Disclaimer: This article is more of a personal writing and is written with the only intent of sharing with people who can relate to this and in totality reflects my personal views only.
I have been practicing meditation and know am on the path but not necessarily have changed religion. Religion is all in the mind. Right now I am a Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and all the religions one can think of. I practice what is common in all these religions and refuse to narrow down to any formalities or rituals that has to be done just because the rules are so. That is why I thought I must share with you my views and my journey.
After being initiated by my guru, I have been following his teachings and practices which are no different than what I have learnt from Christ.
My guru says, "If there are variety of dishes in front of you, do you eat everything? If you have variety of clothes displayed to you in a cloth store do you choose everything? No. You exert your power to chose. You cross verify, examine, compare, ask questions, clear doubts, match your budget, match your liking and then you choose."
Paths are many, masters are many, options are many, techniques are many. People choose. I did the same.
Now that does not mean that the clothes I did not buy were bad. The only I chose matched my liking, affordability, practicality, satisfied my queries and best of all I thought would look good on me and vibe well with me. The rest were not bad for I know it is not practical. When looking at a menu anyone would chose just a very few of their favorite food. Not that other food is bad but what would happen if one try to eat all varieties at one time? Indigestion? Same reason is why one loves all paths but walks on one. I would say that I would like to munch on other delicacies also as snacks but would prefer my favorite food to satisfy my hunger.
Things were not easy for me since I am from a Christian background. Even now things are not easy because it is a big question raised on beliefs and societal rules over beliefs. Right from my childhood days, I had very less inclination towards rituals and formalities. I never preferred going for mass (prayer gathering and sermons) in church but I would always prefer going to church when no one was there and picking the last corner bench of the church. Something never made me go through a communication with God by following a standard set of procedures. I always preferred silence for that.
I began asking my dad lot of questions about religion including questions that startled him and he and others never preferred answering; maybe they feared something. I strangely had an inclination to Lord Shiva. Something in the back of my mind told me that all religions are one. The concept of God is nothing but that one power. What provoked me to think beyond heaven and hell were the questions that arose in my mind when I saw a child suffering or a dog suffering. I pondered why a child is born with abnormalities when such a little being cannot sin? Why a dog who lies calm in his own place without hurting anyone had a broken limb? Isn't God watching? Why does he not do something for these little creatures? I failed to understand why the best of people doing good suffered while the bad still enjoyed? I asked and asked questions but the answers either did not come or did not satisfy my conscience. That is when I probed into the law of karma and went through it all and the clarity to every doubt started falling into place. My life had always been very stressful since childhood undergoing a number of problems including ailments, emotional problems and other difficulties of life.
I continued probing into all religions and never ever felt aversion to any religion. They were all so beautiful; people made wrong interpretations - this I could read through very well. I could not argue or questions these things because the "masters" of these religions would never take it. My father was a great influence to me as he helped and served other religions without any hesitation. More facts started to reveal itself as I probed into religions and one thing was very, very clear to me - that all religion quenches the spirit of the same power. Yet I could not understand why people fought and argued and defended. I let people alone and followed what I liked - being nonreligious. But people never stopped letting me be alone. There was criticism, mockery, sarcasm, threat of being labelled insane, anti-religion, etc, etc, etc. I understood that it is the fear of people that had been instilled by religions or society that hell will break loose if one questions anything about religion or looks at other Gods or religion.
I was sure that I will not leave Christianity and I was also sure that I would not join any other religion because if I did this then I would be still giving importance to "religion". But at the same time I was doubly sure that I will not ignore any religion. I love the teachings of Christ and feel that love whenever I think of him also. Even the world "allah" gives such a good vibration. Sometimes the words "inshah allah" (God willing) slips out when I acknowledge certain things in life happily. I know this can raise eyebrows but then who cares. I could get into the same trance with a sufi song that I could get with Shiva' s song or a Christian hymn. Then I got into the process of meditation to get relief from the worldly troubles and stresses of daily life. As my turmoil with the world increased, my interests into spiritual practice also grew stronger. The stronger this urge, the more I probed and experienced insights into lot of things right from cyrstals, reiki, pranic healing, tai chi, dowsing, telepathy, out of body experiences, past life regression, etc. I must say it was an awesome journey since then, meeting people, spiritual guides, ascended masters, learning so many things. I was reading and digging into the teachings of Buddha also at the same time. But inspite of the continued turmoils in my life I knew that I was divinely guided at all times by some or the other invisible forces or beings that let out their support through so many mediums and "co-incidences". But all the while I knew that I cannot dip all my fingers and wander forever into the vast spaces of infinite knowledge and experiences. I had to choose one path - one way.
My search for a path began and I was extremely enthusiastic to have a guru in life. I scanned through many gurus, many practices, many paths, but each time I moved to something else I made sure I learnt something from what I had been into. I found that all are genuine but I knew I would fine tune into something perfect for my taste. I was reading about Yogananda Paramahamsa and all the lineage of masters I found so loving and energetic.
I was blessed by them each time I thought of them including the entire lineage of Yoganandji, Sri Yukteshwarji, Lahari Mahasayaji, and Mahavtar Babaji. Then I came across Nityanand Paramahamsa's teachings and videos which I immensely benefited from and I even today owe Nityanandji gratitude for the precious things I learnt from him irrespective of what he may be judged as by the world today. What I learnt from him is more important than anything else. But all the while I still went to church and still sat on that last bench alone and had wonderful conversations with Christ. Jesus Christ, Mother Mary and St. Anthony always guided and comforted me in all my pains. They were the best friends I could openly talk with and get reassured and feel comforted. At this time, about two years ago, my life was taking another major twist perhaps a pour of karmic clearance and this time I was swept off my feet and got a taste of real human relationships and the attachments that come with it. Heavily shattered and not knowing what to do, I remember my steps going towards the calmest place I could think of and that was the Ramakrishna Temple where I used to frequent with my friend since long. Here amidst of a tearing pain of the multiple traumas in my life I felt peace and comforted. I began pondering at this stage what is the meaning of life and where are we all heading. I looked around and saw only chaos everywhere; though people did not reveal things I could make out what is happening on the inside. The need for a guru and a one path grew stronger again. I knew I was following many paths at the same time. I was also following the teachings of Sri Ravi Shankar and watched guruji's videos. I had learnt well the path of karma yoga while being acquainted with the teachings of Swami Vivekanandji. I also put myself into bhakti yoga at the Ramakrisha Ashram. I read about Jnyana yoga and was immensely impressed.
Then came a day when I was very troubled by a personal issue and went to my friend and asked him for a certain book. He brought two books with him. One was the book I had asked for and the other was an unknown old book. I asked him why did he get this one. He replied, "Don't know, while I was picking up your book this just came into my hand and I guess it was intended for you." I looked at the book and it read. "Spiritual Conversations with Swami Muktananda". He looked odd to me but I just opened the book in the middle and read a paragraph. I was shocked because it contained the answer to the problem that was troubling me that day! I thanked my friend and left with that book and read it completely being thoroughly influenced by the teachings. Muktanandji stated in that book what his guru had taught him. His guru was Bhagwan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. I never knew who all these people are. But then one day the same friend in our yoga class asked if we go on a tour to Ganeshpuri to see Muktanandaji's ashram.
Quickly everything was planned and we set out. After reaching Ganeshpuri, we headed to Muktanandji's ashram but learnt that his ashram is closed and the auto guy told there is the ashram of his guru there - Nityanandji's ashram. I did not know anything about Nityanandaji then but little did i know that the book i read of Mukthanandaji's was the manifestation of his guru's shakti itself that I got so impressed with. We went over there and booked a room. After that we started visiting Baba Nityananda's ashram and the places where he sat, walked, rested and took samadhi. I had a very mystical experience in front of Baba's chair and felt assured by Bade Babaji that I would get what I am looking for very soon. After that experience I was very very relaxed. I returned home. Days passed and I wondered what was to come and where is my guru? Which is the path that I should take? One day my eyes fell on Shivanand Avdhoot Baba's telecast and was enchanted. I was always enchanted by such telecasts but this baba's teaching looked so simple and matched to what I always felt. There was no discrimination of any religion. His teachings reminded me of Jesus Christ's teachings. More of all what appealed to me was when babaji said "You are responsible for whatever state you are in." The law of karma started making more sense to me. In fact, everything that happened or was happening in my life made lot of sense to me. I learned very bitter facts as I returned to watch the telecast everytime. Finally I decided I must attend his shivir for I was simply shaken by the overwhelming events occurring in my life. After watching a few more episodes I finally concluded that Siddha marg was my path, most suited to me.
I recounted what I had learnt from Swami Rama about siddhas and yogis. (Highly recommend book: Living with the Himalayan Masters) Swami Rama was a Sri Vidya sadhak also. Swamiji roamed the entire Himalayan ranges and Tibetan land for many years and learnt many things from many gurus. It is very interesting to note his learnings that he has mentioned in detail about the yogis and the siddhis that he experienced while learning. Swamiji is very honest in his writings and this book can be an excellent company for those who love to know more about the yogis, the mountains, their sadhana, their siddhis, their lives and so much of mystical experiences surrounding their lives. If you are an avid reader with similar tastes blindly go for this book.
I was happy to see another yogi (Babaji) who carried wisdom from the mountains from ancient siddhas and empowered with such healing powers. More of everything he was a grihasthi and was so practical about his teaching of living life to the fullest. His words had power. He commanded serenity. His teachings were so practical and easy to understand. I attended my first shivir in Pune in May 2008. There what I experienced cannot be explained in words. That does not stop me from being a Christian either. I love talking to Christ and just love His loving energies. Of all the siddhas my closest have always been Bade baba, Sai baba, Jesus Christ, Swami Rama, Mahavtar baba and the lineage. Most fortunate to have a living siddha - our babaji. The experience from each of these masters are not any less or not any more. Everything is very similar with their energies.
I don't preach here that this is the best path or whatever; it is the best to me. Everyone has different likings and tastes. One has to follow what one feels very comfortable with. Emotional people seem to vibe well in the bhakthi marg, tough people tend to vibe with karma yog, intellectuals seem to vibe with gyana marg and mediators and people of the mind tend to go well with raja yog. I have been through all this and what I found in ShivYog is that it is a blend of all margs. Such way all paths and all religions are the tools of the Divine. In religion and all paths if all just understood that not one's method or path is superior than the others and that all are the different road to the same destination, all the chaos in the world will end.
It is such a great network and a divine mystical plan of interweaving everyone together. Just like the divine calls out to humans through different paths, within each path also the divine calls out to people in different ways. The calling is always gentle by the divine. The reminders are always gentle. But when one pays no heed to the truth of one's purpose on earth, one is put to test and sometimes put to the extremes from where one struggles in desperation to catch hold of the invisible hand that was always there but not seen until then......
"Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu"
"May All Beings Be Happy and Free"