I remember the first time I understood the real significance of experience. I was still in college at the time. Those days, I would meditate every single day. My parents would notice me sitting down with closed eyes every morning. They never disturbed me; nor did they ask me what I was doing.
One fine day I offered to take my father to a Heartfulness Trainer who resided near our home. He was happy to try it. When he came out of his first meditation, he was speechless.
Afterwards, eager to learn from my father, I asked him if he would like to impart any of the ritualistic knowledge that he had accumulated throughout his life.
I could see tears in his eyes as he replied that this meditation was the first time he had felt anything so profound. With sadness, he looked upon the years he spent devoted to various rituals, feeling that so much of his time had gone to waste.
Examining this more closely, it is important to understand how everything has its place in our lives. As children, our parents instil values in us and teach us about worshipping God in various ways. If you are a Christian, your parents might have taught you how to go to church, how to behave in church, and how to offer prayer before eating food. If you grew up in a Hindu family, your parents might have taught you how to behave in temple and sing songs of devotion. Many of us are raised with the various rituals and traditions followed by our families. In this way, we are taught to abide by certain beliefs and values.
As children, we are filled with wonder and curiosity at the world. If you see a child playing with a top, you will notice the spark in their eyes as they watch it spin. They will try turning the top on the wood floor, on the carpet, or on a chair; they will try to spin the top at different angles and with different amounts of force. Like scientists, they test their toy thoroughly under different environments, carefully observing each result.
Naturally, we exhibit the same curiosity when we are first taught our beliefs and dogmas. With so much innocence and love, we are eager to ask questions, “Why do we go to temple (or church)? Why are we born? Who is God?” Just as we tested the top when we were children, we now ask many questions about our respective religions. In the very same way, we try to test and understand the traditions we are taught. Our curiosity only gets stifled when someone discourages us from experimenting, or when we are told to stop asking questions. This is one of the main reasons that so many of us rebel as we grow older. As teenagers, we become skeptical of our parents’ answers. We become disillusioned by traditions, and frustrated by the inability to test those dogmas and beliefs.
That is where experience is necessary. Beliefs and dogmas can act as a foundation, but the next step is to start building upon that foundation. Just imagine a doctor who goes on studying medical textbooks but never once touches a stethoscope! Would you even consider such a person to be a doctor? Similarly, in yoga and spirituality, what use is having knowledge of chakras, of talking extensively of God or liberation if we are not working towards actualizing that knowledge?
Whenever we sit in meditation with an open heart, we receive a different experience. We enter with a hypothesis that there is a source of light present within our hearts. Like a scientist, we test this belief each time we close our eyes and attempt to connect within. When we experience answers for ourselves, knowledge truly becomes ours.
As we continue with an open and accepting heart, we begin to reach a point when experiences are no longer enough. If an experience does not transform us, does it really have value? Our experiences always reflect our inner nature. They show us what we are. In this way, they are tools in our transformational process. Eventually, we realize that the less egotistical we are, the better our experiences become. Becoming nothing at all, we are in total bliss.
But in that case, who is there to experience it?
All the best,
Please tune in to http://en.heartfulness.org/international-yoga-day/ on the International Day of Yoga, 21 June 2017 to watch the Livecast from Daaji starting from 7 AM IST on June 21st and available all day.