On April 1st, 2001, on a sweltering morning in Kolkata India, I was ordained as an acarya (spiritual teacher) of Ananda Marga. My first posting was in Verona, Italy, and now, since 2005, I am working in Romania coordinating AMURTEL projects: Familia AMURTEL children’s home, “Gradinita Rasarit”, a Neo-humanist kindergarten, the Fountain of Hope After-School Center, the Vistara Transitional Program for youth leaving care and the “AMURTEL Bio Garden” – a community-supported agricultural project. I also run a holistic wellness center “Morningstar” which organizes courses in yoga, meditation and qigong, as well as offering Ayurvedic massage.
I found my spiritual path, or perhaps better to say, it found me, in Chicago. It was in the month of October in 1995. Something had been calling me from within for some time – a restlessness, and yet a knowing – that I needed to find what I was meant to do.
While working in a small student cafe in the School of the Art Institute – I spent my evenings and weekends exploring various spiritual paths – zen, Hare Krsna, an American guru with the very long name “Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati”. I found deep, serendipitous connections in each place, yet something was still missing. I kept asking in each darshan or seminar “There are so many different paths -how will I know which is the right path?”
One morning, I actually sat down and began writing out this very question to the guru “Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati” that I had just met a few weeks earlier. I wrote three or four pages, before realizing that nobody outside of me could ever give me an answer that would satisfy me. I put my pen down on the notebook, closed my eyes, and internally addressed that Supreme Entity, “I have no idea what name to give you, which way you want to guide me – so please show me the way – but don’t give me subtle hints, just shine a very bright light on the path so I will know exactly which way to go.”
That same evening, I found a poster reading “Self-Realization and Social Service”. It immediately sent a rush of electricity through me – this was it! For months I had been agonizing over whether to sign up for a volunteer program like Peace Corps or Greenpeace – or rather retreat to a yogic ashram and go deep into spirituality…. There it was – no conflict – both of the two things I valued most – together! I ran quickly to the lecture room where it was already taking place – my heart pounding with anticipation as I neared the door. I expected to open it to a room packed with people – but to my surprise, there was just a small circle of about 6 people surrounding a small Filipino monk dressed in bright saffron orange, and playing guitar.
I hesitated, frozen at the threshold, but he smiled warmly and motioned me to join them. Every word that Dada Sarvananda spoke that evening seemed to just blow away all of the clouds of doubts, all of the questions hovering in my mind for so many months…He spoke of a spiritual teacher, flowing with songs – every day thousands of songs like petals falling into the hands of devotees poised to catch them – he spoke of working for social justice, and he spoke of adventures traveling the world. He spoke of creative, holistic alternative education, and sustainable agricultural community development.
After university, I had spent a year, learning on my own about spirituality, and many different holistic and progressive movements – but had remained utterly lost in indecision because everything seemed important and necessary for a better world. A deep sigh of relief relaxed my being as I realized that it had already been done – this spiritual teacher – whose name I didn’t even know yet – I just knew he had already shown how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together…and I was so grateful.
This gratitude has only increased throughout the years that I have been blessed to be practicing meditation and serving in Shrii Shrii Anandamurtii’s Mission of making deep, traditionally rooted practices of meditation accessible to all. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to work for the social service and education projects of Ananda Marga seeking to express Neo-Humanism – an ecological consciousness of our deep interconnectedness with all beings. Of all of the types of service I have had the opportunity to do, it is truly a great honour when I am asked to initiate someone into the 6 lessons of Ananda Marga Sahaj Yoga meditation. It is a moment in which I can share the most precious jewel of my life and it is always inspiring to see the transformation that the seed of mantra brings forth in a new spiritual aspirant.
Our teacher felt strongly that spiritual practice is the birthright of all human beings, and therefore should be as freely available as light, air, and water. If you are interested to learn meditation, or simply wish to ask a question about spiritual practice – please don’t hesitate to ask. It is my deepest joy and pleasure to share these gifts with you.
For more information about Ananda Marga meditation- please also come and visit our Ananda Marga Romania website where I have also provided instructions for starting out a simple meditation practice using a universal mantra.