Forty years ago today I found myself walking up a forest path from my home in Wellington, New Zealand, headed for the Ananda Marga meditation center. I was about to take initiation on the path of tantric meditation. Not the weird erotic cult kind, (sorry if that disappoints you) but the genuine ancient path of tantric mysticism or tantra yoga.
I’d been practicing other forms of meditation for several months and had already experienced some remarkable insights and revelations. But when I learned this new technique I immediately understood that this was the real thing. It felt like I’d found the Ferrari model of meditation.
This practice transformed my life. The Path of Bliss (lit. Ananda Marga) that I stepped onto that day has led me on an amazing life journey. I adopted the lifestyle of a yogi. Since then I’ve abstained from intoxicants and meat, spent several hours a day practicing meditation, chanting and yoga, and devoted my life to service and the propagation of spiritual teachings and practices. This has brought me a level of happiness and satisfaction I cannot put into words. I really can’t imagine a better and more useful way to spend a lifetime. And I have a pretty vivid imagination.
It certainly hasn’t been a boring journey. Along the way I’ve fulfilled many of my more worldly childhood dreams. I’ve learned skiing and scuba diving. I’ve had a taste of fame as a musician, recording several albums with world class artists and performing on stage for thousands of people. I’ve published a popular book on meditation and now a comic fantasy novel. I’ve met and interviewed prominent writers and musicians and thought leaders and my speaking and performing has taken me to more than forty countries.
Which was enough to inspire my inimitable mother to pronounce one day, “you’re not a proper monk, you’re a kind of yuppy monk!” Sometimes it’s weird, the way life plays out.
Yet today, reflecting and feeling so grateful for my four decades as a yogi, the magic moments that stand out don’t have much to do with all that stuff. The moments I cherish are those I’ve spent with people I love, or teaching my students, or in deep meditation, or enjoying the bliss of chanting. Or crafting something beautiful, a song, or a story, to remind myself, and anyone who’s listening, that in the end, life is a love story between each of us, and the divine.