What I am about to talk about is my experiences with spirituality. I have been asked to share my story for the benefit for others who are interested in finding God. Let me assure you that what the scriptures speak of is real. It is not a dream that you will never reach. You can achieve the goal of liberation, without any doubt whatsoever. If you do exactly what I have done, there is no question you will succeed in this very lifetime. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants, the ancient rishis who discovered a way to bring the divine into our lives. Many people do yoga and learn about hundreds of different techniques and rules and restrictions, but others like myself, simply did one thing over and over again until Divine Grace made the process automatic. This is truly all that is needed.
My name is James, I am 29 years old and live in Australia. At the time of this writing, March 13 2015, it would be 15 months ago I began mantra japa sadhana under the guidance of Ravi, progressing from Bala to Maha Shodasi. I am not vegetarian, have done very little yoga, perhaps 5 or 6 classes of hatha yoga. I also have had very limited knowledge of any religious scriptures, or spiritual concepts and had never chanted a mantra before. I don"t know why, but I just felt I wanted to chant and see what would happen, and was initiated by Ravi the very day I discovered this site. I didn"t really have a goal in mind when I started sadhana, and I can"t say I was really attached to getting something out of it. I read about liberation as a concept, but I did not think about this at all. I was also concerned that I wasn"t good enough for any kind of liberation because I ate meat, knew nothing about yoga and felt that there were many around me who were much better people than I was. At that time, I felt I was nobody.
I was taught to align the Maha Shodasi mantra with my breath, with each line of the mantra mentally recited according to inhalation and exhalation while focusing on ajna chakra. This was the only method taught. By aligning with the breath, I was taught that the mantra would eventually repeat perpetually in my subconscious mind. It was called ajapa in Tantra. I had many doubts along the way, but Ravi always gave me encouragement and reassurance. I very much enjoyed japa, and sometimes did it for 8 hours continuously.
Very early in my sadhana I experienced the feeling of bliss when reciting the Maha Shodasi mantra. I had never experienced anything like it before. Sometimes the bliss was so strong that I would cry. I was told by Ravi this was the presence of the Divine Mother. I never had darshan of Her, but the bliss started to stay with me always, even when I was not reciting, and this was more than enough. I did not need to see any kind of form or vision because I knew she was with me. I felt the bliss come from my heart region and it would go from there to the rest of my body. Often the bliss would cover my whole body from head to toe until I could not sense where my body was. When this occurred, I would simply lie in bed and observe what was happening in the moment, and feel the bliss. At this stage, I was actually meditating but did not realise this. I did not know much about meditation at all.
After about 7 or 8 months of japa, I noticed that the mantra was sometimes repeating itself in my mind throughout the day, without any effort. It would happen unexpectedly, often when I wasn"t doing anything in particular, or if I was sitting and observing my thoughts. I also noticed that sometimes I would hear the mantra in my dreams. It was the vibration that was felt and known rather than heard. When I would wake in the morning the mantra was the first thing I heard in my mind but in the early stages I heard it for a while and then it would vanish. I took this as a sign of encouragement to keep doing intense sadhana so the mantra could stay with me always.
It was only a few weeks after I noticed the mantra repeating itself on occasion that the mantra began repeating 24 hours a day. Every waking moment was mantra and in my dreams it was mantra. I was very amazed that this could even happen and many of my doubts vanished by this point. I was just surrendering to what was happening. The mantra repeating always was like a refuge for my mind. No matter what was happening in my life, I just always came back to the mantra. It was like the loveliest song I ever heard, my favourite song. I look back with sheer joy thinking of the grace I experienced during that period. It makes me smile even now.
I also recall during that period that I observed a state of mind where it appeared my mind was completely free of thoughts. This occurred every few days. For instance, when I was driving my car, at times there was no mantra at all, no thoughts, I was just witnessing what was happening in the present moment. There was no effort in these moments, and since I was clear in mind it seemed everything around me took on a dream-like quality and time seemed to speed up. I later learnt that this state of mind was called turiya, the fourth state.
It was around this time that I started simply lying down in my bed after mantra japa and just observing how I felt and what I was thinking about. I noticed that I didn"t really have any thoughts in my mind at all, as the mantra would become like background music and then vanish. This would go on for some time, perhaps 20 minutes. Then, to my astonishment, I felt that my body and the bed below me were a single energy. I had merged into the energy of the bed. There was no difference. I also felt the border of my body and empty space, like the air around me, merge into one energy. There was no difference at all. During my meditation I did not have an object to focus on. I would just close my eyes and observe darkness and silence. This was what felt natural to me. I found I could dissolve my body without effort on a daily basis with everything around me. Time seemed so fly very fast during my meditations. My sense of duality started to become challenged at this early stage. What if every energy and everything in this universe was but one single energy? Could it be?
I was happily progressing along in my journey with no real difficulty whatsoever. However I observed that sometimes i would experience a kind of energetic shock or ripples or waves of energy that would move up and down my spine. It was similar to bliss, but something far more unpredictable and uncomfortable. It would become so strong that it would make my eyes flutter and it would be difficult to keep my eyes open. I learnt that this was kundalini, which is nothing other than the Divine Mother, a feminine energy, and essential for an aspirant to reach the highest levels of spirituality. For the most part, physical kundalini symptoms have been very minor in nature for me and not really much of a concern at all.
One morning something miraculous occurred. I awoke and of course heard the mantra repeating, but I felt very energetic, like I was very motivated to achieve something. It was a strange sensation. Then, I walked to my car and started driving and I had this feeling like I could achieve anything I wanted. It was like a willpower, but a billion or even a trillion times an energy that I thought I was capable of as a mere human being. It was cosmic or universal, a feeling so enormous that I found myself just grinning from ear to ear in astonishment. I also felt a kind of love I didn"t know could exist, a love so complete and eternal that I swear I could have pulled the car over and just hug a complete stranger out of compassion. The energy of will and love intensified to such a degree that I was screaming at the top of my lungs in joy and banging the steering wheel. I don"t know if I cried tears of joy but I certainly could have. It was a moment in time that has been burnt in my memory and I will cherish until my death. After this the energy subsided, and I calmed down somewhat, but things started changing after that point in miraculous ways.
The next significant event that occurred on the journey was actually when I was asleep and dreaming. In the dream it appeared I experienced thousands and thousands of dreams. I was waking up within the dream itself and re-living very similar scenarios, meeting the same kind of people, chasing the same kind of goals and meeting certain desires. This kept happening over and over again. I was frightened because I thought I was going crazy and would be stuck in that dream forever, and I would be all alone and trapped in a maze in my own mind. But then I heard the Maha Shodasi mantra repeat in the dream and I knew I was dreaming and what I was seeing wasn"t real. I knew I could dissolve the dream and simply meditate. When I gained this knowledge, I woke up from the dream, quite shaken about what had happened, and the mantra was no longer repeating constantly. Still to this day, the mantra does not repeat anymore. I don"t know whether I was experiencing memories of past lives in the dream, but I felt at the time that I was being tested somehow, in terms of my attachments and what I truly want in life.
However after that point everything changed quite dramatically for me. My mind felt different. Everything felt clear. I was in turiya all day long and it was like I didn"t even need to think about anything anymore, except what was happening in the present moment. No past or future seemed relevant. I was just staying in the moment. At this stage I was still very doubtful about my state, because I honestly felt like he same kind of person, but things were happening to me that simply could not be explained other than the presence of the divine.
After the period where the mantra disappeared, I started having visions of a very tall figure made entirely of Light. It would appear out the corner of my eye, sometimes standing over my bed when I awoke and other times it would manifest directly in front of me randomly. I started having these visions regularly, perhaps every few days. Initially I was frightened, because I had never seen anything like it before, but today it is like spending time with a family member or a best friend. Ravi cited scripture references to Brahman or Shiva, the creator of our universe being made up of Light, and I can say without question that the divine presence can only be that figure. I cannot describe the blessing of having this vision and I cherish beyond description seeing the Light. I am filled with awe and gratitude and thank God every day for being with me, and the Light is often with me to this day.
Words cannot adequately describe my meditation experiences from that point when the visions began. I will attempt to describe what I have been through. It is profound beyond words. One thing I started to observe was the presence of subtle sounds that accompanied the bliss from my heart area, the anahata sounds. At first, I heard something that resembled sand being shuffled on a metal sheet. I had to listen closely and keep my mind free of thoughts to hear the sound. Then, I would hear other sounds like a bell being struck far away and the sound travelling to my mind. Other times it was like a flute being played, or a drum. Every day was a new sound that I heard in my meditation. Still to this day I can hear some kind of sound at all times, even during the day, without closing my ears at all. However there is one sound that is louder than all others. At first I thought it was thunder or a rumbling of vibrations, but now I know that it is none other than the sound of AUM. I would compare it to like some sort of celestial choir made up of all possible sounds, or God himself just humming because he can. I hear AUM at all times, but especially when I am still and the environment around me is calm.
At night, after work, I am now always meditating as it seems the most natural thing to do. I could not imagine anything but meditation. I could spend every minute of my life in meditation. It is a time to speak to God, listen to God and surrender to Him, to silently thank God for all the blessings in this life. However, I had many doubts about whether I was meditating correctly, or what to do. I had read a lot of concepts about different levels of samadhi that a yogi could achieve, what they are to focus on, how long someone is to practice to achieve the highest States like nirvikalpa samadhi like the great saints.
I never thought I would even dream of states like that unless I was a yoga master living in the Himalayas or by the Ganges River. But what I discovered is that none of these concepts really matter at all and in fact people should forget about anything that attempts to categorise meditation as they simply lead to confusion. All that I did and continue to do is close my eyes in darkness and silence. That is all. I have no object to focus on. Sometimes I put ear muffs on because I used to live next to a noisy train station, but my approach has not differed in the slightest. I just lie down on my bed. I don"t perform any kind of painful meditation poses like the full or half lotus. What I experience is the thoughtless state, but there are one of three things that I have consistently observed when I experience samadhi, or all three simultaneously.
The first, is that after a period of time in absolute thoughtlessness, a part of my body will twitch, like a hand will move up in the air slightly, a foot will move, or there will be trembling. This is not like what is experienced when someone first starts meditating, and the body jerks because stress or tension is being released in the nervous system. The trembling that occurs when I go in and out of samadhi is more subtle.
The second observation I have gone in and out of samadhi is that there will be some sort of experience, insight, vision or memory that very subtly goes in and out of the mind, but I can"t remember details. It is like smoke coming off a flame and vanishing in the air. But the insight is never lost, it is more integrated into your understanding in an intuitive way, but consciously your mind was completely subdued. You know your consciousness has travelled a vast distance across the universe, gathered up Light, and then came back into your body to make yourself this Light. I was taught that this occurs in samadhi when the consciousness exists though the sahasrara chakra to become one with God, Siva or the Universal Consciousness, however, this occurs completely automatically and without conscious awareness.
The third observation for me personally that I have slipped into and out of samadhi, is that the sound of AUM will momentarily become distorted, like the room is filled with sound, then for a second the room is silent, then the vibration of AUM is heard yet again. When I wear ear muffs during meditation this becomes very obvious for me, because there is no outside noise at all, like people chatting or the sound of traffic, all I hear is AUM. At the time of this writing, I honestly do not know if I sleep anymore, or whether I am simply in samadhi 10 hours a night. The borders between sleep, dreams, samadhi and meditative visions have vanished. I am not concerned with categorising any of these levels of consciousness, but rather, I am learning to simply let things be and surrender to what IS.
Although I have been blessed with an astonishingly rapid advance on the spiritual path, and I am still sometimes confused why I have been seen as worthy by Shiva, the journey has not been entirely without challenges. Every new experience is a test of courage and resilience. The first night when I experienced many hours of samadhi, I awoke and experienced extreme trembling, to the point where I struggled to walk because my legs were shaking and my vision seemed blurry. I was almost crawling around helplessly and knew that if I woke up anyone in my house, the ambulance would have likely been called, and I might have been locked up in a mental hospital because billions of people on this planet would never understand what I was experiencing due to ignorance. I made a silent prayer to Shiva to help me overcome the situation and I immediately felt calm and tried to go to sleep, but I was covered with sweat and was shaking with anxiety. However, Ravi assured me that trembling occurred because the consciousness was outside my body for many hours in samadhi and that this phenomenon would go away in time. I have not experienced any kinds of trembling since that night, and now spend many hours in blissful samadhi every single day, and thank God for his infinite blessings.
My daily state and reality is changing every day. Sometimes when I have been meditating for long periods of time and my consciousness has been travelling through space and time in samadhi, I get quite forgetful about things that have happened, and many other pursuits or interests I used to have now lack the lustre they once had. I have also felt that my body appears hollow, or empty at times and the very ground I am walking on does not feel solid but is rather a whirling mass of energy and my body merges with the energy until we are one. Ravi tells me I am evolving into the final state of turiyatita, the highest possible state of consciousness, where all things take their origin in the unmanifest universe. I have been to this place in my meditation and it is a lonely place where nothing exists, not the sound of AUM and not even God. It is beyond anything that you can imagine. One second in that place results in extreme time dilation, often 30 minutes or more go by in the blink of an eye. I was initially afraid to go back to that place because it is frightening to experience, but now I merge with that Light and nothingness every single day. It feels like home now.
What I know without a doubt in my mind is that not only are the scriptures the absolute truth in regards to the existence of the Creator, who Vedantins call Shiva, but that in fact every single one of us is made up of this Universal Consciousness. We are no different to Shiva. There is no difference. I see the presence of God in everyone I meet and everything I see. We are truly all this one energy. You can realise this Truth even if you have not done a single class of hatha yoga, read not one line of the Bhagavad Gita, or eat a normal diet. What I have come to realise is that you will have the best chance of success to scale the heights of spirit if you ignore everything you think you know about spirituality, yoga, meditation, scriptures, and religion. Forget everything. It is irrelevant. You don"t need to be a yoga teacher, a swami, have any fancy titles before your name, you don"t need to bend your legs behind your head and bounce around like a basketball or observe all these ridiculous dogmatic restrictions that seem to be so prevalent in society, even for sincere seekers. You don"t need to go to ashrams, or donate money or do any of those things. Forget it all. All of these things were simply irrelevant for me personally. I only did one thing over and over again, aligning an initiated mantra with my breath. That is what you should do also. Once I firmly established the mantra in my mind though ajapa, the process is almost automatic and is entirely due to Divine Grave. This is all that you need to do. Just go for it and don"t look back. Become like a child and surrender, be in the moment always and don"t think of the past or the future.
What I have detailed here is my exact experiences during the last 15 months of my life, to the best of my recollection. I sometimes cannot believe what I have gone through, and every day something else occurs that simply takes my breath away. I know the rest of my life will be nothing less than an absolute miracle and it is an honour to share my story for those who intend to walk the same path. My infinite thanks, love and gratitude goes to Ravi, who I consider my teacher, best friend and spiritual father, who has been with me through everything and who I look forward to staying connected with for the rest of my days in spirit. Everything Ravi has said would occur in my journey, has indeed occurred. It is only possible for this to happen if someone has walked the path himself, and is now serving others with no thought of reward or financial gain whatsoever. Ravi will probably threaten to beat me with a stick for heaping praise on him, but I do not care Ravi. Beat me if you want.
If anyone has any questions or doubts about what I have written, please do not hesitate to contact me on the below email. I will always be happy to help guide those who are interested in embarking on this wonderful divine journey. I wish you all the success and happiness into the future.
James Cowan