By Suryamithra Vishwa/DailyFT/Harmony Page
Early last month when I visited the Heartfulness Meditation Centre (also known as Sahaj Marg) in Colombo, I was asked if I would be interested in attending a meditation session to be held in Jaffna. I said yes, of course I would. The meditation it turned out was to be for military personnel of Jaffna and to be conducted by an Indian and Sri Lankan team of the Heartfulness – Sahaj Marg Movement.
In a lifetime of appreciating comparative spirituality and pursuing the path of spiritual oneness, my latest spiritual experience has been with Heartfulness meditation, which is a form of Raja Yoga.
Founded in 1945 at Utter Pradesh, Sahaj Marg – translated as the Natural Path, is overall under the Shri Ram C h a n d r a M i s s i o n i n I n d i a . Its current spiritual leader is Kamlesh D. Patel, also known as Daaji
Sitting in the verandah of the Sri Lankan Sahaj Marg Centre in Wellawatte, Mahadeva Subothan, the current Co-ordinator of the Sri Lankan mission explained how the meditation for the military came to be organized.
An Amazing Story
It turned out to be an amazing story. A story connected with the heart, the core of every emotion that brings calm or chaos to the self and the world, depending on how we handle this vital compass of the human anatomy.
It turned out that a Heartfulness meditator in Jaffna, Sooriyamoorty Suriyapiradeeba Vhasavan who runs a beauty academy, had last November sent the Commander of Security Forces of Jaffna, Major General Ruwan Wanigasooriya an invitation to a certification awarding ceremony for her students that was to be held at the Jaffna University.
As she narrated to me later when I met her, she had been unsure if the Major General would take the time to attend a civilian function such as this. He had however attended the event and had been honored as the Chief Guest.
In the discussion that followed on the occasion, Suriyapiradeeba had happened to mention to him that she was affiliated with the Heartfulness meditation movement. Attempting to answer his questions about this meditation method, she had explained that the best way to understand it would be to experience the meditation.
What had followed was that the Commander of the Security Forces of Jaffna and Suriyapiradeeba had sat face to face, as is the tradition of the Heartfulness method, eyes closed for half an hour in meditation. The core element of the Heartfulness tradition is that it is begun with some prescribed relaxation techniques, then finally focuses on the heart and is induced with yogic transmission by a trainer which is known as ‘Pranahuti’ to better facilitate the evolution of the inner self of an individual.
Deep spiritual experiences cannot be explained. It is something one has to feel and words often may fail to describe it.
The outcome of that meditation session was that from 20 to 22 February, a Heartfulness meditation was organized for over 200 officers of the Jaffna based military who sat at the Kankasanthurai Thalsevana Army hotel hall, for half an hour for three mornings with a group of Sri Lankan and Indian Heartfulness Trainers, focusing on the purest light in their heart, transcending language, race or religion and transcending the past or future and being present in that moment, within the heart.
“I thought they would be in military uniform,” exclaimed an Indian meditation trainer of the Heartfulness group who seemed amazed to witness at 7 a.m. on 20 February, the first day of the meditation, instead of uniforms, human beings, dressed in white, the color usually worn for meditation.
Meditation For The Military
Conducted by Dr. Kasthuri Venkatachalam, an Indian Heartfulness meditation trainer from Salem, Tamil Nadu, with 29 years of experience in facilitating Heartfulness meditation in India and abroad, the meditation session for the military focused on relaxation as well as the Heartfulness cleaning techniques, with an explanation that the ‘cleaning’ or purifying one’s mental and spiritual system is something that should be done daily to eliminate all accumulated complexities and impurities.
“Anywhere in the world a soldier sacrifices a lot for his duty. They are away from their hometowns. They miss their family. This is a big sacrifice. Meditation practice therefore could be a great boon to them, giving inner resilience and this was how we shaped the meditation training. To bring resilience, happiness and harmony to the heart and promote human integration which are key purposes of the Heartfulness meditation method. Its core principal is based on love and compassion, the way of the Lord Buddha,” Dr. Venkatachalam explained.
Brother Subothan, in his explanation to the military officers, as to what the Heartfulness meditation is, emphasized that it is not part of any ‘religious’ tradition but solely a technique of exercising our minds towards unique deep spiritual stages of our hearts.
Video clippings were shown of Kanha Shanti Vanam, the Hyderabad-based global headquarters of the Heartfulness Institute which on 28 January observed the 75th anniversary of the organization. Said to be currently the world’s largest meditation center where 100,000 practitioners can sit and meditate at a time, it was explained that anyone can come to this center and reside free of charge for the purpose of meditation.
“What matters is the spiritual capacity of every person to see oneself in another human being and know that our hearts are connected to everyone else and the whole of the universe. Changing the world starts from ourselves,” opined brother Subothan.
Varalakshmi Vijayakumar, an Indian Heartfulness meditation trainer and a psychologist by profession in her address spoke to the military personnel on the importance of work-life balance which they should focus on, given the commitments of their duty.
This Jaffna-based Heartfulness meditation was clearly a profound experience for everyone who participated.
“To sit with over 200 military officers and consider them as brothers of the larger spiritual family and meditate with them was a profound experience as was the two days when I meditated with the Northern Commander, introducing him to the Heartfulness meditation,” opined Suriyapiradeeba.
In a roomful of meditating people, the energy is wonderful. It is this beautiful energy that was manifest during the Heartfulness meditation for military officers, with several of the officers giving their feedback to the trainers of the inner calm they felt and how the Heartfulness cleaning method helped them to have a better meditation experience.
Meanwhile, it is pertinent to mention the obvious humaneness and simplicity with which Major General Ruwan Wanigasooriya carries his official position which was not lost on the Sri Lankan and Indian visitors of the Heartfulness institute.
One take home from this meditation experience was that when we see ourselves as spiritual beings, the status quo of how we interact with each other changes and brings us closer to a beautiful path of love and peace that this world needs.
Kamalesh Patel in his book ‘Designing Destiny – The Heartfulness Way’ points out in chapter 4 on the topic of meditation: “Simplicity is not a weakness. Purity is not a weakness. They are mighty signs if we allow them to be. As we nurture the subtle condition bestowed during meditation, over time they create a beautiful environment. Imagine what sort of environment can be created at home when we meditate, our family members meditate and our friends also come home and meditate. There will be so much lightness, peace and joy. Everyone will feel happy in that space.”
He further points out: “An atmosphere that is created by our collective thoughts and feelings is called an egregore. When we all meditate together we create a subtle field of loving unity. And when enough people meditate, a particular tipping point in the egregore will be reached. Then the course of humanity will change.”
In the book ‘The Heartfulness Way’ by Kamalesh D. Patel and Joshua Pollock, it is stated under the chapter titled ‘Demystifying Meditation’: “Through meditation, we are also able to better understand the wisdom of others who have walked the path before us. Unless we meditate, such knowledge tends to go over our heads. It does not resonate with our experience, so we cannot relate to it. Often a beginning meditator may read a spiritual book, but they may not understand much of it. If they read it again after having meditated for some time, they’ll start to find gems that they didn’t notice on the first read.”
The Heartfulness movement, currently headed globally by Kamlesh D. Patel, was introduced to Sri Lanka twenty years ago by Suntharamoorthi Chelliah, a Sri Lankan who established and co-ordinated the Sri Lankan chapter of this meditative path, until his retirement two years ago at the age of 80.
Those interested in Heartfulness meditation books or learning about the practice could contact Brother Subothan on 0777 076818.
(Suryamithra Vishwa is a Sri Lankan who strives to transcend beyond inherited birth identity. She cultivates trees in the central province as well as elsewhere in Sri Lanka and has a keen interest in comparative spirituality and indigenous knowledge. Her academic training has been in sociology and she is a curriculum writer and visiting lecturer in Mass Communication at a national university in Sri Lanka under her inherited family name. Her library of 20,000 books, of which a large number is on Ayurveda, agro forestry, healing, global literature, science, comparative religions and secular spirituality has been opened up for the public free of charge. Those interested in borrowing any book could contact 0812494285.)