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The Phenomenon of Sex

Swami SivanandaSex energy or lust is the most deep-rooted instinct in man. A man has a thousand and one desires. But the central strong desire is the sexual desire. The fundamental desire is the urge for a mate.

This world is nothing but sex and ego. Ego is the chief thing. It is the basis. Sex hangs on the ego. If the ego is destroyed by Vichara or inquiry of “Who am I?”, the sex idea takes to its heels by itself. Man, master of his destiny, has lost his divine glory and has become a slave, a tool, in the hands of sex and ego on account of ignorance.

Passion reigns supreme in all parts of the world. The minds of people are filled with sexual thoughts. The world is all sexy. The whole world is under a tremendous sexual intoxication.

Man, with his boasted intellect, has to learn lessons from birds and animals. Even animals have more self-control than men. It is only the so-called man who has degraded himself much by indulgence. At the heat of sexual excitement, he repeats the same ignoble act again and again. He has not a bit of self-control. He is an absolute slave to passion. He is a puppet in the hands of passion. Like rabbits he procreates and brings forth countless children to swell up the numbers of beggars in the world. Lions, elephants, bulls and other powerful animals have better self-control than men. Lions cohabit only once in a year. After conception, the female animals will never allow the male animals to approach them till the young ones are weaned and they themselves become healthy and strong. Man only violates the laws of nature and consequently suffers from innumerable diseases. He has degenerated to a level far lower than that of animals in this respect.

As a king is no king without a treasury, subjects and an army, as a river is no river without water, so also, a man is no man without Brahmacharya. Ahara, Nidra, Bhaya and Maithuna—food, sleep, fear and copulation—are common to both animals and men. That which differentiates a man from an animal is Dharma, Viveka and Vichara Sakti. Jnana and Vichara can be secured only by the preservation of Veerya. If a man has not got these qualifications, he should really be reckoned as a veritable animal only.

The sexual degradation that has overtaken mankind today is due directly to the fact that people have assumed that there is a natural “sexual instinct” in human beings. It is not so. The natural instinct is the procreative one. If men and women restrict sexual indulgence to mere procreation, then that itself is observance of Brahmacharya. As this is found to be impossible in the vast majority of cases, total abstinence is enjoined on those who seek the higher values of life. As far as the Sadhaka of burning Mumukshutva is concerned, celibacy is a sine qua non, as he cannot afford to waste his vital energy at all.

May you, without worldly desires and ambition, rest in That which ever is in the midst of the enjoyer and the enjoyed!

The Sex Impulse

According to the Gita, impulse is Vegam or force. Lord Krishna says, “He who is able to endure here on earth, before he is liberated from the body, the force born of desire and passion, he is harmonised, he is a happy man”.

Impulse is a mighty force. It exerts influence on the mind. It is a force suddenly communicated to the mind.
Just as petrol or steam moves the engine, the instincts and impulses move this body. The instincts are the prime movers of all human activities. They give a push to the body and move the Indriyas to action. The instincts create habits. The instinctive impulses supply the driving power by which all mental activities are kept up. These impulses are mental forces. They operate through the mind and the intellect. They mould the life of a man. The mystery of life lies in them.
The attraction towards women in men is born of Rajas. That unknown attraction and happiness in their company is the seed of the sex impulse.

A sexual act produces a Samskara or impression in the subconscious mind or Chitta. This Samskara raises a Vritti or thought-wave in the mind and the Vritti again causes a Samskara. Enjoyment thickens the Vasanas. Through memory and imagination, a revival of the sexual desire comes in.

Even in a blind man who is a celibate who has not seen the face of a woman, the sexual impulse is very strong. Why? This is due to the force of Samskaras or impressions of previous births that are embedded in the subconscious mind. Whatever you do, whatever you think, are all lodged or printed or indelibly impressed in the layers of the Chitta or subconscious mind.

It is easy to control the conscious mind. But it is very difficult to control the subconscious mind. You may be a Sannyasi. You may be a moral man. Mark how the mind behaves or conducts itself in dreams. You begin to steal in dreams. You commit adultery in dreams. The sex impulses, ambitions and low desires are all ingrained in you and deep-rooted in the subconscious mind. Destroy the subconscious mind and its Samskaras through Vichara, Brahma-Bhavana and meditation on ‘Om’ and its meaning. A man who is established in mental Brahmacharya can never have even a single thought of evil in dreams.

When the impurities emerge from the subconscious mind and come to the surface of the conscious mind with formidable force, do not try to resist them. Repeat your Ishta Mantra. Do not think of your defects or evil qualities much. Do not worry yourself often: “I have got so many defects and weaknesses”. Cultivate Sattvic virtues. Through meditation, and by the development of positive qualities, through the Pratipaksha Bhavana method, all the negative qualities will die by themselves. This is the right method.

You may become old, your hair may turn gray, but your mind is ever young. The capacity may vanish, but the craving remains even when you have reached advanced senility. Cravings are the real seeds of birth. These craving-seeds give rise to Sankalpa and action. The wheel of Samsara is kept revolving by these cravings. Nip them in the bud. Then only will you be safe.

One’s purity can be gauged by one’s experiences in dream. If one is entirely free from any sexual thought in dreams, he has reached the climax of purity. Self-analysis and introspection are indispensable requisites to determine the state of one’s mind. A Jnani will have no wet dreams. He who is established in Brahmacharya will not get even a single bad dream. Dream serves as a criterion to judge our mental state or the degree of our mental purity. If you do not get impure dreams, you are growing in purity. The very idea of sex should vanish from the mind.

Sukadeva had this experience. Suka did not marry. He left his home and roamed about the world at large, stark naked. The separation was very painful for his father, Vyasa. Vyasa went out in search of his son. While he passed by a tank, the Apsaras, who were freely indulging in play, felt ashamed and put on their clothes hastily. Vyasa said, “Very strange indeed! I am old. I am putting on clothes. But when my son passed this way naked, you kept quiet, you remained unmoved”. The Apsaras replied, “O venerable sage, thy son knows not man and woman, but thou knowest”.

You cannot attain perfect Brahmacharya by limited effort. You will have to search out carefully this dire enemy, lust that lies hidden in the various corners of your heart. Just as the fox hides itself within the bush, so also, this lust hides itself in the substratum and corners of the mind. You can detect its presence only if you are vigilant. Intense self-examination is very necessary. Just as powerful enemies can be conquered only if you attack them from all sides, so also, you can keep the powerful senses under control only if you attack them from all sides, from within and from without, from above and from beneath. The senses are very turbulent. The powerful virus that causes syphilis is attacked on all sides by the doctor by various contrivances such as inunction or local rubbing, injection, mixture and powder. So also, the senses must be controlled by various methods such as fasting, restriction in diet, Pranayama, Japa, Kirtan, meditation, Vichara or enquiry of “Who am I?”, Pratyahara or abstraction, Dama or self-restraint, Asanas, Bandhas, Mudras, thought-control and destruction of Vasanas.

Lust cannot be completely rooted out of the mind except by the grace of the Lord. You are bound to succeed if you have faith in Him. You can destroy lust in the twinkling of an eye.
The Lord makes a dumb man speak and a lame man ascend a steep hill. Mere human effort alone will not suffice. The divine grace is needed. God helps those who help themselves.

Passion is a very strong desire. A mild desire becomes a strong passion by frequent
repetition or frequent enjoyment.

Women are eight times more passionate than men, but possess eight times more strength of control over the sexual impulses or the sexual urge. This is the weakness of man, though he may be physically and intellectually more powerful than a woman.

Sex Is In Imagination

Sex is the distinction between male and female. For a liberated sage, this world is full of Brahman only. For a passionate man, this world is full of woman.

If there is pleasure, why do the young educated men retire into forests? If there is pain, why do young men run after wealth, women and position? Mysterious is Maya! Mysterious is Moha! Try to understand the riddle of life and the riddle of the universe.

Maya havocs through the imagination of the mind. Woman is not beautiful, but the imagination is beautiful. Sugar is not sweet, but the imagination is sweet. Food is not palatable, but the imagination is palatable. Man is not weak, but the imagination is weak. Understand the nature of Maya and mind and become wise. Curb this imagination of the mind by Vichara or right thinking and rest in Brahman wherein there is neither imagination nor thought.

Beauty and ugliness are false imaginations of the mind. Mind itself is a false illusory product. Conceptions of the mind also must therefore be false. They are all like a mirage in the desert. What is beautiful for you is ugly for another. Beauty and ugliness are relative terms. Beauty is only a mental concept. It is only a mental projection. It is only a civilized man who talks much of the symmetry of form, good features, graceful gait, elegance of manners and graceful form. An African Negro has no idea of all these things. Beauty resides in the mind and not in the objects. Mango is not sweet; the idea of mango is sweet. It is all Vritti. It is all mental deception, mental conception, mental creation, mental Srishti. Destroy the Vritti; beauty vanishes. The husband stretches his own idea of beauty in his ugly wife and finds her very beautiful through passion. Shakespeare has rightly expressed this in his “Mid-summer-Night’s Dream”: “Cupid is painted blind. It finds Helen’s beauty in the brow of Egypt”.

The fly runs towards the fire or lamp thinking that it is a flower and gets burnt up. Even so, the passionate man runs towards a false beautiful form thinking that he can get there the real happiness and gets himself burnt up in the fire of lust.

The Value of Semen

Eminent doctors of the West say that various kinds of diseases arise from the loss of semen, particularly in young age.

Mark carefully the evil after-effects that follow the loss of seminal energy! Persons are physically, mentally and morally debilitated by wasting the seminal power on so many occasions for nothing. The body and the mind refuse to work energetically. There is physical and mental lethargy. You experience much exhaustion and weakness. He who has wasted the vital energy becomes easily irritable, loses his balance of mind and gets into a state of explosive fury for trifling things. It is the most powerful energy in the world. One sexual act shatters completely the brain and the nervous system.

The energy that is wasted during one sexual intercourse is tantamount to the energy that is spent in physical labour for ten days or the energy that is utilized in mental work for three days. Mark how precious is the vital fluid, semen! Do not waste this energy. Preserve it with great care. You will have wonderful vitality. When Veerya is not used, it is all transmuted into Ojas sakti or spiritual energy and stored up in the brain. Western doctors know little of this salient point. Most of your ailments are due to excessive seminal wastage.

The vital energy, the Veerya that supports your life, which is the Prana of Pranas, which shines in your sparkling eyes, which beams in your shining cheeks, is a great treasure for you. Remember this point well. Veerya is the quintessence of blood. One drop of semen is manufactured out of forty drops of blood. Mark here how valuable this fluid is!

According to Ayurveda, semen is the last Dhatu that is formed out of food. Out of food is manufactured chyle. Out of chyle comes blood. Out of blood comes flesh. Out of flesh comes fat. Out of fat comes bone. Out of bone comes marrow. Out of marrow comes semen. These are the Sapta Dhatus or the seven Dhatus that support this life and body. Mark here how precious is semen! It is the last essence. It is the Essence of essences. The Veerya comes out of the very marrow that lies concealed inside the bones.

Semen is found in a subtle state in all the cells of the body. Just as sugar is all-pervading in the sugar-cane, butter in milk, so also, semen is pervading the whole body. Just as the butter milk is thin after the butter is removed, so also, semen is thinned by its wastage. The more the wastage of semen the more is the weakness. In the Yoga Sastras it is said:
Maranam Bindu Patanat,
Jivanam Bindu Rakshanat.
Falling of semen brings death; preservation of semen gives life. Semen is the real vitality in men. It is the hidden treasure in man. It imparts Brahma-Tejas to the face and strength to the intellect.

If the spermatic secretion in men is continuous, it must either be expelled or be reabsorbed. As a result of the most patient and persevering scientific investigations, it has been found that whenever the seminal secretions are conserved and thereby reabsorbed into the system, it goes towards enriching the blood and strengthening the brain.

Excerpts from “Practice of Brahmacharya” by Swami Sivananda

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Words of Indian Saints Part #22

paramahansa-yogananda“You have read in the scriptures,” Master went on, “that God encased the human soul successively in three bodies-the idea, or causal body; the subtle astral body, seat of man’s mental and emotional natures; and the gross physical body. On earth a man is equipped with his physical senses. An astral being works with his consciousness and feelings and a body made of lifetrons. A causal-bodied being remains in the blissful realm of ideas.

“Man’s physical body is exposed to countless dangers, and is easily hurt or maimed; the ethereal astral body may occasionally be cut or bruised but is healed at once by mere willing.”

“The astral being does not have to contend painfully with death at the time of shedding his luminous body. Many of these beings nevertheless feel slightly nervous at the thought of dropping their astral form for the subtler causal one. The astral world is free from unwilling death, disease, and old age. These three dreads are the curse of earth, where man has allowed his consciousness to identify itself almost wholly with a frail physical body requiring constant aid from air, food, and sleep in order to exist at all.

“The astral body is not subject to cold or heat or other natural conditions. The anatomy includes an astral brain, or the thousand- petaled lotus of light, and six awakened centers in the sushumna, or astral cerebro-spinal axis. The heart draws cosmic energy as well as light from the astral brain, and pumps it to the astral nerves and body cells, or lifetrons. Astral beings can affect their bodies by lifetronic force or by mantric vibrations.

“Physical death is attended by the disappearance of breath and the disintegration of fleshly cells. Astral death consists of the dispersement of lifetrons, those manifest units of energy which constitute the life of astral beings. At physical death a being loses his consciousness of flesh and becomes aware of his subtle body in the astral world. Experiencing astral death in due time, a being thus passes from the consciousness of astral birth and death to that of physical birth and death. These recurrent cycles of astral and physical encasement are the ineluctable destiny of all unenlightened beings. Scriptural definitions of heaven and hell sometimes stir man’s deeper-than-subconscious memories of his long series of experiences in the blithesome astral and disappointing terrestrial worlds.”

“Man as an individualized soul is essentially causal-bodied,” my guru explained. “That body is a matrix of the thirty-five ideas required by God as the basic or causal thought forces from which He later formed the subtle astral body of nineteen elements and the gross physical body of sixteen elements.

“The nineteen elements of the astral body are mental, emotional, and lifetronic. The nineteen components are intelligence; ego; feeling; mind (sense-consciousness); five instruments of knowledge, the subtle counterparts of the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch; five instruments of action, the mental correspondence for the executive abilities to procreate, excrete, talk, walk, and exercise manual skill; and five instruments of life force, those empowered to perform the crystallizing, assimilating, eliminating, metabolizing, and circulating functions of the body. This subtle astral encasement of nineteen elements survives the death of the physical body, which is made of sixteen gross metallic and nonmetallic elements.

“In thirty-five thought categories of the causal body, God elaborated all the complexities of man’s nineteen astral and sixteen physical counterparts. By condensation of vibratory forces, first subtle, then gross, He produced man’s astral body and finally his physical form. According to the law of relativity, by which the Prime Simplicity has become the bewildering manifold, the causal cosmos and causal body are different from the astral cosmos and astral body; the physical cosmos and physical body are likewise characteristically at variance with the other forms of creation.

“The fleshly body is made of the fixed, objectified dreams of the Creator. The dualities are ever-present on earth: disease and health, pain and pleasure, loss and gain. Human beings find limitation and resistance in three-dimensional matter. When man’s desire to live is severely shaken by disease or other causes, death arrives; the heavy overcoat of the flesh is temporarily shed. The soul, however, remains encased in the astral and causal bodies. The adhesive force by which all three bodies are held together is desire. The power of unfulfilled desires is the root of all man’s slavery.

Body signifies any soul-encasement, whether gross or subtle. The three bodies are cages for the Bird of Paradise.

“Physical desires are rooted in egotism and sense pleasures. The compulsion or temptation of sensory experience is more powerful than the desire-force connected with astral attachments or causal perceptions.

“Astral desires center around enjoyment in terms of vibration. Astral beings enjoy the ethereal music of the spheres and are entranced by the sight of all creation as exhaustless expressions of changing light. The astral beings also smell, taste, and touch light. Astral desires are thus connected with an astral being’s power to precipitate all objects and experiences as forms of light or as condensed thoughts or dreams.

“Causal desires are fulfilled by perception only. The nearly-free beings who are encased only in the causal body see the whole universe as realizations of the dream-ideas of God; they can materialize anything and everything in sheer thought. Causal beings therefore consider the enjoyment of physical sensations or astral delights as gross and suffocating to the soul’s fine sensibilities. Causal beings work out their desires by materializing them instantly. Those who find themselves covered only by the delicate veil of the causal body can bring universes into manifestation even as the Creator. Because all creation is made of the cosmic dream-texture, the soul thinly clothed in the causal has vast realizations of power.

“A soul, being invisible by nature, can be distinguished only by the presence of its body or bodies. The mere presence of a body signifies that its existence is made possible by unfulfilled desires.

“So long as the soul of man is encased in one, two, or three body- containers, sealed tightly with the corks of ignorance and desires, he cannot merge with the sea of Spirit. When the gross physical receptacle is destroyed by the hammer of death, the other two coverings-astral and causal-still remain to prevent the soul from consciously joining the Omnipresent Life. When desirelessness is attained through wisdom, its power disintegrates the two remaining vessels. The tiny human soul emerges, free at last; it is one with the Measureless Amplitude.”

“The causal world is indescribably subtle,” he replied. “In order to understand it, one would have to possess such tremendous powers of concentration that he could close his eyes and visualize the astral cosmos and the physical cosmos in all their vastness-the luminous balloon with the solid basket-as existing in ideas only. If by this superhuman concentration one succeeded in converting or resolving the two cosmoses with all their complexities into sheer ideas, he would then reach the causal world and stand on the borderline of fusion between mind and matter. There one perceives all created things- solids, liquids, gases, electricity, energy, all beings, gods, men, animals, plants, bacteria-as forms of consciousness, just as a man can close his eyes and realize that he exists, even though his body is invisible to his physical eyes and is present only as an idea.

Causal beings see the difference between their bodies and thoughts to be merely ideas. As a man, closing his eyes, can visualize a dazzling white light or a faint blue haze, so causal beings by thought alone are able to see, hear, feel, taste, and touch; they create anything, or dissolve it, by the power of cosmic mind.

“Both death and rebirth in the causal world are in thought. Causal- bodied beings feast only on the ambrosia of eternally new knowledge. They drink from the springs of peace, roam on the trackless soil of perceptions, swim in the ocean-endlessness of bliss. Lo! see their bright thought-bodies zoom past trillions of Spirit-created planets, fresh bubbles of universes, wisdom-stars, spectral dreams of golden nebulae, all over the skiey blue bosom of Infinity!

“When a soul is out of the cocoon of the three bodies it escapes forever from the law of relativity and becomes the ineffable Ever- Existent. Behold the butterfly of Omnipresence, its wings etched with stars and moons and suns! The soul expanded into Spirit remains alone in the region of lightless light, darkless dark, thoughtless thought, intoxicated with its ecstasy of joy in God’s dream of cosmic creation.”

“When a soul finally gets out of the three jars of bodily delusions,” Master continued, “it becomes one with the Infinite without any loss of individuality. Christ had won this final freedom even before he was born as Jesus. In three stages of his past, symbolized in his earth- life as the three days of his experience of death and resurrection, he had attained the power to fully arise in Spirit.

“The interpenetration of man’s three bodies is expressed in many ways through his threefold nature,” my great guru went on. “In the wakeful state on earth a human being is conscious more or less of his three vehicles. When he is sensuously intent on tasting, smelling, touching, listening, or seeing, he is working principally through his physical body. Visualizing or willing, he is working mainly through his astral body. His causal medium finds expression when man is thinking or diving deep in introspection or meditation; the cosmical thoughts of genius come to the man who habitually contacts his causal body. In this sense an individual may be classified broadly as ‘a material man,’ ‘an energetic man,’ or ‘an intellectual man.’

“A man identifies himself about sixteen hours daily with his physical vehicle. Then he sleeps; if he dreams, he remains in his astral body, effortlessly creating any object even as do the astral beings. If man’s sleep be deep and dreamless, for several hours he is able to transfer his consciousness, or sense of I-ness, to the causal body; such sleep is revivifying. A dreamer is contacting his astral and not his causal body; his sleep is not fully refreshing.”

In this chapter of my autobiography I have obeyed my guru’s behest and spread the glad tiding, though it confound once more an incurious generation. Groveling, man knows well; despair is seldom alien; yet these are perversities, no part of man’s true lot. The day he wills, he is set on the path to freedom. Too long has he hearkened to the dank pessimism of his “dust-thou-art” counselors, heedless of the unconquerable soul.

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

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The Path of Egoity

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26Anava Marga

Most people on this Earth are following a path of self-interest and selfishness. No doubt, it is the most popular path, and it has its own pandits and masters, who teach how to perfect the path of the external ego, how to perfect worldliness, how to perfect the trinity of I, me and mine, how to perfect self-indulgence.

Enamored with the senses, unaware of and thus not interested in dharma or his inner Divinity, a man surrounds himself with the pleasures and distractions of the world: women, wine, fine apparel, rare fruits and flowers and the intellectual diversions found in books and games.

One of these I call the ânava mârga, or the path of egoism. True, it is not a traditional path, but it is a path well worn, well known in all human traditions. In fact, you could say there are three such untraditional paths, three worldly mârgas: ânava, karma and mâyâ. The last two bonds, karma and mâyâ, are the first to begin to diminish their hold on the soul as one proceeds on the path to enlightenment.

The karma mârga is when the soul is totally enmeshed in the actions and reactions of the past and making new karmas so swiftly that little personal identity, or egoism, is experienced, like a small boat bouncing on a vast ocean of ignorance, the ignorance of the mâyâ mârga. And when these fetters begin to loosen, the ânava, the personal ego identity, thoughts of “me,” “my” and “mine,” should also begin to go, but often don’t. When karma and mâyâ begin to go, ânava often becomes stronger and stronger and stronger.

Here the realization comes that “Yes! I am a person on this Earth with the rights of all. I am no longer bound and harassed by experience. I can adjust experience, create new experience for myself and for others. I can be the controller. I am I.” The I becomes the realization and sometimes the end of the path of the karma and mâyâ mârga. The I, that all-important personal identity, so strong, becomes the realization of the small and limited “self,” which appears to be a big and real “self” to those who have found this path, which is not the spiritual path, but the path of grayness; while the karma and mâyâ mârgas are the paths of darkness. Ånava, the personal ego, finding oneself, with a small “s,” the personal identity, gaining intellectual freedom are all modern clichés.

To offset the negative with the positive better explains the positive. To understand the pure essence of ignorance, where it comes from, its values, beliefs and motivations, better defines the heights of wisdom out of which comes dharma and aspirations for mukti. We cannot advance on the path without a starting place. No race was ever won but that everyone began at the same place.

Self-Concern

The businessman on the ânava mârga is generous by all appearances, gives enough to gain praise, adulation and to make friends. In proportion to his wealth, he gives a pittance. There is always some attachment to the gift, some favor to be eventually reaped. The gift is a purchase in disguise.

Television is a window into the ânava mârga. We see extremely successful professional people who maybe have started on the ânava mârga and have bypassed it to the artful acting portrayal of people on the ânava mârga.

Before the ânava mârga, there is only confusion, unqualified thoughts, desires that are only motivative or directional, not crystallized into any kind of a concept that can be manifested toward a fulfillment. The confusion arises out of the drive for self preservation. All animal instincts are alive in such a human being. He does not hold to promises, does not seek to strive, is a proverbial burden on society. Society is made up of ânava mârgîs and those who live in the other mârgas. Deception, theft, murder, anger, jealousy and fear are often the occupation and the emotions of those living without a personal identity, a well-defined ego.
A personal identity and well-defined ego is the ânava, and the pursuit of the development of that is the mârga. Each purusha, human soul, must go through the ânava mârga, a natural and required path whose bloom is the fulfillment of the senses, of the intellect and all the complexities of doing. It is prior to our entrance upon the ânava mârga and while we are happily on the ânava mârga that we create the karmas to be understood and overcome later when we walk the charyâ and kriyâ mârgas. You have to understand before you can overcome. This is the time that we “do ourselves in” and later understand the all-pervasiveness of Siva, the laws of karma, dharma, sansâra. Yes, of course, this is the time the mischief is done.

Opportunism

The ânava mârgî looks at God from a distance. He does not want to get too close and does not want to drift too far away, lives between lower consciousness and higher consciousness, between the manipûra, svâdhish†hana and mûlâdhâra and the lower three, atala, vitala and sutala, which represent fear, anger and jealousy. He is guided by reason. That is why he can come into the other mârgas. Therefore, God is at a distance. He sees himself pluralistically, separate from God, coexistent with God. The higher chakras are dreaming benignly, waiting for the consciousness to explore them.

Only when someone begins to love God is he on the path of spiritual unfoldment. Only then is he a seeker. Only then does his budding love begin to focus on religious icons. Only then is he able to nurture his love into becoming a bhaktar and at the same time a religious person, a giving person. This is the charyâ path. We come onto the charyâ mârga from the ânava mârga. We come to Lord Ganesha’s feet from the ânava mârga. He is now the guide. The personal ego has lost its hold.

The ânava mârga, and the glue that holds it together, is ignorance of the basic tenets of Hinduism. There is no way one can be on this mârga if he truly accepts the existence of God pervading all form, sustaining all form and rearranging all form. There is no way this mârga could be pursued by one understanding karma, seeing his manifest acts replayed back to him through the lives of others, his secret diabolical thoughts attacking him through the lips of others. The ânava mârga does not include this knowledge. The dharma of a perfect universe and an orderly life, the consciousness of “the world is my family, all animals are my pets” is an abhorrent idea to someone on the ânava mârga, especially if he is casted by birth in this life. The ânava mârgî abhors the idea of reincarnation. To pay the bill of one’s indiscretions in another life is not what ânava is all about. There is a forgetfulness here. When you renounce your childhood, you forget that you ever were a child. You forget the moods, the emotions, the joys and the fears and all that was important at that time.

Self-surrender

The yoga mârga must come naturally out of intense bhakti and internalized worship. The intensity of bhakti is developed on the kriyâ mârga. The final remains of the ego are pulverized on the charyâ mârga, where Sivathondu, selfless service, is performed unrelentingly with no thought of reward, but a hope that the pu∫ya, merit, will be beneficial in the long run. The ânava mârga is easy to leave through total surrender to God, Gods and guru, along with seva, service to religious institutions. Surrender, prapatti, is the key.

It is not without a great ordeal and effort, soul-searching and decision-making that one mârga bends into the other or bows before the other before it releases the consciousness to go on. One mârga must really bend before the other before one can be released. Before entering another mârga, it is a matter of giving up, which is painful, most especially for the ânava mârga people, for whom suffering is no stranger.

Ånava people are always pursuing something, the fulfillment comes on the ânava mârga, and there is fulfillment, but in a never-stopping pursuit of fulfillment. As soon as we stop the pursuit of fulfillment, we become unhappy, empty, feel unfulfilled and, I might even say, at times depressed. The ânava mârga is the I-ness, me-ness, mine-ness; me, my, I. “I want, I give, I get, I collect.” I, me and mine are the key words here. The true ânava mârgî is the owner, the getter, the consumer, not always the producer, vulnerable to the emotions of fear, who uses jealousy as an asset to obtain.

There are two mârgas before the ânava mârga begins, within the realm of deep ignorance. Here reside the masses who live in confusion, the professional consumers who know the generosity of society, who will never in this lifetime manifest a desire, a goal, a thought for the future worthy enough to be accepted on the ânava mârga. They are the slaves of the ânava mârgîs, those whom, as slaves, they manipulate without conscience.

Pernicious Ego

Ånava is one’s personal ego, his identity and place in the world and position on the planet. If his motives are proper and the position is earned on account of good deeds, it is not ânava. But if, when praised, he takes credit for himself, it is ânava. Ånava is the tricky substance of the mind. It is behind every door, it’s peeking in every window. It is the first thing to come at birth and the last thing to go at death. To break the chain of ânava, the yoking to the Infinite beyond comprehension in any state of mind must be complete and final. And yet, while a physical body is still maintained, the ânava elf is still lurking in the shadows, saying “praise is better than blame, name must come into fame, and shame is to be avoided at all cost.” This is the ânava routine. It keeps people held down on the planet in the instinctive-intellectual mind of remorse and forgiveness and suffering the adjustments to circumstance that occur beyond their power of understanding.

If we were to admit that there are really seven mârgas, we would find that charyâ, kriyâ, yoga and jñâna are progressive states of fullness, and the ânava mârga, by comparison, is a static state of emptiness. This feeling of emptiness is a motivative, driving force of desire toward the attainment of the feeling of fullness. The feeling of fullness is the awakening of the higher chakras, of course. And the constant feeling of completeness is, of course, the permanent awakening of the sahasrâra chakra.

The path of the ânava teaches us what to do and what not to do. It creates the karmas to be lived through and faced in many lives to come. And when dharma is finally accepted and understood and the religious patterns of life are encompassed in one’s own personal daily experience, then and only then do we see the end of this path in view. So, the ânava mârga is definitely not a never-ending maze or a no-man’s land. Though a state of ignorance, it is still a state of experiential learning.

People try to fill their emptiness with things. They work so hard for their money, thinking, “Oh, when I can buy this object for my home I will feel fulfilled.” They buy it with their hard-earned money. A day or two later, after ownership has taken effect, the initial fulfillment of ownership wanes, and unfulfillment, which has always been there, takes over. There is no fulfillment in the instinctive-intellectual mind.

Bound to the Path

These days egos get gratified by going to heads of corporations, meeting important people and bowing before heads of state. It is on the charyâ mârga that we learn that rich and poor, the powerful and lowly are all purushas, pure souls, jîvas encompassed in a physical body. And on this mârga we learn to bow before God and the Gods. We learn that their home, their officiating place, is the temple, the home shrine and under sacred trees. Being in their presence makes the charyâ mârgî feel small. The first glimmer of the feeling of smallness is the first footstep on the charyâ mârga.

Those who are not successful in life yet, and experience the repercussion of karmas of past lives denying them things, experiences, security and wealth, are the ruthless ânava mârgîs. For those who have fulfilled their dharmas, and desire has waned for more—they don’t need more money, they don’t need more food, they don’t need more houses, they don’t need more respect—the ânava wanes of its own accord, like an old leaf on a tree turns color and falls to the ground. They enter the charyâ mârga and kriyâ mârga with matured respect and humility.

The one who has little desires the most. He takes issues with the smallest things. The instinctive desire to save face is ever prevalent in his mind, for his face is all he’s got. Even the jîvanmukta doesn’t like unjust criticisms, but he is bound by his wisdom to nondefensiveness, just, unjust, true or false. “Let them say what they have to say, and if it affects me, it is helping me on the way to my final mukti.” He would bless them for that. The ânava mârgî is not like people on the other mârgas, who have mixed feelings about these issues. The ânava mârgî is a prefect in retaliation. That comes as one of the powers or boons of living on this mârga, along with deception and the ability to lie one’s way out of a situation. And to save face, place and position, no matter how lowly they might seem, is the goal of life for the ânava mârgî.

Exiting the Anava Marga

There is a little of the ânava always with us right up to the moment of mukti. You don’t get off the ânava mârga. Individual ego slowly diminishes as the soul unfolds from mârga to mârga. Nandi the bull represents the ego, personal identity, and in a large traditional Hindu temple, we see many images of Nandi, getting progressively smaller as we approach the innermost sanctum. This indicates the soul’s progression toward God or the diminishing ego.

Self-preservation is a very important part of the personal ego. But then, later, as progressive steps are taken, spiritual identity fulfills the emptiness, as water fills up a container. Only at the moment that mukti occurs does the container vanish. Until then the ânava is like smoldering coals in a burnt-out fire. New wood can be thrown upon them. They can be fanned up. Detractors to a spiritual movement will often try to reawaken the ânava of its leader and kill out the rival movement by creating his downfall.

It is no accident that the Hindu sages can understand the ânava within man. Yes, of course, they passed through it themselves and are just tapping their own memory patterns, seeing the actions of others and knowing the outcome.

Without sâdhana, penance tends to be spontaneous, erratic; whereas consistent sâdhana is the regulation of penance. Now the soul begins dropping off the bonds of karma, mâyâ and ânava as it unfolds into bhakti, love. All this is not without being a painful process. Therefore, the protective mechanism of fear, which in itself is an avoidance process, is right there to help – in the chakra just below the mûlâdhâra. The presence or absence of spiritual surrender and willingness to serve shows whether a person is on the ânava mârga or on the charyâ mârga. Devotees on the charyâ mârga are striving to unfold spiritually and reach the kriyâ mârga. People on the ânava mârga are not striving at all. They are their own self-appointed teachers and proceed at their own pace. When we are on the charyâ mârga, we have a lot of help from family, friends and our entire religious community.  When we are on the kriyâ mârga, the entire Hindu community, the elders and others all get behind us to help us along our way. Then when we are finally on the yoga mârga, we have all the saptha rishis helping us. The sat gurus are helping, too, and all three million swâmîs and sâdhus in the world are helping us along the path at this stage. When we have entered the jñâna mârga, we are bringing forth new knowledge, giving forth blessings and meeting the karmas that unwind until mukti.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

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Words of Indian Saints Part #10

paramahansa-yoganandaIntuition is soul guidance, appearing naturally in man during those instants when his mind is calm. Nearly everyone has had the experience of an inexplicably correct “hunch,” or has transferred his thoughts effectively to another person.

The human mind, free from the static of restlessness, can perform through its antenna of intuition all the functions of complicated radio mechanisms – sending and receiving thoughts, and tuning out undesirable ones. As the power of a radio depends on the amount of electrical current it can utilize, so the human radio is energized according to the power of will possessed by each individual.

All thoughts vibrate eternally in the cosmos. By deep concentration, a master is able to detect the thoughts of any mind, living or dead. Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived. The erroneous thoughts of man result from imperfections in his discernment. The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion it may mirror the divine vision in the universe.

Radio and television have brought the instantaneous sound and sight of remote persons to the firesides of millions: the first faint scientific intimations that man is an all-pervading spirit. Not a body confined to a point in space, but the vast soul, which the ego in most barbaric modes conspires in vain to cramp.

“Very strange, very wonderful, seemingly very improbable phenomena may yet appear which, when once established, will not astonish us more than we are now astonished at all that science has taught us during the last century,” Charles Robert Richet, Nobel Prizeman in physiology, has declared. “It is assumed that the phenomena which we now accept without surprise, do not excite our astonishment because they are understood. But this is not the case. If they do not surprise us it is not because they are understood, it is because they are familiar; for if that which is not understood ought to surprise us, we should be surprised at everything – the fall of a stone thrown into the air, the acorn which becomes an oak, mercury which expands when it is heated, iron attracted by a magnet, phosphorus which burns when it is rubbed. . . . The science of today is a light matter; the revolutions and evolutions which it will experience in a hundred thousand years will far exceed the most daring anticipations. The truths – those surprising, amazing, unforeseen truths – which our descendants will discover, are even now all around us, staring us in the eyes, so to speak, and yet we do not see them. But it is not enough to say that we do not see them; we do not wish to see them; for as soon as an unexpected and unfamiliar fact appears, we try to fit it into the framework of the commonplaces of acquired knowledge, and we are indignant that anyone should dare to experiment further.”

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

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Yoga Union

blindmen-elephantYoga unites us all. There is a beautiful Indian story which can vividly illustrate why we need Yoga in our life. It talks about several blind men who tried to describe a big elephant by feeling different parts of his body. The one who kept his tail, said: “The elephant is like a snake.” The second man, groping one leg, exclaimed: “No, an elephant is like a big tower.” “You are both wrong,” – said the third-wielding animal’s ear: “The elephant looks exactly like a big fan.” The fourth man, who drove his hands on one of the tusks, shrugged his shoulders and said with confidence: “This elephant does not fit under any of your descriptions. He looks like a horn.” “All you’re crazy” – said the fifth man touching the trunk – “The elephant resembles the trunk of the banana grass.” These five people perceive the same elephant differently. The elephant does not change, and if the blind suddenly saw the light, they would understand the reason for such different descriptions: they would have realized that they were talking about different aspects of the same. Exactly similar knowledge most of us have about themselves. We see the division – we perceive ourselves as separate from the environment and other people, because in fact we are like blind men, having no real idea or knowledge about themselves and our environment. By practicing yoga we increase inner light that can dissipate darkness of separateness (ego) and help realize our infinite nature.

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Evolution for Everybody

swami sivanandaSadhanas (practice) differ according to the stage of evolution, the strength of ego, weaknesses and the nature of the lower Self. A strong and sturdy constitution and a fine health are in themselves a good qualification for the student. All other qualifications can be developed when one is placed in favourable environments. In the spiritual path any type of student can progress and evolve if he is endowed with Sraddha, sincerity and faith. There is no need for special talents or qualification. There is no need also for a deep study for years and Japa on one leg for decades. A willing, loving heart is what is needed. The student must have a new angle of vision and try to crush the ego at each step by discipline, discrimination and dispassion. Charge the mind with Divine Consciousness through constant Japa, prayers and systematic meditation.

Sri Swami Sivananda

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Buddha Speaks of Love, Anger & Joy

Gautama-Buddha“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.” 

“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.”

“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.

“If we fail to look after others when they need help, who will look after us?”

“A man asked Gautama Buddha, “I want happiness.”
Buddha said, “First remove “I,” that’s Ego, then remove “want,” that’s Desire.
See now you are left with only “Happiness.”

“In separateness lies the world’s greatest misery; in compassion lies the world’s true strength.”

“a dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. a man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”

“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path. ”

“Speak the truth do not become angered and give when asked, even be it a little. By these three conditions one goes to the presence of the gods.”

“He is able who thinks he is able.”

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. ”

Gautama Buddha

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Ram Dass Speaks of Practice

Ram Dass“Just because you are seeing divine light, experiencing waves of bliss, or conversing with Gods and Goddesses is no reason to not know your zip code.”

“Our journey is about being more deeply involved in Life and yet less attached to it.”

“I can do nothing for you but work on myself…you can do nothing for me but work on yourself!”

“We’re being trained through our incarnations–trained to seek love, trained to seek light, trained to see the grace in suffering.”

“In mystical traditions, it is one’s own readiness that makes experiences exoteric or esoteric.
The secret isn’t that you’re not being told.
The secret is that you’re not able to hear.”

“Spiritual practices help us move from identifying with the ego to identifying with the soul. Old age does that for you too. It spiritualizes people naturally.”

“All spiritual practices are illusions created by illusionists to escape illusion.”

“The Ego is an exquisite instrument. Enjoy it, use it–just don’t get lost in it.”

– Ram Dass