I woke up in my hotel room one morning, and tried to find me. For
real. For the first time. There was nothing there. Where there
should be an I, an entity, there was only open space, absolutely at
peace, always and eternally free. I burst out laughing there in the
hotel room, and did not stop for twenty minutes.
That was the end of seeking. It has never come back.
I stayed with Poonjaji for about a year, and then he sent me
back to the West, to “share the secret with my friends.” One thing
grew into another, and here I was, sitting on a throne, with a whole
bunch of new friends.
“Arjuna, please teach us how we may
trust.” She was in her mid sixties, with short grey hair, and eyes
like a small bird. I looked into those eyes, and felt the purity and
commitment of her heart, that would settle for nothing less than the
real deal. I looked around at the others there. Some children were
sitting at the front, some elderly people in chairs at the back.
Between them were baby-boom hippies, smartly dressed executives,
artists, healers, computer wizzes, all gathered here for the same
reason, out of their love of something mysterious, which the mind
could not name, but which the heart would not give up on. The
enormity of innocence, of sincerity, of longing filled the room like
a heavy sweet perfume. Every pair of eyes was turned to me, they
were all waiting for a wise response. I checked back, to find one.
Suddenly I knew that something was not right about the theatre of
the place. I knew beyond doubt that the old lady knew just as much
about trust as I did. Wisdom was swirling everywhere in the room
like smoke, only the gestalt of the room suggested a hierarchy of
knowing, provoked people to ask for answers from outside.
That moment marked the beginning of the end of my life as a
Most of the people who attended satsang had an awakening in
the first meeting or two, no different than I had in Lucknow. They
came back again and again because it was not sustained in their
day-to-day life, and they assumed I could help. Work, family, busy
schedule, relationship, all of it seemed to sabotage the awakening.
They longed to embody their realization more deeply. But if I was
really honest, the longing for more tangible embodiment was just as
strong in me as in them. I had the chair out of an accident, a
divine joke, a randomly bestowed gift of eloquence. Both the
realization and the longing to live it, for real, were everywhere in
This moment initiated a process, sometimes painful and
sometimes illuminating, that went on for many years. I kept
teaching, and I could not avoid also looking at my life: my
relationship with my children, with my wife at that time, with my
friends and with the earth. Just like those who turned to me as a
teacher, I also felt a schism between the depth of realization, and
the quality of my life. The realization was of oneness, but habits
were still loyal to separation. The realization was of
limitlessness, but mental habits were still loyal to fear and not
enough. Divorce from my sons´ mother only quickened the process.
I was fortunate to have many deep friendships with other
teachers, and we were able to investigate our condition in dialog.
Isaac Shapiro, for example, is clearly a very deep and awakened man.
Thousands of people look to him as a teacher. He too has gone
through not one divorce during his teaching career, but two, and was
also looking with breathtaking honestly at the old habits that
create separation. I found many others who were clearly awake and
also willing to get down from the pedestal of guru long enough and
to be honest about their humanness in this way: Catherine Ingram,
Satyam Nadeen, Sandford Perrett, to name just a few. In each of us
we were faced with the ideas about enlightenment we had inherited
from the orient, and the actuality of this life as it is.
Over the years, enlightenment has become irrelevant to me.
Some goal of absolute freedom from the mortal realm seems now to be
a fetishism of escape, usually the preoccupation of men who
desperately need good sex. It has become much more important how
much this life, today and now, is reflecting the realization that is
already here. Is the love that is already awake in the heart being
lived and expressed in a way that really makes a difference to other
people, to those I am close to? The embodiment of realization has
become a thousand times more important than the degree of
My intimate relationships have always been the pivotal
barometer of this embodiment. In loving, being loved, making love,
we all taste the most vivid ways that this personal life can be a
dance of divinity, or the most painful and opaque distraction from
it. In our openness to intimacy we find out just how real our
spirituality has become.
I entered a transformed relationship to relationship itself,
a phase of being very much alone. Besides the essential duties of
fatherhood, I stayed with myself. I did many hours a day of silent
sitting, and physical practices. I was willing to stay alone and
celibate for the rest of my life, but if I were to enter intimate
relationship again, it would only be as an expression and embodiment
of the love I found in my innermost core. I knew that there was a
mountain of habits that needed to be faced with honesty for love to
be real and clean.
I did not know what that would look like. I did not know if I
would be able to find someone interested to meet in that way, but I
knew I would stay alone until I could trust myself to love with all
The morning was crisp, a warm wind was coming up the
valley. The river of Ganga was overflowing with aquamarine colored
water. The contour of the mountains was crystal clear after the
night rain had cleansed the air.
I was sitting with my teacher Shantimayi and about twenty
others in a small temple, big windows to the vista of big nature.
The air was filled with the smell of incense and with the sound of
the Gayatri mantra, a prayer for everybody to wake up to their
nature beyond the personal self.
Dissolving completely into this song, this chanting, this
prayer for all of us, for the first time I truly had no sense of a
separate me. It was absolutely completely gone; I became the prayer,
a total prayer for everybody. There was nothing missing.
I had been traveling to India and to other places around the
world for many years, following different teachers and schools and
techniques. All of them had been created by men. I was seeking for
enlightenment. I had numerous spiritual experiences, openings, but
since I strongly believed in concepts of what enlightenment should
look like, I would every time throw myself back onto the “path.” I
had been fully occupied with seeking the ultimate void, a place
where all human expression should stop. This search had led me to be
very fulltime occupied with my own process with my own development,
with my own enlightenment.
Simply sitting here, singing for the
awakening of all, at the foothills of the Himalayas, this cool
winter morning, was freedom. There was no more concern to get rid of
anything or to reach some kind of end.
It was a pure expression of love, which made me disappear
From then on it was clear as the morning air, that this love
was and is who I am at all times, and that there was nothing more
important to me in the whole of existence than to make my life an
expression of this love.
When I returned to Europe, I saw this would mean that a lot
needed to change in my life in order for the outer expression to be
in alignment with the deep love inside.
Life itself pushed or supported these changes to happen, very
fluidly, falling off like dead leaves in autumn. Some changes were
more painful and frightening. But the more my life became an
expression of the realization, I felt a profoundly deep
satisfaction, different than the fleeting feelings when I get what I
want. It was the deeper satisfaction of actually living aligned with
my true heart. Even though this is an ongoing process where I often
stumble and fall I have since than had a strong sense of purpose and
co-creation with the whole of the existence.
One of the areas where I saw most incoherence with the
realization of being love was ironically in my intimate relationship
at the time, and very soon it came to an end. That arena we assume
to be the naturally ground for love, was the area I found myself
most often caught in power struggles, preoccupied with my own
personal agenda, in conflicts, and getting distracted from what was
The whole world situation brought forth urgency in me, a
responsibility to not let another minute go by without being a
vehicle for this great love. It was clear that my commitment was to
love itself, a love so much bigger than our small personal dramas,
so if I should enter a relationship again it had to be supporting
this commitment, not distracting me from it. And if I should not
meet somebody with the same commitment I was willing to live alone,
but no more compromise.
Very shortly after this I met Arjuna, who was to become my
husband. He happened to be in a similar state of decision and
commitment as myself and we started a thorough investigation of how
to create an union, a relationship that would support this gifting
of love to emanate through each of us and out to the rest of the
We experimented intensely to find out in a practical way what
it takes for the undercurrent of love in this moment to have space
to breath and become stronger than the habits that we have inherited
from ancestors and family and our past experiences.
There is a strong vision in my heart of fully embodying this
love, of being a true gift to the planet in a down to earth tangible
way. Not as a concept but as a love people can feel for real. Not to
escape life but to enter life fully, allowing love to be expressed
through this body and through these feelings in all the mundane day
to day activities.
And here I truly see the need for practice. To practice in a
way that makes me recognize the habits that sabotages love and that
allows the body to reflect and radiate more and more of this
presence, of this divine love.
The practice needed is different than all my eastern male
teachers had taught me. Although I still sit silently and watch the
breath for a period each day, the main focus of my practice I do now
is on expression, in prayer, and in interaction with my husband. I
don’t practice for any future reward; I practice to open up into
more and more and more love, right here, right now.
The feminine quality in all of us is fully in the moment,
relishing the full spectre of life with all its colors and all its
smells and feelings, and birthing and dying. The feminine laughs at
a future state of enlightenment and sees it as nothing but a concept
of the mind, and she asks;
do we really have the time to postpone living the love in our
We began an inquiry into what would allow us to live as
awakened love instead of the habits. It began as a purely personal
investigation; we explored many exceptional teachers and developed
many tools ourselves. After some time we discovered that the way we
were practicing was working. Habitual tendencies would arise, but
most of the time we could find ways to play with them creatively,
humorously so they became fuel to the fire of love instead of a wet
blanket to extinguish it.
As we began to marvel at what was happening for us, our
friends also joined in. A dinner here, a walk there, people began to
ask us; “what is it you are doing?” We found we could share many of
our discoveries with others, that they could use the same tools with
the same effect. After a time we began to give talks in public and
to offer weekends for people whether they are single or in a
We support single people by helping them to feel deeper than
loneliness into their true heart, and to feel into the true longing,
to not compromise, to stay true to that vision rather than settle
for just anything, to avoid loneliness.
We support couples to allow the depth of their spiritual
realization and their intimate relationship to become the same.
Instead of meditating or going to retreat or satsang, and then bring
the fruits of that to relationship, to allow relationship itself to
become a form of spiritual practice. Our relationship is without
doubt the arena where our greatest deepening happens. It is our
meeting that now is the guru, is the force that dispels darkness,
that pushes us to expand into awakened love.
The gift that we
offer people is more of an art form than a science. Its not a step
by step, one-two-three do this technique and live happy ever after.
It’s much more of a soft responding to situations as they arise and
transforming them through awareness, compassion and humor. Some
artists go to the recycling yard, they find broken machines, and
they take the parts and make them into art. We take the broken old
habits of personality, and reuse them as sacred art.
There are some very general principles to this art form,
which guide our work with people in sessions and weekend
In every arena of life it’s easy to forget why
we came, to forget original intention and vision. In a business, for
example, it is easy to forget the noble vision you started with, how
to make a contribution, how to stay in integrity, and to just get
lost in profit. We also forget why we entered relationship, the
deeper commitment already in the heart to love, to be honest, to be
open, to give. We support people to find ways to rediscover natural
vision, why you are alive.
This is a very private personal and
solitary process, something better done alone than together with
Out of this general sense of
vision we connect with the place in us where we can take a stand.
Where we can step up and say; okay I am committed to bring forth
these qualities in my life. You can only take a stand once you have
a feeling of core vision. Then it is possible to say; I am committed
to staying open no matter what; I am committed to deepening in
meditation; I am committed to generosity of spirit. As we discover
our commitment, so we can also be honest about the obstacles, our
old habits. So we can say; “I am committed to honesty, but I have a
habit of withdraw and hiding; I am committed to living with humor
but I have a habit to take my self seriously and become
Now we can begin to make
real and reliable agreements with our partner. We make agreements in
order to support our deeper commitment and practice our way through
the habitual obstacles. If you are in a couple, you can make
agreements with your partner. If you are single, you can make
agreements with your friends, or even with yourself.
crucible of our marriage, we have agreements about honesty, about
physical and meditation practice, about how we give and receive
feedback. We have agreements about specific ways to practice our way
through the old habits of separation, and to return to the Big Love.
And we regularly review these habits to see if they are doing their
job as we intended.
Committed intimate relationship will bring to
the surface all your hidden wounds. It is a universal treatment for
the psyche: every tiny contraction that you hold about reality, will
reliably come to the surface in the ocean of intimacy. So before the
heat is on, you need very clearly defined agreements of how you are
going to work through things as they arise. How you are going to
transform old habits into the current of
We view honesty not so much as a moral
virtue, but as a powerful transformational tool to let go of
separation and melt into something bigger than the personal.
Dishonesty, whether it’s lying or distorting or simply just
withholding, keeps the personal identity and agenda intact. It keeps
“my truth” distinct from “the truth”.
By disclosing everything to
our partner, even if it is humiliating or embarrassing, even if we
are afraid of hurting the other, we die to the old, and stay in the
Now. This doesn’t necessarily make relationship more comfortable or
harmonious, but the personality becomes more transparent and
We do not mean that we constantly are going to blurt out
anything that is on our mind at all times. This would create chaos.
We practice honesty in structured way. In our workshops and
individual consultation we teach short structures that helps people
to communicate in a clean and disentangled way. It takes less than
5- Humor and Art
We have both spend many
years involved in deep psychotherapeutic possessing. We have tried
most of what’s on offer in the advertisements in Connection
The practice of real love is not therapy in its
conventional sense. Our practice is not to improve or mend or heal
the personality, but to make it loose and transparent. The pivotal
difference between relationship as a therapeutic process and a
relationship as a spiritual practice is humor. So if Chameli notices
that Arjuna is contracted in control she is not going to try to
change it, or to analyze if it has to do with his mother. She will
just playfully ask him to march around the room imitating a British
sergeant Major in the army. We transform old habits into a humorous
flowing art form.
We live together in a
contract of deepening. Something like practicing martial art or any
other discipline, our practice is to continuously open into and
become a stream of generosity of spirit, through which love can flow
to everything in the universe. We use intimate relationship as the
most effective immediate available tool for this.
For us, that
starts with noticing the difference between being in a relationship
to get something, whether its security, comfort, sex, or alleviation
of loneliness, or whether we are in a relationship to gift our
partner way beyond their habitual limits.
When you drive your
partner to an ecstasy beyond where they can go on their own, you are
practicing the Big Love, you are practicing a new relationship with
all of life.
We all of us get caught trying to get something from
the outside. We think we long to get love, to get security, to get
respect. In our work with people we have discovered again and again
that deeper down, everyone is longing to give, to be a true gift to
the world in a unique way. It would be a tragedy to die without that
gift being given totally.
exercise we teach people is how to open the current of love through
the body in such a way that other people can feel it.
In all our
relating, what we say and do is much less important than where we
say and do from. When you show up completely present in the body, so
your whole body is open, vibrating with conscious presence, more or
less anything you say or do will become a channel for that presence
to be received and will be experienced as love.
Probably the most overlooked and underused muscle
in our personal relationships is the art and practice of
appreciation. If we could give people one thing to do each day, that
would make the most difference, it would be to express five
appreciations with your partner, or with your friends and family,
We teach couples a practice we call Couples –Puja.
Before you start the day, bow to your partner, and shower them with
thanks and appreciation. Start the relationship fresh each day and
recommit yourself to go as deep as you can together in honesty and
From the reports we get from the couples who do this
practice, and our own experience, we would say that this practice is
one of the most transformative gifts to an intimate
9-Relationship as Guru
The word “guru” comes
from the Sanskrit roots; Gu and Ru, witch literally means “that
which dispellers ignorance and darkness.” It has come to mean a
person (most often oriental and male) who can tell you how to live
your life, what to eat, and where to mail your donation.
have had our share of the traditional concepts of a Guru and we are
both tremendously grateful for the gifts that we have received. But
the greatest opportunity for Guru in your life, for the force that
can continuously pull you back to yourself, that can continuously
remind you of your deeper commitment, and can bring your
contractions again and again to transparency and art, is the person
sleeping on the other side of the bed.
forgetfulness that often colors our relationship, your partner loves
you totally; otherwise they wouldn’t have chosen to be with you.
Your partner also can see your blind spots immensely much better
than you can see them yourself. If you are willing to give your
partner the benefit of the doubt, they can guide you out of the
swamp of separation better than you could ever do so yourself, and
most probably better than someone with a long white beard and a
fleet of expensive cars.
greatest work we had to do, as couple, was to let go of all our
images of what love should look like. We’ve come to realize that
many of the values that we instinctively assumed, like harmony, not
hurting someone’s feelings, being nice and sweet, letting people do
their own thing, are only a very narrow band of what is available as
an expression of real love. We’ve learned, often painfully, that
what is actually happening between us is imbued with a much richer
love and depth than any model that we could arrive at in our mind of
what should be happening. Many of the practices we live and teach
are designed to dispelled notions of how relationship should be, to
free up our energy to be absolutely present, welcoming and playful
with what is actually occurring.
Seeking may have an end in time. But love is endless. Who can
say, “Now I know all about love, I have taken it to its outer
limits.” There is always much more waiting on the horizon. If you
have tired of chasing the carrot of absolute enlightenment, as a
goal in time, its time to relax from the path into the long grass,
and live today as love. We know of no better way to practice the Big
Love than in the white-hot fire of intimate