A Child’s Toy

 

The thought of people generally does not go beyond the point of liberation, which they take to be the final limit of human approach. But that is a wrong idea. As a matter of fact, liberation is one of the lowest attainments on the divine path; hence it is just like a toy for a child to play with. Beyond that there is yet a lot to be achieved. The infinite ocean lies still ahead, which is but a limitless expanse. Have your eyes fixed upon That and That alone, and go on and on to trace It out.” – Ram Chnadra, The Complete Works, Vol I, page 334

Every path is unique, despite any parallels it might have between other paths.  Sahaj Marg (Heartfulness) is no different and I think the quote above illustrates that to a degree. Certainly, we are unique in other ways. But in most of Hinduism and Sufism the idea of liberation is where things stop. After all, what more could there be once you are free?

To back up a little, let’s discuss what this “liberation” is. Most of the time, in contexts like this one, liberation means liberation from samsara. Samsara is the wheel of death and rebirth. Some view this wheel as a kind of trap but it isn’t. It’s merely a result. When we don’t direct our reactions and responses in a responsible manner, then the resultant karmas (both good AND bad karmas) bind us further to this wheel. And so we go on experiencing death and rebirth, cycle after cycle, until our personal evolution is such that we are able to step off of that wheel like an exhausted hamster and then finally to know peace. This is what most people, in this context, consider liberation to be.  (Side Note: There are branches of believers who have the understanding that God will, through immeasurable and unwarranted grace and mercy, wipe away the factors (what we call samskaras & karmas) keeping a person from reaching heavenly liberation, thus bestowing liberation to the one who believes. This is a lie.)

Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness doesn’t dispute the aforementioned idea of liberation. What makes Sahaj Marg unique in this context is that, in our understanding, this liberation isn’t the actual end goal. A lot of what spiritual aspirants take to be significant spiritual progress and developments are understood within Sahaj Marg as simple sign posts. Indications of progress, sure, but nothing more – certainly nothing to be distracted by or focused on.

In a way, we treat these experiences and developments much like any thought that arises during meditation – notice it if you must, but keep moving. Liberation is no different. It’s like our guides and gurus are saying, “Okay so you stepped off the wheel of death and rebirth. Congrats – Now keep moving.” An interesting thing to note here and which might surprise most people is that this liberation – escape from endless cycles of death and rebirth – is seen as a very low attainment and like a child’s toy. Most people would immediately disagree. But it is certain that those people view their current reality through a different and probably lens. After all, to a kindergartner learning the alphabet is daunting and quite an achievement. The idea of getting to Junior High is hardly something they understand, never mind finishing that and moving on to High School or any form of education thereafter.

The lineage of Sahaj Marg guides have always stated that religion is like kindergarten. And they’ve always gently encouraged us to keep moving. From where they sit, they speak to us kindergartners and encourage us onward. “Beyond that there is a lot to be achieved.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

The Off Ramp

 

It’s not uncommon at all that I see the most mundane and seemingly random thing – then find myself reminded of something deeper and contemplating the mysteries of life. I know – super boring, right? It’s not actually. It’s fun for me, never knowing when I’ll learn something new and possibly profound. I never tire of seeing the All reflected in every thing. Something like that happened to me this morning on the drive to work. Kinda.

So… I take two interstates to work. Leaving for work just five minutes later or earlier can make ALL the difference in the commute. It can mean the difference between seeing an accident happen right before you and getting stuck in place for an hour while it’s cleaned up, or seeing an accident happen right behind you and wishing them the best as you leave them behind. Regardless of when I find myself leaving for work there are always those on the road that seem to have the understanding that their time means more than anyone else’s or that they are an inherently better driver than anyone else. #RoadRage Today I was nearly finished with my usual morning trek when I saw something happen that struck me as very indicative of today’s human person.

So, I’m nearing my exit. The exit lane is in place for a full mile or more before actually breaking from the interstate proper and that whole time it consists of TWO lanes. Right as the actual off ramps start, the two lanes part ways – one lane (my usual lane) heads south from the exit and the other heads north from the same. I don’t actually have road rage much these days but one thing that gets me close is this part of the commute: People have had well over a mile to get in the lane they need to get into but for any number of reasons seem only take that action at the last possible second. Maybe they don’t want to wait in the line that is forming in their needed lane. Maybe they’re on their phone and not paying attention. Maybe they’ve not had coffee yet and are asleep behind the wheel. Doesn’t matter – whatever – but it invariably (and I mean that) creates a situation of necessarily cutting someone off with far less room than is safe or else taking the wrong lane of the exit. This morning I saw this very thing happen – twice – with two vehicles doing it to each other!

There was a convertible ahead of me in my lane (left lane), and a semi in the other lane (right lane). At the last minute the semi realized he was in the wrong lane and made the unsafest mad dash to change lanes before he had to cross more median than he was already going to have to cross. This made the guy in the convertible super pissed – who at almost the same time decided he too was in the wrong lane and did basically the same thing to someone else in the right lane, which had been done to him by the semi. (Side Note: Knowing what I know about the usual traffic in these two lanes, I think the likely truth here is that the semi actually didn’t realize where he was until it was almost too late and the convertible was probably mostly just trying to cut ahead in a long line of cars.) It was obvious by the horn honking hand gestures and facial cues thrown by the driver of the convertible that he was not at all happy with the semi driver.

This amazed me as indicative of a bigger, very unfortunate truth.

The convertible driver was totally planning to “cheat” other drivers. Absolutely. In his world, his time literally is more valuable and more important than that of all the drivers he was preparing to cut in front of. Or perhaps it was something a little simpler like he was running late and trying to minimize his tardiness. Maybe he didn’t really *want* to be a complete dick, but this time he had to make an exception. Either way, he knew what he was doing and had planned it all along… before the semi interfered.

So essentially he was mad that someone else did something to him which almost ruined his chance to do that thing to others. This is our society today. We’ve not only gotten to the place where we’re fully okay spitting on others to get ahead (which is already a pretty bad place to be as a society), but also that we become angry when someone else spits on us in a way that prevents (or nearly prevents) us from spitting on others. We see this in more than just traffic patterns, too. In the USA, it is prevalent and evident every time our politicians legislate something that they exempt themselves from. Ah the joys of Kali Yuga! What heavy and severe samskara we must carry as a society – such egregore – to have reached a place where this is something so many consciences are fine with.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Nature and God

Daaji arrived at Ahmedabad airport to begin his trip to Mumbai. He was sitting with a small group in the lounge when the flight was delayed. He was remembering his travels with Babuji Maharaj. It was Babuji’s flight to Delhi after the Surat Birthday Celebrations. Babuji was at the airport waiting for a flight to Delhi. The flight was supposed to go to Jaipur first and then to Delhi, and Daaji was also travelling with him.

Daaji was waitlisted at number 136, so normally there would have been no chance of him getting on the flight. Soon the airline announced that there were sand storms around Jaipur area and the flight would not be landing there. Many cancelled their trip and so eventually Daaji got a seat. Babuji looked at him with a smile and said, “You are happy now!” Daaji happily recalled other incidents about Babuji. These small stories took everyone somewhere!

The spiritual life is about remembrance in the heart and love for the Beloved.

It was supposed to be a short flight to Mumbai, but it took a long time to land. During the flight, a lady walked up to Daaji and said, “You look like my son’s friend Marg!” She was happy and surprised by this unexpected meeting.

Later in Mumbai, at 5:45 p.m. in the evening, it was nice weather, so after finishing his work, Daaji went out to sit in the garden. A small group of industrialists had come to meet him. Daaji spoke to them about spirituality and how an experiential approach is the most practical one which leaves one with no ambiguity. He also spoke about the idea of being and non-being. Then he offered the guests the immediate experience of meditation with him. After meditation, there was a short informal interaction with newcomers about consciousness and Yoga. He encouraged them all to meditate and explore further.

Here are some snippets from the session:

“Quality of work drastically changes for good in the spiritual environment.”

“Meditation improves our moral and work ethics.”

“Evolution is not a matter of choice. It has to happen.”

“Many people argue: why can’t an all-powerful God change humanity for good? How can you change without willingness? One should invite change willingly.

If I have to become like my cherished personality,

“… I have to imbibe those qualities. If I have to become like that individual personality, I have to imbibe creativity in me if I dream to become like God – that is point number one.

“Then there are other qualities that can be observed in Nature: I have to become simple and in tune with Nature. What is Nature? Take trees, for example: they take the minimum and give out the maximum. So, am I able to receive the minimum, or nothing at all, and give the maximum? That is God-like. So, even though I may not have happiness, I have to give that. I then become that, and I don’t even care for it anymore. So the second principle, which comes from Nature, is efficiency – taking in the minimum and giving out the maximum.

“The third principle, also from Nature, can be seen when we observe the trees in the US, shedding their leaves just before the winter commences. They adjust themselves for the colder weather. The trees have to preserve all their energy and resources in their roots. They do not have the luxury of extra leaves on their branches. They shed them, sacrificing. In our case, are we able to adjust with the external in our relationships? To do so, we have to sacrifice some of our habits. It is better if we can adjust.

“The fourth thing is that Nature is its simplicity, NO complexities.

“The fifth thing that I find is automatism. For example, trees bear flowers automatically when the season comes. That automatic response is not there in us. Our response is, ‘What do I get out of this?’ Based on that we play with it.

“So these five things help us to be in tune with Nature and God.”

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

April 19, 1983

Shri Gurubhyo Namaha!

The path today known as Heartfulness was once only known as Sahaj Marg. Going back many years and even tracing back to sage Patanjali, the modern expression of this path has seen more gurus. Known as Masters because the mastery they possess over their selves and their ability to point seekers toward the one Self within us all, these four have each brought a new phase of evolution to our marg. The first of the four gurus was named Ram Chandra (of Fatehgarh). He is now known more simply as Lalaji. His successor had the same name, although he was from Shajahanpur (Uttar Pradesh) and came to be known as Babuji.

Lalaji laid the foundation for our path’s modern structure. Lalaji seems to have resurrected a hybrid – part Sufi, part Hindu. He is know to have taught our simple form of heart-centered meditation but also would give seekers mantras and ayurvedic advice – whatever the seeker was in most need of, Lalaji helped them obtain. Our next guru, Babuji built upon the foundation laid by Lalaji and in his own way streamlined our practice. It was during his guidance that the primary focus of the path became our way of meditation and usage of things like mantras declined significantly.

Born in 1899, Babuji’s form was seen by Lalaji while he was in a super-conscious state and it was then known that the man we call Babuji would be the marg’s successor. One major thing taken from Babuji’s example is that one need not renounce a responsible worldly life to retreat into the Himalayas in order to see vital personal evolution. In fact, Babuji taught us through word and his living example that the householder life can be the very best proving ground for one’s spirituality. To be found among all his other teachings, he taught that we should not give too much attention to our weaknesses but instead focus on progressing and to always push forward and that not only is God simple, but also that the means to reach God are equally simple.

On April 19th, 1983, Babuji left and entered a loka we know as the Brighter World and from there he has sent (and continues to send) many messages through a French female medium. These Messages from the Brighter World now form a significant corpus of literature and always convey his essence to us while at the same time advising and gently prodding us onward as a community. Very late last night / very early this morning (USA, EST) there were global sittings to commemorate the samadhi of Heartfulness’s second gurudev. Tonight, I’m reciting the gurupadukastotram and doing other puja to honor Babuji. Below you will see an assortment of images take from various places online. I’m sharing them with you now to get a better sense of Babuji and what he means to abhyasis around the world.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Shri Gurubhyo Namaha | Aum Shanti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Child

Daaji came back to the cottage and attended many meetings. A small group of children met him and one child looked quite serious, saying, “I have a question for you.” Daaji replied, “Please go ahead and ask.” The child to Daaji asked, “Master is in the heart. So why are people greedy to see him physically?” Daaji answered, “That is my question and my problem also.”

Daaji was so happy with this wise youngster. Later, the child’s father said that the whole morning he was upset watching those people who were demanding to see Master. Here again a small but profound incident showed that the wisdom of the heart does not depend on age or knowledge.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

About Mind

“We have to understand the function of the mind. We have a nose. What is the role of nose? It is to smell. Would you tell your nose to stop smelling things?  “I would like to smell only a rose and not this gutter.” It can’t be selective. The same thing happens with the eyes. The role of the eyes is to see things. The mind is also like that, you see. The mind is to think. To prevent its function from thinking is to go against its nature. So, in Yoga sadhana, we first train the mind to think on one object – the Divine presence. After that we go deeper, from thinking, which is a superficial function, to feeling. That is true meditation. When we shift from thinking to feeling that is the real meditation, where we no longer think of the divine presence but feel the presence. For that we need dedicated practice.” -Daaji

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Tied to Freedom

Last November I read something on a blog I follow and I’d like to share here now. The post can be found by clicking here and deals with the idea of Samadhi. The author writes about a spiritual idea that is often thought to be the culmination of lots of hard work – I think I’ve written about it, too, but this author does really well at touching on something in a meaningful way but without digging so deep that the reader tunes it all out.

In Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness, we can trace some of our foundation to the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and anyone who has studied the broader yoga umbrella and what falls under it will be familiar with the term samadhi. My own understanding of the word, when I first came to Hinduism, was that samadhi is THE highest attainment and means the truest and most complete liberation. It’s The Goal. Synonymous with words like moksha. Stepping off of the samsaric wheel. No more karma, either good or bad. No more samskara. No more anything. Sometimes I’d read that it just meant someone died.

I think there are applications of samadhi, as a word, that still carries all that just fine. But my understanding has evolved. For abhyasis practicing Heartfulness, samadhi isn’t really The Goal. It’s an attainment and a great sign post of one’s personal development and evolution as a human. And I’d say this largely matches what Yogibattle has communicated. And I agree with him that it is possible that one can experience samadhi while in everyday life. From a linguistic standpoint samadhi does communicate the essence of yoga which is union. Here, samadhi gets extra fancy in that is implies a sort of ultimate freedom – but through ultimate union.

From Wikipedia….

Sanskrit

Various interpretations for the term’s etymology are possible:

  • sam, “together”; a, “toward”; stem of dadhati, “puts, places”: “a putting or joining together;”[web 1]
  • sam, “together” or “integrated”; ā, “towards”; dhā, “to get, to hold”: “to acquire integration or wholeness, or truth” (samāpatti);
  • sam, “uniformly” or “fully”; adhi, “to get established: : a state wherein one establishes himself to the fullest extent in the Supreme consciousness;
  • samā, “even”; dhi, “intellect”: a state of total equilibrium of a detached intellect.
  • sam, “perfect,” “complete.” dhi, “consciousness”: a state of being where “all distinctions between the person who is the subjective meditator, the act of meditation and the object of meditation merge into oneness.”[6]

The above excerpt from Wikipedia (I know, I know – whatever) does well at highlighting the “union” aspect of samadhi. You see words and phrases like “together,” “integrated,” and “merge into oneness.” But it’s through this union  (a form of binding, being bound) that expansive freedom is experienced and that is the essence, peace, hope, and purpose of yoga and spirituality associated with yoga.

Yogibattle details some of what Patanjali has said about samadhi and I’ll let you spend a few minutes reading his post which I’ve linked to earlier in this post. Samadhi, clearly, is something achievable by austere renunciates escaping everyday life AND the householder / grhasta who operates within worldly living. He also rightly points out how natural and therefore automatic samadhi is and that it isn’t really something one “does.” (This should parallel teachings on meditation where you don’t forcefully clear your mind – but it happens.) He says, “I  have an inkling that Samadhi hits us when we are not trying to achieve Samadhi. If you are in your natural state doing your dharma without any expectation, I think you are ripe for the experience.” That means this is probably not at all far removed from times when someone is “in the zone” – when hatha yogis are flowing in and through asana as much as the asana is flowing in and through them. When athletes perform in ways that seem super human. When mothers are mothering like no other mother.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti