Saturday, October 26, 2013
The Path And The Seeker: What IS this mysterious “path” we keep hearing so much about ? Why is to so important? How does one find it and how does one “travel”on it? Who is eligible for it? These are some of the questions which often come to our mind or we wonder about. What is this Path? It is nothing but the route one takes to merge with Him……which is Yoga or union with the Divine…. The merger of the Atma with Parmatama. Unlike other paths it occurs internally and has to be travelled alone. It is like the sadhak blazing a new trail for himself, and the experiences, though fairly similar are yet different for each sadhak. The ‘Path’ is one but there can be many routes which one can take. Types of Paths: The path ultimately leads to union with the Supreme Being, which is called ‘Yoga”. The types of paths, are also designated as ‘Yoga’. Traditionally four main paths have been described. Raj, Karma, Bhakti and Gyan Yoga. Each one of us has a different temperament, based on which we get attracted to the path which we think is suitable to us. Raja Yoga is the science of restraining the mind and teaches us to concentrate with purification of intention. It ultimately frees us from the limitations of the senses and makes us transcend reason and thus reveal the potential divinity within. This control of chitta by meditation is necessary in all the types of Yogas and hence Raja Yoga can be said to be the basis of all of them. Kriya Yoga is also a part of this. Karma Yoga is the science of right action and serving without expectations. It teaches man to “be in the world yet not of it”, like the lotus leaf, whose roots are in the mud but which remains always pure. Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion for God for the emotional type of person. Gyana Yoga is for the one who is reflective by nature. By the process of discrimination the gyani leaves out one thing after another of the Universe until he discovers the essential Unity. When this point is reached he sees that there is but one Self in the Universe, of which the lower selves are but manifestations. Of these it is believed that Raj Yoga is the highest. In fact, Sri Paramhans Yoganandaji has said that if you see anyone achieving unity with Him by any other methods other than Raj Yoga, then that person must have meditated in earlier births and in the present birth just starts off from where he left off earlier. None of these paths are however exclusive and in the end they converge and meet at the same point. Swami Vivekananda has said “ You must harmonize the four different paths…..” I must also mention about the ‘Yoga ‘which we normally talk about since it is often confused with the yoga we are discussing above….”the eight fold path enunciated by Patanjali is an intrinsic part of the one seeking God Realization . The first two are the yama and niyama which means the do's and don'ts of life which are like the foundation of spiritual life, needless to say if one is not established in these two, the foundation being weak the building of self realization will also be weak and can fall at even a slight tremor of test or trail. When one is firmly established in the two prerequisites he can then move on to the other steps of asan, pranayam, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and finally attain samadhi. Asan means the right posture, Arjuna's gandive or his bow symbolizes that, meaning if the string on his bow is not taut it will not be able to shoot arrows, likewise if the posture of spine is not straight and is bent one will not be able to lift his consciousness from the lower centres of Muladhara and swadhistan to ajna, like water will not be able to flow through a bent pipe. Pranayama the next step, ( prana is “life” and ayama is “control’ meaning ‘control of life”) Pratyahara is interiorisation of the mind, dharana is fixing the mind on some aspect of God, when the mind thus stays fixed it’s called dhyana, and when the person meditating and object of meditation, and the experience thereof become one, one enters the state of Samadhi, where the knower, knowing and the known become one and are no more separate.” This too has been modified quite a bit. There is another path too, the path of the Saints, called Santmat (there are many other names as well)which actually incorporates all four as mentioned above and is based on the power of the “Shabd”, also called ‘Naam” or the Divine melody within, which is the vibration which brought about the creation of this entire Universe. “This force originates from the highest realm of consciousness and descends till our eye centre. When the meditator ventures within and brings his consciousness to the third eye he connects with this melody and travels to higher realms. Since its originating point is beyond all the lower realms it takes the practitioner directly to the realm of Anami or the Supreme abode of the Nameless One”. This is achieved with the guidance of a Realized guru. Most of the other yoga systems believe in the seven chakras within the human body as well as the “kundalini” lying at the base of the Muladhar chakra which has to be raised by various methods of meditation in order to raise one’s consciousness upwards to the eye centre first and then to the sahasrar, where it ends. Hence by these methods one can reach upto the sahasrar only and not beyond, while in the path of Santmat the atma travels from the sahasrar chakra upto Him for final merger with Him. As mentioned above the path of santmat encompasses all the four forms of yoga , namely the sadhak has his Master’s form(Swaroop) within his heart at all times along with mental chanting of the Mantra given to him by his Master (Bhakti yoga),performs his duties with zeal at all times (Karma Yoga), meditates regularly (Raj Yoga) and attains supreme transcendental knowledge by travelling within (Gyan Yoga). Why is the Path so important? Most people are of the opinion that the most important thing in life is to be good in all respects and, therefore, there is no need to traverse the path to spirituality. This requires some thought, however, as even being good requires God’s help. This needs to be explained further. Our temperament of being good, bad , evil etc is dependent upon the gunas of prakriti with which we are born, based on our karmas of earlier births. When we are born with a sattvic temperament we behave in a sattvic manner (sattvic means pure and virtuous), but if born with a rajasic guna, we will behave in a rajasic manner, which means being passionate and involved in worldly activities. If, however, we are born with a tamasic temperament (inertia, pride, arrogance, being bad, evil, lazy etc), we will continue to behave like that. A tamasic person cannot become sattvic or rajasic by just “willing” himself to or by thinking about it. The only way it can happen is by meditation. All our thoughts arise from the Cosmic mind of God, and each thought percolates down to our Individual superconscious mind, then to the Subconscious and finally to the Conscious. In the case of a tamasic or rajasic person access to the deeper layers of the mind are not possible as he is totally cut off from the Cosmic mind. Therefore, for one to become really good he must harbour sattvic or good thoughts but if one does not traverse the path to connect with God how will these good thoughts come into us? We cannot just ask our conscious mind to generate good thoughts since it is impossible to control our conscious mind. However , when we are connected to the Cosmic Mind we have access to His mind and can imbibe His qualities by travelling on the path. The human being has been born with the sole purpose of going back to his Source and in the process evolving by learning from his multiple experiences (of multiple births). This involves a complete transformation of our personality……from a human form of self centeredness, egoistic behavior, envy, anger, greed, desires, etc to an ultimate God like form…. which is essential ….after all to merge with Him we perforce have to become like Him with all His characteristics of profound love for all beings, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom and generate that scintillating bright aura which encompass all of humanity. For this to happen one has to first connect with one’s self followed by dissolving into Him. This is possible only by travelling on the Path as taught by a realized guru. What happens on the Path? As one progresses on the path of spirituality, one gains a lot of experiences depending on the stages of his evolution namely, with the opening of the Third Eye, ‘Divine music’ becomes audible/appreciable, the type being commensurate with the stage one is at. It may also be associated with various coloured lights and visions. With the “ascent” one notices dramatic changes in one’s personality and negative emotions gradually give way to profoundly positive ones, love for all beings plays a very important part. Compassion, kindness, empathy, forgiveness, fearlessness, a cool and calm demeanor ……one becomes ‘happy without reason”. Along with this one develops oneness with all His creation and one gains a lot of ‘powers’ which have been called ‘ridhis and sidhis’ (which, unfortunately, often prevent further evolution if one gets attached to them). As one evolves to reach and merge with Him, the positive changes of one’s personality translate into his daily life and one radiates a bright aura (tej) and generates positive vibrations (a result of having imbibed His spiritual vibrations) which are transmitted to all and sundry. One’s body identified ego becomes less and less till it disappears completely at the time of merger with Him…..and the drop becomes the ocean. Everyone is eligible to traverse the path, though the progress depends upon the keenness and the ‘tarap’ of the seeker. The Seeker: Like the various types of paths which can be trod, so also, the yearnings for the Almigty by the seekers too can be quite different. At one end of the spectrum is the seeker who is obviously pining for Him but in other cases it could be very subtle. When we take birth in this world we bring with us whatever experiences we have gained in our previous lives, which means that none of us are at the same level….the spiritual knowledge or experience each of us has is of a different degree. Most often those who have come already evolved to a certain extent start questioning the purpose of their lives and as to why have they been born? They also wonder ‘Who am I”? It is this category of people who want to evolve further and start “looking around” or searching for Him and may resort to reading the Scriptures, going to temples, doing worship at home or elsewhere, go on pilgrimages, search for gurus etc. Many keep wondering as to whether what they are doing is correct or not and are perpetually questioning themselves. Another category gets intense feelings of ‘homesickness’…..which home they want to go to is very very obscure in their minds …but their heartfelt desire is to reach ‘there’…..but how they will get there is a very big question mark in their minds. There are some who, though seem to be living wholesome lives still feel that ‘something is missing” from their lives. They are unable to put a finger on the ‘missing link”, though. At times, one may go through very tragic or nerve shattering experiences like sudden losses or unexpected developments beyond one's control which make one realize that one really is not the doer and that there is a higher power which orchestrates everything. Such instances are turning points in one's life and propel one to traverse the path. It is the people who sincerely seek or the ones who are ‘homesick’ are the ones who are ultimately blessed by a true guru. They of course need to go through various other experiences before that actually happens, though. These can be in the form of ‘chance’ meetings with people who are already on the spiritual path, or certain situations or circumstances which are ‘created’ in their lives which then take them forward. They could also have prophetic dreams or connect ‘vibrationally’ with others on the path who then facilitate their meeting with a true guru by acting as “catalysts’. By a vibrational connection i mean meeting people who ‘vibrate’ at a similar frequency with them. This happens because of their subconscious mind propelling them forward and urging them to do certain things which facilitate the meeting. There are instances where the guru has woken up the sadhak during sleep asking him to “wake up”….meaning ‘arise, awake and connect to yourself”! Seekers can thus be likened to an ice berg….the biggest chunk of ice being submerged inside water and a very tiny bit above. The tiny bit above the surface of the water is that part of the seeker which has not been swallowed up by the world (read material things and being away from God) he lives in and may be tuned to his religion or to Spirit. The size of this varies according to his present spiritual evolution. If he is a little more evolved than others then the tiny part may be a little bigger. The part of the iceberg above the surface of the water would be bigger still in those who have come into this world even more evolved than others. The job of the guru is to pull as much (or all) of the submerged part and guide him to yoga (union with the Almighty) Once contact has been established the Guru initiates the sadhak……..and teaches him the method of meditation as well as the mantra he should chant mentally. In this method, if the guru is truly realized, he soon manages to get the student to open his Third Eye following which further spiritual progress takes place. The Guru then commences to teach. His teachings can take various forms namely by his pravachans which comprise of imparting wisdom from the Scriptures along with his own commentary on various subjects. Once initiation has taken place the seeker meditates on the guru’s image at the centre of the forehead. Further spiritual evolution takes place with more and more meditation on the part of the sadhak and more and more guidance on the part of guru, who literally guides the sadhak’s atma higher and higher by travelling ahead of him and taking him through the various stages to the ultimate merger with Him. On the Path he keeps pointing out pitfalls from which the sadhak needs to avoid. Often the message the guru gives can be quite subtle. For the seeker to truly evolve the presence of a realized guru is essential in his life, without which true progress cannot take place. As one evolves it slowly dawns on the seeker that the shabd and the Guru are one. This merger is followed by complete merger with the Divine, heralded by profound bliss and the breathtaking aura of His brilliance! May we all be guided on to the path and to …….His heavenly abode! Acknowledgements: ‘Vivekanand, The Great Spiritual Teacher” The Internet‘The Mystic Way” http://wayofmystics.webs.com/thepath.htm My Blog Posts http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/wellness/mantra-meditation-on-the-chakras-and-their-health-benefits http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/mysticism/is-sahasrara-the-ultimate-destination http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/science-of-spirituality/the-gurus-appearance-and-spiritual-evolution-of-the-student Input from my spiritual brother Sri Dhairyanandaji
Monday, August 26, 2013
The Sahasrar, or the thousand rayed lotus, of life and light is situated four finger’s width above the top of the head, with all the petals directed downwards. It is also called the Crown Chakra and has always been considered the level to be achieved spiritually. It shines like a thousand suns in its power and glory and is also called the Brahmarandra or Brahma’s Door, the gateway to the Absolute. It is said that it is closed to the ‘ordinary’ individual but when one is highly advanced, this door opens and one ascends through it into the Beyond. It is commonly known that the fifty letters or sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet are on the petals of the Sahasrar. The fifty letters or sounds, in multiples of twenty, equal the one thousand petals of the Sahasrar. Each alphabetical vibration is connected with a specific petal on the lotuses in the spinal chakras .Petals are actually rays or vibrations, which, singularly and in combination, along with the five tattvas and other principles of Nature are responsible for the various psychological and physiological activities in our physical and astral bodies. The rishis realized the potencies of these vibratory “bija” or “seed” sounds and devised the various mantras based on them. The Mantra for the Sahasrar chakra is “Aum”. (If you wish, you may kindly refer to my earlier blog http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/meditation/aum-and-gayatri-mantrastheir-deeper-meaning ) Genesis: As we are aware, the human soul is encased in three coverings or bodies, namely the ideational or the causal, the subtle or astral, and the gross physical body. The physical body is both created and sustained by the astral body, which mainly consists of prana. The creative life energy of the astral body descends into the physical body through the seven chakras situated in the spine and the brain. (Kindly refer to my blog, if you so desire http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/wellness/mantra-meditation-on-the-chakras-and-their-health-benefits for more details about the chakras) Our physical body is structured on similar lines as the astral. Just as the physical body has a brain, spinal cord, nerves and nerve plexuses so also the astral body has an astral brain of a thousand rays…the thousand-petaled lotus along with an astral spine with its chakras of light and energy and an astral nervous system with its “nadis’. Through the Astral nervous system flows “prana” which gets differentiated in the physical body into the various currents which carry on the function of crystallization, circulation, assimilation, metabolism and elimination ( Vyana, Udana, Prana, Samana and Apana Vayus). The Sushumana is the main astral channel and has two other astral nadis on either side, the “Ida” on the left and the ‘Pingala” on the right. There are about 72000 such nadis which constitute the Astral Sympathetic nervous System. The Ida, Pingala and Sushumana reach only as far as the Agya Chakra or the Third Eye and not any further. The Sushumana also has another astral spine called ‘vajra’, within which is present is another one called ‘chitra’, which controls our spiritual activities. All three of these spines are controlled by the Sahasrar. Specific rays and intelligence emanating from the Sahasrar are reflected to the various spinal chakras giving each its characteristic activities and consciousness. (Sri Paramhans Yoganandaji …’God talks To Arjun……”) At the sacral centre or the Muladhara chakra lies the nadi which is coiled like a serpent and is called the Kundalini, which ends its journey at the Sahasrar chakra from where it arises. Similarly the third covering, the Causal Body is pure consciousness, which has a spiritual brain and a spiritual spine called ‘Brahmanadi’. Consciouness flows from the causal to the astral body and finally into the physical body and becomes increasingly deluded due to sense pleasures. It is, therefore, clear from the above that the Sahasrar is related to the Astral body and the Causal still needs to be negotiated. The Kundalini and Consciousness: As has been clarified above, systems in which the kundalini is made to rise by various methods of meditation, it is possible to raise one’s consciousness only upto the Sahasrar chakra and not beyond since the kundalini ends at that point. Similarly by various methods of Pranayam, consciousness can be raised only up to the Third Eye since the Ida , Pingala and Sushumanana end there and do not go beyond. When we withdraw our consciuousness from our surroundings by meditation, the sushumana becomes active and helps in channeling our consciousness upwards but cannot take it beyond the Third Eye or the Sahasrar chakra. All systems of yoga, therefore, have this limitation. Thus if our Consciousness reaches up to the Sahasrar by any spiritual method we can reach only up to the Astral body (since the sahasrar is part of the Astral) and cannot go beyond the Causal. At this juncture it would be worthwhile to mention a little about the Third Eye since it plays such an important role in spiritual evolution….. what does it look like? There is a dark opal-blue globe within a quivering ring of flame. By deep meditation, an extremely brilliant star may be seen in the centre of the blue. The star is the gateway to Spirit. (Sri Paramhans Yoganndaji).When one travels through the golden disc one reaches the astral plane but to reach the Spirit beyond the causal pane one needs to travel through this star. It has also been described like the flame of a candle. This is what Sant Kabir Dasji has to say about it: ‘Between the two eyes is the Master, the messenger of the Lord. Between the black and white moles is the shining star, and within that star dwells the unknown and unseen Lord. Between the eyes is the Master, the Messenger of God. Between the eyes shines a tiny petal and within the petal is the hidden door. On that door adjust your telescope. Thus with ease go across the world’s deadly sea. Between the eyes is the Master, the Messenger of God. In the City of sunn I reside o friend where resounds the melody in its all pervading force. Now the Master and Kabir are eternal companions. And he leads Kabir to the mansion of shabd. Between the eyes is the Master.” The Sahasrar chakra, therefore, is not the last but actually the first step to union with Spirit. The reason is quite obvious. Merging with God means merging with Spirit which is beyond the Astral and Causal realms. Since the Sahasrar is a part of the Astral only in order to evolve further we need to go beyond it. This creation was brought about by a vibration, called ‘shabd’ or “Aum” which is in the form of sound and light .This is the Divine melody which is the direct connection between human Consciousness and Divine Consciousness and is forever present. How Does Union With Spirit Take Place? Saints achieve this through their connection with the Shabd (known variously as Naam. Anhad Shabd, Aum, Kalma etc). ‘This force originates from the highest realm of consciousness and descends till our Eye Centre”. When a realized guru blesses a sadhak with Naam Daan or initiation, he brings about the sadhak’s Consciousness to rise to the Third Eye(kindly refer to my earlier blog if you wish http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/science-of-spirituality/the-gurus-appearance-and-spiritual-evolution-of-the-student ) Where he connects with the shabd through which he rises to higher realms. “The Master initiates a disciple into the mystic path he or she attaches our soul currents to shabd or naam and turns our soul currents from their usual tendencies of outwards and downwards to inwards and upwards.” (The Mystic Way)During initiation the Master also teaches a mantra to be chanted during meditation on the sound current and to focus one’s mind on his “swaroop” at the eye centre and to “follow” his swaroop. . The Guru then “leads” the sadhak so that his Atma then travels through various stages or “Khands” , namely, Dharam Khand, Karam Khand, Gyan Khand, Saram Kahand and finally Sach Khand. The Dharam Khand corresponds to the ‘Sahasra Dal Kawal” or the sahasrar chakra and has its own characteristic sound and the vision as seen in the form of light of a specific colour.(My Guruji). It is now clear that we actually have 12 chakras instead of 7 as described in Yoga but this number becomes 22 when subdivided. The Sach Khand is the abode of the Supreme Being and this khand has four more stages called, Alakh, Agami and Anami or the Nameless One. (The Way of Mystics) Hence the sadhak’s journey actually commences from the sahasrar. As the Atma progresses, it travels through these various stages, each being recognized by its specific sound and the colour of the light. It should be noted that the sounds, visions and colours are different from those associated with ascent through the spinal chakrsas when the kundalini rises up the spine towards the sahasrar.All these stages are associated with tremendous changes in the sadhak’s personality along with progressive improvement in intuition and wisdom. Sant Kabir has described each and every stage in great detail. They may have other names too and each has its own number of petals , not unlike the petals of the Astral chakras. For example ‘Bhanwar Gupha” has two petals, Mahasunn (great darkness) has 16, Achint Deep has 12…..so and so forth. (The Way of Mystics). It is said that when ‘maha pralaya’ takes place, all the regions up to the gate of Sat Lok ie below Sach Khand get destroyed. We should, therefore make Sach Khand our destination, so that we never come down. Let us, therefore, strive to actually connect with the Shabd/Aum so that we can travel through the astral and causal realms and merge with the Spirit beyond Creation. Sources: “God Talks To Arjun….The Bhagwada Gita” and “The Second Coming Of Christ’ by Sri Pramahans Yoganandaji. ‘The Mystic Way” http://wayofmystics.webs.com/thepath.htm
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Volumes and volumes have been written on this mystical subject but it still remains an enigma. With great humility i wish to share my understanding of this ubiquitous entity called Consciousness. There has always been a debate as to whether the brain came first or Consciousness? What do we mean by the term Consciousness? Many attempts have been made to define it. What Does Physics have to say about it? Looking at it from the Scientific perspective, it is the very “ground of being” says Amit Goswami, the famous physicist, and this “being” includes both mind and matter. He further adds that ‘consciousness is the mediator of the interaction between mind and body.”According to Schrodinger it is a “singular without a plural”. It was with the advent of Quantum Physics that Consciousness received its due and we need to go into some detail. Nick Herbert in 1993 said ‘The world exists not as a solid actuality but only as shimmering waves of possibility…….Whenever someone chooses to look at it, the atom ceases its fuzzy dance and seems to ‘freeze’ into a tiny object with definite attributes, only to dissolve once more into a quivering pool of possibilities as soon as the observer withdraws his attention from it. This apparent observer induced change in an atom’s mode of existence is called the collapse of the wave function or simply the quantum jump.’ It then became clear that something new must be added to ‘collapse the wave function’. John von Neumann concluded that the only known entity fit for this task was consciousness. He said that ‘the world remains everywhere in a state of pure possibility except where some conscious mind decides to promote a portion of the world from its usual state of indefiniteness into a condition of actual existence.” The term ‘collapse’ basically means the change from possibility into actuality. Our Sages concept of Consciousness: Our sages have called it “existence-awareness-bliss” which we know as ‘Sat-Chit-Anand”. Here ‘Chit” stands for Consciousness. As we are aware there are three states of Consciousness…..Jagrat, or Conscious, awake or wakeful state, Supta or Subconscious or sleeping state and the Sushupta state, also called the Superconscious state, Krishna Consciousness or Christ Consciousness. According to Swami Jnaneshwar Bharat, the Aum Mantra denotes four levels of Consciousness and three transition levels. Each of the three sounds of the Aum Mantra (A, U and M) symbolize specific states of Consciousness after which there is silence which is the Fourth State and is Consciousness or awareness itself, while in between are the transition states. (Kindly refer to my earlier blog for more details http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/mysticism/atma-and-satchitananda) Sri Paramhans Yoganandaji has called it ‘primordial awareness” Consciousness basically arises from God. ‘God the Father and Cosmic Consciousness are synonymous; Christ, the Son and Christ Consciousness are one and the same. God the Father emanated from Him His son, Christ Intelligence and Cosmic Energy, the Holy Ghost.”As we are aware Holy Ghost and the word “Aum” are one and the same. Holy Ghost , Aum or Shabd is the vehicle for union with God the Father. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj feels that “awareness is primordial, which is the original state , beginningless, endless, unsupported, without parts, and without change.” According to him “Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute ,while consciousness is relative to its content” he further says that Consciousness is partial and changeful while awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent and is the common matrix of every experience. According to Yoga, God Consciousness is called ‘Kaivalya”, which means touching Ultimate Reality. Samadhi is the technique to achieve it. In this state God is seen differently at different times and in different “forms” depending upon the karma of the person seeking Him. How has Cosmic Consciousness ‘descended’ to permeate all matter? Sri Paramhans Yogananda has given a beautiful narration….’As a mighty river that brings fertility to the plains has its source in the mountains high above, so the source of the river of consciousness is Cosmic Consciousness, Spirit, the ever existing, ever conscious ever-new Bliss that transcends creation. Descending into creation –into every particle of thought, life energy, and matter constituting the causal, astral and physical realms-Cosmic Consciousness is called Christ Consciousness. Flowing into the soul and pure mind of man, it is called superconsciousness. Carried on the current of life energy down through the subtle spinal centres (chakras), losing its divine awareness in body in body identification, it is called subconsciousness, operating the body-mechanism through the life energy in the physical brain, spine, and viscera. Descending further, out into the muscles and senses, the river of consciousness settles in the level of the ordinary waking state ,enlivening the muscular and sensory activities of the body, and creating desires for and attachments to material experiences.’ As long as consciousness is identified with the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch it makes us conscious of matter. But when we meditate, we withdraw our consciousness from the five senses and gradually attain superconsciousness. The internal consciousness of ordinary people operates only from the lumbar, sacral and coccygeal centres. Those who love the Divine work from the heart centre, but the calm, unshaken yogi operates from the cervical centre. Someone who can feel his presence in the entire vibratory creation has awakened his medullary and Christ centres, while the illumined yogi functions in the cerebral centre of Cosmic Consciousness. (Sri Paramahans Yogananda). What this translates into is that those whose consciousness is focused on the lower three centres are predominantly tamasic, when related to the Anahat Chakra, Rajasic. When, however, people whose consciousness is focused on the higher centres are either Sattvic …or have moved beyond. How Does Consciousness Manifest? Consciousness is the ground of reality, of the reality which connects one reality to another…..it pervades everything in the universe, the link between ‘matter” and what is unmanifest, between the various sheaths or the five koshas, body, prana, mind, intelligence and bliss. It is the driving force which initiates all processes……acts as the ignition for all chemical processes in our body, initiates all thoughts and thoughts into action, it is the ‘primordial awareness” and if i may say, it is the “awareness of being aware”…it is always present even when ‘unconscious’ as that stage is the stage when we are not aware of being aware…but all functions continue as if by remote. It is the very foundation…’mula-adhar’ of not only our being but also of the entire Universe…remember the Muladhar chakra, the four petals of which denote ‘Mana’, ‘Budhi:, ‘Chita” Ahankar”? Consciousness is that subtle reality which is present between all of us…present in all beings and links us all by merging into each other….i am you and you are me at the same time being him/her….it is like a loving mother whose love is always enveloping us whether we are in her physical presence or not. It is that Divine Light permeating all of the manifest or unmanifest worlds, it is the vibration which initiated all of creation…..it is the Aum/Shabd/Amen….continuously creating, maintaining and ‘destroying’……changing form and recreating the same into another form…the moisture in the cloud…the rain drop….which drops on the ground, loses its individuality as the drop, merges with the earth …..only to change form again as it is the energy which cannot be destroyed nor created. It is that ‘prana’ which is present in all, the energy responsible for keeping us alive. It is consciousness, the energy which changes form to carry out the myriad functions required for the functioning of the entire Universe. When the One became conscious of itself it gave rise to the entire created and manifest or umanifest universe (s). It is the very thought which comes in our mind, initiates an action, seemingly disappearing but remaining in the ether only to initiate another action elsewhere or in someone else’s mind and the process goes, on ad infinitum. It is the initiator of the thought, the thought itself, the action culminating from the thought, the after effect of the action, the consequence…it is the feeling i have whether of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness or dislike, jealousy….. It is what makes us ‘see’ a sound, as it is what initiates it, is present in it and still remains when the sound has disappeared….so also with our hearing…….it is consciousness which makes us “see,” “hear” , “talk”…….the external organs for these being essential only till we retain the body …after which we can still continue to do so without these ‘appliances’…all because of consciousness. During advanced stages of meditation as described by sages, consciousness is ‘felt’ as the divine light descending down into one’s being from the head going down to each and every cell and atom of the body in its brilliant silvery sheen or golden splendor, perfusing every nook and cranny of the body, emanating out, expanding the body aura multifold, going out in to the Universe to merge with all its surroundings…..the Universe and I become one. Sri Paranmhans Yoganadaji has described it ever so beautifully ‘The yogi learns to expand his being into Spirit and Its cosmic consciousness……the yogi’s soul not only feels the cosmic consciousness in all creation, but beyond it, to the farthest reaches of the vibrationless sphere.” The yogi being one with God, beholds His consciousness appearing as the sapidity in waters, the luminescence of the moon and the sun, the cosmic sound and light roaming in the universes and the eternal ether, the perception of all sentient beings and saintly souls, and the Aum or truth vibrations of the Vedic Scriptures …… How can we experience it? As is obvious Consciousness is everywhere..it is in front if us, behind us, above us, below us, it is both inside us as well as outside us……..in fact we are totally immersed in it but are not aware of it. We need a teacher, a realized Guru to first make us aware of its existence and then to help us experience it and to finally merge with it completely. A Guru does this by making us learn to open our Third Eye at the centre of the eyebrows after which we come face to face with our atma and our ‘Nij ‘mind disengages us from our bonds with our ‘Pindi’ mind, which is keeping us stuck to the dictates of our senses…takes us higher and higher finally dropping off itself and bringing about a merger of the Atma with the Paramatama. The three components of Consciousness namely knower, knowing and known become one! Sources: God Talks to Arjun …The Bhagavad Gita” and “The Second Coming Of Christ” by Sri Paramhans Yogananda “Quantum Doctor” by Amit Goswami “The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga” by Goswami Kriyananda
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Dear Friends, Am taking the liberty of sharing with you the truly wonderful dream i had this morning, still so vividly imprinted in my mind. They say early morning dreams come true! i saw an exquisitely beautiful little lamb, absolutely white in colour, nuzzling up against me, seeking attention. She emanated vibrations of pure love…..i caressed it affectionately and she curled up ever so close to me giving me that wonderfully warm feeling of Divine Mother’s loving “sparsh, which i cannot forget. That touch full of love still lingers.i said to her ‘May God bless you”. A strange thing happened, the beautiful lamb became a small smiling little child, a glowingly beautiful one, laughed …and said to me ‘God bless You”! Then i saw a little monkey on the ground, trying to jump on to my shoulder…but however hard it tried, it did not succeed. Then a dog came along, a small, quiet, good looking one with very deep and beautiful eyes full of love for me and just kept looking up to me in all earnest as if all that mattered to him was me! When i woke up with a smile on my face….it was with a feeling of tranquility and profound peace and happiness….all the three images had left an indelible mark with their messages…..the lovely little lamb had shown me pure divine love, the little monkey told me not to let my mind rule me and the faithful little dog was there to tell me about faith in Him. Let us live our lives bathed in Divine love and faith in Him and not allow our notorious mind to dictate to us……the mind is like a bewitchingly beautiful child, full of ‘beans’, naughty, almost impossible to pin down…..it is always running away from us, like a playful child, laughing and enjoying itself but beyond our reach!
Sunday, July 7, 2013
What is the relationship between the Atma and Sat-Chit-Anand? Let us first try to understand what Sat-Chit-Ananda is since we hear and talk about it so often…. Sri Paramhans Yogananda has described it as “the Sanskrit word for God that expresses the essential nature of Spirit as eternal Being or truth (Sat), infinite consciousness (Chit) and ever new Bliss (Ananda)” “Sat” stands for Truth and since the only real truth is God it means the highest level of Cosmic Consciousness which is free from all negativities of ‘raag’, dvesh’ or any faults. There are many other names too like, Being, God the Father (the Christian Bible),Par-Brahman of the Bhagavad Gita and Vedantic philosophy, Paramatama of the Yogis. Para –Purusha and Transcendental Spirit , and Sadhguru. All these names mean the same. Sat is also the supreme pure essence of Cosmic Consciousness “Chit” stands for Consciousness, while “Ananda” is bliss. Consciousness itself needs some further clarification. As we are aware there are three states of Consciousness…..Jagrat, or Conscious, awake or wakeful state, Supta or Subconscious or sleeping state and the Sushupta state, also called the Superconscious state, Krishna Consciousness or Christ Consciousness. According to Swami Jnaneshwar Bharat, the Aum Mantra denotes four levels of Consciousness and three transition levels. Each of the three sounds of the Aum Mantra (A, U and M) symbolize specific states of Consciousness after which there is silence which is the Fourth State and is Consciousness or awareness itself, while in between are the transition states. “A” represents the Waking State and is also called the Conscious, Gross or the Vaishnavara state, followed by the transition stage called Unmani. “U’ represents the Dreaming, Unconscious , Taijasya or the Subtle states, followed by the transition stage called Aladani. “M” is representative of the Subconscious state also called Prajna, and Causal state. This is then followed by the transition stage of Samadhi. Consciousness has also been classified as Conscious, Subconscious and Superconscious which has been subdivided into Individual (Soul) and Universal Superconscious states (God). Bliss is part of the Causal Body. (Our body has three parts, the physical, made of matter, called the Sthula sharer, the Astral or Sukshma shareer (the pranmaya and manomaya koshas are part of this ie prana and mind) and the Causal Body comprises of Intelligence (Vigyanmaya kosha) and Bliss or Anandmaya kosha). If we look at the Nature of Sat we realize that it has no beginning, middle or end, has existed in the past, is present now and will exist in the future, is changeless, is not conditioned by time , space or causation, exists during Jagrat, Swapna or Sushupti, it exists as one homogenous essence (Sada Ekarasa and Sada Ekarupa). All these qualities are present in Atma as well. Hence Atma is Sat (Swami Sivananda). Swami Sivananda further elaborates that ‘Atma is Chit for it shines by itself unaided by any other light and illuminates the whole Universe”. He explains that “this lamp of body filled with oil of Karma, the fire of Atman igniting the wick called mind acquires the name of Jiva and removes the darkness of Ajnana. This power is really in Atman and not in others.” According to him, Atma is Ananda as well! “Ananda is that bliss which is eternal, uncaused and unexcelled” which is the real nature of Atma also. It, therefore, becomes clear that Sat-Chit-Ananda are not three distinct entities and not different from one another either and that Atma is the same as Sat-Chit-Ananda. To achieve a stage of Sat-Chit-Ananda we need to connect with our Atma or the Self. (http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/god-and-i/godselfand-the-connection may be referred to) How do we experience Sat-Chit-Ananda? This can happen only by the opening of our Third Eye, situated a little deep to the centre of our forehead. This is also called the Agya Chakra. The Atma can be appreciated only after the opening of the Third Eye, which opens to the inside and not out as our ordinary eyes do. It is here that the three nadis, namely, “Ida”, “Pingala” and ‘Sushumna’ meet, which is why it is also called “Triveni”. Normally the Sushumna, a part of our astral body, is non functional. It is only when we manage to shift our consciousness from the “outside” to the ‘inside” that out sushumna starts functioning and takes our consciousness to the Agya Chakra. The Agya Chakra controls the manomaya kosha and the intelligence sheaths ie mind and intelligence and its qualities are Sat, Chit and Anand. When we go beyond the mind and intelligence we experience bliss, or , in other words, when the mind and intelligence sheaths are exposed the bliss sheath is visible, which is the same as connection with the atma or the Self. Till such time the Third Eye is not opened our consciousness remains lower down. (According to yoga it is awakening of the kundalani which takes the consciousness upwards). My blog http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/meditation/kundalini-risingwhat-is-the-best-method could be referred to. One need not wait for this to happen, however, if one can learn to connect with the Shabd or Aum as taught by a Realized guru, who after initiation can bring about the opening of the Third Eye directly without taking recourse to the kundalini. As we are aware, the Shabd or Aum is that vibration (comprising of sound and light) which is responsible for the creation of the entire universe and is the direct ‘link’ to God beyond creation. (kindly refer to my blog http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/meditation/aum-and-gayatri-mantrastheir-deeper-meaning for more details) When the Third Eye opens with the appreciation of “Aum”/”Shabd” it results in the appreciation of Sat or God which is associated with a sense of bliss also. The atma then must travels through five stages or Khands……namely dharma khand, karam khand, saram khand, gyan khand, and sach khand for complete merger with Him. Let us all try to achieve a state of Sat-Chit-Ananda and become one with that scintillating brightness which no one has ever been able to describe fully.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
It is said that ‘we are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a physical experience” (de Chardin). It stands to reason, therefore, that to remain healthy we need to be spiritual. Ayurveda believes that we become ill because we have lost our connection with Divinity . Forgetting our true nature is the root cause of disease leading us to commit “Crimes against wisdom”. What is good health? This a very pertinent question….we normally assume that since we are not suffering from any ailment, we must be healthy but this is not true! As defined by the WHO” Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” Unfortunately even this definition does not give a very clear picture of good health. A much better term is ‘Swastha” which means “established in the self” as envisaged by our ancient rishis. ’Swa” means self and ‘Tha” means established …..Hence swastha clearly tells us that being healthy has to have a spiritual component. How is our body related to Spirit? When the One decided to be many the The Lord covered our soul first with an idea body, then encased it with a very fine or subtle light(the astral body)and finally an illusionary fleshy form. The physical body is made of blood and flesh; the astral body is composed of life force and mind; and the causal or ideational body is woven together with wisdom and ever new bliss. The dense physical body is the result of solidified vibrations, the astral body of energy and mind vibrations, and the causal body of nearly pure vibrations of Cosmic Consciousness. Sri Paramhans Yogananda has said that when we are tasting, smelling, touching, listening, or seeing, we are working principally through our physical body. Visualizing or willing, we work mainly through our astral body. When thinking or diving deep in introspection or meditation, we are relating to our causal body. He goes on further to say that when we dream we remain in our astral bodies while when our sleep is deep and dreamless, we transfer our consciousness to the causal body. Our physical body is made of matter and is called the Sthula Sharir. The astral component of our ‘body’ comprises of Energy (Pranashakti) and Mind (Manas) and is called the Sukshma Sharir. The part derived from the Causal Body consists of Intellect or Budhi and Soul or Spirit. According to Yoga our body consists of five koshas based on their derivation as described above. The physical body is called the Anamaya Kosha, the Pranamaya kosha is the Energy body, while the Manomaya Kosha is the Psychological body. …both being parts of the Sukshama Sharir. The Vijanamaya Kosha is the Intelligence body followed by the Anandmaya Kosha or the Bliss Sheath, both being parts of the Causal Body. It is, therefore, clear that there is a cohesion between our Mind, Body and Spirit and all three must remain in balance for us to remain healthy. All these three are forms of energy. This further translates to the fact that for us to be healthy, there must be a free flow of energy (pranashakti) in our bodies along with a relaxed mind. Where has this energy come from? It has come from “Pranashakti’ (life force and a part of Cosmic Energy) which has been given different names in different religions eg The Holy Spirit, Christ Consciousness, chi(Chinese)ki (Japanese),etc. It is “prana shakti” which helped us to take form and shape inside the womb and brought “life’ to us. It, however, becomes dormant at birth as it has finished its job till that point. This has also been called Kundalini shakti and dwells at the base of our sushumna or spinal column or muladhar chakra from where it controls the entire physiological system through a network of 72,000 nerves. At the external level this prana shakti operates through the senses. Our physical body is sustained by a body of energy and contains a series of “energy centres’ located in the spine and head. These are actually five subtle vibratory forces into which the Creative force differentiates itself. Each of these ‘chakras’ or wheels are responsible for the functioning of different organs and systems of our bodies. (For more details about the chakras kindly refer to my blog http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/wellness/mantra-meditation-on-the-chakras-and-their-health-benefits The Movement of energy is normally from the brain down to the spine, through the peripheral nervous system and then from the extremities back to the spine and brain through a series of nerve centres. In a healthy person the flow of energy is unimpeded and positive throughout but if it is sluggish, blocked, damped or negative in one or more energy centres then the health is likely to be poor . Dr Richard Gerber, in his book, “Vibrational Medicine” has said “The body is a dynamic energy system where the mind and body are true sources of consciousness and emotions and spirit can influence via energetic and neurohumeral connections among mind, body and spirit” Our mind, therefore, too plays a very important part. Our Conscious Mind has birthed out of the Universal Superconscious mInd from where all thoughts arise, come to the Individual Superconscious (Atma), then to the Subconscious Mind and finally to the Conscious. The Universal Superconscious Mind is the same as God. It is clear that all thoughts arise from the Cosmic Mind. When we are in tune with “ourselves” we are in tune with the Cosmic mind. How we react to our thoughts is decided by our free will and to the Gunas of Prakriti, namely Satva, Rajas and Tamas. These gunas decide our psychological nature and the way we behave. If we are Satvic in nature we are more likely to have Divine qualities of purity and virtue because of which we are more likely to be healthy. If we are Rajasic we would be associated with wordly activities and passions, resulting in a greater likelihood of disease. A Tamasic temperament means laziness, inertia etc which is contributory to development of disease. From the above it is clear that we essentially have a Mind, Body and Spirit. A balance is necessary between the three for our wellness and wholeness. The soul or atma being part of God has godly qualities of universal love, compassion etc and teaches us to be good and constantly tries to take us back to Him but our conscious mind is always looking for sense pleasures and a tug—o-war ensues…the soul whispering to us about goodness and the mind shouting for pleasure…the net result is stress and disease. It is said that “Stress causes 50% of what kills us and 50% of what chronically disables us”(Dr Levy) When we face any stress(we experience a lot of it at the present time) ,our brain responds by secreting a lot of chemicals/hormone which leads to the “fight or flight” response. As a result blood flows more to the heart and large muscles and less to the digestive system and other vital organs. The immediate effects of this are a dry mouth, sweating, palpitations, increase in blood pressure, mental anxiety, enlarged pupils and sleeplessness. Along with there is an increase in heart beat, increased flow of blood and blood pressure, rapid respiration, more production of glucose from glycogen as a result of which more energy is available, while non essential actions like appetite, sleep, sex activity etc get reduced. When this happens day in and day out as a result of chronic stress, it leads to the development of Hypertension, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, peptic ulcer, poor digestion, autoimmune problems, glandular disease, poor healing, decrease in sexual drive, headaches, palpitations, loss of appetite, constipation etc. which in turn cause other complications. It can, therefore, affect almost any system in the body. Negative emotions like anger, jealousy, hatred, envy, worry, anxiety, depression, are harbingers of disease and have a lot to do with stress:”Negative emotions, persisting over a long period of time, can impair the immune system, thus lowering the body’s defenses against disease”(Norman Cousins). ”Peace of mind sends the body a “live’ message, while depression, fear and unresolved conflict give it a “die” message (Bernard Seigel ).He goes on to add that “the immune system simply can’t stand chronic gloom” Anger, hostility and depression play an important role in the development of Coronary Artery disease. We , therefore, create both good and bad. God has given the gift of ‘free will’ which we need to exercise for good use. This is where spirituality comes in. We know that the human body is a hologram of the universe, each part of the hologram contains the whole. Plato has said “The part can never be well unless the whole is well”. Gibran too says something similar ”In one drop of water are found all the secrets of the ocean”. To remain healthy we need to conform to Nature/Universe/Divinity. This wholeness is reminiscent of the famous Sanskrit Shloka: ‘Om purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat purnam udacyate Purnasya purnamadaya purnameva avasisyate” Meaning: ‘that Om (the Supreme Self) is full and wholeness itself. All that is around us is as full and whole (meaning ‘that’ and ‘this’ are really the same) From the wholeness comes out this wholeness. And after this whole is taken out from that whole what remains is also full and wholeness itself” To remain ‘Swastha’ we need to be spiritual. Spirituality means to know who you are. The original ‘you’ is full of compassion, kindness, universal love, empathy, wisdom, and free from any negative emotions due to the spark of Divinity in you. True healing, can occur only when we are close to ourselves. In the end i would like to add that when diseases do occur, it may be worthwhile to integrate(wherever possible) the “Complimentary Systems” of Medicine, namely, Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Energy Healing, and various practices of Meditation, Visualization and Forgiveness techniques, all of which are spirituality based, in addition to Western Medicine…..which only ‘treats’ as compared to the spirituality based systems which help in ‘healing’ and “cure’. We must, however, take into account that each of the systems have their plus and minus points.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Thisincident occurred almost fifteen years back and much before i had any idea about gurus and their grace. Now that i am on the path, my thinking has changed completely. A gentleman came in for admission for severe Coronary Artery Disease and needed grafting of two of his arteries. His ventricular functions were quite bad, placing him in the high risk category. i was to operate on him the following morning. While examining any patient before surgery him, it is customary for us surgeons to explain the procedure and to answer any queries he/she may have. Mr Kumar’s (name changed) question surprised me…he wanted to know whether we had generators in the Operating Room! i was taken aback as even in those days it was routine to have not only generators in the OR but also uninterrupted power supply as a backup for most of the important equipment…hence just laughed his question off. The operation started off well enough. In those days almost all heart bypasses were done by the conventional method in which the Heart Lung machine is used, based on the principle of draining all the impure blood from the heart, cooling and purifying it by oxygenating it and then pumping it back into the heart. The heart is “arrested’ electively, which means that it is made completely still by injecting certain solutions into the heart arteries, to facilitate the operative procedure. During this period the patient is virtually “dead’ …in very very deep sleep. Once the grafting is done, the heart usually comes back to ‘life” either by itself or is “shocked” back to life. ( At this point of time most of us operate using the“Beating Heart technique” in which the use of the Heart Lung Machine is dispensed with) The operation proceeded well till the grafting of the last coronary artery commenced. The heart was absolutely still , considered a very good sign of arrest, had completed about half of the anastomosis (suturing of the conduit to the lower end of the coronary artery) when suddenly the lights went off! There was total darkness in the OR and the generators failed to kick in! Pandemonium reigned. To make matters worse, the uninterrupted power supply also failed! At this point the patient was completely dependent on the heart lung machine for much needed blood to his brain and the rest of his body…but the machine had stopped working! There was no way he could survive. Another shock awaited me….the crank which can work the heart lung machine manually was nowhere to be found! Chaos reigned in the OR for God knows how long…i tried to complete the anastomisis with the help of a flash light…for whatever it was worth. After a few minutes, which appeared to be hours, i felt the patient’s heart start beating gently…ever so gently…i wondered whether i was confusing it with my own heart which was galloping like a horse! Soon the lights came back and the operation could be completed. Mr Kumar was shifted to the Recovery (an ICU where operated patients are nursed intensively). Though the operation had been completed, there was an extremely high possibility of serious of damage to his brain, kidneys and practically all organs of the body as none of them would have received adequate blood supply during the shutdown. Bracing myself for the worst i went to see him the next morning…lo and behold, i saw a smiling Mr Kumar lying comfortably in bed none the worse for the ordeal he had gone through. When enquired as to how he felt he asked me if the generators in the OR had worked! He then took out a picture of his Guru and asked me to keep it in my pocket at all times! i obliged him for many years till i found my own Guruji (or rather till my Guruji found me)! God does have a sense of humour when it comes to bringing non believers on to the ‘Path”!
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
To be able to relax completely is an art. So many methods have been described, from just sleeping, to sitting in silence, to listening to music, just closing one’s eyes, counting down from 30 to 1 but what is not talked about much is the method taught by our sages of yore…Yoga Nidra, which is a method in which one is fully conscious but relaxed completely. This is how it differs from sleep. Sleep may not relax us fully since the very moment sleep dawns, the dream state starts, the mind remains active and is not at peace. It is only during deep sleep that we achieve rest but how much of deep sleep do we manage to get? Yoga Nidra, on the other hand restores the mind to a state of tranquility and profound peace. Yoga Nidra is also known as ‘Chetan Nidra” and, in my experience is the best method for achieving complete relaxation. i, therefore, wish to share it with all of you. Yoga Nidra literally means “Sleeping Consciously” and is a state in between wakefulness and dreaming during which our subconscious and still deeper layers of our mind open up. These, as we are aware are very powerful levels of the mind, indeed. It thus brings about deep relaxation at all levels namely physical, psychological and mental and results in a higher level of energy in the body. It is at this stage that we become more amenable to suggestions and the subconscious mind, the obedient servant it is, ensures its attainment. Incidentally this is the stage which is used for “Hypnosis’ by Psychiatrists during ‘Hypnotic meditation” or Regression. During Yog Nidra our consciousness travels from one layer to another resulting in wonderful experiences. The Method: First Stage…resting in “Shavasana” Lie on the back, with the legs spread one and a half feet and arms a little away from the body and palms facing up, fingers spread out. Relax the body completely, close your eyes gently, and breathe slowly and deeply. Second Stage: Start observing the body with the mind’s eye…..as if a person standing way from you is observing you lying on the floor (it is like your atma observing your body). Direct your “mind’s eye” to the great toe of the right foot, followed by the second toe, then the third, the fourth and finally the fifth…all very very slowly. Look at the sole of the foot, the upper part, the calf of the leg, the thigh and the buttock. Turn your attention to the left foot and very slowly follow the same sequence from the big toe to the buttock. Keep relaxing the part or organ which you see with your mind’s eye. Now look at the centre of your abdomen, which is the seat of ‘Saman Pran” followed by all the internal organs, namely the stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen, intestines. This should then be followed by the right lung, the left lung, the pulsating heart, the right side of the waist, the left side. Then look at the spine from the lower to the upper end. Remember to relax whichever structure you see. Look at the right thumb of your hand, the second, the third, fourth and fifth fingers, the upper part of the palm, the wrist, front of the arm, elbow, the upper part of the arm and the shoulder. Similarly observe the left thumb, fingers, palm, arms etc in the same order. Divert the gaze of your mind’s eye to your throat, chin, teeth, the two nostrils, right and left ears, right and left eyes, right and left eyebrows, the space between the eyebrows and the crown of the head. Keep concentrating on each relaxed part of the body. The Third Stage…..Meditation on the Five Elements: You now need to meditate on the Five Elements or “tatvas” starting from the earth Element. Feel the heaviness of the bones, flesh, muscles and the skin. These represent the Earth Element. Basically there is no difference between the Earth element and the parts of our bodies represented by it. Try to appreciate the smell of the earth. Now think of the blood flowing in your arteries and veins flowing from the great toe to the crown of the head. These represent the Water Element. There is basically no difference between the outside water and the fluids flowing inside our bodies, therefore try to visualize the taste of water also. Come to the Fire Element now. Concentrate on the warmth (better expressed as “oonshrata”) present in your entire body. This is representative of the Fire Element. Body heat does not differ from the heat present in the environment, therefore, try to feel this warmth. Now gently concentrate on you inhalation and exhalation as this represents your Air Element which does not differ from the air you breathe. Feel this connection between your body and the environment. Gently observe the spaces in your body representative of the Space Element. Our body is completely “saturated” with space and does not differ from outside space. Try to feel the connection with the inner and outer space and also to appreciate the inner primordial sound, carried by the Space Element. Fourth Stage…Meditation on the “Super”Element: This “Super” Element gives rise to all the other Elements which are ephemeral in nature while this is permanent. Try to stay in this stage of Divinity for some time. Imagine a beautiful white (or golden) light surrounding you and feel it travelling down your entire body. The longer you can stay with it the more peaceful and relaxed you get. Fifth Stage….Meditation on your breathing: Concentrate on the process of breathing. Breathe deeply, draw the breath from the “foot” to the “crown” of your head while inhaling and vice versa while exhaling. Do this 6 to 7 times, and gradually sit up. It is important not to go to sleep during Yog Nidra as it would deprive you of all the benefits. Yoga Nidra is very similar to the process of feeling energy internally. As you observe every organ or part of your body, it is possible to observe and feel whether that part or organ is energy depleted or not. If so it indicates the presence of disease in that area, which can easily be “replenished” by transferring “cosmic” energy to it by the different methods of Energy Healing. It is like scanning your bodily energies from the great toe to the crown of your head. i have found it Yoga Nidra to be an extremely good tool for relaxation as well as meditation. It is also a great method for managing stress which is plaguing our lives. Since it relieves stress and anxiety it is greatly beneficial in heart disease as well. Those who practice Yoga Nidra find that their need for sleep decreases significantly. It is a wonderful method to practice for all of us. Source: ‘Asan And Yog Vigyan’ published by Bhartiya Yog Sansthan Seventh Edition 2008, “Miraculous Health” by Dr Rick Levy 2008,and The Internet.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
YesWe are always being taught that if we wish to connect with Him we need to connect with our selves. Even Jesus Christ said “Know Thyself”…but what is this “Self”? Most of the time we stumble since we ate not sure what this elusive “Self is! What is it after all? Volumes have been written about it but us most do not know what it is or whether it exists at all! We have been told that “The Self is one. Ever still, the Self is Swifter than thought, swifter than the senses. Though motionless, he outruns all pursuit. Without the Self, never could life exist”…….and further “The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self, Indivisible, untouched by sin, wise, Immanent and transcendent. He it is Who holds the cosmos together” ( Isha Upanishad). It has been considered so important that even the gods have found it difficult to understand it…what to say about us humans !This is brought out very clearly in the Chandogya Upanaishad, which i am briefy recapitulating. Prajapati, the great teacher said "The self is pure, free from decay and death, free from hunger and thirst, and free from sorrow. The Self desires nothing that is not good, wills nothing that is not good. Seek and realize the Self! Those who seek and realize the Self fulfill all their desires and attain the goal supreme. When Indra learned about this, he along with Virochana approached Prajapati, lived with him for thirty two years as they wished to realize the Self....but by the end of it they still felt that the self was the body. Prajapati told Indra should live with him for another thirty two years and that he would teach him more about the Self...this went on for many years till Indra had lived with Prajapati for a hundred and one years when he was taught that (among other things)"Those who know this Self and realize this Self obtain all worlds and all desires" The above mentioned quotes from the Upanishads are so beautiful but still we fail to translate them into their practical meanings. The following story as told my Respected Guruji makes the predicament we are facing abundantly clear. There was a lion cub which got separated from his mother. As luck would have it, he was then picked up by lambs and reared by them…he started behaving like a lamb as he had no concept of being a lion’s offspring and grew up like a lamb. One day a full grown lion passed by and was surprised to see this ”lamb” and went to it and tried to remind it that he too was a lion like him but the grown cub refused to accept it. The lion then took him to a pond and asked him to compare the reflections of both and told him that both of them looked alike. He then roared and asked the cub to do the same…when the cub roared himself he understood that he was not a lamb but a lion. This is the situation of most of us as we do not realize our true potential since we see ourselves as small while in reality we have immense spiritual power as we have been made in the image of God. This power only needs to be harnessed! So how did the Self come into being? The “Self” is integrally associated with the ‘Spirit”, which as we know is the same as God beyond Creation. Spirit has always existed, it has no birth, no death as it is immortal, it cannot be destroyed, is all powerful and just exists. When the Spirit , which is ONE decided to become many, it created this and so many other Universes, with a part of it in everything created. Hence there is a part of this spirit inside us too, our soul, or atma which is, therefore the reflection of Spirit inside us. This “atma” or soul is our true essence , a reflection of the Spirit and, therefore, our” core” which has all the “ingredients’ of the original spirit of which it is a part. It stands to reason, then that if we wish to merge with the Almighty, we need to realize that this atma is a part of God and that to find God we need to “connect” to the core of our” self”, the atma. It has been rightly said that “we are spiritual beings having a physical experience and not physical beings having a spiritual experience”….de Chardin Hence basically there is no difference between the Spirit and our Atma (read ‘Self’) except that we are not aware of it. The reason why we are not aware of it is because of our Ego (There are two types of egos which exist....the first is the Cosmic Ego, which has been given to us as a part of our evolution as for us to exist as humans we need to have an individuality, but when this sides with our body rather than the self, it creates the sense of separation...this is called the body identified ego ….a deterrent to spiritual evolution). Where is the Atma located? Our “Self” or Atma is located at the Third Eye or the Agya Chakra in between the two eyebrows. It is contained in five sheaths or “koshas” as described in yoga. We have an “Annamaya Kosha’(the food sheath), Pranamaya Kosha ( the Energy Body), Manomaya Kosha (Mental Body) Vijnamaya Kosha ( Intelligence Body) and finally the Anandmaya Kosha (the Soul or bliss body) . The agya chakra controls the Manomaya and the Vijnamaya Koshas and is related to the mind. The Agya Chakra, as we know has two petals (all chakras have a certain number of petals, each symbolic of some important aspect or the other). These two petals in the case of the agya chakra indicate “Atma’ and “Paratama”…..indicative of union of the two. What is this mystical “Third Eye”? We are aware that the human body has nine orifices…..two eyes, mouth, two nostrils, two ears, the excretory orifices, all of which open to the outside. The Third eye, however, is the tenth also called the ‘Daswa Dwar”, and opens to the Inside. When this actually opens to the “inside” meaning , the Manomaya and the Vijnamayaya Koshas have been transgressed and Atma is” layed open” in the “Anandmaya” kosha, the last sheath. Hence the Third Eye, is the flimsy veil which covers our “Atma” or “Self”. When this veil is “lifted” the Atma is free to go on its onward journey to merge with the Supreme Being or Paramatama. This Third Eye is also called “and”(the “a” here is pronounced as the letter a as in ‘anda or ‘egg”)’the border of human consciousness and Divine Consciousness. The chakras below this are associated with the body or “pind” while anything above the Agya chakra or the Third Eye is called ‘Brahmanda’. How does the Third Eye open? In order to achieve this four paths of Yoga (Union) have been described . Gyan, Bhakti, Karma and Raj Yoga. Unfortunately , a lot of controversy exists as to which path is the best, whether reading the scriptures alone, praying, doing action (Karma Yoga) or Meditation is the best. All the four paths lead to Union but as i understand, Raj Yoga is the best. No matter which path one follows ultimately one practices all four. If one sees someone becoming enlightened or becoming ‘Realized’ ( it means that he has “realized” or understood what “truth’ actually is and has achieved the connection with the Divine Being) by the other three methods…..this is because of him having meditated in his earlier birth and to have been born again in an advanced evolved stage and full realization occurred by any one of those methods in the present birth. Dhyan or Meditation, is the most effective method for opening the Third Eye, as taught by a Realized teacher. What happens when the third eye opens? The opening is associated with the “hearing” or appreciation of “Aum” or ‘Shabd”. This is the primordial sound which brought about the creation of this and all other universes and comprises of sound and light. When the Third Eye opens this “unstruck” sound or “Anhad Shabd” is “heard”…..this may either be appreciation of the various “sounds” or divine music or beautiful vistas may open up. As the atma travels higher and higher beyond the Third Eye through five different stages or “Khands”, namely Dharam Khand, Gyan Khand, Saram Khand, Karam Khand and finally Sach Khand……the sounds change along with the beautiful vistas and different coloured bright lights finally culminating into union with the Divine. The path travelled by the atma is simply beautiful and virtually impossible to describe. It is just like asking a dumb person to describe the taste of honey! The Shvetashvatara Upanishad describes some of these experiences as ‘They may see within them more and more light: Fireflies, lightning, sun, moon. These are signs That they are well on their way to Brahman” All the above experiences are associated with tremendous changes both in the human body as well as temperament. One becomes calm, wise, love for all beings becomes more and more pronounced, one becomes all powerful as one rises above Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mad and Matsya and one becomes “ONE” with everything and everyone, more and more humble till ego dissolves completely, the last “bastion’ so to speak, and the atma merges with the Parmatama and one loses oneself into Him …to remain in this state or, take on a form of a Being guiding and helping humanity from afar or come back again to act as beacons for seekers for their onward journey! “Aum”, “Shabd” or the “Holy Ghost” is the link between the self and Him…..and this connection is what we need to seek. Sources: “The Upnanishads” Eknath Easwaran, “God Talks to Arjun the Bhagwat Geeta” by Sri Parmahans Yogananda
Sunday, March 24, 2013
We are taught by spiritual teachers not to get attached and to “detach” ourselves from desires and sense pleasures if we wish to achieve spiritual progress. As a result, people have resorted to all sorts of practices like “tapas”, etc to achieve their aim. Many have left their homes seeking they know not what. Is this correct practice? When we do tapas, what are we achieving? We are merely punishing ourselves. If we just stop to think we realize that the human body has been given to us for a purpose and it is our divine duty to keep it well because “it is easier to hold the mind of God without distraction of pain”….Sri Paramhans Yoganandaji. This is one of the reasons why Yoga was devised…when the body is healthy it is easier to meditate without any distractions from the body. Of course, a disciplined yogi can still retain his calm and happiness even when suffering from physical pain. It is widely believed that our desires are a great obstacle to spiritual progress. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states “When all the desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal. When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal, here in this very life”.This is absolutely true but can suppressing them make us immortal? The answer is no because whenever we suppress anything it ultimately rears its ugly head again with a vengeance and we are back to square one. It is also said that the Universe runs on two basic principles…rita (meaning law, order etc) and renunciation or sacrifice. If the Universe has to run on renunciation, what is it that we need to renounce? Also what is, therefore, the true meaning of ‘detachment” or “renunciation”? The Gita tells us that in order to achieve salvation we need to renounce all mortal desires. What this actually means is that we need to renounce the fruits of our actions. We all need to perform our worldly duties as a sacrifice …”giving oneself to life” for this basic principle to be fulfilled. Not acting or doing something is certainly not the solution because act we must, since it is by our good actions that we manage to wash off our karmas. By just not doing anything we do not achieve this. By running away into the forest, away from worldly life fails to achieve this purpose. When meditating in a cave or living in a forest, we still have the demons of longings, passions, greed, sex propensities etc present in our minds …..which will burst forth again at an opportune moment. This is the reason why Sri Paramhans Yoganandaji says ”it is the better path to live in the world but not belong to the world” We are also taught that we should not get “attached” to anything lest we increase our longing and desires for sense pleasures. This again is true but is it practicable? The Bhagwat Gita has taught us that we should practice “titiksha” or imperturbability, something which the Greeks of old labeled as “stoicism”, meaning that pain or pleasure, sorrow or happiness should have no appreciable change in us, physically or mentally, that all events are good whether actually good or not (based on our understanding). How then do we achieve freedom from desires, cultivate “titiksha’ and remain free from the bondage of attachments? The only way to do that is to attach ourselves to Him. When we attach ourselves to the Almighty we automatically achieve all the desired results. This is possible when we follow Jesus Christ’s teaching “Seek and Ye shall find; knock and it shall open” meaning thereby, meditate on Him and seek Him with desperation, total surrender and complete love leading to the opening of the Third Eye at the centre of the forehead culminating in God union. To quote fellow blogger Mahin Ahsan ,(with my profound thanks) “Is He (not best ) who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon him…”(Quran 27:62) When we seek Him with all our heart and love, we achieve the connection with the primordial sound of Aum/ Shabd with the opening of our Third Eye. Our entire self opens to us, we gradually and surely “ascend” through various stages to the Divine. Our ascension is associated with freedom from desires, negative emotions, tamasic tendencies….we therefore, rise above all that is bad for us, slowly get wrapped in His warm embrace, enjoy the beautiful vistas of scintillating bright light and divine symphony.…finally losing our own entity by merging with Him……the drop becomes the ocean. Source: “God Talks With Arjun The Bhagwat Gita by Sri Paramhans Yogananda, “the Upanishads” by Eknath Easwaran
Friday, February 15, 2013
When we talk of death, we normally mean death of the physical body. As we are all aware, our body consists of a Sthula Sharir, or the physical body made of matter. In addition we have an Astral body also known as the Sukshma Sharir made up of “Prana” and the mind (manas). The third part is the Karan Sharir, or the Causal Body (as it is the cause of the other two), comprising of Intellect or Budhi and the Soul. When physical death takes place, it is the physical body and the prana which are affected, the other parts remain as they are. Thus our mind, intelligence and the Atma remain and we come back again in a new form based on our karmas and desires. (i shall refrain from elaborating about it in this blog as a lot has been written about it). There is another type of death…. true death as described by our sages. What is It? Perhaps the following story might explain it. There was a caged parrot which was very dear to its owner, who was a trader. The parrot was well trained and could talk quite a bit. The trader was going to another city for some work and, being kind hearted, he asked everyone if they wanted him to get anything for them…he asked his parrot too. The parrot just said, if you meet anyone of my kind, please give them my regards. The trader left and when he reached his destination, he found many parrots sitting on a tree. He called out to them and conveyed the message as requested by his parrot. Hearing the message, all the parrots flew off except an old one, who screamed …and dropped dead! The trader felt very sad as he thought, perhaps his parrot may have been related to this old one and he blamed himself for the old parrot’s death. When he came back, he told his parrot about what had happened. When the caged parrot heard the news, he asked the trader incredulously …”did he die”? The trader said ‘yes’. Hearing this…. he too died! The trader felt doubly sad and blamed himself again and cursed himself for having divulged the news of the demise of the old parrot. With a heavy heart he opened the door of the cage and took the parrot out. The parrot woke up and went and sat on a tree! The trader felt cheated and asked him why did you do this? The parrot replied that when the old parrot had died he had given a very strong message…that if you want to be free from your cage, you must “die”. Bulle Shah has said that this is a symbolic story…. a hint to all those who want to be “free”…go inside see the beautiful sights(part of spiritual evolution) and fly towards freedom. He has also said that one should ‘die while living”. Here the parrot symbolizes the atma which is trapped in the cage….like our atma is trapped inside our physical bodies. Let us explore this a little more. Those saints who can open their third eye, situated at the centre of the forehead, between the two eyes…..connect with themselves at will , leading to the merger of their consciousness with the Universal Conciousness. This is true death. “Saint Paul said, “I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Christ…..I die daily”. He could withdraw his life force and consciousness from the body into bliss (rejoicing) of Christ Consciousness. He could daily experience the state of conscious death when the soul does away with body consciousness and its physical and mental restlessness and activity, and the breath and heartbeat slow down to almost nothing or cease altogether. After mastering the breathless superconscious state , the soul can ascend and make contact with the Christ Consciousness and return again to the body….switching the life force on and off at will from external bodily senses and activity’ (Sri Paramhans Yogananda) Real Death, therefore, means not only extinction of the physical body, but also the dissolution of the two other bodies, namely the astral as well as the causal bodies. Hence death is applicable to these three bodies. Let us remember “Die before you die so that you don’t need to die again”!(Bulle Shah) ....mystical but so true! The best way to “Die while living’ is to internally connect with the Shabd/Aum, gifted to us by a Realized Guru…..and bask in the glory of the soothing divine music and the ever so beautiful and breathtaking vistas of the beyond….nay the inner self! Sources: My Guruji and “The Second Coming of Christ” by Sri Paramhans Yogananda.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Volumes have been written about this so common but abstract word…but do we actually know what it is? We have been made to believe that it is something which is very bad…but is that really so? What is it after all? All of us have an ego but do not know that we have it. It is difficult to define it but this small story may be able to explain it. There was a king who prided himself on being very knowledgeable. He had read a lot about the Ego but had not understood what it was. He , therefore ordered that a learned man be produced before him to explain to him as to what it was. Unfortunately no one could be found despite a wide spread search till someone mentioned the name of a very wise old man, who was produced in the king’s court. The king asked him to explain what Ego meant…the old man roared with laughter and made fun of the king for not knowing what it was! The king got angry at being laughed at but asked him the same question again. The old man laughed even louder and said that he had never heard such a foolish question in his life before. This so enraged the king that he ordered the wise old man to be beheaded. The old man laughed again and told the king that he had given a practical example of ego by behaving the way he had. My Guruji puts it so beautifully…if there are three things, my ego, myself and God…..what happens when the ego is removed? Then only God remains! This is because ego is the biggest barrier between me and Him….when the ego disappears then my Self merges into Him. The above relate to the body identified ego…which affects most of us. If Ego is really so bad, then why has God created it? The genesis of Ego. According to the Sankhya Philosophy of Creation, Purusha, which is the male but passive counterpart, and Prakriti, which is the female active principle,( Mother Nature/Holy Ghost) together, lead to the development of Mahad or Mahat or Intelligence/Awareness or Buddhi. This gives rise to Ahamkar or Ego. This Ego is responsible for the genesis of the three Gunas of Prakriti, namely Sattva , Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is responsible for the Mind, the five sense faculties, namely ears, skin, eyes, tongue, nose, and the five motor organs, which are mouth, hands, feet, reproductive organs and the excretory organs, while Tamas is responsible for the Five elements or Tattvas…Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Ego, therefore, is our sense of self identity and the seat of our consciousness. This is the Universal Ego, which is supposed to be identified with the Self. What does Ego do? For any action to take place, first and foremost a body is needed and the second requirement is the presence of the ego, or the pseudo soul, which enthrones itself in the body, senses, mind and intelligence. For any activities to be directed or executed, this “I-ness’ is essential. What is then, the real purpose of the Ego? Ego is actually a divine manifestation when it identifies itself with the soul. It uses the various instruments of the body and mind to interact with the manifestations of creation. On the other hand when it identifies itself with the senses it becomes the body destroying ego. According to Sri Yoganandji ‘When identified with the subtle instruments of perception and knowledge in the astral body, the “I-ness” becomes a clearer sense of being…when it expresses through the pure intuitive wisdom, the instrument of the causal body, it becomes the pure discriminating ego(divine ego), or its highest expression the soul, the individualized expression of Spirit. The soul, the purest individualized sense of being knows its Spirit-identity of omniscience and omnipresence, and merely uses the instruments of the body and mind as a means of communication and interaction with objectified creation” In other words, Ego has two parts, one identifies with the body while the purer form is identified with the astral and causal parts of our bodies. If the Astral ego identifies with the sense organs it becomes the “pseudo soul”and rules us, and actually gives us a false personality, but if it remains in its pure form it remains in conformity with the wisdom consciousness of the causal body. The pseudo soul gives us a false personality. A classic example is Bhishma Pitamah in the Mahabharat... Sri Yoganandji has called Bhishma Pitamah as Universal ego… here he has been symbolized as the astral or inner seeing ego (which is the consciousness identified with manas, buddhi and chitta). But this astral ego, in Bhishma’s case, has been strongly affected and identified with the outward pull of the sense mind and sided with the Kauravs, but when Bhishma was in samadhi this astral ego became more transcendant and ultimately became part of the pure being. His was the divine ego originally which identified with the senses and he sided with the Kauravs, later, however, he went into samadhi when he achieved union with the pure being. This also goes to prove that ego is very difficult to annihilate. The purpose of the ego, therefore, is to hold together, along with the soul, the body, life force and consciousness, which are three different rates of vibration. Ego, therefore, has been given to us for ident ifying ourselves with the Self or soul….but we misuse it and convert this divine form into the pseudo soul which takes us away from Divinity. Body identified ego is very difficult to kill…our Hindu Scriptures have said “When this ‘I’ will die, then will I know who am I”. In other words, ego is that bubble that separates the drop from the ocean, when the bubble bursts the drop becomes the Ocean…and for that to happen one needs to transgress the Conscious and Subconscious minds and go into the Individual or Universal Superconsciousness through meditation. We, therefore, need to identify with the divine ego and rise above the physical ego. Sources: “God Talks to Arjun The Bhagwat Gita” and “The Second Coming Of Christ” by Sri Paramhans Yoganand and “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Remedies’ by Vasant Lad.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Human life as we are told is invaluable and has been achieved through His immense kindness. It has been bestowed upon us for us to learn, experience and progress to ultimately merge with Him. Life is a continuum and the human body is multidimensional….. with myriads of factors coming into play for it to run smoothly…but smoothly it runs only when delicately balanced. How is this delicate balance achieved? To understand this we need to start from the beginning…. Creation. As we are aware, the human body as well as the entire Universe came into being through a vibration comprising of sound and light, called ‘Aum”, ‘Shabd”, “Amen”,” Ameen” or “Hum”. The human body formed through what is called “Pranashakti’ also known as “Chi” or “Ki’.This pranashakti, after giving birth to us lies dormant at the base of the spine, at the Muladhar chakra from where it controls the functioning of the human body through a network of nadis. As pranashakti descends down it divides into a number of energy centres called chakras, which are “wheels” and are spiritual and energy processors, each related to an endocrine gland and concerned with the regulation of the functioning of the various systems of the body. They are also related to the five elements or ‘tattvas” and store specific types of emotional memories. These chakras, therefore keep the energy flow of the body in balance…the flow of which is normally positive, but whenever it becomes negative or blocked imbalance of the chakra results leading to the development of various diseases in the body. We are also aware that this entire creation has been formed by five elements…Earth (Prithvi), Water, (Jal) Fire,(Tejas), Air (Vayu) and Ether (Akash).The human body is also derived from the same elements. Every cell of the human body is represented by all the five elements….the cell wall is formed from the Earth element, the vacuoles in the cell from Space, the cytoplasm from the Water element, Nucleic acids from Fire and cell movement is due to the Air element. Human beings and Nature are thus interconnected….our bodies are holograms of the Universe (each part of a hologram contains the whole). To quote Kahlil Gibran “In one drop of water are found all the secrets of the ocean”. Our sages tell us “As is the atom, so is the Universe; As is the microcosm so is the macrocosm; As is the Human body , so is the Cosmic Body; As is the Human mind so is the Cosmic Mind;” Elsewhere, the same thing has been expressed as “As above, so below” We, human beings as well as everything else in Nature bear an integral relationship. The five elements or Tattvas combine into three basic energies or functional principles, present in all of us in varying degrees. In other words they are responsible for Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Space or Ether (Anahat and Vishudhi Chakras) form Vata, Fire (Manipur chakra) forms Pitta. Kapha is constituted by Water and Earth elements (Muladhar and Svadisthan chakras). These have been called “Doshas” in Ayurveda. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are present in each and every cell…when in balance, they create health but when imbalanced they cause disease. These doshas are responsible for the variety of our individual differences, preferences, our eating habits as well as the various biological and psychological processes of our mind, body and consciousness. Very briefly, Vata is the principle of Air and is the energy of movement, while Pitta is the principle of fire which is responsible for the energy of digestion and metabolism. Kapha, being the principle of water is the energy of lubrication and structure. Each of these have quite specific characteristics, for example, a person who has a predominance of Kapha is generally heavy or obese with a fine skin , beautiful eyes, is stable (grounded), happy and has a graceful walk. A Pitta, on the other hand has a sharp intellect, ambitious, an overachiever, has a pronounced hunger and can see “ahead”. A person with a Vata personality is generally thin, very intelligent, creative, has a good grasp of things but forgets easily. The whole of life’s journey is also divided into three major milestones. From birth to age 16 is the Kapha period, from 16 to 50 years is the age of Pitta while from 50 to 100 is the age of Vata. Seasons have also been classified according to the doshas. The windy, cool, dry weather of autumn is predominantly vata, followed by the dark, heavy, damp, cloudy qualities are Kaphic in nature. Early spring is still mainly Kaphic but late spring and summer are Pittic, characterized by increased warmth, light and brightness…and heat. Similarly, the various times of the day and their effect on the human body have been described in detail in Ayurveda…. Kapha predominates from 6 am to 10 morning and evening, Pitta is dominant between 10 to 2, afternoon and night while Vata is at its peak at dawn and dusk. Living in accordance with these principles and moulding ourselves accordingly brings a proper balance to our lives. There is a lot of truth in the saying “early to bed and early to rise makes Jack healthy, wealthy and wise”! The Cycles of Nature are responsible for our Biorhythms which create the basic vibratory backbone of our existence…namely the beating of the heart, pulsation of the cerebro spinal fluid, the menstrual cycle etc. There are many such examples…the two hour shift between right and left hemispheric dominance (of the brain)…our breath regulates this and there is a distinct shift of our mindset from linear to intuitive depending on the shift of our breath from one side to the other(the nasal cycle) It is well known that when we are born, we are born with a particular “prakriti”, which is a unique and specific combination of the three doshas at conception, which is one’s psychobiological temperament and does not change during one’s life time. It is decided by the person’s combination and proportion of Vata, Pitta and Kapha and is determined according to the genetics, diet, life style and current emotions of the parents. Incidentally, the five “Mahabhutas” as these elements are called form part of practically all Complementary Systems of Medicine, be it, Ayurveda, Chinese, Tibetan, Thai or Unani Medicine, Yoga etc, though the names are somewhat different. As life progresses, a lot of changes take place in the balance of the doshas in our body due to weather, dietary choices, fatigue, stress, emotional state, exercise etc . All these factors alter the state of our doshas and reflect the state of health …this is called Vikriti. Prakriti has certain ‘gunas’ called the ‘gunas of Prakriti’ which are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. It is these gunas which decide how we behave since each has certain typical characteristics. Sattva is characterized by purity and virtue, and related to the Spiritual Eye or the Agya chakra, Rajas is concerned with passion and worldly activities and related to the Heart centre or the Anahat Chakra. Tamas is characterized by inertia, pride, arrogance and evil tendencies and related to the lower three chakras, namely, Manipur, Svadisthan and the Muladhar chakras. All of us have a mixture of all three but one or the other predominates. As per Yoga, our body has five parts, or sheaths or “koshas” which are known as the Annamaya Kosha or the “Sthula Sharir’, (the Physical body), the Energy body or the Pranamaya Kosha, (the Physiological Body), the Manomaya Kosha (the Psychological Body)…these two together constitute what is called the “Sukshma Sharir”/Astral Body. This is followed by the Vijnanmaya Kosha (the Intellectual Body) and finally the Anandmaya Kosha, or Bliss Sheath (Space). The last two are together called the ‘Karan Sharir’ or the Causal Body. In a nutshell, the human body thus has a Mind, a Body and Spirit…all being ENERGY, which must remain in balance. Generally there is a tug-o-war between our mind, body and spirit….the mind is forever pulling us towards sense pleasures while the spirit tries to take us towards Him…the resulting pull is detrimental to our healths. Ayurveda states that the purpose of our lives is achieved by balancing four fundamental aspects of life, namely, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. ‘Dharma’ broadly means duty or right action, “Artha” is material success or wealth, “Kama” is positive desire while “Moksha’ is spiritual liberation. For all these to be possible, sound health is essential. From the above, it becomes clear that to maintain a balance in life there has to be a balance between our Mind, Body and Spirit, which is the Inner and the Outer, between the Self and the Environment, between the three Doshas…Vatta, Pitta and Kapha, between our Energy flow and our chakras, between our Prakriti and Vikriti, and last but not the least a balance of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. How is this to be achieved? All of the above are possible by connecting to the Self…through Yoga (as in “Union’). This union is best achieved through meditation as learned from a Realized guru. Ashtanga Yoga too plays a very important role….all the eight “petals’ slowly but surely lead one to the yoga of union. Yoga asanas and Pranayam bring about a balancing of the chakras leading to balancing of our energy system. This combined with Meditation gradually leads us through our spiritual evolution…we transgress the negative aspects of the chakras which occur when they are imbalanced…namely transgressing the Muladhar Chakra gives us freedom from fear and brings about grounding, balancing of the Svadisthan Chakra makes us rise above our five major negative qualities…Kama, Krodha, Lobh, Moh, Madha and Matsya, ie we rise above our Tamasic temperament by transgressing the two lower chakras. Transgression of the Manipur chakra makes us rise above our Rajasic temperament. As we ascend to the Anahat or the Heart Chakra, positive emotions of Bliss, peace, love, harmony, understanding, clarity, purity, compassion, empathy, forgiveness and unity come to the fore. This combined with ascension to the Vishudhi Chakra brings us closer to the truth and one becomes sattvic in temperament. Similarly meditation helps us gradually transgress the various koshas…. When we meditate, the first thing that happens is improvement in physical well being, followed by harmonization of the breath (the pranamaya kosha). The two together lead the development of a strong body and strong will power. As meditation becomes deeper and deeper, our breathing becomes slower and slower, and tranquility of the mind starts, which is conducive to focusing on the Self leading to beautiful experiences.With still deeper meditation, we reach the level of the Vijnamaya Kosha or the Intelligence sheath, resulting in greater development of wisdom….finally with still deeper meditation, we reach the level of the Bliss sheath which is supposed to be the ultimate…..merger with Him. Yoga and Meditation increase our awareness, which helps us in our eating habits, our life style, our mental processes, and brings us closer to the Divine all of which are conducive to balancing our mind, body and spirit….and enable us to live in conformity with Nature. Therefore, in order to truly ‘live’ one needs to be in balance……just ‘Be” Sources: “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Remedies’ by Vasant Lad, ‘Radical Healing” by Rudolph Ballentyne, “The Spiritual Approach to life” written by Sri Bimal Mohanty