Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree
30 March 2018 (online)
What a perfect timing! I am just back from spending a month with Advaita[a] master Mooji when ‘Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree’ lands on my doormat. Sri Mooji is direct disciple of Sri Harilal Poonja (Papaji) who was direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Rajan Sankaran's guiding light and guru.
If there is one ultimately good reason to write a book, it is to shed light on the path to freedom, peace and bliss. Not by sharing knowledge and concepts, but by pointing toward a direct experience of truth as one has found inside one's own being. And this is exactly what Rajan does in a very open way, and why I enjoyed reading this book.
I can only reflect on this book in a meaningful way by sharing how it resonates with my own journey. So, this review is not going to be objective in any way.
As a homeopath you may be inclined to analyse Rajan's case, as there are more than enough clues to do so. I would advise you not to. First of all, you would do him short, for a remedy only points to that which is blocking the recognition of the true Self. You would be looking for somebody, whereas the intention of the author is to be nobody. Second, you might miss valuable pointings for your own self-inquiry. Like the neighbour poet said on one of the walks he and Rajan had taken along the Juhu Beach: ‘do not get attached to any of these forms. Know that this too shall pass’.
In the beginning chapters, Rajan speaks highly of his father and mother, and later of all others that contributed to his development and growing awareness. Reading that the late P. Sankaran had a strong wish to abort the baby who would later be called Rajan, we can understand young Rajan's desire to be somebody of importance and to excel in the same profession that brought his father fame. It explains his urge to prove his right of existence as also the deep impact of critique on him, like was expressed by George Vithoulkas in an interview that Corrie Hiwat and I had with him in 1999 (LINKS Vol. 12, 4/1999:202–210). It is said that beauty is often created out of pain and trauma. Something similar seems to be true for the amazing contribution Rajan makes to homeopathy.
It is impossible to discuss all the beads that Rajan has strung on this mala. Let me just mention a few. We can read how, on his first teaching trips, cultural differences were misread by Rajan as insults, while I remember how some of his initial behaviour caused similar reactions in the audience. Hilarious, tragic and so recognisable as it is in all of us that ignorance and arrogance, innocence even, are at the root of suffering.
Many people who have inspired Rajan and who feature in the book have inspired me equally: Ramana Maharshi, and also Gandhi, Ramesh Balsakar, Sri Ramakrishna. The story of how ‘The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’ was given to Rajan is a beautiful example of how the universe rewards a heartfelt desire for truth. ‘Drop knowledge and wisdom will come’ is one of the gems Rajan got out of this book. ‘The Power of Now’ is mentioned. It had a deep impact on me and it was Rajan who recommended me to read it. Maggi, the former secretary of the Mother[b] who inspired Auroville, is one of our common friends. The fact that so many people and places I know and love and that inspire me are presented in this book makes it very alive to me.
Is that kind of recognition needed to appreciate this book? Definitely not. After reading this book, I thought of Simon Sinek. He states that people are not interested in what you do, but in why you do it. ‘If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe’. To get such an intimate insight into what drives one of the leading homeopaths of our time is inspiring.
Besides that, Indian philosophy is a beautiful foundation for homeopathy and it is therefore no surprise that about half of all homeopaths in the world live and practice in India. The law of similars can be understood as a practical application of Advaita, or nonduality. Homeopathy is based on ‘loving what is’ (oneness) instead of fighting reality (duality). The beautiful paradox being that once reality is accepted as it is, it can change.
Did I miss something or someone? Yes, I missed the mentioning of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897–1981). He lived close enough in space (Bombay) but perhaps not in time, as Rajan was still young when he passed away. His book ‘I Am That’ is a gem I highly recommend.
‘Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree’ finishes with the poem ‘there is a place’, pointing to that which lies beyond all the stories narrated in this book (and those narrated to us by our patients), followed by a call to the reader to share similar (or dissimilar) experiences at www.dogyogibanyantree.com.
Homeopathy can be used to rid man of the delusions that stand in the way of realising that he already is that place. That you are the one you are looking for. If there is one ultimately good reason to be a homeopath, it is this.
- 1 Sinek S. How great leaders inspire action. TED September 2009. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action