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28 December, 2012

Renewal of Mind

First Step in Scientific  Prayer

      True prayer is essentially wrapped-up in the Psalmist's call to "listen and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).  This is really what is all about.  How simple!  Yet we make it so complex.  The first step is to relax the involuntary tensions of the mind, and lift your thoughts to synchronize with the steady flow of transcendence... to affirm how wonderful you are, how beautifully you are created.

       Now again, here is your reminder:  God can do no more for you than he can do through you.  There is no way that your prayer can be answered unless you change the level of your thinking.  Paul says, "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Rom.12.2).  The root of this phrase in the Greek is the word mentanoia - literally meaning, "to think differently."  In short, if you want to be healthy, you must stop thinking of yourself  as sick.  If you want to be prosperous and successful, you must renounce the practice of thinking of yourself as a failure.

       Now, make no mistake about it, this is not easy.  It calls for a disciplined effort to let go of attachments to the past, to clear out of the mind the prejudices, the pessimism, the self-pity renounce gripes, grudges and grouches ... to relinquish all hates and hurts, all false belief's and foolish fears, all ideas of lack and limitation.  Traditional medicine may do a pretty good job of curing your symptoms, but you can only be healed casually by making a concerted effort at mental housecleaning ... then consciously letting go, and letting God.  The words cure and healing are used in this way purposely.  An aspirin may cure a headache.  But healing can only come through the release of tension and by dissolving the attitudes or emotions that are responsible for the tension.

Letting Go of Resentment

       In the early days of the American Revolution, one man was overcome with fear that the British army would overrun his village and subject it to unspeakable indignities.  He wisely secreted a boat at the river, hiding it on the bank near some bulrushes, and one night he heard the frantic cry.  "The British are coming!"  According to his carefully formulated plan, he dashed out of his house, ran to the river, and jumped into his boat.  There seemed to be a strong current, but he rowed confidently,l feeling smug about his preparedness.  It was dark and foggy night.  He rowed all night until exhaustion set in.  Then, as the sun rose and the fog lifted, he suddenly became aware that he was right where he had started, for he had forgotten to cut the boat free from its mooring.

       It is important lesson.  You can't have a harmonious relationship and hold onto your resentment, too.  You can't hold onto your anger and bitterness and still have a healthy heart and a settled stomach.  Jesus makes it very clear that you can't expect God to help you or heal you unless you make room for the answer to your prayers by letting go of your negative feelings.  He says, "If  you come to the altar with your gift (symbolizing your prayer effort), and there remember that your brother has aught against you (and perhaps you have aught against your brother) leave there the gift, and go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift."  (Mathew 5.23,24).  

       In other words, if you are blocking the flow of life or substance or love by your resentment or unforgiveness, not even God can break through with the good you desire.  That may shock you, to hear that there is something God cannot do.  For haven't we been told that God can do all things?  But you see, God is not someone who works on you from the outside.  God is the dynamic potential of your being ... and again, God can do no more for you than he can do through you.

Emmet Fox says in his Book on Power Through Constructive Thinking

When you hold resentment against anyone, you are bound to that person by a cosmic link -- a really rough metal chain.  You are tied by a cosmic tie to the very thing you late.  The thing, you hate is inexorably a part of your consciousness.  The one person in the whole world whom you most dislike is the very one to whom you are attaching yourself by a hook that is stronger than steel.

And don't delude yourself that when you pray, you bypass all this and achieve God's forgiveness.  In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says, "Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors."  God forgives as we forgive.  But that is not entirely correct, for God doesn't really forgive... because there is no unforgiveness in him.  God is love.  And through the attitude of forgiveness we open ourselves to that love.  Love is always and eternally present, but we block it with our resistance.  Jesus' statement is like saying, "The sun comes streaming in the window when we raise the blinds."  But of course we know that the sun doesn't really come in.  It simply shines, and we accept the light and warmth as we eliminate the barrier.

       There is a tendency to rush pell-mell into prayer without adequate preparation.  Like the man with his escape boat, we neglect to cut ourselves free from that which binds.  Let go!  This is the first step in scientific prayer.
Source: Excerpts from the book on "The Universe is Calling" written by Eric Butterworth.

25 December, 2012

What is Mantra?

What is Mantra?

       A Mantra is a combination of a sacred syllables which forms a nucleus of spiritual energy.  This serves as a magnet to attract or a lens to focus spiritual vibrations.  According to the Upanishads, the ancient scriptures of India, the original abode of the Mantra was the Parma Akasha or primeval either, the eternal and immutable substratum of the universe, out of which, in the uttering of the primal sound Vach, the universe itself was created.  (A similar account is found in the gospel of St. John, "In the beginning was the Word...").  The Mantras existed within this either and were directly perceived by the ancient rishis, or seers, who translated them into an audible pattern of words, rhythm, and melody.
       Mantra is not a prayer.  Prayer consists of words of supplication chosen by the spiritual aspirant, whereas Mantra is a precise combination of words and sounds the embodiment of a particular form of consciousness or Sakthi.

Meaning of the Word "Mantra:

       The root man in the word Mantra means in Sanskrit "to think;" tra comes from trai, meaning "to protect or free from the bondage of samsara or the phenomenal world."  Therefore, Mantra means "the thought that liberates and protects."  But there are many levels of meaning in a Mantra which must be experienced to be truly understood.  An intellectual explanation encompasses only a very small part of its meaning.
       The chanting or recitation of Mantras activates and accelerates the creative spiritual force, promoting harmony in all parts of the human being.  The devotee is gradually converted into a living center of spiritual vibration which is attuned to some other center of vibration vastly more powerful.  This energy can be appropriated and directed for the benefit of the one who uses it and for that of others.

Six Aspects of Mantra:

       Every Mantra has six aspects: a rishi or seer, a raga or melody, the Devata or presiding deity, a bija or seed sound, the Sakthi or power, and a kilaka or pillar.

1.  Rishi or Seer:

       The rishis, through  their intuitive perception, opened themselves to the revelation of the Mantras and were able to recognize their own effectiveness as channels for the flow of grace, knowledge, and power from the Divine.  These ancient seers understood that their powers were intended to be used in the service of others, as a guide to humankind.
       The Mantras were transmitted from generation to generation, from Guru to disciple, and in this process the power of the Mantras was greatly increased.  The repetition billions of times by countless devotees over the centuries has brought about a vast reservoir of power which augments the inherent spiritual potency of the Mantras.

2.  Raga or melody:

       The raga is comparable to a western melody line-- a sound, or sequence of single sounds, without harmony.  When chanting a Mantra it is extremely important not to change the raga and its key, because the rate of vibration on which the sound is based is an integral part of the Mantra.  All Indian music is based on the understanding that there are two aspects to every sound: the audible expression, and the subtle sound essence which carries the meaning and which arises from the eternal Spirit.  This essence is called Shabda or Vach.  When the spoken word is perfected sounded within and without, contact is made with this power which manifests as an image.
       There is a certain power in a word even on a human level--one's own name has a special significance, and the way in which it is pronounced can convey numerous messages.  Different tones cause different vibrations affecting the bodily, as well as the emotional, response.  The practice of Mantra Yoga for a longer period of time makes one aware of sounds actually creating images, and of certain images having an inherent sound. 
       In his book, Japa Yoga, Swami Sivananda says that sounds are vibration which give rise to definite forms.  The repeated chanting of the name of the Lord gradually builds up the form or special manifestation of the deity worshipped (the Devata) and acts as a focus to concentrate this influence, which then penetrates and becomes the center of consciousness of the worshipper.

3.  Devata or presiding deity:

       The Devata is the presiding deity of the Mantra, the informing power, a very personal aspect of God.  It is the wisdom that comes from a higher source and is like a single beam of sunlight, one beam that is singled out and given a name so that the disciple can develop a personal relationship with and worship an aspect of God that he or she can understand.  Or it may be likened to one facet of a diamond representing Cosmic Intelligence. 
       A diamond with many facets will reflect many rays of Light at the same time, but one particular ray will especially appeal to the individual as he or she begins travelling the spiritual path.  In the beginning, God is too awesome for the human mind to grasp and only later can divine energy be perceived in its purest form, so the human mind needs to establish a link with a personal aspect such as Krishna or Siva in the Indian religions, or Jesus or Mary in Christianity.  Adults, who are still spiritual children need to have personal concept of God until they can see the divine energy in its purest form.
       The Mantras, Om Krishna Guru and Hari Om, the Krishna Invocation, are associated with Krishna; Om Namah Sivaya, with Siva; and Om Tara, with Divine Mother.  If you think of the millions of people in India over the centuries who have chanted the name of Krishna or Siva, or all the Christians over the years who have repeated the name of Jesus, you can see that this constant repetition would create a tremendous reserve of power.  The power of their achievement is present in the combined energy of the Mantra.  the truly devout person who chants the name of a particular aspect of the Divine will eventually tap into that power of the Devata.
       One drop of water can accomplish very little, but hundreds of millions of drops can cut through rock or indeed, change the face of the earth.

4.  bija or seed sound:

       Each Mantra has a bija or seed.  This is the essence of the Mantra and it gives the Mantra its special power -- its self-generating power.  Just as within a seed is hidden a tree, so the energy in the Mantra is the seed from which will grow a beautiful spiritual being.  If you were to chant quite regularly now, abandon the practice, and then perhaps twenty years from now suddenly find yourself in some crisis, the Mantra might come automatically to your lips and you would continue to repeat it as you had never ceased.  This is an example of self-generating power.
       If you think of Shabda, the primal sound, the nuclear sound Om, from which all things are created, and bija the seed and self-generating power of the Mantra, you will see that through constant and correct chanting of a Mantra, you will be helped to release greater energy within your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies.  With this increase of energy you will also be helped to get in touch with the Divine within you, your true Self, your Higher Self.

5.  Kilaka or Pillar:

       The kilaka, or pillar, is at first the driving force, the persistence and will-power that the disciple needs to pursue the Mantra.  But when the power of the Mantra begins to take on a self-generating "flywheel motion," the kilaka becomes a very fine thread joining the disciple to the Mantra, to the power of the Mantra, to the guru, and to the deity, until all become one.

5.  Sakti or power:

       The power, the consciousness within the Mantra, is Sakthi, Divine Mother, the goodness of the Spoken Word.  The male aspect of God is energy in a state of equilibrium; the female aspect is dynamic energy which manifests as creation.  There is only one energy in all created things.  In the Mantra that energy is present in pure form.  The potency of the Mantra is released through repetition until the individual finally comes to his or her Devata and a spiritual experience may take place.
       By constant recollection of thinking of the Mantra one is protected from the impact of maya, the illusory world.  Through repetition of these words of power, the goal of Mantra Yoga is achieved--that is (as with all yogas) unity of individual consciousness with Cosmic Consciousness.
Source: Excerpts from the Book on "MANTRAS - Words of Power" by Swami Sivanandha Radha.

09 December, 2012

Meet the challenges of life

       A man approached Norman Vincent Peale and poured out his troubles to him.  His life was full of problems and he could not take it anymore.  He added, "I have so many problems.  I will give you five thousand Dollars.  Please, tell me a place where I can go and where I will not have to face any problem at all."

       Norman Vincent Peale assured the worried man, "Yes, I do know of such a where there are ten thousand people who do not have any problem at all."  He directed the man to the cemetery.

       Problems are thrown at us so that we can grow, so that we can evolve.  Here are five practical hints that you can follow to face the challenges of life.


       FIRST, grow in the constant awareness of God's presence.  If you grow in the constant awareness of God's presence, no problem will be able to lay you low.  There is no problem that God cannot handle.  We are all children of God.  This constant awareness of God is your birth right.  Claim it, "I am not alone.  God is with me."  Remind yourself of this truth every hour.

       SECOND, upon getting up in the morning before leaving the bed, repeat it ten times.  And again before going to bed, repeat it ten times.  It is during these times that the subconscious is ready to take our orders.  In the beginning this practice will be mechanical, but pretty soon it will come from the depths of your being.

       THIRD, never miss out on your daily appointment with God.  We live in a noisy world.  You must withdraw from the world, preferably at the same time, same place every day.  Be in silence, contemplate, and meditate.  Start with 15 minutes.  Increase to 30 minutes.  This daily sadhana of silence is an appointment with your own self, your true-self.

       Keep on repeating, "I need Thee, God, and Thee alone."
       Ramakrishna Paramahansa used to say, "Long for God as a lover longs for his beloved, a miser for gold, a child for its mother."  Then God will reveal Himself.  

       FOURTH, adopt a correct attitude.  Adopt a constructive, positive and friendly attitude.  It is our attitude that moulds our character.  And it is our character that moulds our entire life.  A Sufi Saint was bitten by a crocodile while crossing a river.  He expressed his gratitude:  "I fell in the mouth of the crocodile, but not sin."  That is the right attitude.

       What is impossible for man is possible for God: There is nothing that is impossible for God.  Are you passing through a dark night, nowhere to to go, bankruptcy problem, personal problem, relationship problem?

       Simply handover the problem to God with childlike trust and you will get the answer; at the right time.  However, there is a condition.  Once you handover the problem to God, you must not think about it.

       FIFTH, develop a healthy sense of humour:  If you want to face the challenges of life, develop a healthy sense of humour. Learn to laugh.  Laugh with others, not at others.  Laughter is an all-round tonic - physical tonic, mental tonic, spiritual tonic.

       A miser was approached for a donation.  He readily gave a cheque for Ten Lakhs Rupees, but did not sign it.  When asked, he replied full of humility, "I want my donation to remain anonymous."

       A sense of humour lends you poise; it gives you balance and helps you to bend without breaking.

Source: An article by Dada J.P.Vaswani.

01 December, 2012

The Science of Kriya Yoga

Mahaavatar Babaji

Lahiri Mahasaya

Sri Yukteshwar Giri

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

The Sanskrit root of Kriya is kri, to do, to act and react; the same root is found in the word karma, the natural principle of cause and effect. Kriya Yoga is thus “union (yoga) with the Infinite through a certain action or rite.” A yogi who faithfully follows its technique is gradually freed from karma or the universal chain of causation.

Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers.  By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.

Kriya is an ancient science. Lahiri Mahasaya received it from his guru, Babaji, who rediscovered and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages.

“The Kriya Yoga which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century,” Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, “is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples.”

Kriya Yoga is referred to by Krishna, India’s greatest prophet, in a stanza of the Bhagavad Gita: “Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control.”  The interpretation is: “The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by apan (eliminating current). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control.”

Krishna also relates that it was he, in a former incarnation, who communicated the indestructible yoga to an ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, who gave it to Manu, the great legislator. He, in turn, instructed Ikshwaku, the father of India’s solar warrior dynasty. Passing thus from one to another, the royal yoga was guarded by the rishis until the coming of the materialistic ages. Then, due to priestly secrecy and man’s indifference, the sacred knowledge gradually became inaccessible.

Kriya Yoga is mentioned twice by the ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, who wrote: “Kriya Yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Aum.” Patanjali speaks of God as the actual Cosmic Sound of Aum heard in meditation Aum is the Creative Word the sound of the Vibratory Motor. Even the yoga-beginner soon inwardly hears the wondrous sound of Aum. Receiving this blissful spiritual encouragement, the devotee becomes assured that he is in actual touch with divine realms.

Patanjali refers a second time to the life-control or Kriya technique thus: “Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration.”

St. Paul knew Kriya Yoga, or a technique very similar to it, by which he could switch life currents to and from the senses. He was therefore able to say: “Verily, I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Christ, I die daily.” By daily withdrawing his bodily life force, he united it by yoga union with the rejoicing (eternal bliss) of the Christ consciousness. In that felicitous state, he was consciously aware of being dead to the delusive sensory world of maya.

In the initial states of God-contact (sabikalpa samadhi) the devotee’s consciousness merges with the Cosmic Spirit; his life force is withdrawn from the body, which appears “dead,” or motionless and rigid. The yogi is fully aware of his bodily condition of suspended animation. As he progresses to higher spiritual states (nirbikalpa samadhi), however, he communes with God without bodily fixation, and in his ordinary waking consciousness, even in the midst of exacting worldly duties.

Kriya Yoga is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened,” Sri Yukteswar explained to his students. “The ancient yogis discovered that the secret of cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with breath mastery. This is India’s unique and deathless contribution to the world’s treasury of knowledge. The life force, which is ordinarily absorbed in maintaining the heart-pump, must be freed for higher activities by a method of calming and stilling the ceaseless demands of the breath.”

The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment.

The astral system of a human being, with six (twelve by polarity) inner constellations revolving around the sun of the omniscient spiritual eye, is interrelated with the physical sun and the twelve zodiacal signs. All men are thus affected by an inner and an outer universe. The ancient rishis discovered that man’s earthly and heavenly environment, in twelve-year cycles, push him forward on his natural path. The scriptures aver that man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless evolution to perfect his human brain sufficiently to express cosmic consciousness.

One thousand Kriya practiced in eight hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution: 365,000 years of evolution in one year. In three years, a Kriya Yogi can thus accomplish by intelligent self-effort the same result which nature brings to pass in a million years. The Kriya short cut, of course, can be taken only by deeply developed yogis. With the guidance of a guru, such yogis have carefully prepared their bodies and brains to receive the power created by intensive practice.

The Kriya beginner employs his yogic exercise only fourteen to twenty-eight times, twice daily. A number of yogis achieve emancipation in six or twelve or twenty-four or forty-eight years. A yogi who dies before achieving full realization carries with him the good karma of his past Kriya effort; in his new life he is harmoniously propelled toward his Infinite Goal.

The body of the average man is like a fifty-watt lamp, which cannot accommodate the billion watts of power roused by an excessive practice of Kriya. Through gradual and regular increase of the simple and “foolproof” methods of Kriya, man’s body becomes astrally transformed day by day, and is finally fitted to express the infinite potentials of cosmic energy—the first materially active expression of Spirit.

Kriya Yoga has nothing in common with the unscientific breathing exercises taught by a number of misguided zealots. Their attempts to forcibly hold breath in the lungs is not only unnatural but decidedly unpleasant. Kriya, on the other hand, is accompanied from the very beginning by an accession of peace, and by soothing sensations of regenerative effect in the spine.

The ancient yogic technique converts the breath into mind. By spiritual advancement, one is able to cognize the breath as an act of mind—a dream-breath.

Many illustrations could be given of the mathematical relationship between man’s respiratory rate and the variations in his states of consciousness. A person whose attention is wholly engrossed, as in following some closely knit intellectual argument, or in attempting some delicate or difficult physical feat, automatically breathes very slowly. Fixity of attention depends on slow breathing; quick or uneven breaths are an inevitable accompaniment of harmful emotional states: fear, lust, anger. The restless monkey breathes at the rate of 32 times a minute, in contrast to man’s average of 18 times. The elephant, tortoise, snake and other animals noted for their longevity have a respiratory rate which is less than man’s. The tortoise, for instance, who may attain the age of 300 years breathes only 4 times per minute.

The rejuvenating effects of sleep are due to man’s temporary unawareness of body and breathing. The sleeping man becomes a yogi; each night he unconsciously performs the yogic rite of releasing himself from bodily identification, and of merging the life force with healing currents in the main brain region and the six sub-dynamos of his spinal centers. The sleeper thus dips unknowingly into the reservoir of cosmic energy which sustains all life.

The voluntary yogi performs a simple, natural process consciously, not unconsciously like the slow-paced sleeper. The Kriya Yogi uses his technique to saturate and feed all his physical cells with undecaying light and keep them in a magnetized state. He scientifically makes breath unnecessary, without producing the states of subconscious sleep or unconsciousness.

By Kriya, the outgoing life force is not wasted and abused in the senses, but constrained to reunite with subtler spinal energies. By such reinforcement of life, the yogi’s body and brain cells are electrified with the spiritual elixir. Thus he removes himself from studied observance of natural laws, which can only take him—by circuitous means as given by proper food, sunlight, and harmonious thoughts—to a million-year Goal. It needs twelve years of normal healthful living to effect even slight perceptible change in brain structure, and a million solar returns are exacted to sufficiently refine the cerebral tenement for manifestation of cosmic consciousness.

Untying the cord of breath which binds the soul to the body, Kriya serves to prolong life and enlarge the consciousness to infinity. The yoga method overcomes the tug of war between the mind and the matter-bound senses, and frees the devotee to reinherit his eternal kingdom. He knows his real nature is bound neither by physical encasement nor by breath, symbol of the mortal enslavement to air, to nature’s elemental compulsions.

Introspection, or “sitting in the silence,” is an unscientific way of trying to force apart the mind and senses, tied together by the life force. The contemplative mind, attempting its return to divinity, is constantly dragged back toward the senses by the life currents. Kriya, controlling the mind directly through the life force, is the easiest, most effective, and most scientific avenue of approach to the Infinite. In contrast to the slow, uncertain “bullock cart” theological path to God, Kriya may justly be called the “airplane” route.

The yogic science is based on an empirical consideration of all forms of concentration and meditation exercises. Yoga enables the devotee to switch off or on, at will, life current from the five sense telephones of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Attaining this power of sense-disconnection, the yogi finds it simple to unite his mind at will with divine realms or with the world of matter. No longer is he unwillingly brought back by the life force to the mundane sphere of rowdy sensations and restless thoughts. Master of his body and mind, the Kriya Yogi ultimately achieves victory over the “last enemy,” death.

So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men:
and Death once dead, there’s no more dying then.

The life of an advanced Kriya Yogi is influenced, not by effects of past actions, but solely by directions from the soul. The devotee thus avoids the slow, evolutionary monitors of egoistic actions, good and bad, of common life, cumbrous and snail-like to the eagle hearts.

Referring to yoga’s sure and methodical efficacy, Lord Krishna praises the technological yogi in the following words: “The yogi is greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom (Jnana Yoga), or of the path of action (Karma Yoga); be thou, O disciple Arjuna, a yogi!”

The actual technique must be learned from a Kriyaban or Kriya Yogi; of Yogoda Satsanga Society/Self-Realization Fellowship.  Here a broad reference must suffice.

Source: Excerpts from  the book on “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda.