Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It is I Who AM the ALL

"It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." ~ Jesus Christ 

"We are all different expressions of one reality, different songs of one singer, different dances of one dancer, different paintings — but the painter is one." ~ Osho

"We live in succession, in division, in parts and particles. Meantime, within man, is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts." ~ The Bhagavad Gita
One of the things I have not been able to convey adequately in my posts so far is the sheer bliss one feels on a daily basis as a result of a kundalini awakening. As I read through my posts I realized that I have made a mention of the agony and pain of the cleansing way too many times without making a mention of what one receives as a result of going through the agony.

As your blockages are removed, you reveal more and more of your true self and your true self is happier, calmer, more at ease being yourself. You grow more and more blissful. This bliss is not a contrived happiness, it is your original state. The misery was contrived and created by the mind. 
The Spirit Flies Free
The Lone Explorer is Not Alone
A common after effect of the first LSD experiments conducted by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert was that the test subject would become "God intoxicated," completely transformed into a spiritual seeker. Not necessarily someone that wanted to repeat the LSD experience, but someone that longed for the divine experience gained through the use of acid and wanted to get back to THAT. Many of these people later became meditators and Yogis. Alpert himself became the mystic Ram Dass.

Something very similar happened to me as a result of my kundalini experience. During the initial experience and for a year afterwards, I was in divine ecstasy. Literally in heaven. Heaven is the state of absolute union with no ego constraints on the conscious mind, no control mechanisms intruding between the soul and its communion with the higher self. From the day I had my first experience, I became obsessed with spirituality. This experience is so amazingly beautiful that one naturally wants to spend his entire time in this state.

Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught. Honore de Balzac
Web of Life
Once experienced, there is no going back to just being your old self again. Two things have happened. You have been introduced to a different reality and know it exists. It's yours for the taking, complete with instruction manuals left behind by others who have been there. We call them holy books.

Prior to my awakening experience, the methods in those books, "do not covet" "do not steal" "do no harm to others" "let go of anger" seemed like formulas for a goody-two-shoes, meek individual. More like a social control mechanism using God as a bogeyman to scare you straight.

After my experience, I saw the books for what they were: codes of conduct the individual could use to focus on the task of attaining THAT and removing the temptations that keep you in the illusory state of everyday existence. It was simple; the awakened ones had provided you with the tools for removing the blindfold.

I just read the wonderful post The Broken Rosary by our newest contributor, Metaphysical MD. I was blown away. A touching and beautiful story and so relevant to the post I was about to write. This is exactly what Bhakti Yoga is all about. To have a longing for the divine and give your heart and soul to the quest. Instead of writing about Bhakti Yoga in a theoritical and clinical way, she has expressed the beauty of surrender and being enveloped by His grace when the boundaries fall apart and the seeker becomes one with THAT. I cannot hope to add anything better to the subject. So I decided to write a totally different post. 

Start of an Ocean Voyage
Intersecting Ripples: the Vibrations We Give Off
In his previous post, JJ made a case for separating the experience of kundalini from the experience of the divine and to be objective and scientific about it. While I agree that one needs to be objective and not get carried away by each and every sensation and experience, I also realize that each experience is different. Kundalini experiences come in many flavors but connection to the divine and removal of a blindfold to show you the true nature of existence — as an emanation of that Higher Mind — is definitely one of them. At least in my case, I echoed the same sentiment as Ramakrishna's response when asked, "Have you seen God?" He said to the questioner, the person who later became Vivekananda, "I see him right now, as I see you, only clearer."

One does not "see" God. One realizes that there is nothing but God. He is not a person who looks like Santa Claus with a long flowing white beard. He is not a big shining light. ALL of creation is an emanation of the divine. It is this realization — as clear as day — with no possibility of doubt that is validated by ancient texts, both eastern and western. After that, regardless of whether I am in the state of samadhi or not, I always have an intellectual understanding that everything IS God.

Osho likens it to a fish that has never been out of water and is looking for this mystery substance called water. Until someday he is pulled out by a fisherman, the fish never knew he was swimming in water all along. Now that he is out of it, he realizes he was always in water. It's an analogy that can be applied to the human being that is in a quest for God except that in case of the human being, there is no possibility of being "pulled out of water." You cannot be pulled out of God, because everything that exists is a manifestation of that supreme universal Mind. 

You can be fooled by the senses into believing that you live an individual existence, separate from the rest of the universe. A kundalini awakening, an LSD experience, a near-death experience or shaktipat all act like the fisherman pulling you out of water and give you a glimpse of things as they really are, that Atman and Brahman are the same, one connected continuum, never separated, that you were swimming in the divine ocean all along. Unlike the fish that now knows water because it is outside of it, you glimpse the higher reality because the imaginary boundaries of the mind have fallen away momentarily, showing you that you were never separated from THAT.

Eventually you settle back down into the limited feeling of individuality in the physical body, but now, with a memory of the ecstatic experience, and now you want more of it. This is how one becomes a mystic, a spiritual seeker on the path.

Jesus said "When there are three Gods, they are Gods. When they are two or one, I am with Him." You don't see God, you become One with Him. It is reality we now perceive. It is the separation that was a myth.

Monday, August 26, 2013

From Madrid to Yellowstone

Something was missing...

I kept recalling my experience with the Light in Madrid at the time I received my healing.

One day I was on a trip to Yellowstone. Before I left, I heard a voice in my mind say, “You are going to have an experience in Yellowstone.” I didn't pay much attention as hearing things is sometimes an actuality, sometimes a fantasy, and after all it really doesn't matter.

There I was in Yellowstone National Park with a group of friends in the car, driving around after a full day of utter wonderment, watching the wild animals and the turquoise swirls of sulfurous water. As we were looking for the exit, I kept repeating to myself, "Now I wish I could see a wolf, I really would like to see a wolf!" The fulfillment of that wish was to be the culmination of an absolutely perfect day.

Call of the Wild
Grey wolf

It was getting dark as we searched for the exit. All of a sudden we were in a cul de sac. The driver stopped the car; we were lost. That's the last thing I remember hearing, "We are lost.” But I couldn’t grasp the meaning of the words because at that moment I felt the whole car, including myself in it, vibrate and shake to and fro, as if we were in an earthquake.

I was holding onto my seat, telling the other people in the car (who, by the way, seemed perfectly calm studying the map) there was an earthquake and what were we going to do about it. Yet the words didn't come out of my mouth and my friends continued to be quite unperturbed which completely baffled me. How could they not realize that the whole car was shaking!

At that point, I saw and felt what I can best describe as a golden pink disk penetrate my third eye, move into my spine and descend all the way to the base of it. My spine throbbed with an extraordinary glowing vibration that generated its own humming energy field. My hands started to vibrate with the most intense energy, so much so it was actually uncomfortable, almost more than I could bear, but I didn't seem to have much control over it. So powerful was this vibrating energy, it made my breathing difficult.

Somewhere in the recess of my thoughts I felt the need to eat, or I would pass out. I managed to mutter "banana, banana" to my friend David who was sitting next to me in the car. By then, he'd realized something was wrong with me; he peeled a banana and put a small piece in my mouth.

I was aware of the texture and taste of it, but never had a banana felt so strange! I couldn't move my hands to eat on my own as this booming brilliant energy was gushing into my palms; it was actually quite disagreeable. I couldn't keep my hands next to the rest of my body either.

Then, as the energy became stronger and stronger, I felt like I was going to burn up and disintegrate or explode perhaps, and as I could barely keep my breath going, I started getting really scared thinking all kinds of superstitious thoughts like extraterrestrials were coming to take me over. I was afraid, but unable to grasp the notion of fear with my mind. It was just there lurking somewhere, my whole being was trying to deal with the earthquake effect happening in my spine and hands.

I have never used drugs or consumed alcohol. I come from an educated background, one that doesn't indulge in silly thoughts or fantasies, one taught to observe and analyze reactions to emotions or events. Yet in this case, analysis or observation, let alone comprehension, flew out the window as the experiencing itself was so intense. Talk about being in the moment, I could not have been in any moment other than the one this energy induced.

We were a group of four in the car. In the front seat ahead of me, was a 20-year-old, named Chris with clairvoyant abilities. Perhaps noticing my behavior, he kept repeating to me, "Go with it. Don't fight the energy, let it flow."

What flow? This thing was way beyond the word energy. I thought I knew what energy was. But this was so intense and incomprehensible and I was so scared, it seemed like my spine contained all the earthquakes that had ever happened on Planet Earth.

Chris kept talking to me to prevent me panicking, leading me through some breathing exercises which I really couldn’t focus on. I could barely listen to his words.

And then all of a sudden, I was spun in a swirl of nothingness, vibrating, glowing spine and hands. All was contained in the most extraordinary sensation of vast dark nothingness including my being nothing. The peace of nothingness made me feel like I was everything, even though the word peace still contained something and the darkness had light in it, too. I sat there in this nothing with everything contained in it. I was conscious of the car and the people in it, waiting for me. The thought crossed my mind that I might be dead, but I didn't care a bit. I was there not wanting to leave this nothing-everything state. It seemed to last an eternity. At the same time, it didn't feel like time at all, as if I was a piece of consciousness hanging inside this nothing-everything and I could just be "It."

Then I heard Chris' voice calling me back, saying, "You have to come back now, you have to come back now." But my little piece of consciousness, this tiny flickering light had no intention of going anywhere, only staying there. But Chris kept calling me back, his voice insisting, finally entering my space of consciousness.

He asked me to look at my body in my mind's eye. I still couldn’t speak and I had no intention of coming back to whatever there was to come back to. But Chris kept insisting, COME BACK NOW, so I peeked at the possibility that I had a body and all of a sudden I was back in the car with the people around me and my hands vibrating at full speed and I was not pleased at all to be back there.

It was completely dark by then. The driver started the car. Someone offered me another piece of banana. As I heard the engine starting I managed to mutter, “But I still want to see a wolf, I really would like to see a wolf."

Why would I want to see a wolf after all this? Especially as the energy was still streaming through my spine and hands, but with less discomfort now.

Five minutes into the drive with the sky ink dark and an amazing luminescent moon above us, shedding light on the road, the driver stopped the car suddenly. A majestic lone, yet very skinny silver wolf, came out of the shadows of the dark trees and approached us. He kept himself a short distance from the car, but he stared me straight in the eyes. The passengers in the car waited and watched, holding their breath, watching the wolf staring me in the eyes. I couldn't think, I could barely breathe, I couldn't move my hands as they were vibrating so intensely. A timeless moment between us...I was completely lost in the golden hue of his wild eyes.

In those eyes my consciousness was his consciousness, my spirit, his spirit, we were one and inseparable, and all the rest was void. Then the wolf moved around the car and came to the window where I was sitting and looked straight at me. I felt a tinge of fear as a thousand ancestral stories of wolves rose up to my consciousness. The second the fear came to the surface, I sensed that he knew my fear and he immediately moved back to his original place and the looking into each other’s eye continued.

According to my friend David, this lasted twenty minutes (I had no sense of time) until a car came up behind us and our driver went on forward so the wolf would not get hurt.

There are very few wolves left in Yellowstone and it is very hard to see one. Wolves rarely walk alone. One isn't supposed to look at wild animals in the eyes.

The energy stayed with me two days, I couldn't undress by myself or hold a tooth brush on my own that night. In fact, I couldn't touch anything as I had the clear sense that if I did, it would burn up...

Then, after two days, it receded and I was able to resume normal activity, but I was shaken to the core of my being.

What was THIS?

It came back a few days later and since then has taken on many other forms and has completely changed my life.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Kundalini and God

Back in the 50s when I was young, bars and taverns featured philosophical discussions in which showing off your vocabulary and your syntactical prowess played a large part. Mastery of debating and spoken language was important. Perhaps we had fewer distractions — no iPads, no Internet, no Netflix, no Kindle Fire, no TV remotes. You had to get up, walk across the room to change the channel. Pretty much a linear world. Books opened on page one and proceeded to the last page, cumbersome LP records loaded, then played from track one to the end. No hopping around, no random channel zapping.

Did this paradigm affect our train of thought, our self-expression? Probably. I remember formal discussions, often centered on theology — God vs. no God, free will vs. predetermination, life and afterlife, — often quoting Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Voltaire, Bertrand Russell, and other sources, many of whom had been dead for hundreds of years. We were closer to classical literature then, closer to formal expression and grammar. We took pains to use "few" correctly, instead of lumping paucity under the all-inclusive "less." Not only did we discuss in bars, impromptu forums were everywhere: around campfires, on trains, in schoolyards and campuses, even in Army barracks.

During one discussion I remember fading into a kind of beer-soaked reverie, a moment of clairvoyance in which I was a separate entity outside myself, watching the words come out of my mouth, people’s arms waving, beer being swigged. It was as if I was a ventriloquist’s dummy someone else was manipulating. Yes, it was me talking, but the words weren’t really mine; I was a mouthpiece for something I’d heard or read. I felt a shudder, as if I was, and had always been, involved in a vain search for recognition, a desire to be taken seriously, in spite of the second hand nature of my words.

I wondered if anyone had answers. Or were we simply verbal shadow boxers, some more clever than others, aimlessly repeating without any empirical basis to our thoughts? Were we merely casting opinions, hoping others would somehow fall under the spell of our words?

There had to be another way of exploring these issues. Endless discussion around beer-laden tables was not it. Quoting the cognoscenti led to nothing. But what way was there? And if there was a way, was it worth pursuing?

Whatever it was, instinctively I knew I would have to find it myself, go it alone. I would have to step outside groupthink and conventional wisdom, stop repeating what someone else thought or how someone else had rationalized the existence or non-existence of God.

My search led me to Yoga and Kundalini, back to the very essence of my Being, like the following Tagore poem suggests, coming back to where I started:
The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.
I came out on the chariot at the first gleam of light, and pursued my voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.
It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself, and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.
The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.
My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said 'Here art thou!"
The question and the cry 'Oh, where?' melt into into tears of a thousand streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance 'I am!'
Activating Kundalini in 1973 was serendipitous, but unintentional, in that, yes, I was meditating, but at the time, I had never heard of Kundalini. I stumbled into it as a result of my meditation practice. I didn't really understand what might happen should my meditation practice succeed. Back then, it wasn't like it is today; there was very little information on Kundalini and I didn't even start looking for it until my awakening happened because I didn't know what to look for.

Forty years later I now understand the futility of polemics. The only thing that matters is experience, and what you see, hear, and feel during your experience. Reading won’t get you there. Neither will science, law, education, religion, money, or good works. If they worked, we’d all be illuminated.

Kundalini takes no position on God; it merely connects you to the energy continuum. Trouble is people (very intelligent people) will see you as an advocate of religion, despite the fact that Kundalini is at once agnostic and ecumenical. To activate it you do not have to follow rituals or say prayers. No invocations, no learning of doctrine, no chanting the names of Saints.

There are no cultural, no language, no geographical barriers to activating Kundalini. No religious prerequisites either. An individual can do it if he/she is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu. Or none of the above — a person without religious affiliation. Once I realized this, I said to myself, Hey, this isn’t religion; this is science, albeit a kind of self-empiricized science that most people won’t recognize.

Unfortunately, one of the constraining factors around Kundalini is that, once an experience like this (a Kundalini activation) happens, one looks around for verification and support, and the only place one finds it is in Hindu, Taoist, and/or Buddhist texts. So the initiate throws in his/her lot with Eastern religions...for a while, at least. But if he/she starts to examine the issue as I have over the past 40 years since my Kundalini activation, he/she sees that what happened to him/her could happen to anyone. And he/she begins to see the scientific ramifications of his/her experience, begins to realize Kundalini is neurobiology.

The danger is getting so carried away with religious fervor that you miss the science. It leads to getting tainted with the kiss-of-death Spirituality label. There is a term that describes this work but it’s not spirituality, it’s Metaphysical.

What’s the difference? you ask. Spirituality has become a cliché. Ask 50 people to write down a one-sentence definition of spiritual and you get 50 different, contradictory answers. The word has no meaning. Metaphysical, on the other hand, is clear: it means beyond the physical.

Good Fences Make good neighbors
The Mind can be a Prison
So be careful. Just because you feel a religious fervor on awakening Kundalini, don’t say you spoke with God or saw Him if you didn’t. For instance, perhaps, you saw a white light, but don't assume that God is somehow in the light, not an anthropomorphic representation, that is. God IS there, just as God IS everywhere. The God I'm talking about, however, is as much the consciousness contained in the Energy Continuum as it is You in your self-realized state.

Try to catalog your experience scientifically. Include only the realities you see and hear. Yes, there is an Energy Continuum, but just because you now perceive and are part of it doesn’t mean that you have to embellish it. That only does a disservice to those who are trying to gain mass critical acceptance for Kundalini. Yes, the Energy Continuum is wonderful, like Disneyland to a child, but place yourself in it accurately. Don’t get labeled as a spiritualist. At the very least, step back from your experience to evaluate it. Is it a scientific experience or a religious one? It’s got to be one or the other; it can’t be spiritual, because the word has no meaning. If religious best describes it, realize you get nowhere. People will call it spiritual and lump you in with fundamentalists and fanatics. If metaphysical best describes it, then it’s scientific, because metaphysics is the science of that which lies beyond the physical. Never forget Kundalini is a direct result of physical activity. Consciousness rising out of mechanical pieces and parts, namely our breathing apparatus and our sexuality — neurobiology at its most potent.

So, if you come out spraying a lot of new age mumbo-jumbo, everyone you talk to will be thinking it’s all in his/her mind. Don’t give them the satisfaction of lumping you in with religions based only on faith or spiritual cults based on accepting someone else’s arbitrary opinions. Try relating it to the real world. You’ll find there’s no separation. They flow into one another — the physical into the metaphysical.

Just because you can’t furnish an empirical proof that science accepts today, doesn’t mean your experience isn’t real. In time it will be empirically proven, once we have the tools and/or the means to do so.

Today, we have the nouveau atheists, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, who carry on about God and no God. More words, cleverly put together. It’s still only opinion. And it’s beside the point. They are talkers, not doers. And metaphysical knowledge cannot be gained by talking.

Do they have a case? Absolutely, their arguments about the limits of religion are correct; everyone should read their books. Accepting anything on faith is wrong minded. But they add no empirical evidence to the matter, just more rationalization.

Ask yourself: Why do neurobiologists ignore Kundalini? If they're really investigating the neurological effects of biology, shouldn't they be investigating the most powerful means of enhancing the brain? Should they really be saying the only way to study the brain is from the outside-in, not the inside-out?

Whether it’s from the side of religion or the side of science, it’s only so much talk. No one knows without doing. The problem with doing is there’s a tendency is to overdo. To get carried away with religious fervor when it’s really a scientific experiment you’ve just lived through, one that took place in the laboratory of your body.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Broken Rosary

I’ve always been either madly in love with God, or hated Him with a passion. The only thing I’ve never been is indifferent.

My love story started when I was nine. My extended family had come together at my grandfather’s funeral after his sudden death. At that time, little did I know that death in its finality has a way of opening a spiritual doorway for the living. All I knew was something terrible had happened and everyone was talking about God.

In the darkened rooms of my grandfather’s house, God’s name was whispered in desperate prayer, lamented too, even cursed outright. The house had become a revolving door to priests with their spiritual reassurances, “It’s God’s will.”

And visitors, with their teary-eyed condolences, “Dada, is with God now.”

“Who was this God?” I wondered. This seemingly benevolent being who had come down on my family like a tornado, leaving grief and heartache in its wake. And yet, somehow, it was a good thing.

Day by day my fascination grew and one day, after listening to another story about God’s awesomeness, I finally asked my aunt, “Who is this God?”

And, most importantly, “How can I meet Him?”

Handing me a 108-bead rosary made of Holy Basil wood, she told me if I repeated the name of Krishna one million times on it, I would see God.
Holy Basil Wood
The Broken Rosary

I believed my aunt. I completely, 100% believed her. At nine, I could barely wrap my head around the number one million. All I knew, was it was a really big number and I had to get there fast.

The family soon dispersed and slowly settled back into the routine of daily life. The God talk ceased but my communication with Him had just begun. As my parents slept, I stayed awake, furiously repeating Krishna’s name on my precious rosary at a speed that would put an auctioneer to shame. One million was a really big number and I had to get there fast.

I was so compulsive in my quest to meet God that chanting became a nightly ritual. One morning, my mother found me bawling. I cried to her that all my efforts to reach a million had been squandered. By mistakenly falling asleep the previous night and missing a chanting session, my count had reset back down to zero. She smiled and reassured me that it all still counted and I should continue my practice. That I did, with even more determination.

As years passed, two things happened. The speed of my chanting slowed down and I fell hopelessly in love with Krishna. In meditation I would savor His name and feel it flow through the cells in my body. My breath became barely perceptible; time had no meaning. A white light appeared in my mind’s eye with an image of Krishna in the center. Maybe He’d felt my yearnings or was amused by this little girl’s crush. It did not matter, for when I closed my eyes, He was there.

Scientists claim meditation stimulates neuroplasticity which rejuvenates the brain. Gurus preach that it gives the practitioner special supernatural powers called “siddhis.” From my own personal experience, both are correct. Meditation improves the brain’s cognitive ability and unleashes its latent potential. Science has only scratched the surface of the brain’s potential.

Through meditation, my math skills improved drastically as did my memory. I also believe it kept me sane during a tumultuous childhood characterized by warring parents. Meditation enhanced my intuition and manifestation ability. The one thing it did not heighten was my discernment. Discernment comes only through life experience.

The “siddhi” of manifestation is close to the law of attraction that states you call into actuality all your desires either consciously or subconsciously. Combine this ability with the lack of discernment and you have a recipe for a very unusual life path.

That’s how I found myself on a plane to Moscow at the age of 18. I wanted to attend med school, only not in my home country, India. That longing steered my life to the Soviet Union where I lived for seven years, studying medicine in Russian. The Universe gave me exactly what I’d asked for. Clearly, I hadn’t been very specific.

The Soviet Union was the land of many firsts for me. For the first time I lived away from home in a tiny dorm room shared by roommates from countries I could barely identify on a map. I dissected my first cadaver and auscultated my first patient. I tasted my first meatball, drank my first sip of alcohol. I fell in love for the first time and felt the sting of my first rejection. And, for the first time, I stopped meditating for days in a row — my mind filled with scientific facts, to do lists and skepticism. The white light in my mind’s eye disappeared, along with the image of Krishna, and I didn’t even notice.

Seven years later I returned to India, feeling like a stranger, as stifled by traditional Indian values as India was unimpressed by the cynic I’d become. Sometimes I would rant at Krishna for making me unhappy. After a year of struggling to fit back in, I left India once again for America, this time as a runaway.

When you run, you never outrun the issues you’re running from. I tried to conform to the American way, but somehow I never felt quite at home. No matter how well I did in my medical career or how many friends I had, something was missing. Krishna had fallen off the radar. The only time I communicated with Him was when I threatened to never speak with Him again unless He fixed some life issue I was going through. Somehow He always did.

Even though I did not see it, Krishna kept in touch with me. He manifested Himself through actions so subtle that in their effortlessness they were never attributed to divine intervention. Like the time I walked into a dying patient’s room and diagnosed her rare condition without any data to support my diagnosis. That moment saved her. Or the time when my car skidded on ice and I missed a head-on collision with a semi by a hair’s breadth. That moment saved me.

My life in America seemed perfect on paper. But only on paper. I’d read and closely followed all the instructions in the manual of life that were supposed to bring me happiness, but it continued to elude me. I’d become just another spoke, turning in the wheel of society. Eventually, I had enough. I was miserable and my soul cried out to Krishna.

One spring, in my search for answers I decided to try something different and found myself driving to a shaman. I’d run across his information online and scheduled an appointment. Doubts and fears about the absurdity of this situation filled my mind: A physician driving to a shaman to find happiness. Right!

I got on his table and he started working on me. Theta healing is what he called it. I don’t know what the shaman did or how he did it, all I know is an hour and a half later, I got off his table and for the first time in my life my mind was completely void of thought. The past did not matter and the future was not mine to worry about. My mind had come to a grinding halt and I stood in the present moment, in the NOW. Energy started rising up my spine and my body contracted in waves of pleasure. I didn’t question it, or resist. I felt as though I was noticing life for the very first time. My eyes were finally open. I got home and stared at the ocean for hours in awe. I felt an incredible feeling of love, and realized the fundamental essence of life is love. I sat for hours in the stillness of being. Nothing had changed and yet everything had changed. I had awakened.

I would be a liar if I claimed to have found a happy ending at that moment and never looked back. I looked back plenty over my life. Awakening is a process. You’re never quite done. You awaken over and over again as you burn through conditioning. I had built a fortress around myself with bricks of false beliefs and old traumas plastered together with pain. The moment of awakening kicked open the door, but there was still work to be done. All my life, Krishna’s light has filtered through the cracks and crevices. As bricks toppled over, more light entered.

I burned the manual of life. The should be, has to be, must be were the source of my misery. There are really no rules and no way life is supposed to be. There is nothing to reach and no place to go. Life is about experiencing the journey.

Slowly, I crawled back into Krishna’s lap and dusted off my rosary. Universal knowledge started trickling through during meditation and it became easier and easier to let go. I started understanding the metaphors in spirituality and the fundamentals of science. They say the same things about life and existence even though their languages are so different. One poetic, the other formulaic. I understood that the brain is an inhibitor keeping us asleep. Through meditation it can be trained and unlocked. It holds many secrets.

I yearned to see the image of Krishna in my mind’s eye as I had in my childhood. That is the intention I put forth at a meditation group, one evening, as I jokingly recounted to the group how as a child I had blindly believed I would see God once I had counted one million. My intention was to see Krishna, even as a fleeting image. As I settled down to meditate my rosary snapped in my fingers. I brushed this off as a random event, even though the other practitioners joked that maybe I’d finally reached my million.

I closed my eyes and heard a pop inside my brain. Then everything dissolved into brilliant white light. My being had no more barriers. There was no body, no mind and there was no me. Time had no meaning. I could have been there for a second or for eternity. The I-Me had become one with the I AM. The light was conscious, intelligent and It was everywhere, in every single atom of the Universe. It was the Universe. I dissolved into the Omnipresence of God — The Creator, Brahman, the I AM. Finally, the drop had returned to the ocean and I had become one with Krishna.

A few days later, still reeling from my experience, I picked up my broken 108-bead rosary and counted the beads on each side of the breakage. On one side there were 27 beads and on the other 81. Both numbers add up to 9. I’m born on Nov 9th and I was 9-years-old when I started using my rosary. Nine is also the number of completion!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Karma Yoga – Every Action is an Offering to the Divine

Karma Yoga. The easy definition is "Yoga of action." Seeing the divine through one's actions. Karma means an act. The popular definition of karma, as understood by most people is "the action-reaction sequence that we set in motion through our actions." Each action has a consequence. Another definition I found here is, "Karma, put simply, is the cumulative positive or negative result of your thoughts, actions and reality creating as that result affects your present reality." Karma yoga attempts to avoid bad karma and uses right action or good karma to achieve union with the absolute.

Of all the methods used to achieve Yoga, I find Karma Yoga to be the most multi-faceted and complex. The simple definition — do each action with detachment and give the fruits to the divine — does not do it justice. There are several different levels and varieties of actions, depending on our approach to them and what we hope to achieve by those actions.

It must be understood, first and foremost, that each action, right from the moment we open our eyes in the morning, brush our teeth, drink coffee or juice, all the way to the end of the day when we close our eyes and go to sleep, each action has a consequence. We set in motion a cascade of events that stem from that action. Some consequences are trivial and others have a significant impact to our lives in the future.

Depending on:
    •    What we choose to do,
    •    How we choose to do it,
    •    What we choose to avoid...
...we are effectively setting a course for the journey that is the rest of our life. Everything is fluid. My actions today decide my future ten years down the road. What I choose to do, right or wrong, brings more of the same in my life.

After my kundalini awakening, I started seeing my actions as ripples in a pond. When we drop a pebble in still water, that spot becomes the center of a circle formed by ripples propagating outwards. Drop two pebbles a foot apart and you create two circles that meet. That is good representation of my karma as it propagates into the world and interweaves with the karma of others. I became aware that each action needs to be performed keeping in mind the events I set in motion.

Until my awakening, I lived a carefree existence. I never gave much thought to what I was doing beyond fitting in and doing what was expected of me. Without knowing it, I had accumulated a lifetime of repressed trauma and deepened the false identity my ego had created. When the energy started working on my mind, I learned a few things about karma. Here is a list:

What Goes Around Comes Around

First, the negative. This is more important, because once we understand how to stop the accumulation of negative karma, we have overcome a big obstacle. There are two main forms of karma in life. How we behave with others and how we respond to others' behavior towards us.

Avoid Harmful Actions
The right action will bring me rewards, the wrong action will create misery in my life. If I am a spiritual person that desires divine grace, but as a co-worker I back stab colleagues, abuse my subordinates, create ill will towards relatives and friends and hope that an hour of praying will overcome those event-cascades, then I am deluding myself. What goes around comes around. It was true when it was first said and it will  remain true always. Remember this about karma yoga: avoid harmful action. You do not want to dodge the boomerang when it's coming back at you.

During the cleansing that followed my awakening, one thing was clear. I could not hide anything from the energy. It sees everything. It wanted to cleanse me, rid me of the misery I collected by my past actions. Glib rationalizations that I fed myself, fooled me into believing I was innocent and had done no wrong. This doesn't fool the intelligent energy. If you are in denial, your actions have been stored in some part of your psyche.

When the time comes, you will face those fears, that anger, that guilt and once resolved, you will be cleansed. This process is very traumatic. It's best to weigh the consequences of each action beforehand. In purgatory or the throat chakra, the cleansing process is long and painful. The energy is simply removing blockages, not trying to torment you. You create the torment by being unwilling to see the cleansing for what it is. It's a blockage is because the conscious mind has suppressed it deeply.

Some things cleanse easily, others take time and your ego resists their removal because it does not want to accept itself as weak. It has inflated itself at the cost of the truth. Now that the truth is revealed, the ego is deflated, your selective memory of its "exalted" status wiped clean. For that to happen, you must revisit your life as it was actually lived.

What Others Do to Me is Their Karma, How I Respond is my Own

We live in a world of cutthroat competition — win-at-all-costs, live-and-let-die rat races. Most people are programmed to "bring you down a notch" for simply "being too good," "acting like you are better than others" which are simply their rationalizations for the resentments they feel towards your success or talents.

This kind of strife is unavoidable, but post-awakening, your reactions to others' behavior are never automatic. Why? Because post-awakening, you are more sensitive to what is hurtful. You understand that by responding in kind, by being vengeful or vindictive, you sink deeper into negativity.

When someone harms me and I feel I have to respond with something hurtful, it creates a never-ending cycle of karmic give and take.

We cannot control the actions of others. So we have only one course: choosing the appropriate response. This isn't easy. Most often, we react without thinking, allowing our emotions to filter incoming messages — be they words, attitudes, or body language. When we let our emotions evaluate our interlocutor's intent, we usually get it wrong and respond irrationally. This is a dangerous state. At its most volatile, it can lead to violence. And it cannot be undone. So we suffer the karmic consequences of our own irrational states. You involved your karma instead of walking away or redirecting your emotions.

There is always a choice. An automatic tit-for-tat reaction is not the only option. How you respond decides whether your soul accumulates bad karma from an exchange. If you only defend yourself, take appropriate action to remove yourself from the situation and then move on, you come out clean with no regrets. You have prevented yourself from being in a downward karmic spiral.

Karmic cycle
The Brick You Throw Comes Back at You
Now the positive. Once we've learned to avoid bad karma, how do we modify our actions to get closer to the divinity within, thus creating a better fate for ourselves?

Whatever is Worth Doing is Worth Doing Well
You are given just one lifetime as yourself. It lasts between 80 and 90 years on average. That is a very short period of time. Each action matters because it sets the course for your future. Through your actions, you have the power to become a skilled artist, musician, athlete or create a business empire, or you can choose to fritter away the time with gossip, bringing negativity into your life and others' lives.

One set of actions will create a positive future that aligns you with the greater good. The other makes you a miserable curmudgeon. Your choice. 

When I choose a pursuit and do it with passion, giving every ounce of my attention, trying to get better with each passing moment, I end up learning about myself. If I can't hit a perfect golf shot each time, I get impatient and frustrated. As long as I stay in that state of agitation, I won't be able to improve that shot. So I learn to reign in my unruly mind. I learn to keep trying new methods. I learn more and more about who I am and what my limitations are as well as what my strengths are. It becomes a journey of self-realization using golf as a means.

Stay Detached from Pride or Disappointment

If I "win" a promotion and someone else "loses" one, by choosing to see it as a "win" for myself and the other person as a "loser" and gloating at my apparent victory, I set up a comparative paradigm which is bound to create a sense of loss when the other person gets some other reward that I have not received. In an absolute sense, nothing has happened. Just people living their lives. I choose to set myself up for future disappointment by gloating at someone's perceived loss. Karma balances itself. Where there is a high, there will be a low. Best not to latch on to the sense of "victory" which is fleeting and choose to see each incident as one step in a long continuum of personal improvement unaffected by others' success or loss.

Karma is instant. The act of creating a win-lose scenario in my mind sets up future disappointment. If, on the other hand, I take my promotion with humility and offer praise to the divine for my good fortune, not comparing it to someone else, I remain unaffected by him or her getting promoted as well. In fact I can actually be happy for that person and share their joy. I perform my actions and stay detached from the outcome. I avoid the highs and lows and recognize them for what they are. Illusions created by the ego.

Offer All Actions to the Almighty
See him as the do-er and yourself as simply the witness. One of the problems we face is the mind's tendency to create worries and fears about things that are not our current concerns. I may be taking a walk in a park and I am thinking about my bills, about how I am going to finish a project at work. After my awakening, this clamor of thoughts grew to a crescendo. One method I found very useful was to mindfully finish a task and surrender all thoughts about it with gratitude to the divine and then moving to the next thing. When I leave my house, I let go of all that I was doing there and move to the next task. When I am driving my car, I simply focus on that task.

Surrendering everything to the divine helps to foster a sense of gratitude at being given the chance to live a wonderful life. If one is grateful for what one has received, there is very little time left to complain and whine and be miserable. If I choose to see what I have and be thankful for it, naturally, my mind is cheerful. If I choose to obsess on what I do not have, no matter what I receive, it is never enough. This is the ego playing games with me. Feelings of lack, of disappointment, of not having enough create those circumstances. Thoughts of abundance and gratitude at the gifts you have received bring more of that. Your choice. Your mind is powerful and sets course for anything you program it for.

This is a complex and intriguing topic; I have only skimmed the surface. The take-away? Your actions and how you approach each moment decides your fate. Choose wisely.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spiritual Awakening: The Result of an Innocent Heart, not a Clever Mind

Like a moth drawn irresistibly to the light, I have been drawn every other Sunday to the Satsangs which are given by the spiritual teacher Mooji and broadcast live over the Internet. An inexplicable fascination finds me sitting at my computer, connecting in. Satsang is the name given to discourses with a spiritual teacher which are meant to accelerate the process of spiritual awakening by burning everything that we are not. Satsang is a fire that burns away those elements in us that prevent us from emerging.

I have been listening to Mooji for a couple of years now and last year I traveled to London where he was giving these Satsangs because I wanted to ask him a question. Something drew me to him. I only intended to attend one hour of the two-hour Satsang, but even though I put my hand up every time he asked if anyone wanted to speak, he didn't pick me. Because I really wanted to ask my question I stayed for the next hour. Finally, when I had almost given up hope, he saw my hand up and beckoned for me to come and sit on the stool that was opposite him.

spiritual teacher Mooji
The first thing he said to me was, "I've seen you; you have been trying for a while!" I was so focussed on what I wanted to ask it didn't register that he had seen me trying to be noticed. I find speaking in public challenging and this time was no exception. I bent down to take the mic that was on the ground and then not looking at him so that I could formulate my question clearly, I asked, "How do you share spiritual experiences when they are so subjective?" I asked some more about such experiences and when I finally looked up at him, I noticed that he was gazing at me intently.

He said, "First, discover if there is a YOU there to share."

I knew exactly what he meant He was talking about the difference between the you of the mind and the YOU of no-mind. Words that come from the mind are very different in their tone and impact than words coming from no-mind. Often words from the mind are bound in ego and motivated by a desire for results. Words from no-mind are motiveless, they come from the depths of nothingness.

Mooji also said to me, "Don't shy away from sharing, but don't be in too much of a hurry to share." He continued, "Sometimes the mind wants to share and sometimes the deeper power doesn't want to share and then a subtle choice must be made."

I have often thought back to these words, especially when I feel a strong urge to speak, to resist the pull to speak, while examining which part wants to speak and why. And as the times when I have kept silent while wanting to speak and share have increased, so has the degree of peace and contentment I feel with myself and life also increased. That peace has come from the heart and not the mind, which is why I believe that spiritual awakening is a result of an innocent heart, not a trained mind.

It is so easy to train the mind on the spiritual path. What I saw from watching the last Satsang is that the mind grasps something of the nature of spiritual awakening and plays with it in a different way. Except for one person, everyone who asked Mooji a question was aware that the mind and its thoughts was not who he/she really was and there was an urgency, and in some cases a desperate plea, for Mooji to take away their minds. This is nothing more than the mind becoming chameleon-like to avoid being exposed. The mind trying to become spiritually awakened is like a thief turning detective to catch itself — the thief. A game going nowhere.

The innocent heart produces the spontaneous, profound shift of consciousness that characterizes spiritual awakening. Drop the mind and come into the heart.

Jesus said, "Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." He meant "like little children" in the sense of innocence with a heart filled with wonder, not child in an immature way, but childlike as opposed to childish. Spiritual awakening is through the heart, not through the mind, no matter how clever the mind thinks it is.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Raw Foods and Kundalini

The Kundalini/Raw Foods connection is based on Prana, the natural Life Force substance we need to perfect our beings during our life on Earth. To live, we extract Prana from our environment. The Chinese word for Prana is Chi; the closest English equivalent for this substance is Life Force Energy. If we don't get enough Prana, our bodies begin to degenerate prematurely. Very simply, to reach our potential, our bodies need to ingest only the purest elements — pure food, pure water, pure air.
Diet, not pills, may still be the best bet for brain power
Prana exists in all living elements. Due to social conditioning, however, most people know very little about Prana, Chi, or Life Force Energy, and still less about how to extract it from the environment. Does Prana really exist, you may wonder? Perhaps, you aren't aware that people who were weighed just before dying actually lose about six ounces when weighed again the moment after they die. What accounts for this weight loss? Researchers believe it reflects the loss of our vital Life Force Energy, leaving the body at the instant of death.

Prana Exists in all things Organic
Extracting Prana
And, as Einstein proved, Energy, whether it's derived from a light socket or a nuclear reactor, is Matter, and matter is measurable. Our "vibrational essence," our Prana is measurable. In effect, human beings are energy intensive mechanisms; we extract it, we store it, and we use it up. The object is not to squander it uselessly. So how do we extract Prana from our surroundings in its purest form?

Raw Foods contain Prana. So eating Raw Foods is a great way to obtain substantial quantities of it. Why Raw Foods? Raw Foods contain living enzymes and are highly alkaline in content and nature. If, like many in modern life, you can't be 100% raw, you can still consume a mostly alkaline diet. Why doctors don't test for pH levels at the same time the nurse takes your temperature and blood pressure is beyond me? It's the easiest way of determining chemical imbalance, and maintaining overall health. Acid foods lead to a stressful lifestyle; alkaline foods are full of Pranic energy that fight stress.

People Lining up in front of Paula Deen's Savannah, GA Restaurant
Even more Prana exists in pure air. The problem is we lack the correct breathing techniques for extracting it. Diaphragmatic Deep Breathing (DDB) — and its key technique, the backward-flowing method — is an acknowledged alchemical process for distilling Prana from the air we breathe. Unfortunately, information about the backward-flowing method is harder to get than information about Raw Foods. Not only has there been an information blackout, the whole idea of meditation is counter-intuitive. "Sit quietly in a room, contemplating my navel? Fat chance! Especially when all my buddies are at the gym building up their Abs. I don’t care how much it costs; I need to get into the gym!" Sorry, that’s not the way health, or longevity, works.

backward flowing method and raw foods
Kundalini Meditation (GFM) is the most powerful exercise on the planet and the backward-flowing method is its most powerful technique. The goal of the backward-flowing method is the permanent activation of the Kundalini~Life Force. The basis of GFM is the backward-flowing method. Taoists refer to this process as the microcosmic orbit. The guiding intention of these techniques is action through non-action, or less is more. This is also counter-intuitive, that an action based on stillness and deep breathing could actually be more powerful than the strenuous efforts undertaken in the noisy, energy-depleting atmosphere of your local gym.

But even the most powerful mechanisms are vulnerable from within. Yes, you can be well on your way to activating Kundalini, and yet, for lack of proper diet, fall short. Why? Quite simply, you may be slowly poisoning yourself with the wrong foods. It happened to me. Even after I'd activated my Kundalini, I began to have trouble with digestion as I grew older. I wondered why? Why was I constipated? Why did I need supplements and colonics? One day I heard about Raw Foods and instinctively knew it was the answer. Even when I can't eat 100% raw, I'm always alkaline-conscious, making sure I keep a high alkaline pH. When I started eating Raw Foods, it kicked my Kundalini into high gear. I felt light on my feet once again. Raw Foods and Kundalini — perfect partners for distilling Prana!

If you do nothing else, keep tabs on how you use your energy. As The Secret of the Golden Flower reminds us:
"An ancient adept said: ‘Formerly, every school knew this jewel, only fools did not know it wholly.’ If we reflect on this, we see that the ancients attained long life by the help of the seed energy present in their own bodies, and did not lengthen their years by swallowing this or that type of elixir. But the worldly people lost the roots and clung to the treetops."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Jnana Yoga – Dropping Illusions and Seeing the Real Self

In doing research for this post I chanced on a beautiful definition of Jnana Yoga on this site:
"Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge — not knowledge in the intellectual sense — but the knowledge of Brahman and Atman and the realization of their unity. Where the devotee of God (Bhakti Yogi) follows the promptings of the heart, the jnani uses the powers of the mind to discriminate between the real and the unreal, the permanent and the transitory."
Jnana or Gyana means knowledge. Using the mental apparatus to reason through several levels of ignorance, to seek the true self during moments when the mind lapses into automated and false behavior. Knowing when the senses have allowed the false identity to stray away from a balanced state of self-awareness. It is very easy to get lost in the incessant chatter of thoughts that make you forget your reality and involve you in conversations with itself and in repetitive behavior. In fact, we all wander in this state until we make a focused attempt to reveal the inner self.

The first part of the approach is negative, the process of neti neti - not this, not that. Whatever is unreal — that is, impermanent, imperfect, subject to change — is rejected. The second part is positive: whatever is understood to be perfect, eternal, unchanging — is accepted as real in the highest sense. 

Fence around reality.
Remove false boundaries and witness the serenity within
Ramana Maharishi used the method of constantly asking himself "Who am I?". Taking a snapshot of the moment and using the question as a means of illuminating the real from the illusory. Nisargadatta Maharaj asserted "I AM," followed by questioning who it was within that said "I AM." Was it the body? No. When a bodypart hurts, I say, "My hand hurts." It is not the real me. The mind is a device that creates thoughts. am I the mind? No. There is an 'I' deeper within that can witness the mind. Not-this, not-that. Over time, one arrives at the true self.

J. Krishnamurti tells an anecdote of the time he was traveling in a car in rural India with a few people who had come to visit him. There was a heated discussion about the nature of awareness, the nature of reality, the conscious mind and perception. Suddenly, the car passed through a herd of goats and the car hit and killed a goat. The occupants of the car were so busy in their discussion about awareness that they were blissfully unaware of this event. The car moved ahead and the people in it kept talking about "being in the moment" and awareness.

This is ironic to the point of being comical, but representative of the vast majority of people. In attempting to understand something intellectually, we miss the chance to live it. If you'd rather spend time talking about awareness when you aren't even aware of the events happening around you, you've missed the point.

Roller Coaster of life
Rushing Through Life Unaware of Reality
We must take care not to allow a method to become routine. The important thing is to be able to work on that method with complete awareness. Most of the time, people choose a method and keep following it, assuming that it will work regardless of their level of attention. People recite the same prayers for years and it becomes part of their routine, losing the impact it had years ago when they first started performing the ritual. Most people are reluctant to change their techniques simply because they believe they have invested spiritual capital and it will yield results because of this perseverance. This is wrong on many levels. It lulls the practitioner into believing he is actually moving closer to spiritual progress while deepening his slumber with the mistaken belief that he is on the way to an awakening. Don't be married to the method, be invested in the outcome, the change brought about in your level of consciousness.

Osho called seriousness "a disease of the ego." His discourses contain vast wisdom, conveyed through wonderful jokes and anecdotes. He made spirituality fun and accessible. The path towards spirituality should make you feel like a burden has been lifted, like you are free. Not like you are bound by rigidity and forced to perform a ritual. Any discipline should come from within. As soon as it becomes a chore or is done without awareness, it is better to explore a new method than to continue on a path of drudgery.

Barriers to the true self
The True Self Cannot be Fenced in
An amusing incident Osho recounts about two brothers who came to meet him at a train station, each brother desiring the mystic spend the night at his house and impart some wisdom to his circle of friends. A fight broke out and the stronger, older brother managed to get a hold of the master's luggage and proceeded to load it in his car. The sight of sibling rivalry for the sake of bragging rights at having a guru stay at their place speaks volumes about the decidedly un-spiritual and egotistic nature of the players involved and rivals in absurdity anything Beckett ever wrote. What makes the incident even more comic is that the older brother was in the habit of saying 'OM' before everything he did.

As he picked up the bags, he said OM. When he shoved his brother aside, he said OM. As he loaded the bags in his car he said OM. This was a habit he had inculcated over years. It is a technique used to create awareness of the here and now. Say OM or I AM before each action and you remember the self, the moment, and that every action has the divine within it. Practiced by the older brother, however, it was just a habit. Something so cut off from his actual behavior that it made him a laughingstock for the people watching this little feud.

This is the opposite of Jnana Yoga. This is plowing further into an ignorance that fools the practitioner, but no one else. To realize the contradiction between the actions performed after he said OM and the intent of saying the word — to get closer to the divine within — was the very purpose of saying it in the first place. As awareness increases, you drop stupid behavior. You stop being fooled by the senses. You stop craving, coveting, hankering, fighting for silly things. Each time you say OM, you wake up from the dream and the diversions created by the senses that always demand more and lead to irrational behavior. Constant inquiry into the real self is aided by saying OM or I AM. That is Jnana Yoga.

If the senses manage to fool you into an illusory state of covetousness, a momentary lapse of reason, the OM is meant to bring you back from the precipice, to bring back stillness and balance. You observe the behavior and take a step back. If saying OM becomes just a force of habit, it serves no purpose other than to ridiculize you in front of onlookers.

One definition of Jnana Yoga is that you learn to see yourself from the point of view of the divine. The same reason orthodox Jews cover their head with a Yarmulke. It is meant to be a constant reminder that God is watching. The same purpose as saying OM before each action. A moment to moment awakening, a closer introspection of the self and a constant discovery of not-this, not-that. Bursting the bubble of illusion and bringing you back to the here and now.