Sages & Gurus

Sri Ramana Maharshi Picture

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi had a spontaneous awakening at the age of 16, whereupon he left his family. He existed for years within a deep samadhi, barely conscious enough to eat or drink. He spoke very little and preferred to communicate through the essence of silence, yet people experienced a silent flow of power. His primary teaching was silence and maintained that consciousness alone exists.  He encouraged self-enquiry and self-surrender as the two methods to truly connect with the underlying Self.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Ramakrishna was the original gangster of Guru’s, so to speak.

A legend, he was not a proponent of any one tradition or religion but saw equal value in all of them and sought to experience the sacredness of all of them. “He experienced all religions as a single spectrum of wisdom and devotion, as a communion of the Divine with the Divine in which both worshiper and worshiped emerge from the same Ultimate Consciousness” (Hixon 25).

Neem Karoli Baba Picture

Neem Karoli Baba

One of the most well-known gurus of our time, Neem Karoli Baba, also called Maharaj-ji, rose in popularity with westerners in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. He was a saint who performed countless miracles as told by devotees and fellow Indians. 

Said to be the incarnation of Hanuman, Maharaj-ji loved everyone without discrimination. His message was simple, love all, feed all, and serve all. Neem Karoli Baba is the true embodiment of devotion. He made followers feel loved unconditionally, something that most had never felt before. Devotees tell stories of meeting Neem Karoli Baba and feeling like they finally found what they had been looking for, a feeling of home. Remarkably, he had a significant impact on everyone he encountered and forever changed the course of their life.

Swami Muktananda Picture

Swami Muktananda

Swami Muktananda is one of the few Indian gurus who came to America in the ‘70s and went on many tours in the west. The founder of the Siddha Yoga spiritual path, Muktananda,  established quite a large following and founded several ashrams in America and worldwide.

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi Picture

Born: December 30, 1879
Tiruchuli, India

Died: April 14, 1950
Sri Ramanasramam,
Tiruvannamalai, India

In response to a devotee asking about what to do about Hitler marching, he said:

 There is a creator, he will take care of his creation. 

Ramana maintained that the direct path of self-enquiry was the most effective way to obtain enlightenment or self-realization. Unconventional, he veered away from using any subject-object meditation techniques and said it was only necessary to trace the source of “I”, the source of the mind, or the ego. Investigating by asking questions such as ”Who am I?” or “Who is asking?” one would find the source and merge with the Self. To him, scriptures and meditation techniques could be obstacles to self-realization, but he still claimed it was better to practice traditional forms of meditation rather than nothing at all.

The method of self-inquiry seems effortless and direct, yet because of that simplicity, impossible for most humans to fathom. Who would we be without “I,” our identity, our ego? This understanding is so challenging and beyond comprehension for so many of us. 

Be as you are: The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Edited by David Goodman is one of the most widely read books on Maharshi’s teachings. 

The state of self-realization, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been
(pg. 12)

For those who live in Self as the beauty devoid of thought, there is nothing which should be thought of. That which should be adhered to is only the experience of silence, because in that supreme state nothing exists other than oneself.
(pg. 13)

The Self you seek to know is truly yourself.
(pg. 23)

After self realization there is no thinker of thoughts, no performer of actions and no awareness of individual existence.
(pg. 48)

From where does this “I” arise? Seek for it within: it then vanishes. This is the pursuit of wisdom. When the mind unceasingly investigates its own nature, it transpires that there is no such thing as mind. This is the direct path for all.
(pg. 50)



JNANI: Sri Ramana Maharshi 


Who Am I?: The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Ramana Maharshi

Be as you are: The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Edited by David Goodman

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Born: February 18, 1836
Kamarpukur, India

Died: August 16, 1886
Kolkata, India

God Alone Is

Ramakrishna was the original gangster of Guru’s, so to speak.

A legend, he was not a proponent of any one tradition or religion but saw equal value in all of them and sought to experience the sacredness of all of them. “He experienced all religions as a single spectrum of wisdom and devotion, as a communion of the Divine with the Divine in which both worshiper and worshiped emerge from the same Ultimate Consciousness” (Hixon 25).

Ramakrishna was destined to be a saint and holy man, as both his parents had sacred visions of him being born. He lived at the Dakshineswar temple for most of his life, worshipping hindu godess Kali while intoxicated by her bliss. He “considered himself a child of Kali” and would “speak and act spontaneously as She spoke and acted through him” (Hixon 25).

Called the God-man, he was not a traditional preacher, yet people wanted to be around him as he pulled them into deep states of consciousness simply by being in his presence. He had no formal meditation practice but was so in tune that he would simply fall into deep samadhi, often triggered by the sadhana of other spiritual practitioners.

He transformed many already advanced practitioners into further enlightenment by helping them see an even broader and more all-encompassing view of consciousness. He liberated seekers from their sometimes strict and sometimes limiting spiritual perception.

Ramakrishna himself was a representation of supreme consciousness. “His guiding vision was that of the continuum of consciousness in which all forms or viewpoints take shape and dissolve like bubbles in the stream” (Hixon 25).

Not only would he merge with Kali, but with all Gods, sometimes with Shiva, or Krishna or Hanuman. He was an embodiment of them all and maintained that they were a manifestation of the unmanifest. All “divine forms, as well as the formless absolute Ramakrishna regarded as expressions of her [Kali]” (Hixon 38). Ramakrishna also regarded all women as manifestations of the divine mother.

Ramakrishna considered his disciple Narendra, who later became Swami Vivekananda, his spiritual son. For those of us in the United States, this is an important point as Swami Vivekananda was the first Indian Hindu leader that came to the west and held a memorable speech at the parliament of world religions in Chicago in 1893. So the first influence we had was the influence of Ramakrishna.

Getting to know Ramakrishna has been invaluable. His form was a vehicle for consciousness, and when you learn about him, you can feel it.

Quotes from – Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna by Lex Hixon

Instead of remaining obsessed with the mundane world, become obsessed with the ultimate experience – mystic union – not just for yourself but for all living beings. Rather than being proud of your natural gifts, be proud of your high spiritual calling. Thus, obsession, pride and other negative emotions will be radically transformed.
(pg. 187)

As long as you regard any event or activity of your life, including your physical body, as other than God, your mind will remain divided and the conscious union of shiva and shakti within the nerve channels of the subtle body will be impossible.
(pg. 187)

You should remain aware of God throughout the activity of daily life – thinking, perceiving, eating, walking, moving, talking, sitting, sleeping. Do not find fault with anyone, not even an insect. Pray fervently that your mind will become completely clear of habitual fault finding. Simple flutter your wings and shake off these drops of water called the conventional world.
(pg. 223)

At dusk, put aside all sense of finite responsibility and plunge into prayerful contemplation, just as devout Muslims do 5 times every day. One is reminded of the Divine Presence by the mysterious approach of evening, when one enters an entirely different mode of awareness than during daylight. Dark, overcast days are also conducive for meditation, for inwardness.
(pg. 223)

As hunger and thirst arise spontaneously, so does longing for God. It is simply a matter of time.Yearning for God- realization cannot arise until one has to some extent satisfied the desires for social existence or has seen through them and has been freed from them. Do not renounce desire by pressuring or forcing the mind. If the blossoms of gourds or pumpkins are removed prematurely, the fruit will not ripen. But when the fruit ripens properly, the flowers will naturally fall away. Call out every evening with a longing heart and hold on to Truth. You will eventually see God. Living consciously within God, you will not be overwhelmed by the inevitable misery of the world.
(pg. 223)



Coming Home by Lex Hixon 

The Gospel of Ramakrishna translated by Swami Nikhilananda

Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna by Lex Hixon

Ramakrishna and His Disciples by Christopher Isherwood

Ramakrishna –

CD: Mananam – Practice of Meditation By the Ramakrishna 

Neem Karoli Baba

Neem Karoli Baba Picture

Born: 1900
Akbarpur, India

Died: September 11, 1973
Vrindavan, India

Love Everyone, Serve Everyone, Tell the Truth, and Remember God.

If you remember me, I come to you.

He is the guru of well-known American Yogi’s Ram Dass, Krishna Das, and Jai Uttal. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Ram Dass introduced the west to Neem Karoli Baba. Ram Dass conveyed Neem Karoli Baba’s teachings, his essence of love to countless western spiritual seekers. Ram Dass wrote several books, including the spiritual classic “Be Here Now”, depicting his encounters with Mahara-ji. 

But once Krishna Das began to sing kirtan, Maharaj-ji influence began to spread and has had more impact on the modern yoga culture than most of us can even imagine. In Windfall of Grace 2:17; a documentary about Neem Karoli Baba, – Krishna Das says:

He said: remember God. For me he is God. And chanting the names, bring me deeper into his presence.

I’m serving maharaji, it looks like I’m singing to people, but I’m serving him. That’s by his grace, I’m serving him.. not by my own.

I’m just a transmitter, like a radio. He is the music. He is ever present everywhere all the time.

Without us even knowing it, through his music Krishna Das has for decades saturated his listeners with Hanuman’s and Maharaj-ji’s influence and infinite love. Every song Krishna Das sings is filled with his devotion to Maharaj-ji. 

It was my first meeting with Neem Karoli Baba’s energy that began my lifelong relationship with Hanuman. Before that day at a retreat with Ram Dass in 2007, and sitting in front of a large picture of Maharaj-ji and an even larger canvas of Hanuman, I had never even known who either of them was. After that moment, my life changed forever. A new understanding came to pass, inspired by Hanuman, and that energy of love that is Neem Karoli Baba.


Books: Miracle of Love by Ram Dass


Windfall of Grace 

Ram Dass, Fierce Grace 

American Yogi 

One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das

Ashram in Taos:

Songs: Ram Ram Ram by Jai Uttal 

Swami Muktananda

Swami Muktananda Picture

Born: May 16, 1908
Mangalore, India
Died: October 2, 1982
Mumbai, India

God dwells within you as you

Swami Muktananda is one of the few Indian gurus who came to America in the ‘70s and went on many tours in the west. The founder of the Siddha Yoga spiritual path, Muktananda, established quite a large following and founded several ashrams in America and worldwide.

He was a Siddha Yogi, a yogi with exceptional powers, known for his  extraordinary ability to perform shakti-pat. Devotees experienced an infusion of energy from him that transformed their lives in ways hard to understand with the traditional mind. This infusion opened their eyes to a greater reality, one beyond our material world.

Muktananda was a great proponent of meditation. He was a non-dualist, maintaining that all is one, all is Shiva – even our thoughts. His message was simple: “Meditate: Happiness Lies Within You.” He insisted that by getting to know one’s own mind and inner self, one would understand the Self. With time, we would come to “understand the Self as the witness of the mind” (Muktananda xiv). Muktananda described the mind as “nothing but a contracted form of the supreme Consciousness that has created the universe” (Muktananda 20).

The fundamental message of Siddha Yoga is contained in this statement Baba Muktanada made again and again during his life:

Meditate on your Self.
Worship your Self.
Love your Self.
God dwells within you as you.

– Nothing Exists That Is Not Siva
by Swami Muktananda
(pg. xvii)

Many veteran yoga teachers have been influenced by Muktananda, whether they know it or not. For example, Anusara yoga, a style of yoga that became well-known in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, was founded by John Friend, another devotee of Muktananda. 

Muktananda has been integral to my journey as he is the Guru of my teacher Sally Kempton. Sally has a tremendous Muktananda transmission, and through her, I have experienced his considerable energy and influence. Through her transmission, I have felt his energy of complete stillness and his essence as Shiva.

Quotes from – Meditate: Happiness Lies Within You by Swami Muktananda

This inner universe, Muktananda tells us, “is much greater than the outer universe; it is so vast that the entire outer cosmos can be kept in just one corner of it.”
(pg. xv)

Only in meditation can we see the inner Self directly. That which lives in the heart cannot be found in books.
(pg. 4)

If we had the right understanding, we could experience God right away. If the sun is out and we go outside, we see it immediately. How much time does it take to see the sun when it is shining in the sky? In the same way, the light of God is shining within us all the time. How long should it take us to perceive that line which shines at every moment in our hearts. This is why the scriptures say that we meditate not to attain God but to perceive the God who is already within us.
(pg. 12)

You should understand, “I am Shiva – God. It is God who is meditating, and all the objects of my meditation are God. My sadhana is God, and everybody and everything I see is God. (pg. 32)


Official website of of Swami Muktanada


Meditate: Happiness Lies Within You by Swami Muktananda 

Nothing Exists That Is Not Siva by Swami Muktananda 

Play of Consciousness by Swami Muktananda

I am that by Swami Muktananda

Chants: Swami Muktananda chanting the Guru Gita.

Awakening 101 Logo

Abdi Assadi is unlike any other healer or spiritual teacher ever encountered. He is an expert in martial arts, and a dynamic healer practicing a diverse array of Chinese and Eastern Medicine, indigenous shamanic rituals, and meditation techniques. With a clinical practice in New York City for almost 4 decades, Abdi has accumulated a vast knowledge of real life experience working with several thousands of individuals, guiding them through the most difficult times, and teaching them how to understand themselves. One of the greatest things about him is he merges the human psyche with the spiritual psyche.

Steeped in deep wisdom and insight that is rare to find on this planet in these modern times, Abdi has an extraordinary ability in perceiving and comprehending human souls and their individual psyche. Guided by the divine, Abdi guides you to open up and see beyond your limited Self, into your own soul. His impeccable discernment enables him to unleash personal remarks that pierce through your veil, statements that you will never forget and in an instant alter your perception of yourself and your reality.

– Quotes from Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi:

All spiritual masters teach us that love is an activity before it is a condition – and that love is all-encompassing.
Page 18

It felt like I was coming off a race track and driving in a school zone. He knew, years before I did, that my speed was my way of suppressing my early childhood anxiety, and that only slowing down could heal it.

Why do you need to use all these words like God and spirituality? It is right here Abdi, all around you, all the time
Page 40

one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
Page 51

Ultimately it keeps grace out of our lives because we are using our will power to manipulate every event and person around us.
Page 74

His lesson, which I had begun to learn for myself, is that outside circumstances do not define our internal experience if we can surrender into them. Painful or undesirable situations will always arise; true suffering comes from our ego’s desire to resist life as it is.
Page 77

Note from Pernilla:
I met Abdi in the fall of 2014 and when I arrived in his office the first thing he said was, “It’s time that you stop carrying other people’s anxiety.” In the year that followed, my entrenched codependency patterns reared their ugly heads and I was confronted with a part of myself that I had never even known was there.

A few years later, Abdi said, “When are you going to start writing your book?”I looked at him in surprise. I was not a writer. My expertise was centered around creating crazy good Excel spreadsheets. However, I started writing and collecting notes about life issues and life experiences … and here we are a few years later.

Sally Kempton is a preeminent meditation teacher of our time.

She is an expert scholar in Hinduism and all Hindu texts especially in Kashmir Shaivisim. Formerly Swami Durgananda, she left monastic life in the 1980’s to teach publicly. She has written several books and is one of the most known and loved spiritual teachers in our time.

Note from Pernilla:

I met Sally at one of her workshops at City Yoga in LA in 2003. She had the most gentle and loving disposition, and I just wanted to always be around her. I was fortunate to have been part of her two year-long “Transformative journey” courses in 2006 and 2007 and many retreats ever since. She is the true representation of unconditional love and transmits intense shakti from her Guru Swami Muktananda.

Sally is the primary building block and foundation in my spiritual journey. Without her, I would have never found and stuck with meditation – the most transformative experience of my life. Without her, I would have been lost without a clue where to go next. Her wealth of knowledge of yogic philosophy and incredible understanding of the human condition is what makes her a force to be reckoned with.  She understands your depth and makes you feel seen, heard, validated, and deeply loved.