1. In all man’s struggles and attempts at achieving any desired end, there is in reality no necessity at all for him to go in quest of external forces to aid him. Man contains within himself vast resources, inherent power, lying untapped or else only partially made use of.
2. It is because he has allowed his faculties to get scattered on a hundred different things that he fails to achieve anything great despite his inherent potentialities. If he intelligently regulates and applies them, quick and concrete results will accrue.
3. To learn to rationally and effectively use the existing forces, man need not wait for any striking new methods, etc., to be invented, to guide him. Since the dawn of creation, nature herself abounds in instructive examples and lessons to aid man in every walk of his life. Observation will tell us that every force in nature, when allowed to flow loosely over a wide area, moves slowly and with comparatively less power than it would do if gathered together in one mass and directed through a single restricted outlet.
4. This gathering together of the scattered rays and bringing this force to bear upon a given point,-any object, idea or action – forms the process.
5. As examples of the power generated by a concentration of force are cited (1) the sluggish and leisurely flow of a river, damned and accumulated, rushes out with an amazing force through the sluice, (2) the phenomenon of ton-loads of cargo in heavy wagons being hauled or propelled by the power of steam concentrated in the boiler of the engine, (3) the most common domestic sight, the clattering and displacement of the covering lid of a cauldron when the latter commences to boil very much, (4) the normally warm sun-rays become suddenly so hot as to burn up objects when centralised and brought into focus through the lens. And the simple and commonest of action, where one unconsciously uses this principle, is noticed when a man wishing to hail another a good distance away, automatically cups his palms and shouts through them.
6. This law is equally applicable to man in all branches of his life’s activities. With the utmost concentrated and careful attention, the surgeon executes minute operations. The deepest absorption marks the state of the technician, the engineer, architect or the expert painter, engaged in drawing the minute details of a plan, chart or sketch, where accuracy is of paramount importance. A like concentration is displayed by the skilled Swiss workmen that fashion the delicate parts of watches and other scientific instruments.Thus in every art and science.
7. This is specially so in the spiritual line where the aspirant has to deal with forces internal. The powers of the mind are always scattered and resist attempts at concentration. This oscillatory tendency is an innate characteristic of the mind-stuff. Of the various methods employed to curtail and arrest this tossing of the mind, those using the medium of sound and sight, stand prominent, because these two have a peculiar knack of catching the attention of and stilling the mind. It is seen how a hypnotist gently subdues the mind of the ’subject’ by making the latter gaze steadily into his (the hypnotist’s) eyes and listen to the monotonous repetition of his steady, deliberate suggestions. We have still another clue to this when we note the mother gently croons the little child into slumber. Also the school masters sharp, ”Now then, boys look here,” whenever he desires them to pay special attention to what he is saying, is significant. He feels that by getting them to fix their gaze on him, he will draw the attention of their minds as well to his teaching.
Therefore in the course of spiritual discipline too, the methods of developing concentration take the form of gazing steadily at a dot, or at the symbol of the Pranava, or the Mantra or the figure of the favourite chosen deity. With some others it is done by the audible repetition of the Mantra or the Lord’s name, or OM, or some select Kirtan tunes with regular rhythm and intonation. By these means the mind gradually gets indrawn and focussed. As this state deepens, the person slowly loses awareness of his surroundings. The concentration, when continued, leads to the state of Dhyana or meditation, when the practitioner tends to forget even that physical frame. Meditation, when persisted in and perfected, brings about the experience of superconsciousness or Samadhi, the ultimate state of Self-awareness or Realisation.
Excerpts from “Concentration and Meditation” by Sri Swami Sivananda
Samadhi is superconscious state. It is Union with God or Supreme Being. There is no means or language to give expression to it.
In Samadhi the meditator loses his individuality and becomes identical with Supreme Self. Just as the camphor becomes identical with the fire, the meditator and meditated become one.
This blissful divine experience arises when the ego and the mind are dissolved.
This is a magnificent experience of unity and oneness. In the state of Samadhi the aspirant is not conscious of any extemal or internal objects. There is no thinking, hearing, smelling or seeing.
Samadhi is the property of every human being. It is your birthright.
Faith, power of concentration of mind, memory for contemplation, celibacy and discernment (Prajna) are the means for the attainment of the Samadhi.
God’s grace alone can take you to the realms of transcendental experience or Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
There are two kinds of Samadhi, viz., Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa. Savikalpa Samadhi is also known as Samprajnata and Sabeeja Samadhi.
In Savikalpa Samadhi there is the Triputi or the triad; the knower, knowledge and the knowable.
Samprajnata or Savikalpa Samadhi is possible when there is Ekagrata or one-pointedness of the mind. There is only a partial inhibition of the mind. The Samskaras or impressions are not burnt. Hence the name Sabeeja.
When the Yogi meditates on the Sattvic mind itself, devoid of Rajas and Tamas, he attains intense joy. So it is known as Saananda Samadhi or blissful Samadhi. The Yogi feels “Aham Asmi” or “I am.” So, it is called Asmita Samadhi.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is a condition of perfect awareness. The knowledge and the knowable become one. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi Yogi sees without eyes, tastes without tongue, hears without ears, smells without nose and touches without skin. This is described as follows: The blind man pierced the pearl; the fingerless put a thread into it; the neckless wore it; and the tongueless praised it.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is also known as Asamprajnata and Nirbeeja Samadhi.
There is complete inhibition of all mental functions. Hence it is called Asamprajnata Samadhi.
It can be attained only when there is perfect Nirodha or control of mind. Here Samskaras are burnt in toto. Hence the name Nirbija. You will have to be perfectly established in
Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Then only will the seed of rebirth be burnt in toto.
The only Sadhana for attaining Nirvikalpa Samadhi is Para Vairagya or supreme dispassion. Here the Yogi completely disconnects himself from the Prakriti and its effects. The mind, intellect and the senses entirely cease to function. There is neither sound nor touch nor form here.
The Gunas, having fulfilled their objects of enjoyment, entirely cease to act now. The Yogi has attained Kaivalya, or Supreme independence or freedom. He has simultaneous knowledge or omniscience now. The past and the future are blended into the present. Everything is ‘now’. Everything is ‘here’. The past and the future are blended into the present. Everything is ‘now’. Everything is ‘here’. The Yogi has transcended time and space. All sorrows have ceased; all miseries have disappeared; the seeds of action are burnt; all doubts are dispelled. There is eternal freedom. It is a state like the ocean without waves.
OBSTACLES TO SAMADHI
Tossing of mind, sleep, cravings, carelessness, indecision, subtle Vasanas, disease, the happiness of Savikalpa Samadhi, doubt, spiritual pride, etc., are all obstacles to the attainment of Samadhi.
Do not mistake sleep for Samadhi. When a man returns from Samadhi, he has transcendental wisdom.
The Samadhi of the Hatha Yogi who buries himself is Jada Samadhi. It is like deep sleep. There is no transcendental, divine wisdom for him. The Samaskaras are not burnt. He cannot have Moksha or final liberation.
In Chaitanya Samadhi there is perfect awareness. There is no rebirth. The Yogi attains liberation and divine wisdom.
Excerpts from “FOURTEEN LESSONS ON RAJA YOGA” by Sri Swami Sivananda
An ethical man is more powerful than an intellectual man. Morality goes hand in hand with spirituality. Ethical culture prepares you for Vedantic realisation of ‘Saruam Khalvidam Brahma’-all indeed is Brahman. There is no such thing as diversity.
All aspirants commit the mistakes in jumping to Samadhi and meditation all at once as soon as they leave their houses without caring a bit for ethical purification.
A man of right conduct has ideal principles and mottoes. He strictly follows them, removes his weaknesses and defects, develops good conduct and becomes a Sattvic man. Sound character is the only diamond you must crave to wear. Virtues are conducive to Self-knowledge.
Humility is the highest of all virtues. God helps you only when you feel utterly humble.
The law of non-injury is as much exact and precise as the law of gravitation. lf you can be fully established in the practice of non-violence in thought, word and deed, you are God.
A man who keeps up his promise creates a very good impression on the minds of others and merges in Divinity.
Moral strength is the backbone of spiritual progress. Ethical culture is part and parcel of spiritual Sadhana.
Morality is the doctrine of the right and wrong in human conduct. lt is virtuous life.
The Basis of Morality
Morality is religion in practice; religion is morality in principle. You must do what is right at whatever cost of pain and loss. There can be no divorce of religion from morality. Morality is the basis of religion. Morality and religion are inseparable like heat and fire, coolness and ice, fragrance and flower.
Discourses on morality are the best means to improve the character of man and recover him out of his vices and ignorance.
Morality must not be without religion. lf so, it may change as you see inconveniences. Religion must govern it.
The morality of an action depends upon the motive from which you act. First have righteous principles and then you will not fail to do virtuous actions.
Without religion, morality will die. Religion is the very root of morality. Morality without God is bottomless impiety.
Morality & Ethics
The moral principles are not absolute in the sense that there is a state which transcends moral restrictions. But it does not mean that the moral laws can be neglected.
Morality is the adherence to the inherent sense of the right which is voiced by the conscience that is not bound by selfishness and its several expressions or effects. Morality is the soul-sense, the truth-sense, which refuses to be restricted by the autocracy of the passions that disregard the universality of what is good, and which is free from the agony of imperfection.
The purpose of the moral sense is to point out the way to perfection, and morality, therefore, can be judged from how far it directs the consciousness to unrestricted happiness which is not confined to one or some individuals or even to a part of the universe or merely to an aspect of existence. The wider the scope of the selfless consciousness and the joy consequent upon it, the more moral is the method with which such selflessness is practiced or the act by which such selflessness is expressed.
Morality is “a great vow which is universal, not restricted either by conditions, states, places, times or circumstances.” (Yoga-Sutras)
Excerpts from “HOW TO CULTIVATE VIRTUES AND ERADICATE VICES” by Sri Swami Sivananda
Death—what is it? The dropping off of the physical body is the time when all of the karma-making actions go back to seed in the mûlâdhâra chakra, into the memory patterns. All of our actions, reactions and the things we have set in motion in the prânic patterns in this life form the tendencies of our nature in our next incarnation. The tendencies of our nature in the present incarnation are the ways in which awareness flows through the i∂â, pingalâ and sushumnâ currents.
These tendencies of man’s nature also are recorded in the astrological signs under which he is born. Man comes through an astrological conglomeration of signs, or an astrological chart, according to his actions and reactions and what he set in motion in the seed-karma patterns of his past life. So, we are always the sum total, a collection, of all the karmic experiences, a totality of all the seed patterns, that have happened to us, or that we have caused to happen, through the many, many lives.
One great peculiarity about man is that he individually feels that he is never going to die and goes on through life planning and building as though he were going to live forever and ever. The fear of death is a natural instinctive reflex. The fear of change or fear of the unknown is an ominous element in the destiny of a human being. The study and comprehension of the laws of reincarnation can alleviate this fear and bring an enlightened vision of the cosmic rhythms of life and death. It is a simple process, no more fantastic, shall we say, than other growth problems we experience daily. A flower grows, blossoms and withers. The seed falls to the ground, is buried in the earth, sprouts and grows into a plant and a flower.
Death, like birth, has been repeated so many times that it is no mystery to the soul. From the Hindu point of view, the knowledge of one’s imminent departure begins the sannyâsa âsrama for the individual. In this âsrama, the devotee traditionally divests himself of all material belongings, effecting a conscious death before the actual death. He is the executor of his own will, taking care of everybody and not leaving these things to others to deal with after his passing.
After everything is settled, all personal possessions disposed of, then he begins meditation and awaits the fruitful hour, trying to exit through the highest chakra of the attainment of this life. Each chakra is a door through which we can depart. The dying should always remember that the place where one will reincarnate is the place that he is thinking about prior to death. So, choose your desires wisely. The last thoughts just before death are the most powerful thoughts in creating the next life. This is why a sudden death—with its intense emotion, the intellect not having been prepared for it—would produce difficulties in getting born and in the first few years of getting raised, leading to miscarriage and abortion and later child abuse. All these experiences are a continuation of the emotional upheaval that happened at the sudden departure. The emotional upheaval of the person is compounded by the emotional upheaval of the friends, family and business associates when they finally hear of the sudden departure.
However, if the person was prepared for death, no matter when it might arrive, sudden or otherwise, his mental and emotional astral body would have already been well schooled in readiness. Sudden death to such a soul is a boon and a blessing. The next birth would be welcoming and easy, one wherein he would be well cared for and educated by loving parents.
Nevertheless, the thought force of the departing person is very strong, as his energy transmutes into the mental body. That’s why nobody wants the departing person to hate them or curse them.
People wonder whether death is a painful process, such as in the case of cancer victims. Cancer, which produces a lot of pain, is a process of life which results in death, but death itself is not painful. Death itself is blissful. You don’t need any counseling. You intuitively know what’s going to happen. Death is like a meditation, a samâdhi. That’s why it’s called mahâ (great) samâdhi. A Hindu is prepared from childhood for that mahâsamâdhi. Remember, pain is not part of the process of death. That is the process of life, which results in death.When somebody is about to have a tremendous accident and, for example, sees his car is going to run into a truck or his plane is going to crash, he experiences no pain whatsoever, as he dies before he dies.
The problem comes when doctors bring the dying back. Then a lot of pain is experienced. The doctors should let them die. Prolonging the life of the individual body must be done by the individual himself. He needs no helping hands. But to prolong life in the debilitated physical body past the point that the natural will of the person has sustained is to incarcerate, to jail, to place that person in prison.
Åyurvedic medicine seeks to keep a person healthy and strong, but not to interfere with the process of death. The experience of dying and death is as natural as birth and life.
To perpetuate life, you perpetuate will, desire and the fruition of desire. The constant performing of this function brings the actinic energies of the soul body into physical bodies. To give up one’s own personal desires is the first desire to perpetuate. Then to help others to fulfill their highest aspirations is the next challenge. Then to seek for ultimate attainment and fulfill that lingering desire takes a tremendous will. Then to lay a foundation for the betterment of peoples everywhere is the ultimate challenge. This perpetuates life within the physical body, which of itself renews itself every seven years.
At death, you leave through a nerve ganglia of consciousness, a chakra.The thoughts at death are the next saμskâras of the astral body. At death, you leave through a nerve ganglia of consciousness, a chakra. Most people live in about three chakras, and they see-saw back and forth among those states of mind. Each one is a window, and at death it becomes a portal, a doorway. So, it is the state of mind at death that gets you into one loka or another. The ideal is to leave through the top of the head, through the door of Brahman, to get into the Brahmaloka and not have to come back.
The cha kras are in the astral body. The astral body lives in the physical body, and when death comes, it is going to live without the physical body. The same chakras are within it. At the moment of death, you have the opportunity to stabilize yourself in the highest chakra you have experienced in this life.
The tunnel of light that is experienced by so many people at the point of death is the portal they are going through, the window, the chakra. Passing through the tunnel is leaving this world and going into another. You do that in meditation, too. You leave the light of the physical plane and go into the light in the inner world. But dying is not such a dramatic experience really. Every night you “die” and leave your physical body. It is very similar. Every night mystics leave their physical body, go and meet and converse with other mystics on the inner planes. That’s why they know each other when they meet on the physical plane. Samâdhi, the exalted meditative state, which literally means “holding together completely,” is also a word used to describe dying. Why is that? Because deep contemplation is similar to a death experience; only the silver cord is not separated. This cord is an astral-prânic thread that connects the astral body through the navel to the physical body. It is a little like an umbilical cord. The only full separation comes when the cord is cut at mahâsamâdhi, the true death of the physical body. People die all the time, but if the cord is not broken, they come back. You die all the time. The cord being broken makes for a twenty four-hour consciousness in the inner world, as compared to a sixteen hour consciousness in the physical world.
If a person knows he is terminally ill, that knowledge is a blessing, for he can prepare. He should not hesitate to tell his relatives he is going to die, and that is a wonderful blessing for them, as they can prepare for his great departure. Now all know he has finally arrived at the end of his prârabdha karmas and is going to fly. In turn, family and friends should release him, be happy—he is going to be happy with no physical body—for they know they will be as close to him in his astral and soul body as they were in his physical body.
For Hindus, death is a most exalted state, an incredible moment that you spend your whole life preparing for. Birth is the unhappy occasion. Death should be a big party. He has just gone through his day of Brahma. The sadness at death comes from Western attitudes. When someone dies, that means that section of the jyotisha is finished and he can go and have a great rest and be with intelligent people. It is great inside there and difficult out here.
Everyone dies, but it is a blessing to know when you are going to die, because then you can prepare for it, make a decision whether you are going to be reborn, do intense sâdhanas, make preparations. Heed the wisdom of the Vedas, “When a person comes to weakness, be it through old age or disease, he frees himself from these limbs just as a mango, a fig or a berry releases itself from its stalk.”
Hindus go to special sacred places to die, because that’s where holy people live, in that part of the astral plane. All of the temples in the West are connected to other temples in Sri Lanka and India.
Lord Yama is Lord Restraint, restraining life and getting it started again on the other side. In preparing the body for cremation, embalming should not be done. It is painful to the astral body to have the physical body cut or disturbed seriously within seventy-two hours after death. The soul can see and feel this, and it detains him from going on. As soon as you tamper with his physical body, he gets attached, becomes aware that he has two bodies, and this becomes a problem. Ideally, when you die, your physical body goes up in flames, and immediately you know it’s gone. You now know that the astral body is your body, and you can effortlessly release the physical body. But if you keep the old body around, then you keep the person around, and he is aware that he has two bodies. He becomes earthbound, tied into the Pretaloka, and confused.
For a jîvanmukta, he might want to leave, but some people might want to keep him around for a while for their own benefit. The best way for him is to go off into the hills, to die in the forests where no one knows and none of these questions arise. More than many great sâdhus have done this and do this to this day.
The ideal is to live out one’s Earthly life to its full extent, not to shorten it in any way, for during the elderly years, after ninety and the twenty or thirty years thereafter, the sañchita karmas in the great vault which are waiting to come up in another life begin to unfold to be lived through and resolved in this one. By no means should suicide ever be considered, for it cuts short all karmic developments of the current life and may require additional births to work through the lowest possible experiences still held in the great sañchita vault. Many incarnations may elapse after an untimely self-inflicted death before the soul returns back to the same evolutionary point at which the suicide was committed. Suicide is no escape. It only prolongs the journey.
The goal is realization of Parasiva as the ultimate personal attainment. This is nirvikalpa samâdhi. Savikalpa is the by-product of this. Even having had this experience, if the sâdhana and tapas and discipline are not maintained, mukti, liberation, will not be the product of effort. The knowledge of Parasiva, in its total impact, must impact every area of mind, every nook and cranny of the mind. Therefore, the goal is realization; and liberation from rebirth is the by-product of that essential goal. If a soul becomes realized but still has the desire to come back to finish something, he will come back partially enlightened. Hinduism will be an open book to him, and he will understand all of the basic truths and be able to explain it all naturally. He will find his enlightenment later in life and go on, having experienced what he had to.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
The mere fact he has broken through to samâdhi means that he was able to justify experience enough in his subconscious mind so that his subconscious mind could fall into line, into the habit pattern of pure concentration. When the conscious mind is in concentration upon one single thing, the subconscious mind is in concentration also, following the pattern of the conscious mind, on one particular thing. Then that expands consciousness automatically into the superconscious state of mind.
Each soul comes into Self Realization differently, because each has a different mind, a different subconscious mind and a different conscious mind.
The teachings of yoga are so basically simple and so basically concrete. And the most beautiful thing in the world, on contemplation, is the simplest thing in the world. The most beautiful design is the simplest design. So, simply since one has realized the Self and gone into nirvikalpa samâdhi once, then obviously the simplest thing to do is to do it again. This is the practice of samâdhi. He will become consciously more superconscious for longer periods of time each time he experiences nirvikalpa samâdhi.
If he goes into nirvikalpa samâdhi and becomes ramified in the psychic powers that come after samâdhi, after his first samâdhi, his second samâdhi, his third samâdhi, he will become more intense and will realize new possibilities within himself. If he remains on those planes of the phenomena of the occultism of the mind, then he gains new and fascinating powers of the mechanism of the mind, but he loses the power to bring others along the path into samâdhi.
His first step in practicing samâdhi would be to concentrate upon one physical object, that is if he cannot see his inner light. Only after he has gone into samâdhi many, many, many times, where his whole body becomes filled with light, will he then see his inner light all the time, twenty-four hours a day. The light, really, is the friction of the super conscious mind against the conscious and subconscious mind. In my way of looking at it, it is an electrical friction. The odic forces and the actinic forces merging causes light and sound. So, when he sees this brilliant light right in his head—more brilliant than he has ever seen, intensified brilliance—he tries to find the center of it. When he finds the center of it, again trying to open up that light like a camera lens, he will then come into a state of consciousness called Sat chid ânanda, a state of pure consciousness, a state of pure bliss, savikalpa samâdhi.
Dharma after Self Realization
What is life like after realization? One difference is the relationship to possessions. Everything is yours, even if you don’t own it. This is because you are secure in the Self as the only reality, the only permanence, and the security that depends on having possessions is gone. After Self Realization, we no longer have to go into ourself. Rather, we go out of ourself to see the world. We are always coming out rather than trying to go in. There is always a center, and we are the center, no matter where we are. No matter where we are, no matter how crude or rotten, the vibrations around us will not affect us. Curiosity is the final thing to leave the mind, which it does after Self Realization. The curiosity of things goes away—of siddhis, for example. We no longer want power, because we are power, nonpower, unusable. And Satchidânanda is now to us similar to what the intellect used to be. Samyama, contemplation, is effortless to you now, like the intellect used to be; whereas before, samyama was a very big job which took a lot of energy and concentration.
For ultimate freedom, everything has to go away, all human things, possessions, love, hate, family, friends, the desire for attention and community acceptance. The sannyâsin renounces the world, and then, if his giving up is uncompromisingly complete, the world renounces the sannyâsin. This means the world itself won’t accept him as it once did as a participant in its mundane transactions of a job, social life, home and family.
The renunciate’s path is to seek enlightenment through sâdhana, discipline, deep meditation and yogic practices. That is the goal, but only the first goal for the sannyâsin. To stay enlightened is even a greater challenge for him.
The advice is, having once attained a breakthrough of light within the head, wisdom tells us, remain wise and do not allow these experiences to strengthen the external ego. Become more humble. Become more self-effacing. Become more loving and understanding. Don’t play the fool by giving yourself reprieve from prânayâma, padmâsana, deep meditation, self-inquiry and exquisite personal behavior.
The wise know full well that the higher chakras, once stimulated, stimulate their lower counterparts as well, unless the sealing of the passage just below the mûlâdhâra has been accomplished. Diligence is needed, lest higher consciousness fall unknowingly on the slippery slide of ignorance into the realms of lower consciousness, of fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, loneliness, malice and distrust.
Traditionally, the character has to be built within the devotee as a first and foremost platform before even the hint of an initiation into inner teaching is given. This purifying preparation involves repentance, confession and reconcilation through traditional prâyaschitta, penance, to mitigate kukarmas. This crucial work often takes years to accomplish.
We are still living in a physical body. Therefore, one foot must always be kept firmly on the head of the snake of the instinctive-intellectual nature. The higher we go, the lower we can fall if precaution is not taken. Therefore, we must prepare devotees for a sudden or slow fall as well. They should land on the soft pillows of consistent daily sâdhana, worship of God, Gods and guru, and the basic religious practices of karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Without these as a platform, they may slide down in consciousness, below the mûlâdhâra, into the chakras of fear, anger, doubt and depression. Therefore, we reaffirm, having attained a small degree of enlightenment, or a fuller enlightenment, stay enlightened, because mukti, the transference from the physical body through the top of the head at the point of death, has not yet occurred. And only after that happens are we enlightened forever. This is the beginning of the ultimate merging with Siva in a physical body! Thereafter follows visvagrâsa, the final, final, final merger whence there is no return, where jîva has in reality become Siva, as a bowl of water poured into the ocean becomes the ocean. There is no difference and no return.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
We know Siva in His three perfections, two of form and one formless. First, we worship His manifest form as Pure Love and Consciousness, called Sat chid ânanda in Sanskrit. Second, we worship Him as our Personal Lord, Mahesvara, the Primal Soul who tenderly loves and cares for His devotees—a Being whose resplendent body may be seen in mystic vision. In our daily lives we love, honor, worship and serve God in these manifest perfections. Ultimately, in perfectly simple, yet awesomely austere nirvikalpa samâdhi, we realize Him as the formless Parasiva, sought for and known only by yogîs and jñânîs. We cannot speak of His Absolute Reality which is beyond qualities and description, yet knowable to the fully matured soul who seeks God within through yoga under the guidance of a satguru.
For the sake of understanding the mysteries of the soul, we distinguish between the soul body and its essence. As a soul body, we are individual and unique, different from all others. Our soul is a self-effulgent body of light which evolves and matures through an evolutionary process. This soul body is of the nature of God Siva, but is different from Him in that it is less resplendent than the Primal Soul and still evolving, while He is unevolutionary Perfection. We may liken the soul body to an acorn, which contains the mighty oak but is a small seed yet to develop. Even when God Realization is attained, the soul body continues to evolve in this and other worlds until it merges with the Primal Soul, as a drop of water merges with its source, the ocean. This is the destiny of all souls without exception.
At the core of the subtle soul body is Sat chid ânanda, or immanent Love, and at the core of that is Parasiva, or transcendent Reality. At this depth of our being there exists no separate identity or difference—all are one. Thus, deep within our soul we are identical with God this very moment, for within us are the unmanifest Parasiva and the manifest Satchidananda. These are not aspects of the evolving soul, but the nucleus of the soul, which does not change or evolve. They are eternally perfect and one with God Siva. From an absolute perspective, our soul is already in nondual union with God in His two perfections of Sat chid ânanda and Parasiva, but to be realized to be known. Sat chid ânanda is the superconscious mind of the soul—the mind of God Siva. Parasiva is the inmost core of the soul.
We are That. We do not become That. There exists no relation between Satchid
ânanda, which is pure form and consciousness, and Parasiva, which is without form. Paramaguru Siva Yoga swami taught us, “You are Siva. I am Siva. All are Siva. Even as Siva is immortal, so too are we.”
If sâdhana is pursued, will finally grow and stabilize, opening the mind to the constant state of Sat chid ânanda, where the holy inner mind of God Siva and our soul are one. Sat chidânanda is pure form, pure consciousness, pure blessedness or bliss, our soul’s perfection in form. Parasiva is formless, timeless, causeless, spaceless, as the perfection of our soul beyond form. Though it is supreme consciousness, Sat chid ânanda is not the ultimate realization, which lies beyond consciousness or mind.
Thus, we understand Parasiva as the perfection known in nirvikalpa samâdhi, and Sat chid ânanda as the perfection experienced in savikalpa samâdhi.
Being and Becoming
Out of the microcosm ever comes the macrocosm. Out of Parasiva—which is timeless, causeless and formless—ever comes all form. This is the great mystery without a reason why. Out of pure consciousness ever comes the light which binds all form together.
The man is both being and becoming. He is already perfect, for the essence of his soul, Parasiva and Sat chid ânanda, exists eternally within him as him, having never been created. Yet, man is evolving, becoming, for his individual soul body, created by God Siva, is not yet perfect, is still evolving through time, eventually to mature into the image and likeness of the Primal Soul and Creator, Mahesvara.
Creation is merely recognizing what is already there—that there is nothing new; everything is within you and it is portrayed on the outside as you become aware that it is already created, finished, within you.
As you become aware of one thing at a time, you are really creating it into the lower realms of your mind. You are translating it into the lower realms of your mind. Your recognition of what is is the way you create it to yourself. This is deep. This is in the realm of contemplation. And only in the realm of contemplation will you begin to conceive of it.
Contemplation is man’s power over his mind as he begins to go within himself. Concentration is man’s power over his mind as he goes through life working out life’s problems. And meditation is man’s wisdom.
“Know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Freedom does not come through what you have remembered, how well you can rationalize, how well you can talk yourself into and out of situations, how well you can excuse negative happenings. The knowing state of
consciousness in which you can know the truth only comes when you can control the lower state of mind and live a godlike life each day, and then your consciousness does expand automatically. Your daily life becomes a life of inspiration, and in your expanded consciousness you begin to know the truth, and that knowing of the truth sets you free from the lower state of mind which you then realize is the lie, the eternal lie. The point of conception is the apex of creation.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
The 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
The metaphysical method of physical transfer of disease is known to highly advanced yogis. A strong man can assist a weaker one by helping to carry his heavy load; a spiritual superman is able to minimize his disciples’ physical or mental burdens by sharing the karma of their past actions. Just as a rich man loses some money when he pays off a large debt for his prodigal son, who is thus saved from dire consequences of his own folly, so a master willingly sacrifices a portion of his bodily wealth to lighten the misery of disciples.
By a secret method, the yogi unites his mind and astral vehicle with those of a suffering individual; the disease is conveyed, wholly or in part, to the saint’s body. Having harvested God on the physical field, a master no longer cares what happens to that material form. Though he may allow it to register a certain disease in order to relieve others, his mind is never affected; he considers himself fortunate in being able to render such aid.
The devotee who has achieved final salvation in the Lord finds that his body has completely fulfilled its purpose; he can then use it in any way he deems fit. His work in the world is to alleviate the sorrows of mankind, whether through spiritual means or by intellectual counsel or through will power or by the physical transfer of disease.
Escaping to the superconsciousness whenever he so desires, a master can remain oblivious of physical suffering; sometimes he chooses to bear bodily pain stoically, as an example to disciples. By putting on the ailments of others, a yogi can satisfy, for them, the karmic law of cause and effect. This law is mechanically or mathematically operative; its workings can be scientifically manipulated by men of divine wisdom.
The spiritual law does not require a master to become ill whenever he heals another person. Healings ordinarily take place through the saint’s knowledge of various methods of instantaneous cure in which no hurt to the spiritual healer is involved. On rare occasions, however, a master who wishes to greatly quicken his disciples’ evolution may then voluntarily work out on his own body a large measure of their undesirable karma.
Jesus signified himself as a ransom for the sins of many. With his divine powers, his body could never have been subjected to death by crucifixion if he had not willingly cooperated with the subtle cosmic law of cause and effect. He thus took on himself the consequences of others’ karma, especially that of his disciples. In this manner they were highly purified and made fit to receive the omnipresent consciousness which later descended on them.
Only a self-realized master can transfer his life force, or convey into his own body the diseases of others. An ordinary man cannot employ this yogic method of cure, nor is it desirable that he should do so; for an unsound physical instrument is a hindrance to God- meditation. The Hindu scriptures teach that the first duty of man is to keep his body in good condition; otherwise his mind is unable to remain fixed in devotional concentration.
A very strong mind, however, can transcend all physical difficulties and attain to God-realization. Many saints have ignored illness and succeeded in their divine quest. St. Francis of Assisi, severely afflicted with ailments, healed others and even raised the dead.
Many people imagine that every spiritual master has, or should have, the health and strength of a Sandow. The assumption is unfounded. A sickly body does not indicate that a guru is not in touch with divine powers, any more than lifelong health necessarily indicates an inner illumination. The condition of the physical body, in other words, cannot rightfully be made a test of a master. His distinguishing qualifications must be sought in his own domain, the spiritual.
Numerous bewildered seekers in the West erroneously think that an eloquent speaker or writer on metaphysics must be a master. The rishis, however, have pointed out that the acid test of a master is a man’s ability to enter at will the breathless state, and to maintain the unbroken samadhi of nirvikalpa . Only by these achievements can a human being prove that he has “mastered” maya or the dualistic Cosmic Delusion. He alone can say from the depths of realization: “Ekam sat ,” – “Only One exists.”
“The Vedas declare that the ignorant man who rests content with making the slightest distinction between the individual soul and the Supreme Self is exposed to danger,” Shankara the great monist has written. “Where there is duality by virtue of ignorance, one sees all things as distinct from the Self. When everything is seen as the Self, then there is not even an atom other than the Self. . . .
Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”
There are five steps that awareness has to flow through, gaining strength each time, on the path to enlightenment. When we first start, awareness is flowing through many areas of the mind. Then finally it will have enough experiences flowing through the mind to turn in on itself. When this happens, certain faculties come into being. One of them is willpower. And we learn to hold attention. We learn to hold awareness at attention. Awareness: attention!
1st: What is attention? Attention is the first of the five steps on the path, that is, holding awareness steady, centralized in only one area of the mind, and the area that we choose it to be in, not the area that someone else has chosen it to be in.
When other people move awareness through one area or another, we call that distraction, or worldly distractions. The mission is to move awareness yourself. How do you learn to do that? By holding it at attention. How does attention work? Attention is awareness poised like a hummingbird over a flower. flower. It doesn’t move. The flower doesn’t move, and awareness becomes aware of the flower—poised. The entire nerve system of the physical body and the functions of breath have to be at a certain rhythm in order for awareness to remain poised like a hummingbird over a flower.
Give up the idea that thoughts come in and out of your mind like visitors come in and
out of your house. Hold to the idea that it is awareness that moves, rather than the thoughts that move. Awareness held at attention can then come into the next vibratory rate and concentrate.
2nd: Take a flower and place it in front of you. Breathe deeply as you sit before it. Simply look at it. Don’t stare at it and strain your eyes. But simply become aware of it. Each time awareness moves to some other area of the mind, with your willpower move awareness back and become aware of the flower again. Keep doing this until you are simply aware of the flower and not aware of your body or your breath. Then begin to concentrate on the flower. That is the second step.
This is what concentration is—remaining in the thought area of the particular item that you are aware of and flowing through the different color and sound vibrations of the thoughts. How does it work? The powers of concentration—it is only a name. Actually, what is happening is you are flowing awareness through the area of the mind which contains the elements which actually made that particular flower, and you are perceiving how all those elements came together.
3rd: After we are able to hold awareness hovering over that which we are concentrating upon, we come into great powers of observation. We are able to look into and almost through that which we are concentrating upon and observe its various parts and particles, its action and its reaction, because we are not distracted. Even observation in daily life, as a result of regular participation in the practice of concentration, comes naturally. We are able to see more, hear more, feel more. Our senses are more keen and alive. Observation is so necessary to cultivate, to bring awareness fully into the fullness of meditation. This leads us then into our very next step, meditation. Meditation and concentration are practically the same thing, though meditation is simply a more intense state of concentration.
You are scrutinizing the inner layers of the mind, of how a flower grows, how the seed is formed. You are observing it so keenly that you have forgotten that you are a physical body, that you are an emotional unit, that you are breathing. You are in the area of mind where that flower exists.
4th: We go deeper, deeper, deeper within, into the energy and the life within the cells of the flower, and we find that the energy and the life within the cells of the flower is the same as the energy within us, and we are in contemplation upon energy itself. We see the energy as light. In a state of contemplation, we might not even be conscious of light itself, for you are only conscious of light if you have a slight consciousness of darkness. Otherwise, it is just your natural state, and you are in a deep reverie. When you are in the mind of energy, in that rarefied consciousness, you are not conscious of the Earth or any planets. You are just conscious of the stratum of energy that runs through Earth, space and planets. It’s not even really energy.
5th: This, then, leads to samâdhi, the very deepest samâdhi, where we almost, in a sense, go within one atom of that energy and move into the primal source of all. There’s really nothing that you can say about it, because you cannot cast that concept of the Self, or that depth of samâdhi, you cannot cast it out in words. You cannot throw it out in a concept, because there are no areas of the mind in which the Self exists. You have to realize It to know It.
You have to be so simple to realize the Self, not simple-minded, but so unattached. Before you went in, you knew all sorts of things about it. You could quote a thousand different things about the Self; you knew so much. And when you come out, you don’t know anything about it at all. And everything is different. You look at the world from the inside out. You look at people from the inside out. You look at a person, and immediately you see how he came along through life. You see the whole sequence, all now. Then you really know, after that deep samâdhi, that the mind, in all phases of manifestation, was all finished long ago. It’s already complete. Before that, you try to believe in that concept. And it’s a vast concept to believe in, because at certain times, when awareness is flowing in the external areas of the mind, it certainly doesn’t look that way at all. Our perspective is limited.
After the deep samâdhi of Self Realization, our perspective couldn’t really be called vast; we simply see things the way they are. But for Self Realization, you have to really want it more than your life; for that deep samâdhi, that’s what it is: more than your life.
By Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in “Merging with Siva”