Excerpts from – The Initiation

 Known to the spiritual seekers of India as the "deathless Maha-Avatar," Babaji is the immortal Yogi ChristBuddha who works for the spiritual salvation of this age. Working with the prophets of every era, Babaji guides human evolution towards peace, happiness and inner tranquillity. In November of 1997, Babaji revealed his physical form to the author in India. The Initiation is the compelling tale of Prema Baba Swamiji's extraordinary journey after his personal encounter with the "deathless avatar."

I could feel waves of spiritual vibrations coming from the young man in white. It was as if he were a fountain sending forth streams of spiritual nourishment to the surrounding area. Even the usual cackling crows and chittering monkeys were quiet. I approached slowly, as if being pulled by a conveyor belt. I wasn't aware of walking. My muscles somehow found the ability to move on their own. Our eyes connected with a oneness, and what I'm relating here was taking place through this shared vision. I was seeing him see me as he was seeing me see him. It was like an infinite mirrored image – a mirror bouncing off a mirror bouncing off a mirror. My body took on the quiet demeanor of sleep. There was no longer the impatient need for water, nor was my body signaling the urgent need of a restroom. There was a transcendental reality – somewhat like sleep – that was beyond the physical body and mind and the perception of what was taking place. This isn't as strange as it sounds. It is typical to be unaware of bodily demands during deep sleep. We even loose awareness of the pain of a terrible toothache when we fall into a state of peaceful sleep, where there are no difficulties.

I was experiencing the Hindu teaching of maya – the world as illusion – a projection from the mind. Just as a spider spins a web from itself, the world is spun from our ego and mind. Nothing else existed but this moment and those incredible eyes. I bowed reverently at the feet of this mysterious master, and sat in a cross-legged position in front of him.

I felt a tremendous amount of heat, or prana, leave Babaji's hand and flow into the top of my head. Inwardly, I saw the image of him melt into a golden white light that permeated my entire body. I understood this was the light of Brahman, or God. The white part of the light was soothing, while the golden light carried a warm, invigorating influence, much like the sun.

My breathing was suspended. There was no fear or tension, and no breath. My consciousness felt like it was being pulled out of my body with a whirling, tornado motion. It was pleasant. Perhaps, I thought, this is what dying feels like. I could see the entire temple compound – my body, Babaji's body in the swing, bathed in this egg-shaped field of golden white light. The trees, the ground, everything – was filled with this iridescent energy. It wasn't so much that it had a radiant quality; it was radiance itself. The world as we know it comes from this field of brilliant light. Our minds project our world upon the light.

Babaji was smiling sweetly and swaying back and forth in the swing. Behind me, I could see my driver Babu approaching respectfully toward Babaji. And I could see our white Ambassador, outside the temple and behind the compound wall. The golden white light gave me "X-ray" vision.

Another strong breeze rustled through the tree, and many blue pearl-like lights floated into the field of golden white light like soap bubbles. The breeze was no ordinary wind, but rather a current of prana from the divine realms, announcing the arrival of the Siddhas. These divine beings – seemingly encapsulated in the blue bubbles – were summoned by the divine will of Babaji. They were approaching for his Mahadarshan. Darshan, a Sanskrit word, means a vision of the divine. Maha means great.

"Welcome to Premananda," Babaji spoke, breaking the silence of this out-of-body experience.

"Take some ash from the fire," Babaji said. I looked into the fire and saw mostly glowing coals. Did he want me to pick up coals? I wondered. Marilyn, Beau and I once attended a workshop taught by Tolly Burkan, the founder of the American Firewalking Movement, in Northern California. We walked on fire for eight days to achieve certification as fire-walking instructors. For some reason, I had been compelled to go beyond the walk on 1,200-degree coals that the other participants were trying to master. In addition to walking, I needed to literally pick the coals up, and walk around with them in my hand. No one, including me, could understand why I kept doing this. At this moment, I sensed that the experience had been preparation for what Babaji was asking me to do.

Babaji was actually telling me to get some ash, not pick up coals. But how could I get ash if not from the hot, glowing coals? Did he know I had handled coals before? Did he want me to pick up coals to learn that I could do it without ego-enhancing motives? Did he want me to become friends with Agni, the fire goddess, in the same playful way that he was?

"Problem?" he asked.

Clearly, I was taking too long to act, spending too much time in my mind. The way he said, "Problem?" suggested there should be no problem. My last thought in this moment of hesitation was that I should use my left hand. If I was going to get burned, I was only going to burn one hand – the one I didn't use much. I exhaled, plunged my hand into the edge of the fire bed and scooped up a coal the size of a lime along with a handful of black ash.

I winced, overreacting in anticipation, as I felt the fire singe some hairs on my wrist. At first, my hand felt nothing – no heat – just the weight of the embers. After a few seconds I felt the sting of heat. I didn't dare let the coals go, because Babaji was looking at me, and I didn't want to fail this test. If he wanted me to burn my hand, then I assumed it would be for my own good, perhaps burning off some personal karma. Whatever was happening, I knew it was some kind of test.

Suddenly, the sting became cool. It was uncanny, but there was no time to think about it, as Babaji was on the move, motioning me to follow. The horn blared ear-piercing farewells as we left the temple. I bowed to each of the swamis on my way out. I followed Babaji outside and around to the back of the temple, where we entered a small room. It had a dirt floor and, on one wall, there was a small barred window. In former days, it had clearly been used as sleeping quarters for the temple priest. In the center of the room a small fire burned in a low pit. This fireplace was designed to provide warmth, but it obviously served as a kitchen and a source of light as well.

Cobwebs were in abundance. I carefully moved around them, putting my newfound understanding to work. These were the homes of intelligent beings! The mere sight of a cobweb in the past would have sent me into a mild – and sometimes not so mild – anxiety attack. At that particular moment, I couldn't have cared less. I noticed this change, one of many to come.

"Hold your hand out," Babaji commanded.

I stretched forth the hand that contained the coals and black soot.

"Who is your favorite God?"

My mind raced through several possibilities: Jesus, Buddha, Krishna.

I decided upon Shiva, the original Guru. The Guru is the one who brings you to moments like this.

"Shiva," I said.

Babaji smiled and told me to close my hand over the coals. He placed his hand over my hand and I feel into a deep meditative swoon, with eyes wide open. My ears were pounding and the room was flooded with golden light. The feeling reminded me of the times I'd been knocked out while boxing or while being thrown hard to the ground in judo, except I was not feeling any pain. There was a flash of lightening over our hands, which momentarily lit up the room, and Babaji removed his hand.

"Open it," he said.

I slowly opened my hand and gazed into my palm. A clear, luminescent, egg-shaped crystal lay in my palm. There were no coals, nor traces of black soot. Only a tiny amount of gray ash, and white vibhuti. I loved it. The whole world was in that egg-shaped crystal. My mind could never fathom what secrets it held.

I quickly took the object in my right hand and held it up excitedly. Babaji looked mortified.

"Careful!" he commanded. "It not cooled yet."

My index finger and thumb of my right hand were quickly speaking to me of horrendous pain burning pain. The egg-shaped object was hot! And it was molten, still soft. I saw to my dismay that it was dented where I had squeezed it. I quickly transferred it back to my left palm. As it cooled, it remained dented.

"Look at it! Look deeply into it!" he urged.

This was not difficult, as the object had a pale silvery luminescence that magnetically drew my stare.

"It is alive," he whispered, his voice hushed.

As I gazed, my eyes were drawn into its center, into its inner world of golden white light. Again I saw a lightning flash and many images of birth, mostly the heads of babies as they emerged from their mothers' wombs. I also saw flowers, especially roses blossoming quickly as in time-lapse photography. I had frequently seen roses materialize that same way in my hand and open in the same manner.

"It's so small," I commented stupidly. I wasn't complaining. I was completely awestruck. I noticed a soft white light was pulsating from the egg.

"No thinking! Stop! Look!" Babaji urged.

As I gazed upon the egg-shaped crystal, it was expanding. Soon it included the entire temple and more – a universe in its own right. Inside I saw Babaji's face, only he had long hair and looked very much like the drawing in Yogananda's autobiography. He stayed like this for a moment, and then I had the most surreal experience. His face became a collection of race, age and gender. A portion of his head and hair was Anglo feminine, another was male African, American Indian female, Grecian nose, almond-shaped eyes that changed colors: brown, black, blue, green. Different parts of his face were different colors: brown, black, yellow, red, white. His face was beautiful – the face of God. We, his children, are all created in his likeness. It was the most exquisite face I had ever seen. I saw why the early Biblical accounts spoke of fear at seeing the face of God. This fear arose out of the sheer inability to comprehend or absorb its awesome beauty. It was something that could be remembered but never duplicated – a continuous flux of faces. It included all the faces of my Gurus. Most important to me, it included Marilyn.

"You are seeing my true form," Babaji whispered.

I was seeing an eternal vision, a dimension of eternity that exists outside of our earthly realm. It does not exist in time. It is a non-linear kingdom – the alternative reality. It reminded me of the three-dimensional art that became popular a few years ago. At first you see nothing but the chaotic surface of meaningless bits of color. But as you continue to stare, the background snaps into focus and you can see the hidden images. Just as quickly the images dissolve, and you are once again looking at a one-dimensional piece of computer gibberish. In the same manner, the vision collapsed back into the small egg-shaped crystal.

Prema Baba Swamiji (as Dr. Donald Schnell) is the author of The Initiation, a spiritual adventure story about his initiation into the Ancient Order of Swamys by the eternal Babaji in India. He is a widely respected expert in the fields of metaphysics, meditation, Eastern spirituality, medical hypnosis, nutrition, exercise, and yoga.

You can learn more about Prema Baba Swamiji at http://www.TheInitiation.com

Reprinted by permission. Element Books (Boston, Sydney, London). Copyright © 2000. Dr. Donald Schnell, Prema Publishing.

Ask Premaji

by Prema Baba Swamiji

Question: Premaji, is it necessary to have a strong personal will to grow spiritually and to find God? – H. Costas, Arlington, Texas

Answer: Spiritual development doesn't happen automatically. You may want enlightenment very badly, but it only happens through your daily application of spiritual principles. One of these principles is sankalpa, which means "will power" in Sanskrit.

You want to know if a strong personal will or sankalpa will help you find God? Before I can answer this question I must ask what God are you seeking? If you are a Catholic, your religious programming may be to search for a Catholic God. If you are a Hindu, you are taught to search for Hindu Gods. Religions condition us from birth to expect God to appear in the form of our personal religious indoctrination. It is the concept of a different God for each religion that has produced over 6000 religious wars in 3,000 years!

In my opinion, religions have stood in our way of finding God. They put us in a box of intolerance for other traditions and people. Religions are as dangerous as nuclear bombs, and both should be dismantled. I'm not suggesting we destroy religions, but instead, disarm them. Let's begin by focusing on how we are similar, and not upon our differences. It is time we stop searching for a Catholic, Hebrew, Hindu, Buddhist, or Islamic God of a bygone era. In the universal path of prema (love), the path of loving actions, God is defined as Love. Let's make ourselves available to the experience of God in the form of loving actions. Whatever your religion, it's time to make love a part of it, to discover love within, actualize love in our lives, and manifest love in the form of tolerance for others.

A strong personal will or sankalpa is of definite assistance in finding God as love. It takes will power to feel compassion, love, tenderness, and tolerance for others when you may think otherwise. When you individually exercise your will power to consistently express love, you grow spiritually. You put yourself directly on the universal path of the heart, the path of love.

It is never too late in life to begin to realize your dream of enlightenment by developing your will power. Just as muscles require flexing to stay strong, you must flex your will power to strengthen it. Start now by taking a moment for the spiritual practice of meditation. Sit quietly for a few minutes, close your eyes, and breathe deeply through your mouth, allowing your mind to rest. Strengthen your sankalpa, or willpower, by resolving to give yourself this spiritual release from the everyday world.

Another way to awaken to feelings of love in your heart is simply by doing something loving. Start with an inanimate object. You can use a favorite trinket, a stone or a tree. Every time you pass by it, stop and give it feelings of love. Stick with one object and do it every day. This will increase the flow of loving feelings that come from your heart and strengthen your personal will power.

If it's enlightenment and evolution that you're seeking, it's up to you to take the steps to ensure your happiness, health, and higher consciousness. Enjoy your meditations. Love that tree. And welcome to the experience of universal love within yourself.

Question: Premaji, is there a diet that can assist me to advance on the spiritual path? I'm overweight and I use smoking and coffee to lose weight. – Paula T., Minneapolis, Minnesota

Answer: There is much confusion in this era about food choices. Diet experts are arguing over whether we should avoid fats or eat all the fat we want. They can't agree on whether or not carbohydrates are hazardous or important foods that should predominate in our diets. One expert mentions that protein is dangerous while another insists that we don't get enough. The spiritual diet cuts through the confusion and provides a lifelong guide that will enable you to achieve health, weight loss and spiritual evolution.

What makes a diet spiritual? Consider two points: Is your diet helping you in your spiritual practice? Does it support meditation? Is it one that is based on reducing pain and suffering in your personal world and the larger world in which you live?

Have you ever tried to meditate after a visit to Starbuck's and a double serving of espresso? At lunch do you drink a can of soda? Or iced tea for dinner? The possibility of meditating when you are caffeine and nicotine wired is unlikely. Without meditation how can you feel the tranquillity and harmony of spirit?

For one month eliminate caffeine and smoking. Enjoy the effect of spiritual peace on your mind and body! As you exclude caffeine and nicotine you are decreasing your chances of lung cancer and heart disease. On a spiritual diet you examine how your food choices are adding to your personal and planetary well-being.

Are you practicing ahimsa (non-violence) when you eat? If you are eating animal products you must realize that an animal full of adrenaline and terror died for you to eat its flesh. You are what you eat! You are taking this suffering into your body. Science documents that all animal products as food choices lead indisputably to cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, strokes and diabetes. It's difficult to feel the natural spiritual joy and exuberance if your body is riddled with cancer or other killer diseases. Ask yourself this: is it spiritual to choose foods that will create pain and tragedy for you and your loved ones? In addition, every healthy vegetarian choice brings greater well-being and less violence to our planet by putting an end to the epidemic killer diseases and to the rampant cruelty in the animal industry. The healthy vegetarian choices are whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.

Every two seconds, a child dies of hunger on our planet. This is because most of the world's grain is not food grain, but feed grain for cattle. Meat eaters have their beef at the expense of a starving child. Since you ate breakfast yesterday, 36,000 children starved to death. Think about this the next time you indulge in a steak. Why pretend to be spiritual if you are eating meat? 25% of the world's population is malnourished. American meat eaters are the most overweight and sickest population in history.

Walk your spiritual talk, cherish life and become a vegetarian.

With prema, from my heart to yours, Namaste!

Please send your questions to "Ask Premaji" at TheInitiation@aol.com or by snail mail to: "Ask Premaji", 2316 Pine Ridge Road #431, Naples, Florida 34109