Searching for Truth in India
At the age of twenty I had no guru, no master to go to, no spiritual community to comfort me. I was alone on my path and had only one wild aspiration: to fly on the wings of the wind. As Krishnamurti taught, I did not look for a teacher, yet during my wanderings in India I fortuitously found fertile soil to plant the seeds of my spiritual aspiration. Rishikesh, the world capital of yoga, once operated a school for esoteric yoga. I arrived there as a tourist. I thought that the topic of the lesson would be flexibility, but instead found mysticism, chakras, meditation and a way to manipulate the energies from within.
I had explored my inner world alone for three years, discovering a few pieces of the mind and body puzzle that didn’t really connect. There were too many gaps leaving me far from being free and harmonious. Now, suddenly, in some yoga hall miles from my homeland, I get explanations about the other pieces of the puzzle and within a few weeks it all starts to fit together. Not only do I understand the inner world: now I can also change it according to my wishes. One body posture increases the volume of love and the other increases attention; a certain breathing exercise creates internal fire, and another exercise increases self-confidence.
After years looking in vain for ways to change the inner anguish – how to make heaviness light, replace fatigue with vigor, find fear out of courage – now, suddenly, within two or three weeks of practice, I finally found it. While this is not the ultimate solution, I have a way that works and gives results.
I was so passionate about practicing yoga outside the hall. Every day, all day, just yoga. As I walked home I used to stop halfway to do some more breathing exercises, and almost everyone who stumbled across my path was instantly subjected to some simple yoga guidance. My enthusiasm was so great that I tended to gather people in cafes, line them up and teach them yoga. I remember one of these “students” dumping the cigarette pack in a rather dramatic, almost comical way, after a few minutes of practice. Six months later, I asked a mutual friend how he was doing, and she told me that he really had stopped smoking ever since.
I was in seventh heaven. Suddenly, I had found something I wanted inside of me – but I didn’t dare to question it. I learned about the chakras and within a few weeks I began to feel them as a kind of tickle that appears in certain areas outside the body. Although the feelings were systematic and accurate, it did not satisfy me. I wasn’t looking for a slight tingle; I wanted to feel lightning and thunder; I was impatient and restless. I would do breathing exercises to such an extreme that I would often pass out. Needless to say it was childish and worthless. The people around me were so nice, so loving. We all had the enthusiasm of the beginning, accompanied by the feeling that we had finally found a spiritual path.
Brave friendships quickly formed, some of which remain to this day, with most of them teaching yoga at schools around the world. Suddenly I was surrounded by people who were willing to give everything for the benefit of the spirit. I could speak to their hearts, to their souls, receiving the same exciting spiritual aspiration from their mouths. Hear about their spiritual experiences and tell
about mine. That was a huge relief. Until then, I had felt lonely and isolated spiritually, being torn between my love for people and my love for spirit. Suddenly, I found a community where there was no conflict. The contact with the community, with its love and constructive criticism, also cleared away from my head all the “spiritual nonsense” I had up to that point. I think the thorough cleaning was not complete for another year or two.
My body also underwent considerable cleansing. The unhealthy food, preservatives, meat and alcohol had left me in a bad way. Yoga poses and breathing exercises shake every part of the body, removing all the debris from it. At the end of a week of practice, the levels of infection that came out of me reached a dangerous threshold. I got so sick, I vomited and expelled things I can’t remember ever putting inside me. Even on the emotional level, everything came out that night. I couldn’t sleep, my whole body hurt and my heart ached. A good friend took care of me, and despite all the unpleasantness, I felt like I was cleansing and happy about it. In the morning, I drank the ultimate remedy – no more Coca-Cola – and my stomach calmed down. I calmed down too, and my body purified. And since that night, my food and drink has remained pure.
People explained to me that the school here was part of an international organization call the Atman Federation. There was a spiritual guide there who would later become my guide on the path. However, at that stage, I was caught up in the vivid spirituality lived and breathed in India. I didn’t really connect with the idea of this remote master I had never met, although I appreciated the level of the courses and the knowledge. Maybe because of our lack of connection, maybe for other reasons, I decided to leave Rishikesh and the yoga school after a few months, and I continued traveling in India. I liked the practice so I persevered for 5-6 hours daily.
I learned Reiki and Ayurvedic massage, met people and got to know my girlfriend. Finally I came to the Ashram of Nityananda, who became my first guru. I felt good there, and I wanted to keep learning and practicing in that framework. Fate intervened, as the next workshop for Nityananda students was planned to take place in Rishikesh.
I traveled, of course, and finally found myself at the Atman Federation yoga center again. I stayed for another week and another month, and every time I was about to leave, something would happen, and I stayed a little longer. I would wake up at 5:30 in the morning, take a cold shower and go to the jungle to meditate by my regular bush. I persevered until the summer came with swarms of giant mosquitoes who drove me home.
Perhaps it was due to the intensity of the practice, perhaps as a result of insights into relationships with women, perhaps for a different reason. I don’t know exactly why, but at noon one day the long- accumulated efforts bore some fruit. I sat in my room and watched my girlfriend quietly as the light reflected from her face grew brighter. I actually saw a light shining from it, and something awoke inside me. A swift and gentle vibration went up and down my spine.
It was as if suddenly I had intense energy vastly beyond my normal limits. There was a liberating laugh, followed by a cry coming from inside me. My palms contracted and curled up, and I lost the ability to move them. The spine vibration gradually spread until I felt my whole body was vibrating. It was a bit like the numbness that appears when you fall asleep, growing step by step to cover the whole body. And it was more intense and totally pleasant.
My crying stopped and I became quiet, accompanied by swift sparks of understanding. It was a feeling of calm and ecstasy, of supreme happiness and of motionless silence. It took a few hours, I think. I felt “this” was divine grace, and I was so happy. I was able to recreate the experience a few more times, and my yoga experience explained to me what was blocked and how to move from there. And although it was explained to me that this is just the beginning of the spiritual path, for me it was a lot. It was the first tangible sign that I was heading in the right direction. In the quiet of the first experience, I knew, I simply knew, that I had to devote my life to this yoga method – but I also realized that before continuing with it, I needed to fix my relationship with my family and with my work in the US.
That search for happiness and wealth almost ruined my spiritual life, but in the end, I saved my skin from Uncle Sam’s greedy grip. I returned to Rishikesh’s fertile spiritual ground, licking my wounds. I recovered, and within a few months I took off to Romania. There, at the age of 22, I already had a Master, I had a path to the Light and I lived in a supportive and inspiring spiritual community.
By Uriel Yariv
Read more about Uriel’s spiritual journey: