Childhood experience of Sri Anandagiri
Article about Sri Anandagiriji, main dasa at Oneness University, India
Photo of Sri Anandagiri at the Italian Deeksha Givers Conference June 2006
The following is one of Sri Anandagiri's childhood experiences when he was upset about having negative emotions and thoughts of jealousy.
A few years ago, I was in Sweden at a place called the Angsbacka Festival, called the No Mind Festival. At the end of the festival there was, not exactly a debate, but all the teachers who participated in the Angsbacka Festival, and all the people of the festival would gather and questions would be posed to the teachers from the participants there.
And the teachers would have to answer those questions. In fact the convener of that festival, Arjuna Ardagh, he is here and now he is giving deekshas. And the owner of that festival, Micky, in fact he is right now at the university helping others go through the process. He himself attended the 21-day process and also took the advanced course. One of the questions he was asked was, "What is enlightenment?" A lot of teachers were giving their own views of enlightenment. All equally true. Some talking about when you feel love for everybody, when you see light everywhere, when all duality has ended. It was my turn to speak. Back then, four years ago, I shared with the people my experience of freedom, because I could not speak other than what I knew from myself, directly. Anything else would be untruth if I spoke, even if it was true. One of the very helpful remarks made by Bhagavan: "Truth, when it's not your truth, still remains untruth."
Not all people liked the answer I gave, because we want to hear profound things, always. We want to speak about life, about duality, non-duality, origins of the universe, about the omnipresence of god, philosophy. We don't like to be told that you are garbage. And that the truth is that you are in pain, you are in suffering; you don't know what you live for. You are hurting; you don't feel loved. Spiritual people don't like to hear these things. Many of us would like to hear how our true identity is the eternal self and we are to discover our true identity. Fascinating things for our mind, but how far would it take us? So I told them, if you had a chance and the opportunity to encounter yourself, to see the truth of what you are and when that opportunity surfaced, if you're not afraid of looking at it, if you are willing to look at it, if you would accept it and even embrace it, that is freedom. That is the moment for the first time in your life, that you will feel no fear. A moment when you are seeing yourself as you are, not trying to hide anything. That surely is a great miracle. You feel fear all the time. Fear in everything you do. Fear of losing the images that have built over time. For the first time when you can see yourself clearly, all the so-called ugly things about yourself and say, "This is what I am." That's the moment when you're free of all fear. That's the moment of freedom. And if you so wish, you can call it enlightenment.
I could speak about it because it's a miracle that happened to me. A miracle for which I'm forever grateful to Amma and Bhagavan. Not after knowing Amma and Bhagavan as Amma and Bhagavan, but as the director of our school. With what ease Bhagavan helped me see myself, accept myself. When you're becoming an adult and moving from childhood to adulthood, the transition is a very difficult phase. You suddenly discover you're losing your innocence, you're becoming self conscious, you're becoming more and more self centred, and the more you see, the more painful it becomes. I was going through that phase while studying at Jeevashram. And especially it was more difficult for me because I carried this image of a wonderful student, of how good I was, how generous I was, and I could see that I was not that inside. It was very painful, a lot of conflict, a lot of debate.
What should I do? Should I stick onto that image or be prepared to get rid of that image and speak the truth. I did not know which was more desirable. The pleasure of the image or the pain of having to live up to the image while not being that. Because I was seeing, I was seeing that my innocence was going away, was gone. I was seeing all of a sudden I became self conscious. I was wanting to know what others think of me, which was not the case when I was younger, a child. What others felt about me. There was jealousy, there was competition, there was growing lust, lustful thoughts.
So I decided to go and speak to Bhagavan, the director of our school. Tell Bhagavan, this is what I am really; I'm not what all of you think. I made three attempts. Fear would stop me. I would go up to Bhagavan's doorstep, prepare myself to speak everything. Fear would stop me. Everything, all those beautiful things that people think about me would be lost forever. Should I do it? On the fourth time every time I thought I was brave, every attempt I made I said this time I would speak it out. Fourth time, anyway, I made it to Bhagavan's room and I told Bhagavan. Before I would change my mind, without pausing, I spoke out everything in every little detail. A detailed description of all the jealousy thoughts I had, of how self-conscious I was becoming, of how much I compare, of all the lustful thoughts I had, etc., etc., etc. And Bhagavan would listen to everything, as a matter of fact, like I'd told Bhagavan, "Bhagavan, I had idle and dose for breakfast this morning." That was the response of Bhagavan: as a matter of fact. He would listen to everything. In my opinion, I was speaking such ugly things. I was kind of expecting that Bhagavan would be shocked, would be angry, and upset with me.
At the end of all this, Bhagavan said, "Now that you know what you are, why don't you go to one of those boulders and sing a song aloud, 'this is what I am'"?
It's a beautiful campus, Jeevashram. Ups and downs, lots of rocks and boulders. So Bhagavan said you can go to that boulder and sing.
So I went to the boulder and started singing aloud a beautiful song of my ugly self in complete detail. And ever since, that was in '88, it's 2006 18 years, I don't remember to have any conflict. I don't remember. Not that everything changed since that moment, not that everything changed immediately. Not that my thoughts became different. Somehow, I could not complain anymore about myself. Every time I could sing a song easily about myself. That's why I call it a miracle. But you need grace for that. If simply by singing a song about yourself, you can be free, that would be so easy. I am sure it was not the song that liberated me. That listening of Bhagavan, that very listening of Bhagavan, his response, was a deeksha. I could see with such ease. So I say, it will be one of the great miracles in life if you can see yourself. That is when you will touch god.