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Ask Premaji
by Prema Baba Swamiji

Question: Premaji, what is enligtenment? How can I experience it? What books should I read? B. Marks, Santa Fe.

Response: Transcendence…what is it? I can tell you that whatever value you place upon it isn’t enough, because transcendence requires a totality, a total desire to know the divine. And I want you to have this totality. To own it. When I took my initiation in India with my master BABAJI, I asked him about transcendence.

I said, “BABAJI, what is this illumination? What is transcendence? What is this nirvana? What is enlightenment? Where does Self-inquiry lead? What is the purpose of religion?” I said it in many different ways.

His reply was uncomplicated, very simple and direct. As he sat in his swing, rocking back and forth, he looked at me, or rather he looked through me, and he said, “It’s like chocolate. I can’t tell you what it tastes like, but I can share it with you. And then you will share it with the whole world.”

And I said, “Why me, BABAJI?”

“Because you’re a baula gundhi.”

“A what?”

“A baula gundhi!”

Of course, I’m thinking that means someone who’s dressed in white, who’s very pure, who’s a vegetarian…

“Baula is crazy, and a gundhi is a rebel. Do I have to tell you what the two words together mean? Your whole life you have been a rebel. And what society needs is a crazy rebel. Western society needs prema.[1]

What he was saying is this: the whole of Western society has been designed to crush the heart. The doctors are rewarded, the engineers are rewarded, the lawyers, the robbers are rewarded. If you can use the logical mind, you’re rewarded. But use the lover’s mind and you’re punished. Society punishes poets, we punish artists. We punish these qualities within ourselves.

To move into transcendence, you’ve got to move into a new kind of madness that bucks the entire system that you’ve been conditioned to accept. As I repeatedly say – and we need to hear it a thousand and one times and then another thousand and one times until we own it – society doesn’t exist. I’ve never met a society. I’ve only met individuals. But society, through education, has taught you to love your mother, to love your father, to love your teachers, your brother, your sister, but never have you been taught to love yourself. Never have you been taught to accept your essential nature as a lover. And I can tell you that until you do this, never will you truly love another.

I will confuse you. I am not an authority. If you want an authority, go to the Pope.

But in my opinion, the religions are dead. They are corpses. Hinduism is a corpse. The Islamic tradition, they’re all corpses. The masters who founded them are gone. And so I’ve come to create a communism. The true meaning of communism is “to commune together in spirit.” I’m not talking about the communism of Karl Marx or Joseph Stalin. The name Stalin means steal. He was a dictator. I’m talking about the communism of the Buddha…to create a community…a sanga of people who begin to understand prema, to come from their heart, who begin to love again.

How many moments of love have you had in your life?

And yet, we worry about how much vitamin A we’re getting!

From my heart to yours,

Prema Baba Swamiji

Prema Baba Swamiji is the author of The Initiation. For more information about Swamiji or his retreats visit

[1] The Sanskrit word for the love, tenderness and compassion that are natural in the human heart. This prema is the chief characteristic of the soul.