Gangaji is a teacher and author who has traveled the world since 1990, speaking with thousands of spiritual seekers from all walks of life. Her message is powerful, clear and simple: true peace and lasting fulfillment are not only our birthright, they are the essential nature of our being. She is dedicated to pointing to true fulfilment through simple and direct self-inquiry in the tradition of the sage Sri Ramana Maharishi and Sri HWL Poonja. She is the author of You are THAT!, Freedom and Resolve: The Living Edge of Surrender, Who Are You?: The Path of Self-Inquiry, and The Diamond in Your Pocket.
Gangaji began by recalling her first visit to Findhorn nearly 30 years ago when the Foundation was in the birth pangs of being called to be a centre of light. There was alot of chaos, she remembered, as there always is when something shifts fundamentally. This is a great symbolism of nurturance on the planet – it in itself – this that has called us and shifted our reality and directs us in this unknowable life. Now she sees that the trees and plants have grown, it’s become a village, and the community is flourishing. She feels honoured to be a part of that – we’re all just a part of that whole and we each have a role to play; however, the actual role is not what we think it is. It can be unknown and unseen to us, but we can still be true to it.
Gangaji invited us to stop conceptualising what we are, where we think we’re going, what we should be doing. Stop all conceptualisations of reality in this time we have together. Let’s do this as an investigation – a living inquiry – to discover what is always here – alive, real regardless of our overlay. Gangaji admitted that although she loves stories – scary stories, stories that turn out well, stories that don’t turn out well – what she pays attention to is what’s under that – the source of thought. The source of all stories is the truth – the intelligent awareness of what you are. It’s nothing I can give you or you can learn, she told us. I can support with the experience. Findhorn can also do that. You have left your day to day activities behind and this place and our time together can support you. We can support each other in ways we can’t even imagine.
I have nothing to teach you – you already know everything. Truly, I’m inviting you not to learn anything and that’s radical. In our society, we learn and we get the biscuit or the pat. It’s an impulse that is deeply wired – to learn, to get it right, and get the reward. I’m asking you to open your consciousness to what is here. Forget what you have learned. Learning is a pollution when it is regarding discovering the truth of yourself. Who you are is unlearned and free and filled with the light of consciousness, unhindered by concepts.
Gangaji shared the story of how she came to be here, meeting us in this way. “I was just another miserable human being,” she began. I experienced moments of happiness of course, but I was searching always, searching for happiness, searching for love, searching for enlightenment. And when I didn’t get it, I blamed myself, my parents, my government, myself again, my first husband…. I was functionally unhappy. And I felt guilty because I didn’t have a reason to be unhappy. I wasn’t in a war zone, I hadn’t been raped, I wasn’t poverty stricken – I was just middle class miserable and also ashamed of that. I went to lots of teachings and workshops and just kept searching. In 1988, my second husband and I realised we needed a teacher either to let us know our search was futile or to be enlightened. She prayed for a true teacher but knew she didn’t want a guru, didn’t want the teacher to be from India, and definitely didn’t want her name to be changed to one of those hard to pronounce spiritual names. Within 6 months, her polluted prayer brought her a guru who lived in India and a new name.
When Papaji asked her what she was looking for, she said freedom. He said, Welcome, you’re in the right place. She waited for instructions as to what to do. Papaji simply said, Stop. Stop everything you’re doing. He said it with such love, such power – but it was radical because she was waiting for a set of instructions. Then she began to feel a flood of emotions, including fear – fear that if she stopped her beautiful search she would lose ground. Stopping was the invitation to meet her death – the reality of the death of this form. Stop denying, stop searching for proof and meet the inevitable – the death of form – therein lies the awakening.
Papaji was inviting her to meet her own death as he had done. The realisation that followed is tremendous, she shared. In 1990 he told her to come and offer this invitation to the West – the possibility to stop everything and discover the direct truth of who you are. We overlook those precious moments and miss the ever present – the precious, alive, conscious – always in fulfillment, always at peace with itself.
We link it up to a moment in nature or a person and try to recreate it. If, however, you allow this all the way in, you’ll discover who you are – you can be angry, sad, in any state – and there is always a bedrock of peace and fulfillment that allows it all. It’s not who you will be – it’s who you are. This is how our time will be spent in these next days, through conversations, but mostly the time we spend will be doing nothing, just simply being in silence together, meeting each other without form, without distraction – open to the refuge alive in each of us.
One of the participant’s inquiries was based on the emotion of fear. Can you open up to the fear, Gangaji gently invited? The next emotion under that was sadness. Gangaji guided the participant to open her attention next to the sadness. Quite often sadness is underneath fear. First we have to stop telling the story of fear, then stop telling the story of sadness, then we don’t even call it that anymore – we call it energy. We just experience the energy underneath and when we get to the bottom of it all, we find there is only stillness, spaciousness.
Whatever you feel is just right for inquiry. Whatever is appearing now is just perfect. The question is, can you fully open to whatever state arises, fully let it be here, stop your effort and let it be here? Whatever you feel, it’s okay – it’s the gateway for deeper inquiry. When we feel horrible and we try to escape, this sets up a pattern of non-acceptance. Is it possible not to judge it, just let it be? When we resist and fight, we then open to the experience of fighting. Fighting is futile, so stop fighting and experience what is under that, rest in what is under that.
It is a privilege to be able to rest. Some people on our planet cannot rest because if they do they may not eat or may be killed. It is important to take responsibility and not feel guilty to rest. I invite you not to throw away your chance to rest. From that the natural stillness that all wisdom arises from is alive in you – it’s alive in all of us.
Sometimes when we open to spaciousness, it is hard to stay spacious. This always surprises Gangaji. We develop an allegiance to our suffering – everything is related to our suffering. Suffering is a magnet, but our thoughts give it it’s power. What Gangaji is suggesting is if we stop trying to solve it and just allow it, what remains is simple, awake, awareness. Awareness is awake and still and is aware of every emotion and state. But when we reject the emotion or state, there is suffering. If you find your mind recycling, it’s a trap – you want to be free from the trap – but are you willing to give up all thoughts of yourself as a sufferer? The story has an emotional energy field. No matter what the emotion, it is the same trap door.
Perfect, pure awareness – that’s who you are. Stop imagining who you are. Papaji said one twelfth of a second is all it takes. So let’s take even a full second to just stop imagining.
There comes a certain maturity when you realise there’s no story that will give you fulfillment. What has never suffered here, that is your self. Spaciousness is conscious, consciousness is spacious – it is aware of itself. Consciousness is aware of itself and in love.
After the session, I reflected on my experience of sitting satsang with Gangaji 8 years ago in California. I had wondered if she would be the same or have changed her approach or her style. I was open and curious and quite truthfully relishing the notion of sitting in the spacious, open stillness with her. Happily, my experience of her was just the same today. She was just the same – the message was just the same – the truth was, of course, just the same. And I found rest, just the same.
Join us tomorrow when Gangaji invites us to deepen our experience of our selves in pure, perfect awareness.
– Mattie Porte –
May 24, 2008
Photographer: Sverre Koxvold