Monday, August 27, 2018

How the Search for the Ultimate Truth Led Me to Yoga

How the Search for the Ultimate Truth Led Me to Yoga

When I was a little kid I always struggled to pay attention at school. I was usually lost in my own thoughts. Driven perhaps by a habit acquired from a past life, there was one particular thought that I use to think about over and over again.

Where do we come from?

I was like a little philosopher, always questioning this reality. "Does it exist when I'm not looking? Does everybody else exists or is it just me? Are we perhaps like tiny particles, part of a larger being, but simply unaware of it?"

I used to contemplate mainly about what I had learned at school, from TV and magazines, regarding the beginning of the universe.

In a way, it didn't make sense to me.

Sure, I did understand it, but at the same time, I thought it was nonsense. How is it possible that from an incredibly tiny, super-dense state, with a sort of explosion, the whole universe was created?

What was before it? What triggered its expansion? Why would it change from one state to another?

And from that Big Bang, plus a few billion years, we now have these little beings called humans. Seriously?

On top of that, we live in an insignificantly small dust particle floating in a vast universe, building houses, streets, airplanes, and constantly worried about our "big" problems.

"This can't be real," I used to think.

A shift of consciousness

One day while I was in class, as usual not paying attention but rather pondering about all these questions, I felt something unusual. A shift of consciousness, a small change of perception that drastically changed my view of the world around me.

But although this was a radical change of perception I didn't give much importance to it. I was about nine years old. Still a kid anyway. I wanted to play with my toys, with my friends or just watch TV.

However, in the years to come, I had that experience a few more times. Always by accident though, I didn't look for it.

Usually, it would happen in the mornings, while I was laying down on my bed. I would for some reason raise my hand towards the ceiling, then look at the back of my hand and wonder, "From the Big Bang to this? What is this?!"

This idea of a limb with five extensions called fingers... as soon as we see it we think "hand." But if you think about its origins, it is completely formless, or like Jill Bolte Taylor says in Stroke of Insight, they look like "primitive claws."

My first teachers

Many years later, when I was about twenty, I found myself walking into a bookstore.

I actually didn't like reading, but for some reason, I was always drawn to bookstores. I felt the need to walk in and take a look at the books. It was as if something was calling me to do that.

This day, as I was looking at some books, a small book caught my attention. It didn't look special at all from the outside, and I didn't really understand the title. But as I started reading I was amazed.

"This is it!" I thought. It reminded me of the experience that I'd had as a little child. I understood what this book was talking about, but at the same time, I didn't understand a thing.

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.”

“For the unreal there is never any being. For the real, there is never any non-being. The ultimate truth of both of these is seen by the knowers of the truth.”

I really wanted to buy this book but I didn't have any money at that time. So I went to my father's house to borrow some money from him.

He asked me, "What is the name of the book?"

I could barely pronounce the name but I did my best. I answered, "The Bhagavad Gita."

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important scriptures in Hinduism, but it is not a religious book.

It is pure yoga philosophy expressed through a dialogue between Sri Krishna (one of Hinduism deities) and Arjuna (a great warrior). The quotes above are from the second chapter, verse 12 and 16.

My father went back inside his house. I thought he was going to get his wallet but when he came back out he didn't give me any money. Instead he came out with the book in his hands.

Can you believe it? My father already had that book.

The version my father gave me is a beautiful translation of the Gita into Spanish by Editorial Sirio. If you read Spanish you can actually download a free Kindle sample here.

The Bhagavad Gita became my introduction to yoga. From that moment on many other yoga books started to appear in my life.

My very next book was Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananada. This was another life changing book for me.

I was fascinated by Yogananda's stories of different masters and their magic powers, and I loved every time he mentioned the Bhagavad Gita.

I also read several books of Swami Vivekananda. My two favorite were Jñana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge, and Raja Yoga, the yoga of mental mastery and meditation.

Many years later, during my first trip to India in 2005, I discovered the teachings of Swami Satyananda. He became another great influence for me.

Books like Taming the Kundalini and Steps to Yoga left a deep impression in my mind and heart.

Reading all these books is what motivated me to quite my corporate job in Europe so that I could go back to India. I wanted to study and practice the whole science of yoga, and live in Indian ashrams.

Meditation and the search for truth

As you might be able to tell from my curiosity as a child, my interest has always been the search for truth. The truth about what is real and what is unreal. That's what my spiritual path is all about.

This is why I felt immediately attracted to the Gita, a scripture that talks about the ultimate truth and the means to attain it. This is the yogic path of knowledge, jñana yoga, and it was my natural first call.

Also, by reading all these books I got very attracted to raja yoga, the royal path or the path of meditation. Yogananda and Vivekananda talked about meditation as a mean to discover that ultimate truth within ourselves.

In the chapter VI of the Bhagavad Gita we read:

10. Let the Yogi try constantly to keep the mind steady, remaining in solitude, alone, with the mind and the body controlled, and free from hope and greed.

11. In a clean spot, having established a firm seat of his own, neither too high nor too low, made of a cloth, a skin and kusha grass, one over the other,

12. There, having made the mind one-pointed, with the actions of the mind and the senses controlled, let him, seated on the seat, practise Yoga for the purification of the self.

13. Let him firmly hold his body, head and neck erect and perfectly still, gazing at the tip of his nose, without looking around.

14. Serene-minded, fearless, firm in the vow of a Brahmachari, having controlled the mind, thinking of Me and balanced in mind, let him sit, having Me as his supreme goal.

15. Thus, always keeping the mind balanced, the Yogi, with the mind controlled, attains to the peace abiding in Me, which culminates in liberation.

Isn't it fascinating? It certainly was for me.

My heroes

My life started to become shaped by the teachings of the Gita and the ancient masters. I felt such a spiritual fervor and desire for real knowledge.

Whenever I've heard the question, "Who are your heroes?" the first answer that comes straight to my mind are the names of all these great Indian yogis.

This I guess was the reason I was so keen to enter into bookstores. It was not intellectual knowledge what was calling me, but rather the wisdom of the ancient yogis.

The role of karma

But I didn't really need to go to bookstores.

Since my father has also interest in the traditions of the East, and on the teachings of the Indian yogis, I just needed to check his library.

He had not only the Bhagavad Gita, but many other books that I was meant to read.

It is so clear. My karma brought me to the family I was supposed to grow up with.

I attended my first yoga school

At the same time, seeing my interest in the teachings of the ancient yogis, my father invited me to a yoga school that he was already attending. It is called Asociacion Escuela de Autorealizacion.

This yoga school was founded by Padre Cesar Davila, a Catholic priest who learned to meditate following the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. Isn't that cool?

The core teaching of the school was the practice of meditation, based on the teachings of the ancient yogis and of christianity. It couldn't have been more appropriate for a Catholic country like Ecuador.

To me this was fascinating, specially since I had just finished reading the Bhagavad Gita and Autobiography of a Yogi.

So this is where I started my let's say, yoga education.

We had once a week a theory class, every Wednesday a one hour group meditation and every Saturday an asana class ending with a group meditation.

I loved it. I have beautiful memories from my time there and the meditation retreats that I did with this school. It was a beautiful community of real spiritual seekers. No fitness yoga. No new agey stuff. Only the real deal.

I completed their three years yoga and christianity course. It was not a teacher training but a course for personal transformation and growth.

It was at this school where I received the most important gift I have ever received. It completely changed my life. Without it I believe my life wouldn't account for much.

I hope you'll understand but I'll keep this gift for myself. I will keep it secret and sacred. Those who have studied at the same school will know what I'm talking about, so I'm writing this for them.

The power of a spiritual community

One of the most difficult things for me when I left Ecuador to visit India for the first time, but specially later on when I moved to Belgium, was to leave this community.

For a long time I craved for those beautiful group meditation sessions. You know how it is, we don't know what we have until we miss it.

I learned by personal experience how important it is to have a spiritual community as a support on your journey, and how powerful are group meditations.

This is why I felt so good when I visited Kopan monastery in Nepal. After so many months without a spiritual community I felt as if I was finally with "my" people.

That first year in India was still one of the most profound transformative experiences ever, but my life in Belgium was very different.

My spiritual practice felt a bit dry and empty while I was living in Belgium. I felt let's say, spiritual lonely, if there is such a thing. I looked for communities around but I couldn't find much.

One day, by accident, I passed by a jewelry shop owned by an Indian lady in Brussels. What called my attention was that she was also selling Yogananda's books.

So I talked with her and she invited me to her group meditations once a week. It was nice to have a little community, although it was very small. There were three elder ladies and me.

There are no coincidences

As little kid there was one book that I would always stumble upon while playing at home. It was another one of my father's books.

The book had some photos of a man and a woman doing some strange body postures. Yes, you've guessed it right. It was a hatha yoga book.

At that time I had no idea what this was all about, but I was very curious.

I had no interest though to try to perform any of these postures. I just felt very attracted to this book, that's all. I was probably more interested in the meditative postures.

The book was the Sivananda Companion to Yoga. It is a classical hatha yoga book based on the teachings of Swami Vishnudevananada, disciple of Swami Sivananda.

What is interesting to me is that many years later, after quitting my job in Europe in 2010, I went to India and did my first yoga teachers training course at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala.

Can you see the connection? Do you think it's just a coincidence?

One of the first things that they told us at the beginning of the teacher training course was, "You think you have decided by yourself to come here, but it is actually the masters who have called you here."

I couldn't have agreed more with that statement.

I was not very satisfied at the beginning of the training but later on I came to realize that it was exactly what I needed. It was a lot deeper than I expected. The guru lineage is certainly there if you are open to it.

The invisible guidance of the masters

While I was still living in Belgium, thanks to YouTube, I discovered another master that I felt very attracted to. It was Swami Rama of the Himalayas.

He became one of my late inspiring figures. I watched all his lectures on YouTube and pretty much read all his books.

My interest brought me to the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, an ashram in Rishikesh founded by one of his disciples, Swami Veda Bharati.

Just as in the yoga school in Ecuador, where I had started my spiritual path, the main focus of this ashram is the practice of meditation. That's why I felt so attracted to it.

So I decided to follow another teacher training course at this ashram. They told us the same thing at the beginning of the training, "It is the masters who have brought you here."

Yes, I know they say the same thing to every group, but that doesn't mean that it is not true.

One day I saw a post on Facebook that made me even more aware of the invisible guidance of the masters.

It was a very old photo of Swami Veda Bharati, the founder of SRSG, hugging Padre Cesar Dávila, the founder of the yoga school in Ecuador. They were actually close friends.

Padre Cesar Davila and Swami Veda Bharati
1980.  Padre César Davila (left) and Swami Veda Bharati (right).

When I saw this photo I was amazed. I had no idea they knew each other. A priest from Ecuador and a swami from India as close friends... Isn't that beautiful? I was definitely where I needed to be.

Finding your path

I often receive emails of followers asking for advice on their spiritual path and on what training to do in India. My answer is always the same: follow the omens and listen to your heart.

I know that might sound a bit cliche, but as you can see, that is my experience. If you pay attention you will certainly be able to notice the connections or "coincidences" on your path. Listen to your heart.

If you would like more tips about it you could visit, How to Find a Yoga Teacher Training Course in India.

So, what is yoga?

As you can see, when I talk about yoga I'm not merely referring to the popular body postures.

To me yoga is the science of self realization.

Yoga is a holistic system that includes different attitudes and practices such as selfless service, self study, devotion, meditation, breathing exercises, and so on.

The purpose of all these practices is to master the mind so that we can realize the ultimate truth which lies within ourselves.

Yoga is the path, and the end of the path is the state of yoga.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog post. My aim is to answer a question that I get asked often in yoga retreats: how and why did you started your path to yoga?

I also hope that it will help you discover your own path. Have you noticed the omens in your life? Have you had a similar journey? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments section below.

Don't forget to subscribe to by mail here to make sure you won't miss my next update. Once you subscribe you'll receive a link to download my free meditation eBook. Thanks for your support.


  1. I also don't believe in coincidences. Very nice article about your spiritual and life path. I have just discovered your website while researching about the Bihar School of Yoga. You have a new follower:) Thanks for sharing your wisdom through your experience. Namaste.

    1. Oh thank you for following my journey :-) 🙏✌️

  2. Very Interesting and thanks for sharing your experience on Yoga.

    1. Thanks to you for taking the time to read my blog. 🙏

  3. Hi Marc, it was simply wonderful read. I felt as if I'm reading myself. As a child I also used to get lost in thoughts thinking what happens when we die, are we for real or what is it. You're absolutely right follow the omens and listen to your heart. I found about Inteyoga ashram in Mysore from your blog. I think we have a connection here. Hope to meet you one day and meditate together 🙏