By Gayatri Hess
Though I have been good at hide and seek throughout my years, the Svaroopa® Sciences found me anyway. I am humbled and blessed by this Grace. The experiences of this path, leading to knowing and experiencing your own Self, have fulfilled lifetimes of my yearning. Kashmiri Shaivism, Shaktipat and Swamiji have answered so much of the deep yearning I have had, and continue to have, for God.
I saw more fully the blessing of being on this path when I took 2016’s Year Long Programme, One in All. I received articles to read and contemplate every few weeks. Swamiji’s recorded discourses further deepened my understanding. Regular phone conferences let us share our powerful experiences and deepening insights in answer to questions posed by Swamiji. The process took me ever deeper into Self, with transformation inside and outside.
Then the November weekend retreat baked me. Wow! I really mean baked. The glorious baker, of course, was Swami Nirmalananda, she who has traversed the terrain of this process and is fully established in her own Divinity. I deepened into Self, more clearly seeing Self in myself and Self in All.
This process unfolded through Swamiji’s skillful teaching and her Grace. She masterfully deepened our understanding by using comparison, but not in the typical Western way, comparing to indicate “better than” or separateness. Swamiji reviewed the perspectives of different traditions: Kashmiri Shaivism, Vedanta, Mindfulness and others. She also compared spiritual and religious practices. One may ask, “Why is this important?” In her first article, Swamiji answered, “The differences mean you need to choose your path carefully, because it determines where you will end up.”
Through this process, I developed a greater understanding of Kashmiri Shaivism and my reasons for choosing this path. It supported my certainty of Universal Truth. The saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” was brought to life. As the year progressed, I developed an even more steadfast certainty, devotion, and commitment to the practices of this great tradition. I have a newfound relationship with this path and with my Guru. Grace flows through my experience: the one Self being me, being you, being all.
Besides a greater understanding of my chosen path, I gained an expanded understanding of other meditative systems and practices, including what they offer and the grace flowing through them. The programme led me to see the commonalities of these systems even through their differences. It deepened my reverence for each path. How amazing the universality of Truth! There is a path for all minds and individual uniqueness, so “choose your path carefully” and stick to it!
At our three-day retreat, we practiced the core practices, including asana, chanting and meditation, over and over again, all in the presence of the Guru. Need I say more? The experience was profound, transformative, pure, tiring, joyful, painful, expansive, ecstatic…so inclusive …and in community. Shakti and Grace continue to fill me each day since my return home. They power me through my daily practice and yogic life.
In our first article Swamiji wrote, “My heart calls out with the same yearning on your behalf, adding my yearning with yours, so that you can come to know your own Self.” As I write this for my Svaroopa® community, my heart calls out to each of you to experience the deepening that comes through a Year-Long Programme and retreat. My hope is that you will give your Self the gift of a Year-Long Programme and retreat with Swamiji.
I am humbled to have the opportunity to study under such a profound teacher as Swami Nirmalananda, one who demonstrates living based in Self, up close and personal, and who gives opportunities to experience Self over and over again. Through this program, I also experienced the profound depth and Grace of a Shaktipat tradition. I bow in ecstatic reverence and gratitude for the depth of this practice and the One who brings me this realization… to Swamiji, again and again I bow.
OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h