|October 2-22, 2005: I am participating
in the 21-day process at Oneness University, near Chennai, India. This program,
once called the 'Enlightenment Training' is about returning us to the Divine,
which for us Westerners means getting in touch with Jesus. It includes a
lot of western practices combined with ancient Hindu rituals.
To discover this place is like a dream for me. It is so much like a vision I had back in 1989. I am very grateful to be here and to become a part in a movement to bring humanity into it's next stage of evolution.
The story begins with an invitation by my girlfriend Bev, to go to an event with her friend Grace. Supposedly enlightenment can be transferred by simply laying on of hands onto the head. This process is called Deeksha in India or Diksha in the European writing.
At first I don't go, smelling another worthless spiritual event with great promises but no delivery. But at the second occasion I join her. Grace is wonderful, the ambience exquisite, the music great. About twenty people are gathered, some veterans in this thing, and Grace gives each one a Diksha by holding her hands on the head for about one minute. Nothing happens to me. No sudden enlightenment, no flash, no deep insights, no jolts of extraordinary energy. Some others have these experiences, but I know I am too resistant, too set in my ways to allow these things to happen. Or, maybe, just too normal.
But then, there is an inkling, a small displacement of my consciousness that becomes apparent in the following hour. And a feeling of happiness that is hard to shake. So I go, again and again. And it is working. For me and others, the Diksha is creating an expanded state of mind, deep happiness and inner peace. I am curious, because it is a process that seems to happen by itself. No inner work is necessary, no meditations, no strict schedules, no change in diet or other inconveniences. If this process works on this diverse group of Diksha lovers, it will work for everyone else too.
For sure, the world needs something like this. With a ever accelerating destruction of the biosphere, intense global warming and the ongoing species extinction we are headed for sure disaster. And, in full knowledge of this, we Americans press the gas pedal instead of the brake. Bigger, gas-guzzling cars, more luxury, more development, faster growth in all corners of the earth seem necessary to keep global capitalism alive. Serious scientists give us a few dozen years before humanity faces extinction. With politics, media and industry firmly entrenched on the planet-eating side and our livelihoods seemingly dependant on ever increasing growth, the only hope for survival is a spiritual revolution, a global outbreak of love that can return us to sanity.
Is there hope?
If we wanted to dream up a science fiction story, it could go like this: A mad scientist develops a magical way to make people self-aware and enlightened. He creates a university where people from all over the world come to learn to apply this new method. A temple is built, where 8,000 people in an altered state of consciousness meditate together to build a global consciousness field. And in a matter of seven years, enlightenment spreads across the globe and humanity avoids destruction and enters a new phase of enlightened existence. This is not science fiction, this is happening in India.
Early afternoon we arrive on our campus of Oneness University, a gated compound next to a number of simple straw huts with sparkling clean new buildings, expansive grassy areas. It feels artificial, disconnected from it's surroundings, but over time we appreciate the security and comfort the campus provides. There is a men's dormitory with dorm rooms for 9-14 men each and a women's dormitory. Across the campus are the food and the teachings.
We move into our dorms, eleven beds in mine and have lunch in the clean, bright cafeteria outfitted with stainless steel tables and chairs. At 7:00 pm we have a little welcome ceremony on the lawn. We are about 150 students. Then I use one of the three computers with a quite fast Internet connection to finish off business at home and call my mother from the cell phone. India has come a long way since my last visit in 1999.
Day 1 - Oct 3, 2005
After breakfast, the women join us and we get treated to a speech by Ananda Giri, one of Bhagavan's closest disciples, who appears like a true prince with his sparkling black eyes. He performs the Arti (fire ritual that brings the divine to us) and speaks at length [I won't give the content of the speeches or trainings for copyright reasons] and a big tiredness breaks out in me. But because I sit right in front (where I will be sitting for most of the process), I cannot lie down. Several times my head nods, I can barely sit upright and dream of sleeping. Finally, at 1 pm we can lie down in our beds. I lie half awake and barely hear the announcement that the solar eclipse will prevent us from going outside between 3 and 5 and that therefore our 4 pm class is cancelled, and drift into a lucid dream.
I love the immensity and clarity of this dream. It has a psychedelic mood to it that makes it more alive than words can say. Is this the outcome of all the spiritual energy of the place and the preceding speaker? We get together in the group room at 7 pm and watch three videos of past participants and their experiences. That gives us a good picture of what the days will bring. I reflect on my dream and write it up; it will be the most dramatic vision for a while.
Day 2 - Oct 4, 2005
Then it's time to take the bus to the Cosmic Beings. I have heard of them before from Freddy. They are people in an altered state of consciousness that is so high that they have to be fed by others. They radiate the same spiritual energy that other seekers only get from their gurus. It's a half-hour ride in a simple Indian bus through rural India, passing through the local village.
The Cosmic Beings sit on chairs along the front wall of a large hall. Four men, an empty chair, then six women. Most of them look rather young. They all have their hair shorn and wear white robes. Their eyes remain closed throughout the half-hour encounter. We sit on the floor and wordlessly look at them, meditate, let their energies melt away our blockades to higher consciousness. Some of us have visions, some communicate in spirit with the Cosmic Beings, some are simply elevated.
Not me. I am looking at a row of meditating monks. That's it. Then I look where I can let their light in, where I can find a hole in the thick psychic crust that surrounds me. I have to go back all the way to my birth in order to find a hole and now the sacred energy comes into me like a cool breeze, making me giddily happy from the inside.
Back on the bus through wonderful India. The air has the quality of silk and is lusciously warm with 30-35 degrees centigrade (90-95 Fahrenheit). I love being quiet and by myself. Later I inwardly ask Amma to clean my Karma and my inside to make me able to contain the sacred energy. She's there right away with a powerful pressure washer and I feel beautifully fresh in the shortest time.
To be here feels like the greatest gift to me. I am eternally grateful to all the friends that brought me here and the divine grace that cares for me so much!
Day 3 - Oct 5, 2005
Then the bus to the Cosmic beings. The third from the left is Uttama, an American that we had already heard about. Next to him is Muridatnam, a local villager who became enlightened easily, because he had not built up so many defenses. Then an empty chair for a mythical sage who has roamed the area for hundreds of years and often shows up in his disembodied but somehow visible state. Today something happens that has never happened for the Cosmic Beings before. We break out in laughter and they join us. The first one is Ishwara. He cannot hold his serious meditation stance any more and blasts out in highly infective laughter. He laughs until he screams. Then two, three women. Finally even the stoic Uttama breaks. It is beautiful, enchanted laughter. Maybe the only bridge between humans and gods.
The man to the left of Uttama lifts his hands, facing his palms at us. A fine vibrating energy comes from him and enters my being. Then the one left of him, the elephant being does the same. Like a huge wave his energy washes over me until I am no more.
Day 4 - Oct 6, 2005
When I wake up, I immediately notice the vast open space in my heart chakra. In is so huge that the entire sun can fit into it! I think I had an operation and - thanks to sleep - did not need to feel the pain, only delight in the results. Hurray, what a joy to have an open chest!
Today we pray for our family members alive and dead. A great help is my closeness to Jesus, who is still the only portrait on the altar. Every day I ask him to come into my heart and fill it up and step by step I can feel him.
In the evening the Cosmic Beings create a joyous, peaceful upliftment in me. Then we come home and for hours we dance like maniacs and dance and dance...
Day 5 - Oct 7, 2005
The Cosmic Beings send us stronger spiritual energy. Then someone in
our group breaks out into joyous laughter and is, again, very infectious.
Later he tells me that he exchanged a 'cosmic joke' about existence with
the Cosmic Beings and that's what made everyone laugh.
Day 6 - Oct 8, 2005
Day 7 - Oct 9, 2005
The ashram is a curious mixture of holy place and real world. All kinds of healing promises are available:
Day 8 - Oct 10, 2005
Rain. The feeling of being trapped again in my old mind, as if nothing has changed. This goes on for a while. Then I remember to observe and enjoy this feeling. Divine energy still runs through me. Thanks God!
In the afternoon we go outside our protecting walls and visit the river. Wading into the middle of the stream, I feed little fish that are so excited about the cookie crumbs, that they almost jump out of the water. It feels like a truly sacred place and we later learn that throughout the ages a lot of enlightened beings have been in this area.
In the afternoon we watch the movie Groundhog Day. For the first time I realize that he has the chance to live the day so often, that he can create the perfect day. And his perfect day has to abandon self-centered, goal-driven behavior with all the neurotic self destruction. In its place there needs to be real aliveness, love and service for others and creating joy for himself and others. Living in service warms the heart. I consider it one of the primary needs, along with food, shelter and spirituality.
Day 9 - Oct 11, 2005
We see the Cosmic Beings in the morning, but I feel utterly disconnected and don't know how to come back to myself. Back in the classroom we have a small Paduka ritual, blessing the sacred sandals that represent the feet of the Divine. The sacred energy from this ritual gets me reconnected in an instant. Also, I now feel that the sandals are the same divine that resides in my heart and when the sandals are touched during the rituals, I feel the touch deep inside me. Now, when I look at Jesus' picture, it feels as if the Jesus inside me looks out onto his picture. A great shift has taken place without any fanfare or big experience. The Divine has awoken inside me.
Can we control our thoughts? This seemingly remote question has been at the center of eastern spirituality for ages. What is it that my head is full with one thought after another and I feel unable to stop them? Indeed, our teacher Srinivas explains, we can control them as little as we can empty a river with a bucket. At some point it becomes overwhelming and I am realizing that these thoughts are not me, these thoughts are part of the big universal mind that touches everyone. Carl Jung first described it in western psychology. If thoughts create strong emotions, they manage to control my mind even better. We may not be able to stop the thoughts, but we can learn to give them less power by not judging them and let them run by.
In the evening we have a long, 3 hour Homam ritual. It is again in the village temple just outside the campus. Again, I have the good fortune to sit right up front and can observe the entire elaborate ritual of singing and feeding the fire. Today is the final 9th day of the Hindu festival for the divine mother and the most auspicious day of the Hindu year. Our ritual is for Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, science and the arts. She is also the goddess of speech and is purported to sit on the tip of our tongues. In the ritual we pray to her that divine wisdom enters our speech and uses it to reach and heal people. This is a real desire for me - to be able to speak so clear and wise to many people that I can bring healing and enlightenment to them. A few days earlier I had a very similar vision. The ritual is very long and repetitive and culminates for me into deep, heartfelt gratefulness. When we come out, the rains have started again and at home I wash my white clothes and hangs them up in the drying room.
Day 10 - Oct 12, 2005
From now on the focus changes from outside adventure to inner changes. What is important now, is what is moving and changing inside. As unspectacular as those changes may seem to an outside observer, as important they are when seen from the inside. Today, as I am waking up early at 6:00, I am noticing that less thoughts are running through my mind. Normally I am already filled with thoughts, plans and problems before I set one foot outside the bed. It had been an ongoing problem: clearing the mind and reaching delightful peace of mind at the end of the day and then restarting from point zero the next morning.
Today is all about gratefulness, a sure fire way to ease the mind. Grateful to the divine intelligence that is the substance and cause of everything we see. And gratefulness to my body, made for experiencing life and so often taken for granted. In class we spend almost one hour walking very, very slow to get a feeling for being in the presence. I like extreme slowness and have enjoyed it many times. At lunch, Freddy and Madeleine. I feel great joy and thankfulness seeing them here. In the evening I feel the Cosmic Beings more intense than ever.
Now it is time to give up on steering this process. I have been very active in choosing what to think and what to do with my mind almost all the time. But in order to go beyond the mind, I cannot help but abandon this control. I throw myself at God's feet for his grace.
Day 11 - Oct 13, 2005
As I rise, I feel this light in me that has not been there before. In my chest is a little light bulb, just the strength of a small flashlight. I am jubilant and grateful. Yes! The Divine is inside me! And out of that joy, sacred chorals arise inside me and i sing silently "Christ is risen. He's inside me. He's inside me now forever". What a joy and fulfillment I get out of singing! Another choral "It's all happening again. The old new-ness" appears and I recognize how singing has been inside me all my life. It has never come out and I have not developed my voice, but sacred singing is happening deep inside me. I wonder how i can bring this out into the world.
The morning starts with the usual Agni ritual and we do the Chakra Dhyana which I know well from Grace's teachings. This time it is very powerful and I can feel each chakra in turn coming to life as I chant the tones. I finish in a state of expanded bliss.
Vipassana is better than ever, with the explicit instruction to keep watching my body aches and my thoughts. With a silent, loving watcher they may become bigger at first but will eventually dissolve.
Later as we return from the evening visit at the Cosmic Beings I feel a small displacement. I can look at my body, look at my thought stream and realize that both of them are different from what I regard as 'me'. I never had this feeling before and there is great freedom to this insight.
Day 12 - Oct 14, 2005
I wake up in bliss. Divine energy is running in my body. Glorious sunshine is outside. We have a big Paduka ritual together with the women and are joined for a few minutes by the governor of Andra Pradesh (the large state in India that we are in) who wants to experience the University in person.
In the last days I started seeing the different personalities that show up in me, greet them and thank them for all they do for me. That allows me gradually to understand how I am different from them and lose my identification with certain personalities. Today I discover that my real self is a personality as well. Once I realize that, I can see it from the outside and by lovingly accepting it, it gradually fades. I feel an immense freedom and at the same time a relaxing of the right side of my face. I notice that I smell and hear better and feel very alive. That's how change works for me. Others may have huge experiences, encounters with the Divine and shaking bodies, but for me it is always the small shifts that bring me awakening.
Bhagavan says: It is a matter of transformation. Allow the heart to flower and we will have paradise on earth.
I burn a candle on the side altar for my 'I' personality, watch it burn down and finally extinguish in a beautiful spectacle of smoke. I have never felt more free.
Day 13 - Oct 15, 2005
I wake up with a very clear mind and notice that I am not talking to myself. When talking flares up, I quietly observe the talker with love and it subsides. My mind is so clear. I can hear and smell better and my mood is elevated. It is the feeling of having a storm end. I watch my body brushing teeth, walking to the classroom and writing my journal without telling it to do so.
The feeling doesn't last long. Soon thoughts and personalities appear and where I thought that calmly observing would help, I now realize that this method is easily overwhelmed. Soon I feel fear rising. My body is stiffening as it is cemented in. Old personalities return. I cannot see a way to connect to the Divine.
I call Amma for help, ask her to clean me out, as she has done so well before. And she comes right away. But instead of bringing her thousand pressure washers, she's just there and laughs. "There is nothing there!" she exclaims. And now I can see it. In my place is nothing, just the radiant glow of the Divine is there, as everywhere. All those personalities were just a mirage, a play with mirrors.
My relationship with the altar has shifted. First, there was Jesus' picture, then all I noticed were his loving eyes looking deep into me, then Jesus was inside me, looking at his picture. Now he is omnipresent and there is no distinction between me and everything - at least in that plane of spiritual experience.
At one point I feel again as if I am back to point zero; as if nothing has changed in these weeks and I feel very disappointed. Then I remember my Vipassana instructions from two days ago and silently watch the complaining personality until it goes away. Great peace and joy fills me up.
In the evening we visit Bhagavan. I am starting to feel his energy. It feels strong and very substantial and it remains with me for a long time afterwards. This is still much less than other people have reported, who literally experience him as god, creating the universe, but it's in line with my tendency to experience the training less dramatic but in a continuous upward pull. It's a great pleasure to meet Kiara among the hundreds of attendees and to tell him how important his book "Fire from Heaven" was for my development. It's available at saitowers.com.
Day 14 - Oct 16, 2005
When, if not today
To you, my ultimate beloved,
Quivering with joy,
My heart burns with strange desires
I cannot wait any longer
Take me, oh my love
Until my soul becomes pure,
When, if not today ...
(Bows and thanks to Rumi)
For days now I have wondered about activating my heart chakra and have
focused deeply onto it. Now the realization comes:
I have a vibrant golden energy in me after chakra breathing and cleansing of the Kundalini channels with Amma's help. And it really feels like a wedding day...
In the evening an increasing sense of the Divine fills my inner self. The Cosmic Beings push me over the cliff. They enter into me and start chiseling away until I see a totally black hole in myself. I don't do anything in the evening, just stay in bed and watch the Cosmic Beings work. It feels like they will have emptied me out by the morning. I am curious. Before this training I did not feel good about erasing myself, but now I have gained the understanding that an enormous amount of joy is waiting to come through when it is not blocked by the ego.
Day 15 - Oct 17, 2005
I am still alive and normal. The Cosmic Beings did not empty me out completely. Almost sad not to have that experience. We have an intense Homam ritual and again I am right in front. It is really hot and I feel burnt up. Coming back I feel disconnected and cannot find the way back to feeling complete as I was before. Finally the sacredness of the altar helps.
At night I watch the glorious full moon. It is overwhelmingly beautiful and I thank God for sending me to India. I lay in the hammock until midnight, when the moon is exactly above me.
Day 16 - Oct 18, 2005
We get up very early and at 5:45 we drive to the Oneness Temple which is just 5 minutes away. The full moon is still in the sky. I am getting tremendously excited when we arrive. Here is my dream of 16 years come true - and so much more. We walk up one of the corner spiral staircases to the top floor to meditate. In this huge hall of 26,000 sq ft (2,600 square meters) Bhagavan plans to have 8,000 cosmic beings meditate. It is the largest pillar less hall in all of Asia, an architectural miracle. The temple covers a full acre (4,200 square meters) and there are several office and service buildings next to it.
We sit down in the center of the top floor, right under the central pyramid, where soon the 8,000 cosmic beings will be. The sun rises. A strong feeling of peace comes over me and I realize that my dream has come true. And it is vaster than I could ever imagine. When the 8,000 will be here, the spiritual field will be so strong that visitors in the lower floors will be transformed instantly. The temple is also built on the lay lines and will send this energy out to the entire planet. At that time, the Diksha-givers will have a lot more power and many miracles will happen.
After the meditation we have a little time to explore the temple. The vast plains are stretching forever, just farmer villages and fields to the horizon. The ground floor has an opening in the high ceiling right below the pyramid. I can feel that this is not an ordinary temple. It is the power station for global transformation, more a tool than sacred space.
Initiation Day. It is a very important day for me, and therefore I am wearing the elegant outfit which I bought on my first day in India. I sit right in front of the altar. We are joined with the German group. Both sets of padukas are revered in an elaborate ritual. They are washed, covered in precious spices, washed again and completely covered with flowers. The ritual takes almost an our and is immensely sacred.
Then we are asked to close our eyes. I pose myself the question of tomorrow's world. What will a world look like when it is run by Love? I see images of hospitals being torn down, as they are no more needed. Everyone has the primary goal to help others. The street people are invited to our homes, cleaned and fed, the dying are taken care of. What we admire in Mother Teresa is now common practice. We wash each other's feet. The former military is now the conservation corps, restoring the environment. Wild forests are off limits, except for those seeking spiritual replenishment. I see slaughterhouses deserted in the moment that the wave of enlightenment opened people's eyes to what they were doing and made them run out. I feel blessed peace and sacred Love singing in the air, for everyone to hear. All the products and services are made for the purpose of serving our fellow beings. Each and everyone is illuminated and finds deep, lasting happiness.
I feel a lot of warmth in me from an earlier exercise when we invited the Divine to enter every cell in our bodies and mine became the center of a blazing sun. I feel sacred water spilled on my head on let it sink deep inside, drinking Divinity down to my toes. When the silver sandals are pressed on the crown of my head, I shiver and feel the energy rushing through my body. These holiest of holy sacred objects, which I felt duplicated in my chest, are so full of divine energy and their sacredness went deep inside me.
Then the mala is placed around my neck and Radhakrishna gives me a long, long hug. After a few more minutes with closed eyes we do a Arti ritual and dance and hug each other. I feel like it is my birthday and I am born into a new life.
In the evening we have our first Diksha practice. We divide into groups of five and I decide to go first. I go to the first receiver, Martein from Holland, and do the invocation. My palms become warm and I feel energy streaming through my arms and into the hands. I lay my hands on his head. The energy flows through my arms and hands into him, I feel my hands communicating with his head. And I just know that it is working. At once I feel that I can do this for the rest of my life. This is my mission and my love. I have arrived. It is one of the best days of my life and I am indescribably happy.
As we give each other Diksha, I can feel just how special each giver is. Each one gives differently, just as he receives differently. I feel enormously energized from the giving and very focused. I know that giving Diksha is right for me. And then I laugh and laugh and laugh. I am so happy to know that it is working and the last doubts are falling away from me.
Today we get instructions how to give Diksha. We learn how to do it in a group, over the phone and even by email. I am impressed that no rules are given; that we are free to give Diksha in our own way, even to add it to treatments we already do. This commitment to freedom is one of the great attractions I feel with the Oneness Movement. There is a great trust that the Divine will work through us and find it's way. There is a good reason to be paid for Diksha, we are being told, and that is the closing of the karmic cycle of giving and receiving. The more we set right our relationships, the better Diksha can work.
Diksha does so much more than we know. Scientists have measured that it creates the same amount of change in the brain as 10,000 hours of meditation. It affects the chakras, which in turn stimulate and change the brain. A whole new world of possibilities opens up to me. We are being told that Amma has said "This group will go out and shake the world".
Our guide says: Just hold on to the Divine. So many miracles will happen. Just flow, you will see the divine plan eventually. It will go in unexpected ways.
We can talk now to our companion students and spend the day chatting and packing. Tomorrow we will take our busses to the airport or to Amma and will go our different ways. The 21-day process actually lasts only 19 days because of the travel days. It has been a beautiful time with these friends and I got to know them even while we were not talking. Now I learn the names and their countries. I know that we'll be meeting again and again, eternal friends in this adventure called life. I am very grateful.
We got given an enormous gift and a beautiful way of giving love. For the next five weeks Bev and I traveled through India and gave Diksha to over 100 people. It was a such a joy to see the Indians accept our gift of Diksha with great gratitude. We often found the simplest people the most receptive. The joy of being in India and meeting all these wonderful beings is still within us and will never end. The next goal is Maui in the Hawaiian Islands where I will be building a Diksha center. And that story will be told at OnenessMovementHI.org.