Good evening everyone! Today I would like to talk about the books we published of my guru, Rameshji, Ramesh Balsekar. My journey with him began with The Ultimate Understanding, which was the third book that we published through Yogi Impressions. First was my mother’s book, the second was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and this third book was published around the same time as the second.
I have already mentioned how we came to publish this book. Rameshji was looking for a publisher, and this book was extremely special to him. He said that, for him, it represented the pinnacle of the teaching, especially in light of the teaching of Wei Wu Wei, who was a spiritually evolved Irish man formerly known as Terrence Gray. Ramesh was extremely fond of him and gave me some of his Wei Wu Wei books. I found them quite difficult to read, but I saw how Guruji had underlined the books in different colors like a thorough perfectionist. He also had a table defining the color coding; blue underlined means this, red underlined means this, and black underlined means this. I saw what a perfectionist I had for a Guru, as I also have an eye for details. You could say it was the perfect match, and I had really met my match as far as attention to details is concerned.
I said, “Guruji, I have seen how you underline Wei Wu Wei’s books. This perfection is inbuilt, some people have it and some don’t: 90% of people won’t spot a mistake or error, and only 10% do. So, is all this trouble we take really worth it?” And he replied, “Yes, it is worth it for the 10% of people who spot it.” I loved that answer. So that is how we brought out The Ultimate Understanding, a glorious production. The initial edition was hardbound and printed on large-format art paper. Something quite spectacular! Of course, this book was for serious spiritual seekers. It probably was not suitable as an introduction to Rameshji’s teachings. But it’s really a delight, especially because it’s not even a book. It contains short notes, quotations, and passages, which concisely embody the pinnacle of Rameshj’s teachings.
When I first met Rameshji in private, he asked me, “Have you read any of my books?” I replied that I had not. And he clapped his hands, laughed loudly, and said, “Then you are perfect for the job!” I was so surprised and confused by what that meant, he must have seen it written on my face. Then he said, “You are not carrying any conditioning! The teaching is fresh for you. And that is what I mean, that you are perfect for the job.”
We had a great time working with Rameshji on The Ultimate Understanding. The pages are adorned with small hand-drawn illustrations, such as Om and Swastika (symbolizes Surya, prosperity and good luck), which I asked him to draw and he happily complied. These small illustrations illuminate this art paper production and raise its vibrational energy. Some of the passages are written in his own handwriting, which we retained for the published pages. The book contains many photographs taken around Mumbai and elsewhere, which we printed in black and white for their simplicity. This work was the start of an incredible journey as one of Rameshji’s publishers.
We went on to publish a total of eight books with Rameshji. The next landmark book was Peace and Harmony in Daily Living. He said, “This book will be around for a very long time. I don’t say such things, but this book will be around for a very long time.” This book went on to become the best-selling Ramesh Balsekar title we published, to date. It is not a simple read; it is quite comprehensive, something for deep study. It has a vast landscape that the reader can discover. I would recommend this book for anyone who is drawn to Rameshji’s teachings. I treasure some of the beautiful photographs we took at the book launch celebration at my home, including the cake cutting ceremony. It was so much fun and such a delight working with him on this book. I would go to his home in the evenings, have a cup of tea, and discuss parts of the book. It was such a privilege to spend so much time with him during those one-to-one encounters.
I recommend Let Life Flow as a very small book and a suitable introduction to Rameshji’s teachings. Beautiful! This book is a must-have for anyone who is absorbed in Rameshji’s presentation of the core concepts of Advaita, and it’s a great book to gift because anyone will enjoy reading Let Life Flow. It was great fun working on this book. The Seeking is a transcription of three of Rameshji’s talks, which he considered to cover the entire teaching. He wanted a book of these three talks, so The Seeking was born. I think this is the favorite Rameshji book of my friend Roger Castillo. We published a book of Rameshji’s quotations, The One in the Mirror, which I truly love. It is a must-read for any follower or devotee of Rameshji.
The next book was The Only Way to Live. This is a simple presentation of the teachings, and one that a seeker would enjoy reading. An important point to share is that when I started working with Rameshji, we decided to keep the books very simple. His earlier books contained quite conceptual details on Advaita, and he felt that this was no longer required. But the simplicity we presented in our books provoked some adverse reactions from some of the earlier devotees. There were some comments regarding our dropping of phrases and words that appeared in volumes from earlier publishers: “Why have you removed words like intemporality, noumenon, and phenomenon? Why aren’t his concepts like ‘the absence of the presence and the absence of the absence’ not covered anymore?” However, it was quite clear when I met Rameshji that he never used these words and phrases in his Satsangs. What’s more, his new writings did not include such words and sentences. Although our presentation of the teaching in the new books appealed to many more people, those who were fond of the earlier language in the old books felt that this new shift was not working for them. But that was the way it flowed, and Guruji must have foreseen this change happening. During the earlier teaching, he used to say that there is no such thing as free will. Later, he started saying that there is free will as a mechanism of daily living, but when it is investigated it is found to be counterfeit. The earlier devotees believed that he had changed his teaching. But he had not changed his teaching; rather, he changed his presentation of the teaching over time. These are my insights about how the presentation of the teaching evolved.
Gary Roba used to visit Rameshji regularly, and I had the privilege to make friends with him. He was so well versed in Rameshji’s teaching, and had read all the books of Wei Wu Wei and was knowledgeable about Zen teaching. We spent a lot of time together, and he became the co-editor of the books because he had an immense contribution to make. It was a real joy to work with him on Rameshji’s books. We edited many books together, and his name appears in the book as well.
I was out of my depth at the time we began working on Advaita on Zen and Tao, and Gary stepped in with his knowledge of Zen. For any follower of Zen This book is priceless, as Rameshji elucidates Zen verses in the light of Advaita. Gary was immensely helpful with this book.
The last book that Rameshji and I worked on together is The End of Duality. It is a selection of four of his final talks. I took the final manuscript to Rameshji when he was already bedridden and drifting in and out of consciousness. He was conscious and smiled when I went into his room and held up the final manuscript in my hands. Afterward, he sunk into what could perhaps be called an altered state during his last days. The End of Duality carries potent feelings for me as it was my last experience of working together with him. He passed away in September 2009 and we officially launched the book in February 2010.
What a joy and privilege it was to be the publisher of Rameshji’s books. I learned so much by just editing and proofreading them. I imbibed his words, even though half of the time I didn’t know what he meant by what he was saying. My nature is to read until I am sure that all mistakes and punctuation are corrected. I believe that the words and their meaning were absorbed unconsciously during this work. I only came to understand and value this process much later, not while I was involved in editing the books.
This brings us to the close of our brief journey talking about the books that we published with my dear Guru. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.