Stumbling into Infinity

Stumbling into Infinity. An ordinary man in the sphere of enlightenment. This is a spiritual auto-biography of Michael Fischman. This article is not a book review,as one can find many review comments, that confirmed this book is excellent, and must read. As per :

Michael Fischman’s fascinating and personal memoir takes us into the compassionate and mysterious world of an enlightened seer. It is a compelling narrative that blends remarkable experiences with an inner struggle and search for meaning.

He visited Bangalore, to promote the book. I am fortunate enough to attend one such book promo event, at Phoenix Market City, Whitefield on 19th Feb 2013. So, specially for the readers of this blog 'Express YourSelf !' I have captured the essence of our interaction with Michael Fischman. Enjoy MAADI !!

The event started with formalities. Shushil Kumar Ahuja of Phoenix mall offered a flower bouquet to Michael and Shyamalaji, and expressed his readiness to offer the venue for more such events. Shyamalaji introduced the author and Art of Living. She is with Art of Living for more than a decade now. Michael is her teacher, mentor and very dear friend. She was happy and was got honored by sharing the same stage with her teacher. On behalf of Whitefield Art of Living volunteers and teachers, Venki (a senior Art of Living teacher) presented memento to Michael. Venki is one of the few early Indians who read his book 'Stubmling into Infinity', from US. 

Many of us already know Michael or 'My-Key'. Quite few of us have read the book. Almost all of us had experienced Sudarshan Kriya by attending Art of Living basic course. 
So Michael freely used those knowledge points, while talking with us. He started with informal "Hi". 

He did course in 1988, when there was only one Art of Living teacher, Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar himself. He repeated the course, he attended silence retreat, then 3 days Teachers Training course. When Guruji conducted course, Michael recorded everything, to memorize later. Once he got invitation from Mangalore Management Association (MMA), to deliver two hours talk. He asked for Guruji's guidance to choose a talk, that he can memorize and deliver at MMA. Guruji lovingly guided him, "just talk for 10 minutes to build context and then question answer session." So let people listen to as per their choice of topics. It worked. It was a wonderful session and Michael could answer all the questions. 

Since that time, he has not changed his style. So his 10 minutes speech is over and floor is open for question answers. Venki broke the ice by asking the first question. 

1. The process to dive into Infinity: "Surrender. Surrender also means, accepting of every moment. Generally we try to change the moment. We judge, we compare the moment with desires in our mind. We separate the moment from the reality and get into conflict with the moment. If we just accept it, such a expansion happens. Sri Sri Ravishankar is great devotee, so He is great master too. "

2. Being western, accepting eastern philosophy: "There is no difference at all. All over the world, people are pretty much the same. Their desires are same: prosperity, health, happiness, family's success and happiness. Here, you desired Dhosa-Sambhar, there people desire good sandwiches to eat. There are only minor differences. 

A teacher should not take position, that I am teaching something to somebody.  A teacher should just share his experience. An Art of Living teacher guides, share and uplift lives of people. If a teacher talks / tells you something then your ego, dogma, concepts, 'I know better than you' etc will be obstacles. Teaching is so dry, but sharing is celebration. My mentor Guruji never talks down to people. He is only sharing. He is same at every location." 

3. Outer world v/s Inner world: Michael just draw our attention to 50 % off sale in 
Phoenix mall. When he visited Bangalore, in 1991 there was no concept of sale, even malls were not there. "The world has evolved and changed a lot. Life is getting faster. As we evolve as human species, we got more and more stimuli from external sources. 

  • Now everything has more visual impact like colorful advertising sign boards, new colors on SARIs, HD 3D movies, laptop screens. 
  • On Audio front technology has advanced from gramophone records to audio cassettes to digital CDs and MP3s. 
  • Now, we have food from all over the world. 
  • Same for fragrances
Thus, the world is not only stealing/capturing our mind, but also keeping the so busy. We do shopping, even though we do not need, just because of sale. You just lost yourself completely in this world. 

There is something more charming, more stimulating, more exciting and more vibrant than world. I found it. Many of you found it. Guruji is so charming. He brings you back to center, to yourself, so you do not lost yourself in outer world." 

4. East and West: "India, is extremely spiritual country. The spirituality is very much embedded into Indians. Yes, there is a paradigm shift and Indians are attracted towards western culture, however it is not obstetrical for spiritual progress. Weather east or west, everyone is searching for meaning, love and peace. Yoga and singing Bhajans are very popular in US, nowadays." 

5. Ordinary day in life: "It is same like yours normal day. I also wake, brush my teeth, wash my face, do Sadhana, have breakfast like any ordinary person." 

6. Purpose of life: "All of us have two different purposes in our life. Inner one and outer one. 

  • In the outer world, we always try to express our individuality. We contribute for betterment of this planet, we love people, we serve people, we put our 100% for any given task. However we all are same at core. It is like snowflake, they look alike but if we see under microscope, then each one is very different. We run around and confused, till our mind is calm down and settled. With calm mind, you can fulfill your purpose. the divine and force-of-nature will move you in certain way that you will be expression of divinity itself. 
  • All of us have same inner purpose: wake up and find out, who we are. To experience of divinity not just at intellectual level, but experience it very deeply. I think, we all are moving towards that with our own way. So if we compare ourselves with others either spiritually or materialistically, then that creates a such big mess." 

7. Social Services : Someone from the audience raised concern about irreversible changes and the damaged already happen, even we have evolved technology and positive initiative like 'Volunteers for better India'. Michael responded : "The world is moving towards positive direction, closer towards lights, wisdom. Learning from mistake makes us stronger. This is not a terrible time, rather this is an exciting time. The consciousness is waking up. Many people want to do service and they are joining hands together. Sri Sri Ravishankar is catalysis for change and transformation by many service projects across the globe." 

8. Special incidents in Ashram: Michael narrated an incident of 1992. If you get chance sometime, you should directly listen from him only. 

9. Meditation and regular Sadhana: It was surprising to know that many of us have learnt Sahaj Samadhi Meditation, yet few of us are practicing regularly twice in a day. Michael emphasized a lot about regular Sadhana on this path of knowledge. "The Art of Living is about 4 S. Sadhana, Seva (Service), Satsang and Smile. Sadhana brings deep experience within, that is essential for transformation. Without regular Sadhana then The Art of Living is just a social club, where we together all just laugh, smile, enjoy and celebrate. The Art of Living is much more than just a platform for social gathering. He shared his experiences to encourage us for dedicated regular Sadhana." He was regular in Sadhana, twice a day, at busy life of NewYork, California and Los Angeles. 

10. Convince friend for Art of Living course: He discourage people to do men hunting for Art of Living course. "One should not irritate others like sales men. One should leave friends and people alone. Give them space. Just relax. Everyone has its own time, so no need to become aggressive. This is not like JIHAD." He advised the person to become example for his friend and inspire him to do the course by being more calm, alert, loving, caring, more patience, and living in present moment.

11. Law of Karma: He expressed his personal opinion that, "if one has  personal identification and mental association with someone/something then he needs to experience Karma. Sometimes, Karmas are at very very subtle level, that we are unaware." Michael observed Guruji under microscope for last 25 years and concluded that He never identified Himself with anything. "He is running so many service projects. Sometimes we as volunteers are so excited by our role, planning and contribution towards a service project. However for Guruji, all projects are just same." I added to that, Guruji's response to a question. "Guruji what do you do in your free time?" Guruji replied with smile, "I do everything in free time only" How much detach He is ! Micheal added about Guruji "It is amazing, how he managed so people, so many meetings about service projects, kitchen, housing, blessings, IT and He just offer something to everybody. How do you feel, if all the time, people are just staring at you. Like you are some animal in zoo. He does not need space for himself. He is space, that is why he can do that "

Michael continued about Karma theory. "We used to associate ourselves with job, children, spouse, nationality, gender, profession, likes, dislikes etc. We just project out our inner self to the world. More we do Sadhana, more we go deep in meditation and more we experience the expansion, then shift in mind happens. I am just the pure consciousness. I am much greater than this outer world, that knowledge comes by listening to Guruji. Guruji has spoken everything in video recordings on Ashtavakra Gita, Narad Bhakti Sutra, Patanjali Yoga sutra and many knowledge talks. You need to integrate that knowledge in our deep level of experience, otherwise you are just fooling yourself and you create another identity of knowledge for yourself.

Few sentences in Hindi: 

  1. "Ab Kyaa Ho Raha Hai? अब क्या हो रहा है? " What is happening now? 
  2. "Aur Kyaa? और क्या ?" What else?
  3. "Koi Baat Nahi. कोई बात नहीं ।" Doesn't matter or fair enough. If you live this expression in your life on daily basis, you will be always joyful. 

12. Adapting Art of Living as being a person from US and a Jewish: "It is not a big transition, so I have not done any adjustment. We do only those things, that we like to do. I have not done any big sacrifice. I like to teach Art of Living courses, so I am doing it. This summer I will celebrate my 25th Guru-Purnima festival with Guruji. These 25 years went just a like a day passes. I have not done any cultural adjustment. Yes I am Jewish. I have great respect for my traditions, value, religion and culture. Yes, I see myself as American, but I feel very much at home, here in India. Because of Guruji, I have feeling of belongingness wherever I go. Every country and every culture has something unique to offer. "


Then we had short guided meditation. Before that we had thumb yoga. :) Use our thumb to switched off / silent our mobile phone. Michael commented in his unique humorous style. "In ancient time, when sages perform Ygana or any religious rituals, that time devils used to come to disturb them. In present time, the two biggest sources of devils are Samsung and Apple :) ". He introduced mediation as art of doing nothing. He claimed himself as expert of doing nothing. In school days, college days teachers / professors used to tell him, "Michael you have done nothing !" In corporate world, his boss used to tell him the same. :) We all enjoyed meditation. 

13. More time with Guruji: He wished the person, for getting more time to spend with Guruji. He suggested to take more responsibility and to be involved in big SEVA service projects, that needs Guruji's attention. Off course, if one does SEVA with selfish motive then it does not remain as SEVA, however it is good only if anyone involve to SEVA service project with aim of spending more time with Guruji. 

14: Any unaccomplished goal or desire: "No. All desires are fulfilled. Yes, I wanted to visit Maha Kumbh Mela, that too, I visited recently. 

Is it so important to fulfill your desire? Once, your one desire is fulfilled, new desire will arise and it will get hold of your mind. Then it is same, weather your current desire gets fulfilled or not. Desire creates lot of stress in your mind. All the time, your mind says, I will be happy, only when I get this thing. The present moment is so perfect in itself.  You just observe pattern of your mind, as witness. You can realize with retrospection, that 
  • I am getting frustrated over the same thing all the time. 
  • I am doing same mistake, again and again. 
  • I feel insecure about same type of changes when they happened. 
  • My mind is keep on chattering. 
  • It oscillates between past tense and future tense. 
The transformation can only happens through greater awareness and expanded consciousness. So Sadhana is very critical. Without Sadhana, The Art of Living is just a personal development course. Are you aware that you are here, right now? Are you aware, there is space between two thoughts? 

Ultimately, you only have to go through patterns of your mind to overcome them, with knowledge and technique. A Guru can only help you. However, there cannot be instant fix that, yes now onward there will be no pattern. You should be honest to yourself, to understand your patterns and obstacles. You are only responsible for your feelings and your experiences. You should observe that,  'what is blocking me, to experience the divine?' We all are playing a role of a seeker on the path of knowledge. 

Once you know your mind, you understand the human condition, you get inner strength, empathy so, you can empower others also to overcome their mind's patterns. Once you realize, then a true surrender will happen. It does not matter at all, to whom you surrender. There is only one divine element."

He talked further about Guruji. Sri Sri Ravishankar's mind is like leaser beam. So sharp and focus! He is embodiment of awareness. 

15. Writing a book Michael summarize by sharing his experience about writing this book. He was not good at writing since schooling. So writing this book took long time for him. Once, he finishes it, he realize that yes, he can do anything in life. Any idea is put in your mind by divine only. The book 'Stumbling into Infinity' is all about his experiences with Guruji. He was told to write this book. He had various experiences over this path, that he shared with Guruji. Guruji instructed him, 'Write them down. Those experiences are not for you. They are give to you so you inspire other people.' 

At the end, we had book releasing formality with Venki. He informally suggested audience, before going back to stage: "After my speech, you all are supposed to clap" :)

I am also ending this blog post here by suggesting you all readers. "After reading my blog, you all are supposed to share and comment on it." :) 

Declaimer: Please note, this article is not verbatim of Michael Fischman's speech. I have put my best effort to put his thought in my own words, to share essence with you all. I may have done unintended mistake while understanding his speech, so this article may not completely represent his thoughts. Please let me know, if any mistake by me, due to my incomplete or incorrect interpretation.