23 Dec Living with a Master by Baladev
Living with a Master
by Baladev, December 2021
Of all the buddhas who have ever attained enlightenment,
not a single one accomplished this without relying upon a master.
And, of all the thousand buddhas who will appear in this eon,
none of them will attain enlightenment
without relying on a master.
– The Buddha
When I was 19, I had a friend who was attending The Ashram. I had never been interested in visiting an ashram but when he invited me I found myself feeling curious and decided to go along. I didn’t really know what to expect, the program was called satsang, it was held on a Saturday night and to my surprise that night changed the direction of my life radically.
At 19, I had never met anyone who was living in a happy and peaceful state, or someone who spent their life teaching, awakening, and helping others. I felt drawn to this teacher, I recognised something within him, and felt intuitively that he understood the secret to happiness and enlightenment.
I soon discovered that Guruji (Swami Shankarananda), had left his successful life, everything that was comfortable and familiar, to go to India to become a disciple of the great Jagat Guru, Baba Muktananda, where he sat as a disciple through thousands of hours of spiritual talks, repeated millions of mantras and meditated for thousands of hours. This seemed important to me as I couldn’t imagine many people leaving their life, their career and loved ones to live such a disciplined spiritual life. The surrender was enormous! The sacrifices he had made and everything he had achieved, his service to others, and the path his sadhana and discipleship took inspired my own sadhana or spiritual practice. I’d found a teacher I wanted to not only serve but a great being I could learn from.
In lockdown there was a pivotal moment in my sadhana which felt very special. I had just finished reading Guruji’s memoir, Ganeshpuri Days. One day, I decided to meditate in what’s called ‘the cave’ at the Ashram. It’s hard to describe exactly what I understood but I had a moment of complete identification with the Shakti or divine power and also to the Guru principle. One of Guruji’s primary teachings is that the Self is so close, so intimate, and in a flash, I felt I knew exactly what he was talking about! I found myself intimately connected to the Shakti, the divine power or the Guru as my very own true Self as perfect, brilliant, stillness.
In the few months since this insight about the inner guru being my actual true self, I have felt a paradigm shift which has increased my level of peace and self-acceptance. I still go in and out of relationship with this place, but I know how to return to it, and it feels true in my own experience that the Guru is always available inside us, as energy, clarity and peace.
I believe, a teacher who has been through the process of discipleship with their teacher attains greatness and transmits that greatness to others. Guruji taught me that if I want to overcome suffering and be happy, the source of happiness comes from being in relationship with the Guru and doing the practices, just like he did.
I feel it’s important to honour both the Guru and the lineage of truth seekers across history. When we honour the teacher we are also honouring the breakthroughs human beings have had with the mind, with the heart and with the Shakti or divine power which dwells within us all. I feel fortunate to have found a Guru who is part of a living tradition or lineage of Guru’s who have the power of Shaktipat, of awakening people just like me.
In meeting Guruji, I’ve found someone who has figured out the key to life and to happiness and I can learn from him. It’s hard to express the depth of my gratitude and love for Guruji and Devi Ma. I felt honoured when I first met Guruji and through my sadhana or discipleship that honour has grown, and I honour him to this day.
You are my teacher,
I am your student.
I am here to serve you.
Whatever works for you Works for me.
Baladev during satsang at The Ashram in Mount Eliza.