He taught me how to look, how to listen, how to smell, how to touch and how to taste. But he never taught me what to see, feel or think. He gave me very precious life lessons. He spoke a little and listened a lot. And he smiled the way as he knew something I did not. He is a very simple man, yet one of the most knowledgeable persons I’ve ever met.
What is the first idea that comes to your mind when you hear about an Indian guru?
Honestly, after spending some time in India and being scammed a good few times my perception was rather negative. Popular hippie places like Goa, Rishikesh or some Himalayan villages are fed with all kinds of them. Their touch is ‘healing’ if you pay few hundred rupees (foreigners twice more!). Selling wisdom, health and happiness is a good source of income, it seems!
Despite the business reality, I accidentally came across a flyer talking about a 7-days spiritual meditation course in the Himalayas. It caught my attention because of its simplicity and honesty. This course does not give any certificate nor instant happiness, but it does give liberation. Interesting! “Come to meet me first, maybe you don’t have any problem so don’t destroy your money and energy with me,“ kinda weird answer from someone who wants to earn money! And seriously, do you know anyone who does not have a problem?
An older looking man dressed in a long white simple cloth wearing a white cap is sitting right in front of me with a big smile. His longer grayish hair and beard add him more on age than what he probably is. “So why did you come?” he asked after a complete scan of my whole being. Well, that is a good question, I have no idea…
Completely lost, I can’t find my way back. Damn it, why I never remember which is my guesthouse?! And who was that guy? I never met someone like him before. He somehow accessed the secret garden of my life where NOBODY has an access, not even myself. Big tears were running down my face as somebody slapped me with the truth about my biggest fears and life struggles. He knew about me probably more than I ever did, without me saying a single word. How come???
His name is Swami, born and raised near Varanasi. According to his documents, he is now 45, but he thinks he is 2 years older. He does not know his real age…He does not follow any philosophy, any religion, any teacher. “You don’t have to follow anyone, only the truth inside of you,” he says. He left everything for his spiritual journey more than 20 years ago. He even lived alone and naked in the divine mountains of Himalaya. (I still don’t understand how you can survive in that cold and without food?!)“You have everything you need up there, herbs and roots. And you become who you really are – one with nature. Does nature feel its cold?” Now, he teaches people from time to time. “I like real spiritual seekers, otherwise it is too much unnecessary talking.” He does not like any attention neither being involved in any spiritual community. “Maybe a few more years and then I will go to live in the mountains again. I need it. I feel it.”
“Discover yourself,” Swami introduces the first lesson. Sitting with crossed legs in a short distance right in front of him, I remain very attentive to everything that he is saying and trying to captivate every single word on the paper. Swami teaches only one to one sessions, privately in his room. He does not like having a crowd around. Swami does not even like to be called Teacher. He says he is my friend and this is energy sharing. And he laughs, I should not believe everything he is saying!
What you think you are, you are not. The perception of yourself is limited to what you are able to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. But your senses help only to understand the world outside which is constantly changing. You can go out through your senses and come back to yourself. The truth about yourself never changes and remains stable inside of you. What you feel and experience is real. What you see and hear is an illusion of the outside world that misleads you.
Although everyone rather believes in the spoken word over their own feelings and experience, isn’t it? “Yes, because people do not have enough self-love and self-trust. Whatever is deficient inside we look for outside. This is an ego game.“ He is making fun of me that I need ego. How else I could discover who am I?
We live in the material world where the space creates separation between you and I. This separation is happening only at the ego level, it is an illusion. In reality, we are all one, connected on a deeper level. You can realize this connection if you can realize the separation. The separation is a condition for self-realization.
“Meditation techniques are tools that help you to overcome ego and get closer to yourself,“ the teaching goes on the next day. You have to clean your mind from the dust every day exactly as you clean your body from the dirt. Sure, it sounds easy. But my mind is crazyyy! “Slowly, slowly. You are too serious about it. Meditation is a joyful practice.”
Meditation is a thoughtless state that comes and goes. It is not something you can do. It happens naturally when your mind drops and you are fully aware of the present moment. Imagine watching a beautiful sunrise in the morning with an open mouth and a smiley face. Your mind suddenly drops and you are just a witness of this beauty. Well, that is the meditative state. When your heart is filled with joy and love, the mind suddenly becomes quiet.
Seriously? I wish someone would have told me this before I tortured myself on a 10 days silent meditation retreat. “You can sit and meditate but your mind is not trained to that. You have to understand the pattern of your mind first, then become a friend with your mind and maybe after you will be able to control it.“ Funny, a friend with a mind? “Yes, sometimes you have to do what mind wants and then tell your mind to do what you want. “ How? “Let your mind wonder first. Then choose an object and tell your mind to focus on that particular object. Observe what is happening. Be aware. Awareness is the key!”
Whatever action you do, do it with awareness. Think, feel and experience everything you are doing. More aware you are, fewer thoughts you have in mind. When you decrease your thoughts, you will increase the energy in the body. Start with simple actions such as walking or eating. Be aware and observe what is happening inside.
Swami-ji is asking me to do some weird meditation practices along the course. Shaking, dancing, crazy breathing that will make me probably faint at any moment, shouting ‘hu-hu’ while jumping. Some meditation techniques are even weirder. Once, he sent me to the corridor to smell everything. Oh dear, this is so awkward. I don’t want anyone to see me smelling the rubbish!
“Liberation, isn’t it what we are all striving for?” Swami introduces one of his last lessons. At this stage, I barely hear what he is saying. I am just thinking about how much I don’t want this course to end. Just being around him gives me so much joy. “But a happy life is not at all about what you want but about what you are able to enjoy and let go!”
Our mind is a huge factory of desires. We constantly want this and that. Each desire comes with an attachment and each attachment causes suffering. Simply because we are being attached to things that are constantly changing. External objects come to complete what we lack inside and thus become a condition for our happiness.
This vicious circle is quite familiar; desire – attachment – reaction – suffering. How to break this cycle of constant action and reaction? “Simply, you don’t react. You do an action but you don’t react to its outcome. A positive or negative reaction is possible at the beginning. It is good. But what is super good? Not reacting at all. Each reaction means attachment. Witness whatever is happening, good or bad. No reaction is a condition for liberation.”
Practice day by day. Make every action a meditation practice. Cultivate your awareness and inner growth. More stability you have inside, less desire and attachment you will have for the outside world. Less attachment gives more space for love. More love brings more energy and joy into your life and to everyone else’s life around you. It is a long process. Slowly. Slowly.
The course is over, I can’t believe it! The initial skepticism turned into an unforgettable life-changing experience. I found what I have been searching for such a long time. It has always been with me. But my ego kept me busy with other stuff. Sometimes, we just need someone to point us into the right direction.
I am grateful to you, Swami-ji, for sharing your wisdom, love, and joy. I will always remember – I am not this body, I am not this mind, I am consciousness 🙂