Aspects of Transformation at Rikhia

Swami Anandakumar Saraswati

For anyone who has been able to attend the yajna programs in Rikhia each year in either November or December, over the years it may be possible to recognize a relationship developing with the individual transformation process that takes place there.

Each year before the actual program begins there is a period of preparation, and during that time certain qualities and dynamics come into play that make this transformation process possible.

We are in the presence of Sri Swamiji, our spiritual master, and the very atmosphere is charged with a potency that makes ordinary thought mundane and irrelevant. In this special place everyone works very hard. We work to make the environment perfect, like a mandala, so that all who come may experience the same energy vibration easily. We work to give ourselves wholeheartedly to seva, to purify ourselves, to make the body light so we may experience that lightness of being. We work so that we may become as one, like limbs of the same body, to express and fulfil the vision of our spiritual master. And we work so that the intellect will release its hold and rest and be quiet and allow the still pure voice inside to be heard.

All this helps to make the channels of experience ready, to be open to what is taking place at different levels of consciousness. And so much of what takes place is at a very deep level indeed. The problem is there is a communication gap between the conscious mind and what takes place at the unconscious level. It's like we are different people. We have different personalities at different levels: one that we are aware of, that we wear on the outside, that we consciously display to the world; and one that is unconscious, that is hidden, and is completely unknown to us. And there is a difference of communication styles between these two - they speak indifferent languages - and the conscious mind is not equipped to pick up the subtle vibrations from the unconscious. The yajna programs in Rikhia work principally on the unconscious level, and therefore much of our understanding must come from developing the ability to tune in and be aware of what is taking place at the very deepest level.

So it is not surprising that there can be many different kinds of reactions, that sometimes it is seen one way and then another, and the tumult of inner experience can be very powerful and overwhelming. Sometimes it is very hard because long forgotten or unknown aspects of personality can suddenly appear; sometimes nothing makes sense; and sometimes it is as if God is whispering to us individually and that yes, everything is exactly as it should be. But nothing lasts; it always changes, sometimes with bewildering speed.

One initial reaction is that it is all like a special occasion, a party, a holiday - almost as if it were all put on especially for me. All sense of responsibility seems to fall away and there is a feeling of freedom to be able to be and do exactly as one pleases because, in an environment of total acceptance, there is a feeling of infinite possibility. There may not even be a desire to participate much at this stage, because it is all too much fun. We may manage this reaction responsibly or we may want to express our new-found freedom to others, 'in the market place' so to speak.

Another early reaction can best be summed up by the question: "What am I doing here?" Here there is a feeling of bewilderment at all that is going on around you. It's not that it's confusing on a physical level but that there seems to be some big secret going on that you're not a part of, that you don't understand, that makes you feel very uncertain. Of course in a sense it is a secret, but it is an open secret that is not actually being kept from anyone. Everything that takes place has a purpose and an effect because powerful forces are being brought into play, it's just that we are not tuned in sufficiently to understand. So you ask yourself what is the point of it all. And you may slip out for a cup of tea from time to time, but somewhere deep inside a suspicion, an inarticulate not-knowing, keeps you there but still feeling very out of place.

Then a recognition comes that although I have no idea what it is, at what level it is taking place or exactly how it is affecting me, it is clear that something quite powerful is happening deep inside - I know, but I don't know how I know, nor what it is that I know. It is only the vaguest feeling, but it is definite and it gives faith that yes this is special, this is something of great value. And though the mind is not able to understand or reconcile it, there is a determination to participate as much as possible to allow the effect to take place naturally.

The next phase is recognizing that there is an awareness of what is developing, but that one is not fully in touch with it - there is an inner awareness at work and I know it is there but it's not clear at a conscious level. There are fleeting glimpses, elusive half-understood impressions that are not possible to hold onto or define. However, it seems clear that what is being touched upon briefly now will return and be understood better at a later time when the changes taking place percolate through to conscious awareness. This develops the confidence to watch and let it unfold without interference even if it appears beyond reach at the time. There is also a growing sensitivity to the little things that will help this understanding to develop.

The next phase is being tuned into the inner experiences to such an extent that one can sense the inner changes as they take place. One can recognize that there is a trend that runs through everything that is happening; that, although the experience may be of many varying kinds of tricks of the mind or conflicting emotions, or a play of the light, there is a connecting thread that weaves a pattern of meaning out of it all. It is at such a level of experience now that it would not be possible, or desirable, to articulate this. One recognizable aspect is that at different times it is like living in your own movie or play; that you are living one experience for a period of time, only for it to change and become another movie, or play. It is the guru lila, the transcendental play created by the guru energy. It is as if one's karma is being played out by living it as a real experience, but only in one's own mind as an inner play. So the whole atmosphere around you changes from time to time; but really all that is actually changing is only one's own deep inner impressions.

Then another stage is when there is an intuitive understanding of what is going to be learnt and understood - a premonition of what this one is going to be about. It's like each year a particular path of experience and learning is mapped out and it is possible for us to have a glimpse of the map before the journey. This can be very confronting if it is something like unacceptable aspects of one's ego. So that what yesterday was a perfectly acceptable aspect of oneself is now seen in a very different light and becomes funny or ridiculous or grotesque - but in any case now somehow irrelevant and no longer acceptable. With this kind of insight it is natural that the awareness will become more finely tuned and subtle. One can adapt to it and see everything that happens in a more coherent context, in the sure knowledge that in its own time everything will be revealed.

These yajna programs are so deep and powerful that it is not possible to evaluate or appreciate them fully. On one level they can be treated as social occasions where we are able to catch up with old friends and so on; but on another level they are from beginning to end a complete and very powerful sadhana. And in terms of understanding the nature of spirit, of energy, of subtle forces and the needs of the soul, and coming to terms with one's karma and oneself, they are such a blessing and no greater gift is given.