Monday, November 02, 2009
Lakshmana Swamy and Mathru Sir Sarada
I've posted before about Lakshmana Swami and and his devotee Mathru Sri Sarada. Laskshmana Swami realized the Self in Ramana Maharishi's presence on October 1, 1949, at the age of 24, less than a year before Ramana's death. Mathru Sri Sarada realized the Self in Lakshmana's presence on December 18, 1978, at the age of 20. They are the only unbroken line of realization, that I know of, that survives from Ramana Maharshi.
Lakshmana is almost 84, and Saradamma is almost 50. They have lived very private lives, and have never taught publicly, or made themselves available to the public except on special occasions. They only teach select students and have no interest in being part of the Guru circuit. They allow people to meditate, with permission, at the gate of their small ashram in Tiruvanamalai, and may occasionally give Darshan there. The only scheduled Darshan they give is twice a year, on Swamy Lakshmana's birthday, December 25, and on Deepam, which I believe is a festival that occurs in October/November.
There's an excellent little book about them by David Godman, who is a devotee of Lakshmana Swami, called No Mind, I Am The Self, which gives biographical information on both of them, and exerts from their teachings. Unfortunately, there's very little information available about them otherwise, and no other publications with their teachings in it, not I'm sure because David hasn't tried to get them to publish something more.
From the first time I read their book, I felt a powerful attraction to them, particular to Saradamma. I was quite surprised at my response to them, in that having left Adidam some years before with no particular intention of becoming attracted to another Guru figure again, I found myself spontaneously meditating upon her whenever I looked at her photo. And the same become true for Lakshmana Swami. Of course, considering that they don't generally accept devotees from a distance, and the fact that I'm pretty tied up with my family life and work here in the States, it didn't seem like a likely match. Nonetheless, I've remained very attracted to them ever since. Several times I actually tried to write letters to Saradamma, but I could never bring myself to mail them, in part because I was never satisfied with anything I'd written, and in part because I just didn't know how such things would be received on their end. Even so, each time I wrote them I felt as if my questions were answered in my mind without even having mailed the letters.
Recently, I visited their website once again, and was once more so drawn into contemplation by their photos that I felt I just had to write something to them in gratitude. I finally managed to get a letter off a few weeks ago. I haven't gotten any written response, and I don't know if I can even expect something like that, but I did have a very interesting dream about ten days after mailing the letter, which is about how long it might take for it to be delivered and read in India. In the letter I explained that part of my own complicated spiritual history was that I had a long-term relationship with a Guru who I later left. I mentioned this, because at their own website they mentioned that they were not interested in seeing people who already had Gurus.
In this dream, I was at my parents' home back in Connecticut, where I grew up. Adi Da was giving Darshan in the family room, and I was sitting before him in the almost empty room. Shortly after the Darshan began, I got up and left. I went to a secret meditation room in the house that didn't actually exist when I lived there. I sat down in this room, and prayed for a Guru. I prayed with all my heart and soul, and as I did so, I say the blue bindu-light of the ajna door before me. It enlarged into a purplish-blue wave of pure liquid light that expanded and washed all over me in waves of bliss. I can't describe how vivid and powerful this experience was. I felt that I was contacting the true Guru, or really, that the Guru was contacting me, and making a profound connection of some sort on a subtle level. When I woke up from this dream it was still with me, the bliss was so tangible, and the feeling of some profound connection in my heart kept reverberating inside me.
I don't want to draw any kind of unfounded conclusions, but my impression is that this was the result of Saradamma and Lakshmana receiving my letter. I'm going to wait a bit before sending a second letter, but within the next few weeks I probably will, even if I haven't heard anything by snail-mail back from them. It may well be they just don't use conventional methods for sending letters.
Saradamma's sadhana is interesting in that it was entirely devotional in nature, without any resort to self-enquiry, as Lakshmana tried in vain to instruct her in that practice. Instead, she evolved a practice of meditation on his form which carried her all the way to full Self-Realization, in spite of her lack of interest in that goal. Here's an exert from her book describing her sadhana, and her recommendation to devotees:
"I realized the Self by meditating on Swamy's form. In the beginning I used to do japa of 'Hare Lakshmana' but later I stopped and concentrated on his form alone. After some time I was able to sustain Swamy's image in my mind continuously with no other thoughts intruding. As my practice progressed I was even able to visualize him outside the body. Eventually a point was reached when no matter where I looked I saw only Swamy. This practice was good, but the best results came from meditating on him in the Heart.
If you want to meditate on me or Swami it is not good to think of us as objects separate from you. Meditate on us in the Heart for we are really inside you, not outside you. In the later stages of my sadhana I always used to meditate on Swamy in the Heart. Sometimes he would fill my being so completely that I could actually feel that I was Swamy. My face would feel as if it had taken on the shape of Swamy's face and there was a feeling that Swamy had entered or taken over my whole body. By meditating on Swamy in this way I could feel that Swamy and I were one and not separate.
Swamy and I are in your Heart: meditate on us in the Heart and you will discover that we are not apart from you. When you look at our bodies you are only looking at an image created by your mind. Meditate on us in the Heart and you will discover that we are your own Self.
Question: When you say 'meditate on us in the Heart', do you mean that I should visualize an image in the Heart-centre in the same way that you used to do before you realized the Self?
Saradamma: No, that is not real Heart meditation; it is just an exercise in concentration. Meditating in the Heart really means that you should make the mind go back into the Heart so that you can experience the bliss of the Self there. If you are thinking about anything, even mine or Swamy's form, then the mind is still active. If you can give up all thoughts and make the mind completely silent and still, then it will automatically sink into the Heart. Meditation in the Heart really begins when the mind rests quietly in the Heart, absorbed in the bliss of the Self."
This is the kind of sadhana I want to cultivate in my own practice. Thinking is over-rated. Mindless contemplation is what it's all about. That's what real self-enquiry is about as well.