Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sun, 24 Jun 2012 04:01:11 GMT
From 1973, the summer of my junior year in high school, through 1982, I imbibed a lot of recreational drugs. This ended with free-base cocaine (later called "crack"), during November and December of 1982. On New Year's eve of 1982 (just before 1 January, 1983), I found myself without desire for the first time ever, and the drugs just dropped off. Didn't want them any more. Shortly thereafter, I got the first actual command I remember ever getting from my subconscious: stop eating meat. So I did. In March, at a bookstore in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA), I found a poster with a photo of Lalaji, the adi-guru (originator) of the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga. I called the number on the poster, and went for my first "sitting" with the 11-year-older-than-me "preceptor" who was within walking distance of the 6-person-and-6-cat shared house where I was living at the time.
Sahaj Marg (the natural path) is meditation on divine light in the heart, supported by pranahuti, yogic transmission. The transmission comes through preceptors, people who have been opened up as channels by the master. The practice consists of an hour of meditation in the morning, half an hour of "cleaning" in the evening, a short prayer before bed, and "constant remembrance", what the sufis call "zikr", and what Brother Lawrence called The Practice of the Presence of God (Kindle edition). In addition, abhyasis (practicants) are recommended to take a weekly individual sitting with a preceptor and to attend weekly satsang, group meditation, also with a preceptor. I felt the transmission right away, being ripe at the time. Some people take a little while to feel it. I took to my practice like water to one lost in the desert on finding an oasis.
I practiced Sahaj Marg religiously from 1983 until I was married in 1991. Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj of Shahjahanpur (Babuji), the founder of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), was the master when I started, but he left his body in April of 1983, and Partasarathi Rajagopalachari (Chari) took over. Chari visited the US in 1985, 1986, 1987, and a number of times afterwards, and the US Mission grew and grew. I went to all of the US visits, and also traveled to be with Chari in France and Denmark.
I discovered fairly quickly after my first sittings that nobody remembered putting up a poster with Lalaji's picture. I saw plenty of posters with Babuji's picture, but none with Lalaji's. The one I saw was apparently for me alone. Namaste.
From 1991 to 1995, I still did my practice regularly, but without the same urgency as before. It slowly dwindled until 2006, when I stopped completely. Political blogging had moved my focus from spirit to anger to hate.
Over the last month, I missed a week of work due to burnout (what I used to call "coffee lobotomy" and what I think is probably adrenal over-exertion), excruciatingly twisted my ankle four times, was hit by a financial bomb of my medical insurance deductible going way up, and was feeling tired, depressed, and suicidal a lot. Finally, last Tuesday, the idea came to drop the politics, defriend on Facebook everybody I haven't met in person, slow down, and resume my Sahaj Marg practice. I called my old preceptor, who's been leading satsang on Tuesday nights in Troy since Babuji visited there in 1978, and he introduced me to a preceptor only 35 minutes from my house. The practice starts with three sittings over three days. My wife, surprisingly, decided to start with me. We took our first two sittings yesterday and today, and plan to take the third tomorrow.
I'm now spending the hour I used to spend on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Google Reader, and web surfing in morning meditation, and I'm feeling much more balanced and happy. Amazing what a small change can do. I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with my Sahaj Marg family.
I live at The Abode of the Message, a sufi spiritual community in the Berkshires of upstate New York. Moved here when I got married, 21 years ago. It's a retreat center, with lots of gatherings on the mountain in the summer. Yet I was inviting all the ugliness of the outer world into my home every day, via the internet. How dumb was that? Well, no more. Blessed Be!