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….


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




In this post, I wrote about how Sahaj Marg has aided my personal evolution to the point of somewhat regular experiences of  The More. Part of that development and those experiences (maybe a huge part of it), I think, relates to what I know to be called “praan” or “prana.” ( प्राण, prāṇa ) Depending on the source you reference, this term translates variously as: Life force, vitality principle, universal principle of energy or force, cosmic energy, and shakti. The Wikipedia entry (which I don’t usually count as a valid reference for anything) on the term tells us that it comes to the earth from the sun, connects all the elements, is responsible for the body’s life / heat / maintenance, and is the sum total of all the manifest energy everywhere. (I find this to be just one, very simple example of Hinduism’s ability to completely marry science / sorcery, mundane / magical, sacred / secular.) Obviously, with a definition as broad as the one above, there are a billion ways in which praana manifests and can be experienced. Another great aspect of Hinduism is that it not only allows for but also insists on the recognition of everyone’s ability to experience this, first-hand, in their own way. For me, this most often happens (or, at least, happens in a way that I have come to recognize with the most ease … ) while gardening. I’ll now annoy you with photos of some of my recent gardening efforts. 11050102_10155600723615235_4087172207148536321_n 11209590_10155600754980235_5902798348459611331_n 11210491_10155582210965235_3805607327618700350_n 11212769_10155582210095235_3930039768400469059_n 11141204_10155582209930235_2020331096100944633_n   It’s tough to describe. In fact, when describing It, all words will invariably fail. But I can try to describe my sensory experience. For anyone inexperienced in the dark art of gardening, allow me to say a bit: I don’t wear gloves. Ever. Give me lilies or a cactus, I’m touching it with my skin. This means getting my hands in the dirt and getting the dirt in me – at a minimum dirt will get under my nails, but it’s not uncommon that I’ve also accidentally cut or poked myself and broken some skin. When repotting a plant or placing it into the ground, there’s a lot of physical contact: I usually inspect the plant (above the roots) first to make sure it’s healthy. Then there’s minor prep work before and during the removal from its planter. After that, focus falls to the root ball – to loosen the roots a bit and break up some of the dirt being held onto. Occasionally, trimming or pruning is also beneficial or necessary before planting or repotting. Beyond that scenario, whether indoors or outside, gardening offers lots of opportunity to care for these living things: Watering, rotating, pruning, separating new sprouts or “pups,” … the list can go on, assuming the plant survives. All of this contact and attention and focus and care can, for the right person, contribute to the development of a rather meditative state. It’s not unlike a state I’ve experienced while doing dishes or mowing the yard – and others have experienced this, too, during mundane activities.The difference between gardening and washing dishes, though, is the contact with actually living things. And that’s where praana comes into this picture and is also where it becomes challenging to describe. There’s a sound that electricity carries. It sometimes can be sensed (heard?) after a lightening flash and right before a thunderclap. It’s not that “zap” sound. It can be heard again in silence – like immediately after the thunder or in between heart beats. (We reproduce this, somewhat, when during pranayam-ic exercises we pause between inhaling and exhaling.) From where I currently sit, I’m not sure if this “silence” is really a kind of noise or not. And truly, it must be felt to be experienced. I don’t think it can actually be heard with human ears. But there’s that electrically-charged silence-but-not-silence “sound.” This is what growth sounds like. A kind of electric, non-auditory, thunder. And because I can’t actually hear it, I feel it. There’s no ego in a plant. Consciousness (different from awareness), but no ego. And as already mentioned, the act of gardening can induce a deep meditative state. So, when I engage in this activity and enter that state my ego is brushed aside (quite involuntarily!) and magic happens. This is when people say they’re doing something from the heart or “in the zone” (it’s the heart zone!). Whether it’s basketball, gardening, archery, or whatever – you can enter that space within and operate from there. A huge, massive, invaluable benefit I’ve gained from Sahaj Marg – being able to tap into my core. So before I know it, I’m in my heart experiencing this magic kind of non-effort and that’s when I come into conscious and aware contact with praana. Please believe me when I tell you that I experience (feel) that universal sound – the very life residing in the plant (and in you, and me, and everything else, everywhere). I feel the sound of the movement of Life. I don’t feel the movement itself. I don’t hear anything. It keeps reminding me of the kind of sensitivity that guy in the movie “Powder” exhibited, but without all the melancholy. But I feel the “sound” made by that indwelling… And then I go to a greenhouse and buy more plants, pots, and dirt! When you find a way for you to tap into It so easily, it can be maddening. It becomes all you really want to do. Bliss. It’s probably a good thing I’m not yet able to experience this consistently in other areas of my life – I’d give away everything and run to the jungles or a mountain cave and would live my days in seclusion. I’m curious how many others have this experience, or their equivalent of it. What activities can induce this in your human being? Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

कोई मन नहीं


I’ve written before about how important it is to me that any idea of God that I entertain be as far from human-like as it can get. It’s been part of the pull I have for Ganesha versus others who appear more human. And while I understand that the majority of our believing population needs something minds can wrap around, I remain of the opinion that anything a mind can wrap around is immensely too limited to be very much of God. For this and other reasons, I’ve always used the Vedic words, “Neti, neti…” as a guiding light.

As humans, with minds and egos, the minute we begin saying what God is we naturally and automatically begin trying to build a circumference of sorts around what we think we know God to be. This happens in every religion to some degree or another. It can be said that for some religions it’s the entire foundation of belief.

In the Sahaj Marg, I think in part to engage in the stilling of our mind’s waves, we essentially limit ourselves in how we “see” God. There’s mention of divine light and “the subtlest of the subtle,” but beyond that we’re discouraged from clinging too closely at all to forms of the divine that are terribly finite and I have actually experienced this to be surprisingly liberating – which is, of course, the aim of the practice.

In reading the words of our current and living maharaj I came across words that resonated with me. I’m not sure if I’ve shared this exact quote of his before, but like a few others, I’m sure there will be many who disagree. (Interestingly, in this day and age of Kali, I’m increasingly convinced that almost anything different from the bulk of humanity is a fine thing, indeed. We’re a fairly fucked-up group of organisms.) The words I just referenced are shared below.

“God – no mind, no heart – cannot love human beings, and cannot love anything else. He is love, but he cannot love. We, on the other end of the spectrum – we can love, but we are not love. Therefore comes this, you know, blindingly illuminating concept that we have not to love, but to become Love.”

I think for practical and linguistic purposes employed in basic human existence, we can say that God loves everyone. And certainly if we do say God loves everyone then it should be made clear that God loves everyone equally. However, I genuinely believe that God loves no one. I also genuinely believe that God has no mind and no heart, as the quote indicates. We humans have hearts and minds and we definitely think and love. But God IS love, right? If God is love, then God cannot love. Otherwise, we could say that a fire “fires,” which doesn’t make sense. Instead, we say that a fire burns or heats or warms. So either God loves but isn’t love, or God is love but doesn’t love. Most agree that humans are not love, yet are capable of loving intensely. I believe God is love and I believe humans become That by loving. It’s a simple and very deep sadhana.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

1 – 2 – 3


Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is fantastically magical. I think today’s emphasis on bhakti yoga leaves the Yoga Sutra mostly overlooked and not well studied. In truth, this text should be studied by any and every serious yoga seeker. Although the text seems to be valued primarily by practitioners of raja yoga and jnana yoga, there’s not a single aphorism (that’s 100% not the right word, but I’m leaving it) in the entire text that won’t benefit and help develop the genuine seeker, regardless of their chosen path.

I’ve been very open about the path I feel most inclined toward, which is that of jnana yoga. However, the group or sect (or whatever you wish to call it) that I actually actively participate in adheres to the “raja” way of business. I’ve found, and been surprised to find, that raja yoga is the one yoga almost no one knows anything about and in my experienced, it’s actually quite balanced. It literally and successfully incorporates various aspects of yoga that bring out the best of the jnana approach, enable one to pursue bhakti intelligently and in a controlled / structured manner, and also mitigate the ebb and flow of one’s various karmas. That raja yoga is king, indeed!

Recently on Facebook, I saw something in my news feed posted by Yoga International, the link to which can be found by clicking here. This well-written article is, umm…. written well. The author knows her wordery and how to employ it. She has selected three of the Niyamas to focus on for the piece and what she shares is cool and helpful. To be clear, the Yamas and Niyamas can be seen by some to essentially be a bunch of “do this” “don’t do that” kind of rules. They’re not that. Simply put, they’re structured steps to help guide one on his / her way through the yogic process.

Something I’ve found interesting on more than one occasion is that these Yamas & Niyamas are not infrequently rearranged or modified to suit various temperaments, goals, and levels of development. That should stand as testament to the fact that these aren’t anything close to the Hindu “Ten Commandments” or even anything along those lines. In that spirit, the author of this article has selected three of the Niyamas: Tapas, Swadhyaya, and Ishwara Pranidhana.

Starting with tapas, she explains the importance of dedication and sticking to your guns on something you want to accomplish. There’s mention of “heat,” which is both a physical experience and an internal, driving force kind of thing. It’s like a burning fire that causes one to act and continue acting. There’s an inherent urgency in tapas – “I’m headed to this destination and I want to get there. Now.” This is the Niyama of discipline and will-power.

To guide that action, however, and keep it from getting out of control, one employs swadhyaya. This term is often translated as “self study,” but it should be made clear how encompassing that’s meant to be. The author says it’s, “…the yogic method of paying attention to what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why you are doing it.” This kind of study is meant to include not only the learning that the self does from books and from others, but also learning about the Self – a reflective and experiential responsibility of great importance. This involves looking within and putting the pieces together. How has what you observe fit with what you experience? According to the author, this is where the physicality of Hatha Yoga comes alive. With this Niyama we’re forced to call a spade what it is and keep moving forward – something possible only with the courage taken from tapas.

When these two are successfully married, we’re brought to the third Niyama discussed in the article: Ishwara Pranidhana. I’ll admit when I very first learned of this Niyama, I didn’t go very deep with it. A simple translation would be, “surrendering to the Divine.” I gagged when I first read that. When I see phrases like that I cringe because way too many people think this flatly means to be open to God’s will for their life, a notion I find questionable as it is. Those thoughts, without carrying them further, really do a disservice to the Yoga Sutra and the aspiring yogi. This is Niyama is vitally necessary because, as the author points out, the previous two alone run the risk of us becoming self-absorbed.

Ishwara pranidhana is what allows us to accept the fruits of our karmas without attachment. In the other Niyamas we’ve done the work necessary for any fruition, whatever that may be. And that’s the key with this particular Niyama – being cool with those fruits, whatever they may be. Having that kind of acceptance is crazy tough. The fruits in question here are, of course, really just the effects of any cause you create. It’s one thing to be like, “Whatever” in regard to anything that might happen. Even stoners are capable of that. But it’s a whole other thing to have developed awareness enough to not only think you have total acceptance of what may come, but also to be an active and conscious player when the causes to whatever happens are created to begin with.

It’s going with the flow – but on steroids.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

The Lady at the Temple

A friend of mine told me recently that not long ago, while at temple, he’d engaged in a lengthy discussion with a woman. This discussion, as far as I can tell, centered around the question of whether one should actively help to instruct others or simply lead by example. His take on the question is that leading by example is, often enough, insufficient, while her’s was that we should never do anything aside from leading by example. You know I have an opinion…and you should know you’re about to get it. (Which in and of itself is telling, in regard to where I probably stand on this!)

I think the go-to argument for those who say leading by example is prime is something often related to tough love or learning lessons “the hard way,” and how for some people that’s the only or best way to learn. “You do best to show by your actions, following is their choice, and they may have to learn on their own.” In no way am I fighting that rationale, although it doesn’t precisely fit into this discussion. Truly, I think in any situation requiring a tie breaker, lessons learned through experience will beat out anything say by another’s mouth. In this context, one can be sure the lesson will sink in because it will likely come in the form of some kind of pain, and the typical human requires pain sufficient to warrant change – or so say the 12-steppers. But in the context of the example setter teaching through demonstration, there’s an assumption -and you know what happens when one assumes. The assumption is that one’s example is being noticed. One can lead by the best example possible, but in a room full of blind people, the example will almost certainly go unnoticed.

Humans are, however, a unique creation in the natural world (on Earth, anyway). You see, all over this planet other life forms teach primarily by example. Many lifeforms have their own “language,” and they do communicate through this, but this is essentially setting an example; the real way they learn and teach is through example, through experience. Guaranteed, a mother bird never had a chat with her chicks wherein she explained that she’s about to shove them from the nest and that they should flap their wings to avoid injury or death. Instead, what happens is that the chicks observe the parent birds coming and going by flight and anything not learned through that observation (also an experience), or not already programmed in the chick itself, is definitely learned through the experience of plummeting toward the earth.

Humans, though, have a unique ability. We not only can learn through another’s example, but also we can learn through being instructed. So what, right? Umm, no. It’s because of this, and a few other factors, that humans are at the top of the evolutionary ladder right now. Instead of each new generation learning that some snakes are poisonous by stepping on them, and many of our progeny perishing in the process, we advise them of the risk and instruct them on how to avoid it. We pass a huge, ever-increasing library on to successive generations precisely by not relying on their ability to learn by following suit (aka repeat painful experiences proven in the past). Even the most animal-istic people have higher consciousness than animals, and they also have the ability to learn through instruction. In fact, this is the basis for virtually all human learning:

  • guru/shishya, priest/parishioner
  • teacher/student
  • workplace trainer/trainee
  • parent/child, et cetera…

And it’s because of this that our evolution has progressed suchly.

My view is that to ignore this component of being human, or even to downplay it, is a disservice and a disgrace. We can learn much through watching another’s example, but relying on that is truly selling yourself short of the full human experience. Having the ability to learn a lesson fully and without the pain that is almost always inherent in learning experiences “the hard way” is an incredible boon. Similarly with those in a position to advise/instruct: through the medium of instruction we simultaneously further our own knowledge and dual-y impart that knowledge to the learner while sparing them the folly of experiencing pain.

One of Patanjali’s sutras states, “Heyam dukham anagatam.” Future pain is to be avoided. I realize I’m taking this slightly out of context, but the principle remains unaltered. I think one should live as though he’s followed by an audience of astute observers, but I also find it foolish and even careless to gamble that anyone at all is not only observing you in the first place, but also doing so mindfully. It seems a more efficient and sure way of helping to lead others on their path would be directly advising, as our gurus do.

Woe is me, but not really

A week ago today was the toughest day I’ve had in a minute. Please, allow me to bore you with the details.

I awoke with the beginning of a head cold. I arrived at the clinic and promptly arranged for my heavily sugared and heavily creamed coffee. This part is good…it’s real good…and addictively delicious. A little later that morning I found myself training a new hire. This is also something I enjoy, although a bit less so with a fledgling head cold. The whole process of training someone means everything goes half the normal pace and requires twice the energy and focus. At the end of the day, I found myself not only entirely spent, but also doing what I usually do at the end of a Thursday (the busiest, most hellish day at the clinic), which is to wrap things up as fast as possible and change into more comfortable clothes to wear to class. I make my way out to my car where I discovered the battery was dead…something the shop warned me of two weeks ago while I was in for an oil change, but otherwise would have been a total surprise. This is truly enough to send me into orbit. You see, anything car-related is a mystery to me. When I sit down into my car, and insert the key, the damned thing needs to move or I’m in fits. Additionally, as I’ve already admitted in prior posts, all things number-related are also practically mind-boggling for me, which makes perfect attendance in class more than mandatory for me. And guess what –when your car won’t start it’s REALLY tough to get to class. More stress.

So, I call my male spousal equivalent and instruct him to bypass his usual stop at the gym as he’s leaving work and come instead, immediately, to pick me up because he’s now my ride to and from school. Even though anything on his schedule that night was neither mandatory or nor something anyone else depended on him for, it was very clear by his demeanor that he was far from thrilled to be called to aid someone like myself. Truth be told, this actually hurt my feelings more than a little. I pride myself on rarely asking for anything from anyone, and growing up it was taught to my brothers and I that you should always be more than willing to help someone else, and never guilt them for it. In defense of my beloved, he didn’t actively guilt me and he didn’t argue with anything I said I needed, but my ego was still bruised, I suppose, because my perception was that he was pissed because he had to give up an evening of doing nothing in favor of an evening of helping me. But whatever, it’s entirely unimportant and inconsequential, but at the time stung pretty badly when I already wasn’t at my best.

So he gets me to school. While I’m in class he’s kind enough to run around and buy a new battery, although it wasn’t able to be installed. He did also manage to get my car to start on the old “dead” battery. So class ends, he picks me up to take me to my car to that we can figure something out… and it starts raining.

That was just about icing on the cake.    

At the beginning of this post, I requested you, dear reader, to allow me to bore you with the details of my miserable day. I used the verb “to bore” intentionally. By virtually every comparative standard, my life is a walk in the park. I find myself, as I age, increasingly self-guilted at thoughts and complaints that arise during my moments of struggle. Days like this one, while painful and frustrating at the time, unfailingly remind me of concepts like Maya, gratitude, and perspective. I’ve said before that even the poor in American are richer than the poor in India. Conversely, even a really crummy day in Josh’s World is still better than a normal day in a lot of folks’ lives. I really shouldn’t complain.

But the reality here is that suffering is universal and applies to all –even a soul as advanced as a Rshi. In the same way that concepts like karma and Brahman are universal, impartial, and impersonal, so is suffering. Everyone suffers, and that fact is what sets such an easy stage for compassion toward those who’re suffering (in their own way).

While suffering shares some pretty big similarities with the likes of karma and Brahman, unlike them it isn’t ultimate. (There’s actually a quasi-loophole that technically makes karma not ultimate either, but it’s a very small loophole indeed!) The biggest aspect of suffering that keeps it from ever being ultimate is that, while few very people indeed have a choice in the suffering that may already be on its way to them, each of us has a ton of control in regard to controlling that suffering once it arrives. What I mean is that no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, you will always, always, always have a choice in how you decide to react to that pain.

Patanjali wrote extensively on this. In Sanskrit, the word for suffering is dukham. According to Patanjali, none in the phenomenal world is exempt from experiencing dukham. None. Many people ask, “Why me?” Patanjali answers, “Why not you?” There simply is no hierarchy in suffering. Suffering is suffering is suffering… and every living thing will know it. He explains that not only is dukham inescapable, but also that its existence cannot be denied, and neither can it be denied that it causes pain. The good news, according to this sage, is that anyone and everyone can change their reaction or response to dukham and a great way to start this process is to avoid responses like blame, guilt, or regret. In the Yoga Sutras, 2.15 & 16 teach a valuable lesson applicable here. In 2.16, Patanjali wrote, “Heyam dukham anagatam,” which translates in some cases as “Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.” This should serve as a tremendous source of hope for those on the path of Dharma. We know that pain is often a part of existing. We know that the cyclical nature of karma means it’s likely we’re due at some point or another for pain. But we are in control over whether we perpetuate suffering in our own lives, and we also have the ability to control how miserable our experience of pain might be.  

In retrospect, for me the hidden benefit found in my miserable Thursday a week ago is that I don’t need to regret that I waited too long to get my battery changed. Nor should I feel guilt for asking someone to help me. And I shouldn’t blame my spouse for reacting as he did. After all, whatever was on his schedule or not, in his own way he suffered that day too and I shouldn’t place my own suffering above another’s.

Just sayin’.

Om shanti

Sahaj Marg, The Breakdown

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.

  1. Practitioners of Sahaj Marg are known as Abhyasis. Abhyas means concentration, and is actually an applicable title for followers of this path.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Om Shanti