A personal journey – part 1
Spirit Matters Podcast is a very popular site showcasing an eclectic mix of talks about contemporary spirituality. The hosts are DENNIS RAIMONDI and PHILIP GOLDBERG. On July 1, 2018, together they interviewed DAAJI about his life, spirituality and his new book, The Heartfulness Way. Here we highlight excerpts from the interview.
DR: This is Dennis Raimondi with my co-host, Philip Goldberg, author of The Life and Times of Yogananda, and our guest today from India is Kamlesh D. Patel, known to many as Daaji. He teaches Heartfulness Meditation from his personal experience as a devoted student of spirituality. He’s gone from his work as a pharmacist to a spiritual seeker and teacher, and we are very excited to speak with him today.
So Daaji, thank you so very much for taking the time to come on, and I want to mention your latest book, The Heartfulness Way.
PG: Welcome Daaji, you came to our attention through mutual friends, and you have an interesting life. Why don’t you fill in our listeners before we get into your new book and Heartfulness Meditation? Tell us how you came to become a teacher of meditation. You were born in India, you lived in America, and you’re a pharmacist by trade. Give us a little bit about that history.
DAAJI: Well, I was born in India, as you said. I was educated here and then I studied and got my license to practice in two states, in New York State as well as in California. I started a pharmacy career in Brooklyn, and over a period of time, over 30 years, I must have started almost 20 drugstores. And my way, my spiritual path began a long time back. We don’t know when we begin but officially, to my senses, it began when I started under the guidance of a person known as Babuji in 1976. That was the beginning of my spiritual journey, which I continued after coming to the US in 1981 also. I would give equal importance to both – to my spiritual practice as well as to the business world. Everything was intermingled, and that’s how it should be. Nature has created us with a purpose and not to run away from things. So I took both things as a challenge – business as well as the spiritual world – and tried to do my best in both fields.
So this is who I am: I am always a spiritual seeker. On the way, I am fully committed to those who would like to travel with us, experience what we do. And this Heartfulness Way practice that is offered to every spiritual seeker: if you are willing to meditate, this is the way. And here the most magnificent thing that happens with this way is Pranahuti or Transmission, which is a unique feature of this.
I am always a spiritual seeker.
On the way, I am fully committed to
those who would like to travel with us,
experience what we do.
I have heard about Phil from a friend and from another gentleman who forwarded me some of your videos. So now it rings a bell while I’m listening to you, Phil, your association directly and indirectly with Yogananda. It makes me very happy that you are exposed to meditation.
DR: Daaji, I am curious. You were obviously a good student and a good businessman. You studied to be a pharmacist – that’s science – and you went into business and you were very successful. Were you surprised, was your family surprised when you decided to go from your business into spiritual teaching? And was there some event that triggered that in your life?
DAAJI: Not really. My family was not surprised because business was going on as well. And while I was doing business I was also training, though right now I am training individuals from a different level. You know, if you were a patient coming to me for medication, we would chitchat, and I would encourage everyone to meditate. I would have a sign outside my pharmacy, ‘Learn to Meditate’, and I would teach those people who were very curious how to meditate, even before I was in this current position. Often I would close the pharmacy and those who would like to meditate would sit around in the pharmacy area, and we would meditate together. That was the way. So no one was surprised when this bigger responsibility came, because we don’t dissociate from usual family life; family life goes together with spiritual life.
PG: When I grew up in Brooklyn, we didn’t have pharmacies with meditation signs on the outside! But Daaji, most of our listeners are familiar with meditation and will have in many cases been meditating in one form or another for a long time. So they’ll be curious to know what is different about the lineage that you represent and the method that you call Heartfulness. Can you explain a little more?
DAAJI: Surely. What signifies this method is Pranahuti. It’s a Sanskrit word loosely translated as ‘Yogic Transmission’, which flows from one heart to another heart, with intention, with sankalpa, with determination, with supposition. When you close your eyes to meditate, you may be meditating without Yogic Transmission. But when I transmit to you this Yogic Transmission, you are able to feel the difference in your meditation instantly. Within half an hour you know the difference that, “Yes, meditation with Transmission can make a big difference.”
When you close your eyes to meditate,
you may be meditating without Yogic Transmission.
But when I transmit to you this Yogic Transmission,
you are able to feel the difference in your meditation instantly.
Within half an hour you know the difference that,
“Yes, meditation with Transmission
can make a big difference.”
This Transmission was reinvented – it’s not that the first Guide of the system invented it. He was born in 1873 in the northern part of India, whereas this technique was known almost 10,000 years back.
But somehow in his superconscious state he became cognizant of it, and he said, “Oh, this is very simple and I can do this!” So he started teaching the people in his neighborhood and then slowly the news spread that, “Yes, this man has very striking yogic powers, and instantly he is able to put people into a Samadhi state because of this Pranahuti.” So slowly he became very famous in his district.
Then the person who came after him, who was also known as Ram Chandra (both carried the same name), spread it worldwide in all continents. And after him came another gentleman who was the successor. The tradition continues, and nothing much has changed from the beginning. Meditation, which is offered with Transmission continues the same way. Of course ways change now, in the sense of how it is offered. Earlier it used to be a one-to-one session, if you had to be initiated. Now we don’t have time to initiate one person at a time, because if I go to a college and there are thousands of people waiting to be introduced to meditation, I don’t have time to spend half-an-hour with each individually. So we do it all at the same time. Also now the world has become smaller, so if someone is interested in New York and there is no trainer who can transmit to them locally, they say, “Oh, let me use this little App or let me connect via email or via internet to make a connection with a Heartfulness trainer, and take a remote initiation,” which can be felt also.
DR: And in the course of a month, how many people do you generally teach?
DAAJI: Well now we have over million seekers throughout. Personally, every week I train roughly 5,000 people.
PG: And you have hi-tech methods of Transmission now?
DAAJI: You know we have this app called We Meditate. So people say, “I would like to receive Transmission using the App.” In my case, most of the time a lot of people come here to this ashram. Not much of lecturing is done; it is mainly the spiritual experience that we all enjoy together. I transmit, and they all sit with closed eyes and we meditate together and see the difference, feel the difference, and become something in the process.
PG: You have an ashram in Hyderabad. Maybe you should mention the name for people who are listening in India.
DAAJI: Well, it’s called Kanha Shanti Vanam. Actually we have so many, over a 1000 Heartfulness Centers we call ‘HeartSpots’. You can log in to www.heartfulness.org and request, “I’m in New York. Is there a nearby HeartSpot Center where there is a trainer available or where I can go to meditate?” I think we have over 2,000 such HeartSpots worldwide.
It is mainly the spiritual experience
that we all enjoy together. I transmit,
and they all sit with closed eyes and
we meditate together and see the
difference, feel the difference, and
become something in the process.
PG: Let me ask you another question: the term ‘Heartfulness Meditation’ and your book The Heartfulness Way, was that choice of name a deliberate counter to the popularity of the word ‘Mindfulness’, or does it actually predate all of that?
DAAJI Well, it predates it long, long back, actually. Mindfulness, if I’m not mistaken, started becoming known to the world sometime in 1995 or ’96. This has been going on from 1873, and 1945 was the year when this system was officially organized, legally formed as a society in India.
PG And was it called Heartfulness then?
DAAJI No. It was established as an organization called Shri Ram Chandra Mission, but we have always used the heart as a way of meditation. Officially the name Heartfulness was coined sometime in 2003, and we made the decision to move on with the word because it’s a very nice word. It expresses everything that we do: do it with the heart. And there is no idea that we should compete with Mindfulness. In fact, integration is better. Friction is not good, that is ego-driven.
PG: Very good.
To be continued …
You can listen to the full interview on the Spirit Matters website at https://soundcloud.com/spirit-matters-talk/daajiinterview.
Interviewed by DENNIS RAIMONDI and PHILIP GOLDBERG
July 30, 2019
June 30, 2019
May 31, 2019