After meeting with a local Preceptor, I decided to have the three initiatory sittings. To do this; I was invited to the Preceptor’s home. After entering we chatted just briefly about general things and then briefly about the practice and what to do and how the sitting might go.
We then faced each other (heart-to-heart, remember?) and the sitting began. It lasted less than an hour, around thirty minutes I think. Afterwards, we discussed a little about my experience during the sitting. This happened for the following two days, as these three are best meant to be consecutive. The experience, internally, is something I’m not willing to share with everyone. Please trust, though, that the sitting consisted of more than simply facing each other with our eyes closed. Experiences like these are the stuff of abhyasi journals within the Sahaj Marg. In the last post I mentioned that some of the online searching I’d done turned up records of incidents where journals were read by someone other than the writer. I actually find this hard to believe. In my experience, detailed sharing of things experienced during sittings or meditations is discouraged. The reason is that we’re all entering the practice from different karmic places. As such, each of us start at different places along “the way,” and will have different experiences during our journey. My progress or someone else’s, or anyone’s lack thereof, is no one’s business because it could create negative feelings through egoic comparisons made either by myself or by someone else.
For the first three sittings, I think what I experienced was a kind of samskaric scrubbing. It’s my understanding that these initial sittings are meant for precisely that, the idea being that once a number of impressions have been removed, meditation becomes easier and more productive for the abhyasi to do on his own. Out of respect for Sahaj Marg and because the experience I had is my very own, I’ll refrain from sharing the exact details of these sittings. They are, of course, in my abhyasi journal.
Beyond these three sittings, the vast majority of an abhyasi’s walk on the Sahaj Marg is solitary. Locally speaking, satsanghs are held every Sunday morning at 7:30am and every Wednesday evening 7:00pm. The attendance at these varies, with the morning satsangh usually the better attended. Occasionally we’d have an extended satsangh, which would start with meditation, followed by study, and concluded with more meditation.
In my own experience, something I really struggled to accept was the efficacy of the cleaning practice. I feel like this comes kind of out of nowhere and seems rather concocted. So much of the rest of Sahaj Marg has roots going back to Patanjali or Raja Yoga. As far as I’m aware there’s nothing from earlier Vedic culture or religion indicating one can simply pretend to release or be rid of samskaras and actually have them vaporize. If the day’s samskaras, which are what’s affected the most by the cleaning effort and are the reason this is prescribed to be done when the day’s work is done, can “evaporate” simply by thinking about it, then how in the world re they supposedly so “sticky” anyway?
Something else that I found odd is that abhyasis are discouraged from meditating longer than one hour at a time. You, apparently, can stop for five or ten minutes and then get right back to it, but more than sixty minutes in one meditation setting is discouraged. I imagine this is to help make sure meditation is actually productive as opposed to possibly wasting time if it’s just not working, but still.
It’s recommended that a new initiate dedicate at least six months to the practice before making any actual decision as to whether this path is for them or not. I faithfully dedicated a very full five months to this effort, doing everything nearly exactly as prescribed. Around the end of the five months I went on my anniversary vacation. Between that and school, I missed about a month of satsanghs and two sittings with a Preceptor. What happened as a result is, to me, testament that this is no cult.
You see, nothing happened, at all. Cults (insecurely) care about people “dropping off” from their membership. They practically hunt folks down who try to leave. But no one reached out to me. No calls or emails saying I’d been missed. In fact, I’d emailed my Preceptors a number of times and still haven’t heard anything. I suspect that I could still arrive at a satsangh and would be welcome just the same, but I don’t think I will return.
I enjoy the literature of Sahaj Marg and its Masters. Virtually every word of it makes perfect sense and, although the practice is founded in Raja Yoga, for a “jnani” like me, it’s a very comfy fit. Excluding the whole practice of cleaning, I find the Sahaj Marg to be filled with reason and much guidance on how to live a good life, eliminate karmas, and progress spiritually. Most of the people I met at the different satsanghs were friendly and pleasant and sincere. At times, my Preceptors were people I felt very connected to and very fortunate to know. Beyond these things though, I don’t feel there was any real connection or commitment. I don’t need to be needed, per se, but I kind of want to be needed-at least a little. A number of things I’ve read lately by others have centered on joining a parampara or guru-lineage. In my estimation, the only real benefit of this is the sense of community and of belonging that one gains in that context. That benefit alone, though, can really help carry someone.
So… I suppose I can say I had a good experience with the Sahaj Marg, but there remains nothing to tie me to it, which is what I think I really sought. For the last decade my spiritual walk has been mostly solitary. I don’t need something else added to the menu to progress. If anything, I need others reading from the same menu.