Came home Sunday night from our usual weekend in the country. There wasn’t much else in my e-mail except your cryptic:
my name is Laurie.
How did you begin your spiritual journey?
Never thought about it. You make me wonder. Maybe I started quite early in life – when I learned sooner or later everybody has to die. I became very angry with God. If that was the case, why should I even want to live?
Of course I also knew God was Good. He loved me. He kept me safe.
Something didn’t add up here.
Then I learned about the atom and that everything is basically energy. All right then, here’s the answer. Energy cannot die so I cannot die.
Duly baptized, I called myself a Protestant. Looked forward to my confirmation (two years overdue for reasons beyond my control) and cheerfully went to bible class. Unfortunately, the first thing I learned here was the inherent danger of passing the age of fourteen without being confirmed. Had I suddenly died, I would have had to share the fate of all heathens.
This started question time.
‘You mean to say only Christians can go to heaven?’
‘And good people who follow another religion cannot?’
‘And what about people who have never even heard of Christianity?’
‘Everybody has been given a chance. Missionaries have been everywhere.’
Now that I knew was not true. There were still pockets of uncharted lands where no missionary has been.
My assertion broke no ice. In that case it was just too bad for those poor people.
This did not sound like my heaven, so maybe I took the first step on my spiritual journey right there and then when I refused to be confirmed. Then and now I had and have no quarrel with Christianity – only with the way it was and sometimes still is being taught. I knew I had to find my own way. And I also knew God was always close at hand.
Soon after I came to India I thought Yoga is the way.
After three failed attempts to complete a three months Hatha Yoga course, I found Mani Umrolia of the Bihar School of Yoga. Here I learned the meaning of Asanas (the physical poses), the importance of pranayama (breathing techniques), the value of meditation, Yoga Nidra (psychic sleep with full awareness), Anta Mouna (inner silence).
During our first meeting Mani gave me a short Yoga Nidra which she said was not hypnotism, though it felt a bit like an unsuccessful attempt to knock me out.
Then she casually mentioned the spiritual helpers all around us, and talked about how we made our own circumstances. We were responsible for any accident we might have or cause. The devas and demi gods were all around us, she said, waiting for us to call them into our life.
Two events prepared me for my first meeting with Mani. Shortly before I met her and almost simultaneously I found and read Yogi Ramacharaka’s Fourteen Lessons in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism and Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain by Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder.
The Fourteen Lessons were given in 1904. They deal with the human aura, telepathy and clairvoyance, thought dynamics, pranic energy, the astral world, spiritual growth and astral helpers – all topics which sane people hardly dared to mention until much later.
The Russian psychic discoveries were first published in May 1970. Mine is a ninth printing paperback edition of 1973. It deals with Kirlian photography, Healing with Thought, Dousing, Telepathy, UFO’s and PSI and the like. Ivan T. Sanderson of Columbia, New Jersey, who wrote the foreword, made it a point to declare: “First, let it be most clearly understood that this book has nothing whatsoever to do with any ‘psychic’ anything.”
Had I now read these two books, I would have probably come home with “First, let it be most clearly understood that my new yoga teacher is gaga.” Fortunately, and unlike Mr. Sanderson (whoever he may be) who was afraid of the word psychic, my journey has been guided by
“Know, O disciple!
That those who have passed through the silence, and felt its peace, and retained its strength,
They long that you shall pass through it also.
Therefore, in the hall of Learning,
When he is capable of entering there,
The disciple will always find his master.”
Sorry, this is getting too long. You only wanted to know how I started my spiritual journey. Coming to think of it – we are all on the path, we all start afresh every day.
A Happy Postscript
This I must share with you all. I sent my answer to Laurie on Monday. On Tuesday she wrote back:
Dear Ursula, thank you very much for your thoughtful response to my question I posed. You are from India? Anyway you asked how I began my journey … quite simply really. All of my life I’ve had an inner yearning to know my source of guidance. I was born Methodist and attended a Methodist Church. About 10 years ago I kinda branched out on my own. Read all kinds of spiritual material. My basic belief is that my guider is as close as my breath and is there for me at all times. Intuition is a big part of my life. I enjoy a lot of quiet time and really enjoy the beauty of nature, birds chirping etc. I have a splendid meditation area in my backyard.
I have never tried yoga but have read about it. It is one of those things that I always think about. I think about on a daily basis how to become more spiritual, more at peace and enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. You seem like you are a wonderful writer and express yourself well. Do you journal regularly: Please share with me what you feel like to share.
Walk a gentle path,
(Yes, Laurie, I do journal fairly regularly. And a million thanks for the four little words to remind me to … WALK A GENTLE PATH.)