Soul Culture - Summer 2006

Table of Contents

Paramahamsa Hariharananda:

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda:

Swami Shuddhananda:

Scriptures:

Kriya Yoga News

Greetings to one and all from the Mother Center! Baba Hariharanandaji's centenary celebrations have started all over the world with immense joy, festivities, and fanfare. Kriyavans across the globe are taking part in the centenary programs with tremendous enthusiasm. This is a great opportunity for all to pay their respects to Gurudev and show their love for Gurudev.

As you all know, Gurudev's centenary celebrations is a year long program and will be celebrated in more than 100 cities across the world. The inauguration function took place in Balighai, India.

Birth Centenary Inaugural Ceremony, Balighai May 25-29, 2006

Preparations for the Inaugural Ceremony of the year long birth centenary celebrations of Gurudev Baba Hariharanandaji Maharaj began in early May, under the auspices of Prajnana Mission, with Paramahamsa Prajnanananda in residence at Hariharananda Gurukulam, Balighai, Orissa.

To commemorate the sacred occasion a lamp lit at Gurudev's birth place in Habibpur, Nadia, West Bengal was brought to the Jagatpur ashram at Cuttack, and from there to the Gurukulam in a procession through Bhubaneswar with stops at Karar Ashram and Shri Mandir.

The magnificent octagonal shrine constructed at Gurudev's samadhi place, now known as Shri Guru Mandir, was dedicated to the public on the 24th of May by Paramahamsa Prajnanananda. An imposing monument forty feet high, of rare architecture, intricate jali work, stained glass windows, arched doorways, huge glass doors and marble floors, the Shri Guru Mandir is a piece of art, a priceless jewel of love and dedication which will herald through the ages to come.

The sanctum sanctorum of this epitome of peace, bliss, and joy, houses the samadhi, the final resting place of Gurudev's mortal remains. The life-like five and a half feet marble cenotaph of Gurudev blessing the devotees faces east and on either side, the walls of the inner shrine have the sculptures of the lineage of masters, beginning with Mahavatar Babaji. The shrine can accommodate at least forty people at a time. The outer octagon encloses a space that easily accommodates up to 500 people and has 24 open arches and is surrounded by ponds with blooming lotuses and vast green lawns. A five-foot lotus bud of reinforced concrete crowns this architectural marvel.

There was an all day special worship and fire ceremonies conducted by Vedic scholars following strict Vedic injunctions. The cenotaph of Gurudev was unveiled around noon amidst Vedic chanting and devotional songs by disciples and devotees assembled from all corners of the globe to witness the event and pay their respect. Arati and prasad followed.

The formal inauguration ceremony was held on a beautifully decorated dais against the back drop of the magnificent Guru Mandir with Baba Prajnananadaji Maharaj presiding. The function began with a congregation of several holy parsonages of different orders offering their homage to Gurudev and the lighting of a sacred lamp to mark the beginning of the year-long celebration.

Monks from various orders attended the inauguration function and paid their tributes to Gurudev. The function lasted from the 25th-29th of May. Thousands of disciples also attended the function and offered their love to Gurudev and listened to inspiring and enlightening messages from the eminent speakers. Several books and CDs were released. Devotional music and dances concluded the program which was a memorable spiritual feast.

Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji's Centenary Message

Loving and Divine Soul,

Let the choicest blessings of God and Gurus be upon you all.
Life is growth in every aspect. For true inner growth God has given us spiritual guides. Shri Adi Shankaracharya rightly mentioned that only through the grace of the Divine can we have the company of great souls or divine masters. We are blessed and fortunate to have revered Gurudev in our lives. Directly or indirectly we have benefited tremendously. His love, compassion, and service are the guiding spiritual force for us. His divine life is no doubt a special gift of God to all of us.

Revered Gurudev's birth centenary falls on the 27 of May, 2007. To commemorate this special event, we plan to celebrate his life and teachings worldwide from May, 2006 through May, 2007.

Gurudev used to bless all of us:

shatam jivet chiram jivet sukham jivet

"Live for 100 years. Live eternally. Live peacefully."

A span of 100 years is a symbol of completeness. It is not just a physical number; it symbolically tells us to live a life of love and devotion. In the number 100, if 1 is missing, then 00 have no value. Similarly, if God or love is missing, life has no value.

To celebrate Gurudev's birth centenary many elaborate events are being planned. Many of you are already involved with the events or aware of them. Along with the various celebrations that will be held around the world, we should intensify our meditation and prayer. We should be a good instrument in Gurudev's work, serving with love, and transforming our lives with sincere effort.

Let us meditate nicely, remembering Gurudev.

I am praying for you all.

With love,
Prajnanananda

Swami Brahmanandaji Leaves Us

Loving and Divine Souls,

A bright star in the horizon of Kriya's heritage has disappeared. A beloved disciple of Gurudev, a sincere and silent seeker of Truth, a humble and loving teacher known for his simplicity and compassion, Swami Brahmananda Giri, whom we all loved as our older brother, breathed his last on April 2, 2006 at 4:43 am IST (Vedic tradition on April 1). Although he has physically left us, he will be ever in our hearts and minds.

Gurudev called him back much earlier than we expected. Surely his soul is resting in the heavenly abode in the loving company of our beloved Gurudev. His love and kindness, his sincere practice of meditation, his devotion to God and Gurus will help every spiritual seeker in times to come. No doubt it is a great loss for us, and many kriyavans all over the world will miss him. His teachings will guide everyone. His devoted life to Gurudev over three decades and his sincere service to kriyavans in particular, and to humanity at large, will inspire all of us. We all love him and will continue our love for him as a child of Gurudev.

This is also a very auspicious time in India. The bhu-samadhi will be performed on the afternoon of the 3rd of April at Hariharananda Gurukulam, Balighai.

You all please pray and meditate. Intensify your Kriya practice in his loving memory. Let his life of simplicity inspire us in our daily lives.

I am praying for you all.

Please be strong through prayer and meditation during this difficult time.

With love,
Prajnanananda

World Memorial Dedicated to Gurudev at the Mother Center

A very unique memorial rose garden with custom-inscribed bricks has been designated to honor Baba's 100th birth year at the Mother Center in Florida, USA, with the Dedication Ceremony scheduled for December 3, 2006.

The Paramahamsa Hariharananda World Memorial will reflect Baba's humble work in the world and is designed to expand in concentric circles with biographical engraved bricks, symbolic of the ripple effect of Baba's extraordinary life and teachings around the globe. It will be constructed at the entranceway to the meditation hall as a living garden memorial with many of Baba's favorite roses. All noble projects, centers, ashrams, clinics, charities, saints, and sages associated with Baba, as well as many of his favorite quotes and sayings will be commemorated. As new endeavors are dedicated in his holy name, future bricks will be added. This sweet tribute at his holy 'abode of cultivation', as Baba liked to call the Mother Center, is planned for everyone's participation as we remember his Divine Example with deepest love and immense gratitude.

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Message from the Master

The Benefits of Kriya Yoga

Human life is very short. It is constantly associated with a multitude of difficulties and obstacles. So, it is the duty of all wise and intelligent persons to accept and assimilate the essence of all spiritual practice, like a swan separating the cheese from the milk, and leaving only water. Kriya Yoga is the essence of all spiritual practices and it is the common highway of all religions.

Within a very short time, by the practice of the scientific technique of Kriya Yoga, one can get the simultaneous development of body, mind, intellect, and soul. By magnetizing the spine by a very simple way of Kriya practice, one can perceive the all-accomplishing divine energy in the body, which in turn hastens physical, mental, intellectual transformation and ultimately gives constant God consciousness.

Like any other science, the meditation of Kriya Yoga has two aspects: theory and practice. The theoretical knowledge of Kriya Yoga can be inculcated by reading holy books, their metaphorical interpretation by the realized master, or listening to his spiritual discourses. But an ounce of practice is far better than tons of theories.

Kriya Yoga is a practical science. It does not give attractive promises to be materialized in heaven or in the after life. It gives immediate result, direct perception of truth.

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An Excerpt from the Book 'Kriya Yoga'

By Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Kriya Yoga

The difference between Kriya Yoga and other traditional yogic practices is similar to the difference between the prescription of a modern, qualified doctor and village quack. The meticulous austerities and painful processes associated with many traditional yoga's are totally absent in Kriya Yoga technique. The scientific technique of Kriya Yoga is taught by my authorized acharyas. This spiritual practice taught by Lahiri Mahasaya is most suitable for householders. The simple and easy breath control prescribed in the Kriya technique restores lost equilibrium and paves the way for salvation. But its practice needs the guidance of a Self-realized guru. The pure oxygen breathed in this process purifies the inner mechanism of the body, activates the limbs, and increases the appetite. It gives strength and youth to the body and memory, patience, and brilliance to the mind. It purifies the body, mind, intellect, and life simultaneously. No dietary restrictions are needed for this process. Sincere practice of Kriya enables one to experience the touch sensation, sound, vibration, and light-flash of the divinity inside one's own body and helps to elevate the mind into supramental consciousness. This is not Japa Yoga, nor is there any strain in holding of the breath. This Kriya Yoga is a very simple yoga and the highway of common religion. It is the quickest means of success. It gives mathematical results. This Kriya Yoga is an easy, cheap, simple, and sure practice.

This technique can be practiced without any restrictions of caste, creed, age, or gender. Any boy or girl above thirteen years of age can practice; even a person of seventy-five will derive a good deal of benefit from it. This Kriya Yoga will enable one to develop a healthy brain, keen mind, and prompt understanding.

Kriya Yoga definitely brings the message of hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless, strength to the weak, understanding to the dull-headed, peace to the broken-hearted, energy and ability to the fatigued, and salvation to the spiritual seekers. If these benefits and divine powers are not achieved after practicing Kriya Yoga, then know for certain that it is not the real Kriya Yoga technique.

'Kriya Yoga' are Sanskrit words, a combination of two root words. One is Kriya and the other is yoga. In the word Kriya there are two syllables: kri and ya. Kri means to pursue your work in daily life and ya means to be ever aware of the invisible God who is abiding in you and is directing and accomplishing work through you. Thus, the word Kriya signifies that you lead your daily life as directed from your brain and at the same time, watch the invisible God who inspires your brain to direct. Without the invisible Being, your brain cannot function. A dead person cannot think because the invisible soul is not there. So it is necessary to remember that each and every thought comes from the invisible Self within. If you perceive that the indwelling Self is the sole doer in you, that He Himself is functioning in the body, then Self-realization is attained.

The second word, 'yoga,' literally means union of the visible body with the invisible body. This union is always present in everyone. No one can separate the invisible body from the visible body. The invisible body means the living soul who sees through the eyes, hears through the ears, smells and inhales through the nose, talks through the mouth, walks with the legs, and does all the actions through the body. The invisible body is the most important, for it controls volition. Yet, without the visible body, the invisible body cannot function nor operate in the material world.

Here the question arises: if the invisible body - the living God - is always within us, why do we not perceive this living presence of God in all actions? The answer is that the invisible body is lying hidden in the jungle of matter. With the Kriya Yoga technique we can cut through this jungle and cultivate the wasteland that is remaining in the spinal column. Then the dormant spiritual energy, kundalini, awakens and we realize the eternal presence of the living, yet invisible, God who is functioning through all our actions.

The invisible body, by its extroverted nature, deludes us into a material consciousness that is composed of the sensations received through the five sense telephones (eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue) and also through the mind, intellect, and self centered thought. These are our enemies. They are continually, pulling us down into the quicksand of delusion, illusion, and error. The result is that we cannot perceive that God is within us. But, if we cultivate super consciousness and awareness of the inner Self through the proper Kriya Yoga technique, we will know that the visible body is only a projection of the invisible body.

Normally, human beings do not believe in God. Even if they do believe, they are still often filled with doubts. They remain engrossed in the material world. It is practically impossible to make them finally believe that God is animating their entire being by abiding within them.

When you go to a movie, the first thing you see is the light on the screen and then the picture in this light. You become amused and absorbed with the picture, although the story told in that movie is not real. But you do not see the operator who is in the projection room. Similarly, we are all engrossed with this mundane cinema of real life. We do not realize the presence of the living operator who is always present on the top of our head. He is the real, invisible God in every human being.

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An Excerpt from the 'Nectar Drops'

Paramahamsa Hariharananda
If you come to the good company, then automatically you will get many good qualities.
Watch your breath, you will get inner peace.
Follow the master and be a master

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Art of Silence: Part VI

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

Usually the words or the language is considered as the means of communication. However, this is not always so. We can communicate with words as well as with silence. Which is more effective? Suppose, the mother is asking the child to do something and the child does not do it, the mother gets angry, upset. Still the child is not listening to the mother. Then the mother stops talking to express her unhappiness. What will happen then? There is a good chance the child would fall in line and do whatever the mother wanted him or her to do. In silence, we communicate better. If you want to communicate, silence is a better means, particularly if you know how to communicate. There is a prayer to the master: "I bow to that master, who is young and sitting under the banyan tree, and who is teaching in silence to an old student, and the student is getting free from doubts."

We think that by talking a lot, we teach or communicate more. But it is not true. We speak a lot. We use a lot of words to communicate. We try to teach a lot. We explain, we try to explain the scriptures or our ideas in many different ways. But it is only self-entertainment. If you want to teach yourself, be silent. If you want to teach others, silence is the best means of teaching.

We discussed earlier that silence is of two types. One is external silence, which is not speaking, and the other is internal silence. Let us discuss external silence a little bit more. Who speaks more? There is a proverb in English: "An empty vessel makes more noise." Those who are inwardly empty, talk a lot. Those who are inwardly more stable and complete, they speak less. Although they speak less, they work more. In our daily activities we can easily recognize that when we speak more, we work less. Those who really want to work more, they are known as the silent workers. So we need to practice  to be a little more silent in our daily activities.

Let us take an example of the bee or butterfly. The butterfly is restless and the bee is constantly making buzzing sound. Once the bee finds a flower and the flower is full of honey, what will the bee do? It sits down. It makes no more sound as it busily sucks honey. The mind is like a bee. It constantly chatters; it wants to speak with others. Once the mind is more focused, goal-oriented, experiencing real honey within, the mind becomes still. In the Upanishadic mantra, it is described: sarvesham bhutanam ayam atma madhu, the soul is honey in all living beings. The soul is compared with honey, ever sweet. The mind is compared with bee. Is your mind eager to taste the sweetness of the honey of the soul?  External silence is of two types: to talk less and to talk whenever necessary.

Sometimes people have the wish to observe silence. During this time they often waste a lot of paper in writing. When Baba had students remain in seclusion and in silence for their spiritual development, there was a tendency for them to want to write something. Baba would say no. It is very difficult in the beginning to be silent because of the inner  urge to communicate. Ramana Maharshi, a great sage in India, spoke very little. He spoke only when asked something and when he thought it necessary to reply.

Who is a fool? A foolish person is defined in a Sanskrit proverb as: anahut pravishyati, one who comes without being invited. Aprushto bahubhashate, one speaks a lot, even if he or she is not asked. Avisvase visvasyati, trust people who cannot be trusted. Those  who speak a lot are foolish. Those who speak less can be wise. To speak less, and whenever it is necessary, is a worthy ideal to cultivate. One should not use the tongue unnecessarily.

So the soul is honey within. The mind is like a bee. If the mind is like a bee, it will search for honey in flowers. If the mind is like a fly, it will look for dirty things. How is your mind? Is your mind like a bee or a fly? If you really want to grow spiritually, be very sincere with yourself. Be honest with yourself. Analyze yourself. Look at the tendency of your mind. What types of thoughts are coming to you? What type of company do you like? Which type of talk do you like to entertain? What do you discuss with your friends? Honestly analyze and be very strict with yourself about what you speak and how you speak, and whatever you do, do it consciously. The mind is like a bee, and when the bee of the mind sits on a flower and sips the honey, the mind becomes more tranquil.

Inner silence means to decrease the quantity of thoughts. Even when we sit to meditate, with eyes closed, tongue rolled up, how many thoughts are coming? What types of thoughts are coming? If I am here with eyes closed for God alone, why would I allow other emotions to come into my life? Be strict. Thoughts will come, but if you flow with the thoughts, then you have shifted from your point of concentration. Whenever a thought comes, be a witness and observe it, and immediately bow, mentally remembering God. Pray: "O God, I don't need any thoughts."

During guided meditation classes, students often do not follow the instructions. They do the opposite. It is the nature of a restless mind to make you disobedient. Meditation classes teach one to be obedient and humble. But the mind does not want to cooperate. The teacher says one thing, the mind does something else. How then can we learn? It is not so easy to learn in life. In Hindu mythology, it is said that thousands of years of meditation are necessary to train and discipline our minds and to decrease the quantity of thoughts. If the mind is peaceful, you are peaceful. When your activities are peaceful, you will be successful. Silence brings concentration. Many people, including students, complain that they cannot concentrate. When you are determined to do something, you have to stick with it until you finish the task. But mind is not cooperative. It will distract you from the task by suggesting that you get up to drink a little water, look out the window, watch the television, go to kitchen, prepare tea, and so on. This shows how restless we are. Even when you are trying to stay focused, the hands and legs will move. This is the manifestation of a restless mind.

If you want to increase the power of concentration within yourself, first decrease your talk. When you speak less, you can see the nature of your mind. When you speak, you don't know how the mind is running and restless. When you don't talk, you can easily see the restlessness of the mind. Silence increases the power of concentration. If you want to deeper your meditation, observe silence a little longer. Silence and seclusion help quiet the mind.

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An Excerpt from the Book 'River of Compassion'

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

Chapter 6
Acharya to Swami
Acharya of Karar Ashram, Puri

Karar Ashram founded by Priyanath Karar (Swami Shriyukteshwarji's pre-monastic name) in 1903 is a place of Kriya Yoga practice, meditation and spiritual enlightenment. Swami Shriyukteshwar regularly visited this ashram and stayed several months at a time with many monks and disciples who accompanied him. He was a very strict, disciplined master who made everyone follow the routine of ashram life. He breathed his last on the premises in 1936.

After the mahasamadhi of Shriyukteshwarji, Paramahamsa Yogananda became the head of Karar Ashram and Swami Satyananda became the acting head in the absence of Yoganandajji. Yoganandaji, after initiating Brahmachari Sudhir into monastic life in the name of Swami Sevananda, appointed him as the Swami-in-charge of the ashram, Acharya of Karar Ashram. Sevanandaji continued in this capacity till 1950. He was helping Brahmachari Rabinarayan in every respect.

During the period of his sadhana from 1938-48, Brahmachari Rabinarayan also looked after the development of Karar Ashram, his holy abode of spiritual practice and realization.

Apart from regular meditation, the Ashram also managed a school for children. The name of the school was Yukteshwar Vidyapitha. Brahmachari Rabinarayan also spent some of his leisure time teaching the students English grammar. The old students still remember his inimitable way of teaching. Because of his love and divinity, he was dear to all.

Brahmachari Rabinarayan had regular correspondence with his beloved Guru and guide Paramahamsa Yogananda. Paramahamsaji was aware of his disciple's progress and other activities. In the year 1950, he appointed Brahmachari as the Acharya of Karar Ashram. Acharya means one who is rector and preceptor of the Ashram, who guides others on the spiritual path, initiating true seekers through his exemplary character and idealistic behavior.

From 1950 on, Brahmachari Rabinarayan took an active role in bringing about a complete transformation of the Ashram. Until then the Ashram had no boundary walls, and the grounds were full of thorn bushes. The samadhi place of Shriyukteshwar was a hut without walls. The financial situation was not very sound. Brahmachariji wrote to Paramahamsaji about all these things. Looking at the constructive outlook of Brahmachariji, he sent some donation to construct the samadhi shrine of Shriyukteshwarji, his guru-preceptor. In 1951, under the direct supervision of Brahmachariji and with the assistance of Sananda Lal Ghosh, the younger brother of Paramahamsa Yogananda, a beautiful temple for Shriyukteshwar was constructed on the samadhi place of this great yogi, with a blooming lotus on the top. Even now this temple is charged with strong spiritual vibration. With the instructions of Brahmachariji, a beautiful marble carving of Swami Shriyukteshwar in a meditative pose was made in Benares and installed in this temple.

Brahmachari Rabinarayan was a dynamic personality, a realized yogi, an affectionate teacher, proficient in astrology, palmistry, well versed in scriptures, with a deep spiritual insight, a manager, a gardener (with good knowledge of landscaping), a mason, a writer, a singer, and also a doctor.

The ashram land was triangular in shape, looking like a sand hill At that time only two complexes were there, one the school building called Vidyapith, and the other a two-storied residential block. Both the buildings were not in good condition due to lack of maintenance. In a short period of time all these buildings were renovated. A beautiful pathway from the entrance of the Ashram to the samadhi shrine and from the samadhi shrine to the upper part of the land was constructed by Brahmachariji himself.

In his leisure time he came out, even when he was observing silence, and spent some time in making this footpath with his own hands using bricks and mortar. The blazing rays of the sun did not disturb him in his sincere work. While he worked, a visitor came everyday and was holding an umbrella over his head to protect Brahmachariji from the scorching sun chanting, "Om Namah Shivaya" (1 bow to Shiva). He perceived Lord Shiva in Brahmachariji. But this made him uncomfortable. He wrote a small note to the visitor requesting him not to come daily and if he had something to discuss, to come on Sunday at a particular time to talk with him.

Brahmachariji also had a boundary wall built around the ashram. Soon a new building with a guest room and a meditation hall were also constructed. The rest of the open land served as grounds for mass congregation and accommodated several hundred people at satsanga (spiritual congregation) meetings.

The ashram land, which was previously barren and full of thorns and weeds, constantly eroded during monsoon rains, was transformed into a beautiful garden. The teacher, the students and other ashramites spent some of their time in seva (selfless service with love and devotion) and helped in all these projects. The ashram became vibrant with spirituality and beauty. The name of the locality was Swargadwar, meaning the door to heaven. Karar Ashram became a 'beauty spot', a real Swargadwar in a short time.

Realizing the need for a teacher of Kriya Yoga in the Ashram and having known the spiritual attainment of Brahmachari Rabinarayan, Paramahamsa Yogananda empowered him in the year 1951 to teach Kriya Yoga to sincere seekers.

From that time onwards he has been working hard for the spiritual upliftment of the disciples. He is a Guru with a difference. The work of the Guru is not just uttering a mantra in the ear of the disciple, but to help bring inner transformation in the life of a seeker. Purifying the body, he initiates and guides and helps the disciples for the simultaneous development of body, mind, intellect and soul. He has been working tirelessly to make his disciples highly advanced in the spiritual path.

He is a child with children, young with the youth, and wise with the aged. He is like a mother, father, friend, philosopher and guide to all who come near him.

Paramahamsa Yogananda was planning to visit India in 1952. He wrote to his friend and brother monk, Swami Satyananda about this. He had the wish to see the Karar Ashram of his beloved Guru in its new form. He has expressed it to his younger brother Sanandlal Ghosh (Gora Da) through letters.

In March 1952, Brahmachariji was visiting his parents in his hometown of Habibpur in West Bengal, India. He was meditating and had a strange vision. He got up from meditation and described it to his learned father - who said that it indicated the physical departure of a great Guru.

Brahmachariji immediately left for Puri. As soon as he reached the ashram, he heard the news of the "Mahasamadhi" of Paramahamsa Yogananda, which occurred on March 7th.

In 1952, Swami Satyananda became "Sadhu Sabhapati," the permanent President of the Ashram and continued till his mahasamadhi. Brahmachari Rabinarayan assisted him in making the ashram efficient and beautiful.

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An Excerpt from the Book 'Path of Love'

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

II. Love of God in Creation

Being always free, I am tied with the rope of love of the devotees. Being invincible, I have won, being eternally free, I am a captive of my devotees.
— Adipurana

How was the world created, from where and by whom? When we observe that the universe is a changing phenomenon and all creatures are born and die in a cycle, we realize that there is no independent existence.

Where does the world come from and what is its origin?

The Taittiriya Upanishad (III. 1.1) says:

yatova imani bhutani jayante yena jatani jivanti yatprayantyabhisam visanti tadvijijnasasva tad brahmeti

"That from which the entire creation emanates, in which it lives and into which it dissolves, seek to know that. That is Brahman."

CAUSE AND EFFECT

Every effect has a cause. During the cause of creation, three essential factors are needed, (1) the material cause, (2) the instrumental cause and (3) the efficient cause.

The material cause speaks of the necessary substance which is used for a particular thing, for example gold in ornaments, cotton in clothes, paper in books, etc.

The instrumental cause tells us what is needed to produce or to create something, for example a carpenter or goldsmith needs many tools to produce his craft.

The efficient cause is none other than the skill or the talent inherent in producing anything.

In the Vedanta, three types of examples are given to describe and to understand the process of creation.

1. The first example is that of milk and yogurt. Milk is the material cause out of which yogurt is made but it cannot be converted back to milk.

2. 'Hatake katakadivat'; like gold and gold ornaments. A variety of ornaments can be created from gold, just as various names and forms are projected into the Absolute, or Brahman.

This second example tells us that the same substance is found in the gold as in the gold ornaments. But to make the ornament you need a 'maker', a goldsmith who, with his skill, converts the gold into an ornament. Everything that is created has an efficient cause. In this example the efficient cause is the maker, who is the goldsmith, and the material cause is the gold. Gold and the gold ornaments have basically the same material in them so the ornaments can be melted back into gold.

3. The third example is that of the spider and its web. The spider weaves web with its own saliva, lives inside its web and finally makes the web into a ball and swallows it. Here the maker, the material and the web are one and the same. Thus the efficient cause and the material cause are also the same.

God teaches through examples, in the Mundaka Upanishad (1.1.7), it is said:

yathornanabhih srjate grhnate ca
yatha prthivydm ausadhayah sambhavanti yatha satah purusat kesalomani
tathaksarat sambhavatiha visam

"As a spider sends forth and draws in (its thread), as herbs grow on the earth, as the hair (grows) on the head and the body of a living person, so from the Imperishable arises the universe."

Just as the spider is both the efficient and the material cause, so Brahman is the efficient and the material cause of his creation. Brahman creates the world from Himself. All names and forms are the manifestations of the one formless Brahman, just as the ocean and the waves are the same water. God Himself is the material, the maker and the creation. The formless God is present in His entire creation in all forms and under all names. Creation is the manifestation of God.

FOUR TYPES OF CREATION

When we look at God's creation we see that it constitutes four basic types of life. The first is life born from seeds or udbhija, the plant kingdom. The second is svedaja, or whatever is born out of sweat or moisture, like fungus and bacteria. The third is andaja, what comes out from eggs, like the birds and reptiles. Finally, there is pindaja, what is born out of a fetus like the higher mammals. Each type is progressively a higher form of life. In all of God's creation the human being is considered the most evolved.

There are some things that are common to plants, animals and humans.

They all have a body. Most plants and trees are stationary but can grow upward and sideways, some grow under the ground. Animals can move, many can also build nests and hiding places to protect themselves from the inclement weather and fierce predators. Sparrows build their nests hanging from the trees, which look very delicate but can withstand strong winds. Each living body has six qualities: birth, existence, growth, maturity, decay and death.

They all have a mind. In plants there is some play of the mind. They know when winter is approaching or when summer is coming. Many botanists now agree that plants can recognize the gardener who takes care of them, and respond accordingly. In the "Autobiography of a Yogi", by Paramahamsa Yogananda, there is an episode of a botanist who could grow a thorn-less cactus not genetically, but by changing its nature. Those of us who have pets know that animals can think, respond and express their emotion. Human beings have an intricate mind. The human mind has immense potential for manifestation and development.

They all have an intellect. In plants, the intellect is almost dormant. In animals it is developed to a certain extent, as animals can be trained. The human intellect has unlimited capacity, but unfortunately most people do not know how to use it. Intellect is the faculty of decision, through rationality and reasoning.

They all need food. Plants eat, animals eat and we eat. Plants and animals have specific food. The deer eats grass and the tiger eats deer. If you give cooked food to a monkey he will not eat it. The human being has the choice of many kinds of food, and research keeps continuing in the development of new foods.

They all need sleep. Plants, animals and human beings need sleep. There are many plants that close their leaves at night and open them during the day. In India there is a custom of not plucking leaves or flowers and not cutting down trees at night.

They all feel fear. Animals and humans have an intrinsic fear of losing their life. No one likes to die. Humans fear death but also fear losing happiness, youth, health and wealth. We are afraid of the transient nature of all things.

They all feel a need for procreation. Plants, animals and human beings instinctively want to continue to propagate life.

Most important of all they all want love. A plant loves and wants love, an animal loves and wants to be loved, and the human being loves and wants to be loved to an even greater degree. Love is the highest visible manifestation of life.

God created birds to fly in the sky, fish to swim and dive in the water, reptiles and other serpents to live in holes in the earth and wild animals to roam freely in the dense forests. But it is only human beings whom God created in His own image so that they could have the supreme skill, which no other animals possessed, the power to think and to create. Men can fly like birds, swim like fish, and go underground into deep mines they have dug. Man has utilized this skill, but unfortunately, he has not tried hard enough to go to the real source, to experience the state of inner fulfillment.

The potential for creativity in man, is only a reflection of the creative quality of God, hidden in all. Love is the cause of creation, its sustenance and sometimes even the cause of its destruction.

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Elements of Spiritual Development: Part VII

By Swami Shuddhananda Giri

We need to be always at the feet of Gurudev and at the feet of God. When we devote ourselves at the feet of the master, it makes us a disciple. To devote ourselves at the feet of God, makes us a devotee. You don't know the feet of God because the mind cannot comprehend it. But the mind can think of the feet of Gurudev, the feet of the preceptor. The more we devote ourselves at the feet of Gurudev, more and more we are connected to the master. The blessings of the master, blessings of Gurudev, removes the ego from the disciple. It is not in your power to make yourself free from ego, from your own self. It is only the blessings of the master that can free you from ego. When you are free from ego, even the sattvic ego – "I am practicing. I am doing. I am studying. I am doing the satsang. I am meditating. I am contemplating." – will vanish. When the ego is less and less, there will be more love and devotion in the heart. It is only the blessings of the master, which can make us free from the ego. When a disciple is free from the ego, the disciple becomes a devotee.

A devotee is a disciple whose life is not controlled by him, but is completely controlled by God, at the feet of God. We have to be very sincere in our lives. We are passing through this stage of being a disciple.

When you practice a spiritual technique and discipline as taught by the master, you will attain some knowledge, happiness, and calmness. There is some development of awareness, bliss, love that we get. When you analyze what you get, is it our knowledge? Is it knowledge that develops the ego or that brings humbleness? This is the question. This is the key factor. Surely when you meditate you get some knowledge. True knowledge is that which brings humbleness to life. If your spiritual practice brings knowledge that makes you feel that "I know something", then that means you are developing the ego. The development of ego of "I am practicing something. I am getting" keeps you from becoming a devotee. This happens to many people. Many people practice for years, but still they have a distinction that "I am practicing. I am a better person. I am a spiritual person, while other family members and friends who are not practicing, are not. When we analyze, compare, and judge in this way, a sense of superiority is created within, which causes the ego to get stronger. When the ego gets stronger, the love and devotion will not manifest.

So your life as a disciple is not to continue as a disciple, you are a disciple, you have to become a devotee of God. To get to be a devotee of the God, you should finish with this ego. Real knowledge is that which brings some humbleness. Real knowledge is infinite, while the mind is limited and cannot think. The ego is also limited, it cannot do. Spiritual life is a journey. You dive into the ocean of infinity. Analyze what is your inner development. Is there more softness in your heart or is the ego getting stronger?  Unconsciously in spiritual practice, there is the development of ego, which results in no more softness in the heart. How can the heart open if it is hard like a rock? The heart should be like a lotus, like a flower, ready to open to receive the love of God.

So you should be very careful about what you are getting. Vidya vinayam dadati – real knowledge brings humbleness. If your so-called knowledge is giving you stronger ego, then that knowledge is not true knowledge. You will not know the infinite, and the more you know, the more ignorant you will become. This is a fact. The more that you know, the more you will realize that there is much more to be known. When you practice Kriya meditation for three to five hours, you get a lot of bliss. And when you get a lot of bliss through your own practice, through your own effort, through your own meditation, what did you realize? – This is not enough. This meditation is not enough. There is something beyond. The bliss and love of God experienced in meditation is not enough. There is something beyond. You realize your sincerity is not enough and what you know is also nothing. What we need is to know is infinite. We cannot know all.

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The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 17, Verses 24-25)

By Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Verse 24

tasmad aum ity udahrtya
yajnadanatapahkriyah
pravartante vidhanoktah
satatam brahmavadinam

Translation

Therefore, acts of sacrifice and penance are always commenced uttering the syllable aum by the brahmavadi (the noble souls), as prescribed by the vedic injunctions.

Metaphorical Interpretation

In the Taittiriya Upanishad (2:1:1), it says, etasmad atmana akasah sambhutah : "From the supreme Self, the sky is created." This ether or sky symbolizes the sound-shabda mulakah akasha. The creation started from God and went to the ether, then air, fire, water, and earth. Ether being the first creation and the cause of sound, through that other elements came into existence.

In the Bible (John 1:1), it says, "In the beginning, there was the word. The word was with God. That word is God." This sound is the aum or amen or amin. This sound is God. It is therefore called nada brahma or shabda brahma. But everyone must clearly understand that aum cannot be uttered or chanted with the mouth. Only with deep concentration, when one introverts his awareness into the state of the vacuum, can one hear the continuous, nonstop aum or amen sound. This sound is all-pervading, but a restless mind cannot perceive this sound. The ether is full of sounds of different wavelength that can be received with the help of electronic devices such as transistor radios, etc. Similarly, although this divine sound nadabrahma (aum) is everywhere, it cannot be perceived until the mind has been made pure by Kriya Yoga meditation.

By practicing Kriya Yoga, people can remain detached and can merge in God-consciousness, during every breath. They can feel the extreme divine love. They can know the indwelling Self. Then they are called brahmavadi, "those who are always after God, truth, and the soul in every thought, word, and deed."

Verse 25

tad ity anabhisamdhaya phalam yajnatapahkriyah
danakriyas ca vividhdh kriyante moksakanksibhih

Translation

Realizing tat (that) and without aiming at the fruits, acts of yajna (sacrifice), tapas (austerity), and dana (charity) are performed in various ways by those who desire liberation.

Metaphorical Interpretation

In the previous verse, details about aum were explained; now the Lord speaks about tat.

"What is tat?' Tat is "that" in English. Here, tat symbolizes God alone, the absolute, formless, all-pervading Brahman. In the Chhandogya Upanishad (6:8:7), it says, tat twam asi: "That thou art". Every living being is the presence of the living God in the form of the indwelling Self. In each moment, the seekers of salvation and liberation should feel aham brahmasmi: "I am God" (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1:4:10), and "l am that I am" (Exodus 3:14). They should maintain this inner attitude of divineness, conscious of the living power of God in every ingoing and outgoing breath, practicing yajna in every activity and every thought and disposition. They must love God. That is tat.

Dana means to give. Every person should concentrate his mind in the pituitary and fontanel on the living presence of God so that their dana (giving) will be extremely spiritual.

Tapa means to be established in tapa loka. In the gayatri mantra, the seven lokas are described.: bhuh, bhuvah, svah, mahah, janah, tapah and satyam, corresponding to the seven centers. Topa loka is in the pituitary.

So, this verse means that one must perceive God through the practice of Kriya Yoga by concentrating completely and absolutely in the Pituitary and fontanel during every breath. Then, one can hear the non-stop aum sound without any deviation or distraction. One can perceive God as a moving sensation throughout the whole body and in every work, and one can realize that the soul is the sole doer.

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Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

Interpretation by Paramahmsa Prajnanananda

Sutra 39

yathabhimata dhyanat va

Word Meaning

yatha - as, according to, like
abhimata - one's own choice, opinion
dhyanat - by mediation
va - or, also

Translation

Also by meditation of one's own choice.

Commentary of Shri Lahari Mahasaya:

One also can attain that state by following the path where the mind gets dissolved.

Metaphorical Interpretation:

A different art of cultivating concentration and calmness is discussed in the sutras. 

Here Sage Patanjali is speaking of meditation.  Meditation is the means of a higher level of experience and realization. It opens the door of spiritual life. The art of meditation is manifold.  Depending upon one's own nature, tendencies, and samskaras, one should follow a path of meditation.

It must be clear to the seeker that there are various techniques of concentration, but there is no technique of meditation. Just as sleep is a state and it naturally descends to a person, so also meditation becomes a natural flow in a person who is really tuned into it. 

O Seeker!

Try to attain that ability of meditation.  Once you get it, then your life is enriched with it.  Meditation needs no effort - it requires "to be." It does not matter if the eyes are closed or open. What does matter is what level of awareness and awakening you are in. 

Be regular in your path.

Follow it with implicit faith and love!

Jesus said, "I am the goal and the path together", and that is meditation. 

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