Note: This post is about spirituality.
“Neither in this world nor elsewhere is there any happiness in store for him/her who always doubts.” Bhagvat Gita
I was brought up in the foothills of Himalayas where great Yogis and Sages were born. However, I met such great people only in the books and stories. In real life, I encountered none. I only saw fake priests and babas who took shelter around the temples. I only witnessed fake pundits (पन्डित) who conducted rituals and ceremonies to earn a living. When our pundit came to our home, he always seemed to be in a hurry. He would read the texts of the scriptures like a parrot, collect his earnings (Dakshina or दक्षिणा) and hurriedly go to another house, perhaps to collect more.
In my childhood, I only saw things falling apart in my society. My society was gradually abandoning its traditional cultures and values. People seemed to value more the materialistic ways of life. The new generation found the western culture more appealing. Many of my friends had started cutting cakes in their birthdays. Some traditional rituals and practices were retained, but they seemed flashy. I found no substance in these practices. I found no reason to continue wearing the so-called sacred thread (called janai or जनै) after my Bratabandha (Upanayana or ब्रतबन्ध). So I removed it after a few days. Many of my colleagues did the same.
I always felt pressure from my society, to study hard, and to conduct in a good manner. Indeed my thoughts were shaped by my family and the society. I did everything I could to satisfy my family and my society. I studied, studied, and studied, as if the only purpose of life is to go to school/university and get a degree.
View of Machhapuchhre in my hometown Pokhara, Nepal.
But the great standing mountains had their influence upon me. I knew that Yoga is real. I knew that Ayurveda is a highly developed science. I also knew that there is some thing deeper in Indian classical music. I had no doubt that there is some ‘substance’ in our culture and traditions. Deep within me, I had this desire to know the deeper meaning of life; to know the truth.
My real quest for spirituality only began when I visited India in 2005. During the trip, I had an opportunity to read Bhagvat Gita written by the founder of ISCON, Swami Prabhupada, who truly lived the life of a Yogi. But even Bhagvat Gita did not answer the questions that I had in my mediocre mind. At that time, I just read it because I had to read it. After all, it is considered one of the greatest scripture in Hinduism. Because I had ‘become’ an engineer, I had the tendency to doubt the things that cannot be physically observed or verified.
I continued my spiritual quest and read a lot of scriptures, in an effort to satisfy my mind. I even read scriptures of other religions. While reading those scriptures, I found that the spirituality was something common in all the religions. However, I still couldn’t find what I was really looking for.
I was still looking and one day I found Sadhguru. His teachings were focused on practicing spirituality while living normal life (Grihastha). I had watched several videos of Sadhguru in YouTube and read about him in several other websites. When I watched his videos and read his teachings, something within me told me that there is some ‘substance’ in them. Being an engineer, I got particularly interested in Inner Engineering.
I have been trained as an engineer (civil) and I have learned to design and optimize so many things to make them more usable and increase their efficiency. But I never paid attention that our body, emotions, and energies could also be engineered so that they function at their best.
I have also been trained as a climate scientist. And I very well know the complexity of modeling the “Earth System”. There is no doubt that modeling a ‘human being’ is even more complex. One question haunted me often: how can “I” understand the Earth System without first knowing who “I” am myself that perceives everything?
I used to practice yoga asanas intermittently since my teenage by referring to some yoga books. But after a few months I would discontinue the practices because they didn’t seem to do anything. But later, I realized that things were really adding up.
I came to know that Inner Engineering program was being offered in Austin. But it came at a time when I was preparing for my PhD defense. The training would start from April 14 but my defense was scheduled for April 15. Further, it was already difficult for me to manage four days having a 9-months old daughter. Despite this, something in me told that you have to go. So I went.
At that moment, I was still doubtful on whether Inner Engineering really works. I just wanted to give a try because it was the only thing that I had not actually tried in my life – to learn yoga from a guru.
On the first and second day of Inner Engineering program, we learned some preparatory Yoga Asanas or Upa Yogas. In the third day, we learned preparatory asanas for Shambhavi Mahamudra, the most significant portion of the program. On the fourth day, we played a few group games outside in the morning. We were then initiated for Shambhavi Mahamudra.
I followed the instructions with full attention and concentration. And then at one point I had this extremely intense experience. Tears of joy started flowing down my eyes spontaneously. My hands were frozen on my thighs and my body had become like a statue. I was sitting on this position for a long time. Other colleagues had already started taking part in the concluding ritual or ‘pooja’. I had no pain in my body and I was probably in the calmest moment of my life. After some time, my body slowly regained normal movement. Tears had dried. When my eyes were open, I was completely baffled at what had just happened and I was asking myself many questions. Was it hallucination? Was I being hypnotized? Was it really a spiritual experience? Whatever it be, it was a very unique experience. It was amazing and it had never happened in my life before. At that time, I strongly felt that it was the beginning of my inner transformation.
I am omitting the details of the program intentionally because there is more “to experience” than “to know”. All I want to say is that everyone’s experience will be unique because it depends upon many factors. It depends upon how serious you are in your spiritual quest. It depends upon how intense is your longing to know the truth. It also depends upon your background (past karma). But please know that such experiences do not define your spiritual development at all. The real spiritual transformation happens gradually, with the continued practice of yoga. Indeed, it is very important to be honest and follow the instructions with trust.
The most significant message I learned from Sadhguru during the program was that we have to be “conscious” or “aware of the present moment” all the time. The second message was that, we have the option to react or respond to various situations in our life. When we react, we create karma but when we respond we become free.
Do you feel that something is missing in your life? Are you done with travel, parties, Facebook, and things? If so, please stop believing your mind and start listening to the voice of your heart. Keep yourself open and something profound will happen soon, in a recent future. Until then, let this mantra resonate within you:
असतोमा सद्गमय । From ignorance, lead me to truth;
तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमय । From darkness, lead me to light;
मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय ॥ From death, lead me to immortality;
ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ।। Aum peace, peace, peace.