Omega: How did you come to be a spiritual teacher at such a young age? Did you have a religious upbringing?
Panache: I am Indian and I grew up in England. My mother visited India when she was three months pregnant to reconnect with our family’s spiritual lineage. She was told at that point I was coming back for a very specific purpose—to facilitate God’s work. She had dreams and insights about me even before I was born.
My family is deeply devotional and I was surrounded by people who meditated, chanted, and prayed. At some point I began to realize that everyone was involved in an external pursuit of God, but for me, I was internally experiencing God all the time. I would see God in everyone and could not understand why they didn’t see it in themselves.
Having this awareness wasn’t easy and I often felt alone and isolated. It’s almost like I had no business knowing what I knew and having the glimpse into reality that I had, but I did. I didn’t know what to do with it for many years. I rebelled and felt isolated and there were times I would look at the sky and say, “What kind of gift is this?” Through it all I could see the vibrational essence of who people were and that they were afraid to see their own brilliance. The more I embraced my own gift, the more I was able to help others see, experience, and access their own divinity.
Omega: You are among a new generation of spiritual teachers. How do you think our need for spiritual teachings has changed?
Panache: We’re now moving into an experiential phase of spiritual exploration where we tangibly feel the presence of the divine within us. In the American spiritual landscape, all of the information, wisdom, books, seminars, and lectures of the past were necessary so people could relax on a mental level into their magnificence.
Omega: How has the role of the teacher changed? How do you see your role as a teacher?
Panache: My role is simply to hold space and be present for people and to embody the vibrational resonance of love and acceptance, which ultimately allows them to facilitate themselves. I’m here to help people remember who they are by being myself, being available and vulnerable, and meeting people where they are. Then they realize that it’s okay for them to be themselves, too. When I’m sitting in the room with people all we are doing is remembering this truth together.
Omega: Earlier spiritual teachers tended not to have families, to be more monastic. You are married and a father, as are other teachers today. How does that change your teaching?
Panache: I think of the world as my monastery. I love being in the world. I love fully engaging in the world. For me, the greatest blessing of all is being human. I love it. I love being married. I love being a dad. I love every single facet of life. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to have the experience of being human, not to repress it, suppress it, or in some way avoid it. As I experience life myself, I am able to relate more to everyone because I share a similar experience of life.
Omega: What do you see when you look at someone? You seem to have the capacity to see the whole of someone but to focus on what’s true and good in him or her.
Panache: What I see vibrationally is the core essence of who people are—their brilliance. But most people are afraid to be that. Instead, how they show up in life is not in harmony with the greater principle that’s inside them. I just keep coming back to that foundational truth of who everybody is at the deepest level. And somehow my seeing that and continually holding that vision and staying rooted in that truth allows them to begin to see it, too. Then, the loneliness, sadness, anger, insecurity—or whatever it is that’s going on—just becomes a part of their experience instead of dominating their focus.
Vibrational transformation gives people access to their essence so that their divinity can become their reality. When a person suddenly realizes, “I am not my story,” or “My sadness is a part of me but not the whole picture,” that’s when something profound happens. That’s when people give up their need to compensate for their feelings, heal themselves, fix themselves, or change themselves, and they begin to accept and embrace themselves, allowing the energetic completion of the perceived challenge to occur, and harmony and balance to be restored.
Omega: If that’s how we accept ourselves, what do we do when someone or some situation irritates, offends, or hurts us? How can we accept that?
Panache: Try to think of those people or situations as blessings. They’re opportunities to complete everything that’s unresolved within you. We don’t usually recognize the blessing and instead go into a defensive posture, deflect the attention, or inflate ourselves above the hurt we’re actually feeling.
Meanwhile, living is actually the best spiritual retreat you could have—and it’s free! Let life push your buttons and get present to what’s going on underneath, you’ll often find that when you’re triggered you will uncover some anger or sadness you haven’t allowed yourself to experience. Your life is naturally trying to bring you into a state of completion.
Omega: How do you know when you should stay in a situation or it’s time to move on?
Panache: There’s an internal pull that says you have to move on. You either keep being triggered, or the person or situation transforms before your eyes. It’s not ambiguous. It’s not a secret message that you have to decipher. Once you’ve truly relaxed into what’s going on, there will come a point when you know you’re done and you won’t look back. But even if you move on before you’ve resolved your triggers, don’t worry; you’ll soon have another opportunity to work it out!
Omega: People generally seem to think of spiritual practice as a serious, high-stakes endeavor, but you seem to have an awful lot of fun!
Panache: We’ve made “finding ourselves” something that you have to attain, something that you have to strive for and work hard at. I’ve always had a childlike approach to exploring myself. If people knew how much fun it could be, more people would do it! When you have fun and can laugh at something you once made significant you become lighthearted and it doesn’t have any power over you anymore.
Omega: If you could share one thought with those who don’t know you, what would it be?
Panache: Where you are right now and what you’re experiencing right now is not a mistake. Instead of trying to improve it or fix it or change it, it’s important to understand that life is not the enemy. In fact, everything that’s happening in your life is happening for you and the more you can recognize that everything is happening for you, the more you can begin to realize the wholeness and completion that you already are.
Instead of being victimized by life and life’s events, including whatever is going on in the world, take a look at what it brings up inside of you because right then, in each moment, is the only place where you can resolve it. Have the courage to feel, to be vulnerable, to have tough conversations. Have the courage to be you and recognize beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are not a mistake, that you’re not broken. Ultimately, you’ll be able to smile and see the innate perfection in it all.
© 2013 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies