Gita Saraydarian | Spiritual Teaching & Education | The Path to a Spiritual Life

"I am overjoyed and excited with the many new insights and seeds that have been planted. Once again, thank you Gita for your dedication, love and leadership."

- Michelle R. on the annual TSG Wesak Conference & Retreat

About Gita | Interview | Interview with Gita Saraydarian

Interview with Gita Saraydarian

This interview was given by Gita Saraydarian to the Pyramid Societies group, India. Gita answers questions on her father Torkom Saraydarian, her beliefs, her spiritual practices, and her philosophy of life. See the original publication in the Telugu language (interview on pg. 59)

Q 1. Your father seems to demonstrate two personalities: that of a scientist-physician and that of a spiritual leader. How did he integrate the two?

Yes, my father was a scientist who used his higher, spiritual faculties to understand and explain life. His discipline made him a keen observer and student of life.

In academic training, we are taught how to use our minds to observe, verify, test and engage in logical and sequential thinking. This training relies on the faculties of our mind that analyzes and concludes according to the data collected by our five senses.

The Teaching takes us to a world where you can train yourself to do the same thing, but using your physical senses as well as the emotional, mental, intuitional, atmic, monadic, and divine senses. Instead of the five senses of the physical world, you now have a potential of using 35 or more layers of senses. Following the training given by the Teaching of the Ancient Wisdom, an individual is able to build these senses in a logical and sequential and safe manner and, using them, is able to observe life in its many dimensions. There is nothing accidental or mysterious about the Wisdom Teachings. The scientific method is applied, but using senses that are beyond the mundane.

The Teachers of the Wisdom were scientists who had the higher faculties built. They were able to understand life from its multiple levels and wrote about it. They observed causes and effects on multiple levels. They used their experiences and observable data to verify what they perceived.

My father was a scientific thinker and spiritual teacher who was so practical that he used the techniques of spiritual science to teach and inspire. He always showed cause and effect, taught how to observe, taught how to use the higher powers for observation.

Q 2. Can you give us a brief overview of your beliefs and your father’s — Torkom Saraydarian?

Yes, Torkom outlined seven principles that he found permeated all of the world religions and spiritual practices. These principles are not just nice words, but are embodiments of Great Beings who guide us and inspire us. In every generation, these principles are operating, but they expand and fit the needs of the times. For example, freedom is a great principle. But the meaning has evolved to contain more and more and become more unifying and integrating. What we thought was freedom 100 years ago is not what we think is freedom now. The seven principles are:

  • Beauty
  • Goodness
  • Righteousness
  • Joy
  • Freedom
  • Sacrificial Service
  • Striving Toward Perfection

All of life operates on these Principles. They are the foundation of Torkom’s work in all his life and they have also become mine. As a result of our willingness to understand these seven principles and adopt them in our everyday life, our personal life will undergo a huge change and this will slowly begin to change the life of all around us.


Q 3. What is the one philosophy you would like to express to all of us?

The philosophy that I most love is the Teaching on the Heart. I love the phrase from Agni Yoga Teaching, Heart, Paragraph One: It is my mantram, my most cherished “marching orders” so to speak! I always read this and meditate on it and try to find the deeper meanings. Here it is in part:

“To behold with the eyes of the heart; to listen with the ears of the heart of the roar of the world; to peer into the future with the comprehension of the heart; to remember the cumulations of the past through the heart; thus must one impetuously advance upon the path of ascent…. Thus the arcs of consciousness are fused by the flame of the heart”

I find that if I adhere to the heart and deal with all of life from this perspective, I cannot go wrong.


Q 4. What do you mean when you say "spirituality"?

Spirituality to me means the balance between the pull of the soul consciousness and its material manifestation. The balance has to be there, since both material and soul are two sides of the same coin. Now, we can be balanced on the physical plane, emotional plane, mental plane, Buddhic Plane, Intuitional Plane, Atmic Plane, and Divine Plane. At each level of consciousness, we are part matter — manifested spirit— and part spirit in its pure form. We must always be in balance between the two. Of course the qualities of matter and spirit are much different on each of the planes. As we move higher in consciousness, matter becomes more refined and spirit reaches even higher levels of consciousness and draws from there. That is why advanced thinkers and Teachers look and behave more beautifully; because their reach is higher in consciousness and they are able to demonstrate that higher consciousness in all that they do, in the “material” world of whatever level they operate on.

Q 5. In your opinion, what is the best way to feel God within you?

God is in everything, from the smallest atom to the entire Universe. We are all fragments of the One God. In order to feel God first, we need to connect with the essence inside of us, the real person. Most of our daily life is wasted on the mundane and non-essential, so it takes a lot of effort to find out who we are and where God is.

God is felt when we quiet the three bodies and raise our consciousness to the higher part of our mind — the part of the mind beyond the concerns of daily life. We also feel God when we hear the inner voice, when we respond to that voice, when we hear the sounds of nature, when we commit ourselves to live in service for others, when we love and forgive.

We also feel God when we meditate on great principles such as the beauty in life or the goodness in life. When we see how life cycles through everything and everyone, we see and feel God. We feel God in so many ways, big and small. He is around us in everything, every moment.

Q 6. What are the unpublished book titles of Torkom Saraydarian?

There are so many still unpublished and I am listing them here for you! It has been my personal mission to complete the publishing of these remaining books in my lifetime. I pray that all the needed help will be given to us to accomplish this great work. Here is the list:

  1. Adventures in Consciousness
  2. Autobiography
  3. Secret Doctrine, Study in
  4. Genealogy of Teaching
  5. Bhagavat Gita, Thoughts on
  6. Higher Worlds
  7. Higher Psychism
  8. Challenge of the Future
  9. Concept, Idea Mind, Subconscious
  10. Cosmic Magnet & Astro-Chemistry
  11. Crises and Tests / Shifts and Shocks
  12. Family Relations: Man, Woman and Children
  13. Group Consciousness — Seven Group Laws
  14. Happiness, Joy and Bliss - coming in 2009-2010
  15. Healing, Volume 1
  16. Healing, Volume 2
  17. Mystery of the Third Eye
  18. Higher Psychism
  19. Human Nature
  20. Imagination and Visualization, Psychology of
  21. Inner Potentials
  22. Lotus Sutra, Volume 1
  23. Meditation, Volume 1
  24. Meditation, Volume 2
  25. Meditation, Volume 3
  26. Poems, Volume 2
  27. Poems, Volume 3
  28. Prayers and Mantrams
  29. Science of Atma Vidya
  30. Self-Actualization and Self Mastery
  31. Sleep and Dreams
  32. Sufis
  33. The Teaching and Training Teachers
  34. Teachings of Great Ones & Shamballa
  35. The Seven Rays
  36. Virtues & Values, Volume 1
  37. Virtues & Values, Volume 2
  38. Virtues & Values, Volume 3
  39. Visions for Humanity and New Year
  40. Wisdom of the Zodiac, Volume 1 - coming in 2009-2010
  41. Wisdom of the Zodiac, Volume 2 - coming in 2009-2010
  42. Wisdom of the Zodiac, Volume 3 - coming in 2009-2010
  43. Wisdom of the Zodiac, Volume 4 - coming in 2009-2010

 

Q 7. How do you meditate, or get people to understand what a relationship with God is? How do you explain to people how to attain a relationship with God in a way that people will understand?

The key to understand our relationship with God is to establish right human relations with everyone around us and to have understanding and acceptance of others regardless of who they are and what they believe in. We need to go beyond the theological arguments of what or who is God and what His Name is. Once we go beyond the limited view that God is only what we define Him as, then we will start to understand our common bond as a humanity.

God has thousands of names and each one describes a facet of Him. Our definition of God may not be what someone else thinks. We need to allow for that broad definition and be comfortable with that limitless idea and let each person discover for himself or herself what or who is God. We can understand that God is not diminished in any way if someone has a definition that is entirely different from ours.

In order to help people understand this very broad idea of God, we need to show how spiritual disciplines help us attain this and why it is desirable to search for the meaning of God. Meditation of course is one of the best ways.

People are in different stages of their evolutionary life. We cannot impose a specific method of doing things, the same method, on everyone. We can always speak about the principles that guide life and also become an example for others and then let people be inspired to learn and change their life. Sometimes people can do only a little bit of prayer and meditation, maybe once a week. Others can do more, or some cannot do anything and are best served by a different kind of spiritual work, such as practical service, teaching others to read and learn something useful. It all depends what the needs and capacities are.

I do not like to push the mind of the person if he or she is not ready. I like to take into consideration what the person needs, what they can do, what they are willing to do, and then work with them. The bodies are little lives and they need to be trained. I like gentle training and not breaking the bodies or the spirit into obedience. If the will is exercised from someone else, the person will eventually rebel and then have guilt for not doing what they were told to do. Or, they turn against the Teaching if they feel they have failed. We must not make people feel guilty, or that they do not measure up. We must have respect for everyone as to where they are in their life and what truly they can do.

Also, sometimes, people are energized by their emotions and desires. These are not long lasting. So, you do not want to impose heavy labor when you do not know how strong is the inner fire to be able to manage a sustained spiritual practice.

How do I meditate?

I meditate by the method called “seed thought” meditation. Simply, seed thought meditation begins with relaxation, lifting the consciousness away from the bodies and into the higher mind, and then observing a tangible or intangible idea or object from the higher mind in as many perspectives as possible. Then, write the observations and complete the practice with a prayer and blessing.

I always like to be practical and down to earth. What I always emphasize are the principles that are the driving force for making changes in our life. When a person is ready, either from too much pain and suffering, or an enlightening experience, he or she will then start to take the steps to transform themselves. I try to inspire others to take steps to change their life. I try to show them, in many ways, why meditation and study and virtuous living is the best way for them. I show it in practical ways, in scientific ways. People do not want some mystical teacher to say words that have no bearing in real life. I believe that more than ever now, we need to be practical and show how the spirit manifests in everyday life.


Q 8. What has been the driving force in your life?

The most compelling and driving force in my life is realizing the huge potential for change and for good in every human being. Everyone has a chance, in lifetime after lifetime, to transform their ways. We have a choice: we can simply see the ugliness around us or we can choose to see the beauty and upliftment of life in addition to understanding why ugliness exists.

I also gain great comfort from knowing that Great Ones guide and help us. We simply need to ask and strive toward them. Knowing this, I maintain courage despite difficulties in life. I have faith that we can overcome adversities. I love human beings and really enjoy being with people. I see in very practical ways how great men and women come from very ordinary circumstances and greatness is possible for any of us. I always remember the examples of my father and mother.

Q 9. Today, most people are talking about transformation, astral travel, holistic healing, channeling. Do you think these are indications of a paradigm shift in humanity?

There is a definite paradigm shift in humanity as a whole and that is the understanding and appreciation of the link between body, mind, emotions, and spirit. We see this in every field of life.

Of course, this is a very important development to help us move away from rampant and unbridled materialism. Very importantly also, we are beginning to view material things in a more logical and useful manner. Matter such as food and money and clean water and such are important to have a good quality life. We cannot decry the importance of matter and, at the same time, we must make room in a balanced way for the spiritual part of us. So, we are shifting in important ways and we need to in order to have a healthy life in all its many levels.

The next shift that is slowly taking place and needs to take place is to move to a higher level of spirituality. Since humanity is developing a better mind, we can now do this on a wider scale. This means to move away from astral and lower psychic phenomenon such as channeling, fortune telling, and the like and move to the understanding of life from the higher mind and intuitional levels. The work of higher spirituality is to dispel glamor, illusion, fear, and various self deceptions that are common in the lower psychic fields. We can all too easily get stuck in these levels and think this is the only reality. Torkom’s teachings are a clear direction toward the higher aspects of spirituality.

Q 10. Where are we really heading as a civilization?

Humanity is heading in a direction of true spiritual values expressed in our daily life. Torkom wrote a book of immense visionary value titled Olympus World Report, the Year 3000. In it, he said that based on what humanity has accomplished thus far, we can see exceptional changes for the good coming in the future. I think we are moving in the right direction because I see so many great men and women taking leadership positions in politics, business, culture, finance, religion and education.

For example, take into consideration the history of humanity from such things as changing attitudes about women and children, attitudes regarding the old and destitute, economic and religious values, and what kinds of opportunities exist in all walks of life and for whom. If we compare where we were 100 years ago to where we are now, we have made great inroads in important ways. For example, more people have the opportunity to go to higher education now than 50-100 years ago. Opportunity based on merit is more prevalent than before. We are beginning to respect women’s and children’s rights and beginning to see the need for rights for all people regardless of their color, religion and so on. Although the spiritual Teachings speak about freedom and righteousness, we can see that the way these two ideas were manifested in our life is vastly different now than it was 100 years ago. In some ways, we are finally beginning to catch up with what the Teachings and Great Ones told us thousands of years ago!

The key is to move toward a greater shift of consciousness that is devoid of superstition and fear as well as not totally based on self-centeredness, consumerism, and materialism.

I have faith in humanity. I have faith in the potential of the human spirit to achieve any height of mastery imaginable. I believe that Light always triumphs over evil. And, as we individuals expand our consciousness, slowly we will be able to put into leadership positions those men and women who are truly the best to lead humanity.

Q 11. What is your personal spiritual practice?

I try to stay informed by reading and studying subjects from a wide variety of disciplines. I try to stay sane, balanced, and joyful. I consider all of life and daily living as part of my spiritual practice. Simple things like cooking and cleaning and communicating with others can be spiritual when raised to a conscious and caring level.
Specifically, I use the booklet The Daily Discipline of Worship (by Torkom Saraydarian) to keep my focus on the first five of the higher principles. Sequentially, they emphasize a life of beauty, goodness, righteousness, joy, and freedom. Each prayer links with the movement of the sun and it is really uplifting. It is a reminder of the greater universe.
I read serious books on many subjects such as history and biography. Presently, I am reading several books on how the brain works. I am finding how science is now proving the spiritual teachings because there are now machines that can look into the brain under various conditions. I am also reading poetry by Tagore and just completed a series of book on the Sufi traditions.
Of course, in my daily office work, I must read my father’s manuscripts and this gives me tremendous insights into how he worked and how he created. In preparing for classes, full moons, various courses and seminars, I am continuously expanding and reaching and challenging myself.
I train my mind with mediation on seed thoughts by taking a meditation course from our University curriculum.
I also love to dance and exercise and do a little every day to stay healthy and in balance. In short, I try to practice what I preach as much as possible. I do not like teachers who speak in ways that no one can understand, or in pretend ways. I learned from my father to stay simple and basic and real.

Q 12. What would you suggest to people who want to make their contribution to the world and want to do some spiritual service?

I suggest that they find a very practical spiritual practice and do it every day to train their mind and to lift their vibratory rate to a higher consciousness. It is important to be part of a study or meditation group, to pray and meditate, and read and discuss either with friends or with the family.

We contribute to the health of the world when we are balanced and real and fulfill our duties to ourselves to stay healthy and work and be creative. Then we need to take care of our families and dependents in a noble and responsible way. We also need to give to those in need in any way that we can. It is generosity of our spirit that removes fear. We can give money, time, talent, mentoring and teaching, training, and words of encouragement, love, and prayers — anything that we can. There is no big and little giving. We must all give and this is the fundamental law of the universe. We must circulate the energy that we receive.

Lastly, each of us must do our utmost to live as a responsible citizen of the universe by wiping out of our hearts the hatred, separatism, and religious exclusionism. We need to support individuals and groups who work to uplift and transform humanity. We must always live and speak in unity and love and forgiveness. Each of us can do so much by achieving our potential and not simply by freezing ourselves into our roles determined by culture and by society and custom.


Q 13. Torkom’s concept of Swadhyaya Yoga?

By Swadhyaya Yoga I understand it to mean the study of the Higher Self, the process of Union with the Divine. It involves the process of contemplation, study of higher Teachings and sacred books, and meditation. Essentially, it involves the firm establishment of the Higher Self in our daily life.

We have a published book, The Science of Becoming Oneself which is a complete workbook. It takes from 3-5 years to do all the exercises in it and you will be changed at the end of it! So, Swadhyaya Yoga is the Teaching on the Higher Self, the Essence in you that is one with the essence of the Universe. This is the pure Teaching and that is what all of Torkom’s work is based on.

Q 14. What is TSG’s concept on vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is the best way to achieve harmlessness and purity of the bodies. If we want to achieve higher consciousness, we need to stop eating foods that are lower in vibratory rates.

I personally feel that eating a simple vegetarian diet is the best way for serious discipleship. Even eating less meat on the global scale will help us with many of our environmental concerns and concerns and the basic needs of feeding the hungry in the world.

I understand that there are times when a person is not able to be a vegetarian, for whatever reason. I personally leave it up to the individual. The Masters of Wisdom teach about purity and simplicity of food so that we focus less on the food we eat. On the other hand, we need to be aware not to judge and force others to adopt ways that may not suit them or for which they are not ready.

Q 15. Meditation is one of the greatest sciences that may save our planet. How to reach consensus regarding meditation technique.

First, be able to distinguish between good and safe meditation vs. bad and harmful meditation. I believe that consensus is possible when teachers have the best interest of their students in mind and are very clear about safe vs. harmful meditation. Such a teacher clearly understands the subtle constitution of the human being and is firmly devoted to give the best guidance on meditation. Teachers of meditation must seriously study and understand the subtle constitution of man and learn exactly how to help students advance on the path of discipleship.

See for example Torkom’s book The Science of Meditation. Also, the two-volume book The Psyche and Psychism has very useful information on meditation that should be read by every spiritual teacher and student. Torkom created many meditation courses that we now offer in our online University. These are based on the techniques of meditation that he practiced and taught. These are the best methods that have at the core of them the Science of expansion of consciousness in a safe and sequential fashion.

Meditation done in a gradient fashion is very safe and the most important path to spiritual growth. I believe proper meditation is the greatest science that may save our planet as well. Why do I think this? Because proper meditation trains us in critical thinking. This is thinking based on fact, reality, observation, and knowing cause and effect. When we know how to think, our mind is able to penetrate into the higher spheres of the mental plane and we are then able to distinguish reality apart from the misconceptions and hallucinations of those who want to engage us in fear and illusion and self-deception. We cannot be deceived, and hence will be able to make the right life choices. We can save our planet when we know how to apply critical thinking to our life.

Q 16. What are your comments on Anapanasati meditation taught by Buddha.

By Anapanasati Meditation I understand it to mean the mindful observation of one’s breath. This means concentration and the moving of consciousness and focus away from being engaged in the “movies” of the physical, emotional, and lower mental bodies. This is the most powerful and necessary step to master in any spiritual practice. If we do not move our consciousness away from the three bodies, then whatever we do in study or meditation is still mired in the three bodies. This preparation sometimes takes an entire lifetime to master! When done properly, the person is able to put the bodies into deep rest. This enables the bodies to relax and heal and re-vitalize themselves. The bodies are agitated and out of control only because we focus on them so much that we put too much energy into them.

Once this part of the process of meditation is mastered, then the person may move to what is referred to as “seed thought meditation” as taught by the Sage Patanjali. It is the observation of an idea or object, using the higher mind as a starting point, and looking at it from the perspective of form, quality, purpose, and cause.

Q 17. Your personal meditational experiences.

I meditate regularly and take a meditation course. Meditation relaxes me in a deeper sense and clears my mind. The most exciting part of meditation is when I prepare a paper or lecture or simply mediate on a seed thought and in just a few minutes, I am able to understand a part of it that I did not understand before. From this I gather that it is not the length of time, but the ability to focus and lift ourselves out of the mundane and in a moment, we are able to touch a meaning that we did not have before. I also find it instructive when I do not have these “aha” moments! I find spiritual work to be an endless striving and discipline; it becomes a way of life without looking for immediate gratification or immediate results.


Q 18. Your breakthroughs and turning points in spiritual journey.

The greatest breakthroughs come at quiet moments after a period of hard work and striving. For example, for several years now, I have been preparing a 12-part series of lectures. The first year, I made 12 presentations on Building the Lighted House, then I presented another 12 parts on the Labors of Hercules, and presently, I am presenting a 12-part series on the Group Chalice and Expanding our service to Humanity. Each requires 12 months of intense work and monthly presentation on a specific theme. I find that I must look inside of me to determine what approach I use. When I do this, I am confronted by my limitations and am forced to look at parts of my life that need to be changed or re-visited. I have concluded that in order to make a breakthrough, we need to do the work, the “knocking” on the door. There is no short-cut.

Q 19. Messages from your father after leaving the body.

This is a very interesting question in light of the following: Before my father passed away, he wanted to eliminate the possibility of people using him or his image to press their own personal agendas. He wrote a letter to all the group members and instructed us that he will not be appearing to anyone to pass on any message. Additionally, he said that if anyone said they received a message from him, it would be false and he had no intention to be a conduit for anyone. With this, he broke the illusions and glamors of being “visited” by Torkom. People are very prone to have “sightings” of teachers and it is mainly their own glamors that build an image and then any entity can enter that image and give “guidance”. This is very tricky and he wanted us not to fall into these traps.

Now, does this mean that I am not guided by my father? Let me recount a very meaningful event for me just before he died. I was visiting him by his bedside and was full of grief and worry. I asked him, “Whom do I turn to when I need questions answered regarding the Teaching or editing or completing manuscripts?” He looked at me with very stern eyes and said: “Ask yourself.” Now, I understand what he meant. During difficulties, ask my inner being for guidance.

Our essence is one with the Universe. So, when I am guided by my essence, it is the same essence as my father, as my Guardian Angel, or the essence of any Great One. I do not want to create the ego that I am so important that Great Ones guide me. I want to rely on my own inner connection to the whole. When I am able to listen to the voice inside of me, then it is indeed guidance that comes from the universal connectedness. This way, I am able to use scientific thinking of cause and effect. Did the guidance help me and if so, in what way? This way, I learn to depend on myself and develop the powers of my own soul. Torkom always wanted us to depend on ourselves so that we truly learn to appreciate the uniqueness and depth of the human soul and human potential.

Q 20. Your life with your mother and briefly her experiences.

My mother is an exceptional woman who is still living. She raised five children and helped us all achieve higher degrees in education. She instilled in us the fundamentals of noble living: respect for our elders and teachers, to speak with respect, to have manners, to have the passion for learning from everyone and to listen to everyone, to read and study in all disciplines and not be limited in our thinking to any one discipline.

She is also an avid reader of serious books, especially in politics and history. She is a college graduate but her wide depth and breadth of knowledge is due essentially to her reading and meditation and observations.

She is an avid gardener and is most comfortable in the garden with her plants and vegetables. She is very down to earth and very balanced and focused. She is an intense woman who never speaks of her spiritual practice or experiences except in rare occasions when she finally gives up and responds to our questions! I know her to be a true spiritually advanced person, but in the tradition of all advanced disciples, she never speaks of her experiences in public and even in private, very rarely. She is really my model for feminine strength, beauty, and power and determination. She has taught me to understand karma and be joyful in repayment of it. She has taught me to be silent and patient. She taught all of us how to be kind and forgiving to each other.


This interview was given for the Indian spiritual magazine Dhyana Andra Pradesh.