On this mysterious journey of life
Exhausted, confused and mind in strife
Perplexed I stand and gaze
At a web of meandering lanes, in a haze
Trying to fathom, which one leads to the divine
Effortful to make it mine
Smile embraces the lips as a voice lights the mind,
Hold me in your heart my dear and start the find,
Everything around you starts with me and ends at me,
You just need the wisdom to see,
You have sought refuge in me,
Wisdom, I shall help you see,
Wisdom with all its light,
Will dissipate the darkness and all your plight,
I will bring you to a guiding light,
Then the Divine will be within your sight
Before I embark on my narrative about my experience with the Gayatri Mantra. I want to thank Swamiji for making this experience possible for very ordinary people like me. My reverence to the divinely defined teacher in Swamiji, who is a source of knowledge and inspiration to many. Thank you! For being that guiding light.
This might be interesting read for people like me with less than optimal spiritual literacy, who are just trying to get a feel of some simple spiritual exercises. Just a temperature check!
The Gayatri Mantra
Gayatri Mantra has been such a beautiful and fascinating experience, it never ceases to amaze me. It has been an impactful experience for me. I believe that the value of an experience lies in its ability to create impact that empowers a change. I think that there is an article that Swamiji contributed, on a similar note, talking about significance of spiritual experiences. Whether I consider this to be spiritual experience or not, the impact will not change. As I write this post and subsequent posts. I will highlight experiences I had that could be called spiritual and yet did not prove valuable because of lack of understanding of the experience and lack of impact. I only understood their significance in the hindsight. In my understanding, a real experience (Spiritual or non -spiritual) is a sum total of the experience itself plus understanding the significance of the experience and the resulting impact of the experience.
I attended the Gayatri Sadhna camp in Toronto. Usually, I don’t make it to any social gatherings because of my special needs daughter. I only leave my house for work or essential errands. But this day everything worked out perfectly and I was able to attend the event. On my way to the event, I was talking to mother divine and saying “looks like you really want me to be there, you have it all figured out. As usual I am going to realize afterwards.” The only reason I attended this event was, in hope of learning something about chanting, as I used to chant the Navarna mantra. Although, I had no immediate plans to chant the Gayatri mantra. It feels terrible to say this but it is the truth “Oh mother divine please forgive me for saying this, despite this you gave me this powerful experience. I was not worthy of this experience, it is your generosity that I had this experience.” Of course now I chant it on the weekend because that’s when I can find the time. I don’t chant the mantras for any particular personal gains, just to experience that oneness with the divinity.
I don’t know what this experience means to others. But I found that, it was a powerful experience that changed how I perceived myself and my life. I am not saying a pleasant experience but a powerful experience.
During the event it felt like something happened there, which I did not understand and it felt like there was something around me that I was missing. Couple days after as I was sitting and chanting my Navarna mantra in the evening. During my chant I felt a huge surge of energy up my spine to the head and beyond the head to the outside of my body. It felt like the form of divine mother, I was holding in between my eyes. Suddenly went from this form in front of me to unite with a big energy field outside. My body felt like I was suspended in the space by this energy field. It sort of felt like my awareness of her presence extended beyond the physical form I was holding in front of me, to this big energy field all around me. It felt like my body was an empty prop, it was held in place by some kind of energy field that exists by default. Since then I am constantly aware of this energy state, which persists all the time. It left me totally shaken up, physically and mentally. Interestingly, I always identify myself with the energy that flows in and out of the body and not the body. The body feels like an empty shell that is sustained by this energy that flows in and out of the body and kind of blends with this big energy field outside. There are times when i took deep breaths, I felt I was breathing in the universe!
This changed my perception of my existence in the physical context. I felt like I became aware of a timeline which surpassed my point physical existence on either side. I lost the sense of security in physical assets as strongly as I experienced it before. It felt like it deepened the sense of detachment with the physicality by undermining its value in the big picture. I think this experience helped decrease the fluctuations of reactions to gains and disappointments as they no longer felt as significant as before. It bestowed a more stable state of existence and a sense of universality in existence. I think this supported spiritual progress, as the reality of the short span and falsehood of this existence became perceptible and was now staring in my face.
If I say this was a beautiful and exhilarating experience, then I am lying. It was a difficult experience. It felt like this world that I had known all along until now, came crumbling down. It felt like I was back to square one, in face of another reality that I knew very little about! It felt like someone pulled the rug from below my feet. I thought to myself, “Navjot, no one ever said that spiritual journey is an easy experience, if there is a chance that you are on one! Looks like that is starting to happen. If this is the divine plan for you then it is the divine who will bring culmination to this and give you the wisdom to get through.”
There is a part of this experience that I do not understand even today. As I had this huge energy surge I came face to face with a very friendly looking snake. I don’t know if snakes are ever friendly, but this one was pretty calm. For next three days every time I shut my eyes, I was face to face with this snake. Perplexed, I just folded my hands and said “I don’t know who you are, but if there is something that I can do for you, please let me know. I will do it.” As I said this the snake quietly, put his head down and went away.
This could be my imagination running wild. Although, I don’t know if I ever entertained the thought of a rendezvous with a snake! And I am not sure if, I can imagine the same thing constantly for three days, every-time I shut my eyes. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything just a coincidence! I just mentioned it to complete the experience.
Journey to “OM”
Gayatri mantra event, was a live event that I attended and the first word I heard Swamiji say was “OM” and the way he said it, had a vibratory quality to it. When I said it, it was a flat “OM.” I thought to myself, Oh Lord! I am not even chanting the first word correctly, what’s the point in going any further. Most of the chants start with OM, at least scant few things that I know of.
So I researched how to use my voice box and came across an interesting exercise in Indian classical music. Essentially this exercise helps you discover your real voice which comes from the belly. It actually helped me awaken my real voice that contributed to effective chanting. The exercise was OM chanting followed by chanting each of the seven notes of the SARGAM in the three octaves. Small little exercise with incredibly remarkable results. My chanting now always starts with OM chanting, and I feel the vibration start in the abdomen and spread out to my finger tips and toes. I love when it resonates through the body.
Since, I was going to chant OM I needed to know what it really means. Interestingly, despite having heard OM many time’s I did not seek out its meaning. It brought me to the Mandukiya Upanishad. It was then that I realized that OM was a complete spiritual exercise in itself for self-realization. It was after this that I got comfortable with the notion of this energy field around me that exists by default. It made me feel like I wasn’t losing my sanity and imagining wild things. Probably some kind of an energy state does exist that I was not aware of previously. I think this was also the first time I became aware of the difference between this energy state that exists by default and the energy flows generated by the chanting. I don’t know if I am making any sense, this the best I can describe this. This is the first time I could identify the two separately. Maybe none of this happens! Just read this and forget it! Sorry!
This also helped me decipher the meaning of a dream I had long time ago. I saw mother divine touched my head to bless me as I lay at her feet. As she touched my head I started to drown into waves of OM. Finally it engulfed me completely and I was drowned in it and vanished into a bright white light. I woke up gasping for breath still staring at the bright light! I can actually feel similar waves during OM chanting, it is a very powerful chant! I can barely do it for a few minutes at a time.
Another interesting anecdote about Gayatri mantra. I was on a Holliday and after getting a good work out in the gym, I jumped into the pool to cool off. It was getting late and I thought, today is Saturday and I need to chant the Gayatri mantra, family and kids are in the suite. So, Why not chant the Gayatri mantra in the pool and then I can go out to dinner with my family. Partly because I believe divinity is omnipresent and you should be able to tap into it anywhere, and I like swimming and water. So I chanted the Gayatri mantra in the pool! It was pretty intense energy experience! I did not know what to expect so I had to step out of the pool. I did not think that such a thing could happen to an ordinary person like me. It probably works better in the water! Maybe water as a medium is denser that the air and so impact of energy is stronger! Especially in a closed area like a pool. Should not have done it. Every once in a while we will do silly things and this was my moment of foolishness. I did not indulge in this again, mostly because, I did not think it was appropriate to do so without adequate information. It also reminded me of something Swamiji was saying in the discourse!
After this (the event) I had a dream, where I saw Lord Shiva and Gayatri Maa under water. I thought, Lord Shiva here in the water? He lives in the snowy mountains. I did not like that form of Lord Shiva in the dream, because he was looking like a fish, with a shiny skin. Gayatri Mantra was bringing me to the same experience that eventually Navdurga Sadhna brought me to, but I had no wisdom to experience it. “Please Mother divine forgive me, you are giving me so much and I don’t have the wisdom to imbibe anything.”
Dreams are thought to be a reflection of our subconscious mind. I guess because there is a transition that is happening within me, so I am now dreaming spirituality. Vow! I never thought about spirituality and now I am dreaming of spirituality! I can’t believe my own self. Maybe I do have a wild imagination and I dream too much! Sometimes, I question myself, did I sleep or did I just do the dreams! I have just talked of a couple dreams, but there is a whole bunch like this!
This spiritual transition has been a prediction in my birth chart, but no one in my family understood how this was ever going to happen. I thought this prediction would turn out to be untrue! It looks like it is happening now.
Besides the Voice exercise, I also changed my physical exercise program. I could not sit cross legged with my back completely straight. It drew my attention to improving core strength and joint mobility. I did a combination of cardio, free weights and yoga! Now I can sit cross legged and with a straight back.
Next I will continue with two more fascinating experiences, Lalitha Sahasranama and Navdurga Sadhna.