Saturday, October 26, 2013

"The Path And The Seeker"

The Path And The Seeker: What IS this mysterious “path” we keep hearing so much about ? Why is to so important? How does one find it and how does one “travel”on it? Who is eligible for it? These are some of the questions which often come to our mind or we wonder about. What is this Path? It is nothing but the route one takes to merge with Him……which is Yoga or union with the Divine…. The merger of the Atma with Parmatama. Unlike other paths it occurs internally and has to be travelled alone. It is like the sadhak blazing a new trail for himself, and the experiences, though fairly similar are yet different for each sadhak. The ‘Path’ is one but there can be many routes which one can take. Types of Paths: The path ultimately leads to union with the Supreme Being, which is called ‘Yoga”. The types of paths, are also designated as ‘Yoga’. Traditionally four main paths have been described. Raj, Karma, Bhakti and Gyan Yoga. Each one of us has a different temperament, based on which we get attracted to the path which we think is suitable to us. Raja Yoga is the science of restraining the mind and teaches us to concentrate with purification of intention. It ultimately frees us from the limitations of the senses and makes us transcend reason and thus reveal the potential divinity within. This control of chitta by meditation is necessary in all the types of Yogas and hence Raja Yoga can be said to be the basis of all of them. Kriya Yoga is also a part of this. Karma Yoga is the science of right action and serving without expectations. It teaches man to “be in the world yet not of it”, like the lotus leaf, whose roots are in the mud but which remains always pure. Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion for God for the emotional type of person. Gyana Yoga is for the one who is reflective by nature. By the process of discrimination the gyani leaves out one thing after another of the Universe until he discovers the essential Unity. When this point is reached he sees that there is but one Self in the Universe, of which the lower selves are but manifestations. Of these it is believed that Raj Yoga is the highest. In fact, Sri Paramhans Yoganandaji has said that if you see anyone achieving unity with Him by any other methods other than Raj Yoga, then that person must have meditated in earlier births and in the present birth just starts off from where he left off earlier. None of these paths are however exclusive and in the end they converge and meet at the same point. Swami Vivekananda has said “ You must harmonize the four different paths…..” I must also mention about the ‘Yoga ‘which we normally talk about since it is often confused with the yoga we are discussing above….”the eight fold path enunciated by Patanjali is an intrinsic part of the one seeking God Realization . The first two are the yama and niyama which means the do's and don'ts of life which are like the foundation of spiritual life, needless to say if one is not established in these two, the foundation being weak the building of self realization will also be weak and can fall at even a slight tremor of test or trail. When one is firmly established in the two prerequisites he can then move on to the other steps of asan, pranayam, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and finally attain samadhi. Asan means the right posture, Arjuna's gandive or his bow symbolizes that, meaning if the string on his bow is not taut it will not be able to shoot arrows, likewise if the posture of spine is not straight and is bent one will not be able to lift his consciousness from the lower centres of Muladhara and swadhistan to ajna, like water will not be able to flow through a bent pipe. Pranayama the next step, ( prana is “life” and ayama is “control’ meaning ‘control of life”) Pratyahara is interiorisation of the mind, dharana is fixing the mind on some aspect of God, when the mind thus stays fixed it’s called dhyana, and when the person meditating and object of meditation, and the experience thereof become one, one enters the state of Samadhi, where the knower, knowing and the known become one and are no more separate.” This too has been modified quite a bit. There is another path too, the path of the Saints, called Santmat (there are many other names as well)which actually incorporates all four as mentioned above and is based on the power of the “Shabd”, also called ‘Naam” or the Divine melody within, which is the vibration which brought about the creation of this entire Universe. “This force originates from the highest realm of consciousness and descends till our eye centre. When the meditator ventures within and brings his consciousness to the third eye he connects with this melody and travels to higher realms. Since its originating point is beyond all the lower realms it takes the practitioner directly to the realm of Anami or the Supreme abode of the Nameless One”. This is achieved with the guidance of a Realized guru. Most of the other yoga systems believe in the seven chakras within the human body as well as the “kundalini” lying at the base of the Muladhar chakra which has to be raised by various methods of meditation in order to raise one’s consciousness upwards to the eye centre first and then to the sahasrar, where it ends. Hence by these methods one can reach upto the sahasrar only and not beyond, while in the path of Santmat the atma travels from the sahasrar chakra upto Him for final merger with Him. As mentioned above the path of santmat encompasses all the four forms of yoga , namely the sadhak has his Master’s form(Swaroop) within his heart at all times along with mental chanting of the Mantra given to him by his Master (Bhakti yoga),performs his duties with zeal at all times (Karma Yoga), meditates regularly (Raj Yoga) and attains supreme transcendental knowledge by travelling within (Gyan Yoga). Why is the Path so important? Most people are of the opinion that the most important thing in life is to be good in all respects and, therefore, there is no need to traverse the path to spirituality. This requires some thought, however, as even being good requires God’s help. This needs to be explained further. Our temperament of being good, bad , evil etc is dependent upon the gunas of prakriti with which we are born, based on our karmas of earlier births. When we are born with a sattvic temperament we behave in a sattvic manner (sattvic means pure and virtuous), but if born with a rajasic guna, we will behave in a rajasic manner, which means being passionate and involved in worldly activities. If, however, we are born with a tamasic temperament (inertia, pride, arrogance, being bad, evil, lazy etc), we will continue to behave like that. A tamasic person cannot become sattvic or rajasic by just “willing” himself to or by thinking about it. The only way it can happen is by meditation. All our thoughts arise from the Cosmic mind of God, and each thought percolates down to our Individual superconscious mind, then to the Subconscious and finally to the Conscious. In the case of a tamasic or rajasic person access to the deeper layers of the mind are not possible as he is totally cut off from the Cosmic mind. Therefore, for one to become really good he must harbour sattvic or good thoughts but if one does not traverse the path to connect with God how will these good thoughts come into us? We cannot just ask our conscious mind to generate good thoughts since it is impossible to control our conscious mind. However , when we are connected to the Cosmic Mind we have access to His mind and can imbibe His qualities by travelling on the path. The human being has been born with the sole purpose of going back to his Source and in the process evolving by learning from his multiple experiences (of multiple births). This involves a complete transformation of our personality……from a human form of self centeredness, egoistic behavior, envy, anger, greed, desires, etc to an ultimate God like form…. which is essential ….after all to merge with Him we perforce have to become like Him with all His characteristics of profound love for all beings, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom and generate that scintillating bright aura which encompass all of humanity. For this to happen one has to first connect with one’s self followed by dissolving into Him. This is possible only by travelling on the Path as taught by a realized guru. What happens on the Path? As one progresses on the path of spirituality, one gains a lot of experiences depending on the stages of his evolution namely, with the opening of the Third Eye, ‘Divine music’ becomes audible/appreciable, the type being commensurate with the stage one is at. It may also be associated with various coloured lights and visions. With the “ascent” one notices dramatic changes in one’s personality and negative emotions gradually give way to profoundly positive ones, love for all beings plays a very important part. Compassion, kindness, empathy, forgiveness, fearlessness, a cool and calm demeanor ……one becomes ‘happy without reason”. Along with this one develops oneness with all His creation and one gains a lot of ‘powers’ which have been called ‘ridhis and sidhis’ (which, unfortunately, often prevent further evolution if one gets attached to them). As one evolves to reach and merge with Him, the positive changes of one’s personality translate into his daily life and one radiates a bright aura (tej) and generates positive vibrations (a result of having imbibed His spiritual vibrations) which are transmitted to all and sundry. One’s body identified ego becomes less and less till it disappears completely at the time of merger with Him…..and the drop becomes the ocean. Everyone is eligible to traverse the path, though the progress depends upon the keenness and the ‘tarap’ of the seeker. The Seeker: Like the various types of paths which can be trod, so also, the yearnings for the Almigty by the seekers too can be quite different. At one end of the spectrum is the seeker who is obviously pining for Him but in other cases it could be very subtle. When we take birth in this world we bring with us whatever experiences we have gained in our previous lives, which means that none of us are at the same level….the spiritual knowledge or experience each of us has is of a different degree. Most often those who have come already evolved to a certain extent start questioning the purpose of their lives and as to why have they been born? They also wonder ‘Who am I”? It is this category of people who want to evolve further and start “looking around” or searching for Him and may resort to reading the Scriptures, going to temples, doing worship at home or elsewhere, go on pilgrimages, search for gurus etc. Many keep wondering as to whether what they are doing is correct or not and are perpetually questioning themselves. Another category gets intense feelings of ‘homesickness’…..which home they want to go to is very very obscure in their minds …but their heartfelt desire is to reach ‘there’…..but how they will get there is a very big question mark in their minds. There are some who, though seem to be living wholesome lives still feel that ‘something is missing” from their lives. They are unable to put a finger on the ‘missing link”, though. At times, one may go through very tragic or nerve shattering experiences like sudden losses or unexpected developments beyond one's control which make one realize that one really is not the doer and that there is a higher power which orchestrates everything. Such instances are turning points in one's life and propel one to traverse the path. It is the people who sincerely seek or the ones who are ‘homesick’ are the ones who are ultimately blessed by a true guru. They of course need to go through various other experiences before that actually happens, though. These can be in the form of ‘chance’ meetings with people who are already on the spiritual path, or certain situations or circumstances which are ‘created’ in their lives which then take them forward. They could also have prophetic dreams or connect ‘vibrationally’ with others on the path who then facilitate their meeting with a true guru by acting as “catalysts’. By a vibrational connection i mean meeting people who ‘vibrate’ at a similar frequency with them. This happens because of their subconscious mind propelling them forward and urging them to do certain things which facilitate the meeting. There are instances where the guru has woken up the sadhak during sleep asking him to “wake up”….meaning ‘arise, awake and connect to yourself”! Seekers can thus be likened to an ice berg….the biggest chunk of ice being submerged inside water and a very tiny bit above. The tiny bit above the surface of the water is that part of the seeker which has not been swallowed up by the world (read material things and being away from God) he lives in and may be tuned to his religion or to Spirit. The size of this varies according to his present spiritual evolution. If he is a little more evolved than others then the tiny part may be a little bigger. The part of the iceberg above the surface of the water would be bigger still in those who have come into this world even more evolved than others. The job of the guru is to pull as much (or all) of the submerged part and guide him to yoga (union with the Almighty) Once contact has been established the Guru initiates the sadhak……..and teaches him the method of meditation as well as the mantra he should chant mentally. In this method, if the guru is truly realized, he soon manages to get the student to open his Third Eye following which further spiritual progress takes place. The Guru then commences to teach. His teachings can take various forms namely by his pravachans which comprise of imparting wisdom from the Scriptures along with his own commentary on various subjects. Once initiation has taken place the seeker meditates on the guru’s image at the centre of the forehead. Further spiritual evolution takes place with more and more meditation on the part of the sadhak and more and more guidance on the part of guru, who literally guides the sadhak’s atma higher and higher by travelling ahead of him and taking him through the various stages to the ultimate merger with Him. On the Path he keeps pointing out pitfalls from which the sadhak needs to avoid. Often the message the guru gives can be quite subtle. For the seeker to truly evolve the presence of a realized guru is essential in his life, without which true progress cannot take place. As one evolves it slowly dawns on the seeker that the shabd and the Guru are one. This merger is followed by complete merger with the Divine, heralded by profound bliss and the breathtaking aura of His brilliance! May we all be guided on to the path and to …….His heavenly abode! Acknowledgements: ‘Vivekanand, The Great Spiritual Teacher” The Internet‘The Mystic Way” My Blog Posts Input from my spiritual brother Sri Dhairyanandaji