THE PATH OF THE MASTERS by Dr. Julian Johnson has made a unique
contribution to the spread of Sant Mat across the world. A universal path of action taught by spiritual masters, Sant Mat enables people to experience divine reality within themselves, irrespective of their religion or cultural affiliations.
The attentive reader may find that some of Dr. Johnson's opinions have been stated in an extreme manner. Perhaps his tone and language will appear patronizing when looked at through the lens of a modern global awareness of religious and cultural history. If we step back, we realize that like all of us, Dr. Johnson was a man of his times, yet he was also a man of logic and reason who rejected blind faith. His background and the many events of his life that started his search and eventually led him to India are described in brief in the Preface.
Throughout his life Dr. Johnson searched for God. He quotes Swami Vivekananda: "The end of all religions is the realization of God:' Dr. Johnson sought that realization. He wanted it demonstrable as any other science, universally applicable to all humanity, not distorted by superstition that was unbefitting to a scientific age, not limited to some people and inaccessible to others. Most importantly he sought spiritual reality he could experience here and now in this very life. He could not find it in religion, he could not find it in other philosophies, he could not find anyone among the priests and clergy, the academics or philosophers, who could answer his questions or point out a way that made sense to him. Nothing short of personal experience would satisfy him. In his restless searching he had lived a full and rich life, knowing many ups and downs. After some seventy years, after giving up a very successful worldly position and travelling halfway across the world by sea and by land, he now had found the guide and the path he sought. Is it any wonder that he expressed himself so passionately and aggressively! Yet The Path of the Masters has withstood the passage of time with its detailed presentation of the inner way. Perhaps it is the sheer forcefulness, fearlessness and
integrity of Dr. Johnson's experience that has carried his message across the years irrespective of other concerns.
True spiritual masters always teach that it would be arrogant of them to say there is only one path; there will be different perspectives and different viewpoints always. This is the reality of our world. The masters themselves have always had a healthy respect for other points of view whether they agree with Sant Mat or not, and have always upheld the right of individuals to realize for themselves what is real. The way of devotion, the subject of the book, is the way of love. It is timeless. It is accessible to all. We are pleased to present this seventeenth edition in the hope that Dr. Johnson's passionate labor of love will continue to guide spiritual seekers in the masters' path.
DR. JULIAN JOHNSON wrote The Path of the Masters under the specific
instructions and guidance of his Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, to
communicate the timeless teachings of the Masters to the Occidental
world. If some of his personal statements seem strange to the modern
reader, it is a measure of the way the world has changed since the book was written. His personal views lend their flavor to the style of the book, and for this reason it may be helpful to glance briefly at his life and background to understand his perspective.
Julian Johnson was born in the southern part of the United States of America in the latter half of the nineteenth century, his father having served in the Union army in the Civil War. As a child he experienced a hard and demanding life, ruled first by his father and then by his stepfather with the stick and the threat of hell-fire and damnation. His conventional education was squeezed between rigorous duties in both home and farm, and was not given much importance. His autobiography, however, reveals that he possessed certain distinctive characteristics from his earliest childhood, and these served to shape the course of his rich and varied life.
Dr. Johnson demonstrated a fiercely independent mind, and preferred to depend for knowledge and understanding on his own observations and experience rather than on hearsay or the dictums and dogmas of others. He combined this independence with a high level of idealism and an intense and insatiable desire for knowledge. His lifelong search for truth led him to pursue all manner of activities and professions, and included several periods of study and introspection. His life was one of extremes-time and again throwing himself wholeheartedly into a chosen field, exploring it with passion and thoroughness, and then abandoning it and searching elsewhere when he could not find the satisfaction he craved.
The very first job he chose for himself as a teenager was that of a cowboy on the great prairie lands of America, mastering the art of the lasso and the six-shooter. It was not long before he realized that he did not want to spend his life as nursemaid to herds of steer. Instead he decided to educate himself and worked his way through school. Influenced by his association with two ministers, he too became a licensed preacher of the Baptist Church, although he was not yet twenty years old. After a few years of preaching he became disillusioned and dissatisfied with what he perceived as "a daily round of activities designed to keep the physical body going until old age and the grave claim it:' He was convinced there must be something more to life-some higher purpose in being human-and
so he turned to more education in the hope that he would discover the nature of this calling.
After several years spent in earnest study-this time in college-he was still dissatisfied. He records that he felt the college process of education to be overconcerned with words-words and ever more words-which rarely touched on the substance of the matter. He craved that personal and experiential knowledge which leaves no room for doubt. He decided to travel to India as a missionary-to go to the Orient to convert the heathen. At this stage of his life he perceived himself to be a superior, civilized person, an acknowledged member of the Christian Church, possessing the incontrovertible right to salvation and entry into the kingdom of God. In his eyes all non-Christians were heathen, and unless they were presented
with an opportunity to hear and receive the teachings of Jesus, they
would be barred forever from the gates of heaven and salvation.
During his three years in India, contrary to his expectations, his belief in both himself and the exclusive infallibility of his religion was profoundly shaken. Circumstances brought him into contact with people who, he realized, were of superior education and spiritual understanding, and these were the very people he had been thinking of as inferior and heathen. He came to understand the superficial nature of most religious conversions, particularly among the poor and illiterate, who seemed to gain little other than to substitute one set of rituals for another. He came across the doctrine of Theosophy which, as an orthodox Baptist minister, he would previously have perceived as the workings of the devil. Now he had to acknowledge to himself that it was both reasonable and rational in its approach.
After three years he was obliged to return to America on account of the ill-health of his wife. He likened himself to "a punctured tire, deflated and flat, barely able to keep on going down the road of life:' Suddenly he was questioning deeply all the dogmas and beliefs which he had hitherto taken for granted and upon which he had based his life. Once again he decided to search for answers through study and scholarship, and he returned to university-this time to study theology and philosophy. At the end of five years he still was no wiser, had found no answers, and described himself as "a child lost in the wilderness, with a roll of diplomas under his arm:'
Circumstances led him to question ever more rigorously the role played by orthodox religions in people's lives. Finally he had come to the conclusion that they "command the very innermost impulses of mind and heart, throttling every free movement ... driving one like a horse hitched to the chariot of dogmas, with the priest holding the reins:' After his first marriage ended in divorce, Dr. Johnson and a colleague from the university decided to marry and spend their remaining lives together. When the lady in question came to know of his previous divorce, she decided against their marriage on the basis of her religious sentiments. On another occasion he came to know that he had been turned down from the post of preacher, or minister, in a suburban parish on account of his manner of dress. Such incidents served only to reinforce his growing conviction that orthodox religion was not concerned so much with spiritual and transcendent realities as with the mundane protocols of society.
As a matter of principle he resigned as a minister of the Baptist Church and returned his ordination papers. He then decided to study medicine so that he could continue to serve humanity. Once again he returned to college, but this time to acquire practical knowledge. By now he was becoming increasingly convinced that those ideals which he had searched so intensely to fulfill through earthly activities and relationships could only be realized by transcending the physical plane and searching in the realm of the soul. He was now certain that there was a higher wisdom to be known, but the question was how and where to find it. During the subsequent years he never lost sight of his primary goal to find and acquire this wisdom, notwithstanding the considerable wealth and success he achieved at the worldly level Once he qualified as a doctor, he set up a private practice, which proved both successful and lucrative, and he also went on to learn how to fly, bought four planes, and established his own private airline.
These were the 1920's-the years between the two world wars- years of intense social and political activity with much of the world in a state of ferment. Dr. Johnson had long been convinced of the idea that there was a deep power, or force, which arises within humanity from time to time to awaken man to his higher self and bring him into an age of enlightenment. This very subject had been the substance of his final thesis at university after his return from India. Having tried to find fulfillment on his own through every conceivable means known to him, he now began to feel the need of a teacher. He began to search in earnest for a Master, an enlightened being who, by embodying in himself this force of truth and knowledge, would be able to guide him to self-knowledge and happiness. Being a man of his times he linked his ideas of a spiritual renaissance with Gobineau's theory of the superior nature of the Aryan peoples, a theory which was being given much attention in
those days. The doctrine was discredited later when it was used by Hitler as a justification for his appalling anti-Semitic obsession, but when Dr. Johnson was searching for the way to truth, those terrible events had not yet taken place.
They were days of rapid developments in all the fields of science. The atmosphere of intellectual ferment, of scientific progress and discovery, combined with Johnson's own unflagging zeal for knowledge to reinforce his optimism about the imminent glorious future of mankind. This optimism was validated for him when he finally met his Master and saw, with his own eyes, a living example of his aspirations for all mankind.
'THE SUBJECT MATTER of this book is so important, so far-reaching and revolutionary, that the task of presenting it properly appears to be an undertaking beyond the powers of any ordinary man. The writer realizes his lack of complete competency. But the message of The Masters had to be given to the world at this time, in the English Language, and no one appeared who was better qualified. To have evaded the responsibility would have been to shirk a plain duty. After years of careful study, in close association with the Great Master, besides much time spent with advanced and learned disciples of 'The Master, this duty was assigned to me as if by common consent.
I wish to record my obligations and thanks to those noble souls who have given so much help, and who have been to me personally very great inspiration. They all reflect the light of the Masters. They all go to make up that grand galaxy of spiritual luminaries pointing The starry way to higher worlds beyond all stars. These men are not Only learned in the lore of this path, but they are quite familiar with the various systems of Indian philosophy and religion; and hence are able to make intelligent discrimination between all of them and This path of the Masters. They themselves have chosen this path not blindly but in full light of knowledge. With their collaboration, this work has been carried forward to completion.
It must be said here, as well as in the heart of this book, that this Is not another phase of Hindu philosophy. Neither is it Vedantism. It is none of the schools and cults of India. This is not a cult, nor is it even a religion, in the historic sense of that term. What is it? It is scientific method of entering and realizing the kingdom of heaven while still living here in the human body. That is the sum and the substance of this book. Is that too much to expect? No. It can be done, and this book points the way. That is the great work of all the Masters and saints of all ages. In this book, for the first time in history, the complete story of the Masters' scientific path is given to the world in the English language, by one who was born among the English-speaking people. It is, therefore, written from the Western
viewpoint. The Master now wishes to meet the demands of that ever- growing number of students who will not be satisfied with formal and ceremonial religion. In this age of scientific achievement, the Master wishes to offer a spiritual system of self-realization and of God realization which meets every demand of science. For the first time a definite method or science is given to the English-speaking world, which shows the aspiring and yearning soul just how to enter and possess that kingdom of heaven spoken of by all prophets and all religions. Many books give hints, but they describe no definite method by which anyone may rise to the highest heavens during this life. Most of them cannot do so, because they themselves have neither the knowledge nor the method. Only the Masters have it, and this is the first time that they felt that the time was ripe for a general distribution of such a large portion of their science.
For centuries men have been told that they themselves are the temples of God. But they have not been shown exactly how to enter those temples and there to meet God. This system offers the method. It gives the key to that temple. It bids the student open the door and enter. Ever since men began to speculate concerning what lies out beyond death, mankind has stood silent at the graves of its loved ones, shuddering at 'the dark unknown'. But to the Masters and their students there is no dark unknown. They know what comes after death as well as they know any ordinary fact of this life. How? Because the Master and his advanced students are able at will to pass through the gates of death, to see what is there, and then return to normal life at any time and as often as they wish. Thus they have, while still living in the body, conquered the last enemy.
Whenever men have started to think and reflect upon the human condition, they have found themselves drifting with the tides, helpless victims of a thousand ills, driven by apparently blind forces, obstructed and harassed at every turn, wounded and bleeding, heartsick and weary; and there has been but precious little they could do to change the situation. Who has not realized his inability to cope with the thousand and one enemies constantly besetting his path? But the Masters and their disciples are not so helpless. They are not like the chaff driven by the winds. A Master is a Master indeed. He controls life and death, and he holds the forces of nature in his hand as a mechanic manipulates his machine. Life to the Masters holds no unsolved problems; death to them has no terrors. To them the future is an open book, and joy goes with them all the day long, like the sweet chime of bells. Since all the world is seeking happiness, here is the Royal Road to happiness. It is el Camino Real of the Masters.
This book is not an encyclopedia of Oriental philosophy. Hence, but few quotations are given from the sacred books or so-called authorities. If the student felt any obligation to accept these 'authorities: he would not need this book. A short resume of the different religions is given for the sake of comparison. The best features of each religion or system are given, and then an effort has been made to show just where and how the science of the Masters transcends them all and accomplishes something which no other system does. Each philosophy or religion is given credit for fulfilling a need in the day and country when and where it evolved. Each religion usually runs its course and becomes obsolete. One difficulty has
been that no religion is willing to acknowledge the fact of its own
obsolescence. Only the moral precepts of all religions-which are essentially the same in all, remain as universal truth. Even these are
subject to considerable change as the ages pass. But beyond all of them, the science of the Masters stands out like the majestic peak of Everest, defying the storms of the centuries. And this is so because the science of the Masters is a universal science. It is not limited to anyone country or time. Neither is it for anyone group of people but for all mankind.
These are some of the facts which this book attempts to elucidate.
We do not believe any apology is required for the manner of stating
this science. Demonstrated facts of any science may be stated in
positive language. Even though the statement may appear dogmatic,
yet it is not really so. Dogma is a declaration of opinion which the
writer assumes to be fact, but concerning which he has no definite
knowledge. But if a man should assert with Euclid that the square
formed on the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle is equal to the
sum of the squares formed on the other two sides, he is not stating a
dogma, he is stating a fact which any mathematician may demonstrate
for himself. The case is similar with the facts given out by the Masters.
They tell only what they know, and they know because they themselves
have demonstrated everything they teach. If we give to the world in
this book some of the findings of the Masters, we are not giving out
opinions nor dogmas nor theories. And this is why we must make
certain statements which, on their surface, may appear dogmatic.
In no instance is the mere opinion of this writer ever given, except
where it is definitely stated as his opinion and nothing else.
The volume of this teaching is given out as the findings of the great Masters, and the reader is referred to their writings for verification of all that is given here. Their writings are mostly in Hindi and Sanskrit, but they can be read. Also, there is at least one great Master now living in the flesh, at whose feet this writer has had the inestimable privilege of sitting as an humble student for many years past. Some of us believe that he is the greatest of all Masters known to history, and we have for this opinion what to us appears good and sufficient evidence. However, this is only an opinion, because we have not personally seen all of the great Masters of history. Be that as it may, he is a living exemplar of all that is taught in this
book. Concerning these things, he speaks as one having authority, and not as the pundits. He has not only read them in a book, he has experienced them in his own life and he knows their reality.
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