Papaji Answers an Important Question

Though Papaji was virtually unknown outside the circle in which he moved, he did occasionally receive new visitors who had travelled long distances to see him. One such meeting was with a Dr James from London. Although Papaji doesn’t seem to know specifically what happened to Dr James during this very brief encounter, it must have been something remarkable, for the doctor gave up an obsessive quest and went away happy and contented. Papaji himself has sometimes said that the major spiritual awakenings he has witnessed are the events that make the strongest and longest-lasting impact on his memory. If this is so, something very special must have happened to Dr James because this is one of the stories that Papaji tells very frequently.

I was visiting the house of a friend of mine who lived just outside Chikmagalur. He was one of the local coffee planters. A few of our other friends were sitting with us. As we were talking, I noticed a taxi draw up in front of the house. A foreign man got out and came in to join us. He looked about fifty years old.

He introduced himself in the following way: ‘My name is James and I come from London. I was recently in Tokyo where I was attending an international religious conference. A devotee of a man called Poonjaji was also there. He told me about this man, and what I heard from him made me decide that I had to come and meet him. I have been driving all over South India, looking for him. I have been to Bangalore, Mysore, Belur and now, finally, Chikmagalur. Is Mr Poonja here? I wish to speak to him.’

I identified myself and invited him to join us.

Immediately he said, ‘May I speak to you and ask a question?”

I told him, ‘You have just come a long distance. You are probably very tired. Why don’t you first have a wash? Then you can come and have a cup of coffee with us.’

A few minutes later he rejoined us and began to tell his story.

‘I have been travelling all over the world for the last ten years, visiting spiritual teachers and asking them questions. I have not been satisfied with any of the answers that I have been given. There is one particular question that has been bothering me. I want to know how an enlightened man behaves. I want to know how he acts in the world.’

I gave him the answer that I always give when I am asked this question.

‘This question can only arise in the minds of those people who think that they are unenlightened. For an enlightened man, such a question will never arise.

‘An enlightened man does not follow any code of conduct. There are no rules and regulations that he has to follow or observe. His behaviour is determined by the circumstances that he finds himself in. He reacts like a mirror to the events and the people that are around him. After enlightenment, there is no person left who decides that he will or will not abide by any set of rules and regulations. His actions are spontaneous responses to whatever is going on around him. He cannot choose to obey or disobey rules, because that person who does the choosing has ceased to exist. The enlightened man acts without thinking. There are no reasons for anything he does. His actions are all a response to things that are happening around him.

‘You can also say that he is like an electric light in a room. The activities in that room all take place in that light, but the light itself plays no role. The enlightened man is a light that simply shines. He does not do anything else. He witnesses all the things that are illumined by the light, but he takes no part in them.’

Mr James was very happy with the reply. He put his palms together in a gesture of farewell and said that his search for answer was over.

Nothing Ever Happened Volume One, pages 246-248

By David Godman