Category Archives: Quest

Apologies for Delay in Updating the site

Very dear Visitors to this site,

I offer my sincere apologies for being so late in updating this site from time to time. In fact I was busy inthe publication of my seond book ‘Two Great Masters’. The book was first published in June, 2016. Went into two quick reprints and was finally launched by Anupam Kher, famous Indian Actor/Producer/Teacher and Motivational Speaker. Those who know him a bit would be astonished that Anupam Kher has so far worked in abou 500 feature films.

The book was launched for public sale at the Chandigarh Press Club Chandigarh on 13 th October, 2016 among a friendly and jovial atmosphere. An image of the book is given here to acquaint the readers with its fascinating title cover. In the third reprint of the book feedbacks from a few readers have also been included to make the feelings of readers available to all.

The book is all about uderstanding the various Ifs and Buts encountered by humans in leading successful lives on earth. Set in the background of Shimla Hills { a high mountain setlement in the Himalyan Range of Mountains}, the interactive dialogue between three young research scholars inspires the readers to successfully conduct their lives. Glimpses into the examplary lives of Masters take the readers on an interesting ride into the vast gamut of their activities and works. Full chapters have been given on the rarely touched subjects of Spirituality, Philosophy of Life and Education- Making of a Man.  poster two great masters Other subjects included in the book are:

Concentration/ Art of Listening; Art of Understanding, Seeking the Light and Life fo All, A Way of Life for Whole of Human Kind;  Towards Excellence in Life; The techings of the Masters; Uniting Humanity through Yog; Service to others; Understanding Life; The Most Powerful Force; Yoga for the Differently- abled, etc.

The book is hard-bound and contains 320 pages. Published by Unistar Books Pvt Ltd Mohali, Punjab it is priced at Indian Rupees 395/- The book is available online at www.amazon.in; www. shopclues.com; www. flipkart.com and at leading book stores in Chandigarh.

Please favour us ith your views.

What is Two Great Masters

Poster Printed Book Two Great MastersA Brief about the Book:

Two Great Masters 

            We all come as ‘Babes’ in the woods of life forced to learn from our elders whatever they give us through our growth in years. The elders do their part in the form of parents, teachers or gurus. Human development is thus dependent on the quality of learning through these sources. There is no option so far as role of parents is concerned but finding a right teacher or a guru involves intelligent search.

Whole of the humanity has been under the grip of dark ages for thousands of years. Only recently (18/19th Century) it came out of the dark phase of perpetual Yuga Cycle.

While the advent of 19th century brought in golden revolution on the material side ; on the spiritual side it witnessed the coming in of great masters like Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Lahiri Mahasya, Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda.

Swami Vivekananda shook the masses from their head to foot and woke them up from    their deep slumber of centuries. In America he became an overnight celebrity with his first speech in the World Parliament of Religions in the year 1893. He was not an official delegate but reached the Parliament per chance or say the Divinity wanted him to get introduced this way. He gave his message of the actual science of yoga, the science of brotherhood of humanity. The world felt aghast with his views.

For reasons known to Divinity, Swami Ji had very short time to live on earth (39 years). The words recorded in his diary on the last day of life viz. 4th July, 1902 are:

“From the very nature of things, it is difficult to understand anything of the world. And now after life-long labour it seems that I have known a little and when I think of giving that knowledge to others, the call has come from Above: Come away, just come away- don’t bother yourself about teaching others. It is not the will of the Granny that the play should be over.”

“Do you think that there will be no more Vivekanandas after I die!—-There will be no lack of Vivekanandas, if the world needs them——-thousands and millions of Vivekanandas will  appear—from where, who knows!——-If one governor-general retires, another is sure to be sent in his place by the Emperor.”

Paramahansa Yogananda was, perhaps, sent by the Emperor as the new Governor-General. A deeper study into the works done by Paramahansa Yogananda during his stay for almost thirty years in the West would reveal his exalted stature.

The book ‘Two Great Masters’ brings the lives and teachings of both the masters in an interesting and novel way of a story narrated in the form of a dialogue between three young research scholars. While one scholar is from an affluent family, one is an orphan girl and the other a differently-abled girl on a wheel-chair from a poor family. The book opens up a new horizon to learn the science of yoga.

What is the ‘Science of Yoga’? In short it is to live in harmony with all, in every situation and every circumstance of human lives. It was the dream of both the masters and they lived and died to make this dream happen in the world. With the declaration of one day as the International Day of Yoga on the entire globe the dream of the masters has been realized. It is now for the humanity to keep working on it.

Teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda given to the world through him stand unique in the annals of scriptures and religious science. They are not only practical in method but lofty in purpose. Though profound and all- encompassing in philosophy, they are simple for adoption in

daily life. They are pre-eminently suited to people of all kinds of temperament, cultures and religions. East or West find the teachings as embodiment of their own highest ideals.

An exclusive set of Yoga exercises was developed by Sri Paramahansa Yogananda exactly one hundred years back from now i.e. in 1916. This set of exercises contains 38 exercises to be done in 20 minutes. Yogananda is considered as Master of Yoga in the West. These exercises, known as ‘Energisation Exercises’ are scrupulously practiced, two times a day, in his Society, and have benefited thousands of followers.

Both the masters lived and worked for bringing knowledge and importance of the science of yoga to the humanity. Both of them were unique gifts to mankind. The book unearths the qualities of the masters in teaching the science of yoga and leads the reader to the practical implementation of the teachings in their lives.

Glimpses into the lives of both the masters, as included in the book will give the reader a first hand knowledge about their exemplary life on earth and the reader is bound to get moved to know more and more about them.

The story of the research scholars discussing practical implementation of the teachings brings not only romance but unfolds their intelligence to lead exemplary kind of lives. As mentioned by Shri T.N.Chaturvedi, a Padamvibhushan Awardee, in his ‘Foreword’ to the book, it  has been written in an Upanishadic mode and the reader feels carried over with the heroes of the book.

The book brings out an inspiring and interesting character of a differently- abled girl Maria who not only excels in her studies but becomes a guide to hundreds of handicapped people by bringing to their fore the knowledge of the science of yoga. This carries a unique type of message among the lesser fortunate brethren and helps them to stand at par with others.

Wisdom of the masters has been interwoven excellently in the difficult subjects of the ‘Philosophy of Life’, ‘Spirituality’ and ‘Education-Making of a Man’, etc.  Besides chapters on Concentration/Art of Listening, A Way of Life for Whole of Human Kind, The Art of Understanding, Towards Excellence in Life, Uniting Humanity through Yog, Meditation, Service to Others, etc. make the reading a valuable handy asset.

There have been innumerable references to both the masters in plethora of literature grown around them during past decades and whosoever has tried to understand them felts rewarded and enriched. I close this review with a message from Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India.

“Yogananda’s philosophy should be reiterated throughout the world: not for Eastern or Western consumption only, but for global consumption; not for this generation only, but for generations to come. Print millions and millions of copies of his works. Spread them everywhere. Persuade people to read them. Persuade people to understand that a sublime and intelligent Soul moves behind the scenes—“

 

 

Two Great Masters

Friends,

A book titled ‘Two Great Masters’, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) and Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) has been published by Unistar Books Pvt. Ltd. Mohali, Punjab, India in 2016. Poster of the book TWO GREAT MASTERS

Set in the backdrop of the queen of hills Shimla ( Himalayas) and its surroundings, the romantic, inspiring and enchanting story of three young research scholars interweaves practical wisdom of the Masters in their lives. It is a unique blend of wisdom and inspiration besides giving glimpses into the  exemplary lives of the Masters on Earth.

The book is hard bound and runs into 280 pages. It is waiting for its release. Hopefully it will soon be available on online stores.

A Note by The Author of This Site

Friends,

For some unexplainable reasons I could not update this site during the last almost eight months. I am sorry that I missed your valuable company. Please continue to give your patronage to this site. This is exclusively maintained for you only as the love for every human being overflows my being. I merely try to consummate that flow of love through this site.

You might have forgotten that your love had prompted me to write a book titled ‘Just 7 Days to Excellence’ by Amrit Gupta. This was published first in the year 2012 and now third reprint (Second Edition) of the book has come out, Paperback, cost Indian Rupees 195/-. The book has been published by Unistar Books Pvt. Ltd., SCO 26-27, Sector 34 A, Chandigarh 160022, India and is available from them.

The book is also available on www.flipkart.com and www.amazon.in . Once you go in for the book and read it you will never feel sorry for the money spent on it. The book is for loving readers. I have no commercial motives.

Hindi language edition of the book titled ‘Keval Saat Din Aapke Jeewan Ko Badal sakte Hain’ has also been published and its second edition will be out in a month’s time. Please favour with your patronage.

For your information I include in this post a review of the book by a leading newspaper of north-west India, The Tribune, Chandigarh.

Review of the Book ‘Just 7 Days to Excellence’ by The Tribune, Chandigarh (April, 2013)—a daily newspaper having largest circulation in north-west India.

 

 

The age-old clash of science and religion

 

Mohammad Imtiaz

Emergence of materialistic thoughts has created a spiritual vacuum in the modern world that has added to the want of divine guidance. There has been a rise in demand of yoga and spiritual masters even in the West. “The twenty-first century man is…confused like Arjuna,” observes the author of this book. The book puts non-attachment, the theme of Bhagvadagita, on “top of the ladder” of life-goals. In this context, the book helps us “to seek ladders and learn climbing.” Many practical methods of meditation are mentioned for an individual and a group. Only control of mind and emotions save the human being from becoming an animal with a tendency of exploitation.

The main character of the novel, an IIT-graduate, gets frustrated with his first job in an MNC (multi-national company), which is generally termed as biggest dream of the youth. The protagonist gets indulged in an irregular day-routine of unnecessary office gossip, useless TV shows and untimely sleep. He is alarmed with the dangers of indiscipline and the consumer culture of a metropolitan city, when the life style costs him his love and marriage.

Here start the psychological miseries and dilemmas. The situation reminds us of Chetan Bhagat’s novels, which unfold the hollowness lying beneath the colourful surface of careerism. The difference is that Bhagat’s novels deal more with the problem, while the present one has been purposely written to convey solutions. The form of a novel adds to the interest in the spiritual discourse. The protagonist is provided mental calmness with a seven-day workshop by a monk. Throughout the workshop, the author has quoted from scriptures of various religions to stress the oneness of spiritual goals.

Further, he has attempted to resolve the philosophical clash between science and religion, as the monk claims giving an instance, “The cosmic sound Aum is the synthesis of all sounds of the highly vibrating forces (Lifetrons), electrons, protons and atoms.” Like other spiritual thinkers, here also lies a tendency of describing spiritual phenomena in the language of science. But the popular trend of proving spirituality on scientific criteria only consolidates materialists’ claim that spiritualists also subconsciously put science above religion, this way.

———————

 

 

 

A Way of Life for Whole of Mankind

A Way of Life for Whole of Mankind

 

            What is the best way in which humans should live their lives. People in every religion, feel that their way of life is the best way and that others should also adopt the same. With the advancement in science and technology, let us not look at this important aspect in an old fashion but examine it with a dispassionate angle.

Living communities in the world are divided in the names of religions they profess. What is religion and how it affects the way the human live?

 The word religion has often confused even the best of human minds. The essential purpose of religion is to elevate humanity to a consciousness of Bliss (which is God) by removing man’s threefold suffering-physical, mental, and spiritual. With the passage of time this great purpose merely got reduced to observance of certain set of rules and precepts. This gave rise to dogmas, beliefs, customs and separate distinctions leading to differences in understanding.

Brief History of Religions                

From pre-historic times three main religions, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism, have come down to humanity. Judaism failed to absorb Christianity and got pushed away. In India sect after sect arose to shake Hinduism from its very foundation but could not succeed; rather these sects themselves got absorbed in the Indian way of life called Hinduism. Why, probably because Hinduism is not a religion in commonly understood terms comprising set of dogmas and beliefs but it is a proven way of life which has helped mankind from millenniums to know its true nature and that of the Infinite which is its source. Let us have a wider look at it with an open heart.

What is the origin of the so- called Hindu way of life?

The origin of the Hindu way of life is said to have come from the Vedas which contain revelations that are related to human life in accordance with design of the Cosmic Director. The Vedas are not merely books containing certain dogmas, faiths or beliefs; they provide a direct touch to the cosmic laws governing man’s life on earth. They are not revelations or beliefs of one man; they are science of Infinite itself, applicable to all inhabitants of the earth alike. They are the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by highly advanced souls known as Rishis, from time to time. Just as laws of Gravitation or magnetism existed even before their discovery and would even exist when the humanity forgets them, so it is with cosmic or spiritual laws of the Cosmic Director.

A note in Chapter 8 of ‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’ mentions:

‘The Vedanta, summaries in the Vedas, have inspired many great Western thinkers. The French historian, Victor Cousin, said: “When we read with attention the philosophical monuments of the Orient- above all, those of India-we discover there many a truth so profound—that we are constrained to bend the knee before the philosophy of the East, and to see in the cradle of the human race the native land of the highest philosophy.”Schlegel observed: “Even the loftiest philosophy of the Europeans, the idealism of reason as set forth by the Greek philosophers, appears-in comparison with the abundant life and vigour of Oriental idealism- like a feeble promethean spark against a full flood of sunlight.”

What are the basic concepts of the Hindu way of life?

The basic concept is that he is not the body but in him resides the immortal soul. His soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is located in his body and that death means only changing one body to another.

The true or perfected person in this concept wants to act in the world through the guidance of his soul which is a reflection of omnipresent in him.  He feels that all are brothers and sisters in the world—heirs of immortal bliss, children of one and only one God.

God is one, He is everywhere, the pure and formless One, the Almighty and the all merciful. He is our Father, Mother, Friend and Beloved. He bears the burden of the Universe and helps us to bear the little weight of our lives.

 What is the keynote of this concept?

The keynote is that people following this concept unite themselves with every religion. They do not want others to change to their way but are satisfied to see everybody seeking God in his own way.

In the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda presented a paper on ‘Hinduism’. Everybody in the Parliament was startled with his revelations. What the world needed was a faith that had no fear of truth. He told people that the Hindu faith is theirs as well as his. Hindus do not merely tolerate, but they unite themselves with every religion, praying in mosques of the Mohammedans, worshiping before the fire of Zoroastrians and kneeling before the cross of Christians. The Hindu gathers flowers from all faiths, binds them together with the thread of love and makes them a wonderful bouquet of worship.

Q. People in general however feel that Hindus also follow certain fixed set of dogmas, blind beliefs and are superstitious. Such a thing did happen in Hinduism. The reasons for this could be traced to the following:

Oncoming of Dark Ages

                               With the oncoming of the Dark Ages period of the Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years (700 BC to 1700 AD), the whole of the humanity had gone into stark ignorance. This affected the Hindu mind as well. In a free Hindu way of life had entered dogmas, blind beliefs and superstitions. These made Hindu way of life also to look alike other faiths viz. Christianity and Islam (two main faiths in the world). Both these faiths were however born in dark ages- Christianity around 400 A.D and Islam around 600 A.D. Buddhism, a sort of rebel child of Hinduism, also took birth in this age. It looked modern to most of the Asian Continent as it came with simple laws of living. What Hinduism then needed was organizing and consolidating its own ideas and placing before the masses its true values. This was initiated and done by Swami Vivekananda by presenting a paper on Hinduism in the Parliament of Religions. This sent a message to the sister nations what India can give to the world. Vivekananda proclaimed in strong voice “If one religion be true, then all the others must also be true.” With Swamiji’s speech in Parliament Hinduism had been recreated, it was given a new life. Vivekananda gave to Parliament and the world at large, a message of his whole people as determined by their whole past.

Q. Is there any doctrine behind the Hindu way of life?

 The doctrine behind Hindu way of life are the Vedas which emphasize that God be worshiped through love only. He is One Beloved dearer than everything else in this life and the next life. The same doctrine was taught by Lord Krishna. He taught that a man ought to live in this world like a lotus leaf which grows in muddy water but is never soiled by that water.

And it may be good to love God for the sake of a reward in this or next life, but it is better to love God for love’s sake. He is the only object of love. All love flows from Him alone. A prayer of a Hindu is, “I do not pray for anything: I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He likes.”

Q.What is the practical way to approach God?

 God’s mercy comes on the pure hearted. He reveals Himself to the pure heart. The Hindu does not want to live upon words and theories only. He wants to realize and know God. The Hindu way of life or the Sanatan Dharma (religion) which they follow does not consist in struggles and attempts to believe in a certain doctrine or dogma, but in realizing; not in believing but in being and becoming. Thus the whole object of Hindu system is a constant struggle to become perfect, to become divine to reach God and see God. After achieving perfection he lives a life of eternal bliss. It is a common religion of all sects in India.

Q. Superstition is a great enemy of man, and bigotry is still worse. Why does a Christian go to Church? Why is the cross holy? Why is the face turned towards the sky in prayer? Why are there so many images in the Catholic Church? Why are there so many images in the minds of Protestants when they pray?

                    Vivekananda said “My brothers, we can no more think anything without a mental image than we can live without breathing.” By the laws of association, the material image calls up the mental idea and vice- versa. This is why the Hindu uses an external symbol when he worships. It helps to keep his mind fixed on the Being to whom he prays. He knows very well as all of us know that the image is not God, is not omnipresent and that it is only a symbol. Like people of other religions, Hindus have also associated with the ideas of purity, truth, omnipresence and such other thoughts with different images and forms. Vivekananda went on to explain that the difference between a Hindu and others is that some people devote their whole lives to their idol of a church and never rise higher. For them religion means an intellectual ascent to certain doctrines and doing well to their fellows. The whole Hindu way of life is, however, centered in realization. Man is to become divine by realizing the divine.

George Bernard Shaw said:

“The apparent multiplication of gods (in India’s religions) is bewildering at first glance. But soon you discover that they are all the same God in different aspects and functions. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible gods.”

Self-realization has been the keynote of Paramahansa Yogananda’s work of decades. He named his worldwide organisation as Self-Realization Fellowship, whose first aim is to disseminate, among the nations,

knowledge of definite scientific techniques for obtaining a direct personal experience of God. He mentions in his Autobiography of a Yogi that ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is literally the eternal religion. It is a name given to the body of Vedic teachings. Sanatan Dharma came to be called Hinduism because the Greeks who invaded the north-western under the Alexander the Great (300 BC) designated the people on the river Indus as Indoos or Hindus.

In his Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda also mentions the views of Mahatma Gandhi in the matter of religion:

“I believe the Bible, the Koran and the Zend-Avesta to be as divinely inspired as the Vedas. Like every Hindu I believe in God and His oneness, in rebirth and salvation – I can no more describe my feelings for Hinduism than for my own wife – a feeling of an indissoluble bond is there. Hinduism is not an exclusive religion. In it there is room for the worship of all the prophets of the world. It is not a missionary religion in the ordinary sense of the term. It has no doubt absorbed many tribes in its fold, but this absorption has been of an evolutionary, imperceptible character. Hinduism tells each man to worship God according to his own faith or Dharma, and so lives at peace with all religions.”

Paramahansa Yogananda further goes on to explain in the footnotes of his Autobiography of a Yogi:

“The unique feature of Hinduism among the world religions is that it derives not from a single great founder but from the impersonal Vedic scriptures. Hinduism thus gives scope for worshipful incorporation into its fold of prophets of all ages and all lands. The Vedic scriptures regulate not only devotional practices but all important social customs, in an effort to bring every man’s action into harmony with divine law.”

In the immense literature of India, the Vedas are the only text to which no author is ascribed—The Vedas were a revelation by sound, “directly heard” (shruti) by the Rishis. It is essentially a literature of chant and recitation. For millenniums, therefore, the 1, 00,000 couplets of the Vedas were not written down, but were orally transmitted by Brahmin priests. Paper and stone alike are subject to the obliterating effects of time. The Vedas have persisted down the ages because the Rishis understood the superiority of the mind over matter as the proper means of transmittal.

By observing the particular order in which the Vedic words occur, and with the aid of phonological rules for combinations of sounds and for the relation of the letters, and by proving in certain mathematical ways the accuracy of the memorized texts, the Brahmins have uniquely preserved, from a dim antiquity, the original purity of the Vedas. Each syllable of a Vedic word is endowed with significance and efficacy. (Chapter 8 of the Autobiography of a Yogi).

 In Paramahansa Yogananda’s organisations SRF (Self-Realisation Fellowship) and YSS of India(Yogoda Satsanga Society of India), the altars in temples, Ashrams and homes of devotees around the world are decorated with the pictures of Lord Krishna, Jesus Christ, Mahavtar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasya, Swami Sri Yukteswar and Paramahansa Yogananda. In the prescribed opening prayer, besides the names of the 6 masters, are included prayers to saints and sages of all religions. Long meditations of 6-8 hours are equally done on Janamashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday) and Christmas (Jesus Christ’s birthday).

“The Hindu scriptures teach that man is attracted to this particular earth to learn, more completely in each successive life, the infinite ways in which the Spirit may be expressed through, and dominant over, material conditions. East and West are learning this great truth in different ways, and should gladly share with each other their discoveries. Beyond all doubt it is pleasing to the Lord when His earth-children struggle to attain a world civilization free from poverty, disease, and soul ignorance. Man’s forgetfulness of his divine resources (the result of his misuse of free will) is the root cause of all other forms of suffering

The main teachings in the Hindu Scriptures are:

The Hindu scriptures declare that those who habitually speak the truth develop the power of materialising their words. What commands they utter from the heart come to pass. Because the words are built on truth, all the scriptures extol it as a virtue by which man may tune his life with the infinite. Mahatma Gandhi often said “Truth is God”, his lifelong striving was for a perfect truth in thought, speech and act. Throughout the ages, the ideal of Satya (truth) has permeated the Hindu Society.

“Hindu scriptures also teach that family attachment is delusive if it prevents the devotee from seeking the Giver of all boons, including the one of loving relatives, not to mention life itself. Jesus similarly taught: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37 (Bible).”

In the words of Swami Vivekananda:

“Here am I, one of the least of the Hindu race, yet proud of my race, proud of my ancestors. I am proud to call myself a Hindu.”

Recently, The Times of India, in its Newspaper of 16th March, 2013 reported:

“The Income-tax Appellate Tribunal of the Govt. of India had held that Hinduism was neither a religion nor a community. It consisted of a number of communities having different gods worshipped in different ways. Even the worship of God was not essential for a person who had adopted the Hindu way of life. The Tribunal further said, “Hinduism holds within its fold men of divergent views and traditions who have very little in common except a vague faith what may be called as the fundamentals of Hinduism.” According to it, the word ‘community’ meant people living in the same place, under the same laws and regulations and who have common rights and privileges. This may apply to Christianity or Islam but not to Hindu.

Meditation —Bringing Harmony in Life

imageMeditation- Harmony of Life

 

            When you listen to the silence in the early hours just before sunrise, something within you   resonates as if in recognition of the Reality—–Eckhart Tolly

            Meditation is your true nature———–Ramana Maharishi

            Helping you to explore the hidden treasures in your soul.

 

Definition:     

The Cambridge dictionary defines meditation as the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed.’

All of us as humans know that when our mind is calm, quiet and peaceful, how easy it is to take right decisions and experience a real joy in our beings. When the mind is calm, meditation happens spontaneously and when we meditate mind calms down automatically. For a tranquil state of mind, meditation is the only way.

What is Meditation?

With the new awakening in human understanding, the word ‘meditation’ is heard quite often and more and more people want to know about it. It is a process of giving training to your mind to give focused attention on the thing contemplated to be meditated upon. It is giving training to your thoughts to remain calm and still leading to a thoughtless state. It is a form of concentration. While normally concentration can be applied to any activity and it is needed for the successful completion of any task however insignificant it may be, concentration when applied to an aspect of God/Reality/Spirit is called meditation.

The divine potential in human soul is capable of achieving anything it fixes its mind upon. The law of attraction is working secretly. Everything that comes into your life you are attracting it into your life. It is attracted to you by virtue of the images you are holding in your mind. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting that to you.

Ramana Maharishi said, “Meditation is your true nature. You call it meditation now because there are other thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts are dispelled, you remain alone, that is, in the state of meditation free from thoughts and that is your true nature.

In meditation we get hold of the camera and direction. Everything remains the same, but we get a new script and a new star. Even biologically we become different persons. Behaviour becomes different, thinking changes, the person is wholly transformed.

 

 

Perspective:

Indian Civilization had its origin in the forests and it took a distinct character from this origin and environment. It was surrounded by the vast life of nature, was fed and clothed by her, and had the closest and most constant intercourse with her varying aspects.

The aim of Indian civilization, especially before the Western influence started to have its impact, was not to acquire but to realize, to enlarge its consciousness by feeling the unity of all objects of creation. Under this feeling of harmony for all objects of nature, the forest-dwelling sages of India wanted to embrace all humanity in their fold. In spite of a different view for the nature adopted in the Western civilizations, India put all her emphasis on harmony that exists between the individual and the nature.

The fundamental unity of creation was not a philosophical speculation for India; it was her life’s ambition to realize this great harmony in feeling and in action. With meditation and service, with a regulation of her life, she cultivated her consciousness in such a way that everything had a spiritual meaning to her. Meditation regulated her feelings and service to others brought meditation in action. Such is the base of this great civilization on earth.

The fundamental unity of every aspect of creation was her ideal of perfection as if every note is necessary for completeness of the symphony. True human progress is coincident with the widening of the range of feelings. The theme of hoary Upanishads of Indian heritage, the pinnacle of spiritual glory is “In order to find Him, you must embrace all.”

Nelson Mandela said, “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dream of.”

To a man of physical sciences, earth and water hold no more meanings than a play of different forces of nature. To a spiritual man it is different. In the Bhagvad Gita, the Lord says, “I am the fragrance in the soil of the earth and taste in the water. Every one of us human- beings especially those living in the Orient know what charm the fragrance in soil of the earth holds, especially when the first rain drops fall on it and how this fragrance enters the crops and vegetables grown in the soil as distinct taste in each variety! Ask a thirsty man about the incomparable satisfying taste of water and he will find himself short of words to describe it. It has satisfied something inner in him. Water has its own distinct taste and no other drink can match it. The water does not only clean man’s limbs, but it purifies his heart. The earth does not merely hold his body but it gladdens his mind; for its contact is more than a physical contact—it is a living presence. This way the spiritual man finds himself in harmony with the gifts of nature.

Why Meditation?

While considering the subject of meditation, we have to first understand and later realize what we humans are like; what are our strengths and what are our weaknesses. Even a lay human being understands that he can perform activities with his body only till the element of life flows in him. The moment this element (usually called soul) leaves, the human is dead and his physical body is immediately discarded. His existence vanishes from the world. As mentioned in another chapter also, Paramahansa Yogananda has defined souls as the ‘Radiating rays of Spirit, of the same essence as the Spirit is; like sun and its rays. Thus essence of the human souls is essence of the Spirit and has the same potential as Spirit has. This basic fact has not only to be understood but realized at deeper level. The ignorance about this basic potential is the root cause of human miseries and forces him to seek birth after birth. Successive births in human body have wrapped layers on layers of ignorance on the souls (like layers on layers in onions). Here meditation comes as a vehicle to go on a journey within and uncover layers of ignorance one by one to make the soul shine in its glory.

Some people completely drown out in the sound of creation. There is static in untuned nervous system. The process of meditation helps to get nervous system back in tune. All the suffering comes from untuned nervous system.

Meditation is like giving a hug to ourselves, getting in touch with that awesome Reality in us. While meditating we feel a deep sense of intimacy with God, a love that is inexplicable.

Meditation is experiencing love of a different kind, a different flavour. It is a pure unconditional love for the entire existence. In this process, love starts flowing from its Source (God) through the ‘Om’ vibration. Sincere practice will make you realize this for yourself.

Meditation gives us the zeal to do absolutely anything that creates positivity within and around us. It is like warmth in the chilly, wintry life of spiritual wilderness. It gives a great solace.

When you sit in silence of deep meditation, joy wells up from within. The joy of meditation is overwhelming.

Laboratory for Truth

Yogananda says, “Meditation is the only real way to discriminate between truth and error. You should have a place of silence which will be your laboratory to test the truth. Great metaphysicians use temples of silence to distil the divine discrimination in silence. Meditation is the channel that puts you in touch with the Infinite Intelligence. When you commune with that Intelligence you are able to understand all secrets of creation.”

It is an attempt to harmonise the heterogeneous complexity of outward materials by an inner adjustment. In the search we gradually become aware that to find out the One is to possess the All; that here indeed is our last and highest privilege (RabindarnathTagore in ‘Sadhna’).

 

Living a Balanced Life

Everything in nature is working in balance. The Sun, the Earth, the Moon and countless other stars and planets are revolving in their own orbits in a complete balance. Any object which loses its balance falls down and gets destroyed. Our body itself is a perfect balance on its feet. But to live human life in a balance is a real challenge and here meditation comes as a great aid.

Paramahansa Yogananda says1, “Mankind is like a large zoo-so many people behaving so differently, most of them having no real control over themselves. But before one realizes the true goal of life; he has to have that self-control. He must seek balance. Perfect balance is the altar of God. Strive for this; and once you have attained it, never lose it. Christ did not lose it when he was being nailed to the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The ordinary person cannot bear his tests. He needs a calm, quiet and peaceful mind to gain energy.

Living lives facing dualities of creation drains energies. Besides keeping the physical bodies free from problems of disease etc., the vagaries of mind are hard to control. Thoughts, emotions and feelings continue to play their role every moment and upset the balance of our lives. Like ‘babes’ in the woods of life, we are forced to learn by our own experiences and troubles stumbling into pitfalls of sickness and wrong habits. Let us now see how meditation can be done:

1.Man’s Eternal Quest -145.

 

How Meditation is done:

Though many names have been given to meditations like Zen, Vipasana, Transcendental, Insight, Mindful, etc. the basic ingredients are the same. It is a process and a discipline of body, mind and soul. Irrespective of age, class, creed, religion, faith, man, women, processes of meditation are the same for every one. It is universally common to all. Any one can practice. Besides bodily discipline, it helps to calm down all the systems in the body, calm down thoughts, calm down mind chatter, emotions and feelings.

For learning anything new in life, help from one who already knows it is necessary. Besides physical discipline, success in meditation also needs blessings from a God-realized master/guru. Joining organizations founded by the masters where monks take care of step-by-step instructions and continue to guide the individual on various steps from time to time is in fact the right course. We will however discuss some basic steps here to inspire the individual to start doing meditations even while waiting for his guide. In his book ‘Just 7 Days to Excellence’, the author has also given basic guidelines to do meditations. The book contains practical exercises in conducting meditations as well.

Although meditation can be done anytime, it is better if done on empty stomach (at least three hours after taking food).The best times are thus early mornings, afternoon hours, evening before taking dinner or before going to bed in the night.

The teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda contain minute instructions for doing meditations. All his teachings revolve around meditations. His series of ‘Lessons’ are available to all truth seekers in the world, irrespective of any kind of affiliations through his organization—YSS/SRF. In his organization regular meditations are done in all centres and temples. Specific techniques of meditation based on scientific principles are taught to lesson members.

Literature on meditations is also available in Ramakrishna Mission Ashrams spread throughout India and the world.

Doing Simple Meditations

For doing simple meditation, the first requirement is to feel totally relaxed and have willingness to sit for some time to remember God alone. This is virtually a pre-requisite for any kind of meditation. Find a silent corner in your home or if nothing seems suitable sit comfortably on your bed itself. First thing is learning to sit still and in silence without movement of any body parts. Make this simple habit as a regular part of your meditation process. The recommended asana(method of sitting) for sitting is ‘Padamasana’ or Lotus posture. If you can sit in this asana it is alright, otherwise sit in easy or sukhasana posture or even on an armless chair. Keep yourself completely relaxed, spine straight but not tense, head straight, chin parallel to the ground or a bit raised upwards. Eyes should be kept closed imagining looking upwards; downwards eyes induce sleep. Keep attention calmly at the place between the eyebrows.

Now do (about ten times) very slow but deep inhaling and exhaling exercise. This will help you to fully relax and oxygenate your body. Now chant Om many times in a deep melodious voice to invoke the presence of God and say a prayer to God in the language of your heart. Keeping attention fixed at the point between the eyebrows, visualise the image of any deity or guru that inspires you or visualise that you are surrounded by a halo of God’s light, thank God that he gave you time to sit for Him and also for so many gifts of life. Keep sitting conveniently for as much as time as you like. You can do Japa (repetition of God’s name) also. Before closing chant Om again many times and say a prayer to God through the words coming straight from your heart.

Ma Anandamayi says:

Initially, sitting for meditation causes uneasiness or pain in one’s limbs. When small children start to learn reading they cannot concentrate. How many books they destroy, how many they tear to pieces and throw away. They do not understand their value. But slowly and gradually, as they acquire fluency in reading, it gives them joy. At first people study in the hope of becoming rich, but later they come to understand the value of knowledge. By labouring hard, practice is acquired. With how much zeal do you learn in order to pass your examinations? Finally you become B.A’s and M.A’s. But here we are concerned with Supreme knowledge. At first the mind does not become steady and one cannot find any delight in the repetition of the name of God or in meditation. The mind is concerned with bodily comforts, just as children spoil their books. By Japa, meditation or other spiritual exercises, one’s thinking has to be brought under control. By practice the mind becomes steady.

 

Benefits of Meditations:

There are innumerable benefits of meditation. One can not count them on fingers. In fact this affects whole of human’s thinking process. Every segment of life comes under a systematic regulation. One really learns to live his life in a right way. Whole complex of our activity changes from negative to positive.

But mind it that meditation is only a process and results may or may not come in your expected time although they are sure to come. The results are dependent on one’s own sincerity, willingness and zeal to do meditation. Perfect state of meditation being human’s true nature; sooner or later; humanity has to learn this lesson to remain on the path to progress. No one can really run away from it. One day or the other everyone has to kneel down and seek help to learn this process. It is man alone who has run away from his true nature and he alone has to come back. Wise are those who listen to the true counsel of Masters in time and put their life on the road to success.

The power of mind when it remembers and desires, when it thinks again and again, belongs to Spirit. Therefore, let the mind meditate on Spirit.

 –  Kena Upanishad

The Supreme, being formless, can not be discerned by the senses, hence all knowledge of Him must be acquired by the subtler faculties of the heart, intellect and mind, which are developed only through the purifying practice of meditation.

                                                                                                                         –  Katha Upanishad

 

Story of Supreme’s Loving Compassion

img07.jpgEncouraged by hearty response to the Blog’The Supreme’from many of you, I share a story of Supreme’s loving compassion:

(From Author’s Book ‘Just 7 Days to Excellence’)

May be you have heard this story earlier. Still I hope you would  enjoy as God’s love flows in this story. Through this story you will understand and like to practice God’s loving presence..
“Once a blessed devotee prayed to God to be his friend.
The Lord agreed to be his friend and promised that He will be with him in all circumstances of life”.
“A time came when the devotee had to walk a long distance
through the desert. Before starting he called upon the Lord to
accompany him on this long journey. They started the journey
together. While walking, the devotee was time and again
looking back to see that the Lord was with him by ensuring
that there were four foot- prints on the sand (two for each of them).

However, when he was passing through difficult terrain
and high dunes, he could see only two foot prints. He got
worried and was annoyed with the Lord thinking that the
Lord left him whenever difficult terrain came”.
“At the end of the journey he felt tired and in a choking
voice asked the Lord who was standing beside him as to why
He had left him in difficult moments and on uneven terrain.
The Lord smiled and said,” Oh, my dear! I never left you even for a moment. When you saw only two footprints, I was then carrying you in my arms”.

“This is how the Lord is compassionate and takes care of all of us even in difficult times.

 

Concentration and the Art of Listening

image  (   This is from Author’s new proposed Book. Please favor me with your comments to help me improve this article. On the suggestions of one of the readers the article has been revised, please read again. Thanks)

Concentration/ Art of Listening

What is Concentration

Concentration is the power to focus the mind on any desired line of thought. Development of this power is an art, practice for which should be introduced from the very beginning i.e. from the pre-school stage in humans. Concentration channelises all energies of our system to focussed attention on the particular thing to be concentrated upon.

Mental efficiency depends upon one’s development of the art of concentration. All men of success have been men of great concentration; men who could dive deeply into their problems and come out with right solutions.

From the beginning in childhood when humans start learning doing things themselves, attention/concentration is needed in every act, howsoever, insignificant it may be. Even a simple act, like fastening of shoe laces or threading a needle requires attention/concentration.

Concentration is deploying the power inherent in humans by which (i) they can free their attention from objects of distraction which cause hindrance in concentration, and (ii) directing the freed power to the desired activity which requires concentration.

Concentration and intuitive faculties have to be developed in order to expand the power of the mind so that it can assimilate the facts you feed it. The ability to listen also requires concentration. Through concentration, awareness is transferred into the power of attention. Concentration enables us to focus our attention on what is being said.

Why Humans Generally Lack Concentration

In practice, however, this important aspect of our lives remains undeveloped. The subject of concentration is not taught in schools, colleges or universities. Whatever little is learnt through normal practices remains with us throughout our lives. We go on struggling, sometimes up and sometimes down the ladder but are not able to do much about it. Even an ordinary businessman or another similar professional uses only about twenty-five percent of his power of concentration. One of great cause of the failure of people in business is the lack of concentration. Great businessmen and social and spiritual reformers are, however, men of keen concentration.

How Concentration is linked to Brain

Concentration is the master function of the brain. Focussed concentration is the most influential power of all our mental abilities. The Oxford Dictionary defines concentration as the intense mental application. It is the main executive function of the brain and is the prime ability that controls all other functions of the brain. Our overall mental performance and total brain power depends on the level and focus of concentration.

All the cognitive abilities such as memory, reasoning, imagination, creativity and intuition depend on the focussed concentration which ultimately reflects on brain power. Scattered and fragmented attention on many things and many places affects brain activity and slows it down. Thus mental efficiency depends upon one’s development of the art of concentration. All men of success, like Albert Einstein, have been men of great concentration.

Learning Concentration

Concentration is the inherent faculty in humans. For learning concentration you have not to go anywhere. Just start doing small acts of work in your life with proper attention. Make it a rule of your life that anything that passes through your hands will bear a mark of excellence on it. Practice and you will succeed.

Some simple tips of help in learning concentration are:

– The subject or object of concentration should be of interest to the person willing to concentrate.

-Do not fatigue your mental capabilities unnecessarily by watching TV, talking on mobile or sleeping late at night for one reason or the other. Early sleep between 9 to 12 pm refreshes you double than sleep after 12pm.

-Do not continuously sit at one place for long hours. Keep moving after short intervals. Movement of the body sends more oxygen to your brain helping you to concentrate better.

– Use focussing, indirect steady light on your study table. Avoid glares.

– Sit on a not overly comfortable chair and table. Dining type chairs are best suited for the purpose. Sit up straight to aid concentration.

– Do one thing perfectly at a time. Let other things rest for taking up at their own turn. Whatever you do, do with a stamp of perfection. Good work is the best substitute for the genius; it is better capital than cash; it is better promoter than friends. Concentration is the key. Do not pay attention to distractions. Take phone off the hook. Keep your mobiles in silent mode.

– Meditation is the most powerful of all concentration techniques. Learn a few simple meditation methods* and practice them daily starting from five minutes to 15 minutes. Sitting still and calmly for a few seconds before taking up work for the day is also a type of meditation.

*Author’s book ‘Just 7 Days to Excellence (Published by Unistar Books Pvt. Ltd, Chandigarh, India) outlines simple meditation techniques with examples of guided meditation.

–          Above all have the courage to focus on what is important, have adequate courage to concentrate. Arouse the sleeping lion in you. Temptations to avoid focussing your efforts are ever present. Deal with them with the courage of a hero.

– For achieving results that astonish those who do not master the most valuable secret of concentration put to good use all odd minutes, half-hours, unexpected holidays, gaps “between times” and chasms of waiting for unpunctual persons, etc.

Swami Vivekananda says,

 “We all concentrate upon those things that we love and we love those things upon which we concentrate our minds on. Concentration is the systematic development of the mind. The very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts. If I had to do my education again, I would not study facts at all.”

He continues:

World is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow comes through concentration. There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear at one point. This is the secret.”

How Concentration Works

Concentrated attention is very sharp. You can very well understand it by using a magnetic glass or convex lens to concentrate sunlight. Dispersed rays of the sun are warm and comforting; but when concentrated and converged they become very powerful and even may ignite any inflammatory material.

How Meditation and Concentration help each other

The teachings of both the Masters as well as Raja Yoga system of Patanjali lead us to the most practical and efficacious method of meditation for a happy and balanced living. A proper meditation, however, requires you to first attune yourself to the thought that you are going to sit in meditation for your Beloved God and it needs your complete attention/concentration. In fact when you do a work with full concentration it becomes a sort of meditation.

Swami Vivekananda says: “The main difference between men and animals is the difference in their power of concentration. All success in any line of work is the result of concentration. All knowledge that we have, either of external or internal world, is obtained through only one method—by the concentration of mind.”

Paramahansa Yogananda says, “When a problem thwarts you-when you find no solution and no one to help you-go into meditation. Meditate until you find the solution. It will come. I have tested this hundreds of times, and I know the focussing power of attention never fails. It is the secret of success. Concentrate, and don’t stop until your concentration is perfect. Then go after what you want. As a mortal being you are limited but as a child of God you are unlimited. Connect your concentration with God. Concentration is everything. As your attention becomes focussed with practice, it will burn out all deficiency from your mind and you will feel the power of God coming over you. That power can destroy all seeds of failure.”

 

The Art of Listening:

                The Dictionary meaning of listening is—hears with attention, pay close attention to or give heed to. Have you ever examined how you listen? It may be to a bird, to blowing wind in the leaves, to the rushing waters, to your friends, to your relatives or to any other person with whom you normally communicate. Perhaps, never. Isn’t it really hard to examine one’s own self!

Why Listening is important

J. Krishnamurti says,” The simple act of listening can change people’s lives and the world. When you are listening to somebody, completely attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it and not part of it.”

Listening goes beyond a verbal exchange of words and feelings. It includes how well we pay attention and how we form, what we perceive, into meaning. Listening is an act that connects us with the universe, throughout the totality of time and space. Very few of us, however, listen with that quality of attention. Let us examine this important aspect in our lives in more detail.

When we try to listen, we find it extraordinarily difficult, because we are always projecting our ideas and opinions, our prejudices, our backgrounds, our inclinations, our impulses, etc. And when these things dominate, we hardly listen at all to what is being said.

How In that state there is no value at all. One listens and therefore, learns only in a state of attention, a state of silence, in which the whole background is in abeyance, is quiet.

Usually, we use our sense of listening in a routine of the type we breathe air. It is such a common experience everyday that we just hear words without paying much attention to the process of listening. As an experiment, while you are reading these lines, just pause for a moment and think how you are listening to the meanings behind the words in these lines. Next time when you are talking to your spouse or children, friends, relatives or colleagues, always pause in- between, to think that you are listening to them properly.

Listening is a state of presence which includes attentiveness to what is in the foreground and background of our attention. In fact, the ideal type of listening would be where action, feeling and thinking happen in harmony with each other.

*Steve Gazzano, in his article on ‘Resolving Conflicts through Understanding’ recommends reflective listening as a means to resolving conflicts. His views are reproduced below:

“Many people are so busy multitasking on their favourite mobile devices these days that they don’t have the time or patience to focus on another person in any meaningful or caring way, let alone listen to them patiently and acknowledge their viewpoint. Because of this we are becoming islands of isolation, often feeling adrift. We are offended by others’ actions, we feel they are not listening, and we are frustrated and angry. So what are we to do?”

“By learning the skill of reflective listening, individuals can slow down heated conversations and come away feeling empowered—Often this moment casts the problem in a whole new light and generates the feeling that the other party has a valid viewpoint too.”

“Reflective listening involves both reflection and listening. Reflection is to introspect deeply and consider what has been said. But, crucially, it also means to reflect back—repeating to the other person in your own words what he or she said. Listening is being attentive; it is being fully present in the moment, not looking at your mobile device or impatiently waiting for a chance to interrupt so you can start talking again. Nor is listening just a period of silence in a conversation for you to plan your next move and launch a counterattack. Listening is like the rain: it is nourishing, soothing, and can give that understanding we all look for in our relationship with others.”

Once Rajarsi Janakananda (James. J.Lynn), spiritual successor to Paramahansa Yogananda was sitting to listen to his Guru’s discourse. As the Guru started saying opening prayer—“Heavenly Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved God”—Rajarsi got so intoxicated with the words that he almost fell to one side of the chair he was sitting on. Other participants got curious to know how it had happened. The Guru said,” He knows how to listen.”

Rajarsi’s relationship with his Guru was characterized by a profound receptivity to the smallest detail of his Guru’s spiritual counsel. Paramahansa Yogananda once said, “When students ask me why Saint Lynn was able to make such rapid progress, I reply: He knows how to listen.”

Interestingly, the alphabets contained in the words ‘listen’ and ‘silent’ are the same. You can listen to the all permeating sound of Aum or Amin by remaining truthfully silent.

*Steve Gazzano, has been a member of Self-Realization Fellowship of Paramahansa Yogananda, for more than 30 years. He has a Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution from the University of Massachusetts. His article was printed in SRF magazine of Spring 2012.

Philosophy of Life

imagePhilosophy of Life

                   Who am I who speaks, walks, stands and functions on this elaborate stage known as the World? I should find this out.                     

                                                                                                            ——-Yog Vashista

What is this drama of life? One comes, another goes. From where to where? No one knows!

The entire creation is a stage. Diverse scenes arise and cease day after day. The stage is illumined by the sun, moon and stars accompanied by celestial music and the roaring of the oceans. Acting on this stage is a journey from unknown to unknown. Without any knowledge of past or future, we come here for a limited time, act, play and go. Neither the beginning nor the end, only middle becomes visible and that too vanishes like bubbles on water. Lost in the formation and extinction of life, we also fail to understand, who we are. Why we came as life in body and why we go? Answers to all these questions remain unresolved and humanity rolls over millennia on millennia. The wheel rotates and rotates forever. Only a few determined men, who understand the philosophy of life and live their lives in accordance with the cosmic principles, fly off the tangent and get released forever.

To understand the complete philosophy of life seems an intrigue proposition. It is so uncertain and flimsy, outwardly differing from man to man but inwardly within one’s own self also. In a given moment you think something and in the next moment thoughts get topsy-turvy. Swami Sivananda says, “Thought is a living dynamic power—the most vital, subtle and irresistible force existing in the universe.”Every one of us understands how thoughts dominate our lives and how tricky they are. Swami Vivekananda says, “From the very nature of things, it is difficult to understand anything of the world.”

Let us, however, involve ourselves more deeply in this drama and try to make an attempt to know something from the wisdom of great men of our times. Bit by bit we will try to understand how life comes about, takes birth, grows, plays, decays and then leaves and whether there is anything like liberation from this cycle of birth and death.

Death and Birth Principles

Swami Sri Yukteswar told Paramahansa Yogananda (Chapter 43-Autobiography of a Yogi) that human body is a matrix of thirty-five ideas required by God as the basic or causal thought forces. From these thirty-five ideas was formed the subtle astral body of nineteen elements (mental, emotional and lifetronic/*Prana) and the gross physical body of sixteen material elements supported and activated by nineteen elements of subtle energy. These nineteen elements comprise of intelligence; ego; feeling; mind (sense consciousness); the powers behind five instruments of knowledge–senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch; and powers behind five instruments of action—abilities to procreate, excrete, talk, walk, and exercise manual skill; and five instruments of life force, those empowered to perform the crystallising, assimilating, eliminating, metabolising, and circulating functions of the body. This subtle astral encasement of nineteen elements leaves for a higher realm (normally called heaven or Swarga) on the death of the physical body. The physical body which was made with the combination of sixteen gross chemical elements (“the dust of the ground”) merges back in its origin. The cohesive force by which all the three bodies, causal, astral and physical are held together is desire and the power of unfulfilled desires is the bond that keeps humans to seek birth after birth on earth.

According to the re-incarnation principles, the death in the earlier life is linked to birth in the new life. The scripture Yog Vashista says that at the time of death, when *prana is about to leave the body it already makes contact with those elements with which the next birth is to be fashioned. These elements are the crystallization of the vasanas (psychological conditioning, memory store, past impressions and predisposition) of the individual self and this is the reason why the individual-self clings to these elements. When the prana leaves the body it takes with it all the vasanas of the individual self.

We further learn from the scriptures that the souls of humans after their last death on earth stay in the astral world (Swarga) for a time determined according to their own karma (causes and effects of past actions).These souls consisting of nineteen astral elements remain invisible to the earth inhabitants. As the period of their stay in astral world nears conclusion, the unfulfilled desires of past lives start showing signs of revival. These then force such souls to seek rebirth on earth.

*1. Prana is the universal principal of energy or force. It is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe, all the forces in nature and powers which are hidden in men and which lie everywhere around us.

2. All forces, all powers and prana spring from the fountain or common source, known as atman.

3. Whatever moves or has life is but an expression or manifestation of prana.

4. It is prana that shines in your eyes. It is through the power of prana that the ear hears, the eyes see, the skin feels, the tongue tastes, the nose smells and the brain and intellect perform their functions.

5. Prana is the Force, magnetism and electricity. Radio waves travel through prana.

6. Prana is the link between the physical and astral body. When the slender thread-like prana is cut the astral body separates from the physical body; death takes place. The prana that was working in the physical body is withdrawn into the astral body.

7. The seat of prana is the heart, its function is respiration.

Source:  Internet- Bihar School of Yoga

 

 

 Conception and Growth of Foetus

Paramahansa Yogananda explains (Man’s Eternal Quest—Chapter on Man’s Greatest Adventure) that with the union of sperm and ovum to form a new human body (Embryo), a flash of light appears in the astral world. This flash of light transmits a pattern which attracts a soul according to that soul’s karma (the self-created influences from actions of past lives). Many souls vie to enter this new cell of life although only one is victorious. The heredity of past incarnations has led to your being born in the particular family and environment. Thus your environment is the result of your true heredity.

The successful soul (invisible till now) enters mother’s womb and starts guiding the formation of new human body through prana principle (in terms of modern science, it can be said, ‘through the programmed software of God’) from a microscopic organism to a well-defined form. The Prana starts its functioning from the very moment a child is conceived, whereas the organs of hearing, etc. begin to function only when their special abodes, viz. the ears, etc. are formed.

Within mother’s body the unborn child struggles against disease, darkness and periodic feelings of limitation and frustration as it remembers its greater freedom during astral rest. The soul within the embryo has also to contend itself with karmas programmed over it during previous births. Subtly, these karmas influence for good or ill the formation of the new body. Additionally, it encounters the vibratory influences that reach it from outside environment and actions of the mother, external sounds and sensations, vibrations of love and hate, peace and anger. This is how infant’s body takes shape in the mother’s womb. The process also explains why some children are born with not very good looking shapes while some have beautiful faces; some get angry so easily while others smile.

Research on Brain Waves in the University of Helsinki (Source: Internet) mentions:

“Be careful what you say around a pregnant woman. As a foetus grows inside mother’s belly, it can hear sounds from the outside world—and can understand them well enough to retain memories of them, after birth.”

Birth and Infancy

The infant arrives in this world crying. The saints say that the soul remembers its previous incarnations and does not like the thought of coming back to earth again to go through the struggle of life here. After birth the struggles of the infant are between its instinct to seek comfort and survival and the opposing helplessness of its immature bodily instrument. The instinct to survival brought forth from previous incarnations brings with it the fear element. As the infant grows into little child he is surrounded by the influences of mother’s and father’s guiding will, and the wills of other relatives as well. Each one wants him to be something different.

Everyone is the product of heredity and environment. If you born in America you reflect distinctive American characteristics. If you were born in China or England, you will reflect the interest of those nationalities.

As a child the conscious struggles start between desire to play aimlessly and desires to learn, study and pursue some course of systematic training. Brain starts adapting to learning the daily experiences and such experiences literally shape the brain as the child grows. Daily repetition of similar types of experiences makes fixed connections of axons and dendrites in the brain leading to long term memories and forming of habits. . Habits, especially those of food start taking root. During this period the child has great many struggles with such conflicting pressures.

The brain reaches 90 percent of its full size by six years of age.

Adolescence

Then adolescence period (between teen- age and adulthood) comes in. It passes through multiple transitions involving education, playing, arguments and helplessness to do bigger things which with repetitions start modulating into anger. Attachment to own body starts creeping in. The children want to do things in their own way leading to growing of ego. A stage is laid for onset of puberty also. On the physical side hormones start raging, sex organs develop, height, weight, muscles as well as major changes in brain structure occur. Increase in worldly knowledge, in the ability to think abstractly and reason more effectively comes. This is in fact the most crucial and difficult period in human development. Each day pushes man further and further into the battlefield of life.

The youth stage brings temptations of sex, greed, easy money making methods, good or bad company and other social influences. The adulthood is influenced by misery-making wrong desires, destructive habits, failure, ignorance, disease and unhappiness. From now onwards the story of our lives is almost the same—getting jobs for living, marriage, children, their bringing up at least till they reach adulthood and their settlement. Body starts showing weariness and getting easily tired. Signs of old age start to appear, deposit of uric acid in joints and other sluggish working of metabolism system starts affecting normal working. Struggling with diseases, loneliness, the life looks burden. Loved ones start departing and in all around aches and pains time comes to go back into the circle.

Paramahansa Yogananda says (Man’s Eternal Quest) it is wonderful to be alive. Man with his intelligence knows how to protect himself against animals, but he does not know how to protect himself against his own bad habits and evil ways. The greatest of all enemies of man is himself.

This way every human becomes a victim of the varied circumstances of life in which he is placed on the earth. The present day education helps him to grow intellectually only. It has not guided him to become a complete man. The truth however is that he is essentially a soul and possesses all the powers of nature hidden within himself. This very soul has guided (through intuition) his growth into body from the time of conception in mother’s womb. However, the successive development of his own mind working through his own free will has pushed him into worldly life of duality. Almost for sixteen hours daily a man remains attached to his physical body. Slowly and slowly the soul faculty gets suppressed and the individual becomes a fully material man. Playing with dualities every time, he finds himself in dark alleys showing no way to come out. In sheer ignorance he has himself distorted the rhythm of life at every step.

Master’s tell us that while on one side of human lives are the dark alleys of ignorance, on the other side of his life is the eternal light of wisdom or the guidance of the soul available within his own being. Egotism, pride, greed, anger and other ugly growths of self-centeredness have been barriers to seeing the light of wisdom. These have prevented his escape from the misery of sufferings.

Need for right Education

Dear Reader, what do you think is the reason for this plight of human beings? No doubt there are successful men also but if you could analyse their lives you will find that such people got the right education and right opportunities to develop and they had also been men of great concentration. Is it then not that the success or failure of a human life is dependent on the education he received from his parents, environment, and school /college teachers? Imagine the plight of a newly born child who is left in a forest for some reasons but somehow is able to sustain life. Will he not become a forest beast (Junglee)?

From the cradle to the grave to ascension in Spirit, the whole of civilization is based on passing down of knowledge from the learned to the learner. The infant learns from his parents, a child/youth from his teachers in schools/colleges, a worker from his trained supervisor and so on. The principle of teacher/taught or guru/disciple relationship pervades whole of our lives. From science to spirituality, from birth to death, the teacher/guru principle works. The level of attainment rises or falls with the aptitude of the student and the qualification of the mentor.

Thus the foundation for the whole structure of human life is the training/education one receives from his elders. Interestingly, elders/mentors can give only what they themselves have and if the parents/teachers themselves don’t possess the right intelligence how can they be expected to give it to the children.

Lack of right education at the primary stages of life largely results into misery of human beings as they grow older. All the religious teachings of the world, saints, sages and Avatars tell us that there is a Supreme Force (known as God) which governs every speck of creation including humans. Indirectly, even science accepts that there is a Force (God Particle) which is the basis for everything. Spirituality is the science which deals with the various aspects of such a Force. It is the only Reality and repository of all virtues. Everything has emanated from it. Spirituality thus becomes the mother of all sciences or the highest science to be known by man. This however does not find a place in any school/college curriculum.

Many people, in the later stages of their lives try to learn this subject from scriptures of various religions, from spiritual teachers, etc but then it is too late as almost a complete damage has already been done. At this stage every human finds himself dumped into his own habits and a victim of the circumstances in which he is placed.Paramahansa Yogananda mentions in his Autobiography of a Yogi (FN: Chapter 17) that an educational system that does not present Spirit as the central Fact of man’s existence is offering, avidya, false knowledge.

According to Swami Vivekananda also, *education does not mean the mass of information which is inserted by force into the mind of a child. Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man. Indian nationalism and spiritualism were the basic foundations for his philosophy of education and the philosophy of Vedanta and Upanishads. He was against the system of contemporary education which turned men into slaves. He emphasized that the aim of education was to be life-building, man-making and character-making. He also said that knowledge without culture was only skin deep.

Paramahansa Yogananda says in his book ‘Man’s Eternal Quest (Page 267)’ that the visible man is a delusion while the invisible man within him is real. When one comes to know of this he will know that he is not merely a mass of bones and flesh, but an indestructible invisible man.  Whole of the universe has been created by the Divine Will, and when one makes efforts to get tuned to it, he starts getting whatever he wants just by mere willing.

Paramahansa Yogananda further mentions in his Autobiography (Ch.5, Page 42):

“Man can understand no eternal verity until he has freed himself from pretensions. The human mind, bared to a centuried slime, is teeming with the repulsive life of countless world- delusions. Struggles of battlefield pale into insignificance here, when man first contends with inner enemies! No mortal foes these, to be overcome by a harrowing array of might! Omnipresent, unresting, pursuing man even in sleep, subtly equipped with miasmic weapons, these soldiers of ignorant lusts seek to slay us all. Thoughtless is the man who buries his ideals, surrendering to the common fate. May he seem other than impotent, wooden, ignominious?”

“Few there be who solve her (Nature’s) mystery! Good and evil is the challenging riddle which life places sphinx like before every intelligence. Attempting no solution, most men pay forfeit with their lives, penalty now even as in the days of Thebes. Here and there, a towering lonely figure never cries defeat. From the maya of duality he plucks the cleaveless truth of unity.”

The right philosophy of life would be that we, as humans, are able to live healthy, prosperous, happy, contended and rewarding lives. Human body is a vehicle to work out our Karmas. We should reap the richest harvest from this gift of God. Our successful living in this vehicle of sixteen chemical elements will improve the working in the astral body of nineteen elements which will be our home when the vehicle of sixteen elements gets discarded and has to be abandoned.

  • Source: Internet—Swami Vivekananda’s views on philosophy of education—Research Paper by P.Nithiya, Research Scholar.

The dominant thought running throughout the Isa- Upanishad is that we can not enjoy life or realize true happiness unless we consciously cover all with the omnipresent Lord. If we are not fully conscious of that which sustains our lives, we can not live wisely and perform our duties. When one sees all creatures within his true Self, then jealousy, grief and hatred vanish. Such a person alone can really love all and be in harmony with nature.

Bhagvad Gita, the most famous Indian scripture contains a complete philosophy of life and guides you how to practically achieve the freedom that one needs to enjoy his life fully on earth.

Paramahansa Yogananda says: “Have only two real ambitions in life. First is to know God and the second is to play your part on earth as his perfect child.”

Based on the guidance of the great masters of India, the author, in his book ‘Just 7 Days to Excellence’* has made attempts to practically guide the reader to achieve these two lofty ambitions.

The whole of Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings are a complete guide for the realizations of both the ambitions. These teachings are available to all truth seekers through his organization SRF/YSS**. Complete literature of Swami Vivekananda is also available through Rama Krishna Mission Centres*** in various cities in India and abroad.

Main essence of Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy of life is to become fearless through struggle and serve humanity with peace.

The vital question is seriousness on the part of seeker to understand the philosophy of life. It is a hard work but rewards start coming soon after one starts practising the teachings honestly. The key is living a balanced life and taking care of Body, mind and soul together as a package for fulfilment of our ambitions.

 

 

*Published by Unistar Books Pvt.Ltd, SCO 26-27, Sector 34- A, Chandigarh 160022 _India.  Email.    Unistarbooks@gmail.com

**SRF (www.yogananda-srf.org and YSS (www.yogananda-yss.org)

*** Ramakrishna Mission (www.ramakrishna.org)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spirituality

imageSpirituality

What is Spirituality

The Oxford dictionary (Advanced Learner’s) defines spirituality as the quality of being concerned with religion or human spirit. The Wikipedia defines the term as the concept of an ultimate-an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being- or the deepest values and meanings by which people live.”Though these definitions throw some light on the subject but these are not sufficient to make us understand complete meanings of the word.

The root of the word ‘Spirituality’ is Spirit. The word ‘Spirit’ stands for the Ultimate, the Almighty or God and practicing things relating to ‘Spirit’ or God would give us the right understanding of the word ‘spirituality’.

Normally, when someone uses the word ‘spirituality’, the commonly understood meaning or feeling is that the matter relates to another world of religion or philosophy or that It may have something to do with winged angels but not much with practical life. An average person seems to be rather indifferent to it. Such a feeling may be for the reason that results in the path of spirituality are not tangible. Let us try to look at it in a wider perspective.

Only One Reality

The words- ‘Spirit, God, Reality, Truth are identical. The Single, One and only One Entity sustains by its omnipresent consciousness, the whole of the Cosmos, including billions of stars, galaxies, planets, etc. Thought of the Supreme Entity to bring about a creation, prompted a sound to come out of His Being and filled the whole of the Cosmos with it. The sound, first vibrated into cosmic light and then into cosmic intelligence filling all the space with these two primary forces. This sound is thus the first manifestation of God in creation and is known as Aum, Amin or Amen in almost all different religions of the world. It is a matrix for whole of the creation.

How Creation Came into Being

The cosmic intelligence working in conjunction with the power of attraction of the Supreme created innumerable stars and planets. This Force then peopled planets like Earth with beings in its own image. Birds, animals, plants, minerals and various other forms of life also came into being. Whole of this process was done through different expressions of the cosmic intelligence. These expressions came to be known as cosmic laws. Since the process of creation followed specific laws/principles, its sustenance is also done under these laws. Thus, the Cosmic Laws followed for creation and its sustenance are the founding principles of creation. They are always working, whether we are conscious of them or not.

Workings of Cosmic Laws

The Cosmic Laws neither break nor bend. The human mind, however, endowed with free will has the capacity to distort them or bend them, temporarily, for selfish ends. It follows, therefore, that the more we know of these laws, the more we will understand ourselves and of the total life we are leading. The only thing that will not change in our lives is the cosmic laws.

Through the right understanding and application of these laws in a positive, constructive and creative manner we become a master of life and promote our spiritual growth. Those who remain ignorant of these laws simply go through life lamenting their ‘fate’ which no being, God or otherwise has predetermined except such individuals themselves.

 Destiny of Humanity

Humanity, as a whole has a collective destiny determined by the Supreme (God) at respective stages of its evolutionary growth. When it comes to personal destiny, its creation lies a great deal within one’s own hands. The freedom of choice or independent will given by the Almighty to each individual enables him to align himself with the cosmic laws to enjoy heaven or to oppose them and create his own hell. Paramahansa Yogananda says that ignorance of God’s cosmic laws of life is a ‘sin’. Only by living in harmony with His laws do we accomplish the noble purpose of human existence. God never punishes us for our faults; we punish ourselves according to the law of cause and effect. The wages of sin is death. Old age, worries, disease and death are only a few of the effects of sin, or ignorance of the universal law.

Understanding Cosmic Laws

For a proper understanding of the subject we are discussing, let us have a look at some of these known laws, operating in relation to our lives, out of hundreds of such laws:

Law of cosmic awareness; The laws of Love, Mercy, Gratitude, Karma, Forgiveness, Compassion, Patience, Respect, Example, Tolerance, Unity, Honesty, Co-creation/ Harmony, Peace, Justice, Privacy, Security, Authority, Courage, Free-will, Dharma, Affection, Prosperity, Enthusiasm, Reality, etc.

The beauty of cosmic laws is that they are inter-related. You invoke one and you invoke many others. For example: You practice ‘love’ and so many other laws like Mercy, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Compassion, Patience, Respect, Peace, Justice will fall in line and help you. Spirituality, as expressed in love, forgiveness and compassion has no caste, no creed, no sects, and no divisions. It does not know any boundaries.

Love, the law of all laws, is the greatest thing present in whole of creation. It is the spiritual quality of every religion, be it Hindu, Muslim, Christianity, or any other. Love is not an attribute of God, it is God Himself. Whole of the creation blossoms and springs in love. It makes life, a wonderful journey.

In the physical realm cosmic laws are usually known by their effects. The laws, as well as causes of their effects, are unseen, having their origin in higher dimensions. For example: we call our distant friends and relatives, thousands of miles away, on phones and instantly we get connected. In conversations, the voices are travelling thousands of miles without loss of time. Where the space between two people goes in such conversations? If you ask some literate person how is this happening; he will say that this is being done through EMF waves. But who is causing these EMF waves? Thousands of people are conversing every moment, yet their voices don’t mix up. Even tones do not change. Aren’t these great phenomena of the cosmic laws?

Capacity of Human Mind

The human mind, freed from the disturbances or “static” of restlessness, is empowered to perform all functions of complicated radio mechanisms—sending as well as receiving thoughts and turning out undesirable ones. All thoughts vibrate eternally in the cosmos. They are universally rooted and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived.

All men have only limited knowledge and this becomes the cause of all their sufferings. Humanity has now entered into a new Yuga. Proper knowledge of the highly advanced science governing these laws can push humanity into prosperity. By knowing the causes of effects of cosmic laws and by tracing the causation of life’s manifold manifestations, we begin to learn to abide by them and even applying or tapping them for our own benefit. By doing so we may overcome or avoid many unnecessary hardships and struggles in life. Knowing the causes of our problems, by understanding cosmic laws and principles, we learn to take proper control and give direction to our lives. A master of these laws is master-Vegas, an adept.

Spirituality Defined

We can now attempt to define ‘Spirituality’ as a process of knowing, understanding and application of cosmic laws designed by the Cosmic Director to run His universe.

Spirituality kindles, sustains and enhances enthusiasm and enthusiasm is what drives us to our goals. We need to see ourselves as universal people to obtain a holistic personality, where there is appreciation for all ways of life and culture.

Since domain of the cosmic laws is in higher dimensions and they are working perfectly in their own spheres, a study of these laws is the highest science yet to be explored by the humanity. Modern science does know some physical, chemical or biological laws but is yet unaware of the science of cosmic laws.

Note: Hints on practicing spirituality will be dealt with in the next blog.