By Rama Devagupta
Marg, or the Natural Path, is a simplified system of Raja Yoga (Yoga of
the mind) as taught by Shri Ram Chandra Mission. With approximately three
thousand members in the United States, the Mission has over twelve hundred
spiritual training centers around the world. Its current president and
spiritual master is Shri P. Rajagopalachari, who resides in Chennai,
the simple fact that human beings are the sum total of their past
impressions, beginning from birth (if not their past lives), Sahaj Marg
philosophy makes the bold assertion that each person can create a new
future in their own individual universe by bringing spiritual awareness to
the present. It emphasizes the need for creating a balance between the
material and spiritual pursuits of life in order to reach the pinnacle of
come to Sahaj Marg for all kinds of reasons: looking for peace, spiritual
upliftment, or the ability to become more focused and draw closer to the
Divine," said Julie Kahn, a recent graduate from the National College
of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon. "Even though Sahaj Marg
offers all these benefits at a secondary level, its main goal is spiritual
evolution and God-realization."
that the final goal sounds similar to that of other meditative paths,
Sahaj Marg stands apart because of its two unique, quintessential
features: cleaning and pranahuti (transmission), features that are
utilized in the spiritual training of abhyasis by preceptors during the
individual and group meditations. While pranahuti is the offering or
transmitting of the spiritual master's subtle divine energy into the heart
of an abhyasi, the cleaning removes the burden of past impressions and
tendencies from the aspirant's heart and prepares it to receive further
pranahuti. In unison with the daily practice, they result in an
accelerated spiritual growth that is independent of one's individual
daily practice consists of one hour of morning meditation that focuses on
the presence of divine light in the heart, a half-hour evening cleaning
practice that removes the impressions accumulated during the day, and a
ten-minute bedtime prayer that reinforces the spiritual goal. While the
practice requires discipline and commitment, most of the seekers who are
exposed to Sahaj Marg are struck by its simplicity, sincerity and lack of
Mission is run solely on donations, and they truly are donations,"
said Kahn. "There is no coercion — financial or otherwise — in
this organization. I have heard stories of the Sahaj Marg masters' not
accepting money when they felt that it could not be afforded, or was
offered with an unwilling heart."
then narrated a personal experience wherein she had written to
Rajagopalachari during the initial stages of her practice expressing
uncertainty about Sahaj Marg. His reply, "You have to find the answer
within you, from the heart," left a tremendous impression upon her,
so today she makes the same point with newcomers. "Sahaj Marg is here
for anyone who wants to take advantage of it; there is no force or
pressure, and there is no need to blindly follow the master, because we
have to really look into our heart."
Treichler, a Sahaj Marg preceptor (instructor), who owns and runs a
computer company in Greenfield, Massachusetts, concurred: "A lot of
other systems are about adding things, achieving things and becoming more
powerful. However, in Sahaj Marg, it is more of an 'unbecoming' because
there is only love at the center of its teaching and practice."
is not the emotional, sentimental or lustful type of love, but the
absolute and unconditional love of God, in its purest form, to which
Treichler refers. According to Rajagopalachari, "Love has to be so
much enlarged, so much universalized, that eventually there is a sort of
resonance between your heart and the big heart that we call God."
is because of this love that there are no demarcations in Sahaj Marg.
Starting from the introductory novice to the veteran, and irrespective of
one's intellectual abilities or spiritual approach, the same techniques of
cleaning and pranahuti are utilized by preceptors for the spiritual
training of all abhyasis. Furthermore, with no hierarchies, or different
levels of teaching and gradation, all abhyasis have equal access to the
Mission literature, receive the necessary individualized attention from
preceptors and are encouraged to do the complete practice — from day
one. Within no time, therefore, the promise of Sahaj Marg has the
possibility of becoming a Reality for every sincere practitioner.
was indeed the case in Alicia Treichler's personal experience. Coming from
a rich and diverse spiritual background, she is a massage therapist who
has not only practiced Buddhist and Vippassana meditation, but also worked
with energy, astrology, crystals, and other mystical systems. However,
after coming to Sahaj Marg, she realized that the earlier practices paled
significantly in comparison. "When I noticed the depth of sincerity
in Sahaj Marg abhyasis, without any rigidity, and the lack of glamour and
fanaticism in them, I was deeply impressed. It helped me overcome the
initial fear about not wanting a structure, accountability or belonging to
is very difficult to find in America," said Penny Hutchinson, a
professional dancer from Seattle. "It is hidden in astrology, tarot
readings, esoteric bookstores, and, if you are lucky, maybe in some
churches, so it was not until I was in my late thirties that I started
meeting people who were on a spiritual path."
Hutchinson's introduction to Sahaj Marg a few years later, as her dance
company performed around the world, she found the time and opportunity to
attend Sahaj Marg meditation seminars in Denmark, France, India, Singapore
and USA. "Wherever I traveled, I was able to interact and meditate
with people who had a similar spiritual longing," she recalls.
"It is incredible and wonderful that so many people from different
countries can have the same aspiration and really focus on
six-seven years, Ramesh Krishnan, a computer engineer from Portland,
focused on the religious practices of his Hindu background, but later on,
after reading the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas (scriptures of Hinduism), he
found himself craving the real spiritual experience that lay beyond the
intellect. Shortly thereafter, he became acquainted with Sahaj Marg.
the cutthroat competition within the company where he works, Krishnan
said, "It is very confrontational, and you begin to feel that only
the paranoid can survive. In terms of the work, anybody and everybody can
challenge you, technically, intellectually and emotionally. One gets
rewarded on the amount of responsibility one can take and the amount of
work that one can do." Because of his youth, motivation and ambition,
he naturally took advantage of this policy.
soon, Krishnan started feeling that he was "way out of control on the
inside. The internal bottling of all this anxiety was too much. I had
never before been subjected to so much and I started taking it all out on
the family." This disharmony made him recognize the need for greater
regularity in his Sahaj Marg practice.
Krishnan perceives a reduction in his stress level, which he attributes to
the efficacy of the evening cleaning process: "I just do my work and
am not really worried about the result. No longer do I care about the
competition, or confrontation. I have more inner strength and confidence
today because of my ability to dissociate myself from these kinds of
most people today, there is a deep sense that something essential is
missing in their lives," said Rachel Ciporen, a preceptor from
Seattle. "There is too much commercialism and materialism in our
society. People are no longer sure about how to interact with each other,
or even with nature. Therefore, they come to Sahaj Marg searching for this
missing element and looking for some answers."
Sahaj Marg is outside of mainstream religion, it is sometimes viewed with
skepticism. "There is no need to believe in anything," said
Ciporen, addressing this concern. "The only advice given here is that
the abhyasi should do the practice as prescribed and be open to experience
the presence of God within the heart." Similarly, discussing the fear
of cults, she said, "You do not have to shut up your mind and heart
to continue in Sahaj Marg. It is your mind, your heart and your own
experiences that will tell you precisely if this is the right path for you
that Sahaj Marg is an open system, Ciporen said, "We always encourage
abhyasis to ask questions because, ultimately, each abhyasi has to depend
on himself or herself to find the right answers." Reminiscing about
the early days of her practice, she added, "When I came to Sahaj
Marg, I was determined that I was going to do things at my own pace and
nobody was going to commit me to doing anything within any period of time.
I was very glad to find this attitude to be shared in the Mission and
amongst other abhyasis."
asked about the benefits of this practice in her personal life, Ciporen
said, "Not getting wrapped up in little things and keeping things in
perspective. Detached attachment and not overreacting. Learning to respect
others and remembering that divinity is present in each one of us."
remarks sound ordinary because of Ciporen's unassuming nature, but are
deep and profound if complexities of the human psyche are considered. Not
surprisingly, therefore, the unfolding of such experiences and conditions
— the mastery of one's inner nature and letting go of lower tendencies
like prejudice and fear — continually creates in these abhyasis a
feeling of wonder.
Watching the naturalness in their actions and demeanor, it is obvious that Sahaj Marg has transformed their hearts and enriched their lives. Yet, there is no time for complacency or rest, as they strive to be the living examples of divine love and light. In so doing, they extend a silent invitation to other seekers to give Sahaj Marg a try, an invitation so genuine and simple that it is difficult to ignore.
(Contact information: In Georgia USA: Bharath Madhavan 770.495.7706 http://www.srcm.org/ )