When Robert states that we should ignore the world, ignore our reactions to it, because the world is not real, “it is not as it seems,” what does he mean? More powerfully, he even says “The world does not exist, it is like a mirage.”
What does he mean? A mirage over what?
Some of us who have had some sort of awakening experience, especially of the non-existence of in internal, objective ‘I’, for a long while experience objects in the world to appear like a hologram, sort of transparent against a background of the Void, or beingness, or emptiness which acts as a screen or container onto which objects are seen, felt, heard, tasted, etc.
This is the Zen-like world of the Heart Sutra where we read, “Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.” Internal forms, such as images, thoughts and emotions, emerge from the background of internal, imaginal space, while external forms such as chairs, cars and people supposedly emerge from and return to empty space, even though few of us ever really see that unless we are on psychedelics or are diagnosed with a mental disorder.
There is more about Robert that very, very few people know.
Robert was an empath. He practiced psychometry. He used to touch objects gently, run his fingers over things to get a “feel” for whoever owned or created it. Whenever he received a letter, before opening it, he’d run four fingers around the edges of the letter and also touch the front of the letter. He used to do the same with some objects in a new room he was in, or when riding in my car, he’d run his fingers over the dashboard, as if divining some deep mystery of the car.
It was as if Robert “felt” by means of his fingers a world within the world I saw, but which was invisible to me. I wondered what he found so interesting about a world he claimed did not exist.
When I directly asked him at lunch as to what he meant by the world was not real, did he mean it just keeps changing and nothing was permanent, he said yes. That is, it was impermanency that made the world and us as human unreal, and that the underlying unchanging beingness, the witness, was the real.
Yet I knew there was more to his story than just that. If you spent time with Robert you would know without a doubt that Robert was seeing a world differently than you did.
Robert’s eyes were large and almost always unblinking. He could look at you or a scene for two or three minutes without shifting his gaze at all, and he would not blink during that time. He could sit in his chair by the rear window of his condo and just stare at the backyard scenery for hours. Most thought he was in Samadhi perhaps witnessing some inner truth, Void, emptiness or joy, but if so, why were his eyes open? He always looked like he was staring at a different world and that this world was of no sue to him at all.
Even his wife Nicole repetitively commented that Robert was an alien from a different world and she expected one day a flying saucer would land and take him back to his home planet. Even his own wife thought Robert was from a different world. Does this not suggest that Robert actually experienced a different world from our commonly accepted world of fixed objects, cause and effect and flowing time?
Another thing: Robert often had “visions” which he explained were not dreams, but visions of entities or of an alternative landscape that no one else saw. These visions were quite common and sometimes he spoke about one or another of them at Satsang.
His most common and repetitive vision when he was a youngster, was of seeing a two foot tall dwarf with white hair and beard standing at the bottom of his bed speaking “gibberish” to him. This vision disappeared about the age of seven. And at that age Robert developed a siddhi. He would just think of something he wanted, the most famous example he gives was of wanting to learn how to play a violin, say the word ‘God’ three times, and shortly he would get what he wanted, such as when his uncle brought him a violin the next day to learn to play.
Thus Robert “co-created” events, entities and objects in our commonly experienced manifest world just with “magic” of some sort, with ritual. Let the average neo-Advaitist chew on that one. His intentionality of wanting something was often followed by his getting it after a short ritual.
He often restated his most common adult vision, which was of him, Ramana, Jesus, the Buddha, and others, coming together in the middle of a mountain and ascending together as light bodies towards heaven.
He had this vision again just as he lay dying, telling family and friends around him on his deathbed that Ramana was there, pointing to everyone where Ramana was standing, and Jesus and others. They came to him just as in his vision, and then he died.
Shortly before that by a month or so, his dog Dimitri died. The story is found by clicking the Dimitri tab underneath the Robert tab on the wearesentience.com website. Someone found Dimitri’s dead in a room of his condo, and they tried to revive him. Blood was coming from his mouth as perhaps he had an aneurism. He did not revive.
A few minutes later, the woman who told me this story, went by that same room, and saw Robert with Dimitri. Only now Dimitri was live, sitting up and looking into Robert’s eyes as Robert bent over to greet Dimitri’s gaze. Then Dimitri laid down again and died. Robert told the woman, “He was having a hard time passing, and I helped him.”
All of these incidents points surely to the fact that Robert actually lived in a different reality than his wife, family, friends and students. Indeed, I am certain Robert was a shaman, able to see, feel, taste and touch a different world concealed to most, that existed side-by-side with the common world the rest of us saw, a hidden world within the world we all experienced.
This is what differentiates Robert from other Jnanis: he was also a shaman who lived in a different reality from more common jnanis such as Nisragadatta or Vivekananda, but much more in line with teachers or the Kriya or Raja Yoga traditions, such as Yogananda’s lineage of Mountain Gurus.
I know now that what Robert meant by the world is an appearance only, a mirage, is that the external phenomena were only the clothes worn by “the real,” and underneath the appearance were worlds hidden to most except to other empaths or shamans like himself.
Robert never directly stated there were other worlds hidden within the one we commonly experienced, but he did say there were a myriad of other worlds, other realities, but he never directly stated he had access to these. Part of this is that Robert was very careful about the teachings he expressed. After teaching for 40 years he knew what he could say and do and get away with without creating too much controversy for himself. I think he knew if he claimed also to be a shaman, claim powers, claimed to teach about others world, it would confuse his students who were trying to escape from this reality and to find peace within.
This double teaching that the world was not real, and we should only go within to find the Absolute, or the Self, did not fit well with the teaching that the manifest world was not as it seemed, and was really covering over a world of magic and infinite dimensions, a world of energies, ecstasies, astral projection (which he frequently talked about), mysterious healings, and the dead coming alive to be possessed by the presence of a dying master. (Also found in the life of Robert on the wearesentience.com website.)
Indeed, he would reserve such teachings for the mature student who had already become Self-Realized and would not lose that realization by the distraction of siddhis, visions, ecstasies, and other sorts of “magic.”