Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gurudev Nityananda on "Baba Muktananda's Footsteps" Tour

Back around 1979-84, I misspent a chunk of my youth living in ashrams of Swami "Baba" Muktananda. Last night, I took a trip down memory lane by attending a free program of one of Muk's successors, Gurudev Nityananda, who's currently on a year-long tour marking what would have been Muk's 100th birthday. My impressions might be of some interest to people with a connection to Muktananda's old scene, his "Siddha Yoga (SYDA)" organization, and its offshoots.

So here's a little report I just posted on the ex-Siddha Yoga Yahoo group:

Went to see Nit Jr (Swami Nityananda) last night. It was the final program of the Northern Calif (Berkeley) leg of his "Footprints of Muktananda" year+ long tour.

7pm-9pm. Nity sat up on throne in his swami costume and all, but there was only a shadow of the "we're in the presence of the Supreme Lord, Omygawd!" atmosphere that there was in Baba's day. I wonder how much of the difference was external and how much was the change in my own perception. In any case, all the talk etc was about how cool and great Baba was; it doesn't seem that Nity is encouraging that much glorification of himself.

I'm not good at estimating crowds; maybe there were 150 of us? Middle aged with a smattering of kids. I think mostly folks who'd been on Baba's 3rd Tour or earlier, now with normalish lives, looking for some nostalgia or re-connection.

The program started with a puja that lasted the better part of an hour. The Sanskrit chanting was nice and gave me good feelings, but it did go tediously on and on. I mused that if I was looking to make something special, I could fixate on the good feelings I got from hearing the mantras etc, and build a mindset about how holy and spiritual and important it was. But these days that's no longer on my to do list.

Then a short movie with clips of Baba and Nity senior. Talking about how great they were, but again, not as over the top stupidly gushing as the old days. Then talk from Eddie Oliver, who was ashram manager during Baba's American tour days. Then a song, "6 verses on liberation" from Shankaracharya, in Sanskrit. Then Nity gave a talk, then Om Namah Shivaya chanting, and a few minutes of meditation, then people lined up to greet Gurudev as I exited with my friends.

It's all a little like Protestantism or Reform Judaism. That is, it seemed that people were looking for some good feelings, nice ideas, connect with some community, but nothing that'd really shatter their ordinary lives.

Nity's talk was kind of nice-sounding empty spiritual stuff. He did start out by quoting some scripture about how it's impossible to achieve the natural state without the guru's grace. Told a story about greatness of guru's grace. It was all kind of silly and meaningless. What does this have to do with real life? It's just something to make you feel good for a while when you think about it. And I think that's what people were looking for.

Unlike the old days, there didn't seem to be much suggestion that anyone should be transforming their lives. More like, hey, we've all been initiated by Baba, let's revel a bit in how wonderful and special that is, think a bit about how to connect that with the lives we're leading now. Maybe visit Nity on his tour sometime, or join or initiate a monthly satsang in the area so we can chant and meditate together, isn't this all sweet like those old days? A bit of High School Reunion in the air.

The worst I can say is that some people still seemed kinda ditzy. Like they were using meditation practices to get a goofy high, rather than to really perceive truth clearly, or to help other beings. To each his or her own.


gniz said...

Hey Stuart,

I really like your style and angle, been reading your stuff for awhile. I've added you as a link to my blog.

Like yourself, I'm fascinated by cults and how one gets in (and out) of them and what they do and dont offer.

Anyway, enjoyed this last post. I would also be curious to hear more about what your practice is like these days.

Stuart said...

Hi, gniz. I've been intending to link to your blog for a while, but I've been working full time etc & hadn't gotten to it. Sorry I've been lazy; I'll add the link to your blog from here and from my site now, and will make sure to surf over soon and check out your own angle.


Shakti Kat said...

I'm the one who calls herself "DivineAndGlorious" on Guruphiliac (a name that sprang from a moment of deliberate silliness). I like your blog. I did a tiny little blog on Nityananda Jnr too. I saw him a couple of months ago and I thought he was sweet and nice, and I enjoyed his satsangs and his Baba reminiscings, but his energy was sort of really weird and I've felt horribly sick ever since. I agree, some of the people at his satsang were a bit off the planet.

Stuart said...

shakti kat:
I'm the one who calls herself "DivineAndGlorious" on Guruphiliac

Hi, kat, thanks for posting here. And sorry I made fun of your "DivineAndGlorious" name over on Guruphiliac. It's a relief to know you were being deliberately silly.

Sometimes folks in the spiritual underbelly are so off the planet that I'm sure they're joking... and then it turns out they're serious. It gets tough to tell who's satirical and who's delusional!

Back when I was in Muktananda's ashrams, lots of people used meditation etc to get into stoned, other-worldly states. Including me. Now for about 20 years, I've been practicing in Zen-style groups, where people try to be clear and attentive, not zoned out like an Appalachian snake handler.

That's why I was struck by the Nityananda satsang; it was a bit of a time warp to be back with a more stoned-style crowd.

To each his or her own, really, as long as they don't scare the horses.


Shakti Kat said...

Hey Stuart, you sound like a nice guy. Just read your reply now, as I've been away for a few days. Yeah, Nit's mob were like fossilized space cadets. You don't get people like that in SY that much now. I think that's why I like going to SY chants, despite the nasty history of some of it - at least the energy is more down to earth and clearer nowadays - especially since George Afif left the organization. The way they treated Nit still upsets me though, but he kind of brought it on himself. I guess I'm a bit off the planet myself at the moment, as it really did freak me out seeing Nityananda again and finding that, although he hasn't got that much shakti and what he does have feels really off and weird to me, he does have something nice about him. He's quite loving and gentle. Wondering what I've missed all these years by avoiding him. Oh well, too late now! I don't plan to start joining Shanti Mandir. As for Zen, I've thought of looking into that myself. I may give it a go one day. Other ex-SY people do Zen (as do some current SY people) and they say there is not much shakti but it is good for their minds. I'm not exclusive when it comes to spiritual practices - I think you can get positive experiences and lessons from all sorts of different paths - and you can also get negative stuff from just about all of them too.

Stuart said...

Hi again, Shakti Kat.

Nit's mob were like fossilized space cadets. You don't get people like that in SY that much now.

Interesting! I haven't been around SYDA ashrams for years, so I might have some old impressions of that scene. When I was around Baba around late 70s, it was still common for people to walk around stoned and non-functioning, or to make bizarre sounds or movements during meditation time, stuff like that.

Over the years, even while I was still there in thru mid-80s, the over-the-top strangeness became less common and tolerated. There are lots of subtle ways this can be communicated through the group. People get the message that being a "space cadet" isn't respected any more, so it becomes less common.

The way they treated Nit still upsets me though, but he kind of brought it on himself.

It's not like I blame Nity. He was being influenced by Baba and his scene pretty much since birth. Yet it's true that Nity is benefiting from the whole Muktananda mythology... his claim to having some of Mukt's magical energy is Nity's "meal ticket." To the extent that he's bought into that whole mythology, you could say he's brought on the consequences himself.

it really did freak me out seeing Nityananda again and finding that, although he hasn't got that much shakti and what he does have feels really off and weird to me, he does have something nice about him. He's quite loving and gentle.

I've known Nity casually since the ashram days around '78 when he was a teenager. He ALWAYS, consistently over the years, has been to my eyes has been pretty friendly and laid-back, not mean-spirited like his sister and some other power brokers in the organization.

As far as his "energy," whatever people feel around him has lots to do with their own intentions and the group dynamic around Nity, less so with anything Nity possesses or controls himself.

Wondering what I've missed all these years by avoiding him. Oh well, too late now!

Yup, that's by far the most important point. The only thing we've got is this moment; the past is just a dream!

Other ex-SY people do Zen (as do some current SY people) and they say there is not much shakti but it is good for their minds.

Zen involves meticulous attention to one's own thinking process. The Siddha Yoga idea of "shakti," that there's some magical energy external to ones own mind, has got nothing to do with Zen-style practice.

In Siddha Yoga talk, great importance is placed on getting or finding "shakti" outside somewhere. There are suggestions that a person (like the guru) or a place (an ashram or holy place) or thing (something the guru has touched or whatever) can pass on this magical energy.

ALL of this is a distraction from the simple Zen-style practices of attending to one's thinking and behavior in this moment, questioning ideas of "self," and acting compassionately.

I'm not exclusive when it comes to spiritual practices

Right. It's my own intention, attitude, and understanding that matters, not the particular practice. It's not whether I practice in Zen-style or Siddha Yoga-style... it's why I practice at all. Is it to get some bliss or special energy for myself? Or is it to find clear perception and understanding that will benefit all beings?

Within a couple weeks, when I get a little more time, I'll blog about my own particular practices and encourage commenters to share details of their practice. I'll be real interested to hear about how you and others actually connect with one or more spiritual traditions in day to day life.

Shakti Kat said...

Great! Would love to hear more about Zen. I majored in comparative religions (ancient, new, world religions and smaller sects) at university/college level many many years ago - my pre-SY days. I found it disturbing how all the religions I studied had original begun as pure spiritual paths until people came along and started transforming them into something less desirable (i.e. they became cults and eventually grew into dogmatic religions, totally losing the original purpose of being. This happened in SY right before my eyes in the mid-80s.)

As for "Shakti" I'm not really sure what it is.. it is like a feel-good drug and, when you're feeling good it is easier to transform oneself. However, it is also easy to just get caught up in the feeling, and not bother to transform. Anyway, that's how I see it.

I like going to ISKCON (Hare Krishna) chants - a totally different energy from SY - sort of a light blissful energy. I like the people there - they're more laid back and more compassionate than some who shall not be named (I can't name them because they're my bunch. lol!!!). ISKCON has had its problems too. I like Tibetan Buddhism but it is full of power games and a bit too ritualistic - however their teachings on compassion are really good. Yeah, Zen is simpler and more down to earth and less cultish in my view - I'd like to hear more about it, as I didn't actually study Zen back then - maybe I read a couple of books, that's all.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't that swami have a girlfriend? It is all a bit too bizarre for me!

Anonymous said...

Yes, her name is Devayani. She did temple seva in Fallsburg before running off with Nit.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I personally don't know of Muktananda's faults but.......I say......look in the mirror at yourselves!!

Stuart said...

Anony wrote...
> I say......look in the mirror at
> yourselves!!

Yeah, that's what you say. But what you say is a trivial matter, compared to what you do. In writing this comment, anony, aren't you doing the opposite of looking in the mirror? In your comment, there isn't the tiniest speck of self-reflection!

Anonymous said...

um thats because gurdev is fake. baba muktananda and nityananda are the real deal. so ofcorse your experience lacked shakti. thats why you felt it in 1984 and its gone now. go back to memory lane yu will get more out of it. rather than gurdevs so called tour.

Stuart said...

Anony wrote "um thats because gurdev is fake. baba muktananda and nityananda are the real deal."

You can call ANYONE fake, you can call ANYONE "the real deal"... whatever that means.

If you can support your words with evidence, or with a reasoned argument, then that could mean something. Otherwise, it's empty babble.

Anonymous said...

Muktananda also made constant reference to his Guru. It is a sign of deep gratitude and without gratitude one has nothing. It is also a sign of humility. I would suggest you re visit Gurudev with an open heart and mind and see what unfolds. Devayani is definitely not his girlfriend. Gurudev was very young back in Baba's day and you are bringing a small natural incident into the present. In the 20 years we have hosted Gurudev and visited his ashrams he has demonstrated nothing but purity, selfless service and deep practical knowledge for modern day living whilst remaining authentic. The shakti has always been present with Gurudev but your mind is covering it just as some people did not receive it with Baba. Gurudev encourages self empowerment not codependency and at the same time gives you the deep experience of the divine within. We all mature with age and so did Baba. Give Gurudev a chance. You won't be sorry. I have seen many skeptics from Baba's days return in the past two years with a change of heart.

Stuart Resnick said...

Thanks for posting, Anony. You wrote: The shakti has always been present with Gurudev. It's hard for me to know exactly what you mean when you use foreign jargon like "shakti" instead of speaking in plain English. But I think you mean that you believe there's some magical invisible energy that swirls around your Gurudev. Is that it?

The first thing to understand is that you can say this about ANYONE. You could say that George Bush, or Lady Gaga, or Vlad Putin have magical invisible energy swirling around them. In other words, just because you imagine something to be true, it doesn't mean it really is true.

Don't get me wrong. You're free to make up any sort of belief-system, and cling to it because it makes you feel good. I have neither the ability or desire to stop you.

But don't bother me with assertions that have nothing to back them up. I find it tiresome. If you can support your claims with some sort of evidence, or with a reasoned argument, THEN I'll be interested in what you say.

Anonymous said...

I understand your feeling about the term, ‘shakti’. I felt the same way for some time. It can be used incorrectly and I rarely used it. Interestingly, I have only been usuing it recently as the shakti has been more deeply felt around Gurudev of late. I was actually responding to your comments about it. Coming form a science background of psychology and human bisocience etc I had more faith in this type of knowledge and for me real spirituality was bringing higher consciousness of goodness into the world and that represents love, peace, compassion and happiness. Consciousness is energy. The shakti energy represents our true source of being. Energy that is pure unconditional love, compassionate, peaceful and blissful. This is what I experience when I am around Gurudev. Having said that if I am not in alignment with this energy which is not often enough, like most of us, than of course I do not experience the shakti. There is no “magical energy swirling around Gurudev”. It is ones own energy that tunes into another’s energy. The energy of the people you mentioned is not shakt energyi. I do not experience that from them at all. Those feelings are from the mind and its manipulation. Shakti energy is beyond the thought process and arises out of being present to what is, being humble, grateful, simple and non judgemental. It is within us. Gurudev does not advocate he has this magic. He simply sits in it as his focus is on God. The divine within us all regardless of our mad moments, days or years. The conditioning of life and experiences clouds this beautiful Truth. It is something that is felt not thought. It is something that is experienced within.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to share with you that I have visited Shanti Mandir Ashram in India several times and I feel very humbled by what is happening there. Over 100,000 poor and suffering village people, to date, from far reaching areas of Magod are being treated by the paediatrician and medical doctor who has given her life to this purpose and is stationed at the ashram. A self empowering crafts industry for women and families of need has been founded by one of the devotees and now these women are able to have a career sewing and are making money to feed their families. There is a sanskrit and educational school at the ashram for underpriviledged boys who after 10 years of study receive a degree from Varanasi University. Thousands of people have their sight due to sponsorhip of Fred Hollows Eye Camps in Northern India. This is just the tip of the iceburg. Gurudev does not sit on a high throne drawing crowds by manipulating people’s minds or mesmerising them into some delusional concept. He is a balanced man who is practical in a compassionate manner, highly informed with spiritual knowledge and has a heart full of forgiveness and compassion. He has been crucified and beaten, humilated and disregaarded. However, his faith in God and the path has never wavered. He does not speak of himself nor of his amazing achievments with the wonderful work he is doing for thousands in India. He has been the finest example to our family, including my now grown up adopted daughter from an Indian orphanage, in humility, practical compassion, love and service.

Anonymous said...


What evidence do you have to back up your claim that spiritual energy of the divine does not exist? You only have subjective evidence. It is the same with the path of Yoga. It is a subjective experience. Having said that science had now proved everything is energy and it does not exist as we thought it did. They now realise that behind this energy is a higher energy field that is causing all of this. The reason we all seek love, peace and happiness (and even bliss) is because that is our true nature and our true source. However, we look for it through people, place and things instead of within. It is within others too, of course . However, you need to begin with your self first. How can you love others if you do not love your self. Your higher Self that is, not your ego or body. The mind is a tool for understanding all of this, but the way in which we use it is based on conditioning and judgement and past and future experiences as opposed to an opening to what is. My experience has taught me that living life with a higher power greater than myself and yet at the same time is within me as my Self is the answer to a meanigful, creative and loving life. Thank you for blog. It is very thought provoking. However, sadly, it is not love provoking.

Stuart Resnick said...

Hi Anony. You wrote, "What evidence do you have to back up your claim that spiritual energy of the divine does not exist?"

This makes me wonder about your earlier claim that you "come from a science background." Firstly, anyone with a real science background would understand that a claim is proven only when you can provide evidence of it.

It's NOT necessary to prove that a claim does not exist. Real scientists don't waste their time trying to prove the non-existence of the Easter Bunny or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That'd be silly, because there's no evidence that these things exist in the first place.

Also, a real scientist would be able to express his claims in precise, clearly-defined language. A scientist wouldn't use fuzzy words like "spiritual energy of the divine."

Perhaps you got some degree in Psychology, and perhaps in that field it's possible to avoid a clear understanding of scientific method. In the various groups that promote magical spiritual ideas, I'm sure that there are plenty of therapists, but I'd be surprise to find many real scientists.

Anonymous said...

Science has always and always will continually change. In many cases, what was believed scientifically has changed, even though it was so called “proven”. Science does not simply build on facts, it also corrects itself when it discovers it was not right after all. Science obviously has an important role in our life. However, It can also be destrutrive as ot is dualistic and can therefore used for good or bad as noted in the world. The Vedas although ancient, contain universal knowledge They contain Truths that do not change over time as they inform us of ways to be in the world but not of the world. They help us to transcend suffering and to find meaning in the life. They bring us hope, love, peace and joy. These experienced feelings cannot be measured because no one, not even scientists, know where the mind is. They only know where the brain is, stored memories, synapses and neurotransmitters. They admit freely they do not know where the mind is. Divine energy working in our life can only be experienced subjectively. I know people who have been in the pits of dispair, in jail, in the streets etc. Through 12 step work they have transformed their lives in unimaginable ways. They put it down to a higher power working in their lives because they realised their thinking that was spiritually lacking did not bring them the happiness they sort. This is proof. However, you need to be willing and you need to "act as if" first, without so call proof. From that point you will have the experience. I agree, there are a lot of delusional people on the spiritual path because they are looking for some trip, some high or sadly an escape from life and its sufferings that we all have to face in one way or another. However, that is not Gurudev’s way. He is grounded in realness and humility. He is a wonderful teacher and example. We all need teachers in various fields of our life. That is how we learn. Then it is up to us to have the experience.

Stuart Resnick said...

anony wrote, Science has always and always will continually change.

The scientific method provides a means to determine that a belief is false. It's a "bullshit detector." Scientist may agree on one explanation today, but tomorrow new evidence could lead to a different conclusion. That's why science is alive... it allows our beliefs to change as we encounter new information

Religion, on the other hand, has no "bullshit detector." You embrace ideas from a dusty old book (e.g. your claim that "The Vedas although ancient, contain universal knowledge"). There's nothing to back up your claim, no reasoned argument, no evidence. It's just an idea that makes you feel good.

You may cling to dogmas from the Vedas for the rest of your life, and it'll never change. That's why paying attention to actual, ever-changing experience is alive, while clinging to the unchanging words of scriptures is dead.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree. You are right. Absolutely. It is the experience that gives you the knowledge. It is the subjective experience of being present to the ever changing world that is alive. To be present to what is alive. However, who is experiencing this? Who is aware? Who is the screen that does not change behind the movie that is continually changing? All that moves and changes is transient. It is made of elements that are within the universe and within us. We are made of the same stuff. Scientists have now proven there is nothing iside atoms. They disappear. They don’t really exist. That’s us! However, they have also discovered another energy field beyond this. All of this is in the vedas as well as knowledge about the cosmos that is now known be correct of only recent times. Why? The reason is these rishis meditated and contemplated their realisations and tested them as the first scientists and discovered these Truths. They have been written in the most ancient of languages, sanskrit, by these rishis. Originally it was passed on by oral tradition. Sanskrit was not the spoken language by the general people, it was a vedic language. Sanskit was spoken only by those who realised the Truth. Religiion, belief systems, culture etc has been built up around this truth that you yourself, are against, and understandably. You are a seeker of truth, no doubt. My experience began before I read the vedas. It simply explained it.

Stuart Resnick said...

anony wrote, To be present to what is alive. However, who is experiencing this?

When faced with this great question (What am I?) we have two choices.

(1) We can be honest, and clearly see that the only sincere answer is "don't know," or

(2) We can embrace a belief-system that allows us to pretend we know things... when we're really just parroting words from an old scripture.

It's your choice, anony. Which way do you like?

My experience began before I read the vedas. It simply explained it.

Your actual, alive experience is wonderful. But apparently you don't believe in your experience, since you talk instead about the dead words of some scripture. It's like you found a great treasure (you own experience), and then threw it a way to cling to garbage (the blah-blah-blah of the Vedas).

Anonymous said...

The goal of the Vedas is to define, create and maintain a harmonious relationship between macrocosm and microcosm and the final end of the Vedic path, union with the Absolute is achievable only after establshing right relationship with the relative. "The One exists in all an the all exists in the One". Unity and dualty exist simulataneously because like the two faces of the coin one cannot exist without the other. Absolute characteristics do not exist in our world except for seers and saints who are Self realised. The rest of us all experience only one of many possible states of relative truth. Religions and the Greek thought have taught us Westerns an absolute version of duality. Therefore we easily see life as one way or another but not as One in all and all in one simultaneously. The knowledge of science tries to express itself by language just as we are expressing our opinions to each other. The sanskrit language is integral to explaining its Truth and for me, at least, it rings true. The Rishis are the seers of the Vedas and they spent their lives contemplating the beauty of the simultaneous absoluteness and relativity of existence. In unguarded moments their exaltation and their bliss escaped into verbal incarnation. These limited expressions of unlimited reality became the Vedic hymns. Facts are only the raw material from which life is created. A sage collects the dead, dry so called facts of life and transmits his own life-force into them to create a living text, just as the Creator’s touch sets in motion the cosmic spheres. All potentialities exist within this singularity. This ancient knowledge is so logical and all encompassing. It does not exclude anyone regardless, of intellence, gifts, appearance, colour or race. It speaks scientifically and yet at the same time beyond the science that we know with our limited mind sets. It is experiential and can be experienced but it cannot be held constantly as our limited thinking and conditioning pulls us back into the world of dualities. The only thing we can do is to be present to what is with humility, compassion and love which I am sure you do. The vedas states we are all from the one energy of being, the one absolute within all of us equally. It is our conditioned minds and thinking that actually takes us away from this way of thinking... and look at the state the world is in. Our mind cannot know this truth but our higher Self or divine aspect can know our mind. That is why chanting, meditation and reading the vedic knowledge allows the Truth of who we truly are to shine through. However, we have to be willing, patient and determined. We need knowledge based on spiritual truths as well as being present to what is as it helps to cultivate a loving and compassionate heart to all beings.

Anonymous said...

“He who says he knows, knows not and he who says he knows not, knows”. I agree Stuart! Once again, you are right. That is why we need knowledge. I know not and therefore I listen or read the wisdom spoken by the sages as well as meditating. This wisdom warms my heart because I feel it is the Truth and when put into my life whilst being present I experience a drop of the vast ocean of bliss. Imagine what it is like to be the vast ocean.

Stuart Resnick said...

Anony wrote, I know not and therefore I listen or read the wisdom spoken by the sages as well as meditating.

Why are you claiming to know who is or isn't a "sage"? I don't see the point of you pretending to know things that you really don't know.

This wisdom warms my heart because I feel it is the Truth

Throw away what you think is truth. Throw away what you feel is truth. Then perhaps you can awake to the truth that's already appeared right in front of you.

Imagine what it is like to be the vast ocean.

I'm only interested in experience. I don't care about your imagination. You can imagine *anything*.

If you want to post any more, I ask that (1) you choose an identity other than "anonymous," and (2) you post about your own experience, and NOT parrot words and ideas you've found in books.

Robyn Graham said...

There is nothing wrong with imagination. It connects us with our creativity and inspiration. Where would we be without imagination? How dead this living world would be. Poets, writers, artists and yes, even scientists, draw from their imagination. I have deep respect for my spiritual Master Gurudev Swami Nityananda and other sages and saints.You yourself would not have arrived at the path of Zen buddism had you not used your imagination or drawn on the knowledge of great masters. I have read your biography. It points to this. You had an addiction to drugs to escape your reality and to try and find a superficial connection to bliss. It is a short cut to further creating more misery. You intelligently searched else where and found another path with Baba Muktananda. You had some experiences that gave you knowledge of a higher state of being. However, something happened that created bitterness and sorrow for you. I am sorry. I appreciate your responding to my comments. Indeed the experience is ours and ours alone. However, I feel the one absolute is within all of us and so by tuning into that one absolute we learn to become one with it. Being present is a sign post to the experience. There are many things we need to do include not attaching to our ego, selfless service, meditation and devotion to the divine within us all. Than again, I am speaking from my experience not yours. I feel we are saying the same thing. My life is enriched, meaningful and inwardly peaceful as a result of my path. I do hope yours is as well.

Stuart Resnick said...

Thanks, Robyn. There's nothing wrong with imagination. But it's often useful to distinguish the things you create with your imagination... from your actual experience.

After all, what you create with your imagination is your own personal world. Even if it seems real to you, it's not necessarily real to others.

Robyn said...

I was introduced to the path of yoga and loved the fact that everyone has the divine within regardless of our mad mistaken moments, days or even years. My experience is this divine energy sourece manifests differently at different times in each of us as a result of our conditioning and life experiences. When it is clouded by our ego we are very low in our consciousness. However, by not coming from my ego and by meditating, chanting, reading about this divinity and selfless service (since this divine energy is within us all), the understanding and felt presence of this was strengthened within me. I was contented with that alone. My life was full and meaningful and happy. However, after fifteen years I had a profound experienced beyond anything I could imagine. There you are beyond even the imagination, that will make you happy! A constant blissisful, joyful and peaceful energy that was arising in the present moment of being. This existed regardless of what was happening in the world. I was still my usual self and outwardly it was not noticed except for the fact people said I was glowing. No matter what happened, it was there. Good or bad things occurring around me did not shift this experience. It was a bliss and love that was beyond anything or anyone. However, after ten days, I tuned into a negative situation that another was doing to a friend of mine and it disoloved this experience. I found it difficutl to get back to it. I tried and became irritated by it. Eventually it was explained to me that the reason is my ego attached to this negative experience and I delved into it and I am trying to arrive at this state and there is no where to arrive as it is always there, it is within us. Which is true. Further, I am not enlightened or self realised or what ever term one wishes to put to it. I simply had a taste of the bliss that exists beyond the joy and happiness that we experience in our lives, for me a least, most of the time. Since then I have been doing my sadhana and low and behold I had another experience, though different to the former one. It was during a time with Gurudev in the Navaratri Festival. I was meditating at the end of a session and experienced a warm loving hand placed over my head (it was not someones) and an electric feeling of energy within my scalp and head. I merged into a blissful sensation and felt a love that was so unconditioned and so deep. It lasted only a few minutes. It was beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life, even the previous experience of being present and without ego etc. I thought the experience of being present and not responding to the ego as Echardt Tolle speaks of (any I believe is correct) and that experience in which he does not completely describe because one has to experience it oneself otherwise there is expectation and when there is expectation it does not happen was it. However, I realsise it is only part of it. I believe that experience I has was shakti. It felt like a divine energy. I am so grateful for the experience. I know longer think it may all be true due to my experiences of living in the world, but I know.

Stuart Resnick said...

Robyn wrote, I believe that experience I has was shakti.

"Shakti" is a word, a bit of Sanskrit jargon. A word isn't the same as an experience. Your experience is alive; your words are dead.

It felt like a divine energy.

"Divine energy" is an idea you got out of a book. An idea isn't the same as an experience. Your experience is alive; your ideas are dead.

robyn said...

Words are how we express and communicate both knowledge and experiences. You suggested I post about my experience and so I did. ....."Yes, an idea is not an experience. However an experience can be expressed and match an already expressed experience. The experience I had ("not has" - sorry a typing error) matched the expressed and written experiences the experiencers happened to term shakti. Call it what ever you like or don't call it anything. It really does not matter. Interestingly, Sanskrit has words with meanings not known in other languages. Why? The reason is many people did not understand the experience - that is, until it was experienced. That is why sanskrit was originally not written down and shared with only those who had the experience ie., the rishes. I studied linguistics at uni and Sanskrit is an amazing language. Much of it has been destroyed or lost but that which remains is indeed a treasure. In my opinion.

Stuart Resnick said...

Thanks, Robyn.

"Shakti" and "Divine Energy" aren't your experience. They're ideas that you've chosen to attach to your experience.

If you were to really share your experience, you could do so using your own words... not jargon that you learned out of book.

Robyn said...

Scroll back to the top of my comments. You will recall I had the experience prior to knowing what it was to be experienced. There were sign posts towards it, as expressed by Eckhardt Tolle in, “The New Earth” and in the Vedas and Upanashadas, expressed and guided by my teacher Gurudev Swami Nityananda through certain practices. You don’t understand because words cannot describe the actual experience and that is why the saying, “he who knows, knows not and he he knows not, knows”. The experience of bliss is experienced only by the experiencer. There has been an attempt to describe it with words and when you have the experience and you read about it, though it is difficult to put it in words, you know instantly it is it. It resonates. You yourself would not have the experiences and knowledge you presently have had you not had someone sign post and guide you towards it. It is in your biography. I give credit to those who sign post and guide me to my higher Self. Gratitude and humility help one not to engage with the ego so much. How can you be present to what is on a truly deep level whilst your ego is still at play? Unless you are fully enlightened or Self realised it is not possible. Therefore the rest of my sadhana allows the experience to go deeper and who knows from there after. All I know is that I am am contented; Thank you for responding Stuart. I wish you well.

Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting read about SY, SYDA, Shanti Mandir. History, details about the good, bad and ugly including sexual encounters, opulence (fancy cars, business class flights) and more.

Anonymous said...

It's all the followers that are freaks. Just stop worshipping an idol and you won't have to argue about who is worse or better. You don't need them. You need you and your direct connection to the divine. It's psychological abuse and all codependent. The communities get so messed up and can't even tell, especially if the individual is getting 'noticed' and 'attention' and able to 'serve' the guru. Ego, ego, ego. Find your own peace people and live it - escape the cults!

Anonymous said...

Peace be with you - may you find your own path instead

Anonymous said...

It's all the followers that are freaks. Good you had that experience and you found it and you have opened yourself up to it. Now Just consider stopping worshipping an idol and you won't have to argue about who is worse or better. You don't need them. You need you and your direct connection to the divine. It's psychological abuse and all codependent. The communities get so messed up and can't even tell, especially if the individual is getting 'noticed' and 'attention' and able to 'serve' the guru. Ego, ego, ego. Find your own peace people and live it - escape the cults!

Unknown said...

I've been a Sufi since 2002 and your post sounded a lot like their feel-good, "religion of the heart" practices--their chant is in a circle with head movements and called a zikr, but it's the same idea. Most of the Sufis are leftover hippies and baby boomers from the 70s, and their motto is "love, harmony, and beauty." Everyone has a spiritual Arabic name just as in SY everyone has a Sanskrit name.
But the quasi-spiritual guru principle is the same, except that they venerate Hazrat Inayat Khan of the Chisti lineage, and he has a dargah (shrine) in India.
The Sufi prayers, I must say, are lovely. You can google them easily.