In 1977 I dropped out and became a disciple/devotee of a famous guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later renamed Osho. My life in Osho’s community was intense, vibrant and filled with psychological challenges. It was the perfect spiritual playground to process negative emotions and build a more positive sense of individual identity. Next I became a disciple of Sri H.L. Poonja also known as Papaji, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi who lived in a dirty and noisy city near Delhi, India, called Lucknow. Although Papaji did not have a proper teaching methodology, at least he had good pointers that directed me towards the truth, the pure Consciousness we all are. His message was simple; turn the mind away from objects of experience and keep it on its source, the Self. He was also a Shaktipat Guru and to be in his presence was a great opportunity for experiences of the Self and other epiphanies. But the greatest gift I received from him was an introduction to two important spiritual sages, Ramana Maharashi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. Nisargadatta’s powerful words became my main source of inspiration. After some time with Neo-Advaita teachers in the spring of 2011 I was giving up hope for Moksha until my long term meditation on the thought-feeling “I Am” inspired by my dear guru Nisargadatta began bearing fruits in the form of the effortless experience of peace, love and bliss. My mind was becoming sattvic. At the same time the teaching of Nisargadatta’s teacher, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj made me understand in a moment of clarity that no state of consciousness, no experiential bliss, love or ecstasy would resolve my quest for permanent happiness because all states produced by my meditation always ended, leaving me again and again thirsty for more. I told my wife, “I will never meditate again!
The seeking continued for a few more months, but a deep dispassion toward experiential bliss developed. A few more months passed and I eventually realized that my problem was not about getting the right experience of enlightenment but that I was ignorant of my true nature as Awareness. What I once thought of as meditation became an “intuitive” contemplation into the nature of Consciousness. It was more like a prayer, a burning desire to directly know my true identity as the Self. In my prayers I used to evoke God to take my physical body in exchange for Him to reveal my true nature. Before long the seeking stopped as I realized and assimilated the knowledge “what I am, is Pure Consciousness.
But that was only the beginning and it did not translate into real day-to-day freedom. The knowledge of my true nature as Awareness was clear but I did not have the full understanding of the implications of this knowledge. I needed a complete body of knowledge that not only revealed the non-dual nature of reality as the Self/Awareness but one that would set me free of the need of discrete objects of experience in order to feel permanently complete. That was when Isvara sent me a book written by James Swartz called “How to Attain Enlightenment”. The words of Vedanta penetrated my soul like an arrow. The missing link was found. I took Vedanta into my heart and stopped offering Satsangs to my friends. Slowly but surely the teachings of Vedanta produced in me the firm conviction that as Awareness; “I am already full, whole, and complete”, and with that hard and fast knowledge, dispassion towards my desires and fears developed. After all, real Moksha is freedom from craving, needing, or dependence on any particular type of experience, which is only possible with the full apprehension of the nature of Consciousness, so brilliantly revealed by the teachings of Vedanta.
Nowadays, I reside in a small town in mountains surrounding Sao Paulo, Brazil. I live a quiet life as a retiree householder and share my Self-knowledge with a small group of friends in Sao Francisco Xavier and around Sao Paulo. My passion for Vedanta compels me to continue my studies under the guidance of my dear teacher, the one who brought Real Freedom into my life thru the ancient teachings of the Upanishads…James Swartz…affectionately known as Ramji.