Jai Sri Hari, and a warm hug to my dearest OS.me Parivar. I hope you enjoy the winter that has now firmly settled down in most parts of India. It’s the season of Aloo Tikki, Jalebi, Aloo Kachori, Badam milk, and other warm delicacies that keep the cold at bay.

I want to dedicate today’s post to all my dear family members who seem to be struggling to find validation and are looking for any sign that they are moving forward in the spiritual path and the divine loves them. I sense so much pain and angst when I read some of the comments on threads where people are reading about experiences shared by other sadhakas. I can sense this because I felt precisely these emotions when I visited the ashram and talked to a few devotees or when I read the Rainmaker. People spoke about spending days with Swami in Singapore, Australia, the US, Chandigarh, and other places where has was so much more accessible and had plenty of time for everyone. I heard the stories of how he asked about their families, appreciated their writing, or shared anecdotes with them. I could sense jealously build up in my heart, and it needed significant mindfulness and focus to get my mind back on track. I thought about this issue for a long time because we interact with other devotees virtually or in person, such instances will happen again. Here is a summary of my lessons.

Be Clear of Why You Want a Guru

One of the ways I cleared my head from all these emotions was asking myself why I desperately wished for a Guru in this lifetime. It was not looking for a friend, lover, or colleague who could ask me about my family, writing, or well-being. I was looking for someone to tell me the truth and then empower me to discover my reality. That’s precisely what I found in Swami, and I can clearly see that’s the path he has described in every book, article, video, and Sadhana. When I internalized this realization, I felt my negative emotions melting away. He is not my father, my friend, or my companion. He is my GURU. Ask yourself why you need your Guru. You will discover your answer, and he will fulfill that role for you. Once you make your choice, ensure you are conscious of it and don’t compare your experiences with others.

Enlightenment is Not a Single Moment

Have you ever seen a child learning to walk? They start by just raising themselves by using their hands. Then, after a few weeks, they crawl on their stomach. A few months later, they crawl on all fours. Next, they start holding onto things and wobble about like drunkards. Finally, they start walking steadily and then start running so fast that you cannot catch them. Imagine if a child on his stomach starts reading blogs about a long-distance runner. The poor child would stop even trying to crawl and lie back, desperately wishing some magical force would yank it off its feet, and a jolt of electricity would send it on its way. Mother nature guards the child so that its mind is not susceptible to such ideas. A child simply learns at their own pace. Some children walk at ten months and others at two years.

Similarly, enlightenment is achieved when we drop all the conditioning imprinted on our minds by mother nature and our desires. We are all little children trying to make a run for the final goalpost. However, we are all unique, and our journeys will be very different. Comparisons will simply lead to more desires and distractions.

Our journey to enlightenment begins the day we feel the call within us. We would not be here if we did not feel a strong urge. Like the little child, we gradually progress towards enlightenment every day. Swami did not get enlightened when he saw the Devi or Lord Vishnu. That was simply drawing the last stroke on a tapestry he started painting on for many lifetimes. Never let the flourish of the final stroke distract you from the hours that went into making millions of other strokes that make the complete picture. His journey in this lifetime started when he did his first Pooja and continues even today. Enlightenment for Swami simply became one more small sign in his magnificent life.

We completely ignore our inner voice when we eagerly listen to other people’s experiences and experience negative emotions. The Devi within us, the Brahman within us, is waiting to be discovered while we adoringly gaze at a tiny fraction of what someone else uncovered. We cannot extinguish our hunger by looking at a feast laid out on the neighboring table.

Don’t measure a journey that takes lifetimes in days or even months. Simply keep walking. What else can you really do?

Sadhana is an Infinite Game

We must remember that it’s an Infinite Game when we think of spiritual lives or our Sadhana. This term was introduced by Professor James P Carse and popularized by Simon Sinek in his bestselling book. While Simon’s book is meant for business leaders, the key concept applies wonderfully to our spiritual lives. A finite game such as cricket is played by known players, has fixed rules, and contains a specific objective which is usually winning the game.

An infinite game does not have a time horizon. You simply continue to keep playing the game. The only objective of the game is to engage with it. Life, Careers, and Global politics are fantastic examples of infinite games because they have the following properties:

  • Has no exact or agreed-upon rules: You may have conventions, but players can choose to ignore them
  • Has an infinite time horizon: You do not stop living ever; businesses carry on after leaders resign, and global politics ebbs and flows, but you never have one clear winner forever

Let’s take Swami’s example. He started his Sadhana at a very young age. He continuously preserved and practiced different paths. He did all this while studying, working, and running million-dollar businesses. The only break he took was to do intense Sadhana in the mountains. After achieving the darshan of the divine, he started a blog, set up the ashram, and keep working for the advance Sanatana Dharma. Even when he went to the Himalayas, he did not set a timeframe. He simply wanted to meet the divine or die trying. We have to look at our own Sadhana as an infinite game. There are many routes, and our job is to explore different ones and find our truth. Once we find a path that suits us, we walk on it with utmost dedication. We simply trust the master and keep walking. We will automatically find help when we need it. Just keep walking. The only purpose of one Sadhana is to be better at the next one. Gradually when we do this, we start breaking our conditioning and see the world differently.

Experiences Hold Limited Meaning

Any spiritual experience that is not repeatable is not very valuable. I say this fact very consciously. Swami has mentioned this many times in his talks and his writings. Also, every spiritual seeker’s experience is different. The moment you baseline your experience against another seeker, you have already failed. After initiation, one of the greatest gifts I received from Swami and my divine mother was my ability to think clearly and write without fear of judgment. It manifests in my writing. After initiation, I have not seen any vision of Swami, the Devi, or visits from any celestial power. I had a small dream that I treasure. My gift was simply the unshackling of my mind. If you want to measure your progress on the spiritual path, simply retreat to a place of silence and look at how you have changed over the past few years. If you are gentler, kinder, and more compassionate, you have come a long way. Your progress is unique to you. That’s why Swami never gives a generic recipe for success.

There are two great dangers inherently associated with spiritual experiences:

  1. It greatly inflates the EGO: We start by thinking “I” got darshan. The divine chose “ME.” I must be unique, and let me educate the commoners about it.  The dangerous part with ego is that it is very subtle and subconscious. We all imagine we are have a little ego in life till it gets tested. The most straightforward test is how we receive constructive criticism. In most cases, you feel a rush of anger, an urge to be defensive, and a dose of embarrassment. The longer you wallow in those emotions, the stronger your ego. The strange part is that it does not matter who gives you that feedback. It could be your guru or a stranger and you will still feel the same emotions.
  2.  You crave to recreate that experience: A spiritual experience that cannot be replicated is like tossing a bunch of ingredients in the air and hoping some of them will land in a pan to create a coherent dish. It’s a one in million shot, and when it comes off, you look like a genius. However, the danger is that you could spend the rest of your life simply tossing ingredients in the air versus practicing a recipe.

Swami writes in his book about the absolutely grueling time he spent at Naga Baba’s ashram. His memories of how he craved for and gulped down two mangoes at a feast brought tears to my eyes. However, that’s how much his self needed to break down before he was ready to merge with the divine. That is in complete contrast to craving spiritual experiences or taking pride in them because it reinforces our ego. Liberation demands completely breaking down every fiber of individuality you feel in your life because you are inviting the very source of creation. It cannot come until we realize that truth that we are simply one with it. 

In the Rainmaker Swami talks about how is simply an instrument chosen by the divine mother to heal those she chooses to help. It’s easy to see this as the humility of a saint. A recent experience taught me that that’s it not humility. It’s simply his divine nature to be that way. It’s humility for me because I have to try. It’s simply his true nature. That’s what we need to aspire towards if we want to reach the pinnacle. 

Conclusion

You, my dearest family member, are unique, and that’s why your truth is unique. That also means your journey is unique, and your end would be unique. Celebrate your journey, dance for joy at the beauty of the pain and the longing. 

If you need any more convincing, then read one of the finest posts on OS.me by my young friend Kavana. Her words weave magic that will bind your heart and accelerate your journey. The child writes with the blessings of the greatest poets of our generations. 

May you, dear friend, find it within you to dive deep into your yearning and enjoy your pain and ecstasy. It’s truly an unparalleled experience. 

Here is a wonderful song to celebrate all our collective yearnings. 

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