Blueprints for Awakening is for everyone who has an inner passion to know who they are and what they are doing here as a human being.
It is for all who ask the question ‘Who am I?’ and for those who are looking for guidance on the teaching of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi to ‘be as you are’.
In India he is regarded as a Saint and many consider him the most important guru of recent times: Sri Ramana Maharshi, simply called Bhagavan, God, by his devotees.
John David has succeeded in coaxing seven important Indian Masters to speak into his microphone. He asks each of them the same set of questions about the teachings of their fellow Master, Sri Ramana. The result is a compendium of astonishing wisdom about the biggest secret of all times: the nature of our true self and how to realise it.
About the Author
John David spent fifteen years with his first Master, Osho, and five years with the great Advaita Master H.W.L. Poonja, a direct disciple of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Here his search came to an end and these years brought immense understanding and wisdom.
His deep love for India and Sri Ramana maharshi led him to meet and befriend many Indian Saints and Masters, collecting rare interviews to be found in the two volumes of this book and its companion films.
Currently he is based in the Open sky House, International spiritual and arts communities in Germany, Ukraina and Spain, where he holds regular Meetings and retreats. The meeting are broadcast live on the internet through SatTv three evening a week.
He is painter, author and filmmaker. His books and films include Papaji- Amazing Grace, Arunachala Talks, Blueprints for Awakeing- European Masters, Arunachala Shiva, Satori- Metamorphosis of an Awakening and the Great Misunderstanding.
Blueprints for Awakening is for everyone who has an inner passion to know who they are and what they are doing here as a human being. It is for all who ask the question 'Who am I?' and for those who are looking for guidance on the teaching of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi to 'be as you are'. It covers the main issues that arise on a spiritual seeker's journey to awakening to their essential nature, to Truth. It delves into the fascinating depths of the Indian spiritual tradition, and, in that sense, it follows in the footsteps of the famous book by Paul Brunton, A Search in Secret India.
Twelve questions have been asked of fourteen Indian Masters who crossed my path from 2003 to 2007. I published these interviews in the form of a book and film in 2008, Blueprints for Awakening - Indian Masters. After the success of the first edition, I decided to bring out this revised version of the book, dividing the original for easy use into two volumes.
This book is the first volume, containing the interviews with the Masters Sri Hans Raj Maharaj, Ajja, Ramesh Balsekar, Sri Brahmam, D.B. Gangolli, Rhada Ma and Swami Satchidananda.
Volume two contains Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Ganesan, Kiran, Sri Nannagaru, Swamini Pramananda, Ma Souris and Thuli Baba.
When initiating the interviews I did not approach the Masters as a seeker but rather as a teacher wishing to clarify my own understanding and to offer a platform for each Master to give his or her blueprint to be put out into the world. A world in great need, and, hopefully, a world where these teachings will find a receptive audience. The questions are referenced to Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings, even though the intention is for each Master to express his or her own teaching blueprint. Naturally, there is no actual blueprint as each person's spiritual journey is unique.
My own Master was Papaji, who met his Master, Sri Ramana Maharshi, in the 1940s. Sri Ramana came into my life through an original Welling portrait that I found in a pile of debris in a room I had rented in the years before I met Papaji. During my five years with Papaji he greeted a photograph of Sri Ramana every morning, and on occasion said that he spoke as a channel for him. In the last twenty years many Western Advaita teachers have begun teaching in the world, and Sri Ramana Maharshi is the spiritual inspiration for most of them.
The idea for this book, and particularly the films, came to me in 1993, while living in Lucknow, North India, in the sangha (spiritual community) of my Master, Papaji. One day I received an inner message or vision telling me to go and catch the great Indian Masters on film before they were lost to the world. I was deeply touched, but had no idea how to carry out such a task. Ten years later, after five years living in Australia, I was on my way to Europe. In between I took a personal retreat of one year in southern India, in Tiruvannamalai, at the holy mountain, Arunachala.
During my stay I made a series of interviews with David Godman, the well known editor of Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings published as Be as You Are, and author of other important books on Indian gurus.
The interviews were about the life, teachings and devotees of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. These interviews were published by Open Sky Press in 2009 as Arunachala Shiva. During our dialogues, David insisted that Ramana's greatness came from the fact that his mind had been destroyed (manonasa), and that he spoke from the Self, like a wireless. While being sympathetic to this notion I had doubts about whether it was possible to be alive and have a destroyed mind. This short excerpt from David Godman in Arunachala Shiva sparked my curiosity and was the seed from which this book grew.
As this notion is also believed by many of the world's seekers, such as Buddhist monks searching for no-mind, I had the idea to approach different Masters and ask them what they thought about this issue.
Of the Masters in this volume, several of them are already well known in the world, like Sri Hans Raj Maharaj and Ramesh Balsekar. Others are less well known, such as Sri Brahmam and Ajja, while Radha Ma would have been surprised to hear herself referred to as a Master. Swami Satchidananda was a follower of Papa Ramdas running the large Anandashram in Kerala. It is lovely to have Radha Ma in the book, with her female expression.
Several of the Masters became dear friends who graciously allowed me to introduce many people to them during my annual Arunachala Pilgrimage Retreat, which has run since 2000. Since the beginning of the project several of the Masters have left their bodies. During my retreat we visit their ashrams, where their power is still strong, and where we can connect to their energy. Additional material gathered at these later meetings has been included with the original interviews.
The basic structure of each interview uses the same twelve questions (see Interview Questions in the front of the book). However, being with an Indian Master is very different from asking a professor to explain his teaching. In each interview there was the strong energy of the Master's presence and often he or she was surrounded by a large group of devotees. In the very first interviews the questions were not yet firmly set. Later, questions were added and further questions were asked spontaneously to illuminate an answer, leading to many exceptions to the basic twelve-question structure.
Writing about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, or any great sage, is like celebrating the magnificent embodiment of the eternal, formless, absolute existence. They are such beautiful icons, where nature or God seems to have excelled its own excellence. When a majestic mountain range or a vast expanse of blue ocean can throw us back into ourselves without our knowledge, the great sages, with their living, their action, their speech and their every movement, can consciously take us to the same place.
One such sage in recent times was Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. As time passes, many great sages become legendary, almost to the point of becoming mythological; as the average man cannot even comprehend the possibility of the infinite wisdom they lived and loved as their own true nature. Slowly and steadily, Ramana Maharshi too shall be part of that legend, but at this moment in history he is still fresh in the minds of many as he was alive and well sixty-five years ago, to be exact! There are still some people, children in those days, to whom Bhagavan appeared as a loving grandfather figure. They enjoyed the whole atmosphere around Sri Ramana without realising the mighty presence that he was, is and shall always be.
Though attempts have been made to present Sri Ramana as a very exclusive phenomenon, everything about him showed the possibility of every person understanding the Truth that he realised as a tender teenager. He was ever ordinary, commonplace, simple and innocent, which is a natural expression of an extra-ordinary yet commonplace existence! Whether in the caves, in the solitary confinement of the temple premises, in the ashram, in the kitchen, interacting with the cowherds, playing with children, playing with cow Laxmi, feeding the monkeys, or discoursing with very learned and orthodox minds or secular people, he was always himself - the unhurried, the ever restful, the quiet, overwhelming presence.
That is why the memories and memoirs are full of such lovingly tender human anecdotes where Sri Ramana never made any attempt to make himself exclusive or dismissed anything frivolously. Never was there an attempt on his part to erase any part of his life or to whitewash everything as pure and sacred. He was a child from a faraway village in Tamil Nadu, growing up in a town called Madurai, exposed the timeless traditions of sanatana dharma (Hinduism) in the temp celebrations and in his loving family.
Curious to know about death, the innocent youngster puts himself into physical stillness, leading ultimately to stillness within, where everything appears to subside, yet a Presence continues without any movement at the level of thought and the body. The incident had an unforgettable impact on the innocent youngster who held and maintained it. It was only later he found the description of that state in the lives and the writings of great saints.
The immediate family, and the great tradition which talks about renunciation, vision, realisation, wisdom, the sages and the exploits of gods in all names and forms, drew the youngster to Arunacha Mountain in Tiruvannamalai. As they say, the rest is history. Spending days, months and years in solitude, he found the reflections of his understanding in the writings of many sages, gloriously described in rich Tamil and Sanskrit literature.
Later on, with the little formal education that he had before undertaking this great pilgrimage, Sri Ramana went on to master mar languages to express his vision, the Self that he was, is and shall always be. His modes of expression in different languages were shaped not only by the great Tamil saints but also by the writings of Adi Shankara. He was already aware of the Truth before learning to express it in any language.
In the great teaching tradition of the Upanishads (ancient India scriptures), the scriptures and teachers just 'point out' the Truth, the knowledge, the experience that every person always 'is', but is never aware of. The greatness and the blessing Bhagavan Ramana had as youngster was to hold onto and maintains that something that everybody 'is' all the time but never gives any importance to. When somebody finds 'it', it is not even 'near' as it is ones own self. When somebody looks for 'it', it is always far away as one is denying it as one's own Self by looking for it. One who does not look for it never finds it, either.
Bhagavan Ramana himself would never have opened his mouth to speak, or attempted to write, had he supported the idea that no teacher, teaching, realising or thinking is needed to appreciate one's own Self. He himself was an exceptional young man to be in touch with himself accidentally, and to maintain this, but he was supremely ordinary enough to acknowledge the human need to be taught, and therefore was a compassionate teacher in his living, speaking and writing. In his day-to-day dialogue he was always hitting the bull's eye, directly moving into the ‘I’. He has taken extraordinary care in his writings to deal with problems faced by the average man in the relative world. He was indeed a great blossom in the living tradition of teaching.
The beauty of the timeless tradition of the ancient wisdom, still alive in India, is that no teacher or guru considers himself or herself in any way exclusive. The Truth is eternal and nobody 'creates' it. Since the Truth is timeless, and therefore exiting at all times, in all places, in and through everything, it is the nature of every existing object, sentient and insentient. Hence, nobody can 'give' it to another. It is already the nature of everything and everybody.
But not many are aware of this. Everybody can grasp that they are ignorant about the world, but not many can grasp that there is ignorance about one's own Self. We question the perceptions or experiences but never question the perceiver or the experiencer. If questioning or challenging the perceptions marks the beginning of science, then challenging 'the perceiver', the 'I', marks the beginning of real thinking where the thinker himself is challenged. There are millions of people who never question their perceptions, but there are billions who never question the perceiver, the thoughts or the thinker. As a result, the vast majority of human beings live under the spell of ignorance.
This ignorance is of two kinds - ignorance about the relative, the objective world, and ignorance about the subject, the absolute. It is easier to grasp the first kind of ignorance as everybody encounters the objective world every day. Though we 'experience' objects directly through our senses, still we do not 'know' those objects. The experience may be effortless - one may see a tree, a mountain, an ocean or a person, but unless it is named, nobody 'knows' which tree, mountain, ocean or person one experienced. The more creation is explored and named, the more aware a person become of this ignorance about many things.
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