Q: There are many references in your lectures and books to the Himalayan Tradition and the tradition of Sri Vidya. Would you explain the significance of these terms and what they stand for?
A: At first glance it may appear the Himalayan Tradition belongs to a specific geographic region, but this is not the case. It refers instead to an exalted state of awareness represented by the world’s highest peaks and to the pure, undistorted knowledge and experience represented by the perennial snows of the Himalayas.
The Himalayan Tradition encompasses a broad-minded approach to spirituality.
The Himalayan Tradition encompasses a broad-minded approach to spirituality. It is a tradition of sages who for ages have been wandering among these peaks and on the plains of India without identifying themselves with any caste, creed, race, religion, guru, god, or established institution.
More precisely, the Himalayan Tradition is the tradition of Sri Vidya. Sri means “most auspicious, beautiful, joyful”; vidya means “knowledge.” Sri Vidya is the most beautiful and auspicious knowledge. It enables us to experience the most beautiful and auspicious reality in us. Practically speaking, it is the path of yoga sadhana where we discover our essential nature, and in the light of that pure reality, create a bridge between what is inside us and outside us. It is a path leading to finding the highest fulfillment and freedom while living in the world.
Sri Vidya is based on a philosophy that tells us our body, mind, senses, and the universe are designed on exactly the same pattern: anything that exists in the universe exists in our body, and anything that exists in our body exists in the universe. Further, Sri Vidya holds that we are an integral part of this infinitely vast tapestry of life. In this vast tapestry we are absolutely one with the universe. We grow out of the universe in the same way a fetus grows from a zygote. Like a tapestry, we become more elaborate and complex with further weaving. Perennial and all-pervasive intelligence continuously adds more and more beauty to the tapestry of life that we are.
We are born as a tiny baby; we become adolescents, then adults; we grow up to become a physician, a carpenter, a philosopher, a mother, a grandfather; and then one day we grow old and die. Death brings a new dimension to our growth, which allows us to become part of a much bigger universe. The idea of death leading to a more expanded consciousness may be too much to comprehend, but what is important here is to know that in the tradition of Sri Vidya we recognize that all of us are an integral part of a gigantic tapestry, one which is constantly expanding.
According to the tradition of Sri Vidya, we are on a continuous, unstoppable journey. The forces of time and space and the forces that guide and govern the law of cause and effect have no power to disrupt our continuous journey. We are children of immortality—the seed within us is undecaying and indestructible. The tradition has discovered techniques to help us gain a direct experience of this truth. This experience takes away all forms of fear—when we know there is no force that can harm us, fear vanishes forever.
Each of us has the potential to experience our perfect goodness, perfect beauty, perfect joy.
Our tradition has a practical, straightforward view. If the totality of existence is like an ocean, each of us is a wave arising from that ocean. The ocean of life is beautiful; we are a wave of that beauty. The ocean is joyful; we are a wave of that joy. The ocean is eternal; we are a wave of that eternity.
Each of us has the potential to experience our perfect goodness, perfect beauty, perfect joy. We all have the capacity and the privilege to find and experience the eternity that is our essence. The tools and means for experiencing that eternal joy and beauty are right here in this human body. By using the time-tested techniques imparted by the tradition we can awaken that potential and reach the same level of realization that great souls have experienced in the past. That is the Himalayan Tradition, the tradition of Sri Vidya.