As a continuation from my previous post, here is a beautiful story from that magnificent book by Linda Johnsen – Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism.
Once again, a must read book for every spiritual seeker from India. It explains Hinduism in a way that makes perfect sense to today’s urban Indian.
Not my intention to violate any copyrights! You can purchase the book here.
As a continuation from my previous post, here is a beautiful story from that magnificent book by Linda Johnsen – Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism.
Spirituality is often associated with morality in most people’s minds. This is the norm in today’s language. From my experience with various Spiritual Masters and paths, spirituality does not have much to do with morality. Are these paths/Masters encouraging people to be immoral? No! For because spirituality seems to have nothing to do with immorality either. Spirituality is beyond the duality of morality and immorality.
By no means am I implying that being moral as wrong or inferior. For societies to exist, certain moralities are needed. It is morality which separates human beings from animals. It is moralities which generally evolve into laws creating a certain order in the society. However, rigidly holding on to morals is a binding too.
Becoming unbound from morals/rules and immorals in the inner-space is true freedom.
Logically speaking, morality makes perfect sense in a realm where everything is temporary and where opposite qualities (like pleasure and pain) exist by nature. Anything that is believed to enhance or uplift the temporary is considered good and anything that is believed to harm is considered bad.
For example, if oneself and everything and everyone around were eternally blissful, immortal, untouched by pain or disappointment or shame – no matter what, morality would not exist in such a dimension.
For any Being experiencing that eternal dimension also, morality would not exist.
Morality, as conditioned by culture and religion, is time and space bound. Several moral codes followed in a culture or religion are really dependent on the time, place, lifestyle of the culture and the given situation. What was considered immoral a few hundred years back can be considered moral in today’s time, and vice versa. What was moral a few hundred years back could be considered immoral now. Similarly what is moral today can be considered immoral after a few hundred years. Even today different cultures have different definitions of what is moral and what is immoral. What is considered as moral in Saudi Arabia can be immoral in America, and vice versa.
One of the issues in the world right now is that while lifestyles of different cultures are slowly coming to a common platform due to rapid technological advances in the last 100 years, their ideas about morality have not come to a common platform. What further exacerbates the problem is that media in one country/culture often potrays other cultures as primitive, superstitious and/or immoral.
Morals from different cultures need not come to a common platform. Firstly, diversity in this world is what makes it so beautiful and secondly morals came about in a culture because they did have some practical significance in that culture at a certain time, and some of those morals probably do have practical significance in that culture even today.
There is a difference between morality that genuinely comes from within (from sensitivity to life), and morality that has been conditioned into the mind by society, by family or by one’s culture from an early age. The former morality is based on love and sensitivity, while the latter is generally based on fear and ego.
Most religious terrorists seek to impose their indoctrinated morality over society by force. In their endeavor to reach their “Heaven”, they make life on planet earth hell for themselves and everyone else. In this video, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev brilliantly expounds the difference between being good and being oneself (or being human).
As Swami Nithyananda also beautifully says – One has to discover one’s religion.
Most people either blindly believe or blindly disbelieve moral codes prescribed in their religion or culture, instead of enhancing their own perception.
Spirituality involves expanding one’s perception to the peak. This process of expanding one’s perception or one’s sensitivity is called Yoga in Sanskrit. Even moralities that come from within need not be eternal. They are true for that time, in that place, in that situation. Intuitively one knows exactly what is to be done in the given moment. It is almost like a side-effect of being in the Present moment. To be in complete communion with the Universe naturally without any effort. To unclutter one’s mind, so that one’s intuition can work at it’s peak.
In most developed countries, there is a lot of emphasis in the world to develop one’s intellect and reasoning power. In most religious cultures, there is a lot of emphasis to follow the social/cultural/religious beliefs.
There is very little emphasis on developing one’s intuition or one’s sensitivity to the outside world in either place. This can only happen when spiritual processes (not just religious rituals or academic learning) are encouraged in the society.
As a teenager I had grown up listening to Satya Sai Baba bhajans from my neighbor’s house. Although I used to hum those lovely tunes, I never particularly believed in the Baba (if anything I had a negative opinion about him – thanks to the media reports of his magic tricks).
It was not until years later when I chanced upon “living” books like Autobiography of a Yogi, Living with the Himalayan Masters and Linda Johnsen’s magnificient Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism, that I became a bit more open minded to spirituality and in general, all possibilities in this Universe including scientific, social and more mundane day-to-day as aspects like family, economics etc
What amazes me is how subjective Truth or Reality is, and how adamantly people (including me!) objectify it as the Absolute and Eternal. It could be both positive and negative. By subjective I mean the attitude “If I have a certain experience with a person/organization/thing/place then that is exactly how it is always for everyone”. Or as Alx says in her beautiful experience below “Divine beauty — just like everything else — lies in the eye of the beholder.”.
I feel blessed to have been able to meditate with some of the famous, living Spiritual Leaders in the world today including Eckhart Tolle, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Swami Nithyananda, Ammachi amongst others.
While I can’t say that I felt touched or had amazing experiences with every Spiritual leader I came across, I did feel intense, unconditional Love and a Presence (difficult to properly put in words) bursting or intensely emanating from most of the Beings named above.
I have no clue if my experiences with these Spiritual leaders were hallucinatory. The only thing I know is that I had no control over these experiences. They came and left on their own accord, and they rarely happened when I expected or wanted them to happen. I was usually caught by surprise when they happened. I could never “will myself” to these experiences.
This is what makes the whole Swami Nithyananda sex video controversy so intriguing.
While I am not qualified to judge the spiritual attainment of Swami Nithyananda or anyone for that matter, I have to admit that I had some of the most intense and astonishing spiritual experiences while meditating with him (on one occasion he was able to transmit the experience from thousands of miles away, catching me completely off guard – and this was much after the controversy broke out).
Below is an amazing experience of a lady (Alx) in Swami Nithyananda’s Ashram near Los Angeles.
Four things that make this experience even more interesting for me are:
- The Lady was not a devotee of Swami Nithyananda before/during her experience.
- She did NOT “convert” into a Nithyananda devotee after her experience. This is very important, as it eliminates the agenda of marketing. In fact, none of Swami Nithyananda’s devotees have any clue about the below experience.
- The Lady has her own Guru (who has nothing to do with Swami Nithyananda), and she was already an advanced spiritual adept through some intense spiritual practices before she had her below experience in Swami Nithyanada’s Ashram.
- She never met Swami Nithyananda in person.
I am not trying to prove that Swami Nithyananda is a true Saint or a false Saint, but I just want to bring to attention, how subjective all experiences in life are.
The original source (from the lady herself) can be found in the below link. I formatted it below to make it more readable.
I did want to respond to this statement of yours:
“I am sorry to say it, but I did not get a good vibe from the guy (Nithyananda). I really do think he (Nithyananda) is a fraud and a bad guy.“
I haven’t met Nithyanananda directly, in person, but I do have friends who are ardent devotees of Him.
I have met Him & His energy on the subtle, especially when I visited His Ashram in Southern California with an Indian friend who is deeply in with Nithyananda.
For me, having read a few things He said and seen a few videos, it was evident that He’s a remarkable high Divine soul.
It’s just an inner feeling thing; I’ve been blessed to be around some top saints and after a while, you get a clear resonance of what a character like that feels like.
His ashram was super-simple, nothing at all fluffy or fancy, mostly Indian students there. I was struck by the HUGE photos of Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Ma (RK’s wife), and Viveikananda in the common area. these were really the only adornment.
I went to visit — of course out of some curiosity — but to check out the statue of Venkateshwara, Balaji, a remarkable saint who turned Himself to stone by an act of Divine Will at the beginning of this yuga. I have seen the original statue in South India a few times – it is in the most powerful Temple or holy spot on the planet, a place called Tirupati.
In America most people don’t know about Venkateshwara — but every saint has to stand in front of Him sooner or later, during their lifetime on this planet, in this yuga. I’m sure Yogananda had that experience while traveling in South India but left it out of the Autobiography. The idea of a living person becoming a black stone statue might have been too far off the beaten track for Western people to deal with, in the 1940s. <*grinning*>
Anyway — I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a more High Divine place that Tirupati, in South India, in front of that Living statue. He is a Vishnu avatara — and it feels as though the entire structure of Divinity is available in that moment, all around and within you, when you stand in front of Him.
It’s an astounding Experience. I’ve been Blessed to have His Darshan several times.
Anyway, I’d heard that Nithyananda has created the largest statue of Venkateshwara in North America. That really got my interest high, and I wanted to visit with the statue and see what there was to see.
I have to be honest — I wasn’t at all prepared for the magnitude of energy that the statue (installed by Nithyananda in California) carried. For a split second, it was like being back in South India. STUNNING!. It’s about a 9-feet tall statue, identical in form to the one in South India. It had as much Shakti flowing through it as the original Statue in Tirupati!
My husband and I shot a look at one another, of complete shock and surprise and delight, and promptly sat down on the spot to do our Sadhana for the day, in the presence of such Divinity.
Any doubts I had about the authenticity of Paramahamsa Nithyananda were pretty much erased there.
It was obvious that He’s carrying a huge High Divinity, had imbued the Statue with a pristine Divine energy, and is contributing that spiritual blessing to help America out of its spiritual darkness.
The guys at the Ashram were super-kind and, I think, moved that we just plunked down and started doing sadhana. <*grinning*>
They invited us for Arathi in the inner sanctum of the ashram, where there is a HUGE Shiva Lingam.
I was a little surprised, because that inner place is reserved for serious devotees, and neither my husband nor myself are, in fact, devotees of Nithyananda.
Anyway, we went in — and they started the Arathi — and I spent the whole time trying to figure out what kind of energy was contained in that Shiva Lingam.
It was SO POWERFUL, I nearly fell over. A-MA-ZING HIGH Divine.
The Arathi was long, maybe 20 minutes, so I allowed my consciousness to go into a huge trance, and from there, to start identifying the Energy of that Shiva Lingam. It felt to me, clearly, like every Divine soul in creation was there — all the great Masters, including Yogananda, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, etc., Jesus, Buddha, Ammachi (“the Hugging Saint”), Muktananda, Mohammed, Shirdi Sai Baba, ALL of them.
After a while, I concluded this must be the Adi Parashakti Energy — no other energy in the Divinity could contain ALL of the Saints and Rishis like that. It was overwhelming.
I was in such a lightning-bolt-struck buzzing state of bliss I could hardly walk straight, or stay in my physical body. completely drunk on the Parashakti energy. It was a most unexpected blessing.
As we walked out of the arathi, looking like stunned deer in the headlights of God, one of the young Indian devotees (of Nithyananda) giggled and whispered to us, “Master told us He put the Adi Parashakti’s energy in that Lingam for the next six months.”
Suffice it to say I nearly fell down. The generosity of Nature, of the Mother Divine, to confirm what I’d figured out internally on the spot, was overwhelming. I just nodded, couldn’t even speak.
We left that place immediately — still buzzing with the energy — and went back to our friends’ home, where we were staying, and shared the energy by giving Shaktipat and Healing to all the people who lived in the home. It was such a HIGH Divine boon!
I write this not to aggrandize my own experiences at Nithyananda’s ashram, but to let you know that He is indeed in touch with some super-high Divine energy, the Shakti of the Mother Divine, and the Highest form-formless of Her, the Adi Parashakti.
Whatever you think about Nithyananda personally, doesn’t matter — the Divinity is for sure there.
It’s really important to recognize that we may not appreciate the personality of a particular Master or Avatara — indeed, they may rub us the wrong way — but the Guru is like a cow. He may eat newspaper and garbage on the street, but is always giving the sweet, nourishing milk. it’s better to focus on the milk than the garbage.
Not everyone who met Yogananda fell in love with him, or saw the Divinity in him, you know.
There’s that great story about the guy who came to kill him because his sister had become a nun in Yogananda’s order, and the guy was super-angry with Yogananda. hated Him. came to kill Him at Mt. Washington. Yogananda knew, and asked the Mother what to do. She replied, ‘let him have it!’ so when the guy came in, Yogananda said, eyes blazing, “I know who you are and what you came to do here. if you enter this room with even one more step, I will have to let you burn!”
well, the guy was angry and came another step into the room, and the Mother said, ‘do it!’ so Yogananda let the man feel as though he was, literally, on fire. the guy starts screaming “I’m on fire, I’m on fire!” rolling around on the ground……. and finally ran away, never to return again to try something so foolish as to attack a saint.
As with everything, the Divine beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But for myself, humbly and honestly, I did see the Divine energy that Nithyananda is bringing into this world, and was super-impressed.
He is NOT my Guru — I have a Guru already who is profound, and taught me how to perceive/experience Divine energy channels, particularly relating to the Mother Divine — but I have an enormous respect forNithyananda and what He’s bringing to this world.
I just felt I had to say this, and not to leave this thread hanging in a negative judgment about a Divine character.
Question: What is the difference between you and me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The difference is – I don’t see or feel any difference but you do!
I can never get tired of listening to beings describing their Self realization experience (or Enlightenment experience). What is beautiful is how this experience can dawn on any human being truly irrespective of his/her race, religion, age etc.
What is fascinating is how each person rather struggles to verbalize his/her experience. And every description, although pointing to the same experience of dissolution of boundaries/limitedness of individuality, is so absolutely unique.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art Of Living Foundation and one of the most astonishing Spiritual Masters in the world today, describes it thus – “Enlightenment is an experiential journey from being somebody to being nobody to being everybody”. Sri Sri continues “It is like a wave realizing that it is in fact an Ocean. Is the wave ever separate from the Ocean? Does it even have it’s own existence outside the Ocean?”.
Sri Sri, along with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and a few other popular Spiritual Masters – whose love for this Existence is so unconditional – have the ability to transmit this experience to “qualified” beings. “Qualified” here does NOT mean physical-strength or intellectual or religious-training qualification (more on this “qualification” in another post).
One of the most beautiful definitions of Enlightenment came to me from Scott Rabalais. Scott, an American who has little idea about Hinduism (proving again how Self-Realization is beyond cultural, religious identities), puts it : The term “enlightenment” refers to the experience of Oneness, that is, going beyond the experience of the small or limited self (or going beyond the experience of the normal “I”-ness that all ordinary beings experience every waking moment). It is the dropping of the self-imposed boundaries that separate the identity of one’s individuality with all else. Indeed, with such dissolution of boundaries, one’s identity, paradoxically, becomes the All-in-All. Interestingly, even the concept of “identity” falls by the wayside in pure awareness of “enlightenment”. It is coming to know who we are on a deeper level or an expanded basis.
What [Swami Nithyananda] calls “360-degree” awareness, I experienced as existing in an ocean of life. Not only am I a drop of water, I am far, far more — the ocean itself. Thus, the “I” (or the normal “I”-ness) is only a small, limited part of the vastness and infinity of the ocean of existence. In becoming the ocean, I am not only the individual “drop” but the infinite and collective number of drops in the vastness of the ocean. While this may not be an exact analogy, it may serve the point in indicating the loss of the “drop” identity (or loss of the normal “I”-ness identity) to become the ocean and all the properties of the ocean.
When this expansion of awareness occurs, one’s reverence for life also expands. Indeed, one becomes that which has been seen, in a more limited awareness, as apart from one’s self. [Swami Nithyananda] mentions about being unable to harm or kill (or judge) another and this is so because the “another” is now viewed (actually experienced) as one’s own self, as one is completely identified with all of life. One feels far more and far more deeply now, as if one can empathize with any living creature that walks the earth or flies above it — or swims in its oceans! There is even a strong compassion for Mother Earth herself as a living being, not just a big rock in space serving our every want and need. The ground we walk upon becomes far more sacred in our perceptions.
Many of us live in a world that is nearly completely ignorant of what is possible through self-awareness. Instead, it is caught up in the trappings of the mind/ego, that is, the conquest for more — more money, more fame, more possessions and on and on. While I would not judge this as being “wrong” nor would I state that having any of these conditions is somehow in error, I would state that there lies within us a far greater reality and experience, one where all the money, fame and possessions in the world simply pale in comparison to.
It is Who We Are, and it is our Divine right to claim it. It is as much ourselves as our own breath.
What is also interesting is how they keep reiterating again and again that every human being is “capable” of attaining this state, simply because Enlightenment is not an achievement, it is a home-coming, absolute-homecoming as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation, puts it. This is the Ultimate-Identity of every being, every atom, every inch of space in this Universe.
As Linda Johnsen puts it – “Finding something that you never lost, that you can never lose, because it is You!”.
Although most “rational” minded people understandably attribute this experience to a drug “high” 🙂 , the clarity, authenticity and the humility with which these beings narrate the experience is convincing enough for me.
Below are a couple of beautiful narrations of this experience of Enlightenment.
Both the videos are “must-watch” videos for sincere spiritual seekers. It is not necessary to believe what is being said. Just listening with an open-mind, and with complete awareness is good enough.
First one is from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He is amazingly eloquent in his description of the experience. Here is the gist of what he tells:
- Till that moment (before Enlightenment) I thought “This is me and that is somebody else”. For the first time I did not know which is me and which is not me. Suddenly what was me was just all over the Universe.
- If you can actually experience people around you as yourself, then nobody needs to teach you to love and care, because caring for what you experience as yourself is very natural. This (caring for yourself) is ingrained in the very nature of the Existence.
- Every human being is equally capable of experiencing this state. No one human being is better endowed than the other.
- Boundary of sensation expanded from the outer skin to the whole Universe.
The second narration of the experience is by Swami Nithyananda (this was in fact the first experience that I heard). His accent might be difficult to understand. When I first heard this talk, I was simply blown away. It was an “Yes! I got it!” – it just cleared up so many things in my mind. The gist of his narration is:
- I felt very clearly, experienced that I am not only alive inside my skin, I am alive outside my skin also. I am alive in the plants, trees, rocks, animals, other human beings, mother Earth, the Sun, the moon, everything and everyone.
- Complete acceptance of life as it is happens only when you experience that you are not just alive inside your skin, but you are alive inside every skin.
- Anybody who goes through this experience, his identification with his gender, race, religion, culture, nationality, even his species disappears. His love for all life becomes unconditional because from his perspective – everything and everyone is himself, no other exists.
- Words like “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “it”, “we”, “us”, “them” do not have any real meaning anymore after the experience. For example, you do not say “I” to your hand or leg. These words are now merely used for the sake of language.
The third narration is by Shri Bhagawan (also known as Kalki Bhagwan). His beautiful narration approaches the description of Enlightenment (Mukti) from a very unique angle.
Sadhguru’s talk (15 minutes)
Swami Nithyananda’s experience (6 minutes):
Shri Kalki Bhagawan’s narration (5 minutes):
Most urban Hindus, mainly the youth, really don’t care much about their religion. This is especially true for those who have been brought up in a more “Western/Scientific” culture.
In a certain way, I feel this is a good thing as modern scientific education prevents blind belief, unnecessary fear. Not constraining the mind by blind superstitious beliefs and fear also promotes reasoning and the attitude of questioning (which has been primarily responsible for all inventions and discoveries).
But modern education should also promote open-mindedness.
This attitude of urban Indians toward their religion is very understandable. Worshiping “idols”, “monkeys”, “birds”, don’t make much sense in today’s age of science and reasoning.
However, discarding everything religious or ancient as blind superstition is also dangerous as one might throw away much needed wisdom. Indian cities like Varanasi, Madurai and even Patna have been continuously inhabited for thousands of years – and that too following almost exactly the same traditions as today. It is difficult, if not impossible, for civilizations to exist that long without some practical wisdom. And it would certainly help if some of that wisdom could be useful in modern times. So it might not be wise to throw everything about the religion or culture as blind superstition.
Blind disbelief, to me, is just as limited as blind belief. In both cases, one is close-minded to the other possibility.
While reasoning should be encouraged, being open-minded about all possibilities (whether it is scientific or outside the domain of today’s science) should also be encouraged.
As Yogananda Paramhamsa says beautifully in “Autobiography of a Yogi“, even miracles have perfect reasoning behind them, but only those with enhanced perceptions can see the reason.
In the pages below, author Linda Johnsen, beautifully describes the aspect of Idol-worship as well as formless-worship in Hinduism.
It is important to note that worshiping here does not mean bowing down in fear and respect to some superior power (who would kick our butt if we do not bow down to “Him”). Worshiping here means intense, causeless, irresistible, crazy or mad love towards all life and the source of life.
The book from which the below pages have been taken is “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism” by Linda Johnsen. A must read book for every spiritual seeker from India. It explains Hinduism in a way that makes perfect sense to today’s urban Indian.
Not my intention to violate any copyrights! You can purchase the book here.
Below excerpts (and some portions of the book) might be demeaning to Westerners or followers of Abrahamic faiths, however in my opinion, the intention of the author was to address the notion of Hinduism being primitive, superstitious and a religion of pagans, rather than claim superiority of one religion/culture over another.
In another beautiful story of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (posted at the end), she does illustrate that all religions, spiritual paths lead to the Truth/God/Self. The religion, per se, does not matter but what matters is the sincerity and intensity of the devotee.
Read and enjoy.
Looking at all the issues and suffering (man-made and natural) in the world today, couple of guys from Michigan traveled around the world, with a list of 20 questions about life.
They put these 20 questions to various religious and spiritual leaders around the world.
The compilation of the responses to these 20 questions is how they compiled, created the documentary movie “One”. A very well intended film.
One of the 20 questions posed was “Describe God”.
Below video captures the responses by different religious and spiritual leaders to that question.
It is fascinating how people who talk from direct experience (the Indian Saint with the turban and the beard – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Thich Nhat Hanh, and the white lady) sound different from other religious people who are well-versed in scriptures.