Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. How I started spiritual practice
- 3. Spiritual experiences and realisations on the importance of spiritual practice
- 4. Undergoing destiny
- 5. Harsh destiny decreasing due to spiritual practice
- 6. Transformation begun
- 7. Staying in SSRF Spiritual Research Center
- 8. Meeting H.H Dr Athavale
- 9. Reaching 61% spiritual level
Faith in God’s presence was instilled in me while I was still very young.
Later on, in order to survive, my father decided to join the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (in those days) and from that point onwards mentioning God in our house was forbidden.
My grandmother secretly taught me how to pray and told me stories about God. Sometimes, she would secretly take me to a church.
During my childhood I was afraid to stay alone at home. I was frequently ill and whenever I had a fever, I had the same horrible dreams and was afraid that I would die. At that time I liked to sleep with my grandmother as she would say prayers to God before sleeping. I remember that I didn’t want to fall asleep until I heard grandma mentioning my name in her prayer, asking God to protect me. Only after that was I able to sleep peacefully. As a result, a strong impression was created in my mind that God exists and protects us.
I remember that later on as an adult, whenever I was afraid in some situation, I had a strong feeling that God is with me.
Additionally, for a long time I had the feeling that life has a higher purpose than just merely living life, but I couldn’t understand what it was. I searched through many books and went to different lectures but what I was getting there was only a small piece of what I was really looking for.
2. How I started spiritual practice
In 2007, SSRF conducted a lecture on Spirituality in my city. It was the first time that I attended such an event. They talked about God in a manner that I could understand. I learned what chanting the Name of the God is and I started chanting immediately. Within a very short period of time, I experienced the benefits of chanting and I felt the desire to chant more and more. At the lecture I also heard about the SSRF website and I visited it right after the lecture.
I was impressed to learn that this website has only been made possible due to the grace of His Holiness Dr. Athavale, the source of inspiration of SSRF who works tirelessly for humanity and guides all spiritual research at SSRF.
I had a strong desire to become a part of the team of seekers from all over the world who are involved in the functioning of the website and who are doing this as a part of their service unto the Absolute Truth (satsēvā).
The SSRF website provided me with answers about the root causes behind various problems in my life and gave me practical solutions on how to overcome them.
3. Spiritual experiences and realisations on the importance of spiritual practice
When I started spiritual practice in 2007, I had my first spiritual experiences.
- One morning, while I was walking on the street on my way to satsang, I smelled the fragrance of sandalwood. I turned around to find the source of this fragrance but I could not find one. The fragrance followed me while I traveled on the bus. I asked people around me if they could smell a nice fragrance, but their answer was no. I took deep breaths and had a wish that this fragrance last forever.
I shared this experience at the satsang. More advanced seekers told me that I had a spiritual experience and explained to me that God gives us spiritual experiences to show us that we are on the right track and to increase our faith in spiritual practice.
One night I was returning from a trip alone. I noticed that suddenly chanting became automatic and started happening somehow from within. I was completely calm and relaxed. Once I arrived home, I was surprised because the time had passed so quickly. I looked at a watch and realised that quite a lot of time had passed during my travel but I did not have any awareness of that time, whereas before I used to think while traveling ‘when will I finally reach home’.
- Once when I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, I mechanically looked at the mirror. I saw the smiling face of H.H. Dr. Athavale. I closed my eyes and looked again and He was still smiling. I smiled as well.
From that day onwards, whenever I passed near that mirror I would remember that spiritual experience and smile.
Spiritual experiences strengthened my faith in spiritual principles and motivated me to continue to practice them. SSRF helped me to better understand earlier spiritual experiences and to open doors for new ones. From that point on, my life went into a completely new direction.
4. Undergoing destiny
I had a feeling that different events in my life started happening faster. It was impossible to go through all those events but by some miracle I was getting through. (SSRF Editor’s note: When a seeker with intense desire starts spiritual practice, God helps him/her to undergo destiny faster and easier.)
I lived in a family with a husband and four children. I had a job that carried a lot of responsibility. Sometimes I worked 24 hours a day. Somehow I had the energy for it. Problems I had with my husband from the beginning of our marriage now became more frequent and severe. (SSRF Editor’s note: This was happening also due to destiny.)
Because of the daily stress at work and at home, colloid cysts appeared on my thyroid gland. I was managing to calm down through chanting and prayers, so as to escape having a nervous breakdown. Cysts on the gland didn’t disappear and I had to visit a doctor. He told me that these cysts were created as a consequence of permanent exposure to stress but that my condition was still not alarming. He also told me that by exercising self-control I could prevent development of a disease and that I had to find some ‘time for myself’.
I realized that God had already made that ‘time’ for me. From that point on, I began to do much more intense spiritual practice under the guidance of SSRF.
Besides chanting and prayers, I was applying salt water treatment twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. Worries and fears arising from my tiring job decreased after I applied autosuggestions that were recommended by more advanced seekers. (SSRF Editor’s note: Maria had begun Personality defect removal and ego removal aspects of spiritual practice on the Path of Guru’s grace at that time.)
The situation at home was worsening and more and more often, quarrels with the husband were ending in physical violence. In those situations, my chanting and prayers to God to protect me were increasing. Many times when I cried for God’s help – God protected me. This experience further increased my faith in God and my yearning for God grew more and more.
In this running from one situation to the other, I ran into a serious traffic accident. I only remember that while falling under a truck I cried out, “O God, what am I to do” and heard Him saying “Scream” and I did. People around heard me and they stopped the truck. I ended up in a hospital. Everyone wondered how I remained alive. I was the only one who knew that ‘the miracle’ that saved me was God.
5. Harsh destiny decreasing due to spiritual practice
After that event, I decided to leave my job and get a divorce. I went to another city to a friend and as of June 2012, I started a new life. It was a life with the purpose of God-realization. I started using all my free time only for spiritual practice.
I joined the team of seekers of God who work for the SSRF website as a part of their service to God. My service unto the Absolute Truth involves coordinating translations of articles for the Serbian SSRF website.
6. Transformation begun
While doing spiritual practice under the guidance of SSRF, I learned practical steps I could take to initiate fundamental changes in myself, to make spiritual experiences durable, and to make my life richer and filled with purpose.
Like many seekers, the spiritual journey I started under the guidance of SSRF became the most exciting and fulfilling journey, one that I had yearned for my entire life.
7. Staying in SSRF Spiritual Research Center
In July 2012 I went to the SSRF research center with a group of seekers and I stayed there for two months. The seekers from the SSRF center welcomed us on arrival with smiles full of love. I felt that ‘I came home’.
Although I didn’t speak English, I learned soon that it was not so important, as the language of communication here was the language of love. We spoke with eyes full of love. (SSRF Editor’s note: Seekers are connected with the same aim of realising God in this life due to which a lot of spiritual love without expectations is felt in the SSRF Spiritual Research Center.)
We had many opportunities to recognize different forms of this love: in fellow seekers’ care that we not miss anything we might need, in eyes full of understanding that were always ready to help and in learning many new things and sharing experiences that helped us in our spiritual practice. I felt refreshed and blissful all the time. For the first time I felt what is a ‘thoughtless state’. While chanting, I noticed that my concentration was much better. My mind was able to enter a thoughtless state much faster. Then I could see much easier the mistakes I made and what defects were causing these mistakes. And all I did was to pray from the bottom of my heart. All that time I felt immense gratitude and had intense desire to serve God and that everything I do should be service unto the Absolute Truth.
8. Meeting H.H Dr Athavale
I was impressed when I saw Him for the first time. While He was talking to us, I felt some strange connection with Him and had an internal desire to become and be natural like Him.
I felt such gratitude that I cried every day out of spiritual emotion (bhāv). While staying in the center, I had the opportunity to see a doctor for all my health problems. While performing my health check-up, the doctor noticed that I have the ‘Om’ sign on my tongue.
Presence of the Divine symbol on my body filled me with spiritual emotion of gratitude even more. (SSRF Editor’s note: Such Divine changes on the body are happening due to spiritual emotion of seekers on this path and the grace of the Guru principle. Please read our article on Divine changes on the body of the spiritually evolved to understand this phenomenon further.)
I visited the SSRF research center two more times. Every visit was different and every time I learned something new. I learned to recognize the difference between thoughts coming from God and thoughts that were coming from negative energies. After spiritual healing measures, these thoughts were disappearing very fast. The strength and frequency of these thoughts rapidly decreased. It became very easy to recognize the source of these different thoughts: whatever is positive comes from God and whatever is negative comes from negative energies.
I learned that it is very easy for negative energies to use my personality defects, emotional nature and ego to destabilize my mind and obstruct my spiritual practice. With God’s grace, through the intensive process of removal of personality defects and ego, I learned how to recognize this quickly and how to apply spiritual healing measures.
For example, in the past when I made a mistake, I would become very upset and keep thinking about the mistake and its consequences. I would have negative thoughts about myself, shut down and fall into depression. With regular spiritual practice and measures advised by SSRF, my approach to life situations became better. Now, it is easier for me to accept my mistakes and I make more efforts not to repeat the same mistakes. And above all, I am not falling into depression. Instead of harboring negative thoughts, now I can only observe the situation as a third person and find God’s teaching in it.
I noticed that I am changing through this process and that from the closed, indisposed, insecure and depressed person I used to be, I am becoming more open, curious, joyful and ready to help others. I prayed to God intensely, asking Him to use these qualities that He developed in me for my further spiritual growth and for the advancement of other seekers. And God was doing it. I only had to make a small step towards God, and God did the rest. (SSRF Editor’s note: In March 2014 H.H. Dr. Athavale said that Maria is in a continual state of spiritual emotion that is visible on her face.)
By doing spiritual practice, God convinced me that deep inside each one of us there is the most supreme form of happiness called Bliss and we only need to strive to reach that natural state of Bliss, the state that I am now experiencing every day.
I am immensely grateful to God for this grace.
– Ms. Maria Vidakov, Serbia, EU
9. Reaching 61% spiritual level
On 30 November, 2014 Maria was declared to have reached the 61% spiritual level during a spiritual workshop for seekers in Serbia. It is due to God’s grace and her qualities such as humility, love for others and spiritual emotion that Maria has passed through so many difficulties in life and become liberated from the cycle of birth and death. We pray that seekers all over the world learn from her efforts and make rapid spiritual progress like Maria.