Kamlesh D Patel, or Daaji, as he is fondly addressed as, is the fourth spiritual guide in the Sahaj Marg tradition of Raja Yoga meditation. He is also the third President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM) which was founded by Shri Ram Chandra of Shajahanpur in 1873.
62-year-old Daaji has been a follower of the Heartfulness lineage since his early 20s. Born in Gujarat, he met his guide, Babuji—the second guru in the lineage and successor of Shri Ram Chandra—in 1976 while studying pharmacy in Ahmedabad and became a regular at Heartfulness Meditation. After graduating with honours in 1980, he moved to the US and practised pharmacy in New York City while also continuing the Raja Yoga system of Sahaj Marg. Daaji took over the reigns of the mission in 2014 after the demise of his predecessor Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (Chariji).
Although based in the USA, Daaji has been travelling across the globe since the last few years, conducting meditation with Yogic Transmission for seekers worldwide and speaking at the mission’s many centres and ashrams. He is also a prominent columnist for esteemed publications like The Huffington Post and The Speaking Tree, along with publishing his own Heartfulness magazine. He is also an innovator and researcher, and has endorsed research teams at the Centre for Research, Education, Sadhana and Training (CREST) in Bengaluru. SRCM has also come up with Kanha Shanti Vanam, a retreat centre set in the lap of nature, amidst the lush green fields of Chegur village near Hyderabad.What prompted you to take the first step towards meditation?
I was drawn very naturally towards meditation. When you fall in love with something, you don’t need a reason—it just happens. I used to pull my father’s dhoti and insist that he take me to the temple, even when I had barely started walking.
I have always been fascinated by evolution and destiny. In my own life, there have been pivotal moments when life took a turn, one of which happened in 1976 when I was 19 years old and studying pharmacy in Ahmedabad. One of my college friends often watched me trying to meditate, and one day, he said, “Why are you wasting your time closing your eyes? You are always disturbed when you meditate.” I said, “Well, I am trying my best, but I don’t know how.” So he took me to meet a very humble lady in her forties who asked me, “Why do you want to meditate?” I said, “It’s a natural wish. I want to meditate and travel all over India like Swami Vivekananda. I want to become like him and realise God.” She said, “My teacher says that God is everywhere. When He is everywhere, why not look for Him where you are?”
Then, after challenging a few more of my fundamental beliefs, she said, “Let’s not discuss further. I will initiate you into this Heartfulness system with Transmission.” Sitting for that first meditation session was the most amazing experience I had ever had in my life. It proved to me that this system was right for me.
Tell us about your journey from founding a pharmacy business to leading one of the prominent spiritual organisations in the world.
I was still a student when I started Heartfulness Meditation. After graduating, I moved to the US and, over time, established a group of pharmacies in New York City. But during that whole period, I also continued to meditate with my first teacher, Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur (Babuji), until he passed away in 1983 and then with his successor, Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari of Chennai (Chariji).
Worldly life and spiritual life were never separate for me. The same enthusiasm and heart that went into my meditation practice also went into building my business and living with my family. Yoga is all about integration and bringing underlying spiritual qualities into everyday life. About 10 years ago, Chariji asked me to move back to India and focus on Heartfulness—the organisations and the practice. Luckily, I had always delegated and trusted my colleagues to develop their area of work in the pharmacy business, so it was a relatively smooth transition to withdraw from the hands-on responsibility of the business and immerse myself in Heartfulness. Then, in 2011, Chariji announced that I would succeed him as the President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission and Global Guide of Heartfulness, a position which I assumed in December 2014 when he left this world. Again, this process evolved very naturally.
You have been guiding scientific researchers on physiological and genetic effects of meditation and Yogic Transmission. What has been your inference so far?
Spirituality and science should not be treated as opposites or rivals! While the body of scientific research on the effect of Heartfulness meditation is still developing, the results have so far been quite conclusive and very encouraging. Heartfulness Meditation with Transmission improves the quality of sleep, reduces the severity of asthma, reduces blood pressure, increases telomere length on the ends of human DNA strands, reduces stress, and promotes well-being.
But the really important transformative effects are not measurable by science as of now because they are in the expansion of consciousness to encompass human potential. Such effects can, however, be experienced directly by those practising Heartfulness, due to the effect of Yogic Transmission.
[According to Daaji, Transmission is defined as the utilisation of divine energy for the transformation of man. However, we are not talking about physical transformation. Transmission here suggests nourishment that allows for a person’s unlimited spiritual growth. Thus, Yogic Transmission is a stream of infinite divine energy coming from an infinite source.]
Your latest book, The Heartfulness Way, is based on practising Heartfulness. How do you define Heartfulness?
Our entire life is led by feelings and inspirations, and that is the role of the heart. When we manage to listen to these feelings and capture the inspiration that comes from within, I think we can master our life by listening to the heart again and again. And the whole exercise of fine-tuning the heart with the mind is through this meditation on the heart. That is why we call this process Heartfulness Meditation. A wealth of everyday qualities come through Heartfulness: love, acceptance, service, humility, compassion, empathy, and a higher purpose of existence.
Which is the easiest way to travel from mind to heart?
By meditating on the heart. In fact, the heritage of teachers of Heartfulness do not separate heart and mind, and often use the words interchangeably, referring to the energetic field of the human system, also known in yoga as the subtle body or sukshma sharir. Patanjali also says in his Yoga Sutras:
Hrdaye citta samvit By practising Samyama on the heart, knowledge of the mind is attained.
It is we who create the separation between heart and mind by allowing our mental faculties to be pulled in all sorts of directions and cluttering the heart with so much emotional baggage that it is difficult to have a clear flow between the two. In Heartfulness, we first remove all this clutter, purifying the heart.
We then learn to experience and understand the role of consciousness, which is like a canvas, a field of action grounded in the heart, upon which the other functions of the mind play out—things like intellect, thinking capacity, and ego. In Heartfulness, we use the heart to regulate the mind, and they integrate naturally, with every part fulfilling its natural function.
What is the purpose of meditation?
The purpose of meditation is to explore and experience the simplest and purest aspect of our existence—our soul. In the process, our consciousness expands, level by level, as we move from the complexity of the mind to the simplicity of the heart. As we move on, we end up realising the potential behind consciousness!
You say, in your book, that meditation is the vehicle that takes us on an infinite journey. But if the journey is infinite, can we ever arrive?
Yes and no. In an Infinite journey, there is no endpoint. You may consider it to be asymptotic towards the end of the journey, always swimming towards an ever-receding infinite goal. Yet there is certainly a sense of having passed through and transcended definite stages on the journey.And there is a map of this journey, which is known as the Yatra of the spiritual anatomy towards this goal. So many different stages are there: contentment, peace, restlessness, love, surrender, vast capacity, higher forms of peace, letting go of desires, becoming one with Divinity, and so on. Each stage is a new state of enlightenment, as enlightenment is not something fixed. As we grow we become enlightened to a new level.
Initially. our journey takes us to first base—we become humane, letting go of all sorts of habits and tendencies, fears, greed, jealousy, guilt, desires, and prejudices. That, in itself, is an amazing thing, because these behaviours, normally, are so ingrained that it is hard to get rid of them. With Heartfulness Cleaning, it becomes relatively easy and painless, as the root cause of the behaviours, our samskaras, are removed. With this infinite journey, every station becomes our home!
What are samskaras and how can one clean them?
Everything we feel, think, or do can potentially leave an impression in our field of consciousness. When they harden into patterns they are known as samskaras. For example, if you drive through heavy, crazy traffic to go to work in the morning it can colour your mood, and you may be irritable and less friendly with your co-workers because of the stress. If you do this every day and develop a habit of a defensive and complaining nature, your persona becomes set into a pattern of irritability. The more people know you as irritable, the more they will be defensive with you and so the vicious cycle is perpetuated, and the behaviour becomes more and more fixed.
In Heartfulness, we do a process of ‘cleaning’ every evening after finishing work, so as to refresh and rejuvenate our consciousness, just like we would take a bath for our physical body. We remove all the heaviness, all the rigidity, and all the attachments. We wipe the slate clean, so as not to carry over today’s complexities into tomorrow. This process is very liberating and, over time, the heart and mind become light, pure, simple, and able to expand into an increasingly greater potential.
How can Heartfulness help steer this world which has been spiralling into a huge chaos, rapidly so in the last one decade?
Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” We have to change ourselves first. We start with meditation; we start with transforming and simplifying ourselves first and then expand our radius to include others. A day will eventually come when together, we will be capable of changing the direction humanity is taking.
As we nurture the subtle conditions bestowed during meditation, over time, they create a beautiful environment. Imagine what sort of an environment can be created at home when we meditate, our family members meditate, and our friends also come home and meditate. There will be so much lightness, peace, and joy. Everyone will be happy in that space.
An atmosphere that is created by our collective thoughts and feelings is called an egregore. When we meditate together we create a subtle field of loving unity. And when enough people meditate, a particular tipping point in the egregore will be reached. Then, the course of humanity will change.
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