Another place Daaji is making his presence known is on the Speaking Tree website by Times of India. You can find Daaji’s profile there by clicking here. When I came to find out about this, Daaji had only 33 followers through that site and also was the first “Followed Master” to have a following that hadn’t yet entered the triple or quadruple digits. He now has 34 followers there and I look forward to viewing content made available through the Speaking Tree.
When this was brought to my attention via a recent abhyasi newsletter, it was because of this website being the location of another of Daaji’s online blogs. You can click here to access that blog. Right now there is only an initial post which only gives a taste of what is to come – Daaji’s presentation of Heartfulness.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shri Gurubhyo Namaha | Aum Shanti
Daaji, the “global guide” for Heartfulness and Sahaj Marg, now has a regular blog postings at the HuffPost Healthy Living site. You can find it by clicking here. The first post you’ll see here is that Daaji discusses “How to Put Your Heart Into Living” and breaks that approach up into ideas dealing with “How do we compromise our intrinsic good?” “How does the heart speak?” “Easing the burden: the play of heart and mind” and “How to integrate the heart and mind?”
Before diving into these areas of discussion, Daaji gives a few examples of when ignoring the heart and its connection to the brain lead us awry. “There are many issues at play. The most powerful arise when we ignore the intrinsic goodness and the intrinsic peace that exist in all of us,” he says, to gently remind us of what Eastern Dharmas have told us for many thousands of years and which is a trademark difference between spiritual paths originating in the East versus those from the Middle East or West.
When discussing the usual compromise of intrinsic goodness experienced by each of us, Daaji rightly points out that the whole mess begins with us labeling things and experiences and then being caught between these labels of our own making. Here in the USA, that is very apparent – and something about which we’re in deep denial. Regardless of the context – whether political, religious, sexual, economic, you name it – we do nothing but label and categorize things and experiences and then find ourselves caught because we’re so buried in self-created madness that we lose the right ability of discernment.
The first thing shared with us about how the heart speaks is that which is really common sense, but which most people gloss over: When we do what we ought to the heart is at peace and is silent, but when the opposite is true the heart protests! All of this hinges on simplicity and being in tune with Nature – relating back directly to the Ten Maxims.
The heart and mind, Daaji says, are always interconnected and when mindfulness and heartfulness are in perfect synchronicity they function as one and purpose in life is experienced and realized.
In closing we focus on integration – what Sahaj Marg and Heartfulness are really all about. Daaji mentions the need for observing “inner weather” – not too far off from the many times I’ve mentioned here about tending to one’s inner landscape or inner garden. We learn to still the mind, connect with and through the heart and find ourselves evolving and as Daaji pointed out, “… we steer through life wisely, steadfastly, sans regrets.”
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shri Gurubhyo Namaha |Aum Shanti
Not nearly often enough I get to visit other blogs. Between school, spirituality, and leisure all I do is read – seriously. I tell people that i get about 30 minutes of television per week and it’s really not far from what the actual truth probably is. I have so much reading on my plate, but I’d have it no other way – except that others’ blogspaces are usually last on the list of thing to poke at for reading material. Usually, though, my reading means additions to my home library and more wisdom stuffed into my brain space.
Here on Sthapati Samanvayam I maintain a side page of blogs I have found and which I think you should find, too. In order for you to find it you can go to Sthapati’s home page and locate the link for “Blogroll, if you please” which is right next to the page, “Samyag Akhyate (About Me)” – both of which are at the top right-ish area of the screen. Or you can just click here.
Either way, it’s been updated. There were a number of blogs included there which are now not – primarily because when I clicked the link the most recent post was from 2014 or else the site had been taken down altogether. Initially, this list of blogs was a fair mix – a true representation of the Smartism I love. There’s still a variety of blogs to be found there including places as diverse as general Hindu blogs, gay Hindu blogs, non-Indian Hindu blogs, and even paraplegic Hindu blogs – but now there’s a more bigger representation of blogs that center around Sahaj Marg or Heartfulness.
As I’ve written this post and near the publishing time for it, it comes to my mind that I might eventually – or soon – create a another side page to visit here which will specifically sort apart the blogs relating to Sahaj Marg and Heartfulness.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti
I’ve written so many times about things I see on Facebook. Today, as I prepared to take my lunch at work, I ran across a post in my feed of an article shared by MBG (MindBodyGreen) website. It was a piece written on Heartfulness. I found it to be simple but impressive and conveys the very most basic layer of Heartfulness which has been a focus lately as Heartfulness opens itself up to the world. If you would like to read the article for yourself, then you can click here.
I’m always curious when I see write-ups like this. My path is undergoing a period of intense evolution, and while it’s unstoppable and surely beneficial, it’s also not been without its bumps. In the last two weeks, locally, the Heartfulness Indianapolis community has held two meetings. These meetings haven’t quite gone as planned, but were productive nonetheless and in the first meeting there was an abhyasi who asked a question the answer to which ended up really flavoring the entire gathering that day. Quite simply he asked, “What is Heartfulness?” His question carried other implied questions which were also addressed. Questions like, “How does it differ from traditional Sahaj Marg?” and “In Heartfulness, are we losing our history and stepping away from our known foundation?” The preceptor leading the gathering answered the question to the best of her ability and the answer was very full. Her answer also left the conversation open for discussion from others and input based on an individual’s current understanding. We had passed around a flier, quite professional looking, which could be used when presenting Heartfulness in a more professional setting.
The dialogue that day certainly was indication of questions and concerns some older abhyasis (not an age reference, but a duration-of-practice reference) have been chewing on. In fact, and I brought this up in the chat that day, when the term Heartfulness was first brought to my attention and a website shared with me, I went and the very first thing to catch my eye was that the masters weren’t mentioned anywhere. My very first question to my preceptor was, “Where did the masters go?” And my second question was, “Is this still Sahaj Marg? Since then, much discussion has centered around this change, this new phase of our evolution – and that was certainly the case a couple weeks ago when the one brother asked his questions.
During that meeting another brother, and one who, quite frankly, is an impressive individual – as a father and member of society and abhyasi – raised his concern that things might be getting too far from center with this new phase. Or, at least, that’s how I interpreted his seeming rebuttal because he brought up that so much has changed – seemingly now so little emphasis on Master, Method, etc… as there had been for prior decades. He also mentioned that yoga (hatha yoga, asana) made its way to the West and was almost instantly “cheapened” because westerners are missing most of the benefit of this practice. (For anyone unaware, here in the USA people practice hatha yoga primarily for the health benefits – and are almost entirely complete and utterly unaware of things directly related to yogasana like mantra and pranayama, and which are not really meant to be excluded from the practice of hatha yoga.) He’s not wrong. And even as a westerner, I’m a little saddened that so many people only seem to care about whether their trikonasana looks good and not the REAL benefit brought to the practitioner.
But these things shouldn’t be a source of worry for us. I know that Sahaj Marg and especially Heartfulness shies away from the label of “Hindu” where religion / spirituality is concerned – but I kind of don’t care. I still consider myself to be a practicing Hindu and so many other aspects of this practice are either definitely Hindu or clearly have Hindu origins / foundations. So whatever. When I came to Hinduism one thing that really impressed me and offers an incredible amount of freedom is that the One is called by many names. We say, “Ekam sat – vipraha bahuda vadanti.” Something important to this is understanding that the “various” names we can now use to reference Truth didn’t arise simultaneously. One understanding was gained and then another, sequentially, as humanity changed and evolved. And yet now, as Hindus, we know that we can call Truth in the Christian way or the Hindu way or the Aboriginal way and nothing about Truth really changes. Ever.
In our conversation that day, after the one brother asked his questions and the other brother voiced his concerns, the input I offered included (among other talking points) an analogy which is one I’ve used before to explain to outsiders Hinduism’s view of God – a woman and her cosmetic makeup: It’s possible that a woman would wear one style of lipstick / eye shadow / etc… to work, but wear a different appearance in makeup to church, and yet a different appearance an evening dinner party. And yet the woman underneath that makeup is the same, truly unchanged regardless of the appearance fitting for the circumstances. This is Heartfulness – nothing, really, is changing. Truth doesn’t change! The most recent steps in our collective evolution as a spiritual community have meant that we are more open and accessible than ever before – and growing like never before! Transmission is stronger and more constant, the age requirement has been lowered, and sittings can be conducted remotely… just to name a few. For crying out loud – we have an app! We’re beginning to call Truth by yet another name. Truth is wearing new lipstick and eye shadow, and yet what’s beneath isn’t going anywhere.
And that’s one thing I found comforting about the MBG article – it mentions the Truth we abhyasis are familiar with and upon which we have built our practice. The piece on MBG mentions new and old terms: Daaji is called the “global guide” instead of Master, “super-inclusive” is a descriptor I’ve not often heard of our practice but is absolutely true, “rooted in Raja Yoga,” the practice is offered for free,” there are five steps detailed in the article which will be familiar to all practicing abhyasis and relate to beginning and maintaining the practice as well as our Ten Maxims, and just prior to mentioning the upcoming conferences in the USA is mention that our setting is “inspirational and high-vibe” which to me is a direct correlation to our method of yogic transmission and how potent it can be in satsangh.
Near the end of the one meeting in which the brother asked his questions, I had the chance to chat with him off to the side. His understanding was actually far deeper than his questions let on. He understands, and was able to articulate to me, that he sees clearly our guruji in all the changes and also that he can see by looking back that every time Sahaj Marg began to solidify too much – that is, to become gross and more dense, heavier – the masters would switch things up. It’s been a controlled, guided, and measured process all along and nothing even close to losing touch with our foundation or becoming cheap like Americans interested in only the physical part of hatha yoga.
It’s certainly important to be vigilant and maintain a watchful eye on wayward directions things sometimes go in, but just as important is not to mistake the woman for the makeup she wears.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti
Each lineage of wisdom has a succession of those individuals who are tasked with passing the wisdom. These same people are also responsible for the evolution of the path. Sometimes this means taking things in a new direction and sometimes this means buckling down and securing the wisdom against changes. When I was a teen I went to a church that, in one particular hallway has portraits hanging of each of the church’s pastors, in order of succession, going back to the founding and building. In Hinduism and other eastern traditions, this traceable line of gurus might lead backwards in time to a major historical figure or perhaps even a mythological figure. To go back to the example of the church from my youth, it would be like the hall of pastors having portraits of each pastor, in successive order, going back to (and including) figures like Martin Luther and Jesus of Nazareth.
In the lineage of my path, we focus on the modern-most four gurus. We do trace back to sage Patanjali (from around 400 C.E.), but our most recent four gurus only date as far back as the century before last. Starting with the earliest of these four one encounters Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur. He was known as Lalaji. I’m not sure I know why he was called Lalaji. After him came Shri Ram Chandra of Fateghar, who was known as Babuji. I think, and I might be wrong, he was called Babuji because of the name of his professional employment (Babu means something like “Clerk” in his mother language). After Babuji, there came Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari. We called him Chariji, and I think it seems obvious that this affectionate name came from the tail end of his last name. Chariji dropped his body in December of 2014 and his successor, which was announced a good while before Chariji’s passing, is Kamlesh D. Patel.
Kamlesh, almost from the very beginning of his time as our spiritual leader, discouraged us from calling him “Master” as the ones before him were often called. (To be very clear: This usage of the word master is in reference not to dominion over devotees, but rather to dominion over his own self.) Practically immediately, Kamlesh simultaneously discouraged us from calling him Master while still giving space for abhyasis whose minds needed that, to do that. For a period of time, up until quite recently, there seemed to be a middle ground reached in regard to how he was called by us. Normally, one would hear Kamleshji or Kamlesh-bhai … either understood as expressions of affection as well as respect, and still recognizing that he came from where we currently stand. The feeling of these is one of kinship or relation and although the one does end in the same -ji as the earlier gurus (Lalaji, Babuji, Chariji), Kamleshji or Kamlesh-bhai both feel more cumbersome than the names we used with the earlier gurus.
Very recently, however, it would appear as though a new choice is on the table for Kamlesh-bhai. That new appellation is Daaji. To be quite honest, I’m not sure when this came about – though I did learn tonight at meditation that it’s a name he’s used for quite a while already and which children apparently started. I receive lots of emails from a number of Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness sources and I don’t recall reading anything official about a name change – maybe I missed it somewhere in the mix.
Immediately, given what experience I have with Indian languages, I thought it sounded like an affectionate form of calling someone “grandfather.” In researching this a little, I found that in Gujurati, Hindi, and Punjabi the word for grandfather is “daadaa.” (pronounced daah-daah) Kamlesh was born in Gujurat, India – so it could make sense that “daaji” is a combination of daadaa and the suffix -ji, which we use to express deep respect. However, tonight at meditation I also learned that daaji is a term of respect and endearment for the younger brother of one’s father. In a way this feels like a nod to Chariji.
I think Daaji is a wonderful next step in how we’re calling our guruji. It flows easily within the mouth. It’s simple, like nature (See our Maxims). And it seems more in line with names used by the earlier gurus. And so we have it – Daaji. You can learn more from him by clicking here.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti
It’s been said so many times that the best way to learn is to teach. I experienced this first-hand as a teen when I was “preaching” to Sunday school kids and had to prepare lessons for that and also a little while after that when I was in high school and taught German. You have to be prepared for what you want to communicate in the teaching as well as any potential exceptions to the lesson and any questions you might encounter from students.
In my own life, I’ve been a teacher to many – both in the sense that I mentioned before wherein I was physically standing before a type of audience for the purpose of imparting knowledge and also as a kind of “life teacher.” Grown-ups, young people, friends, family, and strangers alike have come to be for advice. This isn’t bragging, it’s just a fact. People have said to me that they perceive me to be someone who “has it together” and it creates a sense of trust. I’m flattered and honored to help anyone in any way I’m able and if all they need is advice then my work has been made easy. But this comes with a responsibility and one that I think I’ve failed at miserably.
I’ll back up a bit and share some of a story that was told to me a few weeks ago during a dinner with a prefect. We’d met for dinner for what I thought was strictly business – some questions and loose ends that she and I needed to review and try to nail down. As I should have expected, our conversation steered itself wherever it would and we talked about lots more than anticipated, some of which might be shared here later down the road. At one point she shared with me a couple experiences of hers from time when she was in the presence of our last guru, Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (Chariji). I’m probably remembering the exact details wrong, but in one of the stories, a meal was being shared with those present including herself, Chariji, and a number of other prefects from different nations. The story meandered a bit but over the course of the dinner, as I understood, the different nations as they were represented at the table were focusing quite intensely on each other’s flaws or weaknesses… or at least this was part of the conversation… and I think it even started with talk about Americans.
Chariji was an active part of the discussion and, as any true teacher would be, played the role of a mirror to those engaged. As those present were being taught a very tough lesson about judging and finger-pointing (and who knows what else) the prefect telling me the story said that her own experience of the moment was of the energy being quite intense and heavy feeling. With that intensity, she began to feel herself wilt – like some kind of flower in the noon hour heat of Indiana’s very humid summer. Being an advanced soul himself, Chariji was able to sense this response in her. As he was sitting right next to her, he turned to her and gently said, “I’m sorry.”
There was another story she told me also involving being in his presence and him, at one point, saying to her, “I’m sorry.” This made me cry right then. I made an attempt to bring our dinner to a quick close, but she (seeing my upset) wouldn’t have it and insisted I sit back down and talk to her. She hadn’t even realized what a deep message she’d given me. This kind of wisdom is truly dark and wondrous and I wasn’t expecting it. Our guru’s awareness was so keen that he was able to sense her subtle response to the exchange taking place. That’s a sensitivity that I think I have yet to hone – which, to me, feel dangerous.
I wept at our dinner because instantly, as if Chariji were there to transmit the lesson himself, I was very aware of lessons I’ve given to others which were probably very tough to swallow. Lots of medicines are tough to choke down and that doesn’t in any way mean they aren’t the right medicine or that they aren’t what’s needed to cure the ailment in question. All of that, more than anything else, really speaks to the point in personal evolution the student is in at the time. But there’s a certain absence of compassion or … something … when a teacher knows the lesson is tough (as I have known some of my lessons are tough) and keeps pushing the student. Thinking about all the times my lessons have been tough for the students to internalize and realize and how I’ve continued to push … just about makes me sick to my stomach. It feels so irresponsible.
Recently, in Minnesota, I was telling a friend and his wife about this. Stupidly, I got kind of choked up while telling it – I really just can’t even believe myself sometimes. They were so understanding. My husband was in the car then, too, and I could see it in his eyes. Probably because he’s been a student a few times, himself. Even he could see the value in a teacher who says, “I’m sorry.” My friend and his wife seemed very understanding. They were quick to try to soothe my feelings. They reminded me that it’s okay. That my manner of giving wisdom is just my own and there’s nothing wrong with it. I think boot camp was mentioned, which makes me smile a little even now – I will definitely put someone through boot camp. They reassured me that even teachers are growing and evolving.
This is challenging for someone like me to accept – not because of the idea that I have more growing and learning to do, but because of the realization that my actions could be perceived as careless. Worse yet is that I’m not certain how to move beyond that. I only know to trust my evolution.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti
I pull inspiration from many sources. These various sources are a big part of how I became who I am and also who I am becoming. On Guru Purnima each year, I make an attempt to celebrate and honor all the teachers I’ve benefited from – the list usually includes my parents, traditional gurus (some with bajillions of followers), and even drag queens (drag nuns, to be precise). Beyond the main or big teachers in my life, there are those certainly are teachers but perhaps on a lesser scale. This group also includes drag nuns, as well as family and friends, etc… Someone who falls in this second category is a blogger who is known as Maria Wirth.
She’s a German woman living in India and she’s about the only other blogger I know and read who writes posts as long as some of mine are. This is a good thing, and a bad thing. When you’re as long-winded as we are you can be sure that the only people actually reading what you publish are those who value your words and really want to read them. It seems like everyone else just gives up and stays away. I have found Maria to be very balanced and experienced and patient in life. Her perspective and mine often mirror each other (at least insofar as what she has written) and I can relate to many of her opinions.
Something she wrote about not long ago was political correctness in speech. The post, which I encourage you to read for yourself, can be accessed by clicking here. It starts with her recounting a conversation she was a part of in which she said something that kind of made others raise their eyebrows. (Mind you, she knows what she’s talking about in the post – I can verify that.) Shortly after her words, a friend, someone else who was also in the conversation, told Maria that she agreed with Maria’s words but was too scared to say them. Why was she scared? Because it was politically incorrect to say what Maria did. (Side Note: There are many bigoted people around who spout their nonsense and then when they catch hell for it claim that they are victims of nothing more than saying something unpopular. That’s not the case here – although it is something Maria addresses, which is why you should spend the time reading the post I linked you to!)
I related instantly. In my own life, it’s usually only I who says the things I say – and certainly only I who says them in the way I do. I think my life’s equivalent of the what the friend said to Maria is that people here say I can get away with what I say and how I say it because I’m me…. like there’s something fancy about my Joshua-ness. I’ll be among the first to admit that my Joshua-ness is unique. It should be, in the same way that your you-ness should be unique. Plus, I’ve worked really REALLY hard in my life thus far not just to evolve into who I am but to continue that evolution as necessary and even more importantly to be comfortable and secure in that process as well as the results.
But so what? Me being me doesn’t afford me any additional sparkle over anyone else in regard to speaking honest and sometimes blunt truth. The same goes for Maria and, like Maria, I’d not say something for the sake of expressing judgement. Most of the time calling a spade a spade carries no inherent judgement. We’re so used to assuming there’s something about being a spade that is bad that when a spade is called a spade we interpret that – quite wrongly! – as judgement or to be offensive. This is ridiculous because it only highlights the judgement in our own heart – and then we ignorantly mistake it to be judgement coming in the words of the person calling the spade a spade. So ridiculous. We really are sometimes asleep behind the wheel.
It’s worth looking inward to discover and assess why we open our mouths in the ways we do – and more importantly, why we don’t.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti