In his most famous ballad titled “I am on a Long Narrow Road” the Anatolian folk singer and mystical poet Aşık Veysel tells us that he has been traveling all his life trying to reach the goal (“menzil” in Turkish). He is amazed that the goal looks so near but he still cannot reach it even though he has been trying to reach it all his life.
I had a similar feeling recently while I was visiting the Stanford University campus. It was December 27 around 5pm right after the sunset over the mountains. It was a clear day, no clouds. I was walking alone on the walkways along the Palm Drive heading towards the university chapel. The Palm Drive is a straight road that takes you to the heart of the university. The view from the car is magnificent. The walkways on both sides of the Palm Drive create different experiences, however. The perspective along those walkways is very different from the wide open vista that you see from the seat of your car. Instead of a wide vista you see a long narrow road ahead of you.
The “long narrow road” is a metaphor for my spiritual life as well as my struggle to make a contribution to physics. The road that takes me to Self-realization is a long narrow road. The goal is clear. I can talk about it intellectually, I can quote others, I can even construct a spiritual philosophy around it but the goal remains elusive.
Speaking of Self-realization, after I returned from California I started reading a book titled “When the Time Comes: Conversations with Acharya Chandranath Kumar” written by Devashish Donald Acosta. I am fascinated with this book. It has been a while since I read a book cover-to-cover. This is a book that I am reading every word with full attention. Acharya Chandranath Kumar was a Self-realized saint. He was a disciple of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. In this book Acharya Chandranath Kumar tells very interesting details about his spiritual practice. It is very inspiring to read about the life of a saint who reaches Self-realization. When he describes it he makes it sound so easy but he knows that it is not easy. He clarifies that it will take many lifetimes to attain Self-realization and adds that maybe the time has come for some of us. This is why the book is titled “When the Time Comes.” When he first met his guru, the first sentence he heard from Shrii Shrii Anandamurti was “Has the time come?”
Let’s assume for a moment that the time has come meaning that it is most likely that you will reach the goal in this lifetime; it is clear to me that without determination and commitment the goal cannot be reached.
It was amazing to read in conversations with Acharya Chandranath Kumar that experiencing Nirvikalpa Samadhi (total absorption in Consciousness, no-mind state) once or twice is not a guarantee for salvation (Moksha, final union with Consciousness) after death. Even though he experiences Nirvikalpa Samadhi at will, he is still concerned about the final liberation. It was also amazing to read his opinion that even after repeated Nirvikalpa Samadhis the soul may still come back as a human being to work out the remaining samskaras. This confused me. I need to compare notes and review what has been said on the subject of Mukti and Moskha by Baba. My prior understanding was that by the time we reach Nirvikalpa Samadhi all samskaras would be worked out and after the experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi we don’t accumulate new samskaras. Acharya Chandranath Kumar seems to be saying that Moksha is not a sure bet even for a Self-realized saint.
Self-realization is not a theory or philosophy. Self-realization is an experience. The philosophical discussion is irrelevant. We will find the answers to our questions when we get there.