From Gstaad

After five years I returned to Gstaad to visit friends who are also here after a long absence. Entering the valley by train the views were as spectacular as I remembered, maybe even more so, I don’t really know. Every square inch of the town and the place I’m staying is packed with intense memories of UG. When I step into the elevator I remember him shoving me into the wall of the elevator in that same childish game he played every night when we left the building without tiring of it. I open the door to 803 where I’m staying and flash back to the stay in the “Hunting Lodge” next door, some footage of which is now on line where UG is talking about Osho, JK, and a variety of other topics in a dark grainy video. Walking into town I couldn’t resist stopping in to have a look at Chalet Birkenwild, where I first met him in what at the time was an ad-hoc basement living room with musical sewage pipes. By the time it was over,  I’d spent over a year living in that house and countless months in there with him night after night while he recovered from the fall in 2005. It sometimes reminds me of one of my favorite novels by Samuel Beckett called WATT, about a fellow called Knott, who goes to learn or live with and presumably seek the silent wisdom of Watt, and ends up living in a mental asylum.

      I’ve written already too many words not to have mentioned the sheer visual splendor of this valley of Saanen and Gstaad. JK told UG about it in the 40’s, UG brought his wife in the 50’s, and finally, after meeting Valentine, he spent 7 years here listening to the talks of JK before seeing the total futility of his situation for the first and last time. After that he never saw JK talk again, but he spent every summer here until the year he died. The greens defy description, the light, the flowers everywhere, the richness of the air with the vastness of the mountains, clouds puffed up around them like Maxfield Parrish fantasies. It seems untrue, dreamy, too much almost. A good place to be miserable because you are yanked out of the misery by the constant reminder of the infinite beauty of nature. That misery was worth every minute. People ask my why I put up with it. If they don’t know I can’t explain it. Some things are just too true to bother explaining. UG shoved me into the corner of my fake, learned, and finite ideas so hard he cracked and perminantly damaged them. That damage allowed my life to fill up with more things I don’t understand, can’t explain so I can live more fully. How do you thank someone for that? Not possible.

     The influence of UG was closer than skin, his affect on me was something I don’t understand and happily never will. He was like Ramakrishna in the flesh. I’d read the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna twice before meeting UG, bemoaning the fact that he was long dead. Now reading the Gospel for some reason comes closest to what I felt from UG, a living example of someone like that. Don’t be careful what you wish for, ask for, or wonder about. I wanted to know if there was really someone like that out there. I found him, or he found me, I have no idea, noone found anyone, nothing happened, put it however you like. Anything I can say comes across as a platitude, but now I know something is possible, something I was dreaming about.

     If the question of what that is comes to an end, the situation is resolved.



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10 Responses to From Gstaad

  1. Andres says:

    Hi Louis!

    What do you think of Ramakrishnas talk of “yearning and crying for God”. That you have to shed tears for him. Is there anything resembling UG in this way? Did he ever spoke in this way?

    • louisbrawley says:

      UG repeated a couple simple things, “I cannot create that hunger in you. You either have it or you don’t.” There were more of the same basic things RK said, talking about how sex and money were the acid test for a real McCoy. This will eliminate 99% of the players in the spiritual marketplace, who are either taking cash or having fun with the sensual life. The expression RK used was Tagi, warning his people about Kamini Kanchi,( women and gold), which you probably know means renunciation. UG spoke of this in his own way, saying “All holes are the same in the end, they may be tight in the beginning but they will all loosen up in due course.” He was essentially emphasizing that if you want ONE thing and ONE thing only, then you will get it, but there is no such thing as ‘All this and heaven too’. This is the sort of focus on one point and one point only that implied all other things would eventually drop. He had one question, that about Moksha, liberation, enlightenment, and finally when he saw the futility of his question it stopped, renunciation in a word. What UG gave up, or lost in his search was staggering by any standard. The proof is in the pudding here.


  2. peter kern says:

    Hi Louis, first I have to say that I really like your writings and your art work. On the other hand there is also a funny feeling here about what is still going on around U.G.. Of course, it is all fine, but do you really think that U.G. would have wanted all this? People making a kind of pilgrimage to the places he lived and going on and on about the being he was? Was there really a ‘person’ U.G.? What he might have wanted most for all of us, was certainly to clearly see what he was talking about. And then all would be finished, including U.G..
    The flower you pass on your walks around Gstaad, expresses as much this truth U.G. was talking about and living. We don’t have to look so far for it. It is always here. By believing sentiment and memory we miss the only thing which is there, which is the fullness of the present moment.
    But then, of course, I don’t really know. Some sentiment and respect and memory about U.G. is fine too, and that is obviously what is happening. I for my part certainly loved and love this man.
    So please, forgive me, but that is what came up here.
    Please be well and enjoy your time there.

    • louisbrawley says:

      Dear Peter, I welcome your comments and share the concerns about sentimentality and the like for sure. I wrote a book about UG in an attempt to record an account of the man, the human being I saw before me, not some god or god man who ruled over me. He defied all definitions at the same time he inspired something in me which when I describe it to others sounds religious but is not. This sort of thing is maddening because I understand the critique and there is no way out of it. I decided to come up to Gstaad out of curiosity and because some friends were coming whose company I really enjoy anyway. Without that component I doubt I would have returned. Having returned I appreciate the place as well as the memories, but there is something more that I cannot explain. There is no formal meeting and no teaching as such to review, yet and yet and yet. I suppose UG will be the ultimate obstacle for me to overcome, the ultimate model, but more than that, in some other way it is like I witnessed what being really alive would look like and he shoved and pushed and hassled and harassed me to be that on my own without him. In that sense I will always have enormous respect for him. As for the rest of it, he left a lively combination of something inside me that will never go away. That stuff I have no idea about and no interest in knowing or explaining. Less in this case, is more. thanks… L

  3. Andres says:

    Thanks for your reply, Louis!

    The confusing bit is that UG talks to us from the end. He says no effort is necessary or even possible… At the same time he says the natural state is the only way. Isn’t that a bait just like RK saying you have to yearn for God?

    • louisbrawley says:

      If you want to start dissecting this step by step you can get lost in the verbiage of any of these things. The thing RK and UG also shared was a distain for intellectualization. RK called it “Being an Englishman.” UG called it “Schoolboy’s logic.” Its an exercise in self aggrandizement. The basic thing is to reach a point where you really don’t know and nothing you’ve read has solved your problem including UG. Then maybe you will find out, but you and I are not going to find out a thing here even if we are serious.


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