“For picking up the pearls one must oneself dive deep into the ocean”
This interview is brought to you by the fellows of the Heartfulness Fellowship. It is the fourth instalment of our interview series, called, Pearls of Wisdom, where we document the experiences, memories and journeys of meditation of the residents of Param Dham ashram. Many of these people have had spiritual journeys spanning decades. They are seasoned travellers on the path and have experienced the twists and turns and highs and lows of their quest. We hope, by sharing their stories, we may also learn from their wisdom.
Introducing Kamlesh Kapoor, from Delhi.
When, why and how did you start in Heartfulness meditation?
I joined in 1977. I started when I was going through a big crisis in my life and I was looking for some support. I wasn’t a very religious person, someone who went to temples and all of that, but I was looking for someone to guide me. Someone to tell me what to do. Frankly, I wasn’t looking for a guru. Someone said, why don’t you try meditation? It was a difficult phase in my life so I said, “Sure, why not?” I took it up in a very casual manner. I said to myself, if I like it, I’ll continue and if there’s nothing in it for me, then I will just chuck it out. I gave myself a certain timeframe, 2-3 weeks, whereby I said that I will see if it is working and if not, I’ll forget about it. I didn’t know who Babuji was because I wasn’t looking for a guru. The woman who introduced me, I didn’t even ask her who he was, because I just wanted to learn meditation. I asked her would I be able to do it. Usually when I get disturbed I read the Gita or something. And she said, “Yes, you will be able to do it.” I started practising and within the time frame that I had given myself, I had an experience during meditation where I was totally at peace with my surroundings, which I had been looking for all along. That convinced me that there was something in it and that is why I continued, otherwise I would have stuffed it!
Once I started, I never took it lightly. I did my abhyas seriously, went to Sunday satsangh seriously. I felt that even if I was unwell and if I could walk, I would go to satsangh. These days, it is missing. A lot of people are casual about it because you get it so easily!
How has your journey in Sahaj Marg been?
Well! There have been difficult patches. It is not all smooth. I was fortunate enough to have personal contact with the two gurus, Babuji and Chariji. It wasn’t always easy because Master will always try to teach you. He would say, “I am here to make you, not to please you.” If you were wrong, he would teach you in a very indirect manner and you would be squirming thinking, why did he say that and what did he mean by that? But you would go into it and introspect. It was good, because there were patches where I was very uncomfortable and sick and I would call out to Babuji and I could feel him beside me, pacifying me and telling me, “Go back to sleep.” I felt very close to Babuji. Not physically close to him, in terms of personal contact, but every time I called out to him he was there. That bonding was there. These days, I feel this is lacking. It is very impersonal. Then, it was more personal.
With Chariji, there were phases where he would pamper us and give us so much importance. But there were patches where he would pull you up and indirectly make you realize that you were wrong about something. So you were always on guard that I should not make any mistake, or if I do make a mistake then I should really make an effort to overcome it. So we were struggling to overcome things, to evolve and for that we had to struggle. Of course, the guru’s support was always there, without that, it would be impossible. It’s been a long journey! Not without its ups and downs.
Has there ever been a time where you stopped the practise completely?
No. There were one or two times where I felt, why am I here? Or if I was scolded in an indirect way and it really hit me, I was wondering is it really worth it or should I even carry on? But I never thought about giving up.
How have you experienced the evolution of the Mission from Sahaj Marg to Heartfulness?
It’s been fantastic! Babuji’s time, it used to be very few people, so when he used to come to Delhi or in Shahjahanpur it was a very small group. When we went, it used to be just 10-15 people. Babuji would hardly talk, there would be a mix of people there; some foreigners, some Indian, some educated, some illiterate, some villagers, farmers; but everyone felt satisfied that whatever was inside them, Babuji would answer them in a different manner. In meditation, you would get the answer.
The practise has been made easier in Daaji’s time. Earlier, people had to struggle a lot! And those who were serious put in a lot of effort. Those who were not serious would give up and go. I remember in 1982, my husband wasn’t well and he had to go to Chennai for his heart surgery and someone said to me, “What’s the point in being here if we have to go through all these things!” So I said, we should look at it, that we are here for spiritual growth, not just for our sufferings and ill-wills to be cured. I gave her a piece of my mind, that this is not the way we should look at it. And there are many people who I know after so many years of practise, have given up. There was one person whose son died, and he gave up the practise because he said Master could have saved him. If you are serious, you will not have this kind of attitude. He gives you all the support, but he cannot cure or prevent death – although I know he can when there is urgent need and depending on the abhyasi’s devotion, individual growth and spiritual requirements. I often feel that if Master gave certain people special attention, others will become jealous. People will say, if there is partiality in the Mission, what is the point in being here. So we are judging by the behaviour of other people. It’s a superficial way of judging. You must judge by your own experience. And your experience will come if you are serious.
Do you have any specific stories about your interactions with the Masters that you would like to share with us?
I’ll tell you the story about the second time I went to Shahjahanpur. I was a person who was brought up in a city, so I was a very independent sort of person and I said to myself, “I will go alone!” Not realizing that Shahjahanpur was a very backward place at that time and the women were more protected. I went, and there was a group of village farmers, most of them were illiterate and I was the only lady. I felt a little awkward that I wasn’t fitting in the group. In the morning we would go to Babuji’s house and in the evening Babuji would generally come to the ashram. During the morning sitting, I suddenly got the answer to my query. The thought came to me that we are all thirsty souls, and we are here for the same thing. There is no difference. But that has to come from inside. Not someone telling you. So Babuji made me feel that there was no difference, that we were all there for the same purpose. After that my awkwardness disappeared and I went back to the ashram and served food to all of them. So I learned a lot. I came from a totally different background, so it was learning all the way.
On another trip, once we reached Shahajanpur, we were going to visit Babuji’s house and it started raining heavily. There were four or five people waiting on the tonga (horse and carriage) but it didn’t turn up. So some of the men opened their umbrellas and they began walking. I was feeling a bit self-conscious and embarrassed, and suddenly I thought, I’ve come all the way from Delhi to see Babuji, if i’m going to sit and wait here, then what’s the point? A bit of rain isn’t going to stop me! I also opened my umbrella and ran up to meet them. Although it was a big step for me to do that! And seeing that, the other people started walking too!
What book from the Mission have you found yourself returning to over the years?
Well, Reality at Dawn is supposed to be the Bible! It was the first book I read. Babuji’s views on religion really touched me, because I felt the same way. I felt that all of this religion is so superficial, there is no depth in it, there is no meaning. I never went to any temples or did any ritualistic puja or anything. To me, it seemed useless. So I agreed with what Babuji was saying.
My Master is beautifully written, because you really get the feel for how much Master loved Babuji. He brings out his personality, his views on various subjects and his love for humanity in a really wonderful manner. And it’s easy to read for newcomers. It’s more like a story, a personal story.
Is there any particular quote which resonates with you from one of the Masters?
Chariji would say “Even if I have to beat you with a stick of flowers, I’ll do it. I am here to make you. You are here to become.”
There are so many. I’ll tell you one thing about Chariji. Once, Babuji was in hospital and it happened to be my husband’s birthday and we wanted to have a satsangh for his birthday. Before that, there used to be satsangh for everything, but then Babuji put a stop to it and said no more private satsanghs. But this time, he agreed and Chariji wrote in the book for Babuji’s health report for the day, which was on view to the abhyasis, that there would be satsangh at such and such place. In the morning, both of us got ready. Master conducted the sitting for us and Mami (Chariji’s wife). During the sitting I felt some noise but I didn’t open my eyes. After the sitting, when I opened my eyes, Mami had left some presents on the chair for both of us, for my husband’s birthday. Master said, “Leejiey, (take)”. I was dumbstruck, because usually I do not accept presents from anyone. I was one of those very independent persons. So I told him, “I don’t know what to say, but usually I don’t like to take anything.” But I saw Babuji sitting on the chair, where the presents were kept. Throughout the sitting I could feel Babuji’s presence. Alll of us had tears in our eyes. So Master just put the presents in my hand and I couldn’t say anything more.
Later on, at another time when the topic came up again, he said, “You must learn to take. It is very easy to give, because it boosts your ego. If someone gives you something lovingly, learn to take it, because it teaches you humility.” And he jokingly said, “If you don’t learn that, in the next life you will be born a beggar!” But it is something that I have always remembered and it is something that I have tried to change in myself. Somehow, that had so much impact on me. Later on, I saw when people used to come and bring gifts, Master would accept them so gracefully, whatever anybody brought. He made me realize not to take everything as an obligation.
For people who are new to meditation or who are aspiring to continue meditating, do you have any tips?
I would only say, take it up seriously. Unless you put in your full efforts, you will not see the results. These days because you are getting it so easily, you really take it quite casually and do not put in your effort and expect the guru to do everything. Earlier, if the guru saw you struggling he would definitely help you. But now, there is no duty, no commitment – but expectation is there. Too much expectation from the guru. As Chariji used to say, “I am not here to please you.” Now it seems, we’ll go to the guru, have a good time and it’s over. It’s not a good time, you have to learn and imbibe. Everyone wants a sitting for the slightest problem, thinking that it will solve everything. You have to work upon yourself. I have to change myself. In our time, you had to wait 15 days between sittings. In Babuji’s time, hardly any individual sittings were there. Gradually, in Chariji’s time, I remember whenever we used to go, there were always 3 or 4 people, so it would turn out to be a group sitting. The system of fixing an appointment and taking an individual sitting came much later.
Some kind of discipline is required. The whole attitude has changed. Some of it is very good, because it has expanded to the masses and is reaching a lot more people. But, in the process, there is too much advertisement in the media and everywhere. And that is making people think that it is so easy! But when you start doing it, then people realize that you have to put your efforts into it. Then because of lack of commitment, they drop off easily.
How did you come to live in the ashram?
After my husband’s death, I was living in my house alone. I had a heart attack and after the second episode, my health was suffering so I shifted to relatives for a while. With my age and ill health, and also for security reasons, everyone insisted that I should not stay alone. I shifted to Bangalore and now I am in Param Dham!