By Suma Varughese
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!
This is a mystical Jewish doctrine received through the tradition of oral transmission. It is a symbolic representation of the path the Divine followed in creation of the universe, and the process by which humanity may return to Divinity along the same path. It is somewhat akin to esoteric Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, and discloses mysteries of Nature, seeking to show the real tie which binds all things together. There are many schools of Kabbalah and numerous writings and traditions. Two of the main ancient volumes are the Sepher Yetzirah and Zohar or the Book of Splendour, first published by Rabbi Moses de Leon in Spain, in 1290 AD.
It is usually classified under four heads, first of which is the practical Kabbalah which deals with talismanic and ceremonial magic. It includes the technique of ascension whereby one enters into trance and sends one’s soul to enter the Merkabah, God’s throne chariot. Next is the literal Kabbalah, based on the relative numerical value of words, a short-hand system of writing, and various permutations of words for metaphysical work. Third is the unwritten Kabbalah, which is purely to be given in oral communication. Finally, there is the dogmatic Kabbalah, which indicates philosophical conceptions respecting Divinity, Angels and beings more spiritual than man; the human Soul and its several aspects or parts; and also pre-existence and re-incarnation and the several worlds or planes of existence.
One of the principal conceptions of the Kabbalah is that spiritual wisdom is attained by Thirty-two Paths, typified by the 10 numbers and the 22 Hebrew letters, these 10 again being symbols of the Divine Emanations, the Sephiroth, the Holy Voices chanting at the Crystal Sea, the Great Sea, the Mother Supernal, Binah; and of the 22 occult forces of the Nature of the Universe symbolised by the 3 primary Elements, the 7 Planets, and the 12 Zodiacal influences of the heavens, which influence human concerns through the path of the Sun in its annual course.
The Tree of Life is central to the practice of Kabbalah, which must be ascended symbolically through meditation. The Tree illustrates the path of reaching the Divine during one’s lifetime.
The 7 lower sephirot (paths) are Sovereignty, Foundation, Endurance, Majesty, Beauty, Loving-kindness and Judgment. The top three, Understanding, Wisdom and Crown (Humility), are mystical steps to unity with God.
Reiki to the rescue
Sugandha, New Delhi
In February 1997, I visited the New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan to buy a few books for my sister who was initiated into Reiki. While leafing through some books I was startled to hear the person manning the stall, who had been trying to catch my attention, say emphatically, “One of your kidneys has stopped working and the other one is very weak.” One of my sisters had died of renal failure and I myself was moderately diabetic and hypertensive. I asked him what I should do about it. He simply told me to stop thinking and stop drinking tea and coffee.
My medical reports did not show any sign of abnormality and I forgot this whole incident. However, after a month or so, I became completely bedridden and then I decided to visit this person: Mr Sharma of Mahipalpur, New Delhi. He started healing me with cosmic energy. It was a miraculous healing. My health improved under his practical holistic guidance, and I was inspired to venture into spirituality. Ms Renuka initiated me into the Reiki I and II.
Within a short time I was a totally changed person who understood the meaning of the word, priority. Many things became unimportant. My next guru, Madabusi Subramanian initiated me into the mastership and then grand mastership of Reiki. Since I was working in a school, I had ample opportunity to give healing energy to children either as a first aid or as cures.
In 2001 September, my sisters and I went on a pilgrimage to Badrinath and Kedarnath. En route, we encountered heavy rain and landslide, forcing us to break our journey and trek arduously to our place of stay. Around 10 p.m. my elder sister complained of difficulty in breathing. There was no electricity and the rain had already made us trek for a long distance. I sat next to my sister and gave her Reiki healing for 30 minutes, after which she slept. Next morning she was fine. We completed our pilgrimage and returned home. She again complained of uneasiness. A cardiologist was consulted and after a routine check he said she had suffered a heart attack two days back.
I was stunned by this miracle. Reiki had saved her without medication for two days. Reiki has helped my sister, me and many others. My experiences are not in the annamaya kosha (physical body) level only. They have risen to pranamaya and, going towards vigyanamaya kosha. I am waiting to reach anandamaya kosha of Eternal Bliss.
Divine Secret Science
Amit Kumar Chatterjee, New Delhi
The mind is the source of all feelings within us, such as happiness, sorrow, doubts and despair. Generally our feelings shape our outlook and attitude. A positive attitude and inner motivation is essential to achieve success in life.
The motivation to change our thoughts and actions is generally caused by the influence of one or more external factors, such as religion, books, spirituality, change in place and contact with one or more persons. However, it is better if we take the guidance of a good spiritual teacher or guru who is able to listen to us, talk with us and guide us towards a better future. An able guru is one who is genuinely interested in the welfare of his followers and equips them with the tools to help them overcome their problems themselves.
In this respect, I would like to mention the name of my friend, philosopher, guide and guru, Swami Krishnanand Maharaj. I came to his contact at a phase in my life when I was in a bewildered, frustrated and melancholic state and negative emotions were running high inside me.
Guruji gave me several physical and mental exercises, and several unknown tools of meditation to follow and hymns to chant. I followed all these earnestly and it made me positiv; my feelings began to change, most of my problems were solved and I found happiness in my life.
Guruji is a great innovator. According to him, the power of God lies within ourselves but in a sleeping state and we need to enliven this power and harness its full potential to achieve success in life. He has devised a set of tools called collectively as ‘Divine Secret Science’ which, if followed properly, could help us awaken the power within us.
The science consists of some new forms of meditation and some tools called Divyastra and Devyastra. It also makes us a receptor and conductor of the healing powers of Mother Nature. Using these powers and energies, we can solve our own problems as well as problems of others miraculously.
Whenever I visit guruji’s ashrams, I find the atmosphere cheerful. He has infused a new spirit in us. Guided by him, we wish to create a new society called ‘Sadvipra Samaj’ that will not be plagued by terror, fear, war, disease, poverty or any other social or political evils. We welcome all in this drive not only for self-improvement but also to make the world a better place to live. Let the divine and cosmic energies, that we call for help in times of distress, bring peace to the world and happiness in everyone’s life.
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1866-1949) was a Russian Armenian teacher who taught a system culled from eastern religions (including Sufism) and the occult, in Europe in the early 1900s. His system, aimed at self-transformation, is called the ‘Fourth Way’.
The Fourth Way uses ordinary life—with all its uncertainty, suffering and pleasures—to come to ‘real’ life. One learns to live consciously, without fear or regret. One works on the body, emotions and mind simultaneously. The aim is to develop a harmonious individual capable of creative responses to life’s opportunities and challenges.
Gurdjieff’s basic belief is that human life is lived in waking sleep; transcendence of the sleeping state requires specific inner work that includes:
• Know thyself: To attain our full potential, we must understand who we are. According to Gurdjieff, if we can see ourselves objectively, we would find that we are actually like machines, living in a trance-like state. Thus the Fourth Way begins with observing oneself. Through specific efforts coupled with guidance, we can awaken.
• See what is not thyself: Self-study involves seeing ourselves as we are, and struggling with the characteristics that prevent us from developing further:
a) We lack unity: The human machine is made of different minds or functions. There are four lower functions: instinctive centre, moving centre, emotional centre and intellectual centre. We need to study these and become aware of their functioning.
b) We lose energy: The process of awakening requires energy, and we lose much of it through harmful tendencies: identification with objects, events or persons; imagination (fantasy); negative emotions based on wrong attitudes, misinformation and imitation; and unnecessary talk.
c) We lie: It is not the small lies we tell others that are harmful. It is when we speak as if we know without direct verification that lying leads us away from the truth about ourselves. Our study must begin with what is real and what is imaginary in us.
• Be thyself: Realising we are asleep is the first step towards awakening. Once we know what we are not, we can focus on becoming what we truly are. A way of doing this is to realise that consciousness varies between four states: Sleep, waking, a higher emotional function, and a higher mental function. We live in the first two states, which are actually states of unconsciousness. We must learn to bring the third and fourth states into our daily lives.
Self-observation is developed through ‘self-remembering’. This begins with observing ‘I’ and goes on to study aspects of us that then serve as a ladder to our higher centres, or Master. To awaken one’s Master—the divine conscious self—is the aim of all self-study.
Isha Yoga is a latter-day version
of yoga formulated by the Coimbatore-based master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. Affiliated to no particular tradition, the Sadhguru claims to have incorporated what is most valid for the modern seeker from various ancient spiritual sciences into one path, which he has termed ‘Isha Yoga’. Isha refers to the formless Divine, and ‘yoga’ is the process of coming in union with that Divine. Isha Yoga aims at ‘attaining yoga through one’s natural self’.
The Sadhguru is said to have developed Isha Yoga as a vehicle to transmit a deep experience of the self. Isha Yoga is easy to integrate into one’s everyday life as it uses worldly responsibilities as a vehicle for personal growth. Its practice does not require a change of lifestyle, belief or religion. It involves simple postures, meditation and ways of transforming one’s energies. This does not require physical agility or any previous knowledge or experience of yoga.
The Sadhguru teaches Isha Yoga in two stages—Yoga of the Divine and Bhava Spandana. The first stage is geared towards helping practitioners experience the truth, rather than just learn about it. It combines Raja Yoga pranayams, and Shoonya meditation, an effortless process of conscious non-doing for 15 minutes at a time. Together, these practices are believed to stimulate release of physical, mental and emotional blocks and activate spontaneous expression of vital energy.
The next step is Bhava Spandana, which involves advanced meditation and has been designed by the Sadhguru to provide the opportunity to experience higher levels of consciousness beyond limitations of body and mind. The aim is to experience boundless love and joy.
The Sadhguru says: “The whole process of yoga is to cultivate your energies in such a way that gradually it breaks the physical limitations and starts experiencing beyond the physical limitations. Isha Yoga prepares the mind, and the pranayama and asanas are to cultivate your body and energy to look beyond your physical reality, to accept everybody as part of yourself. This is just a preparation so that when the energy begins to move, the mind doesn’t resist. The practices will slowly elevate you that way.”
Contact: Isha Foundation,
Ph: (04220) 2319655.
Email: email@example.com; website: www.ishafoundation.org
A syncretistic faith containing elements of Hinduism and Sikhism, the mystic Shiv Dayal of Agra founded it in the 19th century. He imagined the human soul to be Radha, whose goal is merger with her Soami (master), eternal reality, and hence the name ‘Radhasoami’. Dayal emphasised the use of anhad sabda, the divine unstruck sound, for elevation of consciousness. After Dayal’s demise, the faith split in two streams—one headquartered at Beas in Punjab, and the other in Agra. Both retain the core teachings though they have different heads, a living guru being essential to the faith.
The two main aspects of the Radhasoami faith are—bhakti (for the Supreme and the guru) and Surat Shabd Yoga (meditation upon divine light and sound). Part of the practice is Sant Mat meditation, a process to connect with the divine power within:
Getting started: Choose a place and time for meditation. Sit in a relaxed position.
Silencing thoughts: Closing the eyes, focus attention on the middle of what lies before you. The gaze should be loving, and attention focused on a tiny spot. To still the restless mind, repeat the charged Names (simran) given by a living Master. Do this mentally and slowly, so the gaze is not disturbed.
Concentrating on inner light: The attention is collected between and behind the eyebrows, at the third eye. While concentrating on the point in front, you may see coloured lights or flashes. Continue repeating the Names. You might experience ‘inner stars, moon, and sun’. Gaze into the middle of whatever you see, allowing the light and sound to guide you into the inner planes.
Concentrating on inner sound: This step involves listening to the inner sound with the right ear, never the left. Focus attention at the seat of the soul and listen to the inner sound current. Since the soul is held to be of the same essence as the sound current, it travels deeper and deeper within on the sound current. During this practice the Names are not repeated.
Entering the inner region: The inner light and sound are believed to lead into astral regions. The physical world, made of mind, matter, and illusion mixed with some consciousness, is transcended. Beyond the astral region one enters the causal region. Next is the supra-causal region where consciousness predominates, and you recognise that you are soul, of the same essence as the Creator. Ultimately, one reaches the ‘true realm’ from where creative power emanates. Here, the soul is thought to merge with All—consciousness—the ultimate goal of human life.
A guru’s guidance is considered imperative for this practice. The most successful Radhasoami branch in the world is the Beas Satsang. Jaimal Singh Ji Maharaj established his satsang in Beas in 1891. Baba Sawan Singh succeeded him, who was succeeded by Baba Charan Singh Ji. After Charan Singh’s death in 1990, his nephew Gurinder Singh Dhillon became spiritual master.
Contact: Radha Swami Satsang Beas
P.O. Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, Amritsar
Although mainstream Christianity’s belief in a creed and institutional zeal discourage spiritual exploration, thousands of enthusiasts have penetrated Christianity to dwell in ecstatic union with God. They range from St Catherine of Sienna (1347 to 1380 AD), St Francis of Assisi (1182 to 1226), and the great 16th century figures, St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, to name just a few. Like mystics everywhere, their inner experience confirmed for them the truths preached by Jesus Christ; that the kingdom of God was within us, that the Holy Spirit exists (prana, in Indian terminology), and that there is deep joy and bliss in the unitive state.
Christian mysticism’s unique aspects are its focus on the Christ figure and the Bible, its preference for the bhakti mode, and its reliance on the concept of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The fact that Christ died for our sins means that we are already saved, argue the mystics, and therefore have to do nothing to win salvation.
Christian mysticism has no one central path; instead it is a gathering of many different methods. There are, for instance, the great spiritual classics such as The Cloud of Unknowing by an anonymous writer. He suggests that we reach the space of mystery between us and God (the Cloud of Unknowing) by imposing a Cloud of Forgetting between us and our thoughts, feeling and other aspects of our mundane existence. Other texts include Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and The Way of the Pilgrim, also by an anonymous writer. This last suggests the ceaseless repetition of the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
In recent times, a new breed of Christian mystics that seeks to integrate Eastern meditative practices within a Christian framework has arisen. They include Bede Griffiths, the Dominican monk who ran the Shantivanam ashram in Tamil Nadu, where Christianity mingled harmoniously with Hindu meditative practices, and John Main, originator of Christian Meditation. He advocated repetition of the mantra ‘Maranatha’, Aramaic for ‘Come, Lord’. There is also Centring Prayer, by Thomas Keating
Christian Science is a religious movement based on the healing miracles of Christ. It believes that Christ worked his miracles through the application of the ‘science’ of healing.
Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy, an American lady, who herself grappled with various health problems and tried out different cures during her life. Eventually, she healed herself through a revelation about the laws through which Christ healed.
These laws of healing were published by her in a book, Science and Health, which came to be accepted as the textbook of Christian Science. In 1879, she established the Church of Christ, Scientist, which was later changed to First Church of Christ, Scientist. The Church has no ordained clergy, but holds Sunday Services and testimonies from people who have been healed.
Christian Science believes that evil, including illness and death, is the result of one’s erroneous beliefs. Suffering, pain and death have no place in the perfect world that God created and can be cured by prayer and belief in the power of Truth. God who is ‘Infinite Mind’, ‘Spirit’ ‘Truth’ and ‘Love’ has created man in His own image and therefore, only the spirit exists; matter being unreal, no evil can attack it. It is for this reason that Christian Scientists are enjoined not to take any medication, but rely, instead, on practitioners who heal through prayer. Reading Science and Health itself creates miracles of healing, they affirm. When the truth about the non-validity of illness is accepted and realised by the patient, then healing takes place by itself.
Christian Science claims to work on the divine principles of healing by Christ. While Christian Scientists do accept the uniqueness of Christ, they believe that any individual who learns the laws through which he healed, can perform similar healing. Thus Christian Science advocates faith in one’s essential divinity, the realisation of which, helps one to transcend suffering.
Contact: First Church of Christ, Scientist: Ph: (022) 2207 0476
Pilgrimage into Self-Awareness
Dr Vinod Prabhu, Varanasi
I am 49 and an ordained Syrian Catholic priest teaching in Vishwa Jyoti College, Varanasi, run by the Indian Missionary Society, of which I am a member. While principal of the institute, I was diagnosed with a rare haematological disorder, Polycythemia R.V. My health deteriorated drastically, and I was advised a heart transplant. Bed-ridden, I shuddered at the thought of my impending death within six months as predicted by doctors. My condition brought me in touch with the basic meaninglessness of life. As a priest, all my religious practices and rituals seemed to fall short of effect and significance.
I realised that I needed to acquire my own resources to face the situation. A deep dormant desire to experience the Divine in my own way came alive in me, hitherto obscured by academic pursuits, ambition and over-activism. I set the purpose of my newly-found life. However long I lived, I should live purposefully, so that not just life but even death had meaning.
Cosmic Reality, I knew to be beyond my grasp. I also knew that the teachings of masters and religions are not points of destination, but rather of departure. Therefore, it would be wrong to base myself in any tradition or heritage.
What followed was an intense flight into freedom beyond anxieties of life and death, with help from all the scriptures of the world, scientific interpretations of the universe, insights of wise seekers from various traditions, and my own imaginative reflections.
My yearning intensified with glimpses into my own unworthiness; the evil thoughts, dishonest ways and deceptive pretensions I had indulged in, together with my good qualities. This self-awareness reassured me that I was on the right path. All the rest followed effortlessly, it seemed.
Unable to set my profound discernments into words, I could only place them into these incomplete phrases:
You are infinite waters, formless, tasteless, colourless
You flow into me when I stoop and empty myself
You then assume my form… aham brahmasmi
You transform me into yourself… I your infinitely minute form
Brahmavid Brahmai Bhavati, even in this minute little way of mine
I cannot any more afford to think, feel or act as I did early, inflated in my ego
You infill me, enforce me to be as you are…
So true, this whole existence is just extension of myself/yourself… Aatmaivedam Sarvam or Brahmaivedam Sarvam!!
Continuing this pilgrimage, I designed a website, www.carecommune.org, to carry messages of cosmic harmony, oneness, peace and healing. People from all over the world, many invalids and seriously ill, responded. Carecommune is now a symbolic community of seekers, where we invite other people suffering from sickness or loneliness to contact us. We send them vibrations of love-peace-joy-health, and communicate with them personally; it is just the sharing of our minute sarvabhutahite rata. Giving our time and our harmonious magnetic vibrations totally free of cost, we experience an intense ‘orgasmic’ pleasure, relating with people.
All our effort is aimed at bringing people in close contact with the magnetic Oneness of Infinite Love, which you may call by any name. (I call it ISH, from It/She/He).
Though still under medication, I enjoy every moment of the day. I have resumed teaching, continue my pilgrimage and working for Carecommune. I feel no need for any diversions or ‘weekends’—my point of attention when I was ‘successfully active’. The overwhelming peace that I experience deep within and a sound sense that all is well are the only proof of my unique pilgrimage. I wish that every particle that comes in contact with me, would experience the magnetic harmonisation of this pilgrimage.
If numinescence needs an adjective, the word ‘exquisite’ lends itself readily to Osho’s teachings. The Master who loved India from every pore of his being, had extraordinary ability to access world wisdom and convey its pure essence in simple yet evocative language. Misunderstood because of his frank confrontation with the issue of sexual repression as hindrance to spiritual progress, he provides piercing insight into the use of sex in tantra: “(Tantra has used)… breathing rhythms as secret keys. They even allow sexual intercourse as a meditation, but they allow it only when your breathing rhythm remains constant in intercourse, otherwise not. If the mind is involved, then the breathing rhythm cannot remain the same, and if the breathing rhythm remains the same, the mind is not involved at all. If the mind is not involved in such a deep biological thing as sexual intercourse, then the mind will not be involved in anything else.”
His unique contribution is to draw upon various disciplines to creatively synthesise mystical teachings and practices into powerful forms of meditation that are known to result in growth for the seeker. Light, music and dancing are used in celebration of life itself. The Dalai Lama says of Osho: “…(he) is an enlightened master who is working with all possibilities to help humanity overcome a difficult phase in developing consciousness.”
Osho introduced new kinds of meditation attuned to modern living, including Dynamic Meditation, Nataraj, Kundalini, Nadabrahma, Whirling and Gourishankar. They involve synergistic combinations of breathing, sound notes, music, bodily movements, energetic dance and silent relaxation.
Dynamic meditation teaches breathing to create chaos within the repressed system, which helps create bioenergy. The second step is to actively release repressed energy, which creates emptiness. Then the sound hoo is used to hit the sex centre, to generate its transformative energy, helping it to rise upwards. These three cathartic methods are used in preparation for meditation, while learning to stay with the moment, aware, and in the witness mode. The three stages of intense activity create a climax of tension in one’s physical, vital and mental bodies. The fourth stage is total relaxation. In this no-action state, the cosmic and the individual begin to interact with each other until boundaries are dropped. Cosmic attunement and the realisation of wholeness are a natural consequence.
Contact: Osho Meditation Resort, Ph: (020) 4019999; website:www.osho.com
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