– I realised that I had experienced some things which seemed so important that I wanted to share them so that others might also benefit from them. The Guru seemed to me to be such an extraordinary being, that I wanted to tell the story of how he used every available tool, or technique, to make me give up the false ideas about who I am, and replace it with a correct understanding of who, or what, I really am.
This was initially a very painful process because I felt that I had to give up everything I believed in, everything I liked, everything that belonged to the so-called comfort zone of my personal life. But after a while I understood that giving up the mediocre state of being human, a mixed state of happiness and unhappiness, was an agreeable price to pay, because I realised that the Guru had given me something far better: A deep sense of peace and satisfaction, which they call paramananda, or supreme bliss in Sanskrit. This bliss has nothing to do with your world, nothing to do with your personal life. It is just what you eternally are in the middle of all the changes taking place in the world. And it is accessible to everyone through the correct understanding created by meditation.
– The book is about five very eventful years in my life, with a special focus on the two last years of my Guru's life. He suddenly declared that his final teachings had started, and I realised that I had to be with him as much as possible to get these last teachings before he would pass on. The problem was that I was at the time deeply involved in taking care of my oldest daughter, who was suffering from a mysterious autoimmune disease. She needed almost constant care. Somehow I managed to travel for short trips to the ashram in the Himalayas approximately ten times during these last two-three years of his life.
I describe in the book how I was forced out of my ordinary life, my comfort zone, and didn't have time to sleep properly, or even notice how I was feeling about my life. I was in survival mode. This extreme situation forced me to go beyond myself, so to speak, and while I was living in this altered state of consciousness I got in touch with a much deeper part of myself: who I really am beyond the body and mind of Jaques Bucheron. The Guru guided me through this difficult time, and raised my eyes up towards what he called the Unborn, which was his favourite description of supreme reality, or the only unchanging part of the universe. So the book is about these two intertwined stories – trying to spend as much time with the Guru as possible, while doing everything I could to help my daughter heal from her disease.
– From being a normal school child living a happy and carefree life, she all of a sudden found herself living almost permanently in a hospital, with all kinds of pains and problems related to her body. For the first year or two, no one really understood what was going on with her, there was so much uncertainty. She had to mature very fast, to be able to deal with the situation. She went deep inside like no child normally has to do, to find a place where she was free from the pain of having a sick body. She found a place inside, in her own self, which was beyond the pains of the body, and the worries of the mind. That was the only way she could cope.
So this book is also about how she went beyond and found her true identity which I refer to as the Self in this book, based on my Guru's descriptions. In this way this book is also about finding hope and dealing with grief, and should be inspirational for people suffering from disease and sickness, perhaps especially parents with hospitalised children. What I realised was that life is a gift, we are alive purely because of grace. And the only way to live optimally is to consider every moment as your last moment, every day as your last day. And to enjoy it fully, because we have no control of what will happen tomorrow.
– Yes, my brain took a lot of beating during the five-six years of Océane’s illness, both from worrying about the physical and mental well being of my daughters, and also the fact that I didn’t sleep properly for long periods of time, and was running around trying to extinguish all the fires. I describe in the book how I experienced many of the classical symptoms of chronic stress as the years went by. It was a great surprise - and relief - to know that even though my brain shut down because the stress was just too much for it to handle - I was fine. That was a direct experience of how the Self - the essence of who we are - is free from the mind and the body just as the saints and sages of India have been saying for millenia. My Guru was right.
As a few years have passed, I have realised how the brain is an amazing organ, and that it is highly adaptable. I think they refer to this as neuroplasticity. It seems that this adaptability also means that the brain can heal, even though it may take a long time. I have used being in nature, meditating and staying away from stressful situations as tools of healing. Yet, as I say in the book: We can’t control our lives according to our preferences. Our destiny is unknown. The next moment can be a disaster or a delight according to karmic forces that may be unknown to us. So the most important thing is to live every moment with the awareness that I am not the brain, nor the body. Even when the brain disintegrates during the process of death, I as the Self am fine. But the illusion of human life is gone. The point of this life is to not get attached to the dream of being human, and know firmly that “I am Unborn”. I never became something or somebody. That is the essence of spiritual life or sadhana.
– When I first met my Guru as a child, I just had the impression that he was a very nice and wise man. He played with me and my brothers and told us amazing stories. We just loved him. As the years went by and I started more serious studies with him in the daily Self-realisation program in his ashram in the Himalayas, I realised that he was so much more than a kind grand-fatherly figure with a flowing beard. He was someone who had understood who he really was, and had become a so-called Self-realised, awakened or enlightened being.
– A Self-realised being is someone who has found his or her true identity. The Self, which is an eternal and blissful consciousness and which is free from the mind and the body, has become your own identity, and has replaced the fake ego identity. But this Self seems to be trapped in every human being. This trap is called ignorance. It is a power which makes you forget who you really are. The Guru has become liberated from this trap, from this forgetfulness, and has become aware of his, or her, true nature.
The Guru furthermore is a teacher who helps those who want to become Self-realised to reach their goal. This teaching or guidance can take many forms. In this book I describe how the Guru used extreme techniques - like abruptly finishing the relationship between my girlfriend and myself - to snap me out of my deluded or derailed state and wake me up, and become aware of how my mind was fooling me. How I was full of imagination, and did not understand anything clearly. I was literally shocked by Swamiji – as Gurus are called in India – and the techniques he used. I found in hindsight that the way he worked with me was very interesting, and I wanted to tell the story about how skillful my Guru was in bringing about liberation from the wrongful ideas my fellow students and I had about ourselves and the world.
– Yes, of course. It was really shocking, and very surprising too. But I realised right away that he was so right to do so: He was just waking me up from the slumber of romantic love. I was at the time thinking of my gorgeous girlfriend all the time, and was not paying attention to his final teachings which were so important to receive. I was, through my own foolish infatuation, losing out on perhaps the most important period of my life. And Swamiji realised that I needed help, so he, being my Guru or spiritual guide, decided that he would lend me a helping hand. It was a great teaching, and a great help. It prepared me for the last satsangs, which I have devoted a whole chapter to in the book. This chapter is perhaps the most interesting, because Swamiji is like an all consuming fire, which burns away all the wrong ideas, all the attachments, all the patterns that are obstructions to Self-realisation. What Swamiji did was actually an act of pure love. He also helped me get back on track regarding my responsibilities as a father, because I was being distracted even though I tried to convince myself that I was not.
The subject of love is very interesting. Love is to see yourself and others clearly without attraction and compulsion, it is seeing your own Self in everything. It is to be aware of your connection to the universe as a whole. And ultimately, love is to see and know the unchanging being, the unborn and immortal Self. Our true nature.
– His teaching career spanned almost 50 years, and his disciples went through many stages of evolution during all these years. You might say that the first few decades were a preparation, a purification, an expansion of the capacity to understand something so blown as the Unborn.
What the Unborn means is that it never became a form, and the human mind only understands forms. The human mind has extensive knowledge of the material universe, and even psychological phenomena. But the Unborn is beyond both material and psychological forms, so the only way to understand it is by cultivating or expanding your understanding. So Swamiji’s work with us was to expand our minds through meditation and satsang, so much so that our minds actually became immeasurable, or as infinite as the Self itself. This is possible because the infinite Self actually is the source of the finite mind. Through the right process the mind can return to its original state as the Self. But yes, you are very right, it is a very difficult process and you have to dedicate yourself completely to the task.
– I wrote this book for anyone who is interested in finding their true identity. The beginning of such a search is often a sense of suffering, that your life is not good enough, and a feeling that there must be something more to it. As Schopenhauer put it: “Philosophy starts with disillusionment”. The book is first and foremost a tribute to the Guru, which is such an inspiring being. I wanted to share with others how the Guru is a dimension inside everyone, in which infinite insight and bliss resides. By tuning in to this inner Guru, which is your own Self, your life will change drastically. The outer Guru appears only to reveal the inner Guru. The techniques my Guru used to liberate me - and my fellow disciples - were both sweet and shocking. He had the whole registry of tools needed to liberate his students from the bondage of their own mind, in the form of the ignorance, imagination and desire which are the plagues of the human mind. The human predicament is that we are born with ignorance. That is why we need the Guru: to wake up from our false identity of believing we are mind and body, and realising our true identity as the Self, eternal and blissful. I did not have the experts of Hinduism or Buddhism in mind when I wrote the book, but any human being who want to understand what Self-realisation or meditation entails on a personal level, exemplified by how I had to give up so many of my preferences and habits in order to evolve.
- What impressed me the most was the Guru’s boundless generosity and his readiness to do whatever necessary to make me understand my real identity. He shared his own realisation with me and with anyone who was ready. He didn’t want me to be a follower, a devotee, a disciple etc. He didn’t want me to remain an individual living in my own illusory ego bubble separated from reality. He wanted me to realise exactly the same as he had realised: that I was the Self, free from the changes belonging to the world, not caught by the mind and body. The Guru is all about freedom, and helping others to become free as well.
-Yes. Our human life is pure grace, and we must use every day to go deeper in our understanding of who we are, and develop the vision of oneness, which means that we must become aware of how we are all connected. We must remove the sense of separation, which is the influence of the ego, which is a terror in this world. The ego puts man against man, and nation against nation. To live with this vision of oneness creates the highest form of peace and happiness, which I wish for everybody. Thank you.