Soul Culture - Spring 2006

Table of Contents

Paramahamsa Hariharananda:

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda:

Swami Shuddhananda:

Scriptures:

Editorial

Welcome to the Spring issue of Soul Culture. We are pleased to present teachings of divine master Paramahamsa Hariharananda and his explanation of the Gayatri Mantra.

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda in his continued discourse on the "Art of Silence," states that "a silent mind is the most powerful mind." He goes on to elucidate ways to develop the silent mind. We also include some excerpts from his teachings about Love.

In Swami Shuddhananda's discourse on the "Elements of Spiritual Development" he discusses how to experience real happiness. Real happiness comes when we are free from attachment to the body, the mind, and the world, and also conscious.

We also include some extracts from Gurudev's biography "River of Compassion," the metaphorical interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita and the commentary on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as well as a few carefully chosen nectar drops of Baba's wisdom.

Humbly offered at the infinite, formless feet of the Master

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Invocation

gurur madhye sthita vishva
vishva madhye sthito guru
gurur vishva namastubhyam
vishva guru namamyaham

na guroradhikam , na guroradhikam, tantram mantram puja japam na guroradhikam

In the whole universe the spiritual master is abiding and in the spiritual master the whole creation is abiding. I bow to the macrocosm and the microcosm, to the guru in the universe and the universe in the guru. There is nothing greater than the guru. Even spiritual practices like chanting and worship are not superior to the guru. I bow to such a guru.

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The Real Meaning of Gayatri

By Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Most people who are doing Gayatri do not know what Gayatri is. First I will say gayante iti gayatri. You have to watch three things, three sounds: A-U-M. There are seven centers — sapta pranaha, seven lights, seven fires, seven oblations, and seven lokas: bhu in the money center, bhuva in the family center, swa in the navel center, maha (delusion) in the heart center, jana in the cervical center, tapa in the pituitary or the soul center, and satya or truth above that.

The mantra is:

om bhur bhuvaa svah tat savitur
varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo naa pracodayat

The Almighty Father, the Self-effulgent one, provides illumination to the suns in the seven planes. Whose Father is this?  Savitur varenyam bhargo: Among the seven suns, seven souls, the Almighty Father is really the only Sun. It is written in the Upanishads, agne naya supadha raye: that is the real fire, the real Sun. Dhimahi: I am searching Him who has directed the seven suns in seven centers to illuminate my intellect. He is the pushan who is maintaining you. Poshanat iti pushana. He is the one inhaling and hence we all are alive. Bhargo means not wanting to know the power of the seven suns, but of the One who is conducting the seven suns, the Almighty Father. He is the real Sun. He is maintaining us. He is the Soul Sun. So the mantra says, tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi. The Almighty Father is conducting the seven suns remaining in the body in seven centers. Dhimahi means I want to meditate on Him. There are seven suns in seven centers, seven fires ascending, seven fires descending. That is fourteen lights. So you have to watch your fourteen lights and see that everywhere you have thorough control and feel the living power of God everywhere. Watch your money center and watch the living power of God is earning money, not you. So watch two persons at a time. Watch your family center and perceive that he is giving joy. Watch Him while in bliss. Watch your food center, see whether you are eating. This is Gayatri. Just mere chanting is useless.

Dhiyo yonah pracodayat. Yo means 'to us.' Dhiyo means knowledge, consciousness, superconsciousness, cosmic consciousness, even bad qualities within us. How can we avoid bad qualities? You are to realize what is good for you. You are your friend. You are to know what food you will eat, what drink you will take, how much you will take, how much you will talk, everywhere there is moderation and propagation. So avoid bad food, bad drink, and bad qualities. Also eat limited food, yuktahara, which you can digest. Yukta vihara: Your enjoyment should be very limited. Yukta cheshtasya karmasu: Your attempt will be very limited.

In the Bhagavad Gita (3:10), it is said, saha yajna praja srishtya: In the beginning of creation, the Creator, having created everything including sacrifice, said, "By this you shall propagate. Let your desires be fulfilled simply by milking the divine wish-fulfilling cow within." After having created everything in ancient times, the Almighty Father entered into His creation. Consequently, human beings have two bodies: the gross body and the soul. The gross body cannot do anything; the invisible body (the soul) is constantly activating and propagating the gross body with every breath. This breath maintains the divine fire in the gross body, where oxygen is offered to the soul as an oblation. Thus, human beings are alive. Ultimately, any output propagated through the five sense organs, is propagated by the power of God — not just in human beings, but in the whole world.

We are the living seed of God, and this seed has the power to pervade everything. Anything born from such a powerful seed is an expression of the indwelling soul. Everything created through the nine doors of our five sense organs is holy; it is God expressing, propagating, and evolving through us, twenty-four hours a day, without rest.

Propagation is going on through inhalation and exhalation, and through Mother Nature and Father Nature. Puro vacha prajapati. Prajapati means 'propagation.' Saha yajna praja srishtya: I am talking and talking, but it is not my talk. It is the talk of God. You have to remain alert everywhere in the whole system, and in this way you will evolve.

This is Gayatri. A-U-M represents three bodies — causal body, astral body, and gross body. It could also be the three centers — creative center, preservative center, and destructive center — Brahma granthi, Vishnu granthi, and rudra granthi. Watch Him in the seven centers and see where your defects are, and then please correct yourself. I cannot correct you. I can only give you the technique. I cannot say please meditate. A student doctor follows the teacher, does his training and gets the certificate. He is a doctor through and through. Similarly, you are God in human being, human being in God. In the Bible the same thing is said: Do not think that your mouth is made for bread only, but the word that proceeds from your mouth is the talk of God.

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An Excerpt From the Book 'Nectar Drops'

Paramahamsa Hariharananda
Compiled by Paramahamsa Prajnanananda
If you feel the power of God within you, then you are earning immortality.
Your heredity is divine, because you are the living Soul.
To climb up is difficult, but to come down is very easy.

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My Master

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

One summer evening, more than a decade ago, I was accompanying Gurudev after the evening meditation to his room in the darkness because there was no electricity in Karar Ashram, in Puri. He held onto my shoulder as we walked. On the way he said, "Baba, until now no one has understood who Hariharananda is! If one will try to understand he will go mad. You know Hariharananda more than anyone else, and even that is only five percent. Still it is enough."

For spiritual growth and the manifestation of our divine qualities we need a teacher, a guide, a guru, a preceptor who through his exemplary behavior, strong spiritual foundation, and deep scriptural knowledge and realization can mold and shape the life of the student and open the way to the path of Self-realization.

Once the chosen guru is found, a sincere disciple will blossom under his care. A guru, in the holy scriptures is described as the philosopher's stone that is able to turn ordinary metals into gold. But a guru's power goes beyond that; he can transform the ordinary metal into another philosopher's stone. A true teacher knows through divine insight the mind and the thought pattern of his disciples. With these tools he guides them to achieve their true potential.

The guru-disciple relationship is not easy. Many sacrifices are needed in order to grow on the spiritual path. Meeting my master was the turning point in my life. For more than twenty years of close association, I have struggled to serve my master who represents for me the essence of spirituality.

In return, my guru has given me the biggest blessing of all; he has helped me to accelerate my spiritual evolution. Our bond is complete: He is my father, I am his child, we walk together as father and son. I have grown through his love and wisdom.

His life was like a stream of the sacred Ganga, flowing down from the great Himalayan heights in spiritual ecstasy, cleansing and purifying the lives of sincere seekers.

Baba Hariharanandaji is the embodiment of spiritual truth, love, and compassion. Not even the holiest scripture can substitute the encompassing influence of an enlightened master. Blessed are those who live with realized masters and more blessed are those who could understand and live as the master taught.

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The Art of Silence - Part V

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

The face is the index of a person. The words are the index of one's education. When one eats garlic and speaks, the smell of garlic comes out. Similarly, when one speaks his inner feelings, everything comes out. A person can easily be judged by his own words.

You may remember a story that I told earlier about how one person became wise without talking. It was approximately 1800 years ago in India. There was a princess who was very wise, intelligent, well educated, and in a youthful stage ready to marry. She placed a condition for her marriage: "that anyone who is more intelligent than me will be my husband." Many people came, but were defeated in the discussion with the young woman. She remained unmarried and the parents were sad. Those who were defeated felt humiliated and insulted. They wanted to cheat this intelligent young woman. They wanted to find a foolish man to send to the young woman, saying that he was the most wise man. They started to search for a foolish man and finally they found one. They saw a young man sitting on a branch on a tree, and with his axe he was cutting the root of the branch. These people saw it and thought, "O God! He is really a fool! He is sitting at the end of the branch and cutting the base." They asked him to come down.

They said, "Look, you do one thing."

"What?"

"We have a plan by which you can marry a beautiful princess, but it would require you not to open your mouth. Secondly, we'll tell them that you are our guru, the wisest man."

Since he was a fool he believed them. They took this man to the princess and he then went with her for the discussion. There was a very transparent curtain between the young lady and this young man. The man had been told not to talk, but that he could nod his head and make signs with his hands. He had agreed.  

The young lady showed one finger (straight index finger), thinking "God is one." The young man thought that she was showing her one finger to imply "I'll put my finger in your eye." He thought, ''Foolish girl! If you put one finger in my eye, I'll put two fingers in your two eyes." He showed two fingers. The young lady thought that the man was wise. I told "God is one" but he is implying that although God is one, God and creation become two. God without creation has no meaning. Also, he is indicating, by showing two fingers, that purusha and prakriti (unmanifested God and nature) are two. Then this young lady showed three fingers, thinking that nature is of three qualities, creation is of three periods of time, and a person has three bodies. The young man thought, "Oh! She is dangerous. I told her that I'll put my two fingers in her two eyes, and she is telling three, implying, two eyes and one ear." The young man showed four fingers, thinking that I'll also put two fingers in your two ears. The young lady thought that he was implying that whatever I am saying is nothing new, it is spoken in the four Vedas.

Now the young lady showed five fingers indicating, that although the Truth is in the scriptures and you can hear it from the mouth of a teacher, but the five sense organs are obstacles. The young man thought that she was so troublesome that she was implying that she would slap him. Then he thought, "If you'll give me a slap, I'll not leave you. I'll give you a blow with my fist." And he showed his fist. The young lady thought that although five sense organs are obstacles, the wise man controls it. Thus she decided, "He is the most wise man, I want to marry him." The marriage was consummated. This foolish man could not continue the silence. The first night, when they are together in the room, an animal was howling and the princess, his wife, asked "What is it?" Now he opened his mouth. Trouble started.

Most of our troubles in life begin when we open our mouths. So long as we don't open our mouths, we are safe. There are many saints in India who believe that there is no need to speak, and so they do not speak. If you want to speak, you have to know many things. If you don't speak, there is no need to know anything. Sit down silently. Be happy. To observe silence is not only an art in spirituality, it is an art for successful living. Silence is of two types. One is external silence, which means not to talk.

The following example illustrates the second type of silence. One young man came to his teacher and wanted to follow a spiritual discipline. The teacher said, "I'll teach you when you stop talking."

He said, "'I am not talking."
The teacher said, "Sit down here. Close your eyes and see what is happening."
The young man saw that so many thoughts were coming.
Then the teacher told the young man, "Look at me. Are you not talking?"
He said, "Yes."
The teacher said, "I'll teach you when you stop talking." The student then closed his eyes and tried to go beyond thoughts.

This is the second type of silence — to stop having any thoughts in the mind.

To reach this higher aspect of silence, to have control over thinking, let us practice this first aspect, not to speak. As said earlier, we can have some fixed time not to speak in our daily lives. It might be a little difficult in the beginning, but it is not impossible. Observe silence, a few hours daily, or at least once in a week. Whenever you are staying at the ashram you can observe silence.

There are two types of spiritual practices. One is group practice and the other is individual practice. In group practice, we sit together, listen to discourses, meditate, eat food, and so on. These are group activities, but you can also make it individual practice within the group. If you are staying at the ashram and you really want to observe silence, then observe silence; nobody is going to disturb you. It is an opportunity. Bring self-discipline through your understanding, and then life will be more beautiful.

Let us contemplate. Life is a gift of God. We should utilize this gift to the fullest extent. To increase the productivity in life, observe silence. Those who talk more, work less. Bring self-discipline. It begins with silence in life:

I'll not talk unnecessarily.
I'll talk consciously and carefully.
I'll talk whenever necessary.
Every day, I'll observe silence for a while.
When I observe silence, I'll see the restless of the mind, how the mind is moving.
Once in a week, I'll observe silence longer.
When I am in spiritual company or in the ashram, I'll try to observe the silence longer. By talking a lot, I lose a lot of energy.
I'll try to conserve the energy and try to enhance peace in my life.

A silent mind is the most powerful mind.

Let the blessings of the God and masters be upon us all.

OM! Amen!

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An Excerpt from the Book 'River of Compassion'

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

Blessings of Shri Babaji Maharaj

Meditation is the key to success, God is infinite and the spiritual journey is endless. Even the realized masters spend hours in seclusion, sadhana and meditation. Meditation generates a magnetic field that attracts the blessings of Great Masters, which can be transmitted to sincere seekers. Every Kriyavan cherishes a strong desire to have the vision of the Great Guru, Shri Babaji Maharaj, the deathless yogi of incomprehensible glory.

It was the year 1949. Brahmachari Rabinarayan was deeply engrossed in meditation in his closed room at Karar Ashram. The room was suddenly lit with an unusual glow of light. Brahmachari Rabinarayan opened his eyes to behold Babaji Maharaj who stood silently by him. He had broad shoulders, large eyes and his hair and forehead were covered with a cloth.

Brahmachari Rabinarayan was greatly astonished. He wondered if it was a dream or a vision. He could not believe his eyes. How could this man enter into a locked room? He did not recognize Babaji. Nobody can recognize him unless he revealed himself to him or her.

Brahmachari Rabinarayan looked at this mysterious person wondering who it might be. Babaji Maharaj advanced a few steps and closed the eyes of Brahmachariji with a soft touch of his gracious fingers. His touch brought a flood of light. When he opened his eyes again there was no one in the room. But his heart replied to his anxious query in that wonder struck state, "That must be Shri Babaji Maharaj."

The moment he grasped the truth, tears rolled down his face and he thought, "How ignorant I am! O Beloved Guru! You came physically. You were here, stood by me and smiled at me, touched and blessed me with grace, but I did not recognize you. I did not touch your feet or offer you a seat, I did not serve you or talk with you, what a fool 1 am?" He entered into his small meditation and puja room where the idol of Mother Kali was installed and closing the doors, prayed to the Divine Mother and beloved Guru Maharaj with deep love.

Again Shri Babaji Maharaj appeared in this small closed room and touched the head of Rabinarayan and blessed him. "Why so impatient?" He said, "I am satisfied with your sadhana."

That wonderful touch of Babaji Maharaj again sent him into the superconscious realm of peace and tranquility and brilliant effulgence. Brahmachari Rabinarayan touched his head at the holy feet of the Great Guru. Then the omniscient Guru Shri Babaji looked at the plate with small pieces of fruits arranged nicely for offering to the deity. He asked Rabinarayan, "If I tasted these fruits meant for the Divine Mother, will you offer them to Her again?" It is not customary to offer left over food to the Deity. Without any hesitation Rabinarayan replied, "Why not? To me there is no difference between Shri Guru and God. My venerable Guruji! I would be honored by your kind acceptance of my humble homage."

Babaji Maharaj pleased with the befitting reply smiled and ate a piece of banana and blessed him. He said, "I am glad of your achievements. But remember there is no end to meditation. The deeper you dive, the richer you emerge, for new realms unfold in succession. So while sticking to meditation tenaciously, you propound and reveal Kriya to others. I bless you and empower you to propagate Kriya. Your touch will give divine revelation to the seeking souls. Now I will take leave of you. Don't follow me now. Continue meditating deeply."

He then meditated for some time. Then he opened the door of the temple-meditation room. It was already noon. The students of the Ashram school were playing outside. Brahmachariji anxiously asked them if they saw a young man with a short white waist cloth come out. They replied in the negative. This special appearance and blessings of this immortal Yogi, Shri Babaji Maharaj gave him new encouragement and inspiration to continue meditation much more intensely.

In 1960 after his initiation into monastic order, he desired to see Shri Babaji again and traveled to Ranikhet, in the Himalayas where Shri Shyamacharan Lahiri was initiated into this sacred Kriya Yoga technique by Babaji himself. He reached the vicinity by a taxi. He came to know from the local people about a naked monk who lived a little high up in the hills. This Sadhu with a huge body sat naked by a fireplace (dhuni) with his eyes open with a vacant gaze, apparently merged in infinity. With a little trouble he reached the place and saw the monk from a distance. He was hesitant to disturb this yogi, absorbed in meditation.

But the yogi called him near saying, "Come here my child, take a seat. Eat something. Comfort yourself. You came with a great desire to see Babaji. You can ask your questions later." Then the naked yogi served him hot chappatis and ghee from two earthen pots in the room. Hariharananda (previously known as Rabinarayan) felt quite rejuvenated with rest, food and the love of this yogi.

Then the yogi gave the directions and the route to reach the cave of Babaji. The Yogi further added, "Even with all your efforts you may not see him unless he approves." Taking leave from him, Hariharananda proceeded without delay to his Guru's cave.

The place was full of natural beauty with fruits and flowers. Enjoying the grand beauty of the Himalayas, he climbed up the narrow path with care and caution. After some time he could not walk any more. He sat down to rest and meditate. Eternity started whispering. He heard the melodious tone of the divine guru, Babaji Maharaj, "My child! Why are you taking so much trouble to come here? I appeared twice before you in your Guru's hermitage. When I wish, I will appear before you on my own. I am fully satisfied with you. You will inundate the western countries with the streams of Kriya Yoga. You will not get my vision here now. Go back and feel my omnipresence."

mantramulam gurorvakyam — the words of the guru, the preceptor, are the root of mantra, the key to success. Keeping the blessed instruction in his heart, he came back with salutations to Babaji.

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An Excerpt from the Book 'Path of Love'

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

EXPERIENCING DIVINITY THROUGH LOVE

In the Vedic vision, everything known or unknown; manifest or un-manifest is Brahman and we are all part of the Absolute. To experience this truth, the Upanishads give two paths to reach God, pravritti and nivritti.

Nivritti is to know yourself through self enquiry.

Neti neti means, "Not this, not that!" Through this analytical method, everything that is not related to God, is separated, and what remains is God. The spiritual aspirant on this path uses his intellect to reason and separates the seer from the seen. He differentiates the body, the mind, the intellect and the ego, as separate from the Soul, or the Supreme Self. This is the path of negation. A way to experience the Ultimate Reality.

Pravritti is sarvam khalvidam brahma, whatever is perceived or cognized is in reality God.

In Vedantic texts it is stated that there are different ways of reaching the same goal. A monkey jumps from one tree to another. The baby monkey holds on to the mother, with a firm grip, so it does not fall. Here, the responsibility of holding on is entirely on the baby. Those who consider everything, except God, as impermanent and hold on to God, are seekers on the Path of Knowledge and they follow this principle.

On the other hand, those who follow the Path of Love, depend entirely on God to take care of them. They are like the kitten that is carried by the mother cat from place to place. Here, the entire responsibility is on the mother. God takes the responsibility of this kind of devotees, who become totally dependent on him, with an attitude of complete surrender.

If we take an additional example to illustrate this point, we can imagine a mother with two sons. One is six years old and goes to school, whereas the younger one is just a baby, physically very dependent on the mother. If we were to ask this mother two critical questions:

Whom does the mother love more?
If she had to leave one of her children, whom would she give up?

They would be very hard to answer. The mother loves both her children equally. Being physically close to the younger one, does not mean she loves the older boy less. If she had to face a separation from one of her children, she would probably say she would keep the younger one, since his survival depended on her.

The two children represent two attitudes. One grows in knowledge and one grows in love. Jesus said, 'Be like a child, your place is in Heaven.' God is our Mother and we are the children. God, in the Mother's form, wants to be close to one who loves Him like a little child. The child loves the mother simply and spontaneously. This is natural love.

LOVE OF THE ETERNAL SELF

Image and object are essentially one. Without the object, there is no image. Without God there is no creation. The self is eternal, being the image of God. A sincere seeker always tries to live in the presence of God. This is the way to experience one's real nature. To live in the presence of God is love. Narada describes it as,

amrta swarupa ca

"The essential nature of love is immortality."

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the greatest of the Upanishads both by its size as well as by its substance, Sage Yajnavalkya has two wives; Katyayani and Maitreyi. Since he intends to leave home and embrace a monastic life, the sage expresses his desire to divide his property between his two wives before he goes away. Katyayani readily agrees, but Maitreyi is baffled and asks him, "What is it that you are going to pursue that means more than your home and property? Surely it must be something greater!" When the sage explains that he would go in search of his immortal self, he makes a deep impression on Maitreyi. After a while, she pronounces, "When you renounce all worldly pleasures to go in search of the Supreme Bliss, which is above any mundane pleasures, in order to experience the source of love that lies within and not outside, then I should follow you to experience this greater love." A beautiful dialogue follows in which Yajnavalkya gives a description of the self, and describes how all love is based on the self, which is in essence God.

Yajnavalkya says:

na va are patyuh kamaya patih priyo bhavati
atmanastu kamaya patih priyo bhavati.
na va are jayayai  kamaya jaya priya bhavati
atmanastu kamaya jaya priya bhavati
atmanastu kamaya sarvam priyam bhavati
dtma va are drastavyahs srotavyo mantavyo nididhyasitavyo
maitryi atmano va are darsanena sravanena
matya vijnanenedam sarvam viditam

"Truly, not for the sake of the husband is the husband dear, but a husband is dear for the sake of the self. Truly, not for the sake of the wife is the wife dear, but a wife is dear for the sake of the self. Truly, Oh Maitreyi, it is the self that should be seen, heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. Truly, by seeing, hearing, thinking and by understanding the self, all this is known."

Love is the spice of life. Love needs no education or training. An expression of pleasure on a baby's face thrills the heart of all around him. The look, the smile and even the way the beloved moves, speaks the language of love. Love is universal. It is experienced by all. Everyone has experienced a certain degree of love at some point or another and expressed their feelings accordingly. Can love be put into words? Love, in reality, is to feel the presence of the self or God in everything. A mother loves her child. The mother waits for her child to return from school, having thought many times about the child, during the day; what to feed him and how to keep him happy. This is ordinary love. But if the mother loves her child because she perceives the presence of God within him, as well as a projection of her own self, then that love is complete. 

LOVE IS THE EXPERIENCE OF ONENESS

Outward diversity becomes inward unity. There is unity in all diversity. The experience of unity is love. Love is expressed as identification with what lies around us. I love a rose and I want to hold it closer because I see my own reflection in that rose. I love a person more when I see my own reflection in that person. That is the reason why we like people with similar thoughts, ideas and lifestyle. This is a natural tendency.

All the Holy Books belonging to the world's major religions; the Bible, the Koran, the Buddhist and the Hindu scriptures have spoken at great length on love.

In the Bible it says, "Love God your Lord, with all your heart and all your mind, with all your Soul and all your strength."

Jesus taught us, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Love begins from within. We start by loving ourselves, then our family, our community and our country. Love begins with duality and becomes complete when we experience unity. Love begins with a thought. When we love someone we think of him/her again and again.

If love is to grow, think of God again and again. Good company is the first step. Love is possible only when there is duality. When the child is at school and the mother is at home, she is continuously thinking of her child. But when the child comes back home and she hugs the child, feeling oneness, does she think of her child in the same way? No. Because now there is a feeling of completeness.

Thinking of God continuously, in every breath, is the first step but love will be complete only when you perceive that Divinity within and feel that you are the body of God, that your breath is the breath of God and if you are truly sincere your look becomes the look of God. Yet even this is not enough, you must arrive at the stage where you constantly perceive and manifest that love. True love is achieved only when we overcome all distinctions. If God is infinite and formless, where is God? He is everywhere and we must perceive our unity with God wherever we turn our attention. I will see the presence of God in a flower or an insect. God is all pervading and all encompassing. We cannot separate a wave from the ocean or separate gold from the actual ornament. That which is found in me, within me, and all around me, is eternal and immortal. Unity and eternity must be experienced as one.

Paramahamsa Yogananda used to sing these evocative lines,

"So do Thou, my Lord,
Thou and I never apart,
Wave of the sea dissolves in the sea,
I am the bubble, make me the sea,
Make me the sea. Oh make me the sea,
I am the bubble, make me the sea."

The Upanishads say:

sarvam brahmamayam jagat

"The universe is a manifestation of the formless Absolute. Everything is considered to be the presence of God. Body mind and intellect are all considered gifts from God and are valued in this context."

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Elements of Spiritual Development - Part VI

By Swami Shuddhananda Giri
Date: May 30, 2003

To experience real happiness, you must be free from the body, the mind, and the world and be conscious. This is meditation. In sleep, do I exist? Physically the body is there during sleep, but there is no awareness of the body, mind, world, intelligence, spirituality, practice — nothing. I am there because I exist — I am the soul, I am the son of God.

When I sleep, I go back to God. When I am awakened, I should have God consciousness. This is life. Every day we experience this state in deep sleep. One-third of our lives (the time we sleep), we experience this state. To get real happiness, we must make ourselves free from the body, mind, thoughts, intelligence, ego, the world. So, one-third of our lives, we are already realized and the two-thirds of life, we have to realize. What to realize? Realize that — Eternally God is existing in me and eternally I exist in God. That is the only truth, all other things are illusion. To get that truth, in waking state, this awareness should be continuous. Anything you do, it is because of the power of God, because of the will of God. Our will is nothing but a tiny fraction of the will of God. So nothing happens without the will of God. Your mind may not accept this, but nothing has happened, nothing happens, nothing will happen, without the will of God.

I will give you a beautiful example. There was a great, highly realized monk: a great devotee of God. At the end of his life he had a lot of diseases in his body and suffered from a lot of pain, but he was always happy.

The disciples told the monk, "Gurudev, you are suffering a lot. When we see your suffering, we are also feeling the pain. Why are you not praying to God, to be free from the diseases and the pain? When we, the disciples, are in pain or suffer from diseases you pray for us, and as a result, we are free from the diseases and the pain. Then why are you not praying for yourself?" The monk replied, "How can I pray to God to remove this illness? Everything is done by the will of God. If I am praying to God to remove my illness, my pain, am I not going against the will of God? I believe in Him. I have complete trust in God. If I have complete trust in Him, how can I pray for this to God?"

Those who have complete trust in God, can they pray for anything or for something like this? Those who do not believe in God, they pray to God. Those who completely believe in God, they cannot pray. They can only pray, "O Lord! Bless me so that I may never forget Thee. O Lord, bless me to love Thee. O Lord, bless to remember Thee all the time. O Lord, bless me to perceive Thee always." They cannot pray for anything else. So those who completely believe in God cannot pray and those who pray to God do not believe in God. This seems to be very strange. It seems contradictory to say that those who pray to God do not believe in God. It may seem that I am saying that only those who have faith can pray. People who have total faith in God cannot pray for anything except love. They would pray like, "O Lord, keep me always at Thy feet. O Lord, bless me that I will always think of Thee, that I'll love Thee, that I'll feel Your presence, that I'll feel Your presence within me, that I'll feel Your presence in others also." This is the prayer, which is not asking for other things. So what we need is spiritual practice, discipline, meditation, and continuous awareness. We need to have total faith in God. We can have total faith in God when we are at the feet of God, when we completely devote our lives to God. It is His duty now.

After teaching the eighteen chapters in Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna,

"You leave everything, and surrender unto Me. I will liberate thee."

Lord Krishna does not say this in the beginning. He could have said this in the beginning when Arjuna was in delusion. But he says this only after eighteen chapters of teachings on how we should live and how much we should practice. If a guru like Shri Krishna needs to teach eighteen chapters to a disciple like Arjuna, then who are we? So our life, which is a disciple's life, is a life of learning, a life of practice. The more you learn, the more you practice, the more you follow the master, the more you follow the guru, your life would be more devoted and would be surrendered. Once life is surrendered, there is no practice required. He will take care. It becomes the duty, the responsibility of God. The thoughts of a devotee should be: I have not created myself. I have not created this delusion. The delusion should be removed by the one who created the delusion. This world, this body, is created by God and so it is His responsibility to care for me. I have nothing to do. The sense of ego is thus finished. When the sense of ego, that I am a disciple, I am practicing to get the truth is finished, life is devoted, and then He takes care. As a disciple, we should be more sincere about practice, about discipline, about our sincerity, about our detachment (vairagya) — this is the life of a disciple. The question is, for how long? At some point of time, the life would be completely dedicated at the feet of God. You become a devotee of God and then you have no more practice, no more spirituality, no more discipline. When you become a devotee of God, totally surrendered at the feet of God, your life will be one with God. Then you will realize that "I am a child of God" and that "I am eternally one with Him."

We are to start our spiritual life now. Everything that has happened until now is in the past. Through practice, discipline, and continuous awareness of the presence of God everywhere we will eventually attain that oneness with God. It can happen in the next moment, after a few days, or after a few lives.

Spiritual life is just a life of awareness, life of truth, life of dedication. With a sense of dedication, your practice will be stronger, more sincere. The more sincere you are, the more your life will be dedicated to God. When life is dedicated to God, He will take care. So let us keep this awareness, keep this attitude continuously. There will be a moment in life, when you will realize that you are already realized.

Let us contemplate deeply. There is only eternity. What is future for you, which is not yet done for you, is already done for God. We all are divine. The power of God is hidden in each of us. It is the force behind our search. It is the force behind our practice, whatever practice we do. Be aware of the force behind your practice. That is Truth. You are not here to get something through your search. We are here to search the force behind our searching, which is the power of God, the soul. You are That — tattvamasi. We all are the divine children of God. To realize that I am a child of God, you have to be completely free from the sense of "I" and "mine" — I-ness and my-ness. The attitude of the devotee is, "I have nothing and I know nothing. I am nothing, it is only God." The devotee has total devotion, which is filled with love, unconditional love. The devotee of God deserves to realize that "I am a child of God." To attain that state of devotion, you should be very sincere as a disciple. It requires practice (abhyasa) and detachment (vairagya). Everything is delusion, untrue, a dream. The world is a dream. We are still sleeping and have to awaken. We have to get nothing from this world, only from God, the Soul. Sincerity, detachment, and discipline is essential. The life of a disciple is to completely follow the teachings of the master, to have the deepest desire for God, to have deepest faith in God. Deepest desire for God makes one disciple, deepest faith in God makes one a devotee of a God. That deepest faith in God reveals the divinity of "I am That." All is "That." — soham, tattvamasi, sarvam khalvidam, brahman. I am the child of God. I am created by God, I am the child of God. You are created by God; you are the child of God. The whole creation is created by God. Have discipline. Be a disciple. Have total faith and devotion, be a devotee. Realize that you are the immortal child of God.

na guroradhikam
na guroradhikam
guru kripa hi kevalam
bhagvad kripa hi kevalam

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The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 17, Verse 22-23)

By Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Verse 22

adesakale yad danam
apatrebhyasca diyate
asatkrtam avajnatam
tat tamasam udahrtam

Translation

The gift that is given at the wrong place and time and to the undeserving person, without paying respect or with contempt, is said to be tamasic (dull).

Metaphorical Interpretation

People need help when they are in distress. To help such people is good, but there are some people who do not work due to wrong habits and a dull nature. They try to maintain their livelihood and finance their bad habits without success. Such people are unworthy of receiving help, but ordinary people cannot judge who deserves help.

Some people are wealthy enough to help others, but they are so hesitant that when a needy person approaches them for help that they do not behave appropriately. Afterwards, they give only a small token donation.

Many pretend to be worthy of receiving help. But when one gives money or a gift to such a person, it is a misuse of charity.

When a person approaches you to request some help, you should carefully determine the needs and worthiness of the person and should help him according to your capacity, with love and respect. Other­wise, any help given to the wrong people at the wrong time, without love and respect, with a lot of hesitation and after a lot harassment, is no doubt a tamasic gift.

Verse 23

om tat sad iti nirdeso
brahmanas trividhah smrtah
brahmanas tena vedasca
yajnasca vihitah pura

Translation

Aum, Tat, Sat — this has been declared the threefold symbol of Brahman. By this, the brahmins, the Vedas, and the yajnas (sac­rifices) were created in ancient times.

Metaphorical Interpretation

Aum Tat Sat is the mantra, the holy prayer that people used in an­cient times. Aum Tat Sat means that "aum alone is truth." In ancient tunes, people used these three words and realized their inner meaning. They achieved God-realization and perceived the divine force.

In this mantra, the three words are not really words. These three words independently as well as collectively represent the supreme al­mighty father. For example, in the Brihadaryanaka Upanishad it says, sadeva soumya eva atma: "O dear student, sat is the eternal, indwelling Self, who is none but the Almighty Father."

These three words not only symbolize the formless God and the indwelling Self, but also the brahmins (highly advanced spiritual persons), the Vedas (the holy scripture), and the yajnas (the ceremonial way of offering oblation to the sacred fire in sacrifices). These three are sym­bolically represented in these cosmic words, but they are nothing but the manifestation of the formless supreme almighty father.

Those who perceive aum in everything can easily understand its practical yogic meaning and are spiritual people in truth. They are the knowers of Brahman (brahmins). "Brahmins" does not mean the top caste of the degenerated Indian caste system. In the scriptures it explains, brahma janati iti brahmana: "The knower of the Brahman alone is a brahmana (or brahmin)" A realized person, a real lover of the formless God, is a brahmana.

The Vedas were originally known as the triveda or trayi veda (three Vedas), not the chaturveda (four Vedas). The three Vedas are Rik, Yajur, and Sama. The fourth Veda included as part of the chaturveda is the Atharva. The Vedas come from the root word vid—to know, to realize, to possess.

Rik means the "word" or the "object." Suppose a person is hungry and wants food. The speech coming out of the mouth with the feeling of hunger is rik— "I am hungry."

Yajur comes from the root yaj, "to be united, to be associ­ated." Yajur in this case is the word said to someone who can give or arrange food to be given. Yajur is the utterance of an inner feeling or experience to another person who can understand it and provide help-giving food, in this case.

That person gives the food with love because he felt the hunger of the person within himself—this is sama (harmony, equality). By taking the food, the hungry man receives strength throughout his whole body. This is also Sama Veda.

Thus, the creation of hunger up to the stage of its satisfaction is materialized in three stages: Rik, Yajur, and Sama. In this way, one gets complete satisfaction and joy. Food is matter. The matter is also Veda. If one chants the word "food, food, food!" any number of times, the belly will not be filled. When the food is put in the mouth, chewed nicely with love and appreciation for the food, swallowed slowly and offered in the vaishvanara fire as a sacrificial oblation, then one's appetite will disappear. This is the process of Sama Veda.

The satisfaction of enjoying food and becoming free from the problem of hunger is called Atharva Veda.

These three Vedas are known as aum (om). God absolute (Brah­man) and the knower of Brahman (the brahmana and their spiritual experiences as narrated in the Vedas and yajnas) are known as aum tat sat.

What is a yajna? Ordinarily, people think that offering oblation in the ceremonial fire is a yajna—fire ceremony sacrifice. But the real yajna is the breath. Oxygen is in the atmosphere, which is breathed in and out by the imperishable soul abiding in the body temple. With each breath oxygen travels to touch the real fire, which is the soul, the real God. In the Jnana Shankalini Tantra, it says, brahmagnau huyate pranam: "The oxygen touches the indwelling Self," Thus, yajna is life, all the activities of life, the fire ceremony of life in man, animals, insects, plants, trees, and even in grain. It is the reason that everything is alive. This ceremony is the life of God. When one feels that every breath is an oblation to the fire in the fontanel for the love of God, this is the real fire ceremony. To know aum tat sat is real spirituality, the real oblation.

In the Isha Upanishad (Mantra 12), it says, isavasyam idam sarvam: "God is all-pervading." God abides and permeates everywhere. There is not a time, nor a place to ignore the existence of God. Whatever one sees in the universe is nothing but the power of God. God Himself is remaining everywhere. God is aum. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1:27), it says, tasya vacakah pranavah: "Aum repre­sents Him, the formless, supreme imperishable soul." Aum is the integration of three aspects of God. Out of the many meanings of this mystical, eternal sound aum, one from the yogic approach is:

A— the imperishable soul, formless and omnipotent
U— the conscious, super-conscious and cosmic-conscious state
M— the gross physical body and the gross quality of anything.

These three aspects remain everywhere, including in the three bodie­s—causal (A), astral (U), and gross (M)—in a subtle way.

In every human body, the imperishable soul, the marvelous power of God, abides in the three bodies and is the life of each one. A puja viddhi mantra (sacred chant practiced in the nitya karmani or Hindu rituals) intones, omkarasya brahma rsi gayatri chhanda angirdevata sarvakarma rambhe viniyogah: "In the be­ginning of every work, I perceive the divine fire, the gayatri vedic hymns, Brahma, and omkara, the formless God."

Any word said by any person is aum. First, the indwelling Self speaks from the top of the head in the form of thought. It is an inaudible word that comes from the almighty father to the in­dwelling Self. It is "A." The indwelling Self creates speech for the tongue, but the thought has not come out. It is inside the gross body—and that is "U." When the mouth opens, the word is ex­pressed; this is "M". The mouth is covered by two sets of sharp teeth and a set of lips. If God, through the gross body, does not allow the mouth to open, the word cannot come out. Every word is the word of God. Every word is aum.

In the Bible (Luke 6:45), it states, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

In India, many Brahmins, out of ignorance, said that females cannot chant the aum sound. This is sinful. They do not know that God speaks through the mouth, that God gives His inaudible talk to all human beings with every thought. Everyone must feel that every word coming out of the mouth is aum.

Aum Tat Sat is revealed before one chants aum. The supreme almighty father, hiding in the body in the formless state, allows each person to speak through the mouth. If He does not allow speech, man will be deaf and dumb.

In Kriya Yoga, there is a technique by which people learn how to gain control over the tongue and at the same time feel God's talk in every word and thought. God is A, breath is U, and the gross body is M. Anybody saying anything can feel that God is talking This is also aum. This is the stage of knowing Brahma and the Veda, It is to become a brahmana.

These three words— Aum Tat Sat represent the supreme almighty father who exists in each body and in the whole universe. If people really understood this verse and practice Kriya, then they can feel that without His love, the gross body is dead. Although God is in the dead, as well as the stones, the sand, the hills, and everywhere, He is more manifest in the living. This is Aum Tat Sat.

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Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Interpretation by Paramahmsa Prajnanananda in consultation with Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Sutra - 38

Svapnanidra jnana alambanam va

Word meaning:

svapna: dream
nidra: deep sleep
jnana: knowledge
alambanam: support, restoring to, that on
which things depends or rests va: or, also

Translation:

Also (the mind) depending upon the knowledge — dream and deep sleep as its object (of study).

Commentary of Shri Lahari Mahasaya:

One can also attain that state of establishment (sthitipada or realization) within the support of the states like dream or deep sleep.

Metaphorical Interpretation:

Every individual passes through three states of existence: wakeful, dream, and dreamless deep sleep.

wakeful state  

sense organ of mind active

3 bodies function  together

experiencing  pleasure and pain

rajasic  

dream 

mind and memory active  

astral body function 

experiencing  pleasure and pain

rajasic  dominated tamasic

deep sleep

mind dissolves in thought of  ignorance

causal body function

experiencing
happiness

tamasic 

A yogi consciously observes these three states of life carefully. In the state of dream, individual plays the dual role of experiences of the dream as well as dream objects. So long as the dream continues, one feels the dream as real; experiencing the duality of pleasure and pain. But when one is awakened, he feels the dream was the play in the astral body.

A yogi also tries to feel in the wakeful state that it is nothing but like a dream. Many happenings are like the motion pictures. Thus he/she develops the attitude of being witness of all the happening in the play ground of mind and feels detached.

Now let us understand the message of sleep. In sleep, there is no duality of experiences. A veil of darkness covers up everything bringing complete forgetfulness. It gives a taste of happiness but it does not last.

Just like in deep sleep, all thoughts disappear and the soul rests in the lap of the causal body, it gives the knowledge to the yogi, how to live in daily life. As in deep sleep, the body is relaxed, mind is at rest and breath is slow, long and deep, so also a yogi tries to practice it in daily life.

O Seeker!
Relax in every step of your life. Life is to live with joy, love and serviceful attitude.
Mind must be focused and goal-oriented.
Practice slow, long and deep breath.
Be free from all fear, as the person in deep sleep is free from fear.

Observing the function of mind in dream and deep sleep, a yogi tries to live the life of yoga in wakeful state. In deep med