Enlightening Articles on Meditation and Yogic Science
 

The Vision of Oneness: Peace Alone Is Everywhere
by Shree (Sherrie Wade)

As soon as we open our eyes  we become aware of all of the separate forms around us. We become aware of our own body that appears as a form separate from other bodies. Therefore, the concept that we are all one can be confusing to the beginning meditator. The system of yogic philosophy called Advaita Vedant, with writings by the Shankarchariyas, the great yogi Sages, and others, is that all is one reality without any division. One without a second! If we examine this further, we know that when we were in the womb we were one with our mother as we were in her body, but as soon as we are born then our body is separated from our mother's body. At that point we become a separate body or person. As an infant we did not know ourselves as separate but very quickly we were told: “These are your eyes, these are your ears, this is your mouth, and this is your name.” You are told that the body is who you are and that you have a mind that has to develop through studying and learning. 

When you go to school you are told that you have a mind and a brain and that some students are smarter than others. You are told that you are a person with a name given to your form and by this name you are called everyday for attendance. You are told that you have to listen, study, and do well on the tests to evaluate how studious or how smart you are. You are told that you have to work hard in order to retain and memorize the information that is presented. At the end of the semester you are given a report card to know how you have progressed and to alert your parents to your progress or lack of progress. If you do well then you are considered successful and if you get a “D” you are told that you failed. From this failure you may conclude that you are dumb for failing. It soon becomes clear that it is you, this body with a mind, who fails or succeeds. 

When we study world history we find out that there have been many wars and battles throughout history in order to have peace in the world. More people have been killed in the name of peace then in any other way. Yet, the world keeps going on with the basic premise that peace can be found by getting people to agree. The belief is that there will be peace only if there are basic agreements about human rights and property. From this idea as soon as there is disagreement there is conflict and conflict leads to anger and anger leads to war. Even those who march against the war go home and argue and fight with their own family members. 

If family members are not at peace, and if each person is not at peace within him or herself, then how can their family be at peace and not argue or fight? If families are not at peace then how can their neighborhood, community, city, country and world not have arguments, wars and battles? From the flawed system of creating peace, that has been prevalent in the world, we can see that a new method is needed. We need a method that is based on inner peace, or Oneness, and not on division. When there is division agreement is required in order for people to get along. A new system is needed whereby you would no longer separate your own body and mind from the source. That source is the source of all, so then agreement is not necessary as all diversity comes from one same source. Just like, all the different aspects of water such as the bubbles, steam, waves, whirlpools, foam, etc., are all manifestation of the same water or H2O. 

When you do not know that the source is the same in all, then you will harbor jealously and fear in order to get all that you need for yourself. Meeting your personal needs for peace and happiness may even involve cheating or lying to others as the human condition is filled with desire, lust, greed, attachment, and ego. When you begin to divide yourself from your own source, and do not see others as coming from that same source, then, this division continues and you can never be fully at peace. 

To bring about this new method of bringing peacefulness to humanity, we have to first understand what the Vision of Oneness is and what Oneness is not. Oneness is not sameness. It is very apparent that all things, forms, people, beliefs, ideas, are different manifestation and therefore not the same. So when we say that we are all One, this does not mean that we are all the same. Many cultures, schools, and institutions that have used this idea by declaring that everyone should be as one, so they think that if we dress the same and do not have our personal freedom that this will make everyone live equally without jealousy and resentments. But true Oneness has nothing to do with sameness. Oneness is not on the level of forms, bodies, or personalities. It is totally clear that with seven billion people each one has a different face, different cells, different genetics, and a very different upbringing so there is no sameness on that level of form or of individual people and personalities. 

Then what is the meaning of Oneness? The answer to this question can only be seen when you close your eyes, since the human mind cannot know Oneness. When the physical vision is shut down from seeing all the forms and things around you, you will see the space in front of your closed eyes. This space is the space of meditative awareness, or a higher state of consciousness. This is the same space that everyone sees. In this space there is no division. Therefore, in the space of meditation there is no division. As soon as you use your senses to see or feel your body, mind, personality, or that of others, then you have divided the space. In the Vision of Oneness there is only space. Out of that one Pure Space, or Pure Consciousness, the innumerable forms are all created. Just like a potter makes many pots out of the earth or clay but they are all made from the same one substance. A multitude of pots in all designs, colors and sizes can be made, but the clay always remains clay. In the same way, the ocean is always ocean water even when there are waves, bubbles, and even icebergs that form out of the same substance. No matter how many forms develop it always remains the same  ocean water. 

Now, how can you apply this to the Vision of Oneness? We have to become aware that we are all made of the same space or consciousness and, out of that one space, there arises the five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements move together in various formations and become all the planets, stars, mountains, plants, oceans, people, houses, cars, furnishings, etc. But as they are all made of the same substance they are all emanating from space. Therefore, they are all space. Just like all the clay pots are all clay, or all the forms of the ocean water are all ocean water. Even though we appear to be separate human beings, with bodies and minds, in essence we are all Pure Space. Science tells us that even though forms appear to be solid they are 99.9% space. Therefore, the vision of duality or form consciousness is an illusion to the human senses. Just like if you see a snake and get afraid only to find out later that it was just a rope. When you know that the snake is an illusion you are not afraid that it will bite you. Your body is like your car or instrument of perception. You know your car is not you, so in the same way you can know that your body is not the real You. Thinking that your body is the only “you” is the illusion. When you believe yourself to be only the body that was born then you fear that one day you will die. 

To know the Vision of Oneness rather than the vision of duality, or illusory consciousness, you need to turn your attention in meditation into the Pure Space that we all are. This pure vision of space, is seen by the inner vision or inner eye, (sometimes called the third eye) as it cannot be seen by the human or physical eyes. This third eye has the ability to perceive all the multiplicity of people and things as One, Pure Space. When we look at another person with our eyes they appears to be separate and we can easily see the different physical appearances, cultures, socio economic backgrounds, upbringings, education, etc. We can listen to their point of view, which may be similar in some ways and different to our point of view in many other ways. Therefore, oneness can never exist on the level of two. As long as you see someone else as another, or as a form and personality, then there can never be the sense of Oneness. 

Oneness is the inner vision that sees everyone as Pure Consciousness, Pure Existence, and Pure Beingness. With this vision you see what is illusory and what is truth. You see the rope and you are not afraid that it is a snake. Which means that you see the Pure Consciousness that we all are, at our source, and not just the forms. Therefore, you can accept all the differences and not expect anyone to be the same as you. This is a great help in relationships. When there are two different people relating to each other, the two minds cannot, and will not, always agree. Each person comes from a different family upbringing, has a different genetic makeup, a very different past experience, education and life experiences, so each one will have inherent differences. The conflict that occurs in relationship is all based on wanting someone else to think and behave the way that you do, or the way that you think that they should behave so that you can feel easy, happy, or relaxed. This desire to have that type of sameness is impossible so of course many relationships fail. When each partner expects the other person to make him or her feel secure and happy, this becomes impossible as security and happiness can never be totally achieved outside of the Vision of Oneness. Permanent or the never changing inner sense of security and happiness only comes from the Vision of Oneness. 

The Vision of Oneness only comes about when you do not divide the space into two: one as space and two as its manifestation or forms. As from this division you begin to see the two as separate. Through meditation you begin to see everyone and everything as one reality. Rather than seeing the physiological differences, you tune into the space or Pure Consciousness, which is unchanging and is forever one. The physical eyes have no choice but to see, different colors, shapes, sizes, and nationalities, etc. but the inner vision sees only the space from where it all arose. Space alone is everywhere. When you start to see with this vision then you remain at peace within yourself and then, and only then, can this inner peacefulness spread to your family, community, country, world and to all humanity. 

When you meditate and see with your expanded vision, the Vision of Oneness, you see one Being. You do not see yourself as separate from anyone or anything. 

Therefore, this is not even awaita, or non duality, because that is still opposite to dwaita, or duality. There is no duality to start with, as there is only Oneness. When you see it is a rope you never again say that it was a snake, you now always see it as a rope. You don't have to first see a snake and then say it is not a snake it is a rope, so now you don't say it was two or divided and now it is Oneness. You see it as it is and as it will always be. Illusion by definition means it was never there. In the Vision of Oneness you maintain your human experience of what to do that is best for you and your love ones; and the discriminative faculty to know who to talk to, who to spend time with, what is best for you to eat, and what you need to accomplish in your life. You do not loose your sense of the duality that is inherent  in the waking state, as that is its nature. You know who you love and who your family members are, and who you give care to and who needs to be put in jail so they can no longer harm others. You do not loose anything, as instead, you gain everything! Now you are empowered with a higher vision that includes it all. If you become a millionaire you don't have to forget where your first dollar came from. 

In yogic thought we say Om Shaanti. This means that the Om, or universal space of all that there is shaant, or peaceful. When all is still, like when the air or ocean water is still, then it is all peaceful. So it is the movement of water that creates the waves and the movement of air that creates the gale force winds, and it is still the same water and air that remains in all it movements or manifestations. In the same way all the thoughts, beliefs and desires of the mind are made of the same consciousness that you are. When you are still or unmoved, such as in meditation, you know the peace that always remains with you, as this peace is at the source of your mind. When the mind returns to its source in meditation, or when your attention goes to what exists behind the mind's thoughts, then there is peace. This is the reason you are always at peace when you are in deep sleep as there is no wavering of your mind in the deep sleep state. This peacefulness while you are awake is a state of consciousness, called the forth, or meditatve state. This forth state permeates all the other states, so when you live in your very own forth state of consciousness you always live in your own peace, and that is Oneness. When everything is absorbed back into the Pure Space of meditation, what remains is Pure Peace. Om Shaanti, Om Peace. The one who is peaceful creates a space of peace wherever he or she goes. May this peace be with you always!  you always! 

 
 
Opening of the Higher Consciousness Through Praanaayaam
Excerpt from, In the Stillness of Breath, Praanaayaam for Meditators
by Brijendra

As the air moves in currents in the atmosphere, or water moves in currents in a lake or ocean, so in the human system praan, too, moves in currents. The channels of these currents are called naadis. The naadis range from physical channels, such as arteries, veins, and nerves to subtle channels which, though unseen, exist and are vital to the living manifestation of a human being. In the natural, externally focused growth and development of a human being, life is considered to be dependent upon the physical channels, as seen, felt, known through the five senses. But these physical channels are manifestations of subtler currents of praan. When a person takes up yog saadhanaa, he or she is purifying the naadis, and this purification will progress from the more physical to the subtler or inner aspects of the person.

When the naadis are refined and purified, the praan flows unimpeded, becoming concentrated, and it enters the sushumnaa naadi where it rises up through the various dimensions, or chakras, of praanic existence. If the praanic naadis are blocked, due to impurity in the system such as too much tamas and rajas, the praan is unable to become concentrated and fine, and so cannot enter the extreme subtlety of the sushumnaa channel, which is not a physical place. This is why the praan has to be refined through saadhanaa. In this way the yogi's development is from physical to praanic to conscious being. Ida, pingalaa, sushumnaa naadis The three main naadis (which according to various accounts range from 72,000 to several hundred thousand) are ida, pinagla, and sushumnaa. Ida: The channel of the moon, or chandra; cooling or cool, left side, pale, receptive, passive. Pingalaa: The channel of the sun, or soorya; hot, right side, active, instigating. Sushumnaa: The supreme channel, neither right nor left, neither hot nor cool, neither active nor receptive; the channel of bliss and of higher, transcendent consciousness. Sushumnaa is the most important of all the naadis; however, it only becomes known when kundalini awakens and begins to rise into the sushumnaa. Until then the kundalini shakti is dormant and is manifesting through the channels of ida and pingalaa, alternating between the two. In the normal human state, the praanic flows will sometimes accentuate the left, ida, side and at other times accentuate the right, pingalaa, side with the result that a person shifts throughout the day and night between the more receptive, cooling, passive states and the more active, heating, aggressive states.

It should be noted that the practice of Anulom Vilom Praanaayaaam, or Alternate Nostril Breathing, is specifically designed to balance these otherwise dynamically shifting energies. When ida and pingalaa are balanced, the praanic shakti, flowing neither left nor right, nor active nor passive, is in the sushumnaa channel, which actually is not in time and space. Although sushumnaa is like pure space, neither hot nor cold, active nor passive, time nor space–due to lingering patterns of identification––there may be experiences triggered when the praan's shakti enters the sushumnaa at the base of the spine and begins to rise up through the dynamic dimensions of one's being called chakras. When the praan shakti, having become awakened as kundalini shakti, rises, awakened and alert, up into the highest, purest space at the crown chakra or sahasraar, the purity is complete, and consciousness is established in its true nature as one indivisible Self. However, on the way to this state of one's true indivisibility, the kundalini shakti may trigger experiences as it passes through and liberates the levels of bound or contracted dynamism. It is due to the infinite power of kundalini, passing through the previously bound, dynamic chakras, that the releasing of bound experience is sometimes described as transcendent experiences or celestial experiences or extreme releases of energy and emotion. When a river is in flood, everything in the way of that dynamic surge is whirled and churned when the energy of the flood touches it. Branches, tree trunks, rocks, rubbish, all are swept along, and these blockages create whirls and waves in the river water. It is a cleansing process. If there are no blockages, the flood passes through unimpeded. It is a similar situation with the kundalini shakti. When there are blockages or impurities in the system, the flood of kundalini shakti will be experienced as a churning up of those bound and limited perceptions of one's self. This results in all kinds of experiences, many of which will vary from individual to individual according to the mind. Some will be transcendent, celestial experiences; some will be churnings of all kinds of emotions such as love, fear, etc.

If the system is quite pure the kundalini shakti encounters no impedance and the result is like a pure infinite space of consciousness. Given this fact, yog saadhanaa, in the form of Ashtaang Yog, as described by Shree Patanajli, may be viewed as a preparation as well as a triggering of the awakening of kundalini. For the yogi this is the importance of praanaayaam; that is it both prepares the yogi for the opening of kundalini vastness and it triggers the opening awakening of kundalini. Praanaayaam accomplishes the two fold process of purifying the naadis from the physical to the subtle and awakening the kundalini shakti. In the beginning of praanaayaam practice, it is generally not realized how powerful, effective, and wide-ranging the practice of praanaayaam is; but as one continues in the practice, it is revealed how pervasive praan is and how effective the practices of praanaayaam are at tuning us into our praan, which ultimately is universal praan, not just individual. It is for this reason that the practicing yogi takes up a steady and persistent practice of praanaayaam, daily or a few times daily. This steady persistence in the practice builds up the power of the praan, which is a subtle field of existence. Although initially this steady build up and concentration of the praan may go unnoticed by the physically oriented mind of the beginner, he or she should stick to a continued practice of praanaayaam, in the received knowledge, passed down through thousands of years, that the steady practice of praanaayaam will indeed bring about the opening and awakening of kundalini and the resulting opening of the Highest Consciousness.

 
 

The Waking State is but a Dream:
  All is One Self–Pure Being

by Shree, Sherrie Wade, M.A.
Director of Transformation Meditation Online Institute

In the dream we see others but we are the dreamer, the creator of the dream, and we create all of the dream figures. We can even watch, if alert, how the inner eye forms a figure and then dissolves it. We are seeing with the inner eye, in the same way that we see in the waking state with the physical eyes. Just like an artist creates a painting or a sculpture, we create our own dream from pure space. Even though we are asleep with our eyes closed, the images get formed and we see all of the scenes (sometimes in full color) and all of people of our creation. The Pure Consciousness that we are, creates all the dream figures. They're created from that same Me! And all the figures in the dream are, therefore, the same Me.

When we wake up we say that the dream was our imagination or subconscious. We might even try to get some insight or direction from the dream. As soon as we wake up into the waking state we cancel the dream and say that it was not the reality. When the waking state appears and we again see all the scenes and people we now say: “This waking state is the reality. I am a separate person, with my life and qualifications, problems, fears, worries and doubts and some joys and accomplishments. I am living in a world of many other people.” Yet for six to eight hours during the night these thoughts were not there, and during the dream state another imaginary reality was considered real.

In the waking state you like and enjoy some people but do not enjoy or like others. Sometimes you say you love someone, but when that loved one does not do what you like - how your mind tells you that he or she should act or express - then you say that you do not love that person anymore. You can even begin to hate that person. How can someone love another so much that they marry him or her and then, when they're divorced, say they now hate that person? Was there ever love to begin with?

When you close your eyes what you see as the world disappears. When you open the eyes the forms and figures reappear and the world reappears for you. When you are in deep sleep the mind is not functioning in the same way as in the waking state. You have no problems, pains, joys, successes or failures when you are in deep sleep. Yet, you are not dead. If someone calls your name or a fly buzzes around your head then you would wake up and tend to it. So you, the awareness pure, is always there and it is that pure awareness that puts you to sleep and wakes you up in the morning. Without your conscious mind deciding to do it, your heart beats, your blood flows, and your food digests. So who is that you that is doing it all? You, the Pure Awareness or Pure Consciousness, are there in deep sleep. You are there in the dream and You are there in the waking state. You alone are forever present as the Pure Awareness that you are. That You, or Me, is who we truly are and not just the mind and personality that forms only in the waking state and begins to say that I am doing it all.

I remember when my father was in bed at Hospice, during his final days. His ego mechanism, which was so strong throughout his life, could no longer keep itself in tack. He now just emanated Pure Space alone. At that time I had the most wonderful connection with the Being that he always was. I could be with him, the purity of consciousness, without the traps of the ego-identity that was making itself a separate person. I was able to drop all of my preconceived ideas of who he was and what he did right and what he did wrong, how he judged me, and how he loved me, and what I thought I wanted or needed from him, even that he should live longer in the physical form. In those moments we knew the immortality that he is and I am, the One Being that we truly are as One space of Pure Love. We were not a father and daughter that were separate. From this, the awareness dawned that everyone, including myself, behind the ego and personality–is the same Being–One alone. When you tune into that Being that we all are, you can accept and even enjoy all the diversity of personality. You remain tuned into the Oneness that unites us all in the true space of pure love, which we all are and that true love is unchanging.

True love is not like the attachment that we know in romantic love. Romantic love is based on getting your needs met and if they are not met then the love may turn to hate. That kind of love is really just attachment and its opposite is just around the corner, aversion, from the same one that you said you loved. This aversion can happen for a few minutes, a few hours, days or forever. But true love doesn't change. It is your true nature, forever unchanging. You can only know true love when you are not in need of something from the person for your own fulfillment. Only when you are fulfilled by Knowing your true Self, can you see them as your own Self and love the love that you both are. This is the only way that a relationship will truly work. When you focus on the love that united you and stop trying to make both minds, that are two minds, agree with each other. Since two minds cannot always agree, it's just not possible to have love if relationship is based only on mental agreement. When you don't see a relationship based on two individuals, but instead know the One Being alone, then you experience true love.

I always wondered why people love movies so much and enjoy all the diverse characters whether good, bad, kind or evil, violent or helpful. People love watching all kinds of movies. In the same way, the show of the divine consciousness manifests all the diversity in the waking state for us to enjoy our own show. If everyone was the same, or how your mind thinks that they should be, it would not be a good show and you would not like it. You would quickly become bored with it. Everyone would be just like you, so you would not be interested. You would change the channel or create some other drama. Therefore, why not enjoy the show with all its diversity and with all the people playing their rolls so well? You can only do this when you know the source of who you are, that is forever fulfilled and one with all. Then you do not need anything from anyone, so you can live in freedom without trying to change others so that they can make you happy. You still seek help from others when you need or want it but you are not totally dependent on it for your happiness.

The waking state, like the dream state, is all the creative intelligence's imagination or movie just like the dream state is the creative intelligence's imagination or dream. All the multitudes of apparent forms, figures, scenes and personalities are the creation of the Being. They are all the show, appearing from and sustained by the One Being. When you know that it is all the same Me, then you know that Me is alone everywhere. It is all the creation of Self and all is perfect when you do not divide the consciousness and say that the forms are separate and real. Rather, you accept people as they are and enjoy the diversity in action and remain tuned into the source.

The true Self is known when you close your eyes in meditation. All the forms dissolve and what remains is Me, the One Self, or source. Just like the pure canvas or movie screen remains behind all the paint figures on the painting and light forms on the movie screen, with this awareness, your life becomes a great joy. Whether you get your preferences met or not, you just accept it is all the movie of the creative intelligence that you are, and you remain united with the purity of Being alone. And that Being is forever free. You can play the waking state's drama as a good actor or actress would play their role and enjoy it all. You can now choose to create a movie of joy and love, harmony and good will to all. You cannot mentally grasp this state of higher awareness or figure it out with your mind and thoughts which are forever changing. But when you close your eyes in meditation you have the direct experience of your true unchanging Self, the fourth state of consciousness, or the meditative awareness that is called– turiya awastaa– in Sanskrit. In meditation, the world and forms all dissolve, and you become aware that all is the show of consciousness and You forever remain as the vastness of that Pure Space. You alone are everyone, everything everywhere, the Knower that knows the Pure Knower, which is Pure Knowingness. All is One Self–Pure Being.

 
 

Samaadhi or Perfect Meditation
Excerpt from The Essence of Patanjali Yoga Sutras
Home-study Course
by Brijendra, Robert W. Eaton

Without meditation there is no way for a human being to be free from the sense of individual I, which we call ego. It is really only in meditation, or samaadhi , that this opening into the infinite freedom of one's true nature takes place. So let's look at samaadhi , as the sage Patanjali talks about it and indicates—and we are looking at it for the purpose of bringing the understanding of the mind up towards the level of the range and depth of our true nature as Self. In the human incarnation, the mind very quickly becomes saturated, permeated by the interactions between the senses and the objects of the physical field. And within a few years of the incarna-tion, that sensory mind becomes the main orientation and the main point of judging everything.

Through that objective vision—which Patanjali calls vyutthaan vritti , or the out-ward oriented modification of consciousness—through that outward orientation, the chitt , or mind, becomes a materially focused mind. Its understanding will be: “I am a body and a mind which moves around in that body, so I am a physical body, in relation to a world which is a world of physical objects.” So, basically, the vyutthaan consciousness, the outward oriented consciousness, which means out-ward through the senses, knowing through the senses, will develop an assumption that: “I am a physical object in a universe of physical objects.” As it develops further, it will develop a sense of mind, which really is just a subtle body, a finer, somewhat less physical body, but still a body, something you, the Pure Consciousness, inhabit and use as a vehicle of knowing. Without meditation, without gyaan , or knowledge—and I will tend to use gyaan , knowledge, and meditation as one meaning—without meditation and the Self-knowledge that arises in meditation, a human being will be in a sort of default-mode of understanding that: “I am a body and a mind.” That is inevitable. That is the natural flow of incarnating. You incarnate, you come into a body, and since it is your vehicle of knowing you are quickly ac-customed to it, and the assumption of the building up mind will be: “I am this body.” As if you drive in a car for many days, driving across Canada: by the time you get to the other side of Canada after several days, and you get out of the car and you close your eyes, you will, if you are like me, still see the road, and you will feel as if you were still in the car driving. The consciousness so quickly becomes accustomed to the vehicle it rides in. And after a lifetime of being in this car of a human body, a human being is saturated in the sense that: “I am the body.” 

That will be the basis of all considerations, unless a higher mode of awareness arises or is developed, consciously unfolded through what we call spiritual practice, or saadhanaa , which Patanjali, the sage, also describes, for the purpose of attaining samaadhi and the Vision of Oneness, Yog Darshan . Darshan , the vision, of Yog , Oneness. Vyaas says: “ Yogaha samaadhi, Yog is samaadhi .” So the Oneness, which is Yog , total unity, indivisibility, is samaadhi . For whom? For a human being. Human beings are that level of evolution, of consciousness, who are capable of attending their Source, which is the one and indivisible Yog . When a human being rises to the level of awareness of that Source, and the I or the drop is in the ocean, the source, the drop is in the ocean: no distinguishability between some separate I-sense and the Whole. That is called samaadhi , where subject/object has dissolved. So samaadhi, or perfect meditation, is the state of unity-consciousness, and that is Yog . Yog is the Whole. Samaadhi is in terms of a human being, who does some spiritual practice and attains liberation, which means indivisibility as the Whole. So yogaha samaadhi : Yog is samaadhi.

 
 
Excerpt from The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita
Home Study Course

by Glen Kezwer, Ph.D. 

The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of enduring value to mankind.
(Aldous Huxley)

The Bhagavad Gita is a promise given by the Knower of Truth to those who have not yet known what Truth is. (Swami Shyam 1985, p.1)

The Srimad Bhagavad Gita – the Song Celestial – is a repository of the ancient wisdom of India. The universal wisdom it contains, though ancient, is of the utmost importance in our modern world. Written in the form of a lyrical song, the Gita has been called “the most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue.” (Radhakrishnan 1989, vol.1, p. 519) It is both inspirational poetry and profound philosophy. According to the philosopher S. Radhakrishnan (1989, p. 522), “The Gita appeals to us not only by its force of thought and majesty of vision, but also by its fervor of devotion and sweetness of spiritual emotion.” Aldous Huxley (1972) called the Gita “one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the Perennial philosophy ever to have been made,” which has “enduring value, not only for Indians, but for all mankind.” 

The Bhagavad Gita is generally considered to be the most influential and widely read work in Indian philosophy. It points the way to enlightenment, the state where all of existence is seen as one infinite, eternal, indestructible reality. It also helps those who study it to live and act in the world with greater joy and effectiveness, free from pain and suffering. The Gita declares that the cause of a person's suffering is ignorance of one's true nature; it then gives the means to remove that ignorance. Mahatma Gandhi (1925) referred to the Gita as “Mother Gita,” praising its power to eliminate misery with these words: “When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavadgita. I find a verse here and a verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies – and my life has been full of external tragedies – and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teachings of the Bhagavadgita."

  The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are given on a battlefield called Kurukshetra as a war is about to begin. They are communicated in the form of a dialogue between Lord Krishna, the enlightened being who has realized the ultimate truth, and Arjun, the representative of humanity, who is struggling to know that truth. Arjun has declared war on his cousin Duryodhan who has usurped the kingdom which rightfully belonged to him and his four brothers. Arjun had exhausted all peaceful means to regain his and his brothers' land, and finally was forced to resort to war in order to defeat Duryodhan. In the impending war, Arjun is the commander-in-chief of his army and Krishna is his charioteer.

  As the battle unfolds, Arjun finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. Even though he is completely convinced of the righteousness of his cause, he still begins to lose his resolve when he sees the ranks of the enemy assembled before him on the battlefield. Duryodhan's army c onsists of large numbers of Arjun's relations and dear friends. Arjun knows that in order to be victorious, he must be responsible for the death of many people whom he loves and reveres. As this realization dawns on him, Arjun becomes uncertain about whether he should start the battle. His mind becomes confused and eventually he sinks in the back of his chariot, paralyzed with indecision and unable to act.

Now Arjun has reached the lowest point of his despondency. He does not know whether he should rush headlong towards the enemy with bow and arrow in hand, or slink silently off the battlefield in shame.

Chapter I ends with a description of Arjun's pitiful state:

So, having spoken thus to Shri Krishna on the battlefield, Arjun, agitated with grief, threw aside his bow and arrows and sank into the rear of his chariot. A heavy gloom cast dark shadows over his face and his eyes were deeply laden with grief. (Swami Shyam 1985, I:47)

Arjun then declared his unwillingness to fight, and fell silent.

The remaining seventeen chapters of the Gita contain Krishna's response to Arjun, a response which goes far beyond the present situation on the battlefield. Krishna speaks to Arjun about the nature of the world, the nature of the mind, and the nature of the absolute reality which is the basis of both. He speaks about proper action which leads to a cessation of pain and suffering, and about improper action which has the opposite result. He also lets Arjun know the true meaning of knowledge, devotion, faith, and meditation, and how to practice these in one's life. In Aldous Huxley's (1972) words, Krishna's teachings deal, “not only with Arjuna's immediate personal problem, but with the whole nature of action, the meaning of life, and the aims for which man must struggle, here on earth.”

 
 
When the Teacher is Ready, the Student Appears...
Shree (Sherrie Wade) MA
Certified Advanced Meditation instructor
Director, Transformation Meditation Online Institute

We have all heard this famous saying many times, "When the student is ready the teacher will appear." In order to understand it we have to know what it means to be ready and, then, why the teacher appears?

Henry David Thoreau said: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." The key in understanding this is to know why are they quiet? Most human beings, men and women, are taught that life includes ups and downs, struggles and successes, gains and losses. Therefore, why questions life when it is supposed to be this way? If you are suffering then the message given is that you should just grin-and-bare-it and remain quiet. Only those who begin to question: Why am I here? What is life all about? Why am I born and why do I have to go to school, get good grades, get a good career, get married, have children, and then grandchildren? Then, in the end, (no matter how successful or unsuccessful you are and no matter how much money you earn) still die and take nothing with you. Many people just accept this construct of life, that it includes a lot of suffering and some joy, and never question it any further. For others, who are more aware, they want more from life than success and struggle. They don't want to live a life of quiet desperation.

These rare souls have an awareness that there is something more, that there is a state of consciousness where they are joyful and peaceful. So why can't this state of joy and peace remain all, or at the least, most of the time? They have a glimpse into a state of higher awareness where there is freedom from (what is considered) the normal waking state of human existence. They have had an opening into divine awareness. This kind of opening can happen through the experience of the magnificence of nature, in meditation, while chanting, due to a trauma, or from the use of medications. Once this state (called the fourth state of consciousness) is glimpsed, there is the direct experience that it could be possible to live in this fourth state of awareness. You might have an aha experience when reading or hearing something about the Oneness and truth of the Pure Being that you are, or even spontaneously you may go into this state of higher awareness. With this awareness the student is ready to go forward in learning how to maintain this higher knowledge or state of consciousness called the fourth state.

You can become aware that in deep sleep there are no problems at all; in the dream state there are all illusory problem and joys; and in the waking state there are successes and failures, joys and sufferings, and happiness and unhappiness. When you begin to question and observe the human condition, you become aware that in the deep sleep state, no mater how severe the problem or pain was, it is not there while you remain asleep as your mind is asleep. So from the knowledge of deep sleep you can become aware that it is possible to be free of problems if you are free of your mind. But in the waking state when the mind awakens the problems reappear. Therefore, you have to be free of the waking state to be free of problems and to be joyful and peaceful. Meditation leads the attention to the fourth state of consciousness which is this higher state of awareness. When the student is ready, having had such an opening, then the teacher must appear for him or her to progress. This teacher comes as a result of the students readiness. Just as your legs became strong, when you were a baby, and you learnt to walk with the help of your parents and family. In the same way, those who know the method to evolve the consciousness will come to assist you, as they are just an extension of your own Self. These teachers have had experiences that you have not yet known - how to live in this expanded vision of your true Self.

Then, systematic teachings are necessary so your awareness can expand and, thereby, remain in a free state, even with the changing physical reactions that the body and mind will go through in life. You will be victorious in remaining free from cravings and attachments only when your Knower is knowing the free state of being. That Being is forever present and does not require anything more outside of yourself. Otherwise, you will continue to crave that which you don't have and think that you need. You will only know the satisfaction for the material forms and world of people around you. To remain established in the awareness of your true Self, forever pure and free, teachings are needed to help you obtain this highest goal. In yoga practices this higher state is called samaadhi or the fourth state of consciousness. The system of meditation, leading you into samaadhi, when taught effectively can lead you to the liberation called kaivalya, or the Vision of Oneness.

There is a saying that if you dig ten holes, ten feet deep, your chances of finding water are very slim, but if you dig one hole 100 feet deep your thirst will very likely be quenched with fresh, revigorating H2O! Therefore, it's best to find one type of saadhana, or spiritual practice, that works for you and stick with that, rather than dabbling a little in many different systems. They may all lead to the same goal but you can get confused and distracted by too much variety. Like eating too many different food combinations at one time, you can get a stomach ache. By mixing systems, you'll end-up diluting your determination to reach your goal. Whenever one system gets difficult, as it inevitably will, you'll change to another system or teacher and then your growth gets compromised. You'll never really face your own ego mechanism, with its limitations. Instead, you just go on to the next high that you get when you start something new. Then, again, you get stuck in the highs and lows of the waking state reality and never reach the blessed space of your own Self which is free from highs and lows. This space is an evenness of Beingness as it is forever and unchanging. If you are not experiencing this state of evenness on the path that you have chosen - and this is an important 'if' to consider - then you can consider seeking another path that works and remain with those teachings until you reach your goal.

The teacher will appear when you have the readiness! This means that you are now open to the higher power which is your own power or awareness. This awareness will attract a teacher to guide you with a practice that will allow your own greatness, lying dormant, to unfold into the fullness that you forever are. Students will also appear to the teacher who is filled with this awareness. When the teacher is living higher awareness, you be attracted to that teacher. The student who is open will see something in this teacher that they want to have. When the teacher is living the state of Oneness, by being in their proximity, listening to his or her words, or reading their writings, which emanate from Oneness, you can experience Oneness, and know that you and the teacher are one.

Guru is the same You! So what is possible for the teacher is also possible for you. By doing the systematic practice that is given by the teacher, you are digging a hole 100 feet deep, so you can reach your goal of freedom, peace and joy which you forever are. Then you, quite naturally, would like to speak about this. You have the direct experience of the power of this knowledge. When you are living in a highly-aware state you will talk about that which you know and people see that you are living a peaceful and easy state that they would also like to live. These people will see their own peaceful Self in you, as you are living in Oneness with all. Then they naturally want to listen to how you achieved this awareness. When you are ready, the students appear!

 
 

The Truth about Meditation and Samaadhi
by Shree, Sherrie Wade, MA

When we speak about what meditation is and is not, we can start with a definition of the word meditate.” Webster says that to meditate is, to think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.”

This definition is a start, but to practice it one would need to know more. Also, with just this information many misconceptions about what meditation really is can arise. Therefore, my working definition will be: Meditation is a state of higher awareness, awareness of your true Self which is pure, free and forever.”  If we use Webster’s definition then we would think that meditation is only a focusing technique. However, the state of meditative awareness can occur spontaneously, such as, by being in the company of a long time meditator, by listening to a talk on meditation, or just by closing your eyes and watching. Therefore, we need to expand the definition and to do this first we will explore what meditation is not.

In the Transformation Meditation Teachers Training Manual the basic misconceptions of meditation practice are discussed along with the true meaning of what meditation is.

Misconception 1: The state of yoga or union with the Self is achieved when the thoughts in the mind are controlled.

Thoughts do not need to be controlled. Your mind is a field of thoughts and they appear without your invitation. When you come to know that your thoughts are waves of perception that you, as the Self, use to perceive the world, then your thoughts are not problems that have to be controlled. They appear from the Source, or Pure Consciousness, and you can observe them as they return back to that same Source. When you follow these thoughts back to the Source, or experience the space between your thoughts, you are united with the Self. When ice is heated, it turns to water and then steam, which dissolves back into space. H20 can appear in different forms, such as clouds, ocean waves, ocean foam, ice, steam, etc., but it is the same substance. In the same way, your thoughts can be seen as energy in a more solid form appearing as words, and then as more subtle perceptions, or waves, which you can observe as they dissolve back into the Pure Consciousness field of your awareness. Just as we know the ocean is all water even though we may perceive waves, spray or foam, we can also know that thoughts are all Pure Consciousness.

Now that this is cleared up, we can continue on with the discussion of the truth about meditation. The question will arise: If you do not control your thoughts in meditation then what do you do? The answer is that you just close your eyes and watch the space in front of your closed eyes. The instruction is to watch as it is; in this watching that you become aware that you are the watcher or witness of all the changing thoughts. Therefore, you can de-identifying with the thoughts and remain the Knower of your thoughts. You become aware that you are not your thoughts, as you are the one who is knowing or watching your thoughts.

The techniques of meditation, such as using a mantra or watching the breath, are just preliminary methods to allow you to begin to watch rather than to drift off with all the changing thoughts. When you follow all of your thoughts that is called day dreaming and not meditation. It becomes meditation when you, as the watcher or Knower of your mind, direct the attention back to the mantra that you are repeating, or when you direct the attention to watching your breath.  By doing this you are remaining the watcher or Knower and de-identitifying with the changing thoughts. You become aware that you are the watcher, or subject, and the thoughts are what you are watching or knowing, as the object.  If you, for some time, follow the thoughts then that is fine as you cannot control your mind. Thoughts just come from nowhere, like your hair grows without your control and thoughts come and go without your control. When you go to sleep at night, you lie down on your bed, tuck yourself in and wait for sleep to come. In the same way when you meditate you close your eyes, watch the space in front of your closed eyes, repeat the mantra or watch the breath, and become aware of the Knower of the thoughts and breath and then meditation occurs by itself. Remember now (this sentence is awkward and could be changed) the definition I gave about meditation, A state or higher awareness.”

Patanjali in his great work on the yoga sutras, says in his
Yog Darshan, III: 2,

Tatra pratyya-aikataanataa dhyaanam

Dhyaan, or meditation, occurs when the attention of the mind flows in conscious continuity and opens up to the awareness of its own knowingness. ( From: The Sootras of Patanjali Yog Darshan: Concise Rendition, by Robert William Eaton)

To remain in the awareness of your own knowingness, means to remember the Knower. The space behind your thoughts, or the space when all the thoughts dissolve back into that space, is what remains when you allow your thought to just pass by. You remain as You, the Knower, or Pure Knowingness, and that You is pure, free, and forever. That is meditation!

Samaadhi is not the type of transcendence whereby you no longer exist and you are unconscious, as it often sounds like when it is described as transcendence. Samaadhi is when the buddhi (dhi), or intellect, is sam, or even. The Sage Patanjali says in Yog Darshan, III:3.

Tad-ayv-aarth-maatra-nirbhaasam swaroop-shoonyam-iv samaadhi

In that same dhyaan, or meditation, when only the essential purity of the focus of meditation shines in the meditator’s mind, as if the mind’s dualistic nature has dissolved and become absorbed into the pure space of the Self. That is samaadhi, the state of indivisibility or oneness in the meditator.
( From: The Sootras of Patanjali Yog Darshan: Concise Rendition,  by Robert William Eaton)

When in the state of samaadhi there is no longer the dualistic vision of you as a Knower, and a space that is being known. There is only You, the Knower, or the purity of space. When the intellect is absorbed back into the space from where it arose, just like a cloud dissolves into the blue sky and now there is no cloud, in the same way the wave of perception or thought is dissolved into You, the pure Knower-space or Pure Knowingness itself. Samaadhi is the Eternal Being. In samaadhi there is no desire or craving for anything as you are completely fulfilled and free just by being left alone with your true Self. Nothing else is needed.  All the clouds of the mental thoughts, feelings and forms have now dissolved back into the Source or clear space. That space is now You, the Pure Knowingness and all is peaceful and free. Samaadhi is your true state or true nature as it is always there behind all of the thoughts and experiences. The space of your purity gets covered by the mind, therefore, when the mind is absorbed in that space, what remains is the true You, pure, free and forever.

 
 

Teach Transformation Meditation - Remain Peaceful
by Shree

When you teach meditation and speak about meditation to your friends and family members, it also opens up the meditative awareness in you. This higher awareness enables you to live in a peaceful state with ease and freedom. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to meditate and speak about meditation as much as possible. The best thing that you can do for the world is to become established in the peaceful awareness of meditation and talk about it to others.

Peace begins with you! A peaceful person emanates a state of peace wherever they go. And, as you practice meditation, you'll radiate this vibration of peace so much so that others will naturally want to know what you are doing. You can talk about meditation and lead them into meditation and, again, this continues to support your practice too. You will improve, your family members will improve, and the world will improve. Teach Meditation and know the peace that you are: all is as One blissful Self.

Transformation Meditation, also called Doubt Free Meditation, is adapted from the system of yogic meditation described in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. There are over 185 Transformation Meditation Teachers listed worldwide. Transformation Meditation is based on observing or focusing on the space of Pure Consciousness, or the Knower of all experiences. You can use the ancient Sanskrit mantra, Amaram Hum Madhuram Hum, or its English meaning, I am immortal, I am blissful, or any other mantra that you choose. Your breath or the source of your breath can also be focused on as a concentration point.

This system of Transformation Meditation includes all the aspects of other mantra meditation techniques, as well as the observing methods of Mindfulness Meditation, with the added awareness of the Pure Knowingness or space that exists at the source, behind all the thoughts and techniques. It suggests that you de-identify with the changing thoughts in the mind and bring the attention to the Knower. The Knower is the one experiencing or watching all the thoughts and forms. Through this de-identification process you can experience the peace and joy that is your true nature. Instead of only identifying with the mind you also identify with your true Self that is pure, free and forever.

Laypeople as well as health care professionals and yoga instructors practice Transformation Meditation and teach meditation to their clients and students. It's not required that you receive a secret mantra, that you keep any secrets, or that you join any organization. Our methods are easily integrated into your everyday life. Transformation Meditation also helps you understand the purpose, experience and outcome of meditation: physiologically, psychologically and spiritually. Having this knowledge of meditation will expedite the process, allowing you to have a complete understanding of what is happening in your own mind, body, and nervous system. You'll be free from doubt and able to experience the meditative awareness at any time - the direct knowledge of your true Self - pure, free and forever!

Read more about the seminar that Shree is conducting in Delray Beach, Florida

 

You, Self, are Perfect, the Whole
Excerpt from The Essence of Patanjali Home-study Course
by Brijendra, Robert W. Eaton

You, the Self, are Pure Consciousness, One with no other, no other than you. You, Self, are indivisible, perfect, the Whole.

A human being experiences through mind and body, and so the experience of a human being is not the Whole. It becomes relative to other knowledge; it becomes changing; it becomes partial, limited—and as that continues, it becomes confused about its real, true nature. What is going on here is vritti , chitt vritti, modifications of consciousness as mind. So a human being's consciousness and knowledge is in the form of vritti. Vritti or chitt vritti is a key idea in Patanjali Yog Darshan. Patanjali wants to lead us towards Yog Darshan, the Vision of Oneness, through the practice of Yog. So that Darshan, the Vision, is also of the very practice that will lead you to being Yog. Yog is Oneness. The word yog is also used to refer to the practice or path to reach Yog.

The human vision is vritti vision. Vritti is a modification of consciousness. Consciousness is infinite, one, indivisible, blessed, for there is no other than itself. Vritti is a modification that takes place, and its essential nature is of division. So vritti is synonymous with division, divided consciousness. On a simple, human level, vritti would refer to your perception of objects, your intellect's rationality and thinking, your memories, your creative imaginations. All of these are modifi-cations of consciousness, and as such are vritti. So Patanjali is building up an understanding of a distinction between vritti, a modification or wave of consciousness, of knowing, and on the other hand Self, no vritti, no wave, no modification. Self as it is. As it has always been. As it always will be.

So the Self has a dynamic power, that it can assume the form of formed consciousness, in which a person says: “I know a car, I know the horse, I know the clouds.” I is Knower, and my attention is on clouds, car, horse as form, vritti. In the oceanic, infinite consciousness, a vritti arises of a form, sensory, mental—but ultimately it is all mental: chitt, mind; vritti, modifications. So all human knowledge is chitt vritti.

Vritti means turning, whirling, motion; as if the infinite field of I-consciousness, indivisible, as if in itself, it turned; and since its very nature is consciousness, it knows the turning, the motion, it knows the motion. So vritti has this raajsik, or active quality; and because consciousness is one and indivisible, all permeating, any motion is known. So vritti is known motion. And the consciousness now be-comes a knower of what is known. With vritti (form, modification, wave, turning) the motion of the consciousness becomes the focus of conscious attention; and so the vrittis arising in the mind become the focus of our mental attention, and become totally real. The very nature of the vritti is division, divided Self. Vritti will indicate that the form is real, separate from Me, the Knower; and in that awareness I, the Knower, become another form in relation to the vritti form.

So the whole power, or shakti, of vritti is of division. The flow of human consciousness is towards vritti, all the time. And it is all being recorded in the human mind, in the sanskaar chitt. So all the recordings are of vrittis, and the nature of the vritti is duality, division. Thus all the recorded experiences are dualistic, and the human identity becomes built upon those recorded experiences. So the human identity is based upon duality. And those recordings arise in the mind as memories, and those memories are also vritti. The senses are giving information about forms, and they are vritti. The creative power of the mind to create imaginations, plans, forms, and ideas is vritti. So, essentially, anything known by a human being is vritti.

The vritti has such a power in it that it indicates that what is known is outside of you somewhere, separate from you. So if we only pay attention to vritti, the vritti -form of knowledge, then we will follow that dualistic power of vritti, and world will be separate from me—friends, relations, acquaintances are separate from me; objects, places, situations are separate from me; and I am separate from the Source. All is separation, all division. Vritti is a power, a shakti , a creative power of division. And since the whole human manifestation is a creative power, it follows that dividing, differentiating power, which means that the one indivisible Consciousness follows the creative power, shakti, of differentiation, infinite differentiation, a universe of differentiation—all of it vritti.

The yogis are saying that there is a possibility in a human being of another vision, another knowing, a core, root knowing, the source-knowing that exists before vritti arises. This source-knowing exists even during vritti, but during vritti the attention is on the vritti, on the form being known. When the form is no longer known, again that source is there. Just being. During the knowledge of a form, human attention is captured, mesmerized, hypnotized by the vritti appearance; and this is totally, utterly natural. And it's usable. Human beings are doing well using the power of vritti, of differentiating, of knowing different things, forms, phenomena, occurrences, understandings. All are the power of vritti. But there is no end to it. There is no final point to it. It is endlessly, infinitely creative. The universe of vritti based knowledge is infinite. As long as you are attending, it will keep creating, and you will keep knowing.

The yogis are saying: “If you take the time to practice meditation and the unfolding of Self-knowledge, you will find that there is a space or state of consciousness free from vritti.” In the second sootra of the first chapter of Yog Darshan, the sage Patanjali says: “Yogash chitt vritti nirodhah.” Yog, the state of unity or oneness, is nirodha of chitt vrittis. Nirodha has often been translated as control. So the standard translation of this would be: “Oneness is the control of chitt vrittis,” meaning that if you control the chitt vrittis, the waves of consciousness or waves of understanding, you will be in oneness. In this statement there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of YogYog will not be attained through control. This is because control entails doership, and so you will not be free from doership. Therefore you will remain a separate individual and there will be no Yog

Nirodha really means a state of knowledge, a state of Self-knowledge, free from identification with vritti, and it will be attained through the practice, the cultivated practice, of attending the Knower of the vritti. (The sound of hammering arises from outside, and Brijendra refers to it in his talk.) The hammering going on outside is heard by the ears, processed by the mind. In the mind appears a vritti of hammering. Life is incessant motion and stimulated knowledge. When you take up the practice of Yog and meditation, you are doing something other than the normal progress of knowledge. You are doing something much different. What are you  doing? You are not practicing attending vrittis. You are bringing in the gyaan, or knowledge, that there is a Knower of the vritti. And you are practicing attending, being aware of, thinking about, sometimes just being the Knower. So in meditation, although vrittis will be chugging along, arising, appearing, dissolving, new ones arising—in meditation this goes on—you don't need to suppress the vrittis, control the vrittis, push them down, destroy them, annihilate them, or crush them. This is not recommended… it is violent. What is recommended? That you become aware that there is one who is knowing them. And investigate the nature  of that knowing one. And if you do it with the help of scriptures or teachers, it can be a little faster and helped along. But the subtlety of your practice will really be not so much about attending the vritti, which the mind will see as a distraction, but attending the one who is the Knower of the vritti, and who is even the Knower of that vritti which is saying that the vritti is a distraction, and is even attending that vritti which is saying: “I should control the vritti.” That Knower is eternally free. It is always the Knower—no matter what vritti appears in the chitt, the mind.

 
Awakening of Kundalini (The Energy of Enlightenment)
Except from In the Stillness of Breath: Praanaayaam for Meditators, by Brijendra


Through the practice of praanaayaam and the subtler practice of meditation as dhaarnaa, dhyaan and samaadhi, a concentrated state develops. This concentration is of attention, but in a human being attention is not separate from praan, or the life force energy. As a result of yogic practices praan, with all of its effective, life-supporting power, becomes concentrated. Not only that, through the breathing practices of praanaayaam and the regulation of the flow of praan through those exercises, the praan become purified, refined, and subtle.
An example, to help in understanding, might be a person who is manifesting a physical constitution in which the breathing is rough, course, and stertorous. That person probably has little awareness of the energy that drives the breath. There will just be a noisy breathing in and out, often through the mouth. This person’s praan is taamasik and raajasik, and it does not have the quality of sattwa developed.

In every person the potential does exist to develop and refine the praan, but that will require practice, steady practice, sustained over time. The result of praanaayaam practice is that the breath becomes quieter, steadier and, over time, subtler, more refined. If the practice is kept up, cultivation of the praan will progress to such an extent that there will come a time when the physical breath barely moves at all. This can happen in meditation in particular. At this stage it is said that the yogi is breathing praan; that is, the praan is taken without breathing, a state which the sage Patanjali calls, chaturth praanaayaam.

The preceding descriptions are dramatic examples of the range of praanic states from the grosser, taamasik, physical states to the increasingly saattwik and less physical states to the finest point where all is praan.

The more active, energetic techniques of praanaayaam introduce a raajasik element that fans the praan, stirring it out of accumulated tamas so that the yogi can, from the aroused rajas, further cultivate his praan towards its saattwik, lighter potential. One quality of sattwa is its power of concentration; thus, as the yogi becomes more saattwik as a result of his saadhanaa, his awareness and consequently his praan becomes more concentrated.

It is this purified and concentrated development in one’s praanic being that opens up into the arousing of Kundalini Shakti. In the normal state—that is, the standard state of a human being who has not worked on cultivating the praanic body—the Kundalini is dormant. Or, if it does occasionally awaken, it often does so in relation to situations that trigger fear or surprise or shock, or states of intense stimulation, be they of ecstasy or the struggle for survival.

Such openings can be accidental or random. When they are associated with a particular activity, such as putting oneself in a dangerous, life-threatening situation or using chemicals, the experienced opening, of whatever degree, becomes associated with that situation. Then the person becomes dependent on the situation or substance in order to experience what is actually his or her intrinsic state of expanded being. Consequently, such practices are not advised since they do not lead to liberation. The practice of Yog unfolds the opening to infinity—in a balanced way.

When you breathe in fully (poorak) and hold kumbhak (Antar Kumbhak), the praan eventually becomes concentrated in the area at the base of the spine, and this concentration or filling of the dormant Kundalini Shakti awakens Kundalini with the result that it begins to arise and straighten upwards like the energy of a snake that rises up by its sheer power. This energy will make the body want to sit straight. (The practice of hath yog was taken up in anticipation of this need of the body to straighten and be flexible.) As it rises, the various chakras (which had been contracted and limited) respond to the higher shakti of Kundalini, which is actually infinite, and they become purified, expanded, clear and light, freed from obstructions. Reaching the crown of the head, Kundalini Shakti unites with the infinite space of consciousness which is never trapped by individualization or form of any kind.

Exhalation (raychak) may be performed along with external kumbhak (Baahya Kumbhak), so that kumbhak is held at a distance of twelve fingers width from the top of the head (dwaadashaant). When the energy and attention is held there along with the kumbhak, there is no boundary, limitation, or contraction of consciousness to any fixed point or body or identity in time and space. All there is in that state is you, as infinite You, One everywhere. It is now said that Kundalini Shakti, the Cosmic Energy Being, is united with Shiv, the Pure Consciousness, and they are one and indivisible, as is the true nature of all.

Read the Introduction and another excerpt from the book.

 
 

How to Overcome Destructive Thinking
by Shree

Beginning meditators usually struggle with the idea that they want to meditate but they cannot find the time or energy to do it. Most people are busy in life making money, raising a family, etc.

Meditators often think that they are not practicing enough. Similarly, when you are on an exercise or weight loss program, you may think that even though you were good for a week, you slip from your program after that. Then there can be self-degradation, frustration and even giving-up on the program.

Sage Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, makes it clear that the nature of the mind is to generate thoughts. Since the mind keeps generating thoughts, it is up to you which ones you give attention to and believe in and which ones you discard. You cannot stop the mind from thinking, as this is its nature. But, if your thinking is destructive and not helpful, then you have the power to counteract those thoughts. When you think you haven't meditated enough, bring in the thought that even one meditation is of great benefit and should be appreciated positively. When you overeat or eat unhealthy foods and think badly of yourself, cultivate the thought that, through awareness of your destructive thinking, you develop the power to change it. This awareness of yourself is, in and of itself, a positive achievement. First there's awareness, then you develop the power to change your thought and from that you change your behavioral patterns.

Immediately after the discussion on the yams and niyams, purification techniques, Patanjali brings in a very important and useful idea in Chapter 2, Verses 33 and 34 - Vitark abaandhanay pratipaksha bhaavanam - when undesirable thoughts appear to encumber one’s saadhanaa, or yogic practice, one should cultivate desirable thoughts which will neutralize that negativity. To neutralize disturbing thoughts, one should cultivate pratipaksha bhaavana, the sense of reversing the focus of one’s thinking or bringing in the opposite thought. Due to lust, greed and attachment one can develop a mind sense that generates the quality of thinking based on these destructive ideas. If one has not developed himself in meditation practice, then the purification techniques given in the yams and niyam are essential. If the person’s mind is not yet purified, or free from lust, greed and attachment, then he or she will be subject to this realm of thinking and it will be difficult to practice the purification methods prescribed by Patanjali. Therefore, this verse is inserted right after the description of the injunctions and observances for purification and before the actual description for each individual method, so you can know how to counteract any limiting thoughts in your mind that prevent you from doing your practice.

How can you be aware of your thinking? First, you need to become aware that you are the Knower of your thoughts and not the victim of them. And you do not have to act on them unless you, the Knower, decides to. When the thoughts are of appreciation and you make a positive change in your behavior–reward and appreciate your efforts. This type of supportive encouragement of healthy living will generate more power to continue doing it. Rather than focusing on the times you neglect your meditation, exercise or diet program and feel bad about it, reinforce your positive thoughts and behavior. Reading this article is one of the positive steps in this evolution. Contemplation and practice will take you even further. You'll become aware that your ability to make changes is now unfolding from the infinite power generated in meditation.

It'd be an endless process to try and shape your thinking to be positive all the time, so you also need another method to overcome destructive thinking. Negative thoughts, by themselves, are not destructive unless you, the Self, identify with them and believe them to be true. They are a problem only when you give them energy and power. If you see them, instead, as waves of perception, then you, the Knower, has the choice to act on them or just let them dissolve back into their source–the very ocean of pure consciousness. When you follow a thought back to its source you become aware that it came from pure space or consciousness. By remaining aware of yourself as the Knower of your thoughts, through the meditation practice, you become aware of yourself as forever pure and not identified with your mind or its thinking. You purify your mind from its tendency to dwell on negative reactions and you gain the ability to master your mind, senses and life.

Now your habit patterns begin to change effortlessly and easily. Through meditation on the Knower, you have the direct experience of the Being, who is forever pure and free. Mastery of the mind is the result. These meditation techniques keep you focused on the Self and you become aware that the Self, forever free, is who you are. You are not caught in your limited thinking, beliefs or behaviors. You are the master free. Then, naturally, you do only those things that allow you to live your freedom and bliss. Your appetite for overeating and eating wrong foods changes. Your desire to not exercise and not take care of your health changes. And your ability to sit in meditation becomes easier. Now you only enjoy those things that support your body and mind in living comfortably and healthfully, so you can meditate and know the bliss forever residing inside.

 

Opening of the Higher Consciousness Through Praanaayaam
Excerpt from,
In the Stillness of Breath, Praanaayaam for Meditators, by Brijendra

As the air moves in currents in the atmosphere, or water moves in currents in a lake or ocean, so in the human system praan, too, moves in currents. The channels of these currents are called naadis. The naadis range from physical channels, such as arteries, veins, and nerves to subtle channels which, though unseen, exist and are vital to the living manifestation of a human being. In the natural, externally focused growth and development of a human being, life is considered to be dependent upon the physical channels, as seen, felt, known through the five senses. But these physical channels are manifestations of subtler currents of praan. When a person takes up yog saadhanaa, he or she is purifying the naadis, and this purification will progress from the more physical to the subtler or inner aspects of the person.

When the naadis are refined and purified, the praan flows unimpeded, becoming concentrated, and it enters the sushumnaa naadi where it rises up through the various dimensions, or chakras, of praanic existence. If the praanic naadis are blocked, due to impurity in the system such as too much tamas and rajas, the praan is unable to become concentrated and fine, and so cannot enter the extreme subtlety of the sushumnaa channel, which is not a physical place. This is why the praan has to be refined through saadhanaa. In this way the yogi’s development is from physical to praanic to conscious being. Ida, pingalaa, sushumnaa naadis The three main naadis (which according to various accounts range from 72,000 to several hundred thousand) are ida, pinagla, and sushumnaa. Ida: The channel of the moon, or chandra; cooling or cool, left side, pale, receptive, passive. Pingalaa: The channel of the sun, or soorya; hot, right side, active, instigating. Sushumnaa: The supreme channel, neither right nor left, neither hot nor cool, neither active nor receptive; the channel of bliss and of higher, transcendent consciousness. Sushumnaa is the most important of all the naadis; however, it only becomes known when kundalini awakens and begins to rise into the sushumnaa. Until then the kundalini shakti is dormant and is manifesting through the channels of ida and pingalaa, alternating between the two. In the normal human state, the praanic flows will sometimes accentuate the left, ida, side and at other times accentuate the right, pingalaa, side with the result that a person shifts throughout the day and night between the more receptive, cooling, passive states and the more active, heating, aggressive states.

It should be noted that the practice of Anulom Vilom Praanaayaaam, or Alternate Nostril Breathing, is specifically designed to balance these otherwise dynamically shifting energies. When ida and pingalaa are balanced, the praanic shakti, flowing neither left nor right, nor active nor passive, is in the sushumnaa channel, which actually is not in time and space. Although sushumnaa is like pure space, neither hot nor cold, active nor passive, time nor space–due to lingering patterns of identification––there may be experiences triggered when the praan’s shakti enters the sushumnaa at the base of the spine and begins to rise up through the dynamic dimensions of one’s being called chakras. When the praan shakti, having become awakened as kundalini shakti, rises, awakened and alert, up into the highest, purest space at the crown chakra or sahasraar, the purity is complete, and consciousness is established in its true nature as one indivisible Self. However, on the way to this state of one’s true indivisibility, the kundalini shakti may trigger experiences as it passes through and liberates the levels of bound or contracted dynamism. It is due to the infinite power of kundalini, passing through the previously bound, dynamic chakras, that the releasing of bound experience is sometimes described as transcendent experiences or celestial experiences or extreme releases of energy and emotion. When a river is in flood, everything in the way of that dynamic surge is whirled and churned when the energy of the flood touches it. Branches, tree trunks, rocks, rubbish, all are swept along, and these blockages create whirls and waves in the river water. It is a cleansing process. If there are no blockages, the flood passes through unimpeded. It is a similar situation with the kundalini shakti. When there are blockages or impurities in the system, the flood of kundalini shakti will be experienced as a churning up of those bound and limited perceptions of one’s self. This results in all kinds of experiences, many of which will vary from individual to individual according to the mind. Some will be transcendent, celestial experiences; some will be churnings of all kinds of emotions such as love, fear, etc.

If the system is quite pure the kundalini shakti encounters no impedance and the result is like a pure infinite space of consciousness. Given this fact, yog saadhanaa, in the form of Ashtaang Yog, as described by Shree Patanajli, may be viewed as a preparation as well as a triggering of the awakening of kundalini. For the yogi this is the importance of praanaayaam; that is it both prepares the yogi for the opening of kundalini vastness and it triggers the opening awakening of kundalini. Praanaayaam accomplishes the two fold process of purifying the naadis from the physical to the subtle and awakening the kundalini shakti. In the beginning of praanaayaam practice, it is generally not realized how powerful, effective, and wide-ranging the practice of praanaayaam is; but as one continues in the practice, it is revealed how pervasive praan is and how effective the practices of praanaayaam are at tuning us into our praan, which ultimately is universal praan, not just individual. It is for this reason that the practicing yogi takes up a steady and persistent practice of praanaayaam, daily or a few times daily. This steady persistence in the practice builds up the power of the praan, which is a subtle field of existence. Although initially this steady build up and concentration of the praan may go unnoticed by the physically oriented mind of the beginner, he or she should stick to a continued practice of praanaayaam, in the received knowledge, passed down through thousands of years, that the steady practice of praanaayaam will indeed bring about the opening and awakening of kundalini and the resulting opening of the Highest Consciousness.

 

ONENESS ALONE IS
by Glen Kezwer, Ph.D.

He who has known that his own self and the self in all beings are one and the same,
acts freely and effectively in the world, yet his essence is untouched by his actions.
– Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 5, Verse 7.

The fundamental nature of the universe is one of an overriding, indivisible Oneness. For me, the knowledge or realization of this fact is the most significant benefit that accrues from the practice of meditation. It is what I call the “vision of Oneness.” When we sit and close our eyes, all differences, distinctions and divisions which are evident in the world are dissolved. The inner space we perceive at that time has no separate parts in it. We are bathed in a sense of the Oneness of all of existence. There is no dividing line between who we are and what we perceive. Perceiver, perception and that which is perceived have merged into one reality.

The word ‘unity' is often used to describe this experience, but that term falls short. Oneness does not mean that various disparate elements have somehow blended together to create one whole; rather it means that the whole alone exists. It is the opposite of what one might call the sense of separation, otherness or duality.

Because Oneness is difficult to conceive of on the level of the mind, a few examples are useful to point our thinking in the right direction. Look at the waves on the surface of an ocean. They are each unique; some are tall or short, white-capped or clean, fast- or slow-moving, moving parallel to the shore or at an angle, and so on. Yet, despite their infinite variety of characteristics, all the waves have the essential property of being water. Water is the ‘oneness' or ‘sameness' that permeates all of these waves. If we dive beneath the surface to stillness beneath the waves, this oneness becomes evident.

Another example pertains to gold ornaments. Earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets all look and feel completely different, but the one aspect that unites them all is their ‘goldness.' Each ornament, despite its appearance, is essentially gold, just as each wave is water.

When you look at the eyes of another human being, you see a radiance behind those eyes. Oneness means that you know that the light from each person's eyes is one and the same light.

When we view the world with the vision of Oneness, we are seeing not only all the separate elements, but we are at the same time aware of the one source or underlying substance that is behind the universe, an intrinsic reality which is one and the same everywhere. Is it difficult to attain this vision of Oneness? Yes. Is it worth doing? In my opinion, definitely.

Now let's apply this concept to our daily life. Suppose that everything, including ourselves, is the manifestation of one essence. Understanding this, what changes will it make in a person's life?

Well, imagine that you knew that everything is you—not you, the physical body, but the essential, cosmic you. You would have no tension, apprehension, or fear because everything you see, everybody you encounter is none other than your own being. You would be able to foster a universal empathy and respect for all of humankind because they are you, as your own being. Of course, this does not mean that you would lose your discrimination about how to conduct yourself in the world. Oneness does not mean love for all; it means respect for that same being in all. You would still know an enemy from a well-wisher, a cheat form an honest person, and a friend from an opponent, and deal with them accordingly. But your ability to manage the world would come from an all-encompassing perspective.

If you knew, “I alone am everywhere,” where would there be a place for hatred or enmity? Of course, taken on the level of the individual this statement seems narcissistic in the extreme, until it is realized that the “I” referred to is not that of an individual person, but rather the “I” of the cosmic essence which we all are.

What I am describing is the full realization of the vision of Oneness. This can take a long time to fulfill, but as human beings seeking this vision we can move towards it in a progression, a little at a time. The more we develop the ability to perceive the world in the light of Oneness, the more our tension, worries and insecurities relax and our peace of mind, happiness and effectiveness increase. We see the benefits as our meditation practice continues.

Our minds, accustomed as they are to a waking-state vision of things, cannot conceive of Oneness. However, using the guidance of the metaphors given above and the various other descriptions of Oneness which are available, the practice of meditation brings us to its realization. The key is to bring forth that vision of Oneness which is experienced in meditation into the waking which we enter when we re-open our eyes and once again find ourselves in the world. When this transition is no longer a transition from one thing to another, but simply a continuation of the same essential reality, then the vision of Oneness is complete .

 

Meditation Works: Guidelines from the Bhagavad Gita
by Glen Kezwer, Ph.D.

       
   

To be made one self with God above and God in man and God in the world is the sense of liberation and the secret of perfection. Sri Aurobindo

Peace of mind is a pale reflection of true stillness. Swami Amar Jyoti

Scientists study it. Doctors recommend it. Millions of people practice it every day. Why? Because meditation works. Time Magazine, August 4, 2003

   
 

Meditation works. So says Time Magazine. These days there is a wealth of research on the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of meditation. Its practice can improve blood pressure, lower the heart rate and slow down the ageing process. It has also been shown to reduce stress, lengthen one’s attention span, and lead to greater happiness, vitality and emotional stability. There is even evidence that meditation increases the amount of gray matter in the area of the brain associated with learning and memory, and decreases it in the region responsible for anxiety. Considering these newfound reasons for why people should meditate, it is instructive to take a look at the classical text of Indian philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita, to see how meditation was developed in ancient times, and what its practice and purpose were considered to be.

The message of the Gita is that all human beings have within themselves the power to live life and perform actions in the light of the highest knowledge. Simply put, this knowledge is that the source or underlying reality of every being on this planet is one and the same Self, which is beyond birth and death and cannot be destroyed. A person who lives in a manner which is consistent with this wisdom is able to live happily, and have a peaceful mind, free from worry and tension. The Gita’s teachings are not restricted to one period of time, a particular culture or group of people, or to a certain geographical location. They are for everyone, everywhere, at all times. At first glance it may sound easy to live a life of happiness, but in actual fact it is not. As human beings, we are subject to the whims and fancies of our minds, which can—and usually do—take us on a roller coaster ride from morning to night. We live each day in an environment of constant action, endlessly doing things which involve us throughout our waking hours. Of course, this is simply called life. But to pursue life to its fullest, with a sense of joy, satisfaction and balance, as well as compassion for those around us takes a certain effort and a special type of understanding. The Gita provides just that.

To reflect the fact that all persons must act throughout the day, the story of the Gita takes place upon a stage of the most extreme action: a battlefield during a time of approaching war. The two characters involved are Krishna and Arjun. Arjun is the commander-in-chief of one of the two opposing armies, and as he is about to lead his troops into combat he takes one last look at the enemy ranks. To his utter dismay, he discovers that he is about to engage an army filled with many of his nearest and dearest friends, companions, relatives and mentors. Many of his kith and kin and highly respected teachers have taken up arms against him, and Arjun realizes that in order to win the war, he will have to personally slay or be responsible for the deaths of countless men who are central to his life. The idea of killing them is abhorrent to him. But at the same time, the cause for which he is fighting is entirely justified in every moral and ethical sense, and it is his sworn duty as a soldier and leader of men to pursue the fight until victory is achieved.

Caught on the horns of this dilemma, Arjun is distraught. He has no ability within himself to find a way out of his predicament, and instead of wielding his mighty bow and leading the charge, he collapses weakly in the back of his chariot. Uttering the words, “I will not fight,” he turns to his charioteer Krishna and begs for guidance. Now, Krishna is more than just a part-time charioteer. He is also a fully enlightened being whose wisdom and consciousness are supreme and all-encompassing. Clearly, Arjun has turned to the right person for help. Up to this point, the Gita has taken 56 verses to set the stage and pose Arjun’s question to Krishna. The remaining 644 verses comprise Krishna's answer.

We all have to perform action throughout our lives. It is unavoidable, and how we approach and carry out this action leads us to success or failure, joy or suffering, peace or stress, health or disease. Most of us seldom, if ever, are required to act in such severe circumstances as those encountered in a war. The fact that the Gita is set on a battlefield indicates that the teachings it gives are of the utmost importance. If Arjun had been planting a garden in his back yard, the consequences of his actions would not have seemed so crucial, but in the midst of a war they can mean life or death. So Krishna's teachings to Arjun can be taken as applicable to the full spectrum of life’s situations from the mundane to the extreme.

The kernel of Krishna's message is that, first and foremost, Arjun must act:

   
   
Every human being is helplessly driven by the force of nature to perform some kind of action, for without acting man cannot live for even a moment. (III: 5)
     
In order to act decisively and effectively, Arjun needs to understand the fundamental nature of existence. Here Krishna starts with the most profound wisdom: The essence of each and every human being is the Self—aatmaa in Sanskrit—which is not subject to birth and death.
 
 
Arjun, the Self, which pervades all beings in the universe, is an indestructible substance. No one has the power to destroy it. (II: 17)
 
 

It is infinite, unchanging, eternal, unfathomable, and self-illuminating. It cannot be destroyed by even the mightiest of weapons, nor can it be burned by fire, made wet by water or dried by the wind. It is not touched by the multitude of events that transpire in the world, but is rather like the space of the sky which is vast and encompasses all, yet remains free. The Self is the inner essence of, and one and the same in all human beings, including the soldiers on both sides of the line of battle. Although I have just used several words and expressions to describe the Self, ultimately it is ineffable. Words can only point our thinking in the direction of a true understanding of the Self, but can never take us fully there. If we accept that knowledge of the Self is the key to living the life we are seeking, then we must find some means to attain it, some technique which goes beyond words and the mind. The Gita gives us this key in the form of meditation.

The mind is the vehicle that blocks our access to higher knowledge, yet at the same time it can be transformed to bring us to that knowledge. If we give the mind and its thoughts too much importance, then we are subject to the ups and downs, happiness and suffering, worry and easiness that they produce. But if we can change our perspective and observe the mind, or somehow step back from it, then we can better understand its functioning. This allows us to ultimately become the master of the mind rather than remaining a victim to its whims.

Chapter VI of the Gita is devoted to the practice of meditation. Alternatively entitled "The Yoga of Meditation" or "The Yoga of Self-Control," it deals with the technique of closing one's eyes in order to get in touch with the core of one's existence—the Self itself.

Arjun realizes that he needs a still, tranquil, even mind in order to think clearly and see the way out of his current dilemma, but he also knows that the mind is "turbulent, powerful and obstinate" and "as difficult to control as the wind." What chance does a person with such a mind have of attaining success in meditation? In answer to this, Krishna reassures Arjun, telling him that, despite the mind's tenacity, it can be made as steady as a candle flame in a windless place that does not flicker even slightly.

Krishna advises Arjun, and thereby all of humanity, to achieve stillness of mind by practicing the proper technique of meditation: Sit in a clean, comfortable place, close your eyes and begin to perceive what happens. You will notice, he tells Arjun, that thoughts will come and go in the mind. There is nothing wrong with this. Meditation does not mean stopping the thoughts or forcibly controlling the mind. It means observing the thoughts without becoming involved in them, just as you would listen to children playing in a nearby schoolyard, hearing them but not being disturbed by their chatter. You should put your attention on the Knower or Seer of the thoughts which is at all times free and uninvolved. Stillness or tranquility means identifying with this Knower who is observing these thoughts. Then, whether they appear or not, you are free and uninvolved. The Knower is the indestructible Self, your inner being. By fixing your attention on the source, your consciousness becomes infinitely vast, encompassing all that there is.

As you meditate, you will perceive an inner space behind your closed eyelids. This space is the source from which the waves of the mind emanate. Watch the Knower-space and remain alert throughout your meditation. Sometimes the mind will wander and your concentration will wane. Because of this, it is helpful to use a mantra to focus the mind. I personally have found the phrase amaram hum madhuram hum* to be useful. If you find that at some point you have lost focus of the mantra, that is not a problem. Simply return your attention to the mantra and continue watching the inner space, knowing at all times that that space is you, your own true nature.

What happens to the yogi in meditation is poetically and beautifully described by Swami Shyam in his interpretation of verse VI:25 of the Gita:

     
 
The yogi should remain aware throughout his practice and should keep watching as tranquility gradually manifests in his consciousness. He should always make use of his power of reasoning to help him fix his attention on the field of Pure Consciousness from which all powers emanate. The field of Pure Consciousness is immortal and blissful, amaram madhuram. These words are a mantra which the yogi can use in his meditation. Focussing his attention on their sound, identifying with the Knower as himself, the utterance as his own creation, and the attention as his own faculty of perception, he realizes that it is He Himself who alone exists as the one Lord of Pure Consciousness, Existence and Bliss. If this realization of his own true Self takes place, he grasps the meaning of my words, which is that the body is simply an instrument which will perish and is not the Lord, the Seer or the Knower. This is the practice one is advised to adopt while meditation on Me, the immortal, blissful Supreme Being. During meditation, all the experiences taking place should be treated as manifest waves of the absolute Pure Existence, which is God.
 
 

With a peaceful mind, you can solve problems more efficiently. Your vision is not clouded. You can watch your thoughts more dispassionately. The practice of meditation leads to the highest bliss, the state of endless happiness. Your mind attains a state of serenity, stillness and oneness which rests content in the Self, knowing that the Self is perceiving itself by its own power. Even the deepest of sorrows do not touch you. Enjoying this state of inner stillness, you able to act skillfully and effectively in the world, knowing all the time that the Self is present in all beings and all beings exist in the Self.

* The meaning of the mantra is, "I am immortal. I am blissful." In it, the letter "a" is pronounced like the letter "u"
  in the word "but."

     

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