Monday, November 12, 2012

How is a spiritual way relevant for today's people?


In the last dialogue we saw that Sahaj marg is a way of life, allowing one to lead a balanced life in middle of this modern world. Its practice consists of Meditation and Cleaning, backed by teacher's active assistance in the form of yogic transmission. Also, help is available almost all over the world through a system of prefects - who train people in learning meditation and give yogic transmission.

I thought you are going to elaborate on how is it relevant to today's people. Isn't it?

Yes.

First, people are increasingly realizing the importance of a well cultivated human mind. A human being is able to 'think' using his mind. No other living creature on earth possesses this ability to think.

But, it has been proved that humans are able to use - at best - a very small percentage of what mind is capable of, may be 4 to 5% not more. Why is that? One problem is that mind is perpetually in a state of activity. It gets some rest only during the sleep. But, during waking state one thought leads to another, giving rise to incessant thoughts; very similar to the Brownian motion observed in liquid by scientists.

Can this incessant movement of thoughts be controlled or regulated? If yes, it may become possible to exceed our current level of understanding and knowledge of the world around us.

Sahaj marg helps here because it is yoga of the mind. It helps to bring the ever wavering mind to a regulated state by taking up the regular practice of meditation and cleaning. Result of such a practice is a regulated and clean mind - that does not allow impressions to form or settle.

For one who is not doing this type of practice, what happens is that impressions created by daily thoughts and actions settle and become hardened in to something called grossness. Over a period of time such grossness settles down on heart - called samskars. This samskars are responsible for our habits and behaviour patterns. It's a teacher's job in Sahaj Marg to get rid of this grossness settled on the heart. When done, heart is cleared of habits, behaviour patterns and emotions; and one becomes free from the binding effects of grossness. When this happens, one is liberated from effects of the past.

Second, in today's world there is a lot of easiness compared to a world say 200 years back. It's all due to advancement of science and technology in the last 150 years or so. But due to this easiness people's body and mind are becoming weaker every day. We feel helpless when any of this technology props viz., electricity, vehicles, telephones, water in the tap and information at the fingertips is not available.

Being surrounded by so many things and conveniences, do we feel complete? Temporarily yes, when desired object is available. But after some time the joy wears off and we start looking for something new, better, innovative and so on. Is there any end to this quest for novelty? Not really. In fact, a time comes when we feel emptiness.

Why do we feel emptiness, in spite of having everything?

It is because we intuitively realize that all these things may fill up space and make life easy, but it does not give satisfaction in the long run. There is something that is missing. We don't feel full, complete, satisfied and contented.

What is missing? Why does a modern man feel that his life is not fulfilled?

Let us examine. It is said that soul resides in the heart of the human beings. Many experiments have been done by modern scientists to find out property of such soul (if it exists) say weight - by accurately weighing body of a dying person before and after the death. But such experiments have not yielded any satisfactory answers.

Answer to this mystery of what gives life to the human and other living creatures has been reasonably well explained by saying that soul enters a body giving it a life and soul leaves body by making it dead. But, such answers do not make us much wise.

Why?

Because, until we are able to directly experience it, we are unable to find use of such a knowledge. Till then it is just a hypothesis. Isn't it?

True. Everyone says god or soul is there inside the heart of every living being; but I can't identify with it in any way. What's use of such knowledge?

Good. You have hit the nail on the head.

Sahaj marg says that soul not only resides in the heart of a human being, it has got life of its own. Purpose of our assuming this body is that we do something so that soul gets back its life while we are living; and it continues thereafter, after the soul has left this body.

Is it possible to offer life back to the soul? Isn't it supposed to be immortal etc.? You must be joking.

No. What happens is that soul has become trapped in a web of its own making due to the hardening of impressions called grossness that we form due to our daily thoughts and actions - things I referred to while explaining cleaning. Do you remember it?

Yes. And you said it's teacher's role to take care of impressions or grossness that were already formed.

True. What happens is that although soul is immortal etc. it has got trapped in a sort of cocoon of grossness. Due to the effort of meditation and cleaning - assisted by the teacher's transmission, slowly this grossness is removed or peeled off; and soul slowly becomes free to move.

Its only when a soul becomes free that the possibility of its journey on its onward path becomes possible. When this happens it's a joyous moment because soul has got back its life, of course not fully but to an extent, where it is able to move further, after lapse of possibly thousands of years. Of course, much journey remains to be done before it reaches its homeland or final destination. That state is known as self-realization.

But, aren't we supposed to take up journey to holy places to reach the state of self-realization?

No. It is very unfortunate that this idea of journey of the soul within human system was known and discovered by the founders of great religious movements thousands of years back; and it got degenerated over a period of time into this idea of physical journey over land to holy places.

Proof of same is evident from the fact that even though people take up many a times very arduous journey to the holy places, they feel only a temporary elation. When they come back home they have not changed in any way. So, only journey worthwhile taking up is this inner journey of the soul within human system. But, even this journey starts only after great deal of effort is made in freeing up the soul from its bondage of grossness, also known as samskars.

So, after that I believe soul's journey must be easy?

Not really. It's only a beginning of a long journey. Path is long and slippery. By self-effort such journey takes thousands of years, as mentioned in old yogic literature, taking up numerous lives. During this journey soul sheds various coverings like that of illusion (maya), ego etc., and becomes more and more free.

Only a capable teacher who has travelled this path himself; and has capacity to help other people through yogic transmission can make journey easy. Of course, even the aspirant has to put in his own effort and co-operate with the teacher to cut down this journey time.

Good news is that teacher in Sahaj marg is able to cut down this time to just one life i.e., this life itself. Who knows what will be there after this life?

Come on, you are just making an exaggerated claim or promise.

Ok. Assuming that what is claimed is not true, isn't it great to know that at least some one is there who says I've a method, if you follow it sincerely while co-operating with my work on you, it is possible to lead to self-realization in one life time. Isn't it worth trying?

Tell me honestly how many people you have heard or known, in the history of mankind, who have been bold to make such a claim? Human history has no knowledge of any. So, it may be worth giving Sahaj marg a try and see if it is really able to offer something that gives direction and fulfillment to the life.

I see your point. It seems worth trying. But, can you tell me more about it before I decide?

Proof of pudding is in eating and then deciding. Visit www.heartfulness.org for an experiential try. It is worth giving a sincere try - at least for 3 months. You need not contact any one; and one can try in the comfort of the home. If you would like to explore more then try meditation with a trainer and you should be able to get a taste of the 'beyond.'

Note: Heartfulness is an invitation (or an approach) to Sahaj Marg. So, if one likes Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation then for a deeper experience one starts Sahaj Marg practice where apart from mediation there is a practice of cleaning and few other things.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

My experiments with the beyond




Today I wish to write about 'beyond' - a subject very close to my heart.

My experiments with the beyond started around 1980, when I started learning meditation. I did that mainly to become a better person. And today, after lapse of 32 years my enthusiasm to explore further has not waned. Rather it has only increased.

Why is that?

It is because I accidentally stumbled upon a way that has given meaning and direction to my life. I can say with confidence that I will not regret my life when it ends.

Here, I am referring to a way of life called Sahaj Marg.

What's so great about it? Aren't there so many people and organizations that claim the same?

Yes. But, I don't have experience of any of them, so I can't say anything about them. But, I can surely talk about this based on my own experience. And, I've found that this way is all encompassing i.e., one does not have look for anything outside of this.

Let's start.

First, it directs people's attention to the divine presence that is already present in the heart of all humans. And, it teaches one to meditate on this presence, to ultimately become one with this presence.

How to meditate?

Meditation is not new to human beings. Mystics and Sanyasis have been doing it for thousands of years. But, rarely in the past, is meditation learnt by ordinary human beings who are leading a normal family life.

Now, in modern times there is a renewed interest in meditation. This is because ordinary people feel the need to do something about the incessant flow of thoughts that assail them daily, resulting in high level of stress in their lives.

And, people are right in their search to find solution for their problems in meditation. This is because. if we manage to learn to meditate correctly, it is possible to put one’s thoughts on one thing at a time for a reasonable period of time.

How is that? I thought it is very difficult.

It is not. But at the same time, it is not easy either. Many people have tried to learn meditation on their own by reading books on yoga or under someone’s guidance. But, there is not much success because most of the time people try to ‘concentrate’ or try to suppress thoughts in the meditation. Here, it is important to know that, when we try to concentrate or forcefully try to suppress the thoughts they come back with renewed force. So, while doing meditation we should not try to ‘concentrate.’

You see, concentration is the state in which we get into when we are able to meditate properly. In other words, concentration is the result of meditation and not vice versa.

Then, tell me in simple words, how do I meditate?

When we think about one thing continuously - that is a meditation. Does it mean “we are doing it all the time and there is nothing more to learn?” Not at all. What we are doing every day is that “we are thinking of something or other continuously but not meditating.”

Here, in meditation, we try to put our mind on thought that divinity is present in the heart in the form of light; and we try to keep this thought for as long as we are able to. When we realize that other thoughts are coming, we try to ignore them and gently put our mind back to earlier thought. By doing this practice repeatedly - every day, in due course of time after sufficient practice, we gain mastery over this process.

Yes. But it is easier said than done. Many have tried it but constant rush of thoughts make it impossible to sit for more than 5 to 10 min. Isn't it?

True. But, here there is a difference.

What?

Here, an active help from the teacher is available that makes it work.

Can you explain more?

Sure. When anyone starts doing meditation under Sahaj marg, he is helped in his practice by the yogic power possessed by the teacher, called pranahuti or yogic transmission. When an aspirant is introduced to the Sahaj Marg he is prepared to receive this yogic transmission. When such an aspirant sits in meditation he receives the yogic transmission from the teacher, whether he feels it or not. Also, onslaught of thoughts do not stop during meditation. But, if learns to remain unmindful of disturbing thoughts by treating them as uninvited guests, after sometime he is able to sit in meditation for reasonable period of time.

Then how does this meditation become useful or effective?

It is said that - as we think we become. Here, in Sahaj Marg, we think of the divine presence in the heart, continuously for 1 hour, every day morning; to eventually feel that presence in the heart.

Is it true? It is worth trying then.

Sure.

Second, here teacher or guru is an ordinary person, leading life like anybody else. He leads a normal family life and earns his own living by doing job or business.

Then how is he able to do meditation; and at the time teach people about it?

That's a good question. In Sahaj marg we are taught to lead a balanced life i.e., we lead normal material life; and side by side we do meditation practice that helps us to grow spiritually. Just 1 hour of daily meditation and about 40 min of other practice makes it possible to live a balanced existence.

And teacher is able to assist people with the help of yogic transmission. So here, teacher does not stop at prescribing the meditation practice but helps an aspirant actively by offering his assistance through yogic transmission.

But, how is it possible to help people, say who are located far away from the teacher?

For that he has appointed certain aspirants to work on his behalf and permitted them to offer transmission and personal guidance. There are more than 3,500 such people (called prefects) spread over more than 90 countries of the world. They explain the method to the aspirants, give transmission to help them grow spiritually and guide them if they have any difficulty.

Oh, that's different. That means, almost anyone can try this meditation practice anywhere. Isn't it?

Yes. And there are no eligibility criteria except that one should be of 18 years of age and willing to give it a try. And there are no fees charged for the training and guidance. If it works then aspirant can continue or he can stop.

Third, apart from the daily meditation one is expected to sit for about 30 min in the evening, and do something called Cleaning. In this, one sits like in the meditation with the closed eyes, but one does not think of the divinity in the heart. Instead, one is expected to use his will power and remove slowly all the impressions gathered during the day's work from the system.


Cleaning Process
You see, reason why new acquaintance almost always start on a good note because there is no past experience. But, when we get to know a person for some time, we develop certain prejudices and it is not easy to deal with the person. But, if somehow manage to remove daily impressions, like what we do in the Cleaning, every day would be a new day, without any thing of the past pulling us back. So, Cleaning has a tremendous benefit of liberating us from the effects of the daily impressions.

Tell me more about Cleaning. I hope it is not difficult to do.

In the Cleaning process we use mind (like a broom) to clean the impressions taken by the mind. This process can be understood thus. When we want to lift our hand, we make a will and a signal goes from our mind to lift the hand; and hand is lifted. Isn't it? Similarly, in cleaning, we use our will power to clean the impressions; and our system is cleaned. Initially people may find it bit difficult understand and practice it; but slowly one learns to do it, by doing it repeatedly.
Use of Will to Clean the System
Process of cleaning is unique to Sahaj marg and its efficacy can be gauged only by experiencing it. It makes one free of the daily dose of impressions that one collects during the day's work. When cleaning is done well, aspirant feels lighter in the mind. It is similar to - when we have grown say lot of hair on the head we get used to it and we don't feel its weight. But, when hair cut is given we feel lighter.

Ok. Cleaning may rid one of the daily impressions. But, what about impressions collected before starting the Sahaj marg?

Good question. That's work of the teacher. In fact, teacher's real work and need for a teacher, is in removal of older impressions. It is not easy for an ordinary person to remove it by his own effort. But, in Sahaj marg it is possible for the teacher to do it because of yogic transmission.

But, tell me, what's use of going inside by closing eyes and doing meditation & cleaning? Isn't it possible to know everything through the five senses that we have?

This is a way that takes one inside of oneself. And believe me, there is no limit to how much more one can go inside. It is said that universe inside is bigger than what we see outside. And it is true. We don't know about it because either we have never tried to explore it or we did not have effective method to do it.

It's only when we go inside we realize that there is a universe inside of us, in our heart where divinity, light, purity and peace pervades. It makes us aware of a different world which we had possibly heard about earlier, but never experienced.

Isn't it called self-realization or some similar name? 

Yes. But, this is best dealt by having an actual experience rather than knowing about it intellectually - by reading books or listening to lectures. Current state of knowledge about self-realization is very confusing. Best is to jump in to it and check it out first hand.

But, isn't it supposed to very difficult and not relevant for an ordinary human being?

Yes, it used to be like that, but times do change. Take for example the field of science and technology; currently we are using things that people 200 years back could not even imagine. Similarly, time has possibly come for a newer world, where people would seek fulfillment and purpose in life by going inside rather than seeking it outside. We have already seen effects of seeking fulfillment from the world outside of us. It's time we seek to explore the beyond.

How it is relevant in today's world?

Well, I will write about it some time later. Bye for today.

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p.s., let me know how you find this piece of writing.


Note: This article is extensively edited in Nov 2013 with the help of a fellow brother. I'm thankful to him for his valuable suggestions for the improvement.
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