Sādhana is magical; it is not magic. This cannot be emphasized enough.
In the course of spiritual practice, extraordinary experiences can be everyday events. I have seen this in my own life as well as others’. In my time with Baba, his śakti imbued everything, making everything miraculous. But there was and is no magic in this. What people want from magic is power—in the words of Evelyn Underhill, “enlarging the sphere on which the human will can work” (Mysticism 152). That is antithetical to spiritual practice.
Baba wanted us to realize who we truly are; through that desire, he gave śaktipat, the infusion of the Guru’s grace. After śaktipat, the śakti begins unfolding. In Baba’s presence, it was easy, and difficult: easy for the śakti to manifest, and difficult for the individual to comprehend. People tried to make sense of it, and for every individual there could be a different sense. But the greatness of being with Baba was that he was guiding each of our sādhanas, and it happened spontaneously around him.
Baba’s ashrams were magical, not magic. It was all just the unfolding of the śakti. Our responsibility was and is to practice.
Only through intense hard work at nonattachment (vairagya), discernment (viveka), and surrender to what is Real can we establish ourselves in sāt-cit-ananda (Absolute Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss).
The test for all of us who were with Baba came when he left his physical form. Then, we were forced to either practice what Baba had taught us or decide it had all been just a kind of magic spell that hung over the ashram and around Baba.
Luckily for me, by the time I met Baba I had already had a catalog of śakti experiences through intense practice of Tai Chi Chuan. I was aware enough to know that such experiences are not the goal. I was looking for the bottom line of life. So when I met Baba and had experiences, they did not distract me or sidetrack me from the revelation Baba gave me at the retreat in Arcata where I encountered the Truth.
Baba knew what I wanted and gave it to me unstintingly. From that moment in Arcata, everything in my life “magically” unfolded to bring me nearer to what I sought and seek. Working so closely with Baba in his physical form, I grew used to the śakti; Baba was showing me what was truly important. Everything was heightened around him, and everything was also mundane.
When Baba left his body, I at first thought all was lost. I was half-baked and believed I needed Baba in his physical form to guide me. But Baba had given me all I needed. First, he had given me the internal practice without any external trappings, and there was nothing ambiguous about practicing. Second, Baba was never limited to his physical form, and to this day he has been continuing to guide me.
I knew some people who believed it was all magic, and when Baba left his body the magic disappeared. Despite having received śaktipat, they returned to the misery of their lives before Baba.
Our responsibility has always been to clean and still anything that keeps us from the Self of All. That task is not magic. Everything is simultaneously mundane and divine. Every moment, no matter how seemingly ordinary, is an opportunity to see God everywhere. As we proceed in our sādhana, the experiences we first took to be magic, or at least magical, become just part of God’s mundane realm.
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