07 November 2010
A Million-Dollar Question
Q&A Excerpt from Bhau Kalchuri’s Internet Chat, Sunday, 7 November 2010
Sister Mahoo from L.A.: Dearest Bhauji, it so good to see your lovely face and watch your humor. You look strong and we thank Baba for that. Bhauji, I have a million-dollar question. How can one love Baba more and think less of “me” as false self? Much love to you.
Bhau Kalchuri: My Sister Mahoo, your question is very simple; it is not difficult. This is a very good question. Very good question! And because you are feeling that, that’s why you are asking. How fortunate you are, that whatever you say, you are 100% right, and your question has the answer. And what is that answer?: “O Baba, O Baba, You are me, but I don’t experience, so please tell me, at midnight, so people may sleep at that time. So I will hear the answer clearly.” And then Baba will tell you. Why I am telling this to you? Because I also got the answer at midnight. I had asked Him, and He said, “Do you know? You are talking with Me, and I am hearing. I am deaf, but I hear clearly, so I am giving you the right answer. So don’t worry. Whatever you want, I am giving you.” And that’s why now my belief in Him is 100% So I don’t have any other thought. Only one thought: So Hum. I experience. So what is there to experience? This is the real thing. . . .
Sister Mahoo: Thank you, dearest Bhauji. Your answer touches my heart. Aren’t we fortunate to have you? Thank you for sharing Baba’s love with us so tirelessly and selflessly. May Baba keep you well and strong always.
Interpretation by KC
Meher Baba says, “Think of Me more than you think of your own self.” How can we do that? Mahoo’s question has been asked many times by Baba-lovers, and now Bhauji gives an interesting new answer to it.
First, Bhau identifies at the heart of the question the need for an experience. We know intellectually that our own real self is identical with the one Divine Self who is personified by Avatar Meher Baba (“You are me”), and that the ego-self is false; we know that because He tells us so. But we do not experience it. So this is the experience that Bhau says Mahoo and we are asking for.
How do we get the experience? We ask Him for it, at “midnight,” when “people” are asleep and we will be able to hear His answer. Does Bhau mean that we should literally pray to Baba at midnight? Maybe. Or maybe we can go to the “midnight” within, a place that some people call meditation, a place of emptiness and silence, where all that is false has died down and we can hear Him and He can hear us.
Bhau says that he did this himself. He asked Baba, and he got the answer — not only to that question, but to everything (“Whatever you want, I am giving you”). And because of that, his belief is 100% and he has only one thought: So Hum, “I experience.”
Often spelled Soham, this expression is a Sanskrit mantra usually translated “I am He” (sometimes “I am That”), in which “He” refers to Brahman, the Absolute, the Ultimate Reality, or what many people might call “God.”
Soham is equivalent, Bhau says, to “I experience.” Jonathan thought it was really interesting that this is how Bhauji translated Soham. And indeed that is the experience Bhau is talking about: the experience of union and identity with “the real thing,” which is the aim of life and the Supreme Goal of all creation.
It is said in Advaita (Nondualist) Vedanta that twenty-four hours a day, an individual soul is unconsciously repeating the japa of Soham, “I am He,” through the in and out of the breath: “As we inhale, we make the sound so, and as we exhale, ham. At the rate of fifteen times per minute, which is the average rate of breathing, each person is unconsciously repeating the So’ham 21,600 times daily,” wrote the late Swami Adiswarananda in his book Meditation and Its Practices (which I copy edited for the Swami, so I had the quote handy!). The Swami added, “The saying So’ham, meaning ‘I am He,’ is really an answer to the question ‘Koham?’ or ‘Who am I?’”
Meher Baba presented this same universal question and answer in his teaching in God Speaks:
Attainment of the divine goal would mean that at this stage God-in-man, through the gradual process of involution of consciousness, should eventually experience the passing-away-in that original divine sound sleep state of absolute vacuum while retaining the legacy of the full consciousness which has been gained. Thus God would be able to realize His eternal “I am God” state consciously. Whereupon, attaining His original state consciously, God would experience His own divine eternal existence and His own divine nature which is the Everything — infinite and real; and so at last get the real answer to His First Word or question of “Who am I?” as “I am God.”
as well as in messages such as the following one given for the forty-first anniversary of His Silence:
God’s first Word was “Who am I?” God’s last Word is “I Am God.” And the Word that I the God-Man will utter soon will be the sound of My infinite Silence. [The Life Circulars of Avatar Meher Baba, p. 133]
In the quote above from God Speaks, Meher Baba refers to God-realization — the experience “I am He” or “I am God”— as being fully conscious in sound sleep. Could “sound sleep” be the “midnight” that Bhau referred to?
Bhauji has said something very profound, in simple words, in loving response to Mahoo and us. She asked how we could stop thinking of ourselves less and think more of Him. And in answer, Bhau has not merely given tips such as looking at Baba’s photo or repeating His name, although those too might be good answers. Instead, he has taken her straight to the top! And he says “it is not difficult.” I think he gave a really beautiful answer.