The Gift of Quarantine

I’ve been watching the news about the spread of Coronavirus with great interest since it began to ripple across the globe. I didn’t panic, and I’m still not panicking. I’m not insensitive or being smug about it as it’s a very serious crisis. The reason is that in 2003, I had written about a prediction of it in the 2nd edition of my book, Masters Among Us, which was published in 2004. 

My reaction to news of the virus was “Oh, so here it is.” In 2003, I had interviewed several enlightened Indian monks then living in the Golden Age Foundation Ashram overseen by the yoga master Sri Bhagavan. In the aftermath of 9-11, that master had then been voicing the urgency of humanity’s need to become enlightened to gain control of a world that was raveling out of control. I had also written about messages issuing from appearances of The Blessed Mother in Medjugorje with a similarly voiced tone of urgency. In the revised edition of the book, just released in February, I added new chapters containing an update to both of those messages.

With these teachings in mind, I have had to wonder if there is not some greater message now being imparted to humanity from the type of unseen, benevolent overseers referenced in my book. Here in one excerpt, found on page 277 in Chapter 11, are the words of that enlightened monk, preceded by my introductory paragraph:  

‘While the ambition of Sri Mukteshwar [the name by which Sri Bhagavan was then known, in 2004] seems like a lofty ideal that would certainly provide a nice alternative to the routine we know as modern living, his monks and he relay a more urgent message. Like the Madonna’s pleas at Fatima in 1917, a similar, ominous message of warning is issued now. One monk explained:

“If mankind does not make it, it’s going to be terrible. We are not here prophesying the doomsday but what is in store for man is evident. The way man’s thoughts & emotions are structured today; we must know man and nature are one organism and not two separate entities. The ruthlessness, selfishness & brutality we have within us, the amount of violence that is there in our everyday life, all this is affected in the nature around us and very soon if man would go the way he is going, the tension he is building up because of the speed, competition and the struggle for survival, we seem to be moving towards inner death if we are not yet already. And if this is what is going to happen then we are going to have severe natural calamities. 

‘Mankind is going to have lot of diseases…because if the disease is inside, that is going to manifest outside. Each one of us should only think, pause and look: “How am I living?” and we will know how we are going to be a few years from now, a few months from now. The speed at which the world is moving – what is going to happen to man? And lots of people are going to go insane. We can already see it happening. Many are struggling to keep up their sanity. The world is moving towards disaster. If the pollution is going to increase because the kind of civilization we are in is the product of our mind and greed, then thousands are going to die out of lung diseases. 

A large section of human population is going to be wiped out. That is what is in store for man. It is not that the earth is going to become a dead planet and the human race is going to be wiped out. No, but then lots and lots of people are going to die and those who are going to be left behind are going to be living in a huge graveyard and it is not a pleasant experience. 

It’s time that one becomes serious about life, serious about ourselves, serious about our fellow human beings, serious about suffering around us. We got the gift of thinking, feeling. We can’t be dreaming and selfish any more. We have to buckle up. 

…If this is not going to happen… then we are in for a crisis. Mother earth is going to revolt. She is not going to take it on any more. The house is burning already. We can’t wait any more…Earth is aching and seeking for enlightened people. That’s what has to happen now.”

So, in 2020, Governments local and national across the globe are quarantining and isolating entire populations. Humanity is being forced to stay home, retail venues have been told to shut their doors, while conventions and public events are being cancelled. On top of things, the stock market has been plummeting, another predicted event I had also written about in that book. News programs are relaying information and advice in response to worldwide fear and panic.

I’m writing this because I’m compelled to share the advice I had given my daughter just last week. My daughter is currently living in Vietnam, a bit closer to the Coronavirus epicenter in China than our home in suburban Philadelphia. She teaches English there. The school where she works has been closed since Chinese New Year, and was told just the other day that it will remain closed indefinitely. As of last week, the first case of the virus hit the small village where she lives, and public venues like popular restaurants and bars have closed. She and her fellow teachers are now staying sequestered in their homes. My daughter shared her concern and restlessness. She has no television, with her only lifelines to the outside world being her laptop and iphone. And now she has no income. 

I told her that her predicament is similar to the time I lived in a yoga ashram when I was her age (not the same ashram referenced above, but similar). The ashram was a retreat site where one could voluntarily stay for extended periods of time to retreat, refresh, and take a break from the hustle bustle of the world for pause in a reflective lifestyle. The objective of such a stay is take that reflective ability back into one’s everyday life. In the ashram, we had no television, and in those days, there was no internet, no cell phones. We were in a rural location in the Catskill Mountains. My lifeline was a bank of pay phone booths when I periodically called to check in with my parents. I didn’t drive or own a car then, either. 

After a while, an opportunity for an extended stay was offered in exchange for free room and board and a monthly stipend of $50.00. All I had were the clothes I owned, a few books, a blank journal, and a Sony Walkman with a few cassettes of U2 music among others. Each day I participated in yoga and meditation programs, and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow yoga students when dining or taking a break in an on-site cafe. It was, essentially, an elective monastic lifestyle. I learned that I didn’t need much. And it was great, as I’ve learned to not need much in the years since. It remains one of the most fulfilling and influential times of my life. To this day, 40 years later, I still practice much of what I learned there, like meditation, contemplation, sharing, and working with an attitude of service.

 This is what I wrote to my daughter: 

“Your present predicament is not unlike the time I lived in ashrams. The ashram was situated in a remote village, with the only general store a mile down the road closed by 7:00 pm. At first, it got boring and I and we got restless. But we soon saw this offered one of the most valuable lessons of an ashram, or any monastery. It provides the opportunity to witness how the mind creates stories and distracts. It’s the first lesson of yoga. So, my suggestion is to use this time and opportunity of limited travel for internal, spiritual growth. Before, between, and after your required duties, actively practice meditation. Recharge your inner batteries. Refresh your being and reinvigorate a sound foundation within yourself to strengthen and prepare you for whatever lies around the next corner. Use the time for growth of spirit. View your quarantine as a great gift in this way. It is providing an opportunity for you to give yourself the best thing. As you get older and busier with responsibilities, such opportunities become rare, and this why people need to “retreat” to recharge. So, imagine you are living in a ashram or monastery now, and discover new insights. The lesson of living in an ashram is to take the dharma of daily living back into your everyday life when you leave. So, borrow from my ashram tenure account, and make your present living situation into an ashram. Love you!”

And this is the best advice I can offer to all of you at this time: use the time for internal, spiritual growth. Turn off your TV for a short while. Put away your phone. Give yourself a break. Write a book, paint a painting, cook something you’ve never cooked before. Send a card to someone you love. Do that home improvement project you’ve put off. Humanity is being given a rare opportunity to pause, reflect, recharge and begin anew, potentially with a perspective of service and sharing. We are all in this together. Let’s seize the moment and make the world a better place for all of us. And love to you too! 

Shiva brushes his teeth

Friday April 5, 2019 8:08 am

A lot of cool and curious things have been happening in my daily sadhana practice. I’ve wanted to sit and write them down, but the other requirements of my daily existence have taken precedence. 

Today’s meditation happened somewhat spontaneously and unplanned. I went to bed late last night after spending a considerable amount of time doing some final reediting to my manuscript about Mark Twain, et al. I’ve decided to Self-publish the work after almost a year of knocking on the doors of agents and publishers, and having read a very good article on Scribe yesterday about the current state of the book publishing industry which weighed the pros and cons of traditional versus self publishing. The author, a publishing industry veteran with an inside perspective, had explained how much the publishing industry had changed and how challenging it is for authors in my stage of the game to get their foot in the door. He went on to say how the current climate, with so many options, is practically a plug in to go with self publishing as the best option. There are some associated caveats, but I have a few tricks up my sleeves with regard to those areas. I hope to have the book release in short duration.

So, this morning, I got up at 5:00 am, as has become the routine lately (more on that below), but instead decided to go back to bed. I planned on staying in my warm, comfortable bed a little later than usual when my wife summoned me at 7:00 am to move my car out of the driveway so she could get to work. No problem. I dressed, did my deed, and instead of returning to horizontal dreamland I made a cup of Chai, wrapped a blanket across me from neck to ankle, and settled into our living room rocker where I often practice my shorter meditations. 

Within a short time, the cozy warmth my body enjoyed was replicated on the interior of my being. I became mildly enraptured by the soothing waves of shakti coursing casually through my brain and nervous system. Sensations in my brain have been like this since beginning a new sadhana technique I learned less than a week ago. Today it felt like I was getting a nice, gentle massage in a bath of warm water on the interior of my cranium and around the surface of my brain. Accompanying this was a rapturous state of inner satisfaction. Since yesterday, the thought arose “So, this is what the experience of oneness with Shiva is like.”

I say that because I have been reading texts associated with the Kashmir Shaivism tradition. One book, mentioned before, is Secret of the Siddhas by Swami Muktananda, which is largely Baba’s (Muktananda’s) commentaries on the Shiva Sutras, the ancient root of that philosophical school. The other is Jaideva Singh’s translation and new commentary on 10thcentury commentaries about the Shiva Sutras encapsulated in the work known as Spanda Karikas. So, in this context, Shiva means the experience of conscious consciousness – the awareness of being aware that you are aware and that you are one with that experience of awareness. You are that awareness, ergo, you are Shiva. 

For some time now, well over a month, I have found my body waking consistently at 5:00 am or so. Almost every time this has happened, it was always 5:10 on my alarm clock. Now, I could easily lie in bed as I have for the past 30-40 years and meditate later, but these days, each morning at promptly 5:00 am-ish, I also experience an urgent need to urinate. After so complying with my body’s wish, I typically have returned to my room to sit upright and meditate for about an hour before proceeding with the needs of the day. 

Each meditation in the last week, since learning this new, advanced technique on Sunday, has been similar as my description above. The process seems to massage the lobes of the brain and stimulate neural pathways. On the first day I practiced the technique, during meditation afterward my brain felt like it was on fire, as if it were gently being simmered in the crockpot of my cranium. I could feel the interior lining of my skull, while each cell and fiber of my brain pulsated. It felt almost crystalline, as if my brain were made of glass, but composed of molecules that were simultaneously independent in their group cohesiveness. It felt like my brain was a shimmering, endlessly faceted jewel, and was alive with shimmering Chitshakti.[i]It was as if my consciousness had discovered the secret access to an ancient cave, its walls lined with the purest gold and diamonds. 

On the second day, during meditation, this continued but to a lesser degree, and instead shifted to awareness of a deepened experience of being. That Shivaness thing again. I also got the impression that something in the interior of my brain was being purified, and subsequently my body developed mild cold or flu like symptoms. My mind, in the meantime, naturally tried to do its thing to create fear or concern. My mind started throwing thoughts about having encephaliitis or some other disease. But intuitively, I knew this thought to be a falsehood and just let it wither. 

On the third day, yesterday, I got a bit busy in the morning, so I wasn’t able to make time to meditate until an hour before I had to be in work. So, I decided to squeeze in 20 or so minutes to do the 7 minute technique and meditate for the rest. I’m glad I did. As I sat in the rocker in my living room, during the 7 minute practice I again felt the stimulation in the lobes of my brain. Again I felt the sensation of shimmering, like sunlight reflected on a calmly rippling lake. As I went deeper into meditation, a soft sense of bliss enveloped me, and within short duration, I experienced my body dissolve into consciousness and vanish. Now, I didn’t actually physically disappear, but internally, my experience was that the external shell of my body just merged into the entirety of the physical universe. I experienced myself as pure consciousness. I was the universe. 

As I observed myself experiencing this, I saw that I was observing myself observing. The observer and observed were one. This, I recognized, was akin to the description of the state of Shiva defined in the Shiva Sutras and what I had just been reading in Muktananda’s commentaries. My whole being smiled with gratitude. A thought arose, inquiring from where or why this was arising, and I saw a very subtle image of the contour of the transparent head and shoulders of the Siddha master Bhagavan Nityananda composed of shimmering sparkles of pure gold. I saw that this was the gift of that great being, who is sort of the grandfather – the Bade Baba – of the Siddha lineage I had enjoined through my study with, and receipt of Shaktpat Diksha from, Swami Muktananda. I inwardly pranamed softly, with recognition and gratitude. 

This observer then opened its eyes to observe the time on my cell phone. 14 minutes had passed since I completed the 7-minute sadhana. This was perfect timing as now I had to end the session and get ready for work, with ample time to drive and arrive at my scheduled time. After Shiva brushed his teeth, groomed and dressed, I got in my car and noticed myself navigating the highways with complete serenity and stillness, witnessing everything with an evenness and choreographed perfection. 

The cranium massage experience, I had noticed through the week, was also occurring from almost the minute I switched off my mind’s focus on work details as I closed my shop and proceeded to my car in the parking lot, as well as throughout my commute, and after settling in at home. Most of these nights, I would fill a glass with purified water, then retire and sit in my bed to read a few passages from Secret of the Siddhas or Spanda Karikas. I randomly opened this latter book, to find the English translation of this passage: 

“When the yogi realizes the spanda* principle, then he knows that this is his essential Self, and not the empirical, psychosomatic creature whom he had so long considered to be his Self. He has now broken his shackles and is truly free.”[ii]

Pretty cool, huh? I love when that happens. Moreover, though I had randomly opened to that page, I noticed that I had circled that particular verse, accented with arrows for emphasis, at some point when I first read the book around 1986. Here’s a photo.

Though the book was published in 1980, I gathered that I must have last read this during my 1986 stay in the ashram, then with Baba’s successor, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. My clue: I had used a small photo of her as a bookmark I found elsewhere in the book. 

After this, I then meditated some more before lying down to contemplate myself to sleep. 

The adventure continues. Stay tuned…

Tom

*The above referenced Spanda principle is described in Spanda Karikas as follows: 

“A Yogi who closely observes his own (inmost) nature which is the Spanda principle recognized by means of the reasoning (already) mentioned, apprehends knowledge and activity as the presiding principle (meaning the principle that is the permanent Experient of all experiences [aka Shiva consciousness]) of life as the “I” pervading the normal consciousness even after meditation has ceased.”[iii]


[i]Chitshakti: Roughly translates as ‘conscious, self-aware pulsating energy’.

[ii]Spanda Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation by Jaideva Singh. © 1980 Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. Pg. 70

[iii]Spanda Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation by Jaideva Singh. © 1980 Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. Pg. 68

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!!

Please don’t feed the mind

Wed. March 27th, 2019 5:50 pm

DSC05343

I had a perception that psychological challenges, which, in the west and in our modern times are typically assessed with counseling or some sort of psychotherapeutic delineation, aren’t so much mental maladies as they are calls from the soul, piercing through the veil of maya illusion in an attempt to seize our lost focus and reorient it towards the core truth of our existence.

In the Eastern traditions, psychological malady is recognized in this manner as it has been for ages. In primal or aboriginal cultures, a witch doctor or shaman might be consulted to eradicate demons or bad influences. The perspective taken is that the one suffering the affliction is always, at their base, well, and that help sought is simply to return them to wellness.

Western psychiatry takes a similar bent. There is always wellness buried behind the cobwebs of mental delusion.

I paused on this note while watching a film, in which the main character had a change of heart, a resulting change of character, and ultimately wellness and balance. The character had suffered from loneliness all his life, and so his actions were perceived as irrational because they were so over the top by conventional standards. The character simply was seeking love, to be loved, to be empowered to give it, and by so doing compelled others around him to avoid his company. This perplexed the main character, compelling him to behave in manners more extreme than in the beginning. Eventually, understanding between he and the others was achieved, and in that moment, psychological healing occurred, and the love that was so evasive was found, albeit possessing a different semblance than expected or initially envisioned.

This is true of all of us. It’s a human condition. We behave in manners that don’t always jive with our contemporaries – our family, friends, colleagues, community others – until we are able to recognize a need to initiate only the simplest change, and that is to allow the heart to open ever so slightly, which is all is needed for the light of right understanding to shine in all its brilliance.

As I contemplated this, I looked within myself and saw a pattern of similar irrational behavior that has puppeteered me my whole life. Then I recalled other instances when I could see these patterns in others. The whole of human behavior seems to be an expressive plea for the experience of love. Why is it that our species innately behaves so witlessly? We tend to bounce from external stimuli to external stimuli while our mind contrives what it perceives to be appropriate responses. Some of our behaviors are predicated on survival instinct. Some of them arise from fear. Some rise from a compellation to belong, to be wanted, to be needed. All of the latter arises from an innate desire to serve.

In a conversation about meditation with one of my colleagues, I was asked “But how do you make the mind stop?” The answer is simple: Don’t feed it. The mind doesn’t stop. It’s a mind. Its function is to think and create thoughts. One simply needs to watch the mind, witness it doing its thing.

The mind is a tool. Like our fingers, legs, liver, eyes, etc, it is provided in our species to serve a function, to serve us. The situation is that humanity has largely lost the ability to recognize this. Do we use the mind to serve us for our benefit? Or, do we let the mind use us to our detriment? The latter generally prevails.

The reason Buddha, Jesus and other great sages through history stand apart is that they found the means to lasso the mind and use it the way it was intended. The mind is the interference, the static on our television. Like a TV set, we just need to know the instructions to properly tune the mind to get the best and clearest reception. When we learn this, we soon see that we are inherently capable of seeing more than anticipated. By watching mind, by just witnessing thoughts come and go like flotsam and jetsam on the surface of a buoyant ocean, the mind recognizes that it has no control over us, and humbly retreats in submission, becomes clamer and more quiet, pranaming to the greatness of the now visible soul in the capacity of the servant which it rightfully is.

Regular practice of meditation is one technique that helps to keep the mind’s activity in check. It will, by its nature, repeatedly attempt to usurp the crown of the kingdom of the soul. This morning, for example, while I was meditating, my mind wouldn’t cease! Thought after thought arose, one after another in unrelenting repetition. Now and then, a thought here and there would distract me from my inner focus, and another thought would then arise that said “Hey, now that’s a good idea!” So, while I witnessed my thoughts, I witnessed a second and third tier of thoughts arise in conjunction with one initial thought. If I had to count the number of thoughts that arose in that 20 minute meditation session, I would have to say thousands, easily.

Yet, each time, I caught myself beginning to get distracted, and promptly averted my attention back to focus on the inhalation and exhalation of my breath. Almost immediately, the storm of thoughts would evaporate like steam. And all the while, another set of thoughts subtly began to percolate.

So, thoughts don’t stop, but we can. But simply sitting still and letting go for a few brief minutes out of each day, we gradually develop an increased habit of retaining the witness state, and with each day, the mind becomes gradually quieter and more subservient. The perfection of the mind as a tool lies in this state of subservience. Everything in creation is designed to serve everything else.

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. 

 

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.