At home, and at school, I was taught, and constantly reminded, that I needed to work hard and get good grades so that I could go to College. Why? So that I could get a degree, and with that degree, I could get a good paying job. Why? Because then I could afford to buy a nice house, a nice car, and attract a nice wife, and support nice children, and buy many of the nice comforts in life. Why? These things will make you happy. After all, you don’t want to end up digging ditches for a living. Can you imagine how miserable that would be?
Hummmm, I thought, maybe the ditch digger’s misery is no worse than the misery I would have to go through to get good grades, and to work my way through college, and to work for a corporation in order to get a good paying job, and to throw my hard earned money in buying goodies and people who may or may not make me happy? After all, when I looked around at everyone in the neighborhood, they had all these things, yet, they didn’t seem to be very happy. The next door neighbor was an alcoholic. The man down the street, was a drug addict, another man had a gambling problem and was often visited by heavy looking thugs, several of the neighbors were engaged in wife swapping, my friends’ mothers were stressed out about the lines in their face or a couple gray hairs which made them look old, my parents were constantly bickering, and practically everyone was struggling to keep up the facade of being successful and happy. And these were the country club set—the so-called successful people in life. Did I really want to grow up and become like them?
Shortly after graduating from high school, I realized I was not who I thought I was: a medium sized, 17 year old body, with brown hair, green eyes, and enough smarts and abilities to help me succeed in whatever endeavor I chose. This was a very liberating realization, but at the same time, it was a death of sorts. My attraction to the material world, and to all that was previously meaningful to me, was dwindling, dying away; and my attraction for the spiritual had been awakened. It could be said that I had been reborn in the spirit. But I was an infant in the spirit. My spiritual knowledge was almost non-existent, and I didn’t know what to do—what action to take with this newly found world view. Where does one begin when searching for his essence and function in life?
It will be worthwhile to take a look at the enlightening 3-part video series based on the life’s essential questions viz. essence, position and function offered by Science of Identity Foundation. This video discourse is spoken by Acharya Das, a student of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa.
Does it mean that I need to join a religion or church? That was what I was thinking as I knocked on the front door of the pastor’s cottage at one of our neighborhood churches. “What can I do for you, son?” The pastor was tall, red-faced, and had a slight pot belly. Through the screen door, I could see that the dining room table was set and that he was in the middle of lunch.
“Sorry to disturb you. I have been going through a bit of a crisis and I was wondering if you have a little time to talk with me about it?”
“Yea, what’s the problem?”
“Well, you see, I had this experience where I realized I’m not this material body, that I’m spirit in essence, but I’m not sure how that all works and how I should conduct my life in a way where I can retain that realization. Similarly, what about God? Can you teach me about God—His Names, qualities and attributes?”
“Look kid, I’m real busy at the moment. What I can tell you about God is that He is a Mystery, and that he works in mysterious ways. Why don’t you come back on Sunday and listen to my sermon?”
“Yea sure,” I somewhat disappointedly said. “Yea, sure…..I’ll do that.”
After visiting several other churches of various denominations and talking to pastors, deacons, fathers, priests, elders and so forth; and after repeatedly being told that God is a Mystery; I came to the conclusion that churches had a useful function in society, but were pretty much useless for one who is seriously seeking self-realization or knowledge of God.
Then, somehow, I was reminded of a verse in the Bible were Jesus stated that the Kingdom of God is within. Having accepted this truth, I realized that my journey must turn inward, and that meditation was a vehicle to go within. But how would I meditate? Was there a certain technique to it, or was it just a process of self-analysis? Who could teach me the proper way to meditate, what would I have to do, and where could I learn such things?
Well, lo and behold, not more than a few hours after these thoughts, I came across a poster advertising Meditation. All I had to do was abstain from drugs and alcohol for two weeks and pay a $15 dollar fee. In return, they would give me a personal mantra and teach me several techniques for meditation. Well, abstaining was no problem, but at the time I was in between jobs and low on money. Also, charging for spiritual knowledge didn’t sit well with me. In my mind, that which is spiritual is the opposite of that which is material. And since everything material has a price tag on it, then that which is spiritual should be given away freely. And, besides, spiritual life is about love, and love cannot be bought or sold. It is a condition of the heart. Anyway, I put aside my doubts, and decided to go ahead and pay for the meditation class. But in the end, all I could scrounge up was $13.95.
Surely, I thought, they would understand my situation and accept my money along with an IOU for $1.05. I would be getting paid two days later and would be glad to pay the balance then, with interest. But it was a no go. The guy even had the nerve to say, “No money, no honey.” Then he slammed the door in my face.
Encounters like this taught me, early on, that there are lessons to be learned from each and every experience. This particular one taught me that the spiritual landscape is over populated with wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are many people out there posing as concerned individuals, or spiritually advanced personalities, who are, in reality, using others for their own personal gain. They pose as benevolent human beings, who have the utmost concern for others’ pain and suffering, but factually, they make their living by exploiting and manipulating vulnerable people for their own gain and/or purposes. In contrast, a real spiritually advanced person is one who is self-satisfied, satisfied from within. That satisfaction comes from being linked up to the pleasure potency, or loving potency of the Supreme Spirit. Therefore, because he is full from within, he has no need for external gains. Instead, such a person externally radiates the love he is experiencing from within and is genuinely compassionate towards others and concerned for their welfare. This type of person is very rare, but essential for guiding us on our path towards the Truth. As such, it is mandatory that we develop the ability to distinguish between the self- interested pretender and our self-satisfied benefactor.
There are many easy methods of meditation that is available freely and it is easy. Anyone can practice meditation effortlessly by resting your heart and mind in the beautiful sound of the sacred mantras. The below videos will help you know to practice meditation by simply listening to these hand picked kirtan music sung by Jagad Guru and friends:
Eventually I learned that along with the Kingdom of God, God, Himself, is within. The Vedic literatures refer to Him as the Paramatma, or the Lord in the Heart. So there are two souls in every body: the individual soul, and the super-soul, or the Paramatma. The individual soul is trying to enjoy the fruits of his actions, whereas the super-soul is waiting for us to turn to Him, and is instructing us from within. So, for starters, meditation is a process of quieting the mind and senses to the point where we can hear the Lord’s instructions from within. When we begin to act upon those instructions, God starts taking an active interest in our lives, and suddenly the impossible becomes possible.
Have you ever been outside on a dark, dreary, cloudy day? The clouds were very thick, and even though it was midday, there was little light to be seen. Then, suddenly, a small ray of sunshine poked through the clouds and shined upon you. You reveled in the joyfulness of that warm, soothing beam of light shining upon you. But, alas, the clouds eventually covered that comforting beam again, and you were back in the dark? Well that’s kind of how I was then. I had received a small ray of God’s sunshine but, for the most part, it had dissipated, and I was still very much in the dark. The ray had opened my eyes to the existence of the Supreme, but I was still covered by the darkness of material life. However, now that I had faith in His existence, the Supreme Spirit began to invisibly take control of my life.
For instance, after learning how to silently meditate, I started to look for knowledge from the writings of many of history’s wisest men, especially our writers, poets, and philosophers. The Transcendentalists were of particular interest to me: people such as Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, Fuller, Whitman, Coleridge, Carlyle, Goethe, Tolstoy, James, Pound, Huxley, and many of the Indian swamis and Tibetan lamas. I may have processed only a small portion of their bountiful knowledge, but I did start to notice some reoccurring themes. And within these reoccurring themes, a few points stood out above all the others. It was as if the Lord had highlighted these points and framed them within a neon box, and the florescent lights were flashing, “Read this, Take note of it, It is Important.”
Learn meditation from self-realized yoga master Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa. By this video you can not only know how to make your meditation practice effective, but also how to practice at home.
The Science of Identity Founation attempts to present all helpful tools, resources and inspiration for your personal spiritual journey. You can also find many similar videos based on meditation and spiritual journey here.
The first thing that became clear to me was that many, if not most, of these authors had been profoundly influenced by the Bhagavad Gita book. In his book “Walden,” Henry David Thoreau stated: “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”
Similarly, Aldous Huxley found the Bhagavad Gita “the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind.” He also observed that the Gita is “one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed.”
Tolstoy, Emerson, Whitman, Pound, Hesse and so many other literary greats also found wisdom and inspiration from the Gita and other Vedic literatures. Likewise, many inventors, psychologists, and intellectuals were inspired by the Gita. Einstein, Tesla, Schweitzer, Jung, and James are but a few.
Then, of course, the great Indian saints were even more explicit in their praise of the Gita. Adi Shankara, the incarnation of Lord Shiva, and the original guru of the Mayavadi schools of thought, stated that: “From a clear knowledge of Bhagavad-Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled. Bhagavad-Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures.”
Similarly, Madhavacharya, the head of the Brahma Sampradaya (aka Gaudiya Vaisnava Lineage), also revered the Gita, and its mother book the Mahabharata: “The Mahabharata has all the essential ingredients necessary to evolve and protect humanity and that within it the Bhagavad-Gita is the epitome of the Mahabharata just as ghee is the essence of milk and pollen is the essence of flowers.”
In the late 1960’s, however, it was not common knowledge that so many great persons had been influenced by the Bhagavad Gita. Personally, I had never heard of it. Yet, the Lord was arranging my life in such a way that nearly every book I read had a reference to the Gita. Even if a book contained just one obscure reference, I would manage to pick that book up, randomly open it, and surprise, surprise, that one little obscure Gita reference would glare out at me like a huge Hong Kong neon billboard.
The second recurring theme which grabbed my full attention was the need for a spiritual teacher. The Indian authors used the word “guru.” Plato had Socrates, Aristotle had Plato, Thoreau had Emerson, and so forth. In the eastern tradition, it was mandatory that before becoming a teacher, one must first, themselves, be a student of a self-realized teacher.
It will be very beneficial to know about the Yoga view of the self and the need for an enlightened teacher. Please take a little time and listen to this short video by student of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupanda explaining on the same subject and we can receive the required guidance.
This process is clearly mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita (4:34) where Krishna states: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”
Certainly, I learned a lot from my research and readings during that time; however it became crystal clear that these two essential points out-shadowed everything else: one needs to read Bhagavad Gita and to find a self-realized spiritual teacher in order to make rapid spiritual advancement. I now realize that nothing was an accident, each incident was transcendently arranged for my benefit. If I was a professional researcher and was consciously scanning the works of authors from the Western World, looking for material about the Gita or the need for a spiritual guide, I would most likely have better luck looking for a needle in a haystack. But, with God, all things are possible. He guided me in selecting the books, He guided me in finding the passages, and He impressed upon my heart, and mind, the importance of those passages. Therefore, the next steps in my spiritual journey had already been determined without my conscious knowledge.
After some time, I found a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in an old metaphysical book store. I started reading it with great gusto, but soon found that I couldn’t understand the vast majority of it. Of course, a few texts would click from within my heart, and were very enlightening, but they were few and far apart. I would often read a verse over and over again, but I still couldn’t grasp its meaning. In my defense, the copy I had bought was not a good translation. Later, I found a better translation and it made much more sense. But its true meaning was still hard for me to capture. Finally, I came across a purport to one of the texts in which the author mentioned that for one to truly understand the Bhagavad Gita, one must study under the tutelage of a bona fide spiritual master and in the spirit of devotion. Well, that was the final impetus I needed. I immediately decided that I was going to sell all my possessions and travel to India in search of my spiritual teacher.
First, I dropped out of school. Then, I bought a ticket to Europe. From there I would travel overland to India. I also bought my traveling gear: sleeping bag, knapsack, water container, utensils, light clothing, and so forth. I was all excited, packed, and anxious to go. Only problem was that my flight didn’t leave for another two weeks. No problem, I thought, I’ll hitch hike up to Canada, visit a good friend, and be back in plenty of time for the flight.
But the powers above had other plans for me. When I returned from Canada, I found that my gear had been stolen and that the ticket I bought was counterfeit. I had purchased it from a fraudulent travel agency, and they had skipped out of town while I was away. So there I was: devastated. I didn’t have enough money to buy another ticket to Europe, couldn’t get back into school, had quit my job, and didn’t even have a place to stay. What was I going to do now?
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