Lightness of being
Intro: Years after the sacred ceremony of initiation into the spiritual order, the journey is dotted by newer awakening each moment in the presence of the Master
By Anuradha Vashisht
A fierce downpour lashed at the windshield on that cold January evening, imparting it an unpleasant chill. I blindly drove to my destination as the wipers gave way. I couldn’t tell if the traffic jam ahead came as a blessing or a frustrating hurdle on the way. I must have looked at my watch a thousand times in the hour that I was stuck in the long queue of vehicles. Just 10 minutes from the destination, and I seemed so far! “Turn back,” urged my mind, “it is too late now.” But only if my heart would listen.
Finally, I reached. To my relief, the hall was not so crowded, and people kept streaming in much later than I did. Rain, it seemed, had caught everyone by surprise.
I tried hard to collect all my thoughts, my emotions, my fidgetiness, and focus on this persona in front of me. His pure white attire, the contrasting string of dark rudraksha beads, the rich, flowing beard, the neatly set peppered and thick curly hair, his deep penetrating eyes, all were as much a distraction as comfortingly attractive. Nagging doubts nibbled at my mind’s corners as my heart vainly tried to put them at rest.
Barely had the mind settled down when a wail echoed across the hall. Timing could never have been so imperfect. My baby was hungry by now. I froze in embarrassment as my eyes met the annoyance and irritation of the people around. I glanced at my mother who I found equally disturbed.
Next moment I was in front of the podium. One little infant was wailing in my arms, another three-year-old towed along. “I think this little one is disturbing everyone. May I come tomorrow? I’ll come alone,” I pleaded as I bowed down for his blessings. There couldn’t have been more mundane first words addressed to my would-be Guru, I later recalled.
As he looked up at me, I felt a tender understanding in his gaze, which was reassuring a disturbed mother. “Yes. Come tomorrow,” he said, simply, “and take the initiation.” And he turned towards the gathering.
Next evening was a crucial day for me—the most important day of this life—the day of my initiation. Throughout the excitement and the nervousness, as I got ready to go, and till I reached the venue—35 kms from my place—I tried in vain to calm the nerves.
Once I reached, I was more composed. It was only the second time I was setting my eyes on him. I knew nothing about him. Who he was, from where he had come, for how long he was initiating people into his kind of Yoga? And it never crossed my mind to know, or ask these questions. They were as irrelevant then, as they are today.
There came a moment during the satsang when the whole body and everything connected with it—the mind, the heart, the ‘I’—got dissolved. A deep silence alone remained—the only reality. Whatever remnants of doubts I had just fizzled away. And I knew in an instant that He alone was the One who would take the responsibility of the onward journey of my soul.
“I will now breathe through you all and prove that all humanity breathes but one breath. I will breathe through each and everyone of you here and show you that each one of us are connected,” his deep voice echoed through the silence.
I inhaled one deep breath and then it wouldn’t stop. I looked at my breath as it lengthened and deepened with each passing moment. There seemed no end to it. I was on a roller coaster ride. But I was totally aware. I knew I was not breathing. I had no control over it. I couldn’t stop inhaling when I wanted to, and I didn’t will to expel my breath. Yet it was happening. Someone else was breathing for me. Someone else had the controls. I gradually started to flow with the breath, flow with the experience, flow with the unknown. Till the unknown became the known and I became the unknown.
The group was gently got back to their own known self; their own familiar breath. Even the most die-hard rationalists had got an experience. Their raised hands testified to it.
But what an experience it was?! Since childhood I had heard this statement coming from all directions: ‘We all breathe the same breath; we are all one’. But no one could prove the truth of this statement. No one could tell me how. Today, no one preached to me about it. The question never came to me. The experience did.
I required no proof thereafter. I knew now how valuable my breath was to me. The moment I started to witness my breath thereafter I felt connected to the Life Force, the Creator.
Meanwhile, a deep and awesome silence permeated every iota of space in the hall. The Guru’s voice, laced with sarcasm, shook us from the stupor: “You cannot spend 18 minutes in a day for Him. You have no time for God. What if He says I do not have time for you, and stops breathing for you even for eight minutes? Where will you be?”
It had never hit so hard.
He came straight to the point, and he has always done so over the years, without beating around the bush. “You have a long way to go; there is no time for frills. So just sit where you are and meditate.” Every moment that day and each moment ever after in his presence has been a moment of constant initiation, a moment of awakening, a moment of reckoning.
I knew I was already initiated, through the breath he breathed through us, but the sacred ceremony remained. The unmistakable solemnity of the occasion prepared me to receive the divine grace in all humility. It was an overwhelming experience for me, as the Satguru touched my spine and whispered the blessed words into my ear to initiate me into the Mahavatar Babaji Kriya Yog.
As I went back to my asan, a surge of warm current flashed through my spine. Next moment, before I could fully absorb the experience, I was swathed in a strong cold current, which sent shafts of shivers through my body. I was chilled to the bone. The overpowering experience of what I saw with my closed eyes plummeted me to the depths of the unknown, which strangely appeared familiar, and my whole being responded with a gush, a torrent of tears.
Gradually I felt the familiar body warmth returning.
For a few days after the initiation, almost childishly, I tried to shut out everything of the material world, so that nothing could touch or approach that precious experience. Its diaphanous quality made it so vulnerable to the worldly influences. And fragile it was, since soon its intoxicating effects started to wear out, and what was so resoundingly real etched in the mind as merely another experience.
But there was restlessness, a certain tribulation, gnawing at the heart.
So I returned to my Guru. That day I received another powerful shaktipat from him, as did many others in the congregation—initiation into the Hamsa Yog. He taught the technique which later revealed to me as an antidote to everything connected with this world and its affairs, with the body and the mind.
Thereafter, being with the Hamsa breath, all restlessness ceases, all questions dissolve. Lightness of being alone remains.
And the three lotuses that he bestowed upon us—green, golden and the opal—continue to infuse me with their fragrance and take me to the evermore refined heights of awareness, and helping me cross over the subtler layers to reach the no-mind state.