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JUN 07. 2019

Travels with Daaji in Maharashtra

In times of disruption

Most of us think of pride, ego and passion as negative forces that do not help in our evolution. Is it possible to use these energies for the greater good? Daaji was explaining this idea and said, “It is about flipping these energies positively towards spiritual pursuit. Even pride rightly placed can become an effective force in our upliftment.” He was remembering the call of Swami Vivekananda: “Give me men of passion.”

The feeling of preparation was in the air. After almost 4 months of remaining in Kanha, Daaji was about to embark on another road trip. Many were eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Friday, 24 May 2019, Pune

Daaji left for the Hyderabad airport after lunch, landing in Pune at 4:20 p.m. There were several abhyasis ready to welcome him as he arrived. Upon gathering our luggage, we all packed into various cars of abhyasis who had graciously volunteered to provide rides. Daaji stayed at an abhaysi’s residence and after a brief chance to freshen up he immediately conducted group meditation at 5:45 p.m. for all who had arrived. Later in the evening, more abhyasis came and gathered quietly on the terrace, preparing internally by doing their cleaning and remaining in a prayerful state. By 9 p.m., Daaji came to the terrace and conducted meditation.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

At 9 a.m. Daaji conducted meditation in the family’s meditation room for an hour. He commented that the meditation ended where it started. Later, with a smile he said, “It does not mean we did not go anywhere!” Many abhyasis felt that the meditation was superb. He was busy meeting visitors and reviewing ashram projects for this area. There was light discussions and laughter, a perfect preparation for the disruptive session in the evening! He mentioned that disruption can be positive.

There was a brief incident in which Daaji was introduced to a local who described himself as a nearby landlord and working professional. After some time, Daaji asked him if he had taken three sittings, to which the brother seemed bewildered. Someone else in the room replied that the brother was a preceptor and nearby centre coordinator. Daaji laughed and asked him why he didn’t introduce himself as a preceptor to begin with.

The brother innocently responded, “Babuji said that preceptors should not have ego and feel that ‘I am a preceptor.’ "

Daaji provided a beautiful response, saying, “Babuji also said that there is no ego in saying you are an MSc if you’re an MSc. Ego comes when we call ourselves a PhD when we only have an MSc.” Teasingly he asked, “When you introduced yourself as a landlord, was there not ego present there?”

Later in the morning, an architect came to show him a design for a garden that the government had given the Heartfulness Institute permission to make in the city. After looking at the plans, Daaji immediately turned the paper over and began drawing a revised layout, allowing the garden to be more spacious and conducive for meditation.

After lunch, Daaji left by car for the Hyatt Hotel where the Hindustan Times & Mint had organized an educational seminar on the ‘Role of Education in the Age of Disruption’. Guests included esteemed Vice-Chancellors and educators from local universities, many of whom had been personally invited by volunteers from the Pune centre. They began arriving by 5:15 p.m., having tea and snacks until the program began at 6:15 p.m.

After the organisers introduced Heartfulness, the Heartfulness Education Trust and Daaji to the audience, Daaji came to the stage. He spoke briefly, followed by a Brighter Minds demonstration by children from the local centre.

Here are some snippets from his talk:

Education, interest and observation

“Education is a tough subject actually. At the same time, it is not so difficult because every moment in our lives, whether we go to school or not, whether we go to college or not, we learn something from life itself. There are two fundamental things required before we can ‘learn’ something – interest and the ability to observe.

“How to develop interest? How to encourage children to be more observant? I would like to answer these questions through actual experimentation here, showcasing what children can do. The Brighter Minds program we are offering literally develops minds, and much more!

“This program is actually a disruptor, not in a negative way but in a very positive way. Disruption need not be negative. Disruption can also bring about change for the better. Imagine those days when you had gramophone records, the whole room would be packed from one end to the other. Then came the time for cassettes – remember 60-minute cassettes, 90-minute cassettes? They took up less space. Then came the CD, and then the pen drive. This is also disruption because of technological benefits. So disruption need not be so bad for the society. It has its pluses and minuses.

Brighter Minds is a Positive Disruption

“To me this Brighter Minds program is a positive disruption in the field of education. You will be able to see it for yourselves.

“Now I would like to invite these children to showcase what they have learnt. What you are going to witness is just a superficial thing, but what really goes on within them is beyond anyone’s description. Once they are finished with their display, you will wish you were a child again, because these things can only be done by children up to the age of fifteen. If you have children or grandchildren or great grandchildren, expose them to this Brighter Minds program and you will see a miracle in the family.”

Listening to our conscience by listening to the heart

Afterwards, Daaji continued:

“We are living in a VUCA world. VUCA means volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous. We are all influenced in some way or the other, but our modern-day lifestyle is not the only thing to be blamed. Somewhere, somehow, we have started degenerating our value system because we all like to see happiness with lesser investment from our side.”

“Today, loneliness has become a pandemic, affecting our youngest generation, Gen Z, most of all. Even in countries like the US, UK and Japan, loneliness is prevalent despite so much economic success.

“Why does this affect our children so much? The number one factor is that parents are too busy. Even when parents are at home, they’re busy watching TV; we have provided a safe haven for our children to do whatsoever they like on the Internet in the privacy of their own bedroom. In this digital age, the biggest threat to our children is not outside but inside our own homes in our phones and laptops. Parents should ask themselves, what sort of an example are we setting for our children on how to use technology wisely?

“Today parents think that educational institutions will look after the children, groom them and make them good citizens, while the institutions think that it is the parents’ role. I think we ought to look for a balance. Somehow, we should do whatever we can as our part. Let parents do their part, and, at the same time, children can be sensitized to their own personal responsibility.

“How does this happen? The Yoga Shastras, Vivekachudamani, Ashtanga Yoga and the six fold path of Yoga all begin by emphasising the need for Viveka. Viveka is necessary in everything that we do, be it yogic science, spirituality, religion, or the mundane world. Viveka means discrimination. What do we discriminate? We can start with ‘What is good for me, what is bad for me?’ Every child must be able to discern ‘With what I plan to do next – is it good for me?’

“How can children have it? It is not that they do not have conscience. Everyone has a conscience; even a little toddler, who drops a bottle of milk, will immediately look at his mother as if he made a mistake. Intuitively, he understands that something has gone wrong. Do adults not have a conscience? We all have a conscience, but we put a stone on it. We think, “Let’s do it, and we’ll worry about the consequences later.” Each time we put a stone on our conscience, it becomes quieter and quieter, and the heart eventually stops giving signals. The moment the heart stops giving signals, you can consider yourself to be spiritually dead.

“How to salvage such a situation? How to sensitise the heart? Just as intuition can be heightened, conscience can be heightened. Having developed a certain level of conscience, how to infuse children or for that matter adults with courage to follow the heart’s signals? How to infuse courage so that, come what may, they will do what is necessary and they will not turn back? They will not be fearful about doing the right thing. Children should be encouraged to feel the heart: “What is right and what is wrong?” “What is beneficial for me, what is not beneficial for me?”

After the talk, Daaji guided the participants through a placebo meditation for about 5 minutes followed by Heartfulness Relaxation and Heartfulness Meditation with Transmission. He also answered questions on various topics, such as stress, Gen Z, meditation and its positive effects on life.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Daaji left early in the morning to reach the Nanded Ashram for 9 a.m. group meditation. Afterwards, he invited the audience to ask questions. When no one had any questions to ask, he joked that having to speak after meditation is so difficult. His basic condition is one of thoughtlessness, so questions help to inspire answers from him. He continued anyway:

Happiness and unhappiness

“Over time, the things we use the most become dull. For example, we are prone to happiness. Who wants unhappiness? Do we invite unhappiness? No one does. We are predisposed to want happiness all the time, so we overuse our senses – physical as well as emotional – in order to saturate ourselves with happiness. Eventually, in order to make ourselves happier, we need more and more stimuli coming from within as well as outside. It’s overuse of our senses, internal as well as physical.

“What happens with pain, misery, sadness? Nobody wants them. If at all they come our way, we ignore them – as if ignoring them will make them go away! Since we don’t use them, whatever little miseries may come our way become really highlighted. Happiness is made dull by overuse, whereas sadness becomes extremely sharp through underuse. It cuts you like a razor. The more you avoid it, the more every little bit of sadness or unhappiness will drive you crazy.

“With expectations also, when we have greater expectations from our loved ones, it creates this dullness and sharpness phenomenon at an emotional level. It’s not that I advocate inviting unhappiness, but if it comes your way, don’t discard it. When your senses perceive sadness etc., undergo the whole process and be thankful to God. Neither sadness nor happiness is going to last forever. Can you hold air in your fist? You can’t. It is just momentary. It’s the same thing with this emotional rollercoaster. That’s why it’s good to pay attention within, to your inner Deity, the divine presence within your heart. Even if you don’t believe in God, that’s all right too. The main focus is to interiorise in such a way that you set your mind on that fulcrum, making it balanced. Only in the balanced state will you be able to enjoy life.

“Start accepting things in life in such a way that they don’t dull you or sharpen you. If sadness comes, get used to it, and don’t avoid it. Otherwise, even a little bit of inconvenience can become a big pain, and that is why the wisdom of Babuji Maharaj is to take miseries as blessings. It’s very difficult to take miseries as blessings until you understand the reason behind it.”

After the group meditation, Daaji briefly stayed at an abhyasi’s apartment before leaving directly for Satara, a 2-hour car ride away. Once we reached the hotel in Satara, he took some rest in the afternoon.

Satara: Overuse results in bluntness and wastage

In the evening, Daaji visited an abhyasi’s home where they had converted the basement into a meditation hall. He inaugurated the hall and then conducted group meditation. Afterwards, he gave an invigorating talk in Hindi, challenging the abhyasis of the centre to go deeper into their practice and to build something bigger.

“I am very happy to be here in Satara. This centre has been around for a very long time but there is still no ashram and also the abhyasi strength is still very small. As soon as we start a business, within a year we build a house, but even after years of practice we are unable to build an ashram. We need a structure to sit under and meditate; otherwise we will have to keep wandering. This is the proud Maratha land of the great Shivaji. Learn from his life – he who surrendered everything, even his entire kingdom to his Guru.

“When I was trying to cut the ribbon, it wasn’t cutting because the scissors were blunt. If you keep using something repeatedly, its sharpness goes away, making it blunt. The same thing happens in life.”

Daaji then went on to repeat the concept he had shared in Pune about happiness getting blunt through overuse, while sorrow generally remains sharp.

“When we were growing up, we didn’t have many toys and they were shared by everybody in the family, even neighbours! Today, children have rooms full of toys, thus making happiness blunt from the very beginning. We don’t want our children to even face any unhappiness or hardship in life, but what we don’t realize is that we are actually spoiling them in the process. Later on we complain that the children are spoilt. One after the other, there are too many excitements - too many exciting pens, toys and notebooks. There is so much wastage. It becomes a tendency. The mind becomes so free to waste things in life; and then it will apply it to time management also.

“Similar things happen in the field of medicine. A person can start with a dose of medicine, say a 5 mg sleeping pill, but it may no longer work after a few months and the person will have to double the dose. Our system gets used to stimuli too quickly, demanding incremental doses of happiness, and loves to discard even the smallest episode of inconvenience!”

Spiritual growth through self-effort

Daaji mentioned how sad it was to hear from preceptors that they don’t have time for their own practice. Some of them say they don’t have time because they are giving so many sittings. He made the comment that when abhyasis come for a sitting, they could ask the preceptor, “Have you meditated today?” It was a strong point to emphasize the importance of our daily practice, no matter how busy we are.

“When the spiritual condition is good, we generally meditate more, but it is precisely when it’s not very good that we should meditate more. Then progress will be much faster. Babuji used to say that when we seek the preceptor’s or the Master’s help for cleaning, it happens, but when we surge ahead in meditation and cleaning by our own efforts, using our own willpower, the progress attained is worthier any day. A respectable son wants to stand on his own two feet and come up in life, and his success will make both him and the family very proud. If, on the other hand, he remains enslaved to his father’s support, he is sure to develop low esteem, even though the father may not mind sharing. The father too will remain anxious about the son’s ability to succeed in life without any outside support.

“In spirituality too you can challenge the Guru. Ask him to be in the background. Have courage to ask him to back off while you progress. He will not mind or take offence. In fact, he will be proud that he has an offspring like Sivaji. My request to you is to have such a spirit like that of Shivaji Maharaj.

“I hope you will increase the number of practitioners and have an ashram at the earliest.”

Daaji went back to hotel for dinner and rested.

To be continued