My Experiments with Spirituality

‘I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
 I fled Him, down the arches of the years; 
I fled him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind ……. ’. 

         This poem by Francis Thompson describes my existence from the ages of 12 to 37. I consciously tried to avoid God all my adult life, starting from when I was 12 years old  and ironically just after  my Sacred Thread ceremony. I denied him totally and absolutely as I got fascinated by Science and reason and logic. All the rituals just made no sense. At the age of 20 I was on top of the world having secured a good respectable job but still felt a strange sense of uneasiness, of having missed out on my true potential.  Now it was the turn of my brother to undergo the Thread ceremony. Perhaps, the Head  Priest could sense my cockiness and doubt. During a lull in the proceedings he casually asked me if I performed the Gayatri Jap every day. I told him I didn’t believe in it.  To which he replied,’You will never succeed unless you chant the Gayatri Mantra’. This mantra steeped in antiquity is transmitted purely by word of mouth and never chanted loudly to avoid dissipation of its potency. From then on I started a daily chant but with little faith in my heart.
        Meanwhile, I progressed on my chosen career acquiring post graduate qualifications at a prestigious IIT which further reinforced my faith in Technology. I rejected all rituals, all prayers but somewhere there was this seed of faith that just refused to die. Perhaps, it was the  Gayatri mantra that contributed to this, or was I just covering all the bases just in case God did exist?
            In my mid thirties while  grappling with middle age problems and the challenge of raising kids, I read the book, ‘The Road less Traveled’, by Dr Scott M Peck, a Psychiatrist as it seemed to have answers to the various psychological challenges that children face.  The book starts off talking of discipline and responsibility and even love but as the author delves into the human mind, he enters the region bordering Science and Religion and finally ends up defining God in psychological terms. According to him the human mind has a conscious part that is just 1 % while the rest is the unconscious. We normally use only the conscious part while tackling problems of Science or Logic. But the unconscious part is a treasure house that is responsible for intuition, déjà vu, dreams, creativity and has immense knowledge. The Collective Unconsciousness  of the human race has all the wisdom of the human race and therefore, as per the author was God! I found this explanation immensely appealing and started to intensely think about it. So much so that even during social gatherings I would only be discussing this topic. 
         Perhaps, it was this intensity of search that led to my first spiritual experience. That night, I suddenly had a vision whereby I was lifted up and my whole body burned as I was surrounded by a golden light and I instinctively knew I was in the presence of the Supreme Power. I started chanting ‘Bhagwan Bhagwan’, and I saw a hill side on which were inscribed Huge Sanskrit letters urging me to go in a Southerly Direction were I would find the Gateway to God.  I then started  visiting various Temples dotted all over India like Vaishno Devi, Tirumala etc. But I didn’t find God there. Meanwhile, my nightly visions kept increasing although I could not call for it at will. Images of pyramid shaped South Indian  temples, stained glass windows of Cathedrals, Jesus and spinning wheels that increased in speed and then slowed all dominated my dreams  I really had no explanation for what was happening to me.  I tried to contact Dr Scott Peck, but failed.  Finally, in an internet chat room I got in touch with a spiritually evolved person who told me that what I was experiencing was a Kundalini arousal.  The Kundalini energy that is coiled up like a snake at the base of the spine rises up along the neural pathways of the spine and passes through the various chakras. As it passes through these chakras the wheels spin with ever increasing speed until the energy reaches the crown of the head and exits from the body. This is commonly called an Outer Body Experience or  OBE and  this energy embarks upon an inter stellar journey. Scientifically, I can’t prove it because this experience  can’t be recalled  at will. But when it happens it is like Grace has descended on me and I know I am on the right path. For instance, once when on the road I noticed a man bleeding on the road side. I had an important conference to attend – but I still stopped and ensured that I gave him a lift and ensured medical care for him. That night I had an OBE. These experiences started increasing and at times I would hear devotional music playing at night. The best OBE  I ever had was when I truly practiced detachment. The organization that I headed had been selected for felicitation at the national level and I as the head was to meet the President even. But just two weeks before the felicitation I was transferred and this honour went to the new Head. I could have delayed my transfer but reasoned that the honour was for the organization and not me alone. And I let it pass. That night I experienced  the best OBE ever. It ended with the most incredible feeling of bliss equal to a thousand orgasms. 
       However, now it has quite a while since my last OBE. The Biblical phrase, ‘Many are calledbut few are chosen’ seems to be true in my case. For during one of my visions, I declared that I couldn't just leave my family behind and walk away. So when it really mattered I withdrew.
       My studies indicate that what I had experienced was not unique. At the beginning of the quest spiritual experiences occur with relatively less effort. Then the seeker is afflicted with what is commonly called the Dark Night  of the Soul. The intensity of search continues but the results are not tangible. 
        However, my quest has now become a little more logical and scientific. Vedanta advises us to proceed from the known to the unknown. What is known is that we exist. This is Sat or the truth. Next, we are aware that we exist through our consciousness. This is Chit. Next comes the leap into the unknown. This individual consciousness needs to unite with the infinite to realise God. As Jesus says, 'Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me'. The book 'Autobiography of a Yogi' mentions the technique of Kriya Yoga as a means of achieving realisation of God. I discovered a Kriya Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh where I got initiated into this technique of meditation. Daily practice of the technique has brought home to me the intimate connection between mind and breath. Vashisht Muni in his discourse to  Rama written aeons ago advised him to quell either the mind or the breath. Stilling one automatically leads to stilling the other. Easy to say but extremely hard to achieve! However when even a partial stilling of the mind is achieved the third eye chakra gets activated albeit temporarily. The final state is when the breath is stilled and the mind desire free leading to samadhi or union with the infinite. 
      I internalised what I had learned by correlating my experiences with the state of my mind.  My first deduction was that the intensity to experience truth is the most important quality of a seeker. You really have to long for it like a drowning man longs for oxygen. When the desire for truth is intense it will materialize.

       My next deduction concerned ego boundaries. When I was heading my organization I had totally dropped my ego. For me the organization and me were one. This perhaps enhanced the quality of my experiences as my ego was no longer a stumbling block.
     Finally, I realised that detachment is the key. If we can get used to the impermanence of all things and dispassionately do our duties, the spiritual life has been lived.  This is exactly what the Buddha said too. Controlling of desires is the key - while the breath can still be controlled the mind is an indefatigable foe. Indeed, controlling the mind using the mind is paradoxical. Meanwhile, the body-mind-intellect combination has to be utilised effectively by putting the body on the path of service, directing the mind towards compassion and the force of intellect dedicated towards knowing the unknown.

        So we soldier on and in the words of the Buddha ...’ Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.‘ 

Comments

  1. A wonderful post . Spirituality is entirely a very personal journey & all experiences are true & genuine as per the ratio how much lighter one has become .
    Initially , via people & books one learns but once one becomes comfortable with one self , the higher entities take over .
    Aim is not to control or be in denial but to justify every action , every emotion in the light of self .
    It's a beautiful journey where answers & guidance keeps flowing but again one needs to carry on even with more detachment .
    Lovely post true to your core & wishing you happy & successful pilgrimage towards your choosen goal . Mau lord shower upon you IT'S love & light . 🙏

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