One day my close friend called me to inform that Swamiji was at Ahmedabad and he had agreed to come over for dinner at his home. My friend invited me along with some others for dinner and knowledge session with Swamiji. I was delighted because I had tremendous respect for Swamiji.
I remembered the day when I first met Swamiji. It was way back in the year 2000. It was the last day of my first ‘Advance Course’ at Surat. Swamiji had graced that course as a guest of honor and gave a small talk to the participants. He told us how fortunate we were to be on this beautiful path shown by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. He shared that, before coming to ‘Art of Living’, he had practiced many different types of Spiritual techniques (Sadhana). Some of those techniques were so tough that, it was like undergoing major surgery without anesthesia. In contrast, the path of ‘Art of Living’ was like operation under complete anesthesia. The patient doesn’t even realize that he is being operated. It is a path of smiles and laughter. It is a path of celebration. I was deeply moved by Swamiji’s words. Over the years I have realized the truth behind his words.
That day, the knowledge session with Swamiji was amazing. We were a small group of 8-10 people, so it was more like a one-to-one question-answer session. During discussions many of our doubts got cleared. Someone asked something regarding meditation. While explaining, Swamiji told that meditation is nothing but complete awareness. He said that many people lose their body awareness during meditation, their spine and head stoops down while meditating. According to Swamiji this was not meditation.
I was totally confused. I had seen many senior ‘Art of Living’ teachers meditating with their heads bent down. I vainly tried to argue with Swamiji that even Gurudev’s head bends down when he goes into meditation during Satsang. But Swamiji was very firm on his opinion. I was puzzled. I knew that Swamiji was a very learned, rational and down-to-earth person. He had many years of spiritual experience behind him. He was a revered personality in ‘Art of Living’ circles as well as outside. He couldn’t be wrong. I also remembered Gurudev himself saying that, “A mind in the present moment is meditation.” Being in present moment is being totally aware. So, Gurudev’s statement was also corroborating with Swamiji’s views on meditation. However, this doubt about meditation kept nagging at the back of my mind for many days.
Advance Meditation Program
After a few months, luckily I got an opportunity to attend 7-days ‘Advance Meditation Program’ (AMP) in presence of Gurudev at Bangalore Ashram. By that time, I had almost forgotten about Swamiji’s visit and my doubts about meditation. But by some strange coincidence (as usual?), Gurudev cleared all my doubts on the very first day of reporting at Bangalore Ashram. Being Sunday, the Satsang was in the open amphitheater. During Satsang, Gurudev led everyone into a very beautiful meditation with eyes partially open during the meditation. It was ‘eyes open’ meditation with complete awareness. Gurudev told that this was Sakshi meditation (witness meditation).
Gurudev said, in Sakshi meditation, you are simultaneously witnessing all that is happening inside and outside. Like a candle (diya) kept on the boundary wall, your awareness lights both inside and outside environment simultaneously. With the practice of Sakshi meditation your awareness sharpens. Your intellect sharpens. But if you keep on practicing only Sakshi meditation, you may become dry. You will not get the juice (ras) of life.
Gurudev then explained about Laya meditation. In Laya meditation, one dissolves totally. It is like meditating while getting totally engrossed in the music of Satsang. Even Sahaj Samadhi meditation, as taught in ‘Art of Living’ courses is a Laya meditation. In this type of meditation, the mind becomes no mind. If you keep on practicing only Laya meditation you will definitely get happiness and peace of mind but you may not have that sharpness of intellect which is desired of a meditator. So we should have a combination of both Laya and Sakshi.
Gurudev said, “For a seeker it is essential that the mind is alert and awake, at the same time emotions are also alive.” I suddenly realised that, the combination of ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ followed by ‘Sahaj Samadhi Meditation’, as given by Gurudev, is a beautiful combination of ‘Sakshi’ and ‘Laya’. During ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ the awareness is effortlessly focussed on the breath. Breath is always going on in the present moment. By following the breath, mind comes in present moment. So during ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ the consciousness automatically becomes ‘witness consciousness.’ On the other hand, ‘Sahaj Samadhi’ is an effortless Laya meditation. During ‘Sahaj Samadhi’ meditation, mind simply dissolves with the help of the ‘mantra’.
On that particular day, it was extremely hot outside. After the Sakshi meditation by Gurudev, many felt that the weather has suddenly become bearable. Gurudev said that a Yogi is not perturbed by hot or cold. For a Yogi hot weather or cold weather both are same.
In the evening miraculously there were clouds in the sky and there was thunder and rain. Temperatures fell by around 5-6 degrees. Weather became very pleasant. Next day, one of the participants thanked Guruji for rains. Guruji said, “The key was in acceptance. During Sakshi meditation, you accepted the extremely hot weather. As soon as you stopped resisting the hot weather, it changed.”
….to be continued
II Jai Guru Dev I|