A wise man once said – when you take the first step towards your destination, understand that half the journey is over.
In this and the next post I will share some important milestones and learnings from my journey so far. I recall Swamiji once said – ‘When you tread the Spiritual path, the changes that are going to happen within you are permanent. There is no return’ (as always, he is so true 🙂 I experienced such changes and will share those with you all)
Since my childhood I have been attracted to Lord Shiva, in 1998 I was initiated in Shiva mantra. I used prayer beads to repeat the mantra, a set number of times, everyday. Even after Shiva’s appearance in 2004, ignorance prevailed and I was slacking because of mind’s inherent tendencies. Good that the desire to realize the self was still lurking somewhere deep within. In 2015, my destiny got the better of me and the nudge was strong enough to put me back on track, I started reading and listening to Osho extensively. More I listened to him more I felt the connection, every word he say makes total sense. To be able to understand Osho one has to listen or read his books in detail, I spent about 4000+ hours reading or listening to his discourses. Fun fact: Someone asked Osho – Yesterday, you made a statement and today you are contradicting it yourself, this is so confusing. Osho replied – My only job is to confuse you so that you can get started, only YOU can help yourself to realize the truth.
In early 2017, I decided to search for a living master to guide me. After an extensive research I zeroed on two people, in the US, to choose from – Adyashanti or Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The idea was to be able to meet and communicate with the person occasionally. As far as the research goes I read about their life, enlightenment experience, teaching techniques, courses offered, ashram setting, outreach, availability and whatever else I could find online. I listened to a lot of their discourses to grasp the context behind their teachings.
Side-note: I maintained a diary to take notes for comparative study to check my progress over time because I didn’t have the privilege of a personal Guru at my disposal for guidance.
April 2017, I decided to go with Sadhguru, mainly because he is an ardent Shiva devotee and also I could relate some of his teachings with Osho. I signed up for the Inner Engineering Course facilitated by Isha Foundation. On the last day of the course, during Shambhavi Kriya initiation process, I felt my entire body literally vibrating for no valid reason. This experience gave me enough boost to pursue and complete all of the available courses in the next few months (courses were – Inner Engineering, Hatha yoga, Angamardhana, Yogasanas, Surya Kriya, Shoonya Intensive/Shakti Chalan Kriya, Bhava Spandana and Samyama meditation). I practiced all of these without a break, investing about 4 hours a day in total. The outcome was – my body would stay super energized all day, required less food and only 5 hours of sleep, which helped with the time management. There were a few more benefits I noticed over time. By the way these robust practices are very well designed for general public. If anyone is looking for a strong body and calm mind please try some of these, not because I say so but only if you feel attracted from within.
With regular practice my body was tuned to an extent that I could sit in meditation for a few hours easily (earlier it was no more than 20 minutes), of course no one can beat Om Swamiji’s record 🙂 . Also, the inner strength grew to a point that I always felt some sort of electric current flowing throughout my body at all times and the other times I would experience intense jerks through my spine, as if energy is trying to raise up, during the meditation sittings. By electric current I mean a buzzing sensation that one may feel if say you smash your hand on a table, in yogic vocabulary they call it ‘Shakti Chalana’ or intense movement of life force across the body. All this may sound scary but everything calmed down within a short period of time.
If Sadhguru says he drove 10,000+ miles and was not tired, I believe him because I experienced that myself. The best I did at that time was a straight 16 hours drive ~ 1100 miles (with three 15-minute stops to get gas, quick bio break and to munch some peanuts for food), I started driving at around 3am on a Sunday morning and went to work the next day as if nothing happened. Earlier, on a long drive, I used to stop every 3-4 hours to get some rest but now the situation reversed, I would stop to get ‘my car’ some rest. All these experiences kept me going with the practice non-stop. Also, I dropped about 30 lbs in five days during Shoonya Intensive course (I thought I would get enlightened during that week, so kinda took it bit too far by skipping the meals 😛 )
Important thing to mention here – No matter which path you follow dietary restrictions are very helpful (one should adopt to a Vegetarian diet – that too without Onion, Garlic, excessive Salt, Chillies etc.). I still follow dietary restrictions (and I believe most of the saints follow it even if they don’t have to) because I have learned over time that our mind feeds on the food we eat. Please don’t take my word, experiment it yourself and see.
On the sides I continued to read and listen to Osho, Adyashanti, Adi Shankaracharya and other enlightened beings because something was still missing. In mid 2018, I chanced upon Om Swamiji’s autobiography. The day I received the book I read it cover-to-cover then and there, I got so immersed in his life story that I lost track of time. I ordered a few more of his books and also attended the weekend meditation camp in California to see him in person.
After all these readings my mind started questioning – Good that the body is strengthened and is more flexible now but still it has to die. Do I have to be a gymnast or what? Even if I become a gymnast this body has to die, correct? Prior to all this, there was a time when I planned to submit my resignation at work and go live at Sadhguru’s ashram in the hope to get enlightenment (this was my second try, first being in 1999 which was foiled by my elder brother). My mom straight out refused and asked me to fulfill my duties towards the family first.
God has always been very kind to me, whenever I am stuck and do not know what to do, the answer will readily come to me in some form or the other. So, I came across a random discourse where Osho said – “No need to run away to a forest, all that is required is to wake up (Bhaago mat Jaago). Even if you run away your mind goes with you, so what’s the point? Fix the mind and everything is fixed, even hell will feel like heaven”. This made total sense. Instead of running away I decided to live an ascetic life at home..
Read more in Part 2.