My Journey to India
When people face tough times, they often turn to spirituality. That is what happened to me. So, I thought I would share my story with you in hopes that it can give you some solace. In hopes that you don’t feel so alone in your struggles, despite the quarantine, and the stress and turmoil that the COVID-19 situation is stirring up.
Before I begin, it is the custom in India to honor our teachers before we teach or write. Typically, this is done by singing a few lines in Sanskrit to acknowledge that this wisdom is not mine, but coming from my teacher. In my particular case, my knowledge comes from my superb teacher, Dr. Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji. Since I haven’t mastered the Sanskrit slokas yet, I will just say a few words in English. From the bottom of my heart, I honor Babaji, my great teacher whom has so generously passed on this ancient, eternal wisdom of Vedic Psychology. He so patiently explained this subtle science to me in a way that my modern mind could understand it. His teacher passed this knowledge down to him, and so on, in an unbroken chain of a guru to disciple succession for hundreds of years. Babaji is truly in a class of his own, as he does not preach the teachings, like so many disappointing teachers of our time. You know the ones who talk about love in public, but shower you with criticism and hate when no one is looking? Or the ones who talk about honesty and truth, but lie and cheat you? Anyway, Babaji is the exact opposite of that. Babaji actually lives the principles he teaches, like a true master. Through his kind, compassionate, forgiving, joyful, accepting and humble nature, I feel blessed every single day to know this saint. Through knowing him, by observing how gracefully he moves through the most precarious of situations, I have received the greatest teachings of my life. Often times, I have noticed that it is not what he has said, but how he has acted that has given me the most profound teachings. I feel deep gratitude for what Babaji has taught me about love, human nature, relations, psychology, introspection, the soul, service, acceptance, attachment, humility, pride, compassion, God, and the purpose of human life. His teachings have been a soothing balm for my broken heart. Just knowing that a person like him even exists, who gives so generously without any expectation for something in return, who is the living embodiment of love, has been incredibly healing for me.
Now I will share my short story about how I met Babaji. Life before I met Babaji was not easy. I was living in Florida, working at a psychiatric hospital for severely mentally disturbed kids and teenagers. Most days entailed me having to respond to crises in which my patients had either tried to harm themselves or another patient. Sometimes they even attempted to harm me. My work was very stressful to say the least. On my free time, things were not much better. I was nursing my broken heart, not only recovering from a bad break-up, but also from the loss of my father to a sudden heart attack. I was also grieving the loss of my nuclear family, as all three of my sisters and mother had recently gotten married and so their time and attention was with their partners. At the time, it felt to me like they had all moved on, and forgotten me. I struggled daily with feelings of loneliness, sadness, unworthiness, anxiety, and depression. I was looking for love, but could not seem to find it. The only bright spot in my life where I felt love was when I would see Amma, the hugging saint from India on her annual USA tour. She would give an uplifting talk, sing, and give everyone a hug and a piece of chocolate. I would feel elated. Well, for some time, at least. Until she left and after a few days my high wore off. And then I would be right back where I started, with my lonely old self.
Then, one day, I had the good fortune to learn about Babaji through the introduction from his brother, the world-famous Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Partap Chauhan. Dr. Chauhan was also my teacher, and a very generous and amazing man in his own right. He not only taught me about Ayurveda, but he also invited me into his family and I felt loved and accepted by them in a way I hadn’t felt in years. I will never forget the day Dr. Chauhan told me about Babaji for the first time. I was visiting Dr. Chauhan and his family at their Ayurvedic center near Delhi, India. One day, Dr. Chauhan casually asked me a simple question that changed the entire course of my life. He said: “What have you learned from your guru Amma in the past 5 years since you have been with her?” I laughed nervously as I babbled out some bullshit. My mind was desperately searching for something intelligent to say. I felt embarrassed because I had never considered that question. I was basically just going to see Amma because it made me feel better. To answer Dr. Chauhan’s question, I think I blurted out something like, “I learned what love is.” He didn’t buy it. In that moment of silence, I realized that I hadn’t learned very much at all. Don’t get me wrong, I had some nice experiences for sure. I loved singing along with the hundreds of others at Amma’s all-night kirtans. And of course, I loved the indulgences that accompanied Amma’s get-togethers, which included eating dosas with coconut chutney, drinking bottomless cups of chai, shopping at Amma’s store with beautiful Indian artifacts, and getting a hug from her. But deep down, I knew that was not enough for me. And Dr. Chauhan hit the nail right on the head with his penetrating question.
Dr. Chauhan advised me to find a teacher who could help me to progress if I was serious about spiritual life. He told me his brother’s name, Satyanarayana Dasa, and suggested that I watch any one of his thousands of lectures on YouTube. I trusted Dr. Chauhan, and his words made sense to me. Without delay, that very night, I did just that. Within one minute of hearing Babaji speak, I realized I was listening to a true master. His demeanor was so peaceful I immediately felt myself feeling grounded and calm. And Babaji’s words were like the truth serum that I had been searching for my entire life. I am naturally an inquisitive person, and I had so many unanswered questions about the mind, love, relationships, death, dying, and the afterlife. He was calmly talking about the answers to the questions that I had always had. I quickly began taking notes in my journal and pausing the video every minute to capture Balaji’s potent points that he was so nonchalantly dishing out. I had no idea how hungry I was for this information, and how much it was sorely lacking in my 24+ years of education, including 12 years of higher education.
With a newfound enthusiasm, the very next day, I began teaching my patients in group therapy some of the key points that Babaji had made in his video lecture. I would read aloud a short quote from Babaji, and then ask my patients what they thought that meant? How could they relate this to their life? My patients loved it and we had a very deep group discussion. Some of my patients revealed more information about themselves than they had ever before, in months of intensive therapy. I knew I was on to something big, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet Babaji. Within no time, I had re-arranged my schedule so I could sneak away to India to learn from Babaji. It was the dead middle of the scorching summer in India, and Babaji kindly advised me against coming at this time because of the unbearable heat. But I didn’t care. I wanted to learn from his as soon as possible, so I booked my flight and spent one week at the ashram in July. When we met, he began sharing the secrets of the ancient science of Vedic Psychology. He told me that these teachings are not some theory that will be modified or disproved over time. These teachings are the eternal truth about the nature of the mind. The teachings come from realizations by enlightened beings, ancient sages, who through deep meditative practices actually could experience and see the mind, just like you or I can see the human body.
I took this precious gift bestowed upon me by Babaji, and cherished it. First, I applied his teachings to myself so I could better understand my mind, emotions, and my own dysfunctional patterns. Over time, with Babaji's support and encouragement, I changed my ways of thinking and behaving. Then, I used his teachings to help my patients to understand why they do what they do, feel what they feel, think what they think, and react the way they react. I helped them to identify and deactivate the programming that was at the root cause of their problems. Eventually, I left my job at the hospital and started my own private psychotherapy practice to help people with everyday problems to learn about and work with their mind using Babaji’s Vedic Psychology principles. Over the past five years, many of my clients have experienced a great relief and big breakthroughs in their healing. They reported feeling happy in their lives because they now understand themselves and how their mind functions.
So, this story ends on a happy note. But, I will never forget how the story started, with me feeling down and out, lost, depressed and confused. Like there was no light and love in this world. It turns out that I was dead wrong. There is love and light in this world, it’s just that I was looking for it in all of the wrong places.