Mysterious Inner World by Vani Ma

Mysterious Inner World

by Vani Ma, September 2020

I had no idea I was searching for a Guru. I was 20 years old when I first met Swami Shankarananda (Guruji). My Dad brought me along to a satsang in Elwood. I knew nothing about yoga. I had no external reference, no framework to understand satsang. I sat on the floor and chanted and meditated for the first time. Guruji talked about something called, “the inner Self,” a mysterious inner world destination. Guruji said, “You don’t have to believe me that the inner Self exists, look within yourself and see what lies there.”

I began to attend satsang regularly. After a few weeks I received Shaktipat—it is a vivid memory—I  felt Guru’s grace for the first time. My cynical mind stopped thinking. As I was chanting the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, my attention was drawn forcefully into my third eye. I went deeper and deeper within, and suddenly my Consciousness expanded, and I was connected to the whole universe. My attention then went to my heart. I became a disembodied blob of love. I was incredibly blissful.

I have known Guruji my whole adult life, and when I look back, I see just how much he has influenced me. What does the Guru mean to me? The Guru means Shaktipat! Guruji kindled my inner world and opened a portal to a new reality, a higher dimension of life. That understanding of a new reality has not left me.

The Guru means Shakti, spiritual energy. I feel it whenever I am in Guruji’s presence. He serves as a reminder that whatever my mind may be thinking, the correct question is always, “What brings me closer to that reality?” The Guru is that higher reality.

The other day I was complaining about my life to Guruji. I had forgotten that higher reality. While I was talking to him, Shakti filtered into my heart. I said, “Thank goodness the mundane world is not all of reality. Thank goodness there is a higher perspective.”

The Guru also means sadhana, an opportunity to grow. I was a sad and scared little person who first turned up at satsang all those years ago. I have had many opportunities to examine and overcome my negative tendencies, all the things that stand between me and the divine.

In Guruji’s spiritual memoir, Ganeshpuri Days, he writes of Baba Muktananda:

‘So it was that on May 9, 1971, I found myself next to Ram Dass waiting at the junction of the road from Bombay, across from the statue of Shivaji. We chatted as we waited under a tree for the Shankaracharya. Ram Dass told me that Muktananda’s ashram was so powerful and ‘on purpose’ that if I were to stay here for a few months I would be transformed. I didn’t reply, but…his comment unveiled an inner truth: I had already decided that I was never going to leave. It was a great blessing – and a rare one – to have met a Self-realised Guru who offered such a strong context for sadhana. Most people never have such an opportunity. Wouldn’t I be foolish not to make it my highest priority?

When Ram Dass said those words to me, I discovered my soul’s vow. It was, ‘I will stay with Baba’.

 In a nutshell, this thought summed up the yoga that I understood and that I knew would work for me. It meant staying with him come hell or high water…For the first time in my life, I felt with utter certainty that I was doing the best thing I could possibly do, and I was in the best place to do it.’

I know that the Guru is my very own heart. When I’m in relationship with Guruji, I’m in relationship with myself. The reverse is also true; when I’m in relationship with myself, I’m naturally in relationship with Guruji. This relationship is a perfect mirror. The best thing I can do, is to remember to stay in touch with myself.

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