by Chariji, June 19, 2008, Bangalore, India, as the introduction to the DVD set "He, the Hookah & I - Set 2: The Hubble Bubble"
I think it was yesterday evening here in Bangalore, that a young sister abhyasi told me that she was alone, perhaps in a dormitory or sharing a room with somebody else in a foreign country, and one night she saw Babuji Maharaj walking around in her room. And her initial reaction was one of fear. We are all happy with the physical presence of Babuji and we are quite happy, I would say, to feel His presence in the daytime. But if he should appear at night [laughing], I think most of us would be agitated, if not terrified. I have often asked temple goers, very devout, orthodox, God-fearing temple goers, what they would do if the deity suddenly started descending from its pedestal and started speaking. Not only would they run, but the whole town would be cleared as if an air-raid was in progress.
Our devotion, our love, our attachment—these are all very miniscule in my opinion and limited to what we can perceive, appreciate and accept with our five senses. It is not only true of God or the Master. I am sure that if a bereaved husband found his wife suddenly by his side at night, he would probably move to another house. What I am trying to say is that we are not familiar with the other world, the spirit world, and almost all of us are afraid of any manifestation from that other world in this world. We don’t like line-crossing shall we say, from one sphere of existence, one dimension of existence, into another; no wandering. I think our fear of death is nothing but the other side of the coin of the same mental and psychological problems that we have in relation to these two dimensions of which we have some awareness.
Now coming to Babuji Maharaj, there have been numerous occasions when he has appeared to young children. I remember our senior preceptor brother, the late Mr. Seshadri, when he was in Trichy in South India, his young son of about eight years came down from the first floor, jumping downstairs to say, “Daddy, Daddy! Babuji is upstairs.” But when Seshadri went up there was no Babuji.
It is said that these higher personalities appear only to innocent young people or innocent God-loving people—not in-between, to anybody else. Therefore the rest of us who are, in a sense, debarred from such experiences of the manifestations of higher personalities, tend to think that whatever appears is a ghost. I have heard abhyasis tell me that they don’t want to see the ghost of Babuji Maharaj. I said, “If you believe that he is a divine personality ruling over the universe today and he is in his divine abode, how can he be a ghost?” “No, no, Sir, it is easy for you to say it, but I won’t be able to tolerate.” That has been always the answer. It is not strange that after Babuji Maharaj attained mahasamadhi, more and more people are feeling his presence during satsangh and on other occasions, because their attention has been taken away from the physical form. I felt that it was very sad that the physical form had to disappear before we could experience His spiritual presence.
Now Babuji Maharaj is often or perhaps always appearing in his familiar form with a beard and in his usual dhoti and kurta. Many people have smelt the smoke of his hookah during sittings, during calm evenings like this when they are sitting alone in the garden thinking of him. The smoke of the hookah is very present; it is not imagination, it is very present and I have often tended to look around to see whether the hookah was there and he was there. Of course he was there but not present to the eyes.
Now I don’t know how many people know that when Babuji was perhaps thirteen or fourteen, he started smoking cigarettes. And when Lalaji Maharaj came to know of it later he did not approve. He said, “Cigarette smoking is not good. I permit you to smoke the hookah.” So Lalaji’s permission was there for Babuji Maharaj to smoke the hookah. And since he had a great deal of toothache, his teeth were not good, Lalaji also permitted him to grow a beard saying, “In winter it will protect you from the cold.” That is how two familiar attributes of Babuji Maharaj came into existence—the beard and the hookah. Not because he was already beginning to be a saint and felt it necessary to grow beard. On the contrary, when some people started emulating him by growing beards, resonating what Kabir had said earlier, he said, “If everybody could become like me by growing a beard, I would allow all of you to grow beards. Beard has nothing to do with spirituality.” Many people also started smoking the hookah and he said the same thing. He said, “My hookah is a very special thing. It had the permission of Lalaji Maharaj because he did not like cigarettes and secondly it would help my toothache, but…” he said, “I am telling you, this hubbill bubbill as we call it,”—he meant hubble bubble as we call it—“speaks to me.” And he said, “The fire of this burns up the samskaras of abhyasis.” And he would laugh gaily as if it was a joke. But often he used to say, “Even my jokes have meaning. I never joke without meaning.” Meaning that he was giving instruction even in his jokes. Therefore this series of talks is called or titled He, The Hookah and I, and this present addition to that set—in the nature of a He, The Hookah and I—set two, would be nice if it is called, Hubble Bubble.
You know that is how names come; that is how significance comes to things which ordinarily have no significance. That is how in social and, you know, ritualistic concepts, marriage comes to have a significance. It has often been argued, especially in the West, that whether married or not, what happens is the same thing. I said, “Yes, but marriage has a social sanction, familial approval, religious acceptance and also, after I interacted with Babuji Maharaj, a spiritual meaning to it.”
The spiritual meaning is that in a marriage two people are brought together, who in their spiritual lives must assist each other, support each other, complement each other so that they are able to walk hand in hand into the Brighter World when their term here in this mundane world comes to an end as it must. But the body has taken charge of everything now and marriage is only a mating. Rightfully it has been called, I think, ‘the mating game’ by an author in the West, and that’s about all. Therefore it has no spiritual significance, no genetic significance because, as some people say: The human animal is the only thing which mates indiscriminately. So genetics have no significance; affection perhaps for the moment or for a few days or weeks; love—not at all; lust—yes.
So you see, until we understand the spiritual life, until we respond to the call of the spiritual wilderness—because Babuji Maharaj said, “The Brighter World is a wilderness which if you reach and when you reach, you’ll not admire it because there is nothing there.” That call of that wilderness! You know there are many stories about the call of the wild but the story of the call of the wilderness has to be written by Sahaj Marg, and in this wilderness what we will see (if we see anything) is a single lone figure clad in white dhoti, white kurta, with a beard, a smile, a glint of welcome in his eyes, perhaps holding the hookah in his hand.
So I urge all of our abhyasis to respond to the call of the wild, the wilderness that is awaiting us, where there is nothing—nothing to look for, nothing to cherish, nothing to aspire for, nothing to achieve, nothing to lose most of all. And until we answer that call, the beard is but a beard, the hookah is but a hookah, and smoke is but smoke. But for us it shall be the ‘Hubble Bubble’ which we shall hear.