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Spiritual Path

Pieter Schoonheim Samara

The Spiritual Path Of Rijk Pieter Schoonheim Samara is about the expeiences he had before becoming enlightened or self-realized in his 20s. He is a Kundalini Yoga teacher in Thailand and in his 50s. He has written extensively about his experiences and how the daily practice of Sadhana can help bring Self Realiztion and these types of spiritual experiences to anyone.

On my 21st birthday, Feb 11, 1971, I was in Paris waiting for my fiancé, who was attending the Sorbonne, to go up to Dunkerque to the home of her parents for our engagement party. For around 5 or 6 months I had been living in a small farming village with a population of 17, located between Paris and Lille, not far from the city of St. Quentin, when I had an extraordinary experience that has stayed with me ever since, becoming steadily deeper and more pervasive, abiding as the substratum or Ground of Being.

During this entire period, I was practicing various sets and kriyas I had been given by Yogi Bhajan in LA, back in April 1970. My fiancé would leave for Paris every day around 6:30 or 7 am, at which time I would begin my daily practice of these sets and kriyas for about 3 hours, then meditating until she would return, anytime between 7 an 10 in the evening. When she returned, we would eat mostly fruit and vegetable salads that she grew in the garden behind the 2 story farm house we rented for 600 francs a month.

And while she would study and prepare for her classes, I would read the several spiritual texts that I had with me, such as Radiant Road to Reality by Bhagat Singh Thind, who passed around the same time as Yogi Bhajan arrived in LA on, after 30 years of teaching Surat Shabad Yoga, including many powerful kriyas similar to what Yogi Bhajan began to teach. My whole arrival in LA was in retrospect itself preceded by auspicious events.

Previously, in the summer of 1969, friends of mine, twin brothers, also attending the summer classes at the University of New Hampshire, of classes I had arranged with the Physics and Philosophy professors around the central idea of the "I am that I am" view of the world versus "I think therefore I am" concept.

Today this notion dominants in Christian philosophy and science after Descartes came up with the concept that defined man and the universe as a product of thoughts and impressions and sensations, as the basis of Being and Consciousness, thus obviating from the thinking of the Western world the fundamental Christian belief that centered around the Teaching of "I am that I am."

This teaching had dominated my mind from the time my mother, who converted to Catholicism during WWII in Wassenaar, just outside of the Hague in the Netherlands, had me baptized a Catholic when I was 7 years in order to attend the newly opened St David School for Boys on 89th Street in NYC, just down the street from St David's Church. (My father was an Episcopalian, his mother a devoted Christian from Birmingham Alabama.)

Not long after the Baptism came the first Holy Communion, after which my mother took me to see the opening at Radio City Music Hall of the "Ten Commandments" staring Charlton Hesston as Moses (and the voice of God). The Name of God as "I AM" and "I am that I am" and the whole discourse of Moses about the nature of God as Spirit made such an impact on me that I would fall asleep dreaming of what the experience of Universal Being and Consciousness could be.

As years passed, I began to read about the lives and teachings of all the Christian Saints, always in reference back to the Teachings of Christ trying to somehow grasp the experience of Union with Someone Who described Himself as being the source of the Light (awareness) we all see by and the Being of our being.

That the Church and Christ were teaching a dualistic concept of God and Man never dawned on me, and I used to go to Church often just to be in a place where I could somehow "hear" the message, to hear something that is beyond thought. Probably as a result of this intensity to "hear," and partly because I ran track, I began to have out of body experiences.

Around the time I was 14, the Church decided to abandon the Latin masses and mantras that had been invested in for nearly 2,000 years, which had given people an instant access to the Spirit (what in the West was called the "sound of the Celestial Spheres; and the East is called the shabad or Naad).

Abruptly, I stopped going to Churches and spent more time reading about the experiences of Saints.
Then one summer, when I was 16, my grandfather, who had been teaching me a number of powerful yoga movements combined with powerful breathing, started me in Karate and Judo classes in the Hague, where I went each summer school holiday. As the core of these martial arts is derived from the teachings of Zen, my reading about the experiences of Saints began to expand to the Saints of other Religions.

So that by the time I started at Clarkson College of Technology, much of what I was reading was about Buddhism and Zen, but always without the distinction that these were different teachings than the teachings of Christ and the experience of the Christian Saints, which had never dawned on me, since my focus was to try to understand the "I am that I am" experience they all described, from one perspective or another - sort of like the story about the 7 blind men each holding a different part of an elephant and trying to describe what it is.

In the same way, I was trying to somehow "hear" what these Teachings of the various Religions and Saints were saying from their respective positions in time and on the planet, to somehow, let's say, triangulate into what That experience was, so that I could also experience what they all said was within, "at hand" "here and now" and so on.

So these 2 friends, the twin brothers, hearing me talking about this and about the focus of the Independent Studies I had arranged, prevailed on me one evening to drive up to Franklin, NH, to meet with an American Yogi, who had spent several years in India, who many said had become a Saint.

So just after twilight I arrived at the home of the parents of Baba Ram Dass (who had formerly been known as Richard Alpert). I went to the front door and was asked to go around to the porch where Baba Ram Dass came filled with and surrounded by a glowing warmth and light that permeated everything, luminescent eyes.

I immediately began with these intensely driven questions asking about the experience of this "I am that I am" when in the midst of this he suddenly prevailed on me, "Everything is all alright." and suddenly it was as though an immense weight lifted, vanished, and I was in this pure spiritual space, an experience that lasted for days. Later I would come to his place and stay every weekend, sleep in the barn and read the many books in the small library just off the barn, such as Vivekananda's "Raja Yoga," the "Autobiography of a Yogi," "Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa," and eventually others.

In the afternoons, Ram Dass would sit under a tree with wide branches covering an area that some 30 to 50 people could easily sit and listen to his stories of India, his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, and the words and lives of many Saints. Again, he never made a distinction between the experience the different Religions taught about, and it was apparent that they all described the same experience.

Many of the mornings, one of Ram Dass' students, John, who was one of the many people that had set up tents and teepees around the 88 wooded acres of Ram Dass' father's estate, came to the barn and taught a number of hatha yoga postures and pranayamas that Ram Dass described in his talks as what he had practiced 4 times a day in seclusion in the retreat near the home of his Guru in Northern India.

In one of these sessions, we were all laying in corpse pose, and Ram Dass, entering from the house into the barn, came squatting next to me telling me to relax and put his thumb, index and middle finger on the point between the eyebrows, which began to fill with a light that pervaded by body. From this point on a light projected out of my third eye which lasted maybe 7 or 8 months.

In the semester that followed, I squeezed all my University classes into 2 days, and my 2 twin friends drove me to a Carmelite Monastery in Peterborough, NH along route 101, where they introduced me to the Abbot. I explained to the Abbot that I just wanted a small room to practice what Ram Dass and John had taught, which involved several pranayamas to be practiced at 6 am, 12 noon, 6 pm and 11 at night for an hour and a half each sitting, and two 45 minute sessions of 8 postures at 10 am and 4 pm, during which period I would fast.

The Abbot agreed and set up a room in the house of the brothers and priests nor far from his own, and I began to hitch-hike from Durham NH, UNH to the Monastery every weekend after classes down Route 101 West, then back every Wednesday evening for Thursday and Friday classes. While at the Monastery, between sessions, I would read Nikhilananda's Upanishads, the Bible, "Tibetan Yoga and the Secret Doctrines," in particular the section on Precepts, and more on the life and practice of Milarepa.

I began to become weightless. In a couple of months I went from 185 muscle bound to 165, and able to perform and flow into any conceivable yoga posture, and I remained at that weight for the next 4 months, even though I would eat only once a week.

Then more and more, when I would go to sleep at night, the body would go into sleep, and I would remain in a state of still awareness watching with my mind's eye the 3 dimensional seeing of the inside and around the body, where there was no separation of seeing from what was seen, where inside, outside and all around each and every organ was experienced, at first sort of in a darkness, then brighter and brighter until the body was full of light.

The light then withdrawing into the sun and moon channels, adjacent to the spinal column and up over the top of the head down to the point between the eyebrows, and from there to the base of the spine and up the central canal, at first seeing stars then traveling over the clouds and towns, then the moon radiating into itself, then as this sense of Christ Consciousness, which had happened also on other times when awake over the years, came up to the throat, there was a sudden expansion upwards like flowing upwards into an ever widening vortex, and the sensation of merging into the infinite with the sound "whaaaa..." - at which point I would either experience a decent into the heart and fall into deep sleep or wake up, astounded.

In the day times and evenings, especially if I was out for a walk or at other times describing the experience to those I met, I would entirely loose the sense of a body inside and out, and become a space of pure oneness, love and compassion, in utter stillness, to an area some distance from the body, an area, I found, that when anyone would happen to be within that sphere, they would have the same experience, and if they came into that space with a sense of struggle, suffering or sickness, they were immediately healed.

The semester finished just after Christmas, but various family events had taken place, where I was told that my grandfather was retiring and would no longer have a place for me in the family business. It was suggested that I look into another career. The only other area in my life was the pursuit of this experience, the experience of the Christ Consciousness, the "I am that I am."

By this time, Ram Dass was traveling around the US, with John leading the way from town to town, city to city, setting up the events, where Ram Das would come into a Church and 5,000 people would show up. I met John one evening with Ram Dass. Ram Dass often talked about his discussions with John, wherein John felt that the Teachings of Ramana Maharshi were the highest Truth. When I met him that evening, an aura like a halo surrounded his whole body, and light passed from his eyes filling my body, likewise when I shook his hand. It was like meeting Menjoir and Zanoni from the book by the same name of Bulwer-Lytton 1845.

After a few months of traveling around, I went to a Trappist Monastery, in Big Sur California, where they had a retreat of cabins, one beside the other, that overlooked a spectacular view of mountains, forests and sun sets, where I tried to renew my practice as previously at the Carmelite Monastery, only there was an invasion of ants that finally drove me out, after only a week.

I decided to travel out to the Lama Foundation not far from Taos NM. This was in the very beginning of April 1970. On my way, I was picked up by someone in a pickup, who, after asking me where I was going, and hearing about my experiences, suggested that I needed to meet with someone that could really provide some spiritual instruction.

So, I stayed overnight at his place, and the next morning he drove me to an ashram in Espanola NM. The teacher there suggested that the best person to meet was Tom Law. However, it turned out he was up north, maybe Montana, for the first Earth Day that he was part of setting up. Lisa Law, his wife lived some distance away from Espanola up in the mountains, where they had an organic farm. So, the next day at 7 am, the head of the ashram dropped me off on the outskirts of town on the road away from Espanola.

Spiritual Path of Pieter Samara pg2


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