I call sadhana Second Education. First Education, our conventional education, is the education of our intellect and our personality. Here one can put on and take off ideas and keep them at a distance.
Many years ago, I gave a seminar at a university in New Zealand. Members of the department of religion met with me and I shared my experience in India and outlined the principles of Kashmir Shaivism. One of the professors was introduced to me as an expert on Christianity, another on Buddhism, another on Islam. During the course of our conversation, I said to the Christianity expert, ‘As a Christian, you probably—’. He quickly corrected me. ‘I’m not a Christian, I’m a Christianist’. No such distancing is permitted in sadhana. Here one stands inside the philosophy and allows it to work on his being through wisdom and technique. In Siddha Meditation, I wrote about this distinction with the passion of new discovery:
Now, what do we have here? It springs to mind that this is Muktananda’s ‘philosophy’, but nothing could be further from the truth. Philosophy in the West is generally limited to the mental realm alone, reflecting a chronic split between thought and action. The professional thinker is interested in producing an original and clever intellectual system; he rarely sees any connection between his theories and his life. Thus a socialist may consider himself to be very different from a conservative, or a logical positivist may feel superior to a metaphysician, yet they are likely to share the same lifestyle, the same middle-age paunch, the same frequent one martini too many. I was keenly aware that Baba was a Guru in the time-honoured Indian tradition and not a philosopher at all. He was not interested in stimulating us mentally, but in producing a change in our whole being leading to the realisation of the inner Self. For Baba, an idea must relate directly to sadhana.
The book was not Baba’s ‘thought’ but his experience, a description of his actual state of Consciousness. In the rest period after lunch at the ashram, I read widely in spiritual literature. As I read Baba’s writings, I recognised two distinct strains. One was familiar to me and one was not. The former was Vedantic. He wrote of Brahman, maya, and Satchitananda, and used Vedantic stories and illustrations. I was familiar with the language of Vedanta from my first encounters with Indian thought.
The ideas of Advaita Vedanta, nondual Vedanta, are usually associated with the great sage, Shankara (788–820 A.D.). They have been widely known in the West since the first Indian swamis, Vivekananda and Rama Tirtha, toured and lectured on these ideas around the turn of the 20th century. The ascetic tone of the Vedantic teachings is the one that Westerners usually associate with Indian spirituality.
But it was the second literary strain that riveted me. Here Baba spoke of kundalini, Shakti, and Chiti (universal Consciousness). While the Vedantic universe seemed flat to me—this whole world is seen as an illusion—this second vision, the vision of Kashmir Shaivism, was full of fire and life. Here the world is not seen as unreal, but vibrating with conscious energy. It is the dynamic unfoldment of the Divine and every atom of it is sacred and mysterious. Indeed, the profane is nowhere to be found. Na shivam vidyate kvachit: There is nothing that is not Shiva.