My name is Swami Anantananda Giri. I represent the Western Church of Sanatana Dharma and its founder - my Guru - Mahamandaleshwar Swarupananda. I am the founder of the Northwest Sanatana Dharma Mission, a religious non-profit in the state of Washington. I teach the philosophy and the practice of Sanatana Dharma, "The Eternal Way". Of course many people - approximately 1/6 of the earth's population - belong to the religion of Sanatana Dharma, AKA Hinduism. As a result of this, and of the absence of any one centralized governing body or any sort of dogmatic controls, Sanatana Dharma flourishes in many forms. Here at the Western Church of Sanatana Dharma, we are chiefly concerned with the practice of becoming fully enlightened and liberated while still in the body; in this very lifetime.
1. To assist in the upliftment of humanity by helping others to remember their own essential nature.
2. To promote the return to a more holistic way of living by, myself, living, demonst-ing, and teaching Permaculture principles and ideals
(see the "Eco-Ashram" and "Support Us" Tabs).
When I use the word, "enlightenment", I am not speaking of an enlightenment experience, otherwise known as a "satori experience" or an "Aha! moment". These come and go, while what we seek is permanent.
Therefore, we are not chasing ecstacy, lights, internal sounds, or visions, although these phenomena do certainly occur. Nor are we seeking supernatural powers or abilities that make us feel more special than the next person.
The enlightened state is ever-present in everybody. GOD exists in full measure as everything in manifest creation. God exists within you, as you. All we are seeking is the remembrance of that which is always already the case.
Enlightenment is not the gaining of anything whatso-ever. It is a shift in perspective alone. Instead of being convinced that they are the body, mind, and/or personality, the liberated one knows that he or she is actually the Consciousness that transcends and is not limited to these, but from which such manifestations arise.
Glimpses of this state are not uncommon in average people, although they typically go unrecognized and un-appreciated. They become even more common upon adopting a disciplined spirit-ual practice. They become exponentially more common upon accepting a Guru.
The final goal is for the "substance" of these glimpses to become the reality that is constantly and effortlessly perceived, even while participating in one's so-called mundane activities. When all that can be seen and experienced is known as nothing other than the Self, whatever life throws your way is OK. There is nothing left to worry about. The only thing left to do is to love the Self, which is the natural consequence of simply being.
What is Enlightenment?
There is nothing that is not GOD!
If you aspire to realize your true identity as
Consciousness-absolute, we can help facillitate
the return of awareness to Self. We do this by providing a complete and systematic mode of practice that is tailored to your own individual needs and abilities. More importantly, however, is the fact that the practice is empowered by the Guru. The scriptures unanimously declare that there is no higher yoga than service rendered unto the Guru. The experience of real-life seekers who have attained the final goal - modern and ancient alike - echoes this sentiment: "This is the path that works and does it most quickly!" My Guru has empowered me to share his blessings; his Shakti; his Grace with you.
My Guru's full name is His Holiness Mahamandaleshwar Paramahamsa Swarupananda Vishwa Guru Maharaj Swamiji. In 2007 he became the first caucasian to have been elevated to the rank of Hinduism's eighty Mahamandaleshwars. This is the second highest ecclisiastical seat one can hold in Sanatana Dharma although, the way I understand it, this reflects the addition of responsibilities more than any intrinsic superiority over any other self-realized human being. More important than the titles (to me at least) are my Guru's characteristic compassion, selfless service, and uncanny ability to steer one clear of pitfalls. Under his influence, equanimity and dispassion wax stronger with each passing day. This has been my experience.
Man is said to have first received the gift of Divine Shaktipat Diksha (initiation) at the dawn of time, from Lord Shiva himself. It has been handed down from Guru to shishya (disciple) in the tradition Guru Param-para from time immemorial.
Swami "Baba" Muktananda
My Guru received the shaktipat diksha that lead to his own self-realization from a great siddha and world-renowned yogi named Baba Muktananda. He is not pictured here for copyright reasons, but his image can be found at siddhayoga.org.
Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri
It is from this saint that Baba received the gift of self-knowledge. Bhagavan was a great soul. Those who knew him in his younger years all say that there was never a time when he was not utterly detached from worldly pursuits and immersed, instead, in profound absorption in GOD. Bhagavan was so absorbed in GOD-consciousness that he rarely even spoke. His teaching was often given silently. When he did speak, it was only to utter the most profound of truths.
*photo used with the kind permission of Prasad Hegde
**You may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for all of your Bhagavan-related devotional needs such as photographs and statues
H.H. Swami Anantananda Giri