ADAPTABILITY

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAJaAAAAJDA4ODRhOWFmLWZkODEtNGM5Ny04OWU4LTljOGRhZGU1M2IzZAAdaptability is a virtue or noble quality by which one adapts or fits himself to others, whatever their nature may be. A man of adaptability accommodates himself with others, whatever their temperaments may be. Adaptability is a peculiar knack or pluck to win the hearts of others and ultimately the battle of life by a little bit of bending.

The world runs on adaptability. He who knows the art or science of adaptability pulls on quite well in this world and is always happy under all conditions of life.

lt does need much wisdom and ingenuity for developing adaptability. Remember the maxim: “Obedience is greater than service.” The superior wants a little respect. Say “Hanji-Hanji, Ji-huzur, very well Sir.” lt costs you nothing. Then your superior becomes your slave. He has for you a soft corner in his heart. You become his pet. He will do whatever you want. He will excuse your mistakes. Humility and obedience are necessary for developing adaptability. That egoistic, proud man flnds it very difficult to adapt himself. He is always in trouble. He always fails in his attempts. Egoism and pride are two important and insurmountable obstacles in the way of developing adaptability.

Adaptability makes friendship last for a long time. A man of adaptability can pull on with anybody in any part of the world. People unconsciously love a man of adaptability. Adaptability gives immense strength and profound joy. Adaptability develops will.

A man of adaptability has to make some sacrifice. Adaptability develops the spirit of sacrifice. lt kills selfishness. A man of adaptability has to share what he has with others. He has to bear insult and hard words. A man of adaptability develops the feelihg of unity or oneness of life. For Vedantic Sadhana it is of invaluable help.
He who practises adaptability has to destroy the feelings of Ghrina, contempt and the idea of superiority. He has to mix with all. He has to embrace all. Adaptability develops universal love and kills the feeling of hatred. He has to develop patience and endurance. These virtues develop by themselves when he tries to adapt himself with others. A man of adaptability can live in any environment. He can bear the heat of Benares or Africa. He can live in a hut. He can live in a cool place. He develops balance of mind. He can bear extreme heat and cold. Adaptability brings eventually Atma-Jnana. He who has this noble virtue is a great man in all the three worlds. He is always happy and successful.

Excerpts from “HOW TO CULTIVATE VIRTUES AND ERADICATE VICES” by Sri Swami Sivananda

ABSTINENCE

Total-AbstinenceAbstinence is abstaining or refraining especially from some indulgence. Abstinence is temperance. We speak of abstinence from meat, abstinence from whisky, abstinence from food or sexual indulgence.

Abstinence is continued temperance which gives longevity, good health, and keeps the body free from diseases.
Abstinence is a discipline which gives Vairagya or dispassion and helps the aspirant to march forward in the path of Yoga. Abstinence is the practice of Yama or self-restraint. lt is the ground-work of virtue.
Abstinence is the strongest fence against diseases.

Self-denial is giving up what one wishes. Abstinence may be refraining from what one does not desire. Fasting is abstinence from food for a limited time and generally for religious reasons.

Excerpts from “HOW TO CULTIVATE VIRTUES AND ERADICATE VICES” by Sri Swami Sivananda

Seeker after Liberation (pt.#5)

effort-invest-time-like-ant

The Necessity of Activity

Having obtained a body free from disease and a mind free from trouble, one should try to know the knowable to prevent further births. Whoever wants to avert his destiny through action obtains the acme of his wishes both in this world as well as the next. But whoever is averse to diligence and relies on his luck is an enemy to his own soul and sacrifices all his virtues, riches and hopes.
This is the long and short of all the scriptures (shastras), that diligence preserves our minds from all evils by employing them to whatever is good and right. To apply with diligence to whatever is excellent, not low or mean and not liable to loss or decay, is the lesson of parents and teachers to their sons and pupils.

We have visible evidence (of the efficacy) of activity every day, in the examples of men travelling in distant countries (for the sake of gain). He who eats becomes satisfied and who does not starves. So he who walks is said to proceed and not one who rests. In like manner, whoever speaks is called a speaker and not the silent man. Thus action makes the man.

Men of acute understandings raise themselves to elevation by their association with the virtuous, study of good works, and active employment in duties tending to their own good. The boundless joy arising from equanimity is said to constitute one’s supreme good. This blessing also results from a man’s diligent application to the scriptures. Understanding leads to the knowledge of the scriptures, and the scriptures tend towards our right understanding of things. Just so does the lotus serve to beautify a lake, and the lake lends its grace to the lotus. It is also by virtue of one’s deep study and good company in youth that a man later attains his desirable objects.

Now, O lord of Raghu’s race, employ your efforts to the exertion of your manly activities in such a way that you may live unafraid of being bitten by the snake-like people in this tree of the world (crush the malice of your enemies).

Invalidation of Destiny

Vasishta continued saying that:—
What does “destiny” mean? It has no form, no act, no motion or might. It is only a false notion rooted in the (minds) of the ignorant. “Destiny” is a word that has come into fashion from the idea of karma, the idea of future retribution for one’s past actions and the like. From this, ignorant are led to believe that there is such a thing as destiny, something incapable of explanation, which has led them to a fallacy much like mistaking a rope for a snake.

See Rama, how people use their own industry to make wicker vessels so handsome that they hold water, all without the aid of any destiny. In all our works of giving and receiving, walking, resting and the like, we see no causation by destiny in their completion, just as we see medicines causing healing. Therefore, O Rama, give up this destiny of your mistaken fancy, which in reality is devoid of its cause or effect and is a false and ideal nothing. Give yourself to your best efforts.

Investigation of Acts

It is a man’s activity and nothing else, O Raghava, that is the cause of all his actions and the recipient of their consequences. Destiny has nothing to do with it. Destiny refers to the good or bad results that proceed from action. Truly, O Raghava, destiny, though empty as a void, appears to be real to somebody who thinks it to be an active agent, while others know it to be inactive. The mind is the soul and cause of all acts which they call the doings of destiny. Certainly, without the mind there is no destiny. This mind is truly the living soul that acts as it desires and accordingly enjoys the fruit. The same is destiny.

Rama, you are wise, perfectly intelligent, and composed of more than just a dull body. Now if you need another’s guidance to waken your intellect, then when is your own intelligence? If you would have someone else enlighten your understanding, then who was the other who illuminated him, and who is the other to illuminate that person also? Therefore, because no one is wholly devoid of understanding, let him improve it himself.

The currents of our desires flow between two channels of good and evil. It requires the exertion of our actions to turn them to the right course. You who is the mightiest of the mighty must exert the force of your activity to turn your mind away from a direction to the profitless and towards a profitable course. By directing the mind from the wrong to the right way, it will take the right course; and the opposite is true also.

But because the human mind is like a child, it must not be forced. The training of a child is like that of the mind. It is done slowly by gentleness and indulgence, and not by force or hurry.

O sinless Rama, at present your desires are lying dormant in your mind. They require some practice to be employed only to the doing of good. If you will not exert yourself now to improve your dormant desires by constant practice, you can never expect to be happy. When doubtful, incline towards what is good, and as you thrive on this you shall have no evil to fear.

Whatever one practices, with time he will become perfect, just like studying from childhood makes the learned free from error. When you have good will inside, you must accomplish your purpose by means of your activity and your subjection of the organs of your body. So long as your mind is imperfect and unacquainted with the state of divine truth, you must attend to your teacher, books and reasoning and act according to their directions.
Having first finished your acts and known the truth, you must abandon even your meritorious deeds, and all your desires with them.

Having known by your good understanding that the virtuous course led by honorable men is truly good, give particular attention to know the nature of God, then forsake even that and remain as silent as an ancient sage (muni).

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

A Brief Outlook on Raja Yoga pt.#4

practical-raja-yoga-meditationEIGHTH STEP – SAMADHI

Samadhi is superconscious state. It is Union with God or Supreme Being. There is no means or language to give expression to it.
In Samadhi the meditator loses his individuality and becomes identical with Supreme Self. Just as the camphor becomes identical with the fire, the meditator and meditated become one.
This blissful divine experience arises when the ego and the mind are dissolved.
This is a magnificent experience of unity and oneness. In the state of Samadhi the aspirant is not conscious of any extemal or internal objects. There is no thinking, hearing, smelling or seeing.
Samadhi is the property of every human being. It is your birthright.

Faith, power of concentration of mind, memory for contemplation, celibacy and discernment (Prajna) are the means for the attainment of the Samadhi.
God’s grace alone can take you to the realms of transcendental experience or Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

SAVIKALPA SAMADHI

There are two kinds of Samadhi, viz., Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa. Savikalpa Samadhi is also known as Samprajnata and Sabeeja Samadhi.
In Savikalpa Samadhi there is the Triputi or the triad; the knower, knowledge and the knowable.
Samprajnata or Savikalpa Samadhi is possible when there is Ekagrata or one-pointedness of the mind. There is only a partial inhibition of the mind. The Samskaras or impressions are not burnt. Hence the name Sabeeja.
When the Yogi meditates on the Sattvic mind itself, devoid of Rajas and Tamas, he attains intense joy. So it is known as Saananda Samadhi or blissful Samadhi. The Yogi feels “Aham Asmi” or “I am.” So, it is called Asmita Samadhi.

NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI

Nirvikalpa Samadhi is a condition of perfect awareness. The knowledge and the knowable become one. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi Yogi sees without eyes, tastes without tongue, hears without ears, smells without nose and touches without skin. This is described as follows: The blind man pierced the pearl; the fingerless put a thread into it; the neckless wore it; and the tongueless praised it.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is also known as  Asamprajnata and Nirbeeja Samadhi.
There is complete inhibition of all mental functions. Hence it is called Asamprajnata Samadhi.
It can be attained only when there is perfect Nirodha or control of mind. Here Samskaras are burnt in toto. Hence the name Nirbija. You will have to be perfectly established in
Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Then only will the seed of rebirth be burnt in toto.

The only Sadhana for attaining Nirvikalpa Samadhi is Para Vairagya or supreme dispassion. Here the Yogi completely disconnects himself from the Prakriti and its effects. The mind, intellect and the senses entirely cease to function. There is neither sound nor touch nor form here.
The Gunas, having fulfilled their objects of enjoyment, entirely cease to act now. The Yogi has attained Kaivalya, or Supreme independence or freedom. He has simultaneous knowledge or omniscience now. The past and the future are blended into the present. Everything is ‘now’. Everything is ‘here’. The past and the future are blended into the present. Everything is ‘now’. Everything is ‘here’. The Yogi has transcended time and space. All sorrows have ceased; all miseries have disappeared; the seeds of action are burnt; all doubts are dispelled. There is eternal freedom. It is a state like the ocean without waves.

OBSTACLES TO SAMADHI

Tossing of mind, sleep, cravings, carelessness, indecision, subtle Vasanas, disease, the happiness of Savikalpa Samadhi, doubt, spiritual pride, etc., are all obstacles to the attainment of Samadhi.
Do not mistake sleep for Samadhi. When a man returns from Samadhi, he has transcendental wisdom.

The Samadhi of the Hatha Yogi who buries himself is Jada Samadhi. It is like deep sleep. There is no transcendental, divine wisdom for him. The Samaskaras are not burnt. He cannot have Moksha or final liberation.
In Chaitanya Samadhi there is perfect awareness. There is no rebirth. The Yogi attains liberation and divine wisdom.

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

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

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

A Brief Outlook on Raja Yoga pt.#1

practical-raja-yoga-meditationA WAY OF LIFE

Yoga does not require turning away from life. It demands transformation and spiritualisation of life. Yoga is primarily a way of life, not something which is divorced from life. Yoga is not forsaking an action, but is effecient performance in the right spirit. Yoga is not running away from home and human habitation, but a process of moulding one’s attitude to home and society with a new understanding.

Yoga is for all and is universal. It is not a sectarian affair, but a way to God and not a creed. The practice of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and universal and does not contradict any one’s sincere faith.

The idea of the novice that Yoga constitutes physical exercises ormere postures and Pranayama, etc., is an error. These have nothing to do with real Yoga. There are considered to be aids in Yoga practice. Most people do not have access to Yoga beyond its
physical level, because the true Yoga demands intense personal discipline, coupled with intense thinking under the guidance of an able teacher. Yoga promises superphysical and spiritual blessing. It becomes unattractive to a common man who clamours for Immediate fruits and worldly prosperity.

Moral purity and spiritual aspiration are the first steps in the path of Yoga. One who has a calm mind, faith in the words of his preceptor and the scriptures, who is moderate in eating and sleeping, and who has intense longing for deliverance from the wheel of births and deaths is a qualified person for the practice of Yoga.

An austere and simple life is indispensable for Yoga. The foundation of Yoga is self-control. Discipline is the essence of Yoga, discipline of body as well as discipline of the mind. In the practice of Yoga, there is a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind. Steadiness of mind is essential for a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind.

YOGA

Yoga is union with the Lord or the Supreme Soul. Raja Yoga is restraint of the waves or thoughts or modifications of the mind. ‘Raja Yoga’ means ‘King of Yogas’, because it directly concerns with the mind.

The mind is made up of three qualities, viz., Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is purity, goodness, harmony, light and wisdom. Rajas is passion, action and motion. Tamas is inertia, darkness and ignorance. Internal fight is going on between Sattva and
Rajas-Tamas. Convert Tamas into Rajas through work and Rajas into Sattva through meditation.

Sadhana or Abhyasa is any spiritual practice that helps the aspirant to concentrate his mind and realise God.

Faith, aspiration and dispassion are the three important qualities of a Yogic student.
Non-violence, truthfulness and celibacy are the three fundamental virtues.

YOGIC DIET

Diet has intimate connection with the mind. Mind is formed from the subtlestportion or essence of food.

The food should be light, nutritious and Sattvic, for the purpose of meditation. Diet is of three kinds, viz., Sattvic diet, Rajasic diet and Tamasic diet.

Foods which increase vitality, energy, vigour, health and joy, which are delicious, bland, wholesome, substantial and agreeable, are Sattvic.
Foods which are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, pungent, dry and buming, which produce pain, grief and disease, are Rajasic.
Foods which are stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure, are Tamasic.

All articles that are putrid, stale, decomposed, unclean, twice cooked, kept overnight, as well as overripe and unripe fruits should be abandoned.

Instinct or voice within will guide you in the selection of articles of diet. You are yourself the best judge to form a Sattvic Yogic menu to suit your temperament and constitution.

Do not make sudden changes in your diet. Let the change be slow and gradual. Take food half-stomachful, fill a quarter of stomach with water and allow the remaining part for expansion of gas. It is moderate diet.

Do not practise Yoga immediately after a meal, nor when you are hungry.

Take light meals at night. A cup of milk and some fruits will suffice. Then alone you.will be able to get up in the early morning for meditation. Do not take rice at night.

Control of mind is very difficult for those who take meat, etc.

Take your food when the Pingala or Surya Nadi flows in right nostril. Surya Nadi is heating. It digests the food well. Sleep on your left side at night. The food will be digested well. Sit on Vajra Asana for ten minutes after taking food. This will digest your food well.

Give up tea and coffee. Eat and drink as a master. Have no craving for any particular diet.

MIND AND ITS CONTROL

Mind is Atma Sakti. It is through mind that God manifests as the universe. The seed of mind is egoism.

The mind is purifred by the practice of selfless service, Japa, Tapas, right conduct or practice of Yama (self-restraint) and meditation. The mind filled with Sattva is Suddha Manas or pure mind. The mind filled with Rajas and Tamas is Asuddha Manas or impure mind.

The mind assumes the form of any object it intensely thinks of. As you think, so you become. This is an immutable psychological law.
In waking state mind has its abode in the brain. In dream state it has its abode in the throat. In deep sleep it rests in the heart.

‘Prara’ is the connecting link between body and mind. lf you control Prana and sex-energy, you can control the mind. Through control of breath you can control the
mind.
Cosmic mind is the universal mind of the Lord. It is superconscious mind. Conscious mind operates through the brain in the waking state. Subconscious mind is Chitta. All impressions are imbedded in the subconscious mind.
Mind can attend only to one thing at a time. Steadying or fixing the mind on one point is
called Abhyasa.

Mind is the dividing wall between soul and body.

You can be established in Samadhi or superconscious state only by long practice, with zeal and faith. Without dispassion or non-attachment or indifference to sensual enjoyments no spiritual progress is possible.
Annihilate the impure mind with the help of the pure or higher mind and transcend the mind also.
Do not try to drive away impure thoughts. The more you try the more they will return. Fill the mind with divine thoughts. The impure thoughts will gradually vanish by themselves. Do not try to control the mind through violent methods. You will miserably and hopelessly fail.

The mind is at the root of Samsara or process. Desire is the fuel. Thought is the fire. Withdraw the fuel of desire; the fire of thought will be extinguished.

Mind thinks, intellect determines, egoism self-arrogates, subconscious mind memorises.
When the mind is Sattvic, calm and pure, you will get glimpses or flashes of intuition.

Mental actions are the real actions. Thought is the real action. A Rajasic mind wants variety and new sensations. It gets disgusted with monotony. Change of work is change for the mind.

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

Ethics & Morality

moralityAn ethical man is more powerful than an intellectual man. Morality goes hand in hand with spirituality. Ethical culture prepares you for Vedantic realisation of ‘Saruam Khalvidam Brahma’-all indeed is Brahman. There is no such thing as diversity.

All aspirants commit the mistakes in jumping to Samadhi and meditation all at once as soon as they leave their houses without caring a bit for ethical purification.

A man of right conduct has ideal principles and mottoes. He strictly follows them, removes his weaknesses and defects, develops good conduct and becomes a Sattvic man. Sound character is the only diamond you must crave to wear. Virtues are conducive to Self-knowledge.

Humility is the highest of all virtues. God helps you only when you feel utterly humble.

The law of non-injury is as much exact and precise as the law of gravitation. lf you can be fully established in the practice of non-violence in thought, word and deed, you are God.

A man who keeps up his promise creates a very good impression on the minds of others and merges in Divinity.

Moral strength is the backbone of spiritual progress. Ethical culture is part and parcel of spiritual Sadhana.

Morality is the doctrine of the right and wrong in human conduct. lt is virtuous life.

The Basis of Morality

Morality is religion in practice; religion is morality in principle. You must do what is right at whatever cost of pain and loss. There can be no divorce of religion from morality. Morality is the basis of religion. Morality and religion are inseparable like heat and fire, coolness and ice, fragrance and flower.

Discourses on morality are the best means to improve the character of man and recover him out of his vices and ignorance.

Morality must not be without religion. lf so, it may change as you see inconveniences. Religion must govern it.

The morality of an action depends upon the motive from which you act. First have righteous principles and then you will not fail to do virtuous actions.

Without religion, morality will die. Religion is the very root of morality. Morality without God is bottomless impiety.

Morality & Ethics

The moral principles are not absolute in the sense that there is a state which transcends moral restrictions. But it does not mean that the moral laws can be neglected.

Morality is the adherence to the inherent sense of the right which is voiced by the conscience that is not bound by selfishness and its several expressions or effects. Morality is the soul-sense, the truth-sense, which refuses to be restricted by the autocracy of the passions that disregard the universality of what is good, and which is free from the agony of imperfection.

The purpose of the moral sense is to point out the way to perfection, and morality, therefore, can be judged from how far it directs the consciousness to unrestricted happiness which is not confined to one or some individuals or even to a part of the universe or merely to an aspect of existence. The wider the scope of the selfless consciousness and the joy consequent upon it, the more moral is the method with which such selflessness is practiced or the act by which such selflessness is expressed.

Morality is “a great vow which is universal, not restricted either by conditions, states, places, times or circumstances.” (Yoga-Sutras)

Excerpts from “HOW TO CULTIVATE VIRTUES AND ERADICATE VICES” by Sri Swami Sivananda

Seeker after Liberation (pt.#4)

effort-invest-time-like-antThe Necessity of Effort

Will or inclination, even according to the rules of law and scriptures, is the prime instrument of all action, just as the reflection of light gives various colors to things.

Fortune and effort contend with each other like two rams of unequal strength where the mightier overcomes the other. Therefore man should apply himself diligently and employ his skill and effort in such a way that his today may overcome his tomorrow.

When one finds himself led astray by the demerit of his acts of a former state of existence, he must attempt to subdue them by the greater energy of his present state. One should endeavor to exercise his efforts so much that he may beat down the evils resulting from his bad fortune (or predestination). The evils of bad fortune are undoubtedly removed by the meritorious acts of the present life, just like the bad consequence of an act of yesterday is averted by its remedy of today.

Having trampled over an unfavorable fortune by one’s reliance upon his continuous effort, he must attempt to secure to himself every good for his well-being in his present life. Know that tranquility is not to be found through the effortlessness of dull ass-like men. It is the lawful energy of men which is said to secure his welfare in both worlds. One should make his way out of the pit of this world by force of his energy and diligence, just like a lion breaks out from his cage.

Every day one must contemplate that his body is subject to corruption, his beastly acts must be kept back, and man-like acts put forward. Good efforts are attended by good results just like bad ones are followed by bad consequences. Chance is merely a meaningless word.

It is a pleasure to men of perverted understanding to think of themselves as guided by their fortunes. Prosperity flies far away from such men who depend on their luck. Therefore let a man diligently apply himself first to his reason, and then investigate the works of subtle, hidden spiritual knowledge.

Whatever one attempts to do, he readily meets with its reward. This is the effect of effort. Fate is nothing but the same thing. Thus fate, being nothing but a name for our past actions, it is as easily overcome (by present acts) as a boy (is subdued) by an adult youth. As some bad conduct of yesterday is corrected by proper behavior of the present day, so is past fate is removed by present acts. Like two rams, our fate and efforts are fighting one another. Victory is always on the side of the stronger.

The strong efforts of men truly constitute the fortune that governs them, and these two are viewed alike by the wise.

Present acts destroy those of the past life, and those of the past life can destroy the effect of present acts, but the exertions of a man are undoubtedly successful. Of these two powers, that of the present is manifestly superior to the past.

As a hail shower lays waste the cultivation of a whole year, so also does predominant fate sometimes overpower the attempts of this life. However it does not behoove us to be sorry at the loss of our long earned treasure, for what does it serve to have sorrow for something that is beyond our control? If I have sorrow for what I am powerless to prevent, then I may as well weep all the days of my life because death will not spare me.

Actions of the past and present lives are the two fruit trees growing in the garden of humanity. Whichever is cultivated the best thrives and bears most fruit. He who is unable to overcome his false fate by his best efforts is no better than an ignorant beast that has no power over its pain or pleasure. He who thinks of going to heaven or hell by the will of the Maker is also a slave to destiny and is no better than a beast. The man of a noble mind who is employed in acts of goodness, breaks off from the errors of the world like a lion from its cage. Those who vainly imagine themselves to be led about by some supernatural power, and so slight their necessary duties, are to be shunned at a distance as the mean and base.

The wise know infinite happiness or a tranquil spirit is the supreme good, and those
good works are fit for study which lead to that state.

The acts of our former lives constitute what we call our fate (daivam) or destiny and they return to us from the region of the gods for our good in both worlds. We blame a fate that is the creation of the fancy of the ignorant, who by their adoration of such passivity meet their own destruction. One benefits himself always by his activity in both worlds, as the good acts of today gives a grace to those of yesterday. Only the ignorant depart from the beaten path and fall into the error of fatalism. Therefore give up that false faith in an unreal fate, which is a mere creation of the imagination and devoid of any cause or effect.

Knowing the efficacy of activity, every one should work on personal effort and attain to his highest perfection by attending to good scriptures and the wise counsels of learned men. Knowing that the bondage of our births is full of pain, let people listen to the wise and strive to exercise their efforts to obtain the true and sweet blessing of tranquility.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

Seeker after Liberation (pt.#3)

Effort, Not Fate or Chance

effort-invest-time-like-ant

Liberation, whether of embodied or disembodied spirits, consists in their detachment from the objects of sense. Hence the soul unattached to sensual gratification is liberated, having no idea of objects of the senses. Liberation, whether with or without the body, produces unselfishness. We have lost our selfishness ever since we have come to the knowledge of an undivided unity.

Know, O son of Raghu, that everything in this world is obtainable by our efforts being properly employed. There is no other way to gain results except but by our efforts.

An effort, when directed according to the counsel and conduct of the good in the exercise of the action of the body and mind, is attended with success. Otherwise it is as vain as the freak of a madman.

Know our actions to be of two kinds, namely those of former and present lives. Know that the acts of the present life generally supersede those of the past. Know also that energy joined with constant practice and supported by wisdom and some stimulating force is able to break down Mount Meru and the demerits of acts in men’s former lives.

Will or inclination, even according to the rules of law and scriptures, is the prime instrument of all action, just as the reflection of light gives various colors to things.

Good or evil results depend upon how you try, but according to fatalists, fate and effort are the joint causes of acts. The truth is, human exertions are either lawful or unlawful. The former lead to success and the latter to dangerous consequences. Fortune and effort contend with each other like two rams of unequal strength where the mightier overcomes the other. Therefore man should apply himself diligently and employ his skill and effort in such a way that his today may overcome his tomorrow.

When one incurs a failure or danger even by his lawful efforts, he should know it to be the result of his misapplied efforts. By utmost exertion in the right way, like gnashing his teeth, one can overcome his misfortune and that bad luck that sometimes baffle his efforts.

When one finds himself led astray by the demerit of his acts of a former state of existence, he must attempt to subdue them by the greater energy of his present state. One should endeavor to exercise his efforts so much that he may beat down the evils resulting from his bad fortune (or predestination). The evils of bad fortune are undoubtedly removed by the meritorious acts of the present life, just like the bad consequence of an act of yesterday is averted by its remedy of today.

Having trampled over an unfavorable fortune by one’s reliance upon his continuous effort, he must attempt to secure to himself every good for his well-being in his present life. Know that tranquility is not to be found through the effortlessness of dull ass-like men. It is the lawful energy of men which is said to secure his welfare in both worlds. One should make his way out of the pit of this world by force of his energy and diligence, just like a lion breaks out from his cage.

Every day one must contemplate that his body is subject to corruption, his beastly acts must be kept back, and man-like acts put forward.

It is a pleasure to men of perverted understanding to think of themselves as guided by their fortunes. Prosperity flies far away from such men who depend on their luck. Therefore let a man diligently apply himself first to his reason, and then investigate the works of subtle, hidden spiritual knowledge.

Know that like all things, there is a limit to both human fate and effort, just like a pot or a picture has a finite capacity and length. It is by means of good conduct derived from best precepts and the company of the good that one succeeds to his object. A disposition that breaks loose of these is sure to fall to the contrary, to ruin.

Again any man who conducts himself in the right course of action will never fail in his attempts at anytime. Some among the best of men had been reduced to misery by their poverty and helplessness. Yet by exertion of their manhood, they have again risen to the eminence of Indra. By learning the scriptures well from boyhood, by keeping company with the good, by possession of good qualities, and by diligent application, a man is sure to gain his object.

It has been seen, known, heard and experienced that acts are rewarded with success. They are dullheaded who think of obtaining it through fate or luck. If there were no folly of idleness in this world, what man would fail either to be rich or learned? It is because of idleness that this earth is filled to its utmost limit of the sea with indigent and beastly men. After passing his childhood and getting rid of its false and idle playfulness, and when he has attained the age of youthful vigor, let a man apply himself diligently to the company of wise men, and to the cultivation of his understanding by a knowledge of the scriptures and their meanings, and by scanning well his own faults and qualities.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra