The Greatest Gift: Trust in my Teacher

Upanishad: Sitting near the teacher

This contribution in the form of a letter has been written by Dr. Krishna Narasimhan.

Dear Radhika Ma,

Ever since I was a teen, I always had this anger about the whole universe. While this anger probably stemmed from an inability to handle the challenges in my life, it expressed itself through questions like "Why does this universe exist at all, and what part am I playing in it?" 

The Search for a Teacher

During my college years in India, I was convinced that the answers to all my questions lies in unconditional happiness and the way to attain it was through spiritual teachings. I never knew which teachings or teachers to follow. I tried different methods, including spending some time in the Ramakrishna Mission in India. After coming to Germany, there was a sense of loneliness and the serious search for more structure in my practices came during my first few months in Frankfurt. I did try a month or two of techniques from the Isha Foundation. But I was not convinced that I am on the right path till I met you and went for the most decisive walk of my life with you. I cannot give precise reasons why I abandoned the search of which path to follow, but I have never ever had doubts about this. I have many other unresolved doubts in my life, especially given how analytical my mind is, but this question of "which teachings should I follow" has never reappeared in the past 5 years since I met you. 

The Training begins

The practice that has helped me the most is Atma Vichara. Atma Vichara or Internal Dialogue has helped me rephrase vague questions like "Why do I exist?" which sound very much like escapism, into more productive questions like "How do I organize my life, body and mind to create a space to answer deeper questions?" Atma Vichara has improved my awareness. When I met you, I was very jumpy and always looking for attention. I had a tendency to be the "clown" of the group. This has reduced considerably, which I attribute to the awareness stemming from Atma Vichara. 

Another practice that has helped me a lot is the training of the mind through systematic mantra practice. Deep down I understand that mantras have a far deeper meaning which I probably have not yet understood, but both the times I did a mantra practice, it had a profound impact on me leading to a personality shift. I feel that the practices prepared me to take on bigger challenges in my life. The first time, I became stronger which helped me complete my PhD. After the second practice, I became more grounded; without this practice I could never have handled a big change like marriage and accommodated another person in my life. 

My Greatest Gifts: Teacher and Teachings

The greatest gift I have obtained in my spiritual path is the trust that I am with the right teacher, and whatever I need from the teacher I shall get at the right points in my life. The guidance has always been catered to what I needed at specific points in my life. Yes, I do have many challenges when it comes to improving my body and mind, and intensifying my practices, but the biggest challenge that many others have and I don’t, is the trust that my teacher knows what’s right for me. For instance, when I came to the Tradition, I was a lonely, jumpy kid and I got a family ambience where I was cocooned. When I needed a bit of structure, I got some firm teachings. When I needed to make big decisions in my life, I got the best guidance on how to organize my life and obtain clarity about  the kind of family and professional life I wanted. Thanks to the teachings, I actually have a life and relationship with my family, work and partner which resonates with my desires, and are suited to intensity my practices. I have always had doubts if I am doing my best, but I never had doubts about the guidance I have obtained and where it has led me. 

The best thing about the guidance is not just preparing me for the next steps in life, but also that you applied the brakes when I was trying to make commitments, I was not ready to make. For instance, when I wanted to give you some wooden sticks as a symbolic offering, you asked me to wait till my PhD is over as this involves complete surrender. I did not understand the meaning at that time, but now I do realize I was and possibly still am not prepared to make a complete surrender. In short, I have absolute faith that the guidance pushes me when I need it, and puts the brakes on when I am about to make silly commitments that could break me.

"Retreat" means to go within.

Major Changes and Transformation

The difference the teachings have had on me, is evident not just for me, but also for others. Many people mentioned how grounded I had become after the first retreat. I had similar experiences when I was in India. I know now that I neither have to give up my principles nor talk to people who do not resonate, yet I can manage my speech and manas, which has made me be someone who can maintain a respectful relationship with the family whilst having my own space. This change in my life is very important as it adds to creating space in my mind for meditation. I can only imagine how challenging it would be to sit down and meditate when my head is pre-occupied with unpleasant arguments with my family. 

Before coming to you, I believed I have to teach people the good things, or rather the things I consider good. Whenever I experience something nice, I wanted to pass it on to my loved ones, sometimes even with force. If they wouldn’t adopt it, it would hurt me and cause friction. But after coming to you, I learnt that the best way to change people is to lead by example, rather than preach to others. I was going through a bit of family turmoil when I joined you as a student. I was giving advice to elder people though I was just a kid with no experience of family life. But with your guidance and the practices, I was able to develop more meaningful relationships, and not just be someone who gives unsolicited advice. I also used to have a huge arguments with my family on WhatsApp when it came to spirituality. Now I have developed the maturity to enjoy the time with my family with respect. I noticed that in order to get your family to respect your spiritual choices, it is not necessary to talk too much or explain in detail why you do what you do. It is better to talk less and simply do the things you do. Earlier, I asked my wife to be quiet when I was meditating. She never disrespected my meditation, but I realized it was absolutely unnecessary. Nowadays, I simply go into the room and meditate, and I noticed that if she does walk in, she immediately becomes quiet and tries to avoid making loud noises during that time.

Now that you have given me all the teachings, I need to do my practice and organize both my manas and my relationships. The ball is in my court and it is for me to use the life I have got to apply the teachings I have been provided.

Feeling Blessed,