By Parveen Chopra March 2001 To be spiritual is to live each moment in intense communion with life, a union that requires sloughing off layers of identity and conditioning until you reach a void by attainingsamadhi. Six ways to blissTranscendental Meditation It involves repeating the mantra selected by your TM teacher. The mantra gets increasingly refined and acts as a vehicle for the inward journey of the mind. Eventually, both mantra and thoughts are transcended, leaving pure consciousness. Dynamic Meditation Popularized by Osho, it starts with 10 minutes of deep chaotic breathing. For the next ten minutes, there is screaming, crying, jumping, dancing, whatever. The next stage is jumping and shouting ‘Hoo’ loudly. Then STOP right there. Be absolutely still for the next 10 minutes. The Sufi Way Murakabah is meditating under the master’s guidance. In zikr you repeat a mantra-like formula. Qawwali produces a state of ecstasy through music. The dervish dance induces a loss of lower self-consciousness. Mindfulness Popularized by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, mindfulness means being aware from moment to moment. Yoga Nidra Rediscovered by Swami Satyananda, founder of the Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, you begin by rotating your consciousness through different parts of your body, relaxing each. Follow this by feeling polar opposites such as heaviness and lightness. The last segment is a set of visualizations. Preksha Dhyan Rediscovered by Acharya Tulsi, Preksha awakens your discrimination, thereby controlling passions and purifying emotions. Meditation : The New Mantra By Parveen Chopra Meditation is finally coming home after spreading its message all over the world. Today, tens of techniques are available off-the-shelf. ‘Interest in meditation has picked up in the past three to four years,’ agrees Swami Chaitanya Keerti, former editor of Osho Times, published by the Osho commune, Pune. What is also new is that the latest converts are the urban educated. Surprisingly too, most converts to the contemplative practices of Buddhism, a melancholic religion to the nonbeliever, are the elite and the intellectual. Meditation is even studded with glamour. Shabana Azmi, Kavita Lalitaji’ Chowdhry and Bishen Singh Bedi have all done the grueling 10-day vipassana meditation course. Says Bedi: ‘Out of the world! Absolutely fantastic!’ Stress management is influencing the corporate sector’s receptivity to meditation. Companies that have institutionalized meditation include the Godrej group, Lupin Laboratories, Ayodhya Paper Mills and the Nagarjuna and Alacrity groups. At Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd, Delhi, regular sessions of the Jain system of preksha dhyan are held. An in-house study revealed that 75 per cent of the practitioners reported a reduction in anxiety, improvement in relationships and enhanced enthusiasm for work and life. Meditation is also finding use as a therapeutic tool in medicine. A growing number of up market hospitals are using it as a complementary therapy. In Delhi, Dr Bimal Chhajer has started the Saaol heart program to reverse heart disease through meditation (preksha dhyan), diet and lifestyle choices. Meditation is also being used to treat behavioral and psychiatric problems. In Mumbai, Dr Rajendra Chokani, a psychiatrist at the Sunflower Nursing Home, uses vipassana for his patients and claims a success rate of 80 per cent. The wide acceptance of meditation is due to its proven benefits. Deep relaxation releases stress, unblocking energy and creativity. Longtime practitioners show increased productivity at work and score better on personality development and self-actualization scales. Did you say ‘yes’ to meditation? Chances are everyone around you is. All that lives is Holy By Amit Jayaram An aghori lives in a cremation ground and cooks his food on the funeral pyre, before which he also meditates. His begging bowl is a male human skull. He eats and drinks anything, even his own urine and faeces and human flesh. The loincloth is his only garment, he smears his body and matted locks with ashes from the funeral pyre. He uses dead men’s shrouds for bedding. He is a devotee of Shiva, also known as Aghora (‘not terrible’). He turns dharma on its head; if all life is Brahman, all is divine. After being ceremonially initiated with liquor, food collected from the lower castes and a secret mantra, the initiate doesmaun sadhana (silent meditation) for 41 days in a cremation ground. After this, he awakens his inner light through the ritual of alakha jagana. As his inner energy focuses, he spontaneously calls ‘alakha‘ even as his body shudders uncontrollably. Generally nomadic, aghoris rarely frequent one cremation ground for more than six months. Along with their skull bowl, they often carry a bell that they ring while chanting Lord Shiva’s names. This path of walking the razor’s edge is not for everyone. What is it that leads some to live lives of such severe penance, of such bizarre practices when more moderate paths are at hand? They say there are as many paths as there are seekers. Even in this mystical land of India, few choose this arduous way to the divine. There are some eternal lessons to be learned from aghoris. Surely death, decay and decomposition are as integral to existence as love, life and laughter. To feel this deeply, to transcend fear and disgust as much as greed and anger, to feel that all that lives is holy, as does the aghori, must be truly ennobling. The Journey Inward By Suma Varughese Transformation, most thinkers agree, begins with restlessness. If this restlessness converts into a quest, it can lead to a revelation-that split-second parting of the mind’s veil that flashes a vision of the sought-after goal. Transformation is the slow, steady infusion of that vision into reality. It means moving from seeing anew to being anew. The tools of transformation are awareness and acceptance. We can only change what we are aware of, and we can only change when we accept it. Once acceptance is won, awareness can effect a change, in much the same way as the sun dissolves the morning mist. As we move beyond the conditioning that determined our thoughts, words and actions, we become increasingly aware of being whole and perfect. Freed of the need for fronts, we become who we are. In time, fear dissolves, helped by our growing sense of self, and above all, by an increasing trust in the universe. Freedom from conditioning frees us to see life as it is. As we take responsibility for our actions and spin away from the orbit of others’ control, we taste the freedom of being our own master. Simultaneously, this generates respect for the freedom of others, which we now see as a fundamental right. As we learn to leave behind selfish concerns, we begin to focus on the larger world. A sure sign that our growth is maturing is an ability to transcend dichotomies; we become childlike and mature, playful and serious, loving and detached, flexible and firm. We are now well into the transformation process. Expect change to speed up, bringing us to the domain of surrender. Here, we let go of all personal concerns. Trusting and loving life and the universe completely, we allow life to live us, rather than the reverse. Having penetrated the layers of our own identity, we merge into the Universe. This is samadhi, the region of Sat, Chit, Ananda—existence, consciousness, bliss—attributes of the Creator. But even this is not the end. That occurs when, letting go of even the Creator’s identity, we plumb the void of consciousness. The journey is done. We are home.Dramatic Experiences Deepa Kodikal A Journey Within The Self is the chronicle of Deepa Kodikal’s astonishing spiritual adventures. They range from a union with Krishna and Shiva, a state she describes as ‘divine intercourse’, to witnessing Vishwarupa, the nature of the universe. Kodikal didn’t just see all this, she was all this. ‘I saw in a tremendous flash that—my God! I am the Lord!’ ‘The Lord,’ says she, ‘has perfect segmented awareness, as also universal awareness. He is aware of what each being thinks, talks, knows, tastes, hears and smells, individually and collectively.’ The nature of the Lord is the nature of man, affirms Mumbai-based Kodikal. She describes her present state as ‘beautiful’. ‘There’s a constant sense of worship of life.’ Sharon Clarke Sequeira ‘I moved into spirituality via maudlin and motherhood,’ says Sharon Clarke Sequeira, a Miss India runner up in 1985. Sharon has been a seeker since age 14, when Jesus Christ appeared to her and told her to move within. This was the beginning of a path that synthesized Christian thought and Indian spiritual practice. Her guide is Dr Jayant Balaji Athawale, an auto-hypnotist and founder of the Sanatana Bharatiya Sanskriti Sanstha, which approaches spirituality scientifically. Chanting ‘Hail Mary’ for two years (members are encouraged to chant the name of the deity they believe in) yielded dramatic dividends. Few events or people upset her now, anger seldom arises and she has transcended her extended love affair with food that had sent her weight soaring. Mahadev Mangela Mahadev Mangela once settled all disputes with his fist. Today, he says: ‘From wanting to hurt, I’ve turned to healing. Now I realize the other is not the other, he is my brother.’ The vehicle for his transformation is the Swadhyaya philosophy, which preaches the concept of the God within as the source of kinship between all mankind. Through this noble philosophy, Mahadevbhai has flowered into an orator, poet, administrator and leader. He is also a key lieutenant of Swadhyaya
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