First and foremost, this book is a personal expression of a man’s relationship with his spiritual Master; a book about love, about wonder, about worship and surrender, a book about the path to God. It speaks of the absolute importance of the Master, the gracious Master who is the soul and very canter of all worthwhile spiritual endeavor, whose supreme quality is manifest love, the same quality which is the essence of his teachings, it conveys the living Master as the ideal, the highest and best in actual life, because he himself has actualized in his own person the highest ideals of all religions. The book bears witness to the fact that by emulating such an ideal, the disciple is given a practical path to follow, whereby he too may achieve the same results.
Apart from a brief description of the inner spiritual path, and a gist of the teachings which shaped so gloriously the last ten years of the author’s life, the book consists of letters written by Dr. Johnson to his fellow disciples and seekers in America. Julian Johnson was the first man from a Western background to travel to India (which in those days seemed so remote and alien) in order to meet and live with a Master of the Beas line of Perfect Masters. In his own words, this book “is a personal testimony to all those who may be seeking the light”-a testimony for which his own personal ec perience provided the base.
Written during the first fourteen months he spent with the Master, living with him in continuous and close personal association, sometimes in Beas and sometimes traveling through northern India, Dr. Johnson’s letters are anecdotal and replete with finely observed contextual detail. Now more than sixty years have passed since the letters were written, and the book stands as a historical record of the changes that have taken place since then in international attitudes and in Indian society itself. Most interesting, however, for the disciple or spiritual seeker, is the way in which the book throws light upon the apparent changes in the relationship of Master and disciple within the context of the Beas tradition of the teachings of the saints.
Every age is characterized by its own particular conditions, and saints and Masters adapt their ways to the specific needs of their times. They come to the world to guide us to knowledge of our true self, and they speak in a language which is meaningful to us. Julian Hohnson was already in the lateeer years of his life by the time he travelled to India. Throughout his rich and varied life he had never wavered in his search for truth his search for a practical path through which he himself could experience and know truth.
As he explains in the Introduction, Dr. Johnson was initially attracted to Sant Mat through a booklet which caught his eye at a friend’s house in California. He read the words: “the supreme being is a boundless ocean of spirit, or love, and the human being is a drop or current of spirit or love from this ocean; and love being the very essence and means of existence of the wholecreation, it follows that no effort in any direction, temporal or spiritual, unless actuated by love or affectionate regard can be crowned with success, and the work or labor rendered easy, sweet and harmonious.” The words were in absolute congruence with an intense personal revelation he had just experienced, and they marked the beginning of a spiritual journey which led to his initiation by the Great Master’s representative in America, and his subsequent journey to India. The book is his attempt to convey something of the extraordinary quality of life he experienced in the company of his Master; it is the expression of his joy at the fulfilment of those first words which had attracted him-an outpouring of a heart full of gratitude, wonder and awe.
Today, perched at the edge of the third millennium, many readers would be wary and sceptical of admitting even the possibility of a relationship existing of such unqualified love and submission. We find ourselves part of a worldwide material culture of scientific skepticism. Having systematically argued away our heroes and our gods, we can find no meaning or purpose in life, and no basis in which to establish a common rule of conduct to ensure even functional harmony with our fellow living beings. We are trained from early childhood in the refinements of intellectual inquiry, and the age of information has exposed the relativity of all knowledge. The technology of communication is ubiquitous, and such factors have combined to create a fertile ground for pseudo-intellectuals to inveigle their ways into the hearts of people desperate for love and security. In recent years so many false gurus have advertised and sold their recipes for happiness and permanent bliss across every continent, satisfying their greed for material and personal power by exploiting mankind’s intense hunger for spiritual guidance and nourishment
“When the disciple is ready, the Guru appears,” is a common saying among occultists, and is often repeated in the literature. For a quarter of a century the writer kept trying to believe this statement; but he often wondered if it was literally true, or was it just an optimistic expression of those few who had succeeded in finding one. For a quarter of a century he had believed in the existence of the Guru, the Master, the genuine mahatma. God knows there was plenty of need for them. If they did not exist, there was in the economy of human life a decided deficiency.
If one accepts the major premise of a supreme and benevolent Creator whose fundamental nature is love, then he can scarcely believe that Creator would leave untold billions of his children to wander around like babes in a wilderness, unguided, unenlightened and unprotected. If he sent us down into this world for some beneficent purpose, them he cannot fail to look after us and to see that his purposes are ultimately conserved. There simply must be Masters. That is our first and root conviction. They are necessary to any rational order in this world. Without them, there is chaos, only blind drifting, and chance. Nothing but hopes and vague uncertainties, groping speculations. Excepting the Master and their disciples, there is not a man or woman in all the world who has any certain knowledge concerning the most important problems of the soul, or even of the existence of the soul itself. All the rest only believe, imagine, speculate and preach; only the Masters know.
Without the revelations of Masters- living Masters, not the story of Masters written in books, the origin of which no man can tell – without the certain knowledge that they possess, the scientific student is almost driven to the conclusion that man is only a physical structure, beginning with the foetus in utero, and ending in the dissolution of death. He may conjure up dreams to please his fancy and feed his imagination, but they are hardly worth his time, without the Masters there is no provision for the soul of man. If the Creator has made no provision to properly instruct and take care of the spirit, then there is no spirit. But happily we are not left in the dark concerning these things. There are men who know.
To say that the people have a book to guide them is futile, when but a small fraction of the human race has ever had access to any one book, and there is no general agreement as to the value of any books a guide. To say that they have priests and other religious leaders to guide them is likewise futile, even ridiculous, in the light of the well-known fact that those teachers are practically all in the dark themselves, leading worldly lives and driven by the five common passions, just lie other men. Besides, they are utterly lacking in any sort of agreement among themselves as to the most fundamental principles or precepts by which they propose to guide their followers. To say that they have a divine spirit to guide them is only a guess, a dogma. If that were the case, then the whole world would truly be guided aright and the results would be uniform and highly salutary. Spiritual enlightenment would be universal.
So it is evident that old world sadly needs real Masters who alone of all men can speak from positive knowledge. For that is the one supreme mark of distinction between Masters and all other teachers: they know, all others only believe.
And so it stands out as a vital fact, well known to those who have had the experience, that the great supreme Father in his loving kindness has provided that there shall always be at least one perfect saint or Master on earth in the physical body, ready to guide all who are ready to go with him. And no matter where on earth a soul may be, even to the remotest islands of the sea, and no matter what his handicap or difficulties, if he makes himself ready for the master by always doing the best he can under the circumstances, the very day and hour he is fit to stand before the Master and in ready to follow him in the right spirit, as certain as the path of a planet in its orbit, just that certainly will the Master appear and take charge of his pupil. No matter how the meeting is to be brought about –that may be left entirely to the Master. His wisdom and power are all- sufficient, for he is the viceroy of the supreme King, appointed to do that specific work among men. The only concern of the student is to make himself ready.
But the way to the Master’s feet is often a long and thorny path. Many are the weary years when doubts spring up and the geart grows faint, when hope is no more than a flickering candle to guide our sore and aching feet. It often happens that a person struggles on for years amidst his doubts and perplexities, groping blindly, as it seems to him, when at last, just as he passes a turn in the road, suddenly and unexpectedly he stands face to face with realization. Then he is ready to exclaim with Cowper:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform.
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