Out of the Rabbit Hole
Before the amazing August 2023 retreat and intensive, I contemplated writing my upcoming blog about: What characterizes my rabbit holes (that which leads me away from God)? How do I get there? By ‘chance’,....View Now
Permanent spiritual transformation in the Siddha path of Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga.
Journey to The Self
by Sarah Porter
Audio Version of This Blog Post
Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay.
The Sages of Steady Wisdom tell us that the purpose of a human birth is to retrace one’s steps back to God.
My awareness of retracing my steps back to God- my Spiritual journey – started when I was 12 years old. I was camping with my family in the high desert of Oregon, surrounded by sagebrush and scrub pines. My father gave me a book to read with a promise of the new jeans that I wanted, if I would read this book. The book was called The Greatest Story Ever Told. It was a novel type version of the Bible. I got to the place where Moses beheld the burning bush. I was so inspired. I wanted God to talk to me too. I left my tent where I had been reading and went wandering among the sage brush hoping a bush would burst into flames and God would talk. But it didn’t happen that way.
After that I started going to church every Sunday and then in college, I went three times a week and sang in the choir. During this time, I longed to know what God was and what Love was. I took a religion class and wrote a paper about Love from a Christian perspective. I felt that somehow absolutely everything in the whole world and universe should fit together in a way that was connected and coherent. I hoped that at some level all diversity would cease to be diverse. I longed for this knowledge. But then for the whole next decade, I allowed the pull of marriage, children and career to capture my attention.
As I approached my mid-thirties, I happened to cross paths with a powerful Sadguru, Muktananda Parmahansa. In truth, my husband hounded me to met this Guru until I gave in for the sake of peace. I attended Sri Muktananda’s intensive, received the blessing of Shaktipat and experienced the fire and peace as my Kundalini was awakened beginning its careful guided ascent to purify the 72,000 energy centers (nadis) in my body. My body quaked; my breathing became rapid and my mind stopped. It was Grace and my longing that resulted in crossing paths with a Sadguru and for the next two years I engaged in some of the practices as directed by Baba as he was affectionately called. I attended a weekly chanting program, meditated every day, said the mantra Om Namah Shivya and gave donations or Dakshina. I did not perform Selfless Service (Seva) and it would be years before I understood the amazing value of it. Baba told us all to come to the Ashram in India. He was quite sincere in his invitation. I knew that there were some people who were following him as he did his world tours; but I thought that is not me. I am not like that. I have a job and two children. I can’t imagine going to India. My friend took her two school-age children with her to Baba’s ashram and I thought she was crazy to expose her children to whatever was in India. And obviously I still had the questions: what was God and where was God.
I moved to a different state and my meditations dwindled. I found out that my Guru, Muktananda Parmahansa had dropped his body (taken Mahasamadhi). I felt I had no spiritual community. Even though I meditated only sporadically and repeated the mantra more frequently I noticed an energy enlivening my body when I did meditate. This strong physical Kriya happened consistently when I meditated. My head would fill with bright light and my body quaked. During this period, I had an increasing urge to move my arms, to let go and allow my arms to spontaneously move how they wanted. This ended up with me throwing my arms out and they shook and moved in a pattern. One evening I saw a snippet on TV of a Chi Gung master doing a healing. My arm movements looked like his. My interest in energy healing emerged. I watched several movies about powerful healers. I wanted to be like that – a powerful healer. I studied energy healing; I sought out psychics and tarot card readers. Always the same questions, who am I and where am I going?
It was around this time that I signed up for a massage. My friends were raving about her psychic abilities. I walked into the treatment room and noticed the picture of a beautiful East-Indian woman’s picture gracing the wall. Who is that? I asked. That was a picture of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Swami Muktananda’s successor. Here I am crossing paths with a Sadguru again! How could I be so blessed? I must find the Sangham in Portland where I was living. After many calls I found the location of the weekly chanting program located in a hotel and started attending. My Seva was the bookstore – setting it up and taking it down each week. My experience of the power of Seva had yet to be realized. During this time, I traveled to different cities to attended broadcasted Shaktipat intensives led by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. In one intensive, I experienced floating in a blue ocean of consciousness. My mind had stopped. Peace engulfed me. I was in a space of being neither here nor there. The Shaktipat Blessing was palpable, regardless of where I was, or where she was. I still did not recognize that I was having a direct experience of God – the very state I was seeking. Furthermore, try as I might – my resistance to surrendering to her was strong because I was taking my own understanding of surrender over the Guru’s. I failed to understand the importance of following the Guru’s every command and instruction. Therefore, I ended up “cherry-picking” the commands, doing only what was easy. So, I kept up that effort, attended the weekly programs, performed Seva and said the mantra (Japa), (especially during faculty meetings).
Then, I retired and moved to Japan for two years. Before I left, I was given a contact number for the Sangham in Tokyo. After I was settled, I received directions for the program venue: take this subway, get off at this stop and use this exit. Turn left and walk 56 steps. On the left is an unmarked door. Go in and go up two flights of narrow stairs. I followed the directions. My heart was pounding; way-finding in Tokyo was confusing plus I was fearful of opening doors that had no window where I could look in to see where I would be going. Thankfully, the smell of incense wafted through the closed door and I knew I was home. My fear dissolved. My Japanese Sangham members were welcoming and warm. As part of my Seva we spent many hours together reading scriptures in English and discussing the meaning. Their effort and Bhakti were inspiring. My Seva experiences were beginning to feel more sacred.
Then, one day as I walked down a narrow street in Tokyo on my way to work, it hit me… I realized I needed someone to confront my ego and I could not do it alone. I needed and wanted an ‘ego-buster’. At the time I did not recognize this as God’s Grace.
After Tokyo I relocated to Hawaii where I had a powerful experience of Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. Out of the blue I received Darshan from him. I was filled with heat and love. Tears streamed down my face. I did not know at the time that He was the Sadguru of the one who would be my ‘ego-buster’. It took five years after relocating to Hawaii before the ‘ego-buster’ I sought would appear, but when he did, I knew immediately this was the one, Kedarji, who was initiated into the Siddha lineage by Muktananda Paramahamsa who led the early stages of his Sadhana before taking him to the feet of Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri.
Even before I received the Grace of the Shaktipat Blessing, Kedarji showered his Grace on me as my partner lay dying in the hospital. I was buoyed by this Grace which allowed me to be very present with my partner’s three adult children and assist them in making their difficult decision of when to stop life support. The day after my partner died, I attended my first Shaktipat Blessing intensive with Kedarji. Despite my grief-stricken state, I clearly remember Kedarji’s energy filling me as he bestowed the blessing of Shaktipat. He was my Sadguru. I felt I was his beloved devotee.
After the receipt of Kedarji’s Shaktipat Blessing and as my grief resolved, I had numerous mystical experiences. One of the profound experiences I had was sensing Ganesha around me. At first, I knew very little about Ganesha. I knew he was a Hindu icon and that he had the body of a male and the head of an elephant. Beyond that I knew nothing. Why was Ganesha then appearing during my meditations? Kedarji told me it was an auspicious occurrence. I researched Ganesha that Ganesh’s mission was as the remover of obstacles and the Deity of new beginnings, wisdom and luck. How amazing and how perfect that Kedarji blessed me with Ganesha’s presence in my life during this tumultuous time.
I began taking courses with Kedarji. I had a hard time keeping up. He used so many Sanskrit words. I stumbled over the spelling and would get behind in my notes. To remedy the situation, I went on-line and looked up the word and its meaning. I used that information for my homework, just like I did in college. That did not go well. This was one of my first of many lessons in surrender; taking my Guru’s understanding over my own or someone else’s.
Kedarji has said many times, “God is in your feelings”. What did that mean? Ironically, for years I couldn’t figure it out. So, for years the ‘what is God’ question hung around my mind flitting in and out. But the more I studied with Kedarji, an understand slowly began to emerge. I could think of God as omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscience. I could think of God as a Divine Consciousness. I could understand Consciousness as an intelligent energy force field – a vibration – that makes up everything and everyone. I grasped some understanding of this as similar to quantum mechanics. Kedarji also taught about states of contraction and expansion and how to use the principle of the arc to identify these states of energetic states of expansion and contraction. I began to identify how I felt related to being contracted or expanded. I could also begin to see how all my previous and precious understandings gained as a mental health specialist had actually clouded my understandings.
When I moved beyond thought into feeling it was transformational. I had been dismissing my feelings as trivial or unreliable. Feelings had not been guideposts for me. They didn’t inform my behavior to any great degree. What a misunderstanding!! Kedarji has said, “It is God that pervades the form of the Universe”. A whole new inner world is opening up. It is full of Joy and Delight. It is full of Love and Light. Those were words I previously thought were trendy, trite or metaphorical that now took on a whole new depth of meaning and reality. Kedarji provides so many accessible lessons to reveal the secret meanings contained in the scriptures supporting the path of the Science of Yoga. Absolutely everything in the world does fit together and there is no diversity, only an illusion of diversity. And, there was ever only One Leader. Om Guru Om.
Sarah Porter, PhD MS MPH RN CHTP/I is a certified healing touch instructor, teaching in Hawaii and Japan. She has over 15 years of Healing Touch practice and 30 years of practice as a psychiatric mental health nurse and clinical specialist with a holistic perspective. She is the co-author of the book, “Women’s Health and Human Wholeness”, emphasizing the necessity of bringing wholeness back into the health care system. She also serves on the Board of Directors for our school