The mind can never get rid of its wavering state owing to its nature of habitual fickleness, resembling the restlessness of the sea. The mind with its natural fickleness and restless thoughts finds no repose at any place, like a lion in his cage.
It is more difficult to subdue the mind than to drink the ocean or upset Sumeru Mountain. It is harder than the hardest thing. The mind is the cause of all exertions, and the source of all that senses the three worlds — the physical world of desire (kama loka), the mental world of form (rupa loka), and the spiritual world without form (arupa loka). Alternatively, bhutakasha, element-space; chittakasha, mind-space; and chidakasha, consciousness-space.
Our pains and pleasures arise by the hundreds from the mind, like woods growing in groups upon a hill, but no sooner is the scythe of reason applied to them, than they fall off one by one. I am ready to subdue my mind, my greatest enemy in this world, for the purpose of mastering all the virtues, which the learned say depend upon it. My lack of desires has made me adverse to wealth and the gross pleasures it yields, which are like the tints of clouds tainting the moon.
My mind is like a vast and lonesome wilderness, covered under the mist of errors, and infested by the terrible fiend of desire that is continually floundering about it.
Greed like a dark night terrifies even the wise, blindfolds the keen-sighted, and depresses the spirit of the happiest of men.
Our fleeting thoughts are as fickle as peacocks soaring over inaccessible heights under the clouds (of ignorance), but ceasing to fly in the daylight (of reason). Greed is like a river during the rains, rising for a time with its rolling waves, and afterwards lying low in its empty bed.
Our desires like great waves toss us about in the ocean of our earthly cares. They bind us fast to delusion like chains bind an elephant.
All our bodily troubles are avoided by abstaining from greed, just as we are freed from fear of night demons at the dispersion of darkness.
Greed is like the flame of a lamp which is bright but blackening and acutely burning at its end. Fed by the oily wicks, it is vivid but never handled by anybody.
Penury has the power of demeaning, in a moment, the best of men to the baseness of straw in spite of their wisdom, heroism and gravity in other respects. One single greed has everything in the world for its object, and though seated in the breast, it is imperceptible to all. It is like the undulating Milky Ocean in this fluctuating world, sweeping all things yet regaling mankind with its odorous waves.
Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra
The system of Varnashrama is a systematic procedure to adjust ourselves and adapt ourselves to the circumstances of life, horizontally in society, and vertically in our own personality. The horizontal adjustment is the Varna and the vertical adjustment is the Ashrama. We have to be complete in society, in our relationships with people, and we have to be complete in our own selves by a suitable harmonious alignment of the various layers of our personality. Such an adjustment is very effectively brought about by following the great canons of the Varna and the Ashrama.
People generally think that Varna means caste, but it is not that. It means a class. The principle of the classification of society is called the Varna-Dharma. It is a classification, not a ‘castification’. No man is complete in himself, and therefore, no man can be satisfied merely in his own self without the cooperation of other persons. Man is, among other things, intellect, will, emotion and energy. Everyone is not possessed of these characteristics in the same measure. Inasmuch as everyone’s intention is the welfare of all human beings, the solidarity of mankind in general, it is necessary that we share among ourselves the commodities that we have. The commodities are not necessarily physical ones; they can be psychological ones also. If one has great intellectual capacity and spiritual acumen, which are necessary for the welfare of society, but not other facilities, he will share the knowledge and wisdom and the directing intelligence that he has with others, for the facilities which he does not have. The mutual cooperative activity of society—spiritually, administratively, economically and manually—forms the essence of the Varna system. The classification into Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras is not a categorization of people into superior and inferior types, into bosses and subordinates, but it is a classification of the functions of individuals according to their knowledge and capacities, for the purpose of a complete cooperative organization of humankind, with a noble intention and purpose. The desires of ours are classified in this manner, and they are given an opportunity of permissible satisfaction, by a mutual cooperation horizontally in this manner.
There is the other side, namely, the vertical side, which is the subject of the Ashrama-Dharma, or duties pertaining to the different Ashramas, or stages of life. Just as we have totally misunderstood the meaning of the Varna system, we have also misunderstood the meaning of the Ashrama system. Just as we condemn the classification of Varna as caste distinction, we convert the classification of the stages of one’s life by way of Ashrama, into a kind of dead routine of religion. Neither Varna nor Ashrama is a routine. Varnashrama is a vital participation in the processes of life, externally as well as internally. Externally it goes by the name of Varna, and internally it goes by the name of Ashrama. So, outwardly as well as inwardly, these systems of organization known as Varna and Ashrama, are procedures enjoined upon every person, for untying the various knots of entanglement in life, engendered by one’s needs which are social, physical, vital, emotional, intellectual and so on.
Such a vast involvement is associated with this little thing called Brahmacharya, by the practice of which we do not merely put on a conduct personally and socially but establish ourselves in a status of strength, where we are so tuned to things that our energies do not move at all in any direction, but are held up in such a way that there is no urge within ourselves to transfer our energies to outside things for the fulfilment of our desires.
The intention behind the practice of the canons of Varna and Ashrama in a graduated manner is not the indulgence of desires, but their graduated, scientific, systematized and cautious fulfilment in a measure that is permissible and required under the circumstances for the purpose of freeing oneself from them finally. So, we do not eat because we want to eat, but because it is necessary to reach a stage where we need not eat at all. There is, therefore, a deep background behind the psychology of the canons known as the Yamas and a clear understanding of this background will help us to practice these canons better.
Brahmacharya actually means the ‘conduct of the Absolute’. ‘Brahman’ is the Supreme Being; ‘Charya’ is conduct, or behaviour. How God behaves—that is called Brahmacharya, finally. The attitude of the Supreme Being towards the universe and all beings is Brahmacharya, and to the extent that we are able to participate in this attitude, it may be said that we are also following that canon. The idea behind this significant term Brahmacharya, translated as the conduct of the Absolute, is that it is a gradual adjustment of the powers of one’s personality towards larger and larger dimensions of impersonality, because, the Absolute or Brahman is the Supreme Impersonality conceivable and existent.
Whenever there is a specialized outlook in any particular direction, along the channel of an object or a group of objects, living or non-living, consciousness moves in that direction. No matter what our interest is in that direction, our mind moves. When the mind moves, the Prana also moves. When the Prana moves, the energy also moves. So, one follows the other. So, in some measure, we cease to be ourselves for the time being when we admire something, love something, or are attracted towards something. The object may be conceptual, visible or audible, it makes no difference; we get transferred.
In all these processes of sensory or intellectual absorption, outside oneself, there is a channelizing of force of which we are constituted and which forms our strength. As long as we do not sell ourselves to any outside object, do not participate in anything external, we stand by ourselves. Otherwise, in some percentage, we cease to be ourselves and become another. We are shaken up in our whole system, because of the desire of the personality to move outside itself. As milk gradually becomes curd by an internal shaking of itself, the subject can turn into the object. And love of any kind is nothing but the transference of the subject into the object in some measure, be that object perceptible or merely conceptual. The very thought of the object disturbs the mind.
The thought of an object is of two kinds, called the Aklishta Vritti and the Klishta Vritti by Patanjali. Anything we like or dislike evokes a Klishta Vritti in the mind. A thing in which we are not particularly interested either way evokes an Aklishta Vritti in the mind. For the purpose of Yoga, both these Vrittis have to be subdued. Neither the Klishta nor the Aklishta is a desirable thing from the point of view of Mano-nirodha (control of the mind) or Chitta-vritti-nirodha (control of thoughts), which is Yoga.
The objects of the world speak in a language which we understand in our own way. They get transformed into a meaning when they enter into the mind of individuals; and each ndividual has his own or her own reading of any particular object. Every object sings a song and we listen to this music, but its meaning is different for different persons.
Objects of the world are not intended for being loved or for being hated. They exist as we also exist. So, studying things in an impartial manner, we find that loves and hatreds are outside the scheme of things. They are not in the order of nature. They do not exist in nature at all.
So, a lack of Brahmacharya means nothing but the presence of interests other than the interest in Yoga. The distracting object may be anything. If we have got a strong interest in something which distracts our attention, the energy goes. Any kind of leakage of energy in any direction, caused by any object or any event or context, is a break in Brahmacharya. A burst of anger is a break in Brahmacharya, though one does not normally think so.
The Individual – A Pressure Center
We are centers of pressure or stress. Every individual is such a center, which seeks to break down this pressure, overcome this stress, by adopting some means which it thinks is the proper one under the circumstances. But, the understanding of the way in which this stress is to be removed depends upon one’s own stage of evolution. We are perpetually in a state of mental stress and nervous pressure from childhood to doom, and the whole of our life is spent only in trying to find out ways and means of relieving ourselves of these stresses and strains, and we have our own way of doing it. The way in which we try to relieve ourselves of these stresses and strains—this way is called the expression of desires. What is called desire is the method we adopt to relieve ourselves of our tensions, nervous and psychological.
The stress or the strain has arisen on account of a separation of the individual from Nature. The world has cast us out as exiles. Our internal desire, finally, is to unite ourselves with Nature which is our mother or our parent. The relief that we are seeking from our stresses and strains is ultimately a desire or a longing to become one with our parent, from whom we have been cut off or isolated. Our desire is to possess everything. And the desire to possess is called love. What goes by the name of love of any kind in this world is a desire to possess things, which are considered as instruments capable of relieving us of our stresses and strains. Forgetfulness of the tension or the stress for the time being is imagined to be a way of relief from the stress itself. When a larger stress swoops down upon us, the lesser stress is forgotten. All our pains, sorrows and complaints vanish in a minute, in a trite, when we are about to be drowned in a river, for instance. We do not complain about anything at that time. Everything would seem to be all right if only we could be saved from possible drowning. Because, that is a problem larger than all the other little problems about which we are constantly complaining in life. So is the case with our asking for the fulfillment of our desires by contact with things.
Our desire is not for the contact. That is the whole point, though it appears that the senses tell us to come in contact with various things in the world for the relief of our tension. We are not asking for things. Nobody wants anything in this world finally. But, it appears as if we are wanting them, due to a mischievous interpretation given to these circumstances by our senses, by externalizing our internal anguish for a communion with all things. All loves, all desires, are urges for communion with things. While our urge within is a holy and pious impulse to come in union with all things, with Nature as a whole, this impulse is thrown in the direction of space and time and is externalized by the powers of the senses. The senses have only one work to do, to externalize everything. So, even our desires are externalized, while really our desire is for something else. That is the reason why we are not satisfied, no matter what objects are given to us, we are always disillusioned in the end. Whatever be our possession, it is not going to satisfy us finally.
There is a basic blunder in the very attitude of the mind in imagining that what it seeks through the fulfillment of desires lies outside it. The other blunder is, that in its movement towards the so-called external things, it has lost its energies. It has weakened itself. The Self, when it becomes the non-self, becomes a corpse, becomes dead. So, a person who has desires is a weakling. He has no strength at all. He has neither physical strength nor mental strength. The more the unfulfilled desires, the greater is the weakness of the body and the mind.
Many people think of the realization of timeless, formless, spaceless Parasiva, nirvikalpa samâdhi, as the most blissful of all blissful states, the opening of the heavens, the descent of the Gods, as a moment of supreme, sublime joyousness; whereas I have found it to be more like cut glass, diamond-dust darshan, a psychic surgery, not a blissful experience at all, but really a kind of near-death experience resulting in total transformation. The bliss that is often taught as a final attainment is actually another attainment, Sat chid ânanda, an aftermath of nirvikalpa samâdhi, and a “before-math.” This means that Sat chid ânanda, savikalpa samâdhi, may be attained early on by souls pure in heart.
In my experience, the anâhata chakra is the resting place of dynamic complacency, of thoughtful perception and quietude. Those of a lower nature arriving in the bloom of this chakra are released from turbulent emotions, conflicting thoughts and disturbances. This to many is the end of the path, attaining peace, or Sânti. Once one attains sânti as just described, in my experience, this marks the beginning of the path, or part two, the second level. It is from here that the practices of râja yoga take hold, once sânti is attained. In the anâhata chakra and visuddha chakra, Sat chid ânanda, the all-pervasive being of oneness, of the underlying being of the universe, is attained, experienced. But unless brahmacharya, chastity, is absolutely adhered to, the experience is not maintained. It is here that relations between men and women play an important part, as in their union temporary oneness occurs, followed by a more permanent two-ness and ever-accumulating distractions, sometimes along with insolvable difficulties. Those who practice sexual tantras, seeking Self Realization through this path, will agree with this wisdom.
Self Realization is in several stages. Realizing oneself as a soul —rather than a mind, an intellectual and emotional type, or a worthless person—gives satisfaction, security, and this is a starting point. Realization of the Self as Sat chid ânanda gives contentment, a release from all emotions and thoughts of the external world, and the nerve system responds to the energies flowing through the visuddha and anâhata chakras. Realizing the Self that transcends time, form and space, Parasiva, is a razor-edged experience, cutting all bonds, reversing individual awareness, such as looking out from the Self rather than looking into the Self. There are many boons after this transforming experience, if repeated many times. One or two occurrences does make a renunciate out of the person and does make the world renounce the renunciate, but then, without persistent effort, former patterns of emotion, intellect, lack of discipline, which would inhibit the repeated experience of Parasiva, would produce a disoriented nomad, so to speak. Therefore, repeated experiences of the ego-destructive Parasiva, from all states of consciousness, intellectual, instinctive, even in dreams, permeates the transformation through atoms and molecules even in the physical body.
Bliss quiets the senses. It is the natural state of the mind when unperturbed by previous desires unfulfilled, desires yet to be fulfilled and the desires known to not be fulfillable. As long as the anâhata and visuddha chakras spin at top velocity, the senses will be quieted, few thoughts will pass through the mind unbidden, and the understanding of the Vedas and all aspects of esoteric knowledge will be able to be explained by the preceptor.
Realizing Parasiva is merging with Siva, but it is not the end of merging. At that pinpoint of time, there are still the trappings of body, mind and emotions that claim awareness into their consciousness. Ultimately, when all bodies—physical, astral, mental, even the soul body—wear out their time, as all forms wear out in time, bound by time, existing in time, as relative realities, then visvagrâsa, the final merger with Siva, occurs, as the physical body drops away, the astral body drops away, the mental body drops away, and the soul—a shining, scintillating being of light quantums—merges into its source. As when a drop of water merges into the ocean, it can never be retrieved, only Siva remains. Aum Nama˙ Sivâya.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
There are no shortcuts to enlightenment, but there are detours. Impatience with the natural process is one of them. I am saying that impatient striving, the kind of striving that puts aside all common sense and says “I am going to get realization no matter what” is itself an obstacle to that realization which is not a something to get. We must work to perfect an inner serenity that can accept spending a lifetime or several lifetimes in search of Truth, that can accept that some of us are by our nature and unfoldment better suited to service and devotion, and others to yoga and the various sâdhanas. This is a far more enlightened perspective than the Western notion which subtly maintains that there is but a single life in which all the final goals must be reached. The eternal spiritual path, the way of God, is broad. It accepts all and rejects none. No matter where a seeker is in his inner development, the eternal path embraces and encourages him.
According to the Ågamic tradition, four categories of charyâ, kriyâ, yoga and jñâna are the natural sequence of the soul’s evolutionary process, much like the development of a butterfly from egg to larva, from larva to caterpillar, from caterpillar to pupa, and then the final metamorphosis from pupa to butterfly. Every butterfly, without exception, will follow this pattern of development, and every soul will mature through charyâ to kriyâ, through kriyâ to yoga and into jñâna. Charyâ, or karma yoga, may be simply defined as service. Kriyâ, or bhakti yoga, is devotion. Yoga, or râja yoga, is meditation, and jñâna is the state of wisdom reached toward the end of the path as the result of God Realization and the subsequent enlivened kundalinî and unfoldment of the chakras through the practices of yoga. The soul does not move quickly from one stage to another. It is a deliberate process, and within each stage there exist vast libraries of knowledge containing the sum of thousands of years of teachings unraveling that particular experiential vista.
The evolution of the soul through the stage of charyâ, or service, may itself take many, many lives. We see people every day who are working to be of service, to be more efficient, to be more useful to others. Charyâ is the state of overcoming basic instinctive patterns and learning to work for the sake of work rather than the fruits of our labor. It is the simple fulfillment of right action and the first step on the spiritual path. The instinctive mind at this stage of evolution is so strong that it must be governed firmly by external laws, external forces. Tendencies toward selfishness lose their hold on the devotee as he strives to become the perfect servant to God and mankind.
Worship during the charyâ stage is entirely external. As the devotee unfolds into the next stage, of kriyâ or bhakti yoga, he will want to worship and serve in the temple in more internalized ways. Singing the sacred hymns, chanting the names of the Lord and performing japa will become an important part of his devotion, which is partly internal and partly external. Kriyâ blossoms into its fullness when there arises in his heart a desire, a strong desire, to know and experience God.
It is through the devotees in the kriyâ, or bhakti yoga, stage of the unfoldment of the soul that we have all over the world today magnificent Hindu temples, built by people who have performed well, who have controlled their thoughts and actions, who have understood the laws of karma and the penalties of wrong action. They have avoided wrong action not out of fear, but because they have evolved into performing right action. As he matures in kriyâ, the devotee unfolds a more and more intense love of God, to the point that he may well shed joyful tears during intense moments of worship. When that love is constant from day to day, when it is strong enough that he is capable of surrendering his individual will to God’s Cosmic Will, then kriyâ or bhakti yoga has reached its zenith.
At this stage of kriyâ the devotee learns patience. He learns to wait for the proper timing of things in his life. He is in no hurry. He is willing to wait for another life, or for many more lives. There is no urgency. He trusts God and trusts the path he is on. He settles down, and his life comes into a balance.
In the stages of charyâ and kriyâ, the deep-seated impurities of the mind are cleansed as past karmas are resolved and a foundation laid for the third stage on the divine path, that of yoga. Yoga is a very advanced science. It cannot be sustained except by the soul that has unfolded into the fullness of charyâ and kriyâ and maintains the qualities of service and devotion as meditation is pursued. The devotee who has served God well now embarks upon finding union with God in his sanctum within.
In yoga, the devotee worships the transcendent aspect of God. He strengthens his body and nerve system. He disciplines the energies of mind and body. He learns to regulate his breath and to control the prânas that flow as life’s force through his nerve system. In this process, the kundalinî Sakti is lifted and the multi-petaled chakras unfold in all their splendor. Lord Siva now brings the earnest devotee to meet his sat guru, who will guide him through the traditional disciplines of yoga on his inward journey. It is his spiritual preceptor, his guru, who takes care that he avoids the abysses and psychic pitfalls along the path. In this stage of yoga, the devotee looks upon God as a friend, a companion. Finally, one day, in his first samâdhi, he penetrates to the essence of being. In this ultimate experience, which remains forever beyond description, he has reached the union which is yoga.
Returning from this state of ineffable fulfillment, the devotee brings back into his life a new understanding, a new perspective. He is never the same after that experience. He can never again look at life in the same way. Each time he enters into that God Realization, that samâdhi, he returns to consciousness more and more the knower. His knowing matures through the years as his yoga sâdhana is regulated, and as it matures he enters ever so imperceptibly into the fourth and final stage of unfoldment, into jñâna.
One does not become a jñânî simply by reading philosophy. Understanding another person’s wisdom does not make us wise. Each has to experience the fullness of the path to enlightenment himself. The jñânî becomes one who postulates that what he has himself realized are the final conclusions for all mankind. His postulations are filled with assuredness, for he has experienced what the Vedas, the Ågamas and the Upanishads speak of. He has awakened the power and force of his own realization. He knows. He becomes the embodiment of that knowing, of the Truth he once sought as something other than himself. He finds within the scriptures confirmation of his realization echoed in the verses of rishis written at the dawn of human history. This matured soul sees reflected in their writings that same state of complete merging with the Divine that he himself has come to know as the timeless, formless, spaceless Absolute which he once worshiped symbolically as a stone image in previous life wanderings within the instinctive mind. He has removed the veils of ignorance, removed the obstacles to understanding. He has come into his true being, union with God, union with Siva, and in this serene state he sees God as his beloved, as that which is dearer to him than life itself, as he is consumed by that all-encompassing love. He has become the source of light and darshan which radiate out through the nâdîs and prânas of his being.
The final conclusions are that mankind is on a spiritual path as old as time itself, that this journey progresses from birth to birth as the soul evolves through the perfection of charyâ into the perfection of kriyâ, and from there into the perfection of yoga, emerging as a jñânî. This is the path followed by all souls. Whatever religion they espouse, whatsoever they may believe or deny, all of mankind is on the one path to Truth. It begins with the dvaita of charyâ and ends in the advaita of jñâna.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
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
Avoid all kinds of self-abuse. They drain away your vital energy and leave you like a dead man or like the sugar-cane from which the juice has been extracted. Veerya is indeed a priceless possession. Do not waste it for the sake of a momentary excitement and sensation. You will lose your eyesight. You will have dimness of vision. You will have shattered nerves.
Do not look at the reproductive Indriya. Do not also touch the generative organ with your hands now and then. This will aggravate your Kama Vasana. When it gets erection, do Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha.
Sexual excesses and outbursts of anger and hatred should be given up. Energy is depleted by fits of anger. The cells and tissues are filled with morbid poisonous materials when one loses his temper and entertains deep hatred. Various sorts of physical ailments crop up. The blood becomes hot and thin, and consequently, night pollution results. Various sorts of nervous diseases are attributable to excessive loss of the seminal energy and frequent fits of explosive anger or wrath.
Most of the diseases take their origin in overeating. Observe moderation in diet. Avoid late suppers. The evening meal should be light and eaten before 6 or 7 p.m. If possible, take milk and fruits only at night. No solid or liquid should be taken after sunset. When you take milk, mix ginger essence in it. Or boil crushed ginger with milk before taking the milk. Give up hot Chutnies, garlic, onion and pungent foodstuffs.
Sleep on a coarse bed. Use rough mats. Sleep on the left side. Allow the Solar Nadi, Pingala, to work throughout the night through the right nostril. In acute cases, sleep on the back until recovery.
If you are a married man, sleep in a separate room. You should never allow your wife to massage your legs at night. This is a dangerous practice.
It is befitting for a celibate to wear always wooden sandals as thereby the semen will be conserved, eyes will be benefited, life prolonged and holiness and lustre increased.
Endeavour to qualify yourself as your own doctor. Understand the laws of nature, the principles of hygiene and health. Do not tresspass against the laws of health. Do not give room for the mind to think of the body or the disease. This is the treatment for any kind of disease.
Root out love of leisure and ease. Overcome laziness and always keep the body and mind engaged in some useful work. Keeping the mind constantly engaged is one of the great secrets of Brahmacharya. Lead a disciplined, rigorous life.
First, dietary control. Meat can make a scientist, but never a philosopher, a sage or a Sattvic Person. Meat excites the passions. Gradually give up salt and tamarind. Salt excites passion and emotion. Salt excites and strengthens the Indriyas. Renunciation of salt brings in a cool condition of the mind and the nerves. It helps meditation.
Do not indulge in seeing naked pictures. All these tend to increase passion and deplete Veerya. You should strictly avoid these.
Watch the thoughts. Mind is a great electricity battery. It is a big dynamo indeed. This force of thought is transmitted with a tremendous lightning speed along the nerves to the organs. The physical body is fleshy mould prepared by the mind in accordance with the Samskaras and Vasanas for its own experience and enjoyment. The mind sways the organs of an undisciplined passionate man who has boisterous revolting Indriyas. It becomes an obedient faithful servant of a trained, developed Yogi. An ever-vigilant Brahmachari should always watch his thoughts very carefully. The bad thought should be nipped in the bud by supplanting counter divine thoughts. It should not be allowed to penetrate the physical body.
It is the mind that really does all actions. A desire arises in your mind and then you think. Then you proceed to act. The determination of the mind is put into action. First there is Sankalpa or thought and then comes action. Therefore, do not allow the sexual thoughts, to enter the mind.
That which the tongue speaks of, the organs of action do. That is the reason why it is said in the Vedas: “Let my mind think of auspicious things.” Entertain sublime divine thoughts. The old evil sexual thought will gradually vanish, just as the old nail in a plank goes away by inserting over it a new nail.
Seek Satsanga or good company. Even a moment’s company with wise people is quite sufficient to overhaul the old vicious Samskaras of worldly-minded people. The magnetic aura, the spiritual vibrations and the powerful thought-currents of developed adepts produce a tremendous influence on the minds of worldlings. The personal contact of Mahatmas is a blessing in reality for worldly persons. This is the reason why Sankara and others have spoken so highly of Satsanga in all their books.
If you cannot get good Satsanga in your own place, you can visit places of pilgrimage. Study of books written by realized persons will also be tantamount to Satsanga. The only potent specific for inducing burning Vairagya and desire for liberation is Satsanga.
Constantly remember: “Through the grace of God, I am becoming purer and purer, every day. Pleasures come but not to stay. Mortal flesh is only clay. Everything will pass away. Brahmacharya is the only way.” Develop Viveka and Vairagya.
It will not be out of place here to draw the reader’s attention to some Buddhist monks who always keep a human skull with them. This is to cause Vairagya in them and to remind them of the impermanent and perishable nature of human life.
Without renunciation of woman, it is impossible to have Self-realization. Ladies should not be offended when they read these lines. I only want to impress upon both the sexes the force and the glory of Brahmacharya and the evil effect of lust. I have great regard and admiration for women. Brahmacharya should be practiced by both men and women.
Mere condemning of lust is not sufficient to wean the mind from sexual craving. Remember this point well. Lust is a potent force, very difficult to be got rid of. That is the reason why the Sastras and saints censure and condemn women in order to create dispassion and discrimination in men and wean them from lustful tendencies and aggressive attacks. Sri Sankara, Sri Dattatreya, Sri Rama, Sri Tulasidas have all criticised women not out of hatred, prejudice or dislike, but out of compassion for elevating people from the quagmire of Samsara. Their criticism of women implies and includes criticism of man also. Their criticism aims at weaning the minds of worldly persons from sexual sin and creating disgust for sexual pleasure, and dispassion for worldly objects. This is misunderstood by people.
The same scriptures and saints who censure women in one place praise them in another. They say, “Women should be honoured. They are Ardhanginis. They are manifestations of Sakti or the energy of the Lord. Only those who honour women can attain prosperity.” Therefore, O women! Try to know the heart of the scriptures and the saints and become wise.
In India, religion is preserved and maintained only through the devotional element in women. Devotion is a fundamental characteristic of Hindu ladies. Hate lust, but not women.
When you obtain Viveka and Vairagya, then lust cannot take hold of you. You will see and realize, “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma. All is Brahman only.” You will have Atma-Drishti. The sex idea will then vanish.
A vow of celibacy will give you sure protection against temptation. It is a strong weapon to attack lust. If your renunciation is not the outcome of discrimination and dispassion, the mind will be simply waiting for an opportunity to get back the object that has been renounced.
If you are weak, take a vow of celibacy for a month and then extend it to three months. You will gain some strength now. You will be able to prolong the period to six months. Gradually you will be able to extend the vow to one or two or three years. Sleep separately and do vigorous Japa, Kirtan and meditation daily. You will hate lust now. You will experience freedom and indescribable joy.
If you can render your will pure, strong and irresistible by eliminating desires, by eradicating Raga-Dvesha, by reducing your wants and by practising Titiksha, passion will die. Will is a powerful enemy of passion.
Lust takes its origin from impure resolution. Indulgence strengthens it. When you resolutely turn away from it, it vanishes and dies. You will have to destroy the old mind and build a new mind. Nevertheless you will have to do it if you want to attain immortality and eternal bliss. You will surely succeed if you are fiery in your resolve and if you have an iron determination.
A man or a woman should practice self-analysis and self-examination. They should have a proper understanding of the ways in which lust operates and plays, and the things and emotions which excite passion and the manner in which one falls a victim to the other. Then only control of lust is possible.
Change the mental attitude. You will have heaven on earth. You will be established in Brahmacharya. This is an important method for becoming a true Brahmachari. See Atman in all women.
For a scientist, a woman is a mass of electrons only. For a Vaiseshika philosopher of Rishi Kanada’s school of thought, she is a conglomeration of atoms—Paramanu, Dvyanu, Tryanu. For a tiger, she is an object of prey. For a passionate husband, she is an object of enjoyment. For a crying child, she is an affectionate mother who gives milk, sweets and other indulgences. For a jealous sister-in-law or mother-in-law, she is an enemy. For a Viveki or a Vairagi, she is a combination of flesh, bone, urine, faecal matter, pus, perspiration, blood and phlegm. For a full-blown Jnani, she is Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman.
There is neither sex nor sexual Vasana in Brahman. Brahman is Nitya-Suddha, eternally pure: By constant thinking on that sexless Atman, you will be established in Brahmacharya. This is the most powerful and effective method. This is the best kind of Sadhana for those who know the right technique of Vichara. But, only advanced students in the path of Jnana Yoga can rely on the method of Brahma Vichara alone for the destruction of passion. For the vast majority of persons, a combined method is very congenial and healthy. When the enemies are very powerful, a combined method of lathis, pistols, shot-guns, machine-guns, submarines, torpedoes, bombs and poisonous gases is used for the destruction of the enemies. So also, in the destruction of this powerful enemy, passion, a combined method is absolutely necessary.
Excerpts from “Practice of Brahmacharya” by Swami Sivananda
In the Practice of Brahmacharya, what is wanted is elimination of lust, but not suppression. Suppression of the sex urge is not eradication. You can never be free of that which is suppressed. The suppressed sex desire will attack you again and again and will produce wet dreams, irritability and restlessness of mind.
Repression or suppression of the sexual desire will not help you much. If lust is suppressed, it will again manifest with redoubled force when a suitable opportunity arises, when the will becomes weak, when Vairagya wanes, when there is slackening in meditation or Yogic Sadhana, when you become weak owing to an attack of disease.
Do not try to run away from women. Then Maya will chase you terribly. What is wanted is a judicious control of the Indriyas. Brahmacharya means control, but not suppression, of the sex desire or sex force. The mind should be rendered pure by meditation, Japa, Kirtan and prayer. If the mind is filled with sublime divine thoughts by meditation, Japa, prayer and study of holy scriptures, the sex desire will be devitalised or de-energised by the withdrawal of the mind. The mind also will be thinned out.
Ojas is spiritual energy that is stored up in the brain. By entertaining sublime, soul elevating thoughts of the Self or Atman, by meditation, Japa, worship and Pranayama, the sexual energy can be transmuted into Ojas Sakti and stored up in the brain. This stored up energy can then be utilised for divine contemplation and spiritual pursuits.
If the sexual energy is transmuted into Ojas or spiritual energy by pure thoughts, it is called sex sublimation in western psychology. Sublimation is not a matter of suppression or repression, but a positive, dynamic, conversion process. It is the process of controlling the sex energy, conserving it, then diverting it into higher channels, and finally, converting it into spiritual energy or Ojas Sakti. The material energy is changed into spiritual energy, just as heat is changed into light and electricity.
Anger and muscular energy can also be transmuted into Ojas. A man who has a great deal of Ojas in his brain can turn out immense mental work. He is very intelligent. He has lustrous eyes and a magnetic aura in his face. He can influence people by speaking a few words.
In Yoga, it is called Oordhvaretas. An Oordhvareta Yogi is one in whom the seminal energy has flown upwards into the brain as Ojas Sakti. There is now no possibility of the semen going downwards by sexual excitement.
The secret of sex sublimation
According to Yogic science, semen exists in a subtle form throughout the whole body. It is found in a subtle state in all the cells of the body. It is withdrawn and elaborated into a gross form in the sexual organ under the influence of the sexual will and sexual excitement. An Oordhvareta Yogi not only converts the semen into Ojas, but checks through his Yogic power, through purity in thought, word and deed, the very formation of semen by the secretary cells of the testes or seeds. This is a great secret.
Allopaths believe that even in an Oordhvareta Yogi, the formation of semen goes on incessantly and that the fluid is reabsorbed into the blood. This is a mistake. They do not understand the inner Yogic secrets and mysteries. Their Drishti or vision is concerned with the gross things of the universe. The Yogi penetrates into the subtle hidden nature of things through Yogic Chakshu or the inner vision of wisdom. The Yogi gets control over the astral nature of semen and thereby prevents the formation of thevery fluid itself.
The body of a man who is truly an Oordhvaretas has the scent of a lotus. A man who is not a Brahmachari, in whom gross semen is formed, may, on the other hand, smell like a buck goat. The semen dries up in those who practice Pranayama seriously. The semen-energy ascends up to the brain. It is stored up as Ojas Sakti or spiritual energy and comes back as Amrita or nectar.
The process of sex sublimation is extremely difficult. It demands constant and protracted Sadhana and perfect discipline. That Yogi who has achieved perfect sublimation has perfect control over lust. Complete sublimation is achieved through ceaseless meditation on Atman and Self-realization. That Yogi or Jnani who has attained the highest Nirvikalpa Samadhi, in whom the seeds of Samskaras are fried in toto, can claim to be a perfect Oordhvaretas or one who has complete sex sublimation. There is no fear of his downfall. He is perfectly safe. He will be absolutely free from impurity. This stage is a very high stage. A microscopic minority only have attained this sublime exalted state. Sankara, Dattatreya, Jnana Deva of Alandi and others reached this stage.
The process of sex sublimation is very difficult, and yet, it is most necessary for the aspirant in the spiritual path. It is the most important qualification for the Sadhaka, be he in the path of Karma Yoga, Upasana, Yoga or Vedanta. It is a fundamental prerequisite for an aspirant. If one has this qualification or merit, all other merits will come and cling to him. All good qualities will come by themselves. You must achieve this at any cost. You will surely attempt this in future births. But why not now?
Is celibacy possible?
It is quite possible for a man to practice celibacy while remaining in the world, albeit there are various sorts of temptations and distractions. Many have achieved this in times of yore. There are many even at the present moment also. A well disciplined life, a Sattvic and moderate diet, study of religious scriptures, Satsanga, Japa, Dhyana, Pranayama, daily introspection and enquiry, self-analysis and self-correction, Sadachara, practice of Yama and Niyama, physical, verbal and mental Tapas in accordance with the teachings of the Seventeenth Chapter of the Gita—all will pave a long way in the attainment of this end. People have an irregular, unrighteous, immoderate, irreligious, undisciplined life. Hence they suffer, and fail in the achievement of the goal of life. Just as the elephant throws sand on its own head, so also, they themselves bring difficulties and troubles on their own heads on account of their foolishness.
It is only for passionate people that the Grihastha Ashram or householder’s life is prescribed, because they cannot control their lust. If one is born with sufficient spiritual Samskaras, inborn Viveka and Vairagya, like Sankara or Sadasiva Brahman, he will not enter the Grihashtha Ashram. He will at once take to Naishthik Brahmacharya and then embrace Sannyasa. The Srutis also endorse this. Says the Jabala Upanishad: “Renounce the world on the very day you get Vairagya”.
To some, marriage hinders the spiritual progress; to others, it helps. For Raja Bhartrihari, it was a hindrance; for saint Tukaram, it was a help. Man reaches the same goal in the long run. Let the run be the shortest. Let the short cut be preferred to the long walk.
Brahmacharya is the straight road to God-realization; marriage is a serpentine route. The realization of the Self, however, is not denied even to a Grihasthi just because he has the burden of a family on his shoulders. Saint Tukaram was married twice and had children; yet, he reached Vaikuntha in a Vimana or an aerial car. If your outlook on worldly life is simple, true and honest, if your would-be partner is one who is pious and one who will obey you in all matters, there is no harm in marrying. But if the married life is more likely to prove burden, a curse on one, why should one marry and entangle oneself in chains that can never be cut asunder?
Do not be too familiar with anybody. Familiarity breeds contempt. Do not multiply friends. Do not court friendship with women. However strong you may be through the practice of Tapas and meditation. Do not expose yourself to temptation. Do not test your spiritual strength and purity when you are a beginner on the spiritual path.
God places some temptations before the aspirant to test his spiritual strength. He gives him also strength to conquer the temptations. The strongest temptation in this world is lust. All the saints passed through temptations. Temptations are profitable. People are instructed and strengthened.
He who lives in seclusion is more exposed to temptations and danger. He will have to be very careful and vigilant. The mind will be tempted to do anything as there is nobody to witness its evil action. All suppressed evil Vrittis will be waiting for an opportunity to attack him with redoubled force. The enemies anger, lust and greed will take you unawares. When you walk alone in the spiritual path, they will attack you like the thieves who attack a lonely passenger in the dense forest. Therefore, be always in the company of the wise. Do not go astray.
STOP THAT LUSTFUL LOOK!
Those who practice Brahmacharya should control the sexual gazing impulse. This kind of impulse is a great menace, as it stimulates curiosity and sexual desire. Vasanas grow from lustful look.
There is no harm in looking at a beautiful object; but you will have to develop the Divine Bhav. You will have to feel that everything is a manifestation of God. Purify your thoughts and feelings. Purity is Brahman. Thou art pure in essence. Thou art an embodiment of purity.
You have no lustful look when you see your mother or sister although they are beautiful, well-dressed and decorated with ornaments and flowers. You look at them with affection and pure love. This is Suddha Bhavana. There are no lustful ideas. You will have to develop such a pure love or Bhavana when you look at other women also. If there is impurity behind the gaze, it tantamounts to adultery. Looking at a woman with a lustful heart is tantamount to sexual enjoyment. It is one form of Maithunam. That is the reason why Lord Jesus says, “If you have a lustful look at a woman, you have already committed adultery in your heart.”
You will have to cultivate feelings of devotion, admiration and awe when you look at an alluring form by remembering the Creator of that form.
The dictum, “Do not look even at the picture of a woman”, is for passionate people who have no self-control. Yajnavalkya taught Atma-Vidya to his wife Maitreyi. Raikva had the daughter of King Janasruti to serve him. He was a Naishthik Brahmachari.
There is no harm in looking at a beautiful woman. You can admire the beauty of a girl just as you admire the beauty of a rose, the beauty of the sea, the stars or any other natural scenery. Think that the beauty of your wife belongs to Nature and Nature’s Lord, Isvar. Whenever you see a lady, put this question to your mind: “Who is the creator of this beautiful form?” At once, a sense of wonder, a sense of admiration and a sense of devotion will arise in your mind. It is only when you dart a lustful, unchaste look at a woman that you commit sin. You commit adultery at heart. Only when you entertain lustful thoughts, bondage and misery come.
The beauty that you perceive in the faces of the ladies is the beauty of the Lord. You can have admiration in this manner. Woman is a symbol of beauty. She is a symbol of power. She talks to you in the language of silence: “I am a representative of Adi Sakti. See God in me. See Mother Kali in me. Realize God in and through me. Worship God as an embodiment of beauty. Adore Him as an embodiment of power. ” Again and again think that the beauty of the face is the beauty of the Lord. Godly feeling will arise in you when you look at a woman.
Excerpts from “Practice of Brahmacharya” by Swami Sivananda