gatineau morning.

gatineau morning.
photo by douglas mcarthur.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


A friend of mine called me 'an arrogant prick.'

Now, I know what 'prick' refers to and I just didn't feel comfortable with it.  Firstly, that's anatomically nonsensical.  For another, I've been rather reserved, retiring, even repressed in that regard.  I've kept myself pretty much under wraps, so to speak, which may account for a couple of small problems I'm experiencing at this point in my life.  Of course, she would not have had occassion to know all that.  But, to be fair, especially if we ignore the genital reference entirely, as we should, the lady was really saying I'm arrogant or saying that I'm really arrogant; a label that this particular portion of this particular blog offering appears to confirm.

My friend sent me an email asking the question: 'How does one know that the spiritual experience, that leads one to conclude that everything is an illusion, is not just another illusion?'  Unfortunately, she did not like my answer.  In fact, she was clearly offended by my answer and, as I've already harped upon, she called me 'an arrogant prick.' 

Be that as it may, I will leave it up to you, my respected readers, to decide the matter for yourselves.  I've been told that it's almost impossible for anyone other than a seasoned computer geek with no life to figure out how to leave a commnet on this site.  I can't help you with that since I haven't figured it out either.  Perhaps it's just as well.  Because here is my offending answer to her innocent question:  'Simply put, someone who has actually had the spiritual experience that you are referring to would not feel any need to ask that question.'  If you do succeed in leaving a comment, I promise that I won't call you arrogant.   

When I received my good friend's not-so-good-friend-type response, comparing me to a penis with issues, I wrote:  'In that case, I would humbly suggest you ask your questions to someone who will give you the answers you're wanting.'  However, as an afterthought, and considering the reaction my answer illicited from such a good friend, I decided to seek out the opinion of my beloved Guruji.  What follows here is a partial transcript of his response.

Hansraj:  Thank you Swamiji.  It's a beautiful morning to be sitting here in the sun with you and everyone.  I recently received a question from a lady in Wakefield, which of course I answered.  However, she didn't like my answer.  (ripples of laughter.)  In fact, not only did she not like my answer, she seemed to be quite offended by it.  (laughter.)  In fact, she said I was an arrogant something-or-other.  (more laughter.)  So I decided that I'd like to see what you have to say about it.  Would that be alright? 

Swamiji:  Yes.  Would you all like to hear it?  (much laughter and eager applause.)

Hansraj:  The question, Swamiji, was: 'How do you know that the spiritual experience that makes one conclude the world is an illusion is not just another illusion?'  And my answer was:  'Simply put, if one has actually had the spiritual experience you are referring to, one would not have any need to ask that question.'

Swamiji:  What she has said is all correct.  A spiritual person has that experience that this world is an illusion.  She asked if that experience might be an illusion.  I say yes.  Why?  The spiritual person is the one who never knows illusion or disillusion.  Only then is he really spiritual. 

Hansraj:  Beautiful.

Swamiji:  So she has every right to be offended by you.  (huge laughter.)

Hansraj:  I was afraid you'd say that.  (huge laughter.) 

Swamiji:  But I am not offended.  Because she is, you are, just me.  She is not an illusory figure for me.  Neither are you an illusory figure incarnated for me.  Both of you were not when I had been.  Both of you are when I am.  Both of you, according to your knowledge, will not be, but I will still be.  That I is not spiritual.  That I is not material or physical.  And people are trying to be logical, figuring that if there is an I, then there must be a you.  And they have no way to check that you say I and I say I.  Why should I say you and why do you say you if I alone am?  And that is where the difficulty is, not with animals, not with birds, not with trees and not with mountains or oceans.  the difficulty is only with man who is not now a child.  There is also no difficulty with a child.  They are neither knowledgeable of I or knowledgeable of you.  So they have no sense of otherness, sense of duality or sense of doubt.  And a spiritual person in reality is that one who does not have the knowledge of spirit or the knowledge of material.  The word spiritual is mental.  The word material is mental.  And when mind is not there, why is it illusion?  Everyone says mind is illusion.  And mind makes the world, so world is illusion.  Illusion never existed.  Illusion is an illusion.  (laughter.)  So why does one have to say you need an experience to remove illusion?  (laughter.) 

Hansraj:  That's a great point.

Swamiji:  Thank you. 

Hansraj:  I would just like to add, Swamiji, that she also wrote; 'Swami Shyam would not have answered me like that.'  (raucus laughter.) 

Swamiji:  We are stuck with the knowledge we are taught.  And now you've brought that bundle in your heart and mind.  It's sort of frozen there.  And you don't really want to get it melted.  And your need is for someone to have a fire and melt it for you.  But, you are mentally so frozen that you want to retain that frozen entity.  And that has been our work, to melt it.  Of course, I have never blamed you for that.  Whatever you have been taught, I respect.  Whatever you are selling, I respect.  Whatever you are buying, I respect.  But, I am also a good salesman.  I sell that property nobody can see and you have to pay for that.  That's why I said to Joey yesterday that we are both good salesmen.  Because a good salesman will never offend a buyer.  He will find a way to sell the product.  And I have taken forty years to sell it.  And you are busy with buying it.  Nobody got offended or said: 'Swamiji, I will not buy it.'  Why?  I'm not selling a commodity.  Commodities are material.  I am not selling something made of earth, fire, water or air.  Your mind is not material.  But, the source of the mind, since it is not apparent or known to the mind, gets associated with the senses and organs and the world. 

I always tell you, and I want to tell you again right now, that you do have the capacity to transcend the senses, transcend the mind, the ego, intellect and become truly spiritual.  (loud applause.)


  1. It doesn't seem so hard to post a comment. Great post, Nathan! Thanks!

  2. 'If you have to ask the question you would not understand the answer,' is one of those lovely cryptic lines that keep intellectual jokers happy. 'if you have to ask the price, I know you will not be able to afford the Cadillac,' is another. 'If I tell you that, then I will have to kill you.' the James Bond answer. Maybe following hard on the Wilileaks scandal we should say 'If I tell you that, I'll have to kill myself.'

    The 'illusion' nonsense keeps Gurus and Swamis at work and keeps others shelling out hard earned dollars. the final enigma. 'It's all an illusion, including my answer' is a lovely conundrum to hide behind and to keep them all guessing.

    Obviously, if you can't understand the answer to a spiritual question then it's not the truth. 'Be still, and know God' for example is clear to all and is therefore a great Truth.

    Arrogant prick is a British expression that got mis-pronounced on its way over. The original is 'arrogant prig' - which makes a whole lot more sense. A prick I suppose can be arrogant in that it continues to stand tall even if rebuffed by a woman who had summoned its rectitude in the first place. And this dear nathan is what happened to you. She invited you to rectitude and you still stand tall after the rebuff. so i must concur that you are an arrogant prick - but a lovely one too!


  3. The answer you gave, while true in a sense, denied her existence and in that way exhibited a degree of arrogance, yes - because, at the same time, you did not answer her question as by treating her as equal (in potential at least). But then the question concerning "the illusion" cannot be dismissed because there is that within or upon which "illusion" arises so the concept of illusion is not nonsense either. Likewise "be still and know God" is also an illusion because there is no "knowing (of or in) God" either. If one persists in aspiring to the knowledge of/as God then there is rejection of all illusion to be replaced by the illusion of "I am that from which all derives" which is of course an immediate "downer" because that puts one straight away in the "driver's seat" of ultimate responsibility cf Avalokiteshvara (Heart Sutra) to be overwhelmed by compassion arising from the certain knowledge that you yourself are the drop of water initiating the river of pain that flows into the "sea of life". Where is God in all this? God is hidden within the blank space immediately prior to any illusion whatsoever and can therefore never be directly experienced and reported back to "the world" because that region is quite beyond consciousness so-defined because it (the blank space) cannot be recalled quite simply because it is not within consciousness. It is something alone, having the capacity to support illusion or "discrimination" as the Buddha might have it. goldenages

  4. I like what the Swami said about the need to melt the "frozen bundle" in our hearts and minds which comes from the knowledge that we are taught, and I assume, the different experiences we have had. I don't take that to mean that all that knowledge and experience must be rejected. Rather, that through a process such as meditation, prayer, compassionate work, pyschotherapy or whatever, that our own frozen bundle can be "melted" and known and we can begin to love ourselves as the first step in loving others.

  5. Well, yes, I can certainly agree with what JUSTBREATHE says because one way to approach “the blank space” (God) is just exactly to melt the “frozen bundle” by whatever means is appropriate [meditation, prayer, compassionate work, psychotherapy or whatever]. When this (very difficult) feat is accomplished then and only then is “all that knowledge and experience” automatically discharged into the Divine (in whatever sense this is perceived or understood). In that self-same instance one is exposed to comprehending the nature thereof as an unsurpassed and continually expanding unity.

    It is that from which both the mind and the immediately dependent world (the illusion of an external surround) arise. Thus is the world an illusion, consistent to the finest (or most gross) detail that it, the mind can conceive of because, after all, it is looking at itself.

  6. First of all Hansraj, your sense of humor is unbelievable - I remember that interaction and it was hilarious and a large part of it was because you left whatever ego you had invested in this parked far around the bend.

    The lady's question was excellent and my take is that an experience of an experience is no more valid than the first experience. All we are doing is trying to get to a place where there's neither subject nor object and so, she's right that there's little truth in making one object the subject of another object. My understanding is that on a word level, on an experience level, it will never be "Truth" - but you can shave layers of untruth and give that light a chance to pierce through. Maintaining the reality and solidity of the world is in this sense, an impediment and the view of that solidity as illusory is helpful, even if it indeed is not reality itself.

    I salute you for writing Hansraj, and writing so well - my experience is that pretty much every time I try I offend someone (you probably owes me royalties when it comes to penis references). And so, I apologize ahead of time :-)

    Excellent comments, keep well.