Quote

A Brief Outlook on Raja Yoga pt.#3

practical-raja-yoga-meditation
FIFTH STEP – PRATYAHARA

Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses from their respective objects. It is the abstraction of the senses. Real, spiritual or inner life begins when the Yogic student is established in Pratyahara.
Pratyahara checks the outgoing tendencies of the senses. The practice demands considerable patience and perseverance. It is a trying discipline of the senses.  If you can disconnect the mind from the senses, there will be abstraction of the senses automatically. Control of the senses is absolute one-pointedness of the mind.

HOW TO PRACTISE PRATYAHARA

Just as a turbulent storm tosses a ship, so also the hidden desires toss the roving senses and the mind vehemently. Therefore, beware! Be on the alert. Be eternally vigilant. Annihilate all desires with the sword of dispassion and the axe of discrimination. This is the true secret of self-restraint. If you have intense dispassion, you can practise Pratyahara easily. Dispassion is the enemy of the senses and the friend of Pratyahara. Discrimination between the Real and the unreal helps a great deal in attaining success in Pratyahara.

No amount of human effort alone can give perfect success. Therefore, persevere and pray. Divine Grace is needed.

Pratyahara becomes easy after the practice of Pranayama. Pratyahara follows the practice of Pranayama automatically. Practice of Pranayama thins out the senses and prepares the Yogic student for the practice of Pratyahara.
Observance of silence, moderation in diet, steadiness in pose, dispassion, regularity in the practice of Pranayama, patience, contentment, perseverance, tenacity, celibacy, seclusion, are all aids to Pratyahara.

Withdraw the mind, the Prana and the senses. This is triple withdrawal. This is very powerful.
Success in Pratyahara depends upon the strength and force of past Yogic impressions. He who has practised Pranayama and Pratyahara in his previous birth to some extent will have success in Pratyahara within a short time in this birth.

He who is well-established in Pratyahara can meditate calmly even in a noisy place. Pratyahara develops will-power and inner spiritual strength. Nothing can distract the mind of one who is established in Pratyahara.

He who is eflicient in Pratyahara can enter into deep sleep the moment he lies down on his bed. Napoleon and Gandhiji could do this.

OBSTACLES TO PRATYAHARA

Unsteady Asana, too much talking, too much mixing with worldly people, too much activity, too much food, too much walking, too much curiosity in other people’s affairs, are all obstacles in the practice of Pratyahara.
If dispassion wanes and if there is slackness in the practice, the senses become turbulent.

A Bhakta or a devotee does not practise Pratyahara. He beholds his Lord in all objects.
A Jnana Yogi also does not practise Pratyahara. He tries to identify himself with the hidden Self in all objects by negating the names and forms.
A Raja Yogi alone practises Pratyahara deliberately.
That Yogic student who jumps at once to the practice of meditation without Pratyahara will not have success  in meditation.

It is diffrcult to say where Pratyahara ends and Dharana or concentration begins.

SIXTH STEP – DHARANA (CONCENTRATION)

Dharana is fixing the mind on an external object or an intemal point. Concentration is purely a mental process. It needs an inward turning of the mind.

Concentration is fixing the mind; meditation is allowing one idea to flow continuously. A serene mind is fit for concentration. Keep the mind serene.

Celibacy, Pranayama, reduction of wants and activities, dispassion, silence, seclusion, discipline of the senses, Japa, control of anger, giving up reading novels, newspapers and visiting cinemas, are all aids to concentration. Give up TV watching.
Japa (recitation of Lord’s Name) and Kirtan (singing of Lord’s Name and His Glory) will develop concentration.

HOW TO CONCENTRATE

Do not leave the practice even for a day. It is very difficult to rise up again. Devotees concentrate on the heart, Raja Yogins on Trikuti (the seat of mind), Vedantins on Sahasrara or top of the head. Trikuti is the space between the eyebrows. You can also concentrate on the tip ofthe nose, the navel, or the Muladhara (below the last vertebra of the spinal column.

Concentration on the moon is beneficial to those of emotional temperament. Concentration on candle flame will give vision of Rishis and Devatas.

Concentrate on divine qualities such as love, mercy, compassion, or any other abstract idea such as infinity, omnipotence and omnipresence of the Lord, etc.

You can concentrate on the breath in your nostrils (Soham sound). There is ‘Soldering inhalation and ‘Ham’ during exhalation.

Do not concentrate when the mind is tired. Do not wrestle with the mind when you concentrate. When irrelevant thoughts enter the mind, be indifferent. They will pass away. Do not drive them forcibly. They will persist and resist. It will tax your will. But substitute with divine thoughts. Evil thoughts will gradually fade out.
Be slow and steady in the practice of concentration. Apply some Brahmi-Amla oil to the head if there is much heat. Take butter and sugarcandy. This will cool the system.

If you want to succeed in any walk of life, you must develop concentration. It is a source of spiritual strength. It is the master-key for opening the chamber of knowledge.

SEVENTH STEP – DHYANA (MEDITATION)

Meditation is an unbroken flow of knowledge of the object on which one meditates.
Meditation follows concentration. Concentration merges in meditation.

Concentration, meditation and Sarah (superconsciousness) are internal Sadhanas. When you practise concentration, meditation and Samadhi at a time, it is called Samyama.
Meditation is freeing the mind from all thoughts of sense-objects. The mind dwells on God alone during meditation.

BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

If you meditate for half an hour daily, you will be able to face the battle of life with peace and spiritual strength. Meditation kills all pain, suffering and sorrow.
Meditation is the most powerful mental and nervine tonic. Meditation opens the door to intuitive knowledge and realms of eternal bliss. During meditation the mind becomes calm, serene and steady. One idea occupies the mind.

Deep meditation cannot come in a day or a week or a month. You will have to struggle hard for along time. Be patient. Be persevering. Be vigilant. Be diligent.
All doubts will be gradually cleared through meditation.

HOW TO MEDITATE?

Meditate regularly in the early morning between 4 and 6 a.m. Have a separate meditation room, or convert by means of screens a corner of a room into a meditation chamber.
Use your commonsense throughout your Sadhana. Do not go to extremes. Stick to the golden medium or the middle path.

Meditate in the beginning on a concrete Form such as the image of your Ishta Devata, Lord Jesus, or Lord Buddha. This is Saguna meditation, or meditation on the form of the Lord with attributes. Think of His attributes such as omnipotence, perfection, purity, freedom, when you meditate on His form. Rotate your mind on His form from head to foot or from foot to head.

You can also recite Om while meditating. The short-accented Om burns all sins, the long accented gives Moksha, and the elongated bestows all psychic powers (Siddhis). He who chants and meditates upon this monosyllable (Om), meditates upon and chants all the scriptures of the world.

Meditate on the effulgence in the sun, or the splendour in the moon, or the glory in the stars. Meditate on the magnificence of the ocean and its infinite nature. Then compare the ocean to the infinite Brahman, and the waves, foams and icebergs to the various names and forms of the world. Identify yourself with the ocean. Become silent. Expand.

Gaze steadily on the formless air. Concentrate on the air. Meditate on the all-pervading nature of the air. Watch the flow of breath. You will hear the sound ‘Soham,’ ‘So’ during inhalation and ‘Ham’ during exhalation. Soham means “I am He.” The breath is reminding you of your identity with the Supreme Soul.

EXPERIENCES IN MEDITATION

The feeling of rising up during meditation is a sign that you are going above body-consciousness.

When you practise concentration and meditation, you are bound to get various powers and Siddhis. Do not use these powers for gaining some material end. Do not misuse the powers. You will get a hopeless downfall.

There is really no such thing as a miracle. When you know the cause, the miracle becomes an ordinary event. During meditation you will get rapture, ecstasy, thrill.

A flash is a glimpse of truth. It is Ritambara Prajna. This is not the whole experience. This is not the highest experience. Reach the Bhuma or the Infinite. This is the acme or the final stage. You have reached the final destination. Meditation stops here.

You will hear various sorts of Anahata sounds. You will see brilliant lights in the space between the eyebrows. Sometimes you will behold coloured lights: green, blue, red, etc. They are due to the presence of different Tattvas at a particular time.

Sometimes you will have vision of Rishis, sages, tutelary deity, Nitya Siddhas, astral entities, landscape, mountains, blue sky, beautiful lardens. Sometimes you may float in the air. Your Astral body may get detached from the physical body. You will move about in the astral world. You may go to Brahma Loka, the realm of Brahma or Hiranyagarbha.

Those who have entered the first degree of meditation will have a light body, sweetness of voice, beautiful complexion, clarity of mind and scanty urine and defaecation.

OBSTACLES IN MEDITATION

The chief obstacles in meditation are:
– Laya (sleep),
– Vikshepa (tossing of mind),
– the rising up of latent desires,
– lack of Brahmacharya,
– spiritual pride,
– laziness,
– disease.

Other obstacles: company of worldly people, overwork, over-eating, self-assertive Rajasic nature.

Conquer sleep through Pranayama, Asanas and light diet. Remove Vikshepa through Pranayama, Japa, Upasana, Trataka, etc. Destroy desires through dispassion, discrimination, study of books which treat of dispassion, enquiry, etc.
Shun the company of worldly persons who always talk on sexual matters, money and worldly things. Observe moderation in diet. Obey the laws of health and hygiene.

Excerpts from “FOURTEEN LESSONS ON RAJA YOGA” by Sri Swami Sivananda

Quote

A Brief Outlook on Raja Yoga pt.#2

practical-raja-yoga-meditationTHE THREE GUNAS

There are three Gunas or qualities in the mind, viz., Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. When Sattva preponderates man is calm and serene (Santa). When Rajas preponderates he is Ghora (agitated or excited). When Tamas preponderates he is Moodha (dull and foolish).
Control Tamas through Rajas. Control Rajas through Sattva. Control Sattva by Sattva itself.

He who has gone beyond the three Gunas, who has equal vision and balanced mind in pleasure and pain, honour and dishonour, is a sage or a full-blown Yogi. When the mind is Sattvic, there is serenity. Truth is reflected in a serene mind.

Sattva increases through association with the wise, study of religious books, Sattvic food, repetition of the Lord’s Name, etc. Sattva has the characteristic of effrrlgence. It is also harmony or goodness or purity. Sattva is stainless like the crystal.

Sattva binds a man by attachment to happiness and knowledge. Sattva is a golden fetter. Rajas and Tamas are iron fetters.

Rajas is passion or activity. Rajas causes distraction and restlessness. Rajas is the source of thirst and attachment to action. A Rajasic man wants power, wealth, prestige, position, name and fame. A Rajasic man constantly moves. He is ambitious. He is ever engaged in action. He is talkative. He is full of cravings and desires. He is attached to action. He runs after sensual pleasures. He is under intoxication of pride of wealth.

Tamas is inertia or darkness. Tamas is bom of ignorance. It binds a man by heedlessness, indolence, carelessness, lethargy, sloth and sleep.

The fruit of Sattvic action is happiness; the fruit of Rajasic action is pain; the fruit of Tamasic action is ignorance. If anyone meets death when Sattva is predominant, he attains to the spotless world of the Highest. If he meets death in Rajas, he is born among those attached to action. If he meets death in Tamas, he is born in the womb of the senseless. He takes his birth amongst the dull and stupid, or the lowest grades of human being.

The three Gunas are present in all human beings. No one is free from the operation of any one of the three Gunas. These qualities are not constant. Sometimes Santa predominates; at other times, Rajas or Tamas predominates.

The Lord has mastery over the three Gunas. When the three Gunas are in a state of equilibrium, Prakriti is in a state of equipoise. There is no projection of the world. There is Pralaya or deluge. A vibration arises. There is disturbance in the Gunas. Equilibrium of the Gunas is disturbed. The world comes out. Rajas and Tamas are pitfalls on the spiritual path.

PHILOSOPHY OF OM

Om is the word of power. It is the sacred symbol of Brahman or God. All languages and sounds have come out of Om. The whole world also has come out of Om.

The goal which the scriptures uniformly extol, which all acts of austerity which speak of and wishing for which rnan leads the life of celibacy-that goal is Om.

Japa of Om is remembrance of the Lord. The Yogic students get one-pointedness of mind by repetition of Om. By constant repetition of Om the force of spiritual Samskaras is increased.

Repeat Om mentally when you retain the breath (Kumbhaka). This will give you power, strength, vigour and health.

Om is the life and soul of all Mantras. The essence of all scriptures is Om. ‘A’ starts from the root of the tongue; ‘U’ proceeds from the middle; and ‘M’ comes from the end by closing the lips. ‘A’ represents the waking state, ‘U’ represents the dream state and ‘M’ represents the deep sleep state. A U M covers the entire sounds producing area.

Amen is Om. Ameen is Om. The vibration produced by chanting Om in the physical universe corresponds to the original vibration that arose when the world was projected. Yogis always meditate on Om. Om is the inner music of the Soul. It is the music of Silence.

THE EIGHTFOLD YOGA

There follow the eight limbs of Raja Yoga: Yama (self-restraint), Niyama (observances), Asana (pose), Pranayama (control of Prana or breath), Pratyahara (abstraction of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (superconscious state).

FIRST STEP – YAMA (self-restraint)

1. AHIMSA – is perfect harmlessness. Eliminate the beast nature within. Ahimsa is not merely non-killing. It is positive, cosmic love.

By injuring another you injure your own self. By serving another you serve your own self. Love all. Serve all. Hate none. Insult none. Injure none in thought, word and deed.

Ahimsa is Supreme Love. Ahimsa is a weapon of the strong. It cannot be practised by weak persons.

The practice of Ahimsa develops the heart in a wonderful manner. The practice of Ahimsa will make you fearless. He who practises Ahimsa can move the whole world. He can tame even the wild animals.

Amisa is not a policy. It is a sublime virtue. Anger can be easily controlled by the practice of Ahimsa. The law of Ahimsa is as much exact and precise as the law of gravitation or cohesion.

He who is patient and forgiving, who has self-control can practise Ahimsa. If you practise Ahimsa, you should put up with insults, rebukes, censures and assaults. You should never retaliate, nor wish ill to any body even under exfreme provocation.

2. SATYA (truthfulness). Thought, word and act should agree. This is truthfulness. Whatever you have seen or heard must be spoken of as it is. Do not twist or modify. This is Satya.

By speaking truth, the mind is purified, and divine light dawns. Stick to your promise at any cost.

lf you are established in truth, you will get Vak-Siddhi – whatever you say will come to pass.

3. ASTEYA (non-stealing). Desire or want is the root-cause for stealing. If you are established in non-stealing, all wealth will come to you.

4. BRAHMACHARYA (continence) is is purity or freedom from last in thought, word and deed. It is freedom from serial thoughts, sexual urge and the attraction of sex. What is wanted is sublimation of sex-energy. Repression or suppression of sex-energy will not help in the practice of Brahmacharya.
Brahmacharya lies at the very heart of Tapas or Yoga. No spiritual progress is possible without Brahmacharya.

5. APARIGRAHA (non-covetousness) removes anxiety to preserve, fear of loss. It gives peace, contentment and satisfaction. It is an aid to practice of Ahimsa, Satya and
Asteya.

Never take from life more than what you need for your simple and bare living. If you are established in non-covetousness, you will get the memory of past life.

SECOND STEP – NIYAMA (observance)

Niyama is the second step in the path of the Eightfold Yoga of Patanjali. It consists of:

1. SAUCHA (purity). Through purity of mind come cheerfulness of mind, concentration, conquest of the senses and fitness for Self-realisation.

2. SANTOSHA (contentment) gives superlative happiness and peace.

3. TAPAS (austerity). Through the practice of austerity come some powers or Siddhis.

4. SVADHYAYA – study of spiritual books and scriptures.

5. ATMANIVEDANA (self-surrender). Through the practice of self-surrender comes Samadhi or superconscious state.

THIRD STEP – ASANA

Any steady and comfortable pose is Asana. A steady pose gives concentration of mind. Physical exercises draw the Prana out. Asanas send the Prana in. Where Hatha Yoga ends, Raja Yoga begins.

PRANA

Prana is energy. It is subtle life-breath. It is the life-principle. lf Prana departs from the body, we call the condition death.

There is only one Prana. It assumes five names according to the function it performs:
1. Prana does inhalation and exhalation.
2. Apana does the functions of nutrition and excretion (elimination).
3. Samana does the function of digestion.
4. Vyana does the function of circulation of blood.
5. Udana does the function of deglutition. It takes the individual during sleep to the heart. It separates the astral body from the physical body at death.

Mental function is due to vibration of the Prana force. Prana is the link between the astral and the physical bodies.
Prana, Apana, etc., are gross forms of the main Prana. Psychic Prana, which generates thought, is subtle.

In the Cosmos, the universal Prana brought forth the elements. Prana vibrates on cosmic Ether. Air, fire, water and earth are produced.

Prana is the oldest part of existence for it starts functioning from the very moment the child is conceived. It is the best also. Even during sleep it functions, when mind and
other organs are at rest.

Cosmic Prana is termed Hiranyagarbha. Fire burns through Prana. Wind blows through Prana. Rivers flow through Prana.

Prana is magnetism. Prana is electricity. Prana is expended in thinking, willing, acting, moving, talking, etc. A strong and healthy man has an abundance of Prana or nerve force or vitality. The Prana is supplied by food, water, air, solar energy. The excess of Prana is stored up in the brain and nerve centres.
When the sex-energy is sublimated, it supplies abundance of Prana to the system. lf you can control Prana, you can control all the forces of the universe. If you control the Prana; you can control the mind easily.

There is intimate connection between Prana, mind and semen (the vital fluid). If you can control your seminal energy, you can also control your mind and Prana.

Retain the breath and send the Prana to any diseased part of your body. The disease will get cured. Store abundant Prana through the practice of Pranayama. Touch any diseased part of the body in any man. The disease will be cured. A senior Yogi can transfer his Prana to others and cure diseases.

Prana is the universal life principle. It is the principle of energy or force. It is all-pervading.

FOURTH STEP – PRANAYAMA

Pranayama is restraint of Prana. By restraint of the breath Prana is controlled. By the practice of Pranayama, Rajas and Tamas, which cover Sattva, are removed. Then the mind becomes fit for concentration. Practice of Pranayama removes diseases of the body and renovates the cells, tissues and nerves.

There should not be any strain in any stage of Pranayama. You must enjoy peace, joy and happiness. Do not produce any sound while inhaling or exhaling. Do not practise Pranayama when the day is hot.

Those who practise Pranayama can cure many diseases by directing the Prana to the affected part. The wish and intention of curing the disease is projected with a powerful will. Sit by the side of the patient. Close your eyes. Inhale gently. Then retain the breath and direct the Prana to the diseased part of the patient’s body. Concentrate your mind there and chant Om mentally. Strongly imagine that the Prana is penetrating into the diseased cells and destroying them. You can do this on yourself, too, when you are
sick.

DISTANT HEALING

You can repeat the process as in Pranic healing sitting alone in your meditation room and directing the Prana towards the direction where the patient lives. Fix up an appointment with the patient. Ask him to have a receptive mental attitude at the particular moment when you are directing the Prana to him.
Brahmamuhurta is the best period for exercising Pranic healing. This period is the predawn period from two hours before sunrise.

Excerpts from “FOURTEEN LESSONS ON RAJA YOGA” by Sri Swami Sivananda