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 never realized the opportunities that I had for my spiritual growth. Let alone the opportunities, I didn’t even paid attention to my surrounding, yet there was so much going around. The mystic mountains were balancing the heat of the sun and sending us cool breeze and fresh water. The plants were giving us the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat. But I was not aware of these seemingly minor details. I learned later that I was not really living because the very nature of life is “awareness”.
View of Machhapuchhre in my hometown Pokhara, Nepal.
Neither I looked into the life that was within me. I never looked within myself. If I was living at all, I was living in my mind, forgetting my own “self” most of the time. I was always busy checking emails, doing homework, arguing with people, and so on.
But the atmosphere where I was brought up had its influence on me. I knew about the benefits of Yoga for our health and well being. I knew about the potentials of Ayurveda that existed since ancient times. I knew that there is some thing deeper in Indian classical music which has been described in the Vedas, the most sacred scriptures in Hinduism. But somehow, the power of ‘”maya” kept me busy in the outside world. Deep within me, I had this desire to know the deeper meaning of life; to know the truth. It took me a long time to realize that turning inward is the only way to know these things.
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?
The knowledge of “Yoga” has lived for at least a few thousand years. But unlike science, it has not evolved. The knowledge of Yoga remains intact; it is the same today as it was when it originated. The methods of Yoga have been practiced by many Yogis and its knowledge passed through generations. Many people around the world practice yoga knowing the health benefits of yoga. However, only a few people know the spiritual dimension of yoga, as a technique to connect with the core of one’s being or soul.
Although I was born in a Hindu society where spirituality was part of life, my real quest for spirituality only began when I visited various parts of India in 2005. I visited several ISCON temples there and I also read Bhagvat Gita written by the founder of ISCON, Swami Prabhupada. It is little ironic that I read Gita in English but I was quite impressed by ISCON movement mostly because of Prabhupada, who truly lived 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. A lot of questions about life and the nature of the physical world were answered by Krishna in it but they didn’t really mean anything to me. Because I was an engineer, I had the tendency to doubt the things that cannot be physically observed or verified.
I continued my spiritual quest and read biographies of several spiritual leaders and philosophers. My spiritual quest got deeper when I was living away from my home leaving behind my recently married wife. At that time, when I was doing my Master’s in Abu Dhabi, I read a lot about spirituality. Autobiography of a Yogi written by Paramhansa Yogananda specially inspired me. I also found teachings of Ravi Shankar touching my heart. I used to watch a lot of debates on religions too. In part, the reason was that I had experienced three major religious cultures of the world. I was born Hindu and I got to know many Hindu spiritual and religious leaders. I lived in Abu dhabi for about 2 years where I experienced and learned a bit about Islam. And I had the opportunity to understand Christian culture when I visited the US. I found that spirituality was something in common in all of these religions.
I was never satisfied by one philosophy or spiritual leaders in Hinduism. The main reason was that most of their principles required refraining daily life and living an ascetic life as a condition for spiritual development. Deep in my heart, I really wanted to adopt spirituality in my life but I didn’t want to (or was unable to) detach myself from my family and material life. Then I found Sadhguru whose teachings exactly hit my interest. That is, his teachings were focused on practicing spirituality while living normal life (Grihastha). I had watched several videos of Sadhguru in YouTube and several other websites and was already blown by his spiritual knowledge, his causes, and his vibe. Being an engineer, I got particularly interested in Inner Engineering.
Spiritual knowledge has been taught directly by the gurus to the disciples in the Gurukul system since ancient times. 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. Later, from Sadhguru’s teachings, it became clear that it is not appropriate to practice yoga without a guru or without understanding its essence.
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, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity so I decided to take it.
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 remaining that I had not actually tried in my life – to learn yoga from a guru. I had tried and achieved so many things in my life, but still there seemed to be something missing. I was not happy inside.
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. Everything was fun because we were playing in a group of 50-60 people. We were then initiated for Shambhavi Mahamudra.
I am omitting the details of the program intentionally because there is more “to experience” than “to know”. So I do not want to ruin your experience by giving you the finer details of the program. Because you will start expecting something and you will not concentrate on the instructions. I want to reiterate that the intensity of experience that you get depends upon the intensity of attention given to the instructions. It is very important to drop your logical mind while you are there and follow the instructions with trust.
I followed the instructions with full attention and concentration. And then at one point I had this extremely intense experience (ecstasy?). It happened at a time when I was about to conclude that this was just another yoga or meditation program. I was crying like a baby and tears were flowing my eyes still closed. My hands were completely frozen on my thighs. My experience was so intense that it took a long time to come back to normal. I was sitting on the chair for a long time. I could not or did not want to move. I had no pain in my body and I was probably in the calmest moment of my life. But after some time, my body slowly regained normal movement. Tears had dried. When I regained consciousness, 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. This experience completely shattered my false prejudice about the spirituality. I strongly felt that it was the beginning of my inner transformation.
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.
Now I realize the potential within me as a human being better. We may be limited physically but we all have equal potential, really.
Do you feel that something is missing in your life? Are you fed up roaming in the outer world? If yes, the universe may be conspiring you for an inner journey. You may be the chosen one. Keep yourself open and it will happen one day.
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.