I live in the presence of God. I treat Him as real, as all there is. I treat His nature as Bliss. That's all. Do it every day, whenever you can, and you will find the little moments of your day will fill with that joyful awareness. I actually gaze upon God, as the One is self-luminant. I have a mantra, that is used to address God, who cannot be addressed by mental concepts. The mantra is your words of love of God. I sing the mantra, and never repeat it idly without attention, contrary to what some other people teach. I whisper it, and I shout it out loud, though these days usually there is no mantra, just awareness...

It is helpful to be involved with a like-minded group, a group with power, to have satsang with them. Read devotional literature, not intellectual ramblings nor dogmatic dictations. Do not practice any techniques that feel unnatural or cause strain of breath or muscle. The only strain you should feel is when you get your lazy ass moving!

"Those who meditate on God in the north, the south, the east, the west, in God before and behind, in God above and below, very quickly attain liberation. The gopis used to meditate like this; wherever they looked they saw Krishna. For the gopis the Yamuna River was Krishna, the bowers and the forests were Krishna, the four directions were Krishna, their husbands were Krishna, their children were Krishna, the cows were Krishna, they themselves were Krishna. Krishna was in their minds, Krishna was in their bodies, Krishna was everywhere. They saw nothing other than Krishna. This kind of meditation is perfect in itself -- you don't have to go to a mountain or a cave." ** page 39.

Shunya's Personal Page
(pronounce "u" as in "put", "a" as in "hut")

This page is going to be a little bit idiosyncratic. My prime concern is to "tell it like it is". Quite frankly, I think there is a lot of crap out there in the new-age marketplace.

But, I'm not concerned about new-age, or old-age, or any age. God is right here, and is all that matters. Let's get one thing straight right from the start; you and I are the same. I'm not a Master, a Guru, or whatever. I created this page to share my experience and insights with you, as we are equal.

There is, however, one difference between me and many other people, in that I have integrated God-awareness into everyday life. That is, I "meditate" spontaneously, and do not follow a regimen. I often feel a bubbling pleasure within myself, and I sing and dance with love for God. So, I guess this natural, or sahaj, state is something that qualifies me to ramble on a bit about spiritual issues.

I do think association is important, as an empathy can develop with the people you associate. I have met a great number of spiritual teachers, and found that I gained something from association with some of them. So yeah, I do believe in the guru-disciple concept.

Here is an approximate chronological sequence of my spiritual odyssey:

  • 1973 Paramahansa Yogananda
  • 1980 Swami Muktananda
  • 1993 Ramana Maharshi

... well, it's not quite that simple. If I was to start from the beginning... in the late '60s I regularly attended an evangelical Christian church, but ...

"The ultimate truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said. Still, it is a wonder that to teach this simple Truth there should come into being so many religions, creeds, methods and disputes among them and so on! Oh the pity! Oh the pity!" * page 92.

My stumbling path

Things got going for me in 1973, when I read Paramahansa Yogananda's classic Autobiography of a Yogi. I joined Self Realisation Fellowship and kept it up with them for several years. However, in my naivety (and stupidity) I was unable to do the techniques very well, and this resulted in considerable strain. I developed breathing problems and muscle tension, the opposite of what is supposed to be achieved! The outcome of it all is that I disapprove strongly of mail-order meditation lessons, at least for someone without any prior personal guidance.

I realise that there are many very happy members of SRF. I have also seen devotees straining their eyeballs and breath, which is very bad. SRF is one of the most sincere organisations around, and I recommend their teachings; it's just that I think the dangers that stupid people like me can stumble into, need to be aired. The lesson is simple; get guidance if there is difficulty -- personal one-to-one guidance. If difficulty persists, by which I mean strain of your breath or body, it is likely some other path suits you.

Choice of a path

Paramahansa Yogananda visited the great sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, in 1935. Yogananda asked:

"How is the spiritual uplift of the people to be affected? What are the instructions to be given them?"

Ramana replied:

"They differ according to the temperaments of the individuals and according to the spiritual ripeness of their minds. They cannot be instructed en masse."

With SRF, I faced a great crisis. I have a natural tendency to be faithful to one purpose, but realised that something had to be done. In India, I met the controversial Guru, Swami Muktananda, which was a turning point for me.

Shakti-pat

In 1980, I travelled to Ganeshpuri, not because I felt any attraction to Muktananda, but because I was exhausted from travelling in India. His ashram seemed like a nice place to rest... On the first morning after arrival, I was introduced to Muktanananda. It was informal; he sat on his dais in the corner of the courtyard, I walked up, and the attendant introduced me. Strangest thing -- I stop here, as some things I don't want to broadcast to the world. The greatest event of my life happened during that first stay in Ganeshpuri; spontaneous Kundalini awakening. It was, however, not what I expected; I recall being very embarassed about a constant arousal, and I recall on the first day lying down on my bunk, and feeling completely new sensations; currents in my spine, plus more embarassment.

What I did not understand then, is the intimate relationship between the sexual urge and Kundalini. Years later, I learnt of similar experiences from other people. The way I view it now, is that when our outward-flowing energy is stimulated to "flow back", from the base of the spine, it hits the first thing ("knot") on the upward journey, and stimulates it.

I had experiences in which I "saw" sparks of light jump up my spine to the head, followed by stillness of mind and profound peace, and from this I came to understand that Kundalini is a double-edged sword. If you follow the mechanics of Kundalini awakening, all kinds of stuff can happen, but it is all based on stimulation of various centres within you, and at the level of phenomenon. It is a matter of where your heart is; if on God, the energy goes to higher centres. For the devotee, Kundalini is not such an issue; it follows automatically.

However, even for someone who considers themslves to be a devotee of God, practices that encourage the Kundalini to rise are extremely advantageous to enhance devotion. Kundalini is the energy of your devotion.

I once met a spiritual teacher who claims that Kundalini is all imagination; I did him the justice of attending a one-day seminar, to digest his point-of-view, however, he is the one who is deluded. Kundalini happens without imposition of imagination!

Spontaneous Kundalini awakening can release a lot of crap, including hallucination, and some strange things happened to some people who met Muktananda.

While on the subject of strange things... India has some very unusual people. In 1986 I met a yogi who demonstrated "samadhi" to me. His technique is incredible; sitting naked, he wraps his penis around a stick, pulls, at the same time doing a certain kind of breathing. He then becomes still, real still. I felt his pulse both before and during the meditation, and while he was in "samadhi" I could not find a pulse. He is highly educated, an engineer, who had found his Guru and left everything. In 1986 he was living in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. This is Kundalini awakening induced by a (rather unorthodox) technique. Don't try it yourself; head my warning about the need for guidance.

The ups and the downs

My poor old flickering Kundalini went back to sleep after awhile. Very common story, as lots of people will attest.

When I was practising the SRF teachings, I regularly saw the light between the eyebrows, in the form of something that looks like a golden pineapple-slice with a white star in the middle. This occurs as a result of the particular techniques they teach.

When I stayed with Muktananda, I quite spontaneously saw the "blue pearl", that Muktananda describes in his autobiography Play of Consciousness. It is a beautiful blue point of light, that flashes before the eyes. That was the first time I ever saw it, and I still see it. It tends to become more frequent when I become more God-centred, and comes at normal times during the day. It is said to be the tiny doorway to Infinity.

Chanting

Chanting and scriptural recitation, as taught by Muktananda, is something really special. Chanting has taken me really High, and recitation of the sanskrit texts, which are sung, has taken me Deep inside. Strongly recommended.

I have, however, been to lots of satsangs, or meeting of devotees, that lacked power. There was very little focus, very little upliftment. Siddha Yoga satsangs, at least in the "old days", had the power. A group that is focused on devotion to God can experience something quite profound, a kind of a group upliftment.

Recommended paths

I cannot say, "do this, do that". See Ramana's comment above.

After Muktananda died, I became disillusioned. Various events occurred that caused me to drift away from Siddha Yoga, though I still think the teachings are fantastic.

Today, I practice my sadhana in isolation, but that is only from the outward perspective, as I feel very very connected internally. It is probably this connectedness that keeps me going, whereas in earlier days I would have floundered.

I only ever met one person other than Muktananda whose power I felt; others who claimed power, I suspected required a large dose of imagination.

I met some Gurus that I felt great respect for, and in one case I felt nothing, even resistance to that person, but somehow afterward I had gained something; her name is Amritanandamayi Devi, or just Ammaji. Her teachings are fantastic, and there is total sincerity in her and the devotees. They have a very inexpensive monthly magazine, Matruvani. Their address is Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust, Amritapuri P.O., Kollam 690 525, Keralam, India. They have other centres around the world. Their path is one of devotion, chanting and karma-yoga. I have heard them use various mantras, including Om Namah Shivaya.

A lady-Guru who greatly impressed me, is Shantimayi. She teaches the Gayatri Mantra. I will be adding to the Parapagal page soon, with more information about Shantimayi, and a couple of other spiritual teachers.

Jnana

The greatest teacher of jnana (discrimination) in this age is Sri Ramana Maharshi. For him, Kundalini is only phenomena. That which is the Witness of all, is the one to be tackled. This was my intuitive understanding when I first experienced Kundalini; "I" had not changed. "I" remained always as the witness of everything, including spiritual experiences. The Jnani's perception is that if the ego is removed from the I, what remains is God. There is no need for convoluted mental gymnastics to analyse this; it is an intuitive awareness. This does not negate devotion; in fact Ramana expressed intense devotion. It is like the moth flying into the flame.

The last remaining direct disciple of Sri Ramana is Poonjaji, or Papaji, who I have not met. I have met one of his disciples, Gangaji , who greatly impressed me. Gangaji's ability to talk about the inexpressable is quite incredible. There are further links on the Parapagal page.

Sahaja

"Sahaja" means "natural", in relation to spiritual practice and experience, and this is how it should be. My beautiful experiences of "connection" occur spontaneously, like when I'm gardening. Effort and discipline should be there, but spontaneous, many times during the day. I used to think it strange that uplifting experiences didn't occur when I meditated; only when I wasn't trying. Now I know; "It" is already there, so so close, that by "trying" you take yourself away from That. The One doing the trying is fully realised; you will discover it to be the most sublime, most delicious paradox!

 

Shunyanand.
(pronounce the "u" as in "put" and the "a" as in "hut")

Lama Surya Das has a lovely definition of "Shunya". See alongside. The postfix "ta" is the "ness" of emptiness, as explained by Alan Watts.

"Anand" means "bliss", so the full meaning is "the bliss of the Void"!
(no, I'm not "there" yet, but my name is something wonderful to identify with, a constant reminder of potential... )

"Primordially pure, perfect, complete, open, and yet, mysteriously enough, totally luminous. This indescribable openness is spontaneously present, inherently free, a given. It's not something to be constructed or fabricated. It's the positive side of emptiness. That's why I don't emphasize the word "empty," which actually means devoid of inherent independent existence, not mere nothingness or vacuity. Shunyata, emptiness, is a fertile void, overflowing and effulgent. It's referred to in the Surangama Sutra as a shimmering void. In Dzogchen we see this empty radiance as the inherent quality of primordial being, our original, ineffable nature. We call this is-ness rigpa, primordial presence or awareness; it's totally free from identification with any thing...."

Love,

Shunyanand
P.O. Box 717, Joondalup, WA 6919, Australia

(c) Copyright 1996, Shunyanand.