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

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Madea

I mention Facebook a lot here on Sthapati Samanvayam. It’s really the only social media I used as much as I do and I find myself kinda getting bored of it. Still, there are plenty of times when something shared by someone else really hits me and this happened recently.

A video, from I-don’t-know-what, was shared and it was of the character Madea speaking to a young man who apparently had some life questions needing answered – apparently relating to others in his life. Lately I’ve been dealing with a tough situation in my own life. The situation is tough because it involves bad behavior and it involves a very old and good friend of mine, and it involves living situations which are changing due to the bad behavior.

These changes came about, initially, because of a conversation I started which demanded change and provided guidelines within which change was expected. This kind of event is one of the joys and burdens of being the “mean daddy” in your own home where others live. All in all, things are playing out almost as expected (my foresight can be REAL keen sometimes) and about as good as they were going to play out. Despite the challenging situation, itself, I’m convinced the future will be better because of this.

All of this, though, has really gotten me thinking about people in my life: Why they are here, why they come and go, why I allow bullshit from one person but no one else, Why I allow bullshit from others but not someone specific, … lots of “whys.” This relates directly to Madea’s wisdom. Those answers will come, by and by, and I’m not exactly worried about them. What does come to mind as something to be watchful of are the impressions these events and people make on me. Certainly, to some degree (whether large or small), we are who we are because of everything that led us to where we are right now. The jobs we’ve held. The choices me made or didn’t. The people we know and love … or don’t love. All of these things, along the way, leave marks on us. For anyone familiar with the concept of karma, this ties in directly to that – but that’s for another post.

The Sahaj path of Raja Yoga and Heartfulness practice have made me very aware of these marks or impressions and how far they reach and what some of their effects are. These impressions, whether we’re aware of them or not, are at the foundation of our thought patterns, actions, and reactionary habits. I think Madea’s wisdom to the young man is totally something I would say or have said to others when giving advice – something I am asked to do on a regular basis. But sometimes, when you’re so close to situational epicenters, it can be tough to know when to apply advice you have given to others. That happens with me sometimes. Not usually, but sometimes.

At any rate, I’ve included the video in this post for your viewing pleasure and potentially your betterment. I hope you enjoy Madea’s simple but profound advice and use it to become aware impressions you might carry.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

 

 

Sams-karma-s

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

 

So… the title of this post is a real botch job, don’t hate me. I was combining the word karma into the word samskara. The terms are very different and yet intimately related. Karma, in its most dummied down translation, is “action” and samskara, in like form, means impression – a subtle impression that is carried with us. Have you ever reacted in a certain way and almost felt you had no choice? That was probably the influence of some kind of impression / samskara. Obviously, something like that would influence your actions (reactions) and so you can see the two are a closely knitted pair.

The Heartfulness path (aka Sahaj Marg) deals heavily with both of these concepts, although quite extensively with samskaras. The “magic” of this path and our practice is that the samskaras are “scrubbed” away through the diligent employment of our practice.

Recently, through a couple Daily Reflections delivered into my inbox, I received a nice lesson. Everyone thinks about karma and samskara in regard to thing you have done or might do. But our guru, Kamlesh D. Patel, helps us understand that there’s another side of the coin: Inaction. I guess this might mean those could’as, would’as, and should’as. The things you didn’t do or say that you should have or really needed to (not for your benefit but for the benefit of others). Many times when people speak of regret they speak of something they wish they’d said or done or somewhere they’d gone. Sometimes this feeling of regret really sticks to a person – like a subtle impression. And obviously, the application of all this is not limited to regret. After all, we’re talking about very subtle components of life. Many people wander through life practically oblivious to really blatant and mundane things, so it’s no wonder at all to consider that these impressions formed from inaction wouldn’t necessarily be on one’s radar.

In the second edition of Designing Destiny (2015), Shri Kamlesh-bhai said of inaction, “It is not only our actions that promote samskaras. Our inactions can create lethal samskaras that are worse than those created by our actions.” In the same chapter of that book, he also states, “Samskaras created by inactions, deliberate inactions, amount to the heaviest of the samskaras in our system. They can be removed, no doubt, but then a commitment of very high order is required. Your cooperation at every level is required.”

I think these quotes communicate some very serious and helpful information. Kamlesh-bhai uses the word lethal. That’s a heavy word. Means deadly, right? Without further research I won’t guess at what Kamlesh-bhai fully meant in the usage of that word, but from where I sit I see a connection to the usage of that word within the context of samskaras. For as long as we carry these impressions / samskaras, we’ll be saddled with karma. And as long as either applies to our existence, our existence will be tied directly to the wheel of samsara – which is the cycle of death and rebirth. Because death is not the opposite of life, but rather the opposite of birth, Kamlesh-bhai’s use of “lethal” seems to point directly to that connection between death and rebirth.

There are a number of things to take from our guru-ji’s words but this one implication – inaction being lethal – is really enough to give everyone pause and serious consideration to why you sometimes don’t do the things you don’t do.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Not Fair

imagesKZ1R0HVZ

A week or so ago I published a post regarding some frustration surrounding my relationship with someone I had considered my Best. Shortly thereafter, in fact the next day, we had a nice long chat. The result of that chat amounts to two realizations: The first is that I should maybe give more effort at recognizing and acknowledging what progress he does make, however much or little that might be. And the second isn’t so much a realization as a clarification between us. In our discussion, I feel I made it clear that I cannot continue to see him as I have because it’s essentially unfair to him.

That realization, and using that realization to govern my thoughts and actions going forward, have meant some real change on my part. Everyone knows it’s total shit from a bull’s ass when someone breaks up with you and they’re like, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But this experience has shown me that there sometimes can be truth to that. From the most genuine place inside myself, I sincerely feel that it’s unfair of my friendship with this human to have expectations that he simply isn’t likely ever to live up to. The reasons why he won’t pertain to his personal development and are all entirely on him and completely his own responsibility – plain and simple. But from my side of the fence it’s important to recognize the lunacy that I might be carrying: Turkeys are not capable of long distance flight. It’s terribly unfair to fault a turkey for being a turkey and being unable to fly like sparrows. The reality of what a turkey is has to be met and accepted, for at least as long as it takes the turkey to evolve into something capable of flying longer distances. Right?

In a rather unexpected turn of events, it would appear that this lesson has somehow also landed in the thoughts of my Beloved.

A little back story: Our neighbor lady has recently swapped her male companions and the new guy is a “composer.” By “composer,” I mean anything but what you’re thinking. He’s not a composer. From my own experience, the best he could be considered would be a “mixer” and I wouldn’t be surprised if he fancies himself a DJ or something. He’s a younger male (maybe early 20s), he’s fond of dragging one of their kitchen chairs out front and reclining on it in a way that just looks like slouching – all while wearing only her sunglasses and some camo cargo pants. It’s very clear that, in addition to a legit composer, he also sees himself as some kind of Armani model. Priceless, to say the least.

My Beloved and I have discussed this young wannabe a number of times in the recent weeks since he moved in. My Beloved is actually quite affected as his favorite place to hang out within our home happens to be probably the closest point between our property and the neighbors’ which means that my Beloved is subjected to the “composing process” more directly than I.

Last Friday, as we were deciding where to grab dinner he says, “Josh, we have to move.” We discussed what that would mean and require and then almost immediately reached out to a realtor friend of ours. I can tell you all about the difficulty in getting your home “staged” for showing while still living there – a process made even more difficult by a third adult who’s in the mix because he has nowhere else to go, yet who doesn’t seem to understand the urgency of trying to sell one’s home at the end of the prime home selling seasons.

I’m getting kinda wordy and side tracked here…. What I’ve been meaning to get at is that during our discussion, my Beloved actually said to me with his mouth something to the effect of, “I don’t think it’s fair to our neighbor that we can’t tolerate his work with music.” And the result of this view is that we’re now planning to sell and move as soon as we’re able.

The situation with the neighbor and the one with the person I’ve referenced before as my Best are obviously very different. However, I’m now entertaining questions in my mind about when it’s most appropriate to “lovingly step back” or to “lovingly disconnect” (as a Christian friend of mine is so fond of saying) for the sake of allowing others to be who they are for as long as they insist on not evolving and when it’s not appropriate. In the past, this wouldn’t be something I’d do. I’m confrontational and as directly honest as I’m able to be in any situation.

If how and where you’re walking ends up with my toes stepped on, do I let you know as much in no uncertain terms and expect you to become more aware of your own walking or do I simply move to stand in a different place?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Samskaram, schmamskaram…but not really.

(This was written nearly three days ago, and I’m only just now getting around to posting. Ah, life.)

This morning, despite a nagging tiredness and overwhelming urge to sleep in for once, I found myself at temple bright and early. I’m glad for it, as usual. Everyone was typically composed, but the mood was pleasant and festive as we enter our Diwali celebrations. Another blogger mentioned that she often finds it tough to stick to Hindu holidays because there exists a myriad calendars. Depending on where you’re from and what the immediate culture might be like, the same holiday might start on widely differing schedules. She’s right and I’ve often felt frustrated or unsure because of this. However, in my experience dedication and patience has led to confidence and besides, as she points out in her recent post, there’s a ton of freedom within Hinduism to generally celebrate when/how you feel fit. Locally, we’re celebrating Diwali on Tuesday evening and Anakut on Wednesday.

This morning, all holiday aside, was typical for any session of the Gita Mandal. We invoked, we worshipped, we became musical and then a discourse was delivered just prior to aarti. Today’s discourse was delivered by a local devotee and he spoke on the meaning and benefit of Hindu Samskaras.

Truth be told, there are MANY samskaras observed by Hindus, and many of them hinge on a whole host of factors that determine whether you will observe this samskara or that one. I’ll admit now that I used to be focused on this, fearing I’d be missing out since I’m not an ethnic Hindu. I’m far less concerned these days, and while I recognize the religious origin of samskaras, it might be argued that they’re at least as much a cultural thing as anything else.

There were a number of guests today, also. Many of them were faculty from a college or two. Some were local activists. One or two were local political leaders. Each of these guests, it would later be revealed, were in some way colleagues of the speaker and it was also pretty evident that his discourse was meant directly for them, although everyone else benefitted too.

The speaker’s topic of Hindu Samskaras was actually quite fitting. The guests who came just for him are those who care deeply about finding a solution for groups of people who seem down-trodden and often unable to help themselves, namely blacks and Latinos. Information presented in the discourse was interesting and often mentioned that the character/quality of person we eventually become is largely affected by influences even before we’re technically people. Special attention was given to expecting mothers and the care they should receive. The speaker seemed of the mind that improvement could happen, mostly, by dual means.

  1. Expecting mothers must be treated quite delicately and must receive the absolute best care. Many studies suggest (prove?) that the experiences of the embryo/fetus while in the womb directly affect its development not only physically but mentally, spiritually, and psychologically. Think prenatal vitamins and pointing a speaker playing Mozart at momma’s belly.
  2. Patience. With enough care and dedication toward intentionally creating successive generations of more wholesome human organisms, we could eventually manifest a more wholesome world/culture. The speaker indicated this would take a minimum of a few generations.

There was one from among the guests who said many people try to be encouraging and advise folks to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” but what to do when one has not even bootstraps?!?! This led the discussion in a slightly different direction.

Another, from the general audience, spoke up rather passionately. She was slightly past middle age, and like so many others present, she was highly educated. She acknowledged that everything that had been said was fine and true, but she added that there’s no need to wait for generations to pass before effecting or noticing the changes necessary for our time. She asserted that change can happen right here, right now, if only the individual makes the effort. In her estimation, everything already said during our discourse essentially promoted a “victim of circumstance” to “victim of environment” mentality. I couldn’t agree more. I know an adorable young man, who happens to no longer live in my state. In addition to being young, he was often ridiculous with making choices. While speaking about him to a mutual friend, she said, “we’ll you can’t fault him for how he is. Look at how his parents are!” I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now. I know first hand what it’s like to grow up in a divorced home, to see many things a child shouldn’t, and to have a worthless parent. I’ll allow that, up to a certain age, these factors can be applied as reasons for behavior. But after a certain age, you’re just making excuses. After a certain point, you are exposed to more than the example set by your family. And once you begin having things to compare, there’s no reason for the “lesser path” to any longer be acceptable. Change is up to you. And so, with very few exceptions indeed, the possibility of accelerated or immediate change isn’t unreasonable. Attempting change from a generational scope isn’t practical. It must be brought individually.

This reminded me of another blogger friend who recently wrote a short but interesting post asking, among other things, if chickens will always produce the same kind of eggs. He also asks the same question, in an adjusted context: Love/Hate. My friend mentioned Gandhi and Jesus who apparently want us to respond to hate with love. The question here was, “But how can you love yourself if you see yourself returning hate from others with hate?” My friend was mostly asking this rhetorically, really, but my answer to this is an exercise in Jnana. Learn the nature of your Self -experience it -and you’ll see that responding to any thing with any response that isn’t love, is likely a reactional product of the ego. Bhakti alone can get a person there, too, but I’m less comfortable with that process. Applying bhakti leads to seeing the One in all that you encounter, which will lead to a change in response, from returning hate with hate to returning hate with love, but what’s happening then is essentially Jnana anyway because the result is Self realization and the knowledge-experience that neither your personality nor the personality yours is interacting with as real or permanent as it seems.

Whether the approach taken is Bhakti or Jnana is irrelevant. The point that was encouraged by the woman in the audience today, and a point which I support, is that change can happen now and it’s the responsibility of the individual. An example of how this is possible can be found on yet another blog that I just came across. This writer’s “About” page paints a pretty clear picture of what the modern human experiences, and provides an easy-to-read example of the actions that particular human took to remedy his condition and create the change he needed.

The idea behind the generational progression to humans of finer quality is better than nothing, but it’s impractical. Generations are, after all, made of individuals- which is where the real change happens anyway.

Every year the Diwali season reminds us of the triumph of Light over Darkness. I’m grateful that this victory doesn’t require the span of generations to see its realization. Sri Ganapati bless you, dear reader, now and in the year to come. And may The Lord of Wisdom and Remover of Obstacles guide you toward your own ever-blissful victory over the Dark that would surround you.

Om 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

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