Kanvar Mela – Adventure Holiday in Indian Style

MARIA WIRTH

All over India, an interesting phenomenon can be observed. On one hand, materialism is on the rise, and on the other hand, spirituality is also on the rise. Even difficult poojas, like the Chat Pooja, and arduous pilgrimages, like the Kanvar Mela, attract huge crowds, most of them young.  It shows that in spite of modern life style and western influence, the ancient bond to the spiritual dimension is strong. The majority of Indians still feel connected with the invisible power behind the visible forms and to the Gods who represent this unimaginable truth.

On July 13th, the first day of Shravan month, the Kanvar Mela will start again. Two years ago I mingled with the Kanvarias in Haridwar. I post here, what I had written then. It is still valid:

 Sitting in Dehradun, I could have got the impression that the Kanvar Mela is mainly about traffic…

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Periodically I’ll surf around the Internet searching for stuff on Sahaj Marg. As anyone could guess, the results vary widely and one is likely to find everything from the official sites of the practice to old “news” about scandals and blogs that report things like brainwashing and manipulation. I’ll say, though, that it isn’t terribly often that “new” results turn up in my searches. One thing that did turn up a number of months ago, which I hadn’t seen previously, was a video of our current guru, Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari. He’s affectionately known as Chari-ji and the aforementioned video really warmed me – I think partly because of his tone and word choice To me, he really sounds like the intonation of Wisdom), but also because of the actual message which I believe to be one that is unique to Sahaj Marg.

As it turns out (and I didnt know this until about 72 hours before this posting), the video is a snip-it of a three-part interview series Chari-ji granted in Northern India in May and June of 2011. I’m now reading a book called, “Sahaj Marg Meanderings” and you can imagine how pleased I was when even before page 15 I found myself reading words I had practically memorized from the video. This felt quite serendipitous!

I’ll add the video to this post so that you may enjoy it, too. In case accents are challenging for any listener / watcher of the video, there are subtitles. In “Sahaj Marg Meanderings,” there was a question about how the yogic transmission in Sahaj Marg works and why it’s effective. The sections of the interview (in the book) that brought about this explanation discussed briefly murti worship and the benefit of our yoga in using prefects to transmit to abhyasis, which is where the video comes into play.

My favorite part of the video is when Chari-ji briefly explains to his interviewers something that is really special. You see, throughout Hinduism one will find certain emphasis on one taking charge of his own destiny. Cultivating self-awareness and owning one’s karmas are immensely instrumental in that process – in fact, these things are vital. However, also throughout Hinduism one will find a tendency to lean on the gurus for that progression. We go to them and, placing our supposed “faith” in them, calling out the equivalent of “Save me – Save me.”

In Sahaj Marg things are somewhat different. In much the same way that home mandirs are viewed to be extentions of one’s local temple, in Sahaj Marg so are the abhyasis and specifically the prefects within Sahaj Marg. We are the temples of the One and our practice, in creating the conditions for unloading samskaras, allows us to essentially build and beauty our temple – which is really just a returning to a condition which has been concealed and covered up. Additionally, I find that the explanation in the video is quite practical and reasonable and I hpe it makes sense to you, dear reader.

There are other components of our practice, of course. And these elements have been veritable life savers for me in the last 6 weeks or so. But the real “where it’s at” in our practice, the element which is what enables our progression toward liberation (and even beyond that), is the transmission spoken of in the video.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Fertig

I don’t really know how much longer my birth mother will live. She’s very sick and she’s very dishonest about virtually everything that leaves her mouth. But after last Friday, I refuse to concern myself with suchery. I didn’t know it when I awoke Friday morning on a mission to see my mother through a surgery we had only weeks prior been told she wouldn’t survive, but that day would prove to be the last straw for me. The following pictures are some that were snapped weeks ago as my sister and I were with our mother in the hospital when it was explained to us that she was not only too weak to undergo a surgery but also that she likely had little more than a month to live. The man in the pics is “Ron” and is someone my mother had called her fiancé until this week when she randomly began referencing him as her husband. Neither of which has ever been the case. He’s also a fine human specimen, as you can see from the photos. I’ll spare you the rest of what I know about this man. No one’s mother should ever be with him. It’s safe to say that the last picture in this line-up is probably the last time I loved my mother.

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My entire life, and similarly for the duration of the lives of my siblings, my mother has consistently chosen anything and everything over her children. For this and numerous other reasons which I’ll mostly not go into here, she is quite literally the very worst human being I’ve ever known in person.

It’s pretty painful to live 34 years knowing your birth mother never really loved you. But that, I can deal with. After all, eventually one gets big enough to shout back, hit back (god forbid), or avoid her. That last option once brought about a period of time that amounted to a full 50% of my current existence that went by without so much as a hello from her. It’s possible, in the most hopeful of minds, to rationalize that she perhaps never quite knew how to love. Her own mother says that my mother should never have become a mother. I think she says that because my mother has never demonstrated an interest in actually genuinely loving the human lives she created. A lack of interest in doing something shouldn’t be confused with an inability to do it.

For some reason though, even if one accepts that bullshit rationalization about someone not knowing how to love, I can tell you it hurts far worse – cuts far, far deeper – to see that she not only doesn’t love you like a mother would, but also that she doesn’t even like you.

Doesn’t even fucking like you.

I don’t understand it and I’m not likely to any time soon. And I can accept that – there’re lots of things I don’t understand. What I will not accept is the continuation of this abusiveness – at all. There comes a point when enough really is enough and one has to call it quits. I won’t ask her to change, but I wont endure anything more from her.

I’m done. I didn’t like her, but still loved her. Now even that isn’t true. She made a decision recently and in making that decision for herself, she made one for me also. This is over. My sincerest hope is that her next life brings her fresh opportunity to be what she should and also that her karmas don’t visit her too much at once.

Aum Tryambakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushtivardanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanam
Mrtyor Mukshiyamamrtitat

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti-hi

What Comes Naturally

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My last post was about whether a Self-Realized soul is aware of their state – or not. I think there are differing opinions on this which are based on differing understandings – which is fine. And surely self-realization is a progressive thing in most instances, so I think it’s quite possible and even quite likely that a soul would be aware of its progress. Surely if any normal human is able to look back on their own physical existence and recall what it was like to be a child or a teen or a young adult, then the same or very similar would apply to the growth of awareness of our real nature.

But my question, to word it entirely differently, was really more along the lines of, “Does a teenager know how ridiculous and moody it is while in the middle of that ridiculousness and moodiness AND does the teenager recognize that ridiculousness and moodiness are typically symptomatic of that state of existence? Does a teenager know the is-ness of teenager-ing while is-ing teenager-ness? I think my answer is still pretty much no. I feel like if the answer were yes, then the teenager would be an entirely different creature altogether – that’s what awareness and development do. And as an aside, I think the (to me) fact that the answer is no points to the truth behind the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” You usually don’t / aren’t able to fully know what you are until you are no longer that – hopefully having progressed and not regressed.

It will come as no surprise that this post is inspired by Sahaj Marg reading I’ve done lately. I promise no lengthy quotes this time, though. But something I read last night ties into all this I think, and points to something else many might not realize.

Chariji, the current Satguru of Sahaj Marg says that in India everyone seeks blessings from elevated souls – from gurus, sadhus, etc… And he points out that this is unnecessary and indicative in an unfortunate way. After all, what else do those folks do? What purpose is their having a physical existence if not to bless? These blessings obviously come in a bajillion different ways, each depending on the receiver and the circumstance. But divinity doesn’t usually show its face in such a concentrated measure for no good purpose. Right? We cling to our gurus and such for any number of reasons but each of those reasons is technically a form of blessing.

And so it might be possible that there are two implications to read into folks seeking elevated souls for blessings. One would be the indication of a weak relationship between the blesser and the blessed. I mean, why seek blessings if you already feel blessed? This is related to the effort (or lack thereof) the sadhak is investing into the sadhana. The other would be that the blesser perhaps isn’t doing his “job” very well, aka perhaps isn’t fulfilling the purpose of his mission as a light among humans.

In Sahaj Marg, our sadhana is short and sweet and is founded on a direct relationship to the guru in our pursuit of the Goal. (As in many other Hindu paths, in Sahaj Marg the guru is a brief personification of the Goal.) For this reason whenever our last Satguru, Babuji, would be approached by devotees for blessing it would sadden him a little. He would wonder, “What is this? Have I perhaps forgotten to do my duty? Have I neglected my duty? Why has it become necessary to ask me?”

To ask our gurus for blessings is like asking the sun for more light. No? The sun kind of doesn’t know what the light is – it itself IS the light. It is the embodiment of the light and is itself illumined. To ask it for light makes no sense when its whole and sole existence IS to be light. To ask the sun for light necessarily implies that the sun, in some way, hasn’t given light. This ties back into other writings here and within the Sahaj Marg where it’s been asserted that God doesn’t love because God IS love. What needs to be taken, need not be asked for.

Similarly, God cannot give. God cannot identify the recipient either. “I am everything,” says the One. It’s a rare Hindu indeed who doesn’t believe that everything comes from God, is created of God and is literally pervaded by God. We often reference the Divine and being all-pervasive. Think about what that means. How can It give Itself to Itself when it is already fully and filled with Itself? It makes no sense.

This line of thinking is actually fundamental to Hindus and dates back to the Vedic times. It reminds me of “Aum Purnam” which is inked around my left wrist. It’s a Vedic shloka that ends with, “everything taken from everything, everything remains.” Alternately, another translation goes, “wholeness from wholeness removed, wholeness yet remains.” It’s like trying to shake hands with yourself – nonsense! It’s also like taking a dollar, putting it into one of your pockets, and then moving it into another of your pockets and thinking that you have more money than you started with because two pockets held money instead of just the first. The One can’t give to or take away from that which is already everything – Itself.

When all of this is framed within the context of a guru or a Self-Realized soul, it’s important to keep in mind what being Self-Realized means and entails. I obviously don’t know everything on the matter, but one thing to remember is that Self-Realization is the full awareness and experience of the divinity at the heart of each living thing. This is godliness in its truest application and is also our most natural state. The purpose of yoga in all it’s forms being to marry the gross exterior with the sublime Core within us, we can see the resultant holy state – a state of being that wouldn’t be such if it didn’t correlate directly with our Self, with God.

I think these ideas, as fundamental as they are, are some “big picture” kinda ideas and definitely require some mental mastication for some folks who don’t usually dive so deep.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Know What?

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A short time ago I asked a precious pal of mine whether he thought Self-Realized souls in human bodies know they’re perfected. He chewed on that question from 17:43 until his response came at 18.59, after which time his answer was, “Yes.” He went on to explain that he thinks they “just know” even if they don’t fully understand it or recognize it from birth. He brought up that some are simply wise beyond their years and than many, after they realize this, would perhaps still not think they are “perfected.”

I think I can agree to all that, although I might have originally been going in a different direction.

A long time ago I read somewhere that, “The eye itself cannot see itself. Brahman cannot see Brahman.” I’m sure if that were googled, the source might be found, but I’m not doing that right now. At any rate, it makes sense, right? When was the last time your eyeball was able to see itself (without the use of some kind of reflective surface)? Pointing out that Brahman cannot see Itself, to me, ties back into the Impersonality of It and even of how I’ve written about God being love, but not being loving.

In the book I’m reading currently, “The Call of Spirituality,” the question of whether a Master can know he is a Master is asked. The conclusion reached is that when a Master reaches his Master’s state, he knows his Master – but doesn’t know his own state – which happens to be pretty well one and the same (yoga). I think in this situation the loss of traits like ego and samskaras are part of the reason why one can achieve elevated states and not be filled with the knowledge of that achievement. So what, then?

Part of the answer to the aforementioned question is that the Master can look “downward” to his own disciples to gain perspective on his own state (which is like that of his own Master). Chariji indicates, “By seeing our Master we come to know what he is and what he looks like. He can know his own condition when one of his disciples reaches that stage. Therefore, after understanding his own Master, the Master understands himself.” Surely this phenomenon accounts, at least in part, for why we often reference our gurus as mirrors. To help put this into an understandable perspective, a girl understands the qualities of a mother (who and what a mother is) by watching her own mother (or even another mother). But to know about motherhood, she has to give birth, become a mother, and experience it.

I think this kind of implies a hierarchy of sorts where to know your Goal and to progress you must look onward and upward toward That which you’re reaching and progressing. But to actually know and maybe even measure your progress, you have to look downward – so to speak. Perhaps you can’t know the heights you’ve reached without looking to see how far from the ground you are.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Namo Namaha, Guruji-Guruji

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I think a lot of people don’t know really what to look for in a guru. I think a lot of people aren’t looking for a guru, but of those who are there’s often confusion on which Master should be followed. Surely this factors into what Krishna meant when he told Arjuna that so few people seek Truth and of those few even fewer quickly reach elevated states.

I think it can be challenging, for sure, because everyone’s path is different and every Master brings a different approach to Reality. This also, I think, ties back into some of what Krishna was speaking of in a very round-about way. Certainly part of the reason so few people make any progress on a personal / spiritual level is because so few people are invested enough in their own development to even know which direction to head off in. If you don’t ever force yourself to crawl, then it’s unlikely you’re going to walk anytime soon and obviously without moving yourself you won’t go anywhere. And I think it’s not even until after all that is underway that someone is really going to benefit from having a guru. After all, it’s a rare person indeed who skips high school and goes instead from elementary to university. (Although it’s not unheard of.)

I have learned from a number of Masters in my life so far, and will continue to take learning and inspiration wherever and however it presents itself. My own sources of growth have been as varied as Mata Amrtanandamayi Ma (Amma, the Hugging Saint), Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Eckhart Tolle, and even a Hindu drag nun as well as many others. All of these sources of light have benefitted me in wonderful ways, but none in a way that I felt so strongly pulled toward that I couldn’t resist on some level or another. Some felt too distant. Some felt too worldly. Some felt too otherworldly.

My path, regardless of its direction, has virtually always been about balance. At times this has manifested better than at others, but balance has always been the underlying foundational goal. Through all my seeking, something that always gnawed at me within my heart is the question of, “How to accept another human being as a great person?” Mind you, the implication meant for the word “great” isn’t merely good or nice. It’s meant to imply more of what “guru” encompasses. A week or two ago while doing some reading, I found a passage that does well at starting to answer this question for me and I think it explains a little of why I’m drawn to the gurus of the Sahaj Marg – teachers who many do not feel pulled to. I planned to share some of what I read on this, but I think I’ll abstain from quoting so extensively for now.

The reading I mentioned pointed out that many people face the issue of how to accept a teacher when the teacher doesn’t seem much (if any) better than the student. Some might see this issue as pride, but in Sahaj Marg this is seen more of an issue of doubt. Pride dissolves relatively easily, but doubt is significantly dense. It basically comes down to me being a human and knowing my own weaknesses and assuming the same of a guru, who is also human.

It’s understood in Sahaj Marg that this is nothing new. Since the beginning of… well, everything, people have doubted that another human is really fit to be a Master. Krishna was asked this by Duryodhana and in a different manner was asked this by Arjuna. This kind of questioning happens because we’re judging the potential teacher on the basis of our own qualities. Naturally, we see the world according to our own outlook. (In Sahaj Marg, we keep this in mind and do our best not to find fault with anyone because each sees according to his own growth. Whether you think there’s God or Guru – or not – is fine because it’s simply a reflection of your own stage of progress.)

People unconscious of their own internal landscape might ask questions like, “How it is that that person gets angry even after reaching a high spiritual stage?” “Master has FIVE children?” And someone unable to give up smoking might also be found saying, “Even Master smokes hookah.” We magnify our shortcomings and then view the world and our teachers.

But a truly divine personality would have everything – good and so-called bad qualities. Everything. Are gurus only responsible for nourishing and uplifting you? What about the duty to reprimand, too? Chariji points out, “If we keep thinking that the Master should always love us, be compassionate always, should always keep giving but should never ask, we divide Reality and ask for only one half and we end up not getting anything. This is like asking for shade alone and not for sunshine. The greater the sunshine the more beautiful the shade. If there is no sunshine there is no shade either.”

With this in mind, it seems clear how important it is to find and recognize a guru that is realistic and practical for whatever stage you’re at, while also taking care that that same teacher is capable of helping you to progress beyond where you are. If you’re a warrior, find a perfected warrior teacher. If you’re a monk, find a guru appropriate for monks. And if you’re a householder, only a guru who has experienced and completely fulfilled that specific dharma will suffice.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti