Excerpts from an email I just shared with the Art of Living Austin group:
I just attended an intensive silence course with Philip this past weekend at the ashram, along with many others from Austin. I was initially not enthusiastic about the intensive, but now that I’ve gone through it, I’m completely in bliss!
On my recent silence courses, my experience of meditation could usually be summed up as “foggy”. Not this time though. After the initial few meditations, the fog was beginning to clear. I was sitting wide awake and alert through one ‘hollow and empty’ after another, and I was finally getting an experience of clarity in and after meditation. Clarity, stillness, and sattva — I loved every moment of it.
Our mornings began with the divine treat of waking up to Philip’s flute music, followed shortly by a great yoga sequence that he used to lead as part of morning sadhana.
Knowledge was in abundance. On the first evening (before everyone even joined in) he was talking about the course points. Not everyone gets ‘opposite values are complementary’, he said. We understand it intellectually, yet we crave the ‘positive’ and shun the ‘negative’. In that context he also made the distinction between being happy and being free. That really caught my attention. He explained that one can be unhappy and yet be free. Freedom from happiness and unhappiness comes through knowing that opposite values are complementary. Really knowing, that is; not just superficially knowing.
He also talked about success and failure. Success usually comes at tasks that are within our capabilities, and those are not a source of growth. And after a failure, most of us disengage — again, not a means for personal growth. How many of you see at least one area of your life where you are disengaged, he asked us. Many hands shot up, including mine. This was a big eye-opener for me about myself.
On the second night we watched a knowledge video about tattva gyaan, or knowledge of the elements. In it Guruji spoke about the impact that the elements have on our mind and body. Due to the play of the various elements (earth, water, fire, air, space) our emotions and thoughts flow one way or another. Time and place also play a big role. We tend to associate our emotions as being caused by situations or people around us. But once the play of elements is clear, it becomes obvious that the link between the people and the emotions is not — and was never — a causal link. And that’s why we need to have the ‘hollow and empty’ as an experience rather than just as intellectual knowing. In these meditations we observe the breath. Each of the first four elements has traces of all the other three contained it. Hence observing the breath alone is a great source of observing all the elements… and of course space, the hollow and empty space.
Those were just the high points of the video, a gem that’s to be watched in full whenever you get a chance on a silence course. The next night’s video, ‘Freedom and Bondage’, was also very memorable. Guruji talked about how the military, which protects our freedom, does not afford any freedom at all to its soldiers. To cultivate freedom, certain discipline is required. In this video there were also jokes in abundance about freedom and marriage, which are better relayed in person. 🙂 Philip also shared a few stories from his early days, about Maharishi, about his first time seeing Guruji in India with Maharishi, then about his early course experiences and silence course, and so on.
I was reminded that we are quite lucky to have the ashram so close by and to have this body of knowledge accessible to us, and to have regular satsangs as well as thrice weekly long kriya in the Austin area. Philip also pointed out that we are very lucky to have the sangha, the ashram, and the one world family. No amount of money can buy us these things; they are only to be obtained as gifts… from our beloved Guru!
If you haven’t done a silence course yet in 2012, do the next one. It is truly a gift without parallel.
I belong to you all!