Dr Rajan Sankaran heads the International Academy of Advanced Homeopathy in Mumbai, and is the international bestselling author of more than 20 books. His first non-homeopathy book, ‘Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree’, is now out on Amazon UK. Here, Dr Sankaran tells the London Economic why mindfulness has become so important in today’s frantic, technology-driven society.
In your books, you describe the practice of ‘silent witnessing’ to find peace of mind. What is that?
Most people from all walks of life, cultures and religions seek peace of mind. But, paradoxically, the peace we seek cannot be found in the mind. The mind by its very nature is restless and is driven by our emotions and patterns of reaction. Peace is only to be found when we are able to step back and become a silent witness to our own mind and to our surroundings, rather than be constantly be swayed by them. The process of silent witnessing, of being non-judgmental and accepting what’s around us, is a step towards finding peace of mind.
You mention ‘spiritually-enlightening experiences’. What are they, and where can we find them?
We must learn to understand that the things we all seek come from within, not from external sources. Almost everything we see on the outside is alluring – from beautiful cars and incredible houses, to individuals. But the feeling of actually obtaining those material things is ultimately unsatisfying; a few moments of pleasure is typically followed by long periods of stress and suffering.
It is only at this point that people start to look within for the answers and for happiness. This change of direction will automatically open us to spiritually important experiences and peace.
In your new book ‘Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree’, you suggest that anything can be a teacher on our life journey. But what can an animal or a tree really tell us?
Any animal can teach us the art of just being. Animals are one with nature and with creation; they accept it and live happy lives.
A fruit-bearing tree, on the other hand, can teach you to understand that what you do for others is not something that you need to boast about. Instead, you should do it with the idea that this is your role and that you are a part of creation.
What is the most profound thing you’ve learned on your own life journey, and from whom or what did you learn it?
I once had a vision of a sage, whom I considered to be my master. In this vision, he non-verbally gave me the experience of being one with the whole universe. This experience opened my awareness to a new dimension about which I had only read so far. This was the most profound experience in my life. When I learned the next day that the sage had departed from his body – that he had died – the previous afternoon, this made this experience even more special.
Mindfulness and meditation have become popular in the west in recent years. Why do you think this is and how can these practices benefit the average Joe?
Material and technological progress does not equate to human happiness. Often it works the other way around. The way to achieve things and the methods by which we accumulate wealth in fact create a lot of stress, unhappiness and the breakdown of relationships. The simple joy of a child who lives in the present and completely enjoys what is in the moment, is what we all seek deep within. This is only possible if we change our orientation from material success to spiritual progress. Mindfulness and meditation are the first steps toward this progress.
You talk passionately about music in your book. How does music play a part in personal and spiritual self-development?
I am a scholar of Indian classical music, which is comprised of melodies called Ragas. When you begin to study music, you must also learn to sing these melodies, which are in some cases quite complicated.
There comes a time in musical study that these Ragas become ingrained. You become attuned to them, and in tune with them. You can apply this process of study and self-awareness to your own life and to the universe around you. All we have to do is learn to tune into and connect with life’s many melodies. This enables you to switch off and feel at one with the world and everything that’s in it. You experience liberation and enlightenment.
You are one of the world’s most respected homeopaths. What do you find most rewarding about this c
As a homeopath, I delve into the deepest recesses of a patient’s mind and experience. I note their fears, their dreams and their way of perceiving and reacting to reality. Each individual’s experience and perception are completely unique; it is a rewarding and meditative experience to join the patient on their journey.
I teach my patients that there is no such thing as an objective reality, and that the way we perceive ourselves and each other is limited and narrow. Looking at life’s challenges from a distance is key to helping ourselves and each other.
You have described yourself as a “lazy and stupid” person, which seems very much at odds with your professional achievements. What do you mean when you describe yourself in this way?
A lazy person is one who is happy to just be, and not have the compulsion to do things or change things all the time. We are called ‘human beings’, not ‘human doings’, after all.
We need to learn to just be and to only act at an appropriate time. Our need to do – all the time – comes from certain compulsions which can be quite unhealthy.
A stupid person is somebody who does not have his own opinion about things, who is able to ‘not know’ and be willing to learn rather than relying upon his own prejudice about things. It is only such a person to whom real knowledge can come. As Socrates himself said, ‘the one thing I know is that I know nothing’. True wisdom comes from not knowing – and from knowing that you don’t know. It is our mind and ego that believes that it should know everything, and that it should do many things. A person who can step back from his mind and ego can be called lazy and stupid, and those descriptions are both correct and complementary.
You say that people evolve in stages. Can you explain this?
Before one can start a spiritual journey, one must mature at other levels first. Maturity has to be sought in relationships, friendships, attitudes towards money, and work, amongst other things. This is a process of evolution, and each stage can take longer for some than for others.
It is important that we also recognise the patterns of perception and reaction, which become embedded within our psyche. These patterns limit what we do and cause us stress. It is only once we have gained maturity in all aspects of our lives that our minds will have the space for spiritual development and enlightenment.