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