Homage to Yogaswami

Even when Yogaswami was alive he had a considerable reputation in Sri Lanka and India as a truly enlightened sage. His devotees naturally tended to exaggerate his spiritual accomplishments. He had been hailed as the greatest seer the world had known since Shankara. There were skeptics who dismissed him as just another yogi with psychic powers. Even those who questioned whether he had been fundamentally transformed in the spiritual sense did nevertheless readily concede that he had extraordinary psychic powers.

Yogaswami was reputed to have been remarkably clairvoyant. He was known to disappear from one place in space and reappear at several places at the same time. Three of his devotees claimed to have met him at the same moment in time in places as far distant as Jaffna (Sri Lanka), Madras and London. One of his close friends recalled incidents that illustrated that anything wished by Yogaswami immediately materialised. For instance, this person had accompanied Yogaswami on a long walk in the country across many miles of rice fields. Yogaswami having experienced the pangs of hunger and fatigue, he had casually wished for a car to ride back to town. No sooner had he uttered this wish than there were several cars on the scene. The drivers of the cars were all requesting Yogaswami to step into their cars. The drivers were vying for the privilege of being of some assistance to the holy man. On this occasion Yogaswami had raised his hands and exclaimed how dangerous it was to wish! Spiritually liberated persons, I was told, were incapable of wishing in the psychological sense as their egos had dissolved but their wishes were confined to purely physical needs.

On another occasion, at the end of one of Yogaswami’s rare visits to Colombo, a large crowd of admirers had thronged a railway station in Colombo to see his departure. Some devotees were chanting hymns in Sanskrit and Tamil while a few others were offering him garlands of flowers. It was getting late and one of Yogaswami’s friends had alerted him to the importance of catching his train in time. “Don’t worry,” replied Yogaswami assuredly, “the train cannot leave without me.” That evening there had been engine trouble and the train failed to start at the right time. After leisurely greeting all his friends Yogaswami finally decided to enter his railway compartment and the train thereupon started to move.

Although I had heard of Yogaswami, there were several reasons why I had never felt a compelling urge to visit him up to the time of my interview. First, at that time I could not afford the train fare to Jaffna which is in the far North of Sri Lanka; second, it seemed to me then, as now, that one must discover God or Truth oneself and that no external agency could really help one in this matter; third, Yogaswami chased away most of his visitors. Many persons unfortunately regarded Yogaswami as a mere fortuneteller with the gift of making accurate forecasts. At one time Yogaswami had a stream of visitors every day from dawn to dusk. They came to him with various personal and other problems. Those who were privileged enough to be received by him usually regarded themselves doubly blessed. Some of those who were rebuked by Yogaswami regarded themselves spiritually chastised. If Yogaswami wished to avoid a visitor he was known either to disappear or to make himself invisible for long periods of time.

An interesting explanation of Yogaswami’s behavior is the following. The minds of human beings who are in bondage are in a state of animation — animated by karma in the Hindu-Buddhist sense. This karma is none other than the sum total of the innumerable psychological influences that have conditioned the mind and hence stand in the way of liberation. These psychological factors coalesce to create the delusion of the ‘I’ or the ego. Liberated persons, however, experience a state of pure consciousness owing to their transcending this shell of the self. It would be correct to describe the state of liberation as one of non-animation since a liberated mind would not be animated by karma. As a liberated mind is therefore comparable to inanimate matter, it could be animated or given momentum by a non-liberated mind that would necessarily be characterised by animation or karma. Besides, a liberated mind has the advantage of a mirror in which a non-liberated mind can see itself as it truly is.

Now, if Yogaswami seemed to lack an unchanging personality it was presumably because his ‘personality’ temporarily acquired the characteristics of his visitors. Not surprisingly, therefore, proud persons invariably found Yogaswami behaving arrogantly towards them. To those who were haunted by fears Yogaswami’s manner seemed timid. A South Indian sannyasi (recluse) had recited a stanza from the Bhagavad Gita to Yogaswami. Thereupon Yogaswami had repeated the stanza with alteration and clever puns upon certain words so that the sacred lines acquired an erotic significance. Yogaswami could not help doing that for he was merely reacting to the hidden sexual imagery in the unconscious mind of that recluse. Consequently, this ascetic like many other of Yogaswami’s visitors, was not only irritated but also embarrassed.

In a sense, Yogaswami was a Zen master who awakened people from their psychological slumber by shocking them without deliberately wishing to do so. The people of Jaffna held Yogaswami with a curious mixture of veneration, affection and fear. Some of his ardent admirers seemed more to fear than love him. To be received by Yogaswami it was necessary to approach him without any ulterior motive whatsoever. That motiveless state of pure being seemed the unattainable, the zenith of spirituality; indeed, if only one could attain that purified state of consciousness, would not one be oneself a Yogaswami? Now the lack of confidence in my ability to face Yogaswami without any recognisable motive was also an important reason why I had been curbing the desire to see him.

II

I had been walking a great distance along the seashore in Colombo. The fishermen were hurriedly pushing their boats on the sand before sunset at Dehiwala. Their cries and their baskets of fish disturbed the peacefulness of that quiet evening. So I walked away from them and chose an isolated spot on a rock facing the sea at Bambalapitiya. The skies were gradually getting lit with many colours owing to the setting sun. The evening was pleasantly cool and the soothing sea breeze had an exhilarating effect on one’s nerves. The ceaseless roar of the sea and the sight of the waves breaking against the rocks seemed an appropriate subject for contemplation.

Those tireless waves must have dashed against those rocks for millions of years but the rocks remained unyielding. Was not the spiritual quest of man throughout the ages also like that? Man endlessly searched and struggled to find Truth of God which seemingly remained unknown and mysterious. The sea is comparable to universal consciousness out of which waves or little egos spring. These waves dash against Truth and dissolve but only to become transformed again into other waves.

These were my thoughts when suddenly a very dark and elderly man approached me and almost demanded that I listen to him. I was rather taken aback. His manner was mildly aggressive but his attitude was on the whole kindly and sympathetic as I soon discovered.

“Young man,” he said, “why idle your time?” Our acquaintance quickly developed into a warm friendship. This person introduced himself as a retired government official who lived in Tellippallai (a village close to Jaffna) with his wife and family. Within minutes of knowing this person he was telling me about Yogaswami with great enthusiasm.

“It is disgraceful,” he observed, “that you haven’t bothered to visit our great sage who lives in this island.” This gentleman very kindly offered to pay my train fare to Jaffna and also invited me to live in his home as long as I wished.

We spent several eventful weeks together in Jaffna. He took me to all the famous Hindu temples in that part of the country including the Nallur temple. This person being a devout Hindu, he sincerely believed that it was necessary to purify me as a preparation for the forthcoming visit to Yogaswami. In the mornings before sunrise his wife would recite hymns from the Hindu scriptures. Frequently I had to dress in a white dhoti with sandalwood paste and holy ash applied liberally on my body as a necessary requirement before entering certain temples. I did not quite see the religious or spiritual significance of these rituals, but perhaps they added a certain colour to these otherwise drab and solemn occasions.

As the weeks passed by, much though I was enjoying the hospitality of my generous host, I was nevertheless beginning to feel rather impatient that we had not yet visited Yogaswami. I even wondered whether my friend was subtly trying to convert me to the Hindu way of life. In any case, such a course seemed pointless, as I was already rather sympathetic to Vedanta philosophy. Later I realised that my friend was sincere in his assurance that a preliminary period of preparation was absolutely essential before having an interview with Yogaswami.

Nearly a month passed and I was longing to return home to Colombo. As I was fast losing my earlier interest in Yogaswami, I finally decided to leave Jaffna without visiting him. When I broke the news of this decision to my friend he gleamed triumphantly.

“Ah, I think the right moment has come. Now that you are losing interest in him you are in a ready state to see him. We shall go tomorrow.”

After he had spoken I was convinced for the first time as to the real purpose underlying this long period of waiting and preparation. We decided to meet Yogaswami the following morning at sunrise, which was supposedly the best time for such a meeting.

III

It was a cool and peaceful morning except for the rattling noises owing to the gentle breeze that swayed the tall and graceful palmyrah trees. We walked silently through the narrow and dusty roads. The city was still asleep. Yogaswami lived in a tiny hut that had been specially constructed for him in the garden of a home in the city of Jaffna. The hut had a thatched roof and was on the whole characterised by the simplicity of a peasant dwelling. Yogaswami appeared exactly as I had imagined him to be like. He looked very old and frail. He was of medium height and his long grey hair fell over his shoulders. When we first saw Yogaswami he was sweeping the garden with a long broom. He slowly walked towards us and opened the gates.

“I am doing a coolie’s job,” he said. “Why have you come to see a coolie?” He chuckled with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. I noticed that he spoke good English with an impeccable accent. As there is usually an esoteric meaning to all his statements, I interpreted his words to mean this: “I am a spiritual cleanser of human beings. Why, do you want to be cleansed?”

He gently beckoned us into his hut. Yogaswami sat cross-legged on a slightly elevated platform and we sat on the floor facing him. We had not yet spoken a single word.

That morning we hardly spoke for he did all the talking. Talking to him was unnecessary for one had only to think of something and he replied instantaneously. I did not have to formulate my questions into words for Yogaswami was aware of my thoughts all the time.

After we had comfortably sat on the floor, Yogaswami closed his eyes and remained motionless for nearly half an hour. He seemed to live in another dimension of his being during that time. One wondered whether the serenity of his facial expression was attributable to the joy of his inner meditation. Was he sleeping or resting? Was he trying to probe into our minds? My friend indicated with a nervous smile that we were really lucky to have been received by him. Yogaswami suddenly opened his eyes. Those luminous eyes brightened the darkness of the entire hut. His eyes were as mellow as they were luminous – the mellowness of compassion.

I was beginning to feel hungry and tired and thereupon Yogaswami asked, “What will you have for breakfast?” At that moment I would have accepted anything that was offered but I thought of idly (steamed rice cakes) and bananas which were popular items of food in Jaffna. In a flash there appeared a stranger in the hut who respectfully bowed and offered us these items of food from a tray that he was holding. A little later my friend wished for coffee but before he could express his request in words the same man reappeared on the scene and served us with coffee.

After breakfast Yogaswami asked us not to throw away the banana skins which were for the cow. He spoke loudly to the cow that was grazing in the garden. The cow clumsily walked fight into the hut. He fed her with the banana skins. She licked his hand gratefully and tried to sit on the floor. Yogaswami held out the last remaining banana skin to the cow and said, “Now leave us alone. Don’t disturb us, Valli. I’m having some visitors.” The cow nodded her head in obeisance and faithfully carried out his instructions.

After the cow had left us Yogaswami closed his eyes again and he seemed once more to be lost in a world of his own. I was indeed curious to know what exactly Yogaswami did on these occasions by closing his eyes. I wondered whether he was meditating. It was an apposite moment to broach the subject but before I could ask any questions he suddenly started speaking.

“Look at those trees. The trees are meditating. Meditation is silence. If you realise that you really know nothing then you would be truly meditating. Such truthfulness is the right soil for silence. Silence is meditation.”

Yogaswami bent forward eagerly. “You must be simple. You must be utterly naked in your consciousness. When you have reduced yourself to nothing – when your ‘self’ has disappeared – when you have become nothing then you are yourself God. The man who is nothing knows God for God is nothing. Nothing is everything. Because I am nothing, you see, because I am a beggar – I own everything. So nothing means everything. Understand?”

“Tell us about this state of nothingness,” requested my friend with eager anticipation.

“It means that you genuinely desire nothing. It means that you can honestly say that you know nothing. It also means that you are not interested in doing anything about this state of nothingness.”

What, I speculated, did he mean by ‘know nothing’ – the state of ‘pure being’ in contrast to ‘becoming’?

“You think you know but in fact you are ignorant. When you see that you know nothing about yourself then you are yourself God.”

Yogaswami frequently alluded to this state of silence. He spoke of it as though it was his very life. To one who has not experienced this state of samadhi any description of it will necessarily remain an abstraction. In his presence one caught a fleeting glimpse of that bliss. Whether Yogaswami’s consciousness expanded to include those in his immediate presence or whether this feeling of indescribable elation or peaceful bliss or samadhi was based on self-deception is a matter that cannot be easily decided. Almost everything that Yogaswami said seemed so amazingly simple that one could not help becoming temporarily oblivious to the practical implications of his statements. Then, for a moment, as though to assert the independence of my mind, I tried to scrutinize his sayings in my mind without asking any questions.

Is this state an act of divine grace? Is it possible to induce this state in oneself? Does one come by this state accidentally without any exertion of will? Would not any attempt to induce silence inevitably activate the ego? Yogaswami, who was evidently aware of these doubts and difficulties, came to my assistance with an unforgettable pithy remark: “There is silence when you realise that there is nothing to gain and nothing to lose.”

Our conversation that was taking an interesting turn was interrupted by a man who walked into the hut. This person was apparently an ardent devotee of Yogaswami. He lit a candle, placed a few jasmine flowers on the floor and finally prostrated himself on the cold cement floor before kissing Yogaswami’s feet.

“Bloody fool!” yelled Yogaswami, “this is not an altar! Are you worshipping me or are you worshipping yourself? Why worship another?” The poor man withdrew into a corner of the hut with reverence and trembling.

“Do you think,” went on Yogaswami, “that you can find God by worshipping another? You do such silly, stupid things – offering flowers and lighting candles! Do you think that you can find God by giving bribes?”

In situations of this kind Yogaswami’s strictures did not appear to originate from his pedagogic role of a guru or spiritual teacher as many of his disciples would probably have supposed, but were rather the casual and incidental remarks of someone who was deeply moved by human folly. Indeed, Yogaswami discouraged the recording of his sayings, which he likened to rubbish that did not deserve preservation. He apparently regarded that the veracity of a spontaneously uttered statement depended on the unique and unrepeatable circumstances that gave rise to it.

Yogaswami waved his hands with disapproval at that man who had just worshipped him. The then pressed his quivering hands against his heart in an eloquent gesture and exclaimed loudly “Look! It is here! God is here! It is here!”

For a few moments he closed his eyes again. These interludes were probably intended to allow the meaning of his pronouncements to sink gradually into the minds of his listeners. There was a strange, majestic and Buddha-like dignity whenever Yogaswami closed his eyes in meditation – the erect spine and the cross-legged posture together with the face that was apparently asleep but yet supremely awake.

“The time is short but the subject is vast,” he whispered with extreme gravity. This enigmatic statement may mean that the subject of understanding God or reality is vast whereas the time at one’s disposal is so limited that it should not be wasted in unessentials such as rituals and ceremonies.

There was a question that I had hesitated to ask but it was an important one for me at that time: how does one overcome depression? No sooner had I formulated this question in my mind than Yogaswami answered it instantaneously.

“Now, what is depression? You mean pessimism, don’t you? Pessimism and optimism are the same. They are two sides of the same coin. You are not better off when you are pessimistic than when you are optimistic and you are also no better off when you are optimistic than when you are pessimistic. Optimism and pessimism as reflected in joy and sorrow are different angles from which you view life. But life is neither one nor the other. If you look at life exactly as it is and not from any angle, free from this duality, then life is neither pessimistic nor optimistic.”

As he was discoursing there walked in an elderly American lady who quickly removed her sandals and joined our company on the floor. The familiar manner with which she smiled with everyone present and the affectionate way in which she greeted Yogaswami indicated that she was probably a frequent visitor to the hut.

“What have you been up to?” Yogaswami asked her rather playfully.

“I’ve been to the Hindu temple in the neighborhood. It was so peaceful there.”

“You mean that stone temple?” asked Yogaswami laughingly. “You went to worship the stone gods in the stone temple! There is only one temple and that is the temple of yourself. And to find God you have to know this temple of yourself. There is no other temple. No one can save you!”

“What about Christ and Buddha? Can they not help us?” interjected the American lady. From her demeanor it was clear that her question was not motivated by a desire to elicit information but was rather the reaction to her wounded religious susceptibilities arising from Yogaswami’s remarks.”

“The Buddha and Christ saved themselves through their own efforts. Afterwards the priests got hold of the rubbish and propagated it. The priests played the fool. Each man for himself – in this spiritual business. Don’t believe anyone who promises to help you. No one will help because no one can. Another may point the way but you have to do the walking.”

As Yogaswami continued to talk we listened to him with rapt attention, devouring every word and treasuring every moment spent in that dingy hut. Several persons were not standing at the narrow entrance to the hut, which was fast becoming crowded.

“Why do you all come to see me?” It was a question that was addressed to everyone present and not merely to the latest visitors. “I am just as much a fool as any of you. I am searching, groping in the dark, trying to understand. I really cannot help you. There is nothing that I can give you. There is nothing that you can take away from here. Nobody believes that I am a fool! But I am a fool.”

“But you are not,” snapped the American lady with impatience as though to expose his false modesty.

“Perhaps,” observed Yogaswami, “I’m a different sort of fool – a fool who willingly admits the fact of my foolishness.”

IV

Yogaswami died a few years ago but what he imparted in his characteristically casual manner will always remain living truths and a source of inspiration to all who met him. The experience of conversing with a living master in a memorable interview was far more instructive than reading many books relating to the ageless spiritual and philosophical wisdom.

One of the lamentable features of Sri Lankan social life is the importance given to racial, religious and other institutions. People are seldom valued on their own merits. The label of a particular race or caste or religion is pasted on you from birth. These separate factors obstruct the communion between persons on society. Now in such a basically corrupt society Yogaswami stood alone. He was one of those rare individuals who brushed aside these wicked man-made divisions. Why were his admirers drawn from almost every group in that society? It was surely because of the universal recognition that his compassion was so pure that it encompassed everyone. In this sense Yogaswami was not a typical Sri Lankan although born in Sri Lanka he was not of Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately we do not have a foolproof yardstick with which to find out where another has really seen God. It is, of course, quite easy to deceive oneself into thinking that one has seen God or attained liberation. Nevertheless, contradictory though it may seem, one experiences a certain unmistakable feeling of certainty of the presence of God whether one is within the physical proximity of a genuine man of God such as Yogaswami. There is the experience of an indescribable presence although one may not have seen God oneself. I have had this experience in the presence of two really remarkable men: Yogaswami and J. Krishnamurti.

Now what is this special sense? This faculty does not depend for its existence on the degree of the emotional piety of the experiencer. It is not even related to the ability or inability to perform miracles by the sage in question. What then is this special sense of knowing? One notices in a truly enlightened being that dimension of non-duality. He does not feel a sense of otherness in relation to nature, the universe and other human beings. In the presence of a liberated being one experiences if one is sensitive, a certain consciousness that is all-pervading, all-embracing and non-exclusive. One also notices the absence of that struggle to become something that one is not. Because Yogaswami’s consciousness was so expansive he was able, if he really cared, to read the thoughts of others and communicate in a medium other than the spoken word. Then again one felt that he was not separate from all the objects and persons that surrounded him. The trees and the stones and all the material and non-material things in the universe were not separate from him: he was, in fact, a part of them all. The sensation that one felt in his presence is difficult to put into words. Suffice it to record that one’s consciousness in his presence was awakened to a heightened degree.

Apart from this obvious lack of a sense of ‘otherness’ that one immediately noticed when in his presence, several other matters are worth noting. He seemed remarkably relaxed all the time. There was no element of strain. Now and again he would admonish a devotee or laugh like a child when someone cracked a joke or lapse into long periods of silence. All these seemingly outward disturbances may be likened to the soft ripples on the waters of a lake that reverts to its original serenity soon afterwards. That serenity or peace or bliss may be likened to awareness or pure consciousness.

Yogaswami dissuaded persons from adoring him as a sacred object or an altar. What was more important for him was that we should sincerely look within ourselves. Indeed ‘look within’ were words that he frequently uttered. What does looking within involve? It involves the honest uncovering of those hidden conflicts in the unconscious that stand in the way of pure consciousness. It involves the silent and passive observation of all one’s fears, longings, hopes, aspirations, joys, frustrations and the like so that there are no hidden corners in the mind any more. Real meditation is none other than the silent discovery of oneself. One has to watch the various tricks that the mind likes to play. Through the perception of these tricks one begins to dissolve those prejudices and deceptions that obstruct clarity. With the cleansing of the mind and the heart there is pure consciousness. One is then qualified to receive something which according to the sages is indescribable but which may, nevertheless, be named as grace or God.

“Meditation is not thinking of anything; it is remaining cummā.” -Yogaswami

by Susunaga Weeraperuma 1970
copied from http://kataragama.org/sages/yogaswam.htm

Words of Indian Saints Part #5

paramahansa-yogananda“All creation is governed by law,” Sri Yukteswar concluded. “The ones which manifest in the outer universe, discoverable by scientists, are called natural laws. But there are subtler laws ruling the realms of consciousness which can be known only through the inner science of yoga. The hidden spiritual planes also have their natural and lawful principles of operation. It is not the physical scientist but the fully self-realized master who comprehends the true nature of matter. Thus Christ was able to restore the servant’s ear after it had been severed by one of the disciples.”

“The subtle truths I am expounding cannot be grasped without your complete concentration. Unless necessary I do not invade the seclusion of others’ minds. Man has the natural privilege of roaming secretly among his thoughts. The unbidden Lord does not enter there; neither do I venture intrusion.”

Sri Yukteswar was reserved and matter-of-fact in demeanor. There was naught of the vague or daft visionary about him. His feet were firm on the earth, his head in the haven of heaven. Practical people aroused his admiration. “Saintliness is not dumbness! Divine perceptions are not incapacitating!” he would say. “The active expression of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence.”

In Master’s life I fully discovered the cleavage between spiritual realism and the obscure mysticism that spuriously passes as a counterpart. My guru was reluctant to discuss the superphysical realms. His only “marvelous” aura was one of perfect simplicity. In conversation he avoided startling references; in action he was freely expressive. Others talked of miracles but could manifest nothing; Sri Yukteswar seldom mentioned the subtle laws but secretly operated them at will.

“A man of realization does not perform any miracle until he receives an inward sanction,” Master explained. “God does not wish the secrets of His creation revealed promiscuously. Also, every individual in the world has inalienable right to his free will. A saint will not encroach upon that independence.”

The silence habitual to Sri Yukteswar was caused by his deep perceptions of the Infinite. No time remained for the interminable “revelations” that occupy the days of teachers without self-realization. “In shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion. In oceanic minds the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle.” This observation from the Hindu scriptures is not without discerning humor.

Master was cautious of his body, while withholding solicitous attachment. The Infinite, he pointed out, properly manifests through physical and mental soundness. He discountenanced any extremes. A disciple once started a long fast. My guru only laughed: “Why not throw the dog a bone?”

Sri Yukteswar’s health was excellent; I never saw him unwell. He permitted students to consult doctors if it seemed advisable. His purpose was to give respect to the worldly custom: “Physicians must carry on their work of healing through God’s laws as applied to matter.” But he extolled the superiority of mental therapy, and often repeated: “Wisdom is the greatest cleanser.”

“The body is a treacherous friend. Give it its due; no more,” he said. “Pain and pleasure are transitory; endure all dualities with calmness, while trying at the same time to remove their hold.

Imagination is the door through which disease as well as healing enters. Disbelieve in the reality of sickness even when you are ill; an unrecognized visitor will flee!”

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Words of Indian Saints Part #4

paramahansa-yogananda“Ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. Divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. The flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.”

Attachment is blinding; it lends an imaginary halo of attractiveness to the object of desire.

Look fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you.

The impartiality of saints is rooted in wisdom. Masters have escaped maya; its alternating faces of intellect and idiocy no longer cast an influential glance. Sri Yukteswar showed no special consideration to those who happened to be powerful or accomplished; neither did he slight others for their poverty or illiteracy. He would listen respectfully to words of truth from a child, and openly ignore a conceited pundit.

Always one with the Lord, he needed no separate time for communion. A self-realized master has already left behind the stepping stone of meditation. “The flower falls when the fruit appears.” But saints often cling to spiritual forms for the encouragement of disciples.

“Patanjali’s meaning was the removal of desire to kill.” Sri Yukteswar had found my mental processes an open book. “This world is inconveniently arranged for a literal practice of ahimsa. Man may be compelled to exterminate harmful creatures. He is not under similar compulsion to feel anger or animosity. All forms of life have equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers the secret of creation will be in harmony with its countless bewildering expressions. All men may approach that understanding who curb the inner passion for destruction.”

“Guruji, should one offer himself a sacrifice rather than kill a wild beast?”

“No; man’s body is precious. It has the highest evolutionary value because of unique brain and spinal centers. These enable the advanced devotee to fully grasp and express the loftiest aspects of divinity. No lower form is so equipped. It is true that one incurs the debt of a minor sin if he is forced to kill an animal or any living thing. But the Vedas teach that wanton loss of a human body is a serious transgression against the karmic law.”

“Medicines have limitations; the creative life-force has none. Believe that: you shall be well and strong.”

“‘Really, it has been your thoughts that have made you feel alternately weak and strong.’ My master looked at me affectionately. ‘You have seen how your health has exactly followed your expectations. Thought is a force, even as electricity or gravitation. The human mind is a spark of the almighty consciousness of God. I could show you that whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely would instantly come to pass.’

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Words of Indian Saints Part #3

paramahansa-yoganandaThis evening Bhaduri expounded various philosophical points connected with the life of Mirabai, a medieval Rajputani princess who abandoned her court life to seek the company of sadhus. One great-sannyasi refused to receive her because she was a woman; her reply brought him humbly to her feet.

“Tell the master,” she had said, “that I did not know there was any Male in the universe save God; are we all not females before Him?” (A scriptural conception of the Lord as the only Positive Creative Principle, His creation being naught but a passive maya.)

“Master, you are wonderful!” A student, taking his leave, gazed ardently at the patriarchal sage. “You have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom!” It was well-known that Bhaduri Mahasaya had forsaken great family wealth in his early childhood, when single-mindedly he entered the yogic path.

“You are reversing the case!” The saint’s face held a mild rebuke. “I have left a few paltry rupees, a few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the real renunciates! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys!”

“The divine order arranges our future more wisely than any insurance company.” The master’s concluding words were the realized creed of his faith. “The world is full of uneasy believers in an outward security. Their bitter thoughts are like scars on their foreheads. The One who gave us air and milk from our first breath knows how to provide day by day for His devotees.”

“An unconscious theological bias was also present, which confounds ignorance with faith. It is often forgotten that He who surrounded us with this ever-evolving mystery of creation has also implanted in us the desire to question and understand. Through many years of miscomprehension, I came to know that the life of a devotee of science is inevitably filled with unending struggle. It is for him to cast his life as an ardent offering-regarding gain and loss, success and failure, as one.

Can anything small or circumscribed ever satisfy the mind of India? By a continuous living tradition, and a vital power of juvenescence, this land has readjusted itself through unnumbered transformations. Indians have always arisen who, discarding the immediate and absorbing prize of the hour, have sought for the realization of the highest ideals in life-not through passive renunciation, but through active struggle. The weakling who has refused the conflict, acquiring nothing, has had nothing to renounce. He alone who has striven and won can enrich the world by bestowing the fruits of his victorious experience.

“But high success is not to be obtained without rigid exactitude. Hence the long battery of super-sensitive instruments and apparatus of my design, which stand before you today in their cases in the entrance hall. They tell you of the protracted efforts to get behind the deceptive seeming into the reality that remains unseen, of the continuous toil and persistence and resourcefulness called forth to overcome human limitations. All creative scientists know that the true laboratory is the mind, where behind illusions they uncover the laws of truth.

The devotee’s irrationality springs from a thousand inexplicable demonstrations of God’s instancy in trouble.

“Swamiji, I am puzzled. Following your instruction, suppose I never asked for food, and nobody gives me any. I should starve to death”. “Die then!” This alarming counsel split the air. “Die if you must Mukunda! Never admit that you live by the power of food and not by the power of God! He who has created every form of nourishment, He who has bestowed appetite, will certainly see that His devotee is sustained! Do not imagine that rice maintains you, or that money or men support you! Could they aid if the Lord withdraws your life-breath? They are His indirect instruments merely. Is it by any skill of yours that food digests in your stomach? Use the sword of your discrimination, Mukunda! Cut through the chains of agency and perceive the Single Cause!”

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Words of Indian Saints Part #2

paramahansa-yogananda“The master never counseled slavish belief. ‘Words are only shells,’ he said. ‘Win conviction of God’s presence through your own joyous contact in meditation.’

“It was evident in all miracles performed by Lahiri Mahasaya that he never allowed the ego-principle to consider itself a causative force. By perfection of resistless surrender, the master enabled the Prime Healing Power to flow freely through him.

“The numerous bodies which were spectacularly healed through Lahiri Mahasaya eventually had to feed the flames of cremation. But the silent spiritual awakenings he effected, the Christlike disciples he fashioned, are his imperishable miracles.”

Ostentatious display of unusual powers are decried by masters. The Persian mystic, Abu Said, once laughed at certain fakirs who were proud of their miraculous powers over water, air, and space.

“A frog is also at home in the water!” Abu Said pointed out in gentle scorn. “The crow and the vulture easily fly in the air; the Devil is simultaneously present in the East and in the West! A true man is he who dwells in righteousness among his fellow men, who buys and sells, yet is never for a single instant forgetful of God!” On another occasion the great Persian teacher gave his views on the religious life thus: “To lay aside what you have in your head (selfish desires and ambitions); to freely bestow what you have in your hand; and never to flinch from the blows of adversity!”

“Mind is the wielder of muscles. The force of a hammer blow depends on the energy applied; the power expressed by a man’s bodily instrument depends on his aggressive will and courage. The body is literally manufactured and sustained by mind. Through pressure of instincts from past lives, strengths or weaknesses percolate gradually into human consciousness. They express as habits, which in turn ossify into a desirable or an undesirable body. Outward frailty has mental origin; in a vicious circle, the habit-bound body thwarts the mind. If the master allows himself to be commanded by a servant, the latter becomes autocratic; the mind is similarly enslaved by submitting to bodily dictation.”

“But there are many kinds of tigers; some roam in jungles of human desires. No spiritual benefit accrues by knocking beasts unconscious. Rather be victor over the inner prowlers.”

“My rule of seclusion is not for my own comfort, but for that of others. Worldly people do not like the candor which shatters their delusions. Saints are not only rare but disconcerting. Even in scripture, they are often found embarrassing!”

“God plants his saints sometimes in unexpected soil, lest we think we may reduce Him to a rule!”

“Do not mistake the technique for the Goal.”

“People in general are more fond of Jala Yoga (union with food) than of Dhyana Yoga (union with God).”

“What rishis perceived as essential for human salvation need not be diluted for the West. Alike in soul though diverse in outer experience, neither West nor East will flourish if some form of disciplinary yoga be not practiced.”

“Sir,” I inquired, “why do you not write a book on yoga for the benefit of the world?” “I am training disciples,” He replied. “They and their students will be living volumes, proof against the natural disintegrations of time and the unnatural interpretations of the critics.”

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Words of Indian Saints Part #1

paramahansa-yogananda“God is simple. Everything else is complex. Do not seek absolute values in the relative world of nature.”

“Man can understand no eternal verity until he has freed himself from pretensions. The human mind, bared to a centuried slime, is teeming with repulsive life of countless world-delusions. Struggles of the battlefields pale into insignificance here, when man first contends with inward enemies! No mortal foes these, to be overcome by harrowing array of might! Omnipresent, unresting, pursuing man even in sleep, subtly equipped with a miasmic weapon, these soldiers of ignorant lusts seek to slay us all. Thoughtless is the man who buries his ideals, surrendering to the common fate. Can he seem other than impotent, wooden, ignominious?”.

“To love both the invisible God, Repository of All Virtues, and visible man, apparently possessed of none, is often baffling! But ingenuity is equal to the maze. Inner research soon exposes a unity in all human minds-the stalwart kinship of selfish motive. In one sense at least, the brotherhood of man stands revealed. An aghast humility follows this leveling discovery. It ripens into compassion for one’s fellows, blind to the healing potencies of the soul awaiting exploration.”

“Only the shallow man loses responsiveness to the woes of others’ lives, as he sinks into narrow suffering of his own.” The SADHU’S austere face was noticeably softened. “The one who practices a scalpel self-dissection will know an expansion of universal pity. Release is given him from the deafening demands of his ego. The love of God flowers on such soil. The creature finally turns to his Creator, if for no other reason than to ask in anguish: ‘Why, Lord, why?’ By ignoble whips of pain, man is driven at last into the Infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure him.”

“Bricks and mortar sing us no audible tune; the heart opens only to the human chant of being.”

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Ralph Emerson speaks of life

Ralph Waldo EmersonTo be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
 
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
 
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
 
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
 
Always do what you are afraid to do.
 
To be great is to be misunderstood.
 
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
 
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
 
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
 
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself; nothing, but the triumph of principles
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Meditation Point by Sankara

  1. Sri SankaracharyaThat which is beyond caste and creed, family and lineage; devoid of name and form, merit and demerit; transcending space, time and sense-objects; —that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind. 
  2. That Supreme Brahman which is beyond the range of all speech, but accessible to the eye of pure illumination; which is pure, the Embodiment of Knowledge, the beginningless entity;—that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind. 
  3. That which, though One only, is the cause of the many; which refutes all other causes; which is Itself without cause; distinct from Maya and its effect, the universe; and independent; — that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind 
  4. That which is free from duality; which is infinite and indestructible; distinct from the universe and Maya,— supreme, eternal; which is undying Bliss; taintless; — that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind 
  5. That Reality which (though One) appears variously owing to delusion,taking on names and forms, attributes and changes. Itself always unchanged, like gold in its modifications, — that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind 
  6. That beyond which there is nothing; which shines above Maya even, which again is superior to its effects, the universe; the inmost-Self of all. free from differentiation; the Real Self; the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; Infinite and immutable; — that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind 
  7. That which is free from birth, growth, development, waste, disease and death; which is indestructible; which is the cause of the projection, maintenance and dissolution of the universe;— that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind 
  8. That which is free from differentiation; whose essence is never non-existent; which is unmoved like the ocean without waves; the ever-free; of indivisible Form;— that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind 
  9. That which is untouched by the six-fold wave; meditated upon by the Yogi’s heart, but not grasped by the sense organs; which the Buddhi cannot know; and which is unimpeachable; — that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind. 
  10. On the Truth inculcated above, one must meditate in one’s mind, by means of the recognised arguments. By that means one will realize the Truth free from doubt etc., like water in the palm of one’s hand.

Sri Sankara “Vivekachudamani”

“Recognized arguments” — that are in harmony with the Vedas.

Lao Tzu speaks Wisdom of Life

lao tzu“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”

“The best fighter is never angry.”

“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

“Silence is a source of Great Strength.”

“The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long.”

“Act without expectation.”
Lao Tzu

Siva Yogaswami speaks Wisdom (#3)

Satguru Siva YogaswamiYou are always in him and he is always in you. You lack nothing.

It does not matter whether you are a brahmachari or a householder – you must know the truth.

He who has nothing steals. Whom are we to blame?

When you have entirely surrendered, everything you do will be meditation.

The legs cannot do the work of the hand; the mouth cannot do the work of the legs. Then which can be called “great” and which “small”? All are indispensable.

The body is your dwelling-place and you are the dwelling-place of the Lord.

Be true to yourself. Don’t alter your behavior simply to please others.

Illness is a blessing.

Look on praise and blame alike.

Satguru Siva Yogaswami