Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Gang Rape and its Spiritual implication....

Yes Each one of us has a very special ability or capability….. Osho has said “Each person comes into the world with a specific destiny. He has something to fulfil, some message to deliver, some work to complete. You are not here accidentally ; you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you….” Spiritually speaking, when we take this earthly birth, we do so based on our karmas and to fulfil some of our desires, based on the “contract” we make with the Creator and certain other beings before coming…we come to experience something, often to achieve what we had wanted to do earlier but could not…and very often earlier unpleasant or bad experiences of a previous birth egg us on to set ‘right’ the “wrongs” this time. Our subconscious mind knows it all and keeps giving us small little messages in the form of whispers which make us do what we do… plants thoughts in our minds which bring about certain events (even without us knowing about it). Certain events get “created” in this way by bringing the “players’ for a particular “act” together in order to fulfil that desire. Nature is always trying to help us achieve what we wish to since our thoughts attract similar ones from around us in a very subtle manner. Often good souls take birth to convey very specific messages for mankind, which they do through their actions even by getting hurt in the process. The hurt turns into major sacrifices sometimes…the good soul subjects itself to hardship just to help mankind. Such souls need to be worshipped! What has “Nirbhaya” (as TOI calls this courageous girl) come to do? To me, it appears that Nirbhaya has a wonderful soul which has been crying for justice. She has stood her ground for her self- respect and fought the perpetrators at every step, fighting the heinous crime which was being committed on her. Her indomitable spirit as well as her ‘never say die” attitude should be a very strong message to us. Nirbhaya has started a nationwide ‘campaign” against injustice, as seen by the spontaneous and unprecedented response to her plight. Never before have we witnessed such tremendous outpouring of emotion…she has brought together people from diverse situations together, in fact, she has brought the nation together to fight and to correct the ‘wrong’ by attempting to change the present scenario of lawlessness against women. Without consciously knowing about it she has been following the dictates of her subconscious mind to bring about sweeping changes in society. Souls like ‘Nirbhaya’s’ are very “old” souls , who have a lot of experience behind them… such they convey very strong messages as they know what exactly they have come to achieve through their exemplary actions for the benefit of humanity….their love for a human being is deeply spiritual and divine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kundalini Revisited...What is the best method for raising it?

The “mystical”word, Kundalini, has always remained an enigma even though so much has been written about it! One gets the impression that if one knows about it then one is already enlightened! On the other hand, being ingnorant about it is tantamount to being unintelligent, so to speak. What is Kundalini? Yogis believe that the Kundalini is our individual manifestation of the larger Shakti which is the creative force of the Universe. This larger shakti has also been called Mahakundalini by some (Mary Scott, “Kundalini in the physical world”). It is regarded as a stabilizing agency, whether at the physical or Cosmic level. It is part of the Universal Spirit present inside us, but about which we are not normally aware. It is tremendously powerful, borne out of the fact that it has given birth to us. The role of the kundalini is to see that all the multiple energy based processes occurring inside our bodies are held firmly together in accordance with the patterns commensurate with our destiny and life’s purpose, while Mahakundalini appears to be similar to Tao, as described by the Chinese, who have conceived it “as a vast all-embracing terrestrial energy not subject to gravity or electromagnetism but modifying them as they operate within the Earth’s field”(Mary Scott) To understand what kundalini is, one needs first to delve into the process of Creation. Our ancient rishis have understood that, for this entire universe to be created the One has to manifest into many. Based on the tantric philosophy, Shiva brings about consciousness which blends with shakti in order to create human life. This creation occurs through the blending of the Five Elements or Tattvas. Akash or Ether first appeared out of nothingness or the void and is the first of the Five Elements and is considered the medium through which sound is transmitted and it was this sound which initiated creation (Shabd, Aum, Hum, Holy Ghost….). Since this shabd has brought about our creation, it has the power to take us back to the One also. It is this shabd which continues to create and is manifested everywhere. From Akash, arises the second element, Vayu or Air as swirling masses of gaseous matter, which then combust forming heat and light, whereby giving birth to the third Element, Tejas or Fire. The residues then pool, and moisture appears forming the liquid Element, called Apas or Water. Finally, crystallization and solidification occurs and we have the Earth or Prithvi. (Dr Rudolph Ballentine, “Radical Healing’). This is so very similar to the “Big Bang” theory of evolution as proposed by Science. Yogic teaching has been that we take birth through what is known as pranashakti or life force which, descends down the medulla and the cerebro spinal axis to finally come and rest at the base of the spine or the muladhar (Coccygeal) chakra where it lies dormant. As this creative force descends down it gets transformed into energy centres or “chakras” which are responsible for the physiological functioning of the organs they are in proximity with as well as the endocrine functions of those physiological structures and our various emotions or feelings. They also represent the Elements or Tattvas as mentioned above. Pranashakti enters through the Sahasrar Chakra at the very top of the head, travels down to the Agya Chakra, in between the two eyes at the forehead (which is actually a command centre for the entire human structure). This is followed by the Vishudhi Chakra in the throat and representative of the akash tattva, below which is the heart chakra associated with the Air or Vayu element. The Lumbar chakra is associated with the Fire Element while the Svadisthan (Sacral) chakra represents Water and the Muladhar, Earth. We, therefore, see that even though the kundalini is lying dormant, it is not inert, however, since it is controlling so many functions in the body through thousands of nadis. (Kindly access for more details about the chakras) Each of these chakras also has a presiding deity. For example, Lord Ganesha is the guardian of the coccygeal chakra, Lord Vishnu of the Sacral, Lord Shiva of the Manipur or lumbar chakra….. Each of these chakras also have their own mantras which “energise” the chakra. Opposing forms of energy must unite in order for the whole to form. So also, the kundalini, being part of the Spirit must move up the spine to unite with Consciousness to become One again. Unfortunately, the kundalini, after giving birth to us, lies dormant at the base of the spine, the muladhar chakra. It remains asleep because so much of our energy is expended and drained out owing to our preoccupation with our deep seated habits based on fear and insecurity. The kundalini shakti is actually a manifestation of the feminine force in the universe and is not just the nurturing and receptive aspect of the feminine. This has been so very beautifully brought forward by Sri Yoganand Paramhans in “God speaks to Arjun”. The five energy centres in man are also symbolised by the five Pandavas. The Muladhar, the Earth element is represented by Nakul, the Swadisthan or Water element by Sahadeva, the Fire element or Manipur by Arjun, Anahat or Air Element by Bhima, while Yudhisthir represents the Akash Element or Vishudhi chakra. Draupadi represents the kundalini. Draupadi is the daughter of Drupada, symbolic of extreme dispassion and represents the spiritual power or feeling of kundalini. When the kundalini is lifted upward it becomes “wedded “to the five pandavas and gives rise to five sons which are the five manifestations of the opened spinal centres, the various lights and sounds characteristic of each centre. “ Kundalini Awakening: According to yogis Kundalini awakening is, therefore, the first and most important step towards spiritual progress. In other words, this is the first step towards self realization. Only when one has been able to draw one’s attention away from one’s material surroundings and desires that attention will turn inwards. Kundalini awakening has often been confused with the feeling of so called “bliss” during the union of the male and female but this is momentary and the true purpose is to get this energy chanelled up through the spinal centres. Sri Aurobindo, has introduced the concept that the awakening kundalini power is both a descending as well as an ascending one. “The descending current is the energy from above coming down to touch the sleeping power in the lowest nerve centre at the bottom of the spine; the ascending current is the release of the energy going up from the awakened kundalini”. He feels that the chakras cannot be “willed” to open but open by themselves by the descent of the force. He agrees that they do open from below upwards in accordance with the tantric discipline but his concept is that they open from up downwards. “The ascension and descent of the force in this yoga accomplishes itself in its own way without any necessary reproduction of the details laid down in the tantric books”. What does kundalini awakening mean? The kundalini is said to be sleeping when one has wordly aspirations or desires, but when the same energy is going God ward or towards kutastha or the third eye, when we have an intense yearning or longing for God, then the kundalini is said to be rising or being awake. This does not mean that at one moment it is asleep and at another moment, awake. As the individual governs himself with more and more wisdom, the energy starts flowing upwards with greater and greater intensity and as he intensifies his sadhana he redirects his energy more and more God-ward and starts having divine experiences in meditation which further help in his sadhana. Slowly greater energy is freed from the mayic hold and ascends God-ward. It is, therefore more important to understand that mere awakening the kundalini is not important since the energy will fall back again due to the gravitational pull of one’s desires…..what is important is an intense yearning for God which will keep the energy sustained and prevent it from falling down again. There are so many methods which have been described to “awaken” the kundalini…we keep hearing of new yogic techniques for the same, but merely raising the kundalini is of less importance…the kundalini which has risen and its remaining in that state is of the greatest importance. There is an erroneous impression among most people that they can awaken their kundalinis themselves by various methods which have been described and are being practiced. Trying to awaken our kundalinis by ourselves should never be practiced! By doing so, one may generate tremendous energy…..resulting in serious medical problems since the body has not been conditioned to withstand this massive flow of energy. It should only be done under guidance from someone who has the experience. Many yoga teachers also have stressed that one should not attempt to raise the kundalini by meditating on individual chakras as it could be dangerous, perhaps not even correct to do so. Sant Kabir, Guru Nanak, my Guruji and some other God realized Gurus, etc consider the “hearing” of the Shabd being of paramount importance for the opening of the “third eye” rather than having to do anything with the kundalini since they feel that a proper union can only take place after one has been able to bring one’s consciousness to the area between the two eyebrows, after which the atma then can travel up after some more stages. This can happen only through guidance from a god realized guru. They feel that anything to do with the chakras and the kundalini is basically concerned with the human body and its physiological functioning. This is because when you are meditating on any of the chakras(the five lower ones) you are actually meditating on the deity controlling that particular chakra and you would probably hear the sound related to that chakra and perhaps gain some powers(ridhis and sidhis) because of the deity. These powers are actually “by products” which are not of much consequence to a real Sadhak, seeking union. Spiritual advancement actually means going beyond all this so that one can attain union with the Parmatama beyond Creation and this advancement occurs only when one has an open third eye so that one can journey beyond. The purpose of human life is to finally go back to our true abode which is with the Supreme Being. In other words, reaching a stage of ‘turia avastha’ or enlightenment, is the real thing. Intuitively, I feel that connecting to shabda,(Aum, Amen, Ameen, the Word…) through meditation as taught by a fully realized guru is by far the best route, perhaps the only route to enlightenment and that whatever other route or routes there are ultimately get connected to shabda somewhere along the line. It is not difficult to see that there are examples of many, who, may perhaps have never practiced yoga but have “united” with the Supreme Spirit! Practicing all the eight limbs of yoga are still very important, though, since in a way one is actually “living” the “ten commandments”(Yam/Niyam), managing to remain physically and mentally healthy(Asanas and Pranayam) and at the same time progressing spiritually by meditation, but the method of meditation should be such that it leads to the opening of the “third eye’, essential for further spiritual ascent and happens through listening or appreciating the shabda. Sri Aurobindo feels that “when the soul is ready we are prompted to meditate” The opening of the “Third Eye’ has two manifestations, one that of being able to hear all the subtle sounds and also seeing various types of visions. This is called “surt’. Hearing subtle sounds is by far the commoner of the two while seeing visions happens due to Divine grace and is a simply wonderful experience which cannot be described! When the third eye opens, one’s atma travels higher to go beyond the Sahasrar dal kamal or the “tenth’ door and it is then that actual “sant mat” commences. This means that one can then venture into other realms at will. When this happens one can travel in the astral and the causal realms depending upon one’s spiritual progress. Yogis and Budhists believe that our connection is through what is called the “Antahkaran’ or the “silver chord” which is attached to our Sahasrar chakra. This chord remains intact as long as the atma inhabits the physical body but gets snapped at the time of physical death. During astral travel, this chord remains connected with the body. During one’s sojourn in the astral, one may have wonderful experiences, of happiness and bliss. The visions of the Divine, other “mukta“ atmas, god realized souls etc become more and more frequent, and ultimately a stage may come when one merges with divinity with the breaking down of one’s physical, astral and causal bodies to unite with Him and become One or Whole! All along this beautiful journey, one’s guru is always there, in front, like a beacon of light, guiding one along, meandering through the indescribable but serene and luminous world inducing feelings of profound happiness and bliss. The guru, the Almighty and the self all merge in that soothing divine light! The final stage of scintillating brilliance is supposed to be so beautiful and blissful that even Sant Kabir has not been able to describe it fully! Labels: Kundalini Naam Shabda Sources:“Kundalini in the Physical World” Mary Scott, ‘Radical Healing” Rodolph Ballentine MD, “God Talks To Arjun, The Bhagwat Gita’ Sri Paramhans Yogananda

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How Does the Guru appear and contribute to spiritual evolution?

We are always told that when the student is ready, the guru appears. The importance of the guru has been extolled in our Scriptures since time immemorial, but do we not wonder as to where does he come from and how does he appear? We may also wonder as to how he helps one evolve spiritually. Here the discussion is about a true guru, one who has achieved God realization, and is, therefore, fit to guide his student to Self Realization. To the best of my knowledge, all realized souls, sages, enlightened beings had to have a guru for their spiritual evolution. Even in the case of Jesus Christ…his guru was John the Baptist (they had a similar relationship in an earlier life as well, as Elijah and Elisha). A somewhat similar relationship existed between Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Vivekananda. A guru/disciple relationship does not end in one life but may carry on through repeated births till a complete liberation of the disciple is reached. Arjun too, was a great sage in his previous life and when Krishna incarnated, Arjun did too as his companion (actually as Lord Krishna’s cousin) “Genesis” of a true guru: A true Guru is one who has lived as the atman of the disciple or student, and therefore, knows the student through repeated births. To quote Dr Rick Levy(personal communication) “When the God made you as Atman, the first being of you was the Guru which then branched out into becoming you like the pod of the flower opens into becoming so many individual petals. When you come back you encounter your particular Guru who became you first before you became you. Hence, the one and only guru for each of us….the illumined soul can see these things and whom is meant for whom.” This explains how the Guru appears when the student is “ready”. There are some very interesting situations as to how this happens. A gentleman by the name of Mr Dickinson, while being pushed into a pond, when he was small and playing with his friends, was about to drown when he had a vision of a man “with tranquil eyes and a reassuring smile” and was saved. A few years later, he saw the same man he had seen in vision…he turned out be Swami Vivekananda, (when Swamiji had gone to America). On meeting him he was told “I am not your guru”…”your teacher will come later. He will give you a silver cup”. Many years later, Paramhans Yogananda presented Mr Dickinson with a silver cup as he was Mr Dickinson’s guru! There are many such examples. Very often, one sees a vision of the Guru while sleeping….which is one of the ways the guru beckons you……symbolically asking you to wake up from your “sleep”! Most often, a number of ‘chance” meetings occur with various people, or ‘chance’ situations arise or one reads or hears something which takes one a step further, then another, followed by another similar situation till one finally meets the guru. Who knows, we may be acting as catalysts for others! The guru may make subtle contact with us …and we may not even realize it……as happened in my case…when he came to see me…I did not have the foggiest idea why he had come into my life! It took me about three years before i met him again…..Yes, i am fortunate that i have the blessings of a true guru who came from out of the blue… and changed my life completely. When God sees someone who seeks Him, He causes “chance” contact with, perhaps, a good book or a spiritual teacher. If the seeker is not satisfied with the meager information he gets from books etc, and his eagerness to find Him is really deep, God sends him someone who knows God and is empowered to lead the seeker to enlightenment. Gurus ordained by God can feel the spiritual vibrations of their disciples and can call them mentally….this mental call is heeded and the disciple comes in contact with the guru. This is the reason why when great masters incarnate, they bring with them select disciples from earlier incarnations…..who later congregate. What happens after we have met our Guru? Once contact has been established, the guru “initiates’ the student…..This initiation is also called “diksha’ but is the same as ‘baptism” in the West or ‘Naam daan” in some other parts of India. True initiation is baptism by Spirit which is threefold. First, the guru sees the Divine light himself, which is then sent into the initiate…which may not be obvious to the devotee. This light remains with the initiate for a little while with its full vibratory power in order to affect a change in him. The student, or devotee, has to make the effort to retain it. To make the Light his own, the student has to diligently and conscientiously meditate and follow his Guru’s guidance to progress in his sadhana. The path to Him becomes easier now but constant guidance from the Guru needs to continue…..if the student is on the right track he/she may not understand the significance of the beautiful sounds/music/visions which may be heard/ seen, if fortunate. The implications of these and certain other occurrences may not be very clear unless and until the student is guided properly. It is said that spiritual progress requires 25% of the disciple’s own efforts, 25% through the blessings of the Guru and the remaining 50% is the grace of God (Sri Paramhans Yoganand). It is, therefore, clear that both the devotee’s efforts as well as the Guru’s blessings are equally necessary. In the case of a disciple (a disciple is one who accepts the master completely, unlike the student, who may follow the master superficially depending upon his inclination), the very first contact with the guru awakens memories of their everlasting bonding. This feeling of oneness is through an exchange of magnetic vibrations between the two and, as mentioned above, Gurus ordained by God can feel the spiritual vibrations of their disciples. How does a guru become a Guru? There are two ways by which this happens. First, and the more important one, is when the guru is ordained to serve and save others by a real guru. This is what happens most commonly, as in the case of Jesus Christ…..he was baptized by Spirit by John the Baptist. When the Divine Light passes through the initiate, “it cauterizes present bad habits and past karmic seeds lodged in the brain” (Yoganand Paramhans). This is why it is said that if the realized Guru bestows the student by ‘Naam Daan’, the student’s past karmas are washed off…he has a clean slate so to speak. If he or she follows the path as ordained by his/her Guru and acts according to his free will, merger with the Almighty can become a reality. The Guru, and also a Realized soul have the power to take over the karmas of their students or others. Secondly, one must hear the voice of God asking him to redeem others. Jesus, too, heard that voice inside him but just to set an example he sought baptism by John. Unfortunately, Most self appointed gurus often mistake God’s voice to the voice of their imaginative ego in their subconscious mind! How does the Guru take the student forward? Once the student has been initiated, the guru teaches him his method of meditation, which basically consists of trying to visualize the guru’s “swaroop” at the site of the “third eye”(deep to and in the centre of the forehead)…along with mental chanting of a mantra given by the guru……..the disciple/student needs to concentrate on his guru’s ‘swaroop” and just follow him up wherever he may lead. It is important for the initiate to surrender to his guru and have faith in him…he must not lose confidence in him. A true guru leads by example and not by mere rhetoric….he does not encourage “blind’ following but encourages questions from his student as well as discussions. Sycophancy is certainly not what a true guru encourages. This way the initiate gradually progresses on the path. Every word the true guru utters is full of wisdom…..very often the meanings may not really sink in but as the student advances, more and more teachings and words start making sense. Sometimes it so happens that what the guru says, may be completely at variance to what one believes or ‘thinks’ one knows. This is because the guru speaks the truth, based on his intuition which is the “voice of the Spirit”….we know that spirit is part of God…who is perfect therefore intuitive wisdom is always superior to what one’s intellect tells us. It is, therefore, imperative, that the student’s “cup” be empty…..whatever so called “knowledge” he has, has no real meaning…. the guru tries to inculcate wisdom as opposed to mere knowledge, which is essentially just “information’ and has no practical significance on the spiritual path. Since a lot of the things which happen would be so new and very different from what the student would have imagined, he may get confused, the guru, therefore, guides him at every step by clarifying the doubts in the initiate’s mind. It is, indeed, a fact that guidance is required at every step! In advanced stages the “sadhak” may see visions and often the guru’s image merging with his, proving that his guru and he are one! A true guru has only one aim…that of taking the student/disciple onwards toward union with God…this is his purpose in life. He acts as a bridge since he actually has one part of him in God communion and the other firmly planted on earth! He should not be confused with so called self proclaimed “gurus” who have other intentions. One of the surest signs of a true guru is that he can awaken the “aum’ shabd in the devotee (also known as ‘Anhad shabd”, “Amen”, ‘Holy ghost”, Ameen’ etc) which a ”guru’ who himself is not evolved enough, will not be able to. It is this “inner music’ perpetually flowing through the ether, contact with which is responsible for spiritual evolution. We should beware of those “gurus” who preach from the scriptures but not practice what they preach! Apart from having a magnetic personality (which leave any one coming in contact with him full of positivity), a God realized guru is always “giving” but never asking anything from the student except devotion to God. What the guru “gives’ is often not comprehended, since it is not material but in the form of blessings, grace…and divine cosmic light which the guru imbibes from Him and transfers on to the student. An advanced devotee can often feel or “see” this transfer. Realized Masters like Christ, Ramkrishna, Pramahans Yogananda, Vivekananda, Guru Nanak, Sant Kabeer,and many other Prophets are even today sending forth their spiritual vibrations to humanity in the form of this Divine Light but very few can appreciate it. It is not necessary that the sadhak has to be in his guru’s company to receive this…..he could be in any part of the world but spiritually connected to him. It is even possible the guru may not even have a physical form….he may have discarded his physical body earlier but guides, nevertheless, through intuition and vibrations! One may wonder as to whether such Realized gurus exist in this day and age? They most certainly do…..but since they do not believe in promoting themselves they are overshadowed by lesser, self proclaimed ones who believe in the number of followers they have. It is important to realize that the path to God realization is travelled alone….”Ekla Chalo re…” and not in multitudes! It is a path travelled with the guru as a beloved leader, friend or ‘Sakha”, whose love knows no bounds for a true disciple! This is the reason why a Realized guru is very choosy about those he initiates…everyone who comes to him may not be blessed by his diksha….he first ensures that the person deserves the initiation. This is also because there is just one true guru for a sadhak….everyone may not be accepted by the same guru since, as mentioned earlier one’s specific guru has had a connection with one in the past…and the true guru knows with whom he has had an earlier connection. In the end I would like to point out that often many initiates who have been blessed by their guru by diksha, become complacent due to the mistaken belief that they have their Guru’s blessings and, which they feel is enough of an achievement….do not work towards their evolution and go back to their previous bad habits! So often, many seek ‘Naam Daan” in order to show others that they are on the path! This is strongly discouraged…spirituality is not about showing off or falling prey to “spiritual ego”….it is the path to inner realization and union with God where physical ego, pride, “one upmanship“, “superior-inferior’ feelings have no meaning…in His eyes all are equal, bound by an invisible cord of Divine Love! Let us pray to Him to send us a true guru who guides us to the place where we may bask in the warmth of Divine Love….peace….happiness and bliss. Let us also remember that just like Jesus Christ said “I and my Father are one’ …..i and my guru are one too! Source: “The Second Coming of Christ” by Paramhans Yogananda in addition to my own perception.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Is Perception the key to Happiness?

My Guruji once told us a very nice story: There was a man who had a fairly large family and all of them lived in a very small room. He went to a sage who asked him what was making him so unhappy. The man told him that they had just a small room in which his entire family slept and he was finding it difficult to find peace as sleep was never forthcoming….what should he do? The sage smiled and said that his problem would be solved if he would, henceforth, keep his camel also inside the room where slept with the family. The poor man wondered as to how this could help but thought since the sage was an enlightened one, perhaps there was something to it…..he, therefore tied the camel inside his room and tried to sleep, but the night was miserable, since whenever the camel shook or turned its neck, the bell (placed around its neck) would jingle and make it impossible for them to sleep. The following morning he went to the wise one again , who seemed very amused by his predicament and asked him to keep his dog, in addition to the camel, inside when he went to sleep. The poor man was shocked but did not question the wise one and did as he was told. Needless to say, the whole night the entire family kept tossing and turning…what with the dog barking at the camel and the bell around the camel’s neck adding to the din. No one could sleep a wink and the next morning, the man went to the sage again and told him his story. The wise man laughed and told him reassuringly, ‘don’t worry, your problem will be solved” and asked him to simply remove both the camel as well as the dog from the room, to tie them outside and to sleep without them. That night the poor man had a very peaceful sleep and looked ever so happy when he met the sage next morning and thanked him profusely for having solved his problem Most of the times we are unhappy because of our perceptions…can we not try to find a better way of looking at things? Every situation presents us with two sets of perspectives… which is its negative aspect (which makes us unhappy if we dwell on it) while the other one can make us forget our predicament if we so desire. To give you an example…we set out to do something but fail in our endeavour. We can look at it from two viewpoints…one that we failed and the other that we have learned something from the incident and are better informed and better prepared for the next time. It is very wisely said “Failure is the stepping stone to success”. We know how many times Thomas Edison had failed before he finally succeeded. Every failure gives us a tremendous learning experience. Our thoughts play a very important role in keeping us happy. It is said that negative thoughts and feelings attract stressful events and troublesome people while positive thoughts and feelings, as well as harmonius ones attract joy, happiness, love and success. The “half full glass” is also a case in point. Like energy attracts like. We also know that matter is made of energy and energy follows thought. It is this energy which makes us do things ….which we do according to what we think. Our thoughts are very powerful indeed as they decide our karma. Our perception of a so called “problem” is important. Stress affects us depending as how we “see” the particular situation… stress itself is not harmful, as it has been created by God to help us progress in life. “Your stress level is determined by what you think (your beliefs and expectations), not by the stressor itself…. (Dr Rick Levy….The Happiness Sutra). Hans Selye was the first researcher to prove this. If a so called problem is perceived as a challenge, it is productive as it helps in one’s progress but if it is not seen as such, it becomes distressful, and , therefore, a source of unhappiness, harm and ultimate dis-ease culminating in an illness. The story as mentioned above brings out another important thing… proves that the sage was, indeed, very wise….but what had made him so? He was enlightened so could “see” things which the ordinary unenlightened one could not. An enlightened being is “happy without a reason”, to quote the Dalai Lama. As one ascends on one’s spiritual journey, one gradually becomes happier and happier as one becomes wiser and wiser and more in tune with everything around. At the same time one sees everything in its proper perspective and one’s perception about things also changes. A truly enlightened being, merged in Spirit is completely enveloped in Divine Love and is in complete bliss…in fact he becomes bliss, the ultimate stage of happiness. Is it not, therefore, important to change our perception about things from negative to positive by practicing spirituality, and gain happiness in the process?

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Is Maya Good or Bad?'

The word “Maya” is so intriguing, mysterious, mystical…we keep hearing, talking and discussing about it and have probably formed the opinion that it is something which is very negative. Simply put, it is basically a disillusion which makes us forget our main aim or objective temporarily. The main aim of life is to merge with Him, but Maya produces obstacles and diversions in our path to prevent us from achieving our goal. There are so many examples in our daily life. Very often, while going for some work, we meet a friend, forget all about what we had gone out for, because of the animated conversation with the friend, and come back without having done our job…..this is Maya at work. Similarly, while sitting down to meditate, Maya makes our mind wander…so many times it creates misleading images, situations, feelings etc which are very confusing…all subtle methods to prevent us from achieving merger with Him. As the story goes, Narada was going to fetch water for Lord Vishnu to drink from a house in a near- by village but on the way he met a beautiful girl, Shrimati, bewitched by her beauty, he forgot all about the water, married her, and settled down with her for twelve years as a householder till his illusion got shattered and he finally returned to Lord Vishnu again. …as you can see, Maya spares no one! Genesis: Maya has been known not only by our seers and ancient sages, but finds mention in the Old Testament as well. The Old Testament prophets called it ‘Satan” (Hebrew “the adversary”) while the Greek Testament uses the word “diabolos’, or the devil. It basically produces a multiplicity of forms to hide the ONE Reality. Jesus Christ has said “The devil was a murderer or liar from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him…” (John 8:44). Our sages also tell us that it was created from Brahma, hence being present from the “beginning”. According to our Vedic scriptures, the physical world operates under one fundamental law and that law is Maya. The Vedas also point out that God is the only reality and all of creation or separate existence is Maya or illusion. In lay terms ‘Maya” is “anything which is unreal and yet fascinates the mind as the real”, like a mirage in the desert. In the In other words Maya is life itself …therefore, there is no life without Maya! Actually, science too cannot exist without it. Newton’s Third Law of Motion is a law of Maya…”To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. In practical terms, this translates into the pair of opposites with which we are so familiar…ebb and flow, rise and fall, day and night, good and evil, birth and death etc. Maya and its purpose: All the above points mentioned would have us believe that Maya is a negative thing, and prevents us from reaching Divinity…but is there anything in our Lord’s creation which does not serve a purpose? We wonder as to what is His purpose in creating Maya. As we are aware, the ultimate purpose of our life is to realize the truth by merging with Him, and in this Nature or Prakriti plays a very important role through Maya. Situations are created whereby we experience pleasure through our senses…feelings of happiness, joy etc, but very soon all these end and are followed by sorrow or misery arising out of this happiness. Sometimes it may be the other way round. Nature makes us realize that all pleasure, pain, happiness and misery are temporary…and real happiness lies elsewhere. Nature achieves this through Maya. Maya, has, therefore, been described as either “Mohini’ Maya or ‘Daivi” Maya, which are actually two sides of the same coin. Till such time the truth has not dawned on us and we are in a stage of delusion, it is Mohini Maya which is at work. Nature, then goes into the process of teaching us by producing just the opposite, trying to make us realize in the process, that all sense dictated processes are short lived and frivolous and that we should strive for permanent happiness…nay bliss…by becoming one with Him. Maya, in its own way tells us that everything in this Universe is changeable, (“anitya”)…. it is only Brahma, which is “nitya’ or unchangeable. Maya urges us to try to realize that unchangeable One. Maya, therefore, is a great teacher as it tries to take us from the unreal to the real. Since Brahma is surrounded by Maya, we first need to penetrate its veils before reaching Brahma….therefore, in order to arrive at the truth, whatever is untrue is given to us to be discarded one by one so that ultimately what remains is nothing but the truth! God wants us to look beyond what we see to find Him.If we do not look beyond what is obvious, what is left is nothing but Maya! Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we should always ask ourselves the question as to what is the divine will behind that situation. In this respect Maya is actually a positive thing as it helps us to get closer and closer to God if the situation, event, happening is interpreted correctly. Sri Ramkrishna Paramhans has said “Plentitudes and blessings such as Brahmajnana and the bliss of Brahma come to us mortals because of the gracious mediation of Mahamaya….” How do we overcome Mohini Maya? In order to fully understand what Maya is teaching us and to rise above the dualities of life, we need to meditate, connect with the Shabd, or Aum, bring our consciousness upto the third eye and sail “into omnipresence”. In other words, achieve Nirbikalpa Samadhi. Ezekiel said “Afterwards he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory” (Ezekiel 43:1-2 Bible) (here “east” signifies the divine eye in the forehead, “the noise of many waters” means hearing the Word, Aum and the vibrations of light constitute the sole reality of creation) “Om Asto Ma Sadgamaya”…lead us from “Asatya” (untruth… Maya)….to ‘Satya’ (truth)…. “Om Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya”….lead us from darkness (Maya)… to Light… Source: “Autobiography of a Yogi” and “God Talks With Arjun” by Sri Paramhans Yoganand, “The Spiritual Approach to life’ by Sri Bimal Mohanty.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"How Does God Talk to Us"?

It is said that we are made in the image of God, which translates into the fact that He resides inside us.…if that is so, how does He actually communicate with us? God is always in communion with us…unfortunately most of us are not aware of this since our minds are so preoccupied with billions of things. This “noise” prevents us from appreciating His call to come Home. To quote the Christian Bible “Thou didst love me always, but I heard Thee not”. God’s voice is silence, which can only be heard when our restless thoughts cease. When the devotee is mentally silent, God’s silence ceases. There are, of course instances of God appearing as visions to advanced devotees and talking to them directly or through the lips of a deity but this certainly is not a common occurrence. The “Akashvaris” as described in our scriptures are yet another form of communication. Our soul is essentially a “ray of the Spirit” or a reflection of the Spirit. One, therefore, needs to connect to one’s soul in order to perceive Him… and also for Him to communicate with us. Both the soul as well as the spirit manifest as light, wisdom and sound and this happens through the development of our intuition. He, therefore, communicates to us through our intuition. Through our intuition, He ‘plants” the truth in our minds, which is “nothing but the truth” When one develops deep intuition, one sees the soul as an amazing mystical light. Sri Yoganand Paramhans has said “If you saw God right now you would see Him as one mass of light scintillating over the whole Universe”. Others perceive the soul as an audible vibration of Aum (Shabd, Naam, Amen etc). Some feel the soul as a ray of Cosmic Intelligence manifesting as Wisdom. What is Intuition? It is the father of reason and bridges the gap between intellectual knowledge of the soul and the actual realization of the divine Self. It has also been called our “Sixth Sense” and is like a “hunch” (which most of us have experienced some time or the other). It has also been described as “a deep, immediate, and accurate sense of knowing something that we could not necessarily know using simple logic”(Dr Rick Levy, “The Happiness Sutra”).Very often we get strong inner feelings, premonitions or “prophetic” dreams…. .. This type of intuition is present in all of us but, being rudimentary is not of much significance, hence these experiences have no great spiritual value. This, the crudest form of intuition is that of the Annamaya kosha or food sheath and is concerned with matter only. It is only when our intuition becomes deep that it permits God’s thoughts, ideas, visions etc to percolate through to us. It, therefore, needs to be developed by regular meditation. The second form is that of the pranic energy and is the intuition of the Pranamaya kosha. In this form of intuition, one can hear subtle sounds, see lights, feel subtle sensations and even taste subtle flavours during meditation. This happens when one has been able to connect internally to the Shabd/Aum/Naam etc which make these experiences possible. The technique for this needs to be learned from a God realized Guru. The Intuition of the Manomaya Kosha, is the third type in which one has direct knowledge of the mind. In this form visions are seen and one is not conscious of the outside world (or very little) during meditation…depending on its depth. These visions may initially be of any type and not under one’s control but later, when one becomes adept these can be controlled. It is known scientifically that our mind comprises of a Conscious, Subconscious, Individual and Universal Superconscious levels. The type of thought associated with the conscious mind is analytical, which does not help in communicating with Him. The type of thought in the Subconscious mind is in the form of symbols or metaphors, while that of the Individual Superconscious mind, is through Intuition. Meditative thought is the route to access the Universal Superconscious mind. Meditation, therefore is the best method of God communion as through this all the levels of the mind can be accessed. Our mind has actually “birthed’ out of the Cosmic Mind (the Universal Superconscious Mind), which expresses itself as our soul in our individual superconscious mind. Our soul then expresses itself as our subconscious mind, which, finally is expressed as our conscious mind. This actually means that the Universal Superconscious Mind (God) has to pass through our individual superconscious mind (soul), then through our subconscious so that we become aware of it at the level of our conscious mind. It is obvious, then, that if our minds at the lower level (conscious level) are full of conflict, distress etc God’s thoughts are difficult to be perceived. The fourth form is that of Jnanamaya kosha or the intellect plane and associated with the understanding of truth which manifests as wisdom. Finally, the fifth form of Intuition is that of the Ananadmaya kosha associated with the direct knowledge of bliss. It is intuition through which our seers and sages communicated with God and “Vedas”, the ancient Scriptures came into being and are spoken as Shrutis….”That which has been heard”. It is through astral sight that the truths issuing forth from Aum may be perceived as luminous writings, which have been called the Akashic Records. The Bible too talks about intuition… “And as this is the will of Him that sent me that every one which seeth the son, and believeth on him may have everlasting life”(John 6:36-40). By the word “seeth”, Jesus means the perceptive power of intuition or feeling which can see, hear, smell, taste or touch without the help of the senses. Advanced meditators can “feel” His presence. Very often they can “see” advanced beings, spirits, and angels and can actually communicate with them through their power of intuition. So very often an advanced meditator gets a thought “planted’ in his mind during meditation…something for which he had been seeking an answer without actually having asked for it! This means that if we meditate deeply enough so as to reach beyond the Jnanamaya kosha to the bliss sheath during meditation, we have direct access to Him and can feel Him “talking” to us in thought form…language may not be necessary as He communicates to us directly and we perceive His counsel without actually vocalizing any words. One does not need to ask…one gets the solution without any sound being produced. Sri Yoganand Paramhans describes these experiences so beautifully…”According to the devotee’s spiritual inclination and degree of advancement, answers from the Infinite may manifest as spoken words or as unvocalized word-thoughts conveyed to the devotee, or through the soul’s intuition-pure knowing by realization or direct experience of truth-and through expression of cosmic consciousness , the devotee may receive enlightenment in the form of definite pronounced perceptions or feelings; or as visible or audible words or sounds materialized by the all-knowing intuitive power of the soul or by the divine fiat of the cosmic power of God” Most advanced meditators are so well tuned to Him through the Shabd flowing through the ether, that they remain “connected’ to Him not only during meditation but even when they are busy with their chores! They keep receiving His bounty in the form of the scintillating divine light…the beautiful inner music… and profound wisdom at all times! Ramkrishna has summed it up so well…”If you are fortunate enough to be born in human form, and do not find God, you have wasted your life”….let us try not to waste ours’! Sources: ‘God Talks to Arjun The Bhagwat Gita” and “The Second Coming of Christ by Sri Yoganand Paramhans , ‘The Happiness Sutra” written by Dr Rick Levy

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Mantra Meditation...Chakras...And Health"

We have all taken birth through cosmic energy or Pranashakti, which after giving birth to us lies dormant at the base of our spine, called the Muladhar Chakra where it is called Kundalini Shakti, and controls the functioning of our entire body through nadis. This pranashakti, as it descends to the spine, gives rise to seven subtle energy centres which are called Chakras. These chakras are junction points where matter, Energy (oorja) and consciousness (Chitta) come together in a very high concentration. Mantra meditation on the various chakras can give rise to tremendous health benefits if practiced correctly. In order to understand it one needs to comprehend the basics of the chakras. Characteristics of chakras: They are related to the five elements from which the entire universe is formed, namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. By virtue of their relationship with these elements, they bear typical characteristics of these elements. Each has a number of petals which have a specific significance Each chakra controls the functioning of an endocrine gland (which produce hormones) and specific parts of our body. Each chakra has a specific colour (the colours of the Rainbow VIBGYOR) and stores emotional memories, which is why we “feel” certain past memories in different parts of the body. Each chakra can be activated by a mantra specific for it. The mantra brings it into balance as a result of its vibration. Chakras also have a relationship with the Gunas of Prakriti, namely Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The Vishudhi and Agya Chakras are related to a Sattvic pravriti, concerned with purity and virtue, and the consciousness is centered at the Third Eye Centre. The Anahat Chakra is responsible for Rajas, which is characterized by passion, and wordly activities etc. The lower chakras, namely Manipur, Svadisthan and Muladhar are related to Tamas, characterized by inertia, arrogance and pride. Muladhar Chakra: “Mula” means root and “dhara” means vital part. Hence it is the foundation of all the other chakras. It is known as the first chakra, Root or the coccygeal chakra since it lies at the base of the spine. It is also called the Saturn Chakra. It is related to the Earth element, hence responsible for our foundation (just like Mother Earth is responsible for the foundation of the entire planet), grounding, stability, balance, and structure as it is responsible for our skeleton, blood production, hair skin, etc. It is related to our sense of smell and to Apana Prana, therefore, responsible for elimination of wastes from our body. Predominance of this chakra makes us hard working, determined, and also lead to attachment with our surroundings, people etc. This chakra has four petals which denote the four psychic functions, namely Mind (Manas), Intellect (Budhi), Consciousness (Chitta), and Ego (Ahankar) which originate here. It is related to the colour Red which signifies Shakti, symbolizing awakening of sleeping consciousness to alert consciousness. The Mantra for this chakra is “LAM”…..Laaaaammm When this chakra is out of balance it makes us lazy, stubborn, and cynical while its deficiency leads to weakness, infections like flu, common cold and to attachment to the world around us. The most characteristic negative feature of this chakra is a sense of profound fear, which is related to annihilation of the self or the human race. This chakra is, therefore, related to our survival instincts. Svadisthan Chakra: ‘Sva’ means vital force and “dhisthana” means abode…hence “seat of the soul” It is also called the Sacral Chakra as well as the Jupiter Chakra and is related to the Water element and supposed to be the seat of the subconscious mind. It has six petals, which represent our negative qualities like Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mad and Matsya, all of which need to be overcome. This chakra is related to the fluid elements in our body (because of its proximity to the water element) like blood, urine and semen and also to the reproductive system and the organs associated with it namely, uterus, ovaries etc. The functioning of the urinary bladder and prostate are also controlled by it. The Sacral chakra has a very strong relationship with our emotions, receptiveness and intuition, hence imbalance in this chakra leads to depression and misery. Water is a symbol of hidden danger and immense power when out of control leading to feelings of lust and features of Tamasic acts. It is responsible to the sense of taste and Vyana Prana (Circulation). Deficiency in this chakra leads to menstrual problems, uterine fibroids, prostatic dysfunction, cancers of the urogenital tract etc. The colour it is associated with is Orange, symbolic of the rising Sun indicating rising consciousness. The mantra associated with this chakra is “VAM”…Vaaaaammm Muladhar and Svadisthan Chakras together constitute The Dosha of Kapha as described in Ayurveda, which is characterized by a heavy build, fine skin, beautiful eyes, a fairly stable personality, a graceful walk and a happy temperament. The negative qualities of this dosha, when out of balance are tendency to the development of Obesity, weight gain, laziness etc. Manipur Chakra : The other names for this chakra are Lumbar and Solar plexus chakra as well as the Mars Chakra and is related to the element Agni. It has ten petals, symbolic of the five pranas (Prana Udyana Samana Vyana Apana) of which Samana Prana predominates and also the five Up pranas namely Nag (Burping), Kurma ( Blinking), Devadutta (Yawning), KriKala(Sneezing) and Dhananjaya or movement of heart valves. Manipur chakra responsible for digestion absorption and assimilation. Here digestion indicates digestion of not only of the food we eat but also our thoughts. It also takes care of the functioning of the liver, pancreas and stomach as well as the immune system. It is associated with the sense of sight. When imbalanced it leads to anger, destructive qualities restlessness and turbulence, manifesting as a Type A personality (characterized by anger, hostility, aggression etc). Imbalance also aggravates gastro intestinal, liver, pancreas, stomach problems as well as Diabetes Mellitus. Often, when one is tense or worried one feels a tightness in the stomach area. Manipur chakra is associated with the colour Yellow and its Mantra is “RAM”….Raaaaammmm” The colour yellow is associated with the neuromuscular system. Manipur chakra is responsible for the ‘Pitta” body type of ayurveda, an imbalance of which leads to heart burn, peptic ulcers and heart disease also (due to anger) Pitta body types are farsighted, have a sharp intellect, often very hungry, ambitious and are over achievers. Imbalance of these lower centres ie Manipur, Svadisthan and Muladhar lead to Tamasic tendencies. Anahat Chakra: Also called the Heart Chakra as well as the Venus Centre and is related to the element Air or Vayu and is the seat of Naad or Anhad shabd which means “Unstruck” sound and has twelve petals which indicate Bliss (ananda), peace, harmony, love, purity, unity, understanding, empathy, clarity, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. It is responsible for our feelings and, therefore, to the sense of Touch. Anahat Chakra is related to Prana and responsible for the functioning of the heart, lungs, thymus and the immune system. Those who have a well balanced anahat chakra are sociable, forgiving, full of love and are fast thinkers. When out of balance, it leads to loneliness, depression, greed (Lobha) avarice, hoarding possessions etc. Diseases like heart disease, lung problems, also occur. The colour it is associated with is Green which indicates a balance of mind body and spirit. Its Mantra is “YAM’…Yaaaaammmmm This chakra, as mentioned above is related to a Rajasic tendency, which means that when in contact with people of Sattvic temperament, it can progress to Sattva but if in contact with Tamasic people, it can regress to Tamasic habits. Vishudhi Chakra: It is also called Throat Chakra. Another name for this is the Mercury Chakra and is related to the element Akash or Space and has 16 petals which are symbolic of our sixteen potential qualities as well as the 16 vowels of the Sanskrit language. It is concerned with the functioning of the Thyroid and Parathyroid glands, larynx, vocal cords rational thinking, intelligence and communication by virtue of its relationship with the sense of Sound and hearing sounds of the Universe. When out of balance it leads to self centredness, ego (Ahamkar) and feelings of “I, me, Mine ” and diseases of the larynx, like laryngitis, laryngeal disorders, thyroid problems etc. One often feels a sense of tightness or constriction in the throat when this is imbalanced or when one cannot ‘speak up” The Vishudhi Chakra is associated with the colour blue (Aasmani) and the Mantra “HAM”…Haaaaammmm Both Akash and Vayu together constitute the Vatta Body type which is characterized with movement and people of this type are usually thin, very intelligent, creative, good at grasping things(but forget very easily too)!When out of balance they are nervous , anxious, may have premenstrual problems, Hypertension, and irregular heart beat. Agya Chakra: It has various names like Ajna Chakra, Command Centre, Third Eye Centre, the Sun-Moon Chakra etc and is the centre for clarity, wisdom, insight and is the boundary between human and divine consciousness. It is also the meeting point of the Ida, Pingala and Sushumana Nadis. Agya chakra is related to the Mind element and has two petals symbolic of the presence of the Atma (Self) and Parmatama (God). Its qualities are Sat (Truth), Chitta (Consciousness), Ananada (Bliss), Ekta (Unity), and Shunyata (Emptyness) and is related to the Mind as it controls the functioning of the Manomaya Kosha (Mind Sheath) and the Vijnanmaya Kosha (Intelligence sheath) and related to intuition, clairvoyance, awareness, insight etc. When out of balance due to stress , physical trauma etc it can lead to headaches, Migraine etc. Its colour is Indigo (neel) and Mantra is SHAM”…Shaaaammmmm Lifting your eyebrows repeatedly activates this chakra. The Vishudhi and Agya chakras, as mentioned above are related to a Sattvic temperament. Sahasrar Chakra: It is also called the Crown Chakra, is situated about four fingers above the top of the head and has a thousand petals which face downward. Its awakening means revelation of Divine splendor and is, therefore, beyond, space and time. It is related to the colour violet (Baigani) and to the Mantra “AUM”….Ohhhhhhmmmmm If one remembers the pneumonic VIBGYOR it is easy to remember the colour of the chakras. Starting from the top, V stands for Violet (Sahasrar), I is for Indigo (Agya Chakra), B is for Blue (Vishudhi Chakra), G is for Green related to the Anahat Chakra, Y stands for Yellow ( Manipur Chakra), O is for Orange ( Svadisthan Chakra) and R stands for Red related to the Muladhar Chakra. Chakra Meditation: Sit with your spine straight (as we sit for Pranayam) though any comfortable position can be adopted but the head and spine must remain straight (legs hanging down if sitting on a chair), eyes gently closed, and in ‘Gyan Mudra” For all the chakras, take a deep breath and concentrate on the respective chakra and its colour, chant the appropriate chakra while exhaling. One needs to do this frequently during the day for proper relief. Method: Take a deep breath and while exhaling concentrate on the Muladhar chakra at the base of the spine and the colour red, chant Laaaaammmmmm (Just like we chant Aum, loudly at first, then a little softly, stressing on the Mmmmmm part). While doing this tuck your stomach in. On doing this you can balance the red colour in your body as well bringing about an improvement in your feelings of fear, insecurity, and problems related to excretion and elimination. While inhaling, one can visualize energy in the form of white light (prakash) entering the muladhar chakra from the earth. With exhalation, it is a good idea to visualize the colour red traversing your body and entering into your aura. Similarly chant Vaaaammmm for the Svadisthan chakra, concentrating on this chakra on your lower spine a little higher than the Muladhar chakra and the colour orange. This way you can balance your Orange colour, and help improve sexual problems, or problems related to menstruation, endometriosis, ovaries, uterus, prostate and urinary bladder. In this case also you can visualize energy or white light entering into your Svadisthan chakra from the earth through your legs and orange colour circulating in your body and going out into your aura during exhalation. For the Manipur chakra, concentrate on this chakra on your spine just behind the umbilicus and the colour yellow. Chant the mantra Raaaaammmm. By meditating on this chakra, control over anger, stress as well as stomach problems can be improved. Again, visualize white light entering this chakra from the earth during inhalation and the colour yellow flowing through your body and into the aura during exhalation. Do the same for the heart chakra concentrating on the heart chakra( situated behind your heart on the spine at the back) and Green colour for problems of loneliness, depression, grief, heart or lung problems etc. chanting the appropriate ,mantra, Yaaaammmmm ….during inhalation, visualize white light entering this chakra from the front and green colour circulating through your body and going out during exhalation. For the Vishudhi Chakra, concentrate on the spine behind the throat and the colour blue (Asmani) and chant the mantra “HUM”…Haaammmm for problems related to the thyroid, parathyroid or communication.(Often one finds oneself unable to voice one’s opinions….meditating on this chakra is helpful for this condition). In this instance also, visualize white light entering your vishudhi chakra from space (akash), during inhalation and blue colour (asmani) circulating throughout your body and going out into your aura during exhalation. Concentrating on the Agya Chakra, situated between the eyebrows and the colour Indigo (Neel) chant the mantra ‘SHAAM’….Shaaaaammm for headaches, migrane etc. During inhalation, visualize white light entering into this chakra from above and dark blue colour circulating through your body and finally going into your aura during exhalation. Finally meditate on the Sahasrar Chakra, situated above the head, concentrate on this chakra, the colour violet (Baigani) and chant the Mantra “AUM”…Ommmmmmmm. While inhaling, visualize white light entering into your sahasrar chakra from above and violete colour circulating in your body and then going into your aura while exhaling. Aum mantra needs to be chanted loudly at first, then softly and finally mentally without any sound. Whenever meditating on any chakra for any medical problem, do so as frequently as possible but continue whatever other medical treatment you are taking for your problem, whether medicines, exercises etc as prescribed. Meditating on the chakras also brings about a feeling of profound peace. Sources: “Radical Healing’ by Rudolph Ballantyne, “Yoga In Daily life” Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, ‘The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga written by Goswami Kriyananda, Deepak Chopra/ David Simon lecture series and the internet.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Are Near Death Experiences similar to experiences of advanced stages of Meditation?

Near Death Experiences, as we know, happen suddenly and have occurred to people of different faiths, even to those who do not believe in Him…they, are, therefore, “equal opportunity’ experiences. They can occur in people of any age. “The near death experience is said to occur when a person is close to death or actually clinically dead, but has been resuscitated or somehow survives to recount an intense, profoundly meaningful experience “ (Cherie Sutherland ‘”Within the Light” ) Most of the time an NDE is characterized by a feeling of peace, getting out of one’s body and being able to actually see whatever is happening “down below’ to the physical body (and also to be able to recount it in vivid detail later) .Often a sensation of travelling very quickly through a dark tunnel, generally towards a light, an encounter with the spirits of deceased relatives or friends or a ‘being of light”, an instantaneous life review and for some, entrance into a ‘world of light”. Some Near Death Experiencers (NDErs) have reported feeling that they are being guided, many realize that whatever one is, is a result of one’s thoughts. Most people who have experienced an NDE lose the fear of death (advanced meditators feel the same way).An NDE is a deeply spiritual experience…as is meditation. They feel that the only way one can find the path of understanding is by looking within themselves and going deeper and deeper. Many have developed the ability to communicate with people telepathically (a lot of advanced meditators do too). Similarly the out of body experiences are very similar to those experienced by those who have progressed in meditation and, therefore, spiritually. A tremendous feeling of compassion and a sense of unconditional love for all develops in almost all who have experienced an NDE ….does it not sound familiar? Everyone who meditates too feels the same….as they develop atmabhav”, love unconditionally and feel for everyone. Some feel that they must give love to everyone, even to those who bother them! Seeing a beautiful light is a very common experience….. “for nine days I was enveloped in a cocoon of golden light. Unconditional love poured from my heart; I was in a state of grace. Compassion, innate harmony and healing energy were my being ” (“Within the Light”). A feeling of being spoken to … something like a thought transference is also fairly common.. Most of them understand that “whatever happens is for your good”, and that whenever something bad happens to them it is only temporary and that they would grow from it. Just like those who have “awakened” through meditation, they understand that everybody has an obligation to contribute what they can to life and to mankind. Those who have advanced spiritually by meditation, have also reported seeing brilliant, scintillating divine light, which communicates with them through thought (“as is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind”) Most NDErs understand that the reason they did not actually die was because their work on this earth was not over and needed to be completed by coming back and that death was not the end, actually “there isn’t any death…it’s a just a different state of consciousness”. Some have described the realization they had after an NDE that we come here to accomplish certain things and that each of us have a destiny and that our higher self works out what we have to do and what is best for us before we come here. Sanatana Dharma has always believed that we keep coming back because of our karmas and desires, something which all advanced meditators have also realized. Loss of ego, compassion, kindness, a caring attitude for all is a very common result as also a feeling, a clear understanding that we are all interconnected…every plant, every tree has a consciousness of its own….and that we are connected to them. The concept of time disappears. A lot of those who have experienced an NDE feel that it is not a Near Death Experience but an actual death. NDErs have described an accurate description of specific, unique, events happening around the NDEr’s unconscious physical body that the person could not have seen or heard. This is called a “veridical perception”. NDEs has been reported in blind people and in someone who underwent brain surgery, with eyes taped, blood drained from the brain and cooled during repair of a blood vessel, and a small speaker producing a clicking sound! Almost all NDErs have reported having found improvement in themselves after the episode, some going to the extent of becoming totally spiritual There have been so many cases of complete cure of their medical problem following and NDE. One very important case in point is that of Anita Moorjani( Source: the internet) who was suffering from terminal Stage 1V B Lymphoma who had been told by doctors that she did not have more than 36 hours to live! They are the ones who understood the mechanics of Energy Healing, one of the best ways of transferring cosmic energy to a patient is done meditatively. There are numerous reports of patients being healed completely through meditative energy transfer. Am quoting some of her experiences …”I was shown how illnesses start on an energetic level before they become physical. If I chose to go into life, the cancer would be gone from my energy, and my physical body would catch up very quickly. I then understood that when people have medical treatments for illnesses, it rids the illness from the body but not from their energy so the illness returns. I realized that if I went back, it would be with a very healthy energy. Then the physical body would catch up to the energetic conditions very quickly and permanently. I was given the understanding that this applies to anything, not only illnesses…physical conditions, psychological conditions, etc. I was ‘shown” that everything going on in our lives was dependant on this energy around us, created by us. Nothing was solid…we created our surroundings, our conditions, etc depending where this energy was at. The clarity I received around how we get what we do was phenomenal! It's all about where we are energetically. “ She also realized that whatever happened to you was based on the choices you made in life…like she was shown that if she went back to life she would be completely cured but if she didn’t she would obviously be dead( she could actually “see” both versions of the doctor’s written reports)! As we now know, she did come back and made a dramatic recovery with a full and permanent cure, in addition, she experienced a complete “healing” We must not go with the idea that all Near Death Experiences are positive….they can be negative also. Very advanced meditators, can, if they chose, experience negative ones as well. I must add that NDEs often do have a cultural basis also, for example, Indian NDErs experiences may be a little different from those in the West due to cultural and religious beliefs. Meditation as we are aware leads to feelings of happiness, well being both physically as well as mentally, improvement in health, peace of mind , a quiet mind, profound increase of knowledge with a very clear understanding of why what is happening, every day events and situations start making sense, more and more knowledge is received, nothing else matters except to merge with Brahma, beautiful music can be perceived (depending upon what level of evolution one has reached)along with so many other things , visions, experiences of Divine Light, and the meaning of life becomes clear with one experiencing “happiness without any reason” (the Dalai Lama)and a feeling of bliss which may progress on and on…..and on…. Most of the time the benefits of meditation happen over a period of time, slowly but surely one keeps progressing, enjoying every moment of the journey. Here one savours every moment and can contemplate on every experience…any doubt can be removed by one’s guru. The final result, for one who has evolved, is always an intense desire to be with Him at all times and to help others on to the path. One feels for others…soul beauty takes precedence over physical beauty…the intention is always to benefit mankind in any way possible. In addition, meditation leads to feelings of profound peace, very often out of body experiences, development of “powers’ called ridhis and sidhis, clairvoyance, clairaudience, feeling of “knowing” everything, sometimes connection with deceased relatives and friends, contact with other spirits along with interaction with them, feeling the presence of enlightened beings around them, realization of being “guided” by evolved spirits or angels, visions of previous births, sense of interconnectedness and above all a profound feeling of intense LOVE for all beings. Almost all these experiences can be very well explained if we understand how meditation progresses through the ascension of the chakras as well as involvement of the various “koshas” as described in yoga. With gradual transgression of the muladhar chakra, one develops grounding, balance and stability, going beyond the Svadisthan chakra, means transgression of the negative traits like kaam, (Lust) krodha ,(anger) lobha,(greed) moha, (delusion) mada (pride) and matsya (envy). As one progresses beyond the Manipur chakra, one develops a better vision, both outer and inner, a better understanding of things. Going beyond the anahat chakra, feelings of love, peace , harmony, empathy, kindness, compassion, unity, forgiveness etc start ruling us. This love is of the unconditional type. When one has gone beyond the vishudhi chakra, a tremendous increase in one’s thought process, better realization of the truth and appreciation of the ‘Aum ‘ sound( “shabd’) is better appreciated, which is well heard at the anahat chakra(this why the chakra is so named). The nature of the primordial sound gradually changes gradually as one progresses beyond the various chakras. Involvement of the Agya chakra means the opening of the “third eye” associated with” Sat, Chit, Anand “ where Sat is Truth, Chit is consciousness and Anand is bliss, along with their realization. This translates into a better appreciation of the primordial sound (music) as well as visions of the divine light. All of the abovementioned occur in an NDE as well. By the time one reaches this stage, one has transgressed the Manomaya as well as the Vijnanmaya koshas ie the Mental and the Intelligence sheaths which are associated with a tranquil mind, peace, and revelation of tremendous knowledge, wisdom and Divine splendour. Finally, opening of the sahasrar chakra, reveals the full splendour of Divinity, knowing everything there is to know setting the stage for merging with the Creator. Similarly as one transgresses the ‘Annamaya Kosha’ or the food sheath through meditation, one gets a feeling of well being along with an improvement in physical health. Consciousness pervades every cell in the human body and the communication between the self and every cell improves tremendously. Dr Candis Pert in her famous book “Molecules of Emotion’ has shown how information can affect matter by demonstrating the presence of Neuro peptides of emotion interacting with the neuroreceptors present on the cell surface…if both are compatible, the information enters the cell and brings about the desired reaction inside the cell. This communication is enhanced by meditation bringing about an improvement in the functioning of the body (“as is the atom, so is the human body”) The transgression of the pranamaya kosha affects our breath which becomes more even resulting in a lot of benefits. This makes our mind quiet and tranquil as a result of which the Manomaya kosha is affected along with the most beautiful experiences associated with revelation of knowledge. This is followed by the involvement of the Jnanmaya kosha or the Sheath of Knowledge resulting in the acquisition of different levels of chetna or awareness. The veils of Ignorance slowly lift, followed by the light of knowledge shining brighter and brighter. At this point thoughts are concentrated on Brahma alone.(Bimal Mohanty “The Spiritual Approach to Life”) One finally reaches the level of the Anandmaya kosha or the bliss sheath…where there is nothing but bliss! One touches Divinity manifested as brilliant, golden…silvery…scintillating…cooling…light (prakash), a feeling of happiness never before experienced…a total understanding of everything…the truth is revealed in all its brilliance! As is apparent, all these are part and parcel of an NDE. Meditation can lead to merger with the Divine in Samadhi… “the drop becomes the ocean”, time loses its significance and stands still, all involuntary functions stop…one actually experiences nearness to physical death or death for practical purposes….Jesus Christ said “I die every day..” a lesson for all of us! It is, therefore clear that meditative experiences are same as those of an NDE…but one need not wait for an NDE to occur….one should meditate and merge with the Divine with His grace and become part of the ONE!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meetings/Events...Part of the Grand Design?

Have we ever wondered why what is happening to us is taking place? Why is it that we meet people or come across situations or things in our lives? Why is it that what we have been looking or searching for either appears or life gives us a clue to find it? It is actually not so difficult to understand if only we stopped to consider the great concept of the grand design of the Creator. This entire Universe has been created (and is being created every minute) for the purpose of taking all of us, which includes everything that exists in this Universe, to a higher level of existence, towards a further stage of evolution. Our Universe is expanding as seers of yore have always maintained and scientists too tell us now. Life is, therefore a dynamic process. Every being, whether living or non living plays its part and complements everything else in this Universe. To comprehend this we have to be very clear that everything in this vast Universe is interconnected, and everyone or everything is in some way or the other contributing to the functioning of another. All events, circumstances or meetings are part of this process. When meeting someone , we come in contact with his thoughts, which connect us to his relatives and acquaintances and he in turn connects with ours’ in the same way. The conversations we have with each other, in some way or the other affect or contribute to our development. This way a single meeting connects us with so many people. The air we inhale has been exhaled by someone else, the air we exhale is inhaled by another being and the process goes on, the food we eat has received contributions from many quarters. My feelings affect someone else’s. It is clear that we cannot live in isolation since interdependency is the rule. Karma, or the Law of Cause and Effect, of course plays an important and unrelenting role. We believe that we take birth based on our karmas and desires. We also know that each one of us has come to this earth for a specific purpose, though, often we do not know what that purpose is, but our subconscious mind and Nature are aware of it. In order to fulfill that, Nature creates situations, circumstances, events or meetings for our upward movement. Everything that happens is a step in that direction, albeit a small one. We must also understand that every thought that originates does so from the Cosmic mind. In a way, depending upon our samskars, which decide our gunas of prakriti, (quality of Nature) whether, Sattvic, (pure/virtous) Rajasic (passion/desires) or Tamasic (inertia/pride/arrogance) and our constitution (Prakriti), the appropriate thought arises. Our prakriti, ie our natural self, is something we are born with. It is based on a lot of factors, like, the thought process of the parents at the time of conception, their doshas or psychobiological constitutions…(Vata, Pitta and Kapha)… their genetic makeup, their emotions etc. Our prakriti, therefore, is our basic software, so to speak, and does not change. It is like the blue print we come armed with to accomplish whatever we have come here to do and is unique to each one of us. Life means action, which takes place continuosly, most of the time unknown to us. Everything must remain in balance. This dynamic universe, by its incessant movement and change maintains that balance. When we remain in conformity with Nature, we progress and evolve. It keeps giving us opportunities in order to do so. These opportunities are in the form of new situations, events and meetings with different types of people because of our connection with Nature. We too are made up of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space, just like Nature is. As mentioned above, our subconscious mind knows what our purpose of life is and incessantly prodds us in the direction of our purpose and Nature responds in the form of what we know as “Maya”. Maya, though commonly accepted to be a delusion, is, simply something which, by its very nature presents to us a myriad of situations, which may attract us, bring grief, bring temporary happiness, problems…but comes with an extremely important message…that all the temptations, grief, hurts, periods of happiness, the ups and downs of life are all a part of duality which pervades the entire Universe. It is, actually an attempt to teach us (repeatedly) that happiness/unhappiness, prosperity/lack of it, success/failure, good health/illness are all part of the grand design and that every such episode will be followed by its opposite in due course of time. In no uncertain terms it tries to make us realize that in order to transcend this duality, we need to get in touch with the One, the Almighty, Brahma, God, or whatever we wish to call Him. In a way, Maya is the covering which needs to be removed to get to Parmatama, like removing the layers of an onion one after the other to get to the core, which is like a void, a void which is Omnipotent, Omniscient…the One. Let us translate this into our day to day life by means of a few examples. You plan very meticulously for a journey, but something crops up and you do not reach the airport on time, and miss your flight….you have no option but to take another one and find a seat next to a person, who “happens” to be associated with an organization dealing with the type of work you had always wanted to work for! This so- called ‘chance’ meeting sets up the stage for your appointment and subsequent business involvement with that organization. It does not stop there…you find that working in that organization enables you to do exactly what you had aspired to do in life. You thus fulfill your life’s story. Nature keeps presenting myriads of similar opportunities everyday…if only we could see through what Maya is up to! Every action or happening can have two meanings, one the “obvious’ one, the “surface” one, so to speak, which is apparent to most people and a deeper meaning which is seen or understood by one’s wisdom. The wise are never deluded. It is the deeper one which we need to understand and take heed of. This can be illustrated by a few more examples. Many years back, while working in a Hospital in Chennai as a Registrar, my older son, suddenly developed an acute attack of Asthma, and I had to hospitalize him in the hospital I was working in at the time and happened to be on duty that night. I looked after him along with all the other patients admitted in the ICU and expected to be relieved of my duties the next morning so that I could take care of him. To my surprise, however, I was called down to the Operation Room and asked to operate on a young boy who had a hole in his heart…that too in front of a few observers who had come down from Delhi. I was a little upset…being tired, having been up the the whole night…tense because of my son, and to add to that, having to operate in the presence of people who would be very critical if I made a mistake. I went ahead, however, and later realized that all this was happening for my good! My boss had purposely asked me to operate in the presence of observers as he wanted them to see my surgical prowess since they had come scouting around for a cardiac surgeon for their upcoming hospital in Delhi. Needless to say, they were impressed and I was appointed in their hospital! My boss had known all along that I had wanted that job. You are walking down the road in a depressed and a very negative mood owing to a set back you faced recently when you pass a book store and a book entitled “Be positive and be happy” catches your eye…..Nature had come to your rescue! Thus, Nature always attempts to teach us to accept everything with equanimity and to make us believe that God will never do anything which is not for our good. We, on our part, need to evaluate why things are happening, try to read the deeper meaning and to act accordingly. If we fail in an exam, instead of blaming the teacher for setting up a difficult question paper, let us understand that our preparation was, perhaps, inadequate. If we miss an appointment for being late, let us learn to be punctual….if someone does not turn up after as per prior appointment, instead of getting upset, let us understand that Nature has other plans for us….when we wrack our brains for a solution to a problem, let us just relax and calm down..Nature might either “show” us the solution or whisper the answer through our intuition. God has given us another wonderful gift, the gift of “free will’. This enables us to use our intelligence and make correct decisions. Whenever confronted with Maya, if we fail to read the message provided and do not use our free will, our progress slows down. Even when we succumb to Maya, after suffering from it, if we use our intelligence we can still comprehend the meaning behind the suffering if we wish to. Again, Maya teaches us to learn from our mistakes and progress. If we still do not understand, Maya will keep giving us more opportunities until we do. Frequent ups and downs indicate to us that we are not learning, so also repeated suffering. Sometimes thoughts of being “incomplete’, disappointments with life, depressive feelings, questions about the purpose of life, lack of enthusiasm etc are all prompting us to seek the source of perpetual happiness and bliss. We need to understand the meaning behind these thoughts…they do not come randomly but are egging us on to seek our progress. To conclude, let us trust Nature, whatever it does is for a purpose, every action, every thought, every development and every meeting is part of the grand design. Let us also understand that things will happen only when they are supposed to happen, never earlier and never latyer. We also make things happen by the nature of our thoughts and by remaining in conformity with Nature.