Category Archives: Meditation

Why do we chant 108 repetitions of mantras as a minimum?

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In our spiritual bodies, we have 108 major nadis and hundreds of smaller ones. They are much like our major and minor nerves in our physical bodies. As we accumulate karma it gets stuck in our nadis. Sanskkrit Mantras and pranayama work to unclog the nadis. So we chant 108 Om and other mantras as a minimum to ameliorate our karma. The more we chant, the more the mantras can work in our nadis and chakras to help us.

Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga

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Yoga

Yoga (union of soul and Para Brahman/God) is not limited to hatha yoga nor pranayama yoga, which are only 2 of the 8 limbs of Patanjali’s teachings of philosophy. Therefore, it cannot be sufficient. It is a shame that so many schools of yoga in the US do not teach the full 8 limbs of yoga. Many of them do not even know that the teachings are spiritual practices to help one’s soul to liberation.

Philosophical roots and influences

The Yoga Sutras incorporated the teachings of many other Indian philosophical systems prevalent at the time. Samkhya and Yoga are thought to be two of the many schools of philosophy that originated over the centuries that had common roots in the non-Vedic cultures and traditions of India. The orthodox Hindu philosophies of Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, as well as the non-orthodox Nastika systems of Jainism and Buddhism can all be seen as representing one stream of spiritual activity in ancient India, in contrast to the Bhakti traditions and Vedic ritualism which were also prevalent at the same time. The VedantaSramana traditions, and Vedic rituals can be identified with the Jnana marga/path, Bhakti marga and the Karma marga respectively that are outlined in the Bhagavad Gita.

The Eight Limbs

According to Patanjali, the eight limbs of yoga are:

  1. “Yama” — Sanskrit for “moral discipline”
  2. “Niyama” — Sanskrit for “moral observance”
  3. “Asana” — Sanskrit for “body posture”
  4. “Pranayama” — Sanskrit for “breath control”
  5. “Pratyahara” — Sanskrit for “withdrawal of the senses”
  6. “Dharana” — Sanskrit for “concentration”
  7. “Dhyana” — Sanskrit for “meditation”
  8. “Samadhi” — Sanskrit for “bliss”

The physical practice of yoga, asana, is only one step on the path toward a meaningful and purposeful life. These eight steps provide guidelines for moral and ethical actions, self-discipline, and personal spiritual direction. The effects of the eight limbs are cumulative, as each stage prepares you for the next.

Yama

A yama (YAH-mah) is one of a set of ethical standards that offers guidance on how we act toward others. “The Yoga Sutras” lists five yamas:

  • “Ahimsa” — Sanskrit for “non-harming”
  • “Satya” — Sanskrit for “refraining from dishonesty”
  • “Asteya” — Sanskrit for “non-stealing”
  • “Brahmacharya” — Sanskrit for “wise use of sexual energy”
  • “Aparigraha” — Sanskrit for “non-possessiveness”

Niyama

Similar to the yamas, the niyamas are also codes of conduct for living — only this time, what matters is how you treat yourself. A ni’yama  is one of a set of moral observances toward oneself. Turning your awareness inward helps prepare you for the later, more internally focused limbs. “The Yoga Sutras” lists five ni’yamas:

  • “Saucha” — Sanskrit for “purity”
  • “Santosha” — Sanskrit for “contentment”
  • “Tapas” — Sanskrit for “self-discipline”
  • “Svadhyaya” — Sanskrit for “self-study”
  • “Ishvara pranidhana” — Sanskrit for “surrender to a higher source”

Asana

Literally meaning “seat” or “sitting posture,” asana refers to a body position used in a yoga practice. Through practicing asanas, you learn discipline and concentration which are necessary for the later limbs. Moving and stretching your body also helps you prepare for long periods of seated meditation.

Pranayama

Although prana’yama  can be translated as “restraint of the breath,” it refers to more than simply holding your inhalations. In yoga, the life force energy is called “prana.” Practicing prana’yama includes yogic breath control and regulation techniques. These exercises are intended to manipulate the flow of prana in order to bring about steadiness of mind and changes in consciousness.

Through these first four limbs, you learn to control your “outer” world of personality and senses. This emerging awareness of your true self helps to prepare yourself for the deep, inner journey of the next four limbs.

Pratyahara

Literally meaning “withdrawal of the senses,” pratya’hara  is the practice of tuning out the distractions of the outside world. Focusing your mind inward allows you to detach from the trials and fluctuations of life and see their challenges in a new light. You can view your habits and patterns more objectively, becoming aware of things the way they are, instead of reacting to the world.

Dharana

Dhar’ana  is the practice of concentration or complete attention. It’s the ability to focus entirely on a single point — to be completely in the moment. Once you have withdrawn your senses through pratya’hara, you can slow down your thoughts and concentrate on a single thing. Athletes often refer to this mental space as being “in the zone.” You can practice dhar’ ana by bringing your attention to a single sensation, object, or thought. Some examples include focusing on:

  • Your breath
  • The flicker of a candle’s flame
  • An image of a deity, saint, or inspirational figure
  • The repetition of a sound, syllable, or phrase
  • A value or virtue, such as love, compassion, or joy

Dhyana

With dh’yana  you turn your focus entirely inward. This is the practice of deep meditation to attain self-realization. In this second-to-last stage of yoga, you become aware of the flow of all life and existence. Unlike the single-pointed concentration of dharana, dhyana is awareness without a singular focus. Your mind becomes still and your thoughts cease. You simply are.

Samadhi

Literally meaning “a putting together,” sa’madhi is supreme bliss, the highest stage of meditation has three stages. Also understood as spiritual ecstasy or enlightenment, samadhi is the state in which you transcend your lower self and merge with the universe. You become aware of your connection to all living things, to your higher self, and to the Divine. The freedom, joy, and fulfillment brought forth through samadhi creates peace, internally and in the world. It is the ultimate “goal” of yoga.

Spiritual Practice

Practicing the Yoga Path will improve your life.  It does not have to be done excluding the other paths taught in the Bhavadgita nor the Vedic ceremonies.  Sanatana Dharma, the ancient righteous path, has rich traditions for Self-Realization no matter which path or paths we take.

Particle Fever and Mind

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I was watching Particle Fever, a PBS program about the physicists at CERN trying to get the particles in their huge collider to smash into each other.  This was a huge project of many years to figure out how with the use of magnets to make it work.

Super Symmetry and multiverse.  There was a wonderful graphic showing the multiverse as almost entirely space with occasional universes like ours.  It looked like what the idea of reality could be with only 1/4 of all being made manifest where we are and in other spots.  Super Symmetry is the idea that there is something, some force that is not random keeping the known universe together, otherwise it would disintegrate at some point.

When the physicists discussed the “black holes”, they were positing that they would be made up of particles yet to be discovered.  Clearly, they are unable to imagine anything in the universe that would not be some kind of matter.

Physicists are for the most part materialists, not being able to imagine any alternative.

Yet the Vedas clearly say that Brahman creates matter of varying densities in each Yuga that are expressed in 100 manvantaras of cycles of 3-1/2 billion years, and then an equal amount of time in which the manifest universe has been withdrawn.  We do not have the ability to imagine what an unmanifest field could be, but that does not mean that it does not happen from time to time.  We know that 3/4 of the multiverse never manifests, but we cannot imagine that either.  We cannot imagine in our human state what Brahman is.

Man – Manu, manifest, manvantara.  This is not a coincidence of syllables but rather an underlying concept.  Man in any English or Sanskrit word means mind at its root. The manifest universe is created by Mind.

Man is distinguished from animals by mind, a concept much more encompassing than intellect.  In the Book of Genesis, Jehova/Yaweh/the All in All is said to have created humans in his image.  Brahman is the entire field-without-end of Mind, Consciousness, and we like Brahman are more than animals, we share Mind, Consciousness.

When Jesus says to his followers that whatever he has done (with his siddhis,) they can do greater things, he is talking about the ability of Mind (his and ours) to manifest our desires.  This can be done through directing our shakti at the higher chakras (3-6) by our minds to make manifest. This ability can be used in prayer to make healing manifest, etc.

[Woman is not a word dependent on male superiority, as some Second Wave feminists have thought, but rather mind with a womb.  The circle plus graphic is very clear, as is the male circle and arrow showing life generation potential.]

 

Are Any Humans Born Enlightened?

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Yes. Some souls are already enlightened before incarnation.

When the avatars of Vishnu like (7) Rama, (8) Krishna, and (9) Gautama Buddha take a body, as emanations of the Divine they teach us how to be enlightened. Rama and Krishna were known as Divine as children. Gautama acted a teaching role by acting as if he were an ordinary prince, who took up meditating out of misery or sympathy with humans in misery. There are other amsha (partial) avatars, who come to aid humanity between the times of the great avatars, such as Uddhava, who promised to incarnate often in the Dark Age until Kalki, the 10th Avatara, will come.

When sadgurus take a body, they are already enlightened beings who come to teach and bless humanity. There are others who are enlightened avadhuts (beings from other realms,) who come to bring spiritual light to all nature and sentient beings. They choose to live anonymous lives either among us or in seclusion. Sadgurus Rama Krishna and Ramana Maharshi were born enlightened, but in this Dark Age, they needed to show humans how to become enlightened in the same way Gautama did, pretending to be regular humans and later showing their great spiritual power and teaching. I have had the privilege of spending time with four sadgurus, and no matter what personality mask they wear, there is no personal ego there at all, only a desire to serve the Divine Mission.

There are other highly developed souls who incarnate still seeking enlightenment. While all souls are already enlightened, our mind-ego is not. We seek to remember who we really are and keep at it until finally we annihilate our own egos through vairagya (detachment from our emotions, and finally from our own ego.)
Souls incarnate at various levels of development of the ego-mind-personality. Our world is a very dynamic place. Some souls are coming for the first time from the lower lokaas, and they need to learn how to navigate life in the lowest lokaa of light instead of the over materialism of the lower lokaas.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle between being newbies and getting to the higher levels of samadhi. We come back again and again trying to develop ourselves spiritually. Some of us are very entranced by what glitters and what we can possess, taking longer to wake up and try for enlightenment.

Others are quick learners. Some of those quick learners are souls which have come from other astral planets specifically to rise from stasis to enlightenment via the chakras, which are only found in humans.

When souls have reached enlightenment, they have a choice of merging with God, pouring the teacup back into the Ocean of Bliss, or pledging to keep coming back to aid other souls in reaching enlightenment. This is the Dasa vow in Sanatana Dharma and the Bodhisattva vow in Buddhism. Either choice is fine, and we will choose according to our nature.

What Is Enlightenment Beyond The Four Stages of Samadhi?

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An enlightened person has gone through all the 4 stages of samadhi and achieved complete vairagya, detachment from all worldly things then one’s own ego, sense of self as separate from the whole divine universe. At that point, the human agreement of reality falls away, and we see Reality, Satya, Truth, That Which Is. The convention of linear time also drops away, so that past, present and future are perceived simultaneously. This may have been momentarily glimpsed on the way of the levels of samadhi.

Although it is impossible for those not enlightened to imagine what that means, nevertheless there are a very small number of beings here to help us who are able to cope with all that information and still appear “normal.” True sad/satgurus are among those beings. There are others who do not take on the job of guru but find other ways to help in the universe (not just Bhu Lokaa/Earth Plane.)

The Route to Enlightenment

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The Route to Enlightenment

Traditional Hindu practices are one very effective path to enlightenment.

Yoga means union (with the Divine.) Raja Yoga, the highest form for seeking enlightenment, is a threefold path: Jnana Yoga (seeking knowledge,) Bhakti Yoga (devotion to the Divine from the heart,) and Seva (service to the guru, service to others in the way Mother Theresa served God by serving others.)

Knowledge/jnana can be sought by reading, going to talks, and also by meditation. Relying on the left brain is not helpful, because rationalizing gets in the way. If you can sit and listen in meditation with your creative right brain you will gain knowledge. Paying attention to your intuition is also very important.

Devotion/bhakti is seeking the Divine through love.  Your devotion to the Divine and feeling the love and goodness of the Divine towards you (and all others.) is the path. If you can seek unity in understanding with your heart that all of creation is made up of the Divine energy, so all of your being is made up of the Divine loving energy, as are all other creatures, plants, etc., then you truly understand the nature of the Divine and our relationship with it.

Seva/service to others is not only good for the others but good for us, because it makes us think not only of ourselves. In the realm of ameliorating our negative karma, the good we do does put out good energy in the world, thus ameliorating the karma. When we serve God by serving others like Mother Theresa, our seva is also a form of Bhakti.

In terms of methodology, pranayama (breathing techniques) is good for both body and mind. Deep breathing helps with physical health. It is clearing and assists with meditation. Chanting mantras works to improve our lives and reduce our karma. Mantra meditation is easier than silent meditation, because concentrating on the mantra and its purpose keeps the mind from wandering.

Satsang (chanting and discussion with other spiritual people) is very helpful on several levels. On the most basic level, hanging out with other spiritual people leads us in the right direction rather than with those who are not spiritual, not interested or even hostile to spiritual pursuits. Chanting with others, whether spoken or in song, enhances the energy of the mantras chanted. Our progress helps others and vice versa through the vibrations of the Sanskrit mantras being chanted.

Enlightenment is a quest for a lifetime or many lifetimes. If we make progress internally, if we have more satisfaction in life, if we have more peace, then the quest is worth the effort.

How To Reduce Our Karma For A Happier Life and Better Future Life

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We acquire karma by our actions, therefore we must perform good actions towards others in every possible way, including service to others, to reduce it. Mother Teresa is a great role model for devoting a whole life to service to the Divine by serving other people. In our own lives, the small actions of loving kindness by smiling at others genuinely, encouraging others, helping strangers in small ways help both us and the strangers. One of those ways more thought related is to pray for others.

It is an odd habit in humanity that so often the people we are meanest to are our family members, whom we purport to love. Loving kindness definitely begins at home.

Karma is like a clump of negative matter in us. The great sages and seers have given us mantras to chant. Mantras work to ameliorate our karma by breaking up those clumps of negative karma within our Chakras 1–6. Each of the 50 sounds in the Sanskrit alphabet, the Matrika, stimulates a coordinating petal on a particular chakra, thus sanding off a minute bit of karma. A lot of chanting = a lot of sanding, so to speak.

Different mantras work differently in their sound vibration pattern to help us. Some, especially Rama mantras, work to heal us in body and mind. Some mantras are liberation mantras, meaning they are so potent that they reduce our negative karma quickly. Mantras for each of the 9 Planets of Jyotish astrology work to reduce our parabdha karma, that which we are born to work out as expressed in our natal chart. Each planet has different parts of the body that it rules, so if there is illness or planetary conflicts in our natal chart and progressed chart, chanting the planetary mantra to alleviate those conditions is very beneficial.

The Gayatri Mantra is the master mantra, the one that contains all the vibrations of the entire universe.

“Of all mantras, the supreme and the most potent power of powers is the great, glorious Gayatri mantra. It is the support of every seeker after Truth who believes in its efficacy, power and glory, be s/he of any caste, creed, clime or sect. Gayatri is an impregnable spiritual armor, a veritable fortress, that guards and protects her votary, that transforms one into the divine and blesses one with the brilliant light of the highest spiritual illumination.” Sadguru Sant Keshavadas writes in his book, Gayatri, The Highest Meditation.