Lakshman Joo and Maharishi
Maharishi on the left, Lakshmanjoo on the right, probably 1968 in Kashmir.
The experience of sitting in total darkness in the lab changed me, awakened me. I set out on a quest. Over the next five months of intense study, with the help of several good teachers, I slowly began to understand how to make a daily practice with the sutras. I started doing asanas and pranayama. I learned Taoist breathing exercises, made a meditation room out of the storage room off the garage, and sat in there. It all felt experimental, like I was just making it up each day. Then I learned the Transcendental Meditation Technique, which suggests you meditate for 20 minutes every morning and evening. TM makes use of several of the sutras, such as 16:
Hum a sound, such as ahhhhh . . . uuuuuuu . . . mmmmmm, or hreeeeemmmm, or eemmm,
or even the sound hum itself.
Bathe in the sound with infinite leisure . . .
Continue to listen as the sound dissolves into silence.
As the sound fades
into an imperceptible hum, it will carry you
into the hum of the universe.
The training conveyed a sense of trust in spontaneity and simplicity. From my teacher I leaned to do almost nothing, just sit there and listen, feel, and look at what is happening. A few days after beginning the daily practice of meditation with the TM technique, I began to enter the world of heightened sensing again.
Oddly enough, the act of meditating felt totally normal to me, a bit like cleaning the house. During meditation, the feeling resembled sweeping, moving boxes and sorting. Here and there, for a moment, there would be a flash of infinity, as if you move a box that has been sitting in the garage for as long as you can remember, and underneath it the floor is translucent, with the milky way shining through it. But that would be only a flash, a second or two.
After meditation, when I was going about my day, was when I felt the quiet inner ecstasy. The ability to see energy fields in and around people developed further, and I spent 1968 and 1969 delightfully exploring all these new senses.
Soon after beginning the daily practice of meditation, I met a meditation teacher who had just returned from India and had studied with Lakshman Joo. He was carrying the energy of this tantra, quietly radiating it, and yet was incredibly humble. There was a great silence shimmering around him, and that was how he taught. If he spoke, it was to tell a joke, or direct me to listen to a piece of music. One day he told a story – he described being in the presence of Lakshman Joo and Maharishi as they sat together and held hands, and the great love between them. This was a maha-vakya to me, the great word, confirming what I knew inwardly, that there was a deep harmony between these two seemingly different meditation schools.
The ways of focusing described in the Bhairava Tantra were occuring to me instinctively during the practice of TM, allowing my experience to be spacious and delightful. And after meditation I found that each day, several of the awareness techniques of the VBT would occur impetuously, in the midst of a breath, or while walking, surfing, listening to music, making love.
As the intentional action of my spiritual practice, my sadhanam, I was using three or four methods of the 112 described in the Bhairava Tantra. Yet when I would open up Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, and look at the translation by Paul Reps and Lakshman Joo, I would be electrified to realize that many of the other dharanas were happening in an impromptu manner in my body as I walked around during the day interacting with waves, music, nature and people. The practices were happening of themselves – whenever I allowed it. All I had to do was pay a bit more attention than usual, stay with a perception for an extra couple of seconds, when looking into someone’s eyes, savoring the pre-dawn coolness, feeling the breeze on my skin, tasting food, or dancing. I don’t know how or why the full set of practices described in the Bhairava Tantra was happening by itself in my nerves and muscles and senses. It could be that if you do a couple of the dharanas, then you open the door for all of them to happen, to the extent you can handle it. And I was in the mood to welcome them all. It did not occur to me until 30 years later that I had received a transmission of the essence of this text in the classic way, in darkness and silence, as if in a cave.
Maharishi and Lakshman Joo