Salutations to Higher Powers and my Gurus!
As a child I was used to living in my own world oblivious to the world around me. I was a sheltered child with loving parents and equally loving extended family. As a teen, my eyes opened to forging relations with newer people from world at large and creating self-identity. Needless to say- this was awkward phase that every teenager usually experiences. I grew up with my share of experimenting with different activities and trying to shape my personality to the way I saw right. This new phase created an urge to break away from family as it felt restrictive for the new image.
This is an identity crisis phase where one usually has an intense urge to be accepted by the world (read: “New people only” since with family and relatives the image was already set). This lasted for more than 25 years (age 15 to around age 40). I was always given to be a philosophical kind of person, yet my thinking got shaped during this phase by worldly influences that often used to be in direct conflict with family values leaving me perturbed on several occasions. I was never career oriented but choose to become one too when friends around me also pursued it with gusto. In Swamiji’s words, I was drifting far away from my soul call (“of going home” from book “Million thoughts” *) and I always sensed an unnamed agony. The pain used to get drowned only by a false sense of security or bravado from my foolish ego.
The first major shake-up happened when my mother died at young age of 65 at start of year 2015. I started remembering all my moments of stupid rebellion and acts that was unwarranted and were hurting for my mom. I realized I had always taken her for granted. All my actions reflected a poor opinion of her despite my being able to see her immense love for me. I had refused to acknowledge that love, preying instead on her weaknesses with worldly matters. Little did I know then that what I was seeing and getting angry about with my mom at that time was a reflection of my own weaknesses in worldly affairs. She had her share of weaknesses, yet it was nothing that was not ignorable or forgivable.
I was truly lost. I cried every other night not knowing how to heal. I poured over several books and tried filling my head with counter spiritual thoughts, yet my heart was sad and heavy. It reflected on the work and the environment around where I started disconnecting more and more with almost every acquaintance, I had made during the identity phase. I became secluded choosing to live like a monk (living in Mumbai city) with meaningful interactions only with a chosen few whom I had narrowly defined as my family. They were handful due to the narrowness of my own thinking. While these few were a source of strength, I could not grow. Almost all days, I used to think about only 1 thing, the higher power is trying to communicate but I am a “mand-buddhi” (weak or slow mind) to not be able to understand those instructions. Yet my soul went on crying piteously searching for a sign from above. And a breakthrough had to happen.
My 1st interaction with Om Swamiji happened when he started contributing for a monthly magazine called “Tattvaloka” around the year 2013. He writes atleast one article in it for every issue and sometimes allows for his book to be published in parts in this magazine. His writings and words were always like a soothing balm. It connected perfectly inside. Yet, my actions were anything but in tune with what my heart agreed with. Nevertheless, I used to be eager to read Om Swamiji’s writing often. In one of my official tour in a magazine stand I chanced upon his book on “Kundalini” and having read initial few pages was keen to buy it. Due to poor career choices, I was not earning as well as my colleagues and that thought made me not buy the book (I could afford it). Yet, my desire for the book didn’t go away. I started searching online for used books. During a visit to designated book zone in Mumbai (Fort area), I enquired about any used book from Om Swami and I was shown only 1 book “Million Thoughts”. This was around year 2017. Yes- almost 4 years past my first connect with Swamiji (slow learning “mand buddhi” that I was). This book soon became my bible.
I must have read that book atleast 3-4 times by now. However, that doesn’t mean my actions were in sync. Yet as I wrote earlier, what Swamiji wrote in this book made total sense to my heart and I was inspired by the book to look at reality differently and bring small changes to my life.
At heart, I could not consider myself to be a complete student of Om Swamiji. To me he was the equivalent of a brilliant “college” professor providing higher education and I was the weak student who was yet to pass “school” in the spiritual and philosophical world. My Guru for helping me assimilate the ABC of spiritual life was different and had arrived in my life before I chanced upon “Million Thoughts”. Later, and even today I sincerely believe that I was divinely guided to find this important person. It was during my agony days after mother’s death when I chanced upon an advertisement for a free course on “7 chakras”. (I tended to not go near paid courses on spirituality) The chakra course was conducted by a lady who owned the premise and hall near my place. Course being free and place being close-by were the exact ingredients to motivate me to make the move. I attended her 4 or 5 sessions when as my luck would have, due to some unusual reasons she announced of experimenting and allowing person called “Rana” to conduct a 4 day course in her hall freely for us who were attending her chakra course. After his sessions got completed, he never got the opportunity to repeat the “4 day session” again in that hall. But, we were destined to meet then.
C.D.Rana or Chandulal D Ranaji is a typical city person who lives a married life with children and has not cut away from world for a spiritual calling like Om Swamiji. Today when my comparing mind contrasts the 2 persons I consider as my Gurus (My definition of Guru: A person who helped me see light or direction), I can see failing in Ranaji that I am unable to find in Om Swamiji. However, it is these very failings that make me feel more closer to him than Om Swamiji. I find difficulty in accepting Swamiji’s instructions for the ultimate freedom (yes- this is a desire of my heart, yet I do not feel ready yet). Ranaji’s framework for life was simple yet the charm lied in that very simplicity.
In his words – Ranaji’s course “Tathastu”(Indian blessing meaning: “So be it”) focuses on 4 pillars that every human aspires at some point or other either all together or alternatingly. These 4 pillars are health, wealth, relationship and spirituality. He took a day for each pillar. It is my experience after imbibing the learning of “Tathastu” course that when we adhere to basic principles of acting with goodness of heart every-day to the extent possible, the larger things automatically fall in place or even when they do not, the mind remains largely unperturbed. At the end, these principles and exercises that Ranaji suggests for us to manage our existence are similar to the values that Swamiji speaks of viz. living an existence full of love, compassion and truth.
To Ranaji, all individual desires fell in the domain of the 4 pillars. Ranaji laid special emphasis on the pillar of “relationship” explaining with personal examples on how all other spheres including spirituality are strongly influenced due to poor relationship (with self as well as with others). If examples were not enough he provided enough practical methods for us to break the old patterns of thinking. We all have our own version of mantras in our head (set thinking pattern). Unfortunately, we don’t realize the mantra that we chant every-day. And it is this mantra that we chant incessantly in our mind that makes or breaks us inside and that defines how we act outside.
Unknowingly internally in our mind, we chant mantras like – “World is out to get me and I must not allow them” or “All other people are better than us or what I do is stupid”, or “We know what is best and others are stupid, or “what happens if” and imagining the worst case scenario frequently (always tending towards negative thoughts) or “what another person is doing is wrong or they are not listening to me” (anger or indignation) all representing either poor relation with self or with others. These mantras shape our behaviour and actions in external world and we end up feeling bad inside even when we did exactly as per the rational mind dictates.
Yet understanding it mentally and acting based on a new realization was not an easy change process. Like both Guru Om Swamiji and Ranaji both hint at, one may have had more than 25 years of practice with an erroneous thought pattern (like me) and to bring in change it needs years if not decades to usher the revised pattern of thinking. My moment of truth arrived immediately after completion of my Guru’s 4 day session when I thought I was full of positive energy. That week, I had gone on an official tour and after work when I reached my assigned room for the night I noticed it was an inferior room compared to the company standards. And all my noble and good thoughts went right out of the window as I started reacting with anger and indignation at this affront and poor treatment meted out leaving me unhappy and sad with my own reactions. It took me almost 4 years of practice to bring in some level of competency at being “honestly” loving and peaceful for most situations.
Having found a path that felt perfect for my growth after the 4 day session of Ranaji, I was overwhelmed and was eager to surrender to him as I continued with my practices. However, surrendering is not easy for the rational mind. Around a year later, with great difficulty I chose the informal and easy approach of typing out my surrender by thanking him and asking him to use me anyways he deemed fit. His reply was just reassuring (and a relief) for me when he said, “brother just keep doing small good deeds and working on the writing exercises”. This reply comforted me for having found the right guru who is not looking to exploit and does things from the heart and keep inspiring many to also flow from the heart.
Tackling old self-destructive habits that take us far from our soul is most certainly difficult to break yet with the grace of my Guru and higher powers I am on the right track. And that gladdens my heart. With their grace, bit by bit and inch by inch I started releasing a lot of negative emotions and this in turn allowed me to accept and forgive myself as well people with whom I had a grudge. If you have read “Million Thoughts” – you will understand the term “hijacking of thoughts” and it is this that I have learnt to arrest with a lot of practice. While it may seem easy now for me to retain my presence of mind under most of the trying circumstances (not all though), I know that releasing of all my unfounded fears and indignant thoughts in the process was difficult and needed a lot of prodding by the higher powers. And thanks to these continued prodding -suddenly one day, I could listen and act timely based on that communication from higher powers. (No more “mand-buddhi”)
Soon I started getting feelings of being divinely guided and I started finding solution to every situation and began realizing how blessed my life is. Every obstacle and difficulty faced made sense to me and I could sense it prodding me to improve and grow. Caring for others and sharing love that seemed difficult earlier (I think I was always self -obsessed and tight-fisted) felt easy and made me feel good too. As I started changing my outlook of looking at the world, I suddenly started finding myself being loved by several persons and it was truly a revelation and a blessing. Now, even when I still find it difficult to accept another person’s viewpoint that does not agree with me, I have learnt to seek and find something good in other person and his viewpoint that I can appreciate. It works mostly but not always!
Relations are managed by not by trying to manipulate or influence other person’s viewpoint but to be able to recognize the strength and weakness of both the viewpoints and realizing that paths can differ sometimes, however ultimately we are all connected and vying and acting for the same goal – viz. “to go home” (Read million thoughts). To conclude I feel I have had school education from a competent Guru (Ranaji) and I should be ready by now for college. Yet my fears exist that make me work on the smaller immediate steps in hope of an admission to the higher education one day. I believe in the power of compounding and truly trust that divine is available to all who choose to invoke him and trust implicitly. My trust or faith is growing though it is not ready for the big leap. With Guru’s grace I shall soon get another sign. It is what is meant to be.