Words of Indian Saints Part #19

paramahansa-yoganandaMarconi, the great inventor, made the following admission of scientific inadequacy before the finalities: “The inability of science to solve life is absolute. This fact would be truly frightening were it not for faith. The mystery of life is certainly the most persistent problem ever placed before the thought of man.”

“‘Woman,’ he said, ‘seek divine wealth, not the paltry tinsel of earth. After acquiring inward treasure, you will find that outward supply is always forthcoming.’

“The Son of God is the Christ or Divine Consciousness in man. No mortal can glorify God. The only honor that man can pay his Creator is to seek Him; man cannot glorify an Abstraction that he does not know. The ‘glory’ or nimbus around the head of the saints is a symbolic witness of their capacity to render divine homage.”

Though the human race and its works disappear tracelessly by time or bomb, the sun does not falter in its course; the stars keep their invariable vigil. Cosmic law cannot be stayed or changed, and man would do well to put himself in harmony with it. If the cosmos is against might, if the sun wars not with the planets but retires at dueful time to give the stars their little sway, what avails our mailed fist? Shall any peace indeed come out of it? Not cruelty but good will arms the universal sinews; a humanity at peace will know the endless fruits of victory, sweeter to the taste than any nurtured on the soil of blood.

Though India’s civilization is ancient above any other, few historians have noted that her feat of national survival is by no means an accident, but a logical incident in the devotion to eternal verities which India has offered through her best men in every generation. By sheer continuity of being, by intransitivity before the ages-can dusty scholars truly tell us how many?-India has given the worthiest answer of any people to the challenge of time.

The Upanishads have minutely classified every stage of spiritual advancement. A siddha (“perfected being”) has progressed from the state of a jivanmukta (“freed while living”) to that of a paramukta (“supremely free”-full power over death); the latter has completely escaped from the mayic thralldom and its reincarnational round. The paramukta therefore seldom returns to a physical body; if he does, he is an avatar, a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world.

“‘The substance of a dream is held in materialization by the subconscious thought of the dreamer. When that cohesive thought is withdrawn in wakefulness, the dream and its elements dissolve. A man closes his eyes and erects a dream-creation which, on awakening, he effortlessly dematerializes. He follows the divine archetypal pattern. Similarly, when he awakens in cosmic consciousness, he will effortlessly dematerialize the illusions of the cosmic dream.

The karmic law requires that every human wish find ultimate fulfillment. Desire is thus the chain which binds man to the reincarnational wheel.

“Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that some day you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world-so make the acquaintanceship of God now,” the great guru told his disciples. “Prepare yourself for the coming astral journey of death by daily riding in the balloon of God-perception. Through delusion you are perceiving yourself as a bundle of flesh and bones, which at best is a nest of troubles. Meditate unceasingly, that you may quickly behold yourself as the Infinite Essence, free from every form of misery. Cease being a prisoner of the body; using the secret key of Kriya, learn to escape into Spirit.”

The great guru taught his disciples to avoid theoretical discussion of the scriptures. “He only is wise who devotes himself to realizing, not reading only, the ancient revelations,” he said. “Seek truth in meditation, not in moldy books. Look in the sky to find the moon, not in the pond.”-Persian Proverb. “Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man’s ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful.”

“We know that man is usually helpless against the insurgent sway of evil passions, but these are rendered powerless and man finds no motive in their indulgence when there dawns on him a consciousness of superior and lasting bliss through Kriya. Here the give-up, the negation of the lower passions, synchronizes with a take-up, the assertion of a beatitude. Without such a course, hundreds of moral maxims which run in mere negatives are useless to us.

“Our eagerness for worldly activity kills in us the sense of spiritual awe. We cannot comprehend the Great Life behind all names and forms, just because science brings home to us how we can use the powers of nature; this familiarity has bred a contempt for her ultimate secrets. Our relation with nature is one of practical business. We tease her, so to speak, to know how she can be used to serve our purposes; we make use of her energies, whose Source yet remains unknown. In science our relation with nature is one that exists between a man and his servant, or in a philosophical sense she is like a captive in the witness box. We cross-examine her, challenge her, and minutely weigh her evidence in human scales which cannot measure her hidden values. On the other hand, when the self is in communion with a higher power, nature automatically obeys, without stress or strain, the will of man. This effortless command over nature is called ‘miraculous’ by the uncomprehending materialist.

For the faults of the many, judge not the whole. Everything on earth is of mixed character, like a mingling of sand and sugar. Be like the wise ant which seizes only the sugar, and leaves the sand untouched.

In his youth Kabir was approached by two disciples who wanted minute intellectual guidance along the mystic path. The master responded simply: “Path presupposes distance; If He be near, no path needest thou at all. Verily it maketh me smile To hear of a fish in water athirst!”

“Forget you were born a Hindu, and don’t be an American. Take the best of them both,” Master said in his calm way of wisdom. “Be your true self, a child of God. Seek and incorporate into your being the best qualities of all your brothers, scattered over the earth in various races.”

“Lord, he who remembers Thee as the Sole Giver will never lack the sweetness of friendship among mortals.”

A passage in Eusebius relates an interesting encounter between Socrates and a Hindu sage. The passage runs: “Aristoxenus, the musician, tells the following story about the Indians. One of these men met Socrates at Athens, and asked him what was the scope of his philosophy. ‘An inquiry into human phenomena,’ replied Socrates. At this the Indian burst out laughing. ‘How can a man inquire into human phenomena,’ he said, ‘when he is ignorant of divine ones?'” The Aristoxenus mentioned was a pupil of Aristotle, and a noted writer on harmonics. His date is 330 B.C.

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

The Subconscious Mind #2

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26Meditation’s Great Obstacle

Things that you cannot face in yourself you will hate when you see them in someone else. To counteract this, your universal love, the platform for Self Realization, must be awakened into the emotions of the instinctive mind and filter out into the conscious mind. So, as you are meditating and the various aspects of your subconscious come up, face them positively, reprogram them beautifully, and they will settle back into simply a memory pattern, resolved and incapable of disturbing you again.

If you see something in someone else you do not like and it is affecting you emotionally, sit down and face it within your own subconscious mind. The sore spot is located there. If you feel someone is doing something that you do not think he should be doing, and this really  gets on your nerves, just know that under the right circumstances you may do the same thing, because the tendency to react to it is there in your subconscious. Get into yourself and reprogram that area of your subconscious with good, positive affirmations. Firm up your lifestyle, be more strict with yourself, use your willpower and think positively. Do not allow a weak link in a chain of habit patterns to bar your spiritual unfoldment even for a moment.

One of the biggest barriers on the spiritual path is to dislike our own subconscious as we become familiar with it. We must watch this pitfall very closely. The subconscious mind is not an enemy. It is just a well-used piece of equipment that we are renewing. We have to bless the subconscious mind and look at it as a vital tool to help us in our spiritual evolution.

The point I want to make is: do not fear the subconscious mind. Realize that it has not been programmed as it should be. Therefore, the program has to be changed. Realize that your superconsciousness is the master programmer. Get busy and reprogram your subconscious through the power of affirmation. You can do it through the powers of meditation.

Of course, there is a portion of the subconscious mind that remains more or less the same, handling the instinctive, involuntary processes of the physical body. But by following a sattvic diet, which is conducive to meditation, this area of the subconscious also begins to improve. As we improve food intake and elimination processes, we stop storing up poisons in our cells. As stored poisons are released within the body, they are eliminated regularly. This more physical area of the subconscious mind is also improved through proper breathing, proper posture, hatha yoga, getting plenty of sun, exercise, walking and all of the many wonderful things that benefit the physical body.

Add to your contemplative lifestyle a craft. Working with your hands in doing a craft as a hobby, taking physical substance and turning it into something different, new and beautiful—this kind of creativity is important in remolding the subconscious mind. It is also symbolic. You are actually remolding something on the physical plane and, by doing so, educating yourself in the process of changing the appearance of a physical structure, thus making it easier to change the more subtle mental and emotional structures within your own subconscious mind.

It is a principle on the path that until we are rather advanced we do not really know whether we have reprogrammed the subconscious mind or not, or if the reprogramming has been done correctly. However, we do know when we create something with our hands whether it is done correctly and carefully. We also know when it is finished, for we can see it on the physical plane. Taking a physical substance into our hands, using it carefully and systematically, and disciplining ourselves to finish that which we have begun is a powerful process. By doing this, we overcome habit patterns of carelessness and of not being able to pay attention to details. We also overcome the habit of becoming distracted. So, choose a hobby or a craft.

Seeing Oneself In Others

As soon as the subconscious mind has been positively reprogrammed, even just a little, the channels of intuition begin to open, and you feel peaceful. Disturbances within your mind subside. At this stage on the path you often wonder if you are making progress anymore. You hold a consciousness like being in an airplane going a thousand miles an hour while holding the feeling of not moving. When you feel as if nothing is happening to you inside anymore, you are living in an intuitive state, the eternity of the moment. Your intuition is now penetrating your external mind all of the time.

When your subconscious has been cleared of past reactionary patterns and reprogrammed thoroughly, you do not take exception to things that happen in the world. In understanding, you love everyone and embrace every event. You intuitively sense just what they are all going through, because you have in your memory banks knowledge of each happening acquired during all the lives you have ever lived.

Man has not always realized that a subconscious area of mind exists. For hundreds of years, humanity in the West believed that the conscious state was the only reality. Humanity has had religious inclinations also, and believed in superconsciousness, but felt that superconsciousness was totally outside and away from the individual self. That is why God is talked of as being way up in the heaven, and the angels high in the sky.

Why was God supposed to be outside the being of man, way up in the sky? It was because the subconscious area of mind was in-between. From this limited perspective, man saw himself as a little, insignificant nothing that has come from someplace, not knowing for sure when or how he got here in this conscious state. He knew he was a kind and hateful, generous and greedy, jealous, intellectual, instinctive being. He knew that. He knows it today. That is how one gets along through life. You have to fight for what you want. You have to argue. You have to be jealous, or else how are you going to get anyplace? You have to be quick-tempered to dominate others. You have to scare people, get your own way and elbow your way through life. That is the way to live when totally in the conscious mind.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Obstacles in God-realization #5

Aimless Wandering

Swami Sivananda

Some aspirants have got a habit of wandering aimlessly. They cannot stick to one place even for a week. The wandering habit must be checked. They want to see new places, new faces and want to talk with new people. A rolling stone gathers no moss. A Sadhaka should stick to one place at least for a period of twelve years (one Tapah period). If his health is delicate, he can stay for six months in one place during summer and rainy season and in another place for six months during winter. Sadhana suffers if one wanders constantly. Those who want to do rigorous Tapas and Sadhana must stay in one place. Too much walking produces weakness and fatigue.

Lingual Diarrhea

Much energy is wasted by too much talking. The energy that is spent in talking must be conserved and utilized for divine contemplation. talkative man is unfit for the spiritual path. Practise Mauna (Silence) daily for two hours and especially during meals. On Sundays observe full Mauna for 24 hours. Do a lot of Japa and meditation during Mauna. The Mauna that is observed during meditation cannot be taken as Mauna. Mauna should be observed by householders at such a time when there are great opportunities for talking and when visitors come to meet. Now only the impulses of speech can be checked. Ladies are very talkative. They create troubles in the house by idle talk and gossiping. They should observe Mauna particularly. You should speak measured words only. Too much talking is Rajasic nature.

Discussing too much

Too much discussions end in enmity and hostility. Much energy is wasted in useless discussions. Intellect is a help if it is used in the right direction of Atmic Vichara. Intellect is a hindrance if it is used in unnecessary discussions. Intellect takes the aspirant to the threshold of intuition. Thus far and no further. Reason helps in inferring the existence of God and finding out suitable methods for Self-realisation. Intuition transcends reason but does not contradict reason. Intuition is direct perception of Truth. There is no reasoning here. Reasoning concerns matters of the physical plane. Wherever there is ‘Why’ and ‘Wherefore’, there is reasoning. In transcendental matters which are beyond the reach of reason, reason is of no use.

Intellect helps a lot in reflection and ratiocination. But people in whom reasoning has highly developed become skeptical. Their reason becomes perverted also. They lose faith in Vedas and in the teachings of Mahatmas.

Irregularity of Sadhana

Just as a man is regular in taking his food, so also he must be strictly regular in his Sadhana. One can get the meditative mood quite easily without effort if he does his Sadhana at fixed hours, both morning and night. In winter one can have four sittings. One should have the same pose, the same room, the same seat, the same Bhava or the same mental attitude, the same hours for meditation.

One should meditate regularly. He should do the spiritual Sadhana untiringly with indefatigable energy, asinine patience, adamantine will and iron determination. Then only sure success is possible. Meals should be taken at regular hours. One should go to sleep at fixed time. See how the sun is very regular in its rising and daily work!

Sometimes the mind gets disgusted with one particular kind of Sadhana. It wants some new kind of Sadhana. Just as mind wants some variety in food and other things, so also it wants variety in the mode of Sadhana also. It rebels against monotonous practice.

Do not expect anything. Be sincere and regular in your daily routine, Tapas and meditation. The Sadhana will take care of itself. You mind your own daily business. The fruit will come by itself. Let me repeat here the words of Lord Krishna: “Thy business is with the action (Tapas, Sadhana and meditation) only, never with its fruit; so let not the fruit of action be thy motive, nor be thou to inaction attached.” (Gita: ll-47.) Your efforts will be crowned with sanguine success by the Lord. It takes a long time for purification of the mind and getting a one-pointed mind. Be cool and patience. Continue your Sadhana regularly.

Fault-finding

This is a detestable old habit of man. If you spend even a fraction of the time that you waste in finding your own faults you would have become a great saint by this time. He who applies himself diligently to his spiritual practices cannot find even a single second to look into the affairs of others. Much time is wasted in back-biting, scandal-mongering etc. Time is most precious.

Fear

This is a very great obstacle in the path of God-realisation. A timid aspirant is absolutely unfit for the spiritual path. One must risk the life, if he wants to attain immortality. The spiritual wealth cannot be gained without self-sacrifice, self-denial or self-abnegation. A fearless dacoit who has no Deha-Adhyasa is fit for God-realisation. Only his current will have to be changed. Fear is not an imaginary non-entity. It assumes solid forms and troubles the aspirant in various ways. If one conquers fear, he is on the road to success. He has almost reached the goal. Tantrik Sadhana makes the student fearless.

Fear assumes various forms. Some are not afraid of tigers in the forests. They are not afraid of gun shots in the battlefield. But they are awfully afraid of public criticism. Fear of public criticism stands in the way of an aspirant in his spiritual progress. He should stick to his own principles, and own convictions, even though he is persecuted and even though he is at the point of being blown up at the mouth of a machine-gun. Then only he will grow and realise. Fear of all sorts should be totally eradicated by Atma-Chintana, Vichara, devotion and cultivation of the opposite quality, courage. Positive overcomes negative. Courage overpowers fear and timidity.

Force of Old Samskaras

When the aspirant does intense Sadhana to obliterate the old Samskaras, they try to rebound upon him with a vengeance and with redoubled force. They take forms and come before him as stumbling-blocks. The old Samskaras of hatred, enmity, jealousy, feeling of shame, respect, honour, fear etc., assume grave forms. Samskaras are not imaginary non-entities. They turn into actualities when opportunities crop up. The aspirant should not be discouraged. They will lose their force after some time and die by themselves. Just as the dying wick burns with intensity just before it gets extinguished, so also those old Samskaras show their teeth and force before they are eradicated. The aspirant should not get unnecessarily alarmed. He will have to increase the force or momentum of spiritual Samskaras by doing Japa, Dhyana, Svadhyaya, virtuous actions, Satsanga and cultivation of Sattvic virtues. These new spiritual Samskaras will neutralise the old vicious Samskaras. He should plunge himself into his spiritual practices. This is his Kartavya or duty.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

Obstacles in God-realization #3

Lack of Brahmacharya

Swami SivanandaNo spiritual progress is possible without the practice of celibacy. The semen is a dynamic force. It should be converted into Ojas or spiritual energy by pure thoughts, Japa and meditation. Those who are very eager to have God-realisation should observe unbroken celibacy strictly.

Women have got greater self-restraint than men, though Sastras say that they are eight times more passionate than men. They should sleep separately.

Wastage of semen brings nervous weakness, exhaustion and brings premature death.
Sexual act destroys vigor of mind, body and Indriyas and annihilates memory, understanding and intellect. This body is meant for God-realisation. It must be well utilised for higher, spiritual purpose. It is very difficult to get a human birth. Remember those Brahmachari-saints who had earned undying reputation and glory. You can also achieve greatness if you preserve this vital energy and utilise it for divine contemplation. You are not crawling now. You have learnt to stand up and walk. You are a man. Behave like a real man.

Ojas is spiritual energy that is stored up in the brain. By sublime thoughts, meditation, Japa, worship and Pranayama the sexual energy can be transmuted into Ojas-Sakti and be stored up in the brain. This Anger and muscular energy can also be transmuted into Ojas. A man who has great deal of Ojas in his brain can turn out immense mental work. He is very intelligent. He has a magnetic aura in his face and lustrous eyes. He can influence people by speaking a few words. A short speech can produce tremendous impression on the minds of hearers. His speech is thrilling. He has an awe-inspiring personality. A Yogi always directs his attention in the accumulation of this divine energy by unbroken chastity.

Name and Fame (Kirti and Pratishtha)

One can renounce even wife, son, property, but it is difficult to renounce name and fame. Pratishtha is established name and fame. This is a great obstacle in the path of God-realisation. This brings downfall in the end. This does not allow the aspirant to march forward in the spiritual path. He becomes a slave of respect and honor. 

Therefore an aspirant should hide himself always. Nobody should know what sort of Sadhana he is doing. He should never attempt to exhibit any Siddhi. He should be very humble. He should pass for quite an ordinary man. He should not accept any rich present from householders. He will be affected by the bad thoughts of those who offer presents. He should never think that he is superior to anybody. He should not treat others with contempt. He should always treat others with respect. Then only respect will come by itself. He should treat respect, honour, name and fame as dung or poison. He should wear disrespect and dishonour as a golden-necklace. Then only he will reach the goal safely.

Building of Ashrams and making of disciples bring about the downfall of the aspirant. They are also stumbling blocks in the path of God-realisation. The aspirant becomes another sort of householder. He develops institutional egoism. He gets attached to the Ashram and disciples.

It is very difficult to get good workers for the Ashram. Then why do you bother about building Ashrams when you have neither money, nor workers, nor dynamic, spiritual force? Keep quite. Do meditation. Evolve yourself. Mind your own business. Reform yourself first. How can you help others, when you yourself grope in darkness, when you are blind? How can a blind man lead another blind man? Both will fall in the deep abyss and break their legs.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

 

Science of Worship

Swami SivanandaThe individual soul desires to unite himself with his father, the Supreme Soul. This is done through worship. Love and devotion naturally rise in his heart when he hears the glory and greatness of the Lord. An object of worship is therefore necessary for man to pour forth his love and devotion. Worship helps spiritual evolution and eventually brings the devotee face to face with God. As the Absolute or Infinite cannot be comprehended by the limited and finite mind, the conception of the impersonal God in His lower, limited form came into existence. The Nirguna Brahman assumes forms for the pious worship of the devotees.

Worship is the expression of love and devotion by the devotee to the Lord, of extreme reverence towards Him, of keen longing to be in conscious communion with Him, of eager aspiration to be always at His feet, of intense craving to be united with Him. Worship may take the form of prayer, of praise, of meditation or of Kirtan.

Worship differs according to the growth and evolution of the individual. There is nature worship. Parsees worship the element fire. Hindus worship Ganga, cows, asvatta tree, etc. In the Vedas there are hymns to Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu. This is nature worship.

There is hero-worship. Great heroes like Sivaji, Napoleon are worshipped even now. In hero-worship the individual imbibes the virtues of the person whom he worships. Birthday celebrations of great persons, anniversaries celebrations are forms of worship.

Then there is relic worship. Hairs and bones of departed souls are also worshipped.

Then there is Pitru-worship, or worship of forefathers.

There is worship of Gurus or Rishis or Devatas. As man evolves, he passes from one stage of worship to another. The lower stages drop down by themselves. A man of higher stage should not condemn his brother who is in a lower stage.

The fundamental object in worship is union with the Lord, who pervades or permeates all these names and forms, by developing intense love. Isvara has different aspects or forms such as Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Rama, Krishna, Ganapathy, Karttikeya, Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Indra, Agni, but in whatever name and form, it is Isvara who is adored. The Lord in the form is worshipped. The devotion goes to the Lord.

All are worshipping the one basic Reality, Isvara. The differences are only differences in names and forms on account of differences in the worshipers.

The term “Sadhana” comes from the root “Sadh, which means “to exert”, “to endeavour to get a particular result or Siddhi.” He who does the attempt is called Sadhaka. If he achieves the desired result, Siddhi, he is called Siddha. A fully developed Siddha is one who has attained full knowledge of Brahman. Self-realisation or Darshan of God is not possible without Sadhana. Any spiritual practice is called Sadhana. Sadhana,  Abhyasa are synonymous terms. That which is obtained through Sadhana is Sadhya (God or Brahman).
Upasana means worship. It means to sit near God. One who does Upasana is an Upasaka. The object of worship is Upasya. Upasana is a broad term which includes many forms of worship. It includes meditation, Japa, daily Sandhya, prayer, Stotra etc.

Pooja comes from the Sanskrit root “Poof which  means to worship. Pooja is a simple form of worship’ A picture or image is used for worship. Mantras are recited. Water is poured over the image. Flowers are offered.
Sandal-paste is applied. Naivedya and Arghya are offered, camphor and incense are burnt. The devotee pours forth his love and devotion to the Isvara who is hidden in the picture or image. One important point is that he who does Pooja must abandon the idea of ownership of the articles of worship etc., and must think that all the articles and wealth belong to Isvara and he is only the caretaker. Then only his worship will bring the desired result. Prostrations, offering, etc., are outer worship. Meditation is inner worship.

The mind is purified by constant worship. It is filled with good and pure thoughts. Repetition of worship strengthens the good Samskaras. “As a man thinks, so he becomes.” When the mind thinks of the image of God during worship, the mental substance actually assumes the form of the image. The impression of the object is left in the mind. This is called a Samskara. When the act is repeated very often, the Samskara gains strength by repetition and a tendency or habit is formed in the mind. He who entertains thoughts of divinity becomes transformed actually into the divinity himself by constant thinking and meditation. His Bhava or disposition is purified and divinised. The meditator and the meditated, the worshipper and the worshipped, the thinker and the thought, become one and the same. This is Samadhi. This is the fruit of worship or Upasana.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

Finding the Eternal Now

Satguru Sivaya SubramuniyaswamiBefore beginning a new project, meditate. Thus arriving at the now, if only for an instant, begins the auspiciousness of the moment, after which the project should be begun. By thus meditating and through this practice, inner results infiltrate worldly undertakings, and the opposing forces succumb to the clarity of your perceptions derived through initially being aware in the now, if only for a few seconds.
When you are experiencing the totality of the moment, you are not aware of the past, nor are you aware of the future or anything within the externalities of the mind. You are aware of the âkâsa, the primal substance of the super-consciousness of the mind. You are able to have a continuity of intuitive findings within it and gain much knowledge from within yourself.
For the beginner on the path, the concept of the eternity of the moment is refreshing, and he does touch into it occasionally when he tries to meditate. This is encouraging to him, and he gains a new impetus to pursue his inner life more courageously than before. It is impossible to intellectually try to experience the here-and-now state of consciousness, as it is impossible to describe the feeling one would have standing on the top of a tall mountain. Only through experience can these transcendental states be known.
Now, you can think and you can feel, and feeling is more convincing. When your mind is disturbed, your feeling is personality-centered. When your mind is quiet, your subtle feeling is superconscious, spiritually aware. Your will is your soul in action.
Tell your subconscious mind twenty-four hours a day that this is true: that you are the master of body, mind, and emotions. Live completely, regardless of your circumstances, then the circumstances in which you divide yourself will adjust themselves to become as beautiful as the beauty of your soul.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Words of Indian Saints Part #8

paramahansa-yogananda“The devotee inclines to think his path to God is the only way,” he said. “Yoga, through which divinity is found within, is doubtless the highest road: so Lahiri Mahasaya has told us. But discovering the Lord within, we soon perceive Him without. Holy shrines at Tarakeswar and elsewhere are rightly venerated as nuclear centers of spiritual power.”

“Masters are under no cosmic compulsion to limit their residence.” My companion glanced at me quizzically. “The Himalayas in India and Tibet have no monopoly on saints. What one does not trouble to find within will not be discovered by transporting the body hither and yon. As soon as the devotee is willing to go even to the ends of the earth for spiritual enlightenment, his guru appears near-by.”

“Are you able to have a little room where you can close the door and be alone?”. “That is your cave.” The yogi bestowed on me a gaze of illumination which I have never forgotten. “That is your sacred mountain. That is where you will find the kingdom of God.”

“The muscles relax during sleep, but the heart, lungs, and circulatory system are constantly at work; they get no rest. In superconsciousness, the internal organs remain in a state of suspended animation, electrified by the cosmic energy. By such means I have found it unnecessary to sleep for years. The time will come when you too will dispense with sleep.”

“Well, don’t you see, my dear boy, that God is Eternity Itself? To assume that one can fully know Him by forty-five years of meditation is rather a preposterous expectation. Babaji assures us, however, that even a little meditation saves one from the dire fear of death and after-death states. Do not fix your spiritual ideal on a small mountain, but hitch it to the star of unqualified divine attainment. If you work hard, you will get there.”

“A man who bows down to nothing can never bear the burden of himself.”

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

Homage to Yogaswami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life as the Great Experience

Though they practice Yoga for eight thousand years,
still men do not see the Lord, sweet as ambrosia and
delightful to the eye. But if, illumined, you seek Him
within, He is there in you, as a reflection in a mirror.
Tirumantiram 603


Below are listed thirty six contemporary dharmic principles that stabilize external forces so that a contemplative life may be fully lived. When practiced unrelentingly, they bring the understanding of the external and deeper experiences of life.Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Simplify life and serve others.
Live in spiritual company.
Seek fresh air and sunshine.
Drink pure water.
Eat simple, real foods, not animal flesh.
Live in harmony with nature.
Consume what you genuinely need rather than desire.
Revere the many forms of life.
Exercise thirty minutes every day.
Make peace, not noise.
Make a temple of your home.
Develop an art form or craft.
Make your own clothing and furniture.
Express joy through song and dance.
Grow your own food organically.
Plant twelve trees a year.
Purify your environment.
Leave beauty where you pass.
Realize God in this life.
Be one with your guru.
Be nonviolent in thought and action.
Love your fellow man.
Rely on the independent energy in the spine.
Observe the mind thinking.
Cultivate a contemplative nature by seeking the light.
Draw the lesson from each experience of life.
Detach awareness from its objects.
Identify with infinite intelligence, not body,
mind or intellect.
Be aware in the eternal now, not in the past or the future.
Do not take advantage of trust or abuse credit.
Keep promises and confidences.
Restrain and direct desire.
Seek understanding through meditation.
Work with a spiritual discipline.
Think and speak only that which is true, kind,
helpful and necessary.
Create a temple for the next generation by tithing.

By Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

A song of life

swami sivanandaEat a little, drink a little,
Talk a little, sleep a little,
Mix a little, move a little,
Serve a little, rest a little
Work a little, relax a little,
Study a little, worship a little,
Do Asanas a little, Pranayamas a little,
Reflect a little, Meditate a little,
Do Japa a little, do Kirtan a little,
Write Mantra a little, have Satsanga a little.
Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.
Be Good, Do good; Be kind, Be compassionate.
Enquire ‘Who am I?’ Know the Self and be Free.

Sri Swami Sivananda