I always had this feeling that there is more to life than whatever is there on the surface. However without the guidance from a realized Guru, I did not know what it is that I was seeking. I just had a longing to know more and be more than what I was. There are a series of fortunate accidents and well intentioned actions which steered me in this direction.
Our country has had a strong spiritual tradition with ancient roots. However most of us, especially the young educated Indians have lost touch with these traditions. We have been indoctrinated from a young age into becoming apologetic about out past and looking to the west for all our answers. I was no exception to this and started searching for answers in the works of Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Bertrand Russell, Albert Camus et al. Intellectually they had sound arguments which appealed to my mind but insofar as improving my experience of life, they didn’t help much.
I however found comfort in the works of Marcus Aurelius & Seneca who advocated stoicism which had a central tenet of enduring hardship without complaint. This along with my interest in transforming my physical self through intense strength training drove me for a few years. I had always been overweight and I thought once I underwent a drastic physical transformation, I would be happy. However once I had achieved the physical transformation I had wanted,I was again left longing for more to life.
In between all this exploration, I did read some books on mindfulness and meditation. Zen koans did stir up something I could not understand within me, but it was always very transitory. I also tried ‘meditation’ from books and videos but could never sit quietly for more than a few minutes. I was longing to feel the ‘bliss’ that all these texts talked about.
When I achieved some of my physical, academic and career goals, I realized the inherent futility of these goals. They could make me comfortable, even happy on occasion but not blissful. Then I decided in earnest to learn ‘meditation’ properly. I stumbled upon Sadhguru on Youtube and saw the video on ‘Inner Engineering‘. His articulation and ability to explain things in a logical manner appealed to my rational side. I attended the program a month later and started doing the practices.
After doing the practices for a week, I could feel a shift in the way I experienced life. There were certain days when I was happy without a reason. I was less anxious about the future and not so worried about the past. Being someone who is very analytical about life, this was a liminal moment for me. I now realized there was so much more that was there to explore. However, being impatient as always I wanted to accelerate this process of change. I started devouring books on the subject of yoga and started searching for the fastest way to transform.
I learnt Surya Kriya, an ancient and powerful Hatha Yoga practice by Isha. I also learnt Shakti Chalana Kriya & Shoonya meditation at IYC, Coimbatore. Shoonya is an advanced meditation course offered by Isha and it is a process of conscious non-doing while Shakti Chalana Kriya is a pranayama practice. I had flashes of profound silence and stillness during the Shoonya practice. While all the Isha practices are very potent, my experiences were not very consistent and used to vary in intensity. Doing all the practices started taking 3-4 hours everyday. The Shoonya was to be done during the afternoons which was a bit difficult as I had find a quiet room where I wouldn’t be disturbed. Many a times I ended up forgoing lunch to ensure I don’t miss the practice.There were also emotional upheavals at times during this year for me . Somewhere I knew that this was going to be unsustainable for me and I knew there has to be another way.
Enlightened beings have prescribed several different paths depending on the temperament and the readiness of the student. I had also read how despite all the efforts made by a person it is only Guru kripa or Guru’s grace which can lead to realization.While I persevered with the practices, somewhere deep down I longed for a personal Guru who could guide me through the difficult phases that would come in my Sadhana.