Bindu

Resources of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition

Swami Veda Meets Vodoon Master

It is the town of Ouidah. It is a small town, with plain dirt roads that remind us of villages in India. People are sitting under the Bunyan tree, enjoying themselves. Beautiful goat run around and we just passed the precinct of the holy forest, and we are now here to visit the Voodoon High Priest's compound.
It is just like we see it in the villages of India. There are concrete walls with lots of pictures and paintings of certain ceremonies that the Voodoo high priest has performed. It says here the "Souverain Daagbo Houno, Chef Suprme de la RŽligion Voudou". The High Priest has come and is seated on his chair, others made a prostration in a special way. Then we were given a little vessel of water. Others take a sip and then pour a sip on the ground. Take a sip and the next person also takes a sip and pours it on the ground. And so everybody did that.

Swami Veda Bharati (SVB):

It has been a long time desire to come and visit someone of your office and station. I am here only to know more about your religion, as I am also a grand master of my own religion, and I find many, many similarities. So it is a great pleasure to meet with you.

High Priest:
The High Priest thanks you for what you said, and he says he thinks it is very important, and he appreciates very much that in this quest you came all the way to Benin and to his place. He is the High Priest of Voodoon, and as such he is the most important person in all of Voodoon, all over the world. He is the one and only High Priest of Voodoon.

SVB:
It is an honour to meet someone like him. I have heard of it and I have heard of, read about the influence of Voodoo in other countries, like Brazil and Haiti, you know, where some influence from Benin, some from Nigeria has mixed with Christianity and has mixed with the local religions. But here it is in a pure form, and that is why I am most interested in hearing from you.

High Priest:
He says that he knows that you are a great master of Yoga, and that in each order there are very important masters, and he recognises you as one of them. So both of occupy a very important place in world spirituality. So it is very important that you've heard of Voodoon, and that you have come to its birthplace to deepen your knowledge. He has been able to verify now for himself, because this is what he has been told in advance, and now he has been able to see that this is actually true, what we said in the preparation of the visit. If we had said anything that would be untrue, he would have known, being the High Priest of Voudoon. He is very sure that you will be friends, and in fact, he thinks you already are. And then he asks: What would you propose to deepen friendships and work together?

SVB:
I come in friendship because the spirituality in the world is facing a great crisis and many religions that think they represent spirituality do not represent true spirituality. It is for people like us to bring real spirituality to the minds and hearts of ordinary people. My one quest is always in finding similarities, and the best gesture of friendship can be sharing of ideas and experiences and finding ways in which we can support each others' work. For example, when I hear the meaning of Voodoo from you, in my lectures throughout the world I will tell the people what I have seen and what I have heard. So what would you like me to tell the rest of the non-Voodoon world about your tradition, that assures them, that they all will benefit, will go on the path of peace through this kind of teaching and practices.

High Priest:
He thanks you, and he says that he understood and saw that you are truly a great spiritual master. Not only has he been able to see that, to appreciate that on seeing you, but it has been reconfirmed by the words you spoke. By way of proof, he will quote one part of what you said, and say that you are a great adherent to peace and also, of spiritual unity. Your great respect for others also, you have proven by showing your willingness to talk about Voodoon from now on in your lectures worldwide. He thinks this is capital, and he is very grateful to you for this. So he is counting on you to work together for peace worldwide. The fact that you came here to know Voodoon and that you will hereafter talk about it in your lectures will contribute to this goal of world peace. He too, he wants peace, for himself, for this whole community and for the whole of mankind, that is his goal. So we share a vision, and we will always be together.

SVB:
I thank you again. I see in you also a great power of concentration, which must have come from many, many spiritual practices, perhaps, which you started from the very childhood. In Yoga, we place great importance on concentration of mind, and I am most interested in what I can tell my listeners about the way you teach your disciples, and how you yourself were taught this concentration of mind. I think that without that concentration of mind it is not possible to have spiritual peace inside us, and without peace in each mind there can not be peace among the people.

High Priest:
The similarities between the two practices are only confirmed by what you said. He is thankful for the remarks you made concerning his spiritual concentration. It is true that this is taught in the practice of Voodoon. But one has to be initiated to learn about it. It is only after initiation that you learn everything, the wisdom in the world, the wisdom in Voodoon, how to behave in your interactions with the external world, how to control yourself. It is a full education that is given within the context of Voodoon. I cannot talk about all this wisdom here and now. It will be necessary to limit our selves to the strictly essential.

SVB:
I fully agree and understand the need for maintaining the secrecy from those who are not initiated. Those who are initiated in other traditions may have had the same kind of spiritual training and experience that people of your station have here, and in that sense we can share a little of what CAN be shared, even if all of it cannot be talked about. (missing portion of sentence)... be a custodian, to keep the secret of initiations. And we also in our traditions do exactly the same. But how much you can share about the training I am most interested in. For example, in some traditions of the world, the people in training as priests or as spiritual guides go away to a holy forest for forty days of fasting, sitting in silence, being in solitude and receiving the divine message. What they do during those forty days in their minds is of great interest. Perhaps you yourself have gone through those kinds of periods of deep spiritual experience, or you lead your disciples to do that, just as we do with our disciples. Would you mind sharing what it is in these kinds of undertakings that you can share with us?

High Priest:
On top of all the similarities that have already been pointed out, I confirm that this practice also exists with us. We also have a sort of internment, isolation of people, either in the temples, or in the holy forests, or other places for this kind of retreat. But the essential thing is the will of the person concerned, he must really want to learn this and believe in Voodoon. That is the essential condition for anyone to be able to start learning. Whenever someone believes in Voodoon and wants to learn, he will be initiated and he can pass through all the phases. As far as initiation is concerned, I can tell you that it is not difficult. It is very simple in fact, but at the same time it is a very serious matter. It is simple, you do not have to go far, it is here with us, it is everywhere. But it is very serious. So you have to be willingness, and be very concentrated. We can do it at any time, we can do it with fairly large groups, it can be for a fairly long period of time, and after that another group is interned. It is a cycle that never really ends. So to be able to understand better, or to be initiated, one would have to believe in Voodoon, accept Voodoon as a leading principle.

SVB:
I am most grateful for sharing these processes with me. Perhaps there are many others who come here asking you these questions, but my interest is a very, very deep one. I have one or two questions the answers to which I think are not secret. Initiation: is it a particular ritual and prayer, or is it a passing on of a certain power? That is my one question. Secondly, when we send people into isolation, or prepare people for spiritual life, we give them a name of God, or the name of a spirit, or a sacred formula, to recite in the mouth or in the mind for a long, long, long time. Especially when they are in isolation. Do you give any such special formulas, or name of the spirit or invocations that they need to do a hundred thousand times, or ten million times, or five or ten times or whatever, so that the mind becomes absorbed in the name and the power of the divine spirit? These would be my two questions at this time. If you are free to share the answer, I would be most interested in knowing it from you.

High Priest:
To answer the first question, when someone is initiated, we give them powers, and we also perform rituals. I will go into more detail. Power is given bit by bit, level by level. But everything starts with rituals for initiation. It's after initiation that powers are given in different domains and at a different level, different intensity. That is necessary to make sure that the person has sufficient self-control and has control over Voodoon. And it also serves the purpose of allowing the person to protect himself, those around him and all of humanity.