After You’re Gone


Some time ago, I ranted on Facebook about how offensive I found the Mormon practice of “baptizing the dead.” I feel very strongly that this practice violates some kind of cosmic rule of live and let live. When I ranted, a number of my own family members who became Mormon after my grandfather’s passing, spoke up and said that I was wrong about that ritual and that I shouldn’t speak out about things like this because it makes me some kind of hypocrite. To be clear, it’s my understanding that this kind of baptism merely presents the dearly departed with a chance to accept the Mormon belief structure and gain the Mormon afterlife. Also, the hypocrisy referenced by my disgruntled relatives is apparently in regard to my critical attitude about someone else’s views or practice which my family members – knowing next to nothing about Hinduism – think goes against Hinduism. In this case, they would perhaps not be wrong within certain contexts, but in this context specifically they are still not necessarily right, either.

This weekend I’m spending more time at the computer than is usual because it’s my turn in my department’s on-call rotation. As I was logging on recently, I saw some kind of news headline mentioning that two popes were gaining sainthood “to bridge a divide” or something. It struck me… These two dudes were resting in peace, burning in hellflame, or maybe tossing crowns at Jesus’ feet or something (do only Protestant souls do this or Catholics, too?) and now their own afterlives are about to change entirely when they are sainted and begin interceding on behalf of Catholic believers who want something.

All this afterlife meddling. WTF?

Whatever happened to simply offering food and a little homage to our deceased relatives and letting past lives be past lives? I’ll admit, it’s a little tough for me to understand how devout people can be cool with trying to change the afterlives of their loved ones without their permission. But who am I?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti


The Heart of Man

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

I’ve been writing a lot more lately about things to do with Sahaj Marg and my experiences therein. This post will be no different.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how “heart-centered” this marg is and what a balanced role bhakti plays within this marg’s practice / sadhana. A big part of our meditative practice focuses on region of the heart chakra, also known as the Anahata Chakra. This is interesting because the Sahaj Marg springs from the Raja Yoga / Patanjali way of spirituality and brings with it an emphasis on the mind, its workings, and control over it. For the Sahaj Marg, however, the heart is where all the action happens. We work on knowing our Self, controlling the waves within the mind, living simple lives, etc… but progress really happens in the human heart.

I have a day book of sorts – not exactly a calendar but each page of the book corresponds to a day in the calendar year. It reminds me of Christian devotionals that I used to read through during the course of a year, only mine now is Hindu. I had gotten behind sometime around the middle of January and as I was catching up last night I came to an entry that touched me in light of everything this year has brought as well as from the context of my walk with the Sahaj Marg.

The wisdom of one of the days in January is a quote from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and is as follows,”What is the soul? The soul is consciousness. It shines as the light within the heart.”

Adhering to a practice that sees God and our Self as the most subtle light within the heart – so subtle in fact that we don’t picture this Light so much as “suppose” it – this short quote obviously speaks to me. Indeed, it makes me smile.

Whatever your path, I hope it helps you to develop sufficiently so as to experience the inner Light which so subtle it can’t be seen, but only known.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Anahata Chakra, from Google Image search

Anahata Chakra, from Google Image search


Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

I’ve been noticing things in daily life that seem … coincidental, almost. Much like the concept of luck, I don’t think I actually believe something like coincidence exists. Actually, that’s probably not entirely true. I think most people understand the term to mean what equates as the first part of the terms’s definition, but kind of ignore the meaning of the last part.

Coincidence is defined as: a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.

In my experience, people often focus on that first part. But things don’t just happen. Ever. Things do, however, often happen without our knowledge of the cause. So, within the context of a strict application of its full definition, I guess I do believe in coincidence.

Recently, a lot of seemingly unrelated things have been coinciding. Things like a chat with coworkers, a magazine article, and a tree in my front yard suddenly all point to the same thing at around the same time. I don’t usually read much into those kinds of happenings, beyond noticing. But, for some reason – lately – going beyond noticing the coincidence seems to be my default. And that’s really saying something because I read meaning into EVERYTHING. It’s something that will pass, for sure, but I think I’ll try to pull these things together and make something of them – perhaps for bloggering. That remains unseen (to you).

Deeper within me, I more strongly believe or suspect that my Self is showing my self something so that a greater integration can be made. Indeed, if this isn’t the value of all karmas, then I don’t know what is.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Sahaj Marg, a la Dhrishti

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.

Om Shanti