How do you guys manage to do it? I’d often ask. I only got a smile in response. The smile conveyed a lot.
Context is king and I’ll set the context using that question as an example. I’m a fitness enthusiast and I’ve been battling the bugle earnestly for a few years now. My trainers, they have no trouble gaining or losing their weight. They do it at will. Their smiles reveal a simple secret. Hard and smart work. A thorough understanding of how their bodies work. Sweat and Consistency helps them reap the benefits.
To me, it’s still nothing short of magic. I lack the conviction to go all the way. I have my array of excuses. It’s hard. It’s tough. I work and I don’t have the time to dedicate myself to the cause. I’m cold and sick. The well of excuses never runs dry. Long story short, ‘they’ are able to do it because they understand the clockwork better. I struggle because my efforts are scattered and so is my investment to the cause.
Autobiography of a yogi is a book that houses a wealth of spiritual knowledge. I feel compelled to soak myself with thoughts about it. I am excited to pour my thoughts about it. Honesty is the right way to make a start. With honesty, I shall.
The fact that everybody in the book seemed to live with the universe, the astral travel, the peaceful realization of oneness with the universe, the energies, the power of meditation, I believe in most of them. Some, I couldn’t. Instead of trivialising it as ‘Not possible’ or as ‘Fantasy’, I paused to ask myself a simpler question. Do I have trouble believing because I don’t understand how things can work, or is it because I don’t think things are possible? I feel fortunate to acknowledge that I lack the skills required to understand the clockwork. Just like I lacked in the scenario of the gym. I made peace with my ignorance and accepted that I still have a long way in my journey.
With my scepticism addressed, my heart feels lighter and conscience a little more clear, I can now focus on bliss of the things that I managed to learn.
Power of faith:
There are days when I question my delusion about meditation and the universe. Did I ever witness the vast universe at play or did I manage to appease my delusion. I still don’t have an answer to that question. What I have is the ability to believe. That, to me, seems to be crucial enough. A battle cannot be won when there are doubts seeded in the heart. How can one pursue the universe and experience the singularity that the universe is, if we ourselves aren’t certain about their existence. While I cannot substantiate the existence of the spiritual universe, I also don’t care if it’s real or otherwise. I’m not looking for a proof of their being. I’m convinced, beyond doubt, that there are things out there. Beyond my comprehension, beyond my reach. I’d still choose to wander. I ask for the sense to know where my delusion ends and where the truth spans. Someday, I might know that difference.
I strongly believe in this power of faith. Believing in the power of meditation and the power of a still mind. A state of mind where we can visualise the clutter of noise that sits within our minds. A state of ability where we can brave to quieten that clutter. It is only possible if we believe in it.
For a while now, I’ve put my faith around karma. Not in the way where I obsess over good karma and bad ones that I accumulate. I don’t have sight of the ledger and how it pans to balance. I do believe that karma exists. It ties back to the soul. We birth through lives, carrying the learnings and desires of our karma. The good that we do, helps us awaken each birth. The bad karma that we have, keeps us locked in desires and misery. To simplify, when nothing matters to us, that’s the influence of the good karma. When we view life through pain and pleasure, that’s a result of karma which influences our character and the choices that we make across each lifetime. The rule of cause and effect takes precedence. We are therefore locked in a cycle of births and rebirths in effort to either reconcile or compensate the effects of choices made in the past. This also goes to determine the choices that we stand to make in the future. The linearity of time goes for a toss. Our choices impacted by the past, alters both the present and the future. The past itself is corrected, reconciled, healed in the present or the future. Everything converges to this moment. Each moment is therefore a step in a given direction. Any direction.
Contrary to the conversations that I’ve had, based on the words and lives of Baba ji, Lahari Mahasaya, Yukteshwar , Karma is transferable in parts. The masters have absorbed the effects of karma to help their followers. Why them? What makes them special? I don’t have an answer. I can speculate that help is given when help is deserved. We get to decide when we are deserving of that help.
Free will versus Surrender – The question of individuality:
I’ve always struggled to reconcile freewill and surrender. I wouldn’t surrender my freewill and my individuality in favour of unconditional surrender. Unconditional surrender is a step toward the universal singularity. I felt that I was destined to remain forever banished from spiritual progression. Based on Yukteshwar’s discussion with Yogananda, post his resurrection, there is a mention of this said individuality. We retain that version of self as we progress in our spiritual path. When we merge with the singularity, it’s a union of our individuality with the singularity. This is special to me. It taught me a simple lesson. We would continue to be our own self. As we progress, maybe there won’t be anything that differentiates that version of self and the singularity. We strip ego off as we progress. With each iteration, we distil and purify ourselves removing the effects of causes and choices made across the many lives. With each iteration, we start to resemble the singularity. The apex of our pristine pure self, therefore becomes that singularity. Harmonious and homogeneous with the singularity. Freewill and surrender are therefore illusions. There wasn’t anything to fight to hold on to. There isn’t anything left to surrender. The inertia of our life distorts that vision.
Coincidences and people:
The lives of the people called out in the book, they felt connected. It felt as if the lives gravitated towards the inevitability of crossing paths with the masters. In that sense, the lives that we lead, we are predetermined to keep meeting the same set of people, rather souls, across the many lives that we take. The reason is to help us distil the version of ourselves. We meet, not because we have learnt our lessons and healed, but because we still haven’t and are waiting to heal. That’s precisely why we keep meeting the same people. That’s precisely why coincidences orchestrate the journey of our souls. Timing is very important. Don’t get me wrong, when I said timing, I didn’t mean the right opportune moment. I meant, unless we are ready, the timing is always wrong. The minute we are ready, coincidences would direct us towards the inevitable. Healing of the soul is inevitable. It might take longer, it might take a very short duration of time, but that healing is inevitable.
This coincidence, people and karma brings me to understand the game of births. I am not wise enough to call out the reasons yet, but I can fathom a guess. The pains and suffering of this life, the wins and jubilation of this life, they are an outcome of choices made across lives. I suffer because I haven’t woken up to the realization that there is nothing here to suffer over. I rejoice and celebrate because I haven’t realized that the wins and losses are for this body. To a soul, that sees many a lifetimes, what one stands to accomplish from 60 years of a lifetime is still only an incremental step. I don’t mean to trivialise this life or this birth. All I’m guessing is that the nature of choices that we make, matter more than momentary pain or pleasure.
To put things into perspective, the reasons of our birth are unknown to most of us. Our pains and suffering are because of the choices that we’ve made in this life. The answer to the question, ‘Why me?’, ‘What did I do to deserve such a fate’? , I could manage to glimpse a response from the book.
Pain and suffering helps us move away from the inertia of this birth. The pain fuels us to reject this reality and see the illusion that surrounds us. Instead of victimising ourselves over what did we do to deserve the misery this life, it could be seen that a soul has learnt a few-many lessons and it wants us to wake up from the illusion of this life. I do not endorse misery as a way of life, it’s just that, many lives stitched together, the way this life presents; it could be a reflection of what our soul is learning and how much of itself it is healing. By virtue of calling out many lives of the past as a means to impact the life at present, I do not see it as a means to escape from the accountability of this life. All I’m saying is that, we experience joys for a reason. We experience the misery for a reason. That reason, beyond the choices made in this life, are also deeply connected to the progression of the soul.
How we treat the present life, the choices that we go on to make, determines the nature of the cycle or births that a soul is a part of. A spiritual awakening is not the first solution to a lot of us. Some eventually do so. That helps them with the healing process.
Experiencing it all:
The biggest takeaway from the book is around Anubhava. The masters speak about it. What does it mean to experience spirituality? What does it mean to experience the universe? Honestly, I don’t know to articulate it. There are moments of sublime peace that I feel during a meditation. I feel lighter for a while when I awaken. Besides that, I don’t feel anything new or anything different. It brings back to the question on delusion versus truth. We experienced gravity even before we knew what word described it and what that word meant. Similarly, we experience the universe even at a time when we do not have the necessary tools to articulate on it. I’m not talking about astral projections or telepathic means of communication. When in dire need of help, sometimes we do get it from unexpected folks. When we are in need for that strength, we do muster that courage. Somehow. A lot of life lived along the banks of Somehow. The skeptic in me has terms and definitions for them. The spiritual aspirant in me, wants to see this as that ability to suspend doubts and believe that the universe is there to help, if and only if, we are able to channelize our thoughts at it and seek its help. That sure explains how the followers of the masters were able to simplify their lives. Power of faith comes into play. How can we stand to experience in things beyond us, if deep within our hearts we are flowering doubts on the very same things that we also desire to experience? Doubts negate the process. It is one thing to question everything, it’s another to doubt. Questions have answers whereas doubts wait for our perspectives to clear before evaporating away.
The chapter on Yukteshwar’s resurrection was a revelation. It did help me with a few more thoughts on the cycles of life and death. There aren’t just 7 rebirths. In fact there are as many rebirths as required by the soul to heal and distil itself. The astral plane, to my mind, resembles the human view of heaven and hell. While alive, we create a heaven and a hell through our thoughts and energies. When we die, we head out to the astral plane where that thought and view manifests. Each time we die, we spend time in the astral plane before we are born again. I don’t know what we do during that phase.
The karmic ledger probably comes into play. We take a stock of what we still long and desire, the list of lessons that we’ve learnt. Based on them, we birth again, to satisfy the needs of both the soul and the desires carried forward from the previous lives. The popular term is karmic balance. We birth again to pay dues. I see this as a negative connotation. The universe does not want to TEACH us a lesson. It wants our soul to heal. We carry forward the traits and lessons and baggage of each life into the next life. Our ability to heal or otherwise goes on to influence the choices that we would stand to make. The cycle endures.
Another beautiful lesson that I got to learn was along bliss and the complacent nature that it warrants. Beyond the astral plane, there is the causal plane. Beyond the causal plane, there is the Singularity. Souls stagnate at each of those levels. Without reconciliation, souls are tied to physical bodies and we birth and die on Earth. Once in the astral plane, I guess there is more to reconcile. Unless we do that, we aren’t free to enter the causal plane. There, same deal. It does seem like an iterative process of cleansing of the soul before it’s ready for the big union. One thing at a time, I aint ready for any of it yet.
The road ahead is long and I’m not alone.