The Sahaj Marg Spiritual Foundation in Dubai offers followers a ‘natural path' to happiness

The past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift - that is why it is called a present. So believe the followers of Sahaj Marg Spiritual Foundation (SMSF).

Sahaj Marg or the ‘Natural path,' is a road that leads to a utopia where harmony, happiness and universal brotherhood are possible, say proponents of Sahaj Marg.

In a world torn apart by political, religious and racial strife, their vision is attractive. SMSF is now registered in the UAE.

Tabloid talked to Mohandas Hegde, a teacher of economics, S. Subramanian, a finance professional, and Sanjay Meherish, a businessman, all dedicated members of the organisation. This is what they had to say:

Tabloid: What does Sahaj Marg mean?
Meherish: This is a Sanskrit word that means Natural Path. The system believes in making the process of living simple, and in tune with our internal nature. It is a system of practical training in spirituality.

The organisation has remodelled the age-old practice of Raja yoga (yoga of the mind) to suit individuals in the present-day scenario and help them to achieve inner peace, and perfection. There are no firm dos and don'ts, only broad guidelines.

Tabloid: How old is the system?
Meherish: Although the original system goes back for centuries, the present system was formalised in 1945.

We have recently been registered by the economic department of Dubai but followers in the UAE have been practising the method in their own individual way since 1992. At present, we have around 300 Abhyasis (students) and 15 prefects in the UAE.

Tabloid: What do the prefects do?
Hegde: Prefects are trained to impart the basics of meditation to all new comers and guide them in the correct practice as recommended by the founders.

The prefects work in a voluntary capacity besides holding their respective professions and are available to every member at short notice. SMSF believes that one needs to have a teacher to guide one through the initial phase of spiritual awakening.

Anyone can become a prefect voluntarily and get trained to guide novices to attain their goals. Ability and inclination, rather than specific length of experience, are valued assets.

We have prefects of both sexes, various nationalities and speaking many languages including Arabic, Persian, French, Czech and German, besides English, as well as many Indian languages.

Tabloid: What steps does Sahaj Marg advocate in achieving spirituality?
Subramanian: The method is based on the belief that there is a central energy that can be transmitted into receptive hearts. The trained prefects act as conduits for this transmission.

Unlike other systems, this is a meditation on the heart. Just as blood is purified, energised and sent to every single cell in the body from the heart, this meditation helps cleanse and energise the whole being.

Practically, each Abhyasi is expected to follow two steps: morning meditation and evening cleansing. Cleansing allows the individual to get rid of negative impressions and experiences that accumulate throughout the day, tire the mind and are the major reason for an individual's current behaviour and thinking.

Meditation is a passive process where you try and hold on to one thought at a time but cleansing is an active state and equally important to enable a perfect meditation. Daily meditation, cleaning and prayer are the three simple steps to self-growth or spirituality.

Tabloid: Who can join the organisation?
Meherish: Anybody above the age of 18 who is keen on self-development and growth is welcome to join the organisation. Willingness is the only qualification. We have people from all walks of life - from labourers to businessmen to top executives.

The concept may be esoteric but the results are tangible. Abhyasis of Sahaj Marg achieve a peace of mind, self growth and serenity that seems out of reach to most others.

Tabloid: How does one begin practising Sahaj Marg?
Subramanian: The first step is to take three meditation sessions lasting half hour each as instructed by a trained prefect. Following these, the aspirant can begin practising meditation every day in the comforts of his/her home.

There are no strict requirements on posture, seating or place of meditation. All that is required is a place free of too many disturbances. Sahaj Marg believes in life-long guidance.

Tabloid: But isn't meditation, by its definition, a very personal thing? What are the benefits of a structured, group-based activity?
Subramanian: The system combines both personal and group meditation in a very well thought out sequence.

Daily meditation is done as an individual activity in the comforts of one's home and the group meditation is done only once a week.

Group meditation enhances the quality of meditation by providing an environment that is very conducive for any one to slip into deep meditation with minimum effort.

Tabloid: What has been the response from UAE's residents?
Meherish: Overwhelming. We were delighted to get the support of the Dubai Department of Economic Development in the form of a formal operating licence which was followed by an invitation to make a presentation on meditation to their staff.

Being a universally accepted form of self-growth, we expect the response to continue to be positive and are gearing ourselves to meet the increased interest in the most effective manner.

Tabloid: What are the plans of the organisation?
Hegde: SMSF plans to make this system available free of charge at institutions like prisons, hospitals, labour camps and any other place where the people cannot afford expensive methods of self-improvement.

This system also places a lot of emphasis on moulding the younger generation into balanced and well-rounded individuals.