Disclaimer: This blog post contains various links that I am not affiliated with. I decided to include them for educational purposes. I am also in no way shape or form personally connected to ISKCON or any other religious organisation and I do not represent them.
I’ve always been interested in different cultures and religions. I’ve always been fascinated by certain practices that some religions use as a way to achieve a higher consciousness. Some tribes drink plant-based drinks that make you hallucinate, people in Hinduism and Buddhism meditate and the Dervish whirl around.
I enjoy studying things like that, I really like learning about new things because I’m fascinated by it. Growing up I wasn’t overly religious, my mums side of the family consists of christians and my dads family is muslim. One of my first ever memories is from one of the times my dad took me to our local mosque, I must’ve been around 1.5 years at the time. What I’m trying to say here is, I grew up with two religions without being very religious myself, even tho I used to always ask my family questions about certain rituals, suras or verses from the bible.
I do believe in some higher power, energy or being being behind the existence of the universe. I do believe in evolution but I also believe in some kind of creator of the universe.
Besides that mosque memory another very early childhood memory of mine is one of being at the place of one of my uncles. He had this massive orange wall cloth which had some stuff written on it. Me being a kid, I obviously couldn’t read it but I can remember asking my uncle to read it to me which he did. That was the first time I ever heard the Maha Mantra. Again, I must’ve been around three or four years old at that time, I didn’t make anything of it, I’m not even sure why I remember that day so clearly to be honest.
Moving on to 10 or 11 year old me, my mum gave me this book called „City Indians“ by Chris Wroblewski which is about youth tribes like punks, skins, krishnas, sics, etc. Ever since I was really little I remember my mum having colorful hair and my dad wearing Dr. Martens and stripey jeans, which means I was already used to the piercings, mohawks and tattoos shown in the book. Another „tribe“ that I immediately recognised were the Krishna’s tho, because I could remember my uncle being one of them. So I proceeded to ask my parents questions on them, concerning their religion and their appearance. I also went to the public library and got myself a Bhagavad Gita. Reading the Bhagavad Gita was a struggle, not only did I have to read it in English, which forced me to look every other word up, it is also a very philosophical. The end oft he story was that I ended up reading it about three times (it has more than 700 pages) and I didn’t even get half of what the Bhagavad Gita is talking about.
What I did take from it tho, is meditation. I started meditating, I at least tried to. I wasn’t very successful and that’s why I stopped meditating after a while.
Life moved on, I moved into a punk squat and I focused most of my energy on politics, trying to make the world a better place really. I didn’t meditate, but I was still very interested in different religions and in a spiritual lifestyle. I was interested in everything, I snuck into the library to read books about all kinds of things but I wasn’t actively doing something with my own life. I was just on this pretty intense self-education trip.
One oft he guys I lived with in the Squat was very interested in eastern religions and especially hinduism. He knew a lot of things I didn’t and we would spent hours together just talking about different Hindu religions.
Couple of years later I found myself in London, London is known to be a melting pot for different cultures and people, there’s nothing and nobody you can’t find in London. At that time I wasn’t really that interested in religion. I was really into all kinds of subculture, political activism and body modification. That is until I started spending more and more time in Camden.
If you’ve ever been to London you probably know what I am talking about. Chances that you’ll encounter at least a small group of Hare Krishna’s walking the streets of Camden Town chanting are pretty high. I ended up seeing them what felt like every day, I didn’t try to talk to them or anything because they were busy chanting the Maha Mantra and I was busy being with mates.
I mean I knew who they were, I knew the basics of why they were doing what they were doing but it still peaked my interest. One day, when I was on my way back home, there was this one Hare Krishna guy distributing the Bhagavad Gita just outside my tube station and I ended up with a Bhagavad Gita myself. I didn’t read it for like a year because I was still traumatised from my first three experiences of trying to read it. When I did end up reading it I couldn’t stop. I was reading constantly. I also got the S’rîmad Bhâgavatam books from a friend and read them as well. Whilst I wasn’t really interested in the theological aspects of it I was really into the philosophical aspects. I mean the world we live in being an illusion (Maya) is pretty much a philosophical way to describe the Simulation hypothesis. Keep in mind that the Bahamas Gita is way older that this hypothesis tho!
The philosophical aspects really got me, and I talked to people I knew were also really into Philosophy about it and we just got really into it.
None of us ever went to a temple or did anything for religious reasons but we all started meditating.
I picked it back up and figured that it actually started to work for me. I also started doing yoga in the morning and I meditated in the evening and I was just feeling really good about everything really. I had to give the S’rîmad Bhâgavatam back to my mate, but I was fine with it, I mean I was kind of sad but the books weren’t mine and they’re pretty expensive. I didn’t end up buying them for myself because I was broke.
Couple of years later, I’m back in Germany and still meditating and practicing Yoga. At this point meditation works a lot better for me than in did when I first started. I feel like I am able to free my mind whilst meditating and it puts me in a very clear but relaxed state.
That’s when I decided to try Mantra Meditation. Guess which Mantra I decided to meditate with? The Maha Mantra, simply because it seems to always play some kind of role in my life and I had read so many books about Krishna conciousness that I just figured to put some of my „knowledge“ to use.
Well, meditating whilst chanting the Maha Mantra didn’t work out as I expected it to. I definitely did get into a meditative state but I also started seeing things. Seeing things during meditation, like colors or an eye isn’t that uncommon, it actually happens to a lot of people. It is basically your brain filling „gaps“ that you create by meditating. There are many spiritual and scientific explanations for what can cause these Hallucinations (Hypnagogia for example). It has happened to me before, because as stated earlier, it’s quite common and a totally normal thing that just happens.
What happened during the Mantra Meditation had never happened to me before tho. I didn’t see the things I usually see, I started seeing full-blown landscapes, places that I don’t actually remember being. I also saw people who I don’t think I know. The thing is, it can just be your subconsciousness showing you things that you’ve seen before but didn’t really register.
Anyways, I figured to just move on from it and I continued my Mantra Mediation Ritual. For a couple of weeks I did my daily Mantra Meditation with the Maha Mantra. The hallucinations during meditation didn’t stop tho, they seemed to become clearer. I did the next logical thing and switched to the “Om Mani Padme Hum” which is a Buddhist Mantra. Guess what? No weird hallucinations.
That really bugged me, I am a very logical thinker and I really want to know the cause of things so I went online and looked for an explanation. I couldn’t find anything.
The position I found myself in was quite weird, I had been meditation for years, I had experienced some very common hallucinations that you could easily explain and then I had these weirdly intense hallucinations which only occurred when I was chanting the Maha Mantra whilst meditating.
I like to get to the bottom of things, I really do. I don’t like not liking the answer to something. So I went on YouTube, and i searched up every single term I could think of that could maybe explain my experiences. Thais when I stumbled across Ananda Krsna a Hare Krishna Monk who makes YouTube videos. I ended up binge watching almost all of his videos, I watched them at home, on my way to work, whilst cleaning, whilst I taking a bath, etc. I was just constantly watching them because I was hoping for an explanation.
After watching about 300 of his 395 Videos (and some of them are like an hour-long) I still didn’t know what was going on. I decided to ask Ananda directly, simply because I figured that he could maybe be tell me something about this phenomenon. Hare Krishnas, or Krishna consciousness people chant the Maha Mantra every day. They do 16 rounds on a 108 bead Mala which means they repeat the Maha Mantra at least 1728 times a day. Ananda has also been living in different temples since 2001, he’s been studying and practicing a Krishna conscious lifestyle for much longer than I have. In my mind I was like, well if I can’t find an explanation or at least a theory for whatever this is I might just ask someone who knows way more than I do.
I reached out to him and told him about my situation. He got back to me two days after I reached out to him and his response was „I’m always here to help if someone needs my help but I can’t tell you much about that sadly. I can only tell you about my own spiritual practice and my own experiences and about what the Vedas explain. I don’t know what to make out of your described experiences and I don’t know where visions like that come from, I don’t know how or where to categorise them. Visions like that aren’t what we want to happen in our spiritual life, we want to develop love for Krishna (God) and a clear consciousness. I’m really sorry but I can’t tell you much about that (what you’ve experienced), just keep chanting and you’ll see how it all develops. If it gets worse or i fit gets better or if Krishna arranges other/different things for you but keep chanting. Primarily what we should do is listen (whilst chanting) we shouldn’t think or have visions whilst doing it“.
His reply didn’t include any real answer to my “problem” but at the same time I felt more confident about continuing Mantra meditation.
So far, nothing has changed. Im still having these weirdly intense hallucinations during chanting the Maha Mantra and they haven’t really „told“ or „taught“ me anything either. I mean, personally, I don’t really believe in things like that but I also haven’t found an explanation If one of you guys has ever experienced something like that please feel free to message me on here or on IG or whatever way you’re comfortable with. I’d be really interested in your experiences.
In the end, I maybe didn’t get the ultimate answer I was hoping for, but I did learn a lot about the Hare Krishna movement and I could also refresh and expand my knowledge concerning the Bhagavad Gita and the S’rîmad Bhâgavatam. I’m still very interested in religions in general and in spiritual practices. Even if my Maha Mantra Meditation experiences left me with more questions than answers, meditation itself is a very powerful, calming and freeing experience that I can only recommend. It’s definitly worth trying.
I also want to thank Ananda, for trying to help me unravel the “mysterious” hallucinations and for making me think about philosophy a bit more in daily life. Feel free to check out Anandas Youtube Channel if you want to learn more about the Hare Krishna movement or the philophical theories and thoughts behind it.
All the best to all of you!