind of false consolation.'

"At this the young man's pride came forward. 'You think I don't have any occult power,' he said to himself. Then to his mentor he said, 'I will prove that it is getting better.' He used what little occult power he had and from that moment the cat began getting better.

"In a few hours the cat became quite well and the mentor and his wife were extremely happy, but they gave all the credit to the homeopathic doctor, because the young man had got some medicine from him. For two days the cat was in excellent health and the cat-owner gave fifty rupees and two most important books on homeopathy as gifts to the doctor. The young man was delighted that his other mentor, who was an old man, received these things.

"But it was God's Will that this kind of miracle could last only for three days. God wanted the cat to die; therefore, on the third day the young man had to withdraw his occult power and allow the cat to die. When this happened, what a calamity it was in the mentor's family! The mentor was sad and distressed although he did not in any way blame the young man. He felt that it was the medicine that had cured the cat, and he knew that although medicine can appear to cure, the patient may die at any moment.

"The young man didn't have the heart to go to his mentor's place after the cat's death, although he knew that his mentor was not going to scold him. God's Will was executed; therefore, he did not feel sorry for the mentor's cat. But he did feel sorry for the mentor's suffering, so for a whole day he didn't visit this mentor. The mentor was very pleased when the young man finally did come to see him, because he saw that the young man was full of sympathy for his sorrow. The mentor didn't have the heart to scold him for constantly insisting that the cat would be cured. The mentor felt that he did not deserve a scolding, since he was just an ordinary young man. He had always acted like a good subordinate, saying, 'Yes, yes, your cat will be cured.'

"Anyway, after the cat died, the mentor and his wife wanted to offer it a burial with some purity to speed its journey in the inner world. They decided that they would allow only a pure person to touch the cat. Since both husband and wife were heartbroken, they didn't have the heart to bury the cat themselves. They had a servant, but they felt that the servant was unquestionably impure; therefore, they didn't want him to bury the cat either. Although the servant always fed the cat, on that day they suddenly felt that the servant was not pure enough to touch it. They felt that the young man was the right person.

"So the young man had to give the cat a burial associated with purity. The mentor and his wife said, 'Let us use the picture of our Master. What more purity can one have?' The young man placed the picture of the Master on the chest of the cat and buried them together. The husband and the wife bitterly cried. The young man joined. And his tears were one hundred per cent real."

The cat's wish

The Master paused. "It is still raining hard," he said. "That means that you don't want to leave me, and I also don't want you to leave."

"Can you tell us any more stories about animals?" said one disciple.

"Yes," said the Master. "Let me start with another cat story.

"Years later, when the young man had gone to another country and become a real spiritual Master, he went to give a talk in a private house. There were about twenty people in one room and he was sitting in another room with only three or four persons. The Master had some lines to memorise and he was having a real struggle with his memory. If he were to forget one word, then his whole talk would be ruined. That kind of serious trouble he used to have when he first became a Master. The lady who had invited the spiritual Master had a cat. All of a sudden her cat jumped into the lap of the spiritual Master. Then the cat wouldn't move. The spiritual Master requested the lady to come and take the cat away.

"At about eight o'clock, when the time came, he entered the other room where the people were waiting for the Master to speak. Again he had problems with the cat. It kept following him, although he tried very hard to keep it away. That day the Master forgot all his lines. But everybody thought that he forgot because of the cat, and that otherwise he would have given a very good talk, which was true.

"For ten minutes the cat bothered him. Finally, the Master said, 'All right, let me look at the cat.' He looked and looked at the cat. Then he said out loud to the cat, 'Yes, I know what you want, but I can't give you the answer right now. Around three o'clock tomorrow morning I shall ask God whether He will give you a human incarnation. If a human incarnation cannot be given, a dog incarnation can at least be given; that much I can easily tell you now. A dog incarnation is quite possible. Please, please leave me now. If you don't leave me, then I will not consider your case at three o'clock.'

"All this he said in English, not even in any cat language, in front of over twenty seekers. At that time he didn't have even one disciple. The people were inwardly saying, 'Listen to this cock and bull story,' but the cat was wise enough to leave immediately.

"Believe it or not, the young Master kept his promise. At three o'clock he concentrated on the soul of the cat and asked the Supreme whether the cat could have a human incarnation. The Supreme said that He would sanction a human incarnation for the cat in its next birth.

"When the owner of the cat heard about this, she was very pleased. Everybody believes this kind of juicy story, although one cannot prove it. How can you prove whether or not a cat is going to be a human being? It is a matter of belief. When you tell juicy stories saying that someone's son is going to be an emperor, whoever you have promised believes everything. So when this good news came, the lady accepted the story and gave the Master a very big bookcase, a T.V. set, three chairs and also a few other things as a reward for the future transformation of her cat. Also, for two or three meetings she brought juice, cookies and other refreshments. At that time the Master was very poor and he used to give talks at the homes of friends, since he didn't have any disciples.

"Now, the Master knew that a calamity was actually about to take place. It was very easy for this lady to believe that her cat would become a human being. But she did not take the time to think that the cat would have to die first. Only after the cat died could it become a human being. If the owner had died before the cat, then no problem would have arisen. But the cat was so eager to have a human incarnation that without any rhyme or reason it died. When the cat died the lady was absolutely furious. She had had such fondness for the cat that she demanded that the Master use his occult power to make it come back. But the cat was really dead and the Master would not do this kind of thing.

"The lady became miserable, miserable, miserable! The Master got a letter of unbearable insults from her. She felt that he was responsible for her cat's death, as if he had nothing else to do but to kill cats!

Believe it or not, she had loved the cat so dearly and missed it to such an extent that she had to go to another country where she had a friend who would console her. Finally one day the Master received a letter saying that she was not missing her cat any more, that her friend's devoted love had replaced the cat."

From animal to human

"Master," said one disciple, "in your last incarnation or even in this incarnation, did you ever see or know an animal and then a few years later actually see it again as a human being?"

The Master said, "In my last incarnation I was responsible for about seven or nine animals coming into human incarnation. First I helped them, and then they came to me when they became human beings."

"When they came to you as human beings, did you feel something for them or know that you had done anything for them?" asked the disciple.

"Certainly, certainly," the Master replied. "First, as animals, they came to me to see if they could have human incarnations. I have dealt with cows, dogs, goats, cats and other animals. I did this for two dogs of my own family, which I was so fond of in my last incarnation. These dogs were really nice and I loved them. One of them used to take letters from our house to our cousin's house about four miles away. We would write down the message, give it to him and he would take it to our cousin's house. Quite often my mother used to write letters to her sister, and sometimes she sent them like this. Our dog Taga acted just like a human being, like a real messenger.

"Now, when I was very young I was like an ordinary human being; but when I realised God I received occult power. Even at the age of sixteen or seventeen I had occult power. So on my last visit to my childhood home, when I saw that the dogs were still alive, I made contact with their souls. Later, they took incarnation as human beings.

"Once I saw two or three tortoises. When I looked at them I clearly saw that it was only a matter of six months or a year until they would die and take human incarnation. It was one hundred per cent certain that no matter when they died, their next incarnation would be a human incarnation."

Another disciple asked, "If you saw somebody as an animal and then he came back as a human being and became your disciple, wouldn't he have a really good start? I mean, couldn't he make very fast progress?"

The Master said, "After completing the animal incarnation, when the soul takes human incarnation it may take ten years or thirteen years or even more to come to me. Some people here have already known me in this incarnation for eight or nine years, but even so they do not make progress. If people do not make any satisfactory progress after having stayed nine, ten, twenty, fifty years with a Master, what can he do with them? Nothing. And a human incarnation is far superior to an animal incarnation. In a human being the soul is much more developed. So how can you expect someone to become very close, or very spiritually developed when he has just come out of the animal kingdom?

"As I have said before, it does not help at all if you have had a connection with someone in a previous incarnation. What difference will it make even if you are one hundred per cent certain who were your past brothers, sisters, parents, children? It only creates problems. I know of one spiritual Master who told somebody's daughter that she was his mother in a previous incarnation, and only created problems for the young girl as well as for the father and for himself. In this incarnation I have seen at least five teachers that I once had. Also, I have seen two of my past brothers, five of my past sisters, and two of my previous mothers, as well as a few cats and dogs that I used to have. But the previous connection has not helped them or me in any way."

The Master smiled, "Cats and dogs have very good souls. Unlike you people, they don't create any problems for me. They are far better than you people."

"Master," one young man said sorrowfully, "it is true that your disciples create problems for you. But do cats and dogs make very good people when they become human beings?"

"They do if they were very good cats and dogs and if they get special help from a great spiritual Master," said the Master. "They become very sweet and devoted. In my last incarnation I had a friend who was a dog in his previous incarnation. It was his first human incarnation. He always used to come to my house and I used to go to his. I would always help him because he had problems — problems from everybody and everywhere. We were so fond of each other.

"As a young man in his twenties, he developed cancer and was dying. On his deathbed he told his parents that it was his wish to come to the terminal and garland me when I first returned to my Motherland. I was in Africa at the time. But he died a few weeks before I returned and could not bring me a garland, so one of his brothers, who was a classmate of mine, brought me the garland when I returned. He wanted to fulfil his younger brother's last wish.

"Shortly after this friend's death, but before I returned to India, I was still in Africa with some disciples of mine. We were eating breakfast. This dear Indian friend appeared before me. I said to him, 'You are here; then please have some of our food.'

" 'How can I eat your food?' he asked.

" 'You are here and you can't eat our food?' I said. 'I am seeing you so vividly.'

"Then three or four hours later, he came back to the house. He was standing on the porch when the postman came and handed me the mail. I opened one letter and it mentioned that only a week earlier this young man had passed away. I asked him if it was true. Then all his past animal incarnations came before me. He was this animal, that animal. In his immediately preceding incarnation he had been a dog and in this incarnation he was a human being, my close friend."

Divine protection saves

Then the Master said, "I can tell hundreds of lies, but do you think I could fabricate these kinds of stories if they didn't actually happen? I challenge you people to see if you can fabricate continuously like this. I know some of you can and do tell lies. Well, God has either forgiven you or will forgive you people. Some of you will say that I have read these stories. It is true that I have read many, many stories. Perhaps I may also have read many, many occult-power stories which you people unfortunately have not read. So perhaps I am just telling all these stories in my name. That may be true; I don't deny it. Anyway, I told you at the very beginning that these stories did not take place in my life."

"Master," one disciple said, "even though you are joking, how can you say that we don't believe that these are true incidents in your past or present life? We do believe you! Please tell us some more."

The Master said that, on one condition, he would tell them more stories: if they believed that these stories were not his fabrications and that they were not connected with his personal life in his previous incarnations.

They all gladly agreed, just so their Master would continue telling stories.

The Master heaved a sigh of great relief and said, "Let me continue.

"One day a young man was going to the playground on his bicycle with three or four friends. His balls were tied up in a net. All of a sudden the net got caught in the spokes of his cycle, and then his right foot also got caught. He did a somersault in the air and fell to the ground. From at least seven shops on each side of the street, people came running. They thought the young man would be seriously injured, if not dead. But he just picked himself up off the ground and smiled at them. As he fell, he had seen three big pillows in front of him and a divine being smiling at him. Of course, he had landed on these pillows, so they did not find any bruises on him, just a little dust. His neck and head were completely all right. Only his bicycle was shattered and had to be left there.

"Another time while riding his bicycle, this young man fell into a large hole. As he fell he saw a circle of divine light. In the circle in Bengali was written, Ma, which means 'Mother'. Again his bicycle was totally smashed but absolutely nothing happened to the youth.

"Master," one young woman said, "you once told us that in your last incarnation you wanted a bike but it was too big for you, so your father paid the shopkeeper to tell you it wasn't for sale."

"Absolutely true, my child," said the Master, "absolutely true. I was so eager to have the bike, and went running to my father's office to tell him. My father felt it would be unsafe for me to get that bike, so he sent my brother to pay the man to tell me it was not for sale. Only half an hour after my brother and the shopkeeper had agreed on this, I went back to the shop and discovered that the bicycle wasn't for sale; I couldn't buy it. But later that day I got a three-wheeled cycle. That was allowed. My father was right, of course. At that age, even when I just sat on the back of our messenger's bicycle, I used to fall off.

"Once, when I was eight or nine years old, our messenger took me on the back of his cycle to a shop to get a toothstick. When we arrived there we saw several tall, stout Kabuliwalas [inhabitants of Kabul] with huge turbans. I had read about them and when I saw them personally I began to scream. I thought that they were threatening us. I thought, 'Oh, they are going to kill us!' and I fell off the bicycle out of fear. When I fell the messenger tried to turn and he fell on top of me with his bicycle. He, too, was crying out of fear, but his fear was caused by something else. He thought that when he took me home, all cut and scratched, my father would fire him. But my father was full of compassion and told the messenger only that from that day he was forbidden to take me on his bike."

"Were you ever seriously injured from an accident?" asked one disciple.

"Once in my last incarnation my soul actually left the body," said the Master.

"What happened?" asked the disciple.

"In that incarnation also, I gave much importance to sports and I was a champion runner. The night before an important race, our doctor wanted to give me some milk of magnesia. I didn't like the idea, but he said he would give me a very mild dose. O God, how I suffered the whole night! The next morning I ran the first 300 metres the fastest. Then all of a sudden I couldn't see anything. The final hundred metres of my sprint turned into a morning walk; everybody was passing me. During the last fifty metres everything was white, absolute purity. After I crossed the finish line I collapsed. My soul left the body."

"Your soul didn't want to leave, did it?" asked a disciple. "Was it just that the physical was so exhausted?"

The Master said, "The soul didn't want to leave, but the physical wanted death. The soul bird really flew away; it was real death. But Mother Kali, the Supreme's fastest power instrument, stopped the soul as it was flying away and forced it to return to my body."

"Even if Mother Kali hadn't come, wouldn't the Supreme have saved you Himself?" asked the disciple.

The Master smiled and said, "Where is the difference between the Supreme and Mahakali? They are inseparably one. Mahakali is, indeed, a supreme aspect of God the Divine Mother."

The birds

"Why did you have these kinds of accidents? Were there forces trying to harm you?" one young woman asked.

"I don't know," said the Master. "The bicycle accidents may have been caused by carelessness. Of course, I sometimes kept birds on my shoulders while riding and even tried playing a mouth organ."

"What kind of birds were they, Master?"

"They were parrots. They were so fond of me."

"Did they talk?" asked another disciple.

"Oh my God, how they talked! My sisters taught them how. Early in the morning the birds used to call 'Krishna, Krishna'. My sisters also taught them, chup, which means 'shut up'. The birds used to say this to my sisters when they had heated discussions.

"The first time I went back home to India after coming to America, I knocked at the door and called out to my sister. At the time I didn't know the birds were there, and one bird called back in a voice that sounded exactly like my own. I said, 'How is it that I am hearing my own voice?' I asked this very seriously thinking my sister was joking with me and imitating me. Then when I came inside, I called again, but only the birds were there."

"When the birds say spiritual words, can this help their evolution?" one young woman asked.

"Absolutely," the Master said. "In India my family has seven birds. At five o'clock in the morning, four or five will begin speaking, saying only spiritual words. They were taught by my eldest brother. First they say, 'Krishna, Krishna, Krishna', and then they say, Krishna katha kau, 'Krishna, speak.' This goes on and on. It never ends."

Divine mission protected

"Now I wish to tell you a juicy occult story which I heard many years ago from a very dear friend of mine. One morning at around one o'clock, while his brother was sleeping, in just a matter of four or five minutes my friend travelled from his place to another place eighteen miles away. How did he go? He just went there occultly.

"He had been very badly disgusted with the world for a few days so he went to the top of a mountain. He felt that real renunciation would take place there. He left practically everything except his wristwatch, which he thought perhaps he would need.

"After he had stayed on the mountain for one or two hours, he started to go back home. By this time it was about two o'clock or two-thirty. God alone knows. On the way home he had to cross a very high bridge. He said to himself, 'Since I am so disgusted with the world, let me jump off and end my life.'

"Believe it or not, he jumped off the bridge. But nothing happened to him, absolutely nothing. When he reached the water he felt as though he were just landing on a pillow. The noise of his landing startled three dogs and they started barking like anything, but he was not at all hurt. He simply got up out of the water. He was soaking wet, so he took off his shirt and walked the remaining two miles back home in his dhoti in an absolutely normal, human way.

"When he arrived home he knew that his brother wouldn't be getting up until five o'clock, so he just went into the washroom, took a shower and then later told his brother all about his experiences. His brother believed him because he had already seen many other demonstrations of his occult power.

"Afterwards, the young man crossed over that bridge at least five or six times to visit his friends or for other reasons. When he saw the bridge with his ordinary eyes, he would say, 'Oh my God! Did I really jump off this bridge?' Each time he thought back, it was a really frightening experience.

"At the end of his most fascinating story, my friend shared with me what he learnt from this most significant experience of his inner life. He said to me, 'My dear friend, when the divine forces protect you, you can come to no harm; nothing happens.'

"Let me tell you another quite fascinating incident-experience of his.

"Once he got on a train without a ticket or money. When he saw the conductor coming he got frightened and said to himself, 'Oh dear, the conductor will take away my wristwatch, or he may even throw me out of the train.'

"The train was travelling at quite a fast speed, forty miles per hour at least. But my friend just pushed open the window and jumped out of the speeding train. People saw him and they thought he would be killed. But they didn't see the paddy fields which the train was passing, about forty metres away from the tracks.

"Now, my friend couldn't jump this far. It is impossible. After practising for many years he could not even jump seven metres. As an athlete, his best performance was a little over six metres.

"Do you know what he did? When he leaped out the window of the train, he covered forty metres. At that time it was his occult power that carried him. And where did he land? He landed right in the paddy field, up to his knees in mud. He was not hurt at all. You people do not believe me at all, I know. But I tell you, I believe that friend of mine and I shall always believe him.

"He walked for half an hour or so and came to the bank of a small river and sat on a branch of a mango tree. The branch was bent down over the water and he was able to sit there and wash his feet. All the while, he was talking to his own spiritual Master like anything. They were having a wonderful conversation.

"At that time both his Master and he were concentrating on his sister. She was very worried, so the Master opened her third eye. And do you know what happened? She vividly heard their conversation and even saw what was going on. Four hours later, when he arrived home, she said to him, 'Sit down. I will tell you a story.' My friend sat down on the chair and she said, 'You were on the edge of a small river, and you and our Master were talking. I saw both of you there.'

"At the end of his most amazing story my friend said to me, 'Dear friend, in my previous incarnations I had literally hundreds of occult experiences. In this incarnation I am no longer a baby who is fond of his toys. I have something most important to do for God in this incarnation.'

"My spiritual children, I tell you, my friend was absolutely right. I tell you once and for all that occultism has nothing to do with the real achievements of spiritual height."

Why I don't use occult power openly

"So, my children," said the Master, "I have many, many stories like this. When people get occult powers, they use them like toys to see whether or not they are real."

"But Master," asked one disciple, "How is it that we have never seen you perform these kinds of miracles?"

The Master said, "Even the genuine Masters at times use their occult powers without being asked by God. Needless to say, later on they feel miserable. Then they take an oath that they will use occult powers only when God wants them to use these to fulfil His own purpose. Further, there are two significant reasons why they do not use occult powers. The first reason is that they must not try to break God's cosmic laws. The second reason, believe it or not, is that when they see that their children cannot use occult power, they themselves don't like to use it. When parents do something and the children say, 'Oh, we can't do it,' there is pain. Parents don't get any joy when their children can't do something that they are doing. So the parents don't openly do it.

"But inwardly, is there any day that spiritual Masters don't perform occult feats? In my case, sometimes I do twenty or thirty or more on the days that I am all alone. Sometimes I sit down for hours because I have so much to do. Outwardly I do absolutely nothing, but inwardly I do everything. For whom? For you, my spiritual children.

"I have shown my occult power to some disciples and done things which physical strength simply cannot do. Only spiritual strength can do them. Once, something got stuck and a few young disciples tried very hard but they could not open it with physical strength. In front of them I tapped it only three times and it opened. But really it was my occult power which opened it. This reminds me of an experience of a Master whom I knew in my last incarnation.

"One day this Master asked four of his strongest disciples to lift a statue and carry it to some other place. They could not carry it. They could not lift it properly. So he told them that he wanted to show his physical strength. He was playing with them, fooling them. Physically he was so thin, he couldn't even lift twenty or thirty kilos. If he had to lift thirty kilos, he would die. And God knows how many hundreds of kilos the statue weighed. But he said to his disciples, 'See, I am using my physical strength.' Then he just grabbed the statue and said in very endearing terms, 'Now, my dear child, if you don't come with your father, then whom will you come with?' He picked up the statue and carried it twenty metres. If you had asked him to lift twenty kilos, he would not have been able to do it, but in this case he moved the whole statue all by himself with his occult power. Then he playfully told his disciples, 'Look at my physical strength!'

"There is not a single disciple here upon whom I have not exercised occult and spiritual powers. But I sometimes have to wait for two years, four years or six years for his sincerity to develop before that person will admit it outwardly. On the inner plane those things are all known, but on the outer plane it takes time for them to be recognised.

"So first of all, spiritual Masters do not use occult power because it is not the Will of the Supreme for them to do so openly. Secondly, although spiritual Masters can use occult power, since their little brothers and sisters cannot use it, they feel sad, even though they know that this is not something ideal for them right now. If you have finished your meal, you can have your dessert. But if your little brother or sister who has not finished eating sees you, he will be sad and miserable that he cannot eat his cake yet. Out of your feeling of love and oneness you wait for him."

Punishment for a divine cause

"I have often inwardly used occult power. All spiritual Masters use occult power. One does not need to be a Master; if one is only a highly advanced seeker he can get occult powers. In my last incarnation, although I used these powers hundreds and thousands of times, I used them for punishing people only three or four times."

"Master," said a disciple, "you are so kind and compassionate. It's hard for us to believe that you punished people with your occult power."

"In those cases," explained the Master, "it was the Will of the Supreme. It was not just for the sake of punishing or out of malicious pleasure. It was absolutely for their own good."

"Do you feel like telling us a few of these stories from your past incarnation?"

The Master began, "Once someone was bothering me mercilessly. I used my occult power and frightened and threatened him. It was all fire, fire, fire."

"Master," asked one young man, "do you mean you were on fire or you just made fire around him?"

The Master explained, "He experienced fire and torture, unbearable torture. Occultists can create hell the way it is usually described. They can actually create hell. One can die there a hundred times in one minute, with the kind of torture they create. Worse, they can take your life-breath away for a minute or two or three. They can easily do it."

"Did you ever do that in your last life, Master?" asked a disciple.

"Not I personally. But I knew of one spiritual Master who had to take the life-force of somebody away. Why? There was a military man who had been boasting that he had killed so many people, hundreds and thousands of people. So the Master dropped a pencil on the floor and said, 'Just lift up this pencil.' The military man tried, but he could not lift it. Why? The Master had taken his life-energy away.

"But this is a most dangerous thing. If that particular Master had kept this up for five minutes — or not even five minutes, it can be a matter of one minute sometimes — then it could have been fatal.

"You know, children, once I used my occult power this way and lost my best friend, Ishwar. He was by far the strongest wrestler in our village. Nobody could come near him in strength. One day he insulted a few Indian sadhus. I said, 'Don't insult them.'

"He said, 'They are all fakes! They have no occult powers.'

"I said to him, 'One does not have to become a sadhu to have occult power.'

"He said, 'They are all fakes. Nobody has any occult power or spiritual power.'

"The following day I invited him to come to the village post office where I used to work. He came and was standing face-to-face with me. Then I said, 'Please stand against the wall. I will show you some occult power.' He was standing there laughing, but I knew what would happen. You won't believe it, but I was fully prepared. It took not more than twenty-five seconds. I used my strongest occult power from my third eye, and he fainted for perhaps ten minutes. When he came to he called me a rogue.

"Then he told his friends that I wanted to kill him. They wouldn't believe him. They said, "How could Rakhal kill you? He is so nice. You are his best friend.'

"Ishwar protested, 'Oh no, no! That rascal Rakhal really wanted to kill me.'

"From that day on, if he saw me coming toward him on the sidewalk, he would cross to the other side of the street. He used to curse me all the time because he thought I had wanted to kill him. So that is how I lost my best friend Ishwar. Show occult power and lose friends. It's absolutely true."

"Another time I wanted to punish my cousin. I came in late for dinner and she insulted me mercilessly. I was at least twenty metres away from her, but I said, 'Let me see you take one more step. Take a step.' She tried, but she could not do it. Her own mother was the witness. My cousin's anger and pride most helplessly surrendered.

"A few minutes later my four sisters and two brothers came home. I was still furious. I said to them, 'Come, this time I will really show you what occult power I have. I will turn human beings into sheep. You have read in our ancient scriptures that this is possible. Now your brother will show you. Let us go to the paddy field where there are a lot of people and I will show you my occult power. Khana has insulted me badly just because I came to eat late. I have already punished her. But I want to show you people the height of my occult power.'

"My brothers got mad at me. They said, 'Is this why God gave you this power?'

" 'Haven't you done enough to me already to prove it?' asked my cousin.

"I said, 'I could have continued if I had wanted, but you are so dear to me. When it is a matter of your love and affection, I know how much I owe you. Your anger was human. Mine was animal. I need your forgiveness.' Immediately she gave me her forgiving smile, which I most gratefully accepted."

Life-force goes away

"Master," asked a disciple, "can you tell us more stories about occultists taking away life-energy?"

The Master said, "The occultists not only take away life-energy, but with their will-power they can take away the life-force of a machine, a locomotive, anything. They can take power from whoever or whatever is going to run the machine. Indian sadhus have done this many, many times.

"In some cases they don't take away the life-energy of the machine. They can do another kind of trick. They enter into the brain of the operator and cause a real calamity. Or else, they can occultly use the controls of the machine to start and stop it.

"When the Indian sadhus are insulted by the police or by a conductor, they do this kind of thing. These sadhus are filthy dirty. They don't take baths and they don't have money. Their only wealth is a little bag of rice husk on which they will live for three or four days or even a week. The police feel that they are a nuisance. The police are so nasty. They just grab the sadhu's little bag of rice and toss it out of the train while it is running. Then the sadhus get very mad because this is all they have. They use their occult power and take away the energy from the train and it does not move at all.

"I know of two times when they have done it. Once I heard about it and when I concentrated on it, I saw that it was true. Another time I was watching at our train station when it happened. I saw a sadhu, a thin fellow, an old man of sixty years. He was insulted because a policeman had thrown his stick out of the train. The sadhu had come out of the train and was standing on the platform, very, very furious, and staring at the engineers. There were two engineers; one was the main engineer and the other was his assistant. The sadhu entered into the brain of the chief engineer and made him incapable of operating the train."

The disciples will know their future

"Enough!" said the Master. "I am sure you are tired of my marathon talk. Some other day ask me to tell you more occult stories, and I will be able to prove to you that still I know many, many more stories. I will write down a few words from my memory about each incident so that I will immediately be able to recall the stories one after the other when I sit down to tell them to you."

"Master," said one disciple, "it's still raining."

"Please don't stop now," said another disciple.

"Just a few more?" pleaded the disciples.

"One or two more I can tell you, about a spiritual Master who lived in India four hundred years ago.

"There was a spiritual Master who was disgusted with his disciples. He said, 'Soon I am going to tell all of you about your past incarnations and how far you will go in the spiritual life in this incarnation.'

"The Master said he would start early in the morning. It would take the whole day and God knows how many days more to complete the prophesies because the Master had quite a few thousand disciples. Although the Master never practised palmistry, he had said that the disciples would have to show their palm, and he would use his occult power to tell them about their future. He would tell them how far they had come in the spiritual life, what mark they would get for their present spiritual life — ten, twenty, forty or sixty per cent — and how far they would be able to go towards God-realisation. Everything would be said to them in a few seconds' time.

"The day after this announcement, all the disciples were in the seventh heaven of delight because they would know their future. Some had stayed with the Master for fifteen years, some twenty, some thirty, some even forty years. Now at last they would hear from their Master how far they could go in this incarnation.

"Everything was arranged. The day arrived and this cosmic game was about to start at ten o'clock. But another Master had come to know of the fortune-telling of this Master from one of his own disciples. This disciple accused his own Master, saying, 'You have never told us about our fate. We have served you in so many ways and you have not told us anything. Today our friend Gokul's Master will tell his disciples all about their future. We are going too. We don't need you.'

"The Master said, 'Yes, yes, you don't need me; that is true. But today a real calamity will take place, as soon as you people learn how far you will go and how far you have already come. Already I can't even manage my ashram because of your ego-problems. You people have made some people idols — you feel that they are so great, while others you feel are so inferior that it is beneath your dignity even to allow your feet to touch them. So if you hear how great you were or how great you will be, then there will be a real calamity. When Gokul's Master tells some people, 'You are this and you are going to be that,' he will really create most serious problems not only for all of you but for himself as well. But I must go and save Gokul's Master. Let me personally go to Gokul's Master and give him some advice.'

"The Master arrived at the ashram of Gokul's Master. He wanted to advise him. Gokul's Master said to him immediately, 'I don't need your advice. After all, it is none of your business. I shall deal with my disciples; you deal with yours. Mind your own business. I shall deal with my disciples in my own way. Obviously, you do not have any occult power, and you are afraid that once your disciples come to me to know their future, you will lose them all. Indeed, you are poor but clever. Anyway, I forgive you. You stay with your children. But for God's sake, you must not enter into my domain, the occult domain. In the occult world, you are a beggar and I am a prince. A beggar cannot be a chooser.'

"But the disciples never did hear their futures that day because Gokul's Master was so badly humiliated by the other Master's reply. 'I tell you, this beggar is a chooser,' he said, pointing to himself, 'He will choose only the Divine. He will choose the real, eternal and absolute Supreme.' "

Levitation miracle

One disciple, who was an amateur magician said, "Master, you haven't yet told us any stories about levitation."

The Master said, "Even now, in this incarnation, when I think of my previous incarnation, I get such an emotional thrill. In front of many people I used to clap my hands and rise up into the air or disappear. I can't do it in this incarnation because of my tremendous weight. In my previous incarnation I was very light. That is why I am asking all of you to lose weight. If you lose weight, then easily you can try!"

"Master," said one disciple, "can you tell us where this power comes from?"

"There are eight main siddhis, or supernatural powers: Anima (subtleness), Laghima (lightness), Mahima (greatness), Prapti (attainments), Prakamya (indomitable will-power), Isita (superiority), Vasita (self-control), Kamavasayita (control of passion). Inside these main siddhis there are at least one hundred more siddhis. What you call levitation is the second of the siddhis. When you get this siddhi, instead of becoming a fake magician, you will be able to become a genuine magician. The first siddhi makes the body as subtle as possible so it can disappear; that is called anima. So when the eight siddhis come, anima and laghima usually come first. They are at once the easiest and the most effective of the eight siddhis. What did some of the Christian mystics do? Brother Lawrence used to levitate while cooking. He used to float up to the ceiling of the kitchen. Believe it or not, there are many Indian sadhus who can do the levitation-miracle quite easily.

Is purity necessary for occult power?

"I tell you, children, this will be my absolutely last occult story.

"Two hundred years ago at a spiritual community in India, a Master was walking in the playground. Some young men told their Master that they were very eager to have occult powers. So the Master said, 'I can tell you what to do. If you can conquer two things, I will immediately give you occult power.' Three or four of the boys stepped forward. The Master continued, 'The first thing you have to conquer is fear.'

"The boys thought, 'Oh, that is nothing!' For young men to conquer fear is nothing. They are all soldiers. They can conquer fear sooner than at once.

"The Master's second request, they unfortunately had difficulty accepting. He said, 'You have to conquer your sex-life, totally.' They looked at each other. No one wanted to give this up. And there it stopped.

"But this request was not valid. There are many occultists — especially those who practise black magic — who don't care for that kind of purity. They just use their tremendous vital will-power and get occult powers. The lower vital does not have to be purified in order to get occult power. The Master just told them this to keep them from trying to develop these powers. He didn't teach them, so they didn't learn, and in that way he saved them from possible danger. He was undoubtedly wise. Let us all be wise like him."

Editor's preface

Here are thirteen stories about the use and misuse of occult powers, told in a charmingly intimate way by Sri Chinmoy, who is himself a master of all these powers. "One rainy night about eighty years ago," begins the first story, but more than a dozen of Sri Chinmoy's disciples will remember one rainy night not very long ago when their Master told them all these delightful stories. Some of these tales will strike the Western reader as strange and barely credible. But the kinds of incidents recounted here are not uncommon in the inner world, and many of these Sri Chinmoy has come to know of firsthand, so to speak, through his occult vision.

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