Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Self Realization in a New York School

A yogini from Yonkers had the opportunity to give realization to 25 graders, at her son's school in Yonkers. Here is her recollection:

I briefly talked about the mothering quality of mother earth and how it nourishes us and that we also have mother earth inside of us called mother kundalini and we can feel it in the form of cool breeze. These children became very attentive. They simply placed their hands on their hearts and closed their eyes. You could imagine a class room in silence. I asked them to say quietly, "Mother kundalini, please come in my heart”.

A few minutes, as they opened their eyes, they placed their hands over their heads and you could hear them, "wow, so cool!” They all felt the cool breeze and commented that they felt "peaceful", "calm" and "calmer" inside. So was Nishad's teacher who had previously invited me to do the meditation with her class. Then, at the end of the session, they asked many interested questions about Who is "Shri Mataji”, "Could I do it at home?" "What does the colors mean on the hands and feet?" and "what are the colorful flowers (chakra) for?". The teacher even suggested that I do it for the other classes also because of the beautiful results. Yesterday, I met with the school's principal who apparently knows about kundalini and are now planning a date to give realization to the entire staff.

(names hidden to protect identity)

East Meets West

I am just beginning to recognize the face in the mirror, though I have seen her endless times. Know Thyself. It is in the Bible, in the Koran, in all the religious scriptures of the world. Why this should be at the heart of spiritual ascent is a mystery. As we move into the global awareness of the twenty-first century, where multi-culturalism is an everyday occurrence, and Anglo-European rationality meets eastern mysticism, what happens to this journey of self-knowledge?

The subtle realm is no longer the exclusive domain of eastern philosophy. Physicists all over the world are now doing research into unseen dimensions, illusive quarks and vibrating strings of energy. Yoga classes are as American as apple pie. My own personal story of cultural and self-integration began twenty years ago, when, as fate would have it, I found myself in the Himalayas, a Jewish girl a long way from home, learning to meditate.

I was on assignment for the Jaipuri Times of India. My husband, one-year-old daughter and I were staying on the family estate of an Indian lawyer in the foothills of the Himalayas. I find India to be a deep and aesthetically beautiful culture, albeit with social problems we are lucky enough not to have.

What it lacks in material comfort is made up for in the generosity of the people, and the general feeling of glee inspired by walking down a street in the company of two camels, three cows, an elephant and a wall mural that is probably a thousand years old. Once you start gaining altitude, the terraced slopes are dotted with wild goats and stone huts, and ringed with dense jungle. The mountains tower up all around, surreal; misty-peaked and sharply etched against the sky. Our friend had just met an extraordinary woman, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.

(Mahatma Gandhi had sought her advice as a child; now, as the founder of Sahaja Yoga meditation, she has become Spiritual Mother to millions.) In 1981, Sahaja Yoga was slowly growing in India, attracting the attention of restless westerners like us, searching for a spiritual place to call home.

I took to it right away. One unusual aspect that struck me was that Sahaja Yoga starts with the awakening of the spiritual energy Kundalini and self-realization, instead of ending with that. Traditionally, first one's chakras are completely cleansed, which takes ages, and then the Kundalini rises. Maybe. Old-style gurus used to pass on this experience to one or two disciples at most, after years of arduous lessons and privation. Offering this experience right away is pretty outrageous; it implies a bunch of normal people walking around in an awakened state, not just saints living in caves who have practiced severe austerities for lifetimes. The premise is that once you have the light inside yourself, you can see your own problems clearly, and are then better able to work them out. You get in touch with yourself. More than that, the process is expedited, so what used to take people five or ten years to figure out, can be seen much more quickly through meditation and introspection. After learning about Shri Mataji's meditation, I was lucky enough to go to her house in Delhi.

I was standing in the doorway, holding my infant daughter in my arms. Putting her hand lightly on my shoulder, Shri Mataji's eyes sparkled as she said, "Kundalini has risen. They've both got it." It was a fabulousfeeling, like a cool breeze blowing gently over the top of my head.

The basics of Sahaja Yoga are simple. There is Kundalini, a spiritual energy. There is the subtle system of energy, chakras (a Sanskrit word meaning "spinning wheel") and the three channels of the autonomous nervous system. It's not hard to understand. The truth of the matter is that all of our quirks and problems and all of physical reality can be addressed at the level of energy.

Reality is what it is; energy once created is never destroyed…so once you have an understanding of how you are put together in this way, you can really get down to the business of self-knowledge. For example, let's say you suffer from chronic guilt syndrome. Jewish? Catholic? Whatever. That particular problem involves the chakra located on the left side of the neck. By working on that spot, you can really alleviate the problem. Moreover, you start having insights into the inner workings of the situation, and as things start to become clear, you become more and more the master of the situation. Most importantly, you start to transform yourself
from the inside out. You can begin right now. Close your eyes, and imagine a coiled up twist of silken energy threads at the base of your spine. (The Greeks called this the sacrum, the sacred bone: they knew what they were talking about.) Now ask yourself, do you want this energy to waken? Ask yourself the question, "Am I the pure Spirit?" Now hold your hand over your head. Do you feel a cool breeze coming out at the top? This is the Kundalini, newly risen. Now, you've got it.

After my meeting with Shri Mataji in India, I had another serendipitous moment. I was in Jaipur, riding in a horse-drawn wagon with my daughter on my lap. On the sidewalk market, among the red and purple turbans, the richly hued saris, the shining brass plates hanging mirror-like behind pyramids of oranges and mangoes, there appeared a young Muslim woman covered from head to toe in swaths of cloth. A black cotton scarf covered her mouth. Only her eyes were revealed to the world. These eyes caught mine, and my breath as well. We were from completely and utterly different worlds. Her life was unfathomable to me, and mine to her. Yet here we were, on the same side of the world, the same street, the same square hundred feet of red Indian earth between us. Somehow for a fraction of an instant, we made a connection. Everything, the barefoot children laughing behind the long silken braids of their mothers, the cows and camels sauntering insolently among the chaos of India, the fragrance
of earth and incense and spice, everything blurred into formless color, leaving the two of us alone in sharp relief. I could barely breathe. Then she did the outrageously unexpected, an act of
courage: she undid her scarf so that I could look directly into her face.

Her face was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, by any standard of beauty. What could I do? Wave, or yell out? I could only stare back at her, and it seemed as though she looked triumphant. I felt her femininity, her strength. Her look said, "I may be bound in cloth and fierce tradition. But inside, I am intelligent and present. I want you to see, that, to see me." In one blinding moment our cultures collided, and then it was over. The horses clopped on, we turned a corner, and she was gone. I ponder that moment sometimes. In one way its meaning has remained a mystery, like an archetype, as pure and necessary as a prime number, too deep to plumb. It is evocative, however. As we two made a connection, so a bridge needs to be built, and then crossed, between borders and boundaries, linking us all together. The spiritual path finally is not about eastern mystical paradigms meeting western rational thought. It is about self meeting Self, across all cultural values and interpretations. In today's world, we must bind our hearts to a new pattern, an integration of east and west, giving birth to a modern world free from fear. It will take intelligence, and great courage, to gain possession of our collective ascent. Yes, it is time to drop the veils that blind us to our essential self, that place where we are one beyond individuality, beyond cultural definition. Change is possible. The intelligent beauty of that young woman's face comes back to me clearly now. Her challenge to me is one I put to the mirror, to the face I am coming to recognize, to my daughter grown so quick and fine, to get to work, connect to life, and hurry up! For time waits for no man, or woman, no matter what color earth lies under their feet.

-- By Nancy Partridge

Creative Commons Licensed Photos by Nagesh Kamath, Soqotra (Yemen)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Sahaja Yoga practitioner shares her vision of the country, with reference to the specific problem of unemployment on

(cc licensed picture from gadl on flickr)

"I wanted to share my vision on how to solve/ease the problem of unemployment.Many people in US nowdays are required to work overtime and cannot take vacation days which they have. This means that the companies don't want to create new workplaces and hire more people. This also violates human rights. Previously we had 8 hour day and 40 hour week, no more. However in the last 9-10 years I noticed a change that companies require people to work overtime. Many people work 50-80 hours week, especially in IT. Also people cannot take vacation days that are accumulated as employer doesn't give leave. People cannot defend their right of working just 40 hours. They fear to lose the workplace. As a result of that some people work more hours and some people don't have employment at all because complanies don't create new work places. Also this creates disbalance in the society,people cannot do their family duties, children are neglected without enough of parents attention.So I suggest to change working policies - the government needs to control how many hours people work and they need to take their vacation days.The companies need to create new workplaces. The people working 80 hours - means 2 workplaces working 40 hours instead of one.Also in Europe vacation time is 45 days/year and there is nothing wrong with that. Balance between work and family time is good for everyone in the society and more work places will be created, more people will be employed. For ladies - many would like to work part time - 20 hours or so.We need this time for families and children. But employers are not creating part time work opportunities. For people with BS and MS very hard to find part time jobs in their field. So always we, ladies, have to either sacrifice a career or family commitments. It would be nice if government enforces companies to hold part-time job opportunities for every field of work.This will mean that more people will be employed and balance of family life will be maintained. The future generation will thank the government for that. And rate of unemployment will reduce dramatically."

-- A.L.

A Prince & A Promise

The Crown Prince wrote this beautiful letter to the people of America:

"I am writing to congratulate Senator Barack Obama for his histoiric election as the 44th President of the United States. He is a dynamic and unifying leader who will reach across geographic and political divides and forge new partnership to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
I also want to congratulate the people of the USA - one of the world's oldest democracies - for participating in this election in unprecedented numbers, for making their voices heard and for truly "being the change they want to see in the world".
History will record this election as having enormous long-term positive consequences for America's most valuable export: democracy.The 2008 Election will hold a place
alongside the election of 1796 when George Washington's decision not to run for a third term assured American democracy; the election of 1828 when Andrew Jackson's victory led to greater public participation in the country's democratic process; Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 leading to the emancipation of African-americans; and the 1960's election of John F. Kennedy, which cast a backlight on America's religious tolerance. Each and everyone of these elcetions sent a message to the world.
The 2008 election of Barack Obama makes clear that America embraces diversity as its greatest strength and that its people are committed to elcting the best person capable of leading the country and the world forward and upward by, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, appealing "to the better angels of our nature."In light of its historical importance, the 2008 election results are a mandate for change - not
just for the United States but for our entire global community.For this very reason, the election was followed closely around the world - from London to Lima, from Manila to Mexico City, from Nairobi to New Delhi, from Ryadh to Ras al Khaimah, my homeland. Ras Al Khaimah, a member of the UAE, strategically
located along the Straits of Hormuz, a small emirate with big plans for the future. We have long supported the UAE's effort to promote a strong relationship with the United States in the spirit of peace and prosperity to the benefit of all.
In the coming weeks, I will be proposing to the people of Ras Al Khaimah A Pledge For Progress that calls for 1) Building an economy that serves the people and not just the powerful, 2) Pursuing clean and renewable energy indepenence, 3) Preserving our soverignty as a proud member of the UAE, 4) Increasing educational opportunities for the next generations, 5) Promotong the rule of law, including respect for intellectual property and 6) Encouraging greater participation in government. I look forward to working with President-elect Obama, just as I worked with President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, to the mutual benefit of the people of the USA and Ras Al Khaimah."

Windsor Enlightened

Free Meditation Classes featuring Sahaja method of meditation are now being offered at the Windsor, ON College Ave. Community Center. Citizens of Windsor who attended the meetings have expressed great satisfaction at the content of the classes and enjoyed the collective learning, which features stress management, learning about the subtle being (chakras & channels) and balancing techniques.

For meeting directions, click here.

Udrang: The All Pervading, Living Force

There is a subtle power which is described as the all-pervading Power of God’s love, as Paramachaitanya, as Udrang, as, so many other words have been used for this power, which does all the living work. Like we see the flowers so beautiful as they are but we take them for granted. We don’t see how they have come from a little seed, how they are blossoming in these different colors. All this living work we take for granted. We have also taken our evolution for granted and everything that autonomous nervous system does we have taken for granted, it’s a good thing in a way because it’s too much of a worry and botheration if you start thinking why of everything. But there is a power, which does all these things.

-- Shri Mataji, Miami, 1990