When I took sannyas and I first met you, it was like meeting again with an ancient beloved, as if I had known you for a long time. Is it so, or is every meeting with an enlightened being so much a reminder of one’s own inner self that it feels as if one has met before?
The experience of remembering as if you have been with me before in the past lives has two dimensions – one, which you mention in your question itself.
Each meeting with an enlightened person is meeting with a mirror. You see yourself as in reality you are – not the mask but the original face, not the personality but your universal being. The meeting with the enlightened person creates a resonance, a certain vibration that reaches to the very depths of your being.
Because you don’t know your self, it seems you have met this enlightened being before – because you don’t know your own enlightenment. It is your self-nature. This is one dimension.
But there is another dimension also. You have lived many lives, and it is impossible that you have not come across the awakened, the enlightened, the illuminated beings – perhaps many times.
You have met these strangers, these outsiders, on different paths, on different crossroads – the quality of enlightenment is the same. So if you loved me deeply enough, all those experiences – which were momentary, because you never lived with an enlightened being long enough, otherwise you would not be here – just passing moments, but even the shadows, the reflections, are revived again because the taste is the same.
Gautam Buddha is reported to have said, “You can taste the ocean from anywhere. It is always salty.” It does not make any difference whether it is the Atlantic or Pacific. So is the case with enlightenment: it is an ocean of consciousness, and the taste is immensely sweet, fulfilling, enlightening. And the person who is before you is no longer important. What is important is the invisible experience that he is carrying within himself.
So if you have passed a Gautam Buddha on a crossroad, or a Mahavira, or a Mahakashyapa, or a Kabir, or a Farid – meeting me, all those momentary impressions on your being will be revived again and it will appear as if you have known me before, many many times in many many lives.
But the very apparent meaning is not true.
I was not enlightened before this life. So even if you have met me, you have not met me – it was just an unconscious being like yourself. And you have been meeting thousands of people. I may have been one of those thousands of unconscious people that you came across – that is not significant.