Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cleaning of the Mind in the Light of Sahaj Marg

Cleaning of the Mind in the Light of Sahaj Marg

Author: Kamala Ayengar
(Published in The New Times, a Seattle monthly, September 1994, Page 23)

Sahaj Marg (The Natural Path) is a simple, scientific system of meditation. It is modified Raja yoga. "Yoga" means "union with the Ultimate". "Raja" means "king," and the kingly thing in human beings is the mind. Therefore, the mind can be used as a tool to achieve this union once it is properly molded. My master, Shri P. Rajagopalachari of Madras, India, has revealed several truths about life, love, death, etc. In this article, I would like to try and outline some of his teachings so that it may help others to incorporate these teachings in their lives and enable them to change themselves and realize the true nature of the inner being.

According to my master, thought originates from the cosmic region. It is really difficult to pinpoint where exactly the mind resides in the body, even though the organ is closely associated with our understanding of the mind is the brain. Anyway, mind is the in-between process of information inside-out and outside-in. The mind functions at several different levels: the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, the unconscious mind, and the finest/subtlest conscious entity which may be termed the soul. It is this soul which is the root cause of our existence.

According to the philosophy of Sahaj Marg, one of the essential features of the soul at the beginning of creation was its purity and nearness to God. Therefore, it can be said that the characteristic of the soul is to be free and remain unwrapped. However, over eons of time, we have accumulated layers and coverings around the soul in various forms such as the psyche, consciousness, intellect and the ego. Later on, these coverings started becoming cruder and grosser. Spiritual evolution is nothing but a process of "unbecoming" what we are and "becoming" that which we ought to become, i.e., bring about a purity within our existence and achieve inner perfection.

One of the many characteristics of today's existence for most of us is that we identify ourselves mainly with the body and senses. We have either forgotten or do not want to think about the purpose of our existence and are too entangled with "I" and "my". We have become attached to everything around us that is non-essential and does not contribute to our inner growth.

How can we go beyond the dualities of existence and the so-called problems and difficulties of everyday existence? If we can somehow remind ourselves that the soul is beyond the normal senses of perception, it was pure at the time of creation and is thus an integral part of God, we would recognize that attaining the original purity within our self would lead to the realization of the god within. This would lead us to the understanding that essentially there can be no difference between "me" and "the divinity within me".

Therefore, we should adopt simple, easy means to look for the divinity which resides inside ourselves instead of wasting our time by looking for God on mountaintops and searching for him in temples and churches. All that we need to do is to turn our search inside and seek the help of a spiritual guide who, having traversed the spiritual path, can help us find the "self" within each one of us.

How do we find such a person-one who can lead us to God, towards spiritual evolution and realization? It has been said that a sincere cry from a craving heart can bring the master knocking at the aspirant's door. I can tell you from my personal experience that my master, Shri P. Rajagopalachari, is one such person. He once said, "The only difference between 'God within me' and 'me (us)', is the difference between the 'Self' and 'self'-the former is subtle while the latter is gross. Remove the grossness and the whole mystery is solved."

How do we remove this grossness? By using the cleaning technique of Sahaj Marg. The first step is to understand how grossness is being created so that it may be easily removed and then one must try and see that new impressions are not created because the deeper the impressions, the harder it is to remove them.

I was once at my dentist's office and during a conversation with his wife we spoke about the plastic that they were using to handle the instruments. I was concerned about it and asked her if they changed the covers with each new patient. "Yes," she said, "it is the law." She added, "Can you imagine how much garbage we accumulating? It will take five hundred years or more for the total degradation of today's disposal." That is a very long time to wait! Later, I was thinking about my master's statement that all the impressions and samskaras of which we have accumulated around the soul from all our past lives and this life may take many lives to get rid of.

It may be possible for a person who lives a very long life and is in very good physical condition and makes a continuous effort by putting one hundred percent attention on living a saintly life with truthful practice and honest cleaning, to reach the condition where the total uncovering of the soul has taken place. But, as my master says, "We don't have much time, We don't know how long we are going to live; perhaps we may not get up the next day." Therefore, it is logical and better to somehow know one's "Self" in this life so that one can live his/her life purposefully. This reinforces the need for seeking guidance and help of a spiritual teacher.

Coming back to the topic of impressions and how they are created, my master said, "It is our mind blended with our ego which is the main cause generating these layers around the soul." Therefore, spirituality says that every thought or action performed with the feeling of I-consciousness leaves a trail of subtle impressions in the heart. These impressions become the seed for further thoughts and actions, which again lead to the formation of further impressions. Repeated impressions of the same kind thus solidify into tendencies. These solidified tendencies are called samskaras. Therefore, our real aim should be to exhaust the old samskaras and see that we do not make any more new ones.

It can be said that in one way or another, whatever we are today is due to our past samskaras, and one has to go through the bhoga of these samskaras. When we have bluster with pus we have to undergo the throbbing pain, therefore, we can say that we are undergoing the bhoga of the pus. In the same way in our life, we undergo pain, suffering, pleasure, joy, and happiness due to a combination of our mental predispositions and the situations we are putting ourselves into or are creating for ourselves. This real life training can simply be seen as going through bhoga. This way we learn what to do and what not to do.

Coming again to the mind, the thought is the main instrument. By thinking we become what we are, so Raja Yoga is yoga of the mind, and the mind is the kingly thing in us. To keep the mind pure and balanced is one of the purposes and practices of Raja Yoga.

My master says that the first step in yoga is to purify the mind and remove those impressions of the past. That is the work of the master. The second step in yoga is what we have to do ourselves: meditation. The right type of meditation helps us in the unraveling of the impressions and allows us to make a conscious effort so that we do not form new ones.

Impressions may become the cause of suffering in the future, so the cleaning technique in Sahaj Marg is a very important one. By his help, the master cleans our past impressions. Meanwhile the aspirant has to put in his/her own effort by daily meditation, strongly reminding themselves that whatever they are doing, it is not he/she is who is doing but God within.

By thinking in such a manner, one can remain unattached from all types of action and thought. Thus in the Sahaj Marg system of spiritual training, by continuous practice and with the master's help, one can attain the balanced state of mind and maintain a pure heart and mind.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

ARTICLE FROM OKANAGAN INTEGRATIVE HEALTH & WORKSHOPS

An Introduction to Sahaj Marg -- A Raja Yoga System of Meditation. A worldwide, non-profit organization that teaches the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation, free of charge, to all interested seekers of spirituality.Sahaj Marg has a presence in almost every country in the world, with a total of more than 1500 training centers.

Inspired by the principle that spiritual evolution to the Highest is the birthright of every human being, Sahaj Marg is a heart-centered meditation practice suited to modern-day life, and serves all of humanity — irrespective of one's race, religion, nationality, education, or social standing. This organization is not affiliated with any political or religious belief. The purpose of this organization is to provide a means whereby all interested persons seeking spirituality in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga can come together in the name of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission.

The goal of Sahaj Marg practice is complete oneness with God, or the Ultimate. Two unique features set the method apart from all other meditative practices: evening cleaning, by which impressions and complexities are removed from the heart; and pranahuti, by which the master transmits divine energy from his heart to the heart of the aspirant. With the assistance of the master, trained prefects (instructors), and the aspirant's own dedicated practice, the promise of spiritual evolution in Sahaj Marg can quickly become a reality.

We invite you to explore our new and updated web pages and learn more about the history, philosophy, and practice of Sahaj Marg. Here you will find an effective spiritual practice that stays clear of fear, temptation, and dogma. Indeed, the only requirement to practice Sahaj Marg is the student's willingness.

We pray that you may find the spiritual path that is most suited to you and wish you total success in your pursuit of spiritual evolution to the highest.

There is no fee charged to practice Sahaj Marg meditation. However, it is necessary to contact a preceptor of the Mission to be introduced to the practice. Please refer to the addresses in the SRCM Worldwide section of this web page or complete the

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meditation

This article discusses the mysterious practice that seems to have a positive effect on so many aspects of our lives. Many people ask why and wonder how the practice of sitting still and "doing nothing" actually make a difference in ones life ?

The answer I think lies in the understanding of who we really our and the make up of our Mind, Body, Spirit selves. We are all of these and when we have integrated our Mind, Body and Spirit our whole perspective and awareness of Self changes thus influencing the quality of our lives.

I have been asked by several friends, recently;

- What are the benefits of Meditation?

- How can I start meditating?

- I just cannot seem to be able to sit still and keep my mind blank !

This article will try to shed some initial thoughts on the subject. To begin, I would like to bring your attention to the concept of Awareness. The awareness of self, I believe is paramount in accessing and maintaining a life of quality, a life of peace and a life rich with meaning and value. Many people ask the question - What is the purpose of Life? What am I doing here? What is important? What should I be doing?

Awareness of who you are, what your purpose is and why you live will bring about much peace and joy. Your questions would have been answered and you will have the contentment of knowing what you need to do and what is important to you. Armed with such inner wisdom and peace your life will take on a joyous note.

There are several methodologies that one can follow when trying to meditate. Hence I like to ask people to identify the outcome they seek before they start practicing meditation. If it is money and wealth, then meditation and focusing the mind of money and wealth is all they need to do. If it is inner peace and happiness then all they need to do is focus on that. I on the other hand believe that it is important for us to develop our spiritual nature and be aware of the inner selves, so that we can then develop as whole and complete human beings in total awareness of who we really are.

I have practiced Raja Yoga through the organization of Sahaj Marg (www.srcm.org) they practice a very effective system of developing awareness by focusing on the heart - on divine light - on the presence of divine grace in your heart. In developing this awareness of your own divine nature you will actually tap into a whole new world of feeling and reason.

Developing your relationship with your heart is a very profound practice. For the heart is your energetic center for Universal Love and higher wisdom. The sacred heart of Jesus is located in the center of the chest, to reflect this same reasoning, to help us access this and open this center of Love. The Indian energetic system of Chakras also outline the same belief.

Once you develop this relationship with your heart you will find yourself using your higher wisdom in decision making processes, in self expression and in your daily interaction with the world. You begin to not rely solely on your brain, on your mind and on logic as we conventionally know it. You will begin to hear the voice of intuition and your higher self whispering to you. You will develop a certain calmness and knowing that things are just they are.

The Practice: (I got this from Sahaj Marg - a Raja Yoga practice - www.srcm.org)
Get yourself onto a quite environment, where you will not be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable position, with your back straight. You could be sitting on a chair, on a stool or on the floor, it really does not matter. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down and close your eyes. Stay like that for a few moments and just sit. Notice your thoughts, just the nature of thoughts you are having, all the issues that keep coming up and just notice them, do not try to block them out. Allow them to flow through your mind.

Then begin to focus your mind on the "Presence of Divine Love or Grace in the Heart" you want to focus on the "Presence of …" try to Feel that presence of Divine Grace. The inner spirit of Love.

Keep this thought in your mind and direct your mind to seek its presence. Know that this Presence of Divine Love is already there and all you have to do is begin to be aware of it and "feel" it.

Stay in the space for a while - begin with just 15 minutes and extend that to 45 minutes to an hour.

Additional thoughts:
This is one piece of the equation to a holistic practice of a lifestyle of inner awareness. There are more practices that I think are essential, but this is a good start.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SRCM: Sahaj Marg Meditation

Sahaj Marg or Natural Path is a Meditation system based on Raja Yoga. It is a practice which is simplified and modified to adapt to man’s present life to achieve inner perfection. Yoga and Meditation are associated with Sahaj Marg. Sahaj Marg has no rituals or ceremonies. It is a simple and effective system of spiritual growth.

The main elements of this practice include:

  • Meditation – This focuses on the divine light of the heart. It works to help one to be free from mental and emotional burden.

  • Constant Remembrance – This will help us maintain our meditative state and use it as guide in our daily life.

  • Transmission – This will help us bring change in our life.
Anyone can practice Sahaj Marg. There are no rituals and ceremonies and there are few do’s and don’ts. In this system, it is believed that God is simple, thus, it is also simple to be in touch with Him. It does not distinguish anyone because of their difference in race, sex, status, and so on. Everyone can be a participant of this system.

Because practicing Sahaj Marg is very simple, you only need to do three things: meditate in the morning as you focus on the divine light of the heart. In Sahaj Marg, we meditate on which we choose to become. With our spiritual beliefs, we meditate with the presence of the Divine in the heart. After that, you will do cleansing at night. Everything that we learn from this practice leaves lasting impressions in our life. These help us from realizing the growth that we can get spiritually from this practice. Lastly, offer a night time prayer. Praying will help us deepen our connection with the Divine.

Of course, as everything around us can be transmitted to one another, one unique feature of Sahaj Marg is transmission. Transmission is defined as the utilization of divine energy for the transformation of a human being. The transmission helps remove past impressions which then help enable a person to grow without limitations. It can be directly received from the Master of Sahaj Marg or from preceptors. Preceptors are the ones tasked to introduce Sahaj Marg to other people by conducting Meditation sessions.


Sahaj Marg is a perfect way of relaxing your mind and enjoying the benefits of Meditation. Practicing this system can help you experience direct self-realization and live a better life.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

SRCM: The Living Tradition of Sahaj Marg

Sahaja Yoga: The Living Tradition of Sahaj Marg

The Raja Yoga system known as "Sahaj Marg" is still relatively obscure in the West, even among Yoga aficionados. This is largely due to the fact that Sahaj Marg has been a low-key, word-of-mouth practice. Works by the lineage of Sahaj Marg Masters, published under the auspices of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), are difficult to locate, and beyond the abhyasis or practitioners of Sahaj Marg, few are aware that SRCM centers have been established worldwide since the Mission was founded in India fifty years ago.

What is Sahaj Marg? There are no easy answers to this question, just as there are none for questions like "What is Zen?" or "What is Sufism?" Sahaj Marg (which may be translated as "Natural Path" or "Simple Way") has no surface and its habitat is Infinity; thus by definition Sahaj Marg resists definition. Given the hopelessness of description, then, we must remain content with classifying, comparing, and giving historical accounts. These are outer matters and have little to do with the essence of Sahaj Marg, for spiritual Sadhana is not only a "study" but also a "practice," and as such can be understood only through actual experiment.

Though its method may seem novel to some, those acquainted with the great Dharmic traditions will find Sahaj Marg a natural extension of the continuing refinement and accommodation that living yoga has always emphasized. Sahaj Marg is a practical method designed to give the direct experience of realization, right here, right now, in the midst of our daily situations. This has always been the heart of all spiritual traditions, as Vivekananda observed: "Religion consists in realization. We all know as a fact that nothing will satisfy us until we realize the Truth for ourselves. However much we may argue, however much we may hear, but one thing will satisfy us, and that is our own realization; and such an experience is possible for every one of us, if we will only try."

WHERE RELIGION ENDS

All religions begin with the experience of God, the realization of a single person such as Christ or Buddha or Mohammed. After the founders pass on, their followers codify their teachings, and if these teachings are deep and true and helpful enough to stand the test of time, eventually they crystallize into a religion. But the original experience of its founder remains the bedrock of each religion, and to the degree that his followers can partake of that experience themselves, the religion remains valid and transformative, rather than degenerating into a set of mechanical rituals or a dry body of moral rules and social expectations.

We should not denigrate religion, for religions are regulating systems for societies and the preparatory schools for spirituality. My Master is of the opinion that while it is a wonderful thing to be born into a religion, it is a tragedy to die in a religion. We must transcend mere belief and conformity, and experience the Truth of the scriptures for ourselves. My Master told me that Christ, for instance, to keep his experience alive and to pass the light along, had to transmit this experience to someone, a human being who then would be the temporary vehicle of the essence of his Master, until he in turn passed it on to the most fit of his own disciples, who would pass it on again, and so on, down through the ages. Whether Christ actually transmitted this to Peter we do not know, but the Catholic Church has at least recognized the necessity for a living Master and the reality of such transmission in the doctrines of apostolic succession and the office of the pope as vicar of Christ.

Sahaj Marg also affirms the necessity of a realized Master in human form to assist most people in their journey Home. A true Master comes to serve, not rule, for as my Master's own Master taught, "God is the real Guru or Master and we get light from Him alone. But as it is extremely difficult for a man of ordinary talents to draw inspiration from God directly, we seek the help of one of our fellow beings who has established his connection with the Almighty." In Sahaj Marg, "Master" simply refers to one who has mastered himself, and who has the ability to make Masters like himself. Thus, though the Masters of the Sahaj Marg lineage are each unique in terms of physique, personality, taste, and temperament, in their most essential Nature they are one and the same person.

TRADITION AND TRANSFORMATION

Sahaj Marg is usually presented as a refinement of Raja Yoga. Ultimately, however, it must be understood as a distillation of the yogas of Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti as well. As outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, these four primary yogas (there are dozens of other yogas in India and the West) are suited for varying natures. Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, is designed for those with strong devotional or emotional temperaments; Jnana Yoga, or the path of discriminating intelligence, is said to be the path for intellectuals and philosophers; Karma Yoga is for those with active natures who are inclined toward activity and service; and lastly, Raja Yoga (called the "King" of yogas, as it involves the mind or "king" of the body) uses an experiential approach through which the yogi directly realizes oneness with the Absolute.

The fallacy common to the Aristotelian Western mind is to separate these paths into four rigidly exclusive systems. The fact of experience is different, for at a certain level these four paths all intersect and blend: Jnana or knowledge pushed to its extreme becomes Bhakti or love, which at its fullness is wisdom; Karma Yoga in its highest form is but the expression of Jnana and Bhakti. The sincere practice of Raja Yoga very quickly dissolves into the other three, since only a fool would attempt this practice without a qualified guide, and soon the techniques of Raja Yoga are lost in the greater truth that is the love for the Master, a merger in Him which is expressed by the great dictum of the Bhaktas, the All-embracing Tat Tvam Asi, ("That art thou"), and propelled equally by the discriminating wisdom of negation expressed by the Jnana Yogis as Neti, Neti ("Not this, Not this").

These four yogas arrive at a place where all paths end and merge, which we may call whatever we please, since words don't matter at this point: the kingdom of God, the Source, the Center, or the Impersonal Absolute. This is why Vivekananda advised yogis to be like a bird, have Bhakti Yoga as one wing, Jnana Yoga as the other wing, and Raja Yoga as the guiding tailfeathers. We could extend his metaphor and imagine the manifestation of flying as Karma Yoga.

Sahaj Marg reminds us that yoga, and in particular Raja Yoga, is a not and never was a frozen practice, fixed at some point in the distant past and codified by Patanjali around the Second Century AD in his Yoga Sutras. Even the highest concepts and most honored methods must evolve as the situations of men change. Methods which were suitable for a bull-cart society may not be so suitable in the vastly different world of the late 20th Century. The Way to the living God is not a Procrustian bed that forces all to fit into its fossil methods or die trying. One of the reasons the Divine descends again and again in the form of Masters is to provide us with an approach that is more natural to our time and place, to enliven the great traditions and honor the spirit of the methods by bringing a flexible and workable revision to the letter of those traditions. After all, the purpose of any method is to bring men and women back to the Source from which they have come. A method has no value beyond that. Indeed, as Buddha taught, the method may be dispensed with once that goal is accomplished, just as the boat is left behind once the river has been crossed.

Those acquainted with Raja Yoga will be familiar with Patanjali's Eight Limbs, the Ashtanga steps of Raja Yoga. These have usually been viewed as steps leading to the final union of self with Self, of human with divine -- which is what the word yoga, or "yoke," implies. Whether Patanjali ever intended his "Eight Limbs" to be considered as sequential and consequential stages is debatable, but Sahaj Marg takes a simultaneous and global approach to the practice of Raja Yoga. A classic image of the practice of Raja Yoga is that of climbing the rungs of a ladder: First one works on Yama and Niyama (the moral and ethical limbs), then Asana (posture), then Pranayama (movement of energy through breath), then Pratyahara (withdrawal from senses), and then Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation) to culminate finally in Samadhi (absorption). An image more apt for the practice of Raja Yoga under Sahaj Marg might be that of a sphere expanding from its center, for Sahaj Marg begins at Patanjali's Seventh Limb, Dhyana or meditation, and allows the rest of the practice to grow naturally from this seed.

THE CIRCUMFERENCE IS NOWHERE

Contrary to some notions, Sahaj Marg teaches that meditation is easy and requires no preliminary steps for anyone who has a normal state of mental health -- in fact, Sahaj Marg teaches that only by meditating can we learn to meditate! The psychologically dangerous aspect of Pranayama has been superseded in Sahaj Marg by Pranahuti (prana-ahuti, literally "offering Prana"), by which an individual can transmit spiritual reality directly from the center of his or her existence to the center of another individual's existence.

Pranahuti should not be confused with the more familiar spiritual transmission known as Shaktipat. Pranahuti is an extremely subtle transmission, described as a "forceless force" or "powerless power," and is devoid of all qualities, including even the Shakti (power) that informs Shaktipata. Nor is Pranahuti equivalent to what is termed Diksha, since Pranahuti does not confer or connote initiation by the Guru. In short, it is the utilization of Divine energy for the transformation and evolution of human beings into Divine beings. Pranahuti is a very gentle process and is imperceptible to all but the most sensitive recipients, although anyone can sense its effects as they gradually unfold over time. As my Master told me, normally we do not feel Pranahuti; we feel only its results.

The yogic transmission of subtle or Divine energy by one whose own life-force, or Prana, is realized at such a high vibratory level that it can awaken the dormant Prana in others across any distance by the merest thought or Sankalpa was known to adepts in the distant past, but had fallen into a sort of honored disuetude until it was re- discovered as a useful technique for 20th Century by Shri Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh (1873-1931). Lalaji, as he is affectionately known, is said to have attained realization of the Absolute in a period of just seven months, to have had no Master, and no former incarnation. Lalaji remains a mystery; he was known only to a few in Uttar Pradesh, but was beloved by both Sufis and Hindus.

The art of Pranahuti was transmitted by Lalaji to his most fit disciple, who by coincidence also bore the name Ram Chandra. This disciple, now known as Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur (or more simply as Babuji, since he worked all his life as a "babu," or clerk) perfected the practices of Sahaj Marg, distilling a natural and simple method of meditation from the traditional procedures of Raja Yoga, established the Shri Ram Chandra Mission in 1945 in honor of his guru, and upon his death or Mahasamadhi in 1983 transmitted his essence to his disciple, Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari.

Chariji (b. 1927) now embodies the Master and carries on the work of Shri Ram Chandra Mission. Like the other Masters of his lineage, Chariji is a family man and had worked all his life in an ordinary job until his retirement a few years ago. The usefulness of ordinary life is emphasized not only in the philosophy of the practice, but has been demonstrated practically by the Masters of Sahaj Marg.

Ordinary life is the accepted arena of spiritual practice under Sahaj Marg. As a bird needs two wings to fly, so a human being needs two wings of existence, the spiritual and the material. If either is neglected for the other, life becomes exaggerated and unnatural. Neglect of the material existence results in dependence, and neglect of the spiritual results in a fundamental unhappiness. To realize complete perfection, we must balance both sides of our lives, and treat everything that comes our way as part of our spiritual Sadhana or practice. Sahaj Marg emphasizes that realization is for everyone, not just for sannyasins, lamas, monks, or nuns. Indeed, family life in one's own home is an ideal ashram for learning sacrifice and love. Sahaj Marg flatly rejects the romantic notion that to realize God or Self we must renounce society and adopt arduous practices. God dwells not in the Himalayas, Babuji used to say, but in the human heart.

THE CENTER IS EVERYWHERE

Sahaj Marg insists that the highest spiritual attainments can be realized by anyone at any time in any place. In recognition of this understanding, Pranahuti or yogic transmission can be received not only directly from the Master, who is an adept in the art, but also via preceptors who have been personally prepared by the Master to serve as conductors of Pranahuti. Over 900 preceptors now serve worldwide. These preceptors can be likened to transformers in neighborhoods that direct and regulate the energy from a distant power plant for indivi- dual use. Preceptors are themselves abhyasis (practitioners) who are still evolving at varying levels of spiritual maturity. It's entirely possible for a preceptor to give a sitting to someone who is at a much higher stage than the preceptor himself. The term "sitting" is used in Sahaj Marg to describe a meditation in which the Master or a preceptor meditates in the presence of a group or with an individual to clean the subtle body and transmit Prana. This is normally done while sitting face to face -- or more precisely, heart to heart.

Those who have attempted to establish themselves independently in a longterm daily rhythm of meditation may appreciate Babuji's observation: "Serious difficulties arise when meditation is practiced independently in accordance with methods prescribed in books. One has to keep on struggling with the mind in order to suppress its unceasing activities. This continues all the time and there is practically no meditation at all, since all the time given to meditation is lost in struggling against thoughts and tendencies. What Pranahuti does for the spiritual uplift of a person and removal of complexities in a short time, independent efforts cannot achieve even in a full decade." In Sahaj Marg, this "removal of complexities" is called, simply enough, "cleaning." The habits, tendencies, and hardened impressions (Samskaras) which defeat our efforts toward realization are gently yet thoroughly removed. The effectiveness of subtle cleaning cannot be understood until it is experienced.

THE SIMPLE WAY

What, then, does one actually do in Sahaj Marg? According to the teachings of Sahaj Marg, God is simple, and the Way to God may also be simple. Thus there are no rituals in Sahaj Marg. Do's and don'ts are few. There are no secret mantras or mudras, no arcane Asanas, no special clothes, no changing of names. Really, there is nothing about Sahaj Marg to believe or disbelieve, because the practice involves direct experience. Sahaj Marg asks us not to believe, but to observe; not to trust, but to test. Anyone over 18 years of age who is willing to give a sincere effort is invited to do so. One can begin the practice by contacting a preceptor for the introductory sittings. No fee or "love offering" is asked for these or any other sittings from a preceptor. Sahaj Marg teaches that spirituality cannot be sold any more than the sky can be sold, for no one owns it.

The daily abhyas or practices are quite simple. The abhyasi is asked to sit comfortably and meditate at the beginning of the day for at least 30 minutes, eventually for an hour if possible, focusing on the heart (a preceptor can detail the method). At the end of the day, sit again for at least 30 minutes, but this time, the purpose is for cleaning, and again the technique is quite simple. Weekly Satsanghs or group meditations are helpful, along with individual sittings from preceptors. Abhyasis are encouraged to keep a diary of their inner life, and most soon notice a feeling of Shanti or peace, a sense of lightness, and an awakened intuitive ability. Though these experiences are not uniform, they are common in the beginning, and many other experiences and conditions will follow. Sahaj Marg recognizes a plexus of subtle Granthis or knots beyond the traditional Chakra system of Kundalini and other yogas, and abhyasis during their practice make the Yatra or voyage through various spiritual regions as they approach the Center. At various stages obstacles are encountered, sensations occur, and visions or dreams may be seen, but with the guidance of the Master the abhyasi will not be distracted and can move on toward Reality.

So the basic practice takes about one or two hours a day -- we begin our day with meditation, end it with another, and enter sleep in a state of prayer. By an art called "Constant Remembrance" the abhyasi can eventually extend these meditations to 24 hours a day. Curiously enough, many find that the simplicity of the practice is its major difficulty, especially since Sahaj Marg claims to aim for a level of human perfection beyond that which even Patanjali described. This claim can be easily tested, for Sahaj Marg was designed so that even the busiest person could integrate a profoundly transformative spiritual practice into his or her daily life.