For the past three days we have been having interviews with abhyasis.
Francois will confirm that wherever the interviews were delayed, the people
came back and said they had already found the answer in meditation, or
from inside. I mean, there were so many cases yesterday, today, day before
yesterday. So the real source of the answer is here inside us. What makes
us ask questions and suffer until we get an answer is our impatience. So
the basic problem about these questions is our urgency as we conc eive
it, you see. I have a question now, I must have an answer now, and I refuse
to wait. So this is the problem, and if we are wise you know the old English
saying, Sleep over it! The answer comes. So, don't unnecessarily be worried
about these quest ions; most of them have no relevance to our existence.
We must remember that human beings have lived for hundreds of thousands
of years, and for most of that time nobody asked any questions. They just
This business of questions and answers is a phenomenon of the intellect.
A typical modern disease, because we don't know even what questions to
ask sometimes. Because there are vital questions and there are irrelevant
questions. What is a vital questi on? Well, if you take a primitive society
when a man had to kill something to eat, the vital question was where to
find the animal and how to shoot it or kill it, not about how the animals
came and, you know, Genesis. I think that old saying that "Satan finds
mischief for idle hands to do," can be rephrased for modern times,
"Satan finds questions for idle minds to ask"! Because when we
are fully occupied we have no questions. It's a fact. We all know it. Very
often I have found, in the time of my Master and now, it is the people
who don't meditate who want to know how to meditate. It is the people who
don't clean themselves who are worried about blockages and grossness.
So the true answer to our questions is not answers, but doing. How to cook:
suppose your daughter asks how to cook. You don't give a lecture on how
to light the fire and put the vessel on the fire and put water into it
and pour barley into it; you do it and show her how to do it. So practical
questions can be answered by doing things for you and showing how it is
to be done.
That is what the Master does. He delays the answer, gives you the time
to meditate, does a little cleaning and removes the question from your
mind. It is not that you find an answer - that is not quite correct. The
question ceases to interest us. Very often people come and say, Oh, I found
the answer this morning in meditation. It is my experience that the answer
was a change in the abhyasi's condition. This is what you have all found
when you were with Babuji Maharaj; that we went with volumes and volumes
of questions to ask, and when we went into his presence we forgot all the
questions. Most of us didn't remember to ask any questions until we came
back, then we said, Oh, I had so many questions to ask, but I didn't ask
any of them!
Now, why didn't we ask those questions? Because when we were there, in
the presence of the Master, it was like wet cloth drying before the sun
- the questions evaporated. Our condition was changed, and it is like the
cloth which says, "Oh, how did I be come dry? I just came to become
dry, and I became dry." This is the problem with questions, you see,
that they come from the intellect and trouble us because we seek understanding
rather than results. What is the use of a sick person understanding his
disease? What he wants is a cure. You know, often you find troublesome
patients in doctors' clinics. They not only want to be cured, but they
want to know all the answers. They waste the doctor's time.
So we must make sure that we get what we need, not what we ask for. Not
because we have no right to ask for, but because we don't know what to
ask for. So Babuji always used to say, "Please ask only practical
He was always amused when people came to him and asked, "Does God
exist?" He said, "What a funny question these people ask."
Because philosophy also says, if it was not existing, you couldn't ask
of a thing whether it exists or not. The fact that you can ask the question,
"Does God exist?" proves that God exists.
So Master used to advise: "Don't waste your time asking foolish questions,
try to realize His presence." That is why he was against the phrase
"searching for God." Because you can, only search for something
you have lost. God cannot ever be lost. God is not something like that.
We may have lost Him, you see, in the sense that we have become isolated
in our consciousness, and are suffering because of that isolation. It is
like a man shutting himself up in a room and saying, "There is no
air, there i s no air!" Open the windows!
So all that we need to get answers to our questions is to open the windows
of our soul, you see, and receive, not answers, but grace. So please remember
this for the future regarding questions.
The second thing is, in the last two days I have had a host of people coming
to me with the complaint that there is a blockage in their heart. Now there
is one thing we must understand. There cannot possibly be anything inside
me which some outer or ex ternal agency has put inside. We must have done
it ourselves. Now, if it is not a physical thing, like bad food or bad
water, it must be mental. So most of these blocks that we feel are mental
blocks. So we have to clean and remove it. Then they say, "Oh, it
is so bad, I am not able to even meditate." It is as if ... what shall
I say ... as tragic, as comic, as a sick man saying, "I am too sick
to take medicine." It has got to be done. And very often people come
and say, "Oh, you know, I haven't been able to meditate for one year,
and I have no results." This is an even bigger contradiction, that
we expect results without doing anything. I mean, these are all the experiences
of the last two, three days, and it is causing me much, what should I say,
sorrow. That abhyasis don't meditate for two years, and then complain that
they have no results!
When you ask them why they don't meditate, they say they feel blocked.
How did this block come? "Maybe I did something wrong." Are you
continuing to do it wrong now? "Yes, unfortunately." (laughter)
Why do you continue to do it? "Because I am not meditating."
You see it goes round and round in circles. So what should we do about
these things? After all, we are asked to meditate a maximum of one hour
in the morning; 30 minutes cleaning in the evening and 10 minutes prayer
at night. We don't have the time fo r this. Or we don't have the inclination
for it. One abhyasi came and told me that every time he wanted to meditate
he found something else to do! Now, how is it possible to find something
else to do, when you have something to do already? It only mea ns the mind
is not on meditation. So the only remedy was to advise him, "Please
So you see how ridiculous this situation is, that we create all these problems
by misunderstanding, by misapplication of the will. Because there is one
thing which Babuji always used to emphasize: that if you have the willpower
to apply at all, to anyth ing, it must be applicable to anything that you
want to do. So if you cannot do one thing and can do another thing with
the same willpower, it only means that you want to do one thing while you
don't want to do the other. The will power is not lacking a nd is not to
So you see, essentially the inability to meditate is not really an inability
to meditate, but an unwillingness to meditate. Babuji has told so many
abhyasis in my presence, "If my meditating for you could benefit,
I would do the meditation also for you gladly." But it is as silly
as saying, "If I could eat for you, I would eat for you." You
must eat. So please try to understand this: that whenever we say we can't
meditate, we don't want to meditate. Because there is nothing in nature
which can oppos e a determined will. And what is necessary is to reassign
our priorities, and do the meditation. If you do this, you will find there
are no more questions, the path to the goal becomes smooth and progress
The second thing about questions I have also referred to in the past is
that they are generally desire-based. So whichever way you look at it,
a question has no meaning. That is why we try to avoid answering questions
immediately. And intellectual answ ers have no relevance to our life. I
remember Babuji once answered a young man who asked him the question "Does
God exist?" Babuji asked him, "Suppose I say, Yes. Will you accept
it?" Then I said, "Why do you ask him this question?" He
told me, "This boy must have asked this question of a hundred people
already. And whether I say, 'Yes, God exists,' or 'No, God does not exist,'
it conveys nothing to him." So you see the fact that a question is
answered need not convey anything to us automatically.
One man came to me, who was a troublesome prospective abhyasi, very argumentative.
He asked me a question. He said, "Are you a fool?"
I said, "Yes, of course I am." (laughter)
Then he said, "How can you answer like this?"
I said, "When you ask me a question, I answer the truth."
He said, "No, no, but you are in this position in which your Master
has placed you, how can you give such an answer?"
I then asked him, "What answer did you expect?"
He said, "I thought you would say, 'No, I am wise' and I would have
said, 'You are a damn fool.'"
So I told him, "I have saved you that trouble." You know, the
surprising thing was that he was so impressed he became an abhyasi. So
what was it that impressed him? What was it that impressed him with the
answer? A twist of the intellect, that's all.
Why I am giving this example is to show you another facet of human behavior.
The questioner is not necessarily impressed with the answer. They are generally
impressed with the way in which it is answered. That is why if somebody
asks, "Does God exist? " and you say, "Yes," he gets
up and goes away. But if you sit for three hours and talk of Kant and Schopenhauer
and Nietzsche and all this nonsense, without answering his question, he
is very impressed. So they don't want answers, they are really testi ng
A Master has a right to refuse to have his knowledge tested. Or at least
you should be capable of testing it in the right way. So I think generally
these Masters like my Master, Babuji, or Lalaji - it is not that they don't
want to answer our questions . They are waiting for the right question
to come, which will really prove to them that here is a man who can test
my knowledge, test my capacity, test my spiritual approach. And then they
will probably hug us and accept us.
It is said, "Know a man by the questions he asks." That is why
Babuji used to be disgusted with people who asked very lewd questions,
low questions, you know, at the lowest level of existence - questions about
sex and this and that. He was disgusted no t because he was a prude, or
because the subject is dirty. He was sad that a human being who should
think of something high is thinking of something so low. That you should
go to a Master and ask such questions this was his sadness. I know many
people misunderstood it and said, "Aha, these Hindus, you know, they
have a closed mind about sex." It is stupid. I have said, I think
in another context in another place, that if you want to really know about
sex, go to a Hindu. The Europeans don't know even the first thing about
it yet. I mean, the Hindus have written books thousands of years ago about
sex which haven't been discovered here yet. So it was not prudery. It was
not any sort of unwillingness to talk about this subject. It was sorrow.
It would have been like going to Einstein, for instance, and saying, What
is two plus three equal to? Or going to God and asking for a packet of
So that was my Master's sorrow; not unwillingness to answer questions or
to be asked questions, but the tragedy of his own existence in that here
is a storehouse of divinity, and people come with nothing more than the
interest like rats have to nibble at a piece of cheese. Of course, I don't
suppose that tragedy can be easily removed. Because they (people like the
Masters) are from such a high descent it would not be, perhaps, possible
to find any single questioner who could ask them the question that they
are waiting for. So that is why I have referred to a Master's life as a
tragic life in this sense. Those of you who are parents know how delighted
you are when your child asks an intelligent question. Why are you delighted?
And why are you annoyed when the child asks a stupid question? It is the
same thing that happens to the Master. We are all his children and he expects
at least once in a way an intelligent question from us. But, unfortunately,
such masters are doomed to disappointment, I think most of the time. Even
Einstein has said that it's not necessary to know the right answers, but
it is necessary to know the right questions.
So if you want something from the Master, know what to ask for. And I will
assure you it is one of the most difficult things on earth, because it
is not a matter of knowledge, it is not a matter of search, of the intellect,
of race or consciousness or a nything like that. It is a question of the
yearning of the heart. When that yearning is there, you know what to ask
the Master. Not what I want, what I want to change, how to get rid of my
headache, how to get this done, whether I should move my house or not.
But such a person would go straight to the Master and say, "Master,
I have one thing to ask of you."
And the Master may say, "Yes, what is it?"
And this man should be able to say, "I want you."
That is the only thing.
What does "Sahaj Marg" mean? What
is Sahaj Marg?
The Sanskrit sahaj may be translated as "natural," "simple,"
or "spontaneous" and marg or marga means "way" or "path."
Sahaj Marg means the "Natural Path," or "Simple Way."
Sahaj Marg is a way of life designed to give the direct experience of Realization
in the midst of daily life. Sahaj Marg emphasizes that Realization is for
everyone, not just for monks or nuns. Indeed, family life in one's own
home is an excellent mean s of learning real lessons about sacrifice and
love. Sahaj Marg suggests that the highest spiritual attainments can be
realized by anyone at any time in any place and does not accept the romantic
notion that to realize God or Self we must renounce societ y or adopt arduous
practices. Divinity dwells not in the Himalayas, but in the human heart.
Sahaj Marg says that God is simple, and may be approached by simple means.
What is the goal of Sahaj Marg practice?
We respectfully submit that the goal of Sahaj Marg is the goal
of human life.
This Goal has been given many different names by the great spiritual traditions,
yet it does not matter what words we use to refer to the one Goal they
all share. Whether we choose to call it "enlightenment," or "moksha,"
or "becoming one with God," we are finally attempting to describe
the indescribable, a stage far beyond the limits of any language.
The actual possibility of becoming one with God or Self is thought to be
the highest imaginable attainment for any human being, and with God's grace,
it is actually attainable by all His children. Whether we realize it consciously
or not, all of us have taken human birth so that we might realize and express
our Original Nature, which is Divine. There is no purpose for human life
beyond this. In Sahaj Marg the means toward this end is meditation, which
regulates the mind, and cleaning, which removes the past impressions and
clears the hurdles in the path, made possible by the indispensable divine
grace which the spiritual guide or Master pours into the heart of the practitioner
through pranahuti or transmission.
Why must there be a "goal" for a spiritual
practice? The Buddhists say that the yearning for enlightenment is itself
a bar to enlightenment, and didn't even Lord Krishna say in the Gita that
we should act, but take no thought for the fruit or reward of that action?
This is correct. In Sahaj Marg, we do not think of the Goal as
some kind of external reward to be achieved, or faraway destination to
be attained, or boon to be awarded by some Guru to those who have met a
set of conditions or passed a test. Desiring a "goal" or some
"other" state of being in this way is indeed a mistaken idea
for any spiritual aspirant, and as the second line of the Mission Prayer
indicates, ironically misses the whole point of the practice of Sahaj Marg.
Nonetheless, we do practice, just as Buddhists and Karma Yogis do. The
State or Goal we approach is within, and has always been with us - it is
none other than our own Original Nature. It might be said that practice
is not for attaining something we do not already possess, but for removing
that which blocks our realization of the Original Condition which we have
forgotten, but which has always been ours. But mere intellectual appreciation
of this goal-less Goal is nothing like the full Realization of it to the
depths of our being; it is the difference between, say, holding a blueprint
of an ancient and vanished palace and living as a king in that palace.
Thus, we practice.
And our practice simply makes us more adept at journeying. The difference
between one who practices and one who does not is like the difference between
a traveler and a lost person. The first has an idea of where he or she
is going, and the best way to go; the latter is aimlessly wandering and,
beyond a vague misgiving, may not even realize he or she is lost.
Finally, Sahaj Marg understands that this ultimate Goal has the nature
of Infinity, and really speaking there is never any "reaching"
of such a Goal. Even Lalaji, the Samarth Guru Mahatma Ram Chandraji of
Fatehgarh, is said to be still "swimming toward the Center."
As Lalaji expressed the View from the pinnacle of superconsciousness: "The
search for God and Soul...is imbecility. This fantasy is cured by another
fantasy who is Guru."
But isn't going to Heaven or liberation from
rebirth the goal of human life?
As for going to Heaven when we die, this is a matter for religion to
debate. Sahaj Marg takes the view of Christ, that the kingdom of God is
within. Union with God is far beyond popular notions of heavens and celestial
paradises, and as the Lord's Prayer of Christianity hints, when the Father's
will is done, this union may as possible on earth as it is in Heaven.
Though some may find this surprising, Sahaj Marg considers liberation from
rebirth to be a rather low attainment in the spectrum of human possibility.
But how does the idea of Grace play into all
this? Do we attain by our "own effort" or by "other effort"?
Both are necessary. You cannot be given a Gift if you refuse to
open your hand, and you cannot receive Grace if you refuse to open your
heart. All we can do is open the door of our hearts to the Lord, our own
Self, whom our ego has kicked out and who now must stand outside knocking
on that closed door, closed heart, closed hand, and closed mind. We open
and then we wait. Grace will be wasted if it is poured into an unprepared
heart, just as milk would be wasted if it were poured into a vessel that
had been used to hold gasoline. So some work, some cleaning, is necessary.
We prepare our hearts to receive the Lord as we would clean our homes to
receive a guest. If you have your back to the sun, Babuji used to say,
all you need to do is turn around.
Yet Grace by definition can never be earned; even our tears and love and
repentance cannot buy us Grace. Characteristically, Babuji clarified this
ancient paradox of Work-versus-Grace with direct simplicity: "Liberation
is to reveal oneself before God.
Realization is when God reveals himself. Liberation can be attained by
doing abhyas. Realization He may give or not; it is His prerogative."
How long does it take for one to achieve this Realization?
Realization takes an eternity and comes in an instant. It is, as Babuji
hinted, a matter of Divine Grace. Though a capable Master could bring someone
to the highest level in a matter of days by the force of his full transmission,
such an act is forbidden, since it would destroy the physical body of the
unprepared recipient. So the gradual practice or sadhana takes place gently
and naturally for most over a period of months and years. It is like birth,
which happens in an instant, but only after a time of gestation. Premature
elevation in spirituality for an abhyasi is as undesirable and dangerous
as is premature birth for a fetus.
But when the time is ripe, Grace descends and Realization occurs, as Lalaji
said, "in less time than it takes for a tear to come from the eye."
Or as Babuji once remarked, "It is only a matter of turning one's
head from one side to another." Lalaji is said to have reached this
moment after only seven months of practice, yet for Babuji, the sadhana
continued for 22 years. The length of time is irrelevant, given the ultimate
attainment. Time as we understand it has no relevance in the path of Realization.
Are other motives acceptable in practicing Sahaj Marg? For example, will
it cure my physical illnesses? Will it help me with depression? Will it
have a positive effect on my career and earning potential? I'm not sure
about this "Self-Realization" stuff; I just want peace and relaxation.
Is this acceptable?
It is fine to begin practice with all sorts of hopes, goals, and expectations
other than the ultimate Goal just discussed. In time, as we evolve in our
spiritual practice, our ideas of what is desirable will also evolve. Lesser
goals drop away as we become aware of the real goal of our lives. Eventually
as we advance we will develop the focus and single-pointedness of mind
essential to success in this highest of all human quests, and will begin
to understand why our Masters consider the things normally prized by spiritual
beginners (peace of mind, wealth, health, worldly power, and so on) to
be mere toys compared to the realms possible to the human spirit.
It is a fact that many who have begun Sahaj Marg practice have experienced
relief from physical and emotional distress, often in ways they consider
"miraculous." Such testimonies abound among Sahaj Marg abhyasis,
but they are rarely mentioned in public since it could generate a craze
of seekers after miracles or corporeal changes which have little to do
with Realization. Such blessings are given by Master to an abhyasi only
if they are needed for his or her spiritual growth.
Sahaj Marg is a way of life guided by an inner spiritual purpose. A spiritual
practice must give one the ability to face whatever life may present with
clarity and equanimity. Thus it often happens that an abhyasi may begin
Sahaj Marg only to find that all sorts of difficulties, physical and financial,
begin to appear in his life! Worldly difficulties become "divine blessings"
as we learn how they can help us in our spiritual goal. Lalaji used to
say that three things were necessary in the making of a saint: a little
financial difficulty, a little criticism, and a bit of ill health. Such
difficulties remind us of the pain of desiring what is impermanent; they
cure us of complacency and delusion; they spur us on toward the Real. As
Lalaji said, "Afflictions are boons from God. There are many secrets
in them." We have only to look to the examples of Lalaji, Babuji,
and Chariji to find that even Masters are not exempt from the pains and
difficulties of human life.
So while we might begin the practice of Sahaj Marg for other reasons, the
sooner we come to appreciate and accept the only real Goal we have been
born to realize, the less time we will waste. Meanwhile, our Master, the
very embodiment and demonstration of the goal of Sahaj Marg, will patiently
wait for us to cease tarrying with diversions and distractions and pursuing
impermanent and useless fantasies, to have done with lesser things and
seek what is Real.
How can we tell if we are progressing toward
Chariji has said that a growing lightness of mind and spirit is
the surest test of spiritual progress. No one has said that the journey
is without difficulty. Along the way we experience doubts and pain, and
it is the not unusual for most of us to feel like quitting the practice
a hundred times as we move toward this Goal. This is why a Master's help
is so welcome and so necessary. He is there to guide us past the difficulties
we create for ourselves, and to show us that our Goal is not far, but near.
How does Sahaj Marg compare with other systems?
It does not. It is against etiquette to rate or compare different
traditions, religions, and methods. Sahaj Marg makes no claims other than
it is an effective path, simple and direct, that can be tested by anyone
willing to try it. Sahaj Marg cannot testify for the efficacy of other
I am a Christian. Does this mean I am converting?
Should I stop going to church? Can't one be Christian or Hindu or Buddhist
and also be an abhyasi? Must I give up my religion?
Taking up the practice of Sahaj Marg does not mean we are converting
from one religion into another. Sahaj Marg does not require any of us to
give up the external trappings of our religion. We may keep whatever is
essential and necessary for our journey. Abhyasis around the world have
come to Sahaj Marg from many different cultures and religions. The process
of finding a connection with Divinity is internalized in Sahaj Marg, and
we should not become afraid if after some time we find that desires to
resort to external forms of worship or ritual begin to drop off. What is
Real will remain Real, and the essence of our religion will always remain
with us. As Babuji said, "Where religion ends, spirituality begins."
I am an atheist. Must I believe in God to practice?
What does Sahaj Marg say about reincarnation? Is it necessary to believe
in reincarnation to do this practice?
The practice of Sahaj Marg does not require a belief in God, nor
does Sahaj Marg require a belief in reincarnation, since the focus of our
sadhana is on this life, on the here-and-now.
In fact, Sahaj Marg has no credos, no dogma, no tenets. Sahaj Marg is experimental
and experiential in its approach, and so abhyasis are asked not to simply
believe what we hear or read, but to observe what we discover within; not
to trust the claims of Sahaj Marg, but to test them as thoroughly as we
can. Practice is something we do, not something we ponder. Until we realize
for ourselves, all the claims of any spiritual practice are only secondhand
information - even the testimony of the Master. Again and again, Babuji
urged people who came to him to actually see for themselves: "Read
and enjoy," he would say. "Do and become!"
What is the relation between Sahaj Marg and Raja
Sahaj Marg is Raja Yoga distilled and simplified. Those acquainted
with Patanjali's Yoga Sutras will be familiar with his classical Ashtanga,
or Eight-Limbed, approach to Raja Yoga. The eight steps are yama and niyama
(the moral and ethical limbs), asana (posture), pranayama (movement of
energy through breath), pratyahara (withdrawal from senses), dharana (concentration),
dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). These have often been viewed
as sequential and consequential stages of development, rather like climbing
the rungs of a ladder.
Whether Patanjali ever intended this is debatable, but Sahaj Marg takes
a simultaneous and global approach to the practice of Raja Yoga and begins
directly with dhyana or meditation, the so-called Seventh Limb. Contrary
to some notions, Sahaj Marg says that meditation is simple, and points
out the obvious: the only way we can ever learn to meditate is to start
meditating! The tree of Raja Yoga with all its limbs can grow naturally
from this seed. So the image of the ladder of steps does not fit the practice
of Sahaj Marg, which is more like a sphere expanding from its center, the
heart of the Light realized in meditation.
What about Karma or Bhakti or Jnana Yoga?
Though Sahaj Marg is usually presented as a refinement of Raja
Yoga, it must be understood as a synthesis of the other primary yogas as
well. As outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, the four essential yogas are Karma
Yoga (work and service), Jnana Yoga (discrimination and wisdom), Bhakti
Yoga (supreme and dissolving adoration, love, and devotion), and Raja Yoga
(the so-called "yoga of the king," as it involves the mind or
"king" of all senses and the direct, experiential perception
of the Absolute). Experience proves that the four yogas are not rigidly
exclusive, but that after a certain level they intersect and blend, and
ultimately arrive at a state where all paths end and such distinctions
are of no consequence.
What about Hatha or Vinyasa Yoga?
Currently popular, Vinyasa is one the many schools of Hatha Yoga,
which is by far the most well-known form of yoga in the West. Hatha Yoga
focuses on breath and body postures or asanas. It is fine for physical
well-being, but for approaching the spiritual depths, across the centuries,
the great yogins have considered Raja Yoga as the most direct path.
It is only natural for the Sahaj Marg abhyasi to respect and care for his
or her body, to get proper rest and nourishment and exercise. But we should
not become obsessed or fixated on the body, which, after all, is not permanent.
No matter how flexible it becomes or what remarkable feats it can be trained
to accomplish, the body is finally fated to die and drop away. For sensible
physical exercise, an abhyasi may do whatever is helpful - walking, jogging,
swimming, or whatever - as long as these activities do not take time from
the spiritual practice. Doing Tai Chi or Hatha Yoga for the purpose of
physical well-being may be harmless, but since these practices often go
beyond simple exercise, the abhyasi should always be cautious about mixing
energies. "When in doubt," as Master likes to say, "don't."
What about Nada or Taraka Yoga, Kriya Yoga, and
Tantric or Kundalini Yoga?
There are dozens of yogas in the East and the West, and if you
feel attracted to these forms, you should go to a proper teacher of that
tradition. Some abhyasis do have experience of the inner sound or shabda
of nada-yoga, the various light-visions (lakshya) common to taraka-yoga.
Though kundalini may be awakened in Sahaj Marg practice if Master deems
this to be necessary for an abhyasi's appointed work, kundalini as such
involves power and has nothing to do with spiritual realization.
I am already practicing some meditation; why can't
I just do both Sahaj Marg and another practice?
Just as it is unwise to mix and take different prescriptions from
two or three doctors, so it is dangerous to mix spiritual practices. Such
a question might suggest confused, restless, or even a greedy attitude.
Only one boat is required to cross a river; straddling two usually results
in capsizing, not arriving. Dabbling and flirting among spiritual paths
may be like drilling one well only a little way, then giving up because
the work is hard and the water doesn't come, then moving to another spot
and drilling again. Such work is not only wasteful, but fruitless, for
all we end up with is a dozen or a thousand shallow holes. Better to gather
all that scattered effort and sink a single well deep - for all we need
is but one well that goes all the way and we can then draw from an entire
In short, once you have shopped around among various traditions, it may
be wise to choose one method and follow it wholeheartedly - with ekagrata,
the clear and single-pointed focus deemed essential for spiritual practice.
Entrants to any spiritual path should take up that practice fully and purely.
This is why we are advised to put our former practices on hold while we
are giving Sahaj Marg a test.
How does the Master compare with Masters in other
Speaking of when he was an abhyasi under Babuji, Chariji once said,
"I never compared my Master to other Masters. I only compared myself
to my Master." This says much in few words.
Along these lines, Babuji recorded that Lalaji gave him certain directions
to be observed during bhandara (spiritual gatherings), one of which is:
"There should be no differentiation between the gurus or disciples
of other institutions and one's own." These words also invite deep
One last point: Eager disciples of various traditions often squabble and
dispute about the superiority of their path over all others, or the primacy
of their guru above all others, but this is not the case among genuine
and true Masters, who must smile at such childish behavior among the devotees
of supposedly competing camps. One of the first things we learn in associating
with our Master is that at the higher levels, all beings work in harmony,
and that no incorporeal being or human guru, hidden or revealed, works
without Nature's permission. The Masters form a harmony across time and
space and also across all traditions, taking the work that is appointed
to them by Nature. Only their less mature disciples, who do not yet see
the grandness of Nature's whole panorama, foolishly argue for this guru
or that guru as the "greatest."
Then Sahaj Marg is not the "only way"
to God Realization?
Sahaj Marg rejects the notion that there is "one true way"
for every person everywhere. Just as a mother might prepare a dish in different
ways to please her different children, so has God created many paths to
suit the needs of Her children in their particular situations. The paths
we choose at given times in our lives are thus more a matter of suitability
or even our karmic destiny. The ancient Vedic principal applies here: "Paths
are many; Truth is one."
And yet there is another level of understanding (see invertendo, page 123)
regarding this question of paths. Babuji once said, "There is only
one way to attain God. Had there been several paths, even thieves would
have reached Him by a secret path." The truth is, no matter what tradition
or method we adopt, in essence there is only one way to realize God.
Though the surface instances vary, all human beings are essentially born
in the same way, and all die in the same way. Just so, regardless of our
language or culture or belief system, we all sleep, dream, and awaken in
the same way. And we all enter the turiya, the "fourth consciousness,"
in the same way - that is, we simply drop our delusions and awaken to Reality.
How many ways are there to drop a burning ember from our hands? As the
ancient sages used to say, "The paths to Hell are many; but to God
there is only one Path." In that path to God, no matter what external
words, rituals, or techniques are used, the inner Process for all is single,
eternal, and universal.
Finally, the spiritually mature individual recognizes the beauty and validity
of other paths, but he or she is not fickle-minded and does not confuse
this appreciation with an inability to commit to a given practice. Generally
speaking, regardless of our chosen path, three qualities are essential
for all spiritual travelers: Tolerance or appreciation of all paths is,
according to Sahaj Marg, the beginning, not the end, of spirituality. Viveka
(insight or discrimination) is a second prerequisite. Intense longing (mumuksha)
is the third.
I already have a Guru. May I still practice the
method of Sahaj Marg? Must I give my old Master up? I feel grateful to
If people find their practice or current guru to be satisfactory,
Chariji encourages them to follow that path to its furthest reach. By the
same token, if someone feels that he or she can receive no further benefit
from a practice or guru, then it is his or her right and duty to try to
find a more effective path. Chariji has said, "But please, only one
Marg at a time!"
To this we might add, "Please, one Master at a time." Ultimately
the Way and the Guru are inseparable, for as it has been said, "A
teacher points the Way; the Guru is the Way." Thus we may have many
teachers, but we can have only one Guru, once we really understand the
role of the Guru in the life of a disciple. Trying to serve two masters
is a disservice not only to our former guru, but to ourselves as well.
In another way, to the degree that a former guru has taught and assisted
us, none of us ever has to "give up" such benefit. We may be
lucky enough to have learned from many wise teachers or upa-gurus (secondary
gurus), and should always feel gratitude and respect for them. When we
graduate out of high school into college, it is not an act of betrayal
to our high school teachers, but a normal process of growth and expansion.
True gurus exist to serve us, not the other way around. Babuji has written:
"I hold it to be the birthright of every man to break off from his
Guru if he finds he has made a wrong selection or had misjudged that Guru's
capacity or worth. He is also free to seek another Guru if at any stage
he finds that his Guru has not the capacity to take him beyond that which
he has already acquired. On the other hand, a conscientious Guru must himself,
under the circumstances, direct his disciple to seek another more advanced
and better qualified, so that the disciple may not in any way suffer progress.
This is the sacred duty of a true and selfless Guru. If, however, permission
to break off, sought for by the disciple, is denied by the Guru on account
of his selfish motives, the disciple is at liberty to break off from him
at once and seek another. No moral or religious law ever forbids him from
What does Sahaj Marg say about Jesus? I think
Jesus is the only Way. Jesus said, "For one is your Master, even Christ."
As we have already said, if you feel that Christ or anyone else
is your Master, you should stay with Him.
It is the view of Sahaj Marg, however, that Representatives of God are
born in different times and places to give people an approach to the Divine
that is suitable to their current situation and condition. Masters appear
in ordinary human form, go through the troubles all of us must endure,
and then return to the Source that sent them forth. There are reasons why
the Divine must take on various human forms to appear as Masters to different
cultures and races and times, and Christ Himself gave a hint along these
lines when He said: "As long as I am in the world, I am the light
of the world." (John 9.5) When Jesus spoke of the reincarnation or
return of the Christ - "For as the lightening cometh out of the east
and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of
man be," (Mt. 24.27) - He added: "Therefore be ye also ready,
for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Mt. 24.44
and Luke 12.40) Will we be ready to recognize the Master when He appears
before us? The appearance of our Master may not be during an apocaplypse:
all Jesus says is that the Master will appear before us unexpectedly, perhaps
in a form we never anticipated.
Chariji loves to tell the following story. It is a story about a group
of very religious Brahmins begging for a visit from Lord Krishna, who was
to them what Christ is to others: the only true full incarnation of God.
Lord Krishna spoke and told the Brahmins that He had heard their prayers
and would come have supper with them at midnight. Overjoyed, the Brahmins
performed all the necessary ablutions and said the proper mantras, and
under a pandal or canopy in a holy grove laid out a wonderful repast. Then
they waited. Suddenly at midnight a wild pig burst out of the underbrush
and began rooting and snouting through the food they had laid out for their
Lord. Horrified that an unclean animal was polluting the Lord's supper,
they began to beat the pig and drive it away. A strange thing happened,
as the story goes: Every time they hit the pig, they felt the blows on
their own bodies as well! Finally they drove the pig ran squealing back
into the forest, but the food was ruined and Krishna never appeared. The
next morning, the Brahmins glumly performed their rites and then demanded
that Krishna explain why He had broken His promise to come and have supper
with them. This time Lord Krishna did appear before the Brahmins. "I
did come," he told them, "but obviously not in the form you were
expecting!" Then He turned and the Brahmins received a second shock.
Their Lord's back was covered with the stripes and bruises they'd given
to that pig!
Buddhist and Hindu scriptures also agree that spiritual Masters appear
in every generation to assist humanity and do the work of nature. Some
are known, but many choose to remain hidden. Of those who are known, some
become jagat-gurus, or world-teachers, and are worshipped for many centuries.
If their teachings are deep enough, and true enough, eventually they may
crystallize into a scripture and produce a religion. All religions begin
with the realization of a single individual, and the original experience
of its founder remains the bedrock of each religion. Whether that founder
is Christ, Buddha, Rama, Krishna, Mohammed, or someone else, this standard
holds true, and to the degree that the founder's followers can partake
of that experience themselves, their religion continues to be valid and
transformative rather than degenerating into a set of mechanical rituals
or a dry body of social obligations.
Sahaj Marg respects the Masters of all religions. This brief book is not
the place to go into depth about the harmony of the words of Christ and
the practice of Sahaj Marg, but a deep parallel study of the Gospels and
the works of Sahaj Marg Masters might dispel apparent or superficial conflicts.
You may bring your conflicts directly to Chariji, or to a knowledgeable
brother or sister, if you wish, but your practice itself will provide the
ultimate verification. After some time, you will know the truth directly
for yourself. As Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within."
Just so, Sahaj Marg advises us only to meditate and look within our own
heart. The definition, the description, and the destination of meditation
was never expressed so well as in Psalms 46.10: "Be still and know
that I am God."
BEGINNING SAHAJ MARG
What qualifications or requirements are necessary
for one to begin the practice of Sahaj Marg?
Anyone who is at least eighteen years old and who is willing to
make a sincere commitment to try the practice for three to six months may
Why must one be at least eighteen years of age
to begin practice?
Sahaj Marg recognizes the fact that all humans must grow and develop
in a natural way at a natural pace. As we mature, we first learn to crawl,
then walk, then talk, then read, and so on. Just so, with spirituality,
children should be allowed to grow and play and develop in a natural way.
They must not be forced into meditation before they have the maturity to
understand something of what they are getting into, and can make an independent
decision for themselves, apart from the pressures of parents or peers.
Granted, some individuals mature early, and others seem to never mature,
but the age of eighteen has been selected as an arbitrary time when most
of us are first able to consider choosing a spiritual path. Master sometimes
allows individuals to begin sadhana before they turn eighteen, but this
is rather rare.
Are any fees or "donations" required
for spiritual training under Sahaj Marg?
No. How can you be charged for having restored to you that which
has always been yours? Sahaj Marg holds that spirituality cannot be sold
any more than the sky can be sold, for no one owns it.
I have too many bad habits to start a spiritual
practice at this time. Much as I might like to, I'm afraid that I cannot
leave my vices.
Sahaj Marg is not for perfect people, but for those who are willing
to become perfect. We all have vices which may seem horrible and special
to us, but which are almost always quite commonplace, as Dr. Varadachari
used to say. These weaknesses, inclinations, or compulsions do not disqualify
us; in fact, they are the very reasons to take up a spiritual practice.
In Sahaj Marg, we do not battle directly with our desires - such an attack
only makes the desires more strong, as anyone who has ever made a New Year's
resolution will know. Rather than focus on our faults, in Sahaj Marg we
simply make progress in the good and allow habits to drop away by themselves.
There is no force, no rush. The process is quite natural and happens when
the time is ripe.
Sometimes the samskaras (the subtle impressions that give rise to habits)
are removed very quickly, and change is almost effortless. At other times,
the abhyasi must work again and again to manifest externally the internal
cleaning that has been given by the Master. As Master says, some samskaras
are removed only with the abhyasi's cooperation in the form of consistent
effort, with perhaps many failures, before the result becomes an abiding
condition. The difficulties are sometimes left in place by the Master to
help the abhyasi develop character. In other instances, habits that once
seemed impossible to escape can be cleared in a way that seems truly miraculous.
Whatever is necessary for an abhyasi's progress will be given.
Once a group of men came to Babuji and said, "Sir, we admire your
system very much, but we cannot start." Babuji asked them why not.
These fellows were unusual in that they were not shamed and secretive,
but came right out and told Babuji about their shortcomings as a way of
explaining why they felt themselves to be unsuitable candidates for spiritual
practice. "Sir," they concluded flatly, "we cannot leave
Babuji laughed. "I am telling you," he replied, "do not
worry about leaving your vices. They will leave you!"
I think I might like to give the system a try,
but at this point I cannot promise that I will stay with it forever. Is
Of course. This is essentially what Babuji meant when he used to
say that the only requirement to begin Sahaj Marg is willingness. Much
is contained in that single word, for the proper beginning is one made
not just from the level of the emotions, which may fluctuate with every
change of circumstance, but also from the deeper level of the will. For
this level to remain engaged, we must remember the purpose and destination
of our lives. Like a sailor holding a true course, it is this one-pointedness
of mind that will carry us through the cross-winds of desire amidst the
clamorous attractions we see all around us, and also through those doldrums,
momentary despairs, or simply the lack of interest that inevitably beset
every spiritual voyager from time to time.
How do I begin Sahaj Marg? What exactly is to
The first step is to meet with a preceptor. (For names and addresses
of the preceptors nearest you, please contact one of the centers ) You
should be given a minimum of three individual sittings from a preceptor
before attending group meditation. Ideally, these sittings should occur
over two or three days. The second sitting should come within 24 hours
of the first.
What is a "sitting"? What precisely
is done during the introductory sittings?
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. The introductory sittings are devoted mostly to cleaning
the system of the beginner. Subtle obstacles are removed and the way is
prepared for open-hearted meditation.
It should be noted that three introductory sittings is the minimum. Sahaj
Marg does not treat human beings as if they were assembly-line products,
and recognizes that the condition and capacity of each individual is unique.
So you should not be concerned if the preceptor requests more sittings
- it does not mean that your condition is exceptionally gross or, on the
other hand, that your capacity is especially great. What it means is that
the preceptor wants to give you as firm a beginning as possible, and if
you are willing, he or she would like to give you more than the bare minimum
of sittings. Babuji once gave 22 sittings to a person beginning the practice.
Why are we asked to devote three to six months
to test the practice of Sahaj Marg?
A reasonable length of time is necessary to give the results of
the practice time to manifest. This is true not just with Sahaj Marg, but
with any spiritual practice. The time period of three to six months is
somewhat arbitrary, in that often these changes can be felt much sooner,
and sometimes a greater amount of time may be necessary, particularly as
the work advances and grows more and more subtle.
How exactly are we supposed to tell if the practice
is working? What changes should we expect?
Master has said that the surest test of the effectiveness of a
spiritual practice is a growing sense of lightness. Now this "sense
of lightness" is by definition a subjective condition. It might be
compared to a daughter asking her mother about the experience of falling
in love. "How will I know when I have fallen in love?" she might
ask her mother. And the mother will smile and say, "Don't worry. You'll
Just so, though this sense of spiritual "lightness" may difficult
to describe, it is one that can be easily recognized when it is experienced.
Even after a short time of practice, many abhyasis often report a dropping
away of complexities, a sense of peace, a heightened intuitive ability,
a sense of focus and direction.
When Reality is perceived, the response is awe and gratitude. So whether
we feel as a kind of background to all we experience a sense of abiding
gratitude (or its reverse, resentment and bitterness) can be another sure
test for the clarity of our contact with the Real. The one is light, clear,
open and free; the other - resentment - is dark, smoky, closed, and bound.
But the most simple and honest way to describe how we have found our chosen
path is that after some time, it simply feels right. That for us, no matter
that we may continue to doubt and struggle and argue, Sahaj Marg is a "path
with a heart."
But understand that whatever conditions arise, whether they are agreeable
to us or not, all such conditions will change and pass on. In our spiritual
yatra or journey toward the Ultimate, peace will come and go, pain will
arrive and depart, until we at last come into what Babuji has described
as the unchanging condition, the non-bliss blissfulness, the peace beyond
Finally, regarding expectations, however, a word of caution: it is almost
a rule of spiritual practice that one of the first experiences that comes
along is the realization that our expectations are in themselves hindrances
and obstacles (as the second line of the Mission prayer suggests) and this
realization usually comes when our hidden expectations are revealed precisely
because they are not met! We may expect a guru to look and act in a certain
way, and the genuine guru will often disappoint and frustrate those expectations.
So it is best to simply do the practice and observe whatever arises, including
our own expectations. For what we expect to happen will condition (and
therefore limit) what actually does happen. This is a truth with any spiritual
So what to expect? Expect nothing. Expect anything. Do, and see for yourself.
What are the suggested guidelines for this trial
To sum up, perhaps the following suggestions will of some use:
- Do the practice for a reasonable length of time to allow the subtle
changes to begin to flower. Even for physical training, we could hardly
expect to see results from only one or two workouts in a gymnasium. Three
to six months should suffice as a minimum provisional commitment to any
new method of spiritual training. There are many terrains in the geography
of the inner world, and we should not be surprised or discouraged when
we hit dry places and valleys, just as we should not get elated by the
first view from the mountains.
- Do the practice fully, as it is meant to be done. To extend the metaphor
of working in a gymnasium, we could hardly expect to see any results even
after the three or six months if we had only worked out a few times each
month. In Sahaj Marg, this means doing the daily practice, attending satsangh
once a week, getting at least two individual sittings from a preceptor
each month, writing in our spiritual diary, reading, and so on.
- Do the practice without adding to it and without altering it. We can
hardly evaluate the results of one practice if it is mixed into an eclectic
stew of other practices. When we have practiced Sahaj Marg honestly, singly,
and thoroughly for three to six months, then if we find it does not suit
us, our former practices will always be there for us to take up again.
But we must be willing to put them "on hold" while we are testing
a new practice.
A century ago Swami Vivekananda likened the enthusiasms of Americans to
a fire of straw - "quickly ignited, but quickly extinguished."
Only when the novelty of the practice and the initial "honeymoon phase"
is gone does the work begin in earnest. Unfortunately, this is when many
leave the practice, and move on to something else or drop the effort altogether.
Such a pattern has been aptly described as an "addiction to attraction,"
whereby people either fear commitment or become fixated with novelty, wishing
to sample a bit of everything in love or life or spirituality without diving
deeply. We must be more mature than this, and see how limiting the restless
gravitation toward "novelty" can be and the opportunities it
may deny. Then, though we may appreciate other ways, still we can dive
deeply in the tradition we have chosen - or as some say, has been chosen
for us. The Source of all paths may remain illusory as long as we keep
skittering from surface to surface, but may be perceived when the depths
are sounded. Only then can true appreciation for all paths begin to develop.
So, Master says: "Dive deep!"
I have noticed that many of those who begin Sahaj
Marg in the West do not even stick with it for the initial three months.
Why do so few stay with it?
This question could have as many answers as the number of individuals
who begin the practice but for some reason, drop off - indeed, often before
completing even the trial period they agreed to observe. It is not fair
to broadbrush all those who make such aborted beginnings as fickle-minded
or flaky. In fact, preceptors usually feel that they are the ones who have
failed in such cases, not the individuals who came to them for instruction
Traditionally, those who wished to learn from a guru had to pass certain
tests before they would be accepted for instruction. The guru would ignore
the aspiring disciple or even attempt to drive him away. Stories of severe
testing of an applicant's seriousness of purpose by the guru abound in
dharmic literature. Bodhidharma is said to have accepted the disciple who
was to become the Second Patriarch only after the fellow got his attention
by cutting off his own right arm and presenting it as evidence to his Master
that he was indeed serious about his own evolution. This used to be symbolically
represented in the Zen Buddhist tradition, where candidates were expected
to wait outside the monastery walls for days, knocking and begging to be
admitted - but it also was more than symbolic. Garbage would be dumped
on these poor souls and insults hurled at them; they might even get beaten,
and be ordered to leave. Finally, those who could not be driven away would
There are no such traditional dramas or external tests of the applicant
in Sahaj Marg. Beginning the practice of Sahaj Marg is very easy. It is
democratic and open to all, regardless of creed, gender, maturity, education,
financial situation, race, or religion. All anyone has to do is profess
a willingness to begin and take three introductory sittings from a preceptor.
Nonetheless, in Sahaj Marg the testing of the applicant's sincerity and
fortitude is just as real as in the old traditions, and it comes just as
quickly - only here, the one who does the testing is the also one who is
being tested, namely, the applicant himself.
One wishes the best for those who decide that Sahaj Marg does not suit
them after they have given the system a sincere effort for three to six
months. Indeed, as already mentioned, Sahaj Marg does not hold the view
that everyone must follow one spiritual path, for as the Vedas observe:
"Truth is one; Paths are many." Still, it is regrettable when
a practice is rejected before it has been properly tested. We may have
carelessly thrown away a jewel without even knowing we once held it in
Chariji once asked Babuji why he could not use his powers as a Master to
make people stay with the practice, because even if they couldn't recognize
the fact, this was what they needed more than anything else in life. Babuji
replied, "Yes, it could be done, but it is not allowed. Man is not
an animal that he can be tied up." No matter much how God may yearn
for reunion with his children, apparently He will never force anyone to
come to Him. We must each come of our own will. And each day we stay, it
is because of our will, until the day finally comes when God's will and
our will are one.
It has been said that no one should begin the practice of yoga unless he
or she has the same intensity of purpose and singleness of will that a
person whose hair has caught fire will use in putting that fire out. Everything
else - family, career, food - is eclipsed in the bright fire of that mumuksha,
or desire for liberation. Few of us have that degree of yearning for Realization,
but if such restlessness begins to develop in our practice, we may count
ourselves blessed, for Realization. will follow such a pure intention as
the light follows the rising sun.
What does the term "Master" mean in Sahaj
In casual usage, "Master" is merely the appellation used
by most abhyasis in referring to the gurus of the Sahaj Marg lineage, and
in particular, to the living Representative. Truly speaking, however, the
external Master or Guru can be described as the reflection of our own inner
Teacher. This is true not only for Masters of Sahaj Marg, but for the Masters
of all the great traditions. Along these lines, the words of Tibetan Lama
Sogyal Rinpoche can hardly be improved upon: "The master whose human
shape and human voice we come to love with a love deeper than any other
in our lives is none other than the external manifestation of the mystery
of our own inner truth. What else could explain why we feel so strongly
connected to him?"
Officially within the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), the Master is the
spiritual Representative announced by his Master, who carries on the spiritual
duties as guided and instructed by his Master. As such, there is only one
living Master at a time, who also accepts the responsibilities of President
But Chariji has often explained that the use of the word "master"
in Sahaj Marg has nothing to do with some external hierarchical relationship,
in which one person acts like a "boss" whose every order must
be obeyed, and all others are mere lowly slaves.
In fact, Sahaj Marg Masters rarely give direct orders to others, and then
only to advanced abhyasis, or when absolutely necessary. Instead, they
tend to give subtle hints or general suggestions. Masters, as Babuji always
insisted, come not to rule, but only to serve. The most striking characteristic
of our Masters are their utter ordinariness, their lack of self-consciousness,
their playfulness, and their genuine humility.
For example, Chariji has answered the question "Who is the Master?"
in many different ways, depending on how he feels, and on who is asking,
and why, and when, and where.
He has replied: "A Master is not who you think he is."
Or: "I would say that the Master is nobody."
Or: "The Master is someone very much like you!"
The hint here is that the "Master" is not a riddle to be solved
or a definition to be settled and set away, but is a mystery best approached
with wonder. It is a mystery in which the "Master" is both a
human being and yet not a human being, but something beyond, as Babuji
"I started practice at the age of 21 when I did not know what is surrender
and so I never tried for that. To me my Master was all and all, because
I got such a Master. If there was any surrender on my part unconsciously,
it was to the Master alone. Really speaking, the frame of the Master is
not God, but what is behind it is Divinity. So I submitted to that Divinity
and not the physical being. If you invite into your view the whole frame
of the Master, the Divinity will lag behind. (It was for me alone. I never
say for others to do it.) So it was not submission to the Master but to
the Real Being. But now my own experience wants that our associates may
read the benefit of my experiences."
So the "Master" may be viewed as either an incarnated human being
or as Being itself, prior to and beyond any incarnation. But really the
Master must be seen as both. The "frame of the Master" and the
"Divinity behind it" cannot be separated, for just as we cannot
separate water from the abstract concept of "wetness," so we
cannot divide the temporal Master from the eternal Divinity the Master
Two more things can be said. Chariji has explained that in Sahaj Marg,
the word "master" can refer to a person who has mastered himself
or herself. Most of us will admit that this is no common feat. As already
suggested, it is this mastery over self, not mastery over others, that
makes one a true master. Secondly, in the living tradition of Sahaj Marg,
a Master is one who has the ability to transmit from the center of his
own existence to the center of another's existence, who can thus awaken
and nurture the Master in others. In short, a Master is able to create
not just disciples, but others like himself, that is, another Master. But
this work can be done only if a fit disciple appears and is willing to
undergo the work and fulfill his own part of the bargain. Sadly, few have
the faith and courage to accept this reality, for as Babuji used to say,
"Rare to find a Master of caliber, but even more rare to find a disciple
How does one recognize a Master of caliber?
In sum, by becoming a disciple of caliber.
Chariji has said that if we have one Goal, the highest goal in mind, it
is easy to find guidance, and Babuji has attested that a sincere prayer
will bring the guru to our door!
Babuji goes into some detail to help us in our search for a genuine and
capable Master: "It is very difficult to find such a person, but they
are there, no doubt, in this world. I will tell you an easy method of finding
them out. If you sit beside such a person, never mind be he a sannyasi
(renunciate) or grihastha (householder), calmness, the nature of self,
will remain predominant and you will be care-free for the time being. You
will be in touch with the Real thing so long as you are with him. The effect
is automatic, even if he does not exert himself.
"If you really want to search for such a person, what you have to
do is only to look to your own heart and note the condition of your mind.
It becomes comparatively calm and quiet, and the different ideas that have
been haunting your mind and troubling you all the time are away so long
as you are with him.
"But one thing is to be clearly borne in mind, that mind should not
in any way be taxed and there should be no heaviness. Because this effect
(keeping off the ideas and bringing the mind to a stand-still) can be brought
off also by those who have mastered the baser science of hypnotism. The
difference between the two is that in the latter case heaviness, exhaustion,
and dullness of mind and physique will be felt, while in the former case
the person will feel lightness and at the same time calmness prevailing
all over. It is possible that you may not be able to judge it at first
glance, but constant company with the person will surely offer you clear
hints and indications in this respect."
What is the role of the Master?
As indicated, the Master's duty is to awaken and nurture the Divine
in all who seek such assistance, and thus fulfill his pledge to his own
Master. The Master in Sahaj Marg takes complete responsibility for the
abhyasi's total well-being, but only when the abhyasi allows this through
intelligent surrender to Divine will. What is meant by "intelligent
surrender" is not that we surrender our intelligence, but that we
surrender because of our intelligence.
I feel that the idea of a Master somehow comes between me and God. Why
must we have a Master? Can't everyone go to God directly, without any intermediary?
Babuji wrote, "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. It is quite
evident that if a man comes out as a guru or master he has usurped the
position really due to God and as such it is nothing but mere blasphemy.
[The guru] must, therefore, treat himself as the humblest servant of God,
serving humanity in the name of the great Master."
It is true that we can indeed go to the Source directly, without any assistance
from a fellow human being, and we are welcome to try whenever we like.
But we may come to understand why such a feat is very rare in the long
history of the spiritual traditions of the world, and why most agree on
the desirability, indeed the necessity, for a Realized Master in human
form to assist most seekers in finding their way Home. If we honestly examine
the sources of our desire to "go it alone," we may find the very
thing that stands between ourselves and reality - namely, the subtle pride
in accomplishment and the fear of surrender that are the signatures of
ego. It is this ego, not the Master, that "comes between me and God."
But I still do not like the idea of having to depend
on some external authority figure and giving them power over me?
This question betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the guru-disciple
relationship, which is one of mutual love and respect. A true guru exercises
no more "authority" over a student than a grandfather does with
a grandchild. In this kind of love, such bristling over authority does
not arise in disciples any more than it would among grandchildren.
And yet the Guru is more than a loving grandparent. If we truly realized
how difficult the path to Reality before us actually is, how fraught with
a thousand subtle traps, wrong turns, dead ends, false "realizations,"
self-deceit, and outright delusion, we would rush to find a competent guide!
Of course, as long as we are happy to remain in the familiar neighborhood
of the social religion we were born into by an accident of geography, we
need no Guru - we can easily make do with the local priests or rabbis or
mullahs, or with our own little lights, for that matter. But if we hope
to climb the Himalayas of human possibility, it is a wise idea to find
a sherpa! If you wish to know the way, says the old proverb, ask the one
who goes up and down upon it.
If you prefer, think of the Master as a spiritual trainer or coach, and
try to accept the services he offers in the way you might accept the services,
for instance, of a dance instructor. It would be difficult to learn to
waltz if we only read manuals about waltzing and never listen to waltz
music or see the dance performed. Much simpler and faster to find a dancing
master, who can show us in a few steps what we could never learn even from
years of reading. The Master embodies the Goal, just as a dancer embodies
the dance - and how can we imagine a dance apart from a dancer?
Finally, as for the reluctance to "give another person power over
us," do we not already do this almost daily? When we fly in an airplane,
we trust our very lives to the pilot, airplane mechanics, air traffic controllers,
and others we have never met. We completely surrender ourselves to the
care of surgeons when necessary. The same life-and-death trust occurs every
time we even drive a car -we must trust every oncoming driver to be skillful
and stay in his own lane. Other examples of the necessity of provisional
but complete trust are everywhere, from going to barbers to aerobics instructors.
Our entire existence is one of interdependence, and if we honestly look
at all the aspects of our material life, we would see that there are really
no areas in which we can claim to wield complete autonomy or independent
determination. So why must we insist on "independence" in our
But what about all the abuses of unscrupulous gurus?
Sadly, it is true that charlatans or sincere psychotics often attract
large followings who honestly consider them to be true gurus. This is as
true today as it has been for centuries; it is part of the Dance. The existence
of failed or counterfeit gurus does not imply that the genuine article
isn't out there somewhere for these tragic figures to imitate, since travesties
are impossible without the already established reality of an original.
That authentic Rembrandts exist is not negated by the forged copies that
surface; indeed, his mastery is confirmed by the counterfeits - for what
fool would try to pass off a forged copy of something that was of no value,
or never existed in reality? It would be like making counterfeits of pennies
or of 25-dollar bills. Gloating over false teachers and tragically deluded
cults may be comforting for us, since it allows us to remain in our cynical
easy-chairs and do nothing about our own spiritual journeys, but is a bit
too facile to dismiss the possibility that living gurus exist based on
the behavior of a few sensationalized poseurs. As someone said, it is like
refusing to receive money because there have been some forged notes floating
If I am uncomfortable and shy about the idea of
accepting someone as my Master, can I still do the practice of Sahaj Marg?
Absolutely. In fact, Chariji himself practiced Sahaj Marg for months
before he even found out that there was a Guru behind the system, and only
later did he actually meet Babuji face to face. Chariji has said that no
one can be expected to love someone he has never met, much less accept
that person as his Master. So when we first begin the practice, and no
one is expected to do this; in fact, no abhyasi is asked at any time to
accept Chariji or anyone else as his or her Master. The relation with a
Master is a very personal matter and develops at first just like any other
human relationship. It usually requires time to deepen from polite respect,
to friendship, and perhaps ultimately to love, awe, and wonder.
Traditions from all over the world and across hundreds of centuries agree:
Knowing a true Guru is the greatest delight and the most fortunate experience
that can come to a human being. Many abhyasis come to understand that there
exists no experience more wonderful and endlessly fascinating than to enter
into the relation with a worthy Guru. It is a relationship which gradually
expands to fill the entire universe, and is a mystery which embraces all
other possible human relationships - mother and infant, father and son,
friend and companion, mentor and student, lover and beloved.
But no one has to accept this to practice Sahaj Marg.
How is a Master chosen?
It is said that the Grand Masters select the successor to the present
Master. For example, Lalaji selected Chariji as Babuji's successor. Similarly,
Babuji might select Chariji's successor. This also would introduce another
and most important element of impartiality and deservingness to this system
of Spiritual Inheritance. Of course, the mysteries of succession are finally
the responsibility of the Masters, and are outside the scope of the work
of an abhyasi - even, one might add, that abhyasi determined to become
the successor to his Master!
Is Master an ordinary human being, or is He Divine?
Can a Master make mistakes? Does he ever change his mind? Is the Master
growing and changing like the rest of us?
Master is both human and divine, as are we all. He is no less human
than you or I, and he is no more Divine than you or I. As an analogy, we
might think of water. Whether it is in the form of a vast ocean, or a great
cascade like Niagara Falls, or a small pond, or even a fetid sewer, the
water is always the same. A Master might be likened to an ocean where we
might be a pond, or (alas!) perhaps a sewer. But the water, even if it
contains dirt and filth, is still water. All that is required is cleaning
and purifying. Just so, our essential nature is and has always been Divine,
nothing needs to be added to the Original Divine Essence. A Master merely
expresses greater purity and amplitude of this Essence than most beings.
Yes, a Master can make a mistake. In fact, Babuji used to joke that a Master
was greater than God, because a Master could make mistakes, whereas God
cannot! (This might also be one explanation for Babuji's mysterious remark,
"God is limited, but Master is unlimited.") Like all human beings
a Master changes his mind, learns new things, grows, and evolves. Asked
if he is still changing and growing, Chariji looked surprised that the
question would even come up. "I hope so!" he replied.
Chariji has said that he himself disagreed many times with his Master,
but that he did not ever disobey Him. This is an important distinction,
and invites contemplation.
Chariji has also warned that a seeker should beware of any system headed
by a supposedly changeless and "perfect" guru: "It indicates
that everything beneath the guru is also frozen in place, like a stone
pyramid." In Sahaj Marg, a Master is perfect in the way that the sky
is always a perfect sky.
Why must a Master have a human form?
The Divine takes on human form because this is the form through
which the rest of us all experience the Universe. A Master faces the same
problems we all face - earning a living, getting married, raising children,
sickness, old age, death. God in His Heaven does not have to deal with
these things, or with the treachery and deceit and pain and folly we find
all around us in this world, and so God can give us no finer example than
a Master in human form. By observing how a Master lives and works and plays,
we can begin to see what is possible for us as human beings.
As Chariji once explained: "You see, so many of us are obviously so
intensely interested in the spiritual life, but the difficulty is the very
abstraction of the Goal and an even more potent difficulty is that we are
unable to experience or to evaluate ourselves. Then I realized the importance
of the Guru. Even though the Goal is an abstraction, indefinable, not locatable
in space or time, yet we have before us a Guru, whom we believe sincerely
and wholeheartedly to be an embodiment of all those virtues and qualities
and he becomes a sort of sheet-anchor to direct us away from an abstract
Goal to a concrete Goal, which is the Master, which is Divinity itself,
so that this hiatus between That which we aspire for and the unknowability
of That which we aspire for is removed in one stroke."
Secondly, a Master must have a human form to take on the samskaras of others
and to remove their karma. This is one reason why saints and Masters often
suffer ill health and other calamities beyond what may come to them naturally,
for when they have finished with the bulk of their own karma, in their
great love they are able to absorb and erase the karma of others.
Why can't we just rely on our inner voice? Also,
couldn't we benefit from an ascended master, or from a great teacher in
the past, like Christ or Buddha or Krishna or Mohammed? Why can't we learn
from the great scriptures? Or for that matter, I feel that everything and
everyone should be taken as my guru; why not learn from life itself?
As for taking the inner voice or a departed soul to be our guru,
Babuji has observed: "The practice of seeking inspiration or guidance
from gods and demi-gods or from some departed soul and treating it as Guru
or Master is in most cases very dangerous. Similar is the case with those
also who seek guidance from their inner voice as they call it. I have come
across people who lay great stress upon their inner voice which they think
to be the real guide in all controversial matters arising in the mind....Most
of those who seek guidance from a departed soul are really following the
dictates of their own unregulated and undisciplined mind. It is mere hallucination.
If we develop this vicious habit we are lost forever. It leads us to constant
mental worry and harassment....The inner voice is in fact the voice of
the mind in its perfectly pure state. Unless the mind is cleared of all
its pollutions and is brought to a state of perfect Peace and moderation,
it can never reflect the inner voice. In fact, for one whose mind is pure,
it is his inner voice alone that always speaks and the impulse from highly
developed souls continues to flow to him continuously. The practice is
thus evidently very dangerous and in most cases leads to disastrous results."
Babuji's words may seem strong, but they are backed up by teachers of many
traditions. So our sense that we can be led by the "inner guru"
is actually correct, as Babuji said, though such guidance can come only
when we have stilled the mind to the degree that the Inner Voice even can
be heard. Then we are able to proceed from sure inspiration or intuition,
not from whims and impulses born from a still thriving ego. At best, we
must admit that our so-called "inner guru" is an uncertain mix
of Divinity and desire, Self and ego - and to verify the inner Voice, the
assistance of an objective and experienced guide is invaluable. With such
help, soon we gain experience and can tune out all the ego-static, discern
the real Voice, and distinguish between illumined intuition and mere impulse.
Also, as Babuji suggested, the practice of taking ascended souls for our
guru is often used to avoid the real difficulties of discipleship. The
American scholar and Yoga practitioner Georg Feuerstein has made a similar
observation: "The New Age craze of channeling is symptomatic of this
approach, in which conveniently 'ascended' masters give all kinds of advice,
which is usually quite innocuous and makes precious little demand for actual
change. 'Dead gurus,' Da Love-Ananda once stated bluntly, 'can't kick ass.'"
Alas, this applies to the founders of the great religions as well: Buddha,
Christ, Mohammed, Rama, Krishna and all the great Masters of the past are
now, let us admit it, principally encountered in books. Even if we commune
with them in meditation or prayer, we cannot observe them living in our
own world of traffic jams and laundromats, not in the way that their direct
disciples could witness them living in the worlds of centuries past. And
noble as their teachings are, no book can take the place of the living
presence of those masters as they lived with their disciples: "And
the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,"
recorded John. The Sufis understand this, too: "Ten minutes in the
company of the Friend," they say, "is better than ten thousand
years in a library."
As for the notion that "everything, every situation, and everyone
around us is the Guru": Again, this is true - but again, only after
Realization. Before this, we may surely get guidance, and have many teachers,
but we should not consider these as gurus (as Ram Dass observed, "Teachers
point the way; the Guru is the way"). Vivekananda was typically fierce
about this romantic dodge: "'Sermons in stones, books in brooks, and
good in everything' is all very true as a poetical figure; but nothing
can impart to a man a single grain of truth unless he has the undeveloped
germ of it in himself. To whom do the stones and brooks preach sermons?
To that human soul the lotus of whose holy inner shrine is already about
to open. And the light which causes the beautiful opening of this lotus
comes always from the good and wise teacher. When the heart has thus been
opened, it becomes fit to receive teachings from the stones or the brooks."
Even in so-called "teacherless" traditions like that of Krishnamurti,
which emphasize techniques over teachers, one could argue that ultimately
those teachings are legitimized and embodied in the example of the teacher.
The Buddha at his death told his disciple Ananda that not he, but his teachings
would now "be the raft," yet the Buddha's teachings are drawn
from his own experience and would have no value if he had not set an example
and practically demonstrated the possibility of Realization for all of
So let us accept that a proper guide is essential if we wish to approach
the highest reaches of human potential. And let us conclude with the words
of Swami Vivekananda that are as pertinent today as they were when he spoke
them to some American friends in 1895: "Be grateful to books and teachers
without bondage to them, and worship your guru as God, but do not obey
him blindly. Love him as much as you will, but think for yourself....Nothing
can be done without a guru. In fact, great danger ensues.... There is no
reason why each of you cannot be a vehicle of the mighty current of spirituality.
But first you must find a teacher, a true teacher, and you must remember
that he is not just a man. You may get a teacher in the body, but the real
teacher is not in the body. He is not the physical man; he is not as he
appears to your eyes. It may be that the teacher will come to you as a
human being, and you will receive the power from him. Sometimes he will
come in a dream and transmit the spiritual ideal to you. The power of the
teacher may come to us in many ways. But for us ordinary mortals a human
teacher must come, and our preparation must go on till he comes."
What is Transmission?
Transmission is the utilization of Divine energy for the transformation
of man. In Sanskrit it is called pranahuti - from prana (life-force) and
ahuti ( to offer, to infuse). Chariji has spoken of it this way: "Transmission
is Pranasya Prana - the 'Prana of Prana.' The Prana of the Divine is poured
into your prana." This can be accomplished by an adept closely connected
to the Source, one who has the ability to transmit from the center of his
or her existence the "life of life" to the center of existence
of another individual.
Long before Einstein's well-known equation e=mc2 established a relation
between energy (e) and matter (m), yogic science had studied the interplay
of energy (prana) and matter (prakriti). Prana enlivens the Universe and
congeals as prakriti. Even though we cannot detect certain radio wavelengths
or ultraviolet vibrations without proper instruments, still it is said
that these energies are always flowing everywhere and at lightspeed (denoted
as c in Einstein's equation). Just so, though only a few may consciously
be tuned to send or receive prana, this flow of Divine Grace is also unceasing
and omnipresent. A Master can direct this flow in the most subtle manner
for specific work not only on individual human beings, but also for the
purposes of Nature across the multiverses - the inner universes and the
universe or universes without.
Among the many things Babuji has said and written about the wonderful discovery
of pranahuti is this: "Power of transmission is a Yogic attainment
of a very high order by which a Yogi can infuse through his own will-force,
the Yogic energy or Godly effulgence within anyone and remove anything
unwanted in him or detrimental to his spiritual progress. He can exercise
this power not only on those assembled around him but on those, too, who
are away from him. The power can be utilized in any way at any time. One
who has got command over this power can, at a glance, create temporarily
or permanently, a condition of the mind which is far ahead of the existing
condition of the mind of an abhyasi and which otherwise will require a
lifetime to be achieved. It is not a vain assertion, but a bare fact and
may at any time be practically verified by anyone who pleases to do so.
Sages have often through the power of transmission changed the entire nature
of a man at a mere glance. The wonderful examples of the great sages like
my Master, Samartha Guru Shri Ram Chandraji Maharaj of Fatehgarh, Swami
Vivekananda, and others offer ample proof of it."
So others besides the Master or Sahaj Marg preceptors
Of course. In a way, every one of us transmits. As Babuji said,
if you sit next to a madman or a murderer, even an insensitive person will
begin to experience uncomfortable feelings. If we sit next to a saint,
we will feel peaceful and calm. The same holds true even for places and
inanimate objects: we will feel the atmosphere of a slaughterhouse differently
than the atmosphere of a cathedral. Granted, this is not pranahuti as it
is understood in Sahaj Marg, but what Babuji described as the radiating
vibration of paramanus, or subtle particles. If the atmosphere or "aura"
of a place is like the light of a candle, then transmission may be compared
to a beam of laser light. Though few may have consciously experienced direct
transmission, many have felt the inexplicable "vibes" in the
proximity of certain people or places.
Nature's work is done only by permission. As indicated earlier, the highest
saints and sages work harmoniously as a group, and are far away from the
little sectarian squabblings of their followers. This is why obedience
is an essential aspect of training, because work done at the highest level
must be in accordance with Divine decree. It is one thing, for example,
for a small college radio station to transmit to three or four blocks around
the campus, and quite another for a 100,000-watt clear-channel superstation
to transmit across several states. You might say that a kind of Celestial
Regulatory Commission is in operation to keep the transmissions on the
proper channels, and not conflict with other vibratory levels! Those beings
who are permitted by Nature to transmit prana across the widest range and
broadest scope must be absolutely trustworthy, given the enormous capacity
at their command.
How is pranahuti different from other traditions
of the transference of energy called shabd or abhisheka or shaktipat or
diksha, or even the giving of mantrams?
Babuji has further described pranahuti as a "forceless force"
or "powerless power" not because it brings no result, but because
of its absolute subtlety, in that pranahuti is not tinged with materiality.
In fact, Babuji knew that in spirituality what is most subtle is most effective.
Pranahuti is devoid of all attributes, including even the shakti or power
that informs shaktipat, or the vibrations of light and sound associated
with the shabda of the Siddha Yoga tradition. Nor is the transmission from
Master equivalent to what is called diksha or abhisheka in other traditions,
since pranahuti does not confer or imply any kind of initiation by the
Guru. Indeed, abhyasis frequently have experiences of power and divine
light or splendor and the ajapa of hearing "soundless-sound"
of the Universe as a reaction to pranahuti, but these experiences are just
that - experiences. Wonderful as they may feel, they come and they go,
like all experiences, and have little to do with real progress in spirituality.
As such, these experiences are considered irrelevant and unnecessary in
Sahaj Marg, and though we may have wondrous visions or develop other siddhis
or paranormal powers in our practice, abhyasis are advised to let them
all drop away, and to move on towards the Center unencumbered by even these
The desire for powers or conditions like "peace" and "bliss,"
or attempting to repeat some wonderful experience we once had in meditation
only delays our progress. These tendencies or desires pull us away from
what is happening right here and right now. Pranahuti is the flowing of
Divine current. As such, it is unceasing, very gentle, and so fine and
subtle that even the most sensitive recipient will not actually feel pranahuti
itself, but only its effects as they gradually unfold in our lives.
Then is the method of transmission in Sahaj Marg
a new one?
Yes and no. The technique of transmission is said to have existed
for some 10,000 years, far before even Lord Rama's time in Bhaarat, presently
known as India. It fell into disuse as generations passed, but is said
to have been rediscovered by Lalaji Saheb as a perfect technique for our
time. Babuji further refined the daily practices of Sahaj Marg, and passed
the art of pranahuti on to Chariji.
Are the introductory sittings not considered initiation? Does initiation
exist in Sahaj Marg? If so, why does Master initiate some abhyasis and
The introductory sittings are just that: an introduction to the practice.
By definition, you can become an abhyasi only by following the practice
or abhyas yourself. Introduction does not mean initiation.
Initiation traditionally has implied that there is a lifelong or even eternal
bond of responsibility established between the Guru and his disciple. Suppose
initiation does occur these days in Sahaj Marg. Should we not leave it
to the Master to decide when we are ready? Initiation is the prerogative
of the Master, not the disciple. A four-year-old child may declare that
she is ready to get married, and her father will smile and suggest that
perhaps she should wait a while.
A second understanding of "initiation" might be the beginning
of the movement of the soul, or yatra, in Point One of the heart region,
indicating a shift to a new level of consciousness. This initiation happens
when sufficient interest is developed in the spiritual pursuit, and the
spiritual heart of an abhyasi begins to soften and open to the Master's
grace. Initiation in this sense happens when the time is right, whereas
introduction is what happens when we start Sahaj Marg with three sittings.
Please describe this "yatra" or journey.
How do we know our position or approach, that is, at which Point we are
supposed to be?
Please see Babuji's Towards Infinity for a discussion of the yatra.
As far as knowing our own "position," we cannot, just as we cannot
see our own faces without some external help. For this, the Master can
serve as our mirror.
Knowing "position" or "approach" is of no use for most
abhyasis. Chariji has said himself that he never bothered about it when
he was an abhyasi; for him it was enough that he was obeying his Master!
It is fine for us to take an interest in the spiritual process and try
to verify as much as we are able to for ourselves, but anxiety or pride
or disappointment over their so-called approach has proved disastrous for
many abhyasis. The Source has no Points, no chakras. At that stage, there
is no yatra, no moksha, no delusion, no enlightenment, no "master,"
no "abhyasi," no human, no divine, no samadhi, no maya, no Sahaj
Marg, no Shri Ram Chandra Mission, no past, no present, no future.
Try to imagine that Stage.