Monday, March 14, 2016

What is Sahaj Marg

"Behind the drop the sea extends, the sea supports the drop.
To make the drop realize the ocean is all the Reality." 
Shri Ram Chandraji of Fatehgarh

Sahaj Marg is a simple and natural method of spiritual training that enables the practitioner to efficiently reach profound depths of meditation and achieve a total spiritual transformation. The practice evolved in the early 20th century in North India, and its philosophy is influenced by the rich and deep eastern spiritual traditions of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga, the Vedas and Sufi mysticism. Sahaj Marg translates to ‘Natural Path,’ as it was designed to allow the practitioner to live a natural life without the need for renunciation of the world and family. The ultimate goal of the practice is the merging of our individual consciousness with the divine consciousness. Although the method is simple, the practice allows the seeker to attain this pinnacle of spiritual achievements while maintaining a balanced material life. The Sahaj Marg philosophy states that family life is an ideal training ground for developing love and tolerance. From its origins in India, the method has spread throughout the world and is available free of charge to people from all walks of life; the only requirement is a willingness to participate with an attitude of openness and wonder.

The key elements of the practice include a morning heartfulness meditation that focuses on the divine light in our heart, an evening cleaning that allows a ‘letting go’ of the daily complexities, and a bedtime prayer that refocuses our attention on the divine before we drift off into sleep. The practitioner is also encouraged to maintain a journal of their spiritual journey and to attempt to remain in remembrance of the divine presence within their heart throughout the day. Preceptors (meditation trainers) are available for individual and group weekly meditation sessions. The unique aspect of the practice is a phenomenon known as pranahuti, or yogic transmission. Pranahuti is the utilization of divine energy for the transformation of the human being. As sound and energy can be transmitted, spiritual essence can also be transmitted. Through pranahuti (prana, or life force, and ahuti, or offering) this spiritual essence is offered to the seeker. This transmission may not be felt by everyone in the initial meditation, but most seekers feel the effects of transmission within 3 months of sincere practice.

The phenomenon of transmission is an ancient yogic discovery that had been passed down for centuries through various spiritual traditions but eventually passed into oblivion. In the late 1800’s, Shri Ram Chandraji of Fatehgarh (Lalaji), a precocious spiritual genius who studied and researched extensively on creating effective spiritual training, rediscovered this ancient art, and his research laid the foundation for the Sahaj Marg practice. But given the limitations in transportation and communication in that time period, this method was restricted to a small geographic area surrounding his home town of Fatehgarh. One of Lalaji’s most capable disciples was Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjanhanpur (Babuji), who dedicated his life to spreading the teaching of his Guru. In 1945, Babuji, in honor of his Guru, established the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), a non-profit organization created for the purpose of offering the Sahaj Marg method of spiritual training free of charge to interested individuals from all walks of life. Babuji established a network of meditation trainers (preceptors) who were given the capacity to impart spiritual training through pranahuti. In 1983, Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (Chariji) was appointed the spiritual successor of SRCM by Babuji. Chariji prodigiously spread the SRCM infrastructure throughout the world by building ashrams, traveling extensively to assist practitioners in their journey, and developing a larger base of preceptors so that seekers throughout the world would have access to Sahaj Marg. Chariji appointed Kamlesh D. Patel to be his spiritual successor, and since December 2014 Kamleshji has been carrying on the work as the Spiritual Representative and President of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission. Kamleshji has started a Heartfulness meditation initiative, which makes the Sahaj Marg method of spiritual training more open, accessible, and available to all spiritual seekers.

Practitioners of Sahaj Marg also note several other practical appealing elements of the practice. Sahaj Marg allows this complete spiritual transformation to occur while living a balanced material life. It does not ask for any austerities or renunciation. Seekers do not have to shave their head, wear a robe, practice celibacy, renounce material possessions, or live a monastic life. Practitioners come from all strata of society; they are mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. They work and maintain a family life while still actively pursuing a spiritual goal. The spiritual journey complements their material life rather than becoming a hindrance to material progress. Practitioners often claim that they notice that both their material and spiritual lives are blossoming.

Another appealing aspect of the practice is the absence of dogma; for example, there are no obstinate rules on the type of diet or lifestyle one should adopt. Instead of having a laundry list of do not’s (do not do this, do not do that), Sahaj Marg gently encourages several do’s (do meditation, do think of divinity, do journal about your spiritual progress). With this fundamental shift in approach, Sahaj Marg creates a culture of love and tolerance rather than that of guilt and fear. This culture fosters an atmosphere of acceptance where practitioners can cultivate change at their own pace. As seekers deepen their practice, they note negative habits and tendencies that are unsupportive of spiritual growth naturally fall away. Also, a recurring theme among seasoned practitioners is the profound positive changes in character, temperament, and confidence that they experience; changes which occur in a natural and organic manner without any external pressures. These changes resonate with the deeper changes that occur in the inner canvas of the seeker as various spiritual energy centers are awakened.

In the history of spiritual and faith traditions, Sahaj Marg is relatively new. Its founders felt that there should be a natural way towards divine consciousness. They wanted to create a system devoid of superfluous rituals and unyielding dogmas. Sahaj Marg offers a dynamic practice, offering encouragement and guidance for seekers to advance at their own pace. Preceptors are available throughout the world to assist new seekers on their journey. Practitioners are able to live a fulfilling, balanced life as they progress speedily in the material and spiritual aspects of life.
Sahaj Marg has removed the guilt and fear in the search for God and filled it with love, hope and wonder. In essence, Sahaj Marg put the spirit back into spirituality.

"All knowledge, all powers, everything is within. Your destiny is within, your future is within, the ultimate is within." - Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari 

Radheshyam Miryala MD

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