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Happiness is our nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside - Ramana Maharshi

Q & A: How to keep experience of pure consciousness illuminating?
Dear Mr. Joshi,

I have been born in the West but an early and deep meeting with my own death, an accident at 17, set me out on the path of learning who or what I really am, what this life and this cosmos really is, and what best to do about living in a sensible way coherent with such knowledge. This physical event put the emphasis on the deepest level of consciousness, the Turiya consciousness of the Mandukya Upanishad, the pure consciousness, the divine witness of the world, though I didn't know or understand this at the time, since my own culture denies such consciousness even exists. This can be the most hopeless situation imaginable for an awakened soul: discovering that most people around oneself, including one's own family, deny the very existence of their own deepest self, and expect one to do the same, even though one has discovered it.

It took me many years after this experience of awakening to find the Indian tradition, the only one which has offered me solid, old, knowledge and terms to make sense of my own spiritual experience. I met a Vaisnava guru, Paramadvaiti Swami, initiated by Bhaktivedanta Swami (Prabhupad), and who after his Guru's death received from Bhaktivedanta's peers in India the blessing to go start new missions in North America, where I live. I met him in and spent about six months in two of his temples as a Brahmachari, waking up at 4 am, chanting all day and doing service for his Bhakti Yoga mission. The study of the Bhagavad Gita, eagerly read over and over in those months, convinced me that the old tradition from India has the best knowledge to explain reality as I understand it, and not just to explain it, but to make sense of it and help me organize my life and my path according with it.

Even though Paramadvaiti Swami gave me Deeksha, the life at the temple and at his service finally seemed impossible to embrace in a permanent way. My path had begun almost fifteen years before meeting him, and it seems only logical that it couldn't stop short with him if he couldn't help me make sense of the whole of it. I ended up leaving the temple. The years after the experience at the temple, have been spent in University furthering my studies of Western Philosophy (the deepest level of understanding of my own birth culture). At this point I enjoy great freedom, I work at home. I have married a beautiful woman with whom we have shared the past ten years looking for Spirit and who understands very deeply what this means. She works at home with me, so we have very few distractions, and can meditate on all this constantly. We plan to carry our meditation and consciousness to the end. The mind fixed on pure Consciousness, as the Gita says.

So we now find ourselves at a delicate spot. We have arrived at some teachings from the Advaita Vedanta tradition, through lessons that have been posted online, by a swami from the Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Sarvapriyananda. These are lectures at IIT Kanpur, directed to young Indian students, but behold, they come all the way to us, and we can listen almost directly. Sarvapriyananda Swami has brought to our attention the Upanishads, starting with the Mandukya Upanishad, and this has taken us to starting to learn more about Advaita Vedanta. In my years studying Philosophy, I have met a Western scholar (the only one who actually made sense to me) who taught me of Shankara Acharya and Advaita, and a whole system by Plotinus, a third century Western sage, to translate this philosophy, maybe by now the only officially recognized point of connection of Western Philosophy with our lost origins in the East. But now the knowledge of Advaita starts to come, through Swami Sarvapriyananda, through IIT Kanpur's effort, and through the Internet, directly from India. This tradition seems very close to the way I understand things, and since a Western translation system exists for it, it also makes a lot of sense to pursue this tradition, because it seems practical to keep a necessary connection with my mother culture, which it seems futile to pretend I can just break up with (the dream of leaving everything and going somewhere else being a possibility but probably not the path for this lifetime yet, not something to be done hastily at least).

This takes me to my question, or questions. What to do now with my renewed impulse to learn more from the old traditions of India, to nourish from that old source our independent spiritual path? Does my initiation with Paramadvaiti Swami really mean it's wrong to look beyond what he taught me? My relationship with Paramadvaiti Swami's family is a bit stuck now at the level of either serving their material mission or feeling like a bit of a traitor, and I feel they can't help me go further with the kind of knowledge that resonates with my way of understanding the world, especially knowledge of pure consciousness and work done to empower that. So it is that with a renewed desire then I have started looking, and I have found Sarvapriyananda Swami, and your site, and many other resources, which make me feel like small branches of the tradition from India are actually reaching out, through the same technology with which I am trying to reach out. What to do? Would it be good to look for other (Diksa) Gurus, or to try to approach the Advaita tradition, or to just study by myself, meditating with my wife, just using the Internet to independently study more? Or perhaps even if it feels wrong I have a duty to go back to Paramadvaiti swami and see where following his family work leads me? The challenge now is to improve the spiritual life at our home, to establish a better spiritual discipline, to go to the next level, to keep the contemplation of consciousness illuminating thought and action, and get closer to goodness, bliss and liberation in the decades ahead.

I see you are an honest man and, like myself, through your work you have learned not to be scared of the digital medium. You seem to offer your advice generously. I have written this at dawn, in my terrace, in a spirit of meditation, hoping to ask an honest question to an honest man born in India, who follows his Indian path but who seems to have some understanding of the culture where I incarnated in this body.

I hope you may have some advice for this lone practitioner, and thank you very much in advance for your generous attention.



Olivier (Name changed), Canada

Your email gave me a divine joy.

You are on the right track. In my view, you don't need to go anywhere or seek any Guru. Just continue contemplation and sustained thinking. Read as many source of divinity as you can. Bhagvad Gita is excellent source. You are a Karma Yogi in that. There is no traitor in the path of spirituality. Gurus do not impose things, rules or discipline on disciple. You will have many Gurus in the life. Whenever there is a need you will receive help. Some help will be visible some will be invisible. God does not tell Bhakta how he helped him, nor does he seek any kind of credit or recognition. Learn to look at everyone as a Guru. He/she is there to teach you something. Something that you should do (from a pure person) or you should-not-do (from a criminal or an emotional person). Shri Guru Dattatreya had 24 Gurus and one of them was a prostitute.

My answer will appear simple, but that is exactly what you need - meaning of freedom in divinity. Dont try to bind yourself to any one Guru. You are doing good progress. Don't think you should go away from the world to gain something. Most of the times Bhakta is progressing, he just does not know it.

Spiritual progress is about dis-proving what you learnt in prior step and to realize new things on the next step, that will be disproved again. Most of the journey is in the dark...but as you will see the light you will have less and less doubts. Doubts will be there until it is dark. Enlightenment is not "on-and-off" switch. It is a process just like morning. Light spreads slowly as son of knowledge rises. 4 Stages of Siddha Yoga (it is same for all Yogas). Kundalini is active in all Yogas.

Do not expect others to understand what consciousness is. They are at their stage of development....wherever they are. 99.99% Indians don't even understand anything what you are saying. Everyone is living by their Samskaras that they developed over thousands of lives. You cannot wipe them out nor can you give them the knowledge.

Even God or Guru cannot give experience of divinity. We have to achieve it by walking millions of steps of the journey. Here is what happens before enlightenment dawns. Three views but everything happens together because you cannot achieve one without the other.

1) There is no hope, desire or greed left in the person. 2) Mind and sub-conscious is completely destroyed 3) Karma is diminished as you purify yourself.

Swami Sivananda says : "The aspirant should be free from hope, desire and greed. Then only will he have a steady mind. Hope, desire and greed make the mind ever restless and turbulent; they are the enemies of peace and self-¬knowledge. He should not have many possessions. He can keep only those articles which are absolutely necessary for the maintenance of his body. If there are many possessions the mind will be ever thinking of the articles and attempting to protect them. Those who want quick progress in meditation during seclusion should not keep any connection with the world by way of correspondence, reading newspapers or thinking of the family members and possessions."

The source is within you and that is guiding you at every step. You are traveling alone. Divinity is with you every step. You will receive help when there is need to otherwise everything will remain quiet. It will create doubt that whether you are progressing or not...but believe me you are. One step at a time.

There will be people who will help you sometimes (just to prove to your mind that there is someone helping or guiding you)...but all the help is coming from the same source. There will be point of time your mind will stop seeking guidance. It will be walking in the direction when you see the Goal. Still it is millions of miles away.

There is lot of info on my site...keep reading sometime if you can. It will help.

Ask if you have doubts. But remember, your goal is a state where there are no questions...so that no answers are required. You will reach there. Just keep walking (sustained thinking and contemplation....nothing different than what you do daily.)

Hope this helps.

Thank you.
Mahendra Joshi

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Q & A: How to keep experience of pure consciousness illuminating? Topics: Moksha, Nirvana and Guru, Spritual Master, God

Yoga is an exact science. It aims at the harmonious development of body, mind and soul. Everyone should follow one Yoga as their primary Yoga (based on their character). Then we must combine Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Gyan Yoga. This “Yoga Synthesis” will lead one to the God.
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Kundalini Yoga is also known by the names: Siddha Yoga, Sahaj Yoga, Shaktipat Yoga, Maha Yoga, Shakti Yoga or Kriya Yoga