Papaji Visits America

In 1986 Papaji accepted an invitation from Raj to visit America. After his arrival in New York on 29th December, Papaji stayed with Raj for several months. I asked Raj about the background to this particular visit.

Raj: In 1986 I bought him a ticket to visit me in America. I had been hearing stories that his health was not good. I thought that he might benefit by having a relatively quiet time in a new environment.

David: Where did you stay? I have heard Papaji say that he spent a lot of time in Greenwich Village.

Raj: Yes, while we were in New York we stayed at 69, Bank Street, which is part of Greenwich Village in Manhattan.

David: How did you spend your time there?

Raj: In the beginning I took him out to a lot of local restaurants. I was living alone and I didn’t know how to cook very well. The first day we went to a Japanese place, the second to a Chinese and the third to an Italian. Then he got tired of restaurant food and said, ‘From now on we will cook ourselves’. I didn’t know how to make the kind of food that he liked, so he taught me how to prepare it. After a few days of watching him, I learned the basics and took over the cooking responsibilities from him.

During the day we went to all the usual tourist places such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the World Trade Centre. In the evening, at about 5 p.m., we would have small satsangs. One or two people who had known Papaji in India would come, along with a few new people who had never seen him before. Perhaps five or six people would come every day.

I remember two men, Arthur and Peter, who were regular visitors. I had met Peter casually while I was out walking and discovered that he had a strong interest in kundalini yoga. I invited him to the satsangs, thinking that he would be very interested in what Papaji had to say. On his first visit he came alone. He must have enjoyed himself because on his second visit he brought Arthur Greenhouse, a friend of his. Arthur was not interested in yoga, but he did have a lot of psychological problems. I think that was the reason he came.

Arthur immediately began to talk about all his problems, saying that he had a feeling of total darkness in his life. From the remarks he made, he obviously felt that other people were unjustly persecuting and harassing him.

Papaji listened to the long litany of complaints. At the end of it he remarked, ‘If you see darkness, you yourself must be the light. Darkness cannot exist without light. The subject who sees must be different from the object that is seen. If the object is darkness, then you yourself must be the light.’

As he heard these words Arthur had a tremendous experience that completely overwhelmed him. He started thrashing around so violently, it took two of us to hold him down. Papaji ordered me to get some orange juice from the fridge and forcibly feed it to him. After we had made him drink a little, he began to calm down.

These satsangs were very good for me. After a few days in Papaji’s presence, I naturally and effortlessly reverted to the state of peace and thought-free silence that I had experienced when Papaji took me to Pune many years before.

At the end of February, 1987 Papaji accepted an invitation to visit Hawaii. He described his visit in a letter to R. M. Prabhu, Raj’s father:

7th March, 1987
Dear Prabhu Jee,
I came here to visit the members of the Ganga Ashram who have visited me in India from time to time. Raj took seven days’ leave to accompany me and to visit this place which is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. My hosts drove to the top of the highest mountain of the earth. From the base of the ocean to the peak that protrudes above the water it is 38,000 feet. On the summit the wind was nearly ninety miles per hour and the temperature was below zero. We could only get out of the car for a few minutes. Five of us went on the trip. We saw the active volcano and many waterfalls. At sea level the climate is like India’s. Many houses have no heating installed. Though it is still winter, today was 20° Celsius. When I left New York, it was minus 20°.

Raj was thriving in Papaji’s presence. He has already remarked that the state he experienced several years before with Papaji came back to him in America. In early March, while he and Papaji were still in Hawaii, Raj sent the following report to his mother:

…all well here. Master’s company for the last two months has helped me to know my true nature. Who I AM is no more in doubt. That ‘which is present’, that ‘which has no concepts’, ‘which is between past and future’ alone is Me. That ‘which is Nothing’ is me.

Excerpt from Nothing Ever Happened Volume 3, pages 75-78

By David Godman