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!
Moksha moolam guru kripa
Dr Anil Kumar Agrawal, Varanasi
In 1976, at the age of 26, I was initiated into sanyas by Osho. I had been reading him extensively for about six years. After initiation I started wearing saffron clothes, Osho’s mala and started doing meditation. Meanwhile, I also got busy with my family and career. I, however, maintained my contact with Osho. I would read his books, ashram’s newsletter, listen to his cassettes and meditate. Twice a year, I would visit Pune to sit in Osho’s presence and attend his discourses.
In 1990, when Osho left his body I was crestfallen. My journey to self-realisation had hardly begun and my guide had left me. I immersed myself in his work. I would prepare extracts from his discourses and get them published in newspapers and magazines. I would organise his taped discourses and distribute his books and Osho Times. But I had no peace as I missed him very much. Two things bothered me: Shall I ever meet such a man again who is at the ultimate height of consciousness, and if I had questions, who will reply.
Through sheer coincidence, I again met a man who was fully capable to answer all my questions. Since then, I am with this enlightened master, Sri Sadhuram Sadhoo, whom we call Guruji. He lives in Shri Awadhut Ashram in Kurukshetra, Haryana.
A vaidya by profession, he is known as ‘doctor sahab’ in and around Kurukshetra. According to him, spiritual practice is not what you do for an hour or two in a day—it is a day-long process. He explains: ‘‘When you are engaged in some work, some act, be total in it. Do it with 100 per cent involvement. When you are interacting with someone, your behaviour and conduct must be right. And when you are unoccupied, doing nothing, put your total attention on your incoming and outgoing breath. And at any given time, you will be doing one of these three things.’’
With Sadhooji, my life has become unending bliss. Every moment spent with him is a benediction. Looking at my association with Osho and now with Guruji, I have no hesitation in saying that there is no difference between the two.
My own experience is that attending masters’ discourses, reading scriptures and meditating help you in your sadhana. But if you want to go farther, you need the company of a living master.
The path of truth is not a path where you can go on walking and reach your destination once the master has shown you the way. It is more like a labyrinth, a path with tracks going in all directions, and unless your guru is near you, you are sure to be lost. However, it is difficult to be with a living master. Your concepts, beliefs and ideologies are mercilessly crushed. Your self-image falls into dust. You become a nobody in his presence.
Now I go to Kurukshetra every month on Full Moon day and live with guruji. For the first time in my life, I have developed the faith that through accompaniment, surrender and service, I shall be able to have his grace that will lead me to my ultimate aim—liberation. Moksha Moolam Guru Kripa(the cause of liberation is guru’s grace), says Guru Gita.
Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga
Integral Yoga, or Purna Yoga, is the term given by Sri Aurobindo to the path of sadhana evolved by him and his spiritual counterpart, the Mother. As its name suggests, Integral Yoga seeks to integrate all aspects of life for the purpose of evolution of planetary and human consciousness. Nothing is to be excluded in this path, for, as Sri Aurobindo said: ‘‘All life is yoga.’’
Traditional yoga speaks of different ‘planes’ of being, each of which has its own qualities and degrees of awareness. Of the lower planes we are more immediately aware—the physical being, the vital being (life force) and the mental being, or mind. Above the mind, according to Sri Aurobindo’s classification, are the Higher Mind, the Illumined Mind, the Intuitive Mind and the Over Mind. Each of these planes represents a further ascent towards the Source of all, and consequently, each plane embodies a larger awareness and power of illumined action.
According to Sri Aurobindo, there was a plane above the Over Mind, which he called ‘Supermind’. This is not another aspect of mind, but a principle of active will and knowledge superior to mind, a kind of ‘truth consciousness’. ‘‘As its knowledge is always true, so too its will is always true; it does not fumble in its handling of things or stumble in its paces,’’ wrote Sri Aurobindo.
The Supermind is the critical element that makes Integral Yoga truly transformational. Only the Supermind can ‘‘descend, create a new Truth-Consciousness and divinise Life’’. The ‘movement’ being worked towards in Integral Yoga is a double one—an ‘ascent’ towards the supramental plane, and the ‘descent’ of that force into all other planes and aspects of being through a process of surrender and self-opening. The ultimate aim is the complete divinisation of life.
Sri Aurobindo has given three steps to achieve this integral transformation. The first is psychic transformation where the individual acts from guidance of the psychic being (core of the self) rather than the ego. The next step, often concurrent with the first, is to become aware of the universal self. The third is supramental transformation in which the power of the Supermind acts upon the individual and transforms him into a supramental being.
Contact: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
Ph: Central Bureau (0413) 2339648;
The grace of the guru
Meera Dutta, Delhi
Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda of Datta Peetham, Mysore, has been guiding millions over the last four decades and I have been his ardent disciple for the last 30 years.
Swamiji transformed me from a mindless, involved and intense romantic into a consciously caring, affectionate and considerate human being, a strict employer and a mildly detached individual.
He freed me from my shackles by gently guiding me through the paces of the karmic cycle with dharmic ways. He speaks with love and compassion, reassuring us of his constant presence and giving a caring ear to all personal problems.
Not all my problems were sorted out, yet I learnt to accept them with understanding and discrimination. The inner mind strengthened itself against all disappointments, disasters and often devastation. In my guru’s presence I forgot the outside world and derived peace from his speeches, soul-stirring bhajans and music therapy for which he is world famous.
Just a glance from him, a smile or even just a darshan, has been enough. Even when distances deprived me of darshan in person, dreams were the medium, and the inner voice was always there….
There have been so many lapses on my part in these 30 years but instead of harsh judgments it has been lessons given to understand the relentless law of karma unfolding itself. To be honest, I turned to Sri Swamiji only for his love and compassion and not for some great spiritual realisation. The latter, too, came quietly, unobtrusively, as I followed the path.
The path was easy. I did not change my lifestyle or my way of thinking or behaving. I automatically did all the things I was comfortable with. When I deprived myself of ‘temptations’ or ‘pitfalls’, my self-confidence and self-esteem improved enough to totally trust myself. Once this transformation took place, I was able to discriminate with wisdom why people did what they did and to accept it.
Swamiji’s music is entwined around Nada, so cleverly hidden in melodies to give the nerves a soothing massage through sounds. Some of the sounds awaken you, some enter your spine and some rhythmic beats blend with your heart. You don’t need to close your eyes and strain to meditate… meditation is what the Nada drowns you in. My nerves calmed down, the migraine stopped, the loneliness diminished and I am whole again.
Swamiji is childlike and always asks us to shed those acquired inhibitions and laugh and be cheerful. He had once reprimanded my tendency to brood and advised: ‘Look at creation, revel in nature and its bounty.’ I laughed and learnt to talk to my plants in my garden and was amazed to see them grow strong and healthy because I touched them.
Buddhism—The eight-fold path
Buddhism is a moral philosophy that advocates a singularly individual pursuit of wisdom. Though referred to as a religion, Buddhism’s rejection of the belief in God as Creator who controls cosmological human actions makes it more a philosophical or psychological way of life.
Every true Buddhist aspires for the ultimate goal of Nirvana, liberation from the cycle of rebirth in his lifetime by living according to the moral code preached by Gautam the Buddha, in whose unwavering search for the Truth, is reflected the simplicity and directness of the path he taught.
Crown prince of the ancient kingdom of Kapilavastu, Gautam Siddhartha grew up in luxury, shielded from the harsh realities of life behind till, stepping out of the palace grounds, he was confronted with the inevitability of pain in the form of old age, sickness and death. Inspired by a hermit’s tranquil poise even in the face of life’s sorrows, he donned the ascetic’s robe and, leaving behind his wife and infant son, went in search of a way out of the cycle of birth and death.
For six years he undertook rigorous fasting and penances under ascetic teachers of the time, but when he realised that he was no closer to Nirvana, his strong resolve enabled him to discontinue his efforts and instead follow a middle path, rejecting both extremes of mortification and indulgence. Resolving not to rise till he had answered the question of life, he sat to meditate under a Bodhi tree. Forty-nine days later, under the morning star, Siddhartha became the Buddha, ‘the Enlightened One’.
Thus, ‘awakened from the sleep of ignorance’, the Buddha then expounded on his doctrine of the Four Noble Truths: Suffering is universal; its cause is desire; the cessation of desire leads to cessation of suffering and that Nirvana can be achieved by following the eight-fold path of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
The middle path of the Buddha does not include dogmatism, ritualism or metaphysical speculation. Each individual is himself responsible for his progress on the path to Enlightenment. Buddhism explains the world as operating on the immutable principle of cause and effect. According to this, an individual’s deeds from this or earlier lifetimes unfailingly bear him the fruits of his own actions (karma). Actions, the Buddha explains, are either wholesome or unwholesome and produce the appropriate results as surely as ‘‘…the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage’’.
Thus, Buddhists are enjoined to a strict moral code of living, even though Buddhism does not believe in the concept of sin per se. A life lived with awareness and compassion helps the seeker to penetrate the veil of illusion and understand the true nature of life, which is nothing but sorrowfulness (dukkha), impermanence (anicca) and emptiness (anatta).
Contact: Website; www.buddhanet.net
Gaining God’s friendship
Captain R.S. Gill, Chandigarh
I am captain of a merchant ship working in the offshore oil field of Bombay High. About three years back while on leave, I attended a Reiki course. Except for the first 28 days I did not practise it. But slowly my mind started becoming calm and quiet.
During one of my trips on board I came across a pamphlet called Peace of Mind, apparently left behind by the outgoing Master. I made a gist of it, which came to 21 points. I put that on a poster in my cabin.
This constant reminder helped me make a conscious effort to change my attitude towards the people around me. Love for one and all was the main theme, which really took deep roots.
One of the 21 points states ‘Gain God’s friendship’. After my daily prayer, I started a ritual where I would address God as if He was present in my cabin on board the ship. I used to tell Him about my happiness, my worst fears, areas where I required His help. At no stage did I ever ask for material comforts. It was more like a son talking to his Father. Having totally surrendered to Him, I started accepting everything as the will of God. Gradually, I noticed that life had become smooth and easy for me.
The cumulative effect of all that I have stated was profound peace and tranquillity. In this altered state of mind, one day I experienced the unbelievable on board the ship.
About two years ago, one under-trainee Navigation Officer (NWKO) was detailed to sail with me. In no time I became aware of his tormented state of mind.
One day, just prior to sleeping, a thought came into my mind: ‘‘I wonder what is troubling him?’’ Early next morning I had a dream where I saw a photograph. Still in my dream I asked: ‘‘Who is this?’’ I got an immediate answer: ‘‘This is his girlfriend and she is the cause of his anguish.’’ I could not see the person who was talking but the voice was crystal clear. I requested more information. I was amazed at what followed. It was something like data transmission. When I woke up, I had every possible information about the girl.
At 6 a.m. when I went to the bridge, he was there. When confronted, at first he tried to avoid the subject. When I told him that I knew the girl, he refused to believe me. He went to his cabin and came back with a group photograph of seven girls. I pointed out his girlfriend to him. He was flabbergasted. I told him that the photograph that I had seen in my dream had her in a white headgear. He immediately produced the second photograph with the white headgear (she is a nursing assistant).
He asked me three questions relating to her age, her weight, and her height. When he got the correct answers he was nonplussed. So was I because I knew everything about a girl I had never met in my life. Before signing off from the ship I told him that this friendship would not culminate in any relationship and that he would ruin three lives when he got married to his mother’s choice. I met him six months back; the same has come true.
I have not been able to understand this unbelievable experience. I will be grateful if some reader can throw light on the subject.
Prayer to the Almighty
Dr D. Purushothaman, Kollam, Kerala
In the pursuit of self-realisation for the last 30 years, I had travelled to many spiritual places, ashrams, met many gurus and studied psychological, philosophical and spiritual books. I had attended many spiritual satsangs, philosophical and intellectual discussions all these years. I was doing a psychic surgery on myself, i.e., I was dissecting and analysing each and every part of my mind. But my mind and intellect could not give me an answer.
I was puzzled and could not proceed further. Finally I realised that my so-called mind and intellect had totally failed and I was absolutely helpless and had experienced
my nothingness. There was a gradual annihilation of my ego.
As I was struggling with my helplessness and nothingness, all of a sudden I had a clear understanding that the path of absolute faith, devotion, unconditional surrender and constant remembrance can take me to an ultimate realisation. Now prayers to the Almighty have become a routine and I am sincerely praying to the supreme power to guide me, bless me and bestow upon me the absolute realisation.
As I continued my state of self-surrender, constant remembrance and prayer to the Almighty, I had an intuition that I am in constant and continuous communion with the God, and experiencing and enjoying his absolute blessings. Each and every moment, I am living by the will of God.
The moment I realised that I am living by the will of God, my mind became extremely light and I was unable to explain the state of my mind.
The realisation that everything in my life is because of the will of the Almighty may be the beginning of my final realisation.
Ph: (0474) 2745051 Theravada Buddhism
After his enlightenment, the Buddha claimed that the liberation he discovered was accessible to anyone with the commitment to exercise the effort required to pursue the Noble Eightfold Path to its end. After him, however, certain aspects of the teachings came to be questioned by the Buddhist community, which gave way to various schisms, ultimately resulting in different schools of Buddhism.
Of these, Theravada Buddhism, loosely translated as ‘the way of the elders’, remains the closest to the original teachings of the Buddha. Historically, its doctrines were made definitive during a council of Buddhist monks in Patna in the third century BC, after which they remained more or less unchanged. Today, Theravada Buddhism is especially predominant in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar.
While the Four Noble Truths remains integral to the philosophy of Theravada Buddhism, there is more importance given to right concentration, the eighth of the eight-fold path. As a result, meditation while remaining detached from worldly life is accorded primary importance. Stress is laid on monastic living as being crucial for the path to nirvana.
Doctrinally, Theravada Buddhism differs from the other major school, the Mahayana, in that it stresses on the seeker’s attainment of enlightenment as an ‘arihant’. The ‘arihant’ aspires to liberation from the wheel of life for his own sake and differs from the more altruistic Mahayana ideal of attainment of enlightenment primarily with the aim of supporting other souls in their liberation. Though this has sometimes led to an unjust criticism of Theravada as a less noble or lofty path, it is important not to see these two schools as being in opposition. Rather, the basic premise of Theravada, that each individual could purposefully strive towards his own liberation, provides a framework to support the followers of later schools, which stress on the compassion ideal. At the same time a path of meditation and monasticism cannot but nurture selfless altruism in the persevering seeker.
Contact: Website; www.buddhanet.net
This school of Buddhism emerged from the Mahasanghikas, who were one of the earliest to break off from the prevailing tradition. Many Buddhists saw the monastic order with its insistence on scholarly pursuit and rigid scriptural interpretation as too exclusive for the lay followers. This form of Buddhism was called Mahayana or ‘the greater Ox-Cart’ and could refer to broad-based following that it began to enjoy. Though the essential doctrine remained unchanged, it incorporated many metaphysical aspects into Buddhism.
The main difference from Theravada lies in the concept of the Buddha as Lokottara (supramundane) and only externally connected with the world. Unlike the arihant nirvana of Theravada, Mahayana believes in the ideal of the Bodhisattva. Literally ‘one whose essence is perfect wisdom’, the Bodhisattva is an individual who selflessly delays his own enlightenment in order to support other souls trapped in the cycle of birth and death.
Mahayana Buddhism is further divided into two systems: Madhyamika emphasises the middle path. Eschewing extreme theories, that of reality as well as of the unreality, it advocates the concept of relativity.
The other, Yogacara school, emphasises yoga as an effective method to attain nirvana. While Madhyamika recognises truth as relative and absolute, Yogacara defines three categories of it—the illusory truth resulting from false attribution to something because of causes and conditions, the empirical truth which is relative and practical, and the absolute truth.
Mahayana Buddhists look upon the Bodhisattva as the highest ideal of compassion. Thus compassion for the suffering of others, plays an important role in Mahayana Buddhism as a powerful practice to attain liberation through the elimination of ego and desire. Also, the Bodhisattva’s aim of liberating as many beings as possible, accepts the need for diverse paths, especially for those who cannot opt for a monastic lifestyle. Thus the flexibility to modify practice according to the needs of the practitioner is an important feature of Mahayana Buddhism.
Asha Nair, New Delhi
The Self is real—Atman. All else is the play of consciousness—Maya. One is true and eternal, the other false and ephemeral. Being a true seeker of silence, enduring romance with the Self helps me realise my identity. Self-awareness helps find true happiness. For me, getting in touch with what exists beyond.
It is important to introspect. One should carry the steadfast resolve, grit and commitment in life to perform responsibilities. Since childhood, I was unusually curious and aware of the circumstances. My experimentation with colours led to my becoming a self-taught artist. I believe in the science of keeping perfect health, simplicity and charity. For me, ‘work is worship’.
The voice from within is crucial and one needs to listen to it. Such results are inevitable and to me came with an innovative solution of writing poetry. It was a year back, in the midst of testing and turmoil, that I felt an emptiness. Luckily, the Lord brought me in touch with Dr Sunil Awana, Sr. Consultant Neuro Psychiatrist. He encouraged me to pursue a certain career and I realised the creative mysteries of my mind and got a glimpse of a saintly character suggesting an apt title for the book in the works—an idea that had its genesis in dreams.
As I look back, I can discover a series of synchronicities that define karma. On a fine morning, I had a powerful thought of building a religious institution. These are hints that the universe has bigger plans for me. I came across a clairvoyant Amit Manocha after a premonition. He showed me the path of meditation—to quench spiritual thirst.
I accept challenges and disappointments as a way of life. For me, mature living is spiritually creative living, with a spirit of dispassion and acting in the present. It demands self-expression, self-restraint and self-endeavour. My living marked a rhythm of nature, the rhythm of withdrawal and response, contemplation and action, attachment and detachment. The two aspects of rhythm are ‘being’ and ‘becoming’.
Being indicates the need of self-realisation while becoming stands for self-expression. I practise awareness of Divine Presence and have an unrelenting watch over words, deeds and thoughts. For me, three valuable gems are ‘purity, patience and perseverance’, which alone can lead to success.
I am not moved even by the heaviest of sorrow; I rejoice at the happiness of others and radiate peace and joy.
The important ingredient in spiritual life for me is compassion—a seedling empowered by the spirit of love that transformed me. I am simple like a child and my work will be an offering to the Divine. I accept that ‘‘Our body is a holy temple and our heart the Lord’s living room’’. Therefore self-realisation means convincing the real meaning of infinite, and realise what Christ said: “I and my father are one.”
Ph: (011) 22131996
Abundance through vaastu
Vijay Keswani, Ulhasnagar, Maharashtra
In March 1998, on shifting to my new flat, my life became hell and problems assailed me. I become sick, my parents’ health deteriorated further, and we lost lot of money on health and other related problems, which almost humbled us. On a friend’s suggestion, I contacted some vaastu experts. Though they charged me a bomb, they simply advised me to change my sleeping position without pointing out a specific problem. Two years passed as my condition worsened daily. I had lost faith in vaastu, till a vaastu consultant in Mumbai prescribed certain changes, based on a map of my house. Suddenly things started working in my favour! Interested in the subject, I visited Kerala and got information about the subject that nobody would have imagined. I also visited Jaipur and other places to study this divine science at a deeper level and started giving tips to my friends and business clients, all of whom found the results satisfying. Later, I mastered the art of balancing the vaastu without physical alterations. I was on cloud nine because of my success till I met a client who had made serious business losses; moreover he felt uneasy at home and also experienced negativity in his office. I also got the same experience when I visited his office and residence, but I felt helpless, as it seemed to be a case of black magic, which he confirmed. This led to my involvement with meditation, Reiki and ESP (extra-sensory perception) with which I started giving protection to people as well as to myself.
Today, I find myself at peace and in abundance through the various meditations that I practise and the various seminars and workshops that I conduct. I am thankful to my mother who is my guru, Lord Shiva, for helping me always and all other gurus who have guided me when I needed them most.
Ph: (0251) 2565186
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