Sunday, December 27, 2009

Experiencing the Screen

"By the power of her own free will does she (Citi) unfold the Universe upon her own screen."
~Pratyabhijnahrdyam ("The Heart of Recognition"), Sutra (Verse) 1.2

I have been thinking about writing about the past couple of months for a while... but somehow, it hasn’t happened; maybe it’s time now. This is going to be a long post, but it needs to be written all at once, so please bear with me.

Around the middle of October, I realized I was in a phase where nothing was touching me. I was going through life and I could feel this calmness within. It was not like anything I had experienced before... somehow it seemed more solid. I was of course waiting for this calmness to go away … it always has, before. I would have an opening, and a beautiful insight of some kind, enjoying it, and then letting it go, and, in the past at least, it always did go away, eventually. Then, it would be the same cycle of a bit of peace, of bit of upset; a bit of confusion, a bit of clarity, again for some time … followed by another opening, after a few weeks or a few months, which would last anywhere from a day, to maybe a few days.

However, this time, this feeling of not being touched by anything stayed with me for two weeks.

Then I met Nithyananda for a second time.

My first darshan with him had been six months prior to that, at the end of April. 

I was originally introduced to Paramahamsa Nithyananda a couple of years ago, when I was working with the gap technique; someone at the AYP forums posted a link to one of his videos.

I would spend hours listening to his videos on YouTube. I just resonated with his words, and he always seemed to have the right advice for me at the right time. 

So when I heard he was going to be in the U.S., I had to go see him. I remember being elated to see him in person, as he glided into the room. The day was divided into his disciples teaching and then Nithyananda teaching. When Nithyananda spoke, he said almost the same things his disciples did … but his words had a power to them that kind of shook me from within.

At the end of the day, Nithyananda offers you what he calls energy darshan (shaktipat) -- the direct experience of the guru’s consciousness. 

Just before that, though, he guides everyone through a kundalini raising meditation, in preparation. That meditation is very powerful, and it really opened up my heart, and made tears roll down my cheeks; my heart felt like it was overflowing with gratitude. 

When I was in line to receive darshan, just a few feet from Nithyananda, I was is a space of total surrender and gratitude and loving. 

I stood there thinking, "I can’t believe I’m actually here, in front of him! I’ve spent at least an hour or two, three or four days a week, listening to him on YouTube for the past two years, and now I’m here. I’m actually standing in front of this man, whose teachings have supported me through my journey, and who words have created openings in my life and consciousness beyond what I ever could have imagined."  I was so very, very grateful to him.

It was finally my turn to be in front of him. He looked at me and with a childlike smile, and he asked me, "Do you want to ask for something?"

I had tears rolling down my cheeks, and I could barely speak; I just nodded my head.

He said in a very caring voice, “Ask". 

I looked into his eyes and said, "I want enlightenment". 

His face lit up in a smile and he said, "It will happen". 

After this, I really don't remember anything. Total stillness is all I remember. I can tell you what happened physically, based on what I saw happening to the hundreds of other people there. Nithyananda places his thumb on your third eye, and then he hugs you. I don't remember any of it, though.

The very next thing I actually remember is that I was walking away from him, and him telling me to "keep unclutching".

I lived on a high for a week or more after that, but my mind was angry at me. I had so much more to ask from him. My questions should have been more structured. I should have told him how grateful I was for all his help. 

The next six months were turbo-charged with purification and openings. I had many, many dreams of him.

I also relaxed into sleep, connecting with him as a form of meditation or samyama, as described here. Whenever I had a question, I would ask him using this technique and I got answers, either through his discourses or through the AYP forums, or through something I read, etc. 

I found that I was getting really attached to him, even though I was sure I could never be attached to a guru. But here I was, wishing I could be in his presence again, to be able to spend more time with him.

Then the strangest thing happened. Someone at the forum pointed out to a website that spoke against Nithyananda.  It was so strange how the mind jumped in, and seemed so disappointed about how this amazing soul could actually be so harsh, in real life (based on the negative stories about him). 

I went through almost a week of feeling disconnected with him. A part of my mind was disappointed with him, a part of my mind was trying to convince the other part that it was stupid to believe such stories, and that I should just let it go etc. 

Then came one of the most beautiful openings I’ve ever experienced. 

Nithyanada appeared, smiling … and showing me how I was actually attached to the form of Nithyananda … when in reality, the guru that was guiding me was the Nithyananda in me. The form does not matter. The body-mind will do what the body-mind will do; the real connection with a master, and the real master … is at a level much deeper than that. 

A real master is guiding you from within. S/he is in you; S/he is you. The only thing that separates you from a master is you

I fell in love with Nithyananda all over again, but it was no longer with his form. Now, it wasn’t his form that touched my heart; it was that infinite stillness he showed me, when our eyes met for a minute or two during darshan. 

I’ve often wondered: how is it that when he touched me, I did not feel his thumb on my forehead? Or how, when he hugged me, I did not feel his hands around me, or smell him, or feel the fabric of his robe on my cheek? It's because he was not there. When he gave me darshan, his physical form was right there, but that is not what I experienced; I experienced the eternal bliss, the Nithya-ananda (eternal bliss) that he is to me.

This poem came to me right after the experience: Fall in love with...

I continued with my highs and lows. Some of the things I was experiencing I had written about here: Dropping the "me". There was a point when I was so tired of it that I asked him to please stop this, and to give me permanent enlightenment. 

The very next day I watched a video in which he said, "When you have surrendered to me, let me work on you. Trust in the master, bear with a bit of discomfort and allow the master to work on you".  So I let it go. 

I remember wishing I had an opportunity to meet him again, and the next day, someone at the forums posted about Nithyananda's next visit to the United States, at the end of October. 

Then around the middle of October, I had this shift of being the stillness … the shift I described at the beginning of this post.

Two weeks later I met him for a second time. 

Although I had wished this would be one more of those huge deal moments, it really was not. There was so much calmness in me, that being in his presence felt normal. He guided us through the kundalini raising meditation again. This time I had a sudden burst in emotions and I cried happily for a bit.

Then I was standing in front of him, once again. This time, I did not know what to ask him, so I simply thanked him for all his help over the past six months, and asked him to make enlightenment permanent.

I did not lose myself this time. I was aware through it all. But I still did not feel his touch or his hug nor did I smell him or feel his clothes. I saw the physical form of him, but he was not there. His eyes were beautifully empty, and you could see the vastness in them.  I walked away with no major “woo-hoo” feeling, this time … maybe that’s hard to feel, when you’re actually this wall of stillness.

I have been going through a very busy phase, recently. I worked with more than a dozen seven and eight year old kids a few weeks back, on a dance for a cultural program. I had done a similar program a few years back, and then, it was really stressful. This time I enjoyed it more than I could have imagined. The kids were, of course, kids … and they can get a bit out of control and loud at times. I found myself raising my voice at times to calm them down, and yet it would surprise me every time, because my inside did not realize the outside was showing disapproval to the noise; my experience as the stillness and peace on the inside, remained, throughout.

The best evidence of this was on the day of the program itself. In addition to choreography, I also helped with the stage setup for a group of kids that sing and play instruments.The setup is pretty complicated: microphones positioned in certain specific places, speakers in certain positions, and so on, so that the overall sound quality is good. I was finally all set… when I was unexpectedly told to move everything, because the opening act was a dance and they needed the stage cleared. Every year for this program, the song/instrumental piece is first … mainly because of the complexity of the stage/microphone setup.

So, when I was told I had to move the entire setup, I couldn’t believe it. However, what really surprised me was, when people around me started saying: "Calm down; It's Okay; it’s okay … we’ll get the original setup back in place real quick!"
  It was only then I realized, although I didn’t even feel touched by the situation at hand, that my body-mind was reacting … showing disapproval and anger, and basically reacting like it has always reacted, in similar situations.

This really took me by surprise; “Wow!” I thought, “So my inside and my outside are not in sync!”  I asked Yogani (founder of AYP and my guide and mentor since the beginning of my journey. His kindness and encouragement is what has kept me going and for that I am eternally grateful), if this was normal. Should I make an effort in being conscious of my behavior on the outside, or does the body mind automatically follow the calmness inside?

His reply as always, was so perfect:
"Conduct is a mixture of karmic habit (personality) and the choices coming from the perspective of abiding inner silence.

Sternness has a purpose, as does all conduct. Some of the greatest sages could be pretty grumpy. Yogananda was known to fly into rages, and then wink at his disciples as if to say, "The divine is still in here, but you have to cope with this raging body/mind for now."

It will go eventually where you want it to go. The fact that you are noticing (witnessing) gives you increasing choice. It is not a fixed situation. Our relationship with action continues to evolve as we do.

There is also the automatic aspect that takes care of everything like you described. It all becomes more like that. Then our choice is to let it happen. Stillness in action..." 

A few days later the poem Harmony flowed, but I still did not have words to express this calmness/stillness I was experiencing. Then the Movie Screen analogy came to me … and I still don't have better words than that to describe what I am experiencing.

The thing that is a bit unclear is the loss in the bhakti aspect. It is not hurting me, I guess, but here is missing that connection with the master. Not just Nithyananda; I’ve always had a very strong connection with Ramakrishna and Ma Kali, too … but I don't feel those connections, any more, either. Practices continue as usual, but bhakti seems to have diminished. This could be because there is no sense of needing to achieve anything anymore or be something else or somewhere else anymore. There is just living what is happening in this moment. 

Am I worried or upset? No, not at all. I think it's a phase thing, but it may not be. I have never read about any of the masters talking about losing their bhakti toward their ishta. However, currently, I cannot feel that connection any more. Though I have full faith that if it has to be back, it will be back. Till then, this … whatever “this” is, is awesomely beautiful and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Have all the comforts and discomforts of living life gone? No, like in the poem Harmony: it is all still here... the challenges, the drama, the craziness, the happiness, the loving, the busyness, the silliness, the laughing, the crying … it's all still right here, but it is all happening on a screen of stillness, and that screen is not touched. 
It all happens … and the next minute when it’s gone, it is like a dream that happened. Things flow like they are flowing. There is doing, but the doer strangely feels like a dream. Like that touch and hug of Nithyananda... it happened, but it never really did, because if it did my physical body should have registered it.

When living happens moment by moment, the present moment is real, but only while it is here, then it's a dream.  The future exists out there somewhere, but like that touch, exists and yet it does not. 

Is it going to be like this forever? I don't really know, nor do I care to know.

I have this present right now, and that is all that matters.

Does this place I am in have a name? Who wants to know that? The only one who would like to know answers to questions like that is not here right now. But if she is ever back, I will let you know. If you are still reading, I would like to thank you for sharing this part of my journey with me.

I asked Yogani about the loss in bhakti I have been experiencing. Here is his answer:
"It is very normal, since bhakti is a play in duality and non-duality simply is. Which is not to say bhakti ends. It only shifts to become more a deep appreciation (love) than a seeking. It is present in our service, where we move for the Oneness of all. It may be unspoken and ordinary (with no mind assessment), chopping the wood and carrying the water. Good things are... " ~Yogani

Thank You Yogani. This definitely clears things up.

Was just listening to Nithyananda, and he said, "You will not miss me, you will be in me, how will you miss me?"  (Deeper Insights into Life 25 min into the video) 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Shakti (doing/action) and Buddhi (knowing)

You may have heard of a prayer called, Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

There is a tantra technique that Nithyananda explains in this video: Practising Living Enlightenment (about 33 min into this).

Nithyananda says in order to be enlightened, you need to have shakti (doing/action) to change what you can change and buddhi (knowing) to know and accept what you can't change. When you have this, there is no conflict. Living enlightenment is finally living a (internal) conflict free life.

So how do you know, what can be changed and what needs to be accepted. If in your sleep state, you are restless, many dreams, you feel stressed out, then there is something happening in your waking state that needs your shakti, your action to change. Like get organized or get your chores that you have been putting off for awhile, completed.

If you feel restless and stressed out in your waking state, then you need to apply buddhi (knowing) to your life.. look into your life and see there is something you are not accepting, something that "is" but you are not ready to accept "what is". Like your partner does not listen to you or your partner has moved on, but you cannot let go, or your parents don't help you, many of the other mind stories that keep us bound to suffering.

So in the waking state if you feel stressed out, you need to apply your buddhi (knowing) to accept things as they are. If you are restless in your sleep state, you need to apply shakti (doing) in your waking state to change things that can be changed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breathing Into the Heart

Here is another technique that came to me, and I find really powerful: 

It is like a combination of heart breathing and spinal breathing.  

During in breath, you drop your awareness from the head to heart... like I talked about in the Dropping Into The Heart technique, drop into your heart and at the same time move your awareness and energy from root to heart. In the out breath you let go in the heart and let it expand.

It feels like the union of energy/shakti and silence/Shiva. There is a feeling of complete stillness in the heart which moves outward. The expansion changes from emptiness to light. It is beautiful.