Jun 3, 2015

THE MASTER WITHIN



When I first started practicing Sahaj Marg, I had no idea of the vast wealth that awaited me. Sometimes I would hear new elements about the practice or new information about the spiritual journey and think, why has no one mentioned this before? One fellow aspirant put it beautifully. She told me that we come to new information as we’re ready to assimilate it. Her words were important for me to hear, as sometimes I can get into an all-or-nothing approach. I can want to know everything right away and can forget that all worthy endeavors are a gradual process.

One aspect of Sahaj Marg a number of us in the West confront is the concept of “the Master”. People kept talking about “Master” after group meditation, and frankly I was confused about what this whole master business was about. There was Master, the man, Charji Maharaj, who was living in India whom I hadn’t met. He was the president of the Mission, and someone whose speeches we heard a lot. Then there was the Master within – the eternal divine presence. This was the Master we prayed to, the Divine Source that I found a new experiential relationship with as I progressed. Why, then, were people using the words so interchangeably, and did they mean that this Chariji person was God?

I suspect many Westerners can understand why the idea of having a guru may seem strange or intimidating. Having grown up without any precedence for actively seeking a guru in my life, I tried to wrap my mind around the situation. Try as I may, instead I learned my mind was an insufficient tool for the job and found solace instead, within my heart.

Who was this Chariji/Master fellow? I respected him, to be sure. I struggled sometimes with what he said in his speeches, but in a way that would make me truthfully examine the premises by which I led my life. His words engaged me to live in greater integrity to my personal development. He would emphasize how meditation can help us spiritually, but it is our responsibility to adjust our character. My character was already benefiting so much from the practice, I felt encouraged to be more reflective and slowly unlearn negative character traits. I could already feel myself improving over the months. Often after meditation there would be a huge sense of relief and calm. The sadness and anxiety that had plagued my young adulthood slowly loosened its grip, and would eventually drop off completely. I could tell I was more patient with my coworkers and more trusting in my life.

About eight months into my practice was when I finally understood why everyone was going on and on about this man. There would be group meditations on birth anniversaries of the three Masters. On July 24th, 2012, we celebrated Charji Maharaj’s 85th birthday at our small center in Los Angeles. During that meditation, I felt my heart fill with love in a way I had never experienced before. It was a surge of gentle beauty. I felt gratitude and elation course through my deepest being. My eyes welled with tears. Oh, this is what everyone has been talking about, I thought. Happy birthday. The beauty was that his birthday present was his gift to me – a simple gift of divine love.

It would be another year before I met him in person. There was a gathering in India in August 2013 for North Americans. Chariji was no longer travelling due to his ill health. The meditations in that time were undeniably potent. The first satsangh he conducted was another deep experience I will always carry with me. There was something very special about this being, I was only beginning to glimpse.

A few days into the gathering, a mentor of mine took me to meet Chariji in person. I was crouched in front of his wheelchair a she introduced me by name. I held her hand with my left as he shook my right. The words exchanged were of little consequence. Though I had seen him countless times in pictures, on videos, and now in a group gathered for meditation or for a talk, this was the first time I ever made eye contact with him. When I looked at his face, I experienced something I wish I knew how to aptly describe. My eyes couldn’t fix on his features. His face was ungraspable as an image. It was like peering into a vast expanse I could barely begin to perceive.

I sat at his feet for the duration of his visit outside his cottage. My experience was like being under water. Everything slowed down. Things were both muted and still yet crystal clear and sharp. I felt a joy I had never known. Would I could cherish this feeling forever. Would I could plunge into the depths beyond imagination. When we dispersed, I walked around the ashram in radiant delirium.


Chariji Maharaj has said he isn’t in the business of gathering disciples, but rather of creating masters. The Master in Sahaj Marg is one who has mastered himself and guides others to do the same. Our individual masterhood is our connection to the divine as far as possible in this lifetime. Kamlesh D. Patel has since said that Sahaj Marg isn’t a guru-based system; it is a practice-based system. We sit quietly, introspectively, to connect to the Divine within. The potent efficacy of this simple method has given me the tools to approach a full, balanced life. 


5 comments

  1. Love your writing....look forward to more!

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  2. Thank you, Elizabeth :) Feel free to sign up for posts via email or visit the Facebook page to keep up to date.

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  3. I love this line, "Chariji Maharaj has said he isn’t in the business of gathering disciples, but rather of creating masters."

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