Robert Hanlon

How Maharshi Came To Me

by Robert Hanlon

First became aware of the Name and Grace of Bhagavan in December 1958. Since my father's death in 1956, I had been in a grave spiritual and psychological crisis. Play-writing efforts of many years stopped abruptly. I then worked as an advertising copywriter until the unconscious weight of the identity search made any job impossible. I started taking a variety of drugs rather heavily,and began an intensive reading of Freudian and mystical literature, with the emphasis on Zen and Yoga. As if miraculously, financial help from a new wealthy friend began at this time and made the total search for Self economically feasible.

Gradually, I started to meditate in the Zen tradition, not knowing that already the Real Presence of the Divine Lover was dictating my most stumbling efforts. I was using the koan, "What was my original face before my father and mother were born?" I would meditate for a half hour, read a page here of one book, two pages of another, until the need to meditate overpowered me once more. But I was conscious of no inward change that would relieve my cosmic anxiety. I was overwhelmed by doubts that I could ever break through to the certitudes of immortality and the spirit. Then, in December 1958, I went to Taos, New Mexico to visit a friend who was also engaged in thesearch for Self. One day we went to see a rather advanced Yogi and painter, Herman Rednick, who lived in the beautiful sagebrush desert along the Rio Grande Canyon. In his cabin he had five or six framed pictures of Indian sages. One of these pictures was the most famous one of Bhagavan, reproduced on the cover ofArthur Osborne's biography. Looking at it, I felt as if I had been waiting to see it for 10,000 years. The absolute serenity, sweetness and love in His eyes overwhelmed me; for the first time I knew there was really somethingto be discovered, and that here was my guide to the promised land. Tears came unbidden to my eyes. I was also conscious of powerful vibrations in the cabin which filled me with exultation. (I am now aware that these vibrations were the initial transmission of the Spirit, and that Herman was the Guru transmitting the Grace of Bhagavan, Sad-Guru, the One without a second.)

Returning to New York, I obtained Bhagavan's books and started to meditate according to His teachings. I also began praying to Him, using the mantra "OM Ramana", as given in Mudaliar's Day by Day with Bhagavan. I stopped taking drugs completely, thanks to the ever-pouring Grace of the Divine Saviour.

Several times during the succeeding months, the idea came to me to lie down on my bed and see if I could return to the womb in a psychic sense, "to go back the way you came," as Bhagavan told one devotee. These attempts had no results until the 22nd of December, 1959. This time, at noon, I was immediately conscious that something extraordinary had happened, that in some inexplicable way I had returned to the womb, although I was still completely conscious of my surroundings and adult identity. Then the question came, 'Where did I come from before I was in the womb?' No sooner was this question out than a white light opened above and between the eyes; in it I saw what seemed to be black objects moving about. The word "spermatozoa" flashed through my mind, with no conscious volition on my part (I was not familiar with St. Augustine's statement of the Logos Spermatikos until several years later). This word, in its turn, triggered a complete rigidity of the body, so that I was aware of being completely in the grip of a higher power. A golden light appeared at the loins and three spiralling lines of light came up the body. The great golden light stopped momentarily at the navel, then rose to the forehead, where it took on the shape of a cone. My whole consciousness went through the horn - and I was immersed in the Ocean of Bliss. Immediately I said, "Of course! I remember. This is my original face." After a very short time, the consciousnesscame back into the body, which was now all white. The golden horn lingered for a few seconds, then came down again into the navel and on back to the loins. I now understood the significance of the myth of the Unicorn. Still, (such is the obstinacy of the ever-clinging ego) despite this overpoweringly blissful rebirth of the Spirit which transformed faith into knowledge, I had no certitude that the Spirit which had led me to this beatitude of Light was truly Bhagavan. Thus was I questioning several nights later, "How do I know it is Bhagavan who has rescued me from my ignorance and not simply any 'familiar' spirit?" when once again my body was gripped by a superior force. Slowly my head was turned in the chair to the left, where the picture of Bhagavan which had first enthralled me in New Mexico was hanging. My gaze was held rigidly on the picture for some time while the thought came to my mind from an inner voice, 'Now do you see? Now, at last, do you see?'

Now at last I saw. The power of the Holy Name of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, the beatitude and salvation in His holy gaze, have been my surety and bliss since that day. To me, now, all life is a countless succession of Bhagavan's favors; many extraordinary things have happened daily. Pain and suffering have not disappeared from my life, but I accept them now as the will of Bhagavan, to whom I have surrendered as best I can. I am conscious at all timesof the Real Presence of my Saviour. May I one day be worthy of the overpowering Love which He has showered upon me.

--The Mountain Path, January 1966

Robert Hanlon would sometimes visit Arunachala Ashrama in New York during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter