The "Isha Experience"
I am one guy whom many would consider non-religious or even atheistic. I do not particularly enjoy doing Pujas or following religious traditions or visiting temples. But I consider myself to be spiritual. I was actually very religious during my childhood days. Later I became more logical and got interested towards philosophy. Swami Vivekananda had a great influence on me and after reading his works I became more convinced with "formless God" (niraakaara Brahma). Then during my engineering days I read Jiddu Krishnamurti and really liked the "jargon-less" approach. So here I am, a guy who started in religion and ended in philosophy.
They say "Knowledge is power" but knowledge is not just information as most of us think. So reading books might make you more informed but not necessarily knowledgeable. I read many personality development books and at the end of it I lacked the will-power to exercise daily. Believe me or not, I tried many approaches from the past 5 years but consistently failed in getting regular at exercise. In psychology, they speak of "external support" when you fail with internal stuff. So I was wondering what to do - should I get a jogging partner or join aerobics or attend Salsa classes (Haritha would love this option!)?
It was in the year 2003, I first heard of Jaggi Vasudevan. I was in my room in IIT Madras trying to read something and somebody knocked the door. When I opened, I found a guy who gave me a pamphlet. It mentioned of a public Satsang. I was not interested. Who would attend boring religious discourses, that too the now non-religious I? It turned out that I was wrong in assuming that Jaggi is a regular Guru. I saw couple of his programmes on TV later and found him to be simple, sensible and clear. He speaks in plain English and even cracks jokes too! Now, I am interested.
"Inner Engineering" is a 7 day course offered by the Isha foundation, Jaggi's brain-child. Whether this course involves meditation or yoga or lectures, I did not care. I had a single-minded simple goal - to attend the program so that I can getup early in the morning for a week and get some exercise! Now wasting Rs. 1500/- for such a simple thing might seem a waste of money but I will tell you it was worthy, really worthy.
Meditation always bored me. I could do yoga but sitting silently and doing breathing exercises was never my strength. In all the spiritual books I read, they kept on saying that "meditation is the key" but to my mind, it seemed stupid. Meditation aims at keeping the mind at rest and the mind would rightly resist it. Now as I sit in the inner engineering class, I get a feeling that some meditation is involved (no, Isha does not use the word meditation actually) and I say to myself, "Well, now what?".
"Shambhavi Mahaa Mudra" - the name sounds good. Isha website claimed that for the first time they are offering this in public for the benefit of all. During the course, I learn that this mudra essentially revitalizes your inner energies. The goal is to make you raise above your body and to give you a new experience by enriching your energies. Teaching this mudra is one of main goals of the course. They even take your verbal agreement before you join - that you would practice the mudra twice daily for the first 40 days and then at least once daily for the next 6 months. It takes around 30 min to do the Kriya and if you are not committed for the practice, you better not attend the program. Who wants knowledge without action and who wants attendance without committment?
The course nicely incorporates video lectures by Jaggi from one of the inner engineering courses he conducted. The local instructor nicely supplements Jaggi's lectures. I must mention here that our instructor Ram is excellent. Very nice communication skills and very passionate. And he is just 25 and he was a SW engineer before a Isha programme changed his life. It amazed me that Isha took great care to have very qualified instructors. They surpassed my expectations in this regard. You get to know about many things in this course - importance of eating proper food, chakras, karma yoga to name a few. I did read about all these things before but when Jaggi explains you understand it freshly and get a new perspective. What he says appealed to my logical mind and I am now more inclined to accept some things that I previously ignored as "blind belief".
I could successfully finish the first 40 days twice a day sadhana. Now I continue to do the sadhana once a day. Initially I felt that my hunger and sleep reduced and I was more at peace with myself. Now after around 50 days, I don't see these changes happening any more (or is it that they got internalized and so I no longer perceive them as change?). My mind still resists when I sit for sadhana but many times I felt great after sadhana and hence the whole thing is worthy. I read some Jaggi's books including the "Mystic's musings" which is a series of conversations with him. After reading the book you will know why he is called a "mystic". You get a glimpse of stuff like past lives, formless beings, ghosts and what not!
Now I look forward to attend some more programs of Isha and to visit the Coimbatore Ashram to experience the energy of "Dhyana Linga" which is the purpose of Jaggi's life. My mind does not still accept Jaggi as Sadguru but he is coming very close to be called "my guru". I have to see what happens. I close with a quote from Sadguru when he initiated us into "Shambhavi Mahaa Mudra" -
The seed is planted and it is up to you to make it grow into a tree.