The great religions are like branches
Of one spreading tree:
It is alone in its growth,
Although it has birthed many shoots.
And is it ever possible that branches
Would suddenly, in anger, hit each other?
Religions are the same as branches,
That grew from one big tree.
And these, Shri Mataji’s words, not without reason
All men with thankfulness accept.
It’s time to understand
That we are brothers,
Beyond the races, nationalities, and faiths,
And independent of our skin colors.
Because like branches
Just one root we have!
The Lord is one
Though there are many paths,
That lead to Him –
The goal is always one:
The mountain peak that pierces clouds.
The goal of life is union with God.
Let’s not forget Whose Image and Likeness we carry,
And we will understand to where we aspire.
Source: Mikhanovsky, Vladimir. Hope Faith Love: The Road to God. Pune, India: Nirmal Transformation, 2007.
One night I found myself in a very difficult situation, and in desperation and as a last resort I appealed to God, in whom I didn’t believe, saying, “If there is such a thing as God, you’ve got to help me”.
I had been brought up in a Christian family and had to go to church most Sundays but I’d never felt it helped me or gave me any peace. I felt worse for going, actually, as the idea of original sin and all the rules meant I could never feel good about myself. Because of my negative experiences with the church, which was Protestant, I found it difficult to believe in Jesus Christ and God. So I considered myself an atheist, I suppose, although I was idealistic and had high moral values.
I still had an interest in spirituality, however, and thought that there must be some metaphysical answer to the ills of the world and I was searching for the key that would unlock the door to the mysteries of life. I felt that there was some force (which I thought of as the life force) which looked after all the animals and plants on the earth without them doing anything. I thought that as I was, surely, just as important as the plants and animals then that force was, hopefully, looking after me too. I felt that if I could be more in tune with that force, without thinking, just like the plants and animals, then I could be healed as well.
So I started looking for a Buddhist meditation group. Buddhists don’t talk about God, I thought, but they seem to be people of integrity and very much at peace in meditation. But it wasn’t to be. All the groups I rang didn’t answer their phones. Eventually I decided to go to Sahaja Yoga, which I had heard about from a friend.
As it happened, Shri Mataji, the founder of Sahaja Yoga, was coming to my city the following week. Her lecture was extremely interesting and covered a wide range of topics including God and Jesus Christ. I thought, “Oh, no!” I was surprised, however, to find that rather than urging us to go to church and become Christians, Shri Mataji openly stated that many Christians were not as loving and forgiving as they should be and that their intolerance and hypocrisy had turned many people away from Christianity because they were not following the teachings of Christ as they should. That had been my experience! When Shri Mataji spoke about God I thought, “I’m not interested in having anything to do with God or religion”. But I was so impressed with Shri Mataji and she spoke about all sorts of other interesting aspects of spirituality as well. I decided I would put aside her references to God and try Sahaja Yoga.
I have never regretted my decision. Sahaja Yoga has been the most wonderful experience of my life. Over time I have learnt that the original teachings of Jesus Christ are quite different from the teachings of the Church which has twisted and distorted many things over time. I have also discovered the mystical aspects of Christianity, some of which were recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls and kept secret by the Vatican for many years. I do not have to follow the dictates of priests or ministers who interpret spirituality for me, tell me what to do and have power over me. I find real comfort and peace from meditating and from a personal connectedness that I never felt in the church. And, yes, I have learnt from my experiences that God does exist, and has taken many forms over the millennia, not just the form of Jesus Christ.
So if you, like me, have had bad experiences or have become disenchanted with the Church and feel nervous about the mention of God, don’t worry about it. Just put it aside and try Sahaja Yoga. True spirituality involves much more than the narrow view of God and religion that has been promulgated by Christian churches.
And if you like, you too can ask the question, “Does God exist?” or “Is there such a thing as God?” and see how the answer unfolds in your life.
1. It’s easy.
I don’t have to spend years living in the mountains to achieve enlightenment. I don’t have to give up anything or spend weeks in silence. I don’t have to learn mantras or wear special clothes or even try to clear my mind. The meditation simply happens spontaneously. The classes are easy and fun, and as long as I keep up my daily ten minutes of meditation I find I am able to achieve a deep and peaceful meditation on a regular basis.
2. It’s free.
I don’t pay for my meditation. Even my introductory 8-week course was free. There are no catches, and there are no hidden expenses. If I missed attending classes one week, it didn’t matter. I just picked up the classes again when I could manage it. It is simply the generosity of spirit of other Sahaja Yoga practitioners that allows Sahaja Yoga to be taught to whomever desires it, at no cost.
3. I can see results.
I felt the benefits from the first time I meditated. I felt relaxed and I felt a deep sense of calm. Now I can also feel my chakras (energy centres) and through the techniques learnt along the way I can understand the vibrations of my own energy centres. If I feel unwell I meditate and use the techniques I’ve learnt to clear my chakras, and I can then feel the centres clearing, and as a consequence my health improves.
4. It’s all-inclusive.
All the major religions and their core teachings are acknowledged and respected in Sahaja Yoga. No one spiritual journey is right or wrong. And through meditation the wisdom of all the great gurus and saints is easily revealed and understood. In fact, I’ve found that since I’ve been meditating I’ve come to understand and appreciate the teachings of great teachers such as Lao Tse, Buddha and Mohammed.
5. I’m my own boss.
I meditate and introspect at my own pace. I don’t have to keep up with others, or feel pressured into doing things I’m not comfortable with. I am my own teacher, my own guru, my own master. This technique of meditation empowers me and enables me to help myself. I don’t have to rely on anybody else. Of course, there are many people in Sahaja Yoga who can teach me a great deal about the meditation and its various techniques. However, all that I need is ultimately within me.
6. It’s everywhere.
Sahaja Yoga is practised in almost every country in the world. So, no matter where I travel (whether it’s within Australia or internationally) I can always locate a local Sahaja Yoga program that I can attend. Whenever I get the chance, and no matter where I am, I try to link up with other Sahaja Yogis and enjoy a collective meditation. (Meditating with others is a much deeper and more powerful experience than meditating alone.)
7. It’s portable.
I don’t need to take anything with me to meditate: no mats, no potions, no special clothing or books. I can meditate anywhere – in a quiet room or on a noisy bus; at the beach or watching a movie. Thoughtless awareness (the state of meditation) is easy to achieve if you keep meditating daily, and it can be achieved in almost any situation. (I was pleasantly surprised to learn this as I was under the misunderstanding that you had to have complete silence before you could meditate. And with two children, I can rarely find “complete silence” in our house!)
8. It makes sense.
Everything I’ve learnt makes sense. There is a lot of common sense in this meditation, and even though not everything was known to me (for example, the chakras and their respective qualities), once I had a chance to learn more about the meditation, it felt very natural and comfortable.
9. Everybody does it.
When you begin a hobby or join a new group, you often find that there are particular types of people who are in the group with you. For example, some groups attract younger people, others older folk; some groups have a lot of people who are wealthy, or people who live in a certain part of town. In Sahaja Yoga you will find people from every walk of life, from every demographic – male and female, young and old, rich and poor, every shape, size and colour, with varying interests, languages and beliefs. You don’t have to be a certain type of person to do this meditation. It is one of those rarities: something for everybody.
10. I feel good.
Without fail, every time I sit down to meditate I feel better. Whether I manage to have a deep meditation or not makes no difference. There is more laughter, joy and contentment in my life since I’ve started meditating, and as a consequence my family and friends are reaping the benefits.