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Concentration, Attention & Self-Surrender

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In the same way as they struggle to be born into this world, human beings also struggle to be born into the next. The way they quit their bodies at this monumental instant, when the future is at stake for them, depends on the way they have lived their lives and might be compared to that of newborns who labor to emerge from their mothers’ wombs. While the dying are trying to take their last breath, a vertiginous question, not formulated in words, rises up from the depths of their being.  “What have I done with my life? What have I been occupied with throughout my existence? Where am I going now?”

The suffering that precedes death and the fear of the unknown that they helplessly undergo at that fatal moment—when their future destiny is being decided—can be considerably relieved if, through a serious spiritual practice, they have come to know the other aspect of their double nature, which transcends temporal existence and to which they have already learned to abandon themselves.

It is only insofar as the aspirant is capable of consenting to let go of everything, to die to herself, and to abandon herself to something higher within her during her meditation sessions that she will be able to abandon herself to death without resisting when that ultimate moment comes for her.

When unenlightened human beings come to the very last moments of their lives and begin to feel the approach of death, they become, most often, strangely strong within themselves and cling to their earthly bodies tenaciously, even frenziedly. At that dramatic moment when they are battling with an invisible adversary, they find within themselves—despite all their infirmities and their physical and emotional suffering—an astonishing strength to prolong their existence, which only increases their distress. However, death is an implacable god, who once his prey is seized, does not let it go before having pulled it into his enigmatic world.

It must be noted that, despite the fact that human beings cannot help continually seeing around them the inevitable end of all that has known a beginning (whether that be a human, an animal, or a plant), yet, when their own lives approach their term, they resist their departure with surprising obstinacy. When one lights a candle, one knows perfectly well that its flame cannot last eternally or, if one delights in some food that one likes, one certainly does not expect it to be inexhaustible, so why do people hope, against all logic, that their bodies will be the exception to this rule?

* * *

As long as human beings remain imprisoned within themselves and their fear of the unknown before the ordeal of their physical death and they cling to their old, worn-out bodies, which have become useless to them at this inevitable moment, the door that leads to the Light of their Celestial Being remains closed to them.

If, during their lives, they have not undertaken the necessary step allowing them to recognize the Superior Aspect of their double nature, which transcends material existence, then they will only ever see themselves as a fragile body, made up only of flesh and bone, conditioned by the flow of time, and continually prey to external dangers that lie in wait for it. Consequently, all contact with the outside world will awaken within them a conscious or unconscious fear, which will continue to grow as they age. Without being conscious of it, they will, in the end, experience everything as a threat to their physical envelopes, which they will believe to be themselves and without which they will be persuaded that they will cease to be. This is the reason why they will try to cling on to their old bodies, without which they will be lost and disoriented, but which they will, nonetheless, have to leave behind them. An intense fear will overwhelm them then and they will struggle, albeit uselessly, against the inevitable.

At the end of this dramatic struggle, which will seem to the dying like the occurrence of an immense cosmic dissolution, they will begin to cross the bridge between life and death, an intermediary passage (or a “neutral” state of being) where they will be confronted with the Light of a Clear Consciousness that they have always carried within them, without ever having apprehended it.

At this crucial moment, they will find themselves, so to speak, on a long road, one end of which leads towards the world of the senses, which they are leaving behind them, while the other end, which seems to disappear into a mysterious mist, goes towards the Life beyond time and space. People who are not enlightened will infallibly look behind, in the direction of the earthly life they are quitting, with painful yearning and, as they will not understand the world of the Infinite, which will stretch before them (but which, in fact, is within them), they will contemplate it with fear. It will seem to them to be a terrifying void towards which they will feel helplessly drawn and into which they will believe they will disappear forever.

It is necessary to come back to the strange phenomenon existing in the Universe and in all Creation, which consists in wanting to repeat or relive what has already happened or already been experienced at a given moment. Once people have known an agreeable sensation, performed an action, or even had a simple thought, an uncontrollable desire to want to reproduce those sensations, actions, and thoughts installs itself in them. As they repeat them, they can no longer help seeking to relive them or rethink them, to the point where these actions, these thoughts, and these sensations finally engender in them an irresistible impulse that they can no longer rid themselves of—unless they set themselves to a serious spiritual practice and come to know themselves and to know the superior aspect of their double nature.

Consequently, as soon as they think, do, or feel anything whatsoever, attachment to what becomes familiar to them installs itself in them. The constant repetition of what they think, do, or feel conditions them and, if these actions, thoughts, or emotions are of an undesirable nature, it closes to them the door that opens onto vaster inner perspectives and other dimensions that transcend the world of the senses. Thus they remain fearful of the unknown and cling to the only impressions they are familiar with, which prevents them being new and open to new forms of knowledge that are inaccessible to the average human being.

Without knowing it, human beings imprison themselves in what they are accustomed to feel and to know, which will inevitably condition the final thoughts and final desires that they will take with them at the moment of their death, which thoughts and desires will determine the level of being and consciousness to which they will inevitably gravitate.

Thus, their future destiny will be determined by the penchants that their predominant thoughts and desires will have soldered into them throughout their sojourn on this Earth.

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For dying people who have not consecrated themselves to the quest for their True Identity, the problem that arises for them at this crucial instant consists in consenting to abandon all that they believe they possess (including name, form, identity, their own bodies—which, in reality, do not belong to them or, rather, have never even belonged to them) and to quit this world as they came into it, that is to say, empty-handed—or, in other words, to accept losing the unreal within themselves in order to accede to the Real, for all that has happened to them during their brief sojourn on this Earth, as well as all the agreeable or disagreeable experiences they may have had, had no other aim than to help them to know themselves.

The attachment they bear towards the world of the senses, their planetary bodies, and all the agreeable impressions and sensations they may have felt in this form of existence cannot but make this passage towards the unknown extremely difficult for them. Unfortunately for them, there is practically never someone at their side who possesses the necessary knowledge and understanding to help them at this decisive moment.

Death, which must be accepted both as a deliverance from suffering (when the body has become too worn out, infirm, and uninhabitable) and as an initiation to another world within oneself—an initiation to an inner state of being unknown to human beings in their ordinary condition—is regarded by the dying as a frightening enemy before whom they find themselves helpless and defenseless.

What makes this ultimate moment still more difficult to undergo is that the people around them, who are ignorant of everything in this fundamental domain, seek, by all means, medical or otherwise, to hold them back and prevent their departure, with no other result than to prolong the process of their dying and increase their physical and emotional pain. 

This thoughtless attitude can only be compared to the unawareness of someone who, without realizing the gravity of what she does, would forcibly prevent a child from emerging from her mother’s belly when the moment comes for her delivery from the maternal womb.

In the very last moments preceding death, it is possible that the dying may be, for the first time in their lives, in an entirely particular state of abandon, that it was never possible for them to experience before, by way of which the foretaste of a strange intuitive comprehension will be able to begin to make itself silently felt in their beings.

The state of extreme physical weakness in which they may find themselves at that moment, to the point, sometimes, of no longer being able to move—a situation that may have already occurred over the course of their lives, during a serious illness or a high fever—favors this abandonment of themselves, in such a way that nothing external counts for them anymore. It is possible that, precisely because of this particular state in which they find themselves at this moment, they may come to apprehend a little the true meaning of their earthly existence and realize what they have done with it hitherto, in order to be prepared, as far as possible, to confront what awaits them after their physical death.

However, in seeking to forcibly hold them back, one keeps them, as previously said, between two states, which stultifies them ever more and robs them of the last chance they perhaps could have had to turn their gaze in the opposite direction to that of the world of the senses to which they are bidding their farewells.

* * *

Contrary to what one might be tempted to believe, abandoning oneself at this crucial hour is perhaps the most difficult act to understand and perform. Thus all the meditation practice the aspirant undertakes is, in fact, an apprenticeship with a view to the ultimate abandonment of herself and of all that might hinder her at the implacable moment of her physical death, in order that she might then rejoin her Original Homeland.

The seeker’s work to learn to abandon herself and die to herself must start from the beginning of her spiritual practices. Furthermore, she must accept the fact that only tenacious efforts (which are the proof of serious work on herself) will be able to tear her away from her ordinary self in order to help her to discover within herself her True Divine Identity, which transcends phenomenal life, before the fatal moment comes for her to confront the god of death who will order her to renounce herself, together with the world of the senses, which she will hitherto have known, in order to undertake her great return journey towards the Infinite.

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Death of one of his pupils.

One of his pupils, called Christian, whom Salim had not seen for a while got back in contact with him and told him, in despair, that, although hardly more than forty years old, he was about to die and that he needed Salim for this initiatory crossing.

When he was hospitalized a few days later, Salim was able to speak to him by telephone; he reminded him to try to find and to hold the state of lucidity and of unusual consciousness of himself that Salim had tried to provoke in him in the past with the help of certain exercises. He emphasized as well the importance of departing while being at peace and in a state of benevolence towards the whole world.

A few hours before the end, Salim had the opportunity of murmuring to him by telephone precious words, indispensable at this crucial moment. He said, calling him by his name: “Christian, abandon yourself, do not resist. Accept, abandon yourself with trust...” The person who was at the dying man's bedside continued to repeat these same words until the end, which was serene and tranquil. During several months, Salim continued his help by visualizing his pupil happy, smiling, at peace, bathed in divine light, until he felt that he had done all that was possible to help him.

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Death and the Meaning of Meditation


In addition to its capital importance in helping the aspirant to recognize the Superior Aspect of her double nature, any serious meditation practice also constitutes an initiation into death.

Without the seeker realizing it, throughout the time she is meditating, she is thereby also learning how to die; she is, in fact, preparing herself for the great departure from the phenomenal world that one day awaits her. This is because, as her meditation deepens and she becomes more and more inwardly absorbed, her concentration (if it is sufficiently intense) distances her from herself and—without her necessarily realizing at the beginning what is happening to her—in the end causes her to lose her identity, her name, her form, her image of herself, the way she feels, and everything that constitutes her individuality as she habitually knows it, so that she is transformed into the state whence she originally emerged.

When a beginner hears it said that if she wants to know the Source whence she emerged, she has to rid herself of all that makes up her ordinary individuality, she is gripped by fear. It is difficult for a seeker to understand, at the beginning of this mysterious inner journey, that, just as it is impossible to occupy a dwelling that is already occupied by someone else, in the same way, the two aspects of her double nature cannot coexist. When the superior aspect of her being is dominant, the inferior aspect of her nature cannot, by an inexorable law, but be eclipsed and, when the inferior aspect of herself is dominant, then it is the superior aspect of her nature that is eclipsed. That is why a sacrifice is asked of the aspirant that is not easy for her to accept at the beginning.

At the start of this enigmatic adventure within her being, she cannot understand that death to herself during her meditation—which is a condition that she cannot circumvent—constitutes the only way to open to her the door to another life within herself, a superior life, which makes pale the familiar corporeal sensation, which was hitherto the only factor through which she could experience the feeling of her existence.

Many seekers in the West, as well as in India, demonstrate an astonishing lack of realism when, in the most absurd way and without realizing it, they firmly believe that at the end of their quest, God, the Sublime, Nirvana, or their Celestial Being will consist of “something” that they will be able, quite simply, to add to their ordinary self, while they continue to remain what they habitually are, without having to renounce anything whatsoever within themselves.

It is difficult for the aspirant to understand, when she sets out on a spiritual path, that only the renunciation of what she ordinarily is and all that she is attached to will allow her to be lighter in herself, thus making the great return journey that awaits her easier, when the hour of her death comes.

* * *

Human beings spend approximately one third of their lives in nocturnal sleep. What is the relationship between death and this sleep into which they sink every night? Apart from its usefulness in enabling her to recover her strength after the fatigue of the day, perhaps sleep holds an important clue allowing a wise aspirant to come to understand, even if only a little, the after-death state that inexorably awaits her.

When someone is carried away or, rather, sucked into herself in her nocturnal sleep, the Universe, as well as her belongings, her friends, her family, and even her own body, no longer exists for her. The life she has been through from her earliest infancy until that moment also finds itself entirely obliterated. It is as though she had never even lived it. In this enigmatic state into which she is plunged, has time too not ceased to exist for the sleeper? And does the sleeper not then reach the Eternal Now, but without understanding It?

Moreover, despite the fact that she no longer recognizes the manifest existence of either the Cosmos or herself as a human being, can one really claim that she is totally unconscious in her nocturnal sleep? Is she not rather gone to join another state of being and consciousness within her that she does not know or does not seek to know or decipher when she wakes in the morning and finds herself again as she habitually knows herself in her diurnal state?

It may be that, without realizing it ordinarily, human beings have a precious opportunity to succeed, provided that they take the trouble to make the necessary effort, in apprehending, during their meditation, something of the after-death state that it is impossible for them to discover in their customary everyday state—something that is close to the mysterious state in which they find themselves immersed again every night of their lives when they are carried away by their nocturnal sleep.

All human beings fear dying—a fear that is closely connected to the fear of losing their physical bodies with which they identify so completely and which (for them, as for all other living creatures) have become the instruments through which alone they can taste the pleasures of the sensory world and also have some proof, however limited it may be, that they exist. Thus, they nurture within themselves the feeling (conscious or unconscious) that, without their bodies, not only will they cease to exist, but that they will thereby lose any possibility of the sensory pleasure to which they are attached. So, if they do not undertake a serious spiritual practice, they will continue to be ignorant of the presence within themselves of the other aspect of their double nature, which is infinitely more real than the tangible and richer than all the fleeting pleasures that the existential world can offer them.

* * *

Throughout their terrestrial lives, every night human beings undergo a little death when they sink into their nocturnal sleep. They die to themselves, to the Universe, and to all that has happened to them over the course of the day—including what they have had by way of agreeable or even painful experiences.[85] Yet they willingly consent to be carried away by these repeated little deaths. What is more, they may be very displeased if anyone prevents them sleeping.

If they do not fear undergoing these nocturnal deaths, is it only because they know from experience (even though nothing is certain in this form of existence) that they will reawaken the following day, or is it because they keep, in their sleep, a certain form of consciousness that can only otherwise be apprehended in a state of profound meditation? And what of the great death that inexorably awaits all incarnate beings?

Does the fact that human beings die every night of their lives and “come back to life” the following day not constitute for the seeker a clue that a similar phenomenon might occur following the great physical death ... and do so in order that they might have the possibility of accomplishing an enigmatic task that cannot be effected in one single and brief earthly existence?

After having consecrated her whole life to trying to perfect herself in an artistic, scientific, or mystical domain, hardly has someone arrived at a result, than the implacable god of death arises before her and carries her away; she then finds herself forced to quit this world without having attained the objective she had set herself. Must it be concluded that all the work she has accomplished hitherto, which has cost her so much effort, has been in vain? Or will there be a new possibility for her to find again the conditions allowing her to pursue what she could not finish before, in order to bring it to completion? Her earthly existence would have no meaning if all the efforts she had made and the little she had begun to know were to stop at that stage and she were to sink definitively into death.

* * *

Birth and death are, according to an incontrovertible law, closely linked in the manifest world. All that has been born into a tangible form is, sooner or later, destined to dissolution—which none can escape. However, perhaps, contrary to what is ordinarily thought, birth into matter is a death and death a birth.

The Universe itself, as well as the countless galaxies and celestial bodies that it contains are all, at every moment that passes, intimately inhabited by death. Like human beings, or any other creature incarnated in matter, they too, through an inexorable law, will go irreversibly towards death and dissolution to be one day reabsorbed into the Great Infinite—in which (as the trees do during winter) they will sleep perhaps for a certain period before reawakening once more in time and space to begin a new cycle of existence in matter.

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The Meaning of Earthy Life

What a mystery life is! For what enigmatic reason has it descended into matter? From what Unfathomable Source did it arise? What is its true meaning? What does it seek to teach human beings about themselves, about the Universe, and about their relationship with the Infinite? Knowledge that it would perhaps be impossible for them to acquire without the experiences terrestrial life brings them, despite the moral and physical suffering involved in the fall into matter.

So as to come to understand, even if only a little, the mystery of death, perhaps it is necessary to begin first by trying to understand the enigma of life itself, which is generally accepted as a self-evident fact that is not questioned. However, to try to understand life and the sacred role it seems destined to play in the Universe, must one not try to live it otherwise than one does ordinarily?

Human beings need to recognize that it is impossible for them to come to decipher the enigma of life by the analysis of matter alone. Instead of keeping their minds directed only towards the material world, they must rather begin to seek the answer within themselves. They must, through assiduous concentration and meditation practice, come to discover, in their own beings, the Source whence they (like all manifest life) originally emerged and to which they will return at the end of their tumultuous peregrinations in the world of the senses.

As soon as they are incarnated in matter, the phenomenon of forgetting insidiously begins to work in human beings, gradually eclipsing the memory of the Invisible Source whence they arose and replacing it with the attraction of the visible, through all that the world of the senses offers them by way of distractions and pleasures. Plunged thus into this state of forgetting, they cannot apprehend that all the good and the beauty that are visible around them are only evanescent shadows of the Source whence all manifest forms sprang forth.

Having forgotten their Original Source, they have their gazes and minds turned only towards the exterior of themselves, with the conviction that changing the conditions of the phenomenal world will resolve all their difficulties. Thus they spend their existence desperately trying to fix in place what is agreeable to them—often at the expense of others—without understanding that the conditions of phenomenal life cannot remain static, because they are subject to the erosion of time. Consequently, they find themselves always occupied in running after the shadow they see before them, which ceaselessly flees them, forgetting the existence of the light behind them, which causes the shadow.

It is not the external world that must change to resolve the problems human beings encounter, but they themselves who must change if they wish to be fulfilled and happy. Life was not created for their satisfaction; it is rather they who have been created to respond to an enigmatic need of their Creator, which can only be apprehended after a long practice of assiduous meditation.

Perhaps the Divine needs the existence of a form of life evolved and conscious enough to recognize its Holy Presence in the Cosmos.

As previously said, when human beings are carried away by their nocturnal sleep, the whole Universe disappears and no longer exists for them; what is more, it is as though it had never existed. They must awaken from their sleep for the existence of the Universe and the phenomenal world around them to be perceived. In the same way, they need to awaken from another form of sleep (in which they are plunged in their diurnal state) in order to be able to recognize within them the Holy Presence of their Creator. However, awakening human beings from their sleep is hardly easy.

Their attitude towards life and Creation must change. It is not the manifest world that they must try to know first; they should rather begin by seeking to know themselves, to know what they really are, from what Mysterious Source they emerged, and where they will go or, rather, into what enigmatic state they will be reabsorbed when the inevitable death of their corporeal envelopes occurs for them.

When the aspirant begins to know herself, she will thereby begin to know the Universe too, as well as her relation to it.

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From the fateful moment that human beings draw in their first breath of life, death remains always silently at their side, inexorably waiting to lead them into his kingdom—a tenacious companion from whom they cannot separate themselves, any more than they could detach themselves from their shadow. Despite the fact that, during their passage on Earth, they inevitably undergo the pain of a parent’s death, the loss of a friend, or even the shock of a neighbour’s passing, nevertheless, by one of the strangest of phenomena, they carry within them the curious unconscious sentiment that such an event only happens to others and will never touch them personally.

Thus, they use the precious gift of their lives in pursuing transitory pleasures, wanting to acquire material goods, seeking the admiration of others, or dissipating themselves in futile chatter, without ever thinking of preparing for that implacable event that inevitably awaits them.

Just as a child needs help to be born into the phenomenal world, in the same way, those who are dying need assistance at the difficult moment of their departure. They need to learn how to accept dying and this crucial apprenticeship must begin very early in the lives of human beings.

The various spiritual paths are not only means destined to help the aspirant in her quest for the Divine Aspect of her nature, but they must also teach her, from the beginning, to accept her physical death. In fact, all the spiritual work that the seeker tries to carry out on herself, teaches her, at the same time, and without her necessarily realizing it at the beginning, how to die.

The assiduous meditation practice, together with the various concentration exercises to which she consecrates herself, must constitute a sort of continual apprenticeship in consenting to let go of everything, to abandon herself trustingly, and to consent, without resisting, to return to the Source whence she originally emerged, when the inevitable moment arises for her to quit the world of the senses that she has known hitherto.

That delicate step cannot be accomplished if the aspirant has not succeeded, during her meditation, in accepting the loss of her individuality as she habitually knows it in order to come to recognize, through direct experience, the Source whence she sprang forth and into which she is destined, from the beginning of her initiation into phenomenal life, to be reabsorbed. Even if she does not realize it at the beginning of this strange spiritual adventure, it is only following this crucial discovery that she will have a better chance of being able to confront, with a certain tranquillity of mind, that vertiginous moment that awaits all living beings that have taken form in matter.

* * *

The aspirant must consecrate her whole life to her spiritual practices (without neglecting her duties towards her fellows and, in particular, towards the people who share her life) in anticipation of that initiatory hour that awaits her at the end of her stay on this Earth; she will then find herself confronted, in a way that she neither expects nor apprehends in her lifetime, with herself and with what she has done with her life, whether that life has been creative, mediocre, or fruitless.

Just as a certain separation of themselves and of all they are habitually occurs in human beings during their nocturnal sleep (in the course of which they are immersed in a state that remains always incomprehensible to them in their diurnal state), in the same way, when death has taken them, they will find themselves plunged within themselves in a state that they will not be able to apprehend. If they have prepared nothing during their lifetimes in anticipation of this monumental instant, they will be caught unawares when a certain separation occurs between their customary self and the Superior Aspect of their nature, by way of which they will see, without any possible evasion, what they really were in themselves during their brief passage on this Earth and, above all, they will perceive the consequences of all that they have thought, said, and done on their beings and their future destinies—which they will have unknowingly traced for themselves. Furthermore, they will be unable to avoid, at that fatal moment, gravitating to a plane of consciousness that will correspond to their level of being and to what they will have done with themselves during their peregrinations on this Earth.

The way people act during their sojourn on this globe depends on what life means for them and it will condition the sorts of thoughts and intimate desires (spiritual or otherwise) that will accompany them when they quit this form of existence. The sort of thoughts and desires they will take with them will, in their turn, determine the sort of world they find themselves in after death. They will then be plunged into themselves, in a non-spatio-temporal world, belonging to them alone, which they will have created themselves and which will more or less resemble (but on a completely different scale) the world they created for themselves in their lifetimes, during their nocturnal dreams.

If existential life has been, for them, only an occasion to enjoy the pleasures it offered them, they will have lost a precious opportunity to discover, through developing concentration and attention, their True Divine Identity and the True Life within them, which transcends time and space.

At the moment of their death, all the elevated situations they may have occupied during their existence, as well as all the prestige they may have enjoyed, will be of no use for the crossing between life and death that awaits them, nor, above all, to help them understand the state in which they will find themselves after having abandoned their planetary bodies.

Just as in their lifetimes, they believed implicitly in the unreal world they created for themselves with their own minds when they were plunged into the dreams of their nocturnal sleep, in a similar way, if they are not enlightened, the dead will helplessly believe in all that unfolds within them after death, which will also spring from their own minds.

All that they will have done during their lifetimes and all that they will have soldered into them by way of being and thinking will play a determining role at the moment they have to quit the phenomenal world; they will then find themselves either confident or afraid in the face of death.

* * *

In addition to the meditation practice and concentration exercises in active life that the seeker must undertake to come to know the Sublime within her, alongside this, she must wage a true struggle against any undesirable tendency or thought that bars the route to her spiritual aspirations, against any indifference she may feel towards the suffering of other living creatures, and against any impulse that sometimes drives her to blindly satisfy her desires, without taking into account the damage she may subsequently cause, as much to herself as to others.

It is only when she quits her planetary body that someone can see herself in a right way which, unless she has undertaken certain spiritual work on herself to know herself, it is very difficult for her to do in her lifetime, because of the force of gravity and her identification with her body and her desires. It is at that dramatic moment that she will realize the true implications for her future destiny of all she has done or neglected to do during her life—actions that she has performed and that she perhaps should not have done, as well as actions she has neglected to accomplish and that she should have done, which, all, are waiting to find her again in an indeterminate future towards which she is traveling, whether she likes it or not.

The attitude of human beings towards death depends on what their attitude is towards life, as well as the meaning life has for them. The conscious or unconscious fear of life that gradually installs itself in them during their lifetimes also creates within them an apprehension regarding death. What is paradoxical is that they are afraid of life and, at the same time, they cling onto it more and more—and this clinging only adds to their apprehension of death.

When the hour comes for them to bid their farewells to all they have known and all they may have enjoyed during their brief sojourn on this globe, the way they confront this initiatory crossing will inevitably result from the understanding they will have acquired of the true meaning of their passage on Earth, the consideration they felt towards life and towards all living creatures, as well as the respect they carried within them with regard to the Sacred.

 If the aspirant has spent her earthly existence seeking the answer to the enigma of her Origin and her inevitable death and if the knowledge she has acquired concerning the mystery of her life and Creation has made her thoughtful, wise, creative, and sensitive to the suffering of all that has been born into a fragile body, then, having done what she had to do and given to life what she had to give it, she will be able to pass through the dark corridor of death with confidence and a tranquil mind to go towards the Infinite.

Any help a seeker receives by way of a spiritual teaching constitutes, or rather should constitute, an apprenticeship for death. While she struggles with her rebellious mind to remain concentrated during her meditation practice or her spiritual exercises, she is, in fact (even if she does not realize it during the moments when she is concentrated), learning to die to herself and to her ordinary identity, but die in order to be reborn.

It is necessary, through the purifying fire of the sun, for the dirty water to lose its individuality as water and to evaporate in order to be transformed into clouds, before it can be reborn as pure water and give life back to the earth.

Death, in the Universe and Creation, is a necessity, without which a transformation cannot occur. And, just as dead leaves must fall from the trees to allow the birth, in spring, of new foliage, in the same way, the “old self” in human beings needs to die and leave them to allow the birth of a new being within them.

* * *

For most people (who have never sought to know the origin of phenomenal existence nor the Source whence they emerged and who believe that their life unfolds only in time and the world that is familiar to them), death constitutes a formidable enemy whom they must try to avoid by all means.

It is difficult for human beings to understand that they can only transcend death if they find the strength to turn their gaze in the opposite direction to that of the phenomenal world, to renounce all that does not help them to prepare for their inevitable death, and to devote their lives to the quest for their Source of Origin—which is situated beyond birth and dissolution and cannot, therefore, be touched by death. It is only then that their earthly life will be able to become a door to the Infinite and a manifestation of their True Divine Identity, which transcends duality.

It is only when a date stone consents to die to itself, to its individuality, that it is possible for it to be reborn on a more elevated plane and to transform itself into a superb palm tree, subsequently producing an abundance of fruits that are useful to the person who has planted it. In a similar manner, it is only in accepting this death to herself that an aspirant can be reborn and grow into a being worthy of being used by her Creator and bringing salutary assistance to her fellows.

Throughout the time the seeker is struggling to remain concentrated during her meditation practice, she is, in fact, learning to renounce everything she wants and does not want ordinarily and to die gradually until the inevitable moment comes when the gate of the Great Death opens before her and she will be ordered to accept the final loss of her customary individuality in order to immerse herself in the immensity of the Cosmic Being whence she originally sprang forth.

It is only through constant practice of concentration that the aspirant has a chance of succeeding in tearing herself away from the inferior aspect of her double nature, as well as from the attachment that she feels towards her own planetary body, to discover, in the background of her physical appearance, the Infinite—which is beyond this precarious and limited form of existence.

Human beings are come to Earth to witness the Divine, which constitutes their true heritage and transcends the ephemeral world of the senses.

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Spiritual dreams


The different categories of dreams. It was at this time that Salim had several distinctive dreams which were, for him, incontestably spiritual in nature, and which brought him precious guidance at moments in his life when he was in the greatest need of help. These dreams would normally come to him very early in the morning, when he was on the point of waking.


Those related below are given by way of example only, as he had many others. In the first dream, he found himself in a vast room, illuminated on his left by high windows. In a corner, in front of him, was a bed. A fairly old spiritual master was lying on this bed. The master was the size of a child. He was crucified like Christ, and was agonizing on his cross. An atmosphere of intense suffering reigned in this place. It was Salim’s duty to take care of this dying man and he felt deep sorrow for him. Through the large door that opened behind him he could hear a sizeable crowd which, unconcerned by the pain of the man being crucified, chattered incessantly. Little by little, this crowd entered into the room until, finally, it entirely filled it. Salim tried in vain to interrupt this futile and pointless prattling. He was saddened by his powerlessness to make this mass of people understand the gravity of the drama that was unfolding. The dream ended there; distraught by the impression that it left within him, Salim remained preoccupied by its meaning for a long time. He realized that, in fact, the man being crucified was him, or, rather, the superior aspect of his nature, and that the noisy crowd was composed of the different characters who, within him as within every human being, invaded his mind and represented a source of continual distraction. All this inner chatter and all these futile thoughts were preventing him from remaining centered on his goal, in other words, preventing him from connecting with the Divine Aspect of his nature which would remain crucified within him until he discovered the means to silence these interferences.


At another time, he had a dream that made a strong impression on him. He found himself in a deep well, dark and frightening. Far above him, he could see a bright light while all around him there was nothing but mud and darkness. He felt lost and terrified. He called for help in order to be able to get out of this well. Instantly two arms, without a body, descended; one was holding a large hammer and the other enormous nails. The two hands quickly set to work, hammering a nail into the wall of the well around every fifty centimeters until they reached top, then the arms vanished. Salim awoke very troubled, anxious to decipher the meaning of this dream. It took a little time for him to understand the message: help would be given him, but only up to a certain point. It would then be up to him to accomplish his share of the effort required to climb the ladder and reach the inner Light he aspired so ardently to reach.


In the third dream that came to him at this time, he found himself in a cathedral. A faint bluish glimmer fell from the stained glass windows; a strange atmosphere reigned. Many tombs lay side by side in the nave and a tall priest dressed in a long dark robe addressed him with solemnity; he was speaking to him directly in his mind, without the medium of words. As Salim was not able to grasp what the priest was trying to communicate to him in a severe manner, the priest then raised his arm to order him to look to his right. Salim turned apprehensively and saw, just behind him, a naked figure, neither man nor woman, standing on a tombstone. What struck him was that in the place of its head, was a white marble cross. While the asexual being descended slowly into the burial vault until it had completely disappeared, the marble cross was confirming, with an uninterrupted affirmative nod, that in fact, what the priest was trying to communicate was right and just, and that he must accept it. It was only later that Salim understood the meaning of this mysterious dream. At an unexpected moment, he abruptly realized that, if he wanted to progress in his spiritual approach, he would have to die to himself. The marble cross in the place of the head symbolized that which must be continually sacrificed, in other words the mind and the idea that one has of oneself.


Following the various experiences he had in this domain, Salim classified the dreams in three categories.


The first included all the ordinary dreams that one might have, which result from the influence of events experienced during the day, during the preceding days, or even in a more distant past. These dreams can reveal certain aspects of oneself, and it may prove interesting to study them. It is principally this category of dream that is the object of interpretation in contemporary psychology.


The dreams described above belong to a second category and are extremely important for an aspirant engaged upon a spiritual path. Their purpose is to help the aspirant overcome certain difficulties encountered in his quest or to understand which direction he should take, which he is unable to fathom in his diurnal state due to his identification with the demands of the external world. These dreams come from the superior aspect of his nature and always leave him with an impression of profound mystery which insistently incites him to question their meaning.


Finally, there is a third category of dream which Salim subdivided into two. It includes, on one hand, telepathic dreams. This type of dream results from receiving thoughts or intentions that another person has just emitted about the author of the dream. It testifies to a particularly receptive state that can occur during nocturnal sleep. For example, a person receives a letter whose content has already been revealed during a dream; or an acquaintance or even a stranger may come to visit, and the dreamer had encountered this very same person recently in a dream. And there are, on the other hand, premonitory dreams, whereby one is forewarned several days before a person dies, or of a danger to be avoided. One can even dream, as is the case in the example that will be mentioned below, of an event that will only happen many years later. One finds oneself then, with amazement, in the same places, making the same gestures, and feeling the same feelings that one experienced in a dream a long time before.


While Salim was still living in Paris, he had a very curious dream which unfolded in three sequences and which left him, subsequently, feeling very troubled. Initially he was walking beside a young blond woman on a high mountain plateau and, on arriving at a clump of three trees that stood out against the sky, he raised his hand to wave goodbye as she moved away from him to his right. He then found himself walking alone along a cliff top beside the ocean; he looked down towards the foot of this cliff where three huge smooth rocks rose up and were being battered by the waves. A strange atmosphere permeated the scene. He lifted his head quickly but the sun was so dazzling that he had to raise his arm to protect his eyes. The scenery changed once more, and he was now walking in a western street which was becoming ever foggier, colder, and more sinister; he felt so frozen that he cried out vehemently: “But, I don’t want to go this way, I want to go where there is some sun!” The years passed and, when he found himself in India, in Darjeeling, he was walking on a high mountain plateau, alongside a young woman who had become his wife, when he suddenly realized that she was the very same woman who had appeared in the dream he had had in Paris three months before even meeting her for the first time, more than nine years previously. Then, the same three huge trees that he had seen in his dream came into view on the horizon. Three weeks later, when he was in Pondicherry, tormented by a decision he was facing concerning his marriage, he was walking along a cliff top, in deep thought, letting his gaze drop down to the shore where there were three huge blocks of smooth stone; surprised to recognize the scenery from the second part of his dream, he raised his eyes suddenly, but the sun was so strong he had to protect his eyes with his arm, and the whole scene came flooding back to his memory with astonishing clarity. Lastly, several months later, he had gone back to his family in London for a few weeks; he had been heartbroken at having left India. He decided one day to go out and walk a little. It was a glacial month of December; he found himself plunged into the thick London fog when, suddenly, he remembered, with his amazement, the final part of his dream, while saying to himself in despair: “But I don’t want to stay here, I want to go back to India, where there is some sun!” It was as if, mysteriously, he had been warned, nine years earlier, of the ordeal that he was currently going through.


Salim often spoke in his books of the state into which a human being is plunged during his nocturnal sleep, and which is an indication, both of the state one will experience after death (although that will be on an entirely different scale), as well as of another dimension in which time no longer exists for the sleeper. When one dreams, the psychic world in which one is immersed no longer obeys the rules of time and space of the familiar universe that one experiences in the diurnal state. Premonitory and telepathic dreams illustrate the unsuspected possibilities of the mind and its mysterious capacity to transcend, on occasions, the spatio-temporal dimensions in which one is ordinarily imprisoned.


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Meditation: is consciousness condensed in matter?


Salim knew that meditation, in the most authentic meaning of the word, demanded his complete vigilance and the greatest sincerity. But he had also understood that he would have to take care never to force it.

The effort of remaining present to himself, although firm, must, at the same time, be quiet and full of gentleness. The intensity of this effort had to be just right, neither too much nor too little. He learned, little by little, the subtle art of recognizing when he was approaching the right and delicate moment to begin cautiously relinquishing his effort, to abandon himself to that which was superior within himself, and to what extent he could do this without risking falling back into his habitual state.

As he deepened his meditation and prolonged its duration, he felt the liberation and the expansion of his consciousness more and more. His consciousness seemed to grow infinitely and to become more and more luminous, fine, and ethereal. Furthermore, instead of the dense and weighty matter of his bodily form that he was used to feeling, he felt the indescribable sensation of a very subtle and ineffable ethereal transparency of being.

An intense longing arose from deep within him, encouraging him to want to give himself over forever to this unaccustomed state of being, but, at the same time, he realized the impossibility for him of such an accomplishment at this stage of his spiritual evolution.

Every time that he came out of his meditation, he felt the disconcerting sense of his consciousness retracting and becoming matter once more, thus returning to his dense and habitual bodily form. While he was reaching ever higher levels of being, he experienced, when coming out of his meditation, the feeling that there occurred effectively an expansion of his consciousness, every time that it was no longer condensed in a material form, and a retraction when it condensed itself once more and returned to its dense material form.

A mysterious thought then began to grow and to take form in his being: perhaps the final liberation of consciousness for a human being consisted in permanently losing the need (ingrained by force of habit) to descend once more into matter and to take some kind of form – which was ordinarily necessary to him in order to experience the feeling and the knowledge of his existence.

Furthermore, and on a much wider scale, a dizzying question arose in his mind and would not stop troubling him: was it possible that these myriads and myriads of celestial bodies inhabiting this immense Universe were, themselves, only consciousness condensed in matter and that the whole Cosmos had, itself, a secret need to liberate itself from its imprisonment in its material manifestation?

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Already posted this chapter else where. Inspiring read...

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Mysterious incursion into another dimension

One morning Salim woke earlier than usual, beset by a curious feeling of unease that he could not explain. No sooner had he washed and dressed than he incomprehensibly felt a pressing and indefinable need to go out for a walk. However, it was a dark December morning, very cold, still immersed in night, with a thick fog which created a ghostly atmosphere and made it difficult to get one’s bearings.

He arrived at the gates of the Buttes Chaumont park, which happened to be open. He went in. The darkness and the fog persisted. Deceived by the unfavorable conditions, he inadvertently strayed into an area that was closed to the public, because, apparently, excavations were being undertaken there. Displeased with himself for not having paid enough attention to the direction he had taken, he had decided to retrace his steps, when he stumbled and fell into a deep hole that he had been unable to see in the dark. Despite all his efforts, he could not manage to get out.

He then entered into contact, without having sought it, with beings from another world, no longer obeying the laws that govern this material universe. 

Finding himself at the exit of the Buttes Chaumont park, he was asking himself anxiously if he had not dreamed it all, when, because of the cold, he plunged his hands into his pockets and he felt in one of them an object that surprised him by its unusual feel. Withdrawing his hand, he discovered, to his astonishment, that it was the mauve flower that had been given to him as a farewell gift by one of these luminous beings. Amazed, he let out a cry and fell to his knees so abruptly that passersby, alarmed, wished to help him. A young woman, who was among them, noticed the flower in his hand and was intrigued by its beauty and dazzling color. She asked him where he had found it, because, she said, she had never seen one like it. He regarded her absently, then, with tears in his eyes, repeated in a voice trembling with emotion: “It wasn’t a dream, I know that I wasn’t dreaming, I know it, I know it…”

Salim had not in any way sought out this astonishing experience. He later recounted this fantastic experience in the form of a spiritual tale, to make it understood that there may come, in the life of a seeker, moments when he needs to take an important decision in order to progress with his spiritual practice, a decision that implies certain renunciations on his part which he may not be ready to make; he thereby risks letting an opportunity pass which may never represent itself.

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Experiences of mystic love.

Through the maturation of his practice, Salim was now finding again, but in a much more tranquil manner, the state of ineffable ecstatic love which had moved him so deeply in Paris on the first occasion that it had flooded his being. Now, a profound cosmic calm flowed through him, he felt a very tranquil but sublime tenderness into which he would quietly merge, and, as always during such out-of-the-ordinary moments, this enigmatic Nada made its presence felt more than ever and, with its eternal jewel-like glitter, sang in his ears its supernal song at the same time as it helped him increase his inner absorption. This, as it deepened, always brought him the strange yet curiously familiar sensation of having returned to the mysterious Source whence he originated, and to which he belonged.

The way this divine flame affected him the first time it illuminated his being with its ineffable love can be compared to that of a fierce fire consuming a log of wood, its flames leaping about wildly in all directions in the wind. And the way it affected him later, when he had acquired deeper spiritual comprehension, more control over his thoughts, and greater inner calm, can be compared to the immobile, soft, and beautiful flame of a candle on a perfectly windless evening

Apart from the moments when he sat alone and meditated, something of this beatific state extended itself afterward of its own accord into his active life, silently stirring him with a melting feeling of quiescent and compassionate love.

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Contact with the infinitely small and the infinitely big.

Salim had always intuitively felt that it was of the greatest importance for him to continually carry a sense of mystery in order that his meditation should not, little by little, fall into a banal routine practice.

Every time he sat down to meditate, he strove to be new, open, without seeking to rediscover experiences that he may have had before. Thus, during deep meditation, he could perceive, through an inner vision, the incessant flux and changes of the various cells, molecules, and atoms in his body. And he realized how this flux secretly influenced his thoughts, moods, and feelings, according to the special characteristics of these invisible entities in him. Equally, his tendencies, habits, and way of thinking affected and influenced the being and pattern of behavior of these corpuscles and atoms, rendering them what they were. By struggling with the outer leanings and habits he could see in himself, he was inevitably modifying the inclinations, way of thinking, and inner nature of the imperceptible cells and atoms in his body as well.

He understood that every change that occurred in his level of consciousness must also affect the various constituents of his planetary body. Thus, the birth of another state of being and of consciousness in him had not failed to reverberate through the different cells and molecules composing his corporeal envelope, so that their way of consciousness mysteriously underwent a gradual modification which, in return, assisted him in his attempts to elevate himself further within himself and to access ever more luminous territories within his being.

At other times, through meditation and his various concentration exercises, a new faculty awoke in him, allowing him an intuitive perception of the Universe and the objects that surrounded him, - an intuitive and direct perception of the fact that, just as the various cells constituting his planetary body were alive, in the same way, the Earth was also an immense living cell in the enigmatic body of the Cosmos. It possessed its own form of life, of intelligence and of consciousness, as well as its own sort of sensitivity to suffering, which it felt much more sharply than one could imagine.

Salim later emphasized to his pupils that it must never be forgotten that we owe an immense debt to our planet - which provides us constantly with air, with water, with food and all other things necessary to our survival and for which we remain ever in its debt. Just as we are conscious of the fragility of our bodies and take great care to protect them, in the same way, it should be an integral part of a spiritual quest to become more and more conscious of the fragility of the Earth, to which we owe the very possibility of being able to pursue our spiritual practices and to protect it with extreme care, considering it as a true mother - as the Native Americans did.

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Is the Universe within oneself?


Thanks to the ever more subtle struggle that he pursued to remain permanently in a state of particular presence to himself, Salim succeeded in experiencing the strange feeling of being non implicated interiorly and, consequently of being "apart" from the manifestations unfolding before him. He finally discovered, through a direct insight – and in a way that filled him with wonder and with reverential awe – that all that presented itself to his gaze was not outside of him, but, in some way, ordinarily impossible to conceive, within him; moreover, this strange observation extended to the whole Universe. This extraordinary experience, so unexpected, left such a strong impression on his feelings and his being that he could no longer accept relying so passively as he had in the past on what his sensory organs communicated to him. Nevertheless, despite the privilege that had been accorded him to go through an experience as elevated as it was unusual, by way of which he had been able to access knowledge of an entirely different order than that which related to the world of the senses, he noted, with regret that, despite his efforts, because of the forces of habit and of gravity he could not keep himself in this state which was, as yet, unfamiliar to him, and that, before realizing what had happened to him, Creation was once again, as before, outside of him.

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Specific spiritual understandings.

“When someone ages,” Salim would say, “if he succeeds in distancing himself from his body, he has the opportunity of acquiring an understanding of the greatest importance for him, to which he cannot come while he is still young and fiercely identified with his corporeal sensations which exercise too great a force of attraction on his being and his mind.”

He confided in me on this subject that he often found himself in a strange inner state from which, contemplating his old worn body, he keenly felt the conviction of being totally “apart” from it and to be only temporarily inhabiting it.

“This body is not part of myself, I am something other than this physical medium,” and he would add: “In the most ordinarily inexplicable manner, I see with, so to speak, my mind’s eye, the invisible aspect of my being which, at these unutterable moments, reveals itself to be the only Reality that exists for me in the whole Universe.”

He sometimes remained unmoving for a long time in this state that he was always reluctant to quit, because his consciousness found itself amplified to a degree impossible to describe.

The Nada vibrated in his head with such intensity that it seemed to him that nothing existed any longer in the Cosmos except this Primordial Sound and this extremely keen Consciousness.

In other circumstances, he reported being spontaneously seized by an impression so troubling that it aroused in him a strange reverential awe, because, he would tell me: “Just like a mysterious tree whose roots lose themselves in a vertiginous infinite, I experience the inexplicable feeling of being the last inheritor of a whole line of ancestors whose history stretches into the depths of a past so inconceivably distant that I am left profoundly disconcerted before the impossibility of imagining its beginnings!” “And, when I undertake my spiritual practices, I have the feeling that I am not accomplishing them only for my benefit and that of the visible world around me, but also for all those invisible characters that inhabit me and are, themselves, awaiting their redemption. At such times, I cannot help feeling the heavy responsibility that falls upon me. “Before this unfathomable mystery, does time not lose all reality? Does one not find oneself facing the strange phenomenon of an ‘eternal nowness’ in which the past and the future are forever converging?”

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The world is surprisingly perfect in its imperfection

Even without taking into account natural disasters, illnesses, the implacability of nature, and the vicissitudes of existential life, being confronted with the terrible suffering brought about by incessant wars unleashed by men hungry for power, everyone is tempted, with good reason, to be appalled and to ask the eternal question: “If the All Powerful Creator is perfect in his Essence, why, then, is this tragic imperfection so rife throughout his Creation?”

Salim would respond: “Through a most paradoxical phenomenon, a human being, cut off from his Divine Source, needs all these misfortunes in order to experience the sensation of existing ”.

He would add: “When looked upon with the right mind and positive inner attitude, it is impossible not to be filled with wonder and reverential admiration at the profound wisdom behind all these problems and hazards in life. Because of the human being’s tendency to inertia, life in its seeming imperfections is indeed benignly perfect.  In his present state, without these harsh conditions compassionately trying to awaken and urge him to look beyond himself and outer appearances to that which is concealed behind all these uncertainties, sorrows, and the impermanency of his physical existence, he would be lost, doomed to remain a wretched and forlorn creature.”

“Suffering drives people to question the meaning of life, to feel for others, to go beyond themselves. Facility generates a tendency towards superficiality, lack of caring for the suffering of others, and weakness of character.”

“The Creative Source cannot change the rules that It has established in the Universe. It leaves human beings with the choice to obey these laws, a choice that It cannot make in their place. If they had, from the outset, been made perfect, they would have no opportunity of recognizing their perfection which they must earn through their own practice.”

“There is a reason for the existence of duality; without it, the human being would have no means of comparison; it is through duality that it is possible for him to recognize the Divine Aspect of his own double nature – just as he would not be able to appreciate and understand the day if there were no night, life if there were no death, happiness if there were no unhappiness. One cannot see and apprehend the light of the celestial bodies without the darkness that surrounds them. That is why the inferior aspect of the human being also has its place in Creation and cannot be blindly held in contempt or considered negatively as a useless obstacle in the path of the seeker; rather it should become the means of reminding him, every time he sinks into this aspect of his double nature, that he also carries within himself his Celestial Aspect which he needs to discover in order to finally immerse himself in It one day. ”

“All that is created in time and space cannot avoid living in duality. Paradoxically, it is not possible to overcome duality unless it is accepted as a necessity in the Universe and Creation; it is inconceivable to be able to comprehend something without its comparison with its opposite. If there were no inhalation, one could not imagine exhalation, if birth did not exist, one could not conceive of the reality of death; without creation, it would be impossible to understand dissolution. ”

“In order for the aspirant to succeed in overcoming duality, he has to begin by understanding it and recognizing its reason for being in the phenomenal world. As a method of comparison between two worlds, it proves indispensable in helping him to become conscious of himself in a completely different manner to the way he is habitually so that he may come one day, through assiduous efforts which he must agree to make, to find the place he is destined to occupy in the immensity of this mysterious Cosmos. ”

“Duality represents only a stage that cannot really be understood and overcome until the aspirant has succeeded in recognizing in himself, through direct experience, the Divine Aspect of his double nature. ”

“One day, he has to come to accept the complete loss of his customary individuality during meditation in order to be metamorphosed into his Divine Essence. After this supreme discovery, he will no longer argue with his fellow beings, whether he be man, woman,  Christian,  Jew,  Muslim,  Hindu, English,  German,  French, etc. He will realize in a manner that will shake him for eternity that he is really the Divine in the innermost depths of his being.” Blasphemy? “No,” Salim would insist, “It is a Holy Reality that forever erases in him the feeling of being separate and different from the other.” And he would add: “Has one really understood the enigmatic and troubling words pronounced by Christ to help the world when He said: ‘That they may all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be one in us’?”

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Overcoming the barriers of individuality.

Salim had had many spiritual experiences through which his vision of the world had been fundamentally changed.


It was a regular occurrence for him to overcome the barriers of individuality. He had thus acquired a special wealth, with no relation to the transient goods of this world. As a result of his efforts to remain intensely conscious and present to himself, he succeeded in really seeing what he was looking at. By maintaining for a sufficient amount of time this conscious manner of looking at, for example, a flower, he established between them a very subtle communion by way of which he grasped the kind of consciousness and particular feeling that this flower had of itself, the kinds of joys and fears that it felt, its kind of reaction in the face of the threat of imminent death, and so on. At these exceptional moments, he would notice that even an apparently inanimate stone had some form of consciousness. In reality Salim would say, there is nothing in the Universe that is not alive.


New spiritual experiences helped him to go even further. He pursued this work with pugnacity, yet with delicacy, finding from moment to moment what part of his efforts he still had to make and what part belonged to the Superior Aspect of himself to which he abandoned himself.


He had come to the point where he was so connected to this other state of being and of consciousness that he had, by tireless efforts, found within himself, that even if he wanted to forget it, he could no longer do so, because, he would say, this new feeling was now an integral part of his nature.


“I no longer believe blindly in an exterior Divinity, because I see now the Ineffable in me with, so to speak, my mind’s eye and I feel It so keenly and so intensely that my whole being is shaken with it and filled with a feeling of limitless wonder and reverential awe.”


When he looked back over his life, he remarked that the only moments that had engraved themselves indelibly on his memory where those where he had succeeded in giving himself wholly to his spiritual practices; the rest of his existence seemed to him, by contrast, like a dream devoid of meaning and of reality.


He ceaselessly encouraged his pupils not to project themselves into the future or to nourish imaginings of what they might attain spiritually, because, as he wrote in his book: Inner Awakening and Practice of Nada Yoga:


“Although, on a spiritual path, it may often be necessary to speak of a goal to be attained in order to try, inadequately, to explain the inexplicable, a serious seeker must, nevertheless, remember that in relation to his spiritual practices, the goal is always situated in the present.


One can, in a way, say that once he has committed to the Path, it cannot be to attain, one day, a final goal and then for everything to stop there – as is the case with ordinary things or worldly activities – because that would mean that the goal would be an ‘end’ in a sort of eternal death and afterwards there would be nothing. In reality, the goal and the present are indissociable in spiritual work; every instant must become the goal for the seeker, otherwise he risks giving himself all sorts of excuses to dream of a goal situated in a distant future and, in the meantime, without being aware of it, to carry out only a lukewarm spiritual practice that will come to nothing.”

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Recorded teachings:


Between 1998 and 2002, Salim regularly brought together a few pupils to spur them on in their practice. Some teachings were recorded on video. Below are a few extracts.

(Salim would often say “I” instead of “you” when addressing his pupils, because he preferred to avoid, as much as possible, expressions that unconsciously created a barrier between the other and oneself)

December 1998: Leaving a trace in oneself. Leaving a trace in oneself, so that, whatever a future existence may be, the trace that I have left in myself will be able to help me to move more quickly towards what is dearest to me, that is to say a spiritual practice. Leaving a trace... memory signifies evolution, forgetting signifies involution. You have to be so serious that this becomes the sole motivation of your existence. You have to succeed, when you apply yourselves to a spiritual practice, in being so exact and, above all, so whole. If you do not taste a moment when you are whole, at least once in your life, you will never know what it means to give yourself to the Infinite that inhabits you.

(Salim is reading an extract from “S’éveiller un question de vie ou de mort” [Awakening: A Matter of Life or Death], chapter 13).

“The most ardent desire of a seeker must be never to find himself in a future existence as he is in the present, with his habitual thoughts going around without control in his mind, his changing desires gnawing at him, his sensuality and his interests in the ordinary things of existence, which weigh him down and bar the route leading to his emancipation.

If he wants to reach the end of his quest, the recurrence of the efforts he makes in the present – which can only leave a trace in him if they are sufficiently sustained and sincere – needs to become stronger than the recurrence of his not yet transmuted undesirable tendencies, otherwise the karmic predilection that he still feels regarding samsaric existence will continue to be wholly determining and will keep him shackled to it.”

And Salim comments: “Thus the prodigious pianist (Evgeny Kissin), when he was eleven months old, could sing what his sister was playing on the piano. At a few months more than one year old, he sat at the piano and, with one finger he began to play. Then, later, when he came in from school, he didn’t even take off his coat; only one thing counted for him: the piano.

A trace had been left in him of a previous life. He was seven years old when he gave his first concert.

I tell you all these things so that you might understand how important what I leave as a trace in me is.”

April 2001 – The last thought.

In a future existence, whatever form it takes, I want at all costs to remember only this spiritual quest and nothing else. It is truly necessary that, when we die, our sole and unique desire is our spiritual accomplishment.

I want to carry this desire with me so that, whatever my future, whatever form it takes and wherever it unfolds, I will already have something in me which will remind me of this desire: my spiritual accomplishment.

People who are subjugated to the pleasures of the senses, they will be reborn to find such pleasures again. That is not what one wants, even for an artistic goal. I don’t want that; I don’t want to be reborn for music, it has served its purpose, I don’t want it to recontinue. That is why I stopped writing music so long ago.

One single goal, I must have a single goal, my spiritual accomplishment and that before all. And for that, I need to understand my enslavement to my senses. Without me knowing it, my senses govern me, the habit of this, of that. One wants more, always more, I have to always want my spiritual accomplishment more, that before all else.

Extract from S’éveiller, une question de vie ou de mort, chapter 2:

“Every evening, after his meditation, the aspirant must sit on his bed and rest for a while preparing himself before sleeping, because of the importance of the last thought that he is going to carry with him into his sleep and which will inevitably determine what the next day will be for him spiritually.

At the hour of his death, before entering into his last and longest sleep, how much more determining will be the last thought that he carries with him at this fateful moment, a last thought that, not only will determine the state he finds himself in when he quits this world, but also what his future destiny and future existence will be, whatever form this existence takes and wherever it unfolds.

Every evening, he must ask himself what he really expects from life, what this spiritual work means for him and what importance he must accord it. He needs to renew the decision to give himself wholly to what calls to him within himself and to appreciate the opportunity that is offered him to be able to work on himself spiritually. He has to realize that the day will come when this possibility will no longer exist.” What I have written there, I do myself every night before sleeping.

Because one cannot work on oneself without this form of existence; it is only this form of existence that provides us with the conditions that cause the tendencies one has within oneself to arise, the undesirable desires or even sometimes desires that are good and that one does not know one carries within oneself.

One needs this existence to accomplish something that one ordinarily does not know, that is why existence must not be fled, but must be faced, always faced, and one must work on oneself to transform certain tendencies, to be truer in oneself.

“Because, when this monumental moment comes, there will be no more tomorrows for him.”

No, there will be no more tomorrows for him. Whatever the state in which one finds oneself or the conditions in which one is placed, it is essential to realize that, in any case, nothing is permanent. I must not stop this work...

I cannot make, on a spiritual path, the same sorts of efforts as those that suffice for external life. Why? Because these efforts in external life are extracted from me, whereas the efforts that I must make on a spiritual path must be made because I want to make them, because I understand the importance and the necessity of them.

I must continually stoke the fire that burns beneath a word called my interest. That is why all that I do in external life must now be in relation to my spiritual interest.

Always remember these words:

“I want never to forget these precious moments when my mind is turned towards something higher than ordinary existence. I want to carry within me the memory of these moments in my death.”

May 2001 – Sense of mystery.

What do I want? What am I trying to understand? All my life, I must continue to try to understand. One has never understood, never enough, there is always more to understand and yet more to understand. The moment that I stop trying to understand, by an ineluctable cosmic law, I will start to die psychically.

You are missing the sense of mystery. It is truly necessary to realize that there are mysteries everywhere. This is the first time that I have gone out in a car since the last meeting. The leaves on the trees are very fresh, green. It is a miracle, how does the tree know the time has come, after the winter, for the sap to rise in all the branches and make each leaf?

Within the boundaries of our building, there are wisteria; those are my favourite flowers, so beautiful. What a miracle! It is extraordinary how the vine knows what colour flowers to grow, at what moment, and what sort of perfume to emit, and I am intoxicated by all this beauty, but beauty that is fleeting, impermanent.

Life has to become a miracle, because it is true that we are surrounded by miracles, but that we do not see them.

Everything is mysterious to me. From my window, I see clouds moving, tree branches swaying in the wind, sometimes birds who fly past at such speed. The bird barely moves his wings, yet he flies so quickly; no human being could run so fast. T

he other day, I saw a bird landing on a tree opposite my window; how did this bird, who arrived with lightning speed, succeed in beating its wings to glide between the branches without doing itself harm? For me, it was a miracle because there are many branches and many leaves on the branches of the tree.

If we were blind and someone suddenly gave us eyes, then, to see the blue of the sky, with its enormous clouds that move, that transform themselves, what a miracle if one really saw them for the first time; that is how one must be all the time; one must achieve this, then one begins to really live, to understand the mystery of existence. If one really saw the blue of the sky as though for the first time in one’s life and, then, suddenly, a miracle, a bird flying so fast, seeing it as though for the first time in my life.

Do you really know how to really live? We have lost this faculty of really seeing, of really hearing.

If our practice is not approached with the sense of mystery at every moment, it becomes flat.

All my life, I must remain alert, I want to understand, I still want to understand, I have never understood enough, for all of my life.


March 2002 – The image one has of oneself.

Without ever being conscious of it, everyone has an image of him/herself, which he or she does not wish to renounce and which closes the door of his/her evolution on another plane of being. What do I mean by image?

(Salim points out two people in turn): If I had the power to transform you into so and so, would you accept? Vice versa, if I asked so and so, can I transform you into this person, would you accept?

Don’t answer, just think about it.

I have an image of myself, I am deeply in love with this image without knowing it. Everyone has this problem, without exception.

This image that one has of oneself is closely linked to self-esteem. One does not see it, that’s the tragedy of it. If ever one says of someone something that injures this self-esteem, then the person spends his time like a dog, licking his wound, in other words ruminating on the injury that his ego has received, you understand?

He or she cannot see, in his/her blindness, the self-consideration within him/herself and which is an obstacle to his/her spiritual practice.

How can this image one has of oneself be recognized? One takes oneself, unconsciously – all of this is unconscious – one takes oneself for someone special. “I am special”, it is enough to look at photos of celebrities in magazines. “I am someone special”.

Yes, one loves oneself, one has an image of oneself that one does not want to let go, one is special. There is no-one who does not have this problem. One takes oneself for someone unique and one must become simple, an absolutely simple being, to lose this image that one has of oneself.

I have suffered with this image of myself in the past. Someone attacked my music, I had an image of myself, self-esteem, how could my contribution go unseen? When there were meetings of composers, the ultra-modern composers would say with contempt: “This music is still tonal”. So, I also, like all of you, have suffered from that. When I saw how it blocked the path, then I began, with invisible scissors, every time I saw this manifestation of self-esteem: snip (Salim mimes cutting something with scissors).

When I was living in Rue Turgot, opposite the building, at street level, there was a hat shop. One day, a woman came past, dragging a little dog after her, when, suddenly, she saw a hat in the shop window. She doubled back on herself, pulling on the dog’s lead. She looked at the hat, then she went on, pulling the dog after her. Then, finally, she doubled back again, went into the shop, pulling the dog (who was not at all interested), and when she came out... the hat had bought the woman.

She was walking and admiring herself in the shop windows: I am a hat...

Another day, we were walking, a long time ago now, and there was a young man walking towards us, he had very long hair, he was proud of himself: I am hair... The image that one has of oneself, he was forgetting that he was going to age one day, his hair would become white, he would lack energy, like I do today... If one could see the life of a human being speeded up, from birth to death, the crying baby, he gets married, he has children, that’s it, it’s over.

On another level, for the Infinite, our lives from our birth until our death, are nothing but a click of the fingers, a flash. At the level of the Universe, we are not even a virus.

This image one has of oneself, this self-esteem, it is the cause of all the misfortune that afflicts humanity. When one is absent to oneself, there is only reaction and self-esteem.

It is said, in Hinduism that the aspirant must become selfless for his emancipation, otherwise there can be no emancipation. What is liberation? One does not understand from what I must liberate myself, I must liberate myself from myself, from my mechanical reactions, then I attain the Absolute; what a paradox it is, to liberate myself from myself...

September 2002 – Final teaching.

Salim stopped teaching completely in September 2002 because of his state of health which had deteriorated too much. Nevertheless, he continued to work on his books until his last day. Below are some extracts from his final teaching:

“Let each of you here ask himself:  What have I been busy with since our last meeting... but ask yourself this with all your sincerity. What sort of thoughts have been turning in my head and monopolizing my attention since our last meeting. Were these thoughts really worthwhile spiritually?

What sort of desires have I had? Can these desires help me spiritually? Have they been able to help me spiritually?

Death awaits me, it is necessary to say this to oneself, death awaits me, inexorably. What provision have I made for this monumental hour? What am I going to take with me when this fateful hour arrives for me?

One sees the branches of trees sway, but one does not see the cause. What is the cause that makes the branches of a tree sway? Has anyone ever seen the wind? One sees the effect and one gives credit to the effect, but the invisible cause? It is the same thing for my life and the whole of this Creation, the Universe, this incredible cosmic manifestation with billions and billions of galaxies, which contain billions and billions of stars and planets. And our planet too, with all the various animals it contains, the trees the flowers, the animals, the human beings, you, me, one sees the effect and one does not think of the cause, the enigmatic cause that is the creator of this effect.

One gives credit to what is visible, to what one feels, to what one perceives with one’s senses, what monopolizes all one’s attention; the exterior fascinates our psyche and one forgets the cause. One must succeed, at least intellectually to begin with, in transferring this credit that one gives to what one perceives with one’s senses, to the invisible. I need absolutely to know the Source whence I issued and into which I am going to be reabsorbed after my death, now, in this life; after death, it will be too late.

And, even if I come to recognize this Source, I will see how difficult it is to remain within this Source, how much the fascination of the exterior continues to have power over my psyche.

I am going to read you a quotation from St Thomas:

The disciples said to Jesus: "Tell us how our end will be."

Jesus said: "Have you already discovered the beginning (that is to say, the Source from which you arose) that you are now asking about the end?

For where the beginning is ( the Source from which you arose)

there the end will be too. (it is into this that you will be reabsorbed)

Blessed is he who will stand at the beginning.  (will stand, that is to say, will stay, on condition of having found it)

And he will know the end, (he will know what he is to be reabsorbed into when death takes him), and he says at the end:

and he will not taste death. ”

Christ attached such importance to this discovery of what he called the beginning, the Source, and after that, he said: blessed is he who will stand, that is to say, will stay, at the beginning and he will not taste death.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, I quote:

“O nobly-born, the time hath now come for thee to seek the Path [in reality]. Thy breathing is about to cease. Thy guru hath set thee face to face with the Clear Light; and now thou art about to experience it in its Reality in the Bardo state, wherein all things are like the void and cloudless sky, and the naked, spotless intellect is like unto a transparent vacuum without circumference or centre. At this moment, know thou thyself; and abide in that state.”

At this moment, know thou thyself; and abide in that state,

The last sentence of Christ… Blessed is he who will stand at the beginning. 

When it is said: “All things are like the void and cloudless sky, and the naked, spotless intellect is like unto a transparent vacuum without circumference or centre.”

This vacuity is not nothing and that is what you have to discover; it is the Source whence you issued; this vacuity is made up of an immense, immense Beingness-Consciousness, without beginning, without end, without shores, imbued with the breath of the Infinite... 

One calls it a vacuity in comparison with the tangible which you know, but it is not nothing.

However, if one has not known this Beingness-Consciousness during one’s life, one will fear it after death. As the Tibetan Book of the Dead says, one will wish to flee this state and seek the tangible that one has known.

Remember that your principal goal is to fight, to fight with the whole of yourself, with all your sincerity, when you meditate, when you undertake a spiritual exercise, whether in the street or at home, with all your being, in order to succeed in sufficiently tearing away from this secondary identity which is grafted onto you, onto all of us, and covers this essence, this Beingness-Consciousness imbued with the breath of the Infinite, call it what you will, one can call it Nirvana, one can call it my Buddha-nature, one can call it the Dharmakaya, but it is the same thing, this Enigmatic Source from which I arose and into which I will be reabsorbed after my death.

Remember that it is before all the quality of the efforts made that counts and not only their quantity.

One other thing that I want to say to you, which is so important, is on the devotional question. One needs Grace. We do our part, but one needs Grace, one cannot do it all alone. Something in me must be turned towards That which is higher, which one cannot name, with a deeply devotional feeling.

You must always keep in your mind that everything is mysterious, take nothing for granted, everything is mysterious. We are mysterious. The Cosmos is so vertiginous, we cannot even imagine it with our small and extremely limited minds; although it is visible, it is mysterious because of the Invisible which is the cause of this fantastic Creation. It makes one dizzy if one really begins to try to understand; one feels dizzy and one needs to feel this dizziness before the Incommensurable, to encourage us.

When you begin a spiritual exercise or meditation, you must set a timer, of course, and you say to yourself – as this Salim who is before you said to himself in the past – even if a hundred thousand scorpions walk over me, I will not move before the timer goes off and stops my meditation or, in the case of a spiritual exercise, in the street or at home, while I am cooking, washing myself, or whatever it may be, I will not interrupt the exercise before the time I have determined upon has passed; even if a hundred thousand scorpions walk over me, I told myself that in the past. You too, say what you want, but say something that moves you.

All that I have said to you today comes down to this: I want to know the Source whence I issued and into which I will be reabsorbed, I want to know it during my life so that I shall be tranquil when death comes, so that I shall not resist. In meditation, one can come to a point where one feels: I am going to be plunged into an incomprehensible emptiness, I must accept this plunge. One will discover at that moment that the emptiness is not nothing. There is no more tangible, there is no more movement as one knows it, there is another sort of movement, so fine, it is said that the Divine Spirit never sleeps, so fine, so full of life, Beingness-Consciousness, without beginning, without end, incommensurable, without shores, dizzying, imbued with the breath of the Infinite.

There is a reason for Creation; the Infinite wants its Holy Presence to be recognized, but the human being, such as he is ordinarily, with his limited intelligence and his limited level of being cannot recognize it.

It could be said that if beings provided with an out of the ordinary form of intelligence and a level of consciousness that one does not habitually experience do not arise from its Creation, to recognize its Holy Presence, then it is as though the Infinite did not exist.

Since our birth, so many things have happened around us, so many people that one has known, sad or pleasant events, people who have hurt us, those that we love and those that we do not; without realizing it, we carry all that in us and that takes up space in our being and leaves no space for other things. I must begin at certain moments to awaken myself sufficiently, to tear myself away from what I am habitually to see this immense crowd that I carry within me – I am talking for you now, aren’t I? – each of you must begin to awaken himself to see the immense crowd that he carries within himself, a crowd that squeals, that shouts, that laughs, that protests.

I want to see them all, I want to begin to liberate myself from that, and I cannot if, during the day, I do not tear myself away from what I am and if I do not say to myself, in words: “Recollect yourself,” because thinking “Recollect yourself,” is not enough, one can think “Recollect yourself,” and one does it superficially or even not at all.

It has to be said in words, I speak from personal experience in the past, I was obliged to say it to myself, I have seen that thinking of “recollecting myself” when I was lost in futile thoughts, in futile images, thinking “Recollect yourself, come back to yourself” was superficially done, or not at all, it is as though one believes that thought is enough, it is not enough. It is necessary to say to oneself: “Recollect yourself,” gently, say it to oneself, within oneself of course. “Recollect yourself,” then one will see that something becomes possible and when I repeat, “Recollect yourself,” it begins to work...

When someone says something, thinks something, or does something, once it is said, thought, or done, he can no longer help wanting to re-say it, to rethink it, or to re-do it, so one will begin to say again “Recollect yourself, Recollect yourself,” and you will see that, when you are lost in thoughts that turn in your mind, when you are far from yourself, suddenly there will be a rapid movement of return towards yourself.

What I am saying to you, it is vital, it is a question of life or death. I have to wake in the morning from my nocturnal sleep so that I may realize I have slept and have – I believe – awakened. Yes, I am awake in comparison with my nocturnal sleep, but I sleep in another way and I know not in what other way I sleep, and my life passes, uselessly, futilely, without having made provision for the hour of my death.

When you succeed in staying with yourself for long enough in a state of inner silence, you will one day discover that this return towards myself is nothing less than the return towards the Infinite that I carry in myself, the return towards my Buddha Nature, towards Nirvana that I did not know I was already carrying in myself, this Enigmatic Source that is made up of Beingness-Consciousness imbued with the Breath of the Absolute. And Salim concludes with this Bodhisattva vow that he formulated in the following way:

“Yes, I want to be a Buddha,  I want to be a Christ, I want to be like him, he agreed to anything to help humanity.”


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