Note – Thanks to Amaryllis for a review copy. The opinions are my own.
Home at Last is the kind of book which works best for someone who is looking to take a leap into the higher consciousness and finding the true self. I had my doubts about the book thinking I won’t be able to relate to anything the author said because unlike her I’m not on a quest to attain higher consciousness. But I’m aware of some niggling questions which have lingered in my psyche for years and they don’t have easy answers. In that respect, Home at Last was a step in the right direction.
It is funny how things find you when you are ready. The opportunity to review Home at Last – A Journey to Higher Consciousness came my way when I was in Puttaparthi, one of the places the author Sarada Chiruvolu, felt compelled to visit after her spiritual awakening. I was there as a volunteer this time and not as a tourist although that wasn’t my initial plan. Volunteering changes the way one looks at things because being on the inside the perspective changes, and thus I could identify better with the book.
It’s a blessing just to be given the opportunity to be of compassionate service.
The first chapter follows the foreword by Amma Karunamayi, her guru. She tells the readers how she began her journey and shares her experience while meditating. She ends the chapter with some tips concerning the frame of mind or the things one needs to do to mediate better.
This is not a how to book in the conventional sense, mainly because the path to enlightenment can’t be laid out like directions in a cookbook, step by step with exact measurements. However the book provides essential signposts of progress based on my own direct experience.
Sarada Chiruvolu makes that clear in the introduction itself and it sets the tone for the rest of the book.
In the next chapter she talks about Reiki healing and how after initiation by a Reiki master she healed herself and others including her husband. After learning Reiki she feels more compassionate towards anyone who is suffering. You can scoff at the statement but I know people like that.
In the chapter ‘Renunciation and Detachment’ she talks about how being in nature and meditating outside has a calming effect on her. I worship nature so I was delighted to have this in common with the author.
I can’t express profoundly enough in words the attachment I have with nature.
I like the way she explains free will, karma and destiny even though parts of it were unclear to me.
She found her guru in Amma Karunamayi but she doesn’t follow her blindly. She visits the ashram for meditation retreats but remains true to her duties in the material world. Later on we see that she finds it increasingly hard to balance both the worlds. The author, in narrating her experiences gives us a peek into the relationship she has with her guru and the ashram’s inner workings. As she starts meditating twice a day she talks about an inexplicable sadness taking root in her and losing interest in her job and other day to day activities as she progresses, which used to give her pleasure earlier.
…aligning yourself with whatever philosophy from whichever guru or seer or enlightened person makes sense to you.
I appreciate the author telling the readers to experience it for themselves because it will be different for every person, and to connect with what feels right.
Her primary focus is meditation and reaching an elevated state through it. Her insights into consciousness are scientific and practical which people can easily follow. She also talks about pranayama in terms of energy levels.
Without devotion no growth or movement along the path is possible.
I like how the author expressed what devotion meant to her. The author doesn’t worship pictures of the gods and goddesses or chant mantras but she talks about the energy they have. Different people seek solace in different things. Being where we are in the world, and without renouncing the world we can hope to achieve peace by following our own methods or doing something which gives us fulfillment. Isn’t that all we are seeking from life?
Throughout her journey she visits various places she is drawn to because of their spiritual energy. She talks about these places in brief but they weren’t as insightful as the rest of the book.
I set out on a journey to visit the sacred places of India and to meet with other spiritual masters and teachers…a common desire to be with people on a similar level of consciousness is very understandable. That’s only natural, just as writers and and artists like to associate with each other.
Reading about her experience when she was physically in pain after Kundalini was unleashed and energy was coursing through her body, is nothing like I have read before. You can see the inner turmoil of the author as she goes further on her journey. The author frequently puts forth the point about having sound mental and physical health to be able to withstand pain and the rigours of the awakening. Sharing her journey will help people get an idea of what they might be dealing with when they are on their own quest for higher consciousness.
Perhaps being pain free isn’t the goal. It is living with pain and everything else life throws at you. Focusing on the positive but not running away from negative, neither embracing it but letting it run its course or fight it when needed. This is what reading Home at Last left me with.
In the chapter on God realization she talks about Turiya state and the seven planes of consciousness which was beyond my understanding. Reading about different kinds of samadhi states was a bit disconcerting perhaps because my feet are firmly entrenched in the material world. And the author’s experience of what it’s like to live in the material world after the realization of Truth in the chapter, ‘The Upside and Downside of Realization’ is one of my favourite chapters in the book.
The addition of the ‘Afterword’ was a stroke of genius because it gives the reader an insight into the author’s background, and a window into her life before she was on the spiritual path.
The book is intensely personal because it’s the author’s journey though it’s well balanced by other perspectives. In some places the book felt like the author was regurgitating facts because she was trying so hard to be authentic but her experience comes across as real, and that’s where the strength of the book lies.
In the foreword by her guru, the author says Telugu is a dialect that is spoken in the south of India. Telugu is a language and South of India is a huge place. The author speaks the same language as her guru so this factual error could have been easily avoided.
The author is blessed with good health and is mindful of what she eats, conserving her energy to focus on meditation rather than it being diverted for digestion. She finds it hard to empathise with people who are seekers but have diseases like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, and her casual dismissal that they don’t take their health seriously was off putting.
The author Sarada Chiruvolu has a rare humility about her which allows the reader to walk with her on her path and see what she experiences, without feeling like an outsider. Following the author on her journey I could see some changes in the way I viewed the world. So the book will remain special to me, and the soul of the book is something I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.