Monday, 30th October 2017

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Author’s afternoon

On a journey to find the right meditation — An author’s afternoon with Joshua Pollock, presented by Shree Cement, with t2

  • Published 4.06.18
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From a sneak peek into meditation to explaining yogic transformation, Joshua Pollock, a “dedicated spiritual aspirant”, spoke about his book The Heartfulness Way before a select audience at An Author’s Afternoon — presented by Shree Cement and Taj Bengal, held in association with t2, Prabha Khaitan Foundation and literary agency Siyahi — at the Alipore star hotel. In conversation with Joshua was Varuna Shunglu, a practitioner of yoga. Excerpts from Joshua speak...

The beginning  

I remember some Iskcon people had come to my house. They gave pamphlets to my parents, which were stashed away in some drawer. Years later, I came across this and thought what is this? It struck some emotion in me. 

My parents have a huge book collection. I used to go through them. I was the kind of kid who would read the encyclopaedia for fun. Sometimes I used to come across things which caught my attention, maybe because they were absolutely different from everything else in my world. It occurred to me that no matter how much I read, I never experienced anything they were talking about. Often in these books they were talking about meditation, which seemed like a practical method. Not just about learning or knowledge, but a practical path where you can experience something. I thought this is what I need. 

I was 19 or 20 when I moved out of home and I decided to learn this kind of meditation. I had very high expectation, so everything I did, the expectation would dash. I never had a good experience and I got disillusioned. Later on I was no longer expecting or had any faith in meditation, because it did not do anything at all except make me frustrated.

I met someone randomly and in the course of our conversation, I learned that she practised Heartfulness. A few months later I came back to it and I gave it a try. For me it was good that I had all these spaces of comparison. I don’t know what I would have thought of Heartfulness meditation if I had not tried 20 other methods. Now I have a basis for comparison. I could see this having an effect that none of the other approaches had on me personally. I became very intrigued as to where it would take me. 

Kanak Rekha Chauhan gets her copy of The Heartfulness Way signed by Pollock.

Quest to touch infinity

There is a symbol at the back of the book (The Heartfulness Way), anyone who knows maths is familiar with this concept of the curve that meets at infinity. It means that for all practical purposes, they (the lines) never touch. This is quite a concept and has a lot of impact. 

The two words — yoga and religion — have similar meanings. Yoga comes from a word which means ‘that which unites’. That means things are separate! So what does it unite? It unites my own individual being with the universe. So I am somehow separate or at least perceive myself to be separate. Yoga comes along and says, here is a method by which you can unite yourself with that and become one with it. Religion also comes from a Latin  word which means to reconnect. So similar meanings. But we find that as long as you remain an individual entity, whether connected or not, there is always this idea of two. There is this idea of God and I. As long as this identity remains intact, you are like that asymptote (the symbol at the back of the book). You can meditate and meditate and become more fine and feel that connection with ever increasing reality, yet at the same time that infinity remains in between. So, no matter how close you get, you are infinitely close but infinitely far from your goal as a yogi. 

My guide, the co-author of this book, Daaji (Kamlesh D. Patel), said that this grand combination of yoga, that is this merger or union is just the first step of spirituality. 

My guide

When I first met him, Daaji was like a brother. It was not a guru-aspirant kind of a relationship because at that time he was another aspirant just like me. He has been meditating since he was 19. This is not a situation where you have a guru who comes and proclaims himself as a guru and says he was sent by God to lead you. This is somebody (Daaji) who started meditating in the same Heartfulness way that I am meditating and he transformed himself through that practice.

His own guru said, “you succeed me when I go” and that’s what happened. 

So when I met him, that succession hadn’t happened. He was my friend’s father actually. His son and I were always hanging out and so I always went to his apartment and we had dosa (laughs). He struck me as somebody who I could always turn to for advice. He was a very grounded individual. After some time, he took us all by surprise and became the successor of this lineage in Raja Yoga. So, there was already a level of comfort that was established, which I think made it easy for these conversations to take place. 

I am not trying to give you any answer so that you can leave with a belief. Spirituality itself is an experiment. We are used to using so many devices invented and constructed by other people in our lives. For example take the GPS system or cars… someone invents it, someone else learns how use it, they do not have to understand all that back-end stuff. Spirituality is a different thing altogether. Spirituality is something everyone has to experience by themselves, no other person can tell you how things are. Spirituality is the opposite of belief system. 

Joshua Pollock began the session with a group meditation 

Transforming the consciousness 

Do we feel the air all the time? No! We feel it when the breeze is moving towards us, that is when the air becomes animated. Transmission is that breeze. Like the breeze, the divine energy somehow becomes animated and we feel it. We feel this movement of divine energy within ourselves or we feel the effects of it over time, because we are meditating along with this energy. Energy comes when we meditate along with a trainer, who is able to trigger it — just like the fan does not create the air, it just triggers the movement. 

We can have a simple definition of yogic transmission. Divine energy or very subtle energy of the highest nature that is being neutralised to transform us and because our experience and consciousness is being transformed, we are transformed too. That’s a key to this method. The effect of transmission in the very immediate sense is that it gives us a very different experience in meditation. When I meditated along with somebody who could impart this transmission, the difficulties disappeared very quickly. Consciousness itself transformed in a way and when that transformation happens during meditation then that starts percolating into the rest of your 23 hours. Very gradually you start noticing a completely different experience of life. 

Everything I said is not something to be believed in. I welcome your doubts, in fact I hope you doubt. This is an honest approach, but along with that doubt at least have enough of an open mind that will allow you to experience it again and again till you are satisfied that either there is something or there is nothing. 

“This was one of the most unique sessions of An Author’s Afternoon. Joshua and his principles of meditation are very interesting. The practice discussed is pertinent for people living under the stresses of a heavily competitive world,” said Samrat Datta, general manager, Taj Bengal.

“He emanated the softness and heartfulness he spoke about. The meditation at the beginning of the session was a great experience,” said Suvina Shunglu, principal of Sri Sri Academy.

“This is a grey area since there are so many schools of thought. This is something we can’t learn from someone, it has to be experienced,” said Bharati Ray, vice-president, ICCR.

Text: Malancha Dasgupta
Pictures: Rashbehari Das