Letter # 3  -   The End of a Road

“That second evening on entering the Old Hall (where Sri Ramana is present

to this day!) I was immediately astonished by the overwhelming atmosphere

of subtle that pervaded the room. It was as heavy as lead soup. There was

no need to even meditate but just to sit and soon the pervasive power would

engulf one with its healing brush.”

     During the three-day stay at the ashram, I explored the institution. The ashram

was quite empty, desolate in fact, at least that is what it seemed to me as I struggled

with this new reality so different from the green vibrancy of Java. There was no one

to talk with except for one American lady who, unusually for me, I approached and

we had a short conversation about Arunachala.

     What was unusual during the brief stay in the ashram was the number of hours

in which I slept. I woke up around 7.30 or 8 am, stumbled around to take a bath in

the men’s bathhouse adjacent to the gosala (cow shed), wandered about in a daze,

had lunch at 11.30 am and then promptly went to sleep again until say 3 pm. This

somnambulistic state was unfamiliar.

     On the second evening around 6 pm, I entered the Old Hall for the first time. It

was largely empty aside from a few people. Among those sitting was an older

Western lady who I later discovered was Lucia Osborne.

     But before proceeding further, we required a short reversion back to Java to give a

a history of my previous meditation activity. In the course of my time in Solo, Java I

studied meditation with a Javanese Hindu teacher, Pak Hardjanta. He was a

remarkable person. Scholarly, funny, sharp, kind and naturally inquisitive. A stream

of people came through his ‘office’ where he sat all day. He spent the nights awake

and would sleep from dawn to midday. He introduced me to Javanese meditation

practices of sun meditation and later, moon meditation, based on Hindu tantric

practices. One must remember that Java was Hindu until the 16th Century when it

was transformed into the Muslim country it is today.

     The sun meditation practice nearly killed me. The practitioner was instructed to

lie down in an open area for ten days for an hour or so at a time, with a dark cloth

over one’s eyes and absorb the sun’s prana through the navel. In my impetuosity, far

too much was absorbed in the three days lying there and I promptly fell seriously ill.

After a week of an almost catatonic state, the physical body slowly revived and

returned to normal. Pak Hardjanta then sent me to his mountain residence at

Tawangmangu forty kilometres east of Solo, to practice moon meditation. This

involved being awake in the middle of the night, sitting outside in the cold mountain

air with the stars clustered bright as diamonds, and gazing at the moon when it had

some substantial shape. The only instruction he gave me was to go through the

moon. I had no idea what he meant but for the next two months or more, I tried and

tried. Partly puzzled, partly irritated that nothing was happening, and partly

fascinated by the grandeur of the night sky and the beauty of the moon, I persisted.

And then one night I went through the moon. It is not possible to explain it, however

with that achievement there was a concomitant release of positive joyous energy.

I was in seventh heaven. The major benefit of the moon meditation was that the

uncontrollable mood swings that hitherto governed my life subsided considerably.

     A few days later I returned to Pak Ha’s office at Solo and he confirmed that the

meditation was a success. After that, there was a general deflation because there

was nothing to do. I felt adrift as Pak Ha had not given me a new instruction. For the

next weeks I continued the moon meditation in a desultory fashion for want of

anything better to do until suddenly a vision of Sri Ramana Maharshi sent me to


     During nearly a year in Java and being engaged with Pak Hardjanta and his

close followers I picked up without any intention or effort several siddhis. It was

possible to read minds in terms of colour patterns, dimly see auras and perceive

power centres for want of a better description to explain the accumulation of psychic

energy, tejas, in one place. For example, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is a power

centre as are the many churches, temples and mosques in the world. In Hinduism a

temple is created by one of three ways: a Svayambhū (Skt. self-born), that is, a

natural powerpoint; for example, Arunachala or Tirumalai hill at Tirupati; the second

is the interment of a great soul; and thirdly, through rituals and prayers.

     That second evening on entering the Old Hall I was immediately astonished by

the overwhelming atmosphere of subtle energy that pervaded the room. It was as

heavy as lead soup. There was no need to even meditate but just to sit and soon the

pervasive power would engulf one with its healing brush.

     After three days in the ashram, I was obliged to leave and find private

accommodation outside. When I did leave, I was like a naked and vulnerable

chicken. In the course of those three days, all that I had achieved in Java was

stripped from me. Those proud, colourful feathers were gone and never returned.

And no matter in the coming days how much those wings were feebly flapped there

was no lift to give a sense of accomplishment and I felt crestfallen and bewildered.

     People think that Arunachala Sri Ramana will give them what they want. It is

quite the opposite, Arunachala Sri Ramana takes away from us not only our fears

but also our desires. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s yoga is completely safe and

does not allow any false complacency or delusion that one is a special person. The

possible dangers of kundalini yoga and any other type of yogic practice through say

pranayama that can engender say siddhis or powers are nullified. That also includes

any fabulous but ultimately irrelevant spiritual experiences unless rightly acted upon.

     These visions which are signposts to guide us and reassure us we are on the right

path, are nothing more than that and should be let go of as soon as possible once

rightly acted upon. Sri Ramana’s yoga may appear dull and slow but

hazardous it is not. A follower of Bhagavan who has received initiation

leads a perfectly normal life while that subtle invisible process forever engages the

deeper reaches of our soul in an unstoppable process of transformation.

     Walking out through the front gates of the ashram was the end of my

honeymoon and the start of the serious work to destroy all the previous

illusions I tensely gripped about myself and the world.