‘Running through these changes is one single theme: all our desires are coming together, merging in one intense, wholehearted, undivertible passion for Self-realization. This unification of desire is the very essence of sadhana.’ — Eknath Easwaran
If you would have told me fifteen years ago that one day I would have a Guru, spend my time in Indian ashrams and consider renouncing everything for my spiritual path, I would have laughed at you. I was extremely ambitious, and my idea of success was built all around worldly achievement. What I did was who I was and this was how I defined myself. Later, when I started to practice yoga and become more self-aware, I realized that the driving force behind all of this was insecurity. I didn’t feel good enough or lovable just ‘being’ – I had to earn that recognition, not only from others, but especially from myself. Looking back, it was a very stressful existence.
An emotional breakdown at the age of thirty-two changed all of that. That was the junction at which my journey into spiritual life really started, hence I call that period my breakthrough. Life became calmer and actually more creative because the creativity started to come from a different, more authentic place. Creating is as natural as breathing to me, but I don’t have to prove myself anymore. What a relief!
Inadvertently, yoga has changed me from the inside out, without my planning for it or even noticing it while it happened. Like most people, I started yoga for physical reasons. Now, some eight years later, my life has changed beyond recognition and become yoga. Not yoga in its somewhat limited, physical sense of asanas and pranayama, though this is part of it, but yoga in the way of union. Union with what? Union of our limited small self with the vast limitless Self. Union with the paramatman, the ‘Supreme Soul’, with the Divine, with everything there is. I have understood and, more importantly, experienced that this is really what all yoga practices lead towards.
Yes, asanas bring us peace of mind, relaxation, ability to deal with the world in a calmer way. But if you really delve deeper into the practices, especially those of meditation and the more devotionally inspired sadhanas such as kirtan chanting and fire ceremonies, something else happens. The veil of ignorance that surrounds our vision starts to lift. We begin to see things as they really are, and the filter that is made up of our experiences and conditionings starts to melt away. Maybe for glimpses at first, but then, slowly but surely, for longer sustained amounts of time.
And then, at least for me, something else started to happen. So many of my desires and ambitions started to fall away. Things that were important for so long just didn’t matter anymore. Not in a negative sense, but in a liberating way. It was all replaced by the overwhelming desire to delve deeper into my spiritual path, to surrender myself completely to the Divine because I have realized that this is all that really matters. To me, the purpose of life is this ‘union’, the realization that we are in fact not the small drop but the big ocean. That bliss is our true nature and that we are caught in an admittedly very beautiful web of illusion. And when we understand this, peace, joy and boundless freedom start to replace fear, anger, anxiety, insecurity, judgement and all the other culprits that so often make life a misery. We begin to understand that everything is perfect as it is, whether we perceive it as ‘good’ or bad’, but that we simply can’t see it most of the time.
And when that happens, it’s like a big ‘aha’ moment. Like, wow! I am THAT and not this? How could I have forgotten? What a divine comedy! And indeed, when I look back now over my journey that has often been so filled with pain, struggle and illusion, I just want to laugh with delight. How wonderfully perfect everything is and always has been! Sure, I still forget from time to time and my mind gets caught up in the illusion. But it doesn’t last as long now. When I sit down, breathe in and out for a few times, I soon remember again that everything is perfect, divine grace.