Bhagavan did not immediately reveal himself to me. I felt far less from his bodily presence than I had from his invisible support in the camp. His photograph had been more real and vivid to me than any person, and yet now that I saw him face to face I felt his presence much less.
I entered the hall before Bhagavan had returned from his daily walk on the hill. I had expected something grander and less intimate. When he entered, there was no great impression; certainly far less than his photographs had made. Just a white-haired, very gracious man, walking a little stiffly from rheumatism with a slight stoop. As soon as he eased himself on the couch he smiled at me and then turned to those around and to my young son and said, “So Adam’s prayers have been answered; his Daddy has come back safely.” I felt his kindness but no more. I appreciated that it was for my sake that he had spoken English since Adam knew Tamil.
The change came a few weeks later at one of the yearly festivals. There were huge crowds for the festival and we were sitting in the courtyard outside the hall. Bhagavan was reclining on his couch and I was sitting in the front row. He sat up, facing me, and his narrowed eyes pierced into me with an intensity I cannot describe. It was as though they said, “You have been told; why have you not realized?” And then I felt quietness, a depth of peace, an indescribable lightness and happiness.
Thereafter, love for Bhagavan began to grow in my heart and I felt his power and beauty. Next morning for the first time, sitting before him in the hall, I tried to follow his teaching by using vichara, ‘Who am I?’ I thought it was I who had decided. I did not realize that it was the initiation by look that had vitalized me and changed my attitude of mind. Indeed, I had only heard vaguely of this initiation and paid little heed to what I had heard. Only later did I learn that other devotees also had such an experience, and that with them also it had marked the beginning of the active sadhana (quest) and Bhagavan’s guidance.
Then, for the first time in my life, I began to understand what the grace and blessings of a guru could mean. My love and devotion to Bhagavan deepened. I went about with a lilt of happiness in my heart, feeling the blessing and mystery of the guru, repeating, like a love song, that he was the Guru, the link between heaven and earth, between God and me, between the Formless Being and my heart. I became aware of the enormous grace of his presence. Even outwardly he was gracious to me, smiling when I entered the hall, signaling to me to sit where he could watch me in meditation.
And then one day a vivid reminder awoke in me: “The link with the Formless Being? But he is the Formless Being.” And I began to understand why devotees address him simply as ‘Bhagavan’. So he began to prove in me what he declared in his teaching that the outer guru seems to awaken the guru in the heart. The constant ‘Who am I?’ vichara began to evoke an awareness of the Self as Bhagavan outwardly, and also simultaneously of the Self within.
~ Arthur Osborne