PATH OF THE MASTERS
The Path of the Masters was first published in France in 1939; its author was Julian P. Johnson.
Johnson, a native Kentuckian and distinguished surgeon, left his medical practice in California and traveled to Beas, India, in order to serve his guru, Sawan Singh. From 1933 to 1939, Johnson devoted much of his time to writing about his master and his experiences in the Radha Soami path.
He first helped Sawan Singh in translating the Hindi book Sar Bachan (prose) into English. Later, he authored four of his own books on Radha Soami. Johnson's first work, With a Great Master in India , was a compilation of letters he had written to Americans about his first eighteen months in India studying under the master. His next two books, Call of the East and The Unquenchable Flame were semi-autobiographical accounts of himself and his future wife, Elizabeth Bruce. Yet, it was not until 1939 that Johnson's most famous work, The Path of the Masters , was published. The book, the first of its kind as it was aimed almost exclusively at the western world, was writen in English. It described in detail the history and practice of what came to be called Surat Shabd Yoga or Sant Mat (Santon-Ki-Shiska), which attempts to induce a consciously controlled Near Death Experience (NDE). Mastery of this practice, according to adepts of the tradition, enables one to experience regions of light and sound beyond the normal waking state, providing glimpses into higher realms of consciousness. The work was Johnson's magnus opus and today is considered a classic in oriental mysticism. He is known for his list for the selection of masters or gurus, of which the following is derived, and the primary reason he is NOT so well received, mentioned, quoted, or promoted by those in the Enlightenment business:
"Real Masters never charge for their services, nor do they accept payment in any form
nor in any sort of material benefits for their instructions. This is a universal law among
Masters, and yet amazingly, it is a fact that thousands of eager seekers in America and
elsewhere, go on paying large amounts of money for "spiritual instruction." Masters are
always self-sustaining and are never supported by their students or by public charity."
Almost any promoter or advocate of their own pocketbook belief could search out some reason to circumnavigate the above reasoning. However, even the most ardent skeptic would be hard pressed to dismiss the Buddha's own words on the subject as recorded in the Anguttara Nikaya V.159, Udayi Sutra:
"The Dharma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.'"
It should be noted that Johnson never saw the book in its final published form, as he died in 1939 shortly before it came out. A number of rumors have cropped up concerning Julian Johnson's death, and this may be a good place to clarify what actually happened. Apparently, Johnson got into a fairly heated debate with a younger friend of his named Paul [not Paul Twitchell] over health treatments. During the heat of the debate Johnson either tripped or was pushed and hit his head on a rock. He subsequently died from his injuries on the way to the hospital. Since there was some confusion over what actually transpired (Was it an accidental fall on Johnson's part? Or, was it an accidental fall caused by Paul who pushed Johnson to the ground?), there was naturally a lot of speculation (which led to gossip) about Johnson's death. Even today some uninformed observers claim Johnson was murdered. According to witnesses who were in India at the time, though, Johnson's death was a tragic accident and nothing more.
The above quote notwithstanding, the overall influence that Johnson's books-- The Path of the Masters and With a Great Master in India , had on other authors, in particular Paul Twitchell, is truly remarkable. To actually document the effect would itself take several volumes, but Twitchell for example, not only borrowed and learned from The Path of the Masters, he also copied it. . . word for word. He did however, when it came to the list, leave out the aforementioned quote.
Johnson's book has fallen into the public domain, therefore there are now a number of free online PDF versions that have recently appeared that were not previously available. Try:
THE PATH OF THE MASTERS
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
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