People complain that the Rudra meditation practice is difficult. Never for a moment have I thought it was easy. Why should it be easy? The person we’re up against is oneself, a private enemy who shuts the door that leads to spiritual enlightenment. Think for a moment: what in life is easy? TV dinners are easy; McDonald’s is easy; KFC and Wendy’s are easy; a gourmet meal takes time to prepare. One must master ingredients, spices, cooking, presentation and a host of other things to create a delicious meal.

Transformation is about change and change is invariably cumbersome. No matter how minor the change, choice needs to be made, and choice brings newness, and newness brings change of routine. Minor changes like toothpaste brands, laundry detergents, what to eat for breakfast, the purchase of a shirt or a pair of shoes, can cause conflict and confusion and force people to mull over the change and waste a good deal of time. If a mere choice of toothpaste can prove challenging, consider the magnitude of difficulty in transforming one’s entire life.

“Work brings more work,” Rudi told me. “You can be tired on your own time, but not on God’s time.” Those maxims have etched themselves into my memory. They continue to motivate me to search for treasures deep inside myself. It’s an archeological dig that reveals endless resources on a path that leads to enlightenment. I realized early on that it would take a lifetime of inner work to transform the mundane into the sacred; I realized that kundalini meditation practice was my bond with Rudi and Swami Nityananda, two spiritual masters who gave me a life in which a smorgasbord of countless experience would help guide me to a more conscious place within myself. My meditation practice unearthed fragments of knowledge and wisdom. Each tidbit gave me an opportunity to develop a more conscious outlook on life. I discovered that inner transformation is the single most difficult thing I could undertake. I had to survive myself. Complaints take me nowhere and anger at obstruction makes it that much more difficult to move on. I made a sincere commitment to transform myself. The alternative was to drift along on life’s currents, get older and wonder why I wasted my youth and middle age on “maya,” why I took a path that led directly to the grave, a path that ate up my time and exhausted my energy and rewarded me with a weak inner life that dwells nonstop on illness and death.

I realized early on that it would take a lifetime of inner work to transform the mundane into the sacred.

“Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, I wasted my time chasing illusion. I ran away from myself, my family, from everything that represented a lethargic middle-class lifestyle. I dreamt of an imaginary world filled with art and spirit. After I met Rudi at the age of twenty-five, I discovered that my inner life could remain youthful, creative, vibrantly alive as my body aged. It need not descend into a doleful state of lethargy. A lack of internal vibrancy is brought on by decades of being adrift in life’s vicissitudes. People are torn apart by age. They get stale inside and live like shadows of their former selves. Years spent paralyzed by the fear of old age and dying, by resistance to lifestyle changes that require deep inner work cements patterns of living. As one gets older and adrift on a river of “maya,” they no longer have energy to transform internal malaise into a creative life. Chakra work strengthens one’s connection with spirit and energizes the core of one’s being. The body ages, but the inner life of a human remains open to receive knowledge, wisdom, and ways to contribute to society. Rudi once told me: “You either suffer like a schmuck or you suffer consciously.” Time passes either way. It all depends on how we use the precious moments of life that we’re given.

To master internal chaos and malaise, I needed time, training, perseverance and a profound spiritual need. My awakened eyes began to see illusion’s dreamlike miasma of intoxications. They also got a glimpse of truth’s naked version of life. Rudi once said to me: “If anyone asks you who the guru is, just tell them it’s life.” It took me twenty years to learn what he meant; it took that amount of time to recognize that life is a teacher of such profundity that every swami, Rinpoche, preacher, imam and rabbi should train their disciples to embrace its sacredness. “I must bow to it,” I mused, “treat it with respect and learn to transform my suffering into happiness, and not complain about every indiscretion. I must learn to forgive and move on, to use every experience as an opportunity to deepen my inner life. If the objective world mirrors my inner condition, then it’s time to stop pettiness, anger and revenge, and take a good look in that mirror and see where it’s necessary for me to change…”

(To be continued…)

Detail of a painting by Michaelangelo from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome