Don Hoes a sportsman, businessman and a mystic poet from Baltimore visited Minneapolis. Don now 52 started meditating when he was 14 years old. Don was initiated in to the Sant Mat by Sant Darshan Singh Ji Maharaj in 1975. He shared some of his works and experiences through these talks and was able to inspire many of us to explore meditation in a more profound manner.
Talk 1: 12 Step Program to Spirituality (Jan 25th)
Don started by relating worldly attachments to addictions and suggested how a 1
2-step program for everyone could guide us towards our spiritual goals. He then explained each step of a 12-step program. The steps are summarized here:
Step 1 recognize that we are not in charge
Step 2 believing in a power greater than us could help us
Step 3 make a conscious decision to turn our will to the care of God
Step 4 make a moral inventory of ourselves as a first step to introspection
Step 5 admit our recognition about us to God, ourselves and loved ones
Steps 6 and 7 surrender to God and pray for help to eliminate our shortcomings
Step 8 make a list of all we had harmed and be willing to ask for forgiveness
Step 9 ask for forgiveness unless doing so will hurt them or others more
Step 10 continue to take personal inventory and admit mistakes spontaneously
Step 11 pray and meditate only to know His will for us and the power to carry that out
Step 12 practice all of the above steps and principles, and try to carry this message to others
Don concluded by relating these steps to Sant Mat principles of surrender, introspection, effort and grace. The program and Sant Mat are for helping us change ourselves to be in harmony. He elaborated on the self-introspection process and stressed that we should do it with love and a true purpose. Every one enjoyed the talk, especially how he related all of the steps to his own personal life.
Talk 2: Receiving Love through Self-Transformation and Meditation (Jan 26th)
Don started with a question to the audience, what does LOVE mean to them? The audience responded with several definitions including that it is hard to define. Don then summarized unconditional, sacrifice, power, and selflessness as attributes of Love. Truly it is hard to define, it is only the experience. When we are experiencing love, there is no ego and the mind and emotions are still. Love brings ecstatic joy that is greater than any of the happiness of this world. Referring to a Hispanic saint, he defined love is an interchange between lover and the beloved (God). He added that we can only reflect upon the love we receive from God and should develop a burning desire for it.
Don elaborated that meditation helps increase our receptivity to God’s love. During meditation the brain waves are slower and reached a stage of a dying person, a condition known as dying while living. The process of growing in meditation takes time. Some people can meditate more than others. For Beginners 1 hr of meditation provides rest similar to 1 hr of sleep. For intermediates 1 hr of meditation is 2 hrs of sleep and for highest form of meditation like some Yogi’s performing deeper practices, 1 hr of sleep is 3hrs of rest.
How do we find a true lover? He elaborated a true lover is fearless and ready to sacrifice. In order to receive love we need to listen, and meditation is the process of listening.
Qualities of love: Love increases when distributed, unlike any other commodity of this world.
Love is a secret; we can not speak to others about our love. If we want to receive more love from others, we need to give attention to them. By listening to them, we give them attention and therefore open ourselves for receiving love. We must listen to our children; children develop habits of lying when they think it is not safe to say the truth. They must feel safe telling the truth to parents. If not paid attention to early enough, this habit turns children into dishonest adults. Jealousy is yet another negative attribute that is a subtle form of anger that creates wounds in our hearts and on the astral body.
Practicing humility, filling in the introspection diary, observing saint’s lives were some techniques taught by Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj. It is humbling to see saints loving fellow human beings. Observing someone serving others and living in this manner also brings transformation to us. When we do it for long enough it becomes habits, then second nature and finally part of our being.
Introspection helps us as a mirror to see our short comings as blemishes and scars on our being. Dishonesty and Jealousy creates blockages in receiving love from divine just like Cholesterol creates blockages in a heart. Don referred to C. S. Louis describing pain and suffering as a blessing. Pain and suffering help carve us into the shape that God wishes us to finally attain. He quoted C. S. Louis as “We must be carved into objects of beauty”. Don added it is important to cleanse ourselves in order to attract the glances of beloved God.
In love we seek the attention of our beloved, we can not live without them, and we constantly want to be in the presence of, or in remembrance of the beloved. The same is true for a Master and disciple relationship but this love is so intense that the disciple saint Sant Darshan Singh described the few hours of Masters company as a life time of fulfillment. Don concluded that in order to receive true love we must become transformed into objects of inner beauty and build receptivity to the divine love and meditation will help us get closer to our goal. Don answered questions after the talk, and everyone meditated at the end of the talk.