The world is an ashram

2:00 pm

Twilight in Edinburgh

The best part of maintaining an awareness yoga practice is that everything becomes a sadhana, a conscious practice of personal evolution. I just showered, groomed, and dressed in preparation for my work event in one hour with colleagues and clients. I noted how, with awareness-consciousness, even the smallest detail became a practice towards perfection and mastery – even trimming my beard. I noted that there was no vanity in the action. But, rather, a considerate focus on simply respecting myself, and respecting my colleagues and clients. Certainly my employer doesn’t want a slovenly slob to show up for representation. And my client, who may likely be a tad insecure since this is her first company event with us, wants to feel assured that the very best representative of my company is escorting her for the afternoon and evening’s events. In other words, our actions require a perspective of service. Seva. This is what I learned decades ago in the ashram with Baba Muktananda. 

I recall, when I was 19, being in that ashram and noting how it was an encapsulated embodiment of the entire world due to the presence of yoga students from every country on the planet. Today, while standing outside of my hotel here in Miami, the thought came to mind “The world is the ashram.” This is true. The lesson to learn in an ashram are the life skills you take away with you to apply in your daily life after you leave. The situation in this modern age is practicing awareness where you are, with what you got, and whomever you are with. All are reflections of the divine, of the conscious order of creation. God dwells in everyone equally, without discrimination. 

By seeing this connection within yourself, you can witness that divine soul part of another individual. Moreover, by practicing awareness yourself, you witness their soul enlivening in your company, and pushing its way forward into the consciousness of the other. Recall the meaning of the word Yoga – Union. By connecting within yourself, you facilitate and serve humanity through proximity of the others around you. An old prayer we chanted in the ashram used to say “kindle my heart’s flame with thine.” By practicing awareness, you innately become a light in the wilderness for others who are transmigrating through this existence with you. Their soul not only recognizes the awakened flame of the holy spirit within you, but reaches out toward the life, like a hungry moth proceeding toward flame. Each person’s soul yearns to reconnect. It’s our modus operandi. 

As I write this, I’m experience love spontaneously welling up in my heart. I don’t know why other than the simple joy I glean from writing these perceptions from the path. I suppose the love is arising from a sense of gratitude I am experiencing from finding my way back to the path of inner connection. It has been my personal life’s motive since childhood. I always desired to have a deep relationship with God. I am more moved to learn, that, after 50 years of seeking, I find that God has been desiring a deep relationship with me. It’s the best sort of love affair because there is no adultery or cheating involved. My heart is overwhelmed with emotion now, as if each word I write is acknowledged by something deep within me that is simultaneously grateful that I have at long last awakened. I can give God a rest now. LOL. He/She/It can now enjoy a vacation. The best part of that, is, God gets to enjoy that vacation through me. For here I am in Miami for another night, and tomorrow we sail for Haiti and Jamaica. God is pleased to experience its own joy through me. 

Now it is time for me to descend to the lobby to join my colleagues and clients for our work venture. And again – it’s a beautiful thing – work, too, becomes an opportunity to practice sadhana, to do seva – service – to others, my family (though earning money), and experience the divine in a curiously unique manner. Baba used to call this the play of consciousness, the dance of Shiva. He was most definitely correct. 

Love you all. Talk to you later. Peace.

PS: One last thought: Since I’ve enrolled in an 8 year Sadhana, EVERYTHING I do for the next 8 years will be a sadhana, a yoga practice. It’s a wonderful life. I can’t thank Bhagavan and Amma enough for inviting me to join them on this excursion. It’s a great gift, my graduate course in yoga. So far, things are looking up and I am witnessing this magic unfolding of everything I’ve ever read or heard about the experience of the inner journey. This is good stuff, and I’m loving it.

Amen. 

 

Kundalini Kindergarten

Saturday, February 23, 2019 10:002 am.

My meditations are getting deeper with each day, each week. The physical sensations I feel seem to me to be a healing and adjustment to the effects earned by shear laziness in spiritual practice for over a decade. Certainly, for all those years, I thought I was regular meditator, I thought I prayed adequately. The latter is true, however. Though I may have not done much, at the very least I maintained a relatively regular daily conversation with God. I didn’t know who was listening. I would talk, ask, request, and let them do the work. And yet, from the time before the retreat I attended in December and since, I’ve felt that everything has been perfect just as it is, as it has played out. 

When I review my activities and inclinations of the past 14 or so years, I can clearly see that all of those tendencies and desires were things I had to exercise out of my consciousness. These must have been impressions accumulated for lifetimes, and certainly from this incarnation. My desire to party, imbibe alcohol, smoke weed, have sex, procrastinate, and the biggie – to self-indulge in my own pity party for not experiencing fulfillment – all of this was just preparatory stuff for this time. I look now and see that, spiritually, I was only in kindergarten. Actually, it’s as if I had to go through the whole gamut of the corresponding years one spends in primary education – 12 years – to prep for now. Now, I feel that I am in a Master’s academy. 

It is fascinating to consider, that, in the old days in Asia, a student would have to go away and spend this number of years in a monastery or ashram, dedicating that time to intense scriptural and philosophical study, contemplation, meditation, prayer, and the direct tutelage of an enlightened master. Today, one need not go further than their own study, bedroom or living room, because all that needs to be learned externally is accessible by internet, and internally, as it has always been there. 

There was another set of remarks made by Bhagavan in one video that struck a chord. He mentioned how high experiences will come and go, that Kundalini will rise and subside, that all of this is normal. This resonated with me as I do experience these peak moments of feeling in union with creation, accompanied by profound ecstasy and joy, and then it will subside. I experience gentle throbbing in my pineal gland accompanied by an extraordinary, sustained serenity, and this too will subside. He said it’s just part of the process.

The more I contemplated this pattern, it made sense. All of nature’s life force is reflected in an ebb and flow – in our breath, in our blood, in our hydration, and in nature in ocean waves on the surf, in weather changing, in the cycle of sun and moon rising and setting. All of nature flows in a cyclical manner. Kundalini rising and subsiding along with accompanying experience seems to ebb and flow at its own rate. But, the distinction I’m learning through direct observation and experience, is that Kundalini is embodied with consciousness. It is an energy force that is aware of itself. It is, what is known in Christendom, as The Holy Spirit. Kundalini is the hand of God, of creation, exercising itself through our being. Our being is just a function of creation. Hence the age-old philosophical schools that address ego identification as an illusory distraction. Is a flower conscious of its own color or distinction of variety, as a rose or a sunflower? The flowers may be more advanced and enlightened than we.

The sages both old and contemporary all concur that being born into a human incarnation is a rare gift. It seems to be the one outlet of creation that is enabled with the ability to become aware of itself, and to recognize the distinctions that define it. The ego identification is what separates us as “different”, whether it be by race, nationality, religious affiliation, cultural mannerisms, weight, hair and eye color, ancestry, name, etc. Identification with ego’s impressions on the mind and mental faculties is what starts wars, what incites murder, revenge, all the vices and defined set of sins. Our ancestors have advised us for generations to be wary of these deceptions the mind cultivates. Has there been a disconnect in our current era? Has the present generation simply discarded these ancient lessons and words of advice that have been passed on? I see it as an innate tendency borne of the desire for independence. 

By identifying with ego, we interpret personal independence in a variety of manifestations: ignoring our parent’s requests; ignoring established laws and cultural guidelines, etc, unmindful for the reasons that set such regulations in place. Not all such man-made laws are good ones, as we’ve seen in the United States manifested in the legal enslavement of imported peoples, of denying civil rights to many of those same peoples, etc. Jesus addressed this question: Were the laws made for man or man for the law? We need to question, we need to grasp, understand, and continue to advocate for what is right. But it has always required to be done with wisdom. 

As soon as a law is set for the greedy gain of one people, political or religious sway, then the wisdom is left at the doorstep. Wisdom in human decision making must always be paramount and placed on the highest altar. Recognition of wisdom comes from within, beyond the reach of the ego. In ancient times, civic agreement was not predicated on egoic decision. It was made with the collective acknowledgment of the perceived wisdom respectively  arising within each political decision maker. True societies were established in this way. We have just lost our way through time. 

We must regain the ability to be aware through practice of awareness. That is the connection with the creative force, the consciousness that weaves it’s breath through every fiber of this creation – materially, psychologically, spiritually. The ancients gave names to this force to define an experience: Yh-wh, Allah, Paramatma, Brahma, God. Jesus simply called it “Father.” Despite its name, its all the same thing. Our stringent, egoic adherence to our perceived ideology as being the only correct one lacks the needed wisdom on which it is predicated. We need to practice awareness and return to that source again. We can even come up with a new name for it. Because one thing is certain – it is not a fantasy. This life force is very palpably real, and can be known and experienced.

Lately, while I’ve been sitting in meditation, my legs and feet spontaneously have been taking on a walking motion. My muscles seem to assert themselves in such a manner as if to tell me that this beast that I embody needs to walk. This is how conscious life force works. We need to recognize it. By ignoring such signals, that is what has since become dogmatically defined as sin, and then sin has taken on a whole new set of meanings. Sin is nothing more than ignoring the conscious prompting of the holy spirit as it moves within us. Our minds then take it to whole other level, and we feel it is ok to steal our neighbor’s money and possessions, violate them sexually without consent, or take their life. 

But getting back to my meditation, this leg impulse has happened so frequently that it is clearly trying to tell me that I need to walk more, that I need to at least do that to keep my heart and body in shape. It’s not that different than my dogs coming over to where I’m sitting and rest their chin on my arm, awaiting my acknowledgement. They are asking me to take them for a walk. Likewise, the human beasts we inhabit, when we begin to recognize that we are souls simply renting the space for a limited duration, will also tell us when we need to go out for a walk. Or stop eating, or imbibing, or doing things that may be harmful to our respective beast individually. This is how self-mastery is accomplished. 

Now I need to prepare for my work day. I’ll sign in later. 

Peace.

 

Body detox with a side of gelato

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2019. 

Lavender Gelato

The rest of yesterday was a good experience. I arrived at my hotel – East, in Miami – around 5:30pm. I set my luggage in my room, then promptly went out to explore the terrain. The weather is lovely here in Miami – a comfortable, breezy 73 degrees last night, and an equally comfortable 80 degrees today. 

I ventured through the adjacent mall here in Brickell Plaza, looking for a reasonably priced polo shirt, but the lowest price I found was $68.00, so I passed on that. Instead, I went and had an excellent organic veggie burger and a cold-pressed carrot/lime/orange/cayenne juice at a local venue called Dr. Smoods. It was perfect. I considered how much I am enjoying eating less, lighter, and healthier these days, pretty much abandoning my former taste for seafood. I just don’t care to eat creatures anymore. But for me, that’s an easy choice. I only began to eat seafood as a compromise after I married to make things easier on my family and myself, as none of them have vegetarian inclinations. It was ok, but time to move on in the dietary department. 

I’m focused on detoxifying my body, gradually. I made some fresh celery and ginger juice at home this past week, and the positive effects were astonishing. I felt lighter, internally balanced, and noted that my skin had a glow and my eyes seemed wider and brighter. Juicing, I realized, is the way to go, going forward. It is the fountain of youth. 

After eating my burger, I returned to the hotel and got a glass of French rose at one of the bars, and returned to my room. I enjoyed the view of downtown Miami and its network of waterways from my balcony on the 30thfloor. It struck me as a modern Venice. 

I decided to take a walk, not venturing farther than the front of my hotel. From the street, I noticed a Haagen Das store and thought ice cream might be a nice treat. When I got there, the flavors didn’t appeal to me, so I made my way down the hall to Le Roy Rene, the US branch of a French confectionary based in Aix en Provence, which my wife, daughter and I had visited a couple of years ago. This was a great find, and I ordered a Lavender gelato. I was surprised that I liked it. 

I returned to my room with a refill of Rose and watched mini lectures about yoga practice on Youtube. I found some randomly selected topics of interest, and then some offered by my current teacher. True to form, Bhagavan inadvertently would comment on something that seemed to be the right thing to hear at the moment on some prescient concern or topic I’d been questioning. In short, I took away some nice lessons and watched my spiritually awareness expand in just that short time. I guess it would be easy to say that my internal spiritual growth is now so accelerated that I can almost witness the potency as its occurring. 

But then again, this, of course, is what is supposed to happen after receiving diksha. So much of it is evocative of being with Baba Muktananda when I was younger. In fact, I was struck by remarks Bhagavan made that were identical to lessons Baba had taught me 40 years ago. Two that come to mind was Bhagavan’s advice to rise each day before the sun rises over the horizon, to ask for blessings for the day at that time with gratitude, and when you eat, leave your belly half empty. I smiled at the latter, because I have been employing that lesson for the past 40 years since hearing Baba recommend it. Less is more when it comes to meal consumption. 

It was small suggestions like that that reassured me that Bhagavan is a master yogi. The man is simply enlightened, can hone in on the minute nuances of any psychological issue with surgical precision and a simultaneous ease of candor as if it is no big deal. And I – we – are all learning that nothing is a big deal. In one video he was talking about embracing all of your bad habits because there is nothing you can do about it. They are there. If you try to avoid or hide them, they just persist and eat away from the inside. By embracing them fully, for what they are and with awareness and acceptance of them, you initiate the process of being released from their influence. That’s how liberation works. That’s how moksha, mukti gradually comes about. I found this video particularly enlightening. 

After a while, I joined two of my company’s clients from Long Island, a lovely gay couple whose names are both Steve. We refer to them as “The Steves.” The Steves and I have known and fraternized for at least the last five years, often at company functions. The first time we hung out was in Las Vegas. We were all there for a company function at the studio and home of artist Michael Godard. The Steves and I were then the first to arrive at our hotel – the Mandalay Bay resort – finding ourselves in line together for check in. Since then, we’ve become good friends, and last night reinforced that, as I learned they live close to Yaphank, Long Island, where I drove to do some research about two years ago. That trip might be another blog topic at some point.The Steves and I chatted about a good deal of topics, and made for a very enjoyable evening. I did not realize that 4 hours had passed until I asked one Steve the time and it was after midnight. At that point, we said good night, and went to our rooms.

Inner contentment during a Lyft ride

Thoughts on recent experiences while Meditating

Just some thoughts while I recall them. I have noticed that each time I meditate, I feel a variety of moving sensations within my brain. I haven’t been able to define if it’s just the nerve endings on the skin layer over my skull, or if there is something going on with synapse cellular growth within my brain. I am aware that scientific research has conclusively proven that meditation does enhance brain ability and will stimulate previously abandoned neurological waystations within the brain.

All this morning, for example, while I rode in my hired Lyft to the airport, while walking through the terminal, and while sitting at my gate awaiting to board, I felt a massage-like sensation gently pulsating in the area of the pineal gland between my eyebrows. Accompanying that was a very gentle sense of joy and fulfillment – the contentment mentioned in the first part of this entry. 

The other day, I noticed my body just kept wanting to recline and rest, no matter how much I rested anyway. I was curious about why this was happening, as I didn’t really feel fatigued. While laying on my bed for several hours, I noticed how oxygen seemed to almost forcibly flow through my bloodstream. I felt it more pronounced in my legs, my lungs, organs, etc. It was a curious experience. I asked my soul, my Antaryamin, what this was about. Almost immediately I was reminded that I had recently prayed to be healed of any ailment I had of which I wasn’t aware that I had. I actually had this same notion weeks before, when I had a relentless case of the flu for three weeks – a duration I don’t recall having before.

In meditation, I became cognizant that my body was cleansing itself. Of course, all sickness is the body’s effort to cleanse itself of biological invaders, But it is also true that the practice of yoga, while digging deeply into the psyche to help create awareness, simultaneously is digging deeply into our cellular level, eradicating the root cause of those symptoms that prevent us from experiencing our inherently divine nature. 

Typing within a Tetris Cube

2:42 pm  On the flight to Miami. 

An hour to go. I thought of the idea of setting up a new blog. One that will span the forthcoming 8 years of Sadhana. I envision myself and the blog as an aquarium for readers to witness the unfolding transformation that a true sadhana offers. 

As of now, I want to write more, but I can’t seem to do so comfortably. The person sitting to my right has commandeered the central armrest shared between us, and the person in front of me has their seat reclined. I feel like I’m trying to type within a Tetris cube. Or a parallelogram. It’s an interesting experience as I write in a contorted position. How fun it is when you just allow yourself to experience the truth of what is and the way something it is instead of judging and delegating it to expectations of how it should be done. Certainly, I prefer more elbow room and privacy, etc, etc, but being in the circumstances as they are is a celebratory affair, unique and unlike any other. It’s another way that God manifests the varied marvel of his creation. Flowers plants, species come in varied forms. So do our experiences. If we allow experiences to be viewed as another variety in the garden of our life, it makes the way so much more enjoyable. 

I was contemplating the earlier segment about judging. This is such an important component of sadhana. That is, to witness the mind’s tendency to judge. By judging, we limit ourselves from experiencing another person for who or what they are, and potentially deprive ourselves of an invaluable gift or lesson that might be gleaned from non-judgmental interaction. By reacting, by embracing an arising anger, ….lost my train of thought there. Got distracted by observing the activity of another on the plane. It is interesting to watch how the mind wants to drag us down, to drag us into the hell of a situation. That is, at least one aspect of the mind. I believe this is how evil or darkness slips its way into our lives. It cannot be straightforward. It has to be sneaky. This is why the wise author of the book of Genesis depicted Satan as a snake. Deviousness is its hallmark characteristic. 

This same mind and the same thought in the same moment can alternately be experienced as a divinely influenced thought. Meaning, while the dark mind is attempting to distract us with thoughts or notions that are adharmic, negative, unhelpful, unworthy, and unserving, there is in that moment a light, an illumination on a hidden lesson. Sadhana is about seeing those lessons in all their subtle glory. As we enable ourselves to see them through proper practice and effort, they instead move to the fore and become the dominant thoughts of our nature, thus transforming our nature. It’s as simple as that. 

Here is an example. I wrote all that you’ve read while sitting in a contorted position in a crowded airplane. I could have sat here and written a piece that grumbled about everything mentioned in a pessimistic or negative light. Instead, I simply stated the circumstances as facts. It is what it is. And I moved on, focusing instead on the progress in yoga practice on which I’m reflecting. 

3:13 pm

The captain just announced that we’ll be landing in 30 minutes. I’m pretty impressed with American Airlines. This plane is similar to the one on which I returned from the UK in June of 2018. Time to sign off for now, to put away the laptop and prepare to land. 

The Tao of solitude in a busy airport terminal

The 8 year journey, post 1.

First entry – Friday, 2/23/2019 11:19am

It’s funny what a difference a few months of conscious yoga practice can make. I just arrived at the Philadelphia airport, about to catch a flight to Miami for a work weekend, followed by work on the Monsters of Rock cruise. 

In the past, work travel excited me. I used to look forward to squeezing in the available minutes and hours as an opportunity for micro vacations. Though it is not yet noon, I’m aware that tonight I will not have to work. In the past, I may have already found myself parked before a bar and ordering a beer. 

But I find myself completely content. I have no desire for a beer. I have no desire for anything. I find myself instead relishing the simple joy of just living and being in the moment. A beer cannot replace the satisfaction I felt just walking to my departure gate. Instead of purchasing a bottled water, I stopped at a water bottle refill station to fill the empty I brought from home. I have no interest in gorging myself on a Bruegger’s bagel and coffee or a vegetarian Smashburger, if such a thing exists. 

I am learning to once again be mindful in the moment, to surrender to the moment, of wherever my feet and legs have directed me. Though I anticipate events and opportunities to come in the week ahead both while hosting clients tomorrow and on the cruise to follow, I find my mind relatively quiet and desireless. This is a plus. For, in the practice of yoga, it is helpful to witness the gauge of progress in the small things of life. Therein lies the secret. 

A year ago, I went on the same cruise. I’ll post that story soon. Looking back, when I review that saga, though filled with funny moments and interesting anecdotes, I view it as somewhat pathetic. I’m not judging myself. I had a good time. I just don’t feel like the same person now. I see how that 57 year old guy was burning off what may have been the final steam of my partying years. I still don’t judge, because my own experience is now my guru. There is a lesson, for me, to learn by reflecting on my actions. They weren’t bad, weren’t wrong, but just less conducive to the direction I’m presently heading. 

I’ve learned that all those activities, in the bigger picture that yoga unveils, represent somewhat wasted time. Not wholly, though, and specifically because of the lessons and insights I’ve gained. So, in this regard, I am excited for the week ahead simply to see how this awakened being now embodying me will respond in the exact same scenarios. 

Already the tests issue forth. In the terminal here, I had selected a seat in the back row against a wall where it was quiet and I could write. Then, a few minutes ago, a guy talking very loudly on his cell phone sat across from me. It’s not just normal tone, it’s exceptionally loud. When he first sat down, I found myself unable to think. I could see how my instinctual mind was prepared to begin its parade of condescending remarks: Oh, how inconsiderate! What’s with this guy? Doesn’t he know how loud he is? Should I politely ask him to keep his voice down? Surely others are disturbed. But I didn’t listen to these thoughts. I saw them, like a school of fish swimming close to the water’s surface – perceivable and wanting food. I didn’t feed them. 

Instead, I looked at what I needed to do to kind of turn off my hearing and focus on writing this through the sound. Besides, if I think this guy is loud, I’m in for a surprise when I spend a week with a boatload of heavy metal bands and rock n roll fans, with concert sets blaring from every corner of the cruise ship. And there’s my self-ordained sadhana practice for the cruise – how to stay quiet within myself in the midst of loud and attractive noise. It will just be what is, in that moment, just as this good fellow – who is curiously quiet now once I surrendered to being with it – was in the moment a few minutes ago. And who knows? Maybe someone else finds my quiet disturbing. So, who am I to allow my mind to influence my state of being and initiate judgement?

Like my account of the cruise last year, I plan on logging a daily entry of the day’s events. My friend Carol has already contacted me, asking if I’d like to go in on a drink package with her. It’s funny because though I’m aware I did drink last year, I actually have little interest in subjecting myself to the same situation, and have little desire to drink. 

I have noted my desire to drink and dependency on stimulants to feel good beginning to wane. None of those things, which I’ve done for most of my adult life, have provided any of the internal euphoria, contentment, satisfaction and exhilaration that I have experienced since again engaging in a serious, focused daily meditation practice. Of course, I like a beer now and then. What’s shifted is my desire to drink. It doesn’t control me. There’s no need. I can take it or leave it. That’s the difference.

The 8 Year Journey

What happens when an enlightened master of meditation asks you to join him for an 8 year advanced training?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019. 10:45 pm.

In December of 2018, I attended a 3 day advanced yoga retreat at a hotel outside of Washington, DC. I had been practicing yoga and meditation for more than 40 years, beginning when I was about 15 years old, with my interest initially aroused when I was about 14. This most recent retreat included a live Skype link with an enlightened master whom I had first interviewed for my book, Masters Among Us, which I authored and self-published 15 years ago. For a few reasons, I had need to pull that book off the market in 2006, and then I just got busy and never got around to reediting it, until this past year. I’m happy to say the book will soon be available again in the months ahead. 

During my interviews for that book, I became impressed enough with this yoga master to host and organize several introductory and intermediate level courses with representative teachers who had studied with him in India. Many who attended those programs, myself included, had profound experiences of awakening, and, in at least one instance, a woman I know was healed of cancer. 

Having studied earlier in my life with the Siddha master Swami Muktananda, I knew that this master, then called Sri Mukteshwar, was someone special. I recognized in him that rare, piercing embodiment of wisdom that only a well-seasoned sadhaka could posses. I first read of Sri Mukteshwar when I was looking for miracle stories for the book. In a periodical I often browsed, I came across the story of miraculous emanations of honey and Kumkuma – the red powder used in India for religious markings – issuing from photographs of Mukteshwar’s hands. In fact, I eventually learned of countless stories of similar miracles associated with this man that were coming out of India with increasing regularity. And then, I witnessed this incredible phenomenon myself one afternoon in 2003 or 2004, in the Puja room of a devout Hindu family in North Jersey.

I studied and practiced his techniques for a while, and enjoyed a nice boost to my spiritual life in those days. Then, I simply got tied up in the busy-ness of life. In late 2004 I seized an opportunity to return to full time collegiate study while working part time as an artist for Trader Joes to support a wife and child. My routine meditation practice took the back seat, and along the way, more opportunities for a full time career presented themselves, and life continued to happen.

Then, in late 2016, Sri Mukteshwar’s name once again returned into my orbit, arriving full circle back into my arena through a business associate whom I knew had spent time in India with Mukteshwar during those intervening years. Now Mukteshwar was more widely known as Sri Bhagavan, and the simple teachings that originated in some of those humble, small scale workshops I had sponsored in the mid 2000’s had since blossomed into the worldwide Oneness movement. This same teacher, for whom I had difficulty finding any information while researching my book, now is found easily with a simple Google search, has countless students around the world, and is featured on video lectures which are readily accessible on Youtube.

The affiliation with my business colleague had reawakened my interest in my old friend Mukteshwar. I wondered how he was doing, recalled the many benefits I had reaped from his courses all those years before, and considered that my yoga practice was overdo for a fresh jumpstart. I began to review some of the info I had compiled 15 years before, and then, in September of 2018, I saw a notice for a retreat in December that would be conducted by a respected teacher of his who had spent 9 years in India as a monk under his tutelage. I enrolled, and from the onset, it seemed that just the act of making the commitment had reawakened a dormant spiritual life and level of deepened regular practice I had forgotten about. I began to have stunning, profoundly deep, spiritual experiences unlike any I had in decades. This was getting to be quite interesting, I thought. 

On the final day of the retreat, which was tele-linked between Sri Bhagavan’s ashram in Chennai, India and locations in 3 cities in the United States, my fellow participants and I were invited by Sri Bhagavan to join him, if we liked, in an 8 year teacher training process. This could be cool, I thought. I had been practicing meditation for so long, I reasoned, that this could be like a yoga graduate course and enable me to properly share what I’ve learned for the benefit of others. Bhagavan said to simply try the required sadhana practice for a year, and if we then liked how it was going, we could elect to continue for the ensuing 7 years. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Are you kidding me? This was an incredible invitation! 

And so I have agreed within myself to embark on this 8 year journey with Bhagavan, and see where it takes me. I am fully aware that being mentored by a yoga adept will be challenging, and hard at times. Muktananda’s no-nonsense approach had prepped me long ago. Plus, I recalled even more challenging moments 15 years ago when I engaged in the processes conducted during the mini-retreats programs with his monks that I then hosted. As hard as some of those moments were, I certainly grew at an accelerated pace then. So, I already know what I’m in for, and I’m game. No pain, no gain. It’s all good.

It’s fascinating to consider how, in our 21st Century, what was once only available to acolytes committed to making a monastic lifestyle now is available with quite a different requirement than it was in ages past. In our era, monasticism seems to be about simply adapting the mindset of a monk without the external garb, and doing the practices wherever you are in whatever circumstances prevail. Certainly their are physical monasteries in which to live and study, but our era is unique. The goal of the path is right where you are, as you are. Nothing had to change because change is an illusion anyway. Monkhood is simply a frame of mind.

As I stated when I started writing here, this is only the latest on a journey that has already spanned 40 years of my 58 year existence. I’ve journaled that entire process in handwriting and word processing entries the whole time. From time to time, I will cull choice excerpts from those archives to post here. In the interim, as I begin this 8 year journey, the thought occurred – why not blog it live, as it unfolds? Because, for me, at this stage, there is nothing that is excluded from the spiritual path. Everything I do – we do – is all predicated on how we perceive and experience it. That’s the truth, the nugget of spiritual living. 

In our time, with all kinds of craziness going on in our often confusing world, sharing this journey might be helpful, I thought. And who knows who or what might show up along the way? Journeys are like that. Ya never know what’s around the corner. That’s been my experience thus far. This should be fun. I hope you will come along for the ride. 

Namaste!

Tom