Visit to the Brahmasthan
By William T. Hathaway
I recently visited the ashram that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi built at the central point of India, the Brahmasthan. Two thousand Vedic pandits live there, meditating and performing ceremonies.
I've been doing Transcendental Meditation for many years and have had wonderful results in my active life -- clearer thinking, less stress, more energy -- but I've had very few experiences while meditating. A couple of times a year I might have a moment when the thoughts thin out enough for me to sense there is a field of silence underlying them. Very rarely I've glimpsed a bit of glow coming from that underlying field. I treasure these few moments.
In my first program in the yogic flying hall I felt deep silence as soon as I started meditating. And it didn't go away as it always had before. It lasted, and it glowed. When I started the sutras, I gradually became aware that the silence had an energy to it, an inner dynamism. As I went on, joy began radiating from it like sunlight.
When I started yogic flying, I could sense this whole field was alive, filled with divine Beings. There was Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, and others whose names I didn't know. There was Maharishi, Guru Dev, and Shankara. As I made great leaps, they told me, "We are bringing you up! We are bringing you up!" They were raising me into the air, but like cosmic parents they were also raising me into the full adulthood of higher consciousness. And amazingly enough, as good parents, they loved me.
I could perceive that they weren't dwelling only in the transcendent but were permeating the whole atmosphere of the Brahmasthan. Then they weren't just permeating the place but also permeating me. Then they were me. At this, I was totally enveloped in divine love. I was divine love. The unity of creation became a living reality. I had heard this statement before, but now it was no longer abstract. It was me. And this is going on all the time in full glory whether I'm perceiving it or not.
For the next four weeks I didn't perceive it at all, just my usual mantra and thoughts, sutra and thoughts. Then at the end of the final Vedic chanting ceremony of my visit, I felt a sensation in the area of my heart. It was Maharishi! He was suddenly there, as if he'd just popped in. Then I realized he had been there all along, but I had only now become aware of him, as when a statue is unveiled and you can finally see it. This was no statue though, but a living presence. I remembered the section of the puja that describes the guru as "ever-dwelling in the lotus of my heart." I could see this wasn't a figure of speech but a statement of fact. Devotion poured from me to him, and I basked in his approval.
People were leaving the hall, and as I stood up, his presence expanded to become like a hollow tube running from the top of my head to the base of my spine. My awareness was centered inside the tube, and I was perceiving everything from this inner core of silence. This is my Brahmasthan, I suddenly knew. People too have Brahmasthans, a transcendental center out of which activity manifests.
I started walking, but I wasn't walking. I ate a prasad banana, but I wasn't eating. Walking was happening and eating was happening, but I wasn't doing them. I was observing it all like a king on a throne enjoying the activity of my kingdom but not involved in it, totally free within myself. This is delightful, I thought, but what is it?
This is the Self, Maharishi explained. The one great Self that enlivens the universe. You are in the Self now, and that is separate from activity.
That sounds like enlightenment, cosmic consciousness, I thought.
Yes, Maharishi told me. Just a glimpse of what awaits you.
Gradually the glimpse faded, and my real identity became overshadowed by relative activity. Now that I've had these experiences, though, I know my deeper reality and I'll never be the same again.
William T. Hathaway's first book, A World of Hurt, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. His new novel, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, concerns the environmental crisis: www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings. He was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.