Papaji Amazing Grace is a book of fifteen powerful interviews, conducted by premananda, with people who had an Awakening with Papaji. They are stories of a housewife, a businessman and even an officer of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Each had the longing to discover their eternal truth. When this longing is strong enough a master appears.
A finder in his own right, premananda has elicited the essentials of the essentials of the spiritual search from seasoned, awakened seekers. Describing their personal direct experiences, the interviewees are shouting from the rooftops: Enlightenment is possible here and now. This book provided hope and encouragement by helping to clear doubts about the enlightenment process. It will empower every seeker and strengthen their resolve to tread their own path until it dissolves together with all stories. A profound, fascinating and joyful read.
About the Author
Premananda first came to papaji in Lucknow in 1992. He was surprised by Papaji’s enormous availability and after three weeks, identification with a separate ‘I’ dropped. Premananda stayed with his Master in Lucknow for a further five years, running a guesthouse and the Sangha bookshop.
Since 1998 Premananda has travelled widely in Australia, India and Europe offering Satsang meeting most evenings and weekends, wherever he is invited.
Presently he lives in the Open sky satsang community in Germany. He is working on his next book, Blueprints for Awakening, and creating spontaneous, joy-filled paintings.
Papaji, who was responsible for the Amazing Grace in these stories, was H.WL. Poonja. The familiar name Papaji was given to him by his Sangha (community), which established itself around him in Lucknow, North India from 1990 to 1997. In his early years as a teacher, he was called Master by his disciples. These tales are archetypical of the leela (divine play) that occurs between any master and his disciples. They illustrate the possibility of Awakening for anyone who has the longing for Truth.
Amazing Grace, because the inner longing brings a master into the seeker's life. Grace, Amazing Grace from masters like Papaji, acts to awaken the seeker to the Eternal Self.
These are the stories of a housewife, a businessman, even an officer of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Each person, whatever their background, had the common longing to discover the eternal Truth of who they are. When this longing is strong enough, a master appears.
Although everyone is already free, his or her body-mind is caught in the apparent reality of everyday life. This book could be called Posthumous Tales because each person has gone through a death. Not the death of the body-mind but rather the death of the attachment to the conditioned mind or ego. Each person has woken up to the understanding that they are not the conditioned 'I,' me, my story, but rather the Eternal Self, ever constant.
This book could also be called Papaji's People because all the tales are told by seekers for Truth who came to Lucknow from all over the world to visit Papaji. Some Awoke and became members of the Sangha. This was a group of perhaps eighty people who lived permanently in Lucknow and another one to two hundred who came and went with the extreme seasons. In summer the temperature could reach forty-seven degrees. In winter sweaters and electric heaters were necessary and all year round dust, exhaust fumes and noise pollution were common. Many hundreds of guests came and went or passed through just long enough for that climactic Awakening in his presence.
A Satsang (meeting in Truth) room was built as an addition to a private house and above it a restaurant was made on the roof Many Sangha residents lived by running guesthouses and this led to competition and jealousy. When the dramas of love affairs and changing alliances were added to the pot it was not always a happy family! As Satsang only happened for two hours five mornings a week there was much free time and so gossip became a major sport.
However, from the moment Papaji walked into the Satsang room, mind games were set aside and hearts opened and became one. This phenomenon was enough to keep the Sangha together for several years to the huge benefit of new arrivals. In the Sangha, people supported each other in coming to the understanding that would lead to an Awakening. Gradually the Satsang room contained many Awakened longer-term residents.
When I first arrived in Lucknow in 1992, Papaji was actively engaging most of the people who sat at his feet in Self-enquiry. Later things changed. The arrival of Osho disciples brought a more playful and heartful atmosphere and Papaji responded so that celebration, music, singing and dance gradually increased the devotional emphasis. Finally in the last years he was simply content to sit in the hall, knowing that when someone was ready, the necessary transmission would take place.
In the presence of Papaji, I had my own Awakening. A week after the event he called me to sit in front of him and asked me to talk about Truth. Like everyone before me I was only able to mutter a few sentences that perhaps pointed in the direction of Truth. Later it occurred to me that in a relaxed situation one to one, people could perhaps point closer to this Truth.
These stories are the result of this idea. The interviews begin with the interviewee's early life, creeping up quietly to the main point, which is to shine light on the nature of Truth. After each interviewee's initial attempt I encouraged them to try again from a different standpoint. The editing of each interview maintains the unique character of the original conversation.
Most of these dialogues took place in Lucknow from 1992 to 1996, while I was an active member of the Sangha or, as Papaji preferred to call us, 'passengers in the airport transit lounge, with the plane approaching.' Normally these dialogues occurred a day or two after the Awakening, when the heat of Truth was burning bright. There was no selection of the interviewees; the meetings happened spontaneously.
The stories lay fallow for many years until a friend, reading one of them, insisted enthusiastically that I collect them into a book. At that time I found myself in Tiruvannamalai at the holy mountain, Arunachala. Arunachala was the home of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Papaji's master and one of India's most respected modern saints. Since Papaji's death in 1997 many of his disciples regularly visit the mountain and Sri Ramana Maharshi's ashram.
In the presence of Arunachala, ten years after his interview, I repeated the interview with Ram Charan, as the original tape had been lost. Further interviews were conducted as I met other interesting characters from the Lucknow days. Finally in 2004 in Munich I met Patrick, who had been living in Papaji's house when I arrived in Lucknow in 1992. He was Papaji's daily attendant for three years. Including his interview, conducted in Germany at the Open Sky Satsang Community near Cologne where I now live, brought the book to maturity.
Twelve years after the original interviews, I offer this book in homage to Papaji and as another medium to share Truth. In response to a question about the quality of a well-known master, Papaji once said, 'If you want to test the quality of the orchard, you taste the fruit.' This book gives a taste of the fruit from Papaji's orchard, revealing the greatness of this Master, H.WL. Poonja, fondly known by his loving devotees as Papaji.
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