Dear Dada, what does “spirituality” mean to you?
Spirituality means the philosophy and practice related to the realisation of one infinite
consciousness within all and within which all exist. It recognises that the whole universe is part
of the infinite conscious flow and that as such we are all one family: all people, all animals, all
plants; and all people, animals and plants on other planets too. The universe is our home and all
beings within it our family. It also recognises that since the infinite consciousness of the
universe is the essence of our own consciousness, our destiny is to realise our oneness with the
infinite and therefore attain the essential feeling of infinite being, which is infinite happiness, or
You studied medicine and, at some point, started to reflect on your life and on your perception
of reality. Given the world’s current pandemic situation, people now have the chance to look at
their lives from a different perspective by being home and in stillness. Do you think that this is a
chance for them to reflect on their own paths as well?
Certainly the current circumstances are a good opportunity for people to reflect on their own lives and path. When I dropped out of university it was a very liberating experience because it freed me up to wonder and contemplate the nature of life, the universe and everything. That was the start of my spiritual search and it lead me to learn meditation and live a spiritual lifestyle. That lifestyle can also be called yoga, because yoga is the system of life which enables you to attain oneness with the Supreme Consciousness. It is a very good life and the more you can practice it the better your life will become. You will be freed — slowly but surely — from the shackles of your own mind. It is something that anyone can discover and live if they try, and this is the perfect opportunity to do it.
What does consciousness mean to you?
Consciousness is the awareness of being. It is behind all thought and is expressed to some extent in all creatures. The more evolved the creature, the greater its expression of consciousness, and hence its awareness. For example, an ant has a very limited awareness because its consciousness is not very highly expressed. Perhaps amphibians have a more developed expression of consciousness than insects, and so more awareness, the reptiles, birds, mammals, etc. As human beings we have the greatest expression of consciousness within our minds, and therefore the greatest awareness. In fact, we have the ability to be self-reflecting; to reflect on the nature of our existence and the meaning of the “self”. Therefore we are in a very privileged position to utilise our human body and the environment and resources at our disposal to really do something about our inner longing for peace, happiness and oneness.
How can people develop their “consciousness”?
Spiritual practice, or again you can say yoga, living the yogic lifestyle. This includes many things, such as living an ethical life (always trying to do the right thing in any given circumstance), eating the right food (sentient vegetarian), helping others in need as much as you can without expecting anything in return (this has a big spiritual payoff), yoga postures, chanting a mantra, etc. But the central core practice of the spiritual lifestyle is meditation.
You refer to meditation as an “intuitional science”. What does “intuition” mean to you?
Intuition is the faculty of knowing without learning. We use the intellect to learn things, to analyse, to calculate, to think. But intuition means to know without having to do any of these things. It’s a natural ability that develops along with the expansion of consciousness. The more we get in tune with the Infinite Consciousness within and around us, the more are able to naturally intuit whatever we need from the vast cosmic knowledge of the universe.
Do you see intuition as a tool that can be used to bring things up from the subconscious to the conscious mind?
Intuitive knowledge comes from the cosmic mind and filters up into our conscious mind through the deeper layers of the mind. The more connected we are to the cosmic consciousness/mind the more in tune we will automatically be with the deeper intuitive knowledge within.
Do you actually believe in subconsciousness or do you think that there is just consciousness and that, sometimes, we are more aware of it than in other moments?
The three main layers of the mind are the conscious mind (“crude mind” in spiritual terminology, the sensing instinctual mind), the subconscious mind (“subtle mind”, the thinking intellectual mind), and the unconscious mind (“causal mind”, the intuitive all-knowing mind). So there are three main layers of the human mind: instinct, intellect and intuition.
Music, running or yoga are just some methods that some people use to connect with the self/consciousness/God. Why did you choose meditation as a method for your spiritual practice?
Music, running or any other relaxing activity is good, but meditation is the only activity which proactively redirects the mind and turns it inward. I’m talking about mantra meditation here, not mindfulness which is a passive form of reflection or contemplation, not so much a meditation in itself. So mantra meditation is very important and we should incorporate it into our lives along with everything else. By all means run, listen to music, do yoga or whatever, but also do the meditation. That’s the thing which is going to give us what we ultimately want deep down inside.
For those who have never meditated before or are not able to grasp what meditation is all about, can you explain what it means to you?
Mediation means to take time out twice a day — in the morning and evening — to sit down, close your eyes and look within yourself. Rather than looking outside, which is what we do all the other moments of our waking hours, look inside. Go within. Then with the help of a proper mantra you can start the journey of connecting with your inner self, and realising your inner self as the Self of all things, the universal spirit, the Cosmic Consciousness
What do you see while meditating?
You can have different visions while meditating, but that’s not important. The important thing is what you feel. It’s the feeling of oneness, connectedness, of infinite happiness that you focus on and that you get more and more within yourself. This is not about seeing or any other type of perception; it’s about experiencing the deepest feeling of being.
How does your meditation practice look like?
It looks like me sitting down with my eyes closed!
What was your most beautiful moment while meditating?
I’ve had a few, but the thing in common with them all is the deep and all-consuming feeling of love and bliss; the feeling of connectedness with the Great; love for that all-pervasive and ever-present Higher Consciousness; and the deep peace and contentment that goes along with it.
Do you still need meditation or do you have permanent access to your consciousness?
I haven’t reached the goal yet, so I still need meditation. I’m on the way, and I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still have a way to go yet. When I look back at my life it’s like I’m a completely different person now to what I was 30 years ago. So that’s a sign of progress. But this takes time and it will take some time more. It’s a long process but it’s also a blissful process. The longer you do it the more blissful it becomes. I am a meditation teacher of Ananda Marga, which means “Path of Bliss.”
In your TED Talk, you say that “consciousness is the final frontier”. Does that make consciousness the ultimate thing, the ultimate reality? Is there anything beyond consciousness?
Yes, consciousness, or rather Infinite Consciousness, Supreme Consciousness, Cosmic Consciousness, whatever you want to call it, is the ultimate reality. There is nothing beyond it. It is infinite and eternal: it has always existed and always will, and it is within everything and everyone. The whole universe — which is vast in its own right — exists within it. So it is the all-encompassing reality and destiny of all.
I believe that everything — our thoughts, our feelings, our body — are just ephemeral processes in our consciousness, but I always end up asking myself: “Who is experiencing consciousness?” Is there anything beyond consciousness even?
Yes, you are right. Our thoughts and feelings are ephemeral processes within our consciousness. And the question “Who is experiencing consciousness?” Is the question that meditation poses to you every time you practice it: who is it behind your everyday reality? Who am I? Who is the big “I” within which my small “I” exists? Who am I really, beyond the temporary and ephemeral existence of the mind? The theoretical answer is Cosmic Consciousness, but of course one has to realise that practically through meditation.
Currently, people are encouraged and, to some extent, forced to be disconnected from the outer world. They have to stay at home, with consumption and socialisation reduced to a minimum. In a sense, it almost feels like everyone is living a monk’s life now. It seems likely that, at some point, many of us will consequently be confronted with stillness, with the inner-self.
What do you believe humanity has the chance for, during this time? What do you think the world will look like, after this crisis?
We have the opportunity now (because, as the old Chinese saying goes, opportunity is the flip side of crisis) to go beyond our old paradigm, which has largely been one of materialism and consumerism, and which we now know does not satisfy us. We have outgrown it. We don’t need it any more. It is no good for anyone any more: it’s not good for the privileged few and it’s certainly not good for the deprived masses. So what we have to do now is go up to the next level: to a world based on love and cooperation rather than competition and exploitation. We have a chance now to work on the model of one human society, one family, rather than the “us and them” model of the past. We now have the opportunity to develop a harmonious balance between economic growth, social development, environmental sustainability, and between individual and collective interests, combining the wisdom of spirituality with a universal outlook to life and society.
yogic monk and meditation teacher of Ananda Marga.
Since 1995 Dada is teaching meditation in Australasia, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East and North America.
Learn more about Dada’s Meditation practice and contact him directly to learn more about your personal mantra: email@example.com