The gift of Diksha

Sun, March 31, 2019  10:58 Pm

ZW1Bh-kGU4S85D4u5bcXn6QecLrLGakFdMsZH7HTSbk    As I sit reading Secret of The Siddhas by Swami Muktananda for only the second time in 39 years, I witness with interest the shift in my consciousness on the points Muktananda cites. Looking back, it is clear that when I first read, for example, Baba’s (our affectionate name for Muktananda) commentaries on the Shiva Sutras, it was then with pure intrigue and youthful, academic and spiritual aspirant interest. Now, I marvel as it has become a testament to all that I received and how much I’ve grown from having received Shaktipat Diksha from Baba 40 years ago.

I was driving home earlier this evening and I suddenly recalled the day when one of Baba’s secretaries had approached me in the ashram to relay, that, “Baba said you can take the intensive.” The intensive was the main weekend retreat program in which Baba administered the ancient Shaktipat Diksha initiation into the yoga of the Siddhas. It was the foundation of his entire mission, and was what he was instructed to bring to the west by his own guru, Bhagavan Nityananda.

I don’t know why I spontaneously remembered that day and moment, but my heart bloomed with fond emotion. You see, at that particular time, I saved every penny I had in order to just spend one month with Muktananda in his ashram in New York. At the close of my semester at art school that Spring, I set up a table and sold many of my most prized possessions to help finance the rent, and maybe have a few extra dollars. I recall that after paying the rent, I had earned an extra fifty dollars to last me the entire month.

The cost to attend an intensive then was something like $300.00. But it may have well as been $3000 for me, an 18 year old art student just getting my feet wet. I remember that day so well because I was so shocked and grateful that this great, world-renown guru of gurus had somehow known my name and my circumstance enough to invite me to a program I couldn’t otherwise afford. The intensive was scheduled on the weekend of my 19th birthday, so this was a double amazing surprise. Because even then I understood Diksha as the transmission of the Holy Spirit – the same technique administered by Jesus to his apostles on Holy Thursday – and in the Catholic canon in which I was raised, this was considered the baptism into spirit. Because I saw this as a rebirthday (and I was right  – it was) I approached Baba to ask for a Sanskrit name – a common, optional custom done by his students. It was then that Baba gave me the name Atri.

But today, while driving, while all those pleasant thoughts ran through my mind, from the deeper perspective wherein I find my perception manifesting, I saw simply that the timing was right. I was born when I was born at the right time, I was with Muktananda at the right time as part of my soul’s agreement prior to being incarnated as Tom, and the time had arrived for me to receive Shaktipat Diksha from Baba. It transcended money and financing it – it was planned in the script of my soul’s journey.

It’s interesting. I’m not sure what prompted me to have that awareness or that thought in that particular instance. But this evening, as I recall that moment to write, what is more overwhelmingly emotional for me is to recognize that the promise inherent in the transference of Shaktipat Diksha I can see is gradually unfolding within me. Everything Baba promised is happening. I don’t know how else to share this. Aspirants who celebrate the silent, private joyous revelations while traversing the spiritual path will understand what I mean. It’s like learning that you’ve passed the bar exam, or finding out that the lottery ticket you lost in a drawer six months before was the big winner. When you spend years of your life slowly chipping away at a regular or even semi-regular yoga practice, there is so much exhilaration when you recognize the fruits of your effort. It’s just simply so sweet.

There is a fine mesh that separates identification with the Self and that of the limited jiva awareness. Yoga practice is the repetitive untying of the small knots and snags in that mesh that temporarily keep us from full establishment in the Self. Shaktipat is like a darning needle or a kerner that aids with the removal and undoing of those knots. Though an enlightened master provides the tool, its we who need to do the unraveling. But after a length of time, we recognize that our net is almost completely untangled, and establishment in the Self – union with pure being – is very close. Closer than ever. So close, it’s visible. It can be sensed.

But to get to this point, it took a gift that was given to me 40 years ago on my 19th Birthday to provide the key to the ignition of this vehicle that has reliably escorted me on this path for so long. I’m just so, so grateful. To my Baba, I say: Sadgurunath Maharaj Ki Jaya!!

On the Sangreal with Brother Donkey

Thursday, March 7, 2019. 8:44 am

I haven’t logged in here for over a week, largely because I was so busy with my work on the cruise. So much has transpired in the time that’s passed. I’ll see what I can recall, going backward.

This morning I got out of bed around 6:45 for preparation to participate in a live, online meditation from India with Amma and Bhagavan, which was scheduled for 7:30am. The strange thing was, I was unable to sleep last night. This was unusual, as I was considerably tired when I went to bed around 11:45 pm last night. I found myself spending the night, lying in bed and watching my thoughts. My mind wouldn’t stop. It didn’t disturb me, though, as I found it more curious than anything. 

I’ve had this experience now and then through the years, and quite frequently when I lived in Muktananda’s ashram. I pondered whether some unseen force or a connection on a higher level had kept me awake intentionally to serve a deeper meditation in the morning. I’ve been experiencing lately a conscious force that seems to be supporting me from deep within myself. It’s as if, as I continue to gradually merge with my higher self, that my body is cajoled like a respected, subservient beast. That is, after all, what the human form is – a soul vehicle. I think I mentioned this before, that our bodies are the beasts over which we’ve been given domain. They are our pack mules, are loyal assistants and companions on the path. Saint Francis, I was recently reminded, referred to his body as ‘Brother Donkey.’ He had it. He knew it. Saint Francis was surely awakened if not most certainly enlightened. He was one with his soul and one with Christ. This is what enabled him to stand courageously before the pope of his era, and challenge the imposing church orthodoxy. He’s a study in human oneness with the divine. 

At 7:30, as the meditation began, I was outside with my dogs, calling them in from their morning romp. I brought them in, gave them each a biscuit, and then ascended to the upstairs office in our home where I’ve meditated, written, and have had countless deep experiences for more than 20 years. Almost immediately as I sat down to meditate and closed my eyes, my pineal gland began to calmly throb in a soothing cadence. I could feel a blessing – diksha – being bestowed from participating. My awareness went deep fairly fast as I was drawn deeper and deeper. 

After about 7 minutes had passed, I opened my eyes to find that the video connection to India had been lost. I smiled over this, and concluded that watching the Youtube link didn’t matter, because the real participation was within me. I wondered if this was an intentional lesson. It was one I got nonetheless. I did later learn that the meditation only lasted for 7 minutes. 

Bhagavan has been advocating assorted sadhana practices in 7 minute increments. “Always 7 minutes” he said on one video I recently watched. For example, the daily sadhana contemplation given in our December class suggested a 7 minute contemplation on one aspect of the Self. We were given 7 aspects of the Self – one for each day of the week. And to inaugurate a meditation or another skill, it was advised to inwardly or outwardly recite the Moola Mantra 7 times. For another practice, recite it 21 times. Everything is offered in multiples of 7. 

While I awaited the start of the meditation before letting my dogs out, I happened upon a Youtube video of someone’s trek to the meditation cave of the famed Babaji. Babaji, of course, is the ageless avatar referenced in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. It was Babaji who initiated Lahiri Mahasaya into the ageless, once secretive practice of Kriya Yoga in 1861 from that very cave. Mahasaya then taught this practice to Sri Yukteshwar, the guru of Yogananda, who in turn brought it to the west in the 1920’s and opened the door for the western hemisphere’s favor for yoga and meditation that prevails to this day. 

I thought it a curious coincidence that I should stumble across this video prior to my transcontinental meditation session. When I was first learning to meditate as a teenager, it was the photo of Babaji in Yogananda’s book on which I focused, meditated, and quite frankly used to summon as a deity. I have felt Babaji’s presence in my life ever since.  I have been wondering if my more recent experiences of an unseen guide are him. In fact, I’ve had countless experiences of an unseen, benevolent guide throughout my 40 years of sadhana practice. Whether or not I was fully engaged in yoga practice or goofing off and partying more, always there was some gentle hand guiding me through my navigation of this world. But that is the magic that is available in yoga practice. There is a reason so many have practiced it for ages, for thousands of years. It is the true path, the Sangreal. The Grail is the inner Self.

My mind is quiet now. The combination of no sleep and an hour of deep meditation has left me in a nice state. I’m going to relish it for a while before heading to work in a few hours. More on my adventures later. 

Peace.