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.”
It’s been a minute since I was last here on Sthapati and I have plenty to catch up on. Something that comes to mind, that I think I’ve been meaning to write about is religious noise.
A long time ago I saw a quote of Mata Amrtanandamayi Ma (Amma, the Hugging Saint) wherein she was to have said something along the lines of, “Those who are busy crying out to the Lord, are likely never to hear Him.” Those aren’t her words, but are some kind of approximation. The exact wording escapes me but the lesson she was communicating touches on something that is central and foundational to Hindu spirituality.
I was reading recently on a blog called the Vaishnava Voice and in a post there the author kind of touched on this in a round-about way. Kind of.
Most people who are familiar with Hindu philosophy or religion or spirituality are also likely familiar with the concept of bhakti. And I think it’s fairly safe to say that the image of bhakti that often comes to peoples’ minds is along the lines of the Hare Krishna movement. They’re well-recognized for their public kirtan events. A number of other instances of the expression of bhakti have involved components of religion that many in the western world recognize as very charismatic. In order to best express our devotion to The One we should dance, and holler, and bang or mrdangas. Right?
Too, many Christian circles are fond of this approach. Some seem very closely related to the Kraishnavs – they enjoy their guitars and drum sets in church and getting people to whoop and holler and roll around on the floor speaking in angelic tongues is a sure sign that you and they are surely saved. And in other Christian circles, like the Westboro Baptist Church, being vocal and very loud about the ills that plague modern humanity is the preferred expression of devotion to the Lord. As an aside, but not entirely, I’ve not known of any bhakti tradition (Hindu or otherwise) that wasn’t in some manner, to some degree, focused on one’s merit before the Lord Almighty. Everyone wants brownie points with the Most High.
I think, though, that something is perhaps “wrong” here. I use that word very hesitantly because as a Hindu I believe everyone has a place at the table, I sincerely do, but I’m not sure what better English word fits there. If you pay attention to virtually every Hindu approach to spirituality, you’ll see that the real direction bhakti is intended to be pointed toward is INWARD.
I’ve been surprised, as I dive deeper and deeper into Sahaj Marg literature and practice, to learn how very pro- bhakti it really is. To be clear, our path is more appropriately categorized as something “Raja” or “Jnana,” but still. Our last guru was a Vaishnav and our practice is an anahata chakra-centered blend of Sufism and Hinduism. It’s probably fair to say that until really dedicating myself to the Sahaj Marg, I made efforts to steer myself away from much of bhaktidom. While respecting and allowing space for paths like the Hare Krishnas, I certainly had no inclination to be even remotely associated with them. And I even kept a healthy distance from most Vaishnav-related things because of how many parallels there are between that chunk of Hinduism and Christianity as a whole.
I dare to say, though, that true bhakti makes your heart and soul dance – not your body, that’s like playing in the shallow end of a pool. And in my experience, when truly intense and electrifying devotion arises within oneself, the result has been stillness, peace, wisdom, and even some transcendental happenings that have very little to do with the outer world except for losing awareness of it.
I think whether one is an Islamic jihadist, a Kraishnav, or a conservative Christian (all of which are far more alike than not), you might be missing the real benefit and purpose of your path if “making a joyful noise” (or whatever your own version of that is) takes center stage. How can one benefit from the “still small Voice” (biblical reference) within if you’re too busy crying out to the Lord to hear It?
Sometime around the 27th of December, I came across this piece online about “How Movies Embraced Hinduism: Without You Even Noticing.”
I read it, and recall being a little disappointed in the actual content – I think, based on the headline / title, I expected there might be a little more substance to it, but whatever. In my opinion, pieces like this are good for getting people interested in Hinduism, or – for those already interested but perhaps not sure where to start – for giving a snipit of some of Hinduism’s foundational and shared beliefs. I recall first learning about Hinduism and almost immediately finding parallels between learning about Hinduism and how I learned the German language.
You see, I studied German formally for a number of years, and quite soon tested out every level offered by my school. After demonstrating my proficiency and speaking to the board, I even taught it for a little over two years – allowing me to watch my peers catch up.
I started by taking the “first year” German class. It wasn’t terribly challenging, but I think most year one classes aren’t meant to be. Then, that following summer between school years, I spent the whole school break out by my family’s pool soaking in the sun’s rays and reading a German-English dictionary. Yes, I read the dictionary. It had been a gift to me from a woman who worked for my mother at the time. She’d married a soldier (now deceased) she met while he was stationed in Germany decades earlier, and the dictionary she gave me was a “German” German-English dictionary – this meant that even the English side of the dictionary was in German. That’s fine and dandy until you find yourself looking up 17 words in order to learn the one you originally set out to learn.
But it was actually real fun for me, as I’ve always loved language. I drank up everything that Woerterbuch could offer as quickly as I soaked up the many goldening rays of the sun. That much explains why I returned to school knowing vocabulary that was light years ahead of myclassmates, but something I’m still unable to explain is the grammar. I started second year also knowing, almost fully, German grammar. It must have been something I picked up unknowingly while making a deliberate effort to add words to my vocab list. Half way through that year I tested out of everything, as I have mentioned and the rest is history.
But that story parallels my own process and experience of learning about Hinduism. I often set out to learn one thing or another and in the process of fully learning about and understanding that one thing, I almost HAVE to learn about the 500 things that are in some way related to it. It can make learning a bit slower, but the thoroughness and depth cannot be matched.
And so, despite being somewhat disappointed in the article from The Guardian that I linked to earlier in this post, I also find value in it. It doesn’t actually explain much, in my opinion. But it explains much more than the vast majority of movie watchers would otherwise ever be aware of and might somehow spark an interest they didn’t know they even had.
(This post was created on 20141220 – but I am only just now getting the chance to publish it.)
Today has meant an unexpected flurry of emails and communication among the Sahaj Marg community – our beloved and revered master has left his body. My math is probably a little off, but the passing happened around 11:15 this morning (local time).
For anyone who’s been around long enough, our guru-ji’s health struggles were no secret. He was up in his years and his health had been somewhat of a roller coaster – periods of illness and infection followed by good health and recovery. This is natural for all humans as they age and it seems to me that the biggest threat to an old human’s physical existence can be the smallest and most mundane occurrence that most of us who are younger take for granted.
My own grandfather was weakened by very concerning health issues, but what had at once threatened his life in a very real way was something that I could easily catch and overcome in a week or less and hardly miss a beat. My guru, Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (Chariji Maharaj) was very much in line with Nature’s way where this was concerned – and very fitting, too, because one of our Maxims calls us to be in harmony with Nature and to be simple as Nature is simple. I think (and perhaps I’m mistaken) that it had been some years since his health was enough of a threat that we thought he might leave.
This year, however, was very clearly a time of battle for his health. For any abhyasis who subscribe to the Sahaj Sandesh e-newsletter, we were updated as often as was necessary to keep us informed and in a prayerful / meditative condition regarding our master. Just yesterday, a Sandesh was released with a statement from Dr. Sharma indicating that our guru had been very ill for the last two weeks – first with respiratory infection and then / also a urinary infection. His condition was called “worrying and similar to what it was in 2012.”
The hint that things were actually quite serious, and that master may not survive, came in statements from the same Sandesh telling us that the doctors are doing everything possible to help him through it physically, but that there is a spiritual aspect that cannot be treated with medications.
Fortunately, preparations for this day were started long ago and Chariji’s successor has already been appointed. As I understand it, Brother Kamlesh Patel will be the new master of Sahaj Marg. Hopefully, this will alleviate, if not eliminate, any discord our guru’s passing may stir among abhyasis – as happened when the last master left his body.
While I have at times felt particularly drawn to Sahaj Marg’s earlier masters, Chariji is the only one I’ve ever known. In regard to the Marg’s literature, Chariji is, by far, the most prolific author of all the masters and as a result he is the one I’ve learned the most from and in the most direct way.
I’m including a video of Chariji here, which I’ve posted here to Sthapati before. The video is of him talking about our practice of spiritual transmission (which in some ways links our practice to Sufism). For those of us who are more familiar with master, so much more is evident even in this video than just the words that are being said.
I suspect that we’ll hear from Chariji from the Brighter World. Soon enough, his whispers may be coming to us to offer continued guidance in addition to the leadership brought by Kamlesh-ji.
Tonight, and everywhere across the globe, abhyasis and prefects are holding a sitting. Our ashrams everywhere are opening for this purpose and those who are not near an ashram or are not able to go to one are encouraged to sit from their homes or wherever they are.
I’ll share a quote here from my grand-master, Babuji Maharaj in a book titled “Spiritual Training.” I feel, when things like this happen, it’s important to keep one’s compass pointed in the right direction. This quote was emailed out right before Chariji’s passing. I find it encouraging and speaks a bit on the essence of the Sahaj Marg practice. — “God is simple and can be achieved by equally simple means. The hard and fast rules of life and tiring practices prescribed by teachers for realisation have really made matters so complicated that people are led to believe it to be beyond their power and capacity. I may assure you very sincerely that realisation is not at all a difficult thing, only if you earnestly divert your attention to it. Iron will to achieve the goal, together with proper means and guidance, is the only thing required for the complete success.”
On a quite personal note this is a very challenging time for me. The 2014 year has been just about the worst year in memory (although it’s also held some of the very best moments!) and with everything else on my plate, including the recent loss of my birth mother, I really could have done without the passing of Chariji. To say he will be missed is such an understatement it’s practically inappropriate.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Additional notes to be added since the above was written:
Last night I found myself able to attend the global satsangh that was held shortly after master’s passing. Local abhyasis gathered at our prefects’ home and a sitting was given. The crowd was smallish but the sitting was incredible, no less. At least three distinct times I felt waves of master’s divine transmission wash over me. The first two nearly knocked me out of my asana. When the sitting was over, we were allowed a few moments to bask in the transmission and I unexpectedly found myself smiling. Unknowingly, I had secured a seat about 10 feet diagonally across a nice framed photo of my recently deceased master, himself in his meditation asana. On a table behind where this photo had been placed, was another table with framed photos on it and on that table was a photo of master that I think I’d purchased online and framed and donated to whomever would want it. The photo looked a little familiar, but the frame itself was very familiar. As my prefects’ home serves as the closest ashram to me, it warmed my heart to see something (I think) I had contributed to the local community. After the sitting was over, the prefect who had given the sitting read from a book called “Devotion” a number of snip-its. As someone who had been in master’s presence many times in the past decades, it was clear to see how his death had affected her. I did my best to hug her with my heart from where I sat. This year, as well as many of the recent years, has left me quite familiar with death and what it means. Strangely, I am nearly completely comfortable with it, but one thing that stings me each time I have a brush with death is the pain I see on the faces of others – that pain is the sad part of death for me and it was very clear that my prefect’s heart was hurting a bit as she read to us and then shared a story about the last time she was in master’s presence.
An extended satsangh was held this morning but I didn’t attend. I wanted to because I knew there would be discussed things that might answer some of the questions I have now, and it was mentioned that a few videos would be shared – which I really wanted to view. But I couldn’t bring myself. Instead, and this has been mostly true since learning of master’s passing, I sat alone in meditation. The heart knows what it wants, and that’s what my heart has sought increasingly as this year winds down to a close.
An email was issued this morning saying that Chariji would be cremated tomorrow in the morning.
Lastly, I mentioned in the main portion of this post that I imagined Chariji would be speaking to us from the Brighter World – and he has spared no time! This morning a message was received. I’m not sure it would be appropriate to share the whisper here, but I can say that it was a welcome greeting this morning!
As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I practice a form of Raja Yoga that has been systematized for the modern grhasta into what is now called Sahaj Marg. My first six months with it kind of led me to put it aside, actually, and view it as a valid-but-not-for-me path. About a year after that (I think), there was a change of heart and after assessing a few things in my life, the Marg felt like a better fit than it previously had. Since that time, I’ve practiced as faithfully and diligently as I have been able while living the householder life (S.M. is actually quite suitable for those living as householders) and I attend satsangh as often as I am able. From time to time, in waves it seems, I’ll write here about concepts or beliefs pertaining to this path. On that note, and leading into the rest of this post, I want to make very clear that Sthapati is not a “Sahaj Marg blog” and never will be. It’s a Joshua/Dhrishti blog and will be.
Still, web searches on the matter will turn up this blog and a number of other online resources for Sahaj Marg, both official and unofficial, legit and bogus. I wonder if it’s because of this that an issue of Sahaj Sandesh was written as it was. The Sahaj Sandesh is an email newletter of sorts that kind of is usually pretty specific – it might mention points of interest regarding upcoming events, or provide a status update on the health of our guru. Those kinds of things. Recently, the Sahaj Sandesh came as a warning, and considering the amount of writing I’ve done about Sahaj Marg here on Sthapati it hits rather close to home. Immediately below, I’ll post the October 5th Sahaj Sandesh and maybe you’ll understand why.
“Dear sisters and brothers,
“We see ever-increasing instances of people spreading ‘news’ from Manapakkam through social media like Facebook and messaging platforms like SMS, Whatsapp, etc, which is factually incorrect and even misleading. While the intentions of the concerned abhyasis may not be bad or harmful, this leads to widespread dissemination of wrong and at times undesirable information. Please note that any ‘news’ or information for abhyasis will only be done through the official Mission channels like Sahaj Sandesh, or through functionaries of the Mission.
“Abhyasis are also reminded that whenever they use these platforms for sharing unsolicited audio, video or photographic material, they are violating the Mission’s copyright laws and are advised to refrain from doing so. Please be assured that for the willing heart, there is sufficient material to read, hear, view and digest already available in the Mission without having to resort to such content for spiritual motivation.
“With sincere prayers,
Kamlesh D. Patel”
This kind of rubs me in two ways. The first, and probably the most obvious, is that it looks a lot like abhyasis like myself are advised against doing what I have done (and am doing right now). “Don’t share our information” is what this issue of the Sahaj Sandesh boils down to. I’ve never shared anything that is “factually incorrect” and have cited the source for every Sahaj Marg quote or video or anything that I’ve shared here. So, in my case if something I shared was “factually incorrect,” then it was incorrect when I received it from the works of the Sahaj Marg Masters. And since I’ve not really done any slandering, per se, of this material, I would also find it difficult to believe that anything shared here on Sthapati would be “undesirable” as indicated in the Sandesh. Maybe I’m too focused on myself and Sthapati in this context with the egoic part of my mind wrongly thinking this is somehow referring to me (like I’m THAT important), and maybe there are other things, of which I’m not currently aware, that this Sandesh is actually referring to. At this point, with my very limited knowledge, I’m going to remind myself that nothing I’ve shared here, to the very best of my ability, has been “factually incorrect” or paints the Marg in any “undesirable” light. So for Sthapati, things will likely remain business as usual.
The second way this rubs me is more positive. All copyright threats aside, I find it really reassuring that there was emphatic mention that those who seek will find. You don’t have to go shoving anything in anyone’s face because if they want it and if it’s meant for them to see, then it will find its way to their face anyway. Personally, I don’t feel like Sthapati has shoved anything in anyone’s face in any remotely unsolicited manner. As with anyone who finds official and legit Sahaj Marg websites, Sthapati and its “Sahaj Marg” posts will only turn up if someone 1) goes looking for them or 2) is a subscriber to Sthapati which carries the implication that the subscriber already has interest in whatever content might appear on the blog.
Still, one of the most appealing aspects of my experience with Hinduism is that it doesn’t seek converts. Certain Hindu paths are definitely more prone to “advertising” than are others, but I think I would say that even most of those paths still allow space for potential converts or devotees to say no and leave. With that in mind, this Sandesh reminds me of a response I once received from a past temple president here locally when the Indian mother of my “bahin” in Atlanta called to my temple here in Indiana and asked about a conversion puja (or something, idk exactly how she worded it). The response she received from the then president was along the lines of “absolutely not.” He stated that the temple had no interest in doing anything that even remotely looked like it was seeking converts. Of course, her own local temple was more than happy to perform an equivalent puja for me, if only I made the trip.
So there you have it. Honestly, I’m not sure what this means for future posts on Sthapati. I will continue to share insight gained as I walk my path, and with credit being given where it is due, I’m likely to cite any current or past Sahaj Marg Masters – that’s the point of Sthapati, which is spelled out on the “Samyag Akhyate” page. Although, out of respect for Brother (and next guru) Kamlesh’s request, perhaps I’ll be less direct with this kind of material? I don’t know. Thoughts and suggestions are welcome!
I’m sure by now readers have started assuming that this will be a blog focusing on Sahaj Marg and it’s writings. While I can certainly see why some would begin to think that, it’s not entirely true. In all fairness, I’m taking so very much away from the Sahaj Marg that it makes sense for me to kind of document it and this is where I would do that naturally. I hope you don’t mind, but in all fairness I don’t really care whether you do. 🙂
So, this book I’ve been digging through recently called “Love and Death” has proven to be a gem to me. Obviously, I’ve quoted it extensively here. Today I was working through a few more pages in it during my lunch and came across something else I thought to share.
Chariji is speaking and mentions how we reference people according to what’s in their heart. We say one person is kind-hearted. Another might be cold-hearted. Someone else could be described as hard-hearted, warm-hearted, or soft-hearted. The list could probably go on and on of the various “hearts” people might be found to have.
Naturally, this isn’t in reference to the physical heart inside the rib cage of every human, but rather the heart / soul of the person. And in so many people, this real Heart is severely obscured by garbage. Some of this garbage might be considered natural and may well be mandatory for those experiencing a physical existence. However, by far, most of it is unnecessary and even worse is unnecessarily perpetuated. Chariji likened this kind of “dirtiness” to a house the windows of which have been closed tightly for a very long time. The air within that house is stale. It begins to stink. The same happens within our souls. We start to die slowly – friendless, loveless, and godless. In fact, Chariji has said, “First we lose our friends, we lose our lovers, and God will not stay in a place which stinks.” To be clear, I don’t feel that his words are meant to be taken too literally here – God doesn’t leave a person because their heart has become stale.
As a prescription to prevent this, Chariji advises that we have to understand and know our Self. (A very familiar concept in Hinduism.) To get that understanding we’re to examine our heart. We do that by sitting in meditation. And what do we do in meditation? We focus our attention on the heart and then “see for yourself the enormously beautiful, wonderful mysteries that are there.”
Once we start to realize those mysteries, the world essentially become meaningless – but not in some dismal kind of way, rather in the way of the “karmaphala vairagya” detailed by Krishna in the Gita. As we become familiar with the contents of the human heart (the Self), we continue to live because we have to live, “like a tree lives.” Trees don’t find any charm in their existence – they simply exist because they are there and that’s reason enough. When we begin to live in that way we soon realize that we don’t exist for ourselves. Chariji says, “I exist like a tree which gives fruit to others, like a flower which scents its surroundings.” This is integral for anyone who claims to be a master and for spirituality in general – selfless, unattached, available for all to taste.
In the Sahaj Marg, the Master is like a tree offering its fruit to anyone who cares to pick it. This fruit comes from the Source, through the Master’s heart and has a supremely profound effect on the hearts of any who care to pick that fruit. Chariji says, “This is the call of spirituality, especially this brand which we are practicing called Sahaj Marg, the Natural Path. It is there. Please follow it, accept it, practice is, and see for yourself what it can do.”
Regardless of one’s path this is the call of all spirituality (not all religion, per se) – to get to the heart, one’s real Self and to know It.
Sometime late last year, December-ish, I found myself in a psychology class.
Before continuing, I’d like to assert that only “psychos” go into psychology. I know this is likely an unfair statement, and certainly an over-generalization. I should also admit that there are moments, sometimes daily, when I think my own sanity must be mere minutes from leaving me for good. Many very educated people I know claim that virtually every psych professional they’ve know is in some way or another… off. The suspicion is that people with psych problems tend to enter that industry as part of some deep-rooted desire to figure their own selves (problems) out, and of course, help others in the process. Projection, which is illegal, happens all too often.
Back to the psychology class. The faculty teaching this class is an incredible person. She has life experience I’m glad I don’t have. The result is that her perspective is… interesting. She clearly adores psychology and all it entails. She certainly enjoyed teaching the class. I could truly write a book about her, but that’s not the point of this post. She is, however, relevant to this post because she’s the reason I encountered the Natural Path-formally and officially known as Sahaj Marg. We were actually doing a few ice breakers at the start of the class, one of which was to discuss one of the meditative techniques we had researched and tried prior to the class’s start. To be level with us, she shared similarly about herself. The meditative practice she mentioned was Sahaj Marg. I went home that night and looked into it. After only a day or two of poking around online and taking notes on everything I read, I made an online request to be contacted by a local representative.
When someone shows interest, the contact to them is initiated by someone called a Preceptor.
The preceptor who contacted me was an intelligent and charming woman named Jan. However, Jan was then about to head out of town and so she put me in touch with her husband, a tall and handsome man, and also a Preceptor. He and I met at a Starbucks shortly thereafter. During that chat we discussed the Sahaj Marg in general, and also he did well answering most of my questions at that point. Below is the digest version of what I learned during my preliminary study and in meeting with that Preceptor.
Practitioners of Sahaj Marg are known as Abhyasis. Abhyas means concentration, and is actually an applicable title for followers of this path.
The practice itself is a branch of Raja Yoga and essentially encompasses/simplifies Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and the goals of the Yamas and Niyamas through a specialized and summarized meditation practice which is centered in the area of the heart chakra.
In addition to the practice of abhyas/meditation, the path employs the unique practice of “cleaning.” This is essentially a visualization practice during which the abhyasi perceives the day’s impression (samskaras) as leaving the body through the upper back/shoulder area in the form of smoke or vapor.
Each person interested in becoming an abhyasi must undergo a minimum of three consecutive initiatory “sittings” with a Preceptor, during which the Cleaning Process is initiated as well as the beginning of Pranahuti, also known as Transmission, in which a bond with the current Master is established. Pranahuti is kind of like shaktipat, but entirely more subtle.
All of this sounded interesting enough, and while I’m not racist in the least, I should admit that it was kind of nice to be introduced to something like this by a non-Indian. In all my other spiritual pursuits, like 96% of all of them, I’m the only non-Indian. It truly doesn’t bother me, but it does perpetually feel rather lonely. At the end of the Starbucks meeting, I told this Preceptor that I’d be in touch about scheduling my initiatory sittings. I did just that.
As it turns out, this husband-wife Preceptor pair hosts much of the group’s local activities in their home, which isn’t new, but is nice. Their main living area actually makes for a very nice “sanctuary” with its enormous windowed space and near-panoramic view of their backyard.
After the initiatory sittings, there’s a prescribed manner of practice each abhyasi is encouraged to maintain including morning meditation, “cleaning” when the day’s work is done, and evening prayer. Additionally, there are a number of writings by the Marg’s lineage of Masters available for the abhyasi to study. Probably the most known of these are the Ten Maxims…which are not like the Ten Commandments.
Once their foot is in the door, so to speak, abhyasis are encouraged to do sittings with a Preceptor something like twice monthly. This is in addition to the individual cleaning one should be doing on his own. The benefit of this is that, if the abhyasi is diligent with his own cleaning it makes for increased progress in cleaning when he sits for such with his Preceptor.
The heart-based meditation is actually quite sweet, although it can be challenging to get a good hold on. It’s like picturing something without actually picturing it. The verbiage I feel is often used in this context is supposition. One “supposes” the existence of this Light, without actually picturing it. Apparently, picturing it too concretely will lead to kind of idolizing an image of this Light and this will, in its own way, deter the potential progress of the abhyasi. It’s for this reason that, although this practice comes from a Hindu background, no murtis are employed or encouraged.
Another aspect of Sahaj Marg is their use of journaling. All abhyasis are encouraged to do some post-meditative journaling as a means of logging their meditation experiences or realizations.
So far, in its relatively short lifespan, the Sahaj Marg has experienced three Masters (known respectively as Lalaji, Babuji, and Chariji), and the fourth was recently designated. I feel like a Google search has turned up some interesting tidbits about the Sahaj Marg, including that it’s a cult, that Preceptors at times force abhyasis to share their journals, a sex scandal or two, and disagreements in regard to the succession of some of the past Masters, among others. I’ll speak more about these things in my next post, when I detail my actual experience with the path.
My apologies for this post being so long. I intended to lay out a foundational understanding of as much of Sahaj Marg practice as possible, so that in my next post I can speak as much as possible about my specific experience with the path and not have as much explaining to so.
"Ismailism pioneered the most daring metaphysical thought in Islam. Its voice, at once original and traditional, should be heard again today -- a task of which it seems that the young Ismā‘īlīs are aware." (Henry Corbin)