Journey to Wholeness: An Autobiography of Anadi
When I was asked to write an account of my spiritual journey into becoming my complete self, I agreed mainly because of the obvious benefit it can provide for others. However, I did so with a degree of reluctance because I am no longer the person I was, other than being linked by the continuity of memory to the arising and dying of my past selves. That is not to say that who I was then was unreal, but rather that in each profound step of the inner journey I had to die in order to embody the higher definition of who I am. I do not recognize that seeker of truth as myself anymore, but more as the material of consciousness that had to be used, sacrificed, alchemically transmuted and dissolved into my universal individuality.
I was born in Poland, a place which I perceived as grey, sad and very unsupportive to my soul. My soul deeply resisted birth into this plane of unconsciousness, insensitivity and ignorance. I was born into suffering; I was deeply depressed and felt completely alienated both from my original home and the unreal, dream-like world around me. Even as a small child, I knew that something of great value had been taken away from me, that I had been forced to forget something of tremendous significance. I was totally and utterly lost.
A deep spiritual longing was present in my heart from the very beginning of my life, but my intelligence was naturally too undeveloped to contain it. Still, as a child I found different ways to connect to my inner self by spending time in solitude or going for endless walks in the woods. At the age of five, in a situation of deep fear, I experienced a breathtaking shift into consciousness, finding myself in the realm of pure subjectivity. I suddenly remembered who I was and where my true abiding place in reality was. This realization was not permanent, but through it my soul had revealed to me the deeper meaning and purpose of my existence. While my mind could not fully grasp it, I knew without a doubt that this was where I belonged; my true home was closer and more real to me than anything in this world.
As I grew up I continued my inner exploration while learning how to cope with the outer world and trying to go beyond and overcome my alienation from creation. I was treading through unknown territory, and my inner growth was very slow; it took many years to unfold. Apart from studying literature and philosophy, and playing chess professionally, I gathered all the available books on the subject of self-realization in a search for further answers. In particular, I found comfort in studying Zen, Krishnamurti, and various Advaita masters. I felt a great affinity with Nisargadatta Maharaj, who provided a great source of inspiration for me at the time. In retrospect, however, I can also say that I hardly found any practical tools in his teaching to help me evolve spiritually. This is a general problem with the teachings on the subject of enlightenment: they speak of light, but because they do not offer a real and tangible bridge with which to cross to the other side, they do not really help seekers to reach it.
The main practical benefit that I gained from reading Maharaj was his suggestion that, once awakened, the inner state must be cultivated in order to become constant. From that time onwards I began the conscious effort to maintain the state of consciousness at all times, the practice of self-remembrance. Still in Poland, I began to practice Korean Zen and attended several three month retreats. Although everybody seemed to be lost in those places, both teachers and students, at least they offered the solid foundation of sitting meditation. It’s better than nothing. Or is it?
Among other teachings, I felt a particular appreciation for two schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Dzogchen and Mahamudra. These schools had developed very skilful ways of working with consciousness and gave me some deeper insights into the nature of the mind.
Feeling unsatisfied with my progress and still burdened with the depression I had carried since childhood, I decided to take more radical steps and continue my studies of Zen in Korea. With hardly any money and no return ticket, I took the Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to China. I then took a boat to Korea in order to attend a three month winter retreat in a monastery there. Although the Zen master was not able to help me in any way, the retreat was very good. It was a great place to practice: a silent paradise in the mountains. Still, while I had held great hopes for being in the East, I began to face the fact that whether I was in Poland or in Asia, I was stuck with myself. Moreover, seeing how lost the people around me were, wasting time trying to solve those endless koans, I more and more deeply realized the sad truth that no one out there had the answers. Solving the riddle of awakening was increasingly becoming my own responsibility.
After spending some time in Korea, I decided to move to Japan. Initially I wanted to study Soto Zen, but I ended up in a Rinzai monastery. It was a very strict place, samurai style, and life was hard. However, my practice was very good. I underwent months of intense practice and passed through various states of spiritual desperation – the dark night of the soul. Eventually I had several breakthroughs and openings to a deeper realization of consciousness and at the end of this period, in December 1993, my consciousness was fully stabilized. Although no one there had the ability to verify it, I left that monastery much freer than when I had entered it. Additionally, the stabilization of consciousness had healed and dissolved my depression. My mind was like a blue sky, clear and vast.
Although I do have deep respect for the Zen traditions, my experiences in Korea and Japan also highlighted to me the severity of its shortcomings. Originally, the teaching of Zen was about the transmission of consciousness ‘from mind to mind’, a sudden awakening transferred from master to disciple. But I did not see anyone who was properly awakened in those Zen monasteries. Much of their time was spent trying to solve koans. But what is the relationship between solving a koan and knowing oneself? Those who solve ten thousand koans can be as ignorant as those who don’t even know what the word koan means. The basic belief is that a koan can open the mind or assist one in going beyond the mind. However, in truth koans create a new prison for the mind, as those who try to solve them become even more mental. Using them skilfully and on rare occasions has its benefits, but making a system out of them is a clear indication of the deterioration of the true spirit of Zen.
Before leaving Japan, I wished to attend another three month retreat in the Soto school of Zen. There was a well-known place which had been recommended to me as one often visited by western practitioners. However, when I arrived there, the energy was so dead that I left the next day. There was something terribly inhuman and depressing about the whole thing. I had had enough of such environments and decided to move on.
By sitting zazen on the street in Japan, a common form of begging there, I collected a substantial amount of money, enabling me to continue my spiritual quest in the East. The next stop was India. For a spiritual seeker who grew up in communist Poland, being able to go to India was a big thing. I was very excited by the prospect of meeting some of the living Advaita masters and paying my respects to different sacred places of spiritual value.
However, as much as seeing India with all its cultural richness and dynamic energy was uplifting, meeting those various teachers was rather disappointing. First I met Poonjaji, who presented himself as a disciple of Ramana Maharishi. I was invited to dinner with him and attended one of his satsangs, which were a mixture of Indian devotion and western hysteria. While there, I wrote him an interesting question. According to his account, when he visited Ramana, he was told that he could stop repeating the name of Krishna (his mantra) because he had already ‘arrived’. My question to him was: How can one arrive and not know that one has arrived? Isn’t recognition inherent to self-realization? Or does recognition bring this realization to a higher level? Poonjaji did not seem to see the important nature of this question. Rather he appeared to feel personally challenged and reacted with anger. My question was sincere, and because his response was quite rude, I left.
As I continued my travels in the Indian heat, I met some more teachers here and there and visited the samadhi of Maharaj in Bombay, in order to pay my respects. I then met Ranjit Maharaj, Nisargadatta’s translator and his disciple, Ramesh Balsekar, who was expounding his intellectualized version of Advaita but with no real understanding of Nisargadatta’s teaching. For instance, when I asked Balsekar about the state prior to consciousness, he denied that such a state exists; he had mistaken consciousness absorbed in consciousness for the absolute.
Both Balsekar and Poonjaji presented themselves as the disciples of great masters, although in truth they had spent very little time with them, and the teachings they expounded carried little of the potency and true insight of their teachers. This is usually the way that the knowledge of enlightenment deteriorates: when it is passed from a master to his successor, the latter’s realization is often more diluted and shallow. It is not enough to spend a few weeks or even a few years at the feet of the master to begin representing his teaching. A true master has many secrets to be revealed from his inner being and heart over the course of a very long time to those who have surrendered to their evolution. Those who just seek the approval of their realization so that they can teach themselves are fundamentally insincere; they speak about devotion to their master, but are just using him. When Zen master Joshu reached his realization at the age of 60, he remained with his master, Nansen, for the next 20 years, to polish his understanding. This is the true spirit of the path and the correct relationship between the disciple and his spiritual guide.
Overall I did not receive any spiritual benefit from meeting these teachers. They seemed to all be repeating spiritual clichés; their understanding reflected a simplistic and primitive vision of human enlightenment. My searching questions that pointed towards the multidimensional nature of evolution, the role of me, and the interdependence between our inner self and the human dimension were left entirely unanswered. And these were the teachers who were supposed to be renowned, who were representing human knowledge on the subject of enlightenment. My conviction that no one had the answers was becoming increasing established.
Next, I went to the Osho ashram in Pune to have some fun with new age therapies and dance. Sitting in all those Zen places had made me rather tense and rigid; my body, mind and energy had to open up. At the time, Pune was a good place for this, and it certainly had a kind of magic. Osho himself was a controversial man. He was already gone when I arrived in Pune, but his energy was still strong. He was not what we could call an egoless teacher, but that does not take away from the fact that he helped many and inspired millions. He did not create a path to awakening but more a philosophy of life rooted in seeking emotional release, expressing the joy of life, and connecting to a degree of peace reached through rather basic meditation methods. It is actually surprising that a man of his intelligence was not able to create any true path to self-realization (his own was a kundalini path). Perhaps it was because he held the ambition to reach the masses. The path to enlightenment can never be commercialized; it must by nature be directed to a few, more highly evolved souls. This is the reason why Buddha initially did not want to teach – he knew that very few have the capacity to understand the nature of reality. This is also the reason why Ramana said that it is impossible to give darshan to thousands.
A year later in Pune, I met a very high soul, Houman. He had also come to India to explore spirituality and find some answers. Of course, in the same way as me, he had not found any. Our passion for truth and a certain deep exchange on the soul level brought us very close to each other. We felt ourselves to be soul-brothers. His exceptional heart and spiritual openness to higher intelligence made him an open door for higher understanding and grace to enter. While I came from the tradition of consciousness, he came more from the tradition of love, and we both needed this exchange to come closer to becoming complete and whole.
After having digested within myself the realization of consciousness and integrated it fully, I began to see that I was still incomplete and not spiritually free. I was hoping that the absolute state, that to which Maharaj had referred, was the answer. Because pure consciousness is still separated from the source, it is bound by certain inherent fluctuations of energy. Therefore, one who abides in consciousness abides beyond the mind, but he or she is not free from suffering. This was something I had already realized while living in Poland. At that time I had contemplated the paradox, a paradox that no teaching could resolve for me, that even though I had access to pure consciousness, I was deeply depressed at the same time.
In fact, awakening to consciousness did eventually heal my depression. However, it was only later, in Japan, after my consciousness had been fully stabilized and deeply embodied through light of pure me, that it had the necessary power to transform the subconscious energies of the past. Eventually I realized that it is not enough to be beyond the construct of the mind and the energetic dimension of the subconscious (meaning to abide in the witnessing state or any state of I am) to transform our human existence. The human psyche has to be embraced and illuminated by our higher consciousness, our soul, to reach the requisite purification. Additionally, in order to facilitate an even deeper transformation, consciousness has to be in the state of surrender to the source in order to reach its truly natural condition. The initial realization of consciousness, in fact, represents the consciousness of the waking state of this universe. Though one can be under the false illusion that it is perfect, it is not perfect and it is not absolute. Consciousness becomes perfect only by reaching the state of samadhi in the realm of absence.
So, it was based on this sense of imperfection that I had begun to contemplate how to reach the absolute state. This was not new to me as even before stabilizing my consciousness I had been contemplating how to experience the state prior to consciousness but did not have the proper tools with which to grasp its true meaning. In response to the intuitive guidance we had received through Houman, I went into retreat for one month in Kerala in order to penetrate the boundary of the absolute, the source. Frankly, I had no idea how to reach the absolute. In fact, I did not even know through which portal in the body the absolute is reached. I had to do many experiments through which I navigated various modes and directions of surrender. Initially, I was trying to reach the absolute through consciousness. This means that I was trying to put myself in the state of consciousness prior to I am (or prior to witnessing consciousness). It was only after many years that I realized that it was this realization that Maharaj was speaking of, not the absolute state. The absolute that he reached is what in our teaching is now described as horizontal samadhi in consciousness or the realization of horizontal absence. However, that which I was seeking was vertical absence, samadhi in the unmanifested.
It is a great paradox that while I was inspired by Maharaj to seek the absolute, the absolute I reached was actually an entirely different absolute! How is it possible? Can there be two absolutes? The human soul transcends through the one absolute which constitutes the foundation of the unmanifested for this universe. However, there are two portals to that absolute that determine the nature of this realization. The horizontal absolute is reached through consciousness. The vertical absolute is reached through the center of tan t’ien (hara) in the lower belly. Though the absolute can be accessed horizontally, as Maharaj did, the vertical realization is deeper because verticality is more deeply rooted in the source.
This is perhaps an opportunity to point out that not all self-realized masters are in the same state. Very few people are aware of this. This can be either because they have chosen different types of evolution or because they have stopped at an incomplete realization. Even the basic factor of whether one sits in meditation or not will have a profound effect on the flavor of one’s awakening. For instance, Ramana Maharishi was much more grounded in being than Maharaj simply because he spent most of his life sitting in absorption. Different traditions lead to the realization of different states even though sometimes these realizations overlap. The path of Zen leads to a different type of evolution than the path of Advaita, for example. The path of the heart leads to different transformation than the path of consciousness.
Those rare souls who seek to become whole cannot be confined to any tradition because evolution requires freedom, and all traditions are imprisoned in the past. Since the birth of the science of enlightenment in this plane, its main objective has been to transcend suffering. However, there is a higher truth than transcendence, which is to reach true self-realisation and become whole. To reach spiritual wholeness is the very reason why we are born into this plane, and it is high time that this new definition is given to what self-actualization really signifies. We must begin to view our human existence from a universal perspective and go beyond a suburban mentality that sees that path merely as a means to escape suffering.
After many attempts to reach the absolute through consciousness, something did not feel right, so I began to cultivate vertical surrender. In our teaching, the space linking consciousness with the absolute is called being (the energy state of rest located around and below the belly). After years of sitting meditation, my being was deep, but due to my very strong consciousness (and particularly concentrated awareness), there was an energetic blockage to surrender. Only after many, many attempts and assistance from the inner plane, did I experience the grace of shifting into the absolute state on the 15th of December, 1996. It was beyond anything I could imagine, like an inner sky opening under my feet, an infinite breath of freedom, an ecstasy of relief. I was so free and so grateful and so afraid that the state would close! I had finally entered the beyond, the first chamber in the inner temple of freedom.
After that initial shift, I still had to cultivate the state in order for it to become fully perfect, as there were still some fluctuations in the continuity of surrender and absence. In Zen they describe this type of cultivation as ‘to become like a withered tree’. This is because one has to die to the will of the vital force; one becomes as if dead, heavy like a stone with the weight of inertia because one has surrendered so much. After it is integrated with the unmanifested, the vital force is then relearning how to function from the place of absence and no-will. In Zen they say, ‘and the tree becomes green again.’
Through reaching the combination of pure consciousness and the absolute state, I had completed my Buddhist karma, my Buddhist blueprint of evolution, the desire for which had been carried in my subtle body for many lifetimes. What is an end for one person becomes a beginning for another. This was my new beginning; I was a beginner on the path again, entering the amazing adventure of diving deeper and deeper into the dimension of spiritual truth and the unfoldment of my higher self.
The following year, Houman and I decided to meet again in Seattle in order to continue our spiritual work. Because I felt relatively complete, based on having realized my Buddhist goals, I also started gently to teach. For me, teaching and deepening my own path were interconnected. I was still carrying Buddhist energy in my being and hence, at that time, my teaching also carried some of that energy. Any teaching that is conditioned by a tradition carries the energy of this tradition and therefore closes the doors to something more universal. So, there are limitations to Buddhist energy or to Advaita energy or to Sufi energy. They may open certain doors, but they keep others closed.
I was not really conscious of carrying Buddhist energy as it was so deeply ingrained in me. There was nothing inherently wrong with this, as I was able to help others in this context as well. Buddhist energy is quite useful, especially at the beginning of the path, as it brings focus, concentration and awareness. It was more a problem for my own self, as it was blocking my further expansion and locking me in a certain energetic dimension of existence that was no longer my home. Buddhist energy is easy to recognize. In simple terms, there is no soul in that energy; there is no divine, and there is no true surrender. When I say that there is no soul, I do not mean there is no concept of the soul, or that Buddhists do not believe in the existence of the soul. I mean it literally – there is no soul. That is why at times Buddhist energy is felt as exceedingly dry, overly austere or too mental. The correct energy of a teaching must be universal, meaning totally open and in harmony with the whole of existence – a pure reflection of the truth of the beloved.
I spent one year in Seattle with Houman. Over that time we continued our work, which touched upon many aspects of our internal evolution and involved deepening our understanding of the nature of teaching. The next step in my evolution was the awakening of my heart. Due to my Buddhist past, my spiritual heart was quite closed and there was an inherent resistance to fully open its gates. One of the aspects of my work with the heart was to accelerate a certain emotional healing without which the heart can never fully open. It was a deep work which took a considerable amount of time and grace to reach completion, which happened in December of 1997. Awakening of the heart melted my whole being, opening me to the dimension of the soul, and brought me one step closer to being whole.
The connection of love, intelligence and consciousness between me and Houman continued for some years to come before our paths diverged and our lives took a different course. Several years later, during my seclusion, Houman passed away in Hawaii.
The following year I returned to India and began to teach more extensively, while deepening my own evolution. This work was mainly related to the integration and merging of all three centres of the soul, and arriving at deeper states of transcendence. I was in the process of deepening, polishing and integrating different aspects of my higher self. Awakening of the three doorways of I am (consciousness, heart and the absolute) is the foundation for becoming whole. For the soul to be complete, all these centers need to merge into one. One of the most unknown and difficult aspects of this process is the surrender of consciousness into the absolute. When consciousness reaches the state of absence, the soul can fully enter the universal reality, reaching the complete samadhi. The awakening and transcendence of the soul is fully interconnected with the transformation, purification, surrender, and merging of our human identity with the light of I am. Only then the human can become fully unified with the soul, allowing us to reach the state of wholeness.
No matter how deeply I realized myself, my soul was always at the door of the mystery, the new entry point into the unknown. I was always the explorer of the inner world and my own self, the traveller unravelling the uncharted land of the spiritual reality, questioning, testing, and correcting all the maps made by man. As grateful as I was for the knowledge I had gained from different traditions and masters, I found that not only did all available teachings not help me to properly realize who I was, but they were the main obstacles to knowing myself. I had to challenge them because they represented the bondage of incomplete understanding blocking my path.
Among so many other misconceptions, none of the teachings or teachers really spoke about the essence of our true self, which is the light of me. No one held that which is the most fundamental to us and yet the most unknown and elusive – the knowledge of me. Any path that does not illuminate the consciousness of me cannot constitute a true vehicle to self-realization; without awakening of me, one can never become whole. No matter how deep one’s state is, without knowing and realizing that me, one remains ignorant and lost to the truth. Me, that which was within me from the very beginning, in my suffering and depression, throughout the lonely and perilous journey of self-discovery, bleeding through each step of this journey, cutting through confusion and despair – finally reached illumination and actualized its divine nature. It became free, as freedom itself.
While our teaching speaks about never-ending evolution, it is important to understand that each one has to arrive at the state of completion. This completion does not indicate the end of the spiritual journey but rather the end of suffering and imperfection. We can define human enlightenment in many different ways depending on what we wish to emphasize. However, the best way is to see self-realization as becoming whole and complete. Initially, we evolve from imperfection into perfection; after becoming whole, we evolve from perfection into higher perfection. To become whole and free, various aspects of our internal and external evolution need to fall into place. This includes the awakening of the three centers of the soul and their unification into one being, reaching the state of complete samadhi (unconditional and permanent absorption in the universal reality), awakening of me (in fact an integral element of soul-awakening), purification and alignment of the human identity with the soul, and then the surrender and merging of the human with the soul. To become whole is a combination of complete awakening, complete surrender, and complete integration of all aspects of our existence as the one self of our sacred individuality.
Perfection is our nature and destiny, but it is not easily reached. A man or woman of the path must devote their whole life to serve the noble purpose of actualizing the light of their higher self. At times it is hard, like walking through hell; at other times it is pure joy, a great adventure in the land of true magic and amazement. Those who look for a quick fix, to reach instant enlightenment, should forget about the spiritual path – it is not for them. The path is designed by universal intelligence for those souls that have the capacity and profound desire to become real on all levels. Every seeker on the path has to awaken the qualities of the soul and become the warrior of light. Those who are weak, which means those who succumb to their weakness, will fail and become lost in the wilderness of ignorance that will alienate them even further from their ultimate future. There is suffering on the path, and the role of this suffering is to test each seeker: their integrity, dedication, honesty and sincerity. The fire of suffering purifies the lower self and breaks down the structure of arrogance, the false autonomy of ego. Only then can the soul enter and take over our will, becoming the one who is in charge of our ultimate destiny.
My understanding of the nature of the spiritual path has been evolving constantly as a reflection of my personal evolution and teaching work. The teaching is constantly changing, going deeper and deeper into the subtle dimensions of self-realization. In 2008, after four years of seclusion, I returned to teaching. At this time, a new phase of teaching started, one which demands from students the ability to enter the realm of the soul. This is a teaching for souls, not for egos. Any ego will feel like a stranger here, unable to surrender to a deeper reality. Truly, only the soul can walk the path; only that which is real can walk the path to reality.
In the past I was working with egos too, helping them to evolve, but in this new phase this cannot be done anymore. The ego is not worthy of being helped because sooner or later it will give in to its lower nature, to its fundamental insincerity. By ‘ego’ I mean the sense of me that refuses to surrender itself into the soul, even if the doorway to I am is open. The ego is like a creature that will do anything to survive, and it wants to survive even within its evolution into the inner realm. Even though it is natural that one begins the path from the sense of self based on ego, the ego should not be in control of our evolution. From the very beginning it must enter the process of its own surrender. An ego which is more evolved already senses the love of the soul within its own existence. This is the true reason that it enters the path in the first place. What bridges the ego with the soul is the quality of sincerity and devotion to our essential self. It is these qualities that define a true seeker on the path. When, through the grace of evolution and opening to the dimension of I am, the ego comes to the threshold of the soul, it faces its final test. A choice has to be made between surrender or arrogance, heaven or hell.
As the teaching evolves, new elements of the inner reality are being revealed every year, in fact, in every retreat. In the past, prior to my seclusion, I taught under the name of Aziz. There is a huge difference between the present teaching and what it was then. Aziz is not me; it is my past. Not only is the teaching much more sophisticated, precise and complete now, but the energy is simply very different. It is the energy of pure me, the energy of surrender, the energy of profound intimacy with our innermost existence – indeed, the energy of the higher dimension of self-love.
This recollection of my evolution and the evolution of the teaching, which is a direct expression of who I am, was written in the first person singular, ‘I’. This was done for the benefit of the new reader because it can naturally resonate more directly with the first person of their own existence. When teaching, however, I always use the first person plural, ‘we’. Obviously, I also exist as a personal self, but the depth of who I am, which is the place from which I teach and exist, speaks from the dimension that transcends my singularity. This does not mean that I teach from the impersonal place of ‘no one’ or that there are ‘many of us’; nor should it be confused with channelling. I am me; I teach from the dimension of me. However, that me is much bigger than the personal ‘I’– it is universal. That me does not change when engaged in teaching. However, it does open up in a more total and complete way to the dimension of universal intelligence, the light of supreme understanding and consciousness.
That me that I am does not belong to me personally; it belongs to the creator. It is the mouthpiece of something that is beyond the personal and impersonal, individual or collective. ‘We’ who speak are one self, but we abide in the heart of all souls. We are the voice of pure subjectivity, the universal transparent intelligence that has no center and yet knows itself intimately as the light of me. This light lives to serve the unfoldment and never-ending revelation of truth, clarity, complete peace and bliss. We are love that opens the doorways for the true understanding that can liberate from the prison of forgetfulness all those who seek, in the river of time, the way home: to actualize that love, from the heart of the timeless, as their very own self.