By Suma Varughese June 2004 The search for enlightenment is what drives us, consciously or unconsciously. however, finding the right path is no easy matter for it has to suit our inclination, interest and temperament. while we can’t promise you a custom-made path, we give you the next best alternative—a compilation of 100 paths including 59 formal paths and 41 readers’ experiences to pick and choose from. happy seeking! Brahma VidyaBrahma Vidya is an ancient system of yoga and philosophy, said to have originated in India but relocated in Tibet, from where it was resurrected and presented to the western world (specifically California) under the secular term, Mental Physics. Brought back to India by K.S. Ramanathan who conducted courses in Mumbai after completing a correspondence course in the subject in 1968, Brahma Vidya enjoys popularity among a small gathering of seekers. It is an elaborate eight-month course that progressively introduces the student to eight breathing exercises, their individual affirmations and guidance in meditation, along with lectures on various aspects of spirituality. These form the crux of the path. Starting with pranayama, the eight breaths are: 1. The Memory-Development Breath 2. The Revitalising Breath 3. The Inspiration Breath 4. The Physical Perfection Breath 5. The Vibro Magnetic Breath 6. The Cleansing Breath 7. The Grand Rejuvenation Breath 8. Your Own Spiritual Breath The corresponding affirmations, also called the Nine Positives, are: I am whole. I am perfect. I am strong. I am powerful. I am loving. I am harmonious. I am rich. I am young. I am happy. This is followed by meditation. Participants claim enhancement of creative potential, increased levels of calmness, attainment of robust health and higher energy levels. However, the potential of the path for sincere aspirants goes all the way to enlightenment. Coming as it does from the Tibetan tradition, the breaths activate the chakras and in some cases generate a Kundalini awakening. Contact: Justice M.L. Dudhat,Ph: (022) 22024230 Art of LivingFounded by the charismatic Sri Sri Ravishankar, the Art of Living course is one of the most popular paths today, especially among youngsters and the urban elite. Its core technique is the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing exercise taught over a period of four evenings. A compact package taking not more than half-an-hour, it starts with yogic pranayamas, including the Ujjaya breath, before proceeding to a cycle of three types of breaths done 20 times each, which progresses from slow to medium to fast. This cycle is repeated three times. The exhausted silence into which you slip propels you directly into the thoughtless stage. The course itself has processes and interactive sessions that encourage experiential learning. The hallmarks of AOL are the 3 S’s, viz, sadhana, seva and satsang. Sadhana refers to the daily spiritual practice of Sudarshan Kriya. Seva (service) is encouraged and the organisation has many projects for social and rural uplift. Satsangs in the presence of Guruji (as he is lovingly called by his devotees), comprising bhajans and question and answer sessions, are a special aspect of the AOL brand of spiritual fun, and account for much of its popularity. Song and dance is the order of the day, allowing youngsters to let their hair down and groove while looking for God! Discourses from the guru, active interaction within the group and regular practice of the Sudarshan Kriya are practice enough to fuel the aspirant towards enlightenment. Contact: Ph: (080) 8432274; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;website: www.artofliving.org TheosophyTheosophy, with its motto, ‘There is no religion higher than Truth’, claims to be a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. Followers of Theosophy believe in extrasensory perception, clairvoyant visions, and memories from states of hypnotic regression, as important practices of this movement. Theosophy has been called the Ancient and Divine Wisdom, claimed to have been received from evolved masters in Tibet by its founder, the Russian mystic Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. The Theosophical Society founded in 1875, by Mme Blavatsky along with Col. H.S. Olcott and W.Q. Judge, was aimed at spreading this knowledge. Theosophy seeks the formation of a nucleus of humanity without any distinctions. It upholds the universality of truth and advocates the belief that, shorn of external trappings, all the world’s religions and philosophies propound this Universal Truth. Its philosophy, a blend of oriental religious philosophy with western thought, played a pivotal role in explaining and popularising Hinduism and Buddhism in the West.Theosophy enjoins its followers to cultivate a lofty moral outlook, that is altruistic and compassionate. Positive qualities such as love, patience, kindness and forgiveness, are to be stringently cultivated and life is to be lived for the good of others. Though it believes in the universality of truth as preached by all religions, the concept of a personal, anthropomorphic God is rejected in favour of a kind of pantheism and Theosophists believe in the presence of spiritual entities, or ‘guides’ who support humans in their spiritual quest. Heavily inclined towards the occult, Theosophy advocates a ‘scientific’ study of the rationale behind psychic phenomena as a means to understanding the secret workings of nature. Contact: Ph: (044) 2491 2474;Email: email@example.com;Website: www.ts-adyar.org I write positive now Janaki Ballav Dash,Baripada, OrissaSpirituality entered my life while at college when I read a book by Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh. Subsequently, having lost touch with it, spirituality reappeared in my life through Sai Baba. Working in mainstream media, I write on people and issues to expose hard reality, and sometimes to oblige people. I have undergone tremendous experiences such as losing money and relationships, and in the last quarter of 2002, experienced an evolution of my ‘being’. The latter brought to the fore my inner potential as well as distaste for mainstream journalism. I now understand that no matter how hard you try to avoid it, one is bound to reap the consequences of one’s actions, sooner or later. Thoughts create reality and means is as important as the end. As the means, so the end. Ethics and values always play a vital role; unethical ways are bound to throw you down sooner or later. Today, I no longer need to talk or write to please anyone. Strangely, I also find that people and events are moulding me in a most ‘ethical’ way, without my having to resist as I was doing earlier. I am now free from the cross-currents of mainstream media to find more satisfying and fulfilling careers in holistic and socio-developmental writings. Self-growth is taking me every day to new dimensions in which Sai Baba has played a key role. I have an unwritten but spiritual collaboration with Baba that I will just do the right thing with faith, and he will do the rest. Contact: Ph: (06792) 253424 The Power of NowEckhart Tolle is a phenomenal modern guru who talks about the collective flowering of human consciousness in present times. His first book, The Power of Now, is an international bestseller, translated into 17 languages. Josh Max, writer and musician in New York City, mentions in his interview for the Omega Institute: “Each encounter brought me closer to the man’s stillness and his wisdom, which I gauged by the stillness I felt within myself as I absorbed what he had to say.” The essence of his teaching is spiritual awakening. When the mental noise that we call ‘thinking’ subsides, there is a gap in the stream of thought, but there is no loss of consciousness. In that gap there is full and intense consciousness, but it has not taken any form. At this point, consciousness has given up its identification with form, and realises its own nature. This is the ‘self-realisation’ of consciousness. Stillness, according to Tolle, is pure consciousness. By completely surrendering to the present moment, and by accepting rather than resisting whatever happens in the field of now, brings freedom from suffering. The egoic identity, a manifestation of unconsciousness, is responsible for misery and suffering. The ego needs enemies, and its favourite enemy is the present moment. The only thing that can free you from the past is ‘presence’. Tolle suggests that to truly inhabit the body is the best way of practising presence. Sense the aliveness that is in the body. This takes your attention away from thoughts. The practice of physical movements such as Tai Chi helps. Sensing the body becomes an anchor for staying present in the Now. Secondly, make it your practice to welcome this moment, no matter what form it takes. Say yes to whatever is ‘now’. There is only one moment, but different forms of it. The secret is not to resist these forms. Surrendering to the forms that arise takes you to the formless in yourself. You then sense a spaciousness in whatever happens in your life. People, events, situations, objects—all come and go. Being in the now moment liberates you from form, from the world. With that liberation comes enormous peace. Contact: www.eckharttolle.com Sadhu Vaswani MissionFounded in 1931 at Hyderabad, now in Pakistan, by Sadhu Vaswani, a brilliant academic and freedom fighter, the Mission relocated to Pune in 1949, where it is presently spearheaded by Sadhu Vaswani’s nephew, Dada Jashan Vaswani. A primarily Sindhi-based organisation, it is nevertheless secular and inclusive, open to all faiths and communities. The most laudable value of the Mission is its practice of ahimsa, the protection of all forms of life. Since 1986, it has been celebrating
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